February 28, 2005

The Guys at Right Wing News unveil the new Democrat marketing spot...

Courtesy of Howard Dean.

Updated from the "I hate Republicans" bit, the commentary behind the awesome graphic is here.

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Oscar audience DOWN from last year...

by 2 million viewers. Looks like another case of those "early exit polls" that showed one thing but the final results show another. The AP reports that:

The drop in total viewership was an indication that this year's Oscar ceremony was more popular in the big cities than rural areas, more so than an average Academy Awards, said Larry Hyams, vice president of audience analysis and research for ABC.

Oscar ratings were up from last year among viewers aged 18 to 34 — a prime target for the advertisers who pay millions of dollars for time on what is traditionally the year's highest-rated program after the Super Bowl.

Hyams attributed the boost in young viewership to Rock.


So, 41 million viewers. In context, that means this year was lower than last year - which was no banner year for ratings. In fact it's not all that much better than 2002, which at the time was an all-time low. So my original prediction that it would be "one of the lowest rated" stands.

Looks like the "hip" metropolitans in the big markets (mostly in Blue States) watched in droves, but the rest of America (mostly Red states) opted out. Another indication of a culture schism in the nation?

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Second Thoughts...

Ever since 8 million Iraqis stood up for Democracy a month ago, even some of the most skeptical critics of the changes taking place in the Middle East are having a change of heart. Seeing is believing, as Michael Barone explains:

The Washington Post's David Ignatius, who covered Lebanon in the 1980s and has kept in touch since, has been skeptical that the Bush administration's policy would change things for the better. But reporting from Beirut last week, he wrote movingly of "the movement for political change that has suddenly coalesced in Lebanon and is slowly gathering force elsewhere in the Arab world."

Ignatius interviewed Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader long a critic of the United States. Jumblatt's words are striking: "It's is strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq. I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world. The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."

As Middle East expert Daniel Pipes writes, "For the first time in three decades, Lebanon now seems within reach of regaining its independence."


It'll take a while, but with the benefit of enough hindsight, some Democrats will come around. Hillary's already seeing the writing on the wall.
One Democrat so inclined is the party's most likely 2008 nominee, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. She voted for the Iraq war and has not wavered in her support -- she avoided voting for the $87 billion before voting against it. She has kept clear of the Michael Moore left and its shrill denunciations of Bush and has kept her criticisms well within the bounds of normal partisan discourse.

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The Dominos Keep Falling...

Do you think even the Bush Adminsitration is beside itself at what a great week they're having? The pro-Syrian "puppet" Lebanese government just resigned.

THE WHOLE FREAKING GOVERNMENT!!

Karami made the announcement during a parliamentary debate called to discuss [former Prime Minister Rafik] Hariri's Feb. 14 assassination in a bomb blast that killed 16 others. The announcement prompted cheers from more than 25,000 flag-waving demonstrators protesting against the government and its Syrian backers outside.

The resignation was the most dramatic moment yet in the series of protests and political maneuvers that have shaken Lebanon (search) since Hariri's killing.

What must it be like to be a Democrat nay-sayer these days? This is 1989 and the Berlin Wall all over again.

Thanks to: Ankle-Biting Pundits

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Star Wars Spoiler Site...

For those of you who:
  1. can't wait to see the final Star Wars movie on May 19th - Ep. III Revenge of the Sith, and
  2. LOVE spoilers

I've got a site for you: TBone's Star Wars Universe.

But beware, you will pretty much get the entire plot spelled out for you. Of course, you could also just wait for April 2 when the novelization comes out and get even the dialogue spoiled.

I swore I would avoid spoilers for this one, but I just.can't.do it.

Inigo Montoya: "Who ARE you?"
Man In Black: "No one to be trifled with."
Inigo Montoya: "I must know."
Man In Black: "Get used to disappointments."
Inigo Montoya: "Okay."

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Electoral Map To Get Redder...

Robert Novak's latest (scroll down the link) highlights the likely trend when the 2010 census comes out and redistrictring begins anew...

The new study forecasts that "Red" states will pick up a net six electoral votes, with Florida and Texas gaining three each. The "Blue" states carried by John Kerry, according to Polidata, will lose a net six electoral votes, led by New York's loss of two. Under this distribution of electoral votes, George W. Bush could have been elected last November without carrying Ohio.

The study comes from Polidata, a Republican-oriented political mapping and redistricting firm that studies population trends.

Hopefully, the will all come at the expense of New England States.

Hat Tip: Right-Wing News

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Early indications on "Oscar" ratings prove me wrong...

or at least partially wrong. According to Drudge, ratings for last night were the highest since 2000. Now how that fits in context remains to be seen. I did predict that it would be one of the lowest rated shows ever. If the last five years were the lowest rated broadcasts since they started televising, then I was right...from a certain point of view.

However, if not, I'll take my lumps for missing this one. Must have been that while I was not interested, a lot of other people were. Oh well. Stay tuned.

Update (11:45am):
The plot thinens. Here are the last four years (per Drudge):

OSCAR OVERNIGHTS:
2005 30.1 RATING/43 SHARE
2004 29.6 RATING/43 SHARE

2003 25.2 RATING/37 SHARE ** SET RECORD LOW
2002 29.1 RATING/47 SHARE ** SET RECORD LOW

OK so if 25.2/37 is a "record low" and last night's was 30.1/43, what is the record high? In other words, where on the spectrum does 2005 sit? Would you consider the ratings decent, but still low historically? There really isn't a context.

However, I'm sure somebody will analyze this to death. And when they do, I'm all over it. I'll admit when I'm wrong, but if I'll do whatever I can to make sure I don't do so prematurely.

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February 27, 2005

What do you mean "we" Kemosabe?

Syrian authorites did the right thing and handed over Saddam's half-brother, Sabawi Ibraham al-Hassan, and 29 other former Baathists that they caught trying to sneak into their country over their border with Iraq.

Now that the floodlights have been trained on Syria and their illegal occupation of Lebanon, they've gotten oh so cooperative with coalition forces. Picture Syrian officials shaking hands with U.S. military personnel as they hand over their former buddies, "Oh, no these are the BAD Baathists that you're looking for. We're the GOOD Baathists. Saddam was a pig and his breath stunk. Glad to help."

Hat tip to Captain Ed.

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Getting ready to watch the Academy Awards?

Have fun.

Not me. I'm going to watch my tape of last Friday's "Battlestar Galactica" episode and drink lots of cheap domestic beer.

And what's up with "Million Dollar Baby" anyway? If I'm going to sit and watch two hours of women fighting each other it better involve mud, baby oil or jello.

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No.More.Snow!

Look, I know I live in the Northeast and I should take it in stride that snow is a normal part of this environment...

But for GOD'S SAKE please make it stop. I hate to sound like a wuss but I'm going broke paying for snow plowing. I hate driving in it and despite the fact that the people around me on the highway should be equally as used to it they drive like complete A-HOLES!

Now here we go again with a report of MORE snow. Maybe as much as a foot of this sh*t. Did I say the groundhog was cute? He's not cute. He's an oversized rat. I wish to God someone would kill it and eat it.

No more. No more. Please no moutkgfhlghuflhtgththhkjtjt jnb fmn......(head on keyboard).

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The 77th Academy Awards...(yawn)...

I know there are people who watch the Oscars every year without fail. They watch the whole thing, from the pre-show where reporters stop the actors on the carpet and ask them mind-numbingly idiotic questions like, "what are you wearing" to the final credit crawl while the orchestra plays on. For them, it's an event - a major happening bigger than the Superbowl that they can discuss around the water-cooler the next day. In a way, this is fortunate for me because when they come up to me and ask "did you watch the Oscars last night?", I can simply say "no" and and they can move on to the next bleary-eyed pop-culture addict.

So why won't I be watching? Well, I've watched some years and haven't watched other years. The major criteria for me is - I have to CARE.

And this year, frankly, I don't.

I don't feel like wasting 3.5+ hours of my life watching:

  • people wearing some of the most god-awful outfits ever designed
  • Chris Rock screaming at the audience with that maniacal smile of his
  • shots of the same actors over and over sitting in the first five rows pretending to be having fun
  • presenter teams of actors who have absolutely no chemistry with each other
  • these same presenters - people who make a living reciting other peoples' words - inexplicably failing to read cure cards without having it look like that's exactly what their doing
  • bad jokes delivered by the presenters that result in an uncomfortable silence from the audience
  • seeing clips from the each nominee in the category "Best Documentary Short Subject"
  • listening to winners of the technical-oriented awards - people I've never heard of - ramble on and on and on about the people they want to thank because they think they'll probably never be up on that stage again
  • hearing one or two big-mouth ass-hat celebrities use their spot on the world stage to make some idiotic political statement just because they have a captive audience
  • five-minute commericals every eight minutes
I could go on but the point is if I'm going to endure all of the above and a lot more, I damn well better actually care who wins. The fact is I've seen almost none of the movies nominated for anything.

In fact, expect for the animated movies that I've seen with my kids - "Shark Tale, Shrek 2, etc. - I can count on one hand the number of movies that I've seen that are nominated in ANY of the 24 major categories.

Obviously that's my problem but I haven't been persuaded by anything to want to see them.

The other night I saw "The Aviator". OK, that was pretty good, but it doesn't make my list of 100 best movies and if I hadn't seen it, my life would still be as meaningful. The best part was Cate Blanchett. Most actors have talent, but this woman has a gift. I'm a huge Katherine Hepburn fan and anyone that pull off a convincing performance playing her deserves an Academy Award. Basically Cate nailed it as Kate.

Obviously I was interested enough to watch last year because I wanted to see an upstart Kiwi director like Peter Jackson sweep the awards away from the established Hollywood elite. Plus he and his crew absolutely deserved every award they got for "The Lord of the Rings" films.

I'm not a snob who turns his nose up at the artistic output of Hollywood. There have been years where I've watched because I did see three or four of the movies nominated for Best Picture - and I saw them before they were nominees. I've even watched if I haven't seen many movies but Billy Crystal was the host (someone whose actually entertaining). But this year? Forget it.

Here's my prediction: This will be one of (if not THE) lowest rated Academy Awards shows of all time. You can check Drudge late tomorrow morning for the overnights.

Here's my advice: Save yourself the hassle and do something more fulfilling, like playing a board game with your kids. Then the first thing Monday morning, log on to the internet and print out a copy of the winners from any news site. Then you'll know in a couple of minutes what I took other people a whole wasted evening to find out.

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February 26, 2005

Coming Tomorrow - Oscar Predictions...

Not who's going to win, how much the actual awards show is going to SUCK and why. Stay tuned.

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Diane Lane Photo Of The Week...

Sweet.

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Egypt scrambles after Condi's rebuff...

Interesting. Sec. of State Condoleeza Rice - currently on her "boots 'n black jacket" tour - announced her displeasure at the arrest of one of Egypt's opposition leaders, Ayman Nour and cancels a scheduled stop to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. And he panics. No Condi?

Within 24 hours, Mubarak orders a change in Egyptian election law to allow actual challenger to appear on the ballot later this year.

Can you see Mubarak pacing back and forth in his office? "I MUST see her. Please, Condi, come and see me. Pleeeeaaaase?!?".

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February 25, 2005

Economic Data: Even Better Than Expected...

This will surely miss the headlines (per a release from the Commerce Dept.):

The economy grew at a solid 3.8 percent annual rate in the final quarter of 2004 - stronger than previously estimated- and an encouraging sign that the business expansion was firmly entrenched at the start of the new year.

The new reading on gross domestic product, released by the Commerce Department Friday, was better than the government's initial calculation made a month ago. That estimate showed the economy growing at a 3.1 percent pace.

So, the Bush recovery continues to pump along, despite having inherited a recession, the attacks of 9/11 and being fully engaged in the war on terror.

For all of 2004, the economy expanded by 4.4 percent, the best showing in five years. This annual estimate was the same as first reported last month.

I swear if Kerry were President right now, he'd be puffing up his chest and claiming credit...and I'd be royally pissed.

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I've been scouring the blogosphere trying to find the best presentation of the Condi "boots 'n jacket" photo...

and I've finally found it.

Lorie Byrd has it here along with the most original post title.

A big thanks to Viking Pundit for linking it.

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Academy Award Special Report (Big-mouth Ass-hat Celebrities, Boycotts and the Movie-Going Public)…

I know quite a few people who refuse to see certain movies if they feature a particular actor or actress who is known for running their mouth off about U.S. foreign policy, the President, Iraq, etc. I admit, it’s a bit unseemly for a Hollywood big to use the spotlight to push their little pet crusades be it a social issue, a policy decision or just your average every-day ad hominem attack on Bush or their cabinet secretary of choice.

Do these folks have a right to their opinions, no matter how insipid or ill informed? Sure they do. Does the ticket-paying public have a right to vote with their wallet? Of course. But to what end? I mean, the whole point is whether or not you can get past the image of a celebrity on their soapbox and enjoy the performance. Apparently, a lot of people can’t. In most cases, however, I can. That is, I can if the skill and talent of the actor in question is good enough.

For example, Sean Penn’s antics in Baghdad just before the war were pretty embarrassing. Especially since he only realized too late that Saddam duped him into being a propaganda tool. But his award for “Mystic River” was well-deserved. To be honest, Jeff Spicoli aside, Penn is a brilliant actor and had I let his stupid crap bother me enough I would have missed out on a powerful film. Tim Robbins, another outspoken Lefty, was excellent in that movie as well.

I just saw the remake of “Shall We Dance” with Richard Gere, J-Lo, and Susan Sarandon. Now, when I see Sarandon (Tim Robbins mate, BTW) screeching away on the evening news about WMDs I instinctively want to retch. But you know what. She was so good in that role that those horrible visions never factored into my enjoyment of her performance.

What’s your point, dude? That you’re jedi mind powers are superior to those of the average movie-goer? Well, whoop-di-do for you!

No, no, no. What I’m saying is that life is short. I consider going to the movies to be one of life’s special treats. And when you have three kids, the chances to get out of the house and kick back in a cozy theater become fewer and farther between.

I could easily avoid Johnny Depp on screen because he often dumps on the U.S. while sipping chardonnay with his French wife at Cannes. But that means I have to miss out on a lot of films, many of which I would otherwise be glad I saw. I think the key is to “let go” of the negative feelings that build when I see or hear these ego-maniacs prattle on about what’s wrong with everything I believe in or support. I suppose when you’re surrounded by an entourage of ass-kissing sycophants who tell you how brilliant you are all day, it’s easy to think that you’re some kind of iconic sage whose every utterance is transferred to the Big Book of Famous Quotes.

Celebrities do need to remember that they bear a certain amount of responsibility that comes with their fame. But if you let them dictate what you will or won’t enjoy in your own life, you give them much more power than they really deserve. Something to consider the next time you log on to Fandango.com.

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Democrat Dissents about Dean...

A columnist in the DailyPrincetonian.com lays out a very compelling wake-up call to those Democrats who are still trying to convince themselves that Howard Dean's ascension to chairman of the DNC is a step in the right direction for the party. In his column, Democrats Miss The Boat With Dean, Jeremy Golubcow-Teglasi warns Democrats that the choice of Dean shows how little the party has learned in the wake of it's defeat on Nov. 2:

"The DNC fails to appreciate that throughout his primary campaign, Dean displayed only one talent: reminding disaffected voters that they were angry. As far as I can remember, Dean's rhetoric made absolutely no impression upon a single voter who was ambivalent about George W. Bush. Dean excited, but he did not persuade. All he ever demonstrated was an exceptional flair for telling his audiences exactly what they already believed.

Democrats delude themselves if they think that Dean qualifies as an effective exponent of liberal values. Dean's popularity was fueled by the intensity of his expressed frustration with the President — and not by the articulation of his own positive ideas. His strategy was to tap into a preexisting reserve of pent-up animosity; thus, he never really bothered to make the case for liberal policies in a way that took the opposition seriously. Everybody knows that Howard Dean was against the war. But I'm not sure anybody knows what he was actually for."

Generating "excitement" is not the Democrats' problem these days, rather it's a combination of their inability to articulate any new ideas and their unwillingness to listen to its members that are outside the core of the party.

"This criticism of Dean is not a veiled argument for centrism. A politician can be unabashedly liberal and still have the skills and temperament to engage with people who are not. There is a world of difference between having the courage of one's convictions and preaching to the choir. The problem with Dean is not that he proudly represents the left-wing of the Democratic party; the problem is that he has shown contempt for the party's internal diversity."
Hat Tip: Real Clear Politics

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Burying the Hatchet with "old" Europe...

The Wall Street Journal op-ed page this a.m. makes a good observation about the recent trip President Bush has made to Europe. It was about mending fences alright, but it was France, Germany and Russia that needed to do the mending.

Why? The column explains:

"Partly this reflects political facts: Contrary to expectation a year ago (and with the qualified exception of Spain), the leaders who supported the war in Iraq have all been returned to office, while Messrs. Chirac, Putin and Schroeder languish in polls.

Partly, too, it reflects the realities of power. Europe, collectively and in its several parts, requires a functioning relationship with the U.S. to secure its vital interests. The same cannot be said of America's requirements of Europe."

Translation: They need us more than we need them. Now that Iraq is a success and the seeds of freedom and democracy have been planted in the soil of the country that was once the biggest threat to stability in the Middle-East, Messrs Chirac, Shroeder and Putin are being given the opportunity to come back into the fold.

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February 24, 2005

Sick Time - Use it or lose it...

Having been raised in a union household, I'm all to familiar with the idea of abusing the crap out of allotted sick time. Now, as Jay Tea at Wizbangblog points out, Sen. "Tailspin" Teddy Kennedy is pushing a bill to make it mandatory for companies with more than 15 employees to grant full-time workers seven sick days.

Now for those of us who work in the private sector, "sick days" are what you are supposed to take when you need them - that is, when you're legitimately too sick to go to work. They don't accumulate, they don't get "banked" and they are certainly not paid out in wages if they're not used. My experience has always been that if you give people five sick days a year, there are those who will take them all whether they need to or not because they are "entitled". Of course if you give them 30 sick days, same result. Most people don't abuse the system but there are plenty of folks who will and it sucks for rest of us who have to pick up the slack. Especially in the era of productivity, productivity, productivity.

Go read the whole post, as Jay makes some excellent points, but here's the money shot:

"My employer has already farmed out a good number of jobs to India, and more can follow. But as long as the unions keep pumping money into his pockets, Kennedy could care less. After all, only idiots WORK for a living -- the finest people simply suck off the public teat their entire life."

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