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Wednesday, May 29, 2002


Why do I have the feeling that this Internet gun-control poll won't be around much longer?

The National Committee for an Effective Congress bills itself as "a vital force in American politics" that supports "progressive candidates who fight for the issues you believe in, like freedom of choice, separation of church and state, gun control, equal rights, and environmental protection". But their current poll, shown below, does not seem to be helping their cause. As I write this, it's running over 88% against their preferred choices of "closing the [gun show] loophole" and "national licensing and registration".

NCEC Survey
Each year, thousands of firearms are bought illegally because background checks from the Brady Bill are not required at gun shows. With which of the following do you agree?
empty graphic A. Congress should close the loophole to keep more guns out of the hands of criminals.
empty graphic B. Currently our communities and schools are not safe. It is time to create a national licensing and gun registration system.
empty graphic C. Both A and B. Approximately 10,000 people are murdered with firearms each year. Something has to be done.
empty graphic D. None of the above. Any impediment to gun ownership is a violation of Second Amendment rights regardless of other benefits.

Of course I'm just guessing that their preferred choices to this very neutrally-worded poll are A, B, or C. It's pure intuition on my part...

UPDATE--The poll is still hanging in there, as of 9 am PDT on 5-30-02, even though the pro-Second Amendment voters keep piling on:

A. Close the loophole. 1.15 % (28)
B. We need national licensing and registration. 0.25 % (6)
C. Both A and B. 4.81 % (117)
D. None of the Above. 93.79 % (2281)

UPDATE #2--I'll admit I'm surprised, and I have to give the NCEC people credit. Although they must be extremely embarrassed by it, they haven't tried to tamper with the poll. As of 10 pm PDT on 6-1-02, the pro-Second Amendment supporters are maintaining a 90+ % edge in the poll, as a steady stream of voters keep coming to the site:
A. Close the loophole. 1.84 % (113)
B. We need national licensing and registration. 0.36 % (22)
C. Both A and B. 7.60 % (466)
D. None of the Above. 90.20 % (5530)

Sunday, May 26, 2002


Drudge's story is itself the story.

According to "one senior Bush official, who spoke to the DRUDGE REPORT on condition of anonymity", the "White House question[s] the timing and release of PARAMOUNT's new action movie SUM OF ALL FEARS ... a movie which depicts a nuclear bomb unleashed on an American sporting event!"

I'm inclined to believe it's true that a "senior Bush official" spoke to Drudge, simply because Drudge tries to cover his ass. He'll happily report rumors and anonymous statements from other people, no matter how far-fetched, but he is unlikely to fabricate a story out of thin air. Besides, the Bush Administration would be all over him if he actually made up the story, and Drudge has no reason to burn any bridges with a Republican administration.

That being said, I'm trying to figure out what the objective would be for a "senior Bush official" to make the statement in the first place. The Bush Administration obviously can't prevent the movie from being released, and it would be pilloried if it openly tried or even advocated such a blatant act of censorship. Leaking an anonymous statement to Drudge gives the Bush Administration plausible deniability, to deflect charges of censorship. After all, the Democrats and the liberal media can't make that big a deal over an anonymous unconfirmed statement, especially since they've so frequently attacked Drudge's credibility in the past.

But again, what's the point of the statement? What could the Administration hope to gain? Any substantial controversy will merely give the movie extra publicity, thereby boosting interest and box office receipts. Could that in reality be the goal? The Administration has been issuing a lot of terrorism warnings recently. (Bush opponents speculate all these warnings are merely to distract attention from other issues, like CIA / FBI pre-911 failures.) Could this be an attempt to focus public attention on the dangers of a terrorist nuclear attack, maybe to build up momentum for a war against Iraq?

If so, we should expect this Drudge report to trigger questions at Ari Fleisher's next press briefing, which Fleisher will respond to in a manner vague enough to maintain plausible deniability but couched in such a way as to feed the controversy.

Thursday, May 23, 2002


I don't think things are going well for Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon here in California. First the Field Poll (the validity of which is always open to question) showed Davis back in the lead. More recently there have been a series of stories about Simon losing momentum. Admittedly these have come from liberal newspapers like the Los Angeles Times and New York Times, which are certainly hoping for a Republican loss. But other, more objective sources like columnist Dan Walters, are coming to the same conclusion.

A few days ago I caught some comments by John & Ken on their afternoon radio talk show (KFI in Los Angeles). From the snippet I heard, I gathered that they'd interviewed Bill Simon the previous day.

It's important to understand that John & Ken hate Gray Davis with an intensity and passion that is unsurpassed by almost anything (with the possible exception of their distaste for Gary Condit). They desperately want Davis to lose in November, and they'd line up behind anybody who has any chance of defeating him.

They were railing against Bill Simon, because he had apparently given them the standard interview responses filled with all the standard cliches and evasions that politicians are prone to use to avoid being pinned down on issues. John & Ken were terrified that Simon was going to be buried by Davis unless Simon got his act together and and found some competent people to manage his campaign.

The above is only anecdotal evidence, but I get a similar impression from other sources. Gray Davis is facing what would normally be considered a "perfect storm" -- a combination of his insane energy policies, his openly-extortionary fundraising mania, his corrupt cronies, highly-hostile "allies" among Democratic legislators and liberal special-interest groups, a dislikable personality subject to raging temper tantrums, and a state budget that has plunged from a huge surplus to a vastly-larger deficit during his first term. If ever an incumbent Democratic Governor in solidly-Democratic California was beatable, Davis is that person.

But unless he changes what he's doing, Simon might very well blow his golden opportunity. I have no idea what kind of governor Simon would make, and I'm not overly optimistic on that score. But we all know what kind of governor Davis has been, and the thought of four more years under him makes a move to some other state increasingly attractive.

Saturday, May 18, 2002


Here's a screen shot of the CBS News story mis-identifying Bush as President in 1998. Of course they've now changed their story, so who's to say it ever really happened? I guess it's just more evidence that the rabble on the Internet need editors like the major news publications have, to avoid putting out inaccurate information. After all, you never see traditional journalists engage in a feeding frenzy to twist facts and puff up non-stories into major scandals, do you? And if they ever did make a mistake, they'd immediately admit it and apologize, wouldn't they? Sure they would -- anything else would be Bush-league.

Friday, May 10, 2002


Movie Review: "Unfaithful" is a stinker!

(WARNING: The review below of the movie "Unfaithful" contains spoilers. Not that there's much that isn't already spoiled.)

Back on April 21st I attended a free screening of "Unfaithful", which is billed as a steamy suspense thriller starring Diane Lane and Richard Gere. Since the movie opens today, I now feel free to reveal my opinion. I'll put it this way: If you have even the slightest inclination to plunk down $8 (or whatever it is in your locality) for a ticket, I recommend that you instead stuff that money into your garbage disposal and grind it up; you'll still come out ahead.

I only wish that the writers had shoved their script into a garbage disposal before the movie was shot. Or, come to think of it, maybe they did.

Here's the gist [SPOILER WARNING REMINDER]: A perfectly happy family lives in suburbia near New York. The middle-aged husband and wife (Gere and Lane) love each other, have an adorable son, both lead active and fulfilling lives, and are financially well off. Then the wife (literally) bumps into an extremely handsome, young French book dealer (played by Olivier Martinez). She is willingly seduced by the young stud (which turns out to be standard operating procedure for him) and soon can't get enough of him. There are lots of graphic sex scenes. She lies to her husband; he suspects and has her followed by a private investigator; he confronts her lover and semi-accidentally kills the guy; he tries to cover it up; the police suspect but can't prove anything; the wife finds out what he did; and in a spasm of conscience he turns himself in to the police.

That's it. There's no real suspense. The plot moves at a glacial pace. The characters do stupid things for no good reasons. Instead of caring about the main characters, you just kind of feel soiled and embarrassed by them, and vaguely apprehensive about what mistakes they'll make next.

Even the sex scenes seem to have the opposite of their intended effect. (It should go without saying that this is not a movie to see if you are the least bit prudish about sex.) There's never even a pretense of justification. The husband appears to be a flawless person, loving and handsome and fun to be with, and someone whom she in turn loves. Nor is her affair a one-time mistake (as in the movie "Fatal Attraction"). She acts like she's addicted to the Frenchman, and he simply makes himself available to her because it would be out of character for him not to.

As the movie dragged on and on, my thoughts soon changed from "What is the point of this?" to "How much longer until it's over?".

Was there anything good in the movie? Well, the 8-year-old son, played by Erik Per Sullivan, was very cute. He was also mostly irrelevant. The main actors did a fairly decent job of acting, given what they had to work with. And the movie trailer was excellent; if that was all I had to go on I might have been fooled into paying cash.

You now have advanced warning. Be wise, and learn from my experience.

Sunday, May 05, 2002


We can argue about this till the cows come home...

Chris Weinkopf has a brilliantly derisive column titled "Moooving debate: Happy cow ads have PETA crying foul" in today's Los Angeles Daily News. If you haven't seen these commercials, in which happy California cows chit-chat about earthquakes and the meaning of "snow" and the esthetic merits of well-built heifers, then you're missing one of the better reasons to watch television. (As a native Wisconsinite who has now lived in California for over three decades, I'm somewhat conflicted by the implied slurs against my birth state. But I'll get over it.)

Naturally PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) thinks these hilarious ads are literally bullshit. ("Contrary to the depictions in the Happy Cows ads, the vast majority of California dairy cows do not live easy lives. They are not typically permitted to roam freely in grass-covered, pastures of rolling hills and shade trees, but are kept on dry lots of urine- and dung-fouled dirt.")

Chris Weinkopf points out that the PETA complaint, in which it asks the Federal Trade Commission for an injunction blocking the ads, seems especially concerned about the effect of the ads on "concientous and compassionate people", since they might "mislead reasonable consumers who care about the way cows are treated". Or as Weinkopf puts it, "The rest of us are discriminating enough to spot an obvious parody. As for PETA supporters, they're more easily duped. They might just be tricked into believing that buying Monterey Jack is a good way to subsidize resort living for a few million of the nation's most privileged cattle."

You'll want to read the entire article, but Weinkopf's conclusion near the end of his column is the creme de la creme:

"The PETAphiles are stampeding for censorship."

I think the PETA folks are going to have a cow over that one.

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