Monday, May 24, 2010

Conventional Wisdom May Be Conventional Stupidity

I largely agree with this piece by Larry Sabato and Alan Abramowitz that the dominant narrative about the "angry voter" of 2010 is overstated and glosses over many over important demographic, social, and economic factors.

The Past Is Not Past

Lately there has been a fresh round of attacks on Judge Richard Goldstone related to his judicial activities in apartheid South Africa after "revelations" in an Israeli newspaper that he had sentenced blacks to death. There is much to criticize about the Goldstone Report, and perhaps about Goldstone's record during apartheid as well... but doesn't this line of attack from pro-Israel groups just serve to raise the question of Israel's own record in supporting the state terrorist South African regime? How can Dershowitz go on about Goldstone's lending an "air of legitimacy to an entirely illegitimate and barbaric regime" without so much as mentioning that Israel (along with the US) was one of the very last diplomatic defenders of the apartheid regime in the 1980s, after nearly every other civilized country in the world had withdrawn their support? Defenders of Goldstone will ask with a certain amount of justification: is it worse for a young lawyer to participate opportunistically in an unjust judicial system (and then later to protest and undermine it) or to peddle to an "illegitimate and barbaric regime" military equipment that was used to maim and murder thousands of blacks in the Soweto uprising of 1976? Let us be clear: there are many realpolitik rationalizations of Israel's amoral diplomatic behavior, and of course there is the excuse that "the US did it, too." But there are similar excuses for Goldstone's opportunism as well. If we are going to have a discussion about who did what to support South African apartheid, let us put everything on the table without fear and favor.

For those who are interested, Sasha Polakow-Suransky has just published what is likely to be (for a while, at least) the definitive treatment of the Israel-South Africa relationship -- the book is intelligently and sensitively reviewed by Benjamin Pogrund here.

Freshkills Haiku

From the NYC Parks Dept:

Second Annual Freshkills Haiku Contest Winners Announced

The Parks Department is proud to announce this year’s second annual Haiku contest winners. More than 40 poets participated over the course of National Poetry Month in April. We received some terrific entries and the winning poems are provided below.

Adult winners:

Quietly sleeping,
Buried discards of past years
Support vibrant hills
- Stephen Knowles

Now green and growing
This upside-down museum
Forms new paths of hope
- Leona Egan

Tall thousand grasses
rub hollow elbows to the
chopstick cricket legs
- Robin Locke Monda

Student winner:

Looking at the mounds,
you are rolling down the past.
Future brings us new
- Lauren Seaquist, age 14

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wimbledon's Official Poet

BBC: "People queuing to get into Wimbledon this year could be entertained by the All England Lawn Tennis Championships' first official poet. Matt Harvey will write a poem every day during the annual two-week competition in London SW19 next month. The Championships Poet 2010 will publish his verses - about anything from racquet stringers to strawberries and cream - online and in podcasts. He will also keep a blog, tweet and recite his poems to queuing spectators. " Don't expect to see this at NASCAR anytime soon.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Best Missed Dunk Ever? (And We're Not Talking About Susan Bysiewicz's Campaign)


Friday, May 14, 2010

"Lingering Smell of Cigarette Smoke"

Westport, Connecticut collector buys Jeep once owned by Obama.

Fun Facts About the Debt Market

According to at least one risk analyst California is a riskier investment than Iraq.

PoPoMo Milestones

Cell phones now used more for data than for calls.

News You Can Use


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Just How Politically Toxic Is Wall Street?

How did Meg Whitman's seemingly insurmountable lead in the California Republican gubernatorial primary suddenly collapse? Seems to have a little, or a lot, to do with her ties to a little investment firm called Goldman Sachs.

The Curious Legacy of Colonialism


The Year of Living Violently


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

$100,000 Per Completion

Was JaMarcus Russell the most over-paid player in the history of the NFL?

"Swift-Boating" As a Bipartisan Trope

I was intrigued to find Ron Paul talking about "swift-boating" (in a fundraising letter last week for his son's Senate campaign) - apparently this staple of Democratic rhetorical push-back is no longer just a left-wing trope:


Dear Friend,

It looks like the establishment is really desperate to keep my son Rand out of the Senate. Dick Cheney, Rudy Giuliani and Rick Santorum were already backing his opponent. And, as you probably know, Senator Mitch McConnell joined the party this week and endorsed Rand's establishment-backed opponent Trey Grayson. Senator McConnell is now doing TV ads for Grayson statewide.

But it gets far, far worse than that. That's why I'm writing you this urgent email today.

They're trying to "Swift Boat" Rand...

Put That In Your Tea Bag and Smoke It

US tax rates lower in 2009 than at any time since 1950.

Resume Workshops for Guantanamo Detainees

Among the highlights of this excellent Terry Gross interview with Spencer Ackerman on military tribunals at Guantanamo is Ackerman's discussion of resume-writing classes for detainees (I see that Adam Serwer has covered this ground, i.e. Guantanamo "life skills" classes, as well). Also, Ackerman's tone of mild disappointment that he wasn't one of the reporters kicked out of the courtroom for "revealing" the name of an interrogator whose identity was already all over the Internet.

Controversial Mojave Desert Cross Stolen

VFW promises that the memorial, whose constitutionality was recently taken up by the US Supreme Court, will be rebuilt.

Special Election to Fill Scott Brown's State Senate Seat


Hillary Still Paying Off Campaign Debt

One last chance to contribute to Mark Penn's yacht fund...