April 25 in DC

by Eszter Hargittai on April 6, 2004

Brought to you by right-wing eye.

The unbearable liteness of David Brooks

by Ted on April 6, 2004

Sasha Issenberg recently wrote an article in which he tried to fact-check an old article by David Brooks. Brooks wrote an article with a number of verifiable claims about Republican vs. Democratic areas, and specifically about his visit to Pennsylvania’s Franklin County. Issenberg found a number of factual errors; when confronted with them, Brooks explained that he was often joking, and that the main thrust of the piece (lower-middle-class communities are different from upper-middle-class communities) was accurate.

David Brooks wrote a piece in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine called “Our Sprawling, Supersize Utopias” that won’t be so easily tripped up. It isn’t because he’s done the extensive research and hard work to back up his arguments. Rather, it’s because the article is so breezy and rootless, any fact checker who was assigned to this piece would be finished by noon.

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Dylan poll results

by Chris Bertram on April 6, 2004

Norm has published “the results of his Dylan songs poll”:http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2004/04/bob_dylans_best.html . A very good list it is too. I’m struck by the fact that the majority of the top 21 come from just three (consecutive) albums: Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 and Blonde on Blonde. There’s also only one post-1976 song on the list. This is as it should be IMHO.

iPod envy

by Maria on April 6, 2004

What amazes me is that it is taking the IT hardware industry – with the notable exception of Apple of course- literally decades to cotton on to the facts that 1)a simple and effective user interface is a selling point and 2)people like gear that looks good.

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The Sistani option

by John Quiggin on April 6, 2004

I’m going to try hard from now on to avoid debating whether the war with Iraq was a mistake, and to focus on the question of what should be done from here onwards.

I’ve argued for some months that the most plausible option for a stable allocation of power in Iraq is a de facto two-state solution in which the Kurds get effective autonomy and a share of the oil and the rest of Iraq gets a government which will be dominated by the Shiites. With luck, they won’t try and settle too many scores and will recognise the need to keep much of the Sunni professional elite on side. The government would be Islamist, but not a direct theocracy like Iran.

The key to all this, almost certainly, is Ayatollah Sistani. He’s not the person I’d want running my country (or more precisely acting as the eminence grise for its day-to-day rulers), but he seems like the only plausible choice who wouldn’t be an absolute disaster.

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The Unpunkables

by Ted on April 6, 2004

A few weeks ago, I was angry at National Review for publishing anonymous, unverifiable smears of prominent Democrats. In response, I ran a contest to “Punk the National Review“.

The deadline has passed, and to the best of my knowledge, National Review has not printed any more anonymous smear emails. That’s exactly what I was hoping for. I’m not a great admirer of National Review – I’ve got a post on this subject on the back burner – but I’m glad about how it worked out.

I was prepared to give out to $50 in prize money, if anyone had succeeded. Instead, I’ll be giving $50 in Jonah Goldberg’s name to Habitat for Humanity. If you’re reading, folks, congratulations and thank you.

In Handbasket: Iraq; Apparent Destination: Hell

by Belle Waring on April 6, 2004

Can it really be the case that there are enough US troops in Iraq if wounded marines have to rely on those Blackwater…er…private operatives for rescue?

With their ammunition nearly gone, a wounded and badly bleeding Marine on the rooftop, and no reinforcement by the U.S. military in the immediate offing, the company sent in helicopters to drop ammunition and pick up the Marine.

This is really bad. No wounded Marine should ever be ducking under a hail of bullets with anything but supreme confidence in his heart that a bunch of other Marines are about to come save his butt, any second now. These soldiers-for-hire sound very competent, as they should be, since they are all former Navy S.E.A.L.s or whatever, but having to rely on them to rescue wounded troops is proof that things are going very, very badly wrong. Go read Juan Cole for more informative and terrible news (N.B. this post, “Incompetence or Double-Dealing in Colaition Management of Iraq?”) You can color this actual supporter of the invasion of Iraq (not the popular CT contributor position) depressed. Please, don’t say you told me so. I know you told me so. I have to talk to my mom every week and she is pushing the “I told you so” line with much more emotional oomph than any of you guys can muster, trust me on this.

Next year in Yisroel

by Ted on April 6, 2004

In honor of Passover, I’m pleased to pass on an essay from Michael Chabon, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Wonder Boys and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. It’s a sad meditation on an absurd book, the phrase book Say It In Yiddish, for visitors to a country that never existed.

I dream of two possible destinations. The first might be a modern independent state very closely analogous to the State of Israel–call it the State of Yisroel–a postwar Jewish homeland created during a time of moral emergency, located presumably, but not necessarily, in Palestine; it could be in Alaska, or on Madagascar. Here, perhaps, that minority faction of the Zionist movement who favored the establishment of Yiddish as the national language of the Jews were able to prevail over their more numerous Hebraist opponents. There is Yiddish on the money, of which the basic unit is the herzl, or the dollar, or even the zloty. There are Yiddish color commentators for soccer games, Yiddish-speaking cash machines, Yiddish tags on the collars of dogs. Public debate, private discourse, joking and lamentation, all are conducted not in a new-old, partly artificial language like Hebrew, a prefabricated skyscraper still under construction, with only the lowermost of its stories as yet inhabited by the generations, but in a tumbledown old palace capable in the smallest of its stones (the word nu) of expressing slyness, tenderness, derision, romance, disputation, hopefulness, skepticism, sorrow, a lascivious impulse, or the confirmation of one’s worst fears.