The Dark Knight: It's All True

Crossposted fromMY LEFT WING

Make no mistake: Heath Ledger is the star of The Dark Knight.

Everything you've heard about his performance is true, and then some; no amount of hype could possibly prepare an audience for the singular genius and perfection that is Ledger's swan song -- rightly characterised by many as on a par with James Dean's and, I would argue, far more deserving of its elevation to one of the finest performances in film history.

And forget about adding any caveats about his death upping the Ledger-Love Quotient; if he'd lived, the man would be receiving just as much attention and just as much adulation for this Herculean acting accomplishment. The tragedy of his untimely death adds only melancholic pain to the experience. That someone with such a gift, presaged by his performance in Brokeback Mountain and reaching a premature apotheosis in The Dark Knight, so obviously capable of so much, should have been wrenched away at such a moment is almost too much to bear.

News of Ledger's death upset me when it came; on seeing his name in the final credits (which elicited a deserved standing ovation from the Sunday afternoon crowd), I burst into sobs. As is so often the case, I wept not for him, but for myself -- what a desolation, what a horrifying loss. For anyone who treasures and reveres the art of acting, the closing credits of The Dark Knight will inevitably provide the background to at least a few minutes of sincere sadness.

There's more...

A Little Bit Pregnant: Free Speech in America

Crossposted fromMY LEFT WING

As a passionate (arguably extremist) left-wing ideologist, I have an admittedly reflexive tendency to regard askance anything that right-wing ideologists have to say about anything. If I open a newspaper or magazine to an editorial and see the byline of a well-known right-winger, the chances that writer will receive even a shred of benefit of the doubt from me are slim indeed. It is for that reason that I try very hard not to see the author's name when perusing editorial articles or essays.

(I've often mused that society as a whole might benefit from a measure of source anonymity when it comes to editorial writing. Imagine how much more would be demanded of our intellectual resources and imagination if we were denied the opportunity to judge first and consider second -- if at all.)

Now, for the most part, it's fairly easy to discern in the first few paragraphs the political bent of any given editorialist; easier still if one's own political beliefs and opinions contrast or coincide strongly with those of the author. Occasionally -- often enough to make it unremarkable -- I disagree with a writer whose political attitudes I share. Far less often, and thus more jarringly, every once in a while I find myself in agreement with someone whose opinions usually drive me to enraged distraction.

Such was the case on June 17th, 2008...

There's more...

Gay Marriage in California

Crossposted fromMY LEFT WING

I hope I live to see the day when the exclusions of gays from the federal, state and societal benefits and responsibilities of marriage will seem as foreign, repugnant and indefensible as did the anti-miscegenation laws of the first half of the 20th century;

I hope I live to see the day when society scorns loudly and frequently anyone who even thinks about carrying a placard proclaiming his god's loathing of people who are different from himself;

I hope I live to see the day when the insidious cover of religion no longer suffices to validate bigotry and ignorance;

I hope I live to see the day when an openly transsexual woman can walk into any shit-kicking bar in Texas and flirt with the man of her choice witH NO fear of being dragged to her death on a back road;

I hope I live to see the day when all human beings on this earth receive respect and acceptance from their fellow humans, irrespective of race, nationality, religion, sexuality, gender or appearance.

There's more...

The American Stain

Punishment in a forced labor camp
Georgia -- 1930s

Determined to bring to a blessed end my three day journey into the painful miasma explored by Douglas A. Blackmon in his extraordinary Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of African Americans from the Civil War to World War II, I chose sleep deprivation last night and read long past dawn.

I passed over not a word -- not even the Ibids in the extensive footnotes and bibliography section. Even that ostensibly dry and academic denouement had its horrors, however. I encountered citation upon citation of Congressional and federal records marking the infuriating inaction of the risibly defined protectors and defenders of the Constitution that exposed the Emancipation Proclamation (and subsequent Amendments to the Constitution regarding slavery and the role of African Americans in the United States) as the cruel joke it turned out to be for nearly a century after the ostensible "freeing of the slaves."

Nothing related to race, African Americans, American history, political "facts" or sociological issues in America will ever be the same again for me.

Perhaps I should rejoice in the fact that I am capable of being educated and instructed, of absorbing wholly new information at my advanced age of 40...

But I feel a weight upon me just now, so heavy it seems it will never be lifted; and perhaps that's as it should be. Self-congratulation for finally having attempted to learn something I ought to have sought out long ago wouldn't simply be unseemly; it would only be mildly less grotesque than that same attitude expressed by innumerable whites who still see nothing solecistic in claiming "We" fought the Civil War to end slavery, freed Europe from Hitler, defeated communism, marched for civil rights and so on.

I used to assure myself, privately, that despite the obvious shared ancestral shame of so many white Americans, my ancestors had nothing to do with that ugliness. After all, they were Irish and Scots -- northerners all, poor or working class until my mother's generation. Aside from the admittedly insidious and long-lived spectre of inveterate racism in their attitudes (which persists to this day, albeit in a milder and assuredly less overt form, in some of my mother's brothers and cousins), what evil deeds could they -- shunned and discriminated against themselves -- have perpetrated, after all? Surely my relatives and I share only the merest, microscopic percentage of the collective taint befouling all whites in America born second generation or earlier?

There's more...

Faux Outrage: A Brief Observation

crossposted fromMY LEFT WING

I'll be brief:

Here's another thing that drives me up the wall:

When one side rears its ugly head and demands that the other side, for instance, "DENOUNCE that supporter of yours!"

Politically, it's just about as disingenuous as we can get, whoever does it. Because let's face it: we get a helluva lot more political mileage out of someone NOT denouncing his outrageous supporter (say, McCain and Hagee/Parsley?) than out of his capitulation to the "pressure."

There's more...

Keith Olbermann: Much Ado About Something

Crossposted fromMY LEFT WING

Any sentient being could comprehend the collective gasp of shock that resounded through the media (and through the millions of us who remain tuned in to the ongoing Democratic primary) when Senator Hillary Clinton uttered her latest gaffe referencing the 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in an inept attempt to both avoid answering a question whose answer is obvious and to rationalise her refusal to withdraw from the Democratic campaign for its party's nomination.

By now, in fact, even people who haven't been paying attention know about Senator Clinton's most recent jawdropper. It'd be difficult not to know about it, given the avalanche of attention it's received in the past 24 hours.

I stipulate to the astonishing nature of Senator Clinton's comment. I stipulate to the propriety of calling it offensive in the extreme.

But Mr. Olbermann, to quote... well, you: You have gone too far.

There's more...

A Day That Will Live in Irony

Crossposted fromMY LEFT WING

Mildred Loving, 68:
Her landmark case made
interracial marriage legal


Mildred Loving and her husband, Richard,
shown in 1965,
had been forced to leave Virginia,
where their union was prohibited by law.

Awakening to news of the virtual certainty of Barack Obama's becoming the Democratic Presidential nominee on the same morning as to news of the death of Mildred Loving (1939 - 2008), I felt... conflicted.

For marrying the only man she ever loved, Mildred Loving paid a price: She was arrested, convicted and banished from her home state.

In the 1950s, the Commonwealth of Virginia handed down such punishments to couples whose love the state did not sanction: She was black. Her husband, Richard, was white. Their union was prohibited by law.

There's more...

In Memoriam: Donovan Barks

Also known as BeagleandTabby at MLW and  elsewhere.

The father of our one-time friend and blogging colleague, Donovan Barks, informed me last night that his son jumped to his death from the Golden Gate Bridge yesterday at approximately 3pm yesterday:

I'm sorry to tell you that Donovan is no longer with us. He jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge at 3pm today. He is at peace. For that I am thankful.

Donovan suffered from a crippling mental illness for most of his life; despite his struggles, he was known to many -- including me -- as a good friend and comrade-in-arms.

There's more...


Crossposted fromMY LEFT WING

In approximately 5 hours I'll be appearing on Fox News's The Big Story with John Gibson to "debate" Bob Beckel (Democratic "strategist" and the Walter Mondale's campaign manager in 1984, the man who famously appropriated the Wendy's slogan, "Where's the Beef") on the topic of impeachment.

I am for it, Beckel is against it.

In the interest of clarifying the arguments for impeachment, I'd like to encourage a discussion here about the NSA warrantless wiretappings and the NIE leaks, focusing on three themes:

There's more...

Live Blogging the 9/24 Protest: ACTION ALERT

So here's the deal, see...

I will be flying into Dulles at 7:15 am, September 23, camera, laptop and chutzpah in tow. My intention is to provide real-time, on-the-scene coverage for MLW of as much of the protest weekend as is humanly possible.

Over at MLW, there's a "Send MSOC to DC, 9/24" button for contributions to the cause. I've raised about half of what I think I'll need, conservatively (ugh - hate using that adverb in ANY context now).

But there's so much more that can happen. How many My Left Wingers and Kossacks and denizens of Booman, LSF, MyDD and all the rest of the Left Blogosphere are going to BE there?

And shouldn't we all be One Big Delegation - the BLOGOSPHERE contingent? Like, with SIGNS and shit?

So here's what I'm thinking...

There's more...


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