What Goes Up Must Come Down ...

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So the spin begins -- former White House press secretary Scott McClellan writes a book blasting the Bush administration for, well, pretty much everything -- and the noise machine sets out to destroy him. Last night, shortly after Politico.com broke a story about the book's contents, Tucker Carlson and Karl Rove went on MSNBC and Fox News, respectively, to begin the McClellan bashing.

The points were tired, and certainly familiar to the likes of Richard Clarke -- that McClellan was irrelevant ("the lamest press secretary in American history," according to Carlson, and "goes to show how out of the loop he was," says Rove). Both also said that McClellan was implicated in everything he alleged, since he didn't speak up at the time, so why should we care, etc.

But both Carlson and Rove -- and this is minutes or even seconds apart, on different networks -- ended their interviews with this charge:

CARLSON: There is no way he put together those words by himself. Complete sentence after complete sentence after complete sentence, I don't believe he's capable of it. I'd like to know who his ghost writer is. It's just appalling.

[...]

ROVE: Well, two things. First of all, this doesn't sound like Scott. It really doesn't. Not the Scott McClellan I've known for a long time. Second of all, it sounds like somebody else. It sounds like a left-wing blogger.

It's odd that they both simultaneously made this ghostwriter charge, and doubly odd because Rove specifically admitted at the beginning of the interview he had never seen the book. Strange indeed.

George Zornick writes:

In last week's Think Again column about the shocking lack of care for veterans, we noted that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among returning troops was far more prevalent than most realized, and certainly more than the government was willing or able to treat. Only half of afflicted vets seek treatment, according to a Rand study, and of those who do, just half "receive treatment that researchers consider 'minimally adequate' for their illnesses."

The Pentagon had not previously released its numbers on PTSD, but it now has -- and, unsurprisingly, they are grim. Also, the numbers appear to have jumped with the introduction of President Bush's troop surge:

The number of troops with new cases of post-traumatic stress disorder jumped by roughly 50 percent in 2007 amid the military buildup in Iraq and increased violence there and in Afghanistan.

[...]

[Army Surgeon General Eric Schoomaker] also blamed increased exposure of troops to combat.

Factors increasing troop exposure to combat in 2007 included President Bush's troop buildup and the fact that 2007 was the most violent year in both conflicts.

More troops also were serving their second, third or fourth tours of duty -- a factor mental health experts say dramatically increases stress. And in order to supply enough forces for the buildup, officials also extended tour lengths to 15 months from 12, another factor that caused extra emotional strain.

More here.

McCain Suck-up Watch: In an article discussing statements Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain made on Memorial Day, The Washington Post asserted: "Neither candidate used the solemn day to launch political attacks." But according to an Associated Press article that has been posted on washingtonpost.com, McCain said of Obama during an interview on Memorial Day: "He really has no experience or knowledge or judgment about the issue of Iraq and he has wanted to surrender for a long time."

On Jeteration -- a good read on one of baseball's most over-hyped players, here:

People don't believe me when I say that I really like Derek Jeter. I do! I think Jeter is an excellent player. I think Jeter is a smart player. I love the guy's tenacity -- he's only missed 15 games in a season once -- and I like his .317/.387/.461 lifetime line, and I respect that he will give you some power, some speed, and more often than not really good at-bats. And heck, I like the personality, the charisma, the star quality, the way other players talk about his leadership -- I don't know what all that's worth but it's gotta be worth something.

So why is it that I'm often writing negative things about Derek Jeter? I realized Friday that it has absolutely nothing to do with Jeter himself. No, what drives me batty is that Jeter -- maybe because of his star power, or maybe because he's a Yankee, or maybe because he's made some very big plays on the national stage, or maybe because he dated all the supermodels, I honestly don't know what it is -- Jeter brings out this quality in people, this superiority, this ... it just drives me insane I don't know if there's a word for this quality so, as we do here, I'm going to invent a word.

Jeterate (verb) meaning "to praise someone for something of which he or she is entirely unworthy of praise."

As the author lays out, Jeter is very good and so I wouldn't say he is "entirely" unworthy of praise -- but certainly the level of praise, and the level of bestowed superiority, is unwarranted. If anyone in Bristol is reading this, please send it around to your coworkers.

The Wit and the Wisdom of Keith Richards:

From Uncut magazine:

Q: It seemed that there was a definite hierarchy in place, though. It was the difference between Jack White and Christina Aguilera being beside themselves that they were onstage with The Rolling Stones, and The Rolling Stones being beside themselves that they were onstage with Buddy Guy.

Keith Richards: I guess you're right. Buddy Guy comes from our generation. We were listening to Buddy before we had two pennies. He has a little seniority on us, but not that much. Buddy Guy is ... Buddy Guy. You're talking about one of the greats here. The others, Jack White ... hey, cool. Probably be all right. The other one I can't even remember.

Q: Christina Aguilera. I thought she was great.

KR: Yeah, very nice. Very nice chick. Nice bum. But if you only have one song, you don't have much time for interaction, and usually we blow their wigs off.

[...]

Asked about a Led Zeppelin reunion:

"They had one? Well, well done Jimmy (Page) and Robert (Plant) ... 'Stairway To Heaven' don't make it for me, baby."

Alter-reviews: Love re-issue and a new Willie Nelson box set.

Love -- Forever Changes

Rhino Records has issued a two-disc collector's edition of the psych-folk masterpiece Forever Changes, by Love. This is one of the few still-great albums of this genre by people who didn't go on to demonstrate that they had a lot of talent in any genre. This was it. Amazing that it still works so well. This deluxe version contains the 11 original songs on the album, along with an alternate mix comprised almost entirely of unreleased tracks. There is also a significant amount of material from the group's album recording sessions. I'd spring for it. More information is available here.

Willie Nelson -- One Hell Of A Ride

So we've got another Willie box, this one from Sony Legacy, and they say it's the largest one ever, with a hundred songs and a nice 100-page full-color book with dozens of never-seen-before photographs and full discographical information. Notable in the materials are an 8000-word essay by Texas musician and music journalist Joe Nick Patoski, author of the upcoming biography Willie Nelson: An Epic Life. What can I say? Willie has written so many great songs and sung so many others and in so many interesting and often successful combinations that you gotta have at least one of these, even if you have a dozen or so CDs already on your shelf. I don't see any problem with this being the one, but like everything else, it all depends. Much more information is available here.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Larry Epke
Hometown: Richton Park, IL

To your reader John B. concerning Chris Matthews and Kevin James: yes, we've all come to love this clip of Matthews pointing out Kevin James' ignorance, but let's not get too fond of Tweedy for this. Remember, Kevin James is not one of the insiders, the "cool kids." Thus, he's fair game for the villagers to put down, in the interest of looking like they have some sense of fairness. But if Ann Coulter said the same things, I doubt Chris would be so willing to dispute her. (Pat Buchanan isn't as dumb as James, so he wouldn't be in the same spot.) Like Tim Russert taking on the poor sheriff of St. Bernard Parish after his appearance on Meet the Press the gang protect their own and only really show their teeth to the outsiders.

Name: Don Hynes
Hometown: Portland, OR

Pipes has been an apologist for the Bush Cheney War Machine since day one, which El Presidente recently rewarded by "nominating Pipes to the board of the United States Institute of Peace."

How much further down the rabbit hole do we have to go with these moral cretins? Even Hitchens got it right on Pipes.

What must the rest of our fellow humans think of us? Something in the water? Too many freedom fries? Only proven ability to work channel changer from reclining position?

Name: Brian Geving
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN

Eric,

That Rosanne Cash is an amazing writer is undeniable after reading her blog about songwriting. Her comments about the power of music really resonate with anyone who enjoys great music. She brilliantly managed to put into words what I've only felt but was unable to articulate. Thank you for providing the link to her amazing blog.

As a singer, I have frequently experienced what Roseanne wrote about. Sometimes I've sung or heard a song that is so well composed that it brings tears to my eyes. I don't know why this happens ... there is no point of reference for the emotions that are touched, or long-lost memory suddenly revealed. It is truly an example of the whole being greater than the separate parts. The lyrics or the notes by themselves don't elicit the same response, but combined it is magic to hear or sing. Music can do that better than any other medium in my opinion.

Name: M. George Stevenson
Hometown: Bronx, NY

Dear Dr. A:

"Hold Back the Dawn" is indeed a sublime experience -- I caught up with it about 15 years ago and it was a revelation, made all the more so because Wilder himself did nothing but badmouth it in his public interviews.

"Hold Back the Dawn" was the last of Wilder and screenwriting/producing partner Charles Brackett's scripts for Mitchell Leisen, the Paramount director who drove both Billy and Preston Sturges into the director's chair. (Leisen's classics-filled filmography -- he also directed B&W's great "Midnight," Sturges' "Easy Living," "Death Takes a Holiday," and "Golden Earrings" -- comes off rather better than the reminiscences about him.)

Based on Wilder and other European refugees from Nazism's experiences trying to get into the U.S. from the apparently less restrictive Mexico, Leisen's deletion of a scene in which Charles Boyer interrogates a cockroach in the manner of a U.S. Customs official, frustrating the insect by sending it back and forth between two imaginary checkpoints with his umbrella point, infuriated Wilder and Brackett to the point that they demanded -- and received -- the opportunity to produce and direct their own script. Paramount was apparently ready to fund their project ("The Major and the Minor") just so that it would flop and force the star screenwriters to come to their senses and move back to the Writers Building.

As fans of everything from "Five Graves to Cairo" to "Some Like It Hot," "The Apartment," "Kiss Me, Stupid," et al. are aware, it didn't work out that way.

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