Friday, February 13, 2004
Five Solid BooksFun time from Crooked Timber: They're listing books written after 1970 that every educated person ought to have read. So I'm listing five books here that I think are indispensable:
No one can resist writing about books.
posted by kriston at 8:24 AM........
From Boom to BustPlans abandoned for a new Austin Museum of Art building. Too bad; Austin's two recent opportunities to hit the scene have slipped away. (Referring to this museum and more emphatically the University of Texas's shot at a museum by Herzog and de Meuron, which they pissed away.) While I'm on the subject, I have a couple of Austin economy ?s: Anything happening with the Intel skeleton? (For my non-Austinites, Intel started physically developing a large building downtown right around the bust, and then abandoned it; artists gaze longingly at its potential space but mostly, it's just an eyesore.) Also, what's the name of the new skyscraper, and is it being used to capacity?
posted by kriston at 8:01 AM........
Thursday, February 12, 2004
Kerry vs Clinton; HimselfOh boy:
Rumor has it that John Kerry (D) is going to be outed by Time Magazine next week for having an affair with a 20 year old woman who remains unknown. The affair supposedly took place intermittently right up to Kerry's Fall 2002 announcement of candidacy. At present, this is nothing more than a rumor; and after such sordid tactics as the "push polling" that took place in South Carolina in the 2000 elections, can such rumors be credible during campaign cycles? Could this create a Democratic backlash against Republicans for perceived scandalmongering?To borrow a Kerry-ism: Fuck. Dubious whispering courtesy by way of a skeptical Atrios.
CLARIFICATION: I found the above link/quote through the Drudge Retort; the actual Drudge Report version adds the typical lascivious salivation:
A serious investigation of the woman and the nature of her relationship with Sen. John Kerry has been underway at TIME magazine, ABC NEWS, the WASHINGTON POST, THE HILL and the ASSOCIATED PRESS, where the woman in question once worked.Aye-yay-yay-aye. Maybe there's a reason Clark wanted to stick it out? To quote Clark, Jr: Fuck.
EVEN MORE: Kevin Drum's picked this up and his commenters (along with Congressional Quarterly, apparently) are pointing at Clark press secretary and one-time Kerry campaign adviser Chris Lehane for shopping this story out. If that's the truth, man, that's dirty, but I'm venturing no further into the rumor-mongering.
LAST NOTE: If you can trust Nedra Pickler's word, Wesley Clark plans to endorse John Kerry, which is odd if the Clark camp was working to slur John Kerry. It's not been explained yet how Clark knew what he knew, if that's all even true, or how Chris Lehane fits into the picture, or how Yoko Ono fits into the picture, or who shot JFK, or who shot JR for that matter. This story is starting to bleed, so we'll see.
Or is it Kerry vs Schwarzenegger?
posted by kriston at 11:47 AM........
Kerry vs EdwardsJake Rosenfield on John Edwards via John Kerry:
And these primary voters may not be wrong on the issue of Kerry's electability. Now that Kerry looks likely, many are starting to point to John Edwards as a more electable guy. Perhaps. But Edwards has serious liabilities too; liabilities that go beyond being wooden on the stump or having botox injections. He's young and looks younger, and sounds younger than he looks, and he has no foreign policy experience save for a short stint on the Senate Committee on Intelligence. That's a huge liability running against a wartime Prez.Kerry's critics say that all he needs is a tank and he'll be Dukakis, and Bush's critics say that he was presumptuous to call himself a wartime president in his Meet the Press interview. Both sets are naive to believe that the war on terror ends when we prematurely pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan in June. Electability is key in the primary but is not all that's at stake in '04, and I don't feel like I've seen Edwards address this in his campaign.
What can Edwards bring to that table?
posted by kriston at 11:17 AM........
Weighing in on the BarnesPeter Schjeldahl's New Yorker defense of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, possibly doomed by financial difficulties, is convincing (especially if you've never been). There's an impassioned debate taking place about the future of the Barnes, which faces a physical move that might rescue its fiscal viability, yet alter that which makes the Barnes an atypical and valuable museum:
The weirdness and the glory of the Barnes come down to the same thing: a relentlessly pedagogical intention behind the placement of everything. The lessons are rarely obvious. Most have to do with contrasts and comparisons of composition, line, color, texture, and other formal qualities. Some seem trivial (the rhyming of a teapot spout with the angle of a piece of driftwood in a Gauguin), if not crudely jokey (two unusually wide wooden chairs beneath two massive Renoir nudes).Critics of museums often describe them as mausoleums, and the Barnes is seen as an alternative to the hand-holding methodology that waters down art. I haven't seen the Barnes but have been in at least one space that not only housed but complimented its, and that was the Marino Marini Museum in Florence. I have as sincere an affection for that space as I do for his work, so I sympathize with Barnes supporters—but I don't think they're being serious. Unless they can summon some serious creative thinking, preventing the move will likely involve selling parts of the collection, an absurd sacrifice. Tyler Green has written exhaustively on the Barnes question and takes the less popular, pragmatic side of the debate: Suck it up and move.
I especially identify with Schjeldahl's comments about having to have an opinion on this burning question without having seen the Barnes. This is a real problem for people who get situated in cities other than New York.
posted by kriston at 10:19 AM........
Scoring Points on the Bush AdministrationHere from the Sun Herald are the boldest media statements so far suggesting that back in the early 70s, with all evidence not to the contrary, George W. Bush was a lousy frat-boy. He moved to Alabama before requesting a transfer, and stayed there after his Texas Air Nat'l Guard authorities denied his request; he skipped physicals and was stripped of his flying status; he fought hard for a cherry spot in an Alabama squadron of postal handlers while a war waged in Viet Nam; he was likely disciplined, transferred to a paper unit, and regarded as a "ghost soldier," like Richard Cohen, who has not been shy about skipping his guard duty and yet receiving both pay and an honorable discharge. Some speculate that Bush skipped his physicals because of drug use and won't open his entire record for fear of revealing a litany of arrests.
It's like we're meeting our president for the first time and we're falling in love all over again.
The feeding frenzy is interesting—the press corps smells the blood in the water and has decided it's safe territory to boot—but I basically agree with Bush's defenders that the president has reformed. Lousy leader that he is, I don't think his administration is marred by coke binges; though I don't doubt that President Bush would rather play Super Nintendo than meet with the Council of Economic Advisers, his leadership faults won't be clarified by the revelation that George W. Bush would rather play Super Nintendo than fight Charlie to the death in the jungle. So what do we gain from this renewed media scrutiny?:
Plus there's that whole matter of "the truth" or whatever it is these journalists do.
posted by kriston at 8:21 AM........
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
It Turns Out Cell Phones Really Are DangerousI only hope this is the scariest thing I see all day: The Cell Gun. From Owen Courreges at Southern Appeal. Sometimes, when I need to call someone, I find myself also needing to... shoot someone.
The American answer to Euro text-messaging.
posted by kriston at 10:50 AM........
Compassionate ConservatismThe specific language of the Federal Marriage Amendment to the US Constitution that Bush plans to endorse:
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.The article continues, saying that the "amendment's authors say it is a compromise that would not stop state legislatures from allowing civil unions," but "[g]ay rights groups disagree." Add to that literate people—can that paragraph be read as anything else but instructions forbidding civil unions? Conservatives want to take action in both the House and Senate before May 17, the date the Massachusetts decision takes effect.
Take it away, Sue and Not U.
For shame, President Bush.
posted by kriston at 10:28 AM........
Wesley ClarkI'm distressed by Clark's departure from the primaries, so feel free to take my spin with a grain of salt, but I think that we lost the best leader that we could've had for the next four years. I'm disappointed to see certain Edwards supporters respond gleefully to the news; I understand that, on paper, Clark's exit marginally improves Edwards's shot in the primaries, for how much ever longer Edwards sticks around. But Clark was never the Southern Edwards-lite—or the outsider Dean-lite or the war hero Kerry-lite for that matter—and though the Edwards camp looked sidelong at Clark for drawing the votes they saw as potentially their own, the real tent the two have been splitting is that of the trumped, not that of the un-Kerry. And while I'm feeling ornery, I'll go ahead and say that smooth talk and earnest heart notwithstanding, Edwards has been in the Senate for about fifteen minutes and our foreign entanglements are growing bloodier just as our current administration grows more resolute about leaving both Iraq and Afghanistan by June. I'll support the eventual Democrat and, echoing Mark Kleiman's obit, Wesley Clark will surely find other avenues. (The eventual candidate will have to weigh Clark as a VP, and an '04 Dem president would be foolish to overlook him for a cabinet slot.)
We all watched Clark's slow burn, so rote and publicly emphasized, so no need to go down that sad parade. It's not over yet, so I hope the other candidates can avoid those pitfalls, especially in the general.
MORE: Over at Headfake.
Sue me, I'm bitter, but I'll get past it.
posted by kriston at 9:31 AM........
1994Disgruntled Springfield rocker Resident Jason links to an online 'zine article about the sexist nature of emo music. The author, Jessica Hopper, argues that the first wave of emo bands—Sunny Day Real Estate, Jawbreaker, and Jawbox—swept through with songs about (real) girls, and later bands that did the emo sound not suprisingly borrowed the specifics of this emo motif. Though heartbreak is key to all blues-oriented music (except when it's drug-oriented music), Hopper thinks that possession of women emerged as a distinct element of the emo signature. She's light on examples, but I get her gist, and it might be worth a second look, were emo not dead and rotting in the scratched/resale bins of the nation. "Emo theory." Ridiculous. I got a chuckle out of seeing 50 Cent listed as one of her regular listens—but only a laugh. I don't want anyone getting post-feminist on hip-hop before noon.
In other rock-related corners, Ted Barlow from the seemingly too pointy-headed for punk Crooked Timber reviews the solo album by Dr. Frank of the Mr. T Experience fame. (For some reason, Dr. Frank keeps popping up in things I read, which makes me feel like I'm in high school.) Ted calls MTX part of the holy trinity of pop-punk, including Screeching Weasel and the Queers. That's about what worship looked like for me back in '94. I had a Queers T-shirt that had me perpetually on my way to the principal's office in high school. What's sick is that those guys are still a band. And what with the Pixies reuniting and even mounting a tour, I think the 90s are starting over or something.
I'll be first in line for the Soundgarden tour. Man, I still don't like what you've got me hangin' from.
posted by kriston at 8:28 AM........
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Abandon ShipPandagon Jessie says that Bill O'Reilly apologized for backing George W. Bush on WMD claims in Iraq. And I was surprised by Sully's angry take on President Bush's Meet the Press appearance. That it? No more love for Dear Leader? It's as if conservatives smell weakness...
Really, there's probably something to be said about bipartisan dissatisfaction with Bush and an opportunity for burying some large hatchets, but, eh. I think that many conservatives are still not seriously addressing the problems inspired by the Bush administration over the last few years, and this hesitant reevaluation from some corners ought to be taken only as a cautionary tale by Mr. Kerry. These critical conservatives treading water will take Kerry's first slip on the general trail as the whistle to return to Rove's lockstep small tent, which is why I think Kerry is going to play this nice and calm. You can already see it in his aloof, elevated language—the goal isn't now to lead a small, unruly band against the dragon Smaug or whatever, but to win an election against an incumbent politician. They're on equal footing.
Thank goodness it's not Dean.
posted by kriston at 3:52 PM........
Damned LeftiesMattie Wright told me that there was going to be some kind of large protest here in DC during the week that he's here. Lo and behold, A.N.S.W.E.R. is staging a "global day of action" on March 20th in four sub-globe cities, but it looks as if DC will be spared... for whatever reason. My handy activism calendar says we've got big IMF and pro-choice events in April, but otherwise, the docket looks slow during spring break.
Guess I'll have no choice but to have a good time with visiting friends and not be a damned cause-head. If you don't know, I don't hold much activism/protest in high regard, at least not how it stands—constant, theatric, and with no discrete purpose. Anyway, I'm not just bitching to hear myself type: Daniel Davies of Crooked Timber links to an essay coauthored by Doug Henwood—author of the much-hyped After the New Economy—on why "activismists" are such a drag.
If it sounds like stuffy academics picking on undergraduate Widespread Panic fans, well, can't really argue with that. But Davies makes the point that hyperprotesters can affect real problems for the worse, saying by way of example that "[t]his is the type of thinking which gave us the single-company anti sweatshop campaigns of the 1990s, which today have resulted in a Southeast Asian clothing industry consisting of a few lovely air-conditioned palaces making clothes for Nike, in the context of a rest of industry that has hardly changed at all." Mostly but not necessarily harmless; definitely irritating.
PETA makes protest practically a fetish.
posted by kriston at 2:27 PM........
I suspect the Old Dominion will stand with Kerry. It's that New England liberal spirit!
posted by kriston at 11:30 AM........
Aren't Breasts Ashcroft's Beat?I haven't paid attention to the Janet Jackson boob coverage—or lack thereof—except inasmuch as it represents an escalation in the PR arms race between Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. Innocents are getting hurt, you demagogues!
But I'm furious with the FCC's feigned righteous indignation over the halftime stunt. While the FCC (de)regulators ignore pleas from local communities and radio artists and spur television producers toward speculative market investment, they claim to be sensitive to local market taste—threatening formal bans on content and stiffer indecency fines. Broadcast defends its business:
Broadcasters vigorously defend their programming, but acknowledge that, even if you take CBS and MTV executives (MTV produced the halftime show) at their word when they say they did not plan the display, the general tenor of network television has changed in recent years. But they say it's not fair to bring the hammer down on just the broadcasters alone.But "lobbyist from a major broadcast network" is only partly right to blame content censorship: Cable is proving pretty easily that appealing to and reaching the entire market spectrum is not the wisest strategy. The big broadcasters would like to have the same national dominance that Clear Channel has over the radio market, which allows CC to broadcast Bubba the Love Sponge filth across the nation. (BTLS, a Tampa-based DJ, promotes himself as "what the FCC doesn't want you to hear," though that's exactly opposite from the truth.) But cable is successful not for lowest-common denominator programming, but for niche programming.
Relative merits aside, broadcast television has a public interest that cable television does not, and that public interest is sanctioning local coverage and access (and to some extent, local values). The FCC (and Senate) do neither by setting national media ownership caps at 39% (instead of 35%) in order to protect CBS and FOX from adjusting to nationally beneficial levels; by their own admission, big media networks are in a race to expand to the most prurient, violent, and nationally homogenous lowest common denominator.
So long as someone airs Teen Titans, I'm set.
posted by kriston at 10:36 AM........
The Honeymoon is Wearing ThinJerry Saltz of the Villiage Voice on John Currin's mid-career retrospective at the Whitney:
Writers gush that Currin is "sincere." Yet most artists are sincere these days. Praising sincerity is like praising beauty or truth: It sounds good but doesn't say much. It's also a sneaky way of saying, "Irony is dead"?and let's hope no form of humor ever dies. In truth, Currin's paintings are nothing if not double-edged. What distinguishes his work is not its sincerity but how twistedly and wickedly insincere it is. Currin is sincere the way pornography is sincere: The line between what's feigned and unfeigned is blurred. When he's on, Currin opens a fascinatingly disquieting psycho-visual space. As with pornography, when he's off, his work turns unintentionally silly.And he goes on to damn Currin with more faint praise, mostly by proxy of criticizing the ebullient praise of Currin's supporters. It was all sounding too good, and not wanting things to get out of hand, Saltz's come along with some tongue-wagging for everybody.
I was still gripped by the single work I've seen by (as Kim Levin wrote it) "our premier mannerist;" the work was as smart and sassy as it was inviting from across Boston's long MFA atrium (though I admit, I might've have just been stunned by the lack of contemporary work). Having not seen the Whitney show, I don't have a horse in this race, but one of Saltz's points sounded sensible to me:
Currin's supporters say he's "influential." In fact, a number of his painterly peers? Elizabeth Peyton, Peter Doig, Takashi Murakami, Luc Tuymans, Laura Owens, and Matthew Ritchie, among them?have influenced other artists more with their individual styles. This doesn't make them better or Currin worse. It means that Currin's style is so particular that no one else can work in it.Which recommends him to the textbooks but threatens expiration if he doesn't adapt. It's a concern you face as a mid-career artist—maybe Currin ought to have a little fling with some frilly video installation or something.
Jed Perl of TNR has more on Currin (you can't get to it without a subscription). In his lead he says that Currin's paintings "perfectly express the emptiness of an artist and an art scene;" sounds suspiciously like Martin Amis when asked about what comes next in literature after postmodernism: Apres le deluge, storytelling, of a more classical variety. In other words, a retreat. I don't think the sky is falling all that hard now.
Tyler Green has more on Currin (and Mr. Perl, for that matter).
posted by kriston at 8:25 AM........
Monday, February 09, 2004
The Internet: Finally, Genuinely HelpfulDimmy Karras links to What to Rent, a program that administers a personality test and some questions about your mood and then tells you what flick you need. Not bad, actually—they pegged me with Secretary and American Psycho—two of my favorite recent films, both of which I'd be in the mood to see right now. Fun, though I can't imagine they'll ever nail the Brothers Quay, though I admit that the mood for that kind of stuff is a weird one. And I've probably skewed the results too much toward black comedies for Freddie vs. Jason, either.
They should design one of these things for couples—what's the middle ground between Trois Coleurs and Jason X?
posted by kriston at 3:48 PM........
Not Quite the Day the Music DiedCheers to the Washington Post for publishing an article on the demise of record retailers without mentioning a single Washington record store. You have to wonder whether writer David Segall was turning his nose up at the December closure of DC CD, a not-small operation in the cultural epicenter of the District, or if he's so blissfully unfamiliar with record retail that he believes that the sorry fate of ineptly planned hyperchains like Tower, Sam Goody, and Wherehouse represent real loss. He may not be tapped into the independent pulse, but he mentions an indie Carolina chain—was he out on campaign coverage?—making his omission his backyard record store casualty more onerous.
As for his analysis: Heavy on red herrings like iTunes, no mention at all of the real reaper, Clear Channel.
More on Clear Channel/downloading later.
posted by kriston at 2:50 PM........
Return of SchnabelJust when you thought it was safe to talk about a bouyant arts market, Julian Schnabel gets a retrospective:
A quarter-century ago, Schnabel electrified New York with his plate paintings, heavily painted portraits executed on canvases layered with broken crockery. Swashbuckling across 1970s cool minimalism, Schnabel's bold, larger-than-life-size works announced that painting still mattered, that figurative art could be innovative, spontaneous, different. Hailed as patron saint of a revitalised genre in the US and mainland Europe, though not in England ("people in England have a fucking problem... critics are dumb, inutile, hate mail masquerades as reviews"), he was rich and famous before he was 30.Who's really earned a retrospective after 20-odd years? Certainly it's an accomplishment when an artist can still claim relevance after two decades—but I'm not at all sure Schnabel should be afforded that. He called himself Giotto, accelerated the wreck of the 80s market, and now his paintings are falling apart. Your critic from the Financial Times asserts he's "not a good painter or an exceptional draughtsman," but his "faith in painting" makes him "a lively, valuable presence in today's art world." Far from the mark, to put it kindly, at a time when artists such as Gerhard Richter, John Currin, and Luc Tuymans are proving that talent and craftsmanship are back. I sympathize with artists who rose in the 80s only to find themselves ignored and sometimes blacklisted when everyone dissed that decade, but Schnabel doesn't get my sentiments—he helped sink the ship.
To make it worse, the exhibit's traveling, though right now just in Europe.
posted by kriston at 2:22 PM........
Haiti and Intervention (featuring Football and Intervention)JSB of Burton Terrace says that the plummeting state of Haiti is neither a "light-skinned versus dark-skinned" conflict nor an "oligarchy against the common people" conflict, but a conflict spurred by the "fading of a cult of personality." (Wasn't Aristide a Roman Catholic priest when he was elected? Cult of personality is a strong phrase... though I don't pretend to know the details.) JSB is rightly skeptical of cries of American imperialism—we can't be everywhere, you know—but Haiti makes one hell of a case for American intervention.
One lesson from Paul Berman's great Terror and Liberalism that has real predictive potential is that where you have institutional poverty today, you will find terrorism tomorrow. Call me a thumb-sucking liberal for endorsing Big Nation-building, but an undeniable side effect of globalization is that the hegemon takes greater responsibility in the suffering of the lowliest states. At the very least, one day Africa will come calling on Big Pharma over AIDS medical patents; I don't think that's an hysterical claim. It's just within our national interest to intervene when nations hit absolute rock bottom, such as Haiti has.
CORRECTION: It occurs to me that, well, it's a bit arrogant to outline in under 40 words my robust vision for the role of US economic hegemony. You give me a laptop and DSL and I'll bang out some muscular liberalism in 15-minutes flat. So let me redirect your attention toward the Miami Herald and its "recruiting journal" series on Willie Williams, star high-school linebacker who just signed with the 'Canes and may be celebrating from jail. Best quote, from his visit to Auburn, to a woman who's kept him waiting in the cold: "What do you think I am - a snowman!" Do you need 40 words to explain why the Clarett decision is wrong?
I direct you to JSB for futher questioning.
posted by kriston at 11:10 AM........
Back in the USSRMoscow:
Ivan Rybkin -- former speaker of Parliament and strong critic of President Vladimir Putin -- went missing on Thursday.Now, the only thing that I can report with confidence about the (post-Soviet) Russian street is that American instincts are almost always wrong. We liked Gorbechev—Russians hated him. He was universally disliked and even disparaged for having a hick accent, but my own impressions of him as a lad was that he was a more stately guy than Ronald Reagan. We were also pretty amused by Yeltsin—Russians, not so much. Yeltsin was Russia's U.S. Grant—up to and including the alcoholism (both were only sober whenever they were military commanders). There's great doubts here about Putin, but you won't find a more revered political figure in Russia today; he earns JFK-like adoration and I think that only strengthened with his prosecution of the oligarchs.
The news of Rybkin's disappearance is terrible. One American instinct here might be proved right: If you don't authorize the investigation of the disappearance of major political figures/party critics, you may be a KGB thug.
Thanks to Kevin for the article nod.
posted by kriston at 10:27 AM........
Someone Buy That Man a Ticket to Coachella!I don't know if the Calpundit is the biggest of indie music fans, but he deserves something nice: Kevin Drum has assembled a readable accounting of Bush's spotty military service (with assistance, no doubt, from Martin Feldt). In the latest installment in Drum's accounting for President Bush's Texas Air National Guard service, Drum glosses a non-torn document that clearly implies that part of Bush's duty was served in a disciplinary "paper unit" called the ARF. How this works still seems to be anyone's guess, but kudos to Drum for employing his weblog in its best capacity, as a media tool for properly vetting the expanses of the Internet.
It shouldn't take long to get to the bottom of this. In his "White House Briefing" column, Dan Froomkin quotes Richard A. Serrano of the LAT, who explains that those Colorado documents Bush referred to Sunday are pay records at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Denver, but "before any records could be released, a Freedom of Information Act request must be filed and that the agency would then show the records to the White House communications office before proceeding."
The AWOL story has legs and it is important. Were this story to have emerged in 2000 as it has now—basically, were the Internet and bloggers around back then the way they are now—it would have been mightily key to Bush's character. That sort of character issue isn't as relevent to a reelection campaign, and I think that the commenters who are hoopin' and hollerin' at Calpundit have analyzed it wrong. The reason this story is important is that it changes Karl Rove, not George W. Bush. There'll be no more portraying Democrats as cowards: No campaign displaying honorable soldiers like Max Cleland alongside Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. No campaign disparaging John Kerry for his post-Viet Nam book featuring an upside-down American flag. No (Republican) campaign featuring George Bush in combat gear. And that's the way it should be.
Next stop: Tom DeLay.
posted by kriston at 9:51 AM........
Lawrence Silberman: No Friend of the United StatesWhile driving this morning I listened to an NPR profile of retired Republican US Appeals Court Justice Lawrence Silberman, who, along with Democratic Senator Chuck Robb, is leading Bush's WMD commission. The report described Silberman's collusion (as a Reagan campaign aide) in attempts to forestall the "October surprise," the release of Iranian hostages before the election, which was seen as a boon to Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter. Appointed to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals by Reagan, Silberman presided over the appeals of Lt. Col. Oliver North and Adm. John Poindexter in 1990, and decided to void the convictions of both, earning an accusation of judicial misconduct by Iran-Contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh. (The dubious logic behind the decision was that it could not be proved that North's and Poindexter's nationally televised, immunized congressional testimony did not affect witnesses or jury members in both cases—though the prosecution specifically had been shielded from such testimony. Simply put, the prosecution could not prove a negative.)
As NPR is successfully waging its war against archived material, even from this morning, I found details from Lawrence Walsh's report on the Iran-Contra affair. First, here's Justice Silberman on his opinion that Oliver North received an unfair trial:
Presidents, even ex-Presidents, may not be called to testify capriciously or needlessly. But this is not such a case. North worked in the White House, only one step removed from the President himself, with what appears to have been enormous responsibility. He has been convicted of violating criminal statutes (never before employed as here) and his defense is that he was lawfully doing the President's bidding, and doing so with regard to a substantive area of national security policy, which, whatever one's view of those policies, would have been thought at the core of the Chief Executive's constitutional responsibility. His immediate superior, Admiral Poindexter, was unavailable as a defense witness. Under these circumstances, for the trial judge to have refused to compel Reagan's testimony, was to deprive North of a fair trial.Circular to say the least, because as Walsh explains, Judge Gesell (who presided over North's conviction) flatly denied North's subpoena of President Reagan for good reason:
. . . Whether or not authorization is a defense, authorization is not established by atmosphere, surmise or inference. The written record has been exhausted in this regard. The trial record presently contains no proof that defendant North ever received any authorization from President Reagan to engage in the illegal conduct alleged, either directly or indirectly, orally or in writing. No such authorization to any obstruction or false statement count has been identified in materials submitted to the Court by the defense either in CIPA proceedings or on the public record. Additionally, the Court has examined President Reagan's responses to extensive interrogatories furnished by him under oath to the grand jury as well as references (filed herewith under seal) to portions of Mr. Reagan's personal diary developed by Independent Counsel during the investigatory stages of this matter. Nothing there even remotely supports an authorization claim.These decisions reveal a particular bent to Silberman's definition of national security. Silberman is not an appropriate candidate for the Iraq intelligence commission. Bush had any number of Republican officials to choose from that would served perfectly well in an intelligence commission, but instead he displayed the same lack of integrity he showed when he chose Henry Kissinger for the 9/11 commission. It will be up to Sen. Robb and Sen. McCain to keep Silberman's whitewashing leanings in check.
Maybe someone can explain to me one day how you can be involved with Pinochet or the Iran-Contra affair or Cambodia and always be guaranteed a job in a Republican administration. I think that party lacks a sense of shame.
posted by kriston at 8:33 AM........
Sunday, February 08, 2004
Quantum Political DynamicsQPD course description, to be taught by The Poor Man:
Anyone with any understanding of the political process understands instinctively that things like positions on issues, policy proposals, and voting records are entirely superfluous to any serious analysis. Candidates are, according to the Standard Model of Political Science, completely described as stable groupings of 3 characteristics or anti-characteristics, analogous to the "three-quark" model of baryons. These so-called "candidatons" are:Please note that QPD is an UPPER-DIVISION section course. You will not be admitted unless you have taken at least nine hours of lower-division amateur political analysis (ex: The Corner, Instapundit.) G.p counts only for non-majors. SOC 322 (Physical Health and the Primaries—"Our Candidates, Our Selves") may be substituted for three hours of lower-division coursework.
Thank you for calling. Goodbye, and good luck.
posted by kriston at 5:49 PM........
The WTC: Too Fast, Too FuriousAn enlightening survey from the New Yorker summarizes the misstepts and compromises that have eroded Daniel Libeskind's initial master plan for the WTC into a mishmash more closely resembling the first designs that New York and the nation collectively rejected. Dissolved, basically, is the Freedom Tower, the literal and metaphorical pinnacle of Libeskind's plan—the top of which transformed from an assymetrical spire to a skeletal cable cap enclosing a windmill farm (under a different architect's pen), which itself will probably never materialize. The slurry wall has been slushed by Michael Arad and the development team responsible for the memorial—another of Libeskind's defining features.
I don't hesitate to sympathize with Libeskind, and not just because he's one of the few associated architects not employed by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, and as (not) such is working for a purer pursuit; New York approved of Libeskind's design, and rightly thought it was what they'd be getting. My partisan stance isn't totally justifiable—there are a lot of players involved and the the process has been degraded more by a brutally accelerated schedule than by any individual's machinations—but I'm only interested in what makes the best skyline.
As the writer notes, there's still more to come, though it doesn't like good news will be pouring in.
posted by kriston at 5:25 PM........
The AftermathI'm not acting in accordance with standard US Blogger Protocols (as outlined by the WiFi Cafe Convention) in not commenting exhaustively on Bush's Meet the Press appearance this morning. It wasn't the softball I thought it was going to be; when Tim Russert gave air to the AWOL theme, newly resurfaced (and escalated) by Terry McAuliffe, I was impressed. But beyond that item, this interview was identical to one that might've taken place in the fall of last year. Really the entire political debate is still stuck in a quagmire regarding the wisdom of the Iraq decision, which is striking, since we're ostensibly leaving Iraq in June. The national reticence to move on might be both Howard Dean's fault and his fall—he built a trend-setting platform based on what he saw as his competitors' erroneous support, but the voters dropped the question well before the pundits did. I get the impression that Tom Friedman, for example, will never get past it, and will spend the rest of his life telling us he was right, no matter how it turns out. Maybe the dialogue isn't progressing because the questions don't have great answers.
Nevertheless, Meet the Press: No Valerie Plame, no Massachusetts decision, no budget outlook over the next four years, no real talk about the future of the war on terror. Matt Yglesias noticed quickly that Tim Russert missed some very obvious follow-ups regarding "[a]nything demonstrating awareness of the difference between Nat. Guard service today (onerous, honorable) and during the Vietnam era (neat way to dodge combat)" and "[a]nything about the use of family connections to secure the Guard slot." Total dodge. Still, there's a gold star waiting for the first reporter who asks Scott McClellan tomorrow morning to fork over those serviced records that President Bush promised in the interview. Five'll get you ten it's Dana Milbank.
Scott won't be calling on Helen Thomas, that much is certain.
posted by kriston at 3:08 PM........
Twisted MetalThough I'm all for worried speculation about the rise of a domineering Republican oligarchy in the United States and the changing texture of American politics, there brews a silent force that is changing the face of America itself: Frank Gehry. Having conquered LA and with a facade in the works for DC, Gehry extends his power-hungry grasp toward Chicago, contributing his signature to both a music pavillion and a bridge for Millenium Park. Apocalyptic sci-fi sybils usually attribute their dark portents to geopolitical meltdowns and ensuing atomic wars, but the reason the future is draped in blasted, twisted, stainless steel is because Frank Gehry will have designed the entire United States to the tune of his industrial vision.
Where will the last stand against seemingly provocative but readily accessible architecture take place? Texas—which will always stand true against the forces of art.
posted by kriston at 2:36 PM........