Monday, December 8, 2014

the beauty of it; pack a bag

(pre-film-scene noteRolling Stone magazine is good again.  I stopped reading it in the 80s because I thought it wasn't as good as it had been; in about 2008 or '09 I bought it once because it contained a Dylan interview, but I wasn't crazy about the rest of it.  But now I've read the last two issues:  good again!  I read articles about stuff I thought I wasn't interested in, just because they were good yay.  There must have been a change in ownership, or management, or editorship.  Something.)

Charlie Wilson's War - 2007 - Mike Nichols - Aaron Sorkin

Charlie Wilson -- "Hey!"

Gust Avrakotos -- "He said he was sorry."
Wilson -- Hey.

Mike Vickers -- What can I do for you, sir?
Gust -- All right, he wants to make a recommendation to his Subcommittee.  Now, the Swiss-made Oerlikon S.T.A. antiaircraft cannon, that's what you'd use to shoot down the MI-24 Hind gunship in the mountains, right?

Vickers -- Well, the Oerlikon's a good start, but the Russians will just start flying higher altitude missions.

Gust - So what else do they need?

Vickers speaks hard and fast, the information ticking at breakneck speed, the words clipped and rapid like pelting rain:

"Same thing you give us.  AK-47s, AK-74s, AKMS.  The Soviets didn't come into Afghanistan on a Eurail Pass.  They came in T-55 tanks.  The fighters need RPG-7 anti-tank grenade launchers, Katyusha 107mm rockets,

wire mines,

plastic mines,

bicycle bombs,

sniper rifles,
ammunition for all the above
and frequency-hopping radios and

burst transmitters

so these guys aren't so fucking easy to find.  Well, I've written it all in a report you can read. 

You'd be the first one who did."

Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) stares at the youthful weapons expert with startled respect:  "Send a copy of it to me by secure courier right away."

-- I will.  All right.
-- All right.

As Vickers returns to his chess-mates, Avrakotos and Wilson walk away together and Wilson demands with incredulous impatience, "There was a report?"

Gust -- "It's not that simple."
-- Why not?
-- Well, for one thing, it's covert.  When an Afghan freedom fighter gets captured it can't be with an American-made weapon on him.  That's how a cold war turns into an actual war, and that's something you want to keep a good eye on.

Wilson -- So anything we give them has to look like it could have plausibly been captured from the Soviets.

Gust -- Yeah, that's right.

-- You know who's good at that?
-- Israel and Egypt.
-- That's right.

Gust -- You know what Vickers just described back there could cost as much as 40 million dollars.

Wilson (tersely and very firmly, because he has said this several times before) -- I can get the appropriation.

Now it's Gust Avrakotos who's incredulous and impatient:  "But how?  I want to know how are you gonna get the approval of Congress, when they're saying no to the Contras for nothing, for five million dollars, a request made by the President?"

["approp."  A slang abbreviation for "appropriation" -- money voted on by legislators, and earmarked for a certain use]

Charlie Wilson -- When a black approp makes it through this Subcommittee, the full body has to vote on it blind.  They know the dollar amount, but they don't know what it's for.  So theoretically your 10 million dollars can become 40 million, without anyone ever noticing but the Russian Army.

Gust -- Because Congress wouldn't know what it was voting on.

Charlie -- That's the beauty of it!

Gust -- All you need are the nine other Subcommittee members.
-- All I really need is the Committee Chairman!
-- Doc Long.
-- Doc Long!

-- And with Doc's backing, you'll get the votes of the other Committee members.
-- Yep.
-- I don't believe you.
-- I don't care.
-- And until the phone rang this morning, Charlie, I didn't know -- I'd never heard of you.
-- Well, ask around.

-- I did.
-- And what'd you find out?
-- That your greatest legislative achievement in six terms was getting re-elected five times. 
-- Anything else?
-- That you hold more IOUs that any member of the House.

Charlie laughs -- How about that?  I represent the only district in America that doesn't want anything.  They want their guns, they want low taxes, that's it.  I can do favors.  I get to vote "yes" a lot.

Gust -- Now, me and three other guys are killing Russians.  I mean, is it possible that I've met the only elected official in town who can help?

-- Give me a week to set things up.  Go pack a bag.  I have a friend, an arms dealer in Israel.  He's who we need for this, God help us.
-- Should be interesting.
-- Yeah.

The two men split and walk away in opposite directions.


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