URLs du Jour

2020-09-09

  • Our tweet du jour from ousted NYT staffer Bari Weiss, who comments concisely (four words!) on Oscar's new qualification criteria for Best Picture:

    I believe there's some discussion on her feed about which past pictures would be disqualified under the new standards. Casablanca, probably? Gone With the Wind, definitely not!


  • Kevin D. Williamson enjoys the irony of class warriors going to bat for a real protected class: Nancy Pelosi & Chuck Schumer Demand Tax Cuts for their Rich Friends.

    In a very amusing New York Times column by two Brookings nerds, Richard V. Reeves and Christopher Pulliam, the question is raised:

    The election is a referendum not only on the moral failings of President Trump, Democrats argue, but on the economic fissures of the new economy. It is a fight, Mr. Biden says, on behalf of “the young people who have known only an America of rising inequity and shrinking opportunity.”

    Why on earth, then, are Democrats fighting — and fighting hard — for a $137 billion tax cut for the richest Americans? Mr. Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer don’t agree on everything, but on this specific issue they speak with one voice: the $10,000 cap on deductions for state and local tax (better known as the SALT deduction) must go.

    Limiting the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT) amounted to a big tax increase on rich progressives in high-tax jurisdictions such as New York City and San Francisco, the political homes of Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi, respectively. For years, this provided the limousine-liberal set with a much-needed economic palliative against the pain of living under the rapacious and incompetent governments of New York, California, New Jersey, Connecticut, etc. It was a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too arrangement: The grubby little miscreants in Sacramento and Albany were happy with the jack, and the high-income constituents they milk like a particularly docile if snappily dressed herd of dairy cattle hardly felt any pain thanks to the federal tax analgesic.

    I assume the $10K deduction limit hits some New Hampshire folks too, but I haven't heard a lot of complaints about it.


  • Ronald Bailey has some good news at Reason: Steven Pinker Survives Attempted Cancellation. A group of linguists "published an open letter calling for the Linguistics Society of America (LSA) to revoke the organization's distinguished fellow status from linguist and cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker." From Bailey's interview with Pinker:

    Q: This LSA letter is an astonishing document. 

    A: I think it's part of a larger mindset that does not see the world as having complex problems that we fail to understand and ought to try to understand better to diagnose and treat, but rather as a kind of warfare between powerful elites and oppressed masses. In the classic Marxist analysis, these would be economic classes, but they've been transformed to racial and sexual classes.

    In this mindset, analysis, debate, evidence are just tools—propaganda exercised by those in power. What has to happen is not a deeper understanding of social problems, but a wresting of power from elites and redistributing it to the disenfranchised.

    Q: You've said the letter wasn't specifically about you, but it was quite targeted. 

    A: It was quite targeted, but it's part of a larger movement seeking monsters to destroy. That is, to look for prominent people and do "offense archeology," which is to troll through tweets and statements seeking to find evidence, however tortured, that there's some kind of prejudice behind them.

    Pinker's books are always must-reads for me.


  • And finally, Cafe Hayek's proprietor shares a letter he wrote to Reason about the "will-to-power" conservatives we blogged about previously. I just want to snip out his quote of H. L. Mencken.

    But the right to freedom obviously involves the right to be foolish. If what I say must be passed on for its sagacity by censors, however wise and prudent, then I have no free speech. And if what I may believe – about gall-stones, the Constitution, castor-oil, or God – is conditioned by law, then I am not a free man.

    I plan on exercising my right to be foolish as heavily in the future as I have in the past.


Last Modified 2020-09-10 3:50 AM EDT

No Man of Her Own

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Continuing the Pun Salad Noir Festival 2020…

The movie opens with Barbara Stanwyck and John Lund looking guiltily at each other in the living room of a very large house. Barbara's voiceover mentions murder most foul. And then there's a call… the cops are on the way to … what, exactly? Well, a flashback comprising most of the rest of the movie explains it: back in the day, Barbara's in the family way, and she's tracked down the dad to where he's shacked up with a floozie. Her pounding on the door only results in a train ticket to San Francisco being shoved under the door. Get lost, Barbara, you and the kid.

It's the 1950s so nobody says "pregnant".

I'd explain the plot further, but it's ludicrous. Suffice to say that Barbara goes from desperate and miserable, to frantic, to happy, to apprehensive, to desperate again…

And let me just say it's a damn travesty that she never won an Oscar. Because no matter how implausible the plot is, she's totally believable all the way through.

And at a certain point, she goes from "hopeless anguish" to "ice-cold bitch with a plan". In about 0.4 seconds. Personally, I was chilled. I can't think of any current actress who could manage that so convincingly. Okay, maybe Sandra Bullock.

Scandal Sheet

[3.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

OK, The Big Clock is lots better. But if you've seen The Big Clock, and you're in the mood for something similar, this is an OK choice. We spent a Netflix DVD pick on it.

For a long time—a real long time—I only thought of Broderick Crawford as Dan Matthews in Highway Patrol. But a few years back I saw Born Yesterday, which I didn't care for too much, but Mr. Crawford was good. And I've never seen him in the movie for which he won the Oscar, All the King's Men.

But anyway, he's pretty good in this B-movie. He plays Matt Chapman, the editor of a tabloid New York paper, catering to the basest reading appetites of Gothamites. This shocks the more refined tastes of the board of directors, but they can't really argue with results: he's resurrected the paper from doom. He relies on his crack team of reporters (John Derek, and a cigar-chomping Harry Morgan) to get the garish details on the latest crimes. Derek is sweet on feature writer Donna Reed, and she's also attracted, but put off by his complicity with the sleazy trajectory of the paper.

Among the paper's non-journalistic efforts is the "Lonely Hearts Club". A dance for the Hearts is held, which leads to someone out of Chapman's past recognizing him. Threats are made, someone winds up dead, a coverup is attempted, diligent reporters investigate, another someone winds up dead,… Well, it's complicated and a certain amount of fun seeing the environs of NYC in the 1950s.

Samuel Fuller wrote the novel on which this is based, so that's why it's part of the "Samuel Fuller Collection" pictured above. The DVD restoration is impeccable.