Sunday, June 23, 2013

Last Call For The Douthat Bubble

Here's a free piece of advice:  if you're a professional Beltway columnist, and you write a story about how any politician is disconnected from the reality of average Americans, you're destined for mockery for the precise reason that professional Beltway columnists are quite literally the least-qualified people in America to have any actual idea what Americans are thinking outside the Beltway.

Hence today's contestant, Ross Douthat.

After all, gun control, immigration reform and climate change aren’t just random targets of opportunity. They’re pillars of Acela Corridor ideology, core elements of Bloombergism, places where Obama-era liberalism overlaps with the views of Davos-goers and the Wall Street 1 percent. If you move in those circles, the political circumstances don’t necessarily matter: these ideas always look like uncontroversial common sense. 

Step outside those circles, though, and the timing of their elevation looks at best peculiar, at worst perverse. The president decided to make gun control legislation a major second-term priority ... with firearm homicides at a 30-year low. Congress is pursuing a sharp increase in low-skilled immigration ... when the foreign-born share of the American population is already headed for historical highs. The administration is drawing up major new carbon regulations ... when actual existing global warming has been well below projections for 15 years and counting.

If Ross had been paying attention, he'd realize that gun control really is an actual priority with a vast majority of Americans, along with a vast majority of non-Beltway scientists on climate change and yes, ordinary Americans are backing immigration reform.  

But Bubble Boy here seems to think that climate change is a myth, along with gun control and immigration reform...and he's so deluded that he thinks Americans don't care about that either.  He goes on to bleat about jobs, but fails to mention Republicans have blocked job legislation at every opportunity.

And in the end, Douthat has to admit his team are losers.

But so far, Republicans have mostly used liberalism’s relative weakness as an excuse for not moving much at all, and sticking with an agenda that’s even more disconnected from the anxieties of the average voter than the White House’s second-term priorities. 

Their assumption seems to be that eventually the public will simply have to turn to them. But their obligation should be to address both parties’ most conspicuous failure, and actually meet the voters where they are.

That's funny, Ross.  Every time the Democrats try to do that, the Republicans block them.  Pay attention.

A Strictly Poison Ivy League School

Zandar's Summer Movie Series continues with a reminder that great teams in animated history are forged by adversity, tempered by will, and then apparently quenched in the water barrel of slapstick physical comedy.

Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James P. Sullivan (John Goodman) weren't always the beasts of the Monsters, Inc. Scare Floor, and in fact they started out in this prequel to the 2001 Pixar hit as a couple of college freshmen newly accepted as scaring majors to prestigious Monsters University.  It's been Mike's dream since a childhood field trip to MI, and Sully's destiny as he's a legacy admission and trading on the Sullivan family name.

But as the Pixar G-rated equivalent of a couple of dipstick dudebros, Sully's constant coasting and Mike's nerdy know-it-all act quickly results in a bitter rivalry that get the both of them tossed out of the MU Scaring School by Dean Abigail Hardscrabble (the delightfully perfect Helen Mirren) and headed for ignominious defeat...until fate gives them a second chance at the program by proving they can work together and win the MU Greek Scare Games.  All they have to do is beat the the rest of the fraternities and sororities, including the top dogs on campus, Roar Omega Roar and team captain Johnny Worthington (Nathan Filion, hamming it up brilliantly), with arguably the lamest movie fraternity in history:  the brothers of Oozma Kappa.

What follows is a predictable but charming tale for the kids while remaining smart enough to engage the parents as well.  It's still a good time and worth several laughs, and as far as Pixar second stanzas go a much better film that Cars 2 (not a high bar) but comes out close enough to Toy Story 2 to make the grade (not that anything's going to touch Toy Story 3 for a while.)

All in all a good time for everyone, with some solid lessons on teamwork and a few truly laugh-out-loud moments.

Edward's Midnight Runners

NSA leaker Edward Snowden has fled Hong Kong for Moscow, where he'll be shuffled off to Cuba and possibly Venezuela.

The Hong Kong government announced on Sunday afternoon that it had allowed the departure from its territory of Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who has acknowledged disclosing classified documents about United States government surveillance of Internet and telephone communications around the world.

The government statement said that Hong Kong had informed the United States of Mr. Snowden’s departure.

A Moscow-based reservations agent at Aeroflot, Russia’s national airline, said that Mr. Snowden was aboard flight SU213 to Moscow, with a scheduled arrival there a little after 5 p.m. Moscow time. The reservations agent said that Mr. Snowden was traveling on a one-way ticket to Moscow

Mr. Snowden’s final destination was unclear, but there were signs that it might be beyond Moscow. The Russian foreign ministry said that Mr. Snowden appeared to be making a connection in Moscow to another destination, but did not say where. 

Russia’s Interfax news service, citing a “person familiar with the situation,” reported that Mr. Snowden would remain in transit at an airport in Moscow for “several hours” pending an onward flight to Cuba, and would therefore not formally cross the Russian border or be subject to detention. Someone close to Mr. Snowden later told Interfax that he planned to continue on to Caracas, Venezuela

So at this point, China, Russia, possibly Cuba and Venezuela are having a good, long, laugh at the Obama administration.  Whether or not you think this is deserved, the damage Edward Snowden has done to the US by leaking classified info to foreign countries is pretty high, and he's a fugitive from justice.

The guy doesn't seem like a patriot to me.  It seems like everyone in the "We're not cool with the US" camp is getting in on the Snowden info gold mine.

I can't say I'm surprised.  Certainly this makes Snowden just like Dr. Martin Luther King, right?
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