[2.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

One of Mrs. Salad's picks. She's from the scene of the crime itself, Fall River, Massachusetts. Although it happened well before she was born (good alibi, honey!) and in a swankier part of town than hers. The movie's R rating is due to "violence and grisly images, nudity, a scene of sexuality and some language."

In case you haven't guessed, it's a retelling of the Lizzie Borden story. Which you probably know: Lizzie's father and stepmom axed to death, Lizzie acquitted at trial, no charges brought against anyone else.

So there's room for a considerable amount of theorizing as to the culprit, motive, and methods. One hint from the cast list: starlet Kristen Stewart plays the maid, Bridget, so it's safe to assume she's a major part of the yarn. Which, in this version is pretty sordid, and not complimentary to anyone involved.

It's kind of boring at the beginning, setting up the characters and their mostly toxic interactions. Lizzie and Bridget give each other a lot of hot, lingering, open-mouthed stares. ("OK, we get it!")

The Phony Campaign

2019-09-15 Update

We start this week with Michael Ramirez' Avengers-themed toon about Bernie's proposed eugenic scheme to fight climate change.

[Sanders is ready to snap]

Yep. On to this week's standings! The Betfair bettors smiled once again on Elizabeth Warren, frowned upon Wheezy Joe, but most notably pretty much gave up on Kamala, sending her winning probability down below that of Andrew Yang.

As far as phoniness goes: although all candidates gained some hits over the week, President Bone Spurs continued to pull away from the pack.

Candidate WinProb Change
Donald Trump 44.6% +0.5% 7,200,000 +4,970,000
Bernie Sanders 7.0% -0.5% 946,000 +73,000
Joe Biden 11.7% -1.1% 922,000 +479,000
Pete Buttigieg 2.2% -0.3% 882,000 +164,000
Elizabeth Warren 18.4% +1.6% 394,000 +186,000
Kamala Harris 3.3% -1.7% 133,000 +19,000
Andrew Yang 3.5% -0.5% 52,400 +16,700

"WinProb" calculation described here. Google result counts are bogus.

  • The great Andrew Stiles wrote earlier in the week on the then-upcoming debate on ABC: Democratic Debate Preview: Why Your Candidate Is The Worst (Part 1) and (Part 2). Lots of red meat there, but let's look at what Andrew has to say about… oh, Bernie Sanders:

    People who have spent their entire careers attacking rich people really don't like to be reminded of the fact that they are, in fact, rich. Michael Moore, for example. Bernie Sanders is no different. Earlier this year, the derelict senator who owns three houses and has railed against the prevalence of superfluous deodorant brands, snapped at a New York Times interviewer: "I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too."

    Perhaps in response to Elizabeth Warren's shadow candidacy, Sanders has been ramping up his efforts to stand out from the Democratic field. After previously proposing to extend voting rights to convicted felons, including Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Sanders recently endorsed population control as a means to combat climate change. He also praised China as the country that has "made more progress in addressing extreme poverty than any country in the history of civilization." Grandpa needs a nap.

    How can this guy be losing?

  • The President, of course, rails against news he doesn't like. E.g., polls, specifically one from the WaPo and ABC:

    From Vox: Trump is trying to discredit recent polls because he’s losing in nearly all of them.

    Wednesday, the president accused pollsters of conspiring with Democrats against him, discounted the polls, and argued respondents had been wrongly swayed by the press. He had particular animus for an ABC News-Washington Post poll that also drew his ire earlier in the week over its findings on the president’s approval rating, referring to it as a “phony suppression poll, meant to build up their Democrat partners.”

    Trump does have a point: polls can be wrong. But there's no reason to assume they're wrong on purpose.

  • Jamil Smith watched the debate and concluded for Rolling Stone: Joe Biden Should Drop Out. Now Jamil is firmly on the left, and his characterizations are accordingly wacky. But he reproduces the answer Biden gave to the question “What responsibility do you think that Americans need to take to repair the legacy of slavery in our country?”…

    Well, they have to deal with the — look, there’s institutional segregation in this country. From the time I got involved, I started dealing with that. Redlining banks, making sure we are in a position where — look, you talk about education. I propose is we take the very poor schools, triple the amount of money we spend from $15 to $45 billion a year. Give every single teacher a raise to the $60,000 level.

    Number two, make sure that we bring in to help the teachers deal with the problems that come from home. The problems that come from home, we have one school psychologist for every 1,500 kids in America today. It’s crazy. The teachers are — I’m married to a teacher, my deceased wife is a teacher. They have every problem coming to them. Make sure that every single child does, in fact, have 3, 4 and 5-year-olds go to school. Not day care, school.

    Social workers help parents deal with how to raise their children. It’s not that they don’t want to help, they don’t know what to play the radio, make sure the television — excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the — make sure that kids hear words, a kid coming from a very poor school — a very poor background will hear 4 million words fewer spoken by the time we get there.

    MODERATOR: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

    Biden: No, I’m going to go like the rest of them do, twice over. Because here’s the deal. The deal is that we’ve got this a little backwards. By the way, in Venezuela, we should be allowing people to come here from Venezuela. I know Maduro. I’ve confronted Maduro. You talk about the need to do something in Latin America. I’m the guy that came up with $740 million, to see to it those three countries, in fact, changed their system to people don’t have to chance to leave. You’re acting like we just discovered this yesterday. Thank you very much.

    Yes. Make sure you have the record player on at night.

    Part of me hopes for a Trump/Biden debate where they compete on who can give the less coherent answers.

    Another part of me dreads that, for the good of the country.

  • But there's good news from Christian Schneider at the Bulwark: The Democrats are Blackmailing Themselves. That's about the ecology of "opposition research" firms who sell their dug-up dirt on Candidate X… to Candidate X himself!

    But these days, such firms are on the wane, thanks to candidates who are self-incriminating via Google. Example:

    The race’s denouement took place last Thursday morning, when South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg suggested that people who drink from straws or eat hamburgers are “part of the problem” in America, comparing the climate change crisis to World War II and the Great Depression. (Naturally, it took Twitter users a nanosecond to exhume photos of Buttigieg drinking from straws and flipping a full grill of meat, presumably leaving a trail of eco-death in his wake.)

    For comparison, the number of Americans who like cheeseburgers currently stands at 86 percent, slightly higher than the 4 percent of Democrats who prefer Pete Buttigieg.

    As we've seen, Bernie's come out against motherhood. Julian Castro (as well as former candidate Kirsten Gillebrand) came out against the flag, at least the Betsy Ross version. Next week in the crosshairs: apple pie whose inventor will be shown to have once read Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird.

  • Ann Althouse notes another bit of debate dreadfulness, this time with Joe on the right side: "Let's be constitutional! We've got a Constitution!" — said Joe Biden, responding to Kamala Harris, who said....

    "Well, I mean, I would just say, hey, Joe, instead of saying, no, we can't, let's say yes, we can."

    I.e.: "Yes we can subvert the Constitution! The one I took an oath to 'support and defend'. Never mind that!"

    Ann adds that "transcript cannot convey the feeling and expression" in Kamala's response. It was "awful", "lightweight", and "dismissive of constitutional law."

    And at Reason, Jacob Sullum noticed the same: Kamala Harris Does Not Understand Why the Constitution Should Get in the Way of Her Gun Control Agenda.

    Instead of explaining the legal basis for the "executive action" she has in mind, Harris made a weak joke: "Hey, Joe, instead of saying, 'No, we can't,' let's say, 'Yes, we can.'" Then she launched into a description of the casualties from mass shootings, adding, "The idea that we would wait for this Congress, which has just done nothing, to act, is just—it is overlooking the fact that every day in America, our babies are going to school to have drills, elementary, middle and high school students, where they are learning about how they have to hide in a closet or crouch in a corner if there is a mass shooter roaming the hallways of their school."

    That is not an argument in favor of any particular gun control policy, let alone an argument for the president's authority to impose it unilaterally. "Let's be constitutional," Biden said. "We've got a Constitution." To which Harris replied, in effect, "Constitution, schmonstitution. Why should that get in the way of my agenda?" Even voters who tend to agree with Harris about gun control should be troubled by her blithe dismissal of the legal limits on the powers she would exercise as president.

    Well, the voters seem to be turning against her. Unfortunately, I suspect, not for the right reasons.

  • But let us turn our phony attention to the (gulp!) Democrat front-runner. Peter Suderman, bless him, is being paid by Reason to keep track of her phoniness. For example: Elizabeth Warren Issues Misleading Claim That Three Industries Are Responsible for 70 Percent of Carbon Pollution.

    Take, for example, her claim at last week's CNN town hall on climate change that 70 percent of airborne carbon pollution comes from three industries. Warren made this argument in response to a question about whether the government should tell people which lightbulbs they have to use. 

    "This is exactly what the fossil fuel industry hopes we're all talking about," she said. "They want to be able to stir up a lot of controversy around your lightbulbs, straws, and cheeseburgers when 70% of the pollution of the carbon that we're throwing into the air comes from three industries." Because this is 2019, Warren also posted the claim on Instagram. 

    Via Politifact, the "three industries" are…

    • Transportation. (Which, Peter notes, is more of an "activity" than an "industry".)
    • Electricity production. (Ditto.) And…
    • Industry. Yes, one of the three industries that account for 70% of carbon is "industry."

    Politifact rated Warren's claim "half true". Showing, pretty much that they are totally in the bag for her.

  • But that's not all! At the (probably paywalled) WSJ, Phil Gramm and Mike Solon described Warren’s Assault on Retiree Wealth.

    As a retiree myself, I pricked up my ears at that.

    Her “Accountable Capitalism Act” would wipe out the single greatest legal protection retirees currently enjoy—the requirement that corporate executives and fund managers act as fiduciaries on investors’ behalf. To prevent union bosses, money managers or politicians from raiding pension funds, the 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act requires that a fiduciary shall manage a plan “solely in the interest of the participants and beneficiaries . . . for the exclusive purpose of providing benefits to participants and their beneficiaries.” The Securities and Exchange Commission imposes similar requirements on investment advisers, and state laws impose fiduciary responsibility on state-chartered corporations.

    Sen. Warren would blow up these fiduciary-duty protections by rewriting the charter for every corporation with gross receipts of more than $1 billion. Every corporation, proprietorship, partnership and limited-liability company of that size would be forced to enroll as a federal corporation under a new set of rules. Under this new Warren charter, companies currently dedicated to their shareholders’ interest would be reordered to serve the interests of numerous new “stakeholders,” including “the workforce,” “the community,” “customers,” “the local and global environment” and “community and societal factors.”

    Hm. My guess, which you should ignore: coming spike in gold prices.

  • And we've been pretty easy on Andrew Yang; Google (meaninglessly) considers him the least-phony credible candidate. But he comes in for a slap from Mark Krikorian at National Review: Do the 2020 Democratic Candidates Know Anything About Immigration Policy?.

    Yang was the most likeable of the bunch on stage last night but, like so many people, he thinks that because his dad came from the old country, he knows all he needs to know about immigration. Following Elizabeth Warren’s call to “expand legal immigration” (without offering any numbers, of course), Yang said, “I would return the level of legal immigration to the point it was under the Obama-Biden administration.”

    Unfortunately for Yang’s narrative, legal immigration is at the level it was under the Obama-Biden administration. The number of people granted lawful permanent residence (green cards), which is what we mean by “legal immigration,” averaged 1.06 million from Fiscal Year 2009 to 2016. The total for FY 2017 was 1.13 million, for 2018 was 1.1 million, and annualizing from the first quarter of FY 2019 yields a projected total of 1.03 million. Fluctuation within 100,000 is common (in 2013, the total was only 990,000), so the level is essentially unchanged. It could be that the green-card total will decline next year, because of the smaller number of refugees converting to green cards and, possibly, the new public charge rule leading to a reduction in the number of parents of adult U.S. citizens, but neither of these things has happened yet.

    I'm wishy-washy on immigration, mainly because (1) I'm generally in favor but (2) also favor enforcing the laws, even stupid ones.

Last Modified 2019-09-15 11:36 AM EDT