Friday, November 19, 2004

 

Friday Blog Blogging

A site I try to read every day is Bob Harris. (He used to contribute to Tom Tomorrow's This Modern World before recently branching out on his own.)

Excellent, funny, sharp stuff. (And I'm citing him not just for his Friday Pudu Blogging! Although they are ridiculously cute.)

Attention Iran: We Are Sneaking Up On You... Very, Very Sneakily... Look How Sneaky We Are!

Wednesday, 17 November 2004

So. This USA Today story reveals that Porter Goss and his cronies are brilliant:

CIA plans riskier, more aggressive espionage

WASHINGTON — CIA Director Porter Goss told his new chief of spy operations this week to launch a much more aggressive espionage campaign that would use undercover officers to penetrate terrorist groups and hostile governments...

The new spy bosses apparently consider this spying so important that they're leaking it to the press. In advance. So everybody knows just how big a secret it is.
The risky new strategy would be a sharp departure from the CIA's traditional style of human intelligence...Those methods don't work with terror groups...
Or with Robert Novak and someone high up in the Bush administration, who in particular have damaged the Bush administration in the past.
The new strategy is dangerous — agents could gather much better information but would run a much higher risk of being killed if found out.
And yes, this really is the very next sentence -- wait for it, then compare to the one just before:
Goss hinted at this strategy during his confirmation hearing...
Naturally. We don't want to waste any time in telling North Korea how secretly we're secretly spying on them. Secretly.

When did Porter Goss turn into Elmer Fudd?

Shhh... be vewy, vewy, quiet... we ah hunting Iwanians...
Another great site is alicublog:
Sunday, November 14, 2004
CULTURE WARS CONT. The Liberty Film Festival, a place where right-wing filmmakers can show their product and perhaps work out some deals, should be an encouraging development for those of us who believe in the marketplace of ideas. One may imagine that most Hollywood product advances a conservative agenda -- i.e., worship of money, status, and easy answers -- and still welcome the contributions of strong-minded folks who believe themselves to be advancing fresh concepts. But from this Weekly Standard account, it sounds like another Republican pity party:
LIBERALS WHO FLOCKED to see Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 report that more than the film itself, they were exhilarated by the communal experience of sitting in an auditorium filled with likeminded people who all cheered and booed at the same things. So, too, but in reverse, at the Liberty Film Festival. Attendees loudly jeered whenever a liberal icon such as Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy appeared on-screen, and they energetically applauded every on-screen Republican. "It was thrilling to be in an audience that would applaud when Ed Meese was on the screen," said Douglas Urbanski, a prominent producer and talent manager who appeared on the panel with Breitbart.

"It was very emotional. I had women coming up to me with tears in their eyes," co-organizer Murty told me. "There is an enormous public out there who feel their views have been despised, who've had their patriotism ridiculed," Murty said. "It was such a relief for everybody to have other like-minded individuals to talk to."
Poor conservatives, getting no respect from people they despise! These guys seem more interested in razzing their political opposition (two anti-Michael Moore docs played the Festival) than in actual artistic achievement. I haven't seen these movies, but even the Standard's sympathetic reporter had difficulty praising them ("As for the films themselves, they often seemed an afterthought. Many of them approached their subject-matter from an almost purely rational standpoint, trying to reason with their audience rather than to move them").

By and large conservatives seem to be falling back on their traditional strategy of harshing on works of art made by others. At OpinionJournal, Meghan Cox Gurdon decries the attitude toward abortion in the Alfie remake and in Vera Drake. Though she ends with a prayer for intercession by Mel Gibson, clearly Gurdon doesn't hold out hope for any big anti-abortion epics in the near future. She just wants us to know that our moviemakers are advancing an abortionist agenda.

It may puzzle the rational mind that anyone could believe that a nation which so recently returned right-wing Republicans to power has been brainwashed into fetuscide by a couple of low-grossing movies, but culture warriors have ever been about the counter-intuitive. At the Washington Times, the amusingly-named Christian Toto tells us that Lenny Bruce isn't funny. Now, I have not heard the recent Bruce collection that Toto claims is his only experience of the celebrated comic, and it's possible that judging Bruce by this is like judging Jimi Hendrix by "Crash Landing." And funny is more a matter of taste than just about anything else. But generally if you're going to go out on a limb and tell people that, say, Mozart isn't really so musical, you have to make some kind of case. Toto mainly says that Bruce's "references are dated" and that he was a very bad man ("an opportunist... proclaims his martyrdom, then uses it for marketing purposes"), and that Bruce reminds him of Howard Stern, whom he also dislikes. The summation is that "shock" humor will not last, etc.

One might think this is just a tin-eared review, but Toto's a credentialed culture warrior. Along with WashTimes he writes for the right-wing Insight and The World & I, where he can be seen praising events for Zell Miller and the Media Research Center (Lenny Bruce isn't funny, apparently, but Brent Bozell is a riot), the values-centered and short-lived sitcom "Kristin" ("It's a sad statement that when a sitcom character doesn't lie, cheat or engage in raucous premarital sex, she is treated like a creature from another planet"), the "Singles with Scruples" dating site, and other such approved subjects. (He does turn in some pans, e.g. of Chris Rock, whose "political rants too often skew predictably liberal and lack the incisive bite of his best commentary.") Since the days when John Podhoretz did movie reviews for WashTimes with a little meter indicating how conservatively-correct was each film on offer, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's publication axis has empowered agreeable arts critics to spread the gospel, and we may reasonably read Toto's Bruce review as part of that effort.

They run everything, but as long as someone's making fun of them, even from the grave, they will never rest.
Wish I could write (and think) like these two. Check them out.
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