Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

May 31, 2008

Noir Mystery: What's the Meaning of the Title, "The Postman Always Rings Twice"

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 1:30 pm

It’s the title of the great James M. Cain novel, the great John Garfield/Lana Turner fim noir, and the sexy Jessica Lange/Jack Nicholson re-make.

It’s a geat novel. Cain was a truly great American writer and I’ve re read it often. But every time I’ve re read it, I’ve found myself wondering about the title. I don’t remember coming across the phrase “the postman always rings twice”, in the novel, and I don’t think it is heard in either film. I’d always assumed that it was the punch line to a vintage dirty joke, probably about an adulterous housewife (which in a murderous way the Cain plot was about). Something like the really bad dirty joke about the way a “Chinaman” makes love in Chinatown. In fact I thought that deliberately bad dirty joke was meant as an homage to the kind of joke that gave Cain the title for “Postman”.

But what does it mean? What is the lost joke? I’ve asked a lot of people over the years and no one seems to know. Some are not even certain it’s the punchline to a joke. That it stands alone as some comment on the insistent inexorability of fate. The double meaning of identity. (interesting that the doubling re apears in Cain’s next novel Double Indemnity)

But I think it sounds like a punchline and I want to know the joke. Does anybody know the answer?

May 30, 2008

Racists Seek Succor From Geraldine Ferraro.

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 12:56 pm

I

was on the phone with my friend Errol Morris (you really should see Standard Operating Procedure, his powerful Abu Ghraib documentary) and he called my attention to what he thought was an remarkable rant by Geraldine Ferraro in The Boston Globe. (Errol lives in Cambridge).

Now you know of course that she was encouraged to resign from the Hillary campaign because of a stupid remark about Obama never getting close to the nomination if he wasn’t black. But she can’t help digging herself in deeper.

Consider this sadly damning paragraph:

“As for Reagan Democrats, how Clinton was treated is not their issue. They are more concerned with how they have been treated. Since March, when I was accused of being racist for a statement I made about the influence of blacks on Obama’s historic campaign, people have been stopping me to express a common sentiment: If you’re white you can’t open your mouth without being accused of being racist. They see Obama’s playing the race card throughout the campaign and no one calling him for it as frightening. They’re not upset with Obama because he’s black; they’re upset because they don’t expect to be treated fairly because they’re white. It’s not racism that is driving them, it’s racial resentment. And that is enforced because they don’t believe he understands them and their problems. That when he said in South Carolina after his victory “Our Time Has Come” they believe he is telling them that their time has passed.”

It’s the same phony rhetoric used by those who whine that they can’t criticize Israel without being accused of anti-semtism, rhetoric, which is not true even when, you’ll be shocked, shocked, to hear, the ploy is often used by genuine anti-semites.

Oh the poor oppressed white people, like the poor oppressed Israel-haters: “If you’re white,” Ferraro says,”you can’t open your mouth without being accused of being racist.”

In other words there really is no such thing as racist criticism of Obama; it’s just whites daring to open their mouths when theyre not “frightened”.

“They’re upset because they don’t expect to be treated fairly because they’re white.” Says who Ms. Ferraro? Who says they won’t be treated fairly because they’re white? Certainly not Obama. Could it be this is what you think or are you just giving us the fruits of your frequent conversations with ignorant and/or racist whites? Thanks for the tip on how “whites” think, though.

And don’t you love the way she ventriloquizes “whites” with an off-the-deep-end racist misinterpretation of “Our Time Has Come”. I think your unconscious is showing Ms. Ferraro. Obama didn’t say “You’re Time is Up, Whitey”. That’s evidently just the way you heard it. I wonder why?

And of course there’s the truly great misreresentation of the line that caused her departure from the Hillary campaign. Sure it was all about “the influence of blacks on Obama’s historic campaign.” Right it was all about celebrating that historicity.

The Hillary campaign must be grateful you’re no longer an Official Embarassment. But I think your time has come. And, in your case,gone.

Anyone Remember Richard Armitage? Beam Him Up, Scotty

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 1:41 am

It’s hard for me to figure out whether it’s willful ignorance,or stupidity.Can we get this straight people? it’s been abundantly established that Valerie Plame’s CIA role was first leaked to the media–to Bob Novak the first one to publish it–by Richard Armitage, a State Department aide to Colin Powell who opposed the Bush Iraq war plans. Not by Scooter Libby who was convicted of lying about conversations with reporters about Plame, but only in response to their questions. The amazing dsingenuous way some reporters continue to disingenously write that Libby “talked to reporters about Plame”, gives the impression he buttonholed them and outed her, while Armitage’s role in actually blowing her cover is ignored.

Poor confused Scotty M. has his knickers in a twist because Bush declassified an NIE (National Intelligence Estimate) on Iraq and he somehow thinks, or those who misread him think, this proves Bush authorized the leak of Plame’s identity. Bush may be faulted for selected leaking of a declassified NIE. But nobody got upset when Bush declassified the (now discredited) Iranian nuke NIE last fall, because it happened to agree with their uninformed view of the subject.(U.S. intelligence, which has a proven record of being wrong about just about everything suddenly becomes infallible when it agrees with their political stance).

Both Scotty and some of his suddenly sycophantic media stenographers conflate the release of the Iraq NIE with the leaking of Plame’s identity. Not true. Plame was not in the NIE. Armitage leaked Plame’s cover. But his name is almost entirely absent from the shocked, shocked coverage of the suddenly noble Scotty’s “revelations”. On the evidence of his statements on the subject he may be too stupid or ignorant to know the difference between the NIE leak and the Plame leak. That’s no excuse for those writing about this.

May 25, 2008

Hagee's Hitler Comment Was Bad Enough, But This Is Worse

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 5:27 am

You know Hagee, the now-repudiated McCain “spiritual advisor”, who announced that Hitler was God’s “hunter”, the useful figure God used to implement his plan to drive the Jews to Israel. (He’s God, he couldn’t come up with a way to do it that didn’t involve the murder of 6 million of them. If he could drop manna from heaven, why not cruise ship tickets to Haifa?)

Stupid and offensive (to Jews, God, everyone else with a brain or a heart) as it was this piece in the Washington Times is even more dispiriting: “Jews Defend Hagee’s Words”.

Here various Jews without brains (or heart or conscience) explain that because God is all-powerful, and thus could have prevented the Holocaust from happening, but didn’t, we are required to believe the allegedly all powerful God wanted the Holocaust to happen and Hitler was his chosen instrument.

I came across this school of thought which alas has been propogated by various demented rabbis from time to time, while writing Explaining Hitler.

What this repellant theology forces one to do is absolve Hitler and human nature, free will and evil, from the crime of the Holocaust, absolve the Nazi party, the German people, the hands-on mass murderers in the death camps and put the blame–no, give the credit in this demented view–to God. If one accepts this vision of God one is forced to choose between a God who approved of Hitler and no God at all. I know my choice.

Perhaps the best refutation of this vile nonsense whether uttered by Christian pastor or Jewish rabbi came from Yehuda Bauer, who, when I interviewed him in Jerusalem for Explaining Hitler had just retired as founding head of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Musuem, and was a professor of holocaust studies at Hebrew University.

Bauer is one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever spoken to, dwarfing the mental midgets like Hagee or the Jews in the Washington Times piece linked above.

This is what he told me in regard to such views: “There’s no way that there can be an all-powerful and just God. He can either be all powerful or just. Because if he’s all powerful [and permitted or encouraged the Holocaust for whatever “larger” purpose] he’s Satan. If he’s just, he’s a nebbish.”

Poor God, plagued by brain dead believers who accuse him of mass murder.

May 23, 2008

Wow! Just When I Try to Be Sympathetic to Hillary…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 4:07 pm

…(as in the laast post) she comes out with the astonishing RFK assassination remark. There is simlpy no other way to interpret it except as “one reason I’m stayng in the race is that my opponent might be assassinated befor eth convention and I’d be the last one standing,” the presumptive nomineee, albeit because she’d be the benficiary of murder.

This is so wacko I can’t believe it. Yes I know she apologized, but it’s too late and it’s horrible watching someone disintegrate in public like that. I’d like to blame Bill, but even if it was one of his talking points (in private) she was the one who took it public.

If you want to read something really sad, read the attempts by the commenters at a pro-Hillary blog to rationalize her remarks. Yes, sure it wasn’t about assaination at all, really, it was about..well watch them struggle to make it seem like it was something totally benign rather than deranged and offensive, and potentially dangerous. Sad to see her followers unable to let go as they abadonon their intellects and she drags them under with her.

I think the only way she gets out of this with any hope of a political future is to pledge today that she will withdraw from the race if her opponent is assassinated because having raised the specter, if God forbid it happens, she can’t deny she might have inspired it. The Democratic Party must reject her if she won’t pre emptively declare her withdrawal under those circumstances.

I Think I Understand Why Hillary's Not Dropping Out

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 4:40 am

Faithful readers will recall I “dis-endorsed” Hillary some months ago because of the Nixonian nature of her (and Bill’s) campaign tactics, the beginnings of what has turned out to be a rather shabby imitation of Nixon’s race-based “Southern strategy”. (And you can find further favorable thoughts about Obama here). But I think it finally came to me why Hillary is behaving like she is in the endgame of the campaign.

Two reasons really: First I think she thinks–and I agree with her here–that she’s entitled to the full historic moment her nomination at the Democratic National Convention will represent. An impassioned nominating speech, an impressive parade of those who will second the nomination. And of course the roll call of the states which, the way things look will be close to the very end if her pledged delegates stay loyal . Even though she’s almost certainly going to come up short, she deserves the pomp and ceremony. It will be a historic moment, a presage of a future victory for women (and indeed for men), a near victory in a nomination contest that will be a civil rights victory no matter who wins.

lt will give her an oportunity for–whatever you think of her–a well deserved moment on the national stage. It will give her the opporutnity to be personally gracious in the generosity she shows the winner. I can’t imagine her giving this moment up for anything less than the vice residential nomination (which I seriously doubt she’ll get), or for being chosen (after a last minute concession) to give Obama’s nominating speech. (also somewhat unlikely).

But just in human terms, no matter how little you like her, you can understand her wanting her moment in the sun in the Mile High City. I know if I were her, I would. In more practical terms her nomination and a full roll call vote of the states would give her a chance to position herself for a run in the future.

And in really practical terms I have a feeling that in a corner of her mind, she’s thinking it isn’t over til it’s over. Some tape will surface, some gaffe will be made that causes super-delegates, even pledged Obama delegates to re think their stance. And with only a thin margin of a couple hundred votes out of four thousand between them, anything could happen. Why deal herself out, rather than being ready to take advantage of such an opportunity?

And even though I kind of dread the idea of her winning under those circumstances, I have to admit a perverse fascination with the drama of her endgame. I’m always rooting for overtime in sports, and a convention that came down to the last states in the roll call alphabet will be an all time great drama.

I was present, on the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Florida in 1972 when a hotly contested vote over credentials wasn’t settled until the late hours forcing George McGovern to make his acceptance speech at 3 a.m.

It was disastrous in media terms, but unbearably exciting to be there. I recall spending most of the night with the California delegation where (then) Assemblyman Willie Brown was field-generaling the late night comromise over the complicated issue of credentials for the South Carolina delegation as I recall. It required the McGovern forces to abandon a feminist challenge to gender balance in order to prevail over Hubert Humphrey, one of the rare compromises with political cynicism McGovern made.

But I have to admit it was thrilling to be there watching the dealmaking and calculations that are the stuff of history happening a few feet away. Some may say “thrilling” is not a valid political value and I agree. But to understand politics I think you need to understand human nature. And it’s human nature to want to feel the thrill. To understand Hillary Clinton’s endgame I think you have to understand that Hillary feels she deserves–at the very least–all the trappings, all the last minute drama accorded Hubert Humphrey in a losing cause.

Do you really want this to end now, even with all the ridicuous baroque “Zimbabwe” type reasoning the Hillary camp is subjecting us to? I say play it out til the bitter end.

Give Hill the thrill.

May 13, 2008

Annals of Idiocy: The L.A. Times' Political Coverage Today…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 2:29 pm

…features an utterly credulous and, well, I’m sorry, just plain stupid, pseudo-scientific “analysis” of the candidates’ handwriting as a guide to their character and politics.

The idea that a once respected national newspaper, once admired for its political coverage, can present graphology as offering “scientific” insights into the psychology and charaacter of political candidates is kind of shocking. What’s next, phrenology, the study of character through analysis of bumps on the head, fashionable in the 19th century?

The befuddled reporter either misunderstands or misrepresents the credentials of the graphologists in question by characterizing them as “court certified”. Graphologist are sometimes certified as expert witnesses to compare handwriting samples to see if signatures on allegedly forged checks or wills, for instance, are genuine. They are not appointed to make inadmissable “character analyses” of defendants or witnesses based on handwriting style. Has the LATimes fired so many editors there was no one there to question this?

And consider the pathetically simple-minded “analyses” suposedly derived from hand writing that seem to astonish the reporter with their prescience, such as this:

“Obama is very much his writing — fluid, graceful. McCain’s is angular and intense; he’s a pit bull. And look at the perfectionism in Hillary’s — straight up, precise. She is persistent and is not going to give up until she absolutely has to,” one of the LAT’s expert revealed.

Well, all you can say ot those brilliant insights, obviously taken ONLY, from the handwriting is: Duh. Who would have attributed these stunning and unexpected character traits to the candidates without the “expert” help of a graphologist?

And look at these profound insights the handwriting experts give us into the candidates’ stand on the issues:

“Whereas Clinton’s writing is disciplined, Obama’s is flexible. (Her universal health insurance plan is mandatory; his is optional.) His more limber style suggests a desire to deal with different people. (He favors open dialogue with America’s enemies; she doesn’t.)”

There’s more of this useless, baseless, cringe-inducing bloviation by the L.A. Times’ annointed experts:

“So if the experts are right, Clinton really is smart and tough and stays until the last dog dies, Obama is an engaging bridge-builder, and McCain takes charge, and does it his way.”

Who could have imagined these totally shocking new perspectives on the candidates if not for the graphology “experts”.

And yet all of this worthless verbiage is presented with a straight face, with only one final caveat:

“Case closed? Hardly: ‘Handwriting tells a lot of important things, but it doesn’t tell everything,” Lowe cautioned. “People are too complex’.”

Once again: duh. Is this disgrace the new direction of the new LATimes, the one they’ve taken after firing or forcing out a series of editors with integrity? If so they’ve forfeited any claim to be taken seriously again. If this is the way they’re trying to save newspapers these days they’re better off dead.

Reflections on "Operation Chaos"

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 5:32 am

So I’m back after overcoming, I hope, technical difficulties with new blogging software, which I’m sure my inner Luddite is responsible for. There’s lot’s to talk about but I want to begin with my tv set blowing up and thus my listening to Rush Limbaugh for the first time because I became fascinated with his “Operation Chaos”.

Re my tv set. I’m sure there’s no connection but I swear the tube blew–blacking out, emitting puffs of smoke and that burned wire smell at the very moment Elliot Sptizer was holding a press conference to talk about being Client Number Nine.

It’s just too easy to make a metaphor out of it and say my tv just couldn’t take any more political sleaze, but that’s when it happened and I’ve been too busy/lazy to get a relacement yet, so that was the last time–two months ago–I watched tv at home, and believe me it’s a big change, I’ve been a heavy viewer.

Since most of what I watched was second hand chatter about politics, blogs–which devote an inordinate amount of time to second hand chatter about this second hand chatter (who ‘s biased agasint whom etc)–I’ve got that covered.

And then there’s radio, long neglectedd NPR and Rush Limbaugh because I’m fascinated by his “Ooeration Chaos”. You know, that’s his effort to prolong the Democratic primary agony by convincing GOP voters in “open primary” states to change their registration for the primary so they can vote for Hillary. At first because he thought Hillary would be the most beatable Dem. nominee and now just to keep things going to further handicap Obama.

It’s reprehensible of course, although the hapless Democratic party–it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to–left itself open to all this through the most unbelievable concatenation of foolish rules any single group of people could devise.

And even though I don’t agree with much else Limbaugh says–I mean he finds John McCain impermissably liberal–I have to give props to the pure diabolical mischief making. The Dems practically gave someone in his position an engraved invitation and he accepted with glee.

And so far it seems to have worked. I doubt Hillary would have gotten the magic 10 (really 9) point margin in Pennsylvania that gave her life, even momentum for a while. And Operation Chaos voters may well have given her the bare margin to avoid the sudden death of her candidacy in Indiana.

But its very success may have opened a Pandora’s box for our democracy. Two can play this game and soon (at least) two will. Democrats, slow on the uptake, will nevertheless begin in future primary contests to engage in their own Operation Chaos-like dissimulations. People will stop voting for the candidate they like in their own party and rather vote for the candidate in the other party they think will be more defeatable.

There will be perils (be careful what you wish for, etc) but what was once, you know, “voting” will now become “strategic voting”, more like playing a three dimensional chess game than an exercise in expressing sincere preferences on issues except in a disguised way twice removed. because who you decide to target in your Chaos vote may depend on who you want to help in a negative way. In other words will Repbulican A or B be easier to beat by Democrat C or D. Each party will try to outguess who in the other party will really do worse against whom rather than who they’d do best with, and we’ll know even less about what each party stands for on the issues, more on how they can best game the system.

Of course everyone in the Democratic party will have to be on the same page for its counter-Chaos ops to work–noo small task. Everyone has to agree who the worst, most defeatable Rebulican is for it to be a factor. And yet I don’t see anyone on the horizon in the Democratic party who had the authority, the ability to build a consensus or the smarts to become the kind of general in this war of deception who can get the troops to follow him or her the way Limbaugh does his ditto heads. (You know the line: “I don’t belong to an organized political party, I’m a Democrat”).

Someone needs to step foward or be nominated by the party (good luck) to undertake this task. Actually, come to think of it I know two people who might fill the bill: the machiavellian Clintons are natural candidates for this job aren’t they? And they’re likely to have some time on their hands fairly soon.

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