A Stranger in Town

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

This 1943 movie is a free-to-me Amazon Prime streamer. Decent IMDB rating. I didn't care for it much.

Frank Morgan, the Wizard of Oz himself, plays SCOTUS justice John Josephus Grant. Who, as the court's session winds up, wants nothing more than to take off to the wilderness and shotgun some ducks. But before he can murder a single bird, he's waylaid by the local sheriff, who shakes him down for a town hunting license. It's clearly implied that this fee will not go to schools or road repair, but instead straight to the pockets of the town's ruling class. But when the cop asks for additional cash for his trouble, Grant draws the line and finds himself in jail.

He embarks on a project to rid the town of its corrupt political establishment, without revealing his Washington job. This involves his straitlaced secretary, who (despite her better judgment) gets involved with the inept-but-honest lawyer who's running for mayor against the crooks.

The acting is … not good.

For some reason, Amazon appends "Classic Hollywood Crime Movie" to the title. You'd expect at least some gunplay, maybe a murder or two. Unfortunately, it's just the ducks that get killed.

URLs du Jour

2020-10-19

[Amazon Link]

  • At the Daily Wire, Andrew Klavan writes on The Leftist War On Free Speech. And he does it poorly:

    This week’s flagrant election interference by Twitter and, to a lesser extent, Facebook presents an even greater threat to free speech than it appears on the surface. The cyber-thugs who tried to kill a respected newspaper’s report on Joe Biden’s alleged influence peddling are only the sharp end of the spear of a far-sighted philosophical attack on the First Amendment. They’re not just trying to win an election. They’re trying to shut conservatives up for good.

    Before I get to that though, let’s first put aside this bogus argument that since Twitter and Facebook are private companies, they can do as they please. Our right to speak our minds is given to us by God. The First Amendment protects that God-given right from the feds, but private businesses are no more permitted to interfere with it than the feds are. Mark Zuckerberg may be richer than God. He may think he’s God. But he’s not. These platforms need to be re-regulated to make their censorship stop.

    Really, Andrew?

    How do you twist our freedom of speech into a demand that Facebook and Twitter run their businesses according to government decree? Which you assume will result in a platform more to your liking?

    What on earth makes you think that would be a good idea? Where in history has that ever worked out well?


  • Hey, kids, what time is it? According to Adam Thierer at the Technology Liberation Front, it's A Good Time to Re-Read Reagan’s Fairness Doctrine Veto.

    History has shown that the dangers of an overly timid or biased press cannot be averted through bureaucratic regulation, but only through the freedom and competition that the First Amendment sought to guarantee.

    Gosh. You know who should read that, slowly and repeatedly? Andrew Klavan. More from Adam:

    That wisdom is just as applicable today when some conservatives suggest that government intervention is needed to address what they regardless as “bias” or “unfair” treatment on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or whatever else. Ignoring the fact that such meddling would likely violate property rights and freedom of contract — principles that most conservatives say they hold dear — efforts to empower the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, or other regulators would be hugely misguided on First Amendment grounds.

    I urge my fellow conservatives to stop drinking the regulatory Kool-Aid.


  • Kevin D. Williamson, writing in the New York Post, has a pretty good handle on a more pressing problem: Democrats are twisting the English language to suit their agenda. Example one:

    Democrats have been forthrightly pressing for a court-packing program in the event of a Joe Biden presidency and a Democrat-run Congress, making the case everywhere from the halls of power to the pages of The New York Times. But the term “court packing,” redolent of banana-republic shenanigans, isn’t playing well, and Biden has been discomfited by it.

    What “court packing” really means, Democrats insist, is what Republicans have been doing: filling judicial vacancies in the ordinary way. Republicans have not expanded the courts, proposed expanding the courts, purged sitting judges, or anything like that. As it turns out, the judges chosen by the Republican president’s Republican advisers and confirmed in the Republican Senate are more Republican-ish than not. That isn’t court packing — it is an illustration of Barack Obama’s maxim: “Elections have consequences.”

    Thus, what isn’t court packing is now “court packing.” And what shall we call actual court packing? Anything but court packing, of course.

    Dahlia Lithwick, the Democratic operative who poses as a legal reporter at Slate, calls the term “court packing” a “branding problem” and insists it should be “systemic structural court reform” instead.

    Other Democratic activists sent out talking points asking their media allies to characterize the Democratic effort to expand the benches for explicitly partisan reasons and thereby politicize the courts “depoliticizing the courts.” The language was immediately picked up by, among others, the Associated Press. And so court packing is not court packing, and politicizing the courts is depoliticizing the courts.

    The original coiner of "doublespeak", George Orwell, noted in his 1946 essay "Politics and the English Language" that the word Fascism had "no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable'."

    True then, true today. Which unfortunately leaves us with no term we can use to describe actual Fascists.


  • Jonah Goldberg, in last week's G-File has a warning: When Politicians Talk Empathy, Be Suspicious.

    Elevating empathy to the exclusion of everything else is a form of populist demagoguery. Paul Bloom, in his excellent book Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion, writes "When some people think about empathy, they think about kindness. I think about war."

    When Hitler railed about the plight of Sudeten Germans, he was marshalling empathy. When Arab, Turkish, and Persian demagogues arouse popular passions for the Palestinians, they are using empathy to foment antipathy for Israelis.   

    The antonym of empathy is antipathy, but in the political context they are not simply opposites. One goes hand in hand with the other. Politicians and culture warriors use empathy to arouse antipathy. Conservatives felt empathy for the Covington High School kids, but that empathy was weaponized to stir up antipathy. The Democrats used pictures of secular martyrs to arouse empathy they hoped to translate into antipathy for Amy Coney Barrett. 

    And you can't turn on the TV these days without getting hit over the head with political ads telling you how empathetic the candidates are. Mrs. Salad is getting pretty tired of me holding pillows over my ears and screaming "Aaaagh, make it stop!"


  • And a recent Wired article by Yussef Cole put me in a too-familiar dilemma: whether to be disgusted or amused. It's titled The Hollow Nihilism of 'Call of Duty'. The subhed should have set up a big red flag: "The first-person shooter franchise has the potential to meaningfully grapple with American history, politics, and ethics. It misses the mark."

    Not just grapple. Meaningfully grapple.

    Well, it's tedious. This stuck out, though:

    After the conclusion of the Cold War, the massive military behemoth that President Reagan created to do his dirty work could no longer enjoy, as it long had, relative immunity from the free-market cuts and defundings that had hollowed out most other government programs during the same period.

    Get that? Remember, the "dirty work" to which Reagan was dedicated resulted in dialing down the probability of global thermonuclear war to near-zero. I'm pretty OK with that.

Duelling Headlines in Local Sunday Paper

After an astronomical price increase for our daily local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, we cut back to Sunday-only delivery. Two reasons:

  1. They reproduce the Sunday crossword puzzle from the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, a week late. I like doing those.
  2. And there are clippable coupons. Might be able to save some money.

But sometimes I make the mistake of looking at other parts of the paper. My eyes rolled a bit at this headline on a page one story yesterday from the AP:

[Trump Fear]

But leafing over to page A5 provides a locally-reported story about our state's gubernatorial election and the Democratic candidate, Dan Feltes, challenging Governor Sununu. And the headline spread across the top of the page was:

[Feltes fear]

In other words: "If you don't vote for me, you're gonna get sick and maybe die." Yet the paper didn't feel obligated to point out the fear-mongering inherent in that message.