I’ve now a new “Think Again” column called “Official Evidence vs. ‘GutHatred'” here.

It’s about the derision those people who were right about Bush and Iraqcontinue to experience from those who were wrong, inspired by Tom Ridgeand MarcAmbinder. (And p.s., we recall that Ted Kennedy, we are reminded by ourfriends at Thinkprogress.org, called his vote against authorizing theinvasion “the best vote I’ve made in my 44 years in the US Senate.” Wecould not agree more.)

My Nation column, here, iscalled “Novak Without Tears.” You canguess what that’s about.

A (very) short story about a photograph: Back in January 2007, I tookmy kid to Washington to enjoy the festivities surrounding theinauguration of the first ever female speaker of the House, togetherwith a (mostly) Dead reunion that night. Before the concert, I stoppedoff at a reception for my good friend and favorite Congressman, JimMcGovern of Massachusetts. As the kid and I were walking in — she waseight by the way — we were joined at door by the senior senator fromMassachusetts. We said hello and he did that thing that politicians dosometimes in front of kids, which is act like they are thrilled to meetthe great man who is their dad, which was nice given who he was, andall, but even better, he asked us to turn around and go back to his vanso he could introduce the kid to his dog, who was waiting there. We didand then he asked me if I would please take a photo, since this was suchan exciting moment for him. It’s a crappy photograph, as you can see,but one this family will always treasure.

Now, if you have not already, go read this seminal piece by the greatCharles Pierce.

Like everyone else of sanity and decency — this does not mean you, Mr.Limbaugh — I’m pleased that Ted Kennedy got to die in bed of somewhatnatural causes. There’s a letter below about the issue of peoplebringing guns to healthcare rallies where the president speaks. I’vebeen thinking about this. Remember the Bush folks had people arrestedfor wearing unflattering T-shirts or driving with anti-Bushbumper stickers. I used to live near the Washington Hilton, where thepresident always spoke. One day, I was coming back from the gym to myapartment, and the secret service would not allow me to pass the hotelwhile the president was entering. I thought this was annoying, and so Iasked under what law he was allowed to prevent an American citizen fromwalking down the street, unarmed to his own apartment. He said he couldshoot me if he wanted to and so I decided to sit tight.I investigated it a bit and he was right. The secret service are almostall powerful if they are protecting the president. So why are theyletting idiots bring guns to places where the president is speaking justbecause it is not against the law in that state? My guess is that Obamaet al do not want to rile up the NRA for the next mid-term election. NRAhysteria is, more than anything, what caused the Democratic debacle of1994. Of course, this is pure speculation. If anyone actually knows theanswer to this question, please send it along.

Gene Krzyzynski noticed this on WashingtonPost.com:

Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz is a contributor to CNN andhostof its weekly Reliable Sources program, which is part of Stateof theUnion.

Changed to:

Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz is a paid contributor toCNN andhost of its weekly Reliable Sources program, which is part ofStateof the Union.

Curious, huh?

If there is a sadder fate for a newspaper in this world than to belectured, accurately, by Gawker on journalistic ethics, I’m unaware ofit. Congrats to the editorial page of Rupert Murdoch’s Wall StreetJournal for this signal achievement.

This week on Moyers:

Produced by Academy Award winner Alex Gibney (Taxi to the DarkSide,Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) and based on Maggie Mahar’sacclaimed book of the same name, Money-Driven Medicine revealshow aprofit-hungry “medical-industrial complex” has turned healthcare into asystem where millions are squandered on unnecessary tests, unproven andsometimes unwanted procedures and overpriced prescription drugs.

From The HuffPo Investigative Fund:

This weekend, the new Huffington PostInvestigative Fund reported that one of the nation’s mostwidely-used herbicides has been found to exceed federal safety limits indrinking water in at least four states, but water customers have notbeen told and the Environmental Protection Agency has not published theresults. Records that tracked the amount of the weed-killer atrazine inabout 150 watersheds from 2003 through 2008 were obtained by theInvestigative Fund under the Freedom of Information Act. An analysisfound that yearly average levels of atrazine in drinking water violatedthe federal standard at least ten times in communities in Illinois,Indiana, Ohio, and Kansas, all states where farmers rely heavily on theherbicide. In addition, more than 40 water systems in those statesshowed spikes in atrazine levels that normally would have triggeredautomatic notification of customers. In none of those cases wereresidents alerted. In none of those cases were residents notified. Infact, the brochures in their water bills – reviewed for thisreport–contained misleading lower numbers.

Today, the Investigative Fund followed up with a story,revealing that many water utilities across the country are ineffectiveat removing the herbicide from drinking water — and also lack thecapability to filter out other organic material like plasticizers(phathalates), pharmaceutical compounds, PCBs, and alachlor. Utilitiescited the financial crisis, and about 57 are currently planning to suethe makers of atrazine, Syngenta, to recover the costs of removing theweed-killer from their water.

The Investigative Fund has posted the EPA’s five years of raw atrazinedata on their website, here. To watchreporter Danielle Ivory discuss atrazine, the EPA, and how all of thiswas perfectly legal on Democracy Now, click here.


Did you know that The Simpsons is the longest running animatedseries intelevision history? I think it’s also the longest running comedy showever. And it’s still great. Season 12 just came out on DVD. The kid andI are pretty into it this summer. We really liked the episode at the bookfestival, painful as it was for Mr. Updike. And the one where the Whoplay “New Springfield.” And those are like in the first three. And wealso love the packaging, which mimics the fine comic book products soldby the overweight, over-opinionated and under-bathed retailer ComicBook Guy. Special features, if that’s your thing, include: anintroduction from Matt Groening; audio commentaries on every episodewith Groening and The Simpsons executive producers, writers,actorsand directors; deleted scenes; animation showcases; original sketches;special language feature; featurettes and more.

New Loudon Wainwright and Radiohead re-releases by Sal:

“Charlie Poole didn’t write the songs he performed and recorded — theywere the popular, sacred, and standard tunes of his time. Charlie maynot have written the songs, but he certainly “owned them — that is tosay, made them his own.”

This is how Loudon Wainwright III introduces his new CD on page one ofthe beautiful accompanying booklet to High Wide & Lonesome: TheCharliePoole Project, 2 CDs conceived by Wainwright and producer DickConnetteas a tribute to the hard drinking, hard living charmer of theDepression era, Charlie Poole.

This absolutely wonderful set of music is a real tribute indeed.Wainwright, along with many other Wainwrights, Roches and friends ofboth families, run through thirty tunes, each with its own grippingstory filled with black humor, genuine sadness, lost hope, as well asplenty of booze and women. There are old timey string arrangements,acapella gospel tunes, and simple voice and guitar, all leaving room forLoudon Wainwright’s love of the material to shine. I’ve always lovedLoudon, but I didn’t expect to love this set as much as I do.

On Another Note:

One of the most overrated bands in the history of music, Radiohead, seesits self-indulgent, experimental, tuneless and boring post-OKComputerrecords get expanded with even more depressing, droning, twaddle. KidA, Hail To The Thief, and Amnesiac all now feature a seconddiscwith b-sides and live tracks. Now I realize that is a bit unfair, andthe truth is, I don’t hate Radiohead. I happen to think The BendsandOK Computer are two of the best records of the 90s. But I dobelievethese three CDs would have made ONE fine CD. Forgive me.

Sal Nunziato

Eric chimes in: Sal is right about Loudo, of course. I’m reallyenjoyingthe record and I’d recommend listening to Terry Gross’s interview withthe guy which ran last week and was a lot of fun. My comrade couldhardly be wronger, however about Radiohead, which I maintain is justbelow U2 and at least tied with REM as the greatest band of the 90s. Iactually think OK Computer is their weakest album. These two are allthree totally excellent, particularly Kid A, which is kinda PinkFloydish. They’ve not only got b-sides and live tracks but also DVDs andthese demonstrate the thought and care that went into these greatalbums. And Pablo Honey is also great, he didn’t mention that.Greatband, Radiohead; closest thing to what the Beatles would have been ifthe Beatles had been in the 90s. (I know Bono says that about U2, buthe’s wrong. U2 were way different than the Beatles; much better live,I’m guessing, and also much more explicitly socially concerned.) Anyway,if you don’t have the remixed versions of these records, I’d stronglyrecommend all of them — with the possible exception of OK Computerwhich is a little too noisy for my taste.

Name: Tim Burga
Hometown: Dallas, TX

Dr. A,

In your Daily Beast column you said, regarding Obama reaching out tothe GOP on health care, that “the problem with this strategy is thatit rests on the widespread realization that the Republicans are notserious about governance.”

Based on the polls it seems the public *does* realize this, whichmakes it all the more confounding that Democrats are not in full-onmessaging mode to reinforce this self-evident state of affairs. Whyare Sen. Grassley’s stunningly frank admissions about the bad faithwith which the GOP is operating in the health care debate onlycovered on left-leaning blogs and not in press releases and op-edsfrom the White House?

Despite all the progress and transformation within the DemocraticParty in the last decade, it unfortunately seems the leadership isstill playing checkers at a chess match.

Name: Bill Doyle
Hometown: Valparaiso, IN

Hi Eric,

I love your Daily Beast stuff, and I think (and hope) you may beright about the President’s strategy. For the past few weeks, I havebeen boring my friends with my theory that the time to get real is inConference Committee next month.

I have to comment on the frightening article in which the WhiteHouse accepts the fact of assault rifles being brandished atPresidential events. I sent a letter to the Chicago Trubune aboutthat, but they had used up their liberal comment quota for themonth, so no dice there.

This weapons parade is lunacy. The Secret Service should extend theweapons free zone around the President to a full one mile. And thenCongress must make it a federal offense to carry any weapon of anykind to a public event, demonstration or meeting connected to anyappearance by the President, a Member of Congress, or any of theirdesignates.

Congress can do this. There are already thousands of weapons freefederal zones across the country, and it is the federal function, notthe specific building, that gives the feds this preemption. Just trystrapping on a weapon and going into a VA hospital. Better yet, oneof these bozos should try entering a US military post or an FBIoffice. If they are not shot, bail will be very high.

The biggest reason we have to do this, though, is that it is only amatter of time before one of these weapons is discharged, and somecitizen–possibly a child or a Grandma–is killed for the crime ofexercising her First Amendment rights. Why shouldn’t we the peoplehave the same right to a weapons free First Amendment zone thatMembers of Congress enjoy in their Capitol office space, or federalemployees have at their workplaces? The NRA and their paid minionshave no right to trample on “…the right of the people peaceably toassemble, and to petition the Government for a redress ofgrievances.”

I simply do not understand why the White House does not understandthis basic concept–that free speech is not free if it is inherentlydangerous, and that civilian weapons do not belong in any crowdedplace, especially when children are part of the crowd.

Name: Frank Lynch
Hometown: http://www.samueljohnson.com/blog/

Ah, Tom Ridge… I remember an early 80’s lyric from Utopia:

“Here are your leaders, come on take a look They lie and cheat andsteal and sell the rights to the book”

The problem with Tom Ridge’s account of the pre-election daydecision is that while the preceding events argue for guilt,the fact that there was a tape from OBL is enough to cast areasonable doubt. If there were conversations before the tape’sarrival about “wouldn’t it be nice” and OBL’s tape were thecatalyst, that would be one thing, but on this singular event thedecision process so far seems in the grey area. And I am noBush defender, as you know.

(I speculated at the time of the tape that there had been somegamesmanship being played regarding the tape: that OBL really didwant Bush re-elected because he was good for recruiting, and dumpedon Bush’s overreactions in the tape in a bit of reverse psychology(Americans would reject his mocking of Bush). Ron Suskind’s Cheneybook later revealed that the CIA and State also felt that OBL handedBush the reelection with that tape.)

But aside from the pre-election pressure Ridge felt, the prior eventsthemselves don’t make Ridge look good. While he claims to have heldback against capricious color raises in the alert levels, he didn’tdo that often enough. He could have determined that the intelregarding attacks on the financial centers was stale, and he didn’thave to interject praise for Bush as he did so. I, for one, have gottensick and tired of the claim of “he kept America safe,” when Suskindpointed out that a major attack on NYC’s subways was aborted not becauseof anything Bush had done but because Al Qaida didn’t think that thebloody plan was bloody enough.

Tom Ridge gets no partial credit, in my opinion.

Name: Michael Green
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

Brother Pierce hit it out of the park when talking about the latedevelopment of conscience among Bush administration members who mightfind life interesting before a war crimes tribunal. Especially ColinPowell. Indeed, one of the little treasures in the history ofAmerican popular culture was in “Mars Attacks!” Paul Winfield playeda general sent to greet the Martians. En route, he calls his wife tosay he always knew he would be given something important to do if hejust kept his mouth shut. And that was nearly five years beforePowell became secretary of state!

Now, for a TV review. Sunday night’s 60 Minutes was one of theworst in that broadcast’s mostly distinguished history. The tributeto Don Hewitt was well-intentioned, but by the fifth or so time thathe was shown saying the key is to “tell me a story,” I realized theyhad no idea how to tell his story. Instead, they had three separatereports that were largely repetitive and suggest just how much thebroadcast misses Hewitt.

Also, they missed a couple of his innovations. For example, thegraphic “matte” at the bottom of the screen, and the “double-projector system” that enables a correspondent to do a voiceoverwere, I believe, his work when he produced the CBS evening newscast.But it was more fun for 60 Minutes to show, over and over, Hewittyelling in the control room and walking down the hallway. And CBS isclaiming Dan Rather wasn’t up to the standards of 60 Minutes? If Imay invoke my hero, Barney Frank, what planet do they live on?

Name: Terry
Hometown: Cheyenne

Dear Eric, While I trying to understand the White House need toappear all stately and bipartisan, (which never works, btw) I wasconfronted with a new bumper sticker on a van at of all places, ourlibrary in “Idiot America,” er, Cheyenne today. While I remain of thetree-hugging, liberal, let’s-communicate-and -not-hate persuasion, Idid react. The sticker read “Does not play well with liberals.” Ihappened to have a post-it note, so I stuck this atop: By all means,celebrate your bigotry and intolerance. It’s a free country. True,not the Woody Allen/Annie Hall recommended response of “let’s getsome bricks and baseball bats and deal with these neoNazis,” butsomewhat satisfying.

Sure was fun to see the latest video of Mr. Pierce expounding in.

Name: Jordan Scott
Hometown: Seattle

Eric, Unfortunately, you’re not right. Obama “gave in a little on thestimulus?” Just like he gave in a little on prosecuting torture or,as a Senator, on telecon immunity. I’m no psychologist, but I suspectit has more to do with, like Clinton, being raised by a single motherand always wanting to please than some brilliant political tactic.Start reading some Pierce and buck up, will ya’ buddy. Obama invitedyou to dinner–the rest of us need you guys who have access to thepeople in power to follow the instructions of “I agree with you, Iwant to do it, now make me do it,” rather than being an enabler ofuseless attempts at bipartisanship. As you point out, the strategy isnot working and the lies are winning. Obama needs to be reminded ofhis own definition of insanity. person that’s going around of late.:-)

Name: Steve Gabai
Hometown: Fair Lawn, NJ


I was watching New Jersey’s Networks (NJN) news broadcast tonight andthey had a report on Rep. Frank Pallone’s town hall meeting. Theanchor introducing the story, as well as the reporter covering it,used the word “controversial” in regard to the public option. What isso controversial about the public option (was George Bush’s Iraq war”controversial?”)?

This town hall meeting, like the rest we’ve seen, had it share ofenraged screamers. So by describing the public option as”controversial,” they actually gave credibility to this mob, as ifthey actually had something to scream about.

This report was no different from the rest of the coverage we’ve seenthis month, network or cable. Little attention has been paid to thereasonable and practical side of this “debate.” Instead, the mediahas focused, mainly, on the angry side who are enraged at this”controversial” health care legislation. Why?

Ironically, what’s made this health care “debate” so controversial,are these town hall mobs. But the way the media has handled it, you’dthink it was the other way around.

Would be asking too much for our illustrious media to treat thepublic option seriously, not as a controversy, and give it roughlythe same amount of air time they do these town hall screamers?

Unfortunately, yes.

Name: Don Appel
Hometown: Riverdale,NY

Where the heck is LTC Bateman??? Will his photo soon be on the sideof milk cartons?

Name: Billy Ralph Bierbaum
Hometown: Waxahachie, Texas

Re: condensed journalism.

If someone could write me a fucking nut graf on all this healthcareshit, I’d really appreciate it. More especially, a nut graf on whyObama and the Democrats collapsed like that cake left out in the rainin MacArthur Park. I apologize for my tone and my language, but fuck,if I’d wanted a bunch of rubbery retread refried defrosted still feckless Clintonoids to run this ball (and I’m looking at you, Rahm),I would have voted for a fucking Clinton.