We’ve got a new “Think Again” column called “Who’s JailingJournalists?”here inwhich we wonder, aloud, why the United States has joined the alleged Axis of Evil in jailing journalists without charge.

And I did a piece for the Daily Beast on “The Death of the Neocons” here.

Alter-reviews: Eric on Madeleine Peyroux; Sal on George Harrison.

Eric: I saw Madeleine Peyroux with Bruce Cockburn at Town Hall lastweek. She is an odd, but beautiful bird. A bohemian style chanteuse whowas born with a voice that somehow combines Billie Holiday with PatsyCline, she has now become an interesting songwriter as well. Her new CD, Bare Bones (Rounder), attempts to move her into the territoryoccupied by Norah Jones with songs co-written by the likes of LarryKlein and Walter Becker, and wonderful lyrics like “I remember what mydaddy taught me ’bout how warm whiskey is in a cold ditch/And one morething about good and evil: you can’t tell which is which” She had afine acoustic band with her which sounded like no other band I know andsings in French too, which is always a plus. You can find all kinds ofstuff, including some pretty fun video of her here. Bruce Cockburn warmed her up, solo. He was his mystical, rather than rocket-launcherself. A matter of choice, I suppose, but it wouldn’t be mine.

Sal: Writing about the new George Harrison collection, Let It Roll:Songs By George Harrison, is akin, for pathetic critics like myself, toshooting fish in a barrel. Give a Beatle fanatic an opportunity to rant,in an age when he is still watching a Betamax version of Let It Be andlistening to the classic catalogue on CDs mastered when Nina Blackwoodwas the face of music television, is not a good idea.

“Give me love, give me peace on Earth.” HA!! Give me something otherthan some hastily slapped together collection of tunes, that everyBeatles fan has heard a thousand times and more and we got ourselves aballgame…except…this collection really works.

Let It Roll, by practical measures should have included the killer,stray single “Bangla-Desh,” and explained somewhere in the otherwisebrilliant and moving liner notes by Warren Zanes, the inclusion ofinferior live versions of “Something” and “While My Guitar GentlyWeeps.” Those complaints aside, Let It Roll is a joyous occasion. Itplays like the mix-tape that YOU would have made…except for theexclusion of “Bangla-Desh” and the inclusion of…well…see above.

Sal Nunziato
The Eighth Beatle

This week on Moyers:

On the heels of winning this year’s Pulitzer prize for poetry, W.S.Merwin joins Bill Moyers for a wide-ranging conversation about language,his writing process, the natural world, and the insights gleaned from amuch-lauded career that’s spanned more than 50 years. W.S. Merwin isthe author of 21 volumes of poetry and won his second Pulitzer Prize forhis most recent collection, The Shadow of Sirius.

The mail:

Name: Bob O’Reilly
Hometown: Cambridge MA

In 1972 when I was a senior in high school I read Tragedy of AmericanDiplomacy in an advanced history seminar. It ranks among the mostimportant books I have read in that it provided me with a method oflooking at the actions of the US and many other nations are despite the rhetoric purely national self interest. That economics –expanding foreign trade for us — drives many of decisions. I recallmuch discussion in the book and in class about the Open Door policyregarding China and the feeling that who said the Chinese had to openthe door to the US and European products. Really didn’t they have theright to keep the door closed if they wanted to.

Name: Steve Thorne
Hometown: Somewhere in California

The healthcare “reform” debate will get us nowhere because we’restill thinking in insurance company language. The entire debate isabout “insurance,” “payer” and “coverage.” I don’t want “coverage” or”insurance” when some part of me fails or some microbes go somewherethey’re not invited. I want to get it fixed or for those microbes tobe slaughtered (set “slaughtered” in italics) and not risk losing myhouse in the process. Until we change the language used in the debateto something not found in the tiny print of an insurance policy,we’re not going to fix the problem in this country.

Name: David K. Richie
Hometown: Birmingham, Al

Mr. Charles Pierce,

I am interested to observe that what is left of what used to be thegreat left wing in this country cannot understand what happened tothe single payer option.

While I have no doubt that 75% of us, including degenerate businessowner, tax avoiding polluters like me, support some form ofgovernment competition, it is hard to imagine the left wing attackingfops like Gingrich and Limbaugh. They are not the problem. Theproblem is all the candy ass politicians you people elected.

Attacking our (choke, gasp) President is not the answer either. Tohave a substantial public option you are going to have to convincethe doctors, nurses and administrators in a mind boggling bureaucracythat they are not worth what we are now paying them. This is a hugeobstacle not even considering the drug cartel, oops, I mean industry.

The continued carping about Obama simply does not address the realissues in the legislature, ie. THE PAYOFFS!

Until then my fellow pope Catholic, you are simply preaching tothe choir.

Name: Ray Lodato
Hometown: Chicago, IL

Hey Eric,

Do you know what we call it in Chicago when there are more votes castthan there are voters?

An election.

Name: Ben Miller
Hometown: Washington, DC

Mr. Alterman:

I am not going to pretend to understand all the intricacies of thevarying healthcare proposals. But I get upset when I see thesearticles bringing up the failure to fix health care under Clinton,and maybe with Obama’s efforts we are seeing deja vu. The articlesusually act as if it was a defeat for Clinton, when in actuality, itshould be a black mark on those who stopped reform from happening.Shouldn’t the Democrats have a simple response to any such criticism–we wanted to fix health care over a decade ago. The Republicansblocked it. Since then, health care costs have gone up X-amount, thenumber of uninsured has gone up Y-amount, while profits haveincreased Z-amount. Politics today is about soundbites, and what canbe played quickly on CNN or even tweeted on twitter – wouldn’t asimple message of how much worse health care has become say loud andclear that we must act now, and we must do so regardless of anyRepublican scare tactics.