Pardon the Language

Pardon my language, but Scott Thomas Beauchamp fucked The New Republic. Although it would be easy to argue that TNR put themselves in this situation by failing to properly vet stories that were going to attract a whole lot of skepticism. It’s a good argument, and it carries some truth, but it doesn’t change the fact that Beauchamp fucked TNR.

See, they trusted him when they ran the stories (because, yes, it made good copy and it reinforced their beliefs about the war in Iraq), and they supported him when he came under scrutiny, and they issued statements supporting the details of his writing while he continued to ensure them that, yes, it was all the truth. Pretty much. Then Beauchamp (which, is that pronounced “Beechum"--and does anyone else know why I’m asking that question?) turned around and stabbed them in their literary heart by admitting to having falsified the stories.

Has anyone found the first story claiming that he was forced or that his newly sworn statement was coerced in some way? This whole tale is just begging for a conspiracy theory ending.

You know who else Beauchamp fucked? His fellow soldiers, all the soldiers who have served with honor, and all the people who believed his BS.

Now, here’s where I vent. Beauchamp pisses me off like you wouldn’t believe. This is on the same level of dishonor as false accusations of rape, abuse, and racism. There is enough bad in the world that you shouldn’t have to make up horrors in hopes of aggrandizing yourself or building a new writing career. And when you throw fellow troops under the bus --inventing stories that make them look like bloodthirsty assholes--to make a few bucks, you’re screwing a group of people that has already managed to shoulder more than their share of bad PR, poor pay, and shitty working conditions. Not, of course, to mention the grave potential of extreme bodily harm, the family sacrifices that our troops make, and those damned glasses they issue in basic training.

So, if all this talk of recanting pretty much the totality of those Jasmin live stories turns out to be true, here’s hoping that Beauchamp pays a steep price for his lies.

As Cadilac Tight points out, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t more of a price to pay, too.

I don’t see how this wouldn’t be a disastrous amount of egg (a resignation worthy amount, actually) for Franklin Foer, either. And my god, what a blow for TNR’s credibility. First Stephen Glass, now Scott Thomas Beauchamp.

And, lastly, Jeff G has thoughts on the subject along with a lot of great links. And Michelle Malkin has great graphics. Baldilocks has a ton of responses to this news. And she’s kind enough to clean up my language for me a bit. Or a lot.

Sorry about that.

Gimme That Ol’ Time SciFi

For science fiction fans who also happen to be film fans, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (with all of its variations and re-releases) is probably on the short list of best sci fi movies of all time. It’s sure as hell on mine.

Which is why I’m all giddy on the inside at the thought of the “Final Cut” edition finally being released. It’s been long discussed and long desired, but arguments over rights have kept it in some strange speculative fiction purgatory for long enough that I thought God might be punishing me for some sin by holding the release hostage. It’s finally coming (and it would make a grand Christmas present for the most brilliant blogger on your list) and it’s going to be big.

This winter, Warner bros is set to release a DVD box set of this box office Prometheus that rivals all other special editions and will keep the fans drooling until it’s on shelves this December 18th. Presenting the film in HD formats, the DVD collection will come in a briefcase with, a three-hour documentary and (count them) five different versions of the film, including Ridley Scott’s dark “work print.”

Oh, yes.

Sadly, it looks as if the movie’s theatrical re-release is only going to be to a few theaters in New York and LA--which isn’t particularly helpful to me, damnit.

This is still great news for fans, though.

The economy is down on its knees

The title is a sentence from one of the emails from Zimbabwe that the Beeb is running. These notes give a view into the growing disaster of Zimbabwe’s economy.

For another view, Sokwanele has been tracking changes in business for some time now.

Of course, the country’s own propagandists (and for those of you who think that American media are lapdogs of the Jasminelive administration, I submit that you don’t have the proper respect for our free press), see the situation differently. The support for Mugabe is unwavering, as is the call for price controls.

Which, while it’s awfully nice that the noble Mugabe is protecting Zimbabweans from the prowling enemy that is harassing, nay, haunting them, the idea that price controls will somehow stop hyperinflation is idiotic. Moneyweb has a clear view:

All that Mugabe will do, with his strict price controls, is make the underground economy more important and, in my view, raise the likelihood of violence in Zimbabwe. When the official economy is so broken that it doesn’t match the realities of the citizens, then one of the threads that binds a government and the governed is severed. When faith that the government represents the people reasonably and fairly fails, then another of those threads is gone. When people stop believing that peaceful methods--voting, non-violent protest, open and frank discussion of grievances--can cause change, they will ultimately turn to violence.

In Zimbabwe, faith in government is mostly gone and the official economy is near irrelevance. The stories of violence, protest, repression, and corruption are growing; Zimbabwe is near collapse. The only questions remaining in my mind are just how bad that collapse will be, how much bled will end up shed, and what will replace the government when it finally fails?

Good Time to be Stupid

It sure does look like Atlanta Falcons cornerback Jimmy Williams picked a great time to be stupid. With all the focus on the Michael Vick dog fighting scandal, Williams’ marijuana possession charge might just sort of slip from view.

Williams might be one of the few people in the nation to breathe a sigh of whenever that Vick scandal garners another headline.

None of which explains how athletes can be stupid enough to risk endorsements and salaries worth far more than I’ll make (barring some miraculous fluke of lottery generosity) over the next decade of my life. I’m all for legalizing the Evil Weed, and could personally care less if Mr. Williams smokes a little homegrown now and again, but it seems like an awfully small reward for a far greater risk. That’s just bad decision making, but it’s far from uncommon.

Update: Of course, stupid is as Lohan does. Or something like that. Update to this update: Michele feels a little sympathy for Lindsay. Which is awfully nice of her. I chalk it up to her mommy instincts or some innate kindness that is completely absent in me. Because, let me tell you, I’m not feeling any sympathy at all.

Quick poll: who can, without resorting to Google, name the song that has this line: “I wrote this novel just for mom and all the mommy things she does...”

The Magical Land of Edwards

I don’t like John Edwards. Even his lustrous hair can’t change the fact that I think of him as a shallow, deluded, ambulance-chasing trial lawyer who made his millions off of dubious science and spun his aggressive opportunistic streak as a fight for the common man. As I said: I don’t like John Edwards.

But damned if Edwards doesn’t like Edwards.

First off, early poll results--over a year out from the general election--are damned near meaningless. His performance on was pitiful and he hasn’t build anything resembling a stronger base over this early electioneering. While he may have won the hearts and minds of the MoveOn hordes, he’s been lagging in fundraising and, if polls do mean anything, he’s also dropped to Bill Richardson single digit support in the latest CNN poll.

If you can’t win your own party, you certainly can’t win the general election. Edwards did nothing to bouy Kerry’s campaign and is showing little more than an impressive ability to come in a consistent third in his own party.

He could still find the energy and the message to sneak his way back toward the top of the heap of Democrat hopefuls, but I wouldn’t count on it. Edwards is an also ran (with one hell of a great head of hair).

Spooky Stuff

So, the full Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book has leaked and now fans are scurrying about to find out who lives, who dies, and what happily ever after looks like in the Potterverse. I won’t be one of those trying to discover the ending, although I am curious to see how JK Rowling ties up her many loose ends.

The funniest part about me reading the book, though, is that I can’t stand some of the characters that I’m supposed to love. Harry is a little jerk. He started as a sympathetic character and then grew up to be a teenager--in a way, I can’t help but feel that Rowling tapped into the same vein of whiny adolescence that made Luke Skywalker seem so irritating to me when I was a . Then there is Dumbledore with his so-obvious favoritism and unmatched ability to put the lives of ren in the school in danger--let’s just say that I don’t understand how this intellectual featherweight is considered to be such a wise person in the Potterverse.

There is one character that I’ve grown to appreciate, though. Snape may have a bit of evil in him (or, maybe, a big bit of evil), but he has consistently done what he could to keep Harry safe. Whatever his native instincts, he does continue to do his best to do what is right (that last bit in The Half-Blood Prince notwithstanding). He’s cranky, snippy, vengeful, occasionally mean, and hardly pleasant--but he’s gotten a raw deal from Harry and his gang of snot-nose-know-it-alls from the beginning. It’s tough to be Severus Snape, but he soldiers on, and that counts big to me.

Since I won’t be indulging in he ultimate spoiler, I have only my imagination to give me clues to what Deathly Hallows holds for me. For example, unlike many, I do believe that Dumbledore is dead and that he will stay that way. It would be cheap (and it would cheapen the emotion that some people felt when he died in the last book) to conjure up some parlor trick to bring him back. I insist that he stay dead because the alternative would possibly ruin the series for me.

I don’t believe that Harry will die. He isn’t quite a messianic figure, so his ultimate sacrifice isn’t necessary for the book to wind up with a satisfactory ending. Aside from that, the deserves a chance to grow up and experience life outside the shadow of ultimate evil that has hovered over him since the beginning of the series. Given the growth of Snape, I do think that he will die. I think he will die in service to the gang of snot-nose-know-it-alls--perhaps saving the life of Harry or one of the others--in some way that completes his redemption and perhaps even gives Harry a moment of thought about the assumptions he had made and the small cruelties that he and his friends had shown the teacher.

As a bonus, though, I think one of the friends--either Hermione or Ron--will be killed at some point in the book. It’s the Kleenex moment that the series has been crying for; a moment that will put an emotional spin on the series that no one will forget.

But what the hell do I know? I’m just a guy who thinks that JK Rowling did a damned fine job of creating a little world of magic that has been enjoyable as a minor, occasional escape. Good for her (and good for all the s that might have been bit by the reading bug because of Harry and the rest of the crew).