Freedom from Blog

Don't call it a comeback . . . .

Saturday, February 21, 2009


So I'm watching Alien on cable--for like the 1000th time or some such. (This is the director's cut with Dallas in cocoon, so to speak, so I've only seen this one like 25-50 times.) And for the last 500 times I've seen the movie . . . I've wondered why one would build a self-destruct mechanism in an interplanetary space vehicle in the first place.

If you were really worried about the vessel falling into enemy hands, OK, I can see that. But the Nostromo is commercial. So you would have to be concerned with your cargo falling into enemy (competitor) hands. But the risk of an accidental self-destruct--although minimized by the multiple steps needed to blow the ship up, admittedly--would mitigate against such a step for merely pecuniary reasons.

It's not like the Nostromo was state of the art, or a ship of the line . . . it would be like every Metro bus having a self-destruct system. Or every freight train.

I know, I know . . . it's a plot device.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Nowhere To Go But Down

So our boy W scored #36 (out of 42) in the C-Span survey of scholars ranking the prez-nits. Already some commentary here. But may I be the first (next?) to say, overrated!

Any list like this is bound to be a washed out consensus, and there are obviously still a few partisan GOPers in the academy holding out hope for a Trumanesque redemption. (BTW, how did Harry charge up to #5? I love that guy, but was he really better that Tommy J? OK, that pales next to Ronnie Reagan making the top 10. Sheesh!!) The major deficiency of that list, however, may be that it favors activity, any activity, over nullity. Note Franklin Pierce at #40 and W.H. Harrison at #39. Harrison really didn't have a "presidency"; he just had an inaugural, one so bad he killed himself by pneumonia. So I'd give that guy a zero. Are you really telling me that only three presidents (Pierce, AJohnson, Buchanan) were less than zero? The latter two deserve that status, no question. There gotta be a few more. Exhibit A: where's Tricky Dick?

And then there's Bush. Yeah he did a lot. All of it bad. Has any president ever started out with more and then dug a deeper hole with every move he made? Our boy was the Shit Midas, and I think that deserves a little recognition. True, I doubt he'll ever reach Buchananite glory--provoking the Civil War and then letting the South slip away unmolested--although W did eerily echo JB's blend of daring idiocy and feeble incompetence. AJ's rude botching of Reconstruction is quite a marker in its own right. Still, GWB's trail of destruction was so diverse and unblemished that it deserves a bit more neg respect. I look forward to a day where historians take less pity and more perverse joy in a job well undone.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bee in the Jungle (Or, "Why Is My Name on That Bus?")

Oh, and I should add, I thought that 'Bee' as a nickname would be cute and somewhat unique. Not unique unique, but at least unusual.
But contemporaneous with the naming decision, friend of the blog Curat Lex named a character in his novel 'Bee.' Completely coincidental.
But today, Bee and I were walking down the street (well, she was riding in comfort in her SUV-style BOB stroller, I was walking), and a Metro bus goes by. It has a MoveOn.Org ad on the side (it's DC, after all). And the ad on the side, a women holding a baby, I presume a little girl. With her checklist for the day. Which includes, "Read in Spanish to Bee."

I would like to claim credit for this. But since none of my friends have named a child after me--and I will accept a middle name credit--I suspect a broader trend.

I feel so unoriginal. Sorry, sweetheart. Let's hope Bee isn't the 'Jennifer' of your generation.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

All Who Wander

May not be lost, but in D.C., they most certainly are. I'm asked for directions a lot--because, frankly, I must look like I know where I'm going. And I'm almost constantly amazed at how "off course" my interlocutors are. Like the folks looking for 7th St. NW (i.e., "Chinatown") who were wandering around 7th St. NE finding no restaurants (there aren't any). Or the guy with massive grocery sacks looking for Maryland Avenue. When I asked if he had a cross street, he said "North East." Very helpful. At least he had an address . . . which, of course, gives the cross street . . . but he didn't know that.

Lost. Lost. Lost.

How do these journeys begin? "I'm in a strange city, but I'll wing it." ??? "I think I know how to get . . . where is it again?" ???

The best is the couple on Constitution Avenue about a city block from the Smithsonian Metro stop. I was jogging, and they asked where the nearest Metro was. I said, "Smithsonian is right over there," and I pointed in the right direction. As I jogged away, I heard the male half of the couple say, "Smithsonian isn't over there." You're welcome.

I may have blogged that story before.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Filibuster Creep

Maybe someone can clear this up for me (any Congress scholars in the hizzee?), but why are we just assuming a GOP filibuster on the stimulus?  

I understand that, over the last two years, they've filibustered everything in sight.  But this seems like an odd inversion of how legislative debate has historically goes: opposition to a bill has never automatically implied a filibuster. Changing the expectation gives the GOP a huge advantage b/c they don't have to justify the extraordinary measure that is a filibuster with any arguments beyond those they would use to simply oppose a bill.  Shouldn't the burden be on them?  "Senator X, your party has lost two consecutive tidal wave elections, you lost the presidency and hold miniscule minorities in both houses of Congress, and the public holds you in open contempt.  Can you explain why you're trying to sabotage America's democracy in the midst of an economic crisis that your own policies have created?"  Has anyone ever bothered to pose the question this way?  

Monday, February 02, 2009

No Frenemies on the Right

Lots of stories lately on how the GOP seems to have reacted to consecutive tidal wave defeats in 2006 and 2008 by deciding they've suffered from an excess of centrism, moderation, good sense, and human decency in the Bush years. The most obvious implication, of course, is that it could be a long time in the wilderness for the party of Limbaugh. True that. These guys do know how to bring the crazy. But there's another way to think about the warp from dumb to dumber. Elections are usually referendums on the incumbent. If Obama and his boys on the Hill can't pull off the recovery, we could be in for a few years that will make us long for the Bushies. Now what might THAT look like?