My new Think Again column is called “NPR: Still Bending Over Backward.” It is critical of NPR but also of NPR’s critics and it’s here.
My new Nation column is called “How Rupert Murdoch Buys Friends and Influences People” and it’s here.
Reed is away this week so I need to create an excuse for this post. I don’t really feel like it, so:
1) A Wall Street Journal columnist wanted to write a column about how even liberals think Obama’s like Jimmy Carter and quoted a column allegedly written by me in US News. I’ve never written for US News. I wrote that column for The Daily Beast. So I got a correction in the Journal—at least online, but if you want a lesson in the power of the right-wing echo machine, look how many times that “left-wing fussbudget” Eric Alterman of US News has been quoted in the blogosphere of late, here.
A big problem in the world is that Republicans have gotten so crazy and so divorced from reality that it makes the rest of world crazy and stupid merely to have to pay attention to them, unless you get to do articles like a) this or b) this.
But you can only do those stories once; and in truth, even those two articles go a little too far in indulging craziness for my taste. The rest of the articles have to be respectful of statements, allegations and ideas that are completely crazy. It’s a big part of the reason the debt crisis ever happened in the first place. Crazy idea after crazy idea, repeated over and over and over until unemployment, which is still sky high, doesn’t really matter anymore but the deficit does and global warming becomes contestable, etc. This is one reason I don’t bemoan the collapse of “objective” reporting. Its death will leave smart reporters who are willing to take some crap from the crazies the opportunity to tell a great deal more of the truth. But we’re not there yet. See my above CAP column for why.
I saw “Friends with Benefits” the other night. It’s OK, a little bit better than “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” which is also OK, though Emma Stone’s parts make it better than OK, but the part I really liked was when they talked about how much T-Mobile sucked. I am stuck with T-Mobile beause I get no cell service in my apartment without a hot spot, but I haver never dealt with any company in my entire life that is both so simultaneously dishonest and incompetent. Twice, at two different stores, salesmen have sold me phones and lied to me about the rebates to which I was entitled. Lied, outright, just to get the contracts signed and then there’s nothing to be done about it. And those contracts, oy vey. They are written specifically to hide how much they plan to screw you and your entire family. And once it happens, they don’t care. It’s like they have robots working in customer service designed to repeat the same nonsense over and over and over and over and over when you call to complain (after waiting on hold for forever). I don’t know if Sprint is any better, but this is one merger I can support as a kind of mercy killing.
Also, lookit this story about the original “Dancing in the Dark” video. It’s really interesting, here.
Also, since we’re killing time, here’s a 2002 desert island disc I made that might be useful to some of you. I would change a bunch of things now, but I don’t want to mess with history.
Eric Alterman, Desert Island Discs:
1) Bruce Springsteen: “You Can Trust Car to the Man Who Wears the Star” (Live at The Main Point, 1975, bootleg)
2) Bob Dylan, Biograph
3) The Beatles, The White Album
4) The Rolling Stones, 40 Licks
5) Miles Davis/John Coltrane, The Complete Columbia Recordings, 1955-1961
6) The Duke Ellington Orchestra: The Blanton/Webster Years
7) Frank Sinatra: The Complete Capitol Singles Collection
8) The Complete Hank Williams
9) Elvis Presley: The Complete 50’s Masters
10) Beg, Scream and Shout: The Big Ol’ Box of Sixties Soul (Rhino)
10) The Clash, London Calling
10) Derek and the Dominoes, Layla and Other Love Songs
10) The Allman Brothers Band, The Fillmore Concerts
The runners up, in no particular order, but in which artists are allowed only one cd.
1) The Beach Boys—Good Vibrations box
2) The Roches
3) Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes—I Don’t Want to Go Home
4) Warren Zevon, Excitable Boy
5) The Creedence Box
6) The complete Billie Holiday on Verve
7) Radiohead, The Bends
8) Lucinda Williams
9) Tom Waits, Crystal Gayle, Soundtrack for “One from the Heart”
10) Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Volume 15, Englishtown September 3, 1977
11) The Chess Box
12) Willie Nelson, Stardust
13) The Patsy Cline Box
14) Nirvana, Nevermind
15) Neil Young, Live Rust
16) The Johnny Cash Box
17) Van Morrison, Tupelo Honey
18) The Merle Haggard box
19) Randy Newman, Sail Away
20) The Tony Bennett Box
21) Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life
22) Bob Marley and the Wailers, Box
23) The Marvin Gaye Box
24) Steve Earle, I Ain’t Ever Satisfied
25) Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville
26) Marshall Crenshaw
27) George Harrison, All Things Must Pass
28) Who’s Next
29) Leonard Cohen—I’m Your Man
30) The Kinks—Rock n Roll Fantasy
31) Art Tatum, The Complete Pablo Group Masterpieces
32) Kate and Anna McGarrigle, The Family Album.
33) Back to Mono: the Phil Spector Box
34) Abbey Lincoln with Stan Getz, Brother Can You Spare a Dime?
35) James Brown Live and Lowdown at the Apollo, Volume I
36) Jackson Browne, Late for the Sky
37) The Sam Cooke Box
38) The Al Green Box
39) Sly and the Family Stone, Anthology
40) U2, Rattle and Hum
41) The Otis Redding Box
42) Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti
43) The Soul of Ben Webster,
44) Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong Together/Together Again
45) Sonny Rollins, The Bridge
46) Emmylou Harris et al, Return of the Grievous Angel. (Graham Parsons tribute)
47) T. Monk—Solo Piano
48) James Taylor
49) Elvis Costello, My Aim is True
50) Graham Parker, Squeezing Out Sparks
51) Paul Simon, Live Rhymin’
52) Aretha Franklin, Box
53) Ray Charles and Betty Carter, , Box
54) Rockpile, Seconds of Pleasure
55) Santana, Moonflower
56) Bonnie Raitt, Give it Up,
57) REM, Murmur
58) Patti Smith, Land
59) The Blasters collection
60) The Steely Dan Box
61) The Byrds Box
62) John Lennon, Plastic Ono Band
63) Paul McCartney and Wings: Band on the Run
64) Greg Trooper—Straight Down Rain
65) David Forman
66) Steve Tyrell, Standard Time
67) Bell and Shore, L-Ranko Motel.
68) Television: Marquee Moon
69) The Band, The Last Waltz box
70) The Buffalo Springfield Box
71) The David Johansen Group, Live at the Bottom Line
72) Stan Getz and Gliberto Gil,
73) Garland Jeffries, Escape Artist
74) Maria Muldaur
75) Rosanne Cash, Ten Song Demo
76) Elton John, 11/17/70
77) Iris DeMent, The Way I Should
78) John Prine et al, In Spite of Ourselves
79) The Motown Sixties Box
80) Smithsonian History of Classic Jazz
81) Smithsonian History of Country Music
82) Smithsonian History of American Popular Song
83) Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Will the Circle Be Unbroken
84) Herbie Hancock, Maiden Voyage
85) The Ramones
86) The Fugees
87) Lauryn Hill
88) Toots and the Maytals, Pressure Drop
89) The Specials
90) Allan Sherman, My Son the Folksinger
91) Roy Orbison, A Black and White Night
92) Nina Simone, Sugar in My Bowl
93) Velvet Underground, Loaded
94) Rod Stewart, Every Picture Tells a Story
95) Gary “U.S.” Bonds, Dedication
96) The Essential George Jones
97) Robert Cray, “Strong Persuader”
98) John Coltrane with Johnnie Hartman
99) Solomon Burke, Don’t Give Up on Me
100) Guys and Dolls, Original Soundtrack
The ombudsman at the Washington Post got at least a couple of things wrong. One was the hour that news began to spread that the perpetrator was a blond Norwegian, (which certainly did not rule out jihadists, but should have given pause to any serious journalist or blogger). The time stamp on Jennifer Rubin’s original post is 5:06 pm EST. The first comment on that same blog calling her conclusion into question appears less than an hour later, at 5:53 pm EST. Here it is:
CTV, among other sources, is reporting that the shooter, who allegedly was also seen in the area of the bombing prior to it, was Norwegian. Tall, blond and Nordic looking. If true, it is one more nail in the coffin of ethnic profiling, regardless of his ideology. http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20110722/oslo...
7/22/2011 5:53:28 PM EDTRecommendRecommended by 11 readers
So the record could not be more clear. Patrick Pexton seemed to build a charitable cushion of several hours that made it seem like the news was only available for a short while before Rubin signed off. Her own comments section proves that wrong. Comments on the identity of the Norway bombing suspect also spill into the comments threads for her other posts that evening.
The ombudsman also made it seem as though Rubin was mainly guilty of reporting on the Weekly Standard’s speculation (as if that absolves her). In fact, she wrote "Moreover, there is a specific jihadist connection here." As I read that, she is connecting (imaginary) dots and stating a fact where none has been established. She jumped to a conclusion.
I also found it odd that the Mr. Pexton mentioned Rubin’s productivity. What does that have to do with the controversy? Then again, maybe he stumbled on a contributing factor. Sometimes, metrics are misleading. Maybe Rubin works too fast to be responsible, and what he advertised as a positive is a significant negative.
Anyway, I enjoyed your coverage.
Why has there been no mention in the Western media of the growing protests taking place in the streets of Israeli cities? Last night, 8/6/2011, a quarter of a million people were out protesting the economic conditions prevalent in the country, and yet there was no mention of this as a major news item in any of the mainstream media outlets. These protests are every bit as important as the ones in Cairo several months ago, as they signal a profound dissatisfaction with the current Israeli regime. Like their Arab cousins all across the Middle East, the Israeli people are asserting that economic conditions are deteriorating, and that this trumps the political problems in the country. This is a MUCH larger problem for the Netanyahu government than the upcoming Palestinian Statehood proclamation next month. Do the Western media outlets not want us to see the deep divisions that are apparent in Israeli society? And what "crisis" will Netanyahu and his cronies invent to try and thwart next months’ proclamation
San Leandro, CA
Thanks for printing Michael Green’s letters, particularly the latest one. I’m so frustrated by my friends on the left. There seems to be a willful disconnect from the realities of the political process, as opposed to those on the far right who know how the system works and work it for all it’s worth. The left, in contrast, insist on denouncing Obama for NOT using all the underhanded tactics they hated when Bush used them. Folks, winning an election doesn’t give a president a magic wand with which to enact every pie-in-the-sky program that Dennis Kucinich wants. There are actually Democrats out there who live in the center and want to see some restraint on the part of government. No one will ever get every single thing they want, not even Obama, rest assured. I guess I’d just like to see the left grow up, stop whining, start working. Sigh.
Dear Dr. Alterman,
Your factual and reasonable piece about the realities of President Obama’s prospects for reelection and the absurdity of a challenge from the left was your usual excellent writing and analysis. Yes, the important matter is countering the Tea Party nuts.
However, as the drone goes on of "adults-in-the room," compromise (when there is no real compromise), and bipartisan, I’ll say this. Such cowardly talk is nonsense for Democrats. If it worked so well, why did the House election cycle end up as it did? Republican television barking dogs and American Supreme Court decision aside, (which freed up the money-giving restraints on corporations and allowed the infusion of foreign dough for the GOP), some voters must have been very angry and afraid or turned off in a big way. Why else would they turn in mid-stream to support the insane voices of such extremists?
The left is not responsible for the Tea Party crazies. We are not responsible for the erroneous bilge spouted by so much of the television "punditocracy," the continual drip of weird assumptions on TV by such with no factual basis. We can articulate our ideas and fight in these elections instead of rolling over to moronic policies and statements. Let this be done succinctly, proudly, and in a tone where we can be heard. We don’t have to sit around and take the foolishness and lies.
I’ve been thinking of something I read in Joan Baez’s autobiography I’ve kept near me:
At home we have freedom of speech but fewer and fewer words with
any meaning are ever spoken. We have freedom of thought, but
nothing pushes us toward creative thinking. We have freedom of
choice and a diminishing quality of moral and spiritual values
characterizing our choices.
What is there to be afraid of? This is our country we are talking about. Give it over to those who would dismantle our ideals and freedoms? Back down to idiots who don’t know our history or the principles upon which this nation was founded? I say fight against them all the way.
Editor’s Note: To contact Eric Alterman, use this form.