Archive for August, 2007

Brian DePalma, Hollywood "Realism" and The Negative Spirit UPDATED

Friday, August 31st, 2007

A slew of anti-American, anti-military, anti-Iraq mission films will be coming out and one in particular, the Brian De Palma directed Redacted shocked the Venice film festival attendees. The story portrays the rape and murder of a 14 year old Iraqi girl and then murder of her family at the hands of U.S. soldiers. This is a true story. It is a horrible story. It is a shameful story.

And it is one story.

Iraq overflows with stories. So much so that I remember Michael Yon writing about being overwhelmed with the information he has to process every day while embedded with various groups of soldiers. So a writer must choose his stories. The stories chosen reveal as much about the journalist, writer or director as they reveal about the subject.

In the sea of Iraq war stories, Brian De Palma swims into a particularly diseased water. He could swim all year. He chooses to swim during the red tide.

De Palma’s choice, really all of Hollywood’s choice, is to judge the military, judge the Iraq mission and judge America with a “realistic” eye. This is an interesting perspective. Other “realities” include soldiers who sacrifice themselves, soldiers who save babies, soldiers who save dogs, soldiers who befriend former enemies. The war is a complex tapestry, all of it real, some ugly and some beautiful. The Left sees the ugly and believes they see the truth. But while it may be real, it can’t be said that it’s true, because truth is a whole picture–the good and the evil.

It is especially easy to see the evil. It takes no special gift to portray the wretched and shocking and call it art. The Anchoress says:

Mostly this “offensive” art seems juvenile to me – it feels like the sort of stuff you come up with when you’re 14, or at least the stuff I would have come up with when I was 14. Daring? No. It’s actually as safe as denouncing Bush, because Christians do not riot or separate heads from bodies simply because someone drew a picture. This stuff is not edgy, just rather pedestrian.

It’s safe depicting those who protect you because you feel safe in the comforting arms of democracy and artistic freedom. No government agent will take your art and destroy it. No jack boot will be at your back.

Along these lines, I was reading G. K. Chesterton today. This time Heretics. Again, I’m delighting in his humorous skewering of modern thought. The progressives are nothing if not predictable. Chesterton wrote Heretics in 1905 and his arguments are as fresh during this murky post-modern mushy headedness today as they were then. Chapter two is titled The Negative Spirit. Does anything so describe Western Leftists as a “negative spirit”? No. Chesterton says this:

The tradition of calling a spade a spade starts very early in our literature and comes down very late. But the truth is that the ordinary honest man, whatever vague account he may have given of his feelings, was not either disgusted or een annoyed at the candour of the moderns. What disgusted him, and very justly, was not the presence of a clear realism, but the absence of a clear idealism.

It’s not the realism of De Palma’s film that will be objectionable, for the facts he presents may well be the real ones (that remains to be demonstrated, however; Hollywood and the media in general excels at sins of omission). What I already object to, without having seen the film, is that in the totality of truth portraying only one factual story becomes, in essence, a lie.

Hollywood and a huge segment of the media seem determined not to see the truth but to see one reality. It is a narrative and parts of it are real, but it’s not the truth. The truth is revealed by seeing the whole not just one small part.

If Hollywood and the media want to be viewed with respect again, perhaps they would consider telling the whole truth.

UPDATE: Roger Simon weighs in:

So why would DePalma choose to tell this story now?

Propaganda, of course. But there’s a bit more. We are all creatures of our times and of our great successes. This is perfectly human. DePalma, quintessentially a man of my generation, equates Iraq with Vietnam not just because he may think they are the same (ridiculous as that is) but because Vietnam made him the man he is today. In other words, he was able to live a fantastic Hollywood life (even with the normal vicissitudes),including the fancy houses, cars, women, etc., by being a “groovy” man of his generation – militantly opposed to Vietnam War and for all traditional PC things. Why change? Indeed, why not drill down further into the old well when things aren’t as they once were. Why think about the specifics of the current situation or about history? They would only disrupt personal progress.

There are many films, real and truthful, that haven’t been made.

Glenn Reynolds comments:

HOW ABOUT A MOVIE WHERE HOLLYWOOD FILMMAKERS TAKE MONEY FROM AMERICA’S ENEMIES TO UNDERMINE MORALE? It wouldn’t be any more dishonest than Brian de Palma’s latest.

The truth? Hollywood can’t handle the truth! How ironic that Jack Nicholson’s A Few Good Men character displayed the sneering contempt of a corrupt military commander when the character more rightly embodies Hollywood’s contempt for all things moral and military.



Environmentalism and Forestry

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

This article should be in your intellectual arsenal when it comes to arguing with stupid environmentalists. About trees:

North Americans are the world’s largest per-capita wood consumers and yet our forests cover approximately the same area of land as they did 100 years ago. According to the United Nations, our forests have expanded nearly 100 million acres over the past decade.

The relationship between trees and greenhouse gases is simple enough on the surface. Trees grow by taking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and, through photosynthesis, converting it into sugars. The sugars are then used as energy and materials to build cellulose and lignin, the main constituents of wood.
There is a misconception that cutting down an old tree will result in a net release of carbon. Yet wooden furniture made in the Elizabethan era still holds the carbon fixed hundreds of years ago.

Berman, a veteran of the forestry protest movement, should by now have learned that young forests outperform old growth in carbon sequestration.
Although old trees contain huge amounts of carbon, their rate of sequestration has slowed to a near halt. A young tree, although it contains little fixed carbon, pulls CO2 from the atmosphere at a much faster rate.

Plant more trees. Like, duh!



Doctors Loaning Money To Patients

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Lending to patients happens all sorts of ways in the medical profession. It looks like now the insurance companies are getting in on the act. I doubt they’ll do it for no interest as most docs do, though. For most treatment, a doctor will offer no interest because they truly believe the patient needs the care–so much so they’ll delay payment to themselves.

Insurers, on the other hand, are in it for one thing only: the money. And they are examining the “credit-worthiness” of the patient. So are some doctors and dentists:

The zero-interest plans are not for everyone. In fact, they are available only to the creditworthy — meaning they offer no help to those among the nation’s 47 million uninsured who are in difficult financial situations.

And creditworthiness is starting to be judged even more stringently, in light of the subprime mortgage crisis’s impact on the debt markets, according to David Robertson, publisher of The Nilson Report, a newsletter for the credit card industry.

Even for those who can get credit approval, the plans make sense only if users are able to make payments on time and close the loan on schedule, typically within 12 months. Otherwise, the loans after defaults can carry interest rates of 20 percent or more — similar to the default penalty on a typical credit card.

“We are very careful to tell patients upfront, ‘Be sure you can make your payments,’ ” said Dr. Richard J. Mercurio, a dentist in Lincroft, N.J. He arranges patient financing through the CareCredit unit of G.E., the leader in consumer medical financing.

Dr. Mercurio says he knows of at least two patients who missed payments and received monthly bills charging high interest rates. “They were not happy,” he said.

We have never done this with a patient. In fact, it strikes me as just wrong. What’s to say the doctor isn’t recommending care for purely financial reasons?

As for the 47 million who don’t qualify? Sliding scale, free clinics, free health-care, they have it all. They might not be getting free Lasik surgery, boob jobs or laser-whitening, but those are rather elective procedures.

Back to loaning to patients. Should doctors be banks charging interest should a loan go unpaid?



American Left Aren’t The Only Ones Anticipating New Leadership

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Dr. Sanity points to this very interesting article. It’s worth reading the whole thing. Here’s a tidbit, OK, more like a meal:

Like al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the many other adversaries America and the West must continue to face, the Russians are looking forward to the time after George Bush leaves office. It is assumed that the American electorate has by now tired of playing policeman to the world, and that the next president will be a liberal Democrat, eager to make unilateral concessions, slash military budgets to fund social programs, and cut-and-run from foreign battlefields.

America is demonized as the “cowboy,” going it alone; and Western politicians, especially on the left, score easy points by smugly playing to their domestic anti-American galleries. The lethal enemies of the West cannot help but notice this dynamic, and from car bombings in Iraq, to the rhetoric of Russian and Chinese military commanders, they exploit it to drive further wedges between the U.S. and her allies.

We are caught in a trap. The very success of the Bush strategy, in preventing another major terror strike on the U.S., in confronting and arresting the progress of Islamist terrorism in the Middle East and elsewhere, and also in consolidating the post-Cold War European gains of NATO and the European Union, contributes to an illusion of security in a world that has seldom been such a dangerous place. People forget what alliances require.

Forget allies, the American Left seems to forget what their own security requires. It’s so much fun to bash Bush, but will any of them grow up in the face of real security concerns should they take the mantel? Or is every world leader from Castro to Assad to Putin to Ahmadinejad betting correctly?

And this one factor may well be why we’ll have a Republican again as President in 2008.



Hamas Using Children

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Bloodied and dead children courtesy of being sent by Hamas militants to retrieve rocket launchers.



Soros Group Fined, You Won’t Hear It Anywhere

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

You won’t hear about it because the “deciders” decided not to share. More at Ace.



Drunken Astronauts

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Turns out there’s no evidence of debauched space. That’s too bad. It was so much fun thinking about a billion dollar airplane joy riding in outer space.


Leona Helmsley Roars To The Grave

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

LEFT: I wonder if she is in the hot seat? Look at that face; pure contempt.

I gave Leona Helmsley the benefit of the doubt during her trial and incarceration which I had attributed to class warfare and rich-people hatred, but now, I’m beginning to think that she is one of those mean, petty, vindictive, manipulative, condescending, imperious people who would be little less than nothing were it not for loads of money. I suspect she came from the plebe class and despised her working-class roots. They’re the worst sort when endowed with unearned cash.

Ah, and after a little peak at Wikipedia, what do you know? I swear I did not look at this entry before typing the above. Of course, this doesn’t make me a genius. She’s pretty easy to deconstruct, I mean, even the Donald had her figured out:

She was born Leona Mindy Rosenthal in Marbletown, Ulster County, New York, to Polish Jewish immigrants, daughter of a hatmaker, and raised in Brooklyn. As an adult, she legally changed her surname to Roberts, according to an obituary in the New York Times.[1]. Helmsley would later claim that she appeared in billboard ads for Chesterfield cigarettes, but there is no evidence of this, and her claim remains entirely unsubstantiated.

So this woman pretends at wealth and fame and will do anything to get a name. Ambitious in the extreme and tyrannical to those “beneath” her, her disrespect of the help just masks her own fear of loss and self-loathing. To mask her powerlessness, she feels powerful by abusing everyone around her. Her family makes nice soft targets. Most people attempt to be nice to grandma, but she would have none of it. No doubt, kindness was viewed with suspicion. Anyone nice is just after money–just like Leona was herself. That’s what people do, project their secret weaknesses on others. (Watch what the Clintons accuse others of, it’s very telling.) Anyone who met her disdain with disdain was cast aside. Her child and grandchildren had no chance with her. She was only about herself.

Her only child, a son from her first (lesser) marriage died of a heart-attack. This is what Leona did:

On March 31, 1982, her only child, Jay Panzirer, died of a heart attack. Leona then sued her son’s estate for money and property that she said he had borrowed, and her son’s widow Mimi received an eviction notice. Mimi Panzirer – the mother of Leona’s four grandchildren – later said the legal expenses wiped her out and “to this day I don’t know why they did it.”

I know why. Her son was not of sufficiently bred stock. She hated her past and he was one big reminder of that. Once he died, she could absolve herself of bringing his wife and family to nothing.

It looks like many of us who were Leona defenders (the legal case was weak) were wrong. She might just be one of those people who deserve to spend time sleeping on bunk with a public toilet. Seems Paris Hilton learned more lessons from her bunk-time than Leona did. Justice is cruel, though. She may have stipulated a golden sarcophagus, but she’s still dead. Even Leona’s money and arrogance can’t save her from that humble fate.



Home Schooling: The Personal Is the Political

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Some people in my life think I’m absolutely insane for taking on this endeavor. Some think I’m finally fulfilling God’s will for my life. It’s like there is no in between.

The last time I felt that my behavior so polarized acquaintances was when I opted to give birth at home. Scandalous! One friend felt that I was making a statement rejecting the medical field. I was doing nothing of the sort. Another thought I was abusing my future child by being so “careless” as to home birth.

Must home schooling be a political statement?

I thought you might like to read this book, if you’re considering a classical education.



South Korean Hostages To Be Released, Women Suffered Rape

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Gateway Pundit reports that the women were raped. Have you heard about this in the MSM? Yeah, neither have I. It’s being reported by the free press, aka a Blogger, in Afghanistan, though:

The local and international news agencies did not reveal the news for some reason But only one local media revealed the news in Kabul. The report witnessed by Mr. Pathan the governor and he added that Pakistani Taliban did the assault.