Helter-Skelter, continued ...

Are we going to war with Iran? “The Man Between War and Peace” is gone.

In reading the Forward this week, I came across some useful questions and answers having to do with politicians, their supporters, and the media's lack of interest in really covering them. For instance: Who is John Hagee? Here are some answers:

On Hurricane Katrina: “All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that ... I believe that Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.”

On the Catholic Church: “Most readers will be shocked by the clear record of history linking Adolf Hitler and the Roman Catholic Church in a conspiracy to exterminate the Jews.”

On Muslims: Asked whether he believes that Muslims have a mandate to kill Christians and Jews, Hagee replied, “Well, the Quran teaches that. Yes, it teaches that very clearly.”

On women: “Do you know the difference between a woman with PMS and a snarling Doberman pinscher? The answer is lipstick. Do you know the difference between a terrorist and a woman with PMS? You can negotiate with a terrorist.”

On the Antichrist: “He's going to make a seven-year treaty with Israel and set up his image to be worshiped in Israel. And that is where I'm convinced that a Jewish person who understands who he is shoots him, because the Bible says he's wounded in the head and recovers wondrously, emulating the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. At this point in time when he comes back to life he has the personality of a Hitler. He now pursues the Jewish people. The Jewish people then go to Petra, which is a place in Jordan that is a natural fortress. And that God is going to provide for them there protection from him. And as he gets ready to pursue him, the Bible says that he, the Antichrist, hears tidings from the east that disturb him. The tidings from the east is that... the Chinese army is marching up the Euphrates River, 200 million of them, and they're moving toward the battle of Armageddon, because they want the oil that will make them a superpower.”

On the Israeli-Palestinian peace process: “When the Annapolis Conference was being planned and the topic of dividing Jerusalem came up, one man asked me, 'Where do you stand on this based on the Bible?' I responded that 'the plan of the Antichrist is to divide Jerusalem.' If America puts pressure on Israel to divide Jerusalem we are following the blueprint of the Prince of Darkness. Amos 3:2 states that any nation that divides the Land of Israel will come under the severe judgment of God.”

Turns out he is also the fellow who was invited to the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and is greeted there with rapturous applause. He is given the “Humanitarian of the Year” award by the San Antonio B'nai B'rith Council. He is honored with the Zionist Organization of America's “Israel Award.”

Also, who is James Baker? He is a McCain endorser who, as secretary of State, was famous for telling the president “Fuck the Jews.” Are we all OK with that, neocons who are hysterical about Samantha Power, Rob Malley, and Zbigniew Brzezinski?

Is anti-Semitism growing in the United States? Antisemitic Incidents Down for Third Year: “The ADL counted 1,357 antisemitic incidents in the United States last year, compared with 1,554 in 2006 -- a 13% decrease. The number of reported episodes has declined steadily for the past three years, according to the organization.”

George Zornick adds: During televised political discussions, it's always good journalistic form to identify if the person talking is actively supporting a candidate's campaign -- is the person giving their analysis, or the party line? (That's an indistinguishable difference for some pundits these days, but nevermind. At least tell us if the commentator has been hired by a politician to be there). So when we see this, it's disturbing:

Republican strategist and Fox News contributor Karl Rove appeared on Fox News' America's Election HQ and Hannity & Colmes to discuss the presidential race, but none of the hosts -- Bill Hemmer, Sean Hannity, or Alan Colmes -- asked Rove whether he was “informally advising” Sen. John McCain's campaign, as a Politico article citing "[a] top McCain adviser" reported, and none noted that Rove has reportedly confirmed donating to McCain's campaign.

This is somewhat ambiguous, since Rove is only reported -- albeit by a top McCain adviser -- to be on board with the campaign. But the hosts have to at least ask the question. Beyond just being bad journalistic form in this case, it's also doubly problematic because Karl Rove is considered by many to be a chief architect of the Bush presidency, and so his active support of John McCain raises the question of how closely McCain's leadership would mirror that of the past eight years. It's a question voters have to evaluate, and it's important to have crucial facts like this. If in the coming months Rove ever leaves the comfy confines of Fox News for, say, the Sunday show circuit, it will be interesting to see if he is identified properly.

Speaking of the Sunday talk circuit, The New York Times reports (via CJR) that Barack Obama made a conscious decision to avoid it as a freshman senator:

Determined to be viewed as substantive, Mr. Obama kept his head down, declining Sunday talk show invitations for his first year, and consulted Senate elders for advice.

So Sen. Obama thinks not appearing on Meet the Press, et al, helps him to be seen as substantive. Let's hope he explains to Russert exactly why he believes that during his next appearance. That would be a substantive interview.

Alter-reviews: Springsteen on Long Island, 3/10/08

I was among the lucky ones to see Bruce at the Nassau Coliseum on New Year's Eve 1980-81, which remains the longest show he's ever done -- and that's long, believe me -- and the last time he played there. Since I saw him there in the spring of 1978, though -- when it was the biggest hall he'd ever played -- I don't think I've set foot in the place in 30 years otherwise.

Monday night's show was probably the third best of the three I've seen there, but hey, I am praising the man with faint damn. It was actually terrific, the best of the four shows I've seen on this tour. He opened by proclaiming “Good evening, Long Island -- half-brothers and -sisters of New Jersey!” Magic is a great album to be played live, and “Girls in their Summer Clothes” is a damn near perfect rock 'n' roll song. He opened with “Night” (as he did the first time I saw him, at the Palladium in 1976), and we got an absolutely exquisite “Incident” and a burning “Adam Raised a Cain” and a typically haunting “Jungleland.” “Ramrod” was also a killer. “Is it sexy time?” Bruce asked, answering himself: “It's fuck-up time!” The rest of our fu**ups should be so damn great.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Steve Zeoli
Hometown: Hubbardton, Vermont

Among the many issues stirred up by the Spitzer melodrama is that it clearly demonstrates why Democrats should have pushed hard for impeachment of George Bush last year. The GOP in New York have already threatened Spitzer with impeachment. Think about it -- the GOP are saying (rightly so) that a governor who betrays his state as Spitzer has done does not deserve to be in office. They said it fast and they said it hard. Compare that to the pussyfooting of the Democrats about the actions of George Bush. Bush lied our way into a disastrous war that has cost thousands of American lives, tens of thousands (even possibly hundreds of thousands) of innocent Iraqi lives, and trillions of dollars. Bush has broken the law (illegally eavesdropping on U.S. citizens), thumbed his nose at the Constitution (refusing to comply with Congress' constitutionally mandated oversight function), has broken international treaties that were ratified by his country (torture), and used the Justice Department to finagle the outcome of elections. Anyone of these perfidies is impeachable. Yet the Democrats refused to act. And what are the messages this sends: 1. That paying a prostitute for sex is worse than shitting on the Constitution; and 2. That the Democrats have no moral compass whatsoever. Once again, I say shame on them.

Name: Greg Hughes
Hometown: Oradell, NJ

I almost never agree with you, though do check out your blog daily. Although I don't think prostitution is morally wrong and I agree that it should be legalized and taxed, I do think it's morally wrong if you're married. Should he resign because of his status as a “John” ? I don't know, I'm on the fence, but the real kicker is that if the feds can prove a case of “structure” with how he paid for his fun. This is part of the anti-money laundering laws. If he's indicted on structure charges, he should step down.

Name: Carl Lowe
Hometown: Arab, Alabama

Dear Dr. Alterman,

Is it just me, or did Sunday's 60 Minutes report on John McCain Sunday resemble a campaign-produced promotional film? I kept waiting for one -- ONE! -- tough question. But it was a wait in vain. I couldn't figure how a puff piece created by his own staff could have been any more flattering. Even a shot of an example of his “temper” merely featured him quietly telling a reporter that he didn't think much of her question.

Name: Bob Davis, editor, Anniston Star
Hometown: Anniston, Ala.

Re your comments on local markets and Alabama newspapers:

Our paper recently completed a four-part series on telecommunications deregulation, Compressed Air. Thought you might wanna see it. The link is here.

By the way, we are a non-chain, locally owned newspaper.

Name: Robert Von Bargen
Hometown: Blue Santa Monica!

Hey, I haven't bothered with Fox's business news show yet but have you ever tried to watch Fox's attempt at comedy -- the Red Eye show?

I monitor Fox whenever my blood pressure gets low and I've tried to watch this show a few times. It is truly awful.

The host has a permanent Kristollian sneer and he is obviously reading from a teleprompter the inane questions he asks his panelists. And what a panel; unknown comics and out of work actors with no clue about curent events and, apparently no writers before or after the strike. Ghastly. I'd heard it was being cancelled last year but it's still around.

See you next month at the Book Fair here. It is one of the high points of my year and I know you'll enjoy it.

Name: John B
Hometown: Des Moines, IA


You couldn't have said it better here. It's well past time for reasonable people to stop backing down from bigots of all stripes and call them what they are. This guy is a prime example of someone who should be shamed right out of the public square. Just because someone has a title of prominence or a TV or radio show, or a regular gig as a columnist does not mean they should be allowed to spout hatred without a strong response. In any case all indications are that the current wave of immigrants isn't at all different from those that came before, regardless of race, religion, or place of origin. That's a good thing. Too bad the hatred hasn't changed, either.

Name: Thomas Heiden
Hometown: Stratford, CT


You mentioned that prostitution should be legalized. Nevada aside, prostitution is legal. The “johns” are on K Street. The pimps are also known as the United States Congress. Whose body is being sold? Look in the mirror, my fellow citizens.

Eric replies: Sorry dude, this does not work at all. Johns pay for sex. Lobbyists just have fun with other people's money. And again, you're insulting prostitutes as if the rest of us are morally superior to them. But why? Because they make a living in a distasteful way? They sure provide a necessary service to society. Sorry, stop insulting whores, everybody. (It was the close friend of a whore, I believe, who said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone ...” )