Blogs

Jerusalem Syndrome: An Ironic Hipster-Jew Went to Israel and all We Get Is Beautiful Writing

| Thu Jan. 17, 2008 1:58 PM EST

And a glimpse into the power of religion, if only religion as culture for a beleaguered minority.

My good friend David Plotz at Slate (who's almost good enough for his amazing-babe wife) spent a year blogging the Bible there in a feat which filled me with writer's penis envy. Whatever you think of the Bible, or any religious text, in the hands of a writer like David, it was can't miss reading. It was so good, in fact, he's now writing a book about it; in furtherance of that, he's in Israel now visiting the Bible's sites and, bien sur, blogging about it. Homey (Chomey?) appears to be in the midst of a full blown epiphany slash religious experience. He almost made me cry today and, like Bill Maher (scroll to third video), I'm pretty religion proof.

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Bursting Bubbles in Casino-Land

| Thu Jan. 17, 2008 1:42 PM EST

It's a gorgeous sunny day in Reno. From my 12th floor hotel room I'm looking out the window at the Circus Circus dome below, the city spread out behind it, and beyond the houses the mountains gently dusted with snow. Above the mountains the sky is patterned with the exhaust lines of jet planes. It's the sort of day that gives the high desert a good name.

You wouldn't know it wondering the antiseptic corridors of the large casinos, dodging in between the armies of slot machines and their robotic human players, listening in on conversations in the cavernous buffets, but there's a lot of politics going on in the state over the next few days.

Huckabee: "We Would Fry Squirrels in a Popcorn Popper"

| Thu Jan. 17, 2008 12:59 PM EST

Huckabee on MSNBC:

"South Carolina's a great place for me. I mean, I know how to eat grits and speak the language. We even know how to talk about eating fried squirrel and stuff like that, so we're on the same wavelength."
"Mika, I bet you never did this," Huckabee went on, addressing Mika Brzezinski. "When I was in college, we used to take a popcorn popper, because that was the only thing they would let us use in the dorm, and we would fry squirrels in a popcorn popper in the dorm room."

My sure the Democrats are praying for this man to become the GOP nominee...

Update: This shouldn't come as a surprise.

In Nevada All Bets Are Off

| Thu Jan. 17, 2008 12:38 PM EST

It's cold as hell here in Reno, Nevada, the snowy Sierras just to the West, the neon lights of the city crisp against the winter night air.

A nice place for the caucus-circus to park itself.

If you've read most of the big newspapers over the past couple months, you could be forgiven for not realizing that Nevada has a caucus on January 19th. The New York Times has routinely referred to the contests in Iowa, followed by New Hampshire, followed by South Carolina. In fact, for a year now Nevadans have been preparing for their own caucus, to be held on the same day as the South Carolina primary. And, for my money, at least for the Democrats it's the western contest that's by far the most interesting.

Why?

Leahy Endorses Obama, Saying Clinton's Not the Best Dem To "Reintroduce" America

| Thu Jan. 17, 2008 12:21 PM EST

PatrickLeahy.jpg The email came in: Barack Obama Campaign about to Announce a Major Endorsement. Who could that be? Al Gore? The campaign was holding a conference call in minutes to break the news. I quickly called in. And the big catch turned out to be....Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont.

This certainly won't turn the race. But one standard line for Senator Hillary Clinton has been that she has outdrawn Obama in senatorial endorsements. She had bagged ten; he had six. Now Obama has cut her lead by 25 percent. She better watch out!

In the conference call, Leahy gave one reason for picking Obama over Clinton and former Senator John Edwards:

I believe many around the world have lost respect for America....I think we can restore that respect. But we need a president who can reintroduce America to the world.

I asked the obvious question: why did Leahy think that Obama could better reintroduce America than Clinton?

Please Tase Them, Bro! What's With Heckling Bill Maher?

| Thu Jan. 17, 2008 10:19 AM EST

Not only do I not watch TV anymore (or, so far), I haven't had premium cable for years. So I missed that some morons out there are, for some reason, heckling Maher about Kucinich or 9/11 or how crappy the reception from Mars is since their aluminum foil hats got dinged. Check out this HuffPo link to his recent appearance on Leno. The piece has lots of other great links to Maher-hating, too. Definitely check the one where he personally leaves the stage to help security give these orifices the bum's rush. Their mamas didn't raise them right and certainly didn't raise them to be intelligent cuz Maher's the wrong hombre to f with, intellectually or physically. I love his line to security: "Don't be gentle with them. Ass-kicking is what's called for."

There's a time and a place for everything, protest included, and a talk show audience is neither.

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Slow Your Roll, Bubba: Just How Stupid Does Bill Clinton Think We Are?

| Wed Jan. 16, 2008 10:33 PM EST

The Clintons have been so dogged from the moment they hit the campaign trail (his, I mean), that I've tried to avoid piling on. Who else needs to be on the attack against them? Besides, even an Aunt Jemima like me gets tired of making even more black people hate her. But the time has come to point out that Bubba, beloved of Negroes everywhere, is campaigning for his wife (which is fine) like a newspeak-wielding goon (which is not). The following doesn't even make sense:

New (-ish) Music: Studio - Yearbook 1

| Wed Jan. 16, 2008 7:12 PM EST

mojo-photo-studioyearbook.jpgA lot of music requires the listener to be patient, give it time, let it sink in, listen to the whole album beginning to end before judging. On Swedish duo Studio's Yearbook 1, it's possible to pinpoint the actual moment you have to wait for: exactly 1 minute and 39 seconds into track 1, "No Comply," the awkward piano chords and strained vocals give way to a chiming guitar arpeggio, and the effect is like rounding a bend to see a vertigo-inducing vista. That sense of unexpected majesty never goes away on this collection of the band's vinyl releases.

White House 'Recycled' Backups of its Email Records

| Wed Jan. 16, 2008 5:10 PM EST

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Late last night the White House submitted a curious court filing (PDF) in the ongoing case over the 5 to 10 million emails, spanning 2003 to 2005, that have gone missing from its archives due to a "technical issue." Faced with a court order (PDF), the White House said that it has backup tapes of its email records—but only after October 2003, when it stopped recycling its backups. This means that there are apparently no backups of messages sent and received during the previous ten months of 2003—an important time period, covering the run up to the Iraq war, as well as the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson's covert identity. As if this story couldn't get more convoluted, the White House is also claiming it doesn't know whether any emails from that period are actually missing.

"They suggest that they don't even know if they have anomalies, but there's plenty of public record evidence that they do [know]," says Anne Weismann, chief counsel for the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which, along with the National Security Archives (NSA), is suing the administration to ensure the preservation of presidential records. "This is an extremely carefully worded declaration that when you parse it through doesn't really say a whole lot," Weismann said.

What Was Jeff Gerth Thinking?

| Wed Jan. 16, 2008 4:33 PM EST

The new right-wing movie about Hillary Clinton ("Hillary: The Movie") is generally populated with all the usual suspects: Dick Morris, Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich and other conservative commentators, along with a couple of convicted felons, none of whom have anything nice to say about the senator. One headliner, though, is not like the others: Former New York Times reporter Jeff Gerth. The Pulitzer-Prizing wining Gerth is not a pundit, and in his 30-year-career at the Times, he says he never even did so much as a radio interview about his work. But there he is, on the big screen with Ann Coulter in a film created by a conservative group known for playing dirty.

Gerth's comments are mostly limited to material from his new book on Hillary, such as observations about her attempts to redefine herself. But it's clear that the filmmakers are psyched to have someone from the mainstream media participating in the project to offset its heavy reliance on felons as sources. They've even used Gerth's interview in an ad for the film, which is now at the center of a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission. All in all, it does beg the question: What was Gerth thinking?