selenak: (Kitty Winter)
RE: ongoing horror show, err, US national and foreign politics: this is yet another reason why I find the entire Hydra in Marvel comics & MCU concept so stupid, not just in the WWII era, where the sheer logistics (or lack of same) break my brain, but also in the present day. Super-secret organization, master assassins, gadget weapons? This just isn't how fascism works. This is how fascism works. It shouts its goals to the winds and gets itself voted into power.

There is not a single member of the Republican party, nor any other voter who either elected the Orange Menace or by not voting enabled it, who can claim this isn't EXACTLY what they voted for or allowed to happen. Because Agent Orange certainly hadn't kept his views a secret. Nor did his minions.
selenak: (Missy by Yamiinsane123)
Ever since [personal profile] trobadora talked about the idea of a Missy Remix, I've been enthralled by it. And now it really happens:

Missy This Fic - the Gomez!Master remix

Meanwhile, in the real world which is currently both darker and far more absurd than Doctor Who ever gets:

This summary of recent events by Alexandra Petri also isn't half bad.
selenak: (SCC by Monanotlisa)
I have never cried over the result of an election before, and I've witnessed some depressing ones in my lifetime. I can't stop crying now. Have yet to throw up, though I've been feeling like it for hours.
selenak: (Rocking the vote by Noodlebidsnest)
Broadly speaking, and watching from abroad which means I might have missed a lot, I'm tempted to guess the only Republicans coming out of this election year with their reputations enhanced instead of damaged are, of all the people, the ex presidents Bush (for at no point endorsing Drumpf)...and Megyn Kelly, Fox News Presenter. Or we could just narrow it down to Megyn Kelly. Who in addition to tirelessly battling the orange menace also just took on the 90s tantrum throwing manchild, Newt Gingrich, when he went up against her.

Check this out. Kudos, Ms. Kelly. Not that I agree with you on anything else, but, yeah.

Meanwhile, the Gingrich comedy hour included such gems as "“I’m sick and tired of people like you using language that’s inflammatory that’s not true!”. Spoken by Newt Gingrich. Supporting Donald Trump. I think this might rival Drumpf's own "nobody respects women more than I do", don't you?

Also, I'm having fond flashbacks to the last presidential election campaign, in 2012, when Gingrich suddenly discovered he'd always loved Bill Clinton and thought him a great president in an effort to divide the Clinton and Obama camps. I can't wait for what he'll come up next post elections. He's always known Drumpf was up to no good, and no one but he can save the Republican party?
selenak: (Henry Hellrung by Imaginary Alice)
Because US politics provide less angst for me than European politics: on twitter, JMS (i.e. J. Michael Straczkynski, for you non B5lers) has not only urged anyone who ever liked one of the shows he's worked on to vote for Bernie Sanders, but has enlisted fictional characters as well by pointing out that Peter Parker and Superman (he said Superman, not Clark Kent) , both of whom he wrote in comics, would most definitely vote for Bernie.

Great Maker, as Londo Mollari would say. Whose endorsement wasn't offered, undoubtedly because Londo's political choices are, err, not of the type that you'd want in rl. Anyway, I can't decide whether I'm more amused or more inclined to face palm. Not that I'm not prepared to believe Peter Parker would vote for Bernie Sanders, but I could be mean and point out Peter Parker (comics book edition) is canonically vulnerable to Daddy figures persuading him into endorsing major political decisions he later disagrees with. During JMS' run, no less. (And that's the first and last time anyone will compare Bernie Sanders to (comic book) Civil War era Tony Stark.) No, but seriously: I'm all for urging people to vote and for expressing one's beliefs about a candidate. Drafting comic book heroes into it, though, has to be a new one.

Though now I want the fanfic where Peter votes for Bernie while Aunt May votes for Hillary. Meanwhile, MJ (still married to Peter at the time of JMS writing him) is of the "anyone who can stop Trump or Cruz" persuasion and is amendable to either candidate, but that's not what Peter and May want to hear, who try to convince her she HAS TO MAKE A DECISION.

Meanwhile, J. Jonah Jameson is writing an article of how Spider-Man is stealthily supporting Trump. Why? Because he hates them both. Since when has he ever needed another reason?
selenak: (Malcolm and Vanessa)
Saturday = Black Sails day! Ah, the joys and torments of open canon. I want to write meta about how the show uses the term "partners " pretty badly, and how nearly all its main characters either seek, confirm or reject partnership to one or several of the other main characters - the notable exceptions are Billy & anyone. There are so many useful quotes - from Max, from Anne, from Jack, from both Hamiltons (both times with Flint as the adressee, of course), from Eleanor - and how Silver's statement to Flint in 3.03 both compares and contrasts with the other examples. Also how that connects to John Silver's overall character development. But with the ongoing season delivering something meaty in terms of character scenes every episode, I think I'll restrain myself until the season is over.

Teaser trailer for season 3 of Penny Dreadful. The second season was a bit uneven, but I am still looking forward to the third one. Reunite the team, John Logan, plan your season arc a bit better, and never stop letting the amazing Eva Green chew up the scenery. Also, the fact there's a shot of the three Pyramids of Gizeh makes me hope again I shall finally get my walking Mummy. And it better be *spoilery character whose s2 fate I'm still disgruntled with*, though fine, I'll take other Mummys, too.

Any horror, no matter how gory, is better than current day reality. See also this article:

How America made Donald Trump Unstoppable: Quote from article, summing up the central argument: Trump found the flaw in the American Death Star. It doesn't know how to turn the cameras off, even when it's filming its own demise.

No kidding. He's getting more coverage than any other candidate, and the idea of him (or any of the other Republican candidates, given their voiced views and record) in the White House scares me almost more than our own right wing nutters on the rise. (Not because they're better, because the US President can do more global damage.)
selenak: (Gold by TheSilverdoe)
Last meme entry! It has been fun (again). Will do it next year, too.

So, let's see. For the purposes of a reply, I shall have to indulge in some over the top generalizations, for which I apologize in Advance, US Americans.

A North American origin is easy to spot if:

- a tv show or movie employs only thin, beautiful actresses who are made up to look like they could be on a magazine page (not just kidding: I remember the (welcome) shock when I started to watch more British origin tv shows and movies, and while many of the women there were at least pretty, it wasn't usually of the glossy magazine type, and there could be female main characters who looked over forty, or fifty, with imperfect figures and non ideal faces)

- people lying in bed who have to get up suddenly for some reason do so while wrapping the sheet of their bed around themselves (may be an out of date criteria in the age of HBO, but I suspect it still applies for cable network); I noticed this sheet wrapping weirdness first in ye olde 1980s when Dallas was airing)

- characters in books or in movies and tv employ baseball metaphors (whether or not there is also baseball on screen) and love baseball, even if they happen to be in a sci fi work and their planet of origin never heard of the wretched game

- DADDY ISSUES are rampant (which isn't to say that European works don't use daddy issues as a trope, but not as much, and they use them somewhat differently; [personal profile] londonkds once joked that if Blake's 7 had been an American show instead of a British one, Avon wouldn't have met the brother of his supposedly dead girlfriend in s2 but his previously unknown son. You could add that if Doctor Who was an American show, the Doctor's issue with Gallifrey and the reason why he left the planet would be because his father didn't give him enough attention. And if the German movie The Lives of Others ever had been given an US remake treatment as was intended for a while, you can bet that one of the three main characters (or several) would have clashed with their dear or not so dear old dad, and that was really at the heart of their issues with the state

- the special effects are generally better (there are exceptions, like Sanctuary, which could have been made in Europe in that regard) than they are in contemporary European productions

- not true for pay tv: the episodes are structured in a way that has the emotional beats match with advertisement breaks (this was v.v. odd to notice back in the 80s when we didn't have ad breaks on German tv, and then later when we did get them, we still didn't have that many compared with US tv, plus our broadcasters placed them at different points, so you had the scenes with dramatic close ups and swelling music sometimes followed by a repeat close up because the ad break didn't happen)

- sympathetic characters are fighting "for freedom" no matter which era their narrative is placed in, and even if they're busy invading someone else's country/planet

- there is an evil German or Brit around somewhere, and if there can't be due to the setting of the story, and it's a movie/tv series, said person is at least played by a British or German language actor

- characters get congratulated for their command of German/French/Spanish/Japanese/Whatever foreign language by "native" characters after the US actors mangled the language in question

- non US geography is somewhat questionable (golden example: Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves with Robin landing on the beaches after returning from a crusade and being in Sherwood Forest a short walk later; though I'm also fond of Hamburg, sea harbor city right next to the Atlantic, in An American Tail).

There are more, but these are the ones which come most immediately to my mind. :)

The other days
selenak: (Katrine und Henne by Goodbyebird)
Not so coincidentally, I just finished reading, for the first time though of course I'd watched the movie by Alan Pakula a dozen times, All the President's Men, the book by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein about the Watergate case and their reporting of it. It still holds up incredibly well. Despite knowing a lot about the Watergate affair in advance, and the awareness Bob Woodward will end up as the prototype of the embedded reporter in love with power a few years down the line, the narrative is gripping, suspenseful, and despite featuring a huge cast (even huger than the movie, which prudently jettisoned a few players as movies must to get it down to a two hour tale), you never lose sight of all the interconnections or the developments. The various politicians, hangers-on, Washington Post staff people are given pen portraits, and what surprised me was that Bernstein apparantly was willing to either write himself or have included - all is written in third person, so you can't tell who wrote what - scenes which poke fun at him (Woodward not so much), like this one about a conference with the recently deceased Ben Bradlee ending:

Bernstein was dissappointed to see the meeting end. The editor had pushed his left sleeve up, and Bernstein had seen a tattoo of a rooster. Bernstein momentarily forgot about Watergate. Bradlee, whom he regarded with an unhealthy imbalance of respect, fear, anger and self pity (Bradlee didn't understand him, he had decided long before) was always amazing him. He wished he'd gotten a better look at the tattoo.

Because Woodward and Bernstein for a while ended up is the iconic reporters, it's easy to overlook how young they were when this all went down, and stuff like this humanizes them. (Another Bernstein-making-fun-of-himself scene is when his bike got stolen and he reflects how typical this is: when Woodward goes into a garage, it's to meet Deep Throat, when he goes, it's to find the remains of a lock and a stolen bike.)

Such neat touches aside: what makes the book is of course the story it tells, and the relentless way it traces and uncovers the corruption of the political process all the way back to the White House. (And Woodward & Bernstein, unlike today's readers, weren't even familiar with the paranoid Nixon rants immortalized on tape when writing this, as the book ends before Nixon leaves office.) Though it's not a little depressing that a lot of the campaign tactics they uncover today are taken for granted. To use a list from mid book: bugging, following people, false press leaks, fake letters, cancelling campaign rallies, investigating campaign workers private lives, planting spies, stealing documents, planting provocateurs in political demonstrations.

Planting spies and bugging, we were told by White House officials (and a lot of other people of all parties and persuasions) more recently, is absolutely okay because everyone does it. It's not something even Richard Nixon came up with as an excuse. (His most famous quote in the Frost interview being "if the President does it, it's not illegal", which is a similar idea, more personalized.) Which brings me to, you guessed it, Laura Poitras' movie Citizenfour about Edward Snowden and surrounding circumstances. But before I talk about the movie itself, some thoughts which have been plagueing me for a while. It is this: why didn't become Snowden, Greenwald and Poitras the new Woodward and Bernstein in the eyes of the American public? Especially the not conservative part of it? They certainly did in my part of the world (Germany), but within the States, at least compared to over here, the reactions were pretty much blasé. The right wing attacks on Obama focus on other stuff, and the democratic/progressive criticism of Obama and his government that I've seen mostly seems to be divided between a) "Why can't you be more like... *insert past democratic president of choice with ability to schmooze and intimidate other politicians on a nose-to-nose level*", b) "Why so sloppiliy organized?" , and c) "Where's the promised change, this "the Republicans are blocking everything" excuse isn't doing it for me anymore". Whereas voices like Daniel "Pentagon Papers" Ellsberg's are rare, who firmly rejected John Kerry (and Obama) saying Snowden should have done as Ellsberg did and faced a trial in the US by stating he wouldn't do that in the current day US, either (and good lord, when you're told your government is less trustworthy in terms of human rights abuse than Richard Nixon's...), and witheringly added: (Snowden) would have no chance whatsoever to come home and make his case – in public or in court. Snowden would come back home to a jail cell – and not just an ordinary cell-block but isolation in solitary confinement, not just for months like Chelsea Manning but for the rest of his sentence, and probably the rest of his life. His legal adviser, Ben Wizner, told me that he estimates Snowden's chance of being allowed out on bail as zero. (I was out on bond, speaking against the Vietnam war, the whole 23 months I was under indictment). More importantly, the current state of whistleblowing prosecutions under the Espionage Act makes a truly fair trial wholly unavailable to an American who has exposed classified wrongdoing. (...) Without reform to the Espionage Act that lets a court hear a public interest defense – or a challenge to the appropriateness of government secrecy in each particular case – Snowden and future Snowdens can and will only be able to "make their case" from outside the United States. (...) John Kerry's challenge to Snowden to return and face trial is either disingenuous or simply ignorant that current prosecutions under the Espionage Act allow no distinction whatever between a patriotic whistleblower and a spy. Either way, nothing excuses Kerry's slanderous and despicable characterizations of a young man who, in my opinion, has done more than anyone in or out of government in this century to demonstrate his patriotism, moral courage and loyalty to the oath of office the three of us swore: to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Ouch. But like I said, Mr. Ellsberg as far as American voices are concerned seems to be in a distinct minority. And I don't think the reason is just the public as a whole having become fare more jaded. Becaube, Democrats, Liberals and Progressives on my list, ask yourself, and I'm truly curious: if Snowden had blown the whistle under a Republican president - doesn't matter who, McCain or Romney if they had won their respective elections, or Bush back when - would your reaction have been different? (And it could have easily happened. I don't think any Republican - or any alternate Democrat President, for that matter, i.e. Hillary Clinton if she'd won against Obama in the primaries - would have given the NSA & Co. less leaveway to spy on everyone than the Obama administration did.) Would you have been not only more outraged, but also seen the sheer extent of the licence to spy as something that does reflect the President's personal responsibility the way Watergate did reflect Nixon's? Because I really think the reason why Obama gets more leaveway here than any Republican President would have gotten is because Obama-as-bad-guy really, really, really doesn't fit into the narrative moderate-to-progressive Americans want to hear. Partly because it automatically associates right wing nutters (though these attack him for other reasons) and the sense of not wanting to give them more ammunition, I suppose. But partly because they seem so far apart: Tricky Dicky, Nixon paranoidly taping himself ranting about the Jews/Gays/Press/, and the first black President. He's supposed to be, at worst, the hero who couldn't due to the mess his predecessor left and the Republicans blocking his every move, not the licenser of tactics which any of the titular President's Men from Nixon's time would have wept for joy to be able to use legally.

Now, on to Poitras' movie. Which definitely treats Obama as one of its villains. He's not the prime target, which is the post 9/11 mass surveillance and the total lack of any checks on it in general, and it's made clear early on by veteran whistleblower William Binney, who quit the NSA in 2001, that the Bush administration started this, but among other things, Citizenfour is an indictement of Barack Obama. Glenn Greenwald early on in the film quotes from Obama's campaign speeches (for his first run), all quotes condemming what he now practices. Then Edward Snowden in his first physical meeting with Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald names as one of his key motivations the fact that the Obama administration contrary to its promises didn't reduce or curtail the surveillance but escalated it. And while Poitras throughout the film uses clips of various government officials (Keith Alexander, former NSA head, and various guys from the justice department) denying with bland smugness what the film then shows going on, the climax this builds up is a cut from the Guardian staff being forced to destroy hardware to Glenn Greenwald's partner David being held back at Heathrow after a meeting with her in Berlin to a newsclip of Obama (even smugger than the previous officials) saying Snowden was no patriot and should return to the US where lawful trial would happen. (At this point there was scornful laughter in the cinema.) And the very end of the movie, when Greenwald tells Snowden about a new source and its revelations, he draws the chain of responsibility on paper culminating in the letters POTUS, where camera lingers as a next to last final image.

Poitras' biggest problem as film maker must have been that this documentary by necessity takes place largely in hotel rooms where two or three people talk (or type), which potentially could have come across very static and boring. But she managed to avoid this trap, not least because Snowden and Greenwald (who do much of the talking, with fellow Guardian journalist Ewen MacArgill occasionally there as well) both come across as articulate and compelling. And as with All the President's Men, even though you know the rough outline of how this goes in advance - Snowden makes contact, eventually they meet in that Hongkong hotel room, data is transferred, explanation are given, Geenwald starts to release the stories, on the fourth day Snowden's identity is released as well, etc. - the way it plays out on screen remains captivating. Also like All the President's Men, the book, there's unexpected humor: when Poitras tells Snowden (via written communication online, since he's in Russia at that point) that the Merkel story is a go, but the German government hasn't publically reacted yet, Snowden types back whether she has tried to call Angela M. directly since she now has the number. :) There's even a mini subplot, as you'd say if this were a fictional story, about Snowden's girlfriend whom he worries about in Hongkong and whom we in the last five minutes of the film see has joined him in Russia in July this year.

It's, of course, an unabashedly partisan documentary, cum ira et studio, and never pretends to be anything else: the opening credits establish Poitras has been under surveillance since her first post 9/11 movie on the Iraq War, and while you get to know Snowden and Greenwald in the intimacy and extensive length of those hotel room conversations, administration members are only shown in (smug) newsclips. But the main argument, which Poitras lets Binney, Greenwald and Snowden make repeatedly, and also Joseph Applebaum, that surveillance is control, there are no restraints and no watchers on these watchmen anymore, that only a tiny part of the collected material actually can in any way be connected to counterterrorism and the rest is about competition between firms, industrial espionage and utter disregard of any privacy whatsover, and that the self censorship of people is already an every day fact because of this - all this can hardly be told dispassionatedly. Ditto for the point Snowden's pro bono lawyers later make about the Espionage act, which dates from WWI and doesn't differentiate between a whistleblower and a spy (Ellsberg has quite a lot to say about it in his article as welll) and gives the person indicted by it no chance of defense.

Stylistically noteworthy: as opposed to Michael Moore, who made his persona a part of all his films, Poitras remains invisible, though her voice is present throughout the film. And the clips she uses to establish the various locations (Hongkong, Berlin, Rio de Janairo) never show the obvious tourist sights; the most striking images not involving a person aren't of the cities, though, but of the NSA complexes being built in the US and the ones already existing in Britain and Germany, those ominous white balloons in front of landscapes.

Is the end result then a great movie? I don't know. But it's an important one, I think. And I hope it will be watched by as many people as possible.
selenak: (VanGogh - Lefaym)
On a somewhat more cheerful note, I managed to get my Rarewoman ficathon story done, which meant a return to an old fandom I haven't been writing in for eons, and that proved to be joyful and relaxing. Thus fortified, I started Robert Cara's multivolume The Years of Lyndon Johnson biographies reccomended to me several times over, and so far, Robert Caro strkes me as the best type of biographer: one who sets his subject in the context of the era said subject is living in, and one who while unafraid to show his subject's (massive) dark side also describes, in great detail, amazing achievements. So you get, for example, young LBJ the college election stealing sinister breaker of people, blackmailer and sadist described in detail by former fellow students, while simultanously getting young LBJ the inspiring teacher who (because he had to finance being at college to begin with, took teaching jobs in between terms) teaches Mexican-American kids to speak English and is still remembered with fondness and awe.

I'm also going to watch Cap II again in a few hours, because I was that much entranced by the movie. It feels odd, though, when going through other people's reviews and realise, not for the first time, that 99% of them contain a good deal of capslocking and "feels" (still dislike that word; am a proponent of "feelings" all the way) about Person In The Title, which wasn't what made the movie for me at all. I mean, I'm sorry for SPOILER, given what happened to him, but it's the vague kind of general sympathy that comes with the awful situation of someone whom, as a person in general, you don't have feelings about one way or the other. I seem to be that way with all the Sebastian Stan characters, be they Jefferson in Once Upon A Time, Jack in Kings, or TJ Hammond in Political Animals. As most of the fannish output in the various fandoms tends to be centered around Stan's characters, this puts me always in something of a looking for needles in haystacks position when trying to find fanfic that's not about any of them. One day he and Tom Hiddleston will be in the same film/show, and then there will be nothing for me at all in terms of fic dealing with everyone else whom I'll invariably be more interested in.
selenak: (Rocking the vote by Noodlebidsnest)
So, during the last week we had, in my part of the world, repeated headlines about the senate report on the CIA and its torture practices during the Bush years, mostly focused around the "revelation" that said torture didn't get any results and that what results were achieved by the CIA, they got first, then tortured anyway, then filed reports to make it look better for themselves by reversing the order of events. Then again, there also was apparantly pressure from above to use "enhanced interrogation techniques" against at least some field agent's reccommendations. Various comments to these articles included the suggestion that this was the CIA taking the fall for the government because of course they carried out wishes. The use of torture itself was, of course, old news. It's noticeable that after more than a decade, nobody bothers with the "a few rotten apples" disclaimer anymore which came with both the few army (Abu Ghraib) and the CIA incidents that were reported back in the day.

Meanwhile, also in the news: George W. Bush opens an exhibition of his paintings. The paintings, various reviews inform us, are nicely avarage, neither bad nor particularly good, and Dubya himself just such an affable guy.

This is why political satire has become redundant.

I mean, there never was a chance that Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney would end up in The Hague on trial, but maybe some hope that the distaste of the public for them would last a little longer than that. And, as much as it's a "go after the tool, not the wielder" unfairness, maybe some chance that some of the actual torturers would face charges, but, so the articles on the Senate report reminded us, the Obama government had refused to charge a single CIA agent in this regard. (Undoubtedly aware that doing so would establish precedence and allow some future person to charge agents for what they did during the Obama years as well, which, while not waterboarding, still would include illegal activities.)

I wonder: did a single reporter interviewing Bush about his painting activities even try to ask him how he feels about the going two wars he started, and the fact that under his government, torture became an accepted interrogation method?

(Where is a shoe-throwing Iraqui if one needs one?)
selenak: (Katrine und Henne by Goodbyebird)
...and I do loathe Putin, but still, when the media offered this quote from John Kerry, Secretary of State of the US, I had a gigantic coughing fit. Along with, I suppose, much of the rest of the globe and maybe even some Americans. Because really:

"It is not appropriate to invade a country and at the end of a barrel of a gun dictate what you are trying to achieve."

selenak: (Breaking Bad by Wicked Signs)
This morning there was an interview with Bryan Cranston in the NY Times, about playing Lyndon B. Johnson in All The Way. It's a good interview, and I knew this was his upcoming project, but somehow I'd missed out on the fact this was a theatre play, not a movie or tv miniseries. Which is great for theatre goes in New York but sad for transatlantic me, who thus won't get to watch Cranston in said role. And I'd love to: Cranston bringing out all the ambiguities, the flaws and virtues of Johnson surely will be awesome to behold.

The other reason why I'd have been looking forward to watching the film or tv product this isn't: it wouldn't, couldn't fall into the two categories American dramas seem to when featuring a President in a prominent role: if Nixon, then a tragic villain, if Lincoln, then a noble saint. Johnson's reputation has had its ups and downs, but seems to have settled for "Great Society Awesome, Vietnam Bad" as far as his presidency is concerned, and "Most efficient Senator and Democratic Leader in the Senate Ever/Totally Not Above Stealing If He Needed To" for the decades before that. I remember Ted Kennedy in his memoirs calling him the best American President post-Roosevelt, but even his enemies seem to agree that Johnson, for good or ill, got things done. The Cranston article summarizes: But in 2014, the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act and the War on Poverty, with anniversaries of two other Great Society triumphs, the Voting Rights Act and Medicare, a year away, Johnson endures as something far more interesting and even inspiring: the last and perhaps greatest of all legislative presidents, with his wizardly grip on the levers of governance at a time when it was still possible for deals to be brokered and favors swapped and for combatants to clash in an atmosphere of respect, if not smiling concord. And before that: The story of a ruthless president who got things done — without blinking at the costs and compromises — reminds us that partisan gridlock doesn’t have to be a permanent condition.

There is a pointed if unspoken comparison here to the current President. In all the non-Republican criticisms of Obama (and non-foreign: in my part of the world, he and the entire US government are currently under fire for something else altogether), the constant red thread seems to be that he's too aloof and hands-off to mingle with anyone in Washington outside his inner circle; that something like "the Johnson Treatment" (which, Wikipedia tells me, was the nickname for Johnson's tried and true method of cajoling, intimidating, flattering and terrorizing - whatever worked - Congressmen and Senators alike) would be unthinkable. (Ditto for Clinton-style arm-pressing and socializing.) To which the defense in the recent New Yorker profile of Obama was that in the current climate, with the Republicans so dead set to object to anything from the government, it wouldn't be of use anyway. Which is probably true, but it strikes me that one reason why types like Johnson wouldn't even make it to the presidency these days (except the way LBJ did, i.e. as Vice President taking over from a suddenly dying incumbent) is that both Republican and Democrat candidates harp on presenting themselves as outsiders to the Washington scene. No matter how accurate or not, every candidate spins it like he/she is the noble saviour from outside, untainted by poisonous inside politics and corruption, and voters reward that. That the result isn't change but even more obstruction and inertia isn't really surprising, if you think about it.

Now, the recent Lincoln did show some political manoeuvring and cajoling and showed Lincoln as savvy in addition to being noble, but it still couldn't resist te occasional half profile shot where you expect him to have a halo because of the way he's lighted, and also, being the President who ended slavery and was assassinated means you don't have to convince the majority of the audience he was a good guy. Johnson, otoh, has the Vietnam albatros around his neck, and that's before you get into conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination or more reliable tales about his intimidation tactics which make him sound like the Gene Hunt of Presidents. (Phlipp Glennister for Johnson if the play is a success and comes to London?) And then, it's impossible to end his story on a triumphant note for anyone: he leaves office, Vietnman gets even worse, America gets Nixon, and the days of major liberal laws being passed and being put into practice, are over for the next few decades. In conclusion and back to the beginning, I'm really curious about this play, and endlessly frustrated I won't get to see it.
selenak: (Catherine Weaver by Miss Mandy)
I'm on the road currently, which means falling behind in my tv watching. However, you can read everywhere, so have some post American election analysis of the Republican party:

The GOP in fantasy land

Choice quote: "As GOP politicians and pundits pile on Romney in defeat, they often argue that he was done in by not being severely conservative enough; if only he’d let Ryan be Ryan, voters would have been won over by right-wing orthodoxy offering a clear-cut alternative to Obama’s alleged socialism. In truth, Romney was a perfect embodiment of the current GOP. As much as the Republican Party is a radical party, and a nearly all-white party, it has also become the Fantasyland Party. It’s an isolated and gated community impervious to any intrusions of reality from the “real America” it solipsistically claims to represent."

The GOP and me: story of a passionate Republican falling out of love.

Post election notes for the GOP: by John Scalzi, who has a way with words, as this quote shows:

"1. Recognize your brand is damaged. You can’t seriously be considered to be the party of fiscal probity at this point; your record for the last thirty years makes this laughable. Bush shot your international relations standing in the foot. All you have left is social issues, and — surprise! — on social issues, most people who are not you think you’re intolerant at best and racist, sexist, homophobic and bigoted at worst.
Seriously, guys: What does the GOP actually want to be the party of? At this point, and for the last few years, it’s been “The Party of Not Obama.” This is not a good way to run a railroad."

The Republicans post election day: sums it up thusly:

"Some Republicans have been warning one another for years about the stupidity of alienating a fast-growing and influential group of Americans. It’s not working. The Hispanic vote went overwhelmingly to Democrats in House and Senate races as well, by roughly the same 75-to-25 split. “We have to fix our Hispanic problem as quickly as possible,” said John Weaver, a Republican strategist.

He’s right. But the Republicans don’t have a Hispanic problem. They have an America problem, a country that is growing more diverse and, on a wide range of issues, shows a sensible moderation and social tolerance far out of step with radio ranting and Tea Party rigidity. It wasn’t just Hispanics who heartily rejected Republicans on Tuesday. It also was African-Americans, Asian-Americans, young people and, to perhaps the greatest effect, women."
selenak: (Dork)
I got up half an hour ago so could spend the same biting nails until a few minutes ago, when, OH THE RELIEF.

Not that Obama is perfect, but the current Republican Party is such a disaster in every area I care about, and the memories of the Bush years are so vividly horrible, that this non-American feels like dancing with her morning tea in hand right now. Speaking of Dubya, this is just too beautiful not to be true, linked via [personal profile] meret: Bush accidentally voted for Obama. Those nasty voting machines confused him. I'm sure a lot of Floridan voters empathize, George W.
selenak: (LondoDelenn - Sabine)
First, via [personal profile] nenya_kanadka, a sad and beautiful post by Mira Furlan apropos Michael O'Hare's death about all the Babylon 5 cast members who have died by now. (In the middle of being moved, I had an eerie moment of recognition, because I know the German children's rhyme Mira F. remembers.) Really, universe, lay off the rest of our cast for a while, will you?

Secondly, since US politics affect the rest of the world so much, of course we're following the election campaigns over here with baited breath as well. And lo, there was much relief about Obama's performance in the second debate. I don't think even our conservatives want Romney. This would be because a German moderate conservative in most cases qualifies as a leaning-to-the middle liberal in the US, and vice versa. Also Romney's trip abroad in the summer was one giant facepalm after the other and brought back memories of the unmissed Dubya. However, we don't get to vote, so of course journalists fill their columns with speculations about the general American state of mind and what exactly Americans want from their Presidents.

I'm tempted to pull a Joss Whedon and declare there is a difference between what they want and what they need. Or even between what they think they want and what they actually want, and I mean that bi-partisanly. For example, I think if you'd ask members of either party about traits their ideal president should possess, I think here's what both Republicans and Democrats would agree on: he (for it's still a he in most people's imaginations) should be an uncorrupted outsider to Washington politics, solidly married to his first and only wife and so faithful to her that he sees even the occasional lustful thought about other women as a fault, naming faults in a crisis instead of indulging in euphemisms and lies, oh, and a good Christian because that's still a specifically American must. Now it occurs to me that within living memory, there actually was such a paragorn. This would be Jimmy Carter, aka the one Republicans still use to beat up Democrats with and Democrats for the most part are still busy distancing themselves from. (And not just them. I remember reading our chancellor of the 70s, Helmut Schmidt's, memoirs, in which he declares he had far more respect for Nixon than Carter; Schmidt is a Social Democrat.)

Again, looking at Presidents from both parties and broadly speaking, it seems to me the most popular were the ones who made people feel good about themselves. Unless their decisions were so catastrophic that even the hail-fellow-well-met-aren't-we-great! factor doesn't cover it anymore, hence Reagan still being a party saint whereas Bush the Younger seems to be the Republican Carter, aka the one his own party tries to pretend doesn't exist. And the eternal phoenix act of Bill Clinton. Mind you, there are other factors at work in all those cases, I know, but still, imo this is one. I mean, even Maureen Dowd, who used to disdain both Clintons (hence her being the likely original for the journalist in Political Animals and greeted No Drama Obama with "an adult, at last!", admitted to missing Clinton's unabashed "loves to be needed, needs to be loved" style even before the Democratic convention when she wrote in this article, comparing Clinton with Obama:

When the diffident debutante ended up in the deserted AmericInn’s lobby in Iowa Falls on an icy Saturday night with reporters and a few six-packs, he did not seize the opportunity to seduce, as Bill would have. Clinton probably would have chatted with one reporter about Gabriel García Márquez, another about economic philosophy and a third about prowling the Arkansas backwoods to find antique cameos for Hillary.

Barry, for his part, looked around with dazed distaste and scurried up to his room.

Post-convention, and several weeks later, the articles marvelling about how the 2008 situation, when Obama to the (non-Republican) media was the refreshing new hope and both Clintons the tired old has beens who should just go already, reversed itself so completely that "why can't you be more like Bill?" appears to be an ongoing subtext, have been coming a plenty. Some choice quotes from the latest one:

(In 2008) Seated on a stool next to Clinton, Obama wore an impassive expression, as if he were being endorsed by a Kissimmee town councilman—or a former president whose vaunted rhetorical gifts were inferior to his own. “He thought it was fine,” recalls a senior Obama adviser. “We were all watching on TV, and we thought it was fine, too. But by then, nobody cared that much. We were all just so far past the Clintons.”

Four years later, two words leap to mind:
As if. Today, Hillary Clinton is the most popular member of Obama’s Cabinet, and her husband is not only his greatest but most tireless political ally. This past September 11, the Y-chromosome Clinton was in Miami, ripping Mitt Romney a new one over Medicare. Since then, Clinton has campaigned for Obama in New Hampshire and Nevada, raised money for him in Boston and with him in Los Angeles—and there is more to come. A TV ad with Clinton making the case for Obama’s reelection has run 16,000 times in swing states across the country. Another, featuring a clip of Clinton’s address at the Democratic convention, almost gives the impression that he is Obama’s running mate. Then there is that speech itself, which another top Obama adviser tells me flatly is “the most important moment of the campaign so far.”


Last time around, recall, Obama’s candidacy was based in part on the consignment of Clintonism to the dustbin of history. But now, with Obama running unabashedly as the inheritor of that creed, Clinton is reveling in seeing his legacy restored to what he regards as its rightful status: a restoration that will mightily benefit his wife if she hurls herself at the White House again in 2016. Speculation on that topic is rife within the Clinton diaspora; no one has a clue as to whether or not Hillary will run. But, equally, no one doubts that her husband dearly wants her to—mainly because, among members of the tribe, he can’t shut up about it.

Clintonism isn’t the only thing being rejuvenated here, however. What’s taking place is the revivification—and the ­Godzilla-scale enlargement—of Clinton himself. In 2008, a not insignificant number of white liberals and African-Americans assailed him as, if not a racist, a race-baiter; he was battered and bruised, scalded and scarred, mired in self-pity. But in 2012, he has emerged as the Democrats’ own Dutch: revered by his party, respected so much by the GOP that it dare not cross him, sanctified by the great heaving middle.

Again, there are lots of factors for this reevaluation - Hillary's professionalism and loyalty to Obama as Secretary of State (defying all "she'll stab him in the back" predictions), nostalgia for the Niineties (budget surplus, and in the American perception no wars - Germany perceives it a bit differently, what with Bosnia being not that far away from our doorstep) - but it seems to me a lot of the complaints really go back to the feel good factor rather than actual difference of achievement. (As the above quoted article also states, there are a lot of parallels between the first two years of Clinton and Obama.) Obama's coolness was refreshing after eight years of Bush's all-emotion-no-brains and before that Clinton's emotions-and-brains-but-self-indulgence-again-and-again, but now until the second debate the constant refrain was "show more emotions! Show that you care!"

(Unless, of course, you're a woman. I still remembver all that business about Hillary crying, or not, in the Democratic primaries.) Politics and show business really are twins.
selenak: (Erik and Charles by Justcyanide)
Apparantly the Republican strategy to counter the effect of Bill Clinton's rock star performance in support of Obama is to try and divide the Obama and Clinton camp again by suddenly discovering they like Bill Clinton and think he's been an awesome president. This is hilarious in general if, like me, you don't suffer from complete amnesia over the 90s and the violent hatred the Republicans spewed in the direction of both Clintons back then, and hilarious in particular coming from Newt Gingrich. Mind you, I'm entirely willing to believe Gingrich has mixed feelings. After all, he actually was important in the Clinton era. (As opposed to now, where he's being out-viled by the Tea Party folk by a mile.) Also, because you can't make such stuff, up, he actually told his wife (not sure whether it was the one he dumped in the hospital or the one after that), who told Newsweek in 1996, that the reason why he always took Dick Armey along when going to negotiate with Clinton was that "I melt when I'm around him".

Sadly for Newt, the chapter in Clinton's memoirs on Gingrich shows not many signs of his foe crush being reciprocated, but it is an entertaining and clever take not just on Gingrich but those forces in the Republican party which dominate today.

Which is why you find the relevant passages below the cut )
selenak: (Erik and Charles by Justcyanide)
Not just for the Americans on my flist: Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen singing This Land Is Your Land. To this European, both Seeger and Springsteen always came across as examples of what American patriotism can be at its best - not bashing of other countries or ignoring flaws of their own, but a fierce love for their own and its virtues which very much also means seeing its darker sides.

selenak: (Illyria by Kathyh)
And thus we come to the last of my American photo extravaganzas: the Grand Canyon. I think what struck me most about this one was that you really felt the weight of millennia; the impossible age of everything around you, which is not a sensation many things in the US give me.

Well, that, and a lot of warning signs that tell you not to try to hike to the river and back in one day (we didn't). Also a lot of Japanese photographers. And memories of one of my favourite Highlander stories, written by [personal profile] katallison. But yes, millennia first and foremost. And a Ted Hughes poem about visiting the Grand Canyon with pregnant Sylvia near the end of their time in the US:

...A quarry from which the sculpture
of something
had been hacked, then left there
Too big to move.
America's big red mamma!
Now letting the sun, with changing colours,
Caress her, as she lay open.
We drifted our gaze through - like a feather
Lost in the afterglow of her sensations.

Paum! )
selenak: (Sternennacht - Lefaym)
We left the Red Cliff Lodge and drove through a great deal of the Navajo Nation, the largest of the reservations, in order to reach Lake Powell. En route, we met some weird guy wearing a Stetson who was hugging a redhead and a cute man with a big nose while a curly-headed woman was standing close.

...Well, no, but does this road look familiar to you, Doctor Who fans?


Thought so. Anyway, we'd been to Lake Powell before, but back in the day we hadn't known about nearby Antelope Canyon and the slots. The slots are absolute magic, miracles created out of the bit of sunbeam that falls between rocks in the tunnels beneath the mountains, and the results are breathtakingly beautiful. See for yourself!

Poetry in sandstone )
selenak: (Linda by Beatlemaniac90)
We had a great hotel, directly at the Colorado River and also as it turned out with its own small film museum, since everyone since everyone and their script girl stayed there since the silent movie days. I wasn't surprised that not only Westerns but sci fi movies were shot in the area, because there was an alien quality to the landscape, no question. Though I swear none of the rocks hunted me down and made me lose my shirt.

On to the Colorado, Canyons and Arches )


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