Here we are now, entertain us ...


I'll be speaking at Historic City Hall at the University of California-Davis, 226 F Street, at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. My topic is "The Fall and Rise of American Liberalism."

I see Meet the Press is turning 60. I never see the show myself, and so there are better people to critique it than I, but I did read the transcript of Tim Russert's moderation of the Democratic presidential debate last week, and it was shocking.

Take a look at this exchange:

RUSSERT: I want to ask each of you the same question. Senator Clinton, would you pledge to the American people that Iran will not develop a nuclear bomb while you are president?

CLINTON: I intend to do everything I can to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.

RUSSERT: But you won't pledge?

CLINTON: I am pledging I will do everything I can to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.

RUSSERT: But they may.

CLINTON: Well, you know, Tim, you asked me if I would pledge, and I have pledged that I will do everything I can to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.

Now, consider everything that is embedded in that question. First of all, who the hell is the journalist Tim Russert to demand a "pledge" on anything from a presidential candidate? Isn't he supposed to elicit information about their views? But more important, just what does it mean to "pledge to the American people that Iran will not develop a nuclear bomb while you are president"? I'll tell you what it means: It means a promise to begin an unprovoked nuclear war. For there is no way to ensure that Iran will not develop a nuke save using nukes on them ourselves. We don't even know what kind of nuclear program Iran has; we don't know if it's removable by conventional means. We don't have the troops to invade Iran, which is a stupid idea anyway, thanks to George W. Bush and company, and so the only way to be absolutely certain that Iran won't develop a nuclear bomb would be to promise to nuke it. But if Russert asked that question, he would sound like a lunatic. So he asked -- no, demanded -- of the candidates that they respond to his lunatic question as if he were the clever one and they were on the defensive. And this is the most influential television journalist in America. Reels the mind.

Ron Radosh calls me "despicable":

Of all of Marty Peretz's many minions, the only person to take public issue with my profile of his time at The New Republic, here, was the neocon fellow traveler of David Horowitz, Ron Radosh. Radosh called my piece "nasty and despicable," among other things, because I noted that the one thing that right-wingers who regularly publish in TNR have in common is that they are all kosher, according to Marty's lights, on Israel. Radosh said this was a lie and a slander, etc., with regard to him, that he had barely ever mentioned Israel in his whole life, or some such thing. I noted in my reply that in fact, Radosh was a Likudnik on Israel -- whether he started out that way is beside the point -- and, thus, he was protesting an awful lot about extremely little. Obviously, not everyone who publishes in TNR is a Likudnik; that's not only what keeps it interesting, it's also why Marty Peretz invited me to write for it once upon a time.

In any case, I see from this that not only does Radosh take the standard Likudnik line on Israel/Palestine, he is completing a book on the topic of the founding of the state. If you read the comments with regard to the piece that follow it, you will see Radosh's purposeful disingenuousness disproven seconds later by a reader who did "a little googling."

Really, these people are not to be believed ... and it's a shame to have to waste time on their writings, whether in the Potemkin publication that is The New York Sun or a David Horowitz website, where Radosh is (or was, I dunno) a proud regular columnist.


Nirvana -- MTV Unplugged DVD

My absolute favorite Nirvana performance/recording is finally available on DVD. Geffen and MTV are releasing the band's historic MTV Unplugged appearance on November 18, 1993. I've not seen the packaging yet, but the recording is pristine and powerful, with lots of stuff I don't remember seeing before. The DVD features the entire unedited 66-minute performance, including material not seen in the original 44-minute MTV broadcast. The DVD also includes interviews with the band and MTV production staff, and some of the band's rehearsal footage for the show. More information is available here.

Ramones -- It's Alive 1974-1996 DVD

I've seen two other Ramones DVDs, but this is the only one I can stand to watch. Straight-through no-nonsense performances are just what my doctor ordered. (The Ramones performed 2,263 concerts, for the record. This double DVD captures many of the essential performances throughout.) Supervised by Tommy Ramone, the DVD is arranged chronologically and has live footage of over 100 songs, including "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker," "Blitzkrieg Bop," "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue," "Beat on the Brat" and "I Wanna Be Sedated." The DVD also has previously unreleased footage from New Year's Eve 1977 -- the notorious performance at Rainbow Theater in London. There is a significant amount of international performances, ranging from sets in Argentina to Italy. It's a feast for those who eat this stuff up, as do I, though not the way I used to ... more information can be found here.

Bob Mould -- Circle of Friends (DVD)

This is the first authorized concert release of Mould's, taped at the legendary 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. He is joined by Brendan Canty (Fugazi), Richard Morel (Morel), and Jason Narducy (Rockets Over Sweden), and the performance features compositions from Hüsker Dü, Sugar, and his solo releases. More info can be found here. If you're fan of these bands, you'll probably think it's great. I keep trying to be, and it doesn't seem to work, so I'm giving up.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Thomas Heiden
Hometown: Stratford, CT


I am not sure the profusion of enormous bases around the planet necessarily reflects a belief that we can imperially control the world.

The Tories' attitude toward republican government is that if they have to pay taxes and endure the influence of we the unwashed, they will see to it that the maximum amount of tax dollars flow back to their friends and supporters.

Thus, the purpose of the bases is at least in part in their being built per se.

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