There are some things you can't cover up with lipstick and powder ...


I'm with Mr. Unpronounceable.... There is literally nothing at all admirable about George W. Bush and Scott Pelley's stupid questions and they are undeserving of serious response. What an embarrassment to CBS News this should be. Perhaps they should save themselves $70 million, apologize, and bring back Dan Rather to do these interviews.

Nixon's sorta with Ahmadinejad too. At least insofar as it relates to Jews.

But anyway, relating to the free speech aspects of this issue in 2005 -- after several colleges and universities withdrew valid invitations to speakers during the 2004 election cycle -- the American Association of University Professors published the following statement on the subject. Methinks it makes sense regardless of whether the speaker is Hitler or Gandhi. Its key points were as follows:

  • Many colleges and universities permit student and faculty groups to issue their own invitations to outside speakers. That practice is an important part of academic freedom and institutions should respect it.
  • When an authorized faculty or student group invites an outside speaker, this does not mean the institution approves or disapproves of the speaker or what the speaker says, has said, or will say.
  • Colleges are free to announce that they do not officially endorse a speaker or the views a speaker expresses, but they should not cancel a speech because people on campus or in the community either disagree with its content or disapprove of the speaker.
  • Institutions should ensure that all legitimately invited speakers can express their views and that open discussion can take place.
  • Only in extreme and extraordinary cases may invitations be canceled out of concern for safety.

For more information, the full statement, Academic Freedom and Outside Speakers, is available on the AAUP website here.

Eric Boehlert noticed the following in TV Week:

Mr. Koppel also explained why the White House has not let him have a one-on-one interview with Mr. Bush at any time since Mr. Bush has been president.

When Mr. Bush was running for president, Mr. Koppel asked then Governor Bush what qualified him to be president. Mr. Bush cited his experience as governor of Texas, his experience running the Texas Rangers baseball team, as well as the fact that he was a loving husband and father.

Mr. Koppel replied that those qualifications would seem to be good qualifications if one were running for president of the Kiwanis Club, but not for president of the United States. Ever since then it's been the big freeze for Mr. Koppel from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

The tidbit is interesting both because Koppel was obviously correct since the rest of the media played Bush's Pavlovian game -- as did Ralph Nader -- and also because it demonstrates what a classy bunch the Bush team have always been and remain today.

I did not get a chance to plug the PBS program Lumo last week, but I think we need to pay more attention to violence against women in all of its manifestations -- including in our own movie and television industries -- and this was a particularly harrowing depiction of the way it works in the Congo. The New York Times described it thusly, here:

"Lumo" tells the story of ... the hospital stay of a young woman, Lumo Sinai, brutally raped by a group of soldiers in her village near the Rwandan border. Her attackers took her family's livestock and burned her house down. She was left with a fistula, a condition that rendered her incontinent and would impair her ability to bear children. Ms. Sinai was then placed in a Unicef hospital that specializes in treating injuries endured by the region's rape survivors.

There she goes through multiple surgeries in an effort to correct her injury but never seems to lose herself to her nightmare. Ms. Sinai has a broad, powerful face that dominates much of the film; it alternates between looks of resignation and optimism, but never despondence. It is easy to see why filmmakers might be captivated by her, and yet the approach is almost too subtle for a story whose gruesomeness seems so immeasurable and whose particulars are known by too few.

Over the summer a Turkish lawyer, Yakin Erturk, a special fact-finder for the United Nations Human Rights Council, toured parts of Congo to investigate and found that militias often force men, at gunpoint, to rape their own mothers, sisters or daughters. In some cases, Ms. Erturk reported, gangs hold women as slaves and force them to eat excrement or the flesh of their murdered relatives.

Pigs fly: Wow, this is weird. I pretty much agree with David Brooks about how and why Hillary is winning. Well, some if it anyway, Yglesias focuses on the glass-half-full part that, now that he mentions it, is totally wrong. And if I were the Edwards campaign, I'd find that last quote pretty scary, or at least demanding of an explanation.

Quotes in the News:

Rep. Rahm Emanuel talks sense: "[I]t's a bizarre thing that a president who believes in testing kids for math does not believe in testing kids for measles and mumps." Here.

My old friend Hitchens is insane, continued: "George Bush at his worst is preferable to Gerhard Schröder or Jacques Chirac. ... I remind you that Gore was once a stern advocate of the removal of Saddam Hussein, and that in office he might well not be the coward or apologist that the crowd is still hoping to nominate."

(An aside: You know, back in the day, more than 20 years ago, Christopher told me that Marty Peretz had tried to hire him before hiring Krauthammer when Hitchens took the Nation job instead. How ironic (and unpredictable) that politically speaking, anyway, he has become Krauthammer ...)

The Gift That Keeps on Giving: Speaking of my favorite blogger, the great thing about Marty is that he always manages to top himself. Here he complains of Upper West Side rabbis who don't hate Moslems enough for his taste. I see Matthew Duss has done the world a favor by compiling a number of the racist Peretz's morally indefensible attacks on Arabs and Moslems in one place, here. As a service to Altercation readers, we will henceforth print one a day until we run out of them, and thanks to Matthew (whom I do not know) for this important public service. Here's number one:

"Marty Peretz, 2/22/07: Arab society is, well -- how do I say this? -- hidebound and backward."


The Raspberries, Live on the Sunset Strip, by Sal:

The reunion of Cleveland's Raspberries' after more than 30 years was huge! Not just for me, but also for the many who knew that the band was more than just their slice of pop brilliance "Go All The Way." Releasing only 4 records in their too-short career, the Raspberries could rock the house like the Stones, break your heart with a ballad like Brian Wilson or Todd Rundgren, and even sneak in a very convincing Gram Parsons country romp just to show that they could.

I attended the show at NYC's B.B. King's, sat next to Jon Bon Jovi (who was less excited about seeing me than I was about seeing him) and was not disappointed. The band played every song you needed to hear, with the exception of "Starting Over," the killer ballad from the album of the same name, and a personal fave. Eric Carmen looked a bit fake, as if he fell asleep under a sun lamp and then had his hair done by Ann Miller's stylist (the actress from the '40s and '50s for all you youngsters out there). Wally Bryson, the other leader, chain-smoked and looked as if he hadn't seen the sunshine since I don't know when. The rest of the original band, Dave Smalley & Jim Bonfanti looked great and sounded just fine.

My only issue was the addition of 3-4 more musicians to "help out." One additional musician who can double on guitars and keys would have made sense to help augment the live sound. But this great rock 'n' roll band became twice its original size. The biggest problem was the female background singer. She sang well, but it changed the sound and that alone made me feel as if I really wasn't seeing the original band.

This is exactly what makes the CD/DVD document of the reunion, Raspberries: Live On The Sunset Strip, just fall short of perfect. The set list is almost identical to the NY show, which also included a few covers by The Beatles and The Who. But it plays so perfectly ... like one of those fake live albums from 60s where the studio guys added fake applause over studio recordings ... it makes me think, "Why bother?" Still, if you've never owned a record by the Raspberries, buying this new live document is not a mistake. It's good enough to understand just why Bruce Springsteen, who wrote the liner notes, says, "They never got the respect they deserve."

N'awlins Bound

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Peter Maust
Hometown: Patchogue, NY

Thomas Heiden probably has it about right on California's proposed initiative to award its electoral votes by Congressional district. However, I wouldn't wait around for courts to declare the measure unconstitutional. It seems to me that a campaign to defeat the initiative should go something like this: "California is the largest state in the country, yet this initiative will strip of it of all influence in electing the President and give greater power to (choose whatever right-wing states like Alabama and Mississippi that Californians dislike). Supporting the measure leaves California without a say in the only national election ... Complaints that I have seen in other places about the measure's "unfairness" and a Republican conspiracy to steal the election strike me as rather weak and whiny. Opponents of the measure should play to California pride in its status as the largest state and fear in being bullied by smaller, less worthy states. My two cents.

Name: Bill
Hometown: New York, NY

Giuliani was perceived in NYC throughout his tenure as insensitive (at best) on race and as a pol who went out of his way to antagonize blacks and Hispanics. Krugman in his column in today's NYT points out how critical anti-minority racial sentiment (especially in the South) is to GOP success since 1980, or maybe even 1968. Could Giuliani's apparent popularity be due to the perception among the part of the GOP base which is motivated by race that he is more sympathetic to them than the other GOP candidates?

Name: Ginger Mayerson
Hometown: Los Angeles

My family of origin used to watch the Johnny Cash Show for the same reason we watched Hee-Haw: my father was from Tennessee. I just looked at YouTube and EVERYONE, including 3/4 of the Monkees (Peter Tork had split by then), was on the Johnny Cash show. Someone once proposed that Johnny Cash was the father of pre-Clash punk rock. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but it's interesting to think about. "I shot a man in Reno/just to watch him die" could be a kind of punk anthem. Or something.

Name: George Klos
Hometown: Austin

Our local PBS station aired part of the Johnny Cash Show DVD during its recent pledge drive, and it is well worth it. The 1969-71 era was a time of great divisiveness in the US (still prevalent in today's conservative rhetoric). I was just 10-12 at the time and remember this divisiveness well within my own family and neighborhood (a working-class neighborhood of Chicago where most grownups thought the cops did a great job beating up those dirty protestors in '68).

What Johnny did with his show was entertain his country music audience with what they expected, but also introduced middle America to New artists who did not get regular TV gigs (Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, CCR, etc.) In that divisive time, he tried to use music to unite people, to show Americans not interested in new music that there were new artists worth a listen.

Two highlights I saw on the PBS broadcast: George Jones and Johnny vamping an impromptu "White Lightning," and Clapton (Derek and the Dominos) jamming with Johnny and Carl Perkins on "Matchbox." Also, there's a smokin' "Jackson" by Johnny and June.

Get this DVD. You're gonna love it.

Name: Steven Elworth
Hometown: Brooklyn

O.C, originally Ocie, Smith was a singer around since the mid 1950's who sang for count Basie in the early 60's and had his great, great success with two country covers, "Hickory Holler's Tramp" and "Little Green Apples," in which he soulified superior country pop and brought it to the top 40. "Hickory Holler's Tramp" was written by Dallas Frasier and the first hit earlier in '68. It ws an album track by the great Merle Haggard and covered in the 70's by Kenny Rogers. I agree that Smith's record is a superior recording of a great song that plays interestingly with sentimentality.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.