I’ve got a new Think Again column called "Conservatives Turn to CNBC andthe WSJ for Stimulating Propaganda" and you can find it here

Also, I did a post for the Daily Beast on the amazing deal Harry Reidmanaged to cut on Tuesday night to save the health care bill here

I saw Loudon Wainwright III warm up Hot Tuna Saturday night. If you’re ever in a bad mood, and are considering going to see Loudon, allow me to suggest that you do just that. Loudon will either put you in a good mood or make you feel better about being in a lousy one. Loudon had a tough job at the Beacon on Saturday night. Hot Tuna audiences contain some ofthe world’s biggest jerks: people who get a rise out of getting scarily wasted and yelling "Hot Fuckin’ Tuna" over and over at the top of their marijuana-infested lungs. Singing emotionally complex, and occasionally even, intellectually demanding songs on an acoustic guitar with no accompaniment bespeaks either bravery or foolishness. Loudon made the most of it. At one point, he mentioned Jerry Garcia and the crowd cheered. "Wow, you people are going to be really easy to manipulate," he observed. Anyway, since he’s been around now for nearly forty years–I happened upon a rave review of his first album from The Times in 1970 or so not long ago–he can pitch the set to the crowd. Saturday night we got "The Grammy Song" in honor of his much-mentioned Grammy nomination for "The Charlie Poole Project" which I think I’ve now suggested you buy at least four times. He did some other funny new material, the highlight of which is below as I asked him to email me the lyric. (There’s aYoutube too.) I’m still waiting to hear back from Paul about how he likes it. I’ll post when I do. Now, as Hillel the Elder almost said to that wise guy, "Go listen."

THE KRUGMAN BLUES by Loudon Wainwright III

I read the NY Times it’s where I get my news Paul Krugman’s on the op-ed page that’s where I get the blues
Cause Paul always tells it like it is we get it blow by blow
Krugman’s got the Nobel prize so Krugman ought to know
When Paul goes on The News Hour to talk to old Jim Lehrer
He looks so sad and crestfallen it’s more than I can bear
And all the other experts all seem way off base
And I guess that I identify with that pissed off look on Paul’s face

When Paul gets really bummed out that’s when I get scared
But if Paul says there’s a glint of hope I feel we’ve all been spared
Sometimes when he’s on the TV in the back round you can spot his school logo
Krugman teaches at Princeton U so Krugman ought to know
He’s got that hang dog look about him Paul’s one unhappy pup
Krugman looks so downtrodden I wish he’d lighten up
And I know he wants to clue us in concerning our impending doom
But I got The Krugman Blues from all Paul’s gloom
Once I saw Krugman on a train Amtrackin’ to DC
I recognized his sad face cause I seen it on the TV
He looked up from his laptop when I said "Hello Paul"
Then I said "Keep up all the good work, Paul-you bring me down but way to go, Paul!"


Now here is Sal on the new Sinatra box, just in time for your holiday shopping needs.

The just released Frank Sinatra boxed set New York continues the series that began with Sinatra In Hollywood and the more recent Sinatra: Vegas. This time around, we get 4 CDs and 1 DVD showcasing Ol’ Blue Eyes’ from somewhat randomly picked performances in the Big Apple. If you’re not too much of a stickler, it’s just fine. A performance from 1963, featuring Frank accompanied only by Skitch Henderson on piano is the highlight of Disc One. It’s not often you hear Sinatra so intimate, and it’s extra special since he performs songs that had big orchestral arrangements on the release of the time, The Concert Sinatra.

The performances from the 70s, including a not-so-slick Carnegie Hall show, which sounds more like later senile 90s Sinatra, and a wonderful, mediocre setlist not withstanding, "Main Event" dress rehearsal from Madison Square Garden are both more than listenable, if a bit uneven.

The DVD though is a real keeper. Recorded at Carnegie in June of 1980, Frank is in tremendous voice and spirits, and his rapport with the band and audience is classic Sinatra. Bootlegs have been going around for years, featuring Sinatra in concert from every aspect of his career. And though the diehard collectors will no doubt balk at the choices for this box, most will be happy with its contents.

Sal Nunziato

The Mail:

Name: Derrick Gibson
Hometown: Miami, FL


Your article on, "Saving Journalism", is right on point: the reporting of news is an important function for our republic and the impending death of newspapers both places the challenge of "fact-based reporting" in stark relief and also provides us with clues asto the path forward.

The demand for timely reporting of news, leads – as you describe – to more of a quest to get the story, as opposed to a quest to get the story "right". Indeed, reaching truth may not even be possible at anyone point in time, as all of the necessary data may not be available. What was the truth of why those US Attorneys were fired by the Bush administration and was that truth known on the day those firings were announced? Truth then, becomes a function of time. Whatever reporting structures evolve to replace newspapers, the role of the editor must also evolve to include a broader viewpoint of the stories reported each day, so that it tracks each stories progress from initial report on to some status of "True". Each story may move back and forth along a continuum from "News" to "Truth", but the editor must beresponsible for over-watching that journey and holding the reporters to task for pushing the story toward that goal of "Truth".

Too much of what we read is left in the category of "Opinion", such that we can still have people argue today that Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction.

Perhaps, the ombudsman role can fill this responsibility and publish an annual scorecard of how well the news gathered each year progressed toward that status of "Truth". Then, we might–as citizens–be able to objectively measure the quality of the sources of news we access. In this way, news organizations can compete on their ability to reach the "Truth" of more stories. We can let news organizations compete from the perspective of their viewpoints, but at some point, those who argued that the world was flat were proven wrong and they were no longer able to credibly argue that case.

Thanks, Derrick

Name: Michael Green
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

Dr. A., you have thrown a pitch right into my wheelhouse. I worked as a kid reporter at a failing newspaper in the early 1980s and have written for several publications since going into academe, getting my Ph.D., and becoming a professor. So I have had the pleasure of being on both sides of the wall.

The radicalism of the professoriate is overstated and overrated. We may VOTE liberal. But we often act toward one another so nastily that even Senator Tom Coburn, R-Uranus (emphasis on the second syllable), could take lessons from us. I have seen some of my colleagues and professors act and think admirably, with great compassion and thoughtfulness toward people and issues. But I also have seen racism, sexism, and bigotry that would shock the weak-stomached. Whether academe could get along well enough to oversee any such publicationis debatable at best.

The biggest problem is that the idea of making newspapers non-profit goes against what many who run newspapers (into the ground) oppose. After all, the Republican party and too many in the Democratic party are still trying to keep the health care system as a for-profit institution, which is not always conducive to our good health. Imagine trying it with journalism!

Name: Bob Rothman
Hometown: Washington, DC


You may have missed it, but the Brookings Institution recently released a study of media coverage of education that presented some alarming findings about the lack of attention to that issue. Yet the esteemed institution buried the lead.

The main finding is in the report’s title: "Invisible: 1.4 PercentCoverage of Education is Not Enough." Data from the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that education stories constitutedonly 1.4% of the coverage in newspapers, radio, TV networks and cable news in the first nine months of 2009. This is actually up from the past two years, largely because of the economy (budget cuts in schools), swine flu, and President Obama’s speech to school children in September. But it is far less than coverage of politics, crime, health and medicine, and business, and even less than "lifestyle,"celebrities, and disasters and accidents.

The methodology is a bit idiosyncratic and might understate the case; the project looked at a selected sample of newspapers and only counted the equivalent of A1 stories. But the real story, it seemed to me, is not the numbers from the national outlets. The report also includes case studies of four local papers–the Providence Journal, the Des Moines Register, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and the Arizona Republic–and shows that these papers built web sites that included substantial and substantive coverage, blogs and opinions, and community information.

The crisis in journalism has led a number of papers to increase their local focus, and I know of several others that have significant webspace allocated to education. So let the national papers and cablenets bloviate about Obama and swine flu. The local communities arebeing informed about their schools.

Name: Steve Thorne
Hometown: Somewhere in California

The answer to the question about how many carping little twerps fitinto a bag thrown into the stream nearest to Agincourt, of course, is all of them.

However, it is known that said persons each day rise from their beds, bend over, look up at the opening that would hold their heads throughout the day and declare: "Once more into the breech!"

Name: Jim Peale
Hometown: Swanzey, NH

Uh, Charlie? Of course none of those twits would have been in France, let alone near the front lines at Agincourt. Same way that, having been invited to pledge "their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor", all of them would have found something more immediately important to do.

Name: Ryan J. McQueeney
Hometown: Chicago

To Mr. Pierce:

You write that Tiger Woods is "good friend, valued confidant, and treasured commodity to EVERY unsavory plutocrat on the planet, from the leaders of Chevron to the oil-sodden sultans of the Persian Gulf." [emphasis mine].

As you are a journalist and have spent most of your career writing for magazines, I trust that you have actual facts to back up this accusation. I also understand that it is likely hyperbole that Tiger is a good friend and valued confidant of "every unsavory plutocrat on the planet", so please don’t feel the need to substantiate Mr. Woods’ close relationship with all the unsavory plutocrats on the planet. Just enough to establish that your enmity is based on Tiger’s actions and not his character flaws, or his failure to give you the kind of access you want. If you can’t find the time, I understand; I’m sure you’ll be busy helping Tom Brady – that low income, powerless enemy of everything corporate – hand out hundreds on Comm Ave.

Name: Don Hynes
Hometown: Portland OR

Hi Eric,

Perhaps it’s my own nattering nabobness, but doesn’t it seem like the"debate" over Afghanistan is like a conversation among Yankee fans.The entire "argument" if there can be said to be one, is so overwhelmingly one sided, whether left or right, that any genuine perspective of the overall playing field is thoroughly obscured.

Did Obama make a case for an expanded war against the increasingly united Pashtun militant forces in west Pakistan and eastern andsouthern Afghanistan or did he act as cheer leader in chief for the latest version of US exceptionalism with unbridled prerogative to act in whatever we term our "national interest."

Aren’t we all fed up with being down the rabbit hole on these issues of vital importance? Here’s a link that doesn’t require the blue pillor the red pill.

Beijing broods over its arc of anxiety