So Osama bin Laden is now your ultimate guide on Islam and building permits in NY city? Less coffee, more sleep and the bad, bad world out there (including the Cordoba Initative [sic]) will soon look like a much nicer place.
I hadn’t said anything about whether the Cordoba Initiative should get a building permit. That’s New York City’s business — and besides, I’m pretty much a purist when it comes to private uses of private property. More so perhaps than the Germans, who just closed down a mosque in Hamburg, and then went so far as to ban the group behind it. Now in this country, the Communist Party remained perfectly legal, and put candidates on the ballot, even during the darkest days of McCarthyism.
Some countries are just more liberal and tolerant than others, I suppose.
No, what I questioned was the “moderation” of a group named after a formerly-Muslim city. As I’m sure The Old European is aware, bin Laden is hardly the only Islamist hankering for a re-reconquista of old al-Andalus.
Indeed, we’d just as rightly question the motives of, say, a German group calling itself the Danzig Corridor Association. The interwar status of the “Free City” of Danzig — and Hitler’s desire for direct access to it — was the proximate cause for the German invasion of Poland in 1939. That Danzig was really just an excuse to get the Wehrmacht on the march only bolsters my point: Groups naming themselves after lost provinces might just be surreptitiously desirous of regaining them.
Of course, the “Danzig Corridor Association” is a silly notion, nearly unimaginable. German irredentism is dead and buried. Losing millions of people and a quarter of your territory, then having your country split in two for half a century by rival occupying powers can do that to a people.
Hollywood is betting on 3D movies the way it was betting on anti-war movies a few years back — and with similarly disappointing results. Let’s admit right up front that Hollywood gimmicks can be fun and as James Cameron proved, quite profitable. But over the long haul, movies come down to good stories, well told — first and last and everything in between.
So what’s the deal with 3D? Let me admit right up front that I just don’t get it — or didn’t, until very recently.
I’ve only seen three 3D flicks so far. The first one, 2006′s Superman Returns, was awful. The movie itself was more or less OK, as a completely unnecessary sequel to 1981′s Superman II. But the 3D was just bad. Almost the entire movie was in plain old 2D, so you had to stay ready for the cue to put on your glasses for the big action sequences. Then the 3D itself was so poorly implemented that you could hardly tell what was going on. The Space Shuttle sequence looked better on our 50-inch Mitsubishi than it did on an IMAX screen. Yikes.
Whatever has been done to the 3D sauce since then, it’s much improved.
This summer I’ve taken my son to two movies, both requiring special glasses. Toy Story 3 was a worthy successor to the first two movies, and yet another Instant Classic for the folks at Pixar. I don’t know how they do it, summer after summer. But the 3D? It neither added nor detracted from the essential quality (and our enjoyment) of the movie. The other one was How to Train Your Dragon. And let me tell you, not only was that a perfect summer kids’ movie, but it was made better by 3D.
Why the difference? Both shows were aimed squarely at the juice-box set. Both were computer animated. Both had quality scripts (even if Pixar’s was at least one notch better than Dreamworks’). Both were lovingly rendered. Both were fantasies. So why was one made better with an extra layer of digital trickery, while the other wasn’t?
I have to guess here, but I think it comes down to scale.
The Toy Story characters inhabit a world we know — a world small enough to fit in a child’s room. And the characters themselves can almost fit in your pocket. Does it really matter if a ten-inch action figure pops out of the screen? No, not really. Just be thankful the effect was done well enough not to ruin the movie.
But flying, fire-breathing dragons, soaring above rocky fjords and a half-frozen ocean?
Bring on the 3D, baby, and make it pop.
Which, aside from the novelty of someone finally mastering 3D trickery, is probably a big reason Avatar did such big business. People weren’t returning again and again, at premium ticket prices, for James Cameron’s snappy dialogue.
So, do you get it, Hollywood? In the right circumstances, 3D can put more bottoms in theater seats.
But mostly we’d just like a good story, well told.
UPDATE: For the record, A.B., I’m still not totally comfortable with pr0n at DVD definition.
From CBS’s Mark Knoller, we have a mostly complete list — one would hope, anyway — of President Obama’s “top priorities.” Take a deep breath before you dive in:
FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS: “…that’s something that’s going to be a top priority.” (4/27/10)
ENERGY SECURITY: “And that’s why my energy security plan has been one of the top priorities of my Administration since the day I took office.” (4/28/10)
EDUCATION REFORM: “To train our workers for the jobs of tomorrow, we’ve made education reform a top priority in this Administration.” (2/24/10)
STUDENT LOAN REFORM: “This is something that I’ve made a top priority.” (2/1/10)
EXPORTS BY SMALL BUSINESSES: “This is going to be a top priority.” (12/3/09)
HEALTH ASSISTANCE TO 9/11 FIRST RESPONDERS: “I’m not just talking the talk, we’ve been budgeting this as a top priority for this Administration.” (2/3/10)
END HOMELESSNESS AMONG VETERANS: “I’ve also directed (Veterans Affairs) Secretary Shinseki to focus on a top priority: reducing homeless among veterans.” (8/17/09)
HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS: “Our top priority is ensuring the public safety. That means appropriate sheltering in place or if necessary, getting as many people as possible out of harm’s way prior to landfall.” (5/29/09)
H1N1 FLU VACCINATIONS: “And throughout this process, my top priority has been the health and the safety of the American people.” (5/1/09)
SUPPORT FOR MILITARY FAMILIES: “These military families are heroes too. And they are a top priority of Michelle and me. And they will always have our support.” (5/30/09)
STRENTHENING TIES WITH CANADA AND MEXICO: “We’re going to make this a top priority…” (10/16/09)
CONSUMER PROTECTION: “During these challenging times, the needs of American consumers are a top priority of my Administration.” (2/11/09)
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: “So this is going to be a top priority generally improving our environmental quality.” (11/5/09)
Those are in addition to (on top of?) border security, recovery and rebuilding from the recession, sustainable economic growth, and, of course, creating jobs.
It’s getting awfully crowded up there — almost as crowded as it is under that bus.
Isn’t it interesting that the Ground Zero Mosque is being built by The Cordoba Initiative? Just a question that flashed after too much coffee and too little sleep, but it does make one wonder.
The Spanish city of Cordoba was once the Muslim city of Qurṭuba, capital of the Caliphate of al-Andalus. And Osama bin Laden has used what he calls “the tragedy of al-Andalus” as a recruiting tool for Islamic terrorists in the mideast and elsewhere.
So why is this Initiative, why is this mosque, named after a city Islamists seek to reclaim, if the meaning and the intention is to foster interfaith brotherhood and warm feelings and unicorn dreams?
From an otherwise-innocuous AP report on Nancy Pelosi’s House fundraising efforts:
No Democrat except Obama raises more money, say party officials, who credit Pelosi with pulling in $189 million since 2003. But she also is the GOP’s favorite target this year, eclipsing even the president in the guilt-by-association tactic that Republicans are using in dozens of races. [emphasis, obviously, added]
OK, if the Democrat incumbents in question voted for Porkulus, voted for Obamacare, voted for Cap & Tax, and all the rest, then there is no “guilt by association.” It’s just regular old guilt the GOP is exploiting, and the charge should stick — and stick hard.
From the President’s statement on the new Southwest Border Security Act:
I have made securing our Southwest Border a top priority since I came to office. That is why my administration has dedicated unprecedented resources and personnel to combating the transnational criminal organizations that traffic in drugs, weapons, and money, and smuggle people across the border with Mexico.
“Unprecedented resources?” Well, yeah, if you include a White House lawsuit to prevent the state government of Arizona from helping the Federal government to enforce its own laws. That seems pretty unprecedented to me.
At long last, savings! See:
President Obama has abolished the position in his White House dedicated to transparency and shunted those duties into the portfolio of a partisan ex-lobbyist who is openly antagonistic to the notion of disclosure by government and politicians.
Obama transferred “ethics czar” Norm Eisen to the Czech Republic to serve as U.S. ambassador. Some of Eisen’s duties will be handed to Domestic Policy Council member Steven Croley, but most of them, it appears, will shift over to the already-full docket of White House Counsel Bob Bauer.
The transparency thing was always a sham, of course. And anytime any President wants to can one of his “czar” positions is fine with me.
Which brings us to the obligatory Star Wars reference.
When Obama starting naming all these new czar positions, essentially overriding his cabinet and escaping congressional oversight, I thought of a scene from the command room on the original Death Star — and then promptly forgot to blog it for over a year. Anyway, it goes a little like this:
Governor Tarkin: The Imperial Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I have just received word that the Emperor has dissolved the council permanently. The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away.
General Tagge: But that’s impossible. How will the Emperor maintain control without the bureaucracy?
Governor Tarkin: The regional governors now have direct control over their territories. Fear will keep the local systems in line. Fear of this battle station.
OK, so the whole reference kinda falls apart with the bit about the giant orbiting battle station with its planet-destroying death ray. But it’s pretty obvious that this is an administration none-too-beholden to promises of transparency, or even to traditional (and constitutional) strictures on presidential powers.
I think Ira Stoll’s latest column, on the Fed’s bulging two-trillion dollar balance sheet, closes the case:
…to me the real significance of the chart (along with the downward stock index charts since the Fed’s statement Tuesday afternoon) is the potentially volcanic political impact. Think of it — $2 trillion in government money, more than the entire annual spending of the entire federal government in 2001 — thoroughly insulated from the control of elected officials.
Chopping up half of the American auto industry and handing it out as political favors? Carving up the health industry to give life-and-death power to an unelected political appointee? Killing off a hundred thousand high-paying jobs in the Gulf, as a sop to the environmental lobby?
That’s all chicken feed, compared to what the Feds can (and will) get up to with a $2,000,000,000,000 (and growing) slush fund.
POSSIBLY RELATED: In the long run, we’ll all be declared dead.
Two stories from two very different sources sharing one common theme. First, from the Daily Caller:
Additionally, Democratic lawmakers have taken heart that Republicans have tripped over themselves repeatedly as they seek to regain control of Congress. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine and Gibbs, along with many other Democrats, boasted that primary elections on Tuesday showed that Democrats were nominating good candidates while Republicans were under attack by Tea Party energy from within their own party, causing them to in some cases nominate weaker candidates.
And now, the Guardian:
The results of primaries in four states on Tuesday will leave moderate Democrats facing Republicans who have been tainted by extreme views, or accusations of unethical conduct, in key races for the US Senate and state governorships. This should undermine the Republicans’ attempts to retake control of Congress. “This is the best night the Democrats have had this year,” said Larry Sabato, a political science professor at the University of Virginia. “They’ve improved their position in all four states and the Republicans weakened theirs. The Democrats couldn’t have written a better script.”
OK, so Larry Sabato is a good pollster and a lousy analyst — we knew that already. But the Democrats seem to believe, honestly believe, that keeping the same old insiders is a big benefit — at a time when American voters are more fed up with politics-as-usual than ever.
The energy and enthusiasm is all on the side of the insurgents, because our incumbents (Democrats and Republicans alike) have failed. Completely failed.
The Democrats are at it again — disrupting people’s hopes and dreams just to plunge us deeper into debt. You might have already read this bit:
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) promised his children for months that he would spend one uninterrupted August week with them in Hawaii.
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had other plans for Chaffetz and the rest of the House. On Tuesday, Chaffetz will complete nearly 24 hours of round-trip air travel just to vote no on a $26 billion state aid bill unexpectedly tossed onto the schedule in the middle of the quiet August recess.
But dig a little deeper down and you get this:
Many members would prefer face time with their constituents ahead of the November midterms, and some are making no secret about their displeasure.
Except for incumbent Democrats, who would rather not see a repeat of last August’s Town Hall meetings. Any chance to escape their constituents — which might be what Pelosi had in mind all along.
Just a couple observations about the changes wrought by the Amanpour Regime at ABC’s This Week.
1. The reworked title music sounds like Kenny G on a double-dose of Demerol.
2. Why would ABC spend millions of dollars a year on a terror apologist, when there are so many of them willing to work for free?
And now I have to go watch the remaining 41 minutes.
UPDATE: Amanpour is also doing “magazine”-type pieces, including one that feels like it’s from a particularly weepy Dateline segment. Ugh.
Milwaukee teachers are having a very hard time:
With the district in a financial crisis and hundreds of its members facing layoffs, the Milwaukee teachers union is taking a peculiar stand: fighting to get its taxpayer-funded Viagra back.
The union has asked a judge to order the school board to again include Pfizer Inc.’s erectile dysfunction drug and similar pills in its health insurance plans.
Translation: Milwaukee teachers can’t get it up, and they’re not even motivated enough to pay a couple bucks for a pill to help.
That’s just sad.
Back in May, New Jersey’s new Republican governor promised he’d veto the Democrats’ “millionaires’ tax,” because Chris Christie wasn’t going to raise taxes, period.
The tax passed on party-line votes in the assembly and senate on May 20. Sweeney then certified the bill and walked it across the statehouse to Christie’s office, where the governor — who had vowed to balance the budget without raising taxes, and who’d developed a bewildering habit of keeping his promises — vetoed it. The whole thing took about two minutes.
“We’ll be back, governor,” Sweeney told Christie on being dispatched with the dead letter.
“All right, we’ll see,” came the reply.
Christie won that battle — and closed his state’s 11-billion dollar shortfall without raising taxes.
Draft this man for 2012.
Anyway, the quoted text is from a National Review profile of Christie by Daniel Foster, and you really do want to read every word.