Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dane Cook's Disease

A devastating new disease sweeping across America. Watch this sad, but informative, video, then find out more at this website.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Eric Alterman's new line of greeting cards

There’s not much I can say about Brendan’s spat with Eric Alterman last week. I think both their words speak for themselves.

But something really cool has come out of it. Apparently a few other political blog readers and I weren’t the only ones who were paying attention. I’ve got a friend who works at American Greetings and apparently the executives there were so impressed by Alterman’s writing style that they are creating a whole new line of greeting cards based on him. My source told me they have a tentative name and marketing slogan:

AlterCards – For the pretentious ass who’s never wrong

Catchy, huh? The first AlterCards apparently won't come out until next year. But Alterman, who is serving as a consultant on the project, has already started to deliver sample text. My source got me a copy of the material they are using for the first card, which executives expect to be very popular amongst pretentious asses who are never wrong: Belated birthday wishes.

Apparently Alterman gave the American Greetings folks a letter that he recently sent to his grandmother to use as the basis for the card. Names and details will, of course, be left vague in the final version.

Compared to typical greeting cards, this is very long. But when you’re getting text from a writer of Eric Alterman’s stature, you hardly expect 10 words, do you?

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Dear Grandmother,

I heard from a mutual friend that you woke up the other morning and decided it would be a good idea to join in Rush Limbaugh's campaign of vilification against Media Matters by complaining that I haven’t wished you a happy birthday. To someone who is familiar with me and my work, this claim is patently absurd. In my six books and many thousands of articles, columns and blog posts over the past twenty-five years, I have repeatedly argued against privatization of the Social Security and Medicare systems and other policies that would harm senior citizens such as yourself.

Not long ago I was attending a dinner party in Manhattan where the topic of aging came up over the third glass of an excellent pinot noir that I brought from my most recent trip to wine country. Though I am always reluctant to mention famous people I know, I was pressured to discuss my long acquaintanceship with the pre-eminent philosopher Richard Rorty, who had recently passed away. Dick faced the end of his life with grace and class, finding time to leave a few final marks of his brilliance on the world, such as a recommendation letter he wrote for me. You, of course, are hardly Dick Rorty, Grandmother. But my respect for the aged and interest in discussing your demographic with powerful pundits at a dinner party benefits your life much more than a mere card with the words “Happy Birthday!” that I could have bought for $1.59 at the local drug store chain, where the workers most likely don’t earn a living wage or have access to health insurance.

Given that I am just finishing my seventh book and continue to update my hugely popular blog Altercation, located at mediamatters.org/altercation, while still serving as a Distinguished Professor of English, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, Professor of Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC, where I write and edit the “Think Again” column, senior fellow (since 1985) at the World Policy Institute at The New School in New York, and a history consultant to HBO Films, I'd not be surprised if I may have forgotten your birthday, though this card is not an admission that I did.

However, in charging that I “forgot” your birthday, your cluelessness is aiding and abetting a campaign led by Limbaugh and others to delegitimize Media Matters and the careful work it does. One cannot depend on either the intelligence or the good will of those in the MSM and conservative media not to use your nonsense for the purposes of further manipulation and misrepresentation. Shame on you.

Best wishes to Grandpa.

Love,

Eric Alterman, PhD

Woody's first celebrity interview

OK, it's someone who's on Fox late night on Saturdays. But it was still really cool to write, shoot, edit.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Worst campaign sales pitch ever

A few hours ago I got a call from an Obama fund raiser asking if I would help to "restore hope" to our country by giving $150 or whatever I can afford. I was kind of curious to hear how the sales pitch would continue, so rather than just hang up, I explained that I don't want to give Senator Obama money because I support a different candidate. I didn't have a pen or keyboard in front of me so the following isn't verbatim, but I still found her canned response -- obviously listed under "what to say if the caller says s/he supports another candidate in the primary" -- very interesting:

That's OK, because if it turns out that he doesn't win the primary, Senator Obama plans to donate all of his remaining campaign funds to whoever is the Democratic party nominee. So your donation will not only help to restore hope, it will help ensure that the eventual Democratic nominee is elected.


First of all, does that work on anybody? I'm sure any losing candidate who has leftover campaign funds will donate them to other Democrats, quite possibly the presidential candidate, or else their own campaign for senate or governor or whatever. So if I want to support the Democrats, why wouldn't I give my money to the one I actually hope is the nominee? That's the worst logic I've ever heard to donate money to a candidate who isn't my first choice.

Secondly, I wonder how the millions of people who actually support Barack Obama would feel knowing that their candidate's sales pitch is: "Give money to me. If I don't use it, I'll pass it onto Hillary Clinton." He certainly hasn't announced that publicly before as far as I know.

Ironically, I think the only way anyone could convince me to donate to Obama at this point would be if he gave up on his policy of eschewing negative campaigning and convinced me that donating to him is the most effective way to stop Hillary Clinton from winning the nomination.