July 19, 2007

The Constant Gardener: An excellent New Republic article, on why a blowhard like Joseph Wilson serves his country better than a mere diplomat, such as Colin Powell:
Just as the denouement of the Plame case was dominating the news earlier this month, another former diplomat revealed that he had felt his own grave doubts about Iraq around the time of Wilson's trip to Niger. This much more celebrated Washington veteran, though, kept his qualms off the record. Thus it was newsworthy when Colin Powell revealed at the Aspen Ideas Festival that he'd counseled President Bush against the conflict. "I tried to avoid this war," Powell said. "I took him through the consequences of going into an Arab country and becoming the occupiers."

Had he not hewed to the behavioral standards of the Washington elite, Powell might have called attention to his dissent back when it counted. He might have resigned in a high-profile huff, taken to the airwaves to play up war's dangers, written a self-aggrandizing tome that made him look like the government's last honest man. He could have optioned a feature film in which the upstanding ex-General faces down the Cheney cabal. Perhaps he'd have been photographed chatting up J-Lo about the script, or been quoted calling Rumsfeld a "scumbag." The sideshow might have penetrated the consciousness of a general public that was even then lining up for Freedom Fries and making death threats to the Dixie Chicks.

But he didn't--and the results, in spilled blood and wasted treasure, diminished national reputation and paralyzed national politics, are still with us. Alas, even Powell's reputation hasn't been saved by his choice. He's one of the few people in the world who might have stopped the Iraq train wreck; instead, he's just an ex-secretary of State who confers decorously with fellow has-beens in Aspen. There's a reason a nobody like Joe Wilson is the one pitching his story to Hollywood: The blowhard, it turns out, is the one who mattered.
It goes without saying that you should read the whole thing, although I would hope that when this story goes to film, they can come up with a better star than Jennifer Lopez.
What a way to start a morning. Congrats and salutations to my wee sister, Cat Smith, who awoke to find herself an Emmy Nominee, which, unlike being a "Pulitzer Nominee," is something that has to be earned from your peers. It's for Outstanding Art Direction (Single-Camera Show), so you probably won't see her accepting her long-overdue honors with the rest of the show business phonies; they hold the technical ceremony on a separate night. But it's nice just the same, if she wins she gets to hold the same trophy as Gandalfini and Falco, and it was the only nomination for her show (Shark), from which she has already departed for greener pastures (HBO). Rock On !!!

July 18, 2007

They Are 'a Changin: After this video, he was transfered out of Fresno by Roger Mahony. We never found out what was in the basket:



I doubt there was ever a time when the above video didn't creep out a lot of people....

July 17, 2007

July 16, 2007

David Beckham, injury-prone? Often unable to earn his paycheck due to nagging ailments, especially at critical moments? Who knew?
The Legend of Gagger Vance: Now, this is a nasty headline....

July 15, 2007

Live from the Octogon: It's not William F. Buckley threatening to punch out Gore Vidal, but this morning's battle between Senators Webb and Graham on MTP was about the best thing I saw all weekend.
I'd be interested to hear what prosecutors and defense attorneys think of this, and especially whether or not it's true that blacks are being effectively kept off juries in the post-OJ era. Voir dire has always had the potential of being a real poison to our criminal justice system, as it squelches the possibility of having a jury of true peers empaneled at trial. Having sat through two days of jury selection earlier this year, only to be sent home at the end, I can say that a lot of the dismissals of prospective jurors were arbitrary, at least to the untrained eye, and probably did little to assure either the defendant or the People their right to a fair trial. What results isn't a fair and impartial jury, but a jury that has been gamed by the lawyers to produce an unfair result.

Those biases of prospective jurors that work in favor of or against the accused (or any party in a civil action, for that matter) are not necessarily inconsistent with getting a fair and accurate result. The random selection of twelve+ people to sit on a jury, with the exclusion only of those who are acquainted with the defendant or the witnesses, those who may have a pecuniary interest in the outcome, and those who have an avowed prejudice, should be the goal, not to have a jury that reflects some demographic ideal chosen by a jury consultant.