Grunt. When he spends his time blogging on car designs and the LA Times, I can at least ignore him…
Surely some Academy members are viscerally averse to watching gay sex. (They have genes too.)
Mickey is proposing an interesting theory of sexual attraction, even were we, for the sake of argument, to accept genetic determination of sexual preference. For Mickey, our genes apparently designate not sexual attraction but sexual repulsion. Heterosexual members of the Academy must find homosexual relations repellant; this is why they like girls (and don’t doubt that we’re only talking about the men here). Heterosexuals like Mickey aren’t attracted by women so much as they are repelled by men, and the idea of man-on-man sex.
This has the nifty side effect of allowing Mickey to believe that it’s not his fault that he’s disgusted by homosexuals; it’s genetic.
You knew there would be an anti-homophobic guilt trip somewhere in this process.
While I’m inclined to doubt that the “heterosexual” gene plays much of a role in Mickey’s development, it appears that the narcissism gene is coming through strong and clear. The whole point of this evil Hollywood plot, after all, has been to make Mickey feel guilty (and, really, to look stupid, given his predictions about Brokeback’s success). Surely, no one could be interested in the story for any reason other than to make insecure guys like Mickey feel guilty and uncomfortable.
And, last but not least, Mickey apes the Apuzzo line:
Many commenters have noticed the obvious–the Best Picture nominees are four left-messaged political films, plus a movie about Truman Capote! But if you read Finke’s column, you realize it’s really not that bad. It’s worse! If she’s even 50% on the mark, the Academy Awards are now hopelessly, pervasively, and openly politicized (and the politics are Hollywood Left). Maybe they should be carried on Daily Kos.
Worst. Blogger. Ever. When you can’t improve on Jason Apuzzo, it’s time to hang ‘em up.
Coens to direct Cormac McCarthy’s NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN starring Javier Bardem & Tommy Lee Jones!
I didn’t really care for No Country for Old Men, which is odd because I love almost all of McCarthy’s work. It was kind of hard for me to see the point, and it suffered from McCarthy’s decision to place an epic villain in a clearly non-epic story. The villains of Outer Dark and (especially) Blood Meridian are massive, outsized characters who McCarthy places within an epic, almost gothic setting. Similarly, the villain/protagonist of Child of God is appropriate to his world. No Country for Old Men, on the other hand, seems almost to be a confused union between Blood Meridian and the Border Trilogy, only without the mythic trappings of the latter that might have helped to make sense of the antagonist.
However, fine films are often made from mediocre novels. Make no mistake; if the Coen’s stay close to the story, this will bear far more resemblance to Blood Simple or Miller’s Crossing than to Intolerable Cruelty or The Big Lebowski. It’s hard to do much better than Javier Bardem and Tommy Lee Jones, although I confess that I’m not quite certain who will fit where.
For McCarthy fans, this is probably the best we can expect. Billy Bob Thornton killed any chance we had of seeing The Crossing and Cities of the Plains, which is unfortunate as they most “cinematic” of McCarthy’s works. Suttree and Blood Meridian are unfilmable, as are Child of God and the Outer Dark. I suppose the Orchard Keeper might plausibly be turned into a minor film.
I think it’s worth adding a little more to Sam’s terrific post about the Pollit/Saletan debate, (see Atrios too). I have been having a conversation in comments with Pithlord, one of our favorite commenters, about the consequences of overturning Carhart, which has (as is generally the case) focused on the legal questions. Let’s, for the time being, leave aside the question of whether, as a matter of constitutional law, the states should be allowed to pass all kinds of abortion regulations even if they can’t actually ban first trimester abortions, which is certainly a difficult question. Let’s also leave aside the question of tactics, although certainly I share the doubts of Black, Rosenfeld and Pollit that “abortion is a horribly, horribly bad thing and women who get them are highly immoral (but abortion should remain legal)” is a particularly good political strategy for pro-choicers. Let’s look at it as a policy question. Does the “abortion should be legal but heavily regulated by the state” make sense, strictly as a matter of public policy? I think the answer is “no.” I don’t think the regulations advocated by “centrist” pro-choicers are “reasonable” at all.
To stay with the easy case, let’s briefly reconsider the highly popular legal bans on “partial-birth abortion.” For the same reason that these are such a dangerous Trojan horse for gutting Roe, they’re also bad (indeed, fundamentally unserious) public policy. Again, to ban one method of abortion but not another at the same stage of viability, without any basis in protecting the health of the patient, is wholly irrational. Let’s consider this from a pro-choice centrist position, and pretend that these laws are not simply about chipping away at Roe. What legitimate purpose is served by forcing women to use one method of abortion rather than another to get an abortion at the same time? The result is the same, except (unless you trust the judgments of anti-abortion legislators over those of medical professionals) that women will face increased health risks. There simply isn’t any public interest served by such a policy. None.
Or consider parental notification laws (which, constitutionally, are the most defensible of the commonly favored regulations.) What effect do these laws have on children in stable, loving families? Essentially, there is none; for the most part, you’re going to tell your parents anyway in that situation. For women in unstable and/or abusive families, what are the effects of these laws? To expose vulnerable young women to all kinds of emotional, physical and financial retaliation, in exchange for discussions that aren’t likely to be very valuable. What, from a pro-choice perspective, is the possible value of these laws? Don’t ask me; I sure can’t tell you. Parental consent laws are the same but worse–parents can also stop young women from carrying pregnancies to term in addition to the other bad effects. If you’re pro-choice, again, it’s hard to see the merits here. And while vulnerable children theoretically have access to judicial bypasses, these tend to be bewildering and arbitrarily enforced. Spousal notification laws, same thing, except worse because they essentially treat the relationship between husbands and wives as analogous to the relationship between parents and children. (It’s worth noting that Sam Alito himself tried to defend such laws by arguing that they don’t actually change anyone’s behavior. If so, what possible public interest is being served? If they’re just symbolic, then just pass a resolution rather than creating a criminal penalty you don’t really think is unenforceable.)
And, of course, looking at them individually is highly misleading. While individually they’re merely pointless-to-bad, the collective effect of such regulations is of course to make abortions harder for women to obtain while chipping away at Roe and Casey. It seems to me that the “centrist” pro-choice position is basically powerless to stop such policies from being used cynically; it’s hard to explain why you favor all “reasonable” regulation individually but not collectively. And, as Atrios says, the “partial birth” legislation shows that this isn’t just a slippery slope fallacy. If they can gin up a regulation that can be used to harass doctors and attack the foundations of constitutional liberties out of literally nothing but applying a scary term to a morally neutral medical procedure, there’s no way it’s ever going to end. And, in addition, it’s worth noting that virtually without exception these regulations exacerbate class inequities in access to abortion. They affect women who don’t have money to travel and pay for hotels far more than ones that do, uneducated women more than educated women, women in unstable families more than those in stable families, women who go to publicly advertised clinics more than those who can get quiet abortions from their personal ob-gyn, etc. etc. etc. This is fine if you’re an unprincipled pro-lifer, so common in the Republican party, who thinks that abortion should be illegal but not quite so illegal that anyone they know would actually be denied one. The “centrist” position is great for them (which, one suspects, is also why it’s so beloved by media elites who damn well know that they and/or their wives and daughters will always have access to safe abortions.) But how this is consistent with a pro-choice position–again, I’m at a loss. I don’t that it makes any sense at all.
So you can call be an “extremist” if you like, but like Sam I prefer to call my position “coherent” and “principled.” I don’t think that–however popular it may seem to be–that the “pass pretty much any regulation you want but don’t quite ban” position makes any logical sense, and in any case in practice it generally ends up in more or less the same place as criminalizing abortion anyway.
Read this before you move on with the rest of your day.
Let me cite the illustrious Dave:
This is on my mind since Scott’s post today that had me reading the internet’s silliest source of right-wing Stalinist film criticism (This dimwit actually thought “welcome to the suck” on a Jarhead poster was left-wing Hollywood trying to tell us the Marines suck. You just can’t make that shit up.), but man am I glad I don’t view aesthetic objects like that. Imagine watching a brilliant comedy like this and finding it necessary to furrow your brow and blather on about “Keaton’s disturbing pro-Confederacy message.” What a miserable existence.
Yes. Thank God.
I’ve been told by several people that Alito’s joining with the court’s more liberal members to issue a stay in a death penalty case proves that I’m wrong and he’s no Scalia or Thomas. Obviously, it doesn’t. Now, it could mean that on the specific issue of the death penalty he’s a little better than Scalia or Thomas, who as Edward Lazurus has noted are essentially the flip side of the Brennan/Marshall abolitionist position, signing off on virtually every execution virtually irrespective of the merits. But still, this was a non-decisive vote cast to grant a stay in a case that–since the court had already granted two stays in Florida cases where petitioners have raised a similar argument about lethal injection violating the Eighth Amendment–should have been a no-brainier. And as Orin Kerr points out, “Alito may just be extra cautious on his second day on the job. The rest of the Justices know the history of this issue, and Alito doesn’t yet; in a capital case such as thus, obviously the best course in light of possible uncertainty would be to vote to leave the stay in place.” If Alito votes against S/T/R on the ultimate merits of the issue, or votes against them to grant a stay based on a novel theory, that would mean something, but I don’t think this means much.
And, hey, I certainly hope that Kerr is right that he’ll be more liberal that his record suggests. I just don’t see much of any evidence for it.
Jane and Atrios are, of course, right. Whatever the merits of NARAL endorsing Chafee at the time–and I thought that as soon as Langevin pulled out it wasn’t particularly defensible–after he’s bailed on the cloture vote (which, needless to say, means far more than his symbolic vote against Alito) to continue to endorse him against a pro-choice Democrat…I can’t see any argument for this. It’s not just that they’re rewarding people who are selling them out and helping the anti-choice party retain control of Congress. Waiting for the fabled pro-choice-in-action federal Republican in this manner is also counterproductive in that it provides cover for Northeastern Republicans hoping to uphold their bullshit-social-liberal credentials, despite the fact that they aren’t willing to do anything for reproductive freedom when push comes to shove. Katha Pollit, as quoted by Jane, puts it well:
NARAL can start by NOT endorsing pro-choice Republicans. As the Alito roll call shows, when their party calls, they obey. Even supposedly feminist “republican for choice’ Olympia Snowe. If the pro-choice republicans had backed the filibuster, Alito would not have been confirmed today. Whatever their private beliefs about women’s reproductive rights, they are soldiers in the wrong army.
Yes. I can’t believe they haven’t seen enough; I really don’t know what they’re waiting for. NARAL should not, I agree, be reflexively partisan. If there are more-than-nominal pro-choice Republicans in competition with anti-choice Democrats, fine. But the current number of pro-choice Republicans, in any meaningful sense, in the current Senate is zero. Every last one of them rolled on the vote that will leave Roe in tatters and rags, with the phoniest nominal “pro-choicer” of them all ramming him through the Judiciary Committee from his position as chair. By pretending that their claims to be “pro-choice” to get elected actually mean anything, pro-choice activists can only make this problem worse. It’s time to pull the plug on the Collins/Snow/Chafee/Specter axis of empty opportunism, post haste.
…speaking of which, an interesting question: I can’t speak about Veronica Mars specifically because I haven’t seen most of the first season, but how many quality shows have never had a truly bad episode? The Sopranos is relevant because not only does in tower far above the lower 99% of television shows, but it’s amazingly consistent at that level (although, admittedly, at half of a broadcast network’s shows per year.) And yet, many people would disqualify it because of “Christopher.” And, actually, that’s very possibly right; it’s certainly not good. And yet, having screened it recently I’m not sure that it really qualifies as truly unwatchable. It’s a pretty decent and very well-acted drama interrupted by 20 minutes of characters reading position papers about Important Issues (in this case, ethnic stereotypes.) And yet, doesn’t that describe pretty much every episode of The West Wing, a popular and critically respected show? It stands out partly because the rest of the show is so much better than that, but compared to the rest of the shows on TV, well…it’s still pretty superpar.
There are some other ones that probably can’t be eligible–the BBC The Office had nothing resembling a bad episode, but in 12 episodes that can’t really count. Post-Braugher Homicide was often pretty lame; I haven’t seen all of The Wire. But here’s a question–what about Seinfeld? I may be forgetting something, but while there were certainly many relatively weak episodes, are there any that are truly bad? A lot of people will argue for the final episode, which while pretty weak I didn’t hate the way a lot of people did, but anything else?
I think we can rule out Law & Order and The Simpsons…
In the comments to a TBogg post uncovering an argument by a Democratic hack–apparently in earnest, although I find that hard to believe–arguing that Joe Biden is the best Democratic hope for 2008, commenter Steve M. notes the perfect analogue:
You know who Joe Biden is? He’s Steve Carell on The Office. Or maybe Ricky Gervais on the British Office. He thinks he’s really competent and extremely amusing, and he’s not — especially the latter. In fact, he makes everyone’s skin crawl.
Ah, yes–exactly right. I wonder if that “Democratic” consultant was that guy who was on television constantly in 2000 who looked like the costume shop owner in Eyes Wide Shut who was able to relentlessly bash Gore from the “liberal” perspective because he once conducted a poll for Jimmy Carter? Jane says that “[w]henever anybody asks what should be done first when the revolution comes — take out the punditry class (like Joe Klein) or the political consultant class (like Bob Shrum) — I am always torn.” Lacking the wisdom of Solomon, I cannot answer that question…anyway, I swear a Biden candidacy would turn me into Maureen Dowd.
Joe Biden (Sen-Bank One) brings some much-needed Joementum! to his beleaguered staffers. (Background: Democratic consultant Ron Goldstein.)
2CA and 9CA ruled yesterday that the federal “Partial Birth Abortion Act” is unconstitutional. Under existing precedent, this is black-letter law and these were not the first courts to rule that the statute was unenforceable, so that’s not surprising. The problem is that with Alito ascending to the Court the relevant precedent is almost certainly doomed. Stenberg v. Carhart was a 5-4 decision with O’Connor in the majority. In addition to his general and consistent hostility to reproductive rights, in the specific case of Carhart Alito filed a concurrence to make clear that he had no choice but to strike down a similar state law because the precedent “compel[led]” the result. If the Court hears the appeals to these cases–which I would bet on–Carhart will be overturned and the federal statute upheld.
Some Chamberlain-at-Munich pro-choicers believe that this isn’t a big deal. I believe that this position is sorely mistaken. Such an outcome will almost certainly result in the utter gutting of Roe and Casey, even if their hollowed-out shells nominally remain good law. In addition to signaling that the feds are welcome to step in to the abortion-regulation field (and to think that this statute will be struck on federalism grounds is dreaming in technicolor; if Scalia is willing to be a completely unprincipled hack because of medical marijuana, he’s sure not going to strike an abortion statute), there would be other bad consequences:
- Bye-bye Health Exemption: Carhart struck down Nebraska’s “partial birth” statute, even as applied to post-viability abortions, because it lacked an exemption for doctors protecting the health of the mother. This requirement, first developed in Roe, is absolutely critical to preserving abortion access. Because of the health exemption, competent doctors can operate with the confidence that they are unlikely to be arrested, and can act according to their best judgment. It is because of the health exemption that most of the regulations tolerated by Casey–while certainly excerable public policy–have had only a modest impact on access to abortion. If regulations without a health exemption are upheld, however, that’s a completely different issue. The states and the federal government will be able to place doctors in serious legal jeopardy, and this will have profound effects on the availability of safe, legal abortion services. Upholding the federal statute–which deliberately declined to include a heath exemption–would remove any teeth from Casey‘s “undue burden” standard. If you can ban some abortions altogether without a health exemption, why would a health exemption be required merely for parental notification? Overturning Carhart will doom the health exemption, and with it all but bury Roe.
- Opening the Door Wide Open: As Judge Reinhardt points out, the only abortions the federal statute effectively regulates are previability second-trimester abortions, since virtually all of the tiny fraction of abortions performed post-viability are performed when a mother’s life is potentially at stake. (It is perhaps worth emphasizing this: you will often hear that such bans affect only post-viability abortions. This is erroneous.) And, as Justice Stevens correctly points out, regulations that proscribe particular methods of abortion while not regulating other methods that produce the same result are completely irrational. What will happen if such statutes are upheld, therefore, is obvious. Some legislators, with the help of pro-life activists, are going to see the obvious: “Wait a minute, we can ban pre-viability D&X and D&E abortions, no health exemption. So why can’t we ban pre-viability abortions that use different methods? Perhaps the induced vaginal delivery sounds kind of gross, but from a moral and ethical standpoint there isn’t any difference. The fetus is equally dead no matter what method you use.” And, of course, this argument will have considerable power because it’s obviously correct; to permit abortions at the same stage of fetal development using some methods but not others, although if anything the proscribed methods are safer for the woman, doesn’t make a lick of sense. So, in other words, to borrow Scalia’s phrase the growth of regulations will stop with “partial-birth” bans “only if one entertains the belief that principle and logic have nothing to do with the decisions of this Court.”
Far from being a harmless sop to unappeasable anti-choicers, overturning Carhart and upholding the broad, vague and unprincipled federal law would ultimately go most of the way to returning abortion access to the pre-Roe status quo ante. Throwing out the health exemption will permit all kinds of state harassment of the clinics that poor women particularly rely on, and have a chilling effect on their ability to operate. And it will allow many states to put up the kind of obstacle courses that act as de facto bans for poor women. Should the Supreme Court take this case on, the nomination of Alito will be immediately consequential, and will also force me to revise my general belief that Republicans inevitably play cultural reactionaries for suckers. While they’re certainly the junior partner in the Republican coalition, they’ve finally gotten paid off.