Who Is Scott Gration?
March 20, 2009
On Wednesday, Barack Obama appointed retired Air Force Major General J. Scott Gration as his special envoy to Sudan. In 2001, when the envoy position was first created, the job entailed brokering a peace deal between Khartoum and rebel groups in the south. It subsequently mutated to include halting Darfur's genocide and reversing President Bashir's expulsion of humanitarian aid workers. So, what does Gration's appointment mean for Darfur policy now? The Sudan experts I spoke to were cautiously optimistic.
Another Newspaper Casualty
March 17, 2009
Next week, the slow, inexorable decline of newspapers will be marked by another datapoint when Bruce Sherman, the 61-year-old CEO of Private Capital Management, retires. For those who have followed the newspaper industry's financial travails, Sherman--who's not related to me--was the money manager who forced the merger of Knight Ridder to McClatchy back in 2006, and then, along with Morgan Stanley fund manager Hassan Elmasry, took on Arthur Sulzberger at the New York Times Company. In the debut issue of Cond
The Politics Of Opera
March 16, 2009
Yesterday's cover story in The New York Times magazine begins with the story of Valery Gergiev's decision to conduct a concert in Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, in the aftermath of the Russo-Georgian war. Born in Northern Ossetia, Gergiev, the most dynamic Russian conductor of our times, took the side of Putin's Russia over the cause of the Georgians. Inevitably, therefore, the author of the article, Arthur Lubow, is led to reflect on the relationship between music and politics. Those reflections make little or no sense to me.
Battle Of The Blondes, Redux
March 16, 2009
Wow. How in the hell did I miss this latest development in the ongoing feline smack-down among conservative pundettes? I saw, of course, the Meghan McCain slap at Ann Coulter. But then on Thursday, Laura Ingraham apparently fired back on behalf of skinny, right-wing demagogues everywhere, taking direct aim at McCain's thighs. First Ingraham, in her best Meghan-McCain-Valley-Girl impression, offered up this catty "self-analysis": Ok, I was really hoping that I was going to get that role in the "Real World", but then I realized that, well, they don't like plus-sized models.
As nearly everyone knows, Israel's political system is parliamentary democracy taken to a lunatic degree. I had hopes a month back that somehow the Likud with Bibi Netanyahu at its head, Kadima with Tsipi Livni as its leader, and Labor spearheaded by Ehud Barak would be able to forge a political alliance that was Zionist and secular, egalitarian and capitalist, alert to its enemies and open to peace. This last dyad is the most essential.
Belligerent Chimp Of The Day
March 09, 2009
Via Jonathan Stein, a 30-year-old chimp named Santino living in a Swedish zoo has learned a fiendish new trick—he'll stockpile an arsenal of carefully chosen rocks that he can later fling at his captors (and other gawkers) as soon as the zoo opens: On some days, he's barraged visitors with up to 20 projectiles thrown in rapid succession, always thrown underhand. Several times he has hit spectators standing about 30 feet across a water-filled moat.
Nepotism: There's Another Charles Freeman--charles Freeman, Jr.--and He's Defending His Dad. Nice Boy!
March 08, 2009
I don't know who Steve Clemons is. But he has published on his own blog, thewashingtonnote, for which he raises money right there, a threat from Charles Freeman's son to punch me, Jon Chait, and Jamie Kirchick in the face. He also calls us "low-lives" and "shmucks." Very elevated discourse. Jon, he says, "scaled new lows." I am "unpleasant." And he makes some incomprehensible gay crack about Jamie, which even Clemons takes pains to disavow. Alas, Charles Freeman, Jr. does not have much of an independent life.
March 04, 2009
Baghdad, Iraq In December 2007, the Alpha Company of the 4-64 Armor Battalion of the Fourth Brigade, Third Infantry Division, arrived in the neighborhood of Saidiyah in southwest Baghdad. More than half of the onceupscale, religiously mixed neighborhood's 60,000 residents had fled to Jordan, Syria, or other parts of Iraq. Those who stayed rarely ventured out of their homes. Up until a few months earlier, human corpses had littered the street, where stray dogs feasted on them.
The Scoop Factory
March 04, 2009
On the evening of January 22, a few hours after his administration's debut news conference, Barack Obama made a surprise visit to the cramped quarters of the White House press corps. It was meant to be a friendly event, and Obama glad-handed his way through reporters and cameramen, exchanging light banter as he went. But Politico reporter Jonathan Martin wasn't there to chat. Martin pressed Obama about the president's decision to nominate William J. Lynn III, a former defense lobbyist, to deputy defense secretary and about Obama's pledge to curtail the influence of lobbyists.
Rush Limbaugh's Shadow Reaches Into Every Corner
March 04, 2009
(AP) Yesterday, I attended AEI's event commemorating one year since William F. Buckley's death. It featured a panel discussion between National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru, Charles Kesler of the Claremont Review of Books, and AEI's outgoing president, Chris DeMuth, about the future of conservatism. (The subject never gets old!) The institute's incoming president, 44-year-old Arthur C.