Biden: Get me alone in a room with him
From the NY Times
Mr. Biden also called on Mr. Bush to sit down with members of Congress to find a consensus on how to proceed.
“I hope there is enough Republican as well as Democratic support,” he said, “for a bipartisan effort to press the president very hard to sit with us, anywhere from the White House to Camp David — without our staffs and cellphones — to actually hammer out what I think a number of us on both sides of the aisle believe are necessary elements of an Iraq policy.”
I love that, especially the idea of a bipartisan
campaign to pressure the president. Now Biden has nerve. And when you think about it, it is kind of a dream scenario, that pantywaist Bush trying to fend for himself one-on-one with Biden, let alone Bush against a room of Biden, Reid, etc.
The Democrats' approach seems to be to crowd the president without coming off as looking for a slapfight. (No one wants to look like a troublemaker, since the public right now is deciding which party can be trusted to keep the country stable.)
So Reid says they'll press oversight -- especially of Iraq and profiteering, his aide says -- but adds they'll use subpoenas "rarely." Pelosi has taken the big clubs, the constitutional-crisis clubs, off the table: no impeachment, no cut off of funds to the military operations in Iraq. Biden just wants the president to sit down and talk with them, no handlers to get in the way.
Meanwhile, Henry Waxman is running Government Reform and Oversight and he says Iraq profiteering is what he wants to look at. So the Democrats aren't planning a quiet time. They're just letting the White House know we can do this nice or we can do this rough.
The White House still hasn't got the message -- witness the sneak attempt to keep Bolton at the UN. But its thoughts are tending in the right direction -- witness Rumsfeld's exit an hour after Pelosi called for change in the Pentagon's top civilians.
Bush's team is acting like someone who's beaten but still hostile, trying to sneak in little jabs and kicks, like Gorbachev during the Gulf run-up. What's beaten them? Well, they found out their propaganda machine doesn't turn opinion the way it used to. (The talking heads went crazy with the Kerry flap, and what difference did it make?) But it's worse. Opinion appears to have settled in around the idea that Republicans are the problem, that maybe they're the biggest problem facing the country. Polls show that voters across regions, age groups, races, and religions all decided they could not vote for Republicans this year. It wasn't a question of one coalition element swinging out of place; it was more like a mass shunning.
Bush might be willing to tough it out. What does he care about McCain and '08? Fuck the public, he still has his dog. He's commander-in-chief and he can keep on doing what he thinks best for the country's future.
But he might get impeached. I suspect he believes there's a realistic possibility along that line. The Democrats wouldn't find it easy, but theyw ould find it doable. The dirt is there, enough to make public support for impeachment a possibility. The Republicans know how low they set the bar back in '98.
Now the Democrats want to dig up the dirt and say they expect the Republicans to cooperate. Bush's aides have said the White House will bunker-in and fight every step of the way. Of course, Bush said he wouldn't dump Rumsfeld. But dumping Rumsfeld would help him avoid impeachment; handing over dirt wouldn't.
So we'll see what happens.
And I was worried
Jesus Christ, I'm such a nell.
28 seats now, not bad
According to the DCCC site
. Montana and Va listed by CNN as too close to call.
Forget the bloggers' preidcitions but think 28 was toward the high side. Most were looking toward a majority with just a few seats.
Now Atrios et al are talking of a late wave that brought in unexpected liberal victories. They say Emanuel wasted time and money cultivating conservative candidates who then didn't pan out. Now apptly he's talking about how the new House leadership has to go slow so as not to endanger the conservatives whom he did manage to get into office. He talks about bipartisanship. At the same time, the items officially considered to have bipartisan appeal add up to Pelosi's 100 Days plan. Don't ask me.
Jane Hamsher is fierce about bipartisanship:
I don't know about you guys, but I think the Republican party needs to prove that it has some good faith before we start caving in to their demands.
But yeah. I'd put in "taking their suggestions seriously" instead of "caving in to their demands." But whichever. All clear-thinking people should see that dealing with the Bush administration is at best a risky approach if you don't want to get abused and ripped off. Ideally, when Pelosi is asked about working with Bush, she should be able to say "Trust but verify." But conventional opinion recognized that dealing with the Soviet Union was a dicey proposition in which participants had to be wide awake. Whereas dealing across the aisle is considered self-evidently good and politicians are expercted simply to make it happen, not make it work.
Election Night as of 1:18 am
Back from the student bar at the Shatner Building, McGill's big cement building full of student rec rooms and newspaper offices. Asked at the McG Dailly around 1 today and was told the bar, Gert's and just down the hall, would probably show returns on its tv. Lovely, wiry young woman in charge at Gert's confirmed this (nose a little like Olive Oyl's, sitting on a lovely little high-cheekboned face).
At 10 pm I went over, ordered 3 Boreal Cuivrees (9% alc) and wedged myself in the second row back from the big screen, a Sony. Maybe 6 other TVs, nornal-sized and stationed up just under the ceiling, were ranged in our zone and over at the other end of the bar's length (the place was like five or six basement rec rooms welded together). The students didn't have a lot of lookers -- a weedy, chubby bunch, with an immensely fat boy whom I expected to be a middle-aged man until I saw his face (young and smooth). Unrelated point: He was black, which made me think of Oliver Willis, followed by Ann Althouse-style thoughts about being really fat but also being black and knowing you could pal with the white kids in the campus Democrats group.
I stayed more or less 10:15 to 12:15. Left with the Dems having a 1-seat House majority, which they gained about 11;45, and with 4 battleground Senate seats still up in the air. Harry Redi spoke (I keep thinking he's bald) and Nancy Pelosi. The kids were hostile to her, or at least a few kids who spoke up. "She's awful
," someone said early on, and a moment later a boy near me made a sidelong, observer's sort of comment to his friend about what bad speakers politicians were. She seemed all right to me.
4 seats in play, GOP needs 2, Dems need 3. And they are: Missouri (GOP up 4 pts), Va (Dems up 1), Tenn (GOP up 5), Mont (Dems up 4). The Va total has by far the most votes in, others are in the 60-range in that regard. Everyone predicts a recount in Va.
Dems take Foley's seat by just 1 pt! Wondrr why the Repub conceded so early.
Arnold wasn't declared when I left, which surprised me. Heartened by RI (Chafee loses) and Md (Cardin wins), though Ken Mehlman came on w/ news of the Wash Post rescinding its call of Md for the Dems. Oh shit.
A squishy night. The tide is against the GOP, but I wonder if we're going to break thru. Seems like we just don't get to clean up, even when the other side is falling apart. Either the Dems have a fatal weakness or the GOP is kludging the system with fraud, voter intimidation, etc. Guess we'll be hearing that debate, esplly w/ the Va recount. Of course both could be true.
And now good night.
UPDATE, 1:52 am. Dem Cong Campaign site now claims majority of 23 "and counting." But Reynold got back in. Fuck! Looks like Schmitt did too.
No link to the Dem Senate site. Fucking tribalism . . .
The Dem Senate site. "Democrats are winning across the country!" All right, but no mention of a majority. The results take a while to load and . . . CBS has called Mo. for the Dems, who also have a few pts' lead in Mont (58% reporting). So, holy fuck, it may be that control of the Senate comes down to the Va recount.
The big all-the-smart-money-was-wrong possibility: Allen doesn't contest.
More likely, and shittier, turn of events: Joe Liebarman jumps ship to the GOP because of concerns over the troubling partisanship of the Dems' conduct in the Va dispute. Time to provide the nation with some stability, he says.
The Sunday before the midterm electionsA Kerry state of mind.
The news stories make it sound like the Republicans keep the Senate, that it looked like the Dems might get the Senate, but then Kerry had to blow things with his stupid "education" remark. Seems plausible enough. The poor cluck just doesn't know how to function in a "Note"/Fox political envronment. He's there to make guys like Halperin feel smart. Kerry just does not get the game; it keeps tripping him up and making him look feeble. Of course, sticking around isn't feeble, it's what normally would be called determined. But I still wish he would leave.
The Repubs would like to pick on Hillary, but they know she'd fire back. She doesn't go around presenting weak spots the way Kerry does.
"When I was in Vienna, Austria"
What I overhear my landlord, who’s kind of a boob, saying to a buddy in the café. They’re about twenty feet off, I think.Where I’m coming from
I had to beg off from speaking at Westmount Library on the graphic novel. "I’ve never read Chris Ware," I said, figuring that killed dead any idea of me keeping up with modern comics. Reading Chris Ware and the rest of the modern graphics-novel scene strikes me as work. I liked my last Eightball, I just don’t feel like seeing the next one. And no successors to the old gang (Hate, Clowes, L&R) interest me. Instead my comics reading is once again superhero reading, as when I was 13. I’ve been ashamed of that state of mind, but I’ve eased myself back into it again.Self-awareness
Sitting in 2d Cup (my reg. coffee shop) and looking about me. This is where I’ve wound up now that I have no office to worry about, when I can pick wherever I want to go. I’ve got as big a world as a pigeon looking around its corner of the park.Rush and self-contradiction
Limbaugh was claiming, though not for long, that Cindy Sheehan is a fake like Bobby Burkett. Apparently that got embarrassing and now he feels hard done by.
Rush’s job is to say what he himself likes to hear, which leaves him vulnerable to fatal inspirations. He’d like to think there’s nothing to Sheehan’s story and therefore he says there isn’t, even though at less energized moments he both knew and said that in fact her story was genuine. He winds up feeling exculpated by his own self-contradiction, which is a neat trick and more possible if the doer isn’t aware he’s full of it.
The modern U.S. Right runs on this phenomenon. The movement doesn’t have a philosophy, just an agreed-upon immediate reality (Bush is good, liberals are weak, the war is right) that is spread like flowered wallpaper over actual immediate reality. The wallpaper, if I may fill in the metaphor, is an extensive verbal construct beautifully embellished and held together by the U.S. Right’s superior skill with words. What pastes it to the wall (more metaphor) is, of course, the Right’s aversion to the discomfort of things as they are.Trek and Star Wars
These series survive because their premises are more powerful than the effect created by the actual product. If anything could have killed interest in Star Trek, it would have been the episodes (most of them, anyway) produced during the program’s first run. The same with Star Wars and the Phantom-Clones-Sith trilogy. Watching either run of product takes devotion to an ideal — the platonic ideal of the series as uncorrupted by execution.Team Comics footnote
A belle-lettrist who briefly graced the subject of Marvel Comics suggested that Jack Kirby somehow owes the ’60s hallucinogen craze for his crazy space stuff and Negative Zone effects. Well, okay, but only if you prove it and don’t assume it. LSD and Kirby’s great period happened at the same time, but no one believes the old man was taking drugs. Did he then see some Fillmore posters and get excited? Possibly someone could find out before we jump to conclusions.
Here’s my declaration of faith. The man who thought up Galactus got there all on his own — no hallucinogenics, no Peter Max. Hordes of mediocre souls take their medicine so they can have visions of the sort Kirby came by naturally. Those people outnumber him, so we place their experience in the foreground and locate Kirby’s relative to it. The result is easy talk about how psychedelics gave rise to Kirby’s cosmos when actually we know no such thing.
"Tragically, I was an only twin", or, A British Story
This is weird. A friend just gave me a story he wrote around the German legend of the doppelganger, the shadow-man who begins as his original’s servitor and finally robs him of his soul. Thinking about themes from legend is not something I do, but somehow this particular theme has also wound up in Larry Thompson’s Peter Cook
, a biography I’m reading just now.
Apparently it’s a tradition in British show business to hate David Frost, and in this book Frost does a good job of playing doppelganger. The match is closest at the start. As with the legend, Cook and Frost met while at university — Cambridge in their case — and the never funny, never talented Frost got in with Cook and his crowd precisely by being subservient and eager to please. But though Cook took the young grind under his wing for a while, he began to worry that Frost was stealing his ideas. Finally he refused to let Frost take his place in the London show of Beyond the Fringe when the original cast went to America. A friend claimed that Cook didn’t like the idea of Frost becoming him. (It has to be understood that, as quoted in my source book, all acquaintances of the two men appear to keenly appreciate the place of symbolic overtone in anecdotes.)
In America, Cook learned that the BBC had taken his idea for a satirical TV program and given it to Frost. The premier used sketches that Cook considered to be his own, old improvisations to which Frost may have contributed a few lines. The show, That Was the Week That Was, became an even bigger hit than Beyond the Fringe simply because it was on television; so Frost had usurped his mentor’s place. Yet Cook could summon him across the Atlantic for an explanation. And on presenting himself, Frost nearly drowned because a swimming pool was on hand and he did not dare let on to Cook that he had never learned to swim. In real life the doppelganger tends to remain subservient even after mastering his original, a twist that I think the legend leaves out.
At any rate . . . At Cambridge and then in London, Cook was the star of stars, but he wound up loafing about doing cameo bits and drinking himself to death. Meanwhile, Frost kept busy as an impresario and international headliner (or the closest thing British talk shows have to one). Cook lost, Frost won. But what did Frost win and how? Here the parallel with legend is lacking in two key respects.
The legend’s doppelganger takes its victim’s soul; Cook held on to his, as shown by the many worthwhile quotes from his talk-show appearances into the 90s. Second, while Frost elbowed Cook out of the way, he did not lead his friend into ruin, which was the original doppelganger's modus operandi. No suggestion is made, for example, that Frost put his friend in touch with liquor distributors. Cook was his own corruptor.
The overall shape of the men’s story suggests a typically British drama, one in which brilliance flares but cannot last. Discipline is equated with self-denial, and diligence is considered a cancer of the soul, bu their lack dooms a man to glorious failure. Either one is an industrious grub like Frost or a glorious wreck like Cook -- that's the moral of this true-life tale. The corollary is that having a soul is not enough and may even be a handicap. Because we are made too wrong ever to be right, and our wrongness takes the form not so much of sin as innefectuality and irrelevance. As I said, it's a British story.
"I was just made by the Presbyterian Church"
Also: "Giving first aid the already disheveled hair projection." And: "Pregnancy? Pregnancy."
Context: Someone has figured out what to do with George Lucas's dialogue. (By way of Mahablog from Matthew Yglesias.)