Arianna’s Blog

Arianna Huffington blogs that the BushJunta are stonewalling the upcoming presidential debates. They know Chimpy is gonna get clocked. You have to wonder if they pray every night for a terrorist attack and martial law.

Arianna’s Blog
This week the Kerry/Edwards campaign agreed to the proposed schedule — and is ready to begin negotiating the finer points of format, topics, moderators, and panelists. Jordan told me the plan is to have one town hall style debate and to divide the other two debates into foreign policy and domestic policy.
The trouble is, the Bush/Cheney campaign has privately let it be known that they don’t even want to start talking about the debates until after the Republican National Convention ends on September 2nd

Obama is the man!

Well, everybody’s talking about Barack Obama’s speech at the convention tonight. It’s a great, hopeful speech, especially the “there is not a liberal America, there is not a conservative America; there is a United States of America” moment. So simple, but sounds like a ray of hope in this divided country. Here’ s a direct link to CSPAN’s Real Video file here. It lasts 18 minutes or so.
Text version here.

The Bourne Supremacy

Dir: Paul Greengrass
2004
I liked the first Bourne movie, despite not being the biggest fan of Matt Damon
(although “Gerry” was also good (and completely unseen)). This sequel hurries along at a good clip, keeps its twists and turns to a minimum, and generates enough excitement to qualify it as a decent summer movie, but the film doesn’t do as well under the director Paul Greengrass (“Bloody Sunday”). He comes from the “chased by a bear” school of action shooting (nods to Paul Tatara), and the car chase at the end is completely incomprehensible despite the hero and villain being in different makes of cars. Previous director Doug Liman knew how to move the camera through space and how to simulate weight and movement. Greengrass just shakes the camera a lot. He was hired because of his newsreel/verite style of his previous film, but placing a camera near the wheels of a car is not verite, unless you are just about to be run over.
Typically dark, blue and grey cinematography (even in the isle of Goa sequence) by Oliver Wood, which becomes quite dull to look at. Fortunately, the script isn’t too dumb, and violence comes sudden and silent. It also helps to have Julia Stiles in it, reprising her role as a CIA op, primarily because, well, I think she’s cute. Nice scarf/jacket combo, miss!

Fahrenheit 9-11

Dir: Michael Moore
2004
No, I haven’t just watched Fahrenheit 9-11.
I caught it opening weekend, and I’ve been making return visits since. Most recently, I took my dad to see it (he’s sort of a reformed centrist. When we lived in England he got the Telegraph and the Daily Mail. I’m not too sure if he realised they were Tory papers.)
It was a 1 p.m. showing on a Thursday, and the theater has about 20 people. Instead of the whooping laff-fest of opening weekend, laced with jeers and screams (the appearance of Britney Spears after the horrific Iraq footage prompted a Yamataka Eye-style evisceration from the front row), there was studied silence which later broke into laughter around the time of the “fear of terrorism” segment. And the film still earned applause at the end (which is rare when there’s few in the audience). In the lobby afterwards, one elderly lady was in tears and being comforted by her daughter. Blimey.
It’s still a powerful movie. Whether or not its main function–to toss Bush out of office–succeeds, we won’t know until November. But it also serves in other ways:
* Doing the job of what journalism used to do: making connections, pointing out hypocrisy, showing the President unedited.
* Pushing the meme of Bush’s “seven-minutes-in-a-classroom.” To many of us on the left we knew of this for a long time. But a majority of Americans didn’t, and Bush lied when he told his version of things (he was active, decisive). Watching a bit o’ CSPAN last night, I watched a voter roundtable of calmly talking Americans, all with different views, but all pretty centrist. And the “7 minutes” meme is among them, mentioned and not disputed.
* Reminding us, as documentaries have to do every now and then, that war is hell. But I would say that it’s the American public who have done the best job of telling themselves that war is not about your friend’s guts exploding everywhere but video-game point and click fun stuff. Sure, the Armed Forces ads look like promos for adventure camp (the one with jet skis is a hoot), but how stupid are you to think that’s what the army is? Isn’t this part of our culture-wide arrested adolescence, of how we’ve taken on the teenager’s faith in our own immortality?
* If not creating a new style of documentary, he’s cemented his style as a new genre. It’s not confessional, like Ross McElwee, but it is polemical, up to date (due to digital technology in editing), and appropriates the mass media to explode its methods. Oh yeh, and documentaries can be funny, too.
So far, the only fair criticism I’ve read of the facts (as opposed to Moore’s patriotism, etc. etc.) presented in the film is over at Juan Cole’s blog, in which he smooths out the rather convoluted Saudi-Bush connection. I’m glad Moore gets all this in the movie, but due to pacing, he has to compact enough info for another film into a short segment. It’s not that he plays fast and loose with the truth, but what are actually separate episodes of BushJunta awfulness (the coddling of the Taliban regime, the Karzai-Unocal pipeline connection, the Bush-Saudi conneciton, the Carlysle Group), appear in the film as a linear tale (at least when I watched it this time). And there isn’t time to sit and wonder if that actually makes sense.

Moreover, if it is true that the Saudis have so much invested in this country, then it makes no sense for wealthy Saudi entrepreneurs and governing figures to wish the US harm. Can you imagine the bath Saudi investments took here after 9/11? The Saudi royals and the Bin Ladens lounging about in places like Orlando, who were airlifted out lest they be massacred after the attacks, didn’t know anything about the apocalyptic plots hatched in dusty Qandahar, and if they had they would have blown the whistle on them with the US so as to avoid losing everything they had.
The Saudi bashing in the Moore film makes no sense. It is true that some of the hijackers were Saudis, but that is only because Bin Laden hand-picked some Saudi muscle at the last minute to help the brains of the operation, who were Egyptians, Lebanese, Yemenis, etc. Bin Laden did that deliberately, in hopes of souring US/Saudi relations so that he could the better overthrow the Saudi government.
The implication one often hears from Democrats that the US should have invaded Saudi Arabia and Pakistan after the Afghan war rather than Iraq is just another kind of warmongering and illogical. There is no evidence that either the Saudi or the Pakistani government was complicit in 9/11.

But, of course, it’s usually only “us liberals” who get our panties in a bunch over the intricacies of facts and figures. The BushJunta and their propaganda ministers over at Fox just plain out lie. (However, for a long-ass breakdown of the facts from the right, you could do worse than check out Dave Kopel’s site. See how “fair and balanced” I am? Wow. (Gun rights activist Kopel goes overboard–as is typical–and enters “Moore is a terrorist symp” territory near the end. Yeh, yeh, yeh. Okay, we get it.))
Moore has posted his own footnotes to the film over at his own site.
Finally, it is a very patriotic film, even nationalistic in its exclusion from the film anything to do with the worldwide protests or (apart from two mentions) the Blair government’s role in cooking the Iraq books. But as I said to Jessica, it’s only in America would such a film get made and released during the administration it was criticizing. When I asked her if such a film would be made in her country (revealing the nefarious dealings of Chen Shui-bein and released before his next election) she said “the filmmaker would probably be killed.” When you see the slugfests they have in Taiwan’s parliament, I have no doubt she’s right.
So cheers to Michael Moore, and here’s to sticking it to Bush.
Also, is anybody going to ever take to task the Democrat members of the Senate for not signing the Black Caucus’s complaint letter, as seen in the beginning of the film (one of the few events in the film that I didn’t know about)? How do they justify it? And how do they sleep knowing that a little bit of bravery could have saved this country from four years of savagery?

Fall of the Mountain King

How poetic. The Dems start their convention today and Bush falls off a bike.

AP Exclusive: Bush the mountain-biker rides hard, shrugs off crash: “President Bush charged up punishing climbs and down steep dirt paths on his high-performance bike Monday, at one point sailing over the handlebars and landing flat on his back.
The president dusted himself off from his fall on a treacherous descent, waved his medics away and kept rolling, a small cut on his knee and dirt on his back the only signs he had wrecked. He allowed that he was a bit shaken up. “

Wow, an “AP Exclusive.” Click on the link and read the ass-kissing reporting of Bush’s riding prowess, being compared to Lance Armstrong at one point.
Yes, but Lance Armstrong a) stayed on his bike and b) doesn’t have blood on his hands from 900 dead soldiers.

Glaringly obvious

Here are some sites that I often use, but I’ve never linked to because I assume people know them. I must have forgotten the “ass out of U and me” ur-Prince adage.
Snopes should be in everybody’s bookmarks. A one-stop-shop for Urban Legends, Snopes is up to date on the latest hoaxes. When I get a forwarded email from a friend of a friend of a friend saying “George Bush called fetuses ‘feces’ in a speech” or “Tom DeLay eats children,” I go to Snopes, no matter how much I’d like to believe it. (The latter is absolutely true, however). Snopes also tells you if something is true, with references. I then copy and paste and email the forwarder back. The madness must end!
I just started using Phil Gyford‘s revamped Internet watcher called Byliner. A simple and effective free service, it allows you to track your favorite writers across the web. Find a writer through Byliner’s search engine, subscribe, and then receive emails when that writer has posted a new piece. Obviously this works (as it was designed to) best with newspaper columnists. You can have up to 30 writers on that list.
(Update: As of 2008 Phil Gyford discontinued Byliner.)
I’m also surprised at the people who don’t know about the Internet Movie Database, even people who are obsessed with films. This has been around since the beginning of the Net (I think). Time ya got with the program.
Oh, and brand new is my friend Rachel Howard’s web page and blog. She’s come a long way since our days at the Independent, and now has a book coming out next year, as well as a steady gig as a dance reviewer. I write on dance too, but she knows far more than me. She use big words too. Ugh.

Shut Up, You Big Bully

If you think you can stomach looking at Bill O’Reilly for 30 seconds, this commercial for the new Outfoxed documentary puts ready lie to his claim that he’s only said “shut up” one in six years. How can guests restrain themselves and not slap him?
And also: to all those critics rushing in to seem “fair and balanced” by comparing Michael Moore to O’Reilly (“Moore does the same thing, but on the left!”), please look at this and tell me when, if ever, has Moore ever treated a guest or an adversary with similar venom, contempt, and hatred.
And when you’ve done that and come back with nothing, remember there’s nothing to be from sitting on the fence except a sore arse.