Friday, March 26, 2004

GOP Jumping the Shark

On Monday night, just thinking about these despicable wingers gave me a pounding headache (my bud Jo can vouch for my wingnut-induced headache). Then on Wednesday, it happened. The Rethugs, it seems, have finally jumped the shark.

Before the 9/11 commission, Richard Clarke put in one of most impressive appearances by a public figure I've seen. Clarke was knowledgeable, smart, candid, blunt, reasonable, and he obviously cared. And gratifyingly, the dude just straight spanked the Republican hacks on the Commission who were trotting out White House talking points in their desperate attempts to smear him. (Check out that link to Milbank's WaPo recount; it's a great read.) It's guys like Clarke -- prudent, straightfoward, factual -- that the Bush White House (and the GOP) have purged from their ranks. Now, because the Bushies have no facts on their side (almost every pertinent claim against Bush that Clarke has made has been corroborated by other sources, including Woodward's Bush at War and the _Time_ and _Newsweek_ investigative stories on 9/11 failures in 2002), they resort to launching the most vicious public smear campaigns in recent history, enlisting the GOP to do their dirty work. Too bad they keep contradicting one another, and too bad Clarke's outmaneuvered them at every turn. (Check out these ugly allegations.)

(Ironically, it's guys like Clarke (and Senators Hagel and McCain) who have become almost an oxymoron: the Republican with integrity. GOPer hackery has become so pervasive that I was shocked that Hagel didn't parrot the absurd White House BS on Clarke when he appeared on CNN. It's a good thing there are a few good ones left.)

Anyway, this week's activities exposed to the public what the Bushies really are, as Clinton correctly observed last night at the Democratic Unity dinner: they're people whose primary goal is to concentrate power in their hands. They'll stop at nothing for power -- smears, destruction, outright lies. It's Nixon redux (but at least Nixon got some things right on policy and didn't wage an assault on facts). And folks paying attention (and with an open mind) cannot escape this reality.

Wingnuts, of course, are still in denial. Question: Why do right-wingers hate America, and why do they worship at the altar of terrorists-enablers and terrorists-fomenters like Bush and Co.? Do right wingers want terrorists to win? By supporting the inane policies of the Bush administration, are they *appeasors*?

Alas, a few real questions:

* If your stated goal is to spread democracy throughout the Arab world, wouldn't you want to also engage in policies that make the "Arab street" hate you less? Otherwise, wouldn't they end up electing anti-American zealots?

[As a corollary, isn't our "realist" (and bi-partisan) foreign policy of supporting pro-American despots (in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt) a much more effective and safe policy, if our most important priority is American security?]

* Why the urgency to go after Saddam Hussein when bin Laden hadn't yet been caught, and most of al Qaeda's leadership remained at large?

[You'll all be glad to know that the next few posts, when I get to them, will be non-politics related. You'll have to excuse these rants. It's just that, in the last month, I've been consumed by that question famously raised by Bob Dole: where oh where is the fucking outrage?]

Monday, March 22, 2004

The Emperor's Minions

I deleted The Weekly Standard link. I had put it up because it seemed one of the few right-wing outlets still capable of *some* intellectual honesty, whether or not I agree with their editorial stance. But since the election season started they're back on pure wingnuttery. Except on a few middle-right blogs like Volokh's Conspiracy (and my beloved Economist it's a chore trying to find any semblence of independent thought on the Right. Every week, it seems, truth dribbles out (from someone inside the administration) about the Bushies' (1) mendacity; (2) incompetence; (3) hypocrisy; (4) hostility for any attempt at good faith factfinding and data-collecting. This week, the Bushies' former terrorism czar reveals just how incompetent these schmucks were in the War Against Al Qaeda. Check out this comprehensive timeline here for more.

Wingnut response? Smears, obfuscations, smears, ad hominems. No direct challenge to the statements, just faith in Saint Shrub's infinite wisdom.

* When the facts counter your position -- no WMDs, no cheering Iraqis, no easy democracy, no plans for reconstruction --change the subject.

* The question why did Bush not finish the job and destroy Al Qaeda and kill Osama before launching an attack on an unrelated and largely unthreatening country is and will never be answered by these obfuscating fools.

* Resort to Wingnut Playbook #21 when cornered and squeal "Would you rather have Saddam Hussein still in power?" (Answer: No, you freaking idiots, but I'd also don't want Kim Il-jong in power either. But not at the cost of destroying American international credibility, formenting hatred for us in allied and non-allied countries, $150 billion, 600 American lives and thousands of Iraqi civilians, and a country that has a good change of descending into civil war. It's like I'd like the common cold to be eradicated but not at the cost of $500 billion and 1,000 test subjects dying. But possibly these moronic absolutists have forgotten the idea of cost/benefit analysis or any other balancing test.

Bush has no clothes, but you'll never know reading these self-deluded wingnuts. It'd all be just kinda sad if lives and our fucking safety weren't at stake.

Spartan (Mamet) B-

In case you haven't heard, David Mamet's kind of paranoid. Everyone's playing an angle, and if you're not careful, you're bound to get it in the back. His worldview is a natural for the spy thriller, the genre of double and triple crosses. But Mamet's like the poker player who's always bluffing; when he shows his hand the only real surprise is if he's raising with a J5 suited or a 72 unsuited.

The first half of SPARTAN is compulsively watchable, as tight and taut as anything Mamet or anyone else has ever done. But as with HEIST and THE SPANISH PRISONER, the plotting becomes increasingly ridiculous as the hand is revealed, with the film relying on ever-more-absurd coincidences and 'Winstons' (plant & payoffs) that whiz by so quickly that their absurdity doesn't become apparent until (or unless) one starts to reflect on them.
Derek Luke finds the "Girl's" earring stuck to his bag? He locates Val Kilmer from the nametag of a chain, even though Kilmer's been established as a hyper-alert superagent? Said superagent finds GPS bugs in his phone, yet doesn't search his gun for the same bug? Most ridiculous of all, the old woman who holds up Kilmer is first secret service then immediately turns out to be the Girl's nanny? Get real.

Normally I wouldn't be such a stickler for superior plotting, but Mamet's recent minimalist thrillers, which deliberately reduce characters to cyphers, eliminate motivation and offer nothing but trite thematic variations on "Trust No One", give you nothing to latch on to but plot and Mametese (which I *am* a sucker for). Except for a bit of self-parody, SPARTAN's regrettably short on the latter (which Kilmer can't get down anyway). Typical line: "Where is the girl? Where *is* the girl? Where is *the* girl? *Where* is the girl? Where is the *girl*?" Sorry Dave, maybe if it made a little more sense, I might've cared more.