History

"…give the President what he demands and says is necessary to meet the situation"

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New York Times editorial board member Adam Cohen has written a new book titled Nothing to Fear: FDR's Inner Circle and the Hundred Days that Created Modern America. I know this because The New York Times has reviewed it twice within the last week. First, David Greenberg praised it in a dual review with Burt Solomon's FDR v. The Constitution (I gave Solomon's book the thumb's down yesterday), calling Nothing to Fear "absorbing and enjoyable to read." Financial historian John Steele Gordon has now weighed in as well. He also liked the book, though he did take issue with Cohen's "caricature" of Herbert Hoover as a laissez-faire advocate. But it's this passage that really stands out:

During this period, Roosevelt functioned in a way similar to a dictator in the ancient sense of the Constitution of the Roman Republic: an official given total power for a brief time to handle a grave national emergency.

The Emergency Banking Relief Act, for instance, which hadn't even been written on March 4, was sent to Congress on March 9. The chairman of the House banking committee, who had the only copy, with penciled additions, walked down the aisle waving it over his head and shouting, "Here's the bill; let's pass it."

The Republican House leader admitted to not having read the bill but said Congress needed "to give the President what he demands and says is necessary to meet the situation." The bill passed 40 minutes later by voice vote and passed the Senate later that day, 73 to 7. Roosevelt signed it into law nine hours after he had sent it to the Hill.

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  1. During this period, Roosevelt functioned in a way similar to a dictator in the ancient sense of the Constitution of the Roman Republic: an official given total power for a brief time to handle a grave national emergency.

    And, like the Caesars of old, he served for life.

  2. Oh, and it’s hard not to notice dictatorship is coming back into vogue at the NYT just as Obama takes office.

  3. EBRA sounds a lot like TARP and PATRIOT.

  4. TallDave,

    The Gracchi brothers sent Rome on its way to a dictatorship in part by undermining the commonly understood notion of term limits in office. Not that Roman political life was ever that awesome prior to the trend towards Rome being ruled by a Princip.

  5. “to give the President what he demands and says is necessary to meet the situation.”

    It’s like their preparing to make the argument for Obama…

    As we already knew but will find out again, the left is only concerned with abuse of power, when its not them in power…

  6. David Greenberg- is that the guy who wrote an execrable biography of Calvin Coolidge, in which he incessantly lamented (up to the point at which I abandoned it in disgust) Coolidge’s failure to expand the government and aggregate power at the federal level?

  7. Seward, the Gracchi brothers fucked with the upper classes. Which got them killed.

  8. Episiarch,

    They fucked with the upper classes by changing the rules of the game; in particular with regard to term limits and overturning the rule that if one Tribune vetos a matter then the matter is closed.

  9. The Gracchi and those that followed their lead helped introduce a populist trump on the republican system. This is not to say that the lower classes weren’t screwed by the rulers of the Republic–they were–but playing to the mob outside of the normal constitutional system helped in no small way to bring in several centuries of tyranny.

  10. Seward, yes, but my point was that they antagonized the upper classes (yeah, equestrian-controlled courts removing senators, good idea) and made them less responsive to more…honest tribunes.

  11. I have no doubt that had it not been for that cerebral hemorrhage, FDR would still be in office today.

  12. Oh, FDR: the most beloved dictator of all time. I’ll never understand how the Left works itself to hysterics over the McCarthy trials, for example, but can worship at the alter of the man who brought us the Japanese Internment.

  13. Epi,

    Yes and no. A good backing of moderates was what they were originally going for with their populist legislation. When that failed, yes, they pissed off the patricians by appealing directly to the people. Though it has been a while since I’ve read Sulla’s The Cataline Conspiracy.

  14. EBRA sounds a lot like TARP and PATRIOT.

    Yeppers. And congress continues to refuse to exercise it’s prerogatives.

  15. I didn’t realize you were a student of Roman history, Naga.

    Land redistribution is going to piss off the upper classes instantly, whether or not you are seeking moderates.

  16. I’ll never understand how the Left works itself to hysterics over the McCarthy trials, for example, but can worship at the alter of the man who brought us the Japanese Internment.

    If McCarthy actually interned his opponents or more, they would be sucking on a bronze cast of his cock.

  17. Obama still has a ways to go to break FDRs record of almost 3,500 executive orders, but he’s off to a pretty good start.

  18. Considering the Roman analogy a bit more, doesn’t it seem like we’re treating our presidents more and more like Roman emperors? I don’t mean to suggest that presidents have that kind of unchecked power–at least, not yet–but it seems to me that we’re pinning all of our hopes on how free we’re going to be on who gets elected.

    Back during Imperial times, the Roman populace (particularly in the city) could only hope for a less insane and/or vicious ruler after a Gaius Caesar, Domitian, or Commodus. They couldn’t realistically expect the Senate to help or to revolt.

    Today, of course we still have a republican system and elect these jokers. But the populace seems to place all of its hopes on this one guy. Bush was, say, a Tiberius, and many of us are celebrating and acclaiming his successor. Sight unseen and before he’s done much of anything. Kind of like the Romans reacted to the emperor who followed Tiberius.

  19. OH NO! CONGRESS DIDN’T READ A BILL! FASCISM!

    Lol. Congress doesn’t read most of the bills it passes. They just get filled on on the summaries by their staffers.

  20. Pro Libertate,

    The Gracchi and those that followed their lead helped introduce a populist trump on the republican system.

    Well, that was what was always happening in Roman politics even back to the time of the Twelve Kings. When the Plebs quit Rome that was what was happening, when the concilium plebis was founded with its own Aedile, etc. that’s what was happening, etc. I think of Roman history as one long struggle between various popular and aristocratic factions fighting each other (with factions crossing this divide to ally against elements in each other’s “class”).

  21. I’ll never understand how the Left works itself to hysterics over the McCarthy trials, for example, but can worship at the alter of the man who brought us the Japanese Internment.

    The same way that I can celebrate Thomas Jefferson as an enlightened and humane man, while acknowledging that he failed (by contemporary standards) to see that being a slaveholder made him a hypocrite. Human beings are not perfect. We should strive towards our ideals, but realize that we will never achieve perfection either individually or collectively.

    Except for Epi and me, of course. (joke)

  22. Pro Libertate,

    One thing I’ve always found interesting was how much of the old republican institutions were preserved in the provinces long after the empire became ruled by a princip.

  23. Kind of like the Romans reacted to the emperor who followed Tiberius.

    He did throw three months of partying, though. Kind of like DC right now.

  24. Tiberius was a fiscal conservative. Bush was more like a heterosexual Nero.

  25. Epi,

    I’m an economics major without a good grasp of economics. 9/10 books I read are historical. The reason I’m all for Libertarianism isn’t because of the philosophy(which I don’t get) it’s because everything has a parallel in history. Interventions in the economy? Read your Tacitus, it’s a bad idea. Wanna create subsidies and tariffs? Historically a terrible idea. Etc.

  26. And wait, are you saying Obama = Caligula?

  27. Now Joe will come on board and say FDR should be forgiven not committing electoral suicide by failing to intern the Japanese, and he more than made up for it by creating Social Security. What’s a prison camp or two compared to that?

  28. Except for Epi and me, of course. (joke)

    Whoa, speak for yourself. I don’t consider it a joke.

  29. The only thing WE have to fear is individuality.

  30. Seward,

    It was more the plebs pushing their way in, getting the Assembly and the tribunes. That’s different than patricians or otherwise upper-crust Romans plying the masses with various bribes to circumvent the constitution altogether, not to just amend it.

    Lots of interesting lessons to be learned from the Republic, I think. It’s always important to remember that our system was largely based on many of the elements of Roman republican government, as communicated to the Founders through Polybius and Montesquieu.

  31. Tulpa,

    Not really. I just think part of what went wrong with Caligula was everyone telling him how perfect he was before he’d proven himself. He ended up believing them a little too much (“Say, I am a god!”).

  32. Pro Liberate,

    All cities are burned. All nations fall. Simply a matter of time my friend. Personally, I believe we got about another 100 to 300 years before an emperor takes over. Relax and party it up.

  33. Beware the Ides of March, Epi.

  34. Naga,

    Yes, I know, but I’m not going down without a fight, futile though it may be.

  35. Pro Libertate,

    Well, from the perspective of some at least, Virgil being one, the princip got rid of all that turmoil and civil strife. Which is true somewhat; then again, Virgil hadn’t been the victim of a proscription, or if he had been, at least he hadn’t been killed by whatever proscription was written against him.

  36. Pro “Cato” Liberate is it now?

  37. “During this period, Roosevelt functioned in a way similar to a dictator in the ancient sense of the Constitution of the Roman Republic: an official given total power for a brief time to handle a grave national emergency.”

    Except that dictators don’t have to wait for legislatures to pass bills for them. Nor do they allow courts to overturn the legislation they’ve enacted. Nor do they allow legislatures to pass bills over their veto (which happened to FDR when he tried to reduce veterans’ benefits).

    There’s a nice chart of US Gross Domestic Product here

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gdp20-40.jpg

    showing that it hit a peak of more than $800 billion in 1929 (in 1999 dollars), falling to $600 billion in early 1933, rising back to $800 billion in 1936 and approaching $875 billion in 1937 before sliding back to $825 billion in 1938 (the Roosevelt “Depression”) before surpassing $900 billion in late 1939 and headed higher. Yeah, the New Deal was a disaster! And we’re so oppressed these days!

  38. The bill passed 40 minutes later by voice vote and passed the Senate later that day, 73 to 7. Roosevelt signed it into law nine hours after he had sent it to the Hill.

    When I hear somebody bellyaching about a “do nothing” Congress, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

  39. The same way that I can celebrate Thomas Jefferson as an enlightened and humane man, while acknowledging that he failed (by contemporary standards) to see that being a slaveholder made him a hypocrite.

    Celebrating and worshiping are not the same thing.

    Then, every time I’ve been taught Jefferson in a history class his ownership of slaves has been at least mentioned. The same has not been true of FDR and Japanese Internment — the two are almost always taught separately, Japanese Internment being a scar on America’s, and not FDR’s, history.

    On that same note, what is forgivable, or at least admissible to the liberal (I’m not assuming your) sensibility? Hitler transformed the German economy by way of focused government intervention. Can we celebrate his success on that count? Can we celebrate his environmentalism? His great record on animal rights?!

  40. Naga,

    Traitor. We embedded that video, too.

    I think Cato was a little cranky for me. Cicero would be good, but he got wimpy when he needed to be hardcore.

    Seward,

    One interesting thing about the Republic vs. the Empire is that the provinces were arguably better and more fairly ruled during the Imperial period (the early part of it, anyway).

  41. “All cities are burned. All nations fall. Simply a matter of time my friend. Personally, I believe we got about another 100 to 300 years before an emperor takes over. Relax and party it up.”

    Only if the killer asteriod doesn’t get us first.

  42. Naga,

    I’m guessing it will be more like 50 years. I think all the current government deficit spending will eventually make the government collapse. I give it about 100 to 200 years before America is conquered by foreign powers.

  43. Pro Lib,

    I remember. I commented on it. For some reason I can’t remember I started learning to play the fiddle after that post. Strange. Also, you can be “noble” all you want when the apocalypse hits. I still suggest you take the Marchwarden of Florida gig. Society is heirarchal. Few at the top, most at the bottom. Better to reign in hell, than serve in heavan my friend.

  44. then again, Virgil hadn’t been the victim of a proscription

    Virgil received imperial funding to write the epic poem of the “origins” of Rome and the Julio-Claudians. He was sort of into the Principate.

    As an aside, I give The Aeneid three stars out of five. Not bad, and pretty well metered and relatively easy to read in the Latin.

  45. Travis,

    Read your Tacitus, my friend. They will stave it off over and over till it cannot be held up anymore. We still have a strong system. I would say 100 years minimum. 300 years maximum. If I’m wrong on the timing, I turn warlord.

    Gilbert Martin,

    Our luck has held so far. No sense in hoping it doesn’t keep holding up seeing as how there would be nothing to stop it. I think we have about 1 to 2 thousands years to be off this planet and moving on to another star system otherwise . . . extinction.

  46. The biggest problem is that as soon as someone gets elected to higher office, we expect them to be omniscient and benevolent. That’s why I couldn’t stand the presidential debates. No human being could have a coherent plan to fix EVERYTHING. It’s just not possible. So to ask these men(or women), flawed as they may be, to make unilateral decisions is just asking for disaster. And none of them have the humility to admit that they don’t know everything. It would make them look weak, and they wouldn’t get re-elected. Or so they’re told.

    Personally, if either candidate had answered the question “How do you plan to get us out of this recession?” with “You know, that’s a really good question. And as soon as I gather enough information to make an informed decision, we’ll craft a plan. But right now, the problem is so complex that I can’t really give you any concrete steps.”, I’d have voted for him. But that would have been political suicide since our Presidents need to know every nuance of every problem.

    Hero worship will be the cause of our downfall.

  47. Yes, what is Obama’s policy on protecting America from asteroids/comets from space? Hmmm?

    The fall of the U.S. could happen in a lot of ways, but I think the most likely thing to happen–and it could be in hundreds of years or next Thursday–is that our economy goes in the tank while we still have the top or nearly the top military in the world. If that happens, a desperate America may very well take the imperial gambit. I don’t think that could happen without domestic tyranny first, either.

    Episiarch,

    I just heard that the Iliad and the Odyssey weren’t available to most Europeans until very late (I’m not sure when, but I presume sometime around the Renaissance). They weren’t lost works, but they were only available in Greek, which most in Western Europe couldn’t manage during the Middle Ages. Which is why the Aeneid took so much more prominence over Homer’s superior epics. Consider Dante, for instance.

    Silentz,

    Absolutely. The answers, “I don’t know”, “That’s too complex to answer in ten seconds”, and “That’s not something the president and/or the government has the power to deal with” should be part of any debate. Which is why virtually all of the candidates we’ve seen in recent decades have been totally unprincipled. Principled people would say those things.

  48. “Our luck has held so far. No sense in hoping it doesn’t keep holding up seeing as how there would be nothing to stop it.”

    Sometime before Obama’s four years are up, I’ll probably be hoping the asteriod hurries up and gets here.

  49. Celebrating and worshiping are not the same thing.

    Whatever. You’re playing with words, here. Show me someone who actually “worships” FDR in any meaningful sense.

    Then, every time I’ve been taught Jefferson in a history class his ownership of slaves has been at least mentioned. The same has not been true of FDR and Japanese Internment — the two are almost always taught separately, Japanese Internment being a scar on America’s, and not FDR’s, history.

    My experience differs. I was taught about the Japanese internment as part of every WW2 course or module I took in HS and college.

    In that same note, what is forgivable, or at least admissible to the liberal (I’m not assuming your) sensibility?

    I can’t speak for liberals.

    Hitler…

    And you just Godwinned out. Fail.

  50. Gilbert,

    Depends on whether you invest in HOPE and CHANGE, my friend. (wink)

  51. Do you people think Malcolm McDowell could play an Obama?

  52. Do you people think Malcolm McDowell could play an Obama?

    Is there fisting involved? How about orgies?

  53. Episiarch,

    Yeah, he did get such funding, however, its in the Georgics I believe that there are signs that he too might have lost land due to the actions of the Second Triumvirate. That’s basically what I was getting at.

    Pro Libertate,

    Well, that is sort of the problem with relying on an “enlightened” leader to make the world a good place.

    So like, how many people here are classics geeks or what?

  54. Obamagula. Starring Malcolm McDowell as Obamagula, and Helen Mirren as his wife. Peter O’Toole will play Rahm Emanuel, and Sir John Gielgud will play Hillary Clinton.

  55. Seward,

    I’m in. The cognomen gives me away, I suppose.

  56. I demand a east german style spy agency….you know like the stasi….oh cool I already have one! Yay the USSA lives on!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvXX7hliz1U

  57. showing that it hit a peak of more than $800 billion in 1929 (in 1999 dollars), falling to $600 billion in early 1933, rising back to $800 billion in 1936 and approaching $875 billion in 1937 before sliding back to $825 billion in 1938 (the Roosevelt “Depression”) before surpassing $900 billion in late 1939 and headed higher. Yeah, the New Deal was a disaster! And we’re so oppressed these days!

    This is a poor arugment. The GDP trend is meaningless unless you have something to compare it with, as a period of negative growth followed by a gradual recovery is consistent with the New Deal being better than not doing anything, the New Deal being worse than not doing anything, or the New Deal being the same as not doing anything. Unless you can construct alternative GDP series representing different policy choices to contrast it with, it doesn’t provide support to any position on the efficacy of the New Deal.

  58. “Depends on whether you invest in HOPE and CHANGE, my friend. (wink)”

    Well we’re off to a good start – a tax cheat will be the head of the IRS.

    CHANGE you can believe in!

    I’m going to invest in some HOPE that I’ll be left with something more than a little spare CHANGE in my pocket after the new kleptocrats get through working me over.

  59. Pro Libertate,

    That you used the term cognomen also likely gives you away.

    On the Aeneid, note how also medieval Christians tried to use the work of Virgil as a prefiguring of Christ. His writings were also supposed to have magical properties.

  60. Seward,

    Ah . . . Virgil. The noble poet. Makes me wanna read the Aeneid again. Been over a decade since I did. I’m rereading Livy’s The War with Hannibal.

  61. And Plato was the 13th disciple. Kind of like Billy Preston.

  62. Naga,

    Sorry, what I wrote wasn’t very clear. What I meant was 50 years before the economy gets so bad that a military junta or tyrant takes control of the goverment to keep it together. Like other dictatorships they will probably keep congress around, but with very little authority.

  63. Travis,

    The name Congress will be retained, but the Senators and Representatives will be replaced by the emperor’s harem. With whom he’ll have, er, congress.

  64. Pro Lib,

    That would be awesome. Congress would be the one’s getting screwed instead of the citizens.

  65. During this period, Roosevelt functioned in a way similar to a dictator in the ancient sense of the Constitution of the Roman Republic: an official given total power for a brief time to handle a grave national emergency.

    This is what TARP is.
    A piece of blank check legistlation that give the executive absolute power to do whatever he wants with the economy, which is to say, absolute power.

    He can declare anything he wants a bank, and use the money to subsidize it, or nationalize it, or whatever.

  66. My experience differs. I was taught about the Japanese internment as part of every WW2 course or module I took in HS and college.

    Tonio – he sort of has a point; internment and Korematsu are generally not definitively linked to Roosevelt. It is taught as something that happened parallel to WWII and FDR, not as a cause-and-effect, this is FDR’s policy kind of thing.

  67. Doesn’t govt spending count toward GDP, GNP, or both?

  68. Pro Lib,

    You’re a genius!

    Travis,

    Negative. I’m turning warlord. Rule by the gun, sword, and flagrum in my realm. Pro Lib will abscond to Scotland and take his rightful place at the throne. Episiarch will . . . well I don’t know. He’s kind of a wildcard.

  69. Episiarch will . . . well I don’t know. He’s kind of a wildcard.

    I think I’ll wander around with my telepathic genius dog and possibly get asked to be a sperm donor for an entire underground society. After that I might bum around Europe for a while.

  70. Episiarch! Beware! On that path lies. . .Melanie Griffith.

  71. Naga,

    You shall be known as Naga the Unmerciful. Pro Lib can have Scotland. I mean who the hell else would want it.

  72. PL… Suzanne Benton, actually.

  73. Oops. “s” not “z”.

  74. Well, I intend to rule Scotland from its new capital, Dunedin, Florida, and I also plan to corner the world market in haggis, including haggis fritters, essence of haggis, haggis milkshakes, and haggis sushi.

    I’ll also re-legalize swords in Scotland. And dueling.

    SugarFree,

    Look deeper.

  75. ProL, this Melanie Griffith?

  76. I think I’ll wander around with my telepathic genius dog and possibly get asked to be a sperm donor for an entire underground society. After that I might bum around Europe for a while.

    Maybe you should make an illustrated primer for a young lady.

  77. The skank ho, Melanie Griffith? Yes, that would be the one.

  78. I think you’re failing to get my point, ProL. Have you seen Night Moves?

  79. There is skank, and there is not-skank. There is no in between.

  80. PL,

    I got the Cherry 2000 ref, but Epi was making a “A Boy and His Dog” ref. Therefore, Susanne Benton, love interest in ABAHD.

    I think Epi should go to Carousel or maybe co-opt Hell Tanner’s career. I also think he’d look good in a red diaper. I don’t say this in a gay way, just the appreciation that one heterosexual man can have for another when he looks at his lavish-haired chest and muscular thighs.

  81. showing that it hit a peak of more than $800 billion in 1929 (in 1999 dollars), falling to $600 billion in early 1933, rising back to $800 billion in 1936 and approaching $875 billion in 1937 before sliding back to $825 billion in 1938 (the Roosevelt “Depression”) before surpassing $900 billion in late 1939 and headed higher. Yeah, the New Deal was a disaster! And we’re so oppressed these days!

    Epic shitty hackery.

    Do people recall the New Deal as a wistful bygone era? Did you ever talk to your grandparents much?

    Putting GDP aside, after all, its refutation as a leading indicator should be considered too elementary for grown-ups to have to indulge in, what would a misery index of the 30’s look like?

  82. I caught Episiarch’s reference, but taking on the persona of Don Johnson presents some grave dangers.

  83. Pro Lib,

    About your skank ho link . . . I’d hit it. Just sayin’.

    Travis,

    The Unmerciful? Please! I will be known as The Lord Protector. My favorite line will be “You’re a funny man, I like you. That’s why I’m going to kill you last” followed at some point by “Remember, when I promised to kill you last? I lied.”.

  84. PL,

    Ah, you moved sideways… sorry I didn’t keep up. I have a tendency to selectively erase the fact Crockett was in ABAHD.

  85. This is what TARP is.
    A piece of blank check legistlation that give the executive absolute power to do whatever he wants with the economy, which is to say, absolute power.

    He can declare anything he wants a bank, and use the money to subsidize it, or nationalize it, or whatever.

    Yes, except that Obama won’t be calling those shots any more than Bush was, he’ll be taking his orders from the plutocracy as well.

  86. SugarFree,

    It’s an occupational hazard of being the Kwisatz Haderach–I see all consequences.

  87. Well, your name is a killing word.

  88. I caught Episiarch’s reference, but taking on the persona of Don Johnson presents some grave dangers.

    What, living on a boat with an alligator named Elvis as a pet?

  89. And having a little too intimate relationship with Phillip Michael Thomas and wearing pastels? Yeah, I don’t think that’s a wise path. I’d rather make the sandtrout my skin.

  90. Uh… no… there are some much, much worse consequences…

    I don’t care what you say
    you can give it away

    Your money don’t mean much to me.
    I’ve been out on my own
    gonna got it alone now

    ‘Cause that’s the way it’s got to be.
    Ev’rybody tells me how I can beat the odds for now.
    Well
    I’ve been standing by the fire
    but I iust can’t feel the heat.

    Heartbeat – I’m looking for a heartbeat

    Heartbeat – I’m looking for a heartbeat
    beating like mine.

  91. Ugh. I’d rather jab my neck with the gom jabbar, the high-handed enemy, than hear that again.

  92. I refuse to think of Johnson as anything except Crockett. Especially when Cheech Marin is involved. That show was like his own personal TJ Hooker.

  93. Hey, now! Johnson, even at his high point, was no Shat. I posted earlier today a porn star paean to the current iteration of Shatner. Now that is power.

  94. I’ve always maintained that Inger Stevens is my end-of-the-world dream girl.

  95. Sometimes your tastes confuse me, NutraSweet.

  96. Pish-posh.

  97. Here’s a more typical post-apocalyptic option.

  98. SugarFree,

    Awesome! I’m gonna have to watch that one.

  99. Ever had a dose of post-apocalyptic clap? No thanks.

  100. Yeah, cuz there is nothing as erotic as sleeping next to a tiger. A tiger that seems to be a cannibalistic, sword wielding, killer kung fu whoop bitch.

    I got your back, bro.

  101. Naga,

    Beware, it’s never been released on DVD. There are some crappy VHSs floating around, a region 2 release, and AMC shows every three years or so. I got lucky and saw it at the George Eastman House L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation theater in a double feature with Panic In the Year Zero, a horrid adaption of the fantastic “Lot” by Ward Moore. (Who is a criminally forgotten author that is ill-served by that shitty wiki entry.)

  102. ProL, interestingly, I just watched that film last week. Not as bad as I expected, but completely mediocre. And very reminiscent of 28 Weeks Later.

  103. Episiarch,

    Didn’t even know where that came from. Doomsday, Hmmm? Suckish? I’ll skip it, then.

    I suppose the chick from Lifeforce would be good for end days. The actress, not the character.

  104. Doomsday did turn into a suck a thon. And not the good kind! Though the eye thing of hers was awesome. I believe Quagmire could make use of the extra hole. OH!

  105. “what would a misery index of the 30’s look like?”

    How about double digit unemployment throughout the 30’s? How can anybody think the New Deal was a good deal?

  106. Don Johnson was some hotness c. 1980. I’m not defending his talent or career. But in the early 80s – before Miami Vice, mind – he was some hotness, at least if you were a 17 year old girl. I was, ya’ll weren’t, you’ll have to trust me on this one.

    I blame a lot of it on Melanie. She’s some kind of hotness vampire – sucks it right out of the men she entraps — see also Stephen Bauer and Antonio Banderas.

  107. stubby,

    So you agree with my skank ho verdict?

  108. I had a “discussion” with a friend recently, who thinks Obama should be given all the power, discretion, benefit of the doubt and assumption of good intentions he asks for. It’s necessary, you know, because we’re in such “dangerous times.”

    I explained that, in my opinion (and the opinion of some long dead guys who knew a thing or two), constitutional checks on power are never more necessary than when we’re in dangerous times. The whole idea confused her – good presidents should have lots of power, bad presidents shouldn’t.

    The next four years are going to be hard, scary and really really funny.

  109. The chick from Lifeforce is Mathilda May – related research has found something for me to Netflix.

  110. Pro: not necessarily. Skank ho/not skank ho can be a continuum, but in some peoples’ cases it’s not. It took Don a while to go from not skank ho to skank ho. Melanie started at skank ho.

    Figures that out of this whole discussion, the references I got immediately, with no need for a refresher from Wikipedia, were the Malcolm Macdowell and Billy Preston shout outs. I know who all the Roman guys were, of course, I just couldn’t tell you what their positions and philosphies were. And all I remember of the Gracci is something I read in a Colleen McCullough book, and that great scene in Rome where Cornelia kills herself outside Octavius’ mother’s villa, with Antony looking on (yes, completely ahistorical, but a fantastic scene. Polly Walker was great.)

    I was thinking I’d go back and read some of those guys, but then I remembered I’m in the middle of a Tim Powers series and I’ve got a Neil Gaiman lined up, and honestly, I know I won’t get around to it. That’s why you guys and Wikipedia are for.

  111. stubby,

    Damned straight. Octavian led during dangerous times. As did a certain German chancellor, a French general, etc., etc., etc. Building checks into your government and limiting its power are the only ways to protect us. As I mentioned above, the current view many have of presidents is akin to the way Romans viewed their emperors–the only way you can have more liberty is to get a more benevolent dictator. WRONG, WRONG, AND WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I feared that my Billy Preston comment was too obscure for this group. Excellent.

    As for skank hoes, I meant Melanie Griffith, though Don Johnson smells a little nasty, too, come to think of it.

  112. I’m just assuming you guys are useing “skank ho” as a compliment. If not, feel free to throw them my way.

  113. HOGAN! YOU SHALL BE REWARDED FOR YOUR INFORMATION. THE URKOBOLD ASSUMES THAT THIS MOVIE, LIKE LIFEFORCE, INVOLVES MISS MAY WALKING AROUND NAKED AND, REALLY, DID ANYTHING ELSE HAPPEN IN THAT MOVIE?

  114. Pro: I am old enough (but only just) to have seen Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. (Pause). Twice.

    The sisterhood informs me that nothing, not Melanie Griffith, yea, not even Madonna, can suck the hotness from Antonio Banderas. I retract the statement and will report for reeducation immediately. There goes my weekend.

  115. Dear God, the Bee Gees’ film? I’m old enough to have seen it as a kid, but I was wise enough even then to have evaded its disturbing clutches. Whatever were you thinking?

    Banderas dared to touch Salma Hayek, which bothered me until I got married. Now I’ve replaced Salma Hayek with her functional equivalent, Mrs. Libertate.

  116. I was 14. I was thinking “Peter Frampton! sighhhhh…”

  117. You should’ve just bought Frampton Comes Alive! and been done with it.

  118. I was a 14 year old girl. I didn’t appreciate his music till I was older. In 1978, 14 year old girls thought pale, waiflike men were why am I discussing this. It’s shameful. Never mind.

  119. Alan Alda?

  120. Dammit. I was drinking something right then.

    No Alda. But oh, Shaun Cassidy…

  121. Okay, so you were also in the Parker Stevenson/Donny Osmond/Leif Garrett crowd?

  122. Absolutely.

  123. I thought you girls were crazy then, let alone now. I mean, might as well go the lesbian route for what maleness you would have gotten from all of those guys combined. The 70s were a dark, dark time for everything but movies and some music.

  124. So like, how many people here are classics geeks or what?

    Sheepishly raises hand.

    I’m currently reading Aeshylus’ Oresteia.

  125. I thought you girls were crazy then, let alone now. I mean, might as well go the lesbian route for what maleness you would have gotten from all of those guys combined. The 70s were a dark, dark time for everything but movies and some music.

    Can’t argue with any of that. The decade was kind of a nadir for maleness – pale, skinny and hairy.

    The androgyny thing is popular with tween girls, tho -look at the “guys” in High School Musical. Young girls like the pretty boys b/c they’re sexually nonthreatening.

    Watched United States of Tara with the hub last night – there’s this absolutely fricking ghastly skank of a girly-boy boyfriend who roughs up the daughter. I looked at the hub and said “God, I’m glad you have all those guns.”

  126. Just wait. In a couple of years Barack H. will be indistinguishable from George W.
    Or not. Who the hell am I to say?
    They don’t call us the “peanut gallery” for nothin’.

    Whatchu lookin’ at, cracker?

  127. Could Alan Vanneman be an alternate incarnation of joe? If so, why? It doesn’t make much sense. But the pattern of citing the same questionable data time and again makes me wonder.

  128. I’m not going to protest anything they do the next 4-8 years. It won’t make a difference, and they won’t be satisfied until they’ve had their turn at fucking up. God knows I’ve already resigned myself to eight years of sickening hopey-changey platitudes.

    Maybe I’ll take up beer pong again. It’s been about twenty years since I’ve last played, but I was skilled at it back in the day.

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