I'll laugh until my head comes off

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

I'll admit, I'm just plain terrified. We are stuck in a hopeless war led by a clueless man who enjoys only a passing relationship with reality. Rather than admit his many, many errors, he prefers to kill many, many people. And he will continue to do so until someone finds a way to stop him. Our political system has broken down, and our soldiers, the Iraqis, quite possibly the Iranians, and many others must pay for our refusal to admit that with their lives. Do I sound "shrill"? I get worse here , and I put this up yesterday. And I've got a Nation column called "Iraq and the Sin of Good Judgment," here.

Boy, even the Encyclopædia Britannica sounds shrill.

Here is how those hard-hitting fellows at Glenn Beck's ABC News described the news to me yesterday. Breaking News from ABCNEWS.com:

'LEADING EDGE' OF TROOP SURGE HAS ARRIVED IN BAGHDAD, ABC NEWS HAS LEARNED."

Note that the word "surge" does not appear in quotes. Has ABC become not only Beck's but also Bush's news service? There's plenty more of that kind of thing from our sponsors, here.

Don't Be Proud You're a Rebel, 'cause The South's Not Gonna Do it Again...

Here.

I have nothing against Harold Ford, but this is a mistake. The Republican Party is becoming the regional party of the South, with no base save fundamentalist Christians and the old Southern racists who were once the Democrats' base there. I say let them have it. The South really is a different country, and while it can continue to block a great deal of badly needed legislation via the filibuster, it can't win national elections. But even if I'm wrong, the last thing you want to do if you want to compete in the South is put a black guy in charge. White people do not vote for black people there very much; which is why Mr. Ford lost his race against a candidate who was considered nuts by most normal people; and why John McCain's media adviser thought it was such a good idea to run ads that exploited the pyscho-sexual fears that have traditionally been the fodder of lynchings and the like.

For the record, I have made a real effort to lay off the DLC. I think the dangers presented by the extremist takeover of the executive branch make the differences between liberals and corporate Democrats appear insignificant. Plus, they turned out to be right about a few things about which I was wrong, which I did not learn until I belatedly read Tom and Mary Edsall's Chain Reaction. (As should you.)

I just think it makes sense for Democrats to focus on the blue states and the West, and let the South go its own way. It's unfair to the people who need the help of progressives there, I know -- there is one abortion clinic in all of Mississippi, a state with 3 million people in it -- but hey, life's unfair. I'm sorry.

He Hit Me (and it felt like a kiss):

Geraldo once threatened to punch me too, here. There were a lot of people looking as he did so, and so I took off my glasses to offer him a clear shot. It would have been great for the piece I was writing. He wimped out, though, walked away and said I wasn't worth it. We ended up making up and I took him out to dinner. Afterward, he asked me for $20 for the cab fare home. That was 1988 or so, and he never paid me back. About 10 years later, I met the (young, blonde) woman he was about to marry a few years ago at a party. She told me Geraldo and Bruce were close. I'm a big fan of the art, not the artist, but this was just too ridiculous to be believed and I told her so. I'm not friends with the woman who invited me to that party anymore.

Matt's on the Crazy Marty Watch, this time about the Kurds, along with Pipes/Mylroie and how much they liked killing Kurds when that was cool.

My favorite quote on this score was back in '82 when he advised Israel to deliver the PLO a "lasting military defeat" that "will clarify to the Palestinians in the West Bank that their struggle for an independent state has suffered a setback of many years." Then "the Palestinians will be turned into just another crushed nation, like the Kurds or the Afghans," thereby making them "boring."

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Shelley Cole
Hometown: Westchester, IL

While everyone is falling all over themselves praising Gov. Schwarzenegger, please note that Illinois' DEMOCRATIC governor was there first with his own universal healthcare program for all children in Illinois. According to the website:

"Illinois is the first state in the nation to guarantee access to affordable health insurance for all uninsured children. The FamilyCare program expanded income levels, in January 2006, making an additional 56,000 parents eligible for health insurance. The Illinois Healthy Women program offers family planning and other health services to nearly 207,000 Illinois women. In all, nearly 2,321,000 Illinoisans receive healthcare coverage or pharmacy benefits through HFS' medical programs."

Name: Merrill R. Frank
Hometown: Jackson Hgts, NYC

Sure you ask, will Arnold Schwarzenegger make the world safe for universal health care? Will Republicans use the specter of Hugo Chavez to block any meaningful reform? The same way back in 1994 they used the now legendary Harry and Louise ads along with mostly exaggerated tales of Canadians entering the U.S. for health care. Somehow I would not put it past them.

With Chavez nationalizing the power grid and telecommunications industries will Republicans use the boogieman of Chavez to demonize any attempt at heath care reform. Granted the U.S. does have a few very successful municipally owned utilities such as Los Angeles and Rockville Center Long Island but the anti-government strain of the populous since Reagan does not inspire much hope.

Sen. Ron Wyden's plan holds a lot of promise as well as the house progressive caucus' (i.e., Conyer's Medicare for all). Liberals and Democrats need to be on the offensive; otherwise it's back to 1994 and quashed hopes for real reform.

Name: Lionel Artom-Ginzburg
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

All through the last campaign cycle, those of us in the Democratic Party who are in favor of even the most mild gun control were essentially told to keep our mouths shut, because we had to appeal to Middle America, and lots of the candidates we were supporting were Democrats on almost every other issue. I myself voted for Bob Casey, Jr., here in PA (despite the fact that I voted Republican against his father, who actually wasn't bad on gun control, only abortion and birth control), holding my nose, to get Santorum out of office. And more than 400 of my fellow Philadelphians were murdered last year, more than 350 of them by firearm.

So it angers me beyond belief when I pop over to Drudge (I ignore his politics; he sometimes has a twisted sense of humor similar to my own) and see this.

As an attorney, I'm well aware that all that's there is the base outline of an incident, which might not even pass grand jury muster, though Hackett's version doesn't sound too dissimilar to the complainants'. (And the leaking of grand jury testimony, in this case undoubtedly for political ends, is despicable.) But it's cowboy bullshit like that which is why people are in favor of gun control -- yes, most crimes with guns are committed by criminals, but even the best and brightest of us are capable of anger, and the consequences of anger combined with easy accessibility to guns -- in this case a gun that was originally designed for military use -- can lead way too easily to tragedy. Paul Hackett is a lawyer. In his rational mind he knew damned well that what he was doing went beyond simply "protecting his family." But he obviously wasn't in his rational mind, or this never would have happened.

I thank G-d that nobody was hurt. I hope that, regardless of the legal outcome of this, Mr. Hackett, whose congressional race I followed with much interest, gets some help to deal with what sounds like a classic PTSD reaction (he even refers to it as seeming similar to situations he faced in Iraq). And if that's what it was, and he gets treatment, I'm not even sure I'd be bothered by his return to politics. But I'm well and truly stunned that the gun issue has completely disappeared from political discourse, and that I have seen no mention of this incident on Daily Kos or MyDD or any of the other places which, um, went ballistic when the Ohio Dems asked him to step aside in the Senate primary for Sherrod Brown.

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