The Presidental Race Tightens

Two candidates abandoned their bids for the White House, today.

First, Rudy “9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11” Giuliani, who was the national frontrunner as recently as four months ago:

thank god

Some say that he ran a poor campaign, but I think the whole thing was a painstakingly orchestrated business move. Having learned, in wake of September 11th, that he could make astronomical speaking fees for being associated with disaster, he figured another debacle on his resume could only help.

And we also bid farewell to John “Wait, you’re running for president?” Edwards:

Thanks, you two

Edwards said the decision to withdraw was a tough one, but he wanted to devote more time to his 2012 presidential campaign.

The Lesser

Sometime people who read my site ask for advice. I guess that’s redundant–obviously anyone who asks me for advice would have to be a reader, as anyone who has met me in real life would know better.

Long time reader here... I'm in SC and an pretty much an independent in terms of politics. I chose not to vote in the Republican primary as all of them turn my stomach and will vote in this Saturday's Democratic primary instead. I am thinking of my vote as more of a vote against Hillary than a vote for anyone. What are your thoughts in terms of this and who do you think is the lesser of two evils: Edwards or Obama? I am leaning towards Edwards, the bajillionaire attorney suckling on the teet of Big Tobacco vs Obama. Anyway, I actually find your insight on politics more understandable, interesting, and insightful than the most pundits. So if you could spare a moment and share your thoughts, that'd be great. :)

Warm regards,


My reply:


The conservative argument against taxes, in a nutshell, is this: it is fairer and more efficient if people are allowed to keep their own money to spend on those things they know they need, rather than to require them to hand it over to a Government to spend on what it thinks the citizenry needs. Given what you've told me, i would encourage you to vote for Obama for essentially the same reason.

Of the remaining Democratic candidates, Edwards is, in my opinion, the most suited for the presidency. But if the last few weeks have shown us anything, it's (a) Edwards is not going to win, and (b) he's not going to drop out going to drop out on Wednesday, January 30th, you heard it here first. So why is remaining in the race at all. Many (including myself) think it's to become a kingmaker, of sorts; if neither Clinton or Obama collect enough delegates to win the nomination (a majority), Edwards could offer his accumulated delegates to one of them in exchange for something he wants: the vice-presidency, the inclusion of one of his signature issues into their platform, or the like.

Now, if you really like Edwards or the issues he fights for, then voting for him still makes sense, as it might result in his going to the White House as Veep, or having his signature issues adopted by whomever becomes the eventual nominee. But if your goal is simply to ensure that Hillary doesn't get the nod, then it's obvious to me that you should vote for Obama. After all, any votes (and, by extension, delegates) that go to Edwards could wind up in Hillary's ledger eventually, if Edwards brokers a deal with her at some point, drops out and endorses her, etc.

I'm glossing over a lot, here (like the fact that Edwards can't simply "give" his delegates to someone else), but the gist of it is this: you can "spend" your vote on Obama, or you can give it to Edwards and run the risk that he might "spend" it on a candidate you don't really want.


At least I was conscientious enough to send my advice today, after South Carolina primary, to make it unactionable.

By the way, I’m completely sympathetic to the idea that people ought to be able to vote for whomever they choose, even for someone (like Edwards) who seemingly doesn’t have a hope of winning. I agree! People ought to be able to do that! But the point is largely academic until this nation implements instant runoff voting, something I would love to see in my lifetime.

AFI 100: King Kong

I’m only and hour into the 100 minute King Kong, but I’m so bored that I figured I may as well start typing. According to the AFI, this film is one of cinema’s “greatest,” but, to paraphrase Inigo Montoya, I do not think that word means what they think it means. I’m guessing that, in this case, the ol’ double-k got the nod for being one of the most influential films of all time, but lord knows that ‘s not the same as greatness. Needless to say the special effects are outmoded, but I don’t hold that against the film. After all, the quality of a movie shouldn’t be judged by the caliber of its effects–which is exactly the point: strip them away from King Kong and you’re not left with much. The acting ranges from workaday to wretched, and while the plot is moderately interesting, the middle third, which serves only to showcase the Amazing Stopmotion Animation!!!, is interminable if you don’t find the f/x breathtaking. I will give the film props for lethality, though: I assumed that all death in this film would take place off camera, if at all, but, no, kong fucks up half a battalion of folks with extreme prejudice. The subtext of the film–that the real monsters are the humans, while Kong just wants to live in peace–is intriguing; too bad the filmmaker doesn’t do much with it. Maybe Peter Jackson utilizes the material better in his 2005 remake. 5/10.

Yeah, chickened out of watching Sophie’s Choice this week. I will try to work up the nerve to do so next.

Oscar Pool Page

Yes, I’ll set it up the Do-it-yourself Oscar Pool Page again this year. It will be online Friday. Ha! Who am I kidding? It will likely be online Monday.

Thank The Maker

To: Matthew Baldwin
Subject: Matthew McConaughey's new onscreen romance

Dear Matthew,

I made this last night after walking past the movie poster for Fool's Gold and thinking there was something odd looking about Kate Hudson. When I suddenly figured out what it was, my partner wasn't buying my theory, so to make my case I had to "augment" the image to bring out its true spirit.

Now I'm no photoshop wiz, so I was pretty pleased with the way this one came out. I wanted to share it with more people, but it's so nerdy! Also, I don't have a blog. Anyway I thought you'd appreciate it! Feel free to post it as a reader contribution, though please don't credit me if you do.


I don’t understand why someone would decline credit for this, but I’m not one to say no to free content.

AFI 100: Bringing Up Baby & City Lights

It was Ye Olde Tymey Romantick Comedy night in the Baldwin household this evening.

Bringing Up Baby: Knowing nothing about this film beyond the title, I assumed it was just the “oh no, we’re pregnant!” film of its era, a 1938 version of Knocked Up minus the lingering shots of Seth Rogen’s ass. As it turns out, “Baby,” in this case, is a leopard, which the brother of Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) has sent from Brazil to Connecticut as a gift to — ahh, you know what? The leopard doesn’t really matter. It’s really just one of this screwball comedy’s endless MacGuffins designed to throw Vance and Dr. David Huxley (Cary Grant) into a succession of zany situations. Lots of funny scenes (this restaurant bit, particularly from 5:37 on, is particularly inspired) and great lines (“Susan, you’ve got to get out of this apartment!” Huxley exclaims when he discovers the leopard in her room. “I can’t,” Vance explains, “I’ve got a lease.”), but very little plot to tie it all together. Hypothetically the narrative is Huxley and Vance falling in love, but as Vance loves Huxley at first sight and Huxley is never given a reason to want to spend another moment, much less the rest of his life, in the company of Vance (aside from the fact that she’s Katharine Freakin’ Hepburn, obviously), this framing device is paper thin. Thus, the film feels less like a long, funny story and more like a standup comedy routine, a series of setup-straightline-punchline scenes just gummed together with a resolution tacked onto the end for the sake of closure. Which is fine, but wears thin at around the 45 minute mark–about half this film’s running time. 6.5/10

City Lights: I was prepared to stoically endure this Charlie Chaplin “comedy” for the sake of checking it off my list, but holy smokes, I can’t remember the last film that made me laugh this hard. Chaplin is so masterful that the gags succeed even when you see them coming a mile away–you know what the joke is going to be, but nothing can prepare you for Chaplin’s sublime execution (e.g., the “Spaghetti Scene”, which starts at 2:10 in this clip). Slapstick usually leaves me cold (I’ve never understood the appeal of the Three Stooges, for instance), but Chaplin imbues each pratfall with so much humanity that you feel like watching a close friend fall through an open manhole–now that’s funny! I could level the same charge against City Lights that I did against Bringing Up Baby–it’s more of a collection of sketches than a cohesive narrative–but the central premise, Chaplin falling for a blind flower girl, is so bittersweet that it pervaded every shot, making the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Plus, the final scene is amazing. 8/10

The next film in the AFI 100 Project will be … oh, god. Sophie’s Choice. If I’m going to break this resolution, I guess now’s the time to do it.

Social Skills

Raising an autistic child is a little different than raising a neurotypical. For instance, the other day The Queen and I had this exchange:

Me: Squiggle is getting really good at talking to strangers.

The Queen: I know, isn’t it great?

And today there was this:

Me: How was the library?

The Queen: Okay, but there was little boy about Squiggles age playing with the puzzles. And when Squiggle tried to play with him, and the boy said “No, go away” and Squiggle cried.

Me: My son got his feelings hurt and cried in public? Yes! High five!!

In other words, we work hard to inculcate in Squiggle the same behaviors and emotional responses that the mass media seems determined to eradicate from everyone else.