And ... they're out! I'm not a gambler, but looking at some of these odds I'm wondering why I'm not. There is some great value out there.
If you think you might not make it to the polls on May 11th, go out and vote early. In Mon County there are important primaries for the US House on both the Democratic and Republican ballots, as well as races for the County Commission and the House of Delegates.
Now that is a good movie - though perhaps not the best choice for those facing a loss in the family, or related stresses. But this film by Olivier Assayas is yet another example of the sad fact that if you want to watch a good movie about real people, sadly you'll probably be watching a movie made outside the US. If it's about anything it's how we give up, or don't, the past, and navigate both the big and little moments. Looks beautiful too, though given that it's told about decisions relating to a pretty home and an art collection, that's only fitting.
For the second year in a row the winner of the Wood Memorial and would-have-been favorite in the Kentucky Derby is being pulled out of the Run for the Roses due to a health problem. In his place trainer Todd Pletcher is now expected to run the talented filly Devil May Care.
UPDATE: And now WinStar Farm's Rule isn't going to run either (he's instead being pointed to the Preakness). While not a favorite, I really liked Rule.
The last time I left a theater knowing it'd be a long time again before I saw a movie as good as the one I just watched? That'd be when I walked out of The Hurt Locker. The Ghost Writer was superb, if also incredibly old-fashioned. It's very much of that old school of political thrillers like The Parallax View. And it's effectively filled throughout with a suffocating, squirm-inducing tension. It's a great piece of film making, with all too real turns by the cast.
And as an aside, that house is f-ing gorgeous. That was a beautiful piece of construction.
So some people on the left have decried the possibility of a Kagan nomination to the Supreme Court because she has argued in favor of expansive powers for the president in her role as Solicitor General. Walter Dellinger jumps to her defense with the argument that ... she loves presidential power. But while lovin' presidential power, she is nonetheless opposed to presidents breaking the law. Really Mr. Dellinger? That's the best you can do when it comes to defending her record? You want progressives to jump for joy because her love of a strong presidency doesn't mean she favors lawlessness too? Me, I don't think that's much of a defense of her.
UPDATE: Greenwald takes on this weak defense of Kagan (and other weak defenses of Kagan) here.
So our college will be featuring a former president as its commencement speaker this year. He will also be getting an honorary degree. I understand why the school would want to do this - it'll bring it money and attention, and I could even buy the argument that that will bring it more students. But as a general matter I think it's a questionable idea that is unfair to to the students, friends, and families in attendance who are deeply opposed to the politician who is speaking, whoever that politician might be. And if a school brings in one politician, and forces the whole crowd to sit there while they speak, before they get their diplomas, well who is to say that for another commencement they might not bring in another politician?
It appears that the White House was gutless. And even though Specter is likely to win, and even though Sestak is supposedly personally unpleasant, this is another reminder that I hope the retired admiral takes down the five-term incumbent in PA's primary next month.
I know nothing about what's going on in the White House, but why not make some guesses, right? Play along if you wish.
The favorites - Diane Wood and Elena Kagan. Definite possibilities - Jennifer Granholm and Elizabeth Warren. Intriguing long-shots - Teresa Roseborough and Sheldon Whitehouse.
As to some other names, given the extent to which the president has criticized the turns in campaign finance decisions from the Court, I can't see Kathleen Sullivan being nominated. Pam Karlan? If the White House leaves Dawn Johnsen dangling, I don't see them fighting for Karlan. I do think a bold move to the center/right is much more Obama than a bold move to the left. But I don't think Ed Whelan and other Righties are doing Merrick Garland any favors among Democrats by so publicly embracing him as the man they won't filibuster.
For those of you who are now going to enter betting pools on who the nominee to replace him will be, keep in mind that according to this New York Times story, this was the short-list of candidates who were considered for the Court last year:
In the end, the White House considered nine candidates. In addition to Judges Sotomayor and Wood, officials said they were Solicitor General Elena Kagan; Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano; Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm of Michigan; Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears of the Georgia Supreme Court; Justice Carlos R. Moreno of the California Supreme Court; Judge Merrick B. Garland of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; and Judge Ruben Castillo of Federal District Court in Illinois.
Can you say "awards bait"? I finally watched Lone Scherfig's much-lauded film from last year, and no wonder it was so widely praised. Pretty people learn life lessons from only marginally less pretty people in a period piece with great costumes, a strong but conventional script, and a bright but still bait-y score? How could that go wrong with awards givers? I don't mean to belittle the film's achievements. It's a very good movie, and I'm rather surprised Ms. Scherfig didn't catch on as an Oscar nominee herself (though of course there've been extremely few women awarded nominations - only 4, including this year's winner). But as well as being of a high quality, it's also rather conventional.
There's not a single thing about it that I didn't like. It's strong across the board. If I had to pick out a favorite thing though, it'd have to be the acting (though the directing, costumes, score, the way it's shot - it's all strong). There's not a single weak or middling turn in the film. Everyone is good. And several of the actors are very good. Rosamund Pike and Olivia Williams would be my favorites from among the supporting players, but again, everyone is good. And of course the lead, Sally Sparrow (err, Carey Mulligan), is excellent. Can't wait to see her in more films.
If I had any problems with it they'd be matters of casting. Mulligan doesn't look or act like she's a teenager in the 1960s. She's excellent, but if they were going for someone who could capture the veracity of a sixteen year-old, sorry, I'm not buying that. And I really don't know why they felt compelled to cast an American (Peter Sarsgaard) opposite her. It's not that he's bad, but that casting too seemed a touch off. But regardless of any minor flaws or misses, on the whole this was a very well-done film, and I'm surprised it fell out of the discussion as something that could win Best Picture so quickly.
A couple weeks ago I noticed a map that flies in the face of the narrative of the Democratic Party put forward by both the chattering class and a fair number of academics. I knew Jimmy Carter was strong in the South, but I didn't realize how strong. He won the 1976 election by basically sweeping the South, winning every single former slave state except for Virginia. Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, both Carolinas, Missouri, Kentucky, etc. all voted for Carter. To learn more about how this happened I decided to read the definitive journalistic account of the 1976 election, which was written by Jules Witcover. There are lots of interesting historical tidbits in it from George Wallace winning Boston in the 1976 Democratic primary, to the size of Bob Shrum's ego (even way back then), to just how unloved a national candidate Scoop Jackson was, no matter how much the DC and national security establishments loved him. But something I did not realize is that in practice there were two separate Democratic races in the primary season that year. In the first part of the race Carter essentially had the center to himself, with Wallace to his right, and several candidates (Udall, Bayh, Harris, Shriver) dividing up the vote to his left. Then late in the race, with Carter barreling forward towards the nomination, and Udall the only original candidate still campaigning against him, two major candidates (Senator Frank Church of Idaho and Governor Jerry Brown of California) entered the race in May. May! It's unthinkable that something like that would be attempted today. Church and Brown were game competitors who won several of the late contests, but Carter was already so far ahead that winning one of the last big contests (Ohio) was enough to give him the nomination. It was such an odd nomination campaign that I am a little surprised people drew lasting lessons out of it for so long.
An interesting list. It makes me wonder what the senatorial succession laws are in Rhode Island, and happily it's a little broader than the same three names that are in every article on this subject. Sure, the pick is possibly or even probably going to be one of those three names, but only discussing them can be a dull conversation for reasons noted here.
The Archbishop of San Antonio will take over the Church's biggest pastoral (and administrative) post in the US..
In the process, the Mexican-born prelate - the lone American bishop professed as a numerary (full member) of Opus Dei - will make history, becoming the first Hispanic prelate to, in time, receive the red hat of a cardinal at the helm of a Stateside diocese.
Given that the Catholic Church in the US will soon be majority-Hispanic I imagine that Archbishop Gomez's ethnicity will be the big story out of this appointment. But the replacement of perhaps the most "liberal" US cardinal (not that there's much competition for that position) with a young (by Church standards) successor who'll soon be one of the few cardinals who are members of Opus Dei - that could be a story too.
They got a prime week for it, but what's up with their finalists? Tampa - hurricanes. Phoenix - hotter than the sun. Salt Lake City - awfully Mormon for them, no? I'd guess they'll go with the city in Florida and hope that unlike the convention 2 years ago they don't have to cancel a day on account of hurricane season.
"Bears are godless killing machines."
I'd say these stories make it clear he will be making that announcement shortly. You don't generally hold so many interviews about a possible retirement unless you are going to retire (well, presuming you aren't a professional athlete or a celebutante of some sort). And if that's the decision he's made, he really should do it soon so that hearings can be scheduled promptly for the summer.
By the way, is the president going to ever nominate anyone to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals? It's often described as the second most important court in the country, it's got a Republican majority among its judges (heck it's current Chief, since Douglas Ginsburg stepped down early to allow him to fill the position, is a an old bestie of Jesse Helms), and yet the president still hasn't nominated anyone to fill the vacancies on it.
UPDATE: John Cole is right, Sen. Specter's comments, hoping Specter retires in '11 instead, are freakin' nuts. It'll be easier to replace Justice Stevens when the Democrats have a smaller majority and when the Republicans are in the middle of a presidential primary? Riiiiight.
I knew popes could resign their office, but I wasn't aware that one could be pope so many times.
And predictably dead-white-male historians would consider the nadir of the papacy to have been when it was influenced by women. Still, I have to give props to whomever came up with the term "pornocracy" for that period.