UNESCO declares Church of the Nativity a World Heritage Site; Israel and the US throw a tantrum.

How does one even begin to respond to this:

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israel and the United States blasted the UN cultural agency Friday after it recognized holy sites in the city of Bethlehem by adding them to a world heritage list.

“This is proof that UNESCO is motivated by political and not cultural considerations,” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement following the decision.

“Instead of taking steps to promote peace, the Palestinians are acting unilaterally, which makes peace more distant,” Reuters quoted the statement as saying.

…The US ambassador to UNESCO, David Killion, said he was “profoundly disappointed by the decision”.

The birthplace of the baby Jesus has been declared a World Heritage Site, and because the people who asked UNESCO to do it were Palestinians, it’s a unilateral move motivated by anti-Israel sentiment that “makes peace more distant.” The birthplace of the baby Jesus. 


There are not enough desks in this world for me to :: headdesk :: upon.

But don’t forget kids! Settlements are not the problem. They don’t “make peace more distant,” like, at all.

h/t Maan News Agency

Oh fine, I’ll just call it then: An open thread.

Here we are again, gathered in the Student Lounge. Horde, have your say!

Standard FYI clause: I generally wait for 2 hours after Ta-Nehisi would usually open a thread (roughly noon, EST), and if none is forthcoming, I put one up here.

Capital H History, courtesy of President Obama.

I don’t have a lot of what might be termed “time” today, but I have just been overwhelmed with a sense of the kind of history we’re living through in this country.

We have seen a lot of mess and unpleasantry in recent years, it’s true. The attacks on the rights of women to reproductive choice are a genuine step backward, even if (I believe) a temporary one. The struggle to give individual human beings the same say in the workings of our society as we’ve given corporations is far, far from over. Islamophobia remains an unambiguous blight on our collective conscience.

But dude.


Look at what else is going on! Look at the tides that are turning around us, even as we take stock of the horizon!

These things — these three things — are nation changing. Our children and grandchildren will learn about them and not understand why they still bring tears to our eyes, because they will take them for granted. They will not understand the words “pre-existing condition,” they will not understand why Uncle Joe’s wedding was such a big deal, and they will look at 200+ years of white, male Presidential portraits with smug derision.

And notably, the latter two items on my list are the direct result of the first.

I have said before, and will no doubt say again, that I do not always agree with this President and he has, on more than one occasion, disappointed me. But I can say that about everyone else, ever, in politics and in my life. Today, I genuinely don’t care.

This President has changed our country, and pretty significantly for the better.

Capital H History, baby. That’s where we live right now.

Open Thread for non-ACA matters (and those, too!).

Ta-Nehisi has an epic thread up where folks are discussing the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act – I thought some might like a smaller venue as well, and/or a place to talk about LOLcats and the EuroCup (as but two examples).

Standard FYI clause: I generally wait for 2 hours after Ta-Nehisi would usually open a thread (roughly noon, EST), and if none is forthcoming, I put one up here.

Dear America: Are you effing kidding me with this?

Thanks to Twitter and Matt Duss (National Security Policy Analyst for the Center for American Progress) I now know this, and now you have to know it too:


You know what, I’m sure that both Michelle Obama and Ann Romney are terrific bakers. Unparalleled, maybe. It’s possible that their life-partners are as well — I hear tell that the menfolk have lately studied the map and found both pantry and oven in these topsy-turvy modern times — and lord knows, I am all about a nice cookie. I happen to favor chocolate chips over M&Ms in this area, but I have no great love for the abomination that is “white chocolate,” so I’ll probably stick with my own recipe, thankyouverymuch. Also? I like a nice, chewy oatmeal-raisin.

But oh my God. Oh my God! Are we really still doing this? In the 21st century? Are we really still acting like the wives of candidates need to play the role of Harriet to the candidates’ Ozzie? That America needs to believe that the First Lady is our mom? That all Humans In Possession Of Ovaries are, by-definition, Good In The Kitchen?

I don’t know a lot about Ann Romney, but according to her husband’s campaign website, she’s been pretty heavily involved in some pretty good charities: “As First Lady of MA, she continued her work on behalf of disadvantaged women and children in her community and abroad… has volunteered much of her time to raise awareness of [Multiple Sclerosis] as a Board Member of the New England Chapter of the MS Society… One of her priorities within the United Way has been as initiator, co-chair and now member of the Faith & Action Comte, a coalition that provides funding to urban church programs designed to serve at-risk youth….” So on and so forth.

And Michelle Obama? Such a good lawyer that she’s the one they picked to train the newbie who would become her husband and ultimately our President.

I would suggest that rather than pit these two accomplished women against each other in a benighted bake-off that we conduct a series of interviews with them, together and apart, to learn their thoughts on matters such as at-risk youth and intellectual property law (one of Ms. Obama’s areas) — or, we could just, you know: Stop pretending the spouses have anything to do with it.

I AM AN AMERICAN VOTER, HEAR ME ROAR: I vote not for a family, not for a pretend mommy, not for a dog gamboling about the lawn (however cute Bo may be), and not for whoever manages to best meet some outmoded, useless, and ultimately damaging set of cultural expectations of female-vs-male behaviors. I VOTE FOR THE GORRAM CANDIDATE.

Honest to God, America. Cut it the fuck out.

When a Josh needs an Open Thread.

Ok Josh, I’m caving. Only 13 minutes early, but early is early, man!

C’est yours….

Standard FYI clause: I generally wait for 2 hours after Ta-Nehisi would usually open a thread (roughly noon, EST), and if none is forthcoming, I put one up here.

People still suck/People can grow.

So. I’ve been rooting about in the bad news/good news department — you know, like you do — and have uncovered incontrovertible evidence that people still suck, alongside undeniable evidence that people can grow. I will leave you to determine, within the limitations of your own, personal opti/pessimeter, if we are best advised to draw hope or despair from the following. Perhaps a soupçon of both?

People still suck

It’s never a bad idea to be occasionally reminded that old-school antisemitism is still a thing. To wit:

Iran’s vice president used the lectern of an international antidrug conference [in Tehran] Tuesday to deliver a baldly anti-Semitic speech, blaming Judaism’s holy book, the Talmud, for teaching how to suck blood from people and for causing the spread of illegal drugs around the world.


According to Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi, Judaism’s central text, the Talmud (in which the Torah’s laws are expounded, explained, and commented upon) teaches those who follow it to “destroy everyone who opposes the Jews.” Furthermore, Rahimi says, “Zionists” run the international drug trade, adding

The Islamic Republic of Iran will pay for anybody who can research and find one single Zionist who is an addict. They do not exist. This is the proof of their involvement in drugs trade.

(Does one even bother to mention Israeli/Jewish drug addicts in this context? Or does one just move on?)

And, just to wrap it all up in a brightly delusional bow, Rahimi also talked about

gynecologists killing black babies on the orders of the Zionists and claimed that the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 was started by the Jews, adding that mysteriously no Jews died in that uprising.

So, you know. That happened.


People can grow

The Pentagon for the first time celebrated gay pride in a modest but emotional ceremony Tuesday, less than a year after the US military lifted a ban on homosexuals serving openly in uniform.

In a packed hall, a top defense official said the repeal of the the prohibition has gone ahead without any major problems and a panel of gay service members spoke about how much had changed after years of having to hide their sexual orientation under the former “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.

A year ago, Marine Captain Matthew Phelps said he was “in the closet,” taking pains to conceal his homosexuality.

“I was at a point in my career that if anyone had found out that I was gay… I could have lost my job,” he told the audience.

This month, the Marine officer was invited to a reception at the White House honoring gay pride.

President Obama delivered taped remarks at the event — the very same President who on June 1 issued a Pride Month proclamation which he opened by citing the heroes of Stonewall, and ended thusly:

As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

So. That happened too.

And, I’m glad to report that the New York Times also reported that not everyone in Tehran was thrilled with the vice president’s remarks:

One Shiite Muslim cleric, a judge, said that he was appalled by the speech. The judge, who also requested anonymity because of his sensitive position, said the world must ignore Mr. Rahimi and he hoped that Mr. Rahimi and Mr. Ahmadinejad would disappear after the presidential elections in 2013. “We all need to be patient for some more months.”

I’mma let the needle on my opti/pessimeter lean a smidge to the “opti” side today.

Ties that bind: The occupation and social justice.

My latest at Open Zion/The Daily Beast:

Over at +972 Ami Kaufman takes issue with those of us who advocate for an end to occupation, support Israel’s social protest movement, and marshal as one of our arguments the fact that occupation and settlement are pretty expensive endeavors (an argument I made here).

Kaufman writes:

Every once in a while you’ll hear someone say that the occupation costs us so much money. Money that could have gone to health, education, infrastructure and whatever.

Well, the question in itself is, how to say…stupid.

“Stupid”…! Well, I would take umbrage (a thing at which I excel), but for the fact that Kaufman makes some excellent points.

To continue reading, please click here….

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, / Slouches towards an Open Thread to be born

Sullying the good name of WB Yeats – that’s what I’m talkin’ bout!

Other than that, it’s yours….

Standard FYI clause: I generally wait for 2 hours after Ta-Nehisi would usually open a thread (roughly noon, EST), and if none is forthcoming, I put one up here.

Abraham Lincoln as he was.

I am not a fan of colorization.

When Ted Turner raised the specter of “colorizing” Hollywood classics back in the day (I’m pretty sure “the day” here refers to the early-mid 1980s), I was horrified. Scandalized. You do not take an artist’s work and scribble on it with your magic markers, because you think it might make you some money. Just: No.

However, I am an enormous fan of found-color-photography, such as these stunning photos out of a Wyoming internment camp for Japanese Americans or these equally stunning shots of small-town American life, circa 1939-1943 — that is, color photography that few people guessed existed, and which provide us a much better glimpse into the lives that people actually lived.

And then I recently found a colorized picture of our sixteenth President, and it did my head in.

I’ve seen colorized photographs of Abraham Lincoln before, and my response has always been — Just: No.

Either he looked like someone had applied rouge, or I felt someone was essentially making fashion choices for someone they’d never met, or – whatever. Just: No.

But something about the subdued, very realistic rendering of the coloring of his face and hair, and the fact that his suit has been left a crisp (and, by my lights, appropriate) black had me just staring at this picture, and suddenly seeing everything I know about Lincoln in color. His wife, his children, his walk to his law office in Springfield, the drapes in the White House. It made him – bigger, somehow. Fuller. More real? More real. Because that Legendary Lincoln we’ve built lives in black and white — but Lincoln lived in color.

So anyway, here’s the shot – I’ve printed it out, and it now hangs right next to my desk. I wish I could hear his voice, too.

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