Faster flops? Hollywood meets the Internet

Faster flops? Hollywood meets the Internet

Faster flops? Hollywood meets the Internet

A mostly political Weblog.
July 19 2005 1:41 PM

Faster Flops!

Is Web buzz responsible for Hollywood's rut?

I wrote a book urging Democrats to adopt social equality, rather than income equality, as their underlying goal. But is social equality really such a fundamental value? Isn't it in large part an American affectation? Aren't our brains wired by evolution to make invidious status distinctions? Major doubts arise. Then comes a news item, like the NYT's report explaining Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's popularity in Iran:

On election day, Mr. Ahmadinejad waited with average citizens before casting his vote.

"All through my life I have never seen a presidential candidate standing in a queue like ordinary people," said Seyed Mohammad Shekarabi, 75, who broke into tears when he saw Mr. Ahmadinejad take his place in the line.

P.S.: I'm not trying to spin on Ahmadinejad's deeply troubling victory. And this is just one anecdote. Still, it's evidence of something. ... P.P.S.: Rumors that losing candidate Rafsanjani habitually jumped queues while declaring  "Do you know who I am?" could not be confirmed at press time. ... 8:42 P.M.


Two reporters--Josh Gerstein of the N.Y. Sun and Chicago Sun-Times contributor Thomas Lipscomb-- have been suspiciously pursuing the John Kerry-Form 180 story. Gerstein appears to have reached a dead end now that he's successfully used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain copies of the Form 180  request itself (which releases a "one time " copy to only three reporters). But where's Lipscomb? ... 11:30 A.M.

HRC's Secret Ingredient: Lucianne plugs this Kathleen Parker speculation about Hillary, which gets at something that I, at least, hadn't been able to put my finger on:

What's more concerning about the ever-evolving Hillary Clinton is that no one really knows who she is. In quintessentially Clintonesque fashion, she's whoever you need her to be. Like her husband, she is a master of mirroring - of reflecting back to others a complimentary and complementary image of themselves.

... Obviously, some of this is just politics and common sense. You check the temperature of a room before entering and adjust your shtick accordingly. But with Hillary, there's something more, a something-else that puts people on edge, something they distrust without knowing its name. It is, I think, rage.

10:51 A.M.


Friday, June 24, 2005

How Slow-Moving is GM? According to an auto industry blog, GM is reconsidering its imbecilic, self-abnegating decision not to build a new generation of rear-drive sedans.  Unfortunately, even if this apparent trial balloon floats, the new cars won't come out until 2010. ... Let's see, the successful Chrysler 300 rear drive sedan came out as a 2005 model.  What's a five year time lag these days? It's not as if things are moving faster with computers and everything. GM's taking the long view! ... Suggestion: Use the existing "Sigma" platform (currently underpinning the Cadillac CTS) to cobble-up a quickie rear-driver for, say, 2008. ... [Via Autoblog4:02 P.M.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

LAT's Ron Brownstein on why General Motors' troubles show we need "national action" to control health care costs:

There's no silver bullet for controlling medical costs. The inability of even a massive consumer like GM, with its vast bargaining power, to hold down its bills belies the simplistic suggestions from Bush and conservative thinkers that transferring more of the cost to individuals will significantly reduce costs by making patients smarter consumers. [Emph. added]


Note to Ron: GM is maybe not your best example of the ineffectiveness of "transferring more of the cost to individuals," since GM has not even instituted the obvious deductible and co-pay measures with its hourly workers. The deductible for UAW workers at GM is ... zero.

UAW workers at GM and retirees don't pay monthly premiums or deductibles for health care, but white-collar workers and retirees pay both. GM says union employees pay 7 percent of their health-care costs and white-collar employees 27 percent. ( Chicago Tribune)

Is your health care deductible zero? Mine's $2,000. ... P.S.: The key question, for Brownstein's cost-control argument, is whether the overall health care costs of GM's white collar workers are any lower than the costs for the zero-deductible hourly workers (forgetting, for a moment, the share of those overall costs paid by the workers).In other words, do the white collar deductibles and copayments actually discourage unnecessary doctors' visits, etc.?  Presumably the answer is yes. If so, "Bush and the conservative thinkers" have a point--about GM, at least. ...  3:36 P.M.

Can You Swim Like a Fish in the Sea of the People if the People Have Cell Phones? From Karl Zinsmeister's widely cited (and criticized) sunny counter-MSM take on Iraq:

Your editor returned to Iraq in April and May of 2005 for another embedded period of reporting. I could immediately see improvements compared to my earlier extended tours during 2003 and 2004. The Iraqi security forces, for example, are vastly more competent, and in some cases quite inspiring. Baghdad is now choked with traffic. Cell phones have spread like wildfire. And satellite TV dishes sprout from even the most humble mud hovels in the countryside. [Emph. added]


Zinsmeister may turn out to be right, and I think the press's coverage of Iraq has been overpessimistic. I would just suggest that, in the kind of war we are fighting, the proliferation of cell phones and other means of fast communication may not be an unalloyed good--e.g. if the cells are used to efficiently spy and coordinate bomb attacks and while dishes are used to instantaneously transmit pictures from Abu Ghraib. ... Update: Instapundit disagrees, arguing cells on balance help the anti-terror majority report on unpopular jihadists. He cites a StrategyPage post  addressing this very issue:

While these improved communications have aided the terrorists, it has hurt them more. People reporting terrorists via phones or Internet, often get a very swift response. As more Iraqis die from terrorist attacks, more phone calls are made reporting terrorist activity. There have been cases where terrorist gangs have tried to seize all the cell phones used in a neighborhood where their hideout was. 

2:42 P.M.

Post Hock:The Hitler Rule--kf on Friday, WaPo on Wednesday! ... [You were hardly the first.-ed. Didn't say I was.] 2:02 P.M.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

I don't know much about Michael McConnell, a much-mentioned possible Bush Supreme Court appointment, other than that he persuasively criticized the Court's decision in Bush v. Gore  right after it happened.  McConnell gets big points for that in my book--you might not expect a potential Bush appointment to gratuitously write something honest that would annoy the Bushies. ... Comes now Rick Hasen to suggest several ways in which McConnell might differ from the most likely Court retiree, the equally "conservative" William Rehnquist. McConnell would be more likely to declare gerrymandering unconstitional. Good.  ... He'd be less likely to strike down the Voting Rights Act on federalism grounds. Fine. ... He'd be "more willing than Rehnquist to consider upholding novel campaign finance arrangements." Hmmm. That could be highly troubling if it involved a willingness to suppress "independent" speech. (See also.) But it's not clear that the remedies Hasen cites as endorsed by McConnell--"time limits for spending campaign contributions and a ban on contributions after election day"--would do that. Further study required. ...

Update: Here's what appears to be the relevant McConnell article, reprinted from the WSJ. I'd say he's not guilty of the anti-speech charge, except for two suggestions that are perhaps too creative:

1) A law to "prohibit contributors from giving money to both sides in the same election." This seems relatively trivial. And what if there are three or four sides? What if you change your mind?

2) A proposal

to create a mechanism for anonymous contributions above the ordinary legal limit. If a candidate does not know who made the contribution, then there is no possibility of improper influence. This would also bolster the argument that contribution limits are constitutional. If everyone is free (within certain generous limits) to contribute to the candidate of his choice, then the only question is whether there is a constitutional right to make one's generosity known to the candidate. That is not freedom of speech. [Emphasis added]

It may not be freedom of speech but it's freedom of something. I don't see how the government can get away with prohibiting citizens from honestly disclosing or discussing their political activities. .. .

On the whole, though, McConnell recognizes the main principle:

McCain-Feingold, for example, would make it a crime to run an advertisement stating your views on the candidate within 60 days of the election. Under no coherent reading of the Constitution could it be permissible to prohibit citizens and voluntary associations from attempting to persuade their fellow citizens how to vote. That is the very core of the First Amendment.

McCain-Feingold may actually only apply to corporations, but that's a fine point!

Backfill: Here's a collection  of McConnell's WSJ pieces. ...2:57 P.M.

Is Hollywood's box office a victim of the Faster principle? From the LAT:

"Now at midnight on Friday evening, you're dead or alive," said Lucy Fisher, a producer of the upcoming "Bewitched" and a 30-year veteran of the industry. "However long it took to make the movie, by Friday night, except for Academy[-Award-type] movies, your fate gets cast."

I'm not so sure. Faster dissemination of buzz might kill off bad films quidkly before they can earn more money than they deserve. But shouldn't the news of good films spread more quickly too?  Internet-speed buzz should especially help good films with relatively unknown stars--the sort of films that in recent years didn't "open" well and didn't stand a chance. Now, in theory, those films can open on Friday and, through word-of-Web start pulling in crowds on Saturday. ... I'd say the more likely culprits are a) DVDs (the standard explanation, also discussed by the LAT) and b) the failure of movie-making technology to keep pace with movie dissemination technology and the Internet. That is, if there were a way to make movies faster and cheaper, it wouldn't matter so much if the bad movies got killed off in a week. You could have another movie ready for the next week. ... [via Defamer2:23 P.M. link

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The following June 14 John Kifner report in the NYT now seems somewhat ... overheated, no?

The bright promise of the ''Cedar Revolution'' in this fractious, bloodied country is dissolving in old vendettas and the unsettling re-emergence of a powerful figure, Gen. Michel Aoun.

General Aoun, once the nationalist commander of the Lebanese Army, scored a stunning victory over rivals in the Maronite Christian heartland, according to official results of voting on Sunday that were released late Monday, catapulting himself into political dominance and dealing a crushing blow to the new anti-Syrian opposition.

Not so crushing, it turned out a few days later. ... P.S.: Is Kifner just a) excitable or is he b)determined to undercut Bushian notions about the spread of democracy and favorable shifts in the region?  I think a), since he was somewhat overexcited about the final anti-Syrian victory too. .. 7:10 P.M.

Is Kofi Annan  getting nervous  (about his  vulnerability in the oil-for-food scandal)? ... P.S.: What's better for Bush: Having a new, unpredictable U.N. Secretary-General or having the current, well-known U.N. Secretary General by the balls? It's a no-brainer!. ... 6:28 P.M.

There Are Some Things Boxfish Won't Do: New Gearbox is up. It's just a road test. But the Darwinian  Mercedes Boxfish Car  might interest even non-automotive types. ... 6:22 P.M.

How is Tom Cruise like Trent Lott (and Dan Rather and John Kerry)? They all paid a price for thinking in pre-Internet P.R. terms, ignoring the ability of the Web to keep an iffy or difficult story alive even after traditional MSM convention would say it should die. ... Tom and Katie are deeply and sincerely in love. Unless you have proof otherwise, that's the story and that's what you go with. In 1995.. ... Caveat--Mickey's Assignment Desk: I just saw lots of well-dressed young women going in and out of the Scientology center in D.C.'s DuPont Cirlce. Is it possible that the Cruise-Holmes romance will turn out to have been good for Scientology, in that it's attracting new adherents, even if it's not so good for Holmes' and Cruise's movie careers. ... Assigned to: Any reporter in a major urban area who can get a handle on the Scientology membership stats. ... 6:07 P.M.

Monday, June 20, 2005

C.I.S. : Coll Case The story of Carlos Lazo, the U.S. medic who can't visit his sons in Cuba, would be moving if it weren't such an obvious long-planned propaganda job--U.S. network's cameras just happened to get footage, in Castro's Cuba, of Lazo's worried, telegenic sons. ...  And I'm not convinced that the arrest of suspected anti-Castro terrorist Luis Posada Carilles is a good example of Bush's truckling to Florida anti-Castro forces. They did arrest him, after all. ... But the treatment of Alberto Coll of the U.S. Naval War College (a Bush 41 official-turned-embargo-critic prosecuted for having an affair on an otherwise apparently legal trip to Cuba) seems a geniuine outrage. The Coll case should have gotten many times the coverage of the stagey Lazo Father's Day special. And it has sex! ... 1:11 A.M.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Bolton nomination is already paying dividends, WaPo notes.  ...Moving him from State to the U.N. seems part of a shift that's highly favorable from a Democratic foreign policy perspective. Too bad that the need to posture prevents Dems from admitting this (and the need to pretend that Bolton's being elevated prevents Republicans from admitting it).. ...Maybe Newsweek should start a Kabuki Watch to go with its existing  CW Watch:

Surface story:  Bolton promoted to powerful U.N. post where he'll destroy U.S. relations with allies!

Real Story: Bolton moved out of powerful State job to U.N. post where he can do much less damage!

8:29 P.M.

Further Father Study:  From today's WaPo:

Resarchers at the University of Washington and Columbia University said Friday that child support laws' power to reduce single parenthood is an unintended consequence of a policy designed to help children and cut public welfare costs.

"Often the unintended effects are bad, so it's refreshing to see that," said lead study author Robert Plotnick, a University of Washington professor of public affairs. "Women living in states that do a better job of enforcing child support are less likely to become an unwed mother." [Emphasis added]

Unintended? That's like saying toppling Saddam was an unintended effect of the invasion of Iraq. Of course reducing single-parenthood has been a goal of tough child support laws--and not just on the right. Anti-cad feminists, liberal scholars (like Irwin Garfinkel), centrists (like Bill Clinton) and free-range egomaniacs (the late Sen. Moynihan) all suggested that cracking down on deadbeat absent fathers would encourage them to think twice about becoming absent fathers in the first place. I was skeptical myself, but it will be a good thing if it turns out they were right and I was wrong. ...P.S.: If potential parents can take long-range consequences like the need to pay child support into account, they can take long-range consequences like the need to go to work into account!  One of the arguments against welfare reform (from the left) was that low-income couples in the heat of passion wouldn't think about such things, even though most people with access to birth control succeed in having sex without having unwanted illegitimate children. ...

Update.: I fear the left will use the success of enforcing "child support" as a way to reinstall welfare in the form of "assured child support" checks from the government to single moms (a proposal of Garfinkel's), with the newly-aggressive government assuming the responsibility of getting the child support from the dads. But this latest study--by suggesting that people have fewer unwed children if they know that heavy responsibilities will result from having unwed children--undermines, rather than supports, that idea. If a mother knows the government will "guarantee" child support to an out-of-wedlock child, that makes a bad decision easier--for fathers as well as mothers, I might add. ...

Which raises the possibility that the 1996 welfare reform is what enabled the study's finding that tough child support laws (which were part of the same 1996 law) had an impact. When single mothers know they'll have to go to work to make up any missing child support, they are apt to really go after the absent dads. Similarly, if dads know the moms will have to work to make up the missing money, they are more susceptible to a moral appeal--and they know in advance they'll be susceptible to that appeal. ... Plus they know the moms will really come after them! ... They may shape their behavior accordingly. ... 12:54 P.M.

Friday, June 17, 2005

[S]eeing how Susan Estrich has cancelled her LAT subscription, can someone call her and tell her about the wikitorial? Here's her chance finally to write for the editorial page!

A gratuitously nasty crack. The best kind! In this case, anyway. ... 11:08 P.M.

Kf''s editor and the WSJ's James Taranto were on Kudlow this afternoon-- transcript here. I came unhinged and called Sen. Durbin an "idiot" for his violation of the Hitler Rule,** which holds that a politician must never, ever, compare anything or anyone to Hitler or the Nazis, no matter how apt the comparison. Durbin's comparison was not apt, however. ... Mainly I was worried I'd call him Sen. Durkin. ...

**See also, "Godwin's Law." [Thanks to readers B.T. and J.G.] 10:59 P.M. link

NYT's Raymond Hernandez breathlessly reveals that "Republican and conservative activists are behind a vigorous campaign to promote a controversial new biography about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton." Apparently it's advertised on a Web site that once got some money from Richard Mellon Scaife! The real story--too subtle for a paper that has to  dispatch a correspondent to cover conservatives the way they'd send a foreign correspondent to India--is that the right-wing reception of the new Hillary book has been wary and remarkably hostile. (The New York Post'sDeborah Orin picked up on this yesterday.) See, for example, these Web sites-- Polipundit, Captain's Quarter's, Ankle-Biting Pundits--some of which may have gotten some money from someone who once got money from someone who knows Tom DeLay! ... P.S.: Lucianne Goldberg, who knows about anti-Clinton conspiracies, hasn't been too friendly to the book either. ... P.P.S.: This is a classic Pinch-era NYT story in that it unabashedly assumes its readers are near-cliched New York City liberals. If you weren't ready to be scared and shocked by the latest right-wing outrage, this story would simply make no sense to you: People who are against Hillary are behind a book against Hillary! ... Except in this case maybe they're not ... P.P.P.S.: Printing the predictable story your readers expect to read instead of the intriguing story that's really out there is more or less the definition of "hack," no? ... [But the NYT actively ignored the previous day's Orin piece, which said the opposite and had some GOP quotes to back it up--ed  Good point. That makes the NYT  piece less "hack" and more ... something worse. The GOP congressional delegation could ceremoniously burn the book in the middle of McPherson Square and the NYT would ignore it and write a piece describing the book's insidious promotion by "Republican activists."] 3:07 A.M.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Arnold vs. the Unions: Gov. Schwarzenegger is not dead yet. His three reform initiatives are off to an inauspicious start, but L.A. Weekly's Bill Bradley has a mole who leaked him "a private Democratic poll"  showing that a fourth "paycheck protection" initiative, which could scare public employee unions into cutting a deal, might pass. ... Bradley would apparently like it to be known that his mole was not Paul Maslin. ... He also reports that "Schwarzenegger has said privately for the first time that he will run for re-election." ... P.S.: Is there any distinction between public employee unions and the Democratic Party in California anymore? Just asking! ... Compare and contrast: At the LAT, George Skelton calls for statesmanlike compromise and Michael Hiltzik works himself into the same paroxysm of anti-Arnold rage he worked himself into three weeks ago. Meanwhile, at the alt-Weekly, Bradley delivers the inside goods about what is actually happening. ... Without the MSM, we'd be left with ... the news! ... Update: Is this why the LAT can replace its writers--not with robots, but with something cheaper, namely its customers!  [Maybe it's just that Kinsley's sections are experimenting like mad to counter the tedium of the rest of the paper--ed I agree the wikitorial is impressively seat-of-pantsy and un-Timesian. If only I could rewrite Hiltzik.]   9:11 P.M.

I came across the Iraq article discussed below while noodling around on the impressive new Truth Laid Bear site. I'm not sure there's anything else like it on the Web--it groups blog entries by popularity and by topic ("Iran," "North Korea," "Linda Foley"). All the new MSM "blogwatch" columnists should now have easy jobs. Or else they've just been replaced by a robot. Maybe their editors left a memo on the Xerox machine! ... P.S.:  Is Defamer really this huge? Update: Apparently. ... 4:12 P.M.

The Growing Number of Growing Numbers Comes At a Time When ... : Here's a good example of seemingly overpessimistic media coverage from Iraq. On Sunday, in a story carried on front pages around the country (including in Houston, Philadelphia and Miami),  Knight-Ridder'sTom Lasseter portentously reported:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A growing number of senior American military officers in Iraq have concluded that there is no long-term military solution to an insurgency that has killed thousands of Iraqis and more than 1,300 U.S. troops during the past two years.

Instead, officers say, the only way to end the guerilla war is through Iraqi politics ...

But hasn't it been a staple of Pentagon policy for a long time that the eventual solution in Iraq will not be a military solution but a political one? I remember hearing various American military people saying that a year ago. For a random example I picked up off of NEXIS, here's NPR reporter Eric Westervelt last September:

WESTERVELT: ... I think General Myers has said for a long time and many Pentagon officials and White House officials have said that it can't just be a military solution to the Iraq insurgency. It has to also be a dual-tracked political and economic agenda that tries to bring some political stability to Iraq and economic prosperity and jobs. [Emphasis added]

At about the same time then-Secretary of State Colin Powell said "[i]t's a cycle and it doesn't have a simply political solution or a simply military solution. You have to come up with a political-military-economic solution to the challenge." ...

The now-derided euphoria following the January elections was all about such a political solution, no? [So, how is that political solution working out?--antiwar kf reader Not so bad  today.]
 12:16 P.M.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

It looks as if the aptly-named David Pecker's stewardship of the AMI tabloid empire may be facing a distinct ... absence of success. ... Somewhere two former editors of Premieremagazine are smiling. ... 4:17 P.M.

Sticky Wikiness: How could a McCain third party candidacy overcome the obstacle posed by the Constitution, which says that if no candidate achieves an electoral majority the race is decided by the House of Representatives, currently dominated by the two major parties? Numerous readers offered solutions to this dilemma (originally framed by Walter Dellinger below). But their responses raise as many questions as they answer!  

1. Many readers suggested that a plurality win by McCain could easily translate into an outright electoral college victory, thus avoiding the House entirely. "Clinton won 370 electoral votes with only 43% of the popular vote in 1992," notes reader J.S.  Ah, but this assumes states keep the winner-take-all statutes that govern the distribution of electoral votes in 48 states. "There was ... a lot or popular pressure recently to ditch [these statutes] anyway on principle," says D.P, .who predicts that if McCain threatens to sweep up huge blocs of electoral votes with only a 45% showing we'll see "a lot of high minded posturing from Dems and Reps about ... how we should ... allocate electors on a proportional basis."

2. Suppose McCain wins a mere plurality of electoral votes. "How can he avoid the race going into the House in the first place?," asks D.T., who (along with several other readers) has an answer: "Bargaining in the Electoral College itself." Under this scenario, blue-state Democratic electors--nominally pledged to, say, Hillary Clinton--will switch their votes to McCain rather than throw the race into the GOP-run House and see a more conservative Republican become President. That would be "faithless" of them. Doesn't mean it can't happen. Take it away, Timothy Noah!

3. The same sort of bargaining could occur in the House itself, with lesser-of-two-evils Democrats winning over enough moderate Republicans to take over a majority of state delegations on behalf of McCain. Reader C.S. suggests that during the election McCainiac swing voters would extract a pledge from Congressional candidates that they would support the plurality winner should the race be thrown into the House.

4. Which House would make the decision--the lame duck House elected in 2006 or the new House elected in 2008? Readers come down on both sides of this issue, noting that Jefferson was elected by the lame duck House in 1800, but that since then the 20th Amendment has moved up the date for seating the new House. I've been unable to find an answer to this seemingly simple question, which I thought had been resolved. (Emailing Norman J. Ornstein!) Secondary question: If the answer is given in a statute, couldn't the 2006 House, anticipating a McCain-GOP showdown, change that statute?

Update:  Ornstein says, "The House meets on January 6 to count the electoral votes and settle disputes. The new Congress meets on January 3.  So it is the new House." [Emph. added]

5. Inventive reader S.B. suggests that McCain could "flaunt the electoral college" by naming as his electors the very same people named by the Republican candidate. But wouldn't it be, like, illegal for an elector to be on two slates? If not would electors who got votes on the McCain slate and also on the GOP slate be able to add up those votes to gain victory? If they did, for whom would they vote in the Electoral College? Even Noah's mind reels!

P.S.: Meanwhile,E.J. Dionne spins a McCain/Bush scenario that ABC's  The Note condemns as "a bit in fantasyland."kf to E.J.: When The Note thinks you're crazy, that's when you're adding value! 12:14 P.M. link

Vacuum Detector: Isn't the administration overdue for some fight-back against the growing unpopularity of the Iraq War? Even if the polls overstate this unpopularity, even if they are driven by an overpessimistic media, the legend could easily become fact. ... At the moment the debate is being driven by suicide bombers,  Anthony Shadid and various Republicans cashing in their Strange New Respect by  calling for a withdrawal deadline. ... [This is the CW-ed True. But was it at 12:54?] 12:54 P.M. link

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

"More babies, young kids going hungry in US" That's the headline of an Agence France-Presse story. There's a similar headline on the link in  HuffPo--"More U.S. Kids Going Hungry While 2/3 of Population is Overweight."  But if you read the story all the way through, it turns out that the kids aren't going hungry. They're malnourished, which is not quite the same thing (and not unrelated to obesity):

Some children in the United States occasionally look like the malnourished children we see in some parts of Africa, however, welfare programs targeting society's poorest ensures that problem is generally avoided, the pediatricians say.

Paradoxically, malnutrition is not always due to lack of food -- rather to the quality of the food being consumed.

"People often ask me how many children go to bed hungry. The answer is the parents work very hard so they don't go to bed feeling hungry. The parents try to fill the baby up with french fries and soda pop," said Frank.

In some areas, green vegetables and fruit are impossible to buy -- even in a can, because there may be no supermarket. Moreover, such items are costly. [Emph. added]

"Hunger" is not the right word. But "hunger" is a crude, tried-and-true basis for liberal campaigning, so "hunger" is what gets emphasized.  "Hunger" also neatly directs attention to the standard question of money and away from the touchy issue of parental and cultural foolishness.  Junk food is costly too. ...

P.S.: [What about that survey showing, according to AFP, "In 2003, 11.2 percent of families in the United States experienced hunger, compared with 10.1 percent in 1999, according to most recent official figures."--ed. That's misreported. Those figures in the U.S.D.A. survey measure "food insecurity," not hunger. "Food insecurity" supposedly means that a household had "limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (i.e. without resorting to emergency food supplies ...)." Food bank food doesn't count! "Many food-insecure households were worried or unsure whether they would be able to get enough to eat, and most reduced the quality, variety, and desirability of their diets."  I added the italics to make the point that you don't even have to reduce the variety or "desirability" of your diet to qualify as "food insecure."  The number of children who actually skipped meals in 2003 was .4 percent, according to the survey--down from .6 percent in 2000.

P.P.S.: [Aren't liberals smart to talk in shorthand about "hunger," instead of about junk food and bad nutrition?--ed. I say no. Like talking about "kids," talking about "hunger" scores well in polls but avoids the complicated reality of poverty. Antipoverty activists defended the welfare system for decades by talking about "kids" and ignoring the problem of subsidizing single-motherhood. What all that "kids" talk got them was welfare reform and a GOP Congress. I think focusing deceptively on "hunger" is a similarly misguided strategy, even on liberals' own terms (i.e., the truth would encourage more government antipoverty expenditures).  1:34 A.M.  link


Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--He reports! And decides!  Wonkette--Makes Jack Shafer feel guilty.  Salon--Survives! kf gloating on hold. Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! David Corn--Trustworthy reporting from the left.  Washington Monthly--Includes Charlie Peters' proto-blog. the drink. Virginia Postrel--Friend of the future! Peggy Noonan--Gold in every column. Matt Miller--Savvy rad-centrism. WaPo--Waking from post-Bradlee snooze. Calmer Times--Registration required.  NY Observer--Read it before the good writers are all hired away. New Republic--Left on welfare, right on warfare!  Jim Pinkerton--Quality ideas come from quantity ideas. Tom Tomorrow--Everyone's favorite leftish cartoonists' blog.  Ann "Too Far" Coulter--Sometimes it's just far enough. Bull Moose--National Greatness Central. John Ellis--Forget that Florida business! The cuz knows politics, and he has, ah, sources. "The Note"--How the pros start their day. Romenesko--O.K. they actually start it here. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--Money Liberal Central.. Steve Chapman--Ornery-but-lovable libertarian. Rich Galen--Sophisticated GOP insider. Man Without Qualities--Seems to know a lot about white collar crime. Hmmm. horror stories. Eugene Volokh--Smart, packin' prof, and not Instapundit! Eve Tushnet--Queer, Catholic, conservative and not Andrew Sullivan! WSJ's Best of the Web--James Taranto's excellent obsessions. Walter Shapiro--Politics and (don't laugh) neoliberal humor! Eric Alterman--Born to blog. Joe Conason--Bush-bashing, free most days. Lloyd Grove--Don't let him write about you. Arianna--A hybrid vehicle. populists. Take on the News--TomPaine's blog.  B-Log--Blog of spirituality!  Hit & Run--Reason gone wild! Daniel Weintraub--Beeblogger and Davis Recall Central. Eduwonk--You'll never have to read another mind-numbing education story again. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. [More tk]