Friday, September 23, 2005

REVIEW: Crash (movie)

I am
not quite sure what message this movie was supposed to impart on me. In the end I don't think the movie maker knows the answer to that question either...

The short answer would be: Racism is bad. America is Racist.

Leaving it at that would be doing this searing and intense movie a disservice. First off, the acting was superb. Everyone of these characters including the ones played by well-known actors was convincing and real. There was never a dull moment and the script was on point with each passing frame. Even when it seemed to be getting preachy along came a counterpoint that kept things in perspective. Every racial stereotype was represented, examined and blown apart. It was all at once satisfying and infuriating, but mostly it was sad.

For some there was redemption and others - death. No one was untouched by racism and the effects of misunderstanding, including me. You see, that very afternoon on my commute home after a long day at work I found myself uttering ugly remarks out my car window when I passed a fancy and expensive pickup truck decorated as a loud and proud shrine to 'ol Mexico. "Why don't you go back there if it's so great! 'Cause its' not great - it's a shithole!"

I wasn't proud of what I said - but I didn't feel unjustified either. I wondered how I would be received in Mexico City if I drove through town decked out in Red White and Blue...

Bigotry is ugly, but it is also universal and Americans have had to deal with it in a way unlike any country in history. If we all make an effort to teach our children not to repeat the mistakes of the past someday - maybe not in this lifetime - we can have the color blind culture we need.

Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Esposito, Brendan Fraser, Larenz Tate, Ludacris, Matt Dillon, Ryan Phillippe, Terrence DaShon Howard, Thandie Newton, Michael Pena, Shaun Toub

Paul Haggis Director
Paul Haggis Screenwriter
Robert Moresco Screenwriter
Cathy Schulman Producer
Don Cheadle Producer
Bob Yari Producer
James Muro Director of Photography
Mark Isham Composer


India Rising

You must admit that over at PBS Charlie Rose conducts some of the most interesting interviews seen on TV. Sure, I hate it too when he fawns over actors and movie directors as if they were actually consequential in this big picture that we call life. Occasionally, however, Charlie has on a guest who you would never, ever be introduced to in any other venue. This is what makes Charlie Rose a consequential person.

This week Charlie had on the Finance Minister of India and I must say it was a treat to listen to him quietly validate many things we capitalists believe about growing and sustaining an economy. In the process they have lifted millions out of poverty and into the middle class.

P Chidambaram is a US educated lawyer who upon graduating from Harvard Business School returned to India a hard core leftist. (It has to make you wonder what they're teaching at Harvard) Once he was faced with the reality of the condition of the socialist system in India he under went a remarkable transformation into a pro-growth capitalist. He realized that the government was ill suited for certain aspects of economic stewardship and private enterprise was an asset not an enemy.

India's economy under Chidambaram led policies has become the second fastest growing economy in the world. At 7% annual growth they trail China by mere fractions of a percentage point. Where India has it over China is in age demographics. A majority of their population is under 35 years of age with a huge proportion of that being under twenty five. China's population is an aging one not unlike the US or Europe.

He is convinced that India can become one of the two or three largest economies in the world in a decade or so. At India's present trajectory number two Japan is realistically in its sights.

Keeping the numbers in perspective India and China have a long way to go to reach into the same realm as the US in per capita income and wealth. Still, the numbers are no less staggering. India has nearly 240 million in the middle class. That's close to number of people in all of the US. They also have 300 million below the poverty line. The rest live somewhere between destitution and the middle class. Per capita income in India is around $700 and in China it is around $1000, and America - over $30,000. If adjusted for buying power those numbers are more like US = $25,000 China = $7,000 India = $3,000. Due to the sheer size of India and China's population it is unlikely that they will ever approach the US, but with those numbers both countries total national income could potentially dwarf the US in just a few decades.

India needs massive capital investment in jobs, and infrastructure if any of their dreams are going to come true. Chidambaram's policies are more likely to attract foriegn investment than what the had before. This is true primarily because India is serious about education - real education and not the self-esteem, self-loathing baloney America is getting.

Since India has embarked on a path away from command and control socialism they have seen remarkable improvement in nearly every aspect of their counties fortunes, monetary and otherwise. China, Europe and even America should be taking notice.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

REVIEW: Hitchens - Galloway Debate the Iraq War


Christopher Hitchens - author, opinion writer for Slate and Vanity Fair

George Galloway - a British politician, and a Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow in East London.

Fact: Christopher Hitchens is a leftist. Fact: George Galloway is a leftist. Now that we have a few basic facts straight we can analyze this rather remarkable event.

The debate format is one I wish presidential contenders would use. Each man had a ten minute opening followed by a few questions by the moderator. Soon thereafter it became a free wheeling slugfest. Hitchens clearly has a way with words. He is an intellectual in the most annoying sort of way - he knows it. This, I say, as opposed to someone like Bill Maher who only thinks he is an intellectual. Galloway too, has a way with words, he is quick of mind and acid of tongue. George has a way of driving home a point with just a few words leaving everyone else speechless. I saw him take apart half a dozen US Senators a few months back. Senators are supposed to be America's master debaters. Some would mash those two words together and remove the "de". That would be much closer to describing the current crop of US Senators.

Hitchens, on the side for the war against Saddam Hussein, had facts on hand and scored several body blows that Galloway offered no response in defense of himself. This for instance: Hitchens referencing a recent trip Galloway made to Syria

To hear him speak, you would think, would you not, that he was a pacifist, that he defines himself as anti-war. Now how can this be said, in good conscience, by someone who has just, standing by the side of the dictator of Syria, on the 30th of July, referred to the 154 heroic operations conducted in Iraq by the so-called resistance, or the resistance that is run as we know by a senior bin Ladenist and by many of the former secret police of the Baathist regime? How can someone say, and say they're anti-war and they care about casualties that they praise the 154 operations a day?

And this:

Now among the people killed by these heroic operations, in Iraq, some of them run from Syria and paid for by the human toothbrush and slobbering dauphin Assad, Mr. Galloway's new pal. Among the victims of these, of these operations was specialist Casey Sheehan, who was trying to clean up the festering slum of what had once been called Saddam City, and was now known to us as Sadr City where the water-supply is coming back on, it's taking a while, because people keep blowing it up, but it's coming back on. Now I will put a simple moral proposition to you and see if I've phrased it alright. Is it not rather revolting to appear in Damascus by the side of Assad and to praise the people who killed Casey Sheehan, and then to come to America and appeal to the emotions of his mother?

Not only is Galloway opposed to American and British presence in Iraq he actively supports the terrorists. Galloway is a well spoken Michael Moore if you ask me.

Galloway had a few direct hits of his own that left me with questions to ask myself as a supporter of the war to remove Saddam Hussein. When asked when and if America will leave Iraq Galloway points to the large permanent military bases being built there. On the face of it George has a point.

On style and substance for debate scoring Hitchens wins hands down. This is true mainly because Galloway is guilty of lecturing, hollering really loud and spitting all over the microphone. George, as mentioned, scored points with truths and half-truths that without reasoned rebuttal would make it appear that Saddam Hussein and his dear sons were trying to their best for the people of Iraq if only it hadn't been for those nasty Westerners. Hitchens did a convincing job of pointing out just how bad the Hussein crime family really was.

For me the absolute highlight was when Galloway challenged Hitchens to acknowledge that Colin Powell was sorry for his UN testimony. Hitchens had this to say:

Amy Goodwin (moderator): Your response to Colin Powell saying that his UN speech making the case of weapons of mass destruction was a stain on his record. Just a minute response.

CH: Mmm, I don't give a damn about what Colin Powell thinks about anything. I never have, and I never will. I think he's, I've noticed that he's, having being for a long time, the most overrated public figure in the United States. He's running for the nomination to most overrated man in the world. But I don't really care.

On this I couldn't agree with Hitchens more. Powell, for my money, was the most ineffective Secretary of State we've seen in a long time. He may have been a good soldier but he was a not a good fit for Secretary of State.

The debate lost steam toward the end when the audience took to applauding and jeering all to often. It's just too bad we can't get any Americans to go toe to toe like this, after all it is America who is doing the heavy lifting in Iraq.

As we have heard before from the men fighting this war - we are winning on the battlefield, soon Iraq will be able to defend itself against a rather cowardly insurgency. But the media and people like Galloway are clearly winning the war against George W. Bush. This is as much the Bush Administrations fault as it is the media's. Just saying "we will be resolute and never waver" and "stay the course" is not enough any more. We need to hear a strategy to put the nail in it.


Friday, September 16, 2005

Is Islam Infected with a Moral Virus?

Once again Jamie Glasnov posts a fascinating interview on Jamie sits down with Jack Wheeler - a publisher, philosopher, adventurer and businessman - for a disscussion on the Global Jihadist War.

Mr. Wheeler pulls no punches and makes connections between Islam and other failed ideologies in ways I have never heard before. According to Wheeler, Islam is as fatally flawed as communism and nazism. He cleverly and accurately ties these repressive ideologies together at a very base level.

from the interview:
All three of the great barbarisms of modern times have been pathologies of envy. Nazism, preaching race-envy toward “rich exploitative Jews”; Communism preaching class-envy toward “rich exploitative capitalists”; Jihadism preaching culture-envy toward “rich exploitative America/Israel/the West.”

Adding to this line of reasoning Mr. Wheeler explains the sickness of modern liberalism here:

the liberal left is motivated by the fear of being envied. It is a very ancient and primitive fear, exactly the same as a primitive tribesman’s fear of envious Black Magic or a peasant villager’s fear of the envious Evil Eye.

People in our society who are susceptible to this fear – such as heirs who inherited rather than earning their wealth and Hollywood celebrities who do so little to earn their millions – become liberals as a psychological strategy to avoid being envied. Liberalism is a not a political philosophy. It is the politicalization of envy-appeasement.

Thus liberals are masochists as well – for the more one fears being envied, the more one is driven to masochistic self-humiliation in attempts at envy appeasement. Liberals have a compulsion to apologize to those that envy them, apologize for being white, for being male, for being successful, for the success of their country, their culture, their civilization. This renders liberals incapable of passionately defending America.

No liberal will ever admit to these qualities to be sure, they will only lash out and attack anyone questioning their "patriotism". Bruce Springsteen comes to mind - a man of enormous wealth and yet pretends to commune with the downtrodden by railing against moneymen in fancy suits. Springsteen, who I have always enjoyed as an entertainer is the absolute epitomy of what Jack Wheeler has described. Already a multi-millionaire Springsteen has been known to allow ASCAP and BMI to use his name in lawsuits against small time bar and club owners who don't pay the licensing fees to these agencies. Bruce likes his royalty checks!

But I digress, the point of Mr. Wheeler is making here is that Islam should be discredited for the morally bankrupt ideology that it is. We would not treat slavery or cannibalism with kid gloves, making excuses for the horrendous nature of these practices then why do we pretend that the subjugation of women (treated as property of men and dismissed as equals to men) and the use of terrorism as a negotiating tool are acceptable in the 21st century?

Wheeler adds:

(The Wahhabis) have the Saudi billions to spread what we should be calling a perversion of Islam. You are certainly right, Jamie, to point out that most Moslems are not radical crazies, that we are at war with the latter not the former, whom we need not demonize.

Most Moslems are human beings first. However much they see their personal identity suffused with Islam, they want the same things as everyone else: a peaceful and productive life, safety and happiness for their children. Were most Germans under Hitler, Japanese under Tojo, Russians under Stalin? Probably – and irrelevantly. It was not our job to “reach out to them.” It was our job to defeat their rulers and true believers, to render them no longer capable of being a threat to us.

Wow, Wheeler is brutally honest here. I do, however, understand why President Bush could never say anything but " We are not at war with Islam, we are war with radical jihadists who have hijacked the religion of peace." If the President were honest he would conclude as Wheeler has the there needs to be a reformation of Islam if it is ever to peacefully coexist with the rest of the modern world.

Alas, the self loathing West is it's own worst enemy. Why do we bear the brunt of Islamic anger and like a battered woman automatically conclude that we must have done something to deserve it. Ask yourself why al Qaeda is targeting innocent Iraqi's now. What did the average Iraqi do to deserve daily car bombings? Hope for a better future? Well shame on them...


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Fear and Loathing in America

... they're taking over America

In the wide spectrum of political ideologies there exists a balancing point where the vast majority of us find ourselves. Most of our colleagues, friends and families are decent, law abiding citizens who have no malice or ill-will toward the next guy. We follow the rules and generally try to do the right thing. Despite our personal political beliefs we are really more alike than we realize. It is one of the great things about America that we can vehemently disagree about politics and we don't have to hate each other.

I have a great deal of politically liberal family, friends and co-workers who I adore and greatly admire. As mentioned we are all more alike in the way we live our lives and do our jobs because we often share common goals and live a common experience. Most of us are not the ones attending political rallies and trying to get ourselves arrested for "a cause". Most of us watch these things on TV and depending on where we fit into the grand design, we shake our heads or we shake our fists.

Therein lies the crux of divisions that face this country. Outside the goofy (or dangerous) radicals on either end of the spectrum most of us are standing in the middle of the teeter-totter with our sympathies leaning to one side or the other.

It's The Judeo-Christians vs The Secularists

Twice in the last few weeks I have heard two people I respect and admire utter the exact same phrase ..."they're taking over America!" They were talking, of course, about the Christian fundamentalists - or in their world view - the Christian Right. The loathing they have for these politically active Christians is palpable. Their blind intolerance prevents them from seeing that the gay radicals they sympathize with are absolutely no different. "They're trying get Creationism taught in the public schools," they lament. Obviously they haven't been in a high school counselors office lately to bear witness to these shrines to homosexuality plastered all over the walls.

Both of these guys are of above average intelligence and have very successful careers but have little time for matters of faith. This is perfectly acceptable in America. They talk of how our commitment to a secular government is what has allowed this country to become a great and powerful nation, and they are absolutely right. What they fail to see is that our great secular government is great precisely because it is made up of some of the most religious people on Earth.

Stepping over to the other side of the tipping point those of us who hold strong religious views also see the secularists "taking over America". We have watched the culture become crude and unrefined as to be lacking in any discrimination or decorum. We have watched as our children slip from our control at a younger and younger age. They have seen a culture of dependancy on this so-called secular government grow in size and scope knowing full well that it is not producing good results. We have seen that the clear difference between right and wrong, and good and evil become gray and muddled. We talk of how our freedom of religion and faith in the Creator of all things is what has made us a fortunate and powerful nation - and we are absolutely right. What we fail to see sometimes is that most of the people who hold dear to secular values don't really want to bring this country down - they just don't want to be judged by our God's laws.

Can't We all Just Get Along?

The secularists simply cannot fathom that it's possible that those of us who are Pro-Life do not wish to supress women and condemn them to life of as a baby factory. It's not about controlling women - it's about the babies. We, the faithful, cannot see past the great gay conspiracy to realize that 99% of the homosexuals in this world just want to live their lives without fear and discrimination. So we all put up battlefronts by drawing a line in the sand and look with suspicion toward the other side. We say hurtful things and dismiss the other sides argument with flippant and often nasty rhetoric. This is not helpful.

Funny how we can associate on a daily basis - engaging in successful experiences with people who hold views so different from ours - and yet we fear, and in some cases loath the beliefs the other guy holds. Could it be that both sides have valid arguments and concerns? Also funny (odd funny) we can all look at the same thing, say poverty for instance, and conclude that it's the other guys stance that is causing it. The religionists see bad personal decisions and moral depravity as one of the main causes of poverty, whereas the secularlists see the inequitable distribution of economic resources as the chief reason so many have so little. Both are probably valid points but never the twain shall meet. One side says "You can't legislate morality!" and the other says "forking out welfare and handouts only enables them to remain poverty striken". There is nothing so absolute as an intractable belief no matter how much we browbeat each other.

What a Country!

We live in a country where both Billy Graham and Howard Stern are cultural icons. Personally I find Stern reprehensible, but I am sure that there are those who feel the Billy Graham Crusades are moralistic judgments based on an irrelevant two-thousand year old book. In the incredibly diverse religious cultures present in America we find unbelievable acts of charity and love as well as unscrupulous acts of greed and immorality. For every Billy Graham and D. James Kennedy there is a Jimmy Swaggert and a Jim Baker. For those who wish to be free of moral judgments every concievable avenue of depravity can be found in America. Short of committing a 1st degree crime there's no one who is going to be stopping them. Children, however, should be off limits to perverts like Howard Stern and deranged Catholic priests. That being said, I know a lot of really fine, morally upright people who have no time for religion - that's their right - it's still a free country.

On any given night we can turn on the TV and find Howard Stern parading whores and prostitutes up on the screen and on the very next channel find Pat Robertson's 700 Club. Now one can argue that both Stern and Robertson are themselves whores and prostitutes, but one man, Robertson, is trying to do good work while he is enriching himself. The only person Howard Stern is helping is himself and perhaps a coulple of men out there who suffer from erectile dysfunction.

Good vs Evil

For many of those who dismiss Judeo-Christian dogma the terms good and evil are moral absolutes that really don't have a place in the "shades of gray" world they live in. I think this is very misguided. If light has darkness and hot has cold then good will be pitted against evil. If you ask them if they believe if evil exists in this world they are likey to say that one man's evil is a another man's virtue or some such nonsense.

Timothy McVay, Jeffery Dahlmer of the BTK killer are (were) evil men. Who would deny that Adolph Hitler was and evil man? To pretend that evil does not exist is denial. To deny that good exists is foolhardy. The secularists will dilute the argument by calling good men evil when they disagree with their politics - examples: George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II and even Margaret Thatcher. These conservative people had the temerity to have and to hold strong views that are in oppostion to secular beliefs - therefore they are (were) evil. Very helpful in a debate, um, well, not really.

I may not be able to see God or Satan with my own eyes but I do see the good works of selfless men and women and I have also seen evil working through others. Tell me you haven't...

Fear and Loathing

It has been said that we fear what we can't understand. I guess that is true. Looking back I guess I have always been personally conservative and a religious person. Easy women and decadent behaviour has always turned me off. Even when my friends and I "experimented" in our youth I always felt lousy about the things we did. Call it Catholic guilt if you want... I never understood the appeal of hurting women and wrecking other people's stuff.

By the time I was in my thirties and raising a family I was finally opening my eyes to the socialist take over of the world. True socialism and God can't co-exist, they are mutally exclusive. I do not understand the socialist/secular mindset and therefore I must conclude that I fear it.

Considering my good friend, who is not religious, (he is spiritual, he claims) he finds absurdity in worshiping a God he cannot see and massive contradictions in the claims of the faithful versus the way we actually live. He fears, and frankly, he loathes what he sees as blatant hypocrisy coming from those preach from the Bible. He does not want to be judged by the judgmental! Yet he is the sort of person who can cast judgement on someone he has met only once and then dismiss that person as being unworthy of his time and attention. He has the gall to call them defective and belittle them behind their backs. Still we have to hear how we conservatives and religious nuts are the intollerant ones.

Perhaps we will never see eye to eye on matters of faith and politics but we can and do treat each other well. I believe that there are millions of such relationships in America. I do not fear or loath the people I know personally that do not share my beliefs and I guess that's what it's all about.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Im-an-ass In the Morning

editor's note: Please excuse the foul language in this post, the writer obviously got up on the wrong side of the bed...

For the life of me I cannot see the appeal of Don Imus. Why this freak is on the TV every morning is beyond me. He talks like he's got a mouth full of shit and I can practically smell the pungent odor of whisky and cigarettes masked by the gum that he is constantly chewing. His supporting cast is the most unappealing bunch of yes men I have ever seen. What kind of power does this guy hold over these people and the network?

This morning he starts off by saying "This is why people hate the media..." and then refers to an article on that takes him to task for declaring that Bush purposfully held off on helping the victims of Katrina in New Orleans because he doesn't like black people. He goes on to say if this had happened in Sedona AZ you can bet Bush would've reacted much faster, after all those are rich white folks in Sedona. He concludes, "I really believe that, I'm not just saying it?"

What a major league ass!

What is wrong with these people? Even one of my most liberal friends is sickened by the playing of the race card like this. How can so-called intelligent people even say these things let alone believe them? One must conclude that these people are really not that intelligent - or - they just don't care about basic facts. In a city that is nearly 70% African American simple math dictates that the large majority of "victims" will be black. Is that so hard to fathom? Of course not, but then we know why the major media is using this incredible human tragedy as a club to beat on a man they hate.

Tell me friends, what am I missing here with this asshole Don Imus? What is it about him that people find appealing? I find him to be glaringly arrogant and self impressed. At least with Rush Limbaugh your know his outbursts of braggadocio finds him with his tounge planted firmly in his cheek.


Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Government Are People Too

Hurricane Katrina

In the immediate aftermath of the mother of all hurricanes there grew a chorus of indignation toward "the government". Many don't seem to consider that the government is made up of people. In the case of the local and municipal governments they lost their homes and offices too. The local police and emergency responders suffered through the same storm and are likely to be some of the people you see being plucked from the water. The federal government is a large and bureaucratic behemoth, that it has reacted as quickly as it has should be considered a small miracle.

Is there a case to be made the the government should have been more prepared? Yes. This superstorm had been predicted for years. But stop and ask: Is LA as prepared as it should be for the "Big One"? Probably not. Disaster preparation is hard to do and extremely expensive. Should the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana have had better plans and contingencies? Yes, without a doubt, considering the unique geography and vital economic importance of the region.

Seeing the chaos and lawlessness on the TV was shocking. Still, I'm thinking I could find myself rifling through a grocery store if I had to feed my family trapped in a similar situation. I tread lightly on declaring absolutes toward the proper behavior of these victims. This is why I find the media's obsession with trying to find a scapegoat in all of this so repugnant.

As would be expected the "blame" goes all the way to the top. President Bush is a big boy and he can handle the criticism. Could federal government have had a better response? Sure. Absolutely. Everything can be done better especially with the benefit of hindsight. Consider if you will the sheer logistics of supplying a giant metropolitan area with food, supplies and fuel. Now, in one day it has all been wiped out. How long should it take move a massive amount of food, water, and supplies into an area where the infrastructure is gone?

Okay, you say, then the government should have mobilized the military and staked out the city(s) with guns and supplies for just such a situation. Maybe. But seriously, if you think the chorus from the news media is shrill now... Try to imagine the hysterical scenes on the evening news if George W. Bush ordered the military to occupy the city of New Orleans with the storm clouds brewing in the background. You and I both know the media would've gleefully superimposed Hitler's army marching on Paris.

I have done my share of beating up on "the government" over the years. In fact, it would be un-american not to. In times like these I say we give 'em a break and give 'em a hand. Right now they are telling us that what the victims need is cash. I'll do what I can.


Thursday, September 01, 2005


...suffering and hopelessness. Unimaginable destruction and mayhem. Simply unimaginable.

What can be said? Only prayers.

For the second time in four years our country has been slapped hard. We climbed from the rubble of ground zero and fought back then - we will climb out again.

Katrina, your name we will not soon forget, see 'ya. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.