EXCITEMENT: I just made my first call on Whatsapp! I am so awesome! (BTW, my Whatsapp profile name is NOTKAFKA )
COMEDY WITH CONAN AT MOHER. I visited this castle at the Cliffs of Moher in 2008. Yes, it was just as windy….
WHO’S IN CHARGE?/WHO’S TO BLAME: If the 2024 election brings unfortunate results, my generation has only themselves to blame (finally!)
OSCAR PREDICTIONS: Every year, without seeing any of the movies, I make a prediction for which will win the Oscar award for BEST PICTURE before nominations are even announced. Today I can announce that the winner for 2024 Best Picture will be KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON.
19th century: Gone to Texas . Used as a euphemism for going to another place in order to escape one’s debts.
Mark Joseph Stern on how TEXAS is violating FEDERAL LAW.
This razor wire, which stretches for dozens of miles, is designed to ensnare migrants and prevent Border Patrol from reaching them. The wire is located on the U.S. side of the border—which means that by the time migrants reach it, they are on American soil. Federal law grants Border Patrol the right to access all land within 25 miles of the border; it also requires border agents to inspect, process, arrest, and detain migrants on U.S. soil. The Texas Guard, however, has barred agents from performing these tasks. It has fenced off a large section of Eagle Pass, an area where migrants frequently cross the Rio Grande into the United States, and has banished Border Patrol from entering. Border Patrol tried to monitor the area by boat, but the Texas Guard put a chain around the gate to the boat ramp so that border agents couldn’t use it. Guardsmen also piled dirt on both sides of the gates that provide access to the Rio Grande in order to block federal access to the river.
The Texas Guard’s actions are in direct conflict with federal law. Moreover, Abbott has directed guardsmen to push unauthorized migrants back across the border, which further contradicts federal law: Congress has deemed these migrants “applicants for admission” once they reach U.S. soil and has granted them certain rights, such as the ability to seek asylum. Texas has effectively nullified multiple federal statutes by trying to turn away migrants and forbidding Border Patrol from intercepting them.
NIKKI HALEY EMBRACES UKRAINE: One thing unremarked upon about the Republican primary is that Nikki Haley very much embraces internationalism and especially supports Ukraine and our NATO commitments. If Trump were to knock out Nikki Haley early and easily from the Republican primary, that would send a signal to the Republican Party that isolationism is ok — and that abandoning Ukraine is necessary in order to stop the aliens from invading our border.
DOCUMENTARY RECOMMENDATION (FREE ONLINE!) Beyond Utopia” tells a harrowing story about two attempts to transport North Korean refugees to South Korea by smuggling them into China and taking them to Vietnam and Laos and finally to Thailand. On one level it describes the past and present political situation in North Korea effectively and dramatically. (Did you know that many young children in North Korea have witnessed public executions?) On another level it focuses on one family’s effort to reunite, with actual footage of the family during the perilous journey. It’s both a heroic and inspiring film.
I admit it. I’m a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Here’s a nice exploration of how the Dawn Summers character progresses throughout the show. Here’s 90 minutes of Andy Hallett, the swell guy who played the karaoke singing demon in Angel. Sadly, he died very early in life because of a heart problem.
I will probably blog somewhat more often about political matters this year because …. Trump.
Here’s a very amusing “WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE” celebrity episode with Norm MacDonald (condensed to 9 minutes). He and Regis have a great old time — great questions too.
NETFLIX RECOMMENDATION: “RUSTIN” is a superb (and, yes, inspirational) biopic of a “complicated” civil rights leader who organized Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington. Surely Colman Domingo deserves to win an Oscar for best actor, but everything about the film was wonderful — excellent cast, great script, great music, unafraid to deal with “hard” issues. Also, it offered a different perspective on King and other civil rights leaders.
SUPPORT BORDER SECURITY & IMMIGRATION BILL (+Ukraine, etc). If ever there was a good time to write your US senator, that time is now. (A vote will come in the next day or so). A bipartisan Senate bill written by OK senator Lankford and CN senator Chris Murphy would solve a lot of problems and make Americans safer.
Electoral-Vote recommends 2 sources to maximize the impact of your political donation: Oath and BlueTorrent. BlueTorrent’s David Callahan on why it is better to donate to organizations rather than candidates:
. Campaigns and entities that support candidates like the DCCC have levers to pull to turn out voters and make the best of the political environment. They create field programs to canvas door to door, as well as do events and contact voters by text or email. They engage in polling and message testing to better understand voters. They run ads that increase candidate appeal and deflect attacks.
Plenty of close elections have been won by these tactics — and money can make a decisive difference. Democrats would probably still control the U.S. House if candidates like Jevin Hodge, Kirsten Engel and Adam Frisch were able to raise enough money for field programs. None did; all lost.
Still, political campaigns are clearly not the best vehicles for changing voting patterns in a lasting way — and especially who votes. These are short-term operations that spend many of their resources on paid media and leave little behind. They’re not set up to engage deeply with people over time, which is how to change both political beliefs and civic behavior.
“Dear Republican Senators of America, Ronald Reagan, who helped millions of us to win back our freedom and independence, must be turning in his grave today. Shame on you.” (TWEET BY POLAND’S PRIME MINISTER DONALD TUSK ON THE US SENATE”S REJECTION WEDNESDAY OF A BILL TO PROVIDE ECONOMIC AND MILITARY AID TO UKRAINE).
ACTUALLY A HATCHET JOB. 2 political bloggers (and professors) explain why the special prosecutor wrote a distorted and biased report about Biden’s alleged “memory issues.”
PATRICK STEWART BRINGS A SHAKESPEARAN TOUCH TO SESAME STREET. (YouTube). Very amusing.
I’m really torn about linking to YouTube, which seems to have found a way to overcome the ad-blockers.
Here’s Marquette Greene-Scott, the Dem candidate for my 22nd district (to oppose MAGA Troy Nehls). Houston Chronicle endorsed her today. She’s a Louisiana-born former math teacher turned attorney who also served as mayor of a small Texas town.
This 11 minute homage to an 80s sitcom is bizarre and silly and brilliant.
“Leadership requires killing people.” (PRO-TRUMP MEDIA PERSONALITY TUCKER CARLSON ON WHY HE DIDN’T ASK PUTIN A QUESTION ABOUT NAVALNY DURING HIS INTERVIEW WITH PUTIN LAST WEEK).
Here’s a lovely thought-piece by Navalny in 2022 (No subscription required) after the Ukraine invasion about how Russia can take the path towards democracy. QUOTE: “War is a relentless stream of crucial, urgent decisions influenced by constantly shifting factors. Therefore, while I commend European leaders for their ongoing success in supporting Ukraine, I urge them not to lose sight of the fundamental causes of war. The threat to peace and stability in Europe is aggressive imperial authoritarianism, endlessly inflicted by Russia upon itself. Postwar Russia, like post-Putin Russia, will be doomed to become belligerent and Putinist again. This is inevitable as long as the current form of the country’s development is maintained. Only a parliamentary republic can prevent this. It is the first step toward transforming Russia into a good neighbor that helps to solve problems rather than create them.”
VOTING PROBLEMS IN TEXAS. Distressed and amused at the bureaucratic difficulties this reporter had about registering to vote. (The main problem is that Texas does not allow online voter’s registration).