:: Sic Transit Gloria ::

A sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament...
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:: Tuesday, November 25, 2003 ::

Washington, Jefferson, & Slavery

There is an excellent piece in Salon today called "Founding sinners", which is an analysis of two of our Founding Fathers, Washington & Jefferson, and how they dealt with Slavery. Washington, in my mind, was always a better president and person than the brilliant but hypocritical Jefferson who never freed a single Slave and fought to preserve the institution. The articel discusses two new books on the subject and offers some interesting inisght into both Presidents. The Salon day pass is required, but it's just a stupid flash cartoon for the new Counting Crows album, not even any lame music. It's a good read.
:: C.M. Burns 11/25/2003 10:19:00 AM [+] :: ::
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:: Friday, November 21, 2003 ::
Death to Mike Myers

Cat in the Hat looks like a crime against humanity. Mike Myers should be beaten with a sackful of doorknobs for ruining this classic tale. It probably can't be as bad as the Grinch, but I bet it makes a ton of money because dumb parents will take their kids to it. I say arrest them too.
:: C.M. Burns 11/21/2003 03:28:00 PM [+] :: ::
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The Failure of "The Matrix"

I'm gonna be honest. The real reason that I haven't blogged in so long is that I've been in mourning over the utter collapse of "The Matrix" trilogy that occured over the past 5 months. At the beginning of May of this year, I was a pumped as any other fanboy for the return of Morpheus, Neo, Trinity, and Agent Smith. Unlike many, my hopes were actually inflated afted "Reloaded" hit. A lot of people complained, but I saw an interesting story being taken in a new direction. I gave the film my highest recommendation, with a single, simple qulaifier: "Revolutions" would have to deliver on all the juicy promises that "Reloaded" offered. The problem was, "Revolutions" was a pile of crap, fun to watch, but as empty as any other nonstop Action movie that takes itself too seriously. The only one having and fun is Smith(I swear, I could say "Missstter Andersssonnn" over and over again).

Why is this? Well, perhaps it's because all the fun was sucked out of the movies. In the first film, watching Neo learn to use the Matrix to his advantage, learning Kung-Fu, falling for the hot chick in leather, sticking it to the man, it was all, well, FUN! Plus, it had that cool "are we master's of our destiny?" thing going on what with The Real World vs. The Matrix. The first film also had Joey Pants as apparently the only human ever who doesn't like "freedom". He was goof and fun as well, plus a traitor to the cause always mixes up the action. After seeing Zion in "Reloaded", I can see why Joey Pants wanted out. In fact, I couldn't figure out why anyone wanted in. Check this: in th Matrix, you can have tasty food, work, procreate, party, and see the sun. In Zion, you dance to crappy drum music in the mud, eat porridge like nutrients, and have to listen to Cornel West and Anthony Zerbe. In the Matrix, you can wear cool clothes and shoot up entire buildings, apparently without consequence. In Zion, you wear a hair shirt and can only defeat the machines with an EMP. Frankly, the story went off the track once it appeared that Zion posed absolutley no threat whatsoever to the Machines, and that the whole "war" was essentially between the mole people and some perfectionist, only semi-tyrannical machines and a few random rogue programs that spoke French and had Monnica Belluci and her breasts as a wife. As much as the freeway chase and Burly Brawl kicked ass in "Reloaded", and as much as I liked Neo and Trinity in it, I felt everyone, save Smith and the Merovingian, sucked and was pointless.

What happened to Morpheus? The space between the movies is only 6 months or so, yet he's packed on some serious weight. He must be hiding bacon-double-cheeseburgers in him apartment in Zion, because all they serve there is nutri-goop. And on the ships, too. What's he been doing? "Neo, go kick some ass, I think I see that double chocolate cake the Oracle told me about". While he at least gets a cool fight scene in "Reloaded", he serves no purpose in "Revolutions" other than to tell Jada Pinket Smith how well she drives and to announce that "Neo Fights for us". That's it. He's a useless character, without any of the mystery or charisma that he had in the first one. You suck Morpheus, and lose some weight.

The Oracle. Shut. Up. or learn to talk in complete sentences. In the first one, her riddles while not clear, led to some sense. Now, she says blase, random things that make no sense. It's like listening to a Democratic debate. Sound and fury, signifying nothing. Just lame. Plus, if you're all-seeing, tell us the damn plot!

Smith. Well, I have no idea how he replicates himself or how he could take over the Matrix, as the only answer is that he's the Anti-Neo. He has so much fun with the role though, and was the only real character to get better in the sequels, and since he at least seems to know what he's doing, I have to admit that at the end of "revolutions", I wanted him to win. Hands down. He was cooler than Neo, he knew what to do, and I think his world would be cool. Plus, he absorbed that little girl. How cool was that?

Anyway, the W. Bros. ruined the first movie, almost. No sequels were needed to the story. Money drove the whole thing, and it shows. I for one will pretend that the third movie never happened, and that Neo and Bane are forever unconcious, and that the machines destroy Zion, and that Smith wins, because that's just too much fun. Oh, and Monica Belluci and the Merovingian survive, to. Fuck Zion.
:: C.M. Burns 11/21/2003 03:15:00 PM [+] :: ::
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Truman Lied, People May Still Die

Just to prove that even after peace is declared, not everybody wants it. Check out The Scotsman: Team sets out to find Japanese troops still fighting the war. I thought it was a joke a first, but it turns out old soldiers and their decendents may well be fighting WWII in the Philippines. But Truman said it was over, as Glenn Reynolds put it.
:: C.M. Burns 11/21/2003 02:36:00 PM [+] :: ::
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Email: Dirty Tricks Campaign of the Next Generation?

I saw this article, Character Assassination by E-mail, this morning, and it actually moved me to write about it. Not much has excited my sensors lately. Bush is London, Wacko Jacko("Eight year olds, Dude"), and Paris Hilton have been so played out on the blogosphere that felt no desire to write about it. But Evan Coyne Maloney, who has pioneered video blogging, brought up an interesting political point that I feel is relevant.

His posting talks about the infamous Tommy Hilfiger email that I saw about 5 years ago. It's the one where the email calls for a boycott of Hilfiger clothes because he allegedly said very,very, racist things on "Oprah". Obviously, this never happened. But I got it 5 years ago, and apparently Maloney just got it the other day. I know that the person who sent it to me 5 years ago was adamant about boycotting Hilfiger until I calmly pointed out how insane the whole thing was. But it's still out there, which is shocking.

Maloney then highlights some of the more egregious smears against Dubya he's seen in mass emails that say they are factual and are not. He points out that quick visits to urban legend websites like Snoopes.com will dispell the rumors, but they are still out there. It's like an upaid attack ad, and should be treated as such, he argues. I'm not so sure. By attacking random, hateful internet email rumors, you give credence to the possibility that they are based on fact. The denial is enough to prove the charges true for the most insane Bush-haters. On the othere hand the Hilfiger one is still going around, and Oprah herself has had to say publically that Hilfiger has never been on her show. So he might be right about a need to combat them. But I would urge caution, as paying attention to emails that only a small number of hateful idiots would believe anyway gives them far too much credibility.
:: C.M. Burns 11/21/2003 09:35:00 AM [+] :: ::
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:: Wednesday, November 19, 2003 ::
Little Note Nor Long Remember

140 years ago today, President Abraham Lincoln delevered the finest speech every written in Gettysburg, PA, at the dedication of the National Cemetary there. The Gettysburg Address was assailed by many in the press as being "poor" and "embarassing". However, one of the other speakers, Edward Everett, a renouned orator back in the days when we had renouned orators, told Lincoln that "he hoped he had come as close to the meaning of the event in two hours as (Lincoln) had in two minutes". No one remembers what Everett said. Here is the text of that great speech.

On a related topic, the Civil War was the bloodiest, most awful war in American history. At it's outset, many leaders felt it would last one battle. The South had more resolve, it turned out. One wonders if Lincoln could have even conducted the war if the media of today was reporting on it, or if we had heeded early European opinion and let the South seceed. All I'm saying is, perhaps wars and liberation are too important to be left up to the media to decide. If Lincoln had aquiecesed to his many critics, well, one shudders at the thought.
:: C.M. Burns 11/19/2003 09:03:00 AM [+] :: ::
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:: Monday, November 17, 2003 ::
Guess What? Buffy & Alias Suck

For years, female friends of mine pleaded with me to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. "It's so good!", they'd whine. "It's goofy, just like you!". Nice, backhanded compliment. Still, I watched a couple of episodes of Buffy recently, and I have to say, the show is terrible. I mean, just awful. There's a book that just came out about Joss Whedon, the creative force behind Buffy and it's spinoff, Angel. It turns out, Whedon set out to create a "cult" hit, I show that millions would love, but would be sort of under the radar of the mainstream. And that's why the show actually sucks unless you watched it from the very beginning and saw every episode. Cult shows are found, not made. "Star Trek", the original cult hit, was not designed to be some underground success. It was supposed to be a regular show. Same with "The A-Team", "The Prisoner"(arty, yes, but it had a real purpose), and "Dr. Who". These shows may have been designed for a specific demographic, but they all wanted to succeed. Buffy is just a collection of meta-humor, self-referential pap that never wanted to be mainstream. That works with music and independent film, as they are much more driven by the artist's intellectual vision. Buffy simply exists to perpetuate it's own myth, a spiritually and intellectually empty mastabatory excercise for Joss Whedon to show how clever he is. Which is why his lame-ass "Firefly" sci-fi show failed. Sci-fi, the original cult medium, will not tolerate a show DESIGNED only to be cult. "Firefly" just had it's moderatly clever characters, no real plot to push it along. But they were GOOFY characters! Whedon can be credited with only two things-creating the first TV show designed to be unappealing to most people and giving us Alysson Hannigan. Because she's SO HOT! He should still be banned from Hollywood for writing Alien: Ressurection.

Alias suffers from a different problem. It tapped into the post-9/11 zeitgest not out of design, as it was produced before the attacks, but the need for Americans to see cool, CIA conspiracy types in action. On the heels of Buffy, they made the hero a sorta hot but manish grad student played by the sorta hot but manish Jennifer Garner(She's relatively talentless, but seems like a good sport. I'm sorry, putting on wigs and faking accents does not make you a good actress. She "Daredevil" for proof, as she makes Affleck look like DeNiro). The creator, JJ Abrahms, gets credit for imagination, and his scripts, while clever, are so convoluted that it's impossible to figure out what's going on if you haven't watched the show from day one. This was clever when Farscape and Babylon 5 did it, now it's justy annoying. The X-Files was able to attain popular appeal by season 4 despite a mytharc going back to the first episode because every single episode was different. Most were stand alones, with slight connections to the overall story, and the occassional mytharc episode were well-scripted enough in the early years to allow someone new to the show to catch up. The show began to collapse over it's lack of direction during season 6, but in it's glory years, the first 5, it was the best show on TV. JJ Abrams knows where his story is going, unlike Chris Carter on X-Files, but he makes every epsiode about that journey. I watched the season premiere of the show and had no clue. I got the first disc of season 1 from nextflix, and those 4 eps in sequence made sense. But without any stand-alone episodes, the show will never be a major hit, despite it's many worshipers who've watched from day one. If you come in late, the show is so absurd that you think you're watching a Bond spoof. Abrahms the creator deserves credit for having his vision, and even pulling it off, and he is a clever writer, so I hope his draft of the new Superman script is entertaining. He also wrote Joy Ride, which was pretty creepy. His show though, needs to open itself up a bit to other viewers, or else I'll always say it sucks.
:: C.M. Burns 11/17/2003 04:44:00 PM [+] :: ::
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:: Thursday, November 13, 2003 ::
Read This Only If You Have A Stomach for Crap

While that could be the title of my blog, I'm actually referring to the column by editorialist/cartoonist Ted Rall, a man so far to the left that I don't know what to label him. Rall, who I rarely read, is not a good writer. He is actually the poster boy for Liberal overreaction to Bush, and if the Dems get beat bad next year, it will be because of people like him. Rall is one of the hard core lefties who never got over the 2000 Election Debacle. His columns are usually never worth linking to. However, this one is different. Rall posted this column in Veteran's Day, called it WHY WE FIGHT, and wrote it from the perspective of a letter to a "new Recruit" in the Iraqi insurgency. It's never clear if Rall is reporting on what goes through the minds of those who are fighting, or of this is his opnion, or what, but it's actually offensive to me, and it takes a lot to offend me personally. In it, Rall offers up this gem on our soldiers:
It is no easy thing to shoot or blow up young men and women because they wear American uniforms. Indeed, the soldiers are themselves oppressed members of America's vast underclass. Many don't want to be here; joining America's mercenary army is the only way they can afford to attend university. Others, because they are poor and uneducated, do not understand that they are being used as pawns in Dick Cheney's cynical oil war.

Unfortunately, we can't help these innocent U.S. soldiers. They are victims, like ourselves, of the bandits in Washington. Nor can we disabuse them of the propaganda that an occupier isn't always an oppressor. We regret their deaths, but we must continue to kill them until the last one has gone home to America.

Yeah. It's rough stuff. I'm Mister First Amendment, OK. I belive if any citizen's right to go and make an ass of themselves. But, as Rall is a US columnist(published on Yahoo!'s web site no less), his words will carry greater weight in, say, a foreign country. Rall has drafted an incredibly effective propaganda letter. Honestly, it's like Goebbels wrote it or something. It's shockingly well-written for a hack like Rall. But it's so awful, so insulting to our troops(some of whom are friends of mine), that it might well be called giving "aid and comfort to the enemy". Is it treasonous speech? It's damn close, as it calls for the killing of our troops. Is it free speech? It seems like it crosses a line. It's one thing to say that you hope our current rebuilding efforts in Iraq fail, and that you actually hope our troops die. You can say that and I don't think it's treason. I think it's evil, but not treason. It's another thing to write a column that column that goes out over the web and could influence those who actually are TRYING to kill our troops. It's mind-boggelingly awful. I won't call for Rall's head, but maybe, just maybe, he could use an editor or a beating by those who've served our country over the last 50 years. He published it on Veteran's Day. It makes me ill.
:: C.M. Burns 11/13/2003 11:40:00 AM [+] :: ::
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:: Wednesday, November 12, 2003 ::
A Note On Paris Hilton

She's uniteresting and spoiled. Plus, maybe her parents, who are so upset about the video, should be a little more concerned about the fact that she's been drinking herself into a stupor every night since she was 17, hardly wears clothes, and she's had 8 boyfriends in the last 3 weeks. I hear you on men vs. women promiscuity, but no guy gets THAT many girls over the same amount of time. Bad parenting is to blame for the sex tape. Not the internet. Does Paris know what the Internet is? I think not. Remember when socilaites in New York organized charity drives or art galleries? Yeah, I don't see her doing that.
:: C.M. Burns 11/12/2003 03:26:00 PM [+] :: ::
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Larry Flynt, More Disgusting Than You Thought

Well, I could really care less about PFC Jessica Lynch. I'm glad she was rescused and that she is alive, free to pursue a life of endorsements and book deals now that she's back in the states. I don't think she did anything to deserve the attention, besides being captured and rescued, which happens to all sorts of soldiers who never get book deals or even a Bronze Star, which the Army shamefully bestowed upon her in a craven attempt at good PR(Yes, I'm still pro-war, pro-Bush, but I'm not happy about everything. I'm a realist). I actually agree with Lynch when she says the Pentagon used her. That she has gladly been the benficiary of that use, with the movie, books, and interviews, makes me less sympathtic towards her.

Just when I thought I couldn't care anymore, along comes Porn's longtime second banana(to Hef), Second in out hearts but first in circulation, Larry Flynt. Flynt announced the other day thathe won't publish topless photos of PFC Lynch that someone allegedly sold to him. He says he's holding back because she's a "good kid", who was "used by the Bush Administration in a desperate attempt to justify the war". See, he had me and he lost me. We went to Iraq fro many reasons, but I don't think the rescue of Jessica Lynch was one of them. Sure, the Army rescued her because that's what they do, and her story was interesting, and the Army did use her, but I never saw the President or Rumsfeld on TV saying that we went to war in Iraq for Jessica Lynch. Which means Flynt said what he said not out of concern for Lynch, but political motivation. Now, if those photos exist, they'll be on the internet in a few days. I hear the Paris Hilton tape is already making the rounds. But I don't think Flynt has anything. Just mentioning that the pictures exist is embarassing enough to Lynch, and his use of her is even more craven than the Army, since they DID rescue her and she DID say she's eternally grateful to the anonymous soldiers who saved her. Flynt didn't do anything. If he has the photos, he bought them to publish them and embarrass Lynch. Saying he has them but isn't going to use them is just as bad as publishing them. If he didn't have them, he's using her just the same, to advance his theory that Lynch was used to "justify the war". He's a sick old fuck. Maybe the soldiers who saved Lynch can raid the Hustler offices and steal the alleged photos for her, just so they can rescue her from another tyrant.
:: C.M. Burns 11/12/2003 10:22:00 AM [+] :: ::
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:: Friday, November 07, 2003 ::
The Krugman Gotcha Contest!

Paul Krugman, formerly a revered economist who has lost all of his goodwill by proclaiming that the economy is dead, simply because he doesn't like Dubya, is getting blasted all over the internet. But my favorite game is the Krugman Gotcha Contest from Mickey Kaus. Go through Krugman's archives and find the most off-base, embarassing prediction and send it to Mickey! It's great! And as Mickey says, anyone can win.
:: C.M. Burns 11/07/2003 10:10:00 AM [+] :: ::
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:: Thursday, November 06, 2003 ::
A Small take on "The Reagan's" Uproar

As an admirer of Ronald Reagan who understands that the man wasn't a perfect President, I feel compelled to comment on the recent dust-up over "The Reagans", the former CBS Docudrama that was shunted over to Showtime after CBS caved to protests that it was unfair. I'll admit, especially having just bought and digested the collection of Reagan's personal letters", that I found it hard to believe that Reagan was a homophobic, gay-hating ninny who thought AIDS was God's punishment to the sodomites. It didn't jive with stuff he wrote to people in the letters. Unless Reagan had been putting up a front since his Hollywood days, this quote was not just "dramatic license". It was a smear. And it was being presented as fact. When I heard CBS was cutting the line, the first concesion they made, I felt that was only fair.

Then the rest of the story broke, with script parts coming out and the GOP going ape. From the parts that I have read, it does seem clear that the writers were scripting the show with bias against the Reagans, Nancy in particluar. It also didn't help that they cast James Brolin as Ronnie, and outspoken Australian actress Judy Davis as Nancy. Brolin has been Babs Streisand's hubby for years. Babs doesn't like the Reagans. At all. And since she wears the pants in that family, it was no wonder how Brolin would play him. Still, CBS caved like a little girl. It was sort of pathetic. What this proves I don't know. All I do know is that Reagan will always be a controversial figure, and we probably shouldn't see anything like that until after he is dead, at least out of respect for his family. I wasn't entirely certain that the GOP had been correct in calling for the boycott until I read 'The Reagans,' From One of Them, a commentary on the script and the First Family of the 80's by Patti Davis, the former First Daughter who wrote her own angry screed about her parents in 1992. She has since mended the fences, but she has always been controversial. And the fact that she was AT many of the accounts that are disputed and says that the writers get them wrong and are making them up is enough for me. It convinced me that we should let the man die before we start to shred him personally, especially if you write a "fact-based" account on his life that is desingned to shred him before any research is made. Despite the outcry from the Left over censorship and the Crowing of the Right over making CBS cry like a baby, I think a Reagan movie will come, and that the only precendet this sets is that while a person is still alive and suffering, the only thing you should attack is their politics, not how you think they were in [private.
:: C.M. Burns 11/06/2003 11:01:00 AM [+] :: ::
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:: Wednesday, November 05, 2003 ::
The Way I Would Have Gotten Rid of John Ritter's "8 Simple Rules" Character.

ABC made a big bru-ha-ha over turning the Late John Ritter's dopey sitcom "8 Simple Rules For Dating my Teenage Jail Bait" into a dopey dramedy. They brought in James Garner and some woman to play Katy Sagal's parents, and they said Ritter's character had died. I've never actually seen the show, but when the driving force behind a sitcom dies, the show itself usually goes quickly. The loss of Phil Hartman hastened "Newsradio's" death by at leat two years. But the show was still good without him, though nowhere near as good.

John Ritter was no Phil Hartman. Hell, John Ritter was no Henry Blake on MASH. But he was the only funny thing about the show, at least as far as the previews they used to show on Monday Night Football used to show. So, how to recapture the funny without moping over the stars death too much? Newsradio did one "goodbye" episode, unlike ABC's prolonged funeral for Ritter. Here's what I think would have been great:

Ritter's character is not dead. He has simply left his wife and children to fend for themselves while running off with either his 21-year old assistant(male or female) or he has been killed fighting for Al-Qaida in Afgahnistan(this ties into Patriotic Themes, people will be GLAD the character is dead). How did he go to Afghanistan? Well, he discovered his overprotectedness of his daughters was not based on fatherly love, but a radical interpretaion of Islam. Topical yes, and a way to teach Americans that most Muslims are good. In the goofy first episode after his death, the young son is considering in following in his footsteps, but a wacky iman played by David Cross convinces him that Dad had his wiring messed up. Then they all spend some time reflecting on how awful religious intolerance is. I think it would be better.

In the "left his wife for someone else" vein, they could open "one year later", with the daughters rules now applying to the rules her johns must adhere to for a paid night in the sack, while mom sells crack out of the family minivan and the son sells pirated movies on DVD. I think in both these cases, comedy comes out on top.

(This was a PARODY, and does not reflect any VIEWPOINT, for those of you with no sense of humor. And rest assured, I'm going to hell)
:: C.M. Burns 11/05/2003 01:16:00 PM [+] :: ::
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:: Tuesday, November 04, 2003 ::
Big Brother Watch

No, it's not about some Ashcroft plan, those DC police and city officials have floated a similar idea. This shameful case of the government paying too much attention to you comes from Wales. A woman there was charged with a speeding ticket for going 450mph from a camera-based speed system that is entirely computer-run. The £100 car (that's how much she PAID for the car) that was ticketed apparently can't even make 45 MPH w/o shaking to pieces, and the woman is obviously fighting the ticket. It would be funnier if it wasn't such a dreadful portent. The DC area already has several cameras in place that will take the picture of your car and licence plate if you go through a red light. This has already drawn the ire of people on both sides of the poitical spectrum, and you can find a list of where the cameras are located online. However, if ticketed, it is almost impossible to appeal. Your accuser is a computer and a camera, and cameras, while they never lie, often fail to tell the whole story. It's essentially a way to bring in extra revenue from motorists on streets the police rarely set up shop at.

Lately, the DC PD and other city officials have been talking about implenting a trial program that would involve a system similar to that being used in Wales, where your accuser would not be a cop who saw you do it, but a camera and a radar system that can, obviously, make mistakes. Sure, mistakes like that will easily be overturned in court, but why should the innocent be made to suffer through going to the courthouse before or during work and dealing with the costs associated with it. This solution is no solution at all, and is, in fact, dangerous in a society where there are too many damn cameras anyway. They city needs good, smart ways to bring in revenue, and perhaps trimming the bereaucracy that gives rise to Orwellian-style serveliance cameras at stop lights is a good idea.

The METRO Gets Dumber

Delays on the Washington Metro in the wake of the fare increase and extension of hours on the weekend continue to make communters like myself insane with rage. Since the change, it seems that the 10-cent increase in Fare has been ofset by the expanded hours. Metro officials are considering another raise in fare. Now, I'm glad the Metro has been open later, but it seems that because, as usual, planning for the whole transfer was a disaster, revenue is less than new costs. Because of this, trains don't run quite as often during rush hour, making for packed trains and more frequent break downs, and escallator repair that apparently HAS to happen during the busy hours, when 300 people are attempting to go up and down one escallator as the same time. If Metro really wants to change, they'll stop pouring money into this "Purple Line" idea and start buying more cars and focus on fixing what they already have. I think genetically deficient chimps could do a better job running the system than the current administrators. Jerks.
:: C.M. Burns 11/04/2003 01:48:00 PM [+] :: ::
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So, What's That About Cronyism in Iraq

If you listen to critics, and the recentley released "report" which claims that Iraq is just a big reward for all of Bush's campaign donors, you'd think that all those corporations, you know, the ones rebuilding Oraq at great risk, are getting contracts because they gave money to Dubya. Well, Daniel Drezner puts the lie to that claim in todays Slate, simply by adding up donations and contract amounts, and finding very little correlation. But don't expect any of the critics of reconstruction efforts to notice, as inconvenient facts get in the way of their assumed truths.
:: C.M. Burns 11/04/2003 09:51:00 AM [+] :: ::
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:: Monday, November 03, 2003 ::
Guess What? Howard Dean Understands Why The Democrats Have Fallen Off Lately, and NO ONE ELSE IN HIS PARTY DOES!

I'll be the first to admit that I'm biased against the southern states. I am. For a Republican like myself, it's hard to admit, since the South has been the key to the resurgance of the GOP in the last decade. However, as an "intellectual", there was something about the backwards hillbillies running things down there that creeped me out. I came to understand the Southern mentality a bit better after reading Tony Horwitz's excellent "Confederates in the Attic" last year, and my prejudice abated a bit, but I reluctantly admit it exists.

Now, as blinded to some of the better aspects of the South I am, I do realize that they are a proud people who wish to be taken seriously. And since 1994's Republican takeover of Congress, the GOP has taken the avergae southerner seriously, and the GOP made it's deepest inroads in the South since reconstruction ended in the late 1800's. The GOP took the "NASCAR Voters" seriously, at a time when Democrats seemed to forget they existed. Now, Howard Dean had gotten into trouble with the other Dem candidates for comments he made this weekend about how he wants to appeal to voters who have the Confederate Flag on their trucks. He was immediately dumped on by every single candidate, even John Edwards, who should know better. Kerry had the best sound bite, rejecting the "confederate flag" and declaring that he wanted the votes of people with the American flag on their trucks. Al Sharpton, in his continued effort to label Dean a racist and erase his deeply anti-semitic past, said that the flag is to blacks like the swastika is to Jews. Good to see the Rev come to the defense of a people on whom he built his career vilifiing. Gephardt says he doesn't want any racist votes, perhaps proving how much of a dope Gephardt is. He's been running for President since the '88 campaign, and he want to South Carolina back when it had the image of the flag on it's state flag.

The fact is, though Dean said it wrong, he hit the problem that the Democratic party faces in the South right on the head. He knows that no Democrat has won the White House without getting at least 4 southern states. But the party is so enamored with it's elitisim and it's commitment to special interests that it can't see the forest for the trees. I firmly believe, after reading "Confederates in the Attic", that southerners who display that flag are not all racists. In fact, most probably aren't. I don't like seeing the flag over the statehouses, but many Southerners do legitimatley use it as symbol of their rebelious heritage. Family means a lot down south, and their great-great grandpappy's fought under that flag, and most didn't even own slaves. Now, it is true that the flag became a symbol of racisim when the KKK coopted it in the second decade of the 20th century, and it is controversial. But it's more controversial up north and in southern urban areas than it is in the more rural south that the Democrats need to appeal to to win in 2004. Now, Dean is certifiably crazy by my reconing, but he is at least consistant, unlike his flip-flopping opponents. And he sees this issue as essential to the party's future. Gephardt and Co. talk about being the People's Candidates, but the people they are candidates for are costal elites, the people who fly over the south and the midwest and know nothing about them, who look down on them. While I am surprised it was Dean who noticed the big disconnect in Democratic rhetoric with Democratic action, but it's a valid, important point. While I think that Republicans have not ignored the rural south in the way that Dean claims, the Democrats HAVE to make that case to win in 2004. Otherwise, they will prove for all time that they are just a coastal, elite party.

Quick Word on Democratic Pandering

I've lost the direct link, but if you go to the DNC web page at www.dnc.org and click on helpful links, you will see not links to local and state parties or to candidates sites, but a virtual library, organized by topic, of pure special interest groups that shows why the Democratic party, in the eyes of old style Reagan Democrats like southerners, is the party of special interests, and not the people. It's sort of sad. Somehow, the most liberal one of all, Howard Dean, recognizes this as a BAD THING. So strange. And yet so fitting.
:: C.M. Burns 11/03/2003 04:01:00 PM [+] :: ::
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Tough Attack On Bush's Loyalty Problem

Although he's been a vocal supporter of the war on Iraq, Michael Ledeen has long critisized the White House for not firing people who screw up-badly. Virtually no one got sacked after 9/11, including CIA director George Tenet, who has not even sacked any of is own people over 9/11. I think that Bush & Co. need to start firing people left and right, even close advisors, and Michael Ledeen really nails it here on NRO. He calls for the President to do to the intelligence and military esablishment what Reagan did to the Air Traffic controllers. Hang 'em all, I say, or the White House will never get the stain of the failures of 9/11 to go away.
:: C.M. Burns 11/03/2003 03:09:00 PM [+] :: ::
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