A senior administration official said two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and revealed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife. That was shortly after Wilson revealed in July that the CIA had sent him to Niger last year to look into the uranium claim and that he had found no evidence to back up the charge. Wilson's account eventually touched off a controversy over Bush's use of intelligence as he made the case for attacking Iraq.
"Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," the senior official said of the alleged leak.
I will note, in the interest of not getting too giddy at the prospect of the damage this will do to Bush, that while it seems to me too that Rove is involved somehow, we haven't heard the administration's spin yet and the fact that two people were involved is not necessarily worse for the White House, if one of those people was Ari Fleischer. Not only will the association with Bush be much looser in the public mind by virtue of Fleischer already being gone, but a story can be spun about his leaving that makes the White House look as if it pushed him out as a result of this transgression. Something to keep in mind.
MORE: I've been thinking about how else the White House can try to spin out of this. I just looked at the orignal Robert Novak story. Here are the key sentences.
Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me his wife suggested sending Wilson to Niger to investigate the Italian report. The CIA says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him.
That leaves the White House an out: those sentences do not say that administration officials revealed that Plame was a CIA operative; just that they said Wilson's wife had something to do with his going. But, this potential spin is directly contradicted by the Post story. As quoted above (my emphasis):
A senior administration official said two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and revealed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife.
But the White House may be able to muddy the issue enough by concentrating on Novak's sentences that this becomes a one-side-says / the-other-side-says story, with Novak pitted against whoever leaked to the Post (likely Tenet). We'll see.
Followed by this.
And finally, proof that, yes, Brian Leiter is the most petty man alive.
While I'm waxing vehement on the topic of fried food, let me extend a sentimental plea to readers in Chicago. Go eat at Susie's. If you haven't been there, you haven't eaten in Chicago. This is a good intro to their menu (note: the phone number on that page is incorrect, don't call the poor man like I just did). When I'm there, I get the Italian beef (wet and spicy) and a Piña Colada milkshake (trust me on this one, it's the best shake you've ever had).
I just came across a web page that erroneously reported Susie's had closed. I was contacting friends in Chicago in a panic until I found Susie's number and called them myself. They're still there. Still in their little shack, open 24 hours a day. But they won't be there forever. You have to eat at Susie's.
Like the debate about the right to smoke, the argument that what one eats is a personal decision holds no water.Oh my. If I believed that many people agreed with that sentiment, I would become a raving rightie in two seconds. It's one thing to ban smoking in public places, but god help the man who gets between me and fried anything. And justifying it in these terms,
Society ultimately picks up the tab for remediation. It's time to go on the offensive.finally lets me understand objections to a government sponsored health plan. If it will be used as an instrument of control by people sympathetic to this sort of argument, let me get sick and die on a park bench, far from affordable health care and with french fries spilling out of my ears. You know, the letter just above this one doesn't reassure me a bit.
Do we really need to be coming up with more ways to fry things?My dear sir, do we really need anything else?
Nervous of upsetting America, the new US version of Coupling proves hesitant and just not very funny.
You have to watch the US and UK first episodes of Coupling back to back to get the full shock: the British one is vastly better.That's exactly what we did and exactly what we found. Not only is the acting better in the original, but some of the best lines have been changed or excised. And some of those lines were part of what makes the original Coupling so good: a sneaky little thread runs throughout the episode and keeps coming up for laughs. It's early yet. I'll watch a few more of the US version before I quit. But BBC America is still showing the original, and you can get them on DVD.
All Segway scooters have been recalled.
The maker of the Segway Human Transporter has agreed to recall the motorized scooters because riders have been injured falling off when its batteries are low.
About twenty people are probably pretty unhappy about this. Not, though, our president.
I was thinking of doing a longer post on Edward Said. He's a fascinating character: the embodiment and combination of two oft-misunderstood and reviled movements, Palestinian rights and Foucauldian scholarship. But much better to see the reactions to him in action, as it were. Take a look at this post on Roger Simon's site and be sure to read the comments, which are generally anti-Said, but restrained relative to much of what I read yesterday. Be sure to read (what is at the moment) the last comment there, by Ted Grabet (posted 9/26 @ 4:40am) for an eloquent rebuttal.
MORE: A new link added here.
Temperatures fluctuate more during the workweek than during weekends, according to this news brief in Scientific American. Is it me? Maybe:
The scientists tested the data set for both 28-day cycles (which could reflect a lunar influence) and random variations and found that neither could explain the findings. Because weekly cycles are rarely if ever found in nature, the observed fluctuations must therefore be anthropogenic in origin, the researchers write. In particular, they propose that cloud changes associated with aerosol particles in the atmosphere could be causing the weekend effect, though other pollution processes cannot be ruled out at this time.
The effect is greatest in North America (followed by cities in Japan and China), though fluctuations on the North American coasts are actually larger on weekends. Bigger or smaller, though, there's still some significant difference between MTWTF and SS.
Saw this bumper sticker yesterday:
One person can make a difference: JESUS DID
So, you shouldn't feel powerless to effect change, if you're the son of God? Or is it that Jesus accomplished great things, even though he was just an ordinary schlub?
Agenda Bender does a nice job tracing how news organizations sully themselves by essentially reprinting press releases as news. Having actually spoken to a Microsoft flack at one point, I can attest that reprinting what a corporation says as if it's just another point of view is doing the devil's work.
Ahhh. The site (and the comments) should be loading much faster now. What follows is an explanation of marginal interest to about two people.
I discovered, a while back, that a japanese site with murky intentions was mirroring Unfogged (and many other sites). To stop them, I added a few lines to my .htaccess file. To wit,
deny from 220.127.116.11
deny from 210.224.177
deny from soksok.jp
allow from all
This was a fine solution, but soksok recently disappeared. I would have thought that .htaccess required only that the requesting IP not be listed, but apparently it was checking soksok every time anyone made a request. That meant that every request had to wait for the timeout of the packets sent to soksok before it was answered. Very bad. Very slow. But fixed. I just removed the lines, since soksok is no longer a problem.
By the way, blogging coming to you--courtesy of Intel's free wireless day--from a local cafe. Nice. But I like my unwired couch even better.
Speaking of places to sit, you might want to check out one of these. I've been trying for about a year to justify buying an Aeron, but no longer: I love my Gymnic Plus.
It looks like Swedish police are confident they've caught Anna Lindh's killer. And he seems to be a "lone nut."
According to Swedish media the suspect is a loner with a history of psychological problems. He has been a drug abuser and a criminal record.
Newspaper Aftonbladet reported that, at the age of 17, the suspect stabbed his own father repeatedly with a kitchen knife. His father received massive injuries in the face and upper body and a doctor described the damage as "potentially life-threatening."
From the Incompetent Attorney.
I was dining al fresco last night at Wollensky's Grill when two large gentlemen walked by. They had a combined weight of about 600 pounds, complete with pinky rings, gold chains, greased hair, etc.
I only caught one line of their conversation:
"Nah, she's hot but she aint STRIPPER hot."
I'm never quite sure what to link to at the Next American City site. It's a magazine and blog about what used to be called, I think, "city planning." If you have any interest, check it out.
What a sick joke all this is, if you study Lévy's book with care. If you ever suspected that the Pakistani ISI (or Interservices Intelligence) was in a shady relationship with the Taliban and al-Qaida forces, this book materializes the suspicion and makes the very strong suggestion that Pearl was murdered because he was doing his job too well, not because he was a naive idealist who got into the wrong car at the wrong time. His inquiries had at least the potential for exposing the Pakistani collusion and double-dealing with jihad forces, in much the same pattern the Saudi Arabian authorities have been shown to follow—by keeping two sets of books, in other words, and by exhibiting only one set to Americans.And this stunning excerpted quote from a Saudi lawyer.
"Islamism is a business," he explains to me with a big smile. "I don't say that because it's my job, or because I see proof of it in my office ten times a day, but because it's a fact. People hide behind Islamism. They use it like a screen saying 'Allah Akbar! Allah Akbar!' But we know that here. We see the deals and the movements behind the curtain. In one way or another, it all passes through our hands. We do the paperwork. We write the contracts. And I can tell you that most of them couldn't care less about Allah. They enter Islamism because it's nothing other than a source of power and wealth, especially in Pakistan. … Take the young ones in the madrassas. They see the high rollers in their SUVs having five wives and sending their children to good schools, much better than the madrassas. They have your Pearl's killer, Omar Sheikh, right in front of their eyes. When he gets out of the Indian prisons and returns to Lahore, what do the neighbors see? He's very well-dressed. He has a Land Cruiser. He gets married and the city's big-shots come to his wedding."You can get young men to do anything. There are regimes who "harbor" and "support" terrorists. It's just a matter of when we'll decide to do something about them.
Michael Bowen on Al Sharpton.
Shouldn't he be a corrupt alderman first?
This is a very good profile of Wesley Clark. Fair and honest. Because, unless he does something horrible in the debate in a few hours, Clark has a good chance of becoming the Democratic nominee, I'll just say, read the whole thing.
Mr. Ford's flight deck stands on casters in his garage amid the enticing clutter of welding equipment, hand tools and wiring. Motorists jam on their brakes at the sight of a Boeing 737 nose section staring out at them, and some residents even questioned Mr. Ford's intentions in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. "Now they all kind of know me, and I'm kind of just the weird neighbor," he said. "The neighborhood kids will come by and I'll occasionally let them fly it."Of course, not everything goes according to plan.
Beneath all this veteran hardware, however, lies a sophisticated, high-maintenance computer network. Most home cockpits require at least five interconnected PC's to drive the various electronic displays, flight computers and the external scenery monitor (which is often a big-screen TV placed in front of the cockpit). Mr. Ford's uses eight PC's, and he and Mr. Price have spent thousands of hours writing a program that enables Microsoft Flight Simulator and Project Magenta to respond properly to their cockpits' controls.
Despite endless tweaking and tinkering, the resulting system can be quixotic. During a reporter's visit, Mr. Ford's effort to boot up the flight deck was unsuccessful.There is a plan, right?
Mr. Prather has waited four years for the right pair of throttles. After investing up to $50,000 in a series of trial cockpits, one of which was destroyed in a flood, he has still not flown his simulator.
Here's how it went this morning.
1) I called company X about issue Y (work-related, no less).
2) Automated answering asked which extension I wanted (I entered it).
3) Rang and rang. No answer.
4) Called back and didn't enter the extension, went to the directory instead. It found the name I wanted.
5) That number cannot be dialed from this system.
6) Tried not entering an extension nor a name. Sent me to another automated system.
7) All options at the second system sent me back to the first system.
8) Tried an old number for the person I wanted to reach. She answered right away.
9) But she's not the person to talk to. Try this number, she said.
10) Hello? This is ogged, calling about issue X.
11) Hang on. I'm transfered.
12) Hello? This is ogged, calling about issue X.
13) Hang on. I'm transferred.
14) Hello? This is ogged, calling about issue X.
15) Hang on, let me see who handles your account.
16) On hold.
17) You need to talk to Y. He's on the phone, can he call you back?
19) Y calls back. Issue resolved.
UPDATE: I guess those variables aren't exactly consistent throughout the post. Noted.
(link updated) MORE: A really fine remembrance here.
The guy who had the office next to mine moved recently and its new occupant just moved in. I know and very much like the new occupant, but I just noticed something about his decoration scheme that is freaking me out.
People put up pictures of their loved ones in their office all the time. Mostly, these pictures go in the sort of frames that sit on one's desk. It would be unusual, I think, to actually hang such pictures on a wall. But not totally crazy. These pictures are also generally of snapshot size, though perhaps anything up to 8 1/2 by 11 would not be out of the ordinary.
Defying these conventions, this guy has decided to hang on his office wall a picture of his wife in her wedding dress that is at least as large as a 42" television. This thing takes up at least half the usable space on the wall and is, frankly, deeply creepy. Everytime I walk by, I feel like the image is going to come alive and yell at me for some reason.
I only wish Seinfeld were still on the air. I could send them a great idea for an episode.
Total Information Awareness is back. Despite news that congress had blocked funding for the program, it seems to have been reconstituted at the state level.
The perverse dream of integrating law enforcement, military intelligence and vast databases of virtually everything done by virtually every citizen is coming to fruition, only under state, not federal, auspices.
DARPA's dreaded Total Information Awareness (TIA) program, formerly administered by convicted felon and Republican hero John Poindexter of Iran-Contra fame, may have been de-clawed by Congress, but it lives on at the state level in an incarnation called, ominously, the MATRIX (Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange).
And the article goes on to say that there's no longer any pretense of using the information solely to fight terrorism. The scope of the project has been expanded to include "criminal" activity. If you live in any of the following states: Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Ohio, or Utah, your state is participating. Very disturbing.
(I should add, Yuri Guri was way right and I was way wrong.)
Body and Soul has several very good posts up, about electronic vote fraud, Arnold, false religiosity and much else. Just keep scrolling.
I've known Wes for a long time. I will tell you the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues, things that are very near and dear to my heart. I'm not going to say whether I'm a Republican or a Democrat. I'll just say Wes won't get my vote.This could really hurt Clark. Now, Shelton seems to be a rather religious man (check the rest of the piece), but that's not going to hurt his credibility with any relevant audience: a military man impugning another military man's character and integrity in a public forum is damning. In fact, I must admit, now I'm wondering what Clark might have done. (via Drudge)
Albert Goldbarth rocks. Don't leave yet (he's a poet, and here's a sample).
The Song of the Tags"Yesterday morning, root canal. That night,a power failure. How lovely:throwing up by candlelight."There are so many wonderfultitles for poems!"Straw Votes on Burning Issues.""May Divorce Be with You.""Throwing Up by Candlelight." The more I hearmy students' lives, the more I understandthis game of theirs—of ours, for I do ittoo. Last week, my friends Cecile and Laylesplit, and the rift was accompanied bymore jeremiads and spittled gallthan came from the Bible's mostinveighing prophets—also, accompanied byher new beau with the tattoo of hellfireover his cheeks and temples (oh howdroll, I remember somebody saying)and his new woo-woo bedfriendwith the boobs from planet Implant; as ifphysics weren't whirling blur enoughto bruise our brains: "at twenty nanokelvins,atoms smear and coalesce into a fuzzy metaparticleknown as a Bose-Einstein condensate..."; as ifsomehow it makes sense that we can't comprehendour brains' own hundred billion neuronswith our brains' hundred billion neurons; that,and terrorist bombs, and God's inscrutable humor,and now, and now, we have the shapelessCecile and Layle story too. Oh don't we clingto the strings of our captions and tags!"I Hate You So Much, I Love Shit-for-Brains."That was the title we gave it;and so—for a while—we understood it.
You've probably seen this picture several times today, but did you notice how very obvious it is which man is European and which American?
And, in other Google news, they've just introduced a "search by location" which could be very cool. Wondering where you might find things related to yoga in Kansas City. Check it out. Or maybe you're interested in things Chinese. Not just restaurants.
You always suspect that people in government are lying, but can never be quite sure; that, in part, is why political arguments are so heated: people unsure of the facts with a lot at stake; what do you expect, light?
A while back, I wrote that the doctored EPA report on the environment (ROE) could hurt the Bushies because it established, along with the dubious claims about WMD, a pattern of tampering with information for political ends.
Now, the EPA's internal memo (PDF) regarding the fight it had with the White House has been leaked. Amazing. Before we get to the excerpts, the credits. I saw it on Calpundit, who saw the memo on David Appell's site (how he got the memo, I don't know), as originally reported in the Observer.
The memo first notes that the White House has removed sections dealing with human health and that the proposed White House edits and deletions result in a report that "no longer accurately represents scientific consensus on climate change." It considers the EPA's options in dealing with the White House. (Thanks to Kevin Drum for the transcription.)
OPTION 1: Accept CEQ [Council on Environmental Quality] and OMB [Office of Management and Budget] edits.
Pro: This option is easiest in terms of EPA-White House relations. It ends a multi-month negotiating process that has regressed substantially with the last round of comments.
Con: EPA will take responsibility and severe criticism from the science and environmental communities for poorly representing the science. EPA will have to decide who will respond and how to questions. This will undermine the ROE and the EPA for an extended period. It also undercuts key science assessments, such as by the National Research Council and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This option also provides specific text to attack and the potential to extend the period of criticism. Early review drafts were circulated to other agencies, States and Regions, and can be expected to surface for comparison.
OPTION 2: Remove climate change section from the ROE.
Pro: This provides little "meat" for attacks on EPA's science. It may be the only way to meet both White House and EPA needs. It does not expend more EPA resources on the product. EPA can explain the omission by pointing to the scientific disagreements and explaining that it is inappropriate for EPA to create its own version of the science.
OPTION 3: Do not accept "no further changes" and try to reach compromise.
Pro: This is the only approach that could produce a credible climate change section in the ROE. It may antagonize the White House more than the other two options.
Con: It is likely not feasible to negotiate agreeable text. It will expend more resources on the section and possibly delay the ROE further.
Let's note right now that an "every administration does this" argument is about as convincing as "but officer, everyone else was speeding too." Let's focus on the issue: the White House, despite the arguments of the EPA, suppressed information about ill effects on human health because that information isn't politically favorable. Also note that there's no natural constituency for ill health: pressure from the White House serves extremely narrow corporate interests. (Again, spare me the argument for economic benefits: if there are benefits to be had, then the public should be able to decide whether it's willing to trade its health for them.) Just like it did when it suppressed information about the health hazards in New York after 9-11, the administration decided that it would rather let people get sick than take a political hit.
Gigli may have been a huge bomb, but what Bennifer really want, apparently, is a gun.
I've decided to undergo gender reassignment so that I can have a shot at being this man's loving wife.
Gary Farber is back, with great stuff, as usual. Definitely pay a visit. Teasers:
FDR on Stalin:
Bill, I don't dispute your facts; they are accurate. I don't dispute the logic of your reasoning. I just have a hunch that Stalin is not that kind of man. Harry [Hopkins] says he's not and that he doesn't want anything but security for his country, and I think if I give him everything I possibly can and ask for nothing in return, noblesse oblige, he won't try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace.
And a translation of the long-winded director/laconic interpreter scene in Lost in Translation.
Go on. He's waiting.
Odigo, the instant messaging service, says that two of its workers received messages two hours before the Twin Towers attack on September 11 predicting the attack would happen
There's a powerful political movement afoot to draft Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., for president in 2004. Its partisans are committed almost to the point of fanaticism, and their number is growing by the hour. This thing is an absolute juggernaut. Even so, the Draft Hillary '04 forces probably won't secure their candidate's Democratic nomination. Why not? Because they're all Republicans!In part, I'm sure the Republicans think it's just smart politics to bring up Hillary and Bill at every opportunity. But, sometimes, you just wonder: what is up with these people? There are good answers to that question. It's a truism that Hillary's gender is relevant, but Gary Wills, in the most fair and humanizing portrait of Hillary Clinton I've ever read, explains why (my emphasis).
But it is not mere policy that causes the grave concern over Ms. Clinton. It is the fact that a woman was voicing the protest. In the same way, many would later protest her having a policy role in her husband's White House—not, as they claimed, because "nobody elected her." Nobody elected President Eisenhower's brother Milton or President Kennedy's brother Robert, though they had powerful policy roles in their brothers' administrations. But that was acceptable because they were men. People have reason to react emotionally to a change as deep and widespread as the women's movement. For the first time in history, the equality of women with men was taken seriously in the second half of the twentieth century.
There could not be a deeper transformation of all social arrangements. Change the status of women, alter the whole concept of womanhood, and the most intimate relationships are challenged, subverted, or reestablished at their inmost nexus—the relationships of wife to husband, husband to wife; of mother to children, of daughters to parents and siblings, of men to women employers or employees or professional colleagues.The reaction to Hillary is truly conservative--even reactionary. And more than a little pathetic.
Is Bush a popular incumbent? Is Clark the anointed one? Is Dean the front-runner or the fading insurgent? Are the other Democrats electable? The media's beloved narratives take on some poll numbers, and you can guess who wins. Great post.
UPDATE: I've been informed via email that the AP author's interpretation of the poll results is likely correct. If anyone knows more statistics than I do (and that should be just about all of you), please weigh in.
Jeannette Walls is hearing rumors.
Nasty gossips are claiming that one of the fabulously gay guys from "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" secretly dates women.
Who could it be?
Does anyone else feel this way?
General Wesley Clark is one of the more obviously nuts human beings who ever lived inside my TV set. Everybody sees this, right? Tell me we're all in on the joke together. I keep looking for the universal wink. I'm probably embarrassing myself and maybe even screwing things up by saying this out loud. It's just that I missed the meeting, I didn't get the memo, I wasn't on the bcc list. My mexican radio is broke.
As Ted Barlow writes,
Al Gore is not the President because no one fought hard enough against garbage like this.
Smear 3: Clark claimed he received a call from the White House asking him to tie 9-11 to Saddam.
Why it's a smear: Here's the relevant portion of the transcript.
Clark: I think it was an effort to convince the American people to do something, and I think there was an immediate determination right after 9/11 that Saddam Hussein was one of the keys to winning the war on terror. Whether it was the need just to strike out or whether he was a linchpin in this, there was a concerted effort during the fall of 2001 starting immediately after 9/11 to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein.
Russert: By who? Who did that?
Clark: Well, it came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over. I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, "You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein." I said, "But -- I'm willing to say it but what's your evidence?" And I never got any evidence. And these were people who had -- Middle East think tanks and people like this and it was a lot of pressure to connect this and there were a lot of assumptions made. But I never personally saw the evidence and didn't talk to anybody who had the evidence to make that connection.
Clark says the effort to convince people that 9-11 was tied to Saddam came from the White House. He doesn't say the call he received did. The Carpetbag Report has details and links.
Smear 4: Clark said he would have been a Republican if Karl Rove had returned his phone calls. White House records show Clark never called Rove.
Why it's a smear: The "if Rove had returned my calls" line was reported to Howard Fineman by two Republicans. Clark says it was "a humorous tweak." The Weekly Standard claims White House logs show Clark never called Rove. Ergo, the Standard concludes, Clark is lying. Of course, the fact that there were no calls is also evidence that Clark was kidding. It's only a lie if you assume he's a liar. But there's another element to the smear: the implication that Clark is simply an opportunist, who would just as easily have been a Republican. Atrios has the links.
Ted Barlow catalogs another incident he calls a smear, but the details of that are sufficiently fuzzy (see the comments to that post) that I'm not including it yet. I do think it's a smear, but I'm not quite willing to defend all the details yet.
PRAIRIE DOGGING: When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on.
GENERICA: Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is, such as fast food joints, strip malls, and subdivisions.
MOUSE POTATO: The on-line, wired generation's answer to the couch potato.
Philip Greenspun evinces a blissful naiveté.
How much longer can the popularity of SUVs continue? Many of the drivers are getting so old that their fragile bones really can't handle the stiff suspension and harsh ride over bumps (my 40th birthday is in a week and whenever I'm picked up from the airport in a BMW X5 or similar I can't believe how little isolation is provided from potholes, etc.
To which the proper response is, of course, hahahahaha! Take the Toyota 4Runner, which is generally considered a competent off-road SUV (unlike, say, a Lincoln Navigator). The only features the current 4Runner has in common with its off-road ancestors are size and height. In all other ways (including, crucially, ground-clearance), the 4Runner has become a softer, more car-like vehicle.
SUVs may become less popular, but it won't be because their essential nature as SUVs must be maintained. And, given the number of SUVs already on the road, it will be many years before the view from a Civic is anything but obstructed.
This is a sad commentary, either on me or the state of American politics, but for the past few weeks, I've been trying to think of a female vice-presidential candidate for the Democrats and I've come up with zilch.
There are lots of ways to slice the middle, and putting a woman on the ticket just might peel away enough voters from Bush to make a difference across the country. But you can't throw just any woman onto the ticket. Unless she's really spectacular, it would smack of gimmickry and desperation; and, given the perceived threat of terrorism, government matters right now and we all want competent, not just attractive, people to lead.
But who? My first choice would likely be Madeleine Albright, but she's not eligible (not born in the US). Is there anyone else?
Did I say $5? $8. Now that's a scam. Anyway, you all can owe me.
While we're in the recommendation business here (see Unf below), I'll throw in my two cents: Lost in Translation is a wonderful movie. Smart and funny and poignant. Bill Murray plays one of the saddest characters I've ever seen, while being hilarious. Not sure how he does it, but I'm guessing Oscar. Seriously. And I've been a Scarlett Johansson fan since Mannie & Lo and now she's grown up and still terrific; you know, smart and tough and vulnerable, just like a lady.
And Japan finally gets its due as a truly foreign place. Not stylized, not romanticized, just foreign. I spent last night talking to people who'd spent a lot of time in Japan, and based on what they said (and the comments of the guy behind me as we walked out of the movie), Lost in Translation really gets Japan right. Go ahead, go see it; it won't cost much more than a single post here.
So I finally got around to listening to the new Liz Phair album on Saturday. I put it on my iPod and listened to it while riding along the lake. Maybe because I was fighting a head wind while listening to it, or maybe because I got it from amazon about two days after it became available on iTunes (need I say that it would have been cheaper and easier to buy it on iTunes?), but I really didn't like it very much. As I've said, I don't begrudge Liz Phair making a pop album. In fact, I don't begrudge anyone making a pop album. But this just isn't a very good pop album. None of the songs are particularly catchy or tuneful. None of them stick in your mind and none of them make you want to sing along. Oh well. I'll probably still buy whatever Liz Phair puts out next. I'm kinding of hoping that the critical failure of this album will trigger some kind of downward spiral of shame and depression which she will pull out of only when she finds the voice that wrote her earlier albums.
If anyone is looking for a slightly used copy of "Liz Phair", just let me know. All interesting offers will be considered.
On the other hand, the album I listened to with the wind at my back, namely Welcome, Interstate Managers by Fountains of Wayne, is really good. Very tuneful and catchy. I recommend it highly.