April 19, 2008

American History X: From this morning's LA Times, in an article about the resurgence of HBO:
In his portrayal of our second president, Paul Giamatti creates a man perpetually dissatisfied, disgusted by the preening ambition of politics even as he is infected by it. If his relentless crankiness was a bit hard for some of us to take in early episodes, in the second half of the series it makes much more sense. While exhorting angry men to throw off the shackles of tyranny offers many opportunities for rhetorical fabulousness, setting up a new government is a bureaucratic nightmare, with oversized personalities disagreeing over things both petty and fundamental. George Washington (David Morse) so quickly tired of the infighting among his Cabinet and vagaries of public opinion that he stepped down from the presidency after a single term.
ARGH !!! ARGH !!! ARGH !!!

Sweet Jesus that's amazing. George Washington served two terms. Period. It's in the history books. It's also in Wikipedia. Moreover, his second term is even alluded to in the aforereferenced Adams miniseries: for example, Abigail has to convince PigVomit at one point that despite his somewhat truculent reservations, he should continue to serve as Vice President in Washington's second term. Serving two terms is one of the things Washington is famous for.

It's enough to make a lefty sympathetic to Patterico. Does the fact-checker at the Times have to regularly drink water out of the toilet or lose their back teeth from subsisting on a diet of rocks to get that job?

UPDATE [4/20]: A classy correction by the writer, here.

April 16, 2008

The tone is sometimes off-putting (I could do without the "Stupid/Evil" ratio), but the creator of Alicublog has a pretty good run-down of the Far Right blogosphere. An example:
MICHELLE MALKIN (michellemalkin.com)


TONE: Very, very angry

FUN FACT: In 2004, attacked Wonkette's Ana Marie Cox and her protégée, Washington call girl Jessica Cutler, as "the female Beavis and Butt-head" and "skanks"; was thereafter subjected to years of mercilessly mockery by Wonkette scribes, including doctored photos of Malkin frolicking in a bikini, which were strenuously debunked by her ("updated: tracking the source of the bogus Flickr photos . . .
Wonkette editors demonstrate further malice . . .").

CANDIDATE: None—McCain's too liberal


HISTORY: In the early '90s, reporter and editorial writer for the Los Angeles Daily News; later wrote for the Seattle Times, became a Fox News commentator, and joined Creators Syndicate, which currently distributes her columns. Has published books about the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II (pro), illegal immigration, and "Liberals Gone Wild" (both con). Columns have focused on culture-war subjects ("Voices From the Womb") from a more-right-wing-than-thou
perspective (e.g., citing "President Bush's cave-in on government funding of embryonic stem-cell research"). Illegal immigrants get special attention, as do nefarious nonwhite Americans, be they of Asian ("Asian-Americans milking 9-11"), Arab ("myth of the Muslim hate crime epidemic"), or African ("Sept. 11 brought home the lesson that vile ideas have bloody consequences—no matter how 'daggone funky' they may sound to mush-headed music critics") descent. Began blogging in
2004, mainly bringing Internet-response speed to the usual subjects, plus a few new tropes, including frequent accusations of "dhimmitude" against parties insufficiently hostile toward Muslims, including YouTube ("JihadTube").

MODUS OPERANDI: Parses news feverishly for offenses to her worldview. Has been enraged by the D.C. networking group Professionals in the City (for holding an event at the Cuban embassy), Jessica Alba (for "making pro-assimilation remarks"), and Google (for bias in news-site affiliate selection, logos, and search results). Doesn't spare conservative outlets ("P.C. at the Washington Times") or the Republican Party ("Is the GOP Lost?") when they run afoul of her on doctrinal matters, especially regarding immigration. Attacks
McCain on this subject, often without the benefit of hyphens ("I don't want another George W. Bush open borders type in the White House").

WHAT TO EXPECT: Barring a dramatic reversal on immigration by McCain, will wash her hands of the whole election and concentrate on everyday liberal- and foreigner-bashing.
(link via Winds of Change, who apparently believe that Obama is trailing McCain in the polls)

April 14, 2008

I don't care what Obama says, chronic unemployment and regional economic emasculation cannot excuse this sort of thing...so far, the polls aren't showing much of an impact, which shouldn't be surprising. First, the overwhelming majority of voters pretty much have decided on who they will support, and something that is perceived as a slip of the tongue isn't going to weigh as heavy as, say, getting out of Iraq or what to do about four dollar gas.

But more importantly, I don't think the "elitist" label really hurts Obama, the same way it has hurt other Democrats in the past. Perhaps the biggest personal attribute Obama is selling is his intelligence; after eight years of a failed Presidency helmed by someone widely perceived to be dumber than a bag of hammers, having a candidate who speaks in complete sentences and who actually seems to think about what he's saying may be precisely what swing voters are demanding. After Katrina, Iraq and the real estate bubble, why not give the A-students a chance to run things for once?

Moreover, Mickey Kaus may be on to something when he says that Clinton and McCain may be making a huge mistake by focusing too much on the "bitter." Voters are angry, and over the last thirty years neither party has offered the voters Obama was addressing much in the way of policies that would actually improve their lives. That may be why The Speech last month resonated so deeply: rather than doing the politically expedient thing, which was to throw his friend overboard, he used the opportunity to recast the debate as one about how race continues to affect our perceptions. Voters didn't see a politician treating them with condescension; they saw an intelligent person speak to them as adults, put their feelings into words, and define a problem we would all rather avoid talking about in an honest fashion. It was most unexpected, which may be why they are willing to cut Obama some slack here.

April 13, 2008

Did you know that you have a better chance of being killed in a terrorist attack than you have of seeing a good movie that opens in more than 2000 theatres? Well, not exactly, but the inverse relationship between movie quality and Hollywood release strategies is explored, here.
Tony Pierce, on why we should go to the Olympics:
although i believe in making it tough for a torch to get from one end of frisco to another, i dont believe in not going to olympic events out of protest.

i believe in having jesse owens go to nazi germany to win gold right there in front of hitler and his beliefs about the master race.

i believe in going to mexico city and raising the black power salute while they play the star spangled banner

i believe in beating the russians with kids because yes al michaels i believe in miracles

and miracles dont happen unless you play the game.
A number of points should be made about any decision to boycott. First, there is absolutely no reason for the President to attend the opening ceremonies. President Ford didn't attend the opening ceremonies in Montreal, nor did LBJ go to Mexico City. And those Olympics were held next door, so to speak, not halfway around the globe. Neither tradition nor necessity requires George Bush to make a trip that did he didn't make four years earlier.

Second, the rationale for boycotting the Games was the same now as it was when they were originally awarded to China, in 2001. I don't think it can be plausibly argued that things are worse now in China than they were back then. The IOC had reason to know what it was getting into when it made the selection, and it seems unfair to punish the athletes at this late date.

Third, the notion that Olympic boycotts accomplish nothing is one that is belied by history. The boycott of the '76 Games by African nations upset by New Zealand's defiance of an international anti-Apartheid blockade thrust that issue into the public spotlight, ensuring that future friendly contacts with South Africa would be fraught with risk. The boycott of the Moscow games by the U.S. was arguably the most constructive act in opposing Soviet imperialism in Afghanistan (obviously, it finishes ahead of "arming the Taliban"), and minimized the propaganda value that full attendance at those games would have had for that regime. It was also a very popular move at home, a way of signalling our anger over the Soviet invasion without shedding blood.

Conversely, the non-boycott of the '36 Games in Berlin should now be seen in the context of other decisions made by Western political leaders not to challenge the rising Nazi tide. The notion that Jesse Owens "discredited" Aryan supremacy reminds me of that great Peter Cook line about the importance of the Weimar cabarets in stopping the rise of Hitler and preventing World War II. Owens did indeed win four gold medals in the center of Nazi Germany, Joe Louis did destroy Max Schmelling in less than two minutes, and yet Hitler still managed to nearly destroy civilization. Since Leni Riefenstahl found the time to make a propaganda film about the games anyway (even including the stories of Owens and other black athletes in the version shown internationally), it's safe to say that Hitler, who didn't like sports to begin with, wasn't challenged in any way by the occasional victories of "non-Aryan" athletes at his games. It's hard to see how not boycotting the '36 Olympics made the world a safer or more humane place.