The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

War, Inc.

Revamped my office for efficiency over the weekend. Still need a really good office light, but things are looking better.

##

I figure McCain will either go after Obama hard--which Barack definitely goaded him into, daring him to bring up William Ayers, or he will back off and be measured and polite. Personally, I hope he does the second--it will be better for him. This smells like a big, juicy ego trap set for McCain, who is known to have a temper (which probably explains why he wouldn't meet Obama's eyes...although the question of why Obama and not any of McCain's primary opponents triggered this response is a multiple-choice test left to the interested reader.)

But he's crushed himself with independents, who view the choice of Sarah Palin to be pretty much naked political maneuvering. I know that if Obama had chosen someone like her as VP, I would have lost faith in his judgement. I feel sorry for the Republicans trying to defend her. I think that a year from now, they'll be able to laugh and admit they were appalled. Now, of course, they have to fight like hell. I put no stock in anything any of them say about Palin until after the election. And I'm sure that, given the same situation, just as many Dems would have held their noses and pretended to be happy. One of the reasons I don't like this game.

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The first chunk of my work on the Hannibal series is done--turned in three scripts. T and/or I wrote two of 'em, and a good guy named Stan Berkowitz wrote the other. Today I have to get two of those scripts ready to be recorded on Monday. After that I have to take my last whack at SHADOW VALLEY--I've got a manuscript back. And after that...well, at the end of the month I'm taking ten days off, going to Florida for the election (I will have voted by mail) and then off to Antigua for a writing conference and vacation with T. Jason will be with his gramma and grandpa. A little privacy? Priceless.

#

First thing at night, first thing waking in the morning, I visualize a triangle representing my goals in all three arenas. Some days its easy to visualize, some days its murder. It was murder this morning. Ah, well...job stress, maybe.

#

Saw John Cusack's "War, Inc." yesterday. He actually plays the same hit-man he played in "Gross Pointe Blank" set in a near-future scenario of a "Rollerball" corporate world. He's apparently been keeping up his kick-boxing: there is a VERY sweet 1-against-5 fight scene, and clearly, it's actually Cusack doing most of it. Funny, oddly sweet, not entirely successful but a great time. I'd give "War, Inc." a "B".

26 comments:

Dan Moran said...

And I'm sure that, given the same situation, just as many Dems would have held their noses and pretended to be happy. One of the reasons I don't like this game.

It's not a game. If I could list the crimes of the Bush Administration in chronological order and tote up the death and damage -- you'd need years just to try and measure the carnage done to lives, finances, and the reputation of this country -- if I could list the crimes of the Bush Administration in chronological order, it would exceed the size of Wikipedia.

Elections have consequences, as Republicans were fond of saying not too long ago. Truer words, and so forth.

I don't know if it's true that the people most turned off by negative campaigning are wishy washy leftists -- but Republicans certainly believe it's true. It's one of the reasons they're so comfortable with dirty campaigning; they think it damages Dems more than Republicans. They're probably correct, but I'm more annoyed by the Democratic desire to have things be "nice," to the point of quitting on a contest, than by the Republican habit of exploiting that desire.

~~~~~

Mike Rall, re "Pro-Life" ...

That would only work if "Pro-Life" meant pro-life about other things, guaranteed medical care for children for instance. But pro-life doesn't mean that in political usage.

Now, some people like to try and hide what they are supporting. They like to call dictating what women can do with their bodies and accepting that many will die in back alley abortions, to prioritize women's health and safety and lives behind the interests of an embryo too small to see, as pro-life for instance. They have the right to do so, but I regard it as cheapening and propagandizing the language.

~~~~~

Perspective is interesting.

Anonymous said...

"I feel sorry for the Republicans trying to defend her. I think that a year from now, they'll be able to laugh and admit they were appalled."

If you actually think that Palin's gotten anything like unanimous, lock-step support from Republicans, you're totally wrong. Some Republicans were loudly and publically unhappy with her the day she was picked; considerably more spoke up, once she started giving live interviews and it became clear that she just wasn't up to them.

"... if I could list the crimes of the Bush Administration in chronological order, it would exceed the size of Wikipedia."

Any prediction of this sort is useless now, but I'll make it anyway: in 20 years, Bush having freed Iraq from Saddam Hussein without French permission, and having persevered long enough to come up with the surge and prevent Iraq's imploding, will be seen as just about the one major positive achievement of his Presidency.

And while I'm at it, I'll make another: in 2028, when serious historians are starting to actually have some kind of objective assessment of Bush's Presidency, they'll indeed find lots of things wrong with it -- but those things will look a lot more like David Frum's list of criticisms than like Dan Moran's.


--Erich Schwarz

Shady_Grady said...

I was interested in seeing "War Inc." but won't have the time this week.

Steve, did you ever see "The Miracle at St. Anna"? I was looking forward to your thoughts on it...

Dan Moran said...

Eric,

No way to know, you're correct. But the odds that historians in 20 years are going to look back at the wreckage of the Bush Presidency and come up with an assessment that mirrors that of one of Bush's neocon appointees strikes me as terribly optimistic. In 20 years the only thing historians will be arguing about is whether Bush or Hoover is the worst President the U.S. ever had.

At the moment it's Bush in a landslide -- 61% of modern historians have him as the worst President ever. So he's not doing badly in every poll.

http://hnn.us/articles/48916.html

One historian indicated that his reason for rating Bush as worst is that the current president combines traits of some of his failed predecessors: “the paranoia of Nixon, the ethics of Harding and the good sense of Herbert Hoover. . . . . God willing, this will go down as the nadir of American politics.” Another classified Bush as “an ideologue who got the nation into a totally unnecessary war, and has broken the Constitution more often than even Nixon. He is not a conservative, nor a Christian, just an immoral man . . . .” Still another remarked that Bush’s “denial of any personal responsibility can only be described as silly.”

Mike Ralls said...

>That would only work if "Pro-Life" meant pro-life about other things, guaranteed medical care for children for instance.<

And anti-death penalty, which most "pro-life" people aren't.

>But pro-life doesn't mean that in political usage.<

Anti-Abortionists calling themselves "Pro-Life" _is_ also cheapening and propagandizing the language. Why wouldn't I think that as well?

Mike Ralls said...

Any historian worth their Ph.D. will tell you that it takes _at least_ 50 years to get a proper perspective on a historical event.

Mike said...

At the moment it's Bush in a landslide -- 61% of modern historians have him as the worst President ever. So he's not doing badly in every poll.

See, now, as a modern historian, I'm solidly in the 39% who would argue against that. James Buchanan sat back and watched the country literally split in two - Bush is bad, but he can't top that.

This, of course, assumes that modern historians are actually involved in the process of determining "worst presidents"; a point which I think is debatable. I'm not sure it's actually our job to do anything of the sort, and if it were, I think you'd need to evaluate the presidents on some sort of objective scale. Hoover, Jackson, Carter, Harding, Grant - the other names which are often on the "worst president" ballot - when viewed objectively are much harder to fit into a pre-determined "worst president" mold.

Dan Moran said...

Mike,

Anti-Abortionists calling themselves "Pro-Life" _is_ also cheapening and propagandizing the language. Why wouldn't I think that as well?

My apologies. Well said. Apparently we agree on something. :-)

Any historian worth their Ph.D. will tell you that it takes _at least_ 50 years to get a proper perspective on a historical event.

Fair enough. We'll have to muddle along with "Worst President Ever" as nothing more than a working model until then.

Dan Moran said...

This, of course, assumes that modern historians are actually involved in the process of determining "worst presidents"; a point which I think is debatable.

Yep, the unknowability of things like whether George Bush is the worst president ever is a challenge to us.

War criminal, now, that's pretty clear cut. But "worst president ever" has all those value judements written all over it.

Steven Barnes said...

"I feel sorry for the Republicans trying to defend her. I think that a year from now, they'll be able to laugh and admit they were appalled."

If you actually think that Palin's gotten anything like unanimous, lock-step support from Republicans, you're totally wrong.
##
Did I imply anything like that? No, I said "the Republicans trying to defend her." Clearly suggesting that there are Republicans who do not. In fact, I've been heartened by the number who are expressing outright disgust and alarm.

Anonymous said...

Dan

Do you consider other presidents who have presided over a war to be war criminals, and if not what makes Pres. Bush unique in your eyes?

John M

Anonymous said...

Dan Moran approvingly quoted:

"One historian indicated that his reason for rating Bush as worst is that the current president combines traits of some of his failed predecessors: 'the paranoia of Nixon, the ethics of Harding and the good sense of Herbert Hoover ... God willing, this will go down as the nadir of American politics.'"

You know, this actually reminds me of another political assessment I saw of Bush.

Only, it was during the 2004 election, and it was from Saturday Night Live:

AL GORE: Like you ... Howard Dean KNOWS ... that, under our current administration, life in America has been good mainly for
the WEALTHY! For everyone else ... it's a living, breathing nightmare. As Paul Krugman has pointed out in the New York Times ... George W. Bush is not only ... the WORST president in American history ... he is the worst leader of any nation on Earth ... going back more than 500 YEARS!


HOWARD DEAN: Really? I mean... I'm no fan of President Bush, but uh ... but what about Hitler?

AL GORE: Number Three.

HOWARD DEAN: Pol Pot?

AL GORE: Number Six.

Anyway. I'm not too surprised to see that the SNL version of Bush's historical legacy prevails here in the Darkush combox. But I'm honestly skeptical that, in 20 years, it'll be taken as seriously by actual historians as it seems to be here in the comments section now.


--Erich Schwarz

Dan Moran said...

SNL version

"Among those who responded are several of the nation’s most respected historians, including Pulitzer and Bancroft Prize winners."

But you go with the SNL thing. Easier than arguing with the guys with Pulitzers, I expect.

John M,

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21794

Pagan Topologist said...

Steve, to return to the Hannibal series...do you know when it will air? I seldom watch television except for news and weather channels; I would like to see it. I know BET, of course, but dates and times would be really helpful.

Thanks,

David Bellamy

Anonymous said...

"But you go with the SNL thing. Easier than arguing with the guys with Pulitzers, I expect."

Why no, it's not easier -- it's operationally equivalent, given that the anonymous historian (who probably didn't actually have a Pulitzer, but who I'll credit with one for the sake of discussion) that you chose to quote managed to sound remarkably like SNL:

"'the paranoia of Nixon, the ethics of Harding and the good sense of Herbert Hoover ... God willing, this will go down as the nadir of American politics.'"

As others pointed out, we've had several genuine nadirs in our politics, all of which managed to be substantially worse than this dread year of 2008 A.D.

For instance, 1860 was not a great moment for the quality of U.S. leadership -- inertly letting the U.S. split into warring halves, as Pres. Buchanan did, has to count as slightly more dire than our current straits.

Meanwhile, although FDR is probably considered a successful President by your putative Pulitzer winner, it's now recognized that FDR's economic policies prolonged the Great Depression by almost a decade and that his reputation today would probably be really bad without WWII having come along to rehabilitate him.

Even with that godsend, FDR has the Japanese internments in Manzanar et al. on his record -- but since he's a demigod of the Left, it'll be a warm day in Cocytus before you hear Pulitzer Man comparing Bush's civil-rights record favorably to FDR's.

Presidential reputations change; and they often depend on perspective which can take decades to accrue. It doesn't take a Pulitzer to see that, just being historically literate and generally not frothing at the mouth. The historian you quoted really does deserve to be compared to SNL, because in both cases we're seeing the same sort of hyperbole.

To see that parallel, of course, takes a sense of humor, which in turn takes some kind of sanity and perspective. Neither of those are exactly abounding right now.

--Erich Schwarz

fsmith67 said...

"having persevered long enough to come up with the surge and prevent Iraq's imploding, will be seen as just about the one major positive achievement of his Presidency."

No freaking way. If you demolish a building and then rebuild one wall, you don't get to take credit for that "achievement."

fsmith67 said...

"Any historian worth their Ph.D. will tell you that it takes _at least_ 50 years to get a proper perspective on a historical event."

Oh really? Then screw them and the horse they rode in on. Anyone who refuses to acknowledge the catastrophic damage Bush has inflicted on this country, and perhaps hides behind politically correct academic language to do so, deserves absolute contempt.

Anonymous said...

"If you demolish a building and
then rebuild one wall, you don't get to take credit for that 'achievement.'"


What Bush demolished was the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, which was ghastly enough to inspire a nonfiction book entitled The Republic of Fear.

What he's ended up replacing that with is, thanks to the surge having beaten back total chaos, something that may yet become a decent Iraqi society for the first time in many decades.

There are plenty of sane criticisms one can make of Bush. But I do think that having ridden Iraq of Hussein will, in fact, look in 2028 like one of his few genuine good achievements.


--Erich Schwarz

Nancy Lebovitz said...

I think there are people who really like Palin-- men who are entranced by her looks and women who love the idea of a mother of five getting high office. There are Republicans who get a lot of pleasure out of pissing off Democrats, too.

I am not making up these motivations-- I'm basing this on their own words.

If Obama wins, I don't know if anyone's going to be asking Republicans a year from now what they thought of Palin.

Steve, there's partisanship in this race as in all of them, but there really is more difference between the sides than usual. One measure is the amount of defection-- and there's a lot more in one direction than the other.

I've never seen a race where so many people have said "the bad guys have taken my party away from me". Have you?

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

women who love the idea of a mother of five getting high office

That part I can even sort of understand. I, myself, love the idea of a mother of five getting high office, if only it weren't so ignorant and divisive a mother of five.

Steven Barnes said...

The "Hannibal" series should be on next summer.
#
Erich--I agree that removing Saddam was a good thing. I disagree that the price we paid for it is worth it, and I think much of that price could have been predicted in advance. It's like saying a BMW is a great car--but not if I have to pay a million dollars for it.

Mike Ralls said...

>One measure is the amount of defection-- and there's a lot more in one direction than the other.<

Um, that _kind_ of correct (I wouldn't call it a lot more, myself, but that's a judgment call) but bringing it up doesn't really fit the rest of your post. You do know that a higher % of Democrats are supporting McCain than Republicans are supporting Obama, right?

Shady_Grady said...

If the Republicans keep up these sorts of things I expect Obama to win in a landslide.

Gop Mailing

Steve Perry said...

Genuine achievements? Wouldn't it have been a lot cheaper and easier to give Saddam a call, say, "Hey, dude, if you'll move to Argentina and give up the reins there, we'll give you twenty-five billion dollars cash and a get-out-of-jail free card."

Instead of, you know, a trillion dollar debt, thousands of dead Americans, tens of thousand of seriously wounded Americans, hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis and God only knows how many of them wounded?

The surge hasn't "worked." It only proves if you shoot everything that moves, you can keep a temporary lid on violence from the other side.

If you truly believe that Iraq is on its way to peace and stability and Democratic government you must be smoking the drapes.

Anonymous said...

"If you truly believe that Iraq is on its way to peace and stability and Democratic government you must be smoking the drapes."

The same drapes as Obama was smoking when he admitted that the surge has "succeeded beyond our wildest dreams."

(Of course, that was a year after Obama'd argued against the surge on the basis that it could not possibly succeed, but hey, why bring that up?)


--Erich Schwarz

Steve Perry said...

I suspect Obama has smoked a few drapes along the way. And a good example of what I've said all along -- he's not The One. He can be wrong, and this whole Surge-has-worked business is an example.

Of course, my definition of "worked" is probably much different than yours, Eric.
How long have we had troops in Iraq now?
How close you figure they are to becoming a peaceful democracy?

How much chance you figure a snowball has in a super-nova?

Still, being wrong now and then isn't a disqualification for being elected President.
Being wrong all the time and not being able to ever recall an instance of it? That should be, but, alas, is not.