January 28, 2005

The early bird...I was going to comment on the Alterman-Jarvis melee over Iraqi bloggers, but this post (on Hit & Run) probably encapsulates what I wanted to say anyways, so screw it. The important thing to note is that a CIA plant in the blogosphere would probably be writing in Arabic (or Farsi), would target its audience beyond the small neocon cocoon in the U.S., and would definitely not publicly meet with President Bush.
Balls: Little Roy. Excitable Andrew....off the rails again...an enemy of the state...in the throes of AIDS-related dementia. The poor guy gets no love from either half of the political divide, but his pugnaciousness is to be respected. I guess the good thing about not possessing an indoor voice is that you not only communicate what you think, but what you feel. Sullivan may piss off everyone else in the process, but people do talk about him.

January 27, 2005

Never Mind: It's been only a week, and already President Bush is taking steps to disavow the clear language of his Inauguration speech.

January 26, 2005

Why all bloggers need an "indoor voice":
If I had been a member of the Ku Klux Klan, I would have been so ashamed of myself I would have spent the rest of my life cleaning out toilets for Third World orphanages or some such. But then I can't imagine having joined anything as wretched as the Klan, so maybe I would have ended up a self-righteous bloviator in the US Sentate. Virtually my entire adult life Robert Byrd has been in the US Senate and virtually every time I hear him speak my skin crawls, thinking of what he did. When I hear the press praise him as a great statesman, I want to throw up. Some things are just unforgiveable to me, like being a Klansman or a Concentration Camp Guard.
--Roger L. Simon

Granted, the KKK is pretty icky, and it is certainly a black mark on his biography that the senator joined the organization in the '40's, and an even blacker mark that he remained a vociferous opponent of civil rights (and an adversary of Martin Luther King) well into the 1960's. He will clearly have to answer to his Maker for those transgressions. But, please...comparing him with Ivan of Treblinka is just a bit hysterical, don't you think?

If everyone was forever judged by the political miscalculations they made in their youth, we would have a polity made up entirely of the boring and predictable, all alums of the College Democrats and the Young Republicans. To give just a couple of examples, Hugo Black was a member of the KKK before he became one of the most passionate supporters of civil rights on the Supreme Court. Harry Truman tried to join the Klan, but ultimately backed out when the group's anti-Catholicism proved too uncomfortable for a would-be machine politician from Kansas City. The neoconservative movement was largely founded by people who had belonged to one branch or another of the Communist Party in the late-30's. Numerous political figures today belonged to some offshoot or another of the SDS or SNCC in the late-60's, groups that ultimately evolved into terrorist organizations. Even more to Simon's point, Martin Niemoller and Claus von Stauffenberg were, at one time, members in good standing of the German National Socialist Party. People change.

The point isn't that we should forget the actions Senator Byrd took in the 1940's, it is that he should be judged the same way we would insist that we be judged: by his mature political conduct. So long as there isn't any evidence that Byrd took part in a lynching, or ever burned a cross in anger, he shouldn't be defined by what he did sixty years ago.

One of the best reasons to read the LA Times (well, that and T.J.), Michael Hiltzik, is preparing the definitive book on the fake Social Security crisis. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist's columns are biting, and always fun to read. [via LA Observed]

January 25, 2005

From my mouth to God's ear: Boxer's tour de force last week has started the bandwagon moving. Boxer has always had one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate, but she was relatively quiet her first two terms, and usually overshadowed by Dianne Feinstein. Her landslide victory in November liberated her; her margin of victory (2.4 million votes) was almost as large as Bush's was in the whole country (3 million), so if anyone won't be intimidated by Republican triumphalism, or talk of a "Bush Mandate" it's the Fighting Senator from California.
Nope, I haven't seen any of the five nominated films this year. In fact, I haven't seen any of the nominated performances yet, and only one of the films nominated for writing (The Incredibles). It's too damn expensive to take myself to a matinee; I can only imagine what those of you with children and significant others have to do. Live-action movies are becoming more and more akin to radio drama in the early-50's, an archaism running on fumes, and the last time I checked, my TV works just fine.

The reaction of the blogosphere has been far more telling. So far, the big story seems to be not that Martin Scorcese will finally get his gold watch this year, or the unjust(?) snubbing of Paul Giamatti, or the long-unanticipated rematch between Hillary Swank and Annette Bening, but that Fahrenheit 9/11 didn't become the first documentary ever to be nominated for Best Film. Apparently, bloggers of the starboard persuasion live in an alternative universe, where controversial documentaries are given rubber-stamp nominations by the Academy as a matter of course. Those of you who have long memories might note that Hoop Dreams, The Thin Blue Line, and, of course, Roger and Me weren't even nominated for Best Documentary in the years they came out.

As much as they hate to admit, the fact that they could even contemplate the possibility that Michael Moore might go where Peter Davis, Barbara Kopple, and Maysles brothers couldn't is a testament to what a powerful film 9/11 was; after all, when was the last time the failure of a documentary to merit an Oscar nomination for best film was even noticed? AMPAS represents the geriatric wing of Hollywood, its membership disproportionately from the business end of moviemaking, and it is no surprise that more controversial fare gets shunned (remember Citizen Kane? Double Indemnity? High Noon?).

Moore fans, of course, have no right to complain: the animated film The Incredibles was the best thing shown in theatres last year, and it didn't get a best film nod either. But the obsession conservatives have with Mr. Moore is starting to get rather creepy.

January 24, 2005

Even if his participation in these ads didn't violate a half a dozen ethics rules, one would have hoped that simple class and decorum would have dissuaded Senator Coleman. And he represents a Blue State !!