Two book deals and a microphone ...

Why We're Liberals is reviewed with Arianna's book in The New York Sun today unfavorably, here, by an ex-editor of Reader's Digest. Also, Joan McCarter is the first respondent in the Why We're Liberals Book Club discussion over at TPM Cafe's book club. She begs to differ, alas.

Congrats to Simon & Schuster on their $3 million deal with noted thinker and author Glenn Beck. Let's hope we are treated to even more of the genius of this self-described “rodeo clown,” as evidenced in his CNN Headline News program Exposed: Climate of Fear. Shortly before the broadcast, the host had publicly compared Al Gore to Adolf Hitler and warned falsely that global warming activists wanted the United Nations to run the world and to implement a “global carbon tax.” (The network followed up with another Beck special, Exposed: The Extremist Agenda, which sounded the alarm about the dangers emanating from American Muslims.) Although Beck's special actually landed the network in last place during its broadcast, it nevertheless added credence to the view that journalism -- even on CNN -- cannot treat complex issues even remotely responsibly. “Climate of Fear” appeared long after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change decreed the fact of global warming to be “unequivocal,” yet somehow the network believed it legitimate to lend credibility to the same discredited, industry-financed conservative fantasists to whom virtually no reputable scientist any longer gave credence. (ABC News likewise found Beck's views so enlightening that they were willing to share him as a commentator.)

More Beck genius:

  • “She's the stereotypical bitch.” (On Hillary Clinton)
  • “A pretty big prostitute.” (On Cindy Sheehan)
  • “Scumbags . . . I didn't think I could hate victims faster than the 9-11 victims.” (On Katrina victims)

Everyone's parents must be most proud ...

Alissa Quart has an interesting piece on the future of journalism here.

From Romenesko, without comment:

New York Post fires reporter who filed racial profiling lawsuit
New York Daily News
On the same day the New York Post claimed racial profiling by police wasn't a growing problem, Post reporter Leonardo Blair, 28, filed a federal lawsuit against New York City claiming to be a victim of such profiling. The Post fired him a few days later.

Speaking of lists:

Here's Pierce ...

My Top Ten:

1) Casablanca
2) The Wizard of Oz
3) Local Hero
4) The Godfather, Part Two
5) Annie Hall
6) Duck Soup
7) Henry V (The Branagh version)
8) Tootsie
9) Letters From Iwo Jima
10) His Girl Friday

Other teams receiving votes: McCabe And Mrs. Miller; Little Big Man; Deadline USA; Knute Rockne, All American.

Oh, and everything McCartney's done since the White Album has blown goats. Pass it on.

Essential jazz albums, by Phil Schaap as told to David Remnick.

George Zornick writes:

Last week I noted a nutty column from Kathleen Parker, in which she insinuated that “heritage,” “bloodlines,” and “roots” were all reasons Barack Obama shouldn't be president. It ran in papers across the country.

The column was widely pilloried in the blogosphere, which must have caught the attention of Washington Post editors, since they gave Parker prime op-ed real estate over the weekend. Her new column was advertised on the front page of the paper thusly: “Kathleen Parker: Two Democratic Pretty Boys.” (h/t Greenwald)

Having exhausted, for now, the Obama-is-too-dark argument, Parker moves on to another well-worn assault on Democrats -- they're probably gay! It begins:

Well, at least they didn't kiss.

I was bracing myself for the lip lock Wednesday when John Edwards endorsed Barack Obama.

She goes on to talk sarcastically about “manly air-hug[s],” and says the two lack the “pure brawn” to “sit across from the likes of Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

It bears repeating that, after writing a substance-less bit of white supremacy, the Washington Post then invited Ms. Parker to the op-ed page to write a piece essentially calling Democrats queer. To quote Greenwald: There is “no such thing as being too far to the Right to fall off the mainstream spectrum.” And this, also, isn't even just a matter of right and left -- it's about journalism versus empty, paranoid, politically motivated screeds.

An odd defense of the Pentagon's military analyst propaganda program emerged yesterday. Here's what White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said about the secretive administration briefing of military analysts, who also had multi-million dollar contracts with top defense industries, and would then go on to pretend to be objective news analysts:

But it's not unusual for administration officials to brief people who are talking about our plans and our policies... just like I'm standing here answering your question and you go out on your liberal blog and talk about, you know, the way that you see things, we brief people who talk about the president's policies.

Let's not waste time unpacking the silliness of that defense. Note though that Stanzel was being asked about the program because recently released documents contained this email from a Pentagon staffer: " “Id love to see if we ocould [sic] get them [the analysts] in with potus as well. (I think that was submitted to karl and company...last week),” indicating possible Oval Office involvement in this program. (By the way, can anyone come up with a catchy name for this mess? “Propaganda program involving retired military analysts” doesn't exactly roll off the tongue).

One further note: When talking about the military personnel embedded in the media, it's worth remembering all the media personnel embedded in the military in recent years. Sociologist Andrew M. Lindner has published a study in the American Sociological Association's “Contexts” magazine about the embed program in Iraq, which found that:

The embedded program proved to be a Pentagon victory because it kept reporters focused on the horrors facing the troops, not the horrors of the civilian war experience. [...] The end result: a communications victory for an administration that hoped to build support for the war by depicting it as a successful mission with limited cost.

More here.

Quote of the day, courtesy Matt Lauer on Today: “You say we've got to use more undercover agents, informants, wiretapping, email surveillance, the works. The sound you just heard, Michael, is the far left, grabbing for their remote controls, 'cause they say, you're going to do this, you're going to trample civil liberties.”

The far left? Can we send this guy back around the world?

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Fred Leonhardt
Hometown: Portland, OR

Here's a Slate "Bushism of the Day" that flew under the radar. Bush is responding to a question about what advice he would give the next president:

“Take the Middle East seriously because that's the center of -- that's the place where people get so despondent and despair that they're willing to come and take lives of U.S. citizens.” -- on advice he would give the next president, Washington, D.C., May 12, 2008.

Now imagine the MSM reaction if Barack Obama had said the 9-11 hijackers had been motivated by despondency and despair.

Name: Ben Miller
Hometown: Washington, DC

Mr. Alterman,

You wrote on Monday about David Ignatius' piece where he wrote that if Obama truly cared about uniting the country, he would go outside the party for his nominee for VP. Ignatius then compares Obama to the Maverick. Of course Ignatius failed to mention that in 2004, didn't John Kerry approach McCain about being his VP, and yet the Maverick turned it down to instead go campaign for W?

Name: Bob Rothman
Hometown: Providence, RI


I too was interested in the article about the editorship of the Post, but you might note that Steve Coll is not entirely “refusing interest in running the second most important paper in the country to be a writer.” He's also president of the New America Foundation. That's not a bad gig either.

I was tempted to jump in with a top 10 movie list, but I think I'll pass for now. But I can't help comment on Tomasky's comment. “Peggy Sue Got Married” is Coppola's best movie??? With Nicolas Cage's helium voice???

Name: Thomas Beck
Hometown: East Windsor, NJ

I was at Yankee Stadium Sunday night, and it was truly depressing. I don't know what is wrong with the Yankees this year -- can players truly lose their hitting skills over a single winter? And if only their pitchers didn't have to pitch the fourth inning.

Also, can Mets fans please wait until you actually, you know, um, WIN something before you start acting like yours is the greatest team in the history of team sports? So you won two games over the Yankees. In May. Need I remind any of you of 2000? Shall I say that again -- 2000? You've won precisely NOTHING in 21 years now and counting; cheer for your team as much as you like, but it's not as if the Mets are the Montreal Canadiens or the Boston Celtics or Manchester United ... or, dare I say it, the New York Yankees.

Greatest movies: Casablanca, sure, and Groundhog Day, too; but what about Children of Paradise or Grand Illusion or The Rules of the Game? How about, for sheer fun, The Man Who Would Be King? Or Dr. Strangelove or Days of Heaven or The Tall Guy or The Empire Strikes Back or Forbidden Games or Throne of Blood?

Eric replies: Did you read the item, dude? I said they sucked this year ... (albeit not compared with the Yankees).

Name: Mark Bond
Hometown: Agoura Hills

Two quick points: Winning games after the 7th inning is rare and you'd find most teams have a similar record as the Yankees.

Mr. Tomasky is wrong twice regarding Coppola. Not only are Godfathers I and II great movies but if you want to replace them with another film as Coppola's best it is “The Conversation,” not “Peggy Sue” that would be the correct choice.

Name: Larry Matasar
Hometown: Portland, OR

I completely agree with your view of baseball announcers. BUT, as the great Bill James recently said: “The people who analyze politics on television say absolutely ridiculous things with a frequency that would make the laziest baseball announcer look like Socrates by comparison.”

Name: Jeff Lichtman
Hometown: El Cerrito, CA

Late last year the major league general managers voted 25 to 5 in favor of allowing instant replay to be used for just the sort of scenario you described. This doesn't necessarily mean it will happen -- the issue has been passed on to Bud Selig, who has opposed instant replay in the past and who can take years to make decisions on the simplest matters.

Here's an article about it on

The Why We're Liberals subtitle suggestions, continued ...

Name: Jane Flanagan
Hometown: Brookline, MA

The Definitive Argument for any Altercation

Name: Bob Fasinski
Hometown: Flemington, NJ

Why We're Liberals: And the Failure of Contemporary Conservatism

Name: Dennis Giszczak
Hometown: Lansing, Mich.

Why we're liberals: “In order to form a more perfect Union”

Name: Jane Scharankov
Hometown: Alexandria, VA

1.Why We're Liberals: Thinking Beyond Sound Bites
2. Why We're Liberals: Thinking Clearly
3. Why We're Liberals: Reality Based Solutions
4. Why We're Liberals: Fact-Based Policy Choices
5. Why We're Liberals: Pragmatic People with Practical Solutions
6. Why We're Liberals: Democracy Is Complicated
7. Why We're Liberals: Truth Matters
8. Why We're Liberals: We Care
9. Why We're Liberals: Freedom Requires It
10. Why We're Liberals: Freedom Guides Us

Name: Karen Creighton
Hometown: Hopkinsville, KY

Ooh. Reading the submissions brought up this:

Why We're Liberals: The Silenced Majority.

Name: George L Merkert III
Hometown: Los Angeles

Here's a suggestion for a new subtitle:

“Why We're Liberals: Restoring Truth And Justice To The American Way.”

Name: Stephen Carver
Hometown: Los Angeles

Why We're Liberals:
1. Keeping the Founders' Promise of the American Dream
2. Fighting 50 Years of Mis-information
3. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
4. We the People
5. Re-discovering the Constitution in the Age of Materialism
6. It Ain't Easy Being Elitist
7. And Why You (Secretly) Are, Too
8. Born in the USA (with thanks to Bruce)

Name: Dan R.
Hometown: Lancaster PA

1)The shepherds of freedom and justice.

2)Protecting conservatives from themselves.

3)Defending the ideals of our founding fathers.

Name: Sandy Volentine
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ

Dr. Alterman:

I liked the idea of referencing the founding documents (media), turned to the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, and saw a word besides “liberal” that is now abused beyond recognition, i.e., welfare, as in “promote the general Welfare.”

My suggestions --Why We're Liberals:

  • To Form A More Perfect Union
  • A Legacy of Liberty
  • Our Sacred Rights
  • Sacred Rights, Sacred Trust
  • A Sacred Legacy for Our Children

Or you could just run the preamble as your subtitle. It has a nice turn of phrase, and it's in the public domain.

Name: Alan Deikman
Hometown: Fremont, CA

You want to sell paperbacks, do you?

Why We're Liberals: and how to lose 20 pounds in just 30 days.