Friday, January 29, 2010

The Joy of Overturning

After throwing campaign finance reform under the bus, what will be the Roberts Court's next target? Linda Greenhouse, who knows of what she speaks, says the Civil Rights Act may be living on borrowed time. She seems to think the impact of Citizens United is more that the Court has "lost its virginity" and said "goodbye to restraint" than any immediate effect in the realm of campaign finance.

Craziest Campaign Ad Ever?

Who'd have guessed that the competition to be in charge of examining dead people would be so fierce?

Guess Which Other Golfer Is Cheating

Thank goodness the golf world is back to talking about cheating on the course and not any other kind.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I've run out of space on my gmail account, which previously I'd thought was sort of equivalent to the pre-Columbian concept of sailing off the edge of the earth. Now every day I have to spend ten minutes figuring out which two hundred (roughly) e-mails in my archive I want to delete so I can get under the limit and start sending e-mails again.

Department of What Else Is New?

Blinded by neoconservative bile, Jennifer Rubin proves again that she's a shitty journalist.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Trying To Access Jerry Brown's Papers

With Brown as the early favorite to win the California governor's race this November, a lot of folks (including Meg Whitman's oppo researchers) would like access to the official papers from his two-term governorship thirty years ago. But apparently that's not so simple. Is Brown stonewalling?

Friday, January 22, 2010

All The News That's Fit To Toke

Bright spot in publishing? A cottage industry of weed magazines is sprouting up in Southern California: "It's a young industry, where key players are still emerging, and the rules of engagement are fluid and often don't meet professional standards. The result is a Wild West moment: Full-page pot ads include copyrighted images of Marilyn Monroe, Homer Simpson and the Incredible Hulk — corporate properties unlikely to be licensed to a corner marijuana shop."

Nonetheless the emergence of this niche market creates "facts on the ground" -- commerce, jobs, taxes -- that make it much more difficult to go back on steps toward decriminalization.

Saudi-Beck Alliance


Death of the Cul-de-Sac?


Like Having a Giant Hot Water Bottle In Your Bed

Human bed-warming service debuts in Britain. Of course, house cats have known about and utilized this service from time immemorial.

Booker Prize For Bullshit

George Monbiot:

The rules of the competition are simple: the award goes to whoever in my opinion — assisted by climate scientists and specialists — managed in the course of 2009 to cram as many misrepresentations, distortions and falsehoods into a single online article, statement, lecture, film or interview about climate change.

The winner made 38 separate false or misleading statements in a 500-word column.

Is 'Avatar' Plagiarized?

A very weak case indeed. But hey isn't CGI inherently a kind of plagiarism of reality?

GOP Hopes It Runs in the Family

Connecticut GOP tries to recruit Scott Brown's brother.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Judged By the Content of Their 140 Characters

Baratunde Thurston imagines MLK tweets.

Imperialism? Takes One To Know One

France asks for "clarification" on the US "occupation" of Haiti:

The French minister in charge of humanitarian relief called on the UN to "clarify" the American role amid claims the military build up was hampering aid efforts.


Haiti was occupied by the US between 1915 and 1935, and historical sensitivities together with friction with other countries over the relief effort has made the Americans cautious about their role in the operation.

American military commanders have repeatedly stressed that they are not entering the country as an occupying force.

US soldiers in Port-au-Prince said they had been told to be discreet about how they carry their M4 assault rifles.

A paratrooper sergeant said they were authorised to use "deadly force" if they see anyone's life in danger but only as a "last resort".

Capt John Kirby, a spokesman for the joint task force at the airport, said the US recognised it was only one of a number of countries contributing to a UN-led mission.

He also emphasised the US troops, which he said would rise to 10,000 by Wednesday would principally be assisting in humanitarian relief and the evacuation of people needing medical attention.

The main responsibility for security rests with the UN, which is to add a further 3,000 troops to its force of 9,000.

Clearly the US is trying to keep its troop level below that of the UN force -- a delicate dance designed to preserve the image of a coalition of the willing.

CNN Superhero

Anderson Cooper is so heroic!!! To the extent that there's actually a story here, it seems to be about an increase in looting on the streets of Port-au-Prince, but all the photos are of Anderson bravely coming to the rescue of a bloody child. Journalists are human beings first! Or are they? Noam Scheiber has suggested pool reports for disaster zones in order to keep journalists from getting in the way. And what about journalists who are also doctors?

College Admissions The Musical

Yale's bizarre and ballsy new admissions video is already turning heads and raising eyebrows - here are some suggestions for the sequel.

Sustainable Sushi Arrives on The East Coast


RNC-FNC Merger

Howard Fineman says Roger Ailes is the real head of the GOP, a notion that is rapidly attaining the status of conventional wisdom.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bowties Galore

Fellow Trinity College alumni bowtie-wearing Republicans George Will and Tucker Carlson were brought together on This Week. Surprisingly there was no discussion of Carlson's new website and its potential role in the new media environment. Will generously gave Obama a B- on his year-end report card. I sensed some developing chemistry between regular guests Will and Katrina Vanden Heuvel.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

John Vs. John

In the wake of a disappointing interview with Bush torture mastermind John Yoo, John Stewart has some folks asking if he's lost his edge. One might think he'd benefit from accumulated goodwill with lefty bloggers, but they do not spare the rod (fair-weather friends!). I agree with Will Bunch: this isn't about Stewart. What hope is there when your nation's primary mechanism of accountability is a late-night comedian?

Harold Ford's Gift to Gillibrand


Baby Doc Speaks


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mao and More

Amazing images from the 26th annual Harbin (China) Ice and Sculpture Festival.

Fast On The Draw

New York hosts the Olympics of text messaging.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Middle East War That We Can Live With

Israel and Lebanon fight bitterly for the distinction of concocting the world's largest batch of hummus.

Mikey The Terrorist


The End of Magical Climate Thinking

Usual suspects Nordhaus and Shellenberger argue that Obama needs to recognize that significant advances in clean-energy technology must occur before international climate regulation can possibly succeed, and his failure to do so led inevitably to the disappointment of Copenhagen:

Obama was following two decades of magical thinking among both greens and liberal Democrats about energy technology. In this view, energy efficiency pays for itself, solar and wind power are already nearly cost competitive with fossil fuels, and both can quickly and cheaply reduce emissions. This Pollyanna view of fossil fuel alternatives and efficiency, which makes going green seem cheap and easy -- little more than the cost of "a postage stamp a day" -- has provided the justification for green-policy advocacy that has overwhelmingly focused on pollution regulations and carbon pricing while ignoring serious investment in energy research and development.

The price of Obama's failure to break with green climate orthodoxy is only now becoming apparent. The collapse of international climate negotiations in Copenhagen last month was just the latest evidence that efforts to regulate global pollution output cannot succeed. The Kyoto framework, which imagined that carbon pollution limits could be the primary driver of the complete transformation of the global energy economy, has irretrievably failed.

The real technological obstacles to decarbonizing the global economy today represent an insurmountable obstacle to political efforts to limit carbon emissions. Until policymakers get serious about addressing the central technological challenge, all efforts to control carbon emissions are doomed.

But how is Nordhaus and Shellenberger's bottomless faith in technofixes not an equally dangerous and naive form of magical thinking?

"Please Keep Making the Idiots' Heads Spin"

Mary Kate Cary seizes on Palin's paean to Fox News in "Going Rogue." Pay to play, perhaps... but in the Palin-Limbaugh-Ailes echo chamber where does one draw the line between grotesque ideology and a grotesque quest for lucre?

Twitter Proves Its Mettle Again

Greg Mitchell surveys Haiti coverage in the media and concludes that Twitter won the day.

Adventures in the Sex Dungeon

This guy gave public testimony in favor of keeping Maine's now-overturned gay marriage law. Not such a good poster boy.

Airport Security and Jewish Law

A halachic debate about millimeter wave scanners versus backscatter x-rays - just another day in the interstices of orthodoxy and modernity. Some rabbis don't seem to dig full-body scans, which means you probably won't be seeing them on El Al anytime soon (and probably explains at least in part why El Al's intensive screening procedures don't seem to emphasize high-tech body imaging). But it seems to be another issue where devout Jews and Muslims can agree.


Not to call it a ratings ploy, but is the out-in-the-open way Conan has been handling the whole Tonight Show mess influenced by Letterman's apparent success with airing, on the air, his own dirty laundry?

Boston Globe Endorsement of Coakley

Here it is, for what it's worth. Coakley is "thoughtful and empirical," whereas a vote for Brown is a "vote for gridlock."

"You Know, Napoleon III, Or Whatever"

Pat Robertson shares his expertise on plate tectonics and Haitian history. His spokesman tries to clean up the mess. Obviously Robertson should have played it safe and blamed the disaster on ACORN.

Google's Noble Decision To Leave China

Perhaps not so noble after all. Fallows makes the distressing observation that China may be entering its "Bush-Cheney era."

More Eruptions of Nonprofit Journalism

Connecticut Mirror is set to debut. Its staff consists mainly of former Hartford Courant reporters.

Did Someone Really Tell Kenneth Walsh That?!

Howard Dean may be perceived as a "problem" by some lily-livered members of the Democratic establishment, but is there really an iota of a chance that he's going to primary Obama in 2012? C'mon, please.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Once The American Dream

"Inner-Ring Suburbs of the Metropolitan United States." Book rec of the day.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Blackwater's Backup Strategy

Survey claims that a quasi-public security force in San Francisco is more popular than SFPD.

Crusade To Bankrupt America

From John McCain's latest e-mail to supporters: "President Obama is leading an extreme, left wing crusade to bankrupt America." Also: "today, we are engaged in a battle to save jobs, secure our nation's borders and cut the Democrats' out of control spending" [my italics]. McCain is going to run in a Republican primary on his demonstrated commitment to securing our nation's borders? Good luck with that.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Chart of the Day


The Dangerous Allure of Climate Change Technofixes

Diane Dumanoski writes: "The moral and political hazards of geoengineering are as formidable as the physical dangers." Serious geo-engineering proposals should not be ignored - but they involve speculations, not proven technologies (think "clean coal"). As Dumanoski argues, "former President George W. Bush often used future technology as an excuse for inaction, touting research on hydrogen fuel-cell 'freedom cars' while rejecting proposals to improve the efficiency of today’s vehicles. One energy economist quipped, the freedom car 'is really about Bush’s freedom to do nothing about cars today.'” And the idea peddled by Dubner, Levitt et al. that these proposals are not highly problematized by thorny questions of politics and governance is silly and dangerous.

Why Do Jews Hate Palin?

It is, as they say, an "over-determined" phenomenon. According to Commentary's Jennifer Rubin, who seems to be flirting with anti-semitic stereotypes in her discussion of Jews' (it's implied that we're talking about American Jews, but Rubin doesn't say it) haughty contempt for 'authentic' American folkways, Jews hate Palin because she has a large family and they're mystified and appalled that she didn't just abort Trig. Yes, this is what passes for journalism at Commentary.

Nonprofit Journalism's Latest Outpost

Center For Investigative Journalism launches California Watch.

Will Larry Summers Be Hung Out To Dry Like Greg Craig?

Following a recent spate of negative leaks about Summers, Kaus reads the tea leaves.

Long, I Slept Good


Is Osama Proud of the Underpants Bomber?

Stephen Walt ponders whether jihadist fanatics are happy that their latest hero has become famous for his underpants: "having an enemy known as the 'underwear bomber' is a pretty good propaganda coup... for our side." (Anybody delusional enough to believe that there's no such thing as bad publicity should just ask Tiger Woods.) And is it just me or does "swaggering sheep" sound like maybe Walt's next book title?

Back In The Game

It's good to see that Lincoln Chafee, the soft-spoken and decent (probably too decent for politics) liberal Republican from Rhode Island who was bounced out of the Senate in the Democratic wave of 2006, is back in the game. Unfortunately his fundraising mojo seems to be a bit rusty, and he's having to reach into his own pocket to prime the pump of his fledgling campaign.

Universal Jurisdiction

Taking a page from the playbook of Israel's critics, a group of European pro-Israel activists are using the principle of universal jurisdiction to try to get Hamas indicted in Belgium. Didi Remez says his blog will "follow the case closely and publicly defend the group against any attacks from Gerald Steinberg and NGO Monitor because of its engagement in NGO 'lawfare.'”