I am loving The Lost City.
I'm working overtime today, but I'm ticked at myself for not knowing about Swiss National Day before I agreed to do so. Now I have to miss fondue-eating, alphorn quartets, wooden cow painting, and guys throwing big rocks.
So London's Metropolitan Police got wind that ABC News was going to do a story that included images of the bombs that failed to explode on 7/7. They asked ABC to refrain from using these pictures "in the strongest possible terms. . .because they may prejudice both the ongoing investigation and any future prosecutions." ABC went ahead and broadcast the segment anyway, pictures intact.
So how does the Times cover the story of the police request and ABC's refusal? By illustrating it with the pictures, that's how.
Growing up in North Carolina (and, later, living in Atlanta), I would read the listings of what was going on in New York City and wish I lived in a place with all those options. (It wasn't bad in the least, living where I did, but New York has so much more of everything.) I'd subscribe to the New Yorker and marvel at the "Goings On About Town" section. And now that I live here, I may not get out to much, but it's great knowing the scope of what's available.
So I love that I live in a town where Jimmie Dale Gilmore plays a free concert downtown after work (as part of the Hudson River Festival.) And I love that I have friends who spot these sorts of things and e-mail me to let me know what's going on.
And it's certainly fun to get to see a legend for free.
(Brief video here.)
B. and I spent the weekend in Kentucky, at Lebowski Fest. We had a fantastic time.
Friday, we got up early and flew to Cincinnati. Tizzie picked us up in her supersweet convertible and, after a stop for some mighty fine burritos, drove us to Louisville. We checked into the hotel, hit the bar for the first of many oat sodas, and headed out to the riverfront amphitheater to catch the They Might Be Giants/Corn Mo show. Corn Mo was insane. It's rare that you go to a show and then say to yourself afterwards, "I've never seen anything like that." This was one of those times...operatic vocals, headbanging, songs about Gary Busey played on an accordion. (My favorite lyric: "Butterflies, moonbeams, romance/I wanna bang you.") Tizzie called him "a musical Sam Kinison", which seems just about right.
Then it was They Might Be Giants' turn, and I must say that it was a wee bit of a disappointment. TMBG is the perfect match for Lebowski Fest, but the show was a bit...off, somehow. The sound was muddy and inconsistent -- sometimes you could hear vocals, sometimes they were lost in the murk. I don't think the monitors were working very well either, because it seemed like the band couldn't hear itself, and Flansburgh was singing out of tune. But the between-song commentary was hilarious, and there was more of it than usual. Highlights included "New York City" (which was interrupted by fireworks from downtown Louisville), "No One Knows My Plan", which I hadn't heard in a long time, "Experimental Film", "Robot Parade", and "Hocus Pocus" by Focus (yodeling by Corn Mo.) They closed with "Fingertips", always a favorite. Then we heard from the winner of the Lebowski Fest Karaoke Contest, who performed "Humpty Dance", and then 'twas time for the movie screening. It's great to watch "The Big Lebowski" with hundreds of people yelling lines at the screen.
The only wrinkle was after the show: the promised (and paid-for) shuttle bus never materialized. We got in line at 1:50am, and when nothing showed by 2:30, the crowd got upset. One small bus sent by our hotel showed up, and some people broke out of the back of the line, ran over to where the bus was turning around, and headed it off. (Fuckin' amateurs...this agression will not stand, man.) The rest of the crowd started blocking the street, and then fortunately Tizzie took charge, called the hotel, and ordered up a bunch of cabs to get all 80 stranded fans home.
We woke up Saturday
morning afternoon and had a good brunch (with awesome cheese grits and summer berry pie) at Lynn's Paradise Cafe, a great quirky find (à la Baltimore's Cafe Hon or Atlanta's Java Jive.) We headed to the WHYLouisville store, the official HQ for all Lebowski Fest and Louisville goodies, and then it was time for the Garden Party. Bands played! Corndogs were eaten! Burlesque girls danced! Beer was drunk! (So were we!) We played games, including the Ringer Toss, the Marmot Fling, and the Mug Toss. But it was really hot, so after only maybe an hour or so we went back to the hotel and cooled off.
The Main Event that night was fantastic -- all manner of costumes, from several toes to the Jerkoff Manual, the Queen In Her Damned Undies, Nihilists, Arthur Digby Sellers in his iron lung, the Fuckin' Eagles, the Camel-Fuckers, and even a White Russian or two. We didn't bowl (we didn't want to wait for a lane), but we were happy to sit, drink Caucasians, and watch the parade go by.
Sunday, we went to a Bluegrass Brunch at the Monkey Wrench. (With a name like that, how could we pass it up?) I was a little leery of it at first, but the bluegrass band was good and the food was fantastic. This Southerner hasn't had sausage gravy as good as this in quite a long while. Biscuits were as fluffy as they're supposed to be, and the cheese grits were scrumptious. Satiated, it was back to Covington for a tour of Tizzie's neighborhood and Cincinnati. It was hot, so Tizzie rewarded us for our patience by taking us to the Sweet Tooth for a Newport ice ball. An ice ball is a traditional confection made in Newport, KY, and it's a layer of crushed ice with syrup (like a sno-cone; we all had ours with root-beer syrup), a thick layer of homemade vanilla ice cream, another layer of crushed ice with more syrup, and a sphere of crushed ice soaked with syrup atop the whole thing. Yum.
After bidding goodbye to Tizzie, Mr. Tizzie, and their seven
million dogs, it was time to fly back to LaGuardia and resume the daily grind. We will abide.
"Have you talked to Lex and do you have confidence in him?" a reporter asked Mr. Mxyztplk on Sept. 30, 2003. "Listen, I know of nobody," he replied. "I don't know of anybody in my cabal who leaked classified information about Superman. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action.". . .
While the cabal may have gone into "Fortress of Solitude" mode, associates of Luthor continued to attack his detractors and others involved in the controversy.
I'm getting a bit tired of the repeated wingnut assertion that Valerie Plame was some sort of "desk jockey" at the CIA, and therefore her exposure didn't harm anyone, so no harm, no foul. These commentators tend to paint her as some sort of glorified secretary, not as Jane Bond. (Never mind that no one was saying she was Jane Bond, but...)
Let's put this "desk jockey" nonsense to rest, shall we? Straight from the mouth of
the liberal media yesterday's Wall Street Journal:
A classified State Department memo that may be pivotal to the CIA leak case made clear that information identifying an agent and her role in her husband's intelligence-gathering mission was sensitive and shouldn't be shared, according to a person familiar with the document. . .
The memo's details are significant because they will make it harder for officials who saw the document to claim that they didn't realize the identity of the CIA officer was a sensitive matter. Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, may also be looking at whether other crimes -- such as perjury, obstruction of justice or leaking classified information -- were committed. . .
The paragraph in the memo discussing Ms. Wilson's involvement in her husband's trip is marked at the beginning with a letter designation in brackets to indicate the information shouldn't be shared, according to the person familiar with the memo. Such a designation would indicate to a reader that the information was sensitive.
And don't forget that the CIA itself requested a Justice Department investigation into the disclosure of Valerie Plame's status. And that AG AG's memo to White House staff requested that they preserve documents for an investigation "concerning the identity of an undercover CIA employee." And that the above-mentioned special prosecutor (and Republican appointee), Patrick Fitzgerald, obviously thinks it's a serious-enough allegation to devote an awful lot of time, energy, and resources to a multi-year investigation. So: good enough for the State Department, CIA, White House counsel, and special prosecutor, good enough for me.
ADDENDUM: Interesting move, nominating a cipher like Roberts. I am sure the timing (and the unusual manner of it, live and in prime time) is designed to draw attention away from RoveGate.
Let's keep our eye on the ball, okay?
So why did the White House (Rove, Libby, et al.) move so quickly and harshly to smear Joe Wilson? This wasn't your garden-variety character assassination that is, alas, normal coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania (like Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, et cetera), but something worse. Lives were endangered, and it's doubtful we will ever know the scope of the impact this smear campaign had on our national security...all in attempts to hurt a critic of the Bush Administration's policy.
Kevin Drum analyzes the White House's moves in this interesting post, answering the question:
So why did the White House go nuts? What were they so scared of that they went into full-blown smear-and-destroy mode?
Go read the post. But it's all about the nukes, and panderings to one's base.
Official Bush White House position on
Rove leakers of CIA operatives' names on September 29, 2003:
McCLELLAN: The President has set high standards, the highest of standards for people in his administration. He's made it very clear to people in his administration that he expects them to adhere to the highest standards of conduct. If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration. . .
Q You continue to talk about the severity of this and if anyone has any information they should go forward to the Justice Department. But can you tell us, since it's so severe, would someone or a group of persons, lose their job in the White House --
MR. McCLELLAN: At a minimum.
Q At a minimum?
MR. McCLELLAN: At a minimum.
Official Bush White House position on
Rove leakers of CIA operatives' names on September 30, 2003:
THE PRESIDENT: Let me just say something about leaks in Washington. . .And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.
Official Bush White House position on
Rove leakers of CIA operatives' names on June 10, 2004:
Q Given -- given recent developments in the CIA leak case, particularly Vice President Cheney's discussions with the investigators, do you still stand by what you said several months ago, a suggestion that it might be difficult to identify anybody who leaked the agent's name?
THE PRESIDENT: That's up to --
Q And, and, do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Official Bush White House position on Rove (leaker of CIA operative's name) today:
PRESIDENT BUSH: I would like this to end as quickly as possible so we know the facts, and if someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration.
(Emphasis mine.) See how one of these things is not like the others? See how one of these things just doesn't belong? Notice that, now that it's clear that Karl "Turd Blossom" Rove leaked Valerie Plame's status, Bush's position goes from "I'll fire anyone who leaked" to "I'll fire anyone who leaked and if they are convicted of a crime." It's kind of like the justifications for Gulf War II, shifting continually like the Iraqi sand: it's WMD. No, it's WMD programs. Nope, it's WMD-related program activities. "Brutal dictatorship." "Spreading democracy." "He tried to kill my dad."
Next week, I'm expecting to see something out of the White House along these lines:
THE PRESIDENT: People who leak classified information have no place in my administration. And if the leaker is indeed employed in my administration, and if they committed a crime, and if they really and truly meant to do so, and if they aren't sorry at all about it, and if it holds up on appeal, and if I feel like it, and if the energy lobby doesn't object, and if Dick Cheney says it's okay, and the criminal's name doesn't rhyme with "Marl Bove", then I will fire him or her. Because we need to have the confidence of the American people.
When the powers at Delta instituted a makeover about five years ago, the widget was given a rather unfortunate tweak, morphed into a kind of frumpy, half-melted triangle. It's seldom that a company will revert to a prior scheme, but that's just what happened at the world's second-largest airline. After protests against the widget's needless overhaul, the old one has returned.
Well done, but Delta's problem isn't its trademark widget. Instead, it's the tail. Use of the word "problem" here is maybe a curious one, as admittedly the tricolor banner -- something of a cross between a shower curtain and the flag of Luxembourg -- is colorful, innovative and frankly a real eye catcher. But that's just it: it's all show and no substance -- fancy for the sake of being fancy.
Although the tail could be much, much worse, it's symptomatic of an industry-wide scourge. The application of textures, complex patterns, and other quirky novelties is becoming excessive. They tend to be very nice, in and of themselves, but ultimately there's no true conveyance of identity. It's easy to marvel at the furl and flow of the Delta shower curtain, but there's something about it that screams temporary. Ten years from now, it's bound to be replaced by an entirely different palette, and the drive for recognition must begin all over again.
There's a reason they used this stuff to blast Noriega out of the Panama City nuncio (and are probably using it at Gitmo as I write this...)
What happens when you listen to "Dancing Queen" for 238 straight miles, over five hours.
On the north lawn of the White House yesterday afternoon, gardeners were taking a chain saw and wood chipper to some tree branches. Inside the briefing room, reporters were taking press secretary Scott McClellan to the woodshed.
It was journalists' first chance to grill McClellan on camera since coming to the conclusion that he had misled them 18 months ago when he said President Bush's top political aide, Karl Rove, had nothing to do with the unmasking of a CIA operative. The recipients of McClellan's bum steer were furious -- hectoring him more than questioning him.
"This is ridiculous!"
"You're in a bad spot here, Scott."
"Have you consulted a personal attorney?"
The 32-minute pummeling was perhaps the worst McClellan received since he got the job two years ago. His eyes were red and tired. He wiggled his foot nervously behind the lectern and robotically refused to answer no fewer than 35 questions about Rove and the outing of the CIA's Valerie Plame. Twenty-two times McClellan repeated that an "ongoing" investigation prevented him from explaining the gap between his past statements and the facts.
People are lying here -- and it ain't just McClellan.
I would be remiss indeed if I didn't pass along the nut graf from this AP story:
President Bush, at an Oval Office photo opportunity Tuesday, was asked directly whether he would fire Rove in keeping with a pledge in June, 2004, to dismiss any leakers in the case. The president did not respond.
While some may differ on the fairness of discrediting Joseph Wilson, it sure isn't any kind of crime. . .
This Rove-Cooper conversation discredits Wilson, not Plame. In fact, nothing we know so far was done either with the purpose of exposing or even the knowledge that these remarks would be exposing an undercover CIA operative.
But Plame's undercover status at the time was and is a little questionable in any case. How undercover could she have been when her name was published at the time as part of Joseph Wilson's own biography online?
If you actually believe this: I will write the following in big, bold, easy-to-read letters. Read them slowly so you can understand them. (If you move your lips while you do so, it's okay.)
Valerie Plame's name was not a secret. The fact that she is and was married to Joe Wilson was not a secret. The fact that she worked for the CIA, as a covert operative working on weapons of mass destruction, was a secret.
(with a hat tip to Atrios for that last one.)
ADDENDUM: I just heard the following, from today's briefing, in progress, just now:
Q: Scott, back on -- to turn it back, the President has confidence in everyone who works for him --
MCCLELLAN: You're making an assumption that I wouldn't make either. .
Go over to Grubbykid and check out this interesting wrinkle to the Plame/Rove/Novak story: appearing on CNN, Mike Isikoff made an interesting point:
But the problem that people in the White House, Rove among them, may have is how did they know that Valerie Plame, or Wilson's wife worked at the CIA? What we do know is there was a classified State Department report that said this, that was taken by Secretary of State Powell with him on the trip to Africa that President Bush was then on, and many senior White House aides were on.
That classified State Department report appears to have been -- or may well have been the source for the information that Rove and others were then dishing out to reporters. And if that's the case, there still may be -- we don't know yet, but there still may be an instance where classified information was provided to reporters.
So when was this trip? Grubbykid is on the case.
Q Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003 when you were asked specifically about Karl and Elliott Abrams and Scooter Libby, and you said, "I've gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me they are not involved in this" -- do you stand by that statement?
MR. McCLELLAN: And if you will recall, I said that as part of helping the investigators move forward on the investigation we're not going to get into commenting on it. That was something I stated back near that time, as well.
Q Scott, I mean, just -- I mean, this is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us after having commented with that level of detail and tell people watching this that somehow you decided not to talk. You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium, or not?
MR. McCLELLAN: And again, David, I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said, and I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation --
Q Why are you choosing when it's appropriate and when it's inappropriate?
MR. McCLELLAN: If you'll let me finish --
Q No, you're not finishing -- you're not saying anything. You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke out about Joseph Wilson's wife. So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation? Was he involved, or was he not? Because, contrary to what you told the American people, he did, indeed, talk about his wife, didn't he?
MR. McCLELLAN: David, there will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.
Q Do you think people will accept that, what you're saying today?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I've responded to the question.
Go ahead, Terry.
Q Well, you're in a bad spot here, Scott, because after the investigation began, after the criminal investigation was underway, you said -- October 10th, 2003, "I spoke with those individuals, Rove, Abrams and Libby, as I pointed out, those individuals assured me they were not involved in this." From that podium. That's after the criminal investigation began. Now that Rove has essentially been caught red-handed peddling this information, all of a sudden you have respect for the sanctity of the criminal investigation?
Keep hammering this, guys.
Also: I thought this was an interesting exchange:
Q One follow-up. Considering the widespread interest and the absolutely frantic Democrat reaction to Karl Rove's excellent speech to conservatives last month, does the President hope that Karl will give a lot more speeches?
MR. McCLELLAN: He continues to give speeches. He was traveling this weekend talking about the importance of strengthening Social Security. And he has continued to go out and give speeches.
Who asked this question? Did "Jeff Gannon" get back into the briefing room somehow?