March 23, 2009

Like most, I consider the Times' A.O. Scott one of the very best critics writing in the English language, thanks not only to the elegant wit of his prose--his review of Seven Pounds may have been the most entertaining I read last year--but also to the fact that he very rarely lets his exceptional style get in the way of good common sense. When I disagree with him over a film, it is more often than not over the relative weight assigned to a particular aspect: Was Virtue A enough to overcome Flaw X, and so on.

More On The Chimp And The "conversation"
February 25, 2009

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at the legs this chimp cartoon story has. But it almost makes me reconsider whether Eric Holder actually has something in this idea that We Need To Talk. Various friends of mine are offended by the cartoon, white and black. They say that they immediately read the cartoon as referring to Obama - but none of them are Post readers, and thus like me, they encountered the cartoon as the subject of stories about the protest.

The Most Important Fight Over The Paulson Plan
September 25, 2008

A colleague of mine likes to characterize the debate over the Paulson plan as a heavyweight title fight with a lot of undercards. He's right--the crisis has merely brought to a head a wide spectrum of battles that have been brewing for years between regulators and financial interests.

We Are All Featherweight Boxer Raynell Williams
August 15, 2008

First it was Georgia. Now, along comes another issue seemingly tailor-made for John McCain to obsess over: corrupt, pro-Chinese Olympic boxing judges. There's not yet proof, but the Washington Post reports that Olympic judges look like they've tilted to China all week--enough for the U.S. boxing team to call a foul.

Chess, Not Just For Skinny Asthmatics Anymore
July 14, 2008

According to Time, "chess-boxing" is hitting it big all over the world. The combination of chess and boxing is meant to teach conflict-resolution to kids, though in Europe "a bloodier version is flourishing." I totally support this blending of sport and board game, and think we should do more: paintball-Risk, NASCAR-Life, capture-the-flag-Stratego, hide-and-go-seek-Clue... --Sacha Zimmerman

Hillary's Fake Populism
May 05, 2008

Everybody knows that Hillary plays rough, and this morning's New York Times tells you now that she is also ruthless. Down in the body of the story there's a little riff from one Max Brantley, "an old friend of the Clintons from Arkansas," in which he contrasts Hill and Bill. "He never stops trying to convert people. She's much more clear-eyed, recognizing the imperfectability of people." So that's her calculation: if you disagree with her you are a sinner. This ruthlessness is also a promise about how she'd behave in office. She doesn't sign her autograph on red boxing gloves for nothing.

Seeing Red
March 10, 2008

It was Matthew Arnold, I think, who exhorted 19th century England to "choose equality and flee greed."  It did nothing of the sort, of course.  And neither did Labour Britain in the 20th century, except smoothing out some of the sharp edges of penury and birth.  So England remains a class society, though one that, if you accumulate sufficient capital, opens at the top. America is a less stratified society than Britain.  The poor of the U.S.

A Sort-of Defense Of Hillary's Campaign Spending
February 22, 2008

Granted, the Clinton campaign has spent money in some pretty egregious ways. And I'm not sure how you give the checkbook to Patti Solis Doyle again after she let you spend $30 million in a re-election campaign against bums, as they say in the boxing business. Still, there are some details in this Times piece that seem completely defensible to me. For example: As part of their get-out-the-vote effort in Iowa, the campaign came up with a plan to have a local supermarket deliver sandwich platters to pre-caucus parties. It spent more than $95,384 on Jan.

Tears For Oil In Hillaryland
December 18, 2007

Yesterday's news from the campaign trail--that Hillary Rodham Clinton got "visibly emotional" at a rally celebrating her political career--nicely complements her team's accelerating efforts to signpost her basic humanity. (Did anyone catch her middle-of-the-road New Year's resolutions at last week's debate?

Boys Vs. Girl
November 01, 2007

This email from a Democratic strategist to Time's Mark Halperin... “There’s just no way she wins running as a victim.  She and her team reflexively go there because it’s worked before.  But this is different.  She’s not the first lady.  She’s an aspiring commander-in-chief.