Slacker Friday

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

I've got a new Think Again column, "The Role of Public Opinion in Iraq and Vietnam," here, and a new Nation column, "Can We Talk? (cont'd)," which is about (again) not being able to talk about the Middle East. Oh, and I did this short post for the Guardian, "Report from Planet Republican."

And here is Eric R. on what kind of special relationship we might want with post-Blair Britain.

Onto Slacker Friday:

Name: Charles Pierce

Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc --

"He's got diplomatic immunity/He's got a lethal weapon nobody sees."

This Week's WWOZ Pick To Click: J. Monque-D's "Rice and Gravy Fever." It may have slipped my mind to remind you how much I love New Orleans.

OK, I'm convinced.

Impeach him. Impeach them all. Start chucking people into the hoosegow for contempt, and as material witnesses. Stuff this White House so full of subpeonas that it bursts. Blow this government apart.

I held off on this because I thought the process was both legally unjustifiable and politically futile. I believe it is still the latter. The difference is I don't care any more that it is. The Comey testimony -- coupled with the astonishing arrogance it takes simply to ignore congressional subpoenas as though they were something someone slipped under your windshield wiper -- pushed me all the way over the edge. The president spied on Americans and thereby broke the law. Repeatedly. The president was told he was breaking the law by members of the Department of Justice who had no reason to lie to him on the subject. (John Ashcroft noticed, for pity's sake.) The president knew he was breaking the law so he sent the White House chief of staff and the White House counsel out to behave like Mr. Wolf in Pulp Fiction. (Sorry, Andy Card. I liked you when we were both young and ambitious in Massachusetts, but it's off to Allenwood for a spell until you come clean.) The clean-up crew failed, and he kept breaking the law anyway. Repeatedly. They spied on their political opponents. They used their steroidal view of executive powers to justify it in their tiny little minds. That's what they're hiding. I have no doubts any more that the administration has committed more crimes than we know. And every day they remain unpunished -- hell, every day they remain in office -- we become more deeply complicit in their offenses. It's time to govern ourselves again.

This can't be a matter of political calculation any more. It simply can't. It's a fundamental question of what kind of government we want to have. Yet nobody of any clout in the Democratic Party wants any part of it. (They're too busy pulling their own teeth on lobbying reform and triangulating their way across the Sunni Triangle. Nice vote Wednesday, d**k-for-brains.) And the Republicans -- as demonstrated by the performance of the Ten Little Idiots trying to out-butch each other the other night -- are utterly hopeless. Look, Brainiacs, when John McCain tells you that torture doesn't work, take his bloody word for it, OK? Move along.

Name: Martin Donnelly-Heg
Hometown: Albany, NY

The tone of your comments re the conflicts in the occupied territories becomes increasingly reminiscent of AIPAC with each posting ... How dare the Arab media elevate Israeli violence over inter-palestinian violence! The nerve! Especially when Israel is responsible for the open-air prison (i.e. Gaza) that spawned the violence.

I have long since given up hope for a response to my queries re your slur against the work ethic of Arabs, or factual support for your broad claim that the pre-invasion Iraqi educational system was a "fraud."

As you blast the likes of Joe Klein for failing to withstand the harsh light of factual criticism, the notable absence of critical reponses on your blog is telling ... A little less hypocrisy please!

Eric replies: Look at the crap with which I have to deal, people ...

Name: S.D. Miller
Hometown: Norwich, Vermont

Professor,

Rich Gallagher's link to the New Zealand cartoon of Falwell being cast into hell was great. It brings to mind a great line from the Spanish film "The Grandfather": When asked if his wife was still alive, the timid old tutor answers, "Hell reclaimed her a year and a half ago."

I think that pretty well sums up my (and many others') feelings about Mr. Falwell.

Name: Tim Schroeder
Hometown: Mansfield, CT

Since everyone is taking shots at Jerry Falwell, I'd like my turn too. The thing that most bothered me about him was his refusal to consider that something he did could be wrong. This is absolutely contrary to my 12 years of Catholic school education, where I was forced to constantly analyze everything I did and, of course, feel guilty about it. While I have grown into an adult with an unnecessary amount of guilt for things that I have no responsibility or control, I consider this preferable. The selling point of Falwell's religion seems to be that if you do exactly what he says, then you never have to analyze your actions to feel bad about anything. While popular, this is shallow and meaningless because there is no way to grow from it.

Name: Carl
Hometown: Paris, France

Dear Eric, it is always a pleasure to read LTC Bateman's unique insights. However the Haditha episode seems to have had a negative effect on his normally impressive critical thinking. He writes: "Haditha, or more accurately the trials of the Marine officers up the chain from the events in Haditha, is something that you will not see anywhere else." Surely he doesn't believe that the US is the only country with a functioning judiciary whose military is capable of such crimes and cover-ups?

Name: Darren Franzen
Hometown: Arlington Heights, Illinois

Today more soldiers will move down Corridor Three at the Pentagon.

It would be wonderful if more people knew about this. It would be phenomenal if the entire nation knew about this. And it would be optimal if the entire world knew about this.

I wonder if that would bring us a step closer to peace?

Thanks, LTC Bateman, for your service.

Altercators, how about this ... stand up at 1030 EST and send some peace towards the Pentagon.

Thanks Dr. A! And thanks again, LTC!

Name: Thomas Heiden
Hometown: Stratford, CT

Eric,

I am pleased at the title and substance (at least as far as the excerpt I read) of Al Gore's new book, "The Assault on Reason."

It seems to me we humans have three basic mental functions or capacities: emotion, faith, and reason. We seem to use each of them, together or individually, in our decision-making. Therein lies the problem, at least in terms of politics.

Deciding from emotion is the functioning of a child -- hence a basic tool of propaganda is to attempt emotional manipulation, which will in turn translate to emotional decisions. Since we try to teach youngsters NOT to decide things this way, we know how unlikely it is to produce happy results.

Deciding from faith is simply something the founders knew would take us to the sort of place that Baghdad or Tehran is today.

Reason is our only hope for successful collective political decision-making. Not because we always reach the same conclusion utilizing this faculty, but because it carries the least passion -- probably because we agree on the definitions and process in advance.

This administration, and particularly its allies on the religious right, has tried to diminish the role of facts, science, logic, and reason at every possible turn. The results speak for themselves. No one seems to be able to point out to religious conservatives that the government doesn't pray to find out how to solve a problem, nor does it sit in terror or rage and imagine a solution -- it gathers data, analyzes it, proposes a solution, and monitors the success or lack thereof of what was tried.

Reason is the way the founders proceeded, as anyone will discover who will give The Federalist, or the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, five minutes of reading!

Name: Rick Kane
Hometown: Locust Grove, Virginia

With the netroot controversy that is going on about the deal on the Panama and Peru Trade Pacts (not "free trade" treaties), I wanted to alert my fellow Altercators about a new article on economics, politics and trade policy by the most excellent Dean Baker in "Truthout" (see here). No subject gets poorer coverage by the major media than these trade deals, what they do, and why certain interests lobby for them so intensely. Instead we get simple-minded articles about "free trade" (good, rational, and progressive) versus "protectionist" (bad, special interest, union, and reactionary). I have mixed thoughts about the subject as I do accept the general principle that liberal trade will make all economies more efficient, create greater economic growth, and will lift (and has lifted) the living standards of billions of people around the world. But as Mr. Baker points out in his articles, books, and blog, we don't now have true, liberal trade, but a kind of crony capitalism that shifts all the burdens of trade onto the less wealthy 90% of the population, but lets most of the awards go to the top 10% (if not really 1%). Reading Dean Baker and his colleagues at CEPR has helped me understand the issue.

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