11/30/2004 10:19:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Thanksgiving
It should have been some kind of big deal or scandal that I hadn't celebrated Thanksgiving with my family, in America, since 1997. Back then we were discussing this movie "Titanic" which was going to come out and obviously make no money and become a legendary bomb. Shortly thereafter we relocated to a suburb of London, and our first English Thanksgiving was marked by my mother forgetting to make stuffing, which was my favorite part of the goddamn holiday. We had one more Thanksgiving in Blighty, then I shipped off for college, where I spent holidays with family friends to save the trouble of flying back to the east coast. No family has ever adapted more swiftly to my habit of reading books at the table when I get bored. Bless 'em.
Actually, it was the smoothness of these alternative Thanksgivings that made this real one seem so mellow. For the first time ever I had to navigate T-Day traffic - and it sucked! When I got home, the kitchen being used to prepare the meal was in familiar shape - mom stuck behind the sink, dad or brother getting occasionally in the way - so there wasn't anything especially celebratory. Plus, after a few minutes we started eating in front of the TV. How unmagical can you frigging get?|W|P|110187403042738743|W|P||W|P|11/30/2004 10:06:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|In praise of doing stuff
The January Reason arrived in the mail today, with a piece of mine in it, and forced the realization that my journalism is actually outpacing my blogging. Well, that's not right. Here comes some blogging!|W|P|110187054516466748|W|P||W|P|11/24/2004 07:47:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Liberal media
Yowza. On Hardball tonight, Chris Matthews invited on not just Tom Frank - he invited Amy Goodman to talk about media coverage of the Iraq war.
Is Hardball going to turn into a lefty roundtable? That would be interesting.|W|P|110134372713249875|W|P||W|P|11/19/2004 01:45:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Same old song
So CNN is on above my desk, and Wolf Blitzer is interviewing Joel Mowbray about the threat of Iran, and Mowbray is saying something about how no one doubts Iran wants to build nukes.
On Sept. 11, 2002, Mowbray wrote this column.
Over the last 14 months, Saddam has been scrambling to acquire thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which are used in centrifuges to enrich uranium. Saddam has been meeting with his top scientists in recent months, and Iraqi defectors have told us for years of his insatiable hunger for nuclear weapons.
As an administration official explained, there are only three reasons to develop nuclear weapons: 1) as a response to a neighbor with superior conventional forces, like what Pakistan faces with India, 2) to counter an enemy’s nuclear program, and 3) to terrorize your neighbors thru some combination of blackmail or actual attacks. Iraq does not fall into the first two categories, and Saddam’s past actions alone make clear his designs.Oh, and there was this.
The International Institute of Strategic Studies this week released a study, which found that Saddam could be merely months away from functional nukes under the right circumstances.
Iraq’s eventual acquisition of nuclear capabilities is not even disputed by critics of an Iraq attack, such as former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft. Every day we wait is another day we grant Saddam to build his arsenal of terror. Saddam may or may not have played a role in 9/11, but that is irrelevant—he could very well mastermind the next 9/11.Again - I just saw this cunt on CNN talking about what "everyone knows" about Iran.
I think it's time to give Stephen Glass his own CNN show.|W|P|110088662606174099|W|P||W|P|11/19/2004 01:30:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Hey, Cliff May!
On The Corner, you wrote this:
From the far left all the way to the center left, commentators are arguing that President Bush should appoint Cabinet members who disagree with him, who don’t share his vision, who aren’t eager to implement his agenda.
So why is it that these same commentators are not demanding ideological diversity on the campuses? Why don’t they want some young professors who will tell the superannuated hippies and old New Leftists that their vision is wrong, and their agenda outmoded, foolish and destructive?Universities don't have nukes. But thanks for playing!|W|P|110088952034250378|W|P||W|P|11/15/2004 01:37:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|DVD review: Freaks and Geeks
(Note: I kinda wrote this on Friday, but my Firefox browser crashed, which happens every time I try to write more than 500 words in the browser instead of Word. Que sara sara. So this new post is less arty and more descriptive of what I like about the show.)Nostalgia for the belle epoque of Jimmy Carter has been with us ever since 1980 or so, but I think it was put on steroids with the 1994 release of Richard Linklater's "Dazed and Confused." The Texan director's second movie, after the slice-of-life comedy "Slacker," sent us into a high school on the first day of summer vacation in 1976. It was obviously compared to "American Graffitti," but critics noticed that this movie was as cynical as George Lucas's 50s movie was starry-eyed. The key line, spoken by half-assed rebel Jeremy London as he tries to avoid signing a drug-free pledge for the football team, was "If these are the best years of our lives, remind me to kill myself."
Importantly, this was a new kind of nostalgia movie that said except for the music, life was no better when we were teenagers. More importantly, the movie totally bombed. So it became the template for Paul Feig's series "Freaks and Greeks."
Feig, an actor and writer of middling success, has not said a lot about whether "Dazed and Confused" inspired his shaping of this show, but the resemblence is close enough to make the leap - and the same stuff that made "Dazed and Confused" work is at work in his show. D&C was set 18 years before the movie came out, and F&G begins in the fall of 1980, 19 years before the show premiered. The setting is recognizable, and the interactions of the characters wouldn't change that much if it were set a decade later, apart from the social mores. But their awkward relationships and aptitude for learning things the hard way could play out the same in a show set in 2004.
The protagonists are a high school junior, Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini) and her family, brother Sam (John Daley) and parents Harold (Joe Flaherty) and Jean (Becky Ann Baker). When we meet her, Lindsay is a smart kid who's bored and deciding to rebel. We can tell this is a conscious decision because she's bad at it - when the bad kids go out trashing houses on Halloween, she kicks a pumpkin too hard and gets her shoe stuck in it. This was a terrific and telling (and possibly unintentional) metaphor for the very identifiable Lindsay character. She's got a feeling that the Mathlete crowd is dragging her down, and she's cute enough to break in to the semi-popular crowd.
But like in "Dazed and Confused," being in the semi-popular crowd (and even the popular crowd) is not an unalloyed boon. The life of a geek, as obviously tortuous as it is for the characters, seems pretty fun. Sam and his friends Neil (Samm Levine) and Bill (Martin Starr) goof around quoting Bill Murray and Steve Martin and not worrying about AIDS and fake IDs. When Sam actually gets a chance to date his dream girl, her shallowness and meanness drives him nuts. Still, "Freaks and Geeks" never allows a lesson to go unchallenged. One early episode has a pretty new girl start at the geeks' high school, and Sam, Neil and Bill manage to charm her into hanging out with them. They're convinced having a pretty girl in their circle is against the laws of nature, so after a few 007esque attempts to keep her from joining the in crowd, they set her free - and when she still sort of wants to hang out with them, they've so bought into their social rulebook that they don't even notice.
The freaks - Lindsay's new friends - are in some ways a little more enviable, and in some ways a lot less. They're not very smart. Ken (Seth Rogen) is witty but lazy, Nick (Jason Segal) is a flake who got kicked off the basketball team for stashing pot, and Kim (Busy Phillips) is a bitchy bully. Then there's Daniel Desario (James Franco). In any other show, the badass rebel would be Lindsay's off-on love interest the Ross to her Rachel, the Niles to her Daphne, etc etc. Problem is, Daniel is not a sitcom rebel. He's drawn to be real - he's not bright, he's dishonest, and he manipulates all the girls who fall for his charm. This isn't presented in a malicious way. It's just the way Daniel is, and Lindsay eventually realizes what she's letting herself get into by humoring him.
It's never enough to say a show's "realistic" and praise it to high heaven. But the pathetic realism of "Freaks and Geeks" is the undergirdings of a funny, warm show about high school, and how if it's the best years of your life you should kill yourself.
Coming next ... episode-by-episode.|W|P|110056229720734899|W|P||W|P|11/11/2004 05:33:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Entertainment!
Time was when I reviewed my new albums or DVDs or recently-seen movies on this site. I think people greatly preferred that stuff to my political garbage. So I'll do a lot of that again, soon.|W|P|110021255941085460|W|P||W|P|11/11/2004 05:24:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Question
How many fucking times is Instapundit going to link to Martin Peretz columns? He's the owner of The New Republic. TNR's circ has gone down from around 100,000 in 2000 to around 60,000 today. It is the only liberal magazine to DECLINE during the Bush administration.
Does Glenn sympathize because he's getting his ass kicked by DailyKos? Hmmm ...|W|P|110021239193702773|W|P||W|P|11/11/2004 01:42:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Reports of their demise
Outside of blogdom, it looks like the Democrats have their shit together.
The prescription of Third Way -- whose name derives from the idea that there should be an alternative to conservative and liberal orthodoxies -- is by no means free of controversy. Some Democrats believe that Bush, who organized his administration and reelection by keeping his conservative base loyal and energized, showed that softening ideological edges or seeking common ground with opponents is not a winning strategy.
Among Third Way's programs will be a "New South" project, aimed at crafting policies and political strategies for cultural and values issues that have played against Democrats in that region in recent decades. The project will be led by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), a vice chairman.
Third Way will also conduct a national security retreat and craft policy initiatives on health care, taxes, tort reform and Social Security reform -- all identified by Bush as key items on his second-term agenda.
The group plans polling to help Democrats find more effective political language to advertise their policies, similar to the way Republicans embraced the phrase "death tax" to describe the estate tax.
"You can't create policy around message," said Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), another co-chairman. "But there is something important about finding the right message when you create policy."I bolded the bit about language because it's the one thing Democrats have not done right at all since around 2001 and the "patients' bill of rights." Language really matters. That's why in his stump speeches, Bush's position on taxes was "our tax system is a complicated mess and we will reform it." Taxes are a mess! Reform is good! All simple stuff to disguise the lack of a popular program (Don't tell me a 28% national sales tax would be popular. I'm from Delaware.)
The reason I thought Kerry would win the election was his last-minute surge among voters on the "fighting terrorism" question. I figured if Kerry pulled even on that issue, Bush had nothing. 2004 didn't turn out that way, but if the Democrats put together smart rhetoric to match their policies on war and taxes and economic issues, they're going to come roaring back.|W|P|110019568694519649|W|P||W|P|11/08/2004 01:05:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Do it! Do it now!
The much-maligned Kos has a reasoned, factual post on what should be done to drag America's voting system out of the mid-20th century. It's good to read this. On the one hand, Kos's decentralized diaries have been going crazy with claims of "VOTE FRAUD," and Kos isn't going there. Also, the evidence of the last year is that Kos has a little bit of pull with the national Democratic party. Not much - certainly it's as antagonistic as anything else. But if he's concerned with it, it'll get into the ears of the honchos.
That would be a very good thing. It's absolutely vital that America update and fix its election system. Europe's elections are quick and clean and kick the shit out of ours - and when Europe is making us look bad, we should ask why. We need a centralized database that makes the wasteful and perennial claims of fraud and counterclaims of intimidation (from poll watchers alleging fraud) obselete. For Christ's sake, we need to ease the huge lines on election day. That could happen with a national database and more machines.
And obviously - obviously - we need a standardized, checkable system for casting ballots. We need optical scan or paper-trail e-voting machines. On election day, I voted on a WinVote system that worked just like an ATM, minus the receipt. This is a disaster waiting to happen. Imagine an election taking place in, say Oklahoma, and a freak electrical storm knocking out a few dozen precincts, including the central location of the voting machines. The electronic votes would be wiped out. There'd be no way of counting them.
There was a bill in the last congress mandating a paper trail for all elections (Rush Holt's Voter Confidence Act). It should be reintroduced and passed unanimously. This isn't about party loyalties or conspiracy theories. It's about making elections easier and preventing a historic disaster.|W|P|109993439188093449|W|P||W|P|11/07/2004 01:05:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Fuck Yeah, again
I have purchased no album this year finer than the "Team America" soundtrack. Anyone who's seen it can tell you that the music is funny, but HOW funny doesn't come across until you really listen to the stuff. Pretty much every bad pop music trend is brought up - the love ballad has those stupid guitar riffs and string sections, "Montage" mirrors the structure of "Holding out for a Hero," the sad "I miss you" song has those hideous synthesizer booms like "Take My Breath Away." And there are lyrical inflections which were hard to hear in the theater but are HILARIOUS on disc.|W|P|109980863516446427|W|P||W|P|11/06/2004 07:05:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Tone tone tone*
One anecdotal election analysis I keep hearing is that Michael Moore cost the Democrats a lot of votes. You know, I just don't see it. I think the most important cultural development of the last two years has been the viral growth of a Democratic counter-establishment. Before 2002 or so, Michael Moore was such a has-been that I could interview him. Now he's a polarizing pop figure with an immense following that includes dozens of elected officials.
When I saw Air America ramping up and Michael Moore taking off and Maureen Dowd ruling the bestseller list over the last year, I felt like the liberals had figured the game out. They're pissed off and out of power, like conservatives were after Clinton's 1992 election. Does it matter that many people find Al Franken and Michael Moore abrasive? Nope, no more than it mattered that the Americans of 1993 found Rush Limbaugh abrasive. Angry, loud voices that keep the disenfranchised party fired up are a very good thing.
If the hubris of the last few days (borking Specter like 12 hours after Bush talks about unity?) is any indication, the GOP leadership is going to overreach as badly as Clinton's Democrats did in 1993-1994. The liberal counterestablishment is set to agitate its base as much as the conservative counterstablishment did 12 years ago.|W|P|109978739527506616|W|P||W|P|11/05/2004 01:10:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Election thoughts
A word of advice: News organizations require you to work more hours when there's more news. So elections are not fun.
As a Kerry supporter and terror-vulnerable beltway resident, I'm not pleased with the way the election turned out. But as a writer and reader, I'm pretty happy. Consider -
- terror scare tactics are fading as an electoral tool. It's generally agreed that Bush won because social issues voters turned out in droves. Kerry did better than expected among voters concerned with national security. And two senators the GOP had hoped of bumping off - Patty Murray in Washington and Russ Feingold in Wisconsin - easily survived, and easily outpaced the Kerry votes in their states. Their opponents directly linked them to terrorism, saying they basically supported Osama by not backing the Patriot Act and President Bush. And the ploy didn't work. The GOP ended up winning its Senate seats in Bush states.
- along the same lines, the "vote for Bush or Osama wins" argument is finally over. No one can accuse the 2006 Democrats or their 2008 presidential candidate of wanting to give in to terrorism, and no one can whine about Madrid (voters apparently defeating a pro-Bush government to appease terrorists).
- social conservatives can now put up or shut up. They have the chance to reverse Roe and ban gay marriage. Now they can do it and stop whining about those godless liberals stopping them. If it's anything like the Woodrow Wilson era, the last time of constitutional amendments, they'll get their social issues through then get the shit backlashed out of them.
- the end of blaming Clinton. Every time Bush says the word "mandate," another voter realizes that he can't blame someone else for anything that goes wrong. This goes for National Review Online writers, too. Yeah, Donald Luskin. I said you suck.
- Ralph Nader's humiliation. In the 1990s, we could entertain the notion that the two party system was the root of all our problems. That's over now, and it's wonderful that Ralph Nader got to learn this first hand. His vote utterly collapsed from 2.9 million to around 400,000. It could only be sweeter if Badnarik got another 25,000 votes and beat Nader for third.
- Republican hubris. Unless they defy all of history and turn their sixth year of power into a roaring success, the GOP will overreach, blunder with some stupid tax policies, and alienate moderates. Then they'll waste $30 million trying to wrest Hillary Clinton's senate seat before she defeats George Pataki 58-40. Absolute power corrupts.
- the evengelicals. The new conventional wisdom that Democrats need to restate their beliefs to overcome the "liberal elitist" hobgoblin means no "Howard Dean would have won" articles. And it means at least 75% fewer "Hillary 2008" articles. The Democrats have been quietly recovering and winning governorships in quite a few red states - Arizona, Wyoming, Montana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Tennessee, North Carolina. That's the wave of the future. Not Indian-style presidential dynasties. It's obvious that an attractive, Christian liberal can win the presidency in 2008 by taking the Kerry states and Ohio. Eventually pundits will stop slobbering over Hillary and realize that.|W|P|109967967138386908|W|P||W|P|11/03/2004 01:30:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Surprise of the century
Stanley Kurtz was right about this election. I mean, fuck.|W|P|109946349029437723|W|P||W|P|11/01/2004 10:57:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Election prediction
For a few weeks I've been saying George Bush will be the first Republican to lose Ohio and win the White House. That is still a possibility, if things break his way. But I believe enough things have broken against this unpopular wartime president to elect Kerry on Tuesday. A few factors:
- The terrorism factor. For months, Bush has held a huge lead on the question of "who do you trust on the war on terror?" That lead got gut-punched after a week of al QaaQaa and Osama. Look at Gallup. Two weeks ago, Bush lead on that question 61-36. One week ago, he led 59-37. Now he leads 54-43, and among registered voters, he only leads 52-43. Since even Bush will tell you 9/11 and terror are his best issues, that spells doom.
- Loss of confidence. In 2002, post-Afghan war, Bush's approval hung around 65 percent and he had a monolithic amount of trust on national security, and he campaigned to win a 53-47 percent GOP victory. But the swing voters who trusted him in 2002 have lost faith. They're not willing to give the benefit of the doubt any more.
- Swing state economics. Voters in the rust belt have staggered more in this economy than voters in the safe Bush states. They've lost manufacturing jobs and they're shelling out a lot of money for gas. Bush is underperforming in all of these states compared to his 2000 polls, except for Wisconsin.
- Democratic motivation. Republicans will have their best GOTV campaign in modern history. Democrats will still do it better. There are simply less Americans weeping at "Ashley's Story" ads and waving giant golden W's than there are 2000 and 2002 burn-outs who have become incensed by the Iraq war and the sluggish jobs situation. Do voters like to vote FOR candidates instead of AGAINST them? If that was 100% true, Bush wouldn't have run such a vicious campaign against Kerry. His support among nominal Republicans is overrated, whereas Kerry and Edwards' support is the most motivated since Truman's in 1948.
Here's what I see. All times are ET.
7:00 - Polls close in Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont, New Hampshire and Virginia. Instant calls are made in the first 5 states, and Bush has the traditional Republican lead of 42-3. New Hampshire goes for Kerry soon thereafter, and it's 42-7.
7:30 - Virginia is called next for Bush, and it's 55-7. Then North Carolina, West Virginia and Ohio close. The first two states go to Bush, giving him 75-7. Ohio is too close to call, but Bush is underperforming compared to 2000.
8:00 - The East Coast starts closing, and Kerry reverses his lopsided numbers. Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Michigan all go Kerry. Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee all go Bush. New Jersey and Pennsylvania go Kerry soon thereafter. Now it's 125 Bush, 103 Kerry. Florida is too close to call.
8:30 - Arkansas closes and, after 10 minutes, goes to Bush. 131-103.
9:00 - New York goes to Kerry, Texas goes to Bush. Arizona, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming go to Bush, while Michigan, Minnesota and Rhode Island go for Kerry. New Mexico flips to Bush, giving him the first steal of the race so far. Colorado, Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida are all too close. Now it's 200 Bush, 165 Kerry.
9:00-something - Ohio is called for Kerry. The flip from 2000 makes it Bush 200, Kerry 185.
10:00 - Montana, and Utah go to Bush for 208 votes total. Nevada and Iowa are too close to call.
11:00 - Big movement for Kerry. Washington, Oregon, and California fall to him easily. Hawaii is called surprisingly early. North Dakota and Idaho go to Bush. Now it's 262 Kerry, 215 Bush.
11:00-something - Iowa and Florida go to Kerry, and he wins the presidency.
12:00-something - Alaska, Nevada and Wisconsin go to Bush, Colorado goes to Kerry. Final result - Kerry 305, Bush 233.|W|P|109932636218658063|W|P||W|P|