(Untitled)*

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

I've got a new "Think Again" column, here, called "The Powerlessness of Positive Thinking," about the neocon attempt to sell the success of the "surge,"and a new Nation column, called "The Real Fake News," about the Democrats and Fox News.

I see from Newsweek that Imus "once called Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz, a regular on the show, a 'boner-nosed, beanie-wearing Jew boy.' Kurtz considered it part of the game. 'I wasn't thrilled, but I just shrugged it off as Imus's insult shtik,' says Kurtz, who has said that Imus helped make one of his books a best seller." Here.

That's one brave media critic, huh? How's he doin' covering CNN for The Washington Post and The Washington Post for CNN?

See this?

A Question For Rudy Giuliani

From Eric Alterman's book What Liberal Media:

On [the December 23, 2001, edition of] "Meet the Press," Tim Russert inquired of first lady Laura Bush whether she thought her husband had become president due to divine intervention. To her everlasting credit, Laura Bush declined to credit the Almighty with inspiring the likes of Katherine Harris's and Antonin Scalia's anti-democratic escapades. But Russert persisted, and his other guests, Rudy Giuliani and Theodore Cardinal McCarrick of the Archdiocese of Washington, took the bait. The former mayor responded, "I do think, Mrs. Bush, that there was some divine guidance in the president being elected."

I hope at some point during the 2008 campaign, someone will ask Giuliani: "Given that you believe George Bush became president due to divine intervention, can we also assume you believe God hates America?"

Beyond that, I've always enjoyed the idea that while God did have the power to make Bush president in 2000, He didn't have the power to get Bush the most votes."

Here.

This reminded the estimable Brian Morton of the time that, "after Gary Carter hit a seeing-eye dribbler to drive in the winning run in a playoff game against Houston in '86, he gave Jesus the credit in a postgame interview, and I remember thinking, 'Your savior couldn't have given you a line drive?' "

This just in: World hates us, we hate ourselves:

A multinational poll finds that publics around the world reject the idea that the United States should continue to play the role of preeminent world leader. Most publics say the United States plays the role of world policeman more than it should and cannot be trusted to act responsibly.

[...]

Americans largely agree with the rest of the world: most do not think the United States should remain the world's preeminent leader and prefer that it play a more cooperative role. They also believe the United States plays the role of world policeman more than it should.

That's here.

This also just in:

A major new study by the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda (ICMPA) analyzing how 13 major U.S. newspapers covered the nation of Pakistan -- first in the year following 9-11 and then five years later, in 2006 -- has just been released this morning.

Two key findings, according to the study:

  • News coverage of Pakistan reinforced President Bush's message that global terrorism is monolithic.
  • News coverage identified Pakistani women as the "good" Muslims -- the "peacemakers" who could be the solution to terrorism at the family, tribal and national level.

The 43-page report, The "Good" Muslims: U.S. Newspaper Coverage of Pakistan is available for download as a PDF on the ICMPA website, here.

And:

In The Washington Monthly, an essay by T.A. Frank notes that nearly everyone powerful in town is married to someone else powerful in town. Though most Washington insiders know of these relationships, Frank argues, many ordinary Americans don't, but deserve to. That's here. And an accompanying chart highlights 60 of the city's top power couples, here.

From TomDispatch:

Tom Engelhardt has probably followed the Bush administration's war of words and imagery in Iraq more closely than anyone on the planet. Recently he's noticed a change, not otherwise noted. The administration's familiar war vocabulary and imagery of the last four years is missing in action. All those "turned corners," "tipping points," and "turning points," those "milestones" on the way to "victory," and so on, have finally disappeared down the memory hole. "Victory," a word our president once used 15 times in a single speech, has largely gone over to the enemy, to Al Qaeda (thanks, in administration lingo, to the proclivities of retreat-prone Democrats).

In fact, with rare exceptions, the language of Bush's Washington (and Baghdad) over the last four years has been swept clean of the past -- and, on the tabula rasa of no-image, in place of everything that once was there, a new set of words and images is being implanted. Consciously or not, these mine a deep strain in our national mythology: the belief in an all-American right to a second chance, to light out for the territories and start anew. And these new war words and images go, obviously, with the President's "new plan" to surge in Baghdad and al-Anbar Province.

Over four years after George W. Bush officially launched the invasion of Iraq with a Disneyesque shock-and-awe spectacular over Baghdad, all is again "new" in that country. Engelhardt has followed this language of newness, of "beginnings," of "early" moments, and of the "first" cautious signs of "progress" -- with examples galore. All of this, I think, adds up to a time-buying operation for the administration.

Engelhardt concludes that the new, hopeful language of the Bush administration "offers one group -- and only one -- a 'second' chance: the top officials of an administration that otherwise looked to be in its last throes. It has bought a little time for George Bush, while adding some new twisted definitions to an American Devil's Dictionary of War in Iraq, all the while carefully leaving blank pages where significant definitional chunks of reality should be."

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Kurt Andersen
Hometown: Brooklyn

Hiya, Eric. I don't understand why you think the piece I published last year and the one I published this week are contradictory, or what you found "inuspportable" about the first one. In the first one I was simply saying that global warming had become a motherhood/apple-pie issue for liberals because it feels morally clear & easy (unlike Israel-Palestine), certainly not that climate change isn't a genuine problem.

Eric replies: Hello, Kurt. Leaving aside the part where I would defend myself -- I think it's a good thing, even in the Internet-age, to wait four days before coming to a conclusion about something like a war that needs time to unfold and explain itself -- the part I felt was unsupportable was this: "Yet the truth about greenhouse gases, although plenty scary, is really not so inconvenient: The blame for inaction is easy to lay on others, a solution seems possible, and that solution doesn't look that onerous." In fact, I think the solution would require this country to undertake changes in our collective lifestyle that, were it not for the exception of World War II, would be entirely unprecedented. I see no evidence whatever that our political system -- which asked for and received no sacrifices whatever from the general population in the wake of the trauma of 9-11 -- is likely to produce these changes merely because they are the right thing to do. And if this were not enough, we'd still have to get China, Russia, and India on board. Again, it's beyond my imagination how this would be done. At the very least, it appears awfully "onerous" to me.

Name: Ian
Hometown: Los Angeles

Always good to hear from Colonel Bateman. My own view is that the lesson the military learned from Vietnam was not that politicians get you embroiled in no-win conflicts that grind up the men but that the media lost the war for the military. Truth is apparently the enemy.

Name: Sal

Hometown: NYCD

Steven says he has seen Elvis Costello over a dozen times. To the average person, this is an amazing feat. I saw Elvis Costello 9 times in 1986 alone. Since 1977, I have seen Elvis Costello close to 100 times. Solo shows. Every night of his Broadway run. With the Mingus Big Band, and Allen Toussaint, and Burt Bacharach, in Memphis for the filming of that recent DVD. (OK, enuff -- this really doesn't make me look good.) Point is, I love the guy. He can mostly do no wrong. But, seeing him so many nights in a row, during the same tour, you learn something. He can be a bit of a stiff. His "off the cuff" comments and "ad libs" are exactly the same every night. And sometimes his choices of cover versions, while admirable, are way out of his range. This problem was prevalent on the could-have-been-brilliant Bacharach collaboration, both in the studio and live. Mr. Costello often bites off more than he can chew. He often strains and it makes me uncomfortable.

I wasn't saying Costello would NOT have been fine on his own. I was saying that, thanks to the grace of Miss Cash, Elvis' particular performance at the Rubin seemed to glide as opposed to rattle. He didn't try to steal the show. His understated harmonies and vocals, specifically on the Bee Gees cover, underscored the performance, whereas at his own show, he "may" have attacked it, just as I said he "may" have "clunked" through it.

Name: John S
Hometown: Bronxville, NY

Regarding Siva's comments on Elvis C and racism. Costello said those horrible things in private to purposely anger the Stephen Stills band (and he was very drunk) in a hotel bar in Columbus Ohio. It was a remark made to people sitting around a bar stool, not on the public airwaves. Stills' bandmemeber Bonnie Bramlett, after punching Costello (he had it coming), went public with the Costello remark, as well as the whole altercation. That is not the same as consistently spouting racism on the public airwaves on a daily basis. Context is everything.

Name: Dave Richie
Hometown: Birmingham, Al.

Dr. A,

Charles is to be thanked for reminding us about the unconscionable slaughter of native Americans. Wounded Knee is but one example.

There are other incidents outside of our outrageous treatment of some of my distant native ancestors. I am reminded of the firing upon veterans demonstrating for benefits after WWI. I am sorry to say that I do not know if this is just in the American lore or if people actually died. Please refresh an old man's lazy memory.

Then of course there is Chickamauga, Antietam, etc. etc. Of course these folks were shooting at one another. A far cry from the horror at Blacksburg.

Just some thoughts.

Name: Phoenix Woman
Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota

The Roberts-Scalia Supreme Court just ruled 5-4 to ban the only truly safe late-term abortion procedure, despite pleas from the medical community and the precedents set by past USSC rulings.

Bush got to install Roberts and Alito, who voted with the majority. Nobody that Gore or Kerry would have picked would have done this.

Name: B. Lewis
Hometown: Cincinnati, OH

Thought you might get a chuckle out of this:

Is this is a metaphor for something?

Congressional oversight committees and reporters covering the U.S. attorneys firing scandal waited with bated breath Thursday night for yet another huge document drop revealing more details in the Bush administration's plan to fire eight U.S. attorneys.

They waited, and waited. But the documents weren't delivered to the House and Senate Judiciary committees until this morning because -- no joke -- the Justice Department's copy machine broke.

As if the broken copier weren't enough, something even worse happened: the DOJ's computer server went down this morning just as agency officials were trying to email around 2,000 pages worth of documents to Capitol Hill.

But wait, that's not all! After the server went down, the car transporting hard copies of the documents to the Hill got a flat tire.

Or at least that's the dog-ate-my-homework excuse the Justice Department provided to the committees, according to Judiciary committee aides who asked to remain anonymous.

Name: Ed Tracey
Hometown: Lebanon, New Hampshire

There may be no higher-profile supporter of the New York Yankees than Rudy Giuliani. However, Little League officials have discovered a 1954 photo of a (then ten-year-old) Giuliani wearing the uniform of......err......ummm.....well, let's say, "a different ballclub" (scroll down on the right-hand-side of this link).

Then again, as a league official notes, this actually may be advantageous: "He needs votes in Massachusetts, now."

Name: Thomas Heiden
Hometown: Stratford, CT

Eric,

It is almost painful to disagree with someone whose posts have been powerful and insightful. If I thought readers had interest, I would go on at more length about the promise of individual sovereignty made in the Declaration (what else would "created equal" mean if not that?). The Declaration of Independence, particularly the preamble, should always be the starting point in these matters, because our Constitution is merely the blueprint intended to best deliver its promises.

If the government cannot assure that no one will come after me (aside from law enforcement) with a gun, I must be allowed to have one myself. The government cannot be everywhere and in all places to protect us, so if any of our rights are to mean anything, it seems to me that we must be allowed this means of protecting ourselves.

I hate guns and have never owned one, but I do not think all the arguments over the Second Amendment have anything to do with an individual's right to own one. It is a matter of securing one of the most basic rights - survival.

Further, as it was repeatedly stressed, by those who knew the document best, that any powers not specifically given to the federal government in our Constitution were denied to it, a federal law banning the individual right to own a firearm would be of the most questionable legality.

We pay many horrific prices for being free, and it is sad beyond description when tragedies like this happen, but there are, again, many ways in which it is true that "freedom is not free." There is much to be done in trying to reduce the level of violence in this nation, but banning guns will neither ever work nor probably ever be constitutional.

Name: Jeffrey Hines
Hometown: Dallas

How about "Liberal is not a 4 letter word"?

Eric replies: Nope.

Name: Michael Rapoport
Hometown:

Eric:

How about "Liberal and Proud"? Or "The Liberal Majority," or "The Liberal Future" -- both of which play off the idea you've periodically noted that a majority of the populace hold positions traditionally considered to be "liberal"?

If the choice is between the two titles you cited, I would go with "Liberal Without Apologies," though I think the problem with that one is that it sort of implicitly grants that liberals may have something to apologize for. I don't think that's the case, and I suspect you don't either.

Just my two cents.

Eric replies: Nope, nope, nope.

Name: Rob Stafford
Hometown: San Diego

Eric --

A few stabs at a title, primarily for my own edification & also as an excuse to say that LTC Bob rocked (as he often does -- thanks Bob -- I'm 40 too)!

"...I am a Democrat" (w/ a picture of Roy Rogers)

"How To Talk To A Conservative (If You Must)"

"Everything I Ever Really Needed To Know I Learned In Graduate School & From Decades of Bitter Experience"

"Liberals Aren't Perfect, But We Are Capable Of Complicated Reasoning"

Eric replies: Yeah, that'll sell. (And thanks for the implicit Ann Coulter comparison, bub.)

Name: Dan Garfinkel
Hometown: Pittsburgh

"The L Word"? "Liberal is not a four-letter word"? Or maybe "We are all Liberals."

Eric replies: Nope, nope.

* (Like the Byrds album)

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