Where's Teresa? The Kerry campaign seems to have successfully put a lid on her, no? ... P.S.:kf demands more reporting on what the Note calls the "dissension" in the "wobbling" Kerry campaign. What kf hears--i.e. this is the rumor, not necessarily the truth--is that Kerry aides Shrum and Cahill are being blamed for the slow reaction to the Swifties. The candidate, it's said, wanted to fight back but was restrained. (How odd if Kerry ended up blaming his staff!) Underlying the anti-Shrumism is the dissatisfaction of some Kerry advisers with from the "battleground" strategy of peeling off a few key Bush states rather than attempting a big, general shift of public opinion. ... P.S.: The Note is on to something when it suggests that the story this week could be on the Kerry side of the campaign, not the Bush side. ... P.P.S.: But I dissent from the Note's suggestion that those now-dead "Dump Cheney" rumors were an obsession of "conspiracy-minded Democrats." I've heard of the plots from too many Republican sources. The logic was simple: With Cheney on the ticket, it's a contest. With McCain on the ticket, it isn't. ... 6:46 P.M.
If President Bush were to tell the Swift Boat Veterans, "Those are great ads. Please run more of them," he'd immediately be accused by the Kerry campaign (and maybe the Federal Elections Commission) of illegal "coordination" with an allegedly independent political group. ... Now suppose Bush did what Kerry and David Broder want him to do and told the Swifties "Those are terrible ads. I call on you to stop running them." Why isn't that also illegal coordination? Coordination involves telling someone when to start and also when to stop, no? [I'm indebted to alert kf reader S.K. for this point.] ...
Does this mean Broder's idea that
candidates ought to be judged by their willingness to tell their supporters when they have crossed the line
is untenable, because it in effects asks the candidates to start coordinating illegally? I'd like to think not--the only way to allow free speech by independent citizens while limiting the role of big money in politics seems to be to preserve some rule against "coordination" of the independent citizens by the official, regulated campaigns. But it will probably have to be a rule loose enough to allow candidates to publicly approve or condemn particular independent ads--in other words, loose enough to allow some de facto, long distance coordination. The hope, I suppose, is that it will always be clumsy, imprecise coordination, because the candidates still wouldn't control who shows what ads initially--and even in public the candidates couldn't get too specific (e.g., "I like that ad but I'd pull it from the Denver market and run it in Orlando instead"). ... 12:06 A.M.
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Return to Abnormalcy: Just when it seemed as if Bush, not Kerry, might become the calming "return to normalcy" candidate, he goes and gets quoted in Time saying "I'm the guy making history." In context it's undoubtedly far less boastful than that sounds--but still ... Voters may think, 'We've had enough history for a while, Mr. President. We're still having trouble digesting the history we thought we'd already made.' ... 11:12 P.M.
Saturday, August 28, 2004
Road Trip Report, 8/04--Drive-by journalism in its purest form: Kausfiles drives from L.A. to New York so you don't have to! Executive Summary of major findings:
It's getting smaller: I started late and still spent only three nights on the road, one less than usual. I'm not sure why. I didn't go illegally fast. True, they've improved the roads and raised the speed limits to 70 or 75 across the plains.
Crappiest Interstate Experience: Missouri, the perennial winner. Choppy, narrow highway flanked by tacky commerical billboards. Some of them--e.g. "Got Bra Problems?" or "Yucko's Poop Scoop Service"--may have been subtle, NEA-funded performance art.
Distressing evidence of the Coarsening of American Culture I: Even big Interstate highways are no longer decent, family-friendly places, thanks to the proliferation of giant lighted signs advertising the "Adult" and "XXX" bookstores along the side of the road in several Heartland states. "Mom, what does three X-es mean?"
Distressing evidence of the Coarsening of American Culture II: Country music, traditionally thought to be on the right-wing side of the culture war, has begun to incorporate hip hop elements--or, rather, to self-consciously and somewhat pathetically ape the corrosive, materialistic playa' machismo of the imagined ghetto while pretending to maintain an adversarial stance. Sample lyric from "Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy", currently #11 on Billboard's Country chart:
Well I don't give a dang about nothing
I'm singing and Bling-Blanging
While the girls are drinking
Long necks down!
And I wouldn't trade ol' Leroy
or my Chevrolet for your Escalade ... [snip]
I'm a thorough-bred
that's what she said
in the back of my truck bed
Please. ... I guess it all comes down to which General Motors SUV you drive, and whether you show off the bling-bling or the bling-blang. (How did Anne Kornblut miss that?)
It's a lousy song too.
Strangest architectural encounter: A prison along I-70 in Greenville, Illinois featuring all the cheap, hack post-modern cues now associated with upscale shopping centers--red and beige brick stripings, triangular pediments, etc. It looked like a Best Buy surrounded by barbed wire--Bed, Shower & Beyond.
Favorite exit name: Little Point.
Kansas in August is not as corny as you'd think!
Bill O'Reilly Award for Least Convincing Claim of Persecution by Snobs: To John Michael Montgomery, whose otherwise effective country hit "Letters From Home," told in the voice of a U.S. soldier in Iraq who's received a letter from his parents, contains these lines:
I hold it up and show my buddies,
Like we ain't scared and our boots ain't muddy, and they all laugh,
Like there's something funny bout' the way I talk,
When I say: "Mama sends her best y'all."
Hello? Aren't Southerners a plurality of the U.S. Army? Isn't it shot through with Southern military culture? I don't think they make fun of people who say "y'all"!
Most Disappointing Sign: Any of the ones around Colby, Kansas advertising "Post Rock Country." After 1000 miles of heavy metal, oldies and Nashville schlock, I was ready for post rock country. But the signs were only publicizing a form of stone once used to make fenceposts.
Best music station: Tie between KRCC in Colorado Springs ("Late Evening Freeform") and WOUB in Athens, Ohio ("Crossing Boundaries"). Both were much better, music-wise, than L.A.'s vaunted KCRW--perhaps because they are less influenced by record-industry people.
Trend I most need explained to me: Airsoft guns. They shoot plastic pellets, not BBs, right? Who buys them? Adults? Children? What damage can they do? Are they somehow an artifact of gun control laws? Don't the people who use them risk getting shot by cops who think they are regular guns? Instapundit will know ...
P.S.: Rob Long, who claims to have also driven across the country, nevertheless says he doesn't know who Lee Ann Womack is. I guess he didn't listen to my mix CD after all. ... Update: Long now claims in an email that he listened to the CD "somewhere in the watery border between Missouri and Kansas." ...
TODAY IN SLATE
Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem
Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology.
I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore
And schools are getting worried.
Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War
Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough
So they added a little self-immolation.
The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola
The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.