Tuesday, March 27, 2007

WE TOLD YOU Here's Sen. Joe Lieberman (CFL-CT) today:
It is clear that for the first time in a long time, there is reason for cautious optimism about Iraq.
Shame, Connecticut. Shame.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

IMPEACH GONZALES? I haven't posted about the US Attorney purge--at least in part because I assume that everyone who reads this blog also tunes into Talking Points Memo and TPM Muckraker. They've owned this story from the beginning. (Links to both are at right.)

But we now have seemingly irrefutable evidence that the Attorney General lied to Congress and to the American people.

Now, I'm no impeachment scholar (a handy primer can be found here) but isn't this just the sort of case that impeachment was designed for?

Gonzales has been caught lying under oath during a congressional probe into whether US Attorneys were fired to prevent investigations (of Republicans) from going forward.

In other words, it very much appears he lied to obstruct an obstruction of justice investigation.

Admittedly, I've made a number of inferences here about Gonzales' motives and Congress will need to come to its own conclusions.

But suppose the ultimately judgment is that he deliberately misstated the facts in order to save the skin of corrupt Republicans. And suppose the President refuses to relieve him of his duties.

We're then left with a chief law enforcement officer whose been exposed as an enemy of the rule of law.

What other option besides impeachment is there?

Monday, March 19, 2007

JEFFERSON MAYS IS AN ACTOR There are a number of very good reasons to see the excellent revival of JOURNEY'S END now on Broadway. But Jefferson Mays' performance as Private Mason tops my list.

It's hard to call it a leading role--and it might seem like a strange professional choice for an actor on the heels of a career-making turn in I AM MY OWN WIFE.

But that only makes the achievement more impressive: Mays delivers an unostentatious, utterly selfless reading of the role that blends seamlessly into the fabric of the play. It may not win him any awards, but it's the kind of performance that makes going to the theatre worthwhile.

Half price tickets--often for very good seats--have been available for most recent performances at the TKTS booths.

UPDATE: Via Stark Sands Online we learn that JOURNEY''S END may be closing sooner than later. Looks like it'll be around for at least the next two weeks, but perhaps not much longer than that.

Friday, March 16, 2007

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY The Freep covers the 50th anniversary of the venerable Detroit Repertory Theatre.

The company will close out its fifth decade later this spring with a month-long run of Dan Aibel's play LAPSES. Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

IN PRAISE OF MARK SHIELDS Watching the NewsHour last night, it struck me that Mark Shields has made more sense than just about any pundit in America over the last six bruising, confusing years.

I'm sure there have been misjudgments here and there. But it's striking that a staid seventy-year-old has spun a narrative about the state of our politics more compelling and consistent than the analysis of younger, more vigorous-seeming commentators. (Take Joe Klein--please.)

Listening to Shields you get the sense that he's plugged in--that he has good sources in congress--but that he isn't a slave of the beltway consensus. I'd be surprised if he doesn't regularly read blogs, for example.

Of course, judgment also has something to do with it. The real question may be why even "serious" media outlets continue to push forward pundits who have so often been wrong about so much.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

MERRY FITZMAS Ball's in your court, Bushies.

Monday, March 05, 2007

DEPT. OF EXEGESIS Compare these two sentences from Sunday's NYT whitewash of the Bush administration's US attorneys purge.

Sentence 1:

The ouster of Mr. Bogden and seven other United States attorneys has set off a furor in Washington that took the Bush administration by surprise.
Sentence 2:
Democrats have charged that the mass firing is a political purge, intended to squelch corruption investigations or install less independent-minded successors.
In sentence 1 the reporters ascribe a mental state--surprise--to the Bushies. But the article never explains how the reporters arrived at this wording; it never explains why the Bushies deserve to be seen as genuinely surprised rather than as simply professing to be surprised.

(That the "surprised" construction plays into the Bush administration's "nothing-to-see-here" talking point is, I'm sure, pure coincidence.)

The approach when it comes to administration opponents, in sentence 2, is different: The arguments of Democrats are summarized. No mental states are ascribed. The reporters stick to publicly verifiable facts rather than reading the minds of their sources in a way that serves one side of a political debate at the expense of the other.

So why the two different approaches? Why ascribe mental states to sources in the first place? Is there one reporting standard for the Bushies and another for everyone else?

Reporters David Johnston, Eric Lipton and William Yardley aren't dumb. They know what they're doing.

The question is, why are they doing it?

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.