Songwriter Vinicius de Moraes

Vinicius de MoraesOn this day in 1862, the elder of the Lumiere brothers, Auguste was born. His younger brother Louis was born on 5 October 1864. They were moving picture pioneers. They invented, for example, the perforation on the sides of film that allow it to be perfectly fed through cameras and projectors. But they are most known for their films. Together, they made almost 200 films. Admittedly, most of them were like Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, which is 48 seconds long and simply shows a train arriving at the station. But they did arguably make the first comedy, The Sprinkler Sprinkled. I find this period fascinating because you get to see how a gimmick very quickly leads to the production of art. It is only 20 years from these earliest films to The Birth of a Nation, which pretty much has all of the modern film syntax. Another interesting thing about the Lumiere brothers (mostly Louis, I think), is that they had a great eye for photography. The shots are always well framed. This isn’t a surprise, given how much work they did with still photography. But most films at that time were not as well made.

The great professional wrestler Tor Johnson was born in 1903. He is best known for a still popular Halloween mask and, of course, his star role in Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space. Here he is, and yes, he was a sex machine:

The great musician Peter Tosh was born in 1944. I didn’t realize that he was murdered during a home invasion—just a couple of years after I got into his music. Here he is doing “Legalize It”:

Two conservative assholes are 57 today. The first is also an idiot, Steve Doocy. The second is just evil, Grover Norquist.

Other birthdays: essayist James Henry Leigh Hunt (1784); painter Theodoros Vryzakis (1814); painter Umberto Boccioni (1882); oceanographer Walter Munk (96); writer John le Carre (82); actor Michael Gambon (73); actor Divine (1945); actor John Lithgow (68); and the really bad film director Jon Favreau (47).

The day, however, belongs to Vinicius de Moraes who was born on this day in 1913. He is certainly one of the greatest Brazilian songwriters of the 20th century. And he’s probably the best lyricist. He wrote the lyrics to “Garota de Ipanema,” which is better known as “The Girl from Ipanema.” He was also a great performer. Here he is with a very young Toquinho:

Happy birthday Vinicius de Moraes!

Business and Tea Party Are Not at War

War or Tea Party and Business Interests

There have been a lot of articles written in the last two days talking about the battle raging inside the Republican Party. Yesterday, for example, Bloomberg published, Republican Civil War Erupts: Business Groups v. Tea Party. But I don’t buy it. If there is a war going on in the GOP, it is only between those who want to immediately eliminate all aid to the poor and those who want to do it incrementally over the next decade: Paul Broun versus Paul Ryan.

I think Josh Barro is beginning to see the light. In the middle of the crisis, he wrote, “The most dangerous group in Congress is moderate Republicans, many from the northeast, who could reopen the government and break extremists’ grip on their caucus’ agenda, but choose not to.” Implicit in that statement, however, is the fact that the supposed moderates are choosing not to do anything for their own personal reasons. And I know from other things that Barro has said and written that he largely thinks it is cowardice.

This is the conventional wisdom in Washington. Most of the Republicans are not so very extreme, they are just worried about challenges from the right. But what really appears to be happening is that these supposed moderates believe exactly the same things that the extremists do. They are just trying to thread a needle. If there were no bad political consequences, they would be voting extremist, not moderate. There are a couple of reasons I think this. First, most right wing challenges fail. Look at how Orrin Hatch turned even further to the right because of a primary challenge. And what finally happened? Hatch won his primary by over 30 percentage points. So the fear may be real, but it isn’t all that valid.

Add to this the fact the Republicans especially overestimate how conservative the people they represent are. What this means is that these supposed moderates are eager to join the extremists. They have fear of the right and the left (actually the center). But when there is pressure from the two sides, they always move to the right. Mike Coffman, for example, won re-election by less than 7,000 votes. In his district, Obama beat Romney by 5 percentage points last year. Coffman, in other words, is extremely vulnerable in 2014. And in the end, he voted to reopen the government. But where had he been? In the nice warm waters of GOP extremism because that’s who he is.

The same thing goes for business interests who are now supposedly upset that their Republican lapdogs are doing things that make them a tad uncomfortable. There is no rift here. The only difference between Ted Cruz and Sheldon Adelson is that Adelson wants policy results. And really, who cares if the Republicans weaken the economy, as long as they also push policies that continue giving more and more to the rich? I’ll admit, the business community might like to soften the edges of the GOP. But that’s just as true with gay rights as it is with government shutdown and Debt Ceiling crises. What the business community (as represented by the nation Chamber of Commerce) wants is exactly what the House extremists want. It’s just that the business community would rather finesse the argument. “Let the poor die!” just isn’t good marketing. But it is a shared policy goal.

Update (19 October 2013 4:26 pm)

Dave Weigel says more or less the same thing, Tea-ism: Why Big Business Won’t Abandon the Tea Party. But as usual for him, he accepts the Tea Party rhetoric at face value. The reason they are unruly is simply because they have actually drunk the tea. The business community knows that Obamacare will not bring about a socialist hellscape. That’s just rhetoric that they generate to get the base’s attention. It just doesn’t work as well to say, “This is the kind of program that might lead to slightly less freedom for the very rich over the coming decades.” Again: the end goal is the same. The only thing that the two “sides” disagree about is urgency.

Bush’s Disgusting Torture Apologia

Update: Based upon commenter CEB who actually, you know, reads headlines, it would appear that these are a parody. I did check the page extensively for details and other sites as well. But I am very good at missing the forest for the trees. Sorry for that. I also deleted the comments, given that people were commenting based upon false premises.

See What I Think of George W Bush for a full discussion of how I let this happen.

—FM

Abu Ghraib Hooded PrisonerI just came upon more George Bush Jr paintings that Vanity Fair published back in April. The author, Bruce Handy, humorously noted, “America recently learned that George W. Bush is as accomplished an artist as he was a president.” But of the five paintings, four of them are really disturbing. Two are based on famous pictures of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. But in a twist worthy of a 13 year old boy who is struggling with hormones, Bush pained sad clown makeup on them. And those are absolutely the least disturbing.

Two of the pictures of prettified versions of famous torture photos from Abu Ghraib. The first is of a prisoner being threatened by a guard with a dog. But Bush has painted the walls as blue sky and white puffy clouds. The second is the most iconic of the images: the hooded prisoner standing on a box. Bush has added flowers:

Bush Painting Abu Ghraib

It’s strange. The original photo is basically flat. That works to Bush’s strengths as a painter; he doesn’t really do perspective—at least not well. So this is the best thing that I’ve seen of his from an artistic standpoint. But thematically is is all deeply disturbing. I can only think of one interpretation of the two Abu Ghraib paintings. They seem to be torture apologia. They say that we rightly tortured the “bad guys” in order to allow blue skies and flowers.

I have little doubt that some neocon will gladly buy these images for large sums of money and hang them at home. This is the ultimate example of failing upward. And it is disgusting. I weep for my country and its ideals.

Terrorists Would Never Harm Dick Cheney

Dick Cheney60 Minutes claims that Dick Cheney had his defibrillator altered to guard again a terrorist attack. According to the story that will air this Sunday, his doctor “had the device’s wireless function disabled so a terrorist couldn’t send his heart a fatal shock.” I find this odd. It has been my understanding that the terrorists hate America. If that’s the case, why would they want to kill Dick Cheney?

I was thinking this morning that if Cheney were rotting in a jail somewhere, I would have a certain level of sympathy for him. But as it is, his very existence infuriates me. He is an evil man. And what it says to the world is, “It doesn’t matter how awful you are, as long as you have the power, nothing will happen to you.” Hitler died only because he lost the war; otherwise, he would have lived another 20 years and received a state funeral.

Cheney hasn’t only escaped any kind of punishment, he is still held in high esteem throughout the country. We saw him making the rounds explaining what Obama should do about Syria. No level of personal failure can stop the media from listening to evil fools like him. Now Dick Cheney has written a book with his carteologist called Heart: An American Medical Odyssey, which will be available Tuesday. And 60 Minutes is eager to help him sell it.

I haven’t been able to find any reviews of the book. Why would there need to be any? A 15 minute segment on 60 Minutes is worth millions of dollars in advertising and thousands of reviews. It’s another illustration of why we live in a winner-take-all society. In a reasonable country where our leaders were capable of feeling shame, Cheney would at least be hiding out. But instead, he is out in public treated like royalty instead of the evil traitor that he is.

I’m curious about the subtitle of the book, “An American Medical Odyssey.” I assume there will be a lot of garbage in the book about how America has the greatest medicine in the world. I’m sure that’s true if you are Dick Cheney. But a country that fails so miserably for the vast majority of its population is no success story. Cheney could get the best healthcare in the world regardless of what country he was in. The sad thing is that Cheney doesn’t deserve it. He should have died a long time again and I hope he dies soon.

Afterword

This one is for that son of a bitch: