The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    Michael Wolraich's picture

    A Real, Real Alternative for President(s)

    There has been much heated discussion in these pages over whether liberals should support President Obama in the 2012 elections or embrace an independent candidate. In the absence of any credible challenger, these debates have been largely hypothetical. That is about to change.

    I am happy to introduce two exciting new candidates who have emerged from the political muck like avenging swamp monsters from outer space. What they lack in experience, charisma, good judgment, and the semblance of any political agenda, they more than make up for in the intangible quality that some call panache, some call chutzpah, and some aren't quite sure what to call. I give you Kat Nove and Jeni Decker.

    Ramona's picture

    Black Friday as Myth-Buster


    After the Thanksgiving Day gluttony is over and after our teams have either won or lost (Our biggie between the Lions and the Packers went horribly awry for my loved ones, poor dears.) and after we've taken our tryptophan-induced naps, the next fun thing to think about, talk about or plan for is Black Friday, our annual Big Huge Shopping Extravaganza.  It's the day when primitive survival skills kick in and the absolutely-must-haves traditionally

    William K. Wolfrum's picture

    Libertarianism: The "Human Centipede" of political ideologies

    There are no great libertarian thinkers. Libertarianism is the absence of thought.

    Lately, libertarianism has gained some weird popularity in the U.S. Sort of like Garbage Pail Kids did, but more offensive and less intellectual. Somehow, a growing group of maniacs has decided that things like paying taxes and making sure their handicapped grandma doesn’t die is an affront to their personal liberty.

    Donal's picture

    Too Big to Ballad

    Paul Solman interviewed former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson on the PBS News Hour this evening. I often read Johnson and James Kwak at their blog, Baseline Scenario. Towards the end Solman and his cohost urged viewers to watch this video, The Ballad of Diamond Jim on Youtube.

    The video is annotated by Solman and Johnson below. 

    Donal's picture

    Andy Murray's on a roll

    Andy Murray hasn't lost a match since the US Open. He led Great Britain over Hungary in Davis Cup, beat Donald Young to win Bangkok, beat Rafa Nadal to win Tokyo, and just defeated David Ferrer 7-5, 6-4 to win the Shanghai Open - worth 1000 points - and now replaces Roger Federer as World #3.

    But it may be part of a plot:

    Ramona's picture

    FRIDAY FOLLIES: Wagons and Trailers and Planes! Oh My!


    Bob Dalrymple and his girlfriend, Kathy Neal, are leaving Michigan and heading for Colorado, because, Bob says, the economy's suffering, the winters in Michigan are too cold and it's time for adventure.  He wants to go someplace warm.  That's what he says.  His two kids live in Colorado, but apparently they've neglected to tell him there's a reason crowds of retired Snowbirds aren't descending on the Centennial State.  It's snowy and blu

    Ramona's picture

    FRIDAY FOLLIES: On Jesus toasters, Gray Panthers, Raging Grannies, and Fun with Medicare


    WARNING:  Hot graven images ahead.  Turn back if you believe Jesus' image on toast should remain a miracle and not be used as a promotion by clever, sacrilegious Vermonters for a Made in China toaster.  (It's International Blasphemy Rights Day today but I swear I didn't know that when I chose this segment.  Not that I'm not okay with it.  I am.)

    Ramona's picture

    FRIDAY FOLLIES: On Butter, Blankets, and Beauty. Then There's That Cartoon.


    I can't believe it's not butter!  In Wisconsin there is a law on the books that forbids restaurants, schools, hospitals and prisons from serving margarine instead of butter.  This weaker version of a 1897 law has been on the dairy state's books for 44 years but most restaurants can get around it, since the interpretation of the law these days is that if a customer asks for margarine it's okay to give it to them.  No mention of how the margarine is delivered to table -- in plain sight or disguised as something else.  (The bovine version of "Don't ask

    Ramona's picture

    FRIDAY FOLLIES: Tea Party Games, Rabid dogs, Sweet Old Fools, and Stories that Soothe.


     I swear, the weirdest thing going last week was the Tea Party debate hosted by Ted Turner's brainchild gone wild.  (When I heard that the once-venerable CNN was going to give free air-time and thus a large dose of credibility to yet another crazy bunch hell-bent on taking back every single right and privilege afforded us by hundreds of years worth of struggle by our more forward-thinking ancestors, this is what I said out loud:  "Waaaaaahhhhhtt??"  (Mo

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Republicans Reject Obama-Boehner Speech Deal

    In a stormy meeting on Thursday, Tea Party Republicans in the House of Representatives rejected Speaker John Boehner's compromise with President Obama over the schedule of the President's speech to a joint session of Congress.

    The White House had sent Mr. Boehner a request for President Obama to address Congress on the evening of Wednesday, September 7. Such requests are considered routine and have been approved 47 times since 1962 without challenge.

    But in the volatile political climate of 2011, nothing can be taken for granted. Many Tea Party-affiliated Republicans had campaigned against wasteful speechmaking in the 2010 election, and 216 had signed a "No New Speeches" contract sponsored by Grover Norquist's fundraising organization, Americans for Talk Reform.

    "Americans don't need more speeches," argued House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in an hour-long discourse from the House floor last week, "They want the folks in Washington to shut the heck up."

    Ramona's picture

    Friday Follies: On Kardashian, Condi, Lust, Larceny and Love in the Air

    How jealous are we of that lavish, over-the-top Royal Wedding the Brits got to celebrate this year?  So pathetically jealous we had to pretend we're capable of having one of our own by latching onto the lavish, over-the-top Kim Kardashian-Kris Humphries wedding.

    Donal's picture

    The Quiz and the Experiment

    The Quiz

    We love our Dark and Stormy night writing contests, but the New Yorker points to a Bulwer or Dickens quiz that is a lot harder than it sounds:

    Ramona's picture

    FRIDAY FOLLIES: The Worst Writer Ever, Abercrombie's scam, and the Eagle Has Landed


    A few weeks ago, when I wrote about the Bulwer-Lytton contest for the worst first sentence of a novel, I had no idea there was actually a worst novel in the world, too.  The consensus, from what little research I've done on the subject, is that Amanda McKittrick Ros is the author who wins, hands down.  (A literary group that included Tolkien and C.S.

    Ramona's picture

    Political Tiddly-Winks in Iowa. The Corn Dog Won


    Good God and Lordy, people, is there anything more ludicrous on the political scene than what happens in Iowa whenever the Republicans don't have a Grand Poobah candidate for President?  This year it was a big barbecue in Ames where just under 17,000 people 16 1/2 years old and over got to pay their $30 to "vote" for a candidate and then party afterward.  Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul were the "winners".  And, not surprisingly, the emperor wore no clothes.

    Ramona's picture

    FRIDAY FOLLIES: Bachmann's look, Mitt's People, and the Artistry of the All-seeing Blind.


    Michele Bachmann was on Newsweek's cover this week and editor Tina Brown swears to all who will listen that Bachmann's bizarre cross-eyed skyward gaze was meant only to "capture her intensity".  About the crossed-eyes, Tina says she doesn't see it.  She honestly doesn't know what all the fuss is about.  (Cough, choke, gasp, gag.)

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Welcome to the Republican Christian Olympics

    When Gov. Rick Perry of Texas called for a day of prayer and fasting in Houston, world-famous televangelist John Hagee answered enthusiastically.

    "We pray for our governor, Rick Perry," he gruffly proclaimed, "who has had the courage today to call this time of fasting and prayer just as Abraham Lincoln did in the darkest days of the Civil War."

    When Perry officially launches his presidential campaign this weekend, he will not be the only Republican candidate to carry the banner of Christian piety. The presidential pre-primary season has not featured so many brave Christian Abraham Lincolns since the days of Abraham Lincoln himself.

    Read the full story at

    Ramona's picture

    FRIDAY FOLLIES: on Purple Prose, Mangy Mutts, Smokey Sunsets and R-E-S-P-E-C-T

    Every year I think about entering a sentence in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, but it always happens after I've seen the announcement of that year's winner.   This particular contest is like a "Worst Fiction in the World" contest, where contestants have to come up with an opening sentence for an imaginary novel that is worse, or at least comparable to, Edward George Bulwer-Lytton's first sentence of his 1830 novel, Paul Clifford (and the first line of many of Snoopy's unfinished novels).

    Ramona's picture

    FRIDAY FOLLIES: On the Palin Docudramody, the Cantor uninvite, and Will Rogers' finest moments

     All alone, I'm so all alone...  When the Sarah Palin docudromedy "The Undefeated" debuted last week, Conor Friedersdorf happened to be visiting his parents in All Red All the Time Orange County.  He went to see the Sarah movie hoping to interview Sarah fans to find out what the hell they're thinking.  Except he didn't find any.  In fact, he didn't find anyone at all--hardly.  He

    Ramona's picture

    FRIDAY FOLLIES: The Arresting truth about Orlando Cops, Vegetables, Bachmann, and the Sublime Ruby Bridges


    I guess you've heard that the Orlando police have been busy arresting people from Orlando Food, not Bombs who have been busy feeding the hungry and the homeless in the city's public parks.  That was a big story in itself, but the even bigger story was that, among the protesters, there was one lone supporter of the police.  He prefers to remain anonymous, but he's pretty clear about why he's s


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