Dubya sets a new (and dubious) record for raising midterm campaign cash. “There’s some senators up there who would rather listen to special interests in Washington, D.C., than listen to the voice of the people,” Bush told Republicans in Little Rock. “There are senators who would rather give us a rule book this thick about how we have to behave, and what we must do to protect the homeland than to trust any administration for protecting America.” THAT‘s his speel? I’ve heard better, more plausible stuff on late-night infomercials. I guess if you’re a GOP bigshot and you’ve already thrown lots of money Dubya’s way, all you can really do at this point is protect your investment.
Three different formats vie to become the standard for blue laser DVD’s, expected in the market by 2005. No 8-track worries just yet – all models will be retro-compatible with red-laser DVD’s.
“The only thing the FISA court proved was that when wolves are guarding the henhouse, they eat a lot of coq au vin.” The always incisive Dahlia Lithwick rails against secret courts and the overlooked provisions of the Patriot Act.
Also in TNR (it seems the links are coming in pairs today), Nicholas Lemann critiques Robert Caro and Master of the Senate, the third volume in his LBJ series.
John Judis blames Michael Powell’s deregulatory fixation for telecom’s collapse. “Powell has proven a disaster…Like Harvey Pitt, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Powell would be ripe for replacement–if his feckless, ideological approach didn’t so perfectly reflect the president he serves.” To be fair, telecom was starting to look a bit peaked before Powell was Chairman (although that’s also partly because Powell was something of an obstructionist on the commission before his ascent.) And, while I’m sure it’s risen lately, demand for broadband services was egregiously low back in 2000. Like campaign finance reform, it’s one of those things you’d expect people to be all over, but for some reason it just isn’t reflected in the numbers. Without a true “killer app” for broadband (Napster/Kazaa comes close, but it’s not it), low demand will continue to be one of the reasons why the big boys aren’t building out. That all being said, I agree with the fundamentals of Judis’s piece.
NASA finally goes ga-ga over Lance Bass. “What’s exciting about this is getting a creative person up there,” said Duane Carey, a space shuttle pilot and father of two teens. “Maybe some songs or some poetry or some type of inspiration can come out of it.” Um, I think it’s great that Bass is getting a chance to pursue his dream, but let’s not get ridiculous here. We’re not sending W.H. Auden or Bob Dylan into space…heck, we’re not even sending John Tesh. Expecting anything more than “Girl, you knock me outta this world!” from Bass is just wishful thinking.
Also from Slate, has John McCain removed himself from contention in 2004?
Slate dogs the State Quarters. I dunno…this is all a bit snarky and unnecessary. In related news, I finally found both an Ohio and a Louisiana on the same day…booyah.
In the Spiderman sequel camp, word’s leaking out that Stellan Skarsgard will play Otto Octavius, (better known as Doctor Octopus.) I thought they might go Philip Seymour Hoffman, but I like this casting.
Despite the recent economic travails and the passage of McCain-Feingold (which takes effect after this election cycle), both the GOP and the Dems are awash in campaign cash for 2002. I’m curious to see what kind of dent McCain-Feingold puts in this sort of behavior, if only for a while.
Hey y’all. As I suspected, I’ve been quite busy over here in the end-of-summer, back-to-school crunch. As it is, I’ve completed most of the Luce work, and now need to begin preparing for the upcoming semester – particularly as I’ll be overseeing two (US Hist to Civil War) sections this fall. Right now, it looks like my class schedule will also include a Civil War and Reconstruction colloquium with Eric Foner and a 20th century Intellectual History seminar with Casey Blake…but that may still be subject to change. Also met the new arrivals at a get-to-know-you happy hour and they all seem like a pleasant, well-adjusted bunch. Still haven’t picked out a new Trapper Keeper and lunch box yet…should I go N’Sync, Spongebob, or Lisa Frank?
#1 pick Yao Ming looks decent in yesterday’s US-China matchup, going for 13 and 11 in a 30 point loss. More to the point, he didn’t let Antonio Davis dunk on him, which should bolster his ego a bit coming into his first NBA season.
The secret court overseeing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) rebuff Ashcroft’s plea for increased wiretap powers, and declares the FBI has misled the court over 75 times. Never thought I’d be on the side of a secret court, but there you go. It must be getting really ugly over at Justice if somebody’s leaking this bad boy.
Financier and philanthropist George Soros weighs in on the recent spate of corporate malfeasance and the dangers of “market fundamentalism.”
Former Clinton aide (and Stephanopoulos replacement) Rahm Emanuel wins his Illinois primary and, barring an historic upset, will enter Congress in November. Good luck to him, I suppose…he’s extremely effective when on the offensive, but back in the Carville days he was always one of those guys on the phone who treated you like the help. (We were the help, of course…nevertheless, his phone manner was definitely lacking. We weren’t even his subordinates.) At any rate, gracious or no, I’m sure he’ll do well in Congress.
Many congrats to John and Lor at Genehack on the birth of their daughter, Rosanna.
Fox News goes for the jugular after CNN discloses it paid for their now-ubiquitous Al Qaeda tapes. All I know is I much preferred CNN back when they were the Clinton News Network and not the Child Nabbed Network. They’ve been going steadily downhill ever since Isaacson took over. (Not that I’ll be watching Fox News or anything.)
Robin Williams plays DoD?! Hmm…I wonder if I’ve killed him…That’s for Patch Adams, n00b.
Sketching an eerie parallel to Ashcroft’s current war on libraries, Derrick Jackson surveys the FBI’s long and ignoble history concerning Black America.
Since no update would be complete without ‘em, we’ve got more Two Towers pics, including all-new shots of Eomer and Faramir. Spoilers for those who haven’t read the trilogy.
Fox posts the San Diego Comicon footage of X-Men 2. Brian Cox looks good, and it was a wise move to focus on Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, but I can’t say I was completely sold by the teaser. Danger Room? Nightcrawler?
Ok, in the past four days, I’ve had dreams involving dozens of old friends, four exes, both my old high schools, three former offices, a very long crew practice, the house I grew up in, and my middle school city rec soccer team. Either my brain is running one of its semi-annual Scandisks, or it’s trying to tell me something. Perhaps it’s a back-to-school kinda thing. Strange.
Apparently, James Carville has been cast in an upcoming Disney flick set in Appalachia. (Friends of mine from the old office confirm the story.) If he could handle King of the Hill, I’m sure he’ll do swimmingly for the Mouse.
Surprisingly, it seems President and Senator Clinton are now quietly backing H. Carl McCall over former Clinton Cabinet official (and Gore hack) Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary for NY Governor. Is this residual fallout from the much-rumored Clinton-Gore rift in 2000, or just a savvy political move to set up for 2008?
With Bob Barr and Cynthia McKinney hitting the road, among others, is DC getting dull? Well, I can think of more apt criteria to judge our Congresspersons, but they probably wouldn’t do any better in those categories either.
The 2002 Sight and Sound Top Ten Poll. (found by way of this Slate article.) Held once a decade, it’s worth perusing for a glimpse into the tastes that drive many film directors and critics. Unlike the Slate writer, I have no issues with Citizen Kane being No. 1, although he’s right in noting it’s a bit dubious to consider the first two Godfathers together. By that logic Godfather III should drag ‘em all out of the top twenty.
Custom FOTR covers, for your regular edition FOTR DVD. Some of these are quite nice.
Surprise, surprise. Apparently the Bushes have been having tons of big donors over for sleepovers at the White House. (Dubya’s defense is they’re not sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom, as if that makes a difference.) Let’s prep those congressional investigations, people! C’mon, Dan Burton, get a move on. Why do I have a feeling hypocrisy will remain the order of the day here?
Sigh. As per last season, Sci-Fi is playing the ratings game and shelving the second half of Farscape‘s fourth season. So, after next week’s “summer finale,” there’ll be no more Crichtonisms until January of 2003. Bleah. At least it frees up my Fridays.
With Superman v. Batman falling by the wayside, WB looks to move a Superman feature instead. The good news is they’re trying to replace McG with David Fincher, Michael Mann, or Steven Soderbergh. The bad news is the screenwriter (J.J. Abrams, of Alias) wants McG.
While I’ve been busy the past couple of days, apparently MLB players decided to strike. Well, you know what? I really couldn’t care less. At the risk of alienating all the stat-keeping baseball lovers out there, baseball before October just bores me, unless I’m playing or at the stadium watching. Ranks right up there with golf as the sport I most like to nap to on weekend afternoons. I do have a mixture of pity, fascination, and irritation for the legions of Red Sox fans out there, who constantly act like (a) winning a World Series is more important than world peace and (b) Boston is somehow a cursed sports town, despite their winning 16 NBA championships over the years. But otherwise, I have no vested interest in baseball at all…During the summer, I’d rather watch MLS any day of the week and twice on Sunday. And now it’s almost September, so bring on the hoops.
While Maureen Dowd reads Oedipal strife into Brent Scowcroft’s recent decision to pooh-pooh Dubya’s bellicose policy on Iraq, Tom Oliphant thinks the rift’s been overstated. In related news, Trent Lott belatedly sees the wisdom in a congressional debate on an Iraq war.
With the Dem slate in 2004 already eliciting yawns from all but the Gore faithful, the Hillary in 2008 movement is growing louder. Well, that would explain why she was so eager to find a way around McCain-Feingold.
Caught Signs over the weekend, and, I must say, it was the worst movie I’ve paid money for in some time. (Ok, Reign of Fire wasn’t very good, but it never pretended to be anything but a B-movie…one look at Matthew McConaughey as Ahab/Kurtz could tell you that. Signs has delusions of grandeur.) I liked both Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, so was quite dismayed at how dismal this film turned out. It’s hard to go into the many problems with it without giving the movie away, so click to reveal any spoilerific information below (and sorry this post now looks like a letter out of Catch-22):
a) Let’s begin with the ending….if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m going to say, but c’mon…the water bit made absolutely no sense. Even aside from the fact that both this planet and its inhabitants are made up of mostly water, what were these aliens going to do if it rained? b) Why travel interstellar distances in state-of-the-art ships, cloak after everyone’s seen you, and then run around the planet comprised of 75% water stark-naked? c) Why was the alien fx so horribly bad? It gave me shivers about Gollum. d) Every one of the small-town folk came off as completely Hollywood-false, particularly the good-hearted sheriff and Basil Exposition, the “probing” army recruiting officer. e) Mel’s a preacher, Joaquin’s a down-and-out minor leaguer…who’s actually harvesting all that corn? f) The ridiculous foreshadowing of Mel’s crisis of faith – “Don’t call me father” over and over again. Which brings me to another problem with the ending: So all of these signs somehow do add up to cosmic design, such as the kid having asthma and the dead wife being savvy enough to tell Mel it might be a good idea to have Slugger go after the alien with a baseball bat…what does this mean about God? He’s a God of Humanity only, unconcerned with the fate of this poor water-hating, lousy-FX alien? I don’t buy it.
g) The kids…ugh, the ever-lovin’ kids. Too wise, too special, too obnoxious. h) The family scenes, and particularly the strange last dinner episode and both of the ill-timed disquisitions on childbirth…flat, bizarre, and wholly unrealistic. i) The television. You’d think after 9-11 it’d be much easier to create realistic looking “crisis television.” But every time they turned on the idiot box it was stilted, exposition time again, the Brazilian birthday party scene aside, one of the only legitimately scary and well-done sequences in the film. j) With the exception of the shiny knife under the pantry door (don’t get me started on why these aliens have so many issues with doors – this away team didn’t bring a phaser or an axe to their alien invasion?), almost all of the “Hitchcockian flourishes” seemed too consciously crafted, particularly both long scenes involving the flashlight. I think I liked it better when it was called “The Blair Witch Project.” Ok, enough dissing the film. Suffice to say, I don’t recommend it. Joaquin was very good, and to be honest Mel wasn’t bad either. I blame Shyamalan. (In happier news, I saw Sexy Beast on DVD last night and quite enjoyed it.)
Hey y’all. Updates have been intermittent this past week due to my catching up with all the work I was supposed to be doing while I was in Hawaii, meaning very long days fashioning history powerpoint slides for a textbook company. Now that that task’s finished, I need to get back to my primary research work, reading through and organizing the papers of Henry Luce and his contemporaries for a professor. At any rate, it’s going to be busy around here right up until the start of term, so I apologize if the updates get more sparse than usual. In happier news, regarding the burning of my feet (mentioned here last week), today was the first day since said burning that it didn’t hurt to put on my shoes…although Berkeley stepping on said shoe immediately thereafter was not a happy experience.