Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Nephilim Explained?

You don't have to be a Neanderthal to find intriguing correlations between scripture and modern science -- once you're willing to accept that God's normal workday runs a bit longer than ours.

New archaeological finds suggest that human migration from Africa into Mesopotamia and beyond began as long as 127,000 years ago. From DNA evidence, scientists had previously concluded that the exodus started just 60,000 years ago.

Especially interesting is the speculation about where homo sapiens may have encountered and bred with Neanderthals. Nicholas Wade writes in the New York Times:
Jebel Faya is near the Persian Gulf, which is now a shallow sea. But before 8,000 years ago, when the sea level was about 330 feet lower than today, the gulf area was a low-lying plain, with the Euphrates running through it. The region would have been an oasis that served as a refuge during dry periods. Neanderthal sites are known from central Iraq, so perhaps Neanderthals came down the river to the gulf oasis before it was inundated, making it “an interesting candidate for the place of hybridization,” [University of Birmingham archaeologist Jeffrey] Rose said.
A refuge and an oasis fed by the Euphrates, huh? As for hybridization, there's always been that odd passage in Genesis 6:1-4, just before the Noah story:
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterwards—when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown.
Wikipedia says Neanderthals were a little smaller but built more robustly than homo sapiens. What if thanks to the robustness of oral tradition, stories of their heroic exploits in northern European climes reached all the way to the compilers of Torah?

Here's Hoping

From Haroon Moghul, four reasons Egypt's revolution isn't Islamic.

A Ugandan Stonewall?

My colleague the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle on what happened when the lay reader sent by the Anglican Church of Uganda to preside at David Kato's funeral launched into an anti-gay diatribe. Kato is the gay rights activist who was beaten to death after a newspaper essentially put a hit out on him. Ogle got this first-hand report from the Rt. Rev. Christopher Senyonjo of Uganda, a retired bishop who has been inhibited (fired, basically) by the Ugandan Anglican church for his work on behalf of gays and lesbians:
The Lay Reader began to make inappropriate remarks condemning homosexuality quite graphically and stating the Church of Uganda’s position that homosexuality was a sin and against the Bible.

The crowd began to cheer him on and the bishop described the event as turning into an anti-gay rally. The bishop was never called upon to speak. He felt for the LGBT community having to suffer yet another public humiliation.

This kind of rabble rousing and hatred has been the daily diet for LGBT people in Uganda, causing a media frenzy from pulpits and scandalous tabloid like Uganda’s Rolling Stone that likely caused this senseless murder. Even in such a brutal death, the Church was at it again.

The anger and frustration of the LGBT community and its straight allies finally erupted when a young lesbian who worked with David...called Kasha seized the mic and the Lay Reader’s diatribe against LGBT people was finally replaced by the voices of those whom David fought and died for.

This moment will be remembered as a kind of “Stonewall” when the community said to the oppressors – Enough! Stop the lies!

Another report is here.

This Official's Waffling, But He's Not Chicken

At the LA Times, Sandy Banks and a thoughtful university official speak up for the well-meaning Filipino chef at UC Irvine who was harshly criticized by angry students for serving chickens and waffles on Dr. King's day:
The culprit in this culinary blunder wasn't some "white chef who is a redneck from Mississippi or somewhere," said Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Thomas Parham, who happens to be black.

He's a Filipino chef, who took his cue from black students "when he wanted to do something sensitive culturally" for the King holiday menu. Chicken was the meat of the day.

He asked black students for advice, and they suggested the chicken and waffles combo.

"This is a guy who takes great pride in creating 'comfort food' for the students," Parham said. "Somebody who was really trying to do something nice, that was perceived differently by a small group of people.

"No racist intent, nothing hostile about it. ... But people who jumped to faulty conclusions without considering the context and intentions."

A Bridge Too Fatah

Eli Lake on what a post-Mubarak regime might mean for Israel and the Palestinians:
One of the services Mubarak provided as an American client was to train and supply the Palestinian preventive security services [on the West Bank]. I don't think a new Egyptian government would withdraw from the peace treaty with Israel. It's hard to govern Egypt, provoking a war with Israel would be suicidal. The Muslim Brotherhood leadership would always talk about the peace treaty in terms of a referendum for the Palestinian people. But I don't think it would want the Egyptian security services enmeshed with Hamas' enemies in the West Bank. What's more I doubt the next Egyptian government would enforce a blockade of Gaza.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Palin To End Social Security And Medicare

If it's not in the Constitution, Sarah Palin won't fund it:
We need to cut these things that aren't constitutionally mandated, that are kind of on the periphery, the fluffery, like NPR and National Endowment for the Arts. Those are obvious.

Brush Up Your Seventies

Look who's arriving at La Casa Pacifica for a party with the Nixons in August 1972: Frank Sinatra, Mary Tyler Moore, Billy Graham, Eva Gabor, Scatman Crothers, Art Linkletter, John Wayne, George Burns, Glenn Campbell, and many more whom I can't quite make out. Dig the clothes.

Hat tip to the Nixon library

Missing Mubarak

At the Nixon Center's "National Interest" blog, Paul Pillar imagines how the U.S. and Israel might diverge over Egypt:
It is easy to envision political change in Egypt that would be in the direction of greater democracy, would be consistent with principles that President Obama laid out in his speech in Cairo in June 2009, would present no threat to Israeli security (especially given the state of the Egyptian military), and would be consistent with U.S. interests as long as Washington accepted the change rather than trying to reject and undermine it, but that would be very distasteful to Israel. Such a new Egyptian political order might involve a major role for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which recently joined the protests in the streets. Israel would not like the change because of a reflexive distaste for Islamists and because the new Egyptian rulers would depart from such policies of Mubarak as cooperating in Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. An acid test for the Obama administration would be whether to embrace change consistent with long-term U.S. interests or to bow in the customary way to short-term political interests growing out of Israeli displeasures.

Obama Isn't The New Carter

On his radio show today, Hugh Hewitt announced that President Obama had "said nothing" about the crisis in Egypt in his remarks today. Hewitt seemed somewhat startled when his guest, Charles Krauthammer, repeatedly praised the president for what he said and what he's doing:
[The U.S.] had two choices. Do we either say nothing, or even undermine [Egyptian president Hosni] Mubarak, as Jimmy Carter did in 1979 when he kicked the stool out from under the Shah, and then he’s done, or do we try a riskier course, which is we stay with Mubarak, which is what Obama did, but insist that he bring in democrats, bring in reformers, bring in the opposition, and essentially begin a transition out of the Mubarak era. It’s going to end anyway. He’s 82. He’s not going to run any reelection, he’s not going to win reelection, either. His son is not going to take over. So do you want a controlled transition to democracy? Or do you want an abdication, riots in the streets, chaos, out of which it’s more likely that the bad guys are going to win? So I think they chose the slightly more difficult course, staying with the guy who’s quite despised, but insisting that there’s a transition that is obvious to the Egyptians...

Is The Muslim Brotherhood Getting Cuddly?

The Muslim Brotherhood, though it's standing back from the turmoil in Egypt, is bound to be a major factor if the Mubarak regime falls. Jeffrey Goldberg offers grounds for cautious realism.

The Calm After The Storm

From the New York Times' coverage of Friday's riots in Egypt:
In a stunning turn of events in Alexandria, one pitched battle ended with protesters and police shaking hands and sharing water bottles on the same street corner where minutes before they were exchanging hails of stones and tear-gas canisters were arcing through the sky. Thousands stood on the six-lane coastal road [and] then sank to their knees and prayed.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snarky Sarah The Presidential Candidate

Sarah Palin continues to degrade and now, actually, befoul our politics:
And adding a touch of snark, she said, Obama "dubbed it a "Winning The Future" speech, but the title's acronym seemed more accurate than much of the content."

Speed Traps: An Anglican Hermeneutic

The Episconixonian has obtained this link to a national speed trap registry. As regards so many things, my views are mixed. If you stay at the speed limit, you'll never get a ticket, and our streets will be safer for men, women, children, and small animals. For seven years I've commuted an hour a day round trip on a toll road with a CHP officer waiting around every scenic curve. I put the cruise control on, other cars thunder by, and I don't worry about nothing, gliding past the black and whites, the mighty Saturn registering a rock-solid "65" on the readout of their radar guns.

I take some pride from the idea that some of the guys actually recognize me after all these years. "Drives like a little old lady," maybe they mutter. We all know that traffic tickets are about governmental revenue as well as safety. So while we rolling ATMs are entitled to know where the danger lies, while using this resource please heed the comment on the very first listing for my home town of Yorba Linda: "Nothing on this street, or in this town for that matter, is a TRAP. Just drive the darned speed limit! A child was killed on Lakeview many years ago, by a speeding driver. Slow down for gosh sake!"

Born To Drum

Not many details on this little guy except that he's four and Charlie Watts had better watch his back.

Hat tip to Gary Baker

Flash: U.S. Muslims To Become Almost Noticeable

Writing about a Pew study predicting modest growth in the number of Muslims worldwide, USA Today runs this eye-catching headline --
Number Of U.S. Muslims To Double
-- and then explains exactly what that means:
[Y]ou are as likely to know a Muslim here in 20 years as you are to know someone Jewish or Episcopalian today.
All that many, you say.

Ordering Hits On Gay People

In Uganda, as police investigate the brutal murder of a gay rights activist, it's hard to argue that the killers weren't incited by uncivil rhetoric. The BBC reports:

Uganda's Rolling Stone newspaper published the photographs of several people it said were gay, including Mr [David] Kato, with the headline "Hang them".

Private Peace Talks Require Public Peace Talk

In an editorial about the leak of documents about peace negotiations in 2008, the Jerusalem Post criticizes the Palestinian government for failing to do more to prepare its people for the compromises that will be necessary to make peace with Israel.

Here's Hoping

Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei:
I am pretty sure that any freely and fairly elected government in Egypt will be a moderate one, but America is really pushing Egypt and pushing the whole Arab world into radicalization with this inept policy of supporting repression.

Fox News And Newt Gingrich, That's Where

The much-feared Muslim population bomb is pretty much a wet firecracker:
“There’s this overwhelming assumption that Muslims are populating the earth, and not only are they growing at this exponential rate in the Muslim world, they’re going to be dominating Europe and, soon after, the United States,” [a Pew consultant] said. “But the figures don’t even come close. I’m looking at all this and wondering, where is all the hysteria coming from?”

Is Saving A Life Dogma Or Love?

In Phoenix, the Roman Catholic Church fired one of its hospitals after it performed an abortion to save a woman's life. Nicholas Kristof writes:

To me, this battle illuminates two rival religious approaches, within the Catholic church and any spiritual tradition. One approach focuses upon dogma, sanctity, rules and the punishment of sinners. The other exalts compassion for the needy and mercy for sinners — and, perhaps, above all, inclusiveness.

The thought that keeps nagging at me is this: If you look at Bishop Olmsted and Sister Margaret [a member of of the hospital's ethics panel who was excommunicated for authorizing the abortion] as the protagonists in this battle, one of them truly seems to me to have emulated the life of Jesus. And it’s not the bishop, who has spent much of his adult life as a Vatican bureaucrat climbing the career ladder. It’s Sister Margaret, who like so many nuns has toiled for decades on behalf of the neediest and sickest among us.

I wish it were that simple. It's easy to say that the hospital should've been more flexible in this case. I would've voted with Sister Margaret. But Jesus preached about personal righteousness as well as peace and justice. The gospel and therefore the church are both about authority and love. The right balance was easy for Jesus to strike, less so for his imperfect followers. For instance, the Vatican's against capital punishment as well as abortion. Kristof is discomfited by its enforcement of dogma because it excommunicated Sister Margaret. But how would his column have read if the church had excommunicated a prison guard who participated in an execution?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Big Misery On Campus

Experts say college students are more stressed out than ever, because of their worries about declining opportunity after graduation, their student loans, their parents' unemployment, and the pressure they've been putting themselves under since high school. It's worse for young women than men:
“One aspect of it is how women and men spent their leisure time,” [UCLA's Linda Sax] said. “Men tend to find more time for leisure and activities that relieve stress, like exercise and sports, while women tend to take on more responsibilities, like volunteer work and helping out with their family, that don’t relieve stress.”

Nixon's Score? Neighborhood of 37

On its YouTube page, the Nixon library is having fun displaying video taken around the Nixon White House by military aides. This September 1971 clip (which has no sound), in which 37 shows international bowling champions his personal alley (removed by President Obama), is remarkable for being one of the few glimpses you'll get of Nixon without his suit coat.

One of the camera operators also shows special interest in his nervous hand gestures as he does his best to be a gracious if characteristically controlling host to perfect strangers. Remember that Nixon was deeply introverted. His anxiousness seems more obvious because we can't experience him holding the moment together with that commanding baritone of his.

Both he and the champions bowl a few times. A second camera evidently captured the results so that someday an editor could match them with the right bowlers. Two gutter balls and several spares. You decide.

Good News From Jerusalem

Jeffrey Goldberg and Hussein Ibish co-author a cautiously optimistic and comprehensive Middle East assessment:

We tend to forget, amid the welter of commentary about Palestinian incitement and Israeli belligerence, that we have recently seen startling shifts in both Israeli and Palestinian attitudes on the need for compromise. The Palestinian Authority government, led by President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, two of the most conscientious and sober-minded leaders the Palestinian people have had, continues to push forward a remarkable state-building program, and has been innovative in working against violence and incitement.

In Israel, the shift is also startling. Prime Minister Netanyahu — the leader of the Likud Party, which was previously the guardian of the ideology of territorial maximalism — has openly endorsed the creation of an independent Palestine. A majority of Knesset members plainly realize the necessity of a two-state solution. (Even Israel’s truculent foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has said that he was “ready to quit my settlement home to make peace.”)

Photo: Sea of Galilee

The Kobayashi Maru Test In Simi Valley

Writing at NixoNARA about a public radio documentary on presidential libraries, Maarja Krusten wonders about the appropriateness of an exhibit at the Reagan library that invites students to pretend they're participating in policy-making but blows a raspberry when they diverge from greatness:

[T]roubling on the audio clip is the Reagan library’s blaring, buzzing answer of WRONG!!! when a role-playing student decides in the "Oval Office" not to use large forces against Grenada and to abort the mission after news reports of an imminent invasion surface. The U.S. public largely supported the invasion and even some Democrats who initially opposed it later changed their minds. Yet the lesson at the Reagan presidential library should not be that deviating from the choice Reagan made was wrong. Instead, it should be a more neutral, "you chose this, here’s what Reagan chose under the same circumstances."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Strength Rooted In Collaboration

Last week, after Barack Obama visited Gabrielle Giffords' hospital room, three of her colleagues stayed behind, Rebecca Traister writes:
In addition to her husband and parents, three of Giffords’s colleagues stayed in her room after the president left: Pelosi, now the House minority leader; Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida; and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who has lately edged away from her own pro-gun politics by removing the rifles she once kept under her bed. As Gillibrand told CNN, Giffords was squeezing her hand while she talked about how they wanted to grab pizza and beer together, and Wasserman Schultz was promising a New Hampshire vacation when Giffords first opened her eyes, a moment that Wasserman Schultz compared to the birth of her children. In this tableau are embedded hints of other kinds of mythic female strength, rooted in collaboration, friendship and support.

Inside The Ramallah Beltway

Richard Nixon made a fetish of secrecy because, he said, he couldn't negotiate in open with the Soviets and Chinese with the Vietnam war going on. You can see his point as Palestinian leaders deal with the leak of documents purported to describe their 2008 negotiating positions on the status of east Jerusalem and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel. Though it's unclear whether the documents describe firm PNA positions, they definitely make the negotiators sound more generous than most Palestinians were inclined to be. The documents also make clear that the PNA was taking a hard line on Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

If there's going to be peace, obviously both sides will have to sell and spin some unpopular concessions. As Nixon understood while making nice with communist China and Russia, premature revelations can make a regime look weak, feckless, or shrewd, depending on your perspective. To the extent that this leak makes the Palestinians look bad, some naturally blame the Israelis, but veteran U.S. Middle East hand Robert M. Danin disagrees:
The documents were apparently provided to Al Jazeera by disgruntled Palestinians who set out to harm the PLO leadership and their peaceful path toward realizing Palestinian national goals. The Qatar-based satellite network has played along, insinuating that the documents show that the Palestinian leadership has proved weak and willing to capitulate to Israeli desires. On the documents pertaining to Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, it laments that Palestinian negotiators "gave away almost everything to the Israelis, without pressuring them for concessions or compromise."
Call the Nixon plumbers, because Danin wants Al Jazeera held responsible for trying to derail the peace talks. Perhaps the only good news is that malcontents are resorting to press leaks instead of another intifada, though they may hope the former leads to the latter. Time for good moderates to man up again. It actually looks like they're getting somewhere, much to the distress of the enemies of peace.

Photos from last week's St. John's pilgrimage: Cafe conversation in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City and men on the street in east Jerusalem

Monday, January 24, 2011

The End Of Christians In The Holy Land

Marty Peretz says radical Muslims want Christians to leave the Middle East:
There are various depopulating processes now going on against Christians virtually everywhere in the Muslim Middle East, including notably Bethlehem where Jesus was born, this particular end-stage of religious history having started when Yassir Arafat's authority took over. And the truth is that nobody cares much about Armenian, Greek or Roman Catholic Christians. Yes, like they didn't care about the Jews. Maybe it is not quite a Holocaust. O.K., no damn exaggerations. It is just a catastrophe, a human, historical, demographic, religious catastrophe.
Photo: Mass in St. Jerome chapel, Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, January 2011

"Lights," The Jayhawks

With Victoria Williams

Hat tip to No Depression

The Worst Airport Security, Except For The Others

Writing in the aftermath of the Moscow murders, Jeffrey Goldberg on one of the world's safest airports:
I think Ben-Gurion airport in Israel has a decent system. All people going to the airport -- in taxis, cars and buses -- have to pass through a checkpoint a couple of miles away from the main terminal. When you get to the main terminal, plainclothes security officers are everywhere, looking for suspicious behavior.
Yes, I know, having shepherded 28 fellow St. John's pilgrims through the process on Saturday evening. What's unique, at least in my experience, is that you go through security before you check in as well as after. Moments after we'd entered the terminal, each of us had been interviewed, out of the hearing of the others, and asked a series of questions about our luggage and whether we'd been given any gifts while in Israel.

After our bags were examined by a machine, most of us were sent to have at least one bag opened and inspected. When one of our pilgrims had made it all the way to the check-in desk, she casually asked me if it was okay that she had packed some items for another pilgrim who'd run out of space in her suitcase. We were evidently overheard by a plainclothes officer. A couple of seconds later, she was directed back to secondary, where she had to unpack her luggage item by item.

As I think everyone knows, the Ben Gurion system is based on profiling. Arab friends say it takes them at least two hours to clear security, every time. Sometimes they're subjected to strip searches. Absolutely nobody likes that. But everybody likes a safe airport. Not that it would ever fly politically (unless the U.S. suffers another catastrophic attack), but the Israeli approach at U.S. airports would cost the TSA up to $150 billion more a year.

One thing about Ben Gurion's system for checking people and their carry-on baggage: You don't have to shed shoes and belts or go through a body scan. Either the Israelis have cooler machines, or they're more casual at the second stage because of the thoroughness of the pre-check-in process.

The Short Distance From Normal To Crisis

Cory Trenda, who worships at St. John's with his wife, Janet, has been all over the world doing ministry and raising money for World Vision. It all came home to him on Jan. 11 as he read the final pages of the relief agency's donor update on the first anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti:
Infant feeding practices needed to be addressed as many mothers were suffering from stress and struggled to breast-feed. Training sessions helped to improve breast-feeding practices and nutrition for children and pregnant or lactating mothers. World Vision Mother’s Clubs offered supplementary feeding and nutrition counseling to women and children suffering from malnutrition, benefiting more than 5,000 women every month.

Janet and I spent much of the past weekend with our daughter, who is preparing to have her first child. (Our Christmas gift from Karey and her husband was a chance to join them for a 3-D ultrasound, which we did Saturday!) Karey is doing all the right reading, getting counsel from other moms, and Janet even bought her favorite book about breastfeeding for Karey. Karey wants the best for her son, as every mother should, and she's preparing for the usual apprehensions and challenges, including those related to breastfeeding.

But I don’t think she’s preparing for the possibility of a devastating earthquake impacting her ability to breastfeed.
Cory provides his moving refections by e-mail. If you're interested in getting them, please write to me at or leave a comment on this post.

Max Kennedy And The Cone Of Silence

My predecessor as Nixon library director, Hugh Hewitt, attracted intense and undesirable national attention for saying that journalist Bob Woodward wouldn't be welcome to consult our archival materials because he wasn't a "legitimate researcher." I was then Richard Nixon's chief of staff. Nixon had me call and say that while he appreciated the thought behind the anathema Hewitt had pronounced, he should lift it pronto.

Now we learn that the Kennedy library and one of Robert F. Kennedy's sons, Max, is blocking access to the late attorney general's papers. Among other things, scholars are eager to learn what Kennedy knew and when he knew it about plans to try to assassinate Cuba's Fidel Castro. According to John Tierney, writing at James Fallows' blog*, when a Boston Globe reporter contacted Max Kennedy to find out why this rich cache of materials is still in Steven Spielberg's federal warehouse with the Ark of the Covenant, here's what resulted:
[C]lassic stonewalling -- some blather about scholars with "poorly conceived projects" who fail to follow "correct procedures" to seek permission to consult the papers.
We'll see if the Kennedys have more luck with that line than we did. Of course in this case there may be nothing anyone can do, since all the Kennedy records were considered private property according to pre-Watergate archival practice. Still, Tierney writes:
The Kennedys don't deserve this attention and adulation if they're not willing to be open with the truth, if they remain intent on having the public see only the attractive side of Robert Kennedy's legacy. They don't deserve the unstinting praise and the undying devotion if they're not willing to come clean. If they were to do so, they might deserve the attention that comes their way now by constant management and manipulation of the family image.
*I originally erred in writing that James Fallows was the author.

Who's Inciteful Now?

While abroad (do people say that anymore?), I read many references to the logical incoherence of Sarah Palin's post-Jan. 8 defense, but for the record, here's Amy Sullivan's at TIME:
While lashing out at the idea that her "lock and load" rhetoric could contribute to any act of violence, Palin decried "irresponsible statements" and insisted that "each individual is accountable for his [or her] actions." She characterized critics of her as guilty of "a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn." Again, I'm a bit slow here. But let me see if I understand this. Palin's words are obviously just words and could never ever influence anyone's actions. But the words of her critics are irresponsibly provocative and have the power "to incite hatred and violence"?
I think Palin jumped the shark over Thanksgiving 2010, when she went to war on the first lady's anti-obesity campaign. But I've been wrong before, such as when I wrote that candidate Barack Obama's high water mark was his May 2008 speech in Berlin.

What Lies Behind Love And Hate

Being on pilgrimage in Jerusalem -- God's city 0f peace, his people's city of war -- kept me from commenting much on politicians' differing reactions to the Jan. 8 Tucson attacks. But I've read nothing more apropos that Maarja Krusten's reflections at NixonNARA about the president's eloquent speech on Jan. 12:

Love, friendship, pride in mission, many positive elements bond people. And sometimes, unfortunately, so do hate and resentment and grievance. I’ve often wondered about people who exude a sense of "I can only be somebody if I consider you to be nobody." The President of the United States reminded us yesterday that that is not the only way to roll. The thing to do is to think about what lies behind both love and hate and to remember that there are many ways to show love of family, friends, colleagues, and country.

Sounding Flutes In Jericho

Pilgrim Andy snapped this photo of my duet with a merchant in Jericho during our recent St. John's pilgrimage. The walls may not have come tumbling down, but I think a pilgrim or two plugged her ears. Pilgrim Kathy was especially pleased that I've acquired a new instrument!

Here Endeth The Lesson

Former Orange County sheriff Mike Carona, convicted of jury tampering in 2009 and sentenced to five and a half years in prison by my St. John's friend Andy Guilford, is turning himself in at a federal correctional institution in Colorado, probably today.

Kennedy's Dirty Tricks?

While the Episconixonian jury is still out on Mark Feldstein and his new book about Richard Nixon and Jack Anderson -- the author questionably asserted during a radio interview that Nixon had pocketed $100,000 from Howard Hughes -- this Feldstein article alleging campaign shenanigans against Nixon in 1960 deserves a look:
In one of the least-known chapters of 20th-century political history, Kennedy operatives secretly paid off an informant and set in motion a Watergate-like burglary that sabotaged Nixon's campaign on the eve of the election.
Hat tip to Mick Guilford

iPadding The Books

Apple may understand the way people like to buy music these days, but it doesn't understand readers. When reading this excerpt from a recent New York Times article, remember that from Amazon you can get a monthly Kindle subscription to "The New Yorker" (four issues) for $2.99:

Many applications cost almost as much as a printed copy of a magazine, a difficult concept for consumers to get their heads around considering that a paper product is more expensive to assemble and distribute than an electronic version of a magazine. The New Yorker, for example, costs $4.99 an issue in Apple’s App Store but $5.99 on the newsstand. Esquire is also $4.99 an issue, the same as the cover price on the newsstand.

Subscriptions are another sticking point. A vast majority of magazines available on the iPad must be bought per copy. Customers cannot subscribe and have it delivered as they can with other publications available on the iPad like The Economist, The Wall Street Journal or The Daily, the News Corporation’s new iPad-only venture that is to begin within the next few weeks. That means if consumers want to receive the magazine regularly, they would have to pay far above normal subscription rates.

“Sheer highway robbery,” read one recent comment about The New Yorker in the App Store. “I’ll keep with my paper subscription. I will never pay $250 per year for an app."

"China Goes To Nixon": Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman on China's Nixon initiative:
China has been using a weak currency to keep its wages and prices low in dollar terms; market forces have responded by pushing those wages and prices up, eroding that artificial competitive advantage. Some estimates I’ve heard suggest that at current rates of inflation, Chinese undervaluation could be gone in two or three years — not soon enough, but sooner than many expected....

[F]or whatever reason — the power of export interests, refusal to do anything that looks like giving in to U.S. demands or sheer inability to think clearly — [Chinese leaders are] not willing to deal with the root cause and let their currency rise. Instead, they are trying to control inflation by raising interest rates and restricting credit.

This is destructive from a global point of view: with much of the world economy still depressed, the last thing we need is major players pursuing tight-money policies. More to the point from China’s perspective, however, is that it’s not working. Credit limits are proving hard to enforce and are being further undermined by inflows of hot money from abroad.

With efforts to cool the economy falling short, China has been trying to limit inflation with price controls — a policy that rarely works. In particular, it’s a policy that failed dismally the last time it was tried here, during the Nixon administration. (And, yes, this means that right now China is going to Nixon.)

The Inevitability Of Palestinian Statehood?

The Palestinians' chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said Sunday, "A Palestinian state is coming, with 1967 borders and with a capital in east Jerusalem, and Israel cannot stop it anymore."