1/24/01 - The first Village Voice of the Dubya era offers a great pic of inCurious George (a moniker which already deserves its place next to Slick Willie and Tricky Dick), but not much in the way of good political content (protest coverage aside, the main story appears to be an advert for BushorChimp.com) The cover's a classic, though. Unbelievable. The Democratic Leadership Council, the flagship organization of the so-called New Democrats (re: Rockefeller Republicans), releases a a study faulting the Gore campaign for not going more forcefully after the votes of "suburban residents, moderates and upper middle class whites." Grrr...I can't tell you how much this aggravates me. The DLC is hawking exactly the wrong prescription to the Democratic Party. I just don't believe the crucial swing vote out there is clamoring for targeted (upper) middle class tax relief and prescription drug benefits for the elderly. As evidenced by the massive popularity of John McCain among independents, people want vision, sincerity, and common-sense progressive reform. That's the recipe for a broad Democratic coalition, not more tax bribes and soothing words to SUV drivers who don't need them. Al Gore's faux-populism didn't fail because it was populism, but because it was faux. Isn't that obvious? The guy was flying high after his Convention speech and then crashed and burned after people saw him as insincerity personified in the debates. It's very clever of the DLC-wing to try and disassociate themselves from the Gore campaign in hindsight. But that dog won't hunt - Gore lost more because of New Democrat Rockefeller Republicanism than he did in spite of it. The Monkeybone trailer is now available in Quicktime. And if that doesn't fill you weirdness quota for the day, check out this bizarre still from Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids, starring the inimitable Alan Cumming. For his 8000th story, Harry claims to have the plot nuances of the Planet of the Apes remake (Spoiler). The case against Campaign Finance reform in general and McCain-Feingold particularly, brought to you (naturally) in the pages of the National Review. With the recent disclosure of Jesse Jackson's misdeeds and the inauguration of Dubya, it seems the African-American clergy have reached a crossroads. Dire Straits fans take note: presenting the Knopflersaurus. There's another Keith Richards joke here, but it's too early to repeat bad lines from last week's posts. Just when you thought the twenty-first century was here to stay, the Confederates have escaped the attic, note Slate's David Greenberg in his most recent History Lesson. And then there were two (I think): Anthony Edwards will leave ER after next season, leaving only Drs. Benton (Eriq LaSalle) and Carter (Noah Wyle) as the only veterans left.
1/23/01 - Departing Dems declare war on W, or at least the "W" key on White House keyboards. It appears the stereotype about Republican chic is true. I've seen more fur and fedoras on the Metro in the past three days than I have in the preceding three years. The worst of it was on the way home yesterday, when I was stuck at the L'Enfant Plaza station with a group of loud, abrasive, middle-aged (presumably) Texans, the men in huge cowboy hats and the women wearing most of the Scandinavian GDP across their shoulders. For fifteen minutes, I had to hear these people go on and on about the same topic - "Is this a safe part of town? I've heard Washington is a big ghetto. Is this a safe part of town?" I wanted to scream at them, NO part of town is a safe part of town when you're running around dressed like Yosemite Sam. Everybody knows you're rich, not from here, probably lost, and more than likely an asshole. I have half a mind to hold you up myself just so you'll put a sock in it. But, instead I immersed myself in PalmChess and Dopewars as usual. E.J. Dionne sings the praises of Bush's inaugural speech. Head speechwriter Michael Gerson clearly is at the top of his game - I liked his convention speech too. I think too many political speeches these days focus too much on the policy and too little on the imagery. But Gerson seems to have a knack for the vivid phrase and the colorful metaphor. The LA Times offers a 2001 movie preview with a great gallery of stills from upcoming movies, including Daniel Day-Lewis and Leonardo diCaprio looking...um, tough in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York, and Michael Clarke Duncan in full Planet of the Apes mode. There's about 30 films listed, so you should definitely go check it out. So I forgot to mention yesterday that the Golden Globes were on Sunday. I was pretty content with their choices until the last twenty minutes, when the show took a serious nose dive. When Ellen Burstyn is laying it all on the line in the twilight of her career in Requiem for a Dream, why on Earth would you give the Best Actress award to Julia Roberts, who basically ran around Erin Brockovich for two hours playing herself? (and if you don't believe me, ask Lyle.) And then Best Picture...Gladiator?!? Please. To quote Elmore Leonard, I've seen better film on teeth. Why weren't Crouching Tiger and Requiem nominated, and, if you're going to honor one of the movies listed, why not Traffic? This does not bode well for the Oscars. Speaking of awards shows, the Bloggie finalists are announced. Have you voted? Harvard's search for a new President narrows to three candidates, including the head of the University of Michigan and Lawrence Summers.
1/22/01 - Well, that didn't take very long. As expected, Michael Powell - the Secretary of State's son - is named the new chairman of the FCC. Peaches and Cream? Peaches and Cream!?! Why don't they just paint little teddy bears and sailboats all over the Oval Office while they're at it? Just when he thought he was out, they keep pulling him back in. Baltimore Sun columnist Jules Witcover suggests that Dubya should appoint Clinton to a diplomatic post. The 50 Greatest Simpsons Moments of All Time, a fwd that's been making the rounds lately. Speaking of which, Elaine, Thad, Lotta and I played the Simpsons Trivia Game on Saturday night. It was definitely one of the best tribute games I've ever seen, and it included varying levels of difficulty to accomodate both the Springfield newbie and the hard-core Simpsonhead. Do you know the name of Mr. Burn's teddy? (Answer: Bobo...that was a Level 3 (of 5) question.) Interesting Austin Powers 3 spoiler possibility over at Harry's. Turns out Austin's parents could be the Avengers, John Steed (Patrick MacNee) and Emma Peel (Diana Rigg)! The Goldfinger-era Bond (Sean Connery) and Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) have also been considered. Stairway to Middle-Earth, exploring the Tolkien-Zeppelin connection. (Via Faery Chronicle.) And so it begins. Dubya blocks international abortion funding and delivers a statement of support to anti-Roe v. Wade protestors. Better be careful, George...the pro-life crowd are usually dividers, not uniters. Andrew Ferguson of the Weekly Standard dogs Mary Matalin (and, by extension, Carville.) The article comes off a bit like sour grapes, and I highly doubt that working for Prime Minister Cheney is a demotion from forcing confrontations with Bill Press, anyway.
1/19/01 - Nader examines his own media coverage, and finds it sorely lacking. (Via Medley.) Today, the last dog dies. It's the final day of the Clinton era, and of the Kennard era at the FCC (my own future is still uncertain, but it looks like I'll be here for at least a few more weeks to help close up shop and aid the transition.) The mood around here is at once festive and despondent (regarding the latter, I've already been taken to task once again in one party/meeting for voting Nader.) I gotta say, my own job situation notwithstanding, It's kinda sad to see ole Clinton go. Let's face it, despite the ballooning trade decifit and widening income gap - two issues that loom over the Clinton legacy - it's hard to refute the fact that the country has done amazingly well over the past eight years (and any rabid Clinton-haters who suggest otherwise end up sounding a lot like this hilarious Onion piece.) Perturbed by this record of peace, prosperity, and progress, Republicans have gotten into the habit of latching onto a mostly contrived litany of "ethical lapses" that occurred over the Clinton era. But, having spent two years delving into the minutiae of these allegations for the Carville book, I can tell you most of them - Whitewater included - don't hold up, and are solely the product of a culture of investigation deliberately engendered by the GOP Congress to hamstring the Clinton presidency. It was a clever tactic, and it eventually worked. Root around in the dirt long enough and you'll eventually find a penny or two. Which brings us to Monica. The Monica Lewinsky imbroglio was unfortunate, to say the least. And, as with the Rev. Jackson's recent travails, it's not the immorality of the act that bothers me so much as the colossal stupidity of it. But, at any rate, the Presidency has seen its share of affairs both Democratic and Republican over the years, and to say that Clinton's sophomoric sexcapade permanently tarnished the Oval Office smacks of partisan hyperbole, to say nothing of a willful ignorance of American History. And, with all due respect, anyone who argues that trying to cover up an ill-advised tryst in the White House is more an breach of public trust than illicitly selling arms to Iran or sending armed goons to break and enter into opposing party headquarters have their priorities seriously screwed up. No, I think that despite l'affaire Lewinsky Clinton will be remembered as a good, safe President during prosperous times, much like Grover Cleveland or Dwight Eisenhower. And, I have great confidence in the fact that it won't take many months of Dubya before America begins fondly remembering the good ole days of the Nineties. At any rate, those who constanty proclaim that George W. Bush will "restore dignity to the Presidency" have a lot to answer for with regards to this pic of him gyrating with Ricky Martin. (And just because I pilfered that line from SNL doesn't make the observation any less true.) That being said, First Lady-elect Laura Bush has come out for Roe v. Wade, sort of. So I already like her more than her mother-in-law. New Line puts the Rings trailer online, although good luck actually getting to it. The Post looks back over the tenure of Richard Riley, Secretary of Education and former Governor of South Carolina.
1/18/01 - Amidst all the wrangling on Capitol Hill, how come no one has asked John Ashcroft who's cleaning his home? The domestic help double standard, perhaps? For my policies You will have to ask Cheney. Tetris, anyone? ...and other winners of Slate's inaugural poem contest - I particularly like the Dubyaite take on "The Wasteland". Fight night at AICN: Along with the picture on the left, Harry's got extras' reports of the Ali-Liston and Spidey-McGraw bouts. Also, more Fellowship pictures today from an upcoming Entertainment Weekly. Expect a lot of links like this throughout the year. Looks like a rainy Inauguration day. Which reminds me of Steve Martin talking to the portrait of his widow in The Man with Two Brains - "Should I not remarry? Give me a sign, any sign." [Room shakes, lights burst, portrait spins, walls crack, a painful bellowing fills the room] "Any sign at all, I'll be looking for a sign." Bite My Monkey, an unusual, flash-intensive site presumably designed to flog the forthcoming Monkeybone, whose trailer is also up today. George Will hopes Secretary of Defense-designate Donald Rumsfeld recognizes the "arithmetic of futility" in U.S. anti-drug efforts in Colombia. Whoa, Nelly! Scientists stop light dead in its tracks. Now that's a pretty impressive way to kick off the twenty-first century, if you ask me. The Atlantic asks fourteen writers to contemplate Clinton, including James Fallows and P.J. O'Rourke. Fallows explores Clinton's economic legacy, while O'Rourke judges Clinton's extreme baby-boomerness in retrospect. Notes the latter, "The problem, it seemed to me on that day, was that Clinton is a little haphazard at picking what to care about and whom to share it with...He had made an unlucky Vulcan mind-meld with me on the subject of Bangladesh. And then he turned to Hunter Thompson, of all people, and said with wholehearted fervor, 'We're going to put one hundred thousand new police officers on the street.' I was up all night persuading Hunter that this was not a personal threat." The wit and wisdom of Al Gore, coming soon to a business conference near you.
1/17/01 - Harrison Ford wags the thespian finger, the only part of him these days that isn't mailing it in. (Via Pearls that are his Eyes.) David Plotz delves into dog psychology. In a related story, Berkeley watched Dr. Phil on Oprah last night. Design still in flux, as I've started playing around with CSS. My code is still all nasty and snarled, so I'll have to clean it up as I acquire more CSS knowledge. Now I finally understand why people hate Netscape 4 so much. On point like a fax machine, Maureen Down scrutinizes Dubya's Old South revival show. ""Why shouldn't Linda Chavez have slaves? Why shouldn't Gale Norton put slavery in context? Why shouldn't John Ashcroft talk to the journal of neo-confederacy Southern Partisan and defend slaveowners against the suggestion that they had 'some perverted agenda'...It is time to set aside the shallow squabbling of the Clinton era about the 1960's and focus on something that matters: the 1860's." Ouch. Elsewhere, E.J. Dionne explores the Confederate-mindedness of Dubya's lieutenants without Dowd's acid wit. Garth gets his hands on an possible Episode II poster. No Jar Jar, no Jake Lloyd...I can't complain. Will trailers replace dot.com ads at this year's Superbowl? Among the rumored films offering sneak peeks this year are Fellowship of the Ring, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park 3, and The Mummy Returns. Why would anyone - least of all conservatives - want to screw up Americorps? The giant sucking sound you'll hear if they move to vouchers is every Tom, Dick, and Harry creating lame community service fronts to soak up the funds now going to valid service organizations. Dubya creates a new holiday for us federal employees, Ricky Martin Day. Thanks, George. Oliver Stone considers hanging it up. But doesn't he have to make LBJ first?