Some days are slow news days, and some filled with events that seem to reveal a great deal and who we are, or what we're becoming. Thursday, May 18, 2006, was on of the latter. Here's an array of that day's events for you consideration, with commentary.
Chickens Coming Home to Roost, Again
This was supposed to go away. From these pages, March 29, 2006, The game is winding down, the one started on the nursery school playground... -
In the same issue this was also mentioned here to make a different point, and again in the April 16th issue here in another context - "When a culture is as historically clueless and morally desensitized as this one appears to be..."
And if Abu Ghraib and some events at Guantánamo weren't enough now we have Haditha.
Well, it doesn't really count as March madness, as the event happened on 19 November last year. Marines this time. The Pentagon and Naval Criminal Investigative Service have opened an investigation (the Marines are traditionally part of the Navy). Time magazine covers it here
- a raid where we captured a bad guy, but fifteen civilians, including six women and children, died. Was it civilians unfortunately in the way? The building just collapsed and that was that?
We say so. The local police say no. It may be that our guys lost one of there own and got angry and things spun out of control. A cameraman working for Reuters in Haditha at the time said bodies were left lying in the street for hours after the attack. One source here
has the women and children handcuffed and shot in the head, execution-style. ABC News covers it here
with video of the aftermath shot by an Iraqi journalism student - but who did what? That there is now a formal investigation is not a good sign. We've been forced to look into this. Abandoning the usual "sorry, fog of war" line is not a good sign. Ah, maybe it's nothing - things happened just as the guys said.
But then it was time to let it go, and not mention the three Marine officers from that same unit who had been dismissed from command, for the cryptic reason that their superiors had "lost confidence" in their battlefield decisions. It was a local story, from Camp Pendleton, the big Marine base down the coast at Oceanside. And it was Donald Rumsfeld who famously said of the looting of Baghdad and the murders in the streets there, "stuff happens." Democracy is messy and all that. Maybe this was a "stuff happens" thing. Or maybe it's just not true.
But the story resurfaced here on May 17th from NBC -
Murtha holds a news conference and says when this is over it will be clear that "there was no firefight, there was no IED (improvised explosive device) that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."
A Pentagon probe into the death of Iraqi civilians last November in the Iraqi city of Haditha will show that U.S. Marines "killed innocent civilians in cold blood," a U.S. lawmaker said Wednesday.
From the beginning, Iraqis in the town of Haditha said U.S. Marines deliberately killed 15 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including seven women and three children.
One young Iraqi girl said the Marines killed six members of her family, including her parents. "The Americans came into the room where my father was praying," she said, "and shot him."
On Wednesday, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said the accounts are true.
Military officials told NBC News that the Marine Corps' own evidence appears to show Murtha is right.
A videotape taken by an Iraqi showed the aftermath of the alleged attack: a blood-smeared bedroom floor and bits of what appear to be human flesh and bullet holes on the walls.
The video, obtained by Time magazine, was broadcast a day after town residents told The Associated Press that American troops entered homes on Nov. 19 and shot dead 15 members of two families, including a 3-year-old girl, after a roadside bomb killed a U.S. Marine.
On Nov. 20, U.S. Marines spokesman Capt. Jeffrey Pool issued a statement saying that on the previous day a roadside bomb had killed 15 civilians and a Marine. In a later gunbattle, U.S. and Iraqi troops killed eight insurgents, he said.
U.S. military officials later confirmed that the version of events was wrong.
NBC gets one military official to admit, off the record, "This one is ugly." The Marine Corps issues a statement saying that they won't say anything - an ongoing investigation and can't mess it up by saying anything now.
Now John Murtha called this news conference not to deal with whatever happened at Haditha, but to point out it had been six months to the day since he had upset everyone and called for "redeployment" of American forces from Iraq. As you recall, when he did that the strange little woman from Cincinnati called Murtha a coward on the floor of the House. The Bush side introduced a sham proposal that we withdraw all forces from Iraq immediately, every single person there, and dared the Democrats to vote for that. Murtha and others protested that's not what Murtha had proposed. The Bush side said it was the same thing, really. It was a mess. Six months later Murtha is still saying the same thing, redeploy big blocks of our forces to other sites in the area and stop making things worse - and this Haditha business is one reason why. Our guys are so stressed out and overextended they can really lose it. And when they do it's awful for everyone, so let's help keep these guys from going all crazy and rethink what where doing, with whom and where.
And then he went on NBC's Hardball and said the same thing (video here).
What's going on?
The right exploded with anger calling him a traitor and saying he should be shot and all that. But he's an odd duck, a Marine himself for almost thirty years, extremely pro-military and on the inside with the top command of all the services. Was he relaying a message to the administration from them, one they themselves couldn't force up the chain of command given the personality of the civilian commander of the armed forces, the current Secretary of Defense, the testy and impatient Donald Rumsfeld with his set ideas on how things should be no matter who says what and no matter what happens? Murtha has played this messenger role before. Was this a massage from the field - our troops need some relief here as this is going nowhere? Perhaps.
But that message was lost as it seems the Haditha event, seeming to be just what Murtha said, itself took center stage - some saying it didn't happen, or if it did it should have never been revealed as it hurts America, and others saying it surely did happen and shows something awful about the guys in charge, or the administration, or the whole idea of the war itself, or our whole culture, or whatever.
See Bill Montgomery here -
And as for that office who said "this one is ugly" -
When the Abu Ghraib horror show first aired on 60 Minutes, I remember wondering whether it would prove to be the Iraq War's version of the My Lai Massacre - with the photo of the hooded man on his box, arms spread in a crucifix, as the enduring image of a military machine run amok, just as a photo of murdered Vietnamese women and children, sprawled in the middle of a muddy road, became the Americal Division's permanent badge of shame.
To a degree, that's what happened - with the hapless sadists of the 184th Infantry Regiment serving as the collective stand-ins for Lt. William Calley, and Colin Powell reprising his earlier role as the bullshit artist telling everybody what they want to hear.
But now it appears that instead of a symbolic My Lai, we have the genuine article...
As for the congressman from Pennsylvania -
Ugly? That doesn't even begin to cover it. Dick Cheney is ugly. The Pentagon is ugly. An Abrams tank is ugly. Executing helpless women and children while they're huddled on the floor, praying to their God, is a war crime committed by terrorists. It's Lidice and Rwanda and Srebrenica and, of course, My Lai.
... I don't know if it's better or worse that this atrocity seems to have been committed by a military unit completely out of control, instead of one that was following orders, as was clearly the case at Abu Ghraib. On one hand, you can argue that it's simply a reminder that Americans are as capable of being beasts as anyone else: Germans, Japanese, Russians, Serbs, Arabs, Afghans, Israelis, Somalians, Afrikaaners, Salvadorans - the list goes on and on. There's nothing exceptional about us, even in our war crimes.
On the other hand, the fact that U.S. Marines - the few, the proud, etc. - were capable of such bestiality says something ominous about the psychological state of the American military after three years of being stretched to the limit. These weren't draftees or Guardsmen or pathetic losers like Calley. These were professionals, supposedly the best of the best, and yet they threw away their training, their code and their honor, and drenched themselves and their flag in the blood of innocents. They simply snapped, in other words, and it makes me wonder how many more like them are out there - one IED or ambush away from going berserk.
There is a whiff of genocide in the air, and not just in Iraq. While the keyboard warriors still talk in slightly coded terms about waging war with the "ferocity" required to win, some of the real warriors aren't bothering to conceal what those terms really mean.
As for the reaction on the right see the roundup from Glenn Greenwald here, including - "Frankly, this is the action of a traitor or a sellout. He deserves to be ridiculed, excoriated and frog-marched off Capitol Hill, then remanded to jail. No bail. Doesn't this idiot know the type of damage this inflicts on the Marines?"
I don't know why Murtha went public (just as the right wingers don't know) but I can make my own guess: He did it to try to prevent Rumsfeld's toadies from classifying and then deep-sixing the investigative report, as they tried to bury the Taguba report on Abu Ghraib. And if the past really is prologue, Murtha is probably speaking on behalf of some fairly senior Marine officers who either can't abide a cover up, or who want to pin the blame on the people who created this mess, and left the jarheads in Haditha to deal with it, instead of on their beloved Corps.
Murtha was thinking of the damage already done, and continuing.
And there's this from Greenwald -
And he moves on to those attacks on investigative journalism. It's all the same.
Ultimately, do any of these war supporters really care if these allegations are true? Weren't they just recently celebrating Shelby Steele's recommendation that we fight this war with much less precision and sensitivity to civilian deaths, and with much greater and unrestrained "ferocity"? Are they angry at Murtha for violating their oh-so-deeply held beliefs in the need for due process before publicly proclaiming someone's guilt, or are they angry at him for confirming that the U.S. engaged in conduct in Iraq which, yet again, is incalculably harmful to our image and credibility in that region, supposedly the principal purpose of our occupation?
This administration hates nothing more than people who publicize politically harmful information that they want to conceal. Those who have been most viciously attacked, and at whom the most intense calls for imprisonment have been aimed, have been those who have disclosed information that has reflected poorly on the Commander-in-Chief and his administration. That is what explains these sustained attacks on investigative journalism. Investigative journalists, by definition, reveal information which the Bush administration wants to keep secret, and they are therefore one of the prime Enemies.
Who we are? A large bloc of us thinks about the Marine shooting the three-year-old and her mother in the head as they pray, and feel that this is fine. We need to show these people not to mess with us. And if you blab about it you're a traitor. Interesting.
Tap-Dancing into the CIA
While all that was being discussed, the no-nonsense, blue-collar general from Pittsburgh (profile with photo here) faced the Senate Intelligence Committee, the first step in his confirmation as the new head of the CIA - they say he's okay and the nomination goes to the full senate for the formality of vote that counts for the record. He'll be fine. He's a shoe-in. John Bolton never got the larger vote to be confirmed as our UN Ambassador, but Bolton had a long history of saying the UN should be eliminated as they were all fools and crooks. The president had to use a recess appointment to get him up to the big blue building on the East River, where he could say such things to their faces there. But that's not the case here. Michael V. Hayden, who for six years ran the NSA with all those spy-on-every-American programs of dubious legality and questionable effectiveness, loves the CIA and wants to make it hum. Or that was his line.
The NSA stuff had to come up, even if his confirmation is assured.
Associated Press has the bare bones here -
As a practical man, legal or not, he had to run those programs. And what does it matter now, in this new job as head of the CIA, or more formally the Director of Central Intelligence?
CIA director nominee Michael Hayden acknowledged concerns about civil liberties even as he vigorously defended the Bush administration's warrantless eavesdropping program as a legal spy tool needed to ensnare terrorists.
Peppered with tough questions at a daylong confirmation hearing Thursday, the four-star Air Force general portrayed himself as an independent thinker, capable of taking over the CIA as it struggles with issues ranging from nuclear threats to its place among 15 other spy agencies.
Hayden spoke of his own concerns about the no-warrant surveillance program and other eavesdropping operations he oversaw as National Security Agency chief from 1999 until last year.
"Clearly, the privacy of American citizens is a concern - constantly," he told the Senate Intelligence Committee. "And it's a concern in this program. It's a concern in everything we've done."
Hayden said he decided to go ahead with the terrorist surveillance program in October 2001 after internal discussions about what more the NSA could do to detect potential attacks. He believed the work to be legal and necessary, an assertion Democrats and civil liberties groups have aggressively questioned.
"The math was pretty straightforward," Hayden said. "I could not not do this."
As for the NSA business, Senator Levin - "Is that the whole program?" Hayden - "I'm not at liberty to talk about that in open session."
So thee was a closed-door session in the evening. No one will know what was said there. Whatever.
Hayden - "I also believe it's time to move past what seems to me to be an endless picking apart of the archaeology of every past intelligence success or failure."
Let it go, guys.
One critic, Christy Hardin Smith, won't, as we see here -
But Hayden is saying what's done is done. Let's move on.
... just got off a phone conference call that the ACLU arranged with Bruce Fein regarding the Hayden nomination for DCI and the implications that the hearings might have for the illegal domestic wiretapping without a warrant in which the NSA has been engaged.
One of the things that Bruce Fein said struck me, and I wanted to bring it to everyone's attention here: the Bush Administration is doing everything it can to prevent any of the illegally collected data and information from being used in any courtroom context, because they do not want to have to face the consequences of a constitutional challenge to their failure to obtain a lawful warrant. Think about that for a moment - Bruce Fein is no liberal, he is a very conservative Reagan Republican, having worked in the DoJ as Deputy Attorney General in the Reagan Administration.
And he is saying, out loud, that the Bush White House is avoiding constitutional scrutiny because they know - they KNOW - they will be shown to be what they are. Lawbreakers.
And Congress has been letting them get away with this, because they have put their perceived duty to their party and to partisanship and division ahead of their duty to the nation, to our principles and our Constitution.
This must stop. And that's where all of our readers come in - if you can, today, please take the time to e-mail, FAX or call the members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, first, and ask them to place partisanship aside and put the good of the country and our constitutional system of government first in how they evaluate General Hayden and the NSA wiretapping programs in which he was involved.
Smith say no -
Yeah, yeah, he did toe the administration line - no matter what you learned about the constitution in eight-grade civics class, the president is the big guy there to protect us all and can violate any law and ignore any court ruling about any law as that's his job, to deicide how to keep us safe. Article II says so, sort of - he's the daddy here, although the general from Pittsburgh didn't put it quite that way.
I missed another great Bruce Fein point from my notes: that the Hayden hearings have done nothing to dispel - and have, in fact made it more of a concern - that there is no line that Hayden wouldn't cross if the President asked him to do so. Which makes the need for real, meaningful oversight all the more necessary.
A large bloc of Americans is fine with that, saying we're all the silly kids and he's the stern and nasty daddy. Interesting.
English Only Down Mexico Way
What was daddy up to? He was in Yuma talking up his immigration ideas (see this) - he likes fences. They're neat. The problem is no one agrees what sort of neat wall we should have. The House proposes one across the whole border down that way, almost six hundred miles of wall. The president thinks one half that size would be fine, and the rest could be a virtual wall - he sees unmanned spy drones in the sky, and tethered radar blimps, and motion sensors and cool cameras, and wants almost two billion for the big defense contractors who will set it all up. Neat. The Mexicans are offended the we're thinking of building any kind of wall at all.
Yes, it's not very friendly, but the current chat on the right is all about the Mexican "invasion" - and when you put it like that, they are the enemy. The president has proposed sending in the National Guard, six thousand of them to the border. And even if they're just doing logistic and administrative work, it is nicely military in its feel. A character in a satire on Air America said, as the president was in Yuma, that the real answer was landmines - a few poor guys who need work and their women and children get their legs blown off and there'll be no problem. And someone may make that argument for real soon.
In any event, the real action, unlike in cowboy movies, wasn't in Yuma. The action was back in Washington, where the House is angry with the Senate as the Senate gets all mixed-message on the issue, as is the president. Yep, they vote for a guest worker program, and for offering a path to citizenship for a good number of the twelve million or so illegal immigrants already in the country and being normal and rather boring, as in paying taxes and being good - and at the very same time, so the House and the red-meat but-these-folks-aren't-exactly-white angry folks don't get mad, they vote for a wall (the shorter one with the electronic gizmos) and throw in a kicker. The Senate votes to make English the official language of America.
What? That's a new one.
The Los Angeles Times, from the city where every ATM is English-Spanish, covers that here -
Yep, they're arguing about changing the citizenship test.
The GOP-backed amendment, which passed 63 to 34, would allow the government to continue to offer publications and services - such as bilingual ballots - in languages other than English. It would require all illegal immigrants seeking to legalize their status in the United States to pass English proficiency tests and would offer guidelines to the Department of Homeland Security for a revised citizenship test.
Heated discussions about the measure dominated the Senate's proceedings, as proponents argued that it was needed to unite the country, while opponents insisted that it would leave the nation more divided.
Designating an official language is important to conservatives, who argue that the government should require English proficiency to ensure that the country does not descend into two societies, and that the 11 million to 12 million undocumented workers now in the United States only become citizens if they can speak the language.
Republicans, led by the principal sponsor, Sen. James Inhoffe (R-Okla.), argued that the amendment is needed because a common language is an important step in allowing people to talk to each other.
"It will help unify us as a nation," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).
But the amendment also creates questions of fairness, said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), citing the possibility of someone who is legally in the United States but has difficulty with English. Currently, interpreters are provided in many official forums, such as courts. And many states, including California, provide official ballots in different languages.
"Are we going too far?" Durbin asked about the amendment. "What of people who are poor with limited language skills? Are we being fair?"
Republicans insisted that the amendment's language wouldn't prevent needed translations services.
"We are having a great debate on what it means to be an American," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
See this -
He sees no slippery slope. No one will later use the law to stop printing ballots in other languages, to keep down the vote of those who just don't vote Republican. No one will later use the law to get rid of court interpreters, putting some of those folks in jail. You have to trust him on that.
"The reason I'm voting for this is that I think it tries to unite us," Graham said, adding that nothing in the amendment prevents the use of interpreters in courtrooms for those whose English is not strong enough. "It doesn't disturb the legal situation in this country. If I thought it did, I wouldn't vote for it."
"What of people who are poor with limited language skills? Are we being fair?"
We elected one of them (but not poor) to be our president. No problem. Anyone can grow up to be president, even without language skills - or curiosity, knowledge of the world or any significant or relevant experience or talent. We proved it.
As for the president's mixed-message problem - build an impressive wall to keep people out and, at the same time, welcome people and ask them to stay if they're good - John Dickerson here points out the president has done and odd thing, he's trapped himself in a "nuance box" -
Maybe so, but one man's nuance and rational middle ground is another's muddleheaded confusion and mixed-messages. One can be sure Vincente Fox is confused, as confused at the House deport-them-all fanatics.
President Bush has built his political career on clarity and simplicity. He's presented himself as the teller of truths sharply stated. He and his administration saw things clearly, made crisp decisions, and were home for dinner. In the post-9/11 uproar, Bush's clarity defined him and won him admirers. His plain-spokenness about "evil" was bracing and just what the country seemed to want. But the president's greatest talent has suddenly become a curse. Lack of clarity bedevils Bush on immigration reform, high gas prices, and Iraq. He's now trying to make nuanced arguments but his presidency rests on an anti-nuance platform. Now he has to actually make a subtle case, but he has neither the tools to do so nor a receptive audience.
Democrats have come to see any Bush attempt at nuance as a bait and switch. "Compassionate conservatism" sounded OK to them in 2000, but then Bush turned out to be just conservative. And conservatives see nuance as a sign of weakness, in part because Bush has taught them to view it as such. During the 2004 campaign, Bush advisers and campaign officials turned "nuance" into a pejorative. They walloped Kerry with it like a mallet. It was a point of pride for the president, who once reportedly told Sen. Joe Lieberman, "I don't do nuance."
Now Bush is nuancing all over the place, trying to explain to his supporters the complicated competing interests that require everyone to compromise by gathering at some "rational middle ground." But polling suggests Bush has lost moderates and independents. The only people left who still even listen to him are the ones least likely to buy the pitch.
The conflict defines where we are. We're of two minds, or more. But we'll all be confused in English only.
If You Can't Do Anything Useful Do Something Deeply Symbolic and Pointless
With the war not going that well, and the latest dismal polling, showing that on each and every major issue facing America the public prefers what the Democrats might do to what the Republicans seem to be doing, the Republicans need others issues, so they've dug out the old standby issues - we need two constitutional amendments, one to ban a specific behavior in political protests, burning the flag, and an amendment to clarify what the law means by the word marriage.
But even that didn't go well, as you see here -
It was a bullshit thing, a secret vote in an obscure office, not the regular meeting room. And it was kind of a joke. Feingold just said so. Specter got pissed - courtesy demands that when you do this sort of pandering that will go nowhere at all, the opposition isn't suppose to laugh at you and point it out.
A Senate committee approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage Thursday, after a shouting match that ended when one Democrat strode out and the Republican chairman bid him "good riddance."
"I don't need to be lectured by you. You are no more a protector of the Constitution than am I," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., shouted after Sen. Russ Feingold declared his opposition to the amendment, his affinity for the Constitution and his intention to leave the meeting.
"If you want to leave, good riddance," Specter finished.
"I've enjoyed your lecture, too, Mr. Chairman," replied Feingold, D-Wis., who is considering a run for president in 2008. "See ya."
Amid increasing partisan tension over President Bush's judicial nominees and domestic wiretapping, the panel voted along party lines to send the constitutional amendment - which would prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriages - to the full Senate, where it stands little chance of passing.
Democrats complained that bringing up the amendment is a purely political move designed to appeal to the GOP's conservative base in this year of midterm elections. Under the domed ceiling of the ornate and historic President's Room off the Senate floor, senators voted 10-8 to send the measure forward.
That afternoon, on CNN's Situation Room, Jack Cafferty explains to host Wolf Blitzer the question to which viewers should send email answers (video here) -
Where we are now? Not only is everyone now developing a pretty good bullshit detector, they're laughing at what is clearly nonsense. Times are changing.
Jack Cafferty: Wolf, today's lesson in hypocrisy comes to us courtesy of the Senate Judiciary Committee. They met in a different private room behind closed doors today and approved a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage. at one point the thing got pretty ugly. A shouting match, between the Republican Chairman Senator Arlen Specter and Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, who said he was against the Amendment as well as Specter's decision to hold the vote in a private room out of the public's view.
These guys are shameless. Feingold eventually stormed out telling Specter "I've enjoyed your lecture Mr Chairman. See ya."
Senator Specter in a real show of courage, says that he is "totally opposed to the Amendment", but he voted for it anyway saying that it deserves a debate in the Senate. Majority Leader Bill Frist says the full Senate will now debate a Constitutional Amendment which has absolutely no chance of passing. Frist hopes to have a vote by June 5th.
This is all being done by the Republican majority in an effort to appeal to right-wing nuts in the Republican Party ahead of the upcoming mid-term elections. Ignore all of the pressing issues facing the country, and instead go grovel at the feet of the lunatic fringe. Senator Frist should be very proud of himself. That's leadership. Here's the question: Is now the time for the Senate to consider a constitutional amendment on gay marriage?"
Sorry About That
In these pages, December 11, 2005, in a discussion of extraordinary rendition, where we secretly kidnap selected people and make them disappear without a trace to use some rather harsh methods to get them to talk, this - the long and short of it is we grabbed a German citizen in Macedonia, we imprisoned him and beat him up and all that, held him for five months of that sort of thing, and realized he was a nobody. We decided to release him - what was the point of keeping him? But we told the German government no matter what the guy said, they should keep quiet and not reveal we goofed on this one. We didn't need any legal crap, so they needed to lie and maintain our cover. We don't do such things - no kidnapping, no secret prisons, no harsh treatment. Not us. We asked them to back us on this. Deny everything.
That did work out so well. He sued.
But luckily that didn't work so well for him, as noted here -
That's where we are. Be careful out there.
A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by a German man who said he was illegally detained and tortured in overseas prisons run by the CIA, ruling that a lawsuit would improperly expose state secrets.
Thursday's ruling by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III makes no determination on the validity of the claims by Khaled al-Masri, who said he was kidnapped on New Year's Eve 2003 and detained for nearly five months before finally being dumped on an abandoned road in Albania.
The ruling hands a victory to the Bush administration, which intervened in the civil lawsuit to prevent exposure of its tactics in the war on terrorism.
During his detention, al-Masri said he was beaten and sodomized with a foreign object by his captors. He also alleges that a CIA team forced him to wear a diaper and drugged him before a flight to an Afghan prison and refused to contact German authorities about his arrest.
Ellis said he was satisfied after receiving a secret written briefing from the director of central intelligence that allowing al-Masri's lawsuit to proceed would harm national security.
"In the present circumstances, al-Masri's private interests must give way to the national interest in preserving state secrets," Ellis wrote.
The guy's lawyer says it's absurd to think al-Masri's lawsuit would expose state secrets because many of the details of al-Masri's detention have been made public and confirmed by government sources in newspaper reports - "There isn't really any dispute about what happened."
The judge says "putting aside all the legal issues, if al-Masri's allegations are true or substantially true, then all fair-minded people ... must also agree that al-Masri has suffered injuries as the result of our country's mistake and deserves a remedy." But he says that's not his job. Congress might do something, or the president's executive branch. You want a remedy to an injustice? These days don't go to court. The courts can be neutered.
And that's where we are on that.
There's a whole lot of discussion about the new Al Gore movie, which is this -
It's big. The buzz is growing, as in this from Franklin Foer at the National Review -
From director Davis Guggenheim comes the Sundance Film Festival hit, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, which offers a passionate and inspirational look at one man's fervent crusade to halt global warming's deadly progress in its tracks by exposing the myths and misconceptions that surround it. That man is former Vice President Al Gore, who, in the wake of defeat in the 2000 election, re-set the course of his life to focus on a last-ditch, all-out effort to help save the planet from irrevocable change. In this eye-opening and poignant portrait of Gore and his "traveling global warming show," Gore also proves himself to be one of the most misunderstood characters in modern American public life. Here he is seen as never before in the media - funny, engaging, open and downright on fire about getting the surprisingly stirring truth about what he calls our "planetary emergency" out to ordinary citizens before it's too late.
Can't have that. Check out the new massive ad campaign by the oil companies, through their PR arm, the Competitive Enterprise Institute here - there is no global warming and carbon dioxide is your friend - "We breathe it out, plants breathe it in." Take THAT, Al. Don't pick on our friend.
I found myself walking out in a strange mood. I had just seen a movie featuring a politician ... and there wasn't a trace of snark or cynicism coursing through my body. The film has genuine rhetorical power. It builds an incredibly frightening case without hints of fear-mongering or over-wrought moments. Because Gore is truly self-deprecating, the movie doesn't ever feel like an ego-trip - although it does occasionally look like a giant product placement for Apple. At any rate, I walked out of the movie and decided to sell my car and begin otherwise preparing for our planet's impending doom. I know this praise isn't so unexpected coming from TNR. But I think the movie has the potential to become a seminal political document - a cinematic Silent Spring
Some things never change, but Al's working on it.