Sunday, November 30, 2008

Chick Flicks

Since being drug in to see the Sex And The City movie, I have seen Mamma Mia, and now Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2.

1) They are emotionally sophisticated. You can, if you look, generally see the manipulations, and in fact, it was because I liked deconstructing these manipulations that I've come to enjoy the genre. But compare the carefully constructed and thought-out characters in even a simplistic chick flick, like SATC, to a male-oriented film, like, say, any of the Bourne movies, and it's no contest. The Bourne films have simple characters driven by simple motivations, whose interactions with each other seldom involve more than gunshots. In a chick flick, the interactions are the whole point of the movie. A male movie is about the action, the what; a female movie is about the who, the why. Action films center on technique: cool car chases, well choreographed fight scenes, pacing; chick flicks center on dialogue. Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue.

2) Chick flicks seem to focus on relationships between women. Men are necessary, but entirely peripheral, actors, little more than props and plot devices. I have never in my life known a woman who had relationships with other women like the idealized ones you see in these films. In fact, I've never known a group of women who could stand each other for very long. Pairs, yes, but get more than two together for any period of time and trouble has always been the result. I have no idea why this is, but the stark contrast between the reality of female interaction and its idealized version in these films is jarring to me. Why is reality so incredibly different from what women seem to want, based on what I see in these films?

This isn't intended as a put down, as man movies are no more realistic. Arnold or Stallone or someone shooting their way through a roomful of bad guys is no more realistic than these sisterhood things. Man movies have gotten somewhat better than they were in the 80s, but not all that much. But the point is, if women really wanted to have these beautiful, perfect relationships with each other it would seem to be something they can create, whereas the idealized world of a man movie is an impossible fantasy.

The women I know I could talk to about this and get some answers aren't the kind of women who watch these films, while the women I know who watch and enjoy them haven't been able to give me any answers, and sometimes get annoyed with me when I try to bring the subject up. :/

One further point: why isn't anyone making movies of those romance novels that seem to sell so well? You'd think there's a market for them.

To finish up this mental doodle, a more realistic chickish flick which I just saw was Rachel Getting Married. Outstanding acting all throughout, especially from Anne Hathaway, who bounces back from what I thought was a listless performance in Get Smart, and the long MIA Debra Winger, who fell off the map and now, we can hope, will re-emerge, although I don't know what kind of roles she will be able to find. But she's still as gifted as ever, and there's something about her, even in her 50s, that draws your eyes to her wherever she is onscreen, or at least for me. If she can't get good filmwork maybe she can do something on stage. Way too much talent to let it waste.

Anyway, the female relationships in this movie are much more realistic than in classic chick flicks. The women fight, they vie with each other, they don't care for each other, men are in the center, not on the periphery -- just much more like real life. And that's probably why an excellently made and acted film like this one will likely do about half as much business as a fantasy movie would have.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


To create an "expert" by giving someone a book deal. In cases where their credentials are particularly thin, you can also make them a member of some panel or think tank. Then you bring them out to argue a position legitimate experts will not risk their reputations over.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

By their enemies...

The Beltway -- wrong about everything since 1992 -- is so happy with everything Obama does that I'm getting a little concerned. They fought Clinton tooth and nail, and he ran a highly successful presidency. They bowed down to George Bush for six years, and he ran the country into the ground.

Sometimes I think that politics is like a play. You need some tension -- some conflicting motives, unease, suspense, some drama -- to bring out the best in the actors. And the audience. The Republicans in Congress aren't going to be the lap dogs in opposition the Democrats were, so I imagine there will be some fireworks here and there, but I feel we would be better served if Obama was being challenged by something more than an intellectually bankrupt political movement led by the likes of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell. The Washington press corps is at least as intellectually bankrupt as the Republican Party is, but maybe this would be a case of quantity making do for quality.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mindless partisanship

The thought strikes me that when the Democrats took power in 1932, they went on to win WWII, end the Depression, lay the groundwork for winning the Cold War, and firmly establish the principle of equal rights for all, regardless of skin color or gender. When the Republicans took power, they embroiled the country in a disastrous war, took a nasty shit on the constitution, and destroyed the economy. In about 1/12 the time the Democrats had. It's so ridiculous that my reflexive instinct is to say it's all absurd, that I'm being some kind of mindless partisan. But I keep trying to think my way around it, and I really can't. I can point to instances of bad times under the Democrats, of a blunder here, an excess there, but overall, the period between 1932 - 2000 was the best 70 years in the history of this country. It was one long stretch of growing prosperity, prestige, power, influence, respect, and freedom. To go from that to where we are now -- how is that possible?

Ben Stein's Money

Who'da thunk Ben Stein, most recently seen in the awful Expelled, has a soul?

Stein now finds himself fighting a dragon he's helped to feed. To his credit, he's fought this battle before, speaking out against tax cuts for the wealthy despite, I'm sure, being pretty wealthy himself, but people like Stein, and Kathleen Parker, and Powell, and Scott McClellan, and so on -- what do they expect? They've been watching these sorts of things play out for years, often taking part in them themselves, and now when the Crazy Train that is modern conservatism has worked up a full head of crazy steam and is heading for a cliff, welp, there are going to be some cuts and bruises and broken bones after they jump off.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Boy In The Striped Pajamas

1) I'm tired of Holocaust literature.

2) There's something so human about this story it transcends the genre.

3) I'm still tired of Holocaust literature. Isn't there evil out there right now we can directly explore through film? This story, with a few changes, could have been set in Rwanda or the former Yugoslavia or hell, Israel, for that matter, and been just as touching and even more relevant. Come on film industry, step outside the lines.


Almost against my will, Obama continues to win me over. I have not one bad thing to say about his cabinet selections to date, except to complain about letting a Republican take over for Napolitano in my former state of Arizona. But even there, from what I've been able to glean, DHS has been so mis-run by Bushism that he needed someone super-competent to clean house, and Napolitano is super-competent. Taking Hillary on as SecState was a slap in the face to the Beltway class, the first time Obama has ever done such a thing that I can remember. And I think he's doing Hillary a big favor in giving her this shot at a role where she can operate without the Washington Babble constantly attacking her. It's a magnanimous gesture, and one I hope a lot of people will remember. My one caveat there is that people ooohed and aaaahed over Bush's cabinet picks, and they turned out to be the most ill-managed, dismal collection of ideologues to inhabit the White House in modern history. I don't think that will happen here, if for no other reason because Obama is half again the man Bush is, but a team of well regarded sub-chiefs does not a success make. But you take an intelligent, thoughtful guy, mix in a strong cabinet, and the willingness to show some sac every once in awhile:

and how can he fail?

The key line is the last: "It is time to act. And as the next President of the United States, I will." My guess is he'd rather avoid making semi-Bushian statements like these, but Bush and the obstructionist Republicans in Congress aren't doing shit while panic is re-asserting itself in the markets, so he had no choice. I think he's committed to going in there and doing whatever it takes to save the economy, the simpering chatter of the Beltway be damned. And that's exactly what it's going to take to get things done. Unfortunately, lacking an equivalent to Fox News and Rush and the gang, a Democratic President needs the Beltway to be at least non-hostile if they're going to get their message out to the public, but the message of a ruined economy speaks a lot louder than Brian Williams and Charlie Gibson and the rest of the dullards.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


One of the things that I can't stop marveling at is how much we keep paying and paying and paying for having given an ideologue, know-nothing movement so much power in this country. It isn't just Iraq, it isn't just the meltdown and the "deep recession" -- no, you'd think that would be enough. But the party that brought us George Bush and Sarah Palin, the Iraq War and nuclear Korea, Terri Schiavo and a cut in stem cell research, Katrina and the economic meltdown -- yes, these same people -- want to roll the dice on the economy some more, by letting Detroit fail:

As a new bout of fear gripped the financial markets, stocks fell sharply again on Thursday, continuing a months-long plunge that has wiped out the gains of the last decade.

The credit markets seized up as confidence in the nation’s financial system ebbed and people rushed to put money in Treasuries, the safest of investments. Some markets are now back to where they were before Congress approved the $700 billion financial rescue in October.

And what do these witless ideologues get in return for their dice roll? Nothing more than the warm feeling of having adhered to an economic and political philosophy that the vast majority of them don't understand.

How many trillions of dollars will this nation pay for the gross self indulgence of eight long years of Bushism? Nobody knows, and not knowing is a problem. But an even bigger problem is that the Bush-Palin-Shelby-Coburn Republicans don't care.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Go Franken!

Franken closes the gap on Coleman.

According to data just released by the Minnesota Secretary of State, Al Franken has gained a net of 43 votes on the first day of that state's recount process. Norm Coleman had a lead of 215 voters over Franken in Minnesota's certified, pre-recount tally; that margin is now 172 votes.

Minnesota reports that it has thus far recounted 15.49 percent of its ballots. If the first day's results are indicative of the pace that the candidates will maintain throughout the recount process, Franken would gain a net of 278 votes over Colmean [sic], giving him a narrow victory. For any number of reasons, however, the results reported thus far may not be indicative of future trends.

Getting rid of Dole, Coleman, and Stevens is like a political triple play. Franken is now a 3:2 favorite on Intrade, which means it ain't over yet.

(Almost) All the right moves

I've always liked Tom Daschle, and I like what I'm beginning to think is Obama's unwavering focus. I think the odds are now pretty good that Obama means business, that he's going to find a way to get things done, that he's going to do the things it will take to succeed. And as long as he gets reasonable breaks, I think he will succeed. This is the first time I've been truly impressed by Obama; until now he struck me as a charismatic, but otherwise ordinary, pol. He ran a mediocre campaign, but it was good enough to win. Having mediocre relations with a Congress like this one will not be good enough to win; as Bill Clinton discovered with the whole impeachment fiasco, it might not even be good enough to finish. Daschle, with his years of experience and contacts in the Senate, gives Obama the best imaginable shot at having good relations with Congress. It's still early, but so far it looks like Obama really gets this governing stuff, and I'd rather have someone who gets governing than someone who gets campaigning any day of the week.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Madam President

It looks like Hillary is a go for Secretary of State. And the more I think about it, the more I think I was wrong about this move helping her ambitions, because of a key point. The only reason we aren't calling her "President-elect Hillary Clinton" is because of 15 years of press corps hostility. All the stories, the gross misogyny, constant negative attention, distortions, absurd allegations of race baiting -- these were the difference in a razor close campaign.

Now, one of the interesting features of the SecState position is that I can't think of a single Secretary of State who is disliked by many people. Not Kissinger, not Rice, not even the colorless George Schultz. They get in the news when they are flying around the world trying to put out fires, and when they go on those talking head shows they are treated with deference because they are, in many respects, the face of the country to the outside world -- bashing Sec State Hillary is a different ballgame from bashing candidate or Senator Hillary. So Secretary of State gives Hillary a platform from which she can project an image unfiltered by Chris Matthews' Washington. And it gives her a national platform, as opposed to the regional one she has as a New York Senator, or even a New York Governor. If she and Obama are able to achieve some success, particularly in the Middle East -- and I suspect Obama has every intention of doing that -- all the Chris Matthewses in the world would be hard put to continue blackguarding her in 2016.

All that being said, I still think she could do more for the country in the Senate. If all the pull on President Obama comes from the right, that's the direction he's likely to lean in. There is no national figure besides Hillary around whom some kind of left movement could even possibly coalesce. Getting her out of the Senate is good for Obama, good for Hillary, but bad for those of us who don't trust Obama.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Hillary out of the Senate removes the natural focus of any Democratic Party dissent to Obama's presidency. This is essentially the same Senate that rolled over and bared its ass for George Bush for eight years. Take Hillary, her supporters, and her ambition out of the equation, and no one is likely to even try to keep Obama honest. And he would seem to need the help in that area, as all politicians do. I hope like hell she looks over his offer and decides to pass. She can do a lot more for the country, and for herself where she is. Someone has to drive the healthcare debate; someone's got to be a voice for women and the working class, and right now that's Hillary.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Me likee

No selling ideological horseshit like Bush would have done, just "We have problems and we're going to solve them." Ideology, whether left, right, center, or "bipartisan," doesn't matter -- getting the job done matters. Ideology is a tool, not an end.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Distance from power makes the mind grow less disgusted.

Somehow Bill O'Reilly is much less obnoxious when the ideas he supports are separated from being realized by a Democratic President and Congress. I might even come to feel neutral about him -- if the Dems also had the Supreme Court.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

War Of The Words

Here's Matthews, campaigning for 2010:

It wasn't a good performance on Matthews' part, but what I found interesting was the Republican flack getting out the "It's still a center-right country" thing, even able, over Matthews' ranting, to get in a reference to the exit polls showing 30-odd percent of the voters identify as conservative, only 22% as liberal. This is a potent stat, all the more so considering that Matthews and his colleagues are a little bit intellectually flabby. It's going to be trotted out again and again by Republican flacks and their whipping boys in the "liberal media" -- as long as they aren't planning on running for a Senate seat as a Democrat, like Matthews is.

If the Democrats are serious about "change" they are going to have to defeat this talking point, both when the flacks and when the Broders keep chanting it in the face of all other evidence, both electoral and poll-wise, showing that people really do want the Democrats to shake things up. The obvious way of doing this would be to say, "I don't care about 'liberal' or 'conservative' -- I care about issues. And on these issues -- healthcare, social security, jobs, the tax system, foreign policy -- the public agrees with our agenda. You can call it a liberal agenda or a conservative agenda -- in fact, you can call it what you want to call it. But that's what I was elected to enact, and that's what I'm going to spend the next four years pushing for." If the Democrats and Chris Matthewses allow themselves to get bogged down by meaningless, undefined words and phrases like "liberal" (what does the public mean by "liberal"? None of those exit polls ever says), and "center-right country", and "Democratic overreach," they will end up getting very little done.


Four short years ago...

I wonder if this guy, standing there with his "W." shirt on grinning like a football fan after his team scored the winning touchdown with a few seconds left on the clock, still has the same idea of what a "winner" is that he did that day, Nov 2 2004. I wonder if he understands, watching his team being squeezed into a smaller and smaller electoral region, that it isn't just a case of his party losing elections, but of his party losing the war of ideas before the votes have even been cast.

Now that we're riding high, some of the folks on our side might do well to keep this thought in mind. Winning is the first step, but you have to follow through, have a positive vision for the country, which neither Bush in 2004, nor McCain in 2008, did. And then you have to have the courage and daring to make your vision live.

1456 days until the votes in 2012 are cast.

Monday, November 10, 2008


So he stays, apparently at Obama's behest, as I suspected would happen. The only way this works out is if Obama is planning on using his "mercy" to Lieberman as a marker when it comes time to get things done. Because when that time comes there are going to be shrieks of "Partisanship! Partisanship!" coming from a lot of different sources, and Lieberman could easily be one of them. And leaving him in control of an oversight committee -- that's like leaving Aldrich Ames in charge of counter-espionage after you've discovered he's a spy. Lieberman is perverse and narcissistic enough to use his spot to eff with an Obama Administration given half a chance. If he's removed after starting some bogus, Whitewater investigation, he can bask in a martyr's attention and claim the Democrats are just covering their ass. This isn't necessarily likely, but why give someone as demonstratedly perverse as Lieberman the opportunity to do what he does -- behave perversely? Get rid of him now, while it's cheap, easy, and painless. He's a risk the Democrats don't need to take.

On top of it all, taking his useless, duplicitous ass back means it'll be that much harder to beat him in 2012. I simply can't get over the optics of it: Lieberman behaves as a traitor to "his" party, Reid calls him in and says he's going to punish him. Lieberman, from a place of no leverage, says "That's unacceptable," and the Democrats back down. What in the fuck goes on in Washington?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Never Can Say Goodbye

After all he's done, the Democrats can't bring themselves to kick Joe Lieberman into the gutter, where he belongs:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) signaled Sunday that he might be ready to forgive Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, days after the two held a private meeting in the Capitol.

Party activists want Reid to strip Lieberman of his chairmanship atop the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs for campaigning against President-elect Barack Obama.

"He is a senior member of the Senate," Reid said on CNN's "Late Edition," reminding viewers that Lieberman would become chairman of the Armed Services or Environment and Public Works committees if "something happens to the chairman."

More personally, Reid said he "would not be majority leader but for [Lieberman's] vote."

That said, the majority leader, whose cushion is six seats larger after last Tuesday's election, said, "I recognize what he did was wrong, and quite frankly, I don’t like what he did."

Reid said he and Lieberman would continue to discuss the latter's standing in the Democratic caucus.

"I think a lot of this is very private stuff, but Joe Lieberman has done something that I think was improper," Reid said. "If we weren't on television, I'd use a stronger word of describing what he did."

Lieberman, the Democrats' vice presidential nominee in 2000, took shots at Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden (Del.) while campaigning for his close friend, Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate who lost last week. Democrats did not punish Lieberman at the time because they held a meager one-seat majority in the Senate last year. The Democrats' expanded majority gives Reid more power to act.

Lieberman's smarmy, chuckly (what the fuck was with the constant "Huh huh heh hehs?" Was he doing a Beavis and Butthead impression?) performance at the Republican Convention was particularly odious, but apparently that's all water under the bridge now. Lieberman is the entirely meaningless difference between 58 Senate votes and 59, so it's forgive and forget time. Needless to say, like the FISA treachery, this almost certainly wouldn't be happening without Obama's approval. If the Democrats can't stand up to Joe Lieberman, how can they stand up to the terrorists?

It's all about the delivery now

Obama actually has intentions to do something:

Mr. Obama repeated on Saturday that his first priority would be an economic recovery program to get the nation’s business system back on track and people back to work. But advisers said the question was whether they could tackle health care, climate change and energy independence at once or needed to stagger these initiatives over time.

The debate between a big-bang strategy of pressing aggressively on multiple fronts versus a more pragmatic, step-by-step approach has flavored the discussion among Mr. Obama’s transition advisers for months, even before his election. The tension between these strategies has been a recurring theme in the memorandums prepared for him on various issues, advisers said.

“Every president is tempted to take on too much,” said one Obama adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. “On the other hand, there’s the Roosevelt example and the L.B.J. example, which suggest an extraordinary president can do an awful lot. So that’s the question: Is it too risky for the president to be ambitious?”

Judging by the rhetoric coming from Pelosi and Obama himself, you'd think any internal debate was about whether to do anything at all, rather than how aggressively they should move. Coupled with their talk about undoing some of Bush's executive orders, Obama might just get things back to when the country worked -- worked in several senses of the word.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Tale of Two Elections



You'd think the Republicans would realize this is the future, as well as the present and the past, if they don't find a way to appeal to moderates.

Why GM matters

The world's youngest cranky old man is at it again:

Answer: The government has already done everything that it needs to in order to help G.M. The government established bankruptcy courts so that a company like G.M. can go through a Chapter 11 reorganization. During the Chapter 11 process, a judge has the power to adjust the company’s obligations so that they can be paid from the company’s likely future revenue. Chapter 11 was designed specifically so that employees can keep their jobs, albeit possibly at lower salaries, while shareholders and creditors suffer and/or are wiped out.

The stockholders, creditors, and employees of G.M. do not deserve to be spared the pain of the recession. The rest of America will be taking pay cuts, losing jobs, giving discounts to customers, etc. What is special about G.M. that they should be able to live as though 2008 never happened?

GM is a flagship of industrial America. If it files bankruptcy -- even "just" 11 -- the effects on the already bruised national psyche could be irrevocable. We're fighting like hell to avoid a new Depression, and we've got the fringe libertarian crowd out to use this as an opportunity to crush unions further (which is at least partially what's behind Mr. Greenspun's eagerness to watch GM collapse -- unions are an inevitable victim of an 11 filing).

That he would compare GM to Google ... well, GM directly employs 250,000+ people, and God only knows how many hundreds of thousands more indirectly. Google employs 20,000 - not even 10% of GM's total. Of course, when you don't work for a living yourself, some details become unimportant.

There are certainly problems in the domestic auto industry that are going to have to be resolved, and the industry will almost certainly further shrink in the near future. But to let it play out now, with all the rest of the problems we have, is simply ideologically driven recklessness. We could easily be seeing the U.S. government become an "employer of last resort" again, like it became in the 1930s. If that comes to be, saving some of those 250,000 jobs now would end up being much cheaper than letting those people go out of work, and then hiring them to sweep streets and build roads few people can afford to drive cars over any more.

I've been reading Greenspun for years now. In that time he's become increasingly cranky, increasingly willing to spout off on topics he shouldn't, increasingly unreadable. I suppose enough is enough.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Anaconda Plan

Expand the map a little, and this might be what the Democratic leadership is trying to do with the Republicans. It's either that, or they are a chickenshit bunch of people interested in nothing more than getting fat at the public trough.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

RIP John Leonard

John Leonard bites the dust at 69.

At an average of five books a week ... I will read 13,000. Then I'm dead. Thirteen thousand in a lifetime, about as many as there are new ones published every MONTH in this country.

I have no idea the exact number of books I've read. As a child, I read between 3 - 5 a week for several years, slowed down some in my teens, then picked up to a ferocious pace after adolescence for several years. Nowadays I average maybe one a week, albeit most of it garbage. When I left elementary school I'd read maybe 1/4 of all the books in the school's (small) library. I would have guessed it's a minimum of 5,000 books, and I should have a good 40 years to go. Yet when I look at Leonard's number, and my guesstimate of my own, my number seems a little Wilt Chamberlainesque.

So here's a breakdown: I have with me maybe 1000 books. I've donated about as many to libraries over the years. I've lost some, given some away, and then there are libraries, where a good chunk of the books I've read came from. Add in professional things I've read, and maybe 5,000 is too big a number. Maybe 3,000, 4,000 seems more accurate. It's still a lot of books compared to what most people read, but nowhere near the number I thought I'd read, until I looked at Leonard's calculation and thought about it some. And now it seems an inadequate number to me -- and if mine is inadequate.... What kind of world would this be, I wonder, if people made it a point to read one book a month. That's all, just one a month. It could be on any topic, fishing, sex, stamp collecting, romance -- it doesn't matter, just turn off the TV for awhile, find a quiet corner somewhere and read. What kind of world?

Marooned from a sinking ship

You've just been on the wrong side of a crushing electoral defeat -- for the second time in a row. Your party is being pushed into a smaller and smaller geographic region. Your party is in the minority on many of the most important issues of the day. The demographic trend is against you. What, then, to do? Do you need to ask? It's purge time in Wingnuttia!

RedState is pleased to announce it is engaging in a special project: Operation Leper.

We're tracking down all the people from the McCain campaign now whispering smears against Governor Palin to Carl Cameron and others. Michelle Malkin has the details.

We intend to constantly remind the base about these people, monitor who they are working for, and, when 2012 rolls around, see which candidates hire them. Naturally then, you'll see us go to war against those candidates.


Don't make us add you to our list. Do you really want to be next to Kathleen Parker in the leper colony?

Yikes, a leper colony's leper colony. Rejected by the loony bin. Voted off the crazy island. Persona non grata in hell.

With oblivious arrogance like this is it any wonder that these people have lost the good will of the American public? I'm sure that it's good business for redstate and Michelle Malkin and the rest of them to drum up these little vendettas and keep the rubes riled up, but it's a terrible way to reach out to the voters you need to re-establish some kind of electoral parity. At this rate these guys won't be out in the wilderness: they'll make a wilderness of where they live.

I doubt this will last very long or come to very much besides putting some extra scratch in Malkin's pocket, but there's a Senate seat in play in Georgia, where all this energy could be put to much better use.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Trickling in

This almost makes up for Franken, if he doesn't pull it off.

Democrat Jeff Merkley won the closely contested U.S. Senate race in Oregon, defeating incumbent Republican Sen. Gordon Smith, a victory that helps Democrats expand their majority in Congress, the Portland Oregonian reported on Wednesday.

With the results of three Senate races still to be determined from Tuesday's election, Democrats have now picked up six seats to raise their majority in the 100-member chamber to 57. Merkley is speaker of the state House in the Northwestern state.

Being a white, moderate Republican male has got to be one of the hardest jobs in the world. You want to be rational and thoughtful; all the people with passion on your side want Sarah Palin. A moderate woman Republican, like Snowe or Collins, can at least count on their gender -- they have a base of voters who will support them because they are women. Men ain't got nothing.

Not getting It

Having to explain, repeatedly, to white middle class people that no, black people don't expect Obama to wave a magic wand and give them all Cadillacs filled with 40 ouncers, and they'll riot if this doesn't happen, is quite annoying.

Come on, white people, are y'all that sheltered and ignorant? Do you have that low an opinion of us?

Prop 8 III

In the wake of last night, the relative success of Prop 8 should serve as a reminder of the road ahead. Those people are not going away, they are not quitting, they are not daunted. Yesterday was one battle in a long war.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


The numbers are coming in exactly as I expected them to, not a single surprise. Intellectually I knew this was going to happen, from about two days after Lehman Brothers Day. And yet, the reality of it is emotionally stunning. The tendency in the face of such a massive rout, the second such rout in two years, is to start getting all starry eyed, thinking the rules are changed, and so on. According to Greenwald,

A sign of how devastated the GOP is: the Fox panel is now actively considering whether this is no longer a "center-right country," but instead is now a "center-left country."

But then, the Republicans were all giddy after 2002 and 2004 when, in particular after 2004, they should have seen they had serious problems, that their party was out of ideas that could move the country forward, and they'd been winning on what amounted to a bunch of bullshit and the Iraq War.

When I look at the Democrats right now, I don't see them collapsing quickly, like the Republicans did. They are on the right side of some important issues -- health care, restoring some kind of balance to income and wealth distribution, keeping the religious nutcases out of our bedrooms and private lives, and so have a positive impetus, which the Republicans did not have after 2004. But things always look good when you're on top.

I was thinking that I'm not the only person emotionally stunned by this, that maybe Mitch McConnell, who just squeaked out a re-election win, and his Republican friends in the Senate will realize they've been on the wrong side of history for too long, that they are going to have to get out of the way of progress. Then I went over to redstate to see what the crazies are saying. Here's a sample:

A liberal media, a weak president, the housing crisis, and the charm gap between McCain and Obama...

What's troubling though, is that an Obama win will be misconstrued by the left as a MANDATE that America is ripe and ready for socialism. Which it isn't.


It should have beens an easy win
for the Republicans if McCain had been a solid CONSERVATIVE. God bless Sarah Palin but unfortunately she was the VP candidate.

Perhaps McCain did not run the best campaign, but blame needs to be squarely placed on Bush also. He did great harm to the GOP by governing as a RINO (like McCain).


The "American" Electorate has shown itself to be perfectly willing to embrace Socialism. Obama is so obviously a Marxist that any other explanation for him winning so handily is sophistry. There is no more America tonight.

It remains to be seen if the same people who voted for him because of his race will continue to support him once he begins implementing his Socialist policies.

Those people are there. Rush Limbaugh is still there, and he isn't paid $20 million a year to be a voice of moderation. Rupert Murdoch isn't likely to defang Fox News any time soon. The neocons still want their wars, the rich still want their tax cuts, the religious nuts still want to dictate peoples' private behavior, the corporations still want no regulation. What's changed, then? Right now those groups have been pushed to the margins, but it doesn't have to stay that way. The iron is sort of hot for the Dems, but it will be three months before Obama and the new Congress are sworn in. Plenty of time for the Republicans, and the people at Fox, to remember whose interests they represent -- and it isn't the moderates' interests.

Winning is just the beginning. Even after a big win like this.


We've been singing this song for over 40 years, since Sam Cooke wrote it. Now, it's time to live it.


It looks like the actually important races -- Al Franken and Kay Hagan challenging incumbent Republicans in the Senate -- are going the Dems' way. Those were the two I wanted big -- Coleman always struck me as a sleazy opportunist, and I have no idea why Elizabeth Dole is a senator, and judging by her campaign, neither does she.

A few years ago Bill and Hillary Clinton and Bob and Elizabeth Dole (Bob Dole had been Clinton's opponent in the 1996 race) did this "bipartisan" fundraiser thing where they went out on stage together and tried to talk nice about each other. Hillary and Bill were gracious, Bob Dole was slightly less so, but Elizabeth was a fill-in-the-blank. You'd have thought she'd rather cut her tongue out than say something nice about either Clinton. Hopefully, she'll get to nurse whatever resentments she has without the benefit of a government salary, office, staff, and vote in the Senate after today.

Teh Crazy Begins

Click at your own peril.

Some choice comments:

Start the War, I'll Be There!
I say let the blood flow and to the victor go the spoils! I've had enough! Let it begin. Enough placating!


If the election is a 'landslide' for Obama and the Dems, it's only the beginning of the storm troopers and brown shirts actions upon anyone who disagrees with the chosen one.....der fuhrer...Wake Up America.


Are you kidding?
We are talking about Hypocrats here! They have been stealing elections for DECADES!! You think in Philly it will be any different?

Get ready for the next 4 years to be just like this!

Hussein and his minions will be using Chicago vote stealing, thug actions like this to overpower ANY opposition!

Way to go you Obamatons! This is the most uniformed [?] electorate that has ever voted for a President. To all you morons that think Hussein will be paying for your gas and mortgages...give us a shout in 4 years and tells us where you are!

LOL! You idiots have been voting for the same liberal policies for DECADES and look where you are, standing at a rally with children that should be in school, showing these kids that a politician is going to cure your every ill!

How sad! You have nothing to show for you life voting Hypocrat all your life and you just continue on doing it...



Obama is a disgrace to the human race, an embarassment [sic] to his family, to his community and most of all to this country.


The only good socialist thug is a dead socialist thug. Marxist/Socialist ideology has murdered over 150 million people who disagree with them. I disagee. [sic] THe time to stand up against tyranny is near.

That about gave me my RDA of crazy for the day, and I haven't even got to The Corner yet.

These lunatics will be demanding Clinton bashing-style books soon claiming Obama is a murderer and so on, and there are people out there who will meet the demand. It seems the "MSM" has lost interest in playing those games itself for now, but you never know if they'll get bored once things get on a stable track, and decide it's worthwhile to stir up some shit, "investigate" a couple of "Obama is a murdering drug smuggler" type "stories" just to attract some eyeballs. The natural check for this sort of thing would be the liberal internet as a watchdog for its own interests, but the interests of the people who run the big sites and the people who read them are already diverging. We're probably OK for the next several years, because Obama is well liked and there are so many serious problems to solve. But Obama won't be around, or necessarily well-liked, forever, and problems exist to be solved. The crazies, though, aren't going anywhere.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Premature celebration

The world's youngest cranky old man

Greenspun should be too smart for stuff like this, but when given the choice between intellectual exercise and emotional gratification, it's human nature for most people to choose the latter. I won't even bother running down all the reasons Massachusetts residents pay more taxes than New Hampshire residents do (and probably get a good return on those dollars); the point is that Greenspun shouldn't have to be told this. But he perfectly illustrates a point: for too many people politics is more about self-gratification than making the world a better place. But people will pretend otherwise every chance they get. He's in his early 40s and already settled into a useless life of useless bitching. What a waste of an IQ.

Cheney's endorsement

How nasty and mean spirited is Dick Cheney? Well, let's answer that question with another one: what are the chances that Cheney, with 40 years experience in politics, didn't know the impact his endorsement would have? Maybe he figured the election was lost anyway, McCain has been going around attacking Bush (and by extension, Cheney), so he might as well stick the knife in, get a little vengeance, tell someone to "go fuck yourself" one last time, while anyone still cares what he thinks or says. Kind of a political hunting accident: he "accidentally" shot McCain in the face with his endorsement.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The politics of (foolish?) optimism

Joe Biden today:

While Biden made several references to the protesters as he criticized McCain, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, he told the crowd of about 1,000 that they need to unite with Republicans.

"We can't moan about the politics of division unless after this election's over, God willing we win, we reach out to the very people out in the outer parking. I mean literally, not a joke," Biden said. "I know you find some of that obnoxious, but ... we've got to end this. Somebody's got to be big enough to stand up and end it."

We'll see if being grownup can "end it." Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Fox News, tens of millions of dollars of wingnut welfare, calling Obama a socialist Muslim -- and having many people in your party believing it, calling a progressive income tax rate socialism, the most obstructionist Senate in the history of the United States, the popularity of the radically divisive radical Sarah Palin among the Republicans -- how can you put an "end" to all this and still have enough focus left to run the country? Many of those people think they are at war -- not just with "islamofasicts," but with liberals and any other Americans who don't agree with them. How, exactly, does Biden propose to put an "end" to that?

I'm hoping Biden isn't that naive. I'm hoping he and Obama are laying the groundwork to be able to say, "We've tried hard to work with these folks but they aren't interested in anything besides namecalling and obstructionism." And I'm hoping they are able to pull this off without looking weak and foolishly optimistic in the process.

A dose of Sunday evening pessimism

The view from under a bus:

Take a look back at the two presidential victories engineered by "the Architect." In 2000, Bush lost the popular vote after leading in the polls for months, ultimately winning the electoral vote because of a contested 537-vote margin in Florida. In 2004, he won reelection with 51.3 percent of the popular vote — the lowest percent of any victorious Republican incumbent in American history. The narrow margins of these victories are signs of strategic weakness, not strength.

Rove is a smart man and a student of history. He knows that a Republican president in wartime should be able to win reelection almost without campaigning. Richard Nixon won 49 states in a similar circumstance, and he did not have Bush's engaging personality, a massive domestic attack that briefly united the nation or a stiff patrician opposition candidate like John Kerry.

Or reach for a more immediate parallel: Bill Clinton closed out his administration with a job approval rating in the mid-60s, even after being impeached — nearly three times as high as President Bush's recent record low of 22 percent. That was not a measure of Americans' approval for Clinton's personal behavior, but it was a clear endorsement of his centrist policies.

They aren't being very subtle, are they? They're even willing to throw their beloved oracle M.C. Karl under the bus in the name of centrism and bipartisanship. These very same people were heralding Rove as a genius who was thisclose to establishing a "permanent Republican majority" in 2004; now they are all but saying he blew that election, and should have won big -- which is true. It's just that saying it now doesn't mean much. The time to have pointed this out was back then, when Rove was actually doing all this polarizing. Back then, all we heard was how Democrats needed to be "bipartisan."

At any rate, I actually agree with some of this -- Obama will have to govern more or less from the center during his first term. He isn't going to have 60 Dems in the Senate, and even if he did, you've got Lieberman and Landrieu and Nelson et al to Quisling things up. And there are serious problems out there he has to address now, problems that don't easily fit into a partisan agenda. But the media people demanding Centrism Now creates a playing field where one side is forced to start at the center and the other side is allowed to start at the far right. You don't end up with true centrism that way -- instead, you end up with a situation where a 3% raise in the marginal tax rate on people earning >250k/year is "socialism." Obama brought some of this on himself with his absurdly cautious platform, but the real problem is the endless stream of articles and talking head bloviations we are going to see like the one above, and the mindset behind them.

Because of this I don't have high hopes for an Obama administration in the policy arena -- certainly not the first term, when he's going to try to be as inoffensive as possible. Maybe after he's "rescued" the economy and safely won re-election in 2012, he'll take a gamble and go for something big like universal healthcare, but not before then. In the meantime, he's going to be what W. said he would be during the 2000 campaign: Bill Clinton without the blowjobs. For the Villagers, that will be just fine, just as it was in 2000. That nothing substantive will have been achieved, well, life for them is pretty good. They have their health insurance. They have their six figure incomes. As long as problems are for other people, there are no problems.

A Dose of Sunday Morning Optimism

Optimism, not that Obama will win, because that's a forgone conclusion in my mind, but that he'll actually get something done once he does win. Winning is just the beginning, to go all Jesse Jackson.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


The brilliant right wing psychologist "Dr. Helen":

I've been thinking. If Obama is elected, maybe in lieu of a tip I should leave a note like the following:

HOPE AND CHANGE FOR AMERICA: Spreading the Wealth Around.

In lieu of a tip, $_____ has been donated to the Re-Elect Obama for President Campaign. Thank you for supporting the man and the movement that are bringing America together!

If enough people leave notes like this, I'm sure it will galvanize waitpeople everywhere in support of The One!

The overt nastiness and passive-aggressiveness of it are par for the crazy conservative course, and it's commonly accepted wisdom that many people who intensively study psychology do so because of their own ... issues. But the amusing thing here is that as policy this is simply absurd.

"Dr. Helen" believes in some kind of "Galtian" power that allows the superior people -- like her -- to beat sense into the little people -- anyone who believes in radical concepts like social services or a progressive tax schedule -- by withholding their capital and services, letting the economy collapse, and then waiting until everyone comes crawling to her and the rest of the superior people begging them to set things right. In fact what would happen is that the country would turn violently left if the economy collapsed, and the fantastic boogeyman she has created of Barack Obama in her mind would become a reality. By the time society came to its senses and begged her and her elite friends to fix it, she, and they, would be dead. Her bitter, petulant plot would bring about the very thing -- a leftist society -- she nominally abhors. And such psychologically twisted, intellectually mediocre people, like "Dr. Helen" and her husband, are considered serious intellectuals by many on the right wing internets, and their influence is feared by the dreaded "liberal media."

I should point out here that ordinarily my first thought would be that something so stupid had to be a joke. Except she goes on about this Galt stuff on a regular basis -- far too regularly for this to be some kind of joke. And as a psychologist, even a half-assed one, she would know that many of the people who read her stuff are even less bright than she is, wouldn't get "the joke," and go out and do what it is she's been "thinking."