Sunday, November 30, 2008

Trouble In Paradise

Originally uploaded by Faithful Chant
Layoffs here, there, and everywhere. Dubai construction-boom party may be over.

Pondering the End of Sushi

Flickr Loves Sushi. Mmm.
Originally uploaded by drp
Future of bluefin tuna looks dark. "Let's just hope people enjoy horsemeat rolls."

Choosing Sides

I'm a sucker for anything by Joan Didion, but I found her account of America entering an "irony-free zone" in this NYRB forum particularly fetching, because Didion is perhaps the most temperamentally ironical of all our cultural critics, and knows of what she speaks... and like Astaire to Didion's Rogers Darryl Pinckney follows her with a big wallop of irony - "I am full of inappropriate friendliness to white people and even suspect myself of being patronizing toward them"... and to paraphrase one of Pinckney's other points, that time is "on the side of" (some are suspicious of this formulation; they tend to be those whose graffiti-covered graves we will be pissing on in a few years) gay marriage -- I would say that time is on the side of irony.


If you needed evidence for how much the Orthodox Union is in bed with the Republican Party, look no further: here is the OU defending President Bush's use of a Christmas tree on the White House Chanukah card, which even Laura Bush apologized for. Sure, it's a trifle (compared to WMDs, Katrina and torture) but for chrissakes stop trying to defend the indefensible!

Makes Me Wanna Puke

Reading this gobsmackingly idiotic AP story one would think that Samantha Power's main claim to fame in life was calling Hillary Clinton a monster. Not the fact that she teaches at Harvard, or wrote a best-selling book about genocide (think about it - a best-selling book about genocide), that she became a respected war correspondent when still in her mid-twenties, or that she had the perspicacity to get on board the Obama high-speed elevator before it left the ground floor... none of these accomplishments are mentioned, let alone mentioned in the very first sentence of the piece... no, what's really important about Ms. Power is that once she slipped up in an interview and said something slightly stupid (for which she apologized profusely) that she will never live down in the eyes (lens?) of the philistine gotcha political media.

Happy Birthday, Reason Magazine

It's a fine little publication worth reading even if you're repulsed by Objectivist personal ads.

Bogota's Bin Laden

Beloved citizen patrolman monitors the most dangerous streets of Colombia's capital dressed as Osama Bin Laden.

Lieberman: I "Assume" I'll Run in 2012

I don't see it happening - Joe's pissed off too many people in Connecticut, and he knows it. And if he thought the merciless harassment he experienced on the campaign trail (Connecticut bloggers are a great bunch of people - I really mean that - but let's face it, they can be assholes) was bad in 2006, just wait till 2012. It makes me cry just thinking about it, and I don't even like Lieberman. If I were Joe, I'd spare myself and my family the aggravation and apply to be Alan Colmes's replacement on Hannity & Colmes.

As an aside, I'm not sure why Mark Davis (a generally excellent political reporter) asks Lieberman about running on the "Connecticut For Lieberman" party line, as the CFL party has been hijacked (in perfectly legal fashion) by anti-Lieberman activists. Joe is no dummy, and if he intended to run again as an independent, I think he would not have allowed this to happen quite so easily.

More Problems for the Super-Rich

First it was skimping on their mistresses, and now no more trips to the exclusive private ski lodge... what's next in this tragic litany of woe?

Palestinian Soldiers in the Israeli Military


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Obama's Senate Replacement


Vietnam Vets Confront the Truth About US War Crimes


Teachable Moment for Tweeting?


Lee Abrams Strikes Again

Tribune Company innovation guru/douchebag Lee Abrams is at it again. Can the New Yorker (or Jeff Goldberg, if he is so inclined) please please please do a big, no-holds-barred profile of this monster and expose him once and for all for the fraud he is?

Happy Birthday to the Giant Pink Bunny With Sunglasses


Lawrence Solomon is a Fraud, and He Knows It, Too

Richard Littlemore:

Self-described "environmentalist" Lawrence Solomon has become the toast of the oil-industry-backed climate change denier community ever since the spring 2008 release of his book, "The Deniers: The World-Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud (and those who are too fearful to do so)".

The problem, then and still, is that nobody in Solomon's overheated text actually denies that humans are causing climate change. He admits as much on Page 45 of his book, saying:

"As these rather dramatic reversals for the doomsday view mounted, however, I also noticed something striking about my growing cast of deniers.

"None of them were deniers."

He'll be whoring himself next week (Dec. 2) on an open conference call sponsored by the US Chamber of Commerce. (I've just registered - is it possible to throw a virtual pie through the airwaves?) One wonders why at the current juncture, with the US economy in free-fall, a business advocacy organization would busy itself with pumping money into climate-science bamboozlement. "Deniers" is also on the Chamber's list of top ten books of 2008.

UPDATE: When I wrote this post originally I had no clue about the troubling connection of soon-to-be National Security Adviser James Jones to the Chamber (and in particular its energy platform).

Sydney Opera House Architect Dies


Bad News From Boston

I just noticed that Chuck Turner, a Boston city councillor who has done much to forge alliances between white liberals and communities of color, promote green jobs, and clean up the Dorchester neighborhood (I met him at the Schumacher Society lecture series a couple years back), was indicted last week as part of a wide-ranging FBI corruption investigation. Let's hope the charges are unfounded - otherwise, let's hope he faces justice.

Maybe Not Such a Surprise?

Kaus gets a tip suggesting that Indian authorities may have expected an attack in Mumbai, beefed up security for a while, then backed off...

Mr. Nobody

Nobody could possibly have predicted the financial crisis, says Robert Rubin (courtesy of Yglesias)... just as nobody was saying Iraq might not have weapons of mass destruction. I don't know much about him, but this Mr. Nobody seems to be the only person inside the beltway with a decent head on his shoulders.

Politico And The Netroots

On reflection I think what was most interesting about this little flap surrounding a bogus global warming story in Politico is the enormous latent hostility demonstrated by left-liberal bloggers towards the online political journal. Adam Reilly of the Boston Phoenix has dug into some of the background of why the netroots are suspicious of Politico -- and it's mainly a few cherry-picked examples of bad stories baked into a conspiracy theory involving Politico's financial backers (ties to Augusto Pinochet - that'll send the lefty bloggers to their keyboards!). But the Lovley story is the type of clownish reporting that undermines what little remains of traditional "journalistic objectivity." Karl Rove and Steve Schmidt may beg to differ, but I've never been convinced that a sustained assault on the press is good long-term political strategy... so frankly I'd prefer if Politico simply didn't give the netroots such perfect opportunities for letting the dogs out.

Losing Its Mojo?

In the original version of this "All Things Considered" story (it's since been changed) about the Mumbai attacks, NPR reporter David Folkenflik brutally mangles the name of the Orthodox Jewish sect (Chabad Lubavitch) from which the rabbi and rebbetzin killed in Mumbai came. Did anyone else hear this? It was only in the initial 4 pm broadcast of the story - in subsequent broadcasts it had been corrected. I almost lost control of my car when I heard it, since you almost never hear such things mispronounced on public radio. Is NPR, supposedly the gold standard of East Coast refinement and elitism, losing its mojo?

Some of My Best Friends Are...

RNC Chair wannabe Katon Dawson, defending his membership in a whites-only country club in the Washington Times:

"I believe we are all God's children, and that it is a sin to discriminate against any person of color," Mr. Dawson said, adding that [former Maryland Lt. Gov. and rival candidate for RNC Chair Michael] Steele, who is black, is a "friend of mine."

Just keep on diggin'...



Rosie the Resurrecter

Brent Furdyk on Rosie's attempt to resurrect the '70s variety show:

It was as if she ate an entire season of "Sonny and Cher," washed it down with a little "Donny and Marie" and then puked up this mess, which was probably meant to be an homage but was actually just painfully lame.

And her potentially hilarious bit with Clay Aiken produced "a long, drawn-out and totally unfunny gay joke, in which Rosie and Clay revealed they have something in common: They're both ga . . . Gabriel Byrne fans."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Barbara Wallraff's Inferiority Complex


"Pirate" Ship Sunk By India Actually Thai Fishing Vessel?


Hillary Clinton Cabinet Appointment Unconstitutional?


"Alternative" Holiday Cookbook


Big Dig Meets Complex Financial Instruments...

... you know that's a recipe for trouble!

Here's A Suggestion

Can't get a ticket for the inauguration? Don't want to pay $400 for that cramped hotel room all the way out in Herndon? No problem! Spare yourself all the trouble and just do the rehearsal.

Magical Mystery Membership

Kevin Drum doesn't quite get how Condi is going to magically get Georgia and Ukraine fast-tracked for NATO membership...

Kristallnacht at 70

Gal Beckerman:

Two weeks ago was the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht. German society, now expert at such commemorations, gestured in all the appropriate ways. Angela Merkel visited the newly renovated Rykestrasse synagogue. Mozart’s Requiem was performed at the Gendarmenmarkt. All the newspapers featured reviews of a new exhibit about the burning and pillaging that augured worse to come. The public centerpiece of all this memorializing was to be a standard resolution, a statement of concern, really—unanimously supported by all the members of the Bundestag—decrying anti-Semitism and calling for renewed vigilance. It almost didn’t happen. When a vote finally took place on November 5, it was only after the ruling coalition of Christian and Social Democrats and the extreme left party had engaged in a brutal round of accusatory historical regurgitation. Der Spiegel said everyone concerned in the episode “should be red in the face with shame.” In the end, to avoid what would have been a full-blown fiasco, two separate statements for the dueling factions were produced and passed.

Why did this no-brainer of a resolution create such problems for German lawmakers?

Dianne Feinstein Discusses Harvey Milk

DiFi opens up about the dark days of 1978... but what is this? "Feinstein, who has possession of White's diary, said his writings revealed a troubled man." Possession of his diary? How'd she get that?

Incidentally, I saw an advance screening of "Milk" last week here in New Haven. Some reviewers have compared it unfavorably to the Milk documentary ("The Times of Harvey Milk") that came out in 1984, which is probably a fair criticism (I haven't seen "Times"). IMHO "Milk" is not a great film, but it's a good political film respectful of its subject and respectful of politics as a central drama in human life, not just as a backdrop or vehicle for some trashy romantic intrigue, or for James Franco and Sean Penn snogging (though surely some tickets will be sold purely on account of the latter).

Here are some photos of yesterday's commemoration ceremony at Treasure Island. (I don't see Mayor Newsom in any of these pics - not sure why.)

Necessity Is the Mother...

Palestinians use 170 car batteries to restart power plant.

Watching People Get Drunk

Chicken Drinking Beer
Originally uploaded by Mark Klotz
Is there a word in German for the intense love so many of us have for watching drunken louts make asses of themselves on camera?

Vatican Goes Green

2,400 solar panels on the 5,000 square metre roof of the Paul VI auditorium. Next up: St. Peter's Basilica?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Senator President Bill Clinton?

You heard it here first.

Koppel to Host MTP?

Very uninformed speculation... I don't see it happening - you've already got Tom Brokaw in the moderator's chair, and what does Koppel bring that Brokaw doesn't, other than a little extra Just For Men in the dressing room? (Hat tip to Calderone.)

Call Me Naive, Too

MJ Rosenberg on third-rate academic, Daniel Pipes employee and former AIPAC apparatchik (AIPACaratchik?) Steve Rosen's jihad against (soon to be National Security Adviser) James Jones: "Call me naive but I would think that anyone on trial for espionage, would keep his mouth shut about security issues and personnel relating to the country he is charged with betraying." Indeed.

California's Brilliant New Cost-Saving Measure

Making prisoners eat cold food!

The Dishonesty of the New Bob Dylan Documentary

"Inside Bob Dylan’s Jesus Years" is funded by Jews for Jesus. Enough said.

Hidden Meaning of Palin's Gobble Gaffe

Speaking in code to Romney, Jindal et al.? (Call me old-fashioned but I think a nice bloody horse's head under the sheets is perfectly sufficient.)

In Bad Economic Times, Rich Cut Back on Mistresses


JFK Was the 'New Oprah,' Too!

Annals of presidential reading (and recommending)...

Monday Morning Surplus Quarterbacking

Did Clinton make a mistake by running up a budget surplus in his second term because "all you ended up doing was just giving more money for George Bush to devote to tax cuts for the rich," as Jon Chait suggests here? It seems like a moot point when you consider that Al Gore could just as easily have become President, and NOT pissed away the surplus with top-heavy tax cuts, in which case Clinton's fiscal discipline wouldn't look like a waste but rather an act of statesmanship setting the stage for two decades of Democratic dominance.

Competing Alliterations

Do you prefer your stimulus package temporary, targeted, and timely; or helpful, hopeful, and humongous?

Another Outed Prop 8 Supporter Resigns

More casualties from Proposition 8. It's not a great thing that anyone should feel compelled to quit his job on account of his political views - but one does have to wonder, do these people not realize their political contributions are public information?

Wonder Boy

Shenanigans finds a striking resemblance between freshman Congressman Aaron Schock and Doogie Howser.

EFCA's Uphill Media Battle

Yglesias suggests that today's CNN labor brouhaha is a bad omen for the prospects of unbiased coverage of the Employee Free Choice Act if and when it gets debated by the 111th Congress.

Terrorist TV

Hamas gets a new medium. Another example of the paradox of the Lebanese "open society": so much free speech, so little sensible speech.

Inauguration Update

Construction has begun on the inauguration platform on the steps of the Capitol. Some fun facts about the platform. (I'm hoping the reason there's no mention of the lumber being 100% sustainably forested according to the Ecosystems Approach developed by the Convention on Biological Diversity is that it's just so obvious that it hardly needs mentioning.)

Martha Nussbaum's Bat Mitzvah Speech

"The Mourner's Hope." Does publishing a bat mitzvah speech count towards tenure?

An Ad for Jim Martin

J.P. Green says Chambliss's record on vets is a soft underbelly.

Bush's Pardons

Seems obvious to me that Bush (like most if not all of his predecessors in the White House) issues pardons not based on merit but on requests made by friends and political allies -- and that alone would account for any regional bias. Of course, if I were Eric Holder being grilled by Arlen Specter about Marc Rich at my confirmation hearing, I might casually ask Sen. Specter if he's diligently investigating any of these....

Lovley's Unlovely Reporting

Grist's David Roberts goes after Politico hack Erika Lovley. Transition news is thin gruel indeed, but still that's no excuse for this sort of garbage masquerading as journalism.

On Alan Colmes Leaving Hannity & Colmes...

The question men and women across America are asking is... "Alan who?"

Karzai: Time For Us to See Other People

Spencer Ackerman thinks Karzai may be floating the idea of a timetable for withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan as leverage in his negotiations with the Taliban. Strikes me as a bit foolhardy. Be careful what you wish for, Hamid.

Getting Ready For "Buy Nothing Day 2008" With Revered Billy


No Love for the Duke

An amusing catch by Natalie Sherman of TPM: an online petition demonstrating "public support" for a Cunningham pardon has only 13 signatures... at a rate of approximately four per year.

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Judis says if any member of the Obama economic team should alarm the left, it's Romer.

Potential Dilemma for Obama?

Durbin pushing for a George Ryan pardon...

Baroque Reflections on Postmodern Culture

Book rec of the day. (Great book jacket!)

A Bit of Language Policing

I've gotten rather used to seeing "Colombia" (the South American country) misspelled as "Columbia" -- so it was a treat to see the Financial Times publish a story last week referring to Eric Holder's impressive career as a US Attorney in the "District of Colombia."

Not Sold On Gates

Robert Parry, who really knows his 1980s government scandals, has some outstanding questions:

What is clear is that after Ronald Reagan took office and sent his campaign chief William Casey over to run the CIA in 1981, Gates’s career took off. Casey, who also was implicated in the October Surprise controversy, elevated Gates to be the assistant director for intelligence analysis and then to be deputy CIA director.

Later, Gates was linked to both the Iran-Contra scandal, which involved the trading of arms for hostages with Iran, and the Iraqgate controversy, the clandestine military support given to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein during his eight-year war with Iran.

So Gates is tied to not one, not two, but three major scandals of the Reagan era. It's worth noting that another expert on Iran-Contra, Thomas Blanton, has called Gates “the ultimate hear-no-evil see-no-evil high official during Iran-Contra.” Some of Gates's statements about his involvement are difficult to fathom. If his boss at the CIA at the time was anyone other than the paranoid and manipulative William Casey, you'd have to say Gates was DEFINITELY lying when he denied knowledge of a diversion of profits to the Contras from arms sales to Iran... and that's being charitable. So we have a liar for Secretary of Defense. But hey, the government is full of liars! The real question is how sincerely they've committed to atonement.

Rahm's Secret Admirers


Monday, November 24, 2008

First Saudi Female TV Anchor Challenges Stereotypes


History and Nostalgia in Video Games


Saturday, November 22, 2008

What the Hell Was CBS Thinking?

On the one hand appointing the likes of Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh to serve as guardians of impartiality is beyond absurd, but on the other hand they obviously know more about bias than anyone else...

Chicago Taking Over the World?

Nabs presidency, top symphony honors...

Theory of the Underdog

What does a fat British political reporter and reality show contestant have in common with Barack Obama? Read to the end of this article.

Ezra Klein Defends Card-Check

Not necessarily as un-democratic as it seems.

Great Conservative Pundit Hand-Wringing of 2008

I think what Tom Tomorrow is saying here is that the death of the GOP is greatly exaggerated, just as the death of the Democrats was greatly exaggerated in 2004, and just as claims like "dot-coms have redefined the fundamental principles of economics" were hopelessly myopic in 1997... which is basically my position on the Great Conservative Pundit Hand-Wringing of 2008. To be successful a political party needs to have a strong activist base plus a compelling issue or set of issues to woo swing voters. Despite all its problems, the GOP still enjoys a huge, pretty reliable block of one-issue (abortion) voters and a good issue (taxes) to go after swing voters. (The GOP has somewhat fucked up its advantage on taxes by defending, out of stupidity or principle, Bush's tax cuts for the rich instead of proposing new cuts for the middle class; and by being victims of its own success -- you can only cut taxes so much before you can no longer get any leverage out of the issue. But until Democrats can convince the public to re-envision government spending as "investment" the GOP's structural advantage on taxes will remain intact.) In other words, the GOP needs to do some tweaking around the edges but ultimately it will be just fine.

Poetry Magazine Comes Out Against Poets

Javier Huerta:

Poets give the mind a motion too changeable and bewitching, to consist with right practice. We must avoid their specious tropes and figures and the vicious abundance of phrase, this trick of metaphors, this volubility of tongue, which makes so great a noise in the world. I saw the soul of Hesiod bound fast to a brazen pillar and gibbering, and the soul of Homer hung on a tree with serpents writhing about it, this being their punishment for what they had said about the gods. For they deserved to be chased out of the lists and beaten with rods. No one can interrogate poets about what they say. The dialectic cannot engage them. Most often when they are introduced into the discussion some say that the poet’s meaning is one thing and some another, for the topic is one on which nobody can produce a conclusive argument. The wit of the fables and religions of the ancient world is well nigh consumed: they have already served the poets long enough; and it is now high time to dismiss them; especially seeing they have this peculiar imperfection, that they were only fictions at first. Poets are liars.

Coates: We Are All House Negroes Now


Super Snark

Ed Rollins on the White House political office: "The distaste for the office is bipartisan: John McCain said during his campaign that he wouldn't have a political shop in his White House. (Then again, he barely had a political operation in his campaign...)"

Obama's Treasury Pick - The View From Asia


Better Never Than Late?

Why weren't Gingrich et al. calling for more lower- and middle-income tax relief before the election, asks Ross Douthat.

Does Executive Authority Corrupt the Mind?

Book rec of the day. (Sherwin Nuland's Foreign Affairs review here.)

End Of History: Ivy League Has Won

Jim Sleeper on human see-saw David Brooks:

For years, Brooks' Ivy fixation has kept him see-sawing: On the one hand, he often displays the pariah's bitter ressentiment toward Yale and Harvard, borne of a slavish attraction to his heart's lost desire (he went to the University of Chicago, so near and yet so far). On the other, Brooks began to display a parvenu's compulsive ingratiation shortly before the Yale Cold War historian John Gaddis, the Reagan diplomat Charles Hill, and other Yale neo-cons welcomed him for a semester in 2002 to teach a course, to sell the Iraq War to students, and to promote his hosts' Bush-worshipping Grand Strategy program in subsequent columns at the Times.

Only a year before, in his Wall Street Journal essay, Brooks had gloated that cleansing Washington of Ivy Leaguers would rid the republic of their characteristic erudite bluffing, arrogant insouciance, and other unrebuttable presumptions of superiority that arouse "both awe and silent hatred" in regular Americans.

Ivy Leaguers - can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

TPM Mocks WaPo


And You Thought Your City Was Dysfunctional...

Los Angeles City Attorney sues City Controller... keep in mind that both of these people have grandiose political ambitions (and egos) to attend to...

Wishful Thinking

MJ Rosenberg trashes the British media's claims about Obama's Middle East policy:

The Palestinian Authority, in a brilliant display of public relations, ran Hebrew-language ads this week, in Israel’s four major newspapers, endorsing the Arab Peace Initiative (formerly known as the Saudi plan) and calling on Israelis to support it, too. The Palestinian Authority is also urging President-elect Barack Obama to put his prestige behind the initiative as a critical first step to help end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The British media claims that President-elect Obama has endorsed it, but these reports are false. The British media has always been rather dodgy when it comes to issues relating to the United States.

I wish it were true. And I hope Obama does endorse the initiative early in his term. But he hasn’t yet.

It is common to hear people (especially, I must admit, people on the left) lament how much less Americans know about people from other lands than they know about us, and how much better the foreign media is at reporting on "taboo" subjects (Israel/Palestine, Iraq civilian casualties, etc.) than our media. There are pebbles and even cobbles of truth in this. But it also true that the foreign media's reporting on US politics is atrocious. Could it be anything but? The system is so complex, the players so numerous, the rules so arcane. Think of Americans trying to grasp cricket and Britons trying to grasp baseball. Yes, yes, true enough. But the journalistic standards of the British media are execrably low, and for their stories about American politics, virtually nonexistent.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Get Me Rewrite

Roger Angell on the 1968 Yale-Harvard Game at which he was (of course) present... and Fallows can't quite recall which Crimson staffer hatched the immortal headline...

Hitler's Private Library


Born-Again Fidel


I have been in Cuba many times in the past decades, but this was the first visit where I heard party members say openly that they couldn't even guess what the old buzzard was thinking. At one lunch involving figures from the ministry of culture, I heard a woman say: "What kind of way is this to waste money? We build a cathedral for a religion to which no Cuban belongs?" As if to prove that she was not being sectarian, she added without looking over her shoulder: "A friend of mine asked me this morning: 'What next? A subsidy for the Amish?'"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Have We Reached Peak Tom Friedman?

Dan Bednarz:

Before getting to that I note that Friedman's modus operandi is to tirelessly see “opportunity” in crisis. He ridicules those who see threats as lacking insight, entrepreneurial spirit, and innovative thinking. To do this, Friedman operates much like the fifties cartoon character Tom Terrific, who possesses a magical thinking cap that transports him out of any jam in which he finds himself. For example, Friedman is waiting for an entrepreneur in a garage to invent the next energy platform -- who cares about finite fossil fuels when the next Steve Jobs is all we really need? In fact, he recently suggested that Jobs -- because he’s invented the iPod -- could rescue the Big-Three automakers. It's that simple; take it from Tom Terrific.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Can't Convince People He's Not Racist...


Michael Pollan For Secretary of Agriculture

Sign the petition! Other possible nominees here.

Ferrari President Invests in Italian Rail Company

Bullet Train
Originally uploaded by brett_flower
Why aren't American auto companies capable of this sort of forward thinking?


Has anyone gotten Mike Gravel's comment on the Alaska Senate race? (He was the last Democrat to represent Alaska in the US Senate.)

Deep Thoughts on Deep Throat

It's been quite a month for the "seminal" porn flick.

If There's a New York Senate Vacancy...

Nydia Velazquez? Andrew Cuomo? Steve Israel? Bill Clinton? (Ok, he doesn't appear to be in the running... and neither does Chelsea.)

Billy Ray Cyrus and Hannity Freedom Concerts: Not to Worry, Miley!

Jason Linkins wonders if Billy Ray Cyrus is intentionally or otherwise sabotaging his daughter's career:

Naturally, one wonders about whether Billy Ray Cyrus' decision to join up on this tour might negatively impact the career of daughter Miley Cyrus, who's more positioned as a global brand, and who produces spastic and apolitical pop marm. Might Billy Ray's actions alienate a significant portion of Miley's fanbase? The answer is: probably not! After all, Miley's tween audience probably couldn't care less about Sean Hannity, and their parents, who may care, have basically established themselves as ineffectual money-fonts who live to get pushed around by their children anyway -- hence the existence of Miley Cyrus.

Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel

This article confirmed for me that aside from Barack Obama the supply of political talent in Illinois that isn't under investigation or indictment is surprisingly thin. Perhaps machine politics just doesn't lend itself to the incubation of inspirational leaders.

My vote is for Jan Schakowsky, not a great political talent but a thoughtful liberal and competent legislator.

Fresh Ayers

I listened to Bill Ayers on 'Fresh Air' today and I must say that I've gone from wholeheartedly despising the man to not being quite so certain. (On the other hand I am certain that Ben Smith's dismissive comment -- "Bill Ayers talks to NPR for 43 minutes, says he was never a terrorist, unrepentant or otherwise" -- does a disservice to his readers. Listen to the whole interview and decide for yourself.)

Ayers makes a persuasive case for a full accounting - he suggests a truth and reconciliation commission -- of the violence and criminality of the 1960s and the Vietnam War. Some of Ayers's actions are indefensible, full stop. But like Robert McNamara, Ayers seems to have a much better grasp of the meaning and legacy of that era than do most of his defenders and detractors. For that alone he should be listened to.

While we are giving credit where credit is due, Terry Gross certainly rose to the occasion in the interview - though unlike Coates I see that as more exception than rule.

Barack, Hillary, and the Saudi Peace Plan

Philip Weiss comments on the London Sunday Times story about Obama throwing his weight behind the Saudi peace initiative that has been getting a lot of attention: "triangulating Jeffrey Goldberg and John Mearsheimer." If the story is correct (and I am somewhat skeptical), I think one has to see Rahm Emanuel and the possibility of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a whole new and different light - if anyone can whip the Arabs and Israelis into shape, it is these two. It's a delicate enough operation that it would force Hillary and Bill to be team players.

On the other hand, if Hillary doesn't agree with this agenda, it might be a big part of her reluctance to accept the job. And of course any perceived pressure on Israel would mean that donations to Bill's foundation from Arab royalty would become a punching bag for the neocon right.

"Go To Alaska and Meet Some Christians"

Bill Kristol, in discussing why American Jews should vote Republican at a Princeton University forum.

The Future of News

Nonprofit journalism has already begun to replace traditional newspapers... nonprofit journalism organizations are still small (Voice of San Diego has a fraction of the staff of the San Diego Union-Tribune; even nonprofit journalism "industry leader" ProPublica has perhaps the same number of reporters as the Worcester Telegram) but knowing that they are not yoked to a business model, these organizations have a brashness and confidence that their demoralized for-profit counterparts do not and cannot. Journalism is dead - long live journalism!

Romney Night in Georgia

Spreadin' the wealth for Saxby. When will he get it through his thick skull that no matter how much he gives to Republican causes, and how much his Church dutifully hates gays, the Christian right will never accept him?

Marilyn Musgrave Thinks Jesus Wants Her To Stay

Christianist Congresswoman refuses to concede. The John Sweeney of 2008?

Pay No Attention to the Gas-Guzzler Behind the Curtain

LA Auto Show begins tomorrow. Just imagine the snarky press if the auto-makers were to unveil an oxy-moronic farce like a "Cadillac Escalade hybrid"! Oh, what's that you say? That's exactly what they are unveiling?

Obama's "Power to the Edge" Strategy


Flashing the Pitchfork?

A friend of mine spent some formative years on Capitol Hill working for Jim Traficant, an experience that he's more than a little hesitant putting on his resume. One wonders if these Bushies will regret this photo.

Howell's Howler

Eric Boehlert goes after Deborah Howell, whose bizarre lack of sensitivity to how newsrooms actually operate suggests the WaPo needs an ombudsman to monitor their ombudsman. Hat tip to Michael Calderone, who has some Howell-unfriendly thoughts as well. (Like Calderone, I don't know "any newspaper editor who would be comfortable asking reporters their political views and then using that information to help determine whether they should be hired or not." And I'm guessing Howell doesn't either. But that doesn't stop her from suggesting it.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Everything But the Kitchen CINC

Juan Cole wonders where the title has gone.

Moishe House Beijing



A lot of people throw around the term "new economy" - but this transformational economic paradigm is the Real McCoy.

So Mark Cuban Probably Won't be Acquiring the Cubs...

Big sigh of relief from Bud Selig? (I have to say I was kind of rooting for Cuban to get the Cubbies - can you imagine him doing a cage match with the Philly Phanatic during the 7th inning stretch? That would have been tremendous.)

Illegal Immigrants, or Asylum-seekers Fleeing Water Discrimination?

Interesting analysis. I won't hold my breath for the Minutemen to launch a massive water conservation publicity campaign.

20 Healthiest Places in America

List of the day. (Includes Sioux Falls, Akron, and other surprises.)

Spam Prospers in Downturn


Rahm Rumors (Rahmors?)

Jim Zogby fact-checks some of the crap floating around about the nine-fingered wonder, e.g. he lost his finger confronting a Syrian tank during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. (Actually he lost it in a meat-slicing accident while working at Arby's as a teenager.) What conspiracy theories lack in veracity they sometimes make up for in imagination.

For what it's worth, the best assessment I've seen of Rahm's Middle East views is by the estimable Lara Friedman of Americans Peace Now (scroll down to III). The way she boils it down: he's not as progressive as some might like, but he's "stayed off the really bad stuff."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Joe the Huckster


What's In A (Secret Service Code-) Name?



I just love the idea of Bibi Netanyahu as the candidate of "hope" and "change."

Didn't Get the Memo

Something about this clip of Anderson Cooper on Jay Leno suggests that Leno didn't get the memo that Anderson is, um, you know, gay.

Kos: Fuck Ralph Nader and His Supporters


Sneak Peak at Plamegate Flick


Sex, Lies, and Subprime Mortgages

Just when you thought the story of the subprime fiasco couldn't get any more sordid...

High Fiving in the Newsroom -- Over Layoffs?

Bill Boyarsky is understandably bemused by Lee Abrams, the man tasked with slowly and systematically torturing the LA Times to death (and who looks a bit like the love child of Jon Lovitz and Mark Twain):

“In a year, it will be a pretty hot newspaper,” [Abrams] said. The Times crew is “working at it but it is hard.” They must “make it happen but it’s going to happen slower” than he would like.

He likes the Sunday Times. “If they could do 365 days a year what they did on the last two Sundays, it would be great,” he said. He didn’t mention what Sunday stories or displays caught his fancy.

And, he doesn’t seem to think the Times shows its wares very well. As an example, he said entertainment business news is scattered around the paper. “Compartmentalize it, put it in one place,” he said

“I think they have the talent,” he said. “It is just how it is packaged and put together. It is called noticeability. It is just not noticeable.”

And finally he believes you can do a better job with a smaller staff. “I don’t think the L.A. Times has gotten there yet,” he said. The Chicago Tribune, on the other hand, “learned how to be better with a smaller staff.” He said Tribune staff members are so enthusiastic over the changes that “people are high fiving.”

After hearing Abrams, my advice to the remaining Times staff is to read the Chicago Tribune every day, dig out the last two Sunday editions of the Times and try to figure out what exactly he’s talking about. And let’s have more of those high fives.

Day of Protest

A decent roundup of today's nationwide Prop 8 protest rallies. (It seems inappropriate to "protest" at San Francisco City Hall, where the Mayor has been the #1 supporter of marriage equality - but I guess City Hall is the default location for protests in America for symbolic as well as logistical reasons.) Andrew Sullivan rounds up some photos from across the country, including (!) Grand Forks, North Dakota.

I went to the event in Hartford, Connecticut, where about 100 people showed up (fewer than expected, perhaps, but dissatisfaction with Prop 8 has been overshadowed in our state by satisfaction with Connecticut's recent embrace of marriage equality), including a number of clergy as well as infamous Connecticut counter-protester Zeqir "Ziggy" Berisha, who at first didn't seem to know what the protest was all about, but once informed by passersby, announced in barely comprehensible English that we (Prop 8 opponents, both gay and straight) were "spreading AIDS." But everyone maintained their dignity and composure. Rainbow flags and a proliferation of piercings notwithstanding, we looked like the mainstream and he looked like the fringe.

Wild Wordsmith of Wasilla

Dick Cavett on Sarah Palin.

The Disenfranchisement of Ex-Felons


Media's Minnesota Debacle

Media Matters pushes back against the "Florida 2000 = Minnesota 2008" meme.

Michael Steele Reality Check

"Doing well" with women, minorities, and African-Americans is all relative with the GOP. That said, it is hard to believe that after two elections in which non-Southern Republican candidates were massacred, the increasingly "white, rural, regional" GOP would be so stupid as to elect a Southerner to be RNC Chair... which makes me think Steele and Saul Anuzis have a leg up, but then again maybe I'm just overestimating the GOP.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Not Enough Gambling Options Out There For You?


GOP Says "Me, Too"

What Jonathan Martin says about the cynical "me-too'ism" of installing Michael Steele as RNC Chairman could perhaps equally be said (and Daniel Larison has said it) about Bobby Jindal's 2012 presidential prospects.

Best Books of 2008

Amazon weighs in.

Hard Times

Connecticut is on the verge of losing two of its five daily newspapers.

Mystifying Statements of the Day

I'm somewhat mystified at Ben Smith's attempt at a benign reading of Rahm Emanuel's father's remarks about Rahm not mopping the floors at the White House. If Rahm apologized, that's a pretty good indication he knew his father had stepped in it, no?

I'm also somewhat mystified at Richard Silverstein's way, way, way off-base criticism of Jeffrey Goldberg here. I was on the IPF call Silverstein mentions and it was quite clear at the time (perhaps less clear from the transcript) that Goldberg was only emphasizing that Rahm is "essentially an Israeli" in the context of providing cover for NOT being a rubber stamp to Likud-type policies, whereas Silverstein somehow construes the rubber stamp part as an "afterthought." And Goldberg is an "uncritical supporter" of Israel? C'mon, please.

Settlers Who Long To Leave the West Bank


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Green Luxury


Arianna Not Doing Enough to Promote Women Writers?


Auto Bailout Beachhead For Universal Health Care?


World of Our Fathers

The pro-Palestinian left's attempts to attribute to Rahm Emanuel the extremism of his father are reminiscent of the pro-Israel right's attempts earlier this year to blame Rob Malley (and Barack Obama) for the extremism of Malley's father.

About That "Martin Eisenstadt" Hoax...

The whole episode seems like a pure product of the media's sloppiness with vapid terms like "high-ranking Republican official," "top campaign official" and "senior aide."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

America's Defense Meltdown


Will the Connecticut Democratic Party Censure Joe Lieberman?

Since it looks increasingly like Lieberman will hold onto his chairmanships, this may be the only kind of accountability that he faces (other than being harassed by bloggers every time he makes a public appearance in Connecticut, and having the Connecticut For Lieberman political party taken over by anti-Lieberman activists).

Everyone's Answering Questions Now

Sarah Palin, AIG...

No Opinion?!?!

There's some interesting stuff in this look at the 2010 California gubernatorial contenders... including the fact that 1/3 of Californians have no opinion of Jerry Brown, who is "only" the state Attorney General, a former two-term governor, chairman of the California Democratic Party, Mayor of Oakland, and Presidential candidate. I understand that a lot of Californians may not remember Brown's previous service as governor (1975-1983 was a long time ago, and in California terms, eons), but the guy has done a lot of stuff since then.

And one can only assume that Meg Whitman would basically run as the standard-bearer for Schwarzenegger Republicanism. We'll see how that goes.

Cameron Vs. Van Susteren

Speaking of bruised media egos... Fox News infighting?

All the Plagiarism That's Fit To Print

I went to a lecture earlier tonight by NY Times science reporter Andrew Revkin who made an offhand but entirely sincere remark that Tom Friedman's latest book contains a lot of Revkin's reporting, ideas, insights, etc., without any kind of attribution. Revkin also played a song about climate change (he's got an excellent voice, and is not a bad guitarist, either) and plugged his excellent NYT blog, Dot Earth.

Busy Eccentrics Get Busy and Eccentric

Esperanto bloggers are none too happy about Cullen Murphy's gentle mocking of Esperanto ("the international language that works!") in his recent WSJ piece on the follies of language reform.

Rest in Peace

Not sure why it hasn't made the "paper of record" yet, but Florence Wald, founder of the first hospice in the United States and a towering figure in American nursing, died last week at her home in Connecticut. (And it was fitting that she should die in the comfort of her home, as she helped so many others to do.)

Time Flies

Speaking of Karate Kid, I was checking out the list of birthdays in USA Today the other day and was shocked to see that Ralph Macchio just turned... 47.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

I agree with Jason Linkins that Barack Obama pretty much has Time "Man of the Year" locked up (has there ever been less of a contest for this 'honor?'), though alternative choices (Sarah Palin!) should be duly considered...

Glimpses of the Dark Side

Jeff Goldberg has taken to posting some of the hyper-Zionist wingnut e-mail from his inbox. Not to be missed.

Our People Will Call Your People

Inauguration tickets brush-off.

Ted Haggard: Pity Me!

Money quote: "We consistently blow it." Heh.

Not Big Three's Fault?

Megan McArdle says the Big Three's problems are not entirely the UAW's fault, but pretty close. (She says blame the dealers, too -- I think I will!) It's a common argument: we can't blame the Detroit auto-makers for putting so many eggs in the SUV basket because the profit margin for compacts is too small... but McArdle adduces an especially galling variation on the theme. The unions actually forced a culture of passivity onto the management: "30 years of worrying how to meet the UAW's bill left a corporate culture that was not geared towards innovation, nor towards making small, efficient cars." That's right - labor is responsible for the flawed corporate culture and disastrous management decisions of Chrysler and GM. Failure to embrace hybrid technology? Killing the electric car? Not pushing for national health care reform decades ago to address their legacy costs? All the unions' fault.

What is particularly offensive about this argument is that auto workers are almost surely going to get shafted - pensions cut, health benefits curtailed, wages slashed - no matter what happens to the Big Three. To heap all the blame on them for Detroit's problems on top of that... it's just too much.

Letting Go

I guess Andrew Sullivan's getting some flack for continuing to go after Palin. Why shouldn't he, when she won't give up on Ayers? (Josh Marshall's advice: "step away from the mic.")

Vitter Primary Challenger Wanted

Non-porn stars need not apply.

Cindy McCain's Affair

Is it just me, or does the guy in the photo look kind of like Schwarzenegger?

Airport Politics


Prop 8 and Musical Theater

Andrew Sullivan called him the "dumbest man alive." Now he's resigned.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Getting to 60

Various people, including Kaus, are asking if the Democrats (or Obama) really want to get to 60 in the Senate. I think the answer is yes, though obviously because of moderate Republican and conservative Democrat defections from their respective caucuses there are different formulas to get to 60 on any given issue. So it's not a magic number like 270 electoral votes. It's kind of a fake magic number.

But if the Democrats don't get there they won't be heartbroken. Take the Alaska race: is it really so terrible for the Democrats if Stevens wins? He's the poster boy for the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the GOP. He's the perfect guy to have kicking around so that you can kick him around. If Begich wins, that's cool, too. And if 60 is symbolically important in terms of whether or not people blame the Democrats solely (rather than just 75 or 80%) for an ineffective Congressional session, then maybe it's better that the Republicans keep the Georgia or Alaska Senate seats.

Basically it's win-win.

Rock Band Infighting Just Like Post-Election GOP

I was going to check out Blind Melon's show tomorrow night but apparently their whole tour has been cancelled due to prima donna rock star lameness.

Want to Organize Like the Obama Campaign?


Stimulus package - Democrats Need to Think Bigger

Perhaps much bigger. Of course it's much easier for China to err on the side of "too much stimulus" than it is for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

Here's an idea... wasn't the $40 billion China spent on the Olympics kind of a stimulus package, too? If every city in America hosts a big international event over the next two years, requiring major infrastructure improvements, that could juice the economy with tens of billions of dollars. And without the political controversy!

Antonio As Financial Whiz (and Cheap Date)

Like Mickey Kaus I'd been wondering about Antonio Villaraigosa's presence on the Obama national-psychotherapy-cum-reassurance-for-Wall-Street economic advisory team. Now I have enormous respect for Antonio as a politician, but let's face it, a guy who failed the CA bar exam four times cut an odd figure being there at Obama's Chicago press conference in the company of Rubin, Volcker, Buffett, etc.

My Hispanic informants tell me that Antonio-as-Financial-Whiz has been heavily covered on Spanish-language media, especially but not exclusively around LA... perhaps Obama's people, who've been hawking the 'appointment' left and right to Hispanic journalists, would rather 'reward' Hispanics for their 2-to-1 support by giving Antonio some air-time than by actually having to, say, appoint Bill Richardson to a cabinet post? Patronizing, for sure, but better than Secretary of State Bill Richardson or Janet Murguia as Director of ICE!

Gaydamak Doesn't Talk, He Acts!

So ridiculous it almost defies parody. Does Israel have a Saturday Night Live to mock the pretensions of this shameless billionaire? If not, it needs one.

I am feeling down in the dumps about the Jerusalem mayoral race. Of the three main candidates, none is remotely progressive. They are all just pathetic bit players in the endless Israeli culture wars.

This is the other reason I have trouble being optimistic about the future of Jerusalem. The Wiesenthal Center wants to build a Museum of Tolerance on top of an old Muslim cemetery? Only in the Middle East.

Blue Dot? Blue Circle?

Chuck Todd et al. wonder what to do about Omaha.

The Changing Face of Urinals


Monday, November 10, 2008

Income Tax in New Hampshire?

That would truly be the last straw in the state's conversion from rock-ribbed "Live Free or Die" Republicanism to "Massachusetts North."

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Levi-Strauss at 100

Benjamin Ivry:

Close-ups of the writer speaking give us the impression that we are watching a mind with the energy and verbal grace of Voltaire unexpectedly alive in our own time, even though his influences — “geology, Marxism and psychoanalysis,” which he called his “three mistresses” — are very contemporary.

Trying to Out-Stupid the TSA


Gotta Love the Jews

Young, impressionable minds are invited - nay, encouraged - to attend as prominent New York synagogue hosts Hitchens in God debate.

Mark Foley Comeback?

A gift that keeps on giving.

Steve Schmidt Is Disappointed With the Prop 8 Result?

Apparently! I know that in the past Schmidt has said supportive things about gay rights to Log Cabin Republicans and so forth, but this is the guy who bears as much responsibility as anyone for putting biblical-literalist, Pentecostal creationist culture warrior Sarah Palin on the GOP ticket in 2008. Am I missing something, or does Schmidt need to have his head examined?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Push-Polling by Rasmussen?


There's Not A Lot To Be Proud Of...

... for San Francisco 49ers fans in the last few years, but there is this.

A Statistic That Explains the Election


Remembering Studs

Bruce Shapiro:

For a young journalist, having some opportunities over time to watch Studs work, and see just how deep his craft ran, was a revelation. Studs developed self-deprecatory clowning to a high art--getting into pitched battles with recording equipment, for instance--as a tactic for putting anxious interview subjects at ease. Authors on his show were almost invariably impressed by how he would enter the studio with their books scored with his scrawled notations as if he were preparing a term paper. Sure, he was a careful reader, but it was also theater, conveying immediate respect to writers accustomed to clueless celebrity interviews.

Don't Get Too Excited...



Fallows thinks that McCain's appearance on last night's SNL suggests McCain has come to terms with losing.

NYT 'Discovers' Green Jobs

Rust Belt to Green Belt. It's not news to Van Jones.

College Football Mental Health Break

I normally don't care much for college football, but that was a tremendous football game last night between Texas and Texas Tech, no? (I was hopelessly torn between watching the end of the game and tuning in to the opening skit on SNL.) Michael Crabtree looks to be headed to a big-time career in the NFL.

I do wonder about the logic of penalizing the home team just because their fans are stupid and run onto the field before the game is officially over -- or, in the case of Texas Tech fans, prematurely running onto the field not once but twice in the closing seconds of the game (before and after Crabtree's winning touchdown was reviewed).


Have there ever been two worse surrogates on the same Sunday talk show as John Kerry and Fred "Why Bother Actually Watching the Palin Meltdown Interviews Before Stridently Criticizing The Interviewers' Performance?" Thompson on this morning's MTP? I mean, you get up early on Sunday morning to check out the political shows, and these two droopy-faced specimens of political statuary come on and put you right back to sleep.

Mickey Kaus's Halloween Costume