Archive for December, 2009

And now for a Joe Gleason film festival

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Last year I was looking for YouTubes of Bryn Terfel, when I came across a beautiful, moving, short film, The Dinner Guest,

At that time, in the comments section, Erica said,

This is somewhat embarrassing to admit, but I found myself weeping, and I cannot quite for sure say why.

This wasn’t a sad film, but it had a sadness to it that drudged up some kind of abstract emotion inside me.

It was almost too beautiful for words.

The first time I saw The Dinner Guest I didn’t weep, but for some reason, while watching it today I did. It could be that the film’s wonderful combination of familiarity and yearning got me this time.

The film was made by Joe Gleason, who contacted the Anchoress (who is a big Bryn fan) and explained,

It’s an incredibly economic film; I borrowed many of the props, I manned the camera myself, the actors are friends of mine, and the mansion is right near where I live.

I’m a strong Christian, and I’m so glad to read your insights into the film. You’ve touched on many of the themes I hoped to communicate, and expanded on ideas I hadn’t even fully developed while making it. I hope to continue making films that provoke reflection and discussion, and ultimately, I’d like to impact the world and draw people closer to God through them.

Here are four more of his intensely lyrical, lovely films,

A Letter, where Mrs Sutton leaves the room…

A Birthday Party, on families and change,

The Hospital, on hope,

Today The Anchoress posts on another of Joe’s films, Almost Evening, in two parts,

The only other director that comes to mind who has such a deft touch on portraying characters and their relationships with each other is Ang Lee. I hope Joe’s career is as successful.

Wishing all of you a happy and prosperous 2010, and thank you for your support.

Year’s end optimism from Larry Kudlow

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

And let’s hope he’s right,
Faith in Free-Market Capitalism Is Being Rewarded
Market-based variables point to a mini boom in the new year.

If you believe in miracles, as I do, this looks like a miracle. If you have faith in free-market capitalism, as I do, then somehow this faith is being rewarded by a more durable and resilient free-enterprise capitalism than many of us thought possible only one year ago.

But the fact remains that businesses large and small, along with family households, have performed the necessary belt-tightening and deleveraging corrections made necessary by the Great Recession and its bubbled-up speculations. These free-enterprise actions have led to great productivity in our mostly free economy. Again, the results will show in next year’s mini boom.

A political belt-tightening also has been taking place. The Tea Party movement came on the scene in 2009 to revolt against big-government spending, taxing, and controlling. This movement is so reminiscent of California’s Prop 13 tax revolt of 30 years ago, which led to the Reagan revolution. It may well be the backbone of an anti-Washington revolution in 2010, ushering in a much more conservative Congress and a chastened Obama White House.

It remains to be seen whether this political revolt can stop the big-government assault on free enterprise. But I have as much faith in the political markets turning the ship of state around as I have in rising year-end Treasury bond-market rates forcing the Bernanke Fed to shape up and ship out of its wild money-printing ways.

In other words, free people and free markets have always been the best guarantors of American economic growth. Because I believe this, I am an optimist going into the new year.

Amen to that.

Fannie, Freddie, and Barnie

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

The Price for Fannie and Freddie Keeps Going Up
Barney Frank’s decision to ‘roll the dice’ on subsidized housing is becoming an epic disaster for taxpayers.
Bad news now,

On Christmas Eve, when most Americans’ minds were on other things, the Treasury Department announced that it was removing the $400 billion cap from what the administration believes will be necessary to keep Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac solvent. This action confirms that the decade-long congressional failure to more closely regulate these two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) will rank for U.S. taxpayers as one of the worst policy disasters in our history.

Bad news then,

Fannie and Freddie’s congressional sponsors—some of whom are now leading the administration’s effort to “reform” the financial system—have a lot to answer for. Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, sponsored legislation adopted in 2008 that established a new regulatory structure for the GSEs. But by then it was far too late. The GSEs had begun buying risky loans in 1993 to meet the “affordable housing” requirements established under congressional direction by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Most of the damage was done from 2005 through 2007, when Fannie and Freddie were binging on risky mortgages. Back then, Mr. Frank was the bartender, denying that there was any cause for concern, and claiming that he wanted to “roll the dice” on subsidized housing support.

Roll the dice he did, and the Republicans were not able to stop him,

There is more to this ugly situation. New research by Edward Pinto, a former chief credit officer for Fannie Mae and a housing expert, has found that from the time Fannie and Freddie began buying risky loans as early as 1993, they routinely misrepresented the mortgages they were acquiring, reporting them as prime when they had characteristics that made them clearly subprime or Alt-A.

An Alt-A mortgage is one in which the quality of the mortgage or the underwriting was deficient; it might lack adequate documentation, have a low or no down payment, or in some other way be more likely than a prime mortgage to default. Fannie and Freddie were also reporting these mortgages as prime, according to Mr. Pinto.

It gets worse. Go read the rest of the article.

Jules looks back in anger

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Jules Crittenden’s powerful essay about the decade,
God Damn The Naughts

God damn the Naughts. It forced me to take sides. I never wanted to do that, and generally, like most, had successfully avoided doing so. My profession had made the idea of it anathema, though when it happened, I finally was ready to admit that had in large part been a lie.

It became so many things I never expected. It was a decade that demonstrated what a bitter thing winning could be. Remember how, despite the opposition party’s best political efforts to abandon a war effort and abandon a nation to deadly chaos, our political and military leadership found a way to prevail there? Most people have forgotten. The more than 4,300 Americans dead in Iraq don’t need to have died in vain, though the commonly accepted narrative will be that they did. They did something good there, for that nation whose future was always written in blood, for a region that was stabilized and shown that democracy is possible. The only satisfaction from all of that was of the sort that can barely be spat out in words … You see, we’ve done it. You tried to stop us. So many fought so hard, and would not be denied. It had to be done and now it has been.

Go read every word, and let’s all pray together for a good decade ahead.

Can’t prevent a terrorist attack? Subpoena a blogger, then!

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Blogger gets a subpoena from the Department of Homeland Security for

All documents, emails, and/or faxsimile transmissions (sic) in your control possession or control concerning your receipt of TSA [Transportation Security Administration] Security Directive 1544-09-06 dated December 25, 2009.

Yes, the bloggers (h/t Instapundit) get subpoenas over security directives that were made public

as soon as soon as airlines and airports began implementing the directive—and that began before the bloggers posted their copies.

The document was not classified.

TSA subpoenas bloggers, demands names of sources

As the government reviews how an alleged terrorist was able to bring a bomb onto a U.S.-bound plane and try to blow it up on Christmas Day, the Transportation Security Administration is going after bloggers who wrote about a directive to increase security after the incident.

TSA special agents served subpoenas to travel bloggers Steve Frischling and Chris Elliott, demanding that they reveal who leaked the security directive to them. The government says the directive was not supposed to be disclosed to the public.

The Lid reminds us that the TSA

accidentally posted their procedures guide on the net, and while the secret parts were blacked out, there are software programs that can help people with nefarious intent to see under those “black marks.”

Will the TSA supoena themselves next?

More at Blackfive.

Today’s evening roundup

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Byron York: Is there a ‘double standard’ for Obama in terrorism case?

Charlie Foxtrot: Worst.Decade.Ever.

American Power: On Obama’s Watch: ‘Afghan Suicide Blast Kills Eight U.S. Civilians’

Bad news: How Goldman Sachs Made Tens Of Billions Of Dollars From The Economic Collapse Of America In Four Easy Steps

But what about the Beatles? Obama greater than Jesus

Frank Gaffney: Jihad 101

Gates of Vienna: Interpol: The International Enforcement Arm of the Islamic Republic of Iran

James Pethokoukis: Why the Democrats will lose the House in 2010

John Hawkins: The 40 Best Political Quotes Of 2009

Michael Fumento: Stormy Times for Global Warmists

Phyllis Chesler: The Lonely, Murderous Sons of Allah: A Psycho-analytic View

Roger Kimball finds Funniest Press Release of the Season, Or, My Gratitude to The New York Times

Rowan Scarborough: ObamaCare: ‘New frontier in pork barrel politics’

Victor Davis Hanson on Obamaism: Where did these guys come from?

Washington Examiner editorial: Obama gives Interpol free hand in US

Washington Times editorial: Christmas day’s recycled terrorists
Releases from Gitmo are coming back to haunt us

Bolivia’s prez wants to produce Coca Colla

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

If you can’t beat them, imitate them:

Noticias 24 reports that Bolivian president Evo Morales supports the creation of Coca Colla, a coca-based “energy soft drink”,

since we are interested in industrializing coca.

Not coincidentally, Evo proposes expanding the legal number of hectares dedicated to coca production from 12,000 to 20,000.

That should do for a lot of Gatorade.

Can’t make it up, if I tried.

Coming right up: The bald, fat, naked scan

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Yup, it was just a matter of time. The Dutch are now getting the machines for the bald, fat & naked scan:

Dutch to use full body scans for U.S. flights

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport will begin using body scanners on all passengers taking flights to the United States following the attempted terrorist attack on a U.S.-bound flight on Christmas Day, the Dutch interior minister said Wednesday.

The millimeter-wave body scanners will be in place in about three weeks, Dutch Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst told a news conference at The Hague.

Now, in addition to not being able to leave your seat for 1 hour prior to takeoff or landing, not having access to any of your personal property for that period of time, getting a full pat-down and luggage search (new rules), plus having to remove your shoes, surrender any containers with more than 3.5 ounces of fluid – including breast milk for your baby – and enduring miles-long lines at the airport (old rules), the airport staff gets a nice look at your privates.


My joy is complete.

Pantybomber Abdulmutallab’s al-Qaeda London connection

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

From the London Times:
Al-Qaeda ‘groomed Abdulmutallab in London’

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, a former president of the Islamic Society at University College London, advertised speakers including political figures, human rights lawyers and former Guantánamo detainees.

One lecture, Jihad v Terrorism, was billed as “a lecture on the Islamic position with respect to jihad”.

Security sources are concerned that the picture emerging of his undergraduate years suggests that he was recruited by al-Qaeda in London. Security sources said that Islamist radicalisation was rife on university campuses, especially in London, and that college authorities had “a patchy record in facing up to the problem”. Previous anti-terrorist inquiries have uncovered evidence of extremists using political meetings and religious study circles to identify potential recruits.

There’s a pattern:

He is the fourth president of a London student Islamic society to face terrorist charges in three years. One is facing a retrial on charges that he was involved in the 2006 liquid bomb plot to blow up airliners. Two others have been convicted of terrorist offences since 2007.

Well-to-do, educated, living in the West, and ripe for al-Qaeda indoctrination.

As it turns out, The CIA also knew about Abdulmutallab.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post had this paragraph,

Abdulmutallab remains in a Detroit area prison and, after initial debriefings by the FBI, has restricted his cooperation since securing a defense attorney, according to federal officials. Authorities are holding out hope that he will change his mind and cooperate with the probe, the officials said.

The paragraph has since been changed to

Abdulmutallab remains in a Detroit area prison and, after initial debriefings by the FBI, has restricted his cooperation since securing a defense attorney, according to federal officials.

Commenting on the deleted “Authorities are holding out hope that he will change his mind and cooperate with the probe, the officials said,” Marc Thiessen writes,

Holding out hope? Change his mind? Are they kidding? A terrorist like Abdulmutallab is not a common criminal who should be told he has the “right to remain silent.” He is an enemy combatant, who tried to commit an act of war against the United States of America. He possesses vital intelligence about the terrorist network that deployed him to attack America, and may be planning still more attacks. The Obama administration has a responsibility to make him give up that information. Treating him like a criminal is an abdication of that responsibility, and puts our nation at risk.

Something for President Obama to think about, whenever he gets around to returning from his Hawaiian vacation.

Speaking of the Obama vacation, maybe it’s time Obama stayed off the links.


Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

For those of us looking for an escape from dismal politics – American and Latin American alike – there’s a will and a way: Dude studies!


Dwight Gardner reviews in the NYTimes Dissertations on His Dudeness,

New in bookstores, and already in its second printing, is “The Year’s Work in Lebowski Studies,” an essay collection edited by Edward P. Comentale and Aaron Jaffe (Indiana University Press, $24.95). The book is, like the Dude himself, a little rough around the edges. But it’s worth an end-of-the-year holiday pop-in. Ideally you’d read it with a White Russian — the Dude’s cocktail of choice — in hand.

And don’t forget the 10th anniversary DVD edition of the film, too.

The book was put together by academics who had to make tough choices:

“When we first put out a call for papers, we received about 200 proposals,” said Mr. Comentale, an associate professor of English at Indiana University, Bloomington, whose previous books include “Modernism, Cultural Production and the British Avant-Garde” and “T. E. Hulme and the Question of Modernism.”

When putting the book together, Mr. Comentale said, he and his co-editor “immediately cut out all the papers celebrating the Dude as a hippie hero in a postmodern landscape.” That’s a sober choice. Admirers of the Dude are already dangerously close to becoming Internet-age versions of Parrotheads, the weekend-warrior Jimmy Buffett fans who tip back margaritas — and embarrass their children — while wearing flip-flops, board shorts, Hawaiian shirts and coconut bras.

One of them is a college professor:

As a new generation of “Lebowski” fans emerges, Dude Studies may linger for a while. In another of this book’s essays, “Professor Dude: An Inquiry Into the Appeal of His Dudeness for Contemporary College Students,” a bearded, longhaired and rather Dude-like associate professor of English at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., named Richard Gaughran asks this question about his students: “What is it that they see in the Dude that they find so desirable?”

Good question.

While you ponder that, you might want to watch the The Dude version of The Big Lebowski (not to be confused with the LANGUAGE WARNING other version):

The Dude abides.

Special thanks to the friend who sent me this article.