Slacker Friday


First off, there's a new "Think Again" column called "Rejected Reruns from the FCC" here, and hey, check out the terrific Tom Tomorrow cover of Why We're Liberals at (If you click on the cover, you can buy it pretty cheap at Amazon. I've not seen it listed at or Powell's but will add those links when they appear.)

From The Nation: Congratulations to Chris Hayes, The Nation's new DC bureau editor.

From Tom Dispatch:

Back in 1998, in his book Ecology of Fear, Mike Davis wrote everything about the Southern California "fire coast" that you'd ever need to know, if you didn't want to be surprised by the raging Santa Ana-driven wildfires of 2003 or 2007. Even then, the periodic firestorms were becoming ever more "apocalyptic" and, even then, "the essential land-use issue, the rampant, uncontrolled proliferation of fire-belt suburbs" was being ignored in a post-fire search for "arsonists."

In his first significant writing on the subject since the firestorms of this month practically ate San Diego County, he begins with a recent ceremony in which "500 wealthy business people and Republican Party donors raised their champagne glasses to salute 'Mr. San Diego,' Pete Wilson, as he unveiled a bronze statue of himself in downtown's Horton Plaza." Looking back on the history of San Diego's mayor and later California's governor, Davis wryly comments: "I think we should simply chisel the word 'arsonist' in large letters at the base of the Bronze Pete."

He then explains just why the kind of "developer power" Wilson institutionalized ensured that future Santa Anas would have all the tinder they needed to roar through the county. Wilson's legacy, Davis writes, is being carried on even now -- as "the business community openly gloats over the coming reconstruction boom and the revival of a building industry badly shaken by the mortgage crisis."

Davis describes the latest in planning this way: "More recently, on the very eve of the new firestorms, county supervisors endorsed a so-called 'shelter in place' strategy that will permit developers to build in the rugged, high fire-risk backcountry without having to provide the secondary roads needed to ensure safe evacuation. Instead residents would be encouraged to stay in their "fire resistant" homes while fire-fighters defended the perimeter of their cul-de-sac. As scores of fire experts and survivors have pointed out in angry op-ed columns and blogs, this is a lunatic, if not homicidal scheme, that elevates developers' bottom-lines over human life. Those who have actually confronted 100-foot-high firestorms, driven by hurricane-velocity winds, know that the developer slogan -- 'It's not where you build, but how you build' -- is a deadly deception."


FCC Pressed to Stop Comcast's Internet Blocking

Free Press, Public Knowledge, MAP file official complaint against cable giant for Net Neutrality violations

WASHINGTON -- Responding to Comcast's blocking of Internet traffic, members of the Coalition and Internet scholars at the nation's top law schools today filed a petition and complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. The filings call for urgent action to stop violations of consumers' right to access the software and content of their choice.

In the "most drastic example yet of data discrimination," the Associated Press recently exposed that Comcast, the nation's largest cable company and second-largest Internet service provider, is actively interfering with its users' ability to access legal content. The company is cutting off legal peer-to-peer file-sharing networks such as BitTorrent and Gnutella, as well as business applications such as Lotus Notes. Comcast has claimed its actions were "reasonable network management."

Marty Peretz Quote of the Day:

Marty Peretz, 4/28/07:

The first dispatch from Reuters was that 10 people has been killed in a car bombing in Karbala. Ah, insignificant. Why do they even bother telling us? Then, according to the AP, the casualties rose to 30. Just a few minuted ago, Reuters reported that there were "at least" 40 among the dead. Who knows how many injured and maimed. And, to tell you the truth, does anyone really care?

Posted by M. Duss


Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer by Chris Salewicz

This book is the product of dozens of interviews that Chris Salewicz, a British journalist and friend of Clash frontman Joe Strummer, conducted with the late musician's relatives, lovers, and friends.

Salewicz mainly stays away from the sordid dirt around Strummer, aka John Mellor, save the formative suicide of his right-wing older brother. The author was a music journalist in the late 1970s, and so draws upon his experiences covering the birth of punk rock for a number of newspapers. The book is published by Faber & Faber. Visit here for more details.

Slacker Friday:

Name: Charles Pierce

Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc:

"Call out the instigators/Because there's something in the air."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Blowing The Blues Away" (Charles Earland) -- Once again, I failed this week to hire 2,500 translators at my own expense to translate into many tongues how much I love New Orleans.

I think that this Internet phenomenon was fairly well anticipated years ago by the late Frank Zappa with the words: "Oooooh. Gooey! Dripping! Steaming!" Between this stuff, and the thigh-rubbing madness that is Chris Matthews, I think the rising chorus of stunted libidos is going to be drowning out policy discussions for a while. At least O'Reilly did this kind of thing in private. I swear the whole bunch of them are going to have wrists like Rod Laver before this campaign is over. Yikes.

And this is my question for Russert, although Paul Waldman didn't leave much to which I could address it except slivers of spleen: "Tim, will you take a pledge to the American people right here that the next time a White House aide outs a covert CIA operative as an obvious part of a political dirty-tricks campaign, you'll share it with us without the encouragement of a subpoena jammed down your piehole?"

Quite honestly, I don't understand why any Democrat wants to be president this time around. It's not just the wreckage that the Avignon Presidency is going to be leaving behind, although that is considerable. (Did you see Himself yesterday? All the cheesy smirking while the Heritage Foundation unemployables cheered his nudge-nudge, wink-winking on torture? It's like being ruled by Torquemada's mall cop.) Monica Goodling's testimony back a few months as regarding the hiring practice at DOJ leads me to wonder how many home-schooled, Christianist, Patrick Henry College yahoos have been salted away within the federal bureaucracy over the past seven years, and how effective a functioning underground resistance they might be. There was a little of this during the transition from Poppy Bush to Bill Clinton. Cleaning up the debris is going to be hard enough without a bunch of authoritarian toddlers running off at the mouth to the Washington Times, or to whatever Republican legislators may be left after the upcoming bloodbath. The first two years -- which, given the idiotic way we run elections, often are the only chance any president has to get anything done before it's time to run for president again -- are hard enough without being undermined in the government by Bible-banging Mole People. None of these people can conceive of public service as an end to itself. If they're not in it to promote the party -- or, alternatively, "Conservatism," as though that term has any meaning any more -- they're in it to "give witness" to their Personal Lord And Savior, who should be told by any Democratic politician worthy of the name to shut the hell up for a couple of years while we try to repair the damage His fans have done to our country. The first order of business for any Democratic president elected next year should be to appoint unreconstructed hardbars to head the personnel offices throughout the Executive branch whose only job will be to root these people out before they can hurt the country further. The Monica Goodlings should be sent back where they belong -- into a commercial for one of those execrable "Songs For Worship" CDs that seem to be dedicated to ruining gospel music as thoroughly as these people have ruined the Justice department.

By the way, New England 34, Indianapolis 17 on Sunday. Gregg Easterbrook can bite me.

p.s. -- I have enormous hope for this based on the "Who's Next" episode of the terrific "Classic Albums" series. But I think I'll probably still be taking Jeff Stein's raggedy, wonderful "The Kids Are Alright" as the definitive doc.

Name: Thomas Heiden
Hometown: Stratford, CT


The Democrats vocal in their opposition to Mukasey's nomination to be A.G. are emphasizing the wrong point.

Too many Americans are insensitive to torture as an issue because of the nonsense "worst-case scenario" where supposedly torture will prevent an imminent nuclear attack.

Mukasey has said the President is entitled to break the law in pursuit of his or her idea of "national security".

This plainly, simply, completely, and finally disqualifies him.

It seems to me that the Democrats keep straying from this issue wherever they find it, and end up focusing on relatively peripheral matters.

Name: Tim

If you took the best of Mick and Keith's solo work and combined it with the best tracks from the recent Stones' albums, you'd could come up with a few very good, if not great, Rolling Stones' albums (which they haven't been able to accomplished since Tattoo You).

I wish the Glimmer Twins would just get over themselves, swallow some pride, and truly "bury the hatchet" and "Wipe out the past."

While they're great live, they can, I believe, become truly relevant again. I wonder, though, if that matters at all to them anymore?

Name: Rich Gallagher
Hometown: Fishkill, NY

Dear Eric,

By way of comparison to Russert, Altercators may be interested in reading the transcripts of the 1960 debates between Kennedy and Nixon. Here.

Name: Eric Alterman
Hometown: NYC, NY

Dear Altercation readers:

I see Led Zep's London show has been postponed until December 10 owing to Jimmy Page having fractured his finger. I'm free that day, too.

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