Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Al, Bill, and Molly

I finally watched the CSPAN coverage of the book expo featuring Franken, O’Reilly, and Ivins, and I can genuinely say that the reports of its high entertainment value are not exaggerations. Franken did go long, but as he put it in response to O’Reilly’s complaining, “I went long because I was getting some laughs” (he was). Sans producer and mute button, O’Reilly’s level of discourse devolved to “Shut up! Just shut up!”, “This guy’s an idiot”, and “we can have a bagel”. I guess that if Franken were from Mexico or parts south, O’Reilly would have invited him over to swim a river. Or perhaps if Franken were black, O’Reilly would have invited him over to steal some hubcaps. The acrimony was actually greater than I anticipated. Franken was also great in a digression on Ann Coulter.

More substantively, Franken and Ivins are both really entertaining and I think either one could draw a nice talk radio audience, because they combine insight with humor. I wouldn’t want them making policy; both a bit too left and too anti-corporate for me. But neither one is “out there”, either. They would be great for exciting the proverbial base, yet entertaining enough to draw from outside the NPR audience.

AB

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New Links

I’m discovering some pretty neat tools in my effort to gizmo up the blog. First, given that maps of blogs are popular lately, take a look at who is in my blog neighborhood. Continuing with the theme of me being a Republican, InstaPundit is one of my nearest neighbors! The others are all fairly reasonable: Talking Points Memo, MaxSpeaks, Rittenhouse, Eschaton, and a few I haven’t seen but plan to take a look at. On balance, I’m keeping pretty good company, although CalPundit, Yglesias, Barlow, and a some other bloggers who I’d gladly have a beer with are not in my blog-neighborhood.

Also, I found a few glaring ommissions in my blogroll. Please welcome the following additions:

Body and Soul
Nathan Newman
Neal Pollack
Samizdata.net
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
South Knox Bubba
Thinking It Through

AB

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BlogRolling

My links are now powered by Blogrolling.com, which means a few things: 1) The order has moved around–in particular, alphabetizing is by the first letter of the word, so for example, Matt Yglesias is under ‘M’, not ‘Y’. 2) I may have inadvertently deleted someone from the list, so if this happened please email me. Coming soon: an Angry Bear RSS feed.

AB

UPDATE: I think I’ve successfully added the RSS feed.

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I’m a Republican!

In this post, Kevin Drum talks about some of the problems the Democratic Party is having with its outdated database systems, concluding that

Like it or not, big, modern, centralized voter databases and marketing operations are the lifeblood of politics today.

But apparently there are some glitches in the Republican Party’s database too. In my mail today, I received this from RNC Chairman Marc Racicot:

Dear Fellow Republican

You are among a select group of Republicans who have been chosen to take part in the official Census of the Republican Party…

…your answers will represent the views and opinions of all Republican voters living in your voting district

…should the government be arable to continue discriminating against faith-based organizations?

…won’t you also enclose a contribution of $500, $250, $100, $50, or even $25 to the Republican National Committee.

Later, I’ll post a few of the questions. In the meantime, here’s one:

Do you think U.S. troops should have to serve under United Nations’ commanders?

Now the only question is whether I fill it out and send it in (without a check, of course). If I do send it in, should I fill it out with all extreme rightist answers, in an effort to push the GOP further away from the political center? Or should I confuse them and do my best to supply the answer Noam Chomsky would give?

AB

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The Daily Show

You really should watch it. It’s funnier than watching Fox News, and it doesn’t make you want to throw stuff. From Thursday’s show, here’s Lewis Black on the latest upward-skewed tax cuts:

“Trickle Down Economics…Before we called it Trickle Down Economics, we called it Voodoo Economics, and before that we just called it Screwing the Oakies

That sounds about right.TM

AB

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NYT Editors Out

I’ll give Raines credit for this:

“It’s been a tumultuous month, 20 months, but we have produced some memorable newspapers.” [emphasis mine]

Memorable! Not quality, excellent,outstanding, nor even just good. Now if they’d just take reporters Gerth and Bruni with them, and make sure Lelyveld really is only the “interim” executive editor then the grey lady might get back some of what she’s lost over the last ten years.

AB

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Where’s he Been?

Back in the day, a comment from Sen. John McCain seemed like a mandatory part of every policy news story. But I haven’t heard a peep from him in a while. He voted for the latest tax cut debt increase package, but had no widely publicized comments. In any event, he’s apparently decided that media consolidation is too important to be decided on a 3-2 vote by the FCC, without Congressional input or approval:

“I have a long voting record in support of deregulation. But the business of media ownership, which can have such an immense effect on the nature and quality of our democracy, is too important to be dealt with so categorically [by a small group of regulators.].”

In general, I’m a fan of deregulation, particularly in markets where barriers to entry are not overwhelming (look what deregulation did for airline ticket prices and your long distance bill). But the mass media business does seem to have barriers to entry; as it stands, Viacom, Disney, AOL/Time-Warner, and NewsCorp probably produce around 70% of the content you see on cable. Newpaper ownership is also highly concentrated. So there is significant potential risk of further consolidation and the exercise of market power once the new rules are in effect. An issue this big really should be under the purview of Congress, rather than an appointed commission. Of course, even if the new rules do take effect, media consolidation will still be subject to review by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. On the one hand, that didn’t do much to stop Clear Channel from assembling a radio empire (there were some negotiated spin-offs), but the Department of Justice did recently block the merger of Echostar and DirectTV.

AB

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Milestone

If you will look to your left and scroll down, you should see a number above 20,000. Whoohoo! But that’s page views, not unique visitors. On a typical day, page views are about 1.3 times unique visitors, so unique visitors will hit 20,000 by the end of the month, sooner if I get a few more big links. This is only slightly below expectations: based on the projections from the early days of this blog, the entire population of the earth should have viewed this blog by 3/14/2003.

AB

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What Cave Does Will Rasberry Live in?

See yesterday’s IncomparableTM Daily Howler for a good laugh as Washington Post Columnist William Rasberry calls outspoken lefty Arianna Huffington “an outspoken conservative”. Only it’s not funny, because it’s an example, albeit a particularly egregious one, of the laziness typical of lefties writing in the major OP-ED pages. And does anybody who knows anything about politics proofread these things?

AB

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