6/30/2004 01:22:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Somebody wake Granny D Matt Welch has an absolutely terrific column on CFR at Reason.com, with just the right hook - how it might affect THE liberal environmental group.
If politically active 527s are treated like political parties, as McCain wants, people completely uninvolved with the lawmaking and campaign fund raising process likely would be judged by McCain-Feingold’s "federal election activity" standard designed for political parties, even though the groups are incapable of the quid pro quo corruption the original campaign finance laws were designed to combat. Independent advocacy, which was singled out for protection by Buckley, would suffer a devastating blow. "It would be huge," Smith says. "It would wipe out groups all across the country that have engaged in issue discussion over the years and engaged in political activity."
Read it all and complain to your congressman. Because mine is a piece of shit.|W|P|108861630636475192|W|P||W|P|6/30/2004 10:55:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|About damn time The Roman whores apologize for the fourth crusade.|W|P|108860739196094402|W|P||W|P|6/29/2004 10:03:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Houston, we have a cover Yay! Cordelia and Angel AGAIN!|W|P|108856106854554200|W|P||W|P|6/29/2004 05:03:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|The perils of typing quickly Ever wonder why mispelling a web address like Drudge leads you to a spyware, pop-up laden porn site? Voila.|W|P|108854303482887168|W|P||W|P|6/29/2004 05:03:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|(Not) working for the weekend On Friday I left the office at 2:30 and skidded out onto the beltway to go back to Delaware, and tried to maximize my down time by driving through Maryland. It worked, kind of. I definitely avoided the weekend rush up north and to the Delaware beaches. But I learned exactly how backwards and hardscrabble Maryland really is. When you pass outside a certain radius of the cities, accents and tattoos sprout like dandelions. But I did get home, and it was mostly relaxing. Highlights included burning through 16 season 6 episodes of Buffy with CJ, filming parts of his movie, and packing more books into my car to haul back home.|W|P|108854300807866592|W|P||W|P|6/25/2004 12:25:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|A blockbuster documentary? Everyone's expecting Fahrenheit 9/11 to be the most successful documentary of all time, and some experts are predicting even more. Box Office Mojo, which collates ticket sales from around the world, is predicting that Fahrenheit will be the biggest movie of the weekend. If that happens, it will set a number of records: - the biggest debut for a documentary, ever - the first documentary to debut at #1, ever - the biggest underdog victory ever, in terms of screens - Fahrenheit will be on 868 screens, compared to 2,726 for the weekend's biggest studio picture, White Chicks. Overall, Moore's movie will only rank 13th in terms of theatres showing the movie. Even less optimistic watchers are expecting Fahrenheit to have the biggest debut of any documentary, ever. Box Office Prophets predicts a #2 debut and $19.5 million gross. Box Office Guru predicts a big opening for the Wayans (eeergh) but a $15 million Fahrenheit debut. I personally think White Chicks will win the weekend, because Satan maintains a firm grip on this earth, but Fahrenheit will get all the headlines. On Wednesday it made $83,922 on two screens. The average blockbuster, on its first weekend, makes $8,000 to $10,000 per screen. So this is really going to be historic.|W|P|108818074879632999|W|P||W|P|6/25/2004 01:29:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|When bad things happen to good shows I've been playing TV shows when I get home, catching up on stuff I've been meaning to see as I do laundry or clean. First there was Deadwood, an obviously terrific series I couldn't quite get into. Next was the infamous sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I'd bought on DVD a month ago and only barely poked through in the time since. For the first six or eight episodes, I felt that a jackpot had been struck. This stuff was actually pretty good! The writing was only slightly less tight than before, and at least three episodes ("Life Serial," "Once More With Feeling," "Tabula Rasa") were total classics. Tonight I finally spotted the shark and the proverbial jumping of same. Episode 10, "Wrecked." It was completely ruinous, and I can explain why. We open with the crew recovering from a night of wild abandon. Buffy has slept with Spike (a truly great sequence where the twos' canoodling destroys a house) and Amy, newly freed from a spell that turned her into a rat, has taken Willow out for a night of fucking people over magically. This development made perfect sense. Since Season 4, and arguably Season 2, Willow's use of magic has borne destructive overtones. Why wouldn't it? Here's a total high school loser, a computer geek, who was transparently bitter about the way she'd been excluded. She'd tapped into power that could remake reality - why not use that to feel superior or actually wreak some vengence? In Season 4, we'd seen her seriously consider using magic to kill a cheating boyfriend, and following it up by casting a spell to make her will be done when she spoke it. All of this came to a head in the beginning of Season 6, after her girlfriend discovers that Willow manipulated her brain to erase the memory of a tiff. The girlfriend dumps her - Willow is crushed. This is good stuff. And it goes to hell. Amy speaks excitedly of a guy who "knows spells that will last for days. The burn-out factor is like, nothing." Right there, we have a hideously transparent metaphor - something the show really has been excellent at making, well, NOT transparent. This is the first we've ever heard that magic has some finite quality, or that you get burned out using it. It hasn't been a problem before. All of a sudden it's a problem ... because the writers want to do a drug show. And to hammer the point home they take us to ... Rack! He owns a hidden den that "moves around a lot" and crawls with twitchy young people who beg him for "a turn." A turn at what? At him magically making them high by shooting red cgi at them. So now magic means being buzzed by strange people and floating on the ceiling. Willow has some strange, dark hallucinations, then wanders out in need of another fix. Hanging out with Dawn, she brings the 15-year old to this obvious den of sin and gets high again! Because she can't stop, get it! On the way out the two are pursued by a demon and Willow crashes a car (which she's driving magically!) by being high and goofing off. Dawn is mangled a bit, but has time to give Willow a weak slap on the way out. Willow collapses in a heap and cries in that inimitable Alyson Hannigan way. "No, Dawnie! I'm s--sorry! I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" She continues in this fashion until Buffy takes her home and allows her to convalesce on her bed, shaking like ... well, a junkie. Now, why did this suck? Couple reasons. 1.)The writing took a 90 degree nosedive, which is probably due to the premise. The witty nerds who write this show, and do it so well, really didn't know how to convey loss and addiction. 2.)The "magic as dope" element came out of the blue, making it strange even before it was revealed to be silly. We couldn't really process this new concept - when we did, it wasn't worth it. 3.)The drug plot, as it is, is beyond hackneyed. A girl hangs out with her baaaad friend and does drugs? And almost kills someone in the ensuing haze? Oh, that's "very special episode" crap. Buffy doesn't do very special episodes. 4.)Corrollary to reason #1 - I really think the writing team declined during the sixth season and never recovered. Compare the wrenching, mature way they handed unexpected natural death in Season 5's "The Body" to the cliched way it's handled in Season 7's "Help." And compare this deathly straightforward treatment of addiction to the way it had been treated in every episode up to this point. We'd seen, in episodes like Season 4's "Something Blue," the way that seeking false solace during hard times was always faulty and doomed. Why is that theme handled so humorlessly here? I'm seeing where and how the series went into its tailspin. Ah, well. |W|P|108814304423424389|W|P||W|P|6/24/2004 03:56:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|I apologize to R. Emmett Tyrrell Clinton on Hillary.
What of the former president's wife, now in the Senate representing New York? Does she have what it takes to be president? He smiles at the thought. She considered running this year, he admits, but instead "wanted to honour her commitment to the people of New York" to serve a full term in the senate. Political convention demands that he say Kerry will triumph this year? "He has a slightly better than 50-50 chance to win," says Clinton - and that therefore there will be no Democratic vacancy for eight years. So maybe that could be Hillary's moment? "We have no idea what the future holds. If, you know, eight years from now or sometime in the future she got a chance to serve, I have no doubt about her skills. She is the ablest person I've ever known in public life. And she does some things better than I do, better than I ever do. She is very well organised, she is very strong ... I have no doubt she could do it ... Who knows what will happen in the future?"
Well, whoa.|W|P|108810712932102284|W|P||W|P|6/24/2004 12:35:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Gadflyer suckitude I'm always impressed by The Gadflyer's ability to suck, but since I reread their solitary interesting article (Gorenfeld's Moon piece), I was struck again by how insanely wordy they are. Gorenfeld's article, for example, was about 3 times longer and not really any more interesting than his pieces on his blog. Another case it point: the Gadflyer blogs. Amy Sullivan's Political Aims is wordy beyond any reason. See:
You know, guys, this is what the Bush communications operation does. They're the ones who can't hear a bit of criticism without retaliating. Aren't Democrats supposed to be more tolerant? Apparently not. Last week I talked to a Washington Times reporter who was writing a story about how the Kerry campaign doesn't have its act together when it comes to religion. Since the article was going to come out whether I talked to her or not (many in the campaign seem to operate on the assumption that if they don't comment on some stories, the stories will go away -- no, they just go on without your side being told), I decided to take the opportunity to nudge the campaign to take on religion questions directly. There's still time to get back on course, but so far the campaign has erred by approaching religion as a constituency problem -- "How many Catholics in the Rust Belt can we get if we do X?" -- rather than as part of their overall communications and policy strategy. And while the top level of the campaign seems open to framing Kerry's policies in moral terms, the people in the mid-levels freak out at anything that's too overtly religious (i.e., mentions the word "religion"). I also thought it was particularly important that I talk to the reporter since the other main person interviewed for the piece -- Fr. Robert Drinan -- was offering the ridiculous advice that the campaign should "steer clear of talking about religion." The campaign got the message -- just not the one I was hoping. They've just pulled my access to interview a policy staffer for a totally apolitical profile. I'm interviewing a Republican staffer for the same piece and they haven't pulled my access, even though I'm a raving liberal and all. If being a loyal Democrat means I need to choose between saying nothing critical of the Democratic nominee and speaking up when I see the campaign screwing up, then I guess I'm disloyal. Here's a suggestion for the Kerry campaign, free of charge: Spend some of the time you're wasting worrying about giving access to someone who has worked for Tom Daschle, David Bonior, the ACLU, and half a dozen Democratic campaigns, and find someone like me (not me...like me) to speak on behalf of the campaign on religion issues. You desperately need it. And most professional Democrats can't do it. A successful campaign recognizes its weaknesses and does something to fix them.
And what's the gist of this?
The Kerry people are officially not taking me seriously. I granted an interview to a Washington Times reporter, hoping I could publicly nudge my campaign of choice into thinking about religion, but it seems like they've responded by cutting off my access to a staffer. Assclowns!
OK, that might not be ideal, but I think I convey the same point with a lot less dross. And of course, "The Flytrap" is the worst blog ever. Check out Tom Schaller's response to Hitchen's Farenheit review.
Dear Mr. Hitchens: Thankfully, I read your advice to young contrarians as carefully as I did. For now I feel compelled to employ the very lessons you taught me in exposing your own “moral frivolity” and artful dissembling in reviewing for Slate Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. To begin, let me state up front that I have my own issues with Mr. Moore’s previous work. I think Moore commits a sin common to directors including Woody Allen and Spike Lee, namely, that he puts himself too squarely (or perhaps in Moore’s case, roundly) into his films – literally, by appearing onscreen, and figuratively with a heavy-handed touch that provides a constant reminder of who is behind (if not, alas, also in front of) the cameras. At the risk of sounding inversely paternalistic, I find the best portions of Moore’s films tend to be those where he’s heard and not seen – or better yet, neither seen nor heard. But you, Sir Chris, take Moore to task less for his artistic devices than his presentation of the facts.
Is that entire intro not totally superfluous? It would work, maybe, if Schaller tapped into some heretofore-unseen gonzo style, but he's incredibly vanilla and whiny. I'm never 100% happy with the first drafts of columns we get at USA Today, but they always end up less bloated than this.|W|P|108809584844951239|W|P||W|P|6/24/2004 11:09:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Lileks on Rex His Bleat about Rex Reed's Farenheit 9/11 is all kinds of awesome - not quite Hitchens awesome, but amusing in a similarly smackdown vein.
Tacky-fingered CD enthusiast and ageless fop Rex Reed has seen “Fahrenheit 9/11,” and he not only drank the Kool-Aid but ordered up another gallon for a high colonic.
Well, Lileks doesn't tear him apart, but he vivesects his willingness to buy factual inacuracies about the Bushitler quite nicely.|W|P|108808992490196540|W|P||W|P|6/24/2004 10:46:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Stupid NRO piece John Samples has a silly article in today's NRO, recounting an apocryphal conversation with a kids who sounds much like me. He does a terrible job coaxing him out of a Kerry vote.
"YoungMan," I begin,
Mistake #1. Being called "young man" sends a warning through my nervous system warning me that the speaker is a dick and not worth listening to.
"George Bush is the Republican candidate. The Republicans are the party of limited government and individual liberty." "Says who?" YoungMan quickly replies. "The GOP has had control of the presidency and Congress since 2000. Discretionary domestic spending (that is, non-defense spending) began to rise early in Bush's term. It started with education and ended up with a $16.6 trillion Medicare drug benefit. The Bush administration also seems to have abandoned Social Security reform. When was the last time you heard anything about that? Even the people who would be inclined to blame Congress for all the spending know that the president has never raised a finger to object to any spending at any time." I begin to wonder if YoungMan Intern owns a Prius with a "Re-Defeat Bush" bumper sticker on it. Probably not. He doesn't live in Bethesda.
What? If the guy was a "Impeach Bushitler" type, why would he beef about Bush's immense spending on New Deal programs?
"War is a big problem for me. It leads to killing people abroad and coercion at home. Like most things governments do, it is usually unjustified from the start or leads to perverse consequences. That said, every libertarian I know supported the war in Afghanistan after 9/11. Some of my friends supported the war in Iraq. Not me. The president didn't make much of a case that Saddam Hussein represented a real threat to the life, liberty, or property of Americans. Then Bush started talking about democracy and endless wars of liberation. He's a combination of Lyndon Johnson and Woodrow Wilson." "I don't think he's anything like LBJ. He doesn't make Cheney come into the bathroom when he's using it." Once again my learned historical reference falls on deaf ears.
Insulting and irrelevant. This is familiar to anyone who read the third volume of Caro's book. I would blow off this quip, too.
"To vote for Kerry you have to assume the Republicans will control Congress and be willing to limit his desire to expand government. That means you are voting for a president you don't agree with at all,
But he DOES agree with him! If he opposes Bush's foreign policy, odds are he likes Kerry's lightfooted, pragmatic approach.
but you hope someone else will stop him from doing the things you disagree with but have nonetheless empowered him to do. Who's supposed to stop him? The Republicans in Congress. The same people that have been spending money like drunken sailors.
Because they knew their Republican president would okay it. They did not behave so profiligately in the 1990s.
And that assumes they hold on to Congress. The House Democrats are way further left now then they were in 1994. If they win a majority in the House...."
An outcome almost unrelated to the election or re-election of Bush. If there are enough people like "YoungIntern" and me, voting GOP tickets with Kerry at the top, we'll cede maybe 5-6 house seats to the Democrats and leave Kerry a cohabitated Hill, much like Clinton had. If Bush goes down, split-ticket voters are the author's only hope.
"So you're going to vote for Bush?" YoungMan interrupted. I looked up at the bar's TV. Europeans were running around in shorts playing kickball. The world seemed strange.
The world's fine. You're just shallow.|W|P|108808904711336310|W|P||W|P|6/23/2004 04:15:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Fark.com sucks I checked the site's most recent thread on USA Today and, sure enough, they hate us.
2004-06-23 01:48:10 PM sos USA Today is a worthless newspaper anyway. I would never even pay 50 cents for a copy, let alone 75 cents. The only time I read it is when I am in a hotel and I get a free copy, or someone has left one somewhere and I am bored. 2004-06-23 01:53:24 PM Almighty Does Firefox have some sort of utility on it that searches online forums for the word "popup" and posts some inane comment about not know what popups are because you use Firefox? Just wondering. Anyway, I agree with sos, USA Today is worthless. I can't even stand to read it for more than 5 minutes at a hotel , and I would never actually purchase a copy, regardless of price. 2004-06-23 02:08:23 PM mutt I agree with pretty much everyone here that USA Today is worthless. I work in the hotel business and rarely read it even though it's free. The rag is written for third graders. Reading the letters to the editor gives one an insight as the the level of literacy and intelligence of the average USA Today subscriber. The Los Angeles Times has started a push to get the hotel market in Southern California by offering free copies to hotels in place of USA Today for one year - no strings attached. Thankfully, my hotel took them up on their offer.
And so on. This from a site with a special tag for articles that contain "boobies."|W|P|108802190155048180|W|P||W|P|6/22/2004 12:05:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Earspam I was pissed off yesterday when I spent an hour erasing spyware from my PC. This is far worse.
For the millions of blind and visually impaired Internet users around the world, using text-to-speech software is often the only way to check e-mail. But as the spam problem gets worse, more and more of those users are finding that having their e-mail read aloud can be a minefield. Listening to the next message in the inbox may reveal an important letter from an old friend or, more often, an embarrassing ad for penis-enhancement therapy. (snip) Dan Scissons, the IT director at the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind, said he came to the same conclusion after students at the academy began complaining about their spam problem. "We decided against using a client-side solution because that would be another burden we'd have to lay on the users," he said. "They have a hard enough time learning what they need to." He said the 20 students who regularly used the Internet at the academy had begun to receive so much spam that they couldn't read it all in a 50-minute study-hall period. "Some students were getting as many as 100 spam messages a day, while only three or four were from family members and three or four were from teachers."
Is it still illegal to send anthrax to spammers?|W|P|108792046965646324|W|P||W|P|6/22/2004 11:46:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Hitchens on "Fahrenheit" Christopher Hitchens' expectedly terrific polemic on "Fahrenheit 9/11" means a lot to me, because Michael Moore was responsible for instilling my pro-Iraq war opinions in the first pleace. People forget this (mostly because Moore has such a complex about "corporate media") but Moore hosted two pretty great TV shows in the 1990s. The first, TV Nation, ran on NBC and Fox from July 1994 to June 1995. The second, The Awful Truth, ran on Britain's Channel 4 and America's Bravo from April 1999 to September 2000. I caught ever episode of the latter show, including one where Moore airdropped TVs into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. But the most relevant was episode 23, where Moore interviewed Americans smuggling food and goods into Iraq, to save citizens dying under the sanctions and Saddam's regime. I took this to mean that Iraq would better off if we removed Saddam and the sanctions, and in the shitstorm that is global geopolitics, the war seemed like the way to do that. Moore kinda disagrees.
The question really should be posed to NBC News and all of the other news agencies: Why didn't you show us that the people that we're going to bomb in a few days are these people, human beings who are living normal lives, kids flying kites, people just trying to get by in their daily existence.
Why am I getting such a different opinion watching his show than Moore developed filming it? Or has he just forgotten it?|W|P|108792017449049718|W|P||W|P|6/22/2004 11:40:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|If you're wondering about Al Sharpton's ambitions Note that he's let his "signature organization's" website die off. If you haven't picked up the new Atlantic (with reason - it's been slipping lately), do so. Mark Bowden has a tremendous article about Sharpton's fraudulent "presidential campaign" and how he makes his way because white liberals see a loud-mouthed preacher as the kind of leader black Americans are just supposed to have.|W|P|108791908823269242|W|P||W|P|6/21/2004 12:40:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Graduation report My previous sentiments about commencement read bitter now, but I knew that would happen when I wrote them. I'm of two minds on the whole process. Only a few things are sure. 1.)I wish I'd wasted more time. In college I was obsessed with making the most of my student paper and breaking into real journalism. As a result I'm a little more employable than my peers and a lot less happy. You could throw a dart last week and hit someone on his cell phone planning a bar night, or hugging a friend, or heading off to a senior event. I didn't really develop a close circle of friends who wanted to see me when I came back to town. Luckily, that only really mattered last week. 2.)I'm glad I un-burned my bridges. Editing a controversial newspaper led me to make bitter enemies out of campus celebrities who disagreed with me. The last time I would ever see Jonathan Katz, I specifically told him our tiffs didn't matter and wished him well. The last time I'd ever see Jake Werner, I flashed him the copy of his magazine I held under my arm. 3.)My professors definitely mean more to me than my classmates. I promised more of the former to keep in touch with them. As for the ceremonies themselves ... well, they went as expected. I was a little blown away at just how good NPR's Ann Garrells was at the Medill commencement, and how bad our band was (I got to try out my Chunklet-derived heckle "keep sucking!").|W|P|108784026773574484|W|P||W|P|6/16/2004 04:21:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Alma mater You know that part in "Half Baked" when Guillermo Diaz quits his fast food job and uses the cashier's mic to tell off the whole restaurant? "Fuck you, fuck you, fuck YOU, fuck you, you're cool, fuck you, I'm out." I'm reenacting that at Northwestern. I really detested my last year or so on the campus, and am gleefully rebelling against it during my forced return for graduation. A week ago I got an e-mail affirming that my payment for my cap and gown was never recieved, so I showed up at the office on the first day of distribution to pick up an extra. Before I could, I was redirected to a room with 20-odd Apple iBooks, prompted to give me a "senior survey." I clicked on it, filled out the first button of every answer, and gave my current address as Arlen, Texas. Then I headed to the gown room for an extra. Surprise! There were no extras! I smiled at the attendent who gave me the news. "Glad you guys are on the ball!" I said. I headed over to the ticket-dispensing table where a fellow grad was chatting with the ticket guy. "Move it along," I said. And this is when it dawned on me - I'm one of the few people truly unhappy to be here. The rest of the campus and the insta-bureaucrats set up to service are smiling, forgiving and giggly. So if I blast them - they don't do anything! I asked the ticket guy for my commencement passes; he asked for my gown. I told him they had failed to order the extras and told me to come back tomorrow. The guy, an alumni-looking pensioner, sort of ruffled his expression and told me I couldn't get my passes without a gown. "So I have to come back tomorrow because you guys screwed up your order?" He kind of stumbled - again, he wasn't expecting rudeness. "That's great. Thanks for nothing, jackass!" And I walked off, cutting right through a line of people waiting to pick up some corporate gift. It was GLORIOUS.|W|P|108741827747084801|W|P||W|P|6/15/2004 06:08:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Oh, the humility! |W|P|108733730069477227|W|P||W|P|6/14/2004 04:47:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Dead and buried I pretty much agree with Tim Goodman's take on the new season of Six Feet Under.|W|P|108725040135223737|W|P||W|P|6/14/2004 01:40:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Chelsea, the Vampire Slayer Here's Sarah Michelle Gellar, best known as Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Here's Michelle Trachtenberg, best known as Dawn, the sister of Buffy (the Vampire Slayer). Here's Chelsea Clinton. Discuss.|W|P|108723500552262746|W|P||W|P|6/14/2004 12:42:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Le Weekend It was quite the 55 hours - I'm a bit unsettled at how easy I'm settling into suburbia. In short: - hung out with Mark on Friday, watching episodes of the best TV show of all time. - went to the "Celebrate Fairfax" festival on Saturday, improbably seeing (and loving!) The Presidents of the United States of America. Yep. The "Lump" guys. A highlight came when someone shouted "John Kerry for president!" and the band began working it into the chorus of the song. - finally, after 2 years of waiting, got to the Brickskeller in Dupont Circle. Drank beer from around the world. - joined the Hollywood Video near my house, awed by its array of old (and out of print!) movies and XBox games.|W|P|108723466461578552|W|P||W|P|6/11/2004 11:36:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Reagan thoughts I've heard various entities complain about the amount of coverage given the Reagan funeral by TV networks. A thought: This is the first presidential state funeral since 1973. 24-hour cable news and the internet have been born in the intervening time. That's one reason this seems omnipresent. Also, what would you rather have? More Scott Peterson coverage?|W|P|108696873809871370|W|P||W|P|6/10/2004 06:29:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|In honor of the shitty movie A site dedicated to the proposition that Garfield strips are completely arbitrary and predictable.|W|P|108690658912692783|W|P||W|P|6/10/2004 05:40:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Map This election map for Britain's latest run of local races is the best of its kind I've ever seen. CNN should be shamed.|W|P|108690368376732597|W|P||W|P|6/10/2004 03:33:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Because it's funny |W|P|108689604593732261|W|P||W|P|6/10/2004 03:02:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Obligatory Onion link I'm finding this easy to relate to as I prep to visit my alma mater for commencement.
Linton said she had roughly 75 friends last week, but the figure plummeted to less than 60 following her birthday party. The list of friends has not seen such a dramatic revision since her modern-dance performance at the Grace Unitarian Church in November 2003.
|W|P|108689423995185117|W|P||W|P|6/10/2004 02:48:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Instant laughs This is an unfortunate name.|W|P|108689337062129371|W|P||W|P|6/08/2004 02:43:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Republican in the year 3000 I was reading an interview with Mystery Science Theater 3000's Mike Nelson, just because I worship the show, and what do I find? He's a tory!
I read the National Review cover to cover. Check in at Townhall.com every day. Check the Washington Times daily. Listen to Dennis Prager and Michael Medved on a regular basis. Read Mark Steyn with regularity. Read the Weekly Standard. So, yes, I do vote Republican. As the pundit Hugh Hewitt has observed, there are indeed two Americas: Serious America and Silly America. The Democrats seem bent on turning this into Silly America, so I stick with those who wish this to remain Serious America. Of course, in addition, as angry as it makes me, I check in with the monolithic press: the NY Times, the L.A. Times, the Boston Globe. One thing I can’t do, that makes me just insanely angry, is read my local paper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, known to many as the Star and Sickle, or the Red Star Tribune.
Having Mike Nelson on our team inflates the average Republican IQ by 14 points or so.|W|P|108672032026961421|W|P||W|P|6/07/2004 06:34:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|"Evil empire" reactions I'm collating some contemporary reactions to the March 8, 1983 "evil empire" speech here. Anthony Lewis, The New York Times "Can the concept of good and evil determine whether 10,000 nuclear warheads is enough? Whether this country needs a first-strike weapon against the Soviet Union? Whether a nuclear freeze is likely to make the world more or less safe? ... One may regard the Soviet system as a vicious tyranny and still understand that it has not been solely responsible for the nuclear arms race. The terrible irony of that race is that the United States has led the way on virtually every major new development over the last 30 years, only to find itself met by the Soviet Union. The dramatic example was the introduction of MIRV's, the multiplewarhead missiles. It was a great U.S. technological breakthrough. But the Russians then copied it, building weapons systems that have been regarded with special alarm by the West. It is precisely such history that requires the United States and its allies, as a matter of selfinterest, to think through arms-control issues -in concrete terms, not pieties. What must the leaders of Western Europe think of such a speech? They look to the head of the alliance for rhetoric that can persuade them and their constituents. What they get from Ronald Reagan is a mirror image of crude Soviet rhetoric. And it is more than rhetoric: everyone must sense that. The real Ronald Reagan was speaking in Orlando. The exaggeration and the simplicities are there not only in the rhetoric but in the process by which he makes decisions. What must Soviet leaders think? However one detests their system, the world's survival depends ultimately on mutual restraint. What confidence can they have in the restraint of an American leader with such an outlook?" The St. Louis Post-Dispatch "Despite all the talk about genuinely seeking to end the arms race, in other words, cutting down the hardware isn't the real issue in his cosmology. Even before Reagan made that speech, the United States' Catholic bishops had been outraged enough by his administration's misadventures in international ethics and morality. Recent comments about Central American Catholic church leaders' attitude toward Marxists, by Vice President George Bush and Secretary of State George Shultz, provoked a letter to Reagan from Archbishop John Roach of Minneapolis, president of the United States Catholic Conference. 'Any hint that the fundamental pastoral vision and ministry of the Catholic church are based on an alien ideology or seek to serve its purposes must be rejected,' Roach said. 'I must insist on this point.' That position is certainly incontrovertible, and became even more germane in the wake of Reagan's speech. While the president was away, a brigade of his sympathizers was organizing on Capitol Hill to try to reduce the impact of a much larger host of nuclear arms freeze advocates who had descended on Congress. With Reagan inadvertently helping them, maybe the freeze supporters will win. Oratory like the president's can produce many more converts to their cause than do all the rallies and demonstrations imaginable." Mary McGrory, The Washington Post "Preaching to the preachers, Reagan did a marvelous parody of a revivalist minister, flaying those laggards who refuse to join his crusade against the nuclear freeze and the "evil empire" of the Soviet Union. ... Reagan knows he has to protest that he is for arms control. He had to dispatch Vice President Bush to Europe to persuade the Old World that he is moderate and flexible. But he reverted to type in Florida. He really thinks, apparently, as Rowny seems to do, that to make an agreement with the Russians is to shake hands with the devil." Tom Wicker, The New York Times "In the long run, however, the greater danger lies in Mr. Reagan's vision of the superpower relationship as Good versus Evil, and his near-proclamation of holy war against ''an evil empire.'' Most of what I know about the Soviet regime I find repellent. But if the President of the United States proclaims to the world the view that this country's relationship with the Soviet Union is a death struggle with Evil, then his own words inevitably suggest that there can be no real compromise with that Evil -not on arms control or anything else. Knowing that, why should those proclaimed as ''the focus of evil'' believe in the possibility of real compromise with a U.S. dedicated to their destruction? The holy war mentality on either side tends to evoke it on the other; and holy wars are both the hardest to avoid and the least likely to be settled short of one side's annihilation. Perhaps even more dangerous, Mr. Reagan's smug view, if further inculcated in Americans, will preclude self-examination, humility, a willingness to concede error. Are we so clearly a God-directed, chosen people that we have no need to question our virtue, or the evil of our rivals? If Mr. Reagan really thinks so, he has shaken off the strongest restraints on human conduct - doubt and fear." Newsweek "For many Americans, Reagan's fiery speech last week only rekindled his old image as a cold warrior, and the growing fear at the White House was that only tangible success in Geneva would undo the damage in time for the '84 elections. "An improving economy won't do it alone," says one political adviser. "He needs a nuclear agreement of some kind." But by attacking the Soviet Union behind an opening barrage of inflammatory rhetoric, Reagan only increased suspicion that he may not be serious about arms control -- and dramatized an identity crisis his administration has managed to suppress, but has never solved. The chronic doubt over which Reagan is in charge -- the ideologue or the pragmatist -- confuses friends and foes alike, and vastly complicates the business of defining and selling a coherent American approach to the world." Haynes Johnson, The Washington Post "His intention may well have been eventually to reduce the threat of nuclear war, but his words and timing surely only serve to confirm the dark suspicions of the Soviets about the United States. Even before his recent speeches, Soviet specialists on American life were warning their leaders that the United States was embarking on a new, more menacing period. They were saying this was a deliberate public campaign to divert attention from America's economic woes and presumed loss of place in the world. And while the president employs biblical language to warn about the evils of the Soviet empire, the Russians add their own old pet Marxist phrases about the growing dangers from the "American power elite" and from "U.S. imperialism." They continue to predict the inevitable triumph of socialism over capitalism. All this adds up to a chilling portrait of a deteriorating state of relations between these two superpowers which now indeed hold sway over the destinies of the earth, and in fearsome ways never imagined by Tocqueville." Russell Baker, The Washington Post "When he paints a vision of the future, he shows us the next century filled with deadly space gadgets constructed for struggle against the ''evil empire'' of Communism. The politics of this approach, like the politics of so many Reagan programs, is curious. We are a nation addicted by movie-going to belief in happy endings. But in his speech on war tools for the 21st century Mr. Reagan tells us, in essence, ''There aren't going to be any bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover, folks. The only thing you can look forward to is armament and more armament.'' In short, no happy ending in the cards. No ending of any variety. Just eternity stretching on and on with the bills coming in forever. It may be honorable of the President to state so candidly a view doubtless widely held by his Government's experts on war and diplomacy. Whether it is sound politics in a country where many voters are passionately against nuclear weapons and many more impatient with the Pentagon's tireless demands for more money is doubtful." Mary Farakos, The Guardian (UK) "It is sad to be reminded over and over again that the individual who holds the most powerful and prestigious position in my country takes his power and position so lightly. After referring to the Soviet Union as an evil empire, can he really expect to be taken seriously on arms limitation talks? What is the need for this kind of provocation? The "facts of history" are more complex than Mr Reagan's glib speeches make them out to be. His reference to the struggle between good and evil is a case in point. Given the poverty that reigns in Central America (not to mention the rest of the world), his adamant support of the "good guys" is morally contemptible and can only provide the "bad guys" with more popular strength. I have one more complaint. Mr Reagan's images conjure up, time and time again, ad nauseum, old Hollywood westerns and their new, fast-paced counterparts. Unfortunately, with the threat of nuclear war hanging over us, I wouldn't want to think that, thanks to President Reagan, (and this in a language he will understand) the empire struck back."|W|P|108664867850830450|W|P||W|P|6/07/2004 05:03:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Reagan in verse Dead Kennedys - "We've Got a Bigger Problem Now" I am emperor Ronald Reagan Born again with fascist cravings Still, you made me president Human rights will soon go ’way I am now your shah today Now I command all of you Now you’re going to pray in school I’ll make sure they’re christian too California über alles über alles california Don Henley - "The End of the Innocence" O' Beautiful for spacious skies, But now those skies are threatening. They're beating plowshares into swords For that tired old man that we elected king Violent Femmes - "Old Mother Reagan" Old Mother Reagan And her crew Took away From me and you I hope she goes far away She better go far away Y'know it ain't right When it's all wrong This is the Old Mother Reagan Protest song Old Mother Reagan She's so dumb She's so dangerous How come... Old Mother Reagan went to heaven But at the pearly gates She was stopped! Pink Floyd - "The Fletcher Memorial Home" Take all your overgrown infants away somewhere and build them a home a little place of their own the fletcher memorial home for incurable tyrants and kings and they can appear to themselves every day on closed circuit t.v. to make sure they're still real it's the only connection they feel "ladies and gentlemen, please welcome reagan and haig" R.E.M. - "It's the End of the World as We Know It" Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom! XTC - "This World Over" Will you tell them about that far off and mythical land About their leader with the famous face? Will you tell them that the reason nothing ever grows In the garden anymore Because he wanted to win the craziest race Suicidal Tendencies - "I Shot Reagan" I shot Reagan I shot Sadat I'm gonna shoot you dead in heaven you'll rot You're gonna rot in heaven, hear an Angels voice You're too bad for hell although it's your first choice X - "The New World" Tt was better before before they voted for what's his name This was supposed to be the new world|W|P|108664344413017103|W|P||W|P|6/07/2004 12:15:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Karma needed Last night I left a friend's house and got on the highway home, only to find it was completely clogged - at 11 pm! - and I had to drive through the city to save time. 9 hours later I woke up for work, used the bathroom, and panicked as the toilet clogged and spilled water all over my bathroom and most of the floor of my apartment. After dealing with a plumber, I arrived at work - only to find the fax I sent at the end of the work work (three times!) had never been received, and my higher-ups had to apologize for my apparent sloppiness.|W|P|108662509021495666|W|P||W|P|6/07/2004 02:32:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Atrios y bullshit Atrios, who thinks I'm a moron, claims to have disproven the media spin on Reagan's popularity.
The history of modern-day public opinion polls now includes 2 more retiring presidents, one of whom [Clinton] clearly has him beat. So, the AP article is technically true, but nonetheless quite misleading. And, more generally, Reagan only had strong poll numbers between about '84-'86. The rest of the time his poll numbers were low by historical standards, as the chart posted below with the averages confirms.
Of course, there's another measure of popularity that the media is more likely to recall. In 1980, Reagan won the presidency with 50.75% of the vote. He won 43,903,230 votes to Carter's 35,480,115. In 1984, Reagan won re-election with 58.77% of the vote. He won 54,455,472 votes to Walter Mondale's 37,577,352. In 1992, Clinton won the presidency with 43% of the vote. He won 44,909,806 votes to George Bush's 39,104,550. In 1996, Clinton won re-election with 49.23% of the vote. He won 47,400,125 votes to Bob Dole's 39,198,755. In other words: 1.)Reagan won both terms with a larger majority of the popular (and electoral) vote than Clinton won in either of his races. 2.)Clinton never won as many votes as Reagan won in 1984. 3.)Reagan won a majority of the popular vote twice. Clinton never did. Does this matter? Not really. Oh, but it proves Atrios wrong. UPDATE: Kos buys in, too. Unsurprising. But it really is lousy analysis - defining "popularity" as the average, over an entire term of office, of one poll. A better benchmark might be resilience to scandals. Clinton's charm prevailed over a drawn-out impeachment - Reagan's charm saved him in several circumstances that would have ended the presidency of a less warm politician (Iran-Contra, for example).|W|P|108659068332512424|W|P||W|P|6/06/2004 02:14:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|1911-2004 It rained all day, and the sky wept before it found a reason to. I was on the road to Baltimore at 9 am, and it was raining. I parked at the aquarium at 10:30, and it was raining. I left at 2, drove to the Great Blacks in Wax museum, and when I got out it was raining. Alex (from work) and I got to a restaurant at 5 pm, and walked there through the rain. Then I gave John Tabin a call to see when he could rendezvous, and he dropped the news that Ronald Reagan was dead. I was surprised at my reaction to that. Reagan had been on the verge of death for at least four years, and retired from public appearences completely in 1998. But I still sort of sank. It wasn't just that I admired Reagan, but that I knew the next few weeks would be full of chest-thumping testimonials and denouncements from people who had strong opinions on him. I cringed first to think of the "he was a nazi" comments that were gonna come out. What came to mind first was an episode of VH-1's "I Love the 80s" where rock stars reminisced about the fall of the Berlin Wall. None of them credited any external political factors for this. Melissa Etheridge said something like "it was about freedom!" Well, it was - the citizens of an oppressive totalitarian regime had been clamoring to escape it for years, and they couldn't because the Soviet Union was bucking it up militarily, and they found their chance when US pressure got the USSR to pull out. Despite this, I had friends telling me "Breaking the Soviet bloc was one of the worst thngs that happened this century. It was a plot to release America upon the world, to free her to run rampant - and she is doing right now in Iraq." In other words, I have friends who still believe that the United States is a force for evil in the world, that it was no morally superior to the Soviet Union, that the rest of the world should rise up against us. They agree with Noam Chomsky, who took the word of the Khmer Rouge over the word of Western journalists, and they agree with The Nation magazine, which supported the Soviet Union when its leadership was imprisoning and massacring its people for acts of dissent. Not poking through their library records. Not checking their bags at airports. Murdering them. Their citizens had no rights that could have conflicted with the metropoles' goals of centralization and economic expansion. I'm always amazed at the people who decry the messy overthrow of Saddam Hussein while staying wilfully ignorant of how the Soviet Union murdered around 1 million Afghans in an attempt to annex their country. The funny thing is, I'm very well aware of what Reagan got wrong. Read one of Lou Cannon's excellent biographies and you'll find out how he supported small-scale terrorism, how he slept during meetings, how he made lousy decisions that were corrected by the slow-creaking gears of American politics. But there was no man alive who did more to liberate more people from tyranny. And you get the measure of that when you talk to a doubter. What good is the opinion of someone who misses the Soviet Union, or misses Keynesian economics, or thinks communism "has never really been tried?" His opinion is isolated. It has all the realism and relevance of a Klingon dictionary. They have no answer for this. |W|P|108654407392242912|W|P||W|P|6/04/2004 02:38:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|S-M-R-T ... I mean S-M-A-R-T! One of the Daily Kos's diarists claims to have a real media gotcha:
It's right there in the story: "The president's visit marks the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Rome from the Nazis." Ummmm. Italy was a willing part of Germany's Axis. Is CNN really so massively stupid that they don't remember Il Duce? Un-frick-ing be-liev-able. So-called liberal media. One thing that we definitely know is that they are dumber than a bag of hammers. No, on second thought, that's an insult to bags of hammers all over the world.
To parphrase: Ummmm. Italy began the war as part of the Axis. In summer 1943, the Allies invaded Sicily. They battled "up the deadly boot" for a year, abetted by failing will on the part of the Italian fascists. On Sept. 8, after Mussolini was overthrown, Italy capitulated and joined the Allies. Germany took over military operations on the peninsula, moving into Rome on Sept. 10. On June 4, 1944, the Allies marched into Rome. As the reporters at CNN might well say: Duh.|W|P|108637481432329519|W|P||W|P|6/04/2004 12:35:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|On that note I cannot think of an innovation more irritating and personally useless than Viagra. For one, I don't use it - I'm 22 and celibate. For another, I don't unilaterall support the desire of more men to have sex. But for the most part, I blame the invention of Viagra for spam. No less than 1/3 (and often more than 2/3) of the spam I get comes from scammers selling fake Viagra or its ripoffs. The great majority of comment spam I see comes from the same source. You could argue that much of this spam is actually advertising "male enhancement" (as one e-mail I've receieved 12 times this week put it, "GROW YOUR PENIS") and not actually Viagra. True - but the innovation of a no-shit performance enhancer and impotence cure set off sparks in the consumer mind. It now seems POSSIBLE that the scientists who designed Viagra have followed up with a cream that pumps up your cock. That kind of scam has become more marketable - thank you, Pfizer!|W|P|108637428848147075|W|P||W|P|6/04/2004 12:27:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|The Eighth wonder of the world I idly checked an old blogrolled site and noticed one post with 136 comments. This seemed strange - the site's other posts average .7 comments. So I checked it, and my suspicions were true: There are two comments from human beings and ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-FOUR pieces of comment spam. Including SEVEN posts from 10:35 pm yesterday. Mail bombs seem too good for these people ...|W|P|108636691467625104|W|P||W|P|6/02/2004 03:09:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Truth in advertising? Hm ... The fairly useless webzine The Gadflyer is holding a fundraising drive. That's understandable. But their plea doesn't really make any sense.
We don't charge a subscription fee, because we want The Gadflyer read as widely as possible. And we don't run ads, because we just have too much to say to give up the space.
Give up the space? On a website?|W|P|108620365548205324|W|P||W|P|6/02/2004 10:15:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Fuck. William Manchester, dead.|W|P|108618574876987865|W|P||W|P|6/01/2004 05:27:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Movie review: "Super Size Me" My fellow classical liberals have been bristling at the mention of this documentary and its conceit - a snarky anti-corporate fella eats McDonalds for a month and watches his health go septic. They say it's unfair, and silly, to pretend fast food companies brainwash Americans into giving up free will and eating junk. This is true: That's why "Super Size Me" doesn't assert that. It asserts, with the input of ax-grinding scientists and health gurus, that fast food companies target children in the hopes of creating lifetime customers, and that their food is remarkably terrible for you. All of that's true. Director/star/urban redneck* Morgan Spurlock goes out of his way to SAY that you can eat this food rarely, that you should avoid it, that he'd be perfectly happy if fast food merchants just put their health data up front so that adults and parents could make informed decisions on whether to ingest it. I have increasingly solid eating habits, and I eat fast food maybe 4 times a year (usually when craving a synthetic milkshake). The lessons and humor of "Super Size Me" connected because, hey, I would not mind if McDonalds had zucchini as an option to replace fries, as long as I'm trying to grab something there with friends. I'd sleep better knowing schoolchildren had healthier options at their school lunches, because gorging on sugar really does do wonders to make you tired and lazy in the middle of the day. In general, I liked the movie's message, which surprised me. And I liked the humor (much at the expense of a vegan chef!) which should surprise no one. *a judgment about his facial hair, not his character|W|P|108612600315174169|W|P||W|P|6/01/2004 03:50:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|And yet Charmed got a sixth season... Fun interview with Joss Whedon in New York.
Both Marvel’s world and the Buffyverse are built on potent supernatural metaphors: X-Men’s mutant gene suggests both racial difference and adolescence; Whedon’s version of witchcraft is linked to both lesbianism and addiction (sometimes, messily, both at once).
Totally true. I'm watching the sixth season of Buffy on DVD, and the magic-as-drugs plot thread drags the show down like a an anchor made of human fat.|W|P|108611958506274513|W|P||W|P|6/01/2004 11:51:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Book Review: "Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs" Chuck Klosterman's first book, "Fargo Rock City," is probably the definitive book about loving heavy metal, never to be topped. The hook, as pumped up by the publicity-driven title, was that Klosterman grew up in the vast, misunderstood Midwest, and had an understanding of WHY metal meant so much to kids like him that could not be imparted to your average, Dickies-clad SPIN copy editor. The debut's success, of course, got Klosterman a job at SPIN. He's written "Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs" from that perch - a much more comfortable, much less interesting place. It shows in the work. After tearing through his first book in one afternoon and night, I found myself getting bored and putting aside this tome for more amusing stuff like "The Empire of the Steppes." But it did take me a while to get bored. The opening chapters on "fake love" (the strange appeal of Coldplay and Lloyd Dobler), Billy Joel and The Sims are quickly-paced and hilarious, especially when Klosterman gets Will Wright on the phone and grills him on why, in The Sims, you can only be happy by buying lots of stuff. Later topics are just not as rich - hating soccer? Saved by the Bell? And absolutely none of Klosterman's one-page interludes work or are at all memorable. Not a bad book, but a disappointing sign that Klosterman plateaued early.|W|P|108611934979518302|W|P||W|P|6/01/2004 11:38:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Jimmy Bush Loathe as I am to admit it, Kevin Drum has a pretty good point.
I wonder if George Bush will end up being the best thing ever to happen to American liberalism. Bushian excess has energized liberals, of course, but more important may be that in the same way that liberals dejectedly gave up on Carter toward the end of his presidency, conservatives seem to be losing heart over Bush in his final year too. Increasingly, even the most hawkish conservatives are unwilling to drain their credibility further by dredging up pretzel twisting defenses for Bush's obvious incompetence and cluelessness.
I speculated about this a year ago with a column my school decided not to submit for its usual awards. Thanks, Medill!|W|P|108610444013483964|W|P||W|P|