Actress Jane Seymour now says The Terminator has fathered two more illegitimate children other than the one he has admitted to. The big problem I have with Arnold (Please Tell Me That Bump in Your Tummy is a Tumor) Schwarzenegger is not so much what he did to impregnate various women, although I think it’s despicable, it’s that he did the same thing to California for seven years as governor. Depressingly, only in our celebrity-obsessed culture could someone who had as much business being a governor as you or I be elected as chief executive of the most populous state in the union. Had he, instead of being Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor been Arnold Schwarzenegger, insurance agent, or held any other job, his candidacy would have been a joke. As it turned out, that’s what his time in office was.
Gilbert Gottfried was never my cup of tea. I prefer the cool paradoxes of Steven Wright, say, to Gottfried’s squinty, barking dog comic routine, though he was funny in the delightfully filthy documentary “The Aristocrats.”
It seems subversively un-American to suggest that the Academy Awards have almost outlived themselves, become superfluous and are even a bit of a drag. The original purpose was mainly to provide a forum for hosts like Bob Hope, Johnny Carson and Billy Crystal to zing the nominees and Hollywood, for the film industry to prime the post-holiday box office pump, and for the actors to congratulate themselves for their gift to mankind.
One byproduct of the turmoil in Egypt is the focus on the Muslim Brotherhood. Some, including President Obama, appear to think that the Brotherhood is a legitimate political party; others disagree. Here are a couple of sources to help you decide for yourself.
Nothing starts arguments like published lists, which is why the final days of any year are filled with delicious arguments about what received too much or too little attention in the previous 12 months.
The school board at Evanston Township High School, near Chicago, voted unanimously to eliminate a separate freshman honors track in humanities, because too few minority kids qualify. There will be humanities — “English” and “social studies” to us old-timers — honors, but students will pursue it within a general course. That is the idea, as best I can determine — conversations with ETHS officials tend to devolve into education theory jargon, and I hold a small candle of hope that this might be the best idea in the world — that it will, as they believe, inspire more students to do better work, and I just don’t understand it. But it seems predicated on the belief that a teacher instructing a room of excited students can operate the same as a teacher with a roomful of less inspired students. Is that so?
It’s easy to criticize what Christopher Hitchens has said about Judaism and Israel. I have done it myself at great length, in 2007. But I think that in 2010, on balance, I’d call Hitchens objectively pro-Zionist, and an indispensable voice for human freedom.
Fairly or unfairly, leaders are made or unmade during emergencies. George W. Bush grasped was made by 9/11 and unmade during Katrina. Barack Obama was unmade by the Gulf oil spill. In Israel Ehud Olmert was unmade by the second Lebanon War. Benjamin Netanyahu is being made by his brilliant response to the Carmel mega fire. He has set clear goals, acted with decisiveness, dispatch and caring. Unlike Olmert, he repeatedly demonstrated solidarity with the burning North. Not only did he visit with the first respondents, flew over the affected area but had his cabinet meet in one of the formerly evacuated towns.
Jon Stewart, as part of his recent Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Keep Fear Alive to celebrate ‘moderation’ and ’sanity’, asked Cat Stevens to perform as the person who ‘pulls us back to sanity’. Cat Stevens converted to Islam years ago and took the name Yusuf Islam. He supported the call to assassinate Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses, and more recently said he agrees with stoning women to death for adultery.
Yesterday, the state of Oklahoma approved a referendum banning the application of sharia law. Various Islamic representatives called this fear-mongering that would hurt Muslims; I call it an excellent idea.
Here’s a crisp, Marine gate-guard’s salute to all the men and women in America’s military services who have fought our wars for us and who have suffered misery, injury, death — and sometimes cold ingratitude in return. We owe them a debt beyond explication. Their national holiday is shortly before us.
In the welter of anti-Israel speeches, boycotts, accusations of Israeli apartheid and Nazism, here’s one rational voice. UK Methodist preacher David Hallam is suing his church for its decision to boycott some Israeli goods.
For those who wonder how to distinguish between ‘moderate’ Muslims and Islamists, here’s a ‘quiz’ developed by Dr. Tawfik Hamid, an Egyptian-American who once belonged to a radical group and is now an outspoken opponent of Islamism. Dubbed the Radical Islam Support Test, it’s presented in his excellent book, Inside Jihad (pp. 114-15):
Earlier this year, the State of Louisiana passed a law requiring Louisiana courts to base their decisions on American and Louisiana law, not Islamic sharia law. The goal is to pre-empt judges who seek to make exceptions for Muslims - usually at the expense of a woman, in spousal abuse or divorce cases.
For those few (including President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg) who still think Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is a ‘moderate’, here’s proof he’s not. According to the Associated Press: “The imam behind a proposed Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero cautioned Wednesday that moving the facility could cause a violent backlash from Muslim extremists and endanger national security.”
Some time during the long summer, I bumped into Lang Lang in a radio studio and took a moment to congratulate him on his techno-comm skills. Lang Lang and his works can be found on every medium of electronic transmission invented up to and including last Thursday. He is tweeted, facebooked, i-Googled, B&N-ded and, in all likelihood, apped on an abacus. He has a brilliant website, updated 24/7.
Raymond Ibrahim surveys commentary from Arab countries on the Mega-Mosque proposal and finds prominent spokesmen, including from the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, who think it’s a really bad idea. Indeed, so bad that they assume it’s a Zionist conspiracy to link Islam to 9/11. (Hint: dubbing anything a ‘Zionist conspiracy’ is not/not a compliment!)
I bet you haven’t heard about HR2765 entitled “Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act.” It’s the new law protecting First Amendment rights of American authors and publishers from foreign libel lawsuits. I’ve written about it before; it’s a vital piece of protection which passed both Houses of Congress unanimously (which in this day and age is saying something).
A man who really likes a woman will not forget about her – will not forget to call when he said he would, will not forget he had a date with her, will not forget to put her name on a list, will not forget it’s Valentine’s Day, will not forget her birthday, will not forget her number…he will not forget! But the man who’s not that into you? He’ll forget – a clear red flag, and one once waved should be your signal to forget about him. Cross him off your list. Let him go. Don’t agonize. In a word: Next!
Heretical as it may be to dis a Robert Duvall movie, Get Low, a film that pretends to show us that good and evil are not poles apart but intertwined, remains a slow-paced movie that upends no conventions and ends with a mawkish celebration of the basic goodness of even the most ornery soul. It begins with the image of a man fleeing a blazing fire, leading us to believe that he’s the one who torched it before running for his own safety. Soon enough, we meet the grizzled recluse who has secluded himself from the community for forty years, taking intermittent potshots at those who invade his space or cross his animals. Duvall has owned this character and played variations of it for many years so that now, with nothing new added to the formula, the performance and the film are predictable and boring. We know that beneath his meanness beats a heart that has been broken - the only remaining question is how.
The cover of this week’s Time Magazine is, no doubt about it, genuinely a shocker, showing as it does a lovely young Afghan woman. Lovely that is, but for the yawning orifice in the middle of her face where her nose should be. As the text explains,young Aisha had run away from husband and abusive in-laws. Caught, the local Taliban commander ordered her to be punished. Her brother-in-law held her down while her husband took a knife and first cut off her ears and then her nose as she writhed and screamed before her village folk. According to Time’s Managing Editor Richard Stengel, Aisha is now in a secret place, cared for by NGO Women for Afghanistan. Shortly she will be flown to the States for restorative surgery at the Grossman Burn Foundation.
Four years ago tomorrow, Academy Award winner Mel Gibson was stopped and arrested for DUI in Malibu, California. Gibson allegedly asked the arresting officer if he were Jewish and then allegedly swore at the Jews, saying, “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.”
My family goes back to the Spanish settlers of the 18th Century. In high school I told a foreigner I identified first and foremost with being a Californian. Being an American was secondary. I loved both, but my romance with California became like the ache that comes from your girl sleeping around. California’s heading off to the honkytonks one more time is why I lit out.
At 36, he is inexperienced but full of idealism and unlikely to get worn down by world-weary professors in the front desks who have seen it all before. As Peter Dobrin has reported, the players liked him more than any other guest conductor in the past couple of years.
Lot of journalist vs. journalist stuff of late: Last week was the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel quitting/being fired over the outting of messages about other journalists (and conservatives he was covering) that he posted on a listserv called JournoList. Weigel, who is somewhat conservative (though admittedly more on the cultural libertarian part of the spectrum) responded to the controversy over here. The issue got even more messy when liberal Ezra Klein (who still blogs for the W. Post) owner of the liberal-filled JournoList noted that one of the outlets that exposed Weigel’s emails was Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller — not so long after Carlson asked to join JournoList and was turned down.