JJ Goldberg has written the best thing I've seen yet about Andrew Adler, the Atlanta Jewish Times columnist who suggested that Israel may want to assassinate the president of the United States. Goldberg's take is politically and historically astute and I wish everyone would read it:
And Obama? He pressed for a settlement freeze to get Netanyahu and Palestinian chief Mahmoud Abbas to the negotiating table. No aid suspensions, no angry, lectern-pounding press conferences. And he talked about using the pre-1967 lines as a “basis” for border negotiations, which has been turned into a falsehood that he wants Israel to return to those actual lines. Nearly every senior member of the Israeli defense and intelligence establishment publicly favors negotiations based on the pre-1967 lines. The notion of an “indefensible border” is not in Israel’s military vocabulary—it’s used purely for political grandstanding and foreign consumption. If the pre-1967 border was indefensible, how did Israel win the 1967 war in six days? For that matter, why is that the last war Israel managed to win quickly and decisively?Not to be a mushball centrist, I'm not sure who I have more contempt for- those on the left who are obsessed, knee-jerk Israel-bashers, or those on the right seeking to demogogue everyone to the right of Bibi as anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, self-hating Jews, etc. It's at the point where when I read something from either side my eyes glaze over and I almost forget which side I'm reading.
Great bit from Bill Maher here:
Kennedy - remember her from MTV 15 years ago?- was on the show, and hasn't gotten much brighter over time.
I think you know which side I'm on:
"Where the Wild Things Are" author Maurice Sendak on Colbert:
“Newt Gingrich… is an idiot. Of great renown, I’ll give him that. There is something so hopelessly gross and vile about him… lets not take him seriously.”
ReelViews goes there, and I agree. No, he didn't "rape" your childhood, or anyone else's.
"Room" parodies are getting old but this one, starring Patton Oswalt and Julie Klausner, is excellent:
Cory Booker may be my favorite current American political figure:
I've said some pretty harsh things about Penn State in the past couple of months, and I stand by all of them. The university absolutely disgraced itself in a way that I don't think I can ever forgive, as numerous people actively participated in the coverup of a serial child rapist who was caught red-handed and allowed to roam free for another decade. And then students rioted not over the abuse, but over how Joe Paterno was treated.
That said, I am of course sorry that Joe Paterno is dead, and I am sorry that he had to suffer. He was by all accounts a decent and honorable man, who sadly made a catastrophic decision late in life that will unfortunately forever taint his legacy.
This reminds me a lot of Kirby Puckett, also a universally beloved, larger-than-life athletic figure who had a shockingly horrible fall from grace followed not too long after by his death. Us Twins fans had a pretty complex reaction to Puckett's death- and the tarnishing of that previously perfect legacy is part of what we were sad about. I'd imagine that, other than the most obtuse Penn State fans, that's what happening here.
I suppose a year in which there are nine Best Picture nominations and I had no quarrel with seven of them is a pretty good year. "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" is a movie that I didn't think anyone liked, based on a novel that I KNOW no one liked, yet here it is up for Best Picture for some reason. And while I didn't hate "The Help" as much as some people, and actually really enjoyed its three nominated performances, it has no place in a Best Picture race.
In my rankings of 2011 movies, the nine Best Picture nominees were ranked 1, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 30 and 44; I saw "Extremely Loud" after I made my list but it would've been somewhere in the 70s.
While I was glad to see "Cars 2" shut out of Best Animated Feature, and was pleasantly surprised that the Academy rightly left "J. Edgar" out of the Best Makeup race, I just don't understand some of the acting snubs. Michael Fassbender gave THE performance of the year in "Shame," which was ignored, as was Albert Brooks for "Drive," who deserved to win Best Supporting Actor. And while I detested "Young Adult," Patton Oswalt was very, very good in it. And no Kirsten Dunst for "Melancholia"? Come on.
Was "Certified Copy" not eligible for Best Foreign Language film for some reason? Maybe because it's in multiple languages and "from" multiple countries? The documentary category is a mess, as usual- no "Tabloid," "Senna," "Page One," or "Pearl Jam Twenty"?
And if you're going to choose a song from "The Muppets," why not "Life's a Happy Song"?
Here's a great, great Reddit thread with I-worked-at-Chuck-E-Cheese stories. I went there for a kids party awhile back, and it was more fun back in the day.
I loved this:
The Republicans and conservative media have spent the past four years lying through their teeth to their own constituents and customers about who Barack Obama is and what he stands for. Therefore, we get moments like this:
How many lies/false statements are in that one sentence? Not a citizen! Muslim! "Constantly says our constitution is passe" (Obama has never once said this.) Why aren't we removing him from government? Well, there is an election going on. Would be nice if Santorum, or anyone else in the crowd, would tell her to shut up. He must think McCain interrupting the old lady who called Obama an Arab was the reason he lost in '08.
Also, nice of Santorum, the most avowed theocrat in American politics, to slam theocracy in Iran in last night's debate.
Stewart aims a spear at the heart of Newt's candidacy:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Indecision 2012 - The Gingrich Who Stole South Carolina|
This Stephen Fry bit predicted the future (starting at 1:00 mark):
My son celebrates his birthday in his latest blog post.
Andrew Sullivan on the Republicans' loathsome joke of a frontrunner:
Listen to Gingrich’s victory speech. It was completely, fundamentally, organizationally Manichean, if you’ll pardon the expression. He limned a familiar battle between independence and dependence, pay-checks vs food stamps, America vs “Europe”, the American people vs elites “forcing people” for 35 years not to be American, the traditional America vs the “secular, European style socialist bureaucratic system”. There is no gray here. There is no nuance. And there is the imputation to the other side of malign motives, secret agendas and foreignness that has been Gingrich’s hallmark since the very beginning, when he assaulted the traditions of the Congress until that institution eventually had to repel him.
Tebow is the Tuesdays with Morrie of sports. Yes, we get it, this is a POWERFUL story with IMPORTANT life lessons in a society too busy to care about what really counts in life. That doesn't mean EVERYONE has to love it.Reminds of the op-ed some guy wrote in the Brandeis newspaper when I was there, complaining that the local ABC affiliate had pre-empted the premiere of the "Tuesdays With Morrie" movie- in Morrie's hometown, no less- to show a football game.
Yea, I too loved this movie when I first saw it, but upon further reflection... yikes.
Mitt Romney’s run of luck during the Republican nominating race is beginning to defy belief. Begin with the fact that Rick Santorum turns out to have won the Iowa caucuses. Finding this out now is approximately 0.001 percent as valuable as having it announced the night of the caucuses. There was an old Fed Ex commercial depicting an aging pool cleaner suddenly discovering a 20-year-old acceptance letter from Harvard he had never received, and imagining the life he could have had. That man is Santorum. He has to wonder if the Iowa vote counters were gay.
Scott Lemieux on Caitlin Flanagan:
There really is someone being paid handsomely by a prominent national magazine in 2012 explaining that the success of women should be evaluated based solely on their ability to maintain sexual “purity” as teenagers and on their ability to be servile spouses and child-rearers as adults. She really does seem to believe that there’s no sexual middle ground between remaining wholly ignorant about human sexuality and giving blowjobs to random strangers. She’s like a character in a draft of an Alan Ball script but one that he rejected for being too heavy-handed and unfair to suburban mothers.
The DNC Chairwoman goes toe-to-toe with those idiots, who clearly don't remember the Obama/Hillary debate in 2008, also by ABC News, in which the first 45 minutes was all Wright/Ayers questions:
I'd say my CES experience was very different from this guy's.
Here's a pretty awesome video, in which the creator includes one second of each day of 2011:
If I did that it would be quite work-heavy and Noah-heavy.
Paul Waldman on the GOP's class war:
For all their talk of the horrors of "class warfare," conservatives are enormous class warriors, it's just that they want people to think differently about class. Their story goes like this: There is no such thing as an economic elite, but if you want to get mad about your situation, your anger should be directed at the cultural elite. Snooty Upper West Side liberals, sanctimonious hippies, stupid Hollywood actors, arrogant college professors, biased reporters—these are the people who are keeping you down. They hate your religion, they hate your taste in food and entertainment, they hate the country you love, and they're trying to subvert everything you believe in and hold dear. Don't get mad at the corporation that closed the plant in your town, get mad at some professor of cultural studies somewhere who said contemptuous things about America. Don't get mad at the politicians who want to eliminate capital gains taxes and regulations on Wall Street, get mad at the people who want to put up a mosque in lower Manhattan. Forget about economics, because there's a more important war going on, a war for the soul of our nation, between good, honest, hard-working folks like you and the Republicans who want to represent you on one side, and the godless fornicating arrogant liberals who are trying to destroy America.
Andrew Sullivan provides the rosiest, most boosterish argument for Obama's reelection on the cover of Newsweek. But you know what? He's way more right than wrong.
I love Michelle Goldberg. She's like Velma from Scooby Doo, reincarnated as a live-action liberal pundit:
Do you believe that MLK was a conservative/Republican? If so, you have been shamefully, severely lied to.
My whole life I've been pretty ambivalent about Penn State's football program. I don't follow college football all that closely, and while the team I grew up rooting for, Minnesota, is in the Big Ten, they and the Nittany Lions were never exactly rivals. Friends and relatives of mine are alumni and hardcore supporters of the football program, and they're sort of treated as a "home team" here in Philadelphia despite being several hours away.
But after the last few months, I'm no longer so ambivalent: I feel a strong, angry contempt towards the school and the football program that I don't expect to go away anytime soon.
We all know the story: In 2002, Jerry Sandusky, the team's longtime defensive coordinator, was caught, red-handed, raping an underage boy in a shower in the Penn State facilities. An assistant coach caught him in the act, and later told coach Joe Paterno. Regardless of how specific the description was, Paterno ran it up the chain, telling administrators who subsequently sat on their hands. Then, nine years passed before Sandusky was finally arrested and charged with dozens of counts of abuse.
The university president was fired, the two administrators who were warned were both indicted and Paterno was terminated as well. Fans of the team rioted on campus at the news of Paterno's dismissal, and last week, at a series of town meetings with alumni, the primary cause of outrage was the way Paterno was treated. At the Philadelphia meeting, among the first questions asked were whether the school will apologize to Paterno, and when they plan to honor him.
And this is the cause of my anger at these sad, myopic people. They didn't riot because a known child rapist was allowed to continue unimpeded for nearly a decade. They rioted because a football coach that they loved was fired in a way that they found unsatisfying. It's hard to imagine a more egregious case of misplaced outrage or failure to see the forest for the trees.
Was Paterno treated unfairly? The correct answer is, "who cares?" I care that dozens of children were molested, and many people on multiple levels of bureaucracy -Paterno included- failed to stop it. On the outrage scale, that's a 10 out of 10. The circumstances of Paterno's firing are a 1 out of 10, if that.
Then there are these embarrassing former PSU players, such as LaVar Arrington, who promised earlier this month to no longer wear Penn State merchandise and put the awards he earned there in storage. Because he's so angry that child rapes took place at his alma mater and no one stopped them? Actually no, it's because he wasn't happy that ex-players were not consulted in the search for Paterno's replacement, and the school settled on Bill O'Brien, a coach with no significant ties to Penn State.
My opinion of Paterno is that he was by all accounts a good and honorable man and all-time great football coach, who made a catastrophic error in judgment late in life that will harm his legacy perhaps irreparably. But the school was absolutely right to fire him, and if, as he said in an interview this week, he was unaware of the specifics of exactly what male-on-male rape is, perhaps that's a sign that he should've retired a long time ago.
On the morning of Penn State's first home game after Paterno's firing, an acquaintance of mine posted on Facebook that while she didn't attend Penn State and had never even been there, she felt that, after all that happened in the last week- the indictments, the firings, the riots- everyone in Pennsylvania needed to come together in solidarity and support the team. I didn't. I rooted against them that day, and I plan to continue doing so for a long, long time.
Just when I was wondering why Matt Zoller Seitz hadn't had a new piece on Salon in awhile... he's the new TV critic for New York magazine. A big congrats to one of the best film and TV writers around.
How brilliant is this Stephen Colbert SuperPAC angle? It might be my favorite thing he's ever done:
The people who donate to the SuperPAC are, pretty much, donating to a comedy bit. Not that there's anything wrong with that...
I used to be pretty much in love with Ashleigh Banfield, back during her MSNBC days a decade or so ago, but it's hard to defend this. In a bit I had previously only ever heard of as a staple of morning-zoo radio shows, her CNN show does a segment in which they call up a celebrity at 5 in the morning, wake them up and interview them live on the air. Jon Stewart's lampooning of this was glorious, especially the part where he pointed out that a predawn call to someone like Kerry Kennedy, who's had more than her share of family tragedies, may not have been in the best taste.
Moment Magazine has a really great roundup, from across the political system, asking the question of what it means to be "pro-Israel." I probably agreed most of- all is often the case- with Peter Beinart, and the least with Caroline Glick, who argued that to support the overthrow of Mubarek in Egypt and democracy in that country is, by its very nature, "anti-Israel."
Here's Noah's latest blog post.
I just got back last night from my annual trip to Las Vegas for International CES. This was my fourth time at the show, and while I feel like I've gotten used to it a lot more, I don't yet have the dread of going that many CES lifers do. A few thoughts on the week:
- Despite the spate of "CES is Dead" stories that ran in various publications last week, I thought the show was vibrant and lively as ever. It had the most exhibitors ever, and while I haven't heard attendance figures yet, it was pretty robust from what I saw.
- As for it being Microsoft's last time there, I went to their keynote and it was nothing special; just about nothing new announced, although Windows 8 does look promising. Ryan Seacrest "interviewed" Steve Ballmer, and I'm guessing his paycheck for that appearance was about what I'll make this year. Here's my coverage of the keynote.
- I covered the Intel keynote as well; it was one of the highlights two years ago but this year was rather boring, mostly fixated on ultrabooks, which mostly look to me like Windows knockoffs of the Macbook Air from two years ago. Then, at the end, Will.i.am showed up, looking as though he'd been asleep backstage ten seconds earlier. Here's my Intel writeup.
- Here's my report about a panel I went to featuring the directors of three James Bond movies- John Glen, Michael Apted and Martin Campbell- marking the 50th anniversary of the 007 films and the upcoming Blu-ray set. Also on hand were the two Bond girls from the two Daniel Craig films; one of them tried on two occasions to pronounce "CES" and failed both times.
- Other celebrity sightings: No Maria Bartiromo this year, as CNBC was replaced as the main broadcast partner by... Spike TV? But Carl Lewis was on my plane, I walked by Robert Horry signing autographs at the Haier booth, and I just missed Terry Francona and Orel Hershiser making an ESPN appearance. Thankfully, I wasn't there for Colin Cowherd's live broadcast, either. Also at the show, although not near anywhere I was, were Justin Timberlake, Will Smith, Justin Bieber, Snooki and various others.
- I wrote about ESPN's screening, in 3D on a huge screen, of the BCS National Championship game, which looked pretty cool, although I had to leave not long into the game to catch the Ballmer keynote.
- Speaking of 3D, at last year's show Toshiba showed a prototype of their glasses-free 3D TV, which was pretty clearly not ready for prime time and never came out in the U.S. But they showed a newer version and... wow. This thing could actually work, and I've got a feeling every manufacturer will have one next year or the year after. It's coming out domestically this spring.
- Here's my report on the unveiling of Nokia's new Windows-based smartphone. My first-ever cell phone was a Nokia and I'm glad to see them back in the U.S., although if they can dent the iPhone/Android duopoly remains to be seen.
- Other Vegas notes, Peter King-style:... I stayed at Bally's, and generally liked it. It's not the best hotel, but it's right in the middle of everything, and being able to periodically hear the crash of the Bellagio fountain was kind of nice... Something I'd never noticed before- homeless people on Strip dressed in knockoff costumes of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Spongebob and others, and begging for money. Seeing these people with the heads off smoking- or one guy, drinking a beer through the Mickey head's mouth- is among the sadder sights imaginable.... One guy did have a much better costume- he was dressed as Galifianakis in "The Hangover," complete with fake beard and fake baby... I took cabs three times and not a single time did the driver, apropos of nothing, try to steer me to a specific strip club and/or massage parlor. Vegas is changing... I ate lunch one day at Serendipity 3 at Caesars, since I've been to the one in New York many times, and they gave me literally the largest sandwich I've ever seen. I actually had to cut it into thirds.
- Follow the work of myself and my colleagues at the @dealerscope and @technologytell Twitter feeds; the latter is for the new company's Tell magazine, which launched at the show. See the digital edition of the first issue- featuring a column and two reviews by yours truly- here.
In my last article for Patch, I look at the ten worst movies of 2011. I'll be back with a new movie-writing venture in the next month or two.
This is a couple years old, but I love it:
A great commercial/viral video from LG:
Let me get this straight: Pat Buchanan, who for years has had an unquestioned job and stature in media despite writing numerous books and articles that are somewhere between white nationalism and the Klan's platform, has now been removed from MSNBC, because of... controversial statements in his new book.
I'm all for Pat never being on TV again, but how is what he said now any different from what he's always said?
"I'm sure I'm not alone in finding Rick Santorum a uniquely repellent figure among contemporary Republicans, someone who combines standard-issue objectionable positions on things like economics with a level of reactionary venom on social issues that is becoming unusual even in his own party. With some Republicans, you get the feeling that they'll parrot the party line on the danger of gay marriage, but they really don't mean it. Santorum, on the other hand, really, really dislikes gay people"
The Name of the Year tournament has returned, after an inexplicable seven-month hiatus.
George Packer on the Frothy Mixture Frontrunner:
In the tenth paragraph of a page A15 Times piece, Rick Santorum accuses Barack Obama of engaging in “absolutely un-American activities.” What are they? The article doesn’t say. The quote appears without explanation or comment, in an article entitled “Santorum’s Challenge: Broaden His Appeal Beyond Evangelical Christians.” Nor does the line show up anywhere else on the Web—apparently no reporter in the mob following the candidates through the last days before the Iowa caucuses thought it worth writing down, and no blogger thought it worth repeating. It was just a throwaway line, a hunk of spoiled red meat tossed at the crowd in a Sioux City coffee shop, no more newsworthy than saying, “It’s a great day to be an Iowan!” And the crowd ate it up, applauding lustily....
Several things are worth noting here. The first is that, in today’s Republican politics, one reliable way to reach beyond the Christian base is by whipping up nationalistic hysteria with language lifted straight from the McCarthy era. If criminalizing all abortions and nullifying all gay marriages are a little too sectarian for you, surely you’d like to try some old-fashioned traitor-hunting. (Santorum has also accused Obama of “sid[ing] with evil” in Iran, a country with which he plainly wants to go to war.) The second is that this kind of gutter rhetoric is so routine in the Republican campaign that it’s not worth a political journalist’s time to point it out. In 2008, when Michele Bachmann suggested that Barack Obama and an unknown number of her colleagues in Congress were anti-American, there was a flurry of criticism; three years later, when a surging Presidential candidate states it flatly about a sitting President, there’s no response at all.
Bill Simmons runs it down:
Here were your past 23 months as a Vikings fan: an iconic stomach-punch playoff loss to New Orleans (one first down from the Super Bowl); the "Is Favre coming back or isn't he?" saga, followed by Favre's sexting scandal; the Kevin/Pat Williams Star Caps suspension; Brad Childress' creepy final season; the 2010 Vikes turning things around just enough down the stretch to screw themselves out of a top-five draft pick; Christian Ponder over Andy Dalton; the ongoing threat of the Vikes moving to L.A.; the Donovan McNabb era; their best cornerback (Chris Cook) getting knocked out for the season by an ugly domestic violence incident; a 2-12 start in 2011 highlighted by a story that Minnesota's defensive players were ignoring their coordinator; the whole "Wait, Joe Webb is better than Ponder, what the hell do we do now?" issue; then Adrian Peterson's blowing out his knee during the same Week 16 victory that cost them the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes.And the team's GM for all that time, Rick Spielman, just got... a promotion?
I give my Top Ten list for 2011 here.
Like "America's Funniest Home Videos" only, you know, funnier:
Much as I loved the NBA's welcome-back commercial...
WWE sort of got there first:
Who needs Farrakhan when you've got Fox News?