5/30/2005 12:33:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|I was wrong I'll be honest, I predicted France would actually ratify the EU Constitution, and it didn't. Nothing to add but the conventional wisdom - voters of the left AND right saw an opportunity to smack Chirac, and took it. And the EU's a sort of victim of its own success, with its ambitious expansion across the continent inspiring some backlash from citizens of the "Old Europe" nations that founded it. It was expanding too fast, and now it's going to re-enter the wheeling and dealing hustings again. Probably not a bad thing.|W|P|111742807734401169|W|P||W|P|5/28/2005 12:55:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|"Unleashed" I just saw the new Jet Li movie, and while it was generally excellent, the moment that keeps coming back to me occurs in the heated final battle. Morgan Freeman smashes a flower pot over Bob Hoskins' head, and he says: "That fella could talk some serious shit." I mean, seriously: Awesome.|W|P|111725624002219164|W|P||W|P|5/26/2005 12:31:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|He's back (the man behind the blog) Sorry 'bout that. Spent the weekend in Delaware and unexpectedly got hired again at USAT while working on some freelance articles, so I've been busy. Here's some stuff I meant to blog. - I met Harry Shearer - star of "Spinal Tap" and "A Mighty Wind" and voice of a gazillion Simpsons characters. I was at Jammin' Java in Vienna, and a singer-songwriter type named Judith Owen was playing piano, accompanied on bass by ... Harry Shearer. Of all the random occurances in my life, that about takes the random cookie. During the set Shearer has a solo bit, which he uses to play "Loco Man," a song by the fake "Folksmen" band in "A Mighty Wind." This is good, because when I talk to a celebrity I always want to mention a subject they hear less about. For example, if I met the RZA, I'd talk less about "36 Chambers" and more about what he thought about the availibility of Shaw bros. movies. Anyway. A while after the set is over, after most of the crowd is gone, I amble over to the stage where Shearer is chatting with a guy holding a Spinal Tap DVD. I figure if this guy just buttonholed him to get a signature, I can chat, too. "Hey, Mr. Shearer, I just wanted to thank you for playing 'Loco Man'." Shearer laughs. "Oh, thank you! Did you get to see us when we played the 9:30 club?" "No, I don't think I'd moved to town yet! Were you switching off bands?" "Oh yeah, we came on as the Folksmen, and Mitch and Mickey came on and the New Main Street Singers came on, and we ended with everyone coming onstage." "Oh, I'm sorry I missed that. I love all the music from that movie. You actually got me into folk music I hadn't heard of before, like Ian and Sylvia and Gordon Lightfoot." "That's great!" "I'm actually a huge fan of all your stuff, all the Christopher Guest movies. Just keep doing exactly what you're doing, it's great." "I'll try! Thanks! Nice to meet you!" Sharing this story with some friends, I learned that Shearer has a reputation as a dick. That may be true if he's forced into a junket or something, but if you catch him playing music he's the nicest guy in the world. - I purchased "Chappelle's Show" season 2 on DVD. The reviewer at USAT had a copy of this lying around since early April, which was really starting to weigh on me, but I caved and bought it with an estimated seventy billion other people in the Tysons Corner Best Buy. (One guy bought three copies.) I'm one of the holdouts who thinks season one was about as good as this season - c'mon, nothing is funnier than the Fisticuffs sketch. ("Turn my headphones UP! Turn them shits up!") But it's definitely glorious to finally have the skits from season 2 - black Bush, Rick James, "is Wayne Brady gonna have to choke a bitch?" and so on. The DVD insert telling me to "watch new episodes Tuesday 10 pm!" is definitely bittersweet. - I saw "Star Wars III" and "The Aviator." I've got epics up to (holds hand at forehead level) here.|W|P|111708295499397029|W|P||W|P|5/20/2005 11:31:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Moviedom I am still, still catching up with the films of 2004, and I saw a new 2005 movie, all in the last few days. Saw - Excellent first 2/3, absolutely irritating final 1/3. This suffers from the "Face/Off Conundrum" - the director (or whoever), having a handful of cool final-scene ideas, is unable to pick one and ends up piling climax on top of climax, until the heroes have blown six attempts to take out the villains and we just don't CARE anymore. Outside of that, this was better than I expected. Director James Wan borrows a lot of tricks from "Seven" but applies them to a more slasher-iffic horror movie, lingering over murder scenes, devising creepy atmospheres for characters to get lost in. Acting is awful, but the movie passes the horror-film acid test - the grisliest scenes really burrow into your medulla. Kinsey - It's weird remembering how much buzz this got. That was probably a combination of entertainment writers' (and wacko conservative groups') interest in a "moral values" hook after the election, as well as the fact we had very few Oscar-bait movies in 2004. In a better year this would have flown under the radar. It's a very attractive biopic, gripping for parts, but mostly rote. The performances are uniformly stellar. Liam Neeson starts awkwardly (his accent doesn't fit), but as Kinsey becomes more popular and more stressed, he shrinks to fit the role. Laura Linney communicates at least four times as much as her dialogue allows. My single favorite role was probably William Sadler's cameo as Kenneth Braun, the sexual predator who gives Kinsey reams of research after demonstrating how he can ejaculate within ten seconds of whipping out his penis. But the plot gets less and less interesting as Kinsey gets famous - the part where he's travelling the country to research his first book is just as dry as such a scene can be. Odd, because "Gods and Monsters" was so lively. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - For all the lousy reviews, this is actually as good an adaptation of a comic novel as I've seen in years. It strikes just the right tone, alternating between funny scenes and cartoon "pages" from the Hitchhiker's guide, to move the plot along without missing any gags. There are whole scenes (like the sperm whale) lifted from the book, which would be utterly jarring in a normal movie, but gel nicely here.|W|P|111664764234740305|W|P||W|P|5/20/2005 11:05:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|You said the magic word! As Julian put it so well last year, dowdification - grabbing quotes out of context to bash your opponent - was a sorry mainstay of the presidential race. I had hoped it would end when the election did. But the conditions for it haven't changed - there's an ever-increasing amount of bloggers and hacks who think people saying mean things is worth talking and talking and fucking talking about. Often it's not as much taking things out of context as it is taking phrases from 2000-word speeches and raising hell about them. Exhibit A is this Santorum thing. Senators are currently debating judicial nominees with the usual melange of talking points and goofy visual aids. During his speech, Rick Santorum reached for an analogy to demonstrate how dumb Democrats' talking points were. So he said "The audacity of some members to stand up and say, 'How dare you break this rule!' It's the equivalent of Adolf Hitler in 1942 saying, 'I'm in Paris. How dare you invade me. How dare you bomb my city. It's mine.'" Clearly Santorum wasn't saying "Democrats are like Hitler." He was trying to think of a way of saying "you just made up this rule, and you're pretending it's always been around!" and he grasped for a historical metaphor everyone in this History Channel-infected age would grasp. But he mentioned Hitler, so every liberal with a grudge saw an attempt to "gotcha" him, and they took it. The same thing is happening with Howard Dean, which, let's face it, was damn predictable. For some reason Ron Fournier thinks it's incredibly fascinating that in a stemwinder at a Dem fundraiser, Dean said DeLay should "go back to Houston where he can serve his jail sentence." As Fournier puts it, "the Texas Republican has not been charged with a crime, but Dean said he would not apologize." Seriously, who gives a shit? This is how normal people talk, isn't it? I certainly hear this talk all the time about the non-convicted-of-crimes Bill and Hillary Clinton. I sure enough hear people call their politicians "crooks," or samesuch mean names. I do understand how this talk can piss people off. But then I'll see it bandied about by Robert Novak or Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. Hannity, who's never heard a "Ted Kennedy murders people" joke that he wouldn't tell. Limbaugh, who called Tom Daschle "el Diablo." Novak, who's ... fucking Robert Novak. These people aren't actually offended or convinced Dean has stepped over the line. They just pretend to be offended to push their political ball a little further. Please stop it, everyone. You're embarrassing yourselves.|W|P|111664615352779178|W|P||W|P|5/20/2005 12:08:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Godwin Strikes Back I've heard all the commentary about "Star Wars" as anti-Bush propaganda. I've even seen the MoveOn/"Star Wars" ad. (To imitate Democrats paraphrasing Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "MoveOn, I beg you not to help me!") But ... lacking Michael Medved's Judeo-psychic powers and not knowing Lucas's own intentions when he wrote this story, I think the media/politicos are pulling a postmodern violation of Godwin. That is, they're assuming a story that resembles the Third Reich is actually about Bush. When the first of the new trilogy opened in 1999, I figured the political side of the plot was a Hitler allegory. To recap: Scheming Senator Palpaltine, who's precipitated a crisis in the Galactic Republic, gets the Senate to vote him Chancellor with increased powers. This is kind of Hitler doggerel - Hitler was a nowhere politician until the economy crashed and his Nazis started winning the 2nd-greatest amount of seats in the Reichstag. Hitler cleverly picked his battles and manipulated the Reichstag until Kurt von Schleicher fucked up the governing coalition and Hindenberg gave Hitler the chancellorship. This is very well known, and it's what I thought of when I saw "The Phantom Menace." The new movie's political plot seems to mirror the Reichstag fire and the subsequent granting of Hitler's dictatorial power. I mean, the Third Reich is automatically what I think of when I see an allegory about a bad guy taking over an empire. Dunno why everyone has agreed that now that allegory = Bush.|W|P|111656328628255357|W|P||W|P|5/19/2005 12:09:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Facts? Facts are for communists! Before I tried to parse this whole Patrick Hynes column, I came upon this bit.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of Americans below 125% of the poverty line was 21.3% when Lyndon Johnson's Great Society war began in 1966.
The Great Society "war" on poverty began in 1966? Really?
Because it is right, because it is wise, and because, for the first time in our history, it is possible to conquer poverty, I submit, for the consideration of the Congress and the country, the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. The Act does not merely expand old programs or improve what is already being done. It charts a new course. It strikes at the causes, not just the consequences of poverty. - Lyndon Johnson, March 16, 1964
I think I'm going to write a column about how Bill Clinton triggered the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1993. UPDATE: Heh. I made the mistake of reposting this on Hynes's blog, and he and his commenters go on a tear against me (I'm alternately called a "geek" and a "dickhead"). In Hynes' defense, I went out of my way to say his stuff was "worthless" as long as it contained factual gymnastics like this, which was rude. I really have nothing against him - snarky-and-oft-misguided commentary on articles is what this blog does. ("Does best"? Let's stick with "does.") I get called on it all the time. Usually my critics use more grown-up insults than "dickhead," though.|W|P|111651926225055773|W|P||W|P|5/19/2005 11:43:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Dean-bashing It's perfectly all right to point out that Howard Dean makes over-the-top statements, but this Robert Novak column holds him to a bizzare standard.
He has described the Republican leadership, in various venues, as ''evil,'' ''corrupt'' and ''brain-dead.'' He has called Sen. Rick Santorum, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, a ''liar.''
Novak links all these quotes together, boom-boom-boom, but the Santorum quote was by no means over the top. Here's the context. On (ironically enough) Meet the Press in February, Santorum had this exchange with Tim Russert.
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Santorum, your Republican colleague from Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter, said the president's elimination of federal subsidies for Amtrak is unacceptable. SEN. SANTORUM: Yeah. MR. RUSSERT: Do you share that view? SEN. SANTORUM: I would agree with--it's not... MR. RUSSERT: So you're going to fight it? SEN. SANTORUM: It's not acceptable to me, either.
Santorum parsed the question, but gave the impression he would stand with Arlen Specter and oppose Amtrak cuts. Then he voted to cut Amtrak. This became a not-minor story in PA media for a few days. When Howard Dean came to PA in march, he picked up on it.
Dean, a former Vermont governor and former Democratic presidential candidate, called Santorum, a Republican who is up for reelection in Pennsylvania in 2006, a "liar" and "right-winger" who actually lives in Virginia. "He doesn't tell the truth," Dean told a gathering of about 150 at Bluezette on Market Street. Dean said Santorum had voted to kill Amtrak, an important service in Pennsylvania, and had then turned around and written a piece for The Inquirer saying he supported Amtrak.
That's the context in which Dean called Santorum a liar. I think it's totally fair. The usual gang of idiots have tried to make something out of the remark, but it hasn't had any salience in PA, where people know the context and Santorum has been falling in the polls. And really - calling a politician a "liar" is beyond the pale? I'd like a refund on the 1990s, please. This irritates me because it embodies the faux-controversy I hate in mainstream political reporting. I'd be surprised if half of Dean's MTP interview isn't devoted to words and sentences he's uttered over the last five months. Who cares, especially when they're likely as robbed of context as Novak's snit here?|W|P|111651878105983841|W|P||W|P|5/19/2005 12:48:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Factoid heaven I'm always referring to old election results, usually when someone starts arguing that the GOP is destined for a permanent (or multi-decade) majority. But I didn't have a good source for these results until now, when I googled upon wikipedia's list. Wikipedia has the results of every House and Senate election - just replace "House" with "Senate" or "2004" with another year to get them. The election I always bring up, 1964, is here and here. As you can see, the Democrats won a 68-32 Senate majority and 295-140 House majority, mostly thanks to the meltdown of GOP candidate Barry Goldwater. Two years later the GOP won 47 House seats and four Senate seats and elected governors like George Romney and Ronald Reagan. Obviously our electorate is less fluid now (for one thing our congressional districts each represent 50% more people), and the South has gone from a Democratic stronghold to a Republican one. But you're still nuts if you write off one of our political parties, or predict eternal greatness for one of them. (Oh, and if Bush catches bin Laden and creates peace in the Middle East? That'll be great for Democrats. Some of the most devasting defeats for the incumbent party have come after they win wars and the corresponding issues are taken off the table. 1920 - Wilson wins World War I, Republican landslide. 1946 - Truman wins World War II, Republican landslide. If I were a Steve Sailer type and I liked to name sorta-trends, I'd call this the "normalcy effect.")|W|P|111647892021840093|W|P||W|P|5/19/2005 12:47:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Let it be noted This blog endorses Harold "Bo" Bice for American Idol 2005.|W|P|111647812888131773|W|P||W|P|5/17/2005 12:45:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Gay tyranny Whither the beleagured "pro-family" activists of Massachusetts?
Brian Camenker of the Article 8 Alliance says since the MSJC legalized same-sex unions, Massachusetts has become overrun by homosexuality. "Even driver's licenses now, when you renew them, have a question such as, 'Has your sex changed?'" he notes.
Wow, that's a great argument against gay marriage - "It makes going to the DMV unpleasant!" Also, check out this *ahem* USA Today op-ed on Massachusetts after gay marriage, as well as this excellent Jim Antle column. I was a gay marriage skeptic when this whole weird movement began, but it really is looking harmless as it goes into effect.|W|P|111634858623486887|W|P||W|P|5/17/2005 12:14:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Stupid and evil The Little Green Footballs commenters are angsting about George Galloway's appearence in DC, and got especially upset when he said "100,000" Iraqis have died since the war began. Later, he said that the oil-for-food program led to the death of a million Iraqis. And they say this
:#95 Quana 5/17/2005 09:07AM PDT Why aren't the Senators debunking this 'million dead Iraqis' lie? #96 artboy 5/17/2005 09:07AM PDT Jeeze back to the blame the USA and UN for killing children. #118 BabbaZee 5/17/2005 09:11AM PDT It went from 1 million to 100K in under 5 minutes
How stupid do you have to be to confuse deaths under sanctions with deaths after the start of the war? Stupid enough for LGF, I suppose. I don't have time to argue about the sanctions, so let me point you to this excellent Matt Welch article, point out that they were the main reason I supported the war, and remind you that even Michael Moore was against them.|W|P|111634747101110089|W|P||W|P|5/16/2005 02:00:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Wherever I may roam I'll be in Berkeley, CA from June 16 to 20. Apart from a 2001 conference in Scottsdale, AZ and a Disneyland trip when I was 6, I have never been west of Wisconsin, so this is a big deal. Contact me if you'll want to hang out.|W|P|111626672063209658|W|P||W|P|5/15/2005 10:20:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Liberal Well, damn. According to Pew's test, I am a liberal. I don't really understand how, since I said I'm religious, I trust corporations and I favor military spending. Perhaps it's my love of homosexuality?|W|P|111621031666424987|W|P||W|P|5/14/2005 10:57:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Requiem for a hottie Yeah, so ... when did Lindsay Lohan turn into Joan Rivers? UPDATE: I should've guessed that Defamer was on to this. And isn't this a little bit awkward? A good portion of the "Mean Girls" era Lohan hype, exemplified by that SNL appearence, was devoted to her un-Disney voluptuous figure. A followup appearence, I imagine, is going to involve a lot of double-takes and gritting of teeth.|W|P|111608269013672916|W|P||W|P|5/13/2005 03:20:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|iPod The miracle of shuffle has just produced possibly the strangest one-two musical punch I've ever heard - from Can's "Augmn" to The Crests's "16 Candles." In honor of this, how about a Friday iPod shuffle? 1.)Echo and the Bunnymen - "Rescue" 2.)Harry Nilsson - "Who Done It?" 3.)Aimee Mann - "I Should've Known" 4.)Randy Newman - "Real Emotional Girl" 5.)Roy Orbison - "Walk On" 6.)Rush - "New World Man" 7.)James - "Ring the Bells" 8.)The Beatles - "Day Tripper" 9.)The Arcade Fire - "Wake Up" 10.)R.E.M. - "Lotus" Wow, that turned out way more Aryan than I wanted or expected. Let's try a brand new shuffle. 1.)Pet Shop Boys - "The Truck-Driver and His Mate" 2.)Paul McCartney & Wings - "Jet" 3.)Rod Stewart - "Reason to Believe" 4.)Linda Ronstadt - "Still Within the Sound of My Voice" 5.)Robert Pollard - "Pop Zeus" 6.)My Bloody Valentine - "Only Shallow" 7.)Dramarama - "Incredible" 8.)The Stone Roses - "I Wanna Be Adored" 9.)Adam and the Ants - "Stand and Deliver" 10.)Chemical Brothers - "The Test" Shit, what's up with this? I spent 45 minutes yesterday adding Wagner overtures and Sugar Hill singles to the damn thing and this is what I get?|W|P|111601247097576056|W|P||W|P|5/13/2005 02:04:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|The iPod has landed Well, I got my refurbished iPod 8 days (that's including Saturday and Sunday) after mailing it to iPodMechanics. It's buffed and working perfectly. I'd recommend this service to anyone.|W|P|111596433745386014|W|P||W|P|5/11/2005 07:13:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|I don't want to go off on a rant here, because I can't anymore Good news: CNBC cancelled Dennis Miller. Bad news: They aren't cancelling the rest of their seweriffic evening lineup. I mean, an extra nightly airing of "Mad Money"? Do CNBC's viewers (plural?) really need two hours of a sweaty guy yelling at them to buy AIG or whatever?|W|P|111585330974183297|W|P||W|P|5/11/2005 05:37:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Blitzed Is this a fucking joke?
CNN will debut a three-hour, late-afternoon show hosted by Wolf Blitzer that will replace "Crossfire" and "Inside Politics" sometime this summer.
Three hours? Three? I mean ... holy ... just ... Jesus. I give you Matt Taibbi.
The Russians used to use bakery trucks, big gray panel trucks marked "Bread" on the sides; victims would be rounded up in the middle of the night and taken for one last ride through the darkened streets. The war would almost be worth it just to see Wolf Blitzer pounding away at the inside of a Pepperidge Farm truck, tearfully confessing and vowing to "take it all back."
|W|P|111584757473808093|W|P||W|P|5/11/2005 01:12:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Thoughts upon the evacuation of the White House and Capitol Are all the brides accounted for?|W|P|111583159962489524|W|P||W|P|5/11/2005 12:44:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Math is hard I'm not loving John Podhoretz's stint on The Corner. Right now he's got this:
HARRY REID AND BUSH THE LOSER [John Podhoretz] Harry Reid vote total in 2004 = 490,232 Bush vote total in 2004 = 62,040,606 Posted at 12:39 PM
What response can one give this but "Deeeeuuuuuhhhhr"? Bush ran in 50 states and got more votes than a dude who ran in one state. Matter of fact, Bush got 71,000-odd LESS votes than Reid in that one state, Nevada. If you're going to start a pissing contest, make sure you're aiming at the right toilet. Alternatively, don't start a pissing contest.|W|P|111583017736679012|W|P||W|P|5/11/2005 12:06:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Holy crap July 26, baby. |W|P|111578443077764090|W|P||W|P|5/10/2005 10:10:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Governating This is really cool - the SurveyUSA polling group has polled all 50 states to get approval ratings for governors. It's a little more grist for the Jeb Bush rant I shot off yesterday, about how the media and consultants are weird about who they decide to make superstars out of. It's also cool to see how divergent minds can be in red and blue states. So what do people think of the governors tipped as possible presidential candidates? (Democrats in italics.) CA - Arnold Schwarzenegger. 40-56 approval. That's pretty bad. But when you consider he only won with 48% of the vote in the first place, it's odd to think how much presidential hype he's gotten. FL - Jeb Bush. 49-46 approval. If I'm not mistaken Jeb took a poll hit for intervening in the Terri Schiavo case, then compounded it by not "saving" her and thereby pissing off religious conservatives. It'll be interesting to see if the Florida Democrats can actually stage a comeback next year. MA - Mitt Romney. 41-51 approval. Again, it looks like he's suffered from his political straddling as he sizes up the national stage. MI - Jennifer Granholm. 36-57 approval. Goddamn! Looks aren't everything. MN - Tim Pawlenty. 54-38 approval. Interesting, since I think Minnesota Republicans were blown away in 2004 - Bush lost the state and the GOP lost lots of state leg seats. MS - Haley Barbour. 37-55 approval. Wow, in Mississippi? That's a debacle. NM - Bill Richardson. 54-39 approval. Pretty good in a state Bush picked up last year. I'd be stunned if he isn't on one end of the ticket in 2008. NY - George Pataki. 36-56 approval. Moving on ... PA - Edward Rendell. 48-43 approval. Sort of surprising. I blame Tom Brady. VA - Mark Warner. 55-31 approval. Somewhere Grover Norquist is crying.|W|P|111577852815841511|W|P||W|P|5/10/2005 11:33:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|iPod update That iPod rehab store I sent my 20gig to just emailed me to confirm that they shipped it back. I expect to get it back by Friday. Feel the excitement!|W|P|111573935516096407|W|P||W|P|5/10/2005 12:30:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Still alive Sorry, I had an unexpectedly good weekend and saw no need to blog. Before I go back to listen to my new toy, may I ask whey I'm still hearing people talk about Jeb Bush running for president? Here we go.
Outsiders think it's silly to even consider that another Bush--this time Florida Gov. Jeb Bush --should try to follow his brother into the White House. But many White House insiders think Jeb is the best bet to carry on Dubya's agenda and beat Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Who thinks this? He's not. Look, typically you don't want to daydream about presidential candidates unless they stand head and shoulders above the other contenders. Colin Powell in 1996 is the best example of this - he was the only Republican who actually outpolled Clinton. Jeb Bush, however, polls worse than most likely 2008 GOP contenders. According to Fox, he trails Hillary 46-35, compared to 40-33 for Bill Frist and 41-35 for George Mfing Pataki. According to Marist, he trails Hillary 55-38, compared to two Republicans who actually lead her, John McCain (50-42) and Rudy Giuliani (47-36). According to the Hotline, he trails Hillary 46-37. Strangely, he polls best in Stan Greenberg's Democracy Corps survey, where he trails Hillary 50-47. Of course this doesn't mean Bush would lose - any 2008 GOP candidate merely needs to hold the Bush states and would scrape by if he lost 16 electoral votes - say Colorado and Iowa. But it does mean there's no reason to daydream about his candidacy. He's squarely in the middle pack of GOP contenders.|W|P|111570044297008436|W|P||W|P|5/05/2005 04:56:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Liveblogging the British election BBC feed on C-Span now. Let's see how long I can keep this. 4:57 - Punditry. Whee! America needs its own Jeremy Paxman. 4:59 - Peter Snow is "pushing the frontiers of Czech technology" in his queerer-than-usual "road to No. 10" presentation. 5:00 - Exit poll: Labour 356, Conservative 209, Lib Dem 53. Popular vote is Labour 37%, Conservative 33%, Lib Dem 22%. 5:04 - This defies those "election calculators" by the way. This share of the vote was expected to give Labour more like 370 seats. 5:09 - Commentary now coalescing around the "Blair's lost his magic" wisdom. Although it's worth mentioning that if the BBC's prediction holds out, Blair's victory will be the same as Thatcher's third victory in 1987. Thatcher's lead over Labour was 376-229, or 147 seats. 5:17 - Ah, I notice other websites are spinning this as a Blair defeat. Which is kind of is. 5:19 - It's worth mentioning that in 1992, the BBC's exit poll was hysterically wrong and predicted a hung parliament of Conservatives 301, Labour 298, and Liberal Democrats 24. The actual result was 336-271-20, and the trend didn't become clear until the Basildon results after midnight. Of course, no one knows where the BBC sampled its respondants, whether they lied to avoid the shame of voting Tory, or whether they lied and said "Lib Dem" when they actually voted Labour, or vice versa. And their methods have improved since 1992. 5:24 - All eyes on Sunderland South. If Labour's vote is under 17,000, then either turnout is down or they're taking a beating. Or both. 5:36 - There's chatter that the Conservatives have taken Dartford, which would require a 4.5% swing. Of course, you could do that if a few thousand Labour voters stayed home or voted Lib Dem. 5:44 - Sunderland South. BNP, 1,166. Lib 4,492. Labour 17,982. Conservative 6,923. Monster Raving Loonies 149. So, the BNP doubled its vote (adding the UK Independence Party, who didn't run this time, but scored 470 last time). Lib Dems are up around 800 votes. Tories up 700, Labour down 2000. That makes for Labour 59%, Con 22%, Lib Dem 3%, or a 4% swing to the Tories. So the BBC's poll looks right. However, Sunderland South was one seat where Labour voters could cast a protest with no fear whatsoever - the tactical vote doesn't come into play here. 6:13 - Bugger. Jim Geraghty is hearing that the Oona King-George Galloway race is close. 6:25 - It is interesting what a difference expectations make. Tories are currently excited about possibly - possibly - getting as many seats as they got in their 1945 crushing defeat. 6:31 - A few more declarations in safe Labour seats, with Labour votes going to the Lib Dems and Tories barely picking up 1-2% gains. Again, if this holds up in marginal seats, Labour is getting hammered. If Labour's GOTV and tactical voting campaigns worked in those seats, they will probably outperform the exit polls. 6:45 - Waiting on Torbay, a South East seat that the Tories lost to the Lib Dems in 1997. If the Tories take it, they have probably staged an effective rearguard action against the Lib Dems that the exit polls (and swingometers) have not detected yet. 6:54 - Interesting. The BBC has been interviewing hip young people in Islington - the home of New Labour, the equivilent of our Upper East Side. This was an area where pundits expected Labourites to cast Lib Dem protest votes. The interviewer couldn't find anyone who actually swung that way, but a few Labourites who admitted they flirted with a protest vote before going Labour. 7:14 - The BBC keeps mentioning George Galloway, saying he's "ahead" in Bethnel Green & Bow, but a left-wing magazine's blog calls bullshit. 7:21 - BBC reports that David Davis, a South East Tory who was targeted by the Lib Dems, is confident of victory. That would be interesting - this is a seat where the Labour vote has probably fallen by 7 or 8 percent, and if the Lib Dems hold their advantage from the night's early declarations, they should get a 5 percent boost. If they can't beat Davis, well, dang. 7:31 - This is very, very worrisome. The British National Party is winning hundreds and thousands of votes in safe industrial seats - they're set to win their best results since World War II. Oh, did I mention? They're nazis. 7:35 - Conservatives win Putney! Labour down 9%, Lib Dem up 3%, Tories up 4%. If that holds for many marginals, the exit polls will bear out. UPDATE - Obviously I left for dinner and drinks instead of updating the blog. Happily, it looks my final prediction of Labour 365, Tories 200, Lib Dems 54 is almost on the money. It just turns out that two safe Labour seats went to leftist candidates (in Wales in London) who will vote with Labour anyway, and the Lib Dems are set to take 5 or 6 more Labour seats than I expected. The obvious conclusion - the new Parliament is more radical than the last one. The 45-odd missing Labour MPs would have been center-left - they have been replaced by either left-wing independents, left-wing Lib Dems, or center-right Tories. Great Britain's party of the Right will have barely 200 seats, out of 649, in the new Parliament. Imagine our politics if the Senate had only 30 Democrats. The radical shift will continue when Labour bows to a leadership election and replaces the unpopular centrist Tony Blair with the popular left-winger Gordon Brown. Brown isn't a firebreathing lefty like the sadly returning George Galloway is - he's more like Lula in Brazil. His stated aim for Labour is to transform the UK into a Swedish-style social democratic state. Fortunately for him, he will have an orderly transfer of power and a working left-wing parliamentary majority until at least 2009. The conservatives, meanwhile, are actually staged for a comeback in the next decade. Unfortunately, their support in the country has barely increased - they improved their popular vote by 1%, and won around 20 of their new seats only because Labour voters split their support and let the Tory in with 38%-45% of the vote. But they have three things going for them. First, they chose excellent young candidates to fight their new seats, and they'll be loyal parliamentarians and party boosters. Second, Michael Howard is resigning, creating the opening for a new, charasmatic leader. A HUGE part of the Tories' problem over the last eight years was their inability to elect a leader who you'd let into a dark room with your children. A charasmatic leader, even if he doesn't reform the party, will compete well against the hated Blair or the popular-but-stolid Brown. Third, the economy is probably slowing down right now. Labour is headed for a rocky period, and the Tories can probably take advantage of that. But I have to think Labour is favored for a fourth term. The Iraq issue was a one-time thing, and without it Labour would have lost only 20-25 seats. Many of the Tories' gains can be won at the next election, if Brown stays popular and Labour recovers the voters who protested because of Iraq.|W|P|111532662081056080|W|P||W|P|5/04/2005 06:40:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|British elections I may regret this, but I'm going to revise my predictions for the British elections, which are taking place in 8 hours or so. Labour has run a near-perfect campaign, and the Tories have run (surprise!) a crappy one, peaking with Michael Howard's Kerryesque fumbling over whether or not he stood by his vote to go to war with Iraq. I now predict Labour 365, Tories 200, Lib Dems 54. It should be easy to tell early on if I'm right or if I pulled this out of my ear. Typically, the first seat to declare results is Sunderland South, which Labour will win. In 2001, they beat the Tories by 64% to 20%, with Lib Dems scoring 12%. Now, if Labour's vote sinks to 58% or so, and the Tories get up to 25%, my prediction will bear out. If there's a strong Lib Dem vote - say 20% - there will probably be a protest vote across the country. That won't necessarily hurt Labour, though - there are probably as many seats where 5% of Labour voters voting LD would put the LD over the top as there are seats where that many protest votes would spoil the race and elect a Tory. In the 1992 election, the outcome became obvious when the Tories, who everyone expected to lose, managed to hold onto the seat in Basildon. I'm not sure if there's a "Basildon" in this election, but do listen for the result in Wimbledon. This is a seat that flipped to Labour in 1997, where they hold a 46-37 majority today thanks to Liberal Democratic voters who vote tactically for Labour. If the Tories win this seat - it wound only require a few thousand new Tory votes and Lib Dem voters "coming home" - then Blair's heading for defeat or a low majority. If Labour holds it, they're doing at least as well as my prediction.|W|P|111524983009552665|W|P||W|P|5/04/2005 12:39:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Godspeed, little doodle After verifying the service's validity, I decided to send my iPod to iPodMechanics.com. The li'l Pod was just running up against my perfectionism. Months back, I bought a rubber slipcover for it that included a suction-cup-like bit which adhered itself permanently to the iPod's back. Later - I'm still not sure when or how - the iPod developed a weird dent on the bottom-left of the back. The dent didn't seem to affect memory or battery power, but it was damn annoying, because it prevented the white iPod cover from fitting properly. A few times a day, I would have to *click* the cover back down into place over the dented bit. It was just a real irritating situation, and I opted to pay this company $60 (including shipping) to replace the iPod's silver back. Supposedly I'll get it back in 5-8 days.|W|P|111522517776728490|W|P||W|P|5/04/2005 12:16:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|There's wrong and there's wrong and then there's this Shudder.|W|P|111518022310339400|W|P||W|P|5/03/2005 11:30:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|True that (All praise unto Channing Lowe of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel)|W|P|111517750114699132|W|P||W|P|5/03/2005 01:47:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|If wishes were Gallups Eric Pfieffer, you rascal you.
When asked which Social Security plan Congress should pass, a Republican plan leads a Democrat plan 27 to 22 percent.
The sensible reader may ask, "Why do those numbers only add up to 49 percent?" The answer ...
Asked what action this year would be best for them in the long run, 27% choose passing a Republican plan, 22% choose a Democratic plan — and 46% choose no plan this year.
As the GOP helpfully reminds us many times each day (if you get press releases), the Democratic plan is to not pass the Bush plan. So look at the poll again. 27% of people favor a dynamic Bush/Republican plan to reform Social Security. 68% of people want to "refuse to offer up any ideas or to put any proposals on the table," to paraphrase Tracey Schmitt.|W|P|111514301315251586|W|P||W|P|5/03/2005 10:28:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Who wants to see the Decemberists? I've got an extra ticket to the Decemberists show on Friday, but I'm not sure which of my friends are fans of the band. Please contact me at daveweigel at gmail dot com if you 1)know me and 2)want to go.|W|P|111513059321163324|W|P||W|P|5/02/2005 12:24:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Badge As of 9:30 am, I realized that I don't know where my office ID badge is. This feels weird. It's so ... cold. UPDATE: Found.|W|P|111505111435445384|W|P||W|P|5/02/2005 10:30:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Kurtz Taking a brief respite from beating gay people with sticks, Stanley Kurtz has a sniffy series of posts on Social Security reform in the Corner. The general theme is the coming world-historical triumph of George Bush II.
I’d say the president’s proposal is a stunning success. He’s rightly being praised on substance, and pressure on the Democrats to stop obstructing and finally make a deal is mounting.
His evidence for this is - a poll? A study by congressmen? Nope. Columns by Michael Kinsley and The Washington Post. Of course, the Post has favored some kind of Social Security privatization and angrily opposed Democrats since day one, but Kurtz is on a roll.
The Democrats, on the other hand, have taken the easy way out. Desperate to recoup their position after a disastrous election, they decided to refuse all cooperation to the president on Social Security. Their plan was to electrocute the president by juicing up the third rail with AARP-sponsored televised biographies of Franklin Roosevelt and such.
What? There have been two major televised biographies of FDR recently. The History Channel ran "A Presidency Revealed," something of a sequel to their JFK special (same title), and tied in to a special-issue Life magazine commemorating the 60th anniversary of FDR's death. According to THC, AARP had nothing to do with the broadcast. The other major FDR telepic is "Warm Springs," an HBO movie that premiered yesterday. HBO has an interview with the movie's screenwriter.
Franklin went to Warm Springs, October 4th, 1924. And we started shooting October 5th, 2004, so we started 80 years to the day he arrived at Warm Springs.
Wow! Democrats and AARP travelled back in time to create a movie that, when released, would provide ammo for their cause when the hour was darkest. This may not be the most important point, but I think it underscores how out of it Kurtz is. There are real ways to sense the tenor of the Social Security debate. Even if you discount the polls, which have universally recorded increasing opposition to the Bush plan, you can look at the way the pro-privatization rhetoric has been scaling back, or how Republicans are splitting over the issue. Just watching the usual talking headery on TV in the last few days, I've seen Sam Brownback and George Allen both punt the "means-testing" solution that Bush proposed and Kurtz is so impressed by. But I realized before this that Bush was going to lose, when Rep. Clay Shaw told me that, because AARP was opposing them, carve-out accounts were not going to happen. So I really don't know what Kurtz is talking about. Based on his flawed reference to the FDR movies, I'm not sure he does either. He DID identity a great conservative issue with gay marriage, but a stopped clock is right etc etc. Also, what ever happened to that anti-AARP group USA Next? Have they been silently plotting a new attack since their gay marriage/troops ad backfired? I haven't heard anything about AARP gaining/losing membership, which I think was the point of the endevour.|W|P|111504712846408054|W|P||W|P|5/02/2005 12:19:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Red-Headed Danger This makes me so damn angry, if the bill doesn't pass.|W|P|111500761048260400|W|P||W|P|