Notes on how things seem to me from out here in Hollywood... As seen from Just Above Sunset
Make your own free website on Tripod.com
OF INTEREST
Click here to go there... Click here to go there...

Here you will find a few things you might want to investigate.

Support the Just Above Sunset websites...

Sponsor:

Click here to go there...

ARCHIVE
« May 2006 »
S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31
Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
Contact the Editor

Consider:

"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"







Site Meter
Technorati Profile

Monday, 29 May 2006
Perspective: A Memorial Day Best Forgotten
Topic: In these times...

Perspective: A Memorial Day Best Forgotten

Memorial Day 2006 was Monday, May 29, the official holiday, but all the big events had been the day before - the Indianapolis 500 was won by someone or other by a margin of 0.0068 seconds with a tricky slipstream pass in the last few feet, and the Spaniard in the French car (Alonso driving for Renault) won easily at the Monaco Grand Prix after the German driving the Italian car (Schumacher driving for Ferrari) just couldn't overcome having to start dead last after he cheated in the last qualifying run, stopping after a fine run and blocking his competitors from doing better (one thinks of George Bush playing rugby at Yale). Barry Bonds hit one more homerun, and so that day had finally hit one more than Babe Ruth ever did, but given the steroid business, no one celebrated. There was all sorts of completion to watch on television, even golf and poker, and competition to see live at the baseball parks coast to coast - and for those more active, the family stuff and picnics. Some visited the veterans cemeteries, some homes flew flags, but the holiday Sunday was full of the other stuff. What whatever you call "the other stuff," it wasn't exactly solemn. Much of it was about winning, somehow or other, and crowing about being the best. We are a competitive people.

Monday was different. As usual, the president laid a wreath at the tomb of The Unknown Soldier at Arlington, and said the right words - or words close enough. Honor the dead. They died for our freedom, or, to be stupidly precise, were killed by others for our freedom. They did the right thing, either way. There were words about the current war - the nation can best honor the dead by "defeating the terrorists ... and by laying the foundation for a generation of peace."

It may be becoming clear to many that "defeating the terrorists" is probably not a job best suited to the military, but, rather, something that's best done by a mixture of soft-power and example (be the "fix things" good guys not the avenging, stern, merciless punishers of all that is evil), and the tactics used by law enforcement organizations (which can be pretty sneaky and disruptive), and by messing up the flow of funds to the bad guys using the international financial system to starve them, and so on. But we have the military, our hammer, so all we see is nails everywhere that need to be hammered down. That's what the day was about.

And at the end of the day, Nedra Pickler, the Associated Press's White House reporter, famous for slanting things in the president's favor, has to admit the hammering is not going that well, opening with this - "Just when President Bush was trying to accentuate the positive in Iraq and declare a new beginning in the war on terror, a rash of bad news comes from multiple fronts in the global struggle."

Yep - new details about reports that Marines killed two dozen unarmed Iraqi civilians, including women and children, last November in Haditha. The evidence mounts that it did happen, and now we have two investigations, one of the incident and one of a possible official cover-up, and congress wants their own investigation.

And the same day brought major riots in Kabul, Afghanistan. A convoy of at least three our Humvees drove into the city at high speed (a tactic to prevent attacks on them) and rammed into a rush-hour traffic jam, hitting all sorts of civilian cars. Oops. People died. Angry crowd gathered. Shots were fired. We say we only fired above the crowd, to make them go way. Afghani police did fire on the crowd, and city-wide you had your stone-throwing Afghans shouting "Down with America" and burning cars, and a UN building, and marching on our embassy, the presidential palace and ransacking buildings. The capital was shut down, and Karzai was on television trying to tamp things down. An account here says Kabul's worst riots since the fall of the Taliban. This is our ally - so we have fourteen dead one hundred forty two injured "in an outburst of rage against the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan and at President Hamid Karzai, their ally." Great.

An Army spokesman later said that a large cargo truck in a coalition convoy had suffered a mechanical failure, bad brakes, hitting twelve civilian cars. No one cared much -
Mr Karzai, who postponed a three-day visit to Qatar, is a staunch friend of the West and has in the past been mocked as the "mayor of Kabul" for his tenuous grip on the country outside the capital.

Yesterday's violence exposed how tenuous this authority is even on his own doorstep.

... "Today's demonstration is because Americans killed innocent people," said Gulam Ghaus, a protester in his 20s, as he stood near a burnt-out police post.

"We will not stop until foreigners leave the city. We are looking for foreigners to kill."
This is not going well.

And there was Guantánamo again, as Memorial Day brought this -
About 75 detainees were engaged in a new wave of hunger strikes over Memorial Day weekend at the Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the military announced Monday.

Navy Cmdr. Robert Durand theorized that the al Qaeda and Taliban suspects were staging a "short term, sympathy" protest to gain attention from the outside world in advance of the June 12 resumption of war-crimes trial proceedings there.

"The hunger strike technique is consistent with al Qaeda practice," said Durand.

He added that the protest "reflects detainee attempts to elicit media attention to bring international pressure on the United States to release them back to the battlefield."

... New York attorney Joshua Colangelo-Bryan said defense lawyers would only be able to learn who were the hunger strikers by meeting their clients at Guantanamo.

"Considering that many detainees gave up their hunger strikes earlier this year only because of abusive forced feeding techniques rather than through volitional choice, it's not surprising that a new, large-scale hunger strike has begun," said Colangelo-Bryan, who represents some Bahraini captives, including one who has repeatedly attempted suicide.

"After all, engaging in a hunger strike is one of the few means of protest available to detainees."

... Monday's announcement was extraordinary, issued early on a federal holiday. Guantanamo commanders have been more frank in recent weeks about disclosing detention challenges at the remote base, where no detainee has yet died in U.S. custody; the admiral in charge answered a question in detail recently about plans in the event a detainee does die.
Okay, is it a PR stunt, or could they be a tad upset about perpetual imprisonment without charges? Either way, it messed up the president's holiday, unless he's laughing his ass off, hoping someone does die.

But then the Independent (UK) notes a British legal rights group has just figured out that sixty of those we are holding at Guantánamo seem to be children, or were. That's here -
They include at least 10 detainees still held at the US base in Cuba who were 14 or 15 when they were seized - including child soldiers who were held in solitary confinement, repeatedly interrogated and allegedly tortured.

The disclosures threaten to plunge the Bush administration into a fresh row with Britain, its closest ally in the war on terror, only days after the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, repeated his demands for the closure of the detention facility. It was, he said, a "symbol of injustice."
Well, it's been four years, and they're adults now. And no one can prove anyone was tortured. And Lord Goldsmith is not Tony Blair. Tony says it's just fine, or will. And the Brits don't matter. They're not a world power, and haven't been for much more than a hundred years. Lord Goldsmith can rant. Blair will continue to sniff George Bush's jockstrap in ecstasy.

Still it's not a nice item to report on Memorial Day. Too many folks spent the day with their own kids. And too, only ten of these "detainees" have been charged anything at all, and these trials, the first held since WWII, are set to begin within a month or two, unless the Supreme Court rules in June that Bush overstepped his authority by ordering war-crimes trials for the Guantánamo crowd. A mess.

Meanwhile, as AP's Nedra Pickler puts it - "Add the trouble to the continuing daily violence in Iraq - at least 40 were killed in a series of bombings Monday, including two from a CBS News crew - and Bush could be in danger of losing even more support for his mission."

Maybe so, and "some in the White House have been arguing that he needs to do more to push back." Sure, say we're winning, really, and we really do have a plan, to win. Rinse. Repeat. You used to get a quick bump in the polls, so why not try again?

Somehow that may not work. People want specifics.

And this is pretty specific -
Two CBS News crew members and an American soldier were killed Monday during a wave of car bombings and shootings in Iraq that also killed at least three dozen other people. Network correspondent Kimberly Dozier was seriously wounded and underwent emergency surgery.

... At least eight bombings rocked the capital in the worst wave of violence in days. A car bomb exploded as a U.S. convoy patrolled in central Baghdad, killing veteran CBS cameraman Paul Douglas, 48; soundman James Brolan, 42; and an American soldier, U.S. officials said.

Dozier, a 39-year-old American, was in critical condition at a U.S. military hospital in Baghdad and underwent two surgeries for injuries from the bombing, said Kelli Edwards, a CBS News spokeswoman. By early Tuesday, doctors had removed shrapnel from Dozier's head but said she had more serious injuries to her lower body, CBS News reported on its Web site.

Dozier's relatives were planning to head to Germany, a man who answered the phone at her mother's home in Maryland said Monday night. The Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in southern Germany is the U.S. military's largest overseas hospital.

The CBS crew was on patrol with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, when the bomb exploded. The U.S. military said an Iraqi interpreter also was killed and six American soldiers were injured.
That's pretty specific.

So is this -
At least 37 other people were killed nationwide, most of them in Baghdad.

The attacks began just after dawn, with one roadside bomb killing 10 people and injuring another 12 who worked for an Iranian organization opposed to the Tehran regime, police said.

That bombing targeted a public bus near Khalis, 50 miles north of Baghdad in Diyala province, an area notorious for such attacks, provincial police said.

All the dead were workers at the Ashraf base of the Mujahedeen Khalq, or MEK. The group, made up of Iranian dissidents living in Iraq, said the dead were Iraqi workers heading to their camp.

A car bomb parked near Baghdad's main Sunni Abu Hanifa mosque killed at least nine Iraqi civilians and wounded 25, said Saif al-Janabi, director of Noaman hospital. It exploded at noon in north Baghdad's Azamiyah neighborhood and disintegrated the vehicle.

Rescue crews and Iraqi army soldiers helped carry stretchers toward waiting ambulances, AP Television News footage showed.

A bomb planted in a parked minivan killed at least seven people and wounded at least 20 at the entrance to an open-air market selling secondhand clothes in the northern Baghdad suburb of Kazimiyah.

Another parked car bomb exploded near Ibn al-Haitham college in Azamiyah, also in northern Baghdad, killing two civilians and wounding at least five - including four Iraqi soldiers, police Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi said.

In other attacks, a roadside bomb killed two police officers and wounded three others in Baghdad's Karradah district, while one man was killed and six were wounded when a bomb hidden in a minivan exploded.

A mortar shell exploded at a Shiite mosque in southern Baghdad's Zafraniyah district. Shiite militiamen sealed off the area and prevented police from approaching, said police Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi.

Also, gunmen in separate incidents killed two police officers in western Baghdad; two police officers, identified as former Baathists, in Amarah, 180 miles southeast of Baghdad; and police Brig. Gen. Sadiq Jaafar Salih, director of the national ID card office in Diyala, authorities said.
Sure, say we're winning, really, and we really do have a plan, to win. Rinse. Repeat. You used to get a quick bump in the polls, so why not try again? The same day the new Iraqi parliament was still working on the appointment of someone, anyone, for defense and interior ministers - so they can stand up and we can stand down. That's not going well.

And that business last November in Haditha just keeps bubbling along in the background -

Here - "Military officials are close to bringing grave charges, including murder, against U.S. Marines in the deaths of two-dozen Iraqi civilians in November. Congress needs to pursue indications the military tried to cover up the apparently wrongful killings."

Here - "As military officials investigate the Haditha killings in Iraq, one of the Marines involved has spoken out about what he saw last year. Only hours after Iraqi civilians were killed, a second team of Marines was sent in to take the victims' bodies to a local morgue. Lance Corp. Ryan Briones was among the Marines sent in to recover the bodies, and he told the Los Angeles Times he is still haunted by what he saw, including a young girl who was shot in the head. '[The victims] ranged from little babies to adult males and females,' Briones told the newspaper. 'I can still smell the blood.'"

Here - "One of America's highest-ranking officers yesterday promised to "get to the bottom" of what is rapidly unfolding as one of the biggest scandals to hit the country's armed forces since the invasion of Iraq in 2003."

Here - "No good can come of speculation surrounding a Nov. 19 incident in Haditha, Iraq, in which 24 Iraqi civilians, including women and children, were killed in the aftermath of a roadside bomb attack, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today."

Here - The killing of Iraqi civilians by US Marines has done more damage to America's aims in Iraq than the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, a Democratic congressman and vocal war critic said on Sunday. Rep John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a decorated retired Marine, told ABC News there was "no question" that the US military tried to cover up the killing of as many as two dozen Iraqi civilians last year in the town of Haditha. 'I will not excuse murder,' Murtha said. 'And this is what happened. There's no question in my mind about it.'"

This needs to be settled.

Or it doesn't, as Reuters reports here -
Word that U.S. Marines may have killed two dozen Iraqi civilians in "cold-blooded" revenge after an insurgent attack has shocked Americans but many Iraqis shrug it off as an every day fact of life under occupation.

... As U.S. commentators talk of "Iraq's My Lai" and wonder if Haditha could have a similar effect as the 1968 massacre in Vietnam on public attitudes to the military and the war, few Iraqi leaders have mentioned the incident in a town 220 km (140 miles) northwest of Baghdad where Sunni rebels were very active.

... In Baghdad's bustling Karrada commercial district, Mohammed Jawdaat, 47, offered a typical view at his store, where business selling firefighting gear is booming amid the chaos of Baghdad: "It really doesn't surprise me," he said.

Like many in the city, he can recount an incident in which he says he saw U.S. forces open fire on civilians: "Six months ago a car pulled out of a street towards an American convoy and a soldier just opened fire," Jawdaat said.

"The driver was shot in the head and the person behind was killed too. They were innocents. There were no warning shots and the Americans didn't even stop. The police took the wounded."
And that's what they expect of us. We are not the "fix things" good guys, nor even the avenging, stern, merciless punishers of all that is evil. We are seen as a simple elemental danger, and like lightning from the sky that an stick you dead, what are you going to do?

And all that made for a strange Memorial Day.

__

Other thoughts?

There's this -
There is no "War on Terror."

There is, however, a "war" on the U. S. Constitution.

After September 11, 2001, we've learned that we can take a punch and move on. We've faced far worse threats to our national survival in our history - the Civil War, the War of 1812, World War II to name a few - but we never abandoned our Constitution. Until now.

Terror is an emotion. Emotions are part of human nature and cannot be eradicated. A "War on Terror" is therefore a war on humanity. The Bush administration has exploited the fear and shock of a nation in the wake of a surprising and dramatic act of violence to whip national fear and paranoia into a constant boil. Why?

The evidence suggests the whole point has been to seize power and steal money. We are witnessing a creeping coup in the United States, the overthrow of the idea, promulgated by our founders and by writers like Tom Paine, that the "Law is King"

... Today is Memorial Day. Today we remember countless patriots who died and fought for those freedoms our president tells us we must abandon... in the name of "freedom."

If there were really a "War on Terror," an emotion, Wes Craven would be hiring a lawyer: he scares people. The "War on Terror" is a sham. You know what changed after September 11th? We, the people of the United States, forgot how strong we are. We gave in to fear, when the only thing we should have feared was fear itself. Osama bin Laden wants you to be afraid. So does George Bush.

I know I'm not alone when I say, I'm an American and I'm not afraid. I know I'm going to die. I accept that I'm going to die, no problem. What I do not accept and will not accept is the notion that I must live as a slave to fear for the purposes of craven, cowardly men who, in their time, pissed the bed rather than fight an actual war, later to become powerful and use that power to line their pockets with my tax dollars. Give me liberty or give me death. Take your "terror" and shove it.

We went after the criminals who attacked us when we invaded Afghanistan, then quickly abandoned any pretense of being concerned with actual terrorists by fighting a ginned-up war of aggression against a tin-pot dictator for whom our chickenshit president and his buddies have always had a hard-on. If the U. S. were serious about thwarting terrorism or about minimizing our exposure to acts of violence designed to make us afraid, we would have rigorous port security and massive international goodwill and cooperation in the lawful identification of anarchic, violent networks. But we don't have that. We have our sons and daughters fighting to maintain bases in the sand near oil fields, sacrificing their lives, bodies and minds for a pack of lies.

Ann Coulter and other right wing totalitarian cheerleaders like to talk about traitors to America. George Bush and the Republicans have betrayed America, the actual laws of America and the very idea of America. On Memorial Day, as we remember our sons and daughters who have sacrificed their lives in the blistering sands of Iraq, it does their memory due honor to point this out. Noble men and women fallen, their blood cries out for lawful justice.

In each of our minds lies the beginning of our return to freedom, so please, say it after me: "There is no 'War on Terror.'"

It's high time for America and Americans to remember our strength. We need not be afraid. When we surrender to fear, we lose our country, we lose our faith in each other, we lose our future and we lose our freedom. The best way to honor the sacrifices of our nation's men and women killed in battle is to embrace, once again, that precious liberty.

It's time to be America again.
Over the top?

Try the mild-mannered Bob Herbert at the New York Times with this (very expensive subscription required) -
The point of Memorial Day is to honor the service and the sacrifice of those who have given their lives in the nation's wars. But I suggest that we take a little time today to consider the living.

Look around and ask yourself if you believe that stability or democracy in Iraq - or whatever goal you choose to assert as the reason for this war - is worth the life of your son or your daughter, or your husband or your wife, or the co-worker who rides to the office with you in the morning, or your friendly neighbor next door.

Before you gather up the hot dogs and head out to the barbecue this afternoon, look in a mirror and ask yourself honestly if Iraq is something you would be willing to die for.

There is no shortage of weaselly politicians and misguided commentators ready to tell us that we can't leave Iraq - we just can't. Chaos will ensue. Maybe even a civil war. But what they really mean is that we can't leave as long as the war can continue to be fought by other people's children, and as long as we can continue to put this George W. Bush-inspired madness on a credit card.

Start sending the children of the well-to-do to Baghdad, and start raising taxes to pay off the many hundreds of billions that the war is costing, and watch how quickly this tragic fiasco is brought to an end.

At an embarrassing press conference last week, President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain looked for all the world like a couple of hapless schoolboys who, while playing with fire, had set off a conflagration that is still raging out of control. Their recklessness has so far cost the lives of nearly 2,500 Americans and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis, many of them children.

Among the regrets voiced by the president at the press conference was his absurd challenge to the insurgents in 2003 to "bring 'em on." But Mr. Bush gave no hint as to when the madness might end.

How many more healthy young people will we shovel into the fires of Iraq before finally deciding it's time to stop? How many dead are enough?
And this -
Even those who share Bush's post 9/11 vision are puzzled by the bloody muddle of it that's been made. In the London Spectator of May 20 (online for subscribers only, alas), Philip Bobbitt, the author of The Shield of Achilles, articulated his exasperation at how the war on terror has been mangled.

"What [the Bush] administration has done - and I support the war in Iraq - what they have done is heartbreaking, because they have steadily removed the greatest source of their power, which was the rule of the law. You may think of Abu Ghraib as a battle, and we lost. Guantanamo is a battle that we have lost. It will cost us lives, it will cost us political influence, and above all it may cost us our strategic objectives. Not simply by ignoring it, but having a studied contempt for the law, and not just international law, and which needs desperately to be reformed, but for even our domestic laws. The administration has kicked away what should have been its strongest prop. It baffles me. And it angers me."
It seems a lot of folks were angry on Memorial Day.

Posted by Alan at 21:54 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 29 May 2006 22:12 PDT home

Sunday, 28 May 2006
Hot of the Virtual Press
Topic: Announcements

Hot of the Virtual Press

Just Above Sunset, the weekly magazine-format site that is parent to this daily web log, begins its fourth year with a new issue, now online. This is Volume 4, Number 22 for the week of May 28, 2006. Click here to go there...The rather tacky Volume 1, Number 1, was posted on May 26, 2003, and the contents, such as they are, can be accessed by drilling down through the archives options. Since then the site has evolved, becoming a current events "week in review" - and also a photographic record of life here in Southern California, and too, almost every week, a place to find a photo essay from Paris (the London and Tel Aviv items have been irregular at best).

As for this week's issue, this was the week that was? A hidden key player at the White House behind all the power moves, and he hates wimps? And then, you thought as a voter and citizen you had some say in things? What were you thinking? And for those into political theory, if there are such people, there's a long item on what might really be going on with the executive staging raids on the legislative and all that. The big news? The Enron convictions, or maybe it's that the president finally admits one or two mistakes, or something, but he might have been kidding. And all this silliness about "connecting dots" is thrashed out - you have to attend to the right dots. And, for a change of pace, there's some political photography.

To balance the political, four Hollywood items - the classic theaters on the boulevard (where Richard Nixon meets Dumbo, oddly enough), and Kermit the Frog at Charlie Chaplin's place (really), and really specific architecture, and a tribute to Miles Davis on his birthday with a visit to his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Additionally there are the usual Los Angeles views, two very strange businesses out here, an anti-Ferrari study, and this week's botanicals, extra-fancy this week.

Our friend from Texas brings us more of the weird of course, and the quotes this week will get you thinking in new ways about the whole Memorial Day thing,

Direct links to specific pages -

Extended Observations on Current Events ______________________

Key Players: Who's Your Daddy?
Participatory Democracy: Start With a False Premise
Wonk Stuff: Authority as an End in Itself Regardless of Outcome
Big News, Small News
Connecting Dots: The Whole Idea is to See the Pattern
Visual Commentary

Hollywood Matters ______________________

Classic Hollywood
Fame: Kermit the Frog at Charlie Chaplin's Place
Places: Hollywood Lived Here, Hollywood Worked Here
A Birthday: An Odd Hollywood Star

Southern California Photography ______________________

Oddities: Things That Aren't What They Seem, or Are
Grit: Not a Ferrari
Botanicals: Starburst Patterns

The Weird: WEIRD, BIZARRE and UNUSUAL
Quotes for the week of May 14, 2006 - America, Memorial Day

Posted by Alan at 16:47 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
home

Saturday, 27 May 2006
Connecting Dots: The Whole Idea is to See the Pattern
Topic: Couldn't be so...

Connecting Dots: The Whole Idea is to See the Pattern

Sometimes in trying to get some perspective on events it helps to just build an array, or in the simple-minded metaphor used so often since the first days of all the questions after the two towers at the World Trade Center fell and that 757 slammed into the Pentagon, it helps to "connect the dots." Yes, dots. The FBI had its files on the bad guys, the CIA had its information, the president had his daily briefing document at the right time, "Osama bin Laden Plans to Attack the United States," and the "airplane attack" idea had been floating around for years. No one connected the dots, and the National Security Advisor at the time, Condoleezza Rice, famously testified to congress that "no one imagined" that terrorists would use airplanes as weapons, even though it was on record that various intelligence organizations of the government had, and put it on paper. Obviously dots can be tricky.

So things had to change. What to do? A commission suggested reorganizing things to create a dot-connecting organizational structure, and along with a new Department of Homeland Security, which the administration initially strongly opposed, we got a new office - we got a National Security Director, a position layered above all the intelligence gathering agencies in all the various parts of the government. What the CIA found out, or the NSA, or the FBI, or the State Department services, or the Pentagon (eighty percent of all funds for gathering intelligence goes to them) would go to the Director, the Lord of the Dots. The job went to John Negroponte, once our ambassador to Honduras and perhaps involved in supporting the secret death squads down that way when we seem to have funded the murder of certain left-leaning folks and some nuns here and priests there, our ambassador to the United Nations at the time most nations thought our preemptive war with Iraq was a rather dumb idea, and our first ambassador to the new Iraq, back in the days when we said the new Iraq had sovereignty even if they didn't have any sort of government. Is Negroponte the right man to be the top dot-connecter? Who knows? That's his job now. He's got his new man at the CIA, Michael Hayden, the man who ran the secret NSA program to scan all the phone records of all Americans without any warrants or any oversight, and the temp, Porter Goss is gone, having done his job of purging the CIA of those who were disloyal to the White House with all their pesky reports of facts that didn't support the policy agenda down on Pennsylvania Avenue. Negroponte also seems to get along fine with the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. The FBI is getting in line. Condoleezza Rice is now at State, and not like her predecessor Colin Powell at all - she's removing or marginalizing anyone there who reports the wrong things up the chain.

Of course all this consolidation and obligatory policy discipline seems to indicate not so much an effort to "connect the dots" in a startling, new and effective way. It's more an effort to limit the number of dots you have to consider. Some dots you just don't want to see. And if something happens with one of the ignored dots - say someone sneaks a dirty bomb into Houston in a freight container and the city is rendered radioactive for a few decades - well, you can say it's not your fault - the agency in question failed and didn't tell you about that particular dot, or the Department of Homeland Security messed up, or something. Cool. You're covered.

So we have new national ability, a professional connect-the-dots-we-choose-to-acknowledge organization overseeing all. We all feel safer.

But anyone can connect dots. You don't have to be a professional.

Of course non-professional dot-connecters, the amateurs, are usually called tin-foil hat conspiracy theorists and considered quite deluded. They're just mad, and angry too. Such things are to be expected when you're not actually paid to look at dots in a mildly paranoid way and report on the connections and show the pattern that emerges. Who would do such things for free? Crackpots.

And high on the crackpot list of alarming connections is what seems like evidence of a slow-motion coup as the executive branch, and the focused and angry simple-minded president in particular, work on rendering his office all-powerful and making the constitution as we have known it for the last two-hundred nineteen years just an historical curiosity. The crackpot theorists toss around terms like "dictator" and "king" and "fascist" and all the rest. That's not terribly useful. In fact, it's counterproductive. Americans don't like those terms. That's not us. That's not how anyone, even the angry, dry-drunk, born-again, idea-hating, detail-scorning man now in the Oval Office, would operate. We're a nation of laws and all that - and he's our public servant reporting to us, not some tin-pot third-world tyrant drunk on his own power from a Woody Allen movie. This is not Bananas (the movie, that is). The crackpot theorists are bananas, of course.

But drop the name-calling. You can add a label later, if you'd like. Some find that necessary, of course, but it doesn't matter much. Just look at the pattern. Connect the dots. Then, if it makes you happy, call it what you will.

The diplomatic "term of art" here will be a slow-motion coup, but that's just a marker. The supporters of the president would call it "doing what's necessary in a time of national danger unlike anything we've ever faced before" - what must be done due to the unprecedented crisis we now face. This is not the Soviets with thousands of missiles aimed at us and tens of thousands of nuclear warheads this is a few thousand guys who blow up trains and have flow airlines into large buildings. The neoconservatives, political theorists and attorneys in the executive branch would argue it's something else entirely - the White House just correcting a long-standing misunderstanding about the constitution, as it clearly says in Article II that the president need not obey laws that he finds limit him in implementing whatever he decides must be done, and that the congress that passes laws about what can be done and how, and the courts that rule on such laws, are somewhere between totally irrelevant and, being nice about it, merely advisory.

Much has been said of the record-setting seven hundred fifty presidential signing statements and all the rest, and these pages this week are full of discussion of this "radical redistribution of power within Washington." Something is up. The week gave us the executive branch purposely intimating congress with criminal threats for the first time in our history - the FBI raiding the offices of a congressman and the Justice Department announcing the opening of a probe into who said what to the press about the NSA warrantless spying on citizens and other matters that somehow made it into the news - our secret chain of prisons in the former Soviet prisons in eastern Europe, how we kidnap some people off the street and make them disappear forever (extraordinary rendition), and so on. Like torturing prisoners, all this may have been illegal and immoral and generally crappy - but it was secret, after all. Congress is on notice. Get with the program. Know your place.

At the end of the week there were just a few more dots. The usual Friday afternoon dump of what you really don't want in the news cycle, what you hold until the reporters and commentators have gone off for the long weekend in this case, gave us this -
The Bush administration asked federal judges in New York and Michigan to dismiss a pair of lawsuits filed over the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program, saying litigation would jeopardize state secrets.

In legal papers filed late Friday, Justice Department lawyers said it would be impossible to defend the legality of the spying program without disclosing classified information that could be of value to suspected terrorists.

National Intelligence Director John Negroponte invoked the state secrets privilege on behalf of the administration, writing that disclosure of such information would cause "exceptionally grave damage" to national security.

The administration laid out some of its supporting arguments in classified memoranda that were filed under seal.
Oh. That sort of fits with previous dots.

Dot: As mentioned previously, the Justice Department is charged with investigating the NSA "domestic eavesdropping program." The National Security Agency, with, it seems, the approval of the Attorney General, decides not to grant the Justice Department investigators security clearances. The Justice Department investigators cannot be trusted with the classified data. The investigation is cancelled. The news item is here.

Dot: As mentioned previously, the Federal Communications Commission, the FCC, refuses to investigate whether the phone companies illegally turned over data to the NSA. We should know, but they just can't see that they have the authority to ask to see classified data The news item is here.

Dot: Little noticed, but by our high-powered Wall Street attorney friend, the president grants John Negroponte the authority to waive the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) accounting and reporting rules for any company involved in any of this, so they can hide whatever they wish on their financial statements - and this completely eliminates any possible "follow the money" trail for any investigators. The news item is here.

The late Friday item and the three dots. Call it what you will.

Want another dot? See the first amendment attorney, Glenn Greenwald, on Saturday, May 27, here -
The United States Congress openly debated yesterday whether the federal government should begin imprisoning journalists who publish stories containing information which the Bush administration wants to conceal. At a House Intelligence Committee hearing, several Republicans expressly urged that our country start throwing reporters in jail:

The criticism focused on articles in The New York Times concerning a National Security Agency surveillance program and, to a lesser extent, on disclosures in The Washington Post about secret C.I.A. prisons overseas.

Some Republicans on the committee advocated the criminal prosecution of The Times. Their comments partly echoed and partly amplified recent statements by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales that the Justice Department had the authority to prosecute reporters for publishing classified information...

"I believe the attorney general and the president should use all of the power of existing law to bring criminal charges," said Representative Rick Renzi, Republican of Arizona
.
He notes that some members of the committee pointed out that this is not a country which imprisons journalists for stories which they publish about controversial government actions, and our congresswoman from out here Jane Harman, said "If anyone here wants to imprison journalists, I invite them to spend some time in China, Cuba or North Korea and see whether they feel safer." Harman had said in Febraury that the jouralists should be jailed. She calmed down. She changed her mind.

Greenwald reviews all the argument, each way. It's depressing.

His conclusion? That's easy -
As one can say for so many core American political principles, the U.S. Government under forty-two different Presidents has thrived and defended the nation for two hundred twenty years without the need to imprison journalists for the stories they publish, but the Bush administration is the first to claim that it has to dismantle these liberties because it is too weak - and America is too weak - to maintain national security unless we radically change the kind of country we are.

... That's how this group of Bush followers thinks America is supposed to work. If you are a U.S. citizen, the President can unilaterally order you abducted and imprisoned; does not have to charge you with any crime; can block you from speaking with anyone, including a lawyer; can keep you incarcerated indefinitely (meaning forever); and can deny you the right to any judicial review of your imprisonment or any mechanism for challenging the accuracy of the accusations. And oh - while it would be nice if we could preserve all of that abstract lawyer nonsense about the right to a jury trial and all that, we're really scared that Al Qaeda is going to kill us, so we can't.

... What do you do with people who never learned that American citizens can't be imprisoned by executive decree and without a trial, or that American journalists aren't imprisoned for stories they write about the Government's conduct? People like this plainly do not embrace, or comprehend, even the most basic principles of what America is.
What do you do? Don't know. Connect the dots. See the slow-motion coup. Note it. Publish it. The people will decide.

Posted by Alan at 15:46 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 27 May 2006 16:14 PDT home

Friday, 26 May 2006
Visual Commentary
Topic: In these times...

Visual Commentary

No detailed commentary today. It was a day for driving around Los Angeles and taking photographs for this weekend's Just Above Sunset, the magazine-format parent site to this daily web log. And it was Miles Davis' eightieth birthday, so at Just Above Sunset Photography there's this, some words on his life and his music, and a photo of his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and two shots of what's right there with the star. It seemed like the right thing to do on his birthday.

But then, while driving around, you snap something that's just political commentary in and of itself. Below? In Marina del Rey, the underclass illustrated at the yard where they sell and service extraordinarily expensive yachts. It's so California, the rich above, and the Hispanic workers below, having lunch. All as it should be, or something.

In Marina del Rey, in Los Angeles, the underclass illustrated at the yard where they sell and service extraordinarily expensive yachts.



And it's Memorial Day weekend. It used to be Decoration Day, a day to commemorate the men and women who died in military service for this country. It began as a holiday to honor Union soldiers who died during the Civil War, but after the First World War it was expanded to include anyone who died in any war or military action. The Veterans Memorial Park in Westwood, just west of UCLA, is crowded now. Below you see just a fraction of the grounds Friday morning. The photo is from nine in the morning. Deep marine layer with ground fog. The holiday begins.

Can we return to peaceful times, the good old days when we weren't at war? No. We always were at war somewhere or other. The pauses were anomalies, and they were brief. The contention that peace is that natural state of man is simply false. It's the exception. The evidence, all of history, proves it. Below is just some visual evidence.

But to be clear, this is not to say it is Americans, unfortunately, that can be best be defined by war - that's what we Americans do. Every nation is the same, every people. We're not exceptional, nor exceptionally bellicose. Man can be defined as the species that wars. It's what we do. You can glorify it. You can be sad. It hardly matters. Every nation and every people make war to define who they are, and who they are not. It gives us meaning. What else does?

Veterans Memorial Park in Westwood, California, just west of UCLA



A final shot, tourists on Hollywood Boulevard as Memorial Day weekend begins. Flashy patriotism meets tacky commerce. America.

Tourists on Hollywood Boulevard as Memorial Day weekend begins...

Posted by Alan at 19:56 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 26 May 2006 19:59 PDT home

Thursday, 25 May 2006
Big News, Small News
Topic: Couldn't be so...

Big News, Small News

Thursday, May 25, 2006, 7:30 in the evening in Washington, and half past midnight in London, the President Bush and Prime Minister Blair hold a joint press conference at the White House, the Prime Minster on his way back to Downing Street after a visit to Iraq. (If you fly west it's sort of on the way home.) Blair had been visiting with the new government there, almost complete but for someone to head two key ministries, one Interior, in charge of whatever sort of police force can be cobbled together to replace the religious and tribal militias all in black driving the streets and doing those revenge killings with the twenty or more bodies showing up each day here and there. It a bit of a problem. But the claim is there's now a working government there, elected by the people, and it has organized itself, or close enough. It's a turning point, just like killing Saddam Hussein's sons and displaying their bodies, Mussolini style, just like capturing their father, just like the trial of the father, just like the three previous elections. But this one is a real turning point, the others being false alarms or something. That's a hard sell. It's not exactly a "the boy who cried wolf" thing, but something like it. Cynics wait for the next real turning point, or the one after. Collect the series.

This press conference was supposed to be the big news event of the day, even though all the speculation that there would be some sort of announcement of troop reductions had, earlier in the day, been blown away. The press secretary, Tony Snow late of Fox News, had said no way - that wouldn't be the big news. But what would? He has a cool grin.

The problem was that there was competition for the big news of the day, things not on the schedule and hard to top.

The Enron trial ended unexpectedly with former CEO Ken Lay and his business buddy Jeff Skilling being convicted on almost all counts and facing at a minimum twenty years in jail each, with more likely longer sentences. Lay, formerly a key Bush supporter and the one who gave the most money to the man over all the long years, is going to jail. Out here in California we think of Enron for the year of the massive power shortages when they manipulated the energy market for fun and profit and our electric bills more than tripled. Others remember being told to hold on to their Enron stock by the folks who ran the company while those guys were dumping everything - and many Enron people lost all their assets and pretty much a lifetime of savings, as did investors who relied on analysts who had been basing their projection on cooked books. So this, the bad guys going to jail, was big news for lots of people. You might have caught Bill O'Reilly on Fox News arguing with the Fox business editor, that Cavuto fellow, that these guys didn't deserve jail time, asking Cavuto, over and over, what did they do to you after all? Bill was outraged. Cavuto looked depressed. He didn't want to fight, not with O'Reilly. Who does? O'Reilly was being the contrarian again, of course. It's a ratings thing. Or he's out of touch. Or he's mad.

Then too Senate finally passed an immigration bill, with a guest worker provision and offering some illegal immigrants a way to become citizens, setting up the mother of all conference committee fights as the House bill explicitly has none of that and calls for building a giant wall along the whole border with Mexico with armed guards and all that, for making anyone here without proper papers guilty of an aggravated felony, and all the rest. This won't be pretty - angry Republicans calling each other names and being outraged, while the Democrats run errands and catch up on the sports pages. The public? They must realize this means no legislation will go to the president for his signature and they're be no new law, and as much as Lou Dobbs on CNN and all the rest have whipped everyone into a frenzy that this is an immediate and dire problem that had to be solved now, it won't be, and life will go on, and tables will be bussed and lettuce won't cost three hundred dollars a head and the world won't end. Next year will be fine, or the year after. But the news was the Senate had just set up a big Republican showdown and there'd be a whole lot of screaming and posturing to come.

Then too, just before the George and Tony Show, there were new developments in the CIA leak case. The vice president could be called as a witness, as the prosecutor, Fitzgerald, wants to ask him, under oath this time, if what the defendant, his former chief of staff, said is true. Did he tell Scooter Libby that the pesky Wilson's wife was an undercover CIA agent who worked on uncovering secret nuclear proliferation deals and he should look into whether she set up the trip and then he should talk to the press? That seems to be what Libby testified to. Fitzgerald wants to know if this motivated Libby to lie to the grand jury, saying he didn't leak to anyone and he didn't know when or where he heard about the woman. The sly thing is that this is not about Cheney at all, just about the other guy's motivation. But then, if and when Cheney testifies, the whole effort to find out who illegally exposed a CIA agent and ruined her operations and thus damaged the nation would seem to point to one man. That man is not the defendant. But that's not Fitzgerald's aim, of course. This is just part of his case against Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice, just investigating the underlying motivation of the man charged. But it's hot. The story started here and was the buzz all over, all day. Fitzgerald is purposely not connecting the dots here. That's not what he's working on - he's methodical and focused on the one case. Everyone else is connecting the dots, of course. And just for the fun of it, the same day there was this - Fitzgerald wanting to understand a phone call from the reporter who wrote the column telling the world the woman was a CIA agent, Robert Novak, to the president's key advisor, Karl Rove, as the investigation started. It sure looks like Novak and Rove got together and tried to coordinate their stories to keep each other out of hot water, making sure no one would know anything. Just something to look into. The George and Tony Show - Iraq is a wonderful success story, we were right, but we're staying there and can't say when anyone gets to come home - seemed minor stuff, small beer as it were.

And congress was still ticked about the FBI's search of William Jefferson's office (the executive branch trying to intimidate and thus neuter the legislative branch and all that), and ABC reports they're after House Speaker Hastert on another matter, and the FBI says they're not, and Hastert wants to sue ABC for defamation or whatever, and ABC stands by their story, and Hastert suggests maybe someone at the FBI is planting stories about him because he complained about the Jefferson thing. It's all here, in all its silly detail. But there's the obvious bigger issue. Is the executive branch, for the first time in our history, trying to intimidate and thus neuter the legislative branch, essentially changing the way our government has worked for the last two hundred nineteen years. Many say yes, and this is big news, a fundamental change, a strategic move toward a unity executive government where the legislature and courts are somewhere between subordinate and irrelevant. Others say no, it's just a criminal matter or two handled in a new and exciting and much more effective way than the stuffy "separation of powers" traditions. Maybe so. But there is this - the FBI now wants to interview members of the House and Senate to determine whether they were responsible for leaking information about the Bush administration's warrantless spying program to the New York Times. What next? The IRS goes after tax records? So senators and congressmen (and congresswomen) are learning just who's the boss, and that what they and everyone else thought about the constitution was, apparently, quite wrong. The George and Tony Show - Iraq is a wonderful success story, we were right, but we're staying there and can't say when anyone gets to come home - seemed minor stuff, small beer as it were, compare to this, a kind of a slow motion coup if you think about it. Or maybe it's nothing. After all, there was this - the president ordered all the documents the FBI seized from congressman Jefferson's office sealed for forty-five days - so people could calm down. If it really is a slow motion coup, then going slow is important. People might forget the issue by July. Other things will come up. Have to be careful. Very clever.

As for the George and Tony Show, Tim Grieve offers a pleasant summary here -
Bush and Blair both described the formation of a government in Iraq as a chance for a fresh start for Iraq and what's left of the coalition that invaded it, but they had little fresh to say about their own plans. The first question out of the box: Does the formation of a government put the U.S. on a "sound footing" to bring its troops home? Bush seemed to be caught flat-footed, as if he didn't know that the question would be coming. He didn't have much of an answer.

The president was ready, however, when he was asked a variation of a question he's failed to answer before: What mistakes do you most regret about Iraq? "Saying, 'Bring it on,'" Bush said. "Kind of tough talk, sent the wrong signal to people. I learned some lessons about expressing myself in a more sophisticated manner. 'Wanted dead or alive,' that kind of talk. I think in certain parts of the world, it was misinterpreted. So I learned from that." Continuing, Bush said the "biggest mistake" from "our country's involvement in Iraq" was Abu Ghraib. "We've been paying for that for a long time," Bush said.

So far as we could tell, that was the extent of the news here.

For much of the press conference - really, right up until Bush abruptly cut it short by asking Blair if he could buy him dinner - the president seemed tired and a little listless. The reporters just seemed bored. There were other, more important stories they could be covering... But the reporters were stuck with the Blair-Bush Project, where they seemed to feel constrained to ask mostly about Iraq. There were no questions about immigration, nothing about upcoming midterm elections, nothing about Plamegate, not a word about the showdown between members of Congress and the Bush administration over the search of William Jefferson's office. The members of the White House press corps were right there in the room with two of the most powerful men in the world, but they were as far from the news of the day as they were the other day on Air Force One, where they were strapped in their seats watching "King Kong" during Michael Hayden's CIA confirmation hearings.

At one point in the sleepy proceedings tonight, Bush reminded a reporter that he'll be the commander in chief for another two-and-a-half years. A few minutes later, a British reporter asked Blair and Bush what they'll miss about one another once they're out of office. Bush said he'd miss Blair's red ties, and then he talked briefly about the prime minister's vision and resolve. Blair laughed, said he should leave it at that, then gently chided his countrymen for not asking more serious questions. If there's something he'll miss about Bush, he didn't bother to say what it is.
That was cold, but overall it was dull. The talking heads on television, doing the "instant analysis" were all over the only news - two years ago the president was embarrassed to admit he could not think of one mistake he made in office, and on Thursday, May 25, 2006, he admits three - he didn't realize that "Bring it on!" and "Wanted Dead or Alive" could be misinterpreted, and what happened at Abu Ghraib made us look bad. Of course you had to see it (video here) - he looked sad and thoughtful, and that had been carefully rehearsed. The soulful profile gaze that ceiling was masterful. Great theater. And it might have been effectible. Maybe he'll get some support now from the "reality based" folks, as he did alight on this earth briefly, but, on MSNBC, Newsweek's White House correspondent said just after he finished and the cameras moved to Blair, Bush leaned over to the reporters in the front row and gave them all a big sarcastic grin.

It's a game. He's winning.

Or he's not? See Howard Fineman on the Enron verdict here -
If you want a date to mark the beginning of the end of the Bush Era in American life, you may as well make it this one: May 25, 2006. The Enron jury in Houston didn't just put the wood to Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling. The jurors took a chain saw to the moral claims of the Texas-based corporate culture that had helped fuel the rise to power of President George W. Bush.
Ben Adler says that's horseshit here -
Ha! I would that it were so, but this is utter nonsense. If Enron was going to bring down the Bush presidency, it would have done so a long time ago. It was a much bigger news story a few years ago when it broke. And remember, back then Enron was Bush's largest donor throughout his political career. He still won re-election, and Enron barely even figured into the 2004 campaign. Now, several years of continued federal fiscal mismanagement later, and this unsurprising verdict is supposed to be the nail in Bush's coffin? All this really proves is the mainstream media's pile-on-him-when-he's-down-because-now-it's-safe-to mentality.
But really, it doesn't matter. Lay and Skilling are old history. Other things are happening.

But that was the big news on Thursday, May 25, 2006.

What about the small news?

The movie about how Jesus had a son by Mary Magdalene and now Opus Dei is trying to take over the world is still a hot topic.

Who cares?

Stanley Kurtz in the National Review here -
This movie is a salutary kick in the teeth for conservatives. There's no gainsaying the fact that the Narnia movie was a big deal. Having conceded that, the fact remains that when it comes to exercising influence on the fundamental levers of American culture, conservatives remain in a pathetically weakened position.

... I feel in a particularly strong position to reveal the entirely unsecret conspiracy against patriotism, tradition, and religion hiding in plain sight on our movie and television screens, in our universities, and on the pages of the mainstream press. Conservatives have forgotten just how precarious our position is. One cable news channel, talk radio, and the blogosphere do not an invincible army make. It only seems that way because we also have nominal control of the reigns of power. But lose our foothold in government, and conservatives are up a creek. The other side controls the levers of cultural power in this country, and we are the enemy in their eyes (and on their screens).

Conservatives need to face the fact that our position in this culture is genuinely precarious. If we lose our hold on power, we'll scream bloody murder on our outlets at everything the other side does. Yet those screams may only confirm our helplessness. The deep cultural dimension of our political battles makes an ordinary transfer of political power far more consequential than it was in the days when America had a bipartisan foreign policy and a broad cultural consensus. We can dream about forcing Republicans to the right and then riding back into power two years later, but one big loss could easily turn conservatives back into a marginal cultural force for some time.

Why have Democrats been so angry? It's because their taken-for-granted cultural superiority has been called into question by 9/11, the return of patriotism, a tough foreign policy, and the open defense of the sort of traditional values they thought were on the way out. Republican victories have punctured the cultural left's sense of the historical inevitability of their triumph, and that is at the root of their rage. By controlling the political agenda, conservatives control the cultural agenda as well (or at least a large part of it). But the truth is, other than the government, the left is still in control of our critical cultural institutions. Should the left recapture the government as well, it may well succeed in pushing traditionalists aside in the culture at large.

The battle is radicalizing. Big Love and The Da Vinci Code are far more direct and brazen attacks on tradition than we might have anticipated just a few years ago. Conservatives are the targets, and Hollywood is aiming and shooting repeatedly. Give credit to Tom Hanks, by the way. As producer of Big Love and star of The Da Vinci Code, he is clearly one of the captains of the not-so-secret conspiracy.
What? It's just a movie, and it seems not that good a movie. But it's a conspiracy against the beleaguered and outnumbered true conservatives. Right.

James Wolcott here -
It's entertaining watching Kurtz thrash around in frustration, making a silly spectacle of himself. "Why have Democrats been so angry?" he asks, then answers his own question as if the lies and horror of the botched Iraq occupation and the Katrina catastrophe played no part. I don't know any liberal Democrat who cleaves to a notion of "historical inevitability" - it's only the radicals of the far right and left who adhere to such absolute certitudes, while the vast majority believe that civilization muddles along in fits and starts, advancing here, retreating there. I bet Kurtz has never caught more than a glimpse of HBO's Big Love, for if he had he would realize that far from glamorizing or normalizing polygamy, the show depicts the financial and emotional pitfalls and cobweb complications of juggling wives and household arrangements, leading a secret life, and suffering the whims and schemes of a patriarchal leader (portrayed with gnawed mendacity and petty cruelty by Harry Dean Stanton). Like The Sopranos, it trains its attention on a snakepit of conspiratorial activity hidden behind a suburban facade. (If any show undermines Kurtzian notions of "tradition," it's Deadwood, and I never hear conservatives complain about it.)

Note that Kurtz neglects to mention that Hanks' credits also include producing and directing Band of Brothers, an HBO series of unimpeachable heroism and patriotism - hardly products of cultural subversion. Co-exec producer of Band of Brothers was Steven Spielberg, and just as his star-spangled work was heaved overboard by neocons and cultural conservatives after he offended their hawkish sensibilities with Munich, Hanks too is now being tarred as a cultural malefactor for his participation in The Da Vinci Code. Give it up, guys. You're never going to sour America on Tom Hanks; you're never, in short, going to be able to Swift Boat him.

If this is what Kurtz and his kind are like with The Da Vinci Code, I don't want to be around to hear the caterwauling that may occur should Oliver Stone's World Trade Center become a hit. It'll be like karoke night among the coyotes.
And there's Peggy Noonan, former Reagan speechwriter, in the Wall Street Journal here -
I do not understand the thinking of a studio that would make, for the amusement of a nation 85% to 90% of whose people identify themselves as Christian, a major movie aimed at attacking the central tenets of that faith, and insulting as poor fools its gulled adherents. Why would Tom Hanks lend his prestige to such a film? Why would Ron Howard? They're both already rich and relevant. A desire to seem fresh and in the middle of a big national conversation? But they don't seem young, they seem immature and destructive. And ungracious. They've been given so much by their country and era, such rich rewards and adulation throughout their long careers. This was no way to say thanks.
Be grateful for what the Christians gave you, you Hollywood Jews! It's so sad you can't be grateful.

Amazing. But a cool diversion from the real issues.

Posted by Alan at 23:05 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 26 May 2006 07:01 PDT home

Newer | Latest | Older