Saturday, December 29, 2007

Depp and Burton make a Masterpiece

Tim Burton’s latest film, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the morality play of revenge set in 19th century London, may represent a new genre of film. It contains the dark cartoonish stylings that Burton is known for, but Todd is a musical, described as a black operetta.

Accomplished actors make the film. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are outstanding actors-- as well as singers it turns out. Burton wanted actors who could sing instead of the converse and the play-turned-movie responds well to the elements of style, acting and music. The New York Times correctly calls it “a masterpiece.”

The Los Angeles Times reviewer praises the screenplay and the Stephen Sondheim soundtrack for its fidelity to the stage version. While an R-rated musical may not have broad enough appeal to be a financial success, Sweeney Todd is an excellent film. It’s different from most movies I’ve seen and perhaps the most entertaining in years.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Boom go the Kurds

Not sure what to make of this item. On the one hand the PKK is a Marxist terrorist organization that smuggles weapons and heroin and has killed thousands of civilians. On the other hand, the US has poor credibility in taking sides on such issues, has also provided weapons to specious organizations and has also killed thousands of civilians.

I do know that military incursions into the only relatively peaceful enclave in Iraq does not speak well of the supposed US diplomatic efforts to quell the mayhem in the region. The Bush administration is attempting to run out the clock on Iraq and hand it off to the next president. Scenes of Turkish war planes strafing villages with US bombs and intelligence will not play into that strategy very well.

Oh, and look for oil and gold to rise next week, especially if Putin takes this opportunity to reinvigorate Cold War tensions.

Hey, Leahy, Act Like You Have a Pair!

Maybe if Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, visualized everything coming from the White House as coming from Dick Cheney, he wouldn’t be as conciliatory. Cheney after all is the same guy who invited Leahy to have sexual relations with himself back in those heady days when the Republican Party controlled both houses of Congress.

Those days are gone, and bygones are not always meant to be bygones. If a Senate Committee Chairman had balls, he would subpoena those White House officials in connection with any one of the multitudes of alleged crimes committed. Or, if no crimes are suspected, they should all just shut up and go fuck themselves.

The fact is, the Democratic party leaders are calculating. If too much is made of the investigatory mayhem and the election year is filled with endless hearings and squabbles over executive privilege to the point of a Constitutional crisis, then the public may lose patience with the Democratic party and the sure Democratic win for president next November will be lost. The calculation is that by sitting tight and making no waves the Democrats will have both houses of Congress and the White House, and then real change can occur. To inflict the nation with divisive investigations would be counter-productive.

As Uncle Harry and Aunt Nancy calculate, the rule of law burns. Only the latest alleged travesty is the destruction of evidence in the CIA torture escapade. We know that tapes of terror suspects’ interrogations have been destroyed, and we know that the executive branch was implored by a US District judge to maintain said tapes in safekeeping as evidence for future use. The only question that remains is who destroyed the tapes and under whose order. A crime has clearly been committed, now who is to blame?

In an unbelievable request, the president has asked the Senate to stay away from the ongoing investigation by the US Attorney General Michael Mukasey (shown at left with his boss) and the CIA. This is the same president who said that anyone who had divulged the name of Valerie Plame would not be working in his White House, and then proceeded to stonewall the investigation and commute the sentence of a convicted perjurer for political reasons. This is the same White House whose officials are currently in contempt of Congress for failing to show for subpoenas in the US Attorneys firing imbroglio. The executive branch is not to be trusted with any investigation of itself, as stipulated in our Constitution.

Who gave the order to destroy the CIA interrogation tapes? If Leahy will not investigate, and the Democratic leadership does not insist on hearings, then it’s hard to support this charade called government. At some point the rule of law should take precedence over the rule of politics.

Grow some ‘nads and issue more subpoenas. It’s my government and I want to know. Now.