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20 December 1999

Bernie Capax: No. Please no. Not after all this time. I mean, a stupid accident!
But I did okay, didn't I? I mean I got, what, fifteen thousand years. That's pretty good, isn't it? I lived a pretty long time.

Death: You lived what anybody gets, Bernie. You got a lifetime.
No more. No less. You got a lifetime.
-- Sandman: Brief Lives, chapter 3 by Neil Gaiman, Jill Thompson and Vince Locke

Q (Desmond Llewelyn), 1914-1999. Killed in a car crash. Sad.

Okay, here's what I want from the Web, and I haven't found it yet: a clearinghouse site that stores all the transcripts of major political campaign events such as debates, town halls and round-tables.

At the very least, I want a central place to go where you get links to all the transcripts that are available on the web, even if they aren't mirrored at the site proper. The problem with this approach is that you are trusting the news sites to keep their transcripts in place permanently; their record for doing so is mixed at best, even in the short term.

I expect that as we get closer to the election the debates will attract more attention and thus get more prominent links on their home sites. Still, the current debates do matter in determining who goes to the big ones later.

Maybe in January I'll try to pull together something comprehensive if I can't find a good resource out there. In the meantime, below are a few such links.

Republican debate #3 -- December 13, Des Moines, Iowa:
MSNBC has finally posted a transcript of their debate, though of course it uses their ever-inscrutable naming scheme.

Republican debate #2 -- December 6, Phoenix, Arizona:
After trial, error, trial, error and finally abject despair when attempting to locate it through their search facility, I twiddled my way to the (unlinked-from-anywhere) list of December 6's transcripts and finally found it. The funny thing is, CNN posts transcripts galore of its own talking heads analyzing the debate:,, etc., etc., but they didn't call attention to the actual debate's transcript in any place I looked.

Republican debate #1 -- December 2, somewhere in New Hampshire: (incomplete, broken multipage article; now only pgs. 1 and 4 actually contain transcripts!)
Apparently FOX News has redesigned their site minus the frames (and plus some MSNBC-esque decoration), which has the bonus side effect of making it possible to link directly to a story there without immediately being bumped to the front page if you have JavaScript on. Good.

Democratic debate-wise, here's yesterday's Gore-Bradley dustup from Meet the Press:

[Emphases are mine...]
VICE PRES. GORE: Let's debate twice a week from now until the nomination is decided and just go face to face about the issues and get rid of all these television and radio commercials. Why not do that?
MR. BRADLEY: You know something, for 10 months that I was running for president, you ignored me. You pretended I didn't exist. Suddenly I start to do better, and you want to debate every day. It's ridiculous. We're having debates. We had a debate the other night in New Hampshire. We're on MEET THE PRESS today. We're going to be in Iowa and New Hampshire the first week of January. The point is, Al -- and I don't know if you get this -- but a political campaign is not just a performance for people, which is what this is. But it is, rather, a dialogue...
VICE PRES. GORE: That's not what I'm doing.
MR. BRADLEY: ...with people, Al. It's a dialogue with people where you listen to their stories, where you listen to what they have to say about their country's future, where you seek to engage them and convince them that the direction that you want to take the country is the right way. That's what a campaign's about.

[after Gore tries to get Bradley to shake hands on doing more debates instead of running any TV commercials]:
MR. BRADLEY: And that was a very interesting ploy on MEET THE PRESS.
VICE PRES. GORE: Look, I'm ready to agree right now.
MR. BRADLEY: It was nothing but a ploy.
VICE PRES. GORE: Debates aren't ploys.
MR. BRADLEY: No, to come here, shake my hand, that's nothing but a ploy.

Bill Bradley: meta-campaigner.

Regarding Friday night's Bradley-Gore debate at Dartmouth, the excerpts at the bottom of are the best I could find today; I expect a full transcript to be up soon.

I haven't looked into the earlier Democratic debates yet; that's a project for when I have more time.

So, a question for any law-savvy folk: are these transcripts reproducible? Could I copy their text and mirror them on this site? It would seem to me there's a Public Interest argument for key pieces of the political process being freely distributable -- I think of it as a set of public facts on record that one could report, like a baseball score, rather than original content that is copyrightable by the network.

If that's not right, if the networks' transcripts are not publicly usable, could one get around the copyright issues by making one's own transcript rather than taking what the network has done? In the case of the FOX transcript (Republican debate #1) that would be a necessity anyway, since at least one of Gary Bauer's answers where he claims a supposedly-dramatic rise in the number of child-porn Internet sites was completely missing from the transcript, even before pages 2 and 3 went away. Odd!

I have a feeling that even posting one's own transcripts wouldn't be permitted; if that's the case, though, then there's no easily-located permanent public record. Does anyone out there have an informed opinion on this? Talk to me.

Why is the announcement of TIME Magazine's Person of the Year considered so newsworthy? CNN put it in the first screenful of its website and talked it up in their TV coverage.

Oh, right: CNN and TIME are business partners.

But that doesn't explain why everybody else is bothering to cover it. It's just an artificial "event", manufactured to sell magazines. Why do so many other non-TIME-affiliated media outlets cooperate? Do they honestly think TIME has such amazing insight?

You know, I've gotten more e-mails on my chalupa-ad comments than on almost anything I've ever written on this site. What does that say about my audience?! Eek. (...conveniently ignoring that I'm responsible for bringing it up in the first place, of course...)

In response to Brad's Dec. 19 entry suggesting other meanings we could assign to the phrase: mm, I think there are already plenty of other expressions for what you want to repurpose "drop the chalupa" for... :)

I would view it as more of a "Let the wookie win" sort of comment. For example, when stuck in an ugly argument where there's clearly no hope of communicating reasonably any more, you could say that sometimes it's best to just drop the chalupa and walk away...

P.S. "Cool Ranch Soda" was borrowed from a background throwaway gag on The Simpsons; it was an item available in bulk sizes at a Springfield 33-cent (or was it 66-cent?) store.

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