Sunday, February 29, 2004

Hooray For Renee!

Renee Zellweger took the Best Supporting Actress crown for her role as tough farmhand Ruby Deuce in Cold Mountain, and I cheered. I haven't seen an individual performance that enjoyable since Johnny Depp in Pirates Of The Carribean (who was nominated too, but lost honorably to Sean Penn in Mystic River). Zellweger's performance added a huge lift to this film, which I hope more people will see after this win.

Everyone's A Winner

I'm glad I didn't have to vote for the Best Song Oscar. Between the two nominations for tunes from Cold Mountain, one for Return Of The King, and the quirky "Kiss At The End Of The Rainbow" from A Mighty Wind, you had four awesome preformances. But if I had to pick, it would be a tie for the two songs from Cold Mountain with all their sad charm. Maybe because that's because I loved the music from Ken Burns' The Civil War.

One To Win Them All

Did Oscar have a guilt complex for passing on the first two Lord Of The Rings films? I have to think so, with tonight's clean sweep. My other theory is everybody knew from the start there would be three pictures. People were betting that Peter Jackson would save the best for last. He did, and he has been richly rewarded.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Ralph More Democratic Than The Democrats

The man on Democrats' dart boards is running for president again, and predictably, the Dems are whining that he's gonna steal votes, and end up putting Bush back in office.

The nerve of that guy, actually thinking voters should only get to choose between the D's and R's. Terry McAuliffe might as well gripe about the Libertarians. What about all the votes they've gotten from people over the years? Okay, so maybe they didn't take enough to cost somebody an election, but let's look closer at that, shall we?

Ralph Nader did not steal votes. He earned them. A vote for somebody else isn't a mistake, or a throwaway, it's democracy. This whole notion of a wasted, throwaway vote is disgusting to people like me who believe that politics isn't just about winning elections, but standing up to represent those who share common beliefs, goals and concerns. People didn't vote for Ralph Nader in 2000 to screw over Al Gore. He stood for people. He's always stood for people.

So go on Ralph, run. Never mind the gripes from people who want inside-the-box, lightweight, convenient democracy. You won't win, but both major parties will have to work harder. And they simply don't want to.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

The Producer Strikes Back

It's more than fashionable to bash news organizations, just like lawyers, HMO's, and the occasional priest. Well, no more. I've decided nobody gets a free bite at the big bad media without me getting to bite back... especially with some of the moron mail I've come across. Chew on this email I got today:
From: (name witheld to protect this bozo's identity, not that he doesn't deserve to get spam-bombed with a few hundred Viagra e-mails)
Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2004 6:45 PM
To: (name witheld to protect the innocent man who came across this first)
Subject: Late Breaking News

I found out tonight that your newsroom really isn't interested in late breaking news. I called a bit after 5PM and informed your newsroom that there had been a fatal accident on Old Spanish Trail within 10 minutes of the accident taking place; a car killed a bicyclist and then rolled. My wife watched it happen and called 911. We didn't see or hear anything about the accident on either the 5 or 6PM news, but lots of canned stories with pretty people. Hey, if you going to be a news source, give us real news as soon you can verify it had happen (like a call to the county sheriff) instead of cute stories on crosses on the side of the road. This convinced me I'm taking my news viewing to channel 4 and hopefully they won't be as disconnected to real local news as your station is. Believe me I'll spread the story of my contact with you to everyone I know at Raytheon.
What's wrong with this picture? Plenty.

1) That bicycle accident Mr. X mentions simply didn't happen. We called two fire departments to check up on it as soon as we got the tip. They were unable to confirm anything. From what we were told, that accident never happened. Verification is standard procedure for every newsroom, and at least Mr. X realizes that. But sometimes, we can't verify things for hours, or even days. That's a mutual subject of frustration. Perhaps Mr. X would be happy if we just threw it on the air cold without bothering to confirm any of it, just to satisfy his impatient posterior.

2) About those "cute stories on crosses on the side of the road." For those of you who didn't see it, reporter Millie Martinez talked to a man who had lost his son, and was honoring him with a white roadside cross... one of thousands across Arizona marking where people have lost loved ones to accidents. She took a closer look at the healing this makeshift memorial provided to a grieving father. Maybe I should hook up this father with Mr. X, so Mr. X can hear the "cute story" of his dead son, and all the pretty pain and glorious grief.

3) I love it when people say something like, "I'm never going to watch your station again!" Then they switch stations and instantly find some fault with that station to gripe about, fire off another e-mail, and the cycle repeats. But come on, switching to KVOA Channel 4? Lie-Witness News? The station that labels six-hour old stories as "Breaking News?" Puh-leeze. It's obvious this guy's clueless.

It is one of Francis' Undisputable Facts that some people have nothing better to do than to find things to complain about. To some degree (putting on my patriot tricorn hat here) that's a sign of a healthy democracy in that these folks have a passion to demand something better. But really, Mr. X, throwing a hissy fit because a station didn't cater to your whim on a single occasion, and then assuming it's because we just want to do "cute" stories is ignorant. That ignorance is multiplied by your cluelessness on the cross story and divided by all those people at Raytheon you're going to tell to stop watching KOLD. Let them watch for themselves and decide, rather than watching you whine and cry.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

So Is Bishop O'Brien Going To Hell? (And Will He Be Enjoying The Drive?)

A Phoenix jury has convicted retired bishop Thomas O'Brien of leaving the scene of a deadly accident. Police say he hit and killed a man. O'Brien says he thought he hit a dog, a cat, or a rock.

The accident happened just weeks after O'Brien cut a deal with Maricopa County prosecutors admitting, yeah, he moved suspected sicko sex-abusing priests around without telling anybody about it. He then pulled a Clinton saying no, that's not what I said.

This leads us back to the accident, in which testimony showed the bishop didn't see anything, didn't stop, didn't call police, didn't answer phone calls from friends, didn't answer his door when officers were standing outside... and didn't seem to think he had done anything wrong.

The law in Arizona requires drivers to turn around and go back if a "reasonable person" would suspect he or she had just injured somebody. Everything I've seen up to now tells me O'Brien's less than reasonable. Maybe that should have been his defense.

His problem isn't immorality, it's amorality. Not dishonesty, but ahonesty. He just doesn't know what the truth is, or just can't tell it. I have a hard time figuring out how this man made it through seminary. Did he fake his divinity? Was he really feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit within him or just the scent of Bounce from his clerical shirt?

Smart money says he'll probably avoid prison time. But I'd love to see somebody come up with black and white stripes to match that priest's collar.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Ross Gets Served While Serving

...and dadgumit, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, at least not according to my mail.

On Friday, KOLD reported that Ross had done time for her Tucson DUI bust in a jail cell in her hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut. Note that was days after she entered a no-contest plea by phone from home. We also picked up on a story from the New York Daily News (and repeated by E! Online) that Ross got some perks, including bringing her own comforter and sending officers out for food. "Celebrity Justice" went even further, saying Ross even kept her cell phone.

Still, I get letters like this one:
I read your story on Diana Ross that you printed. First I want to say that she has served her time and that should be sufficent. It was one of Tuscon's judges that handed down the sentence and she abided by the verdict. I think she has gone through enough recently in her life with her ex-husband dieing (sic) and going through treatment. I wish you would accept the verdict and let it go. I am a Diana Ross fan and hopes she never performs in the Tuscon (sic) area again due to the backlash from your community. Thanks for listening to me.
Gene N.
First, just to clarify, Ross still has a year of unsupervised probabtion, plus 36 hours of alcohol abuse treatment. So she hasn't quite "served her time," so to speak. Second, what backlash? Most of the backlash, if any, is coming from MADD. I'm simply shaking my head and wondering about this nutty statement from Greenwich Police saying she was treated like any other woman inmate. And a lot of us are wishing we had her lawyer.

And Gene, face this ugly fact: people who can pay for a spirited defense can usually beat a DUI rap, or at least get it knocked down to something less than hard time. Lucky for all of us, Miss Ross didn't kill somebody that night in December 2002 when she was driving toe-up drunk on Tucson's northeast side. And fortunately, she did some time for the crime.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Hostage-Takers Outsmarted

Score another one for Arizona's criminal justice system. Not only did the cops resolve that standoff at the Lewis prison peacefully, they're actually getting around that siege-ending promise to the inmates that they would be transferred to other prisons out of state. So you can't complain that that state caved in. Now both those cons will experience the wonderful world of pink underwear, striped uniforms, and bad food with their host, Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Squeal, Crash, Boing!

That's what TV viewers in Phoenix heard on KPNX Tuesday as Bishop Thomas O'Brien was testifying in court. He's accused of a deadly hit and run accident.

According to the AP:
According to the general manager of station KPNX, it was a mistake. An employee accidentally allowed the sound to be heard from a commercial that would have aired at that time, had it not been for the special coverage of the trial.

And the commercial was for a chiropractic clinic. Viewers heard the sound of tires squealing, and then a car crashing -- followed by a cartoonish "boing!" sound.

Before you roll your eyes and say, yeah, wardrobe malfunction, let me offer a similar example of how this could happen.

About five years ago when I was working for KRGV-TV in the Rio Grande Valley, we broke into regular programming one election night for a bulletin. This required stopping down a tape right after the end of a commercial, because the programming would resume on the tape right after that commercial. The ad happened to be a Burger King spot which included several cartoon sound effects of "chomping," incluidng one big bite right after the words, "If you ask us, it just tastes better."

We thought we had stopped down the tape exactly in the right place. Turns out we hadn't. So when we finished with our news bulletin, the audio guy potted up the sound from the tape deck, and we had master control start the VTR again. What viewers heard over the two anchor's faces was that last cartoon "CHOMP!" from that commercial. It looked and sounded hilarious.

I've also known some goofy audio operators. One at another former station kept several sound effects cartridges around just for grins when he was running sound checks. So it wasn't unusual to hear weird screams, or sheep bleating to a tango on the studio speakers before the noon news. Another audio operator had a cart with the "We are go" sequence from Apollo 13 that he used to play for a little motivation whenever we were getting ready to do a show.

It's all in fun, but God help you if it gets on the air.

Monday, February 9, 2004

Being Bush

My Dad has this theory about the president: here's a nice guy who's surrounded by some real eight balls. I think a bigger problem is communication skills. That's no revelation to anybody who works in the news business.

I didn't see George W. on "Meet The Press" yesterday (I was off in Nappyland). But I read the transcript. And I was less than impressed with his performance. With the Dems on his tail, he's headed for the fight of his life this November.

If only he could've channeled me for that hour with Russert. It would've gone something like this. (We're using the actual questions from the actual broadcast with my actual words substituted for W's.)

RUSSERT: On Friday, you announced a committee, commission to look into intelligence failures regarding the Iraq war and our entire intelligence community. You have been reluctant to do that for some time. Why?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): Nobody likes to admit something's screwed up at the CIA. I have tremendous faith in the people who work there. But the more I learned about these alleged failures, I realized I had to do something. So I did it. And it's a very bi-partisan commission.

RUSSERT: Prime Minister Blair has set up a similar commission in Great Britain. His is going to report back in July. Ours is not going to be until March of 2005, five months after the presidential election. Shouldn't the American people have the benefit of the commission before the election?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): They should, but get real, Tim, this is Washington. Why should I hand the other party a chance to tear me a new one, which can be done in a matter of weeks, not months, without a complete investigation of the evidence? The American people deserve better than some partisan screed, which I know I'm asking for if I demand a full accounting on such a tight deadline. I want them to take the time to do it right.

RUSSERT: Will you testify before the commission?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): I'll answer their questions. But if they do their job and analyze what's out there, they shouldn't have to.

RUSSERT (paraphrased question from the broadcast): [CIA Director George Tenant's] job is not in jeopardy?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): Not unless I find out something absolutely unfathomable happened. And that's what the commission is going to look into.

RUSSERT: There is another commission right now looking into September 11th. Will you testify before that commission?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): Again, yes. But hopefully, it won't have to come to that. I don't mean to sound evasive, but I clearly think the evidence won't require that. I get these things called "Presidential Daily Briefs," which show what the CIA is telling me. A lot of that I can't talk about in open hearings, because it could compromise our contacts or the quality of information we're pulling in. I know sifting through a lot of paperwork isn't sexy, but if people will actually read the reports I read, they'll understand why I make the decisions I do.

RUSSERT: Senator Charles Grassley, a Republican, said he is absolutely convinced we will capture Osama bin Laden before the election.

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): Well, I guess we'd better catch him then, or else he's gonna owe somebody at least a steak dinner. Seriously, though, I think his statement shows the confidence we have in the CIA, and our other intelligence agencies, to get those people we're after. Don't forget, Saddam didn't just crawl out of that hole and surrender.

RUSSERT: Let me turn to Iraq. And this is the whole idea of what you based your decision to go to war on. The night you took the country to war, March 17th, you said this: "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised." That apparently is not the case. How do you respond to critics who say that you brought the nation to war under false pretenses?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): First of all, I wouldn't call it false pretenses. I would call an extremely tough decision that was made based on the best intelligence we had at that time. And that intelligence clearly indicated Saddam had or was developing weapons of mass destruction. I went off what I was told. And you gotta remember a couple of things. First, Saddam has used gas on his own people. I don't know why my critics seem to conveniently forget that. Second, we're living in a different world now. If I'd found out about this before 9/11, we'd probably be still going rounds at the U.N. over this. And let's not forget something. Saddam had plenty of opportunities to get rid of the goods, whether by destroying them or shipping them out. Lord knows his gang played the U.N. inspectors like a piano.

RUSSERT: Mr. President, the Director of the CIA said that his briefings had qualifiers and caveats, but when you spoke to the country, you said "there is no doubt." When Vice President Cheney spoke to the country, he said "there is no doubt." Secretary Powell, "no doubt." Secretary Rumsfeld, "no doubt, we know where the weapons are." You said, quote, "The Iraqi regime is a threat of unique urgency.” “Saddam Hussein is a threat that we must deal with as quickly as possible." You gave the clear sense that this was an immediate threat that must be dealt with.

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): And it was. And we dealt with it. And I'm sorry if people didn't think we used enough diplomacy. But Saddam simply wasn't responding to diplomacy. He sure as hell wasn't responding to the U.N. We can set up these international diplomatic organizations, they can condemn any nation they want as a threat, which the U.N. did with Iraq, but they better back it up with some firepower. Otherwise, we're just sitting around, passing gas.

RUSSERT: But can you launch a preemptive war without iron clad, absolute intelligence that he had weapons of mass destruction?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): Tim, it's a tough decision. I didn't like having to make it. Nobody would. But the safety of Americans comes first. The American people elected me to make tough calls, and I'm convinced I made the right one given the evidence that was before me.

RUSSERT: But it may have been wrong.

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): We don't know that for sure. Again, that's what the commission is going to find out. And I'm as eager as you to get answers.

RUSSERT: This is an important point because when you say that he has biological and chemical weapons and unmanned aerial vehicles and they could come and attack the United States, you are saying to the American people: we have to deal now with a man who has these things. And if that's not the case, do you believe if you had gone to the Congress and said he should be removed because he's a threat to his people but I'm not sure he has weapons of mass destruction, Congress would authorize war?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): I don't think they would have, but I didn't go to them with that question.

RUSSERT: There is a sense in the country that the intelligence that was given was ambiguous, and that you took it and molded it and shaped it -- your opponents have said "hyped" it -- and rushed to war.

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): If only those people making those accusations could see what I saw, read what I read. I don't think they'd be saying that. And I don't think it's hyping to talk frankly about the danger we face as a nation. We can't forget about what happened September 11th. Some people are still living in the past.

RUSSERT: There are lots of madmen in the world, Fidel Castro in Iran, in North Korea, in Burma, and yet we don't go in and take down those governments.

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): Maybe it's because they don't jerk the international community around when U.N. guys go into those countries with a job to do. Maybe it's because diplomacy is working. We don't fight wars when we don't need to. And let me tell you something, Mommar Kaddafi knows he doesn't want to be the next in line. He's coming clean.

RUSSERT: On Iraq, the vice president said, “we would be greeted as liberators.” It's now nearly a year, and we are in a very difficult situation. Did we miscalculate how we would be treated and received in Iraq?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): I don't think so. If you go back to the day when Saddam's statue came down, the answer is obvious we were welcomed. What's got people hot under the collar isn't anything we're doing, but what Saddam's former cronies and guerilla fighters and Ba'athists are doing to stir up trouble and create more fear and terror. I think a lot of anger is misplaced among Iraqis, but I'm not going to blame them for that. They've never had the freedom we had. They've been lied to for years. It's going to take a long time for some people to see the light.

RUSSERT: Are you surprised by the level and intensity of resistance?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): Not at all. These insurgents will fight to the death. They don't care who they kill, how they kill, when they kill, where they kill. They just kill. And I really believe some of these guys believe they can somehow take the country back that way. Ain't gonna happen.

RUSSERT: If the Iraqis choose, however, an Islamic extremist regime, would you accept that, and would that be better for the United States than Saddam Hussein?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): I don't think they'll choose that. The way you kill tyranny is with democracy, and plenty of it. The Iraqis, as I said, have never known democracy. The key thing to remember is that it's not going to happen overnight. And really, deep down in their hearts, what Iraqis would really want to have another Saddam, except for those who were getting fat and rich and entitled off of his oppression. The Iraqi people are being shown there's a better way to run their country, and it's going to take time, but it's worth the wait.

RUSSERT: You do seem to have changed your mind from the 2000 campaign. In a debate, you said, "I don't think our troops ought to be used for what's called 'nation-building.' We clearly are involved in nation building.

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): Yeah, but c'mon. We're not going to go in, get rid of Saddam, and just march out, right? With all those insurgents, we're back at square one. You make a mess, you clean it up, or at least help clean it up. And it's the Iraqis who are bulilding their nation. We're not throwing up some puppet goverment and refusing to cut the strings. This isn't the old Eastern Bloc.

RUSSERT: In transferring power, the U.N. will play a central role?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): It's up to them. I'd like them to play a role, do something besides talk for a change. They can be part of the solution or part of the problem.

RUSSERT: Before we take a break, now that we have determined there are probably not these stockpiles of weapons that we had thought, and the primary rationale for the war had been to disarm Saddam Hussein, Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Defense Secretary, said that you had settled on weapons of mass destruction as an issue we could agree on, but there were three. “One was the weapons of mass destruction, the second is the support for terrorism, and third is Saddam's criminal treatment of his Iraqi people.” He said the “third one by itself is a reason to help Iraqis but it's not a reason to put American kids' lives at risk, certainly not on the scale we did.” Now looking back, in your mind, is it worth the loss of 530 American lives and 3,000 injuries and woundings simply to remove Saddam Hussein, even though there were no weapons of mass destruction?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): Again, I made a tough decision. I weighed the evidence before me and the state of the world we're in, after 9/11. I mourn for the losses of those servicemen and women, and I'm telling you, their parents and all Americans, they did not die in vain. If those soldiers died to help save the lives of millions of Americans, it's worth it many times over. Just do the math.

RUSSERT: In light of not finding the weapons of mass destruction, do you believe the war in Iraq is a war of choice or a war of necessity?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): What the hell kind of question is that, Tim? Do you honestly think I sit behind that desk in this office and decide what countries we're going to invade? It's not a choice at all. It was a necessity born of last resort. I didn't take that decision lightly. I don't play games with peoples lives, or their sons' and daughters' lives. Really, Tim, did an DNC hack put you up to that question?

RUSSERT: We are going to take a quick break.

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): Good idea. But you didn't answer my question.


RUSSERT: Mr. President, this campaign is fully engaged. The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Terence McAuliffe, said this last week: "I look forward to that debate when John Kerry, a war hero with a chest full of medals, is standing next to George Bush, a man who was AWOL in the Alabama National Guard. He didn't show up when he should have showed up." How do you respond?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): Well, it's campaign season. People are going to use every trick in the book. I served in the Guard, and I received an honorable discharge. I don't want to get into some "did not, did too" kid stuff. This isn't recess in the 4th grade.

RUSSERT: The Boston Globe and the Associated Press have gone through some of their records and said there’s no evidence that you reported to duty in Alabama during the summer and fall of 1972.

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): There's the key -- "some." Some of their records probably don't have that information. And you know as well as I do, paperwork can be misplaced, destroyed or just plain ignored. I know I served my country honorably. And if that's not good enough for people just because they couldn't find some piece of paper, I feel sorry for them. We shouldn't have to be having these urination contests every campaign about who's more patriotic.

RUSSERT: You were allowed to leave eight months before your term expired. Was there a reason?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): I was going to Harvard Business School. We worked out a deal and they let me leave. I didn't just go AWOL. I worked with the system, and they worked with me. We have employers all over this country who let people leave their jobs to serve in the Guard and Reserve. I don't see why it can't work the other way, too.

RUSSERT: When allegations were made about John McCain or Wesley Clark on their military records, they opened up their entire files. Would you agree to do that?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): Yes I would. But again, that depends on whether those files and the paperwork people want to see are even still around.

RUSSERT: Were you favor of the war in Vietnam?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): I supported my government.

RUSSERT: But you didn't volunteer or enlist to go.

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): No, I didn't. At lot of people didn't. You don't have to fight a war to love your country and support your government. But I served in the National Guard, and I would've gone had my unit been called up. But that didn't happen. And I resent this notion that somehow you're less patriotic or less of an American if you enlisted in the National Guard during the war. People seem to equate that to burning your draft card or fleeing to Canada.

RUSSERT: Let me turn to the economy. And this is one of my charts that I would like to show you.

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): You're not going to morph into Ross Perot on me, are you?

RUSSERT: The Bush Cheney first three years, the unemployment rate has gone up 33 percent, there has been a loss of 2.2 million jobs. We've gone from a $281 billion surplus to a $521 billion deficit. The debt has gone from 5.7 trillion, to $7 trillion up 23 percent. Based on that record, why should the American people rehire you as CEO?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): The economy took a hit after September 11th. War is expensive. Rooting out terrorists costs big bucks. That's the simple truth. And remember the new economy? What new economy? I simply can't believe people bought stocks from dot-coms that didn't sell anything and weren't making money. I'm not proud of the unemployment and deficit figures, but things are turning around. And I'm confident this country will create jobs through my economic policy, and we'll get the revenue we need in taxes to start cutting the deficit. When people are out of work, not making money, they don't pay as much in taxes -- simple as that.

RUSSERT: But when you proposed your first tax cut in 2001, you said this was going to generate 800,000 new jobs. Your tax cut of 2003, create a million new jobs. That has not happened.

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): The point is, jobs are being created. We're creating them as fast as we can given the hits this economy has taken. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make them appear. But businesses in this nation can only move as fast as economic reality allows. I've given them a tool they've asked for, and it's up to them to follow through.

RUSSERT: The General Accounting Office, which are the nation's auditors have done a study of our finances. And this is what your legacy will be to the next generation. It says that our “current fiscal policy is unsustainable.” They did a computer simulation that shows that balancing the budget in 2040 could require either cutting total Federal spending in half or doubling Federal taxes.

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): You know that old saying? "To err is human; to really screw things up requires a computer." Computers can simulate a lot of things. But they don't live in the world we do. I don't know what was fed into that simulation, but I think it's silly to base your economic decisions on what some computer is telling you.

RUSSERT: How why, as a fiscal conservative as you like to call yourself, would you allow a $500 billion deficit and this kind of deficit disaster?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): Again, we don't really know for sure, except for some computer's word, what kind of a disaster this is. But the deficit is a problem, and I just sent a budget proposal to the Congress that cuts the deficit in half in five years. But that's assuming we spend our money wisely. I wonder if that computer made that asssumption.

RUSSERT: But your base conservatives, and listen to Rush Limbaugh, the Heritage Foundation, CATO Institute, they're all saying you are the biggest spender in American history.

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): It's not true, but other presidents haven't had to help get the economy back on track and fight a war on terror. You don't fight a war half-assed. You have to spend money to equip your personnel.

RUSSERT: That's a very important point. Every president since the Civil War who has gone to war has raised taxes, not cut them. Raised to pay for it. Why not say, I will not cut taxes any more until we have balanced the budget? If our situation is so precious and delicate because of the war, why do you keep cutting taxes and draining money from the treasury?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): Because people out there need to get back to work. People need jobs. They need more money in their pocket. And I think here in Washington, we haven't done a good enough job of watching our wallets and spending only what we need. Maybe the way we get the pork out this place is by simply defunding it. Of course, Congress could do us all a favor and give me the line-item veto and save a lot of headaches.

RUSSERT: How about no more tax cuts until the budget is balanced?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): How about no more pork instead? Honestly, Tim, this works both ways. Problem is, Congress needs to just suck it up and stop wasting money on pet projects and silly studies which serve no purpose other than to get somebody re-elected.

RUSSERT: Mr. President, last time you were on the show you said that you wanted to change the tone in the nation. This is Time magazine: "Love Him or Hate Him: Why George Bush arouses such passion and what it means for the country." Tom Daschle, the Democratic Leader in the Senate, said that you've changed the tone for the worse; that it's more acrimonious, more confrontations, that you are the most partisan political president he's ever worked with. Our exit polls of primary voters, not just Democrats but Independents in South Carolina and New Hampshire, more than 70 percent of them said they are angry or dissatisfied with you, and they point to this whole idea of being a uniter as opposed to a divider. Why do you think you are perceived as such a divider?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): Because I had to make decisions they didn't like. And let's get real. Partisanship, dirty, rotten, low-down, no-good namecalling partisanship has been around for a long time before I got into this office. You remember Bill Clinton? And there's plenty of fingers to point around. This is Washington, Tim. This ain't Emerald City.

RUSSERT: But around the world, in Europe, favorable ratings unfavorable ratings, 70 in Germany, 67 in France.

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): Again, because I made decisions they didn't like. Decisions that were right, decisions that had to be made. I'm sorry that number is so high, but this ain't a popularity contest. It never was. Committed leadership doesn't mean chasing some approval number.

RUSSERT: Two polls out this weekend show you're trailing John Kerry in both U.S.A. Today and Newsweek polls by seven and five points. This is what John Kerry had to say last year. He said that his colleagues are appalled at the quote "President's lack of knowledge. They've managed him the same way they've managed Ronald Reagan. They send him out to the press for one event a day. They put him in a brown jacket and jeans and get him to move some hay or move a truck, and all of a sudden he's the Marlboro Man. I know this guy. He was two years behind me at Yale. I knew him, and he's still the same guy.”

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): Heck, if he gets this job, which I'm hoping he won't, people are going to be saying the same things about him. Every president has handlers, John. Wake up and smell it. This ain't some Senate office with a few staffers and a few interns.

RUSSERT: You were both in Skull and Bones, the secret society. What does that mean for America? The conspiracy theorists are going to go wild.

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): Oh, they're doing that already. I don't worry about conspiracy theorists.

RUSSERT: Are you prepared to lose?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): No, I'm preparing to win.

RUSSERT: If you [lost], what would you do?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): Serve my country, just in a different capacity. I wouldn't become some dinosaur. It's something I haven't had a lot of time to think about.

RUSSERT: Biggest issues in the upcoming campaign?

FRANCIS (AS PRESIDENT BUSH): I think you just hit on them all, Tim. All through the hour. You wouldn't be asking me questions about small stuff, would you?

(Wow, this entry got REALLY long. But I hope you enjoyed it. Especially since it took me so long to type! :-) )

Sunday, February 8, 2004

RIAA: Download A Clue!

Two years ago during the Grammys, we saw three young people publicly shamed for downloading hundreds of songs online, something they had done at the RIAA's encouragement to show people it could be done (like we didn't know that already). However, we never saw them at computer terminals, getting the goods. We saw them sitting in the audience during a whiney-cry speech about music piracy which pointed out their deed. I wonder if those three even knew they were going to be somebody's fool on live TV.

This year, we were spared a repeat, but one thing didn't change: the RIAA's air mass between the ears. They announced the launch of their anti-piracy site with a clueless ad that shows the music being cut off at a nightclub as soon as a girl finishes downloading a song from the net. What's the download? Uh, what's the message? Music piracy drains electricity?

At least the film industry had the smarts to trot out the behind-the-scenes people who stand to lose money when it started taking a stand on pirated flicks. And most of us are still buying and renting movies instead of ingesting them into our PC's. One rental is still less than one matinee ticket. Ditto for pay-per-view. The industry has done the math and provided value. It cut costs, and it added value with DVD's.

What has the music industry done lately to add value, beyond jacking up the price of a CD?

They Report, We Decide

Okay, forget about Janet and Justin for five minutes, willya, and read this post from fellow blogger Todd Kennedy on how living in a democracy is a job in itself. If half the people in this nation take this attitude to heart, we won't be talking about wardrobe malfunctions.

"I know it's been a rough week on everyone..."

Well, Justin just fell on his sword. But for an apology, it didn't sound like the kind of thing CBS twisted somebody's arm for. It was only about 20 words (or less), and Justin sounded more like a kid who got caught at school smoking a cigrarette than ripping off somebody's bustier.

What, what do you mean, "What do you want out of the guy?" That's not the question. That time has passed.

Matt Drudge is reporting FCC head honcho Michael Powell was THIS close to holding license revocation hearings for CBS's station group. Frankly, I would like to see it. As big as a 1st Amendment guy I am (I don't wear a tricorn just for looks), frankly I think Big Media needs to justify its actions every once in awhile.

OOOPS... speaking of "rough"... big audio problems on the Grammys just now during the tribute to Luther Vandross. Audio potted up the microphone on Celine Dion and nothing came out. "Production 3, bring it up!" Obviously we can hear the director. How would you like to be the stagehand passing a new microphone over Celine? I guess we're all lucky he wasn't holding a bra.

Apology Rejected

Fox News is reporting that Janet Jackson turned down an offer to appear on the Grammys provided she apologize on the air for her nude boob. Roger Friedman (who's so far ahead of the pack on Jackson news it's mindblowing) says brother Michael played a key role in her decision. "What do people want from this woman? Blood?" he writes. Actually, I think it's a pound of flesh. No, wait, that's what got her into trouble in the first place.

Justin Timberlake is going to take his lumps on the air and apologize, which is the least he can do given the pass he's gotten from the brunt of the backlash. That dorfy interview he did with KCBS last Wednesday was anything but contrite. I wish at least half of the outrage directed at Janet could be deflected to her co-conspirator.

..and then there were two...

Welcome to the new home of FrancisP@ge's blog (the blog formerly known as Unplugged). I've decided to go to this "blog" format for reasons of flexibility. The old site on Tripod is still up.

I have resisted blogging for many months -- probably because it's one of those trendy things to do on the net (besides looking at porn sites) and if you know me, I hate following trends just because everybody else is.

Over the next few weeks and months, with your gracious permission (which you've obviously granted to me if you're looking at this), you'll get a piece of my mind, a bit of my soul, and that's probably too much for most of you. But I assure you, this won't hurt a bit.