Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Movie "Nine" Goes Down For the Count

Nine is about the artistic and marital crises suffered by a prominent Italian movie director in the early 1960s. I saw and enjoyed the original theater version in New York in the early 1980s. However, it looks as though the makers of the movie version had some crises of their own.

Nine, like Chicago, is a musical whose numbers have a surreal aspect to them. In fact, it’s very much like Chicago, and by the same director, but largely without the good acting, the good dancing, the good music, the good lyrics, the good script, and the good plot. The title has to do with the main character's flashbacks and emotional attachment to his nine year old self, but why this particular aspect is so important is not clear, at least in the movie version, although I confess to stretches of, ahem, inattention. It has a large cast of non-Italian, non-singers playing Italians with bad accents who occasionally break out in song; why the makers of this movie chose to cast in singing roles so many actresses who cannot sing may be the eternal question about this film. If you do wind up at the theater, my advice is to have your female companion elbow you for the “Be Italian” number, the only one worth distracting yourself for, and then return to your email, your nap, or your deliberations on places to vacation next summer. The "Folies Bergere" number also could have been pretty good – it has a catchy tune, but having the very overexposed and very-post-ingĂ©nue Judy Dench, heretofore and hereafter not known as a singer, belt it out in a dress with a generous dĂ©colletage is too much to bear, capturing in a nutshell this miss of a movie.

Richard Balsamo

Monday, December 28, 2009

Obama Team Fails To Prevent Airline Bomber & Then Claims “System Worked”

A known radicalized Muslim, despite previously having been reported to authorities by his concerned and fearful father and despite being on some kind of security watch list, on Christmas Day buys a one-way ticket on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit and in-flight sets off a bomb that he smuggled aboard. The explosion that would have killed all aboard doesn’t happen only because of the bomber’s incompetence in properly setting off his device, which we hear could have brought down the plane, and because of the quick interference by a vigilant passenger, the “Flying Dutchman”, who lunged across seats to grab the bomber and extinguish a flame he had ignited.

Janet Napolitano, the Obama appointee who heads the Homeland Security Department, the federal agency responsible for, among other things, airline security, said of the almost-successful airplane bombing: “the system worked” (link). This is the woman who incorrectly said at one point that the September 11, 2001, terrorists entered the United States from Canada, and who has directed her Department to refer to terrorist attacks as “man-caused disasters”.

Unlike so many of Obama’s other acolytes, who are just dangerous to Americans, Napolitano is an idiot as well. But her fecklessness toward Islamic terrorism is, as the saying goes, not a bug but a feature for this pseudo-moderate President who is culturally a blend of Islam and black radical pseudo-Christianity and who feels that the sins of the West in general and of the United States in particular are the understandable fuel for Islamic terrorism.

The indefatigable Jennifer Rubin writes (link) at Commentary Magazine’s Contentions blog:

Janet Napolitano’s the “system worked” remark is going to go down as one of those memorably idiotic statements that for better or worse become forever associated with an official’s name…. It reveals a fundamental policy cluelessness and sense of denial that we have learned, unfortunately, permeates the entire Obama administration…. A Georgetown University terrorism expert added, “This incident was a compound failure of both intelligence and physical security, leaving prevention to the last line of defense — the passengers themselves.” But the smartest observation comes from Ken Dunlap, security director of the International Air Transport Association: “We’ve spent eight years looking for little scissors and toenail clippers. . . Perhaps the emphasis should be looking for bad people.” But that would entail being candid about who the “bad people” are.
Being candid about who the “bad people” are was not a hallmark of the Bush Administration, with, for example, its random rather than targeted searches at airports, and it isn’t remotely true of the Obama Administration.

John M Greco

Friday, December 11, 2009

There Will Always Be an England (At Least in Memory)

More Islamicization stories out of merry England – they’re the drip, drip, drip of cultural water torture. It seems most Europeans, and many Americans, are in some sort of 1932-like haze, preferring to party like it's 1928 rather than face the coming storm there for the clear-eyed to see. They dismiss Barney Fife's (link) wise advice: Nip it in the bud, Nip. it. in. the. bud.

From Mark Steyn at the Corner at National Review Online (link):
Here are some snapshots of a society in very rapid transformation. First, by immigration: [Headline:] Record Level Of British Population Is Foreign-Born
Second, by the higher fertility rates of those immigrants: [news article excerpt:] The proportion of children born here to foreign mothers has also hit a new high. Some 24 per cent of the births in England and Wales last year – or 170,834 – were to mothers born outside the country.
Third, by marriage and conversion: [news article excerpt:] The former Roman Catholic from Warrington, who converted to Islam last year, gave evidence after swearing an oath to Allah and kissing the Koran.
But, if you look at the deference the state is willing to extend to Islam now and then pitch it ahead a decade or two, after more immigration, more births, more "reversions", one would not be sanguine about the long-term prospects of ancient English liberties. Nonetheless, complacency remains the order of the day. Anne Applebaum thinks we underestimate the appeal of "the very mildness of modern Europe" - or, as I call it, the vast gaping nullity of the multiculti state. Responding to an NR column of mine, Oliver Kamm in The Times of London professes to be "in favour of a vast gaping nullity".
The problem, as he'll live to see, is that that's only a transitional phase.

John M Greco

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Why the Left Loves Global Warming, or, What’s It All About, Alfie?

Why? What’s it all about? It seems to be about power -- the real end game of the global warming hype. The surest way to expand the power of government is to have a crisis that seemingly needs a bigger government. If global warming didn’t exist, the left would have to invent it (as it seems they have) or something like it. Some gigantic crisis only a world government run by elites can tackle, for the betterment of a united, and controlled, mankind. A green utopia run by enlightened elites, with the power to end poverty, strife (but only for a while at best), and, while they're at it, perhaps pollution (line from Evita, sung by dictator Peron: “why not [actually] do some of the things you promised to”). And, I think, the power to end liberty.

Posted by Jude at HughHewitt.com (link):
What is it about global warming and environmentalism that has so many leaders falling over themselves to be declared the most saintly and swift in response, even before the facts are in and agreed upon? Maybe, since the fall of Communism - and before that the utopian Marxist ideal - the world's political class, along with the many citizens who root for the elite political class as a matter of principle or to curry favor, have been searching for such a unifying concept to build the Super-State around.... It is all about power.
From Mark Steyn at National Review Online (link):
Beginning with FDR, wily statists justified the massive expansion of federal power under ever more elastic definitions of the commerce clause. For Obama-era control freaks, the environment and health care are the commerce clause supersized. They establish the pretext for the regulation of everything: If the government is obligated to cure you of illness, it has an interest in preventing you from getting ill in the first place — by regulating what you eat, how you live, the choices you make from the moment you get up in the morning. Likewise, if everything you do impacts “the environment,” then the environment is an all-purpose umbrella for regulating everything you do. It’s the most convenient and romantic justification for … “soft despotism.”
John M Greco

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Climategate Shows Global Warming Alarmism Is a Faith-Based Initiative

The “Climategate” scandal, or hoax, has seriously damaged the standing of academic scientists and peer-reviewed science in general, as we have seen how a large group of prominent “scientists” actively engaged in a conspiracy, de facto if not de jure, to deceive the world via faked “data” that purported to demonstrate global warming in the first place and its human origin in the second place.

What we do know: the earth’s temperatures are not static, they are constantly changing, sometimes getting warmer and sometimes getting cooler. At times, the earth has been a relative hothouse and at times it has been a relative icebox. Even recently, relatively speaking, England and Chicago have been under ice, but, on the other hand, Greenland was warm enough to settle on and be named “Greenland” rather than ice-land. All this before man began burning oil and coal in a big way.

We certainly must be as environmentally responsible as possible, consistent with actual science. But we should not destroy our economies and way of life based on fear instigated by fraudsters who stand to gain financially, from scoring big research grants to selling books, films, and “carbon credits.”

And we also know this: some of the big hypesters of anthropogenic global warming don’t behave in a way they themselves describe as environmentally responsible. To wit -- Al Gore’s gigantic and wasteful carbon footprint has been well documented, and the attendees at the upcoming Copenhagen world climate conference will generate a larger carbon footprint in a few days than some countries do in a year. All this makes normal people believe that the leaders of the movement don’t really believe what they’re preaching, appearing to be modern-day Elmer Gantrys.

Will any of this mounting evidence of fraud deter the global warming acolytes? I doubt it, since their faith was never founded in true science, which is properly infused with skepticism and based on open inquiry and reproducibility of results. Rather, they are true believers, for whom faith in man-caused global warming has taken the place of organized religion, bringing a sense of purpose and meaning. True believers are not dissuaded by absence of science, let alone proof of fraud.

In response to “Climategate,” global warming advocates must rely on the “fake but accurate defense” – there may be some fraud, but is should not distract us from acting urgently on global warming, since the so-called scientists were only faking data to demonstrate the man-caused global warming we all know is happening. It’s wasted effort to argue with true believers that it's largely from faked and uncertain "science" in the first place that we “know” that global warming is happening and that it is man-caused.

Given the scope of what the alarmists want the people of the world to do, what they advocate is, to borrow a phrase from the Bush II years, the ultimate faith-based initiative.

John M Greco

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Liberals Feigning Ignorance of History, To Their Advantage, So They Think

Two recent statements by liberals have astounded me for the boldness of their dishonesty, or, as Obama would say, of their “bearing false witness.” It happens all too frequently, unfortunately. For example, how about the immeasurable dishonesty from Democrats lately about Obamacare being budget neutral, not raising taxes, “bending” the medical cost curve downward, not negatively impacting Medicare (despite the hundreds of billions of dollars of cuts in black and white right in the bill), etc., etc.

I know these falsities are made to fool the foolable and to influence those inattentive to politics and history. But here’s what has struck me lately.

First from a liberal “journalist” at The Atlantic magazine, whom I see is still around – I would read the occasional article by him back 15+ years ago when I flipped through his magazine. Courtesy of Peter Wehner at The Corner at National Review Online, James Fallows writes this (link) at The Atlantic online:
I am not aware of a case of a former president or vice president behaving as despicably as Cheney has done in the ten months since leaving power … Cheney has acted as if utterly unconcerned with the welfare of his country, its armed forces, or the people now trying to make difficult decisions. He has put narrow score-settling interest far, far above national interest.
I could only shake my head reading this bald lie. I immediately thought of the multitude of outrageously disparaging comments made by Al Gore about Bush and Cheney during their 8 year run. Fallows is not an idiot – he surely remembers them. But as an apparent ultraliberal enslaved to his ideology, he can’t acknowledge that. He pretends Gore’s comments didn’t happen and thinks most of his readers won’t know any better.

Wehner reacts (link):
Let’s see if we can help Mr. Fallows by going way, way, way back in history — to, say, the George W. Bush presidency, when former vice president Al Gore charged that Bush had “brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest president since Richard Nixon,” and that Bush had “betrayed this country” and was a “moral coward.”
Funny, but I’m not aware that Fallows had anything critical to say about Gore at the time, even though what Gore said about Bush is far more personal and ad hominem than anything Cheney has said about Obama. You would think that Fallows, if he were concerned about the welfare of his country, its armed forces, or the people then trying to make difficult decisions, would have spoken up at the time. But shockingly he did not.
And there’s this whopper -- on November 6 Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, apparently responding to a report that one person of tens of thousands at various anti-Obamacare rallies had a sign with Obama as Hitler, said: “Imagine just a few years ago had somebody walked around with images of Hitler…” (link). Gibbs is either an idiot or a liar, and I suspect he’s not an idiot. If there was one constant about the many anti-Bush rallies over the years, it was the heavy doses of Bush as Hitler imagery (and Bush as a chimp as well). Just watching the occasional TV news show I saw countless examples. Yet here’s Gibbs, pretending none of that happened, and seizing on one supposed case to slur all opposed to Obamacare.

The Weekly Standard picked up on this bald lie and ran a collage of photos from rallies and exhibits with 56 images of Bush as Hitler (link; also nearby). As with Fallows, Gibbs surely remembers all that, but won’t acknowledge it, preferring to pretend the ubiquitous Bush as Hitler and Bush as a chimp imagery never happened.

I honestly don’t know why people like Fallows and Gibbs lie like this, when their falsities are so obvious to anyone half awake during the Bush/Cheney years. As I said, I know they say these things to fool the foolable and to influence those inattentive to politics and history, but in doing so they only reveal their debased morality.

Addendum: In the past, when liberals were in control of almost all national media, before conservative talk radio, the internet, and Fox News, Fallows and Gibbs would have gotten away with their statements uncontroverted media-wise in any effective, widespread way. But that was then. In today's world, easily refutable falsities won't fly any more (ask Dan Rather), though Fallows and Gibbs seem not to know that yet, almost certainly because they only read and watch liberal media, and they know those outfits won't call them on any fibs. Old habits die hard.

John M Greco