Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A New Starr in the Firmament

Anthony Award Winner Jason Starr[1], master of neo-noir[2] and widely acknowledged by experts[3] as one of the coolest people on the planet, has a new website. Check it out[4]. Then check his books out. You won't regret it.

[1] By Federal Law, we lesser mortals always have to add "Anthony Award Winner" before His name.
[2] I just made that genre up. Like it?
[3] Duane Swierczynski.
[4] The management is not responsible for damages incurred by females swooning over the come-hither look Jason gives the viewer on the front page.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Oscars

I thought Jon Stewart was hilarious, no matter what some reviewers think. But it did seem as if his jabs made the audience a little uncomfortable, especially the early ones like "Usually you can't see this many celebrities in one place unless you donate to the Democratic Party! But this is an exciting night. It's the first time many of you have ever voted for a winner!" He lost the Hollywood crowd after that, and never seemed to get them back.
My favorite moment came right after the long back-patting historical montage of "socially conscious" movies, movies about racism, oppression, genocide, etc...after which Stewart came out, totally deadpan, and said "and none of those things was ever a problem again." Nervous titters from the assembled glitterati, but I was rolling on the floor laughing.
As far as the winners..well, the only nominated movie I've seen is "Walk the Line," so I'll refrain from commenting on other ones I know nothing about.
And as for the Oscar audience: Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Michael Moore Was Right (UPDATED)

Latest Newspaper Column

Michael Moore was right.

Oh, not about everything, mind you. But if you saw Moore’s controversial movie “Fahrenheit 9/11,” you know that one of the themes of the movie is how George Dubbya Bush’s ties to his big-money oil buddies in the Arab world caused him to be less than vigilant and to turn a blind eye to the support of Arab governments for terrorists.

Lo and behold, just last week, we saw Dubbya threaten to dust off his veto pen for the first time. He vowed to stop any effort to block a pending deal to let a company owned by the oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE) take over management of some of our major ports.

Of course, after a few opening skirmishes, the Bushistas leapt to the defense of their Dear Leader and the deal he supported, even as he admitted he hadn’t known anything about it till the controversy arose. Some of the arguments they’ve used are the lamest ones since — well, since the last time Bush came under fire.

First, there’s the classic accusation of bigotry: “Opposing this deal just because it’s an Arab company is racism! It’s profiling!”

There are so many things wrong with this, it’s hard to know where to start. For one thing, the concerns being expressed are not just because the DPW is “an Arab company.” It’s a state-run company, run by the government of Dubai in the loosely governed UAE. This is a concern because of the UAE’s ties to terrorism, and specifically to Osama bin Laden.

According to the report of the 9/11 Commission, a missile strike being contemplated against Osama in 1999 was nixed because he was hanging out on a hunting trip with members of UAE royalty. Money for the 9/11 strike was funneled through the UAE, and when the Treasury Department tried to trace the money after 9/11, the UAE complained about it to the White House.

In addition, the UAE was one of only three countries to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. They refuse to recognize the state of Israel. The UAE has been a key transfer point for illegal shipments of nuclear components to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

And let’s not even get started on their abysmal human rights record. It wasn’t until 2005 that they agreed to start cracking down on child slavery.

The ones equating opposition to this deal with “racial profiling” of individual Arabs apparently can’t see the difference between holding a state-run corporation accountable for the actions of that state and harassing and detaining individuals based on ethnicity. Of course this makes perfect sense to Bushistas, who believe as an article of faith that corporations should have more rights than human beings.

But oh, they say, the UAE is now an “ally” in Bush’s War on Terra. Let’s see what our Department of Justice has to say about that.

A recent report from the Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training says: “The Government of the UAE has formally stated that it will no longer provide judicial assistance in criminal matters, absent both extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties. Since March, the UAE has released seven U.S. fugitives. The UAE has not responded to a request for documentary evidence since 2003.” Some ally.*

Then there’s the “What’s the big deal?” argument. “They’re just managing the port! Homeland Security will still be responsible for port security!”

Oh, really? The people who brought us the botched Hurricane Katrina response? Boy, that makes me feel much better.

And if you don’t think that the employees of the port management company could use their access to get anybody they want to through the port and into the U.S., you are hopelessly na├»ve.

Of course, if the Bushistas can’t answer an argument, they go right to attacking the motives behind it. Thus: “You’re just against this because you liberals hate George W. Bush! Haters! Haters!”

Yeah, this is a purely partisan issue, so much so that liberal Bush haters like Tom DeLay and Trent Lott have come out against it. Conservative Congresswoman Sue Myrick of North Carolina sent a letter to Bush with one sentence: “Not just no, but HELL NO!” One of the people lining up in favor? Jimmy Carter, the only man who could persuade me to vote for Ronald Reagan.

The people defending this deal and, by extension, George Dubbya, are the perfect examples of the Cult of Bush. Commentator Glenn Greenwald put it this way: “Whether one is a “liberal” — or, for that matter, a “conservative” — is now no longer a function of one’s actual political views, but is a function purely of one’s personal loyalty to George Bush.”

It’s become clear from this that Bushistas really believe in nothing but power as embodied in the person of their Dear Leader, who can do no wrong, even if he’s selling our security to the highest bidder.

It seems, however, that the cult is dwindling in numbers and “liberals,” as defined above, are now greatly in the majority.

A recent CBS News poll showed the Dear Leader with an abysmal 34 percent approval rating. I guess 66 percent of the American people now hate America. I’d like to be the first to welcome all you newly minted “liberals” into our ranks.

Now let’s get our country back.

*The report referenced seems to have been "scrubbed" from the DOJ website since I included it in the column. Interesting.
UPDATE: Thanks to Google Cache, the purged page can still be viewed. Thanks to the commentors at Daily Kos who dug it out for me.