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14 February 2000

A great many problems do not have accurate answers, but do have approximate answers, from which sensible decisions can be made.
-- one of Berkeley's Laws

First things first: This Friday and Saturday (2/18, 2/19) you can see the lung-busting a cappella festival known as Jammin' Toast at Edison Theatre on Washington University's campus (St. Louis, MO). My old group the Wash U Pikers are the hosts, the Wash U Greenleafs will also be appearing, and two great groups from out of town will be there. If there were a web page with info I would link to it, but alas.

Tickets are $6 for WU students, $8 for the public. Call 314-935-6543 (Edison Theatre) for more info. It's always a packed house, so don't delay.

Rumor volat, or Are you ready for some candy?: According to the latest 'incontrovertible' rumors, Apple's finally bringing out some new hardware Wednesday at Macworld Tokyo. The feels-overdue-even-if-it-isn't new PowerBook should show up, plus who knows what else. The latest rumors are at AppleInsider.

Lacking the instinct for avoiding 'broken-record'-dom, here I go again with the presidential race:

  • The case against John McCain [Salon]
    [The] analysis mostly comes down to this: Conservatives are dorks, and liberals are cool. McCain is a cool guy, therefore he must be a liberal. Nobody like him would try to turn back the clock on, say, abortion rights, would he? But of course he would. ... Of 86 votes on abortion rights issues, he voted the so-called pro-life line 82 times, according to the National Abortion Rights Action League.

    Though he's been called "moderate" on social issues, he opposes many gay-rights measures. His environmental record is weak. And while he may offer straight talk about adultery, he's had a forked tongue on key policy issues.

McCain first caught my attention when the Comedy Central correspondents descended on him at an event and he clearly had a ball with them, eagerly posing for pictures with them, calling them "you scamps", and so on. Here's a guy in his 60s who can hold his own with the quick, hip/square/twisted/goofy ironysmiths of the Daily Show? No way!

The Salon writer's right: as an independent voter I really don't like many of the things he stands for policy-wise... but he is truly the coolest guy in the race. Given a choice between him and Bush? There's no comparison; Slate has a Bushism of the Week section for a reason. If I'm not going to like the policies of either Republican candidate, at least offer me the guy who can think on his feet and keep up with the young-'uns.

Bill Maher and John McCain were both on Larry King Live last week. It was a pretty interesting hour. Maher's jokes don't always translate to hard copy well, but the transcript's still worth a look:

  • Bill Maher Discusses How to Be `Politically Incorrect'; John McCain Calls for a Cease-Fire in South Carolina [CNN]
    [Discussing the fact that McCain backed out of being on Politically Incorrect but later appeared on Leno]
    KING: But yet you do not take it against him to the point of... [withdrawing your support?]
    MAHER: Not at all, because you know why, Larry, remember in "Casablanca" when the guy said the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans, we have got too many people who don't understand that concept. Everybody thinks they're a big hill of beans. OK. I don't want to be one of those people. I mean, he's a war hero. We're talking about presidents.

    MAHER: [on the unusual amounts of money involved in the race] George Bush, $70 million. If you had $70 million to promote a movie, that could be a pretty crappy movie and you could -- I mean, "Godzilla," that's who George Bush is, a crappy movie with a lot of money for marketing.

Like Lynette, I've found McCain's Navy (run by Stan Krute) to be a good source of frequent updates about the race. It has a viewpoint, obviously, but if you're OK with that it's great for info junkies (like me).

Found there, here's a column filled with penetrating insights by William Safire...

  • New 'Vast Conspiracy' [NY Times/free registration req.]
    Never mind polls showing that Vice President Al Gore now defeats George W. Bush. Never mind how John McCain now trounces Democrat Gore in the same polls.

    In cooking up its cockamamie explanation for McCain's attractiveness to voters across the political spectrum, religio-pols expose the fear of Republican elders: that the dread "they" -- all those starry-eyed amateurs and reformist outsiders -- may take over "our thing."

    In his devilish way, goes this weird construct, Beelzebub is manipulating the G.O.P. to pick the nominee easiest for Gore to beat. Thus, all polls formerly believed in so devoutly are now to be despised. ... Nothing so corrupts a campaign's credibility as insistence on the opposite of what everyone knows to be true.

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