Thursday September 16, 2010
- My President! This is from a week ago but worth repeating. Pres. Obama on Muslim-Americans: “We do not differentiate between them and us. It's just us.” Awful that this most basic American principle needs repeating.
- OK, Dems this is the way you fight back. And media, this is the way you report. Rep. Michele Bachman, Mn., 6th district, and notorious nutjob, aired campaign ads about a supporter of hers, “Jim, the Election Guy”—a step below even Joe the Plumber in idiotic hooks to hang your campaign on—but no one knew who “Jim, the Election Guy” actually was. So Bachman's opponent, Tarryl Clark, began airing ads starring “Jim, the Actual Voter.” Meanwhile, Derek Wallbank of MinnPost, a great news site created by former Star-Tribune reporters, uncovered Jim, the Election Guy.“ First, his name isn't Jim. It's Beau Peregino. Second, he's isn't from the 6th district. Third, he doesn't even live in Minnesota. He lives in Hollywood by way of Maryland. Full story here.
- Meanwhile, we need more Sherry Devlins in the world.
- Nice piece by Charles Pierce over at Esquire on the Tea Party victory of Christine O‘Donnell in the Delaware primary: ”She is what politics produces when you divorce politics from government. She is what you get when you sell to the country that nothing government can do will help, and that the government is an alien thing, and that politics is nothing more than the active public display of impotent grievance.“
- Andrew Sullivan sees this piece by David Weigel as a long overdue takedown of Dinesh D’Souza—he who gave us ”The End of Racism“ in ‘95, and now gives us ”The Roots of Obama’s Rage,“ which D‘Souza ties to anticolonialism in Africa (as opposed to, say, anticolonialism in the U.S or anywhere.). And it is a takedown of D’Souza. Mostly. It's also a takedown of liberals. Weigel makes the tired argument that D‘Souza is only able to get published because he pisses off liberals. If liberals didn’t fight back, he implies, he wouldn't be able to get his crap published. Basically Weigel is counseling the John Kerry route when Kerry was swift-boated in ‘04. Sssshh. If we be quiet, it’ll go away. That worked out well, didn't it? As a liberal, or at least as a Democrat, I feel the problem, generally, isn't that Dems respond; it's the way they respond. For example, I would respond to the title of D‘Souza’s title with peals of laughter. Rage? Obama? He's the calmest man in the room. The rage is all on the other side.
- He's not the best stage actor, his line-readings are sometimes off, but Lawrence Wright's ”My Trip to Al Qaeda,“ directed by Alex Gibney and available on HBO, is worth the time. His perspective on the U.S. is mine and hardly news (we are channeling the worst in us to take on the worst in them), but his perspective on the different societies of the Middle East, borne of decades of reporting, is always fascinating, not the least this tidbit: the Koran specifically cousels against suicide: ”O you who believe! ... do not kill your people; surely Allah is Merciful to you.“ Wright begins by talking about how the attacks of 9/11 seemed like a movie. He then reveals that he wrote that movie, ”The Siege,“ from 1998, which deals with a terror attack in New York City. Yet I wrote the exact opposite in 2005. In ”The Siege,“ the terrorists think small (buses, etc.) and the U.S. reaction is loud and public (rounding up people in stadiums), instead of what actually happened: the terrorists thinking big (WTC) and the U.S. reacting secretively (Guantanamo; Abu Ghraib). 9/11 reminded us of a movie, yes, but it was other, stupider movies. Our reaction then flowed from that—right down to the ”Get off my plane!“ U.S. President.
- Wright also has a good piece in The New Yorker on Park51, those Danish cartoons, and the need of radicals (here and there) to inflate their own importance. ”Those stirring the pot in this debate are casting a spell that is far more dangerous than they may imagine,“ he writes. He means Geller, Gingrich, Ingraham, and the usual suspects over at FOX-News. What they are doing is dangerous and unpatriotic, and they are doing it to inflate their own importance.
- Have you read The New Yorker piece on the Koch brothers, billioniares both, and their war on Obama? Why not?
- Have your read Michael Lewis on the source of Greece's $1.2 trillion debt—or a quarter of a million dollars for every working adult? Wow.
- I wrote for the alternative program, The Grand Salami, for years, from about 1997 to 2002, and I still pick it up when I go to an M's game. There was a nice Ichiro cover in August (right, from the guy who tends to this site), and a smart decision, given the current state of the M‘s, to go with a ”Future Stars“ cover (Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda) for September. But owner Jon Wells needs to get off the schnied and get online—or more online than this. Jon’s never been shy about his opinions and for the last two months he's been smartly proselytizing (fomenting?) against M's President and COO Chuck Armstrong and M's Chairman and CEO Howard Lincoln, the men for whom winning isn't everything, it's the only thing they can't do. They‘re more about ”family friendly“ atmosphere and hydro races. Ideally, Jon would like to see them gone. Pragmatically, since they seem more entrenched than Castro, he wants M’s fans to let them know that winning matters. In this regard, in his last ”Sounding Off“ column, he includes their postal address so you can let them know how you feel. Here it is: Seattle Mariners, P.O. Box 4100, Seattle, WA 98194-0100.
- But it's his previous column, in August, in which Jon compares and contrasts Armstrong to recently deceased Yankees' boss George Steinbrenner and found him wanting, that's the real kicker. Apparently Armstrong didn't like Randy Johnson much. Apparently that's part of the reason RJ was gone midway through the ‘98 season. Then Jon includes a sidenote about the aftermath of one of the most depressing M’s games ever—the final game of the 2001 season, when the M‘s, after winning 116 of 162, were unceremoniously shown the door by the Yankees in five games in the ALCS. I’ve written about it before. Here's what Jon has to say: ”After the M's lost Game 5, I saw Armstrong, with a wide-eyed smile unbefitting a team executive whose team had just seen their dream season end in bitter disappointment, chatting up a security guard in the bowels of Yankee Stadium. I waited until their conversation ended and then asked the guard what Armstrong had been so happy about. He replied, “He said to make sure and beat Randy Johnson and the Diamondbacks in the World Series.” Holy crap. I can't even imagine. The Yankees are the M's were fierce rivals at the time. From ‘95 to ’97 we kind of owned them, but from ‘98 on it was all them. They’d beaten us in the 2000 ALCS (in six games) and now in the 2001 ALCS (in five excruciating games). And this idiot, who actually runs our team, wished them well? Make sure you send your letters. “Dear Beanhead” is always a good beginning.
- Bill James finally comes out on the steroids scandal. With a great deal of common sense, and taking into account the great American personality, he says: Babe Ruth would‘ve done it, too. The Babe brokes the rules. That’s who he was. You can prosecute Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens all you want but... is it really worth it? My favorite lines in the piece: “It is a very American thing, that we don't believe too much in obeying the rules. We are not a nation of Hall Monitors; we are a nation that tortures Hall Monitors.”
- This is one of the lamest defenses of lameness I’ve ever read. Fred Fox, Jr., the writer of that “Happy Days” episode where Fonzie jumps the shark, claims the show didn’t “jump the shark” on his watch because…wait for it… it went on for six more seasons! And it was in the top 25 for five of them. So it didn't jump the shark because popular = good. Dude's been in the sun too long. Or L.A. Or both.
- R.I.P., Kevin McCarthy. You‘ll always be Dr. Miles J. Bennell to me. (Or Victor Eugene Scrimshaw.)
- R.I.P., Harold Gould. You’ll always be Kid Twist to me. (Or Rhoda's debonair dad.)
- R.E.P., Claude Chabrol. I need to see more of your movies. Or—yikes—one of them? Bad movie critic, bad movie critic.
- R.I.P. Don Quixote? Eight years ago I reviewed the documentary, “Lost in La Mancha,” about Terry Gilliam's failed attempt to make a Don Quixote story, and about why his attempt to make a Don Quixote story failed—when directors such as Coppola and Herzog, beset by their own on-set disasters, succeeded. Well, apparently Gilliam's at it again. Not at making the movie; at failing to make the movie. Warning: not the best writing. The Independent should be better than that, shouldn't it?
- Finally, what's wrong with the ad below—which I first saw on Rotten Tomatoes—besides the call-out to an “On-Set Cat Fight!” starring apparently Betty White? Yeah, names and faces. The faces have a kind of symmetry—mothers flanking daughters, with grandma caught in the middle—but since billing is set in stone (or contracts), I'd order the faces to match the billing. Because this just looks weird.