Wednesday’s Forum

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. EddieInCA says:

    When you have even Karl Rove at Fox complimenting the DNC Convention, something good is happening.

    https://www.mediaite.com/tv/karl-rove-democrats-showed-enormous-message-discipline-gop-would-be-wise-to-emulate-that/

    3
  2. Bill says:
  3. Bill says:
  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Proof that the Swiss do everything better than we do: They even have chocolate snow over there.

    The company said one car was lightly coated, and that it has offered to pay for any cleaning needed – but hasn’t yet been taken up on the offer.

    No need to, the neighborhood kids licked it clean.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Trigger warning: This video can induce an over reaction in the lacrimal ducts of the eyes.

    Rex Chapman@RexChapman
    They found a bottle in the back yard with a message inside.

    “Henry Joe, you are already the best bro, and my very best friend, so will you please say yes and…”

    I’m here for all of this. ❤️

    4
  6. Kathy says:

    Florida airport

    Seriously, a live missile among some cargo?

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    From The Post Office Scandal is Either Stupid or Evil, Your Choice :

    Trump’s lawyers took Pennsylvania to court for its mail-in system but failed to produce any evidence of vote-by-mail fraud by the Friday deadline the judge imposed. (Oops.)

    I googled and can not find where they missed the deadline on any news sites. Has anybody else heard of it?

    1
  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Whadya expect? It’s Florida.

    1
  9. Scott says:

    I know this is old news and no one in the media wants to talk about it but…

    Manafort was ‘grave counterintelligence threat’ due to Russian contacts, Senate panel says

    The US government was right to target the Trump campaign for counter intelligence operations.

    Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort worked closely with a Russian intelligence officer who may have been involved in the hack and release of Democratic emails during the election, the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded in a bipartisan report released Tuesday.

    It’s the furthest U.S. officials have gone in describing Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime Manafort business associate, as an agent of the Russian government.

    In particular, the committee’s investigation found that Manafort “represented a grave counterintelligence threat” due to his relationship with Kilimnik and other Russians connected to the country’s intelligence services — a bombshell conclusion that underscores how Russia developed a direct pipeline to the upper echelons of a U.S. presidential campaign.

    The report also showed that at least two participants in a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Manafort, senior adviser Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. were more deeply tied to Russian intelligence than other reports have indicated.

    “The committee assesses that at least two participants in the June 9, 2016 meeting, [Natalia] Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin, have significant connections to the Russian government, including the Russian intelligence services,”

    Did the President commit perjury?

    The report also implicates Trump directly. While the president told Mueller that he did not “recall” discussing WikiLeaks with campaign adviser Roger Stone, the committee “assesses that Trump did, in fact, speak with Stone about WikiLeaks and with members of his campaign about Stone’s access to WikiLeaks on multiple occasions.”

    Apparently a criminal referral occurred also.

    Senate committee made criminal referral of Trump Jr., Bannon, Kushner, two others to federal prosecutors

    The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee made criminal referrals of Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Erik Prince and Sam Clovis to federal prosecutors in 2019, passing along their suspicions that the men may have misled the committee during their testimony

    None dare call it treason.

    16
  10. Kathy says:

    @Scott:

    IMO, this is something that can, and should be, pursued and prosecuted by Biden, if he does win.

    The 800 lb. orange gorilla in the room, though, is that Trump can issue pardons to all of the above, and maybe to himself. And if he can’t pardon himself, then he can resign and have Pence do so.

    Trump the PITO being the kind of lowlife he is, though, he’ll probably not pardon everyone. I can see him hanging Bannon put to dry, for example, because he doesn’t like Bannon. This would be a grave mistake, since the frumpy supremacist can then dish dirt on Trump, further eroding his legacy, such as it is.

    Regardless, there should be an investigation next term and a full accounting of all misdeeds. And any plausible state charges and lawsuits by private groups or individuals should also be vigorously pursued. If we can’t get Trump the Don convicted and licked up, we can at least hurt him where he’ll feel it most: in his pocket.

    6
  11. Bill says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Whadya expect? It’s Florida.

    Florida- Home to an author of dung beetle fiction and other crazy people.

    1
  12. Bill says:

    @Kathy:

    Seriously, a live missile among some cargo?

    But Amazon prime guaranteed next delivery!

    In other weapons news coming out of Florida-

    Private jet loaded with weapons and cash stopped from leaving for Venezuela

    FORT LAUDERDALE — A Learjet loaded with weapons and cash was stopped from leaving the U.S. for Venezuela over the weekend.

    Seized at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport were 18 assault/bolt actions rifles with optics, six shotguns, 58 semi-automatic pistols and $20,312 in cash and $2,618.53 in endorsed checks, a news release said. Air and Marine Operations in Fort Lauderdale seized the plane and a vehicle.

    Two Venezuelan nationals were arrested but not identified by Homeland Security Investigations.

    Don’t you just love the Sunshine State?

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: The 800 lb. orange gorilla in the room, though, is that Trump can issue pardons to all of the above

    I say fine, they will no longer be able to claim the 5th. Call them up for hearings and force them to testify about everything they did. If they lie or refuse to it’s off to jail/prison they go.

    Then maybe after they get out, call them up to testify again. If they again lie or refuse to testify, it’s back they go again. Logically, that would not be double jeopardy because they committed the same crime a 2nd time, but the law isn’t always logical.

    6
  14. Joe says:

    @Scott:
    I have heard some reporting via Preet Bharara’s podcast that there had actually been an open file on Manafort at the FBI for some time before Scott Weismann of the Mueller team picked it up and ran with it, which is one reason that the Manafort prosecution was among the earliest.

    2
  15. Moosebreath says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    ” Trump’s lawyers took Pennsylvania to court for its mail-in system but failed to produce any evidence of vote-by-mail fraud by the Friday deadline the judge imposed. (Oops.)

    I googled and can not find where they missed the deadline on any news sites. Has anybody else heard of it?”

    I saw lots of stories about the deadline to produce evidence.

    The only ones I have seen on the issue of whether some response was provided are from small town papers saying nothing was filed by the deadline. The second cite has a date stamp from today, saying “Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan, who was nominated by President Trump, had ordered the Trump campaign and the other plaintiffs to produce actual evidence of voter fraud, or admit they have none, by August 14. At publication time there was no word on whether they had done so.”

    2
  16. Jen says:

    I’ve been in/around politics for pretty much my entire adult life. This is WEIRD. It’s simply not normal political behavior.

    Entrepreneur opens chain of pro-Trump merchandise stores throughout New England

    The party might be left with remnants of Trumpism when he leaves, but there’s unequivocally a personality cult angle to this that the GOP will not be able to duplicate with just any ol’ politician simply by regurgitating Trumpisms and poor leadership.

    4
  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Moosebreath: Thanx, appreciate the help. I don’t exactly have a black belt in google-fu.

    1
  18. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Scott:

    I know this is old news and no one in the media wants to talk about it but…

    This should be all over the place. First and foremost it shows how badly Mueller botched the investigation. It shows the mendacity of Baghdad Barr. And it shows just exactly what collusion looks like. And finally, it shows what whores the Republicans in the Senate are.

    7
  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: Around here we have Popup roadside stands for trump/tea party/Confederate stuff, and probably some Q too. They popup in the parking lots of closed/abandoned stores for a day and then are gone. A part of me thinks the cops moves them out for operating w/o the proper permits or trespassing, but maybe they just don’t want to be in one place for too long.

    Either way my impression has been that they are just grifters trying to milk the cultists for as much as they can before it all blows up.

    6
  20. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    This seems a bit different from a standard pop-up. And he says he’s opening 9 more locations. Pop-ups usually aren’t chain enterprises, are they?

    @Jen:
    I agree with you that this is really, really weird. And it’s more confirmation of the cult-like behavior of Team Trump. There have been presidents who’ve been widely loved, but this is extraordinary. I can’t see people racing out to purchase Obama or Reagan memorabilia. Even here in Massachusetts I’ve never seen a chain of shops peddling nothing but Kennedy souvenirs. But Trump junk????? Whatever is behind this makes me uneasy.

    3
  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Yes it is different, and I suspect there is a kickback to trump as he is investing too much. I was just speaking to what we have here, tho I suspect the motivation behind these enterprises is still the same: Get as much as possible as quickly as possible because it’s all gonna come crashing down.

    @Jen: I wonder what kind of neighborhoods he’s opening these stores in? My small town has a half empty main street that no doubt has dirt cheap rents one could get on a 3 month lease, and plenty of trump supporters with a need to show how much they love their lord and savior and still a few bucks in their pocket after they left the guns and ammo store.

    2
  22. Sleeping Dog says:

    Looking over the NYT’s coverage of the Dem convention and noted this comment among the misses, of the hit and miss summary.

    Peter Wehner Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s searing indictment of America, which fit in a lot in 96 seconds: racial injustice, colonization, misogyny, homophobia, the violence and xenophobia of our past, and the “unsustainable brutality” of our economy. Democrats should be glad she wasn’t granted more time.

    Now, Wehner is a life long R and a religious conservative, so it is fair to take the remark with a grain of salt, but he does hit on something that is off putting by AOC and many progressives, the seemingly unrelenting negativity. AOC does have the talent for a brutal riposte, but too frequently she can be uninspiring beyond the like minded.

    We should remember and young progressives should learn that Reagan and to a lesser extent GW Bush, conducted a colonoscopy of America with a corn cob, but much of the country accepted the trauma in good cheer because the perpetrators were considered bons camarades.

    One attracts more with honey than with vinegar.

    5
  23. Teve says:
  24. Joe says:

    The minute I post this, James or Stephen will start a thread on last night’s convention, but:
    Did anyone else find it odd that, during the roll call, the delegates from American Samoa (I think) had two uniformed American soldiers standing it the background? I am not writing letters to my Congressman, but that struck me as out of place.

  25. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    I was curious, so I did a little Googling. Keith Lambert, the entrepreneur behind these shops, starting setting them up in late 2019. His other Massachusetts outlets are in Wilmington, Bellingham, Peabody, and Easton.

    The article I’m linking to notes that Lambert tried to set up a shop in Billerica, but couldn’t find a landlord willing to give him a short-term lease. So…maybe these places are pop-ups. None of them are, as far as I can tell, in places that are particularly affluent.

    http://www.lowellsun.com/2019/12/18/pumped-over-trump-youll-love-this-shop/

    I hope this goes through without me being moderated.

    ETA: Yay! My link cleared moderation!

    1
  26. gVOR08 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: We have a recently opened Trump junk store, but it’s not a popup. It’s on Tamiami Trail between Venice and Sarasota. Note that SW FL is a one street town, Tami is the main street for all the towns along the coast, lots of traffic. It’s in a stand alone building with a parking lot. Signage for an independent insurance agency and I’m assuming a temporary sideline business for the agency.

  27. Jen says:

    @Joe: That’s really strange. I thought that members of the military aren’t allowed to advocate/appear for a candidate in a political setting in uniform?

    2
  28. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Scott:
    @Kathy:
    Here is the Lawfare blog all but calling Six Republican senators liars.

    What Senate Republicans are saying about their own report comes perilously close to simple lying.

    https://www.lawfareblog.com/republican-senators-misrepresent-their-own-russia-report

    6
  29. Scott says:

    @Jen: They are not. It is being called an ‘oversight’, an error in composition. Not that it matters, but those two army soldiers are probably reservists and lower ranked. But a more experienced supervisor should have stopped it.

    5
  30. Kathy says:

    I’ve a feeling even historians tend to overlook pandemics.

    I’ve read several histories about or dealing with WWI, which raged between 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918, the 1918 flu pandemic began in April 1918 and ended sometime in 1920. therefore it affected developments in the war, right? There’s little mention of it in any WWI histories, and in most it’s mentioned as part of the aftermath of war.

    Even then, we don’t hear what effect it had on the peace talks in Paris after the armistice, or through the implementation of the various treaties. Keep in mind these talks concentrated a lot of people from all over the world in one city. How did that influence the spread of the flu?

    You might say even a pandemic pales in comparison to the massive carnage of the war, but the influenza pandemic killed between 17 and 50 million people, while the war killed around 22 million. The disease also infected an estimated 500 million people, which back then was about 1/3 of the world’s population.

    That was the biggest pandemic of the XX Century, but not the only one. There is more mention in the history books of the polio epidemics and the Salk vaccine. Various other flu epidemics are barely mentioned.

    Maybe we keep having them because we keep forgetting the earlier ones? The SARS and MERS outbreaks were relatively short-lived and killed few people. the H1N1 pandemic in 2009 killed around 500,000 worldwide. That was just over a decade ago. Does anyone remember that? Or cares about it?

    4
  31. Kylopod says:

    On the subject of really important and consequential matters, I’ve been gradually collecting a list of fictional characters who have often been compared with Donald Trump. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

    * King Joffrey. George R.R. Martin has personally endorsed this comparison.

    * Biff Tannen (whose alternate-1985 counterpart was reportedly inspired by Trump).

    * Mr. Burns.

    * Gollum/Smeagol.

    * Gilderoy Lockhart. (An underrated comparison in my view. Imagine a younger, British version of Trump from the Harry Potter universe, and this is pretty much what pops out.)

    * Tony Soprano. (Unfair. Tony’s a LOT smarter than Trump and has more of a moral compass. If we’re thinking of fictional crime lords, Tony Montana from Scarface strikes me as a bit closer. Impulsive, self-destructive, incestuous–he’s got everything.)

    * Chauncey Gardiner. (Nah—way too polite and well-mannered. I always thought Dubya was a closer analogue.)

    * Greg Stillson. (Like GRRM with Joffrey, King has personally endorsed this comparison. I could absolutely see Trump using a baby as a shield, except I’m not sure it would harm him politically.)

    * Howard Beale & Jay Bulworth. (I was hearing these comparisons around 2015 when Trump first began running, but they soon faded as more people realized Trump was not just some guy lacking an internal filter but a pure BS artist.)

    * The Rodney Dangerfield characters from Caddyshack and Back to School. (These again are comparisons we were hearing more during the 2016 cycle, and they’re somewhat favorable to Trump, casting him as the boorish nouveau riche guy awesomely trolling the snooty bourgeoisie. While I don’t think the comparison is accurate, I do think it’s a useful way of understanding how Trump’s hardcore fans perceive Trump.)

    4
  32. Paine says:

    I can certainly live without seeing a Clinton at another Democratic Party convention. It’s time for the party to move onward and upward without their baggage.

    4
  33. Monala says:

    Democratic Convention night 2: I cried again, this time while watching the beautiful ’round the country (and territories) roll call, especially when Matthew Shepard’s parents did the roll call for Wyoming.

    The roll call is getting a lot of positive feedback, with folks saying that the DNC should do it this way every year.

    4
  34. Kathy says:

    I had a small epiphany regarding pandemics.

    As bad as they are in terms of illness and deaths, these occur a few at a time, out of view of the public, and quickly become statistics. This in contrast with deaths during war, which are greater in number per occurrence, affect a lot of people simultaneously, and are often remarked upon in the media (I think newspapers carried casualty lists in WWI).

    Not to mention that modern warfare carries with it wholesale physical destruction of cities and infrastructure. Right now there are a lot of empty airports and planes parked in the desert. In wartime you’d have bombed-out airports and burning wreckage of planes, trains, dams, oil refineries, factories, city blocks, etc.

    After months of pandemic and over half a million cases and almost 60,000 deaths in Mexico, exactly one person I know personally got infected and died, a man who worked at the company’s archive.

    I don’t need a personal connection to a pandemic to take it seriously (no one I know personally got the H1N1 flu in 2009). But all too many people seem to need that before taking it seriously.

    Perhaps if papers and news shows published the names of those who die every day, and the families were formally notified by a government agency, and we saw more footage of people suffocating to death, and mass graves, and all that, people could be scared into taking precautions.

    4
  35. Kingdaddy says:

    A useful discussion of The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” in light of our long-overdue discomfort with the Lost Cause.

    3
  36. DrDaveT says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Now, Wehner is a life long R and a religious conservative, so it is fair to take the remark with a grain of salt, but he does hit on something that is off putting by AOC and many progressives, the seemingly unrelenting negativity.

    I have never understood this attitude, though I recognize that it is widespread. I have no empathy for people who want to remain ignorant of the problems, or forget them immediately once they’ve learned of them.

    Consider this analogous whine:
    Peter Wehner:

    The annual physicals that Dr. Smith performed revealed that my family suffers from obesity, hypertension, diabetes, gout, ulcerative colitis, gastroesophogeal reflux disease, cirrhosis, a staph infection, and toenail fungus. Thank God she didn’t have time for a more thorough examination.

    2
  37. Moosebreath says:

    @Kylopod:

    Lord Farquaard from the first Shrek movie. “Some of you may die, but that is a price I am willing to pay.”

    4
  38. DrDaveT says:

    @Kylopod:

    While I don’t think the comparison is accurate, I do think it’s a useful way of understanding how Trump’s hardcore fans perceive Trump.

    I think that’s an astute observation. They see Trump as the unpolished (or can’t-be-bothered-to-be-polished) Everyman outsmarting and outmaneuvering and generally messing with the elites. They somehow miss the fact that he’s not smarter than anyone, and his lack of polish goes clean to the bone. (Or, to switch to the more usual observation about things you can’t polish…)

    1
  39. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    Cycling through old LP’s recently, The Night… wafted from the stereo into my consciousness, that got me to thinking about this song as an anachronism that is of a time and place that no longer exists and has been discredited. Artistically it can stand on its merits and one can still enjoy it for that reason, but it is a song that no artist should cover in the future and those who have it in their repertoire should drop it.

    Hamilton’s take that it is an anti-war anthem is interesting and valid, but it doesn’t salvage the song from being antithetical from where we are today as a society.

    An aside, I always found it curious that this song was written by a Canadian.

  40. Kylopod says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Lord Farquaard from the first Shrek movie. “Some of you may die, but that is a price I am willing to pay.”

    The actual quote is “Some of you may die, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.”

    I’ve loved this quote for a long time–in fact I was invoking it quite a while before it became a widespread Internet meme. But it’s not in any way exclusive to Trump. The first time I remember invoking it in a political discussion was back in the mid-2000s, when Bush remarked that the sacrifice in Iraq was “worth it.”

    For that matter, this year I’ve been seeing a lot of comparisons with the mayor from Jaws, objecting to closing the beaches because it’s bad for business. But, again, this is something that applies to a lot of politicians, not just Trump.

    3
  41. Sleeping Dog says:

    @DrDaveT:

    If you want to win over the skeptical and likely threatened, you’re not going to do it with a list of their failings. The rhetorical success of a MLK, JFK, and even Reagan and Obama is their inclusiveness in saying yes we have problems, but together we can improve all out lives.

    Too many progressive pundits have fallen into the trap of zero sum political action and success doesn’t lie there. Rhetorically they are often the janus of Trump and scream outrage and revel in cheers of their partisans and the jeers of their opponents. But if you want to effect change, the coalition needs to be broad, so the framing of the issues needs to attract not repel the populous.

    5
  42. wr says:

    @Kylopod: Don’t forget Daniel Clamp from the immortal Gremlins 2!

  43. wr says:

    @Paine: “It’s time for the party to move onward and upward without their baggage.”

    To you, he’s baggage. To a lot of people he is one of two Democratic presidents from the last 40 years. Let’s not start erasing our history.

    4
  44. An Interested Party says:

    Republicans are idiots…but you already knew that…

    1
  45. CSK says:

    Trump has called for a boycott of Goodyear, urging his followers not to buy Goodyear tires–“Get better tires for far less”–because they have banned the wearing of MAGA hats and other politically-themed garb by their employees.

    The company probably should not have specified MAGA hats by name, or if they did, also cited Biden-sloganed garb as equally unacceptable, since apparently it is (the directive referred to all politically-themed clothing, AFAICT). But there’s something very creepy about an American president trashing a major American company, strongly implying that their products are lousy.

    And given that Goodyear is located in Ohio, and Trump needs Ohio…

    6
  46. wr says:

    @Sleeping Dog: “but it is a song that no artist should cover in the future and those who have it in their repertoire should drop it.”

    I don’t understand this attitude at all. Must we now hate the other side so much we can’t extend sympathy to their civilians suffering the hardship of a war they’re not fighting in? Is it somehow harmful to race relations to understand that war is a terrible thing even for those who are not fighting in it?

    On its initial release, critic Ralph Gleason wrote “Nothing I have read… has brought home the overwhelming human sense of history that this song does.”

    And to me, if somehow Joan Baez isn’t too pure to perform this song, it’s okay with me.

    5
  47. wr says:

    @Sleeping Dog: “Hamilton’s take that it is an anti-war anthem is interesting and valid, but it doesn’t salvage the song from being antithetical from where we are today as a society.”

    Sorry to keep beating this dead horse — but really? We should now excise all old art that is “antithetical” to where we are today as a society? Or maybe we could all grow up a little and understand that not all people throughout history thought exactly as we do at this very minute, and yet there is still value in what they had to say?

    6
  48. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Scott:

    None dare call it treason.

    I dare. Have been from the start, because that’s what it is. Trump and his cronies are traitors to the United States. With this finally established it’s time to uncover the reason, which in my mind is clearly Russian money as the carrot, GRU surveillance of Trump being the stick.

    We will also find that GRU blackmail is the reason for Lindsey Graham’s panicked subservience.

    None of this is a surprise to anyone in the Republican House or Senate. They’ve all, to a man or woman, knowingly covered up treason. Like every other alleged Republican value, their patriotism is fake.

    4
  49. Moosebreath says:

    @Kylopod:

    You’re right — brain fart on my part.

  50. Kingdaddy says:

    @wr: Joan Baez famously got one line wrong, replacing Stoneman (Union general) with Stonewall (Confederate general).

  51. Sleeping Dog says:

    @wr:

    You strategically leave out that I prefaced those comments by saying, Artistically it can stand on its merits and one can still enjoy it for that reason…

    As an artist how would you be perceived by covering the song? Like Sweet Home Alabama, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, revanchist in they’re celebration of Confederate myth. There is less reason for former Dixie Chicks and Lady Antebellum to change their names, than to drop The Night… In regard to Baez and Gleason interpretations, that’s not how it is popularly perceived.

    John Ford’s The Searchers, is a cinematic tour de force, but no studio in its right mind would produce a remake.

  52. DrDaveT says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    If you want to win over the skeptical and likely threatened, you’re not going to do it with a list of their failings. The rhetorical success of a MLK, JFK, and even Reagan and Obama is their inclusiveness in saying yes we have problems, but together we can improve all out lives.

    In order to get to “yes we have problems, but” you first have to get to “we have problems”. It has become increasingly clear over the past few years that far more of the country than I would have believed has not yet gotten to that first step in the classic 12-step program.

    If you know a way to get people to admit that the US has problems without actually naming those problems or citing evidence for them, I’d be happy to hear it. Or, if you feel that it will be possible for the US to substantively address those problems even while a large fraction of Americans either don’t believe they are problems or don’t believe they are true, I’d be interested to hear how you think we can do that.

    5
  53. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    I may not be the only person alive who read the novel The Searchers by Alan Le May and never saw the movie (despite countless opportunities), but sometimes it feels like it.

    2
  54. Kingdaddy says:

    Some good writing at The New Republic:

    Like all the slightly smarter, slightly skeevier businessmen and politicos who have cleaved to Trump’s underbelly like remoras on a great white, the global autocratic class recognizes that this ill-informed, insecure simpleton is their greatest hope, the hot gale that blows open political doors for the jackboots to march through.

    2
  55. CSK says:

    @Kingdaddy:
    “…ill-informed, insecure simpleton…” God, that’s just about perfect, isn’t it? Trump in a nutshell.

    2
  56. wr says:

    @Sleeping Dog: “Like Sweet Home Alabama, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, revanchist in they’re celebration of Confederate myth. ”

    But it’s not. It’s not celebrating the Confederate myth at all, unless that myth is of some kid who has lost everything and everyone because people he didn’t know chose to go to war for reasons he didn’t understand.

    2
  57. Gustopher says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I once heard “Sweet Home Alabama” performed by an all-black barbershop quartet. It completely redeemed the song for me.

    Four singers, accapello, synchronizing and harmonizing a sarcastic sneer over “we all love our governor” and it totally changes “does your conscience bother you? Tell me true”

    1
  58. Gustopher says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I believe it is what is know as complex lying, or bald-faced lying, or some other variant of lying than simple lying.

  59. Mister Bluster says:
  60. flat earth luddite says:

    @Bill:
    @Kathy

    Sorry, gang, in my old neighborhood, while 18 rifles, 6 shotguns, 54 pistols, and $20k in cash IS a trunkful of weapons, it isn’t more than enough for a afternoon’s festivities. No revolution here, nothing to see, folks. Move along, move along.

    2
  61. becca says:

    @Kylopod: Trump and the equally sleazy Stephen Miller remind me of Jaba the Hutt and Salacious B Crumb.

    2
  62. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Kingdaddy: Actually, I think the final message of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” is in the lines, “I swear by the blood below my feet You can’t raise a Caine back up when it’s in defeat.”

  63. Jen says:

    I am once again struck by the bizarre situation the President has managed to bungle his way into today with the Goodyear issue. He really is dumber than a box of rocks.

    The company is essentially saying “no political clothing, we want to foster a work atmosphere”–this is 100% within their rights as an employer. And, somehow, the President has managed to make it about him, AND has called for a boycott of an American manufacturer that is based in a key swing state.

    How is anyone this politically dumb?

    5
  64. flat earth luddite says:

    @CSK:
    Nah, CSK, you’re not alone. I’m over here in the corner, sipping a G&T.

    1
  65. An Interested Party says:

    If Republicans/conservatives couldn’t concern troll, they wouldn’t have much of anything to do…

  66. CSK says:

    @flat earth luddite:
    Of course you are. You’re a Luddite.

    I’m trying to decide between a vodka and cranberry juice and a vodka martini.

    2
  67. flat earth luddite says:

    Time for my nap, but before I go, Above The Law reports:

    A petition of certiorari has been filed at the Supreme Court for a copyright case involving Led Zepplin’s iconic song “Stairway to Heaven.” Hopefully the justices will demand a live performance. [Billboard]

    We can but hope. Personally, I’m hoping they allow Ann & Nancy Wilson to do an a capella version.

    1
  68. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    I know!
    It occurs to me that the company, in singling out MAGA hats, made a strategic mistake. They simply should have said that any clothing with political slogans was verboten. Or, alternatively, they could have said that Biden as well as Trump-themed garb was forbidden.

    But in specifically citing MAGA hats, and nothing else, they gave Trump an opening to bitch. It’s stupid that he took it, of course, but…

    2
  69. flat earth luddite says:

    @CSK: excellent choices both. Finished off my vodka, and it’s too hot here for scotch or rye… so gin it is!

    1
  70. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: Goodyear will likely clarify their policy, saying that Biden hats are also forbidden, and Trump will declare victory, and the right wing bubble will be talking about how strong and powerful he is, standing up against unfair libtards.

    (I still think there should be Blue “MAGA” hats with Biden-Harris-2020 on them, as America was pretty great (flawed, but great) before Trump. Let Trump fume and sue and make people ask whether America was greater before or after Trump)

    1
  71. Kathy says:

    As you know, I tend to ignore all of Trump’s pronouncements for good and sufficient reason. Nevertheless, the other day I caught he said something about having “built” the greatest economy ever, and that he would do it again.

    That’s an excellent idea. Unfortunately, he cannot appoint Obama to the office of president for 8 years.

    1
  72. wr says:

    @flat earth luddite: ” I’m over here in the corner, sipping a G&T.”

    Did you bring enough for everyone?

    1
  73. CSK says:

    @flat earth luddite:
    It’s pretty warm here, so I’m going to go for the vodka and cran juice in a tall glass with a chunk of lime. Not only is it tasty, it’s as pretty as hell.

    @wr:
    I have plenty.

    @Gustopher:
    Blue MAGA hats sounds like a splendid idea. Especially since it would give Trump a stroke.

    1
  74. CSK says:

    Earlier today I mentioned that on June 12, Trump said he would leave the WH peacefully if he lost the election. This afternoon Kaileigh McEnany said that he “would have to see.”

    Am I the only one who remembers that he said he’d go? Or did he mean that he’d only go if you could prove to his satisfaction he lost. What will that take–an 80-20 win for Biden?

    1
  75. Jen says:

    Goodyear has released a statement.

    I think it’s a well-crafted statement. Makes it clear that political campaigning is out of bounds, but that racial justice and equality issues are different, and that “equality and law enforcement are not mutually exclusive.” Good on them.

    7
  76. inhumans99 says:

    @An Interested Party:

    If you have to try that hard to create the narrative that AOC’s 60 second speech was her being dissed by Biden you are doing it wrong. The link you provided is just another brick in the wall that the GOP is flailing when it comes to trying to define their opponents this election season.

    I am sure right about now Trump and McConnell are thinking if only all of their opponents had the last name of Clinton because it is surreal how obvious it has become that Trump was the blind squirrel who stumbled into finding the plumpest acorn in 2016 when he got himself into the White House…if Biden were to legally change his last name to Clinton it would probably be even weirder how quickly Trump would get his mojo back and set himself up for victory in November.

    Adoring crowds at rallies and an opponent named Clinton, if he had that going for him this election would be a cake-walk…lol.

    Also, NBC fell for the Fox News trap…sigh, they really should know better by now. I get it…this has been a pretty bland election cycle and the desire to latch onto anything that might indicate a horse race is going on must be incredibly overwhelming by now but anything being pushed by FOX…dude, trust but verify before you run with a story amplifying anything Fox News reports regarding the 2020 election.

    2
  77. JohnSF says:

    @Scott:
    Still working (slowly) through the report.
    Doesn’t help that its an image PDF not digital text, so unsearchable.
    Hopefully a digital version will get released?

    Also Carole Cadwalladr has been digging in helpfully.

    But anyway: hello Oleg Deripaska! How are you.
    And a couple of very interesting tidbits relating to my ongoing mild obsession with the “London Connection”.
    A name that turns up is one Frank Mehmoud.
    Who he?
    Just happens to be the business partner of Arron Banks; who in turn was a (the?) major financial backer, and active political partner, of UKIP/LeaveEU and Nigel Farage.
    The Nigel Farage who developed a sudden interest in dropping in on Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy.
    Arron Banks who appears to likely have had several meetings with Russian “diplomats”.
    And whose sources of wealth are in no way at all obscured oh no perish the very thought.
    And who just happens to be plugged in to the City of London financial/political nexus of

    “international wealth protection”, maximising tax efficiencies for entrepreneurs and expatriates and of “structuring international groups, particularly separating and relocating intellectual property and treasury functions to low- or no-tax jurisdictions”

    The UK government and investigative agencies have studiously ignored all this (for good political reason) as the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee noted in July.

    Hopefully, eventually, perhaps after a Democrat triumph in November, someone will start seriously pulling on these trans-Atlantic threads.

  78. flat earth luddite says:

    @wr: Surely, Shirley. Come on over.

  79. flat earth luddite says:

    Apparently Michigan bald eagles don’t like drones:

    In a rare case of nature taking on a manmade machine and winning, a bald eagle attacked and destroyed a government drone that was flying above Lake Michigan on an environmental monitoring mission.

    h/t to The Guardian for consistently providing links to news in ‘Merica that I can’t find otherwise.

    1
  80. EddieInCA says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    John Ford’s The Searchers, is a cinematic tour de force, but no studio in its right mind would produce a remake.

    Other movies that wouldn’t get made today, or would be very different.

    Lawrence of Arabia
    Key Largo
    Treasure of Sierra Madre
    Blazing Saddles
    Animal House
    Silver Streak
    Manhattan
    Slap Shot
    Soul Man
    Porky’s
    American Pie

    Just off the top of my head.

    1
  81. JohnSF says:

    Hmm. Looks like my comment has been eaten by the guardian demons.
    One too many links, perhaps?
    So here we go, de-linkified:
    @Scott:

    Still working (slowly) through the report.
    Doesn’t help that its an image PDF not digital text, so unsearchable.
    Hopefully a digital version will get released?

    Also Carole Cadwalladr has been digging in helpfully.

    But anyway: hello Oleg Deripaska! How are you.
    And a couple of very interesting tidbits relating to my ongoing mild obsession with the “London Connection”.
    A name that turns up is one Frank Mehmoud.
    Who he?
    Just happens to be the business partner of Arron Banks; who in turn was a (the?) major financial backer, and active political partner, of UKIP/LeaveEU and Nigel Farage.
    The Nigel Farage who developed a sudden interest in dropping in on Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy.
    Arron Banks who appears to likely have had several meetings with Russian “diplomats”.
    And whose sources of wealth are in no way at all obscured oh no perish the very thought.
    And who just happens to be plugged in to the City of London financial/political nexus of

    “international wealth protection”, maximising tax efficiencies for entrepreneurs and expatriates and of “structuring international groups, particularly separating and relocating intellectual property and treasury functions to low- or no-tax jurisdictions”

    The UK government and investigative agencies have studiously ignored all this (for good political reason) as the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee noted in July.

    Hopefully, eventually, perhaps after a Democrat triumph in November, someone will start seriously pulling on these trans-Atlantic threads.

    3
  82. Michael Cain says:

    @flat earth luddite:

    A petition of certiorari has been filed at the Supreme Court for a copyright case involving Led Zepplin’s iconic song “Stairway to Heaven.”

    Had to go check, and it’s the same case that got considerable coverage when the Ninth Circuit found for Zeppelin. IIRC, the court basically said “We’re not going to give you a writing credit for an eight-bar chord progression in a song that runs eight minutes.”

  83. An Interested Party says:

    Awww…look at Rick Scott trying to be a hero…obviously Steve Schmidt has this fraud’s number…

  84. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I’m sure that you’re not, but there are probably more who have neither read the book nor seen the film.

  85. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I’m not sure that would have worked. Lots of people in my part of the woods don’t consider hats and caps as clothing.

    1
  86. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Makgeolli is nice year round. In the summer it’s chilled down close to freezing so the creamy texture and light carbonation makes it a nice change from other choices.

    In the winter–well that’s what all the goose-neck pots you see lining the fronts of some Korean bars is about.

  87. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I know; I was kidding. It’s true, though, that I’m more likely to have read the book than seen the movie.
    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    What would they think of them as, then? Headgear?
    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    That does sound intriguing. I’ve had rice wine in Korean restaurants, but not this. I’ll make sure to look for it if the Korean places near me ever open again.

  88. flat earth luddite says:

    @wr:
    The whole Noble Lost Cause (rot, IMHO) theme today reminded me about Warren Zevon’s “Play It All Night Long,” which not only zinged “Sweet Home Alabama” AND “Southern Man,” but managed to include brucellosis in a popular song. Not bad, man, not bad at all.
    @Michael Cain
    Yes, the case that never dies, at least until it gets to the Supremes. IIRC, the original case was decided after everyone got to see the written music, but not hear the original Spirit song that LZ heard repeatedly while they were opening for Spirit. Then the appeals were all variations on “Well, listen to it.” Although I’m still trying to figure out where they found 12 people over the age of 18 in California who HADN’T heard “Stairway.” Just saying. I spent most of 3 decades herding attorneys for a living, and I find a lot of this s*** wildly amusing. (For those of you who watched Boston Legal without being attorneys, there are skazillions of Denny Cranes in the world).

    2
  89. Michael Cain says:

    @flat earth luddite:
    I found it interesting that the attitude of the few musicians I know was universally, “Hell, composers steal riffs and chord progressions and fills from each other all the time. If eight bars is a copyright infringement, the music industry is dead. If Stairway to Heaven wasn’t still pulling in a million dollars a year in royalties, this case would never have been filed.”

    I’m willing to bet a craft beer that the Supremes deny cert.

    2
  90. Kylopod says:

    I’m rather fascinated by the subject of copyright lawsuits in popular music. There sometimes doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason. For example, Ray Parker’s Ghostbusters song was famously sued for its alleged resemblance to a Huey Lewis song–yet to my ears the two songs don’t sound the least bit alike (at least not enough to justify a lawsuit). On the other hand, I can name many songs that sound highly similar to other songs where there was no lawsuit. For example, is it just me or does Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac” sound exactly like Chuck Berry’s “Rock and Roll Music”? Yet not only was there no lawsuit, I’m unaware of anyone even commenting on the resemblance.

    The most ludicrous lawsuit along these lines was the one brought against John Fogerty because of the resemblance of his song “Old Man Down the Road” to a CCR song–that he had written! In other words, his former record company claimed rights over all his CCR songs so that he effectively was no longer allowed to rip himself off. Thankfully the lawsuit was thrown out, and Fogerty made a countersuit that actually reached the SCOTUS.

    2
  91. CSK says:

    @Michael Cain: @Kylopod:
    George Harrison was sued for plagiarizing The Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine (Dulang, Dulang, Dulang)” with his “My Sweet Lord.” The judge found that Harrison had unconsciously ripped off the former.

  92. Kylopod says:

    @CSK:

    George Harrison was sued for plagiarizing The Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine (Dulang, Dulang, Dulang)” with his “My Sweet Lord.” The judge found that Harrison had unconsciously ripped off the former.

    That lawsuit made sense to me. Though the songs had very different styles, the melody was almost the same.

    Another very high-profile lawsuit involved the one against Michael Bolton for the resemblance of his song “Love is a Wonderful Song” to an Isley Brothers song of the same title. The melodies actually aren’t that similar, though they share a very distinctive title, and the point in the song when the title is sung in both songs uses the same melody. Bolton claimed he’d never heard the song before, but it was ruled that it was very likely he had heard the song when growing up and just forgot it, and subconsciously copied it.

  93. steve says:

    It seems the new pejorative being applied to people on the left is Marxist. It used to be socialist but now it has advanced to Marxist. Wonder when it advances to communist? Anyway, anyone seen anything this as a coordinated effort? This is going on way too often to just be some random thing. Of course conservatives dont know what either socialist or Marxist means but that doesn’t stop them.

    Steve

    2
  94. Jax says:

    @steve: I’ve always heard them used interchangeably, or sometimes all together when they’re “super mad”. Socialist Marxist Commies are ruinin the country! I doubt any one of the ones who use the term can detail the differences, all they know is it’s “a bad thing”. So all three together must mean SUPER BAD!! 😉

    3
  95. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @EddieInCA:

    The Searchers, is a cinematic tour de force, but no studio in its right mind would produce a remake.

    Other movies that wouldn’t get made today, or would be very different.

    Lawrence of Arabia
    Key Largo
    Treasure of Sierra Madre
    Blazing Saddles
    Animal House
    Silver Streak
    Manhattan
    Slap Shot
    Soul Man
    Porky’s
    American Pie

    Ok, I gotta ask, why would the Searchers never be remade today?

    Same for Key Largo?
    Treasure of Sierra Madre?
    Blazing Saddles?
    Animal House?

    Of Manhattan, Slap Shot, Soul Man, Porky’s, and American Pie, the only one I’ve seen is Slap shot (Paul Newman, right?) and I barely remember that.

    The Searchers portrays John Wayne’s character as the racist POS it was.
    Key Largo, ?????
    Treasure of Sierra Madre, they were all compromised human beings, Howard being the only “good” person. They didn’t shirk the characters flaws.
    Blazing Saddles and Animal House were no holds barred comedy’s, they along with Lawrence I can see being made differently (Lawrence far differently)

  96. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Yes, some people make a distinction between head gear and clothing. You’re not “undressed” if you don’t have a hat on. [bewildered eyerolling emoji goes here]

    If you have some makgeolli, make sure that you swirl the lees at the bottom of the bottle back into the beverage thoroughly. And don’t order fruit-flavored versions–they are a marketing gimmick for American tastes. (For some of my American friends in Korea, drinking makgeolli was part of the whole “stay away from soju, it’s just like kryptonite and knocks you on your arse” nonsense.)

    1
  97. Jax says:

    Hahahahaha….so the local Trumpy mom’s have been sharing all kinds of things about why their kids don’t have to wear masks at school. I’d like to copy and paste the School District’s Facebook response, for your enjoyment.

    ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES WHEN HEALTH ORDERS ARE NOT FOLLOWED BY STUDENTS

    The student will be asked by a school district employee to wear a face covering when six (6) feet of social distance cannot be maintained as per Wyoming State Health Orders

    -The student will be offered a school issued face covering to wear
    -The student will be asked by a school administrator to wear a face covering as per Wyoming State health Orders
    -The school administrator will offer the student a school issued face covering to wear
    -Parents/guardians will be notified that their student has refused to wear a face covering while at a K-12 facility when social distance cannot be maintained as per Wyoming State Health Orders
    -The student will be given the option of wearing a face covering
    Or
    -Enrolling in a virtual education program
    Or
    -Informing the district that they will be choosing a home school option

    Wear the mask or your little darlings are going to be home with you alllllllllll winter, bitches. Suit up.

    So glad I’ve removed myself from that drama.

    4
  98. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I think the Goodyear injunction included t-shirt and jackets with legends on them, not just hats. But whatever.

    I’ll bear that in mind with respect to the makgeolli.

  99. CSK says:

    Trump blew kisses to QAnon this afternoon. In fact, he stopped just short of officially endorsing them. As someone pointed out, he is constitutionally incapable of disavowing people who say they love him, even if those people are evil.

    This is beyond crazy.

    3
  100. Northerner says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    A very large percentage of modern technology (including the computers we’re using to communicate) were developed and made by people whose ethics wouldn’t pass current standards. And yet we still use those technologies. Why should it be any different for art? Take the good that people have to offer and reject the bad. Otherwise you’re going to end up rejecting most science and technology (the foundations for which go back several centuries at least, and made by individuals who for the most part followed the ethics of their day, including racism and sexism), and a very large portion of art, literature and music.

    As Shakespeare said in “Hamlet”, if we are treated according to our just deserts, none of us will escape whipping. Everyone has done some evil and some good. If doing evil means rejecting the associated good, then we’re going to have to start over again, because every good thing has come from someone who has also done bad things.

    6
  101. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I didn’t read any articles on it. I was just going by some conventional local wisdom about what people say constitutes “clothing.” I got no dog in the fight at all; I only note that when people attack policy statements, they look for ways to deconstruct the text. I read an article about the phenomenon back when law schools were calling it “critical legal theory.”

    ETA: Makgeolli goes especially well with galbi grilled at the table. We had galbi and makgeolli for the graduation dinner the year I taught at Luther University in Yong-in. I was a little surprised at how well they went together. At other galbi dinners that I had, we all drank beer, soju, or depth charges with soju.

  102. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Northerner: Reminds me of a song from my childhood:

    Because I used my talents as I could, I’ve done some bad and I’ve done some good/ I did a whole lot better than they thought I would, so come on and treat me like you should.

    1
  103. EddieInCA says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Lawrence of Arabia – portrayal of Muslims/Arabs.
    Key Largo – portrayal of “indians”
    Treasure of Sierra Madre – Racist towards Mexicans.
    Blazing Saddles – Too many to list.
    Animal House – Stutuatory rape, Underage sex.
    Silver Streak – Blackface
    Manhattan – Underage sex.
    Slap Shot – too many to list.
    Soul Man – Blackface
    Porky’s – underage sex
    American Pie – underage sex.

    1
  104. Kylopod says:

    @EddieInCA: The discussion was partly about whether these films could be remade today, and there’s a difference of degree in a lot of these examples. Silver Streak had one blackface scene, whereas it’s the entire plot of Soul Man. Therefore, the former could be remade while totally eliminating that problematic element, whereas it would be impossible to avoid in the latter.

    Also, many of the things we criticize about these films are still present in movies today. You mentioned the portrayal of Muslims/Arabs in Lawrence of Arabia, but I’m not sure Hollywood has improved a whole lot on that score since then, and the white-savior trope pervades movies to this day.

  105. EddieInCA says:

    @Kylopod:

    No.

    One blackface scene would be too much. Additionally, that wasn’t the only thing in “Silver Streak” what was offensive.

    To expand the conversation, there are a ton of classic movies that woudn’t be made today. “The Godfather” today would be an HBO or Netflix series, rather than three films. “The Sting” wouldn’t get made, because it wouldn’t appeal to the Chinese or world markets. “The Conversation” would be a small independent film. No studio would touch it. “Three Days of the Condor” would be a series (it actually is now). But things that were commonplace then, but unacceptable now, would keep many many movies from being made today.

  106. Kylopod says:

    @EddieInCA:

    No.

    One blackface scene would be too much.

    Why? Pay attention to what I said: I said that a movie with one blackface scene could be remade by eliminating that scene. It’s inessential to the film–unlike Soul Man, where the entire plot is built on this trope. Do you disagree with that? Or are you suggesting that one blackface scene disqualifies it from ever being remade even if it removes that scene? That strikes me as a curious position to take. A lot of movie remakes have eliminated or downplayed problematic elements in the original.

    Additionally, that wasn’t the only thing in “Silver Streak” what was offensive.

    Agreed. But I was responding to what you said–blackface was the only offensive element of that film that you mentioned. Still, I think the film’s other offensive elements would be relatively easy to discard if the film were to be remade. I could be wrong about this, as it’s been decades since I last saw it and I remember there was a range of racial stereotyping in the film–but not to the degree that it would be impossible to avoid if you were to remake it.

  107. EddieInCA says:

    @Kylopod:

    Forgive me for missing that point. Yes, without that scene, Silver Streak is still offensive. It preys on too many tropes.

    But… the bigger issue is that many of the movies of yesteryear wouldn’t/couldn’t be remade because audiences are so much different. “The Godfather” wouldn’t get made today as a film. If it was produced at all, it would be several seasons of a series on HBO or Netflix. “Game of Thrones” would have been a film 40 years ago, not a series. “The Sting”, “The Conversation”, “Blow Up”, “2001”, etc. All would have a tough time getting a greenlight these days. The world has changed. Audiences have changed. So has art. And good film is definitely art.

    But it’s not just film. Look at music. Could a singer record “You’re Sixteen. You’re Beautiful, And You’re Mine.” Or “Sexy and Seventeen”? “Kung Fu Fighting”? “Brown Sugar”? “Turning Japanese” If they did get produced, I doubt they’d get a major label release.

  108. DrDaveT says:

    @EddieInCA:

    “Three Days of the Condor” would be a series (it actually is now).

    As an aside, “Three Days of the Condor” just beats out “The Hunger” at the top of my all-time list of “Best films made from truly crappy books.” If a worse thriller than Five Days of the Condor was ever written*, I don’t want my eyeballs anywhere near it.

    *Dan Brown books don’t count — they’re in a class by themselves at the bottom, and the movies from them stink too.

  109. Kylopod says:

    @EddieInCA:

    “Game of Thrones” would have been a film 40 years ago, not a series.

    That gets into a slightly different topic. As a fan of the fantasy genre, I have noticed over the years that fantasy novels are extremely difficult for a feature-length movie to do justice to. There’s just something about the genre–the denseness of the world-building, perhaps. The problem is that traditionally TV series didn’t have big enough budgets to handle such material. And until the early 2000s with the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings films, producers weren’t willing to do fantasy films that approached 3-hour lengths. They reserved that for historical epics and the like, assuming that the primarily teen fan base for fantasies couldn’t sit on their butts for that long. And even the Potter and LOTR franchises had to do significant streamlining of the source materials to fit them into even that longer-than-average limit.

    So, for example, the movie The Neverending Story essentially chops the Michael Ende novel in half, stamps on a happily-ever-after ending, and doesn’t set up for a sequel. (The Wizard of Oz did more or less the same thing, but in that case it somehow worked.) Among the things that changed as the century rolled around was that they started making movies while fully committing themselves to future sequels, which would have been regarded as overly risky in the past. And soon they came out with the practice of dividing single novels into multiple films. I personally think Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows benefited from this practice, but pretty soon it emerged as a cynical cash grab, as in the Hobbit trilogy which took a single novel that was shorter than any one of the LOTR books and stretched it out to the length of the entirety of Jackson’s LOTR.

    And even these puffed-out adaptations often end up feeling choppy anyway. Stephen King’s It was divided into two movies, and the second was nearly three hours long–yet it still eliminated or shortchanged substantial portions of the novel. I was shocked how much they left out that the (very, very cheap, cheesy-looking, often badly acted) 1990 miniseries did include in a much shorter space.

    One of the ultimate examples for me of the problems of putting fantasies on the big screen is The Golden Compass. The 2007 film is very high quality in a technical sense–great cast, high production values–and yet it stinks to high heaven. Part of the problem was that the studio balked on including content that could offend Catholics, but the overarching flaw was that it simply couldn’t get the plot of the not-especially-long novel fit into the length of a feature. Much of the dialogue is exposition, and even then it ends up confusing to anyone who hasn’t read the books. The recent HBO series is, not surprisingly, a much more successful adaptation.

    The idea of GoT as feature films makes me cringe just thinking about it.

  110. CSK says:

    @DrDaveT:
    I remember reading The Da Vinci Code (because it was in the guest room where I was staying), finishing it, and thinking, “What the hell was that all about?”

  111. Jen says:

    @Kylopod: I agree with your analysis, but would expand it to most long books, especially series. I’m a fan of both the Outlander TV show and A Discovery of Witches TV show. These are based on big, 700+ page novels that are 8 novels (and counting) and 3 novels long, respectively. There’s no way either could have been made into a 2-hour feature length film without losing a lot (in fact, fans of the Outlander books still get bent out of shape when any little thing is changed from the novels–even if it is necessary to assist in the flow of the show).

    STARZ has pretty much made a name for itself by adapting books into series television. The White Queen, The White Princess, and The Spanish Princess are all based on Philippa Gregory novels, and they also did Neil Gaimen’s American Gods. I think a lot of novels work better as series TV rather than a movie.

  112. Kylopod says:

    @Jen: I’m also a fan of Outlander, but I see the show partly as a byproduct of the success of GoT, which provided a template for how lengthy novels could be adapted into lush, sprawling, expensive series that cover the books’ events in great detail. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that one of the stars is Tobias Menzies who had a supporting role in GoT. I’ve also spotted at least three instances when it seemed to be specifically imitating a sequence from GoT while departing from Gabaldon’s books. While the series is much less well-known than GoT and is considered to be more oriented toward a female audience, there’s a significant overlap in the fan base (George R.R. Martin himself is a fan), and I frequently find myself comparing the two in my head.

    And while some fans do get bent out of shape whenever the show departs from the source material, it can go in the other direction as well: for example, the decision to keep Murtagh alive past the second season was almost certainly in response to fan demands, even though it was a significant departure from the books. And I felt that Season 4 suffered not because it was different from the books but because it was often nonsensical and poorly written. Like the later seasons of GoT, it depended heavily on Idiot Plot, with characters acting in stupid and illogical ways just to move the plot along. Sometimes being faithful to the source material is a good thing, especially when these shows seem to lose their anchor as they gradually move away from the books.

    Another show I’ve been following is The Handmaid’s Tale, which I think demonstrates some of the problems when a book is adapted into an ongoing show, as opposed to a limited series. The first two seasons are riveting, then it promptly jumps the shark at the end of Season 2. It seems to be getting stuck in what TV Tropes calls the Anthropic Principle–the idea that certain story elements have to be there, or there’s no story. The show has gone to increasingly absurd lengths to justify continuing, instead of working logically toward some endgame. It’s basically the opposite extreme of books being given short shrift when adapted into feature films.