An ongoing discussion of politics, law, pop culture, and fine draperies.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Floating adrift through December

Offering one last image of the Fall as we lower our helmets and press on into the winter.

first snows have fallen, and the holiday season is imminent. Also imminent is the birth of Bambino Secundo. All the ladies in the house sing woo woo.

I dunno. There's probably all kinds of stuff happening out there, but it's been a little
difficult to focus of late.

There's the matter of the Augusta Memorial Bridge, which crews have been busily de-glorifying over the past two weeks by attaching the suicide-prevention fence I mentioned some time back. On the matter of the bridge, I found
a Flickr user page which stands as a beautiful homage to Augusta - the city to which nobody ever thinks to pay homage. I was discussing this element of Flickr with the Mrs. last night, observing that Flickr provides a great medium for folks to honor the places that make them happiest. In the process, those places receive the otherwise non-public treatment that tends to show them at their most splendid. Anyway, what follows below is one in a series of pix recently posted by the fella capturing the bridge at its most mystical and lovely.

Speaking of mystical and lovely ...

In my earlier vintages, I used to take great joy in making an annual Columbus Day pilgrimage through the White Mountains National Forest along New Hampshire's
Kancamagus Highway. One of the more peculiar and charming resources available to folks like me was this radio station, maintained by some governmental agency (National Forest Service? NH D.O.T.?) at the far left of the radio dial (cue: Replacements Song of the same name)

Anyway, the Guvhah announced last week that he would not be outdone by anything put forth by the free livin' & dyin' neighbors to the West by christening a
Maine radio station, hearable at 1640 AM anywhere near Maine State Police truck weigh-stations. While it sounds a bit different-in-focus than the poor-man's Thoreau stuff put out over the NH station, it merits a mention nonetheless.

Context Free Quick Hits

The Patriots
are in trouble. Big Trouble and it could get worse.

The Red Sox are

While I don't think I'm dying like the folks described in
this Village Soup article, I think I've been beset by whatever is causing it and it ain't no fun.

Washington Post's
EJ Dionne projects ahead to the impending Hillary-Obama battle for the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination. Makes for a nice follow-up to this cover story in November's Atlantic Monthly titled, "Take Two: How Hillary Clinton turned herself into the consummate Washington player." The gist is that Hillary has brilliantly evolved into one of the most effective Senators on the Hill, but by doing so, she might be hurting her chances of becoming a strong Presidential candidate -- i.e. she reaches across the aisle too much to be the kind of hating partisan that the Democrats need to rally the troops in 2008. Nice excerpt:
But few in the Senate today would deny that, whatever her motives, Clinton is
diligent about her work there, and successful in ways that have moderated her
image. Her deft touch with conservative colleagues has thus far neutralized the
Republican National Committee’s strategy of getting people to put her in the
same mental category as bumbling liberals like Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean.
She’s no easy target. Her partnerships were deemed so successful in moderating
her image that Karl Rove, according to a source close to him, sent word last
year to halt Republican cooperation with her—an edict that has been ignored. As
the atmosphere in Washington has deteriorated, Clinton has emerged within the
Senate as the unlikeliest of figures: she, not George W. Bush, has turned out to
be a uniter, not a divider.

What she might do next vexes many in the Democratic Party. As Hillary Clinton has worked to establish her place in the Senate, she has also been central in the effort to build up a new party infrastructure. Democrats now seem poised for a comeback—perhaps as soon as this month’s elections. But many worry that Clinton will soon go further and decide to seek the presidency. Should she win the nomination but lose the election, they believe, the party could suffer incalculable damage.

Over the last six months, Clinton has given a series of important policy speeches designed to fortify her national profile. Most people, including her closest advisers,
believe this to be the groundwork for a presidential bid. Clinton has become a
vocal critic of the president and, gingerly, of the war she voted to support—even as that vote has begun to eclipse everything else she has done.

The story of Clinton’s Senate career mirrors that of her political life generally: a pattern of ambition, failure, study, and advancement. It provides a showcase for her very considerable skills. But it also points up her core liabilities as she prepares to move from the New York stage and back to the national one. Maybe one way to frame the question is this: Can a woman who has made herself small enough for the Senate be big enough for the country?
Perhaps my favorite part of the Atlantic treatise is this nice bit about foreign trips Senators take together:
The story of one such trip, to Estonia, recently brought to light by The New
York Times, gives a flavor of what Clinton is like in these settings. At a
casual dinner with Senate colleagues Graham, John McCain, and Susan Collins, all
Republicans, the waiter followed local custom by bringing a bottle of vodka and
shot glasses, whereupon Clinton reached over and began pouring; a drinking
contest ensued.

McCain’s staff seemed pained by the revelation, and declined my request for an interview, because the last thing a Republican presidential hopeful wants floating around in the media is word that he’s becoming booze pals with Hillary Clinton. And McCain denied the story to Jay Leno. But when I recently intercepted him walking through the Capitol, McCain lit up at the recollection. “It’s been fifty years since I’d been in a drinking game,” said McCain, who as a former naval aviator knows whereof he speaks. He added, admiringly, “She can really hold her liquor.”
If nothing else, this point ought to convince a few of the moderates who have never embraced the former first lady.

This just in -- Generalissimo Augusto Pinochet is still dead.

The Post provides this reflection on the
the pain caused to Chile by Pinochet.


There is the Israel-Palestine debate.

Or, as the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine observed with respect to college campuses a few weeks back, the
lack of debate about Israel and Palestine:
The question for students and administrators at Brandeis, UC Irvine, Penn State,
and other schools is this: Why is it so hard to talk about Israel in an open,
civil, and constructive manner? After all, our college campuses have long
provided a forum for discussing the nation's most divisive and controversial
issues - including date rape, racism, abortion, and gay rights. So why, exactly,
is the subject of Israel so difficult to discuss?
Pretty timely, considering how strangely President Jimmy Carter's is being received.

Here's a recent Op/Ed Carter himself
penned on the topic of criticism against his use of "apartheid" in describing Israel's treatment of West Bank and Gaza Palestinians.

President Carter in his finest Presidential moment, flanked by Egyptian Premier Anwar Sadat and Israeli P.M. Menachem Begin, who just inked the Camp David Accords settling the peace between the leaders' two countries.

This op/ed provides
another reflectionin the Washington Post. Here is another piece from Newsweek.

I first heard about this matter on
Fresh Air with Terry Gross, which you can hear in its entirity at the link.

Here's an NPR transcript of a discussion about the hub-bub with some longtime
foreign policy heavyweights, including Carter's former National Security Advisor with the crazy name with a bunch of "z"s and "b"s and "g"s in it.

No more reflection on it today, other than to say that I think Carter is right. I hope to read his book to be able to better explain why. Sufficed to say that Carter is fully divorced from any interational politics of interest, other than those which advance the interests of international justice. And right now, justice demands that Israel change the way it treats the Palestinians.


Blogger weasel said...

Concerning Hilary boozing it up in Estonia. The image of Susan Collins soused in vodka weaving around the streets of Talin dodging large groups of Britons on cheap bachelor party trips boggles the mind.

2:49 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Augusta is a strange city. It seems to be a victim of 60s urban renewal and that confounded blight of strip malls, called Western Avenue. The downtown, with some of its wonderful architecture, is rarely visited by locals, or non-locals. One of my favorite haunts for a drink and some great gumbo is Beale Street BBQ, on Water Street. I also like Cosmic Charlie’s, when I need some 60s/70s nostalgia.

The old Arsenal Property, on the other side of the river, is being developed by Niemann Capital, from NC. I think the area around the river has potential, as well as downtown, if some enterprising folks would be willing to develop some pedestrian-friendly options. Augusta is a good example of the disasters that ensue when development is approached from a car-centric model—hell, much of Maine suffers from that 30 year scourge.

Great pix of the Memorial Bridge, btw.

3:34 PM


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