Wednesday, April 30, 2014

But how do you *really* feel about capital punishment?

Linoleum print by Daniel Hodgkinson.

Looks like Mr. LessThanPerfect deleted the tweet, but luckily I made a screen shot:

Maureen sorrow than anger

Shorter Maureen Dowd, "Is Barry Whiffing?" New York Times, April 30 2012:
So remember when we were in like eighth grade and you were cool and I like wrote "Mrs. Barry Obama" in my economics notebook with all those little hearts and I would have totally done you I mean all the way and I'm not even fucking kidding? And now you're in math club? I'm like don't even try to speak to me you herb.
Image via Graphics18.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The audacity of Pope

Image by FBarok via Ken's Birdhaus.
Buckleyist theologian Ramesh Ponnuru at Ten Miles Square:
“Inequality is the root of social evil,” Pope Francis wrote in a Twitter post yesterday, with words that thrilled the left worldwide more than anything he had said since denouncing “trickle-down theories” of economics. We could read the definite article in his latest statement as indicating that the pope believes all social evil has inequality at its root. The price of that reading, though, would be to render the statement absurd. (In an apostolic exhortation, Francis had called inequality the root of “social ills,” which also suggests that reading is mistaken.)
I don't know about the thrill among the worldwide left there, since I haven't heard about it in my own circle and Ponnuru doesn't offer any links, but I did think it was curious how he seems to think you could appeal to the tweet's English grammar as a window onto the Pope's thinking in what presumably started off in some other language, like maybe Italian.*

Sure enough, there's an original Italian tweet, and it seems pretty clarifying:

Beyond humility

Shorter David Brooks, "Saving the System", New York Times, April 29, 2012:
I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I do this grand strategy thing at Yale with a bunch of guys that you probably never heard of because it's, shall we say, kind of exclusive. Not Humility Studies, if you know what I mean. We were just emailing each other the other day about the state of the world, too, and how difficult it is for America to make all the other countries do what we want any more, and how stupid and petty-minded voters are, and I mentioned this article I saw in Foreign Affairs, and I can tell you we are very concerned.
Image from OceanWisher.
Studies in Grand Strategy is a full-year postgraduate class led by Professors John Lewis Gaddis, Charles Hill, and Paul Kennedy running from January to December,

Monday, April 28, 2014

Not drowning but waiving

My Heart is a Ticking Time Bomb by txgirlinaz at DeviantArt.
Over at the National Review, Andrew McCarthy chides Sarah Palin for making "jokes" equating waterboarding with baptism as not wrong but impolitic,
since they manage to provoke devout Christians and authentic Muslim moderates as much as they do jihadists
but finds it important to remind everybody that he doesn't believe the waterboarding performed by the CIA amounted to torture, because if you're being responsible you'll stick to legal definitions, as in the US Criminal Code, according to which torture only takes place in the event of "severe mental pain or suffering", that is,

Grimm tidings

Via GoodOleWoody.
Michael Grimm, known to the Times as
a former F.B.I. agent and Marine who capitalized on his straight-arrow image to win a seat in Congress, 
or to Howie at Down With Tyranny as

Sunday, April 27, 2014


If Sarah Palin were in charge, I hear, our enemies
would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.
Just a few random thoughts on the combination of torture with the Sacraments:


Ice baptism at Epiphany, apparently a problem.


Not fooling anybody, but his piano teacher would be proud.

If you spend a certain amount of time listening to or overhearing NPR, as I have done in the mornings for years, you may not learn as much as you would from wider reading, but you do get a constant monitor on ongoing language change among the inhabitants of that Village and its friends, not only the catchphrases with a political significance but less obvious things, as when for instance people started using the semantically empty "going forward" at every opportunity.

So I've been noticing a really odd discourse pattern for the last several months, which—oops, there it is! When an interview subject begins the answer to a question with "so", in a [jump]

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Navel-gazing mush

I swear I'll stop writing Piketty posts soon, or at least try to pause to read Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century myself, somehow, but it's going to be really hard if these conservatives don't give it a rest. There are just so many of them, just sufficiently stupider than me as to be not worth the attention of any actual economists (though Krugman couldn't resist a brief shout-out to Brooks this morning), and it gives you such a rush to realize you really do in a simple and straightforward sense know more about economics than Ross Douthat or Megan McArdle or—what's this? James Poulos?

Do any of you all recall James Poulos, an Edroso candidate for the title of worst writer working in the English language, whom I had the opportunity to cast as the logorrhoeic slave Lucky in an imaginary production of Waiting for Godot? Yeah, that James Poulos.

He's still around, it seems, still a colossally bad writer, and getting gigs with the Daily Beast, so you don't have to feel sorry for him, and apparently he too has been driven to write a [jump]

Friday, April 25, 2014

Quasi like a fox

Images via Goodreads.
Like Megan McArdle, David Brooks is so excited by the appearance of Thomas Piketty's Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century that he needs to respond to it right away, and he bursts into his own Shorter:
The book is very good and interesting, but it has pretty obvious weaknesses. Though economists are really not good at predicting the future, Piketty makes a series of educated guesses about the next century.
Well, that's a pretty obvious weakness, anyway. I mean, some of those predictions may well fail to come true, depending on what they are. So it turns out that there's no need to read it, which is a good thing, since it probably has a lot of math in it.

But that doesn't mean we can't propose a three-point program. Since economists may not be good at predicting the future, but non-economists are great at coming up with prescriptions for how to cope with what they can't imagine:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

No racism here

Next time somebody's telling you about the racist Democrats of 50 years ago and how it's Republicans who passed the Civil Rights Act, just close your eyes and remember what the 1964 presidential campaign was actually like.
Via Erik Loomis at LGM.

You probably thought it was Nixon that invented the Southern strategy in the 1968 campaign, and so did I, but I was forgetting. Barry Goldwater totally rejected racism, as we all know, and merely rejected the Civil Rights Act on these absolutely abstract grounds, nothing to do with black folks here, oh no not at all, but you know racism didn't reject him; it knew something about him he didn't (apparently, if you know what I mean) know himself.

Via Pari_Passu.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Megan whoopee

Photo by David Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons.
Hahahaha Megan McArdle:
I apologize in advance, because I am going to talk about a book that I have not yet read. To be clear, I intend to read Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century.” It is sitting on my (virtual) bedside with a big stack of other (digital) books that I intend to read. But it’s far down in the queue, and I’m afraid that I can’t wait to weigh in — not on the book itself, but on its topic. 
But the topic might not be what you think it is, you know. You might want to at least read a couple of reviews all the way through, huh?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Real Leaders

Shorter David Brooks, "The Leadership Emotions", April 22 2014:
Barack lacks all conviction, while Joe Biden
Is full of passionate intensity.
O Captain! My Captain!.
We start off today complaining about how the politicals manage policy nowadays, something with which you and I might wish to concur with a hearty "Damn right, curse that Karl Rove!" or "Ol' Michael Deaver certainly has a lot to answer for!"

But it turns out that Brooks's problem isn't exactly that: it's more that dominance by the politicals has led to a presidency that's not amateurish enough:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Binges of Madison County

Pillars of the Community, Madison County, 1939, via Shorpy. Always a false front.
Ohai, Heritage, whassup?
Wow, it's been a while! Glad to see you're still on your game and all. And tell us all about Madison County, Alabama, and its tragically dispossessed widows?
Madison County Commissioner Roger Jones said no one realized just how much the new federal health care law would change things, especially for the spouses of some of his former employees.
“What I’m trying to do is get this coverage back to them,” said Jones. “A lot of these people are on fixed incomes. Some of them are living on Social Security and very little else, and health insurance is very important to them.”

Confirmation Bias Watch

Some more Piketty fallout: Paul Krugman again bows to empirical evidence and acknowledges changing his mind:
we're rapidly moving towards a state where inherited wealth dominates. I didn't know that. I really was-- I should've known it. I should've thought about it, but I didn't. And so then here comes this book with-- I mean, it's beautiful-- absolutely analytically beautiful, if that makes any sense at all....  You suddenly say, "Oh, this is not-- the world is not the way I saw it."
(h/t Marie2 at Booman Tribune)

Meanwhile Yuval Levin is on record as having (in 2011) blamed current inequality in the United States largely on Great Society social spending in the 1960s and '70s:
Flush with revenue and stirred by the promise of technocratic mastery, our government took on immense entitlement commitments and major social reforms in that era, and these have certainly had some of their intended consequences. But they have also struck at the roots (economic and especially moral) of our ability to sustain our strength. The collapse of the family among the poor — powerfully propelled by the ethic of social democracy and by a horrendously designed welfare system that was not improved until the mid-1990s — has vastly worsened social and economic inequality in America, and the capacity of generations to rise out of poverty.
I'd say that's yet another chance for Levin to show that conservatives can be just as open-minded and ready to bend their opinions to fit the facts as liberals are. How about it, Dr. L? Anything about the Piketty-Saez data make you want to rethink your premises there?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Marx is risen?

Drawing by Martin Rowson.
In the wildest of today's Conservative Easter effusions, Ross Douthat, Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, opines that
IN the season of resurrection, it’s fitting that he’s with us once again — bearded, prophetic, moralistic, promising to exalt the humble and cast down the mighty from their thrones.
Yes, that’s right: Karl Marx is back from the dead.
I'd like to say I scooped Douthat on this one, but truth is it's not really news except the bodily resurrection part, and I totally missed the lede anyway, which is about the French economist Thomas Piketty, whose newly translated Capital in the Twenty-First Century is causing [jump]

A Libertarian Easter

How conservatives really think about the Lord.

From the monumental OMFG Raptor Jesus by Benpadiah.
Via Chris Allen. Good post, too.
Drawing by A.F. Branco for The Liberty Alliance. This one apparently not meant ironically.
For a more serious approach, don't miss Tengrain and Vixen Blogging Against Theocracy.

Annals of derp: HHIMM to Intellectual Beauty

Heritage tonight:

Where do you suppose they got this data? First note when they got it, in the little note just under Alaska: six months ago, when it's pretty hard to imagine how they could have put together a such a magisterial picture of such data as there was at the time, when [jump]

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Because if anybody expected the Spanish Inquisition, it'd spoil the surprise!

And speaking of CIA, their torture psychologist James Mitchell has called up The Guardian to complain about the vicious way he is (apparently) characterized in the Senate select committee report as a, um, torture psychologist:

Quanto mi piaci mai, semplicità!

And here's intrepid journalist Èdvard Snouden in the Guardian, explaining his controversial interview with Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin:
I was surprised that people who witnessed me risk my life to expose the surveillance practices of my own country could not believe that I might also criticise the surveillance policies of Russia, a country to which I have sworn no allegiance, without ulterior motive. I regret that my question could be misinterpreted, and that it enabled many to ignore the substance of the question – and Putin's evasive response – in order to speculate, wildly and incorrectly, about my motives for asking it.
Let the record show that I, for one, would easily believe that he might have criticized the neo-Tsarist police state without ulterior motive, and I'm also starting to believe that story that Greenwald promised him he could go to China and enjoy their freedom of speech and have his own pet phoenix. But not everybody involved is so innocent, starting with Vladimir Vladimirovich and working back to 2009 or so, when the CIA sent young Snowden to NSA by means of a very curious mistake.

But is our children learning?

Philip Kovacs at Education Week. 2011.
You've heard about the situation in the Newark Public Schools, which have been under state control since 1995 and now, under the imperial control of Governor Christie's proconsul/superintendent Cami Anderson, faces the layoffs of about 1000 teachers or a third of the teaching force as well as of other workers, while Teach For America missionaries (no doubt wearing pith helmets and carrying machetes; see shrill Owen Davis) replace them and in spite of the $40-million budget gap Anderson's local minions reap remarkable rewards. I just wanted to post all these extraordinary links, and note in passing that Newark is getting to be like the Stalingrad of education rephorm.

But in the interests of fairness, I'd like to present the following comment in favor of the layoffs, from a story at

As a teacher I think it's a great idea to "trim the fat", so to speak. I work hard for my position and I see other teacher's doing the same things year after year. Other professions are merit based, I think Teaching should be too. We are talking about the future of our Country. What types of people would you like to see fix our nation, slackers or go getters?

Hey, I'd like to see our classrooms staffed by people who know how to use apostrophes and capital letters, but nobody's asking me.

Christie on partisanship

Governor Christie, quoted at ForwardProgressives:
“I don’t believe this is a conservative, or moderate, or liberal issue,” Christie concluded.  “I don’t believe this is a Republican or Democrat issue. Because, let me tell you, I know as many drug-addicted Republicans as I know drug-addicted Democrats.” 
OK, I'll let you tell me. But I want numbers.
From artsy tumblr ChrisChristieEats.

Confirmation Bias Watch

Image by John S. Dykes for Wall Street Journal, July 2012.

A little over a month has passed since famous conservative genius Yuval Levin accused Paul Krugman of refusing to entertain evidence that challenges his beliefs even as he criticizes everybody else for doing the same thing. Here at the Rectification of Names we were able to adduce empirical evidence that Krugman has, actually, repeatedly changed his mind in the face of facts and publicly admitted it, as scientists are supposed to be capable of doing, but not as it happens that Yuval Levin has ever done so.

I just want to note here that Krugman has done it again, on the very important question of whether humanity can afford to stop destroying our Earth with greenhouse gases, in yesterday's Times column:
One front many people didn’t take too seriously, however, was renewable energy. Sure, cap-and-trade might make more room for wind and the sun, but how important could such sources really end up being? And I have to admit that I shared that skepticism. If truth be told, I thought of the idea that wind and sun could be major players as hippie-dippy wishful thinking. But I was wrong.
Still no data on Levin. In 2008, incidentally, he wrote on the subject of climate change denialism,
the genuine abuses of science have been (and frankly continue to be — just listen to “rolling back the waters” Obama lately) more serious on the left in this debate than on the right. 
Maybe now we have some hard evidence on the relative abusiveness of left and right in this connection, this could be a good opportunity for him to demonstrate his ability to revise his views in the light of reality. I can't find that he's said anything on the subject at all lately.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Circus ex machina, machina ex circo

Probably from a Tellyvision show called "Lost Girl", via TheMonkeyTwin
Shorter David Brooks, "When the Circus Descends", New York Times, April 18 2014:
It's centrist street cred time, so I'd like to pause here to mention how fond I am of a pragmatic little idea out there minding its own business when an ideological circus drops on its head, which is a new metaphor for Both Sides Doing It. Thus the crazy right believes that the Common Core State Standards for education are a Communist conspiracy. Also the left doesn't like them either for some [jump]

Cheap shots and fever spots

Dark... edgy... conservative...

Wednesday Addams deals with the national debt. The film's auteur is—apparently—John Hilt, head of the little known and less effective Exposing Marxists PAC (h/t The Wire). His letter to Louisiana Representative Louis Gohmert suggests he's an entrepreneurial job-creaty seeker after some of that wingnut grift:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ukraine, I kraine...

I have a Croatian friend—for well over 20 years, in fact, meaning I first really got to know him during the collapse of Yugoslavia, when he was pretty militant, as you might be too if you knew Slobodan Milošević was trying to murder your mother along with all her neighbors, and even though one of his best friends was a Serb. But he mellowed to some extent thereafter.

At the beginning of 1993, he caught me mocking the Czechs and the Slovaks over the pathetic character of their national breakup, when they couldn't afford to have [jump]

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bad writing

Quintessential Dowd:
It was a sequel idea proposed by Tony Scott, who directed the blockbuster “Top Gun,” before he committed suicide in 2012.

Jerry Bruckheimer, who co-produced the 1986 movie, which he once described as “‘Star Wars’ on earth,” recently revealed to The Huffington Post that he and Cruise are getting “closer and closer” to a deal to make “Top Gun 2.”
It was actually quite a long time before 2012, as the following paragraph makes clear: a good 26 years. Whereas her sentence makes it sound as if he offed himself while the movie was in post-production. Or I'm misreading that comma, and the idea is that he proposed the sequel just before doing himself in, as if it were the idea itself that drove him to despair.

Either way, it has no possible relevance to the subject at hand. If she wanted to make it clear that Scott is not involved in the sequel, she could have said "the late Tony Scott", like any normal writer. But because suicide is a sort of "edgy" concept, and she's deathly afraid that her friends will suspect she might not have known the gossip item (it's two years old!), she's got to squeeze it in somehow, no matter how much it damages her rhythm. What a terrible, terrible writer she is.
From "The Incredibly Fantastic Adventures of Maureen Dowd", via Comics Alliance, 2010.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The times they are a-changin!

The New York Police Department has abandoned a secretive program that dispatched plainclothes detectives into Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop on conversations and built detailed files on where people ate, prayed and shopped, the department said.
The decision by the nation’s largest police force to shutter the surveillance program represents the first sign that William J. Bratton, the department’s new commissioner, is backing away from some of the post-9/11 intelligence-gathering practices of his predecessor. The move comes as the federal government reconsiders and re-evaluates some of its post-9/11 policies, including the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection. 

Ties that re-bind

Homemade matzoh, via BetterBatter.
Shorter David Brooks, "A Long Obedience", New York Times, April 15 2014:
Passover is such a liberal holiday, with all this emphasis on slaves escaping to freedom and getting to do whatever they want, so I prefer to ignore it, and get an early start on Shavuot instead.
A remarkably rich and insane column, seriously suggesting that the feast of the Passover is mistaken in celebrating the Hebrews' escape from their Egyptian bondage when it ought to be celebrating God's giving to Moses of the Law (613 count 'em 613 commandments) 40 years later (and seven weeks later in the Jewish calendar, when it has its own holiday, as Brooks surely knows, the Feast of Weeks, June 3-5 this year), which Brooks says was a "re-binding", as clarified in the commentaries of Rabbis Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin:


34th Street. In the old days, CNN would have been where you go to hear Dr. Gupta's stories. How and why did this peculiar inversion take place?

Monday, April 14, 2014

The proof of the Putin

MICEX index April 2013 to April 2014: Wheee! Via Bloomberg from Econbrowser.
In early March, the Russian stock interest lost almost 11% as Russian troops entered Ukraine, and the value of the ruble against the US dollar fell to record lows. A couple of weeks later, while American conservatives laughed at the pathetic sanctions against Russia imposed by the Obama administration, in Russia sanctions laugh at you, and there was more [jump]

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dishonesty on Diversity

Apropos of nothing in particular... Via SpydersDen.
Shorter Ross Douthat, "Diversity and Dishonesty", New York Times, 13 April 2014:
University faculty should be encouraged to engage in research promoting or justifying oppression or tainted by racism, sexism, or heterosexism, because freedom.
Hahaha, just kidding. The Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street merely argued that tenured faculty should be permitted to engage in such research, against the threat represented by Sandra Korn, a Harvard senior and twice-a-month columnist at the influential Crimson newspaper, who wrote a piece in February expressing a certain nostalgia for the Harvard of [jump]

Friday, April 11, 2014

Cheap shot: Soon they'll be demanding reparations

So true. Everywhere they go, conservatives face heartrending discrimination simply because of who they are.

Herded into segregated schools.
"Conservatives only" drinking fountains.
Wasn't Rosa Parks ordered to the back of the taxi?

Flag dance

Flag dance choreographed by the Ming dynasty imperial prince, mathematician, astronomer, and music theorist Zhu Zaiyu (1536-1611), famous for his discovery of  a precise method of calculating equal temperament in 1585, ahead of Europeans. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The image of mastery and omniscience

Nine seconds of trades as seen by HFT algorithms, visualized by Nanex, via TheFutureReset.
David Brooks writes:
Most of us have been seized at one time or another by what I call the explanatory drive, by which I mean a biological urge to explain things at some length, if not to others then at least to oneself; when you are confronted by a puzzle, riddle, or enigma and cannot rest through your long, haunted nights until you have wrestled that sucker to the ground, figured it out, and shouted, "Eureka!" or words to that effect.
We're all familiar with the explanatory drive, but I never realized I could incorporate it into my narrative of how traditional Tory morality makes [jump]

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Confirmation bias has a conservative bias

Yuval Levin on the hot topic of confirmation bias at the National Review:
Without (it seems) a hint of irony, Paul Krugman argued on Monday that everyone is subject to confirmation bias except for people who agree with him. He was responding to this essay Ezra Klein wrote for his newly launched site,, which took up the question of confirmation bias and the challenges it poses to democratic politics. Krugman acknowledged the research that Klein cites but then insisted that his own experience suggests it is actually mostly people he disagrees with who tend to ignore evidence and research that contradicts what they want to believe, while people who share his own views are more open-minded, skeptical, and evidence driven. I don’t know when I’ve seen a neater real-world example of an argument that disproves itself.
With the implication that I'm rubber, you're glue, and neener neener neener. Or as Jennifer Rubin calls it,

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

From the noise machine

Image via
Another one of those rightwing firestorms, starting with a story in Rupert Murdoch's New York Post and almost instantly spreading to all the usual venues, is the story that the New York State Department of Health has been failing to inspect abortion clinics (as every single one of the stories notes, in that remarkable unison in which they always [jump]

Suffering succotash! Holy cow!

Photo from It's a Vertical Life.
David Brooks generally writes from a a kind of extra-terrestrial standpoint, judging but not participating, but there's been some evidence lately that beneath that sternly objective exterior there beats a human heart, as when he returned from his so-called "book leave" in December with a column about arguments for or against suicide, or when he suddenly launched into a lengthy discussion of the "painfully hip" boutique hotel in January (what, he's doing travel writing now?) and it turned out he must be staying in one, in the wake of the breakup of his marriage; serious Brooksologists such as the esteemed Driftglass have asked themselves if he isn't really trying to tell us something, issuing a cry for help.

The good news today is that he may have gotten some:
Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself in a bunch of conversations in which the unspoken assumption was that the main goal of life is to maximize happiness. That’s normal. 
Because I do not think it is normal to have a large number of conversations devoted to this unless you are seeing a therapist.

The bad news is that he has decided at the moment that he sort of likes suffering as a thought process, a kind of alternative to economics:
the big thing that suffering does is it takes you outside of precisely that logic that the happiness mentality encourages. Happiness wants you to think about maximizing your benefits.
Thus it makes you more empathetic, like Franklin Roosevelt (had polio), or more likely to write something like the Second Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln (conducted the Civil War). Or more, um, spiritual?
even when tranquillity begins to come back, or in those moments when grief eases, it is not clear where the relief comes from. The healing process, too, feels as though it’s part of some natural or divine process beyond individual control.... The right response to this sort of pain is not pleasure. It’s holiness. I don’t even mean that in a purely religious sense.
The right response to this kind of babbling is to draw the curtain, put your finger over your lips, and whisper, "I think he's feeling a little better."

[Driftglass analyzes the column, in contrast, as a kind of fortune cookie. But he's got a marvelous bonus, a parody of "Tradition" from Fiddler on the Roof.]

Monday, April 7, 2014


Who says Easter eggs have no religious significance? At Citarella's Gourmet Market on the Upper Left Side a Jewish egg celebrating the Creation? An aesthete egg celebrating Michelangelo? It's two or three feet high not counting its lotus pedestal and appears to be covered in real chocolate. The buildings are Broadway reflected in window glass. It's years since I've felt myself able to afford anything there other than squid ink,  which I can't find anywhere else, but an astonishing place.

What the elephant left in the room

Perhaps, though, it would be better to start off with a better question. Shorter Jonathan Chait:

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spoilers, alerted: Postscript

Nima Shirazi's account of the case, which makes me feel now that I've read it that I shouldn't even have bothered because it is truly comprehensive and informed (so please read it), has been updated to advert to an also indispensable account by Robert Mackey in the New York Times's Lede blog, which points out that there are plenty of former members of the Students Following the Imam's Line engaging in successful diplomatic careers without incident. One fascinating detail that I just have to put on my own record here: seems that the narrative of how ambassador-designate Aboutalebi is a terrorist has been pushed in particular by none other than the Muhajedin-e-Khalq, an organization we have discussed before, an actual terrorist organization, Israel's known partner in the murders of Iranian physicists a couple of years back.

MEK, of course, has since become a non-terrorist organization by means of the magic of the United States State Department de-listing it under monumental pressure from a lot of people (I'm looking at you, Howard Dean) who had plenty of opportunities to know better. It is obvious that their aim, or that of their secret masters/funders, is to derail the Vienna talks that started on Thursday. This is very bad, and it needs to stop.
Hamid Abutalebi looking a little like a Truffaut character, not too terrorizing. Via Al-Monitor.
[Cross-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog]

Spoilers, alerted

Once again, a Jennifer Rubin of a different choler. Via IMDB.
Here's young Jennifer Rubin on the subject of the nomination by Iran's President Rouhani of Hamid Aboutalebi to serve as Iran's ambassador to the United Nations:
If you believe that President Obama’s Iran policy is correct, then you must assume Iran is a normal state like other states, that its leaders want their country to prosper and that it wants to function as a nation-state in the “international community.” For it is only such a state that would willingly give up its illegal nuclear program in order to reintegrate back into the “international community.” Only a run-of-the-mill regime would put the welfare of its own people over the retention of an unusual weapon system, the sole purpose of which is to terrorize and blackmail neighbors.
You know, I really don't want to talk about the character of a regime that would retain an unusual weapon system, the sole purpose of which is to terrorize and blackmail neighbors, but I swear I will if you make me.

I do want it noted that Iran cannot be accused of "retaining" a weapons system that doesn't exist. Or of conducting an "illegal nuclear program" when it has been found repeatedly [jump]

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Two Afghanistan pictures

From an exhibition, "Anja Niedringhaus—At War" held at The Cube, Eschborn (Hessen), February-March 2012, via

Salavat, Afghanistan, September 2010 © Anja Niedringhaus/AP

Kabul, Afghanistan, September 2009 © Anja Niedringhaus/AP
The photographer, Anja Niedringhaus, was killed yesterday by an Afghan police commander in Khost province, where she was covering the ongoing election with the reporter Kathy Gannon (who was badly hurt). A tribute by Carlotta Gall appeared in today's Times.

Speech Impediments

Dave Whitlam, The Kindness of Strangers (DeviantArt, 2014).
It's a little bit fun watching the Republicans in the wake of the McCutcheon decision basically trying to think of ways to say how much they approve of it without just running out in the street like kids in a summer rain in their bathing suits, to dance in the gentle Kochfall.

To the editors of the National Review, it's all about demonstrating that money really is speech:

There's something I've got to tell you

I'm not like other guys.

Large-format (32" by 40") oil by Russ Docken, undated (it's not on Docken's website, which hasn't been updated since 2009, so it's after that), depicting the famous scene where the 19-year-old Jesus declines a marriage proposal from an upper-class Nazareth girl, [jump]