A THOUGHT went up my mind to-day	

That I have had before,
But did not finish,—some way back,
I could not fix the year,

Nor where it went, nor why it came
The second time to me,
Nor definitely what it was,
Have I the art to say.

But somewhere in my soul, I know
I ’ve met the thing before;
It just reminded me—’t was all—
And came my way no more.

— Emily Dickinson

(dedicated to George W. Bush, as one of a series of posts honoring ‘banned’ poets)

Tipping Point

Will a war once again bail out a faltering presidency? Or will it crystallize for voters all of the contradictions of the Bush regime? Robert Kuttner: “Bush’s stock was not particularly high on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. The economy was wobbly. He had alienated Republican moderates and sacrificed GOP control of the Senate. He was using a tenuous mandate to push radically conservative policies at odds with what most Americans had voted for. Then terrorists struck, and the Bush presidency was transformed.

It has taken 20 months for Bush’s slide to resume, yet he has an uncanny ability to step around blunders and deceptions that would sink an ordinary president. Will he do it again with another national security crisis, this time of his own invention?” The American Prospect

The Goods on Saddam –

Fred Kaplan: The problem with showing our Iraq evidence at the U.N. : “…U.S. intelligence officers, who are putting up fierce internal resistance to declassifying the Iraqi evidence, probably have good reasons for their dissent.

Their big concern is that the United States will blow a lot of highly sensitive intelligence data—the sort of sources and methods that are rarely even discussed, never deliberately revealed—and the cache still won’t be persuasive enough, especially not to the layman, to justify war.

Nobody on the outside knows exactly what sort of data dump Powell is assembling. But one can make some guesses and extrapolate reasons why the spy agencies might be nervous… Slate

Fast Burn –

Why recordable DVDs won’t last: “Don’t worry if that Best Buy hawker convinced you to invest in a DVD burner—or, for that matter, a DVD recorder for your TV. The self-burned DVD still has a few years of glory left, and they’re perfect for backing up the files on your computer. But if you’re on a tight budget, and all you really want to do is swap video files with your friends, keep in mind that you likely won’t need a DVD burner to share 2005’s Man vs. Beast IV: Final Confrontation.” Slate

End Game

Lawrence F. Kaplan: “Bush gambled that inspections would make it easier to go to war. He gambled wrong.” The New Republic This is essentially an elaboration on the point I made here the other day — if we know better than the inspectors how much Iraq is supposedly concealing, then why insist on the inspection process. Bush is caught in a trap of his own devising. Actually, it may be symptomatic of the fundamental divisions inside the dysadministration between the more diplomatic and the more rabid.

So how does the administration get out of the inspections trap? One way would be to orchestrate an “Adlai Stevenson” moment in which the Bush team unveils a smoking gun– a la Stevenson’s presentation to the United Nations 40 years ago of photographs showing missiles in Cuba. The problem is, the administration has no smoking gun. What it has instead, according to senior administration officials, is a collection of guns that smell vaguely smoky, which a task force under deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley is busily sifting through–photographs of activity around suspected weapons sites, evidence of Iraqi attempts to conceal items before the arrival of weapons inspectors, and communications intercepts. Powell plans to present this evidence to the United Nations on February 5. But State Department and Pentagon officials remain far from certain that even a dramatic presentation will change many minds overseas, where any evidence that bolsters America’s case tends to be viewed as suspect.

Option number two is to hope that the French and others will abandon their opposition on the eve of war, when the prospect of an Iraq closed to French business looms more immediately. If even this fails to budge the Europeans, the argument goes, then surely images of liberated Iraqis rejoicing in the streets will. If all this seems like wishful thinking, well, this is where the inspections route has gotten the administration. Its members were right the first time around: The inspections process was bound to be a sham. But so was their effort to pretend it was anything else.

They’re Afraid of Your Words:

White House Cancels Poetry Symposium:

“Two former U.S. poet laureates criticized the White House on Thursday for postponing a literary symposium it believed would be politicized. Stanley Kunitz and Rita Dove characterized the decision as an example of the Bush administration’s hostility to dissenting or creative voices.

The Feb. 12 symposium on “Poetry and the American Voice” was to have featured the works of Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman. The postponement was announced Wednesday and no future date has been set for the event, to be held by first lady Laura Bush.” Austin American-Statesman

I propose that like-minded webloggers (close kin to poets in sensibilities…) enact their scorn for the Administration’s fear of free speech and honor the memories of Whitman, Dickinson and Hughes by featuring their poetry prominently in the days between now and Feb. 12th.

Companies test prototype wireless-sensor nets

Self-organizing wireless-sensor networks, a realization of the Pentagon’s “smart-dust” concept, have reached the prototype stage worldwide. The smart sensors, or Motes, were created by the University of California at Berkeley and Intel, and are being tested out worldwide today…

Researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) proposed the smart-dust concept four years ago. The idea was to sprinkle thousands of tiny wireless sensors on a battlefield to monitor enemy movements without alerting the enemy to their presence. By self-organizing into a sensor network, smart dust would filter raw data for relevance before relaying only the important findings to central command.’ EE Times

"On this day in 1933…

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Ezra Pound met with Benito Mussolini. This was a brief, one-time talk, but it would bring out the worst in Pound’s personality and lead to personal disaster. It would also inspire some of the best of modern poetry — the Bollingen Prize-winning Pisan Cantos, written while Pound was in detention, charged with treason.” Today in Literature