Felicity Jones is shy but relentless as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in ‘On the Basis of Sex’ | Mick LaSalle – Datebook – San Francisco Chronicle

David Lindsay: I have good news about the State of Our Union. Kathleen and I today celebrate our 5th year anniversary of relationship.
Also, we decided to skip Trump’s state of his union speech last night, and instead we went to see “On the Basis of Sex,” the fabulous and inspiring docudrama of how the Ginsbergs stole Christmas from the reactionary, keep the women in their place crowd, back in 1972, represented in the film by Sam Waterson. Furthermore, if you are near New Haven CT, the film will be at the Criterion New Haven for another week. Metacritic.com gave this film an aggregate 60, which was a crime. But their numbers are always suspect, since they are not generated by the critic, but by a reader at Metacritic. Scott of the NYT gave the film a rave review in my mind, and the reader scored the review as a 60! What is wrong with Metacritic.
There was a good piece in the NYT today about Trump’s lies last night, which I decided not to post. You don’t need to read it, but for reference, it is:
State of the Union Fact Check: What Trump Got Right and Wrong
President Trump appeared in front of a joint session of Congress for the annual address. Here is how his remarks stacked up against the facts.
https://www.nytimes.com/…/fact-check-state-of-the-union.htm…

Mick LaSalle 

Like Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself, the movie about her life, “On the Basis of Sex,” sneaks up slowly, growing steadily in estimation, until a point is reached, not at the end but well into the proceedings, that it’s all downright inspiring. Here’s the story of a woman who not only shaped the journey of women in the second half of the 20th century, but whose life embodied that journey.That life translates well into the movie medium, in that Ginsburg’s story from her days at Harvard Law School through her appointment to the Supreme Court has the built-in narrative structure of a dramatic film. As in a rags-to-riches tale, Ginsburg starts off underestimated. She’s quiet, she’s little, and she’s female, and few will recognize her brilliance. She’s constantly blocked and put down and experiences doubts and disappointment, but she eventually emerges as a figure of fame and permanent importance.“On the Basis of Sex” makes you feel the cost it took to build this life, the years and years of work, in the face of almost monolithic resistance. Interestingly, and this feels intrinsically true, the movie shows that the obstacles Ginsburg faced often came from her closest male allies, who, after all, were steeped in the very same culture as her political foes. Ginsburg was at a disadvantage with these men, not only because she was a woman, but also because she was mild of temperament, not someone who could easily put herself forward. However, she did have the most significant advantage in her favor: She was smarter than everybody else.She had the further benefit of a supportive, understanding husband, whose outgoing personality complemented her watchful reserve. The old line that behind every great man is a great woman sometimes goes the other way, and so “On the Basis of Sex” is also the saga of an exceptional marital partnership.

Source: Felicity Jones is shy but relentless as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in ‘On the Basis of Sex’ | Datebook

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Opinion | The Empty Quarters of U.S. Politics – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Paul Krugman
By Paul Krugman, Opinion Columnist

Feb. 4, 2019, 606
Howard Schultz, the coffee billionaire, who imagined that he could attract broad support as a “centrist,” turns out to have an approval rating of 4 percent, versus 40 percent disapproval.

Ralph Northam, a Democrat who won the governorship of Virginia in a landslide, is facing a firestorm of denunciation from his own party over racist images on his medical school yearbook page.

Donald Trump, who ran on promises to expand health care and raise taxes on the rich, began betraying his working-class supporters the moment he took office, pushing through big tax cuts for the rich while trying to take health coverage away from millions.

These are, it turns out, related stories, all of them tied to the two great absences in American political life.

One is the absence of socially liberal, economically conservative voters. These were the people Schultz thought he could appeal to; but basically they don’t exist, accounting for only around, yes, 4 percent of the electorate.

The other is the absence of economically liberal, socially conservative politicians — let’s be blunt and just say “racist populists.” There are plenty of voters who would like that mix, and Trump pretended to be their man; but he wasn’t, and neither is anyone else.

Understanding these empty quarters is, I’d argue, the key to understanding U.S. politics.”

David Lindsay on Facebook: I’ve just posted some excellent articles about the enviromnent to blogs 1 & 2, which are now set up to repost at my Facebook pages for those same blogs, listed under pages I manage. Here is a Paul Krugman piece I enjoyed immensely, though commenters are tearing it apart by disecting its small imperfections, rather than appreciating his deeper truths. What I liked most, was a comment to Krugman’s swashbuckling analysis that expressed my deep concern that the Democrast are destroying themselves, when they decide to hound Governor Northam out of office in Virginia:
Trajan The Real Heartland Times Pick
“Democrats love to eat their own. We have one of the most racist presidents to ever hold office in modern times, yet some Democrats are going after Northam over some dumb stunt that happened decades ago. Is he a good leader NOW? Does he support good policies NOW? Is Northam’s behavior really any worse (blackface versus sexual misconduct) than someone who just got a seat on the Supreme Court? Wow, this is like watching an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Republicans have a strategic advantage because, while Democrats get all twisted up in identity politics, Republican leaders are only tightly focused on serving the rich and powerful at the expense of average Americans. No party disunity there.

Democrats need to start focusing on the basic, kitchen table issues that average Americans care about, like affordable health care, affordable housing and affordable higher education. With that strong streak of self-destruction that runs through Democrats, Nancy Pelosi is needed more than ever in the people’s House where badly needed legislation has to move forward.”

1 Reply 24 Recommended

Opinion | The West at an Impasse – By Ross Douthat – The New York Times

By Ross Douthat, Opinion Columnist

Dec. 19, 2018, 341c

Image
President Emmanuel Macron presides over a country roiled by populist protests.CreditCreditPool photo by Benoit Tessier

“In France, where the extraordinarily unpopular Emmanuel Macron presides over a country roiled by populist protests, a leading politician of Macron’s centrist party was asked in a televised interview what policy mistakes his peers had made: “We were probably too intelligent, too subtle,” he told the interviewer, whose eyebrows danced with disbelief.

Around the same time a Hungarian newspaper ran an interview with Radek Sikorski, the former foreign minister of Poland and a member of a centrist party that has been swept aside by the populists who currently rule in Warsaw. Asked to explain the chaotic European situation, he cited a recent Atlantic essay by his wife, the Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum, which portrayed populism as, in part, a revolt by the resentfully unsuccessful against “meritocracy and competition.” The centrist alternative to populism, he suggested, was embodied by Macron, who won the French presidency on “positive ideas” rather than “what is worst in us.”

“Macron’s poll numbers are breaking negative records,” the interviewer dryly noted.

While I read both of these exchanges, my Kindle was open to “The Rise of the Meritocracy,” written in 1958 by the British civil servant Michael Young. The book coined the term in its title, and Young’s neologism was soon adopted as a compliment, a term of praise for a system of elite formation that relied on SAT tests and resumes and promised rule by the most intelligent rather than the well-bred.”

David Lindsay: Ross, well done. You kept me till the end, when you wrote:
“In theory the impasse can be overcome. That’s what statesmanship is for — to bridge gaps between complacent winners and angry losers, to weld populism’s motley grievances into a new agenda suited for the times, to manifest an elitism that is magnanimous instead of arrogant.

But can the system we have really produce such a statesman? The next one we find will be the first.”
What a silly way to end. Think Barak Obama, John Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Franklin D Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt. And that doesn’t include the great Europeans such as Winston Churchill.
You write brilliantly. Perhaps you should consider controlling your right wing, Catholic litmus tests.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

There are some excellent comments, such as:

ChristineMcM
Massachusetts
Times Pick

What bothers me about Ross’s thesis is his insouciance about the limits of populists. He seems to view them as grievance-driven but rudderless, impotent, and unlikely to gain real power. What he leaves out, however, is the natural extension of populism into fascism, as in 1930s Europe. And when he refers to Polish politics as centrists taken over by populists, I cringe because reports show alarming trends towards authoritarianism per th e crackdowns by former Prime Minister Kaczynkiski, mirroring Hungary’s rightward spiral under Orban. Even though Ross seems to feel the US goes through natural cycles of meritocracy and populism, I say it’s dangerous to say those are the only choices. If populists can find a strong and charismatic enough leader to follow, countries can swing authoritarian. We say it can’t happen here, but even though Trump is a corrupt clown who’s given up on serious governing, his Republican party is operating behind the scenes to power grab and subvert democracy. From voter suppression to stripping new Democratic governors of their powers, we see a flouting of US laws, norms, and governing practices. Political polarism (and paralysis) could still morph into “soft” fascism if we aren’t careful.

Opinion | Save Us Al Gore – by Frank Bruni – The New York Times

“Time and Donald Trump do interesting things to a man.

They make Al Gore glitter.

It’s almost impossible not to be thinking of Gore this week, with the words “Florida” and “recount” so prominent in the news, and it’s hard not to credit him with virtues absent in Trump and increasingly rare in politics these days.

Grace in defeat, for one. For another: a commitment to democracy greater than a concern for self.

Sure, the review of ballots that Gore’s campaign demanded in 2000, as he and George W. Bush waited tensely to see who would get the Sunshine State’s electoral votes and become president, was a rancorous affair lousy with recriminations.

But after the Supreme Court halted it, Gore didn’t reject that ruling as partisan, rant about rigged systems, rail about conspiracies or run around telling Americans that he was their rightful leader, foiled by dark forces. He felt that the stability of the country hinged on the calmness of his withdrawal. So he told Americans to move on.

Then he did likewise, a decision that seems positively exotic in retrospect.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Al Gore is an important leader. Frank Bruni, thank you for another sparkling piece of writing. I owe a debt to Al Gore. His movie, of his slide show and interviews of scientists, An Inconvenient Truth, was what woke me up on Climate Change. It cleared out the confusion caused by articles in the right wing business press, about how equally scientists were divided. We now know that that idea was disinformation, inserted into politics by a few scientists on the payroll of the oil, gas and coal industry.
I hope Al Gore runs again for president. I will work hard for him. I worked for Hillary Clinton, but I do not support any woman candidate in this next election. We need beyond anything, to win, to get the country back on track with a host of problems. Climate Change and overpopulation are probably the greatest threats to our democracy and way of life. Al Gore’s big negative, that he is such an ardent environmentalist, has become a plus, now that the predictions of global warming are coming to pass before our very eyes. Al Gore, please run for the presidency again.

Standing ‘Against White Supremacy-’ G.O.P. Campaign Chief Rebukes Steve King – By Catie Edmondson – NYT

David Lindsay:
I supported this young man JD Scholten, Steve King’s opponent in Iowa’s 4th Congressional race, with a whopping $25., way back in September when Elizabeth Warren emailed me personally and asked her friends to help out this young, super environmentalist and ex-minor league baseball player who played professionally in Canada and Iowa for the Sioux City Explorers, and for teams in Belgium, Germany and France. I figured out that the DCCC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committeee, left JD Scholten off their list of candidates to support, since Steve King was too popular and ensconed, although a super Trumpist, climate change denying, and white supremacist. Don’t take my word, read the article below, which starts:

“WASHINGTON — As Pittsburgh began burying the victims of Saturday’s synagogue massacre, the head of the House Republican campaign arm all but jettisoned Representative Steve King of Iowa from the House Republican Conference, declaring, “We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms.” 


The impossible to win, written off race is now tied in the polls! I call upon all of my followers and friends, all five of you, to cough up $5 or $25 or $50 for young farmer J D Sholten, who wrote one of the best position pieces on Climate Change and how to use agrigulture as a carbon sink, that I have read on any Democratic candidates’ web site this election cycle, and I have studied a lot of them, because, if truth were told, I am normally reluctant to part with my money. This election is different.

SCHOLTEN4IOWA.COM
J.D. Scholten For Congress –

https://www.scholten4iowa.com/

Birders Don’t Need to Be Told That Catastrophic Climate Change Approaches | Hannah Waters – Audubon

Birders Don’t Need to Be Told That Catastrophic Climate Change Approaches

A new report warns that we’re approaching the point of no return—a fact that close observers of nature have known for years.    By Hannah Waters  October 10, 2018

“On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a new report that reminded readers the world over of the hot, dire straits we’re now swimming in. Like most reports from the international organization, founded in 1988 by the World Meterological Organization and United Nations Environment Programme, it’s a massive summary of scientific research hitting on all the impacts of global warming that affect people and wildlife alike.”

David Lindsay: This is the best article to date that I have read, summarizing and digesting the devastating news in last Monday’s report by the IPCC on the latest forecast for destruction from just a 1.5 degree celsius increase in world temperature. Well done Hannah Waters for the Audubon Society.

Source: Birders Don’t Need to Be Told That Catastrophic Climate Change Approaches | Audubon

Opinion | The Senate Should Not Confirm Kavanaugh. Signed- 1700+ Law Professors (and Counting). – The New York Times

The Senate Should Not Confirm Kavanaugh
Signed, 1,700+ Law Professors (and Counting)
OCT. 3, 2018
“The following letter will be presented to the United States Senate on Oct. 4. It will be updated as more signatures are received.

Judicial temperament is one of the most important qualities of a judge. As the Congressional Research Service explains, a judge requires “a personality that is even-handed, unbiased, impartial, courteous yet firm, and dedicated to a process, not a result.” The concern for judicial temperament dates back to our founding; in Federalist 78, titled “Judges as Guardians of the Constitution,” Alexander Hamilton expressed the need for “the integrity and moderation of the judiciary.”

We are law professors who teach, research and write about the judicial institutions of this country. Many of us appear in state and federal court, and our work means that we will continue to do so, including before the United States Supreme Court. We regret that we feel compelled to write to you, our Senators, to provide our views that at the Senate hearings on Sept. 27, Judge Brett Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land.

The question at issue was of course painful for anyone. But Judge Kavanaugh exhibited a lack of commitment to judicious inquiry. Instead of being open to the necessary search for accuracy, Judge Kavanaugh was repeatedly aggressive with questioners. Even in his prepared remarks, Judge Kavanaugh described the hearing as partisan, referring to it as “a calculated and orchestrated political hit,” rather than acknowledging the need for the Senate, faced with new information, to try to understand what had transpired. Instead of trying to sort out with reason and care the allegations that were raised, Judge Kavanaugh responded in an intemperate, inflammatory and partial manner, as he interrupted and, at times, was discourteous to senators.”

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

If the Senate confirms Kavenaugh to the Supreme Court, it will be one of the lowest points in American History that I could point to. Not only is this candidate a partisan without the proper temperament, but he is in this position because Mitch McConnell refused to let Obama’s spectacular choice, Merrick Garland, come to a vote. A full breach of law and order and decorum. It is not clear our country will ever recover completely from this descent into partisan and unconstitutional rubbish. The silver lining isn’t so great. There will be a blue wave to wash out the Augean Stables, that will be so severe, we will need to recreate an opposition party of merit, to replace the debauched, anti-science and anti-democratic Republican Party.

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Opinion | The Handmaid’s Court – by Michelle Goldberg – NYT

“Shortly after his inauguration, Donald Trump, uniquely attentive to his debt to the religious right, appointed the anti-abortion activist E. Scott Lloyd to head the Office of Refugee Resettlement, despite Lloyd’s lack of relevant experience. The position gave Lloyd authority over unaccompanied minors caught crossing into the United States, authority Lloyd exploited to try to stop pregnant migrants from getting abortions.

Last year, thanks to Lloyd’s interference, a 17-year-old from Central America had to wage a legal battle to end her pregnancy. Known in court filings as Jane Doe, the girl learned she was pregnant while in custody in Texas, and was adamant that she wanted an abortion. In keeping with Texas’s parental consent law, she obtained a judge’s permission, helped by a legal organization called Jane’s Due Process. Jane’s Due Process raised money for the abortion, which was scheduled for the end of her first trimester.

But under Lloyd’s direction, the shelter where she was being detainedrefused to cooperate. Doe went back to court, and a federal judge ruled in her favor, issuing a temporary restraining order against the government. The administration appealed, and the case, Garza v. Hargan, went to a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. One of the judges was Brett Kavanaugh.

Garza v. Hargan was the only major abortion-rights case Kavanaugh ever ruled on. His handling of it offers a clue about what’s in store for American women if he’s confirmed to the Supreme Court. No one knows whether Kavanaugh would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade outright or simply gut it. But even on a lower court, Kavanaugh put arbitrary obstacles in the way of someone desperate to end her pregnancy. Thanks to Trump, he may soon be in a position to do the same to millions of others.”

David Lindsay Jr:

Michelle Goldberg expounds above with her usual brilliance on this threat to women’s rights. Thank you.

Kathleen Schomaker and I drove out to Wisconsin, to vacation in Athelstane above Green Bay. In the 19 hour car ride, we listened to The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. It was not pleasant to listen to. Distopian novels are famously unpleasant. But it had fascinating and challenging material. It has some resonance today, since it is about a coup d’etat, where the ultra right to life and fundamentalist Christian faction takes complete control of a future dictatorship after some sort of disaster which has reduced world population dramatically. When the book came out in 1985, so close to 1984, Kathleen reports that she and other feminists devoured it and found it enlightening.

Brett Kavanaugh is a disaster for women’s rights. As I explained in a previous post, it is one of the several reasons I oppose his appointment to the Supreme Court. 

Opinion | Kavanaugh Will Kill the Constitution – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

I have watched almost half of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. He is a great salesman, and a terrific friend, and listener. But, I think he is too extreme to be on our Supreme Court. As usual, Paul Krugman sharpens my knowledge and analysis. He wrote:
“Remember, Kavanaugh cut his teeth working for the Starr investigation into Bill Clinton — a genuine witch hunt that consumed seven years and tens of millions of dollars without finding any evidence of wrongdoing. And he personally spent years obsessively pursuing crazy conspiracy theories about the suicide of Vince Foster.

Then he spent time working in the George W. Bush White House, which made torture a routine part of policy. In his 2006 confirmation hearing for an appellate court judgeship he declared that he played no role in those decisions. Was he telling the truth? The answer might lie in those thousands of pages of records the Trump administration is refusing to release.

Strange to say, however, he emerged from that experience as someone who believes that presidents can’t be subject to legal investigations.

Meanwhile, Kavanaugh accumulated a record as an appellate judge — one that places him far to the right on everything from the environment, to labor rights, to discrimination. His anti-labor views are especially extreme, even for a conservative.

So who is Brett Kavanaugh? If he looks like a right-wing apparatchik and quacks like a right-wing apparatchik, he’s almost surely a right-wing apparatchik. Which brings us to the coming constitutional crises.”

I was deeply moved by the testimony of three children on day three. One was shot at in Florida by an assault rifle. She pulled a dead student over her body for protection. Kananaugh ruled that assault rifles could not be banned. One was an asthmatic in Maine. Kavanaugh ruled multiple times to role back clean air regulations.

Opinion | A Better Way to Run Schools – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“Twelve years later, Nigel Palmer still remembers the embarrassment of his first days as a fourth grader in Monroe, La. He was a Hurricane Katrina evacuee from New Orleans, living with his family in a La Quinta Inn, 250 miles from home. As soon as the school year began, he could tell that the kids in his new school seemed different from him.

They could divide numbers. He really couldn’t. They knew the 50 states. He didn’t. “I wasn’t up to par,” he quietly told me. It’s a miserable feeling.

Until the storm, Palmer had been attending New Orleans public schools, which were among the country’s worst. The high-school graduation rate was 54 percent, and some students who did graduate had shockingly weak academic skills.”

David Lindsay Jr:
How complicated. David Leonhardt, your piece was exciting, but in the comments, you appear to have run into a buzz saw of questions and doubts. Well Houdini, do you have the data to back up your enthusiasm, and isolated stories? While your at work, please explain why the 37th percentile is better than the 22nd, and why some commenters say your an idiot to think 37th is OK.

David Lindsay Jr. is a huge fan of David Leonhardt. Lindsay is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com