Monthly Archives: August 2004

I was at work for most of the day, so anything major that happened on the streets I likely missed. But here’s what I did see:
People were chanting something incomprehensible on Seventh Ave. at around 6:30, I went up to a guy on the corner asking what the chant was, and he had no idea. Others, channeling Ludacris, chanted “Move Bush, Get Out The Way, Get Out The Way Bush, Get Out The Way.” Call it a sample, I guess.
MSNBC’s “Hardball,” as I may have mentioned, is broadcasting live from Herald Square, about two and a half blocks from my office, so I was able to watch it in person for about a half hour after work. Chris Matthews was there with panelists Christine Todd Whitman, Laura Ingraham, Howard Fineman, and Pat Buchanan, and I was also on hand for a Matthews interview with Elizabeth Dole. (I may have even been visible on TV; let me know if you saw me). Then, a few blocks away, I passed David Gergen on the street.
A few “Hardball” notes: Most of the crowd for the show was staunchly anti-Bush and booed every mention of his name. Ingraham is much, much better-looking in person than on TV; Whitman, alas, is not. And considering that Buchanan is the guy who almost single-handedly made me hate Republicans when I was 14, it was strange to see him in the flesh for the first time, during a Republican convention no less. Pat was on “Da Ali G Show” a few weeks ago; makes me wonder if the “Throw the Jew Down the Well” thing was his idea.
Meanwhile, this blog’s patron saint, Ron Silver,spoke tonight at the convention, even though he’s a social liberal, has been a Democrat for most of his life, and once played Alan Dershowitz in a movie. On the subject, Scott Galupo had this to say in the Washington Times:

The Republican entertainment lineup is even thinner in actors. The prize catch so far is Ron Silver, who may not even be the most popular middle-aged Jewish character actor named Ron. (He’s neck and neck with Ron Leibman.)

Galupo’s analysis, while astute, omits any consideration of Ron Rifkin, Ron Perlman, Ron Eldard, or Ron Jeremy.
Speaking of which, if “Skin,” the show on which Silver played a pornographer, had lasted more than two episodes, there’s no way in hell he’d be allowed anywhere near the Republican convention.

Malkin Award Nominee

This blog’s newest award, named after everyone’s favorite lunatic Republican spokesmodel, is for partisan political hacks who go on talk shows and spread unsubstantiated, slanderous rumors about their foes. Today’s nominee is House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who said the following on yesterday’s installment of Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace:

HASTERT: You know, I don’t know where George Soros gets his money. I don’t know where – if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from. And I …
WALLACE: Excuse me?
HASTERT: Well, that’s what he’s been for a number years – George Soros has been for legalizing drugs in this country. So, I mean, he’s got a lot of ancillary interests out there.
WALLACE: You think he may be getting money from the drug cartel?
HASTERT: I’m saying I don’t know where groups – could be people who support this type of thing. I’m saying we don’t know. The fact is we don’t know where this money comes from.

If Hastert had a blog, I’m guessing this morning he’d be posting that “I never said Soros gets his money from drug cartels- and that caveman Chris Wallace knows it!”
(Via Dan Kennedy)

Jayhawk Blues (and Reds)

Last week I finished Thomas Frank’s book “What’s the Matter With Kansas,” and while it was a fascinating examination of several too-neglected subjects- including what makes conservatives conservative and the “backlash” against the “liberal elite”- there were a few instances where it lost me, and I’m probably not the only one.
Frank, a native of a Kansas City suburb, discusses what made the Prairie State go red, and makes several astute observations about how conservatives have successfully wooed much of America by pointing to boogie men in the “liberal elite,” while the “conservative elite”- aka Wall Street and corporate America- gets a free pass despite doing much more damage to their interests. He also shares numerous funny anecdotes about Kansas politics over the years, most of which consist of crazy Christian conservatives running amok.
‘What’s The Matter’ is refreshing in that it’s not just another Bush-bashing book- Dubya is barely mentioned- but it’s nonetheless a bit too left-wing in places for my tastes. I’ll be nodding along with one of the chapters, that is until Frank tosses in a phrase such as “the borderline criminality of capitalism itself.” Not to mention Frank’s audacity in writing a book about how people in Kansas should vote when he hasn’t lived there in years, which seems to give truth to the conservative stereotype that blue-staters are always telling red-staters how to live. I would probably never write such a book about Minnesota’s political trends, but if I did it would be a lot nicer to my state than Frank’s is to his.
So “What’s the Matter With Kansas” is an interesting look at how political attitudes have shifted in recent decades- but if you’re a moderate, don’t expect to relate to all of it.

In news that would’ve made my year about five years ago but now I don’t really care that much about, Kevin Smith has announced a sequel to “Clerks.”
The no-budget 1994 comedy was a seminal film of my college years and one of the great underdog stories of ‘90s independent film, but with the exception of “Chasing Amy” every one of Smith’s films since has been worse than the last, and I didn’t even bother seeing “Jersey Girl” in the theater.
Even worse than that, the appeal of the original film was its lo-fi, black-and-white aesthetic; to give the sequel a more traditional look would be to detract from that almost irretrievably. Oh well, at least the title (“The Passion of the Clerks”) is clever.

I don’t have a whole lot to say about this Israeli spy scandal, except that we don’t know anything yet, and it’ll probably be awhile before we do. But one thing I have noticed in commentary on it, especially with the story breaking right before the convention, is one phrase: “the timing is suspicious.”
If you read blogs and/or listen a lot to political hacks of any stripe, this is a phrase you’re probably used to hearing. It accompanies every terror alert, every “gotcha” revelation about anyone’s past, and just about every bit of news that comes out for any reason ever, especially in connection with the presidential campaign.
But here’s the problem: the timing with everything is always suspicious. With today’s 24-hour news cycle, so much information is being hurtled at us at all times that whenever other, more major information emerges, it can only make it look as though it’s connected to other events, even when it’s not. The worst instance of all was when Saddam Hussein was captured last December, and conspiracy theorists accused Bush of timing the capture for political advantage- as though mid-December were prime political season for an incumbent president unopposed in his primary.
Like for instance: If Osama Bin Laden were to be captured tomorrow, every opponent of President Bush would scream that “the timing is suspicious,” because we’re in the middle of the Republican convention. Had he been captured two weeks ago, it would’ve been “timed suspiciously” to build up momentum heading into the convention; were it to happen in two weeks, it would be to distract from the debates, etc. In fact, a theoretical Bin Laden capture at, really, anytime in the last three years could’ve been spun as a nefarious Bush plot- but since he hasn’t been captured, that’s been spun against Bush too.
But what if it happened in Kerry’s first week as president? Wouldn’t the timing be suspicious?