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Altercation archive: December 15-21, 2003

Dec. 19, 2003 | 2:30 PM ET

Yesterday’s announcement that the technical problems had been solved was er, premature, as we are still as screwed as ever here, which makes the rest of this a bit ridiculous, but I got inspired anyway, so here goes. Chappy Channukka everybody.

Yes, to those of you who asked, I am feeling that Senator Kerry did saw off that limb onto which I had climbed for him vis-à-vis his vote for the war when he started bragging about it after Saddam’s capture. The ultimate lesson here, I guess, comes from my old friend and mentor Izzy Stone. “Don’t trust any politician. Period.” In the meantime, the question of the Democratic nomination has come down to this: “Will this election be about turning out your base or winning over swing voters?” Gore did the latter but not the former. He won the election, but, thanks to Ralph Nader (with an assist from the SCLM and Gore’s own crappy campaign), not by enough to prevent the Supreme Court from stealing it for Bush. Right now the country is just as evenly divided as it was in 2000. Bush has not increased the percentage of Americans who call themselves Republicans by a single digit. Thirty-eight percent of Americans think he stole the election, the same number who say they lean Republican. That’s an even start, except for the fact that population shifts give the red states seven more electoral votes than they had last time.

Anway, back to the base vs. swing thing. The punditocracy, which hates Dean, has only token liberal representation, being almost entirely made up of hard-right conservatives and DLC-type swings, who prefer moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats to liberals. The thing is they swing on different issues than the rest of the country, mainly, how much does the candidate suck up to them personally and how willing is he to go to war at the slightest excuse? Dean is not only claiming the mantle of liberalism—a bit unfairly, but there it is—he is also sticking his finger in the collective eye of the pundits on both counts. He doesn’t believe in war as an instrument of policy and he lets the pundits know they are idiots. The base loves this. The media hate it. How will the non-38s react? We don’t know yet, but that’s the gamble that Democrats appear ready to take. (I will expand on this in my Nation column next week.)

The obvious strategy is to shore up the swings with the VP, making Clark or Edwards the obvious choice. I imagine Dean will go this way should he stay on top. But I don’t think the VP matter much, again, except to the media. So it’s a roll of the dice. I’m not really comfortable with it myself, but it may work. Anyone who is not a right-wing fanatic has got to be massively disappointed with what they got with George W. Bush, compared to what he promised during the 2000 election. The question is, will they ever get the news? I dunno, but there is, ahem, a book coming out in late January that is designed to solve just this conundrum. Patriotic Americans will want to buy it in bulk and give it to base and swing voters alike.

Meanwhile, Saddam and Rummy sitting in a tree….

I guess something could be more pathetic than this. Tell me what…

Best of 2003 continued: I kept the #15 spot open for a reason. I was sure I was forgetting something. That something was a tie between two tremendously unique CDs, Ray Benson’s jazzy country torch song record, “Beyond Time,” and Caroline Doctorow’s brainy, heartfelt tribute to Mimi Farina, “Carmel Valley Ride.” Wait, I forgot “Hail to the Thief.” I should really take more time on these things. Never mind. As for DVDs, I idiotically left out the SNL box, which is so great and so funny it makes you want to laugh, dance and cry at the same time. This morning I saw that unbelievably funny Weekend Update interview where Mike Myers plays Mick and Mick plays Keith, along with Bruce’s incredible version of “Living Proof,” his greatest song, by the way, of the past 15 years. Regarding books and movies, well, like Pierce, I don’t really believe in comparing them and now in late middle age, I have trouble remembering. “Mystic River” is magnificent. And the collection of all of Updike’s early short fiction is a cause for celebration. There were other causes, but those two come to mind and stayed there long enough for me to write this item.

And don't forget to check out Eric Boehler's essay on t he greatest week in rock history, here.

Friendly plug, from today’s NYT: Tammy Faye Starlite, Joe's Pub, at the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street, East Village, (212) 539-8778 or (212) 239-6200. Tammy Faye Starlite wouldn't be a ribald parody of a country-singing evangelist if she didn't have a Christmas show. So she does: "Passion in the Manger." Tonight at 9:30; admission is $15 (Pareles).

On to Slacker Friday:

     I do have to admit that Thursday was one of the towering SCLM days of our time. Two -- TWO! -- federal courts take turns playing 'nad-soccer with the Justice Department. (My take: the decision on Padilla will stand, and he'll be tried and convicted in a regular court. The ensuing appeals will take until long after the Moon Of The Blue Wolf. The decision on the Gitmo detainees will be overturned.) Not only that, but the Republican head of the 9/11 Commission says that the attacks were "avoidable," and that hearings will be forthcoming. ("Ms. Rice, please raise your hand and repeat after me...") And the discussion on your nightly panel shows centers on a freak-show molestation prosecution in California. Can the discourse be more corrupt? Can the political culture be more lame?
      I always had a soft spot for Tom Kean -- even though he said some things about poor Mike Dukakis from which you'd have to dial 18 numbers to place a call to The Pale. He'd always seemed connected to that sturdy, intellectually honest tradition of conservatism that reached back through Goldwater and Buckley to Taft and Whomever. This is opposed to Falwellism, Gingrichism, Delayism, and all the other -isms that make modern hock-a-loogie "conservatism" the embarrassing vaudeville Spleenorama that it is. Look at the word he dropped in the White House lobby like a stinking dead fish.
     "A-f**king-voidable," as my junior senator might put it.
     As long as we don't get, you know, angry or anything.
     Mini-Alter-Review: There are about five areas in which "The Return Of The King" is the greatest movie I've ever seen. But how in god's name is anyone supposed to judge whether it is better than the brilliant, character-driven "Mystic River"? (I never met any Hobbits, but I damned sure grew up knowing those Catholic guys from The Flats.) George C. Scott was right about the Oscars.

PS: Jesus, MSNBC, why doesn't this crap ever happen in the middle of Matthews's show?

Name: Rich Jenkins
Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Regarding the rock-n-roll lists:

Great to see the Byrds although "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" is more clearly more of a bridge to country rock and a more innovative album; there also should be mention of Buffalo Springfield whose membership also helped father country rock (e.g., Richie Furay) and which drew from a richer range of inspiration--Latin, Blues, Country & wherever you'd place Neil Young. Their 2nd album is probably the best. Together with the Byrds (and the personnel mingled a lot over time), they are the closest thing to an American Beatles. A richer and more varied output than any of the other '60s collections of US artists.

Pet Sounds is wonderful, but its actual influence was pretty limited, temporally (those "Good Vibrations" type riffs were archaic by the mid-70s), and much of it sounds hopelessly dated now.

Bitches Brew is an album that sounds horrible now, but was briefly influential then. Miles Davis' work from the '50s to mid-60s is magical, but this was schlock. And Frampton Comes Alive? it was instant '70s kitsch the day it was released.

BTW, glad no one included CCR (easily the most overrated band of the '60s, though oddly a favorite of intellectuals).

Eric replies: How nuts is this guy? Never has anyone lost me as profoundly as in that one last stupid sentence. Well, maybe when that fellow said, "I am going to war today to get those 9/11 terrorists in Iraq..."  And “Do (YOU!) Feel Like We Do?” is a go**am perfect song; almost justifies the whole Frampton thing. I also love that line. “What wine? White wine? Where the hell did I dine?” GV dated? Oh really? Hamlet’s feeling a little old too, bub. The Buffalo S/Byrds thing is OK, though.

Name: MSgt Dennis
Hometown: Petersburg

I would LOVE to debate you Eric, your only job is to watch the "news" and then slant everything you write on your BLOG left of center. I get paid to defend my country (probably a 10th of what you get for 30 minutes of "work" a day), yet you constantly complain that some right-wing whackos fill your mailbox with hate-mail. Typical liberal sensitivity is the issue here... disagreement is hate. ::lol:: I do not hate you, I pity you. You seem pretty worried about your job with MSNBC ... justly ... the opinion of the majority has always been against your brand of liberalism, we just are now finding our voice. It's all about ratings bud, who pays the bills for your 1st amendment rights? For one... I do by standing up and doing what you could not or would not do in defending our freedom. Secondly, I do by being a two-income family who just breached the $80K "rich" tax bracket.

I'm not judging you here, I honestly believe the environment you grow up in makes you what you are. I had to make a life for myself through pretty hard odds, where you probably were isolated from the real world and gave your mind over to people who told you how bad everything was without actually living it. My father and grandfathers all served our country in the military, so did their fathers and grandfathers... so have my two brothers. We all knew what we were fighting for, do you? Our blood spilled so your ink can flow, and I would never regret that. I just ask that you give some thanks and allow our voices to be heard as well, in dissent to your frequent rants.

name Matt Taylor


Ralph Nader's Exploratory Committee website says he's deciding now whether to run for president again in 2004 (aka, deciding whether to repeat his tragic error of 2000 by helping give George W. Bush another four years in office and thus at least doing his critics the favor of proving that he's fallen into a black hole of egomania, bad-faith, political solipsism, and crypto-conservatism.) In any case, he's got an online survey now, asking you to tell him how much you want him to run.

Need I say more?

Eric replies: How about one about whether Ralph should move to Zimbabwe?

Name: Danny and Tim

Dear Eric

A high-level source in the low-level basement of Fox News has passed on this memo from a former president of a country to a current chairman of a news network. can't vouch for its authenticity but it sounds about right.


Dear Roger:

One of my CIA interrogators (I call him the good cop, inshallah) was very kind to agree to get this message to you. As you know I have now been moved from one lair to another. They, of course, want me to speak and, speak I will, but as you and I know, in this world, nothing is free anymore, especially speech.

I still remember with pleasure the many "consideration$' that your Fox News Channel provided our Ministry of Information. You got visas. You got access. I even let Geraldo in against my better judgment. (I drew the line at O'Reilly!) And I don't think we disappointed you. Fox is "Number One," thanks to the war in Iraq and the role I played in making it appear to have been a real conflict, a "Showdown with Saddam" (smile, smile, wink, wink).

How many of your viewers did I scare straight to their TV sets? Plenty. How many hit the remote? Very few. I was pleased to read that Fox was again "Number One" in the coverage of my "capture." (Did you like the beard? The "hole thing?" I thought you would.)

So I have a proposal that will benefit us both. What good am I to your viewers dead? Having me around will keep them coming back. And why stop at news coverage? You showed that even a convicted felon like Oliver North could be rehabilitated with a TV slot. Why not me? I am sure you know that the man you called "comical Ali," my minister of Information Al-Sahhaf (I loved the beret -- picked it out myself) now has his own talk show on Abu Dhabi TV. And, praised be the One I praise, it is doing great in all demos. He lost one job and gained another. He is famous for being famous.

I am sure, inshallah, I could do even better for Fox.

The Saddam Show would send your ratings through the roof. Imagine the calls, the hype, the publicity for a show with the man everyone loves to hate. Think of the promos -- "he's bad-and he's back" dun, dun, dun. If the show works, we might discuss a channel. The Pentagon considered the last one I had so powerful that they had to blow it up to tune us out. It did big numbers. It could again.

Please share this proposal with Mr. Murdoch. Give me a year's guarantee, in prime time and I will continue to make TV history for you. You and I both know: bad guys do better, I tried to raise this idea of a TV special between me and Bush when I spoke with Dan Rather before the war but he didn't get it. What do liberals know? CNN was never grateful for all we did for them either. They made a fortune here thanks to the first Gulf War.

Now it is your turn. I know you, and you alone, have the "contacts" to get me out of here.

Don Rumsfeld will hate the idea-initially, but henny penny, he can be brought around. Chalabi could become my Ed McMahon. I already talked to him.

Alas, I have no agent at the moment but I will be happy to become yours. No price is too low. And as you know I passed my last health check: the world knows I have no bugs in my hair or WMD in my mouth. You are beating CNN in America. With me in the line up, you can do the same globally.

Sorry, I have to go. The sodium pentathol is ready.

All praises to thy name. Foxes are always Number One!


PS: Save the signature. You can auction it off on eBay.

Eric also notes: Stupid’s letter was way too long to print (again). Stupid, this is a punishment. Either start your own blog or learn to be concise like Pierce. As my friend the great Tom Marshall famously noted in his 1978 high school yearbook quote, “Self discipline: the key to poker, the key to life.”

Dec. 18, 2003 | 3:30 PM ET

I think we’ve solved the technical issues and everybody’s bookmarks should be back to normal. If I’ve been fired, nobody’s mentioned it to me yet. If you need to set your bookmark again, set it to here.

I went to see Paul Krugman give a talk at a party at the Strand book store last night. He was getting sick, but said a lot of provocative, intelligent things. We had a “spirited” but almost nostalgic exchange about globalization, both admitting that we had been idiots to fight so hard over free trade back in the nineties when right-wing radicals were in the process of taking over the country. Back then, the Times op-ed page was ground zero of high-minded “free trade” attacks on those of us who worried about jobs, the environment, the right to organize, etc. I still think my side was right, but it was kind of silly to be fighting that fight while the far-right was organizing itself for an assault on democracy itself. Anyway, Krugman is a gracious fellow and the country is lucky that he is willing to endure the abuse he attracts for the crime of unmasking the nakedness of our various emperors in a space that—unlike this one—they cannot afford to ignore. (This otherwise fine piece on Robert Bartley, for instance, is marred by a false comparison of the late WSJ editor and Krugman, and is representative of just how far right the discourse has moved. Bartley was a genuine radical who fell in love with romantic theories, evidence be damned. The latter is a trained economist of moderately liberal views who employs evidence in his arguments, rather than Bartley-style innuendo.)

A few observations from my morning paper: (Background was the DVD of the Dead, “Closing of Winterland,” third set, if you want to recreate the effect):

1) Tom Friedman's idea of fairness and balance. "I believe the French president, Jacques Chirac, knows something in his heart: in the run-up to the Iraq war, George Bush and Tony Blair stretched the truth about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction — but they were not alone. Mr. Chirac also stretched the truth about his willingness to join a U.N.-led coalition against Iraq if Saddam was given more time and still didn't comply with U.N. weapons inspections. I don't believe Mr. Chirac ever intended to go to war against Saddam, under any circumstances. So history will record that all three of these leaders were probably stretching the truth.” Note two things. First, look how gingerly Friedman phrases his description of Bush’s deliberate deception of the country in order to trick it into war. Try it yourself. “I cannot stretch the truth. I cut down that cherry tree.” But more significantly, note the comparison. The first part of Friedman’s point is based on fact, however gently he puts it. The second is pure conjecture, unproven and unprovable, since Bush rushed the world into war before giving the containment/inspections regime a chance to work. But Friedman treats what he “believes” that Chirac “knows in his heart” on the same plane with what the entire world knows to be true based on evidence. And this man is not only the most influential foreign affairs writer in America, but is also considered a “liberal.” Reels the mind.

2) Even better, Bush does not care if he misled the nation to war and neither, judging by the placement of this and so many other articles, does the SCL New York Times.

3) 38 percent of Americans are completely nuts. Well, if you believe the SCLM they are. That figure is the percentage of Americans “who say they do not believe that Mr. Bush was legitimately elected.” Yet inside the media, anyone who gives voice to this view is considered crazy, recidivist, and driven by a disease diagnosed as  “Bush Hatred.” Quick, call your spin doctor.

4) Safire fooled again. You would think that purely for reasons of mathematical probability, you could come up with a single significant Iraq-Al Qaida meeting. But no, Safire, Cheney, the Weekly Standard, et al., continue to mislead their readers driven by ideological fantasies, and the Times continues to print them, sans correction. (For more on the Iraq-Al Qaida non-connection see my American Progress column here today and here after today where you will find a bunch of excellent columns by other people archived as well.)

5) The paper has never come clean about just how egregiously bad its coverage was of the Wen Ho Lee matter. If it had, it would be deserving of a great deal more sympathy for resisting court orders and the like…

6) Oh Yeah, the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the past hundred years continues to rage, ho hum. Give money here for goodness sake. Take that money you were going to waste on gaycatholictoryGAPmodel bloggers who credit themselves with freeing the people of Iraq and save a few lives instead.

And this, from my other paper, where Fouad Ajami writes, “Iraq, we must admit, has tested our resolve. We have not found weapons of mass destruction, and we may never do so. We found a measure of gratitude, but not quite enough. What we found was a country envenomed by a dictatorship perhaps unique in its brutality in the post-World War II world.”  REALLY? Worse than the Cultural Revolution? Worse than the Khmer Rouge? Worse than North Korea? Stalin? WSJ goes soft on Communism just when it counts ….

Then there’s this, from Publishers’ Lunch.

Dude, Where’s Your Calculator?
Bill O’Reilly had some interesting things to say on the "Today" show yesterday (goaded, in part, by Matt Lauer, who doesn’t seem to know a lot about how sales work himself):

LAUER: "Number one on the best seller list. You have bumped past Al Franken's book. Is there a little ecstasy in that for you?"

Mr. O'REILLY: "We've outsold that guy all over the place. We're running against Hillary for most copies of non-fiction books sold this year. That's who we want to beat, and that's why I'm here talking with you. It's a delightful experience on the 'Today' show as always."

Without resorting to name-calling, those are claims that stand in sharp contrast to, say, a glance at recent Nielsen Bookscan lists. Unless "outsold that guy all over the place" actually means "have sold about half as many units." By those same charts, Clinton has outsold O’Reilly by a little less than three to one.

The following was compiled by Nielsen Bookscan:

1.  The South Beach Diet - 2,304,608
2.  A Purpose Driven Life - 1,507,902
3.  Living History - 1,084,520
4.  Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution - 836,043
5.  Lies and The Lying Liars Who Tell Them - 674,024
6.  Who's Looking Out for You - 430,407

Quote of the Day:

"There is no other cure than to kill Matt Drudge," O'Reilly charged on the Imus in the Morning radio show.

"I just want to tell everybody that Matt Drudge is smoking crack - right now, in South Miami Beach on Washington Avenue... And the authorities should know it."

Correspondents’ Corner:

Name: jon guillory
Hometown: NY
eric: is the man a homo? if the flight suit wasnt enuf, recall the man was a male cheerleader at Andover. pretty much says it all.

Dec. 17, 2003 |

I can’t really tell if the proper links and bookmarks are working yet. I got a lot of nice mail yesterday, from people who felt bad about the abuse I get paid to take--which is what makes it OK, by the way--and thanks for that, but many of these same people complained that they had to spend a great deal of time finding the site. So it seems as we are still “laboring” at least partially in oblivion. This address should always work. In the meantime, here are a few odds and ends to keep us all occupied while we waiting to be restored to our regular programming.

Here’s a new report from Amnesty International charging that in 2002, the Bush Administration violated the spirit of its own export policy and approved the sale of equipment implicated in torture to Yemen, Jordan, Morocco and Thailand, despite the countries' documented use of such weapons to punish, mistreat and inflict torture on prisoners. The U.S. is also alleged to have handed suspects in the 'war on terror' to the same countries. There’s more

This brings to mind many wisecracks, but the reality is really too grim for that.

My friend Kai Bird and Marty Sherwin have an oped on


1)      Warren Zevon, The Wind

1)      Concert for George (available on cd)

1)      The Count Basie Box

1)      “Caroline or Change” by Tony Kushner at the Public Theater, NYC

1)      Let it Be… Naked

I’ll try to do books and films soon. Meanwhile, Fred Kaplan’s jazz choices are

And a bunch of people have written in to ask about

Eric replies: Good one. My only fear is that when the history of the “Operation Iraqi Freedom” is written, future historians will fail to credit gaycatholictoryGAPmodel bloggers with their crucial role in “facing down the evil, the cowardly and the simply misguided.” Thanks for the snowstorm, too, bub.

Name: howard

Eric: It might be more persuasive to link the album or artist with the artists they influenced, so here are a few "links:"

Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music - leads to the early 60s folk revival, which leads to Bob Dylan (who leads to singer songwriters, the Band, Patti Smith, and Jimi Hendrix' decision that if Dylan can sing, Jimi can sing, among other things)

Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters' early Chess albums - lead to Yardbirds, who lead to Cream (who lead to Eric Clapton) and Led Zeppelin, who lead to everything from Kiss to Guns n Roses and Metallica). Along with Stax Volt, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, also lead to the Rolling Stones, who lead to Aerosmith and GNR, among other things. All of the above lead to Jimi Hendrix, who is sui generis, but "Are You Experienced" and "Electric Ladyland" influence producers and guitar players everywhere to this day.

James Brown "live at the Apollo" - leads to funk music and George Clinton, who leads to Rap and Hip Hop, as well as Sly & the Family Stone. "Stand" leads to electric Miles Davis, and partially to  Prince, among other things. "1999" is one key blueprint for 80s and 90s R&B.

Early Sun Records singles & LPs ("Mystery Train," "Honey Don't," "Whole Lotta Shakin'") - lead to the Beatles' rockabilly side and Creedence Clearwater Revival (who lead to No Depression, and Wilco's rockabilly side)

Motown ("Money"), Little Richard ("Kansas City / Hey Hey Hey") & Ray Charles ("What'd I say") singles & LPs - lead to the Beatles R & B side and contemporary funk and R&B.

"Meet The Beatles" - Wipes out the folk revival and leads to British invasion and eventually Album Oriented Rock.

"Sgt. Pepper's" - Leads to psychedelia, San Francisco bands (although GD starts out as a jug / blues band, and Jefferson Airplane / Hot Tuna owes much to Harry Smith), Traffic, Procol Harem, Moody Blues, and eventually AOR.

"Velvet Underground & Nico" - leads to Television, REM, Talking Heads, Patti Smith, Eno, Roxy Music, David Bowie's VU side, Mott the Hoople, New York Dolls, Lou Reed and tortured artists ever since, and eventually AOR.

Doo Wop ("In the Still of the Night") & Chuck Berry ("Livin in the USA") - Lead to the Beach Boys, surf music (which leads to the Pixies, who lead to Nirvana) and "Pet Sounds," which leads to tortured artists ever since. Chuck also leads to John Lennon and Keith Richards.

Hank Williams, Buck Owens and Patsy Cline lead to Gram Parsons & The Flying Burrito Bros ("Gilded Palace of Sin") which leads to the Grateful Dead's country side, CSN&Y, the later Byrds, and unfortunately, the Eagles, who lead to the current sorry state of Country music and AOR.

Obviously, this could go on for awhile, so I leave you with a final link: Rufus Thomas ("Walkin' the Dog"), Phil Spector (let's say "Da Do Ron Ron") and Woody Guthrie ("This Land is Your Land") lead to Bruce Springsteen.

Happy New Year -

Dec. 16, 2003 |
Posting is going to be light for a few days while figures out how to get our readers back. Something technical has happened that has prevented most regular readers of Altercation from finding the site. I don’t quite understand it, but I keep hearing from people who want to know if I’ve been fired. Moreover 99 percent of yesterday’s mail was hostile-to-abusive which means it was discovered by accident or sent over by LITTLE ROY COHN, who is giving out awards to those whose patriotism is insufficiently belligerent and breast-beating to meet his exacting standards. In any case, all I want to say this morning is that HOWARD DEAN IS ABSOLUTELY, UNARGUABLY CORRECT when he notes that the capture of Saddam makes America no safer. America was never threatened by Iraq. Every single one of the scare tactics employed by the administration in their game of bait and switch designed to exploit the trauma of 9/11 to deploy the neocons’ longtime plan to invade Iraq has proven an exaggeration, a chimera or a lie. There were no WMDs; no nukes, and no connections to Al Qaida. Saddam was being effectively contained at the moment George Bush chose to plunge the world into war. Meanwhile, the men who attacked us REMAIN FREE TO DO SO AGAIN—in part due to the fact that we have wasted our resources—and the world’s good will--on Bush’s Iraqi obsession. And we are hardly much better prepared than we were last time. Our nuclear and chemical plants remain all but unprotected; so too our ports and infrastructure. Our first responders are untrained and our cities starved for resources to defend themselves. The mass media might not remember that a “war on terrorism” is supposed to address actual terrorists, but we at Altercation do. Capturing Saddam Hussein is a blow for justice; and it will be a good thing for Iraqis, no doubt. But if all this war was about was making Iraqis safer, well, then, Bush should have said so. But then, of course, it would never have happened. And we would all be better off.

In the meantime, if Cheney’s ticker prevents another run, Bush should replace him with JOE LIEBERMAN. Nobody right now is doing more for the president’s first honest election victory than the Wall Street Journal’s favorite Democrat. And oh yeah, TWO CAR BOMBS went off yesterday killing six Iraqi policemen and wounding twenty more, and an American soldier was killed on Sunday by a roadside bomb near Baghdad; the same day a car bomb exploded in Khaldiya, killing 17 police officers. Didn’t anyone tell these guys we won the war?

Want more good news? Here’s our Quote of the Day: “"Lots of people did not want to join the resistance because they did not want to be called Saddam supporters. But now all the people who oppose the Americans will join." That's from Ibrahim Mutlak, director of police patrols for Salahadin Province, where Mr. Hussein's hometown, Tikrit, is located

Alter-recommendation: WHAT ALICE FOUND, the kind of indie movie that's almost impossible to get made and released anymore. Smartly written, sweetly acted and directed, and dripping with quiet, unflashy integrity.

Correspondents’ Corner:


I read your item about Horowitz . The thing about Horowitz that I never see is anything questioning his radical credentials back in the '70s. But as someone who was seriously over the edge and living in Oakland at the time, I can tell you that his miraculous conversion upon hearing about the murder of a woman he'd introduced to the Panthers is such a joke.

It happened, I believe, in 1974. And by 1974, the only white people hanging around the Panthers in Oakland were groupies who liked drooling around muscles and guns -- seriously, EVERYONE knew that there was not one radical thing to be found in the Newton end of that
chapter. They had the Intercommunal HQ out on E 14th near 64th Ave. and I used to go there once a week as an activist in a committee to get the cops who killed a 14-year-old kid in '73 indicted for something -- anything -- and the place was loaded up with gangsters who were in love with their own power.

Years later, as a music journalist, I would occasionally run into Tupac while he was with Digital Underground; same thing. And the appeal to white radicals in the '74 installment of the Panthers was no different than a 2003 wigga carrying equipment for Jay Z. They had no political practice, Huey was about to head to UCSC to get a Ph.d studying Huey Thought, and a couple of idiots (like Horowitz and Ken Kelly) were onboard to bask in the then-5-year-old warmth of the Panther's legacy. I could detail the whole thing, but I'm deadline. But the bottom line is that if it took Horowitz til '74 to figure it out, he was something, but it sure wasn't radical.
    J.H. "Tommy" Tompkins, Arts Editor

And what does it all mean? takes a stab at this question and comes up with "either not much, or a lot, depending...." I concur.

On the other hand, now that the Bush administration has the world’s attention, Saddam’s capture offers them the opportunity to reverse course on just about everything and begin to ameliorate some of the catastrophes caused by the arrogance, mendacity, ideological obsession and incompetence. Yeah, right. In the meantime, let’s all hope for a speedy recovery for Colin Powell.

Speaking of whom, last night at the 137

Thanks to everybody, particularly Pierce, who stepped in for a second Altercation at the last minute when an Alternate Altercator decided he had a magazine to run. In the meantime, I published a Nation column on the

While you’re there, check out their new report,

And William R. Pitt wrote up the same “John Kerry” meeting I attended

Finally, judging by the mail, a lot of you are complaining about the lists I published of the most influential albums since Elvis without clicking on the original list. It’s