Monday, January 31, 2005

Picture of the Day! Who is the HoJo of the 109th Congress?

I was cleaning out the bureau in my room and I stumbled across my beloved copy of the November, 1989 Baseball Digest: Baseball's Only Monthly Magazine. What a masterpiece. 1) Hojo, one of my all-time favorite Mets and an honored member of the 30-30 club, is on the cover, 2) you can see a blurry Keith Hernandez in the background, and 3) all three headlines are amazing.

If only there was a monthly politics magazine with headlines half as good as "Up-the-Middle Defense: An Overlooked Pennant Factor." Then it would be easier for people to get excited about politics. Picture "The D.C. Digest" with Education Secretary Margaret Spellings on the cover pointing an angry finger at Buster Baxter, PBS's pro-lesbian cartoon rabbit, while a blurry Orrin Hatch stands in the dugout with a Keith Hernandez-style mustache. Meanwhile, spicy minor headlines pepper the rest of the cover, like "10 Classic Philabusters You May Have Overlooked" and "Omnibusted! How to Monitor Oversized Legislative Bills."

If anyone can guess 7 of the 15 most dramatic (pre-1989) home runs in big league history I'll send you all of my back issues of Stereo Review or my ALF sleeping bag, your pick.

Factoid of the Day! Welcome to France, Can I Take Your Order?

The president of France, Jacque Chirac, used to work at a Howard Johnson Restaurant in Boston. I would love to see a chart of which world leaders, both current and historical, have worked at a menial job.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

GRE Words of the Day! Mendacious, Pusillanimous, Penurious, Mettle, and Consonant

I just took a GRE practice test and these are the words I didn't know. If you click on the word to the left of the colon it will take you to the definition; if you click on the word in the sentence it will take you to a picture I found by typing the word into google image search.

mendacious: It would seem that the good people at find Bill Clinton to be mendacious.

pusillanimous: On the other hand, the folks at find Bush to be pusillanimous when it comes to dealing with corporations.

penurious: Nevertheless, John Franco has them both beat when it comes to being penurious about giving up hits.

mettle: Artist Richard Krause has them all beat, displaying mettle in his paintings and his puns.

consonant: But despite their differences, Bush, Clinton, Franco, and Krause are all part of the flow of the universe, just as in this zen painting chaos is consonant with form.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Brian Lamb Interviews George Bush! / The Old Country Buffet Era

What a banner day in the world of C-SPAN fandom! Bush was interviewed by Brian Lamb for Q & A, C-SPAN's Sunday night interview show, but you can already watch it online if you just can't wait.

If you are looking for insights into the complex political genius of George Bush, this interview won't really do much for you. But, if you are fascinated by the way Bush has somehow been able to charm 51% of Americans into voting for him, despite his obvious incompetence when it comes to talking intelligently about political issues, this interview is for you.

Juxtaposed with Brian Lamb's serious manner and love of books, Bush comes off as goofy and inarticulate as ever. With each passing question he looks more and more like Dennis the Menace being grilled by Mr. Wilson.

At one point Lamb asks Bush what he watches when he watches television. Bush says "I really don't watch much TV...Of course C-SPAN, what am I thinking?" Look at his gesture here when he says that (sorry no audio):

That "I'm such an idiot" gesture is right out of Chris Farley's playbook. Can you imagine any other president in our history doing that? And who would have thought that someone with that kind of schtick could ever be a viable presidential candidate?

(from the Chris Farley Picture Gallery

While liberals may hate to admit it, Bush's cluelessness has a certain charm about it and that's a large part of why he beat John Kerry. Smart people act like they know everything, and they say all kinds of confusing things; between the arrogance and the fancy words, people don't know what to believe. Bush, on the other hand, acts like he barely knows anything, and like it or not, that inspires people to trust him. People tend to trust what they can understand.

In sum, when the nation is evenly split on political issues (like it is now) charm is the deciding factor. Therefore, I believe we have entered the era of the "Old Country Buffet" President. (If you've never been to Old Country Buffett, think Sizzler but not so fancy.) The question, "Which candidate would you rather have a beer with?" is outdated; Bush doesn't even drink.

When you ask yourself, "Which candidate would you rather go to Old Country Buffet with?" I think you have a pretty good guage of who will win the presidency. Take a look:

Who would you/the American people rather go to Old Country Buffet with?

04 Bush Kerry..........Answer: Bush
00 Bush Gore...........Answer: Bush
96 Clinton Dole........Answer: Clinton
92 Clinton Bush........Answer: Clinton
88 Bush Dukakis.......Answer: Bush
84 Reagan Mondale...Answer: Reagan?
80 Reagan Carter.......Answer: Reagan
76 Carter Ford...........Answer: Carter
72 Nixon McGovern...Answer: ??

I think it works all the way back to 1976, but I don't know anything about the dynamic of Nixon vs. McGovern so I won't even hazard a guess. Also, I don't know what Mondale was like so I'm just assuming that Reagan out Old Country Buffeted him because I imagine that Reagan could outcharm almost anyone. But when you look at the last four elections, that's when you are really getting into the meaty part of the Old Country Buffet Era. Bush and Clinton both possess an unmistakable "down home charm" charm that made all four of their opponents look relatively stiff and uptight.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Picture of the Day: "Hello Sears? I Need Something Somber, Yet Comfortable"

The Washington Post blew the lid off this story about Dick Cheney wearing his "snow blower" clothes to the Auschwitz Memorial. But that's just how Cheney operates, it's nothing personal. "Business casual" is his middle name. Remember last year when he wore his Buffalo Bills Zubaz pants to a cabinet meeting?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

An Excellent Anonymous Comment

Yesterday's post about the levity during Bush's press conference drew this response...


The President's attitude is indicative of this whole war - most of us have no connection to it (we don't have any soldiers in our family or circle of friends). Pres. Bush may mourn the lives lost today, but he has no personal attachment to these soldiers.


I think that's such a poignant statement, especially because it points out that "most of us" are in the same boat as Bush, forgetful of the seriousness of the warbecause we don't have any close ties to the people losing their lives. And the blame goes both ways. Bush is able to get away with treating this war lightly because American citizens don't hold his feet to the fire and tell him to stop kidding around. Conversely, Americans take this war less seriously than they should because the whole Bush administration approach is to act like everything is going perfectly.

But let's face it, this whole war was a giant mistake. The reasons that led us to start it turned out to be false. And now that we're there we're having a pretty rough time. That's not to say we aren't making progress, but more Americans are dying than anyone expected, so it's fair to say things are rough.

To which Bush says: "The world is a safer place without Saddam Hussein in power." But that isn't the question! There are hundreds of leaders in the world that put the security of the US at risk, from Prime Ministers to Warlords to Priests. The real question is: Was taking out this particlar leader a task worthy of 1400+ lives? And the answer to that is no. You have to think, what would the American people have said if that's how this whole thing was presented to them at the beginning. "Are you willing to have 1400 soldiers die in order to take out Saddam Hussein?"

And that is why Bush has decided to change the central goal of his administration from a practical one to an idealistic one, from American security to freedom.

Before Bush's inauguration speech, those soldiers had died because of a questionable policy decision. But according to the new agenda they died for "freedom," which is a lot easier for Americans to swallow.

But Bush knows he can't put the "freedom" of citizens around the world ahead of American security, so he says that American security depends on freedom around the world. Which is hogwash.

American security depends on preventing nuclear weapons from getting into the wrong hands, and that means that America will have to win the cooperation of some shady leaders and tyrannical regimes (like Iran and North Korea), not overthrow them. But talking about negotiating with tyrannical regimes doesn't make you feel all warm and fuzzy the way talking about freedom and liberty does.

Just to play devils advocate, it is possible that our invasion of Iraq has given us more leverage in negotiating with Iran and North Korea. I don't know enough about foreign relations to comment on that, but I'll allow that it's possible.

Still, these conclusions remain firm:

1) Even if the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein in power, that does not mean that Bush made the "right decision." It just means things may work out despite his mistake. If I'm a quarterback and I throw an interception, and then the guy who intercepted the pass fumbles, and then my team recovers and runs for a touchdown, that doesn't mean I might the "right decision" when I passed the ball.

2) The idea of freeing the world from tyranny is ridiculous. Bush's job is to keep Americans safe; sometimes that may mean overthrowing a tyrant, sometimes that may mean negotiating with one.

3) Bush needs to wipe that smirk off his face. Save the antics for Air Force One and the golf course.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Picture of the Day: Ground Control to Major Tom

A picture from the C-SPAN web page this morning, where I was watching streaming video of Bush's press conference...

1/26/05 Bush Press Conference: 5 chuckles, 5 laughters, 2 laughs, and 1 scattered laughter

I was dismayed by the light-hearted tone of this conference, given the fact that at least 36 American soldiers have died in the last 24 hours, more than any other day of the war. And despite this, Bush was cracking one-liners and ribbing the White House Press Corps like he always does. It just doesn't seem appropriate today.

So you can get a sense of what I mean, here are excerpts from the transcript of President Bush's news conference (as recorded by Federal News Service Inc.). I cut and pasted every line where there was chuckling or laughter:

"...I don't know the facts -- (chuckles)."

"Q (Laughs.)"

"PRESIDENT BUSH: (Chuckles.)"

"PRESIDENT BUSH: Is that your question? The answer is no. Next? (Laughter.)"

"PRESIDENT BUSH: (Chuckles.)"

"Q (Chuckles.)"

"Q He, sir. (Scattered laughter.)"

"PRESIDENT BUSH: He. Excuse me. Should have done the background check. (Laughter.)"

"PRESIDENT BUSH: (Chuckles.)"

"PRESIDENT BUSH: (Laughs.) Glad to have you here. (Laughter.)"

"PRESIDENT BUSH: Acting like one, however. Go ahead. (Laughter.)"

"PRESIDENT BUSH: Faulty memory. (Laughter.)"

And I'm not saying that Bush is evil or doesn't care about what happened today, I'm just saying that my ideal president would not be cracking jokes during a press conference on a day like today. And don't get me wrong, I appreciate Bush's desire to convey a sense of optimism. But what Americans needed from their leader today was a serious, somber optimimism; what they got was a jokey, nonchalant optimism. Even Bush's specific reference to the helicopter crash was cursory at best: "I know that it's being investigated by the Defense Department. Obviously, any time we lose life, it is a sad moment."

I think it's time for Bush put away the whole 'locker room banter' approach to press conferences.

In fact, the locker room analagy isn't even a fair one. Think about the last athlete you saw at a press conference after a tough game. The chances are pretty good that they were taking those reporters and their questions more seriously than Bush appears to take the White House Press Corps. It's pretty ridiculous when you think about it... Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers is giving articulate and sincere answers to questions about his interceptions, meanwhile our President is shrugging off questions about Foreign Relations and Social Security like he's dealing with hecklers at the Comedy Cellar.

We are at war. Americans and Iraqi soldiers are dying every day. Is it too much to ask for a President who looks like he's taking things pretty damn seriously?

(On a brighter note, Bush did have a good line about immigration: "I want to remind people that family values do not stop at the Rio Grande River. People are coming to our country to do jobs that Americans won't do, to be able to feed their families.")

The press conference will be on again at 8 pm EST on C-SPAN.

Bob Novak Calls Bush's Inaugural Speech "Lunatic"

Fresh from the CNN transcript department:

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, did the president's address set an effective agenda for his second term?

BOB NOVAK, CAPITAL GANG: Well, not really, because the thing he's going to be dealing with on a day-to-day business, domestic policy, he just took care of in one paragraph. This was a very different kind of inaugural address. Usually, the inaugural is treated like a drama critic. You know, was the style good? Did -- was it inspirational? People on this one were saying, Well, what was he talking about? Did he really mean what he said, that we are going to eliminate tyranny from the face of the world? We're going to go all over Africa. We're going to go to our friends in Pakistan, in China, and -- and get them to be democrats? Well, that would be lunatic! We don't have the power. We don't have the authority.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Picture of the Day: Bush's Inaugural Address

I streamed Bush's speech over the internet today from the White House web site today, and something just seemed different about him. Finally I realized, call me crazy, maybe it's the fuzziness of the image quality, maybe I haven't been getting enough sleep lately, but I could swear that it looks like he's wearing some sort of bike helmet...

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Good Speech by Joe Biden

I thought Joe Biden's closing remarks today at Dr. Rice's confirmation today were really good. I like Biden because he can be harshly critical without being confrontational, a skill that Barbara Boxer and John Kerry don't seem to have mastered yet. Biden can list a million things that someone did wrong, and even get all riled up, but he never seems to take any of it too personally.

I suppose I can understand the anger on the part of Kerry and Boxer, it is true that Rice has played a major role in some pretty terrible debacles, but still, I just question the political expediency of the whole 'witch hunt' approach to confirmation hearings. Why alienate yourself from the next Secretary of State before she has even unpacked her office supplies?

Anyway, since Biden's speech was so good I put it up on my site as an mp3. It's about 15 minutes long and it covers a lot of ground, from Iraq to neoconservatives to the plummeting dollar, with a lengthy football metaphor that even mentions the 'nickel defence.' And it's all delivered in Joe's patented "get your head in the game, kiddo" tone of voice. What's not to love?

(Also, just so you have a frame of reference, he refers a lot to how the Bush administration has been consistently overrepresenting the number of "trained" Iragi security forced there are. Rice says it's around 120,000; Biden says he's been to Iraq 3 times and talked to military people who say it's around 4,000.)

(note: it takes a while for the track to download after you click the links, but it will work eventually)

To listen to the speech click here.

And if listening to a 15 minute speech sounds too boring for you, I also made a version of the speech with lively music in the background.

update: For people looking for a more melancholy version of the Biden speech, I just added an Adagio for Strings version. Big ups Samuel Barber.

Monday, January 17, 2005

"Simone Weil": article by Susan Sontag

click picture for Susan Sontag's web site

This article was pretty interesting. It's from the first issue of the New York Review of Books, from 1963, and it's the first thing I've ever read by Susan Sontag. Definitely a little over-intellectual, and I know should expect that from the New York Review of Books, but still, this sentence almost made me vomit:

"In this sense, all truth is superficial; and some (but not all) distortions of the truth, some (but not all) insanity, some (but not all) unhealthiness, some (but not all) denials of life are truth-giving, sanity-producing, health-creating, and life-enhancing."

On the whole, though, I think she made some really good points. Her main point is that society tends to revere writers that have a bit of insanity in their prose ("It is mostly a matter of tone: it is hardly possible to give credence to ideas uttered in the impersonal tones of sanity.") From there she goes on to talk about how no one actually wants to live out the ideas of these writers, it just makes for good reading.

And then this line reminds me of the whole issue about how Bush's campaign rhetoric was basically a fairy tale:

"An idea which is a distortion may have a greater intellectual thrust than the truth; it may better serve the needs of the spirit, which vary."

I think that is a better way to look at how the election played out. Liberal people just want to say that half of the country is stupid, but that is just pointless whining. The truth is that Bush's image and message, however misleading, gave people something they were looking for in their lives. Millions of people have a very visceral love for him, and find his speaking problems endearing, his manner sincere, and his talk about freedom inspiring. To discredit the people who voted for him as merely "stupid" is to imply that it's not even worth investigating their motives. It's far better to say, "These are millions of good, hard-working people who sincerely believed that George Bush would be a better leader for their country. What did he do for them that Kerry didn't? What 'needs of the spirit' did the Bush campaign satisfy that the Kerry campaign didn't?"

good words from the article:
philistine: indifferent or hostile to art and culture
tendentious: biased
exegetical: related to explaining a text

"How Bush Really Won": an article by Mark Danner in NYRB

click picture for Mark Danner's web site

Since I'm studying for the GRE I decided to start reading The New York Review of Books more to try and pick up good words.

This article had three good words: contradistinction, shillyshallyer, and legerdemain. Contradistinction means what it sounds like, to define something in terms of how it contrasts with something else. A shillyshallyer is someone who waffles or procrastinates. Legerdemain means sleight of hand, an artful deception (from Old French leger de main, literally "light of hand").

The article gives a simple and convincing explanation for how Bush was able to pull off a victory with so many things going against him. This quote sums it all up:

"the facts did not matter... because [President Bush] was offering in their place a worldview that was whole, complete, comprehensible, and thus impermeable to statements of fact that clearly contradicted it."

In other words...

Bush's sales pitch is this: I'm a simple man who wants Americans to be safe and the world to be free, and I'll do whatever I gotta do in order to make it happen.

Kerry's sales pitch was centered on a litany of facts about the failings of Bush's presidency.

The problem is that complex information, however true, isn't as compelling as a simple storyline. Facts about Bush's mistakes don't put a dent in his fairy tale sales pitch because that song and dance isn't dependent on facts in the first place.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Wilco's Jeff Tweedy Gets Wall Street Journalized

I love Wall Street Journal etchings, and this one is a real gem...

New Senator of the Day: Tom Coburn (R - Oklahoma)

Tom Coburn was born in Casper, Wyoming in 1948. He was a manufacturing manager from 1970 to 1978 at Coburn Opticals in Virginia. Later, he attended and graduated from the University of Oklahoma Medical School, starting a family medicine and obstetrics practice in 1988. From 1994 to 2000 Coburn served three terms in Congress as a Representative for Oklahoma's 2nd Congressional District, garnering a reputation as a "conservative firebrand."


From an AP article on Coburn:

'On the death penalty, he said: "I favor the death penalty for abortionists and other people who take life."

He said he performed two abortions to save the lives of mothers who had congenital heart disease, but opposes the procedure in cases of rape.

"Under the mores we live under today, my lineage wouldn't exist," Coburn said, explaining that his great-grandmother was raped by a territorial sheriff.'


This is Coburn talking at a town hall meeting in Hugo, Oklahoma, from August '04:

"You know, Josh Burkeen is our rep down here in the southeast area. He lives in Colgate and travels out of Atoka. He was telling me lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they'll only let one girl go to the bathroom. Now think about it. Think about that issue. How is it that that's happened to us?"

click to hear audio of that quote (courtesy of atrios)


"My desire is not to be a U.S. senator. My desire is to change the Senate." Tom Coburn

Monday, January 10, 2005

Song of the Day: Savage Minuet

I took some clips of Michael Savage (conservative radio host) talking about the Indian Ocean Tsunami and put them to music (Dark Jazz, by DJ Cam). Click on the picture of him to listen...

(That really is a painting of Michael "Savage" from 1983. His real name is Michael Weiner and he used to hang out with Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti and write books about herbal remedies and planting trees. This article at tells the whole story.)

Companies that Advertise at Michael Savage's Web Site:

NewsMaxStore: 561-686-1165
Ionic Zone Air Cleaner: 1-866-526-1986
Swiss America Trading : 1-800-BUY-COIN

••• today's post is sponsored by Los Angeles Laundry Delivery & Pickup, now doing laundry delivery to USC and UCLA •••

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Gonzo's Attorney General Confirmation Hearing

Alberto Gonzales is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

I think Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is scary. He would be great for playing a hit man in a Quentin Tarantino. Orrin "The Cleaner" Hatch. Catchy.

Now Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass) is chewing out Gonzales. He's really getting angry. This doesn't seem like the right setting for angry yelling like this. Especially because Gonzales has such a mild and likable demeanor, in my opinion at least. Just when you think you're sitting down to watch a friendly Attorney General confirmation hearing Ted Kennedy has to fly off the handle. Thanks Ted.

Now Sen. Joe Biden (D-Delaware) is up to bat. He's getting excited but he's reprimanding Gonzales in a more friendly way. He just used the word "malarkey." Points for that. And now this, "I love ya but you're not showing candor so far..."

It's funny because this whole hearing is like a bunch of fathers talking to a kid who just broke a lamp (i.e. Abu Ghraib). The Republicans (Orrin Hatch) are like, "Hey you're a good kid, and you know what, that lamp was bound to break sooner or later. Your mom left it on the edge of the table and it was ugly anyway. From now on when you're playing wiffle ball in the living room try to hit to the opposite field."

Ted Kennedy is the father who just loses it. "What the heck were you thinking playing wiffle ball in the living room!? And don't lie to me and say that your friend Rico did it. Where's my belt?"

Joe Biden is the father who's upset but keeps a good attitude. He's disappointed, he gives the kid a slap on the wrist, but then ends with a pep talk about doing the right thing in the future. "You know you shouldn't have done that... Come on kid you're better than that! We live two blocks from a little league field, just walk over there and play a little ball, my boy!"

Now Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina): "I think you weaken yourself as a country when you try to play cute with the law and become more like your enemy, instead of becoming more like how you want to be." (That's what he really said, that's not a continuation of the wiffle metaphor.) He's breaking the mold and being pretty critical of the Gonzales/Bush approach to torture. Gonzales just threw back an impotent refutation of Graham's point: "I respectfully disagree, we are not like our enemy at all." To which Graham just teed off: "We are not like our enemy; compared to Saddam Hussain, what we did was a good day. But we are not being like who we want to be."

Graham's approach is remarkably like Biden's, basically, "I like ya kid, but you screwed up."

So far, my opinion of Ted Kennedy has gone way down and my opinion of Lindsey Graham has gone way up.

Now Russ Feingold is up. This is a calm reprimand without anger or affection. "You screwed up kid. I'm going to Steak 'N Shake, see you in 30."

Kennedy's going nuts again.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Picture of the Day: I Can't Believe I Agree With This Guy

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, says Bush should cancel his 9 inaugural balls and 3 "candelit dinners" and instead donate the 40 million dollars to tsunami relief efforts.

That is something that would really show the world that the United States cares about being part of the global community. This story is making news all over the world. It's in the Khaleej Times Online in the United Arab Emirates, and it appeared in the New Straits Times in Malaysia (but their link doesn't work anymore).

I would love Bush so much if he did this. Just once, why can't he do something that everyone would like?

Friday, January 07, 2005

Washington Journal 1/7/05 / Amazon Reviewer of the Day

On Washington Journal this morning T.R. Reid was talking about his new book, The United States Of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremecy.

The book looks interesting, but C.J. White (volney30656), an Amazon reviewer from Georgia, gave it one star (I WAS IN EUROPE RECENTLY, November 22, 2004). I am always a big fan of reviews in all capital letters, but C.J. isn't caps all the way- there is method to his madness. Some reviews are in lowercase, and at least one even switches from lowercase to all caps in the middle of a sentence (INTERESTING READ, October 2, 2004).


Photo of the Day: Karl Rove and Barack Obama, Together at Last

I didn't photoshop this or do anything funny to it, I just think it's a striking image.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Polarization of Television / Goodbye Crossfire

On Vaughn Ververs' update this morning on Washington Journal he talked about how CNN President Jon Klein is putting the kibosh on the show Crossfire. This is from Howard Kurtz's article on the matter:

"CNN/U.S. President Jonathan Klein sided yesterday with comedian Jon Stewart, who used a "Crossfire" appearance last fall to rip the program as partisan hackery. 'I think he made a good point about the noise level of these types of shows, which does nothing to illuminate the issues of the day,' Klein said in an interview. Viewers need 'useful' information in a dangerous world, he said, 'and a bunch of guys screaming at each other simply doesn't accomplish that.'"

But the fact of the matter is that Crossfire just wasn't getting good enough ratings, because other channels are doing the screaming louder and better. This parallels the whole change in daytime talk shows that occurred when the Jerry Springer show broke on the scene. Shows like Oprah couldn't compete with that kind of absurdity so they actually had to go in the other direction, towards a more sensitive, self-help oriented style of television.

So in a way, that could be Fox News' gift to the world, doing over-the-top partisan hackery better than anyone else, thereby forcing other stations to give up on that format and put on more sensible programming.

But that seems like a scary direction to me, because then the argumentative side of television is just going to focus even more on drama and less on substance. Then you will end up with a whole population of people getting their information from shows with almost no connection to reality. At least Crossfire was half-debate, half-professional wrestling.

And the polarization of television news could lead to the polarization of television viewers, which is something that we already kind of have. I mean, take a person who watches Fox News a couple hours a day and a person who watches C-SPAN a couple hours a day. Are those people even going to be talking the same language? Is there even going to be enough common ground for them to reasonably discuss the issues that America faces?

In a lot of ways, a conservative and a liberal that both watch C-SPAN probably have more in common than a conservative that watches C-SPAN and a conservative that watches Fox News.

I wonder what democracy would be like if everyone was well-informed.

Another thought: I am resigned to the fact that people screaming on television will tend to draw more viewers than people not screaming. I don't think CNN should abandon screaming as a format, I think they should just make the screaming more intelligent. Screaming and intelligence are not mutually exclusive. Imagine a boring biology teacher and one who is always screaming; while you will certainly be more entertained by the screaming bio teacher, it is quite possible that you could also learn more biology from him too.

What about a show where two pundits square off in a dramatic debate, yelling as much as they want, but then at the conclusion of the argument a panel of professors judge their performance, based on their logic and their use of facts. It would be just like a boxing match, where each round was scored based on how many blows were actually landed.

Yeah, that's a show I would watch! Because then you have the excitement of the confrontation added to the final consensus of experts in the field. Plus, as people watch the show more and more they will start to learn how to actually judge the merits of an argument. Someone please make this show. "Mental Boxing: Louder AND Smarter." Everyone would watch it. You could have a "winner stays on" approach where every day someone new gets a shot at the title. You could have "tag team" matches. You could have an "internet sidekick" who looks up facts for you while you're arguing. What's not to love? It would be the "Iron Chef" of political debate shows!