Thursday, October 20, 2005

My interview with Wally

Good morning. Posting delayed due to typing up this interview. (I hate typing.) I'll have an entry this evening but no way to finish this last night. We've got the interview with Wally of The Daily Jot. But first, two items from Democracy Now! that you should know about.

Baltimore Tunnel Threat Turns Out to Be Hoax
For the second time in as many weeks, the credibility of an intelligence threat that led to a terror scare in a major metropolitan city in the United States is being questioned. Two major car tunnels were closed in Baltimore Tuesday following information gleaned from an informant in FBI custody. But intelligence officials now say the informant's warning appears to have been an attempt to exact revenge on a Maryland resident he named as one of eight suspects for being involved with his girlfriend. All eight suspects were Egyptian-born Maryland residents. Last week, a terror scare led to a heightened alert and increased security presence on New York City's subways. Officials later conceded the intelligence that led to the threat warning was a hoax.

Chertoff Pledges Crackdown on Undocumented Immigrants
Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff is promising to immediately deport all undocumented immigrants caught in the United States. Chertoff vowed to end the so-called "catch and release" policy that has reportedly allowed 10,000 undocumented immigrants to remain in the country. Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Chertoff said : "If they think that they can come across the border and get released, they're going to keep coming... Return every single illegal entrant - no exceptions." Chertoff made the announcement shortly before President Bush signed the $32 billion homeland security bill. The Associated Press reports the bill includes a large increase in border patrol funding but less money for local emergency first responders and a freeze in transit security funding.

Check out Elaine for commentary on the above two things.

There were nine community sites last Friday:

The Common Ills
Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
The Third Estate Sunday Review
Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man
Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
Mikey Likes It!
Cedric's Big Mix
Like Maria Said Paz
Seth in the City

Saturday, the number rose to ten when Wally started
The Daily Jot. I'm talking to Wally.

Wally: For the hour!

For the hour!!

For the hour! We better stop or that'll be your whole interview.

Okay, but let me drop back and explain that we're doing Larry King and that the first time we spoke on the phone, Larry King was on in the background and you were doing your impersonation of him. Now whenever we're on the phone, we'll do dueling Larry Kings. Now let me say, Why you gotta make Cedric and me come off like fools?

(Laughing) Ouch. You're talking about your interview with Cedric where you were trying to figure out who the two new bloggers would be and one of you says "Oh, I know it's not Wally."

Cedric says that. What's up with that Wally? Why you gotta front like that?

You knew about Seth.

Right. C.I. told me about Seth but I didn't know you were planning to start up.

It's one of those things you think about but you're not sure you can pull off so you don't talk about it too much.

What weren't you sure of? That you could do it every day?

Man, I didn't want to do like you and put in all this time. I mean, I don't have it, you know, the time. But I did want to do something and like a fortune cookie for the left is how Gina sees it.

A fortune cookie for the left? I like it. So you just wanted to do a line or two each day?

Right. I can make time for that. I can handle that.

Why The Daily Jot title? I've got readers who think you're taking a poke at Bob Somerby.

He wishes! No. The Daily Jot because it's just a jot. It's not even fair to call it a jotting. And the hope is to do it five times a week. In a way, it's like the thing Will Durst does at The Progressive but not as funny. It's not like an op-ed or a report, it's just a jot. Hopefully several times a week.

Any thoughts on The Daily Howler?

It's sad to see someone trash his own work by making himself so useless. You're thinking of the interview I did of C.I. for the gina & krista round-robin?

Yeah, and to back up there, I was going to interview C.I. here and you were going to do an interview for the round-robin but then something came up, I lost my interview and you're the only one in the community to do an interview with C.I.

Besides Beth.

Right, but Beth is the ombudsman. Back to The Daily Howler.

Well, it's like C.I. and I discussed in the round-robin interview. How do you miss Judy Miller? You're covering the press and you don't write one damn word on it. Until Wilson comes along and even then. How do you miss that? What's the biggest journalistic story of our time? Probably this decade will be Judith Miller and her WMD coverage but Bob Somerby's got nothing. That's his beat. That's what he's supposed to cover. Where the hell was he? That's a huge embarrassment. Now he wants to come along and piss all over the people raising issues and, me, I wonder how much of it has to do with the fact that he was sleeping on the job and missed the biggest story of the decade. Not just big because people talk about it but big because it was a stepping stone to war, not the only one, others played along too. But I mean, we're at war, Bob Somerby's fucking useless. He's a dottering old man saying, "Billy Kristol made a point the other day" or some other crap. He's useless. Take away his keys, he shouldn't be driving anymore. He's an old crank telling you the same old story for the 80th time and it's disgusting. "Bill Clinton in 1993 . . ." It's like, shine it on somewhere else you old fool. I mean, we are at war, people are dying and he wants to write about how nice his friend Mary Matilin is. It's like, "Shut up, go away." It's like the book by John Le Carre, The Russia House, where Katya tells Barley that she hopes he's not being frivilous because she only has time in her life for the truth. That's what a reader of Bob Somerby has to be thinking these days -- that he's just frivilous now and that in life right now, there just isn't time for that.


Because we have troops on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq and he's stuck jerking off on election 2000. And day after day, he's lecturing and making fun of all these people trying to say something like Atrios or Digby -- I don't even know Digby and never read him or her but I know I got sick of hearing Digby trashed -- when all he has to say is "My friend Al Gore" or "let's talk about test scores." I mean in his geezer circuit it's probably passing for news, the junk he's talking about. But where has he been on Judith Miller and where has been on Iraq period? That mattered in the last few years and matters right now. Not that Maureen Dowd told a joke he didn't like. And the roundtable, I read that thing and I started thinking, "Yeah, why is he trashing women all the damn time?" You can tell C.I.'s sick of him. That was obvious when C.I. pointed out that Katrina vanden Heuvel was right and that Bob was wrong. Bob's wrong a lot but what is it, one correction in a year?

How is he wrong a lot?

He argues his opinion and with guys it's like "Okay so this is my opinion and maybe you have a point" but with women it's like "You're stupid! You're an idiot!" And what's the whole "I won't peer into someone's soul" thing that's supposed to be operating principle. Didn't he do that with the woman he was calling out for election 2000 this week? A woman who apparently wasn't established enough to write about it then but Misogynist Bob has to make her the one responsible and keep on about how she would have done the same thing everyone else did. How does he know? He doesn't. But he's not rational when it comes to women. He really reads like a misogynist. You should hear my mom on him.

Really. What does she say?

She says white men of his class who are winding down the middle age years and are sexists tend to think if they throw a crumb here or there that they aren't. And she says that's why he throws to Naomi Klein.

Naomi Wolf.

Wolf. Thank you, Naomi Wolf. Yeah, Naomi Klein doesn't exist in his little neoliberal world of Clintonista. But, and this came up in the interview at the round-robin and C.I. might write about it, he'll sacrifice Wolfe even. He'll never call Eric Alterman out, the lisping scold. Alterman insults Wolf and gets his facts wrong but you'll never hear Bob Somerby call him on that. And we saw that my mom and C.I. are both right on that because today he's quoting his buddy Eric again but he still has never taken the time to say "Eric is wrong about Naomi Wolf." He won't do it. Eric Alterman is so annoying with that lisping voice, he sounds like that cartoon cat.


Right. And he whimpers and acts like he's about to cry. I mean, even on Charlie Rose on PBS he's about to burst into tears. This is our brave voice? It's like, "Go write another bad book about Bruce Springsteen to prove your manhood again, Alterman."

You hate Eric Alterman.

Oh God do I. He's such a pompous little effete thing. It's funny to hear on The Majority Report with Janeane Garofalo where he's trying to act like he's this smart person and strong voice but all he sounds like is a snotty little boy who only knows how to communicate with women by insulting them.

Sounds like Bob Somerby.

Well I've never heard Somerby on the radio but yeah they both love insulting women. Somerby's like a slasher going after Ashley Judd when a woman comes up at The Daily Howler. Men never get that treatment at The Daily Howler, just women. He'll do one of his "David Brooks makes a strong point" and you read that and think, "David Brooks has lied more often than he's told the truth" but he'll always go easy on the men. When it's a woman, he's unreasonable and just getting off on how mean and disgusting he can be. I loved that thing C.I. did yesterday. Put it in.

Okay. This is from The Common Ills yesterday:

Ellen wonders what our latter day, online Dylan would make of that? Oh, Ellie, he's still on his Shot of Love tour, staggering from town to town, making noises about changes but nothing's changed. Despite the claim that it was time for a change in subject matter and focus. Today's targets? Just about everyone.
Which makes the claims about a change dubious. It's a bit like Dylan saying, "I'm thinking of touring with the Band." Or getting back together with Joan Baez. No new Rolling Thunder tour coming but got to keep the people hoping. Today, he's going after Wilson again. And explaining to us that 1992 was the year of change at the New York Times by God! Proving that the professor's grip grows looser and looser. The war on Social Security, the air kisses to Reagan, that's the 1980s but it's easier, apparently, to once again make it all about Clinton and/or Gore. And, point of fact, the Times clowned more often than not the entire last century but the professor missed all of that. He's probably not even aware of their infamous Woodstock coverage which veered down one road, up the other and then circled back. Live by the public record . . .
It's as though, once upon a time, say 1992, he heard, "It all began in a little town called Hope . . ." and he blanked on everything that came before. Was hearing that like Dylan hearing Woody Guthrie for the first time? We just don't know.
The Shot of Love tour goes on (current Dylan meter reading) but ticket sales are down and the limited crowd is shouting out requests.
So he does a song and dance on Arianna Huffington. (Is DA Pennebaker getting any of this on film?)
Once upon a time,
not that long ago,
he clowned and clowned,
but didn't tell you so,
those were the days,
when he penned thinks like,
"we like Arianna, a lot more than most,"
and forgot to shout out "Psyche!"

You put the last part like lyrics to a song right? Because the person C.I. dictated it too ran it together like a paragraph.

Yeah, I put in like lyrics.

But that's so true. It wasn't that long ago that Somerby was saying something like "we like Arianna a lot more than most" and then on Tuesday, you find out how much he hates her as he rips her apart. So what was that earlier nonsense about? He's just nonsense. And that same day he used a dirty word and put in asterick to avoid putting it up there but this is the man who pulled a Cheney and dropped the f-bomb over and over not all that long ago when he had his snit fit with Atrios.

Are you a big Atrios fan?

Not really. You know how our generation, yours and mine, feels about sites that put out a sentence and then think the readers comments can somehow cut it. I don't want to read 120 comments with about 90% sucking up to the site and 10% having something that might actually be information.

And the petty little wars going on in the comments.

Oh I know. "I've been coming to this site forever, how dare you say that to me!" The troll wars. (Laughing.) If that's the contribution you're remembered for, God help you. Atrios works at Media Matters so he'll be remembered for a bit more than some folks and I'll just leave it at that.

I know the ones you mean.

All these people don't realize how out of date they are. Atrios will also be saved by the fact that he's not screaming for more troops. But there are a lot of biggies who are going down and they don't realize it because their personality cults keep visiting and praising. But there's this whole current moving against them. Bob Somerby's like that. He's made himself useless because all he cares about is what someone said on some dopey cable show. There's a whole world out there but Bob Somerby's apparently confined to a small section of the United States. When the people he so obviously wants to be like, the mainstream media, focus on New Orleans, he can do that too. Otherwise, he might as well be a Sunday Chat & Chewer. Lot of change has happened and Bob Somerby doesn't grasp that. Atrios will probably be okay because he's likeable on the radio and people don't make fun of the way he talks the way they do some of the other net biggies.

Of the net biggies, who do you think gets the change?

I don't know if Bill Scher gets it or he just got lucky doing Liberal Oasis the way he did but no one rags on Bill. You never walk in a classroom and hear somebody mocking him. Sometimes you'll hear people disagree with him on a point or something but no one mocks him for "cat blogging" or "a thread is a lonely thing." Either he's got no interest in a chat room or he realizes that if people want chat rooms, they'll go there.

Does Bob Somerby get it?

I have no idea. I laughed so hard the first time C.I. said it was starting to feel like you were watching the Grammys when you read The Daily Howler. You know, back when Somerby was giving his "props" and doing his "shout outs." That was so embarrassing. To see an old man trying to suck up. It was like desperation time. Since then, I only go there to laugh or get frustrated. My mom reads him and she was a fan until the Grammy period. She got skeptical during the whole Lawrence Summers nonsense. And then when he was trying to weigh in on Guantanamo she just thought he was an idiot trotting out his Washington Post or New York Times or whatever articles when the whole point of Guantanamo is that the mainstream press has been relucatant to tell you the truth on that. You can go to the BBC or mainstream from England but in this country, forget it. Bob Somerby's just an idiot. Do you link to him?

Like everyone else in the community who does, I'm waiting for C.I. to pull the link and then I'll do the same. But yeah, he is an idiot. There was some good work in the past but not anymore. Did he even cover Abu Ghraib?

I don't think so. It doesn't interest him. He's too busy telling you what mean thing someone said about Al Gore in 1999. I can't believe we've spent so much time on him.

Hey, you had a lot to say.

Yeah but that's because you asked if The Daily Jot was a title making fun of The Daily Howler and, dude, no, I wouldn't want anyone to ever think that.

Got you. C.I.'s thinking about writing about Somerby tonight.

I hope that happens.

Okay, so I have a question from Joe and he wants to know why you're 19 and a freshman in college.

No problem. You already know this but I was in a really bad car accident when I was 8 years old and with the therapy and all I missed out on school.

We've talked about this on the phone and I'm not sure what to ask here because I know this was a big thing in your life and I'm not sure how much you want to go into it.

No problem. Short story. Summer. I was in little league. We'd gone to get pizza. That's the team with their families. On the way home, this drunk driver plows into our car. My mom had to have stiches but was otherwise okay. Dad and I were on the left side of the car which is where the drunk plowed into, the left side. I really don't remember much about it. But that's how Dad died.

I'm sorry.

Not your fault. But it was real hard on Mom because she lost Dad and they weren't sure for almost a month if I was going to make it. Then it was months and months of physical therapy.
So I was behind in school because of the year I missed.

Was your mom real protective after that?

She says she was and that Grandpa straightened her out on that. I don't really remember that. I just remember the next summer she was like, "Do you want to play baseball?" and I did because that was something Dad and I did. That's really what I remember about him, tossing the ball with him in the backyard. Him teaching me how to throw and stuff like that. But that was apparently a big deal because, and I don't remember this, don't know if they even talked about stuff like this in front of me, but there was this talk about how the whole thing was a sign and how I was going to have to be careful and stuff but Grandpa was all against that and he and Mom had big arguments. I'm sure that's how it happened but I don't remember that. I remember stuff like saying, "I'm going to play football" and Mom going along with it. So I think this all took place while I was out of it or like away from me because I don't remember any of that. I remember Mom living at the hospital because I'd fall asleep and she'd be there and I'd wake up and she'd be there. I think it was really hard on her but I don't remember much. I remember being in a lot of pain and I remember being real frustrated in physical therapy a lot because I couldn't get my feet to do what I wanted them to and stuff. That's what I remember. That and the nurses. I had really nice nurses who made me smile even when I didn't feel like laughing. I remember three of them and I even remember one's name, Ann. Ann was the night nurse and she was always coming in and saying something silly to try to get me to smile or laugh. And she'd always be going on about how I was doing good and all. Making progress and stuff. But all the nurses were really nice to me and I remember that.

And you recovered physically.

Yeah. I've got a nasty scar on my left side but most of the others have faded or shrunk and you can't really see them.

Now you're doing The Daily Jot and you say it's to be a smart ass and hopefully make people laugh so I'm wondering if you think that period in the hospital has anything to do with that?

It probably does. People need to laugh and I'm one of those guys who likes to laugh and be silly so I'm sure that comes from that. But Mom has a good sense of humor and I remember Dad laughing a lot so it probably has to do with that too.

I'm also wondering if you think that has anything to do with your feelings about Bob Somerby's Daily Jerk Off?

Oh, I'm sure. I mean, I lost my dad, I almost didn't make it. And now we've got two wars and people are dying and, yeah, it does offend me that we're talking about real life or death things and Bob Somerby's doing his Daily Jerk Off about some nonsense that someone said on cable TV or wrote in a paper. It's like, Dude, there's important stuff and you're still focused on 1999.
I mean, I could be whining about the car wreck every other day if I wanted to live in the past. I think I'd have a better excuse for living in the past than what Bob Somerby has. But it's like, "Suck it up and grow up already." Yeah, he ticks me off with his nonsense. Life's too short.

How's it been blogging? You got a few days under your belt.

Yeah, two more days and I'll have a full week! I'll be an expert! (Laughing.) The big problem I'm having is I can't e-mail the stuff. C.I.'s going to help me try to figure out what's going on there this weekend. When I set it up C.I. talked me through and I thought I did it so I could e-mail a post to the site but I tried that on Sunday and it didn't work so I ended up just putting it up the regular way. If I could e-mail it in, it would be a lot easier. You don't use the e-mail option, do you?

No, I think C.I.'s the only one in the community who does. I'd offer to help you on that but I don't know how to.

It's cool.

What did you think of Beth's thing?

I loved it but where were you?

I didn't want to be quoted. I told her she could sum me up but I didn't want to be quoted.

You know what I liked? I liked that she offered her opinion and took a stand. This could have been a fluff thing like some paper's mea culpa. She spoke to people and got their opinion and then reconstructed it that way.

Did she speak to you?

Yeah, I had like ten minutes because I had practice but she did call me. I told her I joined you guys for the CD review and that I really didn't know much about before but I knew that Dona kept saying "We need to focus" during the CD thing. And then after Ava and C.I. were doing their own thing and this was still a huge topic. I thought, and I wasn't there for most of it, but reading it I thought Beth gave a straight forward take on it. And if you're going to do something like that, look at how something fell apart, that's how you do it. Not the way the New York Times did Sunday with Judith Miller.

Readers of my site have heard about you because you are a buddy and someone whose opinion I value. Lauren e-mailed that she likes your site and laughs but you're nothing like what she thought you'd be from my talking about you.

Well you know we all have a lot of sides. At The Daily Jot, I'm just blowing off at the mouth and trying to be funny. That's one side of me. But, and I read you so I know what you've said, when you talk about me, you key in on that part of me that's about how there are things you get worked up about and there are things that are just not worth the time.

Yeah, you've got a great perspective and there are times when I'm pissed off about something and we'll talk and I realize that whatever pissed me off doesn't really matter that much or at least not as much as I thought it did.

Yeah, well, let me say I love your site. Counter-recruiting is a big thing and I'm glad you cover it and I'm glad you make me laugh and talk about stuff that maybe seems too whatever for old guys but you'll talk about it. Like the kid yesterday who wore himself raw beating off. You took his question and dealt with it.

Which brings us to Lauren's question, have you ever had a problem with crotch rot?

With odor, no. (Laughing) Or I don't think so and none of the ladies ever pointed out. But I do have a problem with my boxers. They all end up getting holes right around the inner leg and all. Same things with my jeans. They will wear out there. I don't know what that is. (Laughing) Probably the strain from my impressive package.

Betty had a question for you. She called me today. She wants to know what is it about "you young men" that makes you go to the groin?

She's talking about the question on the profile, right?


That was my third question option. I was trying to hurry because C.I. needed to get to work with The Third Estate Sunday Review. Then that question came up and I just went with it.

"Paper or briefs?" "Breifs! No depends here! I pack a mean tighty whitey!"

Yeah, C.I. laughed and said something like, "That's why you get along so well with Mike."

Because of my question and answer: If you were a cannibal, what would you wear to dinner?
Just the bone, just the bone. Munch on that.

We like our dicks jokes, what can I say? Or making boastful jokes. Betty wasn't offended, was she?

No, she was laughing. But she said you put two nineteen year old males together and that's what you'll get.

I feel like I let her down then! We really didn't go there much.

No, we didn't. But we'll do another interview where we do.

I know. I was thinking about how much we talked and remembering how you hate typing.

I hate typing!

So we should probably wind down.

Yep. My buddy Wally, who enjoys a good dick joke, blogs at The Daily Jot. Check him out.

No, no, Mike. You have to say "I've been . . ."

Oh yeah. I've been talking to Wally of The Daily Jot FOR THE HOUR!


Thanks, Wally.

Thank you, Mike.