Posted Tuesday evening, October 4, 2016.
To jump straight to Jessa Schroeder's story, follow the link to Secrets of NYC's Murder Alley at the New York Daily News.
Posted Tuesday evening, October 4, 2016.
To jump straight to Jessa Schroeder's story, follow the link to Secrets of NYC's Murder Alley at the New York Daily News.
Thursday. July 9, 2015.
I’d like to see them do one serious period piece with every new season of Sherlock. This doesn’t appear to be quite what I have in mind though.
Still, I can’t wait.
It looks as though Cumberbatch is playing a more gentlemanly, more mature, more self-contained, more good-humored, more Rathbonian Holmes. Freeman’s Watson appears to still be Freeman’s Watson, a very good thing, since one of the virtues of Sherlock is that Freeman’s Watson is very much Conan Doyle’s Watson. It makes sense that Holmes would be shaped by his times to some degree and that an eccentric polymath who likes to keep his emotions in check and his feelings to himself would be more of a misfit here in the early 21st Century and more at home and at ease the late 19th. But Watson would be doggedly Watson, no matter when and where he lived. That’s his great strength. It’s what makes him so dependable, and it’s his dependability that makes him indispensable to Holmes.He can be shaken but not shaken out of himself. He's always himself and always true to himself. However much danger they're in, however many pipes a problem is, Holmes knows he can look over and find Watson there being Watson. As series co-creator Stephen Moffat has said, Sherlock Holmes doesn't need a second brain. He needs Watson.
Be interesting to see what the Victorian Mycroft and Moriarty are like.
I like the visual and musical tribute to Jeremy Brett’s Holmes right there in the opening shot.
Top image via the Mirror Online.
For old time's sake: Sherlock Holmes doesn't need a second brain by Lance Mannion.
Updated Friday at noon. See below.
Another unintended consequence of the Bush Leaguers' corrupt, wholly partisan, mendacious, and destructive methods of "running" the country may be the swearing into office down the line of Senator Kevin Tillman.
Senator Tillman will not be a Republican.
I don't know what if any plans for a political career the brother of Pat Tillman may have. Based on admirably he conducted himself during his testimony before Congress this week, though, and given his own war record, the Democrats should be knocking on his door to beg him to run for something soon.
But if Tillman himself doesn't want to go into politics, there is already forming a small army of future Senators Tillman and Congressmen and Congresswomen Tillman, Governors Tillman, State Legislators Tillman, Mayors Tillman, and School Board Members Tillman, among whom there's probably a President of the United States Tillman or two, all of these young politicians Tillman being like Kevin Tillman, intelligent, eloquent, angry veterans of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who will never see their future careers as having anything to do with the Party of the President who sent them off to die for a lie and a swindle, except in opposition to it.
Meanwhile, it's a good bet the Bush Leaguers have robbed the Republican Party of any future Senators David Iglesias.
Honestly, if you were a smart, ambitious, successful, honorable young conservative woman or man with even one socially tolerant bone in your body, would you look at the Republican Party as it currently is, the Party of Bush and Cheney and Rove, the Party of Tom DeLay, Bob Ney, Randy Cunningham, and Jack Abramoff, the Party of the Rabid Religious Right and think, Hey, I'm signing right up! These are the guys for me!
I suppose you might if you had a real messianic complex and believed you were the One elected by God or Fate to clean up the Party and save it from itself or if you were a born martyr who wanted to see just how quick it would take for the thugs and thieves running the show to tie your career to a tree and fill it full of arrows, because the people in charge of the Party right now would see you as a threat and they would waste no time in either getting rid of you or corrupting you.
There's no way they would let your honesty and integrity ruin the nifty little racket they've got going.
You are exactly the type Karl Rove has had run out of the Justice Department.
And out of every office in every department in the executive branch whenever he could manage it or have it managed.
The future of the Republican Party is the likes of a Monica Goodling, not you.
It's worth asking how the Party got itself into this woeful condition. Nevermind its having once been the Party of Lincoln. How did the fate of the Party of Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, George Romney, Everett Dirksen, Howard Baker, and John Chaffee wind up in the hands of Karl Rove?
There's a book to be written exploring the roots of the Party's decline into dishonesty, corruption, and willful ideological self-destructive ignorance in the Republicans' heartless passivity in the face of the Depression and then its Isolationist leanings in the years leading up to World War II. The decline could be traced through the McCarthy years and on into the years of the Civil Rights Movement when many honorable and decent Republicans had to break with too many of their Party's leaders and too much of their base in order to do the right thing.
It would be a good book. Maybe it already is. Anybody know of it? I'd like to read it.
But my short answer right now to how did the party that nominated Dwight Eisenhower for President twice become the Party that nominated George W. Bush twice is that in between it nominated Richard Nixon twice.
The Party of Lincoln became the Party of Nixon.
Now think about this.
Look at all the Baby Boomers and aging Gen Xers running the Party in Washington and ask yourself when they came of political age, when they started down the path that brought them to where they are today?
The Republican Party today is the Nixonian Southern Strategy Party, the Nixonian Bomb Hanoi Party, the Nixonian We Could Get the Money But it Would Be Wrong Party. It is the Post-Watergate Party.
If you were an intelligent, ambitious, honorable young conservative in 1974 would you have looked at the Party Nixon had remade in his image and said, I'm signing up! These are the guys for me!
I'm sure the Party experienced a lull in its recruitment of honorable and decent young men and women and in that lull gangs of Nixonian apologists and die-hards rushed in to grab a seat. By the time Ronald Reagan made it respectable to be a Republican again, the paths to a political career would have been blocked by the young Dick Cheneys, Tom DeLays, George W. Bushes, Lee Atwaters and Karl Roves, who naturally would have given a hand up only to aspiring hypocrites, incompetents, thugs, and thieves like themselves.
In the generation since, those hypocrites, incompetents, thugs, and thieves have recruited others who in their turn recruited still more who did their bit and so on until now it seems almost a miracle that there is any Republican holding a national office who doesn't have a rap sheet.
Like calls to like.
Writing about another of what is becoming an all too routine example of Republican hypocrisy and personal corruption, this one perpetrated by Texas Congressman Pete Sessions, Digby says:
I make the generalization that Republican politicians are crooks. They break laws and do unethical things even when it doesn't benefit them directly --- just because that's the way their system works.
They simply don't believe that the rules apply to rich and powerful people. Read [Sessions'] words once more about that bankruptcy legislation which it more difficult for families without health insurance to recover from massive, obscene medical bills when they had a health crisis. Then look again at the sanctimonious gasbag complaining about business being defrauded, which apparently is only a problem if it isn't one of his rich friends doing it, since he admits under oath that this contributor and his wife were hiding their assets from creditors.
This is just one guy. But those who fail to rein them in, who refuse to distance themselves from this --- particularly the so-called religious right, who also worship big bucks --- are aiding and abetting. The fact is that there are so damned many of the that I don't know why we should avoid making the sweeping generalization that the GOP is basically a racket. It makes sense when you think about it: their swaggering rhetoric that says you're a dupe if you pay taxes and calls government the enemy would naturally draw the kind of political leader who literally believes that the rules don't apply to him.
Digby is coming at the same idea from a slightly different angle, taking into consideration the unfortunately all too American attitude towards wealth, which is that Having Money Makes It OK, an attitude you can't say is undervalued in the Republican Party.
There is another angle to consider too, the authoritarian one, embodied by Rudy Giuliani, that there are people who are born to be in charge and then there's the rest of us who are born to obey, and the people born to be in charge get to set and enforce all the rules and decide which of those rules they themselves will bother to follow.
Whatever angle you come at it, you arrive at the same point: The Republican Party is the party of people who believe they are exempt. The Party is run by people who have taken full advantage of their self-granted exemptions and they will continue to bring into it other people exactly like themselves.
If you are an honorable young conservative who believes the rules ought to apply to everybody, there simply is no place for you in the Republican Party.
Which means a generation from now, if the Party is still around, it will only be worse.
I don't believe it will be around, unless there are plenty of messianic and would-be martyrs among this generation of young Republicans. I just don't think that enough voters will continue to think that white collar criminals need their own major political party.
"After Pat's Birthday," a letter to the nation from Kevin Tillman.
Hat tips to Susie and the gang.
Better late than never update: Back in January, Alex, who comments here under the nickname burritoboy, reviewed Thomas Edsall's Building Red America: The New Conservative Coalition and the Drive for Permanent Power on his blog, motion picture, it's called.
Alex calls Building Red America a frustrating book, because of a couple important weaknesses in Edsall's approach, the first being, says Alex, that Edsall has written a book about the American Right that doesn't mention the word "capitalism."
The other big flaw is that Edsall starts looking at the roots of the rise to power of the Right at too late a point in time and begins his book:
by discussing “politics at the top” – i.e. current politics as it looks primarily from elite circles in Washington, DC. This is not a repetition of the too-common criticism of elitism. Rather, my criticism is of the value of Edsall’s particular elitism to understanding this phenomenon. The power of the New Right is not primarily explicable by the New Right’s machinations in the 1990s and 2000s. Those machinations were only made possible by the near-universal popularity of the New Right’s politics on a grassroots level starting in the late 1960s, thirty years before the New Right began it’s latest stage of concretizing its power under the second Bush administration.
Edsall analyzes the effects before analyzing the causes (if he can be said to analyze the causes at all). The primary puzzle is how the middle class in America became radicalized, not how that radicalization was later transformed into political power. It’s comparatively easy to gain political power if a lot of people are already willing (even eager) to vote you into office.
Frankly, I don't care who wins the Democratic nomination for President in 2008, Hillary, Obama, or Edwards. I like things about all three and I think that none of them is so close to perfect across the board and would be that much better a candidate or President that it would be a tragedy for the Party and the country if he/she weren't nominated or a disaster if she is.
A lot of progressive types in the blogosphere really, really hope that the nominee won't be Hillary. They don't think her stand on issues is progressive enough---surprise!---they don't trust her to stand up to the Right Wingers and their Democratic enablers in Congress---Hello, Joe Lieberman.---and they don't like her connections to old DLC types from her husband's administration.
They don't believe she can be elected, to begin with, and they doubt that if she is elected she can govern, at least not in any way that will make Progressives happy.
Matt Yglesias puts this case against her most persuasively:
On domestic issues, I think she'll mostly be fine but her instincts and those of her political team seem to lie squarely in the camp that thinks Democrats should try to govern from a defensive crouch.
I like Hillary. I happen to think that she is more electable than her two main rivals, and if I hear another Progressive sneer at the importance of a candidate's being electable I'll bite their head off. I wish her stands on certain issues were bolder but I think what's more important for the next (Democratic) President is not his/her stand on all issues but his/her ability to get done the things that need to be done. Hillary's rhetoric is not as soaring as Obama's and her vision isn't as far-seeing as Edwards. But based on what I know about all three I would say that of the three Hillary is the one who has the best idea of what it takes to get things done, and I'm not saying that because I think eight years as the wife of a President of the United States is the best school for aspiring Presidents.
But I look at Hillary's time as first lady, her six years as my Senator, her biography, and I see a person who has demonstrated a remarkable ability to learn and grow on the job.
I see someone who has shown she can take charge and lead. I see someone who cares about mastering the details of her job. I see someone who knows how to run things and make things run.
I'm not saying that either Obama or Edwards isn't that kind of person. I just don't see enough in their resumes that shows they are as talented or as geared that way as Hillary is.
George W. Bush has broken the government. Everything he's touched he's short-circuited, unhinged, derailed, or flat out smashed by not only politicizing every department he's been in charge of but by appointing incompetent and corrupt cronies and loyalists to run them.
Redbeard in a comment over at Lawyers, Guns and Money makes the case that the next President needs to have a bold vision and a willingness to experiment akin to FDR's in order to undo all the damage Bush has done.
I'd agree as long as it's also understood that by 1932 FDR had made an entire career, topped off by a stint as the governor of the nation's largest state at the height of the Depression, of putting his words into specific actions and pulling off experiments that worked.
The one potential Democratic candidate who comes at all close to having a resume similar to the whole of FDR's is still insisting he's not running.
We'll see how he feels after he wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
Compared to him, the other three, Hillary, Obama, and Edwards are pikers. Compared to each other, each is pretty darn good, each has strengths and merits the other two don't have, and each is far, far, far more preferable than anybody the Republicans will run.
To top it all off, the next Democratic President will only be as good as the next Democratic Congress, and I'm more concerned that the next Congress be Democratic. It's more important to me that the Democrats increase their majority in the House and actually achieve a majority in the Senate.
If you're planning on that not happening, then the best Democratic candidate is the one who will be best at going over the heads of Congress to get the People to rally to his/her side and I'm not sure which of the three can do that, although at this point Obama appears to be the best at inspiring strangers to rally to him.
All this is to say, I very much dislike this post by Garance Franke-Ruta at TAPPED.
Obviously, I'm not one of the major male Progressive pundits Franke-Ruta's referring to---and if this was only because I'm not a Progressive I wouldn't mind not being on the list. This isn't the time or the place to get into it, but I generally don't mind not being one of the major male Progressive bloggers, except when the major male bloggers who I know read this blog steal my best lines and some of my points and don't link to me. I'm not being paranoid here. You know who you are. I steal your stuff all the time, but I link to you! Nevermind. If I keep going down this path, Atrios will snark me dead.---I'm not one of those bloggers, but I am a part of that demographic Franke-Ruta says doesn't like Hillary for reasons, Franke-Ruta implies, of pure sexism and general male blockheadedness.
I'm not about to put myself forward as an exception that proves the rule. (Nor would I put forward Avedon Carol as a member of the demographic that Franke-Ruta says is wild about Hillary as an exception that proves the rule from the other direction. I just want to point out that Avedon is a major female Progressive blogger who isn't at all wild about Hillary and ask Franke-Ruta to consider the possibility that its a blogger's Progressivism more than his/her gender that determines his/her negative opinions about Hillary.) Nor am I putting myself forward as proof that Franke-Ruta's talking through her hat. I trust her on the numbers. I dislike her underlying point.
Scott Lemieux and Matt Yglesias have good rebuttals to her post, but both of them are more concerned with sticking to the issue of Hillary as a candidate.
Even though I disagree with Scott and Yglesias about Hillary, I am more bugged on their behalf than they are by Franke-Ruta's assumption that they and lots of other Progressive and Democratic men don't like Hillary because they're men and because they're men they're sexist and their opinions on any issue involving women and the causes that matter to them are so suspect they can be rejected out of hand.
She's accepting a now more than generation-old argument popularized by professors of literary theory that the victims of oppression have a special insight into things that members of the oppressing class are denied.
How this jumped from classroom discussions of Edward Said claiming Joseph Conrad knew nothing about the real Africa to people in the political world making a special case for themselves and their opinions based on their membership in an oppressed minority is probably the subject of a dozen books I haven't read and if anyone knows of any of them and can recommend them, assuming that they weren't all written by Right Wing Conservatives sneakily making the point that white male conservatives are an oppressed minority, please let me know.
At any rate, Yglesias touches on the point which has as its implicit thesis that only black people can speak righteously to the point for black people, women for women, gays for gays, working people for working people, and religious people for religious people, a very strange notion for people who have inherited the party of Franklin Deleno Roosevelt to hold. But I want to reject it out of hand.
Franke-Ruta's making the case here that the male Progressive bloggers just don't get Hillary because they're men.
Of course men can be obtuse about these things. We frequently are. But I would be more sympathetic to the theory, "You just don't get it because you're a man," if it always came with its inevitable corrollary.
"There are lots of things I just don't get because I'm a woman."
And it never does.
Another advertisement for myself as genius blogger.
Chris Matthews has been obsessing over the possibility that Bill Clinton's been running around on Hillary again. Matthews doesn't seem to have any evidence that the Big Dawg's snapped his leash. He just assumes the Clinton must be getting some because that's what Bill does.
If Matthews was all alone dropping quaters in the slot in this mental booth in the back of the sex shop of his mind, his fantasizing about an ex-President's sex life would be dismissable as evidence of the public unravelling of a not exactly well-knit mind.
But Matthews isn't a lonely guy in a trench coat back in the booth. He's the barker out on the sidewalk in front of the club handing out flyers to passersby and crying, "Naked naked naked naked!"
Inside, the paying customers include half the Washington Press Corps. They're there to watch the live naked girls re-enact Monica flashing her thong and dancing with her cigar and impersonate all the other women who threw themselves at Bill or at whom Bill threw himself.
We all know by now that many of the celebrity journalists and the celebrity journalist-wannabes in DC who are paid to write about the most important political issues of our times are bored to tears by the most important political issues of our time. They would much rather write about movies, sports, racy novels, or reality TV, anything that features lots of real celebrities misbehaving in sexy ways. Since they can't write about those things, because, one: it wouldn't pay them as much, and two: they aren't good enough writers or diligent enough journalists to do it right---sportswriters actually have to work hard at what they do, they aren't allowed to just cover the conversations at their own lunch tables---they write about politics as if they are writing about movies, sports, racy novels, etc.
They write gossip and call it biography.
Bill Clinton is a gossip columnist's dream.
It's been asked over and over throughout the liberal blog world why the Media doesn't obsess over the tawdry sex lives of the likes of John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and Newt Gingrich the way they obsess over Bill Clinton's.
Simple answer to simple question: Because they like those guys and they hate Bill.
Journalists have always thought of sex as synonymous with scandal and scandal ends political careers. You aren't going to go out of your way to start scandals about politicians whose careers you want to carry them into the White House.
That's the simple answer, and it's true, but it's only part of the story.
Scandal---sex---sells newspapers and advertising time. But only if the sex is actually sexy.
Nobody writes about Rudy's, Newt's, and St John's tawdry sex lives because nobody wants to read about Rudy's, Newt's, or St John's sex life. These are not guys you want to picture naked in the sack with a babe. They are creepy. They are ugly and creepy. They are ugly and creepy and dull.
Bill is big, tall, strong and handsome. He was movie star handsome. He is President handsome now. But the Beltway Insiders aren't covering now.
They are still covering then.
As I wrote a few weeks back, the Washington Press Corps has always had a problem seeing Bill and Hillary Clinton as they are. When Clinton was first running for President, when he and Hillary were in their mid-forties, you'd have thought from they way they were covered that they were in their late 20s. You could hardly tell the difference between the way they were portrayed from the way Dennis and Meg or Madonna and Sean were portrayed.
I think that this is because most of the Beltway Insiders are Baby Boomers, a generation that, since, oh, about 1972, has had a particularly difficult time admitting its age.
When the generation's advance guard began to enter middle-age, it looked as though the Boomers were not going to age gracefully. They were going to jog, cross-train, weight-lift, vitamin-pop, diet, dye, Rograine, and surgically make-over their way to perpetual youth and beauty.
When Time, gravity, and cellular degeneration turned out to be too expensive and too physically exhausting to resist, an advertisers and marketers' dream's worth of Boomers decided to face up to the fact that they were getting old by not facing up to it.
They decided that if they couldn't have the body of a 20 year old when they were 50, they could have the mental states of one. They could pretend to themselves that they were as young as they felt. The result has turned out not to be a generation of lined but still lean and handsome rock and rollers but crowds of fat, gray haired lawyers and stockbrokers and college professors holding up their cigarette lighters at Rolling Stone concerts.
Writing and yakking on the tube about the Clintons' sex life is a way of pretending that it's still 1992, and, as I've said, back in 1992 the Media were pretending it was still 1972.
Ironically, the Clintons themselves have aged, and let themselves age, beautifully. One of the secrets of their success is that neither one has tried to pretend that they aren't getting old. They go about being, and are apparently content to be, exactly what they are. Hillary Clinton is a sixty year old United States Senator, and conducts herself accordingly. Bill Clinton is a sixty-year old statesman and world leader and conducts himself accordingly. He is on his way to succeeding Jimmy Carter in the job Carter invented, Great Ex-President.
Rather than speculate on whether or not there's another Monica in his life and how that might be a liability for his wife's Presidential ambitions, the Media Insiders might tell us about the actual work he does and how that work is part of the reason Hillary is as popular as she is.
But that's not sexy.
Never speak ill of the dead, except when in trying to praise the departed you are actually slighting him and his achievements and insulting the intelligence of your readers;
Lede on an AP story on Gerald Ford:
Gerald R. Ford was a man of limited ambition who, through bizarre circumstances never before experienced by the country, achieved an office that others win through the greatest determination and calculation. The nation's 38th president, Ford wanted only to become speaker of the House. History had another place for him.
Only Speaker of the House. Only.
Tell Nancy Pelosi she's soon to hold a job only the unambitious aspire to.
Tell it to the ghosts of Sam Rayburn and Tip O'Neill.
And if Speaker of the House is a job for the shy and retiring, what does that make the job Ford held when Nixon tapped him for Vice-President, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives?
And missing from this pretty picture of Gerald Ford as a man of limited ambition forced by history into a role he was too humble to want for himself is the fact that he ran for President in 1976.
You'd think from that paragraph that after serving out the two years of his appointed Presidency he said, "My work here is done," and rode off into the sunset.
This is another version of the pretty story being told over and over by the Media about Gerald Ford, as if it had something to do with the truth: After the ruthlessly ambitious Nixon was driven from the White House, the country was "healed" by the sunny, cheerful, unambitious, own-toast-making, "amiable" Jerry Ford.
I don't know if Jerry Ford ever wanted to be President of the United States---before the day in 1974 when he accepted the Vice-Presidency knowing full well that Nixon was not at all likely to serve out his term---he may not have. But that wouldn't have made him a man of limited ambition. It might just have marked him as a man with realistic ambitions.
As a young Congressman, or even as a young military veteran and former college football hero thinking of starting a career in politics, he may have wanted to be President but figured that there was no real chance that he could be and so he decided to channel his ambitions in other directions.
But if he had been ambitious for the Presidency, so what?
Would that have made him any less "amiable?"
Nothing gets done in this world except by people who are ambitious. Ambition in itself is not a vice. It depends on what you're ambitious to do and how far you will go to realize those ambitions. When we disparage someone as ambitious, when we say Caesar was ambitious, Napoleon was ambitious, that guy in the office who's determined to make CEO by the time he's 35 and who is lying, cheating, and backstabbing his way to the top is ambitious, we are saying that those ambitious types are consumed by their ambitions.
We do not mean that the job of CEO should go to a person who has no ambition.
We do not mean that the country should be governed by men and women who don't want to accomplish much of anything.
Nixon's flaw wasn't that he was ambitious. It was that he was ambitious and vain and angry and insecure and power-hungry and corrupted by power and his own anger and vanity.
The difference between Nixon and Abraham Lincoln is not that Nixon was ambitious and Lincoln wasn't.
George Washington is revered for his lack of ambition...to be a king. Unambitious he was not. Ambition tempered by humility and a strong sense of right and wrong is in fact a desirable quality in a leader.
Nixon was not brought down by the gods. He was thwarted and finally run out of town by men and women of great ambition, including Gerald Ford.
The AP story pretty much repeats its lede with this graph not very far down:
And so the man who did not covet the presidency, who never had sought national office and who wanted only to become the "head honcho" of the House, became president by chance — unlike many since who have devoted huge amounts of time and money in pursuit of the Oval Office.
I like that "since" in the clause after the dash there. As if in the Golden Age before Nixon, only the humble and uninterested ever ran for President.
But, again, it's as if Jimmy Carter had another opponent devoting huge amounts of time and money in pursuit of the Oval Office.
Two pretty stories are being told here. The first is that once upon a time America and Americans were better than they are now, a land where all the men were strong, all the women were handsome, the children all above average, and nobody was ambitious.
This pretty story is one of the most pernicious in the library of national cliches. By presenting contemporary America as a corrupt and fallen nation compared to our glorious and innocent past, the teller of the pretty story implies that the way to improvement and salvation is to go backwards. Reaction is the politics of nostalgia.
The other pretty story is only a little less destructive. All Presidents, except those named Nixon or Clinton, are good and honorable men who put the best interests of the country ahead of everything, including and especially personal ambition, which is why they have all managed to do wonderful things.
What would have been the result if AP had chosen to write an obituary of the real Jerry Ford? If instead of the amiable doofus who became President through "bizarre circumstances"---Watergate is turned into a kind of natural disaster in this phrase, an unlucky accident that befell the country, and Nixon's bad character is erased from history---we were told about a savvy and ambitious politician who brokered his way into the White House?
We'd then have to tell the story of the real Ford Presidency, which can be at best described as a triumph of mediocrity, in which Ford's main achievement was mostly a matter of his not doing anything---he didn't start any wars or let any cities drown or make any determined efforts to undue generations of social progress and justice.
There'd be nothing "great" about Ford's life to write about, is that it? All his achievements as a United States Congressman? Piffle.
What we have here is a story that disparages wanting to be President at the same time it accepts the idea that the only great job is that of President.
But mainly what we have is a perfect example of the reflexive institutional condescension of the Washington Media, the "You can't handle the truth" dismissive arrogance of the National Press Corps towards ordinary Americans.
We children---we voters, we citizens---have to be spoonfed
our pretty stories so we can go about in comfortable ignorance,
childishly secure in the knowledge that our leaders are all great and
noble, smarter than us, wiser than us, better than us. They don't
need our advice or our energy or our supervision. We should just
go about our business and, as far as the wise men and women of the
Washington Media Elite are concerned, our business is to mind our own
Atrios has been riding this one hard for the last couple weeks, the arrogance of the wise men and women who think that their having been wrong about everything for the past six years does not disqualify them from telling us how the country should be run over the next six.
Tom Watson assesses Ford the President and finds that he was mostly harmless.
And a little while back, Ezra Klein made the point that the way to figure out what a politician will do in office is to ignore the pretty stories the press corps makes up and then reports on as fact and pay attention to what that politician says he will do and at what he has already done. From the New York Times obit, here's Jerry Ford on Jerry Ford's supposed lack of ambition and his being in the position to become President by chance:
“The harder you work, the luckier you are,” he said once in summarizing his career. “I worked like hell.”
Cross-posted at the American Street.
Meanest man in County Cork dies and the kind-hearted pastor of his church, preparing to say the funeral mass, can't think of single nice thing to say about the bastard in his eulogy.
So he asks around town, looking for anyone who has one good word for the deceased to say at the mass, and finds no takers. He gets the idea to call over to the church in the village where the old man was born, figuring that there might be someone there who remembers him from when he was a boy and who might then have at least one fond memory to impart. The priest over there is a very old man himself, and he grew up with the dear departed and offers to come to the funeral and say the nicest thing he can think of.
Day of the funeral comes, the old priest arrives, it's time for him to give the eulogy. He totters up to the pulpit, looks out at the very few people who've bothered to show up, and says the one nice thing there is to say about the dead old man:
"His brother was worse."
Now...about Donald Rumsfeld.
First off, nothing is done in the Rove-controlled White House except for the most brazen and obvious of political reasons. Rumsfeld resigned today so that his resignation would drive some of the election news off the front pages of the newspapers and so it would be the lead story on the TV news all day.
Second, I doubt that if the Republicans were sure they would be holding onto the Senate come January, Rumsfeld would have resigned now. But with the real possibility that the Democrats will be running the show in 2007, Rumsfeld had to get out of the way fast so that this Senate, this still Republican-controlled Senate, can gear up to quickly confirm his successor with a minimum of actual advise and consent.
And third, no matter how bad the guy leaving the job was, with the Bush Administration one thing's certain---his successor will be worse.
By this point, the pool of competent, honest, decent people who are willing to go to work for George Bush must have evaporated to the point where if it's even a puddle, it's the kind of puddle you find on the hood of your car in the morning after a heavy dew, the thinnest of watery sheens.
And if there are a handful of competent, decent, honest men and women out there who are foolhardy enough to think that they can go into the White House and save George Bush from himself and Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, you can be sure Dick Cheney and Karl Rove know who they are and have them on a list labeled DO NOT APPOINT!
Sure enough...ladies and gentleman, I give you Robert Gates.
His brother was worse.
Thanks, again, to Susie.
Cross-posted at the American Street.
Everything Rush Limbaugh says means the same thing.
The actual words he uses are irrelevent. He might as well be talking gibberish (Yeah, I know.) or in code. Whatever he says needs to be translated and is as easy to translate as pig-latin.
No matter what he says this is what he means: "Rich white guys like me should run the country and be allowed to do whatever we want, and anybody or anything that gets in the way of that needs to be steamrollered in a hurry."
This isn't even a forumulated thought with him. People like Limbaugh don't think. Well, most people don't think. They don't put together thoughts. They have feelings that they attach words to without giving much care to what those words are and how accurately they describe the feeling.
Some people say the same words over and over even as the feelings they want the words to describe change. Other people just keep changing the words, usually because they don't remember them from one day to the next. The words were just sounds they gave to the feelings.
That's why it's next to impossible to cause people like Limbaugh to feel ashamed of what they said. You can't hold them to their words. Repeat their words back to them and they don't recognize them. Their own words on paper or said by someone else or even said by themselves on tape or on video aren't attached to the feeling that was behind the words when they said them.
So when Limbaugh makes fun of Michael J. Fox and accuses Fox of going off his meds or exaggerating the effects of his Parkinson's disease or of pretending to how much he even suffers from it---Limbaugh did all of those at once; self-contradiction is a breeze when you don't care what the words you're saying actually mean---and to every decent-hearted and right-thinking person sounds as if he's making fun of Fox for being sick and by extension mocking everyone with Parkinson's and even everyone with an illness or a disability, he wasn't saying anything really.
He wasn't expressing his feelings about Parkinson's, Fox, illness, or disability. He wasn't giving us his true opinion of the morality or efficacy of stem cell research. My guess is that he has no feelings on any of those subjects, one way or another.
Although I'm sure he got a sadistic thrill out of mocking Fox, Fox doesn't matter to him as a person. Fox is just another obstacle to the one thing Limbaugh feels strongly about, which is as I said, that rich white guys like him should run the country and be allowed to do whatever they want.
Fox's offense was making campaign commercials for candidates who will vote to expand and fund stem cell research, but Limbaugh doesn't care about that. What he cares about is that those candidates are Democrats who will also vote to make it harder for rich white guys like Rush to get away with whatever they want to get away with.
Rush's anger and outrage are real; the words he used to express them weren't. This is why if the Republicans find a disabled person to "exploit" his disability in a campaign commercial for them or if they get a bunch of their own celebrities together to make a hysterical ad (and I don't mean funny hysterical, I mean expressive of hysteria) about the evils of stem cell research based on ignorance, superstition, and lies, Rush won't care and you wouldn't be able to get him to feel a twinge of remorse about his hypocrisy and double-standards.
Because the feeling behind his mocking of Fox and his indifference to Republicans doing the things he claims Fox is wrong for doing is the same.
Whatever interferes with the rule of rich white guys is bad, whatever advances it is good.
Inside, Rush feels like a man of integrity and principle.
Within himself he is consistent. He is true to his guiding star.
Now, the difference between someone like Rush and most people who don't think but feel is that he has an inkling that his words and his true feelings don't line up. He covers for this by calling himself a performer and by encouraging his defenders and fans to describe him as if what he's doing is political satire. He's just being funny, folks. Exaggerating for emphasis.
But most of his listeners do not know that they don't think. And they do not know that Limbaugh's words are just sounds carrying an emotion.
The great evil that Limbaugh does is that he gives his listeners words that both help them express their hatreds and resentments and hide from themselves the fact that they hate and resent.
"Rush is a smart guy, he must be, he's famous and he's rich and people I hate hate him, and he uses these words, so if I use these words I'll be saying something smart."
And so now we've got a whole bunch of people who think they're being smart when they mock the disabled and the sick.
But while Limbaugh probably doesn't give people with disabilities a thought when he's not using them to stir up the pot on his show, a lot of his listeners do in fact resent and hate the disabled.
They resent and hate anyone who seems to be getting the kind of respect and consideration they feel screwed out of themselves.
Limbaugh has one "idea" to push, put and keep the rich white guys like me in charge. But most of his listeners are not rich white guys. They are financially struggling white guys.
Putting and keeping the rich white guys in charge is of course the guiding "principle" of that wholly owned subsidiary of Big Business Inc, the national Republican Party, but this has been a problem for the Republicans since William McKinley's time. This is supposedly a democracy. Everybody's in charge. And most everybody is not a rich white guy.
Asking people to vote to put the rich white guys in control is asking them to vote against themselves and their own interests.
So the Republicans have developed a secondary message.
Put us rich white guys in charge and we'll make sure you become a rich guy too.
We'll invite you to join the club.
The rich white guys have been in charge for decades now, though, so how come we're all not rich?
This question was anticipated by the rich white guys. The rich white guys had to anticipate it because they don't really want the people who vote for them in their club.
The reason we haven't been able to make you rich is that Liberals keep us from doing it.
It's because Liberals keep giving everything you've earned and deserve to their special interests.
You're out of a job or you're attending your third choice of colleges because some black guy got your place instead.
You're not getting ahead no matter how hard you work because your company is strapped because of all those environmental regulations it has to meet or all those frivolous lawsuits it's had to fight off or all those rules the corrupt union bosses tricked the guys down on the factory floor into demanding.
Your marriage has gone bust, your son is gay (You're gay!), your daughter's knocked up because of Feminists, special treatment for gays, all that sex in all those movies and TV shows Hollyweird Liberals produce and force you to watch.
Your town's falling apart, your neighbors are moving out, your store's going under because the factory had to close, the company's moving operations to the South because all those brown people the Liberals keep letting in the country will work for slave wages.
The middle manager being escorted out the door by security, his few personal belongings hastily packed in a cardboard box, downsized---rightsized---his boss told him because the company's had to cut back, passes the carpenters at work installing a ramp for that woman in accounting who's in a wheelchair, what's he going to think? That the company has money to make her life easier but not money to see that his kids eat next month? On his way through the parking lot he walks by six empty handicapped spots before he gets to his car which he can no longer afford to make the payments on, what's going through his mind?
The "smart" words he's been handed by Rush and the other peddlers of resentment to attach to his feelings.
Over at Tapped yesterday, Ben Adler was speculating that the Republicans "have it in for the disabled."
I don't think that's true, although for a fact the judges Bush has been appointing are not of a stripe to look kindly on any disabled person's claiming rights that get in the way of Big Business Inc making gobs and gobs of money, as much of it as BBI desires and in any way it wants to make it.
And even though a Republican like Jim Sensenbrenner has worked to restore the civil rights enforcement powers to the Americans With Disabilities Act, George Bush is not going to appoint anyone to his Justice Department to actually go out and enforce it.
Whatever the feelings and intentions of individual Republican Congressmen and Senators might be, they belong to a party that is led by George Bush and controlled by Big Business Inc, and the upshot is that the Republican Party might as well have it in for the disabled for being disabled, because it has it in for pretty much all of us, because we are in the way of BBI making gobs and gobs of money, as much as it desires and any way it wants.
But because the Party has adopted a strategy of exploiting resentments and hatreds in its rank and file, mocking the disabled and giving people the words to do it with it is useful and easy.
And the brilliance of it is that because the words contradict themselves the people adopting them don't even have to know that's what they're doing.
Update: Shakespeare's Sister follows up:
To say that Limbaugh probably isn’t, in real life, the monster he plays on the radio isn’t a particularly nice thing to say about him, though it may seem so. In reality, it’s rather the opposite. I firmly believe he has the capacity to be a decent person (most people do); that he chooses to shed that decency as soon as a microphone is put in front of him speaks to the depth of his lack of character. It’s one thing to be the kind of person who truly hates the disabled by virtue of ignorance or masked fear or plain, old-fashioned intolerance; it’s quite another to affect that hatred in spite of knowing better to make money from the devotion of people who really do, by inflaming their repugnant beliefs.
Shakes has a link to the video of Rush rubbishing Fox.
Cross-posted at the American Street.
If you pay for airport parking reservations then no one can resent you parking in their spot.
Looking for pity and legal cover, Mark Foley, Republican romanitic poet of the Instant Message, checked himself into rehab, as if his problem was demon rum and not the daemon lust.
Maybe he'll get around to it, but I'm surprised he didn't go looking for forgiveness and turn up on the Mourner's Bench in the most prominent Right Wing Christian church in his district, rending his garments and wailing that the devil and Bill Clinton made him type it.
That he hasn't come to Jay-sus yet makes me wonder if he might not be as big a hypocrite as most of his fellow Republican colleagues in Washington.
Maybe he's one of those Republican elitists Tucker Carlson says "have pure contempt for the evangelicals who put their party in power" and he can't bring himself to ask them for sanctuary.
Maybe he grasps how visceral their hatred for homosexuals is and he can't face their contempt.
Maybe he just knows that the one sinner the Christian Right's Leadership can't forgive is a Congressman who makes himself unelectable.
But I think he missed a bet by not trying. After all, the one group in the country who seems to be least upset by the Foley Follies is the group you'd think would be most indignant and outraged, the group whose values and beliefs Republicans like Foley and the Republican leadership who covered for him publicly exploit for votes but brazenly despise with their private behavior.
In fact, according to Digby, it appears that the Christian Right is more than ready to forgive and forget, absolving the Republican leadership of responsibility and placing the blame where they know it truly belongs, on Liberals and Bill Clinton.
Polls show that, most Americans have grasped the essentials. Despite Denny Hastert and other Republicans' attempts to get the word Democrat attached to the story---and CNN's craven decision to go along with the plan. See Media Matters---the public sees the Foley Follies as a Republican scandal and, significantly, they see that it isn't a sex scandal.
It's a scandal arising from the Republican leadership's abuse of power and contempt for any ethical standard that gets in the way of their exercising their privileges and continuing the Republican kleptocracy.
The Christian Right, however, while not exactly looking the other way when it comes to Republican sins and depredations, is willing to tolerate less than saintly behavior by Republicans because the Christian Right wants the kleptocracy to continue.
Republican kleptomania is the small sin that allows for the practice of the larger virtue.
Members of the Christian Right probably have as much contempt, if not more, for the Republican elitists who take their votes and money and spit in their eye at the same time as the Republican elitists have for them.
But what do they care?
Individual Republican politicians don't matter to them. Politicians come cheap and they're easy to replace. What matters to the Christian Right is the Christian Right's agenda, which they believe is God's agenda.
Point out to them that God seems to be advancing His agenda by enriching and making powerful a gang of thieves and thugs and they'll say, "What else is new?"
God has only human beings to work with, after all, and few of them are saints. If He didn't make use of sinners when His wonders He performs the job would never get done.
No Right Wing Christian will ever be persuaded to vote Democratic by having it pointed out that some Republican politicians are corrupt hypocrites, even if the corrupt hypocrites are the ones running the Republican Party, Washington, and the whole country.
And it doesn't do any good to point out all the examples of decent people, the many actual Christians, on our side.
If God is occasionally in the habit of employing sinners, Satan practically doesn't function except by manipulating seemingly good people into sin and damnation.
A liberal candidate for office can go among the flock and say, "Vote for me. I am faithful to my spouse, I go to church every Sunday, I keep the commandments, and I don't even know what an IM is," and the Faitful will reply, "But you will vote for gay marriage and vote against banning abortion and so no matter how righteous you think you are you are doing the Devil's handiwork and leading thousands down the path to Hell, which, as you ought to know, is paved with good intentions."
On top of this, the Faithful have inherited a religious tradition that rejects the notion of individual responsibility.
The Devil always makes us do it.
But not only that, when we don't do it, when we resist temptation, it's not our doing.
"Why do I only see one pair of footprints?"
"Those were the times when I was carrying you."
Republicans are always accusing Liberals of not believing that individuals are responsible for their own actions, but it's the fact that Liberals do believe that we are responsible that proves to the Christian Right we're godless.
Virtue, like vice, comes from without.
It's not much of a leap from the idea that Jesus makes us good to thinking that it is up to Jesus' ministers to make us be good.
This is why constant scolding and public professions of faith are so important to this type of Christian.
They don't believe that people can be good without reminding.
John Kerry is by any reasonable person's lights a religious man, and a devout one. But he comes from a background that passes along three, count them three, traditions of keeping one's mouth shut on matters of personal faith.
Perhaps four. I'm not sure how much influence his grandfather's Jewish heritage contributed to Kerry's moral and spiritual growth.
He's a New Englander, a Boston Brahmin, and a Catholic. Reticence, discretion, and a longstanding teaching that it is better to be the tax collector at the back of the temple than the boastful Pharisee up front, and a shared stocism, are his spiritual inheritance.
Makes a fellow temperamentally unsuited to being a public scold.
But even a Liberal who comes from a more...um...gregarious religious background, someone like Jimmy Carter who can in a modest way trumpet his own virtues and scold with the best of them, is at a disadvantage preaching to that choir because liberals just will not take as the text for their sermons any passage remotely similar in theme to Matthew 5:28.
"But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."
It's just not a hymn Liberals are going to sing. We're not going to start preaching that lust---sex!---is the sin.
A lot of liberal intellectual energy has been expended, and wasted, proving that the Right hates sex.
Of course they do.
Sex is the destructive force in their lives.
Right Wing Christianity arose as a rural, small town, even frontier tradition. It is a religion of the not rich, the not powerful, the not comfortable and the not in any position to relax and get comfortable. It is the religion of small, struggling communities that were constantly on the brink of disintegration, beaten at every turn by the weather, by outsiders, by sudden scarcities of resources, and by the all too human tendency to sloth, despondency, fear, and error.
It was the religion of communities that could fall apart at any moment and it's no wonder that it's an authoritarian religion. It's a religion for communities that have to---or are scared to the point of thinking they have to---value order above everything else.
One person getting out of line leaves a big hole in the community's defenses.
In such a place, sex is the enemy within.
Sex, any peasure actually, which is why that religion hates pleasure too and hates sex especially when it is treated as a pleasure, is a distraction. It takes the individual's thoughts and energies away from the needs of the community and focuses them on his or her own.
Sex causes jealousy and rivalries and competition. It pits friend against friend as they compete for the attentions of prospective mates. It tears families apart as children defy their parents to go off to chase after other families' children who are defying their parents' to go chase and be chased and as husbands betray their wives and wives betray their husbands.
Sex is the lure of the big cities they draw away the best and the brightest of the young, leaving the population at home decimated of talent, brains, bodies, and a future generation to keep the community going and take care of those who stayed behind in their old age.
How you going to keep them down on the farm after they've seen Pare-ee? is not a question that is not best translated as How do you expect them to be satisfied with needlepoint samplers on the wall after they've taken in the masterpieces in Louvre?
Liberal arguments that our policies lower the abortion rates and lower the instances of teenage pregnancies are wasted because they not only do not include condemnations of sex as a destructive force they accept and even celebrate the fact that people who aren't married have sex and like it and this is not a bad thing.
Right Wing Christians realize more clearly than any Liberals, except for some Feminists, that the main selling point of what everybody wrongly refers to as the '60s (it's really the period beginning right after World War II and continuing up to this day) is SEX.
All of the increased opportunities, expanded freedoms, social and economic betterments that Liberals are responsible for and take pride in have been sold to the American public by the Media as side benefits to the vastly improved chances of getting laid.
There's no point in trying to counter this because we are happy about having increased the chances of everybody's getting laid and enjoying it.
This is why whatever more revelations of Republican corruption and moral turpitude come out of the Foley Follies---and after 12 years of the Republican kleptocracy and almost six years of Dick Cheney's George W. Bush Puppet Show we know the odds are good that there will be more and it will be worse than what we already know---the Christian Right will not suddenly come to their senses.
The most degenerate Republican Congressman can be counted on to vote against sex, while the most saintly Liberal will vote for it.
Mark Foley doesn't prove anything to the Christian Right about Republicans they didn't already know, while his downfall only confirms what they've always believed about Liberals.
Liberals did more to deliver Mark Foley into the Devil's hands than did Republicans who let him continue to stay in those hands because Liberals would not and will not scold the country about the evils of sex.
This doesn't mean I think the Democrats should write off the small towns and rural districts where most of the conservative Christians the Right Wing Christian leadership has convinced to vote Republican live.
The fact is that their communities are falling apart.
The reasons are economic not cultural. Money is the destructive force, not sex, which is why populism not conservativism is the Democrats' best approach to winning their votes.
The issues can be, and perhaps should be, framed in moral terms.
It is immoral that we let children go without health care.
It is immoral that we make old people choose between buying medicine and buying food.
It is immoral that we make store clerks work at poverty line wages without benefits or job security so that we can save a dime on a bottle of shampoo.
It is immoral that we are unraveling the safety net, bankrupting the treasury, poisoning the land, and sticking our grandchildren with the bill and the job of cleaning up our mess just so that the already obscenely rich can pocket another few million bucks.
It is immoral that we are letting our roads crumble, our bridges rust, our dams and levees crack and leak and break, our schools collapse, our entire infrasctructure go to wrack and ruin just so that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's billionaire pals can buy another yacht.
It is immoral that we are sending the sons and daughters of the poor and the lower middle class, of the small rural towns and the wounded inner cities to fight and die in a war to save George Bush's ego.
All this we can and we should say and are saying.
We just aren't ever going to say that Mark Foley's sin was wanting sex.
So we shouldn't be surprised if we find while we are saying everything else, they aren't listening.
Hat tips to Avedon Carol, Susie Madrak, Neddie Jingo, and Atrios.
Cross-posted at the American Street.
Woodward, the insider’s insider, practices the ultimate form of access journalism. Important people want to talk to him. They’ll spend hours with him, spilling their guts, answering his every question, opening their memories up to his probing to the point that small details that you wouldn’t have expected made it past the filters in a source’s short-term memory, like what color tie someone was wearing when Woodward’s source bumped into him in the hallway outside the Oval Office a year ago, like long-repressed but psychologically key childhood dreams.
“By God!” you can imagine the source exclaiming, “He was wearing a blue tie that day! And it was askew! I knew there was something that told me how worried he was about the President’s indifference to the terrorist threat!”
Woodward thinks like a biographer and tries to write like a novelist and the result is that in his books he tells stories. I like stories. But stories aren’t driven by analysis; they’re driven by themes carried along a narrative arc that is drawn by the actions of the main characters.
And Woodward is a self-effacing storyteller, not quite Joyce’s God-like narrator standing offstage in the wings, paring his nails, he’s watching the performances of his characters as raptly as a stage mother whose little darling is making her debut; but he does keep out of his characters’ way, leaving them to tell their stories themselves.
Consequently, his books are dominated by the best storytellers among his sources, and the narrative arc is drawn by the stories they want to tell.
A knock on Woodward is that his books are too flattering to his sources. But this isn’t because Woodward is a sycophant. It’s because his sources flatter themselves. People are vain. We are all inclined to flatter ourselves or at least put ourselves in the best possible light. Add to this this that it’s pretty easy to guess from the self-flattering details who Woodward’s sources are, and his sources know this going in, they know they have an audience to whom they are not anonymous and certain members of that audience have thin skins and a lot of power, so Woodward’s sources have the temptation and the incentive to flatter other people.
Woodward’s last two books in what's now a series, Bush at War and, not nearly as uncritically, Plan of Attack, told stories George Bush and Dick Cheney wanted told about themselves. Bush and Cheney were two of Woodward’s sources and Woodward’s other sources felt they needed to tell him flattering stories about the President and the Vice-President.
It’s important to note that, according to the New York Times, neither Bush nor Cheney were interviewed for State of Denial, and it appears that Woodward’s sources, many of whom were most likely sources for Bush at War and Plan of Attack, didn’t feel called upon to tell any more flattering stories about Bush and Cheney.
In other words, while State of Denial may be a sign that Bob Woodward has at last gotten fed up and decided to go back to being the hard-hitting journalist he was when he and Carl Bernstein faced down the Nixon White House, it’s more likely a signal that there’s been a sea change in Washington.
The insiders’ insiders’ insiders who are Woodward’s sources are now willing to state, if not on record then in a forum where their identities can be guessed, that George Bush has presided over one of the greatest foreign policy screw-ups in American history.
This means that some very important people are no longer worried about what George Bush and Dick Cheney think of them.
It means that some very important people no longer think that it’s in their best interest to be on Bush and Cheney’s side.
It means that some very important people are so appalled and outraged and scared by the Bush Leaguers’ mistakes, blockheadedness, corruption, and incompetence that they can’t keep quiet about it any longer.
It means that George Bush and Dick Cheney and Karl Rove have lost control of the story. They are no longer driving the narrative.
The Washington Post has begun publishing excerpts from State of Denial.
Cross-posted at the American Street.
Haven't written anything on ABC's The Path to 9/11 because the good folks at ABC said it would be wrong to criticize a show I haven't seen, even though the reason I haven't seen it is that I am not a Right Wing media shill like Rush or Hugh with a large audience made up of the only people left in America who believe that George Bush knows what he's doing and think that everything that has gone wrong for Bush is really Bill Clinton's fault and who are therefore the only suckers ABC can count on to watch The Path 9/11.
But after making sure the suckers were hooked, ABC let some real journalists and television critics watch it.
Turns out that besides being full of lies...um, sorry...dramatic license, it's not even good bad TV. It's dreck. Amateurish dreck.
Doug Elfman of the Chicago Sun-Times writes:
Controversy could boost viewership, except "Path" is the dullest, worst-shot TV movie since ABC’s disastrous "Ten Commandments" remake. It substitutes shaky handheld cameras and dumb dialogue for craftsmanship. It could not be more amateurish or poorly constructed unless someone had forgotten to light the sets.
Then he gets mean.
Tom Shales is only a little kinder.
In an attempt to layer a coat of visual veracity over the film, it's shot in the style of some news footage -- the hand-held camera jerking, bouncing, panning wildly. Faces are framed in absurdly intense close-up, so intense it's not always easy to tell whom you're looking at. The gratuitous camera movement and the insistence on reducing people to eyes or noses or mouths become oppressive after only two hours, much less five. This isn't cinematography; it's vivisection.
They're not good at them because they didn't train for them.
They didn't work at becoming filmmakers.
They didn't become filmmakers to be filmmakers. They became filmmakers to make propaganda, which they believe is the same as art.
Naturally, both are proteges of David Horowitz.
Regular readers of Michael Berube are familiar with Horowitz. He’s the once upon a time 60s radical turned Right Wing kulturkampfer whose pet cause is discrediting American universities. According to Horowitz, America’s institutions of higher education are really secret re-education camps established to indoctrinate students in Leftist thought.
His long-term goal is to bully college presidents into muzzling their professors, but the present benefit is that any conservative students who feel their prejudices being challenged in a classroom can dismiss the facts doing the challenging as “biased.” Also, C-student conservatives who have handed their profs evidence of their mediocrity in the form of badly written, poorly researched term papers have an excuse not to have to admit to their own averageness—“The professor had it in for me because I’m a conservative and she’s biased.”
Horowitz did not change his thinking when he changed sides.
At bottom, which, shallow thinker that he is, you can touch without getting your hand wet above the wrist, he’s always been a Soviet-style Marxist whose fondest political dream has apparently been the establishment of a totalitarian regime with himself as commissar of culture, propaganda, and re-education, a title that would be tautological by his own definition of any of those words.
Good crypto-Stalinists know that art, ideas, facts, and scholarship are all merely tools to be used to gain power and control the masses.
At one time it looked as though a revolution by the extreme Left was Horowitz’s best bet for getting what he wanted. By the 80s it had become clear that the Right was a more comfortable place for dogmatists and authoritarians of every stripe and the Right Wingers had a simpler plan for achieving power—Buy it.
Behind Horowitz’s push for a purge in academia, besides the belief that facts and truth matter only in their usefulness to the ruling powers, is the assumption that pretty much anybody can be a college professor.
If a university wanted to hire more Horowitz-approved Right Wing hacks, it could sign them up by the dozen—if only search committees weren’t so particular about things like grade point averages and where applicants went to grad school and how much a potential hire had published and in what peer-reviewed venues.
What’s missing in Horowitz’s view of how the world works is work.
He apparently has no clue that aspiring professionals in any field have to work at it, long and hard, and what gets them through all the years of struggle and toil is dedication.
Talent and brains are not enough. You have to want to be whatever is you are training to be.
The applicant pool is self-selected early on. Young architects want to design buildings. Young doctors want to practice medicine. Young academics want to immerse themselves in their subjects. Young artists want to paint and sculpt.
And young filmmakers want to make movies.
This is so obvious that it sounds trite to say it.
But it’s not obvious, not to most people.
In America we have an old folk tradition that teaches us that any ordinary man or woman with a knack and a will can do any job and do it better than a whole passel of so-called pro-fessionals.
The Monday Morning Quarterback as a type goes back to the days long before there was football.
“I tell you, Jed. If I was in Washington’s boots and I wanted to cross some dadblamed half-froze river late at night in the middle of winter, you can bet I’d a knowed better’n to do it in a snowstorm!”
The country’s full of people who think that if they just got the chance...
If somebody just made them mayor, then, boy, they’d have this city running right in no time.
If somebody just hired them as manager the Red Sox would be back in the pennant race in a week.
If they ran this company they'd have it back in the black by the end of the quarter.
If they had time to sit down at a keyboard they’d pound out a bestselling novel.
If you handed them a microphone they’d show the world what real singing is.
If they got their hands on a camera, well, engrave their name on the Oscar now.
I call it The American Idol Syndrome. Nevermind the fact that most of the finalists on that show have put years into honing their skills, the show’s popularity is based on the idea that any of us can be a superstar if we just got the chance.
And despite the rise of MBA programs, for most of the last hundred and fifty years or so, the business world worked on the principle that it wasn’t what you know but who you know, it didn’t matter what courses you took in school, it mattered what house you pledged.
Chances were handed out like party favors...to the right sort of person.
The Republican Party, a wholly owned subsidy of Corporate America Inc., has operated on the same principle and the Bush Administration is the apotheosis of the Greek Guide to Better Business.
Give the job to the son or daughter of the guy you went to school with.
The idea is that anybody of the right background is born with all the qualifications needed to do any job, talent, education, experience, or evidence of past incompetence be damned.
Their handing over the job of reconstructing Iraq to young party appartchiks demonstrated how well this works.
But the assumption persists.
As I said, an ideologically-driven pseudo-thinker like Horowitz doesn’t distinguish between education and indoctrination or between art and propaganda. Facts are only tools and you pick the tools you need to do the job you want to do and ignore the rest.
Idealogogues* like Horowitz can’t imagine that anyone else thinks differently.
So they assume that when a liberal historian writes a book, that book is biased. When a liberal college professor puts together a syllabus, that syllabus is a blueprint for political indoctrination. And when a liberal director makes a movie, the movie is a piece of propaganda.
They can’t imagine that people might be motivated by ideals and ethics that have nothing to do with their politics. They can’t imagine that there are people who are more loyal to their own talent or to their art or their chosen discipline or to truth than to their political beliefs.
They can’t imagine a historian who’d rather get the history right than draw the politically correct conclusions, a professor who wants to help students open their minds and think for themselves, a filmmaker who wants to make a good movie even if it means creating sympathetic portrayals of people they don’t like or whose views they don’t share.
The cells of Manchurian filmmakers Horowitz and other Right Wingers are trying to build in Hollywood to subvert the industry from within are going to be filled with people like the director and writer of The Path to 9/11, partisan hacks too arrogant to pursue the proper schooling and apprenticeships they need to really learn their trades, too ideologically motivated to understand the difference between making a movie, even a schlocky docudrama for network television, and a commercial to be shown at party rallies to inspire the already brainwashed.
Sources: Avedon Carol, Firedoglake, ThinkProgress, Shakespeare's Sister, Tom Tomorrow, Seeing the Forest, Susie Madrak, Atrios, Kevin Hayden, Glenn Greenwald, The Agonist, Orcinus, digby, and Carolyn Kay.
Cross-posted at the American Street.
Apparently, if you are an admirer of Joe Lieberman's method of practicing bipartisanship, none.
Lieberman’s defeat is likely to add to the partisanship and bitterness that divides the country and Capitol Hill, and to generate more media attention to grassroots bomb-throwers who, down the road, are likely to make the party less appealing to swing voters and moderates.
I'm sure I'm the last in a long line of bombthrowers to point out that the definition of bipartisanship ought not to be that Republicans get to say jump and Democrats have to reply, "How high?"
I'm also far from the first to point out that the country is becoming less and less bitterly divided every day and more and more in agreement that Geoge Bush and the Republicans have screwed things up badly and that we have to throw them and their lackeys and enablers like Joe Lieberman out if we want anything to get better, not just in Iraq but here at home.
And everybody from Somerby to Alterman to Atrios to David Neiwert to Digby and on down the food chain to the lowliest of the low---I mean me---has again and again expresed their frustration, dismay, and anger at the way insider pundits, politicians, and analysts insist on covering politics as if they live in a universe where Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Roger Ailes of Fox News (not the good Roger Ailes) and the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, and before them Lee Atwater, Morton Downey Jr, Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Joe McCarthy, and Father Coughlin, had all never been born and as if the poisoned state of political debate was the result of a Democratically transmitted infection, a bug Democrats keep catching because they refuse to wear their galoshes in the rain and then spread by forgetting to cover their mouths when they cough.
It's this willful obtuseness, this refusal to acknowledge reality in the form of the Right Wing of the Republican Party, which is in effect the only wing of the Republican Party on the national level, that drives us "crazies" on the left side of the bandwidth crazy about the Media elites.
Rothenberg also writes, "Lamont’s victory, however, would not be without its downside for Democrats, since it would only embolden the crazies in the party..."
As far as a Lieberman defeat emboldening the crazies (to do what exactly?) goes: Anyone who thinks that Lieberman is being driven into a corner and, with luck, out of the United States Senate, by McGovernite crazies of the lefty blososphere is someone who is covering the Connectictut Senate race via Google.
Hartford isn't that far from Washington, folks. Make the drive.
And the people who are going to be most emboldened are rank and file Democrats who will see that the Bush League lock on the country isn't unbreakable. A Lieberman defeat, particularly if he comes to his senses and gives up the idea of an embarrassing run as an independent, could be the earliest sign of just how if the Democrats are going to win back a majority in one or both houses of Congress they're going to do it.
By a lot of Northeasterners, Midwesterners, and Westerners giving up the idea that bipartisanship isn't what the Republicans have turned it into and voting out of office supposed moderates who haven't done anything to moderate the Right Wing policies of George W. Bush and company.
There's no way to read that paragraph about bipartisanship by Rothenberg without wondering if Rothenberg, a self-proclaimed "non-partistan" analyst, thinks that the best outcome for the country in the fall is for a continued and unrestrained Republican majority aided and abetted by Joe Lieberman with the rest of the Democrats finally shutting up and learning their place, which is, as Lieberman demonstrates for them everyday, on their hands and knees somewhere down on the floor a tongue's length distance from George W. Bush's cowboy boots.
Cross-posted at the American Street.
About Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. What Kevin Hayden said. Say it loud, say it often:
“The Supreme Court determined Bush broke the law and said the president’s criminal behavior must stop.”
Yeah, I'm a few days late. Sometimes, though, I blog just to help myself catch up.
CNN reported that the reason Chief Justice John Roberts recused himself from Hamdan v. Rumsfeld is that as an appeals court justice he had ruled against the government when the case was before him.
Roberts, of course, ruled for the government in that case. It's kinda how he got his current job.
(Emphasis added. And see Susie Madrak for the LA Times' take on the SCOTUS ruling itself.)
Duncan's right, that ruling is what cinched a spot on Supreme Court bench for Roberts. Karl Rove and Dick Cheney sat right up and took notice.
"Why, look, Dick, there's a judge after our own hearts, if I may use the word when talking about a pair of cardiologically-deprived bastards like us."
"Heh heh heh, Karl. You are the wag. No wonder Time magazine fawns all over your ass. But you are right about this Roberts kid. He likes himself a dictatorship almost as much as we do. What do you say we do something for him. What've we got open?"
But I think CNN got it right, though probably unconsciously.
The goverment is the three-part system of checks and balances and the rule of law that is the United States Constitution realized and brought to life. John Roberts ruled in favor of the Bush Administration, which wants to be the government all by itself. Roberts ruled that the way is clear for President Bush to make himself the government whenever he feels like it.
The Supreme Court said, Sorry, George (and Dick and Karl), the old government still runs the show and you have to operate as a part of it and answerable to it.
Or as Lt Cmdr Charles Swift, Salim Ahmed Hamdan's lawyer told Chris Matthews:
At stake was the rule of law. The president had staked out a position that was contrary both to international law and to our domestic statutes in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. What the court did was say that even the president has to follow the law.
So this is why I say CNN got it right. Roberts ruled against our system of government.
My quick take is that it's certainly an important symbolic victory, but this administration's contempt for the law, the constitution, and the balance/separation of powers that our system rests on isn't going to be very affected by what 5 people in black robes say. They've ignored Congress and they'll ignore the Court too...
Cross-posted at the American Street.
Iddybud has some more thoughts plus good video here, and then raises another sobering concern here. The Heretik elaborates upon a part of that concern---right now, Anthony Kennedy is all that stands between us and a Bush Leauge Supreme Court.
Read the Hardball transcript and watch the video John Amato's posted at Crooks and Liars.
While you're there, just for fun, though you've probably already seen it, watch the video of Robin Williams on the Tonight Show talking about Rush's little problem.
"I cain't quit you, Rush!"
It's been a long time since most newspapers outside of the major cities employed their own movie critics. Instead, they run severely edited reviews by celebrity critics like Roger Ebert and a couple of syndicated "feature" articles about Brad and Angelina so there'll be a page in the paper where the local cineplexes can place their ads and that's it for the movies.
Now and then they'll do a spread on the next big summer blockbuster that boiled down usually has no other point than "Hey, a lot of folks will be going to see this movie! You should be one of them!"
I've been lucky in that although it's been a long time since I lived in a real city I've always lived close enough to one to be able to buy its newspapers off any local newstand. This was sanity-saving back when I lived in Iowa City and then Fort Wayne, Indiana, where, in both places, my other daily paper was The Chicago Tribune.
My time in Fort Wayne coincided with the first five of Dave Kehr's seven years as the Tribune's chief movie critic. Fort Wayne had its charms, but it wasn't a movie-goer's paradise---that didn't stop the blonde and I from seeing an average of two movies a week---but if I couldn't see some of the more interesting and offbeat movies coming down the pike, I could at least read some very fine writing about them.
Depressing to report that Kehr is seeing the small citification of big city newspapers' movie sections:
Apparently concerned that its demographics were drifting distressingly upward, the Daily News has decided not to review the contract of veteran movie reviewer Jami Bernard. She is, however, being required to work through the end of the month, at which point her contract will expire and, according to features editor Orla Healy, an exciting new dimension in Daily News film coverage will make its debut. Translated, this means that the DN has gotten rid of one more of those pesky, individual voices that keep gumming up the paper’s stated mission to be as bland and toothless as possible, to avoid roiling those mysteriously faithful readers who continue to buy the creaky tabloid out of habit. I imagine the exciting new vision for film coverage will involve a lot less movie reviews and a lot more “exclusive” profiles of movie stars, carefully assembled by underpaid freelance writers at grim, debasing junket round-tables.
A few thoughts though.
One. The corporate types who run most newspapers these days don't care about newspapers any more than the corporate types who run the car makers care about cars or the corporate types who run shoe companies care about shoes or the corporate types who run any business care about what that business actually makes or does to make its money. To them, there is only one product: their own bank account.
But before the corporate types came along, when newspapers were run by newsmen (and a handful of newswomen), the features sections of the paper were looked down upon by the real reporters and editors on the City desk. Even now, the newsmen and women who run the day to day operations of the paper for the corporate types and who, because the corporate types can't be looking over their shoulders all the time, often still run them as if they were newspapers and not just a medium to carry advertisting, still hold their features departments in contempt.
There are and have been exceptions. The Philadelphia Inquirer's feature section used to rival some magazines in its breadth, content, intelligence, and talent of its writers. And when the blonde and I first arrived in Fort Wayne the paper she worked for had its four most talented writer/reporters assigned to its features desk (including Nancy Nall's husband, Alan.) But when editors and publishers start looking to rein in their budgets, they tend to look at their features departments the way drivers of bulldozers look at a house standing in the way of a new bypass.
This is too bad, because news editors tend to have a very limited idea of what's important. Car crashes, political scandals, and wars---a day without any of these is a day without sunshine for them.
Meanwhile, normal human beings tend to think that things like movies and books and where to go to get something to eat are pretty interesting and important parts of our daily lives.
Two. Newspapers cannot survive without advertisting, therefore they have to make themselves attractive to advertisers. Most people who read newspapers are old. Advertisers don't like old people. Old people don't spend money as foolishly as young people. So newspapers need to increase the numbers of their younger readers and routinely go into panic mode trying to think up ways to do it.
But why, oh why, does there every idea about how to do it focus on younger people who don't read?
Since the launch of USA Today, newspapers all over America have been dumbing themselves down in an effort to attract readers who don't like newspapers. Missing the point that USA Today's appeal has been to people who don't have time to read the newspaper at the moment, they've aimed at people who can't be bothered to read a newspaper and tried to make their papers over to be less difficult to read for people who find reading the menus at McDonald's a chore.
While doing their damndest to make readers out of non-readers, they began to shed even more actual readers---people who like newspapers and who like to read won't pick up the local McPaper when they can grab a copy of the New York Times off the same newstand.
Turning the movie and features sections into one and two page versions of People Magazine and then into one page versions of Tigerbeat and BOP won't do anything but drive away intelligent younger people who actually like to read about movies.
Chasing the teenaged fans of this week's favorite flavor is an old trend now. It's been going on long enough for it to have proven several times over that it doesn't work.
Kehr saw this happening at the New York Daily News when he worked there in the 1990s:
A Murdoch protégé, known as The Beaver for her indecorous way of straddling a chair in her fashionably short skirt, took over the department, and before any of the out-of-town eggheads knew what had happened, we were being asked to cover the adventures of the Spice Girls and worse, in our formerly, if briefly, pristine pages. Work being as hard as it was (and is) to come by in New York publishing, I and many of my colleagues bit the collective bullet and stayed on at the News, through a long series of knuckle-dragging editors-in-chief. Zuckerman would bring them in from Fleet Street or Texas, those two bastions of journalistic excellence, put them in total charge of the paper and then can them a few months later, when they mysteriously failed to reverse the paper’s decline in advertising and circulation by introducing ever more intense coverage of Donald Trump and Amy Fisher.
Probably safe to say that Spice Girl fans did not drop everything to start reading the Daily News.
Three. Writing about movies is a tricky undertaking for newspapers, because everything in the paper, even feature stories, has to be news. Features departments have to write about what's happening now, and what's happening now in the world of the movies is deals are being completed to get future movies made and marketing is underway to sell movies that have been made.
Also, movie stars are getting in trouble in their personal lives.
News about the movies is news about money, advertising, and gossip.
There's one other thing going on.
Movies are being made.
The most interesting part of the movie making business---making the movies---is the part that I would find the most interesting to write about.
There are two problems with that. To write about movies being made you have to write about people at work and people who are working, particularly disciplined, highly motivated, focused people, do not like to be interrupted.
They do like to talk about themselves and their work in their off hours, though, so that problem can be solved pretty easily if you can solve the other problem---getting access.
You can't practice journalism without access. I don't mean the kind of access that the elite political journalists and pundits in DC have addicted themselves to. They don't need that to do their jobs, they need that to feel important. But even if they could bring themselves to tell the powerbrokers granting them the one kind of access thanks, but no thanks, they still need access of another kind---they need to be able to talk to people who are working in the government.
They can have that whenever they want and as much as they want if they're willing to work for it and give up their cocktail party friends.
But getting access to people who make movies is harder than getting access to members of Congress. The Hollywood Publicity Machine is more controlling and more vindictive than Karl Rove.
That's because the Industry doesn't see itself as in the business of making movies, at least not mainly or exclusively.
At the Oscars they like to say they are in the business of making dreams.
What they are in the business of is making and selling a dream world to people whose real worlds aren't all that much fun.
Movies are only a part of that dream world.
The other part of it is Celebrity.
Hollywood is selling vicarious fame, vicarious wealth, vicarious beauty, and vicarious sex.
Brad and Angelina might be perfectly happy to talk about their work instead of their baby, but if they did the Marketing Department would go into a collective swoon, because Brad and Angelina might reveal Hollywood's best kept secret.
Movie actors are not like us.
They aren't even like the us we would be if we had their youth and beauty and money and fame.
You know why?
They are actors.
They have a talent.
After you're done checking out the good writing about movies at Dave Kehr's site (and make sure you read his comments), go read Chuck Tryon's reports from the American Film Institute and Discovery Channel's documentary film festival, Silverdocs, in DC.
And Rob Farley's been thinking about John Ford's The Searchers and seeing parallels to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. He makes the case that the John Wayne character, Ethan Edwards, is the American Kurtz.
Cross-posted at the American Street.
Today's my day for posting at the American Street. Here are the opening grafs of this morning's effort:
Context is all, and when a guy going through a rough divorce, finding out his best friend is dating his soon to be ex-wife, turns on his pal and shouts, “Judas!” he’s perhaps being a tad more literary than most guys in his situation would be who’d reach for a bar stool to clobber their former friend with before they’d reach for a biblical allusion, but he’s still got a point.
No one who heard this would think he saw himself as Jesus on his way to Golgotha.
Everybody would know exactly what he meant and how he feels.
But when Right Wing bloggers call people who are critical of President Bush Judases, they are not being merely poetic. They are in earnest. They mean the comparisons to be taken literally. Dissent is treason, treason is sin, Bush is a Christian hero, and Liberals are as damnable as the worst of history's traitors. They can try to adopt a reasonable if mournful tone, but there’s no disguising their meaning—criticize my hero and you deserve to spend eternity in the cold center of Hell with Satan chewing on your worthless hide for ever and ever, amen.
Please jump to the Street and read the rest of the post.
One of the Right to Life crowd's recurring tropes is women who have abortions because babies cost money better spent on plasma TVs and expensive vacations.
This is a sub-topic in the Right's general argument that there are no poor people in America because everybody can afford a TV set and dinner out at McDonalds. Poverty only exists where people live in mud huts and till the ungenerous earth with sticks. There are no poor people here, there are only lazy people and spendthrifts who don't know how to set priorities and postpone gratification.
And it's a corrollary to the Right's general anti-feminsim which argues that every woman who works---except their own wives---is a selfish careerist who has chosen to put her own vanity and self-aggrandizement over the joys and duties of wife and mother.
Out of this mouths of the Anti-choice types these ideas are expressed thus:
If you say you want an abortion because you can't afford a child, or even another child, or even a fifth child, you are either a selfish Yuppie careerist or you are one of those unfortunates who doesn't know how to budget---you could have that kid if you'd learn to buy a cheaper detergent, serve meat loaf instead of strip steak, and join Sam's Club.
And within that argument, behind the cliches, is an admirable anti-materialism.
Basically, the sentiment is that there are things far more important than money and owning stuff.
The problem is that the Right to Lifers who make this argument tend to vote Republican.
Voting Republican is first, last, and always a way of saying There is nothing more important than money and owning stuff.
Over at Liberty Street, Kathy Kattenburg has come across a letter to the editor from a Right to Lifer making the you can afford it if you put your mind to it argument, with the usual and if you can't afford it don't have sex scolding. The Right to Lifer is a mother of four who probably has had to scrimp and save, buy cheaper detergent, serve more meat loaf than her family wants to eat, and shop at Sam's Club. I'm guessing she's Catholic because she advocates "natural family planning," which the Church now pushes as the one and only men-in-skirts approved form of birth control, but which was originally thunk up by the men in skirts as a method for making lots of babies and still tends to work as designed. Catholics who practice natural family planning as a form of birth control practice it the way Hollywood stuntmen practice auto safety---you do your best to plan against an accident, but if something goes wrong you roll with it and thank God your medical insurance premiums are paid up. This woman sounds genuinely disgusted by the American lust for money money money and bigger and better toys. She's practically a budding Marxist.
As for [the] concern that it's so "expensive" and "difficult" to raise a child today as opposed to former generations of women with more children than today's modern moms, I think again that pleasure -- and its good ally, materialism -- is at the heart of this notion. Our society in general promotes two-income households with more stuff in them than prior generations ever dreamed of having.
The concept of sacrifice has been replaced with stuff, stuff and more stuff as our children are raised in day-care centers and our elderly are shuttled off to nursing homes. Our value for life at both ends of the spectrum has diminished in our society, where life is measured by its contribution, not its intrinsic worth...
On this point, Kathy and the woman are in sympathy...to a degree. If the woman is so outraged by our materialism and greed, Kathy suggests, she ought to give some thought to who promotes the pursuit of wealth and "stuff" above all and the ways they go about it. Kathy writes:
I wonder that she doesn't spend her limited writing time (four children, remember) examining what people in our society really mean when they say that war is necessary to "protect our way of life"; to "preserve our lifestyle"; to "defend our liberty." They're not talking about the freedom to borrow books from the library or surf the Web. They're not talking about the freedom to criticize Pres. Bush's policies by wearing an anti-war t-shirt to a Bush rally. They're not talking about the freedom for two consenting adults to love each other whether they are opposite genders or the same gender. They're not talking about the freedom to make your own health decisions.
"Protecting the American way of life" is code language for keeping what many Americans regard as their natural right to drive cars the size of tanks that get 10 miles to the gallon and be able to fill 'em up with cheap gasoline. It's code language for keeping the "right" to pay bargain basement prices for consumer products when the only way to do that is to have the products manufactured in countries where desperately poor people can be paid fifty cents a day to make them. It's code language, in short, for that very determination to avoid hardships, discomforts, inconveniences, and sacrifices that prior generations could not even dream of avoiding.
The American way of life is premised on leisure, comfort, convenience, and "stuff."
As I said, Right to Lifers tend to vote Republican, which means that most of them probably voted for Bush last time out, and without going too deeply into it here, you have to wonder what kind of Pro-life position is represented by the likes of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush and their private little war of vanity, greed, and vengeance in Iraq.
But beyond that, it's not just the case that we're in Thomas Frank's Kansas, where folks by voting Republican vote against their own economic survival. We live in a country where a huge block of people all across the map by voting Republican vote against their own values and virtues.
To put it simply, if you are for freedom you don't vote for the party that gives a feckless and vindictive President permission to spy on any American he wants whenever he wants.
If you are for hard work and responsibility and the virtues of thrift, prudence, self-denial and self-sacrifice, you don't vote for the party whose leadership excuses themselves, their children, and their rich friends from all of those things while letting them loot the treasury and the country of all the wealth earned by the rest of us.
If you are for freedom to worship you don't vote for the party that would let an ignorant minority impose its warped idea of Christianity on the rest of us.
And if you are against abortion, you don't vote for the party that will do nothing to stop it except write a law against it, a law that will only create a black market for abortions, safe ones for well-off women who can afford to go to Canada, deadly ones for the poor.
You vote for the party that will do the things proven to decrease the number of abortions, and decrease the ranks of unwed mothers as well---expanding economic opportunity for all not just increasing the GDP by making the already rich richer, improving our schools so that more and more young people are ready and able to take advantage of expanded opportunities, offering good health care to all mothers and their babies, the ones already here and the ones on the way, and to those babies' fathers and brothers and sisters too, and protecting the right of young women to make choices about their own lives and carve out their own destinies and thereby giving them reason and hope and plan and work for the future.
You vote for the party that won't shred the safety net, that won't make poor women feel like sharpers and chisellers when they go looking for help from their own government and use food stamps to feed their kids and won't condemn them and sneer at them and call them bad mothers when they put their children in day care so they can work to feed them and clothe them and won't tell them when they feel overwhelmed by work, and debt, and care, and stress, Too bad for you, if you can't handle it then you just shouldn't have kids.
You vote Democratic.
Unless you aren't really anti-abortion, you're just anti-women who aren't you or your wife or girlfriend having sex.
New post up at the American Street.
It's a follow up to my review of Kelly's Heroes from last week. Thinking about some of the themes in that movie and stuff I've read about World War II, I began to wonder if some of the themes I thought were pure products of the time the movie was made were actually ideas that took root in the time when the movie was set---Did the 1960s begin in 1945?
Post's called Life against Death with popcorn.
The Mannions watched Kellys Heroes, starring Clint Eastwood, for Family movie night this weekend. I had a few thoughts about it as an anti-war movie in the spirit of M*A*S*H, which I've posted over on the American Street in a post called Kelly's Heroes are my heroes.
I just don't get it, Linus.
What's the matter, Charlie Brown?
I don't understand why a Democratic Senator who already opposes the extremist Supreme Court nominee of an unpopular President and is going to vote against him anyway would be hurting himself by supporting the filibustering of that extremist Supreme Court nominee.
That's easy, Charlie Brown. Samuel Alito is not an extremist.
But all his past writings, his opinions, the entire course of his career show he's a man devoted to taking away rights from regular people and giving more power to the forces of authoritarianism. That sounds like an extremist to me.
Sounds like my sister Lucy to me.
Remind me to tell him no way if Judge Alito offers to hold a football for me to kick. But isn't the judge an extremist?
Of course not, Charlie Brown. An extremist would not have appeared at his televised hearings smiling and looking like a reasonable guy. He would have turned all red in the face at every question, fire would have come out of his nostrils, and his head would have spun completely around on his neck. He would have told the Senators when they asked him that he not only wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade, he wanted to have all women of childbearing years forcibly impregnated by their husbands and overlords. And the wife of a real extremist wouldn't have broken down in tears when a big mean old Liberal caught her husband in a lie and called him on it.
But what about President Bush? He is unpopular, isn't he?
He can't be unpopular. He's a wartime President. All wartime Presidents are popular.
But the polls...
The polls count everybody. But the only people who matter, really, are his Republican base. They love him.
So even if his approval ratings fall below 40 percent again he'll still be a popular President if his base loves him?
I'm afraid so.
But what about the Democratic base? Won't they be upset if their Senators don't oppose Alito?
The Democratic base doesn't count. The Democratic base are a bunch of overly sensitive, smug, out of touch, metrosexuals and girly men. They aren't real Americans.
Oh. So the Democratic Senators should never do anything to make their base happy because that would offend real Americans?
Sure, Charlie Brown. It's much more important that a Democratic Senator win one conservative vote than three Liberal ones. Besides, who are those three Liberals going to vote for anyway?
What if they stay home on election day because they are tired of being taken for granted and sick of their Senators never doing anything that they want them to do.
Then they are just being big babies, and that proves that they aren't real Americans. Real Americans don't pout, Charlie Brown.
But what about all those Democrats who plan to vote against Judge Alito but won't support the filibuster? If you're voting against him, doesn't that mean you don't want him to be on the Supreme Court? And if you don't want him on the Supreme Court, shouldn't you do what you can to stop him from being appointed? Shouldn't you stand up and fight for your principles?
Only Republicans have principles, Charlie Brown. The Democrats are controlled by their special interests. Whenever a Democrat takes a supposedly principled stand, he's really just kowtowing to his special interests.
So you're saying that whenever a Democrat stands up for what he believes in, he's really being weak?
So it's better when a Democrat just surrenders and lets the Republicans do whatever they want?
That's what conventional wisdom is all about, Charlie Brown.
Well, it's like the Preacher says.
You're about to smugly quote a verse from the Bible again, aren't you?
"The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the men of skill."
I can't stand it. I just can't stand it.
I have a review of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe up at The American Street, in case you're tired of looking at Uma.