Latest Posts

Jonathan Chait Thinks Magically

About Magical Thinking.

Observe how the ubiquitously cited Mr. Chait
(here is a short sampling from two day's worth of offerings from Mr. Sullivan's "Chait and Tackle Shop"

Chait wonders why...

Chait, Westen and Zakaria...

Chait defends Romney...

Chait defended the Wisconsin...

Chait defends them as...

Chait vs Westen

Chait catches a beaut from...

Chait shoots an arrow through...)

cannot seem to stop himself from plunging face-first into his own deadfall.

Note how he gets this first bit right:

The Two Crises And The Triumph Of Magical Thinking

Obama has repeatedly endorsed proposals to reduce the long-term deficit via revenue-enhancing tax reform and spending cuts. Republicans oppose these plans. What else should Obama do? Should he agree to cut the deficit by $4 trillion entirely through spending reductions? Find some previously-unused method to persuade Republicans to alter their most sacred principle? Nobody says.

Then doooown he goes (see if you can spot the moment he achieves terminal velocity):
This is one way in which conservative journalism is actually far more sophisticated than mainstream news journalism. Conservative pundits, while usually slanting their account in highly partisan and often misleading terms, do a fairly good job of grasping and explaining the fact that the two parties fundamentally disagree on the causes of and solutions to the economic crisis and the long-term deficit. In this sense, a Rush Limbaugh listener may well be better informed about the causes of the impasse than listener of NPR or other mainstream organs. The former will have in his mind a wildly slanted version of the basic political landscape, while the latter's head will be filled with magical thinking.

It appears that Mr. Chait, like so many of his caste -- like the very Moustache of Understanding

he lightly chides -- is so wedded to the Sour Tit of Fake Centrism that he literally can no longer perceive of a reality outside of its goodthinkful parameters.

Mr, Chait's entire critique rests on the assumption that there are two and only two equally flawed species of media: On one side is the "more sophisticated" but "wildly slanted" world of "conservative journalism" (represented by Rush Limbaugh); in the other we find the "magical thinking" realm of "mainstream news journalism" (represented by Tom Friedman and NPR.)

Nowhere -- not even in the poorest, most distant punditting exurbs of Mr. Chait's imagination -- does one find any evidence of that large, loud, vituperative, foul-mouthed band of Liberal observers and commentators who have been largely right about all of this all along.

Like mournful lectures on the complete absence of non-lethal beverage choices -- "Battery acid or liquid Drano?" --delivered while standing smack in front of a successful local brewery, the degree to which "serious" pubic intellectuals are now routinely lobotomizing themselves into not seeing the inconvenient realities that are right in front of them feels like it is approaching some kind of saturation point.


Saturday Night At The Movies—-  I love you, Desmond Morris

Saturday Night At The Movies

I love you, Desmond Morris

By Dennis Hartley

The smartest monkeys: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

The original 1968 film version of The Planet of the Apes had an awful lot going for it. It was based on an acclaimed science fiction novel (Monkey Planet) by Pierre Boulle (whose semi-autobiographical debut, The Bridge on the River Kwai, had been adapted into a blockbuster film). It was helmed by Franklin J. Schaffner (who would later direct Patton, Papillon and The Boys from Brazil). It sported a sharply intelligent screenplay, adapted by Michael Wilson and the great Rod Serling. And, of course, it starred Charlton Heston, at his hammy apex (“God DAMN you ALL to HELLLL!!!!”). Perhaps most notably, it happened to open the same month as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Both Kubrick’s and Schaffner’s films not only blew minds, but raised the bar on audience expectations for sci-fi movies; each was groundbreaking in its own unique way.

The film ended with…well, one of the best “endings” ever; a classic “Big Reveal” (drenched in that trademark Serling irony) that still gives me chills. Now, they could have very well left it right there. Yes, it also “ended” with Charlton Heston riding off into the proverbial sunset (with a hot brunette), which can imply that the story “continues”, but a lot of films end with the hero riding into the sunset; they don’t all beg for a sequel. But Planet of the Apes turned out to be a huge box office success, and once Hollywood studio execs smell the money…well, you know. So in 1970 we were treated to Beneath the Planet of the Apes, which, while certainly watchable, was nonetheless (how can I put this delicately?) a few steps “beneath” its predecessor…literally and figuratively. Still, it sold lots of tickets, which inspired yet another sequel-Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), which, while fairly silly, was actually kind of fun-although it set up a time travel paradox that makes your head explode (because it’s a sequel and a prequel!). The cheesy Conquest for the Planet of the Apes (1972) and series killer Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) were no more than cash-in prequels. But nothing could have prepared us for the mind-numbing ghastliness of Tim Burton’s pointless 2001 remake of Schaffner’s 1968 original...although it likely accounts for the resultant decade of silence.

To be honest, I had absolutely no idea that another attempt was being made to recharge the franchise until I began noticing TV trailers for Rise of the Planet of the Apes a few weeks ago (was it a state secret or something?). I hadn’t been invited to a press screening; if there was one, it was likely under the auspices of the one Seattle film publicity firm to whom I have yet to “prove” my worthiness…I’m still awaiting a ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ on my acceptance into some lofty online critics society, which is the first of many hoops this firm is requiring me to jump through before even being considered (perhaps I would have been a shoo-in if I just lied and told them that I was Jeffrey Lyons’ son?). So I swallowed my pride and stood in line (I know-how common) to buy a full-price ticket (the sacrifices I make for you people) and sulkily settled into my seat, fully prepared to hate it with the intensity of 1000 suns and already formulating the verbal savaging I would surely be doling out with my poison pen. But I’ll be a damned dirty ape if I didn’t find director Rupert Wyatt’s film (co-written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver) to be not only much, much better than I had expected, but to be one of the better sci-fi flicks in recent memory.

Now, you must be prepared to suspend disbelief regarding one item right off the bat-James Franco as a genetic engineer. I know that’s a bit of a stretch, but if you can get past that-you’ll be good to go for the remainder of the film (hey-I had no problem accepting Raquel Welch as a scientist in Fantastic Voyage-so there you are). Franco (channeling a young Tom Berenger) is Will Rodman, a San Francisco-based researcher who is working on a serum that could possibly reverse the ravages of Alzheimer’s. His quest is not only professionally driven, but personal-his father (John Lithgow, in a poignant performance) is suffering from the disease. Will’s ‘star’ test subject is a female lab chimp called Bright Eyes (name checking ape scientist Kim Hunter’s moniker for her human “subject” Heston in the 1968 film-the first of myriad references). Bright Eyes has undergone an interesting metamorphosis after being injected with the experimental serum-a super accelerated learning curve and level of intelligence hitherto unseen in simians. On the eve of a presentation that could assure future funding, an unfortunate lab incident leaves Bright Eyes dead and suggests a grievously counterproductive side effect of the formula. Will consequently becomes a “foster parent”, when an empathetic chimp handler, after receiving orders to destroy all extant test animals involved in the now-defunct research project, smuggles Bright Eyes’ newborn, Caesar, from harm’s way and into Will’s care.

As Caesar matures, it becomes apparent that he has “inherited” his mother’s preternatural intelligence; he becomes a de facto member of the family, communicating with Will via sign language. In the meantime, Will, frustrated by the helplessness he feels as his father’s condition worsens, injects Dad with the yet-to-be-perfected serum. Initial results are encouraging; his father seems to be in a miraculous remission, with his memory and cognitive abilities returning to full and normal function. Will develops a relationship with a primatologist (Slumdog Millionaire’s Freida Pinto) who shares his fascination with Caesar’s mental development, but expresses concerns about the chimp’s emotional growth as he approaches maturity. Those fears are realized one fateful day when Caesar runs amok in the neighborhood. Caesar is picked up by Animal Control and taken to a state-run “halfway house” of sorts for impounded simians (more like a prison, actually) lorded over by a duplicitous “warden” (Brian Cox) and his evil, creepy son (Tom Felton).

To avoid spoilers, I won’t divulge too much more. At this point, the narrative switches from Flowers for Algernon (an obvious influence, even if it doesn’t get a “based on a story by Daniel Keyes” nod in the end credits) to more or less a “reimagining” of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, in which the hyper-intelligent adult Caesar spearheads a Spartacus-style revolt against The Man (with perhaps a touch of homage to Jules Dassin’s 1947 prison noir, Brute Force…or maybe I’ve just seen too many damn movies). Wyatt may even be borrowing from his own 2008 prison drama, The Escapist (which I reviewed here). At any rate, if all this touchy-feely Dr. Doolittle stuff in the first act has you squirming in your seat and wondering when the cool “apes taking over the planet” action movie tropes are going to kick in-it’s right about then. There are some rousing set-pieces, especially a spectacular simian vs. human showdown that takes place on the Golden Gate Bridge (the film could be read as a PETA revenge fantasy). BTW, no apes were harmed in the making of this film-they are all computer generated (with a little anthropomorphic “acting” enhancement via the Olivier of the green screen, Andy Serkis).

So is this entry destined to be considered a “classic”, in the same vein as the original Planet of the Apes movie? No, not exactly. But in relative terms, compared to the majority of films passing as “sci-fi” these days, this one harkens back (in a good way) to the genre’s classic era-before it became all about the special effects and the monstro production budgets. There was a time when sci-fi was more about imagination, ideas and (most importantly) intelligent, thoughtful writing. If I may conjure up Mr. Serling again-consider his groundbreaking television series, The Twilight Zone. Not a lot of budget on display in those episodes-in fact most of the special effects work is downright laughable by today’s standards. But the series had one enduring quality that will never feel dated: great storytelling-that “something” that is sorely lacking in much Hollywood fare these days. Don’t get me wrong-when I go to the movies, I’m there to be “entertained” as much as the next schlub; I don’t mind a little explosion here and there to keep me awake. But I enjoy a little exposition, as well. After all-isn’t that what separates us from the monkeys?

Previous posts with related themes: Nenette



Visualized: the Apple mothership

Visualized: the Apple mothership
We've already caught a glimpse of Apple's proposed science fiction museum new campus in Cupertino, but screen grabs just don't do this behemoth justice. A recently released set of renderings of Apple Campus 2, as it's known to the city of Cupertino, however, give it that proper otherworldly glow. According to the accompanying proposal, the building will take up a measly 2.8 million square feet, contain a 1,000-seat auditorium and research facilities totaling 300,000 square feet. Really? Is that all? If architectural renderings are your thing, hit the source link for some building-plan booty.

Visualized: the Apple mothership originally appeared on Engadget on Sat, 13 Aug 2011 20:23:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink TechCrunch  |  | Email this | Comments

Good reads, week-end edition


Prince Valiant and Consumer Confidence [Dynamics of Cats]

This week, a WTF pair of plots were published on some economic data, namely US retail sales and consumer confidence.
I have a theory about that...

Read the rest of this post... |

Read the comments on this post...

Also check out the featured ScienceBlog of the week: Inside the Outbreaks on the ScienceBlogs Book Club


People prop

People Prop

by digby

I think this "corporations are people too" meme might have some traction. It seems that many people, logically, reject the premise.

But I think it will be an interesting case to watch develop. The right has a powerful propaganda machine and they have in the past been able to fairly easily brainwash much of the public --- even Democrats --- into buying their magical thinking. Think about all those people who now believe it's really important for their own well being that the wealthy pays a lesser percentage of their income in taxes than the average working stiff --- because they are "job creators." If you can make people believe something that complicated and self-defeating, I think it's quite possible that in a year or so when asked if corporations are people, vast numbers of Americans will simply answer "yes" no matter how absurd it sounds.

But maybe not ... I've heard reports from people involved in local organizing for the Rebuild the American Dream project that banning "corporate personhood" rises to the top five issues. These are politically active people, to be sure, but this came before Romney made it into a national question.


The hidden rebellion

The Hidden Rebellion

by digby

Dday has a very interesting post today with some news you have undoubtedly not heard about on CNN or any other national news network. It turns out that we have another Townhall uprising on our hands. But it doesn't seem to be featuring people wearing tri-corner hats and carrying guns so nobody's interested. Or rather it doesn't have a full fledged publicity campaign financed by wealthy wingnuts and news network feeding a smooth diet of Tea flavored BS to the public:

If this organic movement were happening on the right, it would be front-page news in every national newspaper in the country. We know because the distinctly non-organic movement in 2009 was front-page news.

In order to find out about this movement, you have to go to local news sites. The Dickinson Press, Dickinson, North Dakota:

(North Dakota Republican Rep. Rick) Berg said he voted for the (debt limit) package because of one provision added in the final hours of debate: a requirement that both houses of Congress vote on a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Berg said he believes it “is the one thing out there that can get our country back on track.”

However, several residents criticized Berg’s position, saying the amendment won’t solve immediate problems — like getting unemployed Americans back to work.

“The balanced budget amendment is like trying to drain a lake to save a drowning person,” West Fargo resident Darrel Lund said. “People are in trouble now.”

Lund said Congress ought to have just raised the debt ceiling as they were tasked to do, instead of adding to the problem through political deadlock.

“That’s what’s caused uncertainty — that Congress can’t even do one thing,” Lund said to applause. “They had to make a political statement.”

The Duluth News Tribune, Duluth, Minnesota:

(Republican Rep. Chip) Cravaack said he wanted to bring down the tax rate to 25 percent for small businesses because higher taxes are passed on to consumers or result in layoffs.

Audience member Dave Garshelis of Cohasset said President George W. Bush tried that plan and it didn’t work.

“Is this an experiment or a concept or do you have information from somewhere that shows this works?” he asked. “I’m wondering when the jobs are going to happen.”

Cravaack said he wants reduced taxes with the addition of tax reform. He said jobs went to places like Mexico and China because of high taxes in the U.S.

Kevin Kooiker of Pequot Lakes wasn’t so sure of Cravaack’s answer and said the tax rate today is lower than it’s been in years. He said major corporations are known to be sitting on sizeable amounts of money instead of creating new jobs.

“People need to get more money in their pockets,” he said. “The stimulus bill was way too small.”

Silver City Sun-News, Silver City, New Mexico:

A woman stormed out of Congressman Steve Pearce’s town hall meeting Tuesday night at the Silver City Senior Center, after calling Pearce a liar and saying “You’re just (BSing) everyone and we don’t buy it.”

“He got off on the wrong foot with me because he started to lie because he said the reason we got downgraded by S&P was because of our deficit,” said Anne Nitopi of Silver City. “That’s not the reason. Those very credit agencies approved junk bonds that turned out to not be worth the paper they were printed on, which created a financial collapse. The government’s inability to compromise is the reason they downgraded us. He took the debt ceiling debate and linked it to the debate about a budget and our deficit. They allowed the Tea Party extremists to threaten our country with default.” [...]

A person before her had said that he heard the 400 wealthiest families in the U.S. had more money than 90 percent of the population and that 80 percent of Americans support a balanced approach to balancing the budget – meaning cutting spending and raising taxes – but Pearce said he vowed that he would never raise taxes.

(More at the link)

Despite the wingnuts' febrile imaginings, the all-powerful Move-on with it's billions in terrorist dollars is not making this happen. This is happening because average people are spontaneously trying to make their voices heard. And these politicians should be listening. But once again, we are all obsessed with the right wing freak show (they own August apparently) this time fetishizing the Ames Cholesterol Poll and Rick Perry.

I'll let dday have the last word:

These Americans are coming forward without a compelling, overriding narrative to draw from. They’re picking up bits and pieces of information and comparing it to their everyday lives. But the overall message is remarkably similar. It says that government has a role to play in fixing the economy, that increased revenues on the rich to reduce their political economy as much as their share of national wealth would be a positive step, that people are seeing their labor and livelihoods extracted by the top 2% and they cannot stand it. This is a message about inequality, about fairness, about the need for a priority on job creation. It’s representative of a very basic and fundamental set of values that have been endemic to America for a long time. And it’s representative of a frustration that nobody in Washington shares those values.

If only this sentiment could be concentrated, if only these people organized, if only their voices heard!


Deportation for tailgating

Deportation for tailgating

by digby

Can anyone explain the political logic of this to me?
Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a frequent critic of the federal Secure Communities program, expressed significant “disappointment” during a CapTon interview last night with the Obama administration’s reversal on allowing states to opt out.

S-Comm, as it has come to be known, compels local law enforcement officers to share information about new arrests with federal immigration authorities. The goal is to deport illegal immigrants with criminal records. Instead, critics mantain, the program has largely impacted individuals who have committed either no offenses or relatively minor crimes.

In June, Gov. Andrew Cuomo heeded the calls of immigrant advocates and law enforcement officials and suspended New York’s participation in S-Comm, although he did not completely withdraw from the program.

Two other governors – Deval Patrick, of Massachusetts; and Patrick Quinn, of Illinois – also quit S-Comm. (PAtrick’s move was particularly interesting, since he is the country’s only black governor and shares a political strategist, David Axelrod, with Obama, the country’s first black president).

Last week, the Obama administration quietly had the Homeland Security Department terminante its memorandum of agreements with the state on S-Comm, essentially forcing governors to participate in the program whether they want to or not.
What's this about?

President Barack Obama regularly says his administration is enforcing immigration laws more wisely than his predecessor by focusing on arresting the "worst of the worst." He promised in his 2008 presidential campaign to focus immigration enforcement on dangerous criminals. As recently as May 10, Obama said in a speech in El Paso, Texas, that his administration was focused on violent offenders and not families or "folks who are looking to scrape together an income."

Most of the immigrants deported last year had committed drug-related crimes. They totaled 45,003, compared with 36,053 in 2008. Drug-related crime – described as the manufacture, distribution, possession or sale of drugs – has been the No. 1 crime among immigration for years. Drunken driving was third in the number of offenses last year...

But the rise in traffic offenders in the deportation statistics and in some other categories worries immigration advocates, particularly because traffic stops are largely made by police, sheriff's deputies and state highway patrol officers. Local law enforcement has become more involved in immigration enforcement because of new programs that encourage it.

Officers "are using their new authority to remove as many unauthorized people from their jurisdictions as they can, and that frequently means going after traffic violators instead of serious criminals," said Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute's office at New York University Law School. The institute is a Washington-based think tank on migration

The only people closely following this ever expanding crusade against illegal immigrants are members of the Hispanic community and the white supremacist types who are fixated on the issue. Everyone else has other things to worry about right now and migration from south of the border is down, due to the bad economy. So what's the purpose of this ongoing harassment of immigrants? It will certainly not gain the votes of any of the white supremacists (duh) and the Hispanic community is appalled. Does the administration think the vaunted Independents will reward them for this too? Or do they simply believe that harassing Hispanics is a good policy on the merits?

It's one thing to alienate activist liberals. The worst that probably happens is they keep their money and spend their time elsewhere, which the billion dollar campaign apparently doesn't seem to think will make a difference for them. But adding to that by also actively alienating Latinos with cruel deportation policies and harassment has to result in a statistically measurable drop in votes. At what point does this relentless pursuit of non-Democratic voters at the expense of the base become electorally self-defeating?

h/t to debcoop

Firefox 6 breaks out ahead of schedule, gets official August 16th

It looks like the sly fox is ready to make its worldwide debut a few days early. In typical Mozilla fashion, a complete build of Firefox 6 is now unofficially available for your downloading pleasure, three days ahead of schedule. If you're looking for a major facelift to the desktop edition, you won't find one here -- most of the new features aren't cosmetic. Perhaps most visibly, you'll find the domain name of the page you're parked on highlighted in the address bar. On the Android side, version 6 makes much bigger promises, like a "fresh visual style in Chrome Gingerbread," enhanced image scaling, and, perhaps most importantly, it's "faster and uses less memory." We've downloaded the desktop version of the browser ourselves, and we've found the release quite snappy. If you're not afraid of a little pre-release downloading, you can catch the (desktop) fox at the source links below. And as per usual, please let us know how it's treating you.

Firefox 6 breaks out ahead of schedule, gets official August 16th originally appeared on Engadget on Sat, 13 Aug 2011 14:14:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink TechnoBolt  |  sourceMozilla (Linux), (Mac), (Windows)  | Email this | Comments

Can you guess who this is?

Can you guess who this is?

by digby

He's always had very well groomed hair, hasn't he? His lovely brown shirt is very crisp and he looks mighty fine in those shiny jackboots. Nice dog sweater too. Very cute.

Note the date on the Letterman sweater proudly displayed in both pics. I was around then, a little younger, and let's just say that this fashion wasn't exactly in the youth mainstream at the time.

Remind you of anyone?


‹ First  < 2810 2811 2812 2813 2814 >  Last ›