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March 24, 2003

As longtime readers of Electrolite may recall, I have my own reservations about Michael Moore.

But to not share Calpundit’s delight at Moore’s Oscar—

I mean, short of awarding an Oscar to Hillary Clinton, is there anything more they could have done to send every conservative in the country into a blinding, sputtering rage? And Roman Polanski too! Depravity is the winner this year!
—would be to display a heart of stone. [12:46 AM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on As longtime readers of Electrolite:

Andy ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 12:59 AM:

And Eminem won for best song too.

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 10:16 AM:

I was delighted that Polanski won—and not just for Pianist. His Macbeth is one of the best Shakespeare adaptations ever, and of course there's the classic Chinatown.

Eric ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 10:24 AM:

I have difficulty with the idea of "delight" over the celebration of a man who drugged and raped a 13 year old girl. Of course I'm referring to Polanski.

If you'd care to know more about the depravity, perhaps in order to increase your feelings of delight: The Smoking Gun.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 11:58 AM:

Worry not. Electrolite stands four-square against depravity.

the talking dog ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 12:00 PM:

It was kind of fascinating to watch the Moore shtick-- as he himself is kind of over-the-top, and clearly, stayed on too long. He made his point in under 10 seconds. Obviously, he never learned the "leave 'em wanting more... or Moore... " lesson, and couldn't yield the floor.
I was more impressed by the other documentary nominees, who stood impassively through this. Good for them.

I suppose a lifetime achievement award or honorary Oscar for Ronald Reagan could have been dreamed up, or some excuse to put Chuck Heston there. But COME ON!

This is the Academy that gave an award to Vanessa Redgrave- knowing what she would say! Ditto- Michael Moore. We know the politics of the movie industry. As the great man said, some of us are Democrats...

Its fine to have a subdued mood, after all. We have placed hundreds of thousands of "our" people and millions of "their" people in harm's way (well, our government has). But-- last I heard, "they" hated us for "our freedom". I always thought freedom of expression was one of those freedoms.

What the fuck is it we're fighting for again?

the talking dog ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 12:02 PM:

It was kind of fascinating to watch the Moore shtick-- as he himself is kind of over-the-top, and clearly, stayed on too long. He made his point in under 10 seconds. Obviously, he never learned the "leave 'em wanting more... or Moore... " lesson, and couldn't yield the floor.
I was more impressed by the other documentary nominees, who stood impassively through this. Good for them.

I suppose a lifetime achievement award or honorary Oscar for Ronald Reagan could have been dreamed up, or some excuse to put Chuck Heston there. But COME ON!

This is the Academy that gave an award to Vanessa Redgrave- knowing what she would say! Ditto- Michael Moore. We know the politics of the movie industry. As the great man said, some of us are Democrats...

Its fine to have a subdued mood, after all. We have placed hundreds of thousands of "our" people and millions of "their" people in harm's way (well, our government has). But-- last I heard, "they" hated us for "our freedom". I always thought freedom of expression was one of those freedoms.

What the fuck is it we're fighting for again?

Simon ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 12:44 PM:

This is also the same Academy that gave an honorary award to Elia Kazan not too long ago, so I wouldn't say their politics dictate all their choices.

Surely Calpundit's joy at Polanski's win is based on the willingness to acknowledge that a depraved bastard can create great art, and that we should be willing to celebrate that art regardless of whether the creator is a bastard or not.

Michael Moore, what are we to do with you? I agree with every word you said, but that was sure a ham-fisted way of saying it, even for you. Take some lessons in subtlety from Messrs. Cooper and Brody, why don't you?

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 01:30 PM:

The AP reports this exchange taking place backstage:


Asked backstage why he made the remarks, Moore answered: "I'm an American."

"Is that all?" a reporter asked.

"Oh, that's a lot," Moore responded.

Probably the best thing Moore's said in years.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 01:31 PM:

Damn, MT just makes up its own HTML formatting rules, dunnit?

Damien Neil ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 01:44 PM:

Speaking of Moore, just this morning a friend pointed me at this page arguing that Bowling for Columbine was largely deceptive.

Ray Ciscon ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 01:54 PM:

Damien,

I think it just backs up Patrick's problem with Michael Moore: He just doesn't care about the truth. If you haven't gone to the link that Damien points out, do yourself a favor and read it... If you're a fan of Mr. Moore, this may just open your eyes.

Moore has done set ups like these in all of his movies, but they seem to get more frequent and more outrageous with every new release.

It might be amusing if he presented it as satire, but he actually believes that this is the truth and thinks this qualifies as documentary material.

Worst of all Michael Moore is an embarassment to those who support his political causes because he virutally embodies all of the stereotypes the Right have about leftists.

As Fat Albert would say, "That man is N.C. No Class".

Cheers,

Ray

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 01:57 PM:

Eric, as frightening as it may sound to you, some people can distinguish between an artist's work and his or her personal misdeeds.

Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 02:03 PM:

It would be an interesting analysis to take Michael Moore's words literally. Do we have a fictitious president? I advise that Electrolite readers read the anthology "Alternate Presidents", edited by Mike Resnick, Tor Books, 1992. It has fiction, often well-researched, often fascinating, on what would have happened if a presidential election had gone the other way -- one story per election, 1789-1992. Many non-USA friends of mine agree with MM (not to be confused with fellow Oscar winner Eminem) that Bush represents a junta that illegally seized power from the actual winner, Gore. The second-best outbreak of Fantasy at the Oscars was the well-deserved award for Animated Feature to "Spirited Away." That was one of MY two favorite films last year. The other being "The Two Towers", which shamefully won only a special effects Oscar and a sound editing Oscar. Was "Chicago" really a better film than "The Two Towers" or "Gangs of New York"? I like musicals too, but, man, like, you know.... get real!

Doug Rivers ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 02:51 PM:

As conservatives, why should we feel a blind, sputtering rage about Michael Moore being honored by Hollywood? That's all in-house liberal/left wing stuff. We expected it. It happened. We also don't worry about who won the last Lenin Peace Prize.

Not that we aren't prone to the infrequent tobacco-spittle laced snit, but usually its directed at some heinous main stream media outrage.

Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 03:13 PM:

Doug--

You obviously haven't been reading the conservative rants and snits about Moore in the conveniently provided link at the end of CalPundit's post (linked to by Patrick here at Electrolite).

I enjoyed seeing Moore's rant, since not only did it give Steve Martin a chance for a good quip, but it also spelled things out for the subtlety impaired and said more than Susan Sarandon's subtle little flash of a peace sign.

Between the two poles was Adrian Brody's speech, about the horrors of war, the need for peace, and our thoughts still being with our soldiers, as embodied by his friend from Queens now over in Kuwait.

As I saw it, Moore by being himself drew the fire so that Brody could make his impassioned speech.

Though Moore's remark about having both the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against Bush was priceless.

doggo ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 04:11 PM:

As a lifelong liberal, I have to say that Michael Moore disgusts me. What better way to get your views dismissed than to lie. What a jackass.

Barry ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 04:19 PM:

Riiiiiiigggggghhhhhhhhhhtttttttt.

The old 'as a lifelong....' schtick is old.

C.J. Colucci ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 04:29 PM:

Why does anyone care any more about the politics, whether good or bad, of Hollywood's hacks and hams than they do about the politics of plumbers or optometrists, who have much more influence on our lives? One of my relatives gets apoplectic about Martin Sheen. Why? He's just an ex-drunk who plays the President of the United States on TV.
Then again, so is George W. Bush.
Never mind.

Francis W. Porretto ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 05:10 PM:

Mr. Hayden, if you take particular delight in the presentation of an award to a deceitful, churlish buffoon such as Michael Moore simply because it's likely to aggravate conservatives, it's this conservative's opinion that your priorities are more than a little strange. Still, you're young and may yet learn better.

Doug Rivers ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 05:22 PM:

Kevin,

You're right, I didn't read the CalPundit posts. Just speaking for myself now (not all of those outraged testosteroney guys at CalPundit), I was actually glad Moore got the award. It verifies all my dark thoughts about Hollywood.

So Moore sets up to the far, far left to make the guy on the far left look moderate, right? Hell, all we've got to do is have Ann Coulter keynote the Republican convention and Dubya will look like Mahatma frickin Gandhi.

cd ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 05:33 PM:

Doug: Did you call it "Lenin Peace Price" when Henry Kissing won it? Or Menachem Begin?

cd ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 05:33 PM:

Doug: Did you call it "Lenin Peace Price" when Henry Kissinger won it? Or Menachem Begin?

Simon ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 06:12 PM:

Doug: Did you compare the Oscars to the Lenin Peace Prize when they awarded an hononary one (thus with sober deliberation, rather than the semi-randomness of the blind vote) to Elia Kazan?

(I already mentioned this, but I'm getting used to being not read.)

Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 06:59 PM:

Not that anyone is likely to care about facts at this late date, but the "victim" in the Polanski case thinks all charges should be dropped and his work should be judged on its merits as filmmaking.

johnzo ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 07:16 PM:

Heart of stone here. I'm not as enthusiastic as Calpundit. I kinda despair at the idea that a simple pissoff of the Other Side is a victory.

Makes me think of this bunch of creeps, who are compiling lists of war-positive songs intended to "infuriate hippies."

Not that I don't like to bait the right too; last week, I sent a snide note to Oregon radio windbag Lars Larson comparing the itty-bitty turnout at his pro-war shindig down in Salem to the tens-of-thousands who marched for peace here in Portland last weekend. So yeah, it feels good to gloat over whatever victories we can win, but in the end, Michael Moore's outburst is kinda like a blocked bridge or a smashed window; it's cathartic for the people involved, but probably not helpful.

noel ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 07:30 PM:

"What better way to get your views dismissed than to lie."

If only that was true. If it was, Shrub and the chickenhawks wouldn't have been able to convince people that Saddam was responsible for 9/11 and that he was an immanent threat.

Moore seems to present his message(s) in the same manner as most wingnuts97yell it as loudly and frequently as you can97and that makes the average liberal uneasy because this method allows one to ignore difficult facts and shout down opposition without listening to both/all sides. Of course, if it worked for them...

George ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 08:02 PM:

Now, back to your regularly scheduled war:
Please read:
Mere coincidence, or dawn of World War III
By M J Akbar, GN, 3/24/03

Find this article on this site:
http://www.aljazeerah.info/

I'm too tired to offer comment, but it's the lead article today (see center column).

Thanks to all contributors. Pray for all victims.

Gary Farber ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2003, 10:31 PM:

I wasn't going to say anything as a response to most of this thread (meaning, restraining expressing the notion that Michael Moore is a terribly entertaining, and other times less, liar, pretty closely the left-wing equivalent of Rush Limbaugh [yeah, yeah, his lies are for the left, so they're virtuous -- spiritually true, so mere facts matter not]), but while I utterly agree that the works of a person (not an "artist," but a "person") and the value of said works, need to be judged separately from the moral worth, humanity, niceness, goodness, and other quality, of a human as a human, I have deep trouble believing that Vicki Rosensweig, whose intelligence I greatly respect, actually read the testimony of the woman who was then thirteen whom Vicki puts in quotes as a "victim," before posting what she posted.

I think Roman Polanski is a great, terrific, brilliant, director. But that unsealed testimony, which I read when it was posted, made it clear that he wasn't guilty of merely a "statutory" rape we might think is more or less no big deal. I can't imagine Vicki would have wanted to have such an experience put in quotes as "rape" if she actually read the testimony of what happened. I don't imagine she wanted to, at age 13, drugged, and raped, and anally raped. And I'm surprised she'd put the testimony of the young person who experienced this in quotes as mere quote-unquote "rape." I mean, when is being held down against your will, after being made to drink alcohol and Qualuudes, and then having a guy insert his penis in your vagina and anus, against your will, only "rape," and not rape?

I'm at a loss to know what this has to do with politics. Can anyone explain? Anyone who has bothered to read the actual testimony?

Vicki, have you read the actual testimony? And if not, respectfully, why were you referring to the quote-unquote "victim"? And if so, same question. What did I miss in that testimony that makes Polanski's behavior not actual rape?

Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2003, 01:55 AM:

Gary, if you were trying to tell Vicki that it bothered you to see her place the word "victim" in quotes, you could have said just that, along with a URL link to the testimony that upset you.

The harangue about putting the word "rape" in quotes appears to be coming from your shock/disgust at what you read elsewhere -- not what Vicki posted here.

What Polanski did may very well have been heinous, even if the victim has forgiven him. But I don't think Vicki deserves to be the target of your outrage over it.

[[Been there, done that, about misdirected outrage....]]

Doug Rivers ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2003, 11:19 AM:

cd. No. See below.

Simon, I apologize if I missed something earlier.

And even though I don't think the Oscars are the exact same as the Lenin Peace Prize (admitted would-be [failed] humorous hyperbole there), they and Hollywood in general are, in my mind, the exclusive domain of liberals and left wingers. And I have no real problem with that. Conservatives own most of talk radio (less NPR, Pacifica, etc). But the fact that Hollywood is PR conscious enough to bestow some token recognition(s) to an infrequent non-leftist, does not in an way change its essential character. After the great unwashed flyover-ees buy a lot of movie tickets. Likewise,I assume you don't believe Fox cable is liberal or moderate because Alan Colmes or Greta Van Sustern are there.

As regards Kazan, a long story, and can't argue the whole thing. A useful exercise though might be to go back to the late forties and early fifties and take all of the HUAC hearings and all the other tail-gunner type brouhaha, and substitute Nazi for Communist at every point. Then see if you think the guy who fought the Nazis wasn't deserving of some recognition. The flaw in my argument, of course, is that historically Communists have been much worse than Nazis (using a "murdering of innocent human beings" scale).

Tuxedo Slack ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2003, 01:17 PM:

Doug skrev:

the Oscars [...] and Hollywood in general are, in my mind, the exclusive domain of liberals and left wingers. [T]he fact that Hollywood is PR conscious enough to bestow some token recognition(s) to an infrequent non-leftist, does not in an way change its essential character.

In the words of a wise old man: "Specifics, please. Generalities make my teeth itch."

substitute Nazi for Communist at every point.

Or just reverse their positions, like some people were actually in favor of (that is, of our allying with the housepainter against Unca Joe when the alliance between the two broke down).

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2003, 01:18 PM:

Doung: And even though I don't think the Oscars are the exact same as the Lenin Peace Prize [...], they and Hollywood in general are, in my mind, the exclusive domain of liberals and left wingers.

"Exclusive"? What, there are no conservative Hollywood stars? I'm just imagining Charlton Heston, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Dennis Hopper, Clint Eastwood, and Mel Gibson?

Simon ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2003, 01:56 PM:

Doug, you evidently missed more than just my earlier reference to Elia Kazan, because you seem to think Kazan's HUAC activities need defending. If you'd read that post, you would also have seen this:

Surely Calpundit's joy at Polanski's win is based on the willingness to acknowledge that a depraved bastard can create great art, and that we should be willing to celebrate that art regardless of whether the creator is a bastard or not.

Similarly, if Kazan's work deserves honor, the worthiness or otherwise of his outside political activity is irrelevant. "The guy who fought the Nazis" wasn't "deserving of some recognition" if that recognition was an honorary Oscar. It's the guy who made good movies who deserved the Oscar. The Nazis are not part of that equation.

(And by the way: no, I don't think a committee that investigated suspected Nazis the way that HUAC investigated suspected Communists would be a good idea. It would have destroyed our freedom in the name of security, and discredited a worthy cause in the process, the way HUAC actually did, the way Joe McCarthy did, the way Bush and Ashcroft are doing.)

On the substantive point, all I can say is that your original post did not seem to leave room even for token recognition of an occasional non-leftist. All I know about Alan Colmes is that he seems to be on Fox to be booed at. People did boo Kazan's Oscar, but that's not why he was there.

Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2003, 02:55 PM:

No, I haven't read the actual testimony.

I've read a recent account of the woman's current opinion on the matter. I'm sorry, Gary, that you're so upset that I took this woman's word that Polanski hadn't harmed her and thus should not be punished. Lenny, thanks for speaking up for me.

Doug Rivers ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2003, 03:12 PM:

Simon, I agree w/you on the merit principal but the point is Kazan was attacked and many in the entertainment community wanted to deny him a merit based award precisely because of politics. And for a while, it sure looked doubtful he would get his award.

I'm not sure what evil HUAC did. By the way, I guess you know that HUAC was founded to investigate pro-Nazis and that one of its founders, Congressman Samuel Dickstein (D-NY) was in fact a Stalinist agent. It only started chasing commies after chairmanship transferred to a conservative Democrat. And it did a piss poor job of that. Alger Hiss and his buds were practically (hyperbole alert!) backing hammer and sickle dump trucks up to the door to haul away secret government documents and Sgt Schultz HUAC knew/saw nothing.

Tux and Avraam. Its just my opinion (that the entertainment industry is overwhelmingly liberal)- not saying otherwise. Can't prove it you. Specifics would be anecdotal as yours would be to me. And we could probably anecdote each other to death. My ex: how many nuanced-sympathetic movies have we seen made recently about an activist, pro-Nazi journalist - we wouldn't of course, but then there's John Reed - extra-ordinary). West Wing. Besides, we never agree on what is and isn't biased.

Avraam. Key words there are "in my mind". I'm actually talking about my emotional response to Hollywood. I'd love to see a bunch of conservative movies. I'd love to see viewpoints argued openly and honestly. They aren't. They are invariably skewed in my view to one side. I'd like to see the flip side movie of Erin Brockovich. I'd love to see a sympathetic movie about Whittaker Chambers. Or a movie on par with Schindler's List about the Maoist or Stalinist holocausts. Etc. Etc. I won't, in my lifetime. What I'll get is the occasional action flick with Ahnuld or Bruce or somebody offing PC terrorists, and that's your ideological balance, baby.

Simon ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2003, 05:31 PM:

Doug: Yes, Kazan was criticized and so was the Academy: but they actually went ahead and gave him the award. That should count for something against dismissal of the Academy's honors for being purely leftist.

If you don't know what harm HUAC did, you could read up about it.

Roz Kaveney ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2003, 05:31 PM:

Doug Rivers said:
'I'd like to see the flip side movie of Erin Brockovich.'

Hmm, how's that again? A film about a heroic industrialist who does his bit for economic growth in spite of the tragic realization that there will be collateral damage in the shape of unavoidable cancers among the populace, who is brought down by unqualified legal assistants chipping away at his self-respect?

Or is that not what was meant?

Doug Rivers ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2003, 05:54 PM:

Simon, your last point about Kazan is probably right. Doesn't change my overall view of Hollywood, though. Also,I know a bit about HUAC and, I think, overall, that their problem was that they didn't do enough - they didn't expose a lot of the spies that we now know were out there, thanks to Venona and the opening of Soviet archives (HUAC, of course, a different critter than the tail gunner).
Hey Roz, its my Hollywood fantasy: A contrarian take on the unquestioned Hollywood saint. After that, we'd give Jimmy Carter the once over. I think I would feel the kind of emotion cited about Moore at the start of this thread.

C.J. Colucci ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2003, 05:55 PM:

Again, this unaccountable obsession with the politics of Hollywood hacks and hams. I just don't get it, but what the hell, I'll join the party.
Elia Kazan richly deserved an Oscar, not for his politics, but for his distinguished cinematic career, which his political choices (to name hapless, harmless hacks and hams who had attended the wrong meetings in the 1930s) ALLOWED HIM TO HAVE. Some objected to his Oscar, which he got anyway, out of sympathy for those whose political choices kept them from having a shot at such a career. As between someone who maybe doesn't get a statue and someone who surely doesn't get a career, it's not obvious to me that the former is more persecuted than the latter.
Almost by definition, big-time Hollywood types are deplorable human beings, wherever they stand on the political spectrum. End of story.
By the way, no conservative movies? What about most cop and cowboy flicks? Most war movies? Most action shoot-em-ups? Most spy movies? Most Jesus/Moses/St. Fill-In-The-Blank movies? Most Arnold/Bruce/Clint movies? (And I don't even know what Clint's actual politics are.) Oh, maybe you're just counting the good ones.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2003, 10:15 PM:

Or maybe the flip side of Erin Brockovich is Julia Roberts seen from the back?

buckfush ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2003, 11:24 PM:

We're fighting for Bush's re-election
We're Bush's Republican guard
We fight and die in the fields while
Bush checks his White House wine selection
and we fall on the ground very hard.

We're fighting for Bush's re-election
so Republicans can prey on the poor
Our blood spills on the ground
so blacks can't get in the door.
We shoot Iraqis and wear our khakis
So Republicans can offend police and fire unions.

We let Bush pose with us
because in 2004 we want him back
The retired vets can fend for themselves
because now we're Bush's elves
fighting for the Republican Party.

We're the Bush Republican guard
we'll shill against the Democrats very hard.
We know Bush lost the Pentagon and the Towers
but today it doesn't matter
for we spill our brain matter
and Bush will get the glory
and our bodies will fall in a mess very gory.

We're Bush's Republican Guard.

We Republicans have the press embedded
The constitution we have shredded
Our religious nuts will harass the poor
we'll never let liberals back in the door
Roosevelt's dead and buried
Reagans our new tribune
don't you just love our new catchy tune?

.


Tell congress you don't support the Bush/Republican agenda.

Browse http://www.boycott-republicans.com

The George W Bush 2000 Stolen Election Commemorative Coin.

http://www.stolenelectioncoin.com

Doug Rivers ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2003, 09:31 AM:

C.J., Don't want to prolong this and I know I won't convince you, but the mere fact that there are war movies, etc. does not mean they are conservative. (After all WWII was a fight in alliance with a communits superpower against fascism.) For me a conservative movie would mean "cooking the books" with an ideological message the way liberal movies do. It would mean taking disreputable rightist figures and interpreting them in a nuanced, almost heroic fashion ala Stalinist John Reed. It would mean for decades having the bad guys, instead of Christians and businessmen, be leftist college professors, reporters, and trial lawyers. It would mean giving Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton the Nixon treatment. I could go on.

Roz Kaveney ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2003, 10:04 AM:

There is a very good case for disliking John Reed who deliberately turned a blind eye to aspects of the Soviet regime that were obvious to e.g. Emma Goldman at the time. And she had no qualms about rocking the boat by mentioning them in public.

It is, however, not on to refer to Reed as Stalinist given that he died before Stalin's accession to the Soviet leadership and none of us can know, with certainty, what his reaction to the events of the 1930s would have been. A man cannot be held accountable for crimes committed after his death - only for those which he countenanced when alive. In the case of Reed, these were significant.

But only if we are prepared to be judged by the same standard.

Reed after all was engaged in an act of weighing. Weighing the bloodshed of the Bolshevik Revolution and the Civil War against the bloodshed of the First World War, the famines and epidemics and ethnic massacres that followed in its wake, the collateral damage of heavy industry, the Mexican civil war and so on. All of which he regarded as the outcome of the capitalist system whose overthrow he desired, and which he saw as likely to be achieved by the Bolsheviks.

We all of us make these calculations, left, right and centre. We are all prepared to some degree to fight to the last drop of someone else's blood. And Reed was at least not an armchair radical - he put himself in danger for the causes in which he believed.

There is genuine heroism on the Right, of course there is - sometimes. I respect all the people who smuggled philosophy texts into Cold War Czechoslovakia whether they were left of centre like those of my friends who were involved, or right of centre like Roger Scruton. The point of my sarcasm is that, if the Right wants its story told, it needs to pick those heroes about whom a heroic story can be constructed.

Meanwhile, I think we have had a serious attempt to construct a dark myth of Clinton for the last few years. I am no great fan of a man I regard as having sold much of what was once good about him in order to become Presidential timber - but let us be clear that the reason why Nixon works as charismatic Richard III figure and Clinton does not is that Nixon actually did some of those things.

C.J. Colucci ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2003, 10:07 AM:

Doug:
Of course a war/cop/cowboy/etc. movie isn't necessarily conservative simply because of its genre. But the criteria you set out for defining a movie as conservative are exactly the ones I had in mind, and fit so many movies I grew up seeing -- and see to this day -- that even to start naming names (pun wasn't initially intended, but I'll go with it) would be like having a fish identify specific water.

Simon ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2003, 12:15 PM:

Doug, the difference between McCarthy and HUAC is this: McCarthy, who never actually found any Communists, took innocent people and turned them into martyrs. HUAC, by using similar brutal tactics, managed to take actual Communist subversives (as well as plenty more innocents) and turn them into martyrs, honored by people with no Communist sympathies. Surely this is an appalling achievement, and shows the danger of pursuing any such agenda with too much vigor and not enough sense. HUAC was a bigger assault on American freedom and values than all the spies they caught put together.

The idea that a fair return would require giving Carter and Clinton "the Nixon treatment" ignores the fact that Carter and Clinton, both widely ridiculed and abused, didn't do anything approaching what Nixon did that generated that treatment. (The wide-spread claim of Clinton's corruption etc. is one of the Big Lies of our time.)

And where is "the Nixon treatment" in feature films? Stone's "Nixon" is a tragedy that's quite respectful and understanding of the man. "Dick" is a farce that pokes as much fun at Woodward & Bernstein as anyone else. Neither came out until years later, so it's too early to be looking for the tragedies on Clinton; and Jimmy Carter, frankly, doesn't merit a feature film any more than do Warren G. Harding or Gerald R. Ford.

Doug Rivers ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2003, 04:50 PM:

Roz,

Well said. You're right about the Stalinist comment. I should have probably used Leninist.My point, though, is that we do know now and have known for a long time about the unimaginable horrors that sprang from Nov. 1917, yet we make a movie sympathetic to a significant co-ideologist, apologist for that movement. Reed isn't so important, himself, but what about those millions upon millions murdered in his movement's name. I have always been puzzled by the lack of outrage - from all quarters.

I agree that elements of the right went overboard on Clinton (particularly with regard the Stone-esque like murder conspiracy theories), but disgree completely about Nixon. I actually think he was a great man (stop laughing!). Also there has been as much blind adulation of Clinton and Carter as there has been hate of Clinton (not so much Carter).

CJ

Don't know when you grew up, but I have seen very few movies with conservative "soul" over the last couple of decades decades. I'd be interested to know two recent movies you consider conservative.

Simon,

I don't agree that McCarthy did all that much harm. Of course, modern historical consensus is wih your position, but I believe he mostly overstated (like on Lattimore - who does not meet my definition of "innocent" either) and was careless with numbers and definitions (security risks vs. spies). The most harm he did in my view was politicizing the security risk problem which spurred political cover ups of the same (Tydings)and thereby let the problem continue. HUAC was a Democratic creature originated to get suspected pro-Nazi spies, but then changed when it was perceived there was a greater problem from commies. They screwed up at times, but they were chasing history's bad guys.

re Nixon. You admit he's gotten the "treatment" but that he deserved it. Please tell me in simple words what it was Nixon did that was so horrible and try to differentiate it from what other presidents/politicians in power have done and still do. I have not watched Stone's Nixon, but otherwise I have yet to ever see a sympathetic portrayal of the man. He's always the one-dimensional,evil unshaven crook.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2003, 05:11 PM:

A comment I posted here last night got caught in the move. Try to imagine it appearing further upthread:

Okay, who's up for explaining HUAC to Doug? I'll settle for a few apposite URLs.

Vicki, thank you for being so calm and understanding about Farber's rudeness.

Barry, you don't know whether or not that was shtick on Doggo's part.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2003, 05:19 PM:

Doug, Nixon was a complex man, but he was also a crook with a lot of bad deeds to his credit, and I'm not talking about the kind of bad deeds that any national-level politician accumulates. He really was something out of the ordinary.

If you're interested in the subject, I recommend starting with Garry Wills' Nixon Agonistes.

Simon ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2003, 05:28 PM:

Doug wrote,

Please tell me in simple words what it was Nixon did that was so horrible

Read the Articles of Impeachment reported by the House Judiciary Committee in August 1974.

and try to differentiate it from what other presidents/politicians in power have done and still do.

Compare them with Clinton's Articles of Impeachment.

Simon ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2003, 05:37 PM:

Oh, and rent Stone's "Nixon". It's a good film, though a bit over-wrought with the conspiracy stuff that's Stone's specialty. It doesn't try to excuse Nixon's actions (for that, you'd need to visit the Nixon presidential museum, a pocket universe unto itself where Sam Ervin is the principal villain of Watergate), but it does try to understand the man and make him human.

I despise Nixon's misdeeds with a mighty passion. But I also agree with you that he had greatness. Many of his acts as President were quite admirable, but they're mostly the ones that would drive Republicans to apoplexy were a Democratic President to do them nowadays. (Some drove a few Republicans to apoplexy at the time, such as his visit to China.)

While you're asking me to dig up evidence for my position, here's some requests for you:

1) Show us the "blind adulation" for Clinton. I don't know any Democrats or liberals who don't think that Clinton was a greatly talented man who was a severe disappointment, both in his policies and for handing his political enemies so much ammunition. (This is roughly what most Republicans I know think of Nixon.)

2) Show us any adulation at all for Carter's presidency.

Roz Kaveney ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 03:29 AM:

The interesting thing about Reed, and the thing that made 'Reds' an interesting film if not a great or a good one, is that he is so American. He wanted to do good and thought he had found a way to do it. He was one of your golden boys and signing up for the Bolshevik crusade was the way in which this manifested itself.

I think that is a cautionary tale for our times.

Carter was not a very good President; he is however quite good at being an ex-President, which involves a different set of skills.

Doug Rivers ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 10:20 AM:

Teresa and Simon, You both make my point rather well re the Trickster. Why not tell me IN YOUR OWN WORDS what it was that Nixon did that so horrible. If it was so clearly horrible, you should be able to nail it right away and succinctly. Jimmy Carter gave us a plus 20 misery index (but see below). Clinton lied under oath and had "sex" with an intern in the oval office. My answer would be that Nixon used his presidential power to cover up the investigation of a crime. That ain't good, but it also doesn't seem to me to set Nixon that far apart from other presidential transgressors that don't get the "treatment".

I know about HUAC and McCarthyism. Again, did you know HUAC was originated by New Dealers to hunt Nazi spies and that one of its founders was an actual grade A certified commie spy? You can criticize HUAC a ton and some of it may well be warranted, but again there was clearly a significant security/espionage problem, and the Democratic administration(s), despite receiving many warnings, were doing very little about it. At least HUAC was trying to fight the totalitarians.

I live in Atlanta and the establishment and media here, especially the paper, love Clinton and really really really love Carter. He can do no wrong. We get daily lessons in Jimmuh's pious greatness. On Clinton, I do hear some irrational garbage from the right wing, but from the main stream media and almost all major papers, I hear/see adulation. I would expect that in some areas a little further to the left than I normally frequent, he's regarded less favorably - but no doubt a man with all the right enemies.

Roz, taking off my sometime political blinders, I sometimes wonder if the oil embargo had not been going on, would history have been kinder to Carter the president. But then that begs the huge question of whether presidents really make that much of a difference as individuals, given our checks and balances system of government. Everything seems to get filtered a bit -homogenized.

Re-Reed. No golden boy in my book. Good intentions don't cut it. Nazi's THOUGHT they were doing good. The Reed's of the world enable the bad guys. The hero's are those main streamers who are patient, work hard, generally play by the rules and thereby help the condition of life for all to slowly but surely improve.

C.J. Colucci ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 11:23 AM:

Doug:
I grew up in rock-ribbed conservative Republican central New York. Not that that matters because they invented TV some time before I was born and, like everyone else, I saw most of my movies on television in the days of three nationwide networks. (I have fond memories of falling in love with Lauren Bacall at the tender age of 11 and behaving like a moonstruck, prepubescent schoolboy when I met her 20 years later) As for a listing of movies with "conservative 'soul,'" you've upped the ante because I don't know what "conservative 'soul'" is when applied to movies. Most movies, whatever their genre and whatever superficial political content they have, are hack work lacking anything I would dignify with the word "soul." Anyone doing soulless hack work for a commercial audience (some of which can be exquisitely well-crafted) will default to whatever conventional pieties actually sell among the viewing public in, say, rock-ribbed conservative Republican Central New York, which introduces an inherent conservative bias. Movies with "soul" of any kind are rare, and although I don't care to investigate it, there may be an inherent liberal bias in "soulful" movies and television, either because the producers of "soulful" stuff are disproportionately liberal or because that vision lends itself more to "soulful" stuff. Imagine a seriously conservative version of "The West Wing." It would likely be wretched on purely dramatic grounds. How do you write snappy dialogue, not agitprop, about tax cuts for the rich and deregulation of polluters?
Last point (promise): movies and TV shows compete in the marketplace in good conservative, laissez-faire fashion. Consumers of widely varying politics vote with their tickets and remotes. Unless you have a mechanism to account for a market failure, the tastes and prejudices of the producers (presumed to be biased lefties) should yield to the demands of the consumers (presumed to be something else). In the absence of market failure, either the consumer is more liberal or the product is more conservative than the Hollywood Left discussion presupposes.

Simon ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 12:07 PM:

Doug, I see two reasons you might be asking us to describe Nixon's venality in our own words.

Either you acknowledge it, and just want to know how we'd put it (which given the context seems doubtful); or else you're genuinely puzzled by that claim and actually want to know.

If it's the latter, then the official government documents, books and articles by skilled professional writers, and so forth, can lay out the case a lot more clearly than I could; and if, 30 years after Watergate and 55 years after Nixon became prominent, you genuinely believe Nixon did nothing particularly wrong by politicians' standards, there is nothing that could be said at brief length to convince you otherwise. It would take a book, at least. Start with the Articles of Impeachment.

If, instead, you don't need or want to know, and just want to hear what we say, then all I can reply is, PNH's comment section isn't a course in public speaking. You're not giving us a @#!&ing test.

You've mentioned the origins of HUAC more than once. I fail to see its relevance. "Democrats did it" is not a rebuttal to liberal charges of venality, especially not when you're talking about the period long before Democrat = liberal. I'm a liberal, and in 1940 I would probably have supported Willkie.

And while you're making demands, show us some of this adulation you're talking about. I haven't seen a single article of undiluted adulation for Clinton since about 1994, and would rather like to read some: it might make me feel better. As for the praise of Carter, I bet it's all about his post-presidential activities, isn't it? Like Herbert Hoover's, Carter's presidency is generally considered a blot on an otherwise distinguished career.

Simon ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 12:17 PM:

Oh, and "At least HUAC was trying to fight the totalitarians" is a truly sorry form of argument. It's probably in the list of logical fallacies somewhere.

I already addressed this point, when I wrote:

HUAC, by using similar brutal tactics [to McCarthy's] managed to take actual Communist subversives (as well as plenty more innocents) and turn them into martyrs, honored by people with no Communist sympathies. Surely this is an appalling achievement, and shows the danger of pursuing any such agenda with too much vigor and not enough sense. HUAC was a bigger assault on American freedom and values than all the spies they caught put together.

Let me put it another way:

On occasion, an innocent driver is struck and killed by a fugitive driver fleeing from police pursuit hot on his tail. This raises the question of under what circumstances the police should continue hot pursuit.

In these cases, there's no question that the fugitive is a bad guy. The police were undoubtably right to initiate pursuit. Yet even the police themselves acknowledge that sometimes it's more dangerous to continue than it would be to let the guy get away.

I never hear the police, in these circumstances, brush off the death of the innocent driver with, "At least we were trying to catch the criminal."

spacewaitress ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 12:30 PM:

I advise that Electrolite readers read the anthology "Alternate Presidents", edited by Mike Resnick, Tor Books, 1992.

Okay, so this is way late and way off-topic, but has Tor considered putting out any of its books in e-book form? (besides Cory Doctorow's book, of course). The first thing I did upon reading this comment was go to fictionwise.com to see if they had it available there, which they do not. I could get the book, cheap, from Amazon, but I've gotten pretty spoiled by e-books. (I want to read everything in e-book form, and I want it RIGHT NOW!)

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 01:18 PM:

Doug:

What Simon said.

Nixon's misdeeds are a feature of the American political landscape that's about as hard to miss as Pike's Peak.

Imagine, then, that we're both standing at the foot of the mountain, and you're telling me you have trouble believing Pike's Peak exists. Under the circumstances, I'm inclined to feel that the appropriate response is not that I should climb the mountain by way of testing the proposition, but rather that you should.

I suggest starting with the Garry Wills.

Doug Rivers ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 02:37 PM:

CJ

You know, I agree with you about the marketplace remark. I'm not saying anybody should force Hollywood to change if the market won't and (paradoxically, I guess) and I think most consumers are apolitical about the movies and stars they like. Lets just say I wish there was a (small) steady diet of non-liberal, non-leftist-ethos movies out there for us true-believing troglodytes. Probably "soul' was not the best word, but I would say Costa Gavras movies have leftist soul, for instance.

Simon,

I seem to be irritating you and don't mean to. I refuse to get personal, even electronically. No "demands". I just wanted to hear, off the cuff, in your own and/or Teresa's very brief words, what it was Nixon did that was so horrible. I gave you what my answer would be to that question. My point being that most people believe Nixon was bad, but really don't know what he did or didn't do.

As regards HUAC and your driver analogy, I believe the drunken driver who murders another innocent driver is a much greater problem for society than the policeman who, one time out of whatever, has an accident trying to catch him. Society, of course, has to weigh the cost/benefit of not chasing and letting the drunken driver possibly kill again, versus the accident potential of the chase. I would guess that's not an easy one to resolve. Likewise, IMO the espionage problem was worse than the errors and excesses committed by HUAC in trying to correct it.

Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 02:54 PM:

Yes, it's become difficult to say how "bad" Nixon was, because the person we have as "President" now is so much worse, in all respects, that I actually would like to have Nixon back.

Jack Womack ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 03:15 PM:

Nixon's misdeeds, well let's see what I can remember off the top:

1)accessory after the fact (let's be generous)to political burglary i.e. the Watergate break-in;
2) conspiracy, re: the aforementioned;
3) obstruction of justice, re: the aforementioned;
4) destruction of evidence re: the aforementioned;
5) illegal use of the CIA re: the aforementioned;
6) illegal use of the FBI, re: the aforementioned;
7) illegal use of the IRS re: certain of those on the administration's famed enemies list.

And let's not forget

8) tax fraud, personal

That covers, well, some part of the domestic, mostly-Watergate-related offenses. Misdeeds relating to Cambodia et. al. -- well, you get the idea.

Simon ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 05:06 PM:

Doug wrote,

I just wanted to hear, off the cuff, in your own and/or Teresa's very brief words, what it was Nixon did that was so horrible. I gave you what my answer would be to that question. My point being that most people believe Nixon was bad, but really don't know what he did or didn't do.

As I said before, there is no test in this class. If Jack wants to take it anyway, that's his business. I cannot evade the feeling that you just want me to write something you can pick at. Go pick at Garry Wills and the House Judiciary Committee.

Whether you want to call your statements demands or not, your evasion of my reciprocal demands/requests/whatever is noted.

I believe the drunken driver who murders another innocent driver is a much greater problem for society than the policeman who, one time out of whatever, has an accident trying to catch him.

That's not exactly the scenario I was describing, and this changes the balance considerably.

I was describing not a drunk driver (who would be driving dangerously even if not being pursued, and is more likely to stop when pursued), but a criminal, e.g. a robber, in direct flight from the police, who happens to be executing that flight in a car (who is presumably only driving dangerously to elude pursuit - if he were not being pursued, he would not wish to draw attention to himself).

And the person having the accident was not the policeman, but the criminal, who is less well trained in this sort of driving and thus more likely to have the accident.

The point I was making was that the police are in full agreement that there comes a point where it is more dangerous to pursue the fleeing criminal than it is to let him get away. The only question is, how to decide (in the heat of pursuit, before an accident actually occurs) when that point has been reached.

I maintain that a similar point can be reached in the vehemence of investigative pursuit of subversives. If you agree that such a point exists, we have no real argument.

You believe that HUAC did not reach that point. I believe a study of their actual methods and results would prove otherwise. Most people would agree with me. Fortunately.

Doug Rivers ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 06:02 PM:

Simon, I do, of course, believe there are points where the ends do not justify the means - chasng spies or whatever. And I do agree more people agree w/you re HUAC and undoubtedly Nixon.

Mr. Womack, re 1-7, good answer, but is that hugely different from what other president's have done?
Clinton used the IRS to harass political opponents.

C.J. Colucci ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 06:21 PM:

Doug:
I think we can reach agreement here. I want people to be able to get whatever kinds of movies they want (snuff films and kiddie porn excepted). I myself like sleazy movies so bad they're good, but I don't find many. If you want a conservative Costa-Gavras, I hope you get a bunch of them. Let a thousand flowers bloom.
Why we don't have that many of them is an interesting question. It seems to me that the possibilities are:
1. Hollywood lefties prevent them from being made;
2. Not enough people want them;
3. It's hard to write good scripts from that viewpoint.
I would agree with anyone who says (1) is deplorable. Whether it's true would be an interesting study, but there are enough alternative production sources these days, e.g., the PAX Network and the Murdoch interests, that if that's the problem it will not be one long. If it's either of the other two, I don't know what can be done about it.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 09:17 PM:

Spacewaitress: We publish lots of our books in e-book form. I believe you can buy many of them on the Barnes & Noble web site.

It's not a big business for us (or anyone else), but we do publish them.

ALTERNATE PRESIDENTS, now, is rather too far in the past to have been published as an eBook. Although it is a book I'm pleased to have published. (I believe the cover idea--a grinning Thomas Dewey holding up a newspaper reading TRUMAN DEFEATS DEWEY--was come up with by me and Teresa simultaneously.)

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 09:19 PM:

Lovely, Jack. Thank you.

Doug, you said:

but is that hugely different from what other presidents have done?

Are you asking that rhetorically, or do you truly not know? If the former, the answer is yes; of course it's different. If it's the latter, I have some further book recommendations for you.

Clinton used the IRS to harass political opponents.

No. He was accused of that. It's an important difference.

Simon ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2003, 09:34 PM:

Doug wrote, "good answer, but is that hugely different from what other president's [si'c] have done?"

I knew it.

He just wanted somebody to say something so that he could pick at it.

My original instinct was right: I have no interest, 30 years after the fact, in writing new and original essays on Nixon's venality.

Mr. Womack, it's your call.

Doug Rivers ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2003, 10:16 AM:

Teresa,
Since you ask. Re rhetorically, etc.: A little of both. I'm no Nixon expert, period. My view is that, in a nutshell, Nixon's really big crime was using the power of his office to hinder an investigation. Like I said, that's flat out wrong; but is it a historical watershed wrong? Don't you think that other presidents and politicians have used the power of their office, illicitly, for personal benefit of some sort. If Nixon's magnitude of sin was greater, was it that much greater (to warrant historical oppobrium)?

CJ

I agree with the libertarian approach also. I love bad old movies (a sleeper for you: check out the early fifties western called Slaughter Trail, not so sleazy, but really bad in a unique way - you'll see). My experience (and frustration) is that conservatives are generally ignorant of and inept within the entertainment field. We pissed and moaned about perceived liberal media bias for decades and then Fox came along and, whoops, we could create our own (perceived) biased network. We could do the same in movies, but I bet we don't get there. Myself, I would be quite happy with good and bad, liberal and conservative movies pouring out of Hollywood's sausage maker.

Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2003, 06:45 PM:

Doug,

Nixon used his office to hinder the investigation of a crime that was committed in order to help him stay in power. It wasn't just any random burglary--why on earth would any president care about a random "third-rate burglary", as Nixon's supporters called it?

Do you really not understand why it's a problem that the head of government--and thus the man to whom the Attorney General reports--was using the power of his office to block the investigation of a crime?

doggo ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2003, 11:53 AM:

But wait, there's more on Moore:

http://www.cwob.com/movies/oscars2003/bfc.html

http://www.tvbarn.com/archives/010060.html