Definitely in my top five list of Nikitas

To add a bit to Meta’s post, it is both sad and hilarious that the religious right has decided that Roy Moore is a good hill to die on. As I’ve written before, when I was last plugged into that Christian right world, Moore was a divisive figure there, with a lot of evangelicals dreading him. Obviously many liked him too. Ultimately, most decided that for a movement that prides itself on respect for authority (at least in theory), backing a lawless rebel wasn’t a good look. But that was fifteen years ago. I don’t want to get pulled into the game of “they were better then” like so many people seem to want to play with George W. Bush. They all sucked then, they were just a slight bit smarter. And maybe just a little bit less desperate: it’s difficult to get more morally depraved than “so what if he wanted to fuck a middle schooler?” and yet that is where the religious right finds itself. Dismissing alleged pedophilia. This dog simply won’t hunt. You know you’re really in trouble when you’re reaching to the oldest of the Old Testament for some sort of moral get out of jail free card, as though those texts aren’t rife with polygamy, casual murder and much else besides, none of which is handled with much judgment. Even I know that just because something is in the Bible doesn’t automatically mean that it’s intended to be good behavior for Christians.

Supporting Trump was an inflection point for this community, but this truly is a point of no return. With Trump, their support was pretty much impossible to square with their stated values, but they didn’t support him alone. It’s difficult to see why they’d get more flak for it than, say, gun nuts. Honestly, the real damage to them was more likely to be from Trump actually trying to enact their inhumane and horribly unpopular policy priorities. But they really are out on a plank with Moore. This is the kind of sleazy story that’s going to resonate and as they’re all alone in backing him, so it’ll stick to them and only to them. It makes for a compact and irrefutable talking point, for sure. Not that this will “destroy” them per se, but in terms of becoming a laughingstock that ordinary people despise, well, this will definitely move them further down that path.

Share
{ 1 comment }
Lev filed this under: ,  

If this brings down Roy Moore, I’d probably have to reach back to when Jesse Helms or Fred Phelps died for an example of a grave I’d so gleefully dance upon.

It’s hard to think of a more damaging story to this particular candidate, at this particular time, than the one The Washington Post just reported about Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore. Allegations that he had a sexual encounter with a teenage girl when he was in his 30s directly pierce Moore’s decades-long image as a righteous candidate who would bring morality back to American government.

Leigh Corfman said that when she was 14 years old and Moore was 32, he took her to his house and touched her sexually, The Post’s Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites report. Three other women said that Moore pursued them when they were teenagers and he was in his early 30s. Two said he offered them alcohol when they were underage.

I’m always surprised to see a self-righteous Republican godbotherer stand accused of sexual misconduct.  /s

Share
Metavirus filed this under: ,  

I was going to write a bit of a longer piece on this yesterday but then I had to spend four hours putting out an unexpected fire at work, so it didn’t happen. All I can say is that I’m glad to have been wrong in worrying. In fact, there’s not a lot of downside for Democrats over Tuesday’s results. The results in Virginia were outstanding, of course. I don’t attribute any of this to the amazing campaign skills of Ralph Northam. I see no evidence of any such skills. My guess is that he’ll quickly become an obscure figure, leaving the flash to incoming New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, and I doubt I’ll ever write about him again. Anyway, the downballot strength of Democrats reflected the fundamentals, particularly of a very unpopular Republican president, primarily, as everybody says. Still, to get to the point of nearly taking the egregiously gerrymandered Virginia House is something indeed. My main concern is that Democratic organizations will latch onto the media’s “suburbanite revolt” narrative by running civilitybots from coast to coast, particularly since many of the incoming Democrats are extremely progressive. But they were probably going to do that even if Northam had lost. It’s amazing how quickly the conventional wisdom shifted from, “If Democrats don’t reach out to working-class whites, they’re doomed!” to “If Republicans lose suburbanites, they’re doomed!” But such is conventional wisdom.

Anyway, you can’t be bitter every damn day of your life and I’m not today. In the short term, as I’ve argued many times before, there’s ultimately no real way to keep morale up other than wins. It’s a good thing for anyone to the left of Erskine Bowles that Democrats won big on Tuesday. Projecting out a bit, I think it’s difficult to see how 2018 isn’t just awful for Republicans. No doubt the vote suppression machine will be geared up full force, but given the huge enthusiasm difference between the parties I don’t think that’s any guarantee, particularly since there are a number of Republicans in New York, California, and elsewhere who aren’t going to be helped by it. Democrats should of course compete everywhere like in 2006, of course. I never got the “Trump’s a genius” when all he managed to do was equal the worst Republican performance this century, and I still don’t. Probably the most important element of Tuesday is the psychological one, that wins are still possible.

Share
{ 1 comment }

This might be the best news of last night. LoBiondo’s seat is so Democratic that it’s practically a gimme, not that it can’t be fucked up, mind you. He was treated like Susan Collins, as the rare moderate to be constantly appeased rather than seriously challenged, never mind how backward that is. Anyway, it won’t matter anymore since he’s going to be gone. That’s great! You want a couple of easy ones to not have to worry about if you’re going to retake the House.

Share
Lev filed this under: ,  

The present internet consensus seems to be that Donna Brazile is lying out of her ass to sell books. This is plausible. I can’t imagine who on Earth would have any interest in reading a book by a party functionary with a long, undistinguished record, so it stands to reason that she’d have to work really, really hard to drum up that interest.

Then somebody pointed out this tweet from…um…a week and a half ago:

I don’t even get this meme and I don’t care. It is striking just how fawning, even unctuous, the praise is, coming from somebody who knows that they’re just about to start dumping all over the person being praised. I guess I just don’t get the “smile as you stab them in the back with a knife” thing. Sometimes I’ve said something bad about someone else behind their back and even if it’s true I still feel a little bad/embarrassed when I see that person next. I’m just not that good at compartmentalizing things I guess.

 

Share
{ 1 comment }
Lev filed this under: ,  

I had this CD once upon a time. Great music and it kind of covers you for a couple of Horner-scored movies as he tended to reuse many themes.

The Plot: Admiral James T. Kirk is recalled from his dreary office job to the field when his old nemesis Khan stirs up some real trouble. Caught up in the mix are his estranged lover and son, Carol and David Marcus, creators of a highly dangerous weapon called the Genesis Device. Eventually, Khan is defeated but Kirk has to confront loss of a type he’d never experienced before. But in spite of this, he leaves the movie hopeful, having gained a son and some hard-won wisdom out of it.

What Doesn’t Work: Not much. My gripe with the movie is more about how it’s become reduced to a formula for Star Trek movies, which isn’t the fault of the movie itself. At this point I don’t really find Khan all that compelling as a character–there’s not a lot of subtext to him, it’s all kind of there on the surface, and after a couple of watches you just get it–but this doesn’t really hurt the movie at all, as I’ll explain.

What Does WorkStar Trek: The Motion Picture was the Die Another Day of Star Trek movies. It did pretty well at the box office, but the executives realized that if they didn’t right the ship quickly, the franchise was in serious danger. And that is exactly they did. Nicholas Meyer does an extremely effective job here both as a writer and a director, making pretty much all the exact opposite choices as the prior installment, resulting in probably still the all-time best Star Trek movie.

What is The Wrath Of Khan about? Death. Kirk and Khan represent the thesis/antithesis in reactions to death. Khan losing so many of his people–more accurately, not being able to save them–has fundamentally broken him even before the movie started. The only way he can keep himself going is to put the blame elsewhere and channel his bitterness toward Kirk. Kirk, ultimately, confronts much the same situation in the movie’s climax, unable to avoid losing his best friend. But he winds up the stronger for it, properly grieving and growing as a person. To me, the key scene isn’t Spock’s death but the scene between Kirk and his son David after the funeral. Kirk’s devastation is profound, he resists consolation, but ultimately he is able to accomplish what Khan could not and find true redemption in what I find to be an extremely moving scene with emotional complexity you don’t often see in Star Trek (or anywhere else).

Unlike The Motion Picture, this movie does have a theme. The script is very strong structurally and thinks through all the details. Even the Macguffin-y Genesis Device kind of plays into the theme as well. But even with a different plot and villain, the movie would still work, as that’s not the stuff that makes it great. The movie’s many subsequent imitators don’t seem to understand that this is, ultimately, a character-based movie with a universal theme. I don’t think that Khan is what makes it work, as the many subsequent pseudo-Khans have shown. It’s not the revenge theme, it’s not the (admittedly extremely tense and well-done) ship combat that still looks good today. The movies that have followed this formula to a T have failed because what makes this work is the focus on character and theme, which fundamentally cannot be turned into a formula. It’s the human element of it. It’s why the ripoff of the aforementioned David scene at the end of Star Trek Nemesis falls flat, and it’s why the ripoff of the death scene in Star Trek Into Darkness is unintentionally hilarious. We’ll get to those later. We’ve seen all the elements put together in many other forms but none of the imitators can match the humanity of the original. Meyer simply tells a resonant human story with universal themes, which also happens to involve spaceships and aliens. It’s a profound achievement.

Honestly, there’s really not that much I have to say about this one. It’s hard to write really positive reviews!

Legacy: Huge, perhaps almost too high as it deters people from taking risks with the franchise, though it really is quite excellent.

Share

Not an original observation here, but it is interesting how certain countries are on our shit list forever for “humiliating” the United States, while others did the same and are not. Cuba and Iran are still there, for what amount to repelling an illegal foreign invasion and for a bog-standard hostage crisis that was peacefully resolved, respectively, many decades ago. Yeah, I suppose there’s more to each than just that but frankly, it’s all just so weak. Vietnam isn’t on our shit list anymore even though they actually did humiliate us in a war (though it’s probably more accurate to say that we humiliated ourselves by getting involved in the first place). The world’s superpower got absolutely rocked by a small (though not that small–over 90 million people) country, and yet we made up and now enjoy good, universally uncontroversial relations with them. Why, it’s almost as though closing yourself off from Western influences and markets just leads to implacable hatred by the United States government, based on some trumped-up pretext! Vietnam is “Communist” but they’re perfectly happy to be a cog in the worldwide capitalist machine, just like China.

If Kim Jong Un really wanted to avoid ever getting invaded or bombed, if that actually is the thing he wants more than anything else, then he could accomplish it without spending any money on nukes. Actually, he could make a lot of money instead: he could just follow the example of Vietnam and China and accept Western investment, start churning out cheaply made clothes or shoes or whatever. That’s it. That would do it. Seems crazy until you realize that similar totalistic rhetoric was employed about China by conservatives like Ronald Reagan, up until the point where China under Deng Xiaoping opened it up for business. It’s not like we’d actually demand any political changes from Kim. We never do! It’s not as though market capitalism would be a threat to his reign, any more than it is to Vietnam’s or China’s Communists. Corporations are more than happy to outsource the rough stuff to authoritarian governments, and if opening those markets has really led to more Western-oriented attitudes much more inclined to liberal ideas, it’s not obvious. And it’s not as though the political class would care about peoples’ concerns over buying “Made in North Korea” slave labor T-shirts. Even liberal humanitarian Barack Obama was cool with slave labor in global trade. Maybe American consumers wouldn’t buy North Korean slave labor shirts, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Seems like a much easier way to get what he wants. What, he’s dedicated to Marxism? As many books on North Korea (including this one) have noted, North Korea has a highly regimented, caste-based society. Nope, no real Marxism there. I’m kind of amazed Kim didn’t think of this, actually, though he obviously must have considered it. The real question is why he rejected this option.

Share
Lev filed this under: , ,  

I’ll support the first 2020 Democratic hopeful who pledges to curtail the parasitic culture of party consultants. Well, unless Andrew Cuomo makes that pledge. Anybody else, though. And honestly, if he’s the only one saying it…actually no, still wouldn’t support him, but still. It’s just incredible how bad this problem is. Every time I think I have a handle on just how sick it is, I’m amazed by just how much sicker it can be. All those consultants and yet I don’t think any of them could convincingly describe how the mind of the typical voter works. Or even how their own party works. If they can there’s been no evidence of it.

Share
Lev filed this under: