Sneaking Suspicions
Archives-- November 7-13, 2004

This page includes posts from November 7-13, 2004 in the usual reverse order. Each posting on the home page is perma-linked to these archive pages.

November 13, 2004
Go along, get along, or get out

The Washington Post and the NYT ran a pair of interesting companion pieces relating to the current troubled relationship between the CIA and the Bush Administration. 

In classic Beltway fashion, today’s WaPo breathlessly announced that several CIA staffers are feeling disrespected by the Administration, leading to resignations and threats of resignations.

David Brooks’ op-ed piece, on the other hand, shows that the disrespect between the two groups also cuts the other way:

Over the past several months, as much of official Washington looked on wide-eyed and agog, many in the C.I.A. bureaucracy have waged an unabashed effort to undermine the current administration.

This sort of dust-up was perhaps inevitable. The 9/11 Report and other investigations showed that the intelligence agency has had some competency “issues” regarding the GWOT, as some would say. Therefore, it’s natural to expect some keen defensiveness issuing from Langley as the Administration tries to carry out its policy choices.

Running to the newspapers to complain is simply a standard tactic.

On the other hand, it appears that some members of the Bush Administration are giving Langley’s long-time staffers a choice of either one of the two options made famous by Rodney King.

The agency staff can either get along with the ones who were elected and who are therefore in charge, or some folks could get the crap beat out of them—figuratively speaking, of course.

As Brooks notes, asserting one’s authority in order to accomplish fundamental goals is the Administration’s responsibility. They’ll only have themselves to blame if they don’t.

November 12, 2004
Film Festival mini-ratings
updates below

Below are mini-reviews of the movies I saw during this year's Rehoboth Independent Film Festival.

Each one includes the title, a URL link if one exists, a one-line synopsis, and a rating that uses the same evaluation language and range requested of the Festival participants: Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good, and Outstanding.

Updates during the weekend will appear below, instead of following the usual blog format.

Irish stoner drug smuggling comedy. Outstanding

Reporter’s family troubles alter ambitious career plans. Outstanding.

Comedy Shorts

Billy and the Kid
Retirement-age security guard at Western theme park earns his badge. Good.

Earl’s Your Uncle
Chaos theory plot doesn’t mix well with crime caper plot. Poor.

God Plays Solitaire
Who’s really controlling who here? Good. 

Living With Lou
Inside look at mindset of an assistant director--very inside. Fair.

Perils in Nude Modeling
Model’s overtures intensify creative pressure on student artist. Very good.

Rex Steele: Nazi Smasher
Strong, impressive animation. Unfortunately, story much weaker. Fair.

Six and the City
Samantha, Miranda, Cassie, and Charlotte, vixens of HBO, at age six. Very Good.

Who’s Your Daddy?
Rampant infidelity in a small town leaves an unmistakable DNA trail—or does it? Outstanding.

Alexandra’s Project
Australian business executive seems to have it all, until birthday videotape from wife proves otherwise. Outstanding.

Updates November 12

Since Otar Left
Tender-hearted family drama set in Georgia and France. Russian and French, with English subtitles. Outstanding.

Open House
Satirical musical about real estate hits a few good notes, flubs others. Good.

Dead Heat Under the Shrubs
Iranian Director Esmael Barari places Hitchcock-like chase movie among stark desert scenery. Farsi, with English subtitles obviously created by non-native speaker. Very good.

Updates November 13

Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself
Semi-suicidal Scot learns to live and love. Outstanding.

The Agronomist
Compelling documentary of Jean Leopold Dominique and his pioneering radio work to help liberate Haiti. Very good. 

Small World (Mali Svet)
Serbian/Montenegran look at the power of coincidence, while blending a love story with slapstick. Very good.

American Beer
Five friends, 38 microbreweries, 40 days across America--what’s not to like? Outstanding.

Updates November 14

Beauty Academy of Kabul
After the defeat of the Taliban, a group of American women open a beauty school for their Afghan counterparts, with the first three-month session as the centerpiece of the film. Outstanding.

Globetrotting Shorts

The Dud (Der Blindgaenger)
A new highway threatens a housing project, until two tenants use a buried device to threaten back. Very good. 

Full Circle
Award-winning Irish short studies two shy young adults as they make tentative steps toward an introduction. Outstanding.

The Phantom Museum
The Quay brothers try out their experimental film techniques on a British collection of medical devices and other oddities. Fair to me, but Mrs. S. liked it a lot more.

Shadi in the Beautiful Well
Atmospheric short filmed in South Lebanon refugee camp. Fair.

Stuff That Bear!
A comedy set in Bucharest involving a taxidermist, his scheming brother, a stripper, and an illegally shot bear. Not as funny as you might think. Fair.

Tides (Maree)
Albanian widower hopes leaving his son in Venice will save him, but others disagree with the plan. Very good.

This year's collection was perhaps the best yet.

November 11, 2004
Rehoboth Independent Film Festival 2004

Six hundred fifty movie buffs filled the seats at the Rehoboth Convention Center last night, for the opening night ceremonies for this year's Film Festival.

It was also the premiere showing of Nothing Beats Fun, a charming if uneven documentary centered on Funland, the primary amusement park on Rehoboth's Boardwalk. The crowd enjoyed it, and then gave a standing ovation to Al Fasnacht, the patriarch of the extended family that has owned and operated Funland since 1962.

The Fasnachts returned the favor with their own surprise, handing out free ride tickets to everyone for next spring's opening.

These folks know a thing or two about marketing.

I'm planning to go to twelve more movie showings over the next days, including two collections of shorts. Mini-reviews will appear here, using the same rating scale applied by the Festival to determine the eventual award winners in each category.

Vitamin D injections may be required by Monday.

November 10, 2004
A startling admission

Zell Miller, the feisty Georgia Democratic U.S. Senator, was in no mood to let bygones be bygones after hearing Maureen Dowd bitch and moan about red state voters during last Sunday’s Meet the Press.

Here are the quotes from the New York Post story about his recent appearance on the Imus radio show:

"The more Maureen Loud [sic] gets on 'Meet the Press' and writes those columns, the redder these states get. I mean, they don't want some high brow hussy from New York City explaining to them that they're idiots and telling them that they're stupid."

Dowd appears to have taken the criticism to heart. She reportedly made a startling admission in response:

“I’m … a highbrow hussy. I’m a highbrow hussy….”

There could be some long term benefits to her statement.

As we know from AA and other self-help programs, the first step in eliminating problems in one’s life is to first admit one has them. 

Then again, this may just be another example of a Dowdified quote, which the troubled Ms. Dowd herself might appreciate as an homage of sorts.

Or not.

November 9, 2004
Just enough dummies around here

Many bloggers and others have taken notice of some of the less thoughtful responses by Democrats to the results of last week’s Presidential election.

I hasten to point out, however, that impolitic commentary is not the sole province of my fellow Democrats.  

The local paper’s editorial page this week quoted the Republican candidate in a hotly contested county race:

“People who voted for me were the informed voters,” said Sussex County Council candidate Judson Bennett. “People who voted for Lynn Rogers were the uninformed voters.”

It appears that we have a critical mass of ignorant dummies around here.

Bennett lost the election by three votes.

November 8, 2004
Sally's speech

Our friend Sally has ALS.

Sometimes known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a motor neuron disease with progressive muscular atrophy. At this point it is also inevitably fatal.


Sally is also a bright, witty, charming, and brave woman, with a great family. Last week she gave a speech at an ALS dinner in Philadelphia, held to honor Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling and his wife Shonda for their efforts on behalf of ALS victims nationwide. Sally used her assistive communication device for the first part, and her three kids completed the speech for her.

She sent us and several other friends and family a copy of her address, and she graciously agreed to my request to post it here.


If you would like more information about ALS, or would like to donate, please go to this website, or the Philadelphia Chapter’s site.

Tell them Sally sent you.


Thanks very much.

November 7, 2004

Politically active gays and lesbians seeking to expand marriage rights may find themselves adopting a conservative approach to some hardy perennials of failed legislative proposals, when the Delaware General Assembly reconvenes in January.

The voters’ negative reaction to gay marriage in eleven other state election held last Tuesday, as well as the political campaign stances taken in some Delaware races this fall, would be their motivation.

Several years ago the state amended section 101 of title 13 of the Delaware Code to say that same-gender marriage is void. The law also says that a marriage obtained in another jurisdiction won’t be officially recognized if it wouldn’t be legitimate under Delaware law.

There’s nothing about this issue in the Delaware Constitution, however, which is where the hardy perennial reference above comes in.

It’s very difficult to amend Delaware’s organic document, whose current version dates back to 1897. Short of a constitutional convention for a total rewrite, the only way to amend it is for two successive General Assemblies to adopt the new language, by a two-thirds vote of both houses each time.

For the last several General Assembly sessions, however, one State Senator has tried to add another option, as well as provide for more direct action by the voters to enact legislation.

David McBride, a long-time suburban New Castle County Democratic Senator, has frequently introduced bills to permit voter-adopted constitutional amendments, after a single General Assembly also adopts the same proposal. In addition, on several occasions he has introduced bills to permit initiative and referendum under the state constitution.

The most recent versions were Senate Bills 24 and 25. They were introduced in 2003, assigned to the Executive Committee, and stayed there. So far at least, McBride’s been completely unsuccessful in pushing his direct voter participation ideas any further.

On the other hand, there could be some action on this front by those seeking to prevent any legislative change in the state’s current stance on same-gender marriage, by putting a marriage definition into its constitution.

As Al Mascitti noted in his News-Journal column today:

The picture looks grimmer in Sussex County, where only one candidate who supports H.B. 99 [outlawing gender-preference discrimination] won on Tuesday, and Republican George Parish was elected Clerk of the Peace after saying he would lobby against same-sex marriages.

[Ann] Black [of Rehoboth Beach] said she made a point of shaking Parish's hand during Thursday's Return Day celebration. "When I told him I was a gay woman, his hand went flying back like I had sandpaper in mine."

"I told him I hoped he'd marry us someday, and he said, 'I'll fight you every step of the way.'

"I told him, 'I know. And we're going to fight you right back.' "

Parish and those who feel as strongly about this issue as he says he does simply don’t have much to lobby for, other than a constitutional amendment. The current marriage code already does what he wants.

If that’s his plan, then Parish and his allies have the same difficult path as everyone else seeking to make any constitutional change—unless, perhaps, if they’re patient enough to quietly support McBride’s hardy perennials, which could eventually lead to a voter-adopted constitutional marriage amendment.

Under these circumstances, those seeking to expand marriage rights in Delaware have a real incentive to keep McBride’s Progressive-era bills buried in committee if he introduces them again, which is a likely occurrence as I see it. It’ll be very interesting to see who reacts to these bills when they next appear, and what they say about them.

November 7, 2004
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Fritz Schranck
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