Richard Jewell

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

I liked this significantly more than I expected. I attribute this to a good directing job by Clint Eastwood.

I knew the story going in: Fat rent-a-cop Richard Jewell spots an unattended backpack one evening at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, alerts everyone, tries to move people away. The backpack exploded, but thanks to Jewell's efforts, many lives are saved. Unfortunately, Jewell becoems the FBI's designated suspect, a fact that's leaked to the press. Which subsequently makes Jewell's life hellish.

What's unexpected is that the movie makes Jewell (well-played by Paul Walter Hauser) into an actual person: he's a cop wannabe, but sports some bad-cop habits: bullying and authority-exceeding. And he's not that smart, either. (Sorry, Richard.) Despite all that, we're sympathetic. Because he's basically a good guy.

Jon Hamm plays FBI agent Shaw, and he's everything Jewell's not: smart, good-looking, by the book. But he's the bad guy here, because once he gets the idea that Jewell fits the "hero perp" profile, he can't let go, and he can't let inconvenient facts—like there being no evidence whatsoever—dissuade him.

Sam Rockwell is also excellent as Jewell's lawyer.

URLs du Jour

2020-04-10

  • At the WSJ this morn, Dr. Jessie Stuart (from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Beantown) offers some helpful advice: The Least Empathetic Thing to Say. Summary: when someone shares their self-concerns or fears, don't open with "At least you …"

    It can be hard as a doctor to keep my “empathy tank” full. I’ve had bad days when I diagnose a 25-year-old with a terminal illness, and later find I have trouble caring when a friend calls to complain about a snack-stealing roommate. I worry that the coronavirus era will strain our collective ability for empathy, but I also have hope that we will rise to the challenge.

    On tough days, I find it helpful to pause, take a deep breath, and let myself be present for the person in distress. Sometimes we have to silence the small voice in our head that says, “At least you weren’t diagnosed with a horrible disease today”—or “At least you still have a job.” Whether suffering is big or small, it’s all-consuming and it isn’t relative.

    "My grandma's been diagnosed with Covid-19."

    "Well, at least you have toilet paper."


  • At Reason, Christian Britschgi sighs a sigh and observes: Elizabeth Warren and Josh Hawley Will Do Everything Necessary To Combat Coronavirus (Unless It Involves Deregulation).

    The central planners of both parties are recommending we do whatever is necessary to tackle the nation's shortage of medical devices and personal protective equipment (PPE), save for removing government restrictions on the manufacture of those goods.

    Yesterday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) took to The New York Times and Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) to The Washington Post to promote their respective visions for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic recession it's causing. Both senators have big regulation-centric ideas for addressing the dire shortage of PPE and other medical products.

    "We must act now to have the government manufacture or contract for the manufacture of critical supplies when markets fail to do so," Warren wrote in the Times, listing PPE, pharmaceuticals, and vaccines as products the government should consider producing itself.

    "Lifesaving medical products needed to fight this virus are in short supply," Hawley wrote in the Post. "We must also move decisively to secure our critical supply chains and bring production back to this country. The present crisis has revealed just how vital domestic production is to our national life."

    Christian goes on to note that it's "frustrating that D.C.'s 'wonkiest' senators refuse to update their priors in response to a crisis". Also dangerous.


  • Virginia Postrel makes a related hopeful suggestion: Coronavirus Should Finally Smash the Barriers to Telemedicine.

    Under normal circumstances, internist Jenni Levy makes house calls, checking on patients with chronic conditions and serving as what she calls “rolling urgent care.” She works for Landmark Health, which offers supplemental home visits to people with Medicare Advantage plans and a high risk of hospitalization.

    When she joined Landmark, Levy heard that the company was working on a telemedicine app. Two and a half years later, she still hadn’t seen anything. It turns out developing proprietary software that complies with the privacy provisions of the U.S.’s Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, better known as HIPAA, is a time-consuming process. So far, the company has pilot programs running in only a couple of markets.

    Bureaucrats justify their well-paid existence by enforcing rules, saying "not so fast, there, bub", making people and businesses jump through their hoops. If it were easy to bring life-saving innovations to market quickly, folks might start to question why the bureaucrats were necessary in the first place.


  • We've had a pretty steady stream of LFOD items over the past few weeks, for obvious reasons. In the Conway Daily Sun, Louise Schuknecht tells us her view: Closing border worth loss of temporary freedom.

    We the people of New Hampshire are very concerned about the people coming in from other states. We cannot keep “ the curve down” at the rate they are escaping from their “hot spots” to our valley.

    We have always been a very welcoming town, but under the circumstances, we all feel the borders should be closed.

    A drastic measure? Yes. Our motto is Live Free or Die, but most of our freedoms have to be taken away for now so we won’t die. Everyone should obey the rules and pray God will have mercy on our country and the world.

    As of yesterday, the NH Department of Health and Human Services reported 23 Covid-19 cases in all of Carroll County (where Conway is); I don't think Louise has that much to worry about, assuming she doesn't let people breathe on her.


  • Villanova philosophy professor, Sarah-Vaughan Brakman, takes to Vox to explain: Staying at home isn’t a personal choice. It’s an ethical duty. Basically, it's a plea for "solidarity", "shared sacrifice", etc.

    In addition to social distancing, collaborative efforts to aid those who are in social isolation and the economically vulnerable are growing across the country. When we return from social distancing, it is up to us to make this inchoate commitment to our fellow human beings and the common good the new normal.

    Some skepticism is certainly in order. Individualism is encoded in Americans’ national DNA. But solidarity is just as central to American identity as individualism. “Live Free or Die” co-existed with “Join or Die.”

    Uh, well. Ben Franklin's "Join or Die" came a number of decades before LFOD. And it referred to the British colonies "joining" together in a united effort against the French.

    Let me be generous: There might be an ideal balance between competing values of "solidarity" and liberty. I'm pretty sure I don't know how to specify it, and I'm also pretty sure Prof Brakman doesn't provide any insight in finding it.

    What I'm seeing is various flavors of statists using Covid-19 as an excuse to attempt to push through measures they wanted anyway. And the usual partisan finger pointing at the Other Guys.

    That ain't solidarity, Sarah-Vaughan; that's crass and cynical opportunism.