Lazy, Crazy Daze of Summer

Welcome to the working—or vacationing—week with the usual news and politics, music from The Wallflowers, Chrissie Hynde and The Byrds, as the annual Countdown to Hiroshima begins.

And away we go. Don’t forget to share, comment, tweet and subscribe (it’s free). From Clay Bennett:

News & Politics

The Onion: “Labor Department Announces Plans To Stop Counting Jobs And Just Enjoy Economy.'“

Likes a Virgin: At least Stephen Colbert, in hosting coverage of Branson’s space stunt, joked about some of the billionaire’s failed business ventures, such as Virgin Cola. “Seriously, he lost money selling sugar water,” Colbert quipped. “Allllll aboard!”

Politico’s Blake Hounshell: "You have to wonder if, in the future, billionaires taking vanity tours of space while the climate overheats will be one of those moments the historians write about."

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Clown time not over: CNN’s Jim Acosta relates, “An expert on the circus industry recently reached out to me and urged me to not compare Trump and his comeback tour to clowns at the circus... as that is an insult to clowns. I agree.”

Come quick, there goes Robert E. Lee: “‘An incredible day’ as Lee statue removed in Charlottesville….Cheers erupted Saturday as a Confederate statue that towered for nearly a century over downtown Charlottesville was carted away by truck from the Virginia city where it had become a flashpoint for racist protests and deadly violence.”

Speaking of Charolottesville, at the annual rightwing CPAC conference this weekend, Trump called the Jan. 6 rioters “great people” and repeatedly referred to their abuses as acts of “love.” Oath Keepers chief Steve Rhodes, now under federal investigation, was there also.

What’s up, Murdoch? Major piece today at NY Times on top Fox hosts continuing to undermine vaccine drive—while big boss Rupert (who was vaxxed long ago) does nothing. And in a May interview with Insider, Lachlan Murdoch, the elder son who runs Fox News with his father, defended Tucker Carlson against his critics and called him “brave.”

And, nearly two weeks after Carlson charged that the National Security Agency spied on him in a conspiracy, Fox's leaders and its other shows are mostly silent on the matter. Brian Stelter: “Maybe that helps explain why Carlson is ‘furious,’ in the words of one source, with Fox News executives -- furious because they're not vigorously defending him.”

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I predicted this when it happened: The three young Black players who missed penalty kicks before the home crowd at Wembley, costing England its much-coveted Euro title, were subjected to racist abuse on social media after the game. of course, it was the coach who had picked the little-used players for that key spot.

Alaska GOP leaders endorsed Kelly Tshibaka, a Trumper challenging the party’s incumbent senator, Lisa Murkowski.

A sealed Nintendo game from 1987, "The Legend of Zelda," sold for $870,000 at a video games auction.

Countdown to Hiroshima

Every year at this time, over at my long-running Pressings Issues blog, I trace the final days leading up to the first (and so far only) use of the atomic bomb against cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki,  in August 1945.   In this way the fateful, and in my view, very tragic, decisions made by President Truman and his advisers, and the actions of atomic scientists and others, can be judged more clearly in "real time."  

As some know, this is a subject that I have studied and written about in hundreds of articles, thousands of posts,  and in three books, since my month-long reporting trip to the two cities in 1984, two trips to the Truman Library, plus mountains of other research.  Now this year I've directed an award-winning documentary (see links below).  Most of my work has focused on the aftermath of the bombings, and the government and media suppression of evidence in the decades after.

Almost every day in the coming month at my blog I will offer a relatively brief account of the events of that same day in 1945, along with occasional wider-range reports.   My motivation, as always, is that 76 years after the bombing of two cities, which killed over 200,000--overwhelmingly civilians--public and media opinion in America continues to support the dropping of the two new weapons and the highly debatable claim that this and only this could have ended the war in that period.  

Even last year's 75th anniversary sparked no major critical re-assessments here.  Reaching the widest audience was Chris Wallace's popular pro-bombing book and Fox special; and now this year, Malcolm Gladwell's bestseller The Bomber Mafia.  And so on.

Why does this matter today?  It only bolsters the United States' official "first-use" policy, which is still in effect, though there are  new efforts to encourage President Biden to rescind it.  This enables any president (not just a madman like Trump) to order a nuclear "first-strike" in response to a conventional attack--or even just a serious threat--by any enemy abroad.  The cliche is,  We must never use these horrible weapons, but the reality is that most influential Americans make two exceptions, which can only allow, even encourage, future use.   Historians, of course, are more divided.

Perhaps you may consider my books:  Hiroshima  in America: 50 Years of Denial (with Robert Jay Lifton);  last year's The Beginning or the End, the name of the first Hollywood movie on the bomb in 1947 which Truman and the Pentagon sabotaged,  and Atomic Cover-up, on the burying by the U.S. of the key footage of the aftermath of the atomic bombings for decades.  That is also the name of my 2021 film, read more here—or you can watch excerpt just posted by the Venezia Film Festival featuring one of the two U.S. Army officers who tried to break that cover-up.   And see you back at Pressing Issues in another day or two. 

One of the few pop/rock songs ever explicitly about the Hiroshima bombing, The Byrds, form one of their best albums, “I Come and Stand at Every Door.”

Music

There’s am eclectic new summer playlist from some cat named Obama.

The Wallflowers performed three songs from their just-released new album Exit Wounds for CBS This Morning on Saturday. And earlier on Kimmel (Jakob looking more like Bob every year):

Film/TV

Ronan Farrow’s "Catch and Kill: The Podcast Tapes" starts on HBO tonight.

That new doc Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain premieres in theaters this weekend.

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Song Pick

Speaking of a Dylan, here’s the least-known song of Bob’s on Chrissie Hynde’s new album of covers, since it’s right for July—“In the Summertime.”

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Greg Mitchell is the author of a dozen books, including the bestseller The Tunnels (on escapes under the Berlin Wall), the current The Beginning or the End (on MGM’s wild atomic bomb movie), and The Campaign of the Century (on Upton Sinclair’s left-wing race for governor of California), which was recently picked by the Wall St. Journal as one of five greatest books ever about an election. His new film, Atomic Cover-up, just had its world premiere and is drawing extraordinary acclaim. For nearly all of the 1970s he was the #2 editor at the legendary Crawdaddy. Later he served as longtime editor of Editor & Publisher magazine. He recently co-produced a film about Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.