Wednesday, December 2, 2009


This has been, in my humble opinion, an amazing decade for American movies. US cinema has woken up in a way I can't even fully describe - suddenly we have a culture that is producing dreadfully honest films about disappointment, loss, and pain.. and they're comedies for children. The best science fiction blockbusters don't feel like they were written by 10th-graders, the best dramas are less turgid, and the best comedies offer perspective, not escapism. Below are ten of my favorite movies from each year of the decade, followed by honorable mention candidates. I'll try to update this later with what I think went so right so often, but for now, I'll let the list speak for itself.

Best in Show
Chicken Run
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Wonder Boys
High Fidelity

Gosford Park
Mulholland Drive
Donnie Darko
Black Hawk Down
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
The Royal Tenenbaums
In the Bedroom
The Lord of the Rings

Catch Me If You Can
Spirited Away
Punch-Drunk Love
Igby Goes Down
Minority Report
The Ring
The Two Towers
Gangs of New York

A Mighty Wind
Down With Love
Finding Nemo
28 Days Later
Mystic River
Return of the King
Lost in Translation
The Station Agent

Shawn of the Dead
The Aviator
Bad Education
The Bourne Supremacy
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The Incredibles
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
Spider-Man 2

The 40-Year-Old Virgin
The Constant Gardener
Good Night and Good Luck
Match Point
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit
The Squid and the Whale
War of the Worlds

Blood Diamond
Children of Men
The Departed
The Illusionist
Little Children
Little Miss Sunshine
Pan's Labyrinth
A Scanner Darkly
United 93

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Knocked Up
Lake of Fire
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

The Dark Knight
Gran Torino
Hellboy II
In Bruges
Iron Man
Rachel Getting Married
Tropic Thunder
The Wrestler

Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Hurt Locker
Up in the Air
A Serious Man
Star Trek
District 9
Where the Wild Things Are

Hon Mention:
2000 - Snatch
2001 - Legally Blonde, Enigma, The Others, Josie and the Pussycats, Monsters Inc.
2002 - Big Trouble, Undercover Brother, The Mothman Prophecies, Blade II, Signs
2003 - The Matrix Reloaded, X2, Hulk, The Matrix Revolutions
2004 - Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Howl's Moving Castle, Kung Fu Hustle, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
2005 - Batman Begins, Murderball, Cache, the Descent, a History of Violence, King Kong
2006 - Mission: Impossible III, Over the Hedge, a Prairie Home Companion, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Apocalypto, Clerks II
2007 - 3:10 to Yuma, Beowulf, Blades of Glory, Charlie Wilson's War, Gone Baby Gone, Planet Terror, In the Valley of Elah, The King of Kong, Rocket Science, the Simpsons Movie, Superbad, Surf's Up, Sweeney Todd, Transformers, The Bourne Ultimatum, Death Proof, Eastern Promises, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Mist, Atonement
2008 - Appaloosa, Be Kind Rewind, Cloverfield, Defiance, Hancock, Kung Fu Panda, Last Chance Harvey, Redbelt, Zack and Miri Make a Porno
2009 - Extract, Jennifer's Body, Zombieland, Drag Me to Hell, Paranormal Activity, Duplicity, In the Loop, Inglourious Basterds


For a guy who claims to love quaint little Yankee towns, Stephen King sure has ravaged a lot of them. Chester's Mill, the setting of King's new novel, "Under the Dome," seems pleasant enough, but it sits in northern Maine not far from Castle Rock (death by dynamite), Jerusalem's Lot (arson) and Derry (monsters) - a fact that does not bode well for its survival.

Newsday - 11/5

Monday, October 5, 2009


Mahida's Extra Key to Heaven" belongs to a line of vaguely political plays that laud man's basic secular goodness and lament his tendency toward faith, conflating Jesus freaks with Muslim terrorists and mourning gentle humanism. At opposite ends of the cultural spectra are Edna and Thomas, a conservative American homemaker and her flighty artist son; and Mahida and Ramin, a liberal Iranian studying in the U.S. and her fanatical brother. Finely tuned perfs and nuanced direction from Will Pomerantz give the play some excellent textures, but what good is theater that presents the audience with all its favorite opinions?

Daily Variety - 9/29/09


You can barely hear Colman Domingo over his shirt -- a skintight, pastel plaid number at which he plucks while he explains his love of thrift stores. "You can't keep me out of the motherfuckers," he crows, striking his second pose in one sentence. Shirt and show are a little thin, but the performance underneath both is so engaging that the 85-minute memory play always fits nicely, no matter how worn the coming-of-age material. Backed by a terrific soundtrack, Domingo brings the same frantic energy to "A Boy and His Soul" that made his "Passing Strange" performance so much fun.

Daily Variety - 9/24/09


It's a good thing "The Confidence Man" is free -- it requires at least three viewings. Not because it's particularly obtuse or dense, but because there are three different, dovetailing strands of playlets in simultaneous motion aboard the good ship Lilac, a rusty old tub that sits at Pier 40 on the Hudson. Nominally inspired by Herman Melville's novel of colorful steamboat passengers, Paul Cohen's gratifyingly ambitious script manifests itself less as a single play than an impressively cohesive piece of installation art about swindling, literally buoyed by the verisimilitude of its maritime setting.

Daily Variety - 9/16/09

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Who wants to read that gov't sponsored health care bill everyone's been begging for/ afraid of? If the answer is "Me! Me!" please click here. And if the answer is, "That stuff is boring! I'll find out what I think on Fox News/MSNBC later," please don't vote in the next election.
Dick Cheney likes to kill people! Seymour Hersh said it, the New York Times accidentally referenced it (read the Hersh blurb first), and then this week the Times full-on reported it. Tell me, how do you get away with creating death squads available for deployment in Nowhere, Pakistan, where they will supposedly kill terrorists but are much, much more likely to cause an international incident? How do you make them personally answerable to you, without any congressional oversight at all? How do you do that as Vice President of the United States, a position with no actual authority or influence? And why aren't you in jail, if you do manage to pull it off?

One of life's little mysteries. Choice quote from the article "'It sounds great in the movies, but when you try to do, it it’s not that easy,' said one former intelligence official. 'Where do you base them? What do they look like? Are they going to be sitting around at headquarters on 24-hour alert waiting to be called?'" Remember, Dick Cheney did not serve his country during the Vietnam War! Or any other war! Mostly, he served himself.

Truly, he is the trickiest Dick of all.
Randall Terry is the victim/subject of a not altogether sympathetic profile in the Washington Post today, which chronicles his troubled personal life and the dangers of extreme pro-lifing, which, as anyone who ever went to an Operation Rescue Rally will tell you, is a full-contact sport.
And Matt Taibbi's hair-raising article about Goldman Sachs is finally up at Rolling Stone. It is quite frightening, even if read with an appropriate skepticism (Taibbi is a brilliant writer, but he's an investigative journalist, which means he presumes people guilty until proven innocent. It's the only way to do it, and he does it well). A good, if not altogether successful rebuttal is here at reasonable libertarian Megan McArdle's blog on The Atlantic.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Former Bushie John Bolton, scrotum of the body politic, believes that Israel, yes, folks, the nation of Israel, should invade Iran, because the Tehran-only rioting over the country's stolen presidential election means that everyone in the Islamic Republic just can't wait to be annexed by Jews.

Lord knows that the Iranian people deserve (and very likely elected) a much better leader than nuke-pushing holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but there's a perception that everybody up to and including Allah was on the side of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, and that perception is - how to put this - dead wrong.

First of all, Mousavi himself is not exactly a baby-kissing peacenik. A Mousavi regime would not differ significantly with the current one except in terms of crazy race-baiting nonsense and inflammatory rhetoric, which would admittedly be an improvement. The actual heroes of all this craziness are the young people who rallied behind the slightly more liberal candidate like he was Barack Obama and not a marginally less offensive theocrat. They want a more liberal government, and they thought half a loaf was better than none until they discovered their government wouldn't even give them the half.

Secondly, there is a slim chance that Ahmadinejad actually did win the election, although we'll never know now, since nobody bothered to count the votes.

I interviewed a bunch of reporters who had just gotten out of the country, most of whom were terribly depressed about the state of things there. Interestingly, Jason Jones of "The Daily Show" had some fascinating things to say, and this is one that didn't make it into my article: "People keep asking if this is going to be the next revolution, and the answer is 'no.' The government controls the money and the guns. There's not much they can do. In 79, the whole country was involved in the revolution, and this is really divided."

Jones says that his team went to Qom and other rural areas around Iran, where they met a great many people who were not, in fact, thrilled with the possibility of a more moderate Iran and believe all the horrible anti-Semitic, anti-American rhetoric spread by the current administration. Sadly, the anti-American rhetoric is not entirely baseless - the US did in fact help to overthrow Mohammed Mossadeq, an unswervingly democratic leader who decided not to give us preferential access to his country's most precious natural resource. So we had him deposed and installed the country's most hated ruler, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. Good for us.

By remaining utterly silent until the last possible minute, President Obama, whose foreign policy, at least, is living up to his promises, managed to totally undercut the paranoia Ahmadinejad had been trying to foment about present-day American involvement in Iran. Obama has publicly slammed Ahmadinejad for persecuting his people (long after the election was actually held, of course), but that is to be expected - the main thing to do now is not to interfere further. This is an internal conflict in a country that has never been a close ally of the United States, and it is also a potential revolution with a lot of momentum behind the correct side. Agitators didn't help the Iranian people overthrow the Shah; they did that by themselves.


Times Square was filled with people yesterday, all of them carrying signs that said "TEA: TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY," "OBAMA'S CHANGE IS KILLING MY HOPE" or "OO-RAH!" but might as well have been nametags reading "Hello, My Name Is Ignerunt Savidge" (you haven't PAID Barack Obama's taxes yet, jackass. Bitch to me next year).

As various speakers began to whip the crowd into a frenzy, the attendees started to mount the stand in order to deliver anti-tax testimonials, or something.

"My husband worked hard his whole life so we could have private health insurance," said one woman before I plugged my ears and ran away. I worked hard my whole life and still have to buy my own incredibly shitty limited coverage health insurance, lady. God protect me from anything I can't fix with Claritin, Maker's Mark, and four-year-old hydrocodone.


Here in the news biz, any time immediately before a holiday or a weekend, or better yet, a holiday weekend, is considered an opportune moment for a "newsdump." This is what happens when you have a bunch of papers you legally have to release (but really don't want to), a slight case of the galloping homosexuals that could lead to the loss of your Senate seat, or an embarrassing photograph of yourself with a girl who told you she was eighteen.

So what happens the Friday after Michael Jackson dies, a few days before the 4th of July, and amusingly stupid Governor Mark Sanford is busy telling everyone who'll listen about his affair with an Argentinian reporter?

Remember, today is Thursday. Let's see what happens tomorrow, when most reporters are off.


Kim Jong-Il, do you WANT the Pentagon to turn Pyongyang into a smoking crater?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Pic via Gawker

Here's a problem: leech-like O'Reilly Factor producer Jesse Watters snuck into the GE shareholders' meeting to hassle CEO Jeff Immelt about the leftward slant of MSNBC. Meeting attendees, some presumably egged on by Fox, some not, joined in the tirade, slamming the cable network for boosting the president. It's unclear how much of the screaming was News Corp in origin, but the point is actually a quasi-valid one: MSNBC is a liberal network supporting a president who may give its parent company a heaping helping of federal money.

On the other hand, Fox News is an organization that wouldn't know journalistic ethics if they danced a kickline through the newsroom.

The problem here is less that no one is listening to these bozos and more that people are only hearing ridiculous "Obama is a Marxist" conspiracy theories from halfwits and scaremongers, while avoiding the actual conflicts of interest that stand to harm you, me, and everyone we know.

So here it is, in small words that everyone knows: The people with the money will fuck you.

Simplistic? Possibly. But if I hear another conservative wax rhapsodic about the good old days of the Reagan Administration, I'm going to spam everyone I know with copies of this. The world is not better when we trust the rich to give more money to their workers out of noblesse oblige. Read a Dickens novel.

The right used to know that, sort of, although their love of a literally demented cowboy actor blinded them to some of the finer points. Now, though they only seem to get angry when somebody in the government tries to give money to poor people. The Obama bailout/budget is populist to the max: it creates blue-collar jobs, gives money to the needy, and cuts taxes on everybody but the extraordinarily rich... and yet we now have "tea parties" in which people who voted for George Bush twice run around screaming about government spending because Newt Gingrich told them to.

And conservatives continue to whine about tax hikes, which are not in fact happening, and how the government is usurping the role of private charities and secularizing the nonprofit world.

That last one really gets my goat: "The government should not give money to poor people; it should let religious organizations take care of that." Why, because you've done such a shit-hot job of it up to now?

I wish to Christ someone would argue with me about this stuff, but everyone is zonked out on the Swine Flu, of which there have been a whopping ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-TWO (mostly nonfatal) CASES WORLDWIDE!!!! I've also been hearing about a deadly disease called CANCER, rumored to be affecting people in the MILLIONS! WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE, LIKE, NOW!

Here, America, buy one of these and use it to get a grip. Then focus on the pork, not the swine.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


pic from "Videodrome," copyright NBC/Universal

Movie people, rejoice: An interview with David Cronenberg, director of movies from total awesome schlock horror like "Scanners" to Oscar-y gangster pics like "Eastern Promises," which opened a couple of days before this interview was conducted. (there are also the flicks like "Videodrome," now unwisely being remade, that are somewhere in between) There's a feature by me floating around on the Variety website that uses snippets of this interview and was cut extensively; the all-David-all-the-time version is much more interesting.

So, I was watching the featurette on History of Violence about you guys excising that one scene that looks like something from "Videodrome" or "Dead Ringers," and it seems to me that these last two films have really been a departure for you. Why is that?

Well, I don't really think it's a departure, creatively. I can see analytically that people might think that, but when you think, for example of "Dead Ringers," that's a story based on real people. "M. Butterfly" was also a story based on real people - historical occurrence - so the level of reality in those movies is actually, bizzarely, higher than this movie, in which all the characters are totally invented. So for me, creatively, it's not that different. I mean even "The Dead Zone," which did have some slightly supernatural elements, was a sort of a small town in America. You had a sheriff, just like "History of Violence," you had a family story, so I don't really think that this is all that different. I think it has more to do with the way I'm perceived in general than it has to do with any creative evolution.

I guess everybody kind of remembers "Naked Lunch" and "Videodrome."

Yeah, yeah, and "Scanners," and of course those were sort of sci-fi, bizarre movies, but I have done these other movies that intersperse with those, so I'm just jumping around. It's really a lot like business as usual, not to make it too bland, because of course it's not. Even though people for example see these movies as a kind of matched pair - and of course I understand why that might be thought - but creatively, "Eastern Promises" is completely different from "History of Violence:" It's not an American story, there are no American characters and so on, it does take place in a big city instead of a small town. So for Viggo and I, it's very, very different.

It's that guy from Lord of the Rings who throws everyone off.

And there's that, too - people say that they're Viggo fans, but they're really Aragorn fans! That's quite different.

I sort of wonder what will happen if you ever get him to play a villain for you.

Well, he sort of does in this one.

But a redeemable character.

Well, we hope so.

So what attracts you to him as an actor? Why work with him again?

Well, I like to say that with Viggo, you don't just get a solo violin, you get an entire orchestra. He brings a lot to a film that is quite extraordinary, with the depth of the research that he does. He's a photographer and a poet and a musician and a composer and a publisher as well, and he brings all of that to a project but in a very gentle, collaborative way, you know. It's just so subtle. But he does feed you things, a lot more things than maybe an ordinary actor would, and I point out particularly this movie. In the original script, tattoos were alluded to, but they weren't a big deal, they weren't a metaphor - the central metaphor that they became. And it was Viggo who discovered this book called "Russian Criminal Tattoo" and a documentary made by a friend of his named Alex Lambert that was called "The Mark of Cain." ...been developed this tattooing subculture in Russian prisons going back to Tsarist days, you know, long predating the soviet union, that has evolved, and the symbology that has evolved, and that was so fascinating it just exploded everything. Viggo basically said, "Okay, if I'm going to get tattoos, I wonder what they should be? Why do I have them?" And that research that he was doing on his own completely changed the direction of script.

You have to be pretty flexible as a director to accomodate that kind of thing.

Well, yes. I mean, yeah, I haven't been on too many other directors' sets, but it's obvious that directors can be very territorial and can feel encroached upon by actors and other members of their crew, and this is not my approach. I am very collaborative, and I'm actually very lazy, so if someone else will do a lot of the work, I'm very happy for that. But the nice thing about that is that actors do respond to that. [...] Are you still there? Ha - the plug just came out of the phone. No, I'll keep talking: I really wouldn't want my actors to feel that they had to improvise the dialogue; that's not the kind of collaboration I mean. I like to stick to the script on that level. But there are so many other things that an actor can do for you. That's why I don't do storyboards and have never been tempted to: because I'm not interested in sort of manipulating them, even through space. I want to see what how they're going to move through space: would you sit down in this scene? Would you stand at the window? Would you lie on the floor? I don't want to do that with storyboards before we've even cast the movie; I want my actor to tell me what he feels like doing and work from there. And that all works rather well, actually.

Vincent Cassel actually spoke highly of you on that topic; he said that you were really willing to let things evolve naturally in such a way that it enabled him to give more to a scene.

Sure, sure - I've never understood why you would hire brilliant actors and then tell them exactly what to do. That doesn't make sense.

There's an approach to violence that's really pioneered in your early work; a sort of implacable sense that you're making the audience watch something that's happening on screen, which you talked about in moral terms at the Eastern Promises premiere. I was wondering if you'd seen any of the films that draw on that, but in an amoral or even perhaps immoral way.

Yeah, I actually haven't seen - you mean the Hostel and Saw movies, the sort of torture films, right?


I haven't actually seen any of them, but I don't think they relate directly to what I was doing, I mean the scenes of torture in Videodrome are fleeting and sort of played for a certain reason, rather than being the subject of the movie, so I actually think that, whether these movies have been influenced by me or not, I don't think I've ever done that, nor have I ever done a slasher movie, basically.

Do you have an opinion of the trend?

Well, forgive me if I repeat myself and you've heard this, but this is a very strange time. I remember when Al Goldstein offered $50,000 to anyone who could show him a real snuff film - everybody talked about them, but nobody ever produced one. Now they're available on the internet every hour of the day or night. You can see beheadings, throat-cuttings, women being stoned to death, mostly courtesy of Muslim extremists. And that's never existed before.

Do you think it exists as entertainment?

I think that it exists to be seen, and the closeness of that - I've often been asked, in fact, I've been asked for 40 straight years, 'Do you think people are now desensitized to violence?' and so on. And I think in fact that people are more sensitized to violence than they ever were, certainly in North America, while Americans are being beheaded in countries people haven't heard of by people whose motives are not understood by most Americans, I would suggest. And you can watch that on your computer. That's never existed before. So let me say - this is very theoretical, with the caveat that we haven't even seen these movies - maybe these movies are a response to that. People often go to horror films to confront things that they are afraid of, and maybe that is the fear, now, and maybe that is a fear that needs to be exorcised by confronting it in a controlled situation. That would be a possibility, you know.

Does Eastern Promises confront those fears with its images of a culture that's very foreign and strange to most of us?

Well, I think people go to movies to live other lives. You want to get out of your own life and kind of become somebody else for a while, even if you wouldn't want to stay in that life. There's a kind of vicariousness that's a part of all art, I think. You read a good novel, you get inside somebody else's head - that's part of what attracts you to them. So, if you're going to be Nikolai, who lives a life that is fraught with danger, then I want you to experience his life as it really is. To me, that's part of my deal with the audience. In every movie you establish a certain level of reality. So if you're doing a "Bourne" movie, it's sort of a fantasy reality. You don't really believe that those car chases could really happen that way.

Or that you could kill a guy with a pencil.

Of course, you technically could kill a guy with a pencil. ... And that's completely legitimate within the reality that the film is creating. With "Eastern Promises," we're establishing a level of physical, street reality. We're saying "these guys kill each other, and when they do, sometimes it's not easy, and it's physical," and I take it very seriously. We're really talking about the destruction of human bodies.

That always struck me about you as an adaptor of Stephen King, because his work really speaks a lot about the difficulty of killing somebody.

Well, it's easy to evade that reality. When we talk about violence, though, it's easy to think about statistics coming from Iraq, and statistics coming from the tsunami and so on, but we're talking about the destruction of a body and a unique one, at that - one that will not exist again. If you're an atheist like I am, you don't have the exit of "Okay, well, I killed this guy, but he's in heaven now, so it's not really so bad."

Or burning in Hell.

Yeah, and I'm saying, "No, it is bad, because you've committed an act of absolute destruction. This creature will never exist again," and I'm kind of insisting on the physical reality of that in this movie. Literally, we're talking in the whole movie about five minutes of violence of a hundred-minute film.

But it's so overwhelming.

My reaction to that is, "And so it should be."


If I were doing a Bourne movie or something else, then it would be quite different because your agreement with the audience is different.

Tell me a little bit about The Fly: The Opera, just to completely change the subject.

Well, you know, talking about scaring yourself, that's how I do it - because I've never done it before. There are a lot of film directors from Woody Allen to Friedkin to Terry Gilliam who've been doing this, and I think part of it is that the world of opera is kind of thinking that for that art form to survive, it has to revitalize itself, and, you know, how many times can you do La Boheme?

Quite a few.

Yeah, it's already done about 800,000 times and is there a limit, well, I don't know. Looking for novelty and different approaches and so on - it's obvious that there are a lot of film directors who are intrigued by that, and almost every one of them will say, "I don't know what I'm doing." And we're right. We don't. It's so different from film. But my fallback position is that opera is not a director's medium, it is a composer's medium, and Howard Shore is the creative core of this opera, and he's composed the score, and David Henry Hwang has done the libretto. And I'm only the director, so if I screw it up, the music will still be good, and the libretto will still be good.

Do you have an approach in mind?

Oh yeah, of course, but I don't want to reveal it. I don't want to spoil it. But I am working with Dante Ferretti. He's done some of Tim Burton's films, he's done Gangs of New York, but he's also done a number of operas, so he's the guy with the most experience in terms of opera, working on this project. I have a particular approach, and in about a week, I'll be working with singers for the first time in my life, and we'll have the telepods there that we've designed, and we'll see how it all starts to work.

Will you have Placido Domingo there to help you out?

No, because he'll primarily be conducting the orchestra, and you don't get the orchestra - I've recently learned - until about two weeks before the opening of the opera. So I won't have a real orchestra to play with until then. You don't get the real singers until then either, so we'll be doing it with accompaniment pianists and understudy singers. It's all so expensive to have a 77-piece orchestra playing, so you only have your moments when you can do that. [...] It's completely different, yeah, I've been talking to my friend Atom Egoyan who's done it a few times. But I have to go now, so thank you!

Thank you. Can I ask you one more quick one?


To close, just basically because I enjoy your literary adaptations, can I ask if you've you read anything good lately?

I read a lot of stuff for Eastern Promises - no novels, but one of the books I read was called "Black Earth," which follows the development of Russia after the fall of the communism, by
Patrick Meier, and it was just really, really excellent. I highly recommend it.

That's great. Hey, thank you so much.

Thank you.

Friday, April 17, 2009


pic via Reuters

It's a bad day to be literate.

The Bush Administration's "torture memos" are pretty much what everybody knew they were - kid-glove descriptions of intense physical violence followed by despicable rationalizations of same, all delivered in that horrible "I'm sorry, Dave" tone endemic to documents written by people who tell their subordinates to shoot each other for a living.

As usual, somebody always thinks that you can excuse the brutal mistreatment of brown people, so Obama's head of intelligence has gone off-message to tell everybody that "high-value information" was extracted from the prisoners by hitting them and half-drowning them (this has been parrotted by walking arguments for atheism Karl Rove and Dick Cheney and the rest of the Insane Clown Presidency). The extreme unlikelihood of this outcome, given that the CIA was desperately trying to force its prisoners to admit that Saddam Hussein had helped Osama bin Laden attack the World Trade Center, has blinded lefty commentators to the sanest response to this assertion: who gives a rat's ass?

If we have to hold nine innocent people underwater so that the tenth tells us his friend Omar was about to drive a car bomb into the Pentagon, what exactly are we protecting? Freedom? Dignity? The equal creation of all men, to coin a phrase? You can't piss on those things and uphold them at the same time.

The problem with arguing with against Republican spin is that you have to say "NO!" immediately or suddenly you're out to liberate Iraq, not to hunt down a murderer who killed a bunch of innocent New Yorkers. That makes the "no it didn't, Karl" reaction understandable, but it does ignore the real issue: torturing people = wrong. Any people. Waterboarding somebody 183 times is wrong, no matter what he did, and did we really get better information the 183rd time than we did the 182nd? Or are the people doing the interrogating happy in their work?

Articles from the Times and the Journal linked. Read 'em and weep, and I mean that.