Saturday, October 25, 2014
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Could there be any candidate for Congress more phony than Senate candidate Scott Brown? Any one?
Debating incumbent Jeanne Shaheen on Tuesday night, Brown, who had moved to New Hampshire to run for the Senate, was asked by NBC's Chuck Todd why he is running in the Granite State after he lost his Massachusetts seat in 2012 to Democrat Elizabeth Warren. The Concord Monitor reported
“Because I live here,” Brown said, explaining that his mother worked as a waitress on Hampton Beach and his father worked in the state as an airman. “I have long and strong ties. I’m running because I care about New Hampshire and care about restoring America. That’s why I’m running.”
The audience laughed, though far less than the candidate deserved. Brown, who has run a commercial arguing that President Obama and Senator Shaheen "don't understand" the terrorist threat, was reminded by Todd that he had "suggested that the Islamic militant group ISIS could come across the U.S. border, in fact, saying that is, quote 'the most obvious pathway for terrorists to enter our country.'" So Scott Brown was asked ” What is the evidence for that assertion? We've had terrorists come across the border, the north of the border. "
Brown responded "with respect, I did not say that. What I have said is that ISIS is real." Yet David Weigel points out that last month the Repub had claimed "these ISIS thugs have been saying for months that they’re going to send people here to kill Americans on as big a scale as they can, and never mind that a porous border is the most obvious pathway for terrorists to enter our country.”
Then there is climate change. Grist's Ben Adler notes of Brown
During his 12 years in the Massachusetts state legislature, from 1998 to 2010, he voted for strong state limits on greenhouse gases and in favor of forming the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a carbon-trading system for Northeast states. In 2007, the Massachusetts Audubon Society gave him a perfect rating on its scorecard.
Soon afterward, unfortunately, Scott Brown became a Repub on the national stage and accepted gobs of money from the fossil fuel industry. He voted for oil subsidies and against higher fuel standards and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. As of his (losing) re-election campaign in 2012, he had whittled down his acceptance of scientific fact, maintaining "I do believe man plays a role." Two years later, he now denies climate change is scientifically proven.
When Lindsay Graham, stoking additional fear of ISIS, declares "this president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed here at home," he appears almost to believe it. Anyway, he's a Senator from South Carolina and may need to compensate for a suspected sexual orientation differing from the majority of his constituents.
However, Cosmo Scott (second and third photographs, below, from the AP) does not need to compensate, he's from the (relatively) liberal northeast, and he played a progressive previously. Not so now, and the editors of Cosmopolitan magazine wrote in September, "Scott Brown may have been Cosmopolitan’s ‘sexiest man’ in 1982, but in 2014, we’re picking brains over brawn — and that’s Jeanne Shaheen,”
But Scott Brown, positioning himself between what he once was (or posed as) and what his party now demands, joining Chris Christie as a Repub who believes in nothing other than himself. Or as Adler figures, "either Scott Brown was lying in 2012, or he is lying now, or he doesn’t really believe in anything at all. (I’d put my money on the latter.) "
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Esquire Magazine has labeled Penelope Cruz "the sexiest woman alive" and as you can see below, it's not a bad choice, nor is it the worst thing to be labeled.
Or perhaps it is a bad choice. Not because of Ms. Cruz's politics, which are, as applied to the Mideast, abhorrent.
In July, Ms. Cruz joined "dozens of Spanish film stars, directors, musicians and writers" in signing an open letter apparently penned by her husband, fellow actor Javier Bardem, condemning the Israeli incursion into Gaza. Ms. Cruz and Mr. Bardem (especially) faced much criticism, including from Hollywood screen directors, who even threatened to cut off business with the couple, which will probably work until they look at their bottom line.
Subtly entitling the letter "Genocide," Mr. Barden declared the Israeli actions "a war of occupation and extermination" and described as "disgraceful that western countries are permitting such genocide." He noted "my son was born in a Jewish hospital because I have very dear close friends who are Jewish." Some of us choose a hospital because it's close, takes our insurance, or has a particularly good reputation. Barden selects one associated with the religion of his friends. Hollywood celebrities are different.
The actor maintained additionally "I also work in the U.S. where I have a lot of Jewish friends and acquaintances" ("who reject" Israeli policies). His effort at inoculating himself against charges of anti-Semitism should fall upon deaf ears of Americans old enough to recall people pleading, as once was the fashion, "some of my best friends are colored." Be forgiving: it was far more discreet and diplomatic than wearing a white sheet.
Not all, or even most, criticism of Israeli actions constitutes anti-Semitism. Let's put aside those leaflets Israeli forces typically showered upon areas to be bombed, giving residents at least some time to evacuate. Accusing a nation of genocide and pursing extermination when said nation is a nuclear power which invaded a country, then stopped and agreed to a cease-fire as it was attaining military success, is well over the top. It is so patently inaccurate (as well as obviously incendiary) that it fails to qualify as anti-Semitic only when compared to promiscuously labeling Jews as "k_ _ _ _.," which even in Mr. Barden's case would have been deleterious to a career
Still, signing a ridiculous letter penned by her husband should not be (and wasn't) sufficient to disqualify Penelope Cruz as being selected the sexiest woman alive. Fortunately, there is something, to merit.
Nonetheless, it is extremely unlikely that Penelope Cruz is the sexiest woman in the world, and probably not even the second sexiest. (Must we say sexiest woman alive? The competition from corpses is limited.) Ms. Cruz may be the sexiest female celebrity, more impressively the sexiest female public figure, or at best the sexiest woman working in the United States of America.
But Ms. Cruz, it is safe to say, is not the sexiest woman anywhere in the world. In the USA alone, there is very likely a female college student, waitress, engineer, lawyer, retail clerk, truck driver, teacher, or homemaker who is sexier. She faces huge odds.
And that is only in the U.S. There are approximately 196 countries, as well as numerous territories and colonies, in the world. Somewhere, there is a sexier woman, be it in Belgium, Zaire, Thailand, Palestine, or in 200 or so other places. We don't know where, but she is somewhere.
Penelope Cruz's talent is justifiably enjoyed and admired by millions of Americans and her beauty is appreciated, inevitably and understandably, by millions more. But her selection, added to that of prior winners Jessice Biel, Scarlett Johansson, Kate Beckinsale, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Minka Kelly, and Halle Berry, make clear the bias toward Americans- and much more so members of the Hollywood community.
Esquire is not alone, as People magazine and others exhibit similar ethnocentrism, a partiality for individuals who make their bones entertaining us in the west. (And People is worse- its Most Beautiful List is all women. Quite a coincidence.) So let us celebrate the physical beauty of those women and men we know and love. But let's not pretend that we have reason to believe they are the sexiest human beings in the world.