The greatest thing about movies is their ability to conflate reality with illusion, not just regarding special effects but in convincing us that actors are the characters they portray on screen. Movies made us believe that John Wayne was a war hero though he never served a minute in combat; we believed that Vivien Leigh, a neurasthenic, fragile British beauty was a southern belle with enough pluck to get her hands dirty in Tara’s soil; we believed that Rock Hudson was the ultimate lady’s man who enjoyed the many love scenes that he played with the screen’s sexiest women.
Dean Peter Richards of London’s St. Mary’s Medical School was a world-renowned expert in teaching medical students to become doctors. One of his key counsels was, “All doctors must continue to learn, and not only about new advances but to appreciate the limitations of all knowledge.”
A stranger named Dr. Alpert entered my dentist’s waiting room this morning and sat down. The answer to your obvious question of how I knew this stranger’s name is that as soon as she sat down, she pulled out her cell phone and listened to her voice mail messages on speaker. One was from a woman who sounded distraught and wanted Dr. Alpert to call back immediately; two others were less distinct. Dr. Alpert did not return the first call but she did call someone else- perhaps an adult child or a close friend - to chat cozily and loudly about how the play was coming along. As she did, the other woman in the waiting room and I faced each other with increasing discomfort, neither of us brave enough to say what we wanted: Lady, there’s a sign on the wall asking you to please turn off your phone - dammit, just do it!
“With the help of some former inmates convicted of rape, sodomy, child sexual abuse and other crimes, Martin raised a gray-block chapel in a rural patch of central Alabama in 2010, and parked old campers and recreational vehicles behind it to house the men. More than 50 convicted sex offenders have lived there since,” it says.
For one thing, the horrible murder of the Palestinian teen, thought to possibly have been done in retribution for the murders of the three Jewish teens, prompted an immediate condemnation from the White House — something it took nearly three weeks to get in the first case.
Indeed, over the past decade and particularly since 2009 when President Obama sent his letter to Ayatollah Khamanei as a prelude to engagement with the Islamic Republic, voices in Washington and in Brussels have asserted that the Khomeinist regime is strong domestically and is the only option available to the West for stabilizing the region.
“….You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, Before you are six or seven or eight, To hate all the people your relatives hate, You’ve got to be carefully taught.” (rodgers and hammerstein, South Pacific)
I have said repeatedly that the IRS scandal is the most dangerous scandal in U.S. history for one simple reason: in the past, when the IRS had been abused for political reasons, it was always elites vs. elites. That is, it was the Kennedys using the IRS as a political weapon against Richard Nixon, or Lyndon Johnson using it the same way against Nixon, or Nixon’s mere suggestion of using it to go after a certain political opponent (which he never did, by the way, and yet it was enough for the Democrats to make it the second Article of Impeachment against him). It had always been elites using the IRS as a political chainsaw against other elites whom they perceived as political enemies.
The kids from Brooklyn were unquestionably the greatest husband and wife songwriting team in American history, and he had top billing. Yet when Gerry Goffin, first husband and lyricist for Carole King, died recently, the Washington Post noted, “King became a household name as a solo star while Mr. Goffin receded into the background.” It was part of his personal tragedy.
Viewing today’s news through the prism of Jewish history, things aren’t looking so good.
For instance, what is likely the biggest thing going on in Israel right now — the fact that someone (presumably Hamas) has kidnapped three kids and the army is out in force searching for them in the Palestinian-occupied areas — did not make it onto the agenda for a conversation Wednesday between President Barack Obama and outgoing Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Despite the U.S. President and first lady each having weighed in on the unconscionable abduction of some 200 school girls, some weeks ago by some other Islamist thugs in Nigeria, the silence on the missing Jewish boys, one of whom is American, is conspicuous by in absence.
So, the whole state of Israel and Jews worldwide are praying for these boys’ safe return even as the Boko Haram barbarians reportedly kidnapped some 90 more Nigerian children, some as young as 3. This is what the world is dealing with — a mindset in which kidnapping children is a cause for celebration.
An Associated Press story notes that Obama and Peres discussed Iraq, Iran and Mideast peace, but not a word about the missing teens.
Meanwhile, even as Jews are reportedly fleeing France in droves, that country’s true colors came shining through on Wednesday with an A.P. report that government officials are “warning companies trading with Israeli settlers in the West Bank of the legal risks stemming from doing business in the settlements that it says are ‘illegal under international law.’”
A boycott no less odious than the ones with which the Nazis began their reign of anti-Semitic terror or the one the Presbyterian Church recently adopted hoping, obviously, to spark a similar episode. Why else would they follow the Nazi path?
A statement posted on the French foreign ministry website this week also urges anyone considering doing business in the settlements — areas that would be described as neighborhoods anywhere else — to “obtain appropriate legal advice before proceeding,” according to the story.
And, even as Francestan makes clear its position vis-a-vis Israel and the Jews, and the country careens toward Judenfree-ness, the Arab/Muslim world toward which it’s tilting also made its position clear, also on Wednesday, when A.P. reported an attack near Iran’s western border with Iraq killed three Iranian border guards. Also Wednesday, four near-simultaneous explosions went off in subway stations and outside a court building in Cairo, wounding three people and an explosion blamed on Islamic extremists rocked a shopping mall in Nigeria’s capital, killing at least 21, A.P. reported.
At the same time, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Mideast nations against “taking new military action in Iraq that might heighten sectarian divisions, after Syria launched airstrikes across the border and Iran flew surveillance drones over the neighboring country,” A.P. reported.
A senior Iraqi military official confirmed that Syrian warplanes bombed militants’ positions and that Iraq’s other neighbors — “Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — were all bolstering flights just inside their airspace to monitor the situation.”
This comes just days after fire from Syria killed an Israeli Arab teenager inside Israel and Israel responded with tank shells and airstrikes.
American officials said the more resent strikes appeared to be the work of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, A.P. reports, saying the target is believed to be this uber-nuts Islamist group calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which is trying to “carve out a purist Islamic enclave across both sides of the Syria-Iraq border,” which is clearly what the world needs now (like a hole in the head).
Meanwhile, “Afghan security forces fought back against a fierce Taliban onslaught by about 800 militants in a key southern province Wednesday as clashes that have killed dozens of people, including at least 35 civilians, stretched into a fourth day,” and “a suicide bomber blew himself up in his room at a Beirut hotel Wednesday as Lebanese security forces raided the premises,…” A.P. reported.
Does anyone else detect a pattern, here?
The blood-thirsty insanity is not limited to the Arab world and the parts of Europe in transition into Muslim countries.
A.P. also reports that the wife of Greece’s far-right leader was placed under house arrest pending trial for allegedly running a criminal organization.
This Greek lawmaker and her husband are part of a scary shift to the Nazi-like right that country appears to be taking.
Their “Nazi-inspired Golden Dawn party” — once marginal — is “now Greece’s third most popular.”
The story doesn’t say this, but my guess this is another example of humanity’s age-old progression from terrible financial crises to searching for someone to blame, to finding a convenient scapegoat in “the Jews,” even if no actual Jewish people are living anywhere near by.
By my count that’s a lot of extra weight on the Nazi/Islamo-Fascist side of the international ledger.
My passport is current; is yours?
As Israeli soldiers desperately search Hebron for the three Jewish teenage boys assumed kidnapped by terrorists, Palestinians protested after weekly Muslim prayers, using the popular new three-finger gesture — one for each missing teen — “in a sign of their support for the abduction,” according to the Associated Press.
I’ve heard so many people–on the left and the right—say that Obama’s goal has been to “end” the wars in which the United States has been engaged since the Islamic terror attacks against us on September 11, 2001. I think they believe that that is a sensible use of the word “end.” But a one-sided end is…surrender. The enemy gets a vote as to whether a war has “ended.” They get a veto over that concept. And unless and until they are thoroughly vanquished, the war—from their side—is not over. When they vote to continue the war, and we vote to “end” it, it’s a surrender.
Hillary Clinton, bathing in the glow of her new “memoir,” told ABC’s Diane Sawyer that she and Bill were “dead broke” upon leaving the White House. It’s funny: the evil 1% have a different definition of “dead broke” than the rest of us.
To borrow a phrase from John Updike, there can be a “tissue-thin difference” between defeat and victory. This week, Chicago hockey fans learned that painful lesson. Perhaps to assuage the pain, some characterized the recent Blackhawks’ elimination at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings as “a choke”. This does a profound disservice to the Hawks’ effort; they lost to a veteran and talented opponent by the narrowest of margins, in overtime of the seventh game. But for a fluke shot, the outcome might well have gone the other way.
As the Obamacare enrollment numbers moved from so horrible that the White House had no details to sufficiently tolerable that details were suddenly everywhere, supporters of the Affordable Care Act began to make a provocative assertion.
The first hour of “The Immigrant” is stunning in its cinematography that’s both gritty and glowing, its set-up of the plot, its immediate insights into the main characters and its perfect rendition of the look and texture of the lower east side of New York in 1921. Marion Cotillard plays Ewa, a young Polish woman escaping to America with her consumptive sister and hoping to be met at the ship by her aunt and uncle. Instead, the sister is remanded to the Ellis Island infirmary for six months, no one shows up to greet them and Ewa is scheduled for a hearing prior to being deported for low moral behavior on the ship. Cotillard is an actress whose face, even in repose, conveys all sorts of emotional undertones and this is a part that gives her free rein to express the full range of human responses - disappointment, gratitude, fear, anger, shame, love and forgiveness. She manages to do all this with unusual restraint, considering the drama of her situation. Joaquin Phoenix plays Bruno Weiss, an oversized character who is both burlesque impressario and pimp, and though he isn’t averse to using his stable of women, he also genuinely cares for them and pays them a fair share of their earnings. He first appears at Ellis Island and rescues Ewa from the line for rejects, paying off the immigration agents to remand her to him and bringing her into the double-edged quagmire of protection at the price of degradation.
Sixty years ago this month, a 25 year-old British medical student, and incidentally one of England’s best middle distance runners, amazed the world with a historic athletic performance. Six decades on, his story is much more than just that transcendent accomplishment; it is an inspiration to anyone who aspires to do the impossible.
Bad jobs and economic numbers, the disaster of socialized medicine, a collapse of American power and prestige in the world, and scandals coming out of their ears. No wonder the Democrats are sucking salt heading into November’s midterm elections.
Most of us are in awe of students who manage to get accepted to Princeton - it seems like they would surely be the creme de la creme with perfect SAT scores and grade point averages to match. At the very least, such students would have mastered the rudimentary rules of grammar that are essential for clear writing. So it was with disappointment that I read the following sentence written by Princeton student Tal Fortgang and printed in the NYT of May 3rd: While I haven’t done everything for myself up to this point in my life, someone sacrificed themselves so that I can lead a better life.” This was from an essay titled “Check Your Privilege,” first published in The Tory, a campus magazine.
The underlying problem with “Chef,” written, directed by and starring Jon Favreau is that he is the big enchilada and he has very little zing. The plot is so derivative that it seems pre-eaten and the film must rely on the personalities of the performers rather than smart dialogue or character development; in this category Favreau is missing both seasoning and charisma. To make matters worse, he has cast Sofia Vergara and Scarlett Johannsen as the two women in his life; you’d need someone with the screen presence of a Ryan Gosling or a young Jeff Bridges to play opposite these smoldering females - not a tattooed schlub who’s not too interesting outside the kitchen. We’re living in weird times when unattractive men like Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and Seth Rogen are big box office stars playing schlemiels who become the love interest of extremely beautiful women. In real life, such women might very well be interested in these actors but only because they are so successful - not for their looks or sad sack qualities.
Critics have gushed over “Ida,” the new film by Pawel Pawlikowski, perhaps mesmerized by the moody gray cinematography that telegraphs the message that this somber art film is weighty and meaningful. The plot concerns a young novitiate about to take her vows who is sent by the Mother Superior to meet her only living relative, a woman who had previously spurned the convent’s attempts to summon her. Obediently, the young laconic woman goes to meet this unknown aunt from whom she discovers that she is actually a Jew whose parents were killed during the holocaust. Unfortunately, this film comes after this year’s “The Jewish Cardinal,” “Aftermath,” “The German Doctor” and numerous movies from previous years that touch on the subject of what happened to the Jews of Poland. We are no longer shocked or even startled by the news that a young Polish nun in the 1960’s might have been a Jewish child - orphaned, rescued and brought to a convent.
The moving hand, once having writ, moves on. Last month, the satellite channel SiriusXM took its earliest decade-themed station, 40’s on 4, off the air for a three-month hiatus. In its place on that channel, Sirius is playing all-Billy Joel, all the time, and somewhere a computer is no doubt tracking the success of this temporary format shift to see who is listening to The Piano Man. But make no mistake, no matter what, the 1940’s playlist is on life-support, with an eventual plug-pull coming. It doesn’t matter if you’re In The Mood (Glenn Miller-1940), soon you will have taken your last Sentimental Journey (Doris Day-1945) on SiriusXM.
Clayton D. Lockett has gained international attention for having taken 43 minutes to die in an execution he was sentenced to after being convicted of murder, rape, kidnapping, assault and battery, burglary and robbery. If you read The New York Times, you will see his crimes summarized in 7 brief words in an article that consumes almost a full page: “shooting a woman and burying her alive.” (NYT 5/1/14)
An Argentinian film, written and directed by Lucia Puenzo who also penned the novel on which it’s based, “The German Doctor” moves slowly and ominously as we meet a handsome motorist who asks a family whether he can follow their car on the dangerous and unfamiliar road to Bariloche. The man is clearly attracted to the pubescent daughter in the family, a beguiling girl named Lilith who, though small for her age, is a bit like Lolita in her forward interest in the stranger. The mother in the family recognizes the man’s accent and begins speaking German to him, establishing that she is the alumna of a German school and the family is returning to Bariloche to re-open her parents’ resort hotel there. Soon after, the man becomes a boarder in the hotel, paying six months rent in advance and his involvement with the family deepens, becoming the fulcrum through which we will guess his identity.
The Iranian global construct can be perceived as a “Khomeinist Dome.” Iran’s strategy has been twofold—and sustained over decades, not simply implemented over the past few years and months. The regime has two simultaneous goals. One is to create a defensive sphere over the forthcoming strategic weapon before it is unveiled, and two is to suppress any internal opposition to the regime’s policies. The “dome” is a complex integration of Iranian foreign policy: Terrorism backing, using financial luring, exploiting Western weaknesses while at the same time expanding influence in the region so that by the time the greater shield is established, most U.S. and allied measures will be useless.
So, some time between 1035 and 1627 C.E. (or A.D. if you prefer), the name of a Spanish town changed from Jews Hill to Kill Jews, and there’s an effort under way to change it back, according to the Associated Press.
“Fading Gigolo,” a new film written, directed by and starring John Turturro, Woody Allen and several other top stars, has gotten short shrift from the NYTimes and the Wall Street Journal. Its premise is less funny than shaky: a going out of business bookseller finds an unconventional way for his now unemployed worker/friend to earn some extra money and get out of debt. John Turturro plays the sensitive part/time florist/book stacker who’s coaxed into male prostitution. Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara are the wealthy va-va-voom lovers who crave a menage a trois and apparently can’t find a suitable male without asking Woody Allen for a recommendation. As I said, the premise is shaky.
When the argument was made in The War of Ideas that the U.S. Middle East Studies elite had been causing failures in foreign policy and psychological distress on citizens for providing faulty expertise on the roots of Jihadi terror, some of the book’s projections had not yet been reached. They now have been. A Boston bombing victim Adrianne Haslet-Davis was frustrated by NBC’s repetitive use of the names of the bombers who caused her injury last year. She was participating in Meet the Press to discuss her experience. It turned out that the panel shifted the discussion to the personality of the bomber as if the terror act was a criminal aggression against her personally, causing her to leave the set. The media elite’s fascination with the personality of terrorists has been generated by U.S. academia’s assertion that the terror acts are expressions of individual frustrations by the Jihadi perpetrators, not products of their ideology.
Hence the discussion grows about the “private life of Dzohar” instead of the ideology that recruited him into the battlefield. This is a war, not a crime scene, and the Jihadists are members of a movement, not Hollywood stars. Ms. Haslet-Davis is right: she has no personal connection to a “frustrated Dzohar.” She is the victim of a Jihadi terrorist. NBC should thus discuss the terror ideology or the fate of victims of this ideology. Creating a link between criminal and victim in a global war serves to shift attention from the threat to national security to unnecessary mental torture of the victim.
NBC’s approach to the homegrown Jihadi menace needs to be corrected and so should the dominant Middle East Studies analysis of the roots of that threat. The victims of Ft. Hood had no connection to Major Hassan; the victims of the Boston bombing had no ties to the Tsarnaiev brothers; and civilians in Detroit had no relation to Abdelmuttalib, the so-called “Christmas Day Bomber.” The actions by terrorists against U.S. citizens, and citizens around the world for that matter, are generated by a conviction by indoctrinated groups and individuals that the Jihadi ideology is right and that killing in its name is legitimate. Unfortunately, the U.S. educational and opinion-generating elite is attempting to create a link between killers and victims rather than the global war waged by the Jihadists. In a sense, directly or indirectly, this trend aims at minimizing the real root cause of the threat. If anything, this might help the terrorists and dis-educate the public.
The visit came at the heels of severe crises in international relations—from Crimea to Kiev, Libya’s resurging violence, the unending war in Syria, an escalating security breakdown in Yemen, urban terror in Egypt, and car bombs in Lebanon and Iraq.