I highly recommend Fog of War.
Although it's mostly biographical from Robert McNamara's perspective, it's a fascinating (and I don't use the term lightly) look at the type of people and decisions that lead the country to war. It puts a human face on those decisions and made me realize that as smart as the policy-makers may be, they're still just flawed humans who can make terrible mistakes. McNamara seems not to worry much about making mistakes that lead to thousands of deaths, and he tries to distance himself from some of his decisions. But he does admit, now that he's 85, that he might not have been right about everything.
I don't know much about LBJ, but from the conversations between him and McNamara, I don't have much respect for the man. To think -- America got stuck in Vietnam because LBJ and others wanted to "kick some ass" and send a message to the Ruskies? Hmm...
There are obvious parallels to the current administration that are reason enough to check out the movie. If you get anything from the film, it should be a healthy dose of skepticism. Too often we're asked to take for granted that our president, the secretary of defense, and other policy wonks actually know what they're talking about and are making good decisions.
Fog of War shows how even a very bright man can influence history and cause catastrophic consequences. He says himself that we came "this close" to total nuclear war. Only luck saved the world.
That doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.
As a side note, Philip Glass's score is not bad (though typically formulaic). There's something about his music that makes a 2 hour film feel like 10 hours. And that's coming from someone who likes his stuff.
What's with the hubbub over The Passion of Christ? That movie is getting a ton of free publicity (unless artificial publicity is part of the $25 million budget). Why, just this morning on CNN, more time was spent talking about the movie, interviewing priests, and showing clips of the Pope mumbling than they spent talking about Bush's proposal to use the constitution to discriminate against millions of people! How about some proportionality?
Anyway, I'm probably not going to see the movie. I've read the gospels; I know how the story ends, and I don't care what Mel Gibson has to say about it.
I was thinking: people are complaining that the movie is "anti-semitic" because it may or may not place blame on Jews for Jesus's crucifixion. But how come you never hear anyone complain about "anti-Roman" accounts of the story? Somehow I don't think the Romans would've liked to take all the blame. After all, crucifixions were common back then. nothing personal, you know? They were just doing their jobs, right?
Today is a day for me to blow off whatever obligations I might've had.
I had an opportunity to earn a few extra dollars in a side job, but I don't feel like doing that. Besides, I woke up too late.
I also was supposed to play some music today, but I'm not feeling up to that either. I haven't practiced enough this week and would rather not have my ears blown out right now.
On top of that, I'm getting bugged to try to get my mother's new printer working with her computer. That's about the very last thing I want to do right now.
Instead, I'm going to wander around Lawrence for a bit, hoping to run into some kind of muse. It's been a while since I've spent some quality time with my city.
Later, I'll get back to work on the multi-threaded file spooler in Python that I started writing the other day.
The rest of the world can go away for today.
I have a very private secret which almost no one else knows....
I haven't washed any of my pants in months.
There, I said it. In fact, the last time I washed my black pants that I wear very often was before Thanksgiving.
I think I should do laundry today.
Well, it's official: Dean has dropped out. Here are some choice quotes from his exit speech:
Let me just say something to the younger folks here -- those of us who do not have my hair color -- one of the advantages of age, and they are less than I thought they were when I was 25, is that you get to see things come around a second or third time. One of the things that I realized, a long time ago, is that change is very difficult. There is enormous institutional resistance to change in this country, we have seen that in this campaign as we literally terrified people sitting in salons in Georgetown, that they might have to look for work someplace else if we ever won. But, it is natural for people to resist, but it is also inevitable that we will win. Change is difficult, you cannot expect people with great priveleges, taken at the expense of working people, to surrender them lightly. But the history of humanity is that determined people will overcome obstacles. And we will overcome the problems that this country is facing, as a result of George W. Bush, and as a result of a Washington establishment that has forgotten who sent them there.
Some of you who have been on the road with me, have seen the speeches, have heard this before, but it's true: We have been here before in this country. When William McKinley was president, enormous trusts were put together which made it impossible for ordinary Americans to start their own business, to earn a living without enormous pressure from those trusts which destroyed their business. Teddy Roosevelt came along, busted up the trust and made it possible to earn a living for ordinary Americans in small businesses again. Under Harding and Coolidge, and Hoover - Calvin Coolidge said the business of America is business, but forgot that human beings are not meant to be cogs in an enormous government corporate machine, that we are spiritual people who need connections and have to have community. Franklin Roosevelt came along and took America back for ordinary working people again. My favorite, however, is this one: In 1824 John Quincy Adams, the son of a one-term president, John Adams, beat Andrew Jackson of Tennessee in an election where Andrew Jackson received more votes. It was decided in congress by one vote to elect John Quincy Adams as president. In 1828, four years later, John Quincy Adams became the one-term son of the one-term president.
It's funny, but when Dean talks about McKinley I wonder if he's giving a subtle hint -- after all, President McKinley was assassinated by a man who's last words before being executed were "I killed the President because he was the enemy of the good people. I did it for the help of the good people, the working men of all countries."
Now that the campaign is stopped, I'm going to say something that all of you heard me say before, but I want you to think about it now, because now is the most important time you've heard it. This is the real message of this campaign, you'll hear it in a different way, because i'm no longer a candidate. The biggest lie that people like me tell people like you at election time is that if you vote for me, I'll solve your problems. The truth is, the power is in your hands, not mine. Abraham Lincoln said a government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from this earth. You have the power to take back the Democratic party and make us stand up for what's right again, allow us to fulfill the dream of Harry Truman in 1948 that he laid out when we would no longer be the last industrial country on the face of the earth without health insurance, allow us to stand up again for the rights to organize for ordinary men and women, allow us to stand again for the principles of equal rights under the law for every single American. You have the power to take our country back so that the flag of the United States of America no longer is the exclusive property of John Aschcroft, and of Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh and Jerry Falwell, that it belongs to all of us again. And together we have the power to take back the White House in 2004, and that is exactly what we're going to do. Thank you very much.
I never get tired of hearing that inspirational paragraph. Although it's disappointing to see him leave, it looks as if he'll try to maintain his grassroots network and funnel that energy into other areas (an advocacy group or something like that), which is great. I can't wait to see what becomes of deanforamerica, blogforamerica, and the dozens (hundreds) of smaller Dean-related blogs scattered across the net. It'll be interesting.