Thursday, January 31, 2008

Incredible Wire Thread

Freakonomics and thugs on the Wire. Awesome series. You can scroll and read my long comment.
Odd Thing

Should I start logging it, I imagine I find myself doing something odd everyday. Today, it would be searching craigslist for Mopeds.

There is one thing the terrorists and I agree upon: joy when one of theirs is martyred.
The Wire

As if I needed another reason to support Obama, his favorite show is reputedly The Wire.

A fun reference guide to all the characters.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Is The Iraq War Over?

I started a post on this the other day and couldn't find the words to explain. Today, reading a summary of the war from Strategy Page, provides a jumping off point for discussion, if not an answer.

An accurate summary of how the war began:

Iraq, and most of the countries in the Middle East, are broken. They have been for a long time. We in the West have generally ignored it, because there were no workable solutions that were easily available. Then came the latest wave of Islamic terrorism. This got worse, until September 11, 2001, and then the prospect of mass murder in our own backyard became a reality. But at that point, the West became divided over the solution. Do we keep treating the terrorists as a police problem, and wait them out? That is known to work. But the threat of even deadlier terrorist attacks made more dramatic moves attractive to many, especially in the United States. That resulted in Iraq, confronting the Arab problems up close and personal. It ain't pretty. But unless the Arab problems are solved, the ugly aftereffects will still be there, and so will the threat of mass murder on the street where you live. The war on terror, and the war in Iraq, are all part of a struggle within Islam. Do we keep on with the same pattern of rebellion and repression, or do we try developing a civil society. Until the Iraqis decided what kind of country they wanted to live in, the war went on.

Afterwards, Iraq was plagued by the insurgency, which can be broadly defined as an alliance between Sunni Iraqis and Al Queda against the Shiia dominated government and America. On the periphery were the Independent Kurdish north and the Shiia radicals allied with Iran (and the Shiaa radicals not allied with Iran and all sorts of other subsets).

But broadly speaking, it was the Sunni Iraqis and Al Queda fighting the Malaki government. Since the Anbar Awakening, the majority of Sunni Iraqis have not only abandoned Al Queda, but are fighting them.

Thus, while tensions still run high in Iraq between Sunnis, Shiia, and Kurdish Iraqis, the insurgency, as previously defined, no longer exists...and as a point of fact, has been defeated.
What, Are You Trying To Get Me To Vote For Him?

On McCain.

He is the same man, whichever side he is on. He brings that same infuriating passion to our cause when his inner compass has led him to alliance. His support of the surge confounded the glitterati of the MSM, who gave him every opportunity to break with the president in a fashion that would've led to countless more cover appearances for the late-night self-pleasuring of pimply interns of the New Republic. And yet he could not be agreeable to them, as tempting as the doyennes and the cameras were: he rambled through, grousing yet triumphant, middle fingers raised to Rumsfeld on the right and the New York Times on the left. Even if you dislike McCain, you have to admit: It was a glorious moment for him.

The original post, here.
Not Bad

I would argue this upcoming election will feature three candidates who are better than any of the candidates in the 2000 or 2004 election. I would vote for Obama, Clinton, or McCain over Gore, Bush, Kerry, or Nader.

Not too shabby.
No Dummy

Tommy Lee Jones is obviously no dummy. An interview on No Country. Is there really any other actor who could play that part?

JONES: No, not all is lost. What I think is the book and the movie, in general, is a contemplation of morality. And the character of Ed Tom feels somewhat overwhelmed by a new character of evil and says so to his wiser and older uncle, and his uncle tells him that that's vanity, that evil doesn't change and that you, Ed Tom, do not live in the center of the universe. You can't be overwhelmed. It's the same old deal.

Then he tells the story about these Indians who ride up to another uncle's house maybe a hundred years ago, kill him on his front porch. And when he recounts the story, if you look at it on the face of it, it seems like a recounting of a scene from a grade-B Western, but somehow you get the feeling that if you were there on that day, you would have seen real evil. And it would have impressed you; it would have been real. And I think that's important to this movie's outlook. No matter how overwhelmed you might feel, it's not about you. ...

And like all considerations of Cormac, the questions are far more important than the answers. The question that arises there is that wonderful dream of riding ahead and reuniting with your father in the warm fire place in the cold, in the dark, hostile country. And if it is a dream, does the dream have any efficacy at all? If you wake up from a dream, what have you woken up from? Have you woken up from reality?

So these get to be pretty sophisticated questions and I really appreciate the Coen brothers' careful reading of Cormac's moral thinking. Finally we're left with the really good questions, which are better than any simple answers. Did that make any sense?
Getting Rich

I don't see how so many people can write so many books about how to get rich.

I think it's remarkable simple: get a high paying job, save your money, live below your means, and invest. Getting rich shouldn't be that hard. Getting rich doing something you like that's the tricky thing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Real Life Celebrity Death Match

Sean Young vs. Julian Schnabel

And Even More Rambo

Later in the Sullivan link they reference the first movie...which, incidentally, is a great film. It should be taught in screenwriting classes for a both the structure and character.

And, this first Rambo IS a film which can be leg discussed in political terms because it is about the return from Vietnam. In fact, I'd argue, it can be put up there with some of the great Vietnam movies like Apocalypse Now, Deer Hunter, and Platoon, as worthy films contributing to the national dialog on Vietnam.

As for this newest Rambo, it's not good enough to discuss in political terms, nor is it popular enough to be able to contribute to the Iraq War discussion.
More Rambo

Some takes on Rambo as a political picture.

Is it about Iraq or not?

I must answer this political questions as a filmmaker. Some movies transcend entertainment and can become political, educational, and/or social. If this is true, the opposite must also be true. I do not know the antithesis or antonym of transcend...I suppose descend, but that's not quite right. Rambo, the newest one, (for lack of a better word), descends the political. It is of such poor, campy quality, it cannot be seriously be discussed as a political picture. It would be akin to calling an impossibly boring political stump speech entertainment.

One of the problems in both our entertainment and political culture is the attempt to politicize everything, as if every issue could be dumbed down to have two sides, rather than approaching politics as a simple problem-solving manner. Nothing could be worse for films. If every film were conceived or evaluated as a picture representing left wing or right wing values, it would spell the hijacking of American movies political operatives. It is a reflection of polarization of our political culture mixed with the dumbed down Ebert, thumbs up/thumbs down, style of criticism.

It is the political, more than the money and market, spilling into films at the conception stage, which will ruin the art.

Per Robyn, "BEWARE: There is a movie in this violence."

No joke. This is a violent movie. People don't just get shot, they explode. Their heads get decapitated, stomaches, necks, bellys, removed.

The movie starts bad. Painfully bad. Like, "give up Stallone" bad. He co-wrote and directed this movie. Like he did with the new Rocky.

In the end, I liked Rambo more than Rocky Balboa. The second half was action packed and not incredibly stupid...only a campy stupid. Rambo kills a lot of people and shows up at the right time. There are even a few good grumbling lines mixed in with mostly painful dialog...

"We're going in there to change things."
"Are you bringing guns?"
"No. No."
"They you're not changing anything."
Hooking Up

Good interview of the Sociology of Hooking Up.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Identity Politics

I've rallied against it for years, but for some reason am unable to put it in words as well as Hitchens.

"People who think with their epidermis or their genitalia or their clan are the problem to begin with. One does not banish this specter by invoking it. If I would not vote against someone on the grounds of "race" or "gender" alone, then by the exact same token I would not cast a vote in his or her favor for the identical reason. Yet see how this obvious question makes fairly intelligent people say the most alarmingly stupid things."

"Far from taking us forward, this sort of discussion actually keeps us anchored in the past. The enormous advances in genome studies have effectively discredited the whole idea of "race" as a means of categorizing humans. And however ethnicity may be defined or subdivided, it is utterly unscientific and retrograde to confuse it with color. The number of subjective definitions of "racist" is almost infinite but the only objective definition of the word is "one who believes that there are human races.""
Rumor Mill

It's been circulating that the WGA is going to announce a deal today.

What good are blogs if not for reporting rumors?

There's millions of bucks to be made by someone who figures out how to make any old movies available on DVD or other high quality format.
Beautiful Endorsement

Toni Morrison endorses Obama.

Dear Senator Obama,

This letter represents a first for me--a public endorsement of a Presidential candidate. I feel driven to let you know why I am writing it. One reason is it may help gather other supporters; another is that this is one of those singular moments that nations ignore at their peril. I will not rehearse the multiple crises facing us, but of one thing I am certain: this opportunity for a national evolution (even revolution) will not come again soon, and I am convinced you are the person to capture it.

May I describe to you my thoughts?

I have admired Senator Clinton for years. Her knowledge always seemed to me exhaustive; her negotiation of politics expert. However I am more compelled by the quality of mind (as far as I can measure it) of a candidate. I cared little for her gender as a source of my admiration, and the little I did care was based on the fact that no liberal woman has ever ruled in America. Only conservative or "new-centrist" ones are allowed into that realm. Nor do I care very much for your race[s]. I would not support you if that was all you had to offer or because it might make me "proud."

In thinking carefully about the strengths of the candidates, I stunned myself when I came to the following conclusion: that in addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don't see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we associate it only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight. Or if we settle for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree in the forest while ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and surrounds it. Wisdom is a gift; you can't train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or earn it in the workplace--that access can foster the acquisition of knowledge, but not wisdom.

When, I wondered, was the last time this country was guided by such a leader? Someone whose moral center was un-embargoed? Someone with courage instead of mere ambition? Someone who truly thinks of his country's citizens as "we," not "they"? Someone who understands what it will take to help America realize the virtues it fancies about itself, what it desperately needs to become in the world?

Our future is ripe, outrageously rich in its possibilities. Yet unleashing the glory of that future will require a difficult labor, and some may be so frightened of its birth they will refuse to abandon their nostalgia for the womb.

There have been a few prescient leaders in our past, but you are the man for this time.

Good luck to you and to us.

Toni Morrison

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Wire

I've only got one thing to say. I WANT to kill Marlo. I hate him more than Phil Leotardo. Orsen Welles would shit his brick.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

DGA Event

One of my favorite events in LA each year in hosted by my ex-professor, Jeremy Kagan, where he meets with all the nominees for the DGA award each year and holds a panel discussion. This year was PTA, the Coen Brothers, Julian Schnabel, and Tony Gilroy. Sean Penn bailed at the last minute.

They cover so much material, it's impossible to give a synopsis. The only movie I hadn't see was Diving Bell and the Butterfly and so I found a good 75% of what Julian Schnabel talked about completely incomprehensible. I found the Coen Brothers and PTA oddly charming and accessible, given their respective tastes in movies and general vibe. Tony Gilroy was very humble and yet spoke quite intelligently about filmmaking and it was clear he worked hard and had a diligent process (and a lot of help) making Michael Clayton.

The more I think about the films this year - the more I realize how much I liked Michael Clayton and No Country. Both those films were really, really good. And say what you will about the state of filmmaking...I agree the average Hollywood movie isn't very fact, it'd be nice if Michael Clayton were the average/above average film Hollywood made, rather than one of the best. But the world pumps out a good 20 to 30 movies each year...or at least movies, as Hitchcock said (and Kagan quoted) are worth the price of tickets, a dinner, and the babysitter.
Acting Foolish

Bill is acting like a fool. Can this guy get out of the spotlight for crissake? He's hurting his wife. Why in the hell do I hear him on the radio giving the concession speech in South Carolina? Even the liberal pundits were confused and dumbfounded.
My Theory, Anyway

People have been talking about how Obama can't win because when it comes down to it, when voters get into the booth, their hidden racism will come out and they won't be able to bear voting for a black man.

On the contrary, I think voters will get in the booth and prove the exact opposite: they won't be able to bear not voting for him.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Go Rambo!

Rambo vs. Cloverfield.
Thugs on the Wire

Maybe I'm a thug because I agree with these guys.
Empowering Pro-Americans

Would electing Obama empower pro-American forces in Europe and Latin America because he could provide ammunition against anti-American leftists who point to America's fundamental racism? Is this valuable to America?

Whatever else, the past 8 years have been a test for America following her gut, regardless of what our allies and enemies think. Certainly, it feels like the time to let the pendulum swing back the other way and try another tact: allowing our friends ammunition to defend us. If Obama helps them, it's just another reason to support him.
Illegal Appeal of Clinton

Isn't there an explicit appeal of the Clinton campaign that we get Bill with the deal? If things get tough, we've got good 'ole feel good Bill Clinton with 8 years of experience pulling the strings.

The fact is: I like Bill Clinton.

I don't trust him, even for a politician. As in, I wouldn't leave him in the room alone with a lady friend. Nor do I believe he stands by what he says or believes. He is a man of the moment. A good actor. But he's also smart, really, really smart and therefore makes practical decisions that don't muck things up too much. He was the perfect President of 1992-2000. A worse President would have made those years worse.

But a better President would've also made those years worse. A better President would've made us see the troubles laying underneath. Bill Clinton, on the other hand, made us feel good...and rich.

2008. Bush is a worse President than Clinton. History may prove otherwise, but I doubt it. Some of us feel comfortable, even good, returning to the Clintons.


We don't believe in dynasties. We believe in two-term limits. Say what you will about the Bush clan...papa stayed out of the way - even when he know (and was probably right) that son was doing not-so-well. With Bill, we know he won't stay out of the way. In fact, part of the Clinton appeal is to have him back.

Why are we so willing to look the other way with respect to the law?

Because it's the Clinton's, stupid.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Forget PTA, QT, Coen Bros, and all the others we normally associate with being auteur filmmakers...who's writing, directing, and starring in his own film debuting next week?

That's right - Rambo. I mean, Stallone. Say whatever you will about the final product...I admire the process. He's making a cheap ass flick and using his political capital to make a personal film. Will it be good? Are all Tati films good? Godard? Neh.

I must be bored because I'm following the thread on an MSN chatboard on what people will do with their govt stimulus refund.

The article has suggestions on what to do with the refund...and asked for other thoughts. It was remarkably easy to add a comment - so I did. I suggested betting the giant's to cover the super bowl spread and then parlay it into apple computer.

I love reading other people's suggestions. Of the serious ones, the most people seemed to want to pay off credit card debt. Why do so many people carry CC debt? CC debt is the equivalent of paying $1.30 for every $1 you spend. When you buy a book for $10 and carry CC debt, you're paying $13. If you buy dinner for $50, you're paying $65. It's literally voluntarily paying extra tax.

I can understand taking some in the short term if you are a student or otherwise short on money and have a fairly reasonable expectation to make more money in the near future. In those cases, sometimes you need to spend money to get by and then pay it back in the near future. But I suspect 90% of such debt does not fall into this category and could be avoided.
Movies Have the Same Problem

The idea of a disappearing midlist in book publishing in favor of multi-million dollar advances and the new hot author who hits the best seller list.

HBO is the only company in entertainment doing this right now. The box office numbers are a mirage for the movie business. They're jacking up ticket prices, getting 14 year olds to the theater, and claiming to be making more money than ever. This hides the fact that we're losing the audience...a consistent complaint about adults is that the movies just aren't that good anymore. We're talking about the average picture these days...not the unexpected successes or the art house triumphs. We're talking the average Hollywood produced movie. What's happening?
Go Government!

Giving everyone some money.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Dark Knight

Don't know if it's the recent news on Heath Ledger affecting me...but I just saw the preview for this and it looks incredible.

A post by a gent disappointed that Fred dropped out of the race. I never was on the Thompson train, but I agree with his sentiment here:

Most of the leading candidates were working behind the scenes for years, making unofficial deals with the people in every state who know how to wield influence and mobilize the rank and file. Fred, on the other hand, honestly never lusted for the power of the presidency. He agreed, upon significant urging, to run because he believed it was the right thing to do for his children and the country. Politics, however, apparently requires more.

It's not just politics. Things go to people who want it the most...or more accurately, those who are willing to sacrifice other things the most. Talent rises...but not always to the top.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Wire

My concerns with season five were put to rest last night.

The scene of Marlo going to the bank - genius. "You got my money in there?"

Omar is coming back ('nuff said)...McNulty banging the girl on his car (hilarious)...the Bunk's reaction to McNulty's new plan throughout the episode (incredible)...Chris and Snoop starting to question Marlo...just everything seemed to come together well last night. The two plot points I have trouble digesting are getting a little better, but I still think they are problematic. We'll see where they take it - they've certainly earned my trust.

Although many lame critics point to the bleakness of the world in the Wire, the optimism can be found where it belongs - in the characters. There is heroism in the Wire. Last nite, Omar's blind uncle (or friend) wouldn't give him up, it was a wonderful scene of human courage and loyalty and how it impacts even those dishing out the punishment. A lesser talent would have been tempted to show Chris and Snoop enjoying the torture or possibly even tried to connect it to popular perceptions of torture at Guantanamo or some other stupid reference to the headlines. Instead, they choose to show the reluctance of Chris and Snoop and how doing such an action makes them start to question themselves (or rather, Marlo). Omar's blind relation wasn't going to give him up...and you believed it.

There are other instances when the Wire does the same. One of my favorite moments of the show is when Rawls, who we hate, comforts McNulty when Greggs is shot at the end of season 1. He says something along the lines, "You're an asshole McNulty and I don't like know if this was you're fault, I'd be the first one to say it. So you can believe me when I say this to you: it WASN'T your fault."

Not to mention the penultimate episode of season 2, when

I've been saying Brett Favre is overrated for years. People love to love this guy. It's all bullshit. He won one Superbowl. Big deal. So did Trent Dilfer. He's a gunslinger they say? Right. If Favre were a gunslinger, he'd been dead about 15 years ago being beaten by Steve Young and John Elway. (side note: Steve Young is also overrated and only a tad better than Farve).

Who witnessed his performance this weekend can say this guy is an all time great? Will all those who revered his regular season, leading this hapless group of Packers to a 13-3 record all come forward now and admit - he choked this weekend. When given a chance to win the game - long after they had been outplayed, what does Farve do? Toss an interception. Can you imagine Montana or Brady doing such a thing? Even Peyton, by no means a big game quarterback, when he chokes...chokes by going 4 and out. When Steve Young chokes, he chokes by mismanaging the clock and allowing time to rundown to a point where they have to make a desperate stab at the end zone. When Rex Grossman chokes, he tosses an interception on the 1st pass of the drive or fumbles the snap. When Montana chokes...oh wait a sec, he doesn't choke.

When Favre chokes...which he does considerably more than he wins...he tosses an interception on the 2nd play from scrimmage against a team he's favored to beat.

The guy is 12-10 lifetime in the playoffs and thrown the most interceptions in football history. His longevity is impressive, but let's be honest, people favor his personality, not his football skills.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Awesome Aristotelian breakdown of comedy.
Women Taking Over

Is America heading towards Matriarchy?

With Hillary a frontrunner for Pres and the fact most of my bosses in my working career have been women...

And, at the current rate, in a decade there will be 1.5 women for every 1 man in college and all the career advantages it leads to...

Question is: why are men falling behind? Second question: Do we need affirmative action for men?
I'm Not Gay, But...

But I can help but have a man crush on Cary Grant. I'm not alone.

To quote Christian Slater in True Romance..."I'm not gay, but if I had to fuck a man. I mean, if like my life depended on know? I'd fuck Elvis."

"I'd fuck Elvis."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Losing Our Best and Brightest

Washington Monthly article about an innovative, free thinking army brat becoming discouraged by a burdensome, bureaucratic, and stifling work environment.

I notice a trend - and I wonder how much of it is true vs. self justification - that certain professions seem to edge out their more talented people (army, movies, science).

Is it just me or is there some weird sexual energy in this interview?
On the Deal

DGA website outlines the terms of the director's deal, which seems to be fair enough.

The writers ought to take similar terms for a similar time period (only 3 yrs - a lot shorter than I thought), if they can get it. Rumor is the studios want to punish the WGA for bad faith negotiating and to stick it in their eye for generally being petulant...and might continue to low ball.

Also, cracks in the WGA ranks are being exposed, as moderates want to get back to work and are secretly steaming over the hardheadedness of union leaders. What all this means? Who know?
Director's Deal

Variety is saying the deal is done.

HR thoughts.
George Will Bagging on Hillary

Good read. Money quotes:

For decades, liberals, believing that "self-esteem" is a universal entitlement that is endangered by nearly universal insensitivity, have striven to make everybody exquisitely sensitive to slights. Liberals have become industrialists as an indignation industry has burgeoned. It writes campus speech codes, infests corporations with "sensitivity training" workshops and "consciousness-raising" retreats, and generally enforces the new right to pass through this veil of tears without tears or even being peeved.


Clinton's clanking, wheezing political jalopy, blowing its gaskets and stripping its lug nuts, has moved on from faulting Obama for a kindergarten essay (in which he supposedly revealed a presidential ambition that was unseemly around the teeter-totter) to accusing him of wanting to be reasonable, even likable. Is there nothing the man will not stoop to?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I Am Not Forgetting This

We're pals with the Saudis because it's expedient. But make no mistake, the minute we have a chance to f--- them over, we better. I'm sick of them. Really sick of them.

I'm not above re-thinking a Shi'ia-US alliance, so long as the nukes stay off the table.
My New Favorite Place

The beach at night. Quiet. Eerily quiet. But completely and totally overwhelming and beautiful. I've gone every night this week. Something draws me there. It makes my mind clearer.

If the following is true regarding the Randy Moss allegation of physical abuse:

"In my whole entire life of living 30 years, I've never put my hand on one woman, physically or in an angry manner," Moss said. "All I know is a friend of mine, a young lady, had an accident where she hurt herself ... And they called my attorney, try to get 'X' amount of dollars out of me [Moss later said it was "six figures''], and if we don't get 'X' amount of dollars, we're going to go to the press before this game.''

This pattern of using the law to get attention and money and defame, from the Seinfeld plagiarism and defamation, to the Duke lacrosse case, is an awful trend our society allows by not punishing such false accusations enough.

Shouldn't these people be bankrupted after doing this?
Free Advise to McCain

Should he win the Republican nomination, I think he ought to run the general election on a platform of honorable draw down (not to be confused with withdrawal) from Iraq. He should also run on a campaign pledge to be a one-term President (thus subverting age concerns).

McCain should say: I supported the war and the mission and still do. Unlike my competitors who supported the war and changed their minds when it because popular to do so (Clinton), or remained quiet when it counted and got loud when it was politically expedient (Obama), I was the primary advocate of the troop surge in Washington. When it finally gained traction, it worked. And it continues to work. My goal, in one four year term, is to help usher in a political bargain among the major factions in Iraq and to create a lasting security agreement where American troops will no longer be in harms way. This is the platform I'm running on and I'm the best candidate with the most national security experience and wisdom to see it through.

Although other issues may be more popular (the economy, heath care), none are more important to a lasting peace in the 21st century which will lead to more prosperity, more freedom, and more well being for America and the rest of the world.

Additionally, I will personally kick Osama Bin Laden's ass.

Hitchens lays into Hillary.

During the Senate debate on the intervention in Iraq, Sen. Clinton made considerable use of her background and "experience" to argue that, yes, Saddam Hussein was indeed a threat. She did not argue so much from the position adopted by the Bush administration as she emphasized the stand taken, by both her husband and Al Gore, when they were in office, to the effect that another and final confrontation with the Baathist regime was more or less inevitable. Now, it does not especially matter whether you agree or agreed with her about this (as I, for once, do and did). What does matter is that she has since altered her position and attempted, with her husband's help, to make people forget that she ever held it. And this, on a grave matter of national honor and security, merely to influence her short-term standing in the Iowa caucuses. Surely that on its own should be sufficient to disqualify her from consideration? Indifferent to truth, willing to use police-state tactics and vulgar libels against inconvenient witnesses, hopeless on health care, and flippant and fast and loose with national security: The case against Hillary Clinton for president is open-and-shut. Of course, against all these considerations you might prefer the newly fashionable and more media-weighty notion that if you don't show her enough appreciation, and after all she's done for us, she may cry.
One Way To Still Win Me

I'm supporting Obama for the moment. But my vote is still winnable by a candidate like McCain or Clinton if they can outline a plan how to destroy Al Queda that I think will work better than the Obama plan.


"The one sliver of optimism I can find in a Clinton presidency is that the enemies of the United States might one day feel a little bit of what Clintons' domestic enemies do. Maybe they can bore and grind al Qaeda into submission."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Not News?

Did Hezbollah try to assassinate the US Ambassador to Lebanon? How is this not front page news?
Prediction: Abortion

What is the one issue no presidential candidate is talking about?
A Friend of the Court

Maybe I'll submit my college senior thesis on Irony and Politics to the court dealing with the Seinfeld defamation of character lawsuit.

PS: Total side note, but there is an awesome new feature of internet writing with the advent of embedded video: the accompanied video. This will be particularly useful for film and television writing, as in the past, wordy descriptions of images are used to cite tv and film. Whereas with literature and politics, writers could always cite or quote, film and tv have suffered from only being able to be accompanied by a still image. If you noticed, several of my latest links have featured such writing, articles on the Wire and now on Seinfeld. Awesome.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Best Film Writer

Is easily David Thomson. He disses on the writers strike here.

The man brings perspective and wisdom and boy does he nail it:

"Thus the great dilemma of the Writers Guild is a very good working life for a few, and far too little dignity to share around. The strike is pitched on the idea of "fairness", but I think that's a myth. The American movie business has never been and has no intention of being fair. It screws those who work for it, and it screws the most successful by paying them so much. It's like the prison system at Alcatraz: give the worst offenders big meals, central heating, cosy beds and they won't break out."
And These Comments Make Me REALLY Like McCain

Conservatives on the attack.

"McCain supports amnesty for illegal aliens, was behind the Gang of 14, is a gun grabber, opposed the Bush tax cuts, ran roughshod over the Constitution with McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform, opposes a Constitutional amendment to protect marriage, was rumored to be considering switching parties multiple times, talked with John Kerry about being his Vice-President, lines up with the global warming alarmists, wants to close Gitmo, wants to coddle captured terrorists -- you can go on and on with this..." which of these policies do I not agree with?

I assume, by his tone, the writer means a "path to citizenship" and not "amnesty" and by "coddling terrorists," he means "not torturing." Good 'ole Conservative plain speak. Yeah right, this is hyperbole.
Well, That Makes Me REALLY Like Obama

He appeals to the average black voter, yet rattles the establishment.

Shit, this is getting fun. Maybe I picked the wrong profession.
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

This movie completely mystifies me. I saw it - was looking forward to seeing it - and it turned out to be one of the worst movies I've seen in recent memory. Interminable is the perfect description. Every single person I've spoken to about it agrees...and they possess a varied taste in films, reflect different generations, relationship to movies, occupations, and other factors of diversity.

And yet, I keep reading about it, not just as a good movie, but as a movie actual writers are recommending, unprompted. It found it's way onto a column about football and just got slipped in there. Roger Ebert voted it in his ten best movies this year. It's all over the place getting good press...yet it wildly, enormously, in the most profound ass.

With respect to Ebert, I don't like some of his choices for top ten movies of 2007, namely BTKYD and The Kite Runner (awful), and find it implausible that Into the Wild belongs because it lacks a POV...but I do like what he says about Juno:

"It is so hard to make a great comedy at all, and harder still to make one that is intelligent, quick, charming, moving and yes, very, very funny. Seeing “Juno” with an audience was to be reminded of unforgettable communal moviegoing experiences, when strangers are united in delight."

Delight is a perfect word for Juno...a lot of people I talk to about movies have a similar reaction to Juno, many reluctantly admit to enjoying it "in the end," despite wanting to strangle the filmmakers/writer at certain points - namely the beginning. I never had this beef, to me, it falls into the Little Miss Sunshine/Forrest Gump category of feel good movie I'd recommend to anyone...

I would think to dislike Juno, one would need to be in a grumpy mood.
No Mystery

There isn't any mystery why the Bolts won. It's the same way the Bears got to the Super Bowl last year. Turnovers.

It was an upset, no doubt, but you can't throw two big interceptions on potential scoring drives and expect to win. Plus, give the Chargers defense credit - they played awesome.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Wire, Ep. 2 Season 5

Hmmmm...this season is off to a slow, and weird start. Is the theme of this season corruption? In this episode there were two similarly themed odd plot elements which felt uncharacteristic of the show.

But it was nice to see Barksdale again. Been wondering if/when he was going to show up.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Did you see that first TD throw? I yelled in my apartment, "Holy Shit!" This guy is a serious baller.

All the makings of a great NFL game. Quality teams playing the game like it should be played...with balls. Going for it on 4th down. Also, I give Bellichek props for not throwing the red flag on the TD...although it might've just been because Jacksonville got up and kicked the extra point quickly.

I love the guy. He's got this look on his face on the sideline as Jacksonville ties up the game 14-14..."Finally, an opponent worth playing..."
Can He Do That?

Bush working on long-term security agreement to replace the UN Resolution with respect to US troops in Iraq - making the security agreement similar to our troop agreements with Germany, South Korea, and Kuwait...thereby making campaign promises to "pull out troops," moot.
There May Not Be Director Jail

But I'm sure there is director hell and Noah Baumbach and Paul Haggis will meet each other there, thrust, god willing, into one of their own movies.

I just watched the first 20 minutes of Crash and turned it off in total, absolute disgust. Al Queda should've bombed the Oscars where this movie won an Oscar. Are you fucking kidding me? People threaten to move to Canada over GW Bush being elected President...this is why you move to a foreign country. The movie is so devoid of any trace of what it means to be a person in this city....i want to puke right now. David Simon should shit on Paul Haggis' face.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Election Gaming

On the Democrat side, clearly Clinton and Obama are the only two horses in a tight race. Edwards has small, but significant support. Should he choose to endorse another candidate, could it be a deciding factor?

Perhaps. I don't think Edwards would support Clinton. Everything he says suggests he is more aligned with Obama's positions. However, his support comes from more traditional democrats, like unions. They might be more likely to support Clinton for fear of Obama shaking up the status quo too much.

On the Republican side, Romney is the odds on favorite, but Huckabee and McCain seem to be hitting at him from both sides. Huckabee is stealing the evangelical and vote-with-their-gut-types because of his personal charm. McCain seems to appeal to independent minded, salt-of-the-earth, defense minded Republicans. Romney's appeal to the establishment and business folks seems to be mild at best. Furthermore, Giuliani gets support in NY and California from people who might overwise support Romney.

The longer more Republicans can stay in the race, it benefits everyone except Romney. So long as Romney doesn't take a big lead, Huckabee, McCain, and Giuliani can justify hanging in the race. And if Romney doesn't win anything, eventually he'll bow out.

It'll be interesting if G, H, and McC, each can stick it out long enough to cripple Romney. Because if any one of them drop out, I imagine it'll give Romney the confidence to plug through and try to outlast them.

Preaching diversity, but not practicing it.
The Thing About Being An Asshole

Harvey Weinstein, long known for being an asshole to writers, has penned a side deal with the WGA because...well...he's an asshole and wants a competitive edge against other producers.

The good thing about assholes - you can count on them to be assholes.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Preemptive Attack

On David Simon by the Atlantic.

The reporter defends his friends who are going to be skewered in season 5.

He must be on to something to be getting personally least they admit it's the best show on TV, if not the best show ever created.
Sounds Fun

Watching The Wire with gang members.

Is it just me, or do gangs just seem a whole lot less intimidating after 9/11 and being confronted with terrorism?
Obama and a Racial Question

Lots of folks on TV talk about voters and race. The question is generally posed as some variant of: Americans don't openly say they won't vote for a black man, but in the privacy of the voting booth will (other) Americans en masse vote for a black man? (The implication by the speaker, of course, is they would vote for a black person).

I don't "get" this assumption. If someone was racist and stupid enough to not vote for a black man because of race, why would they be smart enough to lie about it? I've never understood this assumption of secret, hidden racism lurking underneath. What is lurking beneath? Who thinks to themselves - "you know, I like what this Obama is saying, I'd vote for the's just, you know, he's black."

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Liberal Fascism

Sounds interesting.

A review:

Contrary to what most people think, the Nazis were ardent socialists (hence the term “National socialism”). They believed in free health care and guaranteed jobs. They confiscated inherited wealth and spent vast sums on public education. They purged the church from public policy, promoted a new form of pagan spirituality, and inserted the authority of the state into every nook and cranny of daily life. The Nazis declared war on smoking, supported abortion, euthanasia, and gun control. They loathed the free market, provided generous pensions for the elderly, and maintained a strict racial quota system in their universities—where campus speech codes were all the rage. The Nazis led the world in organic farming and alternative medicine. Hitler was a strict vegetarian, and Himmler was an animal rights activist.

Do these striking parallels mean that today’s liberals are genocidal maniacs, intent on conquering the world and imposing a new racial order? Not at all. Yet it is hard to deny that modern progressivism and classical fascism shared the same intellectual roots. We often forget, for example, that Mussolini and Hitler had many admirers in the United States. W.E.B. Du Bois was inspired by Hitler's Germany, and Irving Berlin praised Mussolini in song. Many fascist tenets were espoused by American progressives like John Dewey and Woodrow Wilson, and FDR incorporated fascist policies in the New Deal.
Me Like

New Bond girls.

I like the package except for Mark Forester. Are you kidding me? They should drop him after the Kite Runner.
Well This Was Predictable

Hitchens criticizes our obsession with Obama.
Mistake or Not

There's still a worthy discussion regarding long term benefits and downsides of our current troop presence.

How this matters to Obama...

I liked the guy. But I don't trust the throngs of cheering supporters yelling for change...

Make no mistake - we are not in the era of Martin Luther King or Abraham Lincoln. There is no great moral crusade or injustice which needs correcting. Moreover, by electing Obama, we are not doing any great moral service or making any great point.

I like the guy because he seems practical, reasonable, and smart. He should be able to make incremental improvements in a variety of domestic policies and hopefully will usher in a new generation of politics to America - a generation that has moved beyond the cultural wars of Vietnam.

He isn't going to change America, he's going to reflect it.
Starting Shit

Why is Iran starting shit?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Hillary on the Radio

Well...she bounced back in NH, partially because her well covered cry. I heard the clip on the radio...and whether her emotion was genuine or not, it sounded phony to me. Which is really sad, if you think about it, a person whose genuine emotions come across as fake. It's almost as if she is the opposite quality of her husband who underneath is a savvy, calculating political operative, yet comes across as completely trustworthy and inspiring.

As Kurt Vonnegut says, "you are who you pretend to be: so be careful who you pretend to be."
Iraq As A Campaign Issue

My advice, free and unsolicited, to Obama, and any other candidate, on talking about Iraq:

Focus on what to do moving forward. More than anything, folks in this country do not want to go back and re-debate the reasons for going to war and the nuances of whether it went wrong, when it went wrong, and how it went wrong. It is a divisive issue and will remain divisive issue for the foreseeable future. One cannot take a reasonable position - on any side - without alienating a large number of people and undoubtedly, opening oneself up to a boat load of criticism on the timing.
This Should Help

Niners hired Mike Martz as offensive coordinator.

Monday, January 07, 2008

McCain - Obama

Sullivan makes a nice point about how this race would bring out the best in America.

I'm a fan of Obama, but I agree more with McCain's positions on Iraq. Come Nov 2008, I don't know if Iraq how important Iraq will me and to the country. As for the broader WOT, I don't think Bush has done a particularly great job. AQ still exists and Bin Laden, Mullah Omar, and Zawahri are still out there. Maybe I'm being unfair, but hey, I'm a hardass on this issue.

In short, I may end up voting for Obama in spite of his Iraq position, not because of it.

McCain-Obama would bring up a substantive debate on both sides about America's relationship with Iraq for the future. I imagine it would be a more civil and thoughtful discussion than the 2003 version where Republicans were assholes who couldn't tolerate disagreement and Democrats seemed to lose their mind and only focus on Bush as opposed to the issue.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Sneak Preview

As I lay to sleep last night, I thumbed through in-Demand. I couldn't help but select the Wire to see if any of the old episodes listed would capture my fancy. I notice Episode 51. 51? I highlight, it reads: Episode 1 of Season 5. Huh? Is this a mistake? Isn't the premiere tomorrow night?

I couldn't resist. The first episode was a bit slow, setting up all the chess pieces. It reminded me of the beginning of Season 2, actually. Anyone who follows the show will already know what's happening this season - the focus on the newspaper, mayor Carcetti, and the police investigation of Marlo.

I don't think it can be as strong as season 4, but who really cares?

On a related topic, a good essay should be written on the menacing nature of Marlo's crew. Particularly Snoop.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Going Crazy

Everyone seems to be losing their mind over politics. The Corner thinks liberals will become unhinged if Obama loses.

Well, conservatives seem to be becoming unhinged now...

Huge California storm.

Could be a class 4 Hurricane wind speed in Tahoe mountains. And 10 feet of fresh powder. Jezuz.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


Caught Obama's victory speech on CNN. Very moving. Great final line...something along the line, "We're not red states and blue states...we're the United States."

Clinton coming in 3rd has gotta sting. Maybe following this stuff might become fun after all.

Want to hear Huckabee speak...don't even know what the guy looks like.

Worries about Obama being assassinated. It's 2008, not 1968. Call me naive, but I'm much more worried about Al Queda than Al Cracka.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Critique of the Wire

It is a political critique claiming the Wire is too bleak.

Which to me, is like saying, "I don't find Barak Obama entertaining enough." Like maybe politics isn't the point of the Wire in the same way maybe being entertaining isn't the point of being President.

My big problem with politically-minded people is that they try to everything political. For most folks, politics is a side activity, maybe even a leisure good. If you spend too much time trying to read the political message, you're missing all the good stuff.
There's An Idea!

To decrease dependence on oil, make all cars flex fuel, ie can run on both gas and ethanol and methanol.

I don't think it'd be easy or cheap, but it would work.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Bigger Mistake?

Many people talk about Iraq being the biggest foreign policy mistake of our era. But a much more compelling case can be made for allowing Pakistan to build and proliferate nuclear weapon technology. No one talks about it because we weren't paying attention in 1998, but we should have been.