The dangers of mediocre pay-cable TV
Most of the time, House of Lies plays like one of those glossy, empty USA Network shows like White Collar or Psych, but with a butt-load of the sort of sexual activity one can get away with on pay-cable. That means both ends of this creature, so to speak, aren't all that interesting. People talk fast on Psych because the folks making it think you'll mistake that for snappy patter; people have grunting quickies in semi-public places on cable TV because they think it'll turn us on. But there's no novelty or freshness in House of Lies' patter or its penis-placement.The show's crucial weakness is its dead language: The lines have no comic lilt; no exchange between any two characters gives off sparks. When you have an actor with a tongue as adroit as Cheadle, this seems nearly cruel. The sex is brutish and quick, laced with hostility -- orgasm as inflicted punishment. In the second episode, the promise of lively flirtation is proffered the moment the bright-eyed Cat Deeley shows up in an airport cameo. But the show's writers use her the way they use everyone else here -- Deeley ends up looking foolish for being friendly to one of Cheadle's team, even having to stoop to mop up coffee spilled on a man's crotch. (Coffee she didn't even spill herself.)
A little late remembrance
Forgive for being a bit late, but it seems only right that we start the day with the incredible Etta James.
I have not forgotten Morality. I'm working on mag stuff today and hanging around moderating.
The Republican presidential candidate has denied writing inflammatory passages in the pamphlets from the 1990s and said recently that he did not read them at the time or for years afterward. Numerous colleagues said he does not hold racist views.But people close to Paul's operations said he was deeply involved in the company that produced the newsletters, Ron Paul & Associates, and closely monitored its operations, signing off on articles and speaking to staff members virtually every day."It was his newsletter, and it was under his name, so he always got to see the final product. . . . He would proof it,'' said Renae Hathway, a former secretary in Paul's company and a supporter of the Texas congressman.
A person involved in Paul's businesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid criticizing a former employer, said Paul and his associates decided in the late 1980s to try to increase sales by making the newsletters more provocative. They discussed adding controversial material, including racial statements, to help the business, the person said."It was playing on a growing racial tension, economic tension, fear of government,'' said the person, who supports Paul's economic policies but is not backing him for president. "I'm not saying Ron believed this stuff. It was good copy. Ron Paul is a shrewd businessman.''
Ed Crane, the longtime president of the libertarian Cato Institute, said he met Paul for lunch during this period, and the two men discussed direct-mail solicitations, which Paul was sending out to interest people in his newsletters.They agreed that "people who have extreme views" are more likely than others to respond. Crane said Paul reported getting his best response when he used a mailing list from the now-defunct newspaper Spotlight, which was widely considered anti-Semitic and racist.Benton, Paul's spokesman, said that Crane's account "sounds odd" and that Paul did not recall the conversation.At the time, Paul's investment letter was languishing. According to the person involved with his businesses, Paul and others hit upon a solution: to "morph" the content to capitalize on a growing fear among some on the political right about the nation's changing demographics and threats to economic liberty.The investment letter became the Ron Paul Survival Report -- a name designed to intrigue readers, the company secretary said. It cost subscribers about $100 a year. The tone of that and other Paul publications changed, becoming increasingly controversial. In 1992, for example, the Ron Paul Political Report defended chess champion Bobby Fischer, who became known as an anti-Semitic Holocaust denier, for his stance on "Jewish questions.''
Paul "had to walk a very fine line,'' said Eric Dondero Rittberg, a former longtime Paul aide who says Paul allowed the controversial material in his newsletter as a way to make money. Dondero Rittberg said he witnessed Paul proofing, editing and signing off on his newsletters in the mid-1990s."The real big money came from some of that racially tinged stuff, but he also had to keep his libertarian supporters, and they weren't at all comfortable with that,'' he said.Dondero Rittberg is no longer a Paul supporter, and officials with Paul's presidential campaign have said he was fired. Dondero Rittberg disputed that, saying he resigned in 2003 because he opposed Paul's views on Iraq.
In 1996, as Paul ran for Congress again, his business success turned into a potential political liability when his newsletters surfaced in the Texas media. Paul was quoted in the Dallas Morning News that year as defending a newsletter line from 1992 that said 95 percent of black men in the District are "semi-criminal or entirely criminal" and that black teenagers can be "unbelievably fleet of foot.""If you try to catch someone that has stolen a purse from you, there is no chance to catch them," the newspaper quoted Paul as saying.
We talked the other day about asking a debate question, but not really being prepared to ask it. Newt Gingrich has repeatedly hidden behind a veil of Republican unity when it was to his advantage, while pulling out daggers when it wasn't. I don't begrudge him that. He's running a campaign to be president of the United States. That's his interest. In a debate setting, the interest of reporters (among others) is to make candidates defend their statements in detail.
The New York Times chronicles boxer Claressa Shields
The Times chronicles boxer Claressa Shields from Flint, Michigan. It's amazing at the end to see her coach say when he gets done with her she's "going to be a real lady." It's amazing how much that word--lady--has changed. A century ago it definitely couldn't encompass fisticuffs.
In the early days of army integration, a young white supremacist expresses a stunning amount of hatred, a type that can't be explained away by politics.
As I mentioned before, I'm reading Randall Kennedy's book The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency for a magazine piece. The most moving chapter in the book is on black patriotism. Most of the chapter finds Kennedy offering a rather sympathetic, and compelling, look at Reverend Jeremiah Wright through the lens of his father.
I am a typical American, a southerner and 27 years of age.... I am loyal to my country and know but reverence to her flag, BUT I shall never submit to fight beneath that banner with a negro by my side. Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory tramped in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throw back to the blackest specimen from the wilds.
Slavery was phased out in every other country of the world. And the way I'm advising that it should have been done is do like the British empire did. You, you buy the slaves and release them. How much would that cost compared to killing 600,000 Americans and where it lingered for 100 years? I mean, the hatred and all that existed. So every other major country in the world got rid of slavery without a civil war.
I hadn't actually seen this moment with Newt Gingrich and John King until I was filing through some old Daily Show segments. I don't really understand why reporters allow themselves to be fodder for this sort of thing. I think the worst part is King's backpeddaling attempt to blame the question (about Newt's previous marriage) on someone else, which allowed Newt to go into nuclear faux-outrage mode.
Yesterday, I think we arrived at an interesting historical paradox. The consensus was that, in the slimmest sense, compensated emancipation was possible. But in the actual sense it was impossible. That is because while we were able to imagine the country getting its hands on enough resources to bail-out slave-holders, we could not imagine slave-holders accepting such a bail-out. The only way to make it work would be to compel them to accept--which is just another way of saying "War." (This, of course, only one of many problems with the counter-factual, and I ask patience as we address the others in the coming days. Again, one post can't do it all.)
The great difficulty was, not to know how to constitute the Federal government, but to find out a method of enforcing its laws. Governments have generally but two means of overcoming the opposition of the governed: namely, the physical force that is at their own disposal, and the moral force that they derive from the decisions of the courts of justice.A government which should have no other means of exacting obedience than open war must be very near its ruin, for one of two things would then probably happen to it. If it was weak and temperate, it would resort to violence only at the last extremity and would connive at many partial acts of insubordination; then the state would gradually fall into anarchy. If it was enterprising and powerful, it would every day have recourse to physical strength, and thus would soon fall into a military despotism. Thus its activity and its inertness would be equally prejudicial to the community.The great end of justice is to substitute the notion of right for that of violence and to place a legal barrier between the government and the use of physical force.
When East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo was asked what he plans to do for Latinos, he responded: "I might have tacos when I go home."
I missed this with all of my Officer Friendly snarking, but after East Haven, Connecticut police were arrested by the FBI (including the head of its union) for harassing the city's East Haven community, the city's mayor was asked what he would be doing "for the Latino community" He responded as follows:
When WPIX reporter Mario Diaz asked Maturo what he plans to do for the Latino community, Maturo said, "I might have tacos when I go home. I'm not quite sure yet."Maturo added: "When you ask me what I would do for Latinos, I may go out and have a Latino dinner in the Latino community. There's nothing wrong with that and you can twist it and turn it whichever way the press decides to do."