7/31/2003 11:16:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Mmm deadlines Yeah, no posting today.|W|P|105970779061051477|W|P||W|P|7/30/2003 05:42:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Book review V: The Ungovernable City by Vincent J. Cannato This is Cannato's first book, and you can tell. His history of New York city from 1965 to 1973 is overlong and occasionally ponderous, because Cannato leaves no observer out. Journalists from The Village Voice, The New Republic, and the Daily News are quoted nearly every time Lindsay makes a decision or hits the campaign trail. It's a shame the book is so hard to get through, because it rubs up against greatness. The story of Lindsay - a liberal Republican congressman who twice won the mayoralty on a big government platform - is the story of late 60s politics. A handsome, vigorous politician, Lindsay quickly alienated supporters by approaching each issue as though only he could solve it before allowing an aide to cave in. MTA organizers who started a strike on Lindsay's first day in office were granted a pay raise. Black radicals were given funding and legitimacy in school board disputes. The police department was turned into a political football, subject to "citizen complaint review boards," and crime skyrocketed as a result. In 1969 Lindsay lost the Republican nomination, to the delight of Richard Nixon and Nelson Rockefeller - reading about that election today is like watching the country swing to the right in real time. Cannato's sampling of the contemporary press can be fun. Reporters covered the 1969 election as if conservatism would destroy the city. He quotes one journalist claiming that right-wing Democrat Mario Proccacino would create a New York where "people were shooting each other." The author notes: "As if that weren't happening already." The final chapter recalls Lindsay's 1993 endorsment of David Dinkins, his defeat, and the way Rudy Giuliani used the policies that so frightened 60s journalists to bring the city back to life.|W|P|105960136696463061|W|P||W|P|7/29/2003 01:22:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|American Wedding watch Two thumbs up from Ebert and Roeper. Oh yes.|W|P|105949936746292066|W|P||W|P|7/29/2003 12:25:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|The Democrats - who'll quit first? I had dinner with David Mark of Campaigns and Elections magazine on Saturday, and we briefly talked about which Democrats will be the first to abandon the presidential campaign. Here are my guesses. 1.) John Edwards A good candidate on paper, Edwards has failed to gather any traction whatsoever. There's evidence that he's even been slipping in the last month, as his one advantage (money) was lost to Howard Dean. State-by-state, Edwards is stiffing: Iowa - 5 percent (5th overall) New Hampshire - 2 percent (5th overall, tied with Clark and Graham) California - 4 percent (5th) Arizona - 1 percent (7th) And South Carolina, the state that Edwards should be winning? He's got 7 percent, making him fourth overall. In national polls, Edwards has plummetted from 2nd to 7th. And he doesn't have much room to move up. He's fighting for the same base as Lieberman, Gephardt, Graham and Kerry. What advantages does he have over those four? Not experience. Not name recognition. Not biography (Kerry's Vietnam thing is more powerful than "first in my family to go college"). Graham's ability to carry Florida trumps Edwards' ability to carry North Carolina. My prediction: Edwards will drop out by the end of 2003, but will not support another candidate until Graham and Lieberman drop out.|W|P|105945270652258341|W|P||W|P|7/28/2003 03:42:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Bob Hope's longevity The New York Times eulogizes Bob Hope with this factoid.
This obituary was written in 1999 by Vincent Canby, a film and theater critic for The Times. Mr. Canby died in 2000.
Bob Hope outlived the man who wrote his obituary.|W|P|105942135192159612|W|P||W|P|7/27/2003 06:58:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Screwing Greg Palast The new tome by Disinformation includes yet another interview with Greg Palast, wherein he claims once again that he "exposed" the media for "fabricating a quote" from Cynthia McKinney. Here's the column that started it:
According to NPR, “McKinney implied that the [Bush] Administration knew in advance about September 11 and deliberately held back the information.” The New York Times’ Lynette Clemetson revealed her comments went even further over the edge: “Ms. McKinney suggest[ed] that President Bush might have known about the September 11 attacks but did nothing so his supporters could make money in a war.” That’s loony, all right. As an editor of the highly respected Atlanta Journal Constitution told NPR, McKinney’s “practically accused the President of murder!” Problem is, McKinney never said it.
This is queer ... none of the media Palast is quoting actually quoted McKinney. They summed up a statement she made in an interview. That's not a quote. But don't tell Palast.
In "The Screwing of Cynthia McKinney," I thought I'd perform a minor but laudatory public service: correcting a cruelly false statement by the New York Times, a fib repeating or repeated by other sources from National Petroleum Radio to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Was the New York Times statement "false?" Well, here's an interview that Cynthia McKinney gave Dennis Bernstein on KPFA's "Flashpoints" on March 25, 2002.
... an Administration of questionable legitimacy has been given unprecedented power to fight America's new war against terrorism. (snip) In February 2001, The United States Commission on National Security, including Newt Gingrich, recommended that the National Homeland Security Agency be established with a hefty price tag. Most people chuckled at the suggestion. After September 11, we have OK'd the targeting and profiling of certain groups of people in America while not arresting in any way the racial profiling and discrimination that existed prior to September 11. Mass arrests, detention without charge, military tribunals, and infringements on due process rights are now realities in America. Even more alarming are the calls in some circles to allow the use of torture and other brutal methods in pursuit of so-called "justice." Sadly, US administration of justice will be conducted by an Administration incapable of it. Interestingly, prominent officials explain to us that September 11 happened because we are free. And "they" hate us because we are free. Moreover, persons close to this Administration are poised to make huge profits off America's new war. Former President Bush sits on the board of the Carlyle Group. The Los Angeles Times reports that on a single day last month, Carlyle earned $237 million selling shares in United Defense Industries, the Army's fifth-largest contractor. The stock offering was well timed: Carlyle officials say they decided to take the company public only after the Sept. 11 attacks. The stock sale cashed in on increased congressional support for hefty defense spending, including one of United Defense's cornerstone weapon programs. Now is the time for our elected officials to be held accountable. Now is the time for the media to be held accountable. Why aren't the hard questions being asked? We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on September 11. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, delivered one such warning. Those engaged in unusual stock trades immediately before September 11 knew enough to make millions of dollars from United and American airlines, certain insurance and brokerage firms' stocks. What did this Administration know, and when did it know it about the events of September 11? Who else knew and why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered?
Now, what was that "false statement" that Palast found in the New York Times?
“Ms. McKinney suggest[ed] that President Bush might have known about the September 11 attacks but did nothing so his supporters could make money in a war.”
This is, in fact, exactly what she said. What conclusions can we draw? 1.) Greg Palast, who is not a lazy reporter, did a shallow investigation of this story. 2.) He probably realized that, if he investigated it properly, his thesis would crumble. Cynthia McKinney's "politically suicidal" statement existed. 3.) When he told the LA Times that he's "not following the left line. I'm following the information line," Greg Palast was full of shit. |W|P|105934670824793403|W|P||W|P|7/27/2003 04:06:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|What's popular Vh-1, the erstwhile music channel that recently coverted into a clearinghouse for shows about hair and P. Diddy, collaborated with People magazine to write a list of "the 200 greatest pop culture icons." Pro: It was hosted by Kristen Davis. Con: It's nonsense. The list is here. Ten problems. - 199) QUEEN LATIFAH Who references Queen Latifah on a regular basis? Who parodies her? I'm not sure what definition of icon you could use to justify her inclusion in this. - 190) RUSSELL CROWE Well, ditto. - 181) REESE WITHERSPOON Was Goldie Hawn busy? - 159) RICKY MARTIN Was Julio Eglesias busy? - 155) CHRISTIE BRINKLEY Why her? Why not any other model? - 129) DOROTHY HAMILL Has anyone written a song about her? No. But I do remember a ditty named "What would Brian Boitano do?" - 119) BEN AFFLECK People take him seriously? - 74) SUSAN LUCCI Maybe to people who collect those special issues of TV Guide. - 20) BRITNEY SPEARS Flash in the pan. Future generations will watch the third Austin Powers movie and ask, "who's that girl with the flat face?" - 15) JENNIFER LOPEZ She wore a dress. That's her claim to fame. She wore a dress. Jesus Christ. Look, since they included Sigmund Freud on this list, the Vh-1 mullahs must be willing to accept historical figures as icons. And they just plain glossed over some people. I'll suggest ten. 1. Jesus Christ Still relevant, still worshiped, and still being blasphemed. He's a character on South Park AND he's been played by Willem Dafoe. It's silly not to include him. 2. Adolf Hitler One of the most famous men in history, responsible for an endless number of idiotic teenage cults. How much of heavy metal would exist without him? 3. Alice Cooper There is no "shock rock" without him. And people love that shock rock. 4. Mike Tyson The most notorious athlete of the last 20 years. Endlessly parodied. 5. Richard Nixon One of the most referenced and lambasted Americans ever. 6. Yogi Berra Is anyone more quoted? 7. Sidney Poitier They call him Mister Tibbs! Come on, people! 8. The Sex and the City girls Even if you hate to admit it, they defined an era. 9. Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli The template for all dumb teenagers that followed. Sean William Scott, Ashton Kutcher - bow down. As for number ten ... well, do you even need to ask? |W|P|105933637467864993|W|P||W|P|7/27/2003 02:24:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Good news from the multiplex! The number one movie of the weekend is likely to be "Spy Kids 3-D." "Tomb Raider 2" is coming up far short of the totals for its predecessor - while "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" made $47 million its first weekend, the sequel is unlikely to break $30 million. "Bad Boys II," a true piece of garbage, is being beaten by the one week-older "Pirates of the Caribbean." There is a god, movie producers. And he's tired of your crap.|W|P|105928708223972187|W|P||W|P|7/26/2003 02:55:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Good news! Jennifer Coolidge is in American Wedding! For all the rumors that cast members were deserting the franchise, it's nice that the funniest cast members - Coolidge, Eugene Levy, and Sean William Scott - are back in force. And who are we missing, anyway? Chris Klein? Mena Suvari? Shannon Elizabeth? Tara Reid? Have you looked at Tara Reid? She's nothing special. The new eye candy more than makes up for this. I'm slightly despondent about the loss of Chris "The Shermanator" Owen, but hey! We have Fred Willard now! Fingers duly crossed. I hope this movie's decent.|W|P|105920254756181752|W|P||W|P|7/26/2003 02:33:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|History is fun, pt. II Oh, blogosphere, you minx! My fellow faux pundits have apparently been embroiled in a controversy over John Hawkins's list of "the 20 greatest figures in American history." It was sexist, apparently. There weren't enough votes for that woman who founded Ms. magazine. What's really important is that it was a list. Damn, I love making lists. Let me try this on. **Dave Weigel's 20 Greatest Figures in American History** I assume we're basing this on the fuzzy, Time magazine version of "greatness." These folks need to have contributed positively to the American experiment. And they need to have done so in a big way. So my love for Barry Goldwater is tempered, because his fantastic political philosophy didn't make it into the law until he was dying. And I reckon we start at 1776. I ignore the Howard Zinn version of events because it's bullshit, and I'm not using the internet in a free country because of the Shawnee tribe. I'm doing it because of these guys. So, let's go. 20. Susan B. Anthony 19. Milton Friedman 18. Mark Twain 17. Martin Luther King, Jr 16. Daniel Webster 15. Franklin Delano Roosevelt 14. Theodore Roosevelt 13. Henry Clay 12. Thurgood Marshall 11. Andrew Carnegie 10. Harriet Beecher Stowe 09. Alexander Hamilton 08. Earl Warren 07. Ronald Reagan 06. Dwight D. Eisenhower 05. Henry Ford 04. Andrew Jackson 03. Thomas Jefferson 02. J.D. Rockefeller 01. Abraham Lincoln|W|P|105920121896225310|W|P||W|P|7/25/2003 11:36:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|History is fun Delving into Lexis-Nexis today, I found a report from the Wednesday, Nov. 5 Washington Post entitled "Toasts and Tears; The Democrats." It concluded with this:
When the Carters left the hotel a little later, people outside the ballroom stood behind ropes to get a glimpse. There was some applause, a few cheers and Carter smiled. "Real class," somebody said. A little after 10 p.m. one dismayed Democrat said of Reagan's victory: "He finally won the Academy Award tonight." Said another: "You know though, who the real winner is, don't you?" Then answering her own question, she added: "Ted Kennedy."
Heartwarming.|W|P|105919058983386930|W|P||W|P|7/25/2003 03:19:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Deadline Back later today.|W|P|105916075905292840|W|P||W|P|7/24/2003 01:50:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|It's Dowding time! Republicans are grousing about a DNC ad that uses Bush's "16 words" from the State of the Union to ask for an investigation. Their complaint is that it uses 10 of the words, omitting Bush's reference: "The British government has learned that ..." Terry McAulliffe has a defense.
The issue is George Bush's words -- it's not like we used an actor and put words -- these are George Bush's actual words in the State of the Union.
That's a good point. As a matter of fact, just weeks ago Howard Dean said this:
We must rejoin ... repressive communist regimes.
Later, with a crowd cheering his every word, he said this:
Every American President must and will take up arms ... against ... government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Those are Howard Dean's words. It's not like I used an actor. And if selective quoting is good enough for Terry McAullife, it would be Orwellian to do any less! UPDATE: John Tabin finds this startling piece of evidence:
Hey, in that Goodman interview, McAuliffe admits it: "George Bush did ... tell the truth." Case closed!
|W|P|105902580657875846|W|P||W|P|7/23/2003 06:26:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Fuck technology The mouse I used at this computer has one of those handy back buttons on its left side. If my thumb slips and taps it, I move back one page on my browser. So my work of 15 minutes is gone. Just read this story and this chart.|W|P|105899918128566178|W|P||W|P|7/23/2003 05:57:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Sellouts, all of them! Glenn McDonald has dual reviews of the new records by Jewel and Liz Phair. I've bought both, and prefer the Phair record if only for the kickassity of its opening 3-song blitz. Glenn differs:
Avril sings Avril songs with enthusiasm, albeit sketchy technique. Liz sings Avril songs like a hapless karaoke performance narrowly salvaged by studio trickery. Liz's vocal style is limp and her voice is thin, which were disarming traits when she was singing ragged songs about ambivalence and candor, and contrasts when she was singing dizzy songs about headaches and strange uncles. But as a rock vixen she might as well be Aimee Mann trying to play Lita Ford. Avril would do these songs better. Lauren Christy would do these songs better herself. Kay Hanley would do them better, Colleen Fitzpatrick would do them better, Shirley Manson would do them better. Hell, Jewel would do these songs better.
Go, read, make merry!|W|P|105899747621814350|W|P||W|P|7/22/2003 04:21:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|That's our Joe! Blogger Ezra Klein has a sensible post about the possible Joe Biden presidential campaign.
Dean is beating up on Kerry in NH. His momentum isn't slowing down, it's increasing, and Kerry's is not. Kerry is going to go all out to win NH, relying on Dean's liberal persona, Dean's dovish credentials, and Kerry's national security credentials/resume to win. If Biden enters the race, Kerry is no longer the only Democrat with name recognition, national security credentials, and a beltway pedigree in the race. Add in the immediate storm of press a Biden entry will generate, and you see that the exact same people supporting Kerry are going to support Biden. The actual breakdown is immaterial, whether Biden leaches 5%, 20%, or 80% from Kerry, that is a percentage Kerry can't afford to lose. It's too close of a race with Dean, and for Kerry to lose support will hand Dean New Hampshire and kill Kerry.
I'm interested in this because Joe is my senator, and I think he has it in him to make a run. I'm also intrigued by the slapsticky self-destruction of the moderate Dem candidates. Have you noticed that Dean is winning a few more polls? Check out the numbers in the recent CA survey: Dean - 16% Kerry - 15% Lieberman - 14% Gephardt - 7% Edwards - 4% Graham - 3% Kucinich - 3% Sharpton - 3% Moseley-Braun - 2% Undecided - 33% Kerry, Lieberman, Gephardt, Edwards and Graham are splitting 43% of the vote as it is. There are too many damn moderate establishment candidates, and they'll going to cannibalize each other until at least three of them drop out.|W|P|105890529969117873|W|P||W|P|7/22/2003 09:30:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|One murder-suicide pact, please For some reason, the song that keeps benefitting from my WinAmp shuffling as I work is the Bee Gees' comeback single "You Win Again." Come on! Kill me! Do it now! UPDATE: There are now 5 songs in constant rotation. The other four are: The Commodores - "Easy" The Commodores - "Night Shift" Cheap Trick - "If You Want My Love" and, yes, Lipps Inc - "Funkytown" I am 21 years old. What's my major malfunction?|W|P|105888064060527795|W|P||W|P|7/22/2003 08:15:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Sharpton vs. Jackson To soothe my own nagging doubts, I ran some comparisons between black support of Jesse Jackson in the 1984 presidential campaign and support of Al Sharpton in this campaign. It's abundantly clear that Sharpton is running to raise his national profile and "oust" Jackson as the go-to "civil rights leader." In August 1983, Jackson was 41 years old and had never held office. Gallup asked 649 black adults who they supported. Jesse Jackson - 35% Walter Mondale - 29% John Glenn - 9% Reubin Askew - 2% Alan Cranston - 2% Gary Hart - * Ernest Hollings - 2% * Don't know - 21% Of course, that was a very different field. A poll asked of all voters (black, white, etc), found these favorables. Don't know him - 13% Very favorable - 8% Somewhat favorable - 26% Somewhat unfavorable - 19% Very unfavorable - 20% No opinion - 14% So 34% of voters liked Jesse, and 39% didn't. Now, this year Al Sharpton is 48 and has never held office. The last poll that questioned voters by race, the Feb. CNN-Time poll, found this breakdown: Sharpton - 20% Gephardt - 9% Lieberman - 9% Moseley Braun - 6% Edwards - 5% Kerry - 4% Graham - 4% Dean - 3% Kucinich - 1% other/undecided - 39% For all voters, these favorables: Favorable - 27% Unfavorable - 30% Not familiar - 40% Not sure - 3% I'm surprised - these numbers are pretty comparable. But the black support is, as I expected, very wan. At this point in the race in 1983, blacks supported Jackson 35% and assorted other candidates 44%. Sharpton's figures are 20% and 41%. That's a huge gap. It's doubtful any political reporters, who (understandably) find Rev. Al's antics cute, will include this in their analyses.|W|P|105887612526447203|W|P||W|P|7/21/2003 02:17:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Insert pirate pun here Gee, "Pirates of the Caribbean" is really owning the box office. It's the first blockbuster since "X-2" (and "Finding Nemo," if you define "blockbuster" loosely) to generate some decent word of mouth. Look at the effects! In two weeks, "Pirates" has outgrossed the much-more-hyped "The Hulk" (by $4 million), "Terminator 3" (by $5 million) and "Charlie's Angels" (by $38 million). Most impressively, its week-to-week falloff was only 28.7% - the best weekend turnover of the summer. "The Hulk," you'll recall, had a record-breaking falloff of 69.7%. Is this good news? I don't know. Disney owns the two biggest movies of summer 2003, and one of them was based on a ride at its theme park. Two comic-based movies with lots of potential, "The Hulk" and (eughhh) "LXG," were manhandled by producers and have pretty much failed miserably, which bodes porely for four-color sagas (except for the X-Men series!). It more or less guarantees us a sequel, which is always bad news (except for the X-Men series!). But it does make Gore Verbinski a two-time blockbuster director, and that's terrific news. One hack (Michael Bay) falls, and a talented director rises. Also, for all of its hype, T3 is unlikely to make up its $200 million production cost. Hey, media: This is your cue to stop forcing Arnold down our windpipes.|W|P|105881143567237142|W|P||W|P|7/20/2003 11:21:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Mmmm ... bile For some reason, Jerry Springer has made Jonah Goldberg his chief opponent in his U.S. Senate race. Keith Olbermann, host of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," grilled the TV personality on that in an interview.
OLBERMANN: Jonah Goldberg of “National Review” aid on CNN that you would bring “slack-jawed yokels, hicks, weirdos, pervs and whatnots.” And apart from considering the source there, at what point did we stop letting yokels, hicks, weirdos, pervs and whatnots vote? We let Jonah Goldberg vote. SPRINGER: Well, you make a good point.
Ha ha ha! Whew! Naturally, Jonah used this as grist for one of his Neverending Columns. I was given to wonder something else: Is Keith Olbermann a jackass, or what? Since I'm not much of a sports fan, I didn't know who Olbermann was until 2002. That's when he got a column for Salon.com. David Horowitz, whose columns I greatly enjoyed (when he stuck to facts), had just been sacked. Who was this guy?
He began writing columns for sports memorabilia magazines at age 12, edited one of them at age 16 and was senior editor of Baseball Magazine at 19.
What a prodigy! Who'da thunk a teenage boy would enjoy baseball? Olbermann went on to suck on a weekly basis. I hated his column. I hated his smug caricature (see right). I hated that it replaced something enjoyable and controversial. I hated that it contained no reporting. I hated, hated that he mused on politics with all the wisdom of a Lego. And I hated his endless carping about ESPN.
After five and a half years there, I left ESPN at the end of June 1997. My decision inspired a lot of head-scratching, everything from graffiti on a wall in a syndicated comic strip, to shouts of "traitor" from a viewer at a World Series game.
Quelle drama! Get me a bucket. The political stuff really got to me. I'd rejected better columns for my college newspaper. This one was a doozy:
For national elections, instead of punishing nonparticipation, we should reward those who show up. With your proof-of-voting seal, you get to cut some small figure -- $25? -- off your federal income tax. Like a free meal, nothing tastes better than a bottom-line, cash-back offer. Hell, we live in a society in which a New York bank is offering depositors who open an account in five figures or more a cash payment of 75 bucks -- and those who take them up on it are reportedly looking at the $75 as if it was the first allowance money they ever got from Mom and Dad.
Salon editors eventually got around to reading this stuff and canned Olbermann after less than 6 months of columns. Thus, I take his denunciations of Jonah Goldberg with several grains of salt. |W|P|105875767957715710|W|P||W|P|7/20/2003 10:50:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Random thought Would it hurt for the makers of "Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life" to release a few more clips of their ... movie? I don't know how many more times I can see that guy go "aaaaagh!" when Angelina Jolie v/os "It's a weapon more powerful than you can ever imagine!"|W|P|105875583449024232|W|P||W|P|7/19/2003 05:25:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Book review IV: Lords of Chaos by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind There may be a more entertaining explanation of Carl Jung's "collective consciousness" theory, but for now, I'm gonna say that Black Metal gets the blue ribbon. The hilariously extreme branch of heavy metal took root in Norway in the mid-80s with bands like Mayhem. Here's a lyric from their classic "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas":
Welcome ! To the elder ruins again The wind whispers beside the deep forest Darkness will show us the way "Heic noenum pax" Here is no peace
If the scene consisted of nothing but working class Norwegians putting on corpsepaint and singing about Tolkein, it would have been treated like hip-hop is in America. For a while, it was. Then the church burnings began. Then one black metal star, wandering around a park, killed a gay man for no apparent reason. Then Kristian Vikernes, also known as Varg, also known as "Count Grishnack," killed Mayhem star Euronymous, a year after singer Dead had killed himself with a bullet to the head. Vikernes was sentenced to 21 years in prison - the maximum sentence in Norway - and began crafting a racist, neo-nazi manifesto inspired by his hero Vidkun Quisling. Moynihan and Soderlind are clearly fascinated by their subjects. "Lords of Chaos" is packed with interviews and pictures of the semi-intelligent, homocidal scenesters. The loving coverage culminates in their theory that young Scandanavians are connecting to something primal when they engage in these crusades against the welfare state and Christianity. This is a weird read, and deservering of some skepticism. But it's well told and, in parts, very disturbing.|W|P|105864990465311144|W|P||W|P|7/19/2003 03:17:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Stand up for LaRouche! Back when I moved into my dorm, when election 2000 was heating up, a van emblazoned with "DEMOCRATS 2000" started ambling up and down Sheridan Rd. They had megaphones - they called students "stupid idiots!" for not backing Lyndon LaRouche. After the election, they did this some more. So I have no love for Lyndon LaRouche or his crackpot movement. I hate to make Calpundit-esque "what the hell?" posts, but here's my gripe - every media resource refers to the "nine Democratic presidential candidates." Even my personal opiate C-Span does that. Why do they include Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley-Braun and not Lyndon LaRouche? What makes them more legitimate candidates for the nomination? For that matter, why is Al Sharpton allowed to appear onstage with the real candidates, but not Lyndon? According to FEC records, LaRouche has raised 10 times as much money as Sharpton and 8 times as much as Moseley-Braun. If he pooled all of his resources, Sharpton could afford a 10-second ad during "Friends." LaRouche could afford 98 seconds. How 'bout it? If Democrats are willing to stroke that race-baiting simpleton's ego, why can't they boost ol' Triple Curve?|W|P|105859906542620244|W|P||W|P|7/17/2003 05:16:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Farewell to a mister Blogger Mean Mr. Mustard is hanging up his ... moveable type ... and I'm duly removing him from my family of links. This is a loss for all of us. In a right-wing blogosphere where ponderous, dull, and mildly retarded personalities get all the attention, Russell Wardlow kissed us and made it feel better. On cartoonist Tom Meyer:
At least he isn't Ted Rall. At the very least, it can be said for him that he actually has some actual skill at visual art, unlike the Rallinator, who can absolutely kill any kind of powerful image and rob it of any emotional or intellectual impact by rendering it into that gradeschooler template of visual expression, where every single figure and object is a carbon copy of the previous one, while the original happened to horribly suck as well.
When he designed a poster for the "Four Horsemen of the Ablogalypse" to shame blogger Max Sawicky:
Bill Quick has initiated a contest for Horsemen graphics. So far I'm the only entry. If it remains like that, I think I may have a good shot at winning.
But Russell really kicked ass when he related his life as a conservative in a Berkeley co-op. Troll through his archives. His tales of mandatory protests, driving housemates to tears, and being accosted by hippies on the train are priceless.
Today, there were signs posted all over the house by the president saying that council was postponed until Monday, because of the anti-war protest going on in San Francisco that day, for which, the sign noted, "attendance is mandatory!" The "mandatory" bit is, of course, not totally serious. But nor is it completely faceitous. As Den Beste might say, it's a perfect 'Ha Ha, Only Serious' remark, since our house president is a good stereotypical example of a Berkeley ideologue, and really does want to cajole people into going. I'm not really that bothered by this aside from the fact that it's incredibly obnoxious and irritating in a "those stupid hippies" sort of way. I actually happened to randomly run into him at the last rally, while I was perched on top of a pole by the subway station to take pictures. When he saw me, he remarked how "intense" the whole experience was. I just smiled and nodded, not mentioning that I was attending as a hostile witness, only there to record for posterity what a shameful and pathetic event it was.
Man, that was a good blog. Godspeed, little doodle.|W|P|105847658201371566|W|P||W|P|7/16/2003 03:29:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|"Weapons of mass destruction" Is Dennis Kucinich flacking for the Burmese dictators? Exhibit A:
Burma's military government has criticised United States moves to impose economic sanctions, describing them as "weapons of mass destruction".
Exhibit B:
This was not about whether they had weapons of mass destruction. Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction, homelessness is a weapon of mass destruction.
Great minds, etc.|W|P|105838374156976723|W|P||W|P|7/16/2003 03:22:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Book/Movie Review III: The Time Machine (1898/2002) Five minutes after I read the original "The War of the Worlds," I burned with the desire to adapt it into a movie. Yes, there have been movies based on H.G. Wells's story. Most of them sucked. None of them conveyed the incredible horror of Martians invading Victorian England, with its citizens ignorant and unable to fight back. That's a shame, because alongside "Things to Come," "The War of the Worlds" is Wells's best story, more terrifying for being set in an era that hadn't fought a world war or discovered nuclear weapons. "The Time Machine" was never one of the best Wells novels. It's overwritten - the Time Traveler himself narrarates his adventure like Zap Brannigan without the irony. The central plot of a future wherein pacifistic Eloi live in terror of savage Morlocks is memorable because of all the metaphors it invites, but it doesn't unfold in a terribly interesting way. So Simon Wells's movie has a pretty low hurdle to overcome. I'm happy to report that it jumps this hurdle. His "Time Machine" starts with a rush, as Columbia University Prof. Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce) proposes to his girlfriend Emma (Sienna Guillory) moments before she's murdered by a mugger. He goes slightly nuts, and spends weeks building his ornate machine as a way to stop her killing before it happens. There's more plot than we get in the novel, right there. When he finds himself unable to change history, he travels into the future and has his fate explained by a holographic library computer (a suprisingly not irritating Orlando Jones). His next trip sends him to the fateful year when humankind accidentally blows up the moon - the trauma knocks him onto his lever, and he ends up in the year 802,701. And that's when the suckfest begins. The last two acts of "The Time Machine" are silly and full of holes. It's pretty obvious at the get-go that Alex will kill someone by trapping him between the doors of the machine, and he does. Stan Winston's beautiful, pricy creature work is wasted on a dull and annoying conclusion far, far removed from Wells's original ending. There's a great time travel story to be told. Just don't expect it from the greatest sci-fi author.|W|P|105838334630774139|W|P||W|P|7/15/2003 04:19:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Heard on C-Span The TV is behind me while I work, and I've heard two Democratic senators - Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd - refer to the situation in Iraq as "a shooting gallery." Party line or great minds thinking alike? Whatever the case, I expect to hear that buzzphrase a few more times this week.|W|P|105830038485246690|W|P||W|P|7/15/2003 02:40:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Davis gets desperate The CA Democrats are trying their hands at the "army of hired signature-gatherers!" spin that I waved off a few days ago. Now they're suing recall organizers:
Lawyers working with Taxpayers Against the Governor's Recall, a largely union-financed group supporting Mr. Davis, said they had evidence that many of the petition circulators were not residents of California or registered to vote here, apparently a violation of state law. They said they had also obtained signed statements from two circulators who said they were convicted felons and thus not eligible to vote here.
Sigh. This is one of the things that drives me nuts about politics - this is legal, and the Davis people know it. The use of out-of-state petitioners was validated four years ago in Buckley v. American Constitutional Law Foundation.
The requirement that circulators be not merely voter eligible, but registered voters, it is scarcely debatable given the uncontested numbers, see supra, at 8—9, and n. 15, decreases the pool of potential circulators as certainly as that pool is decreased by the prohibition of payment to circulators.16 Both provisions “limi[t] the number of voices who will convey [the initiative proponents’] message” and, consequently, cut down “the size of the audience [proponents] can reach.” Meyer, 486 U.S., at 422, 423; see Bernbeck v. Moore, 126 F.3d 1114, 1116 (CA8 1997) (quoting Meyer); see also Meyer, 486 U.S., at 423 (stating, further, that the challenged restriction reduced the chances that initiative proponents would gather signatures sufficient in number to qualify for the ballot, and thus limited proponents’ “ability to make the matter the focus of statewide discussion”). In this case, as in Meyer, the requirement “imposes a burden on political expression that the State has failed to justify.” Id., at 428.
The recall hasn't even happened and Davis's team is lying about the law. Just bounce this jerk.|W|P|105829440884041463|W|P||W|P|7/14/2003 10:58:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|The nice thing about working ... ... is that I didn't have time to listen to the loyal punditry and wannabee punditry (hey, bloggers!) harp on the 16-word scandal today. Phew. I'll be busy for some time, but I leave you with this: Did you hear that Hilary Duff single earlier this year? She actually sings "Why not do a crazy dance?" What the hell is that?|W|P|105823792475378656|W|P||W|P|7/13/2003 04:10:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|An excuse to talk about Alyson Hannigan Alyson Hannigan is interviewed at length by my old favorite newspaper, The Times (UK). It's a great chat, with one bit I didn't understand. Well, two bits ... but first thing's first.
An unexpected twist [on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"] was Willow suddenly becoming a lesbian — an old stand-by that has been used to spice up many a series of late. “At one point, I was thinking that Willow was really treading water and nothing seemed to be happening for her,” she says. “Then we are into a whole new scene and it became exciting ...”
Is turning a character into a lesbian seriously an "old standby?" I can think of it happening, briefly, on "Sex and the City," and happening under different circumstances on "Ellen." Not quite a trend, unless I'm missing something. Also, Joss Whedon says on the Season Four Buffy DVDs that love interest Tara (Amber Benson) was introduced as "a new Willow." Hannigan's character had gotten incredibly confident, grown immeasurably from the nerd whose mom bought all her clothes in season one. Back me up on this, Virginia. My other "huh?" comes from Hannigan's tale of her engagement to actor Alexis Denisof. (She'd rejected a previous boyfriend's engagement.)
He told her he was going to the car to fetch another jacket, as he was cold, but returned with a made-to-measure diamond engagement ring. “My brain shut off in shock,” she says. “I said: ‘Oh, no.’” He looked amazed as I recovered and said: ‘It’s a yes.’”
In some ways, of course, I'm jealous of Denisof. But, damn. I'd hate to propose to this chick. Photo courtesy AHAS.|W|P|105812702792196553|W|P||W|P|7/13/2003 03:40:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|He liked them better when they were dying ... This is obviously the best editorial of all time. BBC reporter Jonathan Head, deployed in Vietnam, uses his latest story to get out his disappointment with the country's lapsed communism. He begins at Ho Chi Minh's memorial.
I'm standing in line, waiting to pay my respects to a man I once hugely admired. And it all feels horribly wrong.
I guess what FAIR et al say about the American media is true - over here, reporters might not feel as free to praise communist revolutionaries in their reportage.
Two teenage girls in front of me start giggling, and are hissed at by a guard. Then they turn round and see me, the only foreigner, struggling to make sense of the indignity that Ho Chi Minh's successors have inflicted on him - and they collapse in hysterics. Muffled laughter ripples along the line. The guard shoots me an accusing glare and hurries us along outside. Communist decorum is restored.
It seems like Head is tsk-tsking the Vietnamese communists for failing Ho's dream. That's how it seems ...
Everywhere I went in Vietnam I was struck by the Quixotic efforts of the party to keep its moribund ideology alive and its increasing irrelevance to the ordinary people of Vietnam, whose minds are now focused exclusively on getting richer.
There we go. That's what breaks Head's heart. These people aren't happy trying to build a socialist paradise. They're materialistic!
New businesses are springing up all over the place. And the driving force of this economic revolution isn't the party loyalists who won the long struggle against the French and the Americans, but those Vietnamese who fled from the hardships of war and communist rule - and who have now come back armed with the business-savvy they learned in the West.
So they're Western agents, eh?
... Nguyen Ngoc My, who fled in a leaky boat with his family in 1978 after spending 10 months in a re-education camp. A trained engineer, he settled in Australia and had to work for years shovelling coke in a steel mill before starting his own business. He's now building the interiors of some of Vietnam's largest office and hotel complexes. Then there's Nguyen Dang Tien, who worked for 14 years for the Pentagon in Washington - and now runs one of Vietnam's most successful software companies.
Is it me, or does Head seem more disgusted with one of his subjects working for the Pentagon than he does with another subject spending 10 months in a re-education camp?
Officially the government welcomes them for their contribution to the national economy. But it still runs a Committee for Overseas Vietnamese to check on their activities - "because they don't always know how to behave appropriately", as one official put it to me.
Wow, almost as bad as John Ashcroft!
Before I left, I went to see one of the veterans of the war to hear what he thought of his country's transformation from socialist backwater to a budding Tiger economy ... What about all his countrymen pursuing material riches - is this what he and his comrades fought for all those years? It certainly isn't communism.
They also fought to be independent of the French empire, so they can't be too disappointed. Still, I've got some serious cognitive dissonance to work through while reading Head's logic. Why is it so bad that Vietnamese are "pursuing material riches"? He uses it like a slur. Why? Because he can't find any living, breathing Vietnamese who don't like to be successful?
Sooner or later, Saigon will start to resemble Bangkok or Singapore. Its people will pour into shopping malls, unable to afford most of the products on display but happy enough to dream that one day they might.
What was the alternative? According to Jacqueline Desbarats' article "Repression in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Executions and Population Relocation," 65,000 political prisoners were killed by their government in the eight years after the fall of Saigon. And she discarded two-thirds of the reports, based on lack of eyewitnesses. It's very possible more than 150,000 people were killed for their politics. In 1978, the government released one million Vietnamese from re-education camps. The country was starving, embargoed by the United States and depending on aid from Soviet Union. And what does Head gripe about?
It is impossible not to be in awe of the sacrifices made by men like Colonel Duong - but if Vietnam ends up like its neighbours, he may be tempted to ask himself just what it was he was fighting for.
It must break this BBC reporter's heart that so many cute little yellow people are no longer making sacrifices for him to "admire." Please, Vietnam - get back to starving. You're making Jonathan Head cry.|W|P|105812521906563285|W|P||W|P|7/12/2003 11:37:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Well-a, well-a, well-a, uh! Spent a beautiful summer day in Langhorne, PA. Am now in possession of The Oingo Boingo Anthology. Pleased.|W|P|105806746153939252|W|P||W|P|7/11/2003 01:17:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|You're the man now, dog! The 6-part comic book version of "The League of Extraordinary Gentleman," was, I promise you, very good indeed. It was one of the comics I would pass off to friends whenever I had to defend my fandom (I still read around 5 comics each month, while most of my friends have ditched the hobby). Other people on the net have reviewed - one guy has annotated it at frightening length. The upcoming film adaptation, of course, looks like unadulterated shit. The LA Times, of all the crazy newspapers, gets it right. Manohla Dargis's review explains the qualms of people who've read the excellent source material:
... the movies don't always do right by comics, and, to judge by "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," the latest comic to hit the big screen, it's clear that the problem isn't with the source material: Comic books aren't giving movies a bad name — it's the reverse. What should emerge from an adapted screenplay is a sense of the original's flavor and vibe — some feeling for its essence. Norrington's film shares the comic's title and trappings but bears little relationship to the flavor and vibe of Moore fantasia. The problem isn't the changes per se — Quatermain's no longer hooked on opium and former league leader Mina has been demoted to second fiddle — plenty of good adaptations take liberties. It's that the filmmakers have traded Moore's playful intelligence and rakish wit for special effects and big bangs. These guys have dumbed down a comic book.
For the price of two movie tickets (or 1.5 tickets, if you're in New York), you can buy a paperback copy of Alan Moore's book. Do that. |W|P|105790066718742361|W|P||W|P|7/10/2003 09:05:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Such a lovely place, such a lovely face Still enmeshed in research and writing, but I must promote Rough and Tumble to anyone who doesn't already visit. It's the go-to site for news on the California recall. And I have a question for the people bad-mouthing the recall. Explain to me: How is an election undemocratic?|W|P|105788554742481278|W|P||W|P|7/09/2003 02:00:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|B.S. watch On The Daily Show this evening, I noticed Jon Stewart referring to the "paid signature-gatherers" in California with a lilt in his voice, as if hiring folks to work on an initiative was evidence of some shady plan. If you hear this sort of spin again, laugh it off. It is all but impossible to run a statewide signature-gathering campaign without paid consultants and street teams. I wrote about this at length in Campaigns and Elections last year - until I can find the article online, take my word for it or look up a history of ballot initiatives in CA.|W|P|105773044695662631|W|P||W|P|7/08/2003 01:45:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|The DW-i drinking game! This blog is a storage house for my id. I make a living writing articles - I don't sell pieces about the stuff that's in the news, or my personal CDs and movies of the week. That stuff ends up here, and while I dress it up as pretty as I can (for a page located on blogspot), it reflects my feverish obsessions of the moment. The same subjects make cameos again and again. Let's work with that! Take 1 sip when I criticize another blog. Take 1 sip when I criticize Eric Alterman. Take 1 sip when I take issue with someone's grammar. Take 1 sip when I mention a Pacifica radio show that none of my readers have listened to. Take 1 sip when I steal a jpg from another website. Take 1 sip when I mock Howard Dean. Take 1 sip when I come out against a famous conservative. Take 2 sips when I mention Al Sharpton. Take 2 sips when I link to or quote John Tabin. Take 2 sips when I use the same word twice in one graf. Take 2 sips when I use journalism jargon like "graf" or "lede." Take 2 sips when I mention Northwestern negatively Take 3 sips when I mention Northwestern positively. Take 3 sips when I link to a Buffy cast member. Chug when I actually talk about major events in my life. Chug if a week goes by and I fail to mention how much I hate a certain blogger.|W|P|105764310237399294|W|P||W|P|7/08/2003 01:05:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|He could at least pretend to research this stuff ... Eric Alterman is trying to punch above his weight again. Here's today's drivel:
In her review of Ann Coulter today, Dorothy Rabinowitz (or her headline writer) calls Coulter “the Maureen Dowd of the conservatives.” This is, to coin a phrase, slander. Well actually, it’s closer to libel, being on paper. Since most of what Dowd writes is factually accurate and almost nothing Coulter writes is, it’s also deeply silly. But the transparent part is the implication that Dowd is a liberal. Once again, as we pointed out to Howie Kurtz on Friday, she ain’t. She was just as nasty to Clinton and Gore as she is to Bush, and she loved his daddy. God forbid a Journal edit writer ever encounter a genuine liberal. It might give her/him a heart attack.
Alterman knows better. In his first book, he mentioned Robert Bartley's 1980 hiring of Alexander Cockburn as a WSJ columnist. Unless Alterman's famous friends have tipped him off to someone we don't know, Bartley's heart did not stop as a result. But it's the thing about Kurtz that should make you blink. Alterman "pointed out" that Maureen Dowd isn't a liberal? That sounds pretty definitive. What did he say?
... even if you could argue that Dowd, an equal-opportunity tormentor with no discernable political allegiances, is a “liberal” — and thereby ignore eight years of her Clinton columns along with her affection for George H.W. Bush and his Republican establishment cronies - how does she alone qualify as “liberals” and “the left”?
As I pointed out, Alterman mistated Dowd's tenure - she was a columnist for only six of the Clinton years. That's a good indication that Eric didn't do a shred of research to back up his claim that "she was just as nasty to Clinton and Gore as she is to Bush." He probably made that assumption based on his memory of Dowd's columns. And he probably remembered the worst of Dowd's offenses against liberalism. How could you check if Dowd was actually more harsh on Clinton than Bush, or if she's a liberal? Start with a column-by-column analysis of her invective, I guess, and continue by asking her connected friends. I don't have time to do this, and I don't have an intern, but I'm admitting that I can't check my assumption. More than I can say about a respected media critic.|W|P|105764070957349202|W|P||W|P|7/07/2003 10:41:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|New Marshall Crenshaw in 15 days! How did I miss this? Formally great (now merely good) singer-songwriter Marshall Crenshaw is putting out another platter of 11 songs on July 22. His last record, #447, was pretty substandard. Apart from 1996's Miracle of Science, Crenshaw has been pretty spotty since the early 1980s. But why am I even musing? I'd walk over lava to get this. If you've never heard him, Crenshaw writes sweet power-pop and sings like a jaded Buddy Holly. Listen to samples at his fan site.|W|P|105763207341884280|W|P||W|P|7/07/2003 09:17:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Savage ou(s)ted Time to dig up that copy of "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)." What a tool.|W|P|105762703029593227|W|P||W|P|7/07/2003 05:42:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|So do I still have to vote now? Kevin Drum links to the new Selectsmart.com presidential poll. He lined up best with Dennis Kucinich. Here are my results: 1. Gary Nolan (Libertarian) - 100% 2. Pres. George W. Bush (Rep.) - 96% 3. U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt (Dem.) - 50% 4. U.S. Sen. John Kerry (Dem.) - 48% 5. U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman (Dem.) - 46% 6. U.S. Senator John Edwards (Dem.) - 31% 7. Howard Dean (Dem.) - 28% 8. U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Dem.) - 26% 9. U.S. Sen. Bob Graham (Dem.) - 22% 10. Al Sharpton (Dem.) - 14% 11. Carol Moseley-Braun (Dem.) - 13% 13. Lyndon LaRouche (Dem.) - -6% Yes, that's negative 6% for LaRouche. I've never been more happy about an internet quiz. |W|P|105761412396136094|W|P||W|P|7/07/2003 05:10:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Movie Review III: Bring it On (2000) What was the first movie to suck ironically? I'm not sure if any critic has taken the time and effort to figure that out. Most of them are satisfied with being amused every few years when the producers of a genre movie, knowing that they don't have what it takes to boldly reinvent the genre, lard up their opus with self-reverential humor. "Scream" (1996) did that, and the accolades percolated for years. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1992,1997) did it twice, and ditto. After "Terminator" (1984) turned into "The Terminator Trilogy," it did the same - each movie made light of the inherent goofiness of the concept. "Bring it On" is incredibly stupid, and it seems like it was meant to be. The composer (Christophe Beck) and three of the stars (Eliza Dushku, Clare Kramer, Nicole Bilderback) had roles on the TV version of "Buffy." The dialogue, by sometime-"Sex and the City" scribe Jessica Bendinger is over-the-top in the way of all of these ironic teen farces. Examples: "Missy's the poo, Whitney. Take a big whiff." Or "Big Red ran the show, man. We were just flying ignorami, for sobbing out loud." Characters talk like hip screenwriters think teenagers should talk. The result is very funny. But the movie only exists because of irony. It would be beyond the talent of most human beings to make a movie about cheerleading that mustered all the drama of "Rocky" (1976) or "Rudy," (1979) or even "Varsity Blues" (1999). Cheerleaders are in high school - they're cute, and they dance. In most movies, they terrorize the unpopular kids who later save the day/triumph over adversity. So "Bring it On" makes the cheerleaders soak in their stereotypes (newly-elected head cheerleader Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst) is not a great student, and plans to go to a mid-tier University of California campus with her airhead boyfriend). The unlikely but talented girl, Missy (Eliza Dusku), is completely jokey about joining the team. Brainy-but-cute Cliff (Jesse Bradford), who wins Torrance's heart (once the airhead cheats on her and "doesn't believe" in her), hates cheerleading, so he pointedly reads "The Naked Ape" during a football game. These are all good choices. "Bring it On" goes through the conflicts, the failures, the training montage and the car wash scene without ever taking itself too seriously. The end credits feature the entire cast dancing along to Tony Basil's "Mickey," which pretty much says it all. But the cast and writer are very smart, and their fake dialogue works. This is a hard movie not to like. And if you're a robust heterosexual male or lesbian, it's impossible not to like.|W|P|105761222099476120|W|P||W|P|7/07/2003 02:36:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Coulter alone Ann Coulter's become a useful tool for people who don't like conservatives. They want to believe we're all idiots, and, lacking an efficient method for doing so, they align us all with that witless harridan. (See this dude, or this one) In reality, the hive mind is split on her. Some conservatives like her, sure. Some like her without admitting it. Many have brains, and are thus prohibitted from taking her crap seriously. That's my position - Andrew Sullivan shares it.
Few would dispute that she's a babe. Lanky, skinny, with long blonde hair tumbling down to her breasts, Ann Coulter has been photographed in a shiny black latex dress.
Hell, we even differ on this. I think Coulter looks starved and repulsive. Give me Amber Benson any day.
Coulter does not seek to complicate her view of liberals with any serious or lengthy treatment of the many Democrats and liberals who were ferociously anti-Communist. Scoop Jackson? Harry Truman? John F Kennedy? Lyndon Vietnam Johnson? She doesn't substantively deal with those Democrats today - from Senator Joe Lieberman to the New Republic magazine - who were anti-Saddam before many Republicans were.
Yeah. Why doesn't she? Manichean political history isn't just flawed - it's bland. Taylor Branch's excellent books on the Civil Rights movement suffer because he doesn't record how it was possible for well-meaning citizens not to immediately fall behind MLK.
But by making huge and sweeping generalizations about all liberals, Coulter undermines her own arguments and comes close to making them meaningless. If you condemn good and bad liberals alike, how can you be trusted to make any moral distinctions of any kind? And by defending the tactics of Joe McCarthy, she actually plays directly into the hands of the left. What she won't concede is that it is possible to be clear-headed about the role that some liberals and Democrats played in supporting the Soviet Union, while reviling the kind of tactics McCarthy used. In fact, when liberals taunt conservatives with being McCarthyites, conservatives now have to concede that some of their allies, namely Coulter, obviously are McCarthyites - and proud of it.
Sadly true. Liberal columnists have tried this with some effect. I've always disagreed, because McCarthy had political power and Ann doesn't. If, say, Ann wrote angry columns about the Dixie Chicks, they wouldn't be kept from recording music. If McCarthy called them to appear before his committee, and they were blacklisted, they would have been. It should be easy to dismiss people who claim that they're being crushed under "neo-Macarthyism" or "Orwellian oppression." Ann makes it harder. Hopefully, American tories won't have to write many more reviews of "Treason." There are better and more interesting books to be reviewed, and better, smarter conservatives to sell the philosophy. UPDATE: Dorothy Rabinowitz is on the case.
You can read all about McCarthy's downfall, and the alleged dupes and traitors responsible for it, in "Treason," a new book by Ann Coulter, the Maureen Dowd of the conservatives.
Ouch. The D-word. UPDATE II: And Jay Caruso weighs in:
[Dave] rightly points out that liberals enjoy taking her outrageous comments and applying their responses to all conservatives, as though she is speaking for them and not herself.
If I wasn't working today, I'd dig up a few more examples. They're usually the same folks who laugh at Andrew Sullivan for claiming that Susan Sontag, Norman Mailer, etc add up to a "fifth column." Note that I say "usually." UPDATE III: Virginia Postrel comes out swinging! She notes that Frank Rich used Coulter as a proxy for ... well ... everyone he doesn't like in a recent column. To clarify: I don't dislike Coulter because she's an easy target. I dislike her because she makes herself an easy target, writing silly generalizations week after week, and mass media says, "Aha! So that's what conservatism is! Name-calling and lies!"|W|P|105755980818562971|W|P||W|P|7/07/2003 02:07:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Justice is done The overhyped, under-everythingelse "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" got its ass(es) kicked in the holiday box office battle. Last week, the movie's $37.5 million gross fell short of the original's $40,128,550 debut - and keep in mind, the original was released on the first weekend in November 2000. "Charlie's Angels" fell 38.7% to $24,606,860 on its second weekend. "CA:FT" fell 62.3%, to $14,200,000. Oh, and the best part? "Charlie's Angels" cost $93 million to make and $28.9 million to market. "CA:FT" cost $120 million to make and $40 million to market. Sony is going to take a bath on this. Hey, remember when Demi Moore made that comeback?|W|P|105755802695895204|W|P||W|P|7/06/2003 03:42:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|He ain't heavy, he's my brother Here's a timely and fascinating story from the New York Times. The jist: black activists, who faced the easy moral choice of opposition to Apartheid in the 1980s, are now split over whether to support corrupt African leaders. This part's a doozy:
On a left-leaning radio station in New York City, WBAI-FM, several people have called to complain. "Whatever black Africans in Zimbabwe decide to do," said a caller who identified herself as Missy from Queens, "I think black Africans here, we should join them."
Whatever they do? It's scary to think that opinion might be shared by more than one idiot caller to Pacifica Radio, but so it is. A few of Swarns' sources are so set against any policy that might benefit Zimbabwe's white oppressers that they're willing to hedge on Mugabe's oppression.
"I'm not on his side with respect to his repression of the opposition," Ronald Walters, a professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland, said of Mr. Mugabe. "But I am on the side of the people who claim there's a justice issue in terms of the land. You can't escape the racial dynamic, and you can't escape the political history."
His solution, it seems, is to excuse repression and murder.|W|P|105752053678524451|W|P||W|P|7/06/2003 04:03:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Buffy turns against me While reviewing the first season of Buffy before I loan it to a friend, I noticed an exchange in the first episode. Willow (drool) is walking through a graveyard with an affable vamp who's just cruised her.
Cut to the sidewalk next to the cemetery. Willow and Thomas are walking. Willow: Sure is dark. Thomas: It's night. Willow: Well, that's a dark time, night. Traditionally. I still can't believe I've never seen you at school. Do you have Mr. Chomsky for history?
Mr. Chomsky? Ugh! Since writers rarely insert celebrity names into their scripts as anything but homages, I briefly shuddered when I realized my Buffy fandom was subsidizing a bunch of Chomsky followers.|W|P|105747861698328722|W|P||W|P|7/04/2003 03:55:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Beyond the headlines! In a few days, the Blogosphere-Right will be all over this claptrap from Norman Mailer. Have fun, guys. I'll start you off: What kind of asshole begins a column with the word "Exeunt"?|W|P|105734850864632283|W|P||W|P|7/04/2003 03:26:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Barone is back! If you're tossing and turning at night, unable to think of a birthday present for me, your problems are solved. Now with 100% less Cynthia McKinney!|W|P|105730360203297082|W|P||W|P|7/04/2003 01:22:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Into the Altermaelstrom, pt. IV Thursday Whoa, no pretenses today! Eric launches right into his favorite subject.
I'm feeling a little guilty. I fear I may have caused Howard Kurtz to lose his mind.
Because Alterman is just that important. His book changed the media landscape, like a meteor with bad puns.
Attentive Altercation readers
Aren't we all?
will remember that when I devoted a few pages to Kurtz's flacking for the likes of Ari Fleischer, Andy Sullivan and Rich Lowry in What Liberal Media?, he reacted angrily, saying only a "liberal ideologue" who understood nothing about the way real men reported would ever dare to question his political leanings.
Is that what he said? Alterman doesn't link to the reaction in question, but here it is.
The other criticism is Eric Alterman's charge that you're almost a GOP partisan. Where do you think that comes from? It comes from liberal ideologues who don't understand or care for a fair and non-political approach to media criticism. I mean I have to laugh when people suggest I'm some sort of closet conservative, because I also get waves of emails accusing me of being a communist pinko working for Pravda on the Potomac. The truth is I make it my business not to lean either way. I've written some nice profiles of very conservative journalists, and I've written some nice profiles of very liberal journalists.
Kurtz clearly doesn't take Alterman's thesis seriously - he might also be dismissing FAIR or the hosts of Democracy Now, but let's play Eric's game and assume the whole world is dishing about him. Where did Alterman get the "real men" subtext from? There's a clue in his interview with blogger Kevin Drum:
You know, I just did this really unbelievably stupid show on MSNBC today and I got in a big fight with them. They had three conservatives on plus me, and they wouldn't shut up about Dan Rather. For some reason they have an almost sexual obsession with Dan Rather.
Like he did with Kurtz, Alterman found a sexual explanation for the foes of Dan Rather. They're "sexually obsessed" with Rather. Kurtz is defending his manhood and impugning Eric's. Damn, this is patronizing. Can Alterman seriously debunk an opponent without calling them neandrethals?
Now, just to prove how a tough guy handles these things, Howie comes back stronger than ever, complaining, "The liberals have found a new pinata," adding, "The left, of course, has had it in for the Rehnquist Court for a couple of decades now." (We note with awe, but not shock, by the way, that Howie appears to be on a "Nino" basis with the "incredibly smart" Justice Scalia. How do we know he's "incredibly smart"? "Everybody knows" it, says Howie, so just shut up, wiseguy.)
Forget the irony of Alterman pooh-poohing using the first names of famous people. Does Alterman seriously think Scalia isn't brilliant? That's the kind of statement that needs evidence, to contradict his biography and his brilliantly written opinions. Maybe he should have read the rest of the paragraph ...
Everyone knows Nino is incredibly smart, providing much of the intellectual firepower for the court's conservative decisions (or sharp-tongued dissents). He was, after all, approved by the Senate on a 98-to-0 vote back in 1986. Scalia has been viewed by liberal critics as a determined ideologue but accorded a kind of grudging respect.
And Alterman implies that Kurtz had no evidence?
There's just one problem with this vitriol-cum-analysis. Howie neglects to quote a single liberal. The only people he uses in the column are Maureen Dowd, David Broder, Ze'ev Chafets, a Buffalo News editorial, and get this, both Ari and Andy. True, he doesn't call either one a liberal. But then again, even if you could argue that Dowd, an equal-opportunity tormentor with no discernable political allegiances, is a "liberal" and thereby ignore eight years of her Clinton columns
Actually, Dowd's column began in 1995. She had six years, not eight, of Clinton columns. So, Eric, you're a media critic? Good luck with that.
along with her affection for George H.W. Bush and his Republican establishment cronies. How does she alone qualify as "liberals" and "the left"?
The Buffalo News endorsed Gore in 2000. Are Dowd's beloved Republicans any relation to "the boy emperor," "Rummy" or "Wolfie"? Alterman is right that Kurtz could have quoted more liberals, but the post only exists because the infidel Kurtz dared to defy the Gospel of Eric. Eric offers a few more links, then closes with this:
All-purpose Altercation: Since I moved to the beach for the summer, I got this new digital HBO package with something called HBO comedy, where, you go to bed to "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and wake up to it. It's made my whole summer, so far, anyway. Try it.
Hm. This reminds me of something ...
Andrewsullivan.com sets a standard for narcissistic egocentricity that makes Henry Kissinger look like St. Francis of Assisi.
Kissinger would be pleased. This blog makes him look like Jesus.|W|P|105729616793890334|W|P||W|P|7/04/2003 12:22:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|The green green ass of home The Daily Northwestern, de facto campus newspaper of my school, runs on a weekly schedule during the summer. Instead of hiring five student columnists, they hire one. Sometimes he's great, like Casey Newton. Sometime's he's surprising, like Bassel Korkor. And sometimes he sucks. Hello, Mike Sherman! If you've seen Animal House, you know Mike. He's Flounder, the pudgy naif who discovers beer and takes it as a sign that he's cool. Sherman, unlike Flounder, has the vaguely liberal social conscience that's so in vogue with NU students. Hence, this column.
Summer is well on the way, and the best holiday of the year is right around the corner. There is nothing I like more than blowing a bunch of stuff up to celebrate our independence from tyranny. The Fourth of July rules!
When your lead commits a grammatical error, you know you're doomed. You can't just be "well on the way." You have to be "well on the way" to a conclusion - i.e. "After twelve beers, I'm well on the way to passing out in my own feces!" The joke, of course, isn't funny. What's ironic about blowing stuff up to celebrate liberation from tyranny? How else would you liberate yourself? Baking the tyrants apple tarts? Fuck no! You BLOW STUFF UP - stuff like ships, cannons, and soldiers.
I'm going to light extra fireworks this year to let those Iraqis know that if they mess with the United States, we're gonna come get them.
So the 4th of July is about cheerleading whatever war we're involved in? I guess it is in the way a flag, to Katha Pollitt, is an endorsement of First World oppression of brown people. Which is to say: It isn't.
You see, those English wankers thought they could push America around. They were forcing leaders upon us that we didn't elect, subverting the legal system to unfairly punish people suspected of anti-government activities and levying taxes that unfairly favored large multinational corporations. No wonder there was a revolution. If that happened in America today, there would be trouble, let me tell you.
Cleverly, Mike has written these tropes so blandly that they take a while to prove wrong. The electoral college is equivilent to universal disenfranchisement. Policies that enriched the British East India Company, which was controlled by the British parliament, are equivilent to ... tax cuts? Is that what he's saying? The middle point doesn't really make any sense, as the colonial legal system didn't need to be subverted to punish American revolutionaries - treason was illegal, and Britain enforced that prohibition.
So the 13 colonies extended their 13 middle fingers
Doesn't personification entail that 13 colonies would have 26 middle fingers?
and the British Empire sent their army over -- which was red, just like the communists. They fought hard, but were no match for our orbital lasers and patriot missiles.
I guess this is satire. Or humor, or something.
With the grace of God, we were finally able to exploit the land and engage in genocide without some tea-drinking Beatle taxing us.
Ah, of course. The genocide. Mike, you see, is smarter than you - while you guzzle hot dogs and coke, he's walking with his head down, thinking about the crimes of America. He's read his Howard Zinn. If only you read Howard Zinn, you'd be ashamed too. Then you'd look for the Howard Zinn books about the Aztec Empire and Spanish colonialism and the Brazilian slave trade, and you'd discover that they don't exist. Because America's bad, and that's what matters. We killed people, and our tradition of Enlightened liberalism and rampantly successful capitalism and innovation is all stained in blood. BLOOOOOOOD!
Which brings us to what the Fourth of July is really about: It's the celebration of when a bunch of white dudes decided they had more of a right to steal land and spread smallpox than a different bunch of white dudes with funny accents.
Yeah, like I said.
If you're feeling really patriotic, you should come down to my Fourth of July bash. In the morning, we'll head to the bookstore to buy copies of Ann Coulter's new book "Treason." The afternoon festivities will begin with a reading of the Declaration of Independence. After that, we'll toss some big hunks of dead animal on a fire while we get totally wasted on cheap American beer and watch an old CNN tape I have of Gulf War bombing footage. After we puke ourselves silly from alcohol and overeating, we'll head to the middle of the street and blow stuff up. The festivities will conclude with a burning of Dixie Chicks CDs and Hillary Clinton's autobiography. God bless America!
How many columns like this are written every year? Fifty? Two hundred? Every adolescent (in body or mind) who reads American history thinks he's outthinking all of us right-wing eejits by being sarcastic. It puts me in mind of the Simpsons episode where Marge develops a gambling problem. At the end, Homer cajoles her:
HOMER: Remember when I got caught stealing all those watches from Sears? Well, that's nothing, because YOU have a gambling problem! And remember when I let that escaped lunatic in the house because he was dressed up like Santa Claus? Well, YOU have a gambling problem!
Mike's column lies squarely within this rich intellectual tradition. His ideological opponents are celebrating stuff he finds repellent. So what if the history of mankind has proceeded in exactly the same way, except usually with more war and genocide? Well, that's nothing, because AMERICA gave smallpox to Indians! So what if he benefits from a progressive Western culture and has the freedom to work, speak, travel whenever and however he wants? Well, AMERICA gave smallpox to Indians! I'm spent. Sherman's column is lame and cliched - it's all there. If you want a lesson in white guilt that occasionally stumbles into entertainment and wit, find the episode of Buffy called "Pangs." If you want more of this crap, read The Nation or attend a teach-in or something. The jokes are better - the complete lack of philosophy and answers is the same.|W|P|105729254021579515|W|P||W|P|7/03/2003 02:54:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Kick my ass* During the great Weigel-Willis Blogwar of 2003, I followed a link to this essay, pungently named "Opinions are like assholes." It's nonsense.
Here's a news flash for those who fancy themselves the Siskel & Eberts of the blogiverse: people create and maintain weblogs not to impress you, but simply to express themselves. It's a place for their thoughts and reflections on important things, mundane comings and goings ... whatever. All the unique stuff that makes them tick. So, you see, there could never be a good justification for you to leave an ass-like comment about their content. Or to run back to your own blog and slam that person or their writing.
As my editor, Nick Gillespie, said in a recent e-mail symposium, this isn't true.
[I first noticed them] sometime in the mid 90s, when blogs were far more likely to be very personal, eccentric sites devoted to weird obsessions or online diaries. I’m trying to remember the ones I used to visit and am drawing a blank, but they were one of the things that made the web so exciting.
Blogs aren't like this anymore.
... they have allowed for the flourishing of new voices and perspectives; they have massively expanded news and information sources. Five years ago, who had heard of Glenn Reynolds or Atrios? Blogs act as supplemental sources--they add but do not detract from existing sources, so it's the more the merrier. even if it means that conventional journalists need to be more careful and more responsive in their work.
It's exceedingly rare that a personal, love poems-and-party recap blog will generate a debate. The blogs that attract trolls are like, well, OliverWillis.com. Willis himself sums it up:
Everybody in America wants to be famous. Some people, like Michael Jackson, take this the wrong way and do the best they can to be infamous. But most of us, with half a brain in our head, will do anything we can for our fifteen seconds of notoriety. Even the most brilliant minds and intelligent leaders grovel at the altar of the bully pulpit, often reducing great thoughts and important policies to the quick-hit of a sound bite. Why? Because it means they can be a part of the media world. My blog works like this for me, it's my own personal tv channel rendered in text that I have complete control of. It's a playground for my gigantic ego, and it amazes me every day that people show up to read it. Sometimes people like to focus their blogs like a laser on a specific issue or topic, but I'm too scatterbrained for that and it's one of the reasons I love blogging. If I were writing for someone else, it would have to be logical and fair. On my blog, I can deride the Bush tax cut one minute, followed quickly by an in-depth analysis of Britney Spears and exactly how many clothes she is(n't) wearing. Unless you have the mental dexterity to flip between C-Span and MTV, you can't do that anywhere else.
Folks who set up political blogs do so that they may enter the national debate. When people publish their work eponymously, especially when accompanied by their CVs or pictures, they're public men, and as ruled in Beauharnais v. Illinois (1952), "public men, are, as it were, public property," and "discussion cannot be denied and the right, as well as the duty, of criticism must not be stifled." But the "Almost Write" author had more to say.
I mean, you wouldn't walk into someone's home and instantly critique their sense of style, would you? Their choice of furniture or artwork? Nahhh. It just woudn't be "cool" to belittle someone simply because they don't share your taste in decorating. And you certainly wouldn't walk into someone's home, talk to them for a couple of minutes, then claim that you "know" them well enough to insult their personal beliefs or ethics. You wouldn't scream obscenities at them. Hardly, because if you did any of those things, you wouldn't be cool or contraversial (sic)or outspoken -- you'd simply be an asshole.
This is schoolyard logic. A homeowner does not typically reserve space in his home for visitors to scrawl comments. Bloggers who contend with trolls do reserve such a space, in the form of comment boxes. If homeowners had a wall marked "rant back!" or "comments" or "gimme some love," visitors would not be "assholes" if they opted to write down some disagreements. Blogs - even the wizard-and-kitten blogs that don't mention politics or controversy - invite criticism. They're not diaries. I'm amazed that this can even be questioned. *this is a reference both to Buffy and Vic Chesnutt. If you can name the sources more directly, e-mail and win a spectacular prize.|W|P|105721525091078655|W|P||W|P|7/02/2003 03:43:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Into the Altermaelstrom, pt. III Eric is still tsk-tsking the White House for failing to heed his sage military advice.
No, it's not a "quagmire" yet, Mr. President. But it almost certainly will be almost any day now. I mean you've got a guerrilla war ... no legitimacy for your foreign occupation save that which comes from a barrel of a gun, and no bloody idea what the hell to do about any of it. And to top it all off, you lied your way into it. (See also: "Afghanistan.") Boy oh boy, did we tell you so.
The "we told you so" trope has been part of the Alterarsenal for months now, hence I include it in the list of personal references. The third item is leftie media buzz:
Occasional Alternate Altercator Mike Tomasky is moving to Washington at the end of the summer to become the new "co-editor/executive editor" of The American Prospect ... We at Altercation are cautiously optimistic, though saddened by the loss of Mr. Tomasky's better seven-eighths, the estimable Ms. Sarah Kerr, from the shores of the greatest city in the world to that benighted backwater. I suppose the Tomasky/Kerrs will enjoy yet another the latest revival of "Les Mis" at the Kennedy Center, riding on "clean subways" to L'Enfant Plaza, and feasting on the world's most densely concentrated cluster of Ethiopian restaurants. Anyway, congrats, bud, but learn the meaning of "bcc."
The moral of the story: Eric knows Michael Tomasky and does not like D.C. Is Tomasky's work any good? Who cares! He's friends with Eric Alterman! (And why pick on Ethiopian restaurants?) But we're not done ...
I wonder if Jonah will be afraid to appear with the new TAP editor as well.
"Jonah" is longtime National Review Online editor Jonah Goldberg. Alterman was once his landlord, as he reminded readers several times this spring.
For the record, I think people are perfectly within their rights in refusing to appear with someone else. I do it all the time.
Well, then.
But in a case like Jonah's, he does not have much upon which to fall back on. Michelangelo Signorile has rather more to boast about than the proud "popularizer" of a silly expression that first appeared on "The Simpsons" which, last I checked, is already pretty popular. (I take a generous view of people defending their mothers, no matter how horrid.) The problem seems to be merely that Signorile would have put up a good fight.
Does anyone know what Alterman is talking about? This is so inside baseball, it's cork. When did he refuse to appear in public with someone? And what exactly does Michelangelo Signorile have to boast about? Isn't he the guy who outed Malcolm Forbes? Yeah, that's boastable.
Anyway, Jonah has the right to chicken out whenever and wherever he wants. But a major DART to NPR-affiliate WBUR for caving in so easily. (This is the same commie NPR station, by the way, that would not let me appear without two conservatives to shield its listeners from the shock of denying the myth of the librulmedia.)
Alright, I'm not sure if this is even English. Is "a major DART" a bad thing? Also, "librulmedia" might be the most irritating shorthand to appear in print since rock critics started calling the Ramones "the bruddahs." Which segues nicely into ...
So, does everybody know about the Drive-By Truckers? They are just about the most fun, interesting band I've heard in as long as I can remember. Smart, sincere, ambitious, and with rock 'n' roll history flowing through their veins. The DBTs are what Skynyrd would have been if they only had a brain. Their new album "Decoration Day" is not as ambitious, but far more consistent than their intermittently brilliant "Southern Rock Opera's on New West records. Strongly recommended.
Not really relevant in any way, but Alterman has made a sort of tradition out of ending his column with musical tips. (Even so, I would argue that the Allman Brothers were "Skynyrd with a brain.") However ...
The same night I caught the DBT's incredible show at the Bowery Ballroom, (and fought with Joe Scarborough), I also saw Suzy Bogus's early show at The Bottom Line. I can go either way on her earlier stuff, but I really like this new chanteuse thing she's got going on Compadre records. It was a loose and fun show, but the album is really something special. Trust me.
Now, what was it that this guy said about Andrew Sullivan? I'll remind you.
Andrewsullivan.com sets a standard for narcissistic egocentricity that makes Henry Kissinger look like St. Francis of Assisi. Readers are informed, for instance, that Andy's toilet recently overflowed; that he had a rollicking dinner chez Hitchens; that he might have seen Tina Brown across a hotel lobby, but he's not sure; and that, in separate, apparently unrelated incidents, he had a nightmare and ate a bad tuna-fish sandwich that upset his tummy, requiring many "stomach evacuations."
Out of curiousity, I dug up the post that chafed Alterman so.
BLECH: As a reminder, I guess, that there's a human being behind this website, I can't dish tonight because I ate a bad tuna sandwich this afternoon and can barely function, let alone think. After a few more stomach evacuations, I should be fine tomorrow, and hope to post new items by the afternoon. So check back in later. Meanwhile, I'm posting my recent piece on Bush as a substitute. I'm sorry, but what can you do (except Pepto-Bismol)?
Andrew Sullivan inserted his ego into his blog as a way of apologising for truncated blogging. When Eric Alterman does it, he's reminding us that he knows famous people and goes to concerts. Today's total: Out of four posts, two are about Eric Alterman.|W|P|105717502762983066|W|P||W|P|7/02/2003 01:41:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|I'm a nazi, you're a nazi, everyone's a nazi-nazi! Silvio Berlusconi, who's been president of the EU for about five minutes, has already started a row by saying a German lawmaker reminded him of a nazi.
During a question-and-answer session following his speech, German socialist lawmaker Martin Schulz referred to Berlusconi's use of an Italian immunity law to sidestep bribery charges in a Milan court. "In Italy, they are making a movie on Nazi concentration camps," Berlusconi snapped back. "I will propose you for the role of capo," or chief. That prompted a rebuke from the president of the European Parliament, Pat Cox, who suspended the session after Berlusconi refused to withdraw his comment, saying it was meant as an "ironic joke."
Silvio says the German's stiff mannerisms inspired the joke, but they're not having it.
In Germany, a close ally of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Olaf Scholz, condemned the remark, saying the Nazi era was not something to be joked about, even in irony. "The countless numbers of people who fell victim to the Nazi dictatorship, including many Social Democrats, forbids all irony," said Scholz, the general secretary of Schroeder's ruling Social Democrats.
That's obvious. Every sane person should agree. Yup. Not something to be joked about. |W|P|105716770968946273|W|P||W|P|7/02/2003 01:14:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Everybody loves a pissing contest! I ranted about an Oliver Willis post that annoyed me a few days ago, and Mr. Willis (or ODub, as the ladies know him) noticed. I was surprised, as this new blog is pretty under-the-radar. I'm not trying to get Instapundited as I did with the original DW-i. Still, the exercise has proven worthwhile for bringing out commenters on Willis' site who are crowing for my death. And that's always fun.
It's quite humorous how when a right winger has nothing to bring to a debate, resorts to personal attacks. It always happens. * Seems what pisses him off is the fact that 298 people link to O-dub. Technorati says 313 blogs link to O. Technorati says 2 blogs link to Dave. And one of them is O-dub. So if this guy has 2 incoming links, and one of them is from the worthles O-dub, what does that say about his blog? I guess it's possible that InstaPundit, Atrios, Koz, VodkaPundit, CalPundit, Ken Layne, Matt Welch, Bill Quick, Yglesias, Jarvis, Barlow, Anil Dash, Tony Pierce, Ben Kepple, Electrolite, John Cole, T Bogg, Reid Stott, Sen.Gary Hart, Dr. Frank, and several hundred others might just be fucking confused, while Dave Weigel has somehow managed to be the only guy to get it right. Or maybe Dave is still in Junior High and just wishes he could be as cool and as smart as Oliver when he grows up. At least the good folks at "Adventures In Goat World" seem interested in reading him... * This guy's angry because it's clear to his readers that O-Dubs got more pimp juice in his thumb than Weiner has in his whole body. The sheer fact that this guy can't get his own shit and has to ride Ollie's ass just makes him look sad. Of course, I wouldn't be this mean if I didn't know his dumbshit self is reading this comments thread to stroke his own ego and see how we respond to his ridiculous horseshit. Eat shit and die, Wiggle.
It's not quite the apocalyptic Marduk/Rittenhouse conflict, but it's a lark.|W|P|105716609779312449|W|P||W|P|7/02/2003 03:29:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Movie Review II: The Warriors (1979) Earlier this year, Entertainment Weekly's cover hyped a list of the "100 greatest cult movies of all time." Walter Hill's "The Warriors" made that list, and its key line of dialogue, according to EW, was: "CAN YOU DIG IT?" That didn't make any sense to me. Why would a B-movie about colorful New York City gangs revel in hip, Shaft-y slang? Then I saw the movie. I get it now. "The Warriors" opens with the eponymous gang sending nine "diplomats" to a conference (!) organized by "Cyrus" in the Bronx. The Warriors' turf is Coney Island, so their stilted conversation about the mysterious leader ("When you're president of the biggest gang in the city, you don't have to take any shit." "Ah, fuck him!") is intercut with scenes of the city's ridiculous gangs mounting up. Strike that. "Ridiculous" is a mighty tame word for describing how the gangs look. The Baseball Furies wear baseball jumpsuits and brightly-colored facepaint. The Orphans wear green T-shirts stencilled with their names. Other gangs wear overalls or rollerskates. In short, the vision of New York gang life is a bit P.T. Barnum, especially when the gangs arrive in the Bronx and find out about Cyrus. Cyrus, a Huey Newton lookalike clad in velvet, has assembled the gangs of New York, who he has kept at a truce, to form them into an army. He explains that, together, all of the gang members outnumber the cops 5-1, and that they can take over the city "borough by bourough!" (I'm guessing he won't start with Staten Island). After each exhortation, Cyrus screams: "CAN YOU DIG IT?" So that's where the EW quote comes from. Honestly, they could have dug deeper. After Cyrus is assassinated by a gang member who "just likes to do things like that," and the Warriors fight their way home to Coney Island. just about every line in this movie is hilarious. Ajax (Sex and the City hunk James Remar in one of his first roles) tells a Fury that he'll "shove that bat up your ass and turn you into a popsicle!" A DJ, played by Carmen Sandiego host Lynne Thigpen, spouts nonsense like "Be lookin' good, Warriors. All the way back to Coney. You hear me babies? Good." Masai, leader of the formidible Riffs, gives an ultimatum: "I want ALL the Warriors! I want them alive, if possible. If not, wasted! But I want them. Send the word!" Perhaps the best line comes from Vincent Gallo-lookalike Luther. When his gang corners our heroes on Coney, Luther sticks three soda bottles on his fingers, clinks them together, and chants: "Waaaarriors! Come out to plaaaaaaaay!" Still, even if this were a silent movie, it'd be worth watching. Hill's roughhouse fight sequences were cool in 1979 - now, after years of Matrix-styled ballet rumbles, it warms your blood to see a chair broken, in slow motion, over a chick's head. "The Warriors" is good and stupid, and worth a rent.|W|P|105713099459723818|W|P||W|P|7/01/2003 06:23:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Book Review III: "Terror and Liberalism" by Paul Berman He's a professional essayist. On one level, that's hard to take seriously. But it makes his writing much better, and much more consistent, than the droves of right/left pundits who'll turn their peeves into hardcover books this year. He's a leftist who doesn't try to insert a "Bush is dumb" trope into every paragraph. That's a reward in itself. But if this was the only essay Paul Berman had ever written, it would still be a must-read. Berman traces the history of liberalism as a political force from its origins to today, with long pit-stops at the two world wars. Berman wants liberalism to succeed (as do most conservatives, if they just look at how he defines it), and he records how easy it is for liberals to cave in to tyranny out of the desire to avoid making enemies or alienating other countries. Specifically, he uses the words of Sayyid Qutb (1902-1966), the Egyptian author of "In the Shade of the Koran" and the philosophical father of Wahabbism. Qutb wanted Muslims to establish Shariah in every nation on earth, because:
Shariah was ... Utopia for Sayyid Qutb. It was the abolition of servitude. It was freedom, both for society and for the individual. It was equality. It was social welfare. It was morality. But that was going to be in the future. Meanwhile, before shariah could be established, the modern jihad did have to take place - the jihad that was going to save Islam from annihilation at the hands of the hypocrites within the Muslim world and their allies in the outside world, the Crusaders and the Jews.
In case readers don't see the parallels immediately, Berman reminds us that this has been the promise of every radical group that threatened liberalism; fascists, communists, and other religious fundamentalists. And he notes that modern apologists like Noam Chomsky have their antecendents. It's amusing when Berman marshalls his research to show just how ignorant the apologists of modern Wahabbist terrorism are. This is an amusing book, and a good introduction to the 30 volumes that make up Qutb's work. And it exposes just about everything on Pacifica Radio and Commondreams.org as drivel. That's always worthwhile.|W|P|105709822726172283|W|P||W|P|