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Scritti Politti: March 2, 2009

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Poor Samuel J. "Joe the 'Plumber'" Wurzelbacher! In town to deliver some plumbing lectures at CPAC, he also made a brief appearance at an area Borders to sign "his" "book" that he "wrote" about "stuff." And five people showed up, which isn't entirely his fault, because everyone in DC knows that the big book signings are done by Politics and Prose, not Borders. Of course, had he shown up for a signing at P&P, he would have come face to face with individuals who's political education has matriculated past the second grade level, and who probably know their way around a U-bend as well. Here's how the Post captured this event:

The only heat generated by Joe's appearance last night came when a young man named Jabari Zakiya recounted great moments in American racism (slavery, annihilation of Native Americans, segregation, etc.) and asked Wurzelbacher if the "hegemony" of the white man in America is "doomed" now that five states and the District of Columbia have majority minority populations.

Joe replied that he believes "our American heritage is being torn apart" by flag burners, critics of the military, and those who mock Christian values. He expressed his admiration for patriotic immigrants, and said he dislikes terms like African American and Asian American ("We're all Americans," he said). For some reason, he concluded by saying, "America has always been a kick-butt, take-names kind of country."

Yet despite all that, don't count Samuel the Joe the Plumber the Author the Wurzelbacher out. Check out the odds that BetOnline was offering for his media/political future:

Will Joe run for president in 2011/2012 election cycle? A bet for YES currently pays 12-1.

Will Joe run for "public office" (any type) in 2009? YES pays 3.5-1.

Will Joe win any elected seat in 2009? YES pays 8-1.

Will Joe the Plumber make a bid for the House of Representatives? YES pays 8-1.

Will Joe WIN a seat in the House of Representatives? YES pays 15-1.

Will Joe the Plumber be hired by any major television news network in 2009? YES pays 6-1.

Those odds seem pretty favorable to me, but heck! For all I know, we are, as a nation, PRECISELY that close to just giving up!

At Play At CPAC: Ana Marie Cox's CPAC highlights for Air America include an interview with an enthusiastic NRA supporter who thinks that the "insatiable curiosity" of kids can be tempered by early exposure to firearms - just like the cigarette companies do! But if you're looking for an interview whose substance does not necessarily hinge on the first time a young woman "takes care" of a chicken, you'll enjoy MSNBC's Joe Scarborough's take on the future of conservatism - it involves more internet, less "Republican Party," less fright offered to puppies and kittens. "What works for selling books, what works for driving ratings, doesn't win elections," Scarborough says. Naturally, the conversation was minutes away from veering toward sex.

Correcting The Record: That this new, horrible, zombie calling itself "RADAR Online" has found, only through the brutalist cultural linchpin known as the "Octo-Mom" a means by which it can finally "distinguish" itself is not surprising to me in the least. But let's get things crystal clear, here, Los Angeles Times. RadarOnline has not been "born." Rather, it's preexisting entity has been subsumed and subsequently disgorged so as to launder the content of the National Enquirer into a baseline level of palatability. That said, this new Radar Online will no doubt continue to serve as the go to source for all things massive, swollen, and distended.

Some Heavy Reading Before Bedtime: One thing's for sure, there's no better way to conjure a pleasant sensation of nostalgia for Bill Kristol's brief and horrible New York Times columns than to read his lengthy and horrible health-care policy memos.

So Hot Right Now: Kriston Capps' interview with Rick Wunderman, Smithsonian volcanologist, who thinks that, yes, we should maybe monitor volvanoes, and stuff:

WUNDERMAN: The point is, there are many kinds of hazards. I happen to deal with volcanoes. They're palpable to me. This is my stock in trade. Hurricanes are that to him, because he's been around a few. I see this as a difference of opinion, but I also see, and many people have made this comment, that there's an anti-science vein in that. In other words, I have a feeling he could have attacked some other branch of science. He just thought this one was an easy one to pick on, maybe because of the word "explosion" and that sort of thing.

I find it troubling when people don't see the public good, the public health in this sort of thing. In the case of volcanoes, for example, Mount Pinatubo, about a million and a half dollars saved hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. property [at former U.S. Air Force station Clark Air Base] when it erupted. It's very nice to know that it's going to erupt! And it's relatively cheap to do that kind of preventative, exploratory work, looking for symptoms before this crisis happens--to warn people to get their aircraft away from it, to take steps to be preventative. I'm afraid government isn't very good at that. It's sad. You can see when you see so many contentious people who are unwilling to spend money outside of their own particular area of concern. That's what troubles me.

Go Figure!: Via The Obama administration's OLC has just released a bunch of Bush-era Office of Legal Counsel memos online. In keeping with established traditions, it makes a certain amount of sense that this text should accompany them: "Due to public interest in this matter, the Department of Justice is releasing these documents in an inaccessible format."