Thursday, December 29, 2011

The 2,001st Post: What's Obama Done?

I just checked by accident and found out yesterday's Nettertainment post was #2,000. Wow.

I'll celebrate by reprinting an email to a friend who's on the Left and skeptical of President Barack Obama. You know, the kind of leftwing skepticism (a.k.a. circular firing squad) that dogged Al Gore in the fateful 2000 election where some said there would be no difference between a President Gore and a President George W. Bush. And we all know how that turned out.

Leaving aside the massive, publicly stated Republican obstructionism and hard-right/Fox News demonization of President Obama, the massive attempt at de-legitimization by calling him Kenyan, anti-American Exceptionalist, Socialist, Hitlerist, etc, there's this:

Already arguably better than Bill Clinton – four sites, listed in my order of preference, tracking what he's accomplished so far:
Hope to see what Prezbama can do with a second term, especially if Dems can hold the Senate and maybe even flip the House.

And the photo of the year:

Since I sent that email, as if by ESP, there's this video from TPM:

Watch this meme grow -- how much he's accomplished -- as Romney (now looking likely to be Obama's 2012 Republican opponent) amps up the name-calling, lies and smears. As George Clooney says:

And do we really need this guy mucking it up again?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Willard Mitt Romney was a bishop, a lay pastor in his church, something he brings up to discuss abortion on the campaign trail. For being a Mormon missionary, he received a deferment from military service during the Vietnam War.

So my question is, as a man of religious faith, is this his idea of morality? :

"Close them. Turn 'em off. Even some you like," he said. "You might say, 'I like the National Endowment for the Arts.' I do," Romney said. "I like PBS. We subsidize PBS. Look, I'm going to stop that. I'm going to say that PBS is going to have to have advertisement."

"We're not going to kill Big Bird," Romney said. "But Big Bird is going to have advertisements. Alright?"

Alright? Because we all agree that educating children always goes so much better with advertisements? Not alright, Willard.

Mitt's too old to have watched Sesame Street as a kid. In fact, electing him would turn back the leadership of our country a generation, to the Clinton/Bush generation. So maybe he just doesn't get it because, like so much else, he's above it by age and wealth.

Sometimes I wonder if Mitt is not just embarked upon the greatest single performance art piece of our times. If he can flip-flop so easily, if he is indeed the hollow man everyone believes he is, if he's say or do anything to get elected and we're not getting real principles, and if enough people understand that but vote for him anyway hoping the massive tea-pandering is with a wink, then he's doing a better act than Stephen Colbert or Sasha Baron Cohen.

If not, then he's just kind of douchy.

If you want to see his whole pander, here you go:

And watching this clip, as always with Willard, I find it difficult to believe American will vote to see this man representing America on TV for the next four years.

Tricky Dick

Richard Nixon & Bebe Rebozo?

A new biography by Don Fulsom, a veteran Washington reporter who covered the Nixon years, suggests the 37th U.S. President had a serious drink problem, beat his wife and — by the time he was inaugurated in 1969 — had links going back two decades to the Mafia, including with New Orleans godfather Carlos Marcello, then America's most powerful mobster.

Yet the most extraordinary claim is that the homophobic Nixon may have been gay himself. If true, it would provide a fascinating insight into the motivation and behaviour of a notoriously secretive politician.

Fulsom argues that Nixon may have had an affair with his best friend and confidant, a Mafia‑connected Florida wheeler-dealer named Charles 'Bebe' Rebozo who was even more crooked than Nixon.

I remember my parents and their friends joking about how much Nixon hung with this mediocre ex-baseball player all the time, but they'd never really imagine this at the time. Was foul-mouthed, bigoted Dick Nixon the ultimate homosexual masochist in the age of fascistic repression of gay rights? It would explain so much. As President, Nixon was of course part of that repression.

The only and ultimate escape for RMN: resignation.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Girl with the James Bond Tattoo

It's movie season and I've seen a few over the past week, mainly good stuff. The one I was most itching to see was the adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, directed by David Fincher and screenwritten by Steven Zaillian. I've read the three books, I think about 1800pp. altogether, and saw the first of the Swedish film versions, so I've spent a whole lot of time with Lisbeth Salander (as well as Mikael Blomqvist) and have to admire the extreme high quality work in the new one. I have to admit to getting a wee bit emotional when Lisbeth first showed up and when Blomqvist finally learned of her existence -- having investigated him.

She's that powerful a character, a female James Bond for our 99% Century, the best new detective since Ian Fleming introduced Bond in 1953 (original, compelling, timely, slightly feral, attractive). The books are written in a similar style to Fleming's, third person but always very close to the characters' thoughts, with detail on the type of liquor/coffee they drink, how the meals effected them, and then of course the big action-fueling plots.

This is David Fincher's Bond movie, beautifully composed for the big screen while moving with stylish velocity, featuring a teaser followed by a main titles sequence that is just like those in the Bond series, just cranked to 11 (or 12) by Trent Reznor's supersonic cover of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" and the speedy dark-side animation. He even has Daniel Craig starring in it, the best Bond since Sean Connery. It's the best Bond flick since Craig's Casino Royale, which is the best Bond flick since Thunderball.

Craig, Christopher Plummer, Stellen Skarsgard and the rest of the cast is great -- Robin Wright, in particular, seems to have come into her own lately, including her work in Moneyball and guest spot on Enlightened. And while I don't think Noomi Rapace will ever be effaced for how she originated the role, in actual Swedish, Rooney Mara successfully crosses the rubicon as a legit Lisbeth. Her chemistry with Craig works, and she certainly commits physically to the role. We need to be at least a little afraid of Lisbeth and she may be a little tougher than Rapace, if lacking the touch of Asiatic that seems to make Rapace one with the dragon up and down her back.

The six hundred pages are well-compressed, making some of the same decisions as the Swedish movie but really zipping through the exposition of solving the case as well as climaxing the set-up B plot. Per the structure of the book, unique in the series as the others have no Agatha Christie-type plot, but instead focus on Lisbeth's story, the movie runs about fifteen minutes longer than most due to the "prologue" plot that's needed to set up the main characters prior to tackling this particular murder mystery. The couple slight changes to the ending were fine, and one can only hope Fincher decides to do the next two.

Will he?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

No Big Deal

A welcome first (for such documentation and dissemination), certainly far from a last:

Welcome to America, sisters.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

GOP Disarray

The payroll tax holiday debacle in the House of Representatives is tearing the GOP apart and smashing to pieces their "anti-tax" brand. The meme is becoming clear: the Republican Party is only interested in political wins and protecting the wealthy.

Here's how they looked today on the House floor when Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) tries to bring up a vote on the Senate compromise bill passed by nearly 90% of the Senate:

Embarrassing optics for the House leadership, where Speaker Boehner kowtows to the Teapublicans to try and keep his job. Per Dana Milbank, the GOP is now in damage control mode. And supposed "leader" of the GOP Presidential pack, Willard Mitt Romney, is too chicken to take a position on the payroll tax holiday at all. Nice leadership skills, Willard.

It's not just this issue -- the GOP are in trouble everywhere with their Teapublicans, like the Major of Troy, Michigan:

Janice Daniels, led a coalition of like-minded tea partiers to kill off a transit center project that was a decade in the making, kissing off $8.4 million in federal investment funds to help make the project happen.

Well, Troy is now going to pay the price for this type of mindless ideological dogma: investors are being advised to look elsewhere rather than Troy, Michigan.

As for the idea of taxing millionaires, an anathema to the GOP:

Six in ten Americans believe Congress should raise taxes on Americans earning more than $1 million per year, according to a new CBS News poll, while only 35 percent oppose such an increase.

A narrow majority of Republican primary voters say those making more than $1 million per year should not see an increase -- but they are nearly split on the question. Forty-three percent want to see taxes on millionaires increased, and 51 percent do not.

Most GOP primary voters - 55 percent - don't think such a tax increase would have a negative impact on job creation. Twenty-nine percent say such a tax hike would hurt job creation.

Yep, as The Wall Street Journal said today:

After a year of the tea party House, Mr. Obama and Senate Democrats have had to make no major policy concessions beyond extending the Bush tax rates for two years. Mr. Obama is in a stronger re-election position today than he was a year ago, and the chances of Mr. McConnell becoming Majority Leader in 2013 are declining.

Once again: Gobama.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Vaclav Havel: Rock Star

Buried in the news of the Kim Jong-Il's death yesterday and the immediacy of associated diplomacy was the passing of Czech playwright, national leader and savior/hero, Vaclav Havel, who gave the world the Velvet Revolution of 1989. After having been jailed numerous times by the Soviet puppet regime, he eventually became a great leader:

More so than any of the prominent figures from the period of anti-communist dissent, Havel used his position, voice and moral authority to advance present-day struggles for freedom. If he looked backward at all, it was only to find lessons from his own experience that might be useful for freedom-fighters today. Communicating those lessons, he once wrote to the Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya, was a way of repaying a debt to those who helped him in his own time of need.

He found many ways to repay that debt. In 1991, at a moment when he himself might have received the Nobel Peace Prize for leading the Velvet Revolution, he campaigned successfully for it to be awarded to Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi and remained a steadfast supporter of the Burmese democracy movement. He termed Alexander Lukashenko’s regime in Belarus “the disgrace of Europe” and extended moral and practical solidarity to the opposition there. He developed a deep connection with Paya’s Varela Project,which pressed for free elections and other basic rights in Cuba; and he established the International Committee for Democracy in Cuba, recruiting to it ex-presidents, members of parliament and distinguished writers from throughout Latin America and Europe. He co-authored a report applying the “responsibility to protect” doctrine to the totalitarian system in North Korea, And he led the successful international campaign to give the Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo the Nobel Peace Prize, launching it with an open letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao demanding Liu’s release from prison. The letter was delivered on Jan. 6, 2010, the 33rd anniversary of the day Havel himself was arrested for delivering the democracy manifesto Charter 77 to the Prague Castle.
This is the opposite of Kim Jong-Il, selfless rather than selfish. While artists sometimes turn leader with disastrous results, i.e. painter Adolph Hitler, Havel proved to be the right artist to lead his country into freedom.

Best of all, he had awesome taste in popular music, starting with his favorite and friend, Frank Zappa:

Not to mention Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground (like the Velvet Revolution):

And then, of course:

A better leader to remember. Keep on rocking in the free world, Vaclav, wherever you are.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Like Father Like Grandson

Here in America, when we think of Kim Il-Sung, we probably think of this:

The reality is that this sick son of bitch, now mercifully dead (for the people of North Korea), was the author of famine in his country and an oppressor of his people -- to serve his own pleasures:

From 1995 to 1997, famine raged in North Korea. According to a report by North Korea’s Public Security Ministry, up to 3 million lost their lives (source). As this isn’t the most neutral observer, real numbers are probably much higher. (See an older post here about not trusting governments with the job of human rights measurement). Still today, the country is in such a state that it won’t take much for famine to return.

It was Kim Il Sung who used to say, “Communism is rice,” meaning the system would succeed by giving the people enough to eat. The famine was caused by mismanagement and the inability to adapt to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the economic transformation of China.

All that said, Kim Jong Il acted with callous disregard to the suffering of his people. Rather than lose face, the North Koreans denied the food crisis for years and then kept humanitarian aid out of the places it was most needed. The regime executed people who tried to adapt by engaging in private business.

By the way, Kim Jong Il is famous for being one of the biggest foodies in Asia. Throughout the nineteen-eighties and well into the famine, he flew couriers around the world to procure delicacies for his own palate — fresh fish from Tokyo for his sushi, cheese from France, caviar from Uzbekistan and Iran, mangoes and papaya from Thailand.

Kim Jong-Il got the power by primogeniture from Kim Il-Sung and has passed it onto his 27-year old son, Kim Jong-Un, who is expected to be controlled by his uncle on his mother's side, Chang Sung-Taek.

Here's the three generations:




Grand Vizier (Chang Sang-Taek)

I'm sure they're expecting us to invade right now, and I'm sure Beijing is there to stop it, diplomatically at first.

This will be a very interesting week for President Obama. His Administration is saying it's taken out Al Quaeda, how about breaking down the walls into North Korea at this critical juncture. The top strategist in America against a regime that's been prepared to lose their dear leader for awhile, but probably hoped it would still not be so soon.

The question is, will someone from this crime family end up on a meathook and, if so, who will it be?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Filmography 2011

An annual ritual now:

Congrats to Genrock for the edit and here's the list of what's in it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Solid Endorsement

I have as many problems with Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) as Andrew Sullivan and am not with him on as many issues, but he was right on the Iraq War and the Patriot Act. He's not a liar, he's not a GOP/FOX grifter and he's not an authoritarian. I've said for a long time that he would be the smartest nomination the Republicans could make, a real statement that would crystallize issues.

It's a little scary that Sullivan has written his endorsement so well today, just as he did for Obama four years ago, the first such endorsement I saw and the piece of writing that influenced me to really look at Obama, take him seriously as a candidate. Hopefully, we stay the course for four more years. Obama's the best Republican President since Eisenhower, and I'm hoping since Theodore Roosevelt by the end of his second term.

Here's a few key paragraphs that I agree with:

And I see in Paul none of the resentment that burns in Gingrich or the fakeness that defines Romney or the fascistic strains in Perry's buffoonery. He has yet to show the Obama-derangement of his peers, even though he differs with him. He has now gone through two primary elections without compromising an inch of his character or his philosophy. This kind of rigidity has its flaws, but, in the context of the Newt Romney blur, it is refreshing. He would never take $1.8 million from Freddie Mac. He would never disown Reagan, as Romney once did. He would never speak of lynching Bernanke, as Perry threatened. When he answers a question, you can see that he is genuinely listening to it and responding - rather than searching, Bachmann-like, for the one-liner to rouse the base. He is, in other words, a decent fellow, and that's an adjective I don't use lightly. We need more decency among Republicans.

And on some core issues, he is right. He is right that spending - especially on entitlements and defense - is way out of control. Unlike his peers, he had the balls to say so when Bush and Cheney were wrecking the country's finances, and rendering us close to helpless when the Great Recession came bearing down. Alas, he lacks the kind of skills at compromise, moderation and restraint that once defined conservatism and now seems entirely reserved for liberals. But who else in this field would? Romney would have to prove his base cred for his entire presidency. Gingrich is a radical utopian and supremely nasty fantasist.

I don't believe Romney or Gingrich would cut entitlements as drastically as Paul. But most important, I don't believe that any of the other candidates, except perhaps Huntsman, would cut the military-industrial complex as deeply as it needs to be cut. What Paul understands - and it's why he has so much young support - is that the world has changed. Seeking global hegemony in a world of growing regional powers among developing nations is a fool's game, destined to provoke as much backlash as lash, and financially disastrous as every failed empire in history has shown.

I'm supremely grateful to Rep. Paul that he's not an Obama-hater. He's a gent, which is more than I can say for every other GOP Presidential candidate, other than Gov. Jon Huntsman (who should keep spending as little as possible in his training run in prep for 2016). Romney is establishment trash, with no vision for running a compelling campaign, let alone a Presidency. And Gingrich is anti-establishment trash, all for him, grifter class. His hypocrisy has more integrity than Romney's. It's like Tony Soprano -- this is what he does.

Obama-Paul. A tighter race than either Willard or Newton?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

For the Win

The endorsement that really counts:

Boston, MA - Mitt Romney today announced the support of conservative activist Christine O’Donnell.

“Christine has been a leader in the conservative movement for many years,” said Mitt Romney. “Christine recognizes that excessive government threatens us now and threatens future generations, and I am pleased to have her on my team.”

That's right, the one who says she's not a witch.

Meanwhile, Mitt lost a vote:

Either Romney really is so bigoted as to deny this gay ex-serviceman his rights, or he's such a soulless panderer that he no leader at all.

In any case, it all may be moot soon. Gingrich is more than the not-Romney flavor of the moment, he's the winner of the not-Romney sweepstakes. At least he'll make Richard Nixon look like a professional in the General Election.

Guess who's benefited most for the GOP debates -- and has the best organization in Iowa: BHO.

Remember this from four years ago?

Still gives me chills when he says, "They said this day would never come..."

Until April


This has a been a generally terrific second season of Boardwalk Empire, with slow first episode (again) but picking up a lot faster than the first season did. The Sunday night season finale was gutsy in the sense that they ended the Jimmy Darmody story, but the really tripped out episode was the penultimate one, where Jimmy finally got his origin story and we got all the back story we could have ever wanted, and more. It's not just Game of Thrones, it's not TV; it's HBO: The Incest Channel.

It's a mistake to kill off Jimmy in the sense that Michael Pitt played the most riveting of the four main characters (Nucky, Margaret, Agent Van Alden being the other three top billed leads) to a large degree because he has been just so riveting to watch, so easily period, with a silent film star's profile, always lit beautifully. It'll be interesting to see if the show can recover. My bet is on Michael Shannon -- the little hint of things to come is his moving with au pair and infant to Cicero, IL, which is where Al Capone kept his home base. Maybe the disgraced agent uses that cover to infiltrate and take a shot at redemption as a Fed?

I diligently watched two other HBO shows, comedies, starting with Hung's third season. By the end of the first season the show had found its feet (and other body parts), a great conceit that showed America in recession, the growth of man who's just starting to find his feminine side, and a very smart, funny cast with Jane Adams possibly the funniest character on TV -- her Tanya always so needy, so ready to compromise morally to fulfill her needs, so transparent. Season two was peak Hung but this season, with Thomas Jane's Ray and Tanya finding some success (and still more farce), some terrific comic sex scenes, and a tender start to rapprochement with his wife, Jessica, a career highlight for Anne Heche. It wasn't quite as necessary overall as season two but always put a smile on my face from start to finish.

Then there's the Best Television Show of 2011 You Aren't Watching, Enlightened. Written by Mike White and Executive Produced by White and star Laura Dean. The story is of a female corporate exec who has a meltdown when she's fired essentially for having an affair with a married boss, then comes back from a meditation retreat in Hawaii all "enlightened" only to struggle as all those she returns to are not. Diane Ladd (her real life mother and the false Mrs. Mulwray in Chinatown) plays her uptight, loner mother, Luke Wilson does he own career highlight work as her drug-addicted ex-husband with whom she's also trying to connect, and Mike White plays her co-worker, a nebbish who's also trapped in the new basement division doing data entry on an ominous 1% vs. 99% computer program.

While often inducing cringes over Dern's character's innocence and spiritual/political activism in situations where her corporate colleagues and former friends think she's a freak, the highs of the story are huge, and Dern turns in yet another brilliant performance. She's David Lynch's muse, alright, and did a blowaway Katherine Harris also on HBO, and her level of commitment and specificity is wonderous.

Then there was this preview, and all the other shows, well, they just didn't seem quite so critical:

Let's hope Mad Men in January is enough to keep me happy until April. Otherwise it's just a wait.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Can I Get a Mitt-ness?

Another week, another GOP Presidential Debate. And I use that term, "Presidential," loosely. The big news from the debate as well as the past week is the Romney campaign heading into freak-out mode as Newt Gingrich has taken virtually all the Herman Cain support and emerged as the frontrunner -- the last "Not Romney" standing and the one who looks like he's going to win unless something big happens quick.

The base doesn't love Mitt, and the more he panders the less attractive he seems overall. He not only sent out all the surrogates to bash Newt last week (not hard -- he was a disaster as Speaker of the House and those who served under him are all telling that tale), he's even stooped so low as to enlist the satanic Ann Coulter as a surrogate. Time to draw a pentagram on the floor, Mitt, light a candle in the middle and call forth Beelzebub.

The moment that sparked a million tweets in last night's debate was Mitt getting so fed up with Rick Perry quoting his book back to him that he offered a $10,000 bet to settle the matter. Because he's one with the American Middle Class, and we all put $10k on the table when someone says something we don't like. It went like this:

As one YouTube commenter notes:

fyi, a $10,000 bet amounts to .00005 of romney's net worth. so if you had a net worth of $400,000, that would amount to a 20 dollar bet.
So now Gingrich has landslide leads in GOP polls for two early Primary states, South Carolina and Florida, and is chipping away at Mitt's firewall, New Hampshire. And the upshot of all these debates, poll shifts and Republican exposure:

Turning to the general election, President Obama’s standing has improved in Florida, always a key presidential battleground state.

Forty-six percent of registered voters in the state approve of his job, which is up five points since October.

In hypothetical match-ups, the president leads Romney by seven points (48 to 41 percent) and Gingrich by 12 points (51 to 39 percent).

In South Carolina -- a reliable Republican state in presidential contests -- Obama’s approval rating stands at 44 percent, and he holds narrow leads over Romney (45 to 42 percent) and Gingrich (46 to 42 percent).

That's right: if the election were held today, President Barack Hussein Obama beats both Willard Mitt Romney and Newton Leroy Gingrich in that bastion of the Confederacy, South Carolina.

Maybe in his second term he'll really be able to hit the gas for this great country.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

He Just Can't Quit It

Hilarious responses to Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry's instant-classic gaybaiting ad, essentially a storm of "Dislikes" on YouTube (heading towards 300,000 Dislikes vs. 6,000 Likes as I write this) and also inspiring a bit of research that is too good to be believed:

I guess he may not want gay soldiers to serve openly and honestly in the military, but gets his fashion cues from Brokeback Mountain.

As Will Truman wrote this week, the 2012 GOP Presidential nomination process has entered an entirely new realm never seen before: satire. You couldn't write a clown show like this:
It occurred to me the other day as I was leaving a comment elsewhere: if someone had written a TV show and the plot followed the current Republican primary, I would have some serious problems with it. Namely, I would pan the show as unrealistic. A joke. Liberal Hollywood’s parody of what the Republican Party is. Herman Cain? Who the hell acts like that. There is no way that a party would seriously give a serial-adulturing, ideologically muddled, lobbying-compromised former House Leader a shot at the nomination. Hollywood couldn’t devise a more repugnant figure as the potential head of a party that they want noting to do with. The comparisons between Rick Perry and Rob Ritchie have, of course, frequently been made. But in some sense, Ritchie would seem downright normal compared to a lot of the candidates. And though the connection hasn’t been made, I see some similarities between Mitt Romney and Bob Russell, the simply unpalatable (to many) candidate who doesn’t belong there but is there because he’s there and his biography doesn’t entirely discount his presence.
Meanwhile, in the real world, a reporter who asks a stupid question echoing the GOP (especially Romney) canard that President Obama is somehow an appeaser of America's enemies, gotta love the smackdown from Mac Daddy Barack:

Yeah, ask Bin Laden. At the bottom of the deep blue sea. My prediction holds: the 2012 Obama landslide will best his 2008 win.

You read it here first.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Just the Facts, Ma'am

It's like a piece of television history dying off like an old oak tree. R.I.P, Harry Morgan:
Harry Morgan, the prolific character actor best known for playing the acerbic but kindly Colonel Potter in the long-running television series “M*A*S*H,” died on Wednesday morning at his home in Los Angeles. He was 96.

In more than 100 movies, Mr. Morgan played Western bad guys, characters with names like Rocky and Shorty, loyal sidekicks, judges, sheriffs, soldiers, thugs and police chiefs.

On television, he played Officer Bill Gannon with a phlegmatic but light touch to Jack Webb’s always-by-the-book Sgt. Joe Friday in the updated “Dragnet,” from 1967 to 1970. He starred as Pete Porter, a harried husband, in the situation comedy “Pete and Gladys” (1960-62), reprising a role he had played on “December Bride” (1954-59). He was also a regular on “The Richard Boone Show” (1963-64), “Kentucky Jones” (1964-65), “The D.A.” (1971-72), “Hec Ramsey” (1972-74) and “Blacke’s Magic” (1986).


Mr. Morgan’s television credits were prodigious. He once estimated that in one show or another, he was seen in prime time for 35 straight years. Regarded as one of the busiest actors in the medium, he had continuing roles in at least 10 series, which, combined with his guest appearances, amounted to hundreds of episodes.

Wow, talk about a prolific career. It's a face and delivery a number of generations grew up with.

Another end-of-the-century moment, about a decade later than originally scheduled.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Rockin' Barack vs. the Philistines

In Osawatomie, Kansas, today, his mother's home state and where Teddy Roosevelt called for "a square deal, President Barack Obama lay down the argument for now through the next election. Some meat:
But this isn’t just another political debate. This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make or break moment for the middle class, and all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. At stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, and secure their retirement.

Now, in the midst of this debate, there are some who seem to be suffering from a kind of collective amnesia. After all that’s happened, after the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, they want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess. In fact, they want to go back to the same policies that have stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for too many years. Their philosophy is simple: we are better off when everyone is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.

Well, I’m here to say they are wrong. I’m here to reaffirm my deep conviction that we are greater together than we are on our own. I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, and when everyone plays by the same rules. Those aren’t Democratic or Republican values; 1% values or 99% values. They’re American values, and we have to reclaim them.
Meanwhile, the GOP continues to openly take their orders from unelected tax-pledge king, Grover Norquist while a desperate Texas mom who's been denied food stamps for months shot herself and her children.

Choose your America, America.

Monday, December 05, 2011

World's Most Expensive Crash

Gotta love it:

Eight Ferraris and a Lamborghini were part of a 14-car crash in Japan yesterday that wrecked more than $1 million of vehicles.

“The accident occurred when the driver of a red Ferrari was switching from the right lane to the left and skidded,” said Mitsuyoshi Isejima, executive officer for Yamaguchi Prefecture’s Expressway Traffic Police unit. “It was a gathering of narcissists.” The drivers were aged between 37 and 60 years old, he said.

A gathering of narcissists...isn't that a GOP Presidential debate?

And maybe a car crash as well.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Hugo Scorsese

I went into the picture, Hugo, expecting it to be a lot softer than it was. No, this isn't a Taxi Driver or Goodfellas type toughness, it's the emotional side, particularly the based-on-reality story of how Georges Méliès, the pioneering father of the "cinema of the fantastic" with influence running all the way through Star Wars and Avatar, had been forgotten after WWI, his 531 films almost all lost, living a life of anonymity with a little shop in the Paris train station.

The pathos of this great man's situation, as told through the drama of the titular character, Hugo, is ultimately turned into a very emotional triumph, and a tremendous montage sequence capping a highly spectacular film experience throughout. From the very first shots of historic Paris recreated and thrown in to 3D relief, director Martin Scorsese rewards the viewing with a surfeit of visual riches, in what can only be described as a fairytale steampunk aesthetic.

Scorsese cleverly reminds us that trains, clocks and motion pictures (before digital) were all based on the same complex analog technology of circular gears, but with film it's all about the innate desire for mimesis, as represented by a robotic torso, the mystery of which drives the narrative for the first two thirds of the film.

My kids, ages 12 and 8 1/2, both loved the movie. I was struck that, for the first time, a Scorsese movie got me all choked up. I was also struck that, for the first time since Avatar, it made sense that the movie was made and exhibited in 3D. In fact, it is easily the best 3D movie I've ever seen. It just won the National Board of Review award for Best Picture 2011, and I would not be entirely surprised to see it score top Picture and Director awards at the Oscars. I think it's the type of film that will grow on viewers in memory and in reputation over time. Sure, it's a little long, but as is typical with Scorsese, there's a visual density to the material that makes it something new.

By using the most modern/futuristic of technologies to take us back to the dawn of film, Scorsese has won the conceptual award for use of 3D. With standout performances by Sir Ben Kingsley (perfecto casting) and Sacha Baron Cohen (naturally funny in any role? funny in spite of himself in this one?) and a look that isn't quite like anything you've ever seen before, yet hearkening back to the best fantasy films of the 40's, 30's, 20's and before, it's quite a pleasure to absorb for oneself on the biggest screen you can find.

Per Travis Bickle, yes, I'm talkin' to you.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Greatest Board Game Ever

I'm loving how it's now a general knowledge meme that The Wire is the best television series of all time. I hear it every few weeks from random people, most of whom didn't catch it in its initial run, but later on DVD or Netflicks. Watching whole seasons over a single weekend, not three months like we did at the start. Getting it fast, injection.

This got posted today:

Best part:

All hail Michael Kenneth Williams.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Those Funny Candidates and the Convention

Gotta love Michele Bachmann Turner Overdrive:

According to a tweet from NBC News’ Jamie Novogrod, Bachmann responded to the recent raiding of the British embassy in Iran, by saying that if she was President, she would close down the U.S. embassy there.

There’s just one problem: The U.S. has not had an embassy in Iran ever since the Iranian hostage crisis, when revolutionaries from the budding Islamic state held 52 Americans for 444 days.

But that was so long ago, how is she expected to remember??

How about Rick Perry White:

The Associated Press carried the following report on a speech he gave to a crowd at Saint Anselm college in New Hampshire:

[H]e appealed to students who will be at least 21 before Election Day to vote for him. As for those younger than 21, he merely asked them to work hard on his behalf. Doesn’t he want their votes, too? It turns out Perry didn’t know or had forgotten that the voting age in America is 18. The flub caused some whispers in the crowd.
No biggie. In Texas what really matters is the drinking age!

And, finally, Jon Stewart goes all out on Herman "Adam Raised A" Cain, who finally gets nailed on the consensual affair:

Bachmann was never a serious contender, she just had her flash paper moment before confirming to the Republican electorate exactly what everyone else has known for years. She's not a reliable in the political sense. Or the honesty sense.

Cain was another flash, maybe on route to a Vice Presidential candidacy (take that, Barry Obama!) but that won't happen now. Oooh yeah.

And Perry is most interesting of them all, because he's a very successful politician in Texas, the second largest state in terms of both population and landmass, right near the end of the qualifying period he came riding high to save the day, and all leading up to this, earlier in the year, David Axelrod and the Obama Campaign was always very excited whenever anyone mentioned Perry, then not on the heavy radar, as a possible candidate.

It clear that the Obama Campaign was relishing the idea of running against Rick Perry. And maybe they knew something that wasn't general knowledge, like how much Rove and the Bush people hate Perry going back to when he was Lt. Governor under W. Because his implosion as like a series of Japanese nukes going off one after each other, the last revealingly stupid moment just getting to the dying embers before he did something else even more obviously not ready for any 3:00am calls.

We'll miss these clowns when they're gone for the race, but they'll be sure to pop back up again at the GOP Convention next summer, and if Newt does indeed win, or Ron Paul (which would be the smartest Republican choice, the apotheosis of Ayn Randianist), they'll get Administration positions. I always thought Herman Cain was running for Secretary of Commerce, anyway.

Newt will be funny in a different way -- he's got such a sure sense of self, he can instantly rationalize his way out of any of his shenanigans. I think Newt vs. President Barack would be a classic -- Newt as replay/last gasp of the 1990's vs. an Obama who looks all the more young and together because of the contrast. Newt shut down government and then failed to even make that work. Barack has been working his ass off to make government work, from healthcare to terror defense. His gotten a bill passed and taken out Bin Laden et al.

Could he possibly beat Newt by ten percentage points (55%/45%) or better? Could Newt make John McCain look like an Electoral College overachiever?

As for Mitt, don't worry about him:

As Mr. 1%, I now don't expect him to win the nomination -- unless he turns his trajectory around very, very quickly, and not just with the Bush wing of establishment old-school, but with the rank and file Republicans. Remember, if Mitt becomes President, the clock turns back a generation.

Then there's one other possibility. If the Tea Party is strong enough, and Newt manages to damage his electability profoundly (I say 70% chance) by the Convention, you could see a true political rarity, the brokered convention, most famously held by the 1924 Dems, torn apart by the rural/urban Prohibition conflict. In this case it's the Reagan deal with the Southern Religious Right, come home to roost in Tea Party garb, versus the money side, the hawks and the hardcore Libertarians. Aside from the hawks, the other two can get along on the Libertarian cry for smaller government.

Which is exactly what the Paulites a waiting to have happen.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

OWS Changes the Conversation

The payroll tax cut used to be a Republican idea, but now that President Obama is for it, they're against extending it. That is, until Occupy Wall Street made clear the division between the 1% and the 99%:

If Republicans block the measure, as expected, Democrats would paint them as the party of the rich.

Trying to get ahead of the game, McConnell proclaimed Republican support for the payroll tax cut extension and told reporters his party would soon propose its own ideas for covering the cost of the tax cut.

"The Democrats put them in a box," said Andrew Taylor, a North Carolina State University political science professor. "I think many Republicans realized this is a bad side of the argument to be on."

Thanks to the protesters, there's media buzz highlighting the GOP's behavior and allegiances. It's common knowledge now, nothing anyone can obfuscate with rhetoric. And you know #OWS matters when the new GOP frontrunner, Newt Gingrich, calls on President Obama to repudiate the movement and its message of wealth inequality.

As Robert Reich tells us, the Basic Bargain holding our society together and creating growth in the 20th Century has been torn apart by greed and must be restored:

For most of the last century, the basic bargain at the heart of the American economy was that employers paid their workers enough to buy what American employers were selling.

That basic bargain created a virtuous cycle of higher living standards, more jobs, and better wages.


The latest data on corporate profits and wages show we haven't learned the essential lesson of the two big economic crashes of the last 75 years: When the economy becomes too lopsided -- disproportionately benefiting corporate owners and top executives rather than average workers -- it tips over.

In other words, we're in trouble because the basic bargain has been broken.


Corporations don't need more money. They have so much money right now they don't even know what to do with all of it. They're even buying back their own shares of stock. This is a bonanza for CEOs whose pay is tied to stock prices and it increases the wealth of other shareholders. But it doesn't create a single new job and it doesn't raise the wages of a single employee.

Nor do the wealthiest Americans need more money. The top 1 percent is already taking in more than 20 percent of total income -- the highest since the 1920s.

American businesses, including small-business owners, have no incentive to create new jobs because consumers (whose spending accounts for about 70 percent of the American economy) aren't spending enough. Consumers' after-tax incomes dropped in the second and third quarters of the year, the first back-to-back drops since 2009.

The Dems are proposing to pay for the payroll tax cut with a surtax on millionaires -- affecting 0.2% of the U.S. population.

I hesitate to ask what 1%-favoring counterproposal GOP will come up with themselves.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bunch of Endings

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) announced his retirement from Congress today -- he won't be running again next year -- at age 71. This is a huge bummer legislatively, but hopefully he'll turn up on news commentary a lot more, especially as he promising not to become a lobbyist. Consistently the smartest and wittiest guy in the House, Frank was no different today:
[Barney Frank] on the House under Republican rule: “It consists half of people who think like Michele Bachmann and half of people who are afraid of losing a primary to people who think like Michele Bachmann and that leaves very little room to work things out.”
Goodbye to Ken Russell, legendary British film director known for his combination or erudition and over-the-top visuals. Classics include: Women in Love (Oscar for star Glenda Jackson), Altered States, Tommy, The Lair of the White Worm, The Devils. Who can ever forget Tina Turner as the Acid Queen?

Goodbye to pre-IPO Facebook, between April and June 2012. The stock options will never mean the same thing again, the innocence lost, time for quarterly analyst calls and big annual reports. Guaranteed to have more investors than anyone imagines.

Goodbye to 2000's European prosperity. And maybe the Euro.

And, as much as we all hope not, we may be saying hello to a new global depression.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Art Pepper-Spray

Gotta love the new meme of the U.C. Davis pepper-spraying cop making his way through art history. There's this article, this blog post and then then Tumblr. My personal faves:


Modern art masterpieces, one and all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mitt the Liar

Is there anything that Mitt Romney will not lie about? Twice in one day, starting with his willful distortion in a campaign attack ad of a phrase spoken by President Barack Obama four years ago quoting John McCain's campaign, making it seem like Obama is speaking about his own current campaign:

Then, in tonight's GOP debate, he actually lied about his first name:

It's actually Willard.

Not to be trust. Certainly not with the Presidency of the United States of America.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Saul Bass

The Title Design of Saul Bass from Ian Albinson on Vimeo.

Evidently in honor of a new book coming out about the work of Main Titles designer extraordinaire, Saul Bass.

What's striking is how modern his work seems -- still. With most of his work created pre-CGI, it's shocking how visionary and vivid so much of it is. Vertigo, of course, is a favorite, along with Psycho which I recently saw in the theater again -- the opening credits with the Bernard Herrmann music really set you on edge from the start, give the sense that something really twisted is already underway. And the work for Otto Preminger as well as Martin Scorsese is ingenious.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Flashpoint: UC Davis

Fascinating chain of events starting on Friday when a police officer blanketed a row of sitting protesters on the University of California Davis campus with military-grade pepper spray. This video has now been viewed over a million times -- the spraying is near the start:

It's not quite Kent State -- no students were shot to death -- but appalling in its own right. These were peaceful protesters, not throwing rocks or threatening anybody, and the now famous Officer John Pike chose to douse them like roaches. No doubt the students who endured this silently are heroes to their classmates now.

Even move compelling is this video from later the next night, when the Chancellor who is responsible for putting the police on this, Linda Katehi, does what is essentially a perp walk past silent students. She had been in the administrative building for a meeting, this after various faculty called for her resignation, and evidently claimed the students outside were preventing her from leaving. In response, the organizers promised her safe passage and, as you can see in this video, called upon the protesting students for peace:

The walk of shame. Katehi has put out a statement today that's rather different from the day before, acknowledging what she's learned of the atrocious police action and promising some sort of change.

I wonder if she'll be able to keep her job, but it will only be by showing total growth and bending to the will of the people. If so, I believe she may become a model for others.

If not, she stands condemned with the 1% and their enablers.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happy Two Month Anniversary

At two months in, Occupy Wall Street is now occupying the world, especially today, after being kicked out of Zuccotti Park but taking over NYC and parts of other cities as well. Some of the highlights include:
And, best of all perhaps, now to morph the movement into political demands - what Jesse LaGreca calls PHASE 2:

It is time to TAX THE RICH

It is time to END THE WARS

It is time to restore Glass-Steagal

It is time to repeal Citizens United

It is time to get the money OUT OF POLITICS

It is time to invest in infrastructure and education

It is time to STOP busting labor unions, whether private or public

It is time to defend Medicare and Social Security tooth and nail from phony reforms or baloney cuts

It is time to STOP the spending cuts and start investing in America, and if we have to raise taxes on the rich and corporations in order to force them to invest in America, then so be it.

It is time to make higher education affordable, to offer students debt relief, and to provide funding for education, and stop blaming honest teachers and educators and for the failures of an underfunded system.

It is time to STOP the racist and discriminatory practice of "Stop and Frisk" and other tactics of racial profiling

It is time for civil rights for ALL, and that means equal rights for LGBT Americans to serve our military and marry whom ever they will

It is time for ACCOUNTABILITY for the men who lied us into war and crashed our economy

It is time for immigration reform that does not punish workers, but provides a clear pathway to citizenship for everyone

It is time for investigations that lead to prosecutions on Wall Street in response to the crimes that have been committed in the last decade.

It is time for a serious discussion about the Federal Reserve and it's role in this economic disaster

It is time for universal health care that everyone can afford. It is time to talk about Single Payer Health Care.

It is time for alternative green energy instead of Oil and Coal.

It is time to protect our civil liberties and our constitution.

It is time for a discussion about free trade and how it has undermined the working class while enriching only the wealthiest among us.

It is time to end corporate personhood.

I'd say Mayor Bloomberg did the movement a favor. Time to move on from tents -- by moving it all on up to the legislative bodies.