Dark center of the universe


I'll be discussing Why We're Liberals at the Strand, on lower Broadway in Manhattan, tonight at 7 p.m. Read all about it here.

The return of the "center": On May 3, Rep.-elect Don Cazayoux won a special election in a heavily Republican district in Louisiana -- a district held for decades by the GOP. Cazayoux favors expanding health care coverage, repealing the Bush tax cuts on wealthy earners, preserving Social Security, and so on.

Yet, observe The New York Times' description of the race, as noted by Media Matters: "Mr. Cazayoux, a low-key member of the State House and a former prosecutor, fit the conservative model Democrats deployed successfully in the 2006 elections when they took seats from Republicans."

Why the words "conservative model" are in a piece where the winning candidate is dramatically more liberal than both the retiring seat holder and his challenger -- well, as you may read in Why We're Liberals, "When it comes to 'liberal' victories in American politics, there's always some other explanation available."

Fox ups the ante: As we wrote in our Think Again column last week, the major networks have been completely silent on the now-exposed ties between their purportedly objective military analysts and a well-crafted Pentagon propaganda program. (Note, they're still not saying anything.) But the Fox News network has seen their silence and raised them one -- they're still featuring the military analysts named in the New York Times expose!

FreePress has observed Fox airing, without any disclosure or reference to the Pentagon program, two of the exposed analysts -- Robert H. Scales and Thomas McInerney, in the days since the story broke. See their site for the video evidence.

OK, this is funny, from Mark Halperin at Time: Things you will hear on cable news tonight through Wednesday (evidence-less, speculative, made-up things, we'd add). Among others:

"It was the fight over the gas tax that did it."

"Look at how he did with white, working-class voters in the exit poll."

"People are going to start telling her she needs to get out of this race."

"Once again, he missed a chance to put her away."

"She's a fighter."

"He looks tired."

"Could there be a dream ticket?"

"This thing goes on and on."


"Reverend Wright really hurt him."

"Reverend Wright really had no effect."

There, we just saved you three hours to do something worthwhile with your lives ...

God and gossip: The FCC has ruled that celebrity-stalker show TMZ, along with Pat Robertson's The 700 Club, both qualify as "bona fide news casts." (Searching for joke ... Nicole Richie ... bony-fide news ... bah.) Anyway, this is important because that means both shows are now exempt from equal time requirements that apply to all non-news broadcasts. That TMZ is considered a news broadcast these days is probably more a poor reflection on our culture than the FCC, but The 700 Club classification is more troubling. Whatever pretension of fairness Robertson may have been felt in discussing the upcoming election has been negated. What is the real news value of a program that makes assessments such as this? "I want to say it again, and again, and again: Islam is not a religion, it is a political system meant on -- bent on world domination, not a religion. It masquerades as a religion, but the religion covers a worldwide attempt to exercise power and to subjugate the world to their way of thinking."

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Dale Collins
Hometown: Corryton, Tennessee

Hello Eric. In your book Why We're Liberals you included some funny -- and sad -- quotes from the likes of Ann Coulter and Chris Matthews on Bush's "Mission Accomplished" dramatic fly-in. I just have to ask, don't these people understand what staged propaganda is? Couldn't they see how hokey that whole scenario was? Maybe they do -- but phoniness is of no importance to them when it comes to "heroes."

Thanks for a wonderful book.

Hometown: Santa Monica with the Solar Powered Ferris Wheel!

When I saw the list of "experts" I stopped reading. Today, after reading your comments, it occurs to me that "withdrawal" advocates would not fit the description of the focus of the exercise, which apparently is self-limited to options for "winning." I suppose that with that in mind, the choices that the NYT made aren't so out of line.

Name: William Gill
Hometown: Moorestown, NJ

On Sunday, Maureen Dowd returned to the "Obama's an elitist" narrative she's shown so much love for recently. She wrote about Obama:

"Checking out what the vets were drinking, he announced, 'I'm going to have a Bud.' Then, showing he's a smart guy who can learn and assimilate, he took big swigs from his beer can, a marked improvement on the delicate sip he took at a brewery in Bethlehem, Pa."

As you've showed us before Dr. A., Dowd's usual m.o. is evidence-less assertions against Obama, but this assertion actually has a kernel of truth. Obama sipped his beer in Bethlehem but it was because he was tasting a sampler of different beers! I've actually had this sampler before, and no one takes 'big swigs' of this beer. It's not how it's designed to be drunk.

Alas, Dowd never met a distortion or outright lie that couldn't be squeezed into her preferred narrative of the likely Democratic nominee as an out-of-touch, effeminate, elite liberal.

Name: Brian Donohue
Hometown: http://dailyrevolution.net

Here's a reminder to all the good citizens of Iran: if you just can't wait to be "obliterated" by Hillary, try signing up for an hotmail or Yahoo account -- you and your nation don't exist. But as many of us who work in corporate America can tell you, being a non-entity goes with the territory. Here today, obliterated tomorrow...

Name: Bill Dunlap
Hometown: Lake Oswego, Oregon


I'd like to nominate Frank Sinatra's song "There Used to Be a Ballpark" as one of the top baseball songs, not mentioned by Paste magazine.

And once again, "Glory Days" is more about drinking than baseball. It's a classic Springsteen misdirect, like "Born in the USA." It sound like one thing, a happy remembrance of high school, but it's really a song about twenty- or thirty-somethings who are realizing their lives peaked at age 18, when one had a good fastball, one was good looking and the singer had a couple of popular friends. Now they just talk about those old days and drink a lot.

Name: Larry Murray
Hometown: Seattle, WA


Another song for your list is folksinger Chuck Brodsky's "Letters in the Dirt," about Richie Allen (later known as Dick Allen). It's a thoughtful song about racism, hero worship, and childhood innocence. Brodsky released an entire album of baseball songs called The Baseball Ballads (which includes "Letters in the Dirt"). You don't want to miss his song about Dock Ellis pitching a no-hitter while tripping on acid -- a true story, by the way...

Name: David
Hometown: Tucson

Don't forget Dave Frishberg's "Van Lingle Mungo"!

Name: Michael Herrmann
Hometown: Concord, NH

Well, it's not a great song, per se, but you can't really leave out Meat Loaf's "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," can you? Phil Rizzuto got a platinum record for his unwitting play-by-play of a young man "rounding the bases."

Eric replies: It damn well is a great song, bub!

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