Sunday, April 30, 2006
In anticipation of "MayDay" tomorrow, FReepers provide some laughs at CommieRatBastards' expense.
Since I've acknowledged two U heads withspines this month, we need a likttle balance here (for the norm, of course):
By John Leo
It's time for this column to announce its Sheldon Award, given annually to the university president who does the most to look the other way when free speech is under assault on campus. As all Sheldon fans know, the prize is a statuette that looks something like the Oscar, except that the Oscar shows a man with no face looking straight ahead, whereas the Sheldon shows a man with no spine looking the other way. The award is named for Sheldon Hackney, former president of the University of Pennsylvania and a modern legend in looking the other way.
College presidents who say and do nothing about newspaper thefts or unconstitutional speech codes usually make it to the Sheldon finals. But not this year. The competition was too keen. At least five colleges suffered thefts of newspapers in April 2006 alone, too many for even the most relentlessly silent president to make much headway toward a Sheldon.
In earlier years, Georgia Tech's president might have won for allowing a speech code that prohibits "denigrating" comments based on "characteristics or beliefs," as in, "You must be out of your mind to disagree with the professor." What would happen to the character of campus life if universities suddenly allowed beliefs to be challenged openly? Sad to say, it's very possible that feelings might be hurt.
John C. Hitt, president of the University of Central Florida, drew attention for his awesome silence when a student was brought up on charges for a campus Web site calling another student "a jerk and a fool." But Hitt gave up his bid for a Sheldon when FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) forcefully called his attention to the First Amendment.
Penn State president Graham Spanier caught the eye of Sheldon judges when his campus's School of Visual Arts canceled an exhibit on Palestinian terrorism because it "did not promote cultural diversity" (i.e., it irritated campus leftists and Muslims). Oddly, with the Sheldon nearly in his grasp, Spanier caved to free-speech pressure. He restored the exhibit and came out for freedom of expression. This is like a leading contender for the papacy announcing that he thinks Jesus was a fictional character.
President V. Lane Rawlins burst onto the Sheldon scene when his university, Washington State, organized and financed the disruption of a controversial student play. FIRE showed that the university had paid for the tickets of students who shouted down the actors and stopped the performance. The play, "Passion of the Musical" by Chris Lee, was a satire starring Jesus and Lucifer among others. It managed to offend gays, Jews, blacks, Christians and other groups on campus. Rawlins defended the disrupters, saying they had "exercised their rights of free speech in a very responsible manner." Moist-eyed Sheldon judges said admiringly, "Anyone who defends the stopping of a play as a free speech right, and finances the operation, has our full attention."
Rawlins broadened his Sheldon appeal in the highly publicized case of student Ed Swan, who was threatened with expulsion from the Washington State teacher-education program after he expressed conservative religious and political views. Swan was told he could stay if he underwent mandatory diversity training and special faculty scrutiny. Instead, he called FIRE. Rawlins and the university backed down.
Another heavyweight Sheldon contender is the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, president of DePaul, a Catholic university in Chicago. Though in office only 22 months, Holtschneider has already presided over three Sheldon-attracting controversies:
A veteran, part-time teacher with a good record, Thomas Klocek, was suspended without a hearing after a verbal run-in with pro-Palestinian students at a school fair. He refused an order to apologize, and balked at the university's plan to put a monitor in his classes. Then he sued.
The college Republicans were found guilty of violating a campus prohibition against "propaganda" after handing out fliers criticizing an upcoming lecture by radical professor Ward Churchill.
Sponsors of a mock bake sale satirizing affirmative action were hauled on the carpet. The were found not guilty of harassment, but then censured because the university said their application for table space was faulty. Holtschneider denounced the sale as "an affront to DePaul's values of respect and dignity."
Judges agreed they had never seen two candidates as eminently qualified as Rawlins and Holtschneider. Calling the pair "the Ruth and Gehrig of modern Sheldonism," the judges awarded the golden no-spine statuette to both. Congratulations, Sheldon laureates 2006.
John Leo is a contributing columnist for RealClearPolitics.
I always thought that Jefferson quote was suspect, and thought for sure it was out of context, Steyn has done some research and, as usual for the lefties, it's fake (and not even accurate):
[Note: not excerpted... this guy's too good]
John Kerry announced this week's John Kerry Iraq Policy of the Week the other day: "Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to deal with these intransigent issues and at last put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military."
With a sulky pout perhaps? With hands on hips and a full flip of the hair?
Did he get that from Churchill? "We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, at least until May 15, when I have a windsurfing engagement off Nantucket."
Actually, no. He got it from Thomas Jefferson. "This is not the first time in American history when patriotism has been distorted to deflect criticism and mislead the nation," warned Sen. Kerry, placing his courage in the broader historical context. "No wonder Thomas Jefferson himself said: 'Dissent is the greatest form of patriotism.' "
Close enough. According to the Jefferson Library: "There are a number of quotes that we do not find in Thomas Jefferson's correspondence or other writings; in such cases, Jefferson should not be cited as the source. Among the most common of these spurious Jefferson quotes are: 'Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.' "
Did Kerry's speechwriter endeavor to point that out? "Hey, boss, diss ain't a Jefferson quote."
"Yeah, that's right. Dissent -- a Jefferson quote. Shove one in around the fifth paragraph, but snap it up, will you? I got a fitting for my new even-more-buttock-hugging yellow lycra cycling shorts in 20 minutes."
It was the Aussie pundit Tim Blair who noted the Thomas Jeffefakery. American commentators were apparently too busy cooing that "Kerry may be reflecting a new boldness on the part of liberals to come out and say what they believe and to reclaim the moral high ground on patriotism" (CBS News) to complain that KERRY LIED!! SCHOLARLY ATTRIBUTION DIED!!! Instead, KERRY MISQUOTED!! MEDIA DOTED!!!
Indeed, America's hardboiled newsmen can't get enough of the Thomas Jefferbunk. The Berkshire Eagle used it as the headline for last year's Fourth of July editorial. Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press thundered: "We need to stop slicing this country in half, and saying those who support this act or this politician are 'good' Americans, and the rest are not. Sometimes 'dissent is the highest form of patriotism.' I didn't make that up. Thomas Jefferson did."
Er, no. You made up that he made it up. But former Georgia state Rep. Mike Snow uses it, and Miranda Yaver of Berkeley wore it on a button to the big anti-war demo in Washington last year, and Ted Kennedy deployed it as the stirring finale to his anti-Bush speech:
"It is not unpatriotic to tell the truth to the American people about the war in Iraq. In this grave moment of our country, to use the words of Thomas Jefferson, 'Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.' "
The last time Sen. Kennedy went rummaging for an old quote was when he stood up at the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston and announced that "here once the embattled farmers stood and fired the shirt around the world." But at least several of those words are genuine, albeit not the reference to the menswear department.
As far as I can tell, it was Nadine Strosser, the ACLU's head honcho, who cooked up the Jefferson fake. At any rate, she seems to be the only one who ever deployed it pre-9/11. Since then, however, it's gone nuclear, it's everywhere, it's a bumper sticker and a T-shirt slogan and a surefire applause line for the entire Massachusetts congressional delegation. As Sen. Kennedy's brother so memorably said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what a fake quote can do for you."
What does it mean when so many senior Democrats take refuge in an obvious bit of hooey? Thomas Jefferson would never have said anything half so witless. There is no virtue in dissent per se. When John F. Kennedy said, "We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty" -- and, believe it or not, that's a real quote, though it's hard to imagine any Massachusetts Democrat saying such a thing today -- I could have yelled out, "Hey, screw you, loser." It would have been "dissent," but it wouldn't have been patriotic, and it's certainly not a useful contribution to the debate, any more than that of the University of North Carolina students at Chapel Hill who recently scrawled on the doors of the ROTC armory "F--- OFF!" and "WE WON'T FIGHT YOUR WARS!"
But the high holiness of dissent for its own sake is now the core belief of the Democratic Party: It's not what you're for, it's what you're against. Their current denunciations of Big Oil have a crudely effective opportunism but say to them "OK, what's your energy policy?" and see what answers you get: More domestic oil? Ooh, no, we can't disturb the pristine ANWR breeding ground of the world's largest mosquito herd. More nuclear power, like the French? Ooh, no, might be another Three Mile Island. Er, OK, you're the mass transit guys; how about we go back to wood-fired steam trains? Ooh, no, we're opposed to logging, in case it causes global warming, or cooling, or both.
Dissent for its own sake is like the Democrats' energy policy: We're opposed to any kind of energy; we prefer to be mired in enervated passivity. If the right is full of armchair generals, the left is full of armchair generalities: Nothing can be done, any course is futile, everything's a quagmire. All we can say for certain is that saying so for certain is the highest form of patriotism.
It's truer to say that these days patriotism is the highest form of dissent -- against a culture where the media award each other Pulitzers for damaging national security, and the only way a soldier's mom can become a household name is if she's a Bush-is-the-real-terrorist kook like Cindy Sheehan, and our grade schools' claims to teach our children about America, "warts and all," has dwindled down into teaching them all the warts and nothing else. Or as the Capital Times of Madison, Wis., concluded its ringing editorial on the subject:
"Thomas Jefferson got it right: 'Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.' And teaching children how to be thoughtful and effective dissenters is the highest form of education."
Teaching them authentic Jefferson quotes would be a better approach.
Very interesting -- coming from the SanFran Chronicle, as it is, especially:
Another reason is that Iraq is not Vietnam.
"The Vietnamese did not carry out suicide attacks on their own people," the New York Times columnist David Brooks has pointed out, "or go around the world rioting over cartoons or fly planes into skyscrapers." The war in Iraq has an element of "existential menace" that Vietnam did not have.
In 1968, as a California delegate to the tumultuous Democratic National Convention in Chicago, I opposed the war in Vietnam. I didn't believe the corrupt South Vietnamese government was worth defending in a costly war.
This time, over Iraq (though not always comfortable with my position), I thought the war, on balance, was a risk worth taking. Notwithstanding an aversion to Bush's fundamentalist Christian belief that the war as one of "good" versus "evil," I thought regime change was the correct choice for Iraq and (I hoped) for the United States. I knew it might turn out that I was mistaken. But I never believed that overthrowing Saddam Hussein by force was morally unjustified.
I also disagreed with the anti-war activists who claimed that being firmly opposed to war against Hussein was some sort of litmus test of one's moral identity, as if one's stand on the war revealed one's personal character.
A confession: I feel ill-disposed to those who would limit the bounds of serious thought and discussion by presuming a self-confirming moral superiority.
I have emphasized "on balance" to distance myself from the activists whose concept of morality consists of a simple knowledge of good or bad, right or wrong. It would be easy if the only choice were a moral one between war and peace. But this is a time (and a war) when ambivalence and complexity, not moral tidiness or certainty, are necessary facts of life. The political choices we face are far from clear cut or morally pure.
I prefer a moral realism that recognizes that when intricate political questions are reduced to simple moral ones, they are much more likely to be put out of the reach of practical solution. Furthermore, I do not accept the argument that what some people may insist is morally wrong can never be politically right or necessary.
In 2003, most Americans thought the war to liberate the people of Iraq from Hussein's cruel tyranny was worth risking.
Evaluating risks, however, is not the same thing as making moral choices, as Harvard Professor Michael Ignatieff has noted. No one could know in advance whether the gains in human freedom would outweigh the human costs because it was impossible to know what the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld conduct of the war would bring.
Americans now want out of this war. They also know there is no cost-free way to leave -- that the decisions to be made involve tough choices about what risks are worth taking and what consequences may follow.
As events unfold, it may turn out that Iraqis will tell us whether to stay or go, and when. But we should not forget that a majority of Americans were sympathetic to the goal, and always understood the value, of helping Iraqis fight for a democratizing outcome.
"THE archeologists could barely hide their excitement. Beneath the main square of Ecija, a small town in southern Spain, they had unearthed an astounding treasure trove of Roman history.
They discovered a well-preserved Roman forum, bath house, gymnasium and temple as well as dozens of private homes and hundreds of mosaics and statues — one of them considered to be among the finest found.
But now the bulldozers have moved in. The last vestiges of the lost city known as Colonia Augusta Firma Astigi — one of the great cities of the Roman world — have been destroyed to build an underground municipal car park.
Dr Sonia Zakrzewski, a senior lecturer in archeology at Southampton University who has worked on the site, said: “It is a real shock when things like this happen. I am surprised it has gone ahead. There is no doubt this site is of fundamental importance to archeology.”
Much of the site has been hurriedly concreted over: the only minor concession to archeologists and historians, is to leave a tiny section on show for tourists. The rest will be space for 299 cars.
The Roman city has proved to be one of the biggest in the ancient world. Its estimated 30,000 citizens dominated the olive oil industry. Terracotta urns from Ecija have been discovered as far away as Britain and Rome.
The region produced three Roman emperors — Trajan, Theodosius and Hadrian — and the research has shown that Ecija was almost as important in the Roman world as Cordoba and Seville.
The socialist council says that had it not dug up the main square, Plaza de Espana, to build the car park in 1998, the remains would never have been found. But it insists the town must press ahead with the new car park.
“Nonsense,” says the town’s chief archeologist, Antonio Fernandez Ugalde, director of the municipal museum. “For some reason, the politicians here think it is more important to park their own cars. It simply does not make sense.”
But despite opposition from numerous other archeological groups and the Spanish Royal Academy of Art, there is now no possibility of restoring the 2,000-year-old Roman town.
The most exquisite discovery was a statue, known as the Wounded Amazon, modelled on an ancient Greek goddess of war. Only three other such statues are known to exist. The one in Ecija is in by far the best condition with some of its original decorative paint intact.
Juan Wic, the mayor, who is responsible for the car park project, said he was happy to have kept one of his main election pledges. He said it was “essential for the commercial future of the square and city”"
Yowsers. Sing it, Joni: They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
I'd rather have the First Amendment than John McCain.
Another excellent take on Flight 93 from the Ottawa Citizen:
3) You do what you got to do: United 93 was the only hijacked plane that did not reach its target, and that's because the passengers rose up and tried to storm the cockpit. Why did they rise up? As the movie shows, the passengers learned from phone calls to family on the ground that the other planes had been commandeered into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. It was then that the United 93 passengers knew they weren't turning back to the airport for negotiations. When the enemy is on a suicide mission, your only hope is to destroy him before he destroys you. And so the men and women of United 93 died fighting.
If the Islamists -- those seeking to transform Islam from a religion into an expansionist, messianic, violent, political movement -- gain ascendancy in the Middle East, then the suicide bomber "will become a metaphor for the whole region," as the historian Bernard Lewis has put it. Islamists cannot be negotiated with, mainly because their demands, that we become Muslim or we die, are impossible to meet.
Currently the most dangerous Islamist is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's apocalyptic-minded president who is holding the West hostage with his quest for nuclear weapons. Right now the world is scared, yet still hoping Mr. Ahmadinejad will turn back to the airport, so to speak.
Very soon we will have our United 93 moment and realize this is one airplane we'll have to land ourselves.
“The only thing we are looking for is to end this dehumanizing situation and get the recognition of the migrant labor force,” Federal Deputy Maria Garcia said. “People who go looking for work should not be treated like criminals with the risk of being tried in federal courts.”
It is truly amazing... this said by folks who export their own people like so many tomatoes. Interesting how they never ever consider fixing their own darned country. Yeesh.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Reason #1422 I'm not sad I left California.
BY STEVEN HARMON
Knight Ridder Newspapers
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Some Democratic state lawmakers are planning to walk off the job Monday - just as millions of others around the country are expected to - in support of immigrants' rights.
The Democratic-controlled Senate, on a party-line vote, approved a resolution supporting the May 1 "Great American Boycott 2006," which supporters say will serve as a warning to Congress to avoid punitive immigration reform.
Organizers believe the boycott, in which large numbers of students also are expected to participate, will show just how vital immigrants are to America's major cities and the nation's economy.
"These immigrants are fighting to embrace this nation," said Sen. Richard Alarcon, D-Van Nuys. "What a good time this is when people can express their anger, their frustration, desires, hopes and dreams, all for the purpose of becoming American. That's a good thing."
Republicans voted unanimously against the resolution, saying it encourages lawlessness.
How about voting aagainst it simply because it's insane?
But, Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, who authored the resolution, said the boycott will be part of history that will one day be recounted in classrooms across the country.
"It's one day out of 365, out of their lives," she said, "for immigrants to peacefully tell the country that we matter, we want justice."
Uh, if someone is here illegally, wouldn't justice be deportation?
I'm so confused.
This is a tough column to figure out. However, the last line of the following paragraph was worth slogging through it for:
Ordinarily, you need a crime to remove a president from office. But the question of what one should impeach Bush for has not preoccupied his opponents unduly. Most often the charges levelled involve Iraq and the war on terror. Bush lied to get the country into war, say his detractors. He countenances torture. His plan for warrantless wiretaps of al-Qa’eda has compromised the privacy of countless ordinary Americans who receive calls in Arabic via portable satellite phone from tribal areas of the Hindu Kush.
I loved the end of this piece:
Soon, all the talking heads, from the New York Times, including the perkster, Katie Couric, to the daily yawps, like Chris Matthews, will be sounding off on Mr. Snow, and it will be interesting to see what the "official" term to describe him will be.
With the ball already rolling on honesty and honest broker, it may revolve around these words. But whatever it is, everybody will be using it at the same time, very soon, on every progressive show worth its salt and pepper.
Regardless, Mr. Snow, will add gravitas to the White House message, before he becomes a scapegoat, after he loses his head.
Nevertheless, the news of Mr. Snow’s arrival has fallen on the pen drivers’ pencils like a shock wave experienced in a 6.4 LA earthquake and they’ll be on the phone figuring out what to say and when to start the slow roast, or the high rolling boil, or whatever, filling the quiver with the arrows that will mark his first appearance at the podium.
Every member of the White House press corps will be up early on that first introductory day, shaking out the cobwebs, eating a good breakfast, or at least what passes for one today, slapping their cheeks, taking the special memory pills, putting the shrink’s card in the shirt pocket, walking the dogs, jogging, memorizing questions, looking at the Snow family photo, and getting ready for that first Texas cage match.
Nobody wants to be left in the lurch on national TV when Tony Snow first blinks in the lights.
And for Mr Snow? It’s just another day.
Positive news/followup (and this now makes two University presidents displaying some stones):
The president of Pennsylvania State University has overturned a decision by its School of Visual Arts to call off a student art exhibit that criticizes Palestinian terrorist groups.
The director of the school, Charles Garoian, called off the show days before it was to have started, saying that it did not promote diversity and that it might violate Penn State’s regulations against harassment and discrimination. After several days of campus debate, during which Hillel reported receiving anti-Semitic phone calls, President Graham Spanier told the Faculty Senate this week that the exhibit would take place.
In an e-mail interview, Spanier said: “Penn State does not and will not censor artwork. I wanted to make this perfectly clear to everyone. Crossing that line would compromise so many of the fundamental values of academe.”
While the student, Joshua Stulman, is pleased that he will be able to show his work, he remains angry that the head of an academic division tried to block his work because of its content. The director of the Penn State Hillel, while praising Spanier for intervening, is also demanding a public apology for what has happened, saying that the art school’s conduct was “pathetic and morally repugnant.”
Stulman, an art major, has been working on his series of 10 paintings for two years. He said he was prompted to do so by an art school showing of a pro-Palestinian film that Stulman thought distorted some issues. He said that rather than argue against the film being shown, he decided to attend, and then to work on his own art to express another point of view.
His paintings cover such topics as the backgrounds of Palestinian leaders, the impact of terrorism on Israelis, and the way mothers of suicide bombers are honored by Palestinians. Stulman said that he believed that terrorism was supported “only by a minority of Muslims, a minority of Palestinians,” but that it was important to be able to criticize that minority. (A photograph of one of the paintings is online, at the end of an article in Penn State’s student newspaper.)
In an e-mail message canceling the show, Garoian said that he was doing so after reviewing various policies, including Penn State’s statement against discrimination and harassment and the university’s “Zero Tolerance for Hate” policy. While his letter calling off the show did not cite any specifics, he had earlier questioned Stulman about images showing a Hamas faction using a Nazi-style salute.
The art school, Garoian wrote, “is committed to promoting cultural diversity and assuring opportunities for democratic dialogue within the context of its classrooms and its exhibition spaces. I believe that Josh’s work does not promote those tenets.”
After the student paper started to write about the controversy, Garoian sent another e-mail saying that his only concern was that Hillel was co-sponsoring the event and that outside sponsorship violated the rules. Stulman said that this was disingenuous because Hillel agreed only to supply some refreshments for a reception, had done so for a previous exhibit, and had made known its willingness to help out. Stulman said that Garoian was trying to get around his earlier objections to the content of the show, noting that Hillel supplying some snacks could hardly violate Penn State’s harassment rules.
The comments about Hillel, then reported in the Penn State area, led to a series of anti-Semitic phone calls to Hillel and its executive director, Tuvia Abramson. He said he has been receiving harassing calls along the lines of “can’t you Jews follow the rules?” Abramson said that the art school has tried to scapegoat Hillel. He also noted that he has still not seen the paintings Stulman can now show, and that Hillel supports Jewish students with a range of views about Israel and other issues.
Garoian did not respond to requests to talk for this article. Some letter writers to The Daily Collegian, the student paper, backed his decision. Aqsa Ahmad, a junior at Penn State,
wrote: “The whole idea of free speech is understandable, but when it comes to hurting or poking fun of another religion, discrimination and hate come into play. Stulman’s exhibit may have been directed toward Palestinians, but because Islam promotes the idea that everyone is each other’s sister or brother, all Muslims become victims of this propaganda.”
Other letters expressed anger that the exhibit had been called off. Steve Meneogzzi, a senior,
questioned why students weren’t allowed “to form their own opinions of the paintings.” He added that students should express “outrage” over the censorship of the show because “otherwise, in a few years, the only Penn State-approved paintings will be of the whole world holding hands under a rainbow.”
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
"ATTITUDES towards Arabs, Muslims and Islam in the US are troubling and have not been improving over the last few years, Arab-American academic Dr Shehata has stated, quoting results of a number of opinion polls conducted in the US. “A high percentage of Americans hold negative attitudes toward Islam, and many Americans believe that Islam - more than other religions - encourages violence,” he told Gulf Times.
According to the Washington Post/ABC News polls, the percentage of Americans who hold unfavourable views of Islam has risen over the last three years.
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, 39% of those polled stated that they held unfavourable views of Islam. This figure dropped to a low of 24% by January 2002 but has been steadily increasing ever since.
In the most recent Washington Post/ABC News poll released in March 2006, 46% of Americans said they held unfavourable views of Islam.
There is less variation in the polling data regarding American opinion about Islam and violence. All of the various polling data confirm that a high percentage of Americans believe that Islam - more than other religions - encourages violence."
Must I even comment here?
Honestly, I don't want to bash on the Brits today...
"LONDON: A “performance artist” sparked a major security alert in London on Wednesday when she left five packages, one with nails sticking out of it, across a busy area of the city during the morning rush-hour, police said. The woman, who has not been named, told officers she had strategically planted the “devices” around the Shepherds Bush and Hammersmith Grove areas of west London, a major traffic and transport hub crammed with commuters on their way to work. Police, fearing a possible repeat of last July’s suicide bomb attacks that killed 52 people on the capital’s transport system, rushed bomb squad officers to the scene and threw a cordon around the area. About an hour later they scaled down the operation, which caused chaos for thousands of travellers, after the woman went to police and claimed responsibility.
“Whilst officers were responding to the incidents a 36-year-old woman attended a west London police station,” a police spokeswoman said. “The woman, who is from the Shepherd’s Bush area and who described herself as an artist, was then arrested on suspicion of causing a public nuisance and taken into custody where she remains.”
Two suicide bombers struck Wednesday outside the main base of the multinational peacekeeping force near the Gaza border in Sinai, killing themselves but causing no other casualties in an attack two days after a deadly triple bombing in a beach resort.
Yet another happy ending.
Review of the premiere of United 93:
A wrenching reminder of 9/11 was surrounded with red-carpet hoopla at the world preempreem of "United 93," which kicked off the fifth edition of the Tribeca film fest Tuesday at GothamGotham's Ziegfeld theater.
After the film's devastating final scene, the screen abruptly went dark and a cacophony of loud, uncontrollable sobs could be heard coming from the back of the theater, where many of the nearly 100 family members of 9/11 victims were seated.
Some were seeing the film for the first time. As more than 1,100 viewers filed out, a funereal silence filled the theater.
And as the sobbing continued after the screening, there were sounds of other people comforting the family members and taking them outside.
As people were filing out, there was a strange encounter as some family members came face to face with an actor who played a hijacker. One quietly told the thesp, "You were very brave."
A low-key mood continued at the post-screening reception at the Four Seasons where the families mingled with other attendees like N.Y. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and NBC News' Brian Williams.
The film, the first major studio pic to revisit the 2001 tragedy, has an urgent documentary style and the reaction of Tuesday's crowd suggests that public reaction to the pic, which bows Friday, will be even more intense than many had even anticipated.
Universal will donate 10% of opening weekend to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa.
Before the pic, Gordon Felt, a family member who is leading the cause for the memorial, stood to thank Universal execs and helmer Paul GreengrassPaul Greengrass, a move that fit with larger U campaign to generate goodwill and word of mouth.
Before the film, Greengrass and the fest's Robert De NiroRobert De Niro and Jane RosenthalJane Rosenthal also made pitches for project's importance.
A stream of family members also walked the red carpet, ahead of the stars arriving for the fest's opening night. Paparazzi, print journos and TV reporters jockeyed to question them on their assessment of the film.
But even as the family members were giving interviews, the scene reverted to a more typical red carpet, with photographers yelling for closeups from Tom Selleck, Carol Kane and other celebs gathered for the preem.
Though trailers for the film were yanked a few weeks ago after some Gotham filmgoers protested that it was too soon to revisit the 9/11 events, some of the victims' family members expressed satisfaction with the pic and U's subtle handling of the film's promotion.
"I look at the film as a memorial of my brother," said Bonnie Levar, whose brother Donald Greene was on the flight. Andrew Bernstein, whose uncle died on flight 93, said, "Some people say, 'How can you do this? It's too soon.' And we say 'It's not soon enough.' " Some offered a more qualified endorsement.
"I would have preferred everything about this be a documentary," said Sarah Wainio, whose sister Elizabeth was a passenger on the flight. "But for a Hollywood feature I thought they did a good job."
Others noted that they continued to doubt government accounts of the attack.
Across the street from the Ziegfeld, a small group of protesters gathered, calling for an "end to the media blackout," but the focus was mostly on the red carpet.
Preem also featured 9/11 figures like Bob Kerrey, as well as MPAAMPAA chief Dan Glickman, who, when asked about U's handling of the marketing, called it "tasteful" and said, "If Hollywood can't make a movie about real events, what can it make a movie of?" He said that "the proof is in the pudding, because families seem to be satisfied."
Despite the approval of family members, most agreed on one thing. "I think we all agree it would be better if we didn't have to be here at all."
The UK doesn't have a monopoly on this kind of stuff, of course, young shooters from California train in Nevada and Arizona.
London (CNSNews.com) - Lawmakers here want to change gun-control laws - some of the strictest in Europe - that force Britain's competitive shooters, including those hoping to compete in the 2008 Olympics, to train abroad.
Nearly all private ownership of handguns is outlawed, and shooters say they must travel to other countries when they want to practice, a time-consuming and expensive exercise.
Labor Party lawmaker Kate Hoey, who has been campaigning for a relaxation of the law, said she expected to hear within weeks whether the government would consider lifting the ban for sport shooters.
Britain traditionally has had stringent gun-control laws, but the handgun prohibition was put in place after a deranged former scout leader shot 16 school children and their teacher to death in Dunblane, Scotland, in 1996.
John Leighton-Dyson, a coach with the national shooting team, said around 100 athletes were affected by the ban, in addition to the next generation of up-and-coming competitors.
Each year, shooters spend thousands of dollars to travel to Zurich, where their cartridge-shooting pistols are stored and where they may legally train.
For the rest of the year, team members train using air guns, which he said was having a detrimental effect on their skills.
"It's nowhere near sufficient," he said. "We're not last in the competitions but we're not first either."
And maybe, just maybe, they'll get a clue. (But probably not.)
The snipped part:
Hoey said the ban was understandable given the circumstances but argued that it had done little since then to curb the trade in black market firearms.
"The pistol ban was one of those knee-jerk things," she said. "I think people realize now that the pistol ban hasn't done anything to reduce gun crime."
And then there's the downright retarded:
When the English city of Manchester hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2002, the government temporarily relaxed the ban. Even so, competing shooters were constantly watched by armed police marksmen, even during practice.
The current push to relax the ban comes as the government is preparing to further tighten controls, by banning possession of imitation guns.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
I love happy endings.
KATY, Texas -- A homeowner fired back, killing two suspects, when his house was the target of two home invasions in as many days, officials told KPRC Local 2 Monday.
Fort Bend County sheriff's deputies said several armed suspects broke into a home in the 5500 block of Maybrook Park Lane shortly before 2 a.m. Saturday and tied up a teenage girl and her boyfriend.
As the robbers were stealing a safe, the homeowners arrived, officials said. One of the gunmen opened fire, grazing the head of one of the homeowners. The crooks fled the scene.
On Sunday, shortly before 10 p.m., the crooks returned for a second home invasion at the same house in the Grand Lakes Subdivision, according to deputies.
The homeowner and robbery suspects exchanged gunfire, officials said.
A female suspect was killed.
The other suspects fled the scene. The body of a man was found dumped on the side of the road in the 20700 block of Cranfield about 30 minutes after the home invasion. Deputies believe the man, identified as Omar Medrano, 23, was involved in the crime.
"One suspect was wearing a bullet-proof vest. The bullet that killed him missed the vest by inches. The lady was hit in the forehead -- a direct, head-on shot," said Sheriff Milton Wright with the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office.
After an optimistic respite, back to the files of "The 'Stuff' You Can't Make Up"
"BOURNEMOUTH, Great Britain, April 25, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Nurses are pushing for a policy change that would allow patients who cut and burn themselves to keep their blades and other implements with them in hospital settings.
The BBC reported today on the request made by nurses in the Royal College of Nursing. Pointing to a pilot project undertaken by St. George’s mental health hospital in Staffordshire, the nurses say allowing self-harming such as cutting or burning to continue helps patients to deal with past mental trauma and reduces thoughts of suicide."
Oh, my! Canadians are probably scratching their heads saying, "What did he just say?" "Wasn't that rather definitive?"
"OTTAWA -- Canada won't ignore threats from Iran and the Hamas-led Palestinian government against Israel, warns Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Harper made the pledge Tuesday as he spoke at a Parliament Hill ceremony in remembrance of victims of the Holocaust.
The prime minister said the world should never again stand by and ignore signs of trouble when they appear.
'We will not ignore them when they are done by Hamas. We will not ignore them when they are from the government of Iran,' Harper told several hundred people beneath the Peace Tower.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made repeated threats against Israel. As recently as Monday, he said Israel was a 'fake regime' that 'cannot logically continue to live.'
Hamas, which defeated the more moderate Fatah party in January's Palestinian elections, continues to support violence against Israel.
Hamas has also outright rejected the presence of a Jewish state in the Middle East, and -- despite an international outcry -- has refused to accept interim Palestinian-Israeli peace accords.
Harper says ignoring such threats could place the world on a path to repeat atrocities such as the Holocaust.
'We have learned the lessons of the past,'' Harper said. 'We will learn them, or we will be doomed to repeat them.'"
Finally, someone less popular than Dubya.
United 93 review from the Ottawa Citizen:
Peter Simpson, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Tuesday, April 25, 2006
United 93 is the most terrifying movie I've seen in years.
This is not a blurb of movie-critic hyperbole: It's a measured response to a movie that is too real, too recent, and too close to be seen, to be felt, as entertainment. It's more like group therapy: we all sit together to face this demon, to relive these horrible minutes in the hope of a collective release, or at least insight.
United 93 succeeds because director Paul Greengrass gives us a relentless, yet restrained, retelling of a day when we all stood together and watched a lot of innocent people die, a day when everything really did change -- and five years later continues to change. Greengrass does nothing to get in the way of the story. There is no melodrama, no romanticism, no torquing special effects, and no glimmering movie stars. The lone affectation is the use of handheld cameras, which give the film a jumpy volatility that reflects our shared helplessness, that fact we know what's coming and can't do a damn thing about it.
There's no back story: the movie begins early that morning and ends the instant the plane crashes into an empty field.
Those heartbreaking phone calls by doomed passengers to their loved ones on the ground are used more for narrative than dramatic effect: through them the passengers learned that planes have crashed into the World Trade Center. That changed everything on board, and in all likelihood saved many lives.
I expected to feel voyeuristic watching United 93, but in fact it was cathartic. Though the film is frequently claustrophobic -- most scenes are shot in the cabin of the aircraft or in windowless command centres -- it somehow speaks to the larger awareness that the attack was aimed not just at the thousands who died, but at our culture, our freedom, our future.
Well-told stories are essential to our collective understanding of what it all means.
Everybody with a heart was shaken that day, and there's a release in seeing the events portrayed like this, without judgment or sentiment. The film seeks neither to demonize nor sanctify, and restates the facts in almost documentary fashion.
The approach is profound in ways large and small.
There's a curious relief in seeing that everybody, even the most experienced aviation and military officials, reacted with the same disbelief as the second plane hit the World Trade Center, even though another had crashed into the towers moments earlier. My naivete was our naivete: we all shared that woefully misplaced complacency.
That footage of the second jet circling toward the towers -- the CNN broadcast is the only glimpse of the other three doomed aircraft seen in United 93 -- is the most chilling image of our era. It is cut into my memory like an etching on steel, both permanent and cold.
I remember the hollow feeling that followed, the ungodly mix of horror and helplessness, the draconian possibility that what we were seeing was "real world" and not a simulation or camera trick. I remember the dull realization that hate remains a powerful force, and is not safely locked in our history books like some deadly animal at the zoo. There it was before our very eyes, live on television, throwing jets full of innocent people into buildings full of ordinary people. How could such hate exist, and how could it strike with such conviction at the heart of Western society? How could this happen on this sunny, beautiful September morning?
Hate breeds hate, often under the red banner of vengeance, but Paul Greengrass doesn't fly that flag. We all know the hijackers die in the film, but there's no great moment of triumph, no grand and righteous blast of the trumpets. In the end there is only silence, and blackness. Then it's over.
Except in real life, of course, where it's not over, where it's never over. That's why well-told stories are so critically important. They may not bring us understanding of why things happen, but they show us why our response to terror is what keeps us free, that we must stand and spit in the face of hate. The passengers on Flight 93 realized their captors were determined to kill them all and a lot more people on the ground below. So they fought back, without weapons or hope, and sacrificed their own lives to save many others.
The feeling that hangs over United 93 is not suspense, but rather a rank sense of the inevitable, of the indifferent march of the facts toward a bitter fate.
Late in the flight we see both hijackers and passengers praying to God, in a macabre competition for divine intervention. We know there will be no salvation, that there is only truth and history, so real and so close that we can still feel its chill.
That's what makes United 93 so terrifying, in a way that no "horror movie" could equal.
Peter Simpson is the Citizen's Arts & Entertainment editor.
I've avoided the whole Duke rape thing because it seems to have been fraught with far too much rancor and prejudice on all sides. This Sowell column is clear, concise, and logical:
People who were not within 1,000 miles of Duke University have already taken sides in the case of a stripper who has accused Duke lacrosse players of rape. One TV talk show hostess went ballistic when a guest on her program raised questions about the stripper's version of what happened.
Apparently we dare not question accusations of rape when it involves the new sacred trinity of race, class, and gender.
Media irresponsibility is one thing. Irresponsibility by an agent of the law is something else -- and much more dangerous. Prosecutors are not just supposed to prosecute. They are supposed to prosecute the right people in the right way. In this case, prosecutor Michael Nifong has proceeded in the wrong way.
Having an accuser or a witness pick out the accused from a lineup is standard procedure. That procedure not only serves to identify someone to be charged with a crime, it also tests the credibility of the accuser or witness -- or it should, if the lineup is not stacked.
A lineup should include not only people suspected of a crime but also other people, so that it tests whether the accuser or witness can tell the difference, and is therefore credible. But the stripper who claimed to have been raped by members of the Duke lacrosse team was presented with a lineup consisting exclusively of photographs of members of the lacrosse team.
In other words, whoever she picked out had to be a lacrosse player and would be targeted, with no test whatever of her credibility, because there was no chance for her to pick out somebody who had no connection with the team or the university. Apparently District Attorney Nifong was no more wiling to test the accuser's credibility than was the TV talk show hostess who went ballistic, though credibility is often crucial in rape cases.
Mr. Nifong went public with his having DNA evidence collected. Then, after the DNA failed to match that of the accused, the students were arrested anyway and their bail was set at $400,000 -- in a community where a youth accused of murder had bail set at $50,000.
When a prosecutor acts like he has made up his mind and doesn't want to be confused by the facts, that is when the spirit of the lynch mob has entered the legal system. When this happens on the eve of an election for the prosecutor, it looks even uglier.
If the young men accused of rape are in fact guilty, they need to be proved guilty because they are guilty, not because an election is coming up or there is racial hype in the media or a legally stacked deck. More important, we need to know that the rule of law is there for all of us, regardless of who we are or who our accuser might be.
Even beyond this case, we are increasingly becoming a society in which some people are allowed to impose high costs on other people at little or no cost to themselves. This sets the stage for extortion, not only of money but also of legal plea-bargains extorted by ambitious prosecutors.
The stripper, for example, does not even pay the price of having her name known, while the names and pictures of the accused young men are all over the media. Even if they are acquitted, or the charges thrown out of court, this case will follow them and they will be under a cloud for the rest of their lives.
Mr. Nifong has said that he has a third person whom he may indict. If so, he has already demonstrated to that third person what he can do by disgracing the other two and putting a heavy financial burden on their families for bail and lawyers. If that third person cannot stand the disgrace or his family cannot afford the expense, that is leverage for getting him to say whatever the prosecutor wants him to say.
This case presents opportunities as well as pressures. Race hustlers are having a field day, including the inevitable Jesse Jackson.
A fellow stripper who was at the same party sees in this an opportunity -- in her own words -- to "spin this to my advantage."
The biggest opportunity that this case presents is for District Attorney Michael Nifong to win his election, even if the case falls apart later and the law is cheapened by all this.
Copyright 2006 Creators Syndicate
I think we can safely file this one under "'Studies' I'm Glad My Tax Dollars Didn't Go To":
"It seems that the more macho a man is — at least according to his hormones — the more the sight of an attractive woman will affect his judgement.
Researchers at the University of Leuven in Belgium asked men to play an ultimatum game, in which they split a certain amount of money between them. High-testosterone men drove the hardest bargain — unless they had previously viewed pictures of bikini-clad models, in which case they were more likely to accept a poorer deal."
Monday, April 24, 2006
The Lord Chancellor is facing accusations of political correctness after banning the word “homosexual” from official documents in his department.
Lord Falconer has ordered for the word to be removed on the grounds that it “may be considered offensive.”
The ban comes after a report commissioned by the Department for Constitutional Affairs to analyse how well diversity rules are obeyed when selecting judges.
Academics from the Queen Mary college compiled the report and concluded, “It is important to recognise that the term homosexuality is considered inappropriate by many gays and lesbians today.”
They claimed that gay charity Stonewall regards the word as derogatory, “It originates from a medical definition when same-sex attraction was construed as mental illness.' The report said “it should no longer be used in official documentation. Stonewall recommends that ‘lesbian, gay and bisexual’ is a more appropriate term.”
A spokesman for Lord Falconer's Department for Constitutional Affairs told the Mail on Sunday, “The equal opportunities statement in the guide to applicants has been changed to reflect good practice in line with the recommendation in the report.”
The wording has been changed to ask for applications from “people in those groups which are currently represented in relatively small numbers.”
David Conway of the Civitas think tank told the paper, “I am offended that the homosexual lobby has appropriated the use of the word gay. But no one listens to me, or to anyone else who complains that they can no longer use the word because it has been taken over by a single issue group.
“This is a word game that can go on for ever. It's another wrong turn over political correctness by a Government which has made many.”
Other disallowed terms include immigrant, Asian, man and wife, mixed race, West Indian and asylum seeker.
The stuff you can't make up.
Why does this remind me of the Mohammed cartoons... seems like a sense of humor is becoming the official first-thing-to-go:
SAN DIEGO -- San Diego Zoo officials said their latest ad campaign was not intended to offend anyone, but it has.
The advertisement promotes the zoo's newly reopened monkey exhibit.
The campaign's been going on for about a year now and has hit its first snag.
The latest ad in the campaign is a single page in the Union-Tribune, promoting the monkey exhibit. The newspaper did not receive any negative calls about it, and neither did 10News. The zoo received very few.
The idea behind the campaign is simple: If a monkey wanted to live at the world-famous San Diego Zoo, how would he get there?
The latest ad has a red crayon scribble on an application for American residency.
"Creating some humor, creating some fun to energize people was our intent," said zoo marketing director Ted Molter.
"It think it's horrible, despicable," said one San Diego resident.
"The timing is not great, considering what's going on in our country on a large issue involving humans," said another resident.
Zoo officials apologized, saying the ad was approved long before the current immigration debate took center stage. Their intent is always to make animals and people happy.
"We had no way of predicting it would be taken out of context, but again, understanding that it was, we're sorry if that was the case, and that's why we chose to no longer run it," said Molter.
The monkey exhibit was one of the first to open at the 90-year-old zoo. It's always one of the most popular sites at the zoo, and zoo officials hopes it will continue to be.
A representative at the Union-Tribune said the ad ran only once, and it was only supposed to run once.
The zoo confirms that and said it will not be scheduled for more.
Man, at least the monkeys attempted to get legal.
Those crazy pills are making the rounds again... at least now if Cindy Sheehan and King Abdullah met for drinks, they'd have something to talk about, besides the Great Satan.
"Abdullah tells Spanish paper El Pais Jordan interested in nuclear-free Middle East, says Israel must disarm its nuclear weapons. If peace is achieved, Israel will not need such arms, King states
Jordanian King Abdullah said his country is interested in a nuclear-free Middle East and urged the international community to pressure Israel to dismantle its nuclear arsenal.
'If the world is demanding Iran doesn't develop nuclear weapons it should also demand that countries which possess nuclear weapons disarm,' Abdullah said in an interview to Spanish newspaper El Pais. 'For peace to be achieved in the region, Israel has to disarm its nuclear weapons.'"
Yes. It'll be really peaceful when they've finally been able to wipe out Israel. Peace, the absence of conflict. Submission. Nonexistence.
Snagged from FR, where it was snagged from LGF, where it was snagged from the Spectator. Bunch of whores all, ain't we?
Dershowitz: Face It - Iran Will Get the Bomb
You may disagree with Alan Dershowitz that the Iraq War was a mistake (I do), but his coldly realistic analysis of the Iran situation is convincing and disturbing: We can’t attack Iran. (Free registration required. Hat tip: Allah.)
Face it. Iran will get the bomb. It has already test-fired rockets capable of targeting the entire Middle East and much of southern Europe. And it claims to have 40,000 suicide volunteers eager to deploy terrorism — even nuclear terrorism — against its enemies. With a nuclear capacity, the Islamic Republic of Iran will instantly achieve the status of superpower to which Iraq aspired.
Nothing will deter Iran. Sanctions are paper protests to an oil-rich nation. Diplomacy has already failed because Russia and China are playing both sides. Sabotage, bribery — even assassination of nuclear scientists — may delay but will not prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. That leaves military threats and, ultimately, military action.
First, consider military threats. They are already coming from two sources: the US and Israel. Neither is working, for very different reasons.
The Iranians would probably give up their nuclear weapons programme if their leaders truly believed that refusal to do so would produce an Iraq-like attack — an all-out invasion, regime change and occupation. Leaders, even religious leaders, fear imprisonment and death. Only the United States is capable of mounting such a sustained attack.
But the continuing war in Iraq has made it impossible for the US to mount a credible threat, because American public opinion would not accept a second war — or so the Iranians believe. Moreover, America’s allies in the war against Iraq — most particularly Great Britain — would not support an attack on Iran.
That is precisely why the Bush administration is barking so loudly. It wants to convince the Iranian leadership that it is preparing to bite — to attack, invade and destroy their regime, perhaps even with the use of tactical nuclear weapons. But it’s not working. It is only causing the Iranian leaders themselves to bark louder; to exaggerate their progress towards completing a nuclear weapon and to threaten terrorist retaliation by its suicide volunteers if Iran were to be attacked.
The war in Iraq is a two-edged sword when it comes to Iran. One edge demonstrates that the US is willing and able to topple dictatorial regimes which it regards as dangerous. That is the edge the Bush administration is trying to showcase. The other edge represents the failure of Iraq — widespread public distrust of intelligence claims, fear of becoming bogged down in another endless war, strident opposition at home and abroad. That is the edge being seen by the Iranian leaders. The US threat is seen as hollow.
That last paragraph is especially relevant in the context of the present debate over the leaking of classified information during wartime. Our enemies are clearly exploiting this media-enabled weakness—and the media are just as clearly not going to exercise judgment in a profit-driven environment where getting the story out as quickly as possible is all that matters, even if—especially if?—it damages national security. Ahmadinejad and the mullahs have already experienced American weakness at its weakest, during the Tehran embassy hostage debacle, and what they see in America today is bringing back fond memories for them.
In a very real way, mainstream media’s culture of “If It Bleeds It Leads” is becoming a major liability in the clash of civilizations.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Oh, yes, modern-day universities are such bastions of free expression...
"Pennsylvania State University has cancelled an art exhibition about terrorism and the destruction of Jewish historical and religious sites claiming it 'did not promote cultural diversity.'
The ten-piece exhibit, by student Josh Stulman, was the result of years of preparation. It was called 'Portraits of Terror' and focused on images of Palestinian terrorism, hate-propaganda cartoons printed in PA newspapers and photos of Jewish holy sites destroyed by Muslims.
Just three days before the exhibition was to take place, Stulman received an email from the School of Visual Arts saying that his exhibit on images of terrorism 'did not promote cultural diversity' or 'opportunities for democratic dialogue' and the display would be cancelled, according to the PSU Collegian newspaper."
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Glad the lamestream media is all over this one... not.
NEW YORK (AP) — Mexican pop diva Gloria Trevi, Puerto Rican reggaeton star Don Omar and other Latino artists have recorded a bilingual version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in a show of support for migrants in the United States.
The Latino-oriented record label Urban Box Office (UBO) said Friday it will put the new Spanish-English version of the U.S. national anthem on the market Monday to coincide with the U.S. Senate's restarting debate on immigration legislation.
"We decided to re-record 'The Star-Spangled Banner' to show our solidarity with the undocumented migrants," said UBO President Adam Kidron. "Today we are Americans and 'The-Star Spangled Banner' represents everything to us."
If anyone can figure out what the hell that last line means, feel free to email me.
Friday, April 21, 2006
It gets better and better, paragraph by paragraph:
Eric Julien, a former French military air traffic controller and senior airport manager, has completed a study of the comet 73P Schwassmann- Wachmann and declared that a fragment is highly likely to impact the Earth on or around May 25, 2006.
Comet Schwassman-Wachmann follows a five-year orbit that crosses the solar system's ecliptic plane. It has followed its five year orbit intact for centuries; but, in 1995, mysteriously fragmented.
According to Julien, this is the same year that a crop circle appeared showing the inner solar system with the Earth missing from its orbit.
He argues the "Missing Earth" crop circle was a message from higher intelligences warning humanity of the consequences of its destructive nuclear policies.
He concludes the May 25 event is tied in to the Bush administration's policy of preemptive use of nuclear weapons against Iran, and the effect of nuclear weapons on the realms of higher intelligences.
You know I love this stuff.
An article in Business Day on Wednesday about investors in The New York Times Company who withheld their votes for directors misspelled the name of the family that has controlled the company since 1896.
It is Ochs-Sulzberger, not Ochs-Sulzburger.
They misspelled the name of their own owners!!!
As an added bonus, I stole this graphic:
A bizarr-o story... will have to watch and see how this one turns out.
Of Mice and Minutemen
April 21st, 2006
Minutemen -- ready for battle in a minute's notice; enthusiastic, reliable, strong. Not too many nations can boast of such a term, such a legend, or such a reality. There are a few, but none so much as America, where the citizen-soldier is the embodiment of Independence and resolve.
There is a remarkable difference between a subject and a citizen, between one dependent upon one's government and one dependent upon no one.
Two recent examples:
On September 11th, 2001, thousands were killed while millions helplessly watched. But beyond the spectators, and among some survivors and some victims, were seen glorious acts of self-sacrifice and, thereby, the greatest act of love -- laying down one's life for a friend, in a moment when even a perfect stranger becomes that dear and worthy friend.
Many of these acts were seen only by God, who saw them all, but some were witnessed, and some have become the stuff of legends. Legends are good when they can be used to refresh and reinspire those who were far away from the original moment. Or who have forgotten. Legends can unify and point the visions of many into one focused direction.
One week from today, Americans will get an opportunity to, for a couple of hours, immerse themselves in the retelling of such a legend. On April 28th, in (thus far) 1700 theaters around the country, Paul Greengrass via Universal Pictures will present United 93, an (according to The Hollywood Reporter) "emphatic political document, a movie about defiance against tyranny and terrorism." A story from that horrific September day of collective and individual civilian, no-chance-to-survive-make-your-time defiance.
Everyday, men and women and, really, boys and girls, volunteer themselves to take up that mantle, to willingly don the uniform of that defiance, even at the risk of never seeing the fruit of that labor. As President George W. Bush has said, "We exercise power without conquest, and we sacrifice for the liberty of strangers."
But Minutemen do not only summon up that courage when the danger is foreign, sometimes the danger is more subtle, not flaring up in an instant but rather in a slow smoking that will burn brightly eventually nonetheless.
What is perhaps the cheekiest component of the Minuteman persona is the defiance towards the domestic danger, even if only cloaked in the banal banner of bureaucracy, and thus we arrive at the second example: Chris Simcox and his band of undocumented border patrollers, who have made a gesture of such true American spirit, one can really only stand up and cheer, or, at the very least, chuckle.
From yesterday's Associated Press: "Minuteman border watch leader Chris Simcox has a message for President Bush: Build new security fencing along the border with Mexico or private citizens will."
Regardless of how one feels about a fence, it's hard not to love the bravura. This is really the defining of the American attitude -- if something has to be done, and the government is blathering and dithering and doing meanwhile nothing, this does not in any way mean that it will not get done.
If more folks around the world took upon themselves this courage and determination, we'd have a lot less sacrificing to do on their behalf.
If illegal immigrants, instead of marching through the streets of America with demands, marched through their native streets with such passion, we might not need a fence.
If subjects of tyranny collectively realized that death was preferable to tacitly accepting barbarity, we'd need less uniforms.
And if the folks in charge find it easier to succumb to the mob than honor the law-abiding, they needn't be surprised when the law is taken back into the People's hands, from where it was taken. That ain't vigilantism, it's the American way.
Thread posted here.
Oh, this is too funny.
TUCSON, Ariz. - Minuteman border watch leader Chris Simcox has a message for President Bush: Build new security fencing along the border with Mexico or private citizens will.
Simcox said Wednesday that he's sending an ultimatum to the president, through the media, of course — "You can't get through to the president any other way" — to deploy military reserves and the National Guard to the Arizona border by May 25.
Or, Simcox said, by the Memorial Day weekend Minuteman Civil Defense Corps volunteers and supporters will break ground to start erecting fencing privately.
"We have had landowners approach," Simcox said in an interview. "We've been working on this idea for a while. We're going to show the federal government how easy it is to build these security fences, how inexpensively they can be built when built by private people and free enterprise."
Take that, bureaucRats! (LOL)
Thursday, April 20, 2006
By BRIAN LOWRY
Taut, visceral and predictably gut-wrenching, "United 93," Paul Greengrass' already much-debated look at Sept. 11, trades in some emotional impact for authenticity, capturing the overwhelming sense of chaos surrounding that day's harrowing events. The result is a tense, documentary-style drama that methodically builds a sense of dread despite the preordained outcome. While media attention has focused on reaction to the movie's trailer, strong ratings for earlier Flight 93 TV projects suggest there will be considerable curiosity, morbid or otherwise, about "United 93" that should translate into robust box office.
Indeed, a certain myopia seems to have overtaken those wringing hands over the "Is it too soon?" question. A&E's "Flight 93," a restrained and impressive achievement on a made-for-TV movie budget, and Discovery Channel's docudrama "The Flight That Fought Back" were major successes for those cable networks.
Inevitably, seeing the same events on a theatrical canvas provides an additional wallop, though writer-director Greengrass' approach -- from the jittery camera to the dozen or so aviation and military personnel who play themselves -- feels more determined to create a "You are there" sensation than to send the audience sobbing into the night. By contrast, a key element of both "Flight 93" and "The Flight That Fought Back," which employed chilling snippets of real audio, depicted friends and relatives of the doomed passengers on the ground, a nuance this telling fastidiously avoids.
Unfolding in real time once the plane is airborne for its 91-minute flight, "United 93" opens with the terrorists rising for morning prayer and blase passengers and crew engaging in mundane chit-chat that suggests just another ordinary day.
Oscillating between the plane's occupants, military personnel at the Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) and air traffic controllers in New York and Boston, Greengrass (whose credits include "Bloody Sunday") uses a hyper-natural style, chronicling the gradual dawning that the country was facing an unprecedented attack.
The controllers, in fact, at first can barely grasp that a hijacking is in progress, musing it must have been 20 years since the last one. In perhaps the starkest moment, they sit in stunned silence, mouths agape, when the second commandeered jet crashes into the World Trade Center, while an officer at NEADS bellows about being unable to defend the entire eastern seaboard with only four fighter planes.
To pound home the accuracy Greengrass sought, those participating as themselves include Ben Sliney, the Federal Aviation Administration's national operations manager, an adviser on the film who, remarkably, started in that job on Sept. 11; and NEADS Maj. James Fox.
It's roughly an hour into the film before the hijackers brutally leap into action, slaying the pilots and a random passenger. Initially terrified, the other passengers confer with loved ones on the ground via cell and air phones, with Thomas E. Burnett (Christian Clemenson) the first to recognize that their flight is another suicide mission and they must band together to retake the plane.
From the beginning, there has been something tragic and uplifting about Flight 93, the one plane that failed to strike its intended target thanks to the passengers' heroic stand. In that sense, the story became a symbol easily elevated to near-mythical status through facile catchphrases ("Let's roll") and newsmagazines eager to interview surviving relatives.
Greengrass, however, intently delivers a raw, unadorned view, letting the story's inherent drama speak for itself. That much of the cast is unidentifiable only adds to the reality he is determined to unflinchingly convey.
Even with its copious research, the film departs from prior accounts in several subtle and not-so-subtle ways, reminding us (as does a closing disclaimer) that this re-creation is just that -- based on the best available evidence, with inferences and composites constructed for dramatic effect.
Those qualifications aside, "United 93" is technically razor-sharp, from the editing and sound to John PowellJohn Powell's urgent but not intrusive score. Nor is the film's violence any more or less graphic than it needs to be, though something is lost in the one-sided exchanges with loved ones, as passengers come to grips with their likely fate and bid them farewell.
As for that aforementioned closing scroll, "United 93" carries a dedication to those slain on Sept. 11 and a note that the movie was in no way sponsored by United Airlines. Consider it a tribute to the film that each of those postscripts couldn't possibly feel more redundant.
April 20, 2006United 93By Kirk Honeycutt
Bottom line: Unflinching account of the terror aboard the fourth hijacked plane on Sept. 11 provokes deep, disturbing emotions.
Press notes for motion pictures are usually filled with dispensable, self-congratulatory puffery, but the one for the soul-searing film "United 93" contains this trenchant comment from its English writer-director, Paul Greengrass: Speaking of the 40 individuals aboard United Airlines Flight 93, the fourth hijacked plane on that day of infamy, Sept. 11, 2001, he notes that these were the only passengers and crew members on any of those ill-fated flights who knew about the other planes having been used as weapons and realized what was happening to them. "They were the first people to inhabit the post-9/11 world," Greengrass says. These were the first to react to the worldwide conflict we find ourselves in today. Within the microcosm of that reaction, Greengrass has made an emphatic political document, a movie about defiance against tyranny and terrorism.
How many moviegoers will be willing to endure "United 93"? I suspect many will, but what that adds up to in terms of boxoffice is anybody's guess. Understandably, controversy engulfs this film. Is now the right time for such a film? Why make the film at all? These are legitimate questions. No one possesses a "right" answer. But Greengrass has made not only a thoroughly fact-checked film but a film that uncontrovertibly comes from the heart.
Greengrass wants the 91 minutes United 93 was in the air to speak to our tenuous situation in a scary, riven world. A previous film by him anticipates this work. The invaluable "Bloody Sunday" (2002), shot as if it were made by a camera crew at the time, dramatized a 1972 incident in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, where 13 unarmed civil rights demonstrators were shot and killed by British soldiers. Here again he takes a hard look at a cataclysmic event to provoke dialogue.
To keep things as accurate as possible, Greengrass reportedly interviewed more than 100 family members and friends of those who perished. He hired flight attendants and commercial airline pilots to play those roles; hired several civilian and military controllers on duty on Sept. 11, including the FAA's Ben Sliney, to play themselves; culled facts from the 9/11 Commission Report; and rehearsed and shot his actors in an old Boeing 757 at England's Pinewood Studios.
Even Barry Ackroyd's hand-held cinematography, John Powell's muted, anxious score and the plane set fixed to computer-controlled motion gimbals to simulate the pitch and roll of the aircraft urge the viewer to think of this as a you-are-there experience. Yet no one really knows what happened on United 93. We have evidence from phone calls made from the plane and those interviews, but that's where it ends. And that is where an artist can pick up the story.
This is what it probably was like, and the experience overwhelms. Time passes in weird ways. The four nervous terrorists wait seemingly forever to make their move. The panicked passengers wait seemingly forever to make theirs. Helplessness engulfs us, then determination takes hold.
During these breathless moments, Greengrass cuts away to the desperation and confusion in airport control towers, the FAA's overwhelmed operations command center in Herndon, Va., and the military's unprepared operations center at the Northeast Air Defense Sector in upstate New York. For all their monitors and electronic equipment, there is a horrific, low-tech moment when controllers at Newark Airport get a perfect view across the Hudson of the second plane hitting a World Trade Center tower. No one can even speak.
In years to come, United 93 may enter our mythology in ways unimaginable. But for now, we have a starting point. "United 93" is a sincere attempt to pull together the known facts and guesses at the emotional truths as best anyone can. Then, in the movie's final moments, the impact of the heroism aboard United 93 becomes startlingly clear.
Universal Pictures and StudioCannal present in association with Sidney Kimmel Entertainment a Working Title production
Screenwriter-director: Paul Greengrass
Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lloyd Levin, Paul Greengrass
Executive producers: Debra Hayward, Liza Chasin
Director of photography: Barry Ackroyd
Production designer: Dominic Watkins
Composer: John Powell
Costume designer: Dinah Collin
Editors: Clare Douglas, Christopher Rouse, Richard Pearson
Donald Freeman Greene: David Rasche
Himself: Ben Sliney
Capt. Jason M. Dahl: JJ Johnson
Todd Beamer: David Alan Basche
Sandra Bradshaw: Trish Gates
Wanda Anita Green: Starla Benford
Maj. Kevin Nasypany: Patrick St. Esprit
Jeremy Glick: Peter Hermann
MPAA rating R
Running time -- 111 minutes
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Muhammad Abu al-Hawa was a 42-year-old father of eight when he died last Wednesday night. As Israeli Jews were beginning our Pessah Seders and retelling the story of our exodus from Egypt and our rebirth as a free nation, Abu al-Hawa was being tortured by Fatah terrorists. As we ate our Seder meal, he was shot seven times. As we called out "Next year in Jerusalem," Abu al-Hawa's body and car were torched.
Abu al-Hawa was tortured and murdered because he stood accused of committing what the Palestinians consider a capital crime. Eight young children were orphaned last Wednesday night because their father allegedly sold an apartment building in Israel's capital city to Jews. The building in question is located in Jerusalem's A-Tur neighborhood, just above the Temple Mount on the Mount of Olives.
Muhammad Abu al-Hawa was buried in a makeshift cemetery on the road between Jerusalem where he lived, and Jericho where he was murdered. His body was buried there because the Palestinian Authority's mufti in Jerusalem, Ikremah Sabri, has barred all Muslims accused of selling land to Jews from being buried in a Muslim cemetery.
When the PA was established in 1994, the first legal step its chairman Yasser Arafat and its justice minister Freih Abu Medein took was to declare null and void all laws that had been in force until that date. After plunging Palestinian society into legal chaos, Arafat and Medein reinstated one law. That law was a Jordanian law which Israel had revoked in 1967. It made selling land to Jews a capital offense.
No further comment.
It has been waaay too long since I've posted any Lileks... obviously an embarrassing oversight on my part.
"Iran announces it will give Hamas $50 million to meet the bills. Pin money, you might say. Grenade pin money, more like it.
The day after the award, a suicide bomber kills eight at a lunch stand in Tel Aviv. Hamas, speaking with the exquisite sense of nuance and reason that got them elected to run the Palestinian Authority, defends the attack. They blame Israel's 'aggression' -- must have been the flowerpots knocked over on the way out of Gaza -- and call the action 'self-defense.'
This may seem absurd to some, since the people killed were waiting in a line at a falafel stand. If you believe the Jews exist only to weave dark plots against innocent Muslims and gentiles, well, yes, it's self-defense. The mother of two who was killed in the bombing could have been taking a break from inventing invisible Mossad vampire robots. You never know.
How should the West respond? With furrowed brows, of course.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, through his spokesperson, called upon the Palestinian Authority 'to take a clear public stand against such unjustifiable acts of terrorism.' In other words, Annan wants Hamas to condemn as 'unjustifiable' something it has just justified. And do so sincerely. This is the response of civilized men to barbarity: They're reduced to begging for a lie.
Peeved that the usual niceties of diplomatic lingo are being ignored, Annan has also asked Iran to dial down the blowtorch rhetoric. Enough with the 'death to America'; perhaps something along the lines of 'a persistent rash to America, not entirely explained away as contact dermatitis' or 'a broken arm to America, easily set but requiring it to spend the summer in an itchy cast.'
The world could live with that, because then we could understand it was all a metaphor. And it is a metaphor, isn't it? These are all just dramatic gestures that must be understood in the context of a volatile region. They're shouting 'theater' in a crowded fire. Right?
Oh, absolutely. That would explain why Iran has created an elite squad of dedicated Human Similes, or, as they call them, 'The Special Unit of Martyr Seekers.'
These are battalions of suicide bombers who will attack American and British interests if the West dares to interfere with Iran's nuclear bomb program. These heroic would-be falafel-stand exterminators appeared in a recent parade, 'dressed in olive-green uniforms with explosive packs around their waists and detonators held high,' according to England's Sunday Times. Wonderful. How seasonal. In your Martyr's bonnet, with all the wires upon it.
Iran says 40,000 have signed up. The Seekers are run by 'Dr.' Hassan Abbasi (one suspects the doctoral program requirements are somewhat different in the Islamic Republic), a chap who runs the 'Centre for Doctrinal Strategic Studies' for the Republican Guard.
Sounds so very civilized, no? Doctors and Centres and Studies both Strategic and Doctrinal. We have the Heritage Foundation, they have think tanks that develop religious rationales for sending boys to clear minefields with their bodies. Surely there's some common ground.
Surely a country that spells 'Centre' in the English fashion can be reasoned with. Granted, Abbasi has said that 'Britain's demise is on our agenda,' but it's a cry for respect, really. When a country announces it has 40,000 suicide bombers, and its president announces that Israel is 'a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm' and pledges the destruction of America, it's a sign we have to sit down and ask: What's on your mind, really?
Fear not. Oh, we'll talk. And talk and talk. The U.N. has taken the carrot-and-stick approach. The stick: threatening a fresh round of scowls from the Security Council. The carrot: Iran has just been elected deputy for Asian nations for the U.N. commission on ... disarmament.
That probably comes with an extra parking spot in the U.N. garage. There's not a member of the diplomatic corps who believes Iran would be stupid enough to jeopardize such a plum. Why, it's close to the elevator. They may be mad, but they're not crazy.
April 19, 2006"
"As the international community looks into ways of stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons, an Iranian representative was elected to be the vice chair of the UN's disarmament commission.
The commission, which began its annual conference last week, was established by the UN General Assembly in the early 50's in order to promote disarmament and to review international treaties dealing with nuclear energy.
The commission does not have any authority to enforce its decisions and is not connected to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is the international nuclear watchdog that is now investigating Iran's nuclear program and is expected to report to the UN Security Council by the end of the month.
The new Iranian vice chair, Mehdi Danesh-Yazdi, who is also the country's ambassador to the UN, said last week that Iran will cooperate with the IAEA and will 'seek an acceptable venue for holding transparent talks with interested parties.' The ambassador, who is one of three vice-chairpersons, said during the meeting of the commission that Israel's nuclear stockpile is among 'the major sources of concern with regard to global peace and security.'
The election of Iran to the senior post in the disarmament commission drew sharp criticism from US lawmakers and from Jewish organizations that are fighting against a nuclear Iran.
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who heads the House subcommittee on the Middle East issued a statement in which she compared the decision to 'appointing a serial killer to serve as a juror in a murder trial.'
Ros-Lehtinen added that choosing Iran to be the vice chair of the commission proves that the UN and the international community are 'ineffective in preventing Iran from achieving nuclear capabilities.'
The American Jewish Congress' chairman Jack Rosen said that the vote in the disarmament committee amounts to 'a rude slap in the face of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the UN Security Council.'"
Okay, that's it. Really. Enough's enough. Whoever has been hoarding the crazy pills, it is way beyond time to share!
I love this guy, and I'm going to have to call him and tell him so.
Oh, and LOL!!! This is the new exhibit 'A' in the "What Is Better About America" encyclopedia... if the gub'mint don't do it, WE'LL DO IT OUR DAMN SELVES!
Givin' you the whole thing, 'cause I'm good like that. Originally here:
However the Duke lacrosse rape case turns out, one lesson that absolutely will not be learned is this: You can severely reduce your chances of having a false accusation of rape leveled against you if you don't hire strange women to come to your house and take their clothes off for money.
Also, you can severely reduce your chances of being raped if you do not go to strange men's houses and take your clothes off for money. (Does anyone else detect a common thread here?)
And if you are a girl in Aruba or New York City, among the best ways to avoid being the victim of a horrible crime is to not get drunk in public or go off in a car with men you just met. While we're on the subject of things every 5-year-old should know, I also recommend against dousing yourself in gasoline and striking a match.
Everyone makes mistakes, especially young people, but the outpouring of support for the victims and their families is obscuring what ought to be a flashing neon warning for potential future victims.
Whenever a gun is used in a crime, there are never-ending news stories about how dangerous guns are. But these girls go out alone, late at night, drunk off their butts, and there's nary a peep about the dangers of drunk women on their own in public. It's their "right."
Yes, of course no one "deserves" to die for a mistake. Or to be raped or falsely accused of rape for a mistake. I have always been unabashedly anti-murder, anti-rape and anti-false accusation -- and I don't care who knows about it!
But these statements would roll off the tongue more easily in a world that so much as tacitly acknowledged that all these messy turns of fate followed behavior that your mother could have told you was tacky.
Not very long ago, all the precursor behavior in these cases would have been recognized as vulgar -- whether or not anyone ended up dead, raped or falsely accused of rape. But in a nation of people in constant terror of being perceived as "judgmental," I'm not sure most people do recognize that anymore.
It shouldn't be necessary to point out that girls shouldn't be bar-hopping alone or taking their clothes off in front of strangers, and that young men shouldn't be hiring strippers. But we live in a world of Bill Clinton, Paris Hilton, Howard Stern, Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman," Democratic fund-raisers at the Playboy Mansion and tax deductions for entertaining clients at strip clubs.
This is an age in which the expression "girls gone wild" is becoming a redundancy. So even as the bodies pile up, I don't think the message about integrity is getting through.
The liberal charge of "hypocrisy" has so permeated the public consciousness that no one is willing to condemn any behavior anymore, no matter how seedy. The unstated rule is: If you've done it, you can't ever criticize it -- a standard that would seem to repudiate the good works of the Rev. Franklin Graham, Malcolm X, Whittaker Chambers and St. Paul, among others.
Every woman who has had an abortion feels compelled to defend abortion for all women; every man who's ever been at a party with strippers thinks he has to defend all men who watch strippers; and every Democrat who voted for Bill Clinton feels the need to defend duplicity, adultery, lying about adultery, sexual harassment, rape, perjury, obstruction of justice, kicking the can of global Islamo-fascism down the road for eight years and so on.
This is crazy. (I can say that because I've never been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. Although I did test positive for "Olympic fever" once.)
In no area except morality would a sane person believe he can't criticize something stupid because he's done it. How about: If you've ever forgotten to fill up your car and run out of gas, you must forevermore defend a person's right to ignore the gas gauge. Or if you've ever forgotten to wear a coat in cold weather and caught a cold, henceforth you are obliged to encourage others not to dress appropriately in the winter.
This deep-seated societal fear of being accused of "hypocrisy" applies only to behavior touching on morals.
But we're all rotten sinners, incapable of redemption on our own. The liberal answer to sin is to say: I can never pay this back, so my argument will be I didn't do anything wrong.
The religion of peace's answer is: I've just beheaded an innocent man -- I'm off to meet Allah!
I don't know what the Jewish answer is, but I'm sure it's something other than, "therefore, what I did is no longer bad behavior" -- or the Talmud could be a lot shorter.
The Christian answer is: I can never pay this back, but luckily that Christ fellow has already paid my debt.