12/31/2005 02:01:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|I'm out of town for New Year's. Y'all enjoy yourselves.|W|P|113605569070760841|W|P|Happy new year|W|P|12/30/2005 04:48:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Everyone else is making 2006 predictions, so why can't I?
- Bill O'Reilly will lose his radio show after negotiating the on-air execution of ACLU head Anthony Romero. Ratings for his 8 pm FOX show edge up 15%.
- Peter Jackson will find donors shutting their wallets to him after the disappointing performance of "King Kong" casts doubt on the viability of his new project, a 6-hour biopic on New Zealand poppers Crowded House.
- Members of the Thomas More Law Center and Young Conservatives of Pennsylvania chain themselves to polling booths to prevent the defeat of Sen. Rick Santorum. They are ultimately unsuccessful.
- Scandal rocks the Senate when South Korean scientists reveal they had cloned Sen. Bill Frist and installed him as majority leader in an international plot to humiliate the Republican party. However, independent investigations expose the Korean claim as a hoax. They created George Pataki, not Bill Frist.
- After two months registering the network's all-time highest ratings, Keith Olbermann's MSNBC show is cancelled. Tucker Carlson's "The Situation" expands to two hours.
- In a surprising upset, New York Republican Ed Cox polls third in the race against Sen. Hillary Clinton. Nation Magazine editor Katrina vanden Heuvel, running as antiwar Green/Workers Family Party candidate, comes in second with 9% of the vote.
- In midterm elections Democrats win the House, the Senate, and for some reason the chairmanship of NASA. FOX News devotes the following month to a telethon aimed at getting Sen. Joe Lieberman to become a Republican already. He does, but Democrats retain control of the Senate when Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens immolates himself in front of the Sierra Club's headquarters.|W|P|113598010095153371|W|P|2006: A look back|W|P|12/31/2005 06:12:00 AM|W|P|Steve Casburn|W|P|I didn't bother with "King Kong", but I would pay first-run prices to see a 6-hour biopic on Crowded House.
Don't dream it's over, Peter Jackson! Don't you dare dream it's over!12/28/2005 10:59:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Forty-two movies this year. Around 10 less than I wanted to and 10 more than I needed. (I mean, "The Ring Two?") I missed some big ones (Kong), and likely Oscar nominees (Munich) which I may catch next week, but I lost my mojo for going to the theatre in the last month. The high point, when I moved into my new apartment and did double-features every weekend, is responsible for the record-setting size of this list.
Not a terrible movie, like last year's bottom-dweller "Van Helsing." Just a pedestrian, hammy, and low-IQ romantic comedy. The a-plot, involving Will Smith's lunkish courting of Eva Mendes, was just stupid, but Kevin James' b-plot was cute.
41. The Ring Two
Mostly unscary horror movie which failed to recapture almost anything that made the first film work.
40. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants
There are far, far worse chick flicks for the *NSYNC set. "Now And Then," for example. But the four plotlines here are as disparite in quality as the three bears' porridge. America Ferrara's story, wherein her father is marrying into a distaff, waspish family, is quite moving. Blake Lively's plot (she's recently lost her mother and is coping by pursuing a cute boy at soccer camp) is occasionally touching, occasionally just dumb. Alexis Bledel's Greek romance is silly; Amber Tamblyn's friendship with a cancer patient is mawkish.
39. Diary of a Mad Black Woman
Enjoyably unclassifiable. Star/writer Tyler Perry (who was inspired to write plays by an episode of Oprah) mashes a cursin', sexin', stereotypin' Chitlin comedy with a glacial marital drama. I liked the comedy, and not the rest.
38. Margaret Cho: Assassin
Not as bad as its reputation. Cho doesn't actually spend the whole show whining about George Bush and lecturing us on politics. She tells jokes. Unfortunately, most of them fall flat.
37. The Dukes of Hazzard
One of the stranger TV adaptations to come down the pike. Given a very marketable, red state-friendly property, producers recruited the Vermont comedy troupe Broken Lizard (makers of "Super Troopers" and "Club Dread") to Yankify and yuppify the humor. Thus, we get jabs at the confederate flag and Jeb Bush (one joke: "Fix it? You couldn't fix an election if your brother was the governor!") mashed together with a plot about moonshine and drag racing. Some funny moments, though.
36. Fantastic Four
Not as bad as it could have been (see the unreleased 1990s Roger Corman treatment if you want "bad"), but a lot stupider than it needed to be. Jessica Alba is a genetics expert! Dr. Doom is made out of medal! Product placements fly faster than the Human Torch!
35. Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic
An hour of 90%-bullseye standup lengthened by 50%-effective skits. I liked the musical segments, but what was with [SPOILER] the stagehand using Silverman's tear as hand lubricant?
34. Four Brothers
A funny, fast-moving B-movie. I wasn't bored, nor was I surprised by a single plot twist.
Strange, detached coming-of-age story notable for its spirited defense of Ritalin and marijuana.
Visually and conceptually thrilling horror-actioner that contains two of the year's most memorable performances: Tilda Swinton as the angel Gabriel and Peter Stormare as Satan. The plot's no great shakes ... but seriously, those two performances will haunt you. I am seriously looking forward to director Francis Lawrence's adaptation of "I Am Legend" (the classic vampire storie mediocrely adapted for Charlton Heston as "Omega Man".)
Pretentious but well-acted morality play set in Racial Powder Keg, USA (aka Los Angeles). Don Cheadle seems bored and Thandie Newton couldn't act her way out of a wet paper bag, but the rest of the cast is fantastic, and the script has real moments of wit.
30. Cinderella Man
Workmanlike, heartwarming boxing story. Russell Crowe's botched accent and Rene Zellweger's general unpleasantness (Why did she lose her "Bridge Jones II" weight for this? Were all 1930s housewives size 0s?) are outmatched by a great story and Craig Bierko as Max Baer. Any producers wondering why the movie failed at the box office: It's called Cinderella Man. Men don't want to see a boxing movie with "Cinderella" in the title. Come on - "Brokeback Mountain" had a more hetero title.
29. Kung Fu Hustle (Gong Fu)
Amusingly crazy karate/comedy with some looong boring bits and some looonger tears-of-laughter bits.
28. Sin City
Three (well, 3.5) fun, cheesy noir stories filmed like a series of nightmarish paintings. I mean, it was very good, but I don't find myself reminiscing about it.
Beautiful, laconic anti-love story written and acted by Steve Martin. There are long stretches of minimal or no dialogue, which is too bad, because Martin can write great lines (see: any scene with Jason Schwartzman) and I got tired of seeing him grope Claire Danes in slow motion. But I must say, as someone who's lamented Danes' flirtation with anorexia (she's a size 2 here, and you could cut glass with her cheekbones), she's gripping, identifiable, subtle, and radiant. A stupid late scene with Schwartzman and a sleazy golddigger drags it down.
26. Wedding Crashers
Hilarious comedy dragged down by the longest third act 'til they went to the same goddamn cave twice in "Pirates of the Carribean." But what's funny is very, very funny. You could publish fat volumes of Vince Vaughn's ad-libs.
25. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The best of a series I really can't get into. For reasons I can elucidate in my "Narnia" entry, I simply don't care about the Potter characters or the situations they find themselves in. Now, with that said, this is a thrilling little movie that amused me more than I expected going in.
24. The Brothers Grimm
Terry Gilliam's worst movie since "Baron Munchausen" (suck it up, geeks) is still a witty and visually delicious mishmash of satire, low comedy, and comic book action. Peter Stormare, so good in "Constantine," is unwatchable, but the rest of the cast manages to translate their fun into our fun.
23. Bad News Bears
Fitfully funny remake of the Walter Matthau classic. Entertaining in the way MTV's "Jackass" is entertaining.
22. Good Night, and Good Luck
Lazily put-together dramatization of the Ed Murrow/Joe McCarthy wars. Still, I'd like to see this and "Munich" win all the Oscars to make John Podhoretz into a heap of bile and back hair.
Dumb-as-hell kung fu drama with the best fight scenes of the year. Bob Hoskins was born to play two roles: insane British mobster and Super Mario. Here he's the former.
20. Lords of Dogtown
Long as hell dramatization of the birth of modern skateboarding in 1970s Los Angeles. Some of the drama is hamhanded, but the young cast is scarily good.
19. The Exorcism of Emily Rose
A Christian horror movie that doesn't blow. I know - it's amazing. Despite some clunky dialogue and predictable scenes of horror (most everything in an exorcism movie is predictable, thanks to William Friedkin's pre-"Sorcerer" masterpiece), this is often very terrifying. Jennifer Carpenter, a bit of an ugly duckling teen movie actress, is perfect as the title victim.
Snail-paced but affecting dramatization of the writing of "In Cold Blood."
17. War of the Worlds
Nine-tenths of a Great (capital G) movie, almost ruined by a corny action and stupid, stupid, mawkish ending. But the parts that work - Jesus, they really work. The first alien attack and the many scenes of fleeing humanity can haunt your dreams, if you often dream about aliens or, uh, fleeing.
16. Hustle and Flow
Terrifically lazy (as opposed to "Good Night and Good Luck," which is ostentatiously lazy) Rocky story about a terrible pimp who wants to become a mediocre rapper. I don't buy into hype too often, but seriously, Terrance Howard as the pimp (DJay) is just terrific. Anthony Anderson, as his unhappily settled-down producer, is almost as good.
A fantastic sci-fi TV series becomes a very good sci-fi B-movie. Witty dialogue, lovable characters (except for the guy from "Barney Miller"), servicable plot.
14. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Goofy, half-assed adaptation of the unadaptable book. Enjoyable apart from the weird sequence on John Malkovich's home planet, and I think Sam Rockwell's performance as the president of the universe is going to date badly.
13. Walk the Line
Watchable drama about Johnny and June Carter Cash lifted by masterful performance by its stars, who look and sing better than their inspirations.
12. The Aristocrats
Messy but pants-shittingly funny (And the kids play around in the shit! And then the grandma pulls a violin out of the shit and plays it with her ... I suppose you need to hear the joke) documentary about comedians. I'd be interested in seeing all the comedian's segments on their own, instead of cut together the way they are here. Also, the final joke sucks.
11. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
Adorable, faithful, thrilling adaptation of the classic children's novel. Seriously, everyone: Tilda Swinton is incredible. I know half of her perfomances depend on her looking like an elf from the ninth circle of hell, but the other half depends on her being a talented actress. Oscar her up already. I mean, you're going to nominate Reese Witherspoon and ... who else? That woman from "Transamerica"?
10. The Producers
Cryingly funny adaptation of the stage musical (which was inspired by the cryingly funny 1968 movie). Did Ethan Hawke really cheat on Uma Thurman? Really? What an incredible dumbass.
I'll recycle my summary from the night I saw this. "Finally, a movie where you can root against some real villians: Polio victims and Canadians."
Bleak and bitter war movie, with one unbelievable scene (the barb wire training) and many more sadly believable ones.
7. Downfall (Der Untergang)
See Hitler kiss Eva Braun! See Goebbels kill his children! See this not win the Oscar for some reason! (Maybe because they didn't superimpose "REMEMBER 6 MILLION" in red letters on the screen at all times?)
6. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
Honestly not that good of a movie, but I grew up on Star Wars and can't be objective about this.
5. Batman Begins
Dubbed "Batman Boringly Begins" by Rich Bunnell, but I loved it. And I honestly didn't see the villainous plot twist coming.
4. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
The best adaptation ever filmed from the best childrens' author of the 20th century, Roald Dahl. I'm frankly stunned that Tim Burton's extra subplot about Wonka's father meshes perfectly.
3. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Ironically, the wonderful writer/producer Judd Apatow, who crafted such careful, tightrope pieces of comedy as "Freaks and Geeks" and "Undeclared," finally got a hit out of his delightful mess. Seemingly every other line is improv, the leading man is a 42-year old "Daily Show" castoff, and it's pretty much a masterpiece.
2. Land of the Dead
Again, I can't be objective about this. There are silly and stupid moments throughout the probably final George Romero zombine film. (The kid staking out zombies in the dark? With a walkman on? What?) I. Don't. Care. Hideous violence, hilarious characters, and bludgeon-soft social commentary - I'm in heaven.
... and the number one movie of the year ...
1. Grizzly Man
It's hard to believe this is a true story. A Florida teen throws out his back, loses his college scholarship, and moves to LA to become an actor. He invents a fake Australian accent and a new name, he gets occasional work, he muddles through terrible restaurant jobs, he wrestles with drug addiction. At age 34, with no training in ecology or zoology, he goes to Alaska and decides he'll become the "protector" of grizzly bears on a remote part of the peninsula. He spends twelve years at this, summers in Alaska and the rest of the year "educating" children and media about his work, until in his final expedition he stays too long and is mauled, along with his girlfriend, by a wild, unfamiliar bear.
Werner Herzog, the director of "Fitzcarraldo," "Strozek," and "Aguirre, the Wrath of God," takes five years of Timothy Treadwell's footage, complements it with his own interviews and research, and cuts it together with his own ominous narration and eye for the fraying of sanity. (Treadwell is technically sane, but he becomes increasingly meglomaniacal and erratic as he spends time in Alaska.) The result is unforgettable and, again, hard to take in. It's hard to believe that on Treadwell's final tape, he stands in front of his eventual murder site and discusses how dangerous his job is as flies crawl over the camera. It's just as amazing that, in his very final shot, he looks scared and hesitant to leave the frame and turn off the camera. This is a phenomenal movie about a subject that looks small and quirky, but encompasses everything.|W|P|113582950014144210|W|P|2005: Wasted at the movies|W|P|1/03/2006 01:58:00 PM|W|P|Tim|W|P|May I just say, to an entirely solid and well-defended list, that your number one and my number one are kind of identical.1/13/2006 02:03:00 PM|W|P|Dean Mc|W|P|Dave I finally put up my list, and by looking at ours side by side I think we are obligated to fight in some sort of ring.
Dean12/25/2005 10:19:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Once again, I hope you all* are having a great holiday. I'm completely blessed this year: a flexible schedule, not-too-scary deadlines, and an unwrapped copy of The World At War. Some random thoughts ...
- I really should have bet some money on King Kong not succeeding at the box office. I loved the LOTR movies, I've loved Jack Black since he was a bit player on "Mr. Show," and I think Naomi Watts is adorable. Yet when I saw the pictures and trailers for this months ago, I ... yawned. Apparently so did the rest of you.
- The learning curve for Civilization III is steep, huh? Just as Civ IV is being released, I'm starting to get the hang of its recent ancestor. My problem (besides having a slow PC and only being able to play the game when visiting my parents) is my affection for the easy battle system in CivII. I got so used to that, and the resultant split decisions to invade countries and grab whatever I wanted, that the more painful, realistic battle style of this game drove me away. This time around, I realized you have to 1)round up and mine resources to build better units and 2)spend lots of money on scientific research to keep your army advanced beyond the armies you want to conquer. It took me 240 years to conquer Egypt like this, mostly because I hadn't secured iron ore before the war started and spent a century getting enough to build fierce legions.
- I'm a geek.
*people who read this blog|W|P|113556844964405995|W|P|Christmas Day|W|P|12/24/2005 09:02:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|I hope all my friends are enjoying a vacation as relaxing as mine.|W|P|113547663943873271|W|P|Merry Christmas|W|P|12/23/2005 01:23:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|From the depths of my iPod (population 7027 songs):
1) Donovan, "The Great Song of the Sky" - Retro-folksy anthem from the Sunshine Superman's late 70s burnout. What do I mean by burnout? In the liner notes from the album (7-Tease), he writes of his desire for the Arabs to use the oil crisis to sieze power for themselves. Luckily, it's catchy. (7/10)
2) Black Sabbath, "Children of the Sea" - Overpowering second track from Heaven and Hell, the band's first album with Ronnie James Dio. Fruity acoustic noodling becomes steroidal riffing becomes ... more riffing. I like this sort of thing, especially when it ends with Dio double-tracking his sea shanty vocal. (8/10)
3) Bob Marley, "Stir It Up" - Marley's classic "I want to get all up in you" ballad. From Catch a Fire, and pretty much undeniable. (8/10)
4) The Cure, "Halo" - A b-side from their hitmaking period (late 80s early 90s) I grabbed off the Join the Dots box set. Excellent guitar and piano hooks throughout, if it doesn't go anywhere special. (7/10)
5) Paul McCartney, "This One" - One of the hits from Flowers in the Dirt, the only one of his comeback albums to actually add up to a comeback. It has a great melody that he needlessly overproduces. But I like overproduction. (8/10)
6) Devo, "Mr. B's Ballroom" - It's from Freedom of Choice so it gets a 10. All the songs on Freedom of Choice get 10s. Go buy it. (10/10)
7) Nena, "99 Luftballoons" - I have this? Sorry. I'm incredibly tired of it now. (5/10)
8) The Shields, "You Cheated" - INTERFERENCE! This showed up a couple months back.
8a) The La De Das, "How the Air Up There?" - Dirty-ass mod rock from the second Nuggets box set. Pretty pedestrian apart from the smokin' lead guitar riff, which sounds like "Psychotic Reaction" chewed up by piranas. (7/10)
9) Bad Brains, "Voyage Into Infinity" - One of the few great songs from Quickness, stoner riffing leading into insane H.R. poetry. Takes a while to get going, but oh my god that riffing. (8/10)
10) Peter Gabriel, "Family Snapshot" - The legendary assassination ballad from Gabriel's third solo album, the one where his voice finally started to get hoarse (in a good way) and he got obsessed with politics. The minor chord piano antics presage a lot of the crap he'd get into later, but at this point he could do no wrong. (10/10)|W|P|113531983322174207|W|P|Zehn fur Freitag|W|P|12/23/2005 10:00:00 PM|W|P|David Amulet|W|P|Great list! I love the PG song, one of my favorites.
I know what you mean about the depths of the iPod song collection. Driving across the great US of A, my iPod's "Shuffle Songs" function played this fan-freakin-tastic string: Iron Maiden's "Run to the Hills," Prince's "Gett Off," America's "Sister Golden Hair," and Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel's "White Lines (Don't Do It)." I love the randomness of that ...
Have a great holiday.
-- david12/21/2005 03:30:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Sigh. Drudge excitedly hypes a new Dick Morris column about the spy story.
Politically, the left is making a big mistake in focusing on the issue. Bush is well-served by bringing the terrorism debate home. Isolationists -- about 40 percent of the nation, divided between the two parties -- will not back him on a war in Iraq but sure will support him against attempts to handcuff homeland security in the name of privacy or civil liberties.In other news, hapless New York Senate candidate Jeanine Pirro is dropping out of the race against Hillary Clinton. But Morris saw that coming in August ... uh, didn't he?
At some point, Mrs. Clinton may feel Pirro gaining on them and wonder if it is worth the battle.
If Pirro posts some early gains, particularly upstate, where it is cheap to do early advertising, Hillary and Bill may read the handwriting on the wall and she may pull out of the race.Well then. I herby predict that
- Democrats will use the NSA/Patriot act issues to propel themselves to huge wins in 2006
- The next great presidential race will be between Dennis Kucinich and Tom Tancredo.|W|P|113519761627087188|W|P|Stop listening to Dick Morris|W|P|12/22/2005 05:56:00 PM|W|P|Steve Sailer|W|P|With the exception of his miracle years of 1995-1996, Dick Morris has been the man to go to for all-purpose wrongness, especially when it concerns the ever-imminent downfall of Hillary Clinton. (Just ask Sen. Rick Lazio, R-NY!)12/21/2005 01:49:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|I think I'm in 100% agreement with Kevin Drum here.
The fact is, superhawks always claim their programs are vital to American security, and they almost always turn out to be wrong. We didn't need to intern Japanese-Americans during World War II, we didn't need Joe McCarthy's theatrics during the Cold War, and we didn't need COINTELPRO during the Vietnam War. And when the Church Committee outlawed the most egregious of our intelligence abuses in the 70s, guess what happened? The Soviet Union disintegrated a decade later. Turns out we didn't need that stuff after all. America is a lot stronger than its supposed defenders give it credit for.Of course, some of those supposed defenders are actually manuevering for short-term electoral gains against their enemies.|W|P|113519118239755381|W|P|Drumbeat|W|P|12/21/2005 03:05:00 PM|W|P|John Tabin|W|P|Well, if you believe that there were never any Japanese or Communist spies in the US, then that makes sense: Cite a few security excesses and you prove that vigilance is never called for at all. Back on Earth, taking liberty and security seriously requires understanding that sometimes there's a trade-off between the two, and that this leads to hard questions. Pretending otherwise is just a cop-out.12/21/2005 03:11:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|I believe Drum is talking about the excesses, not just any countermeasures against Japanese spies or Communists. That's the part I'm agreeing with. He's disagreeing with Boot, who admits "Bush has not always gotten the balance between life and liberty exactly right" right after he claims we would have been attacked by terrorists if we didn't give Bush all the powers he wanted.12/21/2005 01:36:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|I mean, he's said he is, but it's a curious libertarian who sees Democrats opposing broad licence for the executive to spy on American citizens and thinks, "how can this help Republicans win some more elections?"|W|P|113519037145477556|W|P|Is Glenn Reynolds a libertarian?|W|P|12/21/2005 02:40:00 PM|W|P|John Tabin|W|P|That was neither the first nor the only post he's done on the topic. And the Hotline item he links to was interesting.
Most of Reynold's posts have been links to people with various perspectives and areas of expertise, analyzing the wiretap issue from all different angles. I don't think approaching this issue as an occassion for anti-Bush point-scoring ought to be a libertarian litmus test.12/21/2005 03:27:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|The Hotline post is bunk.
- To keep with their point about Cleland: In 2002, the GOP was targeting Democrats in red states (Missouri, Georgia) with the Homeland Security tactic. In 2006, their incumbent Dem targets are in the blue territory of Michigan (Stabenow) and Washington (Cantwell). I think you need only look at the lack of traction Republicans got in 2004 against Washington's Patty Murray for her "Osama is doing good things for the third world" comment to see how much tougher that terrain is for these issues.
- As I documented in my Nov. Reason story, polls have shown Americans getting more and more skeptical of government power since the spike in support after 9/11, which really influenced the '02 results. Right now pluralities of independents and Democrats think the the Patriot Act "goes too far."
- Insofar as the GOP will attack Democrats on national security, they don't even need the pretext of their votes on stuff like this. Some of the most brutal ads of the '04 cycle were directed against challengers in Pennsylvania House races. Republicans attacked Ginny Schrader (PA-08) and Lois Murphy (PA-06) because the former had screened "Fahrenheit 9/11" and the latter had gotten money from MoveOn. The anti-Murphy ad claimed Murphy supported the Taliban's rape and torture of women because MoveOn had been against the Afghan war. (It was a dynamite ad - at crucial points the words "RAPE" and "TORTURE" were flashed on the screen.)
I think all of these factors were in Democrats' minds when they filibustered. They knew the GOP would attack them (Ken Mehlman said they would "pay a price" in 2006), but they did it anyway.12/21/2005 02:06:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|It dawns on me that "Since You're Gone" by The Cars (from Shake It Up) is a parody, in lyrical content and in melody, of a mid-period Bob Dylan song. Only with a clunky synthesized arrangement. Holy wow.|W|P|113514884412670539|W|P|Mysteries of the universe|W|P|12/21/2005 10:54:00 PM|W|P|David Amulet|W|P|Not so much in melody, somewhat in lyrical content ... but VERY MUCH SO in something you didn't mention -- vocal delivery. It sounds like Ric Ocasek is doing at least a half-assed Dylan impersonaton!
-- david12/22/2005 01:52:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Oops, yeah, I left the word "vocal" out of that sentence - I meant "vocal melody." So we agree!12/20/2005 02:44:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Quoth John Cornyn, R-TX:
"None of your civil liberties matter much after you’re dead."There are plenty of Republican congresspeople who defend the Bush administration's declarations of more and more power (all of whom would entrust that same power to President Feingold or President Mark Warner, I'm sure), but let's be honest: Cornyn is the worst. He is not motivated by a belief in the Constitution, or in the people, or even in the executive branch, generally. He gets up in the morning and thinks up new ways to enhance the power of George W. Bush. The best example of this was his hilarious sycophancy during the Harriet Miers nomination. Hardcore conservatives and moderate Republicans alike were immediately skeptical about Miers. But as far as Cornyn was concerned, she was nominated by George Bush and ... debate over! Confirm her!
Others have criticized the president because Ms. Miers is a close confidante, implying that she would not be qualified but for their relationship. I could not disagree more. Of course, the president is going to be inclined to nominate someone he knows, likes and has confidence in. He is not going to nominate someone he does not know or someone he does not like. So long as she is otherwise qualified to the Supreme Court, Ms. Miers's long and valuable service to the president should count in her favor, not against her.It certainly can't be good for Bush that his most ambitious home-state senator is such a ridiculous toady.|W|P|113510861979867593|W|P|Our worst senator|W|P|12/21/2005 11:06:00 AM|W|P|John Tabin|W|P|Re your last sentence: Why not? I would think that having a loyal hatchetman in the Senate would be great< for Bush.12/21/2005 01:36:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|The key word is "ridiculous." It's good to have hatchetmen, but if they'll go to the mat for you even when you're dead wrong and hurting yourself (ie the Miers debacle), they're not help at all.12/19/2005 10:24:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Michelle Malkin's so damn angry at Time magazine that she's torn up her calender in rage.
But if the magazine really wanted to "make a choice for the history books as well as one which is fresh and interesting, how could they pass over the ... brave people of Ukraine? Time is so out of touch that none of these historic revolutionaries--Purple, Cedar, and Orange--were recognized in its "People Who Mattered" section.Ukraine's "Orange Revolution"* started on 11/21/2004 and ended with Victor Yushenko's election as president on 12/26/2004. It was a big deal, and Time magazine even included Yushenko ... in their "People Who Mattered" section.|W|P|113500608742209640|W|P|Time magazine's liberal-chronological bias|W|P|12/19/2005 09:24:00 PM|W|P|David Amulet|W|P|Seeing as the "person" barrier was clearly broken years ago when Time chose the Planet Earth," I think this year of all years should have seen the PotY be something clever like "Mother Nature." Katrina, Rita, Stan, the Kashmir quake ... she showed her colors this year.
-- david12/19/2005 11:29:00 PM|W|P|Casey|W|P|I wish the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would come up with the money necessary to just get Bono the fuck out of my face.12/16/2005 12:38:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|
Waaaaaaaaaah!|W|P|113475476651836383|W|P|Shorter John Cornyn|W|P|12/16/2005 12:04:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|I'm watching the Patriot Act vote on Fox, with Feingold apparently winning, and one of their guest pundits is rubbing his hands with glee at the prospect of Republicans "using this against Democrats in 2006." In two words: Sorry, nope.|W|P|113475288056928003|W|P|Patriot game|W|P|12/13/2005 12:40:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Busy week afoot. May not be much blogging in this space.|W|P|113445262130739844|W|P|Bloggeruptus|W|P|12/11/2005 02:04:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|"Murderball" (Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro, 2005)
Finally a movie where you can root against some real villains: Canadians and polio victims.
"Walk the Line" (James Mangold, 2005)
A gripping and effective love story, despite (because of?) the casting of actors who are far, far better looking than their inspirations (Jaoquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter).|W|P|113432809523587231|W|P|Two movies|W|P|12/12/2005 09:17:00 PM|W|P|David Amulet|W|P|Syriana: Also a movie allowing viewers to root against villains. Unfortunately, everybody (and nobody) qualifies.
-- david2/15/2006 11:29:00 PM|W|P|
I made myself a blog, I have a video downloads site. It pretty much covers video downloads related stuff. Check it out if you have the time.12/11/2005 01:29:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|I didn't get too bothered about this week's political news cycle after the Hotline's post that asserted Howard Dean's pessimistic comments on Iraq were bigger news than the end of Tom DeLay. Tim Graham, of all people, covers for me.
While conservative talk radio blazed this week over DNC chair Howard Dean's comments on Iraq, that the idea we're going to win is "wrong," an important question arises: did the average American who does NOT listen to talk radio, but relies on network morning or evening news, hear the same uproar? Are the aware of the brouhaha? Don't bet on it. A quick search of the name "Howard Dean" in Nexis from Sunday to Friday showed no Dean mention on ABC. None on CBS. NBC had this snippet on Wednesday morning from Kelly O'Donnell: "The president dismissed comments from Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean, who compared Iraq to the Vietnam war." That's the closest the networks came.Quick reaction: Well, no shit. Only in the Beltway media hothouse could a story about Howard Dean making anti-war remarks be considered marquee news.
Longer reaction: See, here's another thing wrong with blogs. Bloggers and blog-readers are the most media-savvy people in the country. I'd be amazed if one of them doesn't have cable news. Because they're so plugged in, they've actually lost touch with, for want of a better term, the heartland - people who only read a local paper and maybe watch prime time network TV. Bloggers, like the beltway media, closely follow what stories make cable news or the Sunday talk shows. But real people don't watch either of those things. Around 2-3 million follow cable news, and at max 10 million watch the Sunday shows. If we have a typical turnout for the midterm election, 65 million people will vote. This not only explains why I didn't care about Dean, it explains why when I talked to sources in the DNC this week, they didn't care either. Talk radio was going to bash Dean anyway; Fox was going to bash Dean anyway - what was new?|W|P|113432689544521330|W|P|Let us now praise famous Tim Grahams|W|P|12/11/2005 12:44:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Michael "TNR" Crowley has an interesting squib in the NYT magazine about conservative blogs.
When the liberal activist Matt Stoller was running a blog for the Democrat Jon Corzine's 2005 campaign for governor, he saw the power of the conservative blogosphere firsthand. Shortly before the election, a conservative Web site claimed that politically damaging information about Corzine was about to surface in the media. It didn't. But New Jersey talk-radio shock jocks quoted the online speculation, inflicting public-relations damage on Corzine anyway.For space reasons Crowley doesn't get specific, but I think I know what he's talking about. Two weeks before the election, the anonymous blog enlighten-nj posted this bit of intrigue.
Enlighten-NewJersey has learned that something big is about to happen, and when it hits; it’ll make Jim McGreevey look like a Cub Scout compared to Jon Corzine.
This damaging revelation is well known by key political insiders in New Jersey, the Corzine camp knows it’s coming and is waiting for the other shoe to drop. The New York Times, the New York Post, the Bergen Record, and the Star Ledger are all running down leads in the story. This story could break wide open any day. It’s not a question of if, but when.
What could make Corzine into the next McGreevey? Our source says, “Stay tuned.”This is so groundless it's laughable - it sounds like the parody of the Homeland Security alert system on "American Dad," where code orange means "Something could go down somewhere somehow in some way at some time." But while we can't resurrect radio shows that aired after the blog post, we can see other blogs - and they went nuts. If you read these posts, you glipse one factor Crowley left out - conservatives, still more than liberals, don't trust the mainstream media ("MSM") and are willing to believe if they read something on a blog but don't hear it anywhere else, it's because the media is covering it up. (From Newsbusters: "Whether or not the story is true, the MSM's silence is significant. Had this story related to a Republican, every morning talk show would be speculating about it.")
If I can explain this without getting too far out onto a limb, this is merely the latest example of something that has really disappointed me about blogs. I started reading blogs in 2001, and if you look to then, or even to 2002, blogs weren't very involved in the to-fro battles of politics. (Daily Kos's 2002 election roundup is stirring proof, and unimaginable now.) There were sharp divisions over the Iraq war before it started, but I don't think blogs divided into right-left camps until late in 2003, when the war started going sour and Howard Dean became the Democratic frontrunner. And they really formed their camps once John Kerry became the Democratic nominee, around March of 2004. Now the liberal blogs weren't trading blows about their favored candidates. Now the conservative blogs weren't dividing their fire between Democrats or clearing their throats to note how, well, maybe they could vote for Lieberman. It became an all-out war and it hasn't stopped. As I've written elsewhere, the story of blogs since then has been a left-right space race with one each side trying to become a better, more technologically advanced house organ for its party.
But what really makes conservatives effective is their pre-existing media infrastructure, composed of local and national talk-radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, the Fox News Channel and sensationalist say-anything outlets like the Drudge Report - all of which are quick to pass on the latest tidbit from the blogosphere.It's more than that. The hosts don't simply pass stuff on. Many bloggers write this stuff and pitch it to the hosts, in hopes of enlisting themselves in the news cycle or the greater cause. Perfect example in the form of Lt Smash. On Wednesday he decided to wage war against Howard Dean for his comments on the war, so he churned out a five-part "mission" encouraging readers to write letters to newspapers, contact their congressmen, etc. Right as he was posting the details ...
UPDATE (5:12PM PST): I'm currently on hold for Hugh Hewitt...
Success! I got on the air, and got the word out. Thanks, Hugh!And this is the direction blogs are heading in. Woo-ee.|W|P|113432563369661154|W|P|The evil that blogs do|W|P|12/11/2005 12:38:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Hugh shakes his head at the media pessimists.
The Washington Post reports President Bush is in high demand on the campaign trail, which confuses reporters who have persuaded themselves that he is a lame duck. 2006 is going to be an excellent campaign year for the GOP ...Oh, those reporters. Why did they persuade themselves that Bush's campaign appearences have lost steam? Did they pull it out of their orifices? Or maybe - I'm just throwing this out - did Bush make a campaign appearence last month for a Republican 10 hours before polls opened in a dead-heat red state race, which the Republican then lost by 6 points?|W|P|113432302075863629|W|P|Hewitless|W|P|12/09/2005 01:38:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Is it wrong that I read this post (and the surrounding debate) while listening to "The Death of Klinghoffer"?|W|P|113411034174811989|W|P|Aria of the falling chair|W|P|12/08/2005 09:52:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Some new articles, free and unfree:
- A cover story for Campaigns & Elections on natural disasters and politics.
- A review of a new album by Speech (the former head rapper of Arrested Development).|W|P|113409698227764465|W|P|Weigel media 2.0: Bringing Weigel into the next century|W|P|12/07/2005 01:46:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Sizable political tremors out of Orange County tonight - Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist, running as a third party candidate, blew away expectations and got 25.1% of the vote in the race to replace retiring Republican Rep. Chris Cox (the new SEC boss). After winning 13,423 votes (14.8%) in the all-party October 10 primary, most opinion I heard had him dipping slightly once voters cast their "real" votes. Instead, he gained almost 10,000 votes. The Republican winner, John Campbell, actually dipped from his percentage from the first round, from 45.5% to 44.7%. Because more voters turned out, though, this represented 30 more total votes for him. (Democrat Steve Young scored 28%, about as much as Democrats used to get against Cox.)
The GOP should analyze the heck out of this. They're lucky this experiment happened in one of their super-safe seats (Bush by 18) - if an anti-immigration candidate scored this much in, say, Duke Cunningham's old seat (Bush by 10), they'd be screwed.
UPDATE: Actually, a Kosite points out that Gilchrist won among voters who voted today, Young came in second, and Campbell came in third. More than half of voters cast absentee ballots, and they voted for Campbell by a landslide, which is how he won.|W|P|113393855769142462|W|P|Minuteman makes good|W|P|12/06/2005 05:25:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Kathryn Lopez on the Venezuelan elections:
DICTATOR DICTATOR DICTATOR HUGO DICATORI'm always surprised at how badly mainstream media here (conservative outlets especially) misread Hugo Chavez and Venezuela. He, and the rest of Latin America, didn't start hating us because Bush dissed the Kyoto treaty or something. They hate us because we participated in a bungled coup against Chavez in 2002. Reports differ on how much we participated, but at the very least when Chavez was kidnapped at gunpoint by the coup plotters, the US recognized the new leaders of Venezuela and then publicly griped when Chavez won back power. Since Chavez had just won two elections (with 56% of the vote and then 60%), this bothered some.
The US failed to follow that very simple dictum of foreign policy: If you shoot at an elephant, kill it. Many of our problems (as well as Chavez's increased popularity and mandates in the country) stem from this, and I don't know why it goes underreported.|W|P|113390871572442791|W|P|Negative reinforcement|W|P|12/06/2005 05:22:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Here's something that never happened to me before. I got up from my chair and started walking, unaware that my right leg had fallen asleep. Because of this I failed to put one foot in front of the other, wavered a little, and then fall down flat on my left knee. Everything seems to be in order now, but gosh do I feel stupid.|W|P|113390780997414824|W|P|Hilarious bloopers|W|P|12/06/2005 08:48:00 PM|W|P|David Amulet|W|P|The same thing happened to me last week, except that I caught myself before collapsing into a heap of humiliation. Glad you made it back up.
-- david12/06/2005 03:56:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|The Hotline rules, and I believe this post on their Blogometer is written to reflect why bloggers are talking about a bit of news, and not why that bit of news is important. Still, check this out:
Who's a bigger deal right now -- ex-House Maj. Leader/Rep. Tom DeLay, who just had some criminal charges dismissed and others upheld? Or DNC chair Howard Dean, who just said the war in Iraq is unwinnable? Conservatives are paying attention to both stories and as yet liberals said little or nothing about Dean, making DeLay arguably the hotter of the two. But the intensity is stronger around Dean. It's been awhile since he said something of this sort, whereas the DeLay story is a rather equivocal development.Yes, that's right. On the one hand, the GOP's House leader was unable to dimiss charges against him, and is now facing a trial while his DC peers stage a shadow war to take his job from him and end his 20-year career in Washington.
On the other hand, Howard Dean said something that pissed off Michelle Malkin.
I think there's a lesson about the news judgment of (much of) the conservative blogosphere right here. For two years, ever since Charles Krauthammer's column "Bush Derangement Syndrome", a lot of pundits and movers in the conservoblogosphere (stupid neologisms) have pegged any criticism of Bush as crazy, deranged, and pace Malkin, unhinged. Some of them save their ire for Democrats or liberals actually acting violent, but more often it's stuff like "Al Gore said something really loud!" It's never up for consideration that liberals might be criticizing Bush because he's in charge of the country and has made a decision (or millions) that they disagree with. Nope. They're always nuts, they think he's a cowboy, he's Hitler, etc.
Howard Dean, on the other hand, runs the Democratic National Committe - not small, but not a group that affects the health and welfare of your conservative blogger from day to day. And yet, they're obsessed with him. Why is this? Politically, it makes no sense. The RNC attacked Dean in as many as 53 press releases since he became chairman (run a search for "Dean"), and those releases typically fed the blog cycle, the Fox News cycle ... often, they got an AP story out of them. Nonetheless, the GOP got drubbed at the polls everywhere outside of NYC and Ohio this last election.
Do some conservatives attack Dean because he's too effective, then? Apparently not - most of the reactions to his gaffes are of the "he's a gift that keeps on giving" variety, and the rest are of the "he'll sink Democratic chances in 2006" variety. It makes a little short-term sense for the national GOP to attack Dean, as they may be able to get a distraction or news cycle win out of an attack, but why bloggers? Is there a "Dean Derangement Syndrome" at play, or something?|W|P|113390420703739730|W|P|Words > actions|W|P|12/06/2005 08:23:00 PM|W|P|John Tabin|W|P|The DeLay thing gets less play simply because it isn't that interesting. DeLay hasn't done much for the ideological rank and file lately, so few are inclined to defend him; thus, only the lefties have much to say about him.
And come on, Dean is the leader of, and by implication a spokesman for, one of the two major parties. What he says matters. And what he said is horribly wrong and worthy of strong criticism. I really don't understand what your problem is.
Also, pace means the opposite of what you think it means.12/05/2005 03:24:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|With mere weeks remaining in 2005 and several movies left to see, I have shattered the 2003 and 2004 records of 33 movies seen - the new record, o my brothers, is 35. Critics may carp that I've goosed that number by including concert films and foreign films originally released pre-2005, but I don't care. My standard is "Films released in American theatres in this year." I just rented "Murderball," so this should rise into the 40s by year's end and the compilation of the final list. (Bolded items are new entries.)
34. The Ring Two - Nice CGI deer, guys. Real scary.
33. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants - No, you're gay.
32. Diary of a Mad Black Woman
31. Margaret Cho: Assassin - Not as bad as advertised. Unfortunately, still a Cho comedy movie.
30. The Dukes of Hazzard
29. Fantastic Four
28. Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic - Some great standup interrupted by mostly dumb musicals and skits.
27. Four Brothers
25. Crash - Good acting (except for Thandie Newton), but too overwraught.
24. Cinderella Man
23. Kung Fu Hustle (Gong Fu)
22. Sin City
21. Wedding Crashers
20. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - You'd think after a while they'd stop hiring Dark Arts teachers already.
19. The Brothers Grimm
18. Good Night, and Good Luck - Lazily concieved and put together, but it's hard to make the subject boring.
16. Lords of Dogtown - Slightly overlong.
15. The Exorcism of Emily Rose
14. Capote - One great performance and a pokey narrative.
13. War of the Worlds - Wonderful until the last scene.
12. Hustle and Flow
11. Serenity - Unjustly recieved.
10. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
9. The Aristocrats
8. Jarhead - Pretty much brilliant.
7. Downfall (Der Untergang)
6. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
5. Batman Begins
4. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Classic childrens' cinema.
3. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
2. Land of the Dead
1. Grizzly Man|W|P|113377199773908836|W|P|Movie Ranking 2005: The playoffs|W|P|12/05/2005 02:30:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Some new additions to the blogroll - David Neiwert, Patton Oswalt, Steve Sailer, and my friend Rafe Bartholomew.|W|P|113376792680082355|W|P|Blogrollin'|W|P|12/12/2005 07:09:00 AM|W|P|RafeBoogs|W|P|Thanks for the shout, Dave. I'll surely be reciprocating. Hope you aren't burnt-out on D.C. yet. Or even worse, getting sucked in by Beltway groupthink. But I'm pretty sure that's the last thing we need to worry about with you. Rafe.12/04/2005 05:22:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|Ha, ha - you win!|W|P|113376509697071322|W|P|Shorter Venezuelan opposition|W|P|12/03/2005 03:21:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|It seems like the incidence of towns and stores saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" is less the result of a "War on Christmas" and the oppression of Christians. It's more like that town in The Phantom Tollbooth where citizens started looking at the ground at all times, ignoring the beautiful architecture etc of their city until it literally began to fade away.
I think our political debate would be improved by a greater incidence of Phantom Tollbooth references.|W|P|113364552058109288|W|P|Something I haven't heard anyone else say|W|P|12/02/2005 04:56:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|1) Del Shannon, "I Go To Pieces" - The re-recorded version of one of the best songs by the great "Runaway" singer. Jeff Lynne gusses it up with loud drums and a strange timpani (I think), but I love it all the more. Either version would make my top 200 songs of all time. From his ill-fated (he died when it came out) comeback album Rock On! (10/10)
2) Steve Hackett, "Every Day" - Shimmering, optimistic pop song from the Genesis guitarist's solo career. A very shameless, but very good, guitar solo closes out the track. From Spectral Mornings. (8/10)
3) Lou Reed, "Make Up" - The notorious tuba song from Reed's big commercial album Transformer. Not a favorite, although the underlying melody has its moments. (5/10)
4) The Go-Betweens, "Darlinghurst Nights" - Wry, catchy Robert Forster showcase from my favorite album of the year, Oceans Apart. The ghostly production (especially on his vocals) gives it just the right amount of doom to balance out the silly psuedoautobiographical lyrics. (8/10)
5) Nanci Griffith, "Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound" - The Tom Paxton cover from Griffith's classic album of folk songs, Other Voices Other Rooms. A good enough song on its own, but Jim Rooney's "more guitars! MORE!" production technique really brings the light out of it. (8/10)
6) Gary Numan, "Metal" - One of the coolest songs on Numan's seminal The Pleasure Principle album (the one you're most likely to recognise after "Cars"). Perfect interplay between cybernetic guitar riffs and disembodied synth noises. (9/10)
7) Guided By Voices, "Dragons Awake" - A delightful short one from the underrated Do The Collapse album, produced by Ric Ocasek. Doug Gillard's acoustic strumming is mixed up super load, and there's a well chosen bit of chamber music that crashes in on the last few bars. (8/10)
8) The Kinks, "Big Sky" - Spoken word/guitar jangle piece that everyone seems to like a lot. I've grown indifferent to it with time. The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society. (5/10)
9) Scott Walker, "Farmer in the City" - One of the more melodic songs from Walker's insane Tilt album. Sounds like John Adams, which is never a bad thing. (8/10)
10) Super Furry Animals, "Psychlone!" - My favorite song from the new Love Kraft" album, jittery and catchy like one of the better songs from Guerilla. (8/10)|W|P|113356212718134492|W|P|Friday ten|W|P|12/06/2005 08:51:00 PM|W|P|David Amulet|W|P|Steve Hackett's "Every Day" solo is one of my guilty favorites, too, although I prefer the song "Spectral Mornings" over just about anything else he's done. And that's saying a lot.
-- david12/02/2005 04:43:00 PM|W|P|Dave|W|P|I have a review of the "Children of Nuggets" box set up at Popmatters, for all of you Christmas shoppers with power-pop fans in your lives. The "7" rating was bestowed by an editor, but I agree with it - while there are a ton of great songs, there are too many boring, 60s-pastiche ones, especially on the fourth disc.|W|P|113355988175319425|W|P|Children of DW-i|W|P|12/02/2005 03:22:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|I've taken a knock or two at Powerline before, but Scott Johnson was nice enough to post my rebuttal to his Harry Reid/bin Laden/earthquake post, where he took a friendly knock at my analysis of the situation. Go ahead and decide if I'm an idiot. (Cue John Tabin in one, two ...)|W|P|113351189044154949|W|P|Earthquakegate|W|P|12/02/2005 01:30:00 PM|W|P|John Tabin|W|P|Actually, I think you're basically right. It is a little irresponsible for Reid to be repeating a blockbuster rumor like that, but to say he gave the impression that he was divulging classified info is real stretch.12/02/2005 03:14:00 AM|W|P|Dave|W|P|George Neumayr on California Republicans:
A conservative revolt is brewing and will likely upend the "French wing" of the California Republican Party, says Spence. He has been bombarded with calls and phone calls from seething California Republicans. They feel burned and view the Kennedy appointment as a point of no return. There is talk, he says, of drafting Tom McClintock to run against Schwarzenegger, and "Mel Gibson's name is being floated."For Christ's sake, no.|W|P|113351132526953370|W|P|It's good to be on the opposite side of the country|W|P|12/02/2005 07:46:00 AM|W|P|Bruce Moomaw|W|P|Oh, please, Mel, RUN. If that doesn't finish off the GOP in this state, nothing will. Californians are currently even less fond of religious fanatics than they are of other types of Republicans. (On the other hand, McClintock is surprisingly popular despite being somewhere to the Right of Attila the Hun -- he came within a fraction of 1 percent of being elected state Controller in 1998, although I wouldn't expect him to as well in a race for governor.) |W|P|I just read your blog, � very nice.