- Are you counting down with Alex Pareene's “Hack Thirty”—the 30 worst, most insufferable political pundits—on Salon? It's brutal and fun. Hard to believe there are 29 worse than David Brooks, who begins festivities at no. 30, but I suppose in the scheme of things he's a lightweight. Consider no. 26, Jeffrey Goldberg of The New Yorker, of whom Pareene writes, “There's a special circle of hell for the journalist whose mendacity or incompetence directly leads to actual war.” Pareene, late of gawker.com, has a thing for exclamation points and the jugular, and so far (until he gets to someone I like?), it feels like something we're not used to in the cable-news/internet age: It feels like accountability. Here's Goldberg's representative quote, from the build-up to the Iraq War, hoisting himself:
“There is not sufficient space, as well, for me to refute some of the arguments made in Slate over the past week against intervention, arguments made, I have noticed, by people with limited experience in the Middle East (Their lack of experience causes them to reach the naive conclusion that an invasion of Iraq will cause America to be loathed in the Middle East, rather than respected).”
- Hendrik Hertzberg takes down Glenn Beck for his B.S. takedown of George Soros. Job done (but never done), Hertzberg then takes questions for New Yorker readers and assorted FOX nutjobs. Watch for the ones accusing the opposition of their own crimes. These people won't be happy until they destroy democracy. Don Segretti is the new norm.
- David Frum takes down Sarah Palin. Via Tweet.
- A reminder—again and again and again and again—which party is the truly fiscally responsible party during the last 30 years. Hint: It's not the party of voodoo economics. H.W. was right back in 1980. He was right in 1990, too, but the rich turned on him. They ate their own.
- James Surowiecki on how seniors voted earlier this month. It's not pretty. “The very people who currently enjoy the benefits of a subsidized, government-run insurance system,” Surowiecki writes, “are intent on keeping others from getting the same treatment.” I should add, in defense of the elderly, and with some small amount of pride: Not my old man. He's generally to the left of me. Don't mention George W. to him, for example, around anything flammable.
- I would like to live in a world where I could disagree with Andrew Sullivan more often—where we're both not fending off the idiocies of the right and thus in constant agreement—but here's a post with which I disagree. He's high on Bjorn Lomborg's “Cool It” doc, which I haven't seen, but for which I saw trailers; and for most of the trailer I assumed this guy was a global warming denier. He certainly positions himself that way. I think Andrew O'Hehir gets him right in his movie review, whereas Andrew Sullivan unjustly writes “O'Hehir whines from the right.”
- Great piece by Dave Kehr on the first cog in the star machine, Charlie Chaplin, whose movies at the Keystone Studios in 1914 are now available on DVD. “It was now possible for a performer to appear before widely different audiences in widely separated corners of the world,” Kehr writes, “and Chaplin was the first to feel the full impact of this new kind of celebrity.” In case anyone's thinking Xmas presents for yours truly.
- Nice Dave Niehaus obit by his former broadcasting partner Ken Levine. “People in the Pacific Northwest clung to his every word,” Levine writes. “The attraction was not the team; it was listening to Dave. His passion for the game, vivid descriptions, and magnificent voice made any baseball game sound exciting, even a Mariners’.”
- In between rants about the TSA, Tim Harrison nudges the M's on how they might, finally improve.
- Uncle Vinny, with whom I'm taking that Hitchcock class at Northwest Film Forum, drinks the Kool-Aid on Hitchcock. But it's FrenchKool-Aid,and il a tres soif.
- Finally, my favorite show on television right now may be the little-seen “Bored to Death,” about a failing writer who takes up detective work, and which just finished its second season on HBO. The lead character, named for the creator, Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman), is the opposite of hard-boiled; he's part of my touchy-feeling generation, forever drinking white wine, forever engaging people in conversations about heart-felt issues. Example: In one episode, Jonathan worries about the size of his penis and mentions it to his friend, Ray (Zach Galifianakis), while they're at a cafe in Brooklyn. Then he asks him to come into the bathroom to check him out. Watching, I thought: “Like Hemingway and Fitzgerald in ”'A Moveable Feast.'“ A second later, Jonathan says, ”Hemingway checked out Fitzgerald when he went through a crisis like this. He wrote about it in A Moveable Feast.“ ”Bored to Death“ is a show for every literary person who fears for the death of the literary; who cares for the literary in an off-hand but all-encompassing way. I haven't even mentioned the best part yet: Ted Danson is to ”Bored to Death“ as Alec Baldwin is to ”30 Rock." Brilliant. Check it out. And don't tell me you don't get HBO. There's a thing called DVDs now, and DVD players? You put one into the other and, boom, you have shows to watch.