Friday, April 09, 2004

CONDI CAN'T CON COMMISSION (but what's the point?)

My Bologna Has A First Name, It's C-o-n-d-i

First let me say that I will be the last person to try and scapegoat Condoleeza Rice for the increasing quagmire that is Iraq or for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Dissent Channel is dedicated to the truth, and the truth is, no matter how painful it might be for us Liberals to admit, both the Clinton and Dubya administrations had warnings, intelligence and plans about potential al-Qaeda attacks and neither administration effectively dealt with them. Clinton had authorized a plan to assassinate Osama bin Laden, but as I believe I pointed out in my last blog about 26 years ago (it only seems that long), it's debatable at best that a successful assassination would have done anything to stop the attacks. Both administrations had to deal with an outmoded and ridiculously "macho" intelligence structure that put the FBI and CIA in competition with each other instead of in cooperation with each other.

That all being said, Condi's performance testifying this week at the 9/11 hearings was both mesmerizing and sickening. Twisting her testimony into pretzel-like polysyllabic doubletalk in an effort to deflect as much blame from the Bush Misadministration as possible, Condi stated that any intelligence about the planned attacks was "vague" and "unspecfic". She said there was no "silver bullet" that could have headed off the attacks and she insisted that the President was engaged and aware of the threat even while on the marathon 30-day vacation he took right before the attacks. She was at times combative with her interrogators, at other times coy but she never once came off as truly forthright. And all this while the United States endured it's worst week of violence in Iraq since the "end" of the war last April. We've been there now for 12 1/2 months and over 600 U.S. soldiers have died, not to mention countless Iraqi civilians, with nary a single W.M.D. to be found. Timing wise, this was Pepto-Bismol week in the White House, which had to have Democrats licking their chops and we Americans ourselves also feeling a bit nauseous about the whole thing.

Where do we go from here? Into the downward spiral of quagmire abroad and pointless accusations at home. Politics will rule but nothing of real value will be gained. The commission will undoubtedly conclude that more steps should have been taken to prepare the nation against the deadly attacks. The 3,000 plus dead from that day will still be dead and their families will have no more comfort. We'll all have a little less faith in our government and there was precious little to be had in the first place. But if the hearings accomplish one positive thing, it is this: many of the behind-the-scenes machinations that have gotten us to where we are now in this election year have been laid bare. People have a better idea what the thought process of the current administration is and it will be harder for people to believe that this party is truly "the party of security". Where we will all end up is anyone's guess.

The Good Friday Review

So I skipped a Friday, so what? :-) Work has been miserable and I sometimes have a life, so what are you gonna do? (I'm sure nobody reading this really cares.) I saw a couple of underwhelming movies in the last two weeks--THE LADYKILLERS and JOHNSON FAMILY VACATION. Of the two, THE LADYKILLERS is definitely far and away the better movie, but it suffers from many of the flaws that seem to plague Hollywood comedies today--an undercooked script, an overreliance on caricature and too much scatalogical humor for anyone over 12. Tom Hanks does a good job playing the "professor" with the $10 vocabulary who is the criminal mastermind of the piece, while Marlon Wayans steals a couple of scenes as the comic Negro stereotype--I, mean, er, the conspirators Black inside man. (The biggest laugh in the movie is when he incredulously repeats the line, "You brought your bitch, to the Waffle House?" Trust me, it's funnier than it sounds here.) All in all, it's a matinee movie that won't make you feel like you completely wasted your time, but nothing more. The Coen Brothers last couple of efforts have felt kind of stale and that's a bad thing, because their cinematic style demands engaging characters and a breakneck story pace to make it work. This movie and INTOLERABLE CRUELTY don't hit the target.

JOHNSON FAMILY VACATION on the other hand, will definitely make you feel like you wasted your time. A black rip-off of the National Lampoon Vacation movies, Johnson Family stars Cedric the Entertainer as Nate Johnson, the patriarch who gathers his family together for a cross-country road trip from LA to Missouri so that they can participate in a reunion--and, of course, heal the marriage with his wife Dorothy (played by Vanessa Williams, stunning as always but looking kind of bored here). There are a couple (only a couple) of nice gags, although they aren't nearly as funny as they should be. Shannon Elizabeth makes an appearance as babe-witch hitchhiker in a subplot that makes no sense and should have been dropped. Steve Harvey mugs his way through his small part as Nate's older brother. All in all, if you must see it, wait until it shows up on Cable--on Black Starz, no doubt.

Last time, I promised a review of the Prince concert in L.A. Well, here it is--it was awesome! I managed to lose the set list and two weeks away from it has dulled my enthusiasm for writing about it, but trust me, if you're anywhere near Prince's current tour and you can afford to go, you should. Prince is still the King, with more genius in his pinkie finger than Justin Timberlake can dream up on his best day. And his new release Musicology sounds like his best album since 1996's Emancipation (it turns up in regular music stores on Tuesday, April 20th). If you're hankering for a real review, I suggest you check out the one in Rolling Stone from last week, it's actually pretty good.

That's it for now. I'll be back tomorrow (that's right, tomorrow, can you tell I don't have many plans this weekend?) with more takes on the headlines, the presidential campaign and all things great and true...