The line is open.

* IN OBAMA’S DEFENSE: Recommended: Michael Kinsley’s review of Thomas Frank’s new book, “Pity the Billionaire,” in NY Times. In commenting on Frank’s unhappiness with President Obama, including a friendly quote from Obama’s own book relative to the plutocrats who supported his first campaign, Kinsley wrote:

It seems to me that a Democratic president who gets us health care reform and tough new financial protection for consumers, who guides the economy through its roughest period in 80 years with moderate success (who could do better?), who ends our long war in Iraq and avenges the worst insult to our sovereignty since Pearl Harbor (as his Republican predecessor manifestly failed to do, despite a lot of noise and promises); a president who faced an opposition of really spectacular intransigence and downright meanness; a president who has the self-knowledge and wisdom about Washington to write the passage quoted above, and the courage to publish it: that president deserves a bit more credit from the left than Frank is willing to give him.

Kinsley also makes the point that, dominant as the right-wing shouting has been in the political arena, they haven’t achieved much. Yes, there has been the further crippling of the union movement. And also:

And then there are tax cuts — especially tax cuts for the wealthy. That we have had. In spades. Actually, all this tends to confirm Frank’s contention that what Republicans really care about, politically, is money, and all that other stuff is just prole meat.

* WEST MEMPHIS THREE DOCUMENTARY: Belatedly got around to the NYT arts section and this article on the latest documentary in the West Memphis Three case, Paradise Lost 3, which will air Thursday on HBO. An Arkansas anecdote from filmmaker Joe Berlinger about the dramatic hearing at which the three murder defendants were released:

Still, a story Mr. Berlinger told from the last court appearance of the West Memphis Three made it sound as if he were not completely cowed by his “Crude” experiences. Though members of the news media were told they could not film inside the courtroom that day and could only use footage from a pool camera, Mr. Berlinger said he smuggled in a couple of digital video cameras — and was escorted out by deputies when he tried to turn one on.

As he explained to the judge in a hasty apology, Mr. Berlinger said: “I was not going to shoot. I was just getting ready in case all hell broke loose.”