I rewatched Midnight Run recently and it’s still great. It’s dated, but in more of a “fun time capsule” way than a “why did we think this was ever good?” way. But what’s most surprising to me is that Robert De Niro is actually pretty funny in it! After discussing this with the wife a bit, I came to the conclusion that this is largely because De Niro isn’t doing the “comedy” we’ve been seeing from him for quite some time, the no broad, hacky, physical stuff, the mugging. None of that to be found here, just sarcasm and witty asides. It’s really sort of like De Niro trying on a Bill Murray style of comedy, instead of the past two decades of his life that he’s spent trying to be Jerry Lewis to unfortunate results. And it’s great!

Additionally, I recently found myself watching The Untouchables for the first time in a very long time, and maybe it’s just the times we live in and purely my own sensitivities, but is he playing Al Capone as Trump? You tell me if I’m crazy, but it’s pretty uncanny:

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Tried to find some old YouTube favorites and they’re mostly all gone now. This one’s still up:

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I was going to write something about these latest atrocities but why bother. The gun nuts’ intellectual case remains nonsense, full of red herrings and truthy pabulum that can easily be dismissed. I caught a little bit of Tucker Carlson’s show yesterday and the “debate” on this was depressingly familiar. We need guns to fight against tyranny? Lots of other democracies have restrictive gun control laws, and our own history suggests the very opposite use for them in the hands they’re in is the more likely. Guns don’t kill people? Sorry but they do. What about knife control? Of course people are killed by stabbing, but guns make it so much easier. Unlike the NRA, I’ve read On Killing. I know a bit of the science of this. And I know The West Wing reared liberals feel like there’s a debate to be won here because their arguments are so weak, but the fact is that what fuels the gun issue is white reactionary paranoia and you can’t out-debate that. #NotAllRepublicans perhaps, but certainly the NRA folks are a critical group that Republicans can’t ignore and don’t choose to.

I’m a bit more bullish on something happening in the 10-15 year timeframe as it won’t be long before Millennials make up the fat middle of the population curve and who may well render white reactionary paranoia embarrassing and marginal (I’m not so sure of this as some but it’s not impossible), but in the meantime, there’s no point of timid proposals like background checks. Democrats should be calling out the real problem and hanging these attitudes on their enablers in the GOP. Doesn’t matter if 90% agree with these half-measures, it’s the other 10% that will never relent that drive it, and this is what people should be saying.

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Exactly correct. When even Sacramento is seeing skyrocketing rents, you know you have a major statewide housing problem. Sacramento! It isn’t exactly a creative class magnet. It’s not really that close to the Bay Area either. So if you’re seeing the same issues there, it’s literally everywhere. But while “build more housing” is the answer to the problem and is easy enough to say, the obstacle to this happening is called “suburban homeowners” and, specifically, their fervent belief that nothing anywhere near them should ever change ever. And look, it’s not as though “I spent a lot of money on this house because I like this area the way it is” is totally insane as a sentiment, but if everybody says that, then nothing gets built. And everybody says that. Well, not everybody, but enough people such that the entire state is turning into Santa Barbara and Monterey. The problem isn’t intrinsic to suburban homeownership so much as it is the attitudes and expectations around it that our society has legitimized. We’ve been over this.

But let’s be clear: at some point, fixing this is going to entail telling suburban homeowners to fuck off, and drastically curtailing their ability to block construction. (Yes, in some cases urban property owners are the problem too–historically they have been a big problem in San Francisco–but there aren’t nearly as many of them.) Wouldn’t fix it overnight, but we could get on our way. And it’s going to take literally that. I saw something recently that 3/4 of Walnut Creek residents think that the city is growing too fast after adding a few thousand apartments downtown, which beggars belief given that the Bay Area is adding thousands of jobs a month and hardly any housing is getting built anywhere. You read stuff like this and it’s just like an alternative reality, where the unspoken presumption is that there’s no urgency to building housing and that keeping the place “family-friendly” (i.e. almost uniformly single-family housing) is paramount, along with making things easier for people with cars (people having hours of commuting daily because they can’t live nearby doesn’t contribute to that, no), and “apartmentization” is an obvious dystopia even though, you know, lots of people with families rent apartments. It’s just one of those things where you don’t know what to say. Most of Walnut Creek is detached, single-family houses, none of which will be demolished for the development, so this stuff would make virtually no difference to them, but nevertheless. I give the City of Walnut Creek credit for doing as much as they can, but plenty of other places won’t even bother because of this sort of blowback.

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So the plan to eliminate press access in the Senate hallways lasted a whole half an hour there. Don’t know quite what to say about that. But I do know what to say about this:

“I want you to have access to us, inform your readers, inform your viewers what we’re trying to do,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of the most media-friendly senators, told reporters in the Senate subway. But “of all the problems in America, y’all are pretty down on the chain.”

Aside from St. John McCain, Lindsey Graham is almost certainly the politician who gets the most and best coverage from the mainstream media of any party. I follow politics and honestly I couldn’t name anything he’s actually done after several decades in Washington, other than relentlessly encouraging U.S. involvement in foreign wars. But he’s on our TVs every Sunday, for whatever reason, and when it comes his turn to pay it forward the answer is a shrug emoji, in verbal form.

Obviously, the only reasonable response would be for the press to ignore him for a few months. No invites to Meet The Press, no fawning profiles about his service in the reserves or his “concerns” about Trump, perhaps even a critical aside or two. They should say, if he won’t help us, we won’t help him. That would be undeniably appropriate. I strongly doubt it’ll happen, though. See: Palin, Sarah, which did nothing in the long run to dent McCain’s press image. Again, it’s worth reminding people that even though the media treats Graham and McCain as independent-minded elder statesmen, they’re actually unaccomplished cranks who back everything Trump does, constantly offer foreign policy ideas that are reckless and insane even by neocon standards, and have opposed party priorities pretty much never in the past decade. Jeff Sessions has more of a streak of independence toward Trump than those guys (by recusing himself from the Russia investigation). You’d think they’d want to have something solid on the record every once in a while to validate their act of independence, but the media doesn’t actually require that, apparently. It’s a state of mind I guess.

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Spent a good amount of my weekend reading about the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party (i.e. the DUP), the junior partner in power over in the UK. All I’d know about them before was that they were corrupt, which it turns out was only the beginning of the fun with them. But it’s not a good sign when this is your reaction: “You mean they hate abortion and gay people, but they’re not infiltrated at the highest levels by outright fascists and don’t only care about further enriching the rich? That’s it? That’s not so bad. Have them come over here and replace the GOP!” I mean, it’s pretty bad for them too, but it’s all about perspective.

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If the AHCA passes, a lot of people will lose health insurance, but I doubt it’ll be 23 million. For one thing, passage of that bill would spur blue states to quickly implement their own statewide systems. This has serious problems b/c of things like balanced budget constraints but it’s better than nothing. California already has a proposal for single-payer care, SB 567, which has already passed the Senate and is now before the Assembly. Passage of TrumpCare would undoubtedly spur its passage, and I doubt the Golden State would be the only state to take this step. Most blue states would implement something (if not all of them full single-payer), and a few other states with split legislatures and governors, like Nevada and Montana, probably also would. Hell, block-granting Medicaid could even work to the advantage of this effort as a source of funding for everyone beside Medicare recipients.

Admittedly, it is going to be shitty for everybody else, though the people worst hit are going to be white folks in states like West Virginia and Kentucky. People in southern states that never expanded Medicaid aren’t going to feel the loss of something they never had. Life will go on. But poor white people in Appalachia are going to get absolutely hammered, and those Republican-dominated states aren’t going to do shit to help out their constituents. I do feel sorry for the more enlightened people in those areas, which I know exist. I wish I could feel sorry for the Trumpian majorities, but they’ve let it be abundantly known that a culture war against people they’ve never met and are never going to is more important than their own livelihood or that of anyone who differs slightly from them, so let them use spiritual healing to cure cancer, I suppose. Nothing to be done about it.

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Don’t have time to get into it today so I’ll just refer you to Sargent.

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