American Culture

Nota Bene #44

Link of the Week (as opposed to the Weakest Link):

From a McClatchy blog, on something called the Reverse Bradley Effect: “. . . a new study today says that polls may be UNDERestimating Barack Obama’s support by 3 percent to 4 percent nationally [in] a reversal of the so-called Bradley effect, in which support for African-American candidates is overstated when people talk to pollsters but then vote against the candidate in the privacy of the polling booth. ‘If you call people on the phone today and ask who they will vote for, some will give responses influenced by what may be understood locally as the more desirable response,’ [psychologist Anthony] Greenwald said.” And then, apparently, vote for who they want.

New York Times columnist Gail Collins on McCain’s hyper-aggressive campaign strategy of recent weeks: “Now, he’s beginning to act like one of those movie characters who steals the wrong ring and turns into a troll. During that last debate, while he was wandering around the stage, you almost expected to hear him start muttering: ‘We wants it. We needs it. Must have the precious.'”

Nathan Thornburgh of Time magazine on Troopergate: “In the report, the head of Gov. Palin’s security detail says that Todd [Palin] spent about half of his time in the governor’s office — not at a desk (he didn’t have one), but at a long conference table on one side of the office, with his own phone to make and receive calls. It became a shadow office, the informal Department of Getting Mike Wooten Fired.” [Emphasis added.]

Jonathan Raban at the London Review of Books: “Like Wally the Green Monster, Baxter the Bobcat, the Mariner Moose and other giant furry creatures who accompany major-league baseball teams from game to game, Palin is the adored mascot of the anti-fiscal crowd. Her actual performance as mayor and governor counts for little beside her capacity to keep the fans happy during the intervals between play.”

Gail Collins again: “When I was a college student, I believe I attended a party with Bernardine Dohrn [Bill Ayers’s wife]. This was pre-Weather, when Dohrn was a leader of the Students for a Democratic Society. … under the new rules, I believe I may now be held partly responsible for all of Dohrn’s misdeeds, including aggravated battery, bail jumping, the Days of Rage and unreadable political tracts.”

Joe Klein at Time: “I’m of two minds about how to deal with the McCain campaign’s further descent into ugliness. Their strategy is simple: you throw crap against a wall and then giggle as the media try to analyze the putresence in a way that conveys a sense of balance: ‘Well, it is bull-pucky, but the splatter pattern is interesting…'”

From a Salon article about the Republicans’ sinking fortunes in N.C. by Mike Madden: Elizabeth Dole stood on the track at Lowe’s Motor Speedway Saturday night, a few minutes before NASCAR’s Bank of America 500 got started, and looked up at the stage. … Jessica Simpson was getting ready to sing the national anthem. And evidently, Dole had no idea who she was. ‘The young lady who is singing was over [there] practicing a minute ago,’ Dole said, an expression of pity on her face. ‘God bless her heart.'”

David Frum at National Review Online: “We conservatives are sending a powerful, inadvertent message with this negative campaign against Barack Obama’s associations and former associations: that we lack a positive agenda of our own and that we don’t care about the economic issues that are worrying American voters.”

Harold Wolfson at his New Republic blog: “John McCain’s candidacy is as much a casualty of Wall Street as Lehman or Merrill. Like those once vibrant institutions, McCain’s collapse was stunning and quick. One minute you are a well-respected brand. The next you are yelling at the messengers of your demise as all around you the numbers start blinking red and stop adding up.”

Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone on “The Return of Rove“: “He survives because an increasing number of Americans secretly agree with Rove’s vision of rules, laws and ‘the truth’ as quaint, faintly embarrassing rituals that only a sucker would let hold him back.” Also, we think of lying by top officials as giving us license to lie.

At USAGold, Michael Kosares writes about “The Big Bail-Out of 2008“: “You always know that things are getting dicey in financial markets when the press begins to belittle gold owners. A few days ago the Financial Times editorialized that “some retail depositors are so spooked as to turn to gold, not as an investment, but [God forbid] as a store of value. … What’s next? Baked beans?” I would remind Financial Times that gold owners [are] Main Street, dear editor. … The very same people that Wall Street just asked for a bailout.”

Tom Engelhardt of Tom Dispatch: “In the last year, the Bush administration’s top officials have sunk much of their increasingly lame-duck energy into pacifying Iraq. . . at least long enough for election ’08 to happen. … And then what happens? The administration is ambushed, not by Sunni militants or Shiite radicals but by its own people: investment bankers, lenders, hedge-fund managers, financial management types.”

Kosares again at USA Gold: “The ultimate question becomes: Who will bail out the federal government if it goes the route of Fannie and Freddie, AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers?”

In the New York Times, Robert Kaplan asks, “Manhunt or a Vital War?“: “If we did, by chance, capture or kill Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, would Afghanistan still matter? … Is the war in Afghanistan, deep down, anything more than a manhunt for a handful of individuals?”

Tracie Cone at Huffington Post on how Mexican marijuana cartels use US park land for their farms: “People light up a joint, and they have no idea the amount of environmental damage associated with it,” said Cicely Muldoon, deputy regional director of the Pacific West Region of the National Park Service. … Agent Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Game estimated that 1.5 pounds of fertilizers and pesticides is used for every 11.5 plants. … “You ain’t just smoking pot, bud. You’re smoking some heavy-duty pesticides from Mexico.”


In’s Monday Morning Quarterback Peter King writes about the New York Giants center: “O’Hara couldn’t say enough good things about Manning. . . ‘Sometimes,’ O’Hara said, ‘Eli calls three plays in the huddle, and he’ll read the defense at the line and, depending on what he sees, he calls one.'”

Gary Myers of the Daily News quotes the Giants middle linebacker Antonio Pierce his team’s improbable playoff run last year: “There are a lot of teams that wish they could have fluked last year.”

2 replies »

  1. Thanks,

    I wrote a response to the Mexican cartel post under an alias at the HuffPo. Some of what was said in the article was utter BS. In particular: the hybridization of marijuana has extended its range. Cannabis has the widest geographical spread of just about any plant. For a variety of reasons, i could argue that it may well have been the first plant domesticated by man. What has “extended its range” is actually the profit motive. (the only determining factor for growing it to produce marijuana is two months of warm enough weather during which time the days are not longer than 12 hours)

    This is a case where the free market would solve the problem most efficiently. The cartels wouldn’t be tearing up national parks/forests if the profit margin wasn’t astronomical. The profit margin wouldn’t be astronomical if the government did not spend so much money trying to contract supply.

    This is also happening in California, where the DEA recently argued (and won on) that cultivation of industrial hemp could be used to hide illicit marijuana. The judge defied all horticultural logic. Marijuana is unpollinated flowers of the female plant; pollination equals seeds and the kids may be willing to smoke pesticides, but they aren’t willing to pay for seeds. Industrial hemp production does not cull male plants, as it would be time consuming and pointless when the plant is grown for tall stalks to make fiber. (Or even for the seed if it’s a food crop.) So not only would it be next to impossible to hide marijuana in a hemp field, but the nature of pollen is to spread. No dope grower would put a marijuana field anywhere near a hemp field. That is, hemp would be the most cost efficient method of curbing marijuana growing.

    This issue is covered with so much disinformation that only the splatter pattern is really interesting.

    *The way you can be sure that George Washington was a high-on is his telling journal entry wherein he chastises himself for not culling the males from his hemp field before they flowered. George wanted unpollinated female flowers, and there’s only one reason for that. The father of our country either liked getting a little insane in the membrane or he was using it as a pain medication…or both.

  2. Thanks, Lex. Its illegality remains a national scandal. Interesting about George Washington.