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Fall Woman

[ 0 ] July 30, 2008 |

I agree with Turley and Bazelon that it will be pathetic if Monica Goodling ends up taking all of the responsibility for the frequently illegal cronyism and ineptitude at the DOJ. It’s a nice scam they have going: immunize the subordinate so she can discuss illegal reactions without risk, while expecting that nothing she reveals will be used to go after her superiors. I wish I could say that it wouldn’t work, but…

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The Suspense Is Over!

[ 30 ] July 29, 2008 |

I’m sure you’ve been waiting with bated breath to see which wholly arbitrary subdivision of the center-right white bourgeoisie Mark Penn would invent this year and claim requires the maximum amount of pandering. The answer is: “active grannies.” Hopefully lazy journalists looking for think-pieces composed entirely of cliches will update their vocabularies accordingly!

The Death of the Action Scene

[ 46 ] July 29, 2008 |

Again, I can’t say whether this is applicable to The Dark Knight, but I strongly applaud the arguments about how Bay and Tony Scott seemed to have killed the competent, intelligible action sequence. The idea that commercial-style quick cutting represents a technically competent way of shooting and editing action scenes (even if it makes it impossible to tell where the characters are, or who’s doing what for who, not for any artistic reason but because it draws attention to the director) needs to die as quickly as possible.

Priorities

[ 24 ] July 28, 2008 |

Shorter Bush administration: “Indirectly punishing partisan opponents is more important than effectively opposing terrorism.” (Via Atrios.)

Is It News?

[ 28 ] July 28, 2008 |

Emily Bazelon and Hanna Rosin discuss the news value of the National Enquirer story about John Edwards’s alleged affair. Both score some points. I guess that in a world where Maureen Dowd can win a Pulitzer Prize it’s hard to dispute that under existing standards “it “is news, absolutely clearly and by any definition I can think of.” From Edwards’s standpoint, if he did it he had to know the risks he was taking and can’t be shocked that he was exposed. Modern politics, for better or worse, means that you can’t expect discretion about your private affairs. After all, in this campaign we’ve seen the Paper of Record engage in innuendos about John McCain with less basis than this.

Having said that, on a normative level — if we ask whether this should be considered news by the serious press — Rosin is right. It is unlikely that Edwards will be a candidate for vice presidency, and as for the possibility that he could be Attorney General, please. I don’t recall extensive discussions about Michael Mukasey’s sex life during his confirmation hearings, almost as if they were completely irrelevant to his performance in office. The analogies with Craig and Vitter are null, and not only because there’s no contradiction with any policy being advocated by Edwards. Edwards wasn’t testifying in open court. The mainstream media didn’t discuss Craig’s sexual proclivities until he was arrested and his colleagues demanded he resign, both of which are actual news (although the coverage was, I think, greatly overblown and calls on him to resign ridiculous.) In the midst of this gruesome thigh-rubbing, Roger L. Simon cries crocodile tears about how “playing this game while his wife had cancer makes it contemptible beyond words.” Leaving aside that if I were his wife I would (as Rosin says) prefer to be left alone, what would Simon say about an actual current candidate for President who cheated on and then unceremoniously dumped his wife after she was in a horrible accident? Why, he would support him, of course. Because when you get down to cases almost nobody really thinks that this kind of thing matters in evaluating candidates for higher office; it’s a way of trashing people you already dislike for independent political reasons. And this is entirely appropriate.

So, basically, the current confinement of the story to the National Enquirer seems exactly right, and I hope it both continues and (while we’re dreaming) is applied more consistently.

Supply and Demand Is Over…If You Want It!

[ 0 ] July 28, 2008 |

Shorter John McCain: “Economists don’t understand that a gas tax holiday will work to significantly reduce gas prices because I’m going to have oil companies sit down and tell them to cut the bullshit.”

One one have thought that the Republican candidate’s intellectual capacity and command of policy detail could only go up, but apparently not.

Far Beyond Roe

[ 10 ] July 28, 2008 |

For those who think that the threat John McCain poses to American women is the anti-Roe median vote he would try to put on the Supreme Court, Kate Sheppard and Kathy G. make clear that the problems a McCain presidency would pose would go far beyond this. One of the many valuable things about Kate’s piece is her point that Democrats need John McCain to be forced to clarify his very reactionary position on abortion as much as possible. I would also suggest that an anti-McCain ad on the subject should start with his support for the too-draconian-for-South-Dakota abortion ban and go from there.

Random Film Links

[ 0 ] July 28, 2008 |
  • Self-Styled Siren on Le Crime de Monsieur Lange (and the number of great movies still unavailable on Region 1 DVD).
  • Michael Wood on David Lean.
  • Glen Kenney on Bresson.
  • David Edelstein gets, as one would expect, a considerable amount of negative feedback for being a Dark Knight detractor (I’m not endorsing his view; I haven’t seen it yet.) In the course of the post, he says that “It took awhile for the fanboys to come around to the consensus that The Phantom Menace was inept — I got death wishes for that review, too.” As I’ve said before, it wasn’t just fanboys but a remarkably large number of professional critics who for whatever reason were compelled to be apologetic: check out the number of 60+ scores for a stupefyingly dull movie with a level of acting and writing well below the standards of a typical made-for-Lifetime joint. To correct the historical record, it was Masterpiece-A-Week Maslin, not Elvis Mitchell, who slobbered all over Lucas’s stillbirth in the Times.

Evolution Happens Quickly These Days!

[ 0 ] July 27, 2008 |

The formerly significant gap in math SAT scores between men and women has essentially been erased.

The Obvious Proved

[ 9 ] July 26, 2008 |

Shockingly, the Clinton logic that because Obama performed worse against her in the Democratic primary among Hispanics that he was therefore doomed to struggle against them in the general turns out to be faulty. Why, the next thing you know you’ll tell me that Clinton would have gotten more than 10% of the African-American vote against McCain!

Pirate Booty

[ 45 ] July 26, 2008 |

While picking up something at the hardware store today, I heard a talk radio guy complain that the Pirates were driving too hard a bargain on players who rightfully belong to the Yankees, boo-hoo. But when you’ve recently benefited from trades that seem to be crackpot talk radio caller proposals, why no expect to add useful parts without losing anything significant? So, right on cue, following Pat Gillick generously donating OBP machine Bobby Abreu and the late Cory Lidle to the Yanks two years ago in exchange for a 2-for-1 McDLT coupon, the Pirates gave the Yankees decent RH outfielder Xavier Nady and outstanding LH reliever Damaso Marte. In exchange, the only quality prospect they received is someone (admittedly only 19) who can’t hit AA pitching and already has wrist and hamstring problems. But he’s toolsy so he may learn to hit someday. Ehh. Moreover, they took this highly underwhelming package several days before the deadline despite several contending teams in the market for outfield and bullpen help. I’m tempted to say that nothing has changed in Pittsburgh, although in fairness if Littlefield was still there they would have received Pavano, Igawa, and the rights to Dave LaPoint instead of two of the prospects.

I’m tempted at this point to bet Howard a donation to the anti-Prop 8 campaign that the Yankees win the division outright. Not because the Sox didn’t hit tonight per se — two excellent pitchers combined with Foster’s Alice-in-Wonderland strike zone will do that — but because Ramirez may be hurt and Ortiz doesn’t look anywhere near 100%. With the bottom of the order having become a vast wasteland and the leadoff hitter looking almost equally atrocious, they can’t afford to have both of these guys out or in significantly subpar form, especially with Drew bound to cool off. Maybe Manny will be Manny tomorrow and Papi will shake off the rust more quickly than his performance tonight would indicate, but it wouldn’t be very surprising for the Yankees to outplay them by 3 games the rest of the way, especially with Cashman having addressed their weakness against lefthanders while giving up nothing they’ll miss.

If You Like Counterproductive Imperialism, You’ll Love McCain

[ 10 ] July 25, 2008 |

Ilan Goldberg explains why imperialism is not a sound strategy for dealing with Iraq. Matt is correct to note that Charles Krauthammer “wants an imperial relationship with Iraq, Bush wants an imperial relationship with Iraq, and McCain wants an imperial relationship with Iraq, but Iraqis don’t and thus Maliki prefers Obama.” The key graf:

McCain, like George Bush, envisions the United States seizing the fruits of victory from a bloody and costly war by establishing an extensive strategic relationship that would not only make the new Iraq a strong ally in the war on terror but would also provide the U.S. with the infrastructure and freedom of action to project American power regionally, as do U.S. forces in Germany, Japan and South Korea.

Ah, yes, “infrastructure.” This would seem to mean “permanent military bases, which, in distinct contrast to those in Germany, Japan, and South Korea would be maintained despite the strong opposition of the Iraqi government and Iraqi population, and hence will present the likelihood of perpetual conflict for no obvious benefits.” But at least American military presence in a major Middle Eastern nation hasn’t played a large role in motivating a recent major terrorist attack on an American city or anything. Oh wait…

See also Ackerman.

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