Saturday, January 03, 2004
Supporting Our Troops......with higher prescription drug costs. Just speculating, but I wonder if President Bush feels that he can shirk veterans because he'll likely be running against anti-war Howard Dean, or if he's shirking veterans because they comprise a large domestic-spending burden, which he's trying to curtail in his '05 budget. Either way, a shirked veteran is an unhappy voter.
Link courtesy of Atrios.
It's going to take a lot of shirked veterans to make up for the $450 billion deficit projected for 2004.
posted by kriston at 3:52 PM........
Wonkery Super SaturdayYou know you can't go wrong with an article entitled "Books as Art Objects". I'm not so demure as other art aficionados about my unfashionable appreciation for text-based art, but this exhibit by Virginia Bartow at the New York Public Library ("Ninety From the Nineties: A Decade of Printing") might please the critic who pooh-poohs the likes of Jenny Holzer and company. Rather than a feature of artists who appropriate text, Bartow features text-makers who appropriate art: The pieces on display were vetted by a single consideration, that they be created by Gutenberg's relief-printing process, limiting the field to those private presses, writers, illustrators, typographers, and sundry who are dedicated to the obsolete process.
Salivating yet? I knew you were! A taste from the article:
Probably the ultimate collaboration is "Exquisite Horse: A Printer's Corpse" (Silver Buckle Press), in which this game favored by the Dadaists has been played by 31 different artists and presses, each of whom was assigned sheets for the head and tail ends of the horse. The results are seemingly infinite zany combinations.I'm resisting the urge to quote the whole article. Just barely.
If New York is too far away and seeing books that you can't read sound like a waste of effort, but you don't find books-as-art books repulsive per se, may I suggest to you House of Leaves, by Mark Danielewski. You can find it anywhere, so flip through it the next time you're at the store, it's a fun romp—the book plays around with formatting, footnotes, blank pages, yadda yadda yadda. The book's definitely readable, even though its choose-your-own adventure format actually never directs you to certain sections of the text, and the pages are occasionally too scribbled to decipher whole paragraphs. The boon is that people on the Metro looking over your shoulder will know how PoMo you truly are.
All of these books may be found in the card catalogue under "Beach Reads."
posted by kriston at 1:19 PM........
Slow Day?From the front page of the NYT online edition, about a girl who was cuffed and imprisoned for wearing a terrorist midriff-exposing shirt, and refusing to change:
She was one of more than two dozen students in Toledo who were arrested in school in October for offenses like being loud and disruptive, cursing at school officials, shouting at classmates and violating the dress code. They had all violated the city's safe school ordinance.You might expect me to editorialize about the police state at this point, but I gotta say, all this makes me think is that people in Toledo are bizarre, and I don't need the NYT to tell me that. Here's the kicker:
Although few statistics are available, anecdotal evidence suggests that such cases are on the rise.So there's one set of numbers from Dade County in FL, whose bureaucracy proved their mettle to the world in 2000. Anyway, I'm going to settle this whole issue free of charge: Parents, go to your PTA meeting and vote against having your kids sent to jail for wearing Britney Spears-inspired clothing, because buying a bail bond is even more irritating than leaving work mid-day to pick up your brat. In the meantime, some advice for you, NYT—you've got bigger fish to fry.
Mind you, if you walked through any department store while you were xmas shopping or returning, you know that trampy clothes are all they offer ladies.
posted by kriston at 12:56 PM........
One More Bad EggFor my Texan readers, if your weekend plans included spitting on the grave of Sam Rayburn, don't bother, because Ralph Hall (D-Texas, 4th District) beat you to it. Yesterday Hall announced that he is joining the Republican Party. You see, Rayburn and Hall both represented the same region as Democratic Representatives, but while Rayburn helped pass much of the New Deal and held the House Speaker position longer than any other politician in American history, Hall has opted to switch parties when the going got tough. Specifically, when the GOP told him that his pork was denied specifically because he was a Democrat—a fine and honorable force to bow to, hmm?
I know there's great liquidity in party affiliation in Texas (so long as you're not a Republican under DeLay's thumb). I have it on good authority that Carole Keeton Strayhorn, the Texas Comptroller who may challenge Rick Perry in the next gubernatorial contest, is a Democrat in every sense but the name. I think it's screwy to switch parties midcareer and it's clearly advantageous for both parties if there's some Venn-diagram-style crossover; see Arnold Schwarzenegger, who the Repubs can hail as the Once and Future King even though he's far closer to me on social issues than W. Zell Miller of Georgia brayed about how the Democratic Party he'd long served was no longer the party he'd joined and what-not, and fluidity is good, though Miller's denunciation of the Dems was particularly atrocious since he no longer had anything to do with the party—not a reform effort, but a book campaign. But Hall, Hall's nominal 180 is admittedly motivated by the worst political considerations. The GOP wouldn't let him near the trough, and instead of condemning rank partisan behavior he endorses it.
We all know that pork moves politics but party fealty means something to voters, too, and the looming redistricting decision may not fall DeLay's way. If it doesn't, Texas Democrats will have an opportunity to let Hall know that loyalty counts for something.
MORE: I'm not kidding myself—I know that parcel to Hall's motive was concern about redistricting. Not that his seat was in much danger, since he's proven himself to the GOP by voting for Repubs for leadership positions. Basically... he's just an old coot, and we're better off without him.
Get a rope.
posted by kriston at 12:16 PM........
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
I'll Have What the General's Eating..."True Grits" sounds good to me, anyway. At some point in the next few idle days, I'll be saddling up for a big bowl of grits at the Florida Avenue Grill, which is covered from wall to wall in signed, framed photographs of prominent black figures, yet also curiously displays John Ashcroft, one of two white men featured. (The other, 'course, was Bill Clinton.)
You can't go wrong with Florida Ave's grits, and similarly, Clark can't go wrong with his Southern primary tour. Iowa was (stupidly) vocally discounted by Clark's campaign, and it doesn't look as if anyone's getting too close to Dean in New Hampshire (though undecideds persist in the polls). Clark realizes that the candidate who faces Dean is going to rise from the South. More shrewdly, Clark sees that there's a significant gap between Dean and minorities in which Clark could wedge himself, as Amy Sullivan noted some time ago.
UPDATE: Forgot that the Florida Avenue Grill is graced by Strom Thurmond's picture as well. (Thought that went without saying.)
But, Southerners want to know, is Clark a sausage patty or sausage link kind of candidate?
posted by kriston at 4:05 PM........
Sympathy for the DevilRegarding the simply awful earthquake that struck Bam, Iran, I must say that it's posed a strange opportunity for de-escalation for both Powell and the State-leaning playermakers in the Bush administration and Iran. The US is sort of sending humanitarian aid to Iran—through third-party institutions, since our sanctions prevent us from helping Iran directly—and the accompanying Washington hum has been more friendly than in the past (for instance, when we called Iran evil). Neither Khatami nor Powell are scuttling for normalization of relations, but both could use to stand down, and it would be wonderful if by aiding Iran with this crisis we could maybe lay a foundation for talks concerning US/Iranian interests, such as Iraq, or the emerging student democratic movement in Iran. That approach is this new theory called diplomacy which sometimes world hegemons use to maybe get what they want.
UPDATE: I'm not trying to use the tragedy in Iran to score an anti-Bush freethrow or anything. I guess I'm really trying to say that it shouldn't take a foreign devastation to get Powell and co. to the trading post—whether that devastation be natural in nature or courtesy of American democracy-building. I'm tired of the fact that nearly everything I've heard about this earthquake has been about well maybe now we can talk with them, or maybe they shouldn't have been so backward as to build mud huts in the first place. If I'm only contributing to the problem by talking about the quake in terms of American policy, well, at least I wasn't tacky about it. I mean, my original impulse was to make a title with that song, And Iran, Iran so far away....
Really wild, leftist stuff, you know.
posted by kriston at 3:21 PM........
Curiouser and Curiuoser: RecusedSo I've been back for a day or two now and reluctant to get back to doing much of anything. It took no personage less than John Ashcroft, scourge of exposed boobs everywhere, to draw me out from my hole. Not because I'm a boob, but because Ashcroft recused himself from the Valerie Plame investigation:
Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey said Mr. Ashcroft had decided to step aside "out of an abundance of caution" and to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. Democrats have insisted that Mr. Ashcroft remove himself from the case because he has close ties to some of the people who may have been involved in the disclosure to the syndicated columnist Robert Novak.I was never so hyped about this maneuver as some because Ashcroft selects the special counsel anyway, which, to me, amounts to the Emperor handing over affairs to Darth Vader. But maybe not, according to Matthew Yglesias at Tapped:
Initially, I was a bit skeptical as to how Ashcroft stepping down in favor of his deputy would really improve matters, but this October profile of Jim Comey from New York magazine indicates that he's a respected career prosecutor and the same seems to be true of Patrick Fitzgerald according to this Chicago Tribune account, which also notes that Fitzgerald and Comey worked together in the New York U.S. Attorney's office during the Clinton years before both got promotions under the Bush administration.So maybe the Justice Department is stepping up to the plate. Ashcroft's late departure suggests to me that something will come of the investigation, and the he's waited until that fact was apparent before sidestepping... whatever it is he's sidestepping. (A conflict of interests? A boob?) As Dana Priest and Mike Allen report, the Bush administration is still reticent to view this investigation as anything other than a political mosquito:
Still, the White House is eager for the findings to emerge soon, or wait until after the November election. "The only fear I've heard expressed is that the investigation will be too slow or too fast and will kick into a visible mode in a way that is poorly timed for the election," the Republican said. "If they prosecuted someone tomorrow, I don't think the White House would care. And they can do it in December 2004. They just don't want it to become an issue in the election."I mean, come on. That doesn't even sound serious about leaks like Bush was huffing about when this story broke, much less serious about security breeches, the CIA, or much else. The Bush administration has insinuated all along, as Ebeneezer Scrooge might put it, that theres more of gravy than of grave to this scandal. Looks like it's up to Mr. Patrick Fitzgerald (and the Washington Post) to scare the Christmas back into them.
Probably won't see much more movement on this front this year. Ah, how I love almost-New-Year's jokes.
posted by kriston at 2:45 PM........