Slacker Friday

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Police State Checklist: Lawless Intelligence Agency, Accountable Only to Supreme Leader, Tortures Individuals, Destroys Evidence, Faces No Sanction? Check.

Do any of the stories about Dow Jones CEO Richard Zannino's short tenture there mention his roughly $20 million payout for setting its flagship newspaper on a path to self-destruction? Not that I noticed ...

Alternative Universe Quote of the Day: What if Marty Peretz had been born a Muslim?

Marty Peretz, 9/29/06:

Now you have a new paradigm in many Western countries. Jewish immigrants arrive--some because they are needed to make up population deficits among the indigenous people caused by "planned parenthood;" some because they want to abandon the stifling controls of the Judaismic world. In the end, they add to the numbers of unemployed, causing an enormous drain on the social budget and exacerbating the strains on strapped societies. In the end, too, they don't want to abandon the suppressive habits of their old homes. They desire instead to have these quaint and lovable customs--like arranged marriages, suppressed women, disdain for the other--survive and flourish. They certainly don't intend to adapt to the habits of the West, in which offense to religions-Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Jewish--is just another aspect of the First Amendment that also guarantees freedom to these faiths.

Posted by M. Duss

Alter-reviews:

The Joshua Tree - Remastered/Expanded Super Deluxe CD/DVD Edition

This supremely packaged edition of U2's The Joshua Tree, from Island Records, has three parts -- the remastered Joshua Tree CD, a bonus CD of B-sides and rarities, and a DVD of a concert performance in Paris. It's presented along in stunning packaging, along with a 56-page hardcover book with previously unseen Anton Corbijn photos, handwritten liner notes by Bono and others. It's beautiful piece of packaging and a pretty solid reason to buy the thing again, assuming you're among the 20 million or so people who bought it.* More here.

*Remember to take all Alterman-related Bono criticism extra seriously as the author is, with Eve Rose Alterman, the author of the brand new Encylopaedia Britannica entry entilted "Bono."

Capitol/EMI Holiday Titles

Capitol Records is out with a deluge of holiday hits from a pretty wide range of artists, from Ella Fitzgerald to Kenny Rogers. Ella's collection, containing tracks like "O Holy Night" and "We Three Kings," was originally released in 1967 but has been digitally remastered and has new cover art. They are all a mater of taste, but none of them suck or are insultingly packaged or anything. My favorites are the Merle Haggard compilation and the Rat Pack compilation, but you can skip Sammy and Dean-O and just get Frank's classic, re-released as well. Of course there's Ella, too, which has gotta put you in a good mood, and a Country Christmas CD, including Rogers, Alison Krauss, Trace Adkins, and others, compiled together for the first time, which is less to your author's taste. Yesterday I got a Raul Malo Christmas CD in the mail, but after one listening, I was kinda sad about it. I hope to change my mind. Have I mentioned how much fun I think the Chipmunks Christmas CD is? Well, OK, if you have kids, otherwise, maybe not so much. Anyway, there's lots more info here.

Slacker Friday:

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc -

"Rosemary on the gallows, she didn't even blink/The hangin' judge was sober. He hadn't had a drink."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Santa And His Reindeer Used To Live Right Here" (Benny Grunch And The Bunch) -- Once again, it has slipped my mind to organize the lights in Rockefeller Center in such a way as to spell out how much I love New Orleans.

The funniest man on the intertubes has a new home. Congratulations to everyone doing the Hamsher Dance down by the 'Lake on the best acquisition of the off-season, at least until Johan Santana comes to his senses -- Hi, Siv! -- and heads for Fenway.

(Alternate Bad Pun -- It seems like the redoubtable Mr. Bogg has won himself the new Hamsher primary. Thank you. No, really, you're too kind.)

Props where they belong: on Wednesday night, Fox News -- and Shep Smith -- were ID'ing the Omaha mall shooter at the same time that CNN had Lou Dobbs bloviating about criminal Mexican drug lords and MSNBC was hip-deep in Chris Matthews's now-nightly Hillary Clinton drool-o-rama. (Jeebus Christmas, Matthews. Just boil the woman's bunny and get it over with.) The Most Trusted Name In News added to its miserable performance by a) referring on a chyron to "Obama, Nebraska" and b) letting Dobbs and Kelli Arena bring up an old and vague -- but very politically useful -- FBI warning about boogedy-boogedy terrorists in our malls this holiday season. (This, it should again be noted, is the kind of idiot speculation that FNC's swift identification of the shooter as another sad and twisted local loner cut mercifully short.) Arena wondered gravely about why none of us have to pass through magnetometers every time Banana Republic has a sale. Neither one of them talked about a country so awash in firearms that even Rudy Giuliani used to notice how bad things were.

Hey, Mitt. They think your religion is a cult and they think you're pretty much a foof. They're always going to think that, even when and if you're the nominee and some of them beg their Personal Lord And Strength Coach for permission to vote for you. Ain't going to be pretty, son. I feel for my former governor. I truly do. He's taking an unfair rap for his religion, and an unfair rap for his gardeners, all in the same week. However -- and it is a big However -- he's the one who decided to run for the nomination of a party that has enthralled itself to shoeless fundamentalist rubes and anti-immigration yahoos. He could have gone two ways. He could have stood against this and argued, correctly, that the GOP is on its way to becoming a regional, racialist-based, minority party. (The approach John McCain briefly tried on in the aftermath of the 2000 South Carolina primary, but which he thereupon abandoned for the next seven years.) He could have done us all a favor and Souljah'ed the lunatic portions of his base. He had the money and the record to do it. Instead, he pandered, over and over again, to the crazy people, and now the crazy people are acting like crazy people act, and all the chickens are coming home to roost on his handsomely chiseled head.

Further, the endless fake parallels to John F. Kennedy's speech to the Baptist ministers are as ahistorical as they are clumsily drawn. Kennedy was addressing a still-extant cultural anti-Catholicism in the South and nativist Know-Nothingism in the North that had remained virulent within his lifetime. He was addressing his speech to the entire country and, if you read it very carefully, you discover that he essentially was telling the Baptist ministers to go to hell, that they were crackpot religious bigots whom he very subtly marginalized from a changing political process. Most of what he told them they didn't really believe, and he knew it, and they knew it. Kennedy wasn't appealing for their support. He was warning them that their stale religious prejudices were being left behind in the New Frontier. As is plain from the text, Romney's speech was narrowly aimed at garnering the support of an important slice of the base he needs to win his party's nomination. The deliberate misreading of the Constitution. The Meacham-esque blathering about the religiosity of the Founders. The monumentally indiscreet -- and philosophically risible -- equation of freedom with public god-babbling. This is all nothing except more pandering. And shouldn't someone making this facile comparison point out that Romney is a Mormon bishop and is thus tied more closely to his church's power structure than Kennedy ever was? I mean, Jack wasn't even a very good Catholic. Gene McCarthy was right about that.

p.s. -- John McCain wins the vital Veteran Righthanded Blowhard Primary. I trust I don't have to gild the lily on Curt's gift for melding history and politics into a piquant goulash that a newly arrived visitor from the planet Zod might easily mistake for actual English prose. And I probably don't need to point out the various ways in which Curt is full of magic beans here, although I was interested to learn from Curt that those damned ungrateful Vietnamese weren't as interested in freedom as the Iraqis apparently are.

Name: Lionel Artom-Ginzburg
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

Hey Doc --

Will somebody, please, for the sake of the children, or at least so that future generations don't laugh at us, please point out that the "No Religious Test for Office" provision of the Constitution (Art. VI, Sec. 3) has nothing at all to do with whether the people or the media ask a candidate about his or her beliefs? Romney keeps citing it, and I think Huckabee even made reference to it in a debate, and I don't think either of them have a clue as to what it means.

From 1673 until 1829, you had to take an oath, when sworn into political office in Great Britain, stating that you were a Christian, supported the Anglican Church, don't believe in transubstantiation and renounce the Roman Catholic Church. Obviously, this put a damper on Catholics, Jews, Methodists, etc. from becoming Members of Parliament. The bits that kept non-conformist Protestants and Catholics out were repealed, finally, in 1828 and 1829; the bits about being a Christian weren't taken out until 1858. This is what the Religious Test clause of the Constitution (which, for people who aren't historians, was adopted nearly 4 years before the 1st Amendment to it) was supposed to prevent-- an actual limitation of office to those of a certain faith. Indeed, some states of the US, notably Maryland, kept religious tests for state office into the early 19th Century.

The people of the United States, and the (let us remember) free press in the United States are perfectly permitted to ask of a candidate whether they are a Christian, a Hindu, or a Zoroastrian. They may ask whether a candidate believes that the Native Americans are the lost tribes of Israel or whether dinosaur fossils were planted by G-d to test the faith of Christian literalists. The people may vote for a candidate based on his or her answers, or not. They may do so because they agree with a candidate, or because they think that his or her answers are heresy, or antiquated mythology, or ridiculous, or whatever. That's called 1st Amendment freedom of religion. It may be, for reasons of bigotry among the voting populace, that this may effectively rule out Jews, Mormons, Muslims, or Atheists from high office, and it may be unfair that this is the case, but this is not the religious test referred to in Article VI. Not even close.

(Just watch-- next they'll be claiming that Democrats are banned from politics because Article 4 requires that all states of the Union have a "Republican Form of Government.")

Name: Jeff Myhre
Hometown: New York, NY

Why do the reactionary Christians behind the abstinence only approach to sex ed claim that abstinence is the only 100% effective way to avoid pregnancy? Haven't they forgotten that a primary belief of their faith is the virgin birth? Apparently, 100% doesn't really mean 100%.

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