web analytics

Why is 24 coming back again? Is anyone really clamoring for this?

By far the most identifiable trait of 24 was dumbness. It presented a world basically the same as our own, only one where buildings (and even entire neighborhoods and cities) were constantly being destroyed. What would the impact of this be on Americans? Apparently none. The series’ political scenes, while not as caustic as comparable work by Tom Clancy, were no more believable, and featured the pulpy elements of scheming and betrayal that, while entertaining to watch, have very little to do with how professional politics actually works. The showrunners have said numerous times that seasons were unplanned, so the effect is of watching a shaggy dog story rather than a unified, meaningful narrative. In fact, having actually watched five seasons of the thing, I can safely say that the series is already painfully dated, and while it is interesting to see just how far anxieties about terrorism and a handful of narrative tricks were able to take them, the show’s overall quality in the final analysis was little more than a soap opera for men, with the same cackling villains, stock characters and damsels in distress (which unfortunately often tended to be Elisha Cuthbert as Kim), plus a lot of nonsensical technobabble that was super-embarrassing considering that anyone with even a basic knowledge of computers realized just how lazy and stupid the show was without even having to spend a whole day on it. It’s not like Star Trek where we’re talking about imagined tech. On 24, they just threw together tech words that they had heard before and hoped for the best. Someone heard of sockets once, for example, so sockets were all over the dialog for 24. What are sockets? Only an unsecured, thirty year old technology that dates from the early days of computing that just sends plain text over a network. Yeah. I seriously fucking doubt the national security state uses sockets, but you never know I guess. And that’s just a part of the show’s lack of research and verisimilitude that extends well into the subject matter of terrorism that Jane Mayer alluded to in The Dark Side. Dumb as a rock.

Seriously, I guess I don’t see the need for it. Homeland was originally going to be the thinking person’s 24, but around episode eight of season two, it became almost indistinguishable from the original. A revival of the progenitor seems unnecessary.

Lev filed this under: ,  

This seems to have slipped entirely through the cracks, but it is so far the only redeeming attribute of Gov. Goodhair:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) signaled that “he’s for the decriminalization of marijuana use — not legalization, but the softening of punishment for pot users in the border state,” the Houston Chronicle reports.

“It’s the first time the governor, who’s voiced support for drug courts in the past, took a position on decriminalization in Texas.”

“His spokeswoman confirmed that Perry is staunchly opposed to legalization of marijuana because of the dangers that have been associated with the drug but is committed to policies that would lower the punishment for its use to keep smokers out of jail.”

Good for him. Sad thing is, this probably puts Rick Perry far ahead of nearly every Democrat on this issue.

{ 1 comment }
Lev filed this under: ,  

Doofus rich-guy drive-by of the day: a travesty of a letter-to-the-editor from venture capitalist (I like how “venture capitalist” sounds like it’s his first name) Tom Perkins, via TPM:

Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its “one percent,” namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the “rich.”

The sarcastic SOB in me wants to know the policies the country clubs this joker belongs to (if any) had regarding admitting Jews (if any) over the years.

Per Jordan Weissmann on The Atlantic:

This is the reductio ad absurdum of a rich-guy’s persecution complex. The Jews were a minority. The rich are a minority. Therefore, criticizing the rich is akin to committing genocide against the Jews. QED.

And, in conclusion, nice fucking minotaur, ass.

Congratulations for making it through another week without destroying your career and outing yourself as a Santorum-style homophobic bigot. Not everyone can say that.

Lev filed this under: ,  

I for one think Las Vegas is just the perfect venue for the next Republican National Convention, for numerous reasons. For one thing, the city’s promiscuous use of natural resources seems to reflect perfectly the standard thinking of the post-1980 Republican Party. For another, the city seems a perfect fit culturally for Republicans, as it is car-mandatory to such a ridiculous extent that even going to the next hotel is a real travail to walk. There are tons of acts perfectly suited for people who stopped following popular culture when Dallas ended its run, and the gaudy excess of it all is pitch-perfect for the legions of McMansion owners who would descend on the place. But, most importantly, the last time I was there (about four months ago), it was almost like experiencing an epiphany about capitalism because of the literally dozens of ways the city makes you keenly aware that your value to them is only about how much money you spend. It starts off right when you get off the plane. The hotel shuttles are not free, surprising considering as the competition among the various hotels would, you’d imagine, lead them to offer perks to stay at their place. But almost nothing there can be considered a good value, and I found the idea of Vegas to be far removed from the kind of place it is sold as in popular culture. Even Starbucks, which to be fair is always a poor value but at least has the decency to be a poor value everywhere consistently, including airports, had its prices jacked up in Vegas. (Later I considered the possibility that this had something to do with their chronic water shortage, but since I ordered a no-water chai, it seems hard to figure.) And then there’s the generic chain-restaurant food at premium prices, and finer restaurants to be had with a small fortune. All the acts that people would have no interest in seeing in their hometown, sold to capacity in Vegas. And don’t forget the hundreds of escort service card passer-outers, mostly very bored looking elderly people, who thrust the things at any man even if he’s holding hands with a woman (or, naturally, another man). They don’t care, they just have more cards to move! Could it all be any more impersonal? The whole place bristles with shallow pleasures and phony hype that obviously does something for a lot of people since the place was packed to the gills, even off-season. The entire thing is a con, though, since there’s no single element of the experience that couldn’t be had better elsewhere, you literally are paying for the sizzle, and paying dearly. And this is ultimately why the city is perfectly spiritually in tune with the Republican Party’s point of view and philosophy, if not at the voting booth, and both would get along famously.

In this case, it’s former TARP head and investment banker Neel Kashkari:

Neel Kashkari (R), who led the bank bailout during the Bush administration, announced his bid to unseat California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), the Sacramento Bee reports.

“His platform could appeal to many moderate Republicans, but Kashkari’s ability to raise sufficient money to broadcast it statewide is uncertain. Not only is Brown collecting millions of dollars from labor unions and other liberal allies, but his relatively moderate fiscal and environmental polices have endeared him to business interests on which GOP candidates could once rely. With the third-term governor heavily favored to win re-election, potential donors – many of them with business before the state – may not risk upsetting Brown by giving to any Republican in the race.”

The timing is interesting. Maldonado leaves, and almost immediately, this guy gets in? It’s almost as though there’s some kind if behind-the-scenes force is afraid of a Minuteman making it to the general election in California in an off-year. Which they should: there could be a handful of U.S. House seats that could flip from Republican to Democrat here with just the right turnout patterns. Then again, I’m not sure if Kashkari is a better deal for Republicans: asking their people to turn out for the guy who managed TARP is a steep order, and given that Republicans spent seven years being angry with Schwarzenegger I wonder how establishment types will be able to talk them out of supporting a True Conservative.

In any event, it’s worth saying that the GOP’s reliance on wealthy, self-funding businesspeople to make the race in California is a recipe for failure, and this should be no different. These folks–obviously Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, but also Al Checchi and Bill Simon, if you want to go a little further back–all have the same basic failing, which is that they look at this huge state with its many big cities and media markets and assume victory is a matter of flooding the airwaves, which given their wealth is usually achievable. But it never works. The key is a previous record of statewide election wins, i.e. familiarity with the electorate and a deep base of political connections. It’s true of every governor of California going back to the 1930s with two movie star exceptions which sort of prove the rule, as both had high name recognition and lots of political connections. Kashkari has neither and building it from scratch in one campaign is something that has been tried and failed numerous times. Of course, all the statewide offices are held by Democrats, so it’s difficult for Republicans to really compete, but even when they have opportunities they squander them. The last Republican to win statewide election, former Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, got tossed to the curb when Meg Whitman’s megabucks came to town. Obviously, Republicans are effectively dead in California for bigger reasons, but their lack of knowledge of the politics of their own state sure hasn’t hurt.

Pace Lev, I too want to chime in on the hilarious spectacle of Christianists rending their garments over their perceptions of being slighted, marginalized and oppressed. Comeuppance was a long time in coming, but thank FSM it finally came. Here’s how it all works.

  1. Christianity was spread throughout the Western world for endless centuries via a literally bloody sword. “Secular” leaders came to realize the unique potential for controlling the masses through adopting Christianity and then turning the faithful always toward a heathen enemy — whether it be something as big as Eastasia, er, blaspheming brown peoples occupying Jerusalem, or something as small as the hordes of godless satanist witches roaming local villages and kidnapping Christian babies to sacrifice to Beelzebub. Ain’t no party like a religious hatred party, cuz a religious hatred party don’t stop…
  2. In almost all of Europe, Christianity came to effectively usurp state power. Rulers of nations crafted their laws to comply with religious dictates. Heads of state weren’t legitimate unless blessed by God God’s proxies in the Church. Nearly all citizens of Europe were under the bootheel of the unholy marriage of state and ecclesiastical power.
  3. Thus, for a long time, Christian power-mongers were happy. They ruled with an iron fist. Toppled kings. Burned heretics. Waged endless holy wars, e.g., for Jerusalem. Accumulated a fortune vaster than anyone’s dreams of avarice.
  4. Stuff began unraveling a bit for the One True Church once the pesky Church of England came about. Oh, and that Martin Luther guy… Yada yada for a while…
  5. Fast forward to the present day. Secular state power has been effectively freed from the iron chains of ecclesiastical dominance. The Pope can’t topple kings. European state remittances to religious institutions have shrunk to a relative pittance.
  6. So now Christians bitch because their unholy direct control over state power has been greatly diminished. No longer can they directly compel the state to oppress people.* So now they claim to be oppressed!

The chutzpah of these people…

* – And yes, Christianists still exert tremendous influence over our elected leaders.  But it’s in an indirect capacity.