Slacker Friday


We've got a new "Think Again" column here called "The Bush Legacy: Flailing and Failing the World Over" and there's a new Nation column here called "Conservative Cannibalism," in which I attempt to assess the relative worth of the recent book-length works by David Frum and Jonah Goldberg.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc:

"We are the office block persecution affinity/God save little shops, china cups and virginity."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Downhome Girl" (Old Crow Medicine Show) -- Again, I have failed to lay out enough empty glass bottles to tap out an original symphony the second movement of which would tell you how much I love New Orleans.

Short Takes:

Point The First: What was Rick Hertzberg doing on Hardball the other night? To his eternal credit, he looked a little baffled by the whole business but, good Lord, it was like seeing Einstein on The Price Is Right.

Point The Second: Good. Easier tee times. And Dr. Duncan A. Eschaton yesterday confused golf with bowling, which is the sport developed as an excuse to get away from your family and drink beer for four hours. Golf was invented as an excuse to get away from your family in order to become as miserable as possible around a different group of people.

Point The Third: Dan Abrams should be applauded for using the McCain story to speculate almost instantly about the possibility of Mitt II: Electric Boogaloo. Oh, please, big baby Jesus, make it so.

Point The Last: I am enormously disappointed that Rep. Jim McGovern, who's the congresscritter from the district of my birth and a longtime friend of The Landlord, joined in the Obama-is-a-plagiarist idiocy last week. Jeebus, Jim, you and that plague of frogs, Howard Wolfson? Do better, son. It is going to be fascinating over the next two weeks -- assuming the story has that kind of legs -- to watch nearly a decade of media man-crushes on John McCain pay off for him. It will be similar to the way Bob Kerrey was enfolded in the loving arms of Russertonia a few years back when some questions arose about a SEAL mission he'd gone on in which a number of civilians wound up ringing down the curtain and joining the bleeding choir Invis-bule. This is going to be much more fascinating for me, though, because, 10 years ago, I was on assignment from Esquire, and I was riding around Arizona with him on the day that the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. The first thing he ever said to me was, "What do you think I should say?" My immediate reaction was that this guy was really, really good. Later in that ride, though, we talked about the Keating Five and I asked him, you know, the THIRD time he flew you to the Caribbean, shouldn't you have figured out that the old crook might eventually want something in return? McCain's answer was a whole lot of nothing. That should be the story going forward. This is a start. But, sooner or later, someone's going to have to break down this pattern he has of doing things completely contrary to what he's supposed to be about, apologizing for it, and then getting double-credit for the apology while the original offense goes straight down the old memory hole. At the very least, we should know as much about Paxson Communications and Sinclair Broadcast Group as we do about, say, John Edwards' haircut. But I would almost guarantee you that we won't.

p.s. -- WTF, as the kids say, is going on here? Not to imply any kind of guilt (Jack Kennedy) by association (Jack Ruby), but shouldn't the Dallas PD, in particular, be a bit more sensitive to this kind of issue?

p.p.s. -- Speaking of sensitivity to issues, shouldn't someone at MSNBC realize that having Mike Barnicle on to talk about journalism ethics inevitably causes an epidemic of spit-takes among all of its viewers with memories that extend further back than lunch time?

Name: Dan Murphy
Hometown: Sacramento


A quid pro quo would smell as foul, whether the quid were money, use of jet planes, or sex. The Times could be criticized if it treated an inference of sex more loosely than money to take advantage of the fact that sex sells newspapers. However, if the same inference that it might have led to a quo exists, sex should be treated the same as money.

Name: Neil Parry
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

Doctor A,

According to transcript, Rush Limbaugh opened his Thursday morning radio show by saying:

"The important question for John McCain today is, is he going to learn the right lesson from this, and what is the lesson?" Mr. Limbaugh said, according to a transcript posted on his Web site. "The lesson is liberals are to be defeated. You cannot walk across the aisle with them. You cannot reach across the aisle. You cannot welcome their media members on your bus and get all cozy with them and expect eternal love from them."

Perhaps had Mr. Limbaugh been following your McCain suck-up watch, he would know how incorrect he is about not being able to expect eternal love from reporters.

Name: C W Skinner

The McCain/Iseman sex angle may be titillating to CNN or the Times, but unless there are seriously nekkid videos (remember, even then, LBJ said *dead* girl: "Clinton rules" don't apply to St. John in the SCLM), I'm not sure it has a major impact. However, it's too soon to say. One would need to see what got lawyered out of the Times story and if any of it could be supported going forward.

The other issue, McCain cozy with lobbyists, the old Keating Five story, etc., these things could hurt McCain. It might make his potential field of VP choices very small, as the GOP bench gets nervous that he will be tainted. Huckabee may really apply pressure if the lobbying angle ("McCain and Big Gub'mint Sleaze!") picks up momentum. Keith Olbermann was exploring this angle with Jonathan Alter of Newsweek on Countdown. Alter didn't like it much, said it was a story with no legs, but had to concede that Obama could use it as part of a narrative to paint McCain as a corrupt DC insider (which is, of course, true, but since it contradicts the SCLM's narrative of "John McCain-MAVERICK!," Alter didn't seem to like it).

So, what's the upshot? If there is knockin' boots or real evidence of pay-to-play (or both) then I think there's trouble for Mac Daddy McCain. This shadow may explain a) why Awe-Shucks Huck stayed in and b) why he gave a super-fiery populist speech on primary night, assailing his own party's elites and not the Democrats.

Name: John B
Hometown: Des Moines, IA

Liberalism isn't about having a "to do" list and checking things off as we get them done. Liberalism is about building a better world, a world that is more fair, more just, and as a result more comfortable and prosperous. The "to do" list is just a byproduct of building that world, not the focus. This is a pretty good reminder of that. It's also good answer for how conservatives seem to triumph when the facts, their history of failure, and the opinions of the majority of Americans indicate they ought to be relegated to crank status. If you want a better society tell people FIRST what that society will look like. After that it will be obvious why the changes you advocate are necessary. And for God's sake stop using the language of the Right when it's deliberately biased against you!

Name: Lee Kellogg
Hometown: BDO: beautiful Dayton, Ohio

Welcome back to the small screen. I tried to watch, but Kudlow is such an overwhelming ass I couldn't take it. If he has to have his microphone turned that loud, could he have anything to say? Oh, I know, Goldilocks has gone down for the third time. "Kudlow fellates Wall Street," would be a great headline in the WSJ. Your points remain unchallenged.

I also tried to watch the debate. I believe, and I think lots of actual liberals agree, that the Obama notion that we, "need to get past the political bickering," helps him with a lot of people sick of right-wing-radio and people who think politics is stupid, okay, they vote too, but democracy is actually quite messy and full of bickering. Plus, the entrenched wing-nut-right in the media, the military high command, the defense industry, and neither last nor least, the Justice Department, are not going anywhere without a long and protracted fight. I like Obama, but liking a candidate is exactly the reason millions of citizens and lots of media hacks used in pushing George to the throne. The battle for a just and honorable America has barely begun. My guess is that this has become John Edwards' position too. Should Obama adopt a more aggressive position towards Conservative perfidy and illegality (and probably immorality; see today's Newsweek report linking the Christian right and payday userers), the landslide will be a fine beginning. But there will be a battle. I recommend David S. Reynolds' "John Brown, Abolitionist," as a reminder that Conservatives have always been willing to fight. Especially interesting is Prof. Reynolds revelations about the role of the first completely American intellectual, Ralph Waldo Emerson, in the life of John Brown and the violent American revolution the Civil War was. Just say'n.

Keep up the good work; get that mic turned up.

Eric adds: Lee is apparently referring to my appearance with Bob Bennett on Kudlow & Co. yesterday, for those who do not have their teevees constantly turned to CNBC.

Name: Tom E.
Hometown: Not New York

Dr. A:

Wasn't Capote alluding to a mistake made by a rather naive young man who made a request of an older lover for "breakfast at Tiffany's" [sic]? If so, does his preserving the young man's usage make some artistic sense?

Name: Aaron Headly
Hometown: Ann Arbor

Midwesterners relocating to NYC to re-invent themselves is a very old story. Here in the Great Heartland, we have a habit of referring to all sorts of establishments with the possessive.

My uncle worked for "Ford's" for 47 years (not exaggerating), And I grew up as a regular "K-Mart's" shopper.

I think that the title was meant to subtly "out" Ms. Golightly.

Eric responds: Learn something useful on this site every day. Thanks.

Name: Rob Goodwin
Hometown: Boston

Country music had been combined with pop and rock since well before Neil or Graham came onto the scene. Buck Owens was doing it in the 50's and different variations have been attempted ever since. It took Uncle Tupelo and their first record No Depression to combine country music with punk rock. That was truly a new sound and as far as I'm concerned that record has never been matched and probably never will be. No record before or since has affected me the way that one did.

Eric adds: Altercation star reader Rosanne Cash chimed in this morning without any particular objections either to the notion that Sweetheart not Nowhere started it all, but also on the basic details of said horrible story about the mortification of Mr. and Mrs. Cash. She asks all of our vigilance in ensuring that that story is not, as it has frequently been, told as if she were the one on stage at the time, as she was not. She is recovering well, though it's a long process, for those who've been kind enough to inquire.

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