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THE DIRECTION OF TIME! As history beckons, we make a plan to peruse the direction of time: // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 21, 2010

History beckons—back Monday: We won’t be posting again until Monday. History beckons, as we struggle with Chapter 5 of How he got there, our companion site. (Chapter 5 is currently promised for Tuesday, April 27.)

Chapter 5 discusses the “month of Wolf,” one of the nastiest—and most insipid—episodes in the mainstream press corps’ twenty-month war against Gore. Given its gruesome complexity, this particular story is hard to tell. We’ll take a few days off to focus.

By the way: The liberal world just sat there and took it while this month-long wilding occurred. (It was Dan Kennedy, then of the Boston Phoenix, who introduced that useful term into the later discussion of the coverage of Gore.)

All your great heroes averted their gaze while this month-long wilding occurred. Are you happy with how that turned out? Does that remarkable failure inspire your confidence in their current powers?

Keith Olbermann, snarling racist (permalink): Race-baiting is easy—and it’s fun! This thought popped into our heads last night as we watched Keith Olbermann, snarling racist, dismissively denigrate Florida’s former Speaker of the House, an Hispanic.

The politician in question is Marco Rubio, a candidate for governor of Florida. He has served in the Florida House since 2000; in 2007 and 2008, he served as the chamber’s Speaker. But to Olbermann, it seems that something is somehow “missing” in Rubio’s political make-up. Here’s the first way he teased last night’s report about the Rubio-Crist gubernatorial race:

OLBERMANN (4/20/10): The House majority whip endorses not the Republican governor of Florida for the Senate but the tea party guy, the purge of the GOP hive accelerates.

Crist and Rubio are both Republicans, of course. (Though Crist is now saying he may run for the senate as an independent.) But to Olbermann, only Crist was a Republican—Rubio was just “the tea party guy.” In his next tease, his racism deepened:

OLBERMANN: Another establishment Republican endorses the bizarro world candidate, not the governor, for Senate from Florida.

In this tease, Crist was politely described as “the governor.” Rubio was denigrated as “the bizarro-world candidate.”

Olbermann proceeded to author a characteristically foolish segment, in which he belly-ached about the way the Republican establishment is abandoning Crist in favor of Rubio. Some major figures are even saying that they will drop their endorsements of Crist if he runs as an independent! It was left to Dave Weigel, another bright young liberal who has taken employment at the Washington Post, to remind this big dope that he bellowed, wailed, cried and complained when Democrats didn’t adopt this stance in the case of Joe Lieberman.

You know it; we know it; everyone knows it. If someone on Fox described an Hispanic Democrat as “the bizarro-world candidate,” as “the Daily Kos guy,” this big fraud would rise up on his haunches and yell race all through the ether. No, Keith Olbermann isn’t a snarling racist—at least, as far as we know. But he is a major clown. He’s shoveling greenbacks into his pants—and dumbing down liberals in the process.

Race-baiting is easy—and it’s fun! As we’ve noted, it also strikes us as a good solid way to help Dems lose seats in November.

Baiting is easy, Rich edition (permalink): With apologies, we didn’t do justice to Frank Rich’s dumbness in a recent post. In that post, we commented on this declaration by America’s number-one numb-nut:

RICH (3/28/10): In fact, the current surge of anger—and the accompanying rise in right-wing extremism—predates the entire health care debate. The first signs were the shrieks of ''traitor'' and ''off with his head'' at Palin rallies as Obama’s election became more likely in October 2008. Those passions have spiraled ever since—from Gov. Rick Perry's kowtowing to secessionists at a Tea Party rally in Texas to the gratuitous brandishingof assault weapons at Obama health care rallies last summer to ''You lie!'' piercing the president's address to Congress last fall like an ominous shot.

If Obama’s first legislative priority had been immigration or financial reform or climate change, we would have seen the same trajectory. The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House—topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman—would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play.

America’s current “dumbest known human” was singing the one song he knows. The fury directed at Obama is a reaction to the rise of two women, a black and a Latina, he let Times readers know. At the time, we noted that the Tea Party’s current heart throbs include Palin, Bachmann and Rubio—two women and an Hispanic. We should have called a bit more attention to Rich’s Supreme Court “analysis.”

Are conservatives howling at Obama because a Latina sits on the Court? In fact, conservatives luvvv Justice Thomas (he’s black)—and, as everyone knows, a fire-fight in the Senate in 2003 reflected Democratic fears that the GOP wanted to elevate Miguel Estrada to a seat on the Supreme Court. Estrada was filibustered out of a seat on the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. The back-story here was widely noted—Democrats feared that this appointment was intended as a stepping-stone to the Court.

(Similar thinking, with roles reversed, now applies to Obama’s nomination of Goodwin Liu to sit on the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.)

The new conservative heart-throb in Florida is Hispanic. And Republicans were maneuvering to put an Hispanic on the Supreme Court! But Frankly, Rich knows only one song. The problem: He makes the liberal world a bit dumber every time he sings it.

In fairness, you can’t blame Rich. Since his pal Imus got the boot, it’s been hard to find an intelligent conversation on TV. Solitude can be hard.

THE DIRECTION OF TIME (permalink): We plan to read Sean Carroll’s new book, From Eternity to Here. Reason? We were fascinated by Claudia Dreifus’ interview with Carroll in yesterday’s New York Times. This Q-and-A grabbed us:

QUESTION: “From Eternity to Here” is about the physics of time. Why do you study time?

ANSWER: Because it is a crucial part of how we think about the universe. It turns out that one of the great mysteries of time—why it has a direction—is really a question about how the early universe was organized. There’s something called “the arrow of time” and it is simply the direction in which time passes from the past to the future. There are many ways in which the past and future are different: things become messier toward the future; we remember yesterday and not tomorrow; actions we take now affect the future but not the past. All of those reflect the arrow of time.

Now, the origin of the arrow of time is a mystery. Based on the laws of thermodynamics, we understand how it works. But we don’t understand why there is an arrow. It comes down to conditions near the Big Bang; the universe started out highly organized and has been becoming more random and chaotic ever since.

In that passage, we’re told that time “has a direction.” We’re also told that time “passes from the past to the future.” In the next Q-and-A, Carroll says this: “The fact that I remember the past and not the future can be traced to the fact that the past has lower entropy.”

A simpler person would say that Carroll can remember the past and not the future because “the past” has already happened, and “the future” hasn’t. Does Carroll’s book make sense of these statements? At THE HOWLER, we plan to find out.

That said, we can assure you of this: The direction of time isn’t good!

On a related point (permalink): Over the weekend, we watched Krista Tippett, author of Einstein’s God, do a book event on C-Span (click here). Late in the hour, someone mentioned Stephen Hawking’s ballyhooed best-seller, A Brief History of Time. Laughing, Tippett said she only understood maybe ten percent of it.

Almost surely, she overstated. Despite this, the analysts cheered.

Most reviewers knew the rules; they must say that Hawking made his difficult subject amazingly easy. They were BS-ing; Tippett was not. For that reason, we decided to let the young analysts engage in long, loud, lusty cheers.

To see a photo of the author chuckling about his hard-to-read book, you know what to do—just click here. Like Carroll, Hawking knows a ton of science. But can these fellers explain it?