Archive for August, 2007

Superbad
August 19, 2007

Perhaps the best teen sex comedy ever? Admittedly the competition isn’t too fierce in that category, to the extent that there actually any good teen sex comedies. I guess Heathers counts as a teen sex comedy. And while it’s good, Superbad is better.

In a summer with movies like Sicko, The Simpsons Movie and The Bourne Ultimatum, for some reason this is the only movie that I wanted to see badly enough to spend money on a ticket. Certainly that has something to do with Apatow and Rogen being comedic geniuses. But this is also the perfect movie for where I am in my life right now – the whole thing is about leaving high school and moving on to college. With a little over a week left before I pack my bags and head for the city it practically seemed like a requirement that I go watch the movie before that happened.

It was a little bit of a weird viewing experience. Apparently Rogen and friend Evan Goldberg started writing this script as teenagers themselves, and it shows. These guys know what high school is like and the version of high school portrayed in the movie isn’t even a little bit Hollywood. And the characters in the movie are people I know – watching it was kind of like having a good friend come up to me, saying, “Dude, you will not fuckin’ believe the night I had last night,” and then spend 90 minutes telling me a hilarious, unbelievable yet strangely plausible story.

The row in front of me was filled with collar-popping designer-clad fratboys. I wondered what the hell they were doing there in the theater. They might have found the movie funny, but there was no way they could have gotten the point of it, because after all, this isn’t a movie for them. This isn’t Van Wilder.

It’s almost too bad that this movie is destined to be a cult classic. You’re going to spend the next couple of years hearing it quoted into oblivion until all of the jokes lose their satirical bite and the movie becomes less bittersweet and more a comfortable, predictable kind of funny. If we’re very lucky, the name “McLovin” won’t become as ubiquitous and painfully overplayed as “I believe you have my stapler,” or a Napoleon Dynamite-esque, “Gosh!”

Politics is boring
August 17, 2007

Our national discourse has hit a pretty astonishing high in terms of vapidity, and one of my worst fears is that it hasn’t even peaked yet. But sometimes I’ll read some so vapid, so unbelievably astonishingly stupid about the presidential race that it will catch me completely off guard.

“Can you imagine what debates are going to be like with great big Andrew Jackson-looking Fred and Hillary on her stubby little legs, stamping her feet?” Thompson, if elected, would be the tallest president ever. Republicans are not just looking for the usual John Wayne-type signifiers as they go about selecting a candidate, but thinking about who can best loom over Hillary Clinton and make her look like a shrill, small, silly little woman. Thompson’s booming voice will make her “sound like Madame Defarge.”

Does the guy who said this, apparently a “leading figure in the Iowa Republican Party” even give a shit about policy? Is there any ideological or philosophical reason why he’s a Republican? Does he have the slightest interest in actual politics?

I’ve learned to expect this sort of thing from stupid people in general, but when the stupid person in question is a professional political operative (which the description seems to indicate) this sort of thing becomes absolutely shocking.


August 15, 2007

ter·ror·ism (t?r’?-r?z’?m) pronunciation
n.

The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

One particularly aggravating rhetorical device that I’ve seen people on both the left and the right use is the tendency to use the label “terrorist” totally irresponsibly. Anyone who has any familiarity with this blog knows how I feel about our president, but calling him a terrorist is not only stupid and inaccurate, it’s also totally unproductive.

The same goes for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

The United States is declaring a branch of another country’s military to be terrorists. Which, I suppose, would shoehorn an attack on them into the AUMF (not that the “administration” ever believed such authorization was necessary).

And, of course, it opens up all sorts of possibilities for detention of Revolutionary Guard personnel (or anyone “suspected” of the same) captured, well, anywhere in the world, presumably. The United States might be expected, under this provision, to suspend the application of the Geneva Conventions to the actual, uniformed soldiery of Iran. Granted, the Revolutionary Guard is a bit of an odd duck, at least in western terms, but this looks like trouble to me.

I’d be more concerned about this if any of the administration’s previous steps towards an apparent conflict with Iran had turned into anything. But Ahmadinejad isn’t an idiot, and he doesn’t seem interested engaging the US no matter how much he is provoked. The White House is the only one who wants this war and I think at least some of the people close to Bush realize that any kind of unilateral, unauthorized strike on Iran ordered by the executive branch would be the end of his already moribund presidency.

Or at least I hope so.

Multiculturalism and the Department of Education vs. Some Lunatics on Podiums
August 15, 2007

Today, TPMtv showcased the first of what I hope will be many home-made videos documenting what’s happening on the ground in election ’08. This one, from TPM fan Greg Hauenstein, took a look at what the GOP candidates were actually saying to their base at the Ames straw poll when they figured the media wasn’t looking. You non-Facebook people can see the video below. And below that are my favorite moments what, unsurprisingly, was a day of batshit-insane speeches.

1:33: Huckabee breaks out the first embarrassing analogy. Republicans fail in elections when they have the leaves, but not the fruit. The Republican fruit.

1:43: Ron Paul is known by some as “the sane one” because he’s the only anti-war candidate in the GOP primary. However, it’s worth noting that he’s still crazy in his own special way. Example: he wants to get rid of the Department of Education and the Department of Energy. Public education is a scourge on this nation!

2:04: Much like Martin Luther King, Brownback has a dream. His dream, however, seems to be more about personal gratification and the acquisition of power than the other one. Who’s going to be the next candidate to tragically misappropriate a famous expression used by a civil rights leader? Is Tancredo about to go all Malcolm X on us?

2:28: Huckabee’s graduated past stupid metaphors to stupid mixed metaphors. That’s because he knows that the voters in Ames understand they’re buying the cereal, not just the box. And hopefully it’s fruity cereal. Instead of leafy cereal. Perhaps he’s saying that Republicans like Fruit Loops?

3:25: Tancredo warns that America is under attack from multiculturalism. That’s so ridiculous and borderline racist that it leaves me completely snarkless. Insert your own snide comment here.


August 14, 2007

I was actually going to write about this anyway, but Josh Marshall’s post provides an excellent lead-in.

Is it me or is the most remarkable thing about Karl Rove’s resignation that it seems almost like a non-event? I had the feeling as the day wore on that all of us in the news and commentary business were trying to make it a big event. But somehow it just wasn’t there.

In part this must be because Rove’s departure seems unequal to his billing. It fits no one’s expectations. He’s certainly not leaving in triumph. And, for the moment, not in handcuffs either.

I think the reason is a little simpler than that. If Rove had ducked out when the administration was at the peak of its popularity (or at the very least, not at rock bottom yet), it would have been huge news because they would have lost their political brain. But the administration is already more or less politically crippled, so it doesn’t matter anymore whether or not they’ve got any good political architects left.

Rove is resigning
August 13, 2007

And thus goes the political strength of the White House. Or not.

Exactly how much influence Rove had inside the White House when not campaigning, and how much damage he alone did will probably never be fully revealed. But that’s not really the question on everyone’s minds right now – there’s plenty of time for that when he actually leaves later this month. What everyone’s wondering right now, is : why did he leave?

I’ve heard two possible reasons. Of the two, I’d wager that the more likely one is:

A desire to avoid congressional oversight
There have been a lot of scandals in the Bush White House, but the politicization of the Justice Department in particular seems to have become one of the most damaging scandals they’ve been through, if only because of the new Congress’s willingness to investigate. If Rove was involved in this, it makes sense he would want to duck out before his refusal of a subpoena got him a contempt of Congress citation.

A new, scary direction for the Republican Party
The GOP has been imploding politically for a while now and it’s plausible that Rove could want to duck out instead of being stuck as one of the chief political architects of a now seriously deformed party structure. I’m a little skeptical of Marcy Wheeler’s “the Republican Party is about to go very overtly racist” explanation, but the rest of her post is worth reading.


August 12, 2007

Well the results of the Iowa Straw Poll are in. I don’t think anyone’s by Romney’s narrow victory (both the “victory” and the “narrow” parts). Note also that Brownback is in third and Giuliani is all the way down in eighth. I’ve said before that Brownback’s been dangerously underestimated, and this signals that he may have a better shot than anyone expected in the early primaries.

Meanwhile, John McCain scores a major coup by coming in only second to last, ahead of a man who nobody has ever heard of, ever.

Pretty much the scariest baby ever
August 10, 2007

I’m sure that this post from Amanda Marcotte says something very interesting about marketing fast food to children, but it’s hard for me to address the thesis of the post because the picture right above it is so goddamn terrifying.

Seriously. I try to read this thing and eventually I’m watching this grotesque attack on nature warily as if the moment I look away it will strike.

And it doesn’t matter where I go in my room, either. Its eyes follow me.

When did McDonald’s go from pretending to care about you and your family to reveling gleefully in its own malevolence because they know millions of people will eat that shit no matter what they do?

More Clinton weirdness
August 8, 2007

Following up on yesterday’s bizarre poll, here’s another one that doesn’t make much sense to me:

Do you seriously believe that Senator Hillary Clinton would be influenced by a lobbyist?

Yes 48
No 24

(Among Democrats)

Yes 30
No 35

Do you seriously believe that most politicians would be influenced by a lobbyist?

Yes 63
No 15

(Among Democrats)

Yes 55
No 17

And since yesterday’s poll brings up Clinton and foreign policy again, Matt Stoller has a worrisome highlight from yesterday’s debate:

Cognitive Dissonance
August 8, 2007

I’m having a hard time reconciling this:

William Kristol has finally made his endorsement, declaring Clinton to be the “responsible” Democratic candidate.

With this:

The new USA Today/Gallup poll contains an interesting set of numbers that suggest Hillary’s winning the debate with Obama over foreign policy — at least, if you define winning as being seen as the better choice to do certain aspects of the job of “commander in chief.”

Perhaps the key words there are “Dems and Dem-leaning independents.” Not primary voters per se, but just a large group of people who aren’t necessarily well-informed about politics. Still, this is a little but disturbing.

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