I’ve got a new Think Again column called "Conservative? Bad? How About Both?" about the shocking decline in the quality of the Washington Post op-ed page here. (Sorry, this was a bad link yesterday.)

For my Nation column, I tried to put the Wieseltier/Sullivan mishigas in a larger context in a column called "Semites and ‘Anti-Semites.’"

And I did a Daily Beast column on Mr. Paterson’s troubles and that’s here.

Also, speaking of my prophetic powers, if you’ll notice, the health care summit took us nowhere, Obama’s poll numbers are way down, and liberals, even moderates are down in the dumps. The health care bill is a depressing amalgam of concessions to the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, this Blue Dog, that anti-abortion advocate, and yet, now, all of a sudden, the administration is talking about doing health care through “reconciliation”–that is ramming it through the senate with a minimum of 51 votes? Why, oh why, didn’t they do that before they let the Republicans and the lobbyists walk all over them and screw up the bill?

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I think I answered that question back in August. It was always going to be thus. Obama ran on a Rodney King “Why Can’t We All Get Along” platform, and he had to try and make good on it. The pundits demanded it and the people deserved it. But the Republicans never had any incentive to help him succeed, however, and Obama, not being stupid, knew that, too. He knew it way back when he crafted his election strategy as well. And so, I would posit, this was always the plan. Try, try, try to get the Republicans to deal—make genuine concession after genuine concession and when you’ve proven your bona fides—hell, you’ve even gone to their annual meeting, invited them to the White House to talk, etc, well, then people what choice do you have? Come in for the kill… just like you planned it. Here’s the column that the editors called “Obama’s Fake Bipartisanship” but I would have called “Obama’s Strategic Head-Fake Toward Bipartisanship.”

Now here’s Charles:

CHARLES PIERCE
Newton, MA.

Hey Doc: "Cynthia and Jerry got a message they sayin’/’All the squares, go home!’"

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "La Belle Du Cemetiere" (Lost Bayou Ramblers) — When all of y’all in NYC get yourselves dug out, I’ll still be loving New Orleans.

Part The First:I missed the whole health-care summit yesterday. But if the spin coming out is that we have two fairly reasonable sides talking responsibly about an issue of public policy–which is pretty much the palaver that I heard on the highlight shows last night–then this thing has to be accounted a failure. Oh, and here is the "Policy" page on health-care from the influential Politico (!). I’ll give you a nickel if you can find any actual policy writing, as opposed to gossip and horse-race bullshit, on that page. People are dying. None of these bastards care.

Part The Second:

They are not human. Shun them.

Part The Third:

Somewhere, in a nice little lounge in D.C., this human is sitting down, sipping a Cosmo, and the other people in the bar have no idea that they’re drinking with Eichmann. And, of course, somewhere at the Wall Street Journal, an editor goes home not knowing that he’s enabled Heydrich.

Part The Penultimate:

The Olympic hockey tournament continues to be a marvel. After midnight on Tuesday, I was an incredibly enthusiastic honorary Latvian. We lost, alas. Now I am a sports refugee again, trying to find a plucky little nation to love.

Part The Ultimate:

I think that the Parson Meacham over at Newsweek may have set the Sucking Up To Vicious Idiots bar so high that in response, Time may blow out an ACL trying to get over it. How else to explain publishing, this brimming swine-trough of lies, phony history, pious nonsense, and disingenuous twaddle promoted by the single most duplicitous piece of pond-scum ever to be burped up along the Potomac? Newt Gingrich on the blessings of bipartisanship? Why not Newt Gingrich on how to support your wives in time of illness? There has to have been someone in the upper echelons of Time who said, "Look, folks, before we all go get lunch at 21, how’s about we talk again about printing something that is the exact equivalent of publishing a treatise on thoracic surgery written by Charlie Manson?"

Was everybody there drunk? Stoned? Out of town early for the weekend?

The persistence of the notion of Newt Gingrich, Political Genius, or of Newt Gingrich, Transformational Figure—or, in fact, any notion save that of Newt Gingrich, Opportunistic Hack–is going to puzzle scholars for centuries. Anyway, here’s a little something from last week, proving that he’s still a blight and that Time needs editors who aren’t so easily conned out of their money.

The Mail:

Name: Jeremy Entwistle
Hometown: Kaiserslautern, Germany

Eric,

I caught the Beck/Clapton show in London on 13 Feb. Beck was, in a word, fantastic. Clapton, sadly, was not. He was, much like you said, lazy…sad. I waited almost 4o years to see the man play and that’s what I got…at least Jeff was good…

Name: Harry Binswanger
Hometown: New York City, NY

John Barker claims that there is an argument for altruism:

"Society simply requires some level of cooperation in order to function."

I agree, but that’s not an argument for altruism–it’s an argument for the egoistic value of cooperation.

Ayn Rand covered this in The Fountainhead, in Roark’s courtoom speech:

"In all proper relationships there is no sacrifice of anyone to anyone. An architect needs clients, but he does not subordinate his work to their wishes. They need him, but they do not order a house just to give him a commission. Men exchange their work by free, mutual consent to mutual advantage when their personal interests agree and they both desire the exchange. If they do not desire it, they are not forced to deal with each other. They seek further. This is the only possible form of relationship between equals. Anything else is a relation of slave to master, or victim to executioner.

 

"No work is ever done collectively, by a majority decision. Every creative job is achieved under the guidance of a single individual thought. An architect requires a great many men to erect his building. But he does not ask them to vote on his design. They work together by free agreement and each is free in his proper function. An architect uses steel, glass, concrete, produced by others. But the materials remain just so much steel, glass and concrete until he touches them. What he does with them is his individual product and his individual property. This is the only pattern for proper co- operation among men."

 (BTW: I don’t know why he thinks I, an egoist, would ever describe myself as a "pathetic soul.")