I'm not usually a fan of A.O. Scott, but this review of the new Will Smith flick is excellent.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Some gay dude is telling Barack Obama to put some meat on the bone. I usually want a guy to buy me a beer before I let him fuck me in the steam room, but hey, some people just aren't into all that preliminary romance. Oh, hey, it's the head of the Human Rights Campaign. Well, that explains his charmingly moronic naïveté. The HRC is one of those bland vehicles through which queers made themselves one more stripe in the dull rainbow of coalition politics, repudiating any radicalism or activism in favor of public-policy-speak and mid-American respectability. While I'm skeptical of the broad utility of protest, at least the dudes and dykes in ACTUP accomplished something other than getting urban Democrats to put little equality stickers on their Priuses. Why should Barack Obama, or any politician, go out on a limb for a constituency that's going to keep voting for him and keep raising money for him and keep manning the phones for him regardless of what he does? Man up, you queens. Why don't you try to infiltrate the inauguration. Throw some fucking shoes. Whip out your dicks. This kind of writing isn't outraged, it's pathetic.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Is this your homework, Larry?
I don't really know what Kudlow is talking about. Hooray, home prices are tumbling! Now Americans without savings are still ineligible for prime mortgages! But what gets me is the apparent conviction of soi-disant conservatives that The Economy™ was all Free Markets and Milty Friedman until about ten seconds ago, when
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov George W. Bush nationalized the world and declared the People's Republic. This is the conservative equivalent of the liberal belief that until the army started buttfucking little boys in abu Ghraib, America had never employed torture, ever, anywhere.
Just in time for the feast of Sol Invictus, American sun god Barack Obama has declared that megapriest Rick Warren will deliver the hocus-pocus at his coronation. I doubt we'll have to look very hard for the hilariously predictable outrage. It occurs to La Digs, again, that to the Democratic party, Progressives are a reliable voting bloc whose pet concerns can be winked at and discarded. Forever. Remember: Progressives are the audience for Whatsammatta wit Kanzis. Oh, do they ever wonder how the poor hicks of the heartland can forever give their affirmation to a political party that doesn't actually give one shit about them! How mysterious is the human heart! How unusual the mind!
Of course, Barack Obama knows, and Joe Biden knows, and Nancy P. and Harry R. know, that if Barry O. dons the scarlet robes of an emperor and has himself crowned Grand Moff of the Universe by the Pope, the Dalai Lama, and the Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Progressives will still come out for the party, before returning to their blurgs to murmur darkly about the traitorous thanksralphery of "purists," whose uncompromising un-commitment to lesser-evilism makes them an eternal target of proggie ire. "The perfect," they cry, "is the enemy of the good." True. But so is the bad. The problem with the Democratic Party is not forgivable imperfection. The problem is that the Democratic Party is evil, vicious, and wrong. Is Rick Warren a vacuous moral apologist for American exceptionalism? Yes! The word for his selection is: appropriate.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I've mentioned many times on this blog that I'm a Trekkie - a fan of the original Star Trek television show. I've loved Trek since I was a kid, but really didn't grow to appreciate it until I got older. At some point I realized that my politics and the liberal, Kennedyesque politics of the show segued.You'll often hear the claim that Star Trek posits an ideal of a cooperative, post-scarcity, universally tolerant and largely utopic future, when in fact its fictive universe presents a deracinated, militaristic hierarchy as humanity's destiny. Which, when you think about it, is Kennedy-esque, isn't it? Star Trek was mostly zippity-doo space opera, and I feel a little guilty for picking on its tissue-paper politics, but you do have to wonder why enlightened humanity chooses to whisk among the stars in a bad facsimile of a 19th-century navy? In that regard, the missing detail is a realistic portrayal of sodomy.
-Blogger Dean Wormer
I don’t want to kill the animal spirits that necessarily drive capitalism — but I don’t want to be eaten by them either.If ever there were a man who be-bopped through life with the Theme from Rocky on endless loop in his brain, that man is Tom Friedman. Here's a guy who'd go out to the desert to eat peyote and have a vision of the inside of Best Buy.
Haha. Famous blackface comedian Juan Williams says the Iraqis are ingrates for not loving our boot stomping on a human face . . . forever! I agree! Juan Williams also wrote a very interesting book about something called "Civil Rights" in which he exhorts the Negro to be grateful to the White Man because he "brought you all the way over here for free, and gave you jobs when you arrived."
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
There are some fine moments in the remade The Day the Earth Stood Still--Keanu telling Jennifer that his true form would "only frighten you"--and a wagon-load of howlers from John Cleese's Nobel for "biological altruism" on down to the giant Play-doh robot (my buddy D. sez, "Gumby, it coulda been you!"). I know that hashing out the spectacular science-and-technology fuck-ups in blockbusters is what the internet was originally designed for, but instead I'm going to talk about our hilariously backward pop-cultural ideas about science as demonstrated in this movie.
All right. One mathematical malapropism, just to wet your whistle. Dear Hollywood, exponential does not mean what you think it means. If fetus-Keanu was really growing exponentially, then he would not have fit into that 42 Long, kay? That said.
The central conceit of the film is that the leaders of Earth are not it's machinating politicians and generals, but the scientists, in their noble, apolitical, altruistic quest for the core truths that give meaning to life and . . . Now this, emphatically, is not what science is. There is very little narrative romance in a system of inquiry, experimentation, and verification through which we can discover and describe natural phenomena. And even if scientists were, each and ever' one of 'em, a little metaphysician, it's still a stretch to say that they represent the leadership of the human race: moral, political, spiritual, or otherwise. Robert Oppenheimer was a cosmopolitan and Renaissance man, as concerned as any scientists with questions of philosophy and morality, but he still built the damn bomb when the generals told him to, and when he later expressed reservations about its use, Harry Truman did not give a flying fuck. We could also engage in a digression here about how the military drives technological innovation.
So there's that. The saintly scientist in his cardigan writing equations on the chalkboard of his lovely home is no more a representative of the human race than the flagellant beating himself bloody with repentance while cloistered in some monastery.
These sorts of misconceptions and miscues aside, the more glaring error, one that is relentlessly perpetuated, is that science is an equivalent religion, that it represents not a regularized system of inquiry but a moral philosophy. Scientists in film are always believing in things. John Cleese tells Jennifer Connelly that she must convince Klaatu to spare the earth "not with your science, but with yourself." I mean, why? Cause that pussy is tight, yo? You can't convince aliens to save the earth because of its brilliant minds struggling to understand the nature of their universe. What convinces them is the love of a white chick for her black stepson and her repeated, teary avowals that we can change--because, apparently, of science, which is a sort of new-agey, pacifistic, high-tech, mutualistic Quakerism. This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. That sort of junk. The important thing about Jennifer Connelly is not that she knows what sort of bacteria grow on Europa, or whatever, but that she drives a Prius and loves her little black son. The important thing about John Cleese is that he's hospitable, and plays Bach. But if we've been under observation since we started blowing up the Earth circa the Industrial Revolution, wouldn't the aliens have known about Bach already? Couldn't they have just assassinated Thomas Newcomen and and James Watt? Or just popped down back when the whole destroying the Earth thing was getting underway and said, whoa, like, hold up guys. Or do they have a policy of non-interference except when they opt for total destruction?
I said I wouldn't do this. Look, I am a big fan of science, but the perception of a lack of spirito-cultural unity in the West today cannot be remedied by proposing that sexy-chick scientists and ol' perfessers with Brit accents represent the moral core of humanity as priests once did, or whomever. If narrative exigency required that mankind be saved by a weeping woman, they could've kept her a housewife.
The deeper irony here is that all these schemes were only possible in the first place precisely because we have, until now, lived in a culture with such extraordinarily high levels of trust, a culture in which a customer's bona fides are accepted without question and wealthy people are thought to have earned their money. In our culture, someone like Madoff was trusted precisely because he was rich; because he was a member of the Palm Beach Country Club; because his company worked out of expensive Manhattan offices, most of which were occupied by people doing real jobs. It occurred to no one that a small group of select insiders was also operating a massive fraud scheme on the 17th floor.I'm going to quote a President that Applebaum has previously expressed some respect for. Trust, but verify. "In our culture, someone like Madoff was trusted precisely because he was rich." At the risk of undue didacticism, perhaps, Anne Applebaum, perhaps this represents a flaw in "our culture." Perhaps it would be better if instead of a culture in which people are trusted because they're rich, or one "in which a customer's bona fides are accepted without question," we should strive for a culture in which people are trusted because they are demonstrably trustworthy, and customers' bona fides are accepted because they showed documentary proof of income and made a down payment. Djoo no? I mean, am I wrong, or is Applebaum's elegy just a nostalgia piece for an era when any bozo with French cuffs and a business card on decent paper stock could run a billion-dollar burn? The "high trust culture" whose passing she laments was a culture of universal fraud!
Snoop Dogg Clothing, that's what I'm groomed inOh no, Pat Boone is a-feared of The Gay Hate. I . . . well, I don't believe I could say anything to improve on the gem-like perfection of the column itself. It does contain the seed of a legal philosophy worth refutation, though. No, seriously:
You got my pictures on the wall in your room-in
Girls be complainin' you keep me boomin'
But girls like that wanna listen to Pat Boone
You's a college girl, but that don't stop you from doin'
Come and see the Dogg in a hood near you-in
You don't ask why I roll wit a crew, and
Twist up my fingers and wear dark blue-in
On the eastside, that's the crew I choose
Nothin' I do is new to you
I smack up the world if they rude to you
'Cause baby girl you so beautiful...
-Cordozar Calvin Broadus, Jr.
That's how a free republic works. Our people consecrated our Constitution and determined to live within its provisions, voluntarily. It was determined that the will of the voting majority would rule, though it was subject to change if the majority will changed.Pat Boone, meet the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Ah, meet the Civil War. But look, aside from squabbling over these totally, like, minor details, the term "mob rule" refers to exactly the type of democracy that Boone holds out as the ideal. The United States was specifically designed so as not to be ruled by the whims of popular will. Mr. Boone, meet the United States Senate. Meet the Supreme Court. Meet the procedural stringency for amending the Constitution.
There never were any "rights" granted or designated to those who dissented with the will of the majority, other than the same rights all citizens have to work through the democratic process to accomplish their purposes. No "rights" were ever granted to citizens on the basis of their sexual habits or lifestyle. There simply are no such "rights."
Slavery was abolished, blacks and women obtained the rights to vote, and these true rights were not obtained by threats and violent demonstrations and civil disruption (though these things did occur, of course), but by due process, congressional deliberations and appropriate ratification. This was democracy in action, not mob rule. As noted journalist Thomas Sowell has said, there never was "a right to win." In America, at least the America we've known till now, rights are earned and won in a deliberative, legal way – at the polls.
What never ceases to amaze and astound me, and what is true of patriots of all stripes, whether Progs or Blue Dogs, Christian Conservatives or Lou Dobbs, is that they all profess an undying love for some country that has never existed.
Update: Forgot to mention that this fab shit is via The Balkonator
Patty Fit always gets his man. Though the shit he's spewing is clearly a violation of ethics rules regarding extrajudicial statements and publicity. Don't ya think, jus' mebbe, that "Lincoln would roll over in his grave" might prejudice the fair application of justice?Just in time for Christmas, founding member of the Justice League of America, SHIELD, the United Federation of Planets, the Knights Templar, the Freemasons, the Elks, Rotary, and the United Nations, Patrick Fitzgerald, went and ran his mouth a little to soon. Don't countcher chickins b4 they hatch, bro. No wonder the governorfucker didn't resign. He and Lady McBlagojevich are cackling in the castle: They got nothin' on us! Perhaps we ought to rehearse how Patty Fitz froze a hack journalist in carbonite in order to prove . . . wait, what was that all about again? Something about a guy named MoPed, right? I can't remember. I think it was supposed to bring down the Bush administration, though. Yeah!
Dude should have his fucking license yanked....but the rules never seem to apply to prosecutors.
So it turns out that hazily speculating on pay-for-play political deals is even more uncertainly illegal than . . . pay-for-play political deals themselves. (What we have here, it seems to me, is a series of victimless crimes. - W. Sobchak) It's unclear, in the absence of an absolutely explicit quid pro quo, that promising campaign contributions, jobs, whathaveyou in return for political favors or appointments is illegal.
“This town is full of people who call themselves ambassadors, and all they did was pay $200,000 or $300,000 to the Republican or Democratic Party,” said Mr. Bennett, referring to a passage in the criminal complaint filed against the governor suggesting that Mr. Blagojevich was interested in an ambassadorial appointment in return for the Senate seat. “You have to wonder, How much of this guy’s problem was his language, rather than what he really did?”The last paragraph is some of the most hilariously cracked ethics I've run across. So. To. Get. This. Straight. It's ethical, say, to promise that you'll raise a hundred grand in bundled campaign funds for Senator Such-and-Such in return for his Yea vote on the Rape Wetlands and Kill Babies for America Act, but it's unethical for him to say, hey, if you raise me a hundred thousand in campaign funds, I'll get you a cushy Federal job. Um. So. Yeah.
In presenting his case, Mr. Fitzgerald said Mr. Blagojevich had crossed the line from deal-making to criminality, citing an example in the complaint in which the governor discussed with an aide obtaining a $300,000-a-year job from the Service Employees International Union in return for naming a candidate to the seat.
“We’re not trying to criminalize people making political horse trades on policies or that sort of thing,” Mr. Fitzgerald said. “But it is criminal when people are doing it for their personal enrichment. And they’re doing it in a way that is, in this case, clearly criminal.”
Meanwhile, and for the record, it is equally unclear to me that Abraham Lincoln had any interest in political corruption, one way or other. The idea that opposition to the expansion of slavery in new territories is commensurable with campaign finance policy is probably one to be questioned.
Monday, December 15, 2008
In my family, Christmas has always represented drinking until all hours at an uncle's Christmas Eve party, then drinking bloody marys and eating chopped liver while the young cousins open presents at our grandmother's house the next morning. The moral and aestehtic nightmare of Christmas, for real? One would think that an old commie atheist like Hitch would celebrate the banalization of holiday-time sentiment, the replacement of Jesus with Santa, the restorative paganism of it all. Increasingly, public observance does resemble Saturnalia--a holiday of excess and general merrymaking. This, I propose, is a good thing. Without being too mawkish about it, it seems to me that when a society turns the somber celebration of its predominant hocus-pocus messiah cults into a post-ecumenical seasonal gift-giving festival, well, it's a bright spot in an otherwise dour time for a civilization. Yes, the ubiquity of tinny Christmas Carols is annoying; no, emphatically no, it is not the same thing as murals of Dear Leader on every wall. I mean, I like to hit the bottle from time to time myself, but I try to keep my drunken stumbles through the mall, muttering that Santa Claus is the new Pol Pot, to myself.
Most of the praise for Gus Van Sant's Milk is undeserved. Yes, Sean Penn is extraordinary--I can't think of any other film actor who so fully inhabits the verbal and phyiscal being of his character. His Harvey Milk isn't mere mimicry, and that's very high praise. The film otherwise is competently made, but weakened by Van Sant's mannerism; it is a good biopic, but never transcends the limitations of that genre. Its insistent portrayal of Dan White as a latent homosexual is cheaply Freudian. Its treatment of Milk is hagiographic. Its portrayal of queers in the Castro in the seventies is . . . tame.
I was down on Number 7 earlier in the season, but mostly because I thought he was playing injured when he should be recovering for the run down the stretch. Now that he's got some zip back, Pittsburgh is still bitching about him, even after last night's win. What a gang of whiners. Even if you dispute the touchdown call, the final drive was a beautiful thing to watch. Even if you think that he holds the ball too long, you have to admit that he scrambled well last night. And here's the thing--you've got one of the most-sacked quarterbacks in the league working behind a pretty lousy O-line with a 2nd-tier running game that lacks a power back, and you've got an inconsistent receiver corps, excepting Hines Ward, who are prone to dropped passes (Washington had, what, five last night?), and your kick and punt returners are routinely giving you lousy field position, and the Steelers keep winning anyway. So call me unimpressed by the argument that there's something wrong with our quarterback.