Thursday, March 01, 2007

Kerry Confronts His Defamers, And "The Departed": Revisited

For anyone who felt that Kerry was grossly mistreated by the so-called "Swift Boat Vets for Truth", the group that sunk the Kerry campaign in '04, then you should take a look at this clip. It's long and it doesn't really start getting fun until a few minutes in, but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Kerry's icy prosecutorial skills come out on someone who really deserves it.

The clip shows John Kerry questioning a Bush nominee for an ambassadorship on Tuesday the 27th of February. Turns out this nominee gave $50,000 to the Swift Boat group back in '04. As far as I can tell, it's the first (and likely only) opportunity Kerry has had to confront one of these guys. True, this dumb schmuck wasn't the one doing the slandering, but he helped finance it, which is pretty bad. What's best about the clip is that the guy is just as craven and mealy-mouthed as you'd expect a Bushie Republican hack financier to be. He calls Kerry a "hero" to his face, but when asked if he would condemn the Swift Boaters who called that heroism into question, he demures and says that kind of tactic was necessary, because "the other side was doing it, too." He also can't recall actually giving the Swifties the $50,000. "When asked for money," he says, "I usually just give." Seriously.


He cites the "Bush is Hitler" ad that a member created and which MoveOn posted up on its site as an example of the terrible negative stuff "the other side" was doing in the '04 election. That's really the best this guy can come up with. A stupid user-created ad that MoveOn pulled off their site within hours of it going up. I'm sure it put a lot of people firmly in the Kerry camp. Anyway. It's a wonder Kerry didn't so much as raise his voice at the guy.

On a slightly related note, Bill Kristol, oh he of odious Neocon fame, has been railing against HuffingtonPost recently. Not because of anything the site itself posted, but rather because of things the readers posted up in the comments section. When Vice-President Cheney was supposedly the target of a suicide bomber in Afghanistan the other day, some readers chimed in with their sincere and inarticulately-worded regret that the bomber hadn't been successful. (I didn't actually read the comments on political blogs. Who does? So many whackos.) So Kristol blasts Huffingtonpost based on these comments, in effect characterizing Arianna Huffington as a leader of the pro-assassination left. Does it get any more intellectually dishonest? I wonder what we'd find if we trolled some of the comments on the righty blogs? My guess is I'd find as much illiterate vitriol there as anywhere. Andrew Sullivan has a moderate conservative's take on it here. Ugh. I used to think Kristol was a conservative in the David Brooks mold, that is a fairly reasonable person, but Iraq and his unceasing warmongering ever since we went in have put him squarely into the dangerously delusional knee-jerk Coulterian whacko stratosphere.

Anyway. Watched "The Departed" again yesterday. [I'm going to talk about this movie as if everyone's seen it, so alert: SPOILERS AHEAD!]

Just amazing. Every scene is so smart and thought-out and inventive. I forgot how often Scorsese played with the score (or the "scorce" as David McHugh called it). Some Irish song would be going full blast and then Matt Damon starts dialing his cell phone and the song cuts out like Thelma hit the Stop button on the CD player. It's as if, every now and again, Scorsese wants to remind you that these people are actors and the story is made-up -- in other words, he wants to remind you you're watching a movie. One of the few guys making movies who'll take little risks like that, just to see how they'll go. One thing I appreciated more on the second go-round was how artfully Monahan and Scorsese set up Sheen's character as a kindly paternal anchoring presence in the film - they do it to a.) balance out Mark Wahlberg's abrasive character, but mostly to b.) make his death really sting. In a way Sheen's death echoes Gandalf's "death" in the first "Lord of the Rings" movie. In each case the death of the kindly, powerful, knowledgeable character that everyone really liked makes the audience feel acutely how solitary the path is the hero has to take for the duration of the film. An excellent device and a great script. Of the nominees I'd say Monahan absolutely deserved Best Screenplay and Scorsese deserved Best Director for that movie. Good stuff. (Though watching it again I see a little more clearly the things that irked me about Nicholson's performance. The rat-pantomiming thing he does in the last bar scene, for example. I wish Scorsese had done a few more takes here and there, or at least used less over-the-top, hammy takes in the finished film. Ah well. Nothing's perfect.)


harwell said...

Yeah, Bill Kristol's kind of a tool. I give him credit for always going on the Daily Show, but that's about it. Getting upset over some blog comments made wishing Cheney had been killed is ridiculous. Remember when Bill Clinton had the emergency heart surgery a few years back? I was in Cincinnati at the time and the next day at work I overheard two co-workers laughing about how they didn't feel sorry for Bill at all. This didn't surprise me coming from two staunch Conservatives, but these two were also proud (and I mean PROUD) evangelical Christians. That kind of hypocrisy never gets old, I suppose.

Speaking of hypocrisy, how about McCain going on Letterman and saying that the management of the war in Iraq had "wasted" American lives? Nice one, buddy. Glad you feel that way. Now if only you could explain why you then think it's a good idea to send more troops to Iraq to be "wasted" and why you continue to support the reason we're there in the first place, I'll stop punching myself in the balls. Because otherwise I'm losing my mind trying to make sense of you, McCain.

Gretchen said...

One of the girls I worked with borrowed The Departed over the weekend. She, like Dr. Joe, was unable to sit through it. Her reasoning, however was that she "just couldn't get into it". What? She's not insane like Dr. Joe, just guilty of bad taste (she couldn't wait to go see Norbit). There's no accounting for taste.
And, out of curiosity, how close does Silence come to perfect in your estimation?

blankfist said...

Crane, your blog needs to be more like this one. I mean, yeah, politics and movies and the occassional drawing found in your closet is cool and all, but printable cold sores for subway advertisements is webtastic gold!

JudgeHolden said...

It's just awful to watch McCain tapdance these days. Can he simultaneously believe that if we leave before the time's right we'll be leaving a haven for terrorists and also believe that the lives of U.S. soldiers who die keeping order are "wasted"? It could be misspeaking, but I think that 9 times out of 10, hearing what the real McCain thinks rather than what Repub.-nomination-McCain thinks would be refreshing, and I don't think we're getting it. Once these three (McCain, Giuliani, Romney) get a full viewing from the constituency, I think the Republican base is going to say, "Wait! This is it?" I think their emergency candidate could be Jeb, just like ours is Gore. But the more Obama talks, the more impressive he gets.

Yeah, Gretchen, that is weird. There aren't many movies that are easier to get into than "The Departed". Who doesn't want to see what Jack Nicholson's up to? As for "Silence", I'd say it comes damn close to being a perfect film. I'm trying to think right now of little things I don't like about it, but I can't think of a single thing. I think the little quibbles I might have once had about the movie have since become essential to its success -- for instance, even though it doesn't make sense that Lecter created that ornate tableau with the body of the prison guard in Tennessee, I can't imagine something more realistic but subdued in its place; it wouldn't have the same impact. So it's hard to tell where affection ends and hard-eyed admiration begins anymore, but there it is.

And the cold sore decal thing is kind of a good idea. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go pull more drawings out of my closet. (By the way, Heath, have you started leaning towards any candidate yet?)

blankfist said...

George Phillies.

Anonymous said...

First off - Bill Kristol is a new type of fascist. Pure and simple. The guy is a Straussian and a danger to our constitution and country.

Second - McCain is trying to woo the evangelical base - without them he will not win. The Evangelicals aren't buying it and won't vote for him - unless he runs against Hillary - as everyone from David Geffen to Pat Buchanon despise her. Why? Because she is a warmonger and supposedly stands for liberal social values.

Third - Obama is a centrist - but he is full of hot air. He doesn't stand for anything and in his book spews that he is a passive admirer of Ronald Reagan!!!! Sorry - Barack is a conservative (more so than Clinton was). He will not get my vote and he is not a true liberal anyway. I don't understand why everyone is falling for his Bullshit! Especially smart liberals who should know better? Is the appeal because of his skin tone?

Fourth - Obama, Edwards, Biden, Clinton - not much in terms of Leadership from the Dems either. Not to mention - the Dems haven't shown the temerity to cut funding for Iraq, have meetings to repeal the tax cuts, Patriot Act and every other piece of illegal legislation those fascists in office have passed.

Unfortunately, it takes guys like Pat Leahy, Ted Kennedy, Bernie Sanders, Barbara Boxer, etc. to do all the dirty work while the candidates pretend they are STRONG on foreign policy. Which means - invade Iran.

its just business as usual.

And as for THE DEPARTED. Sorry, I saw Pan's Labyrinth last night and felt that this was even far superior to Marty's greatest hits packaged in one film.

Best movies of the year?

Children of Men (UK/US Co-production) film
The Lives of Others (German film)
Pan's Labyrinth (Mexican/Spanish Co-production).

Most over-rated:

The Departed
The Queen (Helen Mirren was superb though)
Little Miss Sunshine

Just shit


Movies want to see:

Great World of Sound
Snow Angels

- Papa

blankfist said...


JudgeHolden said...

Hey Paul -- glad you got a chance to see "Pan's Labyrinth". I wondered what you thought of a particular scene in the film that I had a big problem with. The scene is this: the little girl is doing one of her three tasks, and she's gone into the hall where the eyeless thing is and the only thing she has to be sure she doesn't do is eat something off the table. Were you frustrated at all when she, apropo of nothing, takes a grape and eats it right there at the table with the horrible monster sitting right there, preternaturally still? I know that's a loaded way to ask the question, but I wonder what your take was on that scene. For me, it seemed to signify that either Del Toro was just being lazy and didn't really care about the script, or that because it was a children's fable, he didn't think it mattered if a character did something irrational and out of character with zero motivation; either option would seem to point to an unserious filmmaker. In terms of overhyped, I'd definitely put "Pan's" in that category. But I'm with you big time on "Children of Men". That was some great moviemaking.

As for your items on the democratic candidates for president, I think you and I have a similar frustration with them because you can see that they're all looking ahead to the general election as well as the primary, and so their remarks are all tempered by not wanting to give the other side anything they can use to bludgeon them with later. They come off as a little namby-pamby. Obama looks better each day, but his whole appeal is that he's a uniter -- which, by definition, he'll bring those on the right and the left closer to some unspecified "center". That's no good to me. I think we'd do best with a candidate that will enact solid, left-thinking domestic policy (politely but firmly) and by doing so bring the right to the left and leave us lefties right where we are: on the correct side of the political spectrum. If a president was able to enact progressive policies and make them work (universal health care, smart foreign policy, abortion rights, strong civil rights protection, no torture), I think the country would come to their senses a little and move leftward together, like we did under FDR. That's the dream anyway. The only question with Obama, (and it may really be the ONLY question with him), is whether he's going to give away the store to the republicans like Clinton did, in the name of centrism, or if he's going to be a true progressive leader and put the US back on the path we were headed down before the Supreme Court selected Bush. Right now, without Gore in the race, I think he may be our best shot. I already get the sense that Hillary will say whatever she has to to get elected, and will then do whatever she has to to remain in office for a second term. Not to mention the fact that she's still an unappealing candidate. I thought her speaking voice was like nails on a chalkboard at the 04 Dem convention -- hearing her speak now she's turned down the volume a little, but her delivery is still tone deaf. She isn't a quarter the communicator her husband was. Edwards still strikes me as a lightweight. I'm really not sure what he could do to change my mind.

And, on a sidenote, why does every "serious" political candidate have to have a sprawling mansion somewhere? Gore, Edwards, Kerry -- who was the last guy to get into office who lived in a split-level in a middle class neighborhood? Clinton? Where does Obama live in Chicago? An apartment in the city or a nice house? It seems to say that if you haven't found a way to make a fortune or you weren't blessed with an inheritance, you're not fit for high office, and I think that's a shitty message. Or maybe it just indicates that ambitious workaholics are the only people who even want the job, and ambitious workaholics often find ways to make loads of cash. I don't know. But the fact that Edwards is building a disgustingly huge mansion in the NC countryside is just kind of off-putting to me -- probably one of the reasons he's not connecting with me. His needlessly large house flies in the face of his whole "Two Americas" schtick. At least with Gore the wealth and the house is inherited -- to sell the Gore estate and live modestly would make him look like a poseur. Anyway.

Also: you heap a lot of scorn on Pelosi and the Democrats in Congress for not doing more with Congressional power. I think they're right (for the moment), not to cut funding for the war. The Republican Noise Machine would have such an easy time of using a funding cut to paint all Dems as yellow troop-haters in '08. At this point, even more important than ending this war is putting a Dem in the White House in 08. Besides, why give them that cudgel when it won't have any practical effect? Bush is just going to veto the damn thing, and the Dem majorities aren't big enough for a veto override. They've been smart by hanging this war on Republican necks in other ways. Make Bush own it and then make the Republicans defend it. Murtha's proposal to force Bush to certify that all troops going to Iraq are trained and equipped will work brilliantly is passed. (Though it probably won't). Bush'll certify them whether they are or not, the press will discover that they are, of course, NOT trained or equipped, thus unworthy of the Bush certification, and Bush looks even worse (and the Walter Reed scandal does a pretty good job of that) and the momentum to put a Dem in the White House gets all the more push. I know that all sounds purely political and divorced from the awful realities of the war, but quite practically, the Congress is powerless. They have so given away their constitutional powers over the decades since WWII that the public no longer perceives them to have war powers. They don't WANT Congress to have war powers. The Executive under Bush is so powerful now that even if the Congress defunded the war, Bush would find a "workaround". I think defunding the war is the right way to go, but Pelosi and the Gang have thought this through -- you have to acclimate the public to the idea slowly so as they don't reject it out of hand. The public doesn't know they want it yet, but they do, and when the time comes, they'll support it and the Republicans won't have that cudgel the Dems are all afraid of because the public will have fallen in step with the Dems on the issue. I think the Dem congress is doing, on the whole, just fine. (Though Harry Reid's inexplicable support of a democratic debate on the Fox News channel has the base mystified. I think he's fucking up there.)

And Heath: George Phillies? If you're serious, then you have truly taken the Libertarian bus to Irrelevant Town. Come on back, Heath. Be a Libertarian Dem -- you wouldn't be the only one.

Anonymous said...

As for Pan's L - I felt that scene as inevitable - that the feast was set up as a kind of Siren's call - a lure so to speak placed by the beast. If anything - I really wanted to see this monster in action, so I really wanted her to eat the grape or something for that matter and I wasn't let down -that was strangely creepy.

However, I felt that the juxtaposition between fantasy and reality was not too far removed as her fantasy world was even darker and scarier than the fascist fueled universe above.

Maybe it would have worked or played better had the fantasy universe been a bit more magnificent or ethereal or possibly more defined - like say an Alice in Wonderland kind of manner.

That way, you would what was really driving her to complete these tasks. This would be her escape from an evil man and a world that doesn't care for imagination or children for that matter (unless they are sons).

Not until the end - the last shot where she is alone talking to herself - that we realize that this is all a figment of her imagination - and that her death is emancipatory - because she returns to the underworld as the princess - as projected as day dreamed.

Take that away and this is a very horrific, violent war movie about the late stages of the Spanish Civil War with a leftist angle to it - as the guerillas are treated as heros in the film and the main star is Mercedes the worker for the Captain. Her performance is amazing and warranted a Nomination at least. I loved the themes and glad this film received such notoriety.

Moreover, the nuisance regarding the Fascist temperament where in full force here - including the striking similarities between our own quagmires today (regarding torture and wars of idealogy).

Del Tormo is an anti-fascist and I adore his politics. I hope he keeps defying H-Shit and subversively keeps making these movies.

Now, I will see HellBoy!

blankfist said...

What do you mean 'come back'? I was never aligned with the Dems. What does Libertarian Dem mean, anyways? Who do the Dems have that's holding closely to the ideas of the Libertarians? You know what I see? I see the typical scared response, where Repubs and Dems slight the ideas of Libertarians in the hopes they'll side with them in the hopes they can browbeat yet another independent into voting for the two pary system. I think your party and the conservative party (you know, the GREATER of the two evils) have stayed way past their due. It's time for a marching song. One that will lift us past all the bi-partisan dreck. Juelz Santana comes to mind with his marching song entitled Monster Music:

"big lobsters ,big fish in here
big mobsters , big fish(made man in mafia) in here
yea get your fish(your girlfriend) in gear
get your aunt, get your uncle
get your moms into it
this is lovely noise,
this is club poppin'"

Yeah, I think that's adequate 'marching music', no? Not really all that profound, but still... if you heard the song, you'd at least bob your head to it.

blankfist said...

Added Monster Music:

This is monster music
This is country music
This is arms out
Bombs out, bombing music
This is launching music
This embalming fluid,
Everybody get the %@&* up
Get to stomping to it

I really would love to see a candidate march out to this song! How dope would that be?! Dipset let's get it on!