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The good folks at TPM Café were good enough to devote their weekly Book Club to Why We're Liberals this week. The discussants are Joan McCarter, Digby, Ed Kilgore, and Brink Lindsey. It begins here.

What's interesting about this article about the changing of the guard at The Washington Post, I think, is that Steve Coll, who was groomed for the top job, is not interested. He'd rather be an author and a staff writer for The New Yorker. I don't know Coll and don't like to draw conclusions from an experiment with an "N" of only one, but still, is this significant? Refusing interest in running the second most important paper in the country to be a writer? I'm simultaneously impressed and saddened.

Meanwhile, if you want to get depressed about the insularity of the Beltway bubble -- as defined by The Washington Post -- look at this piece of High Broderism by David Ignatius, who happens to be the highest-profile internal candidate to replace Len Downie as the editor. Just look at this crap:

By reaching outside the Democratic Party for his vice presidential nominee -- tapping Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, say, or independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg from New York -- Obama would in an instant demonstrate that he truly means to change the divisive, lose-lose politics of Washington. It would offer a unity government for a country that seems to want one.

The country doesn't say it wants a "unity" government. The country says it wants to throw out the Republicans. Look at the polls, bub.

McCain, by contrast, has actually fought the kind of bipartisan battles that Obama talks about -- from campaign finance to climate change to rules against torture -- and he has the political scars to prove it.

Was there not room for you to mention in your column, bub, that McCain ended up supporting torture and is now purposely subverting the intent of the campaign finance laws he wrote? Does, um, reality have any relevance here?

If Obama were to run on a unity ticket, it would be a sign that he thinks the nation is in such serious trouble, at home and abroad, that the normal political rules don't apply. Obama could choose among many fine Democrats for his running mate, but none of them would send such a powerful message to America and the world that he means what he says about turning a page.

Blah, blah, blah. If Washington pundits would recognize the fact that they have enabled an administration that is the most unpopular one in at least a century -- and perhaps the worst presidency ever -- and demonstrate the slightest degree of humility as a result, that would prove to the rest of us that maybe we should take them seriously.

I hate when the truth about the Cold War comes out and the Communists turn out to be telling the truth and the U.S. appears to be covering up for crimes and massacres, but it happens and it does the anti-Communist side no credit to continue to lie and dissimulate. I read on HuffPo about a photo, released by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, showing "the remains of some of [the] 110 victims of 1950 executions of political prisoners at Cheongwon, Chungbuk, south of Seoul, South Korea. The commission, which excavated the site, is investigating that and other mass killings in South Korea in 1950-51. A commission chief investigator estimates up to 7,000 were killed in the central city of Daejeon alone, and tens of thousands elsewhere." It turns out that, according to the AP, "[o]ne journalist's bid to report mass murder in South Korea in 1950 was blocked by his British publisher. Another correspondent was denounced as a possibly treasonous fabricator when he did report it. In South Korea, down the generations, fear silenced those who knew":

Fifty-eight years ago, at the outbreak of the Korean War, South Korean authorities secretively executed, usually without legal process, tens of thousands of southern leftists and others rightly or wrongly identified as sympathizers. Today a government Truth and Reconciliation Commission is working to dig up the facts, and the remains of victims.


"[F]rom 1961 to 1988, nobody could challenge the regime, to try again to reveal these hidden truths," said Park Myung-lim of Seoul's Yonsei University, a leading Korean War historian. As a doctoral student in the late 1980s, when South Korea was moving toward democracy, Park was among the few scholars to begin researching the mass killings. He was regularly harassed by the police.

Scattered reports of the killings did emerge in 1950 -- and some did not.

British journalist James Cameron wrote about mass prisoner shootings in the South Korean port city of Busan -- then spelled Pusan -- for London's Picture Post magazine in the fall of 1950, but publisher Edward Hulton ordered the story removed at the last minute.

Earlier, correspondent Alan Winnington reported on the shooting of thousands of prisoners at Daejeon in the British communist newspaper The Daily Worker, only to have his reporting denounced by the U.S. Embassy in London as an "atrocity fabrication." The British Cabinet then briefly considered laying treason charges against Winnington, historian Jon Halliday has written.

Associated Press correspondent O.H.P. King reported on the shooting of 60 political prisoners in Suwon, south of Seoul, and wrote in a later memoir he was "shocked that American officers were unconcerned" by questions he raised about due process for the detainees.

Some U.S. officers -- and U.S. diplomats -- were among others who reported on the killings. But their classified reports were kept secret for decades.

Read all about it here.

I lifted this from Slate, but I had been meaning to recommend both of these pieces from the current Atlantic. I have actually been recommending the anonymous professor's essay to many people for weeks. It is truly heartbreaking and tough-minded, no easy combination:

An essay by an anonymous community-college professor explains why the American ideal of "sending everyone under the sun to college" is a "destructive myth." Though "[t]elling someone that college is not for him seems harsh and classist and British, as though we were sentencing him to a life in the coal mines," some students just aren't qualified to get a degree. America's "sense of college as both a universal right and a need" and the profit many colleges make from adult-education classes have led to tension between students unequipped to pass and the professors who are forced to fail them. ... A piece examines how Barack Obama will bring technology to the White House. Among Obama's proposals are a "public, Google-like database of every federal dollar spent," to post "every piece of non-emergency legislation online for five days before he signs it so that Americans can comment," and a White House blog.

Baseball blogging: Sorry to pile on, but um, the Yankees are 0-for-22 in games they were losing in the 7th so far this year. They are hitting .244 (as of inning 5, Sunday night, it's probably slightly lower after 9), with runners in scoring position, the worst in the league. Just saying ... (OK, OK, the Mets suck too this year, but still ...)

Why is baseball afraid to allow a manager to ask, say, once a game, for umpires to take a look at the instant replay? A weak-willed umpire last night allowed himself to be overruled by his colleague and called what was clearly Carlos Delgado's three-run homer into a foul ball. There was no question about it on the replay, about which the ESPN announcers would not shut up, and yet the call was clearly the wrong one. Where is the honor in human error determining the outcome of a game? The announcers immediately insisted it would "not work" because every play would be instant replayed but you could limit it to one a game. That hardly takes genius. (Oh, and ESPN guys, Ryan Church's brother is not over in Iraq "defending our country for us." He is there as a victim of the Bush/Cheney's regime mendacity/ideological obsession/incompetence and corruption. Iraq never threatened "our country.")

P.S. Let's hear it for the guy who invented DVR. I was actually at Synagogue Beth Elohim in Park Slope, ground zero to the hated "Stroller Mom," last night listening to a fascinating lecture and impressively sophisticated Q-and-A session on 1948 by Benny Morris, but watched the whole game this morning. Rabbi Andy Bachman congratulated me when I came in for skipping the game for the lecture, but of course, I skipped nothing.

P.P.S. The dumb things announcers say, continued: "Well, his upper body left too quickly (third base) but his foot was still on the bag."

Best Movie Lists Blogging:

Eric's Top Ten:

1) Casablanca
2) His Girl Friday
3) The 400 Blows
4) The Searchers
5) The Maltese Falcon
6) The Big Sleep
7) Manhattan
8) Groundhog Day
9) The Godfather II
10) Diner

Eliminated only because of its politics: The Philadelphia Story
Eliminated only because I'm sick of it: It's a Wonderful Life
Heartbreakingly close: One, Two, Three, The Thin Man, Claire's Knee, Rio Bravo, Raging Bull, The Nutty Professor, Viva Las Vegas, The Girl Can't Help It, the rest of Truffaut, the rest of Rohmer.

Mike Tomasky:

1. Casablanca
2. The Best Years of Our Lives
3. Citizen Kane
4. The Four Feathers
5. Singin' in the Rain
6. My Man Godfrey
7. Top Hat
8. The Wizard of Oz
9. North by Northwest
10. The Big Lebowski

Not Top 10 but up my alley: Something by Preston Sturges (The Great McGinty?), more screwball comedies (His Girl Friday), Groundhog Day, Dr. No, something with Olivier (Rebecca?); overrated: the Godfather movies, the '70s auteurs generally (Coppola's best: Peggy Sue Got Married!).

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Bob Cawley
Hometown: Ballston, NY

With the average price of gas already in the $4.00 neighborhood, there is a good possibility the upcoming Memorial Day weekend may well be enough to nudge it over.

Hopefully, when that landmark is achieved, the (What Liberal) Media will remember that it was just three short months ago our esteemed leader was visibly shocked by the suggestion that gas might soon breach the $4.00/gallon mark.

Based on their record, the SCLM may need a little prompting. It might also be a good time to remind them that the rise in gas prices has not been bad news for everyone.

Name: Bill Croghan
Hometown: Mt. Vernon, Iowa

When it comes to attempting to legitimize race as a criterion for choosing a President, Pat Buchanan is the tip of the iceberg. Kathleen Parker writes a nationally printed column which explained the connection of blood and soil in which one could almost hear the jackboots and brass bands of Nuremburg echoing in the dark recesses of her mind. Too young to actually remember those halcyon days. Must be a race memory. Michael Medved explains that it is not racial differences per se that separate "us" from "them," its brain chemistry! Our forefathers were wired to explore, to migrate, to face the dangers of the unknown! Oh, except for the Blacks, who were dragged over against their will. So Blacks don't have the right stuff but its not because they are Black, but because, well, they're Black. Michael is blissfully unaware, it seems, that the noble young Americans of Ms. Parker's screed really don't consider him one of "us." The use of pseudoscience in the support of exclusion.

He does not appreciate the irony of his making of this argument. A trip up the "holler" might cause him to reassess the brain chemistry of all involved.

Name: Ryan
Hometown: Chicago

Buchanan represents that demographic that continues to harbor the ingrained irrational fear of blacks that this society, through our government and media, i.e. we the people, have fomented over the past 250 years. The fact that Barrack Obama, black only because of the 1 drop "rule", is in a fantastic position to become the most powerful man in the United States of America, if not the world, shows how adaptable our society is to change and is a development that truly makes me proud to be an American citizen. The fact that Buchanan, and people like him, fear this change, is anachronistic at this point.

Name: Ken Bilderback

Could there be more pitiful pictures than the ones coming out of Our President's visit with the Saudis? Can you imagine the field day talk radio and cable news would have with this if there was a Democrat in office? Let's just pray we get the opportunity to find out come November.

Name: Eric
Hometown: Madison, WI

Hey Eric,

Saw this link mentioned in the Chuck Prophet newsletter. It's Alejandro joining Bruce and the band at a recent Houston show, doing "Wasn't I Always a Friend to You?," a track from Alejandro's new record.

Just passing it along as it's pretty darn good, IMO.

Keep up the good work!

Name: Mark B.
Hometown: Sarasota

Please let me know the years you were in junior high school and I will gladly provide you with a list of excellent McCartney compositions from those same years. You look too young for this but if it was during the 70's or 80's, what you wrote is just plain wrong. The 90's? Here's wishing you "Hope of Deliverance" from your McCartney-bashing ways.

Eric replies: Tomasky took umbrage at this as well, but the last really good, no apologies song by Paul I can identify is "Beware My Love." So maybe I was in high school, but not yet an upperclassman ...

The Why We're Liberals paperback subtitle suggestions:

Name: Greg
Hometown: Minnetonka

An answer to the tragedy of Conservatism

Name: Martin Milgrim
Hometown: Boynton Beach, FL

It's a Pride Thing

It's the Only Game where Everybody Wins

Because Left is Right

What Else Can a Thinking Person Be?

Name: Dorian Lucey
Hometown: Gainesville, Florida

Why We're Liberals: Sound Thinking for Sound Minds

Name: Steve Sherretta
Hometown: Philadelphia

Myth-busting the conservative misinformation age -- once and for all.

Name: Derrick Gibson
Hometown: Miami, FL

Why We're Liberals: The Continuation of the Era of Enlightenment

Name: Greg Hilliard
Hometown: Phoenix

Why We're Liberals: And why you should be

Name: Jack Cheng
Hometown: Boston

"And Why You Will Be, Too"

Name: Jason
Hometown: Fremont

Why We're Liberals -

Flag pins on the right - Liberals on the Left

Name: Stephen Zeoli
Hometown: Hubbardton, Vermont

Okay, how about this:

Why We Are Liberals: The Ideas that Make America Great


Why We Are Liberals: A Handbook for Restoring America's Most Powerful Ideals

Name: Brian Geving
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN

I'm currently reading your book, and enjoying it very much, although a long-time reader of your blog will recognize many of the themes.

Here are a few suggestions for a subtitle:

1. Opportunities and Challenges for the 21st Century

2. A handbook for salvaging the Liberal brand

3. Why 'Liberal' is a dirty word and what we can do to change it

4. A history of the conservative assault on the Liberal brand

Name: Marc Schenker
Hometown: Ft. Lauderdale

A few suggestions:

The Conscience of America is Reborn

The Renaissance of America's Conscience.

(The phrase of flanked by head shots of Bush & Cheney)

This is Why.

Name: Eric Gebert
Hometown: Montrose, New York

"Why We're Liberals...AND PROUD OF IT!!!"

Name: David J Zimny
Hometown: Oakland, CA

Dr. A:

Since you'd like a subtitle with more staying power, how about "A Handbook for the Twenty-First Century'?

No matter what the subtitle, I'm keeping my copy close at hand in case I have to crush some hapless neoconservative in a debate!

Name: David Gowdey
Hometown: San Rafael CA

Why We're Liberals: A Handbook For The Unacknowledged Majority

Love the work!

Name: T.H. Arnold
Hometown: Andover, MA

I was thinking you could pay homage to I.F. Stone in some way.

"America's Promise in a Time of Torment" or "Keeping Democracy Alive in 21st Century America"

Good luck!

Name: Joel Rosenberg
Hometown: Watertown, Mass.

I'd put it this way:


Name: (mr) Sandy Goodman
Hometown: Rockville, MD

For your paperback subhead to Why We're Liberals. how about: Getting Back to America's Business

Name: Joanna Beck
Hometown: Mill Valley, CA

Thank you for your many books and columns -- all read and enjoyed.

New book subtitle? How about:

"This is Our Story and We're Sticking to it."

Name: Marshall Fine
Hometown: Ossining, NY


How about this:

"Why We're Liberals: Helping You Figure Out for Yourself What You Really Already Know"

Name: Chip Collis
Hometown: Elmhurst, IL

1) An Object Lesson in the Obvious
2) Besides the Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll
3) and Jesus, Too!
4) Even if We Don't Like Lattes
5) and So Are You!
6) "Conceived in Liberty, Dedicated to the Proposition..."
7) The Values of America's Founders
8) The Death and Rebirth of Reason
9) Why? Because We Like You
10) A Field Guide to Progressive Thought
11) The Idiot's Guide to Not Being an Idiot

Eric replies: You know, a few of these are real possibilities. Thanks, people. I'll send these along, but look forward to hearing from those who have not yet played ...

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