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Uncertain Principles

Physics, Politics, Pop Culture

Saturday, October 04, 2003

The Electric Church

A whole week of nothing but political comments. Wow. I suck.

In the interest of pushing this weblog back in the general direction of its usual frivolity, here's a mix tape post. I actually typed the song list and comments up months ago, but it languished on Blogger as a draft, waiting for a time when I needed something frivolous to post, but didn't have time to type up a post.

Now is that time. (Parents coming to visit, floors needing vacuuming, papers needing grading, lectures needing writing...) Enjoy the weekend.

This tape is from my grad school days, and is another of the favored few tapes to reside in the handy built-in holder in my car. It takes its name from a little speech Jimi Hendrix makes at the start of the first track ("I'd like to welcome you all to the Electric Church..."), which ended up being more apt than I knew when I started the tape-- these are almost all guitar-driven songs.

Side One:

Side Two:

Posted at 9:16 AM | link | follow-ups | 8 comments

Friday, October 03, 2003

Let Her Go...

Following a comment over at The Poor Man, I took a look at a site presenting collected poll results about candidates for the 2004 Presidential election. On the whole, most of the poll questions were pretty reasonable, and the results all amount to a dead heat between Bush and a randomly chosen Democrat, but buried in there is this gem of a question from Fox News (Sept. 23-24):

In the 2004 presidential election, let's say the Republican ticket is President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney versus a Democratic ticket of New York Senator Hillary Clinton for president and retired General Wesley Clark for vice president. If the election were held today, which ticket would you support?

Followed by another version of the question with the Democratic ticket reversed.

Which leads to my question: Why does anybody take these whack jobs seriously?

See also this post from Jack Balkin.

Posted at 10:21 AM | link | follow-ups | 1 comment

Moving Clocks Run Slow

The Mrs. Ambassador Wilson story is barely a week old, and Kevin Drum is getting antsy:

I'm a little surprised that more progress hasn't been made yet. In a normal leak, you've got one leaker and one leakee, and as long they both keep their mouths shut the secret is safe. But in this case, not only do you have multiple leakers but there are apparently half a dozen reporters that they leaked to. And you just know that they've privately told friends, who have privately told other friends, so that by now half the journalists in Washington know who the culprits are.

The following is a variant on what I posted in his comments thread:

This is a beautiful example of how weblogs skew one's view of the world. Blogs may have kept the story simmering over the summer, but this is an Old Media story now, and it will unfold at an Old Media pace.

Bear in mind, it's been one week since this broke big. In the Real World, that's nothing. Watergate and Iran-Contra took months to unfold. Whitewater took years (insofar as anything unfolded). When the FBI sets out to investigate who drank the last cup of coffee from the pot in the second-floor break room, it takes longer than a week to get an answer. They'll find the leaker. Or they won't, and it'll look like a snow job, and then we'll have some real fun.

The reporters involved could speed this process up, but why should they rush it? They live in a world where Big News is released once per day-- they're not hitting "Reload" at Calpundit and Talking Points Memo every five minutes, all day long. Well, maybe they are, but that's not how they do business. They put out a story, they let the buzz build, then they put out another story the next day.

Frankly, I wouldn't expect anything to happen until Monday, unless the Bush administration decides to offer up a scapegoat, and tries to bury it in the weekend news. The story is out there, there have been plenty of dramatic allegations this week, and it's better for the reporters involved (save Robert Novak), and the media business in general to let things stew for a few more days than to try to push the story over the weekend. They can bask in the glory, take a victory lap on "Meet the Press," and come back with more on Monday.

This story isn't going to go away quickly, and certainly not as measured in Blog Time. They can goose it along any time they want to with a few more anonymous tips, or by finally stepping up and naming names. But, hey, the FBI may manage to come up with the names on their own, or the CIA may out somebody, and save the reporters the trouble of burning their sources, and the longer this goes on, the shinier the Pulitzer Prize will be at the end (in their minds, at least).

Posted at 8:44 AM | link | follow-ups | 2 comments

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Now You See the Violence Inherent in the System

As part of the usual drive to make good television unwatchable, ESPN hired Rush Limbaugh to appear on thier NFL pre-game show in a bizarrely half-assed manner. As Mike Kozlowski put it, "Having chosen an inexplicable person in aim of an inexplicable goal, the ESPN people then put him on the show in a completely batshit crazy way."

Of course, it was only a matter of time before Limbaugh said something idiotic and sparked a controversy, and sure enough, he popped off this past Sunday about Donovan McNabb. Today, he resigned from the show.

The quick resignation might seem surprising at first, but of course, it's completely predictable. The only thing Limbaugh likes more than having a forum in which to spout off in public is getting the chance to play the victim. And, sure enough, he's hit the ground running. From the ESPN article:

"All this has become the tempest that it is because I must have been right about something," Limbaugh said. "If I wasn't right, there wouldn't be this cacophony of outrage that has sprung up in the sports writer community."

Yes, Rush, that's right. It's all because sports writers and NFL fans are such a bunch of ivory-tower pinko liberals. It's just terrible, the way they're oppressing you.

I look forward to next week, when we'll hear how it's all Clinton's fault.

Posted at 10:19 AM | link | follow-ups | 5 comments

300 Million Dis-served

Jim Henley has a bunch of good stuff on the affair of Mrs. Ambassador Wilson, and more people should pick up his call for full disclosure from Cliff May. At the very least, May should go onto the subpoena list.

I'm actually more interested in the sub-text of one of his other posts, though, which sports the worst item header since this whole thing broke. Jim constructs a new theory of the case for the benefit of those whose brainses feel all swirly and bad:

Now, if you're in the "with us or against us" crowd at the White House, might you not conclude that Wilson's column was as much a CIA "assignment" as Wilson's original trip? From your perspective, the CIA sent Wilson to Niger; it can just as easily request, on the quiet, that he let the world know about that trip a year and a half later.

In that context, the burning of Plame looks less like a dig at Wilson than a counterstrike on CIA itself - or, if you will, a shot across the bow of George Tenet. We can really make life hell for you people - not nebulous "possible whistleblowers" but the Agency itself and its management.

(It should be noted, by the way, that Jim's interpretation of the White House's view is essentially the line being taken by the spinning Freepers over in Kevin Drum's comments (see this post, for example), who keep trying to insist that the real scandal here is that a Democrat was sent to investigate the uranium claims. Advantage: Unqualified Offerings?)

When reading Jim's post, though, the larger importance of this whole thing dawned on me. The CIA thought the run-up to the Iraq war was a bad idea.

Let's say that again: The CIA thought the run-up to the Iraq war was a bad idea. The CIA-- the source of the most hare-brained foreign adventurism in the last fifty years-- they think that the current Iraq mess is a botch, and are trying to disavow all responsibility.

This is the Agency who copped to toppling Allende, and the same Agency widely known for its long series of idiotic schemes to kill Fidel Castro. And they're trying to wash their hands of the whole Iraq mess.

That really tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the profoundly creepy PNAC crowd and their schemes, doesn't it?

Posted at 9:57 AM | link | follow-ups | no comments

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Soooper Geeenius

Karl Rove's name is being bandied about as the source of the leaks about Joe Wilson's wife, which has led to much liberal glee at the prospect of Rove being frog-marched out the the White House. Opinion seems to be divided over whether Rove is the Flaming Eye of Sauron himself, or merely the One Ring whose destruction will bring down Bush.

I'm honestly baffled by this. I mean, yes, he's the chief political strategist for the Bush campaign, and yes, he's the sort of oily, smarmy hack that's really easy to hate, but when did this guy become the ultimate Evil Genius? Listening to people talk about him, you'd think that he's a cross between Machiavelli and Lex Luthor, and I can't figure it out.

I mean, what's his genius accomplishment? He ran a presidential campaign with a gigantic war chest, and the eager backing of a well-oiled right-wing media machine, against what most people consider a fairly inept Gore campaign, and he, um, failed to win the popular vote. They won the electoral contest only because Florida was fucked up beyond all rational expectation or belief.

This is genius in action?

Since then, he's been touted as the brains behind a number of decisions that either amount to weaselly ducking of tough questions (stem cells), or shameless pandering (steel tarriffs, and that's really turned out to be a brilliant move, hasn't it?), plus the mastermind of a mid-term election where the White House cynically exploited the "War On Terror" to win a bunch of close elections in areas that generally trend Republican anyway.

I'm sorry, but it doesn't take a genius to get politicians to shamelessly pander or wave the bloody shirt. It would probably take a genius to get them to not do those things.

So, what am I missing? From where I sit, Rove looks as much like a luckier Wile E. Coyote as he does the Joker. Yeah, he's had good luck, but there have to be a hundred people in Republican Party circles who could've run the same campaigns Rove did. I just don't see what makes him the irreplacable evil mastermind that people are making him out to be.

Next time on "Pondering the Imponderable": Why do people keep hiring Mary Matalin, anyway?

Posted at 10:49 AM | link | follow-ups | 5 comments

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Swift Justice

Like most other politically aware people, I'm watching the Valerie Plame Wilson affair pretty closely at the moment. I don't really have much to add to the "blogosphere" discussion of it-- as always with any story bearing a whiff of Washington scandal, Josh Marshall is all over it, and Kevin Drum has analysis and hilarious spinning Freepers in his comment threads. And, of course, The Poor Man tells you everything you need to know about the right-wing response to the charges.

As White House spokesmen have said (over, and over, and over), this is now in the hands of the Justice Department. Which is, as they say, a Good Thing. Surely, we can expect a swift resolution of the situation.

After all, blowing the cover of a CIA agent is downright treasonous. Surely, the person responsible is someone who hates America, and there can be no question that by compromising CIA operations, he or she has provided aid and comfort to our enemies in the War on Terror.

So, we can no doubt expect the Attorney General to immediately go through the "financial, travel, video rental, phone, medical, church, synagogue, and mosque records" of everybody on the White House staff, whether they consent to it or not. No need to request Karl Rove's phone logs-- we can just subpoena them in secret.

And, of course, just in case they might not be planning to be totally forthcoming, FBI agents can break in and search the White House offices. And tap the phones, while we're at it. Maybe they can turn up the Energy Task Force records while they're in there. That'd be a nice bonus.

Just for good measure, we should probably tap all the phones in the general area. After all, the person responsible might wander over to Lafayette Park to phone in another cover-blowing tip. We can snoop through all the White House email, too, just in case.

And the best part is, we don't even need to involve judges in the process for most of the investigation. Which is good, because they're all squishy liberal types anyway, and would probably rule that Executive Privilege or some other pansy liberal dodge protects people who work in the White House. We can't have that-- this is a matter of National Security. And just for fun, we can deport any immigrants they might happen to know-- that's always a kick.

Yes, Justice should be swift indeed in this case. Why, they probably already have the perpetrator nailed, and are just waiting until the right point in the news cycle to frog-march the treacherous little weasel out of the White House (or the Old Executive Office Building, or wherever he's hiding...).

Then we can declare him an enemy combatant, and ship him to Guantanamo...

Posted at 9:38 AM | link | follow-ups | no comments

Monday, September 29, 2003

Great Moments in Unintentional Honesty

In a damning Washington Post article about Dick Cheney, we have this brilliant tidbit:

[Cheney Spokeswoman Mary] Matalin said Cheney "doesn't base his opinion on one piece of data,"...

We know, Mary, we know...

Posted at 11:22 AM | link | follow-ups | 1 comment

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