Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Roger Waters Inflatable Pig Update


Jewish Lawmaker From Bahrain To Be Appointed Ambassador To US?

Rather remarkable! Bahrain is a pro-Western Gulf state, but it still has an Islamist-dominated Parliament.

Burger King Exploits "Gap in Perception" Between Itself and McDonald's by Offering $150 Burger

Sadly, it's only being offered in London, but hey, a $500 flight to Heathrow probably isn't that big a deal to you if you're ready to shell out $150 for a 8 oz. slab of meat.

UPDATE: Other conspicuous consumption news: a $300,000 watch that doesn't tell time.

A Good Time To Lie

One of the big stories today was Senator Claire McCaskill claiming Obama had a huge block of officially undeclared Congressional superdels in his back pocket. We've been hearing these sorts of rumors for a while now, and it's gotten me to thinking, what is the downside of claiming this, even if it's not true? It raises the stakes on undecided superdels and dares them to go out on a limb and back a probable loser. Sure, if it turns out to be a bunch of baloney, Obama loses credibility. But if it turns out to be a bunch of baloney (and in fact he has very little support from remaining undeclared Congressional superdels) he's probably lost anyway.

What's the downside?

An Analysis of Early Voting in NC


Bipartisanship: Not Always Good!

Daniel Inouye is raising $$ for Ted Stevens. The Senate really is a peculiar institution.

High-Speed Rail Comes to Argentina

On the one hand, this is great... on the other, it's basically a subsidy for rich people - and some of the $3.7 billion project fee will no doubt be siphoned off by corrupt officials (no offense to Argentina - but big development projects are the same the world over). A bit like the Red Line in Los Angeles.

Perhaps the critics are right: this is an "extravagance when Argentina’s local train network urgently needs revamping."

UPDATE: Riding high-speed trains apparently do qualify you to become Governor of California (along with having 24 inch biceps).



Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Chastity Belts in Indonesia

Hat tip to Will Saletan. They come at the request of the women, of course.

World's Most Expensive Home to Be Built in London

Price tag: $300 million.

Beijing Olympics Debate Takes to the College Campuses

Was there (counter-intuitive, given Yale's well-documented China fetish) favoritism in Yale's decision to push the pro-China group off-campus? One wonders - where do big donors stand on this? And do they care enough to place a call to Woodbridge Hall?

Recommended Reading: Rosner and Jeffrey Goldberg Discuss "Is Israel Finished?"


Worse Investment: Donating to Giuliani Campaign or Barry Zito?


Hillary Clinton of Park Ridge, Illinois

As Colbert said after the Pennsylvania primary, "I can't wait to see where in Indiana Hillary is from."

The Moment Kaus Has Been Waiting For!

Sharpton attacks Obama. Kaus endorsement expected shortly.

But did Sharpton really object to Obama's saying
resorting to violence to express displeasure" is "completely unacceptable and counterproductive"? That seems pretty unobjectionable. Obama is "grandstanding for white people?" Sounds pretty over the top, even for Sharpton.

Has the whole thing been orchestrated? Is Sharpton really an Obama surrogate?

Monday, April 28, 2008

First Right-Wing Mayor in Rome Since WWII

He sounds like a perfect complement to Berlusconi (that rancid combination of Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch, and Benito Mussolini).

UPDATE: Greeted with cries of "Duce! Duce!" Meanwhile, Umberto Bossi brags about having 300,000 street-fighters on hand to deal with his political enemies... why isn't this being treated in the media as, um, really scary? The UK's Independent newspaper calls a spade a spade: Alemanno = "former street-fighting neo-fascist." There's also a nice run-down of key figures on the Italian right. Is Bush going to reject and denounce?

Hillary = Bitch-Slapper?

Can Michelle Cottle say that?


Is it just me or does Jon Favreau look way different (and, I suppose, better) in this picture than he did in 'Swingers' (or here)?

Important Considerations in Repub Veepstakes

What I don't get about this is that having a darker complexion makes your skin LESS susceptible to burning/tanning, not more... right? So why is Crist talking about going out in the sun as an 'excuse'?

Besides, everyone knows that he has a great tan because he's gay.

And what's Boehner's alibi?

Still Waiting To Be Stimulated

I checked my bank account today -- nothing yet from the IRS.

UPDATE: According to this handy chart, I won't be stimulated until May 16. Good thing I didn't hold my breath.

Parking Spot Subsidies - A Welfare To Work Proposal


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Islam Dominated by Radicals?

Does knowing that someone was born Jewish, converted to Islam while in college, worked for a year for a group promoting Saudi Wahabiism, then subsequently converted to Christianity make him/her 1) Refreshingly authentic and possessed of unique insights ; or 2) Prone to major identity crises and maybe a little wacked in the head.

The audience at this debate seemed to think #1. I'm more inclined to think #2.

First Greenspan, Now Rubin -- So Much For Financial Heroes

Who's next to go down, Buffett?

Slower Than a Speeding Bullet, Cheaper Than a Speeding Acela

Study in Contrasts

Fast versus slow.

My Grandmother's Birthday Present


Good Riddance to Good Bowling


Bush Jokes About Wright - Does Mockery Suggest Tolerance?

Probably good for Obama - I was unsure about Douthat saying most Americans view the excesses of the black church with a mixture of tolerance and condescension... but that seems to be where we are headed with Rev. Wright. Can you really joke about something one day, and then use it in an attack ad the next?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Politicians, Media, Voters, and Climate Change

Evan Thomas tells us the media is heroically doing all it can to raise awareness about climate change... but the public just doesn't care (at least Rahm Emanuel says so) and the politicians are too timid to push for real sacrifice. But then he tells us that public apathy is being "enabled by political reporters... of the more than 3,000 questions asked in the more than 20 presidential debates, fewer than 10 mentioned global warming." So apparently the media is doing just great -- except when it isn't.

On a (un)related note, is "global warming" the Dunkin' Donuts to Starbucks' "climate change"? I've begun to sense hints of snob appeal attached to the latter.

If Hitler Liked Yogurt, Patriotic Americans Must Shun It!

I am (like Matt Yglesias) struck by the breathtaking illogic of McCain's most recent line of attack, which exceeds even the Obama=Ayers=hippie-terrorist smear in stupidity and venality... it rather reminds me of the bizarre idea current in mainstream Jewish circles (even quite secular ones) that Jews mustn't intermarry, and must have a bunch of kids, and must raise them Jewish -- because to do otherwise would be letting Hitler win!

In Defense of Double Standards

Is it racist for Trinity United to declare itself "unapologetically black?" It's self-evident to me that comparing 'pro-black' and 'pro-white' is apples to oranges -- but as a sort of test of cultural solipsism it's one of those things that is either very obvious to you or utterly beyond explanation.

John Ridley attempts an explanation.

HRC As Ethan Edwards, Or, They All Laughed

A friend who is a fervent HRC supporter just sent me this Eleanor Clift piece about the slasher movie that would be President HRC's first 100 days. (Bill Richardson, she's going medieval on your ass!) My puzzled response:

did you really mean to send me this?

the point of the article seems to be that hillary clinton is a bad-tempered, vengeful, axe-grinding, grudge-nursing, cold-blooded, less honorable version of ethan edwards in The Searchers. (of course we already knew that from her shameful treatment of bill richardson.) is this supposed to make me want to become a hillraiser?

The truth is that the Clintons are going to take vengeance WHETHER OR NOT Hillary wins. That's what Clift doesn't seem to understand.

UPDATE: More on sweet revenge.

$15 Per Hour... For Getting Boozed Up


Pelosi Channels John McCain

Next thing you know she'll be mixing up Sunnis and Shias.


When will Slate contributor, Nixon scholar, and HRC apologist David Greenberg weigh in on the Obama-as-McGovern meme? (As you may know, Greenberg and Sean Wilentz are rival suitors to become the Arthur Schlesinger to HRC's JFK.)



NYT Article on J Street Project Emphasizes Daniel Levy's Disgraced Fundraiser Father

To wit:

A principal theorist behind the group, J Street officials said, is Daniel Levy, the son of Lord Levy of Britain, who was the Labor Party’s main fund-raiser under Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Bit of a cheap shot, I would say.

Albion's Seed and All That Jazz

Fun with British folkways...

UPDATE: Michael Hirsh uses a 'Folkways' analysis to blame the South for virtually everything that is wrong with American politics - elitism is on the march!

Funny Names

Did you know that one of the leading lights of Quaker scholarship is named Pink Dandelion?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Clinton Advantages in NC?

To wit:

1) Many early voting locations are apparently situated in senior centers.

2) UNC exams are on election day, May 6.

Looking Ahead

This was in an e-mail I received earlier today from the state chairwoman of the Obama grassroots effort in Connecticut:

Sneak preview -- the campaign is launching a nationwide voter registration drive. On May 10th in each state, there will be a statewide kick-off. Ours will be in Hartford and we are locking down a venue today -- Pope Park. By having this drive early, we can capture many of the high school students before they go off to college and elsewhere. We can also get an early start on same prior to the general election.

We will surely have phone banking to NC and IN, and to the remaining states after that - but there is a definite sense in the Obama grassroots world that the focus is shifting to McCain and the general, though as Ben Smith points out, there may be some superdel courting going on as well. (Some background here.)

UPDATE: Media: who cares about voter registration?

War Crimes Arrest as October Surprise?

Highly unlikely, but as the author suggests it would be a lose-lose situation for the Democratic candidate, except maybe if the arrestee were Cheney... (Earlier this month Marc Ambinder suggested that a Democratic White House in January 2009 might pursue some sort of war crimes investigation into the Bush administration torture 'principals,' a suggestion which seemed to be somewhat pulled from his arse. Nobody has seriously suggested, however, that this might happen BEFORE November.)

Starbucks Share Price Dives After Obama Loses PA?

And how about Dunkin' Donuts? It's owned by private equity firms that are not publicly traded.

Queen of Pork


The Observer and the Observed

Chait adds a further salvo in his dispute with John Judis. Money quote:

In the 1990s, political journalists obsessed over the importance of upscale suburbanites. Socially conservative downscale whites were practically invisible. Now it's the other way around. Hillary Clinton does perform better than Obama among downscale whites, but she doesn't perform better over all. It just happens that her stronger group is the subject of the political world's attention at the moment, and thus she's benefitting from the punditry's inability to keep more than one swing voter group in its head at the same time.

Over To You, Charlton Heston


From the Rejecting and Denouncing File

Earlier today I went to a lecture by the great and good NY Times food writer Mark Bittman. Recently he's begun to eschew meat and embraced Michael Pollan's "mostly plants" counsel. Someone asked him about his past work, and without missing a beat, he said that while he now rejected and denounced factory farming and excessive meat consumption, he could not disown the chicken roast with paprika and other meat recipes from his carnivorous past...


Sunday, April 13, 2008

"Christ Our Passover"

Evangelical Christians decide regular Passover isn't good enough for them, so they create their own version (begging me to wonder if my local Jewish Federation is going to stage a Judaized Passion Play in reciprocation - and also about the cosmic resonances of matzoh and communion wafers). But apparently it's kosher since they love Israel so much.

UPDATE: Yes, I know evangelical Christians don't take communion.

Right Up There With Ethanol?

Kevin Drum doesn't like the housing bill that just passed the Senate, and I guess it seems problematic to me, too. For another view, here's what booster Chris Dodd says about it. (Even he admits: "this legislation falls short of its lofty title.") Is this Dodd's payback to the big lenders who financed his presidential bid?

Why are diesel fuel prices higher than gasoline prices?

I continue to have trouble remembering why this is (even after seeing or hearing it explained to me several times... an "adult moment"?)... From the Energy Information Administration:

Until several years ago, the average price of diesel fuel was usually lower than the average price of gasoline. In some winters when the demand for distillate heating oil was high, the price of diesel fuel rose above the gasoline price. Since September 2004, the price of diesel fuel has been generally higher than the price of regular gasoline all year round for several reasons. Worldwide demand for diesel fuel and other distillate fuel oils has been increasing steadily, with strong demand in China, Europe, and the U.S., putting more pressure on the tight global refining capacity. In the U.S., the transition to low-sulfur diesel fuel has affected diesel fuel production and distribution costs. Also, the Federal excise tax on diesel fuel is 6 cents higher per gallon (24.4 cents per gallon) than the tax on gasoline.

It's all about supply and demand. Go figure.

Memo to Mark Penn: Beware the Lonely Planet Colombia Guide


A Question

I'm curious how the "Obama is an effete Ivy-League liberal" meme interacts with some of the other memes about him, e.g. "Obama is a radical black nationalist" and "Obama is a brainwashed Muslim Manchurian candidate." Does it displace them or does it enhance them? Or neither? There was recently a poll showing some large percentage of voters who'd heard about Jeremiah Wright still believed Obama was a Muslim, suggesting (perhaps not surprisingly) that voters can and do hold contradictory ideas... which would suggest that the GOP can employ each of these memes simultaneously without undermining the others.

Another Gutter-Ball

This is probably not that interesting, but I found it curious that one of Obama's literature pieces in Pennsylvania (that I was handing out to voters yesterday in Bethlehem) actually features a picture of him bowling. I won't hold my breath for the campaign lit from Clinton featuring her with a hunting rifle.

Blogging Only Makes Us Stronger

It seems to me that Time's Joe Klein has, with some bumps along the way, become a pretty good blogger - at least judging by the (anecdotally) increasing number of links to his postings on Time's group political blog, Swampland. Blogging has helped him move away from his old M.O., i.e. blandly recycling conventional wisdom -- or at least occasioned him to recycle it in a new way.