History is fun
Delving into Lexis-Nexis today, I found a report from the Wednesday, Nov. 5 Washington Post entitled “Toasts and Tears;
The Democrats.” It concluded with this:

When the Carters left the hotel a little later, people outside the ballroom stood behind ropes to get a glimpse. There was some applause, a few cheers and Carter smiled. “Real class,” somebody said.

A little after 10 p.m. one dismayed Democrat said of Reagan’s victory: “He finally won the Academy Award tonight.”

Said another: “You know though, who the real winner is, don’t you?” Then answering her own question, she added: “Ted Kennedy.”



It’s Dowding time!
Republicans are grousing about a DNC ad that uses Bush’s “16 words” from the State of the Union to ask for an investigation. Their complaint is that it uses 10 of the words, omitting Bush’s reference: “The British government has learned that …” Terry McAulliffe has a defense.

The issue is George Bush’s words — it’s not like we used an actor and put words — these are George Bush’s actual words in the State of the Union.

That’s a good point. As a matter of fact, just weeks ago Howard Dean said this:

We must rejoin … repressive communist regimes.

Later, with a crowd cheering his every word, he said this:

Every American President must and will take up arms … against … government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Those are Howard Dean’s words. It’s not like I used an actor. And if selective quoting is good enough for Terry McAullife, it would be Orwellian to do any less!

UPDATE: John Tabin finds this startling piece of evidence:

Hey, in that Goodman interview, McAuliffe admits it: “George Bush did … tell the truth.” Case closed!


Sellouts, all of them!
Glenn McDonald has dual reviews of the new records by Jewel and Liz Phair. I’ve bought both, and prefer the Phair record if only for the kickassity of its opening 3-song blitz. Glenn differs:

Avril sings Avril songs with enthusiasm, albeit sketchy technique. Liz sings Avril songs like a hapless karaoke performance narrowly salvaged by studio trickery. Liz’s vocal style is limp and her voice is thin, which were disarming traits when she was singing ragged songs about ambivalence and candor, and contrasts when she was singing dizzy songs about headaches and strange uncles. But as a rock vixen she might as well be Aimee Mann trying to play Lita Ford. Avril would do these songs better. Lauren Christy would do these songs better herself. Kay Hanley would do them better, Colleen Fitzpatrick would do them better, Shirley Manson would do them better. Hell, Jewel would do these songs better.

Go, read, make merry!


That’s our Joe!
Blogger Ezra Klein has a sensible post about the possible Joe Biden presidential campaign.

Dean is beating up on Kerry in NH. His momentum isn’t slowing down, it’s increasing, and Kerry’s is not. Kerry is going to go all out to win NH, relying on Dean’s liberal persona, Dean’s dovish credentials, and Kerry’s national security credentials/resume to win. If Biden enters the race, Kerry is no longer the only Democrat with name recognition, national security credentials, and a beltway pedigree in the race. Add in the immediate storm of press a Biden entry will generate, and you see that the exact same people supporting Kerry are going to support Biden. The actual breakdown is immaterial, whether Biden leaches 5%, 20%, or 80% from Kerry, that is a percentage Kerry can’t afford to lose. It’s too close of a race with Dean, and for Kerry to lose support will hand Dean New Hampshire and kill Kerry.

I’m interested in this because Joe is my senator, and I think he has it in him to make a run. I’m also intrigued by the slapsticky self-destruction of the moderate Dem candidates. Have you noticed that Dean is winning a few more polls? Check out the numbers in the recent CA survey:

Dean – 16%
Kerry – 15%
Lieberman – 14%
Gephardt – 7%
Edwards – 4%
Graham – 3%
Kucinich – 3%
Sharpton – 3%
Moseley-Braun – 2%
Undecided – 33%

Kerry, Lieberman, Gephardt, Edwards and Graham are splitting 43% of the vote as it is. There are too many damn moderate establishment candidates, and they’ll going to cannibalize each other until at least three of them drop out.


One murder-suicide pact, please
For some reason, the song that keeps benefitting from my WinAmp shuffling as I work is the Bee Gees’ comeback single “You Win Again.”

Come on! Kill me! Do it now!

UPDATE: There are now 5 songs in constant rotation. The other four are:

The Commodores – “Easy”
The Commodores – “Night Shift”
Cheap Trick – “If You Want My Love”

and, yes,

Lipps Inc – “Funkytown”

I am 21 years old. What’s my major malfunction?


Sharpton vs. Jackson
To soothe my own nagging doubts, I ran some comparisons between black support of Jesse Jackson in the 1984 presidential campaign and support of Al Sharpton in this campaign. It’s abundantly clear that Sharpton is running to raise his national profile and “oust” Jackson as the go-to “civil rights leader.”

In August 1983, Jackson was 41 years old and had never held office. Gallup asked 649 black adults who they supported.

Jesse Jackson – 35%
Walter Mondale – 29%
John Glenn – 9%
Reubin Askew – 2%
Alan Cranston – 2%
Gary Hart – *
Ernest Hollings – 2%
* Don’t know – 21%

Of course, that was a very different field. A poll asked of all voters (black, white, etc), found these favorables.

Don’t know him – 13%
Very favorable – 8%
Somewhat favorable – 26%
Somewhat unfavorable – 19%
Very unfavorable – 20%
No opinion – 14%

So 34% of voters liked Jesse, and 39% didn’t. Now, this year Al Sharpton is 48 and has never held office. The last poll that questioned voters by race, the Feb. CNN-Time poll, found this breakdown:

Sharpton – 20%
Gephardt – 9%
Lieberman – 9%
Moseley Braun – 6%
Edwards – 5%
Kerry – 4%
Graham – 4%
Dean – 3%
Kucinich – 1%
other/undecided – 39%

For all voters, these favorables:

Favorable – 27%
Unfavorable – 30%
Not familiar – 40%
Not sure – 3%

I’m surprised – these numbers are pretty comparable. But the black support is, as I expected, very wan. At this point in the race in 1983, blacks supported Jackson 35% and assorted other candidates 44%. Sharpton’s figures are 20% and 41%. That’s a huge gap. It’s doubtful any political reporters, who (understandably) find Rev. Al’s antics cute, will include this in their analyses.


Insert pirate pun here
Gee, “Pirates of the Caribbean” is really owning the box office. It’s the first blockbuster since “X-2” (and “Finding Nemo,” if you define “blockbuster” loosely) to generate some decent word of mouth. Look at the effects!

In two weeks, “Pirates” has outgrossed the much-more-hyped “The Hulk” (by $4 million), “Terminator 3” (by $5 million) and “Charlie’s Angels” (by $38 million). Most impressively, its week-to-week falloff was only 28.7% – the best weekend turnover of the summer. “The Hulk,” you’ll recall, had a record-breaking falloff of 69.7%.

Is this good news? I don’t know. Disney owns the two biggest movies of summer 2003, and one of them was based on a ride at its theme park. Two comic-based movies with lots of potential, “The Hulk” and (eughhh) “LXG,” were manhandled by producers and have pretty much failed miserably, which bodes porely for four-color sagas (except for the X-Men series!). It more or less guarantees us a sequel, which is always bad news (except for the X-Men series!). But it does make Gore Verbinski a two-time blockbuster director, and that’s terrific news. One hack (Michael Bay) falls, and a talented director rises.

Also, for all of its hype, T3 is unlikely to make up its $200 million production cost. Hey, media: This is your cue to stop forcing Arnold down our windpipes.


Mmmm … bile
For some reason, Jerry Springer has made Jonah Goldberg his chief opponent in his U.S. Senate race. Keith Olbermann, host of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” grilled the TV personality on that in an interview.

OLBERMANN: Jonah Goldberg of “National Review” aid on CNN that you would bring “slack-jawed yokels, hicks, weirdos, pervs and whatnots.” And apart from considering the source there, at what point did we stop letting yokels, hicks, weirdos, pervs and whatnots vote? We let Jonah Goldberg vote.
SPRINGER: Well, you make a good point.

Ha ha ha! Whew! Naturally, Jonah used this as grist for one of his Neverending Columns. I was given to wonder something else: Is Keith Olbermann a jackass, or what?

Since I’m not much of a sports fan, I didn’t know who Olbermann was until 2002. That’s when he got a column for Salon.com. David Horowitz, whose columns I greatly enjoyed (when he stuck to facts), had just been sacked. Who was this guy?

He began writing columns for sports memorabilia magazines at age 12, edited one of them at age 16 and was senior editor of Baseball Magazine at 19.

What a prodigy! Who’da thunk a teenage boy would enjoy baseball?

Olbermann went on to suck on a weekly basis. I hated his column. I hated his smug caricature (see right). I hated that it replaced something enjoyable and controversial. I hated that it contained no reporting. I hated, hated that he mused on politics with all the wisdom of a Lego. And I hated his endless carping about ESPN.

After five and a half years there, I left ESPN at the end of June 1997. My decision inspired a lot of head-scratching, everything from graffiti on a wall in a syndicated comic strip, to shouts of “traitor” from a viewer at a World Series game.

Quelle drama! Get me a bucket.

The political stuff really got to me. I’d rejected better columns for my college newspaper. This one was a doozy:

For national elections, instead of punishing nonparticipation, we should reward those who show up. With your proof-of-voting seal, you get to cut some small figure — $25? — off your federal income tax. Like a free meal, nothing tastes better than a bottom-line, cash-back offer. Hell, we live in a society in which a New York bank is offering depositors who open an account in five figures or more a cash payment of 75 bucks — and those who take them up on it are reportedly looking at the $75 as if it was the first allowance money they ever got from Mom and Dad.

Salon editors eventually got around to reading this stuff and canned Olbermann after less than 6 months of columns. Thus, I take his denunciations of Jonah Goldberg with several grains of salt.