Slacker Friday


We've got a new "Think Again" column on protecting anonymous sources here.

Bruce at Giants Stadium: A simplistic but precise report card (graded, of course, on a Bruce-curve, which means a C would be an A+ for anyone else ...):

Night One, B. Highlights: "Adam Raised a Cain," "Janey, Don't You Lose Heart."

Night Two, A. Highlights: "Out in the Street," "Hungry Heart," "Sherry Darling," "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City," "Drive All Night," "Detroit Medley."

Night Three, A/A-. Highlights: "Pretty Flamingo" (!), "Blinded by the Light," "Incident on 57th Street," "Jersey Girl."

I realize I may be the only person in the world to care about this, and I only care a tiny bit, but what does Commentary's Jennifer Rubin have on The Note's Rick Klein?

I realize that Mr. Klein is, in many respects, a fully-worked ref, citing right-wing publications that have proven consistently wrong about everything throughout the past eight years -- following the requisite ABC advertising which justifies the expense of the effort to his corporate overlords -- while ignoring those on the center-left who have proven right. But even so, Commentary? Come now. The guy cites her every day. Are they dating? Did his mother lose a bet to her mother playing canasta in Boca? Does he actually think that Commentary, edited by John Podhoretz like a family dry-cleaning business, is actually a worthwhile publication? (OK, that one's impossible.) What gives?

Slacker Friday:

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc:

"And when they don't give us what we like/well, then, men, that's when you gotta go on strike."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "After Hours" (Marie Watanabe) -- Once again this week, I have failed to produce a commercial in which I spurn Paris Hilton and Britney Spears because of how much I love New Orleans.

Short Takes:

Part The First: If they're going to defeat The Mighty Forces Of The Left (!), the defenders of talk-radio really are going to have to do better for a champion than this fathead. For that matter, they're really going to have to do better for a cause than a moron like Michael Savage, to whom Talkers Magazine -- The Bible Of The Industry! -- gave its First Amendment Award last year. This was like giving the Nobel Prize For Medicine to one of the Borgias, but nobody seemed too upset about it. Weiner's done this before. Back in his days as a patent medicine salesman, he set off an international frenzy against aluminum among the families of Alzheimer's patients at least partly because he misread an obscure study of Canadian bauxite miners. Pretty soon, people were tossing their aluminum pots and pans, and the Glass Bottlers Association was running scare commercials aimed at beer drinkers. You can read all about it in this book, by the way. In any case, this would be a really good week for the "He's Only An Entertainer!" crowd to take about 100 cc's of STFU intravenously.

Part The Second: Whenever I hear -- again -- that standing up for the Constitution simply because it IS the Constitution is politically unwise, instead of throwing up, which has been my default position since the 2006 midterms, I'll just read this again.

Part The Third: I Sed I Are A Profeshunal Historyan: Still more proof that conservative pundits should be kept away from writing about sports for the same reasons that we keep toddlers away from chain-saws. Presumably, given the care and thoroughness that has been the hallmark of his work since Mommy first got him a job, our doughty scholar is equally revolted by the victory-podium protest of Czech gymnast Vera Caslavska at those same Olympics. I mean, so what if the Soviet tanks had rolled into Prague a few weeks earlier? After all, 1968 was not 1618 and nobody was threatening to throw her out a window. It's also nice to see that our doughty scholar has picked up the torch left behind by one of the least excusable Americans of the last century. By now, calling this knob dumb as a bag of rocks is an insult to the fine work done by the crew of Apollo 15.

Part The Fourth: Somebody lost Tabitha Soren's phone number, I guess.

Part The Last: I have managed to score a couple of seats at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro for me and my daughter this Saturday night to see this New Jersey fella who seems to be all the rage. Review to follow next week.

I have stayed away from the John Edwards story for several reasons. For one thing, Sticky Mickey Kaus is an onanistic simpleton who should be allowed to drool on himself outside the company of decent people. For another, despite What Everybody Knows about the story, nobody really knows anything. (Here's what Sticky Mickey calls a "solid item" on the story.) There was the original, unsourced report. Now, there is another unsourced report, "backed up" by an admittedly weird encounter in a Los Angeles hotel, of which the National Enquirer mysteriously declines to release the pictures. (Is there anyone who would like to argue that fleeing from National Enquirer photographers isn't what any sensible human being would do under any circumstance?) Other than that, there's no more substance to this story than there is to most Enquirer political pieces, and it's hardly the only time the Enquirer broke a story only to have it ignored by the damned liberal media.

Nevertheless, the non-Mickey parts of Slate went somewhat to town earlier this week. So, alas, did Arianna's place, in a piece that might have set an alltime record for overthinking the oeuvre of Sticky Mickey. So, it seems, did some grumpy downhome yokel. (And if you call yourself "Robert (Bob) Wilson," why, yes, you might just be a yokel.) The damned lib'rul media gives Democratic politicians a pass on their sex lives? Jesse Jackson escaped unscathed? By the way, ma'am, congrats on your graduation.

Later this week, we had even more of this on the subject of what Barack Obama may or may not have said at a meeting.

And, KO? You know I love you, but it was your pal Milbank who first flung this particular cow-chip, and it was your network, especially Ol' Squint and the Morning Zoo Crew, who hurled it even further into the discourse. Not for nothing, but this is the kind of thing on which Murrow would've called out his own people.

On stories like these, I am reminded of a friend from Belfast who once, while walking in Boston, was confronted by a man who said, "Give me your wallet. I have a gun." My friend replied, "Sir, where I come from, if you have a gun, you produce it," and then went on his way. It is insupportable as journalism to write as fact that which you merely suspect, regardless of how many other people suspect it, too. In fact, herself even has a name for the phenomenon. Apply the Kaus Rules to another story? Would it be supportable as journalism for me to write a piece assuming as fact that the Bush administration used its illegal surveillance powers to wiretap its political opponents just because a lot of people suspect, based on this administration's proven track record, that it probably did so? Could I get that piece into my newspaper? The answer to both questions is, and ought to be, no. If you have the gun, kids, produce it.

This is all of a piece with the godawful notion that we should write something because "perception is reality." No, no, no. F**k, no. If the perception is different from the reality, it is the obligation of the journalist to pound that reality, day after day, until the perception either conforms to it, or it falls away because it is untrue. We are not obligated to be conveyor belts for bulls**t just because a lot of people happen to believe it. If you have to use the phrase "if true" in discussing whether or not something is a legitimate news story, then it's not. And Chuck Todd? If you are talking about a news story and you use the phrase, "no matter how true or untrue the allegations," you're a hack and a fraud and should leave the legitimate news business immediately. Perhaps there's a job for you at Ye Old House Of Mulch for Brains.

Name: randy jewett
Hometown: gainesville fl


Are reporters as ignorant as the average American about how their government works?

Reporters are constantly asking presidential candidates if "they" will raise or lower taxes, such as you quote Bill O' doing to Hillary today. Russert did it, they all do it, apparently even if they know better. Voters must realize that presidents can't do that. It takes an act of Congress to raise or lower taxes. Reporters are so sorry at their jobs when they formulate questions like this. They are perpetuating ignorance. Why can't they say, "Will you propose such and such of a tax increase or decrease?" Then voters might pay more attention to see that it is a process with complicated steps that depends more on their congressional representatives than whoever is prez.

Name: Debra Beller
Hometown: Chapel Hill, NC

Monica's Mess, Part The First: A stain on a blue dress, evidence of a private encounter that affected the country not at all, had it not been for a distorted political witch hunt conducted by two-faced Republicans.

Monica's Mess, Part the Second: A blot on the entire nation, fomented by a third-rate graduate of a joke of a law school, whose actions wrecked havoc on one of the critical components of American democracy -- that of an independent Justice Department.

Which one do you think the MSM has covered more extensively?

(With apologies to Pierce for borrowing his fine formatting.)

Name: DrSteveB
Hometown: NY, NY

Regarding whether we can fire the partisan ideologues who got civil service jobs illegally, in DoJ under Goodling and probably in other Depts and Agencies, the reporting of Charlie Savage in the NY Times that specific lists of names to be hired exists would seem to add strength to the possibility it could be done. On the one hand, there are civil service and union protections (irony alert). On the other hand, if the job was obtained as part of premeditated criminal RICO like conspiracy, which the existence of "hire these people" lists suggests, then it may be possible.

Name: Virginia
Hometown: Falls Church, VA.

Your city kicks ass? Maybe. But it would be hard to top the production of "Jerry Springer, the Opera" I saw at Washington, D.C.'s Studio Theater last night. Tickets were 39 bucks, by the way.

Eric replies: I lived in DC for 10 years. Even if what you say is true, rhully, it ain't worth it.

Name: Gabe
Hometown: Philly

Your assertion that Bruce playing in Giants Stadium somehow makes your city kick all other city's asses (for the next 12 hours) overlooks the fact that Giants Stadium is in ... New Jersey.

Peace and Love,


Eric replies: What do you take me for, bub? The bus from the Port Authority is five bucks. Last year I ran into Mr. and Mrs. Vartan Gregorian on line. Let Jersey have the traffic and the pollution. We get to hop a bus back.

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