Saturday, November 15, 2008

Oh, God

The new Oregon football jerseys.

This is how Phil gets us back for the WRC thing.

Yes, these exist, and yes we are wearing them. Happen to be kicking Arizona's ass, but I don't think the jerseys are a factor.

PrimeTime Crime, Thyme

For reasons that no doubt pertain to my life story (yawn), I hold The Killing of a Chinese Bookie alongside seminal personal texts like Ulysses, Spiderland, and Larkin's Collected Poems. It's worth noting that the curatorial gods at Criterion have released the film in a deluxe, two-dvd package that includes Cassavettes' original cut, the theatrical version and a whole bleeping bunch of features. I'd've put it on one of my holiday wish lists, but I couldn't wait. Sunovagun is coming my way, asap! (Read the "Customer Review" for high praise from a civilian.)

Ross Macdonald, The Instant Enemy
The great thing about Ross Macdonald's coming-after Chandler is how, by extension, Macdonald's gumshoe protagonist Lew Archer confronts the late-60s, early-70s milieu that only a genius satirist like Roger Altman was capable of contriving for Philip Marlowe (in the film version of The Long Goodbye). Anyway, I inhaled this Archer gem in one sitting, another dry and eerily thoughtful installment in an unfuckwithable noir series. It deals with a poor little rich girl and LSD against the archetypal backdrop of rich and fucked up Southern California. What else could I want?

Richard Price, Lush Life
Wow, how haven't I read this guy before? He's the last of the hot shots from the Wire dream team (avec Simon, Pelecanos, Lehane) I've gotten to, and probably the one with the most critical esteem behind him going into that project. I read a lotta crime novels, kids, and let me tell you that this thing is as near-flawless as anything not attached to the name Mankell, albeit of a totally different style/tone/diction.
Holy shit! Set on the Lower East side, Lush Life is filled with cops, kids from the projects and a deep ensemble of "arty" also-rans living out their vie boheme in the believable, wage-labor terms we're all so familiar with. More than Pelecanos (and this is saying something, for me), Price rivals David Simon when it comes to serving up multiple socioeconomic strata at a time with his storytelling. And his dialogue is pitch-perfect, sonorous and just like life.

Lawrence Block, A Long Line of Dead Men
Another admirable installment in my beloved Matt Scudder series, though the plot centers on a contrived silly secret society that is below Block's usual standard of reasonableness. That said, even without a completely A+ plot line (it's an A-, no worse), there's still plenty to enjoy in Scudder's first person narration and Block's really fluent manner of setting things up. If you're interested, and don't want to start at the beginning, I recommend a Eight Million Ways to Die/When the Sacred Ginmill Closes book 7", both of which may be in my top 10 detective novels of all time.

Sat 5: Guilty viewing edition

When you're alone, you know there are DVD's you pop in that you don't necessarily want others to know how much you love. Share your favorite guilty viewing pleasures.

1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - Yes, I'm a Star Trek geek. Yes, this movie is teh awesome. KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!
2. Jackass - Both of them. I suppose there's something timeless about the comedic tradition of getting kicked in the nuts and other pratfalls. I'm eagerly awaiting Jackass III.
3. Half Baked - I still enjoy a stoner comedy, and one starring Dave Chappelle and featuring some awesome cameos (Willie Nelson! Jon Stewart!) really floats my boat.
4. Zoolander - Ben Stiller's finest role, or something.
5. Popeye - I actually know the words to many of the songs in this flick.

Embarrass yourself below.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Boardroom- National Ad for the Employee Free Choice Act

Underwhelming, though the message (if you think this is going to happen by itself, yr dreaming) is right on.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

3 Yes/No Questions post-Election

With Apologies to Greil Marcus, Here Comes the "New Weird America"

To be perfectly honest, I've felt little beyond weird, foreboding vibes since BHO's election. I kind of lead a catharsis-less life, tho, so that's not unusual. (Election Night did induce vomiting, if that means anything to anybody.)

That said, I'm completely enthralled by the new constellation, or the new conjuncture, or whatever-the-crap people want to call this moment besides "this moment." There is a Weird New series of questions floating out there in front of an insipid, Weird New Government - questions that pertain as much to the changing fate of neoliberalism as they pertain to the office of the presidency. Here goes:

1) Will Max Baucus lead us to universal health coverage for every damn man, woman and little woman/man? Avowed health-wonk-jedi Ezra Klein has been way out front, early and often, in profiling Committee Chairman Baucus and "bringing it" with the live coverage of the opening salvos. See for yourself.

2) Can a weak dollar, an energy crisis and a progressive government somehow cause manufacturing to "come back" to the USA in general, and bolster the labor movement in particular? Is it right to think of labor-management partnership when talk emerges of a cabinet-level "automotive czar"? Probably not, right? For some union activists, the question of manufacturing is fraught with a wide array of both hopeful and depressing connotations. If nothing else, the collision of the EFCA debate and the ongoing Detroit bailout guarantees that the media discourse around the labor movement will continue in the reified form of Movement conservatives and centrist pundits' endless riffing on "Big Labor" as a special interest akin to the gun lobby or evangelical christianity. Can somebody, for chrissakes, maybe once interview somebody from a labor union when they're talking about the labor movement?

3) Is Hank Paulson's recent bailout two-step a positive thing? We've moved from the so-called TARP initiative involving govt buyouts of "toxic" assets, to a new strategy of buying up preferred (but non-voting?!?) shares of bank stock. This sounds more like "nationalizing the banks," and thus might seem sensible to some of us. But at the same time, Paulson is certainly "calling an audible" when it comes to how the bailout and the buy-backs were framed. And while I am for nationalizing just about everything (including my hair and teeth), it would be nice if "our" stock in the banks allowed "us" some sort of authority vis a vis corporate governance.

In Loco Parentis

Suffer Luke Russert's palaver for a couple of minutes to get to Brian Williams going out of his way to make sure that Russert gets no loving on election night.

h/t: LGM

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Our thunder. Stolen.

First they rip off the name of our beloved GTFF newsletter.

Then they post content which, in a just world, would first appear on our blog.


Now, That's Free Market 'Stachitude!

John Stossel. There's a man we can all love. He's got the hardcore libertarianism. He's a host of 20/20. He's got the 'stach.

Today John is very, very worried that Obama might do something crazy, like think that the government can make anything better.

He says the air is filled with talk of FDR "ending the Great Depression" and Obama's need to emulate him. You and I have not heard such talk, mostly because anyone who goes through American History 103 at even the community college level, like I did, knows that one of the major talking points is that FDR did not end the Great Depression. Jesus-Blesus, this is a true/false question and a gimme at that.

John not only wants us to know that FDR did not end the Great Depression, he made it worse! In fact, FDR and his pal Herbert Hoover caused the Great Depression by interfering with natural market functions. Let me quote:
Please. FDR's "bold" moves didn't end the Depression. They prolonged it by discouraging capital investment. Hoover and Roosevelt turned what might have been a brief downturn into 10 years of double-digit unemployment.

Now, this runs counter to everything I know about the Great Depression, which I will admit isn't much. I mean, I thought it was a global crisis, which had its origins in multiple places, having something to do with German's inability to pay back the reparations mandated in the Treaty of Versailles, rampant speculation in the American stock market, something with the gold supply, and crop failure in India. Alright, that last one I might be making up. I only vaguely remember.

So I was skeptical about Stossel's claim, but being a sophisticated blogger, I noticed that he included link. This was bad news. A fucking link. A link that will surely take me to a a devastating argument proving that not only did FDR not solve the Great Depression, but, in fact!, caused it. Before I clicked it, I sent up a brief prayer that my father-in-law never get hold of this magic link, or my holidays would be ruined from here on in (ha!). Then I clicked it. Have you clicked it? Click it now, it'll be alright.

Ha! (To be read in that high-pitched laugh Chris Matthews has that let's you know that no matter how much you agree with the man, he's clearly crazy and should be nowhere near a television camera). John got me/us. His link only goes to a chart proving that unemployment went way up before FDR became president then dropped back down after. Slowly, but steadily. Until 1937. What happened in 1937? Let me think back to those history classes. Hmmm...I seem to remember that after being elected to a second term, FDR decided to try to balance the budget by slashing government spending and ending welfare programs, and the economy tanked. So..the opposite? of the point Stossel is trying to make?

Stossel also warns us about the dangers of government getting in the business of interfering with the economy, as it inevitably leads to...well, he doesn't really say. The title of the article mentions serfdom, his commenters run to fascism and socialism, but in that Jonah Goldberg they're-the-same-thing type way, and Stalin gets a few mentions. I only wish there was some massive government intervention in the American economy that didn't result in a massive loss of freedom by the American people I could point to so as to refute Mr. Stossel.

As always, don't read the comments.

Surprised Not to See My Name

Digby has a post up about a flowchart (of questionable origin) describing the possibles at various cabinet levels.

She seems to think that the Powell listing as a possible at Defense and State is a joke, I, again, fall back on the political favors argument. Powell endorsed Obama at a time when the race seemed to be tightening, his name on the list might be payback enough. Or Obama could be signaling to moderate GOP members that if they play ball with him, he'll play it back.

On a related note, I was telling Ging about my post defending Obama's consideration of Summers and other neoliberal, corporatist swine and the trouble, if only imaginary, it caused me. I, of course, had to explain who Summers is. She immediately became outraged that Obama would consider appointing a sexist to anything and said that she wanted to retract her vote. My explanation that no one was particularly upset about Summers "sexism" did not help. My explanation that the reaction the "science and math" speech was less about sexism as it was that Summers relied on a biological determinist argument in a socially constructed world did not help.

I now join you all in fervently hoping that Summers ain't appointed to shit.

Hopefully seeing RFK, Jr.'s name at EPA and Al Gore as Climate Czar might cool her fire. And that's politics!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Party of Hate

Just listened to a Talk of the Nation segment on how the Republicans can recover from the last two election defeats.

Fortunately, for you and I, the callers all seemed to be in agreement that the way forward was through an emphasis on "social issues," or as we like to call it, "hate." It seems that the more they can hate gays, immigrants, taxes, and single mothers, the better off they'll be.

Unfortunately for you and I, there were GOP spokespersons on the program that seemed to realize that while the anti-gay marriage stance is currently a winner, the trend it toward more gay rights. Young people especially aren't going for the anti-gay thing. Blacks and Latinos might be going for it, but they are unlikely to be voting Republican in significant numbers any time soon.

The best part was listening to them talk about immigration as if flat-out racism had nothing to do with it. Everyone was very eager to make sure that everyone else knew that Republicans were not anti-immigrant, but rather anti-illegal immigrant. Too bad they have all fallen into the habit of dropping the "illegal" part whenever they speak about the issue for more than three sentences. Apparently, GOP passions get stirred up on this issue, not because of the color of anyone's skin or the ways of their culture (heaven's no!), but rather the fact that illegal immigrants have, by definition, broken the law, and that is something that will just set the blood to boiling. Lord knows, the GOP has taken a strong stand against any illegality.

Santorum seemed like he wanted to jump out of his chair and give full-throated support to the "social issues" agenda, but he also wants to be president in 2013, so he kept it to a minimum.

Oh, this is fun.

Change is

There's a fair number of people out there who - despite witnessing spontaneous worldwide street parties - are having a hard time actually grasping that this election really was about change and that more change is possible. That includes the vast majority of the Right and a decidedly small fragment of the Left. The former maintain that nothing's changed because we're still a center-right nation; the latter attributes stasis to Obama's centrism.

The Right is, of course, delusional, as dave has been busy (and I suspect will continue to be busy) documenting. The farther Left has a valid criticism, but misses the larger point.

While not discounting the change at the very top, it is the change in the attitudes and actions of the citizenry that is remarkable. Consider this: a presidential candidate spoke openly of sacrifice to the electorate and won. Before last Tuesday, there were very few people alive who could say they'd ever seen that. Not only that, during the campaign that sense of sacrifice was palpable - the Obama campaign ran on a huge and extraordinarily well-trained group of volunteers. Moreover, Obama carried professionals making over $200K - those who were explicitly told would have their taxes raised. A pluarality of Americans believed Obama was going to raise their taxes. They didn't care.

There's two things I carry from this - 1) A motivated chunk of the electorate understands the gravity of our current situation and is willing to sacrifice in order to meet those challenges and 2) this portion of the electorate now believes that it can rise to meet these challenges - after all, we just helped elect a black man to be President of the United States.

All of this is to say that in the past four years, a formidable, well-trained, and broadly-based left-wing grassroots coalition has matured. It will be mobilized to provide political cover for the initial pieces of the president-elect's agenda. It can be mobilized to pull that agenda a little further to the left.

There are millions of people ready to get to work transforming this country. Engage with them.


Ad on Facebook.

I have no idea, though. Anyone shave the chest on a regular basis? Getting tired of it? Is the chest here used as a place holder for other areas?

A Is A

Our good friend Ayn Rand taught us that there are no contradictions in this world.* If we arrive at an apparent contradiction, then we must reexamine our premises to find our error. This bit o' thinking is serving our friends across the aisle well these days, as they are forced to reexamine their premises. Here's what they had pre-election:

1. America is a center-right country.
2. Obama is a socialist-Marxist-terrorist.
3. Therefore, America will not elect Obama president.

Obama's election is an apparent contradiction, premises must be reexamined.

Obviously, one course of action would to be to blame the media for convincing Americans that they are not, in fact, center-right. And, as we know, there has been much blaming of the media. Never before in the history of mankind has the media been so in the tank for one candidate. Just look a Jay Leno's monologues for Christ's sake. (Oh, God, please don't. You'll hurt yourself.)

The problem here is that A is A. To suppose that the media could convince Americans to temporarily forget that they are center-right would be to acknowledge that A is sometimes not A, which causes a rip in the fabric of space-time, which could be dangerous, given that, as of yet, we have no way of routing a tachyon beam through the deflector shield.

So we must go back to those original premises. Perhaps the easiest route would be to conclude that maybe there is a fundamental problem with the first premise. To do so would be treason.

So, we must look at the second premise, that Obama is a socialist-Marxist-terrorist. Thank God for Sherlock Holmes, am I right? He taught us that when one has eliminated all possible solutions, save one, that one answer has to be correct, no matter how illogical. Let's take another stab at our logic puzzle, shall we?

1. America is a center-right country.

We know this is correct, because to believe otherwise carries implications too frightening to contemplate. Plus, conservatives really, really want to trumpet exit polling showing that voters identify conservative.

2. ???

3. Therefore, Obama wins the presidency.

What could fill that spot? America is center-right and Obama won. Then, logically, Obama must be center-right? No? Yes!

No one has put this as explicitly as Brent Bozell, but it ungirds the whole "If Obama governs from the left, then he'll lose the American people" line of bullshit.

And this same line of thinking explains the "Bush as liberal" line that was being advanced and is now accepted dogma all over wingnutia. His failure can only be explained by his being a liberal.

Obama is a Reaganite, while Bush is a big-government liberal. Good to know that even after the election, for some people white is still black and black is still white.

*I am aware that is not original to Rand, but like all good Americans I believe in only two philosophizers, Jesus and Rand, in that order.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Into the sunset

Beloved readers - with the conclusion of the 2008 presidential elections, I'm sad to inform you that we'll be retiring the "Maverick" label, that is, unless someone decides to get all post-partisan and nominate McCain to run Veteran Affairs (which would really, really suck). But before we bid adieu to that venerable label that has served us so well these past... how long have we been blogging here? Oh - served us, yadda yadda, we'd like to honor the man who inspired the label with what every True American Hero deserves: a photo montage set to a grunge-lite power ballad.

So long Mavericky McMaverick, and thanks for all the fish.

Music, sweet music

It is way better to be having a conversation about the difficulties in shutting down Gitmo than one about the necessity of maintaining it.

I'd also like to hear about people being held responsible for that particular criminal site, please.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Gods Must Have Moved to Australia

When I first saw this, I thought it was a joke. About halfway through I realized that it was a joke, but in a different sense than I originally meant.

The Games We Play(ed)

Conversation down thread leads me to ask what competitive drinking games did you all play when you were in the age range of 16-26? (I put it this way instead of "in college" because I went to undergrad late and in graduate school the only competitive drinking I did involved seeing which would last longer, the pain or my liver.)

I'll start.

High school it was quarters. We played full cup of beer, bounce the quarter in the cup of beer, assign the cup to be drained, recover quarter, repeat. This game was not great for me in that until I was 25 or so, I could never burb. Not on command, mind you, but at all. So after chugging a few brewhas, I was bloated like a guy with three or four beers' worth of carbon dioxide building up in his stomach. I later discovered speed quarters, which was very fun, and burbing, which is just practical.

Post high school quarters were still played, but other games came up. Does anyone know "three man"? You roll dice and when certain number combination come up, a mini game was played or a certain function had to be preformed. We usually had "categories" when an eight came up. The roller would call a category, say "cars" and you'd go around the circle and have to name types of cars. When one repeated or the person couldn't think of one, they had to drink. Of course, the three man drank every time a three was rolled. It sucked to be the three man.

We also played a very epic game called "New Kids on the Block." My friend Mark had a deck of cards wherein the face cards were the five New Kids. The game was played like a combination of rummy and poker, where you went around the table and had to take the card off the top of the pile or draw, then discard. You were trying to collect a high poker hand. If you thought you had it, you had to call "New Kids" and everyone had one more chance to draw to beat you. In this last round cheating was freely encouraged. I don't know how many times I asked someone if it would possible for them to "slip me a Joe, if they had it." The highest hand was an NKOTB straight, holding all the New Kids, worth ten points. Or in our parlance, 10 drinks to assign out as the winner saw fit. If you called "New Kids" and lost, then you automatically had 10 drinks and had to pray you weren't assigned the other 10. A drink was commonly thought to be an ounce, but less strictly enforced as the game wore on. It sounds lame, but no one who played New Kids failed to enjoy it. Games would go on for hours. I wish I could play it with you all right now.

What you got?

Oh, the Places We'll Go

I am in Raleigh, home of...well not sure what Raleigh is the home of other than the NC State Wolfpack and the Carolina Hurricanes (hockey). I sure am looking forward to discovering things!

Ging and I went out last night. We're staying near the NC State campus, so we we're in a campus neighborhood, which fits right into our comfort zone. Here are some stray observations.

Our first reminder we were in the South came in the form of people smoking in the bars. It really wasn't so bad, although Ginger seems to think our clothes bear a permanent smokey smelly, so those pants and sweaters are out for a re-wear.

I order the house special chicken wings at a place called the East Village Bar and Grill, which our hotel's guide claimed to have the best appetizers in town. Now, I would not say I am a wing man normally, but when in Rome, right? Ordering a dozen chicken wings, I expect, well, what everyone expects when they order chicken wings, but I got a basket full of whole chicken wings. Still all tri-folded and everything. I immediately regretted having ordered the BLT to go with my "appetizer." Can't say they were all that spectacular, either. But then, they are just chicken wings.

On our way to another bar that was advertising that they were showing the Calzaghe - Jones Jr. pay-per-view fight, we stopped at a convenience store to get Ginger some conditioner. I had only been in the South for about three hours at that point, but
I came face-to-face with a walking stereotype. White guy, red hair, white dress shirt with light pink either stripes or checks, navy blue sweater vest, khaki pants. It was the notorious Southern Frat Boy come to life. Not only that, but he was carrying on about the doings "back at the house." Had I been here a week earlier, I would have applauded the perfection of the costume. As it was, I just tried to call Bob to get some snark in.

Finally we get to the bar. We're practically the only ones there and the only people interested in watching the fight. I guess this is why bars don't buy the ppv for these things. We watched a crappy undercard fight and we're in the middle of the main undercard fight when the bartenders and their friends haul out a table and put it in front of the teevee. Apparently, someone had decided it was time for some beer pong. Sure, set up the beer pong table in front of the only teevee anyone in the joint is watching. All of this was fine, as really I only had one guy's head blocking the screen every now and again. I have never seen people work so hard to drink 30 oz of Bud Light. With one round to go before the main event, they decide that beer bong wasn't good enough, they need some tunes to go with the pong, so they turn down the volume on the fight and put on some middling rock. Ginger identified it as Soundgarden, but I wasn't so sure and it sure as hell wasn't Badmotorfinger. We left. I don't think they noticed.

Other than that, not much has happened. We rented a car. I asked for a compact, they gave us a "Specialty/Novelty" car. I am driving a Chevy HHR LS. Oy. The turn signal noise is really high pitched "clickity-click" that never fails to draw laughs. There's no trip odometer, so no tenth of a mile reading, which can come in handy on a rental car, and I have a hard time not feeling like a git driving it. And of course, a rock hit the windshield and chipped it. Like any good American, I am trying to call the rental agency to tell them that the chip was already there, but they don't seem to be big on answering the phone.

These are just the beginnings of a week in vacation land. I have eaten nothing but meat in the last 24 hours, so I am sure some Courtneyesque bowel-blogging is coming up.