Turning off the main highway in Johannesburg, South Africa, our minibus taxi is stopped by a police officer at a roadblock. Our driver, a jaunty Zulu-speaking teen sporting a black baseball cap and an ancient plastic armband that might have been a “LiveStrong” bracelet from another geological era, pulls over to the side of the road and rolls down his window. The officer reaches inside, hooks his fingers through the bracelet, snatches the driver out of the minibus, and begins punching him. None of my fellow passengers twitch.
I don't know Dan Baum personally, so maybe it's a little odd to be flacking his new book, but I want to flag Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans for Plankers who wonder what happened to the Big Easy after Anderson Cooper and his cameras left town.
MoveOn and ACORN team up to run ads against Blue Dog Democrats who voted against the recent housing bill, which loosened bankruptcy rules for people facing foreclosure: The organizations say that they are actively seeking out residents in the districts of Reps. Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.), Baron Hill (D-Ind.), Marion Berry (D-Ark.), and Tim Holden (D-Pa.) who have lost their homes, so they can appear in TV ads asking their congressmen why they voted against the bill.
The quote of the weekend, from the Times's story on McCain-as-loyal-opposition: Asked how he felt after two months back, Mr. McCain said: “It’s terrible. It’s awful. I am in a constant state of despondency. Can’t you tell?” There was a giant smile on his face. --Eve Fairbanks
That's what Norm Coleman's proposed, and so Minnesotans have taken a vote on whether they want a new vote. The result? A statistical dead heat, of course. What a nightmare. --Eve Fairbanks
Don't miss Blaine Harden's fascinating and awful story on the long-term effects of North Korea's unending famine in the Washington Post today: Mental retardation caused by malnutrition will disqualify about a quarter of potential military conscripts in North Korea, according to a December report by the National Intelligence Council, a research institution that is part of the U.S. intelligence community.
Via Bloggingheads.tv, the feisty Ann Althouse and I joined in the Rush Limbaugh debate: Although I thought Ann's Rush apologism was unseemly and unfounded, I have to say I basically agree with Jon Chait that Rush is being unjustly pilloried for his line, "One thing we can all do is stop assuming that the way to beat [the Democrats] is with better policy ideas." There's this concept out there that if the GOP would only present some "alternative solutions," as the jargon goes, they'd immediately have more success countering the Democrats.
Invaluable reader JB passes on a tidbit representing the triumph of lowbrow conservatism that John Derbyshire mourned in yesterday's fascinating piece, "How Radio Wrecked the Right." Here's Mitch McConnell's description of modern conservatism's appeal: In his CPAC speech, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted that conservatives are more "interesting" and "fun" than liberals. Here's his proof: "who wants to hang out with guys like Paul Krugman and Robert Reich when you can be with Rush Limbaugh?" --Eve Fairbanks
The Republican Party has been using a grab-bag of strategies to counter Obama's policies over the past month. They rail against the stimulus package for its (supposed) pork. They hammer home their points with gimmicky videos and props. They speak in warrior rhetoric and revel in heroic, fighting-man stunts. But if there is one strand running through all these strategies, it is that they evoke a discomfiting feeling of deja vu. We’ve seen this stuff before: The GOP is currently reliving John McCain’s presidential campaign.