Sunday, November 25, 2007

Box Office Bombs

Hollywood keeps pumping out anti-war, anti-American movies that are bombing at the box office.

For example, the "political thriller" Rendition didn't even crack $10 million domestically.

Some say these are made for the overseas market.

Perhaps they are.

But Rendition only made $5 million more overseas!

How about the Redford/Cruise/Streep big-star movie, Lions for Lambs?

Less than a paltry $14 million domestically, plus $20 million overseas!

Not a good debut for Cruise's newly purchased production company, Orion Pictures...

And Redacted, the Brian de Palma fiasco portraying American soldiers as rapists and murderers, in limited release this week brought in a measly $25,000 -- only $1,708 per theater!

Of course, it did do better in Spain.

With a "whopping" $75,000...


By comparison, 300, about Spartans defeating the Persians for the sake of Western civilization, grossed $210 million domestically and $245 million overseas, with a scorching opening weekend average of $22,844 per theater!

In other words, it was 13.4 times as popular as Redacted in its opening weekend per theater.

Or another way, one single theater showing 300 brought in as many viewers as Redacted's entire domestic opening weekend.

Maybe 300 was part of the movement leading to this:
Military training program for teens expands in US

One in 10 public high school students in Chicago wears a military uniform to school and takes classes -- including how to shoot a gun properly -- from retired veterans.

That number is expected to rise as junior military reserve programs expand across the country now that a congressional cap of 3,500 units has been lifted from the nearly century-old scheme.

Proponents of the junior reserve programs say they provide stability and a sense of purpose for troubled youth and help to instill values such as leadership and responsibility.
While military officials say the junior reserve programs are not used as recruiting tools, about 30 to 50 percent of cadets eventually enlist, according to congressional testimony by the chiefs of staff of the various armed services in February 2000.
At Chicago's Marine Military Math and Science Academy, the first public Marine academy in the nation and the fifth military academy run by the city's school district, it's easy to see how signing up for service would be a logical post-graduation step.

The hallways are lined with prints depicting historic recruiting posters and great moments in military history, like the Battle of the Bulge. Teachers in uniform lead classes in military history, civics, health, and physical fitness.

"The purpose of our school is to send all of our students to post-secondary education," principal Paul Stroh told AFP.

"What's different about this school is we take the military model of discipline, structure and leadership and put it into a high school.

"All of our students wear a uniform and all of our students are expected to be accountable for their actions."

And every morning in formation, Sgt. Major Smith draws a line between the discipline and stability of the Marines and the chaos of the high-crime, low income neighborhood where most of the students live.

"My elementary school was out of control. Everybody just did whatever they wanted," said Mariah Coleman, 14.

"Here there's discipline, but there's freedom as well. Everybody just respects each other and we get respect from the teachers."

Abolish Prisons?

Interesting claim:

U.S. prison system a costly and harmful failure: report

Interesting, but wrong!

Who made such a report?

Commie George Soros, of course!
It was funded by the Rosenbaum Foundation and by financier and political activist George Soros' Open Society Institute.
Their "conclusions":
The number of people in U.S. prisons has risen eight-fold since 1970, [GOOD! -- ed.] with little impact on crime [WRONG! -- ed.] but at great cost to taxpayers and society, researchers said in a report calling for a major justice-system overhaul.
It recommends shorter sentences and parole terms, alternative punishments, more help for released inmates and decriminalizing recreational drugs. It said the steps would cut the prison population in half, save $20 billion a year and ease social inequality without endangering the public.
Reducing the prison population and costs should not be a goal.

Locking up criminals should be the goal!

It makes crime go down.
The Justice Department dismissed the recommendations and cited findings that about 25 percent of the violent-crime drop in the 1990s can be attributed to increases in imprisonment.

"The United States is experiencing a 30-year low in crime, in large part due to the tough enforcement actions we've taken in the last decade," department spokesman Peter Carr said.
The recent little uptick in crime lately can be attributed to the fact that the early "crop" of prisoners is now being released after 15-20 years in jail.

I love this part:
At current rates, one-third of all black males, one-sixth of Latino males, and one in 17 white males will go to prison during their lives. Women represent the fastest-growing segment of the prison population, the report said.

"The massive incarceration of young males from mostly poor- and working-class neighborhoods, and the taking of women from their families and jobs, has crippled their potential for forming healthy families and achieving economic gains," it said.
Oh, boo-hoo!

What, they get improsined for no reason at all?

Maybe if they didn't steal things or kill people, they wouldn't be in jail, did you think of that?

Maybe their criminal behavior is "crippling their potential", rather than the incarceration?

But no, there's no responsibility applied to them.

Soros wants to destroy the fabric of our society so he can recreat and control it.

And idiot idealists who wish to be kind to everyone think it's a splendid idea.

In this they are wrong, as Belmont Club relates in a recent essay:
Counterinsurgency in Pakistan -- and maybe in Iraq as well among other countries -- may consist in making deals with some bad guys in order to fight the badder guys. Maybe diplomats should quit reading Foreign Affairs and start surfing or peruse Street Gangs: The New Urban Insurgency, from the Army Stratgic Studies Instute. Recently the BBC ran a breathless article entitled "Boston Miracle inspires UK's gang fight". Look closely at what strategy the police employed to cut down gang violence in the Hub.
Gang members were invited to meetings with police and church leaders where they were told things had to change. Those who chose to change their ways were offered jobs, counselling and other forms of support to get their life back on track.

Those who ignored the tough new stance were threatened with longer, harsher sentences in federal prisons. And it was no empty threat. Gang member Freddy Cordoza received more than 19 years in jail for possessing a single bullet.

As I've written elsewhere the process of "reconciliation" doesn't mean mindlessly making nice to everybody -- as some well-meaning persons seem to think -- it means making nice "on average". But the process is also accompanied by an increase in the contrast in treatment between two populations; being a lot nicer to the cooperative and the innocent but also being a lot tougher on the bad guys. While the average "niceness" improves greatly, the distribution of niceness is altered drastically as well.
I wonder how many promoters of "reconciliation" believe the "healing process" actually consists of destroying the contrast between the innocent and the guilty; treating people who wire up their infant children as bombs in the same way as legitimate oppositionists to Musharraf.
Lock up the criminals!

By the way, the notion that "victimless" drug possession arrests are driving the big increase in the prison population is bogus. From Department of Justice statistics,
In 1987 drug arrests were 7.4% of the total of all arrests reported to the FBI; by 2005, drug arrests had risen to 13.1% of all arrests.
An increase surely, but 13% of all arrests does not account for an 8-fold increase in the prison population!

Over half of the increase in State prison population since 1995 is due to an increase in the prisoners convicted of violent offenses.

And guess what, violent crime is way down!

I hardly call that "little impact."

Lock Soros up, I say!

Brain of an Ant

Interesting video clip from al-Jazeera tv, translated by MEMRI.

Watch the fun as the debate degenerates into a hail of curses!

The moderator begins by noting,
Following are excerpts from a debate on secularism and Islamism in the Middle East with Syrian author Nidhal Na'isa and Egyptian cleric Sheik Ibrahim Al-Khouli, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on October 30, 2007.

Interviewer: What is better for the Arab world – the modern Western platform or the Islamic platform? Only 10.4% voted for the modern Western platform, while 89.6% voted for the Islamic platform. Nidhal Na'isa, let me begin with you. Despite the Western, economic, political, cultural, media, and social invasion of the region, the Arab individual's hatred of the foreign platforms only grows, and his adherence to the Islamic platform increases. You have the results before you: About 90 percent of the voters reject the modernizing, secular, Western platforms – call them what you will. How do you respond to this?


Nidhal Na'isa: As you know, these voters are a bunch of people misled and numbed by the proselytizing, generalized, deceptive, romanticized discourse, which promises them black-eyed virgins and boys in Paradise, and such things. This discourse merely postpones the resolution of their problems – instead of resolving them today, let's resolve them in a billion years. This is escapism into the future. That's one thing. If those voters had managed to get a job and a visa to America, none of them would have voted, and nobody would have watched your show. You would be fired from Al-Jazeera and would be left jobless. Secondly, these votes reflect disgust for the totalitarian regimes. Like the hijab and all this Islamization, we are talking about disgust with the totalitarian regimes that have denied these people the good life. They are not voting this way out of love for these platforms...
The speaker then blames islamization on Bedouin invaders, i.e. muslims from Saudi Arabia:
Egypt, Iraq, and Syria have been centers of civilization since the dawn of history. They gave rise to civilization. Every day the sun rose, civilization shone on them. But when those Bedouins went in, they destroyed these countries, which have not recovered ever since. Since those Bedouins entered these countries, they have not recovered. They have become decaying countries, suffering from poverty, misery, and tyranny.
The plainly evil-looking Egyptian cleric then chimes in, and the real fun starts!

Origins of Denial

In Olympia, Washington, they're using children as human shields to block army transport trucks, and sabotaging railroad tracks with cement.

Obstructing the military in time of war? Railroad sabotage?

Normally that would be treated as a serious crime, but these protests are getting kid-glove treatment.

Indeed, one of the leaders is on the city council.

And the local university is offering "debriefing" and counselling sessions to students to aid their protesting.

Meanwhile "9/11 was in inside job" is gaining traction as an idea.
November 24, 2007 -- Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the federal government had warnings about 9/11 but decided to ignore them, a national survey found.

And that's not the only conspiracy theory with a huge number of true believers in the United States.

The poll found that more than one out of three Americans believe Washington is concealing the truth about UFOs and the Kennedy assassination - and most everyone is sure the rise in gas prices is one vast oil-industry conspiracy.
Where did this madness originate?

When did the left-wing start hating America?

The key might be the origins of the Kennedy conspiracy idea.

According to this theory, the left started to go mad when it had to deny one of its own killed Kennedy.

Oswald, of course, was an idealistic communist.

Not much is made of that fact, is it?
What's wrong with American liberalism? What happened to the self-assured, optimistic, and practical Democratic Party of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy? Why has Joe Lieberman, their closest contemporary incarnation, been run out of the party? How did anti-Americanism infect schools, the media, and Hollywood? And whence comes the liberal rage that conservatives like Ann Coulter, Jeff Jacoby, Michelle Malkin, and the Media Research Center have extensively documented?

In a tour de force, James Piereson of the Manhattan Institute offers an historical explanation both novel and convincing. His book, Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism (Encounter), traces liberalism's slide into anti-Americanism back to the seemingly minor fact that Lee Harvey Oswald was neither a segregationist nor a cold warrior but a communist.
Kennedy's assassination profoundly affected liberalism, Piereson explains, because Oswald, a New Left-style communist, murdered Kennedy to protect Fidel Castro's rule in Cuba from the president who, during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, brandished America's military card. Kennedy, in brief, died because he was so tough in the cold war. Liberals resisted this fact because it contradicted their belief system and, instead, presented Kennedy as a victim of the radical right and a martyr for liberal causes.
A New York Times editorial lamented "The shame all America must bear for the spirit of madness and hate that struck down President John F. Kennedy."

In this "denial or disregard" of Oswald's motives and guilt, Piereson locates the rank origins of American liberalism's turn toward anti-American pessimism.
Viewing the United States as crass, violent, racist, and militarist shifted liberalism's focus from economics to cultural issues (racism, feminism, sexual freedom, gay rights). This change helped spawn the countercultural movement of the late 1960s; more lastingly, it fed a "residue of ambivalence" about the worth of traditional American institutions and the validity of deploying U.S. military power that 44 years later remains liberalism's general outlook.

Thus does Oswald's malign legacy live on in 2007, yet harming and perverting liberalism, still polluting the national debate.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

G.I. Joe

We are not worthy to survive:
Hollywood now proposes that in a new live-action movie based on the G.I. Joe toy line, Joe's -- well, "G.I." -- identity needs to be replaced by membership in an "international force based in Brussels." The IGN Entertainment news site reports Paramount is considering replacing our "real American hero" with "Action Man," member of an "international operations team."

Paramount will simply turn Joe's name into an acronym.

The show biz newspaper Variety reports: "G.I. Joe is now a Brussels-based outfit that stands for Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity, an international co-ed force of operatives who use hi-tech equipment to battle Cobra, an evil organization headed by a double-crossing Scottish arms dealer."

Well, thank goodness the villain -- no need to offend anyone by making our villains Arabs, Muslims, or foreign dictators of any stripe these days, though apparently Presbyterians who talk like Scottie on "Star Trek" are still OK -- is a double-crossing arms dealer. Otherwise one might be tempted to conclude the geniuses at Paramount believe arms dealing itself is evil.

(Just for the record, what did the quintessential American hero, Humphrey Bogart's Rick Blaine in "Casablanca," do before he opened his eponymous cafe? Yep: gun-runner.)

According to reports in Variety and the aforementioned IGN, the producers explain international marketing would simply prove too difficult for a summer, 2009 film about a heroic U.S. soldier. Thus the need to "eliminate Joe's connection to the U.S. military."

Well, who cares. G.I. Joe is just a toy, right? He was never real. Right?
On Nov. 15, 2003, an 85-year-old retired Marine Corps colonel died of congestive heart failure at his home in La Quinta, Calif., southeast of Palm Springs. He was a combat veteran of World War II. His name was Mitchell Paige.
Read the rest for the true story of the real G.I. Joe whose likeness the action figure was modelled after, and whose exploits are being willfully forgotten.

A taste:
How many able-bodied U.S. Marines does it take to hold a hill against 2,000 armed and motivated attackers?
The citation for Paige's Medal of Honor picks up the tale: "When the enemy broke through the line directly in front of his position, P/Sgt. Paige, commanding a machine gun section with fearless determination, continued to direct the fire of his gunners until all his men were either killed or wounded. Alone, against the deadly hail of Japanese shells, he fought with his gun and when it was destroyed, took over another, moving from gun to gun, never ceasing his withering fire."
On a hill where the bodies were piled like cordwood, Mitchell Paige alone sat upright behind his 30-caliber Browning, waiting to see what the dawn would bring.

The hill had held, because on the hill remained the minimum number of able-bodied United States Marines necessary to hold the position.
When the Hasbro Toy Co. called some years back, asking permission to put the retired colonel's face on some kid's doll, Mitchell Paige thought they must be joking.

But they weren't. That's his mug, on the little Marine they call "G.I. Joe." At least, it has been up till now.
But don't worry. Far more important for our new movies not to offend anyone in Cairo or Karachi or Paris or Palembang.

After all, it's only a toy. It doesn't mean anything.
UPDATE: The author of the above seems to have embellished the link between G.I. Joe and Col. Paige; as his website makes clear, his likeness was commemorated on a G.I. Joe "Classic Line" figure, but was not the origin of the product. The internationalization of the backstory is however still a travesty and unbecoming of a proud and confident nation.