He's a perfect stranger/Like the cross of himself and a fox

Charles Pierce again, altercating alternately while the Wonks Over The World Tour '08 continues apace. Note to The Doc's audiences: It doesn't matter how many lighters you wave, or what you throw up on the stage, the man doesn't do encores. Once he does Chapter Two from When Presidents Lie -- complete with laser show and 25-minute drum solo -- the show's over. And you should see the rider in the contract. Anyway:

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: “Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit” (The McCoy Tyner Quartet) -- Once again, I failed to keep up the payments on the herd of tap-dancing elk whose antlers spell out in flawless Ojibwe how much I love New Orleans.

I don't think it would have been too much of an imposition for one of our networks, or even one of our cable news operations, to have put together a sentimental farewell on behalf of our old friend who died yesterday. One of those weepy things with the tinkly piano music, and a film of clouds moving slowly across the sky, like CBS does every year with The Masters. Seems like the least we could have done.

Campaign Update: As you may have noticed, the Bateman/Pierce '08 ticket is once again a smooth-running, vote-getting, weapon-wielding machine. I also approve of my running mate's suggestion that we accept all applications for Cabinet positions. (Ambassadorships remain in my gift. The price list will appear on this site periodically depending upon when I need the money.) I also would like to announce that, immediately after President Bateman's inauguration -- at which I intend to follow precisely the precedent set in 1865 by my illustrious predecessor Andrew Johnson -- I will announce the first winner of the Vice President For A Day Contest. For a (cough, hack) nominal entry fee -- Open To Negotiations. Decision Of The Incumbent Is Final -- one lucky citizen per day will get to do my job, which, as I said in announcing my candidacy, I have no intention of doing myself. Further updates will be forthcoming.

A note to Altercator Jackson. You are, of course, correct on the subject of the uisce beatha, but let's not tell my running mate now that we've patched everything up. And as for Altercator Jim -- perhaps a descendant of John The Revelator -- what you say may be true, but without Charlie Patton and Son House, there's no Robert Johnson, and so on we go. But Elvis marked as distinct a fork in the road as ever was in popular music. Geils v. The Pixies is, of course, a matter of taste. But mine is, you know, correct. We move on.

Lot of talk today about the apparent free pass given to this gaffe. Two things to keep in mind: one, the chattering class in Washington is very heavily invested in the “Oh, Noes! Social Security Is Doomed!” school of thought. The late Monsignor Russert damned near made a career out of it, and even Aaron Sorkin had his fictional demi-liberal Toby Ziegler spouting the gospel of what Josh calls “bamboozlement.” Second, if the incumbent got away clean back on November 2, 2000, for spouting this gibberish -- “They want the federal government controlling Social Security like it's some sort of federal program” -- McCain's not likely to pay much of a public price.

The latest from one of our serious public intellectuals. If there is a just God in the universe, this $400 million human landfill one day will get stuck in an un-air-conditioned elevator with the entire Foster family.

He Are A Profeshunil Historyan: Perfesser Jonah Goldberg explains it all to you. Now, were I one of the “trade-union historians” who failed to appreciate the revisionist brilliance of his previous work, I might point out that academic rigor necessitates that the perfesser at least attempt to deal with this, or this, but especially this before making the argument he attempts to make as regards the historical value of racist backlash to the rise of modern Republicanism. I might also expect him not to attempt to think while playing with his toes. My optimism as regards the perfectibility of all of God's creatures remains limitless. But I do have to remind Doc Erics I and II, and LTC Bateman, that this character's working their side of the street. Can't you all police your own? I have a hard enough time dealing with the hopeless, abject charlatans working my side.

Oh, and just for fun, the “someone named Jonathan Karp” ? That'd be this guy. Credentials be damned, what'd this guy ever steal from The Simpsons anyway?

The decision by the Obamas to appear with their charming young daughters on a fluffy syndicated television program seems to have set off some hissing over in the Reptile House. As part of my ongoing career in continuing adult education, I will attempt to clear up the confusion.



Any questions?

It is an endless battle trying to get our conservative brethren and sistren -- pace Molly -- to come to grips with the fact that they are just not supposed to be cool. For example, under no circumstances should they ever attempt to discuss sports. I watched that entire match and somehow failed to see the unwieldy stack of clichés sitting there right alongside center court. For that matter, they should probably keep clear of the movies, too. They were so much more interesting when they thought popular culture was the work of the devil.

Of course, they're in no danger of misappropriating irony. They apparently wouldn't recognize it if it came up and slapped them. People's Exhibit 230,078 can be found here, in this remarkable sentence:

Notice it's always those who are old who are calling for mandatory time and energy commitments of the young.

Why, yes, Jim. I have noticed something very much like that very thing you're talking about, now that you mention it. Not much gets by you guys, does it?

Things that matter:

from LTC Bob

Many Altercators followed my recommendation to read a young Lieutenant's webpage about his experiences in Iraq on his blog called Kaboom. That page was removed, but re-registered by his girlfriend-now-fiancee, who continues to post information and updates. Today the news is not good.

For those who followed the trials and tribulations of “Lt G” and his platoon, and even those who did not, the sad news is that one of the platoon is down. “Pvt. Hotwheels,” as he was anonymously named by Lt G, is more accurately known as Private Matthew Wheeler. He was injured, burned badly, while refueling a generator on their base. I do not know if you believe in a god, or gods, or Gaia, or any other deity. But if you do, or if you merely wish to send on a few wholly secular well wishes, his mother is maintaining a site at Caring Bridge. (The Caring Bridge people provide free websites to the families of critically injured and ill people so they can keep people informed. They are not in any way associated with the military, but a lot of service families now use them. Maybe a donation in that direction might be one way to contribute. They are a 501(c)(3) organization.) Private Wheeler goes into surgery today.

Where is Karl Rove? For the second time, Rove is ignoring a congressional subpoena to testify under oath. American News Project tracked him down to get his side of the story ... and got dissed.

Why did The New York Times send a Dittohead to profile Rush Limbaugh? Read more here.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: John Loehr
Hometown: Free Union, Virginia

LTC Bateman: Regarding those SHNV types, you not having a dog isn't really a problem to them.

Perhaps you may recall the story Jim Valvano used to tell about the NCSU alumni, upset about him not beating UNC, saying, “you're a nice guy, and we like you, but we take our basketball seriously here, and if you don't beat UNC soon, we'll come to your house and shoot your dog.” Valvano replied that he could appreciate their frustration, and would work harder to beat the 'Heels, but he was sorry, he didn't have a dog. A few days later a puppy in a basket appeared on his doorstep with note that read “don't get too attached.”

Name: Sam
Hometown: Oakland, CA

You must be aware, “Eric the Read,” that you were on Jeopardy today 7/7/08, in that category.

I'm a fan of both Jeopardy and Altercation, so I was pleased for Eric.

Name: Susan Richmond
Hometown: Gig Harbor, Washington

Dr. Alterman,

You were a Double Jeopardy question ( “English prof & media pundit Eric Alterman is also the author of 'It Ain't No Sin to Be Glad You're Alive', about this rocker,” aired July 7).

This means you're now a cultural icon!

Name: Charles Poston
Hometown: Bedford, TX

Well, it's official, the Iraqi government is asking us to leave. The UN mandate runs out at the end of this year, so wouldn't leaving be the moral thing to do now? (He says, now expecting a gaggle of silly geese to tell him that what he heard only sounded very clear and unequivocal.)

Name: Thomas Heiden
Hometown: Stratford, CT


Although it struck a nerve at the time, I did not focus much on Liz Trotta's remarks about Obama being assassinated.

Today I see video of a woman being ejected from an “open” “town hall” McCain gathering; not just ejected, but ticketed. Her crime? She carried a sign saying, simply, “Bush = McCain.” She was in an open-air space. She was not yelling or even speaking. First the Secret Service got in her face, then the local police ticketed her and escorted her from the premises.

How is it that a 61-year-old librarian cannot carry this sign outside an “open” political rally, but a “newscaster” can say on air something like Trotta's disgraceful, dangerous, divisive remarks.

I thought it was illegal to “joke” about assassinating a president, vice-president, or candidate for either office -- in the same way it is illegal to “joke” about having a bomb on a plane. Am I wrong about this?

Name: John Curtin
Hometown: Boston

Dear LTC/President Bateman (and to lesser extent, Veep-to-be Pierce),

I would like to nominate myself to the position of Secretary of Education. I have absolutely zero qualifications for this position, other than that my mother was a schoolteacher, and my daughter attends school. I, myself, managed to squeak through thirteen years of primary and secondary education, and also completed the challenge of stretching a four-year degree program out to six years. I promise to do the absolute minimum amount of work to justify keeping my job, and will most likely spend a good deal of time hiding in the men's room with a magazine.

Please let me know when the swearing-in ceremony will take place, so that I can get my suit cleaned and pressed. Thanks.

Name: john
Hometown: Seattle

Hey Jim & DC,

Elvis is extremely unlikely to have heard of, let alone heard, Robert Johnson, before the Sun Sessions. He was influential on his peers and a younger generation, but he didn't gain wide influence until Columbia re-released his tracks in the early '60s. Dean Martin and Sister Rosetta Tharpe not only had a far greater impact on Elvis's early style, but Johnson's indirect impact probably wasn't all that great. Of the four corners of Elvis's style, pop, gospel, and country always outweighed the blues.

Name: Paul Greengross
Hometown: Granada Hills, CA

Does anyone dispute the fact that the greatest rock and roll band ever to come out of Georgia was the Allman Brothers Band?! BTW: Mr. Pierce, did you happen to be in Boston circa 1969 when J. Geils opened for every name band that came through The Hub? I was there: Jimi Hendix and J. Geils, Canned Heat and J. Geils, Liberace and J. Geils. Got a little tedious after a while!

Eric chimes in from Jerusalem:

ABB: musician for musician, single most accomplished, virtuosic band currently alive; possibly way back when as well. Gregg Allman: greatest white blues singer ever.

JGB: first time Altercation proprietor ever partook of the evil weed, sometime in 1975 in the basement of the then-Academy of Music, later Palladium, now, fond memory. Openers: Duke and the Drivers. (I told Peter Wolf this once and he was most proud.)