Monday, May 24, 2004

With friends like these, the Kerry Campaign doesn't need money

Weekly Standard | Michael Moore and Me
A FEW YEARS AGO Michael Moore, who's now promoting an anti-President Bush movie entitled Fahrenheit 9/11, announced he'd gotten the goods on me, indeed hung me out to dry on my own words. It was in his first bestselling book, Stupid White Men. Moore wrote he'd once been "forced" to listen to my comments on a TV chat show, The McLaughlin Group. I had whined "on and on about the sorry state of American education," Moore said, and wound up by bellowing: "These kids don't even know what The Iliad and The Odyssey are!"

Moore's interest was piqued, so the next day he said he called me. "Fred," he quoted himself as saying, "tell me what The Iliad and The Odyssey are." I started "hemming and hawing," Moore wrote. And then I said, according to Moore: "Well, they're . . . uh . . . you know . . . uh . . . okay, fine, you got me--I don't know what they're about. Happy now?" He'd smoked me out as a fraud, or maybe worse.

The only problem is none of this is true. It never happened. Moore is a liar. He made it up. It's a fabrication on two levels. One, I've never met Moore or even talked to him on the phone. And, two, I read both The Iliad and The Odyssey in my first year at the University of Virginia.
I don't know why anyone would be surprised by this. The only way to make the world look that simple, black or white, left or right, is to lie about it.

Which is not to say that Moore doesn't deserve the Palme d'Or. It doesn't mean he's right... but the fact that he's wrong makes him no less a skilled filmmaker.
I have just the person to look into Moore's lies and distortions. Al Franken has taken special interest in public liars, writing a bestseller called Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. Al, the Moore case is now in your court.
Yeah, that'll happen. Michael Moore is a Big Fat Idiot. I'll look for that on the bestseller lists by Christmas.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Game the system

Yahoo (Chicago Tribune) | Kerry may delay nomination
Sen. John Kerry's campaign disclosed Friday it was mulling the extraordinary step of delaying by at least a month the Massachusetts Democrat's acceptance of his party's presidential nomination, a move meant to keep President Bush from enjoying a fundraising advantage.

...His campaign is considering the delay because of a disadvantage having to do with the scheduling of the political conventions this year and federal campaign financing laws.

Those laws require candidates opting for public financing of their general election campaigns to receive their money from the U.S. Treasury after their party's nominating convention.

For Kerry, that means he would be eligible for $75 million in public financing following the Democratic Convention in Boston, scheduled July 26-29.

The Republican convention in New York is to take place five weeks later, from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, after which Bush would get his $75 million in taxpayer money.

The Democrats are worried because the Kerry campaign would have to make its public dollars last five weeks longer than the president's campaign would.

In addition, the Bush campaign could keep spending the large sums it has raised from private contributors up through the GOP convention. As of the end of April, the Bush campaign had raised a record $201 million.

The Kerry campaign, for its part, has had unexpected success in raising campaign funds from private contributors. By April's end, it had raised $117 million. So it would prefer to raise and spend such contributions as long as it legally can.
That would be unique, for the presumptive nominee not to show up at his party's convention. I guess there's nothing in the rules that forbid that.

The Democrats will just have to reschedule their convention to the same weekend as the Republicans. They might as well: Their guest of honor won't be there. I mean, really, does this inconvenience anybody? It's not like conflicting schedules or venues are a problem: They're in different cities, and none of the same people will be attending both, unless you count reporters.

On the other hand, the Democrats have now laid the groundwork to spend the next four years whining again about how President Bush wasn't elected. "He didn't win the presidency, he bought it."

LATER: It occurs to me that the Bush campaign can ignore the deadline, refuse the $75 million in federal campaign funds, and still be able to outspend the Kerry campaign. Perhaps the Democrats' best tactic is to find a way to shame the Bush campaign into doing just that, in the interest of "levelling the playing field".

The Democrats are going to severely tick off the press if their nominee doesn't intend to accept the nomination--unless that means the convention then gets to pick another nominee that will. Now that would be interesting.

LATER YET: I'm reminded that Dennis Kucinich is still running...

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

A prank? No! Do you think?

Yahoo (AP) | Porn Switched With School's Announcement
CHAMBLEE, Ga. - Some Chamblee High School students expecting to see the usual morning announcements instead glimpsed a hard-core prank Tuesday morning.

School administrators were trying to determine who swapped a pornographic videotape for the school announcements tape, sending the images out to several classrooms.

"Our children in our news class do a tape each morning of the Chamblee morning news, and they bring it to the media center, and our media center specialist puts it into the machine," said assistant principal Becky Chambers.

Before the program is broadcast, the media specialist leaves the media center and goes to the main office, to turn on an audio feed to two or three places in the high school that do not have closed-circuit televisions, Chambers said.

"In the seconds that it took her to walk out of her office and head up the hall, some student — we don't know who — took the tape out of the machine and inserted a very inappropriate tape," Chambers said.

"A couple of the classrooms — fortunately not all of them had it on — got a very inappropriate feed for a matter of some seconds before a teacher could fly up here and alert us and we could fly back down the hall and pull the tape out," she said.

One parent who complained characterized the tape as hard-core pornography, but Chambers said she didn't view the tape and couldn't confirm its contents. Administrators were watching security camera tapes to try to determine who made the switch.

Chambers said that with this being the last week of school, a senior prank "would be my best guess at this point."
Do you think they're trying too hard to convince the reporter that hardly anybody saw it anyway? I never saw people so determined to put distance between themselves and what happened.

Only a couple of the teachers bothered to have the morning announcement feed on?

The individual teachers have the capacity to turn off the morning announcements? No classroom I've ever been in had a switch on the speaker.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Where I've been

Those of you who know me in the Real World know (or can guess) some of it. Sick child, sick me, work deadlines, unpaid writing deadlines, the rush of school-related activities before the end of the semester, like that. I'm fine, though, and so is the family.

Friday, May 07, 2004

And this is news...how?

This is too easy.
The Independent | Moore accused of publicity stunt over Disney 'ban'
Less than 24 hours after accusing the Walt Disney Company of pulling the plug on his latest documentary in a blatant attempt at political censorship, the rabble-rousing film-maker Michael Moore has admitted he knew a year ago that Disney had no intention of distributing it.

The admission, during an interview with CNN, undermined Moore's claim that Disney was trying to sabotage the US release of Fahrenheit 911 just days before its world premiere at the Cannes film festival.

Instead, it lent credence to a growing suspicion that Moore was manufacturing a controversy to help publicise the film, a full-bore attack on the Bush administration and its handling of national security since the attacks of 11 September 2001.
Of all the people in this world who do not need to manufacture controversy...
Moore told CNN that Disney had "signed a contract to distribute this [film]" but got cold feet. But Disney executives insists there was never any contract. And a source close to Miramax said that the only deal there was for financing, not for distribution.
Read the fine print, Mike.
A front-page news piece in The New York Times was followed yesterday by an editorial denouncing Disney for censorship and denial of Moore's right to free expression.
Sigh. Memo to the New York Times: As much as the Disney company may wish it otherwise, Disney is not the government. Moore's failure to sell his product to Michael Eisner does not constitute "censorship". Even if Eisner did make his decision for political reasons.

Miramax paid to make the film: no "plug" has been pulled. I don't doubt someone will make an offer to distribute it.

Mark your calendars

Anime News Network | My Neighbor Totoro, Nausicaa, Porco Rosso Release Announcement
Walt Disney Home Entertainment and Studio Ghibli proudly present three animated masterpieces from Hayao Miyazaki, the genius filmmaker of “Spirited Away,” the Academy Award? winner for the Best Animated Feature Film of 2002. MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, NAUSICAƄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND and PORCO ROSSO will each be available for the first time on a 2-disc DVD on August 31. These remarkable films each include a brand-new, stellar English language voice cast and on DVD also feature the original Japanese language track; complete storyboards; featurettes that go behind the microphone and more, presented in a pristine digital picture for the best possible viewing experience. With a unique blend of entertaining storytelling, imagination, compelling characters and stunning artistry, each of these magical and mystical worlds will enchant and delight audiences of all ages.
Porco Rosso is the one that will blow you away.

The press release lists some of the cast, but not who's reading what. IMDB to the rescue. Michael Keaton is Porco Rosso, the Italian aviator who has "resigned from the human race" and become, literally, a pig. (Jean Reno did the French-language release: If only they'd got him for this one.) Susan Egan (Megara in Disney's "Hercules", Lin in "Spirited Away") is Gina, the woman who loves Porco, if he'd only let her. Cary Elwes ("The Princess Bride", "Robin Hood: Men in Tights", "Liar Liar") is Curtis, the rival American pilot who also has eyes for Gina. David Ogden Stiers is Grandpa Piccolo, who owns the shop where Porco's plane is repaired after his first run-in with Curtis.

But then, the disc will also include the original Japanese with English subtitles, so if you don't like this cast you don't have to listen to them. You'll want to see this either way.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Interesting use of the word "launch"

I had no idea it meant "buy."
CNN Money | Al Gore launches cable TV network
Former U.S. vice president Al Gore announced Tuesday that he and entrepreneur Joel Hyatt plan to launch their own cable television network by buying cable television channel NewsWorld International from Vivendi Universal for an undisclosed sum.

Gore is expected to be the chairman of the NWI board, while Hyatt will be running the company as the new cable network's chief executive officer, the company said.

... Newsworld International is a 24-hour channel broadcasting international news produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC). It is distributed to about 17 million subscriber homes.

The programming on NWI will continue to be provided by CBC.
Al Gore and Joel Hyatt. There's a match made in heaven. Not a gnat's eyelash of charisma between them.

So, the programming won't change, only the ownership will. This reminds me of George Carlin's riff on an incurable disease with no known symptoms.

First Tab, then Diet Coke, now C2

RedNova | Coke and Pepsi to Face Off in Carb Battle
Coke and Pepsi, trying to put more fizz into their soda sales, are about to launch new brands that taste like their flagship drinks but contain half the sugar, carbs and calories.

... The new sodas are targeted at people who don't like the calories in regular colas but are dissatisfied with diet versions.

... The new drinks contain the standard high-fructose corn syrup that sweetens regular soda but in smaller amounts. The corn syrup is supplemented with Splenda, a no-calorie, no-carbohydrate sweetener made from sugar.
Yes, but will it come in de-caf?

LATER: Perhaps I should explain that Splenda is the Dreaded Purple iced tea and cereal sweetener of choice, and has been for almost two years now, and yes, a particular traumatic medical event had a lot to do with that. I can also recommend Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate, whose sugar-free product is sweetened with Splenda. (Sponsorship deals open to negotiation.)