Let's drink to the hard-working people?


As I understand things, the content of Hillary Clinton's speech yesterday ensures that I need to continue to refrain from commenting on Barack Obama's historic victory as the first black American major party nominee for president of the United States for a while longer. So I'm afraid you will have to go elsewhere for that kind of thing. I don't imagine there is any shortage of it out there, and my proverbial two cents won't be much missed.

Perhaps I can say this about Ezra Klein's post:

1) Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was made in 1966 and released in 1967. While it was being filmed, Spencer Tracy explains to Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton "what you're doing isn't even legal in 18 states." In fact, the anti- miscegenation laws were passed while the movie was preparing for release and it was legal by the time it came out in December 1967. (The details are available in Mark Harris' fine book, Pictures at a Revolution.) Hannah Arendt once wrote a much-maligned piece arguing that anti-miscegenation laws would have been a better vehicle to assert the civil rights of black people than were the laws segregating schools, since they would not have put children in the battleground. Personally, I find considerable merit in that argument as I think the results -- not the intent, but the results -- of Brown v. Board of Education have been largely negative. (Really, how much actual integration do you think there is in America's schools? In the poorer parts of New York City, according to Jonathan Kozol, the figure is .02 percent -- two-one-hundredths of 1 percent.)

2) Second, the wonderful Katharine Houghton character in that wonderful film -- which my family just watched a couple of weeks ago -- is inspired by the remarkable late mother of the admirable philosopher Anthony Appiah, Peggy Appiah.

3) This is not relevant, but speaking of great old movies, we watched All About Eve this weekend, and if there's a better-written, better-acted film in existence, I can't think of it.

4) Back to Guess Who: I see from the IMDB page: "When Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton arrive at San Francisco Airport on a United Airlines flight, they take Yellow Cab #1850 in town. The phone number of the cab company is painted on the side of the car. Today, the same number (626-2345) will still get you in touch with Yellow Cab."

The Gift That Keeps on Giving: Reading my favorite weblog -- the Spine, of course -- I see that its author, Martin Peretz, pronounces himself "appalled" that the current generation of Israeli leaders are not as poor and ascetic as he would like them to be, here. Perhaps Peretz's Mini-Me, the possibly imaginary Jamie Kirchick, might want to remind him that thanks to his second ex-wife's inherited tens of millions, the author of this touching lament has himself availed himself of multimillion-dollar residences in Cambridge; Washington, D.C.; Jerusalem; and for a while Paris and New York -- was it the Sherry-Netherlands? -- while forcing his employees to work for far less than they would be paid elsewhere and then cutting their salaries by 10 percent when his stock market genius failed to manifest itself in what the rest of us call "the real world." Still, Marty has a point, so let's make it plain: The Prime Minister of Israel has no right to live even a fraction as luxuriously as a guy who has never had to make a living in his life, written nothing, ever, of note in his life except in an unintentionally funny fashion, (almost) destroyed liberalism's most important magazine, enjoys no academic, journalistic, or editorial distinction of any recognizable kind, but happen to marry (and divorce) two extremely wealthy women.

We note also that he is complaining about Leah Rabin's having kept $500 in a secret American bank account. You read that right -- $500. Commenter "vverma" is right to say:

$500 in a US Account for Leah Rabin?

Come on Marty, this is sad to even bring up.

And it's helping to make this corner of the website even more irrelevant.

But it is not "helping to make this corner of the website even more irrelevant." It's helping to make it more fun than evah ...

I couldn't agree more. Great post, Marty. Keep 'em coming ...

Michael Kazin reviews David Sirota's new book, here, and Morris Dickstein has a fine piece about the political novel in Bookforum here.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Brian Geving
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN


June 2nd was the 1st anniversary of the death of Steve Gilliard, contributor to Daily Kos and his own site The News Blog, about whom Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas wrote:

"When reporters ask me when I first started thinking Daily Kos would become something more important, I tell them about the Dean campaign, or about the traffic explosion during the run-up and start of the Iraq War. But that's pretty much bullshit. Because the reality is much more mundane, much less sexy -- It was the arrival on the site's comment boards of two people -- Meteor Blades and Steve Gilliard. They were a real revelation to me -- I couldn't believe that people like them, so brilliant, so insightful, so talented, would spend time at my little corner of the world. They inspired me to keep writing, keep building this place. Because if nothing else, I needed to make sure they had a platform upon which to speak. So they ended up being two of the first contributing editors on Daily Kos. Steve, in fact, was the first person I ever approached with the "guest blogger" offer. And he didn't waste time getting started, drawing on history of the region and the British occupation of Iraq in the late 1910s to set the stage for what the US would soon face in Iraq. He was frighteningly prescient on Iraq, and it wasn't the only topic he would consistently nail. He was a credit to the progressive blogosphere."

With a degree from NYU in History and Journalism, he was a frequent critic of the war in Iraq, citing historical precedent to explain how we can win the war against Saddam Hussein and still lose the war for the hearts and minds of the people. He showed how Britain's experience in Mesopotamia provided many lessons that our leaders failed to heed.

While I didn't start reading about Steve until after his death, it is clear that we need more "fighting liberals" like him. He was the exact opposite of the wimpy liberal stereotype that you explain in your book, often compared to greats like Molly Ivins for his direct, take-no-prisoners style.

You've often commented on your blog about race-based affirmative action, saying that a more effective approach should be class-based. As an African-American, Steve Gilliard agreed with you in his post from 2000 entitled "Class Is More Important Than Race (And Almost Everything Else)."

Doing a little research digging into Steve's writings will make one a better writer, a better thinker and show you what it means to be a real liberal in a sea of conservative haters. To this day, his grave is hidden to prevent vandalism. His family should be proud that he had so many conservative enemies. He will be missed greatly!

Name: Jon Delfin
Hometown: NYC

I also wrote to Dunkin' Donuts, letting them know that I would reward their sad cowardice by taking my business elsewhere. A response from Customer Service included this misdirection:

"Given the surprising and truly unfortunate interpretation of this ad from some of our consumers, we decided to pull the ad and replace it with another as it is no longer serving its intended purpose, which was to simply promote our iced coffee -- nothing more, nothing less."

Until someone shows me Malkin's Dunkin' Donuts-affiliated Visa card, I'm not buying it.

Name: Jim Celer
Hometown: Omaha

The teen fellatio brouhaha is a subset of the "Why Your Child Is Sure To Become a Psycho" staple of local TV news. It's almost as pervasive as the other staple, "Why You Are Certain To Die, Maybe By Tomorrow."

Name: Eric Friedman
Hometown: Berkeley


Enjoyed the book very much, and your lunchtime talk at Stacey's in San Francisco was a treat.

After reading the various pieces you highlighted about the disappearance of Iraq reporting, I hopped over to Newsmap. Newsmap shows a "heatmap" (also called a "treemap") based on the Google news aggregator. If a story is getting lots of coverage, it gets a larger box+font in the map. As its creator puts it, the map "accentuates the bias" of the news.

When I looked, Senator Kennedy, Tatum O'Neal, Bill Gross, and various sports events had the lion's share of the space. Iranian saber rattling and anti-Danish Pakistani Taliban groups had a thin sliver. Iraq? Not a thing.

I wish I could say that the UK, Indian, German, or French maps were different in this respect, but they're not.

Name: Kris Alexander
Hometown: Austin TX (currently an East Coast military refugee)

Anecdotally, my household has become a good indicator of lack of Iraq media coverage. I'm in the Army (and a friend of LTC Bob) and a news junkie. But, over the past couple years I've been forced to keep the news off around my three-year-old son or at least change the channel when he enters the room. He doesn't need to see violent images of people who wear the same "work clothes" as Daddy on the TV. But lately, I've noticed that I am able to keep the news on for longer periods of time because there is rarely news from Iraq or Afghanistan.

P.S. Don Henley is better than Willie Nelson? Please. Clearly, you're high on something.

Eric replies: Dude, Willie is practically 80 and can barely sing anymore. I'm writing in the present tense. While you may or not be high -- I don't profess to have any particular knowledge in that regard -- you might pay more careful attention ...

Name: Clay Landon
Hometown: Los Angeles

Provided you're not absolutely sick of getting e-mails on the topic, I humbly submit three white boys who can sing better than Henley: Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates, Steve Perry of Journey, and Steve Winwood.

Eric replies: Winwood is an argument. The rest ... I laugh.

Name: Bob
Hometown: Kansas City, MO

I am sure that Don Henley and James Taylor belong atop of any 'White Men with Beautiful Voices' list, but sitting on top of my list is J.D. Souther. Maybe Henley's and Taylor's voices are so ubiquitous that I tend to ignore their songs when played on the radio, but I always stop to listen when a J.D. Souther song gets its infrequent airplay... especially "You're Only Lonely" and "When the Bars Burn Down."

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