Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Today the Senate voted to slash Bush's $726 billion tax cut in half. That means we are halfway back to some fiscal sanity. A $350 billion tax cut is still outrageous when we are in the middle of a war and are already in debt up to our ears.

Monday, March 24, 2003

The Academy Awards were more unpredictable than I had imagined and thus more entertaining. I am still upset that The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers took just two measly technical awards - Visual Effects and Sound Editing - but at least that was better than Gangs of New York which was completely shut out after receiving 10 nominations. I guess Peter Jackson will just have to console himself for now with his $335 million domestic box office take.
I was getting just a bit tired of hearing the theme music to ‘Chicago’ being played over and over, but the film topped out at six awards which - while respectable- is far short of a complete sweep. The film, which I still have not seen, took just one acting award for Catherine Zeta-Jones for best supporting actress. The big surprise turned out to be the Holocaust drama The Pianist which took three really big awards - adapted screenplay, best actor and best director. I’m not sure what to think about the directing award going to Roman Polanski the fugitive child molester who is living in exile in France. But I am happy for Best Actor Adrien Brody after first being upset when his name was called. I was pulling for Michael Caine or Daniel Day-Lewis, but after hearing Brody’s poignant and touching acceptance speech I was somewhat mollified.
I expected Nicole Kidman and her prosthetic nose to win Best Actress - the only award for The Hours. And Chris Cooper’s best supporting actor win was also expected, although I would have preferred to see Paul Newman or Christopher Walken win. Walken’s excellent performance in ‘Catch Me If You Can’ was the only one I have seen so far.
I thought that Steve Martin did an excellent job hosting under the strained circumstances. I was actually afraid that they would just do away with the host altogether like they did at the Grammys this year. But Martin was able to be funny and entertaining without offending the tender sensibilities of a nation in war-mode.
I was happy to see the Japanese animated film ‘Spirited Away’ win in that category and I hope to actually see the film some day too. The American offerings this year just weren’t up to the same level if ‘Ice Age’ is any indication - haven’t seen the others yet. I was also glad to see Eminem win Best Song for Lose Yourself from Eight Mile even though it meant that U2 did not win and Bono was not allowed to make an anti-war statement on the stage.
Documentary film maker Michael Moore’s anti-Bush speech was to have been expected. He clearly deserved to win this year for “Bowling For Columbine” and there was no way he was going to accept the award without saying something that would rattle peoples’ cages. I thought what he had to say was clever - contrasting non-fiction film making with ‘fictitious election results’ in Florida and ‘fictitious reasons for going to war in Iraq.’ We still have found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (and fortunately none have been used against our troops). So if it turns out that Iraq wasn’t really an immediate threat to our national security, then what? Oh, well? He was a bad man and needed to be toppled anyway? At what cost? We are still finding out, unfortunately.
But back to Moore’s rant - even though what he said was clever, if he truly intended to win people over to his side I don’t think that standing up on stage and shouting “Shame on you, Mr. Bush!” was the way to go about it. But of course, Moore has never been very good at actually achieving the results that he espouses. After all, his support for Ralph Nader in the last election just helped to pull down Al Gore and hand the keys to the White House to runner-up George W.

The complete list of Oscar winners is here.
The behavior of the stock market never ceases to disgust me. Typically, you can count on the stock market to react favorably whenever big companies announce mass layoffs or shut down factories to move jobs overseas. Last week when Bush finally announced the long-anticipated start to his war against Iraq, the markets reacted boisterously with back-to-back-to-back rallies for the highest one week gain in years. The more bombs that burst around Baghdad, the higher stock prices would go. But now, after a weekend with more than a few setbacks and U.S. and British casualties climbing upward, the stock market has plunged nearly 300 points. It didn't take long for Wall Street to lose its enthusiasm for the war. Did they really expect it to all be over in a matter of days?
There is a good op-ed piece in the NYTimes today explaining why the war won't help our dreary economy.