1. So some have asked: Where’s your incisive commentary on holiday movies?
2. Well, I saw LES MIZ: It’s an edifying tale of how personal transformation through faith and charity is real and how transformation through political revolution is a bloody illusion.
3. As a Tocquevillian, I should like that, right? BUT: The music is both overwrought and banal, the actors try so hard but finally seem ridiculous (their characters are the most stickish of stick figures), and no person is transformed THAT MUCH in this world (see Flannery O’Connor). I don’t have it in me to be as cruel about this filmic failure as the critic of THE NEW YORKER. I’m glad I saw it but I can’t say I enjoyed it. It is also VERY LONG. (Someone could also add that it does violence to the actual vision of Victor Hugo–that was singular in being so upbeat about both religious and revolutionary hope.)
4. I also saw the mom-and-son buddy movie featuring Grogen and Streisand. It isn’t very funny, unless you think seeing an old woman eating a huge steak on a restaurant dare is funny. (It was funny when the John Candy character did it in a vacation movie years ago.)
5. Conservatives–beginning our friend Ross Douthat–are starting to both the sing the praises and feel the pain of our SPEAKER. Ross, I’m sure you saw, called him a HERO. Well, I wouldn’t give him a Medal of Honor. But there’s no denying he’s doing the best he can and his life stinks. He’s the guy who has to stomp on unrealistic or unmandated Republican hope in an effort to keep the country going.
6. In honor of our undaunted Speaker, let me give you two more ways in which the Democrats didn’t win the showdown at the cliff: 99% of the Bush tax cuts are now permanent, including the family-friendly features we Porchers keep forgetting to be grateful for. AND by allowing the payroll tax to rise, he’s made all sorts of ordinary Americans ticked off at our president. They didn’t think THEIR taxes would go up–just those of bosses like Romney. A regular guy barely making ends meet is really pinched by the difference in his paycheck.
7. Boehner’s Machiavellian cleverness in allowing the little guy–and especially the little self-employed guy–to feel some–but not too much–pain was a fine way to remind the president that he really can’t get away with a tax increase that actually hits most of the voters.
8. Maybe because my testosterone level is sharply dropping as I get near Medicare, I’ve almost lost interest in TV sports. I did see the showdown last night between two pillars of American excellence: Catholic immigrants and Southern Stoics.
9. Let’s face it: The Southerners seemed more brave (those so-called FIGHTING IRISH were constantly flinching and so missing tackles) and more intelligent. They really had a superb PLAN for the game that exploited the other team’s weaknesses.