Friday, April 29, 2005


Taking a break from his campaign of intimidation of Middle East Studies faculty deemed insufficiently pro-Israel, Stanley Kurtz complains that the Left is fomenting hatred against conservative Christians.

The most extreme political rhetoric of our day is being directed against traditional Christians by the left...

The fact of the matter is that the Left’s rhetorical attacks on conservative Christians have long been more extreme, more widely dissemina/ted, and more politically effective than whatever the Christians have been hurling back.

He must be referring to the time those Leftists blamed Christians for the 9/11 attacks...oh, wait.

This is more than stupidity on stilts, this is stupidity on stilts pedaling backwards on a unicycle, clanging great, shiny bells and wearing a birthday cake for a hat.

For just one example, take Kurtz's reference to the "pervasive, if low-level, violence" which grew out of the Left's Bush-hatred, a claim which he supports with a link to an article by himself from last October wherein he related some anecdotes about Bush-Cheney supporters having their cars keyed and yard signs stolen, and the "climate of fear" this had created.

Even granting Kurtz's claim that hatred of Bush has now morphed into hatred of Christians, a claim which he doesn't bother backing up with, you know, evidence, in one corner we have people who key cars and steal signs, and in the other we have people who fucking blow up buildings and advocate violence against judges they consider too liberal. But it's the car-keying and sign-stealing that should really trouble us. Right.

Frankly, comprehending the depth and breadth of the sheer, head-shaking, Bob Newhart-blinking, tuna sandwich phone mumbo-pocus up-is-downism of Kurtz's piece is a rather daunting task. Thankfully, the Poor Man drags this sucker on board and performs a skillful filleting. Read the whole thing.


Israeli writer Amos Oz has been awarded Germany's prestigious Goethe Prize for his life's work.

Oz is Israel's most famous author, and it's a shame that his work is not better known in the U.S., something I hope will change. All writers serve,to some degree, as narrators of the life of their countries and cultures, but as a modern literary figure Oz is singular in that he has literally grown up together with his country. Throughout his career he has dealt frankly, probingly, and always artfully with events and circumstances surrounding the birth and growth of the Jewish state. When peace is finally achieved between Israel and Palestine, it will be in part because of the work and ideas of people like Oz.

Oz's observation in this 2002 article is typically astute, that the Israel-Palestine conflict is in fact two wars at once:

Two Palestinian-Israeli wars have erupted in this region. One is the Palestinian nation's war for its freedom from occupation and for its right to independent statehood. Any decent person ought to support this cause. The second war is waged by fanatical Islam, from Iran to Gaza and from Lebanon to Ramallah, to destroy Israel and drive the Jews out of their land. Any decent person ought to abhor this cause.

Yasser Arafat and his men are running both wars simultaneously, pretending they are one. The suicide killers evidently make no distinction. Much of the worldwide bafflement about the Middle East, much of the confusion among the Israelis themselves, stem from the overlap between these two wars.

To draw this out further, just as Islamic extremists attempt to conflate the struggle for Palestinian statehood with the destruction of Israel, so Israeli extremists (and their useful idiots in the U.S.) conflate the war on terror with Israel's war on the Palestinians and its efforts to frustrate Palestinian statehood in order to subsume more Palestinian territory.

Here's an excellent profile of the author which appeared in the New Yorker last November.

Thursday, April 28, 2005


Apparently Tom DeLay's duty to "our national honor" stops at the waters' edge (via Atrios):

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes, according to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a cigar is an economic prop to a brutal totalitarian regime. Arguing against loosening sanctions against Cuba last year, DeLay warned that Fidel Castro "will take the money. Every dime that finds its way into Cuba first finds its way into Fidel Castro's blood-thirsty hands.... American consumers will get their fine cigars and their cheap sugar, but at the cost of our national honor."

DeLay has long been one of Congress' most vocal critics of what he calls Castro's "thugocracy," which is why some sharp-eyed TIME readers were surprised last week to see a photo of the Majority Leader smoking one of Cuba's best—a Hoyo de Monterrey double corona, which generally costs about $25 when purchased overseas and is not available in this country. The cigar's label clearly states that it was made in "Habana." The photo was taken in Jerusalem on July 28, 2003, during a meeting between DeLay and the Republican Jewish Coalition at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

Hypocritical jerk.

Also, I had no idea that my government actually has a law prohibiting me from smoking certain kinds of cigars in other countries. How silly.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


This is funny (thanks to John Griffin).

"You will return the fleet to the outer rim tomorrow," enunciated Emperor Palpatine crisply, leaning into his cane and watching me from beneath the hem of his black mantle. "You will soon have the clues you need to close in on our quarry."

"You believe the new probe droids will be effective, then, my master?"

"I am not concerned with droids," he replied. "Rather, I have foreseen these events. The strings of the Force grow taut, and soon we shall play a tune upon them, Lord Vader. It will be a dirge for the rebellion that will initiate the second age of this New Order."

Man, that guy loves the sound of his own voice! Luckily no one can see me roll my eyes behind this masque.

Great stuff.

UPDATE: Hey, look, Darth Vader's position on torture is the same as the Bush Administration's.


Jerusalem Post columnist Tom Gross (via Andrew Sullivan) reacts predictably to the new play about activist Rachel Corrie, currently being staged in London:

For those who don't recall the story, Rachel Corrie was a young American radical who burned mock-American flags at pro-Hamas rallies in Gaza in February 2003. A short while later she died after jumping in front of an Israeli army bulldozer that was attempting to demolish a structure suspected of concealing tunnels used for smuggling weapons.

Notice that Gross states that the "structure" (he can't even bring himself to call it a house, which is what it was, home to an extended family) was "suspected of concealing tunnels used for smuggling weapons." We'll have to be satisfied with "suspicion" here, given that the IDF regularly undertakes the destruction of multiple family houses based on secret evidence. Furthermore, if a smuggling tunnel had in fact been discovered beneath the Palestinian home that Corrie was trying to protect, I think we might have heard something about it.

The rest of Gross' hit-piece contains similar distortions. I won't bother with all of them, but this one deserves attention:

ISM is routinely described as a "peace group" in the Western media. Few make any mention of ISM's meeting with British suicide bombers Omar Khan Sharif and Assif Muhammad Hanif, who a few days later blew up Mike's Place, a Tel Aviv pub, killing three and injuring dozens – including British citizens.

This is a lie which has unfortunately persisted in right-wing circles. The only known connection Sharif and Hanif had with ISM consisted of the two of them attending a large ISM meeting which was open to the public.

I personally don't get with the beatification of Corrie, to the extent that this is even happening outside of a small sector of the Left, but I find the smearing of her by the Israel-phile right, exemplified by Gross and abetted, unfortunately, by Sullivan, to be reprehensible. I have serious problems with the philosophy of ISM myself, but I respect Corrie for putting deeds to her beliefs and trying to help a people who have been severely abused by recent history. I think it was pretty dumb of her to burn an American flag while abroad(to say nothing of letting herself be photographed while doing so) but implying, as her critics persistently do, that she left the safe, comfortable confines of college life in the Pacific Northwest to share the squalid conditions and dangerous day-today existence of Palestinians under Israeli occupation, where you may be shot merely for walking outside of your house at the wrong time (when is the wrong time? That's part of the surprise!), merely to indulge some kind of burning hatred for Israel and/or the United States is profoundly cynical, stupid, and frankly disgusting.

As for the circumstances surrounding Corrie's end, the fact is that her death happened as a direct, if unintended, result of Israel's commission of a crime: the collective punishment of Palestinians, specifically the destruction of their houses, in the course of an illegal military occupation. This is, by my understanding, murder. If one accidentally kills another, for instance, while committing a burglary or kidnapping, it's no defense to say "Oh, I only meant to commit burglary or kidnapping." The killing attaches to the original crime and can and would be charged as murder. This isn't legalistic hair splitting, it goes to the tragically underreported fact that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has, for the past 38 years, taken place against the backdrop of an ongoing crime by Israel: its illegal and brutal military occupation, collective punishment against the Palestinian people, and expropriation of Palestinian land and resources. Focussing on the alleged bad acts and questionable beliefs of some of Corrie's associates is merely an attempt to draw attention away from those facts.

I strongly agree with Gross, though, that the other young Rachels he mentions deserve our sympathy and sorrow, but for reasons other than he intends. Like Rachel Corrie, they are unintended victims of the occupation.


Kathryn Lopez in the Corner:

WMDS IN SYRIA? [K. J. Lopez]
The CIA can't rule out that's where Saddam's weapons went.

How utterly pathetic this is. The NRO gang has gone from "We'll absolutely find Saddam's WMD within hours of getting U.S. Army boots on the ground!" to "The CIA can't prove that Saddam's weapons weren't secretly transported to Syria!" Well, neither can the CIA prove that Saddam's weapons weren't secretly transported to the moon in a rocket ship shaped like the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile, so clearly this case remains open and will provide us with many, many questionably sourced, Fox News-parrotted, wingnut conspiracy theories in the years to come.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Indicating his belief that that two wrongs do in fact make a right, President Bush campaigned for Social Security privatization and expressed support for Tom DeLay at a rally in Galveston today. It seems to me that Democrats couldn't ask for anything better than for Bush, DeLay, and Social Security privatization to be chained together in voters' minds, but then again I'm an out of touch latte-sipping coastal elite type.


Matt Haughey says the use of the term "mainstream media" reveals the user to be a crank, and he will not read the work of any such blogger. Juan Cole says that's dumb, he doesn't really care if Haughey reads his blog or not, and asserts that bloggers exist within "a different political economy than [do] mainstream media."

Haughey responds that Cole should relax.

Both have a point, though I think Cole's argument, while perhaps inappropriately pugnacious, is more correct. Haughey's right that the distinctions between more democratic media, such as blogs, and what many refer to as the mainstream media, such as the New York Times and CNN, are slowly breaking down, but Cole is right that, at least for the moment, those distinctions do exist, and are in many cases quite stark.

As for the use of the term "Mainstream Media," or MSM, it's one of those terms that means something completely different depending on the political orientation of the user. Right-wingers use it to mean "the liberal-biased, elite Europhile, latte-drinking types who look down on real Amurcans," while lefties generally use it to mean the dominant corporate news-media which are driven by profit imperatives rather than by responsibility to the public, and thus seek out and feature conflict with too little concern for examining the veracity of the combatants. As a liberal I subscribe to the latter interpretation, and obviously think the former is a load of crap, but I don't really have any problem with the term in and of itself.

Monday, April 25, 2005


BBC reports on a new play (directed by Alan Rickman) on the life and activism of Rachel Corrie, a 23 year-old Evergreen State College student who in 2003 was killed by a U.S.-made Israeli bulldozer as she tried to prevent it from demolishing Palestinian houses in southern Gaza.

Friday, April 22, 2005


Michael Berube offers an interesting new Friday feature: arbitrary but fun value judgments:

We’ll kick this off with an easy one. Nick Lowe’s “Cruel to Be Kind” is the most perfect pop song ever written.

Excellent tune, no doubt, and Berube offers an admirable defense of his choice and explanation of his methodology. Go check it out. Myself, off the top of my head, I'm feeling these four tunes immediately:

Ain't Too Proud to Beg- The Temptations. Three chords, simple lyrics about a man who wants his woman back, one of the Funk Brothers' leanest, meanest backing performances, and a lead vocal from David Ruffin which transcends pop music itself, taking its place among the great novels, paintings, sculpture, and architecure of the world.

Don't Dream It's Over- Crowded House. The jagged sus2 chord which opens this tune is probably the single most evocative moment in pop music for me. Okay, there's a glimmer of social content in the lyrics, but I think the uber-singable chorus and organ-into-guitar solo more than make up for it.

ABC- Jackson 5. No explanation needed.

Don't Get Me Wrong- The Pretenders. She worked the line "I split like light refracted" into a song. That's awesome.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


I am overjoyed to find out that Dinosaur Jr, in my opinion the greatest American band of the last twenty years, will be touring in the U.S. No word yet on West Coast dates, let's hope Murph can keep J and Lou from each others' throats long enough for them to bring their mighty rawk noise to Seattle.

Dinosaur's performance on The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson last week is available for download here.


What huge, gaping hole in the Liberal Media Fortress did this laudatory Time cover story on Ann Coulter sneak through?

Monday, April 18, 2005


Excellent series of essays from the indispensable Bitterlemons on the possibility of Jewish settlers remaining in place but living under Palestinian administration. This might sound like an impossible scenario at first, but frankly I don't think it's any more unlikely or unworkable than the Palestinians acceding to a final status agreement which both cuts them off from Jerusalem and divides their state into bantustans.

While it's true that a very vocal minority of settlers are hard-line Arab-hating Jewish supremacists who would very likely reject such a solution (and who in doing so would demonstrate once and for all that their motivation is in fact political, and not religious as they insist), a sizeable portion of West Bank settlers are relatively recent refugees, mostly Russian and African, to whom the Israeli government offers economic enticements as a means to getting more Palestinian land under Israeli control. These are people who may be more amenable to the idea of living under a Palestinian government as long as they feel secure, as long as their kids have decent schools, and as long as the electricity and water keep running.

I think the bottom line here is: why the hell not? Why shouldn't Jews be able to live in Palestine, alongside Arab neighbors?


Interesting article by Jeffrey Hart (via Andrew Sullivan) detailing some of the more troubling aspects of modern Evangelicalism, and the dire implications for American politics.


Let me take a break from the war for a minute to write how disappointed I was with this movie, which I just watched on DVD. I'm only mentioning this because I absolutely love Soderbergh's remake of Ocean's Eleven, which I think is a masterpiece of popcorn cinema. No heavy lifting, no heavy thought, just a bunch of movie stars dressed to the nines, a great script, and a heist sequence for the ages, plotted and paced superbly.

I seem to recall a review which in a sentence nailed what's wrong with this movie: they made a sequel to the wrong Ocean's Eleven. Much like Sinatra's Ocean's 11, this film is essentially just a bunch of millionaires looking swank and chuckling to each other about how damn rich they are. Fun for them, not so much for us.

But all is not lost, because this gives me a perfect opportunity to list my favorite heist films. Now, to qualify as a heist film, certain marks must be hit, and that's part of the beauty of the genre. Much like haiku, the constraints inherent in the form make the subtler details all the more important. A heist movie must contain: 1) The assembling of a team (the safe-cracker, the driver, the demolitions expert, the master of disguises, etc.) 2) a filmic explication of the heist itself which borders on, and often crosses over into, the sensual. 3) Uh-oh, somethings happened that we didn't plan for! And 4) I'm sorry to have to write this, but it's true: No chicks. Women only exist in the world of heist films to mess everything up. Of course, as with all rules, there are exceptions.

So, my favorites:
Rififi (1955)
The Killing (1956)
The Italian Job (1969)
Heat (1995)
Three Kings (1999) (barely brushes the marks, but makes my list on pure coolness)
Heist (2001) (exception to the No Chicks rule. Also, two words: Ricky frikkin' Jay)
Ocean's Eleven (2002)

I'd also mention Reservoir Dogs (1992) and A Fish Called Wanda (1988), neither of which are really heist movies per se, but both of which deal very interestingly with the aftermath of heists. A Fish Called Wanda can also be seen as an argument in favor of the No Chicks rule.

Friday, April 15, 2005


Nationalist chest-pounder extraordinaire Victor Davis "Let me explain why all this is just like the Peloponnesian War" Hanson has a snide little victory lap of a column wherein he criticizes those experts (he would probably want quotes around the word experts, but I won't do that, because I'm not a dick, or at least not as much of one as Vic)who predicted a bad outcome for the Iraq War. Leaving aside that the people that Hanson calls out have been vindicated in many of their warnings, let's use the magic of the internets to see what old Vic himself was writing on the eve of the Iraq invasion:

The fact is that U.S. Marines will find more deadly weapons in the first hours of war than the U.N. did in three months.



Via Tapped, Tom Delay's House of Scandal. Drip, drip, drip.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Having Otto Reich recommend you to the UN is like having Michael Jackson recommend you as a great babysitter. It depends on what kind of "care" one is looking for.

I loved this:

Too often those hearings are used by senators and their staff to pursue an ideological agenda and engage in personal destruction. If they cannot force a nominee to withdraw, hearings can be blocked by only one senator, while he and his staff spread scurrilous rumors about the nominee--who is unable to counter because he is told that "it will hurt your chances" if a hearing ever takes place. This happened to me in 2001, but I was fortunate to have been nominated by a principled president whose small army of lawyers looked into the false allegations, recognized the campaign as one conducted by moral cowards unwilling to face their victims, and then appointed me to office using his constitutional power of "Recess Appointment."

This is the political equivalent of "You're lucky my mom called me for dinner, otherwise I'd have kicked your butt!" In reality, Bush realized that Reich's record as a death-squad-coddling thug would likely harm Bush politically were Reich subjected to Senate scrutiny, so the president appointed him during Congressional recess. The recess appointment is a device which Republicans whined about unceasingly when President Clinton used it, but when Bush does it it's "principled," understand? What's not clear is exactly which principle we're talking about.


It would be easy to dismiss NBC's new Revelations miniseries as just a TV version of disaster movies like The Swarm and Meteor (the latter of which I always thought could have used an exclamation point, but I guess that will have to wait for Meteor! The Broadway Musical) if it weren't for the unfortunate fact that great numbers of people actually take this stuff seriously.

The current obsession with the end times and the book of Revelations, evinced by the enormous popularity of the Left Behind series, among other things, is, I think, rather easy to understand. Fundamentalist Christians perceive themselves as being under attack by godless culture which scoffs at their faith, and it's extremely satisfying to believe that all those over-educated coastal types who look down their noses at real Christian Amurcans will get theirs in the end. Indeed, there is an entire tax-exempt industry which exists to promote and profit from this belief. Having been raised in the church before lighting out for the greener pastures and beautiful open spaces of reason, I myself am more familiar than I'd like with the strange, tendentious, and highly questionable theology, known as Dispensationalism, behind this mindset.

Here's a primer on Dispensationalism. No, they're not kidding. Yes, it's perhaps odd that people would subscribe to such an eccentric reading of the Bible, but on the other hand these are people who believe that it's actually possible to build a boat big enough to house two of every species of animal on earth, that a man could be swallowed by a great fish and then vomited up on to shore with few to no ill after-effects, and that genocide is okey dokey in order to clear the inhabitants off of land which your tribal diety has promised to you, so one shouldn't be too surprised.

At best, Dispensationalism is perverse pop theology. There have been groups which believed that the end was nigh literally since the beginning of Christianity. Indeed, the writings of the apostles give every indication that they expected Jesus to return in a matter of days or weeks after he ascended, possibly after he'd had a chance to change clothes and get something to eat (nothing beats a patty melt in heaven). There have always been religious cranks who played upon the stupidity and fear of their flocks in order to gain power and notoriety for themselves (to be fair, there have also been those who believed what they were shoveling), but Dispensationalism really kicked into gear with the creation of Israel in 1948.

One of the major tenets of Dispensational theology is that it sees no distinction between the biblical kingdom of Israel and the modern state of Israel, the creation of which is understood as the literal fulfillment of prophecy and a prerequisite for the Second Coming. This is the single most significant factor in American Christians' very partisan support for Israel, as they believe that the Jews must inhabit all of the territory of the ancient kingdom in order to properly trip the Rube Goldberg End Times Contraption. Most Dispensationalists oppose any sort of negotiated peace between Israel and Palestine which involves Israel relinquishing occupied Palestinian territory, which is to say that they oppose peace.

And now they're being catered to by our liberal media.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Here's a great profile of Antonin Scalia which appeared in the New Yorker a few weeks ago. It's pretty fair to the man, more than he probably deserves, while at the same time handily eviscerating the judicial philosophy of "originalism" to which Scalia subscribes.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


I saw this on Michael Berube's blog, thought it was interesting enough to take a stab at.

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?
Either De Profundis by Oscar Wilde or Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 by Hunter S. Thompson.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Yes, Daisy Duke. Oh, you mean from literature? Illyana Rasputin, Magik the Sorceress Supreme of Marvel's New Mutants. What, no comic books? Okay then, Sandy (Demoiselle Alisande de la Carteloise) from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

The last book you bought is?
Blood Brothers, by Father Elias Chacour, a Palestinian Catholic priest whose family was thrown out of their home and land in al Nakba of 1948. The book is both a personal account of the tragedy and a plea for reconciliation between the children of Abraham.

What are you currently reading?
A History of the Arab Peoples by Albert Hourani, a very good single volume treatment of a massive subject.

Five books you would take to a deserted island:
The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde (that's one book), Isaac Asimov's Guide to Earth and Space, The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Creation by Gore Vidal, and Fierce Pajamas: An Anthology of Humor Writing from the New Yorker.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
Leslie, Stacius, and Rob, because they're all thoughtful readers with widely divergent tastes.


The contortions of the American Likudnik Right probably shouldn't surprise me any more, but this column by John "the Melissa Rivers of Punditry" Podhoretz is just skull-clutchingly perverse. In reference to the controversy over Israel's plans to build 3500 new homes in the Maale Adumim settlement in the West Bank, Podhoretz writes:

You might have read, or heard, that the construction of new homes and a new road would constitute a violation of the so-called "road map" to peace that was released by the United Nations in 2002. That is true, since the road-map document calls for a freeze on all settlement activity.

But so what? Though both the United States and Israel state for the record that they still accept the design of the road map, and though Bush specifically made mention of the road map yesterday in explaining the American government's continuing opposition to "settlement activity," the fact is that the 2 1/2-year-old document is as dated as the word "groovy."

With Israel's successful defeat of the Palestinian intifada, the death of Yasser Arafat and Sharon's stunning decision to cede Gaza to the Palestinian Authority, the terms of the discussion between the two parties have changed entirely.

Got that? Israel can unilaterally withdraw from agreements it's made when it decides those agreements are "dated," and the Palestinians, upon whose land the new homes will be built, and the Americans, who sponsored the agreement, can all go suck a huge egg. The extent of the shilling for Israel that Podhoretz is doing here should give anyone pause, but please do not question where his loyalties lie, because that would make you an anti-Semite.

In smugly downplaying the significance of Israel's illegal settlement activity, Podhoretz is countenancing a crime which has immediate negative repercussions both for the Palestinian people, and for the reputation of the United States as an honest broker, if that reputation even exists any more, which is doubtful. To put it more bluntly: John Podhoretz has taken a position which is contrary to both the stated policy and security goals of the U.S., and in favor of the illegal, inhumane, expansionist policies of Israel. If a liberal columnist wrote something comparable about, say, France, well, you know what would happen. Ann Coulter would be on Fox News within minutes spitting up blood, Charles Krauthammer would declare the writer clinically insane, Jonah Goldberg would quote a famous conservative philosopher whose work he obviously failed to grasp, and Michelle Malkin would get a new perm. In other words, a typical day in Wingnutistan.

Juan Cole has more on Bush's meeting with Sharon.

Monday, April 11, 2005


This is great stuff: Professional ex-Leftist/current fascist clown David Horowitz asked Michael Berube to participate in an online debate. Berube agreed. Horowitz then published a heavily redacted version of the discussion, cutting short many of Berube's rebuttals and even going so far as to chide Berube for not responding to points which Berube had, in fact, responded to, but which Horowitz had edited out. Pretty shabby, eh?

Unfortunately for Horowitz, Berube A) does actually read the internets, B) had saved his full, original responses, and C) has his own blog on which to post them. Heh.

Berube closes with a couple of beautiful strokes to Horowitz's backside:

I think we’re finally getting to the real reason David hates professors so much. It has nothing to do with our salaries or our working hours: he hates our freedom. Horowitz knows perfectly well that I can criticize the Cockburns and Churchills to my left and the Beinarts and Elshtains to my right any old time I choose, and that at the end of the day I’ll still have a job – whereas he has to answer to all his many masters, fetching and rolling over whenever they blow that special wingnut whistle that only far-right lackeys can hear. It’s not a very dignified way to live, and surely it takes its toll on a person’s sense of self-respect.

With respect to the issue of self-respect, here’s the giveaway: think about how often Horowitz complains that the intellectual left doesn’t take him seriously, doesn’t read his books, and so on. What’s weird about this, you’ll probably have noticed by now, is that American left intellectuals are just about the only thinkers who pay any attention to Horowitz at all. Most of the country’s serious intellectual conservatives consider him either a useful rabble-rouser or a rank embarrassment, more akin to Michael Savage than to Michael Oakeshott. And with good reason.

Very good.


Shorter John Bolton hearings:

Q: Several years ago, you claimed that there was "no such thing as the UN," and that the UN building could lose ten stories and it wouldn't matter at all. Could you explain these statements?

A: Senator, those comments are taken out of context. Directly after I made the comment about there being no UN, I went on to explain how much I love cinammon graham crackers. Always have. And I stand by that.

Q: How is that relevant to...

A: It's out of context, sir.

Q: Okay, could you put your statement about the UN building losing ten stories into context for us?

A: Yes, I'd be happy to. That comment was made in the context of my not yet having been nominated to be UN Ambassador, and in that context I was saying what I really believe, versus spraying bullshit at you through a firehose as I am doing now.

Q: Okay.

Boxer got in some good jabs, but I've got a bad feeling about this.

Friday, April 08, 2005


Great Frontline site for the recent program Israel's Next War, which examines the coming conflict between Sharon's government which, along with a majority of the Israeli population, supports Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, and a minority of very militant settlers who believe (and for the last forty years have been encouraged in this belief by their government) that their mystical claim to the land should supercede the claims of those who've actually been living there for the last 2000 years. Some rabbis have called upon Israeli soldiers to disobey the disengagement order, and many settlers have threatened to violently resist any attempt to remove them from Gaza.

An equally appropriate title for the program would have been "Israel Prepares to Sleep in the Bed It Made."


Article from the Seattle PI on the tragedy of musical instrument theft. I've never had this happen to me in Seattle, but I did have my guitar stolen from a campus practice space in college, a Squier Telecaster which I had scrimped and saved to buy, which had powered my first band in high school, and upon which I became a competent guitarist. It was not vintage, not collectible or anything like that, but to me it was priceless, and I'll always feel a little bit sad about losing it, and a little bit angry at the heartless fucker who walked off with that piece of my musical history.

Dante neglected to mention precisely which circle of Hell is for musical instrument thieves, but, assuming it's in the general area reserved for music-related crimes, I'd guess it's somewhere near the Hootie and the Blowfish Suite .

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


You should be reading Steve Clemons' daily postings on John Bolton, President Bush's nominee for UN Ambassador. Bolton's confirmation hearings are scheduled for Thursday.

The Institute for Policy Studies has a list of questions they think Senators should ask.

UPDATE: The Bolton hearings were postponed. Damn, had my popcorn ready and everything.

Monday, April 04, 2005


Arab-Israeli footballers are keeping Israel's World Cup hopes alive.

JERUSALEM: "No Arabs, no goals," crowed MP Ahmed Tibi as a second Arab-Israeli footballer smashed the ball into the back of the net, saving Israel's World Cup prospects for a second time in less than a week. Aping the slogan beloved of Jewish extremists, "No Arabs, no terror attacks," midfielders Abbas Suan and Walid Badier are heroes in Israel's heavily discriminated Arab community after their prowess kept football burning bright.

Suan and Badier scored match-tying goals in back-to-back qualifier matches against Ireland and France in Tel Aviv on Saturday and Wednesday, keeping Israeli hopes alive for the 2006 German World Cup.

Overjoyed with Badier's feats in Wednesday night's crucial match against France, Tibi telephoned a journalist from Israel's right-wing Maariv newspaper.

The paper thought Tibi's slogan pertinent enough to reprint as its headline.


I've added a new blog to the roll, Erik Loomis' Alterdestiny. I met Erik the other night at poker, he won the second of two games. I still haven't decided whether he was, as he claimed, a novice who learns quickly or a hustler who played poorly the first game to put us at ease in order to take our money in the second game. In any case, well done Erik.

This continues a venerated tradition wherein I link to any blogger who has won money from me in poker. Good writing is also considered.