October 17, 2007

Heather Havrilesky, on TV's best hour:
The sad message of the show is that, in a world built on lies, ethics are a barrier to both success and happiness. Draper is trapped in a marriage that he doesn't feel connected to, partially because it grew from false pretenses (his wife doesn't know who he really is), but escape from it would be reckless and destructive for him and his family -- just see the single mom down the street from the Drapers, considered hopeless and sad by her neighbors.

The characters of "Mad Men" are thus resigned to live double lives, and the more comfortable they are with their deceit, the happier they'll be. But it makes sense that ad executives would be best served by experiencing the world as pure, delightful artifice: You are whoever and whatever you say you are, nothing more and nothing less. It's a testament to the intelligence of the writing that we, as the audience, find ourselves torn over these characters and their choices. In an oppressive, corrupt culture, their lies sometimes feel like acts of cowardice, and at other times feel like acts of liberation.

This is what a good dramatic work should do: ask important questions that have no easy answers. But that's not all we get from "Mad Men." We get weighty, nuanced scenes that we've never seen before, and that we can't predict as they're unfolding. We get fantastic acting, incredible art direction, and dynamic, fun storytelling with a wicked sense of humor. "Mad Men" is easily the best new show of the year, a true work of art grounded by sharp social commentary and poetic insights into the American experience.
For creating a show that has become one of the most talked-about, heatedly debated series in TV history, and for creating a look and ambience normally associated with Wong Kar-Wai films, Matthew Weiner deserves all the kudos he's received.
I'm not sure Colbert translates as well to the printed page as he does on late-night TV.

October 15, 2007

A Republican speaks, on illegal immigration:
Why shouldn't city employees turn undocumented immigrants over to the INS? Because if immigrants fear being caught and deported, they will avoid the police, hospitals and schools--to the detriment of the entire city. If the federal government fails to fulfill its responsibility to keep undocumented immigrants out of the U.S., then we must afford them certain protections to preserve the health and safety of all Americans.

A criminal who victimizes an undocumented immigrant might attack a legal resident next. Discouraging the reporting of crimes would make it more difficult for the police to track criminal activity. New York now leads the nation in crime reduction, but we cannot catch criminals, prevent crime and protect the public if we don't have accurate information about where and when crimes are occurring.

Immigrants who fail to seek medical care for fear of deportation also pose a substantial danger to the general public. The misguided new federal law could result in the spread of serious communicable diseases that might easily have been contained if diagnosed and treated early.

And parents who fear deportation might not send their children to public schools. If not in school, some 80,000 children of undocumented immigrants would be on the streets of New York or left alone in apartments. Not only would they suffer irreversible damage, but so many unsupervised children would endanger public safety in the entire city.

What's more, there is no indication that vastly increasing the number of names reported to the INS would even lead to substantially more deportations. The federal government seldom deports undocumented immigrants, even when the INS has established their identities. In New York City, which has an estimated 400,000 undocumented immigrants, only about 1,500 are deported each year. While the recently enacted illegal-immigration law provides new funding for deportation, still less than 1% of the undocumented immigrants already in New York would be deported each year. If the federal government wants to stop illegal immigration, it should work diplomatically with other governments and better secure our national borders, not endanger public safety by recklessly denying critical services to people already here.
--Mayor Rudy Giuliani, 1/9/97 [link via Rude Pundit]
"Even the conservative Wall Street Journal..." Another triumph for conservative bloggers.
In Defense of Americanism: Regardless of who (or what) he's sleeping with, there is evidence that John Edwards would be a terrific President, as this Glenn Greenwald piece shows. There are worse things than the occasional terrorist attack.
I would be more inclined to dis Kaus' take on the Edwards-Gluck affair allegations if one of the parties would, you know, actually deny that they had an affair, or better yet, deny that they had ever slept together, not just use Clintonian weasel words like "the story is false," or "I love my wife, therefore there's no truth to the allegations." Lefty bloggers would be doing our side more of a favor if we stopped being unpaid shills for Democratic politicians and subjected all sides to rigorous scrutiny. At the very least, our hearts won't be broken quite so often when they act like politicians.

October 14, 2007

The Democratic Party can't stop the damned war in Iraq, but at least they're trying to do something about the real public health menace our country faces from Talladega and Daytona.