Senator Sessions’s staff on the Budget Committee has contacted both me and my editor objecting to the item in the most strenuous terms. I have further explored the matter at length and determined that, in my haste, I treated Senator Sessions’s claims far too generously. Senator Sessions’s combination of ignorance and gross lack of intellectual standards turns out to be even more horrifying than I managed to initially communicate. Calling Sessions a “wonk McCarthyite” implies a level of policy understanding on his part that is wholly unsupported by the facts
Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign toasted its top donors Wednesday aboard a 150-foot yacht flying the flag of the Cayman Islands.
The exclusive event, hosted by a Florida developer on his yacht “Cracker Bay,” was one of a dozen exclusive events meant to nurture those who have raised more than $1 million for Romney’s bid.
The rap on Romney is of course that he is inconsistent. Yet he persistently presents the impression that he is among the richest of men, in league with the richest of men and women, with little regard for the United States or its citizens except as a herd from which to extract profit.
That the yacht is (surely innocently) called Cracker Bay is only an extra incidental fillip for a candidate of the party that depends on the votes of white southerners.
Prometheus wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the Star Wars prequels, but my saying that tells you about how good it was. And it tells you what kind of movie it is, too - it is after all a prequel, that exists to explain a lot of the weird stuff in Alien. The thing is, as Patton Oswalt shrewdly notes, just because we like ice cream doesn’t mean we’d like to eat a bag of rock salt. We don’t actually want to see Darth Vader as a little kid; we don’t, really, need to know where the Alien came from and what the space jockeys were unless it’s wrapped in a story bigger than “oh, that’s what that thing was.”
There are, though, some parts of Prometheus that are truly excellent. Michael Fassbender is the main one. His performance as the android David is excellent. Fassbender should have been in a decent adaptation of an Asimovian robot story; he knows how to wrestle …
The Boston Globe is shocked–shocked!–to discover that gambling public speakers sometimes give the same speech at different venues. Today’s object of their shock is Fareed Zakaria, the omnipresent media expert on foreign policy, who gave substantially identical talks at the commencements for Duke and Harvard, mere weeks apart.
Zakaria’s Harvard and Duke commencement speeches were essentially identical, built around the same anecdotes and points and often the same language. The addresses have set some at Harvard and Duke atwitter.
The Globe flutters through this as if it is news, breathlessly quoting a Duke employee who’s also shocked:
“I spoke to him while he was here,” said one Duke employee, “and I got the strong impression from him that his Harvard speech would be a different presentation. Oh, well, at least Duke got it first.”
The National Post has learned that Canada and Denmark are apparently this close to hammering out a deal over Hans Island, the vitally important strategic chokepoint that has kept these two warrior nations on the brink of mutual annihilation for the last eight years. With a little luck and perhaps some Annan-style shuttle diplomacy, our long national nightmare might soon be over.
The plan is brilliant for its simplicity. There will be no exchange of atomic energy monitors, no prisoner swaps, and no gradual pullbacks to the positions the countries held on the first day of the costly conflict. Neither side will have to disarm its military forces or surrender commanders for war crimes trials. Instead, the deal under discussion between Ottawa and Copenhagen would take Hans Island, a rock roughly a square kilometre in size and — get this —…
The Muppets provided joy from start to finish. I knew we were in good hands from the first big musical number – part of which is above – “Life’s a Happy Song.” It gets a full, MGM-musical style choreographical treatment. It states the movie’s major theme (it will be reprised in the finale). And it also sets up the story’s major problems – Walter needs to reach Muppethood, Gary needs to reach manhood. It’s a nice piece of writing work. And the lines, “Life’s a fillet of fish … Yes, it is” still make me laugh.
Most of all, though, the movie suggested to me that the Muppets would serve us best by returning to variety television; the movie made me want to watch new episodes of The Muppet Show and made me confident it could succeed. Jack Black and Zach Gallifianakis would be great guests, as would Jason Segel and Amy Adams. The existence of Funny…
A titan arum or “corpse plant” is about to bloom in a Cornell University green house:
[The] bloom…has been recorded only 140 times in cultivation, and perhaps that’s for the best, as the plant smells like rotting meat when in bloom. The strong odor and deep purple color of the inner leaf attracts carrion flies for pollination in its native rainforests on the island of Sumatra.
The plant has reached 66 inches in height as of Saturday, 3/17, and might bloom today. Live video can be seen here.
Mr. Lolli-Ghetti has one of the world’s most expensive parking spaces, a costly talking point in a city where residents spend dearly to shelter their cars. His three-bedroom apartment at 200 11th Avenue — now on the market for $7 million — includes a 300-square-foot “en suite sky garage” that would be valued at more than $800,000 if priced at the same rate per square foot as the rest of the apartment…“Obviously, when you have a nice car, at least now you know you’re the only one touching it — it’s safe,” Mr. Lolli-Ghetti said. “I don’t think it needs views like this, but it does need heating and it wants to be inside.”
John Quiggin at Crooked Timber (among others) notes that Germany has finally acquitted its obligations under the Versailles treaty. Which makes one wonder, what was the greatest of the many errors at Versailles? I could write a post on this, as I have an opinion, but perhaps you would like to tell us, instead. (more…)
Ask yourself: What made our Greatest Generation great? First, the problems they faced were huge, merciless and inescapable: the Depression, Nazism and Soviet Communism. Second, the Greatest Generation’s leaders were never afraid to ask Americans to sacrifice. Third, that generation was ready to sacrifice, and pull together, for the good of the country. And fourth, because they were ready to do hard things, they earned global leadership the only way you can, by saying: “Follow me.”
Let’s solve our problems by comparing them with Imaginary World ™, full of puppies and ponies and elves!
This is why other pundits think that George Will is an intellectual.
From my inbox this morning (all-caps in original, emphasis mine):
GREETINGS TO YOU MY NAME IS PAUL GILBERT ANDERSON (PVT) AN AMERICAN SOLDIER SERVING IN THE MILITARY WITH THE USA ARMY 3RD INFANTRY DIVISION OPERATING IN IRAQ. WITH A VERY URGENT NEED OF ASSISTANCE I HAVE SUMMED UP COURAGE TO CONTACT YOU. I FOUND YOUR CONTACT PARTICULARS IN AN ELECTRONIC ADDRESS JOURNAL. I AM SEEKING YOUR KIND ASSISTANCE TO ASSIST ME TO CLAIM THE SUM OF ($28 MILLION USD) TWENTY EIGHT MILLION UNITED STATED DOLLARS THAT I HAVE SUCCESSFULLY AND SAFELY MOVED OUT OF IRAQ TO A SAFE COUNTRY. BEFORE I WILL GIVE YOU DETAILS OF WHERE THE FUND IS, YOU MUST ASSURE ME THAT MY SHARE WILL BE SAFE IN YOUR CARE. AS YOU CAN SEE WE ARE ALREADY PREPARING TO LEAVE IRAQ. I WISH THERE IS RISK INVOLVED I WILL NOT DO IT SO I WANT TO ASSURE YOU THAT THERE IS NO RISK INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT BECAUSE THE FUND HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFULLY …
Let’s consider, say, the year 1880. Here was a society in which people were free to keep everything they earned, because there was no income tax. They were also free to decide what to do with their own money—spend it, save it, invest it, donate it, or whatever. People were generally free to engage in occupations and professions without a license or permit. There were few federal economic regulations and regulatory agencies. No Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, bailouts, or so-called stimulus plans. No IRS. No Departments of Education, Energy, Agriculture, Commerce, and Labor. No EPA and OSHA. No Federal Reserve. No drug laws. Few systems of public schooling. No immigration controls. No federal minimum-wage laws or price controls. A monetary system based on gold and silver …
I feel compelled to note that, despite a gloriously flattering article on Harvard basketball, its star Jeremy Lin, and its power-recruiting coach Tommy Amaker, the road to the Ivy Championship still goes through Ithaca, NY. It’s a two-lane, winding state highway with cars on it that will make it from 0-60 any day now, but Harvard was kind enough not to break the speed limit in Saturday’s game.
I like Mary Beard’s TLS blog. But this time I fear she has Gone Too Far. Or, perhaps more likely, she’s pulling our collective leg — though I don’t remember her pulling it in quite this manner before. Even out here at the veriest Edge, the cityscape is clotted with victors’ memories of the War of Eastern Aggression. Just yesterday I was out picknicking with fellow parents of future yuppies at the Black Point Battery; and of course the map is full of streets named for Vicksburg, Grant, Lincoln and the Union. (Not to speak of the Confederate general from Big Sur.)
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This blog is a blog about history, Yiddishkeit, and the Muppets, neither exclusively nor necessarily in that order. And as William Gibson said about this very blog (no, really), “History can save your ass.” Yiddishkeit and the Muppets are just extras.
is the associate director of the Cornell in Washington program and a senior lecturer at Cornell University. He teaches courses on European history, modern military history, guerrilla war, and the role of popular will in waging war.
is an associate professor of history at UC Davis. He is the author of A River and Its City: The Nature of Landscape in New Orleans, which won the Abbott Lowell Cummings Prize in 2004, and his new book, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek, will be published by Harvard University Press in fall 2012.
is a professor of history at UC Davis. She is the author of Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11 (Oxford, 2009); Red Spy Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth Bentley (North Carolina, 2002); and Challenging the Secret Government: The Post-Watergate Investigations of the CIA and FBI (North Carolina, 1996).