Slacker Friday


George and I have a new "Think Again" column called "Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction: Did 'Everyone' Agree?" And my new Nation column, "Silence of the (MSM) Lambs," is here. Meanwhile, info on the Alterman/Edsall Washington "free lunch" discussion at CAP on Monday is here. (Oh, and lookit the author's spanking new webpage, still in slightly beta version, provided to me by, here.)

Eric's List:

Wanted: A nice, conveniently located, reasonably priced apartment for rent in Denver, August 23-28. Please reply below or to

From ANP:

If either political party wanted to prove its leadership on issues of waste and abuse in Washington, there's a $295 billion swamp at the Pentagon waiting to be drained. Each year we spend hundreds of billions on faulty, outdated, or unrealistic weapons systems that fail to protect our troops. Yet, while soldiers die and the economy suffers, politicians and the mainstream media continue to ignore this scandal. The American News Project investigates this $300 billion betrayal.

From TomDispatch:

You know that old joke: military justice is to justice as military music is to music; well, someday, not so far into the future, a similar -- though far grimmer -- joke is likely to be made about Washington's attempts to secure the U.S. oil supply by military means. As the war in Iraq continues and oil rises toward $140 a barrel (with the head of Russia's oil monopoly, Gazprom, predicting a $250 barrel of oil within 18 months -- and that's without a U.S. attack on Iran), TomDispatch regular Michael Klare, author of the new book Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet, launches a bold challenge to U.S. energy policy.

"American policymakers," he begins, "have long viewed the protection of overseas oil supplies as an essential matter of 'national security,' requiring the threat of -- and sometimes the use of -- military force. This is now an unquestioned part of American foreign policy." This is also the ultimate, unquestioned wisdom of political Washington and its pundits. But, Klare asks, "with the costs of militarized oil operations -- in both blood and dollars -- rising precipitously isn't it time to challenge such 'wisdom'? Isn't it time to ask whether the U.S. military has anything reasonable to do with American energy security, and whether a reliance on military force, when it comes to energy policy, is practical, affordable, or justifiable?"

He then considers the linking of military force to energy policy from its first Saudi moment in 1945 to the disastrous present -- and from Iraq and Central Asia to Africa, where a new Pentagon command, AFRICOM, has just been established. Then he suggests the components of a saner approach to U.S. energy policy, delinked from military force and aimed at "real security."

He concludes his canny, provocative piece this way: "An approach of this sort would enhance American national security on multiple levels. It would increase the reliable supply of fuels, promote economic growth at home (rather than sending a veritable flood of dollars into the coffers of unreliable petro-regimes abroad), and diminish the risk of recurring U.S. involvement in foreign oil wars. No other approach -- certainly not the present traditional, unquestioned, unchallenged reliance on military force -- can make this claim. It's well past time to stop garrisoning the global gas station."

This week on Moyers:

While many Americans are working harder for less money and paying more for everyday items like gas and food, the rich are getting richer. Bill Moyers Journal analyzes the growing inequality gap on the ground in Los Angeles, where recently union workers marched to bring attention to how they are getting squeezed out of the shrinking middle class. Bill Moyers also interviews Steve Fraser, historian and author of Wall Street: America's Dream Palace, about the modern parallels and differences to the first Gilded Age, the big disparity between the rich and poor, and the increasing strain on working Americans. And Holly Sklar, co-author of Raise the Floor: Wages and Policies that Work for All of Us, discusses what current economic conditions say about the state of the American dream.

Slacker Friday:

Name: Susan Bradley
Hometown: Creston IA

I'm sick to death of the Laura Ingrahams of the world. I'm a single mother who works as a special education paraprofessional. Next school year I'll be making a heady $10/hr., no insurance. The only way I get by from paycheck to paycheck is Sec. 8 & food stamps. But I'm an elitist because I'm a liberal? My lifelong UAW member father is an elitist because he's a liberal?

I believe in the principles upon which this country was founded, but I'm not sure Ms. Ingraham knows what they are.

Name: Brandon Tvedt
Hometown: Milwaukee

I had been poring over some fondly remembered moments of Republican idiocy the other day, when I revisited the story about the G.O.P. picking "The Change You Deserve" as their new party motto.

This brought me a chuckle, as it did the first time I read the story. What did not sink in the first time I heard about this was the immensity of the irony in that statement.

I'm sure most of us heard it, yawned, and thought BS, but has it occurred to you that if we elect McCain, that slogan will indeed literally prove true. We will get exactly the "change" we as a nation deserve if we prove that stupid; that is to say, none at all.

Name: planetniner
Hometown: Sierra Madre, CA

First, the bad news. You missed the most amazing, shocking, astounding news revelation of the year, buried on the third page of "How Karl Rove Played Politics While People Drowned" in Salon. The good news -- so did everyone else. As far as I can tell, NO ONE picked this up. NO ONE -- not even Lefties like you.

Here's the context. New Orleans has been underwater for almost a week. Bush is finally down there, meeting with Governor Kathleen Blanco. Salon picks it up... "She gave Bush a two-page letter detailing everything the state needed to cope with the disaster -- troops, buses, supplies, money, and more. It would not be until several days later, when Blanco's aides released the letter to the press and got frantic phone calls from Rove's aide Maggie Grant, that it became clear that Bush had taken the letter Blanco had personally handed to him -- and lost it."

At the height of Katrina, Blanco gave Bush a letter with what New Orleans needed to survive...AND HE LOST IT. Didn't hand it to an aide saying, "Get this done!" Didn't whip out his Presidential Laser Satellite Cellphone and whip his minions into galvanized action. HE...LOST...IT.

If a Democrat ... oh, never mind.

Name: Marshall Fine
Hometown: Ossining, NY

Three years ago, the so-called Gang of 14 (which included both John McCain and Joe Lieberman, as well as Lindsey Graham, John Warner and Robert Byrd) "rescued" Congress from a meltdown over the"nuclear option": then-Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist's threat to change Senate rules in order to remove filibusters from the parliamentary-procedure arsenal. The reason: Democrats were threatening to filibuster Bush's right-wing judicial appointees. In the process, the majority Republicans managed to demonize the Democrats and make the filibuster -- a legitimate tactical maneuver -- seem anti-American.

Three years later, Republicans, now in the minority, have turned the tables -- and the Democrats seem to surrender every day without a whimper.

How many votes in the past few months have been postponed or tabled because the majority lacked 60 votes? The last time I looked, a majority of 100 was 51. But the Democrats simply shrug and walk away from legislation to end the war, confront global warming, etc., because, well, gee, the Republicans will filibuster. Or the president will just veto it anyway. And they don't have the votes to override.

What am I missing here? Am I just dense? Did I not get the memo?

This is a freakin' election year. The Republicans are obstructing legislation that the majority of Americans want put forward. Someone should be holding a press conference every time one of these bills fails, saying, "Once again, the Republicans are subverting the will of the electorate."

Instead, the Democrats are giving up on each and every issue without a fight -- and without making political hay out of the exact brand of obstructionism of which the Republicans accused them -- and used against them -- for years.

Here's why the Democrats are going to blow it this year: Because, unlike the Republicans, they live in mortal fear that someone, somewhere, might point an accusing finger and say, "Hey, that's not fair." Like anybody gives a rat's ass. What a bunch of weenies.

Name: Todd
Hometown: Chicago

Paul Newman ... goy? His father was Jewish. Can't you give him partial credit?

Eric replies: He'd have to want it ...

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