Friday, January 30, 2004

Playing With Fire

Patriot Games

Eleanor Clift explains why Bush shouldn't even try to dig into John Kerry's war record. She's right. Here's hoping the issue comes up in a big way during the election.


Democrats Increase Pressure on Scalia

Here's another issue that Democrats aren't pressing enough: how is Antonin Scalia NOT required to recuse himself from a case involving Dick Cheney after they went on a hunting trip together during the time between when the Court agreed to hear the case and the actual proceedings? As a professor quoted in the article notes, ordinary Americans can quickly see how there's no way Scalia can claim that his impartiality in the case is beyond doubt. How much outcry will it take to convince Scalia, over whom there is no oversight but that of God, that he should do the right thing and bench himself?

We should find out. Democrats should raise their voices, make the case to the American people, and generally make so much noise about this that Cheney pulls Scalia aside during a fishing trip and begs him to sit this one out.

Irony Everywhere

Givers and Takers

The article above points out one of the central ironies of today's political divide: the people most likely to be living off the largess of the federal government are also the most likely to support shrinking it. I've seen this up close, and it's kind of funny. Working on museum projects for the federal government in Montana, I met lots of people who blamed the government for everything, even as it subsidized their chosen existence in a wind-swept and infertile hell by taking money out of my pocket. There's no way to make ends meet in a lot of the red states without the government intervening--if you want to talk about welfare queens, Dakotans, Montanans, Wyomingans, and Idahoans should be at the top of the list. Yet they're the very people who like to rail against the excesses of government, to tell everyone to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

Beyond the hypocrisy this irony makes evident, though, is a political problem for Democrats: how do we win when Republicans control the government and have the power to whisper soothing promises of smaller government into red states' ears while deftly putting federal money into their pockets at the same time? How can we beat a party that lets its supporters have it both ways--and uses our money to do it?

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Pickup Line

Forget the South, Democrats - Stop coddling the spoiled brat of presidential politics.

We all remember Howard Dean's famous Confederate flag line, right? Timothy Noah makes a compelling argument that it was more than misguided; the very notion that it makes sense to chase Southern votes is flawed.

Democrats came tantalizingly close to winning in 2000--some would argue they won--without any Southern states but Florida. They'll never pick off Mississippi or Alabama or Georgia, not in any close election where the Republicans stand a chance. They should circle the wagons around Ohio and Michigan and Pennsylvania, sweep the Northeast, and count on California and the Pacific Northwest to provide the margin they need to win. Trying to kiss up to the backward-thinking electorate of the former Confederacy only gives them an importance they don't deserve. But don't trust me; read Noah's article and let's hear what you think.

'Bill Made It Famous'

Meet the inventor of 'CtrlAltDelete'

Here's something lighter. This guy is a true wit. He wrote the code that lets you restart your crashing computer by hitting three magic buttons. When discussing it, he gave Bill Gates the credit for making his work famous. That's pretty funny. If not for Gates and Windows, would you ever need CtrlAltDelete?

Bad Advice

Dump Cheney Now!

I like the title, but I'm not sure what to make of the content of Maureen Dowd's rather odd op-ed piece today. To lay blame on advisers who gave Bush bad information is to give Bush himself too free a pass. Not that I think Dowd is doing that--or do I? Her writing today is spectacularly unclear, almost as if she were mocking the typical response of the Bush Administration to any question. So below I'd like to discuss two things: is Bush less to blame than those who provided faulty intelligence, and is that what Dowd is saying?

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Trippi-ing Up

Dean Shakes Up Presidential Campaign

I'd say this sort of thing never works, but a few months ago John Kerry got a new campaign team and look at him now. Still, firing the head of the campaign after he brings you from unknown to internet money machine seems a bit rash. On the other hand, if Joe Trippi--who's been sending me e-mails for almost a year now asking for money and support, and convinced me to give both for a while--couldn't convert all that support into wins, it makes sense to look for someone who can. Will this make a difference? I guess we'll know in the next few weeks...what do you think?


Edwards Rejects a Kerry-Edwards Ticket

First, the news above is bad. Let's hope it's just posturing, and that while Edwards doesn't want his supporters to flee to Kerry because they figure they can just have Edwards as the VP, he'll come to his senses if it comes down to VP or nothing. Because really, what will Edwards do after January 3rd, 2005, if he's not in one of the two slots on the Democrats' winning ticket?

Second, Joe Lieberman proved last night that he can't count. To call his finish in the New Hampshire primary a "tie for third" is quite the overstatement. He finished fifth, and wasn't really very close to the two men who did, in fact, tie for third, Edwards and Clark. He camped out in New Hampshire, literally living there for more than a month, and it didn't work. Likewise for Clark, who at least has some support nationally--though that's drying up quickly as more people watch him stumble through his stump speech. Realistically, these two, who banked it all on New Hampshire, should be dropping out now. Refusing to be winnowed isn't going to fool voters in upcoming primary states.

Third, Kerry thumped Dean, and it's hard to imagine a scenario in which Dean finds more than two states to win in the next two weeks. That won't be enough for him. But while Clark and Lieberman will come to their senses when people stop donating money in a week or two, Dean seems likely to keep on trucking through March. His rabid base will keep supporting him, and it's easy to understand why: his speech last night may have been short on details, but it promises to make right a great many things that have gone wrong. Who wouldn't want that?

Kerry, Edwards, Dean. Who will be the nominee? Realistically, these are the only three who still have a shot.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Budget Con

Red Ink Realities

Paul Krugman has been making his case about the real intent behind President Bush's budget for quite a while now, and here he tackles a new wrinkle--calls from the far right to curtail spending ever further because Bush's "bloated budgets" are creating deficits. This is exactly what Krugman predicted: the right is blaming spending for the shortfall rather than the real culprit, a reduction in tax collections to a level lower than any since World War II. Take a look. I especially like Krugman's call for the Democrats to harness this as a campaign issue and explain what's really happening to the American people.

And yes, it's at, and you'll have to register. But it's free, and you can't find content like this just anywhere. There are worse people to give your email address.

Feast and Famine

'Rings' Tops Oscar List; Actors Nominees Surprise

Today is like a national holiday to me. In the morning we get the list of Oscar nominees above; tonight we get a better grip on who we'll nominate for president. For now, my reaction to the Academy Awards:
Good: Return of the King leads all nominees and looks like the can't-miss front-runner now.
Bad: None of the actors from Return of the King are nominated.
Good: Bill Murray got his first nomination, and Sofia Coppola got two, for the sublime Lost in Translation.
Bad: Scarlett Johansson was snubbed after getting nominated for both Lost in Translation and Girl With a Pearl Earring at the Golden Globes.
Good: Mystic River could clean up in the acting awards, with Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, and Marcia Gay-Harden all nominated.
Bad: Laura Linney's chilling performance in Mystic River was ignored.
Good: I don't feel obligated to see Cold Mountain now that the Academy has snubbed it.
Bad: I feel like I should see Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World now that it's got ten nominations.

What do you think of today's nominees?

Monday, January 26, 2004

Make Your Choice

Nation of Second Guesses

I choose to say only that the article above makes some very interesting points about choices and the idea that, sometimes, the more choices you have, the less happy you'll end up with whatever you choose. What do you think?


Kerry Lead Shrinks to Three Points in New Hampshire

Nothing about this makes sense. Dean clearly needs this bounce to stay alive, but the fact that it's him in second place in New Hampshire one day before the primary is something of a shock after last week's events. Have Granite-staters decided to punch his ticket and let the rest of the nation decide if he's worthy?

If I were Kerry right now, I'd be carrying Newsweek around with me on the campaign trail. The latest polling data shows Kerry as the only contender for the nomination who beats Bush in a head-to-head matchup. The margin is only 49-46, and it's obviously months too soon to know what people will really do, but leading Bush in the polls is a new achievement for the Democrats. In a contest of electability, being the man who did it must mean something.

Coronation Day

List of Golden Globes Winners

Last night's events bode well for three events that will make me very happy: Best Picture and Best Director wins for Return of the King and an Oscar nomination for Bill Murray. We'll know about that last matter tomorrow morning, but the other two look a lot more like locks after LOTR swept all four categories in which it was nominated and Cold Mountain was denied all but a single trophy after leading with eight nominations. Other pleasant happenings: Sean Penn and Tim Robbins were recognized for their sublime work in Mystic River--a Best Picture winner any year but this one--and Sofia Coppola got to accept two awards despite the fact that she's up against the Peter Jackson juggernaut in the directing category. Lost in Translation richly deserves the expanded audience that the awards season should garner for it.

On the TV side, it was nice to see Frances Conroy finally win an award for playing Ruth Fisher on Six Feet Under. But her short and classy speech paled in comparison to Ricky Gervais's quote of the night: "I'm from a little place called England. We used to run the world before you." And thank you, Meryl Streep, for using your acceptance speech to mock the policies put forward in President Bush's State of the Union. Anyone who thinks that people who want to get married and athletes who take steroids are the nation's biggest issues should get out more.

Friday, January 23, 2004


Democrats stress own strengths in polite debate

Last night's debate lacked in firepower but still made for entertaining television thanks to two people who have no business still being in the race, Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich. Sharpton's comment that if he were Dean and lost Iowa so badly after spending all that money, he'd be "hooting and hollering" too, was the laugh line of the night. Kucinich pulled out charts that brought back memories of Ross Perot and responded to one question, about the fact that he and Edwards had agreed to pool their delegates in Iowa if necessary, with such candor that the questioner was muted. Meanwhile, Edwards made his claim to Southern charm and moral principle, and Kerry tried to rise above the fray and sound presidential. Clark refused to back away from Michael Moore's draft-dodger label for Bush, and sounded almost foolish in doing so. Dean looked tired and ill--he's both right now, apparently--and stuck to his guns about the middle class tax cut. Lieberman made his last stand by blowing kisses to New Hampshire, pledging to support its primary's first-in-the-nation standing until the day he dies.

In short, nothing much changed. Kerry and Edwards looked and sounded the most electable, and nothing he said will hurt Kerry in the polls that now show him between 8 and 12 points ahead of Dean and far out from the rest of the field. If Kerry wins New Hampshire and Edwards takes South Carolina, it could be a two-man show pretty quickly. But we've all seen how fast this race can change. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Battleship Sunk?

Howard Dean's Campaign Scream--Is It Fatal?

And the beating goes on. Daily tracking shows Howard Dean's numbers tanking in New Hampshire, and you can bet that some new poll showing him crashing on a national level will show up any day now. Meanwhile, he's trying to play it off, but millions are playing it over and over thanks to MP3s like the ones linked in yesterday's post.

Oh, Howard, it was good while it lasted. Should you start thinking about who you'll endorse when you leave the race in South Carolina, in Oklahoma, in Arizona, in North Dakota, in New Mexico, in California, in Texas, in New York, in South Dakota, in Oregon, in Michigan? Yeaeeeaaaah!

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Multiple Choice

MPR: Select A Candidate - President: Survey Page

You should try the quiz above. While it isn't perfect in that it doesn't recognize shades of opinion--it makes no distinction between Bush and Dean on gay rights, for example, because neither is behind gay marriage, but their positions are obviously very different--it does yield interesting numbers. Here are the candidates I agree with, in order from 100-0.
Carol Moseley Braun: 69
Dennis Kucinich: 61
Howard Dean: 61
Al Sharpton: 53
John Kerry: 53
Richard Gephardt: 53
Joe Lieberman: 46
John Edwards: 46
Wesley Clark: 30
George W. Bush: 0

Bring It On

Bush in 30 Seconds

There's never been a better way to use your bandwidth than these 30-second spots opposing President Bush. They're all good, but I especially like the second and third.

We're Not Alone

Dean's Raucous Iowa Speech Lives On

This is hardly a shocker, but it bodes ill for Howard Dean: evidently most of the nation is having the same conversation we've been having here.

Dean's crazed performance Monday night may be a bigger gaffe than $40 million can repair. It's getting play from news organizations--which will no doubt rerun it when his poll numbers and approval ratings go down, as they've already started to do in New Hampshire, by way of explanation--and from late night shows, and you can bet it's going to be the featured clip on Sunday morning, State of the Union be damned.

Yep, Dean may have shouted himself right out of the race.


State of the Union at Home

I planned to offer a full reaction to last night's State of the Union speech. I took notes and everything. But how can I say anything meaningful about a speech that lacked a shred of meaning? President Bush's speech was a sop to his base and a slap to the rest of us, as if to say, "I'll do exactly what I want to do, evidence be damned, and we'll just see if you can beat me." I think the editorial above brings home the fact that, in the shadow of his plans to render the deficit permanent through tax cuts and corporate giveaways, none of Bush's other proposals mean a thing.

Feel free to discuss the speech in the comments below. I'm guessing I'm not the only one who, with expectations as low as they could possibly be for this president, was still disappointed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Three Down, One to Go

Paul Krugman: Going for Broke

Ever insightful, Paul Krugman's take on tonight's State of the Union--potentially the last of Bush's presidency--contemplates a rationale I had never considered. Since no one with any knowledge of numbers could believe Bush's promise to finance both permanent tax cuts and increases in numerous pie-in-the-sky programs (among them his trip to Mars), he must be planning to use a set of wonderful but impossible proposals to win, after which each promise will be discarded.

You have to believe that people will see through this. You have to hope that the media will call him on it, will write the analytical pieces that show, with colorful charts and compelling logic, that the nation can't afford what Bush is proposing.

It's been three years today since Bill Clinton said goodbye in an airplane hangar and President Bush promised to unite rather than divide us, to make things fairer and better for everyone in America. Tonight, Mr. Bush, you can start your farewell. The American people will be smart enough to see through you this time.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Bring It On, John

I'd be lying if I didn't say up front: I'm stunned. No polling data could convince me that Kerry and Edwards would rise from the ashes to finish 1-2 in Iowa.

I'm convinced now. After watching the speeches of all four major candidates tonight, Edwards and Kerry have something that Dean doesn't: they both talk about ideas and real people. Dean's appearance was awful. He listed states, shouted in Spanish, and looked like a madman. More than the fact that he didn't find a way to win Iowa, that turned me against him tonight. And so did something very small: he was not polite. He came on stage when Edwards was still delivering his speech, and to me that's either an inexcusable gaffe or a sign of highly unpalatable aggressiveness and impoliteness.

Speaking of Edwards, his speech was almost Clintonian in excitement and personality. He talks about issues that others shirk, like poverty, and he didn't once bash Bush; even a bloodthirsty liberal like me can appreciate how that positivity plays, especially among the on-the-fence women we need to attract to win back the White House. Oh, and he's pretty attractive, too--he's rich but it doesn't show, and he's just the right balance of pin-up model and average guy. If the race were a beauty pageant, he'd take it.

Poor Gephardt. Edwards and Kerry both graciously acknowledged his years of service, a big plus for me; again, Dean didn't do the basic, decent thing. I know the two of them were in a dogfight, but when a man delivers the knockout punch, his next move should be to lift the guy up off the canvas. I hope Dick Gephardt finds himself the Secretary of Labor a year from now.

And Kerry. Wow. He showed a charisma I hadn't seen before. He sounded presidential, and it's obvious he's learned how to use his experience to his advantage. Please, John, don't run back to your safe strategy. If you're going to win this nomination and challenge George W. Bush, you need to stay as excited and connected with voters as you sounded tonight. Kerry turned the Rove strategy on its head: of course Bush is running on national security. He can't run on jobs! He can't run on national health care! He can't run on leaving no child behind! And the new frontrunner made a statement that warmed my heart: his attorney general won't be John Ashcroft. Kerry knows what gets the base going.

I'm not writing off Dean's chances. And Clark can still make waves. But tonight, it looks a lot more like the Democratic nominee could be named John. And I could be very happy with that.

Dead Again

''Six Feet Under'' will be light and wacky again

Only five more months until Nate and David and Claire reinhabit our lives--and pump some embalming fluid into the less lively. The article above promises interesting developments during season four.

Meanwhile, HBO's signature comedy series is coming to an end; did anyone else see Sex and the City last night? It sounds sick, but giving Samantha cancer was a master stroke. All four characters are growing up just in time for the end of the series. Carrie's Catch-38 was well played out, and Miranda's honeymoon showed that even she has some learning to do. I really hope Carrie realizes that her little speech to Charlotte was true--if she wanted kids so much, she'd already have had them. Petrovsky is the mature man she's been waiting for her whole life. And his accent...who wouldn't want to wake up to that?

One more HBO show: Bill Maher is back! His first show in three months was mostly Al Sharpton, Ron Silver, and Darrell Issa shouting at one another about's sad when Darrell Issa, AKA Father of the California Recall, is the voice of reason on your panel. Bill made some excellent points--he and I agree about how big a deal it was the Bush lied about the reasons for going to war, and that it's deeply disturbing that the President takes pride in not reading the newspaper--but he's going to have to find more cooperative panelists if the new season is going to be as successful as the last.

Wish Come True

Columbus Day Blog

It looks like I got what I wanted. Let's hope that one day, someday soon, Dr. King's dreams come true too.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

New Format

A new review has been posted at 290BOOKS. Starting today, new reviews will be posted to the main site and to the review site for easy archiving. I hope this change makes the site easier to use on a day-to-day basis. Thanks for reading!

Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies

Prologue: I have never been a great fan of the short story, or of collections of short stories. No matter how much I like an author’s work, his or her short story collections are inevitably the hardest for me to get through. I think this has more to do with expectations and momentum than actual content. I expect myself to finish every story I start before I stop reading, and that makes me put pressure on myself—but isn’t that the idea of a short story, that you read it in a single sitting? As far as momentum, once I do finish a single story, there’s nothing familiar waiting when I turn the page to the next one—it’s a whole new world I need to learn, and for me the hardest part of reading a book is starting, so a short story collection presents me with my least favorite part of reading over and over again. Alas…

Argument: Jhumpa Lahiri made it easy for me to forget about my issues with short stories. Her debut collection, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2000, has several themes that bind the stories together, and her talent for letting each story unfold is remarkable. I read the first story, “A Temporary Matter,” at 5 AM on an airplane, and it was only the fact that I was sitting next to a stoic Canadian man that prevented me from crying at the end. In 20 pages Lahiri made me care about the couple in the story, made me understand their entire past, the tragedies they had survived, and the pain that they now sought to escape and put behind them. The ending, like the ending to each story in the collection, could go either way, but none of the surprises that arrive toward the end of a tale feel forced; they flow almost inevitably from the story, no matter how unlikely they seem until you read them.

There is not a bad story in this collection. At only 200 pages it presents a week’s worth of nightly reading. As you may guess from the author’s name, all of the stories feature aspects of life in India or as an Indian living in America, particularly the East Coast. They are windows on a culture that is a quiet presence in Chicago and across most of the nation, a culture that we do not often see into as deeply as Lahiri allows us to in this work.

Other recent short story collections of note:
Adam Haslett, You Are Not A Stranger Here
David Sedaris, Naked or Me Talk Pretty One Day
Richard Russo, The Whores Child
Michael Chabon, A Model World and Werewolves in Their Youth

Tune In

'The O'Franken Factor'

I don't listen to the radio in the car, but this might change things. Al Franken on the radio every day is a dream come true for me. You may think of him as a goofy liberal, but read what he had to say in this interview and I think you'll start to realize that he's actually pretty smart and understands the issues.

Friday, January 16, 2004


Candidates Slam Bush on Pickering

This shouldn't be a surprise at all, considering who we're dealing with, but I was stunned to read that Bush has put Pickering on the federal bench and bypassed the Senate. He must be very confident that his base alone can deliver the election, because this isn't the way to court minority voters.

One More

Masters of Deception

This deserves its own comment string. I almost wish Al Gore was running again this year. He really knows his stuff.


Op-Ed Columnist: Who Gets It?

This link gives all of you access to Paul Krugman's latest article about the Democratic race, which Brian mentioned in the comments about Carol Moseley Braun. It's pretty astute and sort of brings me back around to Dean again.

Other miscellany:

Ellen will be on Six Feet Under this season. Yes, that Ellen. So will Mena Suvari, she of rose petals in American Beauty fame.

John Shoop is out as Bears offensive coordinator. (The sound you hear is an entire city cheering.) I hope Lovie hires someone willing to throw the ball whose name can be part of the new Gilligan's Island theme.

John Kerry, of all people, is in the lead in Iowa. We could have skipped the last year of campaigning, evidently. I'm still skeptical that he'll actually win the caucuses. All those Rolling Stone readers in Iowa will doubtless be swayed by Howard Dean's appearance on the cover this week.

If you missed Friends last night, you may have missed the last Monica-is-a-clean-freak joke of the series. "If only there were a smaller one to clean this one!" she shrieked as she used a Dustbuster to clean her industrial-strength vacuum cleaner. The writers are mocking their characters, but it's still bittersweet to watch the final episodes of a show that feels like an old friend.

The Friends and Frasier finales will be two hours each--an hour of retrospective and a one-hour final episode. They'll run on consecutive Thursdays: May 6 and May 13. Don't plan on calling me between 7 and 9 PM those nights.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

An Honor

Last night's episode of West Wing was pleasing for many reasons. Charlie had lines again, and so did Donna; they hadn't been used as much lately. Stockard Channing's return was welcome, as was her character's vow to be more involved--it's always fun to watch the First Couple bicker. The parenthetical storytelling showed that the writers are still trying to do clever and interesting things. And I always like it when Jed decides to think about history when it seems like bad politics and it turns out his instincts are also the best thing for him politicially.

Unfortunately, the snap of the writing still isn't quite back. A lot of the dialogue between Charlie and Michelle wasn't very engaging, and I don't think she really understood what he meant when he said Bartlet isn't just the president to him. Unless she comes back, I don't know if we'll ever get to hear him clarify it. I'm sure what he has to say would involve a father figure, not a feeling of power as Michelle seemed to suspect.

And the meeting of CJ, Leo, Josh, Angela, and Toby to discuss how to handle the pardons was filled with dialogue that I've already purged from my memory. Even Sorkin would have made that moment corny, but the "let's get to work" thing was kind of silly.

I did love the moment when Josh sees Joey Lucas, after saying to Donna that he thinks the time is right to make a move with her, and discovers she's quite pregnant. Even better, from my Donna-and-Josh-belong-together perspective, was the moment when Donna said she needed to stop taking things to heart and Josh said he hopes she doesn't. Did anyone else hear "I love you just the way you are" playing in the background? Must have been my imagination.

Eight is Enough

Moseley Braun to Drop Out, Endorse Dean

Carol Moseley Braun brought a certain charm and dignity to the Democratic presidential race. It's time for her to accept that she won't win--though I'm sure she accepted that a long time ago--but I hope she reaps benefits from having run. Being back in the news will certainly help her, and having run for president should increase her stature and maybe get her invited to sit on some corporate boards.

The next woman to run for the nomination will win it. I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Lighter Fare

AFC title game is the real Super Bowl

For those who don't want to engage in a discussion of the merits of war in Iraq or the Democratic presidential candidates, here's an excuse to talk about football again. Does anyone think the eventual Super Bowl champion won't be either the Colts or the Patriots, depending on who wins this weekend?

Almost Time to Decide

Hard-Headed Howard:
Dean can win, with a little tough love

This William Saletan article is a pretty good statement of what Dean needs to change if he wants to win. While his argument that the Bush tax plan effectively raised taxes on middle class folks has merit, he's not going to win a general election trying to sell that in the face of Bush and Rove. He needs to admit defeat on this one and join the rest of his fellow Democratic candidates in calling for keeping the middle class tax brackets the same as they are post-Bush while returning the higher brackets to their pre-Bush levels. Raising taxes on the middle class, however sensible, won't win the election.

Inside Looking In

Paul O'Neill, Unplugged, or What Would Alexander Hamilton Have Done?

This article gives a nice account of Paul O'Neill's time as Treasury Secretary. It even gives President Bush credit for recognizing that his second round of tax cuts for the rich was unnecessary and shows how he was overruled by his political advisers. And it confirms what many of us have feared: that policy decisions in this administration are made by the political crew, not the people who have been crunching numbers and studying real issues. How can that not frighten people?

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Late Whistle

Here's a thought, which I doubt is original to me but which I haven't seen before: ten years ago USC would have been the undisputed national champion based on its season. Why? Because they would have finished 11-0-1, and that would have made them the only team in the nation without a loss. The change to the college game that created perpetual overtime until a winner is declared--and sometimes that means seven overtime periods--made it possible for USC to lose to California in triple overtime, and thus for the title to be split.

And why don't ties exist anymore? In part, I'll wager, so that the BCS calculations can ignore them and simply count losses. A change made to enable the BCS to work is exactly what caused it not to work this year. Isn't that charming?

Just in Time

Details emerge in sex lawsuit

Remember IPA? The job from hell that lasted two very long days?

The long hours, harsh lighting, rude people, and unethical business practices weren't the only reasons to run. Turns out they're being sued--by more than 100 people--for sexual harassment.

This could explain why one of my "coworkers" said the hours were long and the work was punishing, but it was definitely worth it. I guess I should be happy to be awake and headed for a totally different workplace this morning.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Kill Who?

Miramax has delayed the release of part two of Kill Bill from February 20 to April 16. By then, will I even remember who Bill is?

This Could Get Ugly

White House Rejects O'Neill Criticism

Apparently nicknaming people only keeps them on your side for so long. After nearly three years in office, George W. Bush finally has first insider attack.

Watching someone who was fired mount an attack on his former employer is always a bit suspect, but it's hard to ignore some of what Paul O'Neill is saying. More and more, it looks like Saddam was a self-aggrandizing thug, but not a terribly immediate threat to the United States, and certainly no more dangerous to us than several other petty tyrants. It's easy to see why neoconservatives saw the Iraq war as step one in a global quest to end all tyranny. If Iraq was fit to be a target, why not Syria? Why not Iran? Whether those wars come to pass or not, the view from the present makes it look very much like our current involvement in Iraq is the result of a personal (Bush family) obsession and political sleight-of-hand (Bin Laden=Saddam) rather than the principled invasion we were sold. I know that doesn't particularly bother some of you who think that the end of Saddam justifies the means, but it bothers me quite a bit.

20 Hours in America

It's back! Season four of The West Wing starts on Bravo tonight. Watch as Rob Lowe backpedals out the door and Josh Malina swoops in to pick up the pieces.

Speaking of WW, does anyone have any theories about Charlie's shocking choice this Wednesday? I'm curious how he can communicate any decisions at all with the three lines per episode the writers are giving him this season. Maybe Dule Hill is running away from the show? At least we'll have Joey Lucas back on Wednesday.

Sunday, January 11, 2004


I'm back. Maui was hot and wonderful and perhaps too sunny for my skin.

I played a round of golf only a few miles away from the place where Tiger Woods was playing at the very same time.

Give me a day to process and unpack and I'll have more.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Aloha from Paradise

Hello from the most beautiful place I've ever seen.

Happy 24th birthday to Brian. Hope all my Chicago friends are enjoying the snow.

USC and LSU sharing the college title is the only fair way this could have turned out.

Wesley Clark was on Tim Russert's show last night and sounded reasonable.

That is all.

Friday, January 02, 2004

On the Nose

Romancing the Tire Swing - What's up with that hokey Levitra ad? By Seth Stevenson

OK, this is an odd article to link to as my last post prior to my weeklong Maui excursion, but the commercial it discusses drove me crazy while I was home the past week. (Tells you a lot about how much time I wasted, doesn't it?) In short, the article asks: isn't showing a man throwing a football through a tire swing over and over after taking Levitra such an obvious explanation of what the product does that they may as well have said what it does in the ad? I'm not very easy to scandalize when it comes to sex talk, as many of you know, but this ad makes me more than a bit uncomfortable.

I don't think that's because the ad is too sexually overt. (They could have shown the actual use of the drug and I doubt I'd have batted an eye.) I think it's because the ad is bad. But it made me remember Levitra, so I guess it's working. Maybe in three decades I'll ask my doctor about it.

Have a splendid week free of my commentary, and I'll be back soon.