Quick reaction: Moore's material on Iraq is mostly good, though, as others have noted, he'll be faulted for failing to make any mention of Saddam's awfulness. There's a section on military recruitment that's pretty powerful-- Moore can be tiresome but the people in Flint are still close to his heart. The earlier stuff ("the House of Bush is in bed with everybody") is weird and distracting. Through a lot of it, I found myself wishing that Moore had gone for the relatively simple point that Bush is a doofus and a lousy president, instead of reaching for some Illuminati moments. The surface facts are damning enough; no need to look for conspiracies, even if they do exist.
This post shouldn't preclude anyone else from writing something on this-- I just wanted to throw this out before bed to see what you all thought.
I'm genuinely confused. Here's the spam I just got.
deliberate, through the front, enthusiast, little this upset, contusion, not merit this.coffer, i just dont, broccoli, a moment later.
What is this?
They mean she has big breasts! Seriously, never occurred to me; didn't notice.
You people are sick.
Even the Brits, who are 1) our most dependable allies and 2) generally willing to allow a lot more Big Brother than we are, say the tribunals planned for Gitmo detainees are a crock.
The Government's senior law officer has been "unable to accept" President George Bush's proposals for military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, it emerged tonight.
The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith QC, said he considered the US arrangements contrary to fair trial, and insisted there were "certain principles on which there can be no compromise".
He also suggested that the public should accept more intrusion into their private lives if it was justified by the fight against international terrorism.
Lord Goldsmith will tell the International Criminal Law Association tomorrow: "While we must be flexible and be prepared to countenance some limitation of fundamental rights if properly justified and proportionate, there are certain principles on which there can be no compromise.
"Fair trial is one of those – which is the reason we in the UK have been unable to accept that the US military tribunals proposed for those detained at Guantanamo Bay offer sufficient guarantees of a fair trial in accordance with international standards."
And yet, the election remains in doubt...
I was playing a pickup game with some young toughs yesterday--foul on every play, plenty of yelling and talking--and when one of the big talkers blocked a shot he said, naturally, "Get that shit outta here!" Then, sheepishly, "Sorry, had to say that."
Philip Swallow didn't need a PhD to teach at
UC Berkeley Euphoric State, and Jack Malehorn(!) doesn't need one to teach at Valdosta State. Turns out lots of professors get their jobs on the strength of fake degrees, and many of their employers don't care.
Me, my PhD is from Bob Jones University, which isn't accredited but could well be in the near future.
Mark Kleiman is talking sense.
Noise is annoying. (Indeed, I'm pretty sure the words are from the same root.) The physiologists tell us that noise is a stressor, and one to which only partial tolerance develops: even people who subjectively don't mind noises their conscious minds have grown used to still show signs of stress in noisy surroundings.
Noise is part of the reason long-distance travel, whether by car or by airplane, is so tiring. On top of the sitting in confined spaces, there's the constant noise of the engines or the freeway. I have a remarkably quiet car, as cars go, but at 70 mph lots of noise still gets through.
For the past three years or so, I've made it a rule never to travel without a pair of earplugs, and the difference has been astonishing ... I don't know anyone else who uses this approach, and I've never seen anyone else putting earplugs in on an airplane. Airlines don't offer them to passengers.
Quite so, but what Mark might not know is that there's a brisk business in what are called "noise isolating" earphones, with inner-ear and battery powered noise-cancelling models both explicitly trying to appeal to frequent flyers in particular. In fact, the Bose copy reads a lot like Mark's post.
Research studies have confirmed a link between noise, human fatigue and symptoms of stress, proving that typical cabin noise levels may severely affect the way you feel. The headphones can also reduce background office noise or the clatter of a commuter train, and they always deliver the crisp, true audio for which Bose is renowned.
Now you just have to decide whether you'll drop $300 for a pair of earphones, or $4 for earplugs. Personally, much as I dislike noise, I'm even more afraid I'll miss something good if I stop up my ears.
It's so much more fun when one of the major papers doesn't like the administration.
A brief argument between Vice President Cheney and a senior Democratic senator led Cheney to utter a big-time obscenity on the Senate floor this week ... The exchange ended when Cheney offered some crass advice. "Fuck yourself," said the man who is a heartbeat from the presidency ... As it happens, the exchange occurred on the same day the Senate passed legislation described as the "Defense of Decency Act" by 99 to 1 ... Gleeful Democrats pointed out that the White House has not always been so forgiving of obscenity. In December, Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry was quoted using the same word in describing Bush's Iraq policy as botched. The president's chief of staff reacted with indignation ... This was not the first foray into French by Cheney and his boss ... Even if the Senate were in session, the vice president, though constitutionally the president of the Senate, is an executive branch official and therefore free to use whatever language he likes.
Ted Olson is resigning as Solicitor General in order to return to private practice. Ted Olson represented George Bush in the 2000 Supreme Court case Bush v Gore.
Ashley Olsen has cancelled a trip to Australia in order to be with her sister Mary-Kate as Mary-Kate undergoes treatment for anorexia. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen starred in the 2004 blockbuster movie New York Minute.
Correction: On Andrew Cholakian's advice in comments, I changed the title from "Ols#n." Now it should make sense to everybody. I apologize to Ted Olson and to Kary-Kate and Ashley Olsen for the confusion.
Atrios posts a transcript from Scarborough Country to demonstrate that Michael Isikoff is a tool. Ok, that's a gimme. But how does Chris Lehane take a situation in which the facts are on his side, and in which he's already crushed his opponent, and turn it into a loss, in which his client seems like he has something to hide, and Lehane looks, once again, like a jerk?
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on, Chris. Let me ask the questions.
Will you provide Michael Isikoff and will you provide us a full transcript of this movie?
LEHANE: You can come to us whenever you want about any single fact that you want.
SCARBOROUGH: No, no. Answer the question.
ISIKOFF: He‘s not answering the question.
SCARBOROUGH: Will you provide a transcript?
ISIKOFF: Full transcript, full transcript.
LEHANE: You come to me with any issue that you have and I‘ll go over it with you.
SCARBOROUGH: Chris Lehane, will you provide us a full transcript, yes or no?
LEHANE: As I provided Michael Isikoff when he asked, I provided the transcript of the issue that he was looking at.
First, the substantive point: just turn over the transcript. If someone can watch the movie, they can transcribe it. Make sure your official version is the one that's being used. And, if Moore is bashing the administration for its secretiveness, it's particularly dumb to withhold something there's no good reason to withhold.
Second, Chris, you smirking moron, repeating an evasive, legalistic answer to a simple question is the cliched caricature of a press flack, not what any competent flack does. How does this guy keep getting hired?
Very busy today, but...
CNN is reporting that on the floor of the Senate yesterday, Dick Cheney told Sen. Pat Leahy, "Go fuck yourself."
A new poll:
For the first time since the start of the war in Iraq, a majority of Americans say the United States made a mistake in sending troops to that country, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Thursday.
Fifty-four percent of those polled said it was a mistake to send U.S. troops to Iraq, compared with 41 percent who expressed that sentiment in early June.
Most poll respondents, 55 percent, also said they don't believe the war has made the United States safer from terrorism -- rejecting an argument that President Bush has repeatedly advanced in his rationale for the war.
And last, Billmon with the best specific and general diagnosis of unfair coverage I've ever seen.
The Federal Elections Comission might ban advertising of Fahrenheit 9/11 after July 30. Same goes for The Hunting of the President and Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War. (Link from Thorn Papers, via a Daily Kos Diary.)
2. Where are the right-wing documentaries? My initial, biased explanation is that lefty arguments hold up better in long-duration formats like 90-minute movies -- but it's not like there aren't long books pushing righty causes. It's an interesting issue because it turns a neutral-seeming FEC rule (no corporate money for TV or radio advertising that mentions federal candidates within 30 days of a primary) into a rule that squelches political speech one-sidedly.
3. I'm surprised and amused by how much of the right-wing response to F 9/11 starts by pushing a naive definition of documentary: it's not a doc because it's one-sided, or it's not a doc because it lies. (David Bossie: "I don't think much of Michael Moore or his two-hour political advertisement — that's all it is. He uses all of these words to make it look like he makes documentaries, but it's the furthest thing from the truth. Documentaries tend to be fact-based.") It's actually pretty brilliant of them. They get to sound like they had actually stayed awake during their film-theory classes (at least the sessions on challenging the implicit authority of photography), while at the same time holding up Balance and Factuality as the standard of allowable political discourse. And since they're the ones to bring up Balance and Factuality first, they get to say what counts as balanced and what counts as factual.
4. Some optimists are suggesting that all the desperate righty moves to discredit and ban the movie are evidence that the righties predict that the movie will be influential in swaying swingers. Frayed knot. I might believe it if I thought that the righties did everything according to a cost-benefit analysis in which bold, embarrassing actions were only deemed worthwhile if the benefits were great. Three problems. (a) Neither lefties nor righties are single, centrally controlled entities, no matter what my own conspiracy theories tell me. Who would do the cost-benefit analysis, and of whose costs? (Yes, I acknowledge this point and still use facile us-them wording in my posts.) (b) Righties have enormous resources, which means that many seemingly costly actions that bring small benefit are cheap enough for them. And (c) Al Gore was defeated on the strength of a thousand trivial micro-lies (Gore says he invented the internet, Gore swims just ten minutes after eating), none of which in itself had large effect, but the sum of which was the Colorado River to Gore's Grand Canyon.
Clinton's Dole Lecture. It's hopeful and inclusive rather than fearful and angry. It charts a path forward out of America's global isolation and internal polarization, and the vehicle is recognition of the country's and the world's interdependence. It's above today's problems (like Iraq) and bickering (like the presidential race) because the Big Dog is a big dog with bigger bones to gnaw on.
1. Yes, it's great to be reminded of what's it's like to have a smart, articulate president.
2. I prefer Al Gore.
Here's a thought I've been having lately, and maybe someone will know what to make of it. A while back, I wrote,
Bill Clinton was supposed to be the empathic President who had an emotional connection with voters, but that was never really true: unsophisticated voters liked him because he knew what they wanted to hear, and more sophisticated voters just marveled at his slickness because it was a great performance.
Seeing Clinton again lately, I'm more convinced of that than ever. So, is it just coincidence that the Republican critique that has stuck to Gore and Kerry is that they have no core beliefs, and will say anything to get elected? Is that critique really about them at all, or does it resonate because Clinton is, still, the Democratic archetype? (I'm not saying that the charge is true of Clinton, but he really is such a chameleon in persona, if not governance, that I think many people do believe it about him.)
By the way, to change direction a bit, it's worth noting that Clinton's magnificent skill as a politician and his dalliances flow from one source. The reason the very articulate John Edwards isn't quite as good as Clinton is that he doesn't seem to have access to the same sort of pain and need that made Clinton so sensitive to his audience (whether that audience was one or millions). And are there any adults that need to be reminded that pain and need can drag us into some damn strange relationships?
I was just told that several readers of this blog pronounce "Ogged" with two syllables, as ogg-ed. Dear readers, "ogged" as in bogged down, as in logged an entry, as in unfogged, unf and ogged.
"Bob," however, is totally pronounced with a long "o."
From Harper's, interviews with Iranian brothel workers:
One day I was coming home from school when Abbas started following me, asking for alms. Every day for a week he followed me home, but I ignored him. Then one day I answered, and my brother happened to see me. He went straight to my father. That night my father beat me until my whole body was black and blue. Then he locked me in the cellar. There were rats down there. I screamed and shouted, but no one came to help me. I thought I was going to die from fright. The next day, after my father had gone to work, my sister passed a piece of bread and some cheese to me under the cellar door. For a whole month she did that every day. For a whole month I didn't wash or change my clothes. There was a pit in the cellar where I went to the bathroom. Finally, I broke a window in the middle of the night and managed to escape into the street. I had no chador, so I stole one from the mosque. I was on my way to the bus terminal when I was picked up by the police. At six o'clock in the morning, they took me back home. I was beaten again. This time my father hung me by my feet from the hook he used to hang slaughtered lambs. That night my sister cut me down. She said, "Go." I said, "He's going to kill you." She said, "You go, I'll think of something." She gave me a chador and some money. I went straight to the town square, found a ride, and came to Teheran.
Ah, a real, and wonderfully readable review of Bill Clinton's book, by the real, and wonderfully readable Larry McMurtry.
William Jefferson Clinton's "My Life" is, by a generous measure, the richest American presidential autobiography - no other book tells us as vividly or fully what it is like to be president of the United States for eight years. Clinton had the good sense to couple great smarts with a solid education; he arrived in Washington in 1964 and has been the nation's - or perhaps the world's - No. 1 politics junkie ever since. And he can write - as Reagan, Ford, Nixon and Lyndon B. Johnson, to go no farther back, could not.
One of the appealing things about Bill Clinton, at least to literary types like me, is that he frequently reminds me of authors or their characters - for instance, there's Thomas Wolfe, the big ghost from the other side of the South. Bill Clinton looks homeward often, to laud his angel mother, Virginia Kelley. But why stop there? You can have Clinton as Gulliver, pricked by the Boss Lilliputian, Kenneth Starr; you can have him as Tom Jones, eternally seeking his Dad; you can have him as L'il Abner, wooing his Daisy Mae in the unlikely purlieu of Yale Law School; though to his gnatlike cloud of enemies he will always mainly be the Artful Dodger, the man they're convinced is getting away with something, even if, as is often the case, they can't figure out what.
And, having spent a couple of years going over this with the Jesuits myself, something I've always wanted someone to say.
During the silly time when Clinton was pilloried for wanting to debate the meaning of "is," I often wondered why no one pointed out that he was educated by Jesuits, for whom the meaning of "is" is a matter not lightly resolved.
Detainees held in Afghanistan by American troops have been routinely tortured and humiliated as part of the interrogation process, in the same way as those in Iraq, a Guardian investigation has found.
Five detainees have died in custody, three of them in suspicious circumstances, and survivors have told stories of beatings, strippings, hoodings and sleep deprivation.
The nature of the alleged abuse indicates that what happened at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was part of a pattern of interrogation that has been common practice since the US invasion of Afghanistan.Luckily, we had our legal ducks in a row, even so.
"At the end of my time in Guantánamo, I had to sign a paper saying I had been captured in battle, which was not true," he said. "I was stopped when I was in my taxi with four passengers. But they told me I would have to spend the rest of my life in Guantánamo if I did not sign it, so I did."They probably just couldn't get their minds around a Middle-Easterner who wasn't driving a cab.
As far as we can tell, Unfogged's recent downtime was caused by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Just noting how much of the screen space in this NY Times article is devoted to the text of the story, how much to other stuff.
Illinois Republican senatorial candidate Jack Ryan is flaming out because during divorce proceedings, his (come on folks, she's not that attractive) wife said that he took her to sex clubs and tried to get her to have sex with him while others watched.
I'd say this is decidedly bad news for Ryan's Democratic opponent, Barack Obama. Obama was already up more than 20 points in this race, and now, instead of having crushed the possibly formidable handsome Harvard-educated investment banker who gave up his job to teach in the inner city, Obama's victory will be attributed (partly) to Ryan's scandal.
And I'd really hoped that the silver lining to Schwarzenegger's victory was that we had put sex scandals behind us (Schwarzenegger's was even worse, of course, because there were hints of harrassment; and I reserve the right to say of any given sex scandal that it's just too freaky, and makes me wonder about the candidate...). I suppose Illinois isn't California.
Finally, Ryan is still a complete sleaze. He maintains even now that he tried to keep the court records confidential because of his son. And, when he declared his candidacy, Ryan assured Republican leaders that there was nothing embarrassing in the records. The Trib's Eric Zorn lashes him for both lies.
In an interview with me nearly a year earlier, even before Ryan had announced his candidacy, he and I had gone off the record to talk about his son's developmental issues, which, as it happens, are similar to some issues my youngest son faces.
I respected his wish not to make his son's problems a public matter--I haven't myself until now--though I was puzzled that he remained so staunch about it, as though reporters would mercilessly publicize the problems of a child who, after all, lives with his mother in California.
So I asked him: Does all this material in the files have to do with the health situation that we spoke about?
He remembered our conversation clearly and said, very directly, man to man, dad to dad, that yes, it did. He was doing what any father would do.
Now it turns out that he was lying, not just to me, but to all the reporters and Republican honchos whom he had assured that there were no personally embarrassing allegations in those divorce records.
His invocation to me of his son's health problems and his incessant references Monday night to his son's need to be sheltered from these unpleasant allegations is an obscene misuse of his status as a father.
"The first job of a dad, of any parent is to protect your children," he told reporters Monday. He referred several times to that interest as his "highest priority."
But he said it in the context of trying to protect his political future.
The measure of Jack Ryan's character is not that he had a rough divorce, or that he may have or may at one time have had unconventional sexual interests. It's not even that he didn't spill every juicy detail when reporters came nosing around.
Few will fault him for not being perfect or heedlessly forthcoming.
The measure of Jack Ryan's character is that he continues to invoke his child to advance the increasingly flimsy idea that he has higher priorities than his own ambition.
A Wacky Addendum: From Slate's Explainer.
The Ryans' records might never have been sealed at all if not for an unbalanced Trekkie named Marlon Pagtakhan. When Jack Ryan initially asked the court to seal the divorce records in 1999, the judge denied his request. But a year later, Pagtakhan was arrested for stalking Mrs. Ryan, who was then playing the buxom Seven of Nine on the TV show Star Trek: Voyager. In hundreds of sexually explicit e-mails, he made graphic threats against the actress's family. (Pagtakhan was sentenced to five years of probation in 2001.) The stalking was enough to convince the judge that the Ryans' information should be sealed, lest some private details fall into the hands of other deranged fans.
I saw "A Home..." at a press screening two months ago. As the editor of a nat'l gay men's mag at the time, you bet my guest and I were somewhat overwhelmed when we saw Colin's meat literally precede him out of the bedroom in the aforementioned nixed shot. Of course, I was on the phone with all of my crony gay mag editor friends the next day gossiping about it, because there was something that just wasn't right. You have to understand, we've seen a lot of cock. Not to get into the gory details, but a penis just doesn't usually move the way his wagged (or, rather, didn't) when he walked down the hall. The verdict was it was most definitely fluffed. That, or, we wouldn't have been surprised if the Colin PR machine insisted on a little low-budget CG "enhancement." Plus, what is he, like 5'5"? Of course it'll look big.
So now we're left to wonder if Farrell was fluffed or if we're all the victims of a CGI stunt cock. (We're going to leave the frame-by-frame analysis to someone else, we're still busy with the Lohan investigation.) Only one thing is clear: Farrell's genius PR team is going to get a huge fucking raise or be hired away by Tom Cruise, even though they neglected the balls.I totally don't get that last part. But I do recall that a CGI cock was used in Irreversible (sometimes I'm embarrassed by the stuff I know).
Maybe someone more familiar than I with the infinite nuance of baseball can explain: Just how would the people proposing that intentional walks be banned police intentional, but not obvious, walks?
UPDATE: Brad DeLong offers, "It's easy. A 4-0 count walk becomes a two-base walk, not a one-base walk." In his comments, Kelly rebuts, correctly, "Wouldn't a 4-0 double create an incentive for a bean ball?" Indeed it would. Needless to say, this throws Brad's good sense, and all his economic analysis into question. You know, maybe I wasn't better off under Clinton...
The administration has released documents (one in particular) that are purported to demonstrate that Bush never approved torture. Michael Froomkin very helpfully explains that they demonstrate quite a bit less than that.
Note also what's not there. For example, nothing in this memo seems directed to the CIA, just to the military. I wonder if there's a separate order for the CIA with more … flexibility?
It's also important to keep the confusing timeline straight. The OLC torture memo was delivered in August 2002, i.e. several months after this order. Thus, it is clear that this command, in Feb. 2002, to be "humane" was not the last word on the subject in the minds of all policy makers, including the President's closest advisors such as his Legal Counsel. And we know that the Walker Group was still chewing on the torture question in March 2003, although we don't know what if anything came of it.
In short, we don't know if this memo was ever countermanded, or amended, whether it applied to the CIA, or indeed what if anything ultimately resulted from subsequent advice to Bush that he could allow great physical pain to be applied during questioning of detainees. We do know, however, that as early as February 2002, in this memo, Bush had signed on to the dangerous theory of nearly unlimited Presidential power that informed the torture memos. We also know that in those months after this memo issued, many people around Bush were recommending, or prepared to recommend, that inhumane conduct was legal and justified.
I assume that this is the best the administration has. The question in the next few days will be whether the press highlights the gaps and doctrines not disavowed.
I'm practically twitching from withdrawal...best stuff from the last day:
The Poorman on playing poker with Dick Cheney.
Jack O'Toole on facile Clinton-bashing.
Seymour Hersh's latest, on Israel and the Kurds.
Slate on the Dylan and the poets debate.
Matt Yglesias with more on ties/connections/collaboration and implicature.
Bah! The site is being moved to a new (please god, more reliable) server by my hosting provider. Bloggers, no new posts please, and commenters, no new comments please. We should be back to normal early on the morning of the 22nd. I'll update this post when it's ok to post/comment. Sorry, and thanks.
P.S. When the site is down, you can reach me at email@example.com.
NOT YET: Just asked them what was going on. They're still transferring files to the new server. A few hours to go yet.
AT LAST: Back in business. Feel free to post/comment.
To lead the effort, Moore has hired Chris Lehane and Mark Fabiani, former political advisers to Bill Clinton and Al Gore. "Employing the Clinton strategy of '92, we will allow no attack on this film to go without a response immediately," Moore said recently. "And we will go after anyone who slanders me or my work, and we will do it without mercy. And when you think ‘without mercy,' you think Chris Lehane."I've noted a couple of Lehane's stupidities here before, and if you've ever seen the guy on television (please, Michael, keep him off the television) you know that even when you completely agree with him, you still want to strangle the guy. My hope is that Moore's narcissism will be sufficient to keep Lehane from appearing at all in public to defend the film. Do it all yourself, Michael! Please...
I can't watch two minutes of TV without seeing an ad for low-carb beer. Seriously, does anyone drink this stuff? I don't understand: If you want to drink, but don't want a lot of calories, why not drink something really yummy, like a nice scotch, or a good vodka, or a gin and tonic? Is there some sort of social pressure to have a beer and only a beer in your hand at social events?
On a tangentially related topic (as in, watching ESPN makes me think of these things), this ankle brace works as advertised.