Slacker Friday


We've got a new "Think Again" column called "The Fire Next Time?" and I did a Nation column called "Good Night and Good Luck."

The Bronx is up and the Battery's down, and Paul McCartney gets to ride in an elevator unmolested. (P.S.: I was once at the beach and I stopped at a stop sign. Across the street, on the other side, was a fancy purple pickup driven by the very same ex-Beatle. All I had to do was "accidentally" allow my car to swerve wildly out of control and into his truck, and we would have been bonded for life. And my little Corolla wouldn't have done much damage. But of course, McCartney hasn't written a decent song since I was in junior high, and so I let him pass ...)

Also, people, I need a new subtitle for the paperback edition of Why We're Liberals. I put the "post-Bush America handbook" thing in there to try to put everybody in a good mood. This too shall pass, and all that. But the paperback needs a long life, and so we need a new subhead. Winner gets thanked in the acknowledgements. (Oh, and thanks to those who sent me recommendations for Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. I'm thinking maybe a couple of days in Eilat. Any ideas on that, anyone?)

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc --

"You say my kisses are not like his/This time I'm not gonna tell you why that is."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Junker's Blues" (Champion Jack Dupree with King Curtis) -- Once again, I failed to devise a potion that would cause Brit Hume to descend a staircase in a diaphanous gown like one of the DuBois sisters as a tribute to how much I love New Orleans.

Short Takes:

Part The First: Can't think. Can't read. Can't write. Pity, really. Of course, his lead paragraph is the great zombie lie of my career. And they didn't even have the decency to invite me to their banquet to accept my award. Quite simply, Mr. Graham is a liar and a coward in the pay of cowards and liars.

Part The Second: It appears that the tradesman's entrance at NRO may be jammed up for a while. This is the equivalent of all those conservatives who praise the heartland -- That means you, Andrew, and you, Annie -- but who never seem to move to Omaha where they obviously would be much happier.

Part The Third: Note to Salon -- stop running pieces by crazy people, OK? Vince Foster? "Mellow Yellow" was a "major album" in 1967? "Deserted Cities Of The Heart," which makes "Tales Of Brave Ulysses" sound like "Tutti Frutti"? Does this woman ever remember what the rails looked like back there?

Part The Fourth: Audience participation! You folks pick the joke. I can't decide among the several million that sprang immediately to mind.

Part The Last: A nightmare in so many ways beyond the obvious. It scared my running mate Bateman -- a professional soldier -- so badly that he left the country.

Watching Hardball the other night, I was put in mind of The Wages Of Fear, the great old Clouzot film about guys hauling nitroglycerine through the mountains in rickety trucks. (In 1977, William Friedkin directed a very underrated remake of it called "Sorcerer," starring the great Roy Scheider.) Anyway, sitting there beneath his second hair color of the month, Chris Matthews was beginning to sweat just a little as Pat Buchanan started talking about Barack Obama, and race, and the 2008 election. Somehow, Buchanan's apparent avuncularity almost has erased completely his long, sincere, and bone-deep sympathy with the institutions of American apartheid. (His barely concealed anti-Semitism is another boiling kettle of offal entirely.) However, it is now completely plain that, if MSNBC continues to call upon him for commentary on an election in which one of the two major candidates is an African-American, then they shouldn't be surprised what happens when one of the wheels comes off the truck halfway down the mountain. The guy's a proud public bigot and he always has been. (That quote about how "some people" thought Dr. King was the devil incarnate makes his statement the other night that he wants to live in Dr. King's America enough to gag a maggot, as the late Molly Ivins once said.) His upcoming book argues that World War II was unnecessary, and won't that be fun? Anyway, it was very alarming to watch Matthews there with his hands barely on the wheel. However, this is worse crackpottery than the Rev. Meacham's hiring Karl Rove at Newsweek. Ol' Pat's going to say something very soon that makes Don Imus sound like W.E.B. DuBois. Shouldn't someone at this network care? How people like Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow manage not to vomit while cashing checks they earned by sitting next to this antediluvian homunculus is beyond me.

See for yourself.

Name: DrSteveB
Hometown: New York, NY

Regarding those (at least) two weapons caches not attributable to Iran per your Think Again column. In addition to failure to control Saddam's weapons stores at the time of the invasion and our own weapons distribution during the occupation, the other unmentionable source for weapons flowing into Iraq is of course from the Saudis and others who are presumably arming the Sunnis. No doubt some of whatever they are sending in winds up in both intended (Sunni) and unintended (Shia) hands.

But of course the Bushies cannot complain about the Saudis because they're on our side ... when they are not funding Al Qaeda and Sunni fundies to kill us (19 of 20) or keeping up the price of oil.

Name: Jason
Hometown: Santa Rosa, CA

Dear Dr. Alterman,

Can someone in the MSM please start questioning the Republican Party's promotion of terrorist groups influencing our political processes? Osama bin Laden "endorses" Kerry and they go wild. Hamas "endorses" Obama, and they go wild. Now Bush is pushing the Democrats' 'appeasement' of terrorists ... "we want to destroy them, but until then, we'll give them more press than they could ever buy."

This two-faced promotion is absolutely disgusting, especially in light of the boost President Bush's and the Republicans' policies have given to the development (as you've noted) of these very organizations!

Name: Morey Garelick
Hometown: San Francisco

From the Kathleen Parker column:

"As Condi Rice has noted, it wasn't long ago in this country that blacks needed guns to protect themselves when the police would not. "

I must have missed this -- Condi Rice reminisced about the Black Panthers?

Name: Stephen A. Brown
Hometown: Santa Cruz, CA


The McCain campaign and pundits such as Charles Krauthammer, think that having Rev. Wright as a pastor for 20 years is evidence of lack of character. I suggest that such opinions show a lack of awareness of the nature of what many (I suspect many in Rev. Wright's church) think of as a community of believers. Their commitment is not to the pastor but to a community. It is a serious commitment and that it has lasted for 20 years or more is evidence of character.

Seeking out the political endorsement of a man with opinions you claim to disagree with and want not to be accused of supporting suggests political opportunism and naked self-serving ambition more than character. That McCain only sought an endorsement from the man and was not a member of his church for 20 years does not cast McCain in a more favorable light.

Name: Kirsten
Hometown: Sacramento

It is quite amusing that while the media seem to love the idea of the Maverick brand for McCain, that is perhaps partly responsible for the Republican base being so suspicious of him. Even though he's voted with the party line 83% of the time, the people he needs to vote for him just see the "Maverick" title and get the heebee-jeebees. It puts him in a tough spot trying to placate them while maintaining the brand. Poor guy.

Name: Chuck
Hometown: Kansas City

With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, you might be an elitist if ...

You went to an elite, east coast prep school, like Phillips Academy (Bush), or Episcopal (McCain)

Your father was president, your grandfather a senator (Bush), or both your father and grandfather were Navy admirals (McCain)

You have a private plane at your disposal, thanks to your wealthy spouse (McCain)...

In researching McCain, it appears he had his own Karl Rove in Arizona in the early 1980s, a guy named Duke Tully, who was publisher of the Arizona Republic and seems to have had the same type of man crush on McCain that Rove had on Bush. He is also McCain's daughter Meghan's godfather, and the beauty part is he went around telling everyone his invented war stories(Korea and Vietnam, said he was an Air Force pilot), until he was found out in 1986, after he had helped launch McCain's political career. I'm sure he'll be asked to renounce Mr. Tully any day now...

Name: Thomas Beck
Hometown: East Windsor, NJ

This is not getting any attention at all, let alone as much as it deserves. And it's truly scary.

Even Dr. Tilman Jolly, associate chief medical officer for medical readiness in DHS's Office of the Chief Medical Officer, told at a conference in Washington, DC that "surge is an issue we're not going to have our arms around for a long time. It's a huge problem "We're dealing now every day with routine closings of emergency rooms because they're all full."

"We're already over-extended" without having to worry about surge, said former NFTC chairman, Dr. Ron Anderson, President and CEO of Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas.

"Our [national] surge capacity is shallow," said Dr. Susan Penefield, manager of the Texas Department of Health's Infectious Disease Control Unit.

"During the past decade, emergency department visits have increased by 26 percent, while the number of emergency departments has decreased by nine percent," was told by Democratic Rep. Ed Markey, a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee. "In 2003, [emergency room] diversions [to other hospitals] occurred more than half a million times - an average of once per minute, and the problem is not getting better.

A recent CDC-backed NFTC study found that of the 175 Level 1 and Level II trauma centers that participated in the NFTC survey, only "a small number" are "highly prepared" for a catastrophic terrorist attack."The results also show a number that report below average preparedness scores five years after 9/11..."

It's now almost 7 years after 9-11, and things are getting worse. ERs and trauma centers are less prepared now to handle the medical aftermath a major terrorist event than they were in 2001. And no one is talking about it.

Name: Paul in NC
Hometown: Charlotte

Tell Chuck from Kansas City that Ford pardoned Nixon before he was ever indicted or convicted of any crimes. However, this pardon was never tested in the courts. So it probably remains an open question, albeit with some precedent.

Name: John
Hometown: Kinnelon NJ

Said Specter: "...Walsh detailed how the Patriots used videotaped signals to their advantage: an offensive player would memorize the signals, watch for them on the sideline and pass them on to assistant coach Charlie Weis, who would then inform quarterback Tom Brady." If the Patriots could process this information in less than 45 seconds and call a play, AND Tom Brady could process the call, evaluate the expected defensive alignment based on the information AND remember his 3 to 4 receivers' routes, which could change based on coverage, AND give some blocking direction at the line of scrimmage, AND hope the defense doesn't audible its alignment or coverage, AND drop back, make a 2-3 second read, THEN throw an accurate pass in the face of 300 lb men trying to batter him, then perhaps he IS the Superman many make him out to be.

Name: Steve S.
Hometown: Bellingham

I'll take your word for it that Tony Kornheiser is an "excellent sportswriter." As an announcer he is an abomination's abomination. He has all the annoying qualities of Howard Cosell without any of the intelligence or capability of getting the likes of Muhammad Ali and John Lennon in the booth with him.

Name: Rod Hoffman
Hometown: Boston

According to Wikipedia on Zubaz pants:

"The pants are now regarded as a trend that has ended, and they are referred to as a 'bad fad' by Despite the decline of its popularity, it is not uncommon to spot a rabid fan wearing Zubaz pants at a professional football game...."

How perfect is that metaphor?

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