Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Monday, February 27, 2012
Sunday, February 26, 2012
- Most importantly, she played a significant historical figure convincingly and aged tremendously in the role as well. That's pretty much a recipe for an acting Oscar.
- Second, the 17 nominations have been touted heavily this year, pushed by producer Harvey Weinstein and his p.r. machine, so it's a bit of a career award as well.
- Third, The Help has taken some hits from the left tarred as being too Civil Right-light. I think this is unfair considering how Hollywood traditionally makes serious "issue" movies, but it could not have helped.
- Fourth, some thought Viola Davis' role was not large enough to be Best Female Actor and more of a supporting role, although that view is really only supported by the trailer for the movie, which over-emphasizes Emma Stone's crusading white girl character, while the movie is clearly Viola's story in the main plot, giving her the V.O., the beginning and the end.
- Finally, the Academy is generally old, male and white...and Meryl is a lot closer to their demographic than Viola. One can only hope her .
- The Tree of Life
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney may have had the best performance on the debate stage in Arizona last night, but Thursday morning wasn't as great -- Romney dropped to 39 percent in Rasmussen's nightly tracking poll of a potential matchup between him and President Obama nationally. Obama got 49 percent, giving him a ten point lead.How's that electability argument going, Willard?
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Financial reports filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission indicate that Romney's campaign spent $19 million in January -- nearly three times as much as it raised -- as the former Massachusetts governor defeated Newt Gingrich in New Hampshire, lost to him in South Carolina and then topped him in Florida.
Restore Our Future, meanwhile, raised $6.6 million and spent $13.5 million, mostly on ads attacking Gingrich that helped Romney win the Florida primary. By the end of January, Romney's campaign had $7.7 million on hand and the pro-Romney PAC had $16.3 million.
And it's not even close to General Election time yet. The Obama campaign must be loving this.
Why the need to spend so much? It's not the brilliant competitive field -- it's the candidate. Over the past few days this video, of Romney speaking at a campaign event in Michigan, has become the emblem of the flailing candidate, utterly adrift, unable to summon authenticity, speaking in what appears to be a panic:
The trees are the right height...not just the Great Lakes but the inland lakes...I love car, I love American cars...WTF, Willard?
If you want to do some local pandering, you need to be prepped with the names of local restaurants, local products, local anything specific. Normally there's front people to do this but the better candidates don't fake it, they actually know. The fact is, Romney hasn't lived in Michigan for more than half a century, but he's trying to rely on biography yet again to score points...total disconnect from any kind of reality -- or vision.
Look, at a human level, I might feel sorry for Mitt that he has to actually compete and could quite possibly still lose his so-called "home state" to Rick the Theocrat. But I just can't feel sorry for a candidate who has consistently lied through his teeth in smearing President Obama ever since his campaign began.
He's a wealthy man, so no pity there, and he's smart enough (on paper) that he should know better. He should have studied up on Presidential leadership, not rightwing talking points. He should have taken a chance by leading on issues his party might not be in sync with him on, and shown real intelligence and grit.
Instead, he reaps the whirlwind. Just keep spending, Mitt. Your combined $32.5 million spend in January did more to boost the economy than anything your GOP Congressional party-mates have done in four years.
- Compares Obama to Hitler
- Is against pre-natal testing because he says it encourages abortions
- Thinks birth control "harms women"
- His own spokesperson is mixing up Radical Environmentalism with Radical Islamicism in her attack on Obama
- He's questioning Obama's faith in saying essentially that we should have all laws by Santorum's approved interpretation of the Bible
Sunday, February 19, 2012
This past week the contestants sang 50's and 60's tunes in groups in Las Vegas and these were the four that stood out to me, with annotations on my emerging faves. By standing out, I mean that I've listened to these versions numerous times since Thursday night, like released music. Roughly in order of overall quality (IMHO), they are:
Sealed with a Kiss, with harmonies right out of The Mamas and the Papas, sounds like a professional recording act already:
Jen Hirsh is the one to watch for top four honors as the season progresses. She clearly has range and when she goes big, it's still in control, while hinting at awesomeness to come. Creighton Fraker is unusual and powerful in his own right.
I Only Have Eyes for You feels like a 1950's act come back to life. The early part of the song, their movements and the sway, it feels like water lapping the shore:
Neco Starr is perfect as Little Anthony and the unfortunately (and, I think, erroneously) cut Jairon Jackson is flawless and mellow in tone as well. But it's the other two guys that are breaking out bigtime.
Yep, Heejun Han could be the first Asian-American Idol, so strong is his tone and the crazy surprise of the polished voice that comes out of him, when he's very drily humorous in accented English offstage. And then there's Phil Phillips, who doesn't get very much solo time on this number but it's timed for maximum impact, as if a little of his personality-rich voice goes a very long way. He's the first one this season who's music I could see actually purchasing...like Haley last year.
I Really Doesn't Matter Anymore: Has anyone ever done a Buddy Holly song as a slow-but-hard-driving blues grinder before?
Crazy, unusual harmonies. Again, an African-American cut (in the end-of-episode paring down, not this clip) that feels unfair and unwise, as Candice Coleman does a great job. Deandre Brackensick has the sick high-end vocals that impress as well.
But it's Jessica Sanchez who just made a name for herself this week. Did anyone expect a Jennifer Hudson-sized voice to come out of this girl? With such soul. At age 16. A star may have just been born.
The Night Has a Thousand Eyes: This was an early performance for this batch and the only one I saw that received a standing ovation from the judges. Whether that was due to the early spot or the high-quality revision of this '50's classic into a jazzy 1970's SoCal groove, you be the judge.
Eban Franckewitz is Idol's shot at a Justin Bieber but he doesn't seem to have the full control yet and could use a year or two. Chances are he'll be in the top 12 anyway. Haley Johnson is strong as well but, to my mind, the other two are the standouts.
Reed Grimm is this year's Casey Abrams, extremely musical, improving any group he's in, a good part showman, quite an instrument. He's got a signature bent-leg dance posture and even did one his Hollywood Week solo performance behind a drum kit. Could be the guy to watch for a top four spot.
Then there's Elise Testone. I'm not sure if her breaks on the top notes are planned or not, but she's got a crazy amount of soul and guts, and I love her style of singing. Some funk to come, perhaps? Some hard blues? A Janis number should she make the Top 12?
There you go: Jen, Creighton, Phil, Heejun, Jessica, Reed and Elise are my faves, as in I'm very interested to see what they do next. Others may emerge -- I want to hear more from Hallie Day, in particular. In early seasons sometimes it was a question of whether the top contestants could even stay on pitch, so that picking the final few was easy. Since last season it's felt like pitch talent isn't a problem, so what's going to make the difference is something distinctive in the voice, the musical choices and the personality that comes through.
It's way too early but let me make my prediction:
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Three Democrats walked out of a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on religious liberty and the birth control rule on Thursday to protest Chairman Darrell Issa's (R-Calif.) refusal to allow a progressive woman to testify in favor of the Obama administration's contraception rule. The morning panel at the hearing consisted exclusively of men from conservative religious organizations.
"What I want to know is, where are the women?" Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) asked Issa before walking out of the hearing after the first panel. "I look at this panel, and I don't see one single individual representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventative health care services, including family planning. Where are the women?"
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.
Monday, February 13, 2012
- President Obama now leads all GOP challengers in national polling. And his approval rating is now official "above water" -- higher approval than disapproval percentages.
- The GOP Congress just folded without a fight on the Payroll Tax Cut Extension, and isn't even trying to balance it - going for more deficit rather than raising taxes on their precious rich.
- Mitt Romney can no longer claim electability as his Primary advantage -- Independents have gone upside-down and no longer favor him over President Obama.
- Rick Santorum now leads Romney nationally in GOP Presidential Primary polling and, even worse for Mitt, his firewall state of Michigan is now firmly for Santorum.
- Mitt can only win, it seems, by buying or stealing, and in Maine his win may be a loss to Ron Paul.
- Just as a Google search for "Santorum" yields and embarrassing definition, a search for "Romney" now means "to defecate in terror." Sounds about right.
Wednesday, February 08, 2012
I'm far from a Rick Santorum fan, and he's hypocritical in a number of areas including lobbying, but he sure comes across as a lot more sincere (in his reactionary beliefs) than Romney. It's weird to hear Santorum speak after Romney -- almost (gulp) like a breath of fresh air. No kidding.
How bad is it for Romney? Per Frank Rich:
But a Washington Post/ABC News poll released just before these contests found that by a margin of more than two to one, Americans say that the more they learn about Mitt, the less they like him, and last night added further proof. The standard interpretation of Mitt's triple defeat on cable news (regardless of network) is that "conservatives rejected Romney." But who exactly isn't rejecting Romney? He couldn't even fill up his headquarters when speaking last night in Denver. And then he gave a talk that reminded anyone who was watching how hollow and fake a candidate he is.Maybe in another age a phony could go further. Not right now. And it's looking like no fun being that guy:
It's the authentic guy in the White House who's having fun:
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Sunday, February 05, 2012
The ads run during the Super Bowl all seemed short on imagination, but one stands out. Chrysler and Clint Eastwood came together for something that feels rather like an Obama campaign ad, especially in light of Mitt Romney having written an editorial at the time of the auto bailout that advocated for letting the American car companies die:
Clint's known to be an Republican but one who could care less about abortion or gay marriage issues, somewhere between Eisenhower and Libertarian. Whether he'd ever vote for Obama, I wouldn't wager, but nonetheless this seems to dovetail with the campaign.
As for Mitt, I've thought for a long time that the best GOP move would be to nominate Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and corner the Libertarian vote. I don't expect that to happen, but Rep. Paul is gathering forces this run that will surely be handed to his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in four years. This expectation is why I do not believe Rep. Paul will mount a Third Party Presidential bid this year. With the spread of Rep. Paul's message between now and then, and his son's relative youth, I expect Sen. Paul will be a bigger threat to win the nomination in 2016 than his father is now.
The other choice for the GOP would be to choose an actual hardline Conservative candidate, i.e. former Senator Rick Santorum. He's for immediate war with Iran, he's against contraception let alone a woman's choice for her own body, what's not there for a staunch rightwing Republican to like? That way, if a "true" Conservative loses, the GOP would have some soul-searching to do and (at least if they're rational) come back more "moderate" in 2016, even if only in messaging.
Instead it appears they're getting Willard Mitt Romney, who's talking like a full-blown reactionary but is suspected of Liberalism. So if/when Mitt loses to President Obama, the hardcore Republicans will just say they should have gone even more Conservative, no soul-searching required.
If I were a Republican operative in the current situation I'd say, fine, let it be Mitt, whatever, as long as he's stays rich and writing checks. Mitt has enough money to fund zillions of dollars worth of consultants, ad agencies, speechwriters, campaign staff, etc. He's a 2012 gravy train for professional GOoPers. Take his money -- I'm sure it's as green as Teresa Heinz-Kerry's in 2008 -- and get paid for the cycle. Less likely that'll happen with Newty.
As for Obama's election strategy, to circle back to Clint and Chrysler:
US Vice President Joe Biden spelled out a blunt reelection message for his boss President Barack Obama on Tuesday -- "Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive."Simple, direct, and even a little more imaginative than 9/10ths of this year's Super Bowl ads.
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
“I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there,” Romney told CNN. “If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90 percent, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”
Host Soledad O’Brien pointed out that the very poor are probably struggling too.
“The challenge right now — we will hear from the Democrat party the plight of the poor,” Romney responded, after repeating that he would fix any holes in the safety net. “And there’s no question it’s not good being poor and we have a safety net to help those that are very poor . . . My focus is on middle income Americans ... we have a very ample safety net and we can talk about whether it needs to be strengthened or whether there are holes in it. but we have food stamps, we have Medicaid, we have housing vouchers, we have programs to help the poor.”
And, finally, did he just admit that the Democratic Party actually does care about the poor, f'real?