Monday, May 17, 2004


Welcome to the fortieth posting from Dissent Channel in 2004. This blog may be middle-aged, but the truths and opinions contained within are guaranteed to be fresh forever!

Arts & Entertainment - Review of Troy in 200 words Or Less

Troy (starring Brad Pitt, Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom) is what you get when you cross the Iliad with Romeo & Juliet and take out most of the emotion. It's a Greek melodrama but somebody forgot to invite the Gods. It's like Gladiator without the gravitas, with Brad Pitt instead of Russell Crowe and Peter O'Toole instead of the late Richard Harris.

Which is not to say that it's not enjoyable. It is. Brad Pitt bares his darker side (and almost all of his perfect physique) to play Achilles, the perfect killing machine of his time. Model Diane Kruger plays Helen, "the face that launched a thousand ships", and she acts like she models, but that's fine since it turns out Troy is not really about her anyway. This war, like all of them, is about land and ambition and Helen running off with the fey Paris (Bloom) merely provides the excuse. None of it is deep (or faithful to the source material), it's about 30 minutes too long, but the acting won't disappoint, the action sequences are well-staged (some brilliantly) and of course, there's naked Brad. You can--and will--do much worse this summer, just don't expect to get too emotionally involved. For women, gay men and undemanding moviegoers, it's probably worth the $9.

It's All Bad

For the twenty millionth time, it doesn't matter which side is committing atrocities in Iraq and how horrible the atrocities are. They're all bad. This is not a moral equivalency test or a quest for martyrdom, no matter what anybody says. Nick Berg should never have been decapitated and the world shouldn't have been able to watch. Iraqi detainees, most of whom have committed no crimes, should not have been forced into simulated sex acts, beaten or killed at the hands of U.S. forces and their proxy in Abu Ghraib or elsewhere. The fact that "we're at war with the terrorists" does not justify terrorism. This is the same argument the terrorists use for flying planes into the World Trade Center. So who are the terrorists? I'm really not going to harp on this point, but seriously all discussion about this issue should be focused on how we can best end it and save face in the region instead of the peculiarities and loopholes that may or may not exist as regards international law and the Geneva Convention. Life is full of gray areas. Frow where I sit, this isn't one of them.

The Worst Job In The World?

Today, Iraqi insurgents assassinated Izzadine Saleem, the current serving head of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council. There are 25 members of the Council and each member is slated to serve as head of the Council for a month. Two members have now been assassinated in the past 11 months, meaning that you have approximately a 1 in 6 chance of being killed on the job by some of the very people you are supposed to be transitioning to democracy. This is believed to be slightly more dangerous than doing public relations work for Enron. (Remember Enron?)

But in all seriousness, if there was ever a sign that the U.S. policy toward Iraq and the timetable for the handover to full Iraqi civillian rule is completely wrongheaded and ill-conceived, today's attack supports the notion. Our leaders (Democrats included obviously) should quit dragging their feet and become more proactive in getting the U.N. on the ground in Iraq, so that our troops can start coming home and the U.S. can stop bearing all the brunt of being an occupying force.

Kerry: Please Don't Go Soft

A brief message to John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee--now is not the time to be quiet and polite. Just because Bush and the GOP are momentarily in disarray doesn't mean they will always be that way. Don't let conservative TV pundits and pseudo-patriots talk you into being "respectful of our troops" and tempering your criticism. Now is the perfect time to define your vision for Iraq, the country and the whole world as clearly and forcefully as you can. Now is the time to make the case for why you should be president and not Bush. Don't wait until the convention. And don't be wimpy. John Kerry, we're waiting...

A Quote

"There are no eternal facts as there are no absolute truths."
Friedrich Nietzche