Slacker Friday


I've got a new "Think Again" column called "Limbaugh and the Military: No Story There," here, and a new Nation column, "Burns's 'War': What is It Good For?"

Congrats to Al Gore for a well deserved Nobel Peace Prize. If I were one of these pundit fellows, I would opine that the only way this prize can be turned into a successful run for the Democratic nomination would be to strike a deal with Barack Obama in the next seventy hours or so for Obama to agree to step aside and run as Gore's vice president (which would give Edwards the opportunity to strike his own deal for a poverty-czar style job and drop out gracefully ...). It sounds crazy, I know, but it also makes sense. Otherwise, it's already too late, and as I've written here before, I don't think Gore really wants it all that badly (and I'd be amazed if Obama would agree to the above as well).

Here is Bob Bateman on Blackwater.

All honor to Jackson and Bonnie (and Bob Greenwald) for sticking with this issue, many years after I saw the first concert for it at the Palladium -- the one before the big Garden shows with Bruce -- and for making this intelligent, effective video in opposition to the secretive expansion of nuclear power plants in America.

Here, Clive James shows Christopher Hitchens how to review a Philip Roth novel knowledgeably and intelligently. James Wood did so also in this week's New Yorker but it's not online. I didn't read Ruth Franklin's review in TNR, because how many of these can you read, but I did read Alan Wolfe's review of the new Garry Wills book on Christianity ($). I am more in awe of Wills' abilities than Wolfe is, so I am not in agreement with much of it, but Wolfe is far more knowledgeable on the topic than I am, but anyway, the piece -- and I'm sure the book -- is more than worth your time.

Alter-question: Whose whining about their own sad lives is funnier/more pathetic? The liberal hawks? Or poor (literally) Brendan Nyhan?

Quote of the Day: Again, the invaluable Paul Krugman:

All in all, the Graeme Frost case is a perfect illustration of the modern right-wing political machine at work, and in particular its routine reliance on character assassination in place of honest debate. If service members oppose a Republican war, they're "phony soldiers"; if Michael J. Fox opposes Bush policy on stem cells, he's faking his Parkinson's symptoms; if an injured 12-year-old child makes the case for a government health insurance program, he's a fraud. Meanwhile, leading conservative politicians, far from trying to distance themselves from these smears, rush to embrace them. And some people in the news media are still willing to be used as patsies.

Lifted from Harper's:

And finally we come to the man who surely claims the prize as WaPo's most pathetic shill, Howard Kurtz. He masquerades as a media critic. In fact he's a media buffoon. But beyond that, Kurtz is one of the dumbest figures in print or on the airwaves. That all came home brilliantly last night as Kurtz made his appearance on Jon Stewart's Daily Show. I was amazed both with Stewart and Kurtz. Together with his staff, Stewart delivered a satirically brilliant introduction, with videos, which effectively eviscerated Kurtz's core message about the war and its packaging. Stewart also delivered a series of precise, well thought-through questions to which Kurtz gave a series of non-responses. And on point after point, Stewart challenged Kurtz's facile and false conclusions. Kurtz was hung up to dry. And he didn't even understand what was happening. It does in my mind come down to Broder, Ignatius and Kurtz. But I'm giving top honors to Howard: the man who's done the most to destroy WaPo's reputation in the arena of opinion.

Catch Kurtz on The Daily Show here. Go, Johnny, go ...

Marty Peretz Quote of the Day:

Marty Peretz, 9/17/06:

It's really quite amazing to see so many Muslims having a temper fit about the Pope locating a propensity toward violence in Islam and then watching as its militants proceed to firebomb Christian churches in revenge. As of Sunday a.m., at least seven churches had been firebombed in what's called Palestine alone. Five of these were not even Catholic, which reflects Islam's sloppy and undiscerning conception of the other. A non-believer is a non-believer. You don't have to know anything else. (The other churches were Greek Orthodox and Anglican, and the fact that the episcopates of these churches habitually dissembled--no, lied--for the Arab cause did not protect them at all.) Is there anything the Palestinians don't like to which they fail to react with violence, as if violence refutes the Pope's words? But the outrage about Bendict XVI was not at all limited to feverish Palestine. In fact, its incoherent frenzy quickly went round the world, from Pakistan and Indonesia to Morocco and Turkey and Egypt. And, of course, also into Iraq from where the Mujahadeen Army (a Sunni terrorist group) addressed the Vicar of Christ as "you dog of Rome." Even if the Pope had been totally in error in his remarks and given what high Muslims habitually say about Christians and Jews, doesn't this hatred aimed at him and his religion somehow confirm that he is right?

Posted by M. Duss

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

"Come all you young rebels, and list' while I sing/That the love of a country, is a terrible thing."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: Rosalie (New Orleans Hellhounds) -- Once again, I have failed to secure financing that will enable me to purchase a fleet of soundbarges that will circumnavigate the globe, telling the world how much I love New Orleans.

Hillary's answer to Keith Olbermann as to why she voted for the absurd Kyl-Lieberman Iran resolution is wholly unsatisfactory. "I believe in sanctions." Really? Well, the feckless bunch you further empowered believes in bombers and in smashing up more American lives in support of its various schemes and pipe dreams. Saying this now is like saying you voted for the Iraq AUMF so the president -- THIS president - could go to the U.N. with a stonger negotiating position. Stupid, senator, and very, very wrong. Plus, these days, voting for anything with the name "Lieberman" attached to it should get your peers rolling in the aisles.

As part of my new get-rich-quick scheme as described in last week's post, I am currently in negotiations to promote Klein-Malkin I on the topic of health care. I can't get the parking lot at Caesar's, but I'm thinking Bay St. Louis or Tunica might work.

Wait. Where are the Yankees? I'm confused. Worst investment strategy originating in Houston -- Enron or Roger Clemens? Discuss.

More and more, the unsatisfying denouement to the Iran-Contra scandal looks more and more like a last chance. Charlie Savage makes quite plain in his book that Richard Cheney's "minority" report out of the Iran-Contra congressional inquiry was a virtual road map to where we are now, and John Dean reminds us in his new book that the impeachment of ol' Dutch Reagan went off the table because the White House hired certified Serious Person Howard Baker to clean up the administrative details at the Reagan White House. (How hiring a new janitor mitigates criminal actions is, apparently, not for our small minds to ponder.) What is important to remember is how that scandal was sold to us. It was "complicated." It was "byzantine." It was "too hard to keep track of," so the best thing we all could do as self-governing citizens was not to waste our time trying to figure out ther whole mess and rely on the good Serious people of Washington to hash it out. It can be argued that it was in the aftermath that the country went on automatic pilot for good.

Now, I guarantee you, as the crimes and depredations of the Avignon Presidency come increasingly to light -- rats and sinking ships, after all -- we are going to hear that again. We are going to "move forward,' put "our difference behind us," and not "dwell on the past." The increasingly idiotic Democratic party already is in that mode. It is up to us whether or not we will be infantilized further. I honest-to-god believe at this point that it might be entirely too late.

Name: Mark
Hometown: Clarksburg, MD

Though I agree that Turkey did commit genocide. I wonder what the reaction would be in this country if others began passing resolutions condemning the US for its genocide (and that's what it was) of Native Americans.

Maybe we should just keep our mouths shut.

Just sayin'.

Name: Jason Cravat
Hometown: Brooklyn

All due respect, you should have noted that in addition to working for Lynne Cheney, Bob Barnett also negotiated fat book contracts for Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Elizabeth Edwards. My understanding is that he's pretty much the go-to guy for politicians on the left and right. You can still say Braver shouldn't have done the interview, but I really don't think its right-wing propaganda.

Eric replies: Um, Jason, dude, sorry but you're not making any sense. I said Braver's interview was a conflict of interest. If Braver had interviewed either of the Clintons, Obama or Edwards, that too would be a conflict of interest. Did she? I never heard about it. Why you're brining up "propaganda" here also mystifies me, alas...

Name: Dan Garfinkel
Hometown: Pittsburgh

I agree on the insane intensity of Bruce live, having seen Bruce many, many times, but disagree on no one coming close. The Who in 1976 were a religious experience, filled with anger and joy, and The Band, touring on their second album, brought me to tears ... the only rock n' roll band to ever do that. Keep up the good work and keep on rockin'.

Eric replies: Well I saw The Who in 1979 and again last year, and the Band in 1976, and I'm sticking with my story.

Name: Kurt
Hometown: Seattle

"Anyway, my point is that live, no one in my experience of 37 years of concert-going, which is a few thousand concerts, has ever come close ..."

You sound like a Richard Thompson fanatic! Who is, in fact, the best live rock-and-roll performer ever.

Eric replies: I like Richard Thompson. I especially like that last DVD where he played the last thousand years of music. But the above statement is just nuts. I think he'd have to agree...

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