Blundering bookwriters are having a good -- that is, terrible -- year. Joining the list of the sorrowful that includes failed autobiographer James Frey and the men who would sue Dan Brown, for writing about something they did too, is young Harvardian Kaavya Viswanathan. She takes a nice picture, and pictures never lie. But how many pictures worth of words did she lift unconsciously from two of her favorite books? Enough for a battle to loom; enough to establish a sad pattern of laziness and mindless reprocessing in the ding-dong world of big publishers. Line 'em up and whack away -- they won't get the message without taking their lumps.
The Spectacle Blog
Not a lot of tea-leaf reading to do here. The WSJ Online, based on comments from the Fed, is saying the the U.S. economy is churning into the second quarter with a full head of steam.
GDP numbers will be released tomorrow, and the rumors are that they will be impressive, perhaps more than impressive. This will again fuel inflation fears and the notion that the Fed is going to have to hang another quarter point of interest during its next meeting.
But with such good economic numbers - and don't forget, lost in this week's gas price hysteria were impressive consumer confidence numbers - one has to wonder: why isn't the White House doing a better job of getting its economic message out? And why aren't Republicans on Capitol Hill doing everything in their power to help get that message out?
Tiger Woods is as branded as a Texas steer. He has no business on the links wearing that filthy baseball hat with the Swoosh stitched across it. In the words of Hunter Thompson, may it become a flaming shroud. How long until Air Tiger golf shoes? Spare me.
On the other hand, we have golf to thank for permitting powerful people to conduct private conversations in what appear to be public places.
Earlier this week I complained that not enough of the top tour pros are playing at this week's stop on the PGA Tour, in New Orleans -- while praising Phil Mickelson and David Toms for coming. But this story gives me the warm fuzzies all over -- in a very good way. Mickelson, Toms, and New Orleans-native tour pro Kelly Gibson are doing great things for post-Katrina charity, and I salute them. Mickelson's quotes are just fantastic. He just went way up in my estimation. Meanwhile, a nod to Kelly, whom I know (only slightly, but enough so that he recognizes me, unprompted -- this has happened more than once -- in a small, random crowd of fans if I attend a tourney he's playing in) and whom I played against (sort of: I was the fifth seed on my school's team; he was the top seed on his school's team, and one of the best golfers in the state, so we only actually played one round in the same group, and that was by mistake) in high school. Kelly Gibson always has been one of the world's "good guys," and he is quite popular on tour, I hear.
This front-section story from the Washington Post about the so-called lobbying "reform" bill due for a House vote today perfectly captures, in the course of straight reporting, the problem with the House GOP: ALL they seem to do is think in terms of short-term politics, not in terms of long-term principles and not in terms of whether a policy is wise or ill-conceived, right or wrong, ethical or unethical. One key passage is this: Lawmakers acknowledge that the bill is more limited in its scope and impact than the provisions promised by congressional leaders immediately after Abramoff's guilty plea to federal charges of bribery, conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud nearly four months ago. But they say they do not feel compelled to push more stringent measures partly because voters do not appear to be demanding them.
Dana Milbank turns in some solid reporting on Capitol Hill today -- checking to see just how serious these members of Congress are about energy problems. As they bleat about fuel economy, they're driven the one or two blocks between the Capitol and their offices in low-fuel-economy vehicles.
Can't even find Moe, Larry or Curly around. Actually, they'd be doing a better job of defending the nation. As the World's Greatest Deliberative Body takes up the latest supplemental appropriations for the Iraq war -- to which, of course, the latest Katrina-labeled porkfest is attached -- Sen. Judd Gregg has apparently offered and obtained an amendment cutting about 3% -- about $1.9 billion -- from the war funds to pay for more border patrol resources.
According to this AP report, Gregg's amendment was immediately attacked by Lil' Miss Gun Control and Hillary who were screaming about how this would cut funds for body armor and anti-IED research.
Ask yourself, Sen. Gregg, whether you couldn't find any pork to cut from the Katrina nonsense? Why you had to set yourself, and the whole Republican senate majority, up for what will now be a much-deserved public thrashing? And why we should ever take you or whoever voted for your amendment seriously again?
There's been a Dan Rather sighting, last night at UC Berkeley. Perhaps he was hoping for an exclusive interview with Mario Savio. The sympathetic writeup to which I've linked probably tells less than it could, but Dan clearly has the making of our next Alger Hiss ("Rather dodged Schell's questions about what exactly went down with the Bush's National Guard service story or whether he believes the story is fully accurate..."). On the other hand, only someone as screwy as Dan could hide behind corporate fear of controversy as the reason why he was clueless regarding the power of blogs. Best of all, he considers himself "independent," not liberal. "My best work is still ahead of me," he warned.