There is something of a miracle playing in American movie theaters right now. Listen to the plot: Two mothers struggle to reform an inner-city school. Standing in their way are the villains: an entrenched bureaucracy and the teachers’-union president. Won’t Back Down is a real movie, too, a genuine Hollywood flick, with genuine movie stars: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Holly Hunter, Rosie Perez. Critics are outraged, calling the movie right-wing propaganda. We are reminded of the 2008 Democratic primaries, in which the Clintons were called racist for daring to oppose Barack Obama. How does it feel, friends?
On the evening of October 3, after the lights went out at the West Coast ballparks and the regular season was in the books, one player, Miguel Cabrera, third baseman for the Detroit Tigers, stood atop the American League in batting average (.330), home runs (44), and runs batted in (139). Only the 15th player to win the Triple Crown, and the first since 1967, Cabrera should be a lock for the Most Valuable Player award, at least as some baseball traditionalists see it. But rookie Mike Trout, a standout five-tool player, good with the glove and on the basepaths as well as at bat, led the league in WAR, or wins above replacement value: The Los Angeles Angels are calculated to have won ten more games with him in their line-up than they would have won with an average replacement player. The iron logic of WAR, a relatively new metric, is compelling. But the classic beauty of sweeping the three most time-honored batting metrics has charm. It’s persuasive. The numbers don’t lie, though sometimes they disagree. In the spirit of geometry, as Pascal called it, the MVP award belongs to Trout. It should go to Cabrera in the spirit of finesse.
Raccoons are taking over New York City, and we don’t mean Ralph Kramden’s lodge brothers. Residents of the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn report an infestation of the masked rascals, who have been knocking over trash cans, invading yards, frightening pets, and just generally way overplaying their cuteness. A few years ago, coyotes were spotted in the city (where’s Rick Perry when you need him?), but for true New Yorkers, this is even worse — the bridge-and-tunnel crowd invading from the suburbs. No raccoons have yet been spotted in the vicinity of National Review’s offices, but if one ever is, our plan it to tranquilize it with Obama campaign ads and then put it on New Jersey Transit to Gladstone. If the result is anything like the typical commute, the raccoon will never find its way back to the city.