Random Writings on Just About Everything.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I'll check the golf course!

Dennis Hastert must be getting advice and council on handling the Foley scandal from OJ Simpson. He's out to find the real killers (or cover-up-ers, as it were), and he won't rest until they've been brought to justice (or at least scapegoated).

See: Washington Post.

The New(ish) Fall TV Season

So pretty much everything starting on TV this fall has premiered, and it's been decent but unspectacular.

Veronica Mars first ep was very good, and much more surefooted than it's second season premiere. Oh, and WHY AREN'T YOU WATCHING IT!? End of public service message.

Lost felt it's tension jacked up, a nice change of pace from much of it's sophomore season.

Battlestar Galactica opened with a particularly strong 2-hour chunk that adequately pays off their "one year later" gambit.

Of the news shows that I've sampled, I've probably stuck the most with Studio 60, even though it seems deeply flawed. I've always been bugged by elements of Aaron Sorkin's writing, and Studio 60 is no exception to that trend. That said, it's engaging when it works, and Matthew Perry is surprisingly good as Sorkin's fiction-suited doppleganger.

I tried Kidnapped and found it ok, but it's quick cancellation notice made me hesitant to follow through to the end, even with the news that it's plots will be wrapped up. I'm just too busy to invest time in a show that's already been given the death sentence.

Heroes plays like a decent idea written for pretentious 4 year olds. I've only watched the pilot but was kinda irritated with the pedantic narration constantly trying to make sure that the viewer knows that "this is important, and it has no capes..." I've got a few more episodes queued up on the trusty Tivo which I'll probably get to shortly, but I'm not terribly optimisted...this has decent potential as a serial but really needs to find the right tone.

More thoughts on this stuff in the next week or so, and probably a post on The Wire once I catch up in a few days...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Entirely Too Much Reading...

Haven't been posting much since the velocity of the news has often been outstripping my ability too coment on it. I have been reading entirely too many books over the past two weeks or's what's been keeping me busy on the subway each weeknight:

Chain of Command by Seymour Hersh
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth

and up next...
Tales of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance
The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays by Albert Camus
A Gentleman's Game by Greg Rucka

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Political Compartmentalization & Foreign Policy

It occured to me, while watching the ongoing civil war among Bush administration alumni over Iraq and foreign policy in general, that a great factor in what's transpired over the last few years is the overall lack of real political conflict on foreign policy.

Note that when I say "political conflict" I don't mean conflict among politicians, I mean actual dialogue involving multiple viewpoints and engaged citizens. To a decent extent that is now, finally, happening, probably because of the high costs, in lives and money, of the pandora's box we've opened in Iraq. But why didn't we have a more open discussion of the options in our political process before?

Besides the mendacious nature of the Bush Administration, the Democratic party has been a non-factor in international relations over the last few decades. The Democrats, after suffering from the blunders of JFK/Johnson & Carter, failed to develop coherent, strong, loud foreign policy initiatives. The Clinton years weren't disasters on that front, although there were substantial problems, but in the overall narative of the last few decades, they appeared to do little in the short term to create a base of Democratic foreign policy specialists who would wield continuing influence and power on the national scene.

Instead, we've been faced with a foreign policy establishment that is dominated by a tendency to identify with the Republican party. The problem this has created is that it has taken foreign policy, on almost every level, and made it almost exclusively a backroom issue. There are general political identifications on foreign policy (Republican=strong, war; Democratic=weak, diplomacy), but mostly the political dimension of almost any foreign policy debate in a partisan campaign is strictly adversarial. One person opposes the position of their opponent and comes up with a reason as justification primarily to draw contrast.

We can see this in countless conflicts where, over the last 15 years, the parties have continually flip flopped over intervention or disengagement with various conflict sites around the world. Some Republicans, for instance, would oppose a Clinton intervention tooth and nail, but back a Bush intervention in similar circumstances, regardless of the wisdom of each mission.

This is one reason why a moderate electorate managed to elect a group of leaders which shifted the nation's foreign policy dangerously to the right. Debates over the nature and wisdom of major foreign policy issues were argued over behind closed doors and then presented, somewhat disengenously, as fait accompli to the public, even though internal dissention on the matters was high in both civilian and military circles.

While reading Seymour Hersh's Chain of Command, a major pattern that stuck out to me was the number of sources who were willing to speak to Hersh about their problems, but could never step outside of their own existence as a cog in the Political Foreign Policy aparatus. Many of them could be career diplomats, espionage operatives, military officers, etc., but they felt they could not provide more vocal dissent once decisions were made.

As things have played out in Iraq, we've seen how there should have been a more open political debate, and how there should have been more skepticism towards the claims made by the Bush Administration to justify their intentions to invade Iraq. Yet it was all subsumed because there was no real external political dialogue of substantial volume going on. There was no "opposition" base for skeptics of the war to move to and vocally express problems with the policies.

Part of this problem lies in the media for not allowing the dialogue to occur in public, but alot of it seems to be related to the concept of the foreign policy establishment as a one-party system. The Realists and the Neocons debate behind closed doors, and decide what we'll do, but who were we electing in 2000, and in 2004? Our two-party political system may be stiffling public discourse on major decisions like war due to this. If our representative democracy is going to actually function, this has got to change.

CYA Time

The Washington Post has a new article up on the Plame leak investigation. There doesn't appear to be a tremendous amount of new material in it, as it mostly summarizes what those following the case have been aware of, but it opens with some slightly new details about Rove's apparent testimony.

The main new nugget of info is that Rove appears to have testified that Scooter Libby mentioned Plame to him before her identity was made public. Rove apparently did stick to his "I heard about her first from some reporter... but don't remember exactly who," line.

With every new trickle of information, we get a picture of the involved parties desperately trying to keep their story straight, while Fitzgerald appears to have cast a wide enough net to forceably punch some holes in their forgetfulness. Since the possibilities appear to have come down to indictments or nothing, I'm hopeing we'll see some indictments, if only so that we can see some of the evidence and testimony that have occured over the last year.

Good News...?

It's been a pretty bad year to be an Orioles fan, but it looks like something good is finally about to happen.

The Sun, along with several other sources, is reporting that Leo Mazzone is basically set to be the Orioles new pitching coach. This is a real coup, given his unparalleled history of success, assuming nothing goes horribly wrong before this is finalized.

Now, to just add a frontline pitcher or two...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I'm Back...

Alright everyone. This time I'm really back, and ready to post regularly. Life has calmed down just enough to allow a regular dose of words to spill forth onto these virtual pages, so prepare for a regular, continuing dose of... well, something...