But I would not be convicted by a jury of my peers ...


I did this 4,500 word piece on the history/assessment of Marty Peretz's 33-year tenure as owner of The New Republic for The American Prospect here. To be honest, the piece I turned in was approximately twice as long, and could easily be twice as long as that, and twice as long as that, etc., but I just stopped writing, because it was already twice too long ...

One aspect of the article that is entirely missing is any discussion of Peretz the human being. There's not a word about his personal life -- which, of course, is the way I think it should be -- but there is also not a word about the manner in which he uses the magazine and his blog to cast moral and ethical aspersions toward those who have achieved so much more in life than he has -- unless we are measuring achievement in the negative sense. The part I most regret losing was the collection of this endless stream of insults of almost comical childishness and obsessiveness, which is what makes "The Spine" such a joy to read every day. I guess I'll post those one of these days, but for now, I'll let the piece stand on its own.

So I was planning to do this item on a new report on the political skewing of talk radio, which the Center for American Progress and Free Press plan to release on Thursday, but -- and this is my fault -- it's not really coming out until Thursday and Campus Progress has first dibs, so read about it there, then. And if you're a college journalist, try to go to their journalism conference next week and thank Ralph Nader for helping to send the kid to college but not for electing George W. Bush and causing all of his horribleness with which we now live.

In the absence of that report's release, I am reminded that I somehow did not manage to mention our sponsor's report of a few weeks ago regarding the misportrayal of religious people and religious values throughout the media. I was reminded of this when reading, somewhere, in a winter 2005 wrap-up on the issue, Time magazine concluded that religious Americans were "unlikely to be seduced" by Democrats so long as the party stuck to its "core positions," as if some obvious-but-fundamental conflict existed between the two that did not even warrant definition. The report is called "Left Behind: The Skewed Representation of Religion in Major News Media."

Among the study's key findings:

  • Combining newspapers and television, conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed in news stories 2.8 times as often as were progressive religious leaders.
  • On television news -- the three major television networks, the three major cable news channels, and PBS -- conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed almost 3.8 times as often as progressive leaders.
  • In major newspapers, conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed 2.7 times as often as progressive leaders.

Despite the fact most religious Americans are moderate or progressive, in the news media it is overwhelmingly conservative leaders who are presented as the voice of religion. This represents a particularly meaningful distortion since progressive religious leaders tend to focus on different issues and offer an entirely different perspective than their conservative counterparts. It's all here.

My city kicks your city's

, Part XVI: Diana Roberta was in Starbucks on 81st and Broadway, and also there, waiting on line for -- well, she didn't know what, but wearing a black baseball cap and being forced to listen to and stare at Paul McCartney's unbelievably bad new record: Paul Simon.

We win again ...

I hear what you're saying but, with all due respect, it's not exactly rocket science, here.

From TomDispatch:

Karen J. Greenberg, co-editor of The Torture Papers and executive director of the Center on Law and Security at NYU, takes up the important case of four Iranian-American scholars and activists with dual citizenship recently thrown in jail by the Iranian regime. President Bush has denounced their imprisonment (as well he should) and the administration has demanded their release.

Greenberg explores the particular dilemma in which the Bush administration now finds itself in demanding their release -- a dilemma that gives the old phrase, "hoist by one's own petard," new meaning. She begins:

For Americans, it should be startling to see the word 'detainee' suddenly appear in a different country, on a different continent, and referring not to alleged jihadi terrorists but to a group of Americans. After all, 'detainee' is the word the Bush administration coined to deal with suspected terrorist captives who, they argued, should be subjected to extra-legal treatment as part of the Global War on Terrorism. Now, that terminology is, as critics long predicted might happen, being turned against American citizens.

She then considers all the "uncomfortable parallels" between the situations of American "detainees" in Guatanamo and Iranian "detainees" in Evin prison (where the four American citizens are evidently being held). About this, she knows a good deal, having only lately, among other things, toured Guantanamo and written about it for Tomdispatch.com

As she points out, "At the inception of the war on terror, the Bush administration broke the very rules it now accuses the Iranians of breaking." In doing so, its top officials obliterated the "moral high ground" from which they might have effectively demanded action by Iran today. As she concludes, "Try as they might, Bush administration officials can only cry foul by calling attention to their own systematic violations of justice and the law. In their mouths, the appeal to fundamental rights rings hollow indeed, depriving Americans of the protections afforded by once-accepted standards of decency and justice."

Alter-reviews by Tony, NYCD

SONIC YOUTH -- Daydream Nation (Deluxe Edition): This is the third Sonic Youth album to be deluxe-ified by Universal Music. I found the other two, "Goo" and "Dirty," to have aged badly upon listening to them for the first time in years. But "Daydream Nation," their 1988 breakthrough album, still sounds as exciting and groundbreaking as it did almost twenty years ago. It's a perfect cross between the spacy, almost jammy SY records of later years and the tight, catchy, alterna-rocky songs they were doing during their early '90s commercial heyday. Some of the songs may be long (six of the fourteen are seven minutes or longer), but they're focused, and the playing is among the best the band ever did.

The second disc features mostly live versions of the "Daydream" songs, which don't add anything to the studio versions but still show Sonic Youth to be a powerhouse live band. Better still are the four cover versions tacked onto the end of Disc Two, including a Kim Gordon-sung cover of Mudhoney's "Touch Me I'm Sick" that rips the original to shreds and a killer take on Neil Young's "Computer Age."

This record lays the blueprint for '90s alternative rock. If you've never owned it before, now's the time.

FRANKIE VALLI & THE 4 SEASONS -- Jersey Beat (box set): You can love or hate Frankie Valli's glass-shattering falsetto, but there's no denying that the 4 Seasons songs were some of the greatest of the '60s, and Bob Crewe's production turned them into great records. Even the Beatles and the British Invasion couldn't derail the Seasons' hitmaking machine. "Rag Doll," "Dawn," "Walk Like A Man," "Dawn," "Sherry," "Let's Hang On" ... they're all here and then some on this three-CD/DVD box set, no doubt inspired by the success of "Jersey Boys," the musical based on their career.

There are plenty of single and double disc anthologies out there, so this may not be the place where casual fans should start. But if you want more than just the hits, then this is a great package. Thick booklet with lots of pics and informative notes, all the songs you know and lots you don't know, a DVD with rare vintage performances... the works. It also includes all their big '70s hits like "Grease," "Oh What A Night," and "Who Loves You."

Valli and the 4 Seasons were the Beach Boys' East Coast counterpart, yet they've never received the same critical acclaim. This set will hopefully help to change that.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Rick Kane
Hometown: Locust Grove, Virginia

Reading Mr. Krauthammer's column, it contains an irony on almost every line. (George Bush and "genius" being in the same sentence is something even conservatives now avoid.) But I found the following sentence chilling and tragic: "Who defines reality: there lies the difference between this Administration and the last. Clinton let Russian opposition define reality. Bush, like Reagan, understands that the U.S. can reshape, indeed remake, reality on its own." I suspect that privately even Mr. Krauthammer might be thinking now "reality bites."

I will mention one final irony; the column specifically was on the subject of "missile defense" and voiding the ABM treaty. That treaty is now voided, Russia is stronger and far more adversarial to the U.S. then it was in 2001, we have dumped over a hundred billion dollars into this black pit, and of course we still don't have (and for very sound reasons of science will never have) a missile defense against nuclear armed missiles. But being a neocon means not only never saying sorry, but never admitting being wrong.

Glenn Greenwald has a wonderful blog on the related topic of the conservative cult of masculinity and its tragic silliness today.

Name: Kate
Hometown: Honolulu

Eric, come on, that video was not "great," it was disgusting -- not unlike the Harold Ford commercial which sunk his campaign last year. Turn an attractive black man into nothing more than a stud, how 18th century are we?

Eric replies: We disagree.

Name: Leon B.
Hometown: Wallington, NJ

This link is an article in the most recent issue of the New Yorker by Seymour Hersh on the destruction of Army General Antonio M. Tagaba for his very critical report on the de facto permitted and torture upon prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Taguba retired in January and is now speaking about how is report was ignored, and indeed the extreme rejection of his report by the military up to and including then Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. The article is a obscene indictment of Rumsfeld and others for their policies as to Abu Ghraib and deserves more attention.

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