Slacker Friday

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

God, what a bunch of whiners.

Who is this masked man, Matthew Duss?

Have you been checking out the Media Matters website? We're Stalin. Congratulations to us ...

Marty Peretz Quote of the Day:

Marty Peretz, 10/02/06:

Khalidi is still making the case that there was no real war between the Zionists and the Arabs--and that this is a myth created by the victors to obfuscate and disguise their overwhelming force. Actually, 6,000 Jews were killed in the War of Independence. This was fully 1 percent of the Jewish population of Palestine at the time. Were they fighting phantoms? Or were the Jews a real functioning nation and the Palestinians (like many of their Arab cousins) still mired in more backward social formations, of which the brutal internecine warfare among the populations in Gaza and the West Bank remain devastating exemplars?

There is something pathetic in Khalidi's blaming the Jews for the absence of a reliable record of Palestinian Arab history. My God, the Jews kept records and made archives of their very extermination by the Nazis. These serious and definitive collections dot the world: Jerusalem, New York, Warsaw, Germany, and on and on. "There is no central depository of Palestinian records," whines Khalidi, and this has prevented a real national myth from having been written. Mind you, what he wants is not true history--as far as truth is determinable in complex circumstances--but what he calls official history. "The production of a standard 'official' Palestinian narrative was never really possible." Now, Khalidi himself has written such a volume--not "the" narrative but a part of the "official" narrative. It is Under Siege: PLO Decision-making in the 1982 War. Is it to be trusted? If this is Khalidi's ambition and intent, one cannot know.

If Khalidi wants a state he'd do better to try to grasp their instinct for fratricide than blame the Israelis for having "carried off" Arab archival materials to which, in any case, scholars have free and unfettered access. There is no sin here about which the Jews need atone.

Posted by M. Duss

Reader Suggestion Quote of the Day:

Name: Tim
Hometown:

Following in the spirit of Michael Kropp's letter...This offering from Mick and Keith:

"Raise your glass to the hard working people
Lets drink to the uncounted heads
Lets think of the wavering millions
Who need leaders but get gamblers instead"

From TomDispatch:

"It's time to save the military from itself. I say this as a retired Air Force officer who served for twenty years..." So begins Lt. Col. William Astore, who, with Iraq on his mind, gives a Clauswitzian twist to the lyrics of Kenny Roger's hit song, "The Gambler": "You've got to know when to hold 'em. Know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away. Know when to run."

A former teacher at the Air Force Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School, and Dean of Students at the Defense Language Institute, Astore, a historian, considers the ways in which the military is a "funhouse reflection of ourselves" on issues ranging from grade (think: medal and ribbon -- "Many medals shout 'been there,' rather than 'done that' ") inflation and self-congratulation verging on self-delusion.

"How," he writes, "can you win someone else's civil war? In Iraq, our military faces a classic Kobayashi Maru -- a no-win situation. In the Star Trek movie, The Wrath of Khan, Admiral Kirk recounts how he triumphed over his own Kobayashi Maru -- by cheating. ... The U.S. military seems to think it can do the same. Its version of reprogramming is 'metrics': Show enough colored charts with seemingly hard-and-fast numbers and you can claim, if not victory, at least progress of a sort."

As it happens, Iraq is not Hollywood. You can't reprogram the computer. Instead, Astore calls on Congress -- since the President won't act -- to save the U.S. military from itself, lest we "be left with hollowed -- instead of hallowed -- legions."

Alter-reviews:

When I went to see Lucinda Williams play (and celebrate) her brilliant, eponymous album of 1988, I wasn't quite sure what I was expecting, but I know it wasn't what I got ... which was amazing. If you don't have that album, you should get it right away. Released on the tiny Rough Trade label -- Lucinda was too country for rock and too rock for country -- Lucinda Williams is maybe the best debut album of the past 20 years and the best perhaps since Patti Smith's Horses. Lucinda played five nights in New York and L.A., picking one of her albums each night to play in its entirety. Lucinda's much more into both perfection and sincerity than "professionalism," and so there were more stops and starts and strange emotional vibes than I've ever seen at any other show, and the crowd did its best to help her through the rough spots, as did guitarist Jim Lauderdale, who had helped to inspire the album, according to the many stories Lucinda told, and was there last night to lend her support. It was both weird and great.

While the first set was a country/Americana set, the second was almost a punk set. It featured, among other guests, believe it or not, David Byrne doing Talking Heads material and David Johansen doing New York Dolls material and both of them doing Lucinda Williams material and the band cooking like nobody's business.

A few years ago I was asked to blurb a biography of Steve Earle, and I said something to the effect that like Lucinda Williams and John Fogerty, Steve writes songs that sound like they've been part of the American canon for over a hundred years. Amazingly, I've been able to see all three perform in the past 10 days. And next week, Bruce is back with his freshest-sounding songs since The River. I live in a great city in a great country. And we will survive Bush and Cheney, dammit.

Slacker Friday:

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc --

"Ripped off and run out of town/Had my guitar burned when I was clownin' "

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click -- "Still Unruly On The Plantation" (Marty Most): Once again, I failed to hang a sign in giant pink flashing neon on the walls of Angkor Wat telling the world how much I love New Orleans.

I now can tell you from personal experience that musk ox stew is a tasty treat, and that life near the Arctic Circle in Alaska is very strange when it's 40 degrees at the beginning of October, and the Chukchi Sea is gobbling up the landscape because the permafrost is a not as frosty -- and considerably less perma -- than it used to be. I conclude from all of this that Al Gore is, well, fat.

I've always thought that one of the most underrated elements of the public pox that is Rush Limbaugh is the man's unalloyed, abject personal cowardice. There are the screened phone calls. There was that time when Nightline wanted him to appear on a panel and he insisted on appearing from his studio, surrounded by his books, rather than sit next to James Carville, who undoubtedly would have stared at him as though Rush were made of etouffee. There was the night in 1990 on which he (literally) nearly was booed off the stage while guest-hosting Pat Sajak's doomed talk venture. (Reports of the evening had Rush sweating like Victoria Falls when some people started yelling at him from the audience.) There was the cheap shot at then-teenaged Chelsea Clinton, which he sniggered at and then blamed on his tech staff. There was the part about Vince Foster's dying in a D.C. love nest rented by Hillary Clinton, which he subsequently sniveled around by claiming he was just passing on a rumor, rendering unto his broadcast empire the approximate credibility of an open sewer in Bangladesh. There was the endless mewling when ESPN canned him. There was sending the maid out to score his dope. There was his leaping into the embrace of the ACLU and the criminal-defense bar when he got busted. In fact, his entire career has been an unremitting drone about what people are doing what nasty things to poor widdle him, the most recent big bully being David Brock, who is committing the unpardonable crime of attempting to hold Limbaugh responsible for the gutless, unmanly way he does his business. We are hearing all the usual alibis -- "Out of context!" -- rather than a stalwart defense of what he actually said. We are fed doctored tapes and expurgated transcripts through his pals salted throughout the media. The whole business has prompted me to dust off one of my previously abandoned get-rich-quick schemes. (I have several. Would you like to buy an electric fork?) I propose to make myself the Bob Arum of the political debate circuit. I will reach out to my nearly endless list of wealthy friends and sponsor a debate in the parking lot of Caesar's Palace between Rush Limbaugh and someone on the other side of an important public issue. Rush v. Wesley Clark on Iraq, say. Or Rush vs. Al Gore. We can have Limbaugh-Brock I. I will moderate. The proceeds will go 50-50 to charities designated by the two principals. (We can even have Sean Hannity on as an undercard bout against Keith Olbermann.) No call screeners. No callers at all. Just two people and their ideas and their expertise, one on one. Any network exec who wants in on this project can get in touch with me through this website, and I will tell you exactly where to throw your money. Anyway, whaddya say, big fella? Bring it out of the studio and let's get it on. Unfortunately, I will have to insist on drug screening. Nevada regulations, you understand.

P.S. -- The little bit from Matthew Dowd in this surprisingly tough AP piece is priceless. Congress "at times" was run by the president's party? At times? How about for six of the eight years of his presidency, during which time the majority abandoned its oversight responsibility, abandoned its constitutional prerogatives, and totally abandoned us to the depredations of a ruthlessly criminal Executive. Sorry, Matthew. That mark on your thumb? It ain't coming off any time soon.

P.P.S. -- And, from the man who once opined that shooting a crony in the face would mellow out Dick Cheney, comes this pile of unredeemable drivel. Work your own side of the street, foof.

P.P.P.S. -- Nice to see the NRCC standing up for gutless and unmanly backshooters here. But it's time to ask, once again, who in the hell these powerful liberals are who are so hellbent on bringing back The Fairness Doctrine? Harry Reid's already said it's off the table. I know Dennis Kucinich and Bobby Kennedy have talked about it, but they both have approximately the same chance of ever being in a position actually to do it. Just another thing for gutless aging punks to be a'skeered of, I guess.

Name: Wade Bartlett
Hometown: Monrovia, California

Since SCHIP is socialized medicine, I expect that any day now Bush will dismantle the prescription drug benefit that he passed to much fanfare awhile back. And the entire Medicare program after that. Which will be great, because I have no doubt that the free market is anxiously waiting to serve all those people who need quality medical care but can't afford it. Then we will all be healthy, and our national character will not have been corrupted by the evils of socialism.

Name: Gregor Crockett
Hometown: Inverness

Dear Dr Alterman:

I think that one of Marty Peretz's greatest moments (rarely commented on) was when he launched a campaign against Richard Marius for criticising Israel. Marius was Al Gore's chief speech-writer as well as being a superb novelist and rich prose stylist.

Admittedly, Marius did make a stupid comment on Israel using Gestapo policies, but it is generally acknowledged that Marty was after his job (and being one of the world's worst writers, I don't think that he could get it any other way).

It would almost make you want to vote for Ralph Nader.

Name: Pat
Hometown: Newark, NJ

Barb G from Albany (via Brooklyn) proposes October 2 as National Comedy Day, selecting that date because it is Groucho Marx's birthday. It's also the birthday of Gandhi. Coincidence? I think not.

Name: Joseph Kishman
Hometown: Philadelphia

If anyone's keeping score, I'd just like to register my agreement with Tara from Boston, regarding links opening in new windows.

Name: DMC
Hometown: Firefox

Install Firefox, hold down CTRL and click at all of the links. Then, after finishing Eric's (always interesting) blog, go to the tabs that contain the links you want to see. Sheesh!

Name: David
Hometown: Brooklyn

Wow, three days of responses to my throwaway insult of pathetic Mets fans. Dare I dare dream you make it a whole week of vitriol? If only the Mets had showed this much tenacity.

Eric replies: Remember, friends, what Mr. Mill said ...

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