(Untitled)

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

The Complete Works of Jonah Goldberg, um, not available yet.

The New York Times today claims Al Gore's testimony before Congress is "akin to a recovering alcoholic returning to a neighborhood bar." This follows last week's sloppy hit piece about how "rank and file" scientists claim Gore's exaggerating about the global warming crisis. Only problem was, the Times couldn't actually find many rank-and-file scientists to make that charge. It's all part of the Times' ongoing War on Gore, says our man Boehlert.

Liberals for Ron Unz, and here. Let me second (actually, third) that emotion. I suppose the guy is a right-winger; I really don't know. But he came to my house to give a talk once, and I found him to be decent and reasonable. And excuse me, I don't think illegal immigration ought to be a liberal cause. I'm all for helping poor people. But I believe in the rule of law, for all kinds of reasons. Let's have as many immigrants as we want, but let's try to have them here legally. I'm not even against the wall. Still, American Conservative is the best conservative magazine in America -- including Time -- and knows God we need smart conservatives in America almost as much as smart liberals. For instance, read this.

Obama runs away from Soros on AIPAC:

a) Well, what did you expect? Obama is a pragmatic politician who is running a genuine campaign for president. Is anyone who could possibly be president any braver?

b) Kind of proves Soros' point, dontcha think?

The Soros piece is here, and Joe Lelyveld's excellent discussion of the Jimmy Carter controversy is here. And when you think about pro-Israel bias in the media, consider this for a second. The Washington Post's Book World gave Carter's book not only to someone who's Jewish, not only to someone who worked for the Forward during its days as a neocon outfit, but to someone who served in the Israeli army. And nobody thinks anything of it. Can you imagine the kvetching you'd here from Abe Foxman, Marty Peretz, Alan Dershowitz, etc., if Carter's book had been given to someone who'd fought for the Palestinians and got his start writing for a pro-PLO newspaper? I get a headache just thinking about it.

I was asked by an academic journal last year to peer-review a paper comparing the coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in The New York Times and Ha'aretz. I thought it was quite revealing -- and yes, the Times is way more biased toward the hawkish Israeli point of view -- but I don't think it was ever published, which is a shame. It had problems, but was overall quite compelling. If anyone has heard of it since, let me know, pelase.

From our sponsors:

Tucker's worried about Hillary cutting off his balls.

Quote of the Day: "Given the circumstances, there is only one possible governing strategy [for George W. Bush]: a quiet, patient, and persistent bipartisanship." -- Joe Klein, The New Yorker.

From the Benton Foundation:

HOUSE QUESTIONS 'OVERREACHING' FBI SPY POWERS [SOURCE: CNET News.com, AUTHOR: Anne Broache]

Widespread abuse of the FBI's authority to secretly obtain Americans' telephone, Internet and financial records drew pointed questioning on Tuesday from the House Judiciary Committee. As promised by Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), the panel chided U.S. Department of Justice Glenn Fine and FBI General Counsel Valerie Caproni about an internal audit released earlier this month that detailed the FBI's missteps and illegal use of an investigative tool known as national security letters. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), one of the chief architects of the 2001 Patriot Act and its subsequent renewal, was among the most outspoken Republican critics at Tuesday's hearing.

THE CBS REPORT THAT HELPED 'SILENT SPRING' BE HEARD [SOURCE: Washington Post, AUTHOR: Linton Weeks]

Before global warming was hot and Al Gore was cool, there was Rachel Carson, the maverick marine biologist from Silver Spring (MD) who sounded an environmental-awareness alarm. Her 1962 manifesto "Silent Spring" -- in which she envisioned a planet imperiled by pesticides -- is still taught in schools and universities around the world. This week, there will be a screening of a 1963 "CBS Reports" episode, "The Silent Spring of Rachel Carson." With the underlying reportage of Eric Sevareid's investigative team, the TV report validates Carson's findings. The film has pretty much been locked away in the network's vaults since it originally aired. The CBS news show "brought the message of 'Silent Spring' to many people who maybe hadn't read the book," says Diana Post, executive director of the Rachel Carson Council.

TVs OUTNUMBER PEOPLE IN US HOMES [SOURCE: TV Week, AUTHOR: Michele Greppi]

According to data released Monday by Nielsen Media Research, the average television home in the United States houses slightly more TV sets (2.8) than people (2.5). And there are now there are 111.4 million TV homes in the U.S.

SALES OF MUSIC, LONG IN DECLINE, PLUNGE SHARPLY [SOURCE: Wall Street Journal, AUTHOR: Ethan Smith]

In a dramatic acceleration of the seven-year sales decline that has battered the music industry, compact-disc sales for the first three months of this year plunged 20% from a year earlier, the latest sign of the seismic shift in the way consumers acquire music. The sharp slide in sales of CDs, which still account for more than 85% of music sold, has far eclipsed the growth in sales of digital downloads, which were supposed to have been the industry's salvation. The slide stems from the confluence of long-simmering factors that are now feeding off each other, including the demise of specialty music retailers like longtime music mecca Tower Records. About 800 music stores, including Tower's 89 locations, closed in 2006 alone.

From TomDispatch:

Whole forests have already been pulped so sportswriters can natter on about the "Cinderella upsets" of the NCAA's basketball extravaganza, March Madness. But here's a piece that's actually worth a few trees: Descend with TomDispatch Jock Culture Correspondent (and former New York Times sports columnist) Robert Lipsyte Into March Madness. Let him take you on one of his now-regular, every-two-monthly wild rides through another of the holy events of American sports. Here's how he begins "Hoopla 101":

This is the mud season of the sports calendar. While we await blessed baseball and its promise of renewal, here comes the National Collegiate Athletic Association Men's Division I Basketball Championship -- the Big Dance for sportswriters, the Bracket Racket for gamblers, a frat-rat party, a racist entertainment, and a subversion of higher education, perhaps democracy as well.

Calling it March Madness slaps lipstick on a pig.

But we'll call it March Madness, too and get down in the mud.

Vivid, sardonic, and a tale-teller of the first order, Lipsyte takes you with him to The Big Dance. ("Coaches looked for jobs; university presidents trolled for sportswriters who looked for drinks...") From betting pools to those million-dollar sneakers, he explores the world of grown-ups -- "College basketball coaches tend to be big guys with the confident patter of televangelists" -- of the corporate carnival and the education scams, as well as "the jock-sniffing professors who travel with the teams, drink with the coaches, sit and cheer in VIP seats in their free caps and jerseys in return for keeping the boys eligible as long as they are needed."

You meet the young Lew Alcindor, before he became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Bobby Knight in his prime, not to speak of Lipsyte's own "designated devil," the man who makes the shoe deals with the coaches, and the reformers who think education has something to do with college basketball.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Joe Melton
Hometown: Indianapolis

Hi Eric,

I just wanted to let you know how many people I know are disgusted by Joe Klein's latest article. "The Republican faithful are left with a devil of a choice: moderate candidates who live like liberals, or religious conservatives who talk like liberals." My jaw dropped open as I was reading the article and my wife asked what was wrong. I read it to her, then picked up the phone and cancelled my Time subscription. I'm the 11th person I know to do so over this article. We've all witnessed them slide down the slippery slope of intellectual dishonesty for a number of years. They just went over the cliff.

Name: Edward Furey
Hometown: New York

Longstanding data from the Census show that divorce rates are lowest in the bluest of the blue states, the New England and Middle Atlantic states, and highest in the Red Mountain states and the South.

As a general rule, the bigger the margin for Clinton, Gore and Kerry, the smaller the divorce rate. The converse is not quite true, because a few of the mountain states were a little closer than the Deep South, but the correlation is pretty strong.

The reason is probably the curious fact, contradicted by polling (which may be suspect for that reason) that the more Catholic the state, the safer it is for the Democrats. Of the states with the largest share of Catholic voters, for example, Gore carried 14 of 16. And since one of those was Florida, which the best evidence shows he actually did carry, that's 15 out of 16. The holdout was Texas. Catholics are still a bit more disinclined to divorce than everyone else.

Name: Steve Stein
Hometown: Acton

You write:

[Hitchens]: The Security Council, including Syria, voted by nine votes to zero that Iraq must come into full compliance or face serious consequences.

[Alterman]: Yes, well, all of the above is true of Israel, vis-à-vis the U.N.

When was Israel ever the subject of such a "face serious consequences" unanimous Security Council resolution?

Eric replies: Fair point. Not all Security Council resolutions are the same, and the devil's in the details. Thanks for the correction.

Name: El Cid
Hometown: Atlanta

A central, and simple, principle of morality is that the standards you endorse not only apply to others, but to yourself. This is true whether you are good or bad, or others are good or bad. That's why they're called standards.

I am glad that no other nation attacked or invaded the U.S. when our Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr. were actively supporting a genocide in Guatemala, subsequently so named in a U.N.-sponsored "Truth Commission" after the peace agreements.

The CIA -- run by the Executive Branch and not a "rogue" operation -- was found to be "materially" responsible in aiding and abetting the Guatemalan army's genocide against its hill-dwelling Mayan residents.

Where were the other countries charged with protecting human rights? Where were the U.N. Security Council resolutions setting up 'no-fly-zones' preventing the U.S. from arming and re-supplying its genocidal allies?

But enough of fantasy, this is all about power: the political leadership of the U.S. does what it can get away with for whatever reasons it likes and then concocts a political justification around it.

Name: Steven Portela
Hometown: Fresno, CA

I could go on and on about how sad it has been to watch Hitchens, who I had admired as an intellectual even when I disagreed with him, deteriorate like an Alzheimer's case. But when I read that intellectually dishonest Slate column, what came to mind was the Sorites paradox, wherein one attempts to define a heap or pile of sand. For instance, a large group of grains of sand is a pile of sand. Take away one grain and you still have a pile. When do you stop? When is the pile no longer a pile? At 1 grain? 10? Hitchens has arranged several grains of debatable "truth" and claims it as a pile. Well, it's a pile of something ... but I never would have believed Hitchens would subscribe to such nonsense. "Yes, the war is a catastrophe, but look at the pile of facts -- they justify it all!" The best part was when he claimed that the Bush Administration never claimed Iraq was involved in 9/11. Riiiiight.

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