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Thursday, 18 March 2010
Badness is Relative
Topic: The Box Office

As I consider nominations to my personal cinematic Hall of Shame—see here—it occurs to me that whereas some movies are indeed bad in an absolute sense, others are bad merely in relation to the money and talent that was lavished on them. An example of the first kind of badness is the Ashley Judd vehicle Bug (which I excoriated here). It just stinks, period. But then there are movies like Cleopatra.

It's sobering to reflect what it would cost today to film this lavish, star-studded epic—probably more than the GDP of many Third World nations. Certainly no expense was spared back in 1963. And that's precisely my point. You can't really call Cleopatra unwatchable. OK, so Elizabeth Taylor flops as the seductive Queen of the Nile, coming off like some flirtatious bimbo with too much eye makeup. And yes, Richard Burton gives a notably bad performance. But still, Cleopatra has its moments.

But when I reflect on the time, money, talent, etc. expended to produce this second-rate sand-and-sandal potboiler—all I can think is bad, bad, bad. That kind of waste, it seems to me, is shameful. So I'm strongly inclined to include Cleopatra in the Hall of Shame.

Posted by tmg110 at 8:23 AM EDT
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Bye-Bye Babs?
Topic: Decline of the West

Without doubt, Senator Barbra Boxer, Democrat of California, is one of the 10 dumbest members of Congress—a bold statement, I agree, considering the competition. But if anyone deserves inclusion on that bottom-ten list, it's the inimitable Babs.

Dumbness, of course, is no deterrent to political success, particularly in California. But now it's beginning to look as though the Boxer brand has worn out its welcome in the Golden State. Facing a strong challenge from the GOP's  Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO who emerged onto the political stage in 2008 as a McCain supporter.

But can Fiorina actually win? Well, first she has to win a tough primary; there are other Republicans who want a shot at the incumbent. Recent polls, however, suggest that Fiorina would be the strongest GOP candidate.  All I can say that 2010 is a good year to be running against a intellectually challenged progressive dinosaur like Babs Boxer. K.E. Grubbs, Jr. analyzes the race for The Weekly Standard. He thinks that Boxer's looking toasty. I agree.

Posted by tmg110 at 8:03 AM EDT
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Still Short of 216
Topic: Decline of the West

According to Byron York, writing in the Washington Examiner, in the House of Representatives there are currently 204 votes for ObamaCare and 209 against, with 18 votes, all held by Democrats, still undecided. Obama and Pelosi may be talking up the inevitability of passage, but it appears that they still haven't got the votes.

Posted by tmg110 at 7:49 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Thumbs Down
Topic: Decline of the West

While Democrats scramble to wire up some sort of mechanism to get ObamaCare passed, a new Wall Street Journal/ABC News poll shows that the country opposed them by a 48%-36% margin—this despite the fact that a plurality of American do wish to see some sort of health care reform.

No wonder Dems are flirting with the Slaughter Solution. If you were a Democratic member of the House representing, say, Indiana, would you want to be forced into an up-or-down vote on ObamaCare?

Posted by tmg110 at 8:17 AM EDT
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They haven't got the votes. . .
Topic: Liberal Fascism

. . .to pass ObamaCare in the House. How do I know this? Because Democrats are talking about using the so-called Slaughter Solution (named for House Rules Committee Chairman Louise Slaughter, who dreamed it up) to pass health care "reform" without an up-or-down vote. This, you see, will give political cover to nervous Dems who represent districts where ObamaCare is deeply unpopular.

As Bill Kristol notes in the above-referenced blog post, this parliamentary dodge shows what the Democrats think of the American people: We're stupid and uninterested in the details of governance. So what if the Constitution clearly stipulates a vote in both the House and the Senate to pass legislation? People don't care about that musty old scrap of paper!

I've come to the conclusion that no matter what the Dems do, they lose. Having painted themselves into this tight political corner, they've got no good options. The only remaining question: How hard are they going to screw themselves? We'll soon find out.

Posted by tmg110 at 8:04 AM EDT
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Ireland Forever
Topic: Scratchpad


Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Posted by tmg110 at 7:52 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 16 March 2010
A Sign of the Times
Topic: Decline of the West

While most people's attention has been focused on health care "reform," a serious crisis in the relationship between Israel and the United States has has flared up. Writing for NRO, Joel C. Rosenberg provides details.

It's quite clear that the Obama Administration has seized on this incident as a pretext for pressuring Israel into making unilateral concessions ahead of pending "indirect" peace talks with the Palestinians. It's equally clear that such a one-sided policy won't work. All the Obama Administration will accomplish with its "hysterical and heavy-handed measures to berate Israel" (Rosenberg's words) will be to further alienate the Israeli government and Israeli public opinion, both of which already view the Administration with profound distrust.

In the pursuit of peace, Obama and his foreign policy team are laying the foundations for another Mideast war. Some messiah!

Posted by tmg110 at 7:57 AM EDT
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The Perils of "Social Justice"
Topic: Liberal Fascism

The contemporary US Catholic Church is big on the concept of "social justice," i.e. fairness in such things as wages, working conditions, health care availability, etc. It all sounds fine in theory but, if I may so put it, the devil is in the details. That's why the US Catholic bishops, which for decades has supported the concept of health care "reform," now find themselves opposing ObamaCare.

The sticking point is abortion. If, as may happen, the current bill becomes law, government funding of abortion will be the law of the land. Additionally, there will be no legal protection for Catholics and others working in health care who, as a matter of conscience, refuse to perform or participate in abortions.

The odd thing about this development is that it was entirely predictable. Given that (a) health care "reform" is the Holy Grail of progressivism and the (b) abortion is the central sacrament of progressivism, therefore (c) health care "reform" leads inevitably to government-funded abortion. I find it astonishing that the US Catholic bishops, fully aware as they are of the position of the Democratic Party on abortion, ever expected Catholic teaching on abortion to be incorporated into ObamaCare.

And this shows the flaw in Catholic teaching on "social justice." Inevitably, social justice advocacy boils down to demands for government action. But as the Church ought to have known all along, it takes a long spoon to sup with the devil.

Posted by tmg110 at 7:33 AM EDT
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Once Again, We Scrape By
Topic: Scratchpad

OK, now the Ides of March are gone… 

Incidentally, in the ancient Roman calendar, the ides fell on the 15th day of March, May, July and October, and on the 13th day of other months. Just thought you'd like to know.

Posted by tmg110 at 7:28 AM EDT
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Monday, 15 March 2010
The Ides of March are come. . .
Topic: Scratchpad

But not gone…

Posted by tmg110 at 9:34 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 15 March 2010 9:36 AM EDT
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