Slacker Friday

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

We've got a new Think Again column called "FCC vs. The Public" here, and I've got a Nation column called "(Some) Jews Against Obama," here.

I hear from a friend that two blocks down Canal Street, John McCain is speaking to the Council for National Policy. I am with much cooler people, here.

From TomDispatch:

Latin American expert Greg Grandin's latest piece, "Fidel Castro, The First Superdelegate," is a small classic: the first account of the role Fidel Castro has played in 13 straight American presidential elections. He is, in a sense, the ur-superdelegate and the only one who, at this moment in the Obama-Clinton tussle, undoubtedly feels no pressure at all.

Castro is, in fact, the Methuselah of U.S. presidential politics, as well as the last major survivor of the Kennedy-Nixon campaign of 1960. As Grandin writes, "Castro, who by one recent count has survived more than 600 assassination attempts, never allowed a free vote in Cuba; 'The revolution,' he once reportedly remarked, 'has no time for elections.' But he made time for those held in the U.S."

Fidel sometimes tried to intervene as when, in 1964, in an attempt at reverse psychology, he ratcheted up "his anti-imperialist, anti-U.S. rhetoric, hoping to spark a backlash" in President Lyndon Johnson's favor. More often he was used as a cudgel, as the enemy of choice, by candidates, Democratic or Republican, trying to outflank opponents on the right.

Grandin offers a brief, rollicking, blow-by-blow account of Fidel in American presidential campaigns from 1960 to late last night -- and concludes of the now-ill Castro, probably in his final U.S. presidential race: "Last month, Castro announced that he would not seek reelection as Cuba's president. But that hasn't stopped him from weighing in on the contest in the U.S., predicting that a Clinton-Obama ticket would be 'unbeatable.' 'Will Castro's nod to Hillary and Obama,' ran a Fox News header reporting the endorsement, 'help or hurt?' Why won't the Democrats, asked one of the show's guests, 'call him a dictator?' And so the beat, however faint, goes on."

Slacker Friday:

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc --

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Death Valley Blues" (Lightning Slim) -- No expression of devotion this week, just a note to remind everyone that the mighty 'OZ is doing the pledge thing this week. Drop 'em some coin, cher.

Short Takes:

Part The First: I'm sure it's a great production, and I bow to nobody in my regard for Mr. Giamatti and Ms. Linney, my favorite Northfield-Mt. Hermon gal. But John Adams was an impossible old blatherskite, an insecure little man for whom the presidency wasn't enough, and the author of some of the most oppressive legislation not conceived by the mind of John Yoo. And I don't care how much some people like his wife. Elsewhere, identity politics have run amok here.

Part The Second: Because I don't get to The Landlord's town as often as I used to -- or as often as I'd like to -- I missed the closing last summer of the original Rocky Sullivan's, the world's greatest shebeen. Fortunately, Chris has moved the whole operation to Red Hook. I am at peace again. And, in a related story, Ian Paisley retired from politics this week. Now go straight onto a slowly rotating spit in hell, you worthless old vampire.

Part The Third: So many people deserve to lose their jobs behind this torrent of drool that if all of them were fired at once, the Newsweek building could rent itself out as storage space. The Reverend Meacham should apologize to His Personal Lord And Savior for being fundamentally a waste of His time.

Part The Fourth: Howard Fineman once thought C-Plus Augustus was Shane. (No, really. You can look it up in Wolcott's book.) Now he thinks Hillary Clinton is Nixon. Hey, I think Howard Fineman is Cousin Oliver from The Brady Bunch, but I keep that to myself.

Part The Fifth: Listening to John McCain discuss domestic policy is like listening to someone who learned English phonetically, and a half-hour ago.

Part The Last: It really is time for HRC to knock it off with the "Johnny Mac and I are the experienced ones" trope. Either that, or it's time for Barack Obama to start referring, every damn day, to the "Bush-McCain-Clinton" war in Iraq, especially now that her vote for the AUMF looks even worse.

One waits in vain for the television and newspaper pundits to abandon their novelization of John McCain, Renegade Maverick Moderate Centrist Tough Guy. John (Jesus Is My X-Man!) Hagee wasn't enough. Standing there like a garden gnome while President 19 Percent fairly well soaked him in a great shower of Fail wasn't enough. And I suspect this won't be enough, either. But, make no mistake. The CNP is the nuttiest of the wingers and the wingiest of the nuts. This is the creme de la crazoid. Throw all of these people in a sack, roll it down a hill, and there'll always be an influential lunatic on top. To call these people medieval is to insult Charlemagne. To call these people ultramontane is to insult Pius IX. To call them reactionary is to insult two generations of Buckleys. Anyone who wonders why St. John hasn't distanced himself from a raving nutball like Hagee need only look here to discover why. He doesn't want to do so. He not only needs the likes of these people to get nominated, he prefers their company. He agrees with them. His entire campaign has been an extended negotiation regarding the terms of the lien on his soul he's given them in exchange for their support. They are the most important part of his base outside of that part of it currently wearing Tim Russert's underwear.

P.S. -- This was a step-up moment for the Obama campaign and it choked, big time. Samantha Power is someone who has spent a career looking the worst that humanity has to offer itself squarely in the eye. She's someone that any campaign -- hell, any government -- should thank its god for having around. And the Obamas can't or won't defend her against the assaults of a campaign that's been nothing but an endless parade of shoddy and worthless surrogates ever since someone let Billy Shaheen out of his box in New Hampshire? New Politics, my aunt Fanny. The best rule of Old Politics is to have the backs of the people who are important to you. This is a gutless, shabby moment.

Name: Carolyn M. Byerly
Hometown: Washington, DC

Mr. Alterman,

Your article on the FCC with Mr. Zornick pulls a lot of important information together for an overview of the FCC under Bush. One thing that I was looking for, though, was some mention that deregulation (and its outcome, conglomeration) have disproportionately punished women and racial minorities. Their ownership has historically always been small in broadcast, but since the T'96 law, their ownership has slid to low single digits. It's a huge problem that is totally buried in "general" analyses of deregulation.

Name: Pat
Hometown: Newark

Maureen Dowd grew up in Washington, DC, like Frank Rich, and has a somewhat tribal view of the town (unlike Rich). She flourished under A.M. Rosenthal, who loved how she tweaked Bush pere. When she got her slot on the Op-Ed page of the Times, she could follow the 92 campaign's follies and foibles. But something happened that she didn't expect. She fell for the Big Dog in a big way.

When the new Clinton administration made numerous mistakes (don't ask, don't tell; serial problems with AG nominees and Social Security payments for undocumented workers; health care), she was appropriately snarky, but her columns were still essentially favorable to Clinton.

But when Bill became embroiled in Bimbroglio with Mlle Lewinsky, MoDo acted (and wrote) like she was the wronged party, as if Bill had cheated on her. She can't forgive him, and she can't forgive Hillary for forgiving him.

Name: ScottR
Hometown:

All I see these days is fulminating and disgruntlement about Hillary's inability to overtake Obama. Am I missing something here? It seems to me that Obama can't win this thing on the ground either. So, Hillary would have to annihilate Obama to get the nomination, but if she doesn't, which is likely, and yet manages to pull out a few wins in the coming primaries, doesn't that mean that Obama will be unable to clinch? It seems to me that the gnashing of teeth is a bit shortsighted. Either of the candidates will need help from superdelegates.

And it is odd that in order to ignore the rules the Democratic Party put in place, which include these superdelegates, people are complaining because it doesn't represent the will of the people. So, do you want to follow the rules or the people, because they are not necessarily the same.

And I wish I saw you on the idiot box more often; it seems there is an embargo on bearded liberals (assuming you still sport the chin fuzz).

Name: Andrew Sipocz
Hometown: Houston

Based on my experience at the Texas polls and that of others, the only reason Clinton took the popular vote in Texas was because many Republicans voted for her in an attempt to keep Obama out of the race. A local news station asked exiting voters who they voted for and yes, some Republicans admitted, right there on the 6:00 news, that they voted for Clinton to keep Obama out of the race. If my polling location was representative, I'd say a quarter of her votes were from republicans doing what Rush and others told them to do. He's asked his listeners to vote for Clinton because she stood no chance against McCain).

Name: Jesse Zander Corum
Hometown: Portland, OR

Matt Shirley joins the chorus of people deciding the election is over and calling on someone (usually Hillary, but some people don't care) to concede. And I don't get to vote for two more months.

Oregon and other late primary states now have a faint glimmer of hope that their vote might actually mean something this time. This time, we don't have to accept whichever candidate New Hampshire, New York and California select for us. I see the strategy behind a single candidate, but it's not a conclusive argument when put against my own right to participate.

Florida and Michigan get little sympathy from me; I always assumed my vote wouldn't matter. But if we do something, it needs to wait until all the other primaries have finished.

Name: Stephen Hirsch
Hometown: Basking Ridge, NJ

I recently did a 3 month stint at Sirius in the back office, and I've got to say that they're not a particularly well organized company. Since long distance truckers are a large part of their audience, it was my feeling that they are playing into that stereotype. The funny thing was, I was analyzing their web logs, and the left wing streams had at least a 10% edge in listenership as opposed to the right wing streams. Since I never got to finish that project, I wonder if that info ever made its way up the corporate chain.

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