Sunday, April 04, 2010

Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines

"Single-payer advocates like you and me were props for him all along," writes Matthew Rothschild ("Editor’s Note," The Progressive, April 2010) in the latest of his awakening pieces regarding everyone's BFF Barack Obama. But experience gives a little enlightenment, experience takes a little way. That would be the best explanation for the interview Matthew Rothschild conducts with actress Edie Falco in which Falco insists that health care is "something I care about," that "it is unacceptable that in a country with this kind of money and the kind of excess we're capable of, there are people who just can't go to the doctor when they need to," "I'm 100% behind it" and on and on.

She's 100% behind what? That would be the obvious question. Is she for single-payer? Is she for a strong or weak public option? Is she for ObamaCare?

We learn she's against "sitting in waiting rooms" (aren't we all, Eddie?) and that she "went to Washington and spoke at Health Care for America Now and campaigned for Obama, where we talked a lot about health care issues" -- but what she actually stands for? We never learn.

As a primer, The Progressive works this month. As anything else? Let’s just be kind and say it’s better than the latest issue of The Nation which we all judged far too embarrassing to include in our latest check-in on what the political journals consider issues. The Nation was, in fact, so appalling that we were desperate to figure out exactly what was on its guiding light’s mind: Katrina vanden Heuvel.

Fortunately, Katty-van-van had contributed a brief essay to the latest issue of Dissent (Winter 2010). Both pompous and laughable, Dissent headlines a few brief essays by various minor voices as "Intellectuals and Their America." What does it mean for Katty?

She's concerned, she explains, about "what relationship should American intellectuals have toward mass culture". She also insists that there's no recognizable group of intellectuals in the US -- and don't scoff, remember the lightweight just got labeled an intellectual herself by Dissent. A woman known for the political equivalent of Jokes For The John, no less. Fortunately, she confesses she's in agreement with the vast majority of Americans: "I also don't consider myself an intellectual." She suggests that "progressives" "should stop congratulating themselves for cottoning to the Internet just a tiny bit faster than the Right and devote themselves to collectively mastering and diffusing liberation technologies."

Heady words for the woman who green lights scare tactic covers each election season. We’d go further but anyone who hails habitual liar and professional Scott Baio look-alike Rachel Maddow as an intellectual doesn't have a great deal to say.

As with Katty, so with Dissent. So we moved on to The New Republic whose cover illustration featured an adorable baby in a panda jumper and the headline: "BEHOLD CHINA Repressive at Home. Aggressive Abroad. Driving Obama Nuts." James Mann, might we suggest that your article could also appear in China Today with just a few revisions. For example, your headline could be "BEHOLD THE UNITED STATES Repressive at Home. Aggressive Abroad. Driving the World Nuts."

Jonathan Chait continues to waste the world's time. "Lawyer Up" is Chait's idea of a worthy column. He's addressing the apparently surprising fact that Liz Cheney would strongly defend her father. We're not fans of Dick Cheney (and, in fact, C.I. flipped Cheney off to his face in late 2001) but we don't begrudge Liz Cheney her right to defend her father. Nor do we fret that she leaves the factual realm to do so. She's merely following in the footsteps of The Littlest Nixon (Tricia).

We marveled over Michelle Cottle's ability to put xenophobic Janet Napolitano in soft glow but, then, the illustration did as well. Mainly, we noted the Big Pharma ad (from PhRMA) and remembered that when Randy Andy Sullivan ruled The New Republic they at least had the back cover feature Antonio Sabato Jr. in his brief undies.

From the insanity of the center-almost-left to the left, we were picking up Extra put out by so-called Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting. "You must remember this," insists the March 2010 cover -- spitting upon both Casablanca and "As Time Goes By." They want you to remember that "Giuliani 'forgets' September 11 attacks." Uh, no, it doesn't rank up there with classic films, classic love affairs or classic songs. But it does inform you of what FAIR is truly obsessed with. Having been slammed by us already for charging $3.95 for so few pages, it practically offers a double issue this week: 16 pages . . . If you count the cover as page one.

That said, our freaks at FAIR offer the only article worth reading in the political journals this month: Dahr Jamail's "The New 'Forgotten' War" -- not only the only article worth reading, the only article we could find on Iraq. Remember that point because Dahr's focusing on the MSM silence about Iraq but we've just worked our way through various left publications and found nothing.

Since it's become so rare that we have anything good to say about FAIR let's move quickly on before Jess notes that FAIR always does a good job of featuring Dahr's writing, especially in e-mails, eh, Jim Naureckas?

So we move to the right, to Reason's April 2010 issue which, unlike The Nation, strives to do what Katrina claimed to try to do in her Dissent essay: Tell the truth. That’s apparently a lot easier to do when you have no political pinup of your own in the White House -- pay attention, Katty. And pay attention to Matt Welch's delightful "Bailing Out Big Brother" which repeatedly shows you how Robert McChesney and his sometimes foil John Nichols have not just been "wrong," they've been "spectacularly wrong." We sort of picture John Nichols running through Madison, angrily ripping copies of Reason from magazine racks.
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