It took me by surprise, I must say ...


If you missed Bill Moyers' appearance on Charlie Rose, you can find it here.

And if you missed Christopher Hitchens' descent in the kind of neoconservative, McCarthyite thuggery that we would not even expect from, say, Bill Kristol, take a look at this piece from the apparently unedited Slate magazine.

Hitchens brings up Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farrakhan, Malcolm X, Tawana Brawley, and Stokely Carmichael, all by way of seeking to discredit Barack Obama with an attack on, believe it or not, Michelle Obama's undergraduate college thesis. He does not actually quote from the thesis, not that it would matter. It's hard to believe he's serious, much less sober. The first time I met Christopher, in the summer of 1982, we spent an afternoon getting drunk in a Dupont Circle bar during which he said a great many silly and, to my young ears, shocking things, which I imagine he would not wish to hear repeated today. Hitchens was already 33 by then, but nevertheless remained under the illusion of a brand of Marxism he has since denounced -- along with virtually everyone who remains wedded to the views to which he committed most of his life's work. The idea that the views of a college-aged Michelle Obama are somehow relevant to her husband's qualification for presidency is McCarthyism of the most disreputable order.

We all know what Christopher's problem is, and for reasons of sentimentality, many of us in the fraternity of his ex-friendships are likely to continue to forgive him. He's been through a great deal I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies, and no less sadly, has wasted more talent than most of us will ever have. But what the hell is going on at Slate? Are there no editors there who care enough to save him from publishing such a pathetic performance?

The true cost of this war is being purposely hidden from us. It's hard to imagine, if Bush and his allies had declared war on this country from someone's government, how they might have been able to any worse damage.

Hey, look, Pierce.

It's officially mutual: Karl Rove (hearts) Mark Halperin (and John F. Harris).

From TomDispatch:

Here's how well-known environmentalist Bill McKibben begins his latest piece -- and it should startle you: "Even for Americans, constitutionally convinced that there will always be a second act, and a third, and a do-over after that, and, if necessary, a little public repentance and forgiveness and a Brand New Start -- even for us, the world looks a little Terminal right now... All of a sudden it isn't morning in America, it's dusk on planet Earth."

And here's the news he wants to convey that leads toward that startling conclusion: "There's a number -- a new number -- that makes this point most powerfully. It may now be the most important number on Earth: 350. As in parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere." In fact, just recently our foremost climatologist, NASA's Jim Hansen, published a piece in Science magazine saying that we must somehow return the planet's atmosphere to 350 ppm (it's now at 385) -- and fast -- "if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted."

Think about that. In other words, if humanity doesn't act in the next few years, we may quite literally run out of history. It's hard even to take this in, but McKibben, who has started a new campaign,, to get this number (and what it means) around the world and into consciousness, sounds the alarm in this piece, discussing the climate change "tipping points" that lie in our immediate future.

He adds: "We might stop just short of some of those tipping points, like the Road Runner screeching to a halt at the very edge of the cliff. More likely, though, we're the Coyote."

Consider this piece a powerful warning about what humanity must bring itself to do -- or else.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Norman Gravely
Hometown: Woodbridge, VA

It seems to me that what is defined as liberal means that if one disagrees with the far-right agenda then you are liberal. The middle ground appears not to exist. I look forward to reading Why We're Liberals.

Name: Matthew Saroff

You write, "These programs are chosen as if specifically designed not to work."

That is too mild. They are specifically designed not to work.

The driving force for the people behind these programs is that they believe that sex is evil.

The scripture, "It is better to marry than to burn," states that marriage is preferable to lechery, but inferior to celibacy, and people behind this are not interested in protecting children, they are interested in punishing them.

Sexual freedom, even within the context of marriage, is an anathema to them, which is why they are now protesting birth control available to married couples.

Name: Todd Hedley
Hometown: San Antonio (go Spurs!)

I'm surprised no one has brought this up, but recently the Pew Charitable Trust conducted a survey of news consumers (basically a 4-question current events quiz), and found Fox viewers to be the least informed (more incorrect responses) of all the major cable news networks.

But the funny thing was who turned out to the the most informed viewers. CNN? No MSNBC? Nope.

The most informed cable "news"viewers watched The Daily Show.

Pretty sad commentary on the state of our media, really.

Name: Michael Green
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

As one who views the program religiously, I think some are missing what "The Daily Show" really is. Stewart famously pointed out in his "Crossfire" appearance -- which ultimately led, I think, to CNN canceling that program, given his brutal discussion of how horrid it was -- that he is not a journalist. He is not.

What he is, I think (and this would be true of his producers and writers, so I will lump them together), is perhaps the nastiest, most perceptive media critic this side of A.J. Liebling, who beautifully vivisected the press in The New Yorker. The main thrust of "The Daily Show" most of the time is how stupid the MainStream Media are. And as they prove to any thinking person who watches them even without benefit of "The Daily Show," boy, are they stupid.

Name: Derrick Gibson

Thanks to Bill from CT for awaking our eyes (ok, mine) to the simple fact that like Ford and Daddy Bush before him, George is going out on the pardon train.

But, a president cannot pardon himself, right?

Which means that by signing those pardons, all GWB will have done is free his cohorts from any possible prosecution for their crimes. Is there not one weasel among them who -- once freed from cause and facing a suitably vengeful public -- will not step forward and call out "J'accuse!"?

Could this pardon train leave GWB alone at the station as the only one to face justice for the last eight years of criminality?

PS -- Good on ya, Siva! I say make room for BEHM!

Name: Brian Donohue

Many thanks to the WaPo for this revelation; but the real problem is NOT that soldiers are being cremated with Fido and Fluffy, but that they have to be cremated at all.

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