Friday, August 10, 2012

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) I love this story so much, I want to have sex with it. Imagine the people interviewed as their friends all read the article. Some of the quotes are-- dare I say it?-- juicy.
4) As bad as Mitt's trip to London et al were, this weekend may prove even worse for him.
5) Dear Lord, I don't ask for things often, but here. Please. Let this story prove true in its implications.
6) If you're going to watch the conventions, you can at least watch them on the liberal's network. It's sad that the promise of a network for the progressive voice has had such a tough time attracting viewers, but let's face facts: Cenk and Co is the worst political show on the TeeVee (all due respects to my friends who work there), Stephanie Miller should be on prime time, and Jennifer Granholm is great for wonks, but needs to be in the ten PM slot. Ever since Keith Olbermann and Current parted ways, there's no reason to watch programming that's only going to echo what you can read online. None of these folks can interview worth a damn and none of them has a personality (Granholm excepted) worth a bucket of spit.
Or you can hire me, Mr. Vice President. I'll get you ratings.
7) Next time you squash that worm, don't be surprised if it crunches.
9) This might be the only thing to get me to tune in the RNC in Tampa. If Obama can tie Mitt Romney to these clowns, and it sure would be hard to miss the connection, then all bets are off for the next two election cycles, a la Pat Buchanan in 1992.
10) Well, at least it was easy to get directions.
I'll be on vacation next week so postings will be light. I'll try to get on and give you my best but I'll be relaxed-- and probably drunk-- so my snark fu will be wanting.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Which Issue Wins?

The truthful one, or the made up shit?
On Wednesday, President Obama flew to Colorado, a key battleground, where he pushed the issue of access to contraceptives, which is also the subject of a campaign ad in swing states featuring quotes from Romney attacking Planned Parenthood.

In Denver, Obama was introduced by Sandra Fluke, the
Georgetown University law student who briefly became a political celebrity this spring when her comments about the need for Catholic universities to provide contraceptive coverage drew an attack by radio host Rush Limbaugh, who called her a "slut."

While Obama sought to expand the gender gap, which is especially pronounced among single women, Romney spent a second day going after the president about welfare, using a line of attack that centers on the administration's willingness to let states change current welfare-to-work rules.
Time's up.
The problem with Romney's ridiculous attack is how it's so easily refutable. Indeed, Romney as governor asked for a waiver on the work requirement of welfare reform. He can run all the ads he wants but the first time the issue is brought up in debate-- or indeed, any issue like healthcare reform that Romeny was against being against before he was against being for-- Obama will hammer him for denying other people the same opportunities the people of Massachussetts have.
Which keys into the whole "elitist, out of touch, aphotic asshole" trope that Romney seems to determine to run on.
Meanwhile, President Obama's issue of the rollback of women's rights seems to be a sure-fire winner, in that it has the truth solidly behind it with someone in front of the issue who's stance on it has been solid: no one questions Obama's commitment to women's rights and equality. From the Lily Ledbetter Act to the confirmation of Elena Kagan to the SCOTUS, no President has been as firmly on the side of women as Obama. Clinton, maybe, but you'd have to ignore the whole "Slick Willie" side of him.
Romney and Obama are both appealing to fears, but only Obama's fear-mongering has the truth behind it and that's thanks to the GOP as a whole. From Virginia's transvaginal ultrasound to South Carolina's support for read that correctly...women across the nation should and are going to be terrified to vote for a Republican.
And who would blame them?

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

"Sheik" Shack

#Romneyshambles does it again.

How Bad Is It Getting Out There?

Pretty bad. The economy has forced people to make some harsh and even bizarre choices.
I suspect bad times are coming, and the really weird part of it all is, we all know they're coming but many of us want to be blinkered and in denial about them, as if somehow they'll go away if we just cover our eyes.
They won't. What's worse, they seem determined to ignore that there is an actual, real problem out there, that affects hundreds of millions of people who aren't part of the 1%. They prefer to smear an honest hard-working President and a party that has offered countless times to compromise to move the nation away from the brink.
They want to watch us burn. They want to see this nation go down in flames, not in a puff of glory as befits the glory that was the American century, but laden with trash and poisons and detritus. And they'll steer it off the cliff if they have to.
The irony is, as the stories I linked to in the first paragraph indicate, the economic doldrums are starting to impact even their base: the one percent and the moronic knuckleheads who would support them the way a serf supports a tyrannical baron.
The morons say that "greed is good," but for who? Cui bono? Those who already have and no matter how hard you attach yourself remora-like to a shark, eventually the shark eats even you when it runs out of fish. And if you don't already have the teeth and jaws, it doesn't matter that you outlasted the rest of us. You ain't a shark, that makes you bait.
What happens when the sharks look around and realize they've even eaten the remoras?

Clear Yet, Sugartits?

This is punk rock. It sees a corrupt and evil society and wants it changed. Occupy Wall Street are the true descendants of punk rock.
This is hate rock. Its mostly white adherents want to see a corrupt and evil society made even more corrupt and evil. Ann Althouse and her minions are the true descendants of hate rock.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Pooch Screwed? Check.

It really comes down to this: too little, too late.
How do I know this? Even FOX News has backed off from global warming denial.

Gentle And Kind And Loving...

...for a Nazi. Children don't fall into patterns of hate. They learn them. As Denis Leary puts it, "You know what my two year old hates? Naps. That's all."
And yet, somewhere along the way, this man turned into a monster. The sad thing is, in this country we'll never find out why. We don't want to know, I'm guessing, because that knowledge would force us to take a closer look at those around us and realize, there but for the grace of God goes yet another monster.
He has a stepmother. His dad is at least once divorced (from the stepmother). It doesn't sound like a stable "biblical" marriage, as conservatives are wont to put it. Indeed, conservatives are backpedaling as quickly as possible from this tragedy, despite the fact that skinheads, when they actually are religious, tend to be synonymous with a particularly brutish and nasty strain of Christianity called Christian Identity. CI turns Revelations into a race war, much like people like Robertson and other evangelicals have turned the book into a struggle against Islam. 
Had it been the other way, an Indian shooter in a Catholic church, say, you can bet conservatives would be screaming bloody murder.
The gun shop where Wade Page purchased his gun says he didn't stand out. He probably wouldn't. Indeed, his photos suggest more of a computer nerd than a killer.
But here's the thing: he likely drifted along a loner in life. His family had fallen apart, his father likely abandoned the boy in search of his own needs, his mother and stepmother probably identified him with his dad and left him alone. We can make some educated guesses at how his father was to live with, but for libel's sake I will not.
He was a kid, trying to raise himself, without the cultural counterpoint of adult involvement, just exploitation. He was probably a weapon in the family struggles.
When he identified with the neo-Nazi movement, he found a focus for the rage that almost certainly had to be bubbling up behind his calm exterior. As he became more confident in himself, that rage likely expressed itself more overtly. For instance, he was not discharged from the army, just not asked to re-enlist. He was found drunk on duty and went AWOL at least once. These are signs of acting out an internal drama (and possibly re-living his family life.)
Playing in a band satisfied some of his darker urges. Any artist will tell you that in their art they find release. For Page, release was in the form of a relief valve, a way to express his rage through music. And it gave him the one thing he could never find anyplace else: approval.
See, he wasn't an introvert. No introvert gets up on stage and spews anything, much less hate. No, I think he had resigned himself to the fact that he was never going to find love and approval from people, so when the chance to do just that presented itself, he leaped at it.
We'll never truly understand what has happened here, however. What final frustration pushed him over the edge, what was the nail in the coffin of six people and Page.
The shame of it is, as the first Clinton administration demonstrated, that rage is building in segments of society and can only burst out in other places. For that, there are no atheists or Christians or skinheads to blame.
There is only ourselves.

Monday, August 06, 2012

The Sikh Tragedy

My heart goes out to the Sikh community. It saddens me that the folks who are most innocent sometimes end up paying the worst price for their innocence.
No snark, no polticization of the gun issue except to say there has to be a better way to keep weapons out of the hands of the criminally insane and the criminally stupid.

Just For Laughs

Mitt Romney's pretty much acknowledging he's screwed the pooch.

The nation has met Barack Obama's Mitt Romney. If it's going to meet Romney's version of himself, it will happen this month, or not at all.

It was supposed to start last month, with picked-up ad spending and a foreign trip built around a choreographed Olympic moment. But the foreign trip fell flat amid distractions at every stop, and Democrats continued to break through with their assault on Romney's transparency and business record.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus fired back today on ABC News' "This Week," calling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "a dirty liar" for his unsubstantiated suggestion that Romney didn't pay taxes for a decade.

"This is just a made-up issue," Priebus said. "And the fact that we're going to spend any time talking about it is ridiculous."

Romney completely misplayed the tax issue, in my opinion. You can hold off on releasing documents-- look at the President and the birth certificate issue-- but you have to have a better explanation than "None you business." Literally, that's what Ann Romney said and since Mitt was either dumb enough or smart enough not to publicly walk that comment back, I have to assume he agrees and supports his wife.

After all, win or lose, he has to live with Ann after the election.

I'm sure that what is in those returns is more personally embarassing than politically damaging, and if Romney was as smart as I am, he would have issued those returns in one huge dump, then turned the conversation to tax reform, saying something like, "Look, I'll gladly pay more taxes if the American people decide that there's a determined amount of inequality between the rich and the middle class, so let's have that conversation now." Saying stuff like "paid all I was legally obligated to" sounds reminiscent of Al Gore's "no controlling legal authority."

It's a good thing Mitt didn't wag his finger at the cameras, or suddenly we're in "I did not sleep with that woman" territory.

It's a little hard, too, to deny the American people transparency when you've claimed a) your opponent runs a corrupt and secretive administration and b) you've demanded past opponents be more forthcoming about their taxes-- even asking one to release her husband's tax returns for full disclosure.

Romney's only real chance at any kind of reboot, and even here, it's warm beer, is his choice for Veep. He could choose a dynamic fighter (like a Rick Santorum) that might energize the base and give that person a leg up in 2016.

After all, no matter what, Romney's already lost this election. His best tactic at this point is to shore up the base, and make them stay mad at Obama and not the party. Sadly, choosing either of the front-runners, Rob Portman or Tim Pawlenty, will have precisely the opposite effect on the Teabaggers and will throw the entire party into a tizzy.

In fact, I'm not convinced that John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin was not dictated in large part by the writing on the wall of a large Obama victory.

But to think that Romney can reboot into some sort of competitor for the President is silly. At best, he can burn bridges behind him and slow the juggernaut down. He cannot beat Obama.


BFFs (Best Films Forever, No Takebacks!)

I always have a hard time picking a "ten best" when it comes to movies, because I see how I end up scoring other people's lists and then realize that I'm probably missing something. Like the BFI list. I take issue with replacing Citizen Kane with Vertigo. Did I miss something? Vertigo is a fine film, but it's not Citizen Kane. And it's not close to a best ten films. It's not even Hitchcock's best film.
Most of the BFI top ten I can either agree with (see below) or understand. A couple, notably La Règle du jeu and Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, I've not seen yet. The trouble with American television is...and yes, IFC, I'm looking squarely at you...there's no outlet for films like these except the rare retrospective.
Also, I should note that the BFI is currently running a Hitchcock retrospective. I smell a rat.

But I digress...

So for this exercise, I decided to split my list in two, and pick my five favorite films, followed by the five films I think are the best ever made, and why.

My five favorite films are those movies that I will always make a point of seeing, even if it's only snippets, whenever I see they are on the TeeVee. These are films that evoke a strong emotional reaction in me, that allow me to escape the drudgery of daily life and live in someone else's world for a while.

In other words, these are films that are great books. 

1) Star Wars (parts IV, V, and VI) -- Yes, it's a Saturday morning cowboy serial writ large with technology. And yes, it evokes not only the emotions of the story-- who doesn't grin at the denouement?-- but the environmental memories of the first time you saw it, either in the theatre in 1977 like me, or sitting in your living room likely with family or friends. The mythological themes of good v. evil and redemption, a son's search, the hero's quest, the protective deity embodied in the kindly wizard, these are all as powerful and timeless today as they were 35 years ago. 

2) Love, Actually -- If you have not seen this film, rent it. In my opinion, it is the greatest Christmas movie ever made. It is certainly the greatest romantic comedy ever made, with nary a Ben Stiller or Cameron Diaz to be found. The laughs here are not broad, but pointed and pointedly about people you know and the dilemma that faces all of us at various times in our lives: where is love? I happened to see it, again, the other evening and by the credits, I had tears of joy running down my cheeks. Again.

3) Animal Crackers -- The great tragedy of film is that it's static. You get to see the director's idea of the best performance. The wonder of Animal Crackers starring the Marx Brothers is that they rehearsed this play for months on Broadway before they decided to film it so the entire cast knew exactly which lines would get the best reaction from the audience. You know just about every line of dialogue from this film and despite being 80 years old and containing topical humor of the day, it holds up pretty well into contemporary times. Still, it makes you long for a time machine to go back and watch this show over and over again live.

4) Citizen Kane -- Orson Welles' attempt at political mockery of William Hearst is one of the most scathing and subversive films ever made. The cinematography is to die for and makes the movie screen become a character in the film, not just a simple palette for the story as with so many film noir movies.  Indeed, Welles' use of camera positions makes us feel like voyeurs and Citizen Kane may be the first and best Lifetime Original Movie ever made.

5) Casablanca -- What can I say about this film that you don't know already, except that there isn't a man alive who doesn't want to be Rick Blaine and not a woman alive who doesn't want to be Ilsa Lund. By the end of the movie, I want to run out and buy a trench coat. 

And now, for the best films ever made. I'm leaving two obvious ones off the list, Citizen Kane and Casablanca, because that would be cheating. Let me preface my list by saying these are in no particular order.

1) The Godfather-- Specifically, part 2 (let's just forget the third film, shall we?) Tracing the rise of Vito Corleone from young and presumably illegal immigrant to boss of his own mob, and paralleling that to the successes and personal failures of his son Michael as a reluctant crime boss was a stroke of genius. They say it's lonely at the top and with this movie, we understand why. 

2) Seven Samurai -- I could have made this list with nothing but Kuroasawa films-- Ran, Rashomon, Yojimbo-- but Seven Samurai is the most accessible movie for Western audiences. Indeed, this movie was remade as The Magnificent Seven. It is a parable of self-reliance and fallen heroes, and while it contains every archetypal character in moviedom, Kurosawa never allows them to slip into caricature. 

3) Rear Window -- Hitchcock makes this list as well, but with a far more powerful and far less cartoonish film. Rear Window is a claustrophobic monster film that takes place entirely within a hundred feet of the protagonist, L. B. Jeffries (played by Jimmy Stewart), who is wheelchair bound after breaking his leg on a photographic assignment. His apartment is not ADA-friendly, so he cannot leave his house and must rely on his girlfriend (Lisa Fremont, played by Grace Kelly) and his nurse Stella, played by Thelma Ritter. He believes he has witnessed a murder, but cannot prove a thing because, hello, wheelchair. 

4) Singin' In The Rain -- This is the movie that should contain the line "You're going out a youngster but you've got to come back a star!" Sadly, someone else beat them to it.

5) 2001: A Space Odyssey -- The single most visually stunning movie of all time. Made in 1968, before the advent of CGI and digital imaging, 2001 will blow you away.