Saturday, January 13, 2007
As we celebrate the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King this Monday I'd like to share one of the greatest tributes to his life provided by Bobby Kennedy at a political rally just after the news of the assasination.
Friday, January 12, 2007
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — The school board in this suburb south of Seattle has restricted showings of Al Gore's movie on global warming, including requiring that it be balanced with an adequate opposing viewpoint.
The board also required Superintendent Tom Murphy to approve when the former vice president's film, "An Inconvenient Truth," can be presented.
The decision was sparked by complaints from parents who said their children were taking the film as fact after viewing it at school.
"Condoms don't belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He's not a schoolteacher," said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven children who doesn't want the film shown at all.
"The information that's being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is," Hardison told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn't in the DVD."
Board President Ed Barney told The News Tribune of Tacoma on Jan. 10 that he had received about a half-dozen complaints from parents.
A whole half dozen complaints? Wow. Well, by all means then accomodate the ignorant, mouth-breathing, slope-browed yahoos who think the biblical perspective of the earth burning through the end times needs to be included in a video covering a scientific theory accepted by the vast majority of climatologists worldwide.
I hope the Federal Way school board takes a massive heaping of shit for this now that it's made the national news. They deserve it. It is not the business of schools to accomodate the ignorant. Ignorance is a condition they've been specifically tasked with correcting.
Carl von Clausewitz famously said "War is merely a continuation of politics." I wonder if those that continue to support the war in Iraq really understand that statement. Clausewitz wasn't arguing that a state could achieve it's goals by either diplomatic or military means but not both. He was arguing precisely the opposite- that diplomacy and the use of force often overlap.
One need not look far to see examples of Iraq war supporters falling into this tiger trap of binary thinking. Just a quick perusal of the comments on Howard Kurtz's blog today provides us this specimen-
OK. democrats want us to run. What do they think is going to happen after that? How do they see the world future after that? What are they going to do when Iran finally gets nuclear weapons and starts little by little orchestrating more attacks on americans worlwide and taking control of the whole middle east oil resources? what are they going to do ? find the way to keep blaming somebody else? Eventually somebody is going to go back there and confront an enemy a thousand times more dangerous can you image the carnage? cant the Dems see that?
It's an fascinating world that Mr. Bradlee lives in. A world in which the United States is either fully engaged in a regional conflict in the Middle East or apparently cowering within the confines of it's own shores, huddled under a desk waiting for the inevitable next terrorist attack. I'd love to apply such a binary dichotomy to other facets of life. For example - you are either the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots and a fine athletic specimen or a five-hundred pound couch potato that will have to be hauled out of your double-wide on a forklift after you pass away from heart disease. Varying degrees of physical fitness just don't exist.
A withdrawal of a substantial number of our forces from Iraq does not mean we've disengaged completely from the region. Nor does it mean we've simply surrendered to threat of global terrorism. Outside of the military resources we'll undoubtedly maintain within striking distance the United States has, or at least used to have, substantial influence via diplomatic and economic means. That so many on the Right can only see the greatness of the United States in terms of "blowing stuff up" is one of mysteries of our time.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
I share the worries expressed by some that the subtext of Bush's speech last night is that we will shortly be attacking Iran, Syria or both via airstrikes. The veiled threats towards those countries and the promise of patriot missile batteries (useless against an insurgency of which mortars and IEDs pretty much top off their list of technological weapons) make it pretty clear that Bush has more than increased troop levels planned. The insurgents don't have an airplanes or missiles. The Iranians and Syrians do.
What we'll probably be seeing is a series of airstrikes against Iran and a military move against Sadr in Iraq. More of the whack-a-mole strategy this administration is so good at. I'm sure the Shiite majority in Iraq will be happy to just sit back and let this happen. Not only will we be sending more troops into Iraq, we'll be taking action to make sure their tour is infinetly more dangerous.
After watching the not-so-bright neighborhood boy repeatedly poking the beehive with a stick only to be swarmed and stung one reaches a certain point where you take that stick away.
In Rush's defense and as a fan of Star Trek I have to say Wu's quote is rather lame. He says that Neocons are closer to Klingons than Vulcans. That's nuts. Klingons are an honorable race. Neocons wouldn't know honor from a hole in their head.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
WASHINGTON -- In a Senate floor speech last month, Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith broke his long support for the Iraq war and called it "absurd." He also says he opposes President Bush's plans to increase the number of troops in Iraq.
But the Republican senator says he isn't sure how he might vote on bills to bring the troops home.
There's no great mystery about the motives behind this deliberate misnaming. "Democrat Party" is a slur, or intended to be, a handy way to express contempt. Aesthetic judgments are subjective, of course, but "Democrat Party" is jarring verging on ugly. It fairly screams "rat." At a slightly higher level of sophistication, it's an attempt to deny the enemy the positive connotations of its chosen appellation.
Digby caught a good example in John Boehner's speech on "civility" at the opening of the new congress last week. It's not just bad grammar, it's impolite-
You see, it actually isn't very civil at all to change the name of someone's else's political party against their will. In fact, it's universally considered rude and cretinous not to call people by the names and designations by which they wish to be called.
It may seem small but it's part of the Orwellian assault on language that conservative strategists have been implementing for years. Democratic politicians do us all a disservice when they let it slide in the name of comity. Boehner's remarks should've been followed by a rhetorical bitch-slap from a Democrat calling him on the hypocrisy of calling for civility while playing rude semantic games. It's going to take that level of awareness to put enough of a focus on the embarrass embarass republics, sorry republicans, into changing their ways.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
My initial reaction to the news last week that Lucas, Ford and Spielberg are finally going ahead with the production of the long awaited Indiana Jones 4 film was excitement followed by a quick sense of dread. Lucas, who initially created the character, is driving the story this time around and his recent performance and decisions so far don't exactly inspire confidence.
About four years ago it looked like the project was going to go ahead with a script penned by Frank Darabont ("The Shawhank Redemption.") Spielberg and Ford loved the script that featured an older Indy and brought back all of the leading ladies from previous films. George "Jar Jar" Lucas put the breaks on. Per an interview with Darabont-
"That was the most frustrating of all, and that was the straw that broke the back of me wanting to continue in that line of work. That was terrifically frustrating. I worked for over a year on that; I worked very close with Steven Spielberg. He was ecstatic with the result and was ready to shoot it two years ago. He was very, very happy with the script and said it was the best draft of anything since Raiders of the Lost Ark. That’s really high praise and gave me a real sense of accomplishment, especially when you love the material you’re working on as much as I love the Indiana Jones films.
And then you have George Lucas read it and say, ‘Yeah, I don’t think so, I don’t like it.’ And then he resets it to zero when Spielberg is ready to shoot it that coming year, [which] is a real kick to the nuts. You can only waste so much time and so many years of your life on experiences like that, you can only get so emotionally invested and have the rug pulled out from under you before you say enough of that."
George's idea for an alternative story doesn't exactly make me want to be the first in line for tickets.
On August 8, 2006, Lucas told Empire magazine, "'I discovered a McGuffin,' continues Lucas, still reluctant to name said McGuffin. 'I told the guys about it and they were a little dubious about it, but it’s the best one we’ve ever found… Unfortunately, it was a little too ‘connected’ for the others. They were afraid of what the critics would think. They said, 'Can’t we do it with a different McGuffin? Can’t we do this?' and I said 'No.' So we pottered around with that for a couple of years. And then Harrison really wanted to do it and Steve said, 'Okay.' I said, 'We’ll have to go back to that original McGuffin and take out the offending parts of it and we’ll still use that area of the supernatural to deal with it."
(Incidentally - I'm not sure Lucas is using "McGuffin" in the right context as the Ark, Holy Grail, etc. from the other films were integral to the actual story.)
It's the phrase "too connected for the others" that makes me cringe. This is the guy that pretty much ruined Star Wars by shrinking the universe through the interconnectivity of all the characters. Will Indy find out he's Short Round's father? Will his whip be made of midichlorians?
In the end I can't help but wonder when Lucas is finally going to make all those small films with no special effects he's spend the last twenty years talking about rather than putting it off by revisting, and ruining, film characters and films I enjoyed so much as a kid.
Monday, January 08, 2007
Kitzahber repeatedly opts out of running for the senate claiming he wants to raise his family in Oregon not D.C. Family schamily this is politics. It's IMPORTANT.