Archives January 2009

MOVIE CRITIQUES # 3

We’ve been to some of the end-of-season movies, when the Oscar contenders are generally released. Here are a few brief comments and ratings of the pictures we’ve seen so far.

 

 

Frost/Nixon:

 

8

Not for everyone. Young people who enjoy shoot-‘em-ups, vulgarity and raw sex will be bored to tears with this re-creation of the landmark 1977 interviews between President Nixon and his surprisingly adept nemesis, David Frost. But it’s a wonderfully made movie by Ron Howard, and an Acting 101 course for aspiring motion picture aspirants, particularly on the part of Frank Langella who immerses himself as the shamed president as well as anyone could possibly have done. He deserves the Oscar nomination, and movie goers who enjoy American history and political drama will be amazed by the performances.

 

 

Doubt:

 

8 ½

An intriguing picture that may provide Meryl Streep her third Academy Award as the imperious Sister Aloysius who suspects Father Flynn (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) of molesting a black student in the school, but without evidence. Moves slowly in parts, but the acting performances trump any criticism of the screenplay, which left me hanging, particularly at the end. Amy Adams is also deserving of her nomination for her role as the subservient nun, Sister James.

Another great course for students of Acting 101, and a deeply moving picture for folks who appreciate great acting.

 

 

Gran Torino:

 

8

How Clint Eastwood was overlooked for an Oscar nomination is a wonder. This is a one-man show, not only acted, but directed by Eastwood who — with so many epic films to his credit — has elevated himself to the levels of Spielberg and Scorsese. Eastwood portrays a cantankerous, old widower and a Korean war vet, disenchanted with his new Korean neighbors until he comes to their rescue from a violent gang. Good story. Surprise ending. See it.

 

 

Vallkyrie:

 

5

The story follows the attempted assassination of Hitler in the summer of 1944, from the point of view of plotter, German Col. Claus von Stauffenbeg, as portrayed by Tom Cruise. It follows the true events fairly well, but to my mind, it was like watching blue-eyed, Malibu surfer Jeffrey Hunter portraying Jesus in King of Kings. He just didn’t fit the role, eye-patch notwithstanding.

Cruise is a fair actor who would be better sticking to Mission Impossible -style roles

 

 

Seven Pounds:

 

9

I’ve not been a great fan of Will Smith, but he excels in this picture. He plays Ben Smith, an IRS agent with a mysterious past and an unexplained altruistic streak. Also includes a touching romance which takes on the most unusual twist that evolves at the end of the movie… not to be told here. Starts slow, but build momentum and captivating interest as it moves along.

 

 

Yes Man:

 

3

I like Jim Carrey. I like physical humor. This picture was just plain stupid, and below the talents of this great comic. Antics are overdone, much in the tone of Liar Liar, but less funny.

 

 

The Reader:

 

9 ½

One of the best movies of the year, and with Kate Winslet the only rival to Meryl Streep for the Oscar. In fact, in this movie, Winslet elevates herself a new plateau in women’s acting, worthy of mentioning her name in the same breath as Streep, Bette Davis and Kate Hepburn. As a middle aged woman in 1960s Germany, Hanna (Winslet) engaes in an affair with a much younger fellow, which eventually follows her through the latter stages of her troubles life. Saying any more would give away too much of the plot, but rest assured, this is a powerful and compelling movie, especially for those who follow the Holocaust. I can see Winslet winning this year’s Oscar.

Still to see: Milk and The Wrestler  

Your thoughts?

 

 

 

 

 

WAS LINCOLN A RACIST?

Not everything is as it seems, as many of us have learned during our lives.

Here’s a famous quote by Abraham Lincoln:

“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.”

Certainly a profound statement by a political leader who has been lionized over the last 144 years as the greatest president in American history and certainly, the beacon for establishing equal rights among the races.

But, is this all true, or simply an image? Was Lincoln that much ahead of his time? Did he really feel that blacks deserved parity with whites?

There is always more to the story, as we have learned about many idolized people of history. Many idols have been worshiped and adored only for us to learn later there was another side to him, or her. May we start with Bill Clinton? Rep. William Jefferson? Mayor Marion Barry? Men of the cloth, like Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. Sports: O.J. They all have one thing in common: Another side people didn’t see because they were blinded by awe.

We all need to bear that in mind.

The human psyche has a need to admire, to seek leadership and to adore. Just as our new president is riding the wave of unprecedented popularity today, buoyed by a love affair with the sensation-seeking media, history has bestowed divine-like reverence upon Abraham Lincoln, with memorials, biographies, movies, plays, and worshiping services that invoke his name as synonymous with humanity itself. He is a Jesus-like figure, particularly to the blacks of America.

But wait. Are we seeing what we wish to see? Or what he really was?

Here’s one of his quotes from a debate with Stephen Douglas in 1858:

“I will say, then, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the black and white races—that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which will ever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together, there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the White race.”
Hmmm.

Was Lincoln — the great emancipator — a racist after all?

Try another quote, well into the first term of his presidency, — Spoken at the White House to a group of black community leaders, August 14th, 1862:

“Why should the people of your race be colonized, and where? Why should they leave this country? This is, perhaps, the first question for proper consideration. You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side. If this be admitted, it affords a reason at least why we should be separated. It is better for both, therefore, to be separated.”

But what are we to make of the Emancipation Proclamation?

According to everything I’ve read from history, the proclamation was more a war tactic than it was an act of humanity. It required that any slaves that escaped to the north would no longer be considered as “fugitives,” but rather, refugees and eligible for employment in the Union military. As such, following that date, blacks streamed above the Mason-Dixon line.

Contrary to lore, the proclamation did not reflect Lincoln’s desired solution for the slavery problem. He continued to favor gradual emancipation, to be undertaken voluntarily by the states, with federal compensation to slaveholders. The Emancipation Proclamation was chiefly a declaration of policy, which, it was hoped, would serve as an opening wedge in depleting the South’s great manpower reserve in slaves and, equally important, would enhance the Union cause in the eyes of Europeans.

Should this diminish our admiration for Abraham Lincoln as one of the great presidents? Absolutely not. We must still realize he was a man of his time, not of his choice, when slavery and the concept of white supremacy was not considered ignorance in America, it was mainstream American thinking. Kids from all sides of the nation were born, bred and raised with that level of thinking, including Honest Abe himself. Thus, his actions which ultimately did free slaves and put the scourge society to rest for all time, turned out to be more inadvertent, it seems, than deliberate.

I’m sure many well-read people of all races know these things, including Barack Obama. Thus, I was pleased to see the new president use the Lincoln Bible during the swearing-in ceremony, as it acknowledged his respect and understanding of American history and put to rest all the unfounded fears that he would use a Koran, or some other document of questionable symbolism.

Finally, one more Lincoln quote: “Any people, anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right, a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world.”

Amen.

 

 

 

CURBING FREE SPEECH: A DANGEROUS TREND

 

In May of 2008, I posted a blog citing examples of how free speech is being muzzled right here in the United States, including the censoring of my own book on Militant Islam in America, and other books like it. This is it:

It’s getting worse, not just here but all over the world. Trends continue. Political correctness and capitulation is serving our enemies well. It certainly makes one wonder where it all will lead to, and how long it will take before democracy in the free world is put to death.

Around the world, while radical Islamists can demonstrate their hatred for America and non-believers in general, shouting expletives toward Americans and Jews, threatening to destroy us all, we dare not utter a word that is critical of them, lest we be cited for (ahem) hate crimes. Here’s an example, which stemmed form the Muhammed cartoon incident of 2006.

 Click here: Video: Chilling Islamic Demonstration 

Meanwhile, the hateful side of the Islamic world thinks nothing of publishing material and drawings that are equally, or more denigrating to other ethnic cultures, and they get away with it without censure. In newspapers throughout the Arab mid-east, Jews are routinely depicted in editorial cartoons as ugly, controlling, manipulative killers who are working to undermine the Islamic world and to kill Arabs. Caricatures show Jews as Nazi-like, hooked nosed and clad in stereotypical black hats and beards.
The examples in the following link are not the work of one or two isolated writers or cartoonists, it is common and pervasive:

Former film star Brigitte Bardot has been arrested no less than five times in Paris for allegedly inciting hatred toward Muslims. She fears the Islamization of France, saying the “Muslim community is destroying our country.” Whether she is correct or not (and she may well be) doesn’t matter. One would think she has the right to express her views, as much as any citizen or blogger in America or France. What matters more to the government is placating the Islamic community, which is growing by leaps and bounds. And, free speech? Well, it’s free to those who threaten to murder and dominate the world. It’s not free to those, in France, anyway, who disclose or complain about it.

Move on to the Netherlands, where the banner of liberalism and tolerance has always been an example to the rest of the world. Not any more. Parliamentarian Geert Wilders, had produced a film (Fitna) exposing the dangers of the radical side of Islam, not only in his country, but the world in general. A Dutch appellate court has recently imposed a muzzle, ordering the prosecution of Mr. Wilders, charging him with inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims. That’s a big score for the jihadists.

Naturally, one might ask about charging radical Islamists who make a habit out of inciting hatred. What is being done about them? Perhaps the Dutch authorities should monitor what they teach little kids in the mosques that are under the auspices of Wahhabi funding from Saudi Arabia, one of the most radical of all.

So much for free speech.

The following article/link also has a link to the movie Fitna, which is a worthwhile ten-minutes.

 Click here: Death to Free Speech in the Netherlands

The radicals have high powered lawyers lurking in every country making sure that they, you and I are all intimidated enough to keep muzzled. No matter what country, when someone like Brigitte Gabriel, Daniel Pipes or little old me, speaks out to inform Americans by telling the truth, we might be subject to gag-style lawsuits. Sure, we would win, but thousands would have to be spent in defense of the right to free speech. The radicals don’t care…they have millions to lose. Thus, the Dutch now remain quiet. So to the English, the French, and the Germans. Shhh. Don’t say anything that can be perceived as critical of Islam or you’re in big trouble.
Theo Van Gogh was a film maker who produced Submission, which told about conditions for women living in radical Islam. He was shot and then stabbed to death in an Amsterdam street in 2004 by a radical jihadist. From jail, his killer proudly announced he would do it all over again in the name of Allah.
The film was made with the assistance of writer, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali immigrant apostate who fled from an arranged marriage. She is now under constant police protection after receiving many death threats.

The six flying Imams of Minneapolis certainly set up a challenge to free speech in 2006 when they boarded an airplane for no other reason but to act like idiots, with deliberate quirky behavior which scared the hell out of passengers. That, plus a “spontaneous” call to prayer on the concourse next to the boarding gate which was recorded — curiously — by news cameras that just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Hmmm.

CAIR, (Council on American Islamic Relations) the so-called “ACLU” for Muslims in America, took up the cause for the flying Imams and filed a lawsuit against the airline and several unnamed passengers. Though the suit was lost, the goal was clearly to frighten and intimidate Americans in general from reporting suspicious behavior, especially when it involves Muslims.

This is not going away. The muzzle on free speech is sure to become a contentious issue as the years pass and our enemies grow in strength. It portends the first of many steps toward dismantling our democracy.

Meanwhile, Americans should keep an eye on the rejuvenation of the Fairness Doctrine. While this issue has nothing to do with Islamic affairs, it is nevertheless a looming threat to free speech on the airways in order to suppress one side of the political spectrum and enhance the other. When it was law, radio and television broadcasters were under obligation to present two sides of an argument. It was finally ruled a violation of free speech by the FCC and abolished in the 1980s. Yes, it does foster right wingers and left wingers to air their one-sided points of view on America’s radios, such as Rush Limbaugh and/or Randi Rhodes. But whether they are right or wrong in their opinions, these people are protected under the First Amendment to espouse their views as much as any other American.

This is a pending movement to curb the exercise of free speech. Several lawmakers in congress are stirring the pot, such as Sen. Dick Durbin, “It’s time to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.”

Try Sen. John Kerry, “I think the Fairness Doctrine ought to be there.”

At a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor in 2008, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked, “Do you support revival of the Fairness Doctrine?”

Her answer. “Yes.”

Talk radio has been dominated more by conservative hosts than liberal. Thus, the liberal side is preparing to muzzle the opposition by reenacting a law that will curb free speech. Whether right or left, democrat or republican, people should know this is a dangerous step in the wrong direction that will have far reaching ramifications, not limited to the stifling of Rush Limbaugh.

Write/call/your congressional representatives. We don’t want to go the route of Europe.

I’ve often been asked why I bother with these issues, writing books, articles and blogs about radicalism and the infringement of freedom for our grandchildren down the road. People ask if I am afraid.

Why should I have to think of being afraid? When I ever have to shut up, they — the enemy — will win. You, Americans, lose. Multiply my situation times many hundreds like me.

Without free speech, we will ultimately be relegated as a nation to the history books.

 

 

 

LOOMING THREAT TO FREEDOM – THE DARK SIDE

 

 
 
 

 

This is a dark introduction into select segments of the Islamic world which CNN and The New York Times rarely tells you about.

Getting to the point: 4/11/2008: 13-year-old Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was killed on 27 October 2008, by a group of 50 men who stoned her to death in a Somalia stadium in front of around 1,000 spectators. She was accused of adultery in breach of Islamic law. In fact she had been raped by three men, and attempted to report the rape to the militia, and it was this act that resulted in her being accused of adultery.

  

 
According to strict Shariah law, which is still practiced in many extremist nations, a married female who is raped must produce four male witnesses to validate her claim, otherwise she is considered guilty of adultery and then stoned to death.

 

12/1/2009: It applies to the male gender as well. Three men are stoned in Iran after being charged with adultery. Two die.

 

Click here: WLUML: News and Views

June, 2009: Bangladesh. Nearly 3,000 acid attacks against women and girls have been reported, many under the age of 18. The main reason for the attacks are dowries and refusing love proposals. Acid is tossed into their faces marring them for life. Most assailants are not prosecuted.

Click here: WLUML: News and ViewsHundreds of years to present: Virtually millions of young women have been, and still are subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) otherwise known as female circumcision. While some African countries are attempting to curtail or even ban the practice, which is considered a rite under strict Islam, it still goes on today…in the 21st century. Some girls are victimized as young as age seven.

Click here: Women & Gender on afrol News

Click here: Ending Female Genital Mutilation…

Honor killings.

July 2008: You might think this practice is limited to foreign lands only. In Clayton County, Georgia, a Pakistani man, apparently upset that his daughter was rejecting an arranged marriage, strangled his daughter to death with a bungee cord. She violated his honor.

January 2008: Sarah and Amina Said, 17 and 18, were stalked and then shot to death in Texas by their enraged father for having boyfriends outside of Islam.

I mention these two because they took place, not in Iran, Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, but here in the U.S.

Thousands of honor killings occur within Islamic families every year. This is an age-old practice whereby a male member of a family (usually a father) who feels that a female has disgraced the family and her religion, is justifiably killed, sometimes in horrible fashion in order to make an example. Burning, strangling, mutilating. Often, people look the other way and there is no prosecution.

Jeff Jacoby wrote a shocking article about this barbaric practice in August of 2008. Do take time to read:

Click here: ‘Honor’ killing comes to the US

 

2009: Being gay in some parts of the Islamic world is tantamount to suicide. Of course, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed there are no homosexuals in Iran, but — just in case they find any — it’s death by hanging. Check out:

Click here: Homosexuals Get Death Penalty

Yahya Jammeh, president of Gambia, orders beheadings for anyone found to be practicing homosexual relations. Saudi Arabia has frequently imposed public beheadings upon homosexuals, though there is some evidence, at least for the sake of public opinion, that their stance has softened some in the last few years. But as a whole, tolerance does not exist for homosexuals in most of the Islamic world. Joe Kaufman wrote a comprehensive piece on this:

Click here: FrontPage Magazine

 

Wife beating is not only performed by millions of Muslim men, it is condoned in strict Islamic teachings and in the Koran itself. The foregoing link is a telling article by Silas which spells it out in detail, including the specific verses in the Koran which identify men ordained as superior to women with absolute authority over the gentler sex.

Click here: Wife Beating In Islam

Many of these behaviors take place behind closed doors and rarely if ever come to the attention of authorities, not only in Iran and other Islamic nations, but the U.S. as well. A woman who dares to think about reporting her husband for beating is signing her own death warrant.

Imams have been known to video their instructions on the right and wrong ways to beat a wife. Listen to this cleric from Qatar. Click here: YouTube -Only a rod will help!

One Saudi Doctor is a bit more subdued as he explains the rules for wife beating in this (ahem) training video. Click here: YouTube – Wife Beating in Islam – The Rules

Then there is the issue of religious freedom. We Americans consider freedom of religion as a fundamental right. We are taught to believe and respect that from the crib. But that doesn’t exist everywhere. In strict Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia (our friends?) the preaching and/or practice of any non-Muslim religion is strictly prohibited. The mere carrying a Christian bible in public can bring a prison sentence. Worse yet, if a Muslim is caught in possession of a bible, he may be executed. Check out this 2005 article by Ali Al-Ahmed, a progressive Muslim

 

What is ironic here, is how insistent Saudis are within America in using First Amendment rights to proliferate Islam under our religious protection. While Christian and Jewish worship is absolutely prohibited in Saudi Arabia, they have financed over 80 percent of the 3,000 mosques currently in operation inside the borders of the U.S. And, whenever there are issues raised by people like myself and other writers who expose these things, we are called “intolerant” of their religion. Is that not the ultimate hypocrisy?

By now, you get the message.

Bear in mind, these violations of human rights and abominations to basic decency is not necessarily widespread among all Islamic nations, and/or Islamic communities within the western world. But there are millions who practice these horrors with great fervor.

Some will tell you these incidents make up a small, isolated faction of the Islamic world. Think again.

There are 1.3 billion Muslims in the world, the majority of whom — I believe — only wish to live in peace and not be uninvolved in the on-going jihad. However, according to scholars and experts such as Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, Brigitte Gabriel, and Steve Emerson, about 15 to 20 percent of the Islamic world can be considered jihadists, sympathetic to jihadists, and/or in support of jihad in one form or another.

Defined: Jihadists are those extremists who are actively engaged in fighting to establish Islam as a sole world religion, and which would be the sole basis for governing our lives. Some will use violence, others, subterfuge, intimidation and infiltration under the guise of moderation. Either way, there is one bottom line: Our children’s children are to eventually live under Islamic rule.

These are the people who are our enemy. According to the percentages proffered by known experts, their numbers would comprise an enemy of over 200 million. They currently exist within over 100 countries throughout the world, including the United States. And they are growing in numbers at a much faster rate — four to five times — than westerners.

That’s a far more formidable enemy than the WW II Japanese and Nazis combined, multi-plied twenty times over. And, they have no national border, no uniform, no clear identity. But they are here. They are determined.

If anyone doesn’t understand the progress that jihadists have made in the last twenty years, just talk to anyone living in Europe, i.e. France, Germany, England, Sweden, etc. We’re close behind.

Brookley Rene Beamer, age 4, may live to see the end of this century. She lives in Missouri. I don’t wish for her to live under the conditions mentioned heretofore in this article. I want for her to be a free-spirited human being with all the rights still afforded to Americans without subservience to men or any other authority not of her choosing, free to believe as she wishes and to determine her own destiny.

If the jihadists have their way, she’s in for some serious problems.

All this considered, digest this fact: While this is such a critical world-wide and national problem which looms greatly on the political horizon, it was never even mentioned one time in two years of presidential debates, not by candidates, not by the media. If we have to be so politically correct, if we cannot stand up and identify the truth, if we cannot be forthcoming about the most serious underlying threat there is to world peace, then we are in serious trouble.

By the way, Brookley Rene Beamer is my great granddaughter.

 

Greatest Female Acting Performances Of All Time

Okay, without further ado. We submitted our opinions on the greatest performance by a male actor in the history of movies, here are my top ten picks for the greatest all-time performances by a female actor, Oscars notwithstanding because the best doesn’t always get the prize.

These are the kind of movies where you walk out with your head shaking, say “Wow” and continue to talk about incredible actress who simply dazzled the viewer beyond those of the ordinary. Your opinions are welcome. 

Jodie Foster – Nell   (If you never saw her in this, rent it)

 

Meryl Streep – Sophie’s Choice   (Ditto)

 

Holly Hunter – Piano   (she also was the pianist)

 

Bette Davis – Whatever Happened To Baby Jane  (powerful)

 

Sigourny Weaver – Gorilla’s In The Mist   (remarkably brave)

 

Patty Duke – Miracle Worker    (gripping)

 

Susan Sarandon – Dead Man Walking  (believable)

 

Audrey Hepburn – Breakfast At Tiffany’s

 

Kathy Bates – Misery   (Bitch!)

 

Mary McDonnell – Dances With Wolves  (immersed in the role)

 

*    Add Honorable mention: (which means, they belong there too)

Hillary Swank – Million Dollar Baby

 

Halle Berry – Monsters Ball

 

Charlize Theron – Monster

 

Liza Minelli – Cabaret

 

Diana Ross – Lady Sings the Blues