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Klavan On The Culture

Monthly Archives: June 2011

Why Do Blacks Vote For Democrats

June 30th, 2011 - 3:01 pm

Here, at last, from PJTV’s Klavan on the Culture, the one conspiracy theory no one has dared to talk about before…  possibly because it’s insane.

Justin Folk does the sinister backgrounds.

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DVD: Restrepo

June 29th, 2011 - 7:00 am

On  April 20th, 40-year-old photo-journalist Tim Hetherington was killed by shrapnel while covering the war in Libya.   If you want to understand what a loss this is to our increasingly incompetent and dishonest journalistic community, watch the 2010 documentary Restrepo as I did for the first time this past weekend.  Co-Directed by Hetherington and Perfect Storm author Sebastian Junger, Restrepo covers one year with a platoon of US Soldiers in the hyper-violent Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan of 2008.   No matter what you think of the war, no matter what your politics, this is a terrific doc, exactly the sort of coverage our military deserves.  It gives the clearest picture of the men who fight of any film I’ve seen and makes you understand why the words we trot out on Memorial Day –  words like “hero,” “sacrifice,” “courage” and so on — simply aren’t enough to capture the living reality of what these guys do and who they are.

Too many Hollywood filmmakers did the villainous work of making preening, self-aggrandizing anti-war films while our soldiers were at risk and in the field and too many of our mainstream journalists showered those hateful films with praise.  Pictures like In the Valley of Elah, Redacted, Rendition and Lions for Lambs depicted our defenders as rapists, murderers, thugs, bigots or fools – even while those real life defenders were right in the midst of the fight.  It was an unprecedented bad act by our show business and journalistic elite.  It burdened the morale of our troops and supplied propaganda material to our vicious enemies.  The guilt of it is on the heads of each and every one of the filmmakers involved and the journalists who praised them.

I wrote several articles of protest at the time, many of them for City JournalRestrepo comes closer than any film I’ve seen to accurately depicting the kind of men I met while researching those pieces at Fort Bragg and at FOB Kalagush in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province.   It reignited the anger I felt for the recklessness and vanity of our spoiled, unpatriotic and ignorant creative class.  Good for Hetherington and Junger for showing the simple truth about our military without injecting their political opinions either way.

May Hetherington rest in peace.  He lived a life worthwhile.

Demonic and The Underrated Ann

June 27th, 2011 - 12:00 am

It seems strange to say that Ann Coulter is underrated.  Every book she writes is a bestseller — her new one, Demonic, is no exception.  When she’s on tour, you can barely turn on a TV or radio without seeing her face, hearing her voice.  I was in a restaurant with her once and she was so swamped with admiring members of the public I felt like I was part of a movie star’s entourage.  (I don’t really do entourages, but if I had to be part of one, I was glad it was hers.)  All the same, I don’t think she gets the respect she deserves.

I don’t expect anyone to give her the Pulitzer Prize.  The Pulitzer is one of those prizes liberals give to other liberals so they can call each other “prize-winning.”  It’s appalling, however, that in a country where a blithering bomb-throwing hack like Paul Krugman is given an ongoing column in a prominent former newspaper, Coulter is considered too incendiary to have a mainstream column of her own.  Her weekly piece online is routinely so witty, slashing and packed with information that it makes even some of the best newspaper columns look like pretty weak sauce in comparison.

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June 23rd, 2011 - 12:30 pm

When Barack Obama was running for president, he put forward the idea that the war in Iraq had been no more than a distraction from the just war in Afghanistan.  I, on the other hand, who was running for nothing, put forward the idea that he had gotten this just the wrong way round.  Afghanistan is a tribal wasteland that can’t be tamed without unthinkable effort, whereas securing Iraq as an America-friendly democracy situated on the borders of Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia might actually be an important victory in the fight against Islamo-fascism. But of course, as we know, Obama is uncomfortable with the word “victory,” because as a student of history, he’s reminded of when Emperor Hirohito surrendered to General Westmoreland aboard the USS Ronald Reagan. Or, you know…  something historical like that.

So now, after instituting policies that increased the number of American casualties in Afghanistan five-fold, Obama begins a withdrawal that can only reverse any gains those policies achieved. The Taliban aren’t idiots. They will bide their time and return to slaughter anyone who stood against them the moment we’re no longer there to defend them. The Afghan security forces on whom Obama is counting will ultimately join whatever side seems most likely to win. I really don’t see how this can turn out any other way.

This is not to say I think we should stay. I didn’t think we should have surged in the first place. I thought we should have drawn down our forces in Afghanistan and focused them instead on securing the victory in Iraq, thus insuring the presence of an ally in the region and encouraging a democratic trend to the Arab spring…  instead of what’s probably going to happen now.  I don’t think it’s “isolationist,” to pick your fights.

But Obama can’t do what’s right overseas anymore than he can do what’s right here because his thinking is based on incorrect premises, and those premises are kept in place by the political power of his left-wing base. Bush mishandled the war in Iraq for far too long, it’s true, but he had — or was developing — the right idea. The War on Terror is not a state-based war but an ideological one. It will be won, if it is won, by establishing and maintaining oases of better ideology in the midst of the enemy.  I have no doubt our military could do that in Afghanistan given enough money and men and time, but I think the price is too high and we shouldn’t pay it… not when we’ve already done the job in Iraq. As with the economy, so with the war, Obama hasn’t really a clue.

All right, it’s just one man’s opinion.  But while I’m at it, here’s another:  Whether I’m right or wrong, whether he’s ultimately right or wrong, Obama’s speech was a drab business, a purely political statement meant to cast blame on Bush and nab war credit for himself while at the same time positioning himself as a peace-nik in time for the election.  While there are men still out there getting shot and killed, I say:  Nuts.

TV: The Killing

June 22nd, 2011 - 7:00 am

I’m hearing a lot of people are feeling ripped off by the conclusion to The Killing’s first season on AMC.  You can count me among them.  And I have a lot of other complaints beside.

This was adapted from a successful Danish TV show and it might just as well have come with subtitles.  They reset it in Seattle but other than that…  the general social milieu and the politically correct sub plot about Muslims would’ve made a lot more sense overseas.

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It went on too long too.  And the main character, Detective Sarah Linden – well played by the hypnotically beautiful Mireille Enos of HBO’s Big Love – was not only a crummy mother but not really that good a detective, which made it hard to identify with her or care much about her.  And, as in all Scandinavian mysteries, the left wing assumptions were thick enough to choke on.

All that said, there was plenty to like.  The story was genuinely well constructed – that’s what kept me watching.  Not only was everyone a valid suspect, but the unraveling of each character’s secrets was emotionally compelling and added to the layers of the piece.

And more than anything, the main detective’s partner, ex-narc Stephen Holder, was such a terrific character and so brilliantly played by virtual newcomer Joel Kinnaman that it would’ve been worth watching for him alone.  It was a star-making turn, a piece of acting that was both deeply intelligent and wildly entertaining.

I don’t know whether I’ll watch a second season of this, but despite my objections, I did find myself sticking with the first one through to the annoying end.

Jon Stewart, Bully

June 20th, 2011 - 12:00 am

Over at Breitbart’s Big Hollywood, 23-year-old comedian Steven Crowder has been outlining an appalling show business story.

According to Crowder—my sometime colleague at PJTV—his manager submitted his work to some producers at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  One senior producer wrote to the manager to say, “Steven is definitely a talented guy,” but “we never book conservative pundits.”  Crowder then made one of his weekly YouTube videos in which he displayed the letter and discussed the incident.  Mostly, he did this by way of promoting his friend Benjamin Shapiro’s new book Primetime Propaganda which, aptly enough, exposes TV’s tacit blacklist of conservatives.

At this point, according to the next Crowder video, the Daily Show producer who wrote the letter went ballistic at being publicly exposed as a political blacklister.  She furiously phoned Crowder’s manager and upbraided him for showing Crowder her letter.  The reaming was so bad, Crowder’s manager, feeling he had to protect his business and his other clients, dumped Crowder.  (I emailed the manager requesting an interview and received an away message.  Crowder asked me not to contact The Daily Show, but if they want to tell their side of the story, they can reach me here.)

Now of course there’s nothing surprising about any of this.  We know that leftists mistake their politics for virtue.  They think that voting for Democrats somehow makes them good people, and that they are therefore justified in treating anyone who disagrees with them like trash.  We know that, whereas conservatives love nothing better than to argue things out with their opponents, leftists want only to shut them up—and they do this by blacklisting them, slandering them as bigots and, wherever the First Amendment isn’t around to stop them, legislating them into silence through “hate speech” laws and “Fairness Acts” and the like.

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KOC: Economic Smackdown, Ryan vs Obama

June 17th, 2011 - 6:27 pm

My three-inch tall homuncular other returns as PJTV’s Klavan on the Culture stages an economic Thunderdome between Congressman Paul Ryan’s debt reduction plan and President Obama’s.  Only one can survive.

Justin Folk supplies the visuals – for which I can never repay him…  in keeping with the subject of the video.

Movie: Insidious

June 17th, 2011 - 7:00 am

I missed this at my local theaters and had to drive half an hour to catch it at a second run house.  It did well at the box office, but I didn’t like it much.  As some of my readers will know, I’m a ghost story fanatic but what I like is subtle spookiness, not startle-scares or violence.  This is admirably non-violent – and well-acted – but really just one “Boo!” after another.  Written by Leigh Whannell – who wrote the clever and exciting Saw – and produced by Jason Blum – who worked on the top-notch Paranormal ActivityInsidious basically steals the plot of the latter and strips it of every bit of restraint and subtlety.  In fact, there isn’t an original moment in it.  By the time the Eccentric Exorcist showed up, it was just one cliche too many and I was thinking, “Gimme a break.”

It’s not awful or anything and if you want your girlfriend to jump into your lap every ten minutes, it might be fun to watch on video.  But if you’re looking for the narrative drive of The Ring, the character depth of The Sixth Sense or the creative story telling of Paranormal Activity, you can pretty well take a pass on Insidious.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

June 15th, 2011 - 7:00 am

This bestselling biography of the heroic Lutheran priest who followed Christ into conspiracy against Hitler has been out for over a year but I only just got around to reading it.  If you haven’t yet, you should too.  Although it comes in at over 600 pages, it’s terrific stuff and more than worth your time.  The story is heartbreaking and life affirming at once.  And author Eric Metaxas’s experience as a sometime children’s writer has honed his talent for explaining complex historical issues in straightforward and compelling prose.

Conservatives, especially, seem to find Bonhoeffer’s tale inspiring.  Glenn Beck says he couldn’t finish the book because he found it too affecting.  At a moment when many feel the evil of anti-semitism is on the rise – or to put it more exactly, evil is on the rise bringing its twin brother anti-semitism with it – it is fortifying to read the story of a man so grounded in Biblical truth that he knew the right path to travel from the very outset and even unto death.

I particularly liked some of Metaxas’s descriptions of the Nazis who took control of a once civilized nation and turned it into a hell out of Hieronymus Bosch.   Himmler is “saurian,” Heydrich is a “piscine ghoul,” and Goebbels is a “vampiric homunculus.”  (That last is my favorite, though I wrote Eric to say I thought he had been unfair to both vampires and homunculi.)

Best of all, Bonhoeffer challenges the distorted picture many, especially liberals, have sought to paint of this martyr.  They have tried to refashion him as a humanist supporter of “religionless Christianity,” and thus made him a vehicle of the “cheap grace” he despised.  As Metaxas proves, it was Biblical Christianity and nothing else that guided Bonhoeffer’s sure and certain steps to the Nazi scaffold and upward.  That faith is the story, and it comes through on every page.

Viva the New American Revolution!

June 13th, 2011 - 12:00 am

The week just past was a great one for the New American Revolution — that guerrilla assault by alternative media minutemen on the amassed redcoats of the Empire of Lies.

Leading the charge was Internet publisher Andrew Breitbart.  Breitbart, of course, exposed lefty New York Congressman Anthony Weiner as a lowlife and liar — but of equal importance, he re-established himself as the muckraker of integrity he is.  After Breitbart suffered slanderous blackballing from left and right alike for his handling of the Shirley Sherrod affair, it was a genuine thrill to see him vindicated.  Standing before the biased reporters he’d scooped once again, he challenged them, “The media says, ‘Breitbart lies, Breitbart lies, Breitbart lies, Breitbart lies.’ Give me one example of a provable lie. One — one!”

Less dramatic, but also noteworthy, Glenn Beck announced the launch of GBTV, an online video network that will run his TV and radio shows and other content when he leaves Fox News at the end of the month.  The often-embattled Beck has recently been replaying some of his past political predictions on air — predictions for which he was sometimes called crazy and which have more often than not come true.  It’s been a convincing reminder of what a truly invaluable and moral voice he is.

More.  Ann Coulter released her new book Demonic, putting forward the thesis that the American left is the party of the mob.  With all the hot babes following her lead into the ranks of the commentariat, it’s always good to remember that Coulter backs up her camera-ready looks with whiplash prose, rapier wit and dagger-like insight:  a one-woman arsenal of democracy.  The book has already rocketed to the top of the Amazon list.

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