Thursday, January 29, 2009

Right Back Atcha!

Great moment on The View on Thursday when Barbara told Condoleezza Rice that she was "cute-looking."

Primary Challenge to McCain in Arizona in 2010?


This is Bart Simpson Calling on Behalf of Scientology


College Professors to Earn Merit Pay Based on Student Evaluations?


Fun With Actuarial Tables

What are the chances that a conservative member of the Supreme Court will die before the end of Obama's second term?


Dan Savage has a new coinage. Some background here (scroll to the bottom).



Another Day, Another Lobbyist Waiver



Coates: "How do we love a sport that is taking years off the life of its players?"


My only comment about the end of the Blagojevich ordeal is one that I've been meaning to make for a while: why on God's green earth did so many people jump on the "Blago is a political genius!" bandwagon when he appointed Roland Burris? It was a sleight of hand that momentarily distracted the media from Blagojevich's own problems (certainly not because it helped shore up African-American support, which one would only think if one knew nothing about Illinois politics and furthermore thought black people were stupid), but it ended up being like a Hail Mary pass caught by the receiver twenty yards short of the endzone and immediately tackled by three cornerbacks and two safeties. Genius would have been a Checkers speech, a jujitsu move transforming weakness into strength... but Blago played it more like Nixon in 1974 than Nixon in 1952 and bungled his chances. Any hack who thought for a moment he was a political Einstein should be dropped from your RSS feed.

P.S. Is Blago the new Jerry Springer?

The Dawn of the Color Photograph: Albert Kahn's Archives of the Planet

"In 1909 the French banker and philanthropist Albert Kahn launched a monumentally ambitious project: to produce a color photographic record of human life on Earth. An internationalist and pacifist, Kahn believed that he could use the new autochrome--the world's first portable, true-color photographic process--to create a global photographic archive that would promote cross-cultural understanding and peace. Over the next twenty years, he sent a group of photographers to more than fifty countries around the world, amassing more than 72,000 images. Until recently his collection was all but forgotten. Now, a century after he began his "Archives of the Planet" project, this book--richly illustrated in color throughout--and the BBC series it follows are bringing Kahn's dazzling early twentieth-century pictures to a wide audience for the first time, and putting color into what we usually think of as a monochrome world." Book rec of the day.

One Dimensional Man

Bernard Avishai on Bob Simon:

Bob Simon, a graduate of Brandeis University, told me years ago (over a balmy Tel-Aviv dinner, back at the time of the Camp David Agreements) that he got his break with CBS in the late 1960s because he was able to deliver an interview with Herbert Marcuse, the reluctant NewLeft icon. Marcuse had been Simon's teacher at Brandeis and his One Dimensional Man was then all the rage. I thought of this wistful conversation watching Simon's grim report on Sixty Minutes this morning. We will soon hear from media watch groups, accusing Simon of being one-dimensional, or questioning his feelings for Jewish battles. In fact, his report is a testament to how far into tragedy Zionism has come since the Camp David Agreements (and Brandeis hired people like Herbert Marcuse).

If you care to support Simon's reporting, you can do so here.

Love Triangle


So Many Fig Leaves, So Few Olive Branches

Larry Derfner in the Jerusalem Post:

Over the last eight years, since the Oslo Accords blew up and the intifada began, there doesn't seem to be any limit to how nationalistic, how gung-ho, how anti-Arab the public can become. Operation Cast Lead marked a great leap rightward; the upcoming election will be one more; the Likud/Israel Beiteinu/Shas government that comes out of it will be yet another. (Labor will probably serve as the government fig leaf, the totem of "national unity" and sop to Obama, with Ehud Barak, the gifted military technocrat, carrying on as defense minister.)

THERE USED to be a peace camp here that represented a substantial part of the public which could at least put some restraints on the country's nationalist bent. But in the past eight years, the peace camp has contracted and become marginalized to the point that it, too, is a fig leaf, a sop to the Americans.

In truth, it has no voice anymore, no influence, no power to slow the march to war even a step. Some 94% of the country's Jews supported the war in Gaza, according to one poll, which struck me as being about right. What's an opposition of 6%? A fig leaf for a "vibrant democracy."

Reading the Tea Leaves on the Obama/Mitchell Approach

This makes good sense to me: Obama will be tough on settlements, but only as part of charting a "middle course" that includes hawkishness on Israeli security, in line with the "If I'm pissing everyone off, I must be doing something right" philosophy.

Saltsman the Magic Quitter Pulls a Caroline

Drops out moments before the day of reckoning.

The Unhinging of the Wingnutosphere

Sullivan summarizes Drudge: "Nancy Pelosi is handing out a trillion dollars' worth of STD-ridden condoms to illegal immigrants for gay sex while the earth enters a new ice age. Did I miss anything?" (Sullivan's satirical summaries of Glenn Reynolds, Mickey Kaus, et al. are always great fun.)

Steal This Movie

National Film Board of Canada opens its vaults.

The King of Thailand is a Stupid Lame Turd

I will be posting this message every day as long as this man remains under sentence.

Open Letter to George Mitchell

Gershom Gorenberg:

Your arrival, Mr. Mitchell, probably comes too late to affect the election. True, Livni argues that Netanyahu will clash with a U.S. administration that pursues peace. She's right, but voters here haven't yet absorbed that the Bush era is over. Besides, Netanyahu is pretending moderation, promising Tony Blair, "I have no intention of building new settlements in the West Bank."

As you know, this is a con. No Israeli government has officially established a new settlement since the mid-1990s. Instead, they've unnaturally subsidized "natural growth" of existing settlements. Your 2001 report on the outbreak of the second intifada stated that Israel must "freeze all settlement activity, including the 'natural growth' of existing settlements."

You need to insist on this publicly in the months ahead. Trying to satisfy both Washington and the hardliners that dominate his Likud party , Netanyahu will zigzag and crash, just as he did in his first term. Tension with Washington is unpopular here. And muscular American peace efforts change Israeli public expectations of what's possible. Old parties split; politicians adopt new positions. Such ferment brought the election of Yitzhak Rabin in 1992 and Ehud Barack [sic] in 1999 on peace platforms. Feed the ferment, Mr. Mitchell.

Ehud Barack? Wishful thinking!

How Roberto Bolano is Like Barack Obama

Apparently he exaggerated his drug use.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Stick It To Rupert!

Tomasky's suggestions for replacing Bill Kristol, including stealing away Peggy Noonan from the Murdoch empire.

My two cents? Somebody who hasn't been talked about much but whom I think would be great is Bruce Bartlett.

Bucking the Trend

A few newspapers are actually thriving...

Time To Turn Over the New Leaf

George W. Bush
Originally uploaded by Amarendra bhushan
The weather in New England is super-crappy today but I happened to be having a decent day until I went into the back of my local post office to get a heavy package... and I noticed they still had their obligatory federal government picture of Dubya on the wall. After that the day went rapidly downhill.

Guam Hearts Blackwell


Rumors of Death Greatly Exaggerated

Apparently Davos is dying, too.

People Who Need People

Did Streisand sway Specter?

9 Worst Obama Editorial Cartoons

"From the forthcoming collection, Fifth Graders Draw Racial Stereotypes." Ouch.

Lefty Blogger Tom Friedman Derangement Alert

Matt Yglesias: "Based on my reading Friedman probably voted for Barack Obama and probably votes for Democrats more often than not." Please. The man is a fucking Democrat. He's a liberal. Maybe he's too much of a globalization booster for your taste (but hey, Paul Krugman is pretty freakin' pro-globalization), maybe he's not Edward Said when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic shitpile, maybe he's a porn-stached hypocrite, but let's get serious, people! "Probably votes for Democrats more often than not." That's like saying David Brooks probably votes for Republicans more often than not. OF. FUCKING. COURSE. HE. DOES.

I think I need a Sullivan-esque award for worst cases of "lefty blogger Tom Friedman derangement syndrome" - I guess it should probably be called the Matt Taibbi Award.

Who's Most Responsible for the Economic Shitpile?

The Guardian names names.

Facing Facts

The Alhurra TV network was a pathetic and misguided attempt by the Bush administration to create a propaganda outlet in the Arab world that would do for the GWOT what the Voice of America (supposedly) did for the Cold War. Is Obama giving up on it?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Creationist Hate Mail

Sir David Attenborough, who had the temerity to create nature documentaries without crediting God, dishes.

What Else Is New?

Michael Tomasky looks at Hilda Solis's lousy confirmation hearing testimony and sees the labor movement shooting itself in the foot...

John Quincy Adams

I thought he was already dead.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Barack the Magic Negro

It was often asked during the presidential campaign, would an Obama presidency have an impact on hip-hop lyrics? Apparently so! (On the question of whether watering down radical political content is a good thing or not, the jury is still out.)

Mycelium Running

Guerrilla 'shrooming! Book rec of the day.

Is Sundance Dying?

You see this sort of article around quite a bit these days - there is an article by Jack Shafer waiting to be written about how journalists make sweeping assumptions about phenomena that are endogenous to the business cycle and when a different phase of the cycle comes around, the journalists come off looking pretty stupid. You'd think the permanence of Lexis-Nexis would keep them more honest...

Vive La Dynasty!

Kos suggests that despite not being picked, the big winner in the Hillary Replacement Pageant was Andrew Cuomo.

Naval Observatory Restored to Full, Unblurred Splendor


You Couldn't Make This Stuff Up: Blago on The View

It was too bad Joy couldn't get him to do an impression of Nixon saying "I am not a crook." That would have been a really stupendous instance of truth being stranger than fiction.

The Obibi Effect

In case you didn't already know that all politics is personal.

Howard Dean, Professor?


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cousins For Peace

Michelle Obama's cousin Rabbi Capers Funnye is featured in this video promoting Brit Tzedek v'Shalom's latest rabbinic letter...

Is George Mitchell Lebanese?

Well, his mother is (or was). Question: call me an asshole, but isn't it potentially problematic that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007? I mean, writing a report on steroids is one thing, but you wouldn't want your special envoy having to undergo chemotherapy at a critical juncture in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

P.S. An older friend with early-stage prostate cancer reminds me that this type of cancer tends to develop very slowly and in many men is not a significant hindrance or even minor nuisance in their daily lives. And if Mitchell fails to achieve peace in the Middle East, "my prostate is enlarged" is sort of the older man's version of "need to spend more time with my family."

P.P.S. What's this all about? (Via Kaus.) And why is there a picture of Billary?

Two Planes, Two Worlds, Terrorism, Heroism

Andrew Sullivan reflects on the 'Miracle on the Hudson' and America's journey since 9/11...

Here's An Idea for the Middle East

Send over preternaturally successful police chief Bill Bratton to bang heads together! Hey, if the guy took on the Bloods and the Crips...

Nothing New Under The Sun

"President Obama's awkward swearing-in ceremony and subsequent do-over of the oath of office drew a great deal of attention, but the double-dip does not make him unique in American history. Nor is he the first president to take the oath without a Bible, as occurred during his second swearing-in ceremony Wednesday night." [Continue reading...]

Whoopi Will Save Me!

Here's some must-see TV: Blago goes on The View on Monday. Apparently he made the decision after detecting in Whoopi a hidden well of sympathy for his cause. I would probably rate this at about nine on the Blago-insane-o-meter.

Breaking Out of a Hyphenated Relationship With America

Is Holbrooke the envoy to India and Pakistan, or to Pakistan and Afghanistan? The foreign policy world is abuzz with rumor and speculation on this question.

Blaming the Media is So Played Out

How true. A perverse and self-destructive fad, like a shitty teen pop record that went platinum and is lodged in everyone's head - even those who despise it can't help but sing along. Arab-Israeli wars are horrible enough without the chorus of whining from media "watchdog" hacks.

When your ideas suck and your political organizing sucks, blame the media for the fact that everyone does not share your opinion. A simple formula that has launched a thousand careers.

Whence Hamas And Whither Hamas

Hamas is Israel's Frankenstein... but how to kill the monster? Key quote:

Efraim Halevy, a veteran Mossad officer who negotiated the deal that released Sheikh Yassin, says the cleric's freedom was hard to swallow, but Israel had no choice. After the fiasco in Jordan, Mr. Halevy was named director of Mossad, a position he held until 2002. Two years later, Sheikh Yassin was killed by an Israeli air strike.

Mr. Halevy has in recent years urged Israel to negotiate with Hamas. He says that "Hamas can be crushed," but he believes that "the price of crushing Hamas is a price that Israel would prefer not to pay." When Israel's authoritarian secular neighbor, Syria, launched a campaign to wipe out Muslim Brotherhood militants in the early 1980s it killed more than 20,000 people, many of them civilians.

Basically it's the realists (like Halevy) versus the neocons, just as in America.

UPDATE: Halevy (not Halevi!) in TNR: Hamas is dead. Long live Hamas!

The King of Thailand is a Stupid Lame Turd

I will be posting this message every day as long as this man remains under sentence.

No Toomey/Specter Rematch


Death to Campaign Finance Disclosure by a Thousand Cuts?

Prop. 8 donor disclosure dispute heats up.

Testament of a Vermont Secessionist

Ian Baldwin:

In cities, neighborhoods, towns, suburbs, rural villages, bioregions everywhere the forces of liberty and innovation and local self-reliance are going to surge, with or without Empire. We must hold our stand on the land, pull down the flag that signals our forlorn allegiance to Empire, and hoist a new flag, founded on a new allegiance -- to liberty and unity in one small place. For me, Vermont!


Hipster Mag Defends Tony Judt, Sort Of

"You would be forgiven, upon reading the panoply of negative reviews of Tony Judt's Reappraisals, for thinking that Judt's latest book was a book-length screed, a Kassam rocket of scorn and derision directed at the state of Israel. Imagine your surprise when on cracking the spine of Reappraisals you find all of three essays, out of twenty-four, dedicated to Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—one of which is primarily about the life and work of Edward Said, himself neither exclusively nor principally concerned with Israel. The gap between the perceived and actual subjects of Judt's work is startling. In fact the book deals mostly with the shameful intellectual history of European Communism, western and eastern versions. It expresses Judt's desire to form a new leftist canon purged of communist influences, yearnings, and ideas." (N+1)

Ten Things You Didn't Know About Kirsten Gillibrand

From TNR. This is also interesting - a book project or PhD thesis ripe for the plucking!

Literary Whores of the World, Unite!

An inevitable development: a streamlined, commercialized ('twas not ever thus?) blurbing process.

A Sad Metaphor for the State of the Newspaper Industry


Memo to George Mitchell

Bernard Avishai says it's not enough to act like Dr. Phil.

Joseph Cornell and Astronomy: A Case for the Stars


Expert of the Day

I was on a conference call last week with Nathan Brown, professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University and a Carnegie Endowment senior associate. When it comes to Palestinian politics, the dude knows his stuff. These are his pointers for Obama.

Sweet Caroline

I can't say I really learned much from Larissa MacFarquhar's profile of Caroline Kennedy that is being much discussed right now in ye olde blogosphere, except that Lawrence O'Donnell is an annoying prick. Oh wait, I already knew that.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Presto Chango

Fraudulent memoir? No problem, just turn it into a novel.

Slumdog's Bombay Premiere

I mentioned recently that I thought "Slumdog Millionaire," while a good film, is extremely and boorishly anti-India. Here is a bit about the reception of the film when it opened in Bombay earlier this week.

Interactive "Good Night, Bush" Presidential Librarium


Weird List of the Day


The King of Thailand is a Stupid Lame Turd

I will be posting this message every day as long as this man remains under sentence.

The Public Memory of Warren G. Harding’s Scandalous Legacy

Remembering failed presidents - how topical. Book rec of the day.

Miracle on the Hudson and Obama

Regarding the "Miracle on the Hudson" two weeks ago, some would see in Chesley Sullenberger's heroism a metaphor for Barack Obama taking the helm of the ship of state and guiding it to safety in perilous times. But to look at it another way, Sullenberger has put President Obama's hefty but not life-saving achievements into perspective, and already displaced President Obama as national hero-in-chief. Obama must now achieve plaudits not through symbolism but through competent governance.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Nun's Life

A blog about being a nun in today's world.

The King of Thailand Is a Stupid Lame Turd

I will be posting this message every day as long as this man remains under sentence.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It Goes By the Name Warren Buffett

Noam Scheiber thinks he knows the real reason Obama sat down with WaPo.

Debbie Schlussel is a Lunatic

Patrick Goldstein is the latest to notice.

Wartime PR

David Forman asks an interesting question about Israel's PR machine, which was mobilized to unprecedented levels in the latest conflict, and to little effect:

Why isn't there an official spokesman, like Chaim Herzog during the Six Day Way or Aharon Yariv during the Yom Kippur War or Nachman Shai during the Gulf War, individuals who, through their daily updates, can instill confidence and reassurance for a deeply fearful populace, instead of the never-ending bunch of talking-heads - generals and news commentators who give us one big Excedrin headache with their speculative and often contradictory drivel?

Often less is more when it comes to wartime public relations.

Hezbollah Behind Rocket Strikes in Israel's North

Apparently not, as many suspected, a rogue operation by Palestinian groups. There is widespread concern that Hezbollah is desperate to avenge the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh (presumably by Israel), the anniversary of which is coming up.

Inauguration Losers

Maybe this lonely guy just needs one of these.

David Sirota Is Not Happy With the New Senate


Friday, January 16, 2009

Disclosure Issues

Fallows likes the person chosen to be Steven Chu's deputy at DOE, and has some disclosure issues (but still don't expect any leaks or insider access).

Army Hearts Recession

Was anyone else struck when Gen. George Casey expressed excitement to NPR yesterday about how the recession would help the Army meet its recruitment goals?

Taking on the Porn 'Stache

Matt Taibbi goes delightfully overboard in this beat-down of Tom Friedman.

Arne Naess Remembered

Andrew Revkin has a great round-up (remembrances from Peter Singer, Paul Hawken, Daniel Botkin, John Grim, etc.) on the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess, who died this week. A must-read if you have any interest in deep ecology or environmental ethics.

Holocaust Revisionists Giving Up?


Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Word

Jill Lepore's New Yorker piece on breastfeeding taught me a word I didn't know but probably should have: "lactivist." (Also, can I just say how jealous I am of Jill Lepore? The woman holds an endowed chair at Harvard, directs the History and Literature Program there, writes for the New Yorker, (co-)wrote a novel that's just been published, plus she has a family... and she really can't be much more than 40 years old. Sheesh.)

Jane Mayer, Immortalized

The show "24" has sunk to a new low. Reminiscent in its sheer patheticness of this.

Obama Effect?

The new Miss France is bi-racial.

Testicular Fortitude

So I'm reading Glenn Thrush's run-down on today's Senate vote on Bailout Part Deux, and I'm thinking wouldn't it have been something if Roland Burris had used his first vote in the US Senate to brush back Harry Reid, and voted against releasing the funds? You know, balls.

Stimulating Voinovich on the Stimulus

Concerted efforts, seemingly, by Obama and labor allies... One does wonder, as Kaus does in a slightly different context, how much political pressure can really be applied to someone who is retiring...

The Man Who Made Vermeers

"It's a story that made Dutch painter Han van Meegeren famous worldwide when it broke at the end of World War II: a lifetime of disappointment drove him to forge Vermeers, one of which he sold to Hermann Goering, making a mockery of the Nazis. And it's a story that's been believed ever since. Too bad it just isn't true." Book rec of the day.

Those With Whom Obama Should Not Practice Bipartisanship

Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry was on NPR's Talk of the Nation today, and all I can say is that is one crazy motherfucker. While Bush's Supreme Court appointments may have left Roe v. Wade hanging in the balance, I have trouble believing that the anti-choice movement is going to score many political successes when it is apparently taking direction from certifiable lunatics like Terry. Do people who are pro-life really believe this man is helping their cause?

The Tijuana Analogy

Further exploring the specious "what if rockets were being fired on San Diego from Tijuana" analogy...

Sullenberger For Senate?


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Peep Diaries


Joe Lieberman, Just Another Computer-Illiterate Republican

Taking after his mentor John McCain, Joe lets on that he has no idea what a PDF is.

Using Up Stored Vacation Days

Obama telecom policy adviser hula dances with ethics loopholes.

Score One For Condi

US plans to cut loan guarantees to Israel. Of course it's insignificant from a practical standpoint, but symbolically has some importance. I would love to know more about the internal dynamics of this decision ... how did it possibly get past Elliott Abrams and Dick Cheney? Did someone from the Obama team ask for it? Anyway, score one for Condi.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Heroes and Cowards: The Social Face of War


Crazy Bike!

Tall riders have special requirements...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Weekend at Bernie's

Madoff violates court order freezing his assets by trying to mail valuable jewelry to friends and relatives.

Carrion Vetting Snags?


War As Spectator Sport


Is Wrestling the New Baseball?

Ambinder takes a look at Henry Waxman's swan-song... (wow, if you thought baseball had a steroids problem...)

Progressive Jews Debate Gaza

Diane Balser of Brit Tzedek and Rabbi Eric Yoffie of URJ debate on Warren Olney's LA-based public radio show. Good work, Warren!

Playing the Trump Card

I guess we're getting to the point in the Gaza war where everyone starts reaching for their trump card... or to put it another way, everyone just starts saying stupid shit. Here Juan Cole plays the Mohammad Atta card, and here Yonatan Shapira (I've met him several times and admire his work with Combatants for Peace) plays the "Obama is a slave (to AIPAC)" card.

Drawing The Line at the Big Ditch

"The Panama Canal Treaties and the Rise of the Right." Book rec of the day.

Two Pictures of the Israeli Military


Don't Hold Your Breath

Bill Ayers's dream cabinet: "I would have picked Noam Chomsky for state, Naomi Klein for defense, Bernardine Dohrn for Attorney General, Bill Fletcher for commerce, James Thindwa for labor, Barbara Ransby for human services, Paul Krugman for treasury, and Amy Goodman for press secretary." Kind of an odd mix of leftists and liberals, no? Further proof, I would argue, that the left/liberal distinction has lost, and continues to lose, much of its meaning. (Moreover, how does Paul Krugman feel about being in Bill Ayers's dream cabinet?)

Advice To Virginians: Get Out While You Still Can

Robocalling for November 2009 gubernatorial election has already begun.

Jon Stewart on Gaza

Two clips: here and here.

Rhymes With Reagan

It's sort of too bad Tom "Darling of the Liberal Blogosphere" Geoghegan isn't a Republican, because he could run on the slogan "Vote Geoghegan: So In Sync With Reagan That It Rhymes."

Super Mario Dethroned!


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Why Has the West Bank Been Quiet?


No Special Sauce Needed for Electoral Projections?

Chris Bowers takes one more (last?) look at who was hot and who was not in the world of 2008 presidential polling.

Exit Strategy

Daniel Levy: "The speculation among Israeli commentators is that an international demand for a ceasefire is pretty much the only exit strategy Israel has up its sleeve, even suggesting that Israel may intentionally exacerbate a humanitarian crisis in order to force the international community to act (that was the expert analysis on Israeli channel 10 TV last night)."

What Goes Around...

Hamas is fighting with weapons confiscated from Palestinian Authority stockpiles -- many of these weapons came from... guess who? But of course nobody could have seen it coming.

The Politician Formerly Known As Senator Coleman

Al Franken dishes the love. And Roland Burris's epithet is "would-be" (not wannabe?).

Colbert & Colmes?


Flooding the Market

The "Obama Doctrine" of paparazzi pre-emption.

Larry Bird Likes Eminem


Surgeon General Sanjay Gupta?

Obama to tap CNN dude? Didn't CNN dude argue against universal health care in an infamous segment with Michael Moore?

Ralph Waldo Emerson on the Credit Crisis

Writing in the shadow of the 1873 financial collapse: "Less credit there will be? You are mistaken. There will always be more and more. Character must be trusted; and, just in proportion to the morality of a people will be the expansion of the credit system." Ah, progress!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Goldberg: No More Blogging About Gaza

He's headed off to broker a ceasefire... (Hey, take a number, buddy!)

Coincidence Shmoincidence

A new Arab-Israeli war and a restless supervolcano? Say hello to the End of Days!

Impeached With Shoes

Arthur Magazine rings in the new year with a poem celebrating its man of the year (that is to say, 2008), Muntader al-Zaidi:

Balls Out
for Muntader al-Zaidi

We've found Hitler's missing testicle
Lodged in George W. Bush's nose.
Yes ladies and gentlemen
George Bush was snorting Nazi Nuts
When one of them got stuck in the cocaine.

Muntader al-Zaidi attempted a seasonal variation on
Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Sweet
With his shoes.

He really wanted to hit the visiting fascist in the face
The lame duck occupational Caesar of the colony of Iraq
To crack the American crackpot empire
With his shoes.

George Bush ducked al-Zaidi's flying shoes
Just like he ducked
Every single other responsibility of the office he stole.

Duck this George:
Since the nefarious democrats didn't have balls enough to
Impeach you,
al-Zaidi impeached you with his shoes.

The Muntader al-Zaidi College of Journalism at Yale
Now open for admission.

We owe you a pension al-Zaidi.
We are all in prison
Until you are set free.

—Charles Potts

Fine Fueling


Pinching Pennies

Florida prisoners will be camping out. No word on whether or not they still get hot meals.

The Times They Are A-Changin'

New York Times accepts front-page ads for the first time.

Energy Infrastructure

Eliot Spitzer wants "smart meters."

The Mainstream Media's Favorite Neocon

William Hartung on John Bolton's "veering from unapologetic exercises in hypocrisy to unhinged flights of fancy." When was the last time someone had pieces on the NY Times and WashPo op-ed pages on the same day, let alone someone with as dismal a record of public disservice as Bolton?

Legal Eagle Blasts From The Past

A footnote in Elena Kagan's distinguished biography is that she was one of the Bill Clinton judicial appointments that never came up for a hearing thanks to stonewalling by Orrin Hatch. It will be interesting to see what happens to the remainder of this group of (already-vetted) legal eagles - whether they are re-nominated for the judiciary, given a leg-up for DOJ jobs, etc. (I have a personal dog in that fight as my father's nomination to the 9th circuit court of appeals -- a job he richly coveted and richly deserved -- stalled out in the Judiciary Committee.)

Meet the Wovel


Caroline's Nonfluencies

Psychology Today ponders Caroline Kennedy's verbal tic. Via Politico.

Take That, Borat!

I had a person from Kazakhstan comment on this site earlier (hello if you're still out there), so I thought I'd post a charming little Orion Magazine story about Kazakhstan that looks at one of the world's great apple botanists and conservationists. Is Mr. Dzangaliev well-known in Kazakhstan? If not, he should be.

Ban the Box

In an attempt to address its festering prison re-entry crisis, my fair city is moving forward with a proposal to stop asking applicants for city jobs about their felony status. Needless to say it is hard to see this approach gaining currency in many other places in America.

Where Is Tony Blair?

Quartet envoy has apparently been "pulling a Bush" - that is, when the going gets tough, the tough... go on vacation.

Frontiers in Propaganda

The battle for hearts and minds moves into Second Life.

Cuisines of the Axis of Evil and Other Irritating States

Book rec of the day. And be sure to take the Evil Cuisines IQ Test.

Yes, PeCan!


Sunday, January 04, 2009

All The Cool Kids Are Using It

A call for spamming of an IDF tip-line. The last line says that "it is not clear whether or not Google is aware of Israel's usage of its Gmail program for military purposes." Is Google supposed to care about this? (If I were Eric Schmidt, I'd consider it a resounding approbation of Gmail's security features.)


Now I don't claim to be an expert in journalistic ethics, but isn't it problematic that The New Republic is publishing Michael Oren's writing when Oren is working as a press attache for the Israeli government?

If You Thought 'Borat' Was Offensive...

OK, so I saw Slumdog Millionaire last Thursday night and while overall I thought it was very good (I'd probably give it A-), I can't help but thinking of the reaction of the Kazakhstan government to Borat and how infinitely more offensive Slumdog is to India than the openly and unabashedly unrealistic Borat was to Kazakhstan. Basically if I were a Hindu nationalist or even a run-of-the-mill Indian patriot I'd be apoplectic that my country -- homeland of Gandhi, birthplace of two of the world's great religions, the world's largest democracy -- was being depicted for millions of Western viewers as little more than a cesspool of gangsterism, con men, child prostitution, desolate slums, corrupt television personalities, anti-Muslim lynch mobs, and police who torture common criminals. Was there a single decent person in the entire film besides Jamal and Latika?

Gaza As Prologue

Test run for an attack on Iran?

'Waltz With Bashir' Wins US Critics' Prize


Interview With Avraham Burg

"My idea of Judaism can be represented through a classic Talmudic dilemma: You are walking along by the river and there are two people drowning. One is Rabbi [Meir] Kahane, and the other is the Dalai Lama. You can only save one of them. For whom will you jump? If you jump for Rabbi Kahane because genetically he's Jewish, you belong to a different camp than mine, because I would jump for the Dalai Lama. As much as he's not genetically Jewish, he's my Jewish brother when it comes to my value system. That's the difference between me and the Jewish establishment in Israel and America."

Consumer Protectionism Gone Too Far?

While trying to protect us from the scourge of toxic Chinese products, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act might put thrift stores out of business.

The Age of Impeachment: American Constitutional Culture Since 1960

Would that it were true! Book rec of the day.

Department of Telling Silence

It is a little curious that the New York Times editorially advised against a (then hypothetical) ground operation in Gaza last week, but since the ground operation actually began hasn't said a peep.

Sister Souljah, Jewish Style

Just to be clear, Rabbi Yoffie's recent criticism of J Street in The Forward should be understood as an attempt by the URJ, which has taken shots for drifting too far from the "mainstream consensus" on Israel within the Jewish community, to Sister Souljah the peace camp. This is not to say Yoffie's criticism is insincere, just that political calculations and ramifications are very much a part of 'playing the blame game' on Gaza. Every group's statement on Gaza will be combed over by the watchdogs of each ideological cohort to see if group X or group Y has passed the ideological litmus test... and woe betide the purveyors of 'moral equivalency' as they will have fury rained down on them by both left and right. Yoffie knows the game better than anyone and wants to make absolutely sure that we know the rumors about his organization aren't true, and here's where the URJ really stands. (Where it stands might change, of course, but you can't think long-term when you're navigating a minefield.)

Basically it comes down to this: every war 'over there' is an opportunity for Jewish organizations 'over here' to wear their hearts on their sleeve, to make a political statement, to prove their unwavering fealty to Israel and to Zionism, on the one hand, or on the other their enlightened disdain for Israeli militarism and the occupation. Of course these expressions of loyalty and conviction can be made at any time, but it is only when Israel is at war that American Jewish hawks and doves really get to prove their mettle.

Mental Health Break

Heart-warming animal story. Almost makes you want to go out and get an elephant for your backyard. Almost.

Kos Has a Message For Bill O'Reilly About the MN Senate Race

I second that.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Lowlights of Peak Oil Awareness

Add this to this list. (Via Yglesias.)

Sarah Palin Working for Syrian Government?

In Hitchens's most recent assault on Rick Warren, he mocks a Syrian press communique ("The Mufti called for conveying the real image of Syria, national unity and its call to spread peace, amity and justice to the American people which the US has distorted their image throughout the world" - is Sarah Palin working for the Syrian press office?) released after Warren's visit with President Bashar Assad... this recalled me for me another excruciating Syrian government attempt at English, from the government-run Syria Times (there was a link but it no longer works): "He said that the American project aimed at making Lebanon a hammer to destroy the Syrian house, but the arm of the hammer broke and the iron fell on their feet."

Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics

So the police chief of my fair city claims that the number of murders (which almost doubled in 2008 from the previous year) doesn't matter... what matters is the number of murders plus the number of shootings. Does that sound right to you?

CSI Fuck Face

At long last the infamous "Fuck Face" mystery surrounding Bill Ripken's 1989 Fleer baseball card has been solved. Finally I can die in peace.

Politics & Movies

Ackerman reminds that preferences in politics have little bearing on preferences in cinema.

Indonesians Watching Too Much Fox News?

Maybe Obama shouldn't make a 'homecoming visit' to Jakarta after all.

The Privacy Rights of Naked People

All I can say to Mr. Jahnke is, let's see you take that videotaping fetish into the prison shower room.

Landmark Moments in World Cuisine

First Chinese chef to achieve the coveted Michelin three-star rating. When he jokes about cutting his teeth in the days "before Hong Kong had labor laws," you get the sense that he's earned it.

Hamas Targets Fatah "Collaborators"

One of the marks of a totalitarian regime is their attitude that all moderates are collaborators, and all collaborators are subject to extra-judicial violence and torture:

Fatah officials in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that Hamas militiamen had been assaulting many Fatah activists since the beginning of the operation last Saturday. They said at least 75 activists were shot in the legs while others had their hands broken. (JPost)

Jerusalem has done its best to deny any suggestion that it intends to topple Hamas, but one worries that freelancing by the likes of Haim Ramon has not helped the situation for Fatah members in Gaza.

Can't Talk About Climate Without Talking About God


Translation: Teaching Those Arabs a Lesson They Won't Soon Forget

Andrew Sullivan rightly points out the moral squirreliness of launching a military offensive in order to bolster "deterrent strength." It's not that this rationale is necessarily wrong from a utilitarian or even some other ethical standpoint, but it is clearly outside the scope of just war theory - rather it is based on what Israeli hawks often refer to as the "logic of the Middle East."

There But For the Grace of God...

Yossi Sarid reflects on a sad and painful truth: "There are no good and bad peoples; there are only leaderships that behave responsibly or insanely. And now we are fighting those whom a goodly number of us would be like, had we been in their place for 41 and a half years."

Michael Steele Has a Problem With "Re"

Apparently he forgot which party he's running for chairmanship of.

Enough With the Shoes, Already!

Originally uploaded by Foto71
Reuters on anti-Israel protests around the world:

In many cities people waved shoes - recalling the action of an Iraqi journalist who hurled footwear at US President George W Bush in Baghdad last month in a symbolic insult.

British demonstrators threw dozens of shoes into the street as they passed the gated entrance to Downing Street, where Prime Minister Gordon Brown lives, and shouted angrily at a line of 40 police officers on guard there.

"Come to get your shoes Gordon," one woman shouted as other marchers directed chants of "Shame on you" at Mr Brown.

I am not the first person, and won't be the last, to note the discomfiting resemblance between this and this.

A Production of "West Side Story" That Latinos Can Love

A "truly bilingual" production at the historic National Theatre. The recently departed Samuel "Core Culture" Huntington can now officially turn over in his grave.

Marketing Themselves to Death

I can only guess that Jonathan Chait does not watch professional golf on television, where the practice of interviewing at the end of every tournament (often late in the fourth round, at a critical juncture when the focus should be on the golfers) the CEO or Vice President for Marketing of the title sponsor has been in place for years. The only good thing to be said of these interviews is that they are usually so abbreviated (15 seconds or less) they are almost insulting to the CEOs.

Crazy Like A Fox, Or Just Crazy?

Josh Marshall isn't getting Norm Coleman's strategy on counting disputed absentee ballots. Perhaps Coleman is making concessions to accumulate a bit of moral capital ahead of pursuing obstructionist legal actions that will surely cast him as a total prick?

Postcards from Tomorrow Square

James Fallows's new China book is hot off the press. Book rec of the day.

Great Alibi, Chuck!

Forget the victims of the financial crisis. Forget the sick kids charities robbed by Bernard Madoff. When it comes to tragedy, Charles Barkley stands alone: hard-hearted Arizona cops cruelly arrested him on his way to getting serviced.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Barter Economy of the Super-Rich


Creeping Norms of Aristocracy

David Sirota is "fairly to quite" mystified by Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter's selection of Michael Bennet to replace incoming Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in the Senate.

Lots of Mini-Madoffs?


U.S. regulators working to untangle Bernard Madoff’s alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme are probing other money managers suspected of using similar tactics, two people with knowledge of the inquiries said. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is pursuing at least one case in which investors may have been cheated out of as much as $1 billion, according to a person, who declined to name the manager and asked not to be identified because the probe isn’t public.

I guess reactive and belated enforcement is better than no enforcement at all. Via TPM.

Dangerous Citizens Responding Rationally to Economic Incentives - They Must be Stopped

Is this to be believed? Oregon is considering eliminating the incentive to drive fuel-efficient vehicles, in order to what? Compensate for dwindling revenue from the current gas tax? (Why not just raise the gas tax a few cents a gallon?) Acquire funding for more highway expansion? Placate the GPS-manufacturer lobby? Win a Darwin Award?

Obituary of a Raging Anti-Semite

Jeffrey Goldberg has an interesting remembrance of Nizar Ghayan, the senior Hamas official who was killed the other day by an Israeli airstrike. Filled with uncompromising (he was, after all, a religious fundamentalist) hatred and a deep, disgusting anti-semitism, he represented the side of Hamas that is also on view in the organization's infamous charter. There is another side of Hamas, more pragmatic, more interested in self-preservation, more doctrinally flexible. Hamas is not simply "identical, equivalent" to the Taliban. Understanding Hamas demands that we look coldly, without cant or ideology, at its many factions and facets, not just the one that we're looking for to score political points.

Krav Maga Showdown

Practitioners of the growingly popular Israeli martial art are bitterly divided into competing factions.

The Soiling of Old Glory


I Guess I Have a Dirty Mind

Was I the only one who snickered when the referee at yesterday's Rose Bowl said right before the coin toss, "Miss [Cloris] Leachman, come toss our coin!"