Slacker Friday

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We've got a new "Think Again" column called "Hatred for Sale" here.

Why does Jon Stewart (Liebowitz) hate the Jews? Any ideas, MartyMiniMe? (P.S. Walt and Mearsheimer, Jimmy Carter, Eric Alterman, Matt Yglesias, J Street, etc., will be meeting for baba ghanoush, hash brownies, and baksheesh payments over at Sammy the Saudi's house at 7:00. See ya there...) P.P.S. Why does the Forward also hate the Jews?

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc:

"I walked 47 miles of barbed wire, I used a cobra snake for a necktie/ I got a brand new house on the roadside, made from rattlesnake hide."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Bring It On Home To Me" (Sonny Boy Williamson) -- Once again, I have failed in my attempt to outfit an army of lemurs with tiny microphones on their backs so that I could parade them through the studio during Fox & Friends one morning, thereby broadcasting in glorious multi-lemur sound how much I love New Orleans.

Short Takes:

Part The First: Before there was the press malfeasance in the run-up to the Iraq debacle, there was the press malfeasance that enabled this and, subsequently, the press malfeasance that resulted in this. All of these cases involved reporters corrupted by access, corrupted by a sense of their own omniscience, and corrupted by scoop-madness at the expense of intelligent skepticism. Take them all in all, and these three sorry episodes have done incalculable damage, and not just to a craft that matters to me.

Part The Second: Jeff Greenfield's ongoing effort to make RFK spin at Arlington continued apace last Sunday, on CBS' Sunday Morning. Not only does Greenfield go miles out of his way to assure us that Bobby was very down on welfare -- which, in a piece purporting to memorialize the dynamics of the 1968 campaign, is rather beside the point -- but also, to support his argument, he trots out Monica Crowley, aka Nixon's Last Sucker. I'm surprised he didn't use Harold Ford. Come to think of it, I'm surprised Harold didn't do a couple of innings of play-by-play on the Sox-Tampa game Wednesday night. Hey. Big Loser Guy, off my teevee, OK?

Part The Third: Don Freaking Henley? Good god. Let's leave out the opera stars and the jazz singers, all of whose names escape me, even if I ever knew them, which I probably didn't. Just in the context of the genre under discussion, the answer to the question is always Steve Winwood and would be even if the Eagles weren't the worst bunch of overpriced blowhards in the history of rock and roll. If Richard Manuel were alive, this would kill him. It might still kill Levon. The pop culture criticism hereabouts is taking an alarming turn.

(Eric interjects: I have it on excellent authority, bub, that Steve Earle (!) agrees. Rosanne too. This would be an appropriate moment to add "bite me," I imagine, were I the kind of person who engaged in such vulgarity.)

Part The Fourth: RIP, Mr. Diddley. I go back and forth on which is the most unlikely appearence of the Bo Diddley Beat; it's either "Magic Bus" or the Stooges "1969." In any case, along with the Chuck Berry Riff, there aren't many things in rock and roll more indelible. You shoulda heard just what I seen.

(Eric interjects: After Keith Richards did his crazy Chuck Berry concert in the '90s, Ronnie Wood tried to do the same sort of thing for Bo with a tour that played that club that used to be in Georgetown. I was there. "Oy vey," as Barack Obama would say ...)

Part The Last: Every Wednesday, the New York Daily News used to have Lars-Erik Nelson and Stanley Crouch on the same page, the greatest op-ed parlay in daily newspaper history. Now, instead, we have this knob? Jesus wept, and Pete Hamill ain't feeling too happy, either, I'm thinking.

Not to start a fight with folks -- OK, maybe to start just a little one -- but doesn't it strike anyone else as odd that, in a campaign in which the issues have included whose pews he's sat in, whose sermons he's heard, and with which faded 1960s radical he's played lawn darts, Barack Obama is widely praised because his first speech as the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party was a pep talk to an organization that very recently employed people who got so busted playing fast and loose with national security information that they got indicted and one of their friends went to jail behind it? Wouldn't that have been worthy of note somewhere? Anywhere? If not just for the sheer strangeness of it? Hello? Bueller? It is an odd time in history, fer shure. You'd think that the biggest damn issue in the campaign, and certainly on my electric television set, would be this one. Or, maybe, this one. The youngsters know that I am something of an obsessive on the Iran-Contra Scandal, but it really is the root of most of the shenanigans the current passel of thieves and mountebanks has been about. It also was the template for our media mandarins how not to cover crimes by a government. First, claim that the whole business is too complicated for "us" to understand. (Nonsense. Iran-Contra was a complex series of crimes and cock-ups, but it wasn't in any way complicated.) Then, hang your hat on the Great Men Of Washington -- the Tower Commission, or the Inouye committee -- to kill the whole thing slowly by euphemism. Eliminate the possibility of strict constitutional remedy; Mark Hertsgaard's On Bended Knee is the ur-text for this one. Nobody much wanted to investigate, let alone impeach, kindly ol' Dutch Reagan. Then, declare that the "American people" have grown bored with the whole business, and take some potshots at poor, stonewalled Lawrence Walsh as you're doing so. Then, when George Schultz's diaries emerge, and they pretty much vindicate everything that Walsh's people had been trying to get at, and then Poppy Bush pardons everyone except Shoeless Joe Jackson on the way out the door, declare that the whole matter is ancient history and that "the country" has moved on. And then, 20 years later, when the same crew lies, cheats, and bungles on an even more massive scale, pronounce yourself mystified at how the whole thing happened. This is the Gulf Of Tonkin revelation in real time, and while we all still have time to do something about it. But, what the hell, what do you think Hillary wants?

Name: Mike
Hometown: Englewood Cliffs

As a teacher for the past 23 years (3 in parochial and 20 in public school), I can assure you that Tim Russert in the inner city would most likely be toasted or roasted by noon! I on the other would love to have a crack at Dick Cheney for an hour -- priceless indeed...

Name: Joe C.
Hometown: Houston, TX

Right on, Dr. A.

Here's some interesting background on the NAFTA Superhighway fears that once again illustrates how the likes of Dobbs, O'Reilly and Beck can weave a sticky sarape of deception from a few half-truths to promote their own anti-immigration agenda. While D,O&B's concerns about the NAFTA highway may be crazy, the Texas portion of the highway is quite real and quite controversial. Starting out as an extension of Interstate 69 that currently runs from Port Huron, MI to Indianapolis, IN, the Texas Dept. of Transportation was originally going to develop the state's part of the road as a traditional interstate highway, basically a needed upgrade of US 59 which runs from Texarkana through Houston to the Rio Grande Valley.

Then, in stepped the Republicans and their buddies in Zachry, a large San Antonio highway construction firm, and Cintra, the Spanish toll road operator.

As part of his gubernatorial campaign for magically solving the state's mobility problems without spending any state money or raising taxes, Governor Rick Perry had proposed the $184 billion, four football field wide superhighway not only for the US 59 upgrade, but for others in the state as well. He claimed that it would route interstate traffic away from congested cities like Dallas, San Antonio and Houston while providing a corridor for interstate pipelines and rail. The catches were many. The highways were to use almost a million acres of land obtained through the state's eminent domain power. Texas is big, but a million acres is still a lot, especially when the majority of it is already owned. Also, instead of using bonds to pay for construction, the state would finance up to 30% of the project with private funds and operate the system as for-profit toll roads.

Opposition first started with farmers, ranchers and other landowners along the proposed route not willing to sell because the Republican-led legislature had voted to give the state the authority to confiscate their land not only for the quarter mile wide highway, but then lease parts of it back to any private entity for any unrelated commercial or industrial purpose like restaurants, shopping malls, warehouse distribution centers, gas stations, hotels, you name it. Dan Shelley, a lobbyist for Cintra, the Spanish toll road consortium picked to build and operate the toll road through still secret negotiations with Rick Perry's office, even wound up working in the Governor's office writing transportation legislation.

No, hardly the first step in any "North American Union," the Trans-Texas corridors are another Republican led boondoggle. It's not the sovereignty of the U.S. that's being ceded here, but rather taxpayer money and the private property of Texas citizens to the likes of Gov. Perry and his Zachry/Cintra buddies to build and operate their cash cow.

Name: Andy
Hometown: Houston

Texas, or rather its Governor Rick Perry, is all out pushing for 3 football field wide multi-function road, railroad, and utility corridors (several) including one that will house an I-69 extension, known as the NAFTA superhighway. It will stretch from Detroit to south Texas. The Gov proposed to have it constructed, owned and run by a Spanish corporation. One of the last things Tom DeLay did was to order signs put up along the current patchwork of highways declaring they were the future home of I-69.

It's great seeing all the Republican ranchers and other Texas folks losing their hair over how their chosen son could be proposing to use condemnation to kick them off their land and give it to Spain. The rest of the legislature is starting to push back pretty hard.

It has nothing to do with Lou Dobb's "new world order" BS and everything to do with Ricky's pals, i.e. folks that sell concrete (Tom DeLay's brother) and usually get road construction contracts (Williams Brothers -- cronies everywhere). In their eyes, Rick's greatest failure as Governor would be to not develop some scheme to transfer the State's wealth to the next generation of cronies. Who, for heavens sake, would possibly be featured on the Houston Chronicle's society pages if he fails? The tragedy.

The controversy has provided a "come to Jesus" moment for a lot of smart folks who have refused for decades to listen to reason because of whom the wise words were coming from. Liberals. Yes, daddy, the emperor is butt-naked and he's been mooning you for years.

Name: Brian Geving
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN

A story not covered in the national press or media here in Minnesota, but covered by the excellent minnpost.com, is the length that Barack Obama is going in order to woo Clinton supporters. After his historic Tuesday speech here in St. Paul, instead of leaving or seeking out the nearest camera, he met with a couple of dozen hard-core Clinton supporters privately and asked for their support. Many were very pleased:

"He shook my hand and said, 'Thank you for being here; I'm sure it's not easy,' '' said Stevenson of her meeting with Obama. "I thanked him and said that everyone involved in his campaign had been so gracious. I didn't know what to say, so I mentioned that my daughter works for a federal health clinic. And he knew right away which program I was talking about. He said, 'Oh that's wonderful.' "

Stevenson, a feminist and Clinton supporter, had to admit this: "He's very impressive.''

You can find the complete story here.

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