Will be leaving the country for vacation today. Guess where we’re going?
A small little article in Time points out the irony of Republicans using the Van Halen song “Right Now” at rallies. That song is from Van Halen’s 9th studio album ” “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.” I bolded the first letter of each word because I’m preeeeeety sure that’s not a coincidence. George W. Bush, John McCain, Sarah Palin and Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003 used the song frequently at rallies. So it’s funny how these candidates are not in on the joke.
Jeff and I don’t agree on everything. We don’t share equal concern or over issues. When it comes to who we read we differ sharply. But there’s one person we both jointly roll our eyes at her very mention, and that’s Peggy Noonan.
Former speech writer for President Reagan, current columnist for the Wall Street Journal. She comes off as movement-conservative, who totes the party line and worship’s Ronald Reagan’s feet. Today she writes that President Obama is likely to lose next year. She lists the reasons why…then contradicts herself toward the end by saying he’ll probably win because there’s no serious GOP candidate. That’s about the equivalent of me saying, “I think A-Rod is going to strike out at this next at bat. Unless the pitcher’s curve ball doesn’t break, then he’ll hit a home run.”
Sure, I get where she’s coming from. By the numbers of right track/wrong track polling, and his slipping approval rating among key voting blocks, Obama could be vulnerable. And by this same logic, so was Bush in ’04. But he won, for several reasons being that he ran against John Kerry. Not saying Howard Dean, John Edwards or Wesley Clark would have carried the day, I’m saying that the Democratic party didn’t have a strong message that election cycle. The GOP doesn’t this year either.
The only consistent thing the GOP talks about is whether our President is a citizen or not.
Krugman thinks Obama won this first round of budget talks by essentially calling Ryan’s bluff.
The president’s proposal isn’t perfect, by a long shot. My own view is that while the spending controls on Medicare he proposed are exactly the right way to go, he’s probably expecting too much payoff in the near term. And over the longer run, I believe that we’ll need modestly higher taxes on the middle class as well as the rich to pay for the kind of society we want. But the vision was right, and the numbers were far more credible than anything in the Ryan sales pitch.
What happened over the past two weeks, then, was more about staking out positions than about enacting policies. On one side you had a combination of mean-spiritedness and fantasy; on the other you had a reaffirmation of American compassion and community, coupled with fairly realistic numbers. Which would you choose?
There will be more talks, and dramatic up or down votes next year. Krugman, who like many liberal writers never seem satisfied with anything, I do think is on the money. Obama’s ideas are more mainstream and Ryan’s ideas will be yelled about, but never really acted on.
“Escapism” – as defined as a form of mental diversion by means of entertainment or recreation to escape from an unpleasant or banal reality – might be in order for many this weekend, especially to those who want to divert attention from the consistently glum headlines of a government shutdown or a potential Donald Trump candidacy.
May I recommend HANNA, from Focus Features, a new action-thriller starring Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) as a young girl trained by her father (Eric Bana) to be a would-be assassin and must seek out the CIA agent on their trail (Cate Blanchett). It’s fun, it’s slick, it’s got lots of bang-up action (with a PG-13 rating, it’s not brutal) and if you can buy the concept of this trim young lady trading body blows with bad guys, it’s damn well worth checking out. It’s the most fun I’ve had in a theater in some time.
Blanchett is a hoot, as is Tom Hollander who plays a whistling, menacing scumbag hired to take out Hanna and her Dad. Though what sets this film a part is the techno score by The Chemical Brothers that dominates each action sequence (a sample, above)
True, a shutdown would tangibly effect millions’ of citizens’ lives almost instantly. Tax Rebates, for example, won’t be mailed, forms and loans can’t be processed, etc.
But according to Nate Silver the public is not following the potential shutdown situation as closely as other big news stories this year (granted from Tuscon to Egypt to Libya to Japan, we’ve had a few big ones). Big politicos are, obviously, but it looks like the government will have to shutdown for the winds of attention to reach hurricane velocity.
Duets, the Gwyneth Paltrow karaoke movie from 2000, is not good. I rented it recently on a lark. It’s essentially a multi-storied road trip movie about five different duets on their way to a karaoke championship.
It’s a very strange film that doesn’t work. Pure and simple. However, the most watchable sections are with the great Paul Giamatti and Andre Braugher. Here’s a taste.
First, some figures:
The Hangover – Most watched movie ever on V.O.D.
Domestic B.O. Gross – $277M
Worldwide B.O. Gross – $467M
Highest grossing R-Rated comedy.
Third highest grossing R-Rated film ever (behind The Passion and The Matrix Reloaded)
So…I’m betting the sequel will do pretty well. As big? Potentially. Part of the charm of the first original was while it wasn’t technically grounded (Mike Tyson and tigers and whatnot) it never veered too much into crazy territory. Also, millions of people every year travel to Las Vegas for a 48 hour window period and lots of shenanigans ensue. Many adults have woken up and tried to piece a crazy night together. Many of us have that tangible connection. The Hangover part II seems a bit different. Not that many individuals have traveled to Thailand and woken up in a slum house. However, it’s the same actors, same type of humor and same concept. Not sure if Mike Tyson is back. But Ken Jeong and two already publicized cameos are official. I’ll see it opening weekend.
Paul Ryan, R-Wis, offered the unofficial GOP budget plans for the next decade which would include huge spending cuts and a complete restructuring of Medicare and Medicaid. Some are calling it brave, some calling it political suicide. Either way you see it, the ball is in President Obama’s court on the next steps.
Three important things to note about Ryan’s Proposal: 1) no big tax increases for rich folks; 2) If you’re currently 55 and over there will be no significant changes; 3) It sidesteps Social Security. Meaning: We’ll lump in “fixing Medicare” as part of “the problems with Obamacare” argument.
As you’d expect there’s a wide variety of reactions to this.
Andrew Sullivan appreciates the “honesty” of this package, but points out the complete BS that the GOP is saying we all must sacrifice, except the rich.
David Brooks thinks its the right way to go, and labels this juncture Obama’s “Moment of Truth”.
Josh Marshall of TPM, says this is the route to getting rid of Medicare. Slowly, but surely. And that’s a bad thing.
Ezra Klein agrees with Marshall, this is going to be a big cut. And public insurance is less expensive than private, and so essentially this is a big spending increase to the average American consumer.
No Debate – The GOP 2012 lineup looks pretty sad.
No Debate – As in, the GOP debate that was supposed to take place on May 2nd at the Reagan Presidential Library, has been delayed to September. No mystery why: Only Tim Pawlenty has announced he’d attend. And to make matters more interesting, Bill Clinton said today that Mike Huckabee is the GOP’s best candidate. Not sure why exactly – maybe Clinton’s being honest, or maybe he thinks Obama has a better shot against Huckabee so he praised him.
What’s up with this? Unemployment just below 9%, two wars. The government persistently on the verge of being shutdown. Ross Douthat, of NY Times, has a column out today mulling the issue. His argument is that the GOP should nominate a dark-horse, not well-known candidate (like Paul Ryan or Mitch Daniels) not a familiar face.
Fifteen years ago, in the wake of the 1994 Republican revolution, conservatives were in a similar position — fresh from a midterm victory but politically overextended, struggling to persuade a wary public to embrace limited government in practice as well as theory.
Out of a mediocre primary field, they ended up with Bob Dole as their standard-bearer. Their cause did not soon recover.
One is loud and slick, the other is sweet and good-hearted. Frankly, they’re both pretty lame. I give the President’s a “slightly” better, it focuses on citizens and not himself which is smart. Pawlenty’s ad “A New Direction” is just ridiculous – though, I did like the clip of very liberal Paul Krugman for the soundbite “Washington has given up.” Sneaky way to lure in independent voters who know doubt know of and read Krugman. On the contrary, like I just wrote, these ads are ridiculously dramatic. Even for a politician. I doubt any “up for grabs” voters would buy it.
This is my 10th presidential campaign, Lord help me. I have never before seen such a bunch of vile, desperate-to-please, shameless, embarrassing losers coagulated under a single party’s banner. They are the most compelling argument I’ve seen against American exceptionalism. Even Tim Pawlenty, a decent governor, can’t let a day go by without some bilious nonsense escaping his lizard brain.
PS – At the end of the post Klein encourages Mitch Daniels and Jeb Bush to run.
If I had a boat, I’d go out on the ocean
And if I had a pony, I’d ride him on my boat
And we could all together go out on the ocean
Just me upon my pony on my boat…
Country music doesn’t get much better. This is Lyle Lovett’s “If I Had a Boat”, his first big single in 1988 off his album Pontiac.
Bill O’Reilly criticized Sarah Palin last night, Politico has got the story.
This is pretty startling considering the Fox News Channel. In fairness, O’Reilly was in the middle of criticizing the White House when he included Palin as similarly ducking the tough questions and pointed out her increasing unfavorable numbers among Republicans and Independents.
We can assume this is writing on the wall that the Roger Ailes and his minions are not going to tout Palin 2012, unless she does some remarkable self-image improvement.
It was necessary as we engaged the country with military force nine days ago. The President stated the why: this is an intervention needed to avert a humanitarian crisis (not to repeat what happened in Rwanada 15 years ago), it will be limited and multinational to avoid repeating the mistake of Iraq.
But the criticism, similar to what many presidents have received in the past, was the lack of specificity on what looks like victory and when will the conflict end. But he spoke unequivocally, unemotionally and looked forceful.
In short: He looked tough, he’ll get criticized by the right for being too vague, and unfortunately the President is in a “no win” politically here even though he’s acting like a commander in chief. I’m sure he’s praying deep down that this situation is solved. Fast.
In the last year I’ve been planning a transition in my personal life from a career in the film industry to one of public service. While I don’t have a super-specific idea of where my new career will end up (nonprofits versus working in the government, for example), next Fall I’ll be enrolled in Master’s in Public Affairs program that will help set my course. One of the many reasons I decided to take this trek is pure and simple inspiration. Few people have inspired me as much as Elizabeth Warren. She’s no phony. She’s the real deal. A Harvard law professor and bankruptcy expert, she is currently in charge of setting up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Warren over the past few years has become the most credible person in the arena of financial protection. Paul Krugman dedicated his entire column today to her:
More than a decade ago, when politicians of both parties were celebrating the wonders of modern banking and widening access to consumer credit, Warren was already warning that high debt levels could bring widespread financial disaster in the face of an economic downturn…
The fact that she’s so well qualified is, of course, the reason she’s being attacked so fiercely. Nothing could be worse, from the point of view of bankers and the politicians who serve them, than to have consumers protected by someone who knows what she’s doing and has the personal credibility to stand up to pressure.
Warren is being attacked in a recent House Finance Committee meeting for overstepping her role by advising state governments and attorney generals. The GOP is making a big overreach on this, Krugman (and I’m in agreement) feels the white house should use this is as an example that the GOP cares little about finance reform.
But it strikes me as a mess, poorly conceived, ginned up by folks with their own weird agendas, carried out at a point well past the point that it was going to accomplish anything. Just all really bad.
Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo has a long take on our involvement in Libya right now. I’m hard pressed to disagree on any of his points. This seems very spur of the moment, and could lead to years of involvement and clean up. The President has promised no ground troops, I’m still very skeptical of the easy questions such as “How much involvement?”, “How many weapons will we send?” and “Why is this in our interest?”.
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