Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cheap shots and hot swing

Tire swing installation, Motu Viget, by Mark de Suevero, 1973, Grand Rapids; Photo by Paul L. Newby.
Dana Milbank (via Mark Sumner at Kos) assesses Elizabeth Warren's chances of running for president, based on her conduct of a Senate committee hearing:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Boil, bubble, Brooks makes trouble

"I'd like to help you, son, but Res. 242."

Hey la, hey la, my Brooksie's back; he took two weeks and he had a fine vacation, but he didn't see what the United Nations had to do with it:
It’s amazing how much of the discussion of the Gaza war is based on the supposition that it is still 1979.
Whoa, what have you been reading? I want to be amazed too.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Phenomenal success

Photo by Clément Ciocca.
Andrew Cuomo starting to sound a little like Donald Trump, in Buffalo:
"Moreland Commission was a phenomenal success, it generated all sorts of interest in the behavior of the legislature," Cuomo said.
Also about how he never interfered with the commission's functioning:
“The best evidence of independence is when someone from the second floor says, ‘Why don’t you do this?’ The chairman says, ‘Let me think about.’ And then the chairman says, ‘I disagree, I don’t want to do that.’ That’s not a sign of interference. That is demonstrable proof of independence.”
He's got proof that his interference wasn't always successful, so obviously it wasn't interference.

And finally the bit I woke up to, on WNYC this morning:
“Is it perfect? No. Is there more to do? Yes,” the governor said. “But it worked. And the commission members should feel very, very good about what they did.” The governor says he ended the commission, even though it was in the midst of probes, because he doesn’t “believe the state needs another expensive prosecutor’s office."
The real reason he shut it down: it was just so successful it wasn't fair to all the other commissions. He put it hors concours.

Give war a chance?

Via Steven D, vintage 2006.
Classic, like the inverse of "Have you stopped beating your wife?" Here's this thing I define as universally, intrinsically justified, and my question is if Israel does it is Israel justified in particular?

Our literary triumphs

Thalia, Muse of Comedy. Playing card, Ferrara, ca. 1465, Chatsworth House.

The gods gave me a joke yesterday, an amazing Franco-American pun, which I'll never possibly get an opportunity to use again, over at Lawyers, Guns, and Money, where Scott Lemieux was in especially grand form mocking Ezra Klein's opinion that pundits (of the really respectable kind, like Ezra Klein) must have a really crucial, possibly intimidating (or voxtimidating) influence on the Supreme Court. Reproduced without comment:

Monday, July 28, 2014

Poor little rich populist

Monsignor Ross Douthat, the Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, has always seemed to me to be smarter than David Brooks, but he may be equally challenged when it comes to simple mathematics.

In Sunday's Times, he writes:

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Netanyahu lies, outed

'The first eye-witness accounts of the war by serving Israeli reservists and conscripts describes the Israeli use of Palestinian civilians as "human shields". They detail the killing of at least two civilians, the vandalism, looting and wholesale destruction of Palestinian houses, the use of deadly white phosphorus, bellicose religious advice from army rabbis and what another battalion commander described to his troops as "insane firepower with artillery and air force".' (Independent)
Via Richard Silverstein:
I guess that puts the casus belli for the Gaza incursion up there with the 2003 US invasion of Iraq as one of those Big Lies.

Because the attack on Gaza has always been about the three Israeli kids, Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel, who disappeared in the West Bank on the night of June 12,

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Annals of Derp: Impeachy Keen

Impeaches and cream. Cornmeal shortcakes, via Foodland.
One of the rock-bottom silliest things about Speaker Boehner's little summer project of taking President Obama to court (for Subcriminal Neglect, I guess, or maybe it's just Alienation of Affections) is the alleged reason that he has to do it because our otherwise infinitely resourceful and perfect, God-given Constitution doesn't give him any options: as Forbes magazine's Transformational Humanitarian Populism correspondent, gold bug Ralph Benko, writes,

Those wacky Christianists

Welcoming the forthcoming Aaron McGruder comedy series Black Jesus on Adult Swim:
Focal Point host Bryan Fischer put out an “action alert” on his show yesterday because Black Jesus will depict Christ “in the hood,” where he will be “handing out booze to people on the street, homeless people, it looks like to me.” He went on to note that he believes the show “plays to the worst stereotypes of the black community,” and expressed surprise that “black leaders in the NAACP” weren’t already “outraged” by it. (Raw Story)
In the hood.

Keep calm: Postscript

On December 6 2010 Tom Christina of the American Enterprise Institute gave a presentation detailing his hopes for overturning the Affordable Care Act by judicial means. In his PowerPoint presentation, he noted the main criteria:

He found himself gravitating to questions of the state and/or federal government-run health insurance exchanges as an "attractive target", wondered if religious exemptions could provide an issue, and noted, just in passing, an odd little missing thing in Section 1401:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Annals of derp: The Texas Criminal Alien caper

Texas Department of Public Safety.

The chart of total Texas alien (red and green) vs. non-alien (blue) arrests for the past 30 months put out by the Texas Department of Public Safety has some interesting properties. The most interesting, in my opinion, is the way it is not to scale, so that the blue part, with numbers representing about 92% of the total, looks like it's a little less than half. [jump]

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Photo by Mike Groll/AP.
Merry Andrew

Today's story in the Times about Andrew Cuomo's Moreland Commission, which he set up a year ago to investigate corruption in the New York State government and then shut down last March with the unconvincing explanation that it wasn't needed because the legislature had promised to pass a bunch of reform bills (two days later they failed to pass the main items) is pretty shocking, even if you've had a bad feeling about Cuomo for quite a while (one of my first posts, in December 2011, expressed some distress).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Keep calm and karaoke!

Via Cosmo Orbüs.
There's a certain amount of outfreaking (German: Ausfreakung) going on in the Tubes over today's ruling by a three-judge panel of the DC Circuit Federal Court of Appeals that Affordable Care insurance clients can't get their premium subsidies in the 36 states whose Republican governors and/or legislators refused to set up a state exchange, because the law doesn't mention doing subsidies for the big federal exchange that these citizens are forced by their stupid rulers to use instead. "Omigod," I'm hearing, "they're going to murder Obamacare!"

I'm not buying it. Only a couple of hours later another ruling came down from a different panel and in the opposite direction (same link as above):

Big old tough guys

Pavel Gubarev, in gubernatorial regalia. Photo by via Kiyiv Post.
From Sabrina Tavernise's astounding reporting for the Times:
Four rebels in fatigues were wandering through the ruins, looking through people’s belongings and riffling through guidebooks and bags. When asked who was responsible for the crash, they looked incredulous and said that it had of course been the Ukrainian military.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The March of Democracy

$3.75 each from Zazzle.

As I was coming home with the groceries I met Michael J. Dilger on Broadway around 79th Street, where he was gathering signatures for his independent run for the 10th Congressional District, the Upper Left Side seat that has been occupied for 11 terms by Democrat Jerrold Nadler, generally regarded as so safe that it could have been designed by Volvo.

I signed his petition without hesitation, on principle, and only then asked him how his policy ideas were different from those of the incumbent. He came up with two [jump]

Professional Artists Reveal!

Netanyahu office Twitter account releases an authentic artist's rendering of a situation that might, for all we know, actually exist, though it also might not! Israel may have massacred the right place! Because if you can imagine it, it could be true! And more to the point,

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Israel's Pickle

Rafah border crossing. Photo by Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh, Jerusalem Post.
This story, from the Jerusalem Post, with the above illustration, is grotesquely upsetting and yet in a very dark way unspeakably funny:

Friday, July 18, 2014

Don't look now, but your pyre is empurpled

Vital Update 7/19/2014

Beth has gone on beyond mere aesthetics to John C. Wright's HOT SEX ADVICE. There is nothing for me to add but you have to read it.

Note 7/19/2014

As Smut Clyde gently suggests in the comments, John C. Wright's name is actually John C. Wright. When I first hit "publish" on this piece, he was also referred to as "Spencer" a couple of times for reasons I will not attempt to analyze, and on reading it I felt it would be more effective if his name was the same throughout, so I got rid of "Wright", which was the wrong choice.

Cold Majesty. For a film project by Malado Francine Baldwin.
A hilarious manifesto of conservative aesthetics by one John C. Spencer Wright is arousing indignation over at LGM under the gleeful direction of bspencer, for its suggestion that these dreadful young Leftists like Marcel Duchamp have "raped beauty" from out of our midst:
The most precious, profound and important of the great ideas which the Left has raped from us is beauty. I need spend no time on the proposition that life without beauty is a nightmare..

Cheap shot: Just a little bit

What does Governor Christie want? According to Radio Iowa:
“Every time I come here to Iowa I get a great sense of affection and respect from the folks here, but that doesn’t mean that you’re going to be universally loved and if you want to be universally loved in this business, then you’re the absolute poster boy for being ineffective,” Christie said during this afternoon’s news conference. “I don’t care about being loved. I care about being respected.
For example:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cheap shots and a touch of the sublime

Hath not dry ice eyes? Hath not dry ice hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? No? Well, what the hell then? Image from Dallas Morning News.
A Princeton professor who CBNC billed as an “industry expert” on the climate said this week that scientists were demonizing carbon dioxide “like the poor Jews under Hitler” in order to perpetrate a global warming hoax.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Players: The Borgia Bunch

Sofonisba Anguissola, Portrait of the Artist's Sisters Playing Chess, 1555, National Museum in Poznań. Images from a 2006 show at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, "At Home in Renaissance Italy".
Here's a story about a man named Borgia...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ça ira!

Edith Piaf's cameo as "une femme du peuple" in Sacha Guitry's 1954 film Si Versailles m'était conté (score by the great Jean Françaix).

Happy Bastille Day, everybody!


Sunday, July 13, 2014

West of Eden: The situation

Corsola Evolutions. By Tariq SP at DeviantArt.

I used to write a good deal about the Israel-Palestine situation, and I don't much any more partly because I don't have anything new to say about it and lots of better-informed people (many of them blogrolled here—I just added Mondoweiss) have lots. On the latest attempt to maintain Gaza as an Israel-run prison camp without any guards*, the most recommendable thing I've seen lately is (no surprise) by Professor Juan Cole:

Cookeing with gas

John Boehner’s Legal Lesson 
At least the Obama suit will pull back a bit the ignorant pall of our political culture. 
So nice of the National Review to hire German immigrants to write the subheads, putting "back a bit" on the German side of the sentence object. But what exactly is a "pall" in this context? It looks like a piece of cloth used to cover some kind of ritual object—a communion chalice or a coffin—but which? And does that mean our political culture is one or the other? And why would a pall be ignorant? (as opposed to a "pall of ignorance", which is a fairly normal phrase, not to say a cliché).
The pall is the thing like a mortarboard on top of the chalice. I guess it's the kind over the coffin that could be pulled back, and that Cookie has in mind, but this is a cheerier picture. Via Jet Buenconsejo.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Cheap shots: High whines and pissed demeanors

Governor Perry knew he was either being mocked or ignored, but which was it? These city folks talk so dern fast! Photo by Jacquelyn Martin/AP.
Speaker Boehner finally revealed what he's planning to sue President Obama over:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Brooks on the Beautiful Game

Lionel Messi for Barcelona against Viktoria Plzen, via Barcaforum.
David Brooks suggests that he kind of likes World Cup soccer, and quotes some estimable writers on the subject. I'm really inclined to take the Brooksological day off and let him alone, except this:
soccer is like a 90-minute anxiety dream — one of those frustrating dreams when you’re trying to get somewhere but something is always in the way.
No it isn't. If that's how it feels to you, you should be watching a different sport.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Gleanings from a not unincidental economist

Pinned angel, from CraftyB (not a Hobby Lobby rival, I think, but an independent artist).
I may need to offer an "I changed my mind" over the question of whether covering contraception in the health insurance policy lowers the insurance costs, by saving the costs to the company of unintended pregnancies, or not, which I chewed over most recently here, because Austin Frakt, the Coincidental Economist, has warned readers of the New York Times Upshot that this may not be the case: because among the sources cited by my source (the HHS Issue Brief of February 2012) is a study from Hawaii whose conclusions are "not unambiguous":

Glorious Fifth: Postscript

Looks like the promised sky-covering fireworks naming of Snowden names at Pierre Omidyar's Intercept really has taken place after all, not on the fifth of July, but close. It's possibly the most shocking misbehavior by the NSA reported in the Snowden documents so far—involving the targeting of American citizens and even a Republican!—and I'm really glad to see it come out:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Brooks on Beatles, wronger than you could imagine, and other matters

Asta Nielsen as a female Hamlet, 1921. Via (Parenthetical Citations).
Shorter Bill Shakespeare, Hamlet (ca. 1600):
Shakespeare combined the Greek honor code (thou shalt avenge the murder of thy father) with the Christian mercy code (thou shalt not kill) to create the torn figure of Hamlet.
No, that's Brooks. It's the second time we've caught him doing a Shakespeare Shorter (the first was Henry V). As an analysis, it looks about as wrong as you can imagine: the only time in Hamlet where "mercy" is used in any kind of strictly theological sense it is applied to God, not Hamlet, in Claudius's prayer soliloquy (III/iii):

Monday, July 7, 2014

Glorious Fifth

South Fayetteville, PA.
Was that the grand finale of the Snowden fireworks display that showed up in the Washington Post on Saturday (instead of the Intercept, which went silent three weeks ago), with the unacceptable part, the naming of victims, removed?
“As with a fireworks show, you want to save your best for last,” Greenwald told GQ magazine. “The last one is the one where the sky is all covered in spectacular multicoloured hues.” (Real Clear Politics)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Cheap shot: Guess who's coming for Dinesh?

I mean, other than the police? If it's for the new movie, I think the answer is that it's not everybody, quite, though the ever-optimistic fans are expecting a breakthrough soon:
In tears of chagrin and amazement, no doubt, at how they were watching a movie so dismal that its most stirring trailer moment is when General George Washington dies in battle (that's just one of the trailers; another one has a charming appearance from a nonfictional Noam Chomsky trolling D'Souza pretty mercilessly but too politely for D'Souza to notice); watching a movie instead of fireworks and eating artificially buttered popcorn instead of barbecue. People who can't take a break from their resentment and rage even on Independence Day, because that was the only day folks really came out.

As the Hollywood Reporter put it,

How do you plead? Postscript

Via Total Frat Move.

Jonah Goldberg may have been distressed by declining American patriotism as measured by whether people think this is the "greatest country in the world" or not,  or how PTBAA they are (for you youngsters, that's "Proud To Be An American" as it used to be abbreviated in the Nixon era, when patriotism was marketed more than usually like a yogurt brand, but the July 2013 Pew poll he was looking at isn't the only one out there.

Another is the quadrennial American National Election Study, reported by Lynn Vavreck in yesterday's Upshot (via Ed Kilgore), which asked some different questions, writes Vavreck:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

How do you plead? Special, your honor.

Jonah Goldberg has a new butch gravatar at the National Review Online, with a better-trimmed beard and a ferociously flinty don't-tread-on-me expression behind his new glasses. No more Mr. Nice Doughy. Am I seeing things, or is he slightly cross-eyed?

Anyway, he's pretty ticked off at us Americans:
A new Pew survey found that 44 percent of Americans don’t often feel pride in being an American, and only 28 percent said that America is the greatest country in the world. Respondents who “often feel proud to be American” were overwhelmingly conservative (from 72 percent to 81 percent, depending on the kind of conservative). A majority (60 percent) of “solid liberals” said they don’t often feel proud to be an American.
Fuck yeah. What a bunch of losers, that 72% of the American population, failing to assert at every opportunity that they're better than everybody else, which is, as you know, the way you prove you're better than everybody else. (Note, by the way, that the survey he's talking about, to which he doesn't give a link, came out just over a year ago.)

Friday, July 4, 2014

Cheap shots and skyrockets

Happy Independence Day!

And more below the fold!

A talent to bemuse

Robert Ryan in God's Little Acre (1958).
Today's David Brooks is one of a kind of mini-series in which he pokes about in the backyard for bones borrowed from the opinionist Kevin Lewis of the Boston Globe.

Lewis performs an odd but very valuable little public service in the form of a daily blog at the National Interest where he runs, without comment, the author-written abstracts of social science papers recently published or accepted for publication.

David Brooks is a subscriber, and I guess regularly picks up on particular abstracts and copies them into his Rainy Day Social Science Prompts file, and then every once in a while (December 2010, March 2011, December 2012, and today) assembles [jump]

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hobbyist Lobbyists

So much great stuff has been written about the Hobby Lobbyists—an awful lot of it at the sites you can visit by clicking over there on the right—that there isn't much left for me to say, but there are a few things.

Once again, as I've been patiently explaining for quite a while now, companies are not paying for contraception. They are saving the costs of unintended pregnancies, [jump]