Memorial Day is meant for remembering those who died in military service (a worthy commemoration). It's also a holiday that naturally spurs thoughts of civilians killed in war, of living veterans and how they're treated, and how war is discussed in our country. It's only right to pause and remember the dead. And perhaps the best way to honor them the other days of the year is by challenging the belligerati who believe that casually and aggressively endorsing war or torture somehow makes them tough or makes the nation safer. Requiring a high threshold for war shouldn't be a political calculation; it's the position of basic sanity. Unfortunately, saber-rattling insanity is both fashionable and profitable in some circles, and rarely seems to draw the same condemnations that wiser, less bellicose positions do.
This weekend, PBS broadcast a short documentary about The Telling Project, which uses theater to help military veterans talk through their experiences, from losing a limb, to being raped, to PTSD, to contemplating suicide. One of the veterans remarked that 'there's no bigger pacifist than a deployed serviceman.' Rather than letting our national discussions of war be hijacked by the braggadocio of the insecure, the cruel, the calculating and the delusional, we'd benefit from considering the harsh realities of war instead. Rather than letting tough guy (and tough gal) fantasies reign, we should seek out true stories. Rather than letting another bombastic speech from an irresponsible ignoramus dictate the terms of discourse, we should give time to veterans and civilians affected by war, and quietly listen.
Donald J. Trump, the Manhattan real estate mogul who boasts about his wealth, maintains a fleet of aircraft and sells his own brand of neckties, paid respects on Sunday to an incongruous constituency.
“Look at all these bikers,” Mr. Trump, standing before a crowd in front of the Lincoln Memorial, said with admiration. “Do we love the bikers? Yes. We love the bikers.”
Mr. Trump was addressing a gathering at the 29th annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle run, a vast event over Memorial Day weekend that is dedicated to accounting for military members taken as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action.
Bikers assembled at the Pentagon before riding en masse into the nation’s capital, with many dressed in leather vests covered in patches, their bikes rumbling throughout the afternoon.
For the blunt-spoken Mr. Trump, who likes to stress his desire to strengthen the military and improve how veterans are treated, the gathering provided a receptive audience, if one where he might otherwise seem out of place.
“He speaks what’s on his mind and means what he says,” said Tom Christian, 43, a heating and air-conditioning contractor from Tennessee. “And that’s what a biker does. That’s the way we are: We say what we think. If you like it, you like it. If you don’t, go the other way.”
He didn't always like the Harley boys so much:
Campaigning in Wisconsin in March, Mr. Trump observed that Mr. Walker was “always on a Harley.I’m not a huge biker, I have to be honest with you, O.K.?” Mr. Trump added. “I always liked the limo better.”
I guess that whole Fortunate Son thing is no longer operative. Trump forgot to go to Vietnam. In fact he forgot which foot he injured that prevented him from going to Vietnam. But it's all good. He hates Mexicans and he hates Muslims and he probably hates a whole bunch of other people who deserve to hated so he's all good. Plus he's really, really rich.
The Supreme Court is being asked to take up a bankruptcy dispute involving the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and to decide whether to restore the health and pension benefits of more than 1,000 casino workers.
At issue is a conflict between labor laws that call for preserving collective bargaining agreements and bankruptcy laws that allow a judge to reorganize a business to keep it in operation.
“This is about how a bankruptcy was used to transfer value from working people to the super-rich,” said Richard G. McCracken, general counsel for Unite Here, the hotel and casino workers’ union that appealed to the high court.
Billionaire Carl Icahn stepped in to buy the casino – founded by Donald Trump – after it filed for bankruptcy in 2014.
As the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals said in January, Trump’s “plan of reorganization was contingent on the rejection of the collective bargaining agreement,” also known as the CBA, with the union. Icahn promised a “capital infusion of $100 million” to keep the casino in operation, but “only if the CBA and tax relief contingencies are achieved.”
This is about how a bankruptcy was used to transfer value from working people to the super-rich.— Richard G. McCracken, general counsel for Unite Here
With that understanding, the Philadelphia-based appeals court upheld a bankruptcy judge’s order that canceled the health insurance and pension contributions called for in the union’s contract. “It is preferable to preserve jobs through a rejection of a CBA, as opposed to losing the positions permanently,” wrote Judge Jane Roth.
The union is urging the Supreme Court to review and reverse that ruling, arguing the labor laws call for preserving collective bargaining agreements, even if they expire during a bankruptcy. The National Labor Relations Board agreed and filed a brief in the support of the casino workers union when the case was before the 3rd Circuit.
The appeal petition in Unite Here Local 54 vs. Trump Entertainment Resorts argues the bankruptcy judge wrongly allowed the casino management to bypass the union.
“On Sept. 9, 2014, Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc., and its affiliated debtors including Trump filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code,” the union told the justices. On Sept. 26, Trump filed a motion with the bankruptcy judge “seeking to reject the collective bargaining agreement and implement different terms proposed by Trump.”
Union officials and Trump’s representatives met twice to discuss a new contract, but were unable to agree. The bankruptcy judge then granted Trump’s motion on Oct. 17, 2014.
“Trump immediately implemented the changes in terms and conditions of employment that the Union had rejected. It ceased making contributions to the pension, health and welfare, and severance funds that provided benefits to Trump’s employees. It expanded its own authority to consolidate positions, assign work and subcontract, which resulted in layoffs and loss of pay,” the union said.
In February, shortly after the appeals court ruling, the casino emerged from bankruptcy. While Trump’s name remains on the property, Icahn is the new owner.
The justices met Thursday to vote on dozens of pending appeals, including the union’s case against Trump Entertainment Resorts. The court will issue orders on Tuesday morning and could announce whether it will hear the case.
Union General John Logan is often credited with founding Memorial Day. The commander-in-chief of a Union veterans’ organization called the Grand Army of the Republic, Logan issued a decree establishing what was then named “Decoration Day” on May 5, 1868, declaring it “designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”
Today, cities across the North and South claim credit for establishing the first Decoration Day—from Macon, Georgia to Richmond, Virginia to Carbondale, Illinois. Yet, a key origin story of the holiday has been nearly erased from public memory and most official accounts, including that offered by the the Department of Veterans Affairs.
During the spring of 1865, African-Americans in Charleston, South Carolina—most of them former slaves—held a series of memorials and rituals to honor unnamed fallen Union soldiers and boldly celebrate the struggle against slavery. One of the largest such events took place on May first of that year but had been largely forgotten until David Blight, a history professor at Yale University, found records at a Harvard archive. In a New York Times article published in 2011, Blight described what he considers to be the first Memorial Day:
During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the city’s Washington Race Course and Jockey Club into an outdoor prison. Union captives were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand.
After the Confederate evacuation of Charleston black workmen went to the site, reburied the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”
The symbolic power of this Low Country planter aristocracy’s bastion was not lost on the freedpeople, who then, in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers, staged a parade of 10,000 on the track. A New York Tribune correspondent witnessed the event, describing “a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before.”
The procession was led by 3,000 black schoolchildren carrying armloads of roses and singing the Union marching song “John Brown’s Body.” Several hundred black women followed with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantrymen. Within the cemetery enclosure a black children’s choir sang “We’ll Rally Around the Flag,” the “Star-Spangled Banner” and spirituals before a series of black ministers read from the Bible.
After the dedication the crowd dispersed into the infield and did what many of us do on Memorial Day: enjoyed picnics, listened to speeches and watched soldiers drill. Among the full brigade of Union infantrymen participating were the famous 54th Massachusetts and the 34th and 104th United States Colored Troops, who performed a special double-columned march around the gravesite.
This origin story of Memorial Day, also reported by Victoria M. Massie of Vox, was not merely excluded from the history books but appears to have been actively suppressed. The park where the race course prison camp once stood was eventually named Hampton Park after the Confederate General Wade Hampton who became South Carolina’s governor following the civil war.
"We can certainly argue about the way in which Snowden did what he did, but I think that he actually performed a public service by raising the debate that we engaged in and by the changes that we made."
That quote is from former Attorney General Eric Holder.
*In fairness he did say he thought what Snowden did was illegal and harmful but felt that the public service aspect of his revelations mitigated that enough that a judge should take it into account in any sentencing. The funny thing is that the law won't allow that evidence to be considered. But otherwise great idea ... digby 5/30/2016 09:30:00 AM
Whither the Democrats?
by Tom Sullivan
A story about California Governor Jerry Brown in the New York Times comes as friends ponder just where the Democratic Party goes in the wake of the 2016 presidential primary. (I'm not the one here to comment on California politics, but I've got the 3-hour news jump.)
Whether a hard rain is gonna fall or not this year will depend on how the party appeals to the wave of energized voters who support Bernie Sanders and whether it can energize those who support Hillary Clinton. Putting aside arguments about the process, it is undeniable that there are broad bases in the party for both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Party leadership that is typically ham-fisted about finding any kind of message would be foolish not to take to heart themes that have energized Sanders' base and led to his strong showing nationwide. Adam Nagourney suggests Jerry Brown can show them how it's done:
Mr. Brown is in many ways a blend of these two very different candidates, having created a style that has made him an enduringly popular and successful California governor. And it is not only Mr. Brown: The California Democratic Party stands as a model of electoral success and cohesion, in contrast to national Democrats struggling through a divisive primary and debate about an uncertain future.
California is one of the few states in the country, and easily the largest, where Democrats are completely in control, holding every statewide office as well as overwhelming majorities in the Assembly and the Senate, not to mention both United States Senate seats. Mr. Brown and his party are using that power to try to enact legislation — on guns, tobacco, the environment, the minimum wage and immigrant rights — that suggest the kind of agenda that has eluded national Democrats.
On big reason for that is demographics. As the Latino population has grown, Republican registration has shrunk. Republican governor Pete Wilson's 1994 initiative to cut off social services for illegal immigrants didn't help, Nagourney writes. But Brown's popularity is more than that:
“Jerry Brown is a unique combination of the leadership qualities of Hillary and Bernie,” said Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor, who is running to succeed Mr. Brown when his term ends in early 2019. “Jerry is extraordinarily adept at populism. But he also has the hardheaded pragmatism that comes with experience, wisdom — and age.”
It certainly seems appealing to California voters: According the latest Field Poll in April, 55 percent approved of his performance. But he has not endorsed anyone in the presidential primary on June 7, and it is difficult to say whether voters prefer the Sanders or the Clinton side of their governor. A poll last week by the Public Policy Institute of California found Mr. Sanders and Mrs. Clinton essentially tied, a surprise to Mrs. Clinton who had expected California to be a relatively easy win. As a result, both candidates are making frequent appearances here, and are advertising on television, in advance of the primary.
Newsome goes on the say that Brown will be hard to replace because he has "figured it out" and found the "sweet spot.”
Endless online discussions among activist friends (pre 2016) about building progressive infrastructure as the way to advance policy goals have given way to near-religious ones about whether the soul of the Democratic Party is redeemable. Perhaps that is because the focus is and has been what happens in Washington more than what happens in the states. Republican gains across the country in 2010 and 2014 did not just happen because of the collapse of the Obama coalition (Democratic failure in Washington), but because of REDMAP and good organizing in the states by Republicans as Democrats napped. It is something national Democrats have neglected since Howard Dean's fifty-state strategy got tossed, sure, but long-term coalition building is often just not sexy enough or immediate enough for new activists. They want to fight the big, high-profile fights when the real action where things get done is more local. Finding the sweet spot between national and local focus seems to elude progressives as a movement, especially during presidential years.
I live in a state taken over by a T-party legislature that has passed one of the worst voter ID bills in the country, drafted absolutely diabolical redistricting maps, passed HB2 as a get-out-the-vote tool, and launches regular legislative attacks against our cities where the largest block of blue votes are. President Bernie isn’t going to fix that for me. Neither is President Hillary. And not in Michigan or Wisconsin either. We have to beat them ourselves. Here, not in the Electoral College.
But friends on the left now talk about the Democratic Party the way conservatives talk about “the gummint,” as though it is some sort of monolithic beast with agency of its own apart from that of its voters and activists. I get it. That’s how it looks if your focus is Washington. It looks a mite different out here in the provinces where we’re fighting the border wars. Sometimes out here — and more regularly than every four years — we get to win. That’s what keeps us going. Because the battle never ends.
If we are going to talk about sustainability, it is the smaller wins that sustain us for the long haul, not just the marquee battles. If you don't show up to play, you forfeit. But showing up — consistently — really improves your chance of winning and of building that infrastructure we so often complain of lacking.
What is perennially impressive about California is how state and local initiatives begun there seem to migrate east. That makes them worth doing and perhaps makes their national impact more long-lasting. Maybe that's what Jerry Brown figured out.
A reader pointed out to me that my Friday night soother this week was somewhat political even though it featured an adorable wallaby and therefore cannot be considered truly soothing. Since the name Trump was even mentioned in the video I had to agree.
Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort is known for his convention shows back in the 1980s. I think he did Reagan 84. He's been promising an extravagant show in Cleveland to nominate Trump, a show like we've never seen before.
Well, they just set the bar pretty darned high at the Libertarian convention:
Meditating on everything from Trump's rise to his fractious relationship with Jeb Bush, Rubio revisited nearly every turn of his presidential run in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper that aired Sunday on "State of the Union." The former presidential candidate, who has grudgingly said he will support Trump in November, also admitted a series of mistakes that he says eventually bedeviled his campaign.
Chief among those, Rubio has said, was belittling Trump for the size of his hands in the leadup to Super Tuesday, which he has publicly said he regrets. But Rubio went further when speaking with Tapper.
"I actually told Donald -- one of the debates, I forget which one -- I apologized to him for that," Rubio said. "I said, 'You know, I'm sorry that I said that. It's not who I am and I shouldn't have done it.' I didn't say it in front of the cameras, I didn't want any political benefit."
I don't think Trump returned the favor. But I'm sure he liked seeing Lil' Marco grovel. That's what he lives for.
Rubio went on to say that he thinks Trump is a great "change agent" (what kind of change he doesn't specify) and indicated he was ready to join the Trump party.
Fareed Zakaria: Brett, I have to ask you ,you have written eloquently against Donald Trump on the ticket. The rest of the Republican establishment has pretty much collapsed and surrendered to his not particularly warm embrace. Are you going to vote for Donald Trump in the fall.
Stephens: I most certainly will not vote for Donald Trump. I will vote for the least left wing opponent to Donald Trump and I will want to make a vote that will make sure he is the biggest loser in presidential history since Alf Landon or going back further. It's important that Donald Trump and what he represents, this "ethnic conservatism or populism" be so decisively rebuked that the Republican party and Republican voters will forever learn their lesson that they cannot nominate a man so manifestly unqualified to be president in any way shape or form. They have to learn a lesson the way Democrats learned in 72. George Will has said lets have him lose 50 states. Why not Guam, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia too?
You'll notice that he doesn't use the usual cheap dodge about how Trump isn't a "real conservative." He makes the argument on the right grounds: Trump is "manifestly unqualified in any way, shape or form."
This is what's at stake. It's not a game and it isn't about ideology. It's about the fact that this loon is unfit. There are a few Republicans who are willing to say this out loud. But most are like Lil' Marco --- selling out whatever is left of their integrity for a favor from The Donald.
This is the litmus test of litmus tests. Did you speak up when the party nominates someone who is manifestly unqualified or not?
I hadn't heard this but it's either true or it's a sign of paranoia behind the scenes:
KARL: OK, one more question before you go. The New York Times reported that some on your campaign staff believe that the campaign headquarters there at Trump Tower has been bugged. What's going on with that?
MANAFORT: I don't know who said that. Certainly there are people probably would like to, because there's a lot of good work going on there and we've been able to develop a campaign that is cohesive, that's working together, and in a record time thanks to a great candidate who has got a vision and connected to the American people, put the campaign in a position to win the presidency.
And so we're going to continue to move forward...
KARL: But do you believe your campaign headquarters has been bugged?
MANAFORT: Do I believe it? No, I don't believe it. But I don't know who said that.
KARL: All right. Paul Manafort, thank you for joining us.
No, the campaign is not cohesive and their candidate is in so far over his head that he's drowning in his own bile at this point.
Gordon Dahl at the University of California, San Diego and Enrico Moretti at the University of California, Berkeley noticed more than a decade ago that men are more likely to marry, and stay married to, women who bore them sons rather than daughters. In an analysis of American census data, they found that men were more inclined to propose to their partners if they discovered that a baby in utero was a boy, and they were less prone to getting a divorce if the first child was a boy rather than a girl. In the event of divorce, men with sons were more likely to get custody, and women with daughters were less likely to remarry.
To confirm this relationship between sons and marital harmony, Laura Giuliano, an economist at the University of Miami, analysed a survey of parents of children born in America between 1998 and 2000. She found that couples with a son were indeed more likely to be married three years after the birth of their child than those with a daughter. This effect can be seen in data on households across a number of rich countries, which show that adolescent boys are more likely than girls to live with both biological parents. The difference is small – in America, for example, 39% of 12- to 16-year-old girls live without their biological father in the house, compared with 36% of 12- to 16-year-old boys – but consistent. “I have never found a single statistic on a father’s presence in the household that didn’t have a significant gender difference,” says Shelly Lundberg, an economist who specialises in family behaviour at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
What is going on here? Do fathers simply prefer sons? Or are there other forces that bind fathers to homes with boys?
Part of the appeal of having a child of the same sex as oneself is what Pharaon calls the “mini-me phenomenon”: parents hope to create someone who is both similar to and better than themselves. By granting their children opportunities that they themselves lacked, and by behaving as the parents they always wanted, many seek to remove the same obstacles they believe were set on their own paths as they were growing up. “A lot of parents will see themselves through their child. They think, ‘Here is where I can get it right’,” Pharaon says.
This desire is hardly exclusive to men. Faith, a woman in her mid-60s with long dark hair, concedes that it was “kind of a relief” to have daughters. “There’s something we have in common,” she says of her three girls, now women in their 30s. “At each stage of their lives I would relate to how I felt at that age, and what I wished my mom said to me.”
But among fathers, this preference is plainly more profound. Sean Grover, a family psychotherapist in New York and author of the book “When Kids Call the Shots”, suggests that this is because men often feel less intuitive as parents than women do. Mothers offer babies their first opportunity for attachment; their bodies are literally essential for nourishment. Many fathers find it takes longer to connect with their children, not only because they lack that physical bond, but also because they are often stuck at work during the day. “A lot of men complain that when the baby arrives they don’t know what to do with themselves,” says Grover. “Once you get past their bravado, they are really lost.” Some men, says Pharaon, “attach themselves to the idea that at least my boy will need me to throw a ball around.” They feel a sense of purpose in the job of modelling what it means to be a man.
Fathers also like to see themselves as “the fun dad who takes their kids places,” says Grover. Mothers often get stuck with the lion’s share of routine child care – all the cleaning and feeding and whatnot – whereas fathers tend to swoop in for more recreational experiences. So it makes sense that the activities they are most eager to share are the ones they enjoy themselves. Nick, a journalist in his early 50s with two sons, aged 22 and 14, adds that men in general tend to like “bonding over a third object”, such as technology or sports, which can seem easier to do with a boy. “Men are much more gendered in their behaviour, and in their expectations of the behaviour of their kids, than women are,” says Michael Lamb, a professor of psychology at the University of Cambridge whose research investigates parent-child relationships. “Fathers tend to be more involved and engaged with sons than with daughters, and this distinction only gets more marked over time.”
A new study of California’s paid-leave benefit, for example, found that fathers were twice as likely to take paternity leave for a son than a daughter. American time-diary data from 2003 to 2006 found that married fathers with a child between six and 12 years old spent nearly 40 more minutes per day with sons than with daughters, mostly doing things like playing sports and watching television. In married families with two children of the same sex, fathers with sons spent between 22 and 27 minutes more per day on child care, and said they had less leisure time than those with daughters. Married mothers, on the other hand, spent only around six minutes more per day with a daughter than a son.
I think this is all pretty primitive stuff. I have, for instance, known plenty of women who favored their sons as the "keeper of the family legacy" which is also plainly gendered stuff.These currents run deep. And they manifest themselves in the wider culture in ways we are not always fully aware of. None of these fathers are bad people who don't love their daughters. That's not the point.
The reason I bring this particular story up is just to illustrate in another small way that gender affects our thinking in ways we don't necessarily consciously comprehend or purposefully act upon. These gender roles are more primal than any other form of human interaction, going all the way back to the caves. If one genuinely believes in freedom and equality, to dismiss it, to not care about it, to think that it isn't real is ... wrong. And it's disorienting and painful for those of us who know it is real, who see the subtleties in this dynamic everyday, who feel this gendered imbalance in our culture, to hear people tell us it isn't happening. Just saying.
Politics and Reality Radio with Joshua Holland: LOL James O’Keefe; Do Sanders’ Supporters Favor His Policies?
by Joshua Holland
This week, we're joined by LA Times reporter Matt Pearce, who parachuted into Minnesota to report on a terror trial of three Somali-Americans and ended up with a much more interesting story of a refugee community trying to carve out a piece of the American Dream.
Then we speak with Princeton University political scientist Christopher Achen, who co-authored a piece in the NY Times this week arguing that people tend to choose a candidate based on their "inherited partisan loyalties, social identities and symbolic attachment," rather than the candidate's policy positions.
Then Ed Kilgore, the NY Magazine columnist, drops by to talk about the State Department's IG report on Hillary Clinton's email brouhaha. We keep that one short and to the point.
And finally, Digby joins us to point and laugh at right-wing dirty trickster James O'Keefe, who recently managed to sting himself when he failed to hang up his phone before articulating his scheme to burn George Soros' Open Society Foundation.
Musical theme this week is TV theme-songs!
CBS Orchestra: "Theme from Hawaii-5-0"
Sammy Davis, Jr.: "Baretta's Theme"
Jerry Scoggins: "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" (Beverly Hillbillies)
The Blues Brothers: "Rawhide"
Mike Post: "Hill Street Blues"
Interspersed with Dave Weigel's dispatches from the Libertarian National Convention in Orlando, a clip from Idiocracy came across the Twitter feed yesterday and for some reason it wouldn't get out of my head after that. From Think Progress:
Speaking to an audience in California on Friday, presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump told the crowd “there is no drought” in their state.
Trump claimed there isn’t a real water shortage. Instead, he said, state officials are intentionally denying water to farmers in the middle of the state — choosing to reroute the water to the ocean to protect an endangered California fish called the delta smelt.
“It is so ridiculous where they’re taking the water and shoving it out to sea,” Trump said. “There is no drought. They turn the water out into the ocean.”
Trump said that if he were president, he'd have a simple solution.
“If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive," Trump said according to USA Today.
"Believe me." (Have we ever seen a candidate with a more obvious "tell"?) Trump is going to surround himself with the very best people. TOP people. He's got this guy, Not Sure. He'll fix the problems with all the dead crops and the dust storms.
Proving once again that she is not merely laughable but deeply disgusting, in another speech in San Diego warming up for Trump, Palin criticized President Obama for going to Hiroshima this week, calling his visit an “apology lap.”
“You mess with our freedom,” Palin bellowed, “we’ll put a boot in your ass. It’s the American way.”
The crowd lapped it up, chanting, “USA! USA! USA!”
How long before one of them pulls an automatic weapon from behind the podium and fires a burst into the air for emphasis?
Since Memorial Day weekend signals the warm-up to the summer travel season, I thought I would address those stirrings of wanderlust by sharing my picks for the Top 10 road movies. As usual, the list is in alphabetical order. So…fill ‘er up and check the oil!
Five Easy Pieces– “You see this sign?” Thanks to sharp direction from Bob Rafaelson, a memorable screenplay by Carole Eastman (billed in the credits as Adrien Joyce) and an outstanding, iconic performance by Jack Nicholson, this remains one of the defining American road movies of the 1970s. Nicholson was born to play the protagonist in this character study about a disillusioned, classically-trained pianist from a moneyed family, working at soulless blue-collar jobs and teetering on the edge of an existential meltdown. Karen Black gives one of her better performances as his long-suffering girlfriend. The late great DP Laszlo Kovacs makes excellent use of the verdant, rain-soaked Pacific Northwest milieu. And remember where to hold the chicken salad…
Genevieve – A marvelous entry from Britain’s golden age of screen comedies, this gentle and good-natured 1953 film centers on the travails of an endearing young couple (Dinah Sheridan and John Gregson) as they join their bachelor friend (Kenneth Moore) and his latest flame (Kay Kendall) on their annual road trip from London to Brighton as participants in an antique car rally. After the two men have a bit of a verbal spat in Brighton, they decide to convert the return trip to London into a “friendly” race, with a 100 pound wager to be awarded to whoever is the first to reach and cross Westminster Bridge. Colorful, drolly amusing and engaging throughout, especially thanks to Sheridan and Gregson’s charming onscreen chemistry. Oh, in case you were wondering-“Genevieve” is the name of the couple’s antique car! Director Henry Cornelius’ next project was I Am a Camera, the 1955 film that was reincarnated as the musical Cabaret.
Lost in America – Released at the height of Reaganomics this 1985 gem can now be viewed in hindsight as a spot-on satirical smack down of the Yuppie cosmology that shaped the Decade of Greed. Director/co-writer Albert Brooks and Julie Hagerty portray a 30-something, upwardly mobile couple who quit their high-paying jobs, liquidate their assets, buy a Winnebago, and go Kerouac in order to “find themselves”; they’ll “touch Indians” (with a “nest egg” of $145,000). Actually, Brooks’ character fancies their new elective lifestyle choice to be closer in spirit to the protagonists in Easy Rider (except that Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper didn’t hit the road in an RV that featured a microwave with a built-in browning element for making the perfect grilled cheese sandwich). Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, the “egg” is soon off the table, and they now find themselves on the receiving end of “trickle down”, to Brooks’ chagrin. Like all of Brooks’ best movies, it is at once painfully funny and so very, very painful to watch.
Motorama – This blackly comic 1991 road movie/Orphic journey nearly defies description. A rather odd 10-year old boy (Jordan Michael Christopher) flees his feuding parents to hit the road in search of his version of the American Dream-to win the grand prize in a gas station-sponsored scratch card game called “Motorama”. As he zips through fictional states with in-jokey names like South Lyndon, Bergen, Tristana and Essex, he has increasingly bizarre and absurd encounters with a veritable “who’s who” of cult filmdom, including John Diehl, John Nance, Susan Tyrell, Michael J. Pollard, Mary Woronov, Meatloaf and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea. What I find particularly amusing is that none of the adults seem to question why a 10 year old (who curses like a sailor and sports a curious bit of stubble by film’s end) is driving a Mustang on a solo cross-country trip. Not for all tastes-definitely not one for the kids (especially since the venerable parental admonishment of “You’ll poke your eye out!” becomes fully realized). Director Barry Shils has only made one other film, the 1995 doc, Wigstock: The Movie.
Powwow Highway – A Native American road movie from 1989 that eschews stereotypes and tells its story with an unusual blend of social and magical realism. Gary Farmer (who greatly resembles the young Jonathan Winters) plays Philbert, a hulking Cheyenne with a gentle soul who wolfs down cheeseburgers and chocolate malts with the countenance of a beatific Buddha. He has decided that it is time to “become a warrior” and leave the res on a vision quest to “gather power”. After choosing a “war pony” for his journey (a rusted-out beater that he trades for with a bag of weed), he sets off, only to be waylaid by his childhood friend (A. Martinez) an A.I.M. activist who needs a lift to Santa Fe to bail out his sister, framed by the Feds on a possession beef. Funny, poignant, uplifting and richly rewarding. Director Jonathan Wacks and screenwriters Janey Heaney and Jean Stawarz keep it real. Look for cameos from Wes Studi and Graham Greene.
Radio On – You know how you develop an inexplicable emotional attachment to certain films? This no-budget 1979 offering from writer-director Christopher Petit, shot in stark B&W is one such film for me. That being said, I should warn you that it is not going to be everyone's cup of tea, because it contains one of those episodic, virtually plotless "road trip" narratives that may cause drowsiness for some viewers after about 15 minutes. Yet, I feel compelled to revisit this one at least once a year. Go figure. A dour London DJ (David Beames), whose estranged brother has committed suicide, heads to Bristol to get his sibling's affairs in order and attempt to glean what drove him to such despair (while quite reminiscent of the setup for Get Carter, this is not a crime thriller...far from it). He has encounters with various characters, including a friendly German woman, a sociopathic British Army vet who served in Northern Ireland, and a rural gas-station attendant (a cameo by Sting) who kills time singing Eddie Cochran songs. But the "plot" doesn't matter. As the protagonist journeys across an England full of bleak yet perversely beautiful industrial landscapes in his boxy sedan, accompanied by a moody electronic score (mostly Kraftwerk and David Bowie) the film becomes hypnotic. A textbook example of how the cinema is capable of capturing and preserving the zeitgeist of an ephemeral moment (e.g. England on the cusp of the Thatcher era) like no other art form.
Sideways – Not unlike the fine wines coveted by one of its main protagonists, this 2004 dramedy from director/co-writer Alexander Payne (Election, About Schmidt) is destined to become richer and more fully appreciated over time (and repeated viewings, as I have discovered). Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church really shine as a divorced, unpublished writer and a soon-to-be-married, middling TV actor (respectively), two middle-aged pals who embark on a road trip through California’s wine country. For the writer, it’s to be a leisurely cruise through the lovely environs, teaching his friend how to appreciate the aesthetic pleasures of the grape, and its subtle variances from vineyard to vineyard. For his less refined pal, it’s one last shot at a boning and grogging debauchery before he ties the knot. When the two hook up with Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen, things get interesting (cue the midlife meltdowns). Payne and co-writer Jim Taylor picked up a deserved Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar (based on Rex Pickett’s novel).
Sullivan's Travels– A unique and amazingly deft mash-up of romantic screwball comedy, Hollywood satire, road movie and hard-hitting social drama that probably would not have worked so beautifully had not the great Preston Sturges been at the helm. Joel McCrea is pitch-perfect as a director of goofy populist comedies who yearns to make a “meaningful” film. Racked with guilt about the comfortable bubble that his Hollywood success has afforded him and determined to learn firsthand how the other half lives, he decides to hit the road with no money in his pocket and “embed” himself as a railroad tramp (much to the chagrin of his handlers). He is joined along the way by an aspiring actress (Veronica Lake, in one of her best comic performances). His voluntary crash-course in “social realism” turns into much more than he had originally bargained for. Lake and McCrea have wonderful chemistry. Many decades later, the Coen Brothers co-opted the title of the fictional “film within the film” here: O Brother, Where Art Thou?
The Trip – Pared down into feature length from the 2011 BBC TV series of the same name, Michael Winterbottom’s film is essentially a highlight reel of the 6 episodes; which is not to denigrate it, because it is the most genuinely hilarious comedy I’ve seen in years. The levity is due in no small part to Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, basically playing themselves. Coogan is commissioned by a British newspaper to take a “restaurant tour” of England’s bucolic Lake District, and write reviews. He initially plans to take his girlfriend along, but since they’re going through a rocky period, he asks his pal, fellow actor Brydon, to accompany him. This simple narrative setup is basically an excuse to sit back and enjoy Coogan and Brydon’s brilliant comic riffing (much of it feels improvised) on everything from relationships to the “proper” way to do Michael Caine impressions. There’s unexpected poignancy as well-but for the most part, it’s comedy gold. The director and both stars reunited for their equally enjoyable 2014 sequel, The Trip to Italy.
Vanishing Point – I don’t know if anyone has ever done a study to see if there was spike in sales for Dodge Challengers in 1971, but it would not surprise me, since every car nut I have ever known who throws around phrases like “cherry” or “big block” usually gets a dreamy, faraway look in their eyes when I mention this cult classic, directed by Richard C. Sarafian. It’s best described as an existential car chase movie. Barry Newman stars as Kowalski (there’s never a mention of a first name), a car delivery driver who is assigned to get a Challenger from Colorado to San Francisco. When someone wagers he can’t make the trip in less than 15 hours, he accepts the challenge. Naturally, someone in a muscle car pushing 100 mph across several states is going to eventually get the attention of law enforcement-and the chase is on. Not much of a plot, but curiously riveting nonetheless. Episodic; one memorable vignette involves a hippie chick riding around the desert on a chopper a la Lady Godiva, to the strains of Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” (riveting!). Cleavon Little plays Supersoul-a blind radio DJ who becomes Kowalski’s guardian angel and provides a sort of Greek Chorus. The enigmatic ending still mystifies.
"Why would he talk about my foolishly perceived fascism?"
I'll just leave this here:
Mr. Trump dismisses the labels used by those like Mr. Weld, a longtime Republican now mounting a quixotic campaign for vice president as a Libertarian. “I don’t talk about his alcoholism,” Mr. Trump said through a spokeswoman, “so why would he talk about my foolishly perceived fascism? There is nobody less of a fascist than Donald Trump.”
Yeah. That actually happened.
Here's the story from the New York Times, the paper of record. It's about the rise of fascism around the world, including here. Especially here. You might even want to buy a dead tree copy so you can save that article. It might be worth something some day.
Please tell me again how brilliant this guy is. Malevolent and crafty? Sure, in some ways. But this is a moronic thing to say even to Republicans.
Trump said state officials were simply denying water to Central Valley farmers to prioritize the Delta smelt, a native California fish nearing extinction — or as Trump called it, "a certain kind of three-inch fish.”
“We’re going to solve your water problem. You have a water problem that is so insane. It is so ridiculous where they’re taking the water and shoving it out to sea,” Trump told thousands of supporters at the campaign event.
“If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive."
I guess he's going to use his massive divining schlong.
That graphic is from the latest Pew Poll on where people get their news.I suspect the ramifications of this are going to be quite substantial. If you get your news from your social media feeds you end up getting only one side of the story. Everyone has their own little Fox News:
A majority of U.S. adults – 62% – get news on social media, and 18% do so often, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center, conducted in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. In 2012, based on a slightly different question, 49% of U.S. adults reported seeing news on social media.
But which social media sites have the largest portion of users getting news there? How many get news on multiple social media sites? And to what degree are these news consumers seeking online news out versus happening upon it while doing other things?
As part of an ongoing examination of social media and news, Pew Research Center analyzed the scope and characteristics of social media news consumers across nine social networking sites. This study is based on a survey conducted Jan. 12-Feb. 8, 2016, with 4,654 members of Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel.
Reddit, Facebook and Twitter users most likely to get news on each site. News plays a varying role across the social networking sites studied. Two-thirds of Facebook users (66%) get news on the site, nearly six-in-ten Twitter users (59%) get news on Twitter, and seven-in-ten Reddit users get news on that platform. On Tumblr, the figure sits at 31%, while for the other five social networking sites it is true of only about one-fifth or less of their user bases.
We've seen the Fox effect for years so we already know where that can lead. I run across people all day long who are convinced of certain erroneous facts because they spend their time in a social media bubble.
There's a lot of twitter hate out there and I understand it completely. But it is the platform that at least leads a majority of its users to actual news sites:
The rub, of course, is that you're still in your silo and tend to get led to places that reinforce your silo's viewpoint. Still, it's at least a news site and maybe you'll see something else there that leads to a story you wouldn't have normally seen.
I think social media and the internet in general have been a great boon to mankind. Aside from the connectivity they have opened up the information flow in myriad ways. However, there is so much of it that you inevitably wind up finding ways to curate it and it's just easier, and frankly less stressful, to narrow it down to your own worldview. But that can lead to all kinds of destructive thinking like conspiracy theories and just plain wrong facts that get reinforced by your social cohort. It's not good.
Donald Trump's campaign has alerted Senate Republicans that he won't have much money to spend fending off attacks from Hillary Clinton over the next couple months.
The notice came when Paul Manafort, Trump's senior advisor, met with a group of Senate Republican chiefs of staff for lunch last week, sources familiar with the meeting told the Washington Examiner. The admission suggests that Trump will be far more dependent on the GOP brass for money than he has led voters to believe, but it's consistent with his reliance on the Republican National Committee to provide a ground game in battleground states.
"They know that they're not going to have enough money to be on TV in June and probably most of July, until they actually accept the nomination and get RNC funds, so they plan to just use earned media to compete on the airwaves," one GOP source familiar with Manafort's comments told the Examiner.
That's a far cry from Trump's public insistence that he signed a fundraising agreement with the RNC in order to help the party, not himself. "The RNC really wanted to do it, and I want to show good spirit," he said last week. "'Cause I was very happy to continue to go along the way I was."
Stay abreast of the latest developments from nation's capital and beyond with curated News Alerts from the Washington Examiner news desk and delivered to your inbox.
Still, Trump allies have suggested that the RNC is going to take advantage of the real estate mogul. "I don't think the RNC is 100 percent committed," a GOP donor told CNN. "If Donald Trump's seven points down in October, they're going to put that money toward Senate races and House races."
Manafort seemed confident at the lunch with GOP staff, however. "He said that he thought Hillary Clinton was the ideal opponent — that he was the ultimate outsider and she was the ultimate insider," a Senate GOP chief-of-staff in attendance said.
Some smart Republicans rightly assume he's laying the groundwork to blame the RNC if he loses. Of course he is. The man has never taken personal responsibility for anything in his life.
Maybe the networks (other than Fox which is ... well, you know) ought to give some thought as to whether they should be aiding and abetting his plan. Or at least make a commitment to strict equal time. He should not be able to get wall to wall coverage as a way to save money. The news media has some responsibility here.
During a campaign stop in San Diego on Friday, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump devoted a significant amount of time to attacking the federal judge overseeing the ongoing case against Trump University, suggesting the judge is a “hater” who is biased against him.
The case against the real estate mogul’s now-defunct company, which has been accused of scamming students who were misled into paying money for insight from business experts they thought were hand-picked by Trump, is scheduled to go to trial in San Diego federal court shortly after the presidential election. According to his lawyer, Trump is planning on testifying.
In what the Wall Street Journal characterized as an “extended tirade,” Trump spent 12 minutes of his 58-minute speech focused on the case and the California judge who will hear it.
“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel,” Trump told the crowd. “I think Judge Curiel should be ashamed of himself.”
Trump told his supporters he believes Judge Curiel should be removed from the case, citing the fact that Curiel was appointed to the bench by President Obama. Trump also said he believes Curiel is "Mexican." The crowd -- which had previously shouted "build that wall" -- booed loudly.
In previous statements about the case, Trump has pointed to Curiel's Hispanic heritage to insinuate that he won't be able to approach the case impartially. Asked on Fox News what exactly Curiel's ethnicity has to do with the case against him, Trump responded, "I think it has to do perhaps with the fact that I'm very, very strong on the border, very, very strong at the border, and he has been extremely hostile to me."
Trump University -- which was not actually an accredited university and did not hand out degrees -- has several fraud cases proceeding against it.
I swear to God this campaign is the whiniest campaign I've ever heard. Everything is so unfaaaiiir. So I have a right to act like a baby and whine and whine and throw tantrums and hold my breath until I turn blue because those meanies are being sooooo mean!!!
Boo fucking hoo.
Any endorser of Donald Trump is going to have this moron hung around their necks for the rest of the their careers. They did this with their eyes wide open.
Reports out of Greece this week not about refugees and economic chaos say archaeologists may have found in his home town of Stageira the tomb of the philosopher Aristotle. You know, the "golden mean" guy. Wonder what Aristotle would think of our orange mean guy? Or the rest of us, for that matter.
Keeping one's head has not been in fashion in America, oh, since September 11, 2001. Of late, those who do are – to both the right and left – clearly part of the comfortable establishment that has to go. Sorry, Ari.
Dahlia Lithwick covers the Supreme Court of the United States for Slate. A more establishment institution you will not find. (SCOTUS, I mean.) Maybe it is because she is Canadian, but Lithwick is a tad uncomfortable with the rhetoric of the presidential race. And because she leans left, she is more than a tad uncomfortable with the tone of from fellow lefties. "There's no heavier burden than a great potential!" Linus van Pelt once said. No one can disappoint you like your friends.
Regarding those litigating Hillary v. Bernie, Lithwick writes:
I have been taken up short by the number of comments and scoldings I have faced, from close friends and casual acquaintances alike, for voicing even a hint of support for one or the other in recent months. The tone hasn’t merely been dismissive and furious; the message beneath has almost universally been that I am a moron.
The 2016 campaign has been focused on rage. Donald Trump’s cunning redirection of his supporters’ economic and racial fury into electoral support has been well-documented. But the fury on the progressive end of the spectrum has been harder to pin down. Some of us on the left seem to be suffering from many of the same symptoms we deride in Trump supporters: outrage with the political process; over-identification with our anger and under-identification with our commonalities; and a pervasive sense that anyone who doesn’t agree with us suffers from debilitating false consciousness.
I’m not a psychologist and can’t speak to the outrage. But I think a lot about how we speak to one another, and I worry that my progressive friends and I are falling victim to some habits and ideas that have made it virtually impossible for the left and right to even engage—much less debate—serious issues anymore in this country. I see them in myself in alarming new ways when I find myself digging in on Bernie vs. Hillary. I wonder if now is the time to talk about it out loud.
Lithwick does, about the "tics and habits that poison and polarize ideological discourse." One she calls out is how some come to believe their pet issue is the only issue that matters. Anyone not solely dedicated to it is misguided at best. I've watched people leave organizing meetings with potential allies never to return — marginalizing themselves and their issues — because theirs was not front and center on the agenda all night. I've watched activists walk into congressional campaigns unwilling to lift a finger for actual campaign work (it's all grunt work), and then walk out because they were not drubbed on the shoulder the campaign's official expert on their pet issue and asked to write the white paper upon which the entire campaign would rise or fall.
That is precisely the trap into which Moral Mondays leader Reverend William J. Barber II refuses to fall. Preaching "fusion politics," he and North Carolina's NAACP have brought together a coalition of activists to focus their collective energies on rescuing the state from the T-party leadership that took control after the 2010 mid-terms. No one issue is the focus. No one leader, not even Barber, is the focus. The movement is a "people's assembly" of those concerned about everything from voting rights to LGBT issues to education to health care. By refusing to be divided into issue silos, the Forward Together movement has found lasting power in coalition rather than in anger.
But like Lithwick, this year I have watched friends turn into an angry T-party of the left, with everything that implies. Lithwick writes, "If we are treating our friends and allies like we treat our enemies, we are not really a movement so much as a collective of grievances."
In Stageira, Aristotle's ashes must be turning over in his urn.
9NEWS political analyst Kelly Maher speaks for the Republican side and has admittedly struggled with Trump's rise to power in the party. He's now the GOP presidential candidate. She's gone from denial... to getting an emotional support wallaby.
Though Marco Rubio suggested on Thursday that he expects his delegates to be released for Donald Trump and even volunteered to speak on his behalf, Ted Cruz signaled on Friday that he would take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to Cleveland. And the fight for delegates and the party's platform is far from over, he said, despite Trump having clinched the required number to become the nominee.
"I am looking and listening to see what the candidates do," the Texas senator told Tulsa, Oklahoma, radio host Pat Campbell, who listened as Cruz spoke about the importance of electing a conservative to the White House.
When Campbell remarked that it sounded as though Trump did not meet his standards, Cruz replied, "I hope that he will."
Trump has no standards. But we'll see if Cruz can bear the weight of being among the few "true conservatives". He's going to make his stand inside women's bodies:
Before wrapping the interview, Campbell asked Cruz if he could promise to listeners to ensure Republicans in Cleveland do not "screw around with the party platform and remove the abortion plank, or alter it."
“You have my word. One of the reasons that we are continuing to work to elect conservatives to be delegates, even though Donald has the delegates to get the nomination, we intend to do everything we can to fight for conservative principles to prevent Washington forces from watering down the platform," Cruz said. "The platform is a manifestation of what we believe as a party, and I think it is important that it continue to reflect conservative values, free-market values, constitutional liberties, Judeo-Christian principles, the values that built this country, and that is exactly what I intend to fight for.”
Trump said in April that he would push for exceptions to the party's platform on abortion to include rape and incest.
That's the squishy middle of the road position now. Cruz will be there fighting to force 12 year olds to give birth to their own sisters. Because he's a highly moral person. And I would guess Trump will be happy to let him have that one.