OK, I admit I got this idea from somethingawful.com, but there is so much comic possibility in alternative universes and timelines that I couldn't help but think up some truly twisted scenarios. OK, the set up is that Sam can jump anywhere in world during his lifetime, right? Well, lets just throw in history according to various movies, TV shows and whatnot. Here we go! (Warning: The plots suggested here are purely for comedic purposes. If they offend you, for whatever reason, I advise you to take that stick out of your ass. This is comedy, not my view on how things SHOULD have gone)
1) "April 1986: Company Man"
In this episode Sam jumps into the body of a CIA assassin sent to kill Gorbachev, as he is viewed by the US as being too young and possibly capable of making his own decisions. The US wishes to continue to rely on the predictable Politburo to make decisions while figureheads near death continue to be the public face of the USSR. Obviously, when this first happened, the plot failed, Gorby helped set the Soviets on a course for disaster, and Communisim fell. Which released rogue nukes and weapons into the world and set the stage for the age of terror we now live in. With Al's help, Sam seduces Gorby's wife, Raisa, and convinces her to defect to the US. She lets Sam into Gorby's apartment where he makes his death look like a bizzare accident involving silly string, a stripper, and two pounds of caviar. Sadly, Sam fails to jump just before his CIA handlers kill him and Raisa because they know too much. In the alternate future, the Soviet Union never collapses, wins in Afghanistan, and the cold war staus quo is maintained until the late 90's when China and the Soviets enter into a prolonged battle over oil and destroy themselves in the process. The US comes in, cleans up both countries, and adds them on as additional states.
2) "January 1968: Tit for TET"
Sam leaps into the body of Walter Cronkite during the TET offensive during the Vietnam war. Knowing that the influential newsman's horribly biased and blatantly false take on what was in fact a massive US Victory helped lead to America's loss in the war, Sam takes to the airwaves and describes the heoric movement of US troops. Inspired by this news, and the knowledge that Sam secretly provides, that the VietCong command structure has been virtually wiped out, the Pentagon pushes for one giant assault on what's left of the communist resistance in the South. The US declares victory 3 months later. Meanwhile, Al has to almost beat into Cronkite that bias has no place in the news and that his moral judgement is similar to that of a lemur. In a subplot, Sam convinces aspiring newswoman Barbara Walters to abandon news and live in a hut on top of a high mountain. She is never heard from again. After Sam jups, Cronkite becomes lead editorial writer for "National Review", Dan Rather is called up to the big leagues too early, and is fired for using too many "crazy Texas analogies". In other news, Johnson runs for reelection, wins, and in 1972 Reagan becomes president, which ends the Cold War almost 20 years early when he threatens to drop Dan Rather on Moscow. Sam leaps home and is greated by his long-lost love, Raisa Gorbachev, aka Raisa Beckett, as she never married the failed communist leader after the USSR collapsed. Everyone lives happily ever after.
3) "October 2001 - The Final Sacrifice"
After learning of the Sept. 11th Attacks, Sam convinces his science team to do whatever they can to get him into a person who could stop the attacks. Meanwhile, Al has been court matialed(he was an Admiral, remember?)for selling state secrets to Canada, which he only did to raise money to keep the Quantum Leap program alive to stop the Sept. 11th attacks. Before he can be shot, however, he escapes into the time machine and vanishes. He arrives in the body of Osama bin Laden, days before the attack. Sadly, he canot prevent the devestation. However, Sam, who has leaped into the body of one of Osama's wives, tells him that if he surrenders to the US, he can avoid hideous bloodshed. He does, brings peace to the world, and then is knifed in jail. Sam stays as a goat, and is eventually eaten(note-this is the "Life's a Downer" ending.
So there you go. If I think of any more, I'll let you know.
:: C.M. Burns 7/29/2003 04:31:00 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, July 28, 2003 ::
RIP Bob Hope
He died today at 100. A credit to the entertainment industry and a man who sacrificed much to entertain our war-weary troops for 50 years, he will be missed. Godspeed, sir.
:: C.M. Burns 7/28/2003 03:20:00 PM [+] ::
Joseph P. Kennedy-American Bastard Part 2 of an Ongoing Series
Since JFK drove his PT Boat into a Japanese Destroyer and then saved his reputation by basically almost killing himself to save his surviving crew, the Kennedy's have been at the forefront of American Politics. Books are written all the time, and I'm especially looking forward to reading "An Unfinished Life", the new, suposedly excellent JFK bio. As a rule, I've always liked JFK and his brother Bobby. The rest I have little use for. And I'll tell you why. Their father.
The patriarch of this fading political dynasty was a man named Joe Kennedy, a real SOB who made his fortune bootlegging and smuggling, was a pro-Hitler type before the war(certainly worse than Charles Lindbergh, who, while almost certainly an isolationsit, at least had the guts to try to sign up to fight again once war broke out. Kennedy sent his kids.) and had ties to the Thrid Reich that have always been murky at best. He also had lots of kids, legitimate and illegitimate, and he probably kept the illegitimate ones locked in a basement full of rats, though I can't prove that so I'm not stating it as fact. Still, he had a whole lot of Kids, including Joe Jr, Jack, Bobby, Teddy, Eunice, Rosemary, and a couple others. He probably had trouble telling them apart.
Anyway, Joe Kennedy got appointed as ambassador to the UK in the 30's, and knew what Hitler had in mind for his Jewish population. According to Morton Downey, Jr., who's father was a friend of Joe Kennedy's ,"... if Joe had his way, Hitler would have succeeded in his annihilation of the Jews....He always found great favor in Hitler. He would have loved to see him succeed."
Kennedy also assured German diplomats that the US only wanted freindly relations with Germany. Of course, once they attacked the UK, Joe could not get his way, so he sent his sons off to fight.
Joe Kennedy was grooming his oldest son, Joe Jr., for a career in politics. However, that dream ended tragically, as his son had only positive characteristics(Joe's biggest mistake was probably taking them to church), and was killed on a top secret mission he undertook in August if 1944. Some say that the reason Joe Jr. volunteered for this mission was because he was ashamed of Joe Sr.'s rep as a coward. Either way, Joe Jr. died a hero and had a naval vessell named after him for his bravery. However, Joe Sr. needed another son to sacrifice at the alter of his own personal dreams. That son was John F. Kennedy.
After Joe Jr. died, Joe Sr. essentially ordered JFK into politics. He fixed elections using cash, mob ties, and old style Boston Politics, which is to say, he fixed votes. I don't blame JFK for this. His father was an incredibly intimidating figure. Plus, I think he did some good during his time in politics. He wasn't the best president, but he wasn't a puppet for his father, either. That doesn't change the fact that Joe bought every election JFK ever ran. Even worse, Joe pretty much arranged the marriage between JFK and Jackie. That JFK was a womanizer was well known, but back then everybody hushed up on it. It was a common curtosey. Plus Joe might eat their children, or something less outlandish but certainly horrible.
Now, in the early 40's, Joe decided to get his daughter lobotomized. She was a little shy and withdrawn, and Kennedy's can't be that way, so he had the doctors cut oper her skull. sadly, the operation didn't go all that well, and since Rosemary was no longer funtionably sociable, Joe had her shipped to a nunnery in Wisconsin, where she stayed, outcast from her family. How much about this the brothers knew is unknown, as they were at war at the time, and Joe probably convinced them she had a fit or something. Anyway, today the line is she was born retarded and her mother, Rose, just as guilty in the whole affair as Joe Sr., kept her "normal" through great personal efforts. Kennedy was a real bastard wasn't he?
Anyway, Joe was the background player and moneyman for most of Jack's political career. He arranged the mob connection in Chicago that essentially won the 1960 presidential campaign. Sam Giancana, one of the most ruthless gangsters of his time, called Joe "one of the biggest crooks who ever lived". Through the mob, Frank Sinatra was drafted to help Kennedy win. However, Frank didn't need convincing. He believed in Kennedy like so many others, not really knowing who was lurking in the background, that being Joe Kennedy. He threw himself into the campaign wholeheartedly. Though it is believed that he helped provide payoffs to local officials during the very important West Virginia primary that knoced Hubert Humphrey out of the race, and gave the nomination to JFK.
Once nominated, Jack was not supported by one of the most honest men ever to hold the office of President, Harry Truman. Accused of not backing him because he was catholic, Truman declared I'm not against the Pope, I'm against the Pop. True, Truman's reputation has suffered due to anti-semetic comments he made while in office, but, once he broke free of the Missouri political machine that made him a Senator, he also had a reputation of disaparging those who would use money to buy influence. He knew who Joe Kennedy was, and even his media-proof son couldn't fool him. Also, Eleanor Roosevelt, who was still a force to be reckoned with, called JFK one of "the new managerial elite that has neither principles nor character."
History has shown that JFK did, in fact, have principles and character. She was most likely disturbed at how he was nominated, through Joe's money and mob ties. And, of course, who could forget Cook County and the scandal there. Although within his right too, Richard Nixon probably made one his few selfless decsions ever as a politician by not tossing the country into tumoil by asking for a recount. JFK was elected, and Camelot was born.
Then a funny thing happened, something that Joe and his mob buddies did not expect. JFK appointed Bobby, his brother, to the post of Attorney General. RFK did not care much for his father, and, while ruthless, was a generally moral man. He did hate the mob, and made it his goal to prosecute them while he was AG. Distancing himself from his father, JFK proposed civit rights initiatives and other programs that would help out most Americans, hurt the speical interests his father courted, and backed his brother over J. Edgar Hoover's insessent quest to root out communisim instead of the mob. So Joe Kennedy's sons let him down, whether out of spite or principle depends on your faith in human nature. I tend to think the Bobby was doing it out of spite, and JFK out of human nature. He may have been a womanizing millionaire playboy, and he may have let his father run his campaigns, but once he hit the presidency, he wanted to do good. I still don't think he was much of a president, but he had the right intentions. After JFK's assination(Mob-hit because of RFK's push to get the Mob? Payback for Joe?), Bobby took on the mantle of reform crusader, fighting against poverty, war and corruption, three things that had made dear old dad rich. Then he was killed, and a year and a half later, old Joe died as well. Today, just one son lives on in politics, Teddy, the bloated, drunken old 60's liberal who stands for what he believes in, but pretty much killed that girl back at Chappaquidic, so he doesn't get a free pass.
In the end, Joe Kennedy was singularly responsible, in my opinion, for a whole lot of misery and for the corruption of modern politics. He brought the local corruption in Boston to the national stage, and, while Nixon would cement distrust in government in 1975, pretty much started a wave of awfulness in american politics that never went away. He was a racist, possibly a facist, who used his own children as pawns in his own twisted game. In the end, the world may well have been a better place had Joseph P Kennedy, Sr. never been born. It certainly would have hurt the tabloid industry if he hadn't been. The man was an American Bastard of the highest order, and if there's a God in Heaven, Joe is burning below right now. The Son of a Bitch.
Edit: For extra fun, check out Joe's FBI file. Actually quite interesting and rather long. You can do word searches through Acrobat that help you find the fun stuff. Check it out here.
:: C.M. Burns 7/28/2003 03:10:00 PM [+] ::
Yankee's History in a Nutshell
The altogether evil and not at all nice New York Yankees turn 100 this year. And my Beloved Cubs get one year closer to that "No World Series Title in 100 Years" award they've been trying so hard to get. We're gonna get it first Boston! You've pulled a lot of defeats from the jaws of victory, but I still say the Cubs meltdown in 1984's NLCS Game 5 is worse than your Game 6 Meltdown in 1986 against the Mets! Plus, Bill Buckner, he of the lightning glove, was a CUB first! So there!. Anyway, read about the awful, evil history of the Devil's own home team, the New York Yankees, right here.
:: C.M. Burns 7/28/2003 01:57:00 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, July 25, 2003 ::
Kobe Story Starting to Spin Badly Out of Control
A was somewhat shocked this morning to read that an LA Radio Talk Show Host had named the woman who has accused Kobe Bryant of raping her. Well, perhaps shocked isn't the right word. I mean, it's already obvious that this case is going out of control. Already rumors about both Bryant and the woman have been running around the meida covering the crime. Now, the only two people who KNOW if it was rape or not are Bryant and his accuser. Bryant is innocent until proven guilty. The burden is on the prosecution to make the case. This does not mean, however, that the accuser's privacy should be invaded, that if she wishes to remain annonymous to the public that she should be denied that. When Radio Talk Show hosts start outing people, what have we come to in society? I know this is an old complaint, as the Media has been fueling our scandal-addled minds for far too long, but lets have some decency. You've got alleged "freinds" of the woman going on the record saying she's crazy, or star struck, or whatnot. In addition to polluting the jury pool, it's irresponsible of the media to take someone who iswilling to bash their "friend" as a friend of the person, as logically they would shut up and wait until trial. What really rilled me up, however, was the talk show host's justification for outing the woman:
"We're told that rape is violence, not sex, and if that's true there's no reason she should feel shame or embarrassment,"
What the fuck? Dude, I may not be mister sensitive on a lot of things, but I've known women who have been raped or sexual assaulted or just plain assaulted. Yes, pape is violent and not sexual, but it is psychologically scarring. It's well documented that a victim of Rape will feel ashamed and embarrased. I took one psych class in college and learned that. The hosts name is Tom Leykis, who thinks she is lying and doesn't see what all the fuss is about. She may will be lying, it's true, but until the facts are out he can't know that, nor can he know that she's not humiliated by the whole experience. Let's hope he gets arrested, sent to the toughest prison in California, and is gang raped in the shower on a daily basis. Then, lets tell everyone. See what he thinks then. What a fucking moron.
:: C.M. Burns 7/25/2003 11:14:00 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, July 23, 2003 ::
The Jessica Lynch Story & Why the Media Sucks
PFC Jessica Lynch came home to West Virginia yesterday, honored by her town, the governor, and an army of media coverage. There was a marching band, speeches, and a statement from Lynch. All this hooplah because what other people did for her. I'm not saying she isn't brave. Everyone in the military, in my opinion, possesses a degree of bravery that I may, in fact, not possess myself. However, for all the attention she's gotten, she really doesn't deserve it. The soldiers who rescued her, while vindicated after erroneous reports calling their conduct into question from the BBC were proven to be based on misinformation and outright lies, aren't getting any parades or speeches from the governor. They probably don't mind, as special forces types usually shun the limelight. Still, you can't help but wonder at it. The other real hero is the Iraqi lawyer who risked his life and his families life to tell the Army where she was. He'll probably have a bit part in the movie of the week based on Lynch's capture. Lynch herself didn't ask for any of this. She was just doing her job. It's not her fault her convoy got lost, or that she got captured. She was injured and was a prisoner, and got the appropriate medals for those events. However, she got a bronze star, which my Grandfather got in WWII with Patton in Africa, so I know they aren't easy to get. Why did she get it? I would argue publicity from the Army. Everyone loves her because she's an American POW who was rescued in dramatic fashion, lets give her a medal. I can't think of anything in any other report about what she did that says she deserves a Bronze Star.
Then there is the media attention, helped in part by a very aggressive Pentagon marketing campaign. I really didn't care much about that until I saw a very tough article in the Washington Post last week. It was about soldiers who had lost limbs in Iraq, and were now facing an uncertain future. They had no adoring crowds greeting them, nor any speeches by politicians honoring them. They got the Purple Heart, like Lynch, but that's about it. They will go through rehabilitation annoymously, their loss and deads known only to their comrades and loved ones. I know that for these soldiers that is more than enough, but to see all this praise heaped on one person who would have remained anonymous to the public had she not been captured makes my stomach turn a bit. I get the feeling it upsets Lynch a bit, too. Sure, she took a sweet deal from CBS for her story, but they offered. Few would turn it down. I would take it. But yesterday she mentioned the soldiers who died next to her when they were ambushed. She misses them. And that's what most soldiers who die get-someone who misses them. In the great march of life, being missed is probably a higher honor than a CBS movie deal, but from looking at the spectacle yesterday, you'd hardly know it.
:: C.M. Burns 7/23/2003 11:54:00 AM [+] ::
Clinton To Bush's Defense? Makes Sense
Bill Clinton, apparently, was on Larry King last night as part of Larry's Bob Dole 80th Birthday Fiesta. I didn't see it. But the Hotline's Early Bird this morning and Nation Review Online have posted a part of the transcript in which Larry asks the former President about the whole uranium "scandal". Clinton basically said what all of those who know anything about intelligence estimates and whatnot have been saying: that Bush probably shouldn't have used it, and he actually commended the White House for admitting that, but that when he left office in January of 2001,
there was a substantial amount of biological and chemical material unaccounted for. That is, at the end of the first Gulf War, we knew what he had. We knew what was destroyed in all the inspection processes and that was a lot. And then we bombed with the British for four days in 1998. We might have gotten it all; we might have gotten half of it; we might have gotten none of it. But we didn't know. So I thought it was prudent for the president to go to the U.N. and for the U.N. to say you got to let these inspectors in, and this time if you don't cooperate the penalty could be regime change, not just continued sanctions.
So Clinton agrees that there really isn't much of a scandal here, and does not agree with other Democrats about Bush "misleading" the Nation into war. Not that they'll listen to him, as they're busy making something out of nothing, but at least he's morphed into elder statesman mode pretty well.
:: C.M. Burns 7/23/2003 09:20:00 AM [+] ::
:: Friday, July 18, 2003 ::
The Dawning of a New Foreign Policy
Victor David Hanson, a columnist for National Review and a military and classical historian has written another of his remarkably brilliant columns on the Bush Adminisration's new foreign policy. In fact, this column seems to be one that sums up all that is good about the new policy, and all that was bad about the old one in regards to the Middle East, which Hanson traces back to Jimmy Carter, and blames the continuation of it on every American President since, including Ronald Reagan. It's a sober, well balanced, rational argument, and it's better than anything the President's critics or supporters have said about the new direction the US is taking. If you read one thing this week about American Foreign Policy, read this column.
:: C.M. Burns 7/18/2003 10:51:00 AM [+] ::
Tony Blair Is Damn Cool
I remember when Tony Blair took over at No. 10 Downing Street back in the mid-90's. Pundits on both sides of the atlantic called him a Clinton wannabe, that is to say, he was a member of "New" Labour, like Clinton was a "New" Democrat. There were endless columns about how he was actually trying his hardest to BE Clinton. After his leadership and strength during the Iraq situation, and especially after his incredibly eloquent speech before Congress yesterday(The last time a speaker that good was in the well of the House was 1988 and the speaker was Ronald Reagan), all those pundits should apologize to Blair for comparing him to Clinton, as Blair is a dedicated man of principle, and of course, Clinton had no principles. Here's the line that almost made me cheer at work yesterday:
Can we be sure that terrorism and WMD will join together? If we are wrong, we will have destroyed a threat that, at its least is responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering. That is something I am confident history will forgive. But if our critics are wrong and we do not act, then we will have hesitated in face of this menace, when we should have given leadership. That is something history will not forgive.
The funny thing is, Blair is a liberal, some would say semi-socialist. He and Bush probably only agree on foreign policy. Yet, perhaps because he knows that ideological differences should be shed in the face of a common enemy, he supports President Bush and stands by both of their actions. The political equivalent of Blair here, which I guess is Tom Dashele, or maybe even Howard Dean, would rather beat up on Dubya than help him face the common and dangerous threat Islamo-facisim presents to not just the West, but all who yearn for freedom, including the Iranians. He is a hell of a man, and a good friend to this nation. I salute him.
:: C.M. Burns 7/18/2003 09:19:00 AM [+] ::
:: Thursday, July 17, 2003 ::
The ESPY's Sold Out But Good
ESPN held their 11th annual ESPY awards last night, LIVE in LA. I remember the first ESPY's, becasue I am old and bitter, and because they were just a semi-serious diversion that was simply a lot of fun to watch. It was about sports, nothing else. I'm unhappy to report that the ESPY awards have become as self-important as every other awards show out there. In fact, for sheer overrated crap, they rival the Golden Globe Awards.
Now, they actually have a red carpet pre-show that lasts a fucking hour long. It was hosted by Rick Berman, one of the last of the original ESPN reporters, who looked like he wanted to flee from the cameras, former sportscaster Pat O'Brien, who left sports news for the far more rewarding and humanitarian world of Entertainment reporting, where he now sucks up to the likes of Carrot Top on a nightly basis. I think his co-host also did interviews. Anyway, the interviewed the athletes as they came down the carpet, and then, astonishingly, they interviewed actual "celebreties"(Angie Everhart, Lara Flynn Boyle, possibly the Jerry Maguire kid). They needed an hour to do this. On a sports network. God help us.
The actuall awards show itself was hosted by Jaime Foxx, perhaps taking a step down from his previous hosting duties of the Video Music Awards, but I'm not sure since this is the first time I've seen him in anything since I accidentally watched "Held Up" on HBO last year. Anyway, it was sad to see. The awards themselves were the same catagories, but it seemed like everyone was taking it so much more seriously. They even had two "serious" awards. The one I don't object to is the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. I like this. Ashe was a great athelete, and an inspiration, and although I can think of better ways to honor him than naming an honorary ESPY after him, it's not like it's the only thing his name is on, so i say it's OK. It went to Richard Tillman, who's brothers had left their Baseball and Football careers to fight in Iraq. Nice.
The second special award is one that is probably going to get me sent to hell for ranting about, but their was already a 60-40 chance I was headed their anyway, so here it goes. A special ESPY was given to Jake Porter, a kid who's got a form of mental retardation and who scored a 49-yard touchdown in his final game at his High School. Now, this isn't a story of beating the odds. this isn't "Rudy", folks. His coach and the oppossing team's coach told their players that they wanted to give Porter a "lasting memory", and to let him score. Now, normally I hate the sort of "let 'em score" thing. But since this is High School, I think it's actually kinda sweet. Sure, I bet there were probably 20 kids on each team who never got a free touchdown, and they aren't mentally handicapped, but they probably didn't score because they are poor athletes and sit on the bench just to pad their college apps, where this kid probably isn't going that far in life, and will have precious few chances for a "lasting memory". His handicap is not his fault, so it's no big deal that he got to score a free touchdown while the bench warmers didn't, and everyone gets to feel good about themselves, and the coaches can pat each other on the back and for a brief moment everyone will forget that High School football coaches are by definition losers who can barely read, let alone coach a competitive team. I objected to the incident a few years back where a female college basketball player was one point away from breaking the NCAA record for most career points. Then she broke her leg, or something else career-ending, and was going to be denied this record. Well, the coaches got together and decided to put her in on the opening play and let her hobble down the court to score a basket and break the record. Thsi made me sick. People's hopes and dreams are dashed by injury in sport all the time. They don't get moments in the spotlight afterward. They move on. Their coaches don't arrange for them to score one last point. Her career was over. They were playing in a competition. She had no business on that court, and those coaches tarnished the record and the game in the interests of making everybody feel good about themselves. Frankly, I might quit a team over something like that. It's insulting to everybody. But with this Porter kid, well, I can't object.
But what I did object to, and the reason I will be burning along with Katherine Hepburn, Princess Di, and JFK is that I think giving the kid an honorary ESPY, putting him up on stage, and then giving him a standing fucking ovation for, basically, being mentally handicapped is sick. This is why the ESPY's have sold out. They did this not just so the kid would have a moment that most people never get near, and not for lack of effort, but to make them feel good about themselves. The kid had his moment. Why give him another? Why make a mockery of sports awards? The Speical Olympics is for handicapped athletes. Why an ESPY? I don't see any other handicapped athletes getting awards from ESPN. What about all those in the Special Olympics who train and fight their handicaps and DO actually compete? Why is their no "Best Handicapped Athlete" ESPY? Well, I guess we'll just have to ask ESPN about that one. I for one am urging a letter writing campaign. Imagine you're a parent of a handicapped athelete. Your son or daughter maybe won an event in the special olympics, after training, perhaps fighting severe handicaps. Then this kid who gets a freebee Touchdown is given a spot on a National Awards Show? I'd be sickened. I think this is exploitive of ESPN. They used poor Jake Porter to make themselves feel better. Hollywood does this all the time, which is the final nail in the coffin of the ESPY's. Jesus I'm pissed off. What a fucking joke.
I think I'll start my own awards show that gives out awards for the worst moments in awards shows. First up-Worst Pandering, to ESPN.
:: C.M. Burns 7/17/2003 10:55:00 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, July 16, 2003 ::
Maybe The Dems are Rethinking Campaign Finance
Big political headlines today, with Uranium-gate doing what it does best, sort of sitting there not REALLY inflicting damage but appearing that it does, by virtue of having "gate" added to it. It's still an important issue, however, and if the White House was lying, I am upset, or if the CIA was wrong I am upset, as we deserve better in our intellegence community for the ammount of money we shell out to the spooks. However, did we really invade Iraq over uranium? No, thatw as just part of it, and certainly not the deciding factor. Anyway, that's not the point. Credibility is important, and while I think this is being overblown, I'd like clearer answers. I'm willing to wait, or the Bush White House will look more like Clinton's when it comes to PR soon.
Anyway, the REALLY big story, the one with major implications for next year's election is this: The President has outraised his 9 Democratic challengers combined, taking in a whopping $33.4 Million during the second quarter if the year. Even more amazingly. it's all hard money, coming from 105,000 individual donors, which averages out to maybe $350 a person. Only about 10,000 people gave the new max donation of $2000. And the GOP thought campaign finance reform was a bad idea! Perhaps Bush and Rove knew what they were doing when the President signed the bill, and more and more John McCain looks like a hero. True, the law will eventually be struck down as unconstutional, but until then, the Democrats are in trouble. Here's why:
1: At the current pace, no clear Democratic frontrunner will emerge until after South Carolina's primary. That's a long way off. So the 9 Dems will continue to split their potential donors. No one will amass a war chest even near Bush's, as he will need to spend virtually nothing until after the Convention.
2: The President is getting more individual donations than his Democratic opponents, and they aren't all maxed out donations from the rich. The Democrats actually have fewer donations and in a larger dollar amounts. For all the complaints that the GOP gets about rich people donating, the average person seems to perfer them to the Democrats. This is going to hurt them once they get a candidate, while Bush will have almost limitless funds.
3: The Democrats can't get the soft money they need because of the new law. Democratic candidates have historically relied more on soft money donations and issue ads put out my special interests groups, such as NARAL, Teachers Unions, Environmental Groups, and Unions in general. Under the new law, they can still do the ads, but the restrictions on endorsements is much stricter. The Democratic urge to "reform" campaingns will kill them in 2004. The funny thing is, this is the best example ever of the substance of legislation being trumped by it's "message". Democrats rushed to embrace reform because the GOP was against it. They said the GOP was against it because they were beholden to the rich and to PACs. It wasn't really true. The GOP mainly opposed it on secure ideological grounds(these were dismissed as silly and "convenient"). The Democrats, however, didn't pay that much attention to what they were actually passing. I have a friend who works for an Dem. Congressman who shall remain unnamed. He told me that when the lawyers explained the new rules to the Congressmen and Senators, the general reaction was "We voted for THAT!?".
In the end, Feingold and McCain had their hearts in the right place. They felt special interests were wielding too much power in campaigns, and decided to change it. So they did, and Democrats are against anything that benefits "special interests", which usually means groups like the NRA who they oppose. They didn't see NARAL or the Sierra Club, or the NEA as Special Interests. In so doing, they created a situation that will eat them alive. Couldn't have happened to a nicer party.
:: C.M. Burns 7/16/2003 03:37:00 PM [+] ::
Thomas Jefferson: American Bastard
I've been doing some reassessing of American Historical Figures, and in the course of my research I've made some shocking discoveries. Did you know, for instance, that before he died of pnemonia, William Henry Harrison actually floated around the room and attacked several of his children with the 19th-century equivalent of lawn darts for letting him give his inagural address without his hat on? True story(note: this is not true). Most distressung though, is that too many American's believe that Thomas Jefferson was an OK guy, and that he was, in fact, not a hypocritical bastard who's inability to ever make a decision eventually led to the American Civil War. Today, in a a new series, we take a look at genuine American Bastards. Some were bad people, some weren't, but they were all bastards. Today-Thomas Jefferson.(note: I will provide no new evidence for any of my conclusions, instead relying on rumor and innuendo)
Jefferson first came to fame in the Virginia Legislature in the years leading up to 1776. He never said much, but he could write up a storm, so he did, issuing pamphlets, writing legislation, and thinking about building stuff, like Monticello, the Lazy Susan, and the dumb waiter. He also didn't like the Brits very much, and wrote about it in a rather eloquent way, so when the Continental Congress met, the Old Dominion sent Jefferson as a rep. This is where his reputation gets muddled. As anyone who has seen the film 1776 knows, Jefferson would sing and dance with John Adams and Benjamin Franklin to go about writing the Decleration of Independence. However, I learned that there was no OFFICIAL singing and dancing at these conventions, not like today, so the movie lied!
It also claimed he loved his wife, but the fact of the matter was that the man was so narcissistic he could only love himself. Yes he drafted the ORIGINAL Decleration of Independence, and while many of the words are still his, including the rather excellent "When in the Course of Human Events" bit, the thing was changed so many times that his overall contribution is negligible, in this reviewers eyes(many historians suspect that Ben Franklin was much more influential in the final draft presented to the Congress). In fact, I think that something simple would have sufficied anyway, not so flowery with the prose, more to the point. Here's a version I came up with:
"Dear King George,
Becuase you and your oppressive government have shown us poor treatment and because you tax us unfairly and because, in the end, self determination is the most important right a person can have, we're leaving your crummy, second-rate empire and starting our own country. We dare you to stop us. But for God's sake don't send Cornwalis! Anybody but Cornwalis! Please have mercy! Oh, and God Bless America
In Congress, July 4th, 1776, etc..."
(Everybody knew Cornwalis was a moron who wouldn't know how to fight the Americans. Everybody, that it, except the British. This little reverse psychology would have been just perfect)
Anyway, Jefferson got the glory, and spent the next few years avoided serving in the Revolution by working in the Virginia Legislature and briefly being Governor of Virginia. The Nation's first draft-dodger, perhaps?
This is the period where Jefferson began to show what a true bastard he was. He wrote several pieces discussing Slavery, and said he believed it wrong and that it should be abolished. However, he didn't free a SINGLE slave throughout his life. Not even the ones he slept with(sorry, but hey, as far as I'm concerned sex with a person who you've stolen freedom from is tantamount to rape, so Jefferson gets no quarter in my mind). In fact, Jefferson did not even free them after he died, making no provision for them in his will. Actions, as it is said, speak louder than words, and Jefferson's actions here are so loud as to cause hearing loss.
While Jefferson was out being governor and sleeping with slaves, real men, like George Washington, beat the British and won Independence for the colonies. And to prove what a great guy Jefferson was, the Congress sent him to France as a negotiator on Commerce. Only after Franklin left did Jefferson become ambassador, which shows the great confidence his colleagues back home had for him. Yeah, they had him send back reports from the French Revolution, so a lot of his time was spent watching people get their heads chopped off. He left France, possibly because he couldn't stand the sight of blood, or at least the sight of headless bodies walking around like in Re-Animator(I swear the historical record will back me up on this)
Anyway, since he was in France, he had nothing to do with the drafting of the Constitution. Not a single thing. Nor with the Bill of Rights. And he probably wouldn't have objected to the whole "lets make slavery legal here but not here" compromise.(That's a rough clause of the document, the most shameful, certainly, and the founders knew they didn't have an answer, so they let the next generation handle it. Weak, I know, but it was the only way at the time).
So George Washington, perhaps the best man in America at the time, became President, and Jefferson Secretary of State, where he dedicated his time to being really, really anti-British, despite the fact that trade with Britain would have been a BOON to America. He was instrumental in removing pro British trade Sec. of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton from office. He went back to Monticello in 1793, to perfect his house and sleep with slaves who's only crime was being born with black skin, until he was drafted to run for President in 1796. He lost by three electoral votes to John Adams, also a much better human being than Jefferson, and so he became Vice President(On a side note, they should go back to "runner-up is veep". It would make campaigns so much more interesting).
In 1800 he defeated Adams for President, and his Veeo was his running-mate Aaron Burr. In what would become the first great crisis for the new Nation, the votes were disputed and sent to the House of Representatives. Burr and Jefferson had tied in Electoral Votes. After a lot of wrangling, they chose the cold as a fish Jefferson over hot-tempered Burr, and Jefferson set out to ruin the judiciary in a way that good Democrats would follow to this day. He tried to circumvent the will of the Supreme Court, until Chief Justice John Marshall slapped him back into line. He tried to impeach judges appointed by Adams. He failed. He kept the economy in OK shape, and then did the only good thing he should be remembered for: The Louisiana Purchase, in whch he swindled the idiot, cash-hungry French out of most of what would become the American West. So, good on you for that, Tom.
In his second term he set the stage for the war of 1812 by embargoing exports from Britain and France in 1807. He changed his mind before he left office, but his continued anti-British stance hurt the country more in the long run. Plus, it turned out his running mate, Burr, may have been a Traitor, but he couldn't get him convicted after he basically said the man's guilt was unquestionable, so he looked like a giant asshole. Which he was.
After leaving office, Jefferson returned to Monticello to be a recluse and sleep with more slaves. Still didn't free any though. He wrote a bunch of letters in which he tried to save his reputation, most notably with John Adams(so much a better person than Jefferson that it makes me sick). He apparently succeeded, given his fame now. He died on the 4th of July in 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Decleration of Independence. Rumors that he was killed by the books of his on slavery that were given life by some sort of mysterious spirit with a sense of irony were never proven, though I think it would have been cool if they were. The first American Bastard was dead, and the nation morned, though Andrew Jackson would be along soon enough.
Jefferson's "official" decendents are Bastards, too. Refusing to treat the decendents of the children he fathered with his slave Sally Hemmings as equals, they show the lack of respect that their ancestor counted among his traits. In the end, Jefferson should be recognized as a weak-willed, slave-holding, self-involved Bastard that the country would have been lucky to get rid of. Sadly, he is still remebered fondly. Except by me and a few others. He was America's first Bastard, and he set a standard that few would meet. Perhaps history will finally put him in his place.
Next week: Joe Kennedy-Bootlegging, pro-Hitler Bastard who's progeny all ended up dead too soon, lobotomized, or drunk.
:: C.M. Burns 7/16/2003 10:03:00 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, July 15, 2003 ::
Stupid People: First in an Ongoing Series of Observations on the Morons that walk among us
This is a new feature here at the Blog. One of the reasons I like this Blog so much is that I get to vent. Well, nothing gets me into a venting mood more than Stupid People and the stupid things they do. So this will be an ongoing series that in theory has no clear end, as something stupid about people strikes me every day. My mother would say that I'm being too judgemental, but she doesn't even know what a Blog is, let alone how to get one, so, as much as I love her, I don't give a damn.
Today's topic is Stupid Pedestrians. Now, I am, by and large, almost always a pedestrian when traveling around the DC area. I haven't driven a car in over a year. When I go home my father won't let me drive because I have no insurance(no car, no need). When my mother visited this weekend she wouldn't let me drive her rental car because my father made her swear to him that she wouldn't let me drive it. It's important to him, you might say. But in the end I don't mind, for reasons that became clear as my mom ferried me around the area this weekend. I had forgotten all of the things that would upset me as a drove, and I realized that not driving for the past 18 months has probably reduced my overall stress level and heart attack risk. For instance, Cabs that stop without warning, or people that suddenly turn without signaling, or people who actually follow the speed limit. However, the species of stupidity that I saw most on display was the Stupid Pedestrian.
The Stupid Pedestrian takes two forms: The most common is the "Traffic Will Stop For Me" Stupid Pedestrian. These people will run out aginst the light if they see the slightest opening, no matter how small, apparently secure in their belief that the oncoming cars will have to stop for them, even if it means the people in those cars will have to slam on the breaks, almost causing a major pileup. This Stupid Pedestrian is an ignorant, selfish bastard who, if I was still driving, I would either run them down or at least chase them on the sidewalk for a while. Is it THAT hard to wait the average of 45 seconds to cross the street? I don't care if you cross when nobody has a chance of hitting you, or in the middle of the street when no cars are coming. I do that all the time, and I risk very little in doing it. But the Stupid Pedestrian in this model may get himself killed(no great loss), or the poor soul who is driving down the street and suddenly sees them and hits the breaks might injure themselves or the people behind them. When the light is green, and you're driving, you shouldn't have to stop because some self-important moron has decided that the rules of man and physics may not apply to them. The only way to stop them? Random beatings from officially appointed strongmen. I don't think we'd lose too much in the way of civil liberties if the government appointed "crosswalk bouncers". These toughs would be allowed to grab Stupid Pedestrians and beat some sense into them. That's all I ask. Can we get some work done on this?
The second Stupid Pedestrian is the Ignorant Pedestrain. This is the person who will not pay attention to the walk/don't walk signs and may cross right when the lights change, or be so out of it that they cross against the light simply because they aren't looking. These people do not dart into traffic like the "Traffic Will Stop For Me" breed. They walk at a slow and steady pace, yet they have no set age. Example: In Arlington yesterday, where the Walk signals are so idiot proof that they actually have an LCD COUNTDOWN until they change, a man started to cross the street just as the sign got to zero. And he had been standing there WAITING while the signal said it was OK to cross. This is not the first time it's happened, and as I said, it's a broad cross-section of humanity, so I don't think it's just old people or yuppies or anything like that. It's just stupidity, which knows no race, creed, color, sex, or social standing. The solution? Honk at these people if they start to cross when you have a green. Don't let them smile feebly, wave, and then cross. Honk and flip them off. Open your window and shout obsenities at them. Make the experience so unpleasant for them that they dare not repeat it. I know jail time might sound harsh, but perhaps that would be good too. I don't know.
Stupid Pedestrians are just part of the problem. There are stupid drivers, politicians, businesspeople, college professors, teachers, and a whole lot of really, really stupid children. If America is to survive the 21st century, these people must be dealt with in a way that at least TRAINS them not to be dumb. Otherwise, I fear we are doomed.
:: C.M. Burns 7/15/2003 12:20:00 PM [+] ::
There's a concentrated effort to suppress free speech on College Campuses. However, you won't see it on the nightly news, on the ACLU web site, or cries of "facist" thrown at those who practice this censorship. You see, the government isn't doing the crushing. It's University administrators cracking down on students who aren't what they define as "culturally sensitive". For an illustration of one such case, check out this story on a Cal Poly Student who was brought up on charges by campus administrators after he posted a flier advertsing a speech by a black conservative. No, he wasn't putting up white power propaganda or yelling epiteths. He simply put up a flier. The insanity of the case is even more apparent since the event he was advertising for was being held by a campus-approved group in a university building and had been approved by the University. His crime, it seems, is that he was a white male putting up a conservative flier in a multicultural center.
In the story, you read that students confronted the guy and said he was "disruptive", and when he went to see if he needed permission to post there, they called the cops there. What was the speaker going to be talking about? The speaker was black conservative Mason Weaver, and he was going to be talking about his book "It's OK To Leave the Plantation", which is about the dangers of African Americans becoming too dependent on government entitlements. This type of insanity is now common on college campuses, and is only getting worse. Frankly, I don't blame the students who turned in the guy. I blame the university that has taught them to think that any deviation from what it force feeds them in regards to multiculturalism is hate speech.
On the Fourth of July I had the occasion to speak with a recent immigrant from Poland. She told me that she was shocked to see how segregated America was. This was her term, "segregated". She said she couldn't believe that American communities seemed like enclaves for particular ethnic groups. I told her it wasn't a matter of policy or racisim, that it was self-segregation. And then I launched into an attack on the modern College experience.
I feel that in the High School years, students are much more likely to hang out with people of different ethnic groups then they are in college. I went to an affluent, mostly white High School(I think there may have been 2 African Americans in our class), yes, but I've known enough people in my life to realize that we were an exception, not a rule. I went to school at Indiana University, which was pretty diverse for it's location(southern Indiana). What I noticed over my four years that students of different races eventually clustered into their own groups. It didn't happen immediately. It took time. I had several very good black friends I met my Freshmen year who I hardly saw outside of class by my Senior year. Now, I can say that about alot of people, as in college your friends do change over time, but looking back it seems like this shift was like self-segregation, of which both groups were guilty of, white and black. In college, you are encouraged to join clubs, orginizations, student leadership, right off the bat. This is a good thing, as it allows students to find those with common interests as well as the friends you immediately make as you enter the dorm. Your field of friends, then, would be diverse based on those interests. Minority students, however, are also encouraged, with quite a bit of pressure, I might add, to join their respective student associations. I say pressure because I spent a year as an RA at IU, and I saw firsthand my residents drift apart over the course of that year based on their race. I saw the pressure exerted by certain groups to, in essense, self-segregate. This policy was actually encouraged by the University. I got enough literature in my inbox about it to figure that out. It's just as pressure-filled as the greek system, and it seems that these groups took a page from the greek recruiting manual, with the comforting message of "belonging" to something. Comforting, yes, but ultimatley, in my opinion, dangerous. Just as Greeks and non-Greeks stop hanging out over the course of pledging a frat or sorority, students of varying ethnic groups would stop hanging out together as they got more involved with their varying interest groups. It's a dangerous, unconstructive way to start what is supposed to be a mind-opening experience, the "college experience". These are young minds, and already they are being closed by the professors and administrators that should keep them open. Again, the students are not at fault.
Now, should blacks, asians, or hispanics not have their own groups on campus? Certainly not. They share a common heritage, and in college, finding commonality in a good thing. It's a way to jump start a positive college experience. However, this heritage should not be the end all, be all of their experience. It hurts the white students as well. I'd bet that a good amount of prejudice is born in the current college situation, which is ironic, as prejudice is precisely what the administration is trying to avoid. What will the student at Cal Poly take from his experience? That African-Americans are close-minded, possibly, and a newly prejudiced individual will be born, even if it's on the subconcisous level. With this form of self-segregation, some white students may never get to know black students, and vice versa, and thus will never know anything more than a sterotype. Those four years of college are so important to how we view the world. In the name of "diversity", colleges are in fact encouraging a world that is diverse only in color of skin, not in thought or deed. By promoting self-segregation, even unintetnionally, the multiculturalists are creating a society where each group will see the other purely as a group, and not as individuals. This must be stopped, least all the work that so many have done over the years to bring all the races together will be blown to pieces.
As a final word, let me recommend the book "Diversity: The Invention of a Concept" by Peter Wood. He draws a big line between what he calls real diversity, that is, the actual things that make us different, such as heritage, race, thought, and background, and "diversity" which is based on skin color alone. It's a provocative read.
:: C.M. Burns 7/11/2003 12:24:00 PM [+] ::
When Will The Assault on Meat End?
This week's funniest story by far is the incident in Milwaukee at a Brewer's game where a woman dressed up in a sausage costume, racing other people dressed up in sausage costumes, was smacked with a bat by Pittsburgh Pirates 1st Baseman Randall Simon. It's fucking hilarious. MLB is fining him, and the woman said she just wants an aplology, but would llike the bat, if possible. For ESPN's comedic take on the incident, check this "police" report.
The best part is, though, that national attention is finally being focused on the most entertaining ballpark in America, Milwaukee's Miller Park. Normally, I hate corporate names on ballparks (Comiskey is now US Cellular, Candlestick is PacBell), but in Milwaukee, the city of beer, Miller's name on the park is perfect. I love it. And that sausage race? It happens there ALL THE TIME! You see, for years, the Brewers have sucked, and attendence was low, and since Chicago had two ballclubs just about an hour away, the team needed a hook. So back when the team played at County Stadium(A great place to watch a game, in it's day) they instituted things like the sausage race to entertain the fans. Other things happened, too. Whenever there was a pitching change, a man would get on a Harley and drive around. And when a homerun was hit, well, Bernie Brewer, a guy dressed up in a costume, would slide down into a giant beer mug. Plus, they had they had the sausage race:
So, since nobody really got hurt, and it brought attention to a great ballpark that is carrying on some great traditions, I've already decided that this event is the greatest thing to happen in sports, ever, and that includes 1980's Miracle on Ice, the 1985 Bears, the Six Bulls Titles, Carlton Fisk's Home Run in Game Six, Lance Armstrong's Comeback, Jackie Robinson, and the original Olympics. And nothing you can say will make me disagree.
:: C.M. Burns 7/11/2003 11:24:00 AM [+] ::
PETA Must Be Stopped, Lest Good Eats Perish
Those psychotic SOB's at PETA have taken yet another step towards their ultimate goal of ending all consumption of meat. KFC recently caved in to PETA's demands, after the usual threats from PETA about protests, campaigns, the usual. Of course, as pointed out in this article, PETA doesn't want "Humane" treatment of animals, it wants us to treat them like equals. In PETA's dream world, you could be arrested for eating a steak, or a Chicken McNugget, or even a Hot Dog, (unless, of course, it was a tasteless, meatless "Not" Dog.) I really hate these people. Their tactics are terroristic, and they are loosely affiliated with actual classified-by-the-FBI-as-terrorsts terrorists, such as the Animal Liberation Front. I have no doubt they would mourn the death of a chicken who's bone choked a man to death more than they would that man. I have nothing against vegans or vegitarianism. But don't push your sensibilities on me, sickos. PETA, go to hell.
:: C.M. Burns 7/11/2003 09:42:00 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, July 08, 2003 ::
Man Speaks After 19 Years-Asks What Life Under Mondale Was Like
Seriously though, an arkansas man who was paralized and left in a Coma 19 years ago spoke his first words since the accident recentley
as reported on in this piece here. His short term memory is gone and he still thinks Reagan is President. It's sort of sad, but also gives hope to those under smiliar circumstance. And here I thought that this sort of thing only happened in Soap Operas.
:: C.M. Burns 7/08/2003 02:03:00 PM [+] ::
Stephen Hawking: Party Machine
Even the smartest man in the world, Prof. Steven Hawking, likes to kick back and party sometimes. Today's online Sun, the British tabloid(for those of you who have never visited our English cousins, the Sun is like the National Enquierer with some real news, lots of gossip, and it's published every day) reports that Hawking went to a Strip Club last night. See, this is why I love the Brits. They're so much more relaxed about famous people and strippers. In the US, professors have to sleep with students in secret. But in the UK, the smart guys get to have fun with the common folk. So much cooler. Huzzah for Hawking, I say.
:: C.M. Burns 7/08/2003 10:01:00 AM [+] ::
:: Monday, July 07, 2003 ::
Perhaps She Herself Is An Agent Provocatuer?
Just a quick link to Andrew Sullivan's savage review of Ann Coulter's screech-fest, "Treason". More Conservatives need to denounce this woman, before she besmirches all of our (realtively) good names.
:: C.M. Burns 7/07/2003 11:39:00 AM [+] ::
:: Thursday, July 03, 2003 ::
Washington & Hollywood
Having watched just about every political-themed movie ever made, I think I'm reasonably qualified to comment on how Hollywood, the movie capitol, views Washington, the Nation's Capitol. Apparently in the eyes of Hollywood, Washington is full of horrible, horrible people, and the few good ones who can either change the horrible people or at least ruin them. Did I mention that usually the horrible people in Hollywood's Washington are Republicans/Conservative/Military types? That's really not a bothersome fact for me on most levels, as Hollywood has neevr been firmly grounded in reality. Anyway, let's look at the best and the worst of Washington Political Films. Warning-Spoiler-Mania below.
1)The best, all-time, is Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, directed
by Frank Capra and starring Jimmy Stewart as wide-eyed idealist Jefferson Smith who is sent to DC to replace a dead Senator by the horribly corrupt governor of some western state. His hero is Sen. Paine, an old colleague of Smith's idealistic newspaperman father who has sold out big time(I belived the word back then was graft)to political boss Jim Taylor, played by Edward Arnold as a fat cat businessman who makes Michael Corleone look like a small-time hood. Seriously. He has his henchmen run trucks full of kids off the road. The man was evil. Anyway, Smith wants to do something small and noble that happens to interfere with Taylor's plans to yet again screw over everyone else. Taylor confronts Smith, tells him to drop the plan, go along with the game, and make a fat buck, just like his hero, Sen. Paine. Smith refuses to believe that Paine sold out, and gies to the Senate floor to expose Taylor. Paine jumps up and accuses Smith of stealing from poor children or something and then he and the Taylor machine conspire to ruin Smith, which they almost do until Smith's cynical aide, played by Jean Arthur, changes heart overnight and convinces him to filibuster his ass off. He does, for a LONG time, almost dies on the floor, and then Sen. Paine has a change of heart, almost kills himself, confesses everything, and apparantly that's the end of Sen. Paine and Jim Taylor, as the movie ends with a patriotic little flourish that you see in almost all Capra message movies. It's fucking brilliant. I love this movie. It's not even so much about Washington as it is about good vs. evil and American idealism. It shows that a good man can make a difference and that all cynical female Senator's Aide can change her heart and put her man before her career(I'm kidding about that. She's so much tougher than Smith it's amazing the film was made in the 30's and even more amazing that it didn't at least hint she was a lesbian). Anyway, the writing is great, Stewart is great, and Claude Raines(the Police Captain in Casablanca) is outstanding as Sen. Paine. Before I became so cynical that I began sleeping with one eye open I used to watch this movie once a month to remind myself that maybe Washington wasn't so bad. Anyway, it's a great testiment to good writing that Stewarts filibuster doesn't become annoying, and the film is really, really hard on DC as a place where bad things happen to good people and that you really can't change the system, unless you're really really really determined, are Jimmy Stewart, and are in a Capra film. I know it sounds like I'm knocking this film, but it's so joyous on a gut level that I love it. It's great. Deal with it.
2)All The President's Men is probably the second best movie about DC. For one thing, it's true, and for the second it's got tons of intrigue. The permormances are great, the story a classic, and it's about the best and worst that Washington can bring out in a person(obsession w/ power, the search for truth, both very DC).
3)Dave, the story of a presidential look-alike who fills in for the real Prez. after a stroke turns him into a veg. This comedy has a liberal activist heart as Dave basically wants to create a huge new entitlement program, but a realistic look at Washington in a lot of ways. For one thing, Dave, played by Kevin Kline in his last really great role, is a sort of everyman idealist like Jefferson Smith. He wants to believe in his president and his government. He represents all of us who come out to DC with the intention to do good, regardless of ideology. Frank Langella as mean chief of staff(and he really is mean, not evil. The screenwriter does an excellent job showing him as more than just an Republican. Actually, the movie avoids any real partisanship at all. It's just about a regular guy who hits real political problems that challenge his ideology, and in the end the movie is inspiring, charming, and very witty. It's a favorite, and doesn't get nearly as much credit as it deserves. It's got cameo's from several DC players, and a great self-parodying turn by Oliver Stone as himself. It's a smart movie that knows DC and politicians play a dirty game, but imagines what would happen if the most powerful pol in town didn't want to play it anymore.
3)The third worst is probably going to be a movie I'll never see: Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde. I enjoyed the first one on a comic level, as it was never about anything more than defying expectations and getting laughs and turning the tables on people. I know the plot for this one, and it sounds like "Mr. Smith" if he was a ditzy(or IS SHE!) blonde in pink. In his review Roger Ebert tears the film to shreds for it's dopey, simpleminded portrayal of idealism, and if it really does end with Elle Woods giving a speech to the joint session of congress that melts all of their hearts, it may be the worst DC movie ever, but since I'll never see it, I'll stick it at 3.
2)The Contender, widely acclaimed outside of DC, is about a very interesting topic, namely the first woman with a real shot to become Veep. The problem is that he becomes a hectoring lecture on privacy, the evils of Republicans, and what the public should or shouldn't know about it's elected officials. In the end, I'm on the movie's side on the privacy and right to know issues, but it's done with such a heavy hand, obviously from a script rushed by the Clinton impeachment run-up, that it just comes off as a long, dull, totally unbelievable parable about hardball Washington politics. The secret subpolt with the FBI investigation is just about the dumbest thing ever in a serious film, in which it turns out the other possible candidate for the Veep position, played by William Peterson, staged an accident so he could rescue someone and get better publicity. Just out the door crazy. And Jeff Daniels final speech to the joint session of congress in which he essentially tears up the Constitution and demands that they vote for Joan Allen's character and if they don't they are essentially scum is the second worst grandstanding speech by a fictional President in a film ever(the first is coming up next). The movie was made by Rod Lurie, a former LA Film Critic who's debut feature, Deterrence, was a tough chamber drama about a President facing the most difficult decision ever faced by a President. That film showed he knew something about political leadership. The Contender proves he doesn't know nearly enough.
1)This movie always makes my blood boil. My liberal friends love it. They think it's great. The film is a fantasy that makes Mr. Smith look like a documentay. The film is, of course, The American President. Scripted by West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin and directed by Rob Reiner, the movie portrays all liberals as good hearted and right, and all Republicans, particularly Richard Dreifuses character Sen. Rumson, as petty, puritanical, evil and dumb. The logical fallasies in this movie are so numerous that I will not list them here. I'll simply start with the most obvious: No one would care if the President started dating a woman if he was widowed. Conservatives would be happy that the President's daughter might have a new mother. We are not against dating, as Sorkin seems to think. Now, you can argue that the complaint was that the President's girlfriend, played by Annette Benning, was a flag burner, but the movie makes it clear that the mere fact that the president has a girlfriend is enough to upset Rumson & Co., to the point that they want to use it against him in the next election. The flag burning thing is just icing. Now, I think ANYONE in Washington, Democrat or Republican would be upset if the President started dating a lobbyist, especially one who is lobbying quite hard on a bill the president is considering throwing his weight behind. People on both sides of the aisle would be up in arms. It's a massive conflict of interest. People will be pissed off. Other lobbyists will be pissed off. All of K street would go to Annette Benning's house and kill her because of it. I know. I used to work on K street. We used to talk about this movie, and all of us, Right and Left, felt that her being a lobbyist was the dumbest thing ever. The worst part about it though is Michael Douglas as the President. Not only is he a perfect Gentleman, father, and moral leader, he's a genius too. His staff loves him more than their own children, or so it seems. Obviously the film is a liberal fantasy, but please! Be realistic about something! Obviously Sorkin learned something about DC after the film, as the West Wing, while still Liberal Fanstasy, has characters in it with actual flaws, which is what makes for compelling drama. The bad guys can't be all evil and the good guys can't be all perfect to make good drama. Now wait, you say, Mr. Smith was perfect and Sen. Paine was evil and you LOVE that movie. Not really. Jefferson Smith had a short temper, and the Washington portrayed in the film made it very clear that Smith was a fish out of water. Plus, Paine wasn't evil based on his ideology. He was a good man who was corrupted by power, unlike Sen. Rumson in this movie, who is evil to make the President look better. Michael Douglas phones in a smug performance, and it's hard to believe that the same writing and directing team made "A Few Good Men", which is one of the top 50 films of the 90's.
So that's the list, long and wordy. There are worse films on DC out there, but none as well known or as supposedly DC-Savvy as these proclaim to be. What have we learned? That Hollywood understands Washington as much as Washington understand Hollywood, that is to say, not very well. I'm gonna go watch T3 and hope that Arnold and Co. blow some stuff up real good. Later.
:: C.M. Burns 7/03/2003 11:32:00 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, July 02, 2003 ::
Does The New York Times Hate People Who Believe in God?
I'm not much on religion, but I've always defended believers of most sects(not scientology or other cults, though. Sorry, I'm not buying your crazy today). Anyway, there is an editorial in todays NYTimes regarding the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, and the recent appeals court decision to force him to remove a monument to the 10 Commandments he erected in the courthouse. This is all well and good. Keeping religion and state separate are good things, and the judge shouldn't have done it, and his arguments for doing so are pretty weak. I would have given him more credit if he had argued that putting up something like "Thou Shalt Not Kill" in a court isn't all that bad. I wouldn't agree on Constitutional grounds, but at least he was thinking the right thing on the message. His argument was confusing and sort of based on the idea that as chief justice he had some descretion. Nope. Nobody buys that.
I would think that this wouldn't even be an issue for the NYT Editorial Board, though. Outside of Alabama, they seem to be the only paper to put out an editorial on it. Sure, the ruling is in the Post, but they don't see the need to say anything other than the facts. The Times, however, once again displays it's stunning arrogance in it's editorial called The Ten Commandments Judge. In it, they basically demand that the judge be removed from the bench, ASAP. Why? Because he liked the Ten Commandments and made a small error in judgement that he was corrected for. Offering no history on his rulings or general interpretation of Alabama Law, they find him unworthy of the Bench because he belives in the Ten Commandments. They cvall what he did "religious grandstanding". That's it. Now, if they provided case histories where he had distorted the law in favor of a religious interpretation, they might have a case. but he simply believes. Which is too much for the Times. Bill Pryor, also of Alabama, the AG in fact, and a nominee of President Bush for the federal bench was attacked by the times for being too Catholic, in essense. The Times apparently thinks that those who believe deeply in a higher power are unfit for judgeships based on that criteria alone. As if it would be impossible to seperate belief in God and belief in the rule of law. Never mind Pryor's record as a fairminded AG who never once told his deputies too ignore the law of the state or the land. He's recieved the highest rating. In an editorial that you have to pay to get, the Times said, in essence, that his belief in God made him a poor judge. Now, not to make the editors as the Times appear hypocritical, but wouldn't denying him a fair vote in the Senate because of his religion be a violation of the establishment clause of the 1st Amendment, the one they so deeply love in the 10 Commandments editorial?
Even funnier is that the Times was in love with the Supreme Court's decisions this term, particularly the ones in which several rights were invented, ie the Sodomy case and the AA case. Few legal scholars, right or left, find the AA case to be anything but confusing, and while I was happy to see the Sodomy ban go, the liberal New Republic wrote this week that it was a blatant case of judicial activisim. Jeffery Rosen rights that the Court should have struck down the narrow ban on sodomy under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, as the law was clearly biased against homosexuals. But that in creating an odd "sexual liberty" right that is harder to find than a reproductive right the court has become a hotbed of activism. Well, the Times likes some activism and detests others. I just wish they wouldn't beat up on religion so much. It makes it that much harder for me to resist going back to church just to spite them.
:: C.M. Burns 7/02/2003 02:44:00 PM [+] ::
Let The Dead Rest
I was no big fan of JFK Jr. He wasn't the great Democratic hope that his family and many prominent Dems wanted him to be, and he took a while to pass the bar, and he was always in the news because he was an "eligible bachelor", which was apprently his one claim to fame before starting the rather decent political mag "George", which died an unfair death after his rather tragic, unfair death. So now, we've got a book coming out that digs up all these problems with his marriage. You know I hate the celebrity worship culture we live in, especially as it applies to people who are famous for no good reason, like JFK Jr. was. And he didn't even ask for the attention. The damn media gave it to him. Sure he started a magazine, so good for him, but does that require us to obsess over who was gonna marry? And now that he and his wife are dead, shouldn't we let them rest in peace? I mean, if he was a criminal who had people killed in secret or beat his wife I suppose it might be somewhat newsworthy, but is it fair to the family of he and his wife to find out she had a coke habit? Of course not. He was never willfully in the public eye, nor was he a public servent, AKA a politician, who I admit sacrifice privacy when they run for office. But the only crime he is guilty of his being the son of a murdered president that many Americans can't get over. I say, let the dead rest. If he was an office-holder who secretly got his wife coke, then you've got a story, but this...this is just innuenedo of the worst kind. Let it go, America.
:: C.M. Burns 7/02/2003 01:48:00 PM [+] ::
The Day I Saved Washington
I was at the Border's at 14th and F NW yesterday, looking for a couple of good reads(I've finished Harry Potter and my Raymond Chandler phase seems to have petered out). I came to the current affairs section, and I saw a sight that caused me great terror. I felt that if I did not act quickly, the city might be destroyed. Rushing to the shelf, a quickly grabbed the seperate combustable items that, if combined, would cause a disaster of extrodianary magintude. I flung them in different directions. Then I notified one of the staff and told him of what happened. He thanked me profusely and assured me that measures would be taken to prevent a future occurance. Satisfied, I took by books, paid, and left. What had I seen. I had seen world's about to collide. I had seen Matter and Anti-Matter about to interact and leave a gaping hole where Washington had once been. I had seen Eric Alterman's book "What Liberal Media" within contact space of Ann Coulter's latest screech "Treason". Whew! That was close.
If bomb-throwing "conservative" (I don't consider her one) Coulter in Matter, than the just as nasty but not as obvious about it liberal Alterman is Anti-Matter. If I remember my college physics course correctly, the theory is that if matter and anti-matter interact, watch out. So if these too ever had sex, the world might blow up. Actually, the only reason I went through that dubiously funny opening was to talk a bit about both Alterman and Coulter in a way that shows I have respect for neither, or for their claims of bias. But I will say this: I think there is some bias in the news, and of a liberal bent. I won't use Coulter to defend my beliefs, but I don't buy Alterman's theories either. So lets get started.
I was unfortuate enough to have had Ann Coulter thrust upon me last summer(not in that way, sickos). I had never heard of the woman before hearing some hard-core liberals saying how awful she was. Well, if she could get the left in an uproar, I wanted to find out about her. Really. I don't watch the nightly cable slugfests, and I don't know who publishes her columns, so I had never heard of her. I saw her book "Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right" at the book store, and decided to give it a read. I had just finished Bernard Goldberg's misunderstood "Bias", and I was interested in the subject. After the intro, I knew why the liberals didn't like her. She throws A-bombs at them, quite often with no provocation whatsoever. But the first chapter was funny, and I kept slogging through. By the end, a few days later, I was selling the book on Amazon. I wanted it out of my hands, my apartment, my life. Despite the fact that she points out some actual cases of real bias, she totally fails to keep a fair-minded reader interested because she's too busy equating liberalism with some kind of nasty disease that most likely would make your face break out for a month. Every point she might make is obscured by her bomb-throwing, tantrum-like "analysis". Obviously, she was preaching to the choir with the book, but it's so totally ineffective. Some of what she said made Rush Limbaugh look like a midwest moderate. Not a good book. If I was a liberal I would simply ignore her and not, say, book her on every talk show that summer. Even the Daily Show had her on. Now, the Daily Show is a great program, and Jon Stewart is damn funny, but he's never shown skill at interviewing political types. He lets them run all over him in a lot of cases. Especially, oddly for an avowed Dem like himself, the conservative guests. Ollie North, Newt Gingrich, and others have been on, and he treats them with kid gloves. He let Coulter screech on for a while, and only after she left did he poke some fun. No Jon! Do it while she's there! Deflate her! Anyway, I knew why she was so despised by Democrats. I just thought they would be smart enough to ignore her. She's an awful harpie who may be intelligent and know how to rile up the crowd, but after her latest bizzare book "Treason", I'm convinced she's gone around the bend.
Alterman's book came out earlier this year. It purported to turn conventional wisdom on it's ear, arguing that the Media is, in fact, not liberal at all, but Conservative because of the fact that big business owns the networks. This is a very interesting thesis, and having read some Alterman before, I picked it up eagerly. The book itself is disapointing. Alterman starts out promisingly enough, telling us about what he's going to do, and how he's going to do it. He seemed obsessed with refrences and footnotes, and appeared about to swing into the media. Then he spends the first 50 pages tearing into Coulter, and then Bernard Goldberg(a bit on him later). This was not his best view, as Coulter and Goldberg were not presenting the best cases for a liberal bias. Real think tanks were. Anyway, what Alterman esentially does exactly what Coulter does, except he's actually more smug about it, which was really annoying. He preached straight to the choir. He goes on and on about his evidence, but he doesn't even prove his chapter headings, such as "You're only as liberal as the man who owns you". His book scares his target audience, and although he masquerades under the cover of serious research, the book is just a liberal version of "Slander". And he demonstrates in his attacks on Bernard Goldberg that the left didn't understand that Goldberg wasn't accusing the media of blatant, intentional bias, like Coulter does. But he lumped him in with her, and his tone is so intellectually dismissive for his total lack of REAL evidence(despite the HUNDREDS of footnotes) that afterwards whenever I saw him on TV or read his blog at MSNBC.com, I found myself dismissing him immediately.
In the end, he and Coulter both have similiar effects. Coulter rallies her side, and Alterman his, although Coulter brings out much more anger from the opposition than Alterman does. They really hate her. If you go to Amazon.com, and look at the page for her book "Treason" you'll see that some enterprising people have decided to recommend "Mein Kampf" in addition to her book, instead of, say, recommending something that actually refutes her as an alternate. Yes, we get it kids, she's a Nazi(I'd actually recommend "One Flew Over the Cucoo's Nest". It's a much more subtle jab, and more hurtful).
Alterman continues to comment in the Nation and online, and he's irritating now. That he and Coulter are actually two sides of the same coin(matter/antimatter)probably never occured to either of them. Which is fitting, because they both seem to exist in their own little world. Thankfully, I was able to keep those worlds from colliding.
One final note on Bernard Goldberg's bias. It was heavily critisized by many liberals who look at the media, specific Alterman and FAIR, the liberal media watchdog group(for a watchdog group that watches both sides, check out spinsanity). FAIR's review looked as if they had read the first 20 pages of "Bias" and not the rest, and Altermans critique in his book can be summed up in "he didn't do it as academically perfect as I did mine, therfore he is worng". What they don't get is that Goldberg is not trying to preach to the choir with his book, nor does he throw bombs(except at Dan Rather. They had an ugly falling out). He simply relays the stories he picked up over the years and what he observed. You can believe him or not, but the book is not all about bashing Rather, as Alterman exists, nor is it about proving that reporters are all crazy liberals. Goldberg rather gently says that reporters tend to be liberal in life, and that on a subconscious level it seeps through in reporting. He does not see a conspiracy, but rather a natural tendency that proves reporters are human after all. Not one of his critics got that. Wierd. Anyway. Enough on bias. You either belive it or you don't, but I think Goldberg is closest to the reality than any other commentator.
:: C.M. Burns 7/02/2003 09:54:00 AM [+] ::
140 Years Ago...
This week marks the 140th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, the second most important battle of the Civil War (Yes, yes, I KNOW it's widely considered the most important, and trust me, I know how important it was, but for effect, tragedy, and implication, Antietam will always be more important in my book). Anyway, today is the anniversary of the second day of the battle, the day where Joshua Lawrenece Chamberlin won his Medal of Honor leading his Maine regiment in the defense of Little Round Top and preventing the flanking of the Union Army, the day that Dan Sickles lost his leg leading an ill-concieved charge into the Peach Orchard that oddly enough did not get him court-martialed(oddly enough, Sickles kept his leg and donated it to the National Health Museum in DC. Every so often, he would come and visit it after the war). Today saw fierce fighting in the Devil's Den and the stage was set for the third day, and Pickett's Charge. A very, very important day in American history, and one that should not go by without notice.
:: C.M. Burns 7/02/2003 09:01:00 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, July 01, 2003 ::
Maybe Dems Should Panic Now
In a development that perhaps no one anywhere, despite race, creed, color, gender or sexual orientation wanted to seen Jerry Springer will soon decide on an Ohio Senate run. He says in the article that perhaps his fame could revitalize the Democratic Party. This is bad news. Not just for Democrats, who really don't need the added nigthmare of having the most detestable TV personality since Geraldo as their standard bearer, but for the country as a whole. Sure, I believe that anyone can run for office. I just wonder if they should. As the host of the bizzarly watchable until you turn 22 "Jerry Springer Show", Springer has brought us kissing cousins, midget Klansmen, the most awful thankgiving dinner ever(if you saw the original "Too Hot For TV" you know what I mean) and his own mug into the American home, or at least the college dorm. He created a firestorm of controversey in Chicago when the local NBC station hired him to do a nightly commentary, and the highly respected Carol Marin quit her 10pm anchor spot in protest. Springer didn't even last a week, stepping down before the station lost all it's dignity(since then Channel 5 Chicago HAS lost all it's dignity, but that's another story).
Anyway, Springer does have every right to run, but is he the kind of candidate we want to see? He's always been a self-promoter, since his infamous days in Cincinnati politics. He's never shown an interest in anyone but himself. Sure, this describes every member of the Congress, but can't we strive for a better ideal? We're the United States of America, right, we can do better. Sure, in Italy they elected porn stars, but they've also had like 30 different governments since they strung up Mussolini. The Democrats don't need this. The country doesn't need this. I doubt the DSCC reads my blog, but if anyone knows anyone out there, tell them to pour all their money into whoever runs against this guy in the primary. Lord help Ohio and the Congress if we don't. What's next, thick-accented Austrian action stars running for Governor of California?
:: C.M. Burns 7/01/2003 11:00:00 AM [+] ::