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Saturday February 28, 2004

Here's a review of the various reviews of "The Passion of The Christ" which attempts to illustrate the hypocrisy of the left:

On Wednesday, PBS' Charlie Rose convened a panel of savants to hash out the controversy of the film's purported anti-Semitism and Gibson's provocative and defensive public statements. A hash some of them made of it. Leading the attack, Vanity Fair's Christopher Hitchens appropriated rhetorical tactics employed by both political fringes. Like some segments of the Christian right when "Last Temptation" and "Dogma" came out, he called for a boycott of a film he apparently had not seen. And he exhumed that favorite old pejorative of the Bolsheviks, fascist: he said the movie is "quite distinctly fascist in intention," adding that it is "an incitement to sadomasochism, in the less attractive sense of the word." Hitchens let viewers wonder for a moment which kind he preferred, then clarified his definition: the film, he insisted, is "an appeal to the gay Christian sadomasochistic niche market." That must explain the movie's $23 million opening day. Pretty big niche.

Donning canonical robes, Hitchens found Gibson in violation of canon law. Hitchens declared that "He specifically rejects the findings of the Second Vatican Council," which absolved Jews of culpability in Jesus' death. But the Council "found" a lot of things; what Gibson disputed was not the resolution of the Jewish question but, for example, the abrupt shift in the Liturgy from Latin to the the faithful's own modern language. Another panelist, Newsweek's Jon Meacham, added the observation that "The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued pastoral guidelines about how believers should dramatize the Passion ... almost every one of which Gibson violates." A renegade Catholic, if Gibson is one, would be happy to diss and disobey the bishops. But what other movie has been charged by journalists with such an arcane crime?

I haven't seen the movie and I don't plan on seeing it. I don't do "splatter flicks". It doesn't matter if it's a campy teenage slash movie, real-life surgery on Discovery or The Passion of The Christ. I'm quite squeamish. I don't like to see violence or blood. I didn't see BraveHeart for this very reason. I did see (and totally regretted seeing) The Road to Perdition and felt bespoiled by it for days. That said, I find it utterly ridiculous for so many reviewers to complain about all the violence in "The Passion". Here's a review that I thought was very honest:

This discussion will seem beside the point for readers who want to know about the movie, not the theology. But "The Passion of the Christ," more than any other film I can recall, depends upon theological considerations. Gibson has not made a movie that anyone would call "commercial," and if it grosses millions, that will not be because anyone was entertained. It is a personal message movie of the most radical kind, attempting to re-create events of personal urgency to Gibson. The filmmaker has put his artistry and fortune at the service of his conviction and belief, and that doesn't happen often.

Is the film "good" or "great?" I imagine each person's reaction (visceral, theological, artistic) will differ. I was moved by the depth of feeling, by the skill of the actors and technicians, by their desire to see this project through no matter what. To discuss individual performances, such as James Caviezel's heroic depiction of the ordeal, is almost beside the point. This isn't a movie about performances, although it has powerful ones, or about technique, although it is awesome, or about cinematography (although Caleb Deschanel paints with an artist's eye), or music (although John Debney supports the content without distracting from it).

It is a film about an idea. An idea that it is necessary to fully comprehend the Passion if Christianity is to make any sense. Gibson has communicated his idea with a singleminded urgency. Many will disagree. Some will agree, but be horrified by the graphic treatment. I myself am no longer religious in the sense that a long-ago altar boy thought he should be, but I can respond to the power of belief whether I agree or not, and when I find it in a film, I must respect it.

Check out this from Amr Mohammed Al-Faisal :

Anyone following the Arab media today, whether written or visual, will quickly realize that we Arabs have a very serious problem. The problem is that we have an almost pathological aversion to accepting any responsibility for our present condition. Never before have we been so weak or irrelevant. We blame all and sundry for this. It is a Zionist plot or an American plan or, an increasingly popular excuse this, the repressive regimes who rule most Arab countries. A stranger to the Arab world who was listening to us would come to believe that we are innocent victims of international hatred and contempt.

It seems strange to me that I can see the clear and utter failings of the political and social structures of the Arab world so clearly, yet much of the world pretends that these problems don't exist. On the other hand, so much of the world is completely convinced that the U.S. is the source of most problems. Is this part of the great deception? Dunno.

I've heard lots of stories like this one lately:

A top U.S. anti-terrorism official says al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is on the run, amid what officials say is an intensifying hunt for fugitive members of the terror network. The U.S. official says he believes Osama bin Laden will be captured soon.

There have been several unconfirmed, unsubstantiated and probably untrue reports that he has been captured. One thing is for certain. There are renewed efforts to capture or kill him. This may be a result of new intel, or it may be a result of new and improved assistance from Pak. If we do capture or kill him soon (really, whenever it happens) just be ready for DemocRats such as Jim McDermott to say that the capture/killing was specifically timed to help Bush. That's not a very difficult prediction.

Here's a very interesting interview with the composer of the score for "The Passion of the Christ":

"I was stretched every which way but loose," Debney said. "I was stretched by Mel Gibson. I was stretched by the Guy Upstairs and also I was stretched by the guy downstairs. What it did was completely strengthen my faith and I have realized something very interesting. I had never before subscribed to the idea that maybe Satan is a real person, but I can attest that he was in my room a lot and I know that he hit everyone on this production."

Oil exports from Iraq continue to increase as second Gulf oil export terminal has opened.

An oil tanker has started loading crude at Iraq's second Gulf oil export terminal, Khor al-Amaya, an official of the State Oil Marketing Organization said Friday.

Earlier in the week, SOMO officials said the Khor Al-Amaya terminal would start loading at a rate of 300,00-400,000 barrels a day and gradually increase to 800,000 barrels a day.

However, some people refuse to see truth. I don't even bother trying to debate with these people. If an individual doesn't accept established fact, and resorts to intellectual dishonesty, then all attempts to discuss an issue in a rational manner is futile. Such a woman is Carol Nicklaus, writing in the Amarillo Globe News. She is lamenting our "terribly mistake" in Iraq and complains that we are "paying dearly". However, we are not paying as dearly as the Iraqi's:

But what about Iraq? What price have the people of Iraq paid? Sadly, they have paid a far dearer price than we. The country is in ruins, unemployment is rampant, and basic services such as water and electricity were interrupted for months. Archaeological sites documenting the legacy of ancestral civilizations are being pillaged at an unprecedented rate. However, the most devastating loss to the Iraqi people has been the deaths of thousands of civilians. We haven't heard much about the number of deaths of Iraqi citizens since hostilities began. Determining the correct number of these deaths is difficult due to various burial practices and the disruption of war. However, according to Reuters Global News, Feb. 12, 2004, most current reports place the number of deaths around 10,000.

Of course every civillian death is sorrowful. But let's put this in context. It's not like they were living in Vermont. Here's a look at Saddam's brutality from Defend America (not a favored site--it just came up first in a google search):

Documented chemical attacks by the regime, from 1983 to 1988, resulted in some 30,000 Iraqi and Iranian deaths.

Human Rights Watch estimates that Saddam's 1987-1988 campaign of terror against the Kurds killed at least 50,000 and possibly as many as 100,000 Kurds.

The Iraqi regime used chemical agents to include mustard gas and nerve agents in attacks against at least 40 Kurdish villages between 1987-1988. The largest was the attack on Halabja which resulted in approximately 5,000 deaths. Two thousand Kurdish villages were destroyed during the campaign of terror

According to Human Rights Watch, "senior Arab diplomats told the London-based Arabic daily newspaper al-Hayat in October [1991] that Iraqi leaders were privately acknowledging that 250,000 people were killed during the uprisings, with most of the casualties in the south."

"Over the past five years, 400,000 Iraqi children under the age of five died of malnutrition and disease, preventively, but died because of the nature of the regime under which they are living." (Prime Minister Tony Blair, March 27, 2003)

Of course, some people refuse to acknowledge the mass graves because they are so intent on casting the U.S. as the evil aggressor.

Thursday February 26, 2004

Universities are all busy exhorting the virtues of "diversity", however, they are, in many cases, loathe to allow any diversity that really matters: diversity of thought. How bad is it? Just read about this case at San Fran State:

Tatiana has also told me about posters on campus with a picture of a dead baby and the words Palestinian baby meat canned by the USA and Israel being hung all over campus, and of Palestinian and Muslim students openly exhorting to kill Jews during demonstrations.

Being from Russia and knowing what it is to live in a real totalitarian state, Tatiana has no qualms about supporting the United States and Israel in a place where to do so can make many other students fearful to speak out.

Le mot du jour: olla podrida. This brings back memories. Back in the day, I visited a mall in North Dallas by that name. I overpaid for this wonderfully hideous fur lined hat which was completely inappropriate for the north Texas climate. Lovely wife eventually sold it in a garage sale for like 50 cents. Memories...

John "Flip-Flop" Kerry on the Israeli Security Fence:

As three days of hearings at the International Court of Justice over Israel's security fence came to an end, an Israeli newspaper contrasted Democratic front-runner Senator John Kerry's positions on the issue now, and four months ago, when he addressing an Arab American audience.

Adopting a stance echoing that of the Bush administration, Kerry indicated in a statement issued this week that Israel had the right to erect the barrier, while its route should be carefully considered.

"Israel's security fence is a legitimate act of self defense," he said. "Israel has a right and a duty to defend its citizens. The fence only exists in response to the wave of terror attacks against Israel."

Kerry also said that President Bush was "rightly discussing with Israel the exact route of the fence to minimize the hardship it causes innocent Palestinians."

But this is what he said at the Arab Institute's national leadership conference:

"I know how disheartened Palestinians are by the Israeli government's decision to build the barrier off of the Green Line -- cutting deep into Palestinian areas," Kerry told the AAI audience in a video link-up.

"We don't need another barrier to peace," he continued. "Provocative and counterproductive measures only harm Israelis' security over the long term, increase the hardships to the Palestinian people, and make the process of negotiating an eventual settlement that much harder."

I read this somewhere (can't remember where) and I thought is was hillarious: "If consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, then John Kerry's mind must be freaking huge". Random thought: I'd love it if some enterprising journalist asked, "Senator Kerry, why the long face". It really is quite long. I suppose it's because of his unusually large mind lurking behind.

Wednesday February 25, 2004

I'm back after a hiatus--but just a short one today. Much to do.

It's cases like this one that make me in favor of the death penalty. No, it may not be a deterrent to the population, in general, but it is certainly a deterrent to the particular offender. He couldn't be released to kill again. Here's a case of a convicted killer who was almost released:

In 1973, Larry Delon Casey went on a rampage, shooting five people at random, three of them fatally. He was, in the words of the man who prosecuted him, Houston's ``original'' mass murderer. With the death penalty on hiatus, Casey was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

The next 30 years followed uneventfully for Casey; with a spotless prison record, he accumulated enough good-time credit to ensure a 2006 release. That all changed in December, though, when the inmate was charged with trying to hire a hit man to kill the prosecutor in his case and a former police officer.

His good time was yanked, and his release was pushed back to at least 2069.

I do, however, think the way that the judicial system handles death penalty cases is in serious need of reform.

Some of Thomas Sowell's random thoughts.

People who defended a draft dodger running for president a dozen years ago are now trying to make an issue out of President Bush's National Guard service. People who have been saying that everyone is "innocent until proven guilty" are now saying that whatever information is released about Mr. Bush's service "still leaves questions unanswered." The Encyclopedia Britannica leaves questions unanswered!

People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.

It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer "universal health care."

To liberals, "compassion" means giving less productive people the fruits of the efforts of more productive people. But real compassion means enabling less productive people to become more productive themselves. That way, the poor have not only more material things but also more self-respect, as well as more respect from others, and the society as a whole has a higher standard of living and less internal strife.


Astronomers were within minutes of alerting President Bush to a potentially devastating asteroid they believed had a 25 percent chance of hitting Earth.

The asteroid turned out to be even bigger than expected, about 1,600 feet wide, but it eventually passed the planet at a distance of about 7.5 million miles, about 32 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon, BBC News reported.

... On Jan. 13, some astronomers thought the object, at that time believed to be about 100 feet wide, had a one-in-four chance of hitting the planet within 36 hours.

Thursday February 12, 2004

Headlines continue to highlight the number of civillian casualties caused by the Israelis as they engage with Palestinian terrorists. Forget about the fact that Israelis attempt to target only combatants not civillians. Forget about the fact that Palestinians continue to specifically target civillians. Now comes photographic evidence that the Palestinians purposely put their civillians (mostly young boys) in harms way. In the picture to the right, you can clearly see that groups of young boys and men are gathered around terrorists as they take up positions against the Israelis. Truly sickening. A careful analysis of the casualty statistics show that the Palestinian civillian casualties are disproportionately young males.

A Reuters photograph taken in Shijaia in the Gaza Strip published in the Hebrew edition of Haaretz today shows armed masked terrorists taking up firing positions surrounded by Palestinian boys and young men.

The reckless attitude of the Palestinian terrorists towards Palestinian civilians plays a key role in the fatalities statistics as presented by the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya (see below).

While 40% of Israeli non-combatant fatalities 27 September 2000 through 10 February 2004 were female, only 9.3% of Palestinian non-combatants killed were female. While Palestinian terrorist murdered 221 Israeli non-combatants aged 45 and over, there were a total of 80 Palestinian fatalities aged 45 and over.

54.3% of all the Palestinian civillian casualties were young males aged 12-29. I think the picture above explains this statistic quite well.

Check out all the statistics of this engineered tragedy.

Here's David Horowitz on the relentless attacks on the Commander-in-Chief by the Democrats:

The fact that the President is now on the defensive over the war in Iraq is both puzzling and ominous. The Democratic attack on the credibility of the Commander-in-Chief has gone on relentlessly for more than ten months, ever since the liberation of Baghdad in April of last year. This ferocious attack would be understandable if the war had gone badly or been unjust; if Saddam Hussein had unleashed chemical weapons on the coalition armies, or had ignited an environmental disaster, or if the war had resulted in tens of thousands of coalition casualties, or become an endless quagmire, or instigated a wave of terror across the Muslim world as its opponents predicted before it began.

I think this explains exactly why there was a rise in tenor regarding the lack of WMD's in Iraq. It's not a new attack, it's just part of the same old attack--only this time, the Democrats were at least partially right. Well, that's not really true. I don't remember any Democrats before the war claiming that Iraq didn't have WMD. So it's not really correct to say that they were at least partially right. I guess it's better to say it's the one area where the anti-war folks weren't so completely and utterly wrong.

First, there were the ominous predictions before the war of thousands and thousands of casualties. Deadly urban warfare for control of Baghdad. Unleashing of chem/bio weapons. Burning oilfields. Numerous civillian casualties. Completely wrong.

During the drive to Baghdad, there were the loudly expressed fears of quagmires and setbacks. Completely wrong.

There were visions of uprisings by the majority of Iraqi citizens and the outrage of the "Arab Street". Nope.

Predictions of an increase in terrorism. Quite the opposite.

Post war Iraq is a complete mess with looting and lawlessness--we are losing the peace. Sure, there were some problems in the short term, but the coalition forces are rising to the challenge. Each time we have success and meet these challenges the bar gets raised. The only satisfactory outcome is now near-perfection.

The Democrats and the anti-war types have clutched at each of these fears in succession, hoping in vain to find some justification for their opposition. Each time they were disappointed and had to look for something else. Anything else. Anything to justify their opposition to a hugely successful campaign.

So now comes the lack of WMD's. Granted, this was only one of several reasons for going to war. Granted, they may yet be uncovered. But for now, this is the one justification the anti-war folks have for their position. They ought to play it up as much as they can, because it may be all they'll get.

Horowitz goes on to say:

The Democrats' attack on the President's war, then, is an effort whether Democrats intend it so or not to reverse these gains. If the President is defeated in the coming election on the issue of war and peace, as Democrats intend, his defeat will send exactly the reverse message to the world of nations. It will tell them that a new American government is prepared to go back to the delusions of pre-9/11, that it will end the war on terror and return to treating terrorists as criminals instead of enemy soldiers.

Yes, our enemies would love to have a Democrat in office. James Lileks agrees:

Let's just be blunt: The North Koreans would love to see John Kerry win the election. The mullahs of Iran would love it. The Syrian Baathists would sigh with relief. Every enemy of America would take great satisfaction if the electorate rejects the Bush doctrine and scuttles back to hide under the U.N. Security Council's table. It's a hard question, but the right one: Which candidate does our enemy want to lose? George W. Bush.