Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Cry Me A River, Sweetheart

Oh dear, coop sales may be treated the same as any other property.

"Privacy is important to many people; they don't want their business known, and I think that's true the more high-profile or the greater someone's wealth," Mr. Willkie said. "And therefore people feel comfortable when they have some layer of protection. Now the whole world, when this goes through, will know."


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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Gay Pride

In honor of Gay Pride weekend, I thought I would post the following set of musings from my friend/coblogger Joancrawfordsface, an avowed (if ambivalent) pederast.

First, a short essay he wrote upon his arrival in Australia:


In the toilets of the new south wales state library some graffiti on the door admonished me to 'castrate all faggots'. sitting there procuring a shit, i turned the idea around in my head. hmmm. castrate them? why? for fear that they might overbreed a super media-literate race, with a highly evolved aesthetic toward fashion and interior decor?

shit out, and arse wiped i thought i might write a little essay beneath the graffiti - an instructive plan as to how one might eradicate faggotry, beginning where it all does: with the mother. at it like rabbits, they very well might be - but unlike the bunnies - their litters are duds. because faggots don't beget faggots - we are the offspring of dominant women. so really perhaps the graffitti should be asking to castrate the tough biatches. well in as much as we are able to. in africa they would sew up their vaginas, i believe.

but my biro wouldn't mark the wood. it couldn't cum in the bogs, you might say. and even if it could, the puny spidery scrawl it would make on the door, under the bold dominant letters of black marker would render it redundant. so i just scrawled an ironic swasika over it, and went to the sinks to wash my hands.

That final gesture really made me laugh, and I thought of it as I sat on a bog in Williamsburg yesterday, reading ironic hipster graffiti.

Anyhow, as an inspirational companion piece, a funny poem JCF wrote upon his return to Blighty:

i asked god if it was alright to be jealous
and she said yes.
and to have silvery rings round my eyes?

can i lie like litter in my bed, in the middle of the day
with the blinds drawn black,
making cigarette cemeteries of the cups and the bowls,
pissing pepsi back into bottles?

she said babbie - she calls me that sometimes -
you can do what you want.
thanks god, i said.

but is it okay to be so very very proud?
and so bitter - sometimes bitter - that my tongue
tastes like fishguts.
sweetness, god said, what i'm telling you is
yes yes yes.

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Speaking of Prada Castoffs

I'm going to see The Devil Wears Prada tonight. I saw a disappointing French art movie on Sunday (Garcon Stupide, which was very overpraised, humorless, and aptly titled), so I deserve a bit of fluff.

In an interview in the December V Magazine, Anne Hathaway had the following exchange with the (brilliant, handsome) V scribe:

Q: Are you worried you’ll never be in Vogue?

AH: I think people are sensationalizing the Vogue aspect of the story. I don’t know if it was actually based on Anna Wintour, and in a way I don’t want to know. But c’mon, this is Meryl Streep. She is creating a character from scratch. For me, this movie is about the meeting of two schools of feminism. My character rests on the shoulders of the work Meryl’s character has done. Her generation was blazing pathways, whereas for my generation, men are not as threatened by powerful women.

Hm. For me, this movie is about Patricia Field's costume design.

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service interruption

Sorry for being incommunicado this weekend. The usurious scoundrels at my ISP cut off service because of failure to pay the bills. Access to the internet is a right, not a privilege. I believe Eleanor Roosevelt said that once. Anyhow, back online now.

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Pickle Envy

Not me, but one part of it could be
This is a bit hilarious, and I enjoyed my friend/co-blogger Joancrawfordsface's commentary:

oh god - that maury povich is a beast. i used to sit in bed watching his smooth malteser head as it opened and closed, saying absolutely nothing at all. and his rheumy eyes, sparkling with mock-compassion at the girl he's brought on who looks 276 years older than her true five years. yes, blink those soulful eyes, maury - we'll all think of bambi.

hilariously - he would usually solve problems by donating castoffs from his own smooth wardrobe - which just proved his philanthropy. this worked fine (but was still sickening) when his show was about poor loafers who couldn't get work, because they didn't have enough money to present themselves well to employers. here, he would say: have one of my old versace's. next item, please. little thumberlina woman, 35 years old, 12 inches tall. give her an old suit, g'wan. next. 9 year old girl pregnant with her dad's third child? wait - stop - don't take that bag to the charity shop - there's an old suit in it, she can swaddle her bairns in it.

i have very little doubt in my head that the pickle-fearing woman on this show was given one of his old suits too. she could cover her eyes with the jacket whilst moving down the condiment aisle to buy ketchup.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Kos Drum Major Institute Benefit Tonight

As you can see from the blinking button on the upper right hand corner of the blog, I'm going to the Kos DMI Benefit tonight.

It looks pretty cool, and I'll blog about what goes down.

I'm still going to go to the Brooklyn Bloggers thing, but I might be a little late, since this ends just as that starts.

So many opportunities for Anya Kamenetz to kick my ass tonight...

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DMI's Response to My Critique of Its Scorecard

The good people at DMI just responded to my critique of their middle class scorecard.

He's absolutely right -- our scorecard is not a poll of what people in a particular income segment believe in terms of public policy. Instead, we're interested in discussing legislation that would support and expand the American middle class (or, as is far more common this year, bills that would undercut and shrink it). The aim is both to inform readers about how Congress voted and to educate them about the issues. And nowhere is the distinction between the existing state of public opinion and the reality of policies that would benefit the middle class and aspiring middle class more evident than the case of immigration.

They make some great points, and as soon as I finish some work I'm going to comment on it.

Mostly I'm just excited to be getting the word out about the proper use of "begging the question."

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STR8!!!!!!! Pt. 2

Ah, here's what I was talking about last week.

Laura Bush stormed out of the White House after a blow-up with the president over whether he was cheating with Condoleezza Rice. [...]

The infuriated first lady spent at least one night in the famed Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., after the bitter row, respected author and national security expert Wayne Madsen tells GLOBE. ... We reported in our Jan. 16 issue that in a recent therapy session, the 59 year-old president confessed he lusts after other women. And now, sources say he's been acting out those fantasies with Rice, 51.

Rumors of the affair have enraged Laura, who has been at odds with her husband for months over their deteriorating 28-year union.

Meanwhile a host of other problems are plaguing the Bush marriage, including reports that the president had been caught drinking whiskey again after quitting for 20 years, and strife between Laura and her meddling mother-in-law Barbara, say sources.

Typed by Bill in Portland Maine.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

In which I fail to follow my own advice

I can't count the number of times I've advised Solomon not to get in arguments with conservatives online. (Okay, I could count, but that would mean combing through the archives. I think it's about three or four.) Well, today I followed a trackback link to this page and engaged in a bit of debate with its author. We were mainly pleasant to each other, but I think I'll waste that now. It was dumb of me to begin with.

Here's the crux of it: mkfreeberg seems to think there's something controversial in saying that we've made enormous progress in racial equality since the 1960s, yet racial tensions remain. He writes about it here at length. Now, I grant him that in some ways it's a platitude. But it is nevertheless true on its face. Races are more equal now than they were fifty years ago. Yet all is not healed and perfect. Instead, mkfreeberg says:

I'll believe racial division is healed when whites let blacks represent them, and vice-versa. It does not appear to me that those who direct the course of these movements, even have a plan for such a thing, let alone can point to any progress toward it.

False choice in the first sentence: either we heal all racial divisions or we haven't made any progress. The implication is that we must ignore all messy, real-world problems that don't have neat solutions.

As to the second sentence, I don't know how to communicate with someone who argues that racial divisions in this country have not lessened since the 1960s. Not any progress? What?

PS: After I turned off the computer last night I finally identified why this argument bothers me quite so much. Its natural conclusion is for government at all levels to stop trying doing anything to address any inequalities (since they are simultaneously unimportant and intractible). Based on what I can confirm cursorily, mkfreeberg is definitely male, not Jewish or black. I'm about 95% sure he's a white guy (I'm pretty sure only a white person would so blithely identify race as a problem for other people to fix). In other words, while it's very sad, all the unfairness and ugliness and all, we can't ever make any progress toward fixing it, we just have to leave things as they are--which only happens to leave him on top.

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Follow the trials of bright Bridget Blodgett!

This book is a cross between Dr. Seuss and Ayn’s Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand would be proud of the message and Dr. Seuss would be proud of the beautiful illustrations and rhyming verse in this lively tale of free-markets versus excessive government regulation.

Hardcover, 27 beautifully illustrated pages! Follow the trials of bright Bridget Blodgett as she struggles to produce her widgets and wodgets in the face of increasing taxation! Find out what happens when the islanders and their businesses can no longer support the bureaucracy that has somehow grown from the best of intentions! This beautifully illustrated hard-bound book extols the virtues of free markets, and shows what can go wrong when government bureaucracy gets out of control! For free market advocates of all ages!

Oh. Dear. God. Good thing I have no young relatives. I'd be busy ordering all of them a certain highly gay gift right about now.

(Click photo and enlarge to see a sample of the "beautiful illustrations and rhyming verse." Poor Teddy Geisel. He didn't deserve to be dragged into this.)

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I could tell you stories, boy...

Maybe because I just spent the last six months on a real estate Odyssey, I truly sympathized with the guy.

Except: How much does someone working in marketing for AmEx make, anyway? He has a doctorate in chemical engineering, after all, not an MBA. Even if he spent 50% of his income on $2,000 a month rent, he'd have to be pulling down around $65,000 before taxes. That doesn't sound right, not one year into a career with no credentials.

Mystifying. But who hasn't fallen to this siren song, at least once?

"You see all these bad apartments and you get scared," he said. "Then you see a nice apartment coming up for an earlier date, and you have the option of moving out early, and there is another person with you who has every intention of swaying your mind. They are very good salesmen and have a good pitch. The pitch I got was: This is the prime season for moving, and if you wait the good apartments are gone and you get the leftovers."

Since I spent six months on it, I can tell you that real estate agents always claim it's the prime season for moving, no matter what. February, June, whatever. I ended up doing exactly what this poor schmuck did and paying too much for an apartment I didn't want, because I'd spent four and a half months at that point and just couldn't stand it anymore.

Just venting. And in case you were worried about me, I'm moving again in 10 days, to a beautiful, big place for ridiculously low rent.

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Brooklyn Blogfest This Thursday

Recently Slope-patriated Klaus Kinloch alerted us to Brooklyn Blogfest on Thursday, which is conveniently near the Spider Man shoot.

I don't know any of the blogs involved other than Develop Don't Destroy and No Land Grab (who kindly link to us from time to time), but I think it sounds fun, so I will be representing Left Behinds, and you are all invited to join if you're in the area.

Hm, I hope Anya Kamenetz doesn't show up to kick my ass.

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Barack Obama to the Middle Class: Drop Dead

The Drum Major Institute has a cool new report analyzing whether members of Congress have voted for or against the middle class. The problem is that they seem to do a bit of question-begging by defining the issues so that their conclusions are foregone.

For example, in the section "Legislation: Bill Descriptions" (the site uses frames so that you can't link to specific sections of the report), under the BORDER PROTECTION, ANTITERRORISM, AND ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION CONTROL ACT subsection, they assert "The middle-class position: The Middle Class Opposes."

Well, no they don't. The middle class should oppose the House's anti-immigration legislation, but they largely support it. It's arguable that the legislation is against middle class economic interests, but to claim that it's the middle class position and then to claim that the Republicans thereby vote against the will of the middle class is disingenuous and question-begging. Republicans arguably vote against the interests of the middle class, but not the will. In fact, they pander to the will.

To be fair, in the intro, the DMI explicitly writes that the authors "assign a grade to each member of Congress based on his or her support for the middle class." Which pretty much means that the DMI is not evaluating whether the middle class supports the legislation, but whether the legislation supports the middle class. However, the language in the bill descriptions suggests my first interpretation.

What's interesting about the document is that it sneaks in normative judgements on how the middle class should vote. Well, perhaps sneak is extreme. In the executive summary they write that one of their goals is to "point those concerned about the American middle class in the right direction on key pieces of legislation." But the body of the report is written as if the middle class supports legislation that is in their economic interests, when in fact they usually do not.

But I quibble. Basically, I like the report, and it's interesting that Hillary scores an A, while Barack Obama scores a C. She knows who her people are.

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Dive into that shot!

I mean, if you must go to Manhattan...

Update: This is so fucking embarrassing. Not only are the streets in question in Brooklyn, they're in My Brother's Goddamn Neighborhood. If I'd glanced at the handbill for longer than 15 seconds I might have noticed that. What happened instead was I saw the thing, remembered the Joe's Pizza scene in Spider Man 1, registered that these were named streets (but not the names themselves), and assumed that the shooting would be in the Village.

Mega Duh.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Frank Gehry to Brooklyn: Drop Dead

Brooklyn-raised-and-residing novelist Jonathan Lethem (whose books I've never read, but which sound cool now that I look at the descriptions) wants us all to know that he is absolutely appalled by the designs for the Atlantic Yards project proposed by celebrity architect Frank Gehry (né Ephraim Goldberg).

Whereas we at Left Behinds have mostly discussed the problems with the Yards boondoggle from an economic and public policy perspective, Lethem is just aesthetically repulsed by the design. "And so," he writes in a public letter to Gehry, "I'd like to address you as one artist to another." Something about this tone struck me as amusingly snobby (in a way only a Brooklynite could get away with), but his points are clear and well articulated.

Most people, if they've heard of this proposal at all, believe you've been hired to design a sports arena, to house the New Jersey Nets, a team owned by Mr. Ratner. Anyone who's glimpsed the drawings and models, however, knows that other, larger plans have overtaken the notion of a mere arena. The proposal currently on the table is a gang of 16 towers that would be the biggest project ever built by a single developer in the history of New York City. In fact, the proposed arena, like the surrounding neighborhoods, stands to be utterly dwarfed by these ponderous skyscrapers and superblocks. It's a nightmare for Brooklyn, one that, if built, would cause irreparable damage to the quality of our lives and, I'd think, to your legacy. Your reputation, in this case, is the Trojan horse in a war to bring a commercially ambitious, but aesthetically—and socially—disastrous new development to Brooklyn. Your presence is intended to appease cultural tastemakers who might otherwise, correctly, recognize this atrocious plan for what it is, just as the notion of a basketball arena itself is a Trojan horse for the real plan: building a skyline suitable to some Sunbelt boomtown.

The key word there is "tastemakers," as in people like Lethem and Gehry and their friends and fans. You know, people with taste. "Frank," he seems to be admonishing, "you can't possibly want to go out looking like that. For God's sake, New Yorkers don't wear scrunchies. Put something decent on."

So will these "ponderous skyscrapers and superblocks" be as aesthetically offensive as Lethem claims?

Well, they ain't pretty.

As this architect blogger showed in his excellent critique of the design,

Brooklyn's Fifth Avenue Before

Brooklyn's Fifth Avenue After
It's like some giant grey Transformer clomped its foot down on Park Slope. And imagine when in a few years all those pristine white beams get coated in soot from the neverending traffic jams that are projected as a direct result of this development (have you ever tried to drive through Flatbush or Atlantic during rush hour or on a weekend?). It'll be a Transformer's giant grey dirty foot.

Jonathan, you've convinced me: It's not just tastemakers who should be appalled by Gehry's designs.

UPDATE: More frightening images, from On NY Turf (click there for full size, and more before and after pics):

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Watching Petrocrats Gloat

Even better than Mark Green's sour face on the Sunday morning political shows was the troika of petrocrats on Meet the Press. Tim Russert lobbed softball questions at the presidents/CEOs of Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Shell. On that video link, the interview starts 24 minutes in. You can recognize them as the three smug, pallid little pigs in designer suits.

Interestingly, John Hofmeister, from Shell, hadn't been sufficiently prepped by his media relations people, and he came off as a gloating Dr. Evil who was much more candid than he should have been. He seemed to only have experience interacting with lobbyists, politicians, and other people he controls.

Take his attempt at spinning consumer disgust at gas prices:
I wish people could come inside the company and see how employees are reacting to the high prices, as well. They're energized to go after more supply. The real issue is that demand has outstripped supply, and as a consequence of that we're putting more capital into the business than we have in our history. We have more projects going on in this country and around the world than we have had in many, many years. Our employees are really getting excited about what they can do.
So Shell employees arrive at work with big grins on their faces when gas prices break $3 a gallon? That makes me feel so much better about price gouging.

He was also the doofus who revealed Big Oil's hand by admitting that "energy independence is going too far." That admission hasn't been too popular on the news shows or the blogs. Every time Russert mentioned an oil executive salary or gas price, Hofmeister started smirking. He was really the cartoon version of a greedy oil executive.

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An Inconvenient Truth: Gore doesn't even say the word "nuclear"

I saw An Inconvenient Truth on Sunday. It's great, and you should see it if you haven't already. Gore engagingly (yes, engagingly) surveys the latest research on climate change, research that has made a lot of progress since the last time I studied it, about ten years ago. I think the biggest impact of the film (I hope, at least) is that journalists will realize that they no longer have to "balance" their coverage by citing the fringe pseudo-scientists who question the overwhelming scientific consensus. Gore very effectively demonstrates that there is absolutely no credible difference of opinion about the facts of global warming.

Anyhow, what I was really struck by was the fact that Gore didn't once mention nuclear power. Since it's largely how so many European and other nations have reduced their carbon emissions, it seems odd and conspicuous that he ignored it.

Perhaps he thought a discussion about nuclear power would be too complicated (he has, after all, given this lecture hundreds or thousands of times over the years), but it seems like a lost opportunity. He had an audience of engaged people who might still think of nuclear technology from the 80s as the standard, who hear "nuclear power" and think either "Chernobyl" or "Homer Simpson." He had an opportunity to change the debate about nuclear power, and he skipped it. I wonder why.


Environmental journalist David Roberts explains why in the comments below: nuclear power is just a bad idea. For one thing, it could only be used on a small scale, for various reasons elaborated in this excellent article (basically, we would quickly run out of uranium and the alternatives to uranium just wouldn't work on a large scale).

Apparently, as Gore himself explained in this interview with Roberts in May, "There are serious problems [with nuclear power] that have to be solved, and they are not limited to the long-term waste-storage issue and the vulnerability-to-terrorist-attack issue. Let's assume for the sake of argument that both of those problems can be solved. We still have other issues. For eight years in the White House, every weapons-proliferation problem we dealt with was connected to a civilian reactor program. And if we ever got to the point where we wanted to use nuclear reactors to back out a lot of coal -- which is the real issue: coal -- then we'd have to put them in so many places we'd run that proliferation risk right off the reasonability scale."

So now my only gripe with Gore's omission of the word nuclear is that if I was under the impression that nuclear power is a viable solution to global warming, then a lot of other well-intentioned people probably are, too, so it would have been worth debunking that myth while he had our attention.

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Why do atheists always have names like Lucifer Taylor?

It's so embarrassing.

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Mark Green on Kirtzman & Kramer

Mark Green was great just now on the NYC news show Kirtzman & Kramer. Andrew Kirtzman (who is an idiot, but unabashedly so, which is sort of refreshing) kept repeating what he must have thought was the zinger that Green has no prosecutorial experience. In response, Green kept patiently explaining that in fact all of his career has been prosecutorial, but in civil rather than criminal cases, and that 80% of the Attorney General's cases are civil rather than criminal. Unlike KT McFarland, who humiliated herself last week with her response to Kirtzman's similarly aggressive but stupid questions, Green came off like an old pro. Almost dignified, even.

This is the position Mark Green is actually perfectly qualified for, the position his entire career has led up to. And if he hadn't destroyed his reputation with his 2001 mayoral campaign he'd likely be the frontrunner. As it is, though, his candidacy is a joke. It's too bad, because MG was a fantastic public advocate, and he'd probably make a better Attorney General than Andrew Cuomo.

My favorite moment of the interview was watching Green's sour-faced reaction to a Cuomo clip in which Cuomo was beaming at some event with some fat bald guy behind him. The fat bald guy was Stu Loeser, currently Bloomberg's Press Secretary, who was also (as I'm sure the show's producers realized) one of Mark Green's top aides in his 2001 campaign.

Et tu, Brute?

Tags: new york, andrew cuomo, mark green, attorney general, mike bloomberg

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Not for heckling

I'm not in NYC at the moment, but Solomon, you might be interested.

Saturday, June 17th * 8PM

The Writer’s Voice Visiting Author Series Presents:

Glenn Greenwald, How Would a Patriot Act?

Reading/Discussion/Q & A

West Side YMCA– The George Washington Lounge

5 West 63rd Street (between Central Park West & Broadway)

~Admission Free and Open to the Public~

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Explanation in comments below for how I stumbled on this. For here, just teh funny.

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Vincent Gallo hooked up with a famous closeted writer

Who was it? I can't tell from the following (old, I admit, but I just noticed it) blind item from HX Magazine:

You hustled? I did do sexual things for money. With men, I’ve never performed or had fellatio performed, but I did do jerk-off things. I would go in a peep booth and watch straight porn and get paid 5 or 10 dollars to have somebody watch me masturbate.

Anyone famous? Yes! Yes! Very famous, yes! Let’s say a famous writer who doesn’t have what seems to be an Italian last name but he’s an Italian-American.

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Good Neighbors: Beinart Pt. II

Following up on this wildly popular post, I bring readers' attention to this TPM Cafe discussion of Katrina vanden Heuvel's reaction to Peter Beinart's call for anti-jihadist liberalism.

In response to Beinart's beltway crusaderism, Katrina calls for a principled retrenchment of American foreign policy: "Of course, liberals need an effective national security strategy. But can we stop with all the hurrahs about Harry Truman and his liberal national security achievements? What we need to do is reclaim another liberal, internationalist and eminently (as well as ethically) 'realist' foreign policy tradition. It is the 'Good Neighbor' policy crafted and championed by Franklin Roosevelt." Further, she argues that it is deeply misleading to equate Soviet totalitarianism and "jihadism" or, in the conservatives' favorite turn of the phrase, "Islamofascism" (whatever either of those terms means -- haven't any of these critics noticed that they're using a vague, ambiguous, emotionally-laden term right in the center of their arguments?).

Like Tomasky, the TPMC blogger claims that Beinart and Katrina misrepresent Truman, who did not advocate preventive wars, but rather was a multilateralist who emphasized building international institutions. Basically, he argues that Truman should be Katrina's, not Beinart's patron saint:

Truman-era liberal foreign policy is a story about liberal order building. In my book After Victory and elsewhere, I argue that what is special about Truman-era foreign policy is the way it fused power to institutions and liberal purpose. The restraint on American power and the projection of American power went hand-in-hand. Truman and his colleagues blended liberalism and realism in a creative and distinctively American way that led the United States, at zenith of its power, to imagine and build a new type of international order that still stands today as the most stable and successful the world has yet seen.

I don't know enough about Truman to weigh in, except to say that I like the mulilateralist Truman a lot more than Beinart's Truman.

Tags: news and politics, history, truman, beinart, iraq

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Condi: Straight-But-Sensitive. Bushie: Bi-When-Drunk.

Condi may pretend to love the dick, but she just pulled a classic closet-case move when she ducked a question about gay marriage but asked conservatives to remain sensitive.

"When we get into difficult debates about social policy, we get into difficult debates that touch people's lives, the only thing that I ask is that Americans do it with a kind of sensitivity that real individuals and real human beings are involved here."

Sensitive like your clitoris during a Jodie Foster movie, Condi?

Condi assumes the position

My favorite semi-substantiated rumor, though, is that back in the go-go 80s, Bushie was a bi-when-drunk:

In 1984, I watched [Bush] perform (with the enthusiasm of a homosexual male who had done this many times before) a homosexual act on another man, namely Victor Ashe. Victor Ashe is the current Ambassador to the nation of Poland who should also come out like former Governor McGreevey of New Jersey and admit to being a gay American. Other homo-erotic acts were also performed by then private citizen George Bush because I performed one of them on him personally. [note: is she really publicly claiming she fucked Bushie with a dildo??? and the famously litigious Bush dynasty hasn't responded?]

I am the woman this website speaks of that has been posted on the net nearly two years now. None of this would be the business of anyone, but President Bush’s little ruse to save his failed presidency by using DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act] to divide Americans one from the other has to be exposed as the act of a desperate closeted homosexual man. The only crime in being GLBT is in the hiding. The President needs to come clean with the American people about his own past sexual behavior before he tries to besmirch the humanity of people in search of sincerely committing to the same bonds of matrimony he’s afforded. He violated his own vows of monogamy having a homosexual affair with a long time family friend of whom his wife had no knowledge. His hypocrisy seems to know no bounds.

and as this blogger wrote,

The current embassador to Poland, former mayor of Knoxville and friends of Bush from Yale, was known in gay circles in Knoxville as one of the "5 closeted gay men that control the city." All of them with ruinous marriages, suicidal children, et. al. I had always thought the Bush is gay rumor was all related to that as well.

So at the very least, Bushie has a very close friend from college who is a well known closet case. Who he liked to get drunk with.

If Condi's not drawing on her personal experience, maybe she's so gay-sensitive because the light of her life, fire of her loins is himself a bi American?

Tags: news and politics, gay, condoleezza rice, bush, mcgreevey

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Every so often, you have to praise even the most unlikely people for doing the right thing

It helps keep you credible, you know, like you think each issue through on its merits, you're no knee-jerk Bush-basher. So here is President Bush himself unquestionably doing the right thing. Sure, with absolutely no political risk and in the face of no opposition from anyone, but still. Good is good.

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Peter Beinart's new book about liberalism

Over in Slate (hat tip to Political Theory Daily Review), New Republic editor Peter Beinart gets into a fight with American Prospect editor Michael Tomasky about Beinart's new book.

The book is another entreaty to reform liberalism. In Beinart's words, it "argues that the Cold War liberal tradition—with its focus on legitimacy abroad and self-improvement at home—provides the principles necessary for winning the struggle against jihadism today."

In a review, Tomasky slammed Beinart for not sufficiently renouncing his support for the war in Iraq, because Beinart's refusal to acknowledge "plainly that the war in Iraq stands against the Cold War liberal tradition, rather than within it, damages, almost fatally, the credibility of the argument." Beinart claims that Tomasky completely misrepresents what he wrote about Iraq in his book and that in fact he made it clear that he regrets supporting the invasion (his brief gesture at an explanation is that he was duped by "worst-case logic" and "apocalyptic thinking," which doesn't sound very convincing to me -- I am pretty prone to pessimism and paranoia, but it didn't prevent me from seeing the folly of the warmongerers' logic).

I haven't read the book, but I've read a few reviews of it as well as this exchange, and my initial criticism is that Beinart does not seem to clearly define "jihadism." That term seems to encompass disparate and mutually exclusive phenomena. Frankly, it sounds like slightly dressed up Dubya-speak for "the forces of evil."

But in their exchange in Slate, there are some interesting passages. For example:

My "central thesis": that in the liberal tradition, unless America acknowledges that it can do harm in the world, it cannot do good ...

... For me, this idea has enormous implications. First, it inclines liberals to support powerful international institutions—as they did at the dawn of the Cold War—not only because America cannot manage international problems alone but because we do not want unrestrained power. Because liberals recognize that America is not immune to imperial temptation, we build in the restraints that distinguish us from the predatory powers of the past. Second, recognizing that American virtue must be proved, not asserted, leads liberals to talk differently than George W. Bush does about democracy. Bush talks about American democracy as a finish line we have crossed. We help other countries overcome tyranny, but our own work is done. Liberals, by contrast, should talk about democracy as a process—a means to overcome our capacity for injustice and become a better nation (a nation without places like Guantanamo Bay). It is American democracy as an ongoing struggle, not American democracy as a settled accomplishment, that inspired the world in the 1950s and 1960s, and can again today.

Peter Beinart, who was separated at birth from British pop tart Gareth Gates

They get into a bit of an argument over the historical implications of Harry Truman's foreign policy. As Tomasky writes, "The yoking of Cold War liberalism to liberal (and centrist) support for the Iraq war seems to me the prime example of the intellectual superficiality and deceit of the time we live in. As you know, many a neoconservative has bashed war opponents by invoking Truman. This is a grotesque lie about both, and it has had profound and contagious real-world consequences." Then Tomasky waxes inspirational:

We agree that the '48ers are a model for contemporary liberalism. I agree also, although as you note I questioned its political viability, that liberal intellectuals and Democratic politicians should argue that "American virtue must be proved, not asserted," as you nicely put it. But this means, or needs to mean, specific things. Take foreign aid. Again, you and I agree that our foreign aid budget is an embarrassment. It should be at least 15 times what it is. How do we get there—that is, how can a Democratic president (and no one else could do it) persuade 51 percent of Americans that such an increase is part of our responsibility and in fact will benefit us? On another matter: I do not oppose humanitarian intervention, of course, and I'll even go it one further and say something that may surprise you. I do not a priori rule out possible preventive war in the future, provided certain conditions are unambiguously met (the national-security imperative is real, the mission is not built on a mansion of lies, the American people are more or less honestly prepared for the price that may have to be paid, etc.). In other words, proving our virtue requires specific acts, which require money, which requires enormous reserves of political will.

Is that will there now in either Democratic leadership or the American people? It is not. And the fact that it isn't is not the fault of the "abject pacifists." It's the fault of the warriors. It's because of Iraq. The war in Iraq is why we "missed" Darfur, a moral error that your magazine (under new editorship) recently lamented. And the war in Iraq looms over our national future. I fear that it renders the grand visions for liberal internationalism that you and I share useless nullities, for a generation, maybe more. That is the tragedy of Iraq; that's why I dwelt, and dwell, on it.

Michael Tomasky, looking very French intellectual

There's a bit too much whining about whether or not Beinart actually called for a purge of liberal pacifists in 2002-2004 or whether he only kind of advocated for a purge. Silly, but there's also some good stuff. Besides, it's always a bit fun to watch intellectuals catfighting.

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I like Charlie Rangel

Not a real controversial thing to say, I know, but sometimes I forget. Two examples from this week.

First, he's one of the few in the Congressional Black Caucus trying to get them to stop supporting crooked William Jefferson.

Second, this interview about trying to get one or more of the black candidates to drop out of the NY-11 race so as to prevent Yassky from winning. I don't like the idea of encouraging anyone to vote based on race (and see Rock Hackshaw's interesting if very long post on how anti-white rhetoric may be a cover for the real ethnic division in the 11th between Caribbean-Americans and native-born blacks), but it's great fun to see Rangel shred Azi Paybarah's single, lame talking point.

Me: Is having more than one black candidate going to make it easier for David Yassky to win and is whittling down the choice of black candidates taking away the choice of black voters?

Rangel: Hehe. You don't mean that. Of course the more black candidates you have the easier it is for a non-black candidate to win. And all this stuff about giving voters the most choice, that's ridiculous. We don't have that anywhere in a primary, where you want to bring in more black candidates into a primary for purposes of choice. You know it and I know it.


Me: ...what about the idea of having fewer black candidates. Doesn't it do a disservice to the electorate -

Rangel: That's ridiculous. Jesus Christ. I've been doing a disservice for 36 God-damn years. I've been the only candidate.

Me: But have you encouraged other black candidates not to run to avoid this kind of situation?

Rangel: I damn sure haven't encouraged them to run against me so we would have more choice.

He's your crusty old grandpa. Certainly more winning than Nancy Pelosi. Democrats should get him in front of cameras a lot more than they do.

And I'm not really ripping on Paybarah. He got a good interview full of great quotes. That's his job.

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One of the all-time greats

Notes from the New York Underground

The subway doors open. A hobo enters, holding a bottle of windex in one hand and a tube of toothpaste in the other. He says: Which is the better time to read Dostyevsky? Winter?

He sprays the windex.

Hobo: Or Spring?

He squeezes toothpaste out of the tube.

Japanese girl: Spring!
Hobo: You are correct.

--F train

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My Favorite Political Theory Site

OK, I've been holding back since the inception of Left Behinds, but I think it's finally time to reveal my secret weapon. It's the source of most of my seemingly obscure and occasionally highbrow political links. Many months ago a friend of mine recommended it, and since then it has been on my daily bookmarks. But never revealed, because, like a teenager with a punk band he's just discovered, I wanted some time alone with the site, to feel like I was part of the secret community of cognoscenti.

But it's time. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:

Political Theory Daily Review

My favorite aspect of it is the way it separates the links into lowbrow, middlebrow, and highbrow (or, in its classification system, news room, town square, and ivory tower). It is great for those of us who are too lazy to regularly read academic journals but who fancy ourselves potentially interested in that sort of thing when, you know, it's good.

My main criticism is that the guy behind it is very interested in continental political philosophy (Habermas, etc.), so there are more links to those academic articles and book reviews than I'd prefer. But overall, it receives Solomon Grundy's Medal of Distinction in Recognition of Service to Bloggers and Quasi-Intellectuals the World Over. Which, of course, is one of the blogosphere's highest honors.

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Yassky Hecklin' Tonight

Tonight, our favorite Councilman will be speaking in the park adjoining Stuyvesant Town about the greening of New York. He's on a panel discussing the "role of the City Council in driving innovative green leadership. Energy, transportation, water quality, waste disposal, open space development and other pertinent quality of life subjects will provide the basis for the enving's discussion."

Yeah, I'm sure a war in Iran would be fabulous for the environment.


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If you're a government that doesn't believe government is the answer, you'll install administrators who live up to your beliefs.

Everybody is getting all worked up about a GAO report that FEMA "doled out as much as $1.4 billion in bogus assistance to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita." The anchors at both Fox and CNN have been blasting us all day with the story of "a man who used his FEMA debit card to pay for his sex change operation." There are other abuses chronicled in the GAO report, but it's the "man" who got the sex change operation who really repulses our fine cable newscasters and bloggers.

My first question is: why shouldn't she have used the FEMA funds for her gender reassignment surgery? As conservatives so relentlessly repeat, every individual is the best judge of his or her priorities, and this woman's priority was finally getting that operation. Assuming she was a Katrina survivor, good for her (if she wasn't, then she committed fraud, which is a separate problem). Were these debit cards earmarked solely for George Bush-approved expenditures? Did they only work at Wal-Mart and Ikea? That may have been what Congress had in mind, but the US contains multitudes.

The same argument applies for the guy who bought champers at Hooters with his debit card and the folks who decided to use the card to go to Hawaii. Good for them if that's what they decided would ease their psychological distress. Again, fraud is a separate issue from so-called misuse.

The libertarians have been out in full and predictable force. As Blue Crab writes, "When you throw money around like a drunken sailor, there will be someone around to pick that money up. this kind of result is almost certain in any Federally run program of any kind whatsoever." One Floridian even manages to blame it all on the "illegal aliens".

The conventional wisdom seems to be that credit cards will be used like credit cards, even if FEMA issues them and that "the government is wasting money all the time." Even a lefty blogger writes that "Throughout this great nation's history, whenever the government has given money away, the pimps, abusers, cut-throats, swindlers, cheats, and con artists have always been able to get a piece." Although at least he connects the giveaway to panic due to lack of FEMA preparedness.

However, all of these histrionics miss the point. As Radio Left observed, "Sure, they should be prosecuted. But so should the people who allowed FEMA to deteriorate to the point that it became completely inept and unable to respond to disasters.... And while Congress investigates 1,500 people who fleeced the government, no investigation into why thousands died is being conducted." Or as Salem's Lot very astutely noted, "if you don't believe government is the answer, you'll install administrators who live up to your beliefs." In other words, this is another aspect of the conservative "starve the beast" agenda: FEMA is a liberal hobbyhorse, so install some incompetent cronies, and if they make it look bad, well maybe we can finally dismantle the whole liberal disaster relief agency like we always wanted to.

Of course, the Bushies have their own variation of starve the beast, which entails force-feeding the rich people's beasties. But as far as FEMA is concerned, GWB is a good conservative.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Yassky on the Yards

I mentioned the other day that the surest way to get an instant response from your Councilman is to sign correspondence as a representative of some imaginary activist group. I will spare readers the vitriol of the letter I wrote a month or two ago on behalf of the Williamsburg Sustainable Development Alliance to my Councilman David Yassky (now running for Antid Oto's 11th Congressional District), but here is the almost instantaneous reply from his office (actually, from one Evan Thies, who is apparently both a bit of a hottie and a bit of a direct actioner himself):

Evan Thies, hottie

Mr. Grundy:

Thank you for your note. In fact, Council Member Yassky does not support the current Ratner plan, and has not supported any other plan for development at Atlantic Yards as erroneously reported yesterday in the New York Times. David has said that he would welcome a professional sports team to Brooklyn, as well as development at the MTA site. But there are many problems with the latest proposal. Chief among them is the scale of the project. David does not believe that Downtown and Brownstone Brooklyn's infrastructure can handle such out-of-scale development, nor does he think that the current plan has considered surrounding communities such as yours.

David would like to see the housing, jobs and investment for Brooklyn that an arena and new development at Atlantic Yards would bring. But, until significant changes are made, he will not support the project.

Thank you again for your note,

Evan Thies

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The 2006 NY Senate Race: The Movie

Continuing the grand tradition of Left Behinds casting calls, I give you

The 2006 NY Senate Race: The Movie

KT McFarland: moderate conservative giant-killer, or not even the next Rick Lazio?

No one in our vast nation is as biologically determined to play KT as everybody's favorite Hollywood progeriac:

DJ Qualls

And how about the giant herself, Hillary Clinton? The reason Republicans will have a 16-year run in the White House, or misunderstood Midwestern gal with a Fendi Bag and a bad attitude?

I've always thought Hill bore a striking resemblance (something about their jaws/noses) to

Rebecca de Mornay

But even more fun would be a stunt-casted

Donna Hanover

The other (im)patient Griselda. What's she been up to lately, anyhow? God I hope it's something better than more Law and Order cameos.

Moving right along, never forget Hillary challenger/union leader/freelance writer/bicycling activist/friend-of-Sarandon Jonathan Tasini: A Dennis Kucinich progressive moving the debate to the left, or a vanity-tripping Ralph Nader?

Left Behinds is his rehearsal hall, and for better or for worse, this may just be the future for our very own

Antid Oto

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Anya Kamenetz is the Most Annoying Person in NY, Pt. III

Anya Kamenetz is at it again.

What she writes about is really important, but then she makes one's skin crawl with first lines like:

"Can't complain when the subject of your new book becomes a special issue of the New York Times Magazine and a Page One story in USA Today within 2 days."

Barf. As far as I can tell, neither the NYT Mag nor USA Today mention her shitty book even once, yet the clear implication is that no editor would have ever thought to examine student debt unless the mighty Anya Kamenetz had jack-booted into the public discourse.

In her Huffington Post bio, she claims she is "a spokesperson of, for, and to young people in economic difficulties." There's the self aggrandizement again, and also the problem. She is not positioning herself as an observer or critic (much less as someone with any kind of economic or sociological training). She positions herself as a spokesperson, yet she is NOT a person with significant economic difficulties. She's just a whiny bitch. She has precisely zero self awareness and an unfortunate little megalomania problem. And because she makes it about her experience, that whininess is at issue.

As she gloats in her piece, she'll be at this conference tomorrow with her comrade in mediocrity Barack Obama. Any hecklers?

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In which I talk shit behind someone's back

How should the netroots influence and help Reid and Pelosi and the Dem talking heads prepare to get ahead of the swiftboating and frame the debate and not just react to Rove's gameplan?
With meaning-free buzzwords, apparently. Maybe a little PowerPoint thrown in if we get really crazy.

"Frame the debate." Ugh.

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Bloggers in New York, part II

About a week ago, I addressed the question of why, as I put it then, "New York is not experiencing [a] bottom-up, internet-led, grassroots vs. party machine resurgence."

Since then, coming out of this truly insane comment thread at The Daily Politics (see also this follow-up), I've come up with another theory: people are taking this shit too personally. Usually I feel the reverse is true--people don't take politics personally enough, certainly don't believe often enough that it affects them personally. But something's going wrong here. In the last few weeks, two of the more insightful, well-connected bloggers in the nascent New York political scene, Gatemouth and Rock Hackshaw, have called it quits purely because things are getting so abusive. I often disagreed with both of them, but I found Gatemouth very entertaining, and Rock came up with some interesting scoops.

I don't know what's driving this nastiness. Contrary to stereotype, I've usually found New Yorkers to be nice enough. (Just yesterday a complete stranger bought my girlfriend a cake and bubble pipe when he heard we were all out celebrating her birthday. ) At any rate, the blog triumphalism I've been reading everywhere in the aftermath of the YearlyKos conference seems like another world from what's going on at the moment in New York.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

David Yassky is pissing me off

The primary race in NY-11 has been fairly nasty on some levels, and a lot of that nastiness--especially race-based nastiness--has been aimed David Yassky's way. See, for example, today's New York Times article on the subject:

Black Leaders Fear Loss of Brooklyn House Seat

A group of black and Hispanic elected officials from Brooklyn are scheduled to meet this morning to devise strategies to keep a white candidate from winning a Congressional seat of historical significance in black politics.

It is not the first such meeting of these officials, nor is it likely to be the last. That there are talks so steeped in ethnicity indicates that race is not just one of the issues in determining who will succeed Representative Major R. Owens. It seems to be the dominant one.

Mr. Owens, a veteran of more than two decades in Congress who turns 70 this month, is not running for re-election. The black and Hispanic officials gathering today are discussing how to prevent David Yassky, a white city councilman from Brooklyn Heights, from winning a seat that once belonged to Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress.

While I don't support the guy or agree with him on many issues, I thought this was a little unfair. That was before this morning, when I went to look for some things on Yassky's website in order to comment on this post of Steve Gilliard's on that NYT article. That's when I started to believe there might be something to Bouldin's claim that

...[t]he Yassky strategy is cynical, reaching out as it does to Jewish voters on Jewish issues, and otherwise appealing to other voters on the basis of color-blind competence. That is not merely starkly hypocritical, it is intentionally and knowingly divisive.

Yassky used to have a page in the issues section of his website that pandered pretty outrageously to religious Jewish voters, talking about his efforts to divert funding to religious schools and to get a state-paid nurse in every yeshiva. When I went to look for it this morning, though, it wasn't there.

I mentioned that in my comments at Gilliard's, and reproduced a snippet of my brilliant Left Behinds analysis on that NY-11 poll, which included a link to the "Defending Israel" issues section of the Yassky website. Lo and behold, the Yassky team redesigned its website today, and perhaps coincidentally (as an anonymous user alerted us in the comment thread later) the "Defending Israel" section is gone and my link is dead.

Excuse me, but fuck that. Yassky doesn't get to pander and run a second time. This time I went to the Google cache and got screenshots of that issue page, which I will now post so they don't disappear forever. Again.

Full sizes here and here.

Tags: David Yassky, Defending Israel

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Coup

The albums are funky, but the live backing band was rock. GREAT show. What was with all the frat boys, though?

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Friday, June 09, 2006

WTF AIDS debate

I've been busy the last couple of days covering a USAID meeting. A big chunk of it was on AIDS, featuring a truly bizarre discussion about whether international policy was now focused too much on condom use or abstinence. I say bizarre because of the following graphic, shown at the end of one of the presentations.

"Coercive sex" to me means rape. A third of women in Rakai have been raped. When women have that little control over what happens to them, how can anyone realistically expect them to negotiate abstinence, condom use, or just about anything else? Doesn't the first step have to be giving women some goddamn power?

To their credit, the panelists acknowledged that need. But, they said, it's very, very difficult.

Shit, look at our own country. Women's empowerment hasn't come easily here either.

[I will put in a link to the graphic source above when it's posted online.]

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William Jefferson's silver lining

I wrote the following in response to a post at Steve Gilliard's about the Congressional Black Caucus standing behind pretty obviously guilty corrupt whiny jerk William Jefferson. I'm so impressed with myself I'm going to reproduce it here for your comment.

Jefferson's selfish intransigence could be a blessing in disguise. The lack of enthusiasm Francine Busby generated makes me wonder whether it would be so bad after all if the Democrats weren't able to run on Republican scandals. Basically that's all Busby seemed to talk about, and if that were going to work as a tactic it would have worked there, with the last guy sitting in jail. You can repeat "Republican culture of corruption" 800 times and it will stop people from voting Republican, but in a low-turnout midterm nobody's going to get off his or her ass and vote Democratic instead unless we tell them what we're going to do. Like pull out of Iraq, get to work on universal health care, take on global warming.

Of course, Jefferson himself stinks and Democrats should get rid of him, but as a matter of principle, not tactics.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bullshit squawking

I drove from New York to DC late last night because I have some work to do down here the next couple of days. On the way I was listening to NPR out of Philadelphia (no moderately-less-annoying Air America station in range, I'm afraid). The program was Justice Talking, a story on immigration. Margot Adler was interviewing Stacey O’Connell, state director of the Arizona chapter of the Minutemen (PDF).

MARGOT ADLER: In a piece of literature from your organization, you say to people who’ve come to your website “You are reading this because you believe that you can actively participate in one of the most important socially responsible and peaceful movements for justice since the civil rights movement of the 1960s.” That’s pretty intense language.

That's pretty intense language. Not, "that's so unbelievably offensive I don't even know where to start, how DARE you call sitting in a lawn chair playing vigilante a movement for justice? How dare you compare yourself to the civil rights movement? You fucking freak."

That's pretty intense journalism. Dude. In the pretty intense tradition of public broadcasting.

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Poll in NY-11

Ben Smith directs us to this poll of the NY-11 race (PDF).


The poll was paid for by 1999SEIU. I don't know who they back in the 11th, if anyone. According to the Politicker, the Congressional Black Caucus also polled the race, with rather different results:

Yassky 28
Clarke 26
Andrews 13
Owens & Perry: single digits

Why the big difference? Well, Clarke's percentage seems pretty stable. And if you look at the internals of the first poll, Clarke's ID appears to be about 20 points higher than the others right now (probably because she ran last time). All other candidates' favorables and unfavorables are lower percentages than "can't say." Clarke is the only one to draw a definite opinion from more than half of those polled. So things are probably still very fluid, except that Clarke has a stable base of at least 25%. As Rock Hackshaw gloats, rightly, he wasn't as wrong as I (and many others) believed when he claimed the race is Clarke's to lose (though Rock conveniently forgets that he had Yassky a distant fourth).

The internals also show the racial divides seem to be what you'd expect: Yassky seems to be drawing almost all his support from white residents, while Clarke is running very strong among West Indians. At the same time, white voters overwhelmingly list the Iraq war as their top concern (at 45 percent), though Yassky, their favorite, seems to be the most hawkish of the candidates (he doesn't address Iraq, but he is the only one who favors confrontation with Iran, as a way of "Protecting Israel"). Color me shocked: whites support the white candidate despite his being ambiguous, at best, in agreeing with them on the issue they care about most.

Owens, interestingly, is doing about the same among black and white voters--even a little better among whites.

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Excellent post on the Atlantic Yards

Do any of you know anyone personally who favors the damn Ratner project? I sure don't.

Anyway, mole333 does an excellent job of explaining why opposition isn't just NIMBYism:

The issues that surround development in NYC in general, and Atlantic Yards in particular, include the culture of corruption that seems to be filtering from the Federal government down to the local level, the neglect or active removal of "undesirable" communities (usually minority and poor), government secrecy, excessive links between business and government, use of tax money to aid big business, and the exclusion of the community from major decisions regarding its own future. The interests of the rich are put above the interests of the city even by the city government, and this is often done in secrecy. It is hard to think of a single issue that encompasses more fundamental concerns of the progressive movement than Atlantic Yards.

It's well worth checking out the whole thing, though it's long. mole333 elaborates on each of the above and puts the Ratner development into context in a changing Brooklyn.

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Breaking: Condi Rice STR8!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So I'm unpacking at my new place, and I have Air America Radio on because it's marginally less annoying than NPR, and Randi Rhodes reads some article claiming Bush is having an affair with Condoleezza Rice. I'm sure this is at least as well sourced as the Globe's stunner BUSH MARRIAGE BREAKUP!

I swear to god I thought this was her.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Man Who Would Be President

Many Republicans, from state senators to consultants to county chairmen to a former Pataki administration official, said privately that some of the blame lay with Governor Pataki. They used phrases like "train wreck" to describe the party and "lack of leadership" to describe the governor's stewardship of it.

Heh. Check out the quotes on the record, too.

The only question is, will the state party's discombobulation flip any House races?

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Categories should work now

We were having a lot of problems with the old method, where posts took forever to appear in the categories and sometimes weren't recognized at all. The new one is much better. It took me a few hours to re-tag all the old posts, so don't say I never did anything for you.

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Bloggers in New York

Liza Sabater has an interesting post on how little New York Democratic politicians are interested in coordinating with what should be their grassroots allies.

The New York contingency of the Democratic party has made the very deliberate decision to not have a grassroots media strategy. Incompetence aside, the Ferrer mayoral campaign shot themselves in the foot because they kept heeding the NY Capitol Hill's advice to stay away from bloggers.

I personally had set up 3 conference calls with bloggers from all around the country for Ferrer. I had worked up the troops and personally asked Markos, Armando and DavidNYC of DailyKos to lead the charge and put a good word for the candidate. I even was able to speak directly to Fernando Ferrer and ask him "do you want the bloggers behind you". He screamed, YES! Calls in the morning, I'm ready. And every single time Fernando Ferrer's communications people sabotaged the effort.

Ferrer, of course, lost.

Now, as one of her commenters points out, Ferrer lost for a whole lot of reasons. But the general observation is valid: New York is not experiencing the kind of bottom-up, internet-led, grassroots vs. party machine resurgence that, for example, Chris Bowers describes in Pennsylvania.

The biggest New York-centric blogs I am aware of trade information, speculation, and comment. There are exceptions: Take Back New York, take19, a representative from which dropped by here the other day, and a few others. These are mainly focused on Republican-held House seats. Most, though, kibitz. Like me.

I can think of a couple of reasons off the top of my head. First, the Republican Party in New York is collapsing on its own. It has not had anything like the success of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania in recent years, and as a result there is less dissatisfaction among Democrats. Pennsylvania has two Republican Senators, remember, and has been considered a swing state in the last two Presidential elections. Second, as described below, there are major structural obstacles to ballot-based reform in New York.

This doesn't strike me as enough, though. There's an element of culture too, though it's difficult to put my finger on. New York does have an activist tradition, but historically it has not wanted to have anything to do with the Democratic Party, even to reform it. I would blame this on the Democratic Party hacks who seem to control everything down to the door hinges, but the resurgence Bowers describes in Pennsylvania is happening in the face of a highly corrupt Philadelphia machine.

So I ask: what do you think is the deal here?

UPDATE: Chris Bowers has another theory: we're just fucking lazy. And there's something to that. I certainly am.

Tags: New York politics

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