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Monday, December 21, 2009

Volleyball, Avatar, health care

Volleyball.  So the Penn State women’s volleyball team did an incredible thing Saturday night, coming back from two sets down to defeat Texas 22-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-13.  It was a remarkable comeback by a team that hasn’t been down 0-2 since their last loss in September 2007, and obviously isn’t used to playing under duress on every point.  So although the final score suggests that it was crazy tense, it was even more remarkable point-by-point, rally-by-rally.  In fact, I have to say that the entire match has to be seen to be believed—and someday I hope to see it, because I decided to DV-R the thing on my way out to a party that night, and even though I did the usual precautionary thing of adding half an hour to the two hours of taping time, I learned to my dismay and chagrin that my recording ended in the fifth set, just as the Nittany Lions tied Texas yet again, 8-8.  Yep, that’s right, I got back from a party with Janet and Jamie half past midnight, put Jamie to bed around 1, sat down to watch the NCAA women’s volleyball championship, and discovered around 2:30 that I would have to go to the Internets to find out what happened in the thrilling final minutes.  Mother of Moloch.

Avatar.  That was Friday night.  I didn’t want to go, because I’d heard all the Kewl Kidz were sneering at it and I wanted to be like them.  Apparently, there are many people who will never forgive James Cameron for Titanic, and I respect that.  Also, I have a thing about movies that last as long as five-set NCAA women’s volleyball matches with lots of long intense rallies.  But guess what?  All three of us enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.  Yes, we knew that by the time we’d gotten home, we’d have to come to grips with (a) the fact that liberal Hollywood still doesn’t understand that we have to fight the giant blue Amerindian peoples over there so that we don’t have to fight them over there, and (b) the fact that it’s yet another Huck Finn Fantasy® about the saving remnant of good white people.  To answer Annalee’s question, white people will probably stop making these movies when they stop imagining themselves as sympathetic anti-colonialist white people; and to answer SEK’s response to Annalee, oh no you’re not going to bring King Kong back into this, are you, except that I will admit that Jamie said, on the way out, “they were like the islanders.” I just want to warn my fellow well-meaning white folk that there’s no way out of this particular maze: one way of expiating that white guilt is to call out an anti-colonialist film’s colonialist, guilty-white-liberal logic.

So the disabled jarhead goes into the Matrix, dances with wolves, falls in love with the princess, and (as Janet says) learns to paint with all the colors of the wind.  And people are complaining that they’ve seen this movie before?  Good grief, people, can’t you see that you’re getting at least five or six movies for the price of one?  I mean, you’ve even got some Antz in there, you’ve got Vasquez from Aliens reunited with Sigourney Weaver (hey, and some guys from the Company, too!), and you’ve got a bunch of Ursula LeGuin narratives incorporated by implication. The visuals really are stunning, and how great is it that they actually called the mineral ”unobtainium”?  It’s like calling it “macguffinite ore.” Anyway, we’re planning to see Avatar again over the holidays.  Just so you know.

Health Care.  From this point forward, no one gets to call opponents of the Senate bill crazed ideological purists, and no one gets to call its supporters corporate sellout hacks.  Everyone takes a deep breath.  From what I’ve been reading over the past week, everyone and her brother agrees that single-payer would be the way to go; the differences seem to be between those who (a) think the whole thing is so compromised and Liebermanized and Nelsonized that it’s better to scrap it and start over, and (b) think that the whole thing is compromised and Liebermanized and Nelsonized but who don’t believe it’s possible to start over and get any better outcome, either in terms of politics or policy.  And then there are the dire predictions from both sides, that (a) bad health care reform will demoralize the base, alienate the swing voters, and fire up the Teabaggers, giving us Speaker Cantor in 2010 and President Palin two years later, or (b) failure to treat this version of HCR as a success and insist that Republicans are the obstructionist Party of Lousy Insurance and ER Deaths will give us Speaker Boehner in 2010 and President Romney two years later. 

Well, I hate to say that I was right back in 2004, but I was right back in 2004, and you didn’t listen to me.  I had a thoughtful, serious suggestion for the future of the Democratic party, and if people had followed that advice then, we wouldn’t be vexed by senators like Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, and Mary Landrieu now.  We also wouldn’t have Coburn, Inhofe, Brownback, Roberts, Grassley, Thune, Enzi, or Barrasso on the other side.  So when you procedure-wonks complain that the Senate has become “dangerously dysfunctional,” I say, where were you when we could actually have solved this problem?

Posted by Michael on 12/21 at 06:32 AM
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