"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen


"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister


"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont


"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister


"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Saturday, January 10, 2009

With the Thrilla from Wasilla a fading memory; with their laissez-faire, free-market Reaganomics under seige by current events and with their Southern Strategy in tatters, conservatives are in desparate need of something they can point to and rally around.

Well now that New York City has been Disneyfied thanks to Rudy Giuliani, there's always Detroit, grand symbol of the failures of the 60s War on Poverty and affirmative action with the added bonus of the United Auto Workers. Michael Scherer at Swampland directs us to Matt Labash's latest Weekly Standard piece.
Somewhere along the way, Detroit became our national ashtray, a safe place for everyone to stub out the butt of their jokes. This was never more evident than at the recent congressional hearings, featuring the heads of the Big Three automakers, now more often called the Detroit Three, as that sounds more synonymous with failure. Yes, they have been feckless and tone-deaf in the past, and now look like stalkers trying to make people love them with desperation moves such as Ford breaking the "Taurus" name out of mothballs, or Chrysler steering a herd of cattle through downtown Detroit for an auto show (some of the longhorns started humping each other in front of reporters, giving new meaning to the "Dodge Ram," which they were intended to advertise).
As Hitchens once wrote in a gentle rebuke to something P.J. O'Rourke had penned, "That's quite funny, but it's not funny enough."

Friday, January 09, 2009

Were you as viscerally upset as I was when Governor Blagojevich played the race card and appointed Edmund Burris to the open Illinois Senate senate?

Then do something about it and help elect Tom Geoghegan to Blagojevich's old congressional seat.

Geoghegan recently had an op-ed in the New York Times.

In the blogosphere, Josh Marshall said
Don’t know what his chances are - he seems more like the type of guy you’d like to see in the House than the type who actually gets there. But let’s see. It’s important to aim high.
Matt Yglesias responds
I would have said something similar about Al Franken, and now he’s a US Senator. And I think of Glenn Nye who’s being sworn in today as a member of the US House of Representatives - you haven’t traditionally seen guys leap from the foreign service into congress. But why not? And couldn’t the House use a labor lawyer slash major intellectual? Part of what happens in times of political change is that new people get pulled into the process. People who don’t usually vote, go vote. People who wouldn’t normally run for office run for office
A native of the 5th district comments in response to Yglesias:
If the machine doesn’t slate a candidate, there could be a dozen (who knows, maybe more?) machine regulars running, and the County Party will be officially neutral (though whoever is favored by Daley and the other bosses on an individual basis will get help), allowing those guys to slug it out.

Then Geoghegan may be able to slip through and get the special election nomination. Beating the Republican will be a cake walk (The only republican candidate I’ve heard about so far is the Ultra-racist head of the Illinois Minuteman Project - she won’t stand a chance).

That’s kind of how the State’s attorney race played out this past fall. The County Party did not endorse, several Party heavyweights slugged it out, and the career prosecutor with no political experience and few connections won the primary and then thrashed Tony Periaca.

Heck, Geoghegan’s probably in a better place than Alvarez was given his history as a Labor lawyer. Some union folk might buck the machine to back one of their own.

No matter what happens, its going to be a fun primary. I’ve got a front row seat, and I’ve just got to pick a side now. I want to see some evidence that Geoghegan can run a strong race, and then I’ll be there to volunteer. Otherwise, I’ll probably go with John Fritchey, since he exorcised the last vestiges of the old Rostenkowski machine from my old neighborhood (he ran Rostenkowski’s successor (I forget his name) out of the Ward Committeeman seat).
I don't know about Fritchey - Blagojevich also ran as a "reform" candidate - but Geoghegan is definitley uncorruptible* and frugal - he once told me he will wait for books to come out in paperback before purchasing them. He's sort of a combo throwback/modern personality. On the one hand he reminds me of Ioan Gruffudd's William Wilberforce, from the movie Amazing Grace, which had moved Annasophia Robb so. On the other hand, he has demonstrated again and again in his writings his appreciation of the absurdities of modern life. But then again he discusses these absurdities in a plainsong, common sense manner, which makes him seem like a very observant, often extremely humorous throwback inserted into the 21st Century.

The primary is March 3, the general is April 7.

Mickey Kaus at Slate approves.

Kathy G at the G spot is ecstatic.

James Fallows is excited.

Katha Pollitt gives him a nice plug in her column.

Hertzberg had published him in The New Republic.

Thomas Frank** in his column in the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed pages (yes we have entered a bizarro alternate dimension)

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* the term Boy Scout comes to mind.
** Frank and his cohorts would regularly run Geoghegan pieces in The Baffler.
You Don't Mess with the Zohan
(or ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead)


Rashid Khalidi writes about what people don't know about Gaza.

Juan Cole writes:
The new repertoires of struggle against Israel had four dimensions.

# First, they depended on fundamentalist religious party organization (Hizbullah, Hamas), wherein cadres gained popularity in their own base by providing aid and services (e.g. hospitals, soup kitchens, etc.) This development marked a distinctive move away from the leftist romantic guerrilla model of the late 1960s and the 1970s, which was secular and less organic. Because they are religious and political communities, they can lace their guerrilla organizations and materiel through the civilian sphere. Guerrilla operations might be planned out in a civilian apartment building. Rockets might be stored in a mosque.
What he doesn't say is that leftist groups were systematically targeted and destroyed by regimes in the region (see Saddam Hussein) while their religious rivals were allowed to persist.

Hitchens notes
(Should you ever be in need of a free laugh, look up those Western "intellectuals" who believe that a vote for an Islamist party and an Islamic state is a way to vote against corruption! They have not lately studied Iran and Saudi Arabia.)


In his Op-Ed, Khalidi quotes the words of Moshe Yaalon, then the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff, in 2002: "The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people."

It is no wonder that after decades of violence and humiliation that many Palestinians have turned to fundamentalist religion. Likewise after centuries of persecution and pogroms, capped by the Nazi genocide, it's not surprising there are Jewish people who are gonzo nationalistic and nutters religiouswise.

But I still don't understand why the Israelis feel as if they need to go it alone after all of the evidence that the US has their back. And after the reality that the Saudis and Egyptians and other Arab nations (or rather their moderate political elite) have more to fear from a rising Iran than from Israel?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

You're Gonna Go Far, Kid

I was killing some time looking at old blog posts and clicking on some of the links I embedded. In the lengthy post on actress AnnaSophia Robb, I noticed the YouTube video for the Van Halen video for Hot for Teacher had been taken down "due to terms of use violation." So I updated it. Then I had a little holiday in my heart, Robb had updated her website. She has a movie coming out in March with Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino. Robb also included a link to a pdf of a lengthy report she wrote about her trip to India to learn more about the Dalits and to lend a helping hand.
I first heard about the Dalits of India a few years ago when I saw the film Amazing Grace,* a film about the 19th century struggle to abolish the African slave trade in England. It’s a powerful story about a crusade for mercy and justice, but it seemed like ancient history until a film footnote said that there is even more slavery in the world today than ever before; India alone has 250 million people are trapped in some form of slavery. That’s almost the entire population of the United States. I couldn’t believe that this could be true in the 21 century.

We here at Negative Outlook? hope Race to Witch Mountain is successful for Robb.

In the meantime, for your viewing entertainment, I can recommend The House Bunny, the heartwarming tale of Shelley Darlington, a Playboy bunny, played by Anna Faris,** who is kicked out of the Playboy Mansion and becomes a house mother to a down-on-their-luck sorority house.

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* great movie
** if you find you like Ms. Faris, which is not hard to do, check out Smiley Face, in which she portrays a stoner who eats a bunch of her roommates cupcakes, unaware that they are laced with marijuana and comedy ensues.

Monday, January 05, 2009

YOU CANNOT PETITION THE LORD WITH PRAYER!

"We are hoping and praying that they will not be able to deny what the Lord has ordained," Burris said Sunday night.