I am not all that necessary today, but here goes.
First off, there's a new "Think Again" column called "Rejected Reruns from the FCC" here, and hey, check out the terrific Tom Tomorrow cover of Why We're Liberals at www.ericalterman.com. (If you click on the cover, you can buy it pretty cheap at Amazon. I've not seen it listed at BN.com or Powell's but will add those links when they appear.)
One reason I am unnecessary today is that, well, why waste time reading me when you can read my colleague Paul Waldman on Tim Russert, here. He writes:
It substitutes the personal anecdote for the policy position, the sound-bite for the substantive answer. It distills the debate into a series of allegedly symbolic, supposedly meaningful moments that can be replayed.
This type of debate question is not about what the candidate believes and would actually do in office, but about how clever the moderator is for cornering the candidate. And above all, it takes a genuinely relevant matter (a candidate's view of the universe) and crams it through a channel by which the thoughtful candidate will be pilloried and the shallow, pandering, overly rehearsed candidate will garner praise.
I have a fantasy that at one of these moments, a candidate will say, "You know what, Tim, I'm not going to answer that question. This is serious business. And you, sir, are a disgrace. You have in front of you a group of accomplished, talented leaders, one of whom will in all likelihood be the next president of the United States. You can ask them whatever you want. And you choose to engage in this ridiculous gotcha game, thinking up inane questions you hope will trick us into saying something controversial or stupid. Your fondest hope is that the answer to your question will destroy someone's campaign. You're not a journalist, you're the worst kind of hack, someone whose efforts not only don't contribute to a better informed electorate, they make everyone dumber. So no, I'm not going to stand here and try to come up with the most politically safe Bible verse to cite. Is that the best you can do?"
A guy can dream, though. One thing Paul gets absolutely wrong, however, is the following: "Russert may be the only journalist in America who considers all his conversations with government officials off the record unless they request otherwise -- an extraordinary gift to the powerful and an inversion of ordinary journalistic practice -- but that doesn't make him an insider. Because he's from Buffalo." In fact, my experience is that this is, sadly, the norm, though this is true in part because the likes of Russert set the terms. I had a good friend who worked for a variety of congressmen for decades, and he told me that the journalists to whom he spoke would actually feel insulted if he insisted that anything be "on background." Of course everything was on background. They knew what their role was and didn't want to be reminded of it. None of them would have thought of treating a source the way that people actually imagine that sources are treated (and that we teach the students who want to be journalists in J-school).
I have to say, I like absolutely nothing about David Broder circa 2007. But way back when, when he was a decent and honorable journalist, the guy did walk out of an interview with Henry Kissinger because Kissinger refused to allow his questions to be on the record. Those were the days.
By the way, I am while I am being made unnecessary by Mr. Waldman today, I am often made unnecessary by the terrific weekly "Media Matters" column by Jamison Foser, so bookmark that even if you don't bookmark me.
I've never met Matthew Duss, but read the two Tapped items below, and see if I'd have reason to exist today even without Messrs. Waldman and Foser: (By the way, I've never met this Kirchick fellow either; I'm not even sure he's not an actual Peretz sock puppet, Lee Siegel-style. But assuming he does, I'm appreciative of the fact that he's here. I feel like God, in his infinite wisdom, has given the world a controlled experiment in who Marty Peretz would be if he hadn't divorced his first wealthy wife, married a second, and far wealthier wife, whose family funds allowed him to buy America's most important liberal magazine and proceed to destroy much (but not all) of its values with the myriad manifestations of his own personal neuroses. What's more, Peretz has been afraid to respond to a single one of the arguments I've made about the destructive role he's played regarding both American liberalism and American Judaism over the past two decades. But Kirchick likes to work in a cheap shot whenever he can -- usually pairing me with young Yglesias. So let's all watch the apprecticeship of James Kirchick with interest as to the ways of the not-so-liberal world.)
Meanwhile ... lifted from Tapped:
Marty Peretz, continuing to rise below even my worst estimation:
"Archbishop Desmond Tutu preached in Boston on Saturday "in a lengthy and emotional address to a packed Old South Church," according to Sunday's Globe. And what did he preach about? The same topic he's always preaching about these days: the evil the Jews are inflicting on the Palestinians. You wonder why a South African cleric of the Anglican Church is fixated on Israel, or at least I wonder. It could be for the same reason that many Christian clerics have always found reason to damn the Jews.
With his characteristic sneer he actually threatened Israel -- and not just the State but the whole People. 'Remembering what happened to you in Egypt and much more recently in Germany -- remember and act accordingly.'"
This is, quite simply, libelous. I was present at Old South Church on Saturday, and without getting too deep into some of the issues I'm hoping to deal with in an upcoming article relating to the event, I'll just say that the idea that Desmond Tutu, one of the great moral tutors of our age, a man who has dedicated himself to non-violence and reconciliation, at real and repeated risk to his own life, would "threaten" Israel with violence (From the pulpit of a church! With a characteristic sneer!) simply beggars the imagination. More to the point: It didn't happen.
Here is the text of Tutu's address. There is simply no way that any reasonable person could interpret his words as anything other than what he intended: A call for people of all faiths, including Jews (whom he refers to as "my spiritual relatives"), to be true to what Tutu believes is Judaism's prophetic and ethical heritage, which Tutu also explicitly claims as his own heritage, and support the end of Israel's brutal and illegal military occupation of the Palestinian territories.
For this, Marty Peretz implies that Tutu is a Jew-hater, and shamefully (if Peretz had any) attempts to tie him to the blood-libels of European anti-Semitism. What a strange moral universe Peretz has created for himself. It's reprehensible that he seems to throw accusations like this around with about as much thought as he gives to breathing.
"Duss's and Klein's criticism consists mostly of ad hominem attacks and a defense of Tutu based primarily, if not entirely, on the fact that he's...well...Desmond Tutu."
No: Marty Peretz claimed that Desmond Tutu, in a speech last Saturday, "actually threatened Israel -- and not just the State but the whole People." I responded that this was not true, that it was not a remotely defensible interpretation of anything Tutu said, and linked to Tutu's remarks (PDF) as proof. If calling Marty Peretz a a liar and a defamer because he lied about and defamed Desmond Tutu qualifies as "an ad hominem attack," well, then you can bill me.
As for my defense of "Tutu for being Tutu," I suggested neither that he was perfect, nor above reproach. I merely meant (and, frankly, I think this was clear) that the man's career-long commitment to non-violence and reconciliation might serve as something of a rebuttal to the idea that he might suddenly transform into a snarling, violence-threatening anti-Semite one fall afternoon in Boston. That is, I think Desmond Tutu has earned the benefit of the doubt. Conversely, Marty Peretz, who screams "Israel-basher!" every time someone cuts him off in traffic, has not, in my view.
Finally, Kirchick asserts that Tutu "unwittingly slanders the history of the anti-apartheid movement... by comparing it to Palestinian nationalism." While I realize that Kirchick's generally dim view of Arabs and Palestinians prohibits him from understanding Palestinian nationalism as anything other than an expression of Jew-hatred, and while I think it's adorably precocious of him to attempt to instruct Desmond Tutu as to "the history of the anti-apartheid movement," I feel I'm on safe ground here deferring to Tutu on whether or not the comparison is an appropriate one.
I have also never met Scott Lemieux. But could I have done better than "The Madness of MoDo"? I very much doubt it. Also lifted from Tapped:
Molly Ivors does a good job with the latest bit of vacuous misogyny from Maureen Dowd, whose presence on a major op-ed page remains and will always be an absolute disgrace. A couple more points are worth emphasizing. First, none of this has the slightest shred of substantive significance; the idea (also now being propounded by Slate) that pop-psych anecdotes about people's marriages tell us anything interesting about a presidential candidate's performance is nothing but a cover for journalists who prefer lazy gossip to actually doing their jobs. The second is that Dowd, as always, doesn't seem to understand feminism. Not only is feminism (to use Jessica Valenti's line) not Maureen Dowd's dating service, most intelligent feminists understand that feminism does not provide any single answer to the question "what should you do if your husband gets a blowjob from somebody else?" Some feminists are in open marriages. Some forgive adultery as anybody in a long-term relationship has to forgive some mistakes. Some will find it intolerable and leave. Feminism is a way of evaluating a relationship, not (leaving aside violence, etc.) a set of one-size-fits-all answers about how to deal with every situation. And finally, it should be obvious (and this is the biggest reason why such analysis is so useless) that Clinton would have been condemned no matter what she did. If she had left her husband, she would be a cold man-hating shrew with no respect for the institution of marriage; since she stayed with her husband, she's somehow an ambitious schemer who is betraying feminism (which is not betrayed, apparently, by sexist smears on her candidacy in the New York Times.) She can't win.
There is one value to Dowd's column: it reminds us of the amount of sexism Clinton is going to be subject to in the general. If Clinton runs against Giuliani, you can bet the ranch that to Dowd, Matthews, Russert et al. the adultery of Clinton's husband will be a bigger issue than the actual adultery (and callous humiliation of his wife and children, etc.) of the Republican candidate.
A relevant aside: Just what the hell does MoDo know about what it's like to be married?
Meanwhile, Robin Wright of the Post came up with this: From the Desk of Donald Rumsfeld, here, and they provide an extremely useful window into the mind of the Bush administration as well as (this is gonna hurt) Midge Decter's sexual fantasy life.
"...our publics risk falling prey to the argument that all is lost. ... Talk about Somalia, the Philippines, etc. Make the American people realize they are surrounded in the world by violent extremists. ... It is going to be a long war. Iraq is only one battleground. ... Iran is the concern of the American people, and if we fail in Iraq, it will advantage Iran. ... Too often Muslims are against physical labor, so they bring in Koreans and Pakistanis while their young people remain unemployed. ..."
Photograph: The Very Best of Ringo Starr
Ringo, the "fun one," has put out a decent amount of solo efforts since his time with The Beatles, from "Sentimental Journey" to "Goodnight Vienna," and all of them have decent songs, though only Ringo reached transcendence and, together with All Things Must Pass, is the best post-Beatles Beatles album (which is not to say it's "better" than Band on the Run or Plastic Ono Band, though it may be. It's just more Beatles-esque. Anyway, EMI re-released all of the albums digitally, along with a new career and label-spanning collection, "Photograph." A bunch of them are great, and you can go to EMI's website for more information.
Stephen Stills -- Just Roll Tape
This is really something: In between Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & Nash when Steven Stills was in the studio with then-girlfriend Judy Collins, he grabbed an acoustic guitar and instructed an engineer to "just roll tape," giving the guy $600 if I remember correctly, to pay for the session. This album, of that name, was finally released by Eyewall/Rhino this year. On the album are many first versions of hits he would later record solo, with CSN, CSNY, and Manassas. They are not necessarily "better" than the final versions, but Stills, though no Neil Young, is really a talent for his times. For more information, go here.
Genesis -- Turn It on Again (Tour Edition) This album, released as the band heads out on a reunion world tour, has 34 tracks spanning Genesis' different transformations. Most of the tracks feature the trio of Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, and Tony Banks -- who are performing together on the tour -- but Peter Gabriel also makes an appearance on seven tracks of early classics. It was released by Rhino/Atlantic, and more information can be found here. In truth, I am not a big Genesis man, but Sal is, so that says something about them.
Mick Jagger -- The Very Best of the Very Best of Mick Jagger is the first overview of his solo career. Tracks range from the early R&B track "Memo From Turner," and run all the way to 2004's "Old Habits Die Hard," which won a Golden Globe for best original song in a movie (Alfie). In between is three decades of music, mostly from four solo albums: She's the Boss (1985), Primitive Cool (1987), Wandering Spirit (1993), and Goddess in the Doorway (2001). Guests include Lenny Kravitz and Bono. There is more information available on the album, released by Rhino/Atlantic Records, here. This album is actually really good. Some of Jagger's albums are OK; some are not. Put together just the good stuff and you get something really good ... but not great.
For great, you have to go to Aretha Franklin's Rare & Unreleased Recordings From the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul. There is plenty of Aretha out there, but it turns out there wasn't nearly enough. This two-disc set from Rhino Records contains 35 tracks worth of unreleased demos, outtakes and B-sides from Aretha Franklin's 13 years at Atlantic Records. Released by Jerry Wexler, who is audible on some of the takes, the album contains demos for "Dr. Feelgood" and "I Never Loved a Man (Like I Love You). It also has a rare duet with Ray Charles, last heard on the 1973 CBS special Duke Ellington: We Love You Madly. Rhino's page for the record can be found here. You can trust me on this one, even if you thought you had all the good stuff already. Also just out from Arista is Jewels in the Crown: Duets With the Queen of Soul. You know the drill: Instead of Frank or Tony or Jerry Lee we get Aretha; instead of Bono and k.d. lang we get Whitney Houston ("It Isn't, It Wasn't, It Ain't Never Gonna Be"), John Legend ("What Y'All Came to Do"), Luther Vandross ("Doctor's Orders"), Annie Lennox ("Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves"), Keith Richards ("Jumping Jack Flash"), Elton John ("Through the Storm"), Frank Sinatra ("What Now My Love"), George Michael ("I Knew You Were Waiting"), Michael McDonald ("Ever Changing Times"), George Benson ("Love All the Hurt Away"), and good friend Mary J. Blige ("Don't Waste My Time"). Aretha and Mary J. also join on a second tune, "Never Gonna Break My Faith" (with the Harlem Boys Choir). Rounding out the collection are two thrilling performances, both tributes to Aretha on her classics, "A Natural Woman (You Make Me Feel Like)" with Bonnie Raitt and Gloria Estefan; and "Chain of Fools" with Mariah Carey. It's a mixed bag, naturally, but a lot of it really is just fine ...
Good morning Eric,
Saw your Altercation item and wanted to let you know that the Fox item was incorrect. We've also let them know but it doesn't appear that they've had a chance to retract their item just yet. Please see below the item that's been posted on Clear Channel's Know the Facts page.
MYTH: Clear Channel Radio directed its stations not to play music from Bruce Springsteen's Magic CD.
FACT: Although Clear Channel owns only 8% of the radio stations in the U.S., in the first days after the CD's release, airplay of music from the disc on Clear Channel Radio stations represented a full 21% of the total radio airplay in the U.S., including airplay from satellite radio. That's according to airplay stats from Mediabase. Further, Clear Channel Radio stations played music from the CD more than twice as much as the nearest radio broadcaster, which came in at less than 10% of total U.S. airplay.
Also, here's the link to the Know the Facts page in case you'd like to refer to it in the future. And please feel free to reach out if you ever have a question on things Clear Channel.
With Kind Regards,
Eric writes: My apologies to Clear Channel and to my readers for relying on the accuracy of Fox News; won't happen again.
"Crash Dive"'s Ben Carter wasn't the only black actor who fought in a unit of "representative American types" in a WWII movie. Kenneth Spencer, fresh from his film debut in "Cabin in the Sky," served alongside Thomas Mitchell (at 51, a bit old for "Corporal Jake Feingold"), Desi Arnaz ("Felix Salazar"), and various others in the doomed patrol led by Robert Taylor in "Bataan" (1943, like "Crash Dive").