Thursday, February 26, 2009

The only thing missing

There is a group of filmmakers whose work I never pass up, no matter the reviews or subject: Quinton Tarantino, Spike Lee, Paul Thomas Anderson, David Cronenberg, Gus VanSandt, Oliver Stone and a few others I'm forgetting.
They make films that are engrossing on many levels, thanks to provocative camera work, interesting editing, strong performances and great dialogue. They allow supporting actors to go way over the top and get lost in the creation. They can make three hour films that aren't overly long.
However, none of them except Lee has ever made what I consider to be a masterpiece (X was just spot on). There is always something missing, or too much of something. Not enough to ruin the movie, mind you, but just enough to keep it out of that Top 10 list.
My case in point today is W., Stone's take on our 43rd president. The supporting performances are wonderfully entertaining, especially Thandie Newton's Condi Rice and Richard Dreyfuss's Dick Cheney. While Jeffrey Wright plays Colin Powell fairly straight and well, Newton, Dreyfuss, Scott Glenn (Rumsfeld) and the others make worthy choices with their characters.
Josh Brolin is terrific as W., despite a big hole in the script. He gets the mediocre nature of George W. Bush without turning him into a clown. He wants to be a great man, but even all the advantages of aristocracy can't quite put him over the top in his own mind (or his dad's). Brolin's physical manifestation is so good that you forget what the real Bush looks and sounds like.
And that hole? Bush's mean streak. Stone gives us an average guy who gets repeatedly overwhelmed. He ignores the former president's well documented pettiness and willful ignorance. This is the guy who spent over one-third of his days in power on vacation, who joked to the Gridiron Club about WMD's while snipers and suicide bombers were picking off our young men in the streets of Iraq, who let New Orleans drown for three days after Katrina, etc. None of that is reflected anywhere in the film.
This film is not as ambitious or serious as Stone's Nixon, despite some superficial similarities. Of course, Bush is not as ambitious or serious as Nixon was in real life. In Nixon, Stone gave the man a fair shake without skimping too much on the essential darkness and disconnect of the main character. And, to be fair, Nixon had a much more interesting political life than Bush.
The film was more than worth my time. And I think Stone was about three-quarters right about Bush and his flunkies. I just wish the normally provocative auteur behind JFK, Wall Street and the aforementioned Nixon would have held W.'s feet a little closer to the fire.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


This is how conservatives roll: make up outrageous shit, insist it is true and ask for money. I'm Catholic, but this is just ridiculous.

Much faster than I could ever dream

Can you believe the cable shows can find assholes brazen enough to defend this shit? Yeah, I can believe it, too.
It's sort of heartening, in a way. Republican commentators and politicians made their bones by pandering to mouthbreathers and racists for so long that they have no reasonable constituency to move on to now that supply side and peace through strength are utterly dead political positions. Their base consists almost solely of Biblical literalists, broke-ass Wall Street pretenders and those idiots who don't listen so much as wait for you to finish talking. All the crap they insisted was true has been proven wrong absolutely and unmistakably to all but a few million Sarah Palin fans.
Anyone who knows me or has read this blog knows that I am pessimistic about our immediate future. No amount of belief in Barack Obama can change the fact that our economy is steadily going away. People are realizing how derelict we've been in letting the ruling class have their way since Reagan came in power. I sense a general belief in Obama to do what he can, but there is no quick fix and we have no idea how bad or good things will be a few years from now. We are going to live week-to-week and month-to-month for a loooong time.
The only good I can see in the immediate future is the death of the national Republican Party. As much as cable pundits try to give Republicans leverage with Obama, the rest of the country has tuned them out. We've written off conservatives even faster than lefties like me thought possible. There's not going to be any "things still suck in 2010 so we'll vote Republican" swing next year. If anything, I expect even more conservatives to go down to increasing progressive Democrats at the polls in the next Congressional cycle.
Obama is not FDR and this isn't the 1930s, but that's good. FDR inherited an economy and nation capable of working and growing, but mired in ages old notions of rugged self reliance and distrust of government. Obama doesn't have as far to go as FDR did. People these days talk a good game about hating the government, but we've all seen how well it can work (Social Security, Medicare, Pell Grants, the Interstate Highway System, etc., etc., etc.).
Obama is in position to make the case that we need not inflate bubbles and overlook the general welfare to make the world safe for millionaires, that the working class is much larger than the upper class and our needs are more important than theirs. Call it class warfare if you want, but it's a fact.
I just hope the president is able to convince the public that healthcare should be a collective, not-for-profit arrangement; we could have better medical services for much less than we pay now. Forgiving student loan debts, reinstituting strict usury laws and enabling renewable, household-based energy sourcing like solar and wind are all desireable, too. Busting up factory farming and cracking down on the crap sold at supermarkets and fast food restaurants wouldn't hurt either.
We're ready to follow, I think, and Barack Obama is obviously ready to lead.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


So I did exactly Jack Shit yesterday, other than a little shopping and a lot of PS2. I monitor the day job email from home, but there was nothing much of that.
I get up today to check the work website for comments (behold, I am MODERATOR!). An aspiring young politician managed to draw some unto himself up here by getting elected to an obsolete office, then inviting local TV crews to come and watch as he asks the county's commissioners to eliminate said office.
Sounds good, right? Smart young guy gets some attention for burgeoning political career, even a five-minute interview with Shepard Smith on FoxNoise. Good ink for the local rag and its website, right?
This young Rove had a good idea and made a credible case for it to the commissioners, but all the commissioners can do is pass a resolution in support of it. The legislature must change state law for it to go into effect. My reporter, who is ridiculously good and professional, lays all of that out in the story and is promptly ignored.
What's the reaction online? He's the new Ronald Reagan! We have a new light to lead us back to 1984!
This is what passes for popular political comment today. No context whatsoever. This seemingly decent idea is seized on and magnified beyond all proportion.
That's why I don't take conservatives seriously.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


It's only Thursday to you, but it's Friday to me. I don't have to mess with the day job again until Sunday, save for a trip to a drunken afterparty for a snowmobile race to take a quick pic.
I am beat. I did news and sports (sort of) for three weeks while waiting for the new guy to show up and take over for the old sports guy. I think I spent one whole day away from the office in that span, which is pretty busy for me. The locals, as amiable as they are, were not terribly satisfied with my half-assed stab at sports. They didn't seem to care about the rest of the rag I prepared for them everyday, but that's what this business is like.
The worst part was letting things go to pot more than usual. I really, really am glad the new guy is here because I can get my work shit half way organized again. No more kicking cans down the road a-piece.
I have to say, however, that this is just about my favorite stop of my unremarkable career. The boss is wants things right, but isn't threatened when they don't go all the way right. My fellow managers are a good lot. The employees earn their money and don't bitch too much. Corporate is squeezing us hard -- shocking! I'm sure -- but nobody's throwing in the towel. There's almost no backbiting.
It's freaky, really.
Anyway, I get to goof off for most of the next 48 hours. My plan? I have no fucking idea and I couldn't be happier.

Monday, February 2, 2009

It will be okay, I promise

Before the national media went for the weekend Friday, this hopelessly vapid Greek chorus began chanting that President Obama was about to be neutered by Rush Limbaugh and his minions on Capitol Hill.
There was much hand wringing over the House Republicans refusal en masse to embrace the Democrats' $800+ billion stimulus package. Mediocrities like Ben Nelson were trotted out to reiterate how unstimulating the stimulus would be, and John McCain predictably stabbed Obama in the back the first chance he got.
Bitches, be cool. It's going to be okay. The House Republicans need votes from Limbaugh's mouth-breathing devotees, so their no vote was hardly surprising. They have no choice but to be spiteful, because they need the votes of the spiteful and ignorant. "Moderates" like Nelson are in much the same boat. The good news is that Obama has the votes in the Senate to pass his bill. He will make a few conciliatory sacrifices, in so far as he will detach them from the stimulus package and attach them to something else later.
Trust me friends: most people are as sick of assholes like Limbaugh as we are. The days of letting ignorant, hysterical crybabies have their way are over. Blaming everything on government and slashing rich people's taxes have fucked our economy royally. We can't afford it anymore and Nixon's "silent majority" knows that all too well.