Sunday, June 20, 2010

Political mag roundup

In the June 2010 edition of The Progressive, the most interesting piece appears on page six and is written by David Pino. Excerpt:

Since the harmful Presidency of Ronald Reagan, we have had two Democratic Presidents, both of them elected solely on the basis of having more pleasing personalities than their Republican opponents. Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama campaigned largely (although not entirely) as progressives, and then governed like warmed-over Republicans. In Obama's case, the situation is dire; he seems to be doing nothing more than wring his hands, while occasionally remarking that he certainly does wish that the Republicans would somehow come together with the Democrats to get something done.
[. . .]
As a lifelong (nearly seven decades) liberal Democrat, I call upon all progressives to come out of their terrible case of denial, and recognize the truth: The Democratic Party is dead. It has sold out to the same lobbyists to which the Republicans have been willing and eager slaves for more than a century.

Sadly, David Pino has not been added to the staff of The Progressive. In fact, his commentary appears in "Letters to the Editor." If magazine CEO Matthew Rothschild were smart, he'd post that letter, in full, online. It's one of the best political commentaries published on the left in some time.

Take for example, the contrasting bulls**t Rothschild serves up on the cover and in the lead article (written by Rothschild) which not only misrepresents what Noam Chomsky said [see our April 18th "Editorial: The problem with (not) listening"] but also tries to further undermine Chomsky's message as Matty rushes off to left turncoat Chip Berlet (Biggest Whore of the 20th Century -- he won that award chiefly for stabbing the Christic Institute in the back) who launches yet another fact-free attack on the American people -- including Andrew Joseph Stack and here Berlet's words are especially at odds with what Chomsky stated in his speeches -- so that Matty can whore. Matty, you need to find your bravery. Yeah, you get attacked when you tell a little truth about Barack. But if you told the full truth, you might find those subscribers that started leaving in 2007 and continued through 2008 and 2009 might return. But your candy ass efforts at serving up dollops of criticism are not going to convince them that you have stopped being in the tank for Barack. Neither will deliberately distorting the words of Noam Chomsky.

Running from the insanity to what we hope will be another staid issue of Harper's magazine (July 2010), we find the magazine still full of self-pats for 'tackling' the 'difficult' issue of cheating golf players ("Kudus to Lewis Laphim . . ."). Neither timely nor brave, Harper's more and more seems the magazine homeroom teachers utilize as punishment. In The Progressive, professional hobbit Dave Zirin was working himself into a frenzy about how -- after this column! -- he'd never again mention the Arizona Diamondbacks! Never! In Harper's, Ken Salazar gets the memo and turns a hateful eye to the state. We wonder how long it will be to all this hatred leads to Arizona students being booed at out-of-state contests? When it happens, remember that it was Davey and Kenny who encouraged America to hate All Things Arizona -- as opposed to just those who supported a law. (Fairness dictates that we also note the law is supported by the majority of US citizens.) Meanwhile Suki Kim serves up seven pages in praise of those who defected from North Korea. Maybe Suki can help citizens of adefect and then they too can get some love from Harper's?

Extra! is put out by the laughably entitled FAIR (in 2015, when all the hucksters are long gone from MSNBC, FAIR's going to have a really hard time explaining how they stayed silent for over ten years on the antics of Olbermann, et al). This month, in an appeal to your funny bone, they issue the '16' paged "SPECIAL ISSUE ON MEDIA & INEQUALITY." (Sixteen pages if you count the cover as page one and the ad for FAIR on the back cover as page 16.)

Maybe it's a 'special issue' because our penpal Jim Naureckas doesn't offer up one of his dippy notes this issue?

The bitchery Janine, Steve and Peter engage in at the top of FAIR's CounterSpin each week is recycled as "SoundBites" and, like many a reheated left over, this second-serving does not suddenly make it appetizing. As always the letters page is a joke. Extra! has about fourteen readers which requires that the magazine publish lengthy letters from those they've 'covered' objecting to misrepresentations. This leaves precious space for "great article" type letters. Fortunately, in a year's time span, all 14 Extra! readers can be recognized at least once.

Simplistic articles follow, one after the other, little, quick pieces, which treat a serious issue in the most lackadaisical manner. Anyone looking for illumination won't find it in Extra! or, for that matter, in the June 21st issue of The Nation where the biggest problem appears to be, judging (yes) by the cover, "THE DEATH AND LIFE OF THE BOOK REVIEW." The cover 'story' is nothing but John Palattella adapting his lecture on the cutbacks by newspapers and magazines in book review sections. Lotta wah wah. Who really cares?

Seriously, The Nation raised the issue so let's go there. The Nation offers arts reviews . . . not informed ones, but they offer them. If the choice is, for example, suffering through a Nation magazine slam on Courtney Love that can't even get the number of tracks on the album allegedly being reviewed correct or having nothing, maybe "NOTHING" is the better answer. Why are they dying?

Because people aren't reading them. They can find better online. And online, if they find a mistake, they can usually get a correction. The Nation refused to correct, for example, their awful Courtney Love review. The New York Times, for example, was presented with a list of 16 errors in a Janet Jackson article -- sixteen factual errors -- and they issued a correction on how many? One. Newsweek, embracing pop culture in the nineties, did a feature on S&M and had Chandler Bing (Friends) handcuffing a woman to a chair in her office. Problem is, Chandler was the one handcuffed, not the woman. When the error was pointed out to two editors of Newsweek at a party, the editors responded that it was only TV. Meaning arts coverage didn't need to be factual.

That's why the arts coverage has died in print. They've refused to adapt to changing times which demand that facts be correct.

Nowhere in Palattella's five-page whine will you find those or any other examples that address why people turned away from the 'arts coverage' in the MSM. They still get it online, they still get it in magazines whose sole purpose is to cover entertainment. Where they don't want it is from the outlets that act like they're slumming by covering the arts. Can't say we blame them.

Free Inquiry's latest is the June-July issue. And Paul R. Gross' review of Robert Wright's The Evolution of God, Ronald A. Lindsay's review of Karen Armstrong's The Case for God and Daniel M. Kane's review of Michael Parenti's God and His Demons establish that, far from The Nation, book reviews can be done and can be a thrill to read. Free Inquiry should be considered this month's magazine read due to the plethora of well written articles the issue contains. Our vote for best of the issue is Wendy Kaminer's "Is Silence Prayer?" and we'll excerpt the opening:

All through elementary school, I recited the mandatory New York State school prayer, every day. I can still remember my relief at is mysterious elimination. No one told us that the Surpeme Court had invalidated the prayer (in Engel v. Vitale, in 1962); our teachers simply expunged it from our morning routine. I had always hated compulsary recitation (regardless of what was being recited), and when we stopped saying the prayer, it occured to me that I should stop saying the Pledge as well, which I did -- although after a brief ruckus I agreed to stand silently, hands at my side, while my classmates pledged.

From the high of a magazine worth reading, we felt the let down (crash landing?) that is The New Republic. In their deluded minds, an illustration of Barack pulling a bull by a chain in the bull's nose ring perfectly captures the way Barack has 'dealt' with Wall Street. In their minds. When the laughter dies, you realize that they are geared up for the election year and they will have nothing of value even more than usual because they are a bible -- The Democratic Centrist Bible.

On magazine racks currently, the only thing worth your money is Free Inquiry. Purchasing the other political magazines is like burning cash and, in this economy, no one can afford that.
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