Friday, February 07, 2020
Mayor Pete makes Bernie Sanders more viable as the nominee:
Sanders’ campaign has always faced two key questions. First, could he consolidate the party’s left wing behind him, or would he and Sen. Elizabeth Warren undermine each other by splitting that vote? Second, even if Sanders could win the battle for the party’s progressives, would that be enough to overcome Joe Biden, who seemed to have a lock on moderate and minority voters?
Buttigieg has helped on both fronts by sapping support from both Warren and Biden, whom his backers consistently list as their second choice candidates. His performance in Iowa pushed the Massachusetts senator to third and the former vice president to fourth. Next week’s primary in New Hampshire could very well be a repeat performance. Both Sanders and Buttigieg appear to be rising in the polls there. Meanwhile, Biden is sinking toward third, and Warren is in a distant fourth.
If the final vote shapes up that way, it will be a dream scenario for Sanders. It’s not clear that Warren’s campaign can survive consecutive disappointments in the first two nominating contests. She’s already polling well behind in South Carolina and Nevada, and losing more momentum won’t help. Sure, it’s possible that Warren could limp to Super Tuesday after a string of third- and fourth-place finishes, but even if she does, many of her supporters might defect to Sanders, since he’ll be the progressive with a promising chance of winning. As for Biden: He might still be able to pull out a win in South Carolina, but he’ll still look weak, and between Buttigieg and Mike Bloomberg—whose entire strategy is premised on a strong performance on Super Tuesday, and thus is 100 percent guaranteed to be around for it—Biden won’t have the moderate lane to himself.
The many parallels:
Trump’s lawyers argued that the president’s personal position is inseparable from that of the nation itself. This is similar to the notion that took hold during the ascendancy of the man known as Rome’s first emperor, Augustus, who was in power from 31 B.C. to A.D. 14.
Trump defense attorney Alan Dershowitz asserted that “abuse of power” by the president is not an impeachable offense. A central part of Dershowitz’s argument was that “every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest” and that “if a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”
This inability to separate the personal interests of a leader from the interests of the country he or she leads has powerful echoes in ancient Rome.
There, no formal change from a republican system to an autocratic system ever occurred. Rather, there was an erosion of the republican institutions, a steady creep over decades of authoritarian decision-making, and the consolidation of power within one individual – all with the name “Republic” preserved.
Kirk Douglas was the very best. I loved the now-classic Albuquerque movie, "Lonely Are The Brave." Heck, "Ace in the Hole" is a New Mexico movie too.
His granite-like strength and underlying vulnerability made the son of illiterate Russian immigrants one of the top stars of the 20th century. He appeared in more than 80 films, in roles ranging from Doc Holliday in "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" to Vincent van Gogh in "Lust for Life."
He worked with some of Hollywood's greatest directors, from Vincente Minnelli and Billy Wilder to Stanley Kubrick and Elia Kazan. His career began at the peak of the studios’ power, more than 70 years ago, and ended in a more diverse, decentralized era that he helped bring about.
...Reaching stardom after World War II, he was as likely to play cads (the movie producer in "Bad and the Beautiful," the journalist in "Ace in the Hole") as he was suited to play heroes, as alert to the business as he was at home before the camera. He started his own production company in 1955, when many actors still depended on the studios, and directed some of his later films.
A born fighter, Douglas was especially proud of his role in the the downfall of Hollywood's blacklist, which halted and ruined the careers of writers suspected of pro-Communist activity or sympathies. By the end of the ‘50s, the use of banned writers was widely known within the industry, but not to the general public.
Douglas, who years earlier had reluctantly signed a loyalty oath to get the starring role in “Lust for Life,” provided a crucial blow when he openly credited the former Communist and Oscar winner Dalton Trumbo for script work on "Spartacus," the epic about a slave rebellion during ancient Rome that was released in 1960. (A few months earlier, Otto Preminger had announced Trumbo's name would appear on the credits for "Exodus," but "Spartacus" came out first.)
"Everybody advised me not to do it because you won't be able to work in this town again and all of that. But I was young enough to say to hell with it," Douglas said about "Spartacus" in a 2011 interview with The Associated Press. "I think if I was much older, I would have been too conservative: 'Why should I stick my neck out?'"
Douglas rarely played lightly. He was compulsive about preparing for roles and a supreme sufferer on camera, whether stabbed with scissors in "Ace in the Hole" or crucified in "Spartacus."
Critic David Thomson dubbed Douglas "the manic-depressive among Hollywood stars, one minute bearing down on plot, dialogue and actresses with the gleeful appetite of a man just freed from Siberia, at other times writhing not just in agony but mutilation and a convincingly horrible death."
Douglas’ personal favorite was the 1962 Western “Lonely are the Brave,” which included a line of dialogue from a Trumbo script he called the most personal he ever spoke on screen: “I’m a loner clear down deep to my very guts.”
The most famous words in a Douglas movie were spoken about him, but not by him.
In “Spartacus,” Roman officials tell a gathering of slaves their lives will be spared if they identify their leader, Spartacus. As Douglas rises to give himself up, a growing chorus of slaves jump up and shout, “I’m Spartacus!”
...He was born Issur Danielovitch to an impoverished Jewish family in Amsterdam, New York. His name evolved over time. He called himself Isidore Demsky until he graduated from St. Lawrence University.
He took the name Kirk Douglas as he worked his way through the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, choosing “Douglas” because he wanted his last name still to begin with “D” and “Kirk” because he liked the hard, jagged sound of the “K.”
...Kirk Douglas tried for years to make a film out of Ken Kesey's cult novel "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."
In the 1970s, he gave up and let Michael have a try. The younger Douglas produced a classic that starred Jack Nicholson (in the role Kirk Douglas wanted to play) and dominated the Oscars, winning for best picture, director, actor, actress and screenplay.
“My father has played up his disappointment with that pretty good,’’ Michael Douglas later told Vanity Fair. "I have to remind him, I shared part of my producing back-end (credit) with him, so he ended up making more money off that movie than he had in any other picture."
“And I would gladly give back every cent, if I could have played that role,” the elder Douglas said.
It is February 2, 2020, or 02/02/2020, in both the MM/DD/YYYY format and the DD/MM/YYYY format. At just after 2 a.m., it was 02:02:20 on 02/02/2020.
This is the only time such a date will occur this century.
The previous palindrome date in all formats came 909 years ago on 11/11/1111. The next will come in 101 years on 12/12/2121 and after that there will not be another until 03/03/3030.
Solihull School Maths Department wrote on Twitter: "Today is a Palindrome Day in all date formats (UK, USA, ISO). It's also a palindrome day of the year (33) and there are a palindrome number of days left in the year (333). Quite a unique day!"
I caught the White House proclamations on C-SPAN, and was appalled by the arrogance. No one bothered asking the Palestinians what they thought about this deal. It’s not about them anyway. Good luck keeping the ‘peace’. It's no surprise it's all falling apart immediately:
First, the fact that the Palestinians played no role in negotiating or vetting the document means, by itself, that this is an imposition—something like the surrender terms handed down by a victorious army—rather than an accord reached by two parties.
Second, it declares the existence of a Palestinian state with a capital on the outskirts of east Jerusalem and the prospect of a U.S. Embassy—but it also prohibits this state from forming an army, meaning it is not really a sovereign state after all.
Third, it freezes the expansion of Israeli settlements for the next four years—but it sanctifies all the settlements erected to date, allows more houses to be built on land already held, and annexes most occupied land, including all the holy sites in all of Jerusalem, to become officially part of Israel. If any other state pulled such a move unilaterally, it would be widely denounced as a violation of international law.
Their ghost lives on in us:
To show me exactly what he meant, Clive and his team reconstructed some intriguing Neanderthal habits. A dead vulture, carefully kept frozen, was brought out and dissected in front of me, to show how Neanderthals might have done so thousands of years earlier.
They carefully removed the bird's body tissue. What was left appeared to be a stunning and elaborate black-feathered decorative cape, extending, of course, the length of the vulture's wing span. They may have wrapped this around their shoulders, Clive says.
Thursday, February 06, 2020
Harder to take these things apart than it looks:
Part of the iconic sign that once stood outside the historic Raley’s store on Freeport Boulevard came crashing to the ground as it was removed by crane this week.
Topping the marquee that has greeted shoppers with puns for decades, the big, red block of letters spelling out “Raley’s” detached from the crane midday Wednesday and came toppling down, partially hitting the side of a nearby work truck. No one was hurt, but the sign appeared to come within a few feet of hitting two workers perched in a cherry picker as it fell suddenly and violently.
Monday, February 03, 2020
Carbuncle ass is ill:
Rush Limbaugh, the most prominent political radio host in the United States, said Monday that he is beginning treatment for lung cancer.
Limbaugh, 69, told his radio audience Monday that he was diagnosed with an advanced stage of the disease. He said the diagnosis was confirmed on January 20.
"I wish I didn't have to tell you this, and I thought about not trying to tell anybody, I thought about trying to do this without anybody knowing, because I don't like making things about me," Limbaugh said. But "there are going to be days that I'm not going to be able to be here, because I will be undergoing treatment, or I'm reacting to treatment."
Didn't see the game - I'm no fan - but the halftime show was good.
But when she and her 11-year-old daughter Emme took to the stage to sing a minimalist version of “Let’s Get Loud,” and J.Lo busted into the chorus of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” while wearing a showgirl’s cape version of the Puerto Rican flag rendered in feathers, there was clearly something else going on besides pageantry and spice.
Consider that in the moments prior to that exuberant burst of Americana, a chorus of children dressed in white outfits spangled with American flags appeared, a number of them singing from inside glowing spheres that could be seen as, well, glowing spheres. They also looked like cages, intentional reminders that while all this star power and pyrotechnics was happening, America is still locking up innocents.
For the record: There were so many cultural references in last night's show and I'd say probably very few white Americans recognized them.
The Superbowl was hosted in Miami this year - a city nicknamed the "Capital of Latin America".
Some of the costumes in J-Lo's performance showed a tribute to Selena, one of the most celebrated Mexican-American entertainers of all time (who J-Lo played in the 1997 biographical film.)
J-Lo, who is of Puerto Rican descent, donned a reversible cape showing the Puerto Rican and American Flags on either side. Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory which is still recovering from devastating damage from a hurricane and subsequent earthquakes. J-Lo has notably donated at least $1 million towards aid for Puerto Rico. Her daughter singing "Born in the USA" was a reminder that Puerto Ricans are Americans too.
I know some people said "Let's have more of the kids singing! It should be family friendly!" While that was happening, other children were shown in cage-like structures to represent a subtle nod to the children (mostly of Latino descent) we have kept in detention over the past several administrations.
And Shakira. Thanks to my obsession I grew up knowing a lot about Shakira! Her father's parents were Lebanese immigrants who emigrated to New York City where her father was born and then subsequently immigrated to Barranquilla, Colombia where waves of Middle Eastern immigrants came after WW1 and WW2.
The "weird tongue thing" she did? That's called a zaghrouta which is used to express joy in Arabic culture. Shakira is very proud of her Lebanese roots and has been belly dancing since the age of 4.
The "stomping dance" she did? Champeta! A tribute to Afro-Colombian culture.
In fact almost all the dancing in the half-time show was a nod to Latin or Afro-Latin culture including mapalé and salsa.
So maybe you thought it was "nasty" or "not family-friendly" but I saw it as pride, a celebration of culture, and one of the most honoring things these two women could have done for Latin Americans.