Correction of the Week
"Correction: A previous version of this article said that the amount of losses from Monday's market collapse was 1,300 trillion. The correct amount is 1.3 trillion
"Correction: A previous version of this article said that the amount of losses from Monday's market collapse was 1,300 trillion. The correct amount is 1.3 trillion
Very few of Neil Simon's plays have made good movies. Most of what makes them work onstage evaporates when shot and packaged for the screen.
I couldn't help but think of my favorite Henny Youngman line:
The public is suspicious of the bailout. Normally I'd say that's a good thing, but they seem to be suspicious for the wrong reasons. They think the bailout is political bigwigs helping out their fatcat Wall Street friends. This buys into the false Wall Street/Main Street dichotomy.
I finally got around to seeing Bee Movie. It starts out okay, but by the time the actual plot kicks in--something about bees suing the human race for stealing their honey--it got ridiculous. I realize plots of animated features are often fairly far fetched, what with talking animals and all, but this is just too silly.
A little more than a month till the election. Obama has opened up a solid lead. The polls show him at 5% or more ahead. There are a number of reasons for this, but the main one is that the public has been concentrating for the last couple weeks on an economic crisis. For better or worse, the party in the White House gets blamed for the economy. (Even when the White House fought for more oversight of Fannie Mae and the Democrats blocked it.)
Perhaps the best commentary on Friday's debate comes from Virginia Postrel. Let me reprint it in full:
The Simpsons just started its 20th season. It's pretty astounding when you think about it. A whole generation has grown up never knowing a Simpsonless world.
Almost Famous was on TV. I pushed the "info" button to see what they said. The movie gets four stars.
Last week I noted how the Star Trek movies are a unique case of a TV cast reuniting to improve on the original. But even when a new cast meets an old show, the results are rarely inspired. Most movies based on TV shows just don't work.
Last week on The Tonight Show, Jay Leno said his biggest fear for the election was one candidate winning the popular vote and the other the electoral vote. I don't see why this should worry anyone.
There's been a lot of fuss over this ad:
Sharp-eyed observers of this blog may have noticed a curious omission the last few weeks: no Michigan football.
Paul Newman has died. He'd been ailing for a while, so it wasn't a surpirse. He was known as a race car driver, a cook, a businessman, an activist, a philanthropist and a faithful husband, but it's his work as a movie star for which he'll be remembered. (Maybe he wouldn't want it that way, but that's how it is.)
I bank at Washington Mutual. A lot of people are worried about the takeover, so I figured I'd call to see how things are going. I got an automated voice saying due to the high numbers of calls, they couldn't respond. It's like a telephonic bank run.
I recently caught Vig, a 1998 Peter Falk feature that didn't get threatrical release. The opening scene features a meeting between Frank Vincent and Tony Sirico--Phil Leotardo and Paulie Walnuts on The Sopranos. In this case, Paulie was the tough guy and Phil the underling.
For some on the left, "neoliberal" has become as big a curse word as "neoconservative." To their way of thinking, neoliberal economics--free market reforms which a fair amount of economists claim bring about greater prosperity--are somehow being forced on unwilling populaces across the globe, and bring about ruin, not to mention cruelty and torture. It's such an Alice In Wonderland claim I'm shocked anyone takes it seriously.
There's a strong piece on the Times' Freakonomics blog today about why de-regulation of the financial industry was largely a good thing and re-regulation has real dangers. I'm in favor of stronger disclosure/transparency regs, particularly if uniformly applied and thus cheaper to comply with and easier to track and interpret. But ones that stifle financial product innovation are still -- and always will be -- a bad idea. I believe that puts me in accord with John McCain circa February or March. I suppose we'll find out tonight or at a future date whether he still agrees with me (and/or is still willing to say it).
But I do know that I'm pissed off at how this has been handled from the start up to right now. WaMu's failure has convinced me that they're not kidding or exaggerating -- we're on the verge of a devastating credit crunch spiral. (I'll confess to being happy WaMu's stupid commercials will end.)
It should be clear by now that the Democrats can pass this bill now, if they choose. They don't need the votes from Republicans in the House and so far the Senate Republicans, unless perhaps rallied by McCain, are showing no sign of forcing a stalemate. So why isn't it done?
PBS just showed a lengthy documentary on Warner Bros. It was interesting to see all those movies shoot by, but as the history of a studio, any such documentary has a problem.
John McCain was scheduled to be on David Letterman's show, but, as we all know, backed out. Earlier this week Letterman featured Bill Clinton, and a little while ago, Barack Obama. Other shows, like Jay Leno's and The View, regularly feature politicians as well.
I caught All In, a poker drama starring Dominique Swain. I've said that Rounders would have been a hit if it had just been released a few years later during the poker boom, but that doesn't mean any poker film will do.
Like any show that deals with relationships, The Office, which just had its season premiere, could be hard to sustain, since things have to move forward, but when they do the show can lose the dynamic that made it appealing to begin with.
Serious people are digging into the largely untold - and intentionally covered up - relationship between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers:
I recently looked up Nehemiah Persoff in the IMDb and noticed his birthplace is listed as "Jersualem, Palestine." In fact, there are a whole bunch of people listed this way.
Obama is supposed to have an amazing get-out-the-vote organization, which may very well make the difference this year. It made me wonder what will the next steps be in draining every last drop from the electorate. I think I've got it.
Here's the headline: "Hot Dogs Force Evacuation At Citizens Bank Park."
A lot of people have been sending around this 2003 article from The New York Times about the impending financial crisis. Actually, though a lot of people could see it coming, it looks like by the time they did, even back then, it was too late to do much about it.
A lot of people get so excited about a political race that they forget they're gonna be stuck with the guy for four years. I think we can all learn something from Mr. Spock.
Matt Welch, sounding like a lot of other people I know, watches President Bush's address and wonders if the era of big government is just beginning (or continuing?).
10 Items Or Less is so unassuming it barely exists. But it does have a few things going for it.
"We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself."
From the N.Y. Times:
In fact, the allegation is demonstrably false. As has been previously reported, Mr. Davis separated from his consulting firm, Davis Manafort, in 2006. As has been previously reported, Mr. Davis has seen no income from Davis Manafort since 2006. Zero. Mr. Davis has received no salary or compensation since 2006. Mr. Davis has received no profit or partner distributions from that firm on any basis -- weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual -- since 2006. Again, zero. Neither has Mr. Davis received any equity in the firm based on profits derived since his financial separation from Davis Manafort in 2006.
Further, and missing from the Times' reporting, Mr. Davis has never -- never -- been a lobbyist for either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Mr. Davis has not served as a registered lobbyist since 2005.
So the Times alleges - based on the anonymous word of "two officials with direct knowledge" plus four "outside consultants" who say the arrangement was "widely known" - that McCain's campaign manager's firm has been receiving a substantial monthly sum from Freddie Mac since 2005, right up until this month when FM was taken over by the government.
First off, I have to say I hate "anonymous" sourced reporting, especially during election campaigns. Yes, I know there are exceptions, but as a rule they reek of hit piece - of smear. Second, if this arrangement was that widely known, why isn't there some way to confirm it or at least some one willing to go on the record with corroboration?
Still, the McCain denial doesn't address the question of payments made to Davis' firm - only that Davis had severed ties with the firm and received no income from it since 2006.
I'm left wondering just who is lying, and in the coming weeks with no doubt more and more charges and denials flying between the two candidates, will we ever find out?
Donald Luskin has an interesting post up regarding the current proposal from the Treasury:
Unfortunately, we are thwarted at the outset. There’s simply no objective way to know whether the banking system is as close to disaster as top officials at the Treasury and Federal Reserve claim. They themselves don’t really know. This is a “banking crisis,” they say. But then again, other politicians claim there is a “health care crisis,” an “immigration crisis,” an “energy crisis,” and so on.
There’s no doubt that there is serious turmoil in the banking system and financial markets. But that doesn’t mean the proposed extraordinary intervention by the government in private markets is justified, considering that throughout history we have periodically gone through convulsions worse than today’s and survived them without such interventions.
As always, read the whole thing.
The more I learn about the proposal, the less I like it, so I guess I'm with QG on this one. Some sort of government involvement is probably inevitable, but since it was largely government involvement that created this mess in the first place, I would like it to be less rather than more and if more, it should be phased in so that there's time to study the effects.
Clay Aiken has confirmed he's gay.
A nice piece in Slate on the questionable science that seeks to determine the differences between Republican and Democrat brains. I've read about the results of some of this research (though not the research itself) and didn't think it passed the smell test. Just for starters, it's not even that easy to identify who's a conservative and who's a liberal, since the definitions are wide and keep changing.
JJ Abram's Star Trek will be out next year. This will be the first time the original crew is played by different actors (in a major professional production). I'm still not sure if I like this. But it got me musing about the previous Star Trek films.
An Electoral College tie is unlikely, but possible. What would then happen?
Is nobody else thinking that this bailout idea, as currently proposed, is an incredibly bad idea both because it eviscerates the role of the legislative branch and/or institutionalizes socialism into our economy?
I'm a little bewildered by the first two hours of the new season of Heroes. It seemed more a reboot than a premiere. All the characters are acting, well, uncharacteristically.
Mad Men is often compared to The Sopranos, since they both have big casts, psychological depth and Matthew Weiner. But there's one thing Mad Men doesn't have--whacking.
In addition to the Seinfeld commercials, Microsoft is fighting Apple by directly taking on the PC versus Mac ads. Can they turn the tide? Doubtful, but it's interesting to see them try.
Pre-election day voting is a growing trend, and one I oppose. It's too late to get the genie back in the bottle, but this isn't how it should work.
I just read Good Scripts Bad Scripts by Thomas Pope. (The market for screenwriting books is bigger than the market for screenplays.)
McCain has a ten-point lead among rural voters. Not enough. Unless he can widen that gap, he'll probably lose.
It occurred to me that West Wing predicted this election with amazing accuracy. (Then it occurred to me to Google this idea and I found several others have already noted this.)
After the economic stress of the last week, I had to turn to the Becker-Posner Blog to see their response. They didn't disappoint. Some money quotes:
Here are my random thoughts on last night's Emmys. If you want to know all the winners, go here.
Let me put in another plug for Matt Welch's McCain: The Myth Of A Maverick, which has just come out in paperback. I'd like it even if I didn't know Matt.
ColumbusGuy has mocked undecided voters. How long should it take these people to make up their minds? Do they expect to learn anything new?
Finally, new Heroes. With no new Lost or Battlestar Galactica till 2009, it's needed more than ever.
All the speculation about the electoral vote is pointless right now since a slight move of the populace toward either candidate could change the outcome so easily. But still, it's fun to try different scenarios. Which makes this website, where you can color each state red, blue or neutral, is one of my favorite stops.
I started responding to the post below, but it got so long, I figured I'd put up my own separate post.
I am thankful to LA Guy for pointng out lyricsdepot.com a few years back as I now have somewhere to go to check on those nagging missed or seemingly incomprehensible rock lyrics. LAst night on my ride down I-95, I heard Dylan's "Tangled Up and Blue" several times and I went to check it out today. This song is I thought fairly easy to understand to words to so I had never looked before.
Looks like Jude Law may play Watson to Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes in Guy Ritchie's latest.
ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is accused of widespread voter fraud in Michigan and Ohio via false and duplicate voter applications.
...if you don't Flop in the first place.
...when you combine lies, corruption, idiocy, a lack of leadership and no accountability?
On this candidate, I can honestly say I'm a one-issue voter.
If you focus on her record? Note comment 4, as well. Hey, now maybe both sides will actually focus on relevant history rather than lipstick and hockey and other foolishness. Nah, probably not.
Word is the Superman sequel will be dark, like the latest Batman. As much as I hated the Superman reboot, this is a mistake. Let Batman be dark--Superman can be great without going down that path. The reason the last Superman disappointed was because the film was no good, not because it was too positive in tone.
American Graffiti was a well-reviewed hit, but because the local critic in George Lucas's hometown Modesto didn't like it, a lot of his old friends and relatives figured it was a failure.
Here's the headline from CNN: "McCain adviser Fiorina: Palin not ready to run a corporation." Similar headlines were run across the nation.
Here are the Emmy nominees. Who will win I can't say, but I'll put the one I'm rooting for in bold (when there is one--a lot of these shows I don't watch). If there's a second choice that's practically tied, I'll use italics:
Legalize it, and don't criticize it.
There are certain colorful phrases in common parlance that make me laugh because I can't help but think of their literal meaning whenever I hear them.
Europe hates Jews and Muslims more than America does, and the numbers are rising. Explain to me again why we should be more like them?
Let's say goodbye to Norman Whitfield, one of Motown's top songwriters. If he'd only written "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" he'd deserve to be remembered. But he can also take credit for "Cloud Nine," "Just My Imagination," "Ball Of Confusion," "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby" and many others. Let's spend the day with heavy rotation for Whitfield on our iPods.
Let me congratulate Paul McCartney for performing in Israel next week, something that, in a sane world, would not require bravery.
Obama is, understandably, all over the economic mess:
Ghost Town opens tomorrow. It appears to be a comic version of The Sixth Sense. Ricky Gervais "dies" for seven minutes in a hospital. Afterwards he can see dead people, and they all need his help, which is quite a nuisance.
It's quite short, so please read the whole thing, but here's a couple of lines that stuck out for me:
One of Gov. Palin's personal Yahoo accounts was cracked today by a member of the noted (in some circles) Anonymous hacker group. A good summary is here. Fortunately, it seems that nothing beyond a few family photos and contact information have made it into the public. Shouldn't the Secret Service have been working with her on this kind of issue during her post-selection trip back to the Fortress Of Solitude for a couple of weeks?
I'm having a lot of fun with my daughter helping her do her fourth grade math homework. She seems very comfortable with my intuitive/shortcut-based approaches to lots of types of problems, which makes me happy. I am good at mental arithmetic, geometry and algebra, which had left me somewhat worried that I would confuse her rather than help. But it's oddly turned into a sort of father-daughter bonding thing. Her mother (QueensGal?), while quite capable of laboriously working her way on paper through any problem up through integral calculus, cannot do mental back-of-the-envelope math above the level of two digit addition with any accuracy. And she only studied as much math as absolutely necessary to get into med school, never enjoying it at all.
Obama has a lot of money, but it's getting interesting where best to spend it. All he needs to do is take a big swing state--Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia--and it's hard to imagine how McCain could win (unless he pulls a stunner in Michigan or Pennsylvania).
According to spokesperson Tracey Schmitt, Sara Palin enjoyed Tina Fey's portrayal of her "particularly because she once dressed up as Tina Fey for Halloween.”
It's interesting to compare Mad Men, set in the early 1960s, with movies and TV shows created during that time.
McCain's lead is eroding. It's just about gone, in fact. Whether this is the normal post-convention drop, the fallout from the Charlie Gibson interview or a response to economic problems, I can't say. But it does promise an exciting race ahead.
I saw Burn After Reading over the weekend. It's got some good stuff and has a major cast, so I'm sure it'll do okay. But, this being a Coen Brothers film, it's also got a quirky plot that does things that will prevent the audience from fully embracing it.
Entertainment Weekly's recent cover story on House suggested this new season they'll fix the problems of last. What problems? I thought it was an improvement over season three. While it was sad three of the co-stars got short shrift, if was more than made up by all the new secondary characters. The public seems to agree with me, since the show's ratings were as high as ever.
Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain called for more stringent regulations as a financial crisis deepened on Wall Street.
Matt Damon is working on a documentary version of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. I don't think it's a good idea.
Polls are showing McCain with a slight edge over Obama, while Obama, I'd say, has a slight edge in electoral politics. So essentially it's the top of the seventh inning and the score is tied. What are the next three innings? The three debates, I guess. The irony is Obama originally wanted the minimum number to protect himself, but now they may turn out to save his campaign.
Frank Rich has contracted PDS (which puts him in good company on The New York Times editorial page). This is from his latest piece:
Ann Althouse is worried about what black people will think if Barack Obama loses the election. She's also worried that her worry might be a factor in who she decides to vote for, and she's worried that it's wrong for her to even consider it as a factor.
It's left to Gerard Baker of the London Times to point out the failings of the U.S. Media:
Speechmaker Obama has built his campaign on the promise of reform, the need to change the culture of American political life, to take on the special interests that undermine government's effectiveness and erode trust in the system itself,
Politician Obama rose through a Chicago machine that is notoriously the most corrupt in the country. As David Freddoso writes in a brilliantly cogent and measured book, The Case Against Barack Obama, the angel of deliverance from the old politics functioned like an old-time Democratic pol in Illinois. He refused repeatedly to side with those lonely voices that sought to challenge the old corrupt ways of the ruling party.
Speechmaker Obama talks about an era of bipartisanship, He speaks powerfully about the destructive politics of red and blue states.
Politician Obama has toed his party's line more reliably than almost any other Democrat in US politics. He has a near-perfect record of voting with his side. He has the most solidly left-wing voting history in the Senate. His one act of bipartisanship, a transparency bill co-sponsored with a Republican senator, was backed by everybody on both sides of the aisle. He has never challenged his party's line on any issue of substance...
...here's the real problem with Mr Obama: the jarring gap between his promises of change and his status quo performance. There are just too many contradictions between the eloquent poetry of the man's stirring rhetoric and the dull, familiar prose of his political record.
I just got a coupon for a neighborhood market. I get $5 off if I spend at least $20. Not a bad deal, but then I read this: "Offer excludes alcohol and diary."
Here's an odd article in Slate. Farhad Manjoo just can't understand why Obama is so damn honest.
Back To The Future, while escapist entertainment, handled the logic problems of time travel more deftly and enjoyably than one usually sees in sf fare.
The first Lost ever started with a closeup of an eye. Very effective. It was still effective when they repeated the shot in a later episode. But then they did it a couple more times, which was overdoing it.
In the Boston Globe, Cass Sunstein threatens us: