Saturday, October 03, 2009

Moby: "Pale Horses"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I love Moby. I really do. I used to be into the whole ambient electronica thing, and I still am, sort of, but Moby, of course, is one artist who can't be labelled quite so easily. It's techno, it's pop, it's rock, it's... well, you know, it's whatever Moby wants it to be.

Play remains for me a seminal album, a defining album of a certain time in my life, a musical trip. 18 is also very good, as are Hotel, if somewhat meandering, and Last Night, a fascinating tour through the New York musical (club) scene, if, like Hotel, disappointing in terms of sales. (These are only his most recent albums. He did much more before Play turned him into a mainstream success, and much of his early, distinctly less commercial, music is wonderful, too.)

But Wait for Me... oh, yes. I downloaded it shortly after its release and remember vividly what I thought -- and felt -- upon first listening to it. A brilliant, mesmerizing masterpiece, perhaps the most thematically coherent work of Moby's career, it's one of those albums you just lose yourself in, an album that continues to reward with each listening. I feel it through my entire body, and it reaches into my soul. I can't even explain why. It just does. I find it deeply moving, and it takes me -- like some of Play and 18 -- to an astonishing emotional depth, a place where I am, and am compelled to be, open with myself about myself in a genuinely meaningful way.

Here is the video for "Pale Horses," one of the stand-out tracks (and there are many of them) on Wait for Me -- a beautiful video for a beautiful piece of music:


Bookmark and Share


By Michael J.W. Stickings

I first came across Fontaine Weyman, who goes by "Fontaine," at Radio Paradise, oh, a couple of years ago. It was her song "Running on Empty," from her debut album The Chemistry Between Us, and it was wonderful, a combination, I thought, of Mazzy Star and the Cowboy Junkies, and I became an instant fan. I couldn't find The Chemistry Between Us anywhere, though I didn't look all that hard (I'm sure I could have ordered it), but now, at long last, I found it, along with her second album, Beautiful Thing, released earlier this year, at iTunes, and it has been in heavy rotation on my iPod.

She's a lovely songwriter, with astonishing depth to her music. Her music is slow, and moody, and evocative. She was born in France but grew up in South Carolina (she's now based in L.A.), and there's a haunting, if thankfully not overpowering, southern lilt to her intoxicating, comforting voice, a pleasantly rich and sultry tone. And there is an admirable honesty about her, I find. Her lyrics don't break any new ground, but she sings with soul, and conviction -- again, much like Margo Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies -- and she is, unfailingly, genre-denying, a fusion, of sorts, of alt-country indie folk roots.

She isn't all that well-known, alas, but deserves to be, and I highly recommend that you check out either or both of her albums. As a taste, here's the video for "Paris, Texas," off The Chemistry Between Us. Enjoy.


Bookmark and Share

Friday, October 02, 2009

Unemployment at 9.8%

By Creature

Buy, hey, Wall Street's doing fine so who gives a crap.


Bookmark and Share

Is John Boehner an ignorant fool or a liar (or both)?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

He's our Craziest Republican of the Day for saying this:

I'm still trying to find the first American to talk to who's in favor of the public option, other than a member of Congress or the administration... I've not talked to one and I get to a lot of places... This is about as unpopular as a garlic milkshake.

Of course, polls show solid support for a public option -- remember, it would be an option, not a nationalized health-care system, and it's choice that people want.

But, really, Boner hasn't met a single person beyond the Beltway who supports it? I get that political speech is often hyperbolic, but this is either an out-and-out lie or a statement only a totally ignorant fool could make.

He's the Republican leader in the House, for fuck's sake. Someone needs to introduce him to reality, though I suspect that he's surrounded by a similarly delusional, and similarly dishonest, echo chamber of head-bobbing insanity.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Long live the public option! (revisted)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Allow me to post Kevin Drum's Chart of the Day:

And here's Kevin's take:

In case you missed it, Jon Stewart had a good riff on this [the other] night. His question: Why are Democrats so lame? It's a good one! They have a huge majority in the Senate, the public is strongly in favor of a public option, and yet... for some reason they can't round up the votes to pass it. Hell, they can't even round up a normal majority to pass it out of the Finance Committee, let alone a supermajority to overcome an eventual filibuster.

If Democrats really do lose the House next year..., this will be why. If they don't pass a healthcare bill at all, they'll be viewed as terminally lame. If they pass a bill, but it doesn't contain popular features that people want — like the public option — they'll be viewed as terminally lame. At a wonk level, a bill without a public option can be perfectly good. But wonks aren't a large voting bloc, and among people who do vote, the public option is very popular. So, um, why not pass it?

Exactly. (I don't think that a bill without a public option can be perfectly good, but I take the point.) There's no excuse.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Chicago Loses Bid for 2016 Olympics

By Creature

And the shame and failure brought upon the nation by President Obama for having tried and failed will cripple his presidency. Or something.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Common decency and the rule of law v. Roman Polanski and the Hollywood elite

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I think Ed Morrissey is right, more or less, that a "Left-Right consensus" is "building on Polanski." I say more or less because I think that formulation oversimplifies the situation somewhat. It isn't so much that both liberals and conservatives are coming out against Polanski and his apologists, it's that pretty much everyone with a modicum of common decency and respect for the rule of law thinks that Polanski ought to get what he deserves, which is, in some form, punishment for his crime. (Still, make sure to read Ed's post in full. It is typically insightful.)


As for Polanski's apologists, check out Katha Pollitt's fine piece at The Nation, which includes:

If a rapist escapes justice for long enough, should the world hand him a get-out-of-jail-free card? If you're Roman Polanski, world-famous director, a lot of famous and gifted people think the answer is yes.


Fact: What happened was not some gray, vague he said/she said Katie-Roiphe-style "bad sex." A 43-year-old man got a 13-year-old girl alone, got her drunk, gave her a quaalude, and, after checking the date of her period, anally raped her, twice, while she protested; she submitted, she told the grand jury "because I was afraid."


Fact: In February 2008, LA Superior Court Judge Peter Espinosa ruled that Polanski can challenge his conviction. All he has to do is come to the United States and subject himself to the rule of law. Why is that unfair? Were he not a world-famous director with boatloads of powerful friends, but just a regular convicted sex criminal who had fled abroad, would anyone think it was asking too much that he should go through the same formal process as anyone else?


The widespread support for Polanski shows the liberal cultural elite at its preening, fatuous worst. They may make great movies, write great books, and design beautiful things, they may have lots of noble humanitarian ideas and care, in the abstract, about all the right principles: equality under the law, for example. But in this case, they're just the white culture-class counterpart of hip-hop fans who stood by R. Kelly and Chris Brown and of sports fans who automatically support their favorite athletes when they're accused of beating their wives and raping hotel workers.

Yes, it has taken Roman Polanski, a 30-year-old sex crime case, and a bunch of "preening, fatuous" Hollywood types to bring not just right (Morrissey) and left (Pollitt) together, but to unite Americans, and people around the world, in common cause.

Don't get me wrong, Polanski has his supporters beyond the circle of his cinematic pals (many of whom I admire as artists), but, increasingly, as the facts, many of them long forgotten, emerge once more into public view, for all to judge, most of the rest of us are just disgusted, and are demanding justice.


Mr. Polanski, come back to America, and defend yourself. If you were wronged, prove it. I, for one, will surely have an open mind. But if you weren't, and you really did what you are alleged to have done, and for which you were convicted, then challenge whatever you like in a court of law and, ultimately, accept responsibility for your crime.


See my previous posts on the Polanski saga:

-- The truth about Roman Polanski;

-- Defending Polanski; or, how the Hollywood left has completely lost its marbles; and

-- Polanski, the French, and the backlash against the rape apologists.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Mandate with a public option, please

By Creature

Senate Majority Leader Olympia Snowe:

“The obligation should be first and foremost on the United States government to ensure that these plans will be affordable in the marketplace,” Ms. Snowe said. “It surprises me that we would have these high-level penalties on the average American when we have no certainty about whether or not these plans will be affordable. I just don’t understand why there’s this impetus to punish people.

Snowe wants certainty on affordability, yet voted against a public option that would surely guarantee exactly that. Head meet wall. Repeat.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share


By Mustang Bobby.

David Brooks laments that Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are getting all the attention as the voices of the conservatives.

The Republican Party is unpopular because it’s more interested in pleasing Rush’s ghosts than actual people. The party is leaderless right now because nobody has the guts to step outside the rigid parameters enforced by the radio jocks and create a new party identity. The party is losing because it has adopted a radio entertainer’s niche-building strategy, while abandoning the politician’s coalition-building strategy.

The rise of Beck, Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and the rest has correlated almost perfectly with the decline of the G.O.P. But it’s not because the talk jocks have real power. It’s because they have illusory power, because Republicans hear the media mythology and fall for it every time.

As fond of history that Mr. Brooks is, I'm a bit surprised that he traces the death grip of talk jocks on the Republicans only back to the beginning of the last election cycle. It goes a lot further back than that; the recent cycle is only the latest example of fools rushing in to fill the leadership void on the right, going back to the end of the Reagan administration and their desperate search for someone as dominating, uniting, and mythical as Mr. Reagan was. Like him or not, he was the last real leader from the Right, and everyone who has tried to take the role -- Newt Gingrich, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney, just to name a few -- has either fallen short or ended up doing more harm than good to their cause. But it's hard to replace a legend. (By the way, the Democrats haven't been immune to this, either; they spent a lot of losing election cycles searching for the next FDR or JFK.)

The problem for the Republicans and the conservatives is that they have cultivated and encouraged these kinds of stark gloom-and-doom oh-god-we're-all-gonna-die prophets, and their political philosophy has played into it: they are so convinced of their bumper-sticker ("Abortion Is Murder", "Where's the Birth Certificate?", "God Created Adam and Eve, Not Adam and Steve") rightness that anyone who doubts them is suspected of treason or insanity. The liberals have their own hard-core, but they have never had as much power over their side; progressives are much more prone to compromise (or caving) than conservatives. Thus we have Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh on the radio 24/7, while the Left has a rumpled Michael Moore coming along every three years with a documentary. (This has historical antecedents; in the 1930's the right wing had Father Coughlin while the left countered with Upton Sinclair. Guess who got more attention.) It isn't the message so much as it is the delivery. As Matthew Yglesias points out, the reason Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) got so much attention for his "Die Quickly!" speech on the floor of the House was because he stole the Republicans' playbook.

Just because someone like Rush Limbaugh is capable of making a lot of noise doesn't mean he can make a difference or sway the electorate. If you are going to turn politics into entertainment, you have to understand that show business may obsess about ratings and box office take, but you should never mistake them as affirming for intellect or art. Hollywood makes blockbusters like Transformers so that they can also make Julie & Julia, but they don't confuse the one with the other. (Were that not the case, Police Academy would have walked away with thirteen Oscars and Schindler's List would never have been made.) It's a lesson that seems to be lost on the conservatives. Steven F. Hayward, author of The Age of Reagan, worries that the intellectuals have left the party, leaving the birthers in charge and Glenn Beck in place of William F. Buckley.

Okay, so Beck may lack Buckley's urbanity, and his show will never be confused with "Firing Line." But he's on to something with his interest in serious analysis of liberalism's patrimony. The left is enraged with Beck's scandal-mongering over Van Jones and ACORN, but they have no idea that he poses a much bigger threat than that. If more conservative talkers took up the theme of challenging liberalism's bedrock assumptions the way Beck does from time to time, liberals would have to defend their problematic premises more often.

As long as Glenn Beck continues to misspell words like "oligarchy" and holds up a tin of snuff to make a point about the president promoting the Chicago Olympics, I don't think the liberals have a lot to worry about in terms of defending their premises, problematic or not. That's too bad; ideas and intellect flourish in a challenging environment. But as the saying goes, it's useless to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Long live the public option!

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Sen. Tom Harkin: "We will have a bill on the president's desk before Christmas, a health-reform bill. It will have a lot of good stuff in it. It will have a lot of prevention and wellness programs in there that I've been fighting for. And it will have a public option... The question of if it doesn't isn't even an option."

Plus, Republicans won't be involved in putting a bill together: "This will be a proposal by the Democrats to bring a bill on the floor. And that's what I have said before, that the people of this country... pretty overwhelmingly elected Barack Obama last fall and to make changes. The people of this country overwhelmingly elected Democrats to the House and Senate... We should be proposing the changes to be made."


Sen. Harry Reid: "We are going to have a public option before this bill goes to the president's desk... believe the public option is so vitally important to create a level playing field and prevent the insurance companies from taking advantage of us."

The two comments sound very much the same, suggesting that both Harkin and Reid were uttering talking points. Still, this is a very promising development. As many of us have been saying for a long time, Republicans had their chance. Obama reached to them, as did Senate Democrats. And how did they respond? With obstructionism or outright opposition, because they have no interest in reform and are trying to block it no matter what. And so, of course, it makes sense for Democrats now to go it alone, with or without the few remaining Republican centrists.

It sounds to me, though, like there is now a firm commitment to including a public option in whatever bill goes to the floor. There's really no way Democrats can back away from it now -- their own leader, Reid, has committed to it. But will the bill that ultimately emerges from Congress include a public option? Well, that's the key question. And it's still not clear what the answer is. I certainly hope Harkin is right.

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, October 01, 2009

More puny poutrage

By Carl

Glenn Beck ought to try poutine.
It might make his memory better:

Last night Fox News continued its disregard for the facts in an attempt to smear the Administration's efforts to win the Olympics for the United States. In the past, hosting the Olympics has been a source of pride and unity for the country, but once again Fox News' Glenn Beck program has shown that nothing is worthy of respect if it can be used as part of a partisan attack to boost ratings.

At the White House blog, there is a list of misstatements and outright lies Beck told just Tuesday night.

Let me add one more: Beck, aided and feloniously abetted by the rest of the rubber-lipped goon squad (e.g., Michelle Malkin, among others), has been outraged that Barack Obama would go to Copenhagen to make the case for the Olympics to come to Chicago, his hometown.

Yet, strangely silent he was when
George W. Bush was vacationing in Crawford, TX (I hesitate to say he was ranching) in August 2005 when Katrina hit and 250,000 people were stranded for days without adequate food, water, or shelter.

Even more strange, he had nothing to say about Bush's extended vacation in the summer of 2001, when he was shown a PDB warning that Al Qaeda was imminently to attack Americans on American soil, likely using commercial aircraft.

Indeed, he came to church on Bush in the last few months of the Bush term, finally speaking out against the massive bank bailout...
which he supported just days earlier!

The sense I get from the right wing this month is, they've lost the battle on healthcare reform, lost the battle on economic stimulus, lost the battle on government aid for banks and the auto industry, and are faced with having to find some way to attack what appears to be a rock-solid wall around the Obama castle.

By flinging mud, or worse.

And when you fling mud, two things happen to a large wall:

1) Nothing.

2) It back-splatters back all over you.

The past few years have seen the decline of the heavyweights of right-wing punditry: Rush Limbaugh was shown to be a power-craved madman who would tear apart the GOP for his own ego. He was quickly muted. Ann Coulter was shown to be a whiny-voiced harridan who would attack anyone for a buck. She was quickly muted. Michelle Malkin was shown to be a hypocritical fussbudget with a counter-top obsession and a need to punish innocent children. She was quickly muted.

Into the void has stepped Glenn Beck. He will undoubtedly meet the same fate.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Yes, conservatives really do worship Ayn Rand

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Many conservatives, including those at Dick Armey's FreedomWorks. Here's TNR's Jon Chait, following up on his excellent book review (of two new books on Rand) from a couple of weeks ago (about which I posted here):

It's certainly true that Rand did not intend her ideas as a blanket defense of the rich in all their forms.


The problem is that, even in Rand's time, her ideas were largely taken by the rich as a blanket defense of wealth and privilege.


My review focused on the real-world impact Rand's ideas have had. There is a large and influential strand of thought on the right which holds wealth to be a sign of virtue and redistribution from rich to poor the most evil thing a government can do. It may not be a precise translation of Rand's ideology, but it's a pretty decent facsimile. The actual influence Rand exerts on the world comes in the form of people like Dick Armey working to protect the interests of the actual rich, not just those rich who meet the ideal of the imaginary Randian hero.

Conservatives can pretend they're not Randian all they want, and Randians can try to distance themselves from conservatism as much as they please, but the reality of the (intimate) relationship is pretty clear.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

The Grand Insurrection Party and the politics of treaon


When does political hyperbole rise to the level of treason? That is my question for today.

First, it started with the
Birthers, those who sought to undermine the legitimacy of a newly-elected president with fabricated conspiracy theories about the authenticity of his birth certificate and the legality of his presidency.

Next came the
Tea Baggers, followed by the town hall hooligans, followed by gun-toting thugs at presidential rallies, followed GOP Congressman Joe Wilson's outburst of "Liar!" before a special session of Congress, followed by GOP Congresswomen Michelle Bachmann calling for armed resistance against Obama's legislative agenda, followed by GOP Congressman Trent Franks threatening a Birther lawsuit against Obama and calling him an "enemy of humanity," followed by GOP Governor Rick Perry calling for Texas to secede from the union, followed by Newsmax columnist John Perry dreaming of a military coup against President Obama, followed by a Facebook poll asking: "Should Obama be killed?" Get the picture?

For months, we have heard the repeating rhythms of Obama the Communist, Obama the Socialist, Obama the Islamofascist, Obama the Jihadist … and the steady and relentless drumbeats of a GOP run amuck driving us towards civil disorder and insurrection.

There was a time when the party out of power was termed the Loyal Opposition. We called them "loyal" because there was always a tacit assumption that the losing party would accept the results of a fair and decisive election, would always accede to the will of the people, would recognize traditional standards of civility and protocol, and always play by the rules. No longer.

The party out of power has devolved from the Loyal Opposition Party to the Oppositional-Defiant Party, and now to the Grand Insurrection Party. The time-honored art of political compromise and consensus is dead. The GOP has withdrawn from participatory democracy.

Samuel Johnson once said: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." Your humble Octopus disagrees. The U.S. Constitution affords plenty of mud-wiggle room for scoundrels. If patriotism is the first refuge, the First Amendment is the next, where cowards assert their bigotry and stupidity by saying anything they want under Constitutional protection, or so they think. The Second Amendment offers yet another refuge: When reason and civil discourse fail, the malcontents and misfits of the GOP invoke this Amendment to incite others to violence by proxy, or so they think. The fear-mongering, hate-mongering scoundrels of the GOP overlook a fundamental point.

We have the same rights. We won the last two elections. We have a mandate to reverse the failed policies of the GOP whether they like it or not. With each passing day, the GOP has pushed political discourse beyond the fringes of civilization, and the time is long overdue to hold them accountable before
more people get killed. I will defend my politics, my principles, and my person with words as I must and with arms (all eight of them) as necessary. Octopus hath spoken.

(Cross-posted at
The Swash Zone.)

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Two peas in a pod

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Should we be surprised that Palin's Going Rogue ghost-writer, Lynn Vincent, is a partisan Republican, "very conservative," a right-wing Evangelical, and completely insane?

I think not.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

More Grayson

By Creature

It's just too damn refreshing not to post.

Contribute to Grayson here.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Polanski, the French, and the backlash against the rape apologists

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Even the French are backing away from their initial support for Roman Polanski (and opposition to his arrest). Foreign Minister (and celebrated leftist intellectual) Bernard Kouchner, along with Polish Foreign Minister (and husband of WaPo columnist and Polanski apologist Anne Applebaum), had called for Polanski to be released, but the French government now insists that "[w]e have a judicial procedure under way, for a serious affair, the rape of a minor, on which the American and Swiss legal systems are doing their job."

Good for the French. (For more on the French reaction to Polanski's arrest, see Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.)

Meanwhile, Polanski has support not just in the international cinematic community but in Washington as well. I suspect there will be a concerted campaign to pressure U.S. authorities, from Hillary and Holder on down, to leave Polanski be. In fact, it's already begun. But there's a little thing known as the rule of law to consider, and Obama isn't about to issue a pardon. So unless the Swiss release Polanski on their own, and unless Polanski is allowed to return to France, isn't extradition an inevitability? What legal leg does Polanski have to stand on?

(And then what? As I've written before, I'm not sure Polanski should be imprisoned, belatedly, for his crime. Perhaps there is some other suitable punishment that could be meted out?)

What is refreshing is that there has been a strong backlash against Polanski's apologists, including the appalling Whoopi Goldberg, who claimed the other day that what Polanski did was "rape," not "rape-rape." (Which, as TNR's Chris Orr notes, is true in a legal sense, as Polanski pled down to a lower crime, but certainly not in any real sense, given the facts of the case, let alone in a moral sense.)

By the way, make sure to read the NYT editorial on the case: "[W]here is the injustice in bringing to justice someone who pleads guilty to statutory rape and then goes on the lam, no matter how talented he may be?"

For more, see my two previous posts on Polanski:

-- The truth about Roman Polanski; and

-- Defending Polanski; or, how the Hollywood left has completely lost its marbles.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Turning the tables

By Creature

The best part about Rep. Alan Grayson calling the GOP out is that he has turned the tables on the GOP noise machine. Basically, make an inflammatory comment and watch the media, and the opposition, talk about it as the basic point embeds itself into the public's mind. And, even better, in this case, the inflammatory comment is true (as opposed to death panels and Nazis and whatever).

Here's Grayson on Rachell (good stuff):

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Craziest Conservative of the Day: John Derbyshire

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Derbyshire, who writes for the National Review, is one of those retrograde conservatives who wants to take America back to the '50s. The 1850s... or the 1650s... back to some idyllic right-wing Dark Age.

Appearing on Alan Colmes's radio show the other day, and asked by Colmes about a section in his new book called "The Case Against Female Suffrage," he actually argued against women having the right to vote:

DERBYSHIRE: Among the hopes that I do not realistically nurse is the hope that female suffrage will be repealed. But I'll say this – if it were to be, I wouldn't lose a minute's sleep.

COLMES: We'd be a better country if women didn't vote?

DERBYSHIRE: Probably. Don't you think so?

COLMES: No, I do not think so whatsoever.

DERBYSHIRE: Come on Alan. Come clean here [laughing].

COLMES: We would be a better country? John Derbyshire making the statement, we would be a better country if women did not vote.

DERBYSHIRE: Yeah, probably.

Now, one would hope that Derbyshire was joking. But he wasn't.

And what is Derbyshire's argument against women's suffrage?

The conservative case against it is that women lean hard to the left. They want someone to nurture, they want someone to help raise their kids, and if men aren't inclined to do it -- and in the present days, they're not much -- then they'd like the state to do it for them.

So he's against it for partisan (women are anti-Republican) and ideological (women are pro-government). Of course, that's partly true, but what Derbyshire's argument amounts to is the desire to take away the vote from anyone who doesn't vote the right way, Derbyshire's extreme right-wing way. And of course he also wants to silence women along the way.

Nice to come clean, Derbyshire (no doubt speaking for many on the right). You don't just want women in the kitchen, obeying your orders and reduced to non-citizen status (if you don't have the right to vote, you're not really a citizen, are you?), you want to rig the political system so that you're guaranteed to win each and every time. Why not just come out against suffrage for blacks and Hispanics, too?

Hey, here's an idea, and it's certainly no crazier than Derbyshire's: I think America would be a better country if Republicans didn't vote. I'd lose a little sleep, I suppose, given my liberal support for universal suffrage, but I'm sure I could put country first and support what's best for America.

Anyone with me?

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Polanski agonistes

By Carl

First off, by no stretch of the imagination should this be construed as a defense of what
Roman Polanski pled guilty of doing: raping a 13-year-old girl.

As a victim of sexual abuse as a far younger child, I can tell you that the scars this now-43-year-old woman feels run very deep: mistrust, uncertainty, and social ineffectuality are only the tip of the iceberg.

Polanski should be held accountable, to be sure. A 30-year exile is inadequate, full stop. That he pled guilty tells me he has spent at least some of this time regretting and remorseful over his actions.

And it's important to keep in mind that this all occurs with the dramatic backdrop of the murder of his wife 40 years ago, Sharon Tate (as we were reminded last week with
the death of Susan Atkins).

None of us can wrap our minds around how a tragedy like that would affect us, what behaviors we'd indulge in that would ultimately have a bad effect on our lives.

Personally, I'd just as soon forget the bastard. I hadn't given much thought to him over these past years, except when he'd appear in the society pages from the Cannes festival, or if one of his movies would pop up on the TV, most notably
Rosemary's Baby.

Too, the victim, who has been named elsewhere but whose name I can't bring myself to repeat, has said she has forgiven him and thinks he should not be jailed. Her grand jury testimony was damning, to be sure, and exposed Polanski's deeply troubled mind.

Not that the sex was sadistic or anything, but we're reminded of this girl's youth.

Which brings me to the
poutrage the right wing blogs have shown over even the meekest defense of Polanski.

For example:

Hollywood, meanwhile, rushes to defend a child rapist. And they like to lecture us about morality.

"Lecture us about morality" -- huh? When?

Ironically, this tight-pantied little man had
nothing to say about the Mark Foley scandal when it broke in 2006, except in the aftermath when the House declined to bring charges against Foley, as did federal prosecutors.

Apparently, The Fool is not against fucking little boys in the ass, but little girls? Whoa, Nelly! I'm guessing The Fool and
Dan Riehl go out chickenhawking together.

Just a joke, Fool! Right? ;-)

This "black or white, no middle ground" attitude of the right wing has so poisoned the justice system of America and the political climate that anyone who proposes even modest compromises on any issue is automatically painted by one side or the other as either a sell-out, or a crackpot. After all, a blowjob warranted an impeachment trial, but letting 3,000 Americans die because of a president's negligent behavior, followed by another 4,000 dead Americans because of poor judgement in which fight to pick?

Hey, presnidetting is hard werk!

Polanski should pay. As a Christian, I know he will pay when my Lord sits in his judgement. But thirty years after the fact? On this plane of existence?

I really couldn't care less.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Potential for conflict in a melting Arctic

Guest post by John Malone

John Malone, a VP/Senior Analyst with John S. Herold, an energy investment research firm in Connecticut, is a Truman National Security Project fellow.

[Ed. note: This is John's second guest post at The Reaction. You can find his first, on the importance of geothermal power, here. -- MJWS]


Given the threats we as a nation have faced since 9/11, it's reasonable to think in terms of how climate change will affect societies that are already under stress – how countries could quickly degenerate from fragile to failed states, drawing U.S. forces into civil wars or humanitarian interventions, or providing fertile ground for terrorist recruiters. Water shortages, crop failures, and rising sea levels will trigger crises in some of the world's poorest countries that could stretch the resources of a military already fighting two wars abroad.

But as we prepare for such a world, we can't ignore how a warming planet will shift national interests among the established great powers. Sea ice in the Arctic is
retreating, opening up access to resources and trade routes that to date have been beyond reach. A frozen Great Game is shaping up in the Arctic, between the U.S., Russia, Canada, and the Nordic countries, that will see – in the best case – U.S. military resources diverted to the far North, and in the worst case potentially leading to conflict with Moscow.

The U.S. Geological Survey now estimates that the offshore Arctic contains over 400 billion barrels of oil and natural gas equivalent, and that estimate assumes existing oil and gas technologies – advances in exploration and drilling techniques could bump up that number significantly. Most of the Arctic's unexplored areas lie offshore Russia – and Putin's Kremlin has made it abundantly clear that it considers the Arctic its backyard, all the way to the North Pole itself. Norway and Russia are already arguing over borders in the area. The gold rush for hydrocarbons in the Arctic is moving what has been a geopolitical backwater to the front burner for Western navies, and certainly will lead to (hopefully only diplomatic) conflict between the littoral states.

The other issue at hand is transport: an Arctic sea route between the North Atlantic and the Far East that could cut substantial time – and therefore cost- off trade between Europe and Asia. Retreating sea ice is opening new lanes, which means more tonnage through the Arctic, which in turn means more need for military patrols and monitoring. Ottawa is apparently already budgeting for drone aircraft earmarked for Arctic surveillance.

Russia has made it clear it is going to aggressively pursue its interests in the Arctic, and Canada has been saying for a couple years now that it plans to take a tough stand on its Arctic sovereignty. Thankfully, the new dynamic in the Arctic has not gone unnoticed in the Pentagon. In May, the Navy formed a task force to address climate change-related planning, and the potential for engagement in the Arctic is apparently at the top of the to-do list. Climate change is not only going to call upon more U.S. infantry and special forces abroad, it's going to mean more work for big-ticket items – naval task forces, icebreakers, new satellite systems – and the cost of their deployment and maintenance... not to mention a greater chance of bumping up against one of our oldest adversaries.

(Cross-posted from Operation FREE.)

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Defending Polanski; or, how the Hollywood left has completely lost its marbles

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Yesterday, I posted on the truth about Roman Polanski, and this was my conclusion:

Whatever you think of the cinema and celebrity of Roman Polanski, it is the truth that should matter most, including the truth about what happened over three decades ago.

What is that truth? That he drugged and raped a minor, a 13-year old girl (read the sordid details here).

That is disturbing -- and criminal -- but what is also disturbing is how so many in Hollywood have rushed to his defence since his arrest in Switzerland.

Consider some of the high-profile, world-famous names who have signed on to the "Free Polanski" movement: Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Michael Mann, Wim Wenders, Pedro Almodovar, Wong Kar-Wai, Jonathan Demme, and Harvey Weinstein. According to The Guardian, Weinstein is "calling on every film-maker we can to help fix this terrible situation."

Apparently, the "terrible situation" is Polanski's arrest, and the fact that he may now be held accountable for his actions of over three decades ago, but the real terrible situation is what he actually did (or what he is alleged to have done, and was convicted of), namely, raping a minor. How is his arrest more terrible than the crime? How, to these cinema big shots, is rape so insignificant as to pale in comparison with the plight of one of their own, of a man who raped a minor and then spent over three decades avoiding extradition, continuing his career and living the good life, one much imagine, in France?

Look, it's not that I don't respect Polanski as an artist. I do. I think he's grossly overrated, but I do appreciate, for the most part, what he has done in film. And I love some of filmmakers on that list, especially Woody Allen. But please. This outpouring of support for Polanski -- from Hollywood, from Poland, from Switzerland... from around the world. Are we simply supposed to ignore the fact that Polanski raped a minor? Apparently so.

And that shows that there is a despicable double standard at work here. What if, instead of being a celebrated movie director, the rapist were, say, some anonymous dude? Well, he would have been send off to prison with a long sentence way back when, no possibility of escaping to France to avoid extradition and without a single notice in Variety. Or what if the rapist were, say, a conservative filmmaker (there are a few), someone without so many famous friends and allies on the Hollywood left? Sure, he would likely have received the support of the anti-Hollywood right and become a cause célèbre among fellow conservatives, but, then, double standards do go both ways, do they not? Just because the right would do something doesn't mean the left should.

Honestly, I am sickened by the "Free Polanski" movement, sickened that so many great filmmakers have taken up the cause, sickened that not nearly enough attention is being paid to what actually happened thirty years ago. And I say this as a liberal, as someone fairly sympathetic to the left, including the Hollywood left. I expect such behaviour from the right, but, as I hold the left, and liberals, to a much higher standard, it just pisses me off when the left pulls this sort of shit. Isn't the left about women's rights and children's rights and fairness and equality and progress and the rule of law? Since when is it a moral vacuum where you can get what you want if only you're a famous artist and know the right people? Since when does it care not a whit for rape?

As I put it yesterday, if the case was politically motivated or mishandled (which it may have been), or if Polanski is actually innocent, then let the evidence be presented in a court of law, not in the faux court of the pro-celebrity press... and certainly not with Polanski's pals using their own fame to agitate for his release and exoneration. Do they know the facts? Or, as is more likely, do they simply not care what happened, preferring instead to support their friend no matter what?

For more on Hollywood's appalling response to Polanski's arrest -- and much of it has been worse than a group of filmmakers signing a petition, notably from Whoopi Goldberg, who argued that the rape wasn't "rape rape" -- see my (conservative) friend Ed Morrissey:

Only a moron or a moral midget would read the transcripts and the actual facts of the case and conclude that Polanski deserves to avoid accountability for this crime. Unfortunately, Hollywood is filled with both.

Alas, so it would seem.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Military coup

By Creature

For a party that likes to promote democracy they really do seem to have issues living under one. When it comes to democracy, it's all lip service for the Right.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Craziest Conservative of the Day: Frank Gaffney

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Gaffney had another mediocre day on Sunday against the Raiders, with just four catches for 39 yards. Given that Orton isn't airing the ball out much, and given that he's fourth on the WR depth chart behind Marshall, Royal, and Stokley, he just isn't a good fantasy option at this point. Besides...

Oh wait. That's Jabar Gaffney. Sorry.

Frank's the crazy one -- not that they're related -- and he proved it again over the weekend at the "How to Take Back America Conference" hosted by the Eagle Forum. Take this, for example:

If Bill Clinton, on the basis of special interest pandering and identity politics, was properly called the first Black American President, on that same basis, Barack Obama should be called the first Muslim American President. […] But there is evidence that a lot of Muslims think he is Muslim. But whether he is or whether he isn't, the key to me is, is he pursuing and agenda that is indistinguishable in important respects from that of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose mission ladies and gentlemen, we know from a trial in Dallas last year, is to quote to destroy Western civilization from within by its own miserable hand? That's what we need to keep our eye on.

Uh-huh. Whatever. This is a regurgitation of an old smear, and it continues to be utterly ridiculous: Obama is a "Muslim," in spirit if not in fact, and wants to destroy America. The claim is wholly without merit, of course, but conservatives like Gaffney continue to beat the drum. And conservatives, especially those in attendance at this far-right lovefest of insanity, continue to applaud enthusiastically. (What exactly is Obama doing to bring down America? Then again, anyone who isn't pursuing a radical right-wing and/or neocon agenda is un-American to these extremists.)

Other speakers at the conference were rather less subtle. Obama was equated with Hitler and those speakers who followed Gaffney stated outright that he is a Muslim. (How he's both Hitler and a Muslim is beyond me. It's also beyond me how he's both a fascist and a socialist/communist, but one thing we can't expect from these hate-filled ideologues, apart from sanity, is consistency. They're just going after Obama with every lie they can dream up.)

But back to fantasy football for a moment. After Jennings and Houshmandzadeh, I'm pretty weak at WR. I was fortunate enough to pick up Manningham from the Giants, and I just picked up Nate Washington to replace the injured Laurent Robinson, a potential breakout star this year. I really need Holt to step up, though. I'm 2-1, but I've won a couple of easy match-ups, and I need significantly more production from my WRs if I'm to have any chance of making the playoffs. I'm so unhappy with my team this year. Orton and Favre as my second and third QBs? Portis as my #2 RB? Ouch. Maybe Forte could actually do something, you know, to justify my taking him fourth overall. That'd be nice.

Frank Gaffney is crazy, though, huh? I much prefer Jabar, mediocrity and all.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The public option has stalled. So what now?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Sen. Tom Harkin thinks he has the votes to pass a health-care reform package that includes a so-called "public option," and he may very well be right -- it's possible, if (and it's a huge if) Democrats pull together to break an expected Republican filibuster) -- but, as of right now, the public option has stalled in the Senate Finance Committee, which, despite a Democratic majority voted today against two separate proposals put forward by Sens. Chuck Schumer and Jay Rockefeller. The problem is not so much that the Republicans all voted against them (including Schumer's compromise), it's that so many Democrats did, including Committee Chairman Max Baucus, who delusionally continues to push for a bipartisan package (without a public option) even with almost all Republicans clearly opposed to any and all compromise. (As Steve Benen notes, the Republican arguments against the public option were predictably stupid.)

We have long known that the Republicans are against meaningful health-care reform. What is so annoying now, though, is that the main obstacle is Democratic opposition in the Senate, from Baucus and Kent Conrad and so on. It is a small bloc of centrists, but it is a bloc that could side with the GOP on a filibuster (in refusing to break it, even against the wishes of an overwhelming majority of fellow Democrats).

So what now?

Well, Democrats could, and should, still push for the inclusion of a robust public option in any reform package. All it not lost yet.

And yet, as many health-care experts have pointed out, quite persuasively, you may not need a public option to achieve some of key goals of reform. And there is one country, as TNR's Jonathan Cohn writes, that is a model of how to do it: The Netherlands:

Liberals, understandably, are in agony. But they can take at least some comfort in looking overseas -- where one tiny country has managed to build a popular and successful universal health care program based entirely on private insurance. That country is the Netherlands, which several years ago overhauled its health care system and achieved most of the goals the liberal reform movement holds dear: near-universal coverage, affordable insurance, and quality health care.

Under the new system, the Dutch government has required that everybody gets insurance; in return, it makes sure insurance is available to everybody, regardless of pre-existing medical conditions or income. Although the government finances long-term care through a public program, it has turned over the job of providing basic medical coverage exclusively to private insurers, including some for-profit companies. Surveys show that the Dutch are happier with their health care than are Americans -- or the people of any other developed country, for that matter.

The "catch," as Cohn notes, is that health care in the Netherlands, however private, "operates more or less like a public utility."

Read the whole piece. It's an interesting model, and a viable alternative, though perhaps unworkable in the U.S., given the general reluctance to reform industry as vigorously as would be required. Still, with the public option in trouble, and with the distinct possibility that whatever reform package is passed will not include it, it may be time to start looking for next-best approaches, if we haven't already, that would, at the very least, be steps in the right direction and that could, eventually, lead to the sort of universal public system many of us desire.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share


By Creature

Even Chuck Schumer's watered-down public option could not pass the Finance Committee. I just don't get these people. Really, I don't.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

More on fairness

By Carl

Barbara Ehrenreich made me late for work this morning.

No. Really. OK, a movie she was in that was playing on
LinkTV made me late. And if you missed my side note yesterday, The American Ruling Class is one more reason to support LinkTV.

You may know Ehrenreich from her writings in Time Magazine. If you're a with-it Progressive, you know her books, like Nickel And Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America

Which brings me to this morning's appearance on LinkTV. The American Ruling Class is a mythical tale of two young men -- one rich, one poor -- graduating an Ivy League college, and being presented with the crossroads of choices: sell souls to Goldman Sachs and make a lot of money, or keep your souls and give back to society. It is, in short, a study of the American oligarchy. Or plutocracy. Whichever terms you feel best fits. Who rules America, really?

Back to giving. I didn't get to watch the whole thing... late for work, remember?... but I did catch a critical scene for the purposes of this blog.

Lewis Lapham (the film's protagonist and its writer) squires one young man to breakfast at the IHOP. There, they encounter Ehrenreich, working as a waitress, struggling to make ends meet on minimum wage and tips, already a hundred dollars behind on her rent budget for this month.

She sits down with Lapham and one young man, and makes the most astounding observation. Yes, many of the wealthy "give back" to society, to the tune of millions of dollars each year.

But look at what the working poor give to society: cheap labor.

A billionaire who gives away a million dollars a year is giving one-tenth of one percent of his net worth. Even a "good Christian" making a hundred thousand a year and tithing ten thousand is only giving away ten percent of his income.

But the working poor?

In order that you can have cheap lettuce, or mass-produced sneakers, or convenience stores open around the clock, they give 100% of their livelihood, often at a dear cost to themselves. Working two and sometimes three jobs, they struggle and fight to survive so you can have goods to buy on eBay, or cereal on your grocer's shelves.

We owe these people something. Why?

Look, throughout history, even slaves got some form of healthcare coverage, at the very least adequate to keep them working the fields for the master. It was cheaper to heal them than to buy a new slave and integrate him into the farm culture. Even slaves got some form of education, because it was more efficient to communicate with someone who could speak your language.

Slaves got got food and clothing and water, and a place to sleep. Granted, it was far from adequate, but today's working poor don't even have these guarantees any longer. Lose your job, lose the apartment or trailer you are living in, lose your money for food and clothing, and forget about insurance! If you're making $10,000 a year and insurance costs (minimum) $1,200 a year, who in their right mind would buy insurance?

The American Ruling Class (released in 2005, ahead of the housing bubble burst) notes the staggering amounts of money that Americans earned in the 1990s and early '00s, but also notes that most of the jobs that wealth created were low-wage, no benefit jobs that were almost guaranteed to ensure a serf class, forced to tolerate the most ignominious working conditions in order to bring you your iPod.

We owe them a lot. We owe them our lives and lifestyles, and it's about time we started paying them that debt.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Craziest Conservative of the Day: Andy Williams

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Yes, Andy Williams, the singer. You know, "Moon River," all that crap. Well, it seems that the crummy crooner is a life-long Republican, and, quite clearly, a crazy conservative. As the Telegraph is reporting, he recently told the BBC's Radio Times that:

Obama is following Marxist theory. He's taken over the banks and the car industry. He wants the country to fail.

"Don't like him at all," he also said. "I think he wants to create a socialist country. The people he associates with are very Left-wing. One is registered as a Communist."

First, whatever happened to not criticizing your country when you're abroad? Didn't the Dixie Chicks get death threats for doing just that?

Second, Obama associates with one Communist? Is that really the extent of the scary Red Menace? So what?

Third, Williams is, evidently, a moron. Obama is a Marxist? Really? Does Williams even know what Marxism is? I suspect not. (Obama is trying to save American capitalism from its own despicable excesses not by replacing it with socialism but through additional regulation to preserve the primacy of the market.) The temporary takeovers of the auto and banking industries are not about nationalization but about trying to stabilize the economy at a time of historic economic crisis. I can only assume that Williams would prefer that the banks fail, which would ruin the economy completely, and that the auto industry collapse, putting tens of thousands of people out of work.

Fourth, it's quite a charge to suggest that Obama wants the country to fail. Obviously, there's no basis for it, but a moron like Williams no doubt buys extremist right-wing propaganda with glee. He is essentially accusing Obama of treason, but is it not treason to make that accusation, not least to a foreign audience?

Fifth... oh, what's the point? Enough of Andy Williams.

To put it nicely, he's clueless. To put it bluntly, he's fucking stupid.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share


By Creature


It's difficult to really know how to think about a political movement for which advocating torture becomes an applause line, and this is treated as perfectly normal by The Villagers.

George Orwell:

...and reprisals against prisoners which extend even to boiling and burying alive, are looked upon as normal, and, when they are committed by one's own side and not by the enemy, meritorious.


Bookmark and Share

Capt. Fogg and right-wing insanity

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Our assistant editor and co-blogger Capt. Fogg will be away for the next week and a half or so and will not be posting during that time.

As fans of his know, not to mention the various trolls who engage with him at their peril, one of his truly favourite things to do, and he does it often here at The Reaction, is to expose right-wing insanity in all its horrendous and destructive glory. And so I think he would like this piece on the fucked up insanity at the Eagle Forum's "How to Take Back America" conference, by The Washington Independent's David Weigel:

The "How to Take Back America" conference was no place for soft critiques of the Obama administration. It was a weekend of speeches and training sessions that were laden with doom, cries of mounting fascism, and long prayers for salvation. It was the kind of event where [Phyllis] Schlafly, a conservative icon who's often seen as a leader of the movement's far right flank, could take the role of a pragmatist, sticking to the sort of criticism of the Obama administration that might appear on Fox News and asking activists to elect a Republican Congress in 2010. And Schlafly succeeded in bringing big Republican stars to the conference. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) was the biggest draw, but six members of Congress attended, too – Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), and Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.). Several 2010 Republican candidates hosted workshops, including Ed Martin and Vicky Hartzler, both running for Democratic-held U.S. House seats in Missouri. But some of the rhetoric went beyond partisan politics. At worst, the speakers argued, fascism was on the horizon. At best, this was a pivotal time in a war on Christian values. Some of the speakers split the difference.

These are certainly stars on the far right, but, increasingly, they stand for a huge chunk of the Republican Party. It would be easy to write off a conference of grotesque fearmongering, with the explicit message that Obama is just like Hitler, as irrelevant nonsense, but, however nonsensical it may have been, it was certainly not irrelevant -- not given what has become of conservatism in America, with its tea parties and lies and reckless smear campaigns, all of which could induce violence, if it hasn't already. (Is the point to warn the country that Obama is a fascist... or a socialist... or whatever the smear of the day is... in order to win elections... or is it to stir up violent opposition to Obama, all that he supports, and all that supports him? Or is it both? Because if it's the former, it's also, whether these manipulators like it or not, the latter as well.)

But where is the Republican/conservative outrage? Why aren't Republicans/conservatives coming out against this madness? Why aren't the sane ones, however many are left, trying to take back their party and their movement? I suppose some are, and yet the bloodthirsty vitriol continues to spew forth all across the land, on Fox News and in right-wing op-eds, at town-hall meeting and at extremist ideological havens like the Eagle Forum. It is reckless, it is irresponsible, it is disgusting, and it is deeply, deeply alarming.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Bracing for disappointment

By Creature

With the public option up for a vote today in the Senate Finance Committee I'm ready to be disappointed, but hoping to be pleasantly surprised. If Max Baucus can pull himself away from his health industry base just long enough, the public option stands a chance.

And, hopefully, ads like this will make a difference:

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

The truth about Roman Polanski

By Michael J.W. Stickings

As you may know, famed Polish-French director Roman Polanski was recently arrested in Switzerland. In 1977, he was convicted in the U.S. of "unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor" (a disturbing euphemism). He has been on the run ever since, avoiding extradition in Europe while continuing with his career.

Polanski has many fans and admirers, of course. I especially like Chinatown and The Pianist, though I generally find him grossly overrated. (Knife in the Water, his early "masterpiece," is pretty good, but most of his films have been mediocre or worse.) But, with respect to his disturbing crime, he also has many apologists. WaPo columnist Anne Applebaum, for example, who wrote on Sunday that his arrest was "outrageous." (Although what she failed to mention is that she's married to Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and that the Polish government with Sikorski directly involved is lobbying the U.S. to dismiss the case against Polanski, an obvious conflict of interest. So much for her credibility.) Hollywood has also rushed to his defence, unsurprisingly. (If the case was politically motivated or mishandled, or if Polanski is actually innocent, let the evidence be presented in a court of law, not in the faux court of the pro-celebrity press.)

Thankfully, there are others who are having none of it. I'm not sure if Polanski should go to jail or be subjected to some other punishment (what that could be, I don't know, as community service or a fine hardly seems right), but it does seem to make sense for the U.S. to press ahead with the case. As WaPo's Eugene Robinson put it yesterday, Polanski "doesn't deserve a happy ending."

But let's get back to what really happened in 1977. Kate Harding has the sordid details at Salon -- read them, then apologize for Polanski, if you can -- and is, I think, right about this:

The point is not to keep 76-year-old Polanski off the streets or help his victim feel safe. The point is that drugging and raping a child, then leaving the country before you can be sentenced for it, is behavior our society should not -- and at least in theory, does not -- tolerate, no matter how famous, wealthy or well-connected you are, no matter how old you were when you finally got caught, no matter what your victim says about it now, no matter how mature she looked at 13, no matter how pushy her mother was, and no matter how many really swell movies you've made.


The reporting on Polanski's arrest has been every bit as "bizarrely skewed," if not more so. Roman Polanski may be a great director, an old man, a husband, a father, a friend to many powerful people, and even the target of some questionable legal shenanigans. He may very well be no threat to society at this point. He may even be a good person on balance, whatever that means. But none of that changes the basic, undisputed fact: Roman Polanski raped a child. And rushing past that point to focus on the reasons why we should forgive him, pity him, respect him, admire him, support him, whatever, is absolutely twisted.

But "twisted" is what we're getting. Whatever you think of the cinema and celebrity of Roman Polanski, it is the truth that should matter most, including the truth about what happened over three decades ago.

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Monday, September 28, 2009

Barry Crimmins on Mackenzie Phillips

By J. Thomas Duffy

With the homefront situation, I have not been nearly as on top of this story, the horrible, sad tale of Mackenzie Phillips' stolen childhood at the hands of her drugging, raping father, as I would have liked.

Just as sick are the people making jokes about it, calling her a liar, attempting to deny her pain.

One person knows all to well about this subject, and he weighed in, most excellently, this past weekend:

Barry Crimmins: "No laughing matter"

For instance, actress and singer Mackenzie Phillips' recent disclosures of her childhood horrors certainly brought up issues that we need to discuss: incest and child abuse. They are nervous subjects and they've resulted in a lot of nervous jesting. I've seen a variety of such jokes from friends and colleagues in the humor rackets, mostly via the Facebook social networking site.

When challenged about compounding this sordid mess with salacious comments, some of the skittish quipsters have been quick to blame the victim. After all, hadn't she "admitted" that she had a consensual sexual relationship with her father, the late musician John Phillips, well into her adulthood? Isn't she at least partly culpable? Besides, she's a celebrity so that makes her fair game, right?

Wrong. Mackenzie Phillips was given about as much of a chance to survive in this world as the average Brazilian street kid. The main difference between Mackenzie and those poor urchins is that they were abandoned to the street while her own father paved a boulevard of depravity right through his daughter's home.

John Phillips began drugging Mackenzie with cocaine when she was 11. Eventually he commenced shooting her up with heroin. On one of those occasions, when Ms Phillips was in her late teens, she "came to" while her father was raping her. After that she said she began to have "consensual sex" with him. But it was not consensual because she did not give informed consent. How could she? The only information she had to go on was that it was apparently appropriate for her to be in a drug-induced stupor as she was sexually and emotionally exploited and abused by her father and whatever other scumbags happened to pass through what should have been her safe childhood home.

Go read the entire piece, it's powerful.

Then again, Mackenzie Phillips may not be as hot in the news now, since Roman Polanski is building a fan club, looking to get him off his 30-year fugitive status for running away from paying for his child rape crime.

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share