Before we get to what really mattered last night—the advertisements—I must admit to taking some small amount of pleasure in the Patriots beating Atlanta in a way that almost perfectly mirrored the manner in which Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton. Lord knows, I’m no fan of either the Pats or the Donald, but after hearing all the stories about how Tom Brady Is Bad Because He Likes Trump And We Should Denounce Him Because That Is What Righteous People Do And No Good Pats Fan Can Cheer For Dastardly Republicans, well, you know. It was amusing, is all I’m saying. If you turned sports into a proxy battle over your political discontent—as if the NFL were the WWF and the Patriots were the Iron Sheik and the Falcons were Sgt. Slaughter—you kind of deserved what happened last night. I’m just surprised Roger Goodell didn’t send John Podesta out to hand over the trophy.Read More
It was reported yesterday that the American arm of Nestlé would be moving its headquarters from Glendale, California, to the distinctly untrendy Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia, where Washington Free Beacon Tower is located. The announcement was made by none other than Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who told us a few weeks ago that anti-abortion legislation is “socially divisive” and bad for business. I like to imagine how the deal went down.Read More
It was reported the other day that the American arm of Nestlé would be moving its headquarters from Glendale, California, to the distinctly untrendy Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia, where Washington Free Beacon Tower is located. The announcement was made by none other than Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who told us a few weeks ago that anti-abortion legislation is "socially divisive" and bad for business. Clearly his fiendish investments are paying off. I like to imagine how the deal went down:
Fade in. The interior of a large, nearly empty dark warehouse. Almost nothing visible save a forklift and a few pallets of SweeTart Hearts and 41 oz. cans of Nesquick chocolate powder, which stand beside a mostly bare utilitarian metal desk. At a swivel chair behind the desk is QUICKY THE RABBIT, grotesquely fat, wearing a dark suit with a large and foul-smelling cigar hanging from his jowls; facing him in a "Virginia is For Lovers" t-shirt and blue chinos is a nervous-looking TERR BEAR.
QUICKY (gesturing to an opened can of Nesquick)
May I tempt you, Terr?
Err, uhh, sure. Why not?
QUICKY (placing his cigar in an ash-tray and rising)
Why not indeed?
QUICKY pulls two crystal goblets from one of the desk drawers and walks to a refrigerator set against the wall behind him; from it, he produces a gallon of full milk, which he pours in the two goblets, and returns to the desk. Pulling a spoon from the drawer, he proceeds methodically to mix the milk with a spoonful of the brown powder.
(sitting down and handing one of the goblets across the desk to TERR BEAR before downing the contents of his his own in one hideous cthonic gulp)
Ahhhhhhhh. Old faithful. You know, this is one of our rare vintages. Specialty ingredients, strictly NFCBGP, if you know what I mean. Not for consumption by general public.
TERR BEAR (sipping with anxious politeness)
Yes, it's very good, Mr. Qui—
Call me Quicky.
Quicky, I mean. So, err, about the Rosslyn thing. Are we still on?
(picking up the cigar and taking an enormous drag, one that suggests he is inhaling the smoke)
TERR BEAR takes another, much larger drink from his goblet.
Shit, you know me, Quick.
I'm a little nervous.
QUICKY (with an affected note of concern)
Nervous about what, Terr Bear?
Look, I talked to Lloyd the other day, and McEntrepreneurship too. I know what you had them do.
I thought you said you would do anything. Do you want the jobs or not?
Then finish your drink and come on.
TERR BEAR drains the rest of his goblet and sets it down nervously on the concrete floor. From under the desk QUICKY produces two hard-hats and gestures towards the forklift.
We'll ride, if you don't mind. I'm not too fast on my feet these days.
QUICKY massages his bulk into the seat of the forklift while TERR BEAR looks on uncertainly from a few feet away. He hands one of the hardhats to TERR BEAR.
TERR BEAR steps toward the forklift and straddles the two forks awkwardly as QUICKY, still puffing away at his cigar, starts the vehicle and raises the forks, which leaves TERR BERR looking terrified. They drive off into the darkness. Save for the lights of the forklift we see nothing as they ride for what seems like miles in the gloom. Out of the darkness occasionally we see what look like red eyes illuminated by faraway fires and hear voices chanting in a mysterious tongue and tiny but unmistakably animal screams. Eventually the forklift stops and red light, dim at first but increasing slowly in intensity, illuminates a scene of almost indescribable wickedness: a vast plutonic altar constructed entirely out of the skulls of rabbits, topped with a fur cloth; wax drips from six red, fat, slug-like candles. QUICKY lowers the forks and shuts off the lift before rising and removing his hat.
Okay, buddy boy. Down we go and hats off.
(waiting to remove his hat until he stepped a few feet away from the lift)
Wha—what is this place? Where are we?
Where the magic happens, Terr Bear. The place where the magic happens.
I'm serious. Look, I've known Lloyd for a little over a year now and I've seen too many things already I'd just as soon forget. There was that witch doctor down in Haiti and that shaman over in Thailand. And that… thing, whatever he was, just the other day in the hotel room. And now this. Look, I have a pretty good idea of what Lloyd's, uhh, pal there was all about. But I don't get what doing—well, you know, what Lloyd told me I'm gonna do here has to do with anything.
Are you familiar with the writings of Lord Keynes, Terr Bear?
You know: John Maynard Keynes, the economist. Ever read the General Theory?
Oh, yeah. I dunno, maybe, in college, a long time ago, I owned the book.
Do you remember what he said about capitalism and the "animal spirits"?
Yeah, that rings a bell.
Well, he was more right than he knew. MORE RIGHT THAN HE KNEW. Hey, boys and girls, why not wake up to some Nestlé Nesquick chocolate powder? It's delicious AND A GREAT START TO YOUR DAY!
Anyway, let's be serious, Terr Bear. Are you ready to do what needs to be done?
QUICKY devolves into a hit of abominable gurgling laughter before throwing his cigar on the ground and putting it out.
TERR BEAR (hesitating)
I think so.
Sure thing, buddy boy. Hand me your hat there.
TERR BEAR hands over the hat, barely believing what he realizes he is about to see.
(holding TERR BEAR's hat in his left hand and reaching for it theatrically with his right)
Annnnnnnnnd abra-cadabra. Presto chango. Bow-wow-wow yippee-oh-yippee-eh. N to the E to the S to the T, L to the E, that spells NESTLÉ.
An albino leveret the size of a golfball appears from TERR BEAR's hardhat.
Well, get to it to pal.
QUICKY hands the shivering frightened creature to TERR BEAR, who stares at it before turning around. We hear a repulsive shriek and a loud crunch . TERR BEAR turns around, his eyes white with terror. The lights dim again, but we can see that his face is smeared with a dark liquid.
TERR BEAR (whimpering)
Quick, Quick, Quick, I saw something. I saw something behind me just now. It was—
Yep. Best we took our leave.
TERR BEAR runs to the forklift and sits down in the driver's seat.
This time I'm driving.
(hopping with an agonized groan onto the forks)
Whatever floats your boat, Terr Bear. Either way, we'd best move our tails, tee-hee-hee. He's grateful for what you've offered him, but that doesn't mean he wants you here any longer than you have to be-hee-hee-hee. Let's not bother about the hats.
Fade out.Read Less
BY: Brent Scher
I certainly understand why the New England Patriots are solid three-point favorites over the Atlanta Falcons. I also understand why a lot of people are betting on them. Among the chief reasons, I’d imagine, is that Tom Brady is married to Gisele Bundchen. Here are some highlights of her dancing, which is quite impressive. Some …Read More
I certainly understand why the New England Patriots are solid three-point favorites over the Atlanta Falcons. I also understand why a lot of people are betting on them.
Among the chief reasons, I'd imagine, is that Tom Brady is married to Gisele Bundchen. Here are some highlights of her dancing, which is quite impressive.
Some may also be convinced by Rob Gronkowski's girlfriend Camille Kostek, a former Patriots cheerleader.
A photo posted by Camille Kostek (@camillekostek) on
Both ladies are good reasons to think the Pats will win, but neither seem convincing to me. Giselle has proven herself to be a complete hater and loser who doesn't support Brady in his beliefs. Kostek is undeniably fantastic but without Gronk on the field, it is unclear whether her presence will be felt.
His obvious successor is, also undoubtedly, Big Sexy Bortolo Colon.
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) December 15, 2016
And Big Sexy is now an Atlanta man, which makes this quite easy.
New England Patriots VS. Atlanta Falcons, in Houston, Texas
PICK: Falcons +3
Atlanta seems like a pretty great America-loving place. Kate Upton once went there.
It didn't work out well for Braves that season, but Kate thrived in the city.
It is just a quick hop over to University of Georgia from Atlanta, which is a good thing because it is where this girl, named Amanda, went to school.
A photo posted by Amanda Barnes (@amandanb11) on
She's from Atlanta.
Also from Atlanta—ESPN's Olivia Harlan.
She also went to Georgia.
She's a great sports reporter.
Atlanta seems like the smart pick to me.Read Less
Well, maybe. I don’t often direct readers’ attention to the British edition of Marie Claire, but this piece almost made me weep with joy: Donald Trump was sworn in as President on 20th January, and in just two weeks he has already set back women’s rights dramatically. He has restricted women’s reproductive rights, cut funding to international organizations …Read More
Well, maybe. I don't often direct readers' attention to the British edition of Marie Claire, but this piece almost made me weep with joy:
Donald Trump was sworn in as President on 20th January, and in just two weeks he has already set back women’s rights dramatically.
He has restricted women’s reproductive rights, cut funding to international organizations who promote, provide and advise on abortions, and just yesterday it was revealed that he’s planning an executive order to declare pre-marital sex, same-sex marriage and abortion to be wrong.
Three wrong things being called wrong by a twice-divorced unrepentant lecher! I wonder what's come over him. Has he finally gotten right with Jesus? In the glorious words of our Savior, "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."
I am not exactly sure what it means for an executive order to "declare something wrong," but maybe Trump is working out details for expanding opportunities for confession before and during Mass with Cardinal Burke. Nor have I any idea what the source is for this: I have not seen it reported anywhere else, and the reporter does not tell us where she heard it.
But political details are for nerds. The point is that Trump must have watched Thomas Pink's debate with Fr. Martin Rhonheimer on the meaning of Dignitatis humanae and come away agreeing with Dr. Pink that it remains the duty of the temporal authority to exercise coercive power on the Church's behalf over the baptized in matters of faith and morals.
Next week: Corpus Christi as a federal holiday with mandatory paid leave?Read Less
As someone who enjoys a good, snarky high school student—as someone who vocally contemplated the need for a “Pessimists Club” after learning that the “Optimists Club” was, stupidly, a thing that existed and that people belonged to in my hallowed public high halls—I was excited to learn that President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, had founded a “Fascism Forever Club” at his tony Georgetown prep school.Read More
As someone who enjoys a good, snarky high school student—as someone who vocally contemplated the need for a "Pessimists Club" after learning that the "Optimists Club" was, stupidly, a thing that existed and that people belonged to in my hallowed public high halls—I was excited to learn that President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, had founded a "Fascism Forever Club" at his tony Georgetown prep school.
Alas, this little tidbit—one gleefully shared by folks who thought that they had discovered the silver kryptonite bullet of destiny needed to take down the eminently qualified and totally reasonable Gorsuch—was, sadly, yet another bit of fake news. Here's America Magazine with the explainer:
When it came time to write his senior biography for the yearbook, he would make light of the divide between his conservative political beliefs and those of the more liberal faculty and students.
He wrote that he founded and led the “Fascism Forever Club,” though those with knowledge of the school back in the 1980s say there was no such club. The mention of it in the yearbook was a tongue-in-cheek attempt to poke fun at liberal peers who teased him about his fierce conservatism.
Now, we all know just how much the left hates fascism, which is why such a large contingent of it has not-so-tacitly endorsed violence by black-clad thugs looking to silence a gay Jew with political thoughts they deem to be heretical. This is why, frankly, I am simply appalled that Gorsuch did not have the wherewithal or the sticktoitiveness to actually found Fascists Forever. What's the point of a solid troll if you don't follow through to make the punchline true? Do we really want someone who can half-ass a joke like this writing opinions on the seat vacated by Antonin Scalia?
So yeah, I have to say that I'm really quite terribly disappointed in Neil Gorsuch. One only hopes that the other silver kryptonite bullet of destiny in The Resistance's quiver—you know, the snarky Kissinger quote in his college yearbook—is enough to end his nomination. Because, as we all know, when your most damning arguments against a Supreme Court nominee involve things in yearbooks from high school and college, well, he deserves to be shot down at his confirmation hearings 100-0.
That's in the Federalist Papers. Educate yourself.Read Less
In the latest edition of The Substandard—the greatest pod ever to be cast by mortal men—JVL, Vic and I spend the bulk of our time discussing character actors. Subscribe! Leave a review! Every time you say something nice about the podcast, a puppy gets adopted from a no-kill shelter. You don’t … hate puppies, do you?Read More
In the latest edition of The Substandard—the greatest pod ever to be cast by mortal men—JVL, Vic and I spend the bulk of our time discussing character actors. Subscribe! Leave a review! Every time you say something nice about the podcast, a puppy gets adopted from a no-kill shelter. You don't … hate puppies, do you?
Toward the end of the podcast we were asked to rank our favorite Val Kilmer roles. I'm a very straightforward, un-contrarian thinker when it comes to Kilmer: His best roles are, quite clearly, also his most popular roles. But, for the sake of debate, we should probably spell it out.
5. Robert Scott, Spartan
The only real curveball on this list. Spartan is a taut and twisty thriller—it's basically Taken, only if the girl who was taken was the president's daughter and his political team decided to sacrifice her for his reelection campaign—from David Mamet that basically no one has seen. But everyone should see it. Kilmer's great in it: no-nonsense and brutal, laconic and mission-oriented like the film's namesake.
4. Iceman, Top Gun
Of course the hero of Top Gun makes this list. (And if you doubt he's the hero, just listen to the podcast!)
3. Gay Perry, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Kilmer's secret weapon is that he's hilarious. Seriously, go back and watch Real Genius or Top Secret! and tell me he isn't. You can't, unless you want to lie to me, and do you know what we do to liars around these parts? Well, nothing, really. But it's rude. Anyway, Val Kilmer is funny and has great comic timing and the whole reason that Kiss Kiss Bang Bang works is that his gay private eye is a perfect straight man for Robert Downey Jr.'s flaky small time crook.
2. Chris Shiherlis, Heat
The key moment in Heat comes near the end, when a wounded Chris parks his car and is about to head up to see his wife—who is in signaling to him in front of a room crawling with cops. He sees her on the balcony, her eyes welling with tears as she slides her hand across the railing. The message is clear: run. Chris takes the advice, getting out of there as quickly as he can without arousing suspicion. "Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner," is Neal McCauley's (Robert De Niro) motto—a motto he can't live up to. Though, strangely, the attachment in his life that he can't walk out on is vengeance, not love. It's a weakness that gets him killed. But Chris isn't as weak. And his strength represents one of the most heartbreaking moments in Michael Mann's entire oeuvre.
1. Doc Holliday, Tombstone
Doc Holliday has the benefit of being handed basically every great line in Tombstone:
"No, I'm sure of it: I hate him."
"I know! Let's have a spelling contest."
"You know, Frederic Fucking Chopin."
"Why Johnny Ringo. You look like somebody just-walked-over your grave."
And, of course:
But those great lines only work when paired with the foppish intensity of Kilmer's lilting-voiced lunger. And that's why this is clearly his greatest work.Read Less
Yes, you heard me right, non-Muggles. It’s the most beautiful news you’ve heard this year—maybe even the only good news. No, I don’t mean that people in Des Moines have been spotted playing Quidditch or that the CEO of Uber has been dealt a Cruciatus curse (though a witch can dream, right?): I am referring to …Read More
Yes, you heard me right, non-Muggles. It's the most beautiful news you've heard this year—maybe even the only good news. No, I don't mean that people in Des Moines have been spotted playing Quidditch or that the CEO of Uber has been dealt a Cruciatus curse (though a witch can dream, right?): I am referring to J.K. Rowling's truly magical takedowns of dangerous alt-right Twitter trolls.
It all started yesterday when our favorite Gryffindor received a nasty tweet from an anonymous
white supremacist Trump supporter Death Eater.
Well, the fumes from the DVDs might be toxic and I've still got your money, so by all means borrow my lighter. pic.twitter.com/kVoi8VGEoK
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) January 31, 2017
Threatening to burn her truly magical tomes, or, to be honest, any book? Like, is this 1933 or the Middle Ages or something? What's next, burning witches?
There's more where that came from, sir.
One more time:
Wham. It's hard to tell behind that gray square that JKR thankfully put in front of your avatar and Twitter handle, but I'll bet you're as ugly as an 80-year-old Hippogriff and smell worse than a pongy old dungeon troll. Which is exactly what you are, by the way: a loathsome, warty, right-wing, misogynistic, xenophobic, anti-LGBTQ troll. You're worse than Voldemort, and you just got hexed by one of the most powerful witches in the world. Put some ice on it because:
But there's another point I really want to make here. This isn't just about Twitter or about our favorite books or about sweet, sweet burns from dazzlingly clever sorceresses (though those things are all beautiful of course and we still need them). It's about the real magic that exists inside all of our hearts, the power of love that, as Dumbledore told us, is stronger than any spell—the charm of tolerance and decency extended on behalf of all persons everywhere regardless of race or gender identity or sexual orientation or documentation status. Like all powerful enchantments, it is one that can only be cast by wizards and witches who have the courage to believe.
Do you remember the first time you read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone? How sad you felt when he was stuck in his cupboard with the Dursleys (who, let's be honest, would definitely be Trump voters) all alone without a friend in the world? Well, what happened next? That's right: the Boy Who Lived was also the Boy Who Believed, believed that one day a magic owl would arrive and change his life forever.
If all of us had the same courage as Harry, Hermione, Ron, Hagrid, and, of course, Dumbledore, who knows what could happen? Imagine a world in which a strong, intelligent woman could finally be elected president of the United States, a world in which not a single unwoke pizza place or beer company was allowed to exist—a beautiful new golden age in which inter-sex phobia disappears in a puff of smoke and the Pope is a fabulously dressed transman who blesses polyamorous unions and undocumented workers sit on the boards of major corporations like Coca-Cola and abortion and other essential women's health care services are freely available to all people just like they are in the wizard world, where Trump himself is transformed into a newt and disappears forever into the darkness that can no longer threaten the light that is in all of our hearts.
All of this—and so, so, so much more—is possible if you just believe.Read Less
BY: Aaron Kliegman
The world’s most dangerous arms race is not to be found in Moscow and Washington, or in East Asia, where tensions are high on the Korean Peninsula and a showdown looms in the Western Pacific between Beijing and the United States. Nor is it to be found in the Middle East, a region in turmoil where two powers–Iran and Saudi Arabia–are engaged in proxy warfare in several hotspots. No, the answer lies in South Asia, and the ongoing rivalry between India and Pakistan.Read More
The world's most dangerous arms race is not to be found in Moscow and Washington, or in East Asia, where tensions are high on the Korean Peninsula and a showdown looms in the Western Pacific between Beijing and the United States. Nor is it to be found in the Middle East, a region in turmoil where two powers—Iran and Saudi Arabia—are engaged in proxy warfare in several hotspots. It lies in South Asia, and the ongoing rivalry between India and Pakistan.
The Indian-Pakistani contest is the global problem most likely to produce a large-scale war between two big, powerful countries and result in the deployment of nuclear weapons.
The rate of new developments in this ongoing arms race has been striking—and something the Trump administration should carefully watch and be prepared to address to avoid catastrophic escalation in South Asia.
Pakistan announced on Jan. 9 that it had successfully tested for the first time a submarine-launched nuclear-capable cruise missile. The launch of the Babur-3 missile, with a range of 280 miles, took place somewhere in the Indian Ocean off the Pakistani coast. Obtaining a naval nuclear deterrent has been a chief goal of Pakistan's maritime strategy as it tries to match the military capabilities of India, which tested a 1,864-mile submarine-launched nuclear-capable ballistic missile in March 2014.
A few days before Pakistan's successful test-launch, India's new chief of army staff, General Bipin Rawat, spoke to India Today and appeared to acknowledge something that Islamabad has long suspected: the existence of an Indian "Cold Start" military doctrine.
"The Cold Start doctrine exists for conventional military operations," Rawat said. "Whether we have to conduct conventional operations for such strikes is a decision well-thought through, involving the government and the Cabinet Committee on Security."
The comment was the first time an actively serving Indian official acknowledged the existence of Cold Start, a doctrine of limited conventional war against Pakistan developed in the mid-2000s. The Indian military would quickly penetrate Pakistani territory, likely in response to a terrorist attack, in a limited manner that would not trigger a nuclear response. The Indian political and military establishments have not officially sanctioned Cold Start—and it is unclear whether Rawat meant the doctrine exists today as policy—but experts believe New Delhi has effectively put it into action.
Two weeks after Rawat's interview, several Pakistani officials "threatened to use nuclear weapons should India invade," the Financial Times reported.
"If ever our national security is threatened by advancing foreign forces, Pakistan will use all of its weapons—and I mean all of our weapons—to defend our country," one official said.
The FT article was a reminder of Pakistan's now publicized response to Cold Start: to build low-yield, tactical nuclear weapons as a credible deterrent against Indian incursions, and use them if necessary. Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhary confirmed in October 2015 that Pakistan was building tactical nuclear weapons in part to counter Cold Start.
Pakistan's response to Cold Start is troubling, especially given current tensions. I have previously written how a large-scale terrorist attack on Indian soil that New Delhi believes is tied to Pakistan could trigger Cold Start into action, which could cause Islamabad to use a tactical nuclear weapon against India. The world would then be in a new and dark place, with unclear consequences.
In this context, it was significant to hear nearly two weeks ago that India is set to deploy 464 new T-90SM main battle tanks along India's western and northern borders with Pakistan. Indian defense officials told IHS Jane's Defense Weekly of the plans to move the Russian-made tanks on Jan. 19. The Indian Army already has a strong tank presence on the India-Pakistan border, but reports that New Delhi is updating its tank formations could be a sign of Cold Start being implemented over time.
"Tanks play a pivotal role in Cold Start as they are the key offensive assets to launch limited but rapid armored thrusts into Pakistani territory supported by mechanized infantry formations and air power within 48-72 hours at the outset of a military confrontation with Islamabad," the Diplomat‘s Franz-Stefan Gady wrote at the time.
Last week, the Pakistan Armed Forces said the military conducted the first successful flight-test of the new nuclear-capable Ababeel medium-range ballistic missile. The missile reportedly has a range of 1,367 miles and is capable of carrying multiple warheads.
India announced that it will test a K-4 intermediate-range submarine-launched nuclear-capable ballistic missile from an underwater platform on Tuesday, according to local media. The missile has a reported range of 2,174 miles.
There is no reason to believe this back-and-forth escalation will dissipate anytime soon. Tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad have been growing in recent months over the Kashmir border region, which each country claims in its entirety but only controls part of. The Kashmir dispute has been the main cause of nearly all of their prior conflicts, which includes four wars and several crises that nearly escalated into war.
And yet, virtually no U.S. lawmakers brought up the Indian-Pakistani rivalry at relevant confirmation hearings for President Trump's administration. Senators focused their questions on Russia (for good reason), and to a lesser extent on the other four chief threats to American interests: China, Iran, North Korea, and Islamic terrorism.
But Congress and the administration should remember that India has a population of about 1.3 billion people and a nuclear arsenal with 100 to 120 warheads, while Pakistan has a population of about 190 million people and a nuclear arsenal with 110 to 130 warheads. In other words, a conflict in South Asia could bring unparalleled human destruction.
While the United States does not have the same alliances in South Asia that it does in Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia, or the same threat of a would-be hegemonic power threatening vital American interests, Washington has a major stake in the India-Pakistan arms race.
First, as the world's only superpower, the United States has a responsibility to prevent the potential threat of nuclear war. Second, America's bilateral relations with both countries are essential. The United States has designated Pakistan a major non-NATO ally for their decades-long strategic partnership, and Islamabad is too big and influential (and dangerous) to ignore. Washington's relationship with India could be one its most important in the 21st century, as New Delhi is set to see its economic power grow steadily going forward. India could also be a balancing force against China's rise.
The United States is the only country with the right clout to manage an Indian-Pakistani crisis and deescalate it. U.S. diplomacy, for example, was critical in preventing the 1999 Kargil War from getting far worse by putting appropriate pressure on Pakistan. In 2001, Washington helped cool boiling tensions after a terrorist attack on Indian Parliament by urging restraint from and putting pressure on India.
President Trump may very well be faced with a quickly deteriorating crisis between India and Pakistan in the next four years. Cooler heads have prevailed in South Asia with such incidents in the past. That may not be the case next time, however, and there will be a next time. Trump and his secretary of state could be the only two able to bring both sides together before the situation gets out of control. Let us hope they are planning for that day.Read Less
There was an unintentionally hilarious story over at SB Nation—a sports blog network founded by Markos Moulitsas, of Daily Kos fame—the other day about New England Patriots fans who are Super Duper Sad You Guys regarding the fact that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick don’t, like, hate Donald Trump.Read More
There was an unintentionally hilarious story over at SB Nation—a sports blog network founded by Markos Moulitsas, of Daily Kos fame—the other day about New England Patriots fans who are Super Duper Sad You Guys regarding the fact that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick don't, like, hate Donald Trump.
Seriously. That was the whole story.
Here's a taste of it:
That righteous indignation only fueled the Pats-fans-against-the-world mentality that began to take shape after Spygate in 2007, when the NFL disciplined the team for videotaping the Jets' defensive coaches. Since then, it’s seemed like everyone outside of the L.L. Bean Boot-heavy (a company currently struggling with a Trump problem of its own) states thinks the Pats are cheaters. No one likes cheaters who win all the time. …
I remember the shock that went around the internet when the hat pictures surfaced. Trump was largely still a joke then, so some thought that maybe Brady was just messing with the media. Others hoped someone had given the hat to him ironically and he hadn’t gotten rid of it yet.
That thinking turned out to be wishful: Brady went on to say it’d be “great” if his “friend” Trump won the election, and then later walked those comments back. Trump told The New York Times shortly thereafter: “Tom Brady is a great friend of mine. He's a winner and he likes winners.”
So, just to be clear: The Patriots cheating their asses off didn't matter to these football "fans" but, ZOMG, TRUMP! Oh the tears, they aren't done flowing yet:
In the past, if a team’s politics didn’t align with those of its fan base, most fans could live with it. But the game got way uglier, and many people seem to be struggling: Fans flocked to Brady’s Facebook page the day Trump read the letter in New Hampshire to leave comments about how disappointed they were. Countless New England loyalists I’ve talked to over the past two months have told me that their idols are wobbling on their pedestals.
For some, they’ve shattered.
Emphasis mine, because that's pathetic. If you stop cheering for a team or feel personally betrayed by them because they voted for someone other than your preferred political candidate, you're pathetic.
“Yeah, I just will not watch,” she said. “I really enjoy watching the game with my family. I like what it means for my family to sit down and talk and laugh and watch and snack and now … I just, it’s just ruined for me. It’s not the worst thing about this, of course — this whole thing stems from my tremendous disappointment over this election and country. But it will forever color my opinion of the team. I will not watch, I will not buy any more jerseys. I’m done.”
Wow, she sure sounds like a real fun person to be around at a party.
Pease isn’t alone — at least six other people told me they can’t bear to watch Pats games anymore, either.
It’s hard to have a conversation about the Patriots without talking about Trump anymore.
It actually isn't, at all, unless you're the sort of pathetic loser whose identity is wrapped up entirely in politics—the sort of jabbering fool who thinks that it's worth a multi-thousand word feature to highlight how awful it is that your heroes dare to have an opinion contrary to your own. This is Chris-Christie-Begging-Bruce-Springsteen-For-Love Pathetic. It's sad, and yet, at the same time, strangely, profoundly hilarious.
The worst thing about sports writers—the absolutely most annoying thing—is that they all tend to recognize that what they've spent their life covering is more or less entirely trivial. So they try to make it more "relevant" and "meaningful" by injecting politics into their work, into their writing, into their livelihood. Which is how you wind up with headlines and stories like this one:
Obviously, in a sane world, this is the only thing he should want to talk about. It is the definition of "dog bites man." In an insane, monstrously stupid world, however, sports writers have to spend the week trying to figure out ways to tie the Super Bowl to the drama in the White House. Here's what Brady had to say when asked about Trump:
“I’m not talking politics at all because I just want to focus on the positive aspects of this game and my teammates and the reasons why we’re here,” Brady said. “It’s taken a lot of hard work to get to this point and I just want to focus on the positive nature of two great teams competing at the highest level.”
And you know what? That's all he has to say. Tom Brady isn't here to make you feel better about the state of the nation. He's not here to explain why he supports the politicians he supports. He's a grown man paid to throw a fucking football to other grown men who have their own opinions about the state of the world, none of which matter, none of which make any difference to the product on the field.
Me? I'm going to cheer for the Patriots and eat a Taylor Gourmet sub and maybe listen to a Taylor Swift song during the Super Bowl—despite the fact that I think Trump is a dope, despite the fact I didn't vote for him, despite the fact that I think some of his policies are bad. Because nothing he does changes the fact that excellence on the field is worth enjoying. Nothing he does changes the tastiness of a delicious hoagie. Nothing he does makes a catchy song any less toe-tapping.Read Less
Twenty-six of your favorite original 151 Pokémon on the former Exxon CEO and current Trump pick for the nation’s top diplomat. Squirtle “Honestly I haven’t had much time to consider the issue. Is there any chance I could get back to you?” Dewgong “Obviously the first thing my mind goes to is the question of …Read More
Twenty-six of your favorite original 151 Pokémon on the former Exxon CEO and current Trump pick for the nation's top diplomat.
"Honestly I haven't had much time to consider the issue. Is there any chance I could get back to you?"
"Obviously the first thing my mind goes to is the question of intersectionality. You have to wonder how this will play out not only in terms of environmental impact but also in terms of exacerbating or providing cover for trans- and intersex-phobia."
"I'm basically fine with it. I think we need to give the new administration a chance. Remember: the people have spoken after all."
"All my brothers and sisters from Standing Rock know that this move by the administration, which involves the direct appointment of a high-powered representative of the fossil fuel industry to one of the most significant offices in the land, is totally unacceptable to the American people."
"I am socially liberal but fiscally pretty conservative, so I'm not too worried about Trump, honestly."
"Yeah, I'll be honest. I'm really regretting the changes we made under Reid to how many votes we need to block appointments."
"I'm confident that Mr. Tillerson's business background has prepared him to make commonsensical decisions on behalf of the America people as a whole, not merely persons of any one color or gender or sexual orientation or religion."
"My husband and I are just here because we finally got reasonably priced Hamilton tickets."
"I was really excited when Trump released his list of potential Supreme Court nominees, but this guy I haven't heard of."
"As a committed Roman Catholic whose politics are derived from the social magisterium of the Church rather than from amoral liberalism, I find it difficult to square Tillerson's business practices with my belief in, for example, the necessity of the just wage. I'm not sure if you're familiar with crucial teaching documents such as Leo XIII's Rerum novarum or Saint John XXIII's Mater et magistra or even something more recent like Benedict XVI's Caritas in veritate, but that's basically where I'm coming from. Anyway, though, on foreign policy I have to admit that for what it's worth he is probably likely to be better than someone like John Bolton."
"What the hell do you think, nerd? I f—ing hate Trump."
"Did you know Tillerson was an Eagle Scout? My boys used to be in the Scouts before they started making them pledge on Obama's books instead of the Bible and giving out merit badges for sneaking into other boys' sleeping bags. I read it on the Internet."
"As with any issue, I think it's important to defer to science here. And the science is clear: man-made climate change is a fact as clearly established as the bottle of water sitting on my desk. No one who denies that should be eligible for any office, appointed or elected."
"I'm just real excited about what Trump's been able to do for this country so far. He's only been in there for what, a week? And he's already draining the damn swamp, just like he said he would. At first I was pretty skeptical, not of him but that, you know, he'd be able to do the things he said he was gonna do, but so far I'm happy with the job he's doing."
"I recently created a website to serve as a hub for my speaking engagements. If you are interested in booking me, please contact my representative via espeakers.com."
"The corrupt and crooked MSM is full of cucks and liars."
"President Pussy-Grab O'Goldleaf will say or do just about anything to please the white supremacists who cheer him on at Breitbart, so of course he has appointed someone like this to serve as secretary of state. People on the left who looked at Hillary and held their noses because they wanted to make the perfect enemy of the good have blood on their hands here."
"I guess I don't understand this assumption that just because a person has executive experience means that he is automatically suited for government. It's not something you find any justification for in social science literature or econ."
"Get your BUTT UP and GO TO THE GYM lol. Glutes, glutes, glutes."
"I'm surprised more people aren't making a bigger deal out of Tillerson's unwillingness to fully divest himself from Exxon. I think the potential for a conflict of interest is enormous. For me that's reason enough to vote no."
"Whatever happens, I just think it's important that everyone's voices be heard. Contact your senators and representatives, people!"
"Listen up, my fellow white ladies—if you're not standing up to Trump on this, how do you expect our Native American brothers and sisters or our Muslim brothers and sisters who are LGBTQ and LGBTQ-allied to be there for you when they come after women's health care and reproductive rights?"
"I don't really know. I'm in the middle, I guess."
"It's not every day that I agree with those dirtbags from Berner pile-on Twitter, but somebody had a hilarious meme about this the other day. I can't remember what it was, but I'm totally opposed, obviously."
"Defying Trump appointments and executive orders, including, most recently, the unconstitutional Muslim ban, is what has always made America great."Read Less
Big news you guys! The Doomsday Clock, which was created in the 1940s by a group of concerned scientists to demonstrate just how close we are to finally purging the planet of our pesky presence via nuclear destruction, ticked 30 seconds closer to midnight. We’re doomed, doomed!
Or, you know, not.Read More
Big news you guys! The Doomsday Clock, which was created in the 1940s by a group of concerned scientists to demonstrate just how close we are to finally purging the planet of our pesky presence via nuclear destruction, ticked 30 seconds closer to midnight. We're doomed, doomed!
Or, you know, not.
The Doomsday Clock is the worst sort of pseudoscientific claptrap, one given a veneer of respectability by the fact that NOBEL SCIENTISTS are the ones who arbitrarily move the hands on its face closer to, or further away from, midnight, the zero hour, the time when we wipe ourselves from the face of the Earth. How do I know that NOBEL SCIENTISTS are the ones who arbitrarily pick and choose where to place the minute hand? Because many, many outraged people on Twitter informed me that NOBEL SCIENTISTS are totes in charge of it when I pointed out that calling a press conference to announce the movements of a fake clock is the height of silliness.
And are these NOBEL SCIENTISTS, say, experts in grand strategy? Do they have any special insight into politics or international relations or military planning and tactics? Were their NOBEL PRIZES awarded for being particularly in tune with the ways in which the nuclear hammer might fall? Well … no. Not really. Let's check, just to make sure, though! David Baltimore's wasn't. Paul Berg's wasn't. Nicolaas Bloembergen's wasn't. Manfred Eigen's wasn't. Jerome Friedman's wasn't. Sheldon Glashow's wasn't. Dudley Herschbach's wasn't. Roald Hoffman's wasn't. Masatoshi Koshiba's wasn't. Leon Lederman's wasn't. Ben Mottelson's wasn't. John Polanyi's wasn't. Richard Roberts' wasn't. Steven Weinberg's wasn't. Frank Wilczek's wasn't.
So, that's uh … hold on, carry the one … yes, right: oh-for-fifteen.
"But that's not a fair way of judging things," you might be thinking right now. "After all, they don't really give out Nobel Prizes for grand strategy!" That's true!* But that's, you know, kind of the point? Those guys all seem very very smart—I barely understand what would constitute "contributions to the theory of the unified weak and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles, including, inter alia, the prediction of the weak neutral current," to pick one winner's bio at random. But that mess of physics up there doesn't mean that Dr. Glashow is, well, you know, an authority on saving the planet from destruction, either.
As Professor Alan Jacobs** noted in the American Conservative last year, all the "Doomsday Clock" really is is a naked projection of fear. "Eventually someone decided to make a fake clock with moveable hands to make the occasional Doomsday Press Conferences a little more dramatic, but that’s not a timepiece; rather, it’s an image of an image of an emotion: fear," Jacobs wrote. "I say ‘image of an emotion' because no actual science goes into the decision of where to place the hands of the clock." Or, as another genius put it, "A symbolic clock is as nourishing to the intellect as a photograph of oxygen to a drowning man."
And, really, that's all there is to say about the Doomsday Clock and its reliance on the glamour of the Nobel to give its press conferences any weight: it's a gussied-up bit of fearmongering, a way for swells to impress upon the dulled masses that the anti-intellectual vulgarian sitting in the White House is a nasty bit of work.
But hey, who am I to question The Science? After all, we know that the highest form of scientific truth can only be symbolized by dudes bombastically moving the fake hands of a fake watch in totally arbitrary and meaningless ways seemingly dictated mostly by the level of distaste for the political moment.
Praise be to Science!
*It's worth noting that none of those guys won for their work in the environmental sciences either, if only because this ridiculous clock now includes climate change in its "calculus."
**Prof. Jacobs hasn't won a Nobel—bias!—yet, but he does have a doctorate from the University of Virginia, so he gets partial genius credit as long as we're making naked appeals to authority, I guess?Read Less
In the latest edition of The Substandard—which is literally the greatest, most amazing podcast in the history of podcasts—we discuss M. Night Shyamalan in particular and "twist" endings more generally. Listen, subscribe, review, rate, etc.
What a twist!Read Less
WMAL’s Larry O’Connor was kind enough to have me on his show yesterday to talk about the Oscar nominations, and he ended the segment with a pointed complaint about the lack of top-grossing films among the best picture contenders. You can listen here:Read More
WMAL's Larry O'Connor was kind enough to have me on his show yesterday to talk about the Oscar nominations, and he ended the segment with a pointed complaint about the lack of top-grossing films among the best picture contenders. You can listen here:
Larry highlighted past Oscar favorites such as The Sting and wondered why good movies that weren't necessarily high art couldn't get nominations any more.
And the answer to that question is relatively simple: the movies that gross a lot of money these days tend to, quite frankly, not be all that good.
This isn't to say that they aren't entertaining; I liked Rogue One and Captain America: Civil War and Deadpool fine. I gave them all "fresh" ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. I didn't pay for them, but I wouldn't have minded paying for them if I had. There are far worse ways to spend a couple hours.
But you know what I haven't done? I haven't thought about those movies once, period, since I had to write about them. There isn't an interesting idea in a single one of them, no reflection of the world or consideration of the way we live our lives. There isn't a memorable performance, something that sticks with you for weeks or months or years. In other words, they don't do what great art does: they don't hold a mirror up to our lives and help us order our universe.
A lot of people are whining about the fact that Deadpool—at once amusingly vulgar and far more in love with its own sense of cleverness than it really has any right to be—didn't get a best picture nomination. "But so many people saw it! It was so popular!" Who cares how many people liked it? I mean, seriously: WHO CARES? A lot of people saw Suicide Squad too, and that movie was slapdash horseshit. A lot of people eat at Five Guys on a day-to-day basis and consider it better-than-average fast food, but we're not clamoring to give them a James Beard Award or a Michelin star, you know?
Look, there's nothing wrong with movies that are entertaining. Entertainment is great, I love to be entertained! And sometimes these hugely entertaining films can transcend their limitations; you won't get any argument from me if you were to suggest that The Dark Knight, one of the few great films about post-9/11 American life, was snubbed back in 2009.
But the Oscars aren't supposed to be a measure of entertainment—we have Box Office Mojo and CinemaScore to handle that. The Academy Awards are meant to measure artistic achievement. Entertaining an audience is certainly a sign of artistry, but it's neither the only nor the dominant one. True artistry helps illuminate aspects of the human condition, be they the power of grief or love or hope. It allows us understand the tensions between morality and duty, love and identity. It sheds light on the social conditions that helped give way to Trump's rise.
But hey, who needs all that crap? After all, Deadpool had a great pegging joke.Read Less
Much to the disappointment of every woman who has ever loved me, from my mother to my first girlfriend in seventh grade to my long-suffering wife, I have never been one for anniversaries and that sort of thing. Not long after we met, the last of these ladies did her best to help me remember …Read More
Much to the disappointment of every woman who has ever loved me, from my mother to my first girlfriend in seventh grade to my long-suffering wife, I have never been one for anniversaries and that sort of thing. Not long after we met, the last of these ladies did her best to help me remember her birthday by explaining that it was the day after—or was it the day before?—St. Patrick’s Day, which is only helpful to those of us who recall when the patron of Ireland is commemorated by Mother Church. Nor am I one for big occasions. I quit high school in part because I could not stand the idea of the graduation ceremony and whether I in fact possess a college degree is a matter of some debate, hinging on old library fees, unjustly imposed, that I have sworn never to pay. When I was nine years old I played the new Pokémon game for 12 hours straight on New Year’s Eve and forgot about the new millennium, though around two in the morning I did remember to offer a prayer of thanksgiving to the Almighty for not allowing Y2K to wipe out all my Pikachus.
But even I can be forgiven for not wrapping myself in an American flag and reading aloud from the collected prose writings of James Madison last Friday. It wasn't until Monday morning that we learned that President Donald Trump had ex post facto declared his inauguration a "National Day of Patriotic Devotion." It is very hard, even for the sort of people who keep all their great aunts’ middle names straight, to celebrate a holiday that does not yet exist.
Mind you, I don’t think it very likely that I would have made much of a fuss about the president’s ad hoc fiesta even if he had bothered telling us about it in advance. Popular patriotism has always left me cold. I'm not registered to vote and I almost never do anything on the Fourth of July. Even as an adolescent in the immediate post-9/11 era I had very little stomach for the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance; I even got sent home once, on Flag Day, for writing "Who the Hell is George W. Bush?" on my shirt.
I can't be the only one who thinks that the words of the official proclamation entered by Trump into the Federal Register read like something Kim Jong-Un’s courtiers might put over the loudspeakers on their Dear Leader’s birthday:
A new national pride stirs the American soul and inspires the American heart. We are one people, united by a common destiny and a shared purpose. … There are no greater people than the American citizenry, and as long as we believe in ourselves, and our country, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 20, 2017, as National Day of Patriotic Devotion, in order to strengthen our bonds to each other and to our country—and to renew the duties of Government to the people.
Something about all those capital letters makes me queasy. Besides, it’s not clear to me what, supposing some of us had time machines and could back and make a big to-do of it, a "Day of Patriotic Devotion" would involve. Listening to Trump’s speech? I was there.
It’s worth pointing out that these National Days are nothing new. Obama declared his own inauguration a "National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation," which sounds to me like a campaign by the Archdiocese of Washington to get more people to go to confession. In 1924, Calvin Coolidge announced "National Education Week," complete with "Patriotism Day." Jimmy Carter, daft as always, wanted something similar, albeit only after he left the White House, insisting just before he handed over the presidency to Reagan that the third week of February be observed as "National Patriotism Week."
In a bizarre way the whole thing makes me very pleased. I have always liked disappointing politicians and their noble expectations for my conduct. To make Obama feel put out one had only to join with one’s fellows in failing to bring about the glorious new era of peace and civility and liberal broadmindedness financed by Goldman Sachs and underwritten by state-sponsored abortion that he had proposed for us on the campaign trail. To annoy Trump, who has spent the last five days making it clear that he would rather pay his advisers to invent figures for him than believe that large numbers of people were not happy about his inauguration, you just have to stay home when he makes speeches.
In other words, I’m glad it’s still as easy as ever to be a bad citizen. Don't worry: I'm not dumping on ’Merica. I adore our beautiful landscape and Coors and jazz and the University of Michigan football team, especially its head coach, Jim Harbaugh, our greatest living citizen; my preferred brand of cigarette is even called ‘American Spirit’. I just want to love it on my own terms, which is, of course, the most American attitude of all.Read Less
I have to say, I’m used to crushing disappointments during Oscar season. And while this year has its share of sad omissions—Silence shut out from every major category? No love for Amy Adams in Arrival? Viggo Mortenson over Joel Edgerton’s Loving perf? Nothing at all for Love & Friendship?—I have to say that I’m … strangely psyched about the nominations?Read More
I have to say, I'm used to crushing disappointments during Oscar season. And while this year has its share of sad omissions—Silence shut out from every major category? No love for Amy Adams in Arrival? Viggo Mortensen over Joel Edgerton's Loving perf? Nothing at all for Love & Friendship?—I have to say that I'm … strangely psyched about this year's Oscar nominations?
I mean, the nine-film best picture lineup includes my two favorite films of the year (Arrival and Hell or High Water) and two others from my top ten (La La Land and Hacksaw Ridge). The only real dud is Lion, a Harvey Weinstein special.* I wouldn't have voted for Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, Fences, or Hidden Figures, but I do think they're all solid, three-star flicks with some A-plus performances. Eight for nine is a pretty good batting average!
I'll be writing more about Hacksaw Ridge elsewhere a bit later, but I do think it's worth noting that Mel Gibson's days as a pariah seem to be over: despite minimal box office and solid-but-not-overwhelming reviews, it scored best pic, director, actor, and a handful of other awards. Personally, I think Garfield's doubt-riddled priest in Silence was a better bit of acting than his aw-shucks can-do medic in Hacksaw Ridge, but this is a quibble.
My favorite nomination has to be Taylor Sheridan snagging a nod for Hell or High Water, a taut little comedy-thriller about the denizens of Donald Trump's America. Sheridan, who also wrote the screenplay for Sicario, is easily one of the best writers working in Hollywood today, and I hope his awards-season recognition lets him keep doing work that is thought-provoking and pulse-pounding.
Anyway! I'm looking forward to the show. And I strongly recommend checking out Hell or High Water, Arrival, and Hacksaw Ridge if you've yet to do so. There's a reason they picked up so many awards.
*I appreciate the animus against the phrase "Oscar bait," but, like pornography, we know it when we see it—and when we see a Weinstein-backed flick racking up dubious numbers of awards and Oscar nominations, well, we know it. Oh, do we know it.Read Less