Archive

  • Gunner's Palace

    Saw Gunner's Palace last night. Like others already have, I recommend you check it out immediately. The film brilliantly succeeds in showing the routinization of life in a war zone, taking pains to neither demonize nor canonize the fresh-faced kids who serve as the stars. Unlike many documentaries, there is no plot, the editors have created no characters and they've taken pains to deny us a satisfying story arc. There's no CG added to create cool visuals, and there are no attempts to tie the movie into a larger political context. It's simply the camera's record of day after day after day in Iraq. Some are good, some are worse. Sometimes the troops show striking patience and compassion, sometimes they throw their quarry on the ground and demand they "shut the fuck up". Sometimes patrols are no more eventful than a stroll to the supermarket, and sometimes mobs form to pelt them with rocks. The soldiers spend a lot of time rapping, playing guitar, play games on the computer, trying to...
  • Schiavo Considered

    Terry Schiavo, if I understand her condition, is an essentially brain dead woman who has languished in a coma for a decade, who shows little to no hope of ever rediscovering consciousness, and who, even if she did snap to attention, would be so desperately brain damaged that she could never function. Her cerebral cortex is gone , replaced by spinal fluid. The main debate about her condition is whether there are a few living tissues left, or whether there are none; in either case, there's nothing near what is required for any level of higher cognitive function. Her condition, short of an act of God, is irreparable, her mental command center gone. And yet, she's been kept alive for 10 years, running through a variety of hospitals and tests and assisted living mechanisms, absorbing an enormous amount of money in what is truly a hopeless cause. So, in the same week that most Republicans voted for Medicaid cuts that would destroy health care for tens of thousands who could use and benefit...
  • Troubles in Sugar Land

    Jesse Lee, writing at the Stakeholder , makes an important point: It's hard to say how many headlines away that day is, but as we've said before, something has certainly shifted. The past week has seen literally a half dozen separate stories written on doubts within the GOP Conference about DeLay. That never happens. And DeLay's bizarre news conference and recent meetings to "assuage" his rank & file are also unusual, and smell of desperation. It's really true. Ten days ago, the DeLay scandals were in the same category as Plame, and the intimidated Medicare actuary, and the 50 other small-bore scandals liberals hoped would undermine the House of Bush but which never seemed find the foundations. At some point in the last week, however, the DeLay's violations, either through new evidence or critical mass of news stories, experienced a phase shift, and now the editorialists are slamming him, the cable shows are dissecting him, the Democrats are planning against him, on and on. That...
  • Legal Questions

    Over at The Corner, John J Miller asks : If somebody put a pistol to Schiavo's head and pulled the trigger--you know, to give the "dying process" a little nudge--would the shooter be guilty of murder under Florida law? If a conservative pundit thought he was being clever but instead made an analogy so flawed that an unwary blogger fell through the logic holes and sprained his brain, can he be sued for criminal negligence?
  • Lessons I Learned Last Night

    Actually, it wasn't last night. Last night was probably my fifth Spearhead show. But if you've not seen them live, you really, really, should. For reasons I don't understand, blogospheric music recommendations are sole property of the Indy Music Alliance, and so all we're ever told is "go see Arcade Fire" or "Death Cab for Cutie is great". Now, I like AF and Death Cab just fine, but none of these skinny white boys with guitars can hold a candle to the six-foot-six force of nature that is Michael Franti. His shows are just mind-blowing. From beat-boxers to Louis Armstrong impersonations to covers to music that has left friends of mine in tears -- no joke -- it doesn't get any better. Ever. What's that you say? You don't know Spearhead? Surely you jest! Well, for you poor souls out there, you can download some of their songs here ("Everybody Loves Music" and "Oh My God" are particularly good choices), or, in less legal venues (actually, iTunes carries them too), you should check out "...
  • Maybe They'll Conduct a Public Exorcism!

    Aren't conservatives supposed to be for, you know, limited government and congressional restraint and states' rights and stuff? Yeah? So tell me how they can possibly justify following up their subpoenas to Major League Baseball with yet more subpoenas stopping doctors from pulling Terry Schiavo's feeding tube and forcing her and her husband to testify before a committee. As Kevin says : It's not just that this is an obvious abuse of congressional power, since subpoenas are designed to compel testimony and Terri Schiavo is obviously not going to testify about anything. What's really nauseating is the almost slavering Republican eagerness to treat Schiavo as a common media spectacle. What are they going to do? Wheel her into a committee room under the klieg lights so the whole country can gape in wonderment at a comatose woman? Why not just set up a circus freak show on Capitol Hill and be done with it? It's weird because I remember their guiding philosophy even as they seem to have...
  • Kaddish for Kennan

    Centenarian George F. Kennan has died. Historically astute readers will know his as the author of the "containment" doctrine, which essentially guided our foreign policy through the Cold War. What most won't know, what I didn't know, is that Kennan felt his strategy significantly overapplied. As he conceived of it, containment was meant to protect a few spots of great national interest, not become a global policy to plug socialism wherever it uncorked. If we'd followed him, then, there would have been no Vietnam, no Bay of Pigs, fewer national embarrassments. It's all quite interesting. So read the LA Times' excellent obituary , it's a history lesson unto itself.
  • Our Cheating Government

    The special exemptions and rules given to Wal-Mart should really be a national shame. That a case concerning illegal child labor has ended with the transgressor getting a 15-day advance warning before any future inspection of its stores and a 10-day abatement period to rectify any abuses found during the prescheduled inspections is just flabbergasting. Imagine that -- not only does Wal-Mart have half a month to clean up a store before a visit, but in the event that they don't do a thorough job, they get a second chance to sweep violations under the rug. What happened to personal responsibility? To basic logic? I'm glad that House Democrats are holding Chao's feet to the fire on this, but we should really be throwing her into the furnace. This is a disgrace, it's the kind of deal that's reached in the third world when popular opinion forces a puppet government to "investigate" the guy pulling the strings. This administration isn't just in bed with corporations, it's sweaty and panting...
  • The Wizard of Luntz

    Luntz is such sleaze. His op-ed in the LA Times isn't even the sort of thing you can rebut, you can only point out the slime oozing off every word. The contention that his true aim in life, linguistic humanitarian that he is, is to clear policy debates of obfuscation and inject language that fairly and clearly expresses the policy conflict is enough to make a weaker man retch. But I'm no weaker man. In fact, I'm a highly evolved homo-sapien deeply enmeshed in modern communication technologies that allow me to absorb disparate sources of information and render judgments that inform and amuse thousands of others. And, highly sophisticated creature that I am, Luntz's op-ed pleases me. Because it means he's on the run. Luntz wrote this in response to the wide play his leaked "New America Lexicon" got. You guys might remember it -- Kos had it, everybody linked, everybody laughed and pored over it...but it got to Luntz. It got to him because he's being dragged out from behind the curtain...
  • Big Media Me Reminder

    I'll be on MSNBC's Connected: Coast-to-Coast during the 5 eastern/2 pacific program. They think my segment will hit about 15 minutes in, but you never know. Update : So that didn't go as planned. You'd think live coverage of a Senate hearing is the sort of thing you'd know about before I was in the studio, but such is cable news. On the bright side, I think today conclusively proved Jose Canseco's assertion that steroid use hurts the youth. If not for it, I'd have been on the teevee.

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