Slacker Friday

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

But first:

I've got a new Think Again column, "Another Unnecessary War? Another Media Misstep?" here, and a new Nation column, "The Post-Imus Conundrum," here.

Rudy on ferrets.

Even crazier than Mandela on Oprah: Doug "the fu**ing stupidest guy on the face of the earth" Feith on George Tenet. (Expect this kind of thing all over the paper if Rupert gets his mitts on it.)

From our sponsors:

Blitzer did not challenge Snow's false claim that Bush "never argued" that Saddam was involved in 9-11

On the May 1 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer did not challenge White House press secretary Tony Snow's claim that President Bush "never argued" that "somehow Saddam [Hussein] was involved in September 11th," nor his assertion that "[w]e've never made that argument." Blitzer also did not challenge Snow's suggestion that Al Qaeda had a "relationship" with Saddam and that the fact that "Abu Musab Al Zarqawi [was] on Iraqi soil" was evidence of such a connection. Yet as Media Matters for America has repeatedly noted (here, here, here, and here), President Bush and other administration officials have frequently claimed a connection between Saddam and the September 11, 2001, attacks, including the specific assertion of such a link in a letter to Congress at the start of the war. Moreover, neither the 9-11 Commission, the Senate Intelligence Committee, nor, more recently, a report from the Inspector General of the Defense Department found any evidence that Saddam ever had an "operational relationship" or cooperated with either Al Qaeda or Zarqawi.

CNN host channeled Beck on global warming: "[T]he cause and how we can help is something that is up for debate"

On the May 3 edition of CNN's American Morning, during a discussion about CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck's May 2 hour-long special, "Exposed: The Climate of Fear," co-host Kiran Chetry stated that there is "no denying" global warming is happening, but added, "I think the cause and how we can help is something that is up for debate." In fact, as Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented, scientific organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) share the consensus view that, as stated in a June 2006 NAS report, "[H]uman activities are responsible for much of the [planet's] recent warming."

Beck's global warming special dominated by industry-funded "experts," serial misinformers

CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck's May 2 hour-long special, Exposed: The Climate of Fear, purported to present the "other side of the climate debate that you don't hear anywhere." Introducing the show, Beck stated: "I want you to know right up front, this is not a balanced look at global warming." Indeed, Beck relied heavily on people with energy industry ties and others espousing positions on global warming that have been soundly debunked or rejected by the overwhelming majority of scientists studying climate change.

From TomDispatch:

Right now, the aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz, and its battle group are steaming toward the Persian Gulf. On arrival, it will be the third carrier battle group in the region, a staggering display of naval power off the Iranian coast and as striking a case of "gunboat diplomacy" as we will have seen in our time. Yet, since the Nimitz left its home port, San Diego, our media seems to have more or less forgotten about it along with all those ships gathering in the Gulf -- focusing instead on the question of whether our Secretary of State will or will not exchange a few words with Iranian diplomats if, as the President put it recently, she happens to "bump into" them at a conference on Iraq this week.

TomDispatch thought the Nimitz should not be so easily forgotten and so asked our resident expert, Michael Klare, to give us an update on the situation. He points out that not everyone is so quick to ignore such demonstrations: "Rest assured, unlike us, the Iranians have noticed. After all, with the arrival of the Nimitz battle group, the Bush administration will be -- for an unknown period of time -- in an optimal position to strike Iran with a punishing array of bombs and missiles should the President decide to carry out his oft-repeated threat to eliminate Iran's nuclear program through military action. 'All options,' as the administration loves to say, remain ominously 'on the table.' "

Slacker Friday:

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc --

"People around every corner, they seem to smile and say/"We don't care what your name is, boy. We'll never turn you away."

Once, when I was in college, we all drove up to Madison at the beginning of winter and, fortified by the Spirit and by peppermint schnapps, we stood on the shores of Lake Monona and played "Live In Europe" on a car's tape deck in a vain attempt to make the spirit of Otis Redding rise from the depths in which he had perished in 1967. That's what I thought about watching the Ten Little Idiots last night as they stood in the Basilica Of St. Dutch and tried to make the lost spirit of Ronnie burst forth from their foreheads. Say what you will about Reagan -- Let me know when you're done. OK? Good. We continue. -- but he was never as gloomy as John McCain, as transparently phony as Mitt Romney, as feral as Rudy Giuliani, as earnest as Mike Huckabee, as pious as Sam Brownback, as futile as Tommy Thompson, as Out There as Ron Paul, or as monomaniacal as Tom Tancredo. Put all of these guys together on a stage and they don't add up to Jack Kemp, for pity's sake, let alone the Gipper. Was there a legitimate smile among them all night? Did any one of them grin a grin that didn't look like it was purchased, wholesale, at someone's garage sale? (Let's not even get into the fact that this bunch was whiter than the '47 Yankees.)

This is a field with the gallows in its eyes. They all know full well that, for six full years, they had the chance that Reagan never really had. They controlled all three branches of the government, and they cowed the elite press far more thoroughly than did Mike Deaver and that bunch. And now they realize to whom they handed the keys of the kingdom, and they're all standing there surrounded by bills that are coming due almost by the day. "Movement conservatism" -- which takes Reagan as a secular icon even though he largely saved it from many of its own excesses -- is an empty shell. It always was a bunch of resentments pretending to be an ideology, and it always contained within itself the poisons that would leach out and kill it. (McCain, poor lost soul, saw this more clearly than anyone in 2000.) It ran the country for six years and it stuck us in a war than none of these 10 men could find it in himself -- no Herselves this time around -- to simply denounce. Ten experienced politicians, and not one of them save Ron Paul could align himself with two-thirds of the country. It lost a great American city through criminal neglect. It cored the economy. It bulled its way into a private family medical decision in Florida and turned it into an international embarrassment. It did more damage to the Constitution than we know, and it hung Donald Segretti's picture in the Department of Justice. Where was the one of these guys calling out all this wreckage and stupidity? Not piecemeal, but systematically. Calling for a completely new direction in his party? They can't do it. None of them can. It probably wouldn't even matter at this point. They're all fighting over the tiller of a plague ship at this point. (Which, and I'm guessing here now, is probably why Chuck Hagel, Fred Thompson, and Newt Gingrich have been so coy about running. As soon as you announce, somebody asks you about the Avignon Presidency, and all the air goes out of the room.) No wonder these guys were so glum. A couple more minutes, and I expected Matthews to start handing out blindfolds.

Name: J DAlessandro
Hometown: Crestwood, NY

I'm starting to suffer from Foreign Democracy Envy. First Turkey turns out millions of protesters into the streets to agitate in favor of secularism, and against fundamentalism. Then Israel comes out with a study sharply critical of the politicians who took them to war, and even of the military which fought it.

Now we have the French, holding a 2 3/4 hour debate between its candidates, and although my French is shaky at best, it seems that they allowed an actual back and forth between the candidates, like in a real, you know, debate? Instead, we'll get a bunch of one-hour shows next year featuring the likes of Brian Williams and Katie Couric acting grown up, while the candidates give a stilted joint press conference of slogans and talking points. Enough is enough. The blogs both left and right should start pressuring the networks and league of women voters right now, and demand that they give us a real debate instead of these dog-and-pony shows.

Name: Paul Lukasiak
Hometown: Phila, PA

Eric:

As much as I respect and value your opinion, I have to say that I'm disappointed that you (and Matt Yglesias) allowed yourselves to be used by TNR as the "official response" to the Chait article on the netroots. Both you and Matt are part of the "wonky liberal blogosphere," and were not the subject of Chait's risible attacks on the "netroots" and people like Markos, Duncan Black, Chris Bowers, Jane Hamsher, etc.

It was clear that Chait's article was an attempt to marginalize the netroots -- and by not insisting that those whom Chait attacked be allowed to respond with you, you inadvertently aided and abetted Chait and TNR in their mission.

Name: Mark Oldham
Hometown: Rolla, MO

Eric ...

With the exception of "name calling," the list of seven propaganda devices referred to by IU in their study of Bill O'Reilly is ironically also the same list of techniques used throughout the advertising industry to persuade people to buy products. I still remember being taught these persuasion techniques in high school in the early '60s. It's still "selling" in the final analysis, whether it's soap or lies.

Name: Jesse Zander Corum
Hometown: Portland, OR

I'm 50 pages into "The Yiddish Policeman's Union" and it's a little wooden so far, setting up a lot of backstory, but also very interesting and well written in sort of a Hammett/Chandler hard-boiled detective genre. As for the Post's charge of anti-Semitism, I read that it was based on the repeated use, by characters and the narrator, of the word "yid" to apply to any and all Jews in town. While the Post critic was correct in identifying "yid" as a religious/racial slur, they fail to see it in context. Not only does it fit within the film noirish genre of the book, it makes sense given the huge concentration of people who are not only Jewish, but are also Yiddish speakers. It's bizarre, but this is actually that "political correctness run amok" that conservatives imagine around every corner. On the other hand, it's also a case of the Post going for cheap sensationalism instead of a halfway intelligent thought.

Name: Tahoe Rick
Hometown: Reno, NV

I received a mailing this week from my Republican congressman asking constituents to return an attached postcard, checking off "what issues are most important to you." The twelve multiple-choice options are: Hold the Line on Government Spending, Embrace Federal Funding for Stem Cell Research, Social Security/Medicare, Veteran Benefits, Illegal Immigration, Health Care, Crime/Meth, Education, Homeland Security/Defense, Traffic/Transportation, Protecting Public Lands, and "Other," with a space for a write-in "concern." Hey, Congressman, how about a four-letter word that starts with an "I" and ends with a "Q?" I'll even buy you a vowel.

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