Friday, October 31, 2008

Chuch Hagel's Republican Exile


Le King of Bling Bling

Sarkozy ridiculed. Lawsuit imminent?

Polling the Geeks

Obama cleans up. Linus Torvalds or Bill Gates for cabinet-level Chief Technologist... not a bad idea, actually.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Great Schlep Should Be Reversed?


Erica Jong Warns of Civil War if Obama Loses

As Kaus would say, she's "not doing her part."

Fallows Fisks World Class Douche Fouad Ajami


Energized By "The Other Folks"

Saxby Chambliss rallies his supporters.

Israeli Brothel Bans Condoms

But aren't STDs potentially, um, a kind of evidence as well?

Holograms to Debut on CNN

So is this how Jayson Blair managed to be in multiple places at the same time?

Best. Name. Ever.

Freud de Melo just can't keep his phobia buried.

Backdoor to 60 in the Senate

Obama can put Olympia Snowe in his cabinet.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Anti-Obama Haiku

Here. Compare to anti-Palin haiku.

Is New Hampshire Becoming "Massachusetts North"?

Nate Silver calls some of the recent numbers "insane."

Victorious Voodoo in France

No wonder they call him "Sarkozy the American" - he likes to file frivolous lawsuits.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Blame Game

For me what completely undermines Limbaugh's rant about how McCain's failures are synonymous with the failures of moderate Republicanism ("Good riddance, GOP moderates") is that the biggest concern voters have about McCain is not his moderate stance on immigration or climate change... it's the choice of distinctly un-moderate Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Jeffrey Goldberg is a Terrorist!

That's right, he went to a party with Rashid Khalidi!

Hoisted By Their Own Petard

Ambinder echoes my assertion that the Republicans are making a huge mistake by making this election a referendum on Barack Obama's putative "socialism."

Dose of Perspective

Various conservablogger apologists have been trying to establish a moral equivalency between hate-filled Palin rallies and such things as anti-Palin Brooklyn street art. This helps put things in perspective.

Time Mag Heroes of the Environment 2008


The University Against Itself


Saturday, October 25, 2008

One Step Closer to a Euro-Army?


Nice Try

While it's nice that Emily Yoffie wants to stick up for her fellow independent voters, the political science data pretty clearly shows that on average independent and in particular undecided-until-the-last-minute independent voters are less informed than their partisan neighbors and more likely to vote based on trivialities such as a candidate's height, speech impediment, or bad hairstyle. In fact, often the reason they are independent in the first place is that they simply don't understand what the two major parties stand for.

Philly Daily News Smackdown

This is the same kind of silly venting/catharsis that was all over Daily Kos, MyDD, your and my inbox right after the 2004 election. Remember that? Blue states pay most of the taxes and give more to charity while red states with their so-called "values voters" who won Bush the election are awash in pornography, child abuse, and divorce.

Personally I prefer the magnanimity (whether totally sincere or not) that the Democrats displayed after their 2006 midterm triumph. Plus magnanimity is just better politics.

Enough culture wars, people!

Shelf Lives

I was reading this piece about the coming anti-Bush-book bust, and thinking, But what about the spate of "permanent conservative re-alignment" books published in the last 15 years, such as Wooldridge and Micklethwait's Right Nation? ("Who would have imagined that the 2004 presidential election would represent something of a last chance for the Democrats?") The softcover is at 180,000 on amazon - that's already pretty low, and expect it to be a lot lower in six months' time.

Even Books Have Trailers Now?

desert island books: my 24
Originally uploaded by stëve


Hatin' on Casinos

Gambling is probably not the easiest issue to run an attack ad on, since there are lots of different constituencies lined up on both sides of the issue. And there's not internal consistency in the two camps either: reasons for opposing or being upset with the gambling industry vary a lot. There are the Christian right folks who oppose it on moral grounds; the labor groups who don't like greedy casino management; the people who think Indians are getting a free ride; and then there are people like me who just don't want Sheldon Adelson to acquire any more money.

Anyway I'm not really sure how this ad is going to help in swing states -- and it's almost assuredly not going to help in places like Nevada and Florida.

Real America

From WaPo's profile of Jill Biden:

Here in Excelsior Springs, at a luncheon for the Clay County Democrats, Biden makes a speech and then works a rope line, where she is buttonholed by a woman in her early 50s who is crying. The woman wants to thank Joe Biden for writing the breakthrough Violence Against Women Act, which became law in 1994. If that law had been on the books when she was a teenager, the woman tells Jill, "my sister would still be alive." Jill hugs the woman and says that she will tell Joe, and then she reaches out and peels off the adhesive name tag the woman is wearing. She lifts the bottom of her suit jacket, exposing a white blouse, and presses the name tag against her abdomen . ("So that I could write her a note," she explains later. "So I wouldn't lose it.")

Not A Moment Too Soon

M.J. Rosenberg thinks an Israeli-Syrian peace agreement is virtually a done deal if Obama is elected, and the only outstanding question is whose lawn to sign it on.

Crumbling Calpers

What makes the current financial straits of Calpers (the nation's largest pension fund with $235 billion in assets) so troubling, and such a useful reminder of the potential perils of Social Security privatization, is that they've lost $20 billion in two months despite having by mandate a rather conservative asset allocation posture.

Words Out and About

A new CD collection showcases rare radio recordings of famous authors.

"Porn Filter" Politics


Friday, October 24, 2008

Eight-foot Dreadlocks

She's been growing them for twenty years.

Generalissimo Francisco Franco is Still Dead...

Getty Museum
Originally uploaded by Worker101
... and the Getty Museum is still alive. By the skin of its teeth. The Getty must have some kind of super-duper fire-resistant emergency storage area, no?

George's Bottom Line

Stephanopoulos abandons his objectivity and endorses... weekend voting.

Giuliani/Bratton Proxy War

Duelling robo-sleaze!

Who Would Replace Obama in the Senate?

CQ takes a look at the front-runners.

Livin' La Vida Locasexual

Barron YoungSmith:

Perversely, we live in a world where the sustainability consultant in San Francisco is willing to fly in an exotic boyfriend every month from Washington, D.C. All day, she helps companies "green their supply chains" and "internalize core social costs," yet that eco-savvy seems to vanish at night, when she e-mails: Come visit!!! You might say she's willing to be a locavore but not a locasexual.

Lexicographical Thought of the Day

Seems like a good bet that "robo-call" will soon make its way into Webster's... it's already in their Open Dictionary! And thanks to Steve Schmidt et al. it looks like "robo-slime" and "robo-sleaze" might make it as well!

McCain's Loin-Girding Flub

I meant to flag this when it first came out but it really is McCain's "Fool me once" moment... thank you, John Murtha, for making the wildly ill-advised remark that made this moment possible.

As an aside, while I'm a pretty partisan Democrat, I really wouldn't mind seeing Murtha go.

What the Hell is "Loin-Girding?"

Sounds a little dirty, but alas, not really.


A conspiracy-minded person might wonder why Fox News's John Moody insisted that the falsification of an incident having nothing to do with the actions of either campaign would spell the end McCain's chances, unless Moody knew that it actually did have to do with official campaign actions (such as, maybe, the McCain campaign pushing the story to Fox News)...

Stop! I Mean, Continue!

Conserva-bloggers demand that media stop covering Biden until he gives a press conference! Oh wait - they already don't cover Biden!

Little Jerk Will Be Here All Week...

Lindsey Graham riffin' with the McCain riffraff. How come nobody's mentioning Graham for 2012?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Brave New Traffic

GridSmart - it's like a laxative for congested city streets.


All the tough talk in the Middle East about pre-emptive strikes seems to be contagious.

Guide to Early Voting

Interesting that the biggest concentration of non-early voting states is in the Northeast. I guess we're just more patient out here.

When Bad Things Happen To Attractive White Women

A terrible incident, to be sure, but newsworthy? It's Natalee Holloway redux.

Non-Filer Syndrome

An unorthodox and rather daring alibi! But is it real? You decide.

Prime Time McCain

Mike Murphy says McCain should fight fire with fire and buy 30 minutes of prime-time right after Obama's... and no more Waterloo, Iowa. But is Murphy really trying to help McCain win?

Steal This Election Citizen Investigation Map

Darwinist voting and more.

Strange Legacies of the Titanic Disaster


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rupert Vs. Rupert


Historian: Bush Not Like Hoover

That is to say, Bush is much worse.

Plus Ca Change

The Republicans' annual voter fraud whining ritual.

Before You Get on Your High Horse...

Douthat thinks he's figured it all out about the liberal media... the hate on display at Palin rallies is merely a product of liberals' imaginations just as the Christian right is merely a figment of liberals' imaginations. And look over here! The libs are haters, too!

Street art in Brooklyn is not Nazi propaganda. It is self-conscious, self-referential, part of a complex aesthetic universe rife with anxieties of influence and influences of anxiety. It is ironic. Its audience is ironic. To ignore the fact that highly stylized, silk-screened poster art in Brooklyn might (like the Warhol prints whose aesthetics they mimic) contain some irony, might be deliberately provocative as an aesthetic gesture, is frankly idiotic.

Whatever defenses ("John Gotti doesn't exist!") can be mounted for statements like "kill him" and "terrorist" and "sit down, boy" at McCain-Palin rallies, I don't think you can say they are ironic and self-mocking.

Enough with the "yes, but..." crap, conservatives! The base of the Republican Party is awash in filth, and it's time to move from denial to acceptance and get on with the serious business of reforming the political party that ostensibly represents you.

All About Card-Check

Ambinder reports that Chamber of Commerce advertising this cycle is focused heavily on card-check neutrality.

Abomination in Michigan

Eco-terrorist sentenced to nine years in prison and a lifetime of supervisory release - for starting a fire that caused $1 million in damage? And he pled guilty and cooperated with the feds? To say that this is a complete and utter travesty of justice, a sentence totally out of proportion with the crime is not to condone this man's actions but to point out a simple, obvious truth.


golden arches
Originally uploaded by w00kie
"Politically active Californians have been able to cast election ballots from the comfort of their cars at a one-off drive-thru voting booth.

The innovative drive-thru voting system was opened late Monday in Santa Ana, southeast of Los Angeles, as part of a push to encourage eligible voters to register and vote ahead of the November 4 presidential polls. "

Marx Was Right!

People's Weekly World weighs in on financial crisis... staying relentlessly 'on-message' just like Hamas.

Bachmann and Palin = Beavis and Butthead?


Oprah En Espanol


Keeping Up Appearances

It is hard to believe that the League of Conservation Voters would rather have Susan Collins in office than Democratic challenger Tom Allen (and perhaps they wouldn't if the race were more competitive), but they have to go through this charade of appearing bipartisan... note that Collins's lifetime LCV score is 68 (compared to Allen's 93), but it's 100 in the last year because she knows how to count by sixes and can figure out when she's up for re-election.

Does She Get to Keep the Wardrobe?

Palin's political career has been ruined over the last two months, but at least she got some nice clothes out of it. The five grand for hair styling and make-up puts John Edwards's $500 haircut to shame.

UPDATE: She doesn't get to keep it!

With God On Her Side

Some choice quotes from Joe Lieberman about Sarah Palin. He is a disgrace to the great state of Connecticut. He is an Orthodox Jew who seems to be doing his best to out-Christianist the Christianists. He will be out of a job come 2012, knock on wood.

The absolute best part of an Obama victory on November 4 will be watching JIL's saggy bulldog mug on election night as his dreams of being Secretary of State explode like a Gallagher watermelon.

Crist in 2012

Like Andrew Sullivan I think Charlie Crist is positioning him rather well for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, provided that the moderate faction wins the coming Republican civil war (and obviously that's a big question mark).

Winning Over Working-Class Whites

In terms of the battle for "metaphorical Macomb County," this isn't a bad sign... (it's true that Eminem seems to lean somewhat to the left -- recall that animosity towards Bush momentarily brought together Eminem and his longtime rival Moby in 2004 -- but still he's a kind of cultural marker for the just-barely-north-of-8-Mile-Road crowd. As they say, you can take the boy out of the trailer, but not the trailer...)

"Al the Shoesalesman"

Allusion to '90s sitcom Married with Children?

Department of Double Standards

The WSJ Editors complain that Bernanke is favoring Obama: "there was a time when Fed chairmen feared to even seem political." Where were these complaints when Greenspan backed Bush's tax cuts in 2001?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Department of Shitty Predictions

James Kirchick back in March:

I've said it before and I'll say it again: with a moderate Republican nominee and Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate, there's an even chance that Massachusetts will go red. This alone seems to put something of a dent in the conventional wisdom that Obama is obviously the stronger Democratic general election candidate. If he fares this poorly in Massachusetts, what does that say about his prospects nationally? To be sure, there are a variety of local factors here, the big one being that the state has a lot of white ethnic, "Reagan Democrat" voters for whom race might be more of an issue than it would for other constituencies. Yes, Deval Patrick, a black man, won the governorship overwhelmingly in 2006, but he faced lackluster competition (Mitt Romney's hand-picked successor). And a Scots-Irish war veteran as the Republican nominee complicates predictions about whom Kennedy Country will support come November.

The most recent SUSA poll for the Bay State had Obama up 24 points and the most recent Rasmussen poll had him up by 28.

Sympathy for the Devil

I actually sympathize with K-Lo here because what she is articulating about Andrew Sullivan is basically my feeling about Mickey Kaus.

MLK Love Letters in Court


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Happy Birthday, Kevin Drum

Birthday Bordeaux
Originally uploaded by Yankees Man
Pleas'd look forward, pleas'd to look behind,
And count each birthday with a grateful mind. - Alexander Pope

False Equivalence

While it is tempting and in some ways correct to say that MSNBC and Fox News are cultural and ideological mirror images, it is very difficult to imagine a chorus of liberals at an Obama rally assaulting Major Garrett and thuggishly chanting for Olbermann et al.

America's Favorite Pastimes

Baseball is Back!
Originally uploaded by WisDoc
The election approaches, autumn is in the air, the Rays are in the World Series, and if Nate Silver's political punditry is as solid as his baseball punditry he will truly be Mr. October.

Begging to Differ

In light of the anti-American stupidity of Nobel Prize judge Horace Engdahl (where were Sarah Palin and Donald Rumsfeld to defend us against this "old Europe" slight?), I thought it was interesting that Le Clezio put in a plug for Philip Roth, who ties with Marquez and Naipaul as the greatest living novelist in the world.

America's Core Values

Conservatives tend to look on America as exceptional in its virtue - a shining city on a hill, a beacon of hope unto the world, etc. But when you dig a little deeper about what they think America symbolizes, what is its essence, the nature of its virtue, you often get responses like this. America is about owning guns and eating corn dogs on the 4th of July. Maybe the Liberty Fund should just start publishing hunting and fishing manuals.

More on Powell on MTP

JMart excerpts the very moving part of Powell's MTP appearance where he talks about Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan... with echoes of Obama's acceptance speech in Denver: "the men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and independents, but they have fought together, and bled together, and some died together under the same proud flag."

God bless Kareem and God bless Powell for acknowledging this American hero.

Powell Gets His Revenge

While I disagree with Michael Crowley that Powell's Obama endorsement was "not a mere nod to Obama but rather an indictment of John McCain" (Powell took great pains to dissociate McCain from the rightward-tilting, Muslim-bashing, "narrowing" Republican Party), but Crowley's central point that this endorsement was above all a fuck-you to the neocons who sullied (if not destroyed) Powell's political brand is spot-on. (Jonathan Martin does some reporting that supports this notion that Powell's move "had less to do with the two candidates for president than the current occupant of the Oval Office.")

Something else that struck me in Powell's appearance on MTP was when he was talking about a possible post in an Obama administration - he wouldn't rule it out because (paraphrasing) you have to show deference when the President asks you to do something... isn't this precisely what got Powell in trouble in 2003?

UPDATE: And why didn't Brokaw ask Powell about Oliver Stone's W? It would have made perfect sense.


According to John McCain's logic, criticism of rabid McCain supporters exhibiting all kinds of disgusting bigotry at rallies is an attack on good Americans, but Obama's capitalizing on unprecedented excitement and garnering millions of small donors to his campaign is a scandal.


It seems to me that the more Republicans try to hang the mantle of "socialism" on Barack Obama, the more it establishes a mandate for "socialism" if he wins. If you know you're probably going to lose, why not call candidate Obama a timid, wishy-washy moderate and then insist that President Obama hold to his campaign themes?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Surprise, Surprise

Zillow, the real estate appraisal website, is not doing very well at the moment.

Kevin Drum Reads the Moose Entrails...

... and thinks Palin has no future, at least not in the realm of 'high office.' (But don't count out a gig as celebrity starter on the NASCAR circuit.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Art and Meaning of Telling Stories

Put those Obama smears into a sociological context. Book rec of the day.

"The Sweetest Bike Ride in Texas"


John Gotti Doesn't Exist

I guess it's nice in a quaint sort of way that Huffpo lets veteran cultural warrior John Leo onto its front page... Leo's latest effort, ostensibly a defense of McPalin hate rallies, begins with the quotation that "everything is known about the Mafia except whether it exists." News to me, and to all the people the mafia has killed, maimed, extorted and intimidated over many decades. I guess it's all just a figment of the liberal media's imagination - and those amoral Hollywood-types who invented Tony Soprano just to make money that they could donate to terrorist sympathizers like Barack Obama and socialists like Nancy Pelosi.

Olbermann Takes After Frum


Like Clockwork

Just as the right-wing echo chamber tried to move the goalposts with Gwen Ifill, so they are now trying to move the goalposts with Bob Schieffer. Dittoheads are nothing if not predictable.

Deja Vu All Over Again

Is it just me, or is this the thirteenth or fourteenth time we've heard that Colin Powell is about to endorse Obama at any moment?

America's Biggest Newspaper You've Never Heard Of

Okay, maybe you've heard of Investor's Business Daily, but you've probably never read it... (hat tip to Calderone). The joke is that their masthead logo should be "If you think the WSJ editorial page is right-wing, just wait till you get a load of this."


Reading Damon Linker's commentary on Bill Maher's "Religulous" reminds me how much more the skeptics have in common with the moderate believers than the moderate believers have in common with the theocrats. Why do the religious moderates not seem to get this, and ignoring the real threat, spend so much of their time -- any time at all -- attacking Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris et al.? Not that these men's views are all the same! I mean why does Linker refer to Maher as a "New Atheist" when Maher has repeatedly and explicitly disavowed atheism as exactly the same kind of false certainty that plagues organized religion? I understand that the theocrats don't think it's an important distinction, and Maher, Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris despite their many differences are basically just the same heathen going to burn in the same eternal hellfire. But a sensible pluralist like Linker should know better.

Why Are So Many East Asians Attracted to Western Classical Music?


Squirrels and Democracy

Is this the kind of serious debate of national issues that David Frum was talking about?

One Last Fuck-You to W From the Swedes...

I'm as much of a fan of Paul Krugman as the next guy, and I'm sure Tyler Cowen knows more about this stuff than I do, but Krugman winning the Nobel Prize in Economics still smells more than a little like a bald-faced political statement to me... or as Cowen charitably calls it, a "real world pick."

Marty Peretz's Alternate Universe

Marty Peretz refers to Amir Taheri "very reliable." Is this a joke? Taheri is the man who perpetrated the Iran yellow-star hoax and only recently smeared Obama with a lie about Obama trying to delay an Iraq troop withdrawal for naked, partisan political gain. This is reminiscent of Peretz's recent praise for lunatic Islamophobe (and Obamaphobe) Brigitte Gabriel... Marty, if you want to help Obama win, you might consider NOT praising fringe-of-the-fringe smearmongers who are doing everything in their powers to paint the Democratic presidential nominee as an anti-semitic traitor. Just a thought.

The Experts Speak

South Africa's ANC would never be a house divided, they said, just as they said Palestinians would never raise fists against other Palestinians. Au contraire.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dean Smith, Whom McCain Endorsed, Endorses Obama

Great catch by Zengerle.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Death of Rosenbergs Advocate

Hard to believe that he wasn't in some sense "broken" by recent events...

The Linking of Jews and Shoes

Jenny Diski:

The linking of Jews and shoes makes sense, I suppose, beyond the satisfactory rhyme, for a people on the move since well before Moses and long before medieval Christianity invented the Wandering Jew. Abraham, the father of them all, was told to ‘get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.’ After which there was no end of traipsing, fleeing and marching into battle. Plays havoc with the feet, and certainly a decent pair of shoes would help. The Jew/shoe linkage is strengthened in a pamphlet of 1602, cited by Shelly Zer-Zion in her chapter, which describes the Jew named Ahasverus who had owned a cobbler’s shop on the Via Dolorosa, but refused Christ assistance as he passed by. Whereupon Christ ‘looked hard at him, and said: “I shall stand here and rest, but you shall wander forth and be everlastingly restless.”’

Playing the Rabin Card


Saturday, October 11, 2008

McCain & McCarthy

Dickerson nails what for me is the central point about Ayers: if we are to criticize Obama over Ayers (which is fine with me, up to a point), we must also criticize Walter Annenberg, Mayor Daley, the University of Illinois, Stanley Fish, Cass Sunstein, Richard Stern, all the partners at white-shoe Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin, pretty much everyone who's anyone in Hyde Park and much of the establishment (Republican and Democrat) of Chicago. The troubling implication of this brand of McCarthyism is that it suggests we should all be vigilantes, since it seeks to deny that it is up to society and the state, not the individual, to punish crimes such as Ayers's... and for whatever reason or reasons, Ayers was not prosecuted. Perhaps justice was not served! But it is simply not the place of Obama or any other individual to hound and humiliate Ayers as if he were the child-molester in Tom Perrotta's 'Little Children,' least of all when Ayers has chosen in his post-revolutionary phase to make a positive contribution to society.

On a related note (that Jeff Goldberg might appreciate), I hope that all the other non-Obama-associated people in this country named "William Ayers" are not facing any blowback over this manufactured controversy.

One-Trick Pony

Anybody who thinks Hamas is not anti-semitic has not read its charter and is simply not paying attention.

Taking the Black-Helicopter Cake

And I thought this was the granddaddy ur-conspiracy theory of this election cycle... spoke too soon!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

No More UCLA Undie Run?


Israel's Creeping Theocracy


Romantic Recycling


Guess Who's Bailing Out Iceland?


Some New L.A. Blogs


Religion and Murder in Israel


In Case You Were Wavering in Your Support for Ralph Nader...

... he plays the hummus card! From Ralph, in the inbox today:

I'm sitting at home reading a Bloomberg wire report about one of my favorite foods -- hummus.

Bloomberg reports that a group of Lebanese businessmen wants the European Union to declare hummus and other of my favorite foods like tabouleh -- as "traditional Lebanese dishes."

The Lebanese businessmen think that other countries are ripping them off.

"It's mostly Israeli companies claiming all our specialities as their own," said Fady Abboud, president of the group. "So many of our specialties are being marketed now as Israeli traditional dishes and among the most famous is hummus."

Abboud wants the EU to grant the hummus legal protection, the same way that the Greeks were given protection for feta, the French for champagne, and the Italians for parmesan cheese.

Now, I don't want to interfere in a international trade dispute.

Suffice it to say that my mother Rose was born in Lebanon.

And she made perhaps the best hummus I've ever had.

And I've had a lot of hummus.

Hummus is nutritious.

And delicious.

It makes you stronger and healthier.

So, Bloomberg's report on the Lebanese claim to hummus got me to thinking about an idea that would help us raise funds to push our substantive agenda onto the front burner of American politics.

Here it is:

If you donate to Nader/Gonazlez by midnight tonight an amount that has the number three in it (three being the number of lemons in my mom's hummus recipe), we'll e-mail to you Rose Nader's hummus recip
e tomorrow.

Campaign Smears and the Law of Threes...


The Winner of This Year's Baseball Playoffs?

Super-agent Scott Boras.

Coates Ponders the Unthinkable

At what point does McCain/Palin become responsible if something terrible (God forbid) happens to Obama?

Sea Slime!

Nothing to do with the McCain campaign, just a potentially endless, clean fuel source.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

High-Tech Heckling

Political trash talk enters the 21st century.

Adventures in Post-Zionism: Chipping Away at Brenner's Halo



Just a thought about Paul Newman (still alive to some!): doesn't his bright and shining example refute the idea that celebrities are just overpaid, oversexed bozos who should stay out of politics and leave it to the 'professionals?' Before Bono (and I don't mean Sonny) was out of diapers, there was the peerless Paul.

Kos: If Credit Is So Hard to Come By...

... how did the NRCC just get a $8 million loan?

German Right and Left Battle Over 'Hitler's Airport'


List of Top Golfing Musicians

Kenny G finally gets his due...

California Prop 8

About that dubious ad featuring Gavin Newsom...

"Wind in the Willows" Turns 100


Pretty in Pink


A Look at Tiger Woods's First Golf Course Design

Hard to evaluate until you've played it, but it looks interesting enough. Building a course in Dubai presents some interesting challenges and opportunities. The fact that any piece of property you have to work with is pretty much going to be flat desert means the architect is really going to have to use his or her imagination and imprint his creativity on the landscape. In other words it requires "the vision thing," which makes it a difficult assignment for a novice designer.

And there's the fact that environmentally speaking, a golf course in Dubai is to a links course in Scotland what a Hummer is to a bicycle. But I digress...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

What Else Is New?

Study shows that narcissists run for President...


My only question about Kristof's "racism without racists" column today is how the hell do you write this column and not introduce the term "white privilege," which (as I've said before) is a vastly better, more accurate, less loaded-with-unnecessary-baggage term than 'racism?'

Monday, October 06, 2008

Bill Clinton Does Some 'Splainin'...

... defends himself against charges that he's secretly pro-McCain at 35th Yale Law School reunion, arguing that "I think it is unseemly for a former president to trash the people running for office." Huh?

World's Largest LED Display

That is to say, Beijing's Media Wall, which features "the largest color LED display worldwide and the first photovoltaic system integrated into a glass curtain wall in China, the wall performs as a self-sufficient organic system, harvesting solar energy by day and using it to illuminate the screen after dark, mirroring a day’s climatic cycle." More here.

'Forward' Defends Accepting Republican Jewish Coalition Smear Ads

Richard Silverstein reports.

Bob Schieffer's Band: The Honky Tonk Confidential

Who knew? (I'm not sure who's more out of place at the Grand Ole Opry: the guy who hosts Face the Nation, or the black guy from Hootie & the Blowfish. It's a tough call.)

Wachovia Collateral Damage: Colleges & Universities


Stop the Presses

Rosner is shocked, shocked that the Israelis for Obama video has been -- get this! -- edited in a way that is favorable to Obama! An outrage! Stop the presses! In Rosner's defense, it is certainly ridiculous how many eager Obama supporters forwarded this video to their Florida grandparents, not realizing that just because someone like Arnold Jacob Wolf is a rabbi, and says Obama is good for Israel, or Naomi Chazan is a former Knesset member and says Obama is good for Israel, this is not likely to persuade the readership of Commentary or the buyers of Brigitte Gabriel's book... for precisely the reasons Rosner suggests... and on a more basic level because, well, not all rabbis, and not all Israelis, and not all Jews, are the same! If anybody it is the forwarders, not the forwardees, who are being misled... by a debate that is based on false premises.

And who or what is responsible for the dumbing down - which is the real scandal - of the whole debate about Israel and the America-Israel relationship, that leads people to think in terms of simplistic platitudes like "good for Israel?" At bottom it is the staggering contempt that politicians from both sides of the aisle, and their journalistic enablers like Rosner (who is not only intelligent enough to know better, but does know better, and panders anyway) have for American Jews and their supposed fealty to Israel-right-or-wrong tribalism.

Wolfson's Predictable Prediction

A redesigned Sullivan accuses Howard Wolfson of pro-Clinton spin when Wolfson argues that McCain has (already) lost the race because of the economy.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Why Is Government in the Golf Business?

Rocket golf
Originally uploaded by SvendO
An interesting piece about the hit-or-miss nature of the private management services hired by cities to run their municipal golf courses. I don't know if golf course privatization holds larger lessons for privatization in general but my sense is that it's hard to generalize about either. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't. Obviously if you have a corrupt political machine awarding the contracts it's a problem. But there's a larger problem. Why not use the public land in a more economically productive or at least democratic way? A football field is 1.32 acres - you could fit a hundred of them in the average golf course, and probably still have room for a community garden and some tennis courts to spare. Plus there aren't that many golfers, and 20% of the golfers play 80% of the rounds. I have a sentimental attachment to golf but you have to wonder whether the government should really be in this business at all.

Too Good To Be True

Israeli astronaut's diary survives the explosion of space shuttle Columbia and lands in Palestine, Texas? If this is really true, Dawkins has got some 'splainin' to do.

Campaign Coverage Hall of Shame

Rich Lowry's "starbursts" comment will surely be inducted into the campaign coverage 2008 hall of shame -- as will these quotes from just a couple weeks ago about the Democrats' frenzy, panic, and impending doom:

Michael Gerson called the Obama campaign "rootless, reactive and panicky"; Carly Fiorina announced that "the Democratic Party is in a full-throated panic over Sarah Palin"; Rush Limbaugh put the left in "a full-fledged panic mode."

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Please Gag Me With a Spoon

Israeli Judeo-fascist leader Daniela Weiss claims the recent right-wing terrorist attack on peacenik luminary Ze'ev Sternhell was actually masterminded by Shin Bet in order to turn public opinion against settlers.


Australia Zoo Massacre

This disgusting kid could grow up to be the next Dick Cheney.

Barack Obama and James Baldwin

Colm Toibin:

Baldwin and Obama, although in different ways, experienced the church and intense religious feeling as key elements in their lives. They both traveled and discovered while abroad, almost as a shock, an essential American identity for themselves while in the company of non-Americans who were black. They both came to see, in a time of bitter political division, some shared values with the other side. They both used eloquence with an exquisite, religious fervor.

As Northerners, they both were shocked by the South. They both had to face up to the anger, the rage, which lay within them, and everyone like them, as a way of taking the poison out of themselves. It is almost as though, in their search for power—Baldwin becoming the finest American prose stylist of his generation, Obama the first black nominee for president of the United States—they would both have to gain wisdom, both bitter and sweet, at the same fount, since no other fount was available. Their story is in some ways the same story because it could hardly have been otherwise.

In Defense of Pork

The bicycle advocacy community is excited about some bicycle pork inserted into the bailout bill, apparently at the behest of Portland Congressman Earl Blumenauer (who can be seen wearing a bicycle lapel pin on his official website)...



*(a) In General- Paragraph (1) of section 132(f) is amended by adding at the end the following:*

*`(D) Any qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement.'.*

*(b) Limitation on Exclusion- Paragraph (2) of section 132(f) is amended by striking `and' at the end of subparagraph (A), by striking the period at the end of subparagraph (B) and inserting `, and', and by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:*

*`(C) the applicable annual limitation in the case of any qualified
bicycle commuting reimbursement.'.*

*(c) Definitions- Paragraph (5) of section 132(f) is amended by adding at
the end the following:*


bicycle commuting reimbursement' means, with respect to any calendar year, any employer reimbursement during the 15-month period beginning with the first day of such calendar year for reasonable expenses incurred by the employee during such calendar year for the purchase of a bicycle and bicycle improvements, repair, and storage, if such bicycle is regularly used for travel between the employee's residence and place of employment.

*`(ii) APPLICABLE ANNUAL LIMITATION- The term `applicable annual limitation' means, with respect to any employee for any calendar year, the product of $20 multiplied by the number of qualified bicycle commuting months during such year.

*`(iii) QUALIFIED BICYCLE COMMUTING MONTH- The term `qualified bicycle
commuting month' means, with respect to any employee, any month during which such employee--

*`(I) regularly uses the bicycle for a substantial portion of the travel
between the employee's residence and place of employment, and

*`(II) does not receive any benefit described in subparagraph (A), (B),
or (C) of paragraph (1).'.

*(d) Constructive Receipt of Benefit- Paragraph (4) of section 132(f) is
amended by inserting `(other than a qualified bicycle commuting
reimbursement)' after `qualified transportation fringe'.

*(e) Effective Date- The amendments made by this section shall apply to
taxable years beginning after December 31, 2008.*

Department of "Not a Good Role Model"


OMG We're Going to Get Killed in Michigan!


Friday, October 03, 2008

Everybody Lies About Reading 'The Economist'


Another Centenary

In 1908 Mark Twain helped to establish a public library in Redding, Connecticut, where he lived out the last years (which were markedly painful, through no fault of Redding's) of his extraordinary life at an estate called Stormfield (which, sounding suspiciously like a realtor, he once described as "the most out of the world and peaceful and tranquil and in every way satisfactory home I have had experience of in my life"). Redding's Mark Twain Library has established a blog to document and celebrate the centenary. On October 11 they're putting together a town-wide birthday party. Stop by if you're in the area.

Sarah Palin, Hockey Imam

Goldberg picks up a gem from Dionne. (Like "celebrity," "erratic," and "flip-flopping" -- campaign memes from the recent past -- it's just vague enough to apply to almost any behavior or gaffe... which in Rovian terms is the gold standard.) Btw, what was with Palin's referencing soccer the other night? Doesn't she know that soccer is un-American?

Another random thought: why is Jeff Goldberg always making nervous jokes about being pegged as a liberal? I think he's got some sort of complex.

Out With the New, In With the Old


Somebody Get Jackie Mason a King-Sized Box of Ritz Crackers For Tashlikh...

Racist windbag and stone-throwing glass-house resident Jackie Mason apparently takes offense at Sarah Silverman's comedy, which to use a topical analogy is a bit like John Edwards taking offense at Usher's disrespect for his wife... if there has ever been a more ridiculous and desperate plea for attention by a so-called entertainer forty years past his prime, I have not seen it.

Happy Centenary, YUP

This year one of America's great academic publishing houses, Yale University Press, is celebrating its centenary, for which they've commissioned a history by Nicholas Basbanes, author of the marvelous and already classic dissection of bibliophilia "A Gentle Madness." Basbanes's history of the Press, I'm delighted to see, is available online for free and in its entirety.

A Little Rosh Hashanah Humor

Richard Israel's now-famous list gets better every year:

Taking a few crumbs to Tashlich from whatever old bread is in the house lacks subtlety, nuance and religious sensitivity. I would suggest that we can do better. Instead:

For ordinary sins, use - White Bread
For exotic sins - French Bread
For particularly dark sins - Pumpernickel
For complex sins - Multi-grain
For twisted sins - Pretzels
For tasteless sins - Rice Cakes
For sins of indecision - Waffles
For sins committed in haste - Matzah
For sins committed in less than eighteen minutes - Shmurah Matzah
For sins of chutzpah - Fresh Bread
For substance abuse/marijuana - Stoned Wheat
For substance abuse/heavy drugs - Poppy Seed
For arson - Toast
For timidity - Milk Toast
For high-handedness - Napoleons
For being sulky - Sourdough
For silliness - Nut Bread
For not giving full value - Short bread
For jingoism - Yankee Doodles
For telling bad jokes - Corn Bread
For being money-hungry - Enriched Bread or Raw Dough
For telling small lies - Fudge
For war-mongering - Kaiser Rolls
For promiscuity - Hot Buns
For racism - Crackers
For sophisticated racism - Ritz Crackers

Make up your own!

Canada's Green Party Superstar

A left-wing, Canadian version of Sarah Palin?

Green Party leader Elizabeth May said she plans to use a “spontaneous, from the heart” approach to explain her party’s platform, which prioritizes reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Ms. May has not driven a car in 20 years.

And just like Sarah Palin, many were concerned about her debating skills. Debating skills in French, that is.

And she's originally from Connecticut!

Swift Boaters Start Your Engines

What these McCain surrogates and toadies lack in integrity they make up for in the curious appropriateness of their names: Orson Swindle, Tom Synhorst, Tony Feather...

Richard Silverstein Analyzes AJC's New Jewish Opinion Survey

I think Richard is reading too much into the data. The supposed decline in support for Obama doesn't strike me as statistically significant, and I'm guessing with leaners added to BO's total he gets close to the 2/3 share that is more or less the Democratic benchmark... besides, to put this into perspective, McCain's hewing to the neoconservative hard-line is bound to maximize his share of the vote among the 30-40% of Jews who are one-issue (i.e. Israel) voters, but will alienate a numerically much greater number of moderate voters, both Jewish and non-Jewish.

All-Star Voter Registration Rally in Cleveland

Every week my friend Chuck Levin registers voters in Los Angeles's Westwood Village with former Baywatch babe Alexandra Paul (and sometimes his nonagenarian mother Sylvia). Baywatch babes are certainly not to be scoffed at, but nothing compared to this... from the Ohio Obama campaign:

This Saturday, October 4th, join the Ohio Campaign for Change at a voter registration rally with NBA All-Star LeBron James, Cleveland Browns Pro-Bowler Willie McGinest, and hip hop leader and entertainment mogul Russell Simmons.

Here are the details:

Voter Registration Rally
with LeBron James, Willie McGinest,
and Russell Simmons

Willard Park by the Free Stamp -- next to City Hall
Northwest Corner of Ninth and Lakeside
Downtown Cleveland, OH

Saturday, October 4th
3:00 p.m.


As anyone who reads this blog will know, I am a big supporter of Shalom Achshav/Peace Now... but I do find it a bit unseemly that they are raising money off the right-wing terrorist attack on distinguished academic and Peace Now activist Ze'ev Sternhell.

Department of "You Know There's Something Wrong With Your Financial System When..."