Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has more diacritical marks over his last name than the length of it can handle, an apt metaphor for what’s wrong with his latest film. As mere mortals, filmgoers have a quota for how much tragedy they can absorb before zoning out and wishing they were watching Schindler’s List instead of Biutiful. Just as the suffering of a few people affects us more deeply than seeing statistics of wholesale slaughter, the piling on of terminal cancer, mental illness, child abuse and abandonment, environmental pollution, slave labor, exploitation and corruption, immigrant alienation, adulterous betrayals, the decadence of the west and the accidental murder of two dozen people effectively suffocate us so that we don’t feel any of it after the first hour. Lest you think I’ve exaggerated, I’ve left out the bedwetting, adult incontinence, chemotherapy, excrutiating pain, alcoholism and drug addiction that are also interwoven in this overstuffed tapestry of man’s fate.
To the list of historic figures who have been to Chicago yet it is somehow hard to imagine walking the streets here — Oscar Wilde comes to mind, or George Armstrong Custer, or Golda Meir, who lived at 1306 S. Lawndale — we add Hu Jintao, the president of the People’s Republic of China.
Everyone who cares about democracy in the world - except those with clinically meaningful depression - should be reading the wonderful blog by Eva Balogh, Hungarian Spectrum ( http://bit.ly/fui2mH ) who covers what’s happening in that sad country. Ms. Balogh had great hopes that the Fidesz government would be forced to modify its odious new Media Law by liberal opinion in Europe and the disapproval of the EU. Today’s entry on how the “Council of Europe” was easily outmaneuvered shows that her hopes were misplaced.
It also shows that there is nothing in the EU as presently constituted that has any interest in whether or not its individual members are democratic countries - as one would expect, but many assume. Moreover, there is no reason to assume that when democratically suspect countries enter the EU in the future - such as Turkey - they will encounter pressure to move back towards democracy. It’s far more likely that the behavior of Turkey’s ruling party will only serve to “encourager les autres.”
Another reason to regret Jewish investment in the Holocaust. William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary committed to hedging UK support for Israel against terrorists, is pledging - and thank you so much for this - “that the British government will “take an active approach” to Holocaust education.
The Foreign Secretary said he was determined to encourage a “wider public understanding of the history of 1933-1945, and the lessons to be drawn” and called on other countries to do the same.” (Jewish Chronicle, 1.27.11)
As I wrote in the Weekly Standard earlier this month, http://tinyurl.com/4c5qgwh , the notion that getting people to understand the terrible lessons of the Holocaust will diminish anti-semitism and make Jewish existence less problematic is the opposite of the truth. The Holocaust should be remembered among ourselves, and our dead never forgotten - but here we see genuflection to the Holocaust in the interest of deflecting our attention to consequential anti-Jewish action by an important player.
Cameron and Hague are acting shamefully, but but we deserve more shame for our foolishness.
Many Chicagoans are familiar with the phrase, “We don’t want nobody nobody sent,” the classic stone wall blow-off that newcomers receive when trying to get their foot in the door for a job or political office. It means both: a) Who the heck are you? and b) Scram.
They like you to be seated pretty early in the House Gallery for State of the Union addresses. As a grizzled veteran of two — George W. Bush’s third and Barack Obama’s second, on Tuesday night — I can tell you some things don’t change.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama made a big show of announcing a five-year budget freeze of non-defense discretionary spending. How is this meaningless and destructive? Let us count the ways.
One of the greatest of America’s heroes in the Vietnam War has died. His name was Vang Pao. He was 81 and he led a remarkable life. He died in California’s San Joaquin Valley, where he had made his home and was the leader of thousands of the Hmong people who had fought for the US in Laos and who had settled, like Pao, near Fresno in California’s bread basket known as the Central Valley.
With the Chicago Bears’ defeat in the NFC Championship Game comes all sorts of criticism of their quarterback Jay Cutler for sitting out essentially the entire second half with a medial collateral ligament sprain. Reaction has been mixed from vigorous defense by his teammates to harsh criticism form the Chicago fans and other football players.
“The United States of America and the Kosovo Liberation Army stand for the same human values and principles…Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values.” — Sen. Joe Lieberman, April 28, 1999
A friend and I wandered into Ocean Grill, a quiet, sophisticated fish restaurant on New York’s Upper West Side, for a late lunch on the recent Martin Luther King Jr holiday. I heard that unmistakable deep, gravelly voice from a nearby table. It was social activist/calypso crooner Harry Belafonte. How coincidental, not only to run into an old family friend at this retro restaurant reminiscent of a luxury liner, but to reconnect with the long time civil rights activist on this commemorative day.
I’m mourning the loss of my beloved New York Jets to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game. I thought nothing could possibly pull me out of my Jets doldrums today when I spied this delicious headline: “Rahm Emanuel booted off mayoral ballot.”
It’s not clear who authorized the test flight of China’s new J-20 “stealth” fighter during Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ visit to Beijing, but the message was pretty clear: China has arrived — and we really don’t care what you think anymore, America.
Last year, at the height of the debate over ObamaCare, abortion became a central issue. Would the ObamaCare legislation allow taxpayer-funded abortions? Obama desperately wanted—needed—the bill to pass and could not allow a sideshow over abortion to derail it. He signed an executive order that at least theoretically banned taxpayer money from funding abortion. With that gesture, he won the support of Congressman Bart Stupak and several other Democrats who claimed that they opposed abortion. And with that, ObamaCare passed.
Having just read a piece by former New York Mayor Ed Koch, I must agree with everything he said in defense of Sarah Palin, but Mr. Koch failed to bring home his point – that Palin appears to have meant what she said and said what she meant when she accused the “left” of directing a “blood libel” against her.
In King Lear, one of the supreme works of the English language, William Shakespeare details the tragic plight of the impaired elderly as they exit the public stage. Lear, the formerly powerful fictional king, has divided his kingdom unwisely in “the infirmity of his age”. This incomprehensible act, which no one was willing to challenge, ultimately leads to a brutal internecine war in his kingdom and results in his death as well as that of his children.
The message came directly from Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the Iran-backed militia, to Hariri, son of slain prime minister Rafiq Hariri: We won’t allow you to request international support for the United Nations tribunal investigating your father’s assassination.