Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday Sierrablogging

Lake 9900 04
Lake 9900 in Red Rock Basin, John Muir Wilderness.

Can I mention that this is the Plot of Desperate Housewives, 3rd season?

****OK, I know I said the best thing to do was to ignore Palin, but the stories going around that she essentially faked the birth of her fifth child, the down's syndrome baby, are really too good to pass up. I'm really, really, pissed off over all the right's anti choice triumphalism and Palin. Despite right wing propaganda abortion isn't a sacrament in the liberal church. There are plenty of pro-choice women and men who have chosen to give birth to, and care for, children who were "not perfect." Not only that, but there are, as I pointed out over at LGM, literally thousands of gays and lesbians, liberal single dads and moms, who have gone out of their way to adopt or foster children with developmental or social difficulties of all kinds. Not only do liberals, gays, and lesbians value the lives of their own biological children, they actually have proven again and again that they value and even exalt, protect and love the lives that other members of this majority christian society have thrown away in the foster care system.

Its unclear whether Palin even knew, before the birth, that the child would have Downs. More... If she didn't have testing, they may not have known, in which case she doesn't get any credit for making a decision of any kind. She simply went through with what she thought of as an ordinary pregnancy, and made the kind of mental and emotional adjustments that women do when they realize that the child they have isn't going to be exactly like other children. I've known plenty.

So I'm less than impressed with Palin's anti-abortion cred. And I'm not alone--see this commenter over at my old women's board. She's liberal, but not the sharpest or most reliable tack on the board, and yet she nails it:

And fawning over her b/c she decided not to abort her down syndrome baby. Another WTF. Many more parents with kids with much more severe issues than that. And give me a fucking medal too then...I refused all prenatal testing (but ultrasound) even though I was 40yo and pregnant with DS - I decided the chance of losing the baby with an amnio (1 in 200) was not worth the chance, given the only thing they can really detect is DS. And would never consider an abortion for a DS kid. Yet I'm a diehard liberal pro-choice woman. Just waiting for them to spin her as some freaking perfect mother, as if she is the only one to decide to keep a DS baby.

As for the fake pregnancy story: See here and here. If its true that her waters broke a month early while she was on a political trip in Texas and she and her husband chose to have her a) make the speech and b) get on an eight hour flight back to Alaska, followed by a long drive back to Wasilla, before giving birth to the baby in a small local hospital then she was either trying to abort that baby by neglecting ordinary standards of medical care or she wasn't actually pregnant and was trying to get back to the hospital in time to receive the baby her 16 year old daughter was having. I had "low amniotic fluid" and they wanted to give me a c section *while I was in labor*. No one leaks amniotic fluid a month early and doesn't rush to the nearest hospital.


***Oh, forgot my real purpose in posting which was to beg Tbogg to bring back America's Worst Mother (tm) and her children--he won't even need to make up names for trig, track, willow and palindrome.


I love this campaign. This is the way to go--the only way to go. Pam Spaulding at The Blend and Pandagon is freaking out because Obama didn't say "this stupid bitch don't know shit and is a right wing nut" but watch the clip, and watch the ad, and marvel at the strategic brilliance of it:

Obama/Biden on Sixty Minutes, (text of transcript borrowed from Pandagon). You really have to watch and listen to the whole thing to hear Obama basically destroy Palin as a choice with almost southern delicacy. As I explained to my mother when Bill Clinton pauses and sticks his tongue in the side of his mouth its a tell that he is about to draw on his reserves of southern charm to say the unforgiveable and the unbeatably cruel, along the lines of "she's the stupidest woman on earth bless her heart."

“What do you think of Senator McCain’s vice presidential choice? And how does it change the dynamics of this campaign?” Kroft asked.

“Well, I don’t know Governor Palin, I have not met her before. I had a brief conversation with her after she was selected to congratulate her and wish her luck - but, not too much luck! - on the campaign trial. And she seems to have a compelling life story. Obviously, she’s a fine mother and a up-and-coming public servant,” Obama said. “So, it’s too early for me to gauge what kind of running mate she’ll be.

Commenters over at Pandagon largely disagree, with Mnemosyne and Charles both linking to the new ad "No Change" and Charles observing that this is the way to go:

Obama’s new ad. The opening plays nicely off the “Sarah Palin? Who? Seriously?” vibe, and then switches over to “And?”

My brother and I were discussing strategy yesterday and we are agreed--though mysteriously the Obama campaign has yet to call us--that ignoring Palin is the way to go. People who are going to vote for her because they are single issue voters are going to vote for her regardless. Most people are voting for the top slot, McCain, and discrediting him makes her unpalatable and unchoosable as effectively. She brings McCain something--apparently conservative men like her, most women don't, but she can be a millstone around his neck with centrist swing voters.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Affirmative Action

This is how Republican affirmative action works. Republicans understand 'affirmative action' to mean the promotion of less-qualified women or minorities over better-qualified white men--the unspoken assumption being that women and minorities are inherently less qualified than white men. When it becomes advantageous to them to make a show of respect for people who aren't white males, they practice their own grotesque caricature of affirmative action: they find some under-qualified woman or minority member (the more ideologically pure, the better), and promote him or her to some position for which he or she is woefully unready.

Exhibit A: Clarence Thomas. Exhibit B: Harriet Miers. Exhibit C: Sarah Palin.

This is a win-win-win for the Republicans. More... When people criticize the person's lack of qualifications, or their ideoligical rigidity, it can be spun as hypocrisy ("Democrats say they're pro-[whatever], but only if the [whatever] toes the Democrat party line"). If the person in question doesn't fail miserably, they can point to him or her as evidence that the GOP isn't actively hostile to women and minorities. If the person does fail miserably, they can say "see? this is why affirmative action is bad."

Of course, all of this has nothing whatsoever to do with real affirmative action, and nothing to do with governing. Doesn't matter; they live inside their own caricature of the world, where the choice of Sarah Palin for vice president (for example) is brilliant, and not an insult to women or an elevation of political advantage over the good of the country.

My LTE on Palin, Can't say if it will get published

Maverick or Poor Impulse Control?

John McCain's choice of Governor Sarah Palin for Vice President is a shocking display of poor impulse control. As an elderly cancer survivor, just turning 72, McCain, sadly, has an extremely high probability of dying or becoming mentally incapacitated in office. He knows that his Vice Presidential pick may be forced to step in and finish the wars and policies that he plans to start. Imagine if after delivering another swaggering, bellicose, verbal attack on Russia, Iraq, or Iran President McCain were to drop dead of a heart attack. Is Sarah Palin even close to knowing what to do to follow through on his threats? He and his advisers have admitted choosing Palin primarily to shore up the religious right base and to squelch Obama's convention bounce. In other words--they have chosen deliberately to put a temporary, even week long, media and electoral advantage over the country's long term interest. In military terms this is called putting tactics over strategy. In business terms this is the equivalent of driving yourself into bankruptcy by trying to undercut your competitor in a foolish weekend sale. Perhaps this pick is to McCain's short term electoral benefit but there is no way that it is to the benefit of the American people. There is no way that this former runner up beauty queen, this "Miss Congeniality" of the anti science set, this "elk hunting" former mayor of the smallest town in the US, is ready for the second highest position in the land. With one reckless choice McCain has made a mockery of his claim to put country first, and, frankly, brought into question his judgment on everything else.

(And yes, I know that at 5000-8000 its not the smallest town, but what the hell?)

Flower Shadow

Flower Shadow
Early morning at 12th & Balboa.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Random Ten

Smithereens - Cigarette
Wire - Feeling Called Love
New Order - Hurt
Thin White Rope - Fish Song
M-1 Alternative - Regards to Oblivion
Eno - Just Another Day
Art Brut - Good Weekend
Kid Loco - If It's Monday Morning
Dead Moon - Dead in the Saddle
Essential Logic - Moontown

Who's up for another CD swap? This concept is less involved than the last one, and less nebulous than the next one, so if you've been reluctant to join this is the time. Details (plus a bonus video from my Random 10) below the fold.
In comments to Steve's guilty pleasures post, there was almost as much talk about cover versions as there was about the songs themselves. Which makes sense, if you think about it: the best literary adaptations are made from mediocre novels (Godfather, anyone?); the best remakes are of movies that weren't very good the first time; and the best cover versions are of the cheesiest songs.

So this time, your CDs will be all cover versions--covers that you like better than the original. (More or less; if a few great covers of great originals slip in, that's okay too.) The cheesier the original, the better.

Let me know in comments if you're interested.

And here's the bonus video:

The First Day of the Rest of the Campaign

A couple more random thoughts about the speech below the fold (I'll likely add to this over the course of the day)...

  • Of course it wasn't just about policy (or, as Hogan aptly puts it, about governing); it was also about rallying the troops. I have a feeling, completely unsubstantiated except by anecdote, that there was an enormous mood swing over the last two days--from depression and panic to, at the end of last night, the sense that this is an unstoppable force. It isn't, of course--it's still going to be a tough fight--but Obama delivered on the hope in a big way, and I get the feeling people are energized as they have never been before.

  • Prompted by an e-mail correspondend, Josh Marshall links to his initial reaction to Obama's 2004 convention speech. I like his closing:
    Every great public speaker has an emotional touchstone, a tenor that resonates through all they say and do. Clinton's was empathy and expressive emotion -- something that many people gravitated to irresistibly, and others recoiled from. In that regard, Obama seems altogether different. That Clintonite element is barely present with him. The hallmarks are grace and power, even force. (Watch the hands and the eyes.) And that worked well with last night's invocation of national unity.
    Grace and power are, I think, exactly the right words for what Obama projects at his best.

  • Part of Obama's extraordinary success is that he makes people feel good about themselves--not in a psychobabble 'I'm okay, you're okay' kind of way, but in an 'I can have an impact, and I'm important to the process' kind of way. It occurred to me this morning that there are other people who look at Obama and feel bad about themselves, and that this is part of the intense negative reaction we see. (Xenophobia and racism: also part of it. This is something different.) Just as a lot of people see the choices Obama has made (community organizer, etc.) as inspiring, a lot of other people see them as an implicit critique of their own lives; large-scale grassroots involvement in the political process is an implicit critique of those who choose not to get involved, or don't really care.

  • As I've said before, I have no idea at all how to gauge how 'normal' people will react to something like this. Looking around this morning, I'm happily surprised to see so many in the news media respond so positively (check out Alex Castellanos at TPM for real entertainment). This online discussion at the WaPo is helpful, I think, for an insight into how 'normal' people reacted.

Terror Alert!!!

RED ALERT...RED ALERT: Romney, out? Pawlenty, out? Palin, out?

Could the last man standing for GOP VP be Bush's former terror stooge, baby-killer Tom Ridge? Or Bush's current terror stooge, baby-killer Joe Lieberman?

Heaven forfend! Stay tuned right here for more.

Update: It's Palin. Which will seriously ratchet down the wingnut terror level -- she's not just pro-life but a 44 year-old mother of five, including a four month-old child with Downs Syndrome. It's become apparent to me from my regular readings at The Corner, where they've taken lately to accusing Obama of INFANTICIDE in all caps, that abortion is pretty much all they've got.

Abortion is it for conservatives, that is, except for the "experience" issue. With which it turns out conservatives have actually always been at war.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Now's the Time to Have Some Big Ideas; Now's the Time to Make Some Firm Decisions

I think Obama did, once again, as he always seems to when it really counts, a tremendous job. It wasn't the rhetorical brilliance of 2004, but that wasn't what he was after. What he was after was a policy speech--a rousing, stirring policy speech, but still--a policy speech. A speech to put an end once and for all to the ignorant carping about all form and no substance, all rhetoric and no detail.

Once he was standing there in front of the set, all of that brain-dead Republican crap about the 'Greek temple' was exposed as the nonsense we always knew it was. The hand-wringing about the move to Invesco Field didn't make a lot of sense either, when it came down to the speech; Obama is one of a very few politicians who can fill a space like that--not fill as in put a butt in every seat, although that's something McCain can't seem to do, but fill as in have a presence such that the space doesn't diminish him.

And yet he didn't leave himself open to the brain-dead 'celebrity' attack, either. He addressed it head-on, but even without that it was clear: this is a guy who inspires a tremendous amount of adulation, but he's not just a 'celebrity'. This is someone who thinks long and hard about what the right thing to do is, who is motivated not by a mere desire to run things but by a desire to govern--to govern well, wisely, and justly, as he understands these things. This was a speech about policy. Agree or disagree with him, but I think most of us can at least be a little happy at the prospect of a thoughtful, intelligent president who really cares about doing the right thing.

Your thoughts?

Bad News/Good News

First the bad news:

Lesbian rights pioneer Del Martin, whose trailblazing activism spanned more than five decades, most recently in the battle for same-sex marriage, died Wednesday, just two months after she made history again by wedding her longtime partner in San Francisco City Hall....

Ms. Martin's crusading began in 1955, during an era in America known more for social conformity than for rebellion, when she co-founded a lesbian social-turned-political organization, Daughters of Bilitis, named after a 19th century book of lesbian love poetry.

This year, on June 16, she and her partner of 55 years, Phyllis Lyon, were legally wed.
Now the good news:
The gap between those who support and those who oppose same-sex marriage is closing, and a poll indicates that backing for a proposition to ban such marriages is lagging....

The results suggest that 54 percent of likely voters will say no to Proposition 8, the proposal to ban same-sex marriage, come November.
I can't think of any more fitting tribute to Del Martin's extraordinary life than defeating Proposition 8.

Who Can We Trust to Keep America Safe?

I spent about half of John Kerry's speech half-listening from the next room as I did a hasty post about Clinton's. I figured, John Kerry, how interesting could that be? I was wrong, and Josh Marshall is right: it was a great speech, a dead-on attack on the myth of the maverick and on the idea that time-serving 'experience' matters more than judgment.

Key excerpt below the fold...


I have known and been friends with John McCain for almost 22 years. But every day now I learn something new about candidate McCain. To those who still believe in the myth of a maverick instead of the reality of a politician, I say, let's compare Senator McCain to candidate McCain. Candidate McCain now supports the wartime tax cuts that Senator McCain once denounced as immoral. Candidate McCain criticizes Senator McCain's own climate change bill. Candidate McCain says he would now vote against the immigration bill that Senator McCain wrote. Are you kidding? Talk about being for it before you're against it.

Let me tell you, before he ever debates Barack Obama, John McCain should finish the debate with himself. And what's more, Senator McCain, who once railed against the smears of Karl Rove when he was the target, has morphed into candidate McCain who is using the same "Rove" tactics and the same "Rove" staff to repeat the same old politics of fear and smear. Well, not this year, not this time. The Rove-McCain tactics are old and outworn, and America will reject them in 2008.

So remember, when we choose a commander-in-chief this November, we are electing judgment and character, not years in the Senate or years on this earth. Time and again, Barack Obama has seen farther, thought harder, and listened better. And time and again, Barack Obama has been proven right.

When John McCain stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier just three months after 9/11 and proclaimed, "Next up, Baghdad!", Barack Obama saw, even then, "an occupation of "undetermined length, undetermined cost, undetermined consequences" that would "only fan the flames of the Middle East." Well, guess what? Mission accomplished.

So who can we trust to keep America safe? When Barack Obama promised to honor the best traditions of both parties and talk to our enemies, John McCain scoffed. George Bush called it "the soft comfort of appeasement." But today, Bush's diplomats are doing exactly what Obama said: talking with Iran.

So who can we trust to keep America safe? When democracy rolled out of Russia, and the tanks rolled into Georgia, we saw John McCain respond immediately with the outdated thinking of the Cold War. Barack Obama responded like a statesman of the 21st century.

So who can we trust to keep America safe? When we called for a timetable to make Iraqis stand up for Iraq and bring our heroes home, John McCain called it "cut and run." But today, even President Bush has seen the light. He and Prime Minister Maliki agree on guess what? a timetable.

So who can we trust to keep America safe? The McCain-Bush Republicans have been wrong again and again and again. And they know they will lose on the issues. So, the candidate who once promised a "contest of ideas," now has nothing left but personal attacks. How insulting to suggest that those who question the mission, question the troops. How pathetic to suggest that those who question a failed policy doubt America itself. How desperate to tell the son of a single mother who chose community service over money and privilege that he doesn't put America first.


The Beginning of the End

QOTD: Heart of the Matter Edition

Peggy Noonan:

Democrats in the end speak most of, and seem to hold the most sympathy for, the beset-upon single mother without medical coverage for her children, and the soldier back from the war who needs more help with post-traumatic stress disorder. They express the most sympathy for the needy, the yearning, the marginalized and unwell. For those, in short, who need more help from the government, meaning from the government's treasury, meaning the money got from taxpayers.

Who happen, also, to be a generally beset-upon group.


Democrats show little expressed sympathy for those who work to make the money the government taxes to help the beset-upon mother and the soldier and the kids. They express little sympathy for the middle-aged woman who owns a small dry cleaner and employs six people and is, actually, day to day, stressed and depressed from the burden of state, local and federal taxes, and regulations, and lawsuits, and meetings with the accountant, and complaints as to insufficient or incorrect efforts to meet guidelines regarding various employee/employer rules and regulations. At Republican conventions they express sympathy for this woman, as they do for those who are entrepreneurial, who start businesses and create jobs and build things. Republicans have, that is, sympathy for taxpayers. But they don't dwell all that much, or show much expressed sympathy for, the sick mother with the uninsured kids, and the soldier with the shot nerves.

Neither party ever gets it quite right, the balance between the taxed and the needy, the suffering of one sort and the suffering of another. You might say that in this both parties are equally cold and equally warm, only to two different classes of citizens.
If they couldn't call us baby-killers, I guess they'd have no morals at all.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Other Clinton

Bill's speech was a dismal failure because he neglected to say Obama smells like English Leather. Obviously, he's trying to undermine the nominee.

(In non-Fox News world, though, it was a great speech--a gracious speech, and a persuasive speech, making a solid case for Obama as Obama where (say the Fox drones) Senator Clinton just made the case for Obama as not-McCain.

But what do I know? I'm a bear--I suck the heads off of fish.)

Oh, also--how sweet must it be for John Kerry to press the flip-flop attack on McCain? As Jody said, he's earned it.

Wednesday Wildflowerblogging

Sierra Wallflower
Sierra Wallflower (Erysimum capitatum) west of Granite Lake, Mokelumne Wilderness.

Yes again Yes again yes again Yes!

From Bloomberg, via TPM. Now, pace Tbogg and Mitt's eternal bridesmaid, this is Sex in Mile High City, at least for political junkies like me.

``They recognize the nature of media is changing,'' said Zennie Abraham, 46, a blogger from Oakland.

Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable company, is providing customers with video-on-demand clips of the convention. People watching the convention over the Internet can even pick their own camera angles.

The idea is to ``bring more people into the convention experience than ever before,'' said Jenni Engebretsen, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Convention Committee. A key is to allow people around the country to view events and highlights when they want, rather than having to rely on coverage provided by the TV networks.

Like the Democrats, the Republicans are providing full coverage of their convention over the Internet in English and Spanish. They've also given bloggers credentials and engaged in social networking.

McCain Lags

Still, Senator John McCain, the party's presumptive nominee, has fallen far behind Obama when it comes to networking on sites like Facebook and MySpace. Obama has 1.4 million supporters on Facebook compared with McCain's 220,000.

``The Obama campaign has a superb organization,'' said Charles Cook, an independent political analyst. ``The McCain operation isn't even a shadow of the Bush 2004 effort.''

While viewers may have forgotten speeches and camera angles two months from now, the campaign will have their names, e-mail addresses and cell-phone numbers. On Nov. 4, that information will help the Obama campaign encourage people to show up in the voting both.

``A strong get-out-the-vote effort is said to be good for a point or two,'' said Cook. ``In a close race, that can be decisive.''


Michael Gerson, today:

And to give a memorable speech, Obama must find some way to reassert his initial theme of national unity, recently drowned out by the daily gunfire of presidential politics. Every good convention speech includes clever partisan barbs.... But if Obama does not distinguish himself for his post-partisan unity, there is little positive justification for his candidacy. And this emphasis is needed in a country sickened by its own blogged bitterness. Democratic nations are designed for disagreement. They are weakened by contempt. Loyalty to America, at some level, demands loyalty to one another. Love of country requires a regard and affection for our fellow countrymen.

Michael Gerson, 1/30/08:
Liberals and Democrats offer no praise because a desire to help dying Africans, minority students and low-income seniors does not fit the image of Bush's cruelty that they wish to cultivate.
Michael Gerson, 7/18/08:
If the movement to confront climate change is perceived as partisan, anti-capitalist and hostile to human life, it is likely to fail, causing suffering for many, including the ice bears. And so the question arises: Will the environment survive the environmentalists?
Et cetera.

Michael Gerson, anytime: can kiss my bitter bloggy arse.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Clinton Night

I'm glad Obama is the nominee; I think the better candidate won with the better campaign. That said, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Clinton, and always have. As I said all along, I'd have been thrilled to support either of them in the general.

Tonight, she was at the top of her form--exactly as I expected. She made it very clear from the start of her speech that she was there to rally support for Obama. She paid tribute to her supporters, to the rationale for her campaign...and then she brought it back to Obama, asking 'were you in it for me, or for [the people I was campaigning to help]?' She was dignified, funny, gracious, and fundamentally decent.

I didn't vote for her, but I'm thrilled to have her on our side.

Quote of the Day

Jim Leach last night:

The party that once emphasized individual rights has gravitated in recent years toward regulating values. The party of military responsibility has taken us to war with a country that did not attack us. The party that formerly led the world in arms control has moved to undercut treaties crucial to the defense of the earth. The party that prides itself on conservation has abdicated its responsibilities in the face of global warming. And the party historically anchored in fiscal restraint has nearly doubled the national debt, squandering our precious resources in an undisciplined and unprecedented effort to finance a war with tax cuts.

Gaudy and Gaudier

Butterfly on Hawaiian Shirt
Butterfly on a Hawaiian shirt (and some of you can certainly guess whose shirt).

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Former Republican

Aimai has a thread for reactions to Michelle Obama's speech (which, again, I thought was amazing), so I'll just hit what I thought were the two highlights of the rest of the evening.

First, obviously: Ted Kennedy. Probably his last really big public speech; certainly, his last convention. The grace note for a lifetime of public service in the cause of basic human decency. If anyone was able to remain dry-eyed watching him, well, you're made of tougher stuff than I am.

Less obviously, I think the second most important speech of the evening was Jim Leach's. He laid out a sweeping historical case for the contributions both parties have made--and meticulously demonstrated that the Republican party of today has nothing in common with that of Lincoln or Teddy Roosevelt. His point-by-point demolition of every rationale for Republican governance should be a staple of the campaign from here on out.

I count it a Win

Well, she didn't say "whitey! I'm coming to get you!" and finish up with a terrorist fist jab and a gob of spittle in the face of mom and apple pie so I count that speech a HUGE success. What did the rest of you islamofascistwiccanterroristsympathizers think?

Monday Movie Review (rerun): Murderball

I haven't seen a movie in more than two weeks, what with the Olympics, the Arthur, the life in general. I feel like I'm in limbo. So to tide you over, here's a repeat of one of my earliest reviews on this blog, of one of my favorite movies:

Murderball (2005) 9/10

Quad rugby ("murderball") players are followed from the World Championships in 2002 to the Paralympics Games of 2004. Quad rugby, or wheelchair rugby, is played by quadriplegics in specially-adapted and reinforced chairs. (Documentary)

In the movies, people in wheelchairs are a finite number of things. They are tragic, uplifting, inspiring, angry, brave, hopeful, or heartwarming. In Murderball, they’re guys. (Women in wheelchairs are seen only peripherally in the film.) Specifically, they’re guys on a sports team. In fact, if you want to generalize, they’re more typical of what you may think about athletes than of what you may think about the disabled. They’re interested in playing hard, proving themselves, partying, and picking up girls. They pull pranks, they roughhouse, they boast. They’re guys.


In a way, I realized, this is an obvious and overlooked aspect of quadriplegia. Many such injuries are acquired in typically macho ways: Extreme sports, bar fights, pranks gone wrong, drunk driving, war. We see the way that the injured have to rebuild their self-image, and nothing makes more sense than that they rebuild the macho part as well.

The basic story follows two men. Mark Zupan is one of the stars of the U.S. quad rugby team. One day he was out partying and fell asleep, drunk, in the back of his friend’s pickup truck. Later his friend, driving drunk, and with no idea Mark was in the back, crashed the truck. Zupan was thrown sixty feet and hung onto a tree in a canal for thirteen hours until someone heard his cries for help. We meet his girlfriend, we attend his high school reunion, and ultimately, we meet the driver of the pickup truck.

Joe Soares had childhood polio. He was a star of the U.S. team for years. When he was cut from the team (a coach says simply that age slowed him down) he sued, unsuccessfully, to get back on. Now he coaches the Canadian team and the rivalry between his former and current teams runs deep. We meet Joe’s wife and his son. The younger Soares is interested in music and academics, not sports, which creates tension between the two.

We also meet a recently injured man, Keith, who is first learning to face his injury. We follow him from the early days of rehab, through a meeting with Zupan at a presentation on quad rugby, where Keith is excited by the freedom and strength he feels in the rugby chair.

Murderball is a masterful film. The editing seamlessly carries you through a huge range of facets of the lives of these men. Just writing this up made me realize how very much I’d seen. We are educated about spinal cord injury, we traverse family relationships, sexuality, competition, guilt, friendship, family, remorse, anger, and play. The competitions are exciting, there’s humor, there’s even heartwarming stuff. We are allowed to draw conclusions without being pushed.

The meeting with Keith brought up the eternal question about documentaries; who are the documentarians, and what are they doing? Clearly, the filmmakers arranged for Zupan to make a presentation where Keith would be present, but how did they pick Keith in particular? How did they decide he would ultimately be excited about quad rugby? Did they follow several recently injured people in the hopes that one of them would be? These are the sort of questions I wish documentaries in general would answer.

(Belated cross-post.)

"Just Ignore Them"

It works every time. K-Lo:

The Next Constituency, the Slut Vote? [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

Why did John McCain even bother with Madonna? Her whore-at-50-shtick is pathetic. I think we can ignore her latest p.r. stategy.

Kids in the Hall:

Is this What Its Like In Denver?

I compliment an eight year old girl on the huge, four foot hole she has dug on the beach. She gestures superbly behind herself at a smaller hole and says, confidentially "That's the VIP hole."


Clear the Steps. Please.

Clear the Steps.please.

Tension in Denver

What exactly is the nature of the reported feuding between Obama and Clinton staffs? It certainly isn't about Clinton herself; by all accounts, she's doing everything she can to promote unity. It's partly about Clinton's husband, apparently, but that's clearly not the whole of it.

One passage in the Politico story suggests an answer: More...

A prominent Obama backer said some of Clinton’s lieutentants negotiating with the Obama team are “bitter enders” who presume that, rather than the Clintons reconciling themselves to Obama’s victory, it is up to Obama to accommodate them.

In fact, some senior veterans of Clinton’s presidential campaign do believe this.
It's always those anonymous staffers, isn't it? It's the people who banked on a sure thing and now can't reconcile themselves to the fact that they won't have jobs in this administration. (Or, given the extraordinarily bitter infighting within the campaign, they're pissed off that someone else has a job.) It's not about Clinton (either one) or Obama; it's about the corruption of the political consultant class. It's about people who would rather lose the election, with everything that entails for the country, than be on the outside of the party apparatus.

I'm not the first to point this out, of course. The thing I find striking now is the extent to which Clinton's people are willing to undermine Clinton to get what they want.

Inside Edition

Shorter Richard Cohen: "Senator Obama, I've interviewed Joe Biden. I know Joe Biden. Joe Biden is a friend of mine. Senator Obama, Joe Biden is no Lloyd Bentsen."

P.S. Yes, this shorter is lame -- just like the Cohen column. Bentsen was every bit the "gentleman" that Cohen feels Biden is, yet he got off probably the most famous attack line in VP debate history. Biden will be gunning for similar glory, and even if he fails there, he's well poised to work the GOP body hard and inside.

P.P.S. All of which proves I'm a communist.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tears for Mittens

"An Inexplicable Bitterness Towards for Being Rich"

Ahab went there so I guess its fair game--if I could only figure out what she was trying to say:

The Middle Class [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

Without much substance, David Axelrod was effective on ABC this morning talking about the middle class. Rich is right, if McCain doesn't start resonating there, he's going to have a very hard time winning. As lame as it is, if that kitchen-table joke Biden made yesterday is any indication, that's going to remain a theme, and people may eat it up.

A scary thought this Sunday morning: We're being distracted by Romney (who would be the choice if he wasn't the richest guy in the race many of his opponents — including McCain — had an inexplicable bitterness toward for being rich ... Romney is outside McCain's comfort zone), Pawlenty (who would be the choice if we knew he could hold his own against Biden; we don't), and Lieberman (who would be the case if McCain has an I-can-do-anything messiah complex we say Obama has). The real veep pick is Huckabee, who frequently sounds good and looks like a middle-class guy. Save for the fact Huckabee is pro-life, that would be some signal McCain would be sending to conservatives though ...


The Audacity of Hope

On her way to the Dem convention yesterday, The Corner paleocon Kathryn Jean Lopez had an airborne epiphany:

They've Got that Down [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

Listening to Biden belatedly, he had a line about how when you hear Obama, you believe that when you make sacrifices, you can make things better.

A born-again Christian woman who sat next to me on the plane from Chicago said the exact same thing to me. Bizarre in one sense — she clearly gets that from Christ, but Obama gives her some added kick.

We really need a pol on our side inspiring people. We're losing that contest.

Idle speculation here, K-Lo, but you may want to reconsider the economic hair shirts and the moral scourging.

Sunday Sierrablogging

Lake 10,320
Lake 10,320 on the Monarch Divide, Kings Canyon National Park.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Least Convincing Concern Troll Ever

William Kristol is outraged on behalf of Democratic women in general, and Clinton supporters in particular.


Update: okay, I was wrong; the least convincing concern troll ever is John McCain himself.

Fox News Really Is Fair and Balanced

But only compared to Associated Press.

Today, AP's resident douchebag Ron Fournier has a recycled McCain press release piece titled Analysis: Biden pick shows lack of confidence. The title is obviously one of those wingnut Mad Libs type deals, with the template "Analysis: _____ pick shows lack of _______" ready to fill in as soon as Obama gave them a name (Bayh/principle, Hillary/cojones, Gore/sanity, etc.).

And if you think I'm being overly harsh on poor Mr. Fournier, I suggest you read the backstory at AmericaBlog and Media Matters. Fournier may not have taken that job with the McCain campaign, but he's working for them anyway.

Update: Fournier's known biases aside, the problem with the story is that it assumes the worst possible interpretation and presents it as fact. There are a lot of different things the Biden pick 'shows' about Obama (and his campaign): that he's secure enough not not to worry about being upstaged, for example; that he figures a known, familiar quantity like Biden will offset the 'exotic' factor; that he's looking for a strong, credible attack dog. Any of these could have been the headline for an 'analysis' like Fournier's. A real analysis, in the on-the-one-hand tradition (which is of course deeply problematic, but is better than what we get here), would discuss all of them. Fournier either took his own visceral negative reaction and ran with it, or printed the story 'suggested' to him by his friends at McCain HQ.

There Was a Farmer Who Had a Dog

And Biden was his name-o:

There Are So Many Papers in "The Problem With Joe Biden Is ... " File [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

But a few that come to mind at this hour: .... Judge Bork, Clarence Thomas, Miguel Estrada, Alito ... and this ...

Then Biden puts a hand on the reporter’s shoulder and with demonic pleasure lights into Tom DeLay. “The guy hasn’t talked to members of his family in I don’t know how many years,” he says. “The next Republican that tells me I’m not religious, I’m gonna shove my rosary beads down their throat!”

Mercifully, "Joe Biden Can’t Shut Up…" That should be quite the challenge for the Obama campaign. Michelle might be working on discipline, but if Joe Biden hasn't learned it in all his years ... good luck.

B-I-D-E-N, B-I-D-E-N, B-I-D-E-N/And Biden was his name-o.

Friday, August 22, 2008

We Don't Have the Time for Psychological Romance

In other musical news, Jamelle has posted his guilty pleasures (and apparently we weren't the only ones to tag him). It's a solid list, with one song on it that I really, really wish I had included in mine. (Figure it out for yourselves.)

By the way, who here knew that the former Duchess of York was trying to make it as a singer? Am I the only one who didn't get that memo? Judging from the vid at Jamelle's, she never should have quit her royalty job.

Friday Random Ten

Curtis Mayfield - If There's Hell Below
Wailers - High Wall
Link Wray - Hotel Loneliness
El Michels Affair - This One's For My Baby
Dave Davies - I'm Not Like Everybody Else (live)
[Some Ethiopian band] - Bhmngnot Alnorem
DJ Shadow - Midnight in a Perfect World
Joy Division - Atrocity Exhbition
Joy Division - A Means to an End
Eno - Driving Me Backwards

Running late this morning--no time to come up with a question or a bonus video or anything. Next week, though, I'll propose a new CD swap. I've got my own idea, but if anyone has other ideas feel free to suggest them in comments.

We Write More Letters...

...and another one gets published.


Plum Delicious
From My Most Excellent Friend Karen's Garden

Yes, these are plain old summer tomatoes and not fancy winter heirlooms like George's. Yes, this photo is a total ripoff of my asparagus shot (the last photo before this one that I uploaded to Flickr, which gives you some idea of how irresponsibly I spent my summer vacation). And yes, I did promise you icecream.

But you would not believe how delicious these little buggers are.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

There Are Many Mansions

But what the dumbfuck needed was a single, prop Everyman ranch, just like Gipper and Chimp. Needed: as in several months ago.

Luckily, there is another way -- one of Everyman's S+L's forecloses on one of Everywoman's mansions.

Problem solved.

P.S. This is my new "Brian Rogers" style of post.

McCain Doesn't Speak for McCain

So says Mitt Romney, anyway. But then we already knew that.

He's Right, You Know

He's Right, You Know

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Facebook Masturbators

The Onion News Network reports on the key demographics this year:

Latest Poll Reveals 430 New Demographics That Will Decide Election

Hat tip: Ezra Klein.

Country First

That's the theme of the GOP Convention this year. Subtle, it isn't. Ambiguous, it is.

Shorter Right Blogosphere

From the actual pie-hole of Pantload:

It's sort of like when you're not sure if someone is a b.s. artist, or an ass, or a racist or whatever until you meet his wingman and that guy turns out to be much worse — but also substantively the same. Birds of a feather and all that.

Diaper Sniffer

Congratulations to Byron York, who is now blogging for the National Enquirer.

Wednesday Wildflowerblogging

Mountain Pretty Face
Mountain Pretty Face (Triteleia ixioides ssp. analina) east of Grouse Lake, Mokelumne Wilderness.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lower the Drinking Age?

Sounds reasonable to me.

Not everyone agrees, of course:

Mothers Against Drunk Driving says lowering the drinking age would lead to more fatal car crashes.
Hence my compromise measure: lower the drinking age to 18, and raise the driving age to 211. Remember: sober drivers kill more people than drunk pedestrians.

And while we're on the subject, that's a damn good question: why doesn't MADD do more transit advocacy?

1Yes, I understand that this would impose substantial hardship on a lot of teenagers (and, as a result, on their parents). Yes, I understand that lots of people live in places where they don't have any good transit options. That's unfortunate. I would suggest that those kids and parents unite to lobby for better transit and more transit-friendly development.

Trivia for Today

It's the last "quotes of the decade" trivia. Next week, something new.

Monday, August 18, 2008

From Anathema to Anthemic -- A Short Catalog of Guilty Pleasures

[Because I was tagged by Tom with this meme]

Father, forgive me, for I have sinned...

Kenny Rodgers and the First Edition I Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)

My nomination for first prize, as this may be the worst song ever recorded that I can't ever get enough of. "...Found my mind in a brown paper bag"..."tripped on a cloud and fell eight miles high; tore my mind on a jagged sky"..."had my foot on the gas as I left the road and blew out my mind..." Future fried-chicken magnate Kenny Rodgers assesses the state of his mental health by filling a song with drug references, and ends up sounding like a guy who's never even had an aspirin. The challenge would be to find a more deliciously cheesy set of pseudo-psychedelic lyrics written in earnest (although Gentle Wandering Ways by the late-period Beau Brummels would be close behind, if it had ever seen the light of day).

I have a video of Kenny lip-synching this on Ed Sullivan in a Nehru jacket, but it may not be uploadable to YouTube for copyright reasons. This video is from the Smothers Brothers TV show, and at least has some cheesy TV special effects.


Holy Man

Still at The Corner, Byron York approvingly quotes Pastor Rick Warren:

...On marriage, he said, "I don’t accept gay marriage. I don’t think that a gay relationship is exactly what God wants in life…[But] in the hierarchy of evil, I would say homosexuality is not the worst sin. But I would also say homosexuality is not natural. I think that there are certain parts of a body that are made to fit together."...
Christ-amighty, York, a gerbil could drive a Mack truck through that loophole.

Il Portiere di notte: the Blog

Speaking of Kathryn Jean Lopez, here. She. Goes. Again:

Only in New Jersey [Kathryn Jean Lopez]


It's eerie dark in the exhibition hall at the New Jersey Convention Center in Edison. Usually, the room is reserved for trade shows. But this summer weekend, it's been transformed into a 40,000-square-foot dungeon for sexual fantasy.

Welcome to The Floating World, three days of suspended reality geared toward those who explore extremes in carnality. The program encompassed bondage, sadomasochism and role playing — including Gitmo-inspired interrogator/detainee "torture" sessions.
Oh well, whatever puts the movement into your conservatism.

Monday Movie Review: Not


Michael Phelps won eight gold medals. Holy shit. Some of those races were like dreams of what races should be. Holy shit.

Because let's not forget American swimming: Natalie Coughlin is so cute I want to take her home and buy her pretty things. And Rebecca Soni is a Jersey Girl! Yay Jersey! 'I'm from Plainsboro, New Jersey, and I didn't bring a date, but I won a gold medal.' Yay! And Dara Torres!

Guo Jingjing is the best diver I've ever seen. She's like a picture of diving that got all the imperfections airbrushed out.

Usain Bolt. Holy lightning, Batman!

I haven't even mentioned the gymnastics.

But you know what? Women's super-heavyweight weightlifting. Fuckin' A.

So, I haven't actually watched a movie.

Michael fucking Phelps, man.

Soldier and Dinosaur

Soldier & Dinosaur 02

QOTD: Rebel Without a Cause Edition

They're playing the mavericky mindreader game over at The Corner:

No One Is Safe [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

In the last few days, John McCain has both assured pro-choicers that he will not have a veep litmus test (in the Steve Hayes interview) and assured pro-lifers that he will be a pro-life president (at Saddelback). That seems to put him in exactly the position a man who prides himself on being a "maverick" would want to be: poised to do whatever he wants with the vice-presidential slot.
Obscurity and unpredictability -- what more could one want in a preznit?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Sierrablogging

Upper Wire Lake 02
Upper Wire Lake, Emigrant Wilderness.


Shorter David Broder: "I'd like to gum the Obama machine to death."

Count Deborah

In an exceedingly silly column, this week the Washington Post's Deborah Howell works on her counting. Through simple arithmetic -- "Democrat Barack Obama has had about a 3 to 1 advantage over Republican John McCain in Post Page 1 stories since Obama became his party's presumptive nominee June 4" -- Howell proves that the press loves Obama. Or something.

Howell spends ninety percent of her column variously slicing and dicing the Post's coverage of the presidential race in vain search of a valid objective measure, but in the end she undercuts the entire project by quoting a less obsessive colleague:

Bill Hamilton, assistant managing editor for politics, thinks that I'm wrong to put weight on numbers. "We make our own decisions about what we consider newsworthy. We are not garment workers measuring our product every day to fulfill somebody's quota. That means as editors we decide what we think is important, because that's what our readers look for us to do -- not to adhere to some arbitrary standard.

"The nomination of the first African American presidential nominee after a bitter primary campaign and his efforts to unite a party afterward were simply more newsworthy than a candidate whose nomination was already assured and who spent much of that time raising money. In the end, we can and should be judged on the fairness of our coverage, but that is a judgment that must be made over the course of the whole campaign, not a single period of time."
"[S]omebody's quota"! Oooh, snap! Take that, critics!

But as Frank Rich suggests this morning over at the NY Times, maybe a quota system would break the Bill Hamiltons of the press corps out of their comfort zone on "what we think is important" and "newsworthy" about St. John McCain:
So why isn’t Obama romping? The obvious answer — and both the excessively genteel Obama campaign and a too-compliant press bear responsibility for it — is that the public doesn’t know who on earth John McCain is. The most revealing poll this month by far is the Pew Research Center survey finding that 48 percent of Americans feel they're "hearing too much" about Obama. Pew found that only 26 percent feel that way about McCain, and that nearly 4 in 10 Americans feel they hear too little about him. It's past time for that pressing educational need to be met.

What is widely known is the skin-deep, out-of-date McCain image. As this fairy tale has it, the hero who survived the Hanoi Hilton has stood up as rebelliously in Washington as he did to his Vietnamese captors. He strenuously opposed the execution of the Iraq war; he slammed the president's response to Katrina; he fought the "agents of intolerance" of the religious right; he crusaded against the G.O.P. House leader Tom DeLay, the criminal lobbyist Jack Abramoff and their coterie of influence-peddlers.

With the exception of McCain’s imprisonment in Vietnam, every aspect of this profile in courage is inaccurate or defunct.
Contrary to the implication of Howell's column, no news has been very good news for the McCain camp. McCain wins even when he loses.

Go figure.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Chihuly Ceiling

Chihuly Ceiling 02
Saw the Dale Chihuly exhibit at the De Young this morning. Member check-in right at opening time--the only way to do it. This was the coolest piece--a room where the ceiling held hundreds of blown glass objéts, through which the light filtered. Otherwise, I liked the show okay but didn't love it; it was kind of decorative for my taste.

And by the way, there appears to be a new rule at the De Young prohibiting tripods. No flash and no tripod--the rule appears to be that you can take pictures as long as they're really crappy.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Random Ten

Monks - Monk Chant
Colin Newman - Alone
Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet - Ben Hur Picked Off in a Gazebo
Delta 5 - You
John Foxx - Blurred Girl
Smithereens - Gloomy Sunday
Stan Ridgway - Sixteen Tons
Camper Van Beethoven - Pictures of Matchstick Men
Tinariwen - Arawan
Charles Bradley & the Bullets - Now That I'm Gone

Sometimes I feel sorry for all the unfortunate people who don't have my iPod. Bonus video below the fold.

Sichuan Style

Shorter David Brooks: "The GOP ate New Orleans and I was hungry again an hour later."

Lyrica Madness

Shorter Peggy Noonan: "Does anybody really know what time it is?"

Update: Added link to song lyrics, for posterity's sake.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

These Are the Charges

According to TPM the Obama campaign is not going to make all the same mistakes Kerry made. They are at least going to deal with the Swift Boat thing head on. But I think this actually needs something different than the route they are going--different from the 41 pages of rebuttal, or the "use better surrogates" or Kerry's four years to late approach to Corsi. I would like to see Obama go on Larry King Live or one of the other hour long shows and demand a full hour of rebuttal. I'd like to see him lean back in his chair, refute the book point by point, and say openly and directly to the American people

These are the charges. Here are the facts. And now make your own decision. This is something the republicans have done before--they lied about Senator Kerry. They spent years accusing a sitting president, the most watched man in American history of being a drug running murderer. THey spent millions of dollars attacking Gore, Dean, Kerry and Obama with nothing but lies. Because *that's all they've got.* Senator McCain didn't stand up for his colleague and friend Senator Kerry when Kerry *and the navy and the entire military apparatus* were smeared by Corsi. Senator McCain hasn't rebuked or rejected Corsi's rampant anti catholicism. And we can't expect Senator McCain to admit that he is planning to benefit from Corsi's lies now. Because that's all Senator McCain has going for him too. If he trusted that the American people wanted his planned third Bush administration he'd be *running on his and Bush's accomplishments.* He's not doing that, instead he's running a fantasy campaign against a hidden manchurian muslim candidate--one who was planted 47 years ago with the improbable name of Barack Hussein Obama when they might better have planned on a white guy whose name was Joe Smith and gotten farther faster. But look, I've laid out the charges and the facts that utterly and completely demolish them. Corsi, McCain, Rove and the rest of the republicans who are in power and who want to stay in power are counting on the american people being stupid enough to fall for this stuff again. I'm betting the other way. I believe in the power of the truth, knowing the truth about the democrats, their nominee, and what the party wants to do when it gets into the white house simply knocks all this smear stuff into flinders. If McCain had a positive program to offer you, he'd do it. If his supporters wanted honest government, they'd be out there begging McCain to sgtand up for it. A man is known by his supporters and McCain's refusal to order Corsi and the other swift boating money men to stop lying about my record has forced me to start telling the truth about his. No honest man is writing these books, and no honest man could be benefitting from them.



Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Whose Country?

Joe Lieberman:

In my opinion, the choice could not be more clear:....Between one candidate, John McCain, who has always put the country first...and one candidate who has not.
John McCain:
Today, we are all Georgians.
The Washington Post:
Sen. John McCain's top foreign policy adviser prepped his boss for an April 17 phone call with the president of Georgia and then helped the presumptive Republican presidential nominee prepare a strong statement of support for the fledgling republic.

The day of the call, a lobbying firm partly owned by the adviser, Randy Scheunemann, signed a $200,000 contract to continue providing strategic advice to the Georgian government in Washington.
And finally, a nice bit of understatement from Matt Yglesias:
If it were actually the case that we are all Georgians this would obviously be no big deal, but in the real world it’s a bit of an issue when an influential member of a major presidential campaign is an agent of a foreign government.

Wednesday Wildflowerblogging

Sierra Tiger Lily
Sierra Tiger Lily (Lilium parvum, in Spring Meadow, Emigrant Wilderness.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Walk on By

Update: For the love of god, I can't possibly be the only one here who's sad about Isaac Hayes dying...can I? I mean, all that politics shit is fine as far as it goes, but we're talking Isaac Hayes here. Get your priorities straight, people.

Bears Repeating

Athenae over at First Draft worries

The 60's Are Back

Am I the only one who thinks McCain is actually being electorally smart about this? Not foreign-policy smart, of course, not real-world smart, not the kind of smart that would actually do anything, but the kind of smart that would get him votes?

“Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin must understand the severe, long-term negative consequences that their government’s actions will have for Russia’s relationship with the U.S. and Europe,” McCain said. More...

And, describing the Russian assaults that have gone beyond the disputed territory and into sovereign Georgia as “Moscow’s path of violent aggression,” the GOP nominee suggested that Putin’s aim may be to overthrow the pro-U.S. government in Georgia.

“This should be unacceptable to all the democratic countries of the world, and should draw us together in universal condemnation of Russian aggression,” McCain said.

He's giving people a familiar enemy, one that we've been told over the past couple decades it's okay to kind of trust now, to like, to visit, to look into the soul of, but one that probably a lot of people remember from their childhoods as The Big Bad, the one that was gonna infiltrate and spy on and undermine and eventually nuke us all to shit. I mean, it's got a ready-made script for hating on, Russia does, all the jokes are still there, they might need freshening up a bit but they're there. Hell, the TV shows are probably still on re-runs on Sunday mornings. Fire up the Red Menace machine again, after you've dusted it off.

But the more I see of this the less I'm worried: Sure, that's the strategy. Bring on the commie/czarist menace. But the time for that kind of cold war mongering isn't in the middle of two hot wars with the islamofascist menace. Even though people have been temporarily lulled into kinda thinking the Iraq war is over--all this debating about timelines simply leaves the rubes with the notion that the whole thing is more or less over whoever gets into the white house in January--still people are aware that we already have troops out there, stretched to the max, on two fronts.

Plus the georgia thing reads somewhat differently. I'm sure that very few people grasp that South Ossetia started everything by seceding, and I'm sure that there are people who hear McCain tub thumping about war, by jingo, and hear "georgia? they invaded south of the mason dixon?" but a hell of a lot of other people, indpendents, money makers, big money republicans know for a fact we can't go to war again. McCain is appealing to the know nothing base but I wouldn't be surprised if he doensn't lose the remaining technological and market based right wing money. He'll never lose the ahmandsons and the other rich nutcases but he 'll lose the stockbrokers and maybe even some of the network/media money that has been backing him. Rupert murdoch, for one, is no fool and he is not going to be charmed to be working with a loose cannon like McCain. He knows, or suspects, that democrats, in the end, will be just as easily bought as republicans and at least they aren't threatening to blow up the world every five seconds.


argh, edited to catch the first of many spelling errors. Thanks Trevor!

Trivia is here

Nice and early for a change.

Lame Duckery and Its Apologists

Up until recently I was really worried Bush would pull off a midnight bombing of Iran as he walked out the door and threw the keys to the White House in the toilet so he could imagine Michelle and Obama hunting all over the place when they couldn't find them under the mat. But after Georgia I realized that lame duckery cuts both ways--its not something that Bush is experiencing personally, though if ever a guy looked like he was drinking away the last days until he clears out his desk its Bush--it is an interregnum, a vaccuum, into which all kinds of political shit is going to flow. Watching McCain whack the table with his shoe in the last few days makes me realize that any one of our enemies with a lick of sense is going to get their hits in now, before they can be sure that a new President Obama will be on the scene. Its the exact opposite of this conservative wet dream, commented on at Tapped:

At The Corner, Andy McCarthy not so subtly implies that the Russia-Georgia conflict is Obama's fault:

I suppose if we are thinking about turning our country over to the second Carter term — or the first McGovern — it shouldn't surprise anyone to see Russia go into its Afghanistan mode ... or Czechoslovakia ... or Hungary ... or (as Roger reminds us) Georgia.

No, we shouldn't be surprised to see Russia doing its thing. Because Russia realizes that the best time to act politicaly in its own interest is when there's nobody home at the White House, the drunken fool is on the road, and all our troops are occupied elsewhere. If this were all about Obama they'd have waited a few months. But they know as well as the sane people that its not until we can withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan that the US will ever have the flexibility to do more than wave its arms and shout "hey! knock that off!" to countries as big as Russia or, hell, as small as Georgia. We've got nothing left in reserve. This obvious fact seems to have escaped Bush and Co. and all their supporters who have already switched into the pathetic, high pitched whining mode that made them such a pleasure to deal with under Clinton. Nothing is ever their fault and everyone just hates them anyway. Why is that?

But on a lighter note I don't actually think it has escaped much of the voting public. I just don't see middle america turning out to vote for not just four more years and four more wars but an infinite number of times getting to see John McCain get all red and angry 'n stuff.

My new yard sign is going to look like this:

Iraq? Iran? Afghanistan? Russia? Who *Doesn't* McCain want to bomb?


Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday Movie Review: Moonstruck

Moonstruck (1987) 10/10
Loretta (Cher) accepts Johnny's (Danny Aiello) marriage proposal, and then Johnny immediately flies to Sicily to be at his mother's deathbed. He asks Loretta to look up his estranged brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage) while he's away, and persuade him to attend the wedding, but an attraction between Ronny and Loretta could upset the wedding plans.

Oh my Gods, do I love this movie. I am helplessly unable to channel-surf past it should it catch my eye, and so this weekend I watched it for what? The fifth time?

I love everything about this movie. I love the interplay of familial love with romantic love, and I think that's very rare in romantic comedies. Only a handful of romances actually care what happens after the first kiss. Moonstruck is about romance, about being swept away by passion and romance and moonlight, but equally it's about what happens next, about commitment and spending a lifetime. Most of all, it's about how to balance the two, how to find a life with both.

Loretta's father, Cosmo (the wonderful Vincent Gardenia), is having an affair. It's a tawdry little thing, full of Cosmo blowing smoke about how intelligent and wonderful he is, and his mistress oooing and aaahing in a way that a wife doesn't do after thirty years. Gardenia is a riot at this, by the way. His wife, Rose (Olympia Dukakis, in her Academy Award-winning role), suspects but says nothing (although she certainly expresses anger like a pro). In an extraordinary scene, Rose flirts with a man she meets, but does not act because "I know who I am." That exchange, peripheral to the plot, is crucial to the meaning of the film; knowing who you are is how to commit to marriage.

The other theme is, of course, romance. But not romance because it feels good, or is pretty:

Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn't know this either, but love don't make things nice—it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren't here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die. The storybooks are bullshit. Now I want you to come upstairs with me and get in my bed!

It has always been remarkable to me that this comedy, this apparently light-hearted bit of fluff, leaps into such huge themes. Ronny also says he cares more about being with Loretta than about whether or not they burn in hell. And this is not a small thing. This was the philosophy of the Troubadours, a mystical love that transcended conventional spirituality by challenging God and placing love above sin.

The climatic scene takes place at the opera (La Bohème). It's only with this past viewing that I realized the film itself is meant as a kind of opera, and some of the ridiculous, overblown dialogue (which totally makes me giggle) is operatic. Seen as an opera, the broad strokes of the plot and interactions have double meaning, both comedic and dramatic.

I should mention, in case you haven't seen the movie, that this is all enormous fun; sexy, silly, romantic, and just totally entertaining. Moonstruck is, to my mind, one of the greatest romantic comedies ever filmed.

just want you to know no matter what you do, you're gonna cross-post, just like everybody else.

ABC News Gets One Right

This article explains what Elaine Kamarck was actually talking about in the previous blog post "gossip" but it also marks the first time that I've seen a major news outlet admit, in that "everybody knows" way they generally reserve for some piece of wisdom they've been hiding from us, that it is Clinton's Iraq war vote that cost her the nomination. Wolfson says that if the press had exposed Edwards before Iowa:

"I believe we would have won Iowa, and Clinton today would therefore have been the nominee," former Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson told ABC

Clinton finished third in the Iowa caucuses barely behind Edwards in second place and Obama in first. The momentum of the insurgent Obama camaign beating two better-known candidates -- not to mention an African-american winning in sucn an overwhelmingly white state -- changed the dynamics of the race forever. More...

Obama won 37.6 per cent of the vote. Edwards won 29.7 per cent and Clinton won 29.5 per cent, according to results posted by the Iowa Democratic Party.

"Our voters and Edwards' voters were the same people," Wolfson said the Clinton polls showed. "They were older, pro-union. Not all, but maybe two-thirds of them would have been for us and we would have barely beaten Obama."

Its marvellous, the discovery that another good ol' southern white boy cheats on his wife would have magically given Hillary a second "pity fuck vote" and caused Iowa to demand the return to the White House of the first good ol' southern white boy who cheated publicly on his wife. A return to the Clinton years by infidelity on the trail? Talk about Ponies all around!
Wolfson's contention is not shared by the Obama campaign, whose officials never bought the argument that Clinton was the second choice of Edwards voters. Immediately after Edwards dropped out of the race at the end of January, Obama won eleven straight contests in a row.

And Clinton's steadfast refusal to say she regretted her vote to authorize use of force in Iraq -- unlike Obama, who always opposed the war, and Edwards, who said his vote for war was a mistake -- turned off many anti-wars liberals in Iowa, who make up a disprortionate number of caucus goers.

In May 2007, Mike Henry, then Clinton's deputy campaign manager, thought the terrain so hostile to Clinton he wrote a memo to "propose skipping the Iowa caucuses and dedicating more of Senator Clinton's time and financial resources on the primary in New Hampshire on January 22, the Nevada caucus on January 19, the primaries in South Carolina and Florida on January 29, and the 20 plus state primaries on February 5th."