Janie's got a gun ...

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

This article makes such a crucial point I don't mind that the Times felt it necessary to put it on the front page yesterday and inside the paper today.

I don't for a moment question the integrity of these Second Amendment scholars. To the contrary I admire it. But two points need to be made. First off, it has little or no corollary on the right. You don't see right-wingers at AEI, Heritage, Hoover, etc., saying, "While politically I believe X, the actual results of my research demonstrate Y." And second is the "Even The New Republic" principle of life, stated here: " 'Contrarian positions get play,' Carl T. Bogus, a law professor at Roger Williams University, wrote in a 2000 study of Second Amendment scholarship. 'Liberal professors supporting gun control draw yawns.' "

Quote of the Day, Charlie Peters: "I'm very fond of Mike [Kinsley]. He's genuinely brilliant, but I think there has always been a tension between Mike and me, in that I sense he is embarrassed by passion. Mike's detachment has notably decreased since his marriage and the onset of Parkinson's, both of which had a pronounced humanizing effect, but his more sardonic imitators have become a major problem in journalism -- very bright people who seem too concerned with being bright. Mike is definitely not one of those guys."

So this is neoliberalism? To me it's just "contrarianism" gone crazy. Mickey thinks that the media and the right have been insufficiently McCarthyite about the preacher at Obama's church. He's got nothing on Obama per se; it's all smear-by-association, and yet Mickey thinks it important to encourage the media and the right to do more of it. Reels the mind ...

HBO-Neocon Conspiracy?

I never liked Carmela Soprano, not even for a minute; never felt any sympathy for her. I liked that Jewish shrink who told her, "It's blood money. Get out." Anyway, did you notice what she was reading in bed the other night?

Now I like her even less ...

The New York Times published a correction when Patti Cohen termed the American Jewish Committee a conservative organization, but what is one to say about this?

Even though Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is facing scrutiny from Democrats, union leaders and human rights advocates over his government's record, a prominent Jewish organization was set to honor him this week.

The American Jewish Committee was slated to present Uribe with a "Light Unto the Nations Award" on Thursday night at its annual meeting in Washington. A statement released by the AJCommittee in advance of the dinner said the honor reflected the Colombian leader's "relentless pursuit of peace, security and prosperity."

The fete shone as a rare bright-spot this week for Uribe, who is one of the Bush administration's leading friends in Latin America but has found himself battered by criticism over his allies' alleged ties to right-wing death squads responsible for assassinating union leaders. Last month, former vice president Al Gore snubbed the Colombian president by refusing to appear with him at a forum in Miami. The day before, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the subcommittee overseeing foreign funds, froze $55 million in military aid to Colombia over the paramilitary scandal.

Avi Lyon, executive director of the Jewish Labor Committee, criticized the AJCommittee's decision to honor Uribe, a sentiment he said was shared by several top American union leaders.

"For the American Jewish Committee not to recognize and understand what has gone on in Colombia is, in many respects, rather astounding," Lyon told the Forward. "Politics makes strange bedfellows ... but Colombia is a country that happens to have the unfortunate distinction of being the most dangerous place to be a trade unionist in the world. Under the circumstances, one wonders if there was a better way for American Jewish Committee to recognize President Uribe."

[...]

While Uribe has strong backing from the Bush administration, Democratic leaders have been wary of his human rights record and of a free-trade deal approved by the White House last November. The Colombian leader's visit to Washington this week was aimed at securing some the $600 million in annual aid for military and anti-drug operations and at salvaging the trade agreement. Democrats were expected to press Uribe to spend more money on social programs and to crack down further on right-wing gangs. The party is expected to push for changes in the Bush-negotiated trade agreement, such as the inclusion of enforceable labor standards.

And also, David Ellenson notes, here: "Several weeks ago, the former Israeli chief Sephardic rabbi, Mordecai Eliyahu, charged that the Holocaust was divine punishment meted out against our people on account of the sin of Reform Judaism. Such an accusation is infuriating, and unleashes unnecessary hatred and incitement among Jews."

From TomDispatch:

Oil has played a remarkably small part in the mainstream's consideration of, coverage of, or first looks back upon the invasion, occupation, and war in Iraq. To give but a single example, the index to Thomas E. Ricks' almost 500-page bestseller, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, has but a single relevant entry: "Oil exports and postwar reconstruction, Wolfowitz on, 98." Yet today, every leading politician of either party is strangely convinced that the key "benchmark" the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki must pass to prove its mettle is the onerous oil law, now stalled in Parliament, that has been forced upon it by the Bush administration.

Now, sociologist Michael Schwartz follows the telltale oil slicks deep into the Gulf of Catastrophe in Iraq. He offers a sweeping view of the actual role oil, that prize of prizes in Iraq, has played in Bush administration considerations and makes sense for all of us of what role the new oil law is likely to play in that country's future. From Cheney's mysterious Energy Task Force of 2001 through the Bush administration's decision to guard only the Oil Ministry on taking Baghdad, Schwartz shows how top U.S. officials melded economic and military policy into a single fatal brew, driven by dreams of controlling Iraq's fabulous potential oil wealth. He also explores the speed with which the occupation authorities attempted to transfer management of existing Iraqi oil facilities to multinational corporations, while creating an oil-policy framework, unique in the region, that would allow the major companies to develop the country's proven reserves and even to begin drilling new wells.

Then came that oil law and the rise of resistance across every sector of Iraqi society to the potential loss of control over its oil reserves. Schwartz concludes: "Like so many American initiatives in Iraq, the oil law, even if passed, might never be worth more than the paper it will be printed on. The likelihood that any future Iraqi government which takes on a nationalist mantel will consider such an agreement in any way binding is nil. One day in perhaps the not so distant future, that 'law,' even if briefly the law of the land, is likely to find itself in the dustbin of history, along with Saddam's various oil deals -- and the Bush administration's 'capture of new and existing oil and gas fields' is likely to end as a predictable fiasco."

Alter-reviews:

My favorite rendering anywhere of orthodox blues on DVD are the three DVDs of the "American Folk Blues Festival" series. Now there's another one, this one from a series of British tours, from 1963-1965, just as the kids over there were discovering the old guys via the Stones, the Who, the Yardbirds, and the like. The new CD has 18 complete performances from some of the most iconic blues artists of all time including Sonny Boy Williamson, Lightnin' Hopkins, Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Lonnie Johnson, Big Joe Williams, Howlin' Wolf, Big Joe Turner, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Backing musicians include Otis Spann, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, Willie Dixon, Hubert Sumlin, Sunnyland Slim, Clifton James, Bill Stepney, Otis Rush, Little Brother Montgomery, Jack Myers, Fred Below, and Cousin Joe Pleasant. It comes with extensive notes by U.K. author and music historian Mike Rowe.

I also think everybody with halfway decent musical taste ought to pick up a copy of the new two-CD collection on Rhino of Big Joe Turner called Definitive Blues. That is unless you have the three-CD out-of-print collection that came out like, 10 years ago and from which this is drawn. Turner holds a decent claim to being one of the half-dozen people who invented rock 'n' roll, and unlike some of the other claimants, his music sounds just as fresh and fun today. "Honey Hush," is one of my favorite songs evah. ("Turn off the water works baby, they don't move me no more.") "Corrine Corrina" is also hard to beat. Also of interest to many will be the Ruth Brown, "Definitive Soul." To me it's not in league with Big Joe, but that's probably just a matter of taste. This collection's got "Teardrops From My Eyes," "5-10-15 Hours," "Oh What A Dream," "(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean," and "Mambo Baby." And hey, thanks to Ahmet Ertegun for all this and so much more.

No mail today; none of it made the cut, alas.

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