Art will remain the most astonishing activity of mankind born out of struggle between wisdom and madness

Remember the house staffer accused of leaking the National Intelligence Estimate saying the Iraq war had become a prime recruiting tool for terrorists. The right-wing Republican blogs were all set to sentence the leaker to water boarding and solitary confinement. He has been cleared House Staff Member Cleared in Inquiry on Leak of Iraq Intelligence Estimate

Mr. Hoekstra said at the time that he thought Mr. Hanauer might have been a source for an article on Sept. 24 in The New York Times about a National Intelligence Estimate saying the Iraq war had become a cause célèbre for terrorists.

Mr. Hanauer had obtained a copy of the classified study at the request of a Democratic panel member, Representative John F. Tierney of Massachusetts, shortly before it was described in the article.

Democrats on the committee protested that the accusation was groundless and unfair and that Mr. Hanauer had merely properly responded to a routine request from a member.

They said Mr. Hoekstra’s action was payback for a decision by the committee’s ranking Democrat, Representative Jane Harman of California, to release a report by an outside counsel into actions on the committee by former Representative Randy Cunningham, a California Republican now serving a prison term for taking bribes.

A spokesman for the panel, Jamal D. Ware, confirmed that “the suspended staff member has had his accesses restored at the committee,” a development first reported on Tuesday by The Washington Post.

A Congressional official who insisted on anonymity said the internal inquiry, conducted by committee lawyers, involved having Mr. Hanauer sign an affidavit and answer questions.

In a statement, Ms. Harman said, “All of us are pleased that our valued staff member is back at work and that this meritless inquiry is over.”

Mr. Hanauer’s lawyer, Jonathan Turley, said Mr. Hanauer had been vilified on the Web and by anonymous callers, some of whom threatened him, called him a traitor and said he should face a firing squad.

“We are grateful that this long nightmare for Larry and his family is now over,” Mr. Turley said. “It is regrettable that it took this long, given the total absence of any evidence linking Larry to the New York Times articles.”

Goodness knows we wouldn’t want the American public to know anymore about the disaster at all levels that is Bush’s Iraq invasion. Bush has done for terrorist recruitment then ten Bin Ladens and we don’t want that leaking out because it spoils the Right’s messianic view of Bush and the decisions he has made.

Robert Altman: A rogue cinematic player steeped in the art of ambiguity

And Altman made a lot of them, and now there won’t be any more. Life goes on, but every life must end. Robert Altman’s exit, while hardly unexpected – he had undergone a heart transplant sometime in the 1990s – is nonetheless jolting to his admirers. We had grown accustomed to his stamina and his refusal to fade away even when the whims of the film industry seemed to turn against him.

Fans of a certain age will remember the succession of films from the 1970s – from “M*A*S*H” to “A Wedding,” passing through “McCabe & Mrs. Miller,” “Nashville,” and “3 Women” – that seemed at once to come out of nowhere and to reveal the central truths of their place and time. Those of us who came a bit later will recall encountering those movies on scratchy prints in revival houses or college cafeterias, and marveling at their energy and strangeness.

Altman’s reputation as a film maker is sealed, he was was of the true auteurs. Yet as I read in an article about Picasso a few months ago it is a mistake to place artists like Altman on too high a pedestal. His little battles with others in the film industry were legendary. Perhaps that is all part of the process of art, and film making in particular, to constantly battle for your vision, not to mention the inevitable clash of egos. To single out a an Altman film is daunting. Almost all of them succeeded at a certain level. He was like an explorer that went off investigating society and he presented what he found. Culture was his lost city or rare Asian leopard. I thought that McCabe & Mrs. Miller was an especially brave film. Usually in a movie death is Shakespearean, larger then life. Altman showed death in McCabe as an event that largely goes unnoticed and unnoted. Death was intimate, personal. Not to mention that Altman opened up a version of the history of the west that probably still rubs some people the wrong way- a west of booze, gold, greed, and opium. Not exactly your John Wayne fairy tale.

“Art will remain the most astonishing activity of mankind born out of struggle between wisdom and madness, between dream and reality in our mind.” – Magdalena Abakanowicz: