Archive for October, 2005

Bouncy Balls Redux

Friday, October 28th, 2005

You may recall ymatt and my disagreement about whether the story of someone dumping a few hundred thousand superballs off a San Francisco rooftop to film a commercial was real, or a clever Photoshop hoax (see Pictures don’t lie. Except when they do.)

Well, I think the evidence at this point strongly supports “real.” The commercial (which turns out to be for a new Sony LCD television) is available for viewing online, along with making-of footage: Sony BRAVIA – The advert.

Waas: Cheney, Libby Withheld Docs from Senate Panel

Friday, October 28th, 2005

Having obsessed a fair amount over the report of the Senate intelligence committee on the Iraqi WMD intelligence, I found this Murray Waas article in the National Journal extremely interesting: Cheney, Libby blocked papers to Senate intelligence panel.

Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, overruling advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers, decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence that erroneously concluded Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, according to Bush administration and congressional sources.

The fact that this is sourced to Bush administration sources seems really interesting to me. Either it’s a case of rats jumping from a sinking ship, or it’s conscious administration spin, attempting to limit the Plamegate damage to Libby and Cheney, keeping Bush (and maybe Rove?) relatively unscathed. Maybe?

Oh, rats. I wasn’t going to talk about Plamegate. Dammit!

Former Abu Ghraib Interrogator Interviewed

Friday, October 28th, 2005

This interview of Joshua Casteel by Lea Barker strikes me as an important data point for understanding what’s going on in Iraq these days: An interview with a former interrogator at Abu Ghraib.

Frank Drake on the Voyager Record’s Ambiguity

Friday, October 28th, 2005

Speaking of annoying pedantry, don’t get me started on the Drake Equation. But I do recommend reading this smallish interview from Forbes with SETI maven Frank Drake: Frank Drake On ambiguity.

I especially liked this part:

There’s another picture on the Voyager record, which in retrospect was a big mistake. It shows a woman in the grocery store buying groceries, and she’s eating some grapes. That picture was there to show where we get food and how we eat. But what we didn’t even notice was that in that same picture, on an upper shelf, there are some toy trucks. They look just like real, full-size trucks that appear in some of the other pictures. It can give the false impression that you buy baby trucks in the grocery store, and you feed them, and they grow into big trucks. That doesn’t make sense at all to us, but it could totally confuse the extraterrestrials.

Which prompted the following observation by me in Ishar:

You say, “yeah. ET’s gonna be _pissed_ when he arrives in his invasion fleet, ready to establish overlordship, and he gets on all communications frequencies, and the first thing out of his mouth is, “ATTENTION ALL TRUCKS OF PLANET EARTH! THE LIFE YOU HAVE KNOWN IS ENDED! THE NEW ORDER HAS BEGUN!”, and all the humans will be, like, snickering and shit.”


This is, after all, the thing that always cracks me up about SETI, and the Drake equation, and suchlike speculation: It always ends up being more about the limits of our own imagination than about what’s actually out there (or not).

There are indeed many more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy. Even when we do our best to fill in the empty spaces, we end up being more quaint than insightful, at least with the benefit of hindsight.

Schwarzenegger Street

Friday, October 28th, 2005

Yeah, I know the Fitzmas indictments are finally here, but it’s sort of like getting to open a single present on Christmas Eve: it’s better than nothing, but not exactly the orgy of ripping paper I was looking forward to. And I’ve been informed that I’ve become annoyingly pedantic on the subject (as in this comment). So no Plamegate analysis from me today. Sorry.

In the meantime, though, Sven sent in this fun little item: Schwarzenegger Street.

WaPo Editors: Cheney is the Torture Veep

Wednesday, October 26th, 2005

The Washington Post’s editors continue to kick all kinds of ass in their commentary on the Bush administration’s willingness to openly push for the use of torture. Today’s editorial focused on recent action by the may-he-soon-be-indicted Vice President for torture.

fouro’s Mr. Leaker and Mrs. Wilson

Wednesday, October 26th, 2005

I very much enjoyed this. From Daily Kos’ fouro: Mr. Leaker and Mrs. Wilson. A picture story.

George W. Bush: The Torture President

Wednesday, October 26th, 2005

Of all the crimes committed by the Bush White House, both known and unknown, I can’t imagine that any could ever be worse than the official sanctioning of torture as a policy. Anyway, from the New York Times: White House seeks exception in abuse ban.

There’s been talk about McCain being named veep to replace Cheney after the latter’s as-yet-hypothetical indictment. This would certainly dovetail with my suspicions during the 2004 presidential campaign that McCain’s support of Bush back then was the result of a quiet agreement that McCain would replace Cheney sometime around 2006, in order to position him for a 2008 presidential campaign.

With this stuff about torture coming out now, though, I have to wonder if McCain would still be willing to do that. Maybe the stuff about Condoleeza Rice being slotted for that role makes more sense. It would certainly be more consistent with Bush’s history of appointments.

Neither McCain nor Rudy Giuliani (the other guy I see representing a credible Republican successor to Bush) is the sort of meek, whatever-you-say-boss person Bush likes to have under him. I could see either of them swallowing his pride long enough to do a few years under Bush if that was what it took to win the White House, but on balance I think an outside challenge in the Republican primaries to whatever toady Bush uses to replace Cheney is more likely.

Have I gotten far enough ahead of myself yet? Yeah, I think so.

Bring on the indictments!

World O’Crap on the Wall Street Journal’s Plamegate Editorial

Wednesday, October 26th, 2005

The Wall Street Journal’s news reporting is real journalism. The paper’s unsigned editorials are the rankest sort of swill. Case in point: The recent WSJ editorial on the Plame-outing investigation. World O’Crap covers the high points: I hate, hate, hate this editorial.

It’s actually pretty impressive that the editorial writers at the Journal can fit that much bullshit into such a small space.

Wonkette Explains the Significance of the Smear-Fitzgerald Strategy

Monday, October 24th, 2005

Wow. My pledge to stop obsessing about the Fitzgerald investigation lasted a total of, what, 10 minutes? Woohoo. Go me.

Anyway, I really liked this Wonkette comment (as pointed to by Athenae of First Draft): Smearing Fitzgerald.

You know what makes total sense? If, as the subject of an investigation into smearing administration critics, you go out and smear the investigator. Because that doesn’t make you seem like a vindictive little fuck or anything.

Pretty much nails it.

Things We Do Not Know about the Patrick Fitzgerald Investigation

Monday, October 24th, 2005

The level of chatter about the upcoming indictments (maybe) from Patrick Fitzgerald’s Plame-outing investigation has doubled yet again. Good lord; what did we do for fun before we had a global computer network to use for obsessive speculation?

I’m consciously taking a step back, myself. Yes, like many people, I desperately want for a tough-minded, principled, take-no-prisoners federal prosecutor to expose the lies that lay behind the Bush administration’s headlong rush to war in Iraq. But I’m also aware that no desire on my part for such an event, no matter how fervent that desire is, actually increases the chances that the event will come to pass.

I think a certain percentage of the Bush-hater predictions currently making the rounds probably owe more to fervent desire than they do to actual tea-leaf reading. An example of what I mean is this item from James Moore, as previously posted at the Arianablog, pointed to here at Fitzgerald’s historic opportunity.

As much as I would personally enjoy Fitzgerald’s exposing Bush administration complicity in the original forging of the documents alleging an Iraqi effort to obtain yellowcake from Niger, I don’t expect that to actually happen.

The chatter pretty much has convinced me that we’ll be seeing an indictment of Scooter Libby, at least, in the next few days. Maybe Karl Rove. And maybe (pleaseohpleaseohplease) Dick Cheney. But probably not on the Cheney part.

But really, in all honesty, I don’t know. I only know that a lot of people in whose opinions I place a certain amount of faith think something big is going to happen. (And a lot of other people in whose opinions I don’t have much faith think something absolutely spectacular is going to happen.)

Whatever. In a few days we’ll all know. Until then, I’m going to put on my headphones and listen to loud music. Talk to you after.

Leather Pants for Sale

Monday, October 24th, 2005

Via valued-contributor Sven: eBay: DKNY Men’s Leather Pants I Unfortunately Own.

Publius on Perjury

Monday, October 24th, 2005

Publius of Legal Fiction doesn’t think we children eagerly awaiting Fitzmas should spend too much time comparing Republican statements in 1998 about how significant a crime perjury was, regardless of the underlying offense, with their comments these days that really, perjury isn’t all that big a deal. And he makes a pretty good case: Perjury and context.

Daniel Goetz Silenced

Monday, October 24th, 2005

From The Tattered Coat: Another military blogger silenced.

The part I found most noteworthy was the way in which Daniel Goetz, a stop-lossed soldier serving the 6th year of a 5-year commitment in Iraq, who had been eloquently critical of Bush administration policies, announced the end of his blogging activity:

I thank all of you who have been so supportive recently. I have never before received so much positive feedback, and it was very heart-warming to know that so many people out there care. Having said that, it breaks my heart to say that this will be my last post on this blog. I wish I could just stop there, but I can not. The following also needs to be said:

For the record, I am officially a supporter of the administration and of her policies. I am a proponent for the war against terror and I believe in the mission in Iraq. I understand my role in that mission, and I accept it. I understand that I signed the contract which makes stop loss legal, and I retract any statements I made in the past that contradict this one. Furthermore, I have the utmost confidence in the leadership of my chain of command, including (but not limited to) the president George Bush and the honorable secretary of defense Rumsfeld. If I have ever written anything on this site or on others that lead the reader to believe otherwise, please consider this a full and complete retraction.

That item was posted under the title Double Plus Ungood. Here’s to intended irony.

Rich Connects the Dots on Cheney, Libby, Wilson

Monday, October 24th, 2005

Frank Rich’s latest NY Times column is a clear, insightful account of how the Plame outing ties in with the Bush administration’s larger misdeeds. Liberated from the clutches of TimesSelect by the following helpful subversives: The Cowtown Blogger: Karl and Scooter’s excellent adventure and Pulp Friction: Frank Rich’s Times Select Editorial.

The same observations, in more of a straight-news-article package, can be found in this New York Times item by Richard W. Stevenson and Douglas Jehl: Leak case renews questions on war’s rationale.

George Clooney Is in a Tight Spot

Monday, October 24th, 2005

I’m a fan of George Clooney, so I found this article interesting, if worrisome: Clooney: film injury made me suicidal.

Bush Team Reads The Onion

Monday, October 24th, 2005

Thanks to Janus/Onan for lightening my mood with the following item: Protecting the presidential seal. No joke.

“Despite the seriousness of the Bush White House, more than one Bush staffer reads The Onion and enjoys it thoroughly,” [presidential spokesperson Trent Duffy] said. “We do have a sense of humor, believe it or not.”

The “It’s All Libby’s Fault” Defense; NYT on Fitzgerald

Sunday, October 23rd, 2005

A couple of Plamegate items for your Sunday:

From Josh Marshall: There is a flood of articles appearing… Talks about the piece from the LA Times the other day that seems (at least potentially) to represent the beginnings of an administration effort to make Libby the fall guy for the Plame outing.

Also, the New York Times has this background piece about Patrick Fitzgerald: Leak prosecutor is called exacting and apolitical.

Justice Miers — Or Not

Friday, October 21st, 2005

Harriet Miers’ prospects of a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court seem to be dimming. Josh Marshall (oy! again with the Josh Marshall!) points to the Intrade trading page on Miers-confirmation futures, and quotes from an Intrade press release as follows:

“The Miers confirmation contract was trading at 92, meaning a 92% probability of confirmation last week. Early this week the contract slid to 64 then this morning with no warning droped to 20 in heavy trading”, says Mike Knesevitch, Communication Director at Intrade.

Meanwhile, Rogers Cadenhead at Workbench points out that Irish betting service Insports shows Miers’ odds of confirmation taking a definite turn for the worse: Harriet Miers in a Bear Market.

Rounding out this morning’s Miers tout sheet are these two items: William J. Stuntz in The New Republic Online: Harriet Miers and Dan Quayle, and David Brooks from his NY Times column of a week ago, which has managed to escape the clutches of TimesSelect: In her own words, Miers makes weak case. From the latter:

I don’t know if by mere quotation I can fully convey the relentless march of vapid abstractions that mark Miers’ prose. Nearly every idea is vague and depersonalized. Nearly every debatable point is elided. It’s not that Miers didn’t attempt to tackle interesting subjects. She wrote about unequal access to the justice system, about the underrepresentation of minorities in the law and about whether pro bono work should be mandatory. But she presents no arguments or ideas, except the repetition of the bromide that bad things can be eliminated if people of goodwill come together to eliminate bad things.

Or as she puts it, “There is always a necessity to tend to a myriad of responsibilities on a number of cases as well as matters not directly related to the practice of law.” And yet, “Disciplining ourselves to provide the opportunity for thought and analysis has to rise again to a high priority.”

Throw aside ideology. Surely the threshold skill required of a Supreme Court justice is the ability to write clearly and argue incisively. Miers’ columns provide no evidence of that.

Ostroy’s Draft-Gore Petition; The Al Gore Fantasy Administration Game

Friday, October 21st, 2005

Please consider signing Andy Ostroy’s petition calling on Al Gore to run for president in 2008: An open letter to Al Gore; draft Gore petition.

Then join me here in playing the Al Gore Fantasy Administration Game (add your own fantasy administration members in comments):

  • President: Al Gore
  • Press secretary: Jon Stewart