I’ve got a new “Think Again” column, called “Why Can’t the Media ExplainOur Woes? (and Why Other Countries Don’t have Them…). It’s acomparison of healthcare systems in the United States and Europe and amusing on why our media fail to communicate these essential differences.And you can find it here.

My new Nation column is called “Harvard Heal Thyself (Why JournalismMatters).” It’s about the Times excellent reporting of the HarvardMedical School scandal, and it’s here.

On The Daily Beast this week, I did an interview with the great E.L.Doctorow about his new novel, Homer and Langley here and a discussion of the stakes ofObama’s speech, here.

Hey look at all the trouble Pierce is causing, here.

This week on Moyers:

With a landmark speech on health reform behind him and tensions risingin war-torn Afghanistan, Bill Moyers Journal looks at President Obama’snext big fights. Global health specialist and incoming president ofDartmouth College Dr. Jim Yong Kim shares his expertise in publichealth. And, the Journal takes a hard look at the state of affairs inever-divided Afghanistan with McClatchy DC Pentagon correspondent NancyYoussef.


Woodstock–40 Years on Boxed Set

I was sick of Woodstock by the twentieth anniversary. But once you’ve seenthe movie a few times, this is the best way to experience it. Certainlylet’s all stop reading about it, talking about it, (I’m pretty surewe’ve all stopped getting high to it.) As I’ve been arguing of late, themusic is really the only excellent thing to come out of the sixties thatwould not have happened anyway without “the sixties.” Here we get a77-song, six-CD collection , sequenced in chronological order ofperformance, featuring 38 previously unreleased recordings, includingthe Grateful Dead, The Who, Tim Hardin, Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe& The Fish, and others. The set’s co-producer Andy Zax did yeoman’sresearch, explaining: “The way we approached all of the material was asif it was a cinema verité documentary — the raw record of the event,”Zax says. In addition to the music, the set offers considerable amountof ancillary, sometimes annoying announcements throughout including theidiotic rant of Abbie Hoffman, before getting clobbered by PeteTownshend. Thanks to its rigorously chronological sequence, it’s a finework of history with a good book and plenty of photos, set lists, etc.,which turn out to be pretty surprising. And the sound’s been nicelycleaned up, all things considered.

Patty Duke and Mr. Ed’s first seasons: My friends at Shout! Factory areputting out The Patty Duke Show: The Complete First Season, with 36episodes on a 6-Disc DVD set. Bonus features include a look back at ThePatty Duke Show with cast interviews featuring Patty Duke, WilliamSchallert, Paul O’Keefe, and Eddie Applegate Guests include stars suchas Frankie Avalon, Charles Nelson Reilly and Jimmy Dean and PhilFoster. I really enjoyed the episodes I watched and the kid was OK withthem, though I find getting over the black and white barrier with thelikes of eleven year olds. In a few weeks it will grace us with MisterEd: The Complete First Season on four DVDs which includes 26 episodesfrom the first season and bonus content including interviews and audiocommentary on the pilot episode with Mister Ed stars Alan Young andConnie Hines! Marking forty-seven years after Mister Ed first premiered on CBS, and now available for the first time, with guests you’ll recognize fromother shows. It doesn’t fair as well as the identical cousins — anincredibly intellectually audacious notion that. Your call…

The mail:

Name: Bill Dunlap
Hometown: Lake Oswego, Oregon

Eric: Your insightful piece in the Daily Beast concludes with theobservation that “Every other democracy in the world, save SouthAfrica, manages to provide decent care to all its citizens. . . .”Isn’t that interesting. What else do the United States and SouthAfrica have in common? Well, there’s a history of racism, overt atone time, more subtle today, but still there. I sincerely believethat racism is at the root of the U.S.’s poor status in key healthcare measures internationally and of the majority’s unwillingness toget behind taxpayer-funded, single-payer, universal insurance. “I’mnot paying for them to have health care,” they say. We all know who”them” are, don’t we?

Name: Jim Reuss
Postal: Silt, Colorado


I was just skimming over an article about the security staff debaclein our embassy in Afghanistan, and saw in this scandal another clearillustration of the failure of privatizing diplomatic securityservices (Blackwater in Iraq being the other glaring example).

It seems to me that US interests have been and are compromisedthrough use of private security contractors. Their behaviors aregenerally unconstrained by the State Department, and their mercenary,good ol’ boy, Dick Cheney, shoot-’em-in-the-face attitudes andoutlook toward performing their tasks damages any efforts towardbuilding positive relations with other societies. Though this groupof men was fired and the company’s contract dropped, who is going toreplace them after all – the trained, crowd-control killers atBlackwater? I’m thinking it’s way past time to put the marines backin the embassies. They would cost the citizens far less money, andthey would do a far better job.

Name: Brian Donohue
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

The remarkable recent epiphanies of war-cheerleaders like George Willand Tom Six-Month Friedman re. Afghanistan (aka Obama’s Vietnam)reminded me of the one paragraph from your Y-WR-LIBS that stuck in mycraw. You know, the part where you celebrated the fact that 70% oflibs are/were for invading and occupying a nation that has been the”graveyard of armies” for countries such as Persia, Great Britain(twice), and of course Russia.

Those of us who have been in the 30% liberal club for 8 years now onthis issue suddenly have some very strange bedfellows. As I mentionhere, it’s time forthe President to listen to his VP (as Herbert urges); and if notthat, his progressive base; if not that, to the military experts likeAstore at TomDispatch; if not that, to history.

I don’t expect him to listen to the majority of the American people,because I’ve given up on any politician attending to that lonelyvoice. But I think it’s safe to say that I am now no longer a memberof the “30% Liberal Club.”

Name: Jordan
Hometown: NYC

Eric, To Steven of The Swamps of Jersey–“Right Arm!” And as for thepathetic Democrats who are afraid to stand up to the NRA–it’s not byaccident that Steven did not list his last name or even his hometown.The politicians, the Secret Service and, as Steven from The Swampsaptly demonstrates, all of us have been intimidated by the NRA andthe insane gun culture it foments.

Name: Victor Estrada
Hometown: Carson, CA

This is the problem with “democrats” they lack a vertebrae , alwayscowering to the vocal bully of the rightwing. when are we going toexperience a leader who will stand up to these people will there everbe another harry truman? when 77% the people polled want a publicoption our president continues to ignore the mandate (asupermajority) . this shows that he too has become a man of thecorporate powers and not the people who elected him. if things don’tchange soon any support for him that dwindles will be justified, ishe taking his cue from joe lieberman.