Family Relation

Diversion Tactic
May 28, 2008

JERUSALEM--At first glance, Ehud Olmert and Bashar al-Assad have nothing in common. The first is a slick, media-savvy politico, while the second is an awkward, anti-charismatic, unloved and unlovable dictator. But Israel's prime minister and Syria's ruler have both concluded that the best way to beat the rap, respectively, on corruption and murder charges is to make peace with one another. That, at least, is the impression of many Israelis, prominent commentators among them, in light of last week's revelation of indirect talks between Syrian and Israeli negotiators in Turkey.

More On Sydney Pollack
May 28, 2008

David Edelstein pens a characteristically smart and moving eulogy to Sydney Pollack, the actor: It began with Tootsie, a role that Pollack stepped into reluctantly, and the reluctance is right there onscreen, in a good way: The agent, George, just wants to do his job, eat his lunch. (That’s his motivation.) ... In Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives, Pollack is even more brilliantly instinctive.

Ted Kennedy Picks A Successor
May 22, 2008

According to the Daily News, Ted Kennedy has a plan for his succession: Ted Kennedy has made clear to confidants that when his time is up, he wants his Senate seat to stay in the family - with his wife, Vicki. Multiple sources in Massachusetts with close ties to the liberal lion say his wife of 16 years has long been his choice to continue carrying the family flame in the Senate. Kennedy won the seat in 1962; his brother John held it from 1953 to 1960. Ted, who defiantly went sailing (!) yesterday, isn't giving up yet, so it may not even come to this. And Vicki isn't unqualified.

Roberts, Breyer, Alito: What Are We Paying You For?
May 12, 2008

The Supreme Court announced today that for the first time in recent memory, it will be unable to consider a case because too many justices recused themselves due to conflicts of interest. The case asked whether lawsuits based on the 1789 Alien Tort Claims Act can proceed against companies who did business with Apartheid-era South Africa. (The lawsuits will go forward, since the opinion from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals will now be the final word on the matter.) The Supreme Court was unable to weigh in because it lacked the six justices needed for quorum: Chief Justice John G.

What's Wrong With The Yellow River? Everything.
April 24, 2008

This month's National Geographic has a great piece on the Yellow River in China, that erstwhile cradle of civilization that now sustains more than 150 million people and is in danger of both drying out and being poisoned to death (that photo's no joke; toxic chemical leaks have a habit of painting the river red or white or maroon from time to time). This passage on the uneasy adolescence of China's environmental movement was especially interesting: In the mid-1990s a mere handful of environmental groups existed in China. Today there are several thousand, including Green Camel Bell.

He Just Can't Help Himself
April 22, 2008

The latest from Bill Clinton: After the phone interview with Delaware radio station WHYY Monday night, a stray comment of his on the issue was also recorded before he hung up: “I don’t think I should take any s*** from anybody on that, do you?” The former president had been asked whether his remarks comparing Obama’s strong showing in South Carolina to that of Jesse Jackson in 1988 had been a mistake given their impact on his wife Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Silly Season: Ayers, Obama, And Hyde Park
April 17, 2008

Of the many ludicrous political discussions of the last six months, the most ludicrous may well be the discussion of the alleged association between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers, former member of the Weather Underground. Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernadine Dohrn, have lived in the Hyde Park area in Chicago. So has Barack Obama. (So have I.) If you lived in Hyde Park for (say) a decade, there was a good chance that you'd run across Ayers, and maybe even be at a social occasion with him.

Wooing The Superdelegates
April 02, 2008

San Francisco Chronicle: The Bill Clinton who met privately with California's superdelegates at last weekend's state convention was a far cry from the congenial former president who afterward publicly urged fellow Democrats to "chill out" over the race between his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Barack Obama. In fact, before his speech Clinton had one of his famous meltdowns Sunday, blasting away at former presidential contender Bill Richardson for having endorsed Obama, the media and the entire nomination process.

That Richardson Op-ed
April 01, 2008

Apologies to some of our commenters for taking so long to get to it. Here's the money graf: Carville and others say that I owe President Clinton's wife my endorsement because he gave me two jobs. Would someone who worked for Carville then owe his wife, Mary Matalin, similar loyalty in her professional pursuits? Do the people now attacking me recall that I ran for president, albeit unsuccessfully, against Sen. Clinton? Was that also an act of disloyalty? The man has a point... --Noam Scheiber 

More On Scaife
April 01, 2008

Slate's Tim Noah supplies some helpful background on new Clinton BFF Richard Mellon Scaife here and here: During the 1990s, Scaife professed to believe that Hillary had actually killed Foster, and he used the Tribune-Review to spread that ugly rumor. Scaife's unwillingness to retract such seamy accusations ("[Bill Clinton] can order people done away with at his will. He's got the entire federal government behind him") a full decade after the fact doesn't strike me as repentant, even by the redempt-o-matic standards of today's 24-hour news cycle.