Archive for December, 2010

35 ideas Obama might take to win re-election

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

#1: Triangulate.

#2: Rectangulate.

#3: Hexangonulate

#4: Rename yourself “Bill Clinton”

#5: Study the presidencies of Clinton, Reagan, Eisenhower, and Truman.  Do what they did at this point in their presidencies.

#6: Study the presidencies of Carter and the first Bush.  Don’t do what they did at this point in their presidencies.

#7: Do what Carter and Bush did, but in a more politically astute manner.

#8: Change your party affiliation to Republican in time to get the Republican nomination, but without enough time for the Demcorats to nominate anyone else.

#9: Announce that you will not seek, or accept, another term in office.  The people will reward this refreshing political selflessness by voting you in for a second term.

#10:  Announce that no matter what happens, you will not go for a third term.

#11:  Go Left

#12: Go Right.

#13: Go Left for the voters who want you to go left, and Right for the voters who want you go Right.

#14:  Counterintuitively, Go Right for the voters who want you to go Left, and Left for the voters who want you to go Right.  The voters will reward you for your political straight-forwardness.

#15:  Give the Greatest and Most Memorable State of the Union Address in all of Recorded Human History.

#16:  Announce that as budget cutting gesture, you will not be speaking the State of the Union Address this year.  Evoke Thomas Jefferson’s comments about delivering a State of the Union speech being too “magisterial”.  This should win you the support of conservatives such as Alan Keyes.

#17:  Subvert the idea of Campaigining in Poetry and Governing Prose by Campaigning in prose and Governing in Poetry.

#18:  Rename yourself “Hillary Clinton”.

#19:  Convince the Republicans to nominate John McCain again.

#20:  Convince the Republicans to nominate Bob Dole again.

#21:  Open the Files on the Aliens and you will gain the possibly pivotal UFOlogist Voting bloc.  Except for those that believe you’re with-holding stuff.

#22:  Open the files on 9/11 and you will gain the 9/11 Truther Voting bloc.

#23:  Announce that from now on, every choice you make will come from what polls above 50 percent.  This will convince the public that you have the pulse on the public.

#24:  Announce that from now on, every choice you make will come from what polls below 50 percent.  This will comfort the self-doubting public.

#25:  Capture Osama Bin Laden.  This may alienate some of the 9/11 Truther bloc you gained with #22 as they view it as a public stunt, but it will gain you everyone else.

#26:  Line up a series of October Surprises.  Each more surprising than the last.

#27:  Announce that the remainder of your presidency will be devoted exclusively to a War on Bed-bugs.

#28:  Send a Man to Mars.  Preferably your predecessor.

#29:  Pull a Nixon and announce that Peace is at Hand.

#30:  A massive chain email campaign to tell everyone what a great guy you are.

#31:  Get a Graphic designer to produce a new two-colored poster.  Also a new young attractive model to prounce around in a half shirt and shorts with your image on it.  Gotta go back to the well of what worked in 2008!

#32:  Read Mark Halperin’s 2007 book “The Way to Win”.  Though its advice was opposite of the way to win in 2008, it may have come around the bend to what will win in 2012.

#33:  Make John Boehner cry.

#34:  Icosagonulate

#35:  Megagonulate


Friday, December 17th, 2010

Santa vs Satan. 

It’s the kind of movie you see on Telemundo at the age of 15, and puzzle over, watching with rapt attention and fascination.  A real classic of Mexican film making.
Then later see references here and there and feel like you’re in on some joke.
Surely there are movies of quality, but given one’s dunthers, I’d end up watching this one.

Looking it up just now, I see that MST3K ran with it.  I don’t know why I’m disappointed to learn that — I’d rather it float around Telemundo, in its original language, without the silhouette wise-cracking distraction.  I didn’t take any narcotics, but I imagine those would be overkill.

It’s playing at the Hollywood Theater.

SANTA VS. SATAN—Santa ain’t right in the 1959 Mexican trash film Santa vs. Satan. He lives in space, battles Lucifer, and his reindeer laugh maniacally. Also he might be a friend to the great wizard Merlin. Join Filmusik as they provide the live score, sound effects, and voice cast for this skewed Christmas flick. I’m going to root for Satan. CF
Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy, 10 pm, $10-12


It may be that if you threw me in the year 1959 and showed it as some straight-forward flick to observe, I wouldn’t be particularly interested.  Context makes the track flick.  Kitsch!

Something like watching this:

I am told that GSN is running the late night black-and-white episodes of What’s My Line? and I’ve Got A Secret for two weeks…so enjoy ’em while you can.

The show is entirely uninteresting outside an anthropological context.  There is an actual game show on NBC during prime time, and I wouldn’t watch it unless you paid me enough to watch it.  But I watched a 1950s episode of “What’s My Line” and saw… Betty White. 
Also Fred Allen, who I don’t really know except as the partner for George Burns.  (Who died at the age of 99, and then had his death announced a few months later for marketing purposes — a thought I had to bite my tongue on when some oldsters discussed his passing at a church breakfast, like a lot of things I always bit my tongue on.)
I’ve seen Fred Allen’s particular contribution for this episode of “What’s My Line” play out any number of times on, for instance “Whose Line Is It”.  He tripped into studio audience laugh explosion at a question, “Would my Uncle war this?” — and then went back to the well again and again on the suggestion that his Uncle was a cross-dresser.  It’s all very familiar, and all very tedious.
Also I hadn’t a clue who the celebrity contestant was, which was interesting in its revelation moment when the panel pulled their blinders off and realized it was “Oh!  Him!”  Of course.  That guy.  How obvious.  To be sure there is a pretty good chance here in the year 2010 that you can drop a well known celebrity in front of me, and I won’t know who is s/he.
It’s not anything that I would find interesting in the 1950s or 1960s, when it aired.  But it’s interesting 30, 40, 50 years later.  Particularly with the transcribed across technologies effect of a distorted image at the edges of the screen — that’s probably the most entertaining part of the show.

Ezra Pound’s favorite American President

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Improbably, well into the twentieth century the great modernist Ezra Pound developed a literary crush on Van Buren, in one of the strangest artist-muse relationships in the history of creative expression.  “Canto 37” of his Seventy Cantos is a long-winded exploration of the issues surrounding the Panic of 1837, with some sections drawing upon Van Buren’s autobiography (written “in the vicinage of Vesuvius, in the mirror of memory”).  It ends with an ecstatic Latnate celebration of the man Pound considered the author of economic freedom in America; “HIC JACET FISCI LIBERATOR” (here lies the liberator of money).  Pound also wrote elsewhere that Van Buren was a “national hero” offering one of the “few clean and decent pages” in the history of the United States.

It is hard to say whether Pound’s advocacy helped or hurt Van Buren.  It is safe to say that there were not many other modernist poets clamoring to defend him, or to attack him for that matter, and any attention helped.  But Pound’s later zeal for Benito Mussolini did not do much to promote his reputationas a shrew judge of character.  In fact, his emotional embrace of Van Buren may have helped Pound more than it helped anyone else, because it offered convincing proof, as his defenders later claimed, that the poet was completely insane.

Ted Widmer, Martin Van Buren, p 168

Courage to Center

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

This is the book that is going to completely alter the Presidential Election landscape for 2012.


If you don’t believe me, remember that in 1999 George W Bush penned and released a book, similarly entitled “A Charge to Keep”, and you’ll remember how it propelled him into the White House.


If you doubt Tim Pawlenty’s chances, just compare their cover stances.

Meantime, on the Democratic side of the aisle — or what’s always swirling to a “Democratic Side of the Aisle”, a bunch of politicians have gotten together to form an anti-political alliance, based off of buzz words from Barack Obama’s 2004 Democratic Convention speech.

Or maybe they’re rebooting the DLC, Third Way, UNITY ’08,
the Bi-Partisan Institute for Advancing Plutocracy…
something like that.

The non-partisan initiative with the slogan, “Not Left. Not Right. Forward”, is seeking to fill what the American people regularly tell pollsters is the vital center: a non-ideological space where the commitment is to getting things done. And its speakers—who ranged from Republican moderates like ex-Virginia Rep. Tom Davis to liberal Democrats like New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand—sang the praises of cooperation and compromise.

But the only Republicans present at Columbia University’s modern, square Alfred Lerner Hall seemed to be those who had recently lost primary races, such as South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis and Delaware Rep. Mike Castle, or former Republicans like Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. No other senior elected Republican officials were in attendance, though a range of Democrats were present, some of them seeming a bit mystified by the bipartisan cast of the event, like the reliably liberal Gillibrand, and others whose clashes with unions – like Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Newark Mayor Cory Booker – have put some distance between them and their parties.

This may explain why Artur Davis did not show up, the fact that he was a losing Democratic Primary candidate and not a losing Republican Primary candidate:

For the hundreds of thousands of Alabamians who believe our state is capable of fundamentally changing the way we govern ourselves and the way we educate our children, and who desire a politics that is not anchored to special interest groups, there is a powerful case for an independent movement in time for the 2014 elections.

This movement, which would recruit and sustain candidates in targeted statewide and legislative races, has the potential to advance Alabama in ways that are impossible under the constraints of partisan politics.

Moving on with the article, and brushing aside some rhetorical bromides, some of his ideas are fine and dandy, though comes across as a bit of pissing over not winning an election.

Final sentence is interesting:

A writer once said something to the effect that a limited band of committed people can achieve change; in fact, it is the only thing that actually ever has.
Oh my gosh.  I thing I knew what happened there.  Artur Davis had the quote in mind, maybe thought he knew that Margeret Mead said it, looked it up, and saw that it’s a common mis-attribution — which leaves the question, who said it?
And did whoever said it have in mind the current Tax Deal that Unity ’08 / Third Way / No Logo is praising as way cool bi-partisan?

Sports Snort: The Exciting NFC West Chase continues

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Two weeks back, I brought up this Great Divisional race.  I bailed off of last week, because the two division leaders won their game and brought themselves back to .500.  Unfortunately, this erased the last hurdle to 6-10.  This week brings us back to the satisfying status quo.  The three-cornered race looks like this:

Saint Louis Rams: six wins, seven losses
Seattle Seahawks: six wins, seven losses
San Francisco 49ers: five wins, eight losses
Arizona Cardinals: four wins, nine losses

To recap the games played this week, for Saint Louis:

After the blowout loss, coach Spagnuolo wasn’t in the mood to talk about his team’s playoff chances. “I didn’t think that we played well. That’s kind of obvious. The message to the team was that if you don’t protect the football and you don’t tackle well on defense, it’s hard to beat any team, let alone one of the best teams in the league.”

When asked about the Rams still being tied for first place in the NFC West, Spagnuolo replied, “I didn’t think about that. To be honest with you maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up and look at it. I’m very proud of this football team in what they’re doing. I just don’t think that’s us. We all have a little bit of pride in playing a very good football team. You certainly want to match that.”

For Seattle:

Three things we learned       a) Matt Hasselbeck remains turnover-prone.  b) The Seahawks have found consistency the past seven games.  That’s not a good thing.  c) Charlie Whitehurst isn’t considered a viable alternative to Hasselbeck right now.

For San Francisco –   I don’t know.  Look around the comments section and you’ll see 49ers fans gloating in most surreal fashion.

A look at the coming schedule and the Dream of the 7-9 Division Championship is looking very promising.

For Saint Louis:  Kansas City, San Francisco, At Seattle.
For Seattle:  Atlanta, At Tampa Bay, St. Louis
For San Francisco:  At San Diego, At St. Louis, Arizona

That’s three divisional games and three games where the opposing team will be favored to win.  A reasonable forecast, one where San Francisco is the victor at Saint Louis, and the teams will all come into the final week, Seattle and Saint Louis and San Francisco all sit at 6 and 9,  Should Saint Louis win that game against the 49ers, the suspense will continue on to the final week of the season.

In other sports news, the Metrodome caved in.  The Viking’s remaining home games will be played in Detroit, which as always pierces the absurdity of spectator sports – there is no particular reason the team needs to play in Minnesota, the Mad Max future where the future where the teams are named after not geographical locations but corporate entities is coming down the pike quickly.

Bernie Sanders, Bill Clinton, and Richard Nixon

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

Bernie Sanders marathon speech in the Halls of the Senate, the means of battling the Overton Window as much as anything else in a world where the last two Democratic Presidential candidates were ranked by a national political publication laughably as the “Most Liberal Senator”.
With breaks from Sherrod Brown (makes sense) and Mary Landrieu (WHAT?).  They played the part Barry Goldwater played in aiding Strom Thurmond’s filibuster.

Meantime, across town, President Barack Obama brought in Bill Cinton to co-host a presser in selling the Tax Cut Deal.  Then he ducked out and left it as Bill Clinton’s press conference.  I have no idea what I am supposed to make of such a thing.  Is this a signal to the Illuminati, a dropping of the Mask of who is really in charge, a ceremonial passing of the Presidency back to Clinton == WHAT?

From the past, the Ghost of Richard Nixon chimed in and alongside Henry Kissinger shrugged off a hypothetical Genocidal Holocaust*.  He failed to deliver any thoughts on the Tax Cut deal, good or bad, though I imagine if he had his thoughts would probably be ignored — which is odd considering his Ghost has been running the Country for the past four decades.

* No, I suppose there isn’t any other type of Holocaust but the “genocidal” type.

What will it be like when they announce the end of these tv shows?

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

I watched David Letterman last week, for the first time in a long time on the teevee (a different and far more constrictive media experience than shifting through the show on the Internet.)  The man’s show has seen better days, by which I mean all of them.  Letterman is going through the motions, and it’s easy to see current Letterman viewing as coming with a sample bias that tilts toward various moments of inspiration — his sex scandal and Leno versus Conan brought him some good mileage — which fades back to a stagnant status quo.
Still, I’ve tended to shift from any present day Letterman to youtube to see something out of the 1980s or first half of the 1990s — which probably has a more acute selection bias.

One more thing irritates.  The commercials.  There are MANY of them, and they are populated by commercials telling me that I am depressed and should ask a doctor to get me some pills.  They do a trick — now a smidgeon more desirous to get a doctor to get me some pills as I am slightly more depressed for having seen the commercials.  I guess they know their midnight audience, waiting for the Johnny Depp interview.

The Simpsons has seen worse days.  As you’d expect with a twenty year run, it’s had an uneven course.  It would be interesting to review the program and chart its course, and when characteristics that have defined its highs and lows crept or plowed in.  Go to the wikipedia page and there are a few tid-bits:

Mike Scully, who was show runner during seasons nine through twelve, has been the subject of criticism.[182][183] Chris Suellentrop of Slate wrote “under Scully’s tenure, The Simpsons became, well, a cartoon. […] Episodes that once would have ended with Homer and Marge bicycling into the sunset now end with Homer blowing a tranquilizer dart into Marge’s neck. The show’s still funny, but it hasn’t been touching in years.”[182] When asked in 2007 how the series’ longevity is sustained, Scully replied, “Lower your quality standards. Once you’ve done that you can go on forever.”[184]
In 2003, to celebrate the show’s 300th episode “Barting Over“, USA Today published a pair of Simpsons related articles: a top-ten episodes list chosen by the webmaster of The Simpsons Archive fansite,[185] and a top-15 list by The Simpsons’ own writers.[186] The most recent episode listed on the fan list was 1997’s “Homer’s Phobia“; the Simpsons’ writers most recent choice was 2000’s “Behind the Laughter“. In 2004, Harry Shearer criticized what he perceived as the show’s declining quality: “I rate the last three seasons as among the worst, so Season Four looks very good to me now.”[187] In response, Dan Castellaneta stated “I don’t agree, […] I think Harry’s issue is that the show isn’t as grounded as it was in the first three or four seasons, that it’s gotten crazy or a little more madcap. I think it organically changes to stay fresh.”

Mike Scully — was that the time the show used that device of snapping the story into a very different direction after the first commercial break, a meta-joke that may have been amusing once or twice, but generally fits into Harry Shearer’s opinion?
The episode Matt Groening had his “Alan Smithee” – esque removal of name was actually a moderately funny episode, if jarring in its commercial designs. 

“The Principal and the Pauper” (season nine, 1997) is one of the most controversial episodes of The Simpsons. Many fans and critics reacted negatively to the revelation that Principal Seymour Skinner, a recurring character since the first season, was an impostor. The episode has been criticized by Matt Groening and by Harry Shearer, who provides the voice of Principal Skinner. In a 2001 interview, Shearer recalled that after reading the script, he told the writers, “That’s so wrong. You’re taking something that an audience has built eight years or nine years of investment in and just tossed it in the trash can for no good reason, for a story we’ve done before with other characters. It’s so arbitrary and gratuitous, and it’s disrespectful to the audience.”
A “What the Hell are these guys” doing moment?

As a general rule, right now The Simpsons has found its way to basics.  The Earnest Lisa episodes are dampered a bit and avoid some preachiness.  Bart looms larger on the show than he has at times in the past.  The last Christmas themed episode was a bit disconcerting, though — The Muppets parody was sort of noxious.

Hm.  Animated Cartoon Special?