In films murders are always very clean. I show how difficult it is and what a messy thing it is to kill a man

Sounds like an interesting book from this review, Hitchcock as Philosopher by Robert J Yanal

The book is aimed at a general intelligent readership interested in a relatively new way of reading some of the director’s more famous films. (Along with the movies mentioned in this review, Yanal has essays in the book on: Suspicion, North by Northwest, Shadow of a Doubt, Psycho, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and The Birds.)

[ ]…Previous philosophical knowledge is not at all essential for understanding the essays in this book. Yanal provides the reader with all the philosophical background needed. He sticks to classic philosophers to drive his analysis, with a special emphasis on Descartes, but also with a healthy dose of Plato, Wittgenstein, and a few others. He also tends to focus on epistemological problems, with some ethical analysis on occasion.

Hitchcock was either quite brave or reckless in putting so much of his personal psyche on the screen that he and his work provide an almost endless font of speculation. Though I think much, if not most of it was Hitchcock as conman. He did give us the term “MacGuffin” – “[W]e have a name in the studio, and we call it the ‘MacGuffin.’ It is the mechanical element that usually crops up in any story. In crook stories it is always the necklace and in spy stories it is always the papers.” Hitchcock as the celebrity and cultural icon simply played out the MacGuffin in real life. By encouraging people to speculate about him and his motivations he peaked more interest in his films. Of course I’m doing just that here by speculating on what part of the Hitchcock legend was the man and what part was promoter.

Power as a concept has taken on dark connotations for centuries, though not all power is inherently dark. Especially if power presents as opportunity to do good. A quaint concept, but still relevant. And I am not talking about choosing between lesser evils. Bush for example cam in many respects be regarded as evil, but there are greater evils in the world. It is both a shame and a waste in so many ways that Bush with the support of so many Americans has not only abused our power as a nation, but has diminished it. That power could have a tremendous amount of good for America and the world. America Faces a Future of Managing Imperial Decline

Elsewhere the neoconservative project was stillborn. North Korea was branded as part of the “axis of evil” but the US, in agreeing to the six-party talks as a way of handling the crisis on the Korean peninsula, tacitly admitted that it simply did not enjoy enough leverage to deal with the Kim regime. This was demonstrated more forcibly with its failure to prevent the recent nuclear test, and the US’s subsequent dependence on China for seeking some means of engaging North Korea in dialogue. In fact China has now cajoled the US into accepting the need for it to do something it had previously resisted: entering into direct talks with North Korea, with China playing the role of honest broker. For all the neoconservative bluster, the US is simply too weak in east Asia – and China too strong – for it to be anything other than a secondary player in the North Korean crisis. It has been a striking illustration of the slow, remorseless decline of American influence in the region.

Meanwhile, in the region that it has dominated for well over a century, which it has traditionally regarded as its own backyard and in which it intervened with impunity throughout the cold war – namely Latin America – the US is now facing its bleakest ever situation, far worse than anything the Cuban regime represented during the cold war. The US is confronted with a formidable and well-resourced adversary in Chávez’s Venezuela, and a continent in which the left has made extraordinary progress. The Bush administration, so far at least, has been quite unable to halt its growing isolation in Latin America and the left’s onward march.

Even in the Middle East, the weakness of the neoconservative position has become increasingly evident in its handling of Iran, another member of the “axis of evil”. As in the case of North Korea, the US, partly as a result of its preoccupation with the occupation of Iraq, in effect devolved negotiations over Iran’s nuclear ambitions to the group of four consisting of Germany, France, Russia and the UK.

It is not a matter of throwing a last hand full of dirt on the grave of American power it is far more subtle then that. Take South America as a for instance. This is a continent that has endured every kind of petty dictatorship from across the political spectrum and the last five years would or should have been a time in which the US played a part in steering nations like Venezuela toward moderation. Instead what we have had is some pudgy middle aged guys yell high school insults at each other. Like high school grudges, the international resentment that Bush and the neocons have engendered with their high school style high jinx will haunt us for years. Regardless of who the next president is or their party affiliation they will have to, in order to have a marginally successful presidency act like a school janitor cleaning up the mess the children left behind.

Bush choice for family-planning post criticized

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration has appointed a new chief of family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services who worked at a Christian pregnancy-counseling organization that regards the distribution of contraceptives as “demeaning to women.”

Eric Keroack’s attitude about birth control is indicative of the same conservative mind set that has managed Iraq, Afghanistan, the economy, Katrina, and the environment. It probably doesn’t matter what great plans you draw up , what grand goals you might have, or even if the conservative faces change from Bush conservatives to McCain conservatives, they’re going to keep screwing up because they have such a fragile grasp of reality.One can’t really make rational informed decisions when you’ve confused your fuzzy bunny slippers with your jet skis.

“There is nothing to winning, really. That is, if you happen to be blessed with a keen eye, an agile mind, and no scruples whatsoever.” – Alfred Hitchcock

“In films murders are always very clean. I show how difficult it is and what a messy thing it is to kill a man.” – Alfred Hitchcock