Saturday, February 21, 2004

About town

I caught Eric Alterman's talk at Seattle's Town Hall on Tuesday night and got him to sign my copy of his new book afterward. He didn't seem to be in a chatting mood so I didn't stick around, but I thought it worth mentioning something he brought up during the question-and-answer session.

According to Alterman, when the Democratic primaries are wrapped up, the nominee -- presumably Kerry -- will be starting at Ground Zero, while George W. Bush will be flush with about $400-$500 million in his warchest.

Interestingly, Alterman says, Democratic strategists believe they'll be competitive against that obvious advantage by raising about $190 million.

This underscores, for me, the extent to which the essence of this election really comes down the moneyed classes vs. the rest of us.

And it especially underscores the extent to which everyone is going to have to pitch in and make a real difference this year.

By the way, be sure to pick up a copy of Alterman's book, The Book On Bush, (co-written with Mark Green) which contains just about everything you need to know to explain why the man needs replacing. Now.

Also seen this week: The Battle of Algiers, the documentary-style recreation of one of the more grim episodes in the history of the West's relationship with Islam -- namely, the escalating war of terrorism between France and occupied Algeria in the 1950s and early '60s. The film was released in 1965, and is stunning for no other reason than that it has the look of a very real documentary, only a few years after the actual conflict (Algeria became independent in 1962).

Anyone wondering what we're doing in Iraq -- and how we're ever going to extricate ourselves from this morass -- will want to watch this film. Certainly it's a textbook model of how to screw up your occupation of foreign nation.

But as Walter Addegio noted in the San Francisco Chronicle, the chief reason to see it is to enjoy some truly marvelous filmmaking.

[Thanks much to Nick Collecchi for the pass.]

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