30 October 2005

Camden arrives! and Roger Ebert makes a good point

Beth and I went down to Millbrook from last Wednesday to yesterday, for the long-awaited birth of my sister Alicia's new baby, Camden Thomas Harper. On Thursday, October 27, 2005, at 4:11 pm, a 6 lb 12 ounce baby was born to my sister by Cesearean section. A great moment for the family, one that will have ramifications as long as I live.

But right now I've had (and reviewed) a Bass Pale ale and Steel Reserve 211, so I'm not really capable of discussing it at the moment. I've got a lot to say about the new baby, things that seeing Alicia with him made me think about, but my reflexes are a bit shot and I'm pretty much incapable of doing any higher thinking at the moment.

So I'll leave you with a comment from Roger Ebert's current Movie Answer Man. (For those not reading this week, a link to the entry in question is here.) It deals with a reader of his who objected to the political commentary present in the new George Clooney-directed Good Night, and Good Luck (as of yet unseen by me), and it's about as clear a rebuttal to all those Ann Coulter-obsessed Joe-McCarthy-blowjob-givers that I can imagine appearing in a family newspaper.

Q. In your review of "Good Night, and Good Luck," the new George Clooney movie about Edward R. Murrow, you said about Sen McCarthy: "He destroys others with lies, and then is himself destroyed by the truth." The only problem is that McCarthy wasn't lying. He might have gotten a few of the details wrong, but he was substantially correct.

The Venona Project was a top-secret U.S. government effort to decode Soviet messages which ran from 1943 until 1980. Untold thousands of diplomatic messages were decrypted, providing invaluable intelligence. Some of that intelligence proved that there were, indeed, spies imbedded in the U.S. government in far greater numbers than the public suspected. Many of the people that McCarthy singled out as being spies actually were working for Russia, traitors that were selling out their country to the most murderous regime the world has ever seen.

The threat was very real, and Murrow did the free world no favors with helping to bring McCarthy down. The film has no mention of Venona, no mention of Soviet spies that certainly did exist, no nuance and no truth. Instead we're treated to a rehashing of the same old debunked story about how journalists managed to bring down a greater threat to freedom than Stalin. What is beyond my comprehension is how most of the people who know and care about the Red scare of the 1950s are completely unaware of Venona. Many of the decoded documents have been available to the public for more than a decade.

James R. Rummel, Columbus, Ohio

A. If McCarthy had that information, why didn't he cite it to save himself? Obviously, because it was not available until years after his death. Evidence at the Army-McCarthy hearings and elsewhere indicated that he fabricated most of his charges out of thin air. Do you have any sympathy for the majority of his targets who were completely innocent? What about the blacklist that ended careers and destroyed lives because innocent people exercised their constitutional privileges?

It is significant that government security officials in possession of facts about spies did not choose to share them with McCarthy, who was a loose cannon. Presumably the security experts were taking care of business while McCarthy was disgracing himself. Edward R. Murrow is the public servant in this scenario.

In short: Roger Ebert cuts to the heart of the matter like no one else I've seen. Maybe we can get him to go on Bill Mahr and debate Ann Coulter sometime.

More on Camden and such in a day or so.

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