Monthly Archives: November 2009

“It’s not a lifestyle choice, Bella”

Roger Ebert on The Twilight Saga: New Moon:

In his absence she’s befriended by Jake (Taylor Lautner), that nice American Indian boy. “You’ve gotten all buff!” she tells him. Yeah, real buff, and soon he’s never wearing a shirt and standing outside in the winter rain as if he were–why, nothing more than a wild animal. They don’t need coats like ours, remember, because God gave them theirs.Those not among that five percent of the movie’s target audience that doesn’t already know this will (spoiler) be surprised that Jake is a werewolf.

Bella: So…you’re a werewolf?
Jake: Last time I checked.
Bella: “Can’t you find a way to…just stop?
Jake (patiently): “It’s not a lifestyle choice, Bella.”

Natalie Imbruglia: Still Torn

I still stand by what I wrote a couple of months ago about Natalie Imbruglia’s “Want,” except now I love it love it love it. It really does remind me a lot of a track like “The Beginning,” a dance club hit in late ’91 for Seal: disco-inflected house, creamy, with a chalky aftertaste. I still love “Torn,” but “Want” is even more affecting: cooler, because the situation it limns hurts that much more.

Although embedding is disabled for the video, check it out anyway.

Sarah Palin: Anything for cheap applause

In the most recent Newsweek, Christopher Hitchens returns to what he does: penning lucid, vicious denunciations. If you think Sarah Palin inspires too many easy titters, please remember that “her” memoir Going Rogue currently sits atop Amazon’s bestseller list and for whose sake she’s submitting to abject promotional interviews. I do feel sorry for Oprah and Meredith Viera: they have to pretend to take this woman seriously.

Anyway, Hitchens:

The Palin problem, then, might be that she cynically incites a crowd that she has no real intention of pleasing. If she were ever to get herself to the nation’s capital, the teabaggers would be just as much on the outside as they are now, and would simply have been the instruments that helped get her elected. In my own not-all-that-humble opinion, duping the hicks is a degree or two worse than condescending to them. It’s also much more dangerous, because it meanwhile involves giving a sort of respectability to ideas that were discredited when William Jennings Bryan was last on the stump. The Weekly Standard (itself not exactly a prairie-based publication) might want to think twice before flirting with popular delusions and resentments that are as impossible to satisfy as the demand for a silver standard or a ban on the teaching of Darwin, and are for that very reason hard to tamp down.


On the other hand, he shows less appreciation for Levi Johnston’s endowments (a “scapegrace and nudity artist”) than either Andrew Sullivan or yours truly.

The Dumb Approach


Poking fun at the monsters in The Corner is as easy these days as insulting a three-headed baby, but once in a while one of those guys post something whose cynicism takes the breath away. Editor in Chief Rich Lowry tonight:

At this point, Obama needs to settle for a “dumb” Afghan strategy. He’s clearly trying to be too cute and clever, and micro-managing aspects of the military campaign that are beneath his pay-grade. If he believes success in Afghanistan is important and a counter-insurgency campaign is the best way to achieve it, he should give McChrystal the troops he says he needs (actually, he should probably give him more if possible, to reduce the risk of failure). This business of examining the troop numbers province-by-province, and devising various “off ramps,” and parsing out what troop commitment will best pressure Karzai is a foolish attempt at an impossible exactitude. No plan so finely tuned from on high is going to survive its first contact with reality. Obama needs a “dumb” approach — figure out the basic strategy, resource it, and leave it at that. If it’s a successful strategy, most of the other things will probably follow — the off ramps, the welcome effect on Karzai, etc.

Wow. To Lowry, trying to avoid sending more American men and women to die is “cute” and “clever,” a symptom of “micro-managing” — unlike, say, George W. Bush, who never turned down a troop request from Donald Rumsfeld or the Joint Chiefs of Staff even when the strategy was generally recognized a failure. In fact, Obama’s cuteness is an “impossible inexactitude.” Look, stop niggling, Barry. Do what the Beltway insiders say General McChrystal should do: commit the troops and get the hell out of the way. It worked for Bush, right? After all, success means that “most of the other things will probably follow — the off ramps, the welcome effect on Karzai, etc.” Please study that last phrase. Focus on the “Karzai, etc” bit. Lowry doesn’t even pretend to suggest that the decadence of the Karzai government matters in anyone’s calculations. For Lowry, the Dumb Approach to Afghanistan will inevitably lead to Afghans treating us as liberators, like the Iraqis did in 2003: throwing flowers at our feet, that sort of thing.

Or, instead, study the image posted upthread. Lowry is the lackey who claimed we were winning the war in Iraq in 2005.