Randy's Corner Deli Library

27 January 2009

Waltz with Bashir, Part 1

Tomgram: Waltz with Bashir, Part 1

As a 19-year-old Israeli soldier, Ari Folman took part in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and was on duty in Beirut during the notorious massacres in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. Just a week ago, Waltz with Bashir, the animated documentary film Folman directed in which he explores his own nightmarish, half-suppressed memories of that period, was given its first underground screening in Lebanon -- not far, in fact, from Hezbollah headquarters in southern Beirut -- though the film is officially banned in that country. It has also been screened in Palestinian Ramallah and is reportedly soon to be shown in the Arab Gulf states. It has already won six Israeli Academy Awards, best foreign film at the Golden Globes, and is now nominated for an Oscar as best foreign film.

At this moment, when the Israeli assault on Gaza has ended in catastrophic destruction and death, director Folman's remarkable voyage -- he calls it a "bad acid trip" -- into the oblivion of war trauma and the horrific recent history of the Middle East is as stunning, moving, and unnerving an experience as anything you'll see this year, or perhaps any year. A no less remarkable graphic memoir, Waltz with Bashir, was developed in tandem with the film. It will be in your bookstores in a couple of weeks, but can be ordered in advance by clicking here. Not surprisingly, the book and film have some of the impact that the first "graphic novel," Art Spiegelman's MAUS, had when it came out in 1986, and that assessment comes from the fellow -- me, to be exact -- who published MAUS back then.

The single best piece on Waltz with Bashir and its relevance to the recent invasion of Gaza was written by Gary Kamiya of Salon.com. He concludes: "Of course, Israel's moral culpability for the 1982 massacre [in Sabra and Shatila] is not the same as its moral responsibility for the civilians killed in the current war. But there are painful similarities. Sooner or later the patriotic war fervor will fade, and Israelis will realize that their leaders sent them to kill hundreds of innocent people for nothing. And perhaps in 2036, some haunted filmmaker will release 'Waltz With Hamas.'"

Given the power and timeliness of this thoughtful, dreamlike memoir from a living hell, it's a particular honor for TomDispatch to be releasing two long excerpts, exclusively, over the next two Saturdays. Thanks go to Metropolitan Books, the book's publisher, for allowing it to happen. I hope what follows stuns and intrigues you. Keep an eye out for part 2 next Saturday. Tom

WALTZ WITH BASHIR: A Lebanon War Story by Ari Folman and David Polonsky. Copyright © 2009 by Ari Folman / Bridgit Folman Films Gang. Published by arrangement with Metropolitan Books, an Imprint of Henry Holt and Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

21 January 2009

Dallas jazz musician David “Fathead” Newman died on Tuesday

Dallas jazz musician David “Fathead” Newman died on Tuesday

Email Print Tell us your story Comment

Dallas jazz musician and saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman, 75, died on Tuesday January 20 of pancreatic cancer.

Robert says that funeral services are being arranged, and there'll be a jazz service in New York.

Posted by T.G.

David "Fathead" Newman (February 24, 1933January 20, 2009) was an American saxophonist.

Born in Corsicana, Texas, his professional career began in 1954 as an original member of Ray Charles' Band.

Newman got his nickname in high school music class. Mr. Miller, his then music teacher, saw his music upside down on the stand, and knowing that Newman couldn't read music very well at the time, walked over and tapped him on his head with the conductor's baton and called him "Fathead." The entire classroom laughed, and Newman, having good humor, did not find it derogatory.[citation needed] The name has stuck with him ever since. But he, himself, has said he prefers to be called "David."

He moved to Dallas, where he graduated from Lincoln High School. After high school, he started playing flute and tenor saxophone at local shows. He then received a scholarship to Jarvis Christian College, where he studied theology and music. Newman stayed in college for two years and decided to move onto the road to further his music career. He played and toured with Buster Smith, Charlie Parker's mentor, playing many one-nighters at dance halls all over the central United States.

At one of these many gigs, David met Ray Charles. There was an immediate bond between the two.

In 1954, David joined Charles in his band as the baritone saxophone player (although he is more famous as a tenor saxophone and flute player) and began a twelve year gig with Charles. He later joined Herbie Mann, with whom he played for another ten years.

Over the years up to 2008, Newman has recorded over thirty-eight albums under his own name, including his first, Ray Charles-Presenting David "Fathead" Newman (1959) and second, Wide Open Spaces, which was produced by Cannonball Adderley, the following year.

Always a musicians' musician, Newman is best known for his hard bop style that has influenced whole generations of saxophone players of different genres. He has also played R&B and blues, appearing on recordings with Stanley Turrentine, Aretha Franklin, B. B. King, the Average White Band, Jimmy McGriff, Eric Clapton, Natalie Cole, Hank Crawford, Aaron Neville, Queen Latifah, Richard Tee, Dr. John, Cheryl Bentyne of The Manhattan Transfer and country/tex-mex artist Doug Sahm.

On January 22, 2008, Newman sat in as a guest with the CBS orchestra on the Late Show with David Letterman.

On January 20, 2009, Newman died from complications of pancreatic cancer.[2]


20 January 2009

No More Mr. Eloquent

No More Mr. Eloquent

by Simon Schama

Simon Schama
| |

barack obama and michelle obama walking during inaugural parade

Obama’s inaugural speech had few rhetorical highs, writes SIMON SCHAMA. But it was nonetheless a dazzling performance, a dose of tough love from a man who is already hard at work.

Did it soar? Did the pilot lift America and the rest of the watching world into a better place by the sheer thrust of his rhetorical engines? No, not exactly. Maybe there was ice on the wings of Obama’s prose, and not just deposited by the knife-slicing January cold. The chill was more a matter of mood: his and the country’s at a moment of unparalleled crisis. So there was no sugar-coating; not much in the way of head-patting and lullabies. What there was instead was great seriousness of tone and substance; the integrity that comes from telling it like it is; a feeling that the time was too tough for cheap lyrics. Even the delivery was urgent, decidedly unplayful. The words came at a fast clip, threatening to break into a run, rather than the easy grace; they were timed with his cool body language that I saw a year ago in Iowa and then again in San Antonio just before Super Tuesday, Obama having fun with his own powers of magnetism. This was not, he had decided, an occasion for verbal confectionery. There may have been a sprinkling of the Usual Suspects among the coats up on the glacial crag of the Capitol steps—John Cusack, Sean Combs aka Puff Daddy—but this particular morning was never going to be about entertainment. “It is time” Barack said, quoting scripture in apostolic mode, to “put away childish things”

The person they had just heard was not, after all, a wordsmith. He is, they know, at long last and in our dire straits, a leader.

There was not even much in the way of marveling congratulation that the centuries of racial hate and oppression, the deep taint on America’s founding, had finally been wiped away. With one neat, clean little sentence, the 44th President finally allowed the third president, the slaveowner Thomas Jefferson, who had asserted his country’s rebellion to be fired by the proposition that all men were created equal, to stop writhing in his Monticello tomb. Now Obama said, the piety had at last been made true. Though Obama referred (without speaking specifically of Martin Luther King) to the dream that had been set before America decades ago on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial now having been made reality, it was left to the veteran civil rights campaigner of that older generation, the Rev. Joseph Lowery, to pluck the strings of the heart with his fabulously politically incorrect couplets “if you’re black, don’t give it back..if you’re yeller, just be meller…” For Obama, it had been done. That was wonder enough. Fine, now can we forget about it and get on with Matters At Hand, for if we simply sit around and feel good, the country and the world will simply go to hell. It was though he was talking to us, not from the podium at all, but somehow as though already hard at work, looking up from his desk behind a sheaf of papers and a stack of trouble, interrupting the immense task to give America its marching orders; to say “we’re in this together. Don’t expect miracles. Life has changed. Get used to it. The world has changed. We can cope with it.” His exact words were simultaneously daunting and thrilling with the sheer weight of their significance: “the time has come to remake America.”

Nothing could be more distant from the empty sunshine of Reagan’s “morning in America” platitude that inaugurated the chuckle-headed race for loot that has now tumbled over a cliff. Obama went out of his way to pour a little benediction on the free market, never doubting that it was still a great force for Adam Smith’s notion of happiness. But it was tempered with reminders of the need for mutuality, for interdependence. And spiced with pure Franklin when he cleared away the tedious, relentless debate about the size of government by insisting that the true issue is not whether government is too big or too small but whether it works. Memories of post-Katrina revulsion at incompetence were cued up. But Obama knows that Americans across the spectrum of cultures and ideologies cherish common decency and things that do indeed work. And he evidently means to make both happen. Programs that do work would be sustained; those that don’t would be junked. Who could argue with that? So cockle-warming was scant. Some of the most powerful and moving passages of word-painting were scenes of American desolation “houses shuttered,” people out of work, south Chicago on his mind. But if sometimes he had trouble lifting his audience up, he never brought them down; every bleak reality followed by an equally heartening truth. Yes, things have changed, he allowed, but some things, the important things have not. The economy has somehow unraveled, but America is still the same nation of people who work hard, invent ingeniously, produce the services the nation and world needs. That is not the nation that has come undone and it will be that true America that in adversity summons the strength and resolve to remake itself. And you had to believe him.

Was it what the ocean of people had surged to this hill by the Potomac to hear, this exercise in tough love? No great roars of joy or exultation sounded off up and down the Mall. The cello of Yo-Yo Ma, playing John Williams’s variations on the Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts,” triggered a deeper throb of the heart. But people I spoke to in the subway afterwards—running into unknown doorways to get some sensation back in their extremities—all loved it, the word they used again and again. What they felt awed by, I think, was the uncanny sense that this 47-year-old had somehow internalized all of American experience, going right back to the founding fathers to the point that he had become inseparable from its history. The most startling phrase in the whole speech was when Obama spoke of tasting “the bitter swill” of slavery, civil war, and segregation as though it rose from his gut now and again in filthy reflux. But what the crowd also loved was his capacity on this wintriest of days to invoke Valley Forge and the Crossing of Delaware; to quote that whitest of fathers, the one with the guilty conscience who freed his slaves on his death and who had spoken of the spirit of virtue and honor that would pull the cause through its tribulation. When Obama conjured up Washington in Washington, it was not some token history lecture he was giving. It was though the tough, taciturn, clipped General had spoken to him and told him to ease off on the rhetorical honey and give his people instead the nourishment of patriotic fortitude, to draw deep and come forth strong. That he did, and that’s why, even if the connoisseurs of verbal fancy demur, the people on the subway were right to feel both comforted and inspired. The person they had just heard was not, after all, a wordsmith. He is, they know, at long last and in our dire straits, a leader.

Simon Schama is a professor of history and art history at Columbia University. He has been an essayist and critic for The New Yorker since 1994, his art criticism winning the National Magazine Award in 1996. Parts III and IV of his new series, The American Future: A History, air Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on BBC America.

Back to Top
January 20, 2009 | 6:09pm

Catastrophe and Euphoria

President Obama. Though I was originally a Biden-backer, I never thought I'd be able to write "President Biden" or "President Obama" for that matter. After all, I am the same one whose value system told him to vote for Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Walter Mondale in 1984. Now, after being exposed to the pomp and circumstance of the day-long inauguration ceremony and not being able to remember the underwhelming inaugural speech by President Obama who knows that his golden tongue, well exercised and polished as it is, has a lot to do and do quickly if he wants to turn this country around, I am left wondering what all the fuss is for.

I suppose there is something to be said for the peaceful transition of power and for the little ceremony that America has left. It's the thorn in the side of and downfall of most other governments around the world. We seem to have mastered the art. One could say that the previous administration should have been turned out of power far sooner than noon eastern time today, having presided over the fall of the American financial markets and the ripples that are slowly transitioning into, I fear, a tidal wave that will impact more lives than even Barack Obama can hope to save. I hope I am wrong.

Simon Schama was interviewed on Bill Moyers' Journal. Schama, a Briton teaching at Columbia University, observed what we are going through right now: the convergence of catastrophe and euphoria. People are putting so much faith in the young couple I am watching walk down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, cold wind howling over the teeming crowds. All this while notice comes to my computer that the Dow Industrials sink 332 points as a reminder of the reality that President Obama will face when he wakes up tomorrow and finds the horror and dread that is filling too many families' lives today including my own. So it is that my euphoria at having Barack Obama as President - a guy of my generation - is tempered, mashed even, by the catastrophe that I and undoubtedly thousands like me are feeling is impending, the gathering gloom to come before the hope and change that were promised us in the campaign arrives, breathless.

My only regret is now that I am not a part of the government, that I am somehow not doing my part. I can't help but think that the 28 years of Reaganomics against which I protested on the mall in Madison, Wisconsin but under which I lived my entire adult life have so messed up this country that it will be difficult for me, really difficult, to believe in any office-holder who comes to promise - and deliver- a better future. The hopeless romantic in me, however, wants to believe in tomorrow and the reason why America has historically held and still holds inexhaustable promise for so many, including me. The fact that this country could elect a Barack Obama President makes me think that anything is possible, the good as well as the bad.

Randy Shiner

19 January 2009

The only thing Hamas likes better than dead Israelis is dead Palestinians

By Mortimer Zuckerman

Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

Reaffirming the Right of Israel to Exist

A detailed reminder to the next leader of the free world

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | What the world cannot remember the Israelis cannot forget. The Israelis know the Jewish nation has been one defeat away from extinction for 70 years. They know that every partition plan in the region, from the dawn of Zionism to the present day, has failed because of the Arab failure to accept the State of Israel. They know that the Palestinian leadership is virtually hopeless, wherein the people who are moderate are not effective and the people who are effective are not moderate.

Today the impossible Yasser Arafat has been replaced by the impotent Mahmoud Abbas. It was Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, who presided over the division of the Palestinians into Fatah and Hamas. Hamas doesn't want peace, and Fatah can't deliver it. Fatah is so weak that it cannot enforce the rule of law against terrorism or make compromises for fear of the radical Islamists. Indeed, without the support of the Israeli Defense Forces, even now it is under threat of being displaced by Hamas. Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a major Hamas leader, underlined Fatah's weakness when he said, "Fatah can't stop us from seizing control of those [West Bank] territories. It is only a matter of time."

Israel is so small it has no margin for error. A Hamas takeover of the West Bank would put Ben-Gurion Airport and major cities like Tel Aviv in the firing line, which would render Israel virtually uninhabitable. This is not guesswork. When Israel left the West Bank, it became a base for suicide bombers, ultimately forcing the Israelis to go back at great cost. They've since built a security fence, but a fence will not protect people from rockets. The rockets and mortars launched against Israel from Gaza have gained greater lethality, accuracy, and range, going from 20 kilometers before the truce to 40 after. And without the current operation, it is estimated that within two to three months new rockets supplied to Hamas by Iran and assembled in Gaza would have been able to hit Tel Aviv. One of them just reached the outskirts.

Acceptable response. Over 20 percent of the Israelis were vulnerable even before Tel Aviv came within range. No government could ignore these threats to its people. Yet Israel's belated response has been challenged as "disproportionate". This is ridiculous. In the first place, it was Hamas's intention that at least thousands of Israelis would die from its 7,000 rockets. Would it fit the doctrine of proportionality if Israel were to respond with 7,000 missiles against Gaza civilians? Or must it wait until the number of dead is piled high enough to justify a "proportioned" response. And what of the emotional trauma inflicted on the living? Men, women, and children have 15 seconds to reach a bunker, which they must do several times a day. They must live with the constant fear of death and maiming.

Would America sit back if, over three years, 7,000 rockets and missiles were launched at our citizens from Mexico or Canada? We would attack these missile sites and wipe them out. End of story. The "disproportionate" criticism is a cop-out. Hamas sought this battle. It was Hamas that broke the six-month truce organized by Egypt. Both Fatah and Egypt urged its continuance; the current violence would have been avoided, as Abbas stated, had Hamas not fired its missiles.

Tony Blair, now the special envoy of the Mideast quartet, concedes he understands the consequences now more than when he was prime minister of Britain: "I would hesitate to cede the West Bank to the Palestinians after the nightmare Israel has faced since the Gaza withdrawal." He recognizes that Hamas has sabotaged years of negotiation. "Land for peace," he warns, "is in itself not sufficient. Not less important is the character of the Palestinian state."

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya has made it clear what kind of state his Palestine would be. Hamas seeks nothing less than an Islamic state as its covenant describes: "To raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine." To that end, Hamas has turned Gaza into a home for every brand of radical Islamist engaged in a holy war that sanctifies bloodshed, glorifies murder, and educates children to die as shahids martyrs. There was to be no Israel alongside a Palestinian state. Over and over again Haniya has said that Hamas will never recognize Israel nor honor any of the existing agreements with the infidels. Its founder, Abdul Aziz Rantizi, is explicit: "We will not leave one Jew in Palestine."

To achieve the extermination of Israel, Hamas is ready to sacrifice its followers: "We are not," says Haniya, "seekers of office but seekers of martyrdom." The Palestinian people are like the prisoners in a hijacked plane: hostage to the death cult of radical Islamists. Hamas calculates that no state can tolerate its citizens being vulnerable day after day to the russian roulette of rocket fire that hits children, kindergartens, playgrounds, and hospitals. The attacks are designed to provoke Israel while its perpetrators hide behind their own civilians and keep women and children in their forces. They keep TV cameras at the ready to transmit every image of dead Palestinians, especially children. Except for dead Israelis, there is nothing Hamas leaders like better than dead Palestinians, given the global media's appetite for pictures—all to damage the image of Israel. Who else but Hamas leaders would put their headquarters in a hospital or move about in the street only when they are surrounded by children or carry them in their arms because they reckon this will protect them from the more scrupulous Israelis?

They are abetted in this cynical game by the United Nations World Relief Association headquartered in Gaza, headed by and staffed by Palestinians. U.N. schools in Gaza have long ago stopped being just schools where children are taught. They are places of refuge for Hamas terrorists—and points of provocation. There is video footage of terrorists firing mortar rounds from the U.N. school and then running so that others might pay the price for their deadly work. Haniya and other Hamas leaders openly boast about the effectiveness of their human shield tactics, yet it is Israel that gets blamed when some of them die.

Israeli aid. The hypocrisy of it all is manifest on the issue of humanitarian aid. Who else but Israel would suspend the war effort for three hours every couple of days to aid in the provision of humanitarian assistance? Could you imagine England doing something like that when it was being bombarded by Hitler's V-2 rockets during WWII? Israel delivers to Gaza about 2,500 tons a day of food and fuel and other vital supplies. Hamas repeatedly attacks this mercy operation. Last May I visited the border and saw firsthand the result of these attacks on Israelis whose sole purpose for being there was to place bales of humanitarian aid on big flat-bed trucks, drive them through the crossings, deposit them 150 yards on the other side, and return. A week earlier, suicide terrorists exploded bomb-laden cars adjacent to one of the crossings.

The unthinking street crowds in European capitals with their Hamas flags don't give Israel credit for these humanitarian efforts nor its strenuous efforts to avoid civilian casualties: Leaflets are dropped and warnings phoned, even though this will alert the terrorists to escape. The protesters give Hamas a free pass for murder.

How rare it is for the truth to penetrate the moral fog! The Czech foreign minister, Karel-Schwarzenberg, now the president of the European Union, asks a good question. Given that Hamas "deliberately puts its military targets in civilian centers," he asks, "why am I one of the few that have expressed understanding for Israel? I enjoy the luxury of being able to tell the truth."

President Bush has the clearest perception of what is at stake. At Israel's 60th anniversary he said: "Israel's population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong because the United States of America stands with you." Alas, this pledge was shamefully compromised by one member of that audience, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. When it came to a vote at the U.N., the United States abstained. But for some reason best known to her, she drafted and urged the U.N. into supporting a resolution that called for a cease-fire without the protections of prior agreements, or the cessation of rocket attacks, or the prevention of Hamas rearming itself. In short, she was behind a resolution guaranteeing a continuance of the terrorism.

Any cease-fire must include cast-iron guarantees. They must decisively end the smuggling of arms, largely through the tunnels from Egypt. They must ensure that the firing of rockets will stop—not just for now but for good. That means the guarantees must leave open not the remotest chance that Hamas can be rearmed. Otherwise, as the National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley put it, the cease-fire would be "a prescription for the resumption of hostilities at some point in the future."

Hamas, in short, must be made to fail and be seen to fail. Israel is not trying to take over Gaza; it is trying to protect itself from Gaza. It is trying to preserve the possibility of a Mideast peace process. If the international community will not permit Israel to respond to ceaseless terrorism launched from land from which Israel has withdrawn, it ends any hopes for a two-state solution. What incentive would Israel have to withdraw from the West Bank were it to become a launching pad for terrorism? Hamas will fight tooth and nail to retain this terrorist option. That is why it must be defanged.

The Middle East conflict must also be framed on a bigger canvas. It is not just about creating a Palestinian state. It is also about preventing the region's takeover by radical Islam, especially Iran, which has co-opted Hamas and Hezbollah. If Hamas is successful in manipulating world opinion to impose a premature cease-fire, it will proclaim victory and continue its murderous ways. Iran and the radical Islamists are out to destroy Western interests in the Middle East—and to replace Arab regimes with radical Islamic states, Iranian-style.

On a visit to Sderot, President-elect Barack Obama said, "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I am going to do everything in my power to stop that, and I would expect Israelis to do the same." As president, he should continue speaking truth to terror.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Mortimer Zuckerman is editor-in-chief and publisher of U.S. News and World Report. Comment by clicking here.

The Best Thing Mr. Bush Has Done For Women In 8 Years!

“Say Good Bye To Mr. Bush”

Your Mr. Bush that is. This ad for Townhouse Spa and Beauty Bar, showcasing their 40% off a bikini or Brazilian wax is the best inaugural promo advert email newsletter we’ve seen yet. Townhouse Spa, on 56th street in NYC, a “classy” place, accurately identified a Bush issue that maybe Republican and Democrat women can all agree upon. In fact, as Chris said, this may be the first good thing that Bush has done for women in 8 years.

And in a down economy, creative risqué non-partisan advertising is the way to go. Why appeal to only one group, when you can reach all kinds of women? And why stick to boring, stale advertising, when you can link politics with personal grooming? Yes, “Good bye Mr. Bush. Hello Mr. Obama.”

18 January 2009

Partying Like It's 1942

Bill Moyers' Designer Genes »
Partying Like It's 1942
By Ed Driscoll · January 16, 2009 09:17 PM · The Future and its Enemies · The Return of the Primitive · War And Anti-War

Earlier this week, we mentioned:

In the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Schwammenthal writes, "Europe Reimports Jew Hatred: The mythical Arab Street now reaches deep into Paris, London, Berlin and Madrid."

As the Professor adds, "Well, it's not as if that represents a big break with the past or anything..."

Today, Infidels Are Cool notes, "Man wearing Jewish symbol stabbed near Paris."

Sundance Review: Paul Giamatti in 'Cold Souls'

Sunday, Jan 18, 2009

Sundance Review: Paul Giamatti in 'Cold Souls'

Posted by Daniel Fienberg

Paul Giamatti in 'Cold Souls'
Credit: Sundance

Charlie Kaufman had nothing to do with the Sundance Drama Competition entry "Cold Souls," but his name is likely to come up in nearly every review of the speculative existential thriller.

Think "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" meets "Being John Malkovich" (now "Being Paul Giamatti") and you'd have at least some idea of what to expect out of writer-director Sophie Barthes' feature debut.

While Barthes' high concept premise is a trippy conversation starter, the movie's actual execution is a little bit lax at times. True to its title, the movie has a bit of soul, plus brooding aplenty, but not nearly enough heart.

More thoughts after the bump...

"Cold Souls" stars Paul Giamatti as Paul Giamatti, an angsty actor having trouble separating himself from his upcoming Broadway turn in "Uncle Vanya." Giamatti is so tied up in knots over his self-obsessed character that when he hears about a company that will remove your suffering soul and store it on ice until you're ready for the responsibility again, he figures he has nothing to lose.

Did he not see the episode of "The Simpsons" where Bart sells Milhouse his soul for five dollars and suddenly can't open automatic doors anymore? Great episode.

Of course, as simple as it seems to slide into the giant white womb of the soul-sucking machine (a rather clear homage to Woody Allen's "Sleeper"), it turns out that life without a soul is life without pain *or* pleasure. What he also doesn't know is that soul removal and transferal is big business, especially for the Russians, who utilize soul-trafficking mules.

Like "Eternal Sunshine," "Cold Souls" is half science fiction and half philosophy 201 text. It begins with a quote from Descartes and runs through the usual tropes about the mind-body connection and basic human duality. None of it is quite as profound as Barthes thinks it is and, like Barthes has no problems extrapolating on the premise in ways that are sometimes plausible and sometimes whimsical.

Like "Being John Malkovich," "Cold Souls" examines the fragile insecurities of the character actor, the fungible identity and ever-changing levels of fame. Giamatti plays himself as a variation of other archetypal Giamatti performances, but anybody who has ever interviewed the guy can tell you that reality isn't all that different. There aren't many actors who play melancholy better than Giamatti and nobody mixes melancholia with comedy as well and it's the star's line readings that prevent "Cold Souls" from drifting off into a metaphysical Neverwhere in its last act.

What Giamatti lacks is a clear emotional foil, the Kate Winslet to his Jim Carrey, were this "Eternal Sunshine." With Giamatti's real wife Elizabeth producing, Emily Watson steps in as his wife and is sadly wasted. Also wasted is Lauren Ambrose as the receptionist at the soul bank. Dina Korzun's soul-swapping mule forges a connection with Giamatti, but their bond is, by necessity, chilly and not enough to hold the movie up.

I don't think "Cold Souls" currently" has distribution, but I'd expect it to find a home with an indie soon. With Barthes' assertive visual style -- downplayed futurism and fun with wracking focus -- and Giamatti's performance, any company worth its salt should be able to cut together a Kaufman-style trailer making it look like a mindbending comedy.

That's kinda what I wish the movie was, also.

12 January 2009

The World's Pornographic Interest in Jewish Moral Failure

The World's Pornographic Interest in Jewish Moral Failure

06 Jan 2009 02:55 pm

Okay, yesterday I was depressed. Today, I'm just pissed off. It's absolutely astonishing to me how interested the world is in Israel's failings. This is the source of a bitter but hilarious observation I once heard a Kurdish leader make: He was complaining to me that his people were cursed, and I asked him what he meant: Cursed by geography, cursed by their proximity to Kurd-hating Arabs, what? He said the Kurds were cursed because they didn't have Jewish enemies. Only with Jewish enemies would the world pay attention to their plight.

For the record: I defend Israel's right to defend itself, but I fear that Gaza will quickly become a quagmire. I fear for the lives of Israelis, obviously, but I also fear for the lives of Palestinian civilians -- I have friends there, in harm's way -- in part because the Israeli army (and I say this from personal experience) can be a big, rough bulldozer of an army, and in part (large part) because Hamas terrorists unblinkingly and ostentatiously use their own civilians as human shields. I've seen this up-close, and it's repulsive. One story the media isn't telling, because it's impossible to get this story in these circumstances (especially because Israel stupidly won't allow foreign reporters into Gaza) is how much resentment the Hamas policy of using Palestinians as human shields causes among Gaza civilians. Early reports indicate that Hamas mortar teams were firing from the UN School. This shouldn't surprise anyone.

One more thing, speaking of pornography -- we've all seen endless pictures of dead Palestinian children now. It's a terrible, ghastly, horrible thing, the deaths of children, and for the parents it doesn't matter if they were killed by accident or by mistake. But ask yourselves this: Why are these pictures so omnipresent? I'll tell you why, again from firsthand, and repeated, experience: Hamas (and the Aksa Brigades, and Islamic Jihad, the whole bunch) prevents the burial, or even preparation of the bodies for burial, until the bodies are used as props in the Palestinian Passion Play. Once, in Khan Younis, I actually saw gunmen unwrap a shrouded body, carry it a hundred yards and position it atop a pile of rubble -- and then wait a half-hour until photographers showed. It was one of the more horrible things I've seen in my life. And it's typical of Hamas. If reporters would probe deeper, they'd learn the awful truth of Hamas. But Palestinian moral failings are not of great interest to many people.

Share This

11 January 2009

Waiter Charged Over Arabic Chant at Jewish Wedding

WOODBURY, N.Y. — A waiter who shocked guests at a Jewish wedding by playing a recording of a crowd chanting in Arabic has pleaded not guilty to felony harassment.

Stephen Buttafuoco, 23, said he was playing the recording for a co-worker and was unaware it was being amplified over a sound system at the Woodbury Jewish Center during the Jan. 4 wedding, his lawyer Tom Spreer said.

Investigators said he made the recording when he attended a rally opposing the Israeli offensive in Gaza, during which protesters chanted, "Allah Akbar," or "God is great."

Buttafuoco, of West Babylon, was arrested Friday and arraigned Saturday. He was scheduled to be released on $1,500 bail, his lawyer said.

Spreer said Buttafuoco's father is a former Marine and pastor of a church in Babylon, and the family wished "to apologize to everyone who attended the wedding."

Police initially said Buttafuoco also had been charged with disrupting a religious service. Spreer said that charge was not introduced at his arraignment. Newsday reported a grand jury would consider whether to bring the charge.

Police said the defendant is not related to Joey Buttafuoco, whose 17-year-old lover Amy Fisher shot his wife in the face more than a decade ago.

Thousands of Jews rally against Hamas

Thousands of Jews rally against Hamas

The sign taped to the front of 10-month-old Ezra Wiesenberg read: "The IDF don't hide behind me! Stop Hamas abuse of children shields." Strapped to his mother Ann's chest, Ezra and his family had travelled with thousands of other Jews to London's to Trafalgar Square in London yesterday for a pro-Israeli rally calling for peace in the Middle East but also supporting the Israeli government's actions in Gaza.

Across the street, behind a cordon, the Rabbi Avraham Greenberg took his Israeli passport from its plastic wallet and slowly set it on fire with a gas lighter until its ashes floated around him. He explained to the small crowd on the pavement that he had been born in the state of Israel but he was ashamed to hold a passport from that country. He stood with more than a dozen Orthodox rabbis who joined in chants of "Judaism here to stay, Zionism no way".

But many more thousands of Jews attended in support of the rally rather than opposing it, waving Israeli flags and placards saying End Hamas Terror and wearing Stars of David on their faces.

Henry Grunwald, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told the crowd, which was estimated at 15,000 by the organisers: "We are the people who want peace and who want life for Israel." The chief rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, gave a message to Hamas: "Stop wanting Israel to die, start wanting your children to live. Why, Hamas, do you hold in contempt, not only Israeli lives but Palestinian lives?"

To applause, Ron Prosor, the Israeli ambassador to the UK, said: "The age of terrorism must be brought to a close so that together we can build an age of peace. Our soldiers are doing their duty with honour, dignity and sacrifice."

Listening to the speeches, Myer Malin, an 85-year-old Normandy veteran from Pinner in London, stood wearing his own medals and those of his father, who fought in the first world war. "I have come in support of Israel because they are under attack by Hamas and they have been unfairly represented in the press and media generally. Hamas provoked a war quite deliberately, the way they seized power in Gaza is comparable to the way Hitler seized power in Germany – they got themselves in a good position with the welfare service and promptly evicted the opposition.

"In this case, I think there is no such thing as disproportion, if you have got a war to fight then you fight."

Tania Schwartz, from north London, was furious and wanted to know where the media had been "for the last eight years when the rockets have been landing in Israel". She shouted: "Do you know that kids there wet the bed from fear? The moment the rockets stop, the Israeli soldiers will stop, they are desperate to get out of there and get home. But if it doesn't stop, the next time it will be Tel Aviv and Israel will be extinct."

Standing nearby, David Fordham, 49, from Hatch End, said his reasons for coming were very much different to those of Schwartz. "Some of us are here not because of Israel, but because we are concerned for our Jewish kids on the street, because there are Muslim kids who think if they beat up a Jewish kid or smash up a Jewish shop they are striking a blow for Kashmir or Palestine. People are shouting deaths to Jews and running amok in Golders Green. We are saying " Jews cannot get pushed around in this country". I have got kids at university and I am really concerned for them."

As the crowd around the square's frozen fountains sang the British and Israeli national anthems, Ann Wiesenberg, originally from New York, said of the protest sign on her baby son: "We feel that very often Hamas is actually putting children in front of them. We are highlighting the point that the IDF don't hide behind ci©vilians. They are putting their own soldiers at risk so as to kill as few civilians as possible."

Her husband, Andrew, said: "Hamas terrorism is like a cancer really – unfortunately. When you treat cancer you kill some of the innocent blood cells. We regret any loss of human life. The cancer analogy is very important – you don't stop before you finish the course of treatment, otherwise it will come back stronger."

As he spoke, a well-dressed middle-aged woman walked past – clearly not having planned to attend the rally – and shouted: "Shame on you Israel."The crowd, marshalled by hundreds of officials from the Community Security Trust, the organisation in charge of security for Britain's Jews and their institutions, as well as by the Metropolitan police, mostly dispersed after an hour, though a die-hard bunch lingered to exchange shouts across the barricades with the counter demonstrators. They pushed at the fluorescent yellow line of police officers that held them in as a speaker with a megaphone said: "now you know what it is like to be squeezed into a small piece of land and pushed by an oppressor".

©The rally followed a large protest against the military action in Gaza in London on Saturday, during which violent clashes broke out.

09 January 2009

Hamas Killing Their Own - MUST SEE VIDEO

This is shocking video that should be sent to the MSM as evidence of the sorts of people that are Hamas. They are killing wedding-goers...and the world criticizes Israel?!? If you can't see the embedded video below, click on the title to this post and you'll be taken to Youtube. FUBAR

Randy Shiner

08 January 2009

Why Does The New York Times Love Hamas?

Why Does The New York Times Love Hamas?

by Steven Emerson

The Daily BeastJanuary 6, 2009


Editor's Note: This article originally was published by The Daily Beast. See the original here.

The paper of record refuses to call them terrorists, extols the groups' humanitarian efforts, and whitewashes its behavior during the now-broken ceasefire.

In the past week, the Fourth Estate's Hamas cheerleaders have stripped away any pretense of being honest or neutral, with the New York Times continuing to take the side of the terrorist group in one of the most shameful journalistic episodes I have ever seen. In following the Times coverage for the past six months and checking external sources of information, one can see a clear pattern of propagandistic reporting favoring Hamas that selectively suppressed or willfully misrepresented information.

Even the Times knows it has a bias problem. Readers who detected it got a chilling confirmation of their suspicions in the December 13 column by Ombudsman Clark Hoyt. Addressing a public outcry over the paper's failure to use the term "terrorist" for the attackers who executed some 170 people in Mumbai, India in late November (and mutilated the six Jews killed in the Chabad House—a fact never reported by the Times), Hoyt quoted several reporters and editors making extraordinary admissions that shed some light on the newspaper's most recent dispatches from Gaza.

Addressing the general guidelines for using the T-word, "Ethan Bronner, the Jerusalem bureau chief, said, "Our general view is that the word terrorist is politically loaded and overused." But he said that sometimes, "when a person's act has been examined and its intent and result clearly understood, we call him a terrorist." (Never mind that Lashkar e-Taiba, the group behind the Mumbai attacks, has committed hundreds of terrorist attacks since 1996. How much more "studying" needs to be done?)

As for Hamas, the organization that controls Gaza, it has been sponsoring suicide bombers and launching rockets into Israel since 1987, killing and wounding thousands of Israelis (and Americans). But the Times has refused to call it a terrorist group because, according to deputy news editor Phil Corbett, the paper did not want to get into a situation where it might label a worker at a Hamas hospital a terrorist. So instead, it has given a blanket amnesty to all of Hamas—including its Izzadin Al Qassem military wing, which openly claims responsibility for carrying out terrorist atrocities.

This is a familiar ruse by Islamic terrorist groups (including the non-profit Islamic charities in the United States, which were shut down after 9/11): create humanitarian branches to distract from the true nature of their organizations. But has Ethan Bronner ever stepped inside one of these Hamas hospitals or schools? I have, several years ago, in Gaza, where I saw murals on the wall of Palestinians stabbing Israelis to death.

In the stories filed this past week, Gaza-based Times reporter Taghreed El-Khodary, has also fallen for another classic tactic of terrorist groups:, embedding their fighters and facilities in residential areas to incur more civilian casualties. El-Khodary's dispatches have decried the "shocking" nature of the Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians, sidestepping the fact that Hamas purposely locates its infrastructure among civilians—in effect holding them hostage.

Despite the fact that Hamas has executed scores of rivals, smuggled in hundreds of tons of explosives and tens of thousands of weapons, killed local Christians and shut down their churches, and summarily executed "collaborators" (those who have been accused, mostly falsely, of working with the Israelis), the paper appears intent on humanizing the brutal regime in Gaza.

On October 20, 2008, for example, the Times painted a sweet portrait of Hamas fostering love, not war, through arranged marriages for members of Izzadin Al-Qassem (the terrorist squad that specializes in suicide bombings, although this fact was conveniently left out in the story).

"Taking advantage of the pause in violence," Taghreed El-Khodary wrote, "the Hamas leaders have turned to matchmaking, bringing together single fighters and widows, and providing dowries and wedding parties for the many here who cannot afford such trappings of matrimony."

How touching. The next installment could be on Al Qaeda's mixers for Gen-Y terrorists or Hezbollah's eHarmony-style dating service for those terrorists too shy to walk up to female mujahid and ask her if she likes his AK-47. And by the way, those Hamas lovebirds were able to participate in an open-air wedding ceremony, because, the Times reported, Hamas "has been observing a truce with Israel since June, allowing its underground fighters to resurface but leaving them without much to do." In fact, Hamas was routinely violating the truce, allowing scores of rockets to be fired into Israel, smuggling explosives, building underground tunnels and, as we now know, building tens of thousands of rockets and long-range missiles to target southern Israel.

Yet a week before Israel launched its most recent offensive in Gaza, on December 20, Ethan Bronner was still promoting the Hamas line that it had "imposed its will and even imprisoned some of those who were firing rockets." What he neglected to say is that those allegedly imprisoned were never jailed more than two days, and that more than 200 missiles were fired at Israel by Hamas during the truce.

In this same article Bronner places the blame for breaking the truce on "Israel's decision in early November to destroy a tunnel Hamas had been digging near the border drove the cycle of violence to a much higher level." In fact, if Bronner had read his own paper's June 25 report, "Rockets Hit Israel, Breaking Hamas Truce", he would have learned that "three Qassem rockets fired from Gaza on Tuesday struck the Israeli border town of Sderot….constituting the first serious breach of a five-day-old truce between Israel and Hamas."

Another example of the Times downplaying Hamas' evil nature occurred deep in a December 29 story by Bronner and El-Khodary. Although focused mostly on the Palestinians killed by Israeli bombs, it did make a relatively brief reference to the fact that "Hamas gunmen publicly shot suspected collaborators with Israel," which the paper described somewhat nonchalantly as "internal bloodletting." The Times said that five victims were taken out of their hospital beds and shot in the head—a chilling episode that should have been a stand-alone story about the thugs who rule Gaza. Moreover, calling these men "collaborators"—when, for all we know, they were simply political opponents of Hamas—conjures up self-justifying images of the French collaboration with the Nazis.

Throughout last week's reporting by Bonner and El-Khodary, there were numerous references to two Palestinian children killed by an Israeli bombing raids, with the clear implication that Israel was recklessly attacking civilian areas. The paper never once blamed Hamas for intentionally using civilians as human shields. Even more telling of the Times' bias: On December 26, 2008, the Jerusalem Post reported that, according to the Palestinian Health ministry, two Palestinian children, ages five and 12, were killed when Hamas rockets fell short of their Israeli targets. Yet the Times never once reported those deaths.

In its purported evenhanded approach to reporting the news from the Gaza front, the New York Times continues to betray the trust placed on journalists to give readers all the facts. And in this clear attempt to place the blame on one party alone—Israel—the Times is advancing the cause of Hamas. If the Times really wanted to present the truth, it would simply drop the pretense of being honest and simply register as a foreign agent of Hamas.

—Additional reporting by Linda Keay

Steve Emerson is Executive Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism and author of 5 books and countless articles on terrorism. His most recent book is Jihad Incorporated: A Guide to Militant Islam in the U.S.

07 January 2009

Porn Kings to D.C. - Help Us Through Hard Times

Porn Kings to D.C. - Help Us Through Hard Times

Joe Francis and Larry FlyntJoe Francis and Larry Flynt claim the economy has made America's sexual appetite go limp, so they're going to the one place where sex is always rampant -- Congress.

Flynt (the "Hustler" guy) and Francis (the "Girls Gone Wild" dude) are asking the government for a $5 billion bailout, claiming the adult entertainment industry has taken a huge shot to the face because of the downturn -- citing the fact that XXX DVD sales are down 22% from a year ago.

"With all this economic misery and people losing all that money, sex is the farthest thing from their mind," Flynt says. "It's time for Congress to rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America."

Francis sees his industry like the big three automakers, only BIGGER: "Congress seems willing to help shore up our nation's most important businesses; we feel we deserve the same consideration."

Francis says he's going to D.C. to personally make the pitch. Sounds like someone has a bone to pick.

06 January 2009

A Year in Love and Music