stAllio!'s way
Friday, October 01, 2004 
forget poland
progressive bloggers and jammers have already been having fun with bush's exclamation from last night's debate "you forgot poland!" (re: the so-called coalition in iraq)

but now it's been discovered that now poland is pulling out of iraq. this might not be reported very much because the timing is so especially poor for bush. (i can't find it on google news right now)

all the news that fits, we print
a break from the constant debate blogging...

fox news printed and then retracted a totally-false hatchet piece against kerry. the article had kerry referring to himself as a "metrosexual" and attributed to him outlandish quotes like "Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!" and "It's about the Supreme Court. Women should like me! I do manicures."

josh marshallfound the article online (being sure to save a copy to his hard drive as evidence) and started making some calls. soon enough, the offending article disappeared without explanation. a few hours later, josh spoke with fox spokesman paul schur, who told him

"Carl [Cameron] made a stupid mistake which he regrets. And he has been reprimanded for his lapse in judgment. It was a poor attempt at humor."

you might recall that pundits at fox news cackled ceaselessly that heads should roll at cbs for a recent scandal involving memos that were basically true but whose authenticity cbs could not totally verify (although cbs certainly put in some serious work to authentify them). but this is a story where totally false, potentially libelous content somehow slipped through the editorial process and was reported as real news, even though no rational editor could've believed kerry would have said such things.

to their credit, fox eventually posted a retraction and apology:

Earlier Friday, posted an item purporting to contain quotations from Kerry. The item was based on a reporter's partial script that had been written in jest and should not have been posted or broadcast. We regret the error, which occurred because of fatigue and bad judgment, not malice.

what's that about broadcast? it's bad enough that something like that could end up on their website passing for news, but are they indirectly confessing that they actually put these false quotes on-air? that would be horrible if true... i wonder if someone out there has footage of this.

my letter to the star
i wrote a letter to the editor. maybe it'll see print:

I was puzzled when I read your Oct. 1 editorial ("No knockouts in first debate") where you wrote "neither candidate was clearly better than the other in terms of style and neither made any serious gaffes."

Watching the debate in split-screen on C-SPAN was enlightening, as it showed each candidate's actions while the other was speaking. Senator Kerry was cool and collected and took notes; President Bush fidgeted, blinked constantly, and impatiently waved at the moderator to get more time.

Senator Kerry was better prepared on a wider array of topics, whereas President Bush was defensive all night, endlessly repeated a handful of talking points. Kerry's speaking style was strong and clear; Bush stuttered and seemed at best tired, at worst angry and petulant. Kerry's style was leagues beyond Bush's.

And Kerry did catch Bush in at least one major gaffe: when speaking about his reasons for invading Iraq, the president said "the enemy attacked us." Iraq never attacked the United States, as Kerry pointed out and the president impatiently conceded.

Public opinion polls all agree that Senator Kerry won this debate by a large margin. Even on your own message board, an overwhelming number of people agree. You owe it to your readers to admit that Kerry won.

spin to win
i find it telling that very few people seem to be trying to spin the debate as a win for bush. those who can't admit that kerry won (like the indy star) are clinging desperately to the idea that it was a draw. that demonstrates just what a lousy performance bush had, that only the most devout busholaters would pretend bush won. if it had been even remotely close, they would be everywhere ramming home the meme that bush triumphed. but few are so delusional. even many freepers and conservative bloggers had to confess that kerry smoked bush's ass (or at least that bush lost).

now even spinning this as a draw would be tough, and i imagine those who are trying watched the fullscreen version of the debate. bush's reaction shots while kerry spoke were just devastating (if you missed them, has compiled some of the best looks into a short video called "faces of frustration". in that video bush blinks more than a mugger who's just been maced.

the main argument that this was a draw seems to be the "no knockouts" line (what i'll call the "nervous breakdown" rule): because kerry didn't bring bush to tears, because bush didn't completely fall apart onstage, because bush only stammered for 5-10 seconds at a time, they conclude, it wasn't a win for kerry. bush "won" by not being quite as pathetic as possible. rob corddry on the daily show put it best last night when he said "a retarded man fought off the smarted man in the world. we have to reelect him!"

the lead of today's new york times editorial demonstrates my point:
If Americans who tuned into last night's presidential debate were waiting for one of the candidates to catch the other in a fatal error, or leave him stammering, the event was obviously a draw. But if the question was whether Senator John Kerry would appear presidential, whether he could present his positions clearly and succinctly and keep President Bush on the defensive when it came to the critical issue of Iraq, Mr. Kerry delivered the goods.

a fatal error? perhaps there was no fatal error or blue screen of death in this debate, but that's an almost impossibly high bar to hit. that's like saying "they only won the super bowl by two or three touchdowns, and didn't beat the spread, so it's not really a win." (this isn't really what the times is saying, but enough others are.)

star of wonder
no wonder "hoosier" means "redneck" in st louis slang...

the indy star editorial says there were "no knockouts" in the debate, and refuses to admit kerry won. (it gives the copout answer that "the american people" won, and then claims it's not a copour answer.) hello? did you have time to actually watch the debate before deadline? there is no question that kerry triumphed.

the hoosier people aren't buying it though: the comments on the forum overwhelmingly say kerry won.

Thursday, September 30, 2004 
kerry vanquishes bush in first debate
you know, i suspected that kerry would perform better than bush. but oh my god i didn't think it would be so brutal. john kerry killed in this debate, no doubt about it.

bush was on the defensive all night, looking uneasy, trapped, and confused. he stumbled through his talking points (did anyone count how many times he said "mixed signals"? or "my opponent" for that matter?). it was bad. i'm quite glad i watched on c-span 1 and got to see the reaction shots: bush would practically wince in pain whenever kerry made a good point (which was constantly). kerry calmly took notes while bush spoke. the split-screen was set up so that the candidates' heads were horizontally aligned, so their podiums looked way off, like kerry had a short pedestal with a long mic stand and bush had a tall podium with a pathetically stubby mic stand. but of course their podiums are the same height, and kerry is some 6+ inches taller than bush, something the bush team has tried hard to keep people from seeing.

bush did get in a couple good punches, but when one hit he would try to hit the same spot, with the same exact words, over and over again, with numbing repetition. hence "mixed messages" being repeated times, or "my opponent said 'wrong war wrong time", or the classic "my opponent changes his mind". he really didn't have much to say, but he would still run long, or beg for a response but then not know what to say.

kerry was calm, cool, collected, and full of facts. he clearly conquered bush "on points" as scarborough confessed, and it seems pretty clear he won on attitude as well. bush's game was way off tonight, and kerry was on fire. kerry exuded that adjective they call "presidential" while bush just oozed insecurity.

kerry's best zinger of the night, hands down: bush "outsourced" the job of catching osama. classic!

at first glance, it looks like kerry has also won the post-debate debate. but how couldn't he? this was an unspinnable victory for kerry, a trouncing, and that was very clear if you were watching the split-screen. fox was running the camera pool, so i'm not sure what you saw if you watched the "fullscreen" version.

debate update
the best channel to watch the debates is c-span 1. most channels will only show one candidate at a time. c-span 1 promises to do a "split screen" with both candidates onscreen at all times. should be a nice glimpse of what other people aren't seeing.

fuckin-hot 9/11
forget fahrenheit 9/11, orwell rolls in his grave, and all the other political documentaries: here is the king of all political movies:

courtesy of wonkette, who found it on the new york post: it's porn for kerry!

according to the site, "100% of all profits will be donated to fortify Kerry Campaign efforts in the crucial battleground states!" i haven't watched the preview clips yet, but look at some of these scenes:

Scene 1: After a particularly heated TV debate, blonde bombshell conservative Ann Cunter and quirky comedian Al Frankenbeans blow off some steam in the dressing room.

Scene 2: On a secretive mission to Abu Garrabe Prison, Secretary of Defense Donnie Cumsfeld meets soldier Lyndie Dickland to learn the truth behind the abuse. But Donnie is in over his head when the leash is put on him!

Scene 3: Jorge Bush thought his hot tub business meeting with King Fahk of Sexy Alabia would be, well, all business. But his highness always knows how to entertain guests with his personal squad of sex minions.

Scene 4: First daughter Jenteal Bush has got bigger problems than alcoholism when a group of sexy homeland security agents raid her sorority house!

i am so tempted to buy this... even if the pr0n is awful (and let's face it, it probably is), the basic concept is such a piece of pop culture kitsch that it's hard to resist... especially since it's on sale today for $19.99 (goes up to $29.99 tomorrow).

and think of the possible samples! i am...

falling for debate
tonight is the first presidential pseudo-debate of 2004. there will be no actual debating, so this might be better called a "binary press conference". the rules are extensive, the coverage micro-managed to the extreme, and once again everything is deliberately crafted to prevent third parties from getting into the debate. npr has a nice "top 10" list of "secrets they don't want you to know about the debates" that is a good place to start researching what's wrong with prez debates these days, but there is much more info out there for those who search it out...

still, i'm going to watch the fuck out of it. i missed the indiana gubernatorial debate the other day (i forgot it was happening and watched return of the jedi instead, although bobby vomit did a live remix of the indiana debate and might hook me up with an mp3 soon) but i won't miss this one, & i'll be trying to watch the rest as well. i'll probably even tape them all to vhs for possible sampling... and i'll damn well be sure to watch the debate coverage on the daily show tonight.

the blogosphere is ramping up because many have correctly observed that the post-debate debate is more important than the debate itself. to wit, which candidate actually performs better doesn't matter as much as which candidate has more pundits claiming that he "won". many people thought gore won some or all of the debates in 2000, but the talking heads insisted bush won and over time that became the conventional wisdown. considering how the mainstream media still treats bush with kids' gloves, even if kerry wins tonight, the democrats will have to work hard to get the media to acknowlege that (unless bush completely fucks up, which is possible).

part of the package is the "expectations game". each candidate tries to inflate his opponent's debate skills: bush has "never lost a debate" (false) and kerry's "entire life has led to this moment". this might seem counterintuitive, but it works by lowering the bar: if everyone thinks going in that kerry can't win the debate, then it's that much easier for him to impress people, and vice versa. bush is winning that game, but then he has the right-wing pundits in his corner.

naturally an assortment of debate drinking games have arisen (wonkette's wins the prize for being the first i've seen, though the one printed in the chicago tribune is likely to get more participants). i don't think i'll be playing, because unlike bush's state of the union, there's at least a chance that something of substance will happen and i'd rather be sober enough to catch it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004 
lick my SCOTUS
the latest issue of vanity fair has a long investigative piece about the 2000 elections... this thing is comprehensive: from what was going on in the florida districts to mass voter disenfranchisement to suspicious touchscreen voting to new insight on what was happening inside the supreme court (SCOTUS, what a dirty sounding word) while they deliberated the bush v gore. even a substantial number of law clerks from scotus gave interviews for the vanity fair piece. and it doesn't reflect well on the either the supreme court or the bush campaign (or his brother jeb).

vanity fair has no website (get with the program people) but has PDFs of the whole thing. with permission even!

Monday, September 27, 2004 
Dirty Shame, A
drbmd and i are going to see A Dirty Shame tonight! this promises to be john waters's filthiest movie in years so i'm excited.

i've been in a big movie mode recently, buying dvds aplenty. yesterdat at costco i got the new director's cut of thx 1138 and the star wars trilogy dvd set. before that i'd bought at least a half dozen other dvds in the past month or so. and tomorrow eternal sunshine of the spotless mind comes out on dvd, though i might just wait a week and get it when fahrenheit 9/11 comes out on oct 5.

one odd thing about buying dvds at costco: longboxes. if you were buying cds in the early '90s you'll remember longboxes: they are "long" cardboard boxes (around 12"), inside which is the normal dvd or jewel case for your disc. for those who're packrats or collage artists like me, they can be kind of cool, because some of them are very pretty and feature expanded cover artwork. i saved the front of the longbox for van halen's "carnal knowledge" cd for a long time (though it's long since hit the trash by now). and the thx 1138 longbox has a larger version of the dvd cover, which i think is beautiful. basically, well-done longboxes can be kind of cool because they give back some of the art space that was lost after we shifted away from LPs and laserdiscs.

of course they're also a tremendous waste of resources: all that cardboard, thrown away for no good reason. originally longboxes were created because record stores all had shelves designed to fit 12" records in, and standard jewel cases (only about 4.6" tall) were just too short. using longboxes, a store could simply divide a 12" shelf in half and make two rows of cds. of course, record stores have long since replaced their shelves or switched to reusable plastic anti-theft brackets, and public outcry convinced the industry to phase them out many years ago.

so why does costco still use longboxes? (i believe sams club does too, though i haven't been there in some time.) the obvious answer is theft prevention, since a 12" long box is trickier to slip into your pocket. but it seems like they could just affix yet another RFID or anti-theft tag (or use the brackets like at record stores) if that were their only concern.

what's worse is that you know the manufacturers and/or distributors have to go out of their way to provide longboxes just for costco/sams/etc. most dvds are in ugly generic boxes (with holes to display the real dvd cover) but all the dvds i bought there yesterday have custom boxes. i plan to use both the thx and star wars boxes in future collage work, but 99% of customers most likely throw that shit away... why costco why?

(note: this is my first blog entry using blogThis. i know i'm behind the curve on this extension, but so be it...)

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