Nutjob Alex Jones Wants to Deport Piers Morgan

Okay. This is interesting. Alex Jones started a petition to “deport Piers Morgan.” This is because Morgan has spoken about banning some guns. So Morgan invited Jones onto his show. The results are below:

So Alex Jones is insane and should certainly not be allowed ever to have a gun. But the bigger problem is that Alex Jones has a radio show. You can tell what his show is like. There is no thought. He just has a perpetual rage-on. And I have no doubt that the (mostly) men who listen get very worked up. It is very bad for society.

Here is the second part of the interview. Jones finally answers some questions. But not about guns. About his belief that 9/11 was an inside job. It is amazing stuff:

Afterword

For the record, I am all for deporting Piers Morgan. I just don’t think his stance on guns is cause. American Idol is, though.

Update (8 January 2013 9:01 am)

Alexandra Petri writes in the Washington Post:

I was all for deporting Piers Morgan, if only to pump excitement into the post-cliff news cycle. But after reading the piteous pleas of numerous Brits who had just put in so much effort to get rid of him, it seemed cruel.

Humanity Over Art

Isabelle CarreI watched the short interview below with Isabelle Carre from the promotion of Romantics Anonymous, that I’ve already written about. I was really struck by something she said in the interview. She was talking about going to an actual RA meeting and how she didn’t want to go. Even though she is also shy, she felt that she was only going to the meeting as a kind of preparation for the role. She said,”I did not want to go because I was thinking that I did not want to use the fragility of the people at the meetings because they suffer. To use this felt wrong to me, or manipulative.”

This really struck me, because I remember hearing an interview with Sidney Lumet about Serpico. He talked about how Al Pacino had hung out with the real Frank Serpico. Apparently, Serpico had thought that he and Pacino had become friends, when it was just work for Pacino. Lumet told this story in a prideful way. Sort of: we in Hollywood really are American royalty. He told the story even while admitting that Frank Serpico was a really interesting, knowledgeable, and funny guy. I was horrified by both Al Pacino’s behavior and Sidney Lumet’s telling of the story.

I have a great love of art. (Of course, I’m not sure if what they do in Hollywood should be considered art.) But to place art above humanity strikes me as one of the vilest things imaginable. It was nice to hear one of the stars of one of the sweetest films I have ever seen confirm this. Carre goes on to explain that once she did go to the meeting, she found that she fit right in. These two facts may be related. Anyway, I’ve always thought that to become a Hollywood star, you kind of have to be a dick. If humanity is to survive, it is no surprise to find that it does so primarily outside the United States.

Here is the interview, which is just over 4 minutes long:

Edward II

Edward IIYesterday, I came upon a filmed version of Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II. It was made way back in 1992, which surprised me. Marlowe’s works are rarely even performed on stages and almost never filmed. But it makes sense. Edward II has a clear five-act structure that lends itself well to screen. What’s more, all of the implicit homosexuality can now be laid bare.

In this adaptation, Derek Jarman lays it very bare. This is not only the case in explicit homoerotic scenes but in Edward’s repeated spurning of advances by the beautiful Tilda Swinton as Queen Isabella. In fact, the film, like the play is quite interested in all kinds of sex, as Isabella pairs up with one of the few straight men in her circle, Lord Mortimer.

The film looks really good. And it does it with the cheapest of sets. I think this comes from Jarman and his crew and their background in the theater. The film is almost a master class in how to take a couple of props and create an interesting set. But it’s more than that. The framing and lighting of shots adds an equal amount to the effect, thanks in no small part to the work of cinematographer Ian Wilson.

But lest you get the idea that Jarman and co-writer Ken Butler had removed all of Marlowe, there is still much of the play on screen. It is fascinating how Marlowe’s dialog compares to Shakespeare’s better known plays. There is no doubt that as time went on, iambic pentameter became less structured. Shakespeare’s verse sounds more like everyday speech than Marlowe’s, just as Beaumont & Fletcher’s sounds more normal than Shakespeare’s. Listening to the characters speak Marlowe’s dialog, I hear the poetry. That is rarely the case with Shakespeare. With his dialog, it just sounds odd. Really, I often have a hard time deconstructing Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter. Too much of it uses 11 syllables and the accents seem almost random. Thus I am left wondering why Shakespeare’s verse is held so highly: it is too structured to sound normal but not structured enough to sound poetic. In Edward II, I really enjoyed listening to the dialog in a way I rarely do with Shakespeare.

I highly recommend this film. I think Christopher Marlowe would have been delighted. It brings his play to life in a way that is rare for any writer other than Shakespeare. There is a filmed version of The Jew of Malta coming out in February. I hope it is anything close to as good.

Afterword

The story of Edward II is pretty much the same as in this skit from That Mitchell and Web Look, except, of course, that in Edward II, everyone ends up dead:

Political Capital is a Myth

Political CapitalThis morning, Jonathan Chait metaphorically scratches his head, Nominating Hagel Most Un-Obama Thing Ever. He can’t understand this nomination given that (1) Hagel will be a hard sell and (2) Obama doesn’t much listen to his advisers anyway. It is interesting speculation, but I wouldn’t have even thought about it had he not written, “Why waste political capital picking a fight that isn’t essential to any policy goals?”

This brought to mind something that has been on my mind for a while, as in articles like, Bipartisan Consensus Can Bite Me. I’m afraid that just like Santa Claus and most conceptions of God, “Political Capital” is a myth. I think it is just an idea that Villagers find comforting. It is a neat narrative in which one can straightjacket a political fight. Otherwise, it is just bullshit.

Let’s go back to late 2004, after Bush Jr was re-elected. He said, “I earned capital in the political campaign and I intend to spend it.” What was this thing that Bush intended to spend? It is usually said that political capital is some kind of mandate from the masses. But that is clearly not what Bush meant. He got a mandate to fuck the poor and kill the gays. But he used his political capital to privatize Social Security. One could say that this proves the point, but does anyone really think if Bush had decided to use his political capital destroying food stamps and Medicaid that he would have succeeded any better? The truth was that Bush’s political capital didn’t exist.

Let’s look at more recent events: the Fiscal Cliff. Obama didn’t win that fight because the people who voted for him demanded it. He won it because everyone knew that in the new year he would still be president. Tax rates were going up. Boehner took the Fiscal Cliff deal because it was the best deal that he felt he could get. He didn’t fold because of some magic political capital that Obama could wave over him.

There is no doubt that public opinion does affect how politicians act. Even politicians in small safe districts have to worry that larger political trends may end up making them look stupid, out of touch, or just cruel. But beyond that, they really don’t care. If they did, then everyone in the House would now be a Democrat: after all, Obama won a mandate and the associated political capital. But they don’t, because presidential elections have consequences—for who’s in the White House. They don’t have much consequence for the Representative from the Third District of California.

Obama Can Have Hagel But…

Chuck HagelMy colleague Michael J.W. Stickings over at The Reaction makes what I think is the strongest case against Obama’s pick of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, Obama Misses Opportunity With Hagel Nomination. Basically, the optics are all wrong on this. Why is our Democratic president yet again picking a Republican as defense secretary? I think I know: Obama cares more about his legacy than he does the legacy of his party.

Despite decades of shrill and incompetent military policy from Republicans, the American people still consider them strong on national security. Of course, one could use this to argue that it doesn’t matter who Obama nominates. If 9/11, Iraq, and Afghanistan weren’t enough to change perceptions, what difference would a Republican defense secretary nomination make? But I think it does matter. The ineptitude of the Bush Jr years have made the Republican footing on national security much less firm.

Glenn Greenwald has been boosting for Hagel for a long time. In his most recent writing on the subject he deals with liberal displeasure with the (then) upcoming nomination, Chuck Hagel and Liberals: What Are the Priorities? He argues that there are two liberal complaints and that neither is very strong. First, there is the claim that Hagel is anti-gay. Greenwald rightly points out that this is long in the past and that he has apologized for it. The second is the optics concern of Michael and me. To this Greenwald points out that the current defense secretary, Leon Panetta, is a strong Democrat.

I don’t think this is a terribly good argument. With Hagel’s appointment, Obama will have had two of three Republican secretaries of defense. With the lessening appeal of the Republican claim to be strong on national defense, people can now point to the Democrats, “See: even they know they’re weak!” Most likely, Obama would claim that he just wants to get things done. And if there were any real hope of streamlining the pentagon, I might accept that argument. But with the Republican House, it looks like military cuts are going to be things Democrats have to trade away in return for not savaging social programs.

Regardless, I believe that the president deserves to get the cabinet that he wants. If Romney had been elected president, I would not have opposed even the pick of Glenn Hubbard as treasury secretary. But it’s too bad that our president doesn’t do a better job of supporting his own party.

Afterword

There is an up side to Hagel: it drives Fox on 15th Street crazy.

Actually, there is more than that. Greenwald puts it well:

Given the steadfast and usually unquestioning support most liberals have given this Democratic President as he’s pursued policies of aggression and militarism, they should refrain from opposing one of the few prominent dissidents on these matters absent some very compelling reasons. So far, nothing remotely compelling has been offered. If this nomination actually happens, this will be one of Obama’s best appointments and boldest steps of his presidency. It would be ironic indeed, and more than a bit unfortunate, if liberals decide to make this nomination one of the very few times they are willing to oppose their party’s leader.