Watch What You Say, Watch What You Do

Presidential Spokesdroid Ari Fleischer was vilified for advising (about two weeks post-9/11) that Americans "need to watch what they say, watch what they do." This was pounced upon by Paul Krugman, Frank Rich, and other Usual Suspects to proclaim the thesis that we were in for jackbooted thuggery from the Bush Administration. (If you'd like a refresher, Pun Salad briefly discussed the controversy here and here.)

Recently, however…

  • On a radio show, Nancy Pelosi looked with dismay upon the opponents to the Ground Zero Mosque, but said they had a perfect right to express their opinions without fear of reprisal.

    Whoa, just kidding! What she actually said was:

    "There is no question there is a concerted effort to make this a political issue by some. And I join those who have called for looking into how is this opposition to the mosque is being funded, she said. "How is this being ginned up that […] two of the first three questions are about a zoning issue in New York City."

  • Governor Jennifer Granholm was also recently unappreciative of remarks made by Rush Limbaugh about the Chevy Volt. Of course, she realized that Rush was working within a long American tradition of free expression, and …

    Hah, gotcha again! What Jen actually said was:

    "It's just un-American. I can't believe that somebody would say this about this American product," said the Guv. "You know, why wouldn't you be supportive of American manufacturers building American vehicles with American workers, who now have jobs as a result of this. Why wouldn't you be supportive of that? It is mind-blowing to me."
    Shut up and buy American, she explained.

  • And just last week, President Barack Obama expressed his deep devotion to principles of equal rights for all Americans to engage in Constitutionally-protected activity.

    Oh, wait. That was when he talking about the 9/11 mosque. In a different speech last week, he got positively huffy about a group called "Americans for Prosperity", which had made the mistake of trying to engage in activity protected by a different part of the First Amendment.

    Right now all around this country there are groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity, who are running millions of dollars of ads against Democratic candidates all across the country. And they don't have to say who exactly the Americans for Prosperity are. You don't know if it's a foreign-controlled corporation. You don't know if it's a big oil company, or a big bank. You don't know if it's a insurance company that wants to see some of the provisions in health reform repealed because it's good for their bottom line, even if it's not good for the American people.
    Note the utter sleaziness of the tactic here: the President isn't saying that AFP is actually foreign-controlled; but—eek!—they might be. Or it could be some corporations. Whatever the scapegoat-du jour is.

    I would guess that AFP works under the exact same laws and disclosure requirements as does (say) MoveOn.org or Americans United for Change. The difference: Obama would prefer that AFP just shut up, and he's not above using cowardly innuendo to try to make that happen.

It used to be that Democrats were fans of "speaking truth to power". Now that they're in power: well, not so much.

A Prophet

[3.0
stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Or, if you like, the French title: Un prophète. As you note from the ratings above, it was a critical success, and relatively popular with the IMDB folks who've seen it. My take: OK, but too long.

It's the story of a 19-year-old Arab kid, Malik. He's unemployed, illiterate, with neither family, nor friends, nor a good lawyer. As the movie opens, he's just been sent to the French slammer: six years for (allegedly) attacking a cop. His cinematic French prison is pretty much like the worst of cinematic American prisons: full of violence, coercion, perversion, and corruption. Also, there's a lot of simmering ethnic hostility between the Corsicans and Muslims.

Things are pretty much run by César, kingpin in the Corsican mafia. César needs to silence a stoolie who's been incarcerated before he testifies in an upcoming trial. Due to logistic difficulties, his usual thugs can't do the job, so he settles on Malik. Malik is understandably reluctant, but César is relentless and ruthless. Eventually, Malik comes into César's inner circle, although he's distrusted and despised for his un-Corsicanity. Nevertheless, he takes part in many escapades filled with violence and, since it is a French flick, time-consuming moodiness.

Among the plot keywords from IMDB: "Stabbed In The Chest", "Punched In The Stomach", "Punched In The Face", "Shot In The Head", "Shot In The Back", "Kicked In The Head", "Stabbed In The Stomach", "Shot In The Chest", "Stabbed In The Head", and the always popular "Testicular Cancer". It's not for the kiddies.


Last Modified 2012-10-02 3:46 PM EDT