Archive for January, 2004

Fox Reality Show Creators Plumb New Depths

Tuesday, January 13th, 2004

Never having actually watched a reality show, I’m probably not the person to be reporting on this development. But I still found it interesting when Bravo brought the following to my attention: Fox Woos Viewers with ‘Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance’.

The series marks the latest creation from Fox reality TV guru Mike Darnell, the man behind last year’s “Joe Millionaire,” the more recent hit “The Simple Life” and the highly rated but controversial Fox special from the year 2000, “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?”

He said of all the reality programs he’s done, “Fiance” proved the most intense and was “the closest we’ve ever come to not completing a television show.”

“The family’s reaction is more than we ever could have imagined that it would be,” Darnell told Reuters. “It was very difficult for them, and that made it extraordinarily difficult for her. … It’s hysterical.”

I dunno. There’s something just horribly decadent/disgusting-sounding to me about this. It’s like the networks are in some kind of a race to see who can be the first to reach the absolute nadir of human creative output. Today’s Onion article becomes tomorrow’s reality show (and the day-after-tomorrows’ tired ratings bomb).

Truly, the End is Nigh.

Prieur on the Coming Assassination of Howard Dean

Tuesday, January 13th, 2004

From tinfoil-hat leftist Ran Prieur comes this nifty essay: Howard Dean must die (an endorsement). This will be interesting for righties and lefties both, though they’ll have different reasons for finding it so. It’s a two-fer!

Thanks to Adam at Words Mean Things for the link.

Pitt: Bush Knew

Sunday, January 11th, 2004

Nice summing up by William Rivers Pitt of Truthout: Two loud words. An excerpt from his conclusion:

George W. Bush is going to run in 2004 on the idea that his administration is the only one capable of protecting us from another attack like the ones which took place on September 11. Yet the record to date is clear. Not only did they fail in spectacular fashion to deal with those first threats, not only has their reaction caused us to be less safe, not only have they failed to sufficiently bolster our defenses, but they used the aftermath of the attacks to ram through policies they couldn’t have dreamed of achieving on September 10. It is one of the most remarkable turnabouts in American political history: Never before has an administration used so grisly a personal failure to such excellent effect.

The _Real_ Bush Ad I’d Like to See

Thursday, January 8th, 2004

This one starts off sounding like a garden-variety anti-Bush ad, and then, about halfway through, it kicks into another gear entirely. From’s Mark Spittle: Bush in 41.2 seconds.

Warning: Describes Bush accurately. Those who are offended by foul language are encouraged to steer clear, unless they’re Bush supporters. Heh.

Dean (John Dean) on the Latest Plame-Outing Investigation Developments

Thursday, January 8th, 2004

Who better to speculate on what’s going on inside the investigation into the felonious leaking of Valerie Plame’s identity to reporters than John Dean? He has lots of informed speculation about the possiblity of a low- or mid-level White House staffer with knowledge of the leaker’s identity having cut a deal, possibly, leading to the latest flurry of events: Why Did Attorney General Ashcroft Remove Himself From The Valerie Plame Wilson Leak Investigation?

There’s something just so, so, um, something, about John Dean giving expert testimony on the actions and motivations of mid-level executive branch lackeys who have knowledge of illegal actions by higher-ups.

Artists on Acid

Wednesday, January 7th, 2004

ymatt threw this my way. I’m not sure where he found it, but it’s kinda interesting: Acid trip 1.

Drezner Does Britney (In His Dreams)

Tuesday, January 6th, 2004

From actually-able-to-be-stomached conservative blogger Daniel Drezner (see, Adam? they do exist) comes this fascinating item: A very informative post about… Britney Spears.

Club for Growth, Ralph Peters on Dean

Tuesday, January 6th, 2004

The attacks continue to escalate. The Republican “Club for Growth” is preparing an anti-Dean issue ad to be run in Iowa: Conservatives launch TV attack ad on Dean. And Ralph Peters goes to town in a NY Post opinion piece: Howard the coward.

The two attacks offer an interesting study in comparative bullshit. The Club for Growth just flat-out lies about Dean’s alleged raving-leftist pedigree:

In the ad, a farmer says he thinks that “Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading …” before the farmer’s wife then finishes the sentence: “… Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont, where it belongs.”

Peters is a bit more honest, but only in the sense that he begins with some actual Dean statements (basically, all the “gaffes” that have been circulating over the last few weeks) before launching into fantasyland. And he wins points for being the first Dean opponent I’ve seen to officially lose the debate under the terms of Godwin’s Law.

I really am looking forward to this election. It’s going to be a perfect test case of whether or not this country deserves to survive. On the one hand we have an incumbent who is an objective failure in every area, who has amply demonstrated his contempt for everything this country stands for, and who seeks to be reinstalled solely with blatant deception, good visuals, and truckloads of money. On the other hand we have a short, unfriendly Yankee who speaks the truth without much, if any, regard for how the other side will twist his words. He just tells it like it is.

Will we, as an electorate, choose the guy who tells us what we want to hear, even when it’s obvious with almost any degree of analysis that it’s horseshit? Or will we choose the guy who tells the truth, but doesn’t bother to sugarcoat it?

We’re very much going to get the government we deserve here. And if you choose not to vote, you’re going to be missing out on a a great opportunity to help define the kind of country you and your descendents are going to live in.

‘Bush in 30 Seconds’ Finalists Announced

Monday, January 5th, 2004

So, the 15 finalists have been announced in’s contest to create 30-second issue ads about Bush’s presidency: I think my favorites are “Child’s Pay,” “Polygraph,” and “What Are We Teaching Our Children?”

Michael Crichton on Bad Science

Monday, January 5th, 2004

Michael Crichton has always kind of struck me as a pompous dork, an example writ large of “I’m a trained medical doctor, therefore I am qualified to mock the opinions of anyone churlish enough to disagree with me on any subject whatsoever” egotism. But the lecture he recently gave at Caltech is still pretty interesting: Aliens cause global warming.

Krugman Rips Those Ripping Dean

Sunday, January 4th, 2004

A really fabulous piece from Paul Krugman: Who’s Nader now? Seriously, Lieberman and Kerry are pissing me off with this Dean-bashing. Krugman puts it well: “The irony is that by seeking to undermine the election prospects of a man who may well be their party’s nominee, Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Kerry have reminded us of why their once-promising campaigns imploded.”

Helen Thomas’s Memory

Sunday, January 4th, 2004

I wonder how many people with “9/11: Never forget” bumper stickers support the Iraq war as an appropriate response to those attacks. I guess it’s hard to forget something (like who the perpetrators of those attacks actually were) when you never really knew it in the first place.

Anyway, that’s a different issue. In the year-end wrap-up vein, Helen Thomas has a nice column where she lists politicians’ statements from 2003 that voters would do well to remember: Some words better left unuttered.

Rice Resists Testifying About 9/11

Sunday, January 4th, 2004

Scott Forbes at A Yank in Oz tries, and fails, to come up with an acceptable reason why Condoleeza Rice might want to avoid testifying before the 9/11 commission: Secrets and lies.

41 US Iraq War Dead in December

Sunday, January 4th, 2004

December’s US bodycount wasn’t as bad as November’s, merely as bad as the previous awful months. I’ve updated my Iraq-Vietnam comparison graphs accordingly.

Again, I’m getting these figures from the advanced search tool at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund site, and from Lunaville’s page on Iraq coalition casualties. The figures are for the number of US dead per month, without regard to whether the deaths were combat-related.

The first graph shows the first twelve months of the Vietnam war, and the first ten months of the Iraq war. (Click on any image for a larger version.)

Next, the same chart, with the Vietnam numbers extended out to cover the first four years of the war:

Finally, the chart that gives the US death toll for the entire Vietnam war:

Obligatory note: I am not claiming any military significance in this particular comparison. I’m just talking about the wars’ respective political histories. See lengthy discussion in my previous postings here, here, and here.

And for a somewhat more personal look at the human cost of Bush’s failed Iraq policies, check out this page from Faces of valor.