Slacker Friday

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We have a new Think Again column here called "Drilling Deep to Mislead on Oil Prices." My new Nation column is called "Obama vs. the Smart Guys (and Dumb Wars)," here.

From the American News Project:

ANP was on the scene yesterday when John Yoo and David Addington, two leading architects of the Bush administration's policies on torture, testified before the House Judiciary Committee. Even seemingly simple questions yielded the most evasive answers.

Yesterday was also the U.N.'s official day to show support for victims of torture. ANP teamed up with Washington Independent reporter Spencer Ackerman to see an exact replica of a Gitmo detention cell.

The Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 to get rid of Washington D.C.'s 32-year-ban on handguns. Gun rights advocates are celebrating it as a victory while others worry more legal guns in D.C. may make their way to the black market. ANP takes a DC Snapshot.

And, lastly, with a stagnant economy and rising fuel prices the cost of food is soaring. Congress is reacting, but will their efforts be enough? The American News Project spends a week with Brian Duss, who agrees to take the Food Stamp Challenge and live off a dollar per meal for 7 days in "The Price of Hunger."

(Also, due to popular demand, ANP has just added an education category to its fund-a-beat section! Learn more about community-funded journalism at the American News Project.)

Slacker Friday:

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc:

"I hope you get the connection, 'cause I can't take the rejection/I won't deceive you, I just don't believe you."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: Plantation Blues (Sonny Clay's Plantation Orchestra ) -- Once again, I have neglected to follow up on a proposal from my friends from Alpha Centauri to send down a battalion of remarkably lifelike Steny Hoyer androids who will parade around the House chamber, dispensing checks drawn on the AT&T house account, and telling everyone how much I love New Orleans.

Part The First: I know Jesse Ventura's a big old slab of goofball tartare, but you won't hear any Democrat talking like this on national TV.

Part The Second: Does Slate pay this knob in warm, moist towels? Here's a tip, Mick. Most men you write about are smarter than you, better looking than you, and they, you know, git more. Deal with it, OK?

Part The Third: I think a clever, well-crafted lede sentence is essential to good journalism.

Part The Fourth: When your magazine is dedicated to propping up the oligarchy while pretending at all times to be staffed by a bowling team from West Memphis, you're liable to fall for anything.

Part The Last: Cue the wingnut Hallelujah Chorus over this result. We will now hear how all John McCain has to do is knuckle brown peop ... er ... reassert conservative principles, and he's home free, and that the wingiest of wingnuts are simply not going to put up with half-measures any more. For himself, brother Chaffetz sounds like a real go-getter. I particularly like this passage:

"The speech caters to Republican delegates, who tend to be more hard-line than the typical voter. In it, Chaffetz paints himself as the cure to Washington insiders, including Republicans who have failed to live up to their party's ideals. He lambasts immigration policy (calling for the elimination of birthright citizenship if the parents are illegal), federal meddling in schools (calling for the elimination of the Department of Education) and global warming (calling it 'a farce')."

By all means, the Republicans should adopt exactly these positions on the national level, especially global-warming denial. Comeback, baby!

In 1990, while I was in the employ of a now-defunct all-sports daily newspaper, I went to Atlanta to work on a piece about Evander Holyfield, who was preparing to fight James (Buster) Douglas for the heavyweight champeenship of the woild (!). Anyway, one night, my hotel was hosting a fundraiser for a guy named David Worley, a lawyer who was running against Newt Gingrich. What the hell, I thought, maybe the hors d'oeuvres are good. I went down to the ballroom and, in the course of extensive freeloading, I talked to a number of people from the Worley campaign who were absolutely convinced that their guy could take Gingrich down. They were extremely frosted at the Democratic National Committee, which barely bothered to return their phone calls. By the end of the evening, they even had me convinced. Turns out they were right. I made a little coin taking Worley and five points against some of the hepcat political pros of my casual acquaintance.

This all came back to mind as our elite campaign press corps -- embarrassingly enabled by the utopian goo-goo reform community -- ginned up a controversy this week about Barack Obama's bailing out of the pulverized ruins of the public campaign-finance system. (Me? It looks from here like he's abandoning public financing in favor of being financed by the public.)

It has become plain that some people simply think that all big money in politics is necessarily evil -- which requires them to argue that 1,000 donors each giving $200 has the same corrosive effect on the system as a pesticide lobbyist's bundling up $200,000 on behalf of his industry. The argument on television is now devolving hopelessly into, yes, a "character" debate. Hardly anyone has accounted for the paradigm shift that netroot campaign financing represents. (And anyone who thinks Obama considers himself beholden in any way to the liberal netroots should take a look at how shamefully he turtled on the FISA capitulation this week.) If the fundraising capabilities that have benefited Obama this year had existed in 1990 to help David Worley, he wouldn't have needed the indolent DNC to rid the political culture of a megalomaniacal vandal with a taste for comely aides. Lost highway there.

p.s. -- KO, you know I love you, but don't tangle with Glenn Greenwald on this stuff. You're going to go down like Duane Bobick if you try. And, as far as your defense of the barely defensible goes, this passage right here -- "I don't know much about Mr. Greenwald and I didn't read his full piece, but I do know that the snippet he's taken out of the transcript of my conversation with Jon Alter last night makes it sound like I was saying defying the left was a good thing" -- is what the astronomers would call an "extinction-level event." It's not like Greenwald's writing The Origin Of The Species every day, for pity's sake. Do better, please.

Name: Steve Hicken
Hometown: Tallahassee, Florida

I'm confused. Richard Cohen admits that Sen. McCain has changed his mind about everything under the Sun, but he has strong character because he didn't cave in to the North Vietnamese.

He caved in to George Bush, the religious Right, the neo-cons, and the supply-siders, but not to the North Vietnamese. Does that mean that unless President McCain is kidnapped by the North Vietnamese and tortured, he'll change his mind about every issue that comes to him?

Name: Michael Roberts
Hometown: Boston

I love how McCain's character, for bravery 30+ years ago trumps all for Cohen. But McCain is his own party's second choice. Their first choice was George W. Bush, who used family ties to get out of the draft and into the National Guard, opted out of being sent abroad during wartime, and by all accounts was AWOL for at least a year of his service. And he's a recovering alcoholic spoiled legacy brat. That trumped McCain for Republicans.

All of McCain's Amazing Character is struggling for all he's worth to get George W. Bush's sloppy seconds.

Name: W. B. Lewis
Hometown: Cincinnati

Eric,

It seems Cohen thinks he's bringing out the trump card like a guy with a heart surgery scar tearing open his shirt and saying "You think that's a big scar? Beat this."

Last I looked, being tortured was not a prerequisite for the presidency but apparently Cohen doesn't think he'll know Obama's core principles until he's tortured. Guess he expects Obama to start adjusting his schedule between now and the election to fit it in or risk not getting Cohen's vote.

Keep up the good work. Always thought provoking.

Name: John Loehr
Hometown: Free Union

This is incredible:

Nadler asked Addington whether it would be legal in some circumstances to torture a detainee's child.

"I don't agree or disagree with it, Mr. Chairman. I don't plan to address it," Addington said. "I'm not here to render legal advice to your committee. You do have attorneys of your own to give you legal advice."

These people are so sick they won't just come out and say "No, of course we shouldn't torture the children of prisoners." Instead, Addington advises them to lawyer up if they want to try, just like his boss did.

And this is a day after there was a picture of a two year old with both his legs broken on the front page of the New York Times.

Name: Rachael Ludwick
Hometown:

To be fair to Amazon, those search results are almost certainly a matter of what books people click on and buy (that is, the most popular ones). Amazon isn't anti-Semitic, but rather people visiting the site are. You can argue that Amazon should fiddle with the system to lower those results, but where do they stop? What forms of prejudice (and the accompanying prejudicial books that will thus be published) should they watch out for and prevent high rankings for? How do they judge that a particular book is actually bigoted? How do they do this in a way that is cost-effective (given how many bigotries seem equally as bad)?

Name: Doug DePriest
Hometown: Aiken, SC

Mark,

Let me introduce you to the apostle Paul and a little missive called Romans. In particular, 1:26-27. It may not use the term "abomination," but the point is made pretty clearly.

Name: Mark A
Hometown: West Windsor, NJ

Eric,

Many apologies, but my statement about Leviticus being the only place where the bible mentions homosexual sex is condemned is not correct. There are, in fact, several passages in the New Testament where homosexuals are condemned as well and an acquaintance of mine corrected me on the matter.

Name: Brian Pienkoski
Hometown: Rochester NY

I think it's time to start disabusing some of your readers of the notion that showing emotion is cause for revocation of one's man-card.

In my opinion, there's a number of actions that should cause forfeiture of this card. The big two are lack of accountability and the use of violence to achieve personal gain.

Shedding tears of joy? If anything, that's cause for upgrade to "Gold" card status.

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