Off to a great start!

Yeah, not sure what else could have been expected here. Northam is a hyper-ambitious liar and a casual look at his career reveals that he as always been so. He’s not even that great of an operator. He only managed a 12-point victory against a primary opponent that he wildly outspent and for which he had every conceivable establishment backer he could get. It is interesting that he has decided that the lie that best serves his purpose is to become a crusader for racial equality, but I don’t buy it. He’s lucky that his would-be replacement is an even bigger creep than he is.

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RIP. Too many great roles but I think this might be my favorite:

You should definitely watch this movie if you haven’t yet. You learn a lot from reading Dashiell Hammett and one of the things you learn is that the Coens steal liberally from him and nobody notices because nobody reads Hammett these days! But Hammett is good and those lifts are usually just a couple of elements anyway per movie.?Miller’s Crossing borrows the first ten and last five minutes to The Glass Key?but the rest is wholly original. Not word for word anything but they’re super close. And it gets into areas that the gangster movies its referencing wouldn’t and couldn’t, not only by having gay characters but also ethically and philosophically. But really, the Danny Boy scene is the big hook I think. To pull off an action scene that good in their third ever movie is quite an accomplishment and Finney just kills it. He does it so well that it points to an old man action path for him that could have been taken. Perhaps it’s better that he didn’t: not really sure I wouldn’t trade the Denzel Washington or Liam Neeson of today for the version from 2003. Though I guess his turn in Skyfall counts toward that.

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This, I love:

I have no problem with elite Democrats bashing Howard Schultz. Honestly, at this point, it’s the most worthwhile thing they could do since nothing much that happens now is going to matter. But I’m still not losing much sleep over him myself. What has been shown again and again is that third party candidates always slip quite a bit from their initial high point. If Schultz’s initial high point is four fucking percent, then yeah, it’s not going to be pretty. Think he’s going to wind up with negative votes somehow.

Also, the guy is going to need to collect a goddamn ton of signatures to get on all the state ballots, which means he’ll need to generate a lot of enthusiasm among supporters.?This ain’t much of a start!

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Pelosi said she’d request them on day one and it didn’t happen, though given that the government was shut down it sort of made sense to defer that fight. But the GOP’s game here is basically to slow walk it through the courts long enough so that the returns don’t see the light of day until after the next Election Day so time’s a-wasting! Tomorrow wouldn’t be a bad moment to start it up: step all over all the pundits jizzing themselves about how presidential he looked.

I have no idea what they’ll prove, of course, except that Trump is fake rich. I’m pretty sure that this—more than a SMOKING GUN that the Russians own him—is why he’s so afraid of them coming out. But maybe the SMOKING GUN actually is in there! They really need to get going here. Two years is not a long time in legal terms…

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Is always the State of the Union. Really doesn’t even matter who the president is. Can you remember even a single sentence from any of Obama’s SOTUs? I can’t, and I actually watched a couple of them live. As good a public speaker as the man was, he couldn’t do a thing to make that speech interesting, which means it probably can’t be made interesting. In essence, the speech is all over the place thematically, has no real momentum or pacing because of all the applause lines, and goes on forever. Fewer and fewer people watch them and most of those are just co-partisans of the current president who want to have a fanboy moment. Seems like just about the worst possible way of going about that. I don’t know why anybody would ever watch one of these things unless it’s your job to. We live in an era of fathomless quantities of entertainment, people.

What’s interesting is the stock that Trump puts in these sorts of things. Ironically, he is committing the same mistake as Aaron Sorkin does in obsessing over the pageantry at the expense of the content. Sorkin’s West Wing?had one episode every season for the SOTU, often portraying it as a make or break occasion. Trump’s view of the occasion is not far off because he basically thinks that the shit that goes on television is actually the job and he refuses to do much of the actual work of the presidency. In reality, the SOTU is a speech that is primarily about itself, about the grandeur and pageantry of American politics, and an empty tradition that should be done away with. I mean, honestly, is there anybody who isn’t aware of what Donald Trump’s views on current affairs are, or which ones he feels are most significant? Is it possible not to hear about these things for even a single day? And why do we need to have him tell us for an hour and a half in a format that typically has him at his lowest energy?

I suppose Dems let Stacey Abrams give the response. Good choice on their part, at least. Hopefully she avoids dull bromides and makes it nice and combative, like crazy old Jim Webb:

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Becoming clear to me now that Northam’s Shaggy defense on Saturday was the wrong way to go. He should have gone with, “Look, I did a bad thing, but this is a hit job against me by partisan Republican operators because of my comments on abortion.” It’s probably true! “Don’t give them what they want” beats “please allow me to gaslight you a bit.” Who knows whether it would have been effective at keeping his job or not, but it would have been more effective than “actually it wasn’t me even though I said it was before but I’m telling the truth now even though I did do blackface once people where are you going?”

Again, I certainly can’t claim to have predicted this, but the argument I’ve been making for like three years now is essentially that a middle-aged white guy from the South who spent most of the 2000s doing things like endorsing George W. Bush for president and publicly mulling a party switch to the GOP, all things being equal, is probably somebody whose ancestral ties to the party have frayed and who doesn’t feel all that comfortable in the contemporary Democratic Party. The yearbook story…logically fits this narrative! But since he voted the right way on abortion bills and on guns consistently the institutional party all fell in lockstep, as if they couldn’t do better than this hump. Heads won’t roll for this, most likely, but they should.

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The weirdest thing about this (which is not survivable obvs and Northam’s no doubt furious working of the phones right now to avoid the inevitable won’t change that) is that it didn’t come out before. I can buy that state legislature campaigns may not have the resources to do intense opposition research, and when he ran for Lt. Gov. in 2013, well, perhaps he could have slipped under the radar because his opponent was a clown and everybody was focusing on McAuliffe vs. The Cooch anyway. But I genuinely wonder how he got through 2017 without this coming out. He faced credible candidates with real campaigns in both the primary and general elections, and either both of them hired completely incompetent staffs who missed it (I might buy one but not two), or people knew and didn’t act on it, which I also find hard to believe. Both of his opponents had clear motivation to use it if they had it, and how could they not have had it? It was just sitting in his yearbook. How does that stay under wraps? In the case of the primary we have to wonder whether Tom Perriello never knew, whether he knew but didn’t act out of fear of backlash, or whether he knew but didn’t act out of some high-minded reason. I’m honestly not sure which would be most disappointing, I guess option two would be the least. Releasing it might have made a lot of people mad at him and could have led to some backlash but at the same time it would have killed Northam’s campaign overnight. It’s too big not to have. So essentially Perriello was either incompetent, a wuss, or even worse, a Sorkinian fool. I’m curious to see which one he was but my enthusiasm for future candidacies from him has dropped a couple of notches no matter what the answer is.

Ed Gillespie, though, is the even bigger puzzle here. I read some jokes over at Daily Kos about how if his campaign had known they wouldn’t have said anything because they approved of such behavior and worried that publicizing it would cut into Ed’s support. Who knows? But probably not. The bedrock strategy of the conservative movement over the past 50 years has been to racebait as openly as polite society would allow while simultaneously arguing that Democrats are the real racists via the endless use of red herrings. Gillespie’s campaign was profoundly racist, much more so than the typical Republican campaign nowadays and ultimately little different than Trump’s. He barely beat full-on neoConfederate Corey Stewart and then ran the exact campaign that Stewart would have. It was all MS-13, all the time. But that doesn’t mean that he would have jumped at the opportunity to give himself a both sides-shaped escape hatch by having this get out. “You’re saying this is racist but who’s the real racist here? Me or the guy in blackface (or Klan hood)?” This would unfortunately have been a decent point.

And yes, while I’ve been ranting about this guy for years, I can’t say I saw this particular plot twist coming. But the guy was a product of the old Democratic Party and, you know, it does fit.

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