6/30/2003 10:43:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Hey, BBC Typically, a hagiography on protesters outside an event should accompany actual coverage of the event.|W|P|105702741286991389|W|P||W|P|6/30/2003 10:26:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Why do people read Oliver Willis? Fine, fine, this is a pissing contest. But I'm perplexed - I followed a link to Oliver Willis's blog today, and it was the perfect antidote to all of the rich prose I've been reading. This guy blows. Check out a post about Howard Dean's fundraising. I read it once, then went back to count the cliches. "unprecedented in the history of American politics" - "upset the applecart of conventional wisdom" - "Compare and contrast" - "worked the room" - "friends in high corporate places" - "David and Goliath battle" - "the most exciting thing to happen in politics" - "a governor from a town called Hope" - "you must allow yourself to not only think outside of the box, but outside of the beltway" - "an open tent of ideas" Not much in the way of prose so far - and the conclusion is just weak.
If the choice in 2004 is between a President who caters to K Street while ignoring Main Street, and a governor whose position really reflects the will of the masses - I would put my money on the Doctor from Vermont. You can't just sit back and enjoy this, you have to stand up and participate in this thing that makes America what it is: democracy in its purest form.
Willis stated previously that "over 21,000 individuals contributed to the Dean campaign." According to opensecrets.org, George W. Bush raised money from 119,213 donors during the 2000 campaign. Some of those were corporate, but at least 101,301 people gave personal donations of $200 or less. Assuming that Bush's supporters consist entirely of Thomas Nast cartoons was Willis's first mistake - his second was assuming that "the masses" consist of 21,000 people. And 298 people link to this guy. Free content has its downsides.|W|P|105702637323550049|W|P||W|P|6/30/2003 09:47:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Wanted: One succession act There's word that the Homeland Security may become 8th in line for the presidency (up from 18th). But if you're going to make a change like this, why not reverse the silly Succession act of 1947? Since then, the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate have been third and fourth in line. Two guys who have never won national elections or served in the executive branch are expected to take over if Air Force one goes down with Bush and Cheney on board. This meant, of course, that from 1995-2001 Strom Thurmond was fourth in line - and from 2001-2003, that man was Robert C. Byrd. We should never have that animus hanging over our heads ever again. My suggestion: Make Sec of State third in line, Defense Secretary fourth in line, and Homeland fifth. If the president and vice president are dead, the country is almost certainly in a state of war, and these are the guys that should be ready to take the reins. So if you're a senator and you want to contact me, look to the column on your right.|W|P|105702402258679506|W|P||W|P|6/30/2003 08:57:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|He even LOOKS like Muskie. Ed Muskie (1914-1996), a senator from Maine, was tipped by Hubert Humphrey to fill out the Democratic presidential ticket in 1968. When Humphrey lost, Muskie began gearing up to run against President Nixon in 1972. He lined up most of the Democrats who wanted to endorse a candidate; as recorded by Hunter Thompson and Ted White, Muskie was seen as the frontunner long before the campaign started. According to White:
... as 1972 began ... Muskie's campaign seemed irresistible. He had solid financial backing, a large and experienced staff, the endorsement of the party's leading figures, the advice of the party sages, the affirmation of the nation's pollsters. But if Muskie was long at the bank and on the letterhead, he was short, depressingly short, on ideas. "To this day," said campaign coordinator Jack English after it was all over, "I don't know what the campaign was about. We never had a theme." (White: The Making of the President 1972, p.79)
Muskie was eventually edged out of the race by two Georges - McGovern on the left, and Wallace on the right. John Kerry declared late in 2002 and, for a while, his campaign seemed inevitable. On Feb. 23 this year, Adam Nagourney summed up Kerry's progress for the New York Times.
If his support is fairly broad, it is hardly deep; even his advisers acknowledge that much of it is the pragmatic response of Democrats drawn more to the resume than to the man. But appreciating the political dynamics of this year, Mr. Kerry and his aides have moved to overcome these concerns, thrusting his candidacy ahead with a combination of bluster and a calculated burst of early spending on a big staff, including some of the more respected names in Democratic politics. Mr. Kerry is about to announce that he has hired the Washington media consultant Bob Shrum, along with his partners Tad Devine and Mike Donilon. Mr. Kerry has made fund-raising calls while convalescing. More important, his aides have let it be known that he was making fund-raising calls while convalescing, to drive a perception that he is a serious and driven candidate. And his protestations not withstanding, many party and labor leaders, noting the speed at which Mr. Kerry is spending money on high-priced campaign talent, predict he will ultimately bow out of the presidential campaign finance system and tap his wife's fortune to finance his campaign. True or not, the notion that Mr. Kerry might do that has raised his stock among Democrats who are worried about the huge fund-raising advantage President Bush enjoys. Finally, Mr. Kerry's campaign has shown an ability to drive -- his opponents suggest a better word might be "manipulate" -- the news coverage that is so influential on the dynamics of the primaries. He has been the beneficiary of a number of favorable articles and news columns, and more are in the works. Indeed, on the very day that Mr. Kerry entered a Baltimore hospital for surgery to remove his cancerous prostate, his advisers were pushing reporters to write articles suggesting that this was the first big test of Mr. Kerry's campaign -- and that the campaign had mastered the moment.
Tomorrow, Howard Dean is expected to reveal that he's raised $6.5 million from the largest base of supporters in the party. As Kerry relinquishes his frontrunner status, it's instructive to remember what happens to a guy when he runs on inevitability. Muskie: Kerry: |W|P|105702105283562979|W|P||W|P|6/30/2003 05:33:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Imminent doom 40% of E! online readers named Buffy the "show they can't live without." Expect suicides.|W|P|105700883616934368|W|P||W|P|6/30/2003 05:22:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Because there just aren't enough blogs about politics ... Larry Sabato, the status quo in human form, offers a fun feature on his political website, the Crystal Ball. Sabato runs fancy electoral college predictions for five of the Democratic candidates (he writes off Dean, Kucinich, Moseley-Braun, and that black guy who lies about stuff) I share Sabato's opinion that Howard Dean would stand to win about 5 or 6 states ... I'm more skeptical about his other picks. Basically, Sabato assumes that, excepting John Kerry, every Democratic frontrunner could win a competetive race by winning all of Gore's states and one or two others. I don't think the Dems can count on Minnesota, Wisconsin or Iowa like they used to; the former states are trending right, and all three are lacking the non-white voters who saved Gore's bacon in 2000. But it's a fun way to kill a few minutes. (courtesy John Tabin)|W|P|105700815970925116|W|P||W|P|6/30/2003 04:59:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Book review II: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer/Philosopher's Stone Reading these books has become a cultural imperative. Movies, TV shows and magazines are padded with Hogwarts references; each Warner Brothers film adaptation is a cultural event; soulless chain stores hosted launch parties for buoyant kids and grudging adults. So I had to read this book. I didn't expect to love it; I liked it, and that's enough to keep me hooked. Fast-paced and cute, the book doesn't create its own world on the scale of Dune or The Lord of the Rings. Despite the best efforts of Slate.com columnists with too much free time, it lacks the philosophical depth of the former. The best I can say for this book is that it reminded me of my favorite Raold Dahl novels, which pretty much defined my childhood. And it inspired me to read the next four - but only because working from home hands me a lot of free time.|W|P|105700679908042833|W|P||W|P|6/30/2003 02:55:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|On the same note ... I sincerely hope this is the weirdest photo I see all week. |W|P|105695614187360162|W|P||W|P|6/29/2003 11:02:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Modem was down today ... ... work and blogging to resume tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy this. |W|P|105694216786493662|W|P||W|P|6/28/2003 07:19:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Book Review I: George Orwell's "Homage to Catalonia It's remembered as "the best book about the Spanish Civil War," and that's fair. Orwell's blow-by-blow narrative of his role in the war, fighting in the ranks of the "Workers Party of Marxist Unification" (P.O.U.M.) is more gripping than a novel, and disturbingly funny. But a good chunk of the book is a bitter catalogue of the political pissing contests that ruined the Popular government and scared away funding that could have allowed them to defeat Franco's National army. In Orwell's view, Franco's uprising could have been stopped. It would have been the first stillborn Fascist coup, and it might have stemmed the tide that he found so horrifying. The Catalans he met, the "workers," had begun a genuine revolution that wiped away all the trappings of class, from personal greetings to tipping bartenders. It was working, we're told - the anarchists and their anagrammed militias had stopped the Nationalist advance in 1936 with outdated weapons. But the socialists in charge ("right-wing socialists"), depending on the support of the Soviet Union, formed a ranked Popular Army and began phasing out the militias. On page after page, Orwell rages against the "counter-revolutionary" Soviets, the British left-wing press, and international Communists for their failure to buck up the anarchists. They killed the revolution in its cradle: "It was inconceivable that the people in his territory ... liked or wanted Franco, but with every swing to the Right the Government's superiority became less apparent." Orwell's conclusion?
Earthquakes in Japan, famines in China, revolutions in Mexico? Don't worry, the milk will be on the doorstep tomorrow morning, the New Statesman will come out on Friday. The industrial towns were far away, a smudge of smoke and misery hidden by the curve of the earth's surface. Down here it was still the England I had known in my childhood: the railway-cuttings smothered in wild flowers, the deep meadows where the great shining horses browse and meditate, the slow-moving streams bordered by willows, the green bosoms of the elms, the larkspurs in the cottage gardens; and then the huge peaceful wilderness of outer London, the barges on the miry river, the familiar streets, the posters telling of cricket matches and Royal weddings, the men in bowler hats, the pigeons in Trafalger Square, the red buses, the blue policemen -- all sleeping the deep, deep sleep of England, from which I sometimes fear that we shall never wake till we are jerked out of it by the roar of bombs.
He wrote this in 1938.|W|P|105684235451569674|W|P||W|P|6/27/2003 04:43:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Eric Alterman lies Eric Alterman's latest blog post (scroll down, MSNBC's blog system is rickety) contains an assertion about Howard Dean's Meet the Press appearence that's so silly, and so intellectually dishonest, that it makes one wonder how hard the man researches the rest of his output.
Um, why do these chattering classes fail to notice that Howard Dean did far better on Tim Russert’s pop quiz than a fellow named Bush did three years ago? (And why was the media at fault then, but the candidate at fault now?) Another librulmedia plot, I guess.
Leaving aside the slap at "chattering classes" from a reporter who writes about nothing BUT chatter, this makes no sense. Do the "chattering classes" include the New York Times? If so, the paper handed over a chunk of its opinion page to a fluff piece by Jake Tapper, with the thesis that Dean's MTP appearence "wasn't so bad." So, who was bashing Dean in the first place? The Boston Herald on June 23 ("Dean claims he'll 'reform' . . . something"), the Daily News on June 25 ("A DEMOCRAT LEAPS IN AND LANDS ON HIS FACE"), and the New York Times itself on June 22 ("Dean Fields Tough Questions on NBC"). A Lexis-Nexis search of newspapers and TV transcripts revealed three articles that reached probably less than 1.5 million people. On Nov. 21, 1999, George W. Bush appeared on Meet the Press and was grilled by Russert. Immediate coverage did not imply that Bush had fared poorly, or been ripped apart. I have the transcript from ABC News, but it's over 9000 words. It'd make more sense to quote Russert's tough questions.
(snip) MR. RUSSERT: Let's go right to it. GOV. BUSH: Yes, sir. MR. RUSSERT: You were on the air with a commercial in Iowa and New Hampshire talking about your top priorities. Let's show our viewers and get your reaction: GOV. BUSH: OK. (Videotape of television advertisement): GOV. BUSH: I believe that government should do a few things and do them well. My top priorities will be to preserve Social Security and Medicare. (End videotape) MR. RUSSERT: "Preserve Social Security and Medicare." Specifically, how will you preserve Social Security? GOV. BUSH: By first and foremost making sure that Congress understands that if I'm the president, all the money that's supposed to be going to Social Security will be spent on Social Security. Secondly, to allow personal savings accounts. Part of the problem we have in Social Security is we're not taking advantage of the compounding rate of interest. In other words, the government investment up to now has lagged way behind real growth and lagged behind the normal returns that people get in the marketplace or through safe bonds. People ought to be allowed to invest part of their moneys in personal savings accounts in order to make sure that there are benefits available in the long term. Thirdly, thirdly, we've to keep the pledge to people who are now dependent upon Social Security, and fourthly, this is an issue that's going to require presidential leadership. It's an issue where a president is going to have to say, "I'm going to spend capital, political capital gain in the course of a campaign. I'm going to have to spend capital to bring both Democrats and Republicans together to solve this problem." I believe the last decade has seen Social Security used as a political football as opposed to an issue that needs to be solved. MR. RUSSERT: If people have private accounts and they take some of their payroll taxes and put them in those private accounts rather than the Social Security fund... GOV. BUSH: Right. MR. RUSSERT: ...and the market goes bust, what happens to those people in that case? GOV. BUSH: Well, there will be guarantees and I'm confident a plan will have guarantees, guaranteed benefit levels for all people. Secondly, over the long term, Tim... MR. RUSSERT: That's pretty risky, Governor. GOV. BUSH: Well, over the long term, the markets and bonds have outperformed the current system. I mean, the current system can't get any worse. It's a zero growth and the key is that either we fix the Social Security system now or we either cut benefits drastically in a couple of decades and/or raise payroll taxes to the point which will really cause economic growth to slow down. This is an issue that's going to require presidential leadership... MR. RUSSERT: And tough, tough decisions. GOV. BUSH: It's not only going to require tough decisions, but from an executive perspective--something I've learned as governor of Texas, a governor has to spend capital on a few items. A president must determine what items that he intends to spend capital on and be willing to do so. MR. RUSSERT: When the system was started, Social Security, there were some 42 workers for every retiree. GOV. BUSH: Right. MR. RUSSERT: It's now three workers for every retiree. GOV. BUSH: That's the problem. MR. RUSSERT: Eligibility age--when Social Security was started, the life expectancy was 65. GOV. BUSH: Right. MR. RUSSERT: It's now 77. GOV. BUSH: Right. MR. RUSSERT: Would you look at raising the eligibility age for the boomer generation? GOV. BUSH: Yeah, not for the short term, and that may be an option for the boomer generation. MR. RUSSERT: For the long term? GOV. BUSH: As part of a trade-off or as part of an opportunity for the boomers and pre-boomer boomers to be able to manage their own accounts. You see, what you just said is absolutely true. There are a lot fewer payers than there are going to be payees. And, therefore, we've got to be smart on how we use invested money to get a rate of return that allows for benefits to be available a couple of decades from now. MR. RUSSERT: What about a means test where billionaires and millionaires would not get the same benefits as everybody else? GOV. BUSH: Well, I think if you're paying in the system, you ought to be able to get something out of the system. And millionaires and billionaires sometimes pay into the system. MR. RUSSERT: Other than looking at raising the eligibility age, what other tough decisions have to be made? GOV. BUSH: Well, there's all kinds of tough decisions. The key tough decision is how much money you're going to allow to go into personal savings accounts and how much will be available for a basic plan as an insurance policy for the long term. Here's the key, in my judgment: A president must be willing to tell both Republicans and Democrats, "I'm going to spend capital myself. I expect you to work with me to come up with a bipartisan solution to solve Social Security." The problem is oftentimes leaders come up and try to be all things to all people. There's agendas, you know, 35 different items in the State of the Union addresses. What I've learned as governor of the state of Texas, and I've learned as a key leadership principle, is to set a few items and to tell both Republicans and Democrats, "I'm willing to spend capital on those items. I'm willing to stand by your side to come up with a solution." MR. RUSSERT: Even if it means raising premiums and reducing benefits for the next generation? GOV. BUSH: Well, I hope we're able to avoid that. But the most important thing is, even if it means taking political flack, even if it means, you know, a short-term drop in the polls, leadership in my judgment is about setting priorities... MR. RUSSERT: Will you present a... GOV. BUSH: ...and be willing to spend capital earned as a result of getting elected to office. MR. RUSSERT: Will you present a specific plan to the voters so they can judge you on it before the election on Social Security? GOV. BUSH: I will set a specific set of principles by which I'll be making decisions and I will make this pledge, that I will spend political capital necessary to bring Republicans and Democrats together to solve this problem. It's something that must be solved today precisely because of the problem you just pointed out.
So, Bush was able to explain why he favored partial privitization. He wasn't caught unaware.
MR. RUSSERT: Health care--let me show you an advertisement that the American Medical Association took out all across the country talking about Texas. And I'll put it on the screen: "In 1997, Texas became the first state to pass a law holding HMOs accountable for their actions. Governor George W. Bush allowed the bill to become Texas law." And, in effect, it allowed Texans to sue HMOs. "Two years later, a Bush spokesman said the governor believes the law has 'worked well'." GOV. BUSH: Yes. MR. RUSSERT: Will you support as president a law to allow everyone in the country to sue their HMO? GOV. BUSH: Yes, let me describe--so long as it looks like the Texas law. And here's what we did in Texas. We said that if you've got a dispute with your HMO, that you should be allowed to take your claim to an independent review organization. And if that independent review organization rules in favor of you, the patient, and the HMO refuses to accept that ruling, ignores the finding, then that becomes a cause of action. In other words, we put in place a dispute resolution mechanism, and if the findings of the objective and independent organization are ignored by the HMOs, then you bet people ought to have a claim of action. MR. RUSSERT: A right to sue? GOV. BUSH: Yes. MR. RUSSERT: Republicans in Congress don't like that. They voted 3-to-1 against it. GOV. BUSH: Well, we just disagree. I think it's important for people to have access to the courts of law if, in fact, there is a--if, in fact, one they have had an opportunity to have their claims heard, and if the findings of the arbitration panel, called an independent review organization, are ignored, there ought be a cause of action. People ought to have some kind of access to express their concerns, both in an arbitration panel, and, ultimately, in the courts. Listen, I'm a tort reformer. I've fought for tort reform in the state of Texas. I signed seven pieces of major tort legislation because our civil justice system was unfair. I thought the plan that we passed in Texas was fair. And that's the kind of leader I've been in Texas. I've been balanced and fair. MR. RUSSERT: But you didn't sign it into law, you let it become law. But in retrospect, you believe the right to sue an HMO in Texas has worked? GOV. BUSH: So long as there's the independent review organization in place, Tim. And I let it become law because I was sending a clear signal, that if the IRO provisions had unwound and they weren't as protective as I thought they'd be of keeping doctors and entities out of the courts, that I'd come back and ask for an amendment, but the plan has worked according to what we thought it would be. MR. RUSSERT: This is not the first time you disagree with Republicans in Congress. Let me show you what you said about balancing the budget on the backs of the poor. You said that: "I'm concerned about the earned income tax credit... I don't think they ought to balance their budget on the backs of the poor." Tom DeLay, fellow Texan, leader of the Republicans, countered: "Bush needs a little education on how Congress works... I don't think he knew what he was talking about." GOV. BUSH: Well, DeLay's a good friend of mine. As you know, we're both Texans. I've known him a long time. I like him and respect him and I hope I'm working with him. I hope I'm working with him. I hope I win. MR. RUSSERT: Can you move him along on HMOs and right to sue... GOV. BUSH: I think we can work together. I do. And that's going to be one of the tests of my leadership. I will tell you point-blank, I hope not only do I win but I hope I'm working with a Speaker Hastert and a Majority Leader Lott. I think it'll be easier for me to get my agenda of entitlement reform, lower taxes to keep the economy growing, a stronger military to keep the peace, and education reform.
Shades of a problem, here ... Bush says he can solve legislative roadblocks with friendship, but it's consistent with what he campaigned on.
(snip) MR. RUSSERT: You also raised some eyebrows in the Republican Party when you made a comment about cultural policy, espoused by the Republican Party. Let me show you a clip of your speech and get your reaction: (Videotape, October 5): GOV. BUSH: Too often, on social issues, my party has painted an image of America slouching toward Gomorrah. (End videotape) MR. RUSSERT: "Gomorrah," the biblical city of disrepute, of immorality. What are you talking about? What have the Republicans been emphasizing they shouldn't be? GOV. BUSH: Well, I've been talking about how we're been emphasizing the problems and not the solutions. In that speech I went on to say there are Republican governors all across the country who are facing problems of despair and hopelessness, and who are addressing those problems in incredibly positive ways. It was really--my speech there was an attempt to say we Republicans need to be proud of our philosophy. We ought not to be defensive. MR. RUSSERT: But why Gomorrah? "Slouching towards Gomorrah"? GOV. BUSH: We got defensive. Well, it's just part of the poetry of my speeches. It was imagery. I wanted people to hear what I had to say and they listened. It had nothing to do with Robert Bork, by the way, but it had everything to do with making sure that our party be confident in our philosophy. As you know, Tim, this is a world where people are assigned labels so I assigned myself a label with the help of some press and that is "compassionate conservatism." And it's important for Republicans and conservatives in America to be proud, to be optimistic about our philosophy because I truly believe it is a more hopeful philosophy, and I believe it's a philosophy that's going to lead to a better life. MR. RUSSERT: When you put your policy into practice, it sometimes creates difficulty within the Republican Party? GOV. BUSH: Yes. MR. RUSSERT: For example, John McCain, your opponent, met with Log Cabin Republicans, gay Republicans. Would you meet with them? GOV. BUSH: Oh, probably not. MR. RUSSERT: Why not? GOV. BUSH: Well, because it creates a huge political scene, I mean, that this is all--I am someone who is a uniter, not a divider. I don't believe in group thought, pitting one group of people against another. And all that does is create kind of a huge political, you know, nightmare for people. I mean, it's as if an individual doesn't count, but the group that the individual belongs in is more important. MR. RUSSERT: But you're against gay marriage? GOV. BUSH: I am against gay marriage because I believe that marriage is for men and women. MR. RUSSERT: What about gay adoption? GOV. BUSH: I don't support gay adoption either because I believe that society ought to aim for the ideal, and the ideal is for a man and woman to adopt children. I'm a strong proponent of adoption. I put plans in place to expedite adoption here in the state of Texas. I understand that sometimes a gay person, for example, will adopt a child, an individual. And I fully recognize that government--in a private way, and I fully recognize government should not be a policeman knocking on doors, you know, demanding some kind of, you know, credential as to their sexual orientation. MR. RUSSERT: But a stable gay relationship, longtime? GOV. BUSH: Well, I just believe that we ought to--a person in my position ought to be promoting the ideal, and the ideal world is for a mom and dad to adopt a child. MR. RUSSERT: Hate crimes... GOV. BUSH: Yes. MR. RUSSERT: ...an issue that many gays look to Texas as, they believe, non-supportive of them. GOV. BUSH: Yeah. MR. RUSSERT: There was legislation in Texas which said if a hate crime is committed, black, Hispanic, women, creed and sexual orientation would be protected. Police would be given special training. Civil claims would be allowed. George W. Bush did nothing to encourage that legislation. Why? GOV. BUSH: Well, first of all, a lot of senators here in Texas were against the bill. Secondly, because we have a hate-crimes law in place in Texas. That's something--I realize this issue's become politicized. We had several national candidates come trooping through our state demanding some kind of action. But Texas has a hate-crimes bill. MR. RUSSERT: But... GOV. BUSH: Wait. Let me finish. MR. RUSSERT: ...opponents say it's not adequate... GOV. BUSH: Well, let... MR. RUSSERT: ...and the Supreme Court has said you can be much more specific by... GOV. BUSH: Well... MR. RUSSERT: ...listing the groups specifically. GOV. BUSH: The opponents may say it's not been adequate, but the most high-profile hate crime we've had in the state of Texas shows the law is adequate. After all, two of the three defendants will be put to death in our state. MR. RUSSERT: This is the James Byrd dragging case? GOV. BUSH: Yes. Yes, sir, up there in Jasper, Texas. Two of the three defendants who brutalized this man were found guilty by a jury of their peers, and under Texas law will be put to death. I can't think of a more harsh punishment for hate crimes. And I support the death penalty, by the way. MR. RUSSERT: Would you be open to a national hate-crime law which said blacks, Hispanics, women, gays and creed... GOV. BUSH: See, here... MR. RUSSERT: ...should be covered specifically in order to tell society, send a message to society, as a fellow named James Mayfield--you know who he is? GOV. BUSH: Yes, I do. MR. RUSSERT: Pastor of the Terrytown United Methodist Church, your pastor... GOV. BUSH: Very good research on your part, I might add. MR. RUSSERT: Your pastor, Governor, said, "Let's send a message that Texas is not a hate state and pass this law." Will you listen to your minister? GOV. BUSH: The best way to send a message, in all due respect to my minister, who I love dearly--for Texas to send a message is to hold people accountable for their behavior. I also have problems trying to figure out how we prosecute thought in America. I mean, hate is hate. Hate is hate. It's like when the guy walked into the Columbine High School and, unfortunately, shot two men, one white and one black. Now what's the difference between that crime? Hate is hate.
That sounds dumb. It sounds like he wasn't sure exactly how many people were killed at Columbine, and Russert didn't press him on it. Of course, Russert never asked about Columbine in the first place. I couldn't find any more examples of misteps in the interview, so by the Greg Palast standard, I've done my job. What was the reaction to the Bush MTP interview? Howard Kurtz spotlighted it on the Nov. 27 edition of Reliable Sources.
Well, joining us now, Matt Cooper, deputy Washington bureau chief for "Time" magazine, Melinda Hennengberger, political reporter for "The New York Times" and in New York, Rich Lowry, editor of "National Review." Welcome all. Matt, why was there so much media buzz about George Bush surviving an hour on "Meet the Press"? Is there a Tim Russert primary? MATT COOPER, DEPUTY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Maybe that should be the next one. Well, look, George Bush has had problems. You know, there's been a suggestion and a lot of media stories and I think it's been detected in some polls of voters, too, some concern about his experience, his knowledge of foreign affairs and of course he'd had this interview a couple weeks back where he flubbed a few questions. KURTZ: The pop quiz. COOPER: This crazy pop quiz that one reporter threw at him which he flubbed it and seemed to get a little flustered on camera by it. KURTZ: So was this more of a final exam? COOPER: I think there was something to that and I don't think that's a crazy thing to, you know, report about and show interest in. I mean an hour's worth of tough questions from a good reporter like Tim Russert is, you know, is a useful barometer of where a candidate is. KURTZ: Melinda, you've interviewed Governor Bush on the trial, no cameras. How successful were you at finding the inner W.? MELINDA HENNENBERGER, POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I don't think I can make that claim. I think one thing that he does do and maybe one reason why we're looking so closely at something like the Russert interview is that he does tend to stick to the stump speech really closely and he on several occasions, if you say but the question I asked was, he'll say do you mind if I finish? And he has a real talent, I think, for sort of running the clock out and... KURTZ: Was that frustrating in trying to get him off the script, so to speak? HENNENBERGER: Sure. Sure.
The Washington Post didn't take on Bush ("In TV Talk, Bush Draws Some Lines," Nov. 22, 1999), nor did The St. Petersburg Times, ("Bush speaks on TV about abortion, gays," Nov. 22, 1999). The New York Times did take some shots - William Safire wrote a Nov. 22 column called "A Lightweight He's Not," noting that Bush impressed by not being a moron.
The political news of the week is that George W. Bush can comport himself confidently under sustained, serious questioning. (snip) But asked to be consistent about applying economic penalties to China as well as Russia after human rights abuses, Bush waffled. His mind-set is not where his speech text is: "We have got to work with the Chinese" he replied. "We need to be very harsh with China, but I don't think we have the same amount of -- maybe we got the same amount of export-import bank loans, I can't answer that question in specific. . . ." It did not trouble me that Bush flunked Russert's subtle test about the number of missiles agreed to in Start II, or that he ducked a commitment when provided the answer in the follow-up: "If Start II brings it down to 3,500," the host asked, "would you be willing to do down to 1,000 with Start III?" Such figures are drilled into memory before a negotiation; a better criterion in judging his capacity is his realism about the next step: "I want to work with the Russians to dismantle the nuclear warheads and weaponry that's in place that already is a part of the first Start series." (snip) In all, a respectable performance. Anybody can read a speech; few politicians can come out of a full hour in the ring with Russert relatively unscathed. Now, about his pronunciation of the word nuclear . . .
The Boston Globe sent out David Nyhan, in a Nov. 23 piece called "DUBBYA CAN RUN, BUT HE CAN'T HIDE":
George W. Bush rolled out for a friendly sparring round on "Meet the Press" Sunday was prepped, barbered, and wound up. This was a home game in Austin for "Dubbaya," with interlocutor Tim Russert playing jocular guest to His Young Majesty's gracious host. It was very palsy-walsy. You don't play tough-guy with the front-runner unless you're Andy Hiller, whose next one-on-one with any member of the Bush dynasty will not come before the year 2044. With what we are coming to recognize as Boy George's permanently furrowed brow, his jut-jawed assertiveness, and slightly off-putting habit of repeating words and whole phrases as he searches the 53-year-old old memory bank, Young George laid out his vision of the world and how that fits in with what he calls "my job as future president of the United States." Some of the rest of us might prefer an election before the coronation. But Dubbaya is forcing the calendar. "I intend to be the president," he confided. And just in case Russert entertained any Hiller-esque inclinations, Bush was ready for any potential stumpers: "I realize people will replay my statements on shows like this three years into my presidency." He's not only past the inauguration of 2001, he's already into 2004, when he'll be running for reelection! Here's a guy who's ready for the history books. How do I know? Just listen: "I'm a history major at Yale. I learned a lot of good history there." A real intellectual on top of everything else. But the Boy George of the Bubble Boy campaign, sequestered so long by his Austin mafia, is now hip-deep in voters in New Hampshire, trying to stem the erosion caused by the John McCain rip tide. Bush's big early lead in New Hampshire proved to be Kennedy-esque. As used to be said of Ted Kennedy in the year he ran for president, he peaked the day he announced. (snip)
On November 30, Anthony Lewis devoted his column to Bush's performance. On Dec. 19, the "Critic's Notebook" painted the performance as another step in a PR campaign:
During the Republican debate in New Hampshire early this month, Gov. George W. Bush looked so squinty-eyed and ill at ease on camera that it was easy to visualize him as a cartoon figure with wheels slowly cranking inside his head. But last Thursday on "Larry King Live" he was a political consultant's dream: he was at ease joking about baseball and flattering the host; his eyes widened with sincerity when he talked about the "heavy heart" he had when Karla Faye Tucker, who had a religious conversion while on death row in Texas, was executed. It was suddenly possible for a viewer to comprehend the charm that people who have seen him in person have noted, but that had been missing from his television appearances. Before that, pop quizzes about foreign leaders and reading lists had caused him to send a panicky look into the camera; during an hour-long interview with Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" he had seemed prepared and cogent, mostly in comparison to the low expectations he had carried along.
|W|P|105674662373764767|W|P||W|P|6/27/2003 04:09:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Che's world Lawrence Osborne surveys the followers and fans of Che Guevera. Frankly, the Observer didn't give him enough space.|W|P|105674455852794125|W|P||W|P|6/27/2003 02:10:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Now, give me an Oscar My planned historical bio-pic of Andrew Jackson may very well net me an Oscar. This according to Chucklehound's movie generator. Hickory (R) (Historical Epic) Starring James Woods and Meryl Streep Also Featuring Willem Dafoe, James Franco, Helen Mirren, and Emily Watson Directed by Ridley Scott Screenplay by Randall Wallace Projected Budget Range: $70-79 Million Planned Release Date: November Projected Box Office Receipts: $18.67 million (Opening Weekend) $91.78 million (Total Domestic Gross) Chance of getting Oscar Nomination: 20% Chance of winning at least one Oscar: 5% Critic Most Likely to Praise: Ron Wells, Film Threat Critic Most Likely to Skewer: Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post Many thanks to Michele Catalano. UPDATE: I may now be doubting the reliability of this bullshit website. Here's my attempt to make crap ... Skullfuck 2: The Ravishing (R) (Slasher) Starring Casey Affleck and Eliza Dushku Also Featuring Brian Cox, Sisqo, Kate Bosworth, and Molly Shannon Directed by Rob Cohen Screenplay by Steven Zaillian Projected Budget Range: $20-29 Million Planned Release Date: February Projected Box Office Receipts: $11.63 million (Opening Weekend) $46.88 million (Total Domestic Gross) Chance of getting Oscar Nomination: 4% Chance of winning at least one Oscar: Slim to None Critic Most Likely to Praise: Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Critic Most Likely to Skewer: Chris Gore, Film Threat|W|P|105669420395308754|W|P||W|P|6/27/2003 01:46:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|DVD Review I: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Complete Fourth Season Buffy fans have their dogma. Season Three was the series' pinnacle. Buffy and Angel are meant to be together. Adam was a terrible villain. The Initiative sucked. I was told by no less an authority than Jim Treacher that Season Four was "eh." Am I just being contrarian, then, when I say this season kicks the asses of all seasons in this reality or any other? Nope. There's great stuff in these episodes - the best episodes in the series, according to Joss Whedon, and the best BAD episodes in the series, according to me. Take "Beer Bad" - one of the stupidest metaphors of all time (cursed beer turns students into cavemen) and one of the worst plots of all time (cavemen start fire, cursed Buffy must save Willow!) is much better than I remembered, saved by a scene when Willow (Alyson Hannigan) takes out her frustration with werewolf beau Oz (Seth Green) by confronting Parker Abrams, a lecher who charmed Buffy into a one night stand. Willow's confidence inspires Parker to try his "I've never met a girl I can just sit and TALK with" shtick on her - she smiles and asks, "just how gullible do you think I am?" Why does this work? Well, in four years Willow has come from shrinking under Cordelia's insults ("Nice dress! Looks like you've seen the softer side of Sears!") to charming and humiliating a guy who played her friend Buffy like a fiddle. Evolution is not unique to Buffy, of course. It's just that few shows do it better, more affectingly. If you've watched this far in the series, your heart does a little jump at these moments. And Season Four is chock full o' moments. EPISODES (the five best are bolded): 1 - "The Freshman." Buffy awkwardly adjusts to college life. (Buffy awkwardly adjusts to everything, if you've noticed.) Giles is unemployed and shacking up with his English girlfriend. Willow and Oz are living in bliss. Cute TA Riley Finn (Marc Blucas) doesn't realize she exists. It's a serviceable episode, predictable as hell, and provider of a new clip for the credits sequence (Buffy catches a stake in midair). 6/10 2 - "Living Conditions." Buffy's roommate is a soul-sucking demon. C'mon, that's funny! Unfortunately, while no longer than any other episode, it seems to drag on for weeks and weeks. 5/10 3 - "Harsh Light of Day." Juxtaposition ahoy! Buffy shacks up with sensitive, soft-eyed Parker Abrams, and he dumps her the next day. That's the first "harsh light." Meanwhile, Spike (James Marsters) returns (with Harmony, the popular Sunnydale harridan who's now an annoying vampire!) and finds a ring that makes him invulnerable to sunlight. That's "harsh light" #2. Both plots rule. Meanwhile, the cute relationship between ex-demon Anya (Emma Caulfield) and uber-loser Xander (Nicholas Brendon) relationship begins. 9/10 4 - "Fear, Itself." Completely underrated Halloween episode with a hilarious denoument. 9/10 5 - "Beer Bad." Shit! But it's got it's moments. 4/10 6 - "Wild at Heart." The plot's not what you take away from this one - you'll remember the tearful Willow-Oz breakup for weeks. ("Don't you love me?" "My whole life, I've never loved anything else.") The catalyst, irksome singer/werewolf Veruca, reduces the rewatch value. 8/10 7 - "The Initiative." The season's big villain is introduced, sort of - as the episode reveals, we've known these villains all season long. Spike returns and gets Clockwork Orange-style programming that prevents him from doing harm to humans, thus allowing him to join the cast and initiate the series' decline. (Sort of. This season, he's still fun. His "impotence" scene, when he tries to bite Willow and fails, is priceless comedy.) 10/10 8 - "Pangs." Hilariously stupid Thanksgiving special, where Willow and Buffy debate the merits of taking out the spirit of Native American Vengeance. They feel too guilty! Cowboy/Indian metaphors are worked in throughout, and Xander's contraction of mystical smallpox and syphillis makes for many inappropriate jokes. 9/10 9 - "Something Blue." Willow deals with her heartbreak by casting a spell - with WaCkY results! A funny hour that actually moves her character forward, but a little low on substance. 9/10 10 - "Hush." One of the best episodes of the series, and one of the best hours of horror ever broadcast on TV. Alternately terrifying and silly, and nearly wordless. It introduces Tara MacClay (the cute Amber Benson), and as much as I miss Seth Green on this series, it's hard not to swoon while Willow slowly falls for this new girl. 10/10 11 - "Doomed." A pedestrian Hellmouth drama, with one revelation: Spike's programming doesn't keep him from hurting demons! That, sadly, is it. 6/10 12 - "A New Man." Giles feels like no one is listening to him; thus, Giles is turned into a demon that can't speak English. Luckily, his alliance with Spike makes for some of the best jokes of the season. 8/10 13 - "The 'I' in Team." The season's storyline finally gears up, as Buffy joins the Initiative on Riley's request. She asks the wrong questions and her boss sets a death trap - when Buffy escapes, the dark secret the Initiative was trying to protect is already on the loose. 8/10 14 - "Goodbye, Iowa." Riley loses his innocence and nearly dies confronting the Initiative's demon/cyborg/human monster Adam (who is a much better villain then fans give credit for). 8/10 15 - "This Year's Girl." Faith, a slayer gone bad (played by the gorgeous Eliza Dusku), wakes from a Buffy-induced coma and prawls around Sunnydale seeking revenge. In the last act, she discovers a way to switch bodies with her nemesis - much less corny than it sounds, that's how the episode ends. 9/10 16 - "Who Are You?" Funny and affecting, this episode escapes the pitfall of every other "I'm trapped in someone else's body!" story (namely, excruciating lameness) by turning Faith's new life into a way of making her realize her failures. Willow and Tara save the day by casting a spell, thus consummating their relationship. Every character is turned upside down in a way that only works when your show has more than 60 episodes of backstory. 10/10 17 - "Superstar." Hapless nerd Jonathan (Danny Strong), whose high school suicide attempt was thwarted by Buffy, casts a spell that makes him the most popular human being on Earth. It says something about this show that it can muster two "upside down" episodes in a row and never lose its edge. 10/10 18 - "Where the Wild Things Are." Riley and Buffy awake the ghosts of dead children in his frathouse by ... well ... by making crazy naked sex. The Xander-Anya scenes bring it up several notches. 7/10 19 - "New Moon Rising." Oz returns, his lycanthropy under control, and tries to make amends with Willow. When he discovers her scent on Tara (a terrific scene), the beast comes out again and the Initiative traps him in their pens. It concludes with Riley going AWOL, Oz leaving Sunnydale for good, and Willow promising to make things up to her girlfriend "right now." (Buffy fans remember this as "the candle scene." Google it.) 9/10 20 - "The Yoko Factor." Spike, on Adam's payroll, splits up Buffy's friends with remarkable ease. The divisions have been building all season, so the episode makes sense, but it's not much more than filler before the season climax. 7/10 21 - "Primeval." Buffy and friends reunite and destroy Adam as the Initiative destroys itself. A smart, action-packed ep that owes more than a little to "The Matrix." 9/10 22 - "Restless." A hilariously over-analyzed hour that takes place primarily in our heroes' dreams. Joss Whedon's screenplay, which he sheds light on in a commentary, ties together the events of the past four years and sets up the rest of the series - and Joss is too smart to mess up something like that. My favorite line? Anya: "I think I've got the hang of steering [the van] by gesturing emphatically." 10/10 The set is on sale for $50 in most stores. For the price of 2.5 movies, you can wrangle about 19 hours of a uniquely brilliant and affecting TV show. And the girls, if I haven't stressed this enough, are very cute.|W|P|105669280480485881|W|P||W|P|6/27/2003 12:49:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Shut it, Trent There was a time when I would have felt a twinge of sympathy about this. Then I read the third volume of Caro's LBJ biography. So there'll be none of that. You'll have to go to my senator.|W|P|105668939087823903|W|P||W|P|6/27/2003 12:28:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Thursday (Here is why I did not blog today)* I spent the day in New York, ending up at the party for Jacob Sullum's book "Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use." Dishing is not my forte, so I offer these tidbits. - The book is funny and logically ironclad. You should read it. - Kurt Loder looks his age, and he does not smile. *this is the most obscure reference I have ever made. Hint. |W|P|105668809134154123|W|P||W|P|6/25/2003 05:39:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Sharpton.com Rev. Al finally has a website for his "presidential campaign." Well worth a look|W|P|105657714964173990|W|P||W|P|6/25/2003 01:50:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Life imitates the Onion imitating the Onion The Onion is taking the week off, and editors posted a batch of old articles to fill space. This "What do YOU think?" is two years old. Would you have known that if I didn't tell you?|W|P|105656343674536881|W|P||W|P|6/24/2003 02:44:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Coultergeist Ann Coulter's petard-hoisting is coming soon - Human Events is giving her a blog. Expect the worst.|W|P|105648025384562051|W|P||W|P|6/24/2003 11:46:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Insomnia is the new purple I couldn't sleep last night - I tossed and contorted myself away from the window again and again, but from 1:00 a.m. to 6 a.m. I was almost deleriously alert. So, use this if you're similarly troubled.|W|P|105646958889396051|W|P||W|P|6/24/2003 02:32:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|The New York Times editorial on affirmative action in 3.5 words Journalists aren't lawyers.|W|P|105643633854512881|W|P||W|P|6/24/2003 02:29:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Websites are the new punchlines Republicans who support Al Sharpton (for the Dem nomination!) are real, and they know html. I'm of two minds; this is silly right-wing pinata-bashing, but it makes fun of Al Sharpton. It should be funnier. Actually, why isn't it funnier? Sharpton's campaign motto, at this point, is "I'm going to slap the donkey until the donkey kicks." Even Colin Quinn could make this guy funny.|W|P|105643616571427604|W|P||W|P|6/24/2003 01:55:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Movie Review I: Testament 1983 was the year of the nuclear holocaust. Not the real one. You didn't miss anything. It was the year that Hollywood muscle put together "The Day After" and "Testament," two semi/ultra realistic (depending if you're talking to a teacher or a scientist) melodramas about world ripped apart by nuclear war. Partly inspired by the nuclear freeze movement, partly inspired by that pioneer spirit that bankrolls a couple of apocalypse movies each year, the movies joined a holy trinity in 1984 when the BBC produced "Threads." Like any good trinity, the Apocalypse Three boast their own strengths. "Threads" is a headspinning nightmare, nearly plotless, with a mishmash of scenes that don't end until 15 years after the war and the stillbirth of a mutant (the no nukes movement was much more powerful in the UK than the USA - coincidence?). "The Day After" has stars (Robards! Lithgow! Guttenberg!) and down-homey scenery. "Testament" is different. It's often remembered as the best of three, because its plot and characters (all played by unknowns, except for a mumbly Kevin Costner and Rebecca DeMornay who, oddly, play newlyweds) take precedence over the boils, blood and torment. Notably, it doesn't take place in a ground zero. It doesn't even show one. The Wetherly family reside in hilly, whitebread Hamlin, CA, where daddy Tom sometimes commutes into San Francisco. He's in the city when the bombs drop, 15 minutes into the movie, while his wife Carol and kids Brad, Mary Liz and Scotty watch TV. A cartoon turns to static - a newsreader appears and announces that New York has been nuked - and the sky turns yellow, in an effect straight out of Flash Gordon. From then on, of course, everything goes to hell. Then it goes deeper. Despite the strong narrative, small cast, and sacchrine use of old "home movies" and Carol's journal to beat the drama into our foreheads, "Testament" is the least devastating of the A3. From minute one the people of Hamlin are cuddly and supportive. Gas station owner Mike and his retarded son Hiroshi give Carol free gasoline while cars wind miles behind her. Avuncular Henry Abhart, a ham radio geek, takes Brad under his wing and sends him out to keep the community wired. Then folks start up-'n'-dyin'. Kevin Costner and Rebecca DeMornay lose their baby girl after it vomits during a feeding. Scotty quickly deteriorates and crashes, splayed out naked in the bathroom. And the movie gets this right - the stuffy, middle-class characters handle death in a stuffy, middle-class way. Mouths shut tight when someone asks "what will happen" or "will I live?" Carol obsesses over burying Scotty with his teddy bear, but she handles the rest of the deaths with grim-faced determination and monotone journal entries. ("I look at Brad. The man he's become. The man he'll never grow up to be.") The school production of "The Pied Piper" (badum-ching!) goes on. Carol adopts the kids of parents who croak. Something snaps in the end, after the lovable Henry kicks and Carol, gripping dirt, lets out an anguished "Who - did - this? God - DAMN - you!" The family tidies up the furniature and, with Hiroshi in tow, head to an abandoned garage to turn on their car and let the gas run. The sight of young Brad sighing as he kills himself is a powerful 3rd act shock. But Carol turns off the gas, and the survivors light candles, and they promise to "deserve the children" that come after the apocalypse. (I'm thinking she needs to rent "Threads.") So it's the weakest of the A3 on flash, and tied with "The Day After" on substance. It's not worth owning, but neither are any of these movies unless you get a surreal kick from open sores. Rating: 7/10|W|P|105643411412676688|W|P||W|P|6/23/2003 11:56:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Break the law ... ... download SoulSeek. I've lassoed live bootlegs by Tommy Keene, My Bloody Valentine, Warren Zevon, and Guided by Voices. For some reason, I've downloaded an old Mylanta commercial starring Alyson Hannigan. Not the best file-sharing service ever, but pretty good - and spyware-free.|W|P|105642697955227605|W|P||W|P|6/23/2003 10:21:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Working on deadline for Money. Will be back tonight. For all of you who are, you know ... checking.|W|P|105642129829730587|W|P||W|P|6/23/2003 04:22:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Howard Dean vs. Howard Dean for President The press missed one of the most amusing bits from yesterdays' Rainbow-PUSH Democratic debate. C-Span has the video. At 1:12:40, Tavis Smiley asks about the need for internet access in minority (read: dirt poor) schools - the "digital divide." Howard Dean answers at 1:19:40.
DEAN: I thought you'd be interested to know about how the digital divide affects me. We have the most advanced internet campaign in the country. We have 34,000 volunteers all over the country, because of the internet. The next biggest campaign has 1300. We have a disproportionate number of white, middle-class kids because the internet does not reach enough people in the Latino and the African-American communities. When I went to San Anton--to Austin, Texas, we had 3200 people come out and see us in a Latino neighborhood. Why? Because we used the telephone. I know what happens in the digital divide, not because I know a lot about what happens in households, but because my campaign is adversely affected by the fact that I can't reach members of the African-American and the Latino community in the way I want to reach them.
I've heard left-wing activists complain about the whiteness of their movements before (find some Nader campaign retrospectives if you need a refresher course), but in a Democratic presidential campaign? Wow, I guess. Dean takes a pretty big slap at his own campaign with this one. Also, does it strike anyone else as weird that the governor of Vermont, with its 3000 African-American citizens, blames economic inequality for his paltry African-American support? Either Dean was making a big reach to appeal to the Rainbow-PUSH audience, or he's mighty clueless about that grass roots movement of his.|W|P|105639972983244106|W|P||W|P|6/23/2003 03:53:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|My friend the punching bag James Justin Wilson, UM alum and National Review intern, is the BBC's poster boy for the "strong feelings" that affirmative action inspires. Justin has a way of showing up at every "diversity" love-in on the east coast, so memorize that face - you'll see it connected to Al Sharpton's fist someday.|W|P|105639800631386680|W|P||W|P|6/23/2003 03:28:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|A new era dawns Two months ago, the server which hosted www.davidweigel.com was unplugged; its babysitters didn't exactly jump to the task of reconnecting it. Recently I've been moving my stuff over to a new server, courtesy of hasweb, but my main blog has rebuffed my efforts at updating it. I miss blogging; thus, I blog anew on this site. For the immediate future, look here to find constant updates on my work.|W|P|105639649933579475|W|P||W|P|6/23/2003 03:11:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Testing ... 1, 2, 3 ...|W|P|105639550646359168|W|P||W|P|