Friday, October 30, 2009

NYC Dems Pissed Off at White House

Progressive activists not happy about Obama's half-assed endorsement of Bill Thompson after 16 years (and counting) of non-Democrat mayors. And people wonder why the Working Families Party is gaining in influence.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Marginal Messages

SF Chron has some wholesome acrostic fun with the Governator's penchant for coded obscenity. (Via LA Observed.)

More Shoddy Crap From China

Leslie Griffith seems to think the structural flaws in the Bay Bridge have to do with the use of bogus material from Chinese steel companies, which is equally embarrassing for China and for Caltrans, which hired the contractors who hired the Chinese sub-contractors... begging the question: which has a worse reputation right now -- Chinese products or the government of California?

Fear and Loathing

The timing of this TNR article about the failure of Organizing For America is a bit odd - considering the 300,000+ phone calls supporting health care reform generated by OFA on October 20. Timing aside, the article is correct that "it isn't a coincidence that, historically, effective grassroots movements have usually come out of losing campaigns, not winning ones." Grassroots politics is a romantic, simplistic, adversarial world of heroes and villains. We all know who the hero is, but who exactly is the enemy? Dick Cheney? Sarah Palin? Congressional Republicans? Insurance companies? OFA has struggled to define its adversary and therefore struggled to define itself. But here's a suggestion: earlier tonight on a conference call with my local OFA director (the only one in the state) I detected real fury in the grassroots about Joe Lieberman's latest shenanigans. I'd guess that Lieberman's (possibly hollow) threat is worth at least five thousand extra constituent calls to Congress from progressive activists, and the real question for me is whether OFA has the savvy to tap into and channel this righteous rage, without unleashing the sort of cannibalism the Republicans are trying to deal with right now in NY-23.

Other-Worldly: Making Chinese Medicine through Transnational Frames

Traditional Chinese medicine is often portrayed as an enduring system of therapeutic knowledge that has become globalized in recent decades. In Other-Worldly, Mei Zhan argues that the discourses and practices called “traditional Chinese medicine” are made through, rather than prior to, translocal encounters and entanglements. Zhan spent a decade following practitioners, teachers, and advocates of Chinese medicine through clinics, hospitals, schools, and grassroots organizations in Shanghai and the San Francisco Bay Area. Drawing on that ethnographic research, she demonstrates that the everyday practice of Chinese medicine is about much more than writing herbal prescriptions and inserting acupuncture needles. “Traditional Chinese medicine” is also made and remade through efforts to create a preventive medicine for the “proletariat world,” reinvent it for cosmopolitan middle-class aspirations, produce clinical “miracles,” translate knowledge and authority, and negotiate marketing strategies and medical ethics. Book rec of the day.

Where Every House Looks Like Tony Soprano's

McBrick McMansion
Originally uploaded by AlexG 82
While attending a conference earlier this week in DC, I stayed at the Bolger Center, which is at once a United States Postal Service "leadership development" training facility (complete with ropes course) and a resort/conference center open to the public. If you have trouble understanding why USPS, which expects to run a $7 billion deficit in 2009, needs a leadership development facility, you're not alone: before it opened to the public in 2004, rumors had swirled for years among skeptical locals about whether "boot camp for mail sorters" was the cover story for a secret government black site. Anyway, it's located in Potomac, Maryland, which as far as I can tell must have the highest proportion of appalling McMansions of any town in America. (Truth in advertising: when you google "appalling mcmansions potomac" the first website that comes up is Toll Brothers.)

Who's Really the Spoiler in NY-23?

Doug Hoffman can no longer be considered a spoiler for Dede Scozzafava. If anything, Scozzafava is now looking like a spoiler for Democrat Bill Owens.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Once More, With Feeling

One of the most amusing diversions of this election season has been to watch longshot NYC mayoral candidate Bill Thompson hump the President's leg while the President says 'get off me, you mangy mutt, whatever your name is.' But today the President finally deigned to give Thompson his tasty doggy treat. Here's Thompson on getting a "shared shout-out" from the President: "I am excited and proud to receive the endorsement of the President. To have the President of United States get involved in a New York City Mayoral race and endorse me, illustrates that he believes I will win and that I can lead this city." Down, boy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mussolini's Stint as a British Spy


Burning Bunnies as Heating Oil

If you thought the Swedish -- with their immaculate streets, Nobel Prizes and poverty-less society -- were a highly civilized people, this should disabuse you of that notion.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The New Farmers Market

Vending machines for fresh, local produce. Kind of defeats the whole purpose of meeting your farmer.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Spare The Air Jordan

Rules are rules: Michael Jordan is told not to bring any cigars onto the course at San Francisco's Harding Park, where the Presidents Cup is being held this weekend (Jordan is an assistant honorary captain of the US team). Harding Park is a municipal course owned by the City of San Francisco, and smoking on city property is illegal. (Memo to MJ: just claim your cigars are doctor-prescribed medical marijuana and you'll be fine. "Do as the Romans do" cuts both ways.)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Choose Gavin Newsom's Campaign Logo



Jon Corzine plays the obesity card in the New Jersey gubernatorial race, and has clearly hit a nerve as his opponent refuses to say what his weight is. Of course a winning strategy would be for Christie to embrace his obesity! The campaign slogan possibilities are endless:

Chris Christie - he's fat so the state budget doesn't need to be!

Chris Christie - he eats corruption for breakfast, organized crime for lunch, and rising property taxes for dinner!

Chris Christie - you'll never catch him charging the taxpayer for a treadmill in the governor's mansion!

UPDATE: Goldblog detects the germ of a backlash.

Does Hollywood Really Support Polanski?

Patrick Goldstein:

There's no petition going around with the names of the real Hollywood elite -- A-list filmmakers and studio chiefs like Steven Spielberg, Alan Horn, James Cameron, Amy Pascal, Jerry Bruckheimer, Brian Grazer, Tom Rothman, J.J. Abrams, John Lasseter or Michael Bay -- because the real Hollywood elite isn't supporting Polanski. In fact, they haven't offered the slightest hint of backing for Polanski. It's only European and New York-based artists, who clearly see the world in a very different light than the real Hollywood elite.

UPDATE: Semi-related, this Politico piece really is a horrendously unfair hit-job.

What The AJC Survey Really Says

American Jews actually don't want Israel to attack Iran any more than they used to, per JJ Goldberg... if there is a change in attitude, it "is not how Jews view Iran but how they view Washington."

That's A Lot of Bike Trailers

Forget U-Haul... moving by bike in Portland.

Get The Ombudsman In Here

Once again, why does TNR think it's OK to continue publishing the work of Michael Oren?

Profiles of Conservatives Who Are Not Brain-Dead

David Leonhardt more or less captures why Bruce Bartlett should have been Bill Kristol's replacement as the NY Times's conservative columnist.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Limbaugh's Bid For The St. Louis Rams

Top 10 reasons Rush Limbaugh would be the worst football owner in the world. (Ironically perhaps the Rams are the "bluest" team in the NFL giving 98% of the team's political contributions to Democrats between 1989 and 2009.)

Monday, October 05, 2009

Digital-Age "Dog Ate My Homework" eats Justin Gawronski's homework, and pays the price.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Is Passport Control to Blame?

Did Chicago lose its Olympics bid because of 'harrowing' treatment of foreigners at US airports?

What's in a Name?

Mark Swed on the hype surrounding LA Phil's new maestro Gustavo Dudamel: "Some have taken to referring to the new music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic by his initials, thus: G*D."

Joel and Ethan Coen's Vengeful God

Dana Stevens on the Coen brothers' A Serious Man:

What Anton Chigurh, Javier Bardem's pitiless mass murderer, was to 'No Country for Old Men,' the Hebrew God (whom the characters refer to with the respectful, indirect name of "Hashem") is to this movie.

Is John Boehner a Vampire?

Why else would Rep. Mike Honda be going after him with garlic? (Via Calitics.)

Does 'Doonesbury' Matter Anymore?

William Klein:

Garry Trudeau should, of course, be free to continue Doonesbury as a daily strip as long as he wants to. If he gives up the space, no doubt Glenn Beck or Bono will take up cartooning. But Garry, isn't there a novel you've always wanted to write? Screenplays? Maybe a Senate run?

Personally I find Doonesbury basically unreadable (you have to read the strip every day for it to make sense, and who has the time for that? plus all the characters look the same to me -- am I a cartoon racist?)... but so what? Trudeau's conjured world is a unique document of three and a half decades of political history, a kind of Yoknapatawpha of the imagination that is only appreciable in its sprawling totality. But it is also only appreciable in the context of a particular highly mannered medium, that is to say the four-panel comic strip -- and it's the combination of a narrow medium and a broad canvas of social and political history that gives Doonesbury its importance as one of the supreme artifacts of cynical, ironic, middle-brow, post-Watergate American liberalism. Asking Trudeau -- without whom, arguably, there would be no Jon Stewart -- to stop cartooning would be like asking Woody Allen to stop making movies, or Harold Bloom to stop editing anthologies, or asking Roland Hedley to keep his tweets under 140 characters.


Tiger becomes world's first billion-dollar athlete.

Ahmadinejad and the Law Of Return

Pursuant to probably specious rumors of Ahmadinejad's Jewish roots... would Israel be obliged to offer him citizenship under the Law of Return? Well, no, since a Jew can be excluded from Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return if he or she is considered to be dangerous to the welfare of the State of Israel (a dubious distinction earned by Meyer Lansky among others). Of course it is often joked that Palestinians could accomplish their goal of a "right of return" simply by mass halachic conversion to Judaism.

"G-Rated" Party in the Castro District


Saturday, October 03, 2009

Bizarre Revisionist Theory About Lindbergh Kidnapping



Connecticut GOP called out for using "fake" twitter accounts.

Chances of Seeing Tiger Woods Go For The Gold in 2016

Does Rio De Janeiro's IOC victory make it less likely that golf will become an Olympic sport in 2016? I think so - Rio only has two quality golf courses, both of which would appear to be too short for world-class competition.

UPDATE: Devil Ball has more.

An Inspirational List of Bleak Books


What Goes Around Comes Around

It is weirdly fitting that Ahmadinejad's political enemies will use (and already have used) the purported fact of his Jewish roots against him, i.e. using anti-semitism against an anti-semite. Sic semper tyrannis or something like that.

UPDATE: Laura Rozen casts doubt, and suggests (jokingly?) psy-ops! (These days it's hard to tell a CIA dirty trick from your average Fleet Street hackery...)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Sukkah Construction in the West Bank