Alexander Payne does not make mistakes, and that would seem to be his only serious handicap or restraint. But he has so many delicious virtues of taste, precision, and modesty. He has tragic instincts but will not succumb to melancholy. He is reluctant to let sex or violence overwhelm his work, especially in igniting combination. He not inclined to trust his heroes or villains; he has made a habit of wayward, awkward or unreliable characters. Give Payne an obvious movie star—like Jack Nicholson or George Clooney—and he looks for their lost ordinariness.
Soon after I first listened to Bob Dylan’s intense new album, Tempest, a friend who’d also heard it wanted to know what a historian made of its line, early on, about the British burning down the White House. I replied that I had no idea. And many listenings later, I still don’t.
With the financial balance of power shifting toward the Republicans, Democrats are understandably alarmed that a deluge of cash from outside groups and Wall Street could swamp Obama’s reelection efforts. As an initial step, the Obama campaign has concentrated their expenditures on a smaller number of swing states, ensuring that they at least remain competitive in the markets they consider most important. But when you concentrate resources, some areas end up short-changed, and the decision to narrow the playing field has left Obama without substantial purchases in several media markets.
Plenty of liberals and other Americans of good conscience no doubt breathed a sigh of relief when AmeriTrade founder and Chicago Cubs co-owner Joe Ricketts distanced himself yesterday from the $10 million racially-tinged Jeremiah Wright ad blitz that the New York Times had reported he was considering buying. But it would be a mistake to consider that any sort of significant victory against the disproportionate power wielded by super PACs.
Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention By Manning Marable (Viking Press, 594 pp., $30) I. When Malcolm X died in a hail of assassin’s gunfire at the Audubon Ballroom in February 1965, the mainstream media in the United States was quick to suggest that he reaped the harvest of bloodshed he had brazenly sown.
RED OAK, IOWA -- Outside a candidate's event in Council Bluffs, as the wind was blowing in bitter cold from Nebraska, I witnessed my first ugly moment of the Iowa caucuses. A 19-year-old local man, Steve Bertelson, was standing outside on the sidewalk, shivering visibly, silently holding a sign with a scrawled slogan about the 1 percent. As people left the event, several turned on him, shouting angrily just steps away from him as he absorbed the abuse without saying anything. Why didn't he go across the river to Omaha and bother Warren Buffett instead, shouted one man.
Today, millions of Americans (who, unlike your humble blogger, are still on vacation) are trading the champagne of December 31st for the six-packs of January 2nd. That’s right: It’s time for college football. Today, Houston and Penn State play in the TicketCity Bowl, Ohio State and Florida play in the Gator Bowl, Michigan State and Georgia play in the Outback Bowl, Nebraska and South Carolina play in the Capital One Bowl, Wisconsin and Oregon play in the Rose Bowl, and Stanford and Oklahoma State play in the Fiesta Bowl.