First off, we have a new “Think Again” column entitled “Free Ride to theFinish Line,” about guess who, which is here.

Second off, I have nothing much to say about the inauguration, in partbecause I just do, and in part because on my way there, I witnessed,from about ten feet away, the person run over by the subway car, and Iwas too upset afterward to actually find my way to the Capitol, thoughwith the way things were, that might not have helped. I listened to thespeech from a chair in a Mexican restaurant, but I did not see it. Still, it was pretty good, I thought.

Here’s Pierce a day early. I’ll have the rest of the mail tomorrow.Thanks for saying hello.



Hey Doc:

“And here I sit so patiently/Waiting to find out what price/Youhave to pay to get out of/Going through all these things twice.”

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: “How Can You Leave Me Now? (The NewOrleans Jazz Band)–I solemnly swear that I will execute my lovefor New Orleans faithfully.

Short Takes:

Part The First: How about we all get together and agree as a nationto take a six-month moratorium on anything that has to do with AbrahamLincoln? Let’s give the poor old soul a rest.

Part The Second: OK, now the bad stuff. That fiasco on Sunday onthe steps of the Lincoln Memorial was so utterly, toweringly, transcendentlylame that you’d have thought Chuck Berry had died as a child. I’m surethe fellow-feeling on the mall was fabulous, but, goddamn, was that aterrible concert. If it weren’t for U2 and the closing hootenanny — Thank Godthat Pete and Bruce decided to sing even the pinko verses, but they at leastshould have invited Arlo up there to sing his pappy’s song with them–it could have been easily confused with my daughter’s seventh-grademusicale.

We couldn’t get ALL of Marian Anderson, instead of Josh (Will Emote For Food) Groban and whoever that woman was? And Bettie Levette doesnot need Jon Bon F**king Jovi to help out on “Change Is Gonna Come,”much less take the last two choruses. James Taylor? We can’t do better thanJames Taylor, who proceeded to sing a song that makes “Sweet Baby James”sound like “I Fought The Law”? A rock-and-roll medley that begins withthe pustulating swill of “American Pie,” and in any case is sung by GarthBrooks? Not a single solitary act from New Orleans? Not one of theMarsalises was free? How about instead of Will I.Am and Sheryl Crowdoing “One Love,” we invite the damn Neville Brothers?

And that’s not even getting to the preposterous spoken wordsegments in which everybody had trouble with the prompters and the echoes. HasTom Hanks shut up yet? It’s a celebration honoring the inauguration of aDemocratic progressive, and yet there’s room for some platitudinousbull**it from Ronald Reagan, but none for, say, the “We shall overcome”section of LBJ’s voting-rights speech? Joe Biden’s Daltrey-esquebellowing was the closest thing the show had to a true rock-and-roll moment. Igotta tell you, post-partisanship sure makes for one lousy show.

Part The Third: I spent some time on Monday and Tuesday monitoringthe superstars of wingnut radio and, my god, are those folks the livingdefinition of “We got nothin'” these days. Laura Ingraham was reduced tosneering at — and I am not making this up, Dr. Freud–the size of thebrush that Obama was using to paint that school on Monday. (Also, everyother call during the time I was listening came from Mississippi orSouth Carolina.) On Tuesday, Rush Limbaugh amused himself by bleeping outObama’s middle name while replaying Obama’s taking of the oath. All the while,of course, a couple of million people danced joyously all around them. Somegarden parties are so big, you don’t even notice the skunks.

Part The Fourth: Things I did not know before Tuesday: that JohnQuincy Adams took the oath with his hand on a volume of constitutionallaw, and not on a Bible. This immediately made him my favorite presidentnamed Adams.

Part The Last: My friend, Bob Ryan, the quintessential Americansportswriter, pointed out that Aretha’s remarkable headgear on Tuesdaywas unquestionably a tribute to the late Bessie Smith. Surprised that never occurred to Gibson or Stephanopolous.

For several years now, I have advocated marching the entireWashington press corps off to a Journalism re-education camp in theSmokies. The bright young cats ‘n kittens at Ye Old House Of Mulch ForBrains, of course, would be at the head of the column. They’ve alreadyproduced what is likely going to remain the most singularly dumbassedanalysis of the entire Obama Era.

This is the distilled essence of what you get when political journalismbecomes only about politics–worse, when it becomes only aboutWashington politics. (And it doesn’t even really succeed at that. Is there an ounce of data proving that President Obama would be advantaged by taking any ofthese idiotic suggestions?) It is also the distilled essence of whathappens to political journalism when so many people who practice itcan’t really write any more. (Which is why we should all give thanks for thelikes of Ryan Lizza at The New Yorker.) Is there any indication in this piece that either author — most notably, the egregious Harris, who debasedhimself forever by trolling for support from that greasy little grifterMatt Drudge–ever have reported anything in their lives, beyond pollingdata and campaign gossip?

What possible resonance does any of thisnonsense have in the life of anyone who lives anywhere else in the country? Anout-of-work factory worker’s going to get better healthcare becauseObama slaps around the AFL-CIO? Do you think any of these people knowsanything about how Social Security actually works in the world? They know it asa political marker, nothing more. They assess its value in terms ofpolitical advantage; they sure as hell don’t assess its value as a social program, since they clearly don’t have the rumor of a clue about that.

Say what you will about the smug, arrogant bright-kid syndrome afflicting The NewRepublic. At the very least, they have people who occasionally get on anairplane for reasons beyond covering a campaign. The Politico is thework of clowns and mountebanks, not journalists. People in this businessshould be laughing at it.