Sunday, August 24, 2003

I know, I know, Hollywood is infested with uber-liberal drones. But, you see, most of these people are incredibly talented, and I enjoy their work. The problem is, every time I hear one of them open their mouths to utter an insipid, ill-informed, knee-jerk commie commentary on America's state of affairs, I can't help but lose a little respect for them. The more they speak, them harder it is for me to take them seriously, despite their talents. It's like watching a Roman Polanski movie without acknowledging his proclivity for prepubescent anal sex.

Take Janeane Garofalo, for instance. She's one of the few female comedians who actually made me laugh. Now, she just makes me angry. During her ubiquitous talking head appearances on cable TV, Comrade Garofalo has been merciless, spewing forth absurd conspiracy theories about evil Republicans usurping freedom and democracy across the globe. If her comments were at least funny, and delivered with her trademark sardonic wit, I could take her vitriolic attacks with a grain of salt. Alas, I cannot. She's morphed into a shrill, humorless dolt. Her comedic talents are forever tainted for me.

I hope Tom Hanks doesn't follow suit. I like Tom. Besides being a great actor, he really won me over during a couple of his quirky Letterman appearances. He shared with Dave his views on musical theatre (hates it, doesn't understand why people are singing and dancing for no reason) and taking baths (doesn't like sitting in a tepid pool of his own filth). Both of these banalities are issues with which I'm in total agreement. Up until now, however, I've ignored the liberal thing in Tom's regard. He's Hollywood royalty, of course he's a liberal.

That blissful ignorance might be sullied in the coming weeks, though. The NY Post is reporting that Hanks is leading a quiet Tinseltown revolt against Arnold Schwarzenegger's candidacy for Governor. The reason? Well, frankly, he's running as a...gasp...Republican. Say it ain't so, Forrest!

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Here's a blistering attack on Arianna Huffington from Susan Estrich, Dukakis's presidential campaign manager. If you can get past Susan's poor composition (Geez, who gave this woman a syndicated column?), you'll be treated to a succinct argument against Arianna for Governor: she's a shameless, hypocritical interloper, and a bad mother to boot. I don't know about that last part, but I think Susan has the rest of it about right.

Friday, August 15, 2003

I'm still scratching my head over this one. Gubernatorial candidate Schwarzenegger is considering Rob Lowe (no, that's not a typo) for an "as yet undefined senior campaign position".

Ok, ok, maybe I'm being a tad cynical. Maybe Rob Lowe is qualified for this position just because he played a senior political advisor on TV. Maybe fictional political experience is an adequate substitute for actual "real world" qualifications in the Bizarro World of Hollywood after all. Call me crazy, but I thought hiring a guy who was caught taping his sexual escapades with a 14 year old girl (while attending the '88 Democratic Convention, no less) might be a liability. Am I wrong, or does Bizarro World logic apply to that sort of thing too?

What was that? Canada devoid of firm leadership during a State of Emergency? You don't say...

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Arianna Huffington, the ex-conservative commentator/political spouse who morphed into a liberal, “progressivist” harpie after her bitter divorce, released her tax returns today as she embarks on her California gubernatorial campaign. Huffington’s message on the stump is the same one she’s been touting in her latest book, “Pigs at the Trough”: corporate crooks are exploiting tax loopholes at the expense of tax-paying, working families. In a classic turnabout, according to her tax returns, Ms. Huffington hasn’t paid any federal taxes in the past two years, and has paid only a pittance in state taxes, thanks to losses incurred by her publishing company.

The LA Times is painting this story as a classic case of tax dodge hypocrisy, but I’m thinking this angle is a stretch. What she’s done with her publishing company is perfectly ethical and legal. The real story of her tax returns isn’t what little she’s paid in taxes, but what little she knows about running a successful commercial enterprise. Racking up over $2.67 million in losses over the past several years, Huffington clearly needs a refresher in Business 101.

The returns also conjure up an interesting question. If she’s accumulated so much in losses, how is she able to maintain a large Brentwood home and a lifestyle that is not exactly typical of the average “working families” she claims to champion? According to the article, Huffington receives substantial child support payments from her ex-husband, all of which is tax-free. She claims that none of the money is being funneled to her company, but it’s clear she's lying. A company doesn’t go millions in the red and avoid bankruptcy without a source of external financing.

How would Arianna tackle California's rampaging deficits as Governor? So far, she hasn’t said much. “I'm a working woman,” Huffington has said in response to the LA Times’ questions, claiming that her business world dabbling would serve her well in Sacramento (maybe that statement would have more clout if she wasn’t being pampered by a steady stream of cash from the ex). For all we know, her solution might be to have her husband cover the gap with a gigantic court ordered alimony payment. If I were Michael Huffington, I’d immediately move all of my assets offshore and flee for parts unknown.

A curious footnote to the Times article caught my attention, as well. Among Huffington’s charitable donations are several contributions to the “Church of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness”, headed by a John-Roger. (The hyphen is his addition, not mine. I’m assuming this is a first name, though I'm not entirely sure.) According to Mr. John-Roger, his pseudo-religion espouses “Soul Transcendence, which is becoming aware of yourself as a Soul and as one with God, not as a theory but as a living reality." Huffington has apparently taken this spiritual gibberish to heart, as she is becoming aware of herself as the Governor.

Will Californians make this spoiled, lying, incompetent crackpot’s theory a living reality? I doubt it, though I’m sure this campaign will certainly help her market her upcoming book. Hopefully, Ms. Huffington will be able to turn a profit with this one. Then she can pay some taxes for once, and stand proudly amongst her “average working class” minions.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Why is Al Sharpton not considered a serious candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination? Because the media is racist, or so he says.

Does this mean Gary Coleman's campaign in California is stillborn? (see below)

Arnold has entered the California gubernatorial race. I can just imagine the campaign slogan: "What you talkin' 'bout, Davis?".

Come on, Todd Bridges. You're next!

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Here’s some analysis from the Census Bureau, via an article in USA Today. The Bureau says that people have been migrating out of New York and California over the past several years in significant numbers. This "discovery" is hardly surprising. What is noteworthy is the way the article’s author subtly frames the context of the analysis. The piece names several probable causes for the exodus, citing urban congestion, local economic stagnation, and rising real estate prices. These are all contributory factors to be sure, but not once does the article raise the issue of NY’s and California’s punishing tax regimes as a plausible explanation for the outflow. Given that the analysis shows a large number of those leaving the high tax states are settling in low tax jurisdictions (the California to Nevada example is explicitly highlighted in the article), one would assume that relative tax differentials between states are an obvious factor in the relocaton decision process. Unless, of course, the author is of the fervent belief that lower taxes should not be promoted in any context, even in a supposedly objective news article. It leads me to wonder where the author's political sensitivities lie. Hmm…

Normally, the charge of bias in such a benign case of blatant omission would be overkill, but something else in the article gave me pause, and confirmed my suspicions that such bias did indeed play a part in the final draft. Here’s a key sentence discussing the political implications of the migration pattern:

Many of the people leaving California, for example, are conservative white voters who have helped transform politics in the Rocky Mountain West from a competitive two-party environment to one that is heavily Republican.

Do you see the subtle jab there? Maybe not, because the subtlety lies in a telling omission; a balanced article would have also mentioned that California, as a result of the migration pattern, has also been transformed from a competitive two-party environment to one that is heavily Democratic. To accept this paragraph at face value, one would naturally assume that Republicans are encroaching like locusts across the Rockies and the prairie states, squeezing the helpless doe-eyed Democrats into extinction. Ok, maybe I’m taking poetic license here, but the implication of the omission is still the same: Republicans are shifting the balance of power and corrupting the sanctity of competitive democracy. If anyone truly believes that, I urge them to spend a few months living in San Fran. Maybe the fact that all of California’s highest elected officers, US Senators, and a plurality of mayors, state legislators and congressmen are Democrats would change the impression that the Democratic Party is dying a slow death.

Liberal media bias comes in many forms. Some of it is over-the-top and quite ridiculous even to a casual viewer. Most of the time, though, bias is applied lightly, with opinions and omissions gently massaged into the news reporting process, like this USA Today article. This form of bias is far more insidious, and otherwise respectable news organizations need to be called on it. Bernie Goldberg and the good folks at the Media Research Center can only do so much. Active and conscientious consumers of the mainstream news outlets should demand better.