Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My New Lifesaver: Mucinex 1200

My allergies are the stuff of legend. And Connecticut has not been kind to them (mainly because most houses here are 100+ years old and without A/C... air conditioning, it's not just about cool air, it's also about getting the sneeze-making crud out of the windpipes).

A new lifesaver in the war against Histamines, Congestion and Associated Scum is Mucinex 1200. Mucinex is guaifenesin - a non-stimulant decongestant. Sudafed (pseudoephedrine hydrochloride) for example will bang my heart like a pinata. Mucinex works very well, doesn't stress the ticker, and the 1200 is a 12 hour timed release pill.

I'd be happy to see a 2400/24-hour pill, but the 1200 is already as big as my pinkie from tip to first knuckle... a 2400 would probably be too big to be taken orally (but a patch would be wunderbar!)

Joke of the Day

I hate to give credit to some moron on balloon juice who's the biggest Hillary supporter around, but this is a funny joke:
Q: Why does West Virgina have the highest unsolved murder rate in the nation?

A: No dental records and the DNA is all the same.

Name Change

Because I was away for almost two weeks, I was logging on (and blogging) from strange computers and that displaced vantage point made me realize that I don't like seeing "Life in the Styx II" on the top of the blog. I called it "II" when I needed to create a new blog after blogger futzed up the first one. But those days are long gone and I think it's time to tighten up the code on the ol' blog.

Hillary Boatwatch Widget

Just added the Hillary odds/boatwatch widget to the bottom of the page (right next to the Backwards Bush widget, which you may not have known even existed). Again, just doin' my part to push Hillary's suicide-pact with destiny to it's foregone conclusion.

Chai to Obama

Now that I'm oompa-loompa free (a phrase I explain here), I can freely, in good conscience, give money to politicians. Just gave a multiple of chai to Obama's campaign through Balloon-Juice's page on ActBlue. Why this way?
  1. To Obama? for obvious reasons.

  2. With Actblue? Because they do good work for the Democratic party, across the board, allowing individuals in random locales to give to struggling "blue" campaigns all across the country.

  3. Giving Balloon-Juice credit? Because John Cole is a repentant republican who now hates Bush, wants a Democrat in '08, and is a sane supporter of Obama.
A number of the BJ readers give a few bucks to Obama whenever Hillary does something outrageous. It's a good - albeit expensive - minhag.

Jeffrey Goldberg

I have not been a fan of journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, stretching back to his writing about Israel in the New Yorker which was followed by shallow articles on American Politics - two topics I know a lot about. But he's a new blogger at the Atlantic. And he made this website about jewish rock musicians (something I am also interested in).

Let's see if he redeems himself in the blogger-dome.

Obama's Repudiation of Wright

Yesterday Obama (finally) cut off any relationship with his former pastor, the Rev. "Al Sharpton" Wright. Full transcript here (NYTimes). Key passages below, and the video from MSNBC:

"You know, I have been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ since 1992. I have known Reverend Wright for almost 20 years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church.

They certainly don't portray accurately my values and beliefs. And if Reverend Wright thinks that that's political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn't know me very well. And based on his remarks yesterday, well, I may not know him as well as I thought, either.

Now, I've already denounced the comments that had appeared in these previous sermons. As I said, I had not heard them before. And I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia, explaining that he has done enormous good in the church."


"What we saw yesterday out of Reverend Wright was a resurfacing and, I believe, an exploitation of those old divisions."

We get these points from the repudiation:
  1. Wright acted like a different man when Obama sat in the pews.
  2. Hence, Wright's current diatribes are not the voice of Obama's religion.
  3. Moreover, Obama's claiming that Wright's behavior is not like the greater Black church experience.
  4. Obama was trying to be nice and respectful to his "crazy uncle" Wright throughout the campaign and especially in the Philadelphia speech. But since Wright repaid the courtesy with selfish rudeness, Obama is no longer going to tolerate him.
  5. The 'exploitation' line is my favorite because it sounds like Obama is painting Wright as a newly born Al Sharpton - someone who now has tasted the limelight and won't go away.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Lasers vs. Lightning

This Optics journal article is causing some buzz on the internets because it purports to show how you can cause lightning by shooting clouds with lasers. Or something. I am, quite frankly, not an expert in optics.

Anyhoo, what I wonder is why we're spending time trying to create lighting with lasers and not actually just weaponize the lasers in the first place. Yeah, a good lightning bolt up your foe's tuchus has appeal, but so does a laser bolt in the same locale.

And, Megan, if you read my blog, as a male I have to emphasize that I never lose the belief that I will, some day, have superpowers.

Princeton Pit-Stop

Monday we drove back from Maryland (where we spent Pesach - one of the benefits of stepping down from a pulpit, even if it did come from a brace of oompa-loompas) to Connecticut and were able to take a lunch stop in Princeton.

I hadn't been back in almost 10 years and there's been many changes to campus (a new college, for example). Alas, it was raining very hard and with two small youngin's to care for, all we were able to do is run to the CJL to get in under the 1:15 pm lunch-bell cut off.

The CJL is just the same as I remember it (even though many more rooms have been taken over by Hillel... which is what I expected 15 years ago when I first fought the Yavneh-Hillel War. Yavneh still has the same slanted-roof attic hovel that we appropriated back in '93, but Hillel has every other available room). It is nice to see that the kitchen is under the hashgacha of the O-U with it's own mashgiach. Good show. Next stop: eruv.

My kids enjoyed the lunch (which, being the day after Pesach, was the best they could probably manage). My youngest ran around like the smiley-faced crazy man that he is, entertaining the kitchen staff. It was also nice to see Joy again (she retires in 3 years) and even ol' Oscar is still around.

While I was "moose-herding" (running after my kids), I picked up a Daily Princetonian and was glad to see that the stable, staid ol' alma mater is keeping it's stodgy reputation with this story (which I am not making up): "Freshman charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault."

Ah, those college kids.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Pie and Thomas Friedman

Or, as another blogger put it: "Don't Pie Me, Bro!"

I don't like the NYTimes' Thomas Friedman at all. He's a pompous ignoramous, especially about Israel. Par for the course for the Times which now appears to have NOBODY of value on the op-ed page. Anyway, some pissant group of puerile environmentalists threw pies at Friedman right before he was to give an Earth Day address at Brown University:

A few thoughts:
  1. As a professional public speaker, watching this video put me in a cold sweat. I don't like thinking that I can get attacked on a podium and I don't condone it - even for the pie attack vs. Ann Coulter. It's the mildest kind of terrorism - near the level of vandalism - but still terrorism. And I condemn it.
  2. I still don't understand why Friedman was targeted. Evidently it has to do with his bad attitudes about environmental policy. "Greenwashing" so I'm told. Yawn.
  3. Brown University should prosecute the terrorists to the full extent of the law. They caught one of the schmucks. No joke: Brown should expel the student - for the assault on an invited guest, and for embarrassing the students, faculty, and alumni. If I were Friedman, I would bring suit against the student for assault, public embarrassment, etc.
h/t Yglesias.

Update: If you really want to mock Friedman, read this. (h/t RBC)

Map of Support

A very nice graphic showing the regional strength of Hillary and Obama.

h/t Yglesias.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Reality Check on the Math

From Prof. Mark Kleiman at 'Same-facts':
Barack Obama is now roughly 300 votes shy of the magic number of 2025 needed to clinch the nomination. (DemConWatch says 301, the campaign says "within 300." The difference might be in the "unpledged add-on delegates" [UADs].)

Of those, he will get about 70 in North Carolina (assuming a 20-point win) and about 30 in Indiana (assuming a 10-point loss). That brings him within 200 (less whatever superdelegates commit between now and then).

Even on pessimistic assumptions (only a 20-point win in Oregon, 30-point stompings in Kentucky and West Virginia, a 20-point loss in Puerto Rico, narrow wins in Montana and South Dakota) he will pick up just shy of 100 votes in the remaining states.

That means he will need about 100 of the remaining 305 superdelegates (including the "add-ons"). He automatically picks up at least six of those from the "Pelosi Club" of supers who have pledged to support the pledged-delegate winner.

DemConWatch shows Obama with only 8 add-ons (to Clinton's 3). His actual add-on total will be about 45 (to Clinton's 31). That comes of winning so many contests.

So between the "Pelosi Club" and the add-ons, Obama gains about 40 of the 100 or so he needs to clinch, but by the same token the pool of remaining uncommitted ex-officio superdelegates shrinks to 235.

So, as of now, Obama needs to get 60 of those 235 people, or just over a quarter. (He can get by with fewer to the extent that he gets votes from among the 18 delegates pledged to Edwards.)

If you're a superdelegate, or John Edwards, that means you need to keep a careful count of Obama's pickups among superdelegates. Your leverage to exact glory or favors or policy concessions reaches its maximum when you're one of the last few needed to push him over the top, but it goes to near zero the day he gets that 2025th commitment. If Obama can keep announcing a superdelegate a day, that would come just about the time the primaries are over in early June. But at some point — maybe as early as the morning after North Carolina and Indiana if he wins big in NC and wins or keeps close in Indiana — the remaining supers will start a rush to cash in their chits before the chits become worthless.

The remaining practical question is not "Who is going to be the nominee?": we've known that since Ohio and Texas voted. The remaining practical question is "When does the bandwagon roll?"
To reiterate: Obama can end this before the convention. Thank the good sweet Lord.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Our Broken Press, Part Mucho

No surprises, right, if the Times is being stupid. This 'time' (har) it's from the modern journalistic disease of Even-Handed-itis. Even though, in the world of objective facts, the Clinton campaign has been playing dumb and dirty, the Times cannot say that because factual objectivity is not a goal of modern journalism, the only 'objectivity' the mavens pursue is 'partisanship equality.' That is, the Times needs to blame both sides - basically by puffing up minor events on one side and quashing major events on the other side, to make both ends equal. This way, the Times cannot be accused of 'bias' or 'partisanship.' Observe:
Mr. Obama is not blameless when it comes to the negative and vapid nature of this campaign. He is increasingly rising to Mrs. Clinton’s bait, undercutting his own claims that he is offering a higher more inclusive form of politics. When she criticized his comments about “bitter” voters, Mr. Obama mocked her as an Annie Oakley wannabe. All that does is remind Americans who are on the fence about his relative youth and inexperience.
Got that. Even though, to any neutral observer, "the negative and vapid nature of this campaign" has been caused totally by Hillary, when Obama needs to fight back ("Mr. Obama mocked her as an Annie Oakley wannabe") he's considered to be contributing.

And if you're thinking, hey, this sounds exactly how the Times treats Israel's responses to terrorism, then you get a prize.

Just listen to him here and ask if he is out of line. (Answer: nope)

Our Broken Press, Part Three Billion

This type of thinking reminds me of 'regional diversity' at Princeton. When the powers-that-were wanted to reduce the overall numbers of dark people and Jews from the lily-white campus, they embarked on "regional diversity" - meaning they recruited students from all over the country. This sounds fine, no? Diversity is good, no? No. Because 'good' diversity means having people from different (or 'diverse') backgrounds, skills, life-experiences, etc. 'Regional diversity' was used to avoid the urban areas - which are large populations over a spatially small location - and go to the rural areas.

Conclusion? Even though 10 people chosen at random in NYC would be quite diverse, 10 people chosen at random from each state will yield a nice crop of white Anglo-Saxon stock students. But Princeton had cover, because some marketing genius called it 'regional diversity.' (For another painful irony, see 'political correctness' as it was used in the 90s to support bigotry).

This is a fancy way of saying that while 'partisan equality' can claim to be a way of giving voice to both sides, as I described above, it almost always involves exaggeration and distortion. And the goal, while its claimed to be for equality, is actually in the service of the nihilistic 'horse-race.'

The Horse Race

I'm not the first to talk about this problem, but I have been studying it for a while. It's a direct result of turning the news industry - which was always seen as loss-leaders by philanthropists or companies who wanted respectability and we willing to lose money on a paper to get it - into a news business. When jackasses decided to make a profit from the news - nihilists like Ted Turner (CNN), Rupert Murdoch (Fox), and Al Neuharth (USA Today)- then the whole first-amendment protected industry became entertainment instead of information. When we thought that newspapers were 'the first draft of history' that was only when, like academia, profit was taken out of the equation.

But since news is now to make money, the owners of mass-media need to script the news the best they can. Just as 'reality shows' have the semblance of in-vivo action but are in fact highly controlled and edited narratives, so too is news production by these profit insisting outlets. True, news can't be as scripted as a TV show, but unlike - ironically - sports, where rules govern action so as to ensure fair and real action on the field, the news agencies act like the Black Sox more than referees.

Another version of the sports metaphor is to compare TV News to 'professional' wrestling (which, come to think of it, is another oxymoron, like 'regional diversity'). Pro wrestling, unlike Olympic Greco-Roman, is scripted and fake. The scripts require a good guy to fight a bad guy. Conflict sells (and is the essence of theater, ask Bugs Bunny).

The Times needs to write stupid columns like the above example because they need to keep the semblance of even-odds in the campaign, for the two reasons above: (1) they need to act according to one definition of objectivity, and they chose the most lucrative, least ethical one, and (2) they need to make a profit, sell newspapers/ad space; and that comes from faking equality.

First pic from here, second pic is recycled. Backpost finished 2009-12-07.

Hunters and Shooters Support Obama: He "Gets It"

A few days ago, the Huffington post reported that the American Hunters and Shooters Organization Supports Obama. This group, according to the Wiki, appears to be a moderate (Democrat) pro-gun lobby. In any case, in the wake of Hillary's Annie-Oakley offensive, this group endorsed Obama and repudiated Hillary:
"Senator Obama has clearly demonstrated his commitment to the 2nd Amendment by his vote in support of the Vitter amendment to HR 5441, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill of 2007. This amendment prevents the Government from confiscating guns in a time of crisis or emergency. Imagine how the citizens felt during Hurricane Katrina when government agents kicked in doors to confiscate law abiding citizens' guns at a time when they needed them the most. We know Senator Obama 'gets it.' To say that he is an elitist is patently ridiculous."
This is good news for Obama, both because the more endorsements the better, and because it shows just how judicious and wise Obama is. I also would support the Vitter amendment, and it's a great example of a smart pro-gun policy.

There Have Been Worse?

I've heard many times from the bloviating pundits that the Democratic primary has been mild and tame compared to primaries in the past. Yeah? Like what?! I've heard this over and over and it's been smugly accepted. Sure, the GOP vs Dem fights have been worse, I remember Willy Horton and all that, but between Democrats?

I've heard 1980 was worse (between Carter and Kennedy). I'm going to see what I can find on youtube etc, to compare. Yeah, inherently running against a sitting president is a 'negative' act, but did Kennedy say that Reagan would be a better Commander in Chief than Carter? That was the lowest that Hillary hit.

OK, a quick Youtube jaunt doesn't find anything that bad from Kennedy, but this commercial should have given Hillary pause:

Kennedy's words, "No More Jimmy Carter," being used in a Reagan campaign commercial. Brrrrr.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Joke of the Day

From my Mom, no less. The set-up was that I mentioned that Jimmy Carter looks like he wants to endorse Obama:

Q: Why does Jimmy Carter want to endorse Obama?
A: Because he thinks he's a secret Muslim.

Holy Macaroni, Nunn Endorses Obama

Wow. Former Senators Sam Nunn (GA) and David Boren (OK) have endorsed Obama. This is big news. Until very recently, both men were on board to start a third party, helmed by Bloomberg, to "solve" the problems of the red state-blue state battles. I felt at the time that Obama was the only candidate that didn't try to exploit those battles and as such the Bloomberg-acrats were rendered moot. Well, this proves it.

I don't know much about Boren, but Nunn is very big news. He was the dean of the Democratic defense authority and a big ol' good ol' boy from Georgia. If he had only run in '88, he could've beaten George HW Bush for certain.

Ambinder, where I read this story, says that Boren: "Boren left the Senate in 1994 and is a former chairman of what used to be called the Senate Select Committee on intelligence. He also spent 16 years as governor of Oklahoma."

Both men will also join Obama's national security kitchen cabinet. And either one of them would make a great Secretary of Defense. This is great news.

Update: Back in January, when I listed possible VPs for Obama, I did bring up Nunn and Boren. I thought Nunn was sticking with his loony third party and that Boren's state (Oklahoma) had no swing qualities. Nunn would be a great VP if he wants it, but I reiterate my Sec-Def thing as well.

My Man Edwards on Colbert

From last night, a cameo on Colbert by my man, John Edwards:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Elitism, Democrats, Republicans

As I claimed back in 2007 both Democrats and Republicans have narrative advantages, Democrats when it comes to women and race, GOP about the military and security. Another theme/narrative that has burst through in the past few years is the concept that Democrats are the rich/elites and the GOP are the blue-collar Joes. Naturally, this is incorrect to the point of being insulting and even evil (given that the GOP under Bush has acted as a kleptocracy hell bent on stealing from the middle class to support the super-rich. Don't believe me? Then stop watching Fox News and have a view outside the rectum).

Because I don't watch TV News - as the phrase is almost always an oxymoron - I don't see much of this narrative being drawn in real time. But it is. Here are two stories, the first from 2001 and is referenced by the second which is what sparked this post.

Slate magazine: O'Reilly Among the Snobs: It takes one to know one. By Michael Kinsley, March 2, 2001. Sample:
"Yet O'Reilly, like many other people, clings to the fantasy that he is a stiff among the swells. "
How Blue Is Your Collar? by Paul Waldman:
And the easiest way to show you're still cool with the folks back in the neighborhood is to blather on about how Democrats (and it's always only Democrats) aren't. Had you been watching cable television in the days following the release of Bill's and Hillary's tax returns, you would have seen copious braying about whether the fact that the Clintons have made over $100 million since leaving the White House means that Hillary will have trouble "connecting" with regular folks with modest incomes. But no one brought up the fact that, according to the Associated Press, Cindy McCain is worth the same amount, $100 million. Among the McCains' many homes are a $4.6 million condo in Phoenix (that must be some condo), another condo in Virginia, and their $1.8 million estate on 15 acres in lovely Sedona.

But the default assumption for the press is that Republicans, no matter where they summer or who their fathers were or where they went to school, just relate to honest, hardworking folks. For Democrats, on the other hand, the assumption is just the opposite. Would any Democrat whose father was a president and whose grandfather was a senator, and who attended Andover, Yale, and Harvard, have been able to get away with George W. Bush?s down-home reg'lar fella routine without the likes of Matthews and Russert ridiculing them mercilessly for being not just an elitist but a phony to boot? Not in a million years.
This is a battle over the 'Reagan Democrats' but it's also one of the fiercest ironies of the current political landscape - that blue-blooded jillionaires successfully make the claim that they represent the 'little guy' whilst simultaneously screwing said little guy out of money, benefits, and protections. I don't have any predictions as to when this bubble will burst, but if/when it does, I hope it will have the same devastation as the other bubbles of our recent history.

Pic from here of the most true blue collar worker ever. And jokes on us, he's an undocumented immigrant from Belgium. Backpost finished 2009-12-07.

Information Saving the World

As loath as I am to use a New York Times story as proof, this one does prove what I said earlier about the information revolution, and what the implications are.

Hillary and George W.

Some dude responds to my balloon post: (specifically this part: "Before every contest Hillary claims X will happen and it doesn’t. But they swiftly say, after the contest, that they expected non-X, in fact non-X means victory.")
jake Says: that sounds familiar: When we see a decrease of violence in Iraq we’ll know we’re winning! An increase of violence in Iraq means we’re winning!
So I add:

The comparisons between Hillary and George W Bush are frightening. No, not similarities in politics but in attitude and tactics.

How many times did Hillary ignore a losing strategy just because she was too stubborn to admit failure?

How many stumblebum people has she kept on board because she treasures loyalty over competence?

The list could go on, but the similarities are manifest. The two share the same traits because they are both untalented people who have been thrust through circumstance and kinship into a leadership position higher than they would have attained otherwise.

The are the traits of shallow, scared people who bully others to make up for their shining inadequacies. I don't think I need to convince people here that Bush is a bully, but Hillary is as well. Someone who attacks below the belt and then plays the victim card when counter-attacked is a bully.

When people say they will vote for McCain over Hillary it's often because while McCain will have the same POLICIES of Bush, he has a different attitude: confidence, even honesty (which is a crock for McCain, but he projects it well).

A handy chart:
Hillary - good POLICIES, bad PERSONALITY

Set Rules for Hillary

The reason why FLOTUS (a.k.a. the Tulza Tiger) is still a convincing contender in this race is because her team has successfully re-written the narrative after every defeat.

Before every contest Hillary claims X will happen and it doesn't. But they swiftly say, after the contest, that they expected non-X, in fact non-X means victory.

For example, she won Ohio but lost Texas. Before those primaries, we were told - by pundits, and Hillary people alike - that she had to win big to stay in the race. Well she didn't win big, in fact she lost half, yet her group reframed Ohio-Texas as confirmation that she must keep fighting.

And who can forget the reframing - still ongoing - of Michigan and Florida.

What needs to be done NOW, before Pennsylvania, is for the DNC and the Associated Uncommitted Superdelegates Inc. to state clearly that if Hillary gets X in Pennsylvania, then she's still viable, and if it's non-X they want her to drop out.

If past performance is any indication, she will not get X and the pressure to step down will be hard for her to deny.

Cross-posted at Balloon Juice

Wilentz Back in 2006

A few days ago, I savaged my former professor Sean Wilentz for being a pro-Hillary hack. While going through my archives, I came across this article he wrote for Rolling Stone back in 2006 that shows the steepness of his decline from 'must read' to 'never read.'

Monday, April 14, 2008

Obama Defends Lieberman in 2006

Never saw this story before, but Obama was gracious and nice to Lieberman back in 2006 in a gutsy way:
HARTFORD, March 31 — Three times on Thursday night, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman asked the crowd of 1,700 for quiet during his remarks at the state Democrats' annual Jefferson Jackson Bailey fund-raising dinner. "Shhh," he told the guests. But rather than interrupting him with applause, many were ignoring him, having struck up conversations after finishing their chicken. The inattentiveness — as well as the scattered boos amid the supportive calls of "Joe" that welcomed Mr. Lieberman to the podium — convinced some that the three-term senator, criticized for months because of his continued support for the war in Iraq, may be vulnerable in the primary challenge he faces.


A few minutes later, however, the audience was riveted as Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, the guest speaker at the $175-a-plate dinner, stood on the podium and began the customary round of recognition of candidates and incumbents in the room. When he got to Mr. Lieberman, who is his mentor in the Senate and who helped recruit him to speak at the event, the applause again was muted.

"I know that some in the party have differences with Joe," Senator Obama said, all but silencing the crowd. "I'm going to go ahead and say it. It's the elephant in the room. And Joe and I don't agree on everything. But what I know is, Joe Lieberman's a man with a good heart, with a keen intellect, who cares about the working families of America."

Then, with applause beginning to build, he finished the thought: "I am absolutely certain that Connecticut's going to have the good sense to send Joe Lieberman back to the United States Senate."

That time, people cheered loudly.
Again, the more we find out about Obama the more we see he's a class act. Recently, I am having a lot of trouble defending Lieberman, but I like him personally and I'm glad to see someone defend him like this.

h/t: this guy.

Zombie Preparedness

Like many red-blooded American males, I consider myself an expert on how to fight a post-apocalyptic zombie horde. Part of this comes from watching documentaries and reading manuals like the Zombie Survival Guide (as I wrote about here).

Now Wired magazine gets into the game with their advice about how to fight zombies (see Part 1 and part 2).

I haven't read the treatises yet, but I hope they meet the high standards one expects from such literature.

h/t Sullivan.

Update: The article wasn't so bad, the book is much better. And it linked to a Zombie Preparedness Wiki. Well that's nice.

Top Pulpit Rabbis

This has got to be a first. Newsweek has put together a list of the top-25 pulpit rabbis in America - a subject I know a little bit about - and I actually agree with much of the rankings. Go figure.

Back to School

No, I don't mean the movie (although, I do like to imagine myself as Rodney every once in a while, especially as Al Czervik).

Ahem. Anyway. I have officially accepted a fellowship at a university in Massachusetts to (finally) pursue my Ph.D. in the social sciences. I am being vague because I'm still under the delusion that I can hide my identity on the blog and I don't want to give too many clues.

My wife also got a very nice job as an assistant professor in a Massachusetts university, which means that we actually did get jobs in the same city (not easy to do).

We'll be leaving sunny New Haven for even sunnier Taxachusetts after the school year ends.

Why I Don't Read/Watch Iraq News

Pundits and associated bottom-dwellers have decried Americans' lack of interest in stories about Iraq. The Mainstream Media know of the lack of interest and comply by scaling back their stories about Iraq. The pundits (usually liberal ones) claim that because the horrific violence is no longer in our eyeballs every day that means we Americans are being fooled about how bad Iraq is.


I can't speak for my fellow Americans (unlike other pundits/bloggers/Hillaries), but I can talk about why I can't read/watch any news about Iraq.

Because I'm bitter about the war. Yeah, the magic word, 'bitter.' Obama said that blue-collar voters are bitter about their economic fate but have realized that Washington won't do anything about it. So they rely on things they do care about. And that's how I feel about Iraq.

The war is a terrible, horrible, failure. It can't get better. The House of Representatives is on board to end the war, the Senate is deadlocked (for why, see here), and the executive branch is hell-bent-for-leather to do whatever it wants. The war will not end before January 21, 2009 (and then, only if Obama wins).

So because the war won't end, and because it's so freakin' obvious except for solipsistic partisans that the war is hopeless, there's nothing nothing nothing I can do about it.

Hatred led to bittness. Bitterness led to this 'knowing apathy.' I don't avoid the news because I don't care, I avoid the news because I care so very much, and can't do anything about it, that to avoid bursting my ulcer every day, I need to avoid the news.

Richard Falk

I had no idea who Richard Falk was, nor that he was on Princeton's faculty while I was there, but Marty Peretz thinks he's an anti-Zionist conspiracy theorist and despite MP's lunacies, he's usually right about who's an enemy. I don't like Princeton harboring schkutzes like that.


I saw someone on Balloon Juice used this to describe Hillary and I think it's a great nickname. It's the officially approved acronym for First Lady Of The U.S. which is her late-great job experience. And the word sounds funny. Flotus flotus flotus.

Hillary's Latest Attack

Just submitted to Balloon Juice:

Two points:

1. I remember hearing that because Mark Penn was leaving the campaign, the new guy (whomever) will be all nicey-nicey, and the party-destroying attacks on Obama would cease? Well I guess from 'bitter-gate' and Hillary's imitation of Romney The Varmint Slayer, we can conclude either (a) Penn is still calling the shots, or (b) Penn never called the (negative) shots and it was always Hillary

2. The Charlie Rose video JC posted has Obama saying the same 'bitter' talking points back in 2004. Except that he was referencing the famous book "What's the Matter with Kansas." Now I haven't read the book yet, but I remember it being an almost Bible to Democrats after the terrible '04 loss. As such, if Obama is just saying what that book said, and the book is accepted gospel by the Democrats, then how dare Hillary mock Obama for this?

Yeah, I know, she'll doing anything to get elected. As some other commenter noted, it's tactics not strategy. But this kind of stuff pisses off the biggest most important constituency she has to convince: the super-delegates.

Baracky: The Movie

This is totally awesome:

h/t: This guy.

Whatever Happened to the Unknown Comic?

Whilst a young lad, I always loved catching glimpses of the Unknown Comic on the tawdry game shows that allowed him on. John Cole links to a nice nostalgic clip:

So what happened to him (and who was he)? Well, that's why e-God created the Wiki: "The Unknown Comic is the stage name for Canadian-American actor and stand-up comic Murray Langston." OK, I have a name, so far so good, what about part 2? I hope he's not dead: "In the early 1990s, Langston decided to retire from show business to concentrate on raising his daughter as a single father." Fine.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

CNN Isn't Buying it Either

The wags in the mainstream media have called it 'bitter-gate.' This is when Barack Obama - who's running on the platform of 'change Washington DC' - is accused of being an elitist because he says blue-collar voters are bitter. If that isn't bad enough, two of the richest people in the Senate (McCain, Hillary C) are saying that Obama's comments prove he's elitist and out of touch.

I won't take much more space or time in explaining why this is both a non-issue while making McCain and Hillary look like idiots. I'll just link to this remarkable clip from CNN where three reporters - not members of any campaign staff - decry McCain & Hillary as being shamefully out-of-touch hacks. Wow.

h/t BJ.

Kevin Smith & George Lucas

The Onion AV Club has a feature "The New Cult Canon" (which is about what you'd think) and Scott Tobias' entry on Kevin Smith's Clerks (IMDB Wiki) is about as scathing a summary of why Kevin Smith sucks as it should be. I remember hearing the buzz and then seeing the movie and wondering 'why is this any good?' The acting is atrocious and the dialogue was depraved. The rumor that it almost got an X-rating for language has an empirical basis.

Tobias is also correct about the well-known Death Star scene, whose decent dialogue was ruined by the painfully bad acting:
O'Halloran and Anderson aren't skilled enough as actors to serve as more than mouthpieces for Smith's lowbrow gags and bits of philosophy, and they often choke on his reams of dialogue. (Smith has always been praised for his tart screenplays, but to me, he's a writer much too in love with his own voice; his films are littered with scenes that are allowed to drag on several beats longer than they should.)... That said, even Anderson can't trample over this fine monologue about the destruction of the Death Star in Return Of The Jedi:

It's (unwittingly?) ironic that Smith talks about Lucas because both of them share the same directorial trait: that while they may know where to place a camera directing is also how to get the actors to do what is necessary to be good actors. And while I can't necessarily argue about their camera skills, neither Smith or Lucas's actors come off as convincing. How else could Natalie Portman be horrible for Lucas yet in the same year be nominated for an Oscar in another film?

Backpost; put up 11-10-2009. Pic from here.

Onion Analysis

One thing I appreciate about the skill of the Onion is their ability to take any event - especially tragic ones - and find the funny. They did an admirable job after 9/11 (see here). Below is the recent joke they had about Charlton Heston's death that made me think about this:

Charlton Heston's Gun Taken From His Cold, Dead Hands

P.S. for those who don't get the joke, this from the Times obit:
In Mr. Heston, the N.R.A. found its embodiment of pioneer values — pride, independence and valor. In a speech at the N.R.A.’s annual convention in 2000, he brought the audience to its feet with a ringing attack on gun-control advocates. Paraphrasing an N.R.A. bumper sticker ("I’ll give you my gun when you take it from my cold, dead hands"), he waved a replica of a colonial musket above his head and shouted defiantly, "From my cold, dead hands!"

Fun: Onion Tells Truth, Again

The Onion gets a scoop, and they probably know it:
Sabra Hummus: Cedar's Hummus Lacks Experience Necessary To Become America's No. 1 Hummus

NEW YORK—Sabra Hummus blasted rival Cedar's Hummus Monday for lacking the ability, competence, and texture that Americans deserve from their hummus. "People of this country don't want some flash-in-the-pan hummus," said Sabra chairman Yehuda Pearl, adding that Sabra's strong coalition of mashed up chickpeas, sesame tahini, lemon juice, and garlic is virtually unbeatable. "When it's 3 a.m., which hummus do Americans trust for their pita chip–dipping? Some new hummus that makes a lot of promises about taste, or a hummus with over 20 years experience serving the American people?" Critics of both brands say that Sabra and Cedar's are essentially the same, offering citizens no difference in flavor, protein content, and quality
Hummus anecdote: Back in 1991, after living in Israel for a few months, I began to get addicted to hummus (as anyone who lives in Israel for a while will understand). I lived in Efrat, which in '91 was a itty-bitty town that had expectations of grandeur. As proof of the grandeur, they had a real sized supermarket in the center of town, probably the only supermarket south of Jerusalem until you got to Be'er Sheva. Anyway, I would get supplies at the supermarket for my "meal supplements" (the food at my yeshiva was so bad that I actually took to fasting so I could break the fast on real food). The hummus that was exclusively sold at the supermarket, in enormous tubs? Sabra.

Direct Downloadable PDFs of Kosher for Passover Lists

Direct Downloadable PDFs of Kosher for Passover Lists:
1. Kosher Quest

2. Star-K

3. Chicago Rabbinic Council

4. OU & the searchable website

Article from Rabbi J. David Bleich on the fun laws of Shabbat-Erev Pesach.

h/t NCYI.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Daily Targum?!?

OK, in a standard online ping-pong surf, I was looking at Spencer Ackerman's catty blog (and his attacks on familiar names from the New Republic) and I wanted to see why he was fired from the TNR (his own claim is because his life appears to be a chapter in a punk soap-opera). Anyhoo, the Wiki page on Ackerman says that he went to Rutgers and was the editor of their newspaper, the Daily Targum.

Now 'targum' sounds like a familiar word. But maybe it's the name of the founder or something. Nope; according to the wiki:
1866: Then Rutgers President William H. Campbell lectures to Rutgers men on the original text of the Old Testament, including Aramaic language paraphrases of the Hebrew Scriptures, called Targums. The word "Targum" means interpretation in Aramaic and is used as a slang word when referring to crib sheets, among various Aramaic terms that become part of the campus vernacular. This is the inspiration for the name of the forthcoming periodical.
Now, I thought it was weird that Yale has Hebrew on it's logo, but it's not named for an actual Hebrew word ("the Fighting Thummims" or something). The Rutgers paper is the case I know of where a non-Jewish entity is named for an overtly religious-Hebrew term that has not been before or since co-opted as a Christian term.

E.g. Shibboleth, Halleluyah, Amen are all Hebrew words taken into English through Christianity. But 'targum.' Maybe other people know about this already, but I found it weird.

The Top 50 Comedy Sketches

As an expert on comedy (OK, I know, who isn't), I resent the idea that a bunch of internet doofuses would put toegther a list of definite 'greatest comedy sketches of all time.' And like all of these committee driven lists, they have a mandate to include groups & shows that I hate (Kids in the Hall, French & Saunders, Upright Citizens Brigade). However. There are some totally hilarious things I've never seen before. I was shrieking over #48. And I'm still looking... So I thank these anonymous malcontents for their contribution.

h/t: Sullivan.

Horton's Leaving

Scott Horton, the resident blogger at Harper's is hanging up his hat. It's sad. He was a must-read (weekly) for me. He says that blogging was too time consuming. My two cents is that he didn't actually understand that blogging was supposed to be a bunch of brief comments. Instead, he would write long long pieces. It was a newspaper/magazine article every day! And always linked to some high-culture quote from an ancient or classical text! Often requiring translation.

Anyway, I hope he keeps a regular column for Harper's. He was a valuable resource.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Brief: Obama's Mom was an Anthropologist

I had no idea that Obama's mother was an anthropologist! Say no more!

One Positive from the Long Primary

Most right-thinking Democrats want Hillary to just drop out already and let the putative nominee, Obama, get going with the general election. She won't drop out, for predictably flawed psychological reasons, so we need to find some lemonade from the Hillary provided lemons.

One benefit I came up with is based on the campaign finance limits. Each individual donor can give up to $2300 to each candidate. However, as far as I can tell, 2300 can be given for the primary and another 2300 for the general. Hence why Hillary's fundraising numbers are deceptively high: most of her new money is coming from old donors who've maxed out for the primaries. She's in debt and can't spend her new money except in the general (which she won't get). Obama on the other hand is still raking in dough for primaries from millions of small donations of new donors.

So the silver lining is that since Hillary is forcing Obama to go state-to-state in the primary battles, and since Obama would have to do this *anyway* during the general election, he gets to double-dip! He gets to use primary money on what is functionally a general election enterprise. Tah-dah!

Brief Introduction

That is, the introduction of the 'brief' blogging tool. I've been on hiatus so long that there's many topics I should address but not enough time or energy to do so with thoroughness (thoroughty?). When I entitle a post with 'brief' it means that I'll deal with the topic in a sentence or two.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

But W Was Not in the Room, so it's OK

ABC News reports, as the headline says: "Top Bush Advisors Approved 'Enhanced Interrogation'":
In dozens of top-secret talks and meetings in the White House, the most senior Bush administration officials discussed and approved specific details of how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, sources tell ABC News. The so-called Principals who participated in the meetings also approved the use of "combined" interrogation techniques -- using different techniques during interrogations, instead of using one method at a time -- on terrorist suspects who proved difficult to break, sources said. Highly placed sources said a handful of top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects -- whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding. The high-level discussions about these "enhanced interrogation techniques" were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed -- down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.

The advisers were members of the National Security Council's Principals Committee, a select group of senior officials who met frequently to advise President Bush on issues of national security policy. At the time, the Principals Committee included Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.
OK, for the record, the Vice President, Secretaries of Defense and State, Attorney General, Head of CIA and the NSA are not 'top advisors'... they are the CABINET. That is the freakin' executive branch. Just leaving the president out of the room, but inviting everyone else, doesn't give him deniability.

Second of all, uh, we've just been told that the VP and top secretaries agreed to torture people. Yup. Now what? Isn't that kinda worse than, I dunno, Watergate or Monica-gate?

Now what? Huh? Now what's going to happen. Put smart money on 'nothing.'

h/t TPM.

Campaigning and Governing

Basically I agree with Sullivan's response to Ross Douthat about Reagan:
Ross's point is well-taken:
Reagan's '80 campaign was badly mismanaged - he fired nearly all his senior staff after losing the Iowa caucuses, remember - yet once in office he was able to run circles around the Congressional Democrats, and match the canny Gorbachev at brinksmanship. George H.W. Bush won the Presidency by playing the hard-nosed partisan on the campaign trail, but he ended up alienating GOP true believers by cutting deals with Democrats from the White House. Bill Clinton ran as a centrist New Democrat in 1992 but tried to govern as a liberal (gays in the military, Hillarycare), before the '94 debacle forced him back to the middle. And George W. Bush ran two campaigns that were notable for their ruthless competence - yet competence of any sort has been strikingly absent from his administration's governance.
Still ... Reagan saw excessive delegation come back to haunt him in Iran-Contra. The first Bush doesn't count - he ran against Dukakis as Reagan's heir, and his pick of veep was an omen of his lack of popular touch. Clinton's campaign was as disorganized and as fly-by-night as his administration - made good by his prodigious talent. W is indeed the counter-example. His campaigns were crude but very efficient. If Cheney had turned out to be for policy what Rove was to gutter politics, it may have worked out well. But Cheney turned out more turd than blossom, didn't he? Delegation depends on the judgment of the delegated-to.
Basically, we have learned from Bush (and even from Reagan who was a disaster, despite the pagan-like worship of Ron by gen-X conservatives) is that delegation is a terrible leadership model. An idiot at the top means idiocy all the way down.

Moreover, we learn from Bush that campaigning and governing are different tasks - one is essentially ABC (always be closing, with the moral bankruptcy that this NSFW link implies) and governing is the task of responsible adults. Something that the GOP lacks now, and probably doesn't want back again soon.

Pic from here, about the Ronald Reagan caricature in Frank Miller's awesome Dark Knight Returns. Backpost finished 2009-11-29.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Oompa Loompa

I use "Oompa Loompa" to describe people who want to follow religious practices that make them completely interchangeable with others of their kind. Hence, a chareidi wannabe - someone who doesn't learn enough Torah to know how to follow chumras - is often an oompa loompa.

Of course, I'm not referring to anyone specifically. That would be a foolish thing to do on email/blogs.

The Sad Tale of Wilentz

In the last post I described the core constituency of Hillary as basically women, old people, dumb people and racists. So where do Professor Sean Wilentz, and his fuzzy alter-ego Paul Krugman, fit in? Both are not women, dumb, or racist. Why do they hate Obama, and like Hillary, so much.

Part of the answer comes from analyzing their screeds. For Wilentz (who, I should add, was my professor in college and knows me personally, even if won't remember my name correctly), see this piece of guano in the New Republic:
"Making the Case... for Hillary Clinton" and for Krugman, just read any column over the past 4 months.

What both have in common is the small group of the Democratic elite who support Hillary:
  1. Baby-boomers (who are the "old" category of the previous post)
  2. and/or fierce liberals who hate the GOP so much that they want to keep fighting the fractious red-blue wars of the 90s (and the 60s, go figure).
  3. and/or pundits who endorsed Hillary too early - before Obama showed himself the real deal - and are now trapped in either cognitive dissonance or, worse, Pundits Dissonance (the malady that afflicts moron commentators, disallowing them from admitting error).
Wilentz and Krugman are in all three of these groups.

Baby-Boomers Against the Youngin': These hypocrites were inspired by JFK as teenagers, flocked to an inexperienced hillbilly when he was in their age group, but now that the candidate is younger than they are - like the narcissitic nihilists they have been since the banana-peel smoking 60s - they can't handle it. Punk bastards. I'll be glad when they are shoved aside, because the next president will either be the anti-baby boomer Obama (say that 5 times fast) or the stodgy crew-cutted square that the hippie boomers rejected back in the day (McCain).

Liberal Fighters: Nothing quite so sad as a victim turned bully. Especially when they don't know how to bully well. Wilentz and Krugman don't want the culture war to end. They hate Bush and the GOP so much - for what happened to Bill and Hill in the 90s and for what Bush has done since then - and heck, maybe allaway back to Nixon - that they want to keep the fight going. The logic - and Wilentz/Krugman say this explicitly - is that the GOP needs crushing and Obama is a weenie and Hillary is a fighter.

Let's take this apart, because all three premises are wrong. First, we see what a great fighter Hillary has been (even when this was first proposed, back in 1-15, and its crystal clear now): she's awful. A shrill maladriot. She can't convince a drowning man to drink and she can't beat Obama - a political newcomer with a funny name, handicapped skin, and who refuses to fight back! Hillary is as good a fighter as Kerry/Dukakis/Gore. That is, she sucks.

But the real false premise combines the misdiagnosis of Obama and the nature of our battle with the GOP. Assume for a moment that the GOP needs to be punished for the horrific misdeeds of the past 15 years (the Clinton-Bush terms). What's the best way to do that? There's the shrill victim way - that of Hillary/Wilentz/Krugman - which is just fantasy. The victim getting the upper hand on the bully... doesn't happen in the schoolyard, and it certainly doesn't happen in the boardroom. Power is power and doesn't switch hands unless the bully is in a coma.

Which brings us to the weenie charge. Only true weenies - like Hillary/Krugman/Wilentz, and their mentors in weenie-dom: George W. Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, John Yoo, Rush Limbaugh - think that direct conflict is the way to win a war. Obama's skill is that of great politicians (think FDR or LBJ): diplomacy. To quote LBJ: "Remember the prophet Isaiah: Come let us reason together. Telling a man to go to hell and making him go there are two different things." A diplomat will defeat a bully unless he's outnumberd 5:1.

Obama has the true political skill that converts enemies into allies and to get his agenda - which is delightfully left-wing - passed. Bullies and other weaklings want wars because they like the glory of battle (specifcally the glory of winning). Obama, following the principles of Master Sun Tzu, will win. And if Wilentz/Krugman were real culture warriors they would flock to Obama because of that. But they're blinded, or bullies, and can't escape their prisons of thought.

Pundit Dissonance - Just as Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge became towering figures because they were the populist opposition to Pres. Clinton, so academics like Wilentz and Krugman were the necessary opposition to Bush. Especially when the mainstream press rolled over and played dead during these years, these pundits were must-reads, providing information and courage during the dark times. These smart guys became talking-heads, and they lost their academic skills and fell into a papist 'just so' trap, where they considered that their words were incontrovertable truth (note: this is also known as the Charedi Rosh Yeshiva With Only a High School Education trap).

But times have changed since Krugman had been elevated into infallibility. From 2000-2006 his indispensibility was valid and unquestioned. But then came the realigning midterms of 2006, the explosion of trusted blogger journalism, and Youtube. The Democrats now have the GOP in a fair(ish) fight, the news and reality are getting out there. Krugman is not indispensible, and he seems to have let the revolution pass him by.

One proof of Wilentz/Krugman's failure is to assume that Hillary is experienced, and/or liberal, and/or a fighter, or whatever new guano comes out of her self-inflicted wounded bunker. Her claims are demonstrably false. Any intelligent person can see that. Wilentz/Krugman won't. They are infallible! They cannot be wrong. It is we mush-headed youngsters who are being snowed over by a talented black man! Whatever.

The mystery fourth category

Even were my above analysis to be wrong (and it isn't because I am now a pundit), I have discovered, through this painful primary, a mystery fourth category that Wilentz/Krugman - and many other wrinkly Democrats who support Hillary - are in: they are McGovern-Mondale-Dukakis-Kerry Democrats (MMDKD). I'll explain that later.

Backpost: 1/15/08, 1:48 PM. All I had was the link. I'm adding the context and commentary now. Pic from here of Wilentz in 1994, 2 years after I had him in class.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Backpost Cleanup

I have an enormous amount of drafted blog material. I'm going to try to spend some time roto-rootering this atherosclerotic blog, so there's going to be some irrelevancies coming your way.

25 Years: Never Say Never Again

Just a quick post with some love for the heilige Never Say Never Again.

The most recent bond, Casino Royale, was actually as good as I had hoped. We now have an adequate 'beginning' for Bond, the way the book should have been adapted. During the hiatus after the execrable Die Another Day, I had hoped that if they did scrap Brosnon (who was the third best Bond, after Connery and Connery - so good he gets the top two slots) that they should re-start the franchise.

And now that we have the well-crafted Bond beginning, can we finally take Never Say Never Again out of the Apocrypha and put it in the official canon? There the reasons of quality (it's based on the best plot of all Bonds, Thunderball, and is actually much better than the original movie - better villain, technology, women, etc), the reasons of overwhelming sentimentality (it's Connery for goodness sakes) but mainly because it's 'unofficial' nature becomes feature, not a bug.

Because while Casino Royale is the - out of sequence - beginning of Bond. Showing how our hero comes into being and hardens into the ruthless lothario we know... Never Say Never Again shows how Bond will retire. And it's wonderful: living in Ian Fleming's Jamaica, with a young Kim Basinger.

Enjoy the (lo-res) intro:

Pic from here. Backpost finished 2009-11-30. This was totally finished, by the way, but I've fixed a broken link.

'Do the Right Thing' Anniversary

I'm not a fan of Spike Lee, the director. He's a loud, angry bigot. Yes, he's quite talented but that means I put him in the same category as Oliver Stone - their clear talent just makes it easier to effectively transmit their myopic anger. It's odd how a movie-director, whose expertise is in image and spectacle can see the world in such simplistic and monochromatic (in Spike's case literally) terms. When I see one of their films, I feel that I'm being lectured by a loud and stupid co-worker. Thankfully, I can just turn the movie off (not so with work), and therein could be a joy I should find with them: I'll rent their movies just so I can turn them off, achieving a grace that the rest of life denies me.

Note, Lee & Stone's talent is manifest; unlike other screed-screamers (e.g. Michael Moore), their movies need to be taken seriously by movie-buffs. And since I am a self-declared cinefile and I felt it necessary to at least see one Lee film. I had already subjected myself to Stone's Platoon - which was quite good if not simplistic - and Wall Street, whose misapplication by Reaganite greedheads shows Stone's unskilled didacticism, and I was turned off him utterly when I saw a few minutes of Natural Born Killers, an experience I revisit whenever I want to make myself nauseous. Since then, no Stone and I'm a happier and smarter man for it.

Everyone acknowledges that Do the Right Thing is Lee's best film, so while I may have seen it when it came out, I saw it again back in the late 90s. And it's terrible. Seriously bad. The characters are caricatures as imagined through Manichean blinders, the "messages" are telegraphed and dangerous, the portrayal of women sexist, and it's knowledge of human behavior flawed. It's a well-made, yet stupid, movie.

But that's my opinion - and I need to recognize that many people think it's Teh Awesome. It has a 98% ranking at Rotten Tomatoes and for African Americans of my age cohort, the movie said very important things. I acknowledge the movie's power, it's ability to speak to people who are different from me. 1989 was a weird time - we were 9 years in Reagan hell with no end in sight, Apartheid was still the law of South Africa, crack and AIDS were wreaking havoc, and - as stated clearly in the movie - incidents like the Howard Beach 'lynching' was in the minds of the black community.

Yet Lee seemed to just become the cinematic arm of Al Sharpton - and the late 80s was filled with Sharpton's most wicked acts (e.g. Tawana Brawley was 1987). And while it's conventional wisdom that there were false accusations by those 'white people' who claimed that Do the Right Thing would result in riots, just because the movie theatres didn't erupt, is it wrong to connect the call to arms in the movie with the 1991 Crown Heights pogrom or the Rodney King riots in 1992?

Yeah, I know. As a sociologist-in-training how can I claim that a movie that premiered in 1989 lead to riots 2 and 3 years later? Well, uh, if a movie is beloved + advocates, in some measure, violence by young black men as a vehicle for reacting to oppression + young black men react to perceived oppression by rioting soon after = a serious possibility of linked behavior.

Note, I dislike the movie as a piece of art without getting into the real-world misery it may have caused. But I would like to believe that comic book morality can be exposed for what it is and recognized.

All that said, there was a recent interview in New York Magazine with Lee on the 20th anniversary of his movie. And despite all I wrote above, I sympathize with his sentiment here: Q&A With Spike Lee on Making 'Do the Right Thing' -- New York Magazine:
[NY Mag] Do the Right Thing never won an Oscar.

[Spike Lee] Remember what Kim Basinger did? Onstage she said, "The best film of the year is not even nominated, and it’s Do the Right Thing." I didn’t even know her. But when Driving Miss Mother[---]king Daisy won Best Picture, that hurt … No one’s talking about Driving Miss Daisy now."
He's right and not only in this one occasion.

I've written elsewhere about how the Oscar "Best Picture" is often a flash-in-the-sky weepy which moves the maudlin high-school dropouts who populate the 'academy.' Do the Right Thing is no Taxi Driver or Raging Bull, but it was sick irony that a movie about Southern race hierarchy (DMD) beat Lee's movie about race rebellion (and it doesn't help that DMD's nice white people are Jews, that must hurt).

Yet, just to say, Glory was better than both.

And of the big movies of that year, I still watch/own The Abyss, Batman, Hard to Kill, Major League, Say Anything..., Tango & Cash, Uncle Buck, and When Harry Met Sally... This is just to say that popular, effective, films don't often win awards.

First pic of the movie cover, found everywhere. Second pic of the pogrom, found here, third pic from the Wiki. Backpost finished 2009-11-30.