Saturday, February 23, 2008

Oscar Predictions 2008

Yeah, I haven't written almost anything in weeks and I'm breaking silence to do the Oscars? Yup. That's tradition.

Standard disclaimer: I know even less than nothing about these movies. I've been much more interested in politics (more than usual). I'll include the nominees and put an asterisk by my pick.

Best Motion Picture of the Year
Atonement (2007):
Juno (2007):
Michael Clayton (2007):
* No Country for Old Men (2007):
There Will Be Blood (2007):

To be honest, I was first going for There will be blood, because it's about oil, yet mentions blood, and that's a Hollywood shibboleth. But everyone else is predicting it's "no country." Maybe insted of Iraq politics (blood) it's US politics (Obama vs. McCain)

Best Actor
George Clooney for Michael Clayton
* Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp for Sweeney Todd
Tommy Lee Jones for In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen for Eastern Promises

Even though it's supposed to lose Best Picture to No Country, Daniel Day is supposed to be the finest performance this year. Then again, despite not being nominated for 'No Country,' Tommy Lee Jones is nominated for another forgettable film, so shouldn't they do a two-fer? Also, while he won Best Supporting for the Fugitive, he's never won Best Actor... and Day has. And the Academy may think that Day has more in him while Jones not. Eh.

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett for Elizabeth: The Golden Age
* Julie Christie for Away from Her
Marion Cotillard for Môme, La
Laura Linney for The Savages
Ellen Page for Juno

It's supposed to be between Christie and Cotillard. I have no idea who the frog is, but people are saying it will be her. Yet why bet on a foreigner when there's a well-liked American (Christie) who also won back in 1966. I think sentiment will win out.

Best Supporting Actor
Casey Affleck - for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
* Javier Bardem - for No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman - for Charlie Wilson's War
Hal Holbrook - for Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson - for Michael Clayton

Bardem is supposed to be the best thing about the movie I've been told is gonna be best picture. So there.

Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett - for I'm Not There.
Ruby Dee - for American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan - for Atonement
Amy Ryan - for Gone Baby Gone
* Tilda Swinton - for Michael Clayton

Maybe Blanchett because the double nom shows she's prized by her peers and this may be a weak category. Yet she's won for supporting already, and she's young. Ah, but what about Swank? Yeah, but she was in the best picture that year and Blanchett ain't. Ruby Dee's never even been nominated before... but she does have a Cable ACE! I think it's Swinton because Clayton is an actor driven movie and it just seems like a catchall category that the voters will support the movie more than the actress.

Best Director:
Paul Thomas Anderson for There Will Be Blood
* Ethan Coen, Joel Coen for No Country for Old Men
Tony Gilroy for Michael Clayton
Jason Reitman for Juno
Julian Schnabel for Scaphandre et le papillon, Le

I've heard the Schnabel film really showcased his talent as a director. But when has that ever been important? "Juno" is the quirky film that gets awarded for its script. Same with Clayton, if possible. So it comes between the two best picture favorites. But also, Anderson is young and has a lot more in him (but he's been doing great stuff, cf. Magnolia). Anyway, the Coens are gods among directors and they've only won once - for Fargo (which wasn't all that great). No Country is supposed to be the same genre but one better than Fargo.

Best Original Screenplay:
* Juno: Diablo Cody
Lars and the Real Girl: Nancy Oliver
Michael Clayton: Tony Gilroy
Ratatouille: Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco
The Savages: Tamara Jenkins

Juno. And that's despite/because the writer being a former stripper. Then again it could be Clayton for that reason too.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Atonement: Christopher Hampton
Away from Her: Sarah Polley
Scaphandre et le papillon, Le: Ronald Harwood
No Country for Old Men: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
* There Will Be Blood: Paul Thomas Anderson

Tough category. Because the standard ageing merlot-drinking Academy voter may want to spread the wealth on the awards, and give Anderson the adapted to offset losing picture/director. Because for a young guy, all three were pretty spectacular achievements. Again, they may have liked 'No Country' well enough to give the Coens the full monty. Or the directoral achivement of Scaphandre may not be enough for the biggies but will be recognized it what seems to be the category to reward the 'edgy' stuff. Orr says the Coens. I think it'll be Anderson as a consolation.

Honorable Mention: An Israeli film is one of the Best Foreign nominees (Beaufort). The director is evidently frum. Here's to hoping.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Demise of Red/Blue States

The Clinton campaign has tried to explain that their steady stream of losses don't count because only blue states count. Or something.

Anyway, according to the Wiki, these states came within 5% of flipping to the other side (the chart has state, who won, by what percent):
  1. Wisconsin, Kerry, 0.38%
  2. Iowa, Bush, 0.67%
  3. New Mexico, Bush, 0.79%
  4. New Hampshire, Kerry, 1.37%
  5. Ohio, Bush, 2.11%
  6. Pennsylvania, Kerry, 2.50%
  7. Nevada, Bush, 2.59%
  8. Michigan, Kerry, 3.42%
  9. Minnesota, Kerry, 3.48%
  10. Oregon, Kerry, 4.16%
  11. Colorado, Bush, 4.67%
The poll numbers out now are pretty spotty, but I'd say that in any of these states, if the number of people who came out to the primaries for the Democrats is larger by the necessary vote percentage over the GOP, then these states can be won by the Democrats in 2008.

Of these 11 states, 3 haven't voted yet (OH, MI, PA). Of the remaining 8, a bunch are caucuses, which still give numbers of attendees. Now this is for the real number crunchers, but there's probably a small number of votes that will magically transform red to blue.

As you can see from the accompanying pic (click to enlarge) big chunks of the country are 'purple.' So anybody who tries to sell us on an irrevocable blue/red divide, can be tarred as a liar trying to sell you spam.

Pic from here. Backpost finished 2009-11-29. Most of the text from back then. Since I did this, some others have tried to do the same analysis. Gratifyingly, I started it first.

Many Back Posts

I have about 2 dozen drafts of unpublished backposts in the (blog) hopper. I have been crazy busy over the past few weeks - including fending off a coup by a bunch of oompa-loompas - so I may try to update and up-post 'em.

Strangely enough, I have been talking to people almost every day about the election and I've been almost 100% right about things. Then again, the Oscars are coming up and I'm going to pooch those... so it evens out.

Friday, February 15, 2008

GOP Advantage

When it comes to the military, the GOP can get away with murder.

What I meant is put better in this letter I sent (February 15, 2008 1:11 PM) to the Reality-Based Community's Mark Kleiman, about how McCain gets a free-ride on his non-opposition to torture:
This issue reminds me of the paradigm-based immunities that separate the supporters of each party.

The Dems and GOP have a set narrative, a paradigm of rectitude, a set of orthodoxies, in the public eye. When a person in the party, or the party leadership, goes against that orthodoxy, the press and by extension the people, give the party the benefit of the doubt. The 'sin' is either ignored or pardoned.

My examples are 'national defense' for GOP and 'civil rights' for Democrats. A Democrat can get away with doing bad things to minorities. The same things, if done by Republican, would be considered abuse, are ignored if done by a Democrat. The examples for this are rife from the Clinton era, but a more recent example is Senator Biden's remarks a few months about Obama (calling him well-spoken, etc) Yeah, it's not 'macaca' but it'd be called racist if coming from Romney. The Clintons were allowed to slash welfare, enact NAFTA, and Don't Ask Don't Tell and are still given credit for being "liberal." While die-hard partisans on those issues will still blame the Clintons for abandoning core principles, that's not the press narrative.

Andrew Sullivan makes a big deal about DODT -- it's the main reason he gives for distrusting the Clintons and attacking the Human Rights Commission -- that the Clintons have a bad civil rights record for gays and yet the HRC supports Hillary.

Note, when the Clintons recently were staked out as being in the opposition to a civil rights icon (Obama - who will be in history books for the next century whether he wins the nomination or not), they lost their paradigm immunity. Minor comments were considered race-bating not only because they were but because it was assumed that they were. I.e. Hillary & Bill were being treated under the Republican 'civil rights' rules.

The Republicans have the same immunity when it comes to national security and the military. Even though any right thinking person recognizes that the GOP (president & congress) has left the country vulnerable to terrorist attack, electively stirred up a massive world-wide terrorist movement, and have nearly crippled the military - they are given a pass for all of that. Surely, if a Democratic congress/president did any of this they would be pilloried. But it's just assumed that the GOP is loyal to the military and will be tough on security. Even when they're not.

A proof for this is John Kerry's 'botched joke' back in '06. He was making a comment about Bush, but through bad delivery, it came out as a swipe against the military. And that's the interpretation the press swallowed (probably til this day). But I thought Kerry was a dedicated war hero who volunteered to go into Vietnam? No dice. He's a Democrat, he's against the military.

This goes with your comments about the public perception of a "liberal." That Obama is not considered a liberal by many Americans because Obama talks about religion (and patriotism) as if they were good things. Same paradigm issues.

This is why McCain gets a pass by the press for betraying the military and the constitution vis-a-vis Iraq and torture. Because McCain *can't* betray about torture. That's his paradigm. And, if Kuhn was right, it will take massive amounts of evidence to argue the contrary.
Backpost started 4/16/07 with just the bolded line and finished 4/11/08.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Obama's Methodology

This is Obama's own words on how he plans to use diplomacy to accomplish his liberal agenda (which I consider a good thing). This is from his senate website, but it was originally sent to the GOS (acronym for the Great Orange Satan, a.k.a. the DailyKos): "Tone, Truth, and the Democratic Party."

The venue is important, because - back in September 30, 2005 - Obama was kindly lecturing the frothing hordes at the DailyKos that Democrats will more advance the liberal agenda if they act with respect and wisdom than with bomb throwing.

To recap: it was Obama's first year in the Senate, the Democrats were still in the minority, and even in that environment Obama was telling the biggest rabble-rousers the same message he preaches today. So not only is he consistent, it should be remarked that the GOS is almost an entirely pro-Obama website now.

And that's another example of how good he is.

Backpost finished 4/8/08. Just the link.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Secret Service Code Names

Marc Ambinder (Atlantic's "expert" politics blogger) reports (on February 12, 2008) that McCain doesn't have secret service protection yet [note: yesterday, he agreed to it]. He didn't have it because he's super macho. And, evidently, stupid.

Anyway, Ambiner asks what McCain's nickname would be. To illustrate that, he lists the current & former nicknames: of this list of notables: "To the Secret Service (technically to the WHCA), President Bush is Trailblazer, Laura Bush is Tempo, HRC is Evergreen, Bill Clinton is Eagle, Dick Cheney is Angler, and Barack Obama is Renegade."

Renegade for BHO?! That's so cool. OK, two questions:
  1. Marc's: what to call McCain.
  2. My question: What would you like for yourself?
To answer #1 many commenters suggested 'maverick' (which makes sense both for his persona and for the movie Top Gun.) And I'd put money on that. If not that, maybe "Goldwater" or "Dole" after his two doomed predecessors.

For me? I'd suggest "Styx," "Rabbi" (which was also the nickname of one of the top-gun fliers, Lt. Ben Schneider), "Chumbucket", "Wideload", "Jabba", or "Rover."

Backpost finished 4-8-08. Had link and some commentary.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Yglesias about Russert: Sillyball

Nice article by the increasingly solid Yglesias about just how bad Tim Russert - and by extension the rest of the mainstream media - is: The Unbearable Inanity of Tim Russert (read the whole thing, but here's a great set o'quotes):
"If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press, where newsmakers go to be grilled by one of television news's most respected figures. If moments like the above exchange between Russert and Richardson seem unhelpful—even ridiculous—to you, rest assured that Washington thinks otherwise. ... Actually, the balls Russert favors may be hard, but the pitches he throws aren't curveballs, which go someplace useful. They're sillyballs, which go somewhere pointless. Russert has created a strike zone of his own where toughness meets irrelevance."
Pic from here. Backpost finished 2009-12-23.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Rest of the GOP Race

Text of a letter I sent to TNR:
Good point that if McCain and Huckabee have more debates (without R. Paul) then it's basically free advertising.

Now that the GOP field has settled, it'll make it easier for Clinton/Obama to attack a specific enemy instead of each other. However, is there any way that McCain's candidacy helps Hillary? McCain has oodles more "experience," has better Commander in Chief cred, and will actively enjoy making her cry.

Considering she voted for the war (and hasn't recanted), McCain can take credit for the war's phantom successes and she can't attack him about the failures.
Backpost finished 2009-12-23.

Romney and the GWOT

The body of a letter I sent to TPM:
Reading the transcript of Romney's concession, I see that he's making the global war on terror the number one issue of his support for John McCain and his opposition of Barack and Hillary.

So, does that mean that Romney's kids are free to join the military? Their earlier excuse was that they were busy getting Mittens elected. Now, they have loads of free time and they need to stop the terr'rsts...
Pic from here. Backpost finished 2009-12-23.

Obama and Israel

Naturally there's those who declare that Obama is an enemy of Israel. I don't buy it. But there's a hubbub that's been causing trouble. As per Ben Smith at the focus is on a guy, Robert Malley, who hates Israel and is listed as a foreign policy advisor. Here's the text of a post I made on the Spine (where Peretz also defends Obama of the charges):
About Obama and Malley: According to Ben Smith at the Obama campaign doesn't entirely disavow Malley, nor is it clear whether Malley is part of the Middle East advisory team or not. Some reporters should look further into this.

It's likely that the Obama campaign picked up whatever leftovers from the Clinton administration it could and Malley came along for the ride based on reputation.

Until I hear something from Obama that sounds like it comes from Malley, I think it's OK to give BHO a pass on it. As rhubarbs says, Obama hasn't hugged any terrorist spouses (unlike Hillary). I'm surprised more people don't remember that.
Backpost finished 2009-12-23.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Obama's Super Tuesday Performance

2009 Update: Modified from an email to my brother; the names of congregants have been changed.

As I've been saying to everyone in earshot, don't listen to the Hillary spin - Obama actually 'won' Super Tuesday because he received the most delegates... and that's the score that matters. In baseball, for a simile, the winner is not who gets on base more, but who crosses home plate more. Obama crossed home more than Hillary.

Don't believe me, see this Politico piece:
"NBC News, which is projecting delegates based on the Democratic Party's complex formula, figures Obama will wind up with 840 to 849 delegates, versus 829 to 838 for Clinton. "
What do we know:Obama is still climbing in the polls, does not have Hillary's negatives, and does well in red states. Yet, you can say, Hillary has her great points too! She's got experience! She's slept with a former president (then again, so did Gennifer Flowers... a potential running mate). Hillary has health care experience! 15 years ago - with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress - she destroyed any chance to get health care!

And she's old. Which is what "experience" means.

This morning, my second favorite congregant [Mr. Chuckletrousers] was gloating at Hillary's win. Yeah, he supports Hillary. She has "experience." Anyway, he said to me (because he knows I hate Hillary) that it's a known fact that the presidents who came into office without experience were bad presidents. To which I responded: "Yeah, Abraham Lincoln was terrible! And you know who was good? George Herbert Walker Bush."

Yup, I said it. I have witnesses.

A few days ago, [Mr. Happypants] (another Hillary supporter... because of "experience") said that he's worried that Obama won't be good for Israel. And I asked him if Obama has hugged Suha Arafat any time recently?

All in all, I'd bet on Obama right now. Good thing too.

Oh, by the way, Obama does pretty well with White Men over Hillary. She has locked up the white women (sorry, that's a bad image vis-a-vis Obama, but that's probably the image Hillary and her race-baiting scumbag advisers like), but will she win any white men in November?

Quick answer: No. They'll flock to McCain

Long answer: Hell no. White men hate Hillary. As P.J. O'Rourke described her: she's America's ex-wife.

Pic from here. Backpost finished 2009-12-18.

Caucuses and Obama

Body of a letter I sent to TPM:
I just submitted this comment on the New Republic's Plank, intended for Judis or somebody to answer, but you guys are good at these things too:

Obama's wins in caucuses should be emphasized. Looking at the win differentials (from the NYT), Hillary's biggest numbers (above 20) were in Arkansas (+42) and Oklahoma (+24) but Obama had Alaska (+49), Colorado (+34), Georgia (+35), Idaho (+62), Kansas (+48), Minnesota (+35), and North Dakota (+25).

These big blowout numbers came from states with caucuses (AK, CO, ID, KS, MN, ND). Georgia is the only non-caucus on his big list (and the last caucus state to report is New Mexico which always seems to be a few days slow).

What does it say that Obama wins big in caucuses?
Pic from this great website. Backpost finished 2009-12-18.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Good Line from McArdle

Megan McArdle, about finance:
"[Recall] the old trader's adage: the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent."
Pic from here. Backpost finished 2009-12-21.

Video of the Day: Will Ferrell Superbowl Commercial

Recommended by my brother. Note, I've still not seen the movie Ferrell's character's from:

Backpost finished 2009-12-20.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Ninja Wisdom of the Day

"I'm not advocating violence... I'm just saying that it works and I highly suggest using it"

- The Ask the Ninja, Ninja

Backpost finished 2009-12-19.