I got my first Dead Kennedys T-shirt in 1985 and have been a Michael Savage listener for years, so I am well-equipped to comment on your recent interview with Jello Biafra.
I cannot defend Savage’s black celebration of Senator Ted Kennedy’s illness, but I would suggest that it is hardly in poorer taste than Biafra’s “California Über Alles” (“Come quietly to the camp/You’d look nice as a drawstring lamp/. . . die on organic poison gas”).
More important, Savage’s unfortunate attempts at cage-rattling humor are less likely to be damaging to American and world society than the perennial splitting within the progressive left, of which “California Über Alles” is a classic example, with its dubious portrayal of Jerry Brown as a “hippie Nazi.” The analogous failure of the Socialists and the Communists to transcend their differences facilitated the rise of European fascism in the early 20th century. With the benefit of hindsight, I think even Biafra would agree that Brown would have been much better for the US than the president with whom we ended up.
I thank you for your attention and, if it’s not too much trouble, I’d like Jello to autograph my “Holiday in Cambodia” T-shirt.
Michael S. Hanau
Iran not so far away?
Thank you for your piece on the coming attack on Iran. I recently attended a Nation Institute event, “True Crimes: the Untold Story Behind the Devastation of Iraq,” moderated by Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. Fellow speakers Pulitzer Prize–winner Chris Hedges, journalist Laila Al-Arian, and Blackwater author Jeremy Scahill were all very articulate about the realities of this war and the privatization of the military. But after answering several questions about these topics, the audience became restless and started to call out for addressing the plans to bomb Iran.
Hersh did not want to go there, citing professional obligations regarding upcoming work, but he was pushed by the audience. He spoke of the present Israeli administration and the talks with Syria. Essentially, he said, separating “Syria from the herd” would create a Sunni-versus-Shiite dynamic that would set up the scenario for the attack. He was reticent about scooping himself, but his body language spoke volumes to those of us who have observed him over the years. What he did say was this (I’m paraphrasing here):
No four-star general can stop Cheney.
The attack may come at a time when it is most useful to boost John McCain’s faltering candidacy.
This administration will be lethal until 11:59 on January 20.
And with his head in his hand, he said: never in the history of our country have we faced anything like this.
There was a series of “holy shit” moments for the several hundred people in the audience. It felt like a bullet we thought we’d dodged did a U-turn in midair and is now headed back at us.
Montclair, New Jersey
Regarding Steven Stark’s position that John McCain should choose Mike Bloomberg for vice-president: what about the chance of Barack Obama picking him? Bloomberg is really closer to Obama on most of the issues than he is to McCain. His mayoral experience would help counter Obama’s lack of experience. And Obama’s is a campaign devoted to change and bipartisanship — what better way to send that message than by picking a Republican veep? This could pull in enough Republicans and Independents without alienating his die-hard fan base, rather than picking, say, a John Edwards or a Joe Lieberman on a prayer of winning a Southern state. In an election this wacky, Obama might just be crazy enough to do it.