Posts from June 25, 2004

Just got off CNN Newsnight

Just got off CNN Newsnight with Jeff Greenfield and Aaron Brown and the, uh, charming email is starting already. Blogging from the cab. More later…

If you came in from CNN, here’s a link to the review that got me there.

It’s late. Good night.

More Moore

More Moore

: As of now (and this could change), I’ll be on CNN with Aaron Brown tonight between 10 and 11 ET to talk about Fahrenheit 9/11.

: Last night, I watched the Independent Film Channel, which aired Moore’s press conference in Cannes after he won the big enchildada there and it was incredibly boring: a guy drones his opinions for a half-hour; it was like being stuck in an elevator with him.

But I kept watching as they aired The Big One, Moore’s film after Roger & Me, because I wanted to see whether he had changed or I had. I used to enjoy Moore; I clearly don’t now. Well, I’m sure we’ve both changed: I’m skinnier and the beard’s whiter; he’s bigger and the beard’s scruffier.

But Moore has lost something: Call it his light touch (I said his light touch, light for him) or call it his sense of humor, he used to make his point by making fun. He poked at the powerful to bring them down to earth. He laughed.

Now he’s still poking fun but in the immortal words of Billy Crystal, it’s not fun, it’s not funny. He’s deadly serious. He’s downright rabid. And that makes him harder to take; don’t you always want to back away from somebody who’s seething at you? It also makes his role as a filmmaker and political activist different: He’s no longer just ridiculing the powerful; he’s no longer turning them into punchlines; he’s now trying to convince us that these particular powerful people — Bush et al — are evil, venal, corrupt, incompetent co-conspirators out to ruin our world. If you’re going to try to convince us of that, then you have a different obligation of fact and argument than if you’re just trying to make fun of somebody. You should give us legitimate facts and arm us with arguments by showing both sides of an issue and beating down the other side. If you don’t do that, you’re only shrieking. You’re weakening your own argument by ignoring the other side. You’re insulting the intelligence of your audience by not giving them both sides. You’re just seething. That’s what Moore is like now. He wants to convince us he’s telling the truth but he’s afraid to tell the whole truth.

: By the way, Mike’s Blog is coming soon! Hoo boy!

: UPDATE: A commenter says I was wrong in part of this post about the first day’s take and the number of screens it appeared on in two NY theaters; couldn’t confirm either way and I’m headed out and so I killed that part of the post.

Cynical tax cuts

Cynical tax cuts

: George Bush (following in the footsteps of Reaganomics) made a politically cynical tax cut when he came into office, cutting taxes but not cutting spending and instead borrowing so he could cut those taxes. He gave away money to voters, money he didn’t have. He borrowed money from our children to pay us to curry favor with us. That is political cynicism at its worst; it’s one of my big problems with Bush.

Now Democratic New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey has made an equally cynical act but with a uniquely Democratic twist. In the state budget just approved, McGreevey lowered taxes by raising taxes. He is taxing income over $500,000 at a new and high rate to give property tax relief to people who make under $200,000 and it has been acknowledged that he can do that because there are only X thousand people in that high income bracket and, hell, none of them probably voted for McGreevey anyway. He also raised taxes on property sales so anyone in the state who is trying to use the money made in a home as a nest egg or as payment on the next home now has to pay the state on the way.

If either manager had cut spending to cut taxes, fine. That’s good management. Government, just like industry, needs restructuring. But neither did that. Bush stole from our children and McGreevey stole from the state’s most successful to give money and buy votes. That’s bad management. That’s political cynicism.

The Daily Stern: F the VP

The Daily Stern: F the VP

: The irony is so neon-garish it’s not even irony. It’s just stupid:

On the very day the Senate sneaks its indecent indecency bill through, the President of the Senate — aka Vice President Dick Cheney — spews the F word to a fellow senator.

Now I have no problem with him spewing the F word. Spew it myself. Often. But on this very day, the Senate decided that if you or I spew that word on broadcast, we can be fined up to $3 million a day because the F word, says the gospel according to the FCC, is profane.

Sounds like political speech to me.

: Note that the Washington Post actually printed the word. And the republic did not collapse.

The New York Times, on the other hand, got prissy about it.

At that point, the aides said, the vice president turned and stalked away, using an obscene phrase to describe what he thought Mr. Leahy should do.

Just whom are they protecting? The vice president said it on the the floor of the U.S. Senate and the word is newsworthy because the Senate just chose to chill such speech by the people on the people’s airwaves. The word is news. He said fuck, folks.

The death of perspective

The death of perspective

: German media are comparing Abu Ghraib to — yes, I’m actually going to say this — Auschwitz.

We expected it. We knew it would come. Only the when and where were in doubt. The German media are drawing parallels among the American soldiers