Sunday, July 29, 2007

Why the Cleavage Issue Matters

The really interesting thing about the Hillary Cleavage Debate is the comments on the Washington Post Campaign Trail Blog's web page about it. (The page was originally called "Clinton cashing in on cleavage" but was later changed to "Let the cleavage conversation begin".)

The history is: The Washington Post published an article about an outfit Hillary wore on the Senate floor that had a slightly low-cut blouse. The article claimed that Hillary was showing cleavage and then analysed all the times she has worn sexy clothing. (I couldn't detect any cleavage in the accompanying photo.) The Clinton campaign sent out a fund-raising letter that started, "Would you believe that the Washington Post wrote a 746-word article on Hillary's cleavage? ...focusing on women's bodies instead of their ideas is insulting."

Comments on the blog about the issue include:

* The Clinton campaign is over-reacting and is being stupid and petty.
* The Clinton campaign is manipulating people by raising this issue.
* The article was flattering, so why complain?
* Hillary is a hypocrite because she has started to wear more feminine clothes.
* Since Hillary is old and has small breasts, it is gross to think about her body (the term "shrivelled tits" was used, along with several other epithets). This may be the most common theme of all the comments.

I can answer all those who profess not to understand why Hillary made an issue of the article. For the 8 years she was First Lady, Hillary's appearance was scrutinized until it nearly paralysed her. I recall feature articles in top news magazines that showed all of her hairstyles over the years, implying that there was something wrong with her moral fiber because she was inconsistent in her use of a hairband. (I believe she talks about it in her memoir Living History but I wasn't able to find the reference in my copy.)

In the west at least, most women change their clothing and hair styles on a regular basis, but in Hillary's case any change is raised as an indication that she (a) has to fake it to appear feminine; and (b) is a hypocrite and a liar.

Hillary has to take control of this issue or it could ruin her attempt to become president. It shouldn't be such a damaging issue for her, but it is because of a combination of sexism, smear tactics, and our fixation on titillation. She controls the issue by getting people to talk about it and to realize just how sexist and inappropriate it is, and how hurtful it is - not just to her, but to all of us.

Update May 2008: Since I wrote this, the Washington Post has removed the offensive comments from the page I reference.


Why I Endorse Hillary as Democratic Candidate for President

The thing that really strikes me about Hillary Clinton is that she understands context. When asked (during the CNN/YouTube debate) whether she would call herself a Liberal, she gave a brief non-preachy precis of the changing definition of Liberal over the last 100 years, as well as the original US meaning of the word "progressive". When asked whether she would negotiate with dictators in her first year in office she gave a brief description of an appropriate diplomatic approach, starting with envoys and being careful of how things are interpreted or spun in different places.

She has a lightness to her approach that the other Democratic candidates don't have. She seems to be bouncing lightly on the balls of her feet, smiling - she's confident and she's ready for any question. She's ready to win.

That she will win is very much in doubt. While she's still ahead by some measures (and second to Obama by others), the chance of a woman beoming US president is still low. Women may be better educated than men these days, but we do not by any stretch of the imagination have equality. Hillary faces huge prejudices aimed at powerful women and she faces an anti-Clinton Republican machine.

I like the other candidates. I really like Barack Obama and John Edwards. I endorse Hillary because she is by far the most qualified, and I think she will do the best job. In fact, I think she will be a far better president than her husband (and he was pretty damn good). History will change if Hillary is president, and the world will become a better place.

Down the road, with more experience (and perhaps a stint as VP), either Obama or Edwards would make a great president, but in 2008 Hillary's The Man.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

King Lear (review)

As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods.
They kill us for their sport.

- King Lear

I've seen a lot of productions of King Lear, including ones starring Peter Ustinov and Christopher Plummer. I love the play, but the play usually doesn't make complete sense to me. Edgar's comments while pretending to be a mad hermit named Tom usually rankle: he seems too mad, and what he says seems out of whack. The motivations of the elder sisters to turn on their father generally don't quite work for me. The behavior of Gloucester seems irrational and stupid. Productions of Lear usually focus on the tour-de-force performance of whoever is playing Lear. Even more than Hamlet, Lear is generally all about the star.

In this year's Stratford Ontario production, the star is also the director, and through subtle yet masterful direction Brian Bedford makes sense of every line of dialogue and every character. His cast helps. With the slight exception of Sarah Topham as Cordelia, every speaking role is a brilliant Shakespearean performance. My favorites are Scott Wentworth and Peter Donaldson as Gloucester and Kent, but no less are the star turns of Wenna Shaw and Wendy Robie as Goneril and Regan (chillingly evil), Bernard Hopkins as the fool, and the rest of the cast.

(Topham isn't bad. She has a naturalistic style of acting that doesn't show up too well against all the Shakespeareans.)

Then there's Bedford's Lear. I have been a Bedford fan for 35 years and have seen him in dozens of plays, but I've never seen him do something like this. He starts as a strong, forceful king and diminishes into a tiny skinny old man (who nevertheless is able to carry the lifeless body of his daughter). He moves from someone who is overly hot-headed (his fool says, "If a man's brains were in his heels, were't not in danger of chilblains?") to someone who is mad, to someone who is mad with grief. His performance is achingly compelling and yet never goes over the top.

This is a brilliant Lear. Stratford is not doing well this year, and they're selling off tickets for many performances for half price (all are half price if you get rush seats two hours before the performance). The Festival Theater was about 80% full this afternoon (a Saturday).

(Note on the quote above: There are scholarly arguments about whether Shakespeare was a Catholic or Protestant, but doesn't it sound from the text like Shakespeare wasn't a Christian at all? His deities sound more like the Greek gods - certainly not monotheistic.)


Friday, July 27, 2007

The Humboldt Squid

Here is what I've read recently about the Humboldt squid:

* They're big. During a life span of less than two years they can grow to 7 feet long and 100 pounds, but they occasionally get far bigger: a 300-lb specimen was reported by Humboldt expert Scott Cassell.

* They're bad. They have razor-sharp beaks and their arms are covered with thousands of sharp barbs. They often don't try to kill their prey - they just latch on and start eating. They have been known to bite scuba divers and drag them down into the depths. They have killed fishermen who fell overboard. When a Humboldt is caught by a fisherman, hundreds of others may surround the boat - not to protect their captured colleague, but to try to eat it. Mexican fishermen call them diablos rojos (red devils).

* They're dangerous. They hunt cooperatively in packs of up to hundreds and can travel at 25 MPH. They have stereoscopic eyes (like us) and very large brains.

* They're weird. They have have a parrot-like beak, three hearts and blue blood. They can change color several times a second, from deep red to white. They prefer to hang out in the least-oxygenated part of the ocean where virtually nothing else can survive, but they can live at higher depths as well.

* There are a lot of them. Nobody seems to be willing to hazard a guess how many, but fisherman in California can go out and catch 200 in a few hours, essentially scooping them up until their boats can't handle any more weight. This California population explosion just started recently. On a worldwide scale, scientists believe that squids top humans in terms of total biomass.

* They're coming this way. Natives of South America, they recently colonized the waters off of California, but have been spotted as far north as Alaska. Their migration may have more to do with the over-fishing of their main predators/competitors than with water temperature.

Here is some cool video footage of Humboldt squid. I couldn't find any really grisly videos of Humboldts, but here's a video of an octopus killing a shark.

Is this all real? I think it mostly is - even though scientists seem to be bickering over details, and there's a fair likelihood that the California infestation is a transitory phenomenon. But I have to admit that yes, Humboldt squid are even more scary than man-eating clams. ;-)


Thursday, July 26, 2007

France: Enlightened, Progressive - an Evolved Democracy

When France opposed the US invasion of Iraq there was an unbelievable backlash in the US. (We all remember "Freedom fries".) Jokes abounded (and still do) about the French. Some of them were even pretty funny. But it seems likely that they originated in the office of Karl Rove or his ilk, in the now all-too-familiar scenario of the Bush administration striking back at its political opponents.

Recently, however, France's reputation is on the rise. As the Bush administration continues to bomb, torture, wire-tap and generally act like a bunch of murderous thugs, France is emerging as a state of enlightenment that is taking a lead in progressive international affairs.

Michael Moore helped with his portrayal of France in his new film SiCKO. France appears as the most evolved form of democracy in the world - where the state runs more for the benefit of the people rather than overemphasizing the wishes of lobbyists and political donors (as most of us western "democracies" do). French people have the best health care in the world, the strongest employee protection laws, and so on. (And no, the capitalist system did not collapse.)

This week France has been in the news twice in high profile cases. First, Cecilia Sarkozy, wife of the newly elected French president, negotiated a deal with Libyan president Moammar Gadhafi to free Bulgarian medical staff who were facing the death penalty in Libya. (It makes you think that Libya must have been desperate to find a solution to the mess, and that the rest of the world must have been negligent, if Libya was so willing to release the prisoners after speaking to such an unofficial source.)

Then we learn that President Sarkozy named Bernard Kouchner as his new foreign minister - that's the same Kouchner who founded Doctors Without Borders - and in his first week in office, Kouchner convened a summit which led to EU troops mobilizing to help ease the suffering in Darfur. Everyone else seems to be just wringing their hands. (The UN is considering deployment, but is said to be "years away" from being able to send troops.)

I think it's time we all start paying a lot more attention to France, and think about using it as a role model. (In the French press today: a law has just been passed that no income tax will be charged on wages paid for overtime.) Here are some English-language sites I've bookmarked:

The Tocqueville Connection
French News
Le Monde Diplomatique


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Jean Georges Restaurant (review)

Two of us ate at Jean Georges (the formal restaurant - there is also an informal one) in the Trump Tower, New York City on Friday, July 20 at 8:15 PM. We each had a tasting menu (7 courses, fixed price $150) and we each had the accompanying wine tasting menu (a very small glass of wine with each course, fixed price $120 and $100 for the "Summer" and "Classic" tasting menus, respectively). The total bill was $650 (all prices in US dollars). The amount of food was good - all the courses were very small, so we didn't leave feeling bloated (although we might have done had we eaten the desserts, which we didn't care for).

The room is very pleasant and elegant. The tables are widely spaced and comfortable, with one exception - our table, which was much too close to the table next to us. I shared a bench with the woman at the next table and we all heard every word said at both tables.

The wait staff is extremely knowledgeable and correct, but they were not pleasant or welcoming - when we had questions they answered them correctly but tended to back away as if talking was to be discouraged. We had to ask them to slow down the pace because the first two courses came out much too quickly.

(I didn't have the feeling that we were in the Reject's seats, as the people at the next table were moneyed New Yorkers and the man even seemed to be a regular. I also didn't feel that we got worse service than anyone else... if anything, I think we got better service than the norm.)

I describe all our courses and wines below. Our overall rating for Jean Georges is B- or C+. It's not a ripoff; they are trying to be a good restaurant, but the food just doesn't taste very good. They are particularly inept at desserts (which they tried to make up for by serving way too much). The wines were very interesting and were probably the best part of the meal, although the amount they poured was too little - it wasn't even enough to sip through the course. Also, the "Summer" menu wines were much better than the "Classic" menu wines (although my companion felt that she should have got more than one glass of red out of her seven glasses). At the end of the meal I asked for a list of the wines and then I did a little google research on them... unfortunately, the list is apparently not completely correct, as I detail below. It was also full of typos.

One last thing... despite the problems with the food, we had a really good time. I chose not to complain about some of my dishes (such as the raw egg in my caviar dish) in part because I didn't want to sour the mood. I definitely do not recommend Jean Georges, but the evening was fun and if nothing else, educational.

Here is the meal for each of us ("Summer" and "Classic" tasting menus):

For each:
Amuse bouche: a plate with four tiny items: a baby radish with coriander butter; a cherry that had been marinated in Sake; a clear green tomato gazbacho; and a tiny shrimp-toast. After it was all over we both agreed that this was the best part of the meal (excepting the cherry, which was not enhanced by the Sake).

"Summer tasting menu"
(my companion)

Course 1: A sandwich of slow-cooked egg yolk, American Sturgeon caviar and dill on slices on brioche

My companion was very happy with this dish. I found it too salty.

Wine: Champagne Delamotte, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger Brut NV

This was a good champagne but we didn't find it to be particularly exciting. They filled our flutes only half-way, which was not very festive.

(Info: Wine Enthusiast score 93. Rated 91/100. "One of the best buys in exquisitely crafted champagne, this wine smells of fresh bread dough intermixed with buttery citrus. It reveals light to medium body, extraordinary precision, and a lingering effervescence with tiny pinpoint bubbles." - Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate ...The House of Delamotte is the fifth-oldest Champagne house in the region, founded in 1760, and located in the heart of the Côte des Blancs in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Delamotte is small (just 25,000 cases annually) and one of Champagne's best-kept secrets. It is the sister winery of the legendary House of Salon. The two wineries sit side-by-side and are both run by Didier Depond." It costs $39 a bottle.)

Course 2: Sliced hamachi, opal basil, cherry tomato

This raw fish didn't really work. When the man at the next table got it, we saw that he had a layer of something else under the fish. This layer had been left off my companion's plate. Perhaps it made it more interesting.

Wine: Gruner Veltliner, Alzinger Muhlpoint Smaragd, Wachau, Austria 2005

(Info: "Sleek, clear, winsome yet authoritative wines from the kindly hands of the newest Wachau superstar, Leo Alzinger Sr... Every vintage since 1995 is amongst the best collection in Austria. Alzinger’s wines are uniformly threaded into skeins of nuance and even when they’re at their biggest they’re always shapely and lissome. They aren’t delicious because they’re great; they’re great because they’re delicious. (The 2004 is $43.50)")

Course 3: Green asparagus with morels in cream sauce

Lightly cooked asparagus, simple morel cream sauce. My companion could see the reason for pairing these two (they are in season together) but she didn't feel that the cream sauce worked with the asparagus. Note also that we buy fresh Canadian morels in our local grocery store ($5.99 for 3.5 ounces) and make a similar sauce very easily.

Wine: Sauvignon Blanc, Brander Au naturel, Santa Ynex Valley, California 2006

We loved this wine!

(Info: 92 points (for the 2004 Au Naturel). "California's top Sauvignon Blanc specialist continues on a roll with this wonderfully pure, clean wine. It's crisp and bone dry in gooseberry, lemon, lime and fig flavors, with an intense cassis flavor that's unusual and thrilling in a dry Sauvignon Blanc. You'll savor every sip of this exceptional wine.")

Course 4: Seared sea trout, watermelon, paprika, lime

The trout was mushy, a real disappointment after the fabulous sea trout we ate at Commander's Palace in New Orleans recently. The watermelon was very good. They had marinated the watermelon to make it spicy, and then had vacuum-packed it to remove the juice and condense it - that's the kind of innovative and delicious cooking we expect from a restaurant of this caliber.

Wine: Vogelsang, Heidi Schrock, Weinbaurin, Austria, 2006

When he brought this wine, our waiter described it as a blended wine (the first grape started with "Welsh" but he said it was not from Wales). I am taking the wine names from the list given us by the sommelier and I'm not sure that we got the Heidi Schrock... in any event, this wine was fabulous: full of layers of wonderful flavors.

(Info: "Named "Austria's Wine-Grower of the Year" in 2003 by renowned wine magazine Falstaff, Heidi Schrock is the coolest female winemaker in Austria. Heidi has gathered experience from places like South Africa & Germany and brought it all back to her hometown of Rust. She took over the winery from her parents 20 years ago and has since spend much of her time reviving traditional wines of her Austro-Hungarian forefathers. The family motto states that tradition should be honored but also mixed with progress; for it means keeping alive the fire, not adoring the ashes.")

Course 5: Maine lobster, grilled corn gnocchi, sweet garlic nage, Jalapeno-parsley relish

This dish was delivered to me although it should have gone to my companion. I didn't like it at all. Some of the lobster was tough and hard to cut, and some was unsweet and slightly mushy. The broth just didn't taste very good. We switched plates for this course and my companion liked it better than what she got.

Wine: Viognier, Yves Cuilleron, Rhone, France, 2006

A really, really delicious wine! (I saw the 2005 on another restaurant's wine menu for $47/bottle, so it is not an expensive wine, probably under $20 in a store.)

Course 6: Rack of lamb with Thai pepper and mint, sweet pea puree

This was the second appearance of the sweet pea puree for my companion. She felt that the lamb was pedestrian. There was a nice pile of sweet peas and peanuts on the side. This was just okay.

Wine: Guidalberto, Sant Guido, Tuscany, Italy 2004

Very pleasant red wine that perfectly accompanied the lamb.

Dessert: We had four choices for dessert: chocolate, citrus, rhubarb or summer. Each was a selection of four small desserts.

My companion chose the "summer selection", which had four items: a tomato dessert salad; plum sorbet; sliced peaches with farmer's cheese; and a cooked cherry pudding with cocoa-based mousse on the side.

The tomato salad was not edible. The plum sorbet was so thin in flavor as to be uninteresting. I liked the sliced peaches very much but my companion did not. The cherry pudding was good.

Wine: Recioto De Soave Classico, Gini Col Foscarin, Veneto, Italy, 2001

A lovely white dessert wine!

(Info: Made from 100% Garganega, the name 'Col Foscarin' comes from the hillside where these vines for this wine are grown. Full golden yellow color, Intense and elegant bouquet with a note of ripe citrus fruits and apricot jam. Rich on the palate, full bodied, refined and with excellent persistence. The grapes are harvested in small wooden boxes and only the best bunches are taken for drying. These boxes are put into a special drying room (fruttaio) where there is natural ventilation. After five to six months the grapes are pressed after being selected once again.")

"Classic menu"
(I had this selection)

Course 1: Egg caviar

Served in a brown hen's egg, this is supposed to be lightly scrambled eggs on the bottom, with a dollop of vodka-infused whipped cream on top of that, with American sturgeon caviar on top. Unfortunately, the egg layer was completely uncooked and liquid, which tasted sort of yucky and also the two top layers fell into it and dissolved, making a mess. This course was not edible. I should have said something but our waiter disappeared at this point and a bus boy removed our plates.

Wine: Champagne Delamotte, as above

Course 2: Sea scallops, caramelized cauliflower, caper-raisin emulsion

An odd dish. Maybe I just don't like sweetened cauliflower, but it totally wiped out the tiny partial piece of scallop and didn't taste good at all.

Wine: Savennieres, Chateau de Chamboreau, Roches aux Moines - Cuvee d'Avant, Loire, France 2001

My first sip had an unpleasant aftertaste, like gasoline or maybe fingernail polish remover. This aftertaste diminished somewhat but never completely went away.

Course 3: Young garlic soup with thyme, sauteed frog's legs.

The soup was pleasant but a little bland. The tiny frog's legs were crispy and very lemony and quite nice.

Wine: Pinot Auxerrois, Albert Mann Vieilles Vignes, Alsace, France 2006

The waiter described this red wine as a "thin skinned grape that should be served cold." It was interesting. I enjoyed trying it very much (but might not order it if I have the chance). It tasted a bit like a Beaujolais Nouveau. Once again I'm not sure if the sommelier gave us the correct wine when he gave us a list of what we drank.

(Info: This goes for about $13 a bottle in a store. For info see the Albert Mann web site.)

Course 4: Turbot with Chateau Chalon Sauce

The turbot was very plain but well cooked (nice and firm). The sauce was okay but didn't really hit the spot. It had an odd sweetness to it. This course was just okay.

Wine: Chardonnay, Patz & Hall, Dutton Ranch, Russian River Valley, California, 2005

Nice oaky chardonnay.

(Info: "Rated: 91. Bright yellow. Restrained, pure nose hints at lemon ice; quite Chablis-like. Juicy, sharply delineated, if more tropical fruity in the mouth; but the flavors of pineapple and guava are refreshing rather than heavy. A nicely gripping chardonnay that conveys an impression of texture without weight. Finishes fresh and persistent." About $35 in a store.)

Course 5: Lobster Tartine, lemongrass and Fenugreek broth, pea shoots.

They mixed up this course (giving me my companion's dish), something we didn't realize until we checked the menus later. However, we both disliked the dish we had been presented so we switched and I ended up with the Lobster tartine. The broth was very tasty, not unlike something you'd get in a Thai restaurant. The lobster claw was not sweet and was a bit mushy, like a lobster that has been in a warm water holding tank for too long and then overcooked, but overall I enjoyed this dish.

Wine: Trousseau, Frederic Lornet, Arbois 2004

Again, I'm not sure that the sommelier gave me the correct name for this one. What I got was a white wine that was served fairly warm, which was suitable. It was an interesting wine and I'd like to try it again, so I'm sorry I don't know what it was (the Trousseau appears to be a red).

Course 6: Broiled squab, onion compote, Corn pancake with fois gras

Good squab (although the skin was not crispy). The corn pancake was mushy and sweet (not very good). The Hudson Valley fois gras was bland... I'm a huge fan of fois gras and had some great Hudson Valley just recently, so I'm not sure how they could mess it up so... it was nearly raw, which I like.

Wine: Syrah, Qupe Bien Nacido Vineyard, California, 2004

Nice full-bodied red.

(Info: Rated 92 points. $28/bottle.)

Dessert: I chose the "chocolate selection", which was a chocolate cake/souffle with vanilla ice cream; a salty chocolate "donut"; a chocolate brownie-like thing; and a little glass of two-layered chocolate liquid. I didn't care for any of them. The donut and brownie-type thing were both excessively salty and weird tasting. Between the two plates there was too much cocoa powder used.

Wine: Banyuls, M. Chapoutier, Languedoc-Roussillon, France 2004

A red dessert wine, it was okay, not exceptional.

(Wine Spectator said: "Fig and dark plum flavors dominate this rich and ripe dessert-style red. Balanced and fresh, with a good structure and a mint chocolate finish. Drink now through 2008. 270 cases made." About $17 a bottle.)

For each:
Friandises: homemade marshmallows (vanilla, strawberry and peppermint); homemade chocolates; homemade berry and orange jellies; and tiny macaroons (about the size of my small fingernail) filled with cream.

Great selection! However, we only enjoyed the macaroons. The jellies were very good but didn't go well with coffee. The rest just didn't taste very good. Even the little chocolates were odd-tasting.

On leaving they gave us each a tiny gift bag. In the bag was a fancy little box. In the box were two tiny chocolates (like the ones that came with the friandises). This seemed a tad precious.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Joyful Death

That masterful negation
and collapse of all that makes me man.

- John Henry Newman in a poem set to music by Edward Elgar as The Dream of Gerontius

No, I'm not on my deathbed. I just attended the opening night gala of the Elora Festival.

The poet was a Roman Catholic cardinal and Elgar a staunch Catholic, but I have to wonder at the title. The work describes the death of Gerontius, followed by the judgement of his soul and its installment in purgatory, but the piece is called The Dream as if this is Gerontius's fantasy.

It also doesn't sound very Christian to say that death is the "collaspe of all that makes me man." Scholars may roll their eyes at my ignorance, but it's possible that a cardinal could be unwittingly unchristian. An author never completely understands the values he embeds in his works, and... paganism will out?

Christianity flourishes in Elgar's exuberant, joyful music depicting death. I'm not a believer but I like that attitude towards one's own demise. It is inevitable, natural, and unknowable, the thing that defines everything else we do, the ultimate. It does seem to be a state of grace to be able to embrace it.

I attended a full rehearsal before the performance, so got a double blast of the brilliance of Noel Edison, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Elora Festival Singers, Festival Orchestra, and soloists Kimberly Barber, Michael Colvin and Tyler Duncan. The music was sublime.

Noel Edison got in a good zinger during the rehearsal. After they rehearsed God Save the Queen, Noel said, "That one's for Conrad." (Conrad Black, aka Lord Black of Crossharbour, was convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice today.)


Thursday, July 12, 2007

SiCKO (Review)

I really enjoyed SiCKO. Like most Michael Moore films it's engaging and thought-provoking. The movie goes beyond condemning US health insurance, so my reaction as a Canadian was not smug complacence. The real message of the movie is that the people should have more power in society, a theme that applies to Canada as well as the US. (We especially need stronger employment regulations, a theme I tend to harp on about.)

Those who don't agree with Moore will call the film propaganda, and that's not unfair. His arguments are emotional, to say the least. But boy is he effective. Tonight on CNN I saw uncredited shots from the movie of confused people in hospital gowns dumped on skid row (some US hospitals kick patients out of their beds when they can't pay, no matter what physical state they're in). Anderson Cooper said, "We have been reporting on this issue for over a year and a half." Well I sure missed it. And haven't you noticed that all of a sudden you're hearing about how well France runs things? That's straight out of SiCKO.

I remember the left-wing films of my youth. Many leftist activists would twist any issue to try to bring about their ultimate goal - the revolution, the downfall of society, and the start of the socialist utopia. Leftist films frequently were just a pack of lies and conspiracy theories spooned out to the gullible. It was like there was a worm in the movement making things rotten and reducing credibility. (Nowadays the Right has taken over the role of uncredible ideological extremist, and the Left has taken over the role of pragmatist - even to the extent of being fiscally conservative. Funny old world, isn't it?)

Moore isn't like those old Marxist lefties. Agree or disagree, he is working honestly and transparently to make his case for what he sees to be a better world. And I tend to agree with him. When he says, "How did we become like this?" with a note of despair, you know he's speaking from the heart.

The only Moore film that didn't hit a right note with me was Bowling for Columbine, which was confused and uncredible. (I don't think Canadians will ever quite forgive him for saying that we don't lock our front doors - not that we wouldn't want to live in a crimeless state, but it just ain't so.) And his ultimate conclusion for why there is so much crime in the US - the nightly news - was just silly.

But of his oeuvre, Moore has produced three marvellous, world-changing films: Roger & Me, Fahrenheit 9/11 and SiCKO. And on the basis of SiCKO, I'd say he's getting better and better.


Why Vote for Dalton McGuinty

Here are three reasons to vote Liberal in this fall's Ontario election, just as a start...

1. Check this out: It's a wee bit boring, but he says some good things. I especially recommend the bit about why he implemented the health care premium after saying he wouldn't raise taxes. Dalton's a good premier for Ontario.

2. Mike Harris Mike Harris Mike Harris Mike Harris Mike Harris Mike Harris Mike Harris Mike Harris Mike Harris. Black booted cops at Queen's Park, A cabinet minister who jumped backwards into a bush and then claimed he was pushed, Sarah Polley getting her teeth kicked in, massive layoffs of nurses, health care system nearly destroyed, a huge hidden deficit, Toronto amalgamation, etc etc etc -- You might counter: why blame the current Conservative leader for a Conservative leader four years ago? The answer is that the Conservatives have a lot to answer for after the debacle of the Harris/Eaves years and the horrendous mess they left our province in.

3. The NDP's self-destruction during the years of the great Bob Rae, indicating that the Ontario NDP is not yet ready to run things.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Libby Roundup

Here are some good reading/viewing sources in the Libby case:

* Dan Froomkin's summary in the Washington Post
* Interview with Joe Wilson on MSNBC
* Joe and Valerie (Plame) Wilson's legal support trust

On a personal note, while I think Bush's commutation of Libby's sentence is of the greatest importance and I agree with Joe Wilson that this is a case of treason and corruption, the brashness of their actions makes it difficult to express outrage anymore. Criticizing the Bush government is like punching a big steel wall. This past Sunday I heard a Republican strategist on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" saying that Cheney is an inspiration to all Republicans because of his audacious actions. She said he makes people mad but he gets things done. Public reaction doesn't seem to matter to these people at all - they are increasingly moving into a world of no accountability.