Friday, November 11, 2016

5 Things on a Friday: Templating Trump’s America

I didn’t get what I wanted on Tuesday, but I’m still an American, and what I want more than anything is for this country to come back together to find some common ground.  We need to move forward.  In reading the coverage since the election, however, it seems that we’re more divided now than we have been at any other time in my entire life.  I honestly don’t know what to do with that.
Protesting doesn’t help.  You had your chance at the ballot box, and you failed.  That’s life.  The question is—what do you do now?
Jim Webb's signature issue turned this election.
As I’ve watched people melt down this week, I’ve wondered if maybe this isn’t the first time some of these folks have lost an election in which they had an actual stake.  For me, it’s not.  I watched helplessly as George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton in the immediate aftermath of America’s most successful overseas conflict just as the economy was turning around following an extremely minor recession.  In that case, America turned away from a guy who left Yale as a teenager to fight the Japanese, who’d served as Ambassador to China and Director of the CIA, in favor of a mildly successful serial philanderer from Arkansas.  We were still dealing with the aftereffects of that disastrous decision up until the polls closed Tuesday night.  America then re-elected Clinton over war hero Bob Dole, elected George W. Bush over Al Gore, who had at least served with Combat Camera in Vietnam, and then again over John Kerry, who won a Silver Star.  We picked Obama over John McCain, and this past year we wouldn’t even give Democrat Jim Webb—Marine Corps veteran, bestselling author, and former Sec. of the Navy—so much as a hearing in the primaries despite the reality that his signature issue was the plight of America’s rural poor and working classes.  
I don’t know if you noticed, but that became kind of an important issue.
The takeaway?  Americans may put bumper stickers on their cars to support veterans, but they don’t give half-a-shit about their leaders’ commitment to service.  Hell, today is Veterans’ Day, and most Americans don’t even have the day off.  My kids both have school.  And here we are.  All these years later, our nation’s wanton disregard of service has come home for all of us.  
I hope you’re happy with how that’s turning out.

The truth of the matter is Marvel is approaching its movies like TV, but A) No one else is doing this and B) Their track record is undeniable. They have had 14 consecutive #1 debuts, and in terms of quality, 10 consecutive movies to earn an A CinemaScore from audiences. They consistently make large-scale, blockbuster films that a vast majority of audiences (and a fair amount of critics) find pleasing, and they’re running like clockwork. That’s pretty spectacular…
The sticking point, for me at least, is that while I may not always love what Marvel is doing, it’s something no one else is doing. Their TV-like approach to the MCU is unique—heck, before The Avengers there was no such thing as an “inter-connected cinematic universe.” Plenty of other studios are now trying to launch their own franchise worlds to varying degrees of success, and we may indeed reach a saturation point between the MCU, the DC Films, even the Universal Monsters Universe. But for now, knowing that there exists the possibility of making auteur-driven blockbuster cinema elsewhere makes me OK with Marvel’s brand of filmmaking.
Not much to add to this, but it’s refreshing for a critic to take the low road on the grounds that it’s entertaining.  The fact that this was a novel approach has also been lost of late, though it oughtn’t be overlooked.
Knowing the rulebook, and how to stretch that rulebook, is one of Richard Sherman’s distinct advantages on the field. It’s also an advantage that leads to weird, out-of-the-ordinary-looking plays, like a disjointed field goal block attempt that even the refs didn’t know what to do with.
The same goes for the grabbing and holding and arguing with officials over the course of 60 minutes, putting pressure on the other human element of the game…
On Monday night, though, Sherman attempted to make two smart plays in high-leverage situations. Each ended up being weird and controversial, and each worked out in Seattle’s favor.
That shouldn’t make you mad at Sherman, though. It should, however, make you mad at the officials who, as a result of Sherman doing something just a tad bit out of the ordinary, completely bungled the play clock and entire end of half situation on their own.
Under pressure, the officials were the ones that folded.
Fascinating article about one of the more interesting players in the NFL.  I didn’t watch any of this game, but it’s clear that there were officiating mistakes.  What’s odd is that Sherman forced those mistakes on purpose to his own advantage.  That advantage is hardly “unfair”.
I should note, too, that the pictures in this piece are well worth a look if you like football.  Sherman really played it well, for all that he put the ref’s in a tough spot.
Mr. Trump will probably find common ground with many Republicans in Congress, including Speaker Paul D. Ryan, on cutting regulation. They clashed during the campaign over Mr. Trump’s past conduct toward women and inflammatory statements about ethnic groups, and many Republicans do not see eye to eye with Mr. Trump on immigration and trade.
“But Ryan and Trump are like-minded on regulation in a way they are not on trade and immigration,” said Ted Gayer, director of the economic studies program at the Brookings Institution and a former Treasury official under President George W. Bush. “That is red meat for both of them.”
The article posits a bunch of potential changes to current policy, including a wide variety of rollbacks on various industry regulations.  The one that’s most likely, at least in the near term, is a total abandonment of climate change efforts.  Beyond that, it looks like Trump’s presidency will be hyper-friendly to management and much less so to common workers.  The exact nature of finance deregulation remains to be seen, but Wall Street rallied yesterday.  A whole raft of people appear poised for a new era of unregulated investment.
Speaking personally, I’m slowly coming around to the reality that my little family is likely to do very well under Trump, for better or worse.  However, if you don’talready have a decent job and a bit of money stashed away, I think you might be in for a hard time of it.
Throughout the campaign, Russia rooted for Trump as much as any other foreign country. According to the White House, Moscow also interfered as much as any other foreign country ever has in a U.S. election. But the Kremlin’s commentators — convinced that Hillary Clinton was going to win — had also trashed the U.S. election as dirty, corrupt and unable to produce a legitimate result.
Now that their man was in, and with Russian TV showing cheery Americans lining up to vote for Trump, they had to change their tune…
Okay, so the U.S. had a real election with real consequences.  It happens that the would-be pro-Moscow candidate won.  But then:
Public gloating aside, the long-term implications of a Trump presidency for the Kremlin are unclear. The two countries share years of bad blood and a basket of geopolitical grievances. A shortened list includes the conflict in Syria, the 2014 annexation of Crimea, U.S. economic sanctions and a military buildup on both sides of Russia’s border with NATO. In just one night recently, NATO warplanes intercepted Russian jets 13 times.
Is a change of presidents going to make all that go away? Despite Trump’s promises to seek warmer relations, the warier commentators and officials in Moscow were skeptical.
It’s an interesting question.  Trump and Putin both see themselves as Alphas.  If Trump at some point decides that he has been played for a fool, this supposed friendship could get a lot more pointed.  Unless mutual business interests get in the way, which is perhaps more likely all the way around.
The Armata tracked fighting platform is Russia's new Main Battle Tank.  It's an excellent 
piece of gear when all of its systems are functioning, but American experts have been 
skeptical of Russia's ability to field it effectively in the numbers projected.
At the end of the day, I think most Americans don’t give a shit about anything that’s not happening inside America’s borders.  That’s certainly the way they voted.  To the extent that this helps recruiting for the U.S. Military Academy’s sports teams, then I guess I’m all for it.  What else can I do?  
If folks want their Army to sit around with its thumb up its ass, who am I to complain?  In any event, I don’t think we’re gonna be fighting anybody anytime soon… unless somebody bombs Pearl Harbor.
Ascendent again after all these years.
President-elect Donald Trump does not have the traditional cadre of Washington insiders and donors to build out his Cabinet, but his transition team has spent the past several months quietly building a short list of industry titans and conservative activists who could comprise one of the more eclectic and controversial presidential Cabinets in modern history.
I realize this is a big ask, but do you know when was the last time America got a true outsider in Washington, who brought a true outsider’s cabinet?  It was 1976.  Annapolis graduate Jimmy Carter came to power and brought the so-called “Peanut Mafia” with him from his home state of Georgia.
For those keeping score, that didn’t go so well.
Trump’s list is perhaps a little less parochial, but if we’re down to rooting for Newt Gingrich to become Sec. State, well, that’s a long way to fall.  Most of the rest doesn’t bother me too much, but if Rudi Giuliani does indeed become Attorney General, I daresay the Prison-Industrial Complex is about to get a bit of a pay raise.  Continued militarization of the police looks to be the order of the day.
That’s all I’ve got.  My prayers go out to our benevolent overlord, Donald J. Trump, as he prepares to seize the reins of power and put his ineffable stamp on American history.
God help us all.

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