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Larger Than Life

Babies in Hollywood. Having fun with Indiana Jones. Obama's word (sic). Latest Roush magic. Plus more.

6.24.08

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BEING FUNNY
Re: Jay D. Homnick's A Matter of Life and Birth:

I liked Mr. Homnick's essay "A Matter of Life and Birth," but I found his puns cloying. They just kept on a-coming! The first four or five paragraphs almost made me stop reading. Only because I am staunchly pro-life did I find the motivation to keep on a-reading.

I know it's a matter of style; de gustibus and all that. It may be Mr. Homnick's nature to write that way, but it is not my nature to read that way.

A little less would have been a lot better.
-- James F. Csank
Seven Hills, Ohio

Jay Homnick opines that the lesson Hollywood is teaching the world is that "life, even when the titles and subtitles are out of synch, is always beautiful." Baloney. What Hollywood is teaching the world is that the narcissism of stardom allows one to ignore "conventions," aka marriage and a two-parent household, whenever it suits one to do so. That may work for celebrity, multi-millionaires. For most others, it's the surest route to a life of poverty, misery, crime and/or lowered expectations.

And that isn't "beautiful," Mr. Homnick.
-- Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida

Mr. Homnick seems to believe that simply because we don't hear about Hollywood starlets having abortions that it must not be happening. For some reason I just don't think that is the case because there is a lot of stuff that goes on in Tinseltown that we in the American hinterlands don't hear about. There are plenty of instances of extramarital affairs in Hollywood that go on that we never hear about, but does that mean it doesn't go on? For years people thought that Rock Hudson was just the quintessential hetero heartthrob, when he was in fact a closeted homosexual; we didn't hear about his sex life, but that didn't mean he didn't have one!

As for "giving Hollywood credit" for their treatment of the abortion issue, movies like Juno are more the exception than the rule. For every movie or television show that doesn't promote abortion, there are a score of them that do. According to most Hollywood scripts abortion is the noble way out when people are too young, too poor, or unprepared to be parents; a script like Juno stands out because it is so utterly different from the usual fare.

It is fine to give credit when it is due, but don't give too much credit to those who don't deserve it. Juno and Jamie Lynn Spears notwithstanding, Hollywood is still not all that adverse to the notion of abortion. Just look at all the celebrities who turn out for the big pro-abortion rallies and then tell me that Hollywood has "taken over the cause of teaching the world that life, even when the titles and subtitles are out of synch, is always beautiful."
-- Eric Edwards
Walnut Cove, North Carolina

Mr. Homnick's declaration that Hollywood starlets don't have abortions is rather absurd. I don't think that the myriad of press agents and publicity handlers that serve them would release monthly squibs to Cindy Adams on their clients' latest abortion details.

However, there are quite a few Hollywood tarts that have been hospitalized for "exhaustion" (cough, cough) and several of them have had more than one "appendectomy." (wink, wink).
-- Susie Q
Graceland East

Mr. Homnick is spot on. There's much to criticize in Hollywood but fair is fair: surely it's befitting and proper to recognize celebrities when they make correct choices.

Congratulations to Jamie Lynn Spears and props to Mr. Homnick for recognizing her. Likewise, congratulations to the other celebrities who have chosen life and props again to Mr. Homnick for acknowledging them.
-- Richmond Trotter

SOMETHING TO HIDE
Re: The Prowler's Dodd's Diversion:

Democrat Congressmen and Senators appear overly attentive to the FISA bill. Could it be they are sending signals to snoopers and telephone companies that they should never, never, ever look at or divulge their own calls and emails? The public might find out, for instance, that many, many elected officials and staff got mortgage deals over the years as well as the free lunches, trips, transportation, gifts and sweetheart business deals.
-- Howard Lohmuller
Seabrook, Texas

The silver lining in Senator Dodd's attacking the FISA bill is that he cannot order bombings of Bosnia or Iraq to cover up his imbroglio.
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

CRYSTAL SKULL & BONES
Re: James Bowman's review of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull":

When did the John Birch Society say that Ike was a communist? Many in the news media, the left, and the non-Birch right keep saying it, however always never with any proof of where the quote came from.
-- Michael Skaggs
Murray, Kentucky

I liked it! Compared to the other trash at the box office, this was good escapism, not laden with obscenities and sex. It made ya feel good!
-- Stephanie
Virginia

For God's sake, Mr. Bowman...Please, give it a rest!!

Have you ever gone to the movies simply for escapism? You know, to have fun and be entertained?

In all honesty, it's not hard to detect a whiff of elitist snobbery in your reviews. I often get the impression that I'm reading the opinions of a frustrated film-school grad who despises anything not made by a self-important director with a European surname.

You seem to take perverse pleasure in being contrarian simply for the sake of being contrarian. You hated "Iron Man," a high-octane super-hero adventure movie that audiences and many critics enjoyed, and now you've aimed your high-born negativity on the iconic "Indiana Jones."

Please, stop the needless search for left-wing agit-prop behind every comment and every image in a movie. And stop critiquing adventure films for their "realism." Complaining that an Indiana Jones film had space aliens is like complaining that "Saving Private Ryan" was too violent; you've obviously missed the point!

Most people, myself included, don't go to the movies for deep, social discourse or for soliloquies on the meaning of life -- we want to have fun! Why is that hard to understand?

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" was everything that fans of the character would expect -- action-packed, fun, fast-paced, adventurous, exciting, humorous, scary, violent, satirical, and reasonably well-acted. In short, another good effort from Mr. Spielberg.

For my part, I was most impressed by the fact that the bad-guys were Communists. It has taken Hollywood 50 years, but they've finally admitted that Communists were, in fact, villains. In my book, that's a step in the right direction!

Progress is good.

Please do lighten up, Mr. Bowman.
-- Gavin Valle
Peapack, New Jersey

OBAMA'S WORD
Re: G. Tracy Mehan, III's Obama Living Large:

The reason this matters is that Obama has been caught in a lie and the media, for once, isn't letting him slide on it right now. Even some of his most vociferous supporters know that if Obama wins this way he can be credibly accused of "buying" this election and that he has struck a blow at one of the left's biggest complaints about running for office... the "corrupting" influence of money in campaigning.

Personally I have no problem with a candidate raising his own money to campaign on, but it does matter when the candidate has pledged to play by the campaign finance rules and then bailed out at his first opportunity. And the worst of it is that he has tried to make excuses for his actions instead of taking responsibility for them. That matters to me and it will probably matter to a whole lot of those independent "swing" voters who were looking at him as a political change of pace. This may be the point where they start to recognize him for what he is: just another politician.
-- Eric Edwards
Walnut Cove, North Carolina

It is amazing!

The words were barely out of my computer's mouth when Barack Obama went and proved them once again (as if they needed to be proven).

This is the essence of what I wrote on Friday:

"The recent history of the Democratic Party -- both in politics and in government -- has been a steady stream of broken promises and broken own-rules.

"It's a pattern, I tell you, a pattern!"

Absolute monarchs, you see, are exempt from rules. They are exempt even from rules they make themselves.

Look on, ye mighty, at a future under Barack the Exempt and his Democrat minions, and despair.
-- A. C. Santore

It seems Tracy Mehan III is as goo goo for the new age messiah Barack Obama as his leftist base who justifies his goring one of their sacred cows by lying. Obama skewered his beloved campaign finance, because of "attacks" Republican 527s are waging against him? What the hell is this narcissist talking about? What Republican 527s are attacking him? Do we have any 527s operating? I know Obama 527s are spending millions attacking McCain (they probably should save their money and let Rush do their work for them), but for the life of me I don't know of any Republican 527s attacking Obama.

In fact, Obama is receiving very little scrutiny for his connections to convicted felons, terrorists and hate mongers; not knowing how many states there are in the U.S.; referring to living veterans as "fallen heroes"; failing to know what town or city he's in when giving a speech; saying he'll isolate Hugo Chavez while promising to meet him without conditions, but refusing to meet with John McCain in unscripted town halls; promising to support Jerusalem as the capital of Israel only to renege in less than 24 hours after Muslims around the world objected; coordinating his campaign with MoveOn.org; refusing to release his birth certificate; his wife's refusing to release her taxes or explain her anti-American and anti-white rhetoric; using liberal powerhouse bundlers (extortionists) to rake in millions from rich individuals and corporations (more than half his donations come from "greedy" CEOs, Wall Street, multinational corporations and large foreign donors); pledging to accept Federal funds in the general election, but when politically expedient flip flopping; complaining about high gas prices, but refusing to place a Federal moratorium on gas taxes, allow new U.S. drilling or building new refineries; having a campaign and support network full of ultra wealthy CEO's and beneficiaries of sweet heart deals with mortgage brokers; having a Nobel prize winning economist and father of the Euro write his planned tax increase and "economic plan" will send the nation's economy into a nosedive; arrogantly reworking the Presidential seal into a egocentric campaign prop; refusing to answer hard questions or conveniently cowering behind his race when his kooky schemes are questioned or analyzed to be rehashed liberal politics. Really impressive and tough as nails.

Maybe if Mr. Mehan spent more time looking at the real Barack Obama he wouldn't be so goo goo over the media created image. God save us from liberal-admiring "conservatives."
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

NO APOLOGIES
Re: George H. Wittman's Irish Eyes Aren't Smiling:

The plain fact of the matter is that the common folks, the blue collar and middle class folks, in many of the countries covered by the EU have said, and are saying, no to a united Europe. It is the societal and governmental elite in Europe and the British Isles that are so dead set on having this sovereignty eclipsing, bureaucratic monstrosity. The one-worlders, like George Soros and the whole Davos crowd, are absolutely determined, and the commoners are being told to bugger off and do as they are told. After all, that is why the treaty is not being put to a vote of the people, except in Ireland. As for NATO, I am all for the arrogant, ungrateful Europeans paying for their own defense. I think, after over 60 years, it is time.
-- Ken Shreve

I would like to ask for an apology to be published in response to George H. Wittman's very inappropriate reference to a stereotypical behavioral image of the Irish, as shown in the quote from his piece below. No other ethnic group would be expected to tolerate such a reference. The Irish should be afforded the same degree of respect. Besides being disrespectful and biased, Wittman is wrong on his facts. You may wish to consider dropping him until or unless he improves.
-- John J. Coleman, PhD

George H. Wittman replies:
Dear me, Coleman, PhD seems to overlook the fact that 47% of eligible Irish voters did not vote and that was considered a wonderful turnout. And by the way, Jack, the Irish are not an ethnic group. The Celts are an ethnic group! The Gaels are an ethnic group. And PhD's are doctors who can't deliver babies.

KISSING COUSIN
Re: Joseph Lawler's Romeo v. Juliet:

In your review of The Logic of Life, you make the same sort of unsupported normative claim of which you blame the author. Neither empirically nor logically is your claim that "No Romeos or Juliets are
likely to register for something as shallow as a speed date" correct. The purpose of speed dating for at least some people (my cousin for example) is to meet someone of the opposite sex who might turn out to be that one true love. Perhaps the problem is that term "speed dating" is a misnomer; no one actually dates. Rather, one or more real dates might follow.

Do you really think that there is one correct way to meet one's true love? What is it? My best friend met his one true love when she tripped and hurt her ankle getting off a bus. He took her to a clinic and they've been married for 25 years. Economists still want economic decision making to be scientifically measurable, hence rational choice or responding to incentives theories. The problem for economists, which is their elephant in the room, is that anything and everything can be an incentive because humans are motivated by more than money. To say that people respond to incentives is like saying the sun will rise in the morning. True, but it doesn't explain anything.

I do not wish to offend, but perhaps "presenting the most counterintuitive findings in lighthearted fashion is a sure formula for pleasing the audience" also swayed you a bit too much. Just as six degrees of separation supposedly connect each person to every other person in the world, it's easy to find connections between very disparate events, e.g., meeting one's true love. Connection does not necessarily mean correlation, however, and certainly not causality. Knowing that a butterfly flying in the tropics affects weather in Antarctica doesn't help a weatherman's forecast one iota.
-- Mark D. Richardson

BACK FOR MORE
Re: Mike Roush's letter (under "Taking All Comers") in Reader Mail's One Referendum Too Many:

Thus spaketh Mike Roush:

"Anybody who thinks Rush Limbaugh was within a country mile of commentary on a sociological perspective concerning race relations should see me immediately about a bridge in Brooklyn."

Mr. Roush, you've just proven my point -- in (ah-HEM) spades. Mr. Limbaugh wasn't interested in "sociological perspective." He was interested in satire. After Mr. Ehrenstein ever-so-kindly tossed the phrase into the public discourse, satirist Paul Shanklin plied his trade -- even including phrases out of the column in the parody's lyrics. It was delightfully-wicked satire, with "Reverend Al" the butt of the joke.

I'm very sorry (though not surprised) that you failed to appreciate the humor, but that's okay---millions of us did.
-- David Gonzalez
Wheeling, Illinois

Mike Roush's rationalization of attacking a politician's family members demonstrates that the only thing we can agree on is that Republican's should be held to high standard. Democrats will always find some anecdote to explain away their bad behavior. The Daily Kos and the Huffington Post could keep Mike writing his preachy missives all day long but somehow I don't think he really cares that much. It must be a painful existence to always be feigning concern.
-- Clifton Briner

I read with trepidation the latest exchange in the "my pappy may be a drunk so why don't you admit your old man diddles little girls" eliminations contest. Mike Roush bad mouths Rush Limbaugh for the "magic negro" song. Mr. Gonzalez, Ms. Carr and Frost write in defense of Limbaugh to prove his innocence. Mr. Roush, taking no guff, counterattacks saying their "proof" is no proof.

In full disclosure, Mr. Roush and I are pen pals through the good graces of Reader Mail. Mike once said something very nice about my writing and another time even recommended me for a job at TAS.

Out of curiosity (and the fact I dimly remember Limbaugh's comments) I took up the link to David Ehrenstein's original article in the Los Angeles Times.

Boy, talk about two different reading of the same article. Things look bad for Mike with the title above Ehrenstein's column:

"Obama the 'Magic Negro'

"The Illinois senator lends himself to white America's idealized, less-than-real black man."

After Ehrenstein states: "But it's clear that Obama also is running for an equally important unelected office, in the province of the popular imagination -- the 'Magic Negro,' we do indeed get a brief sociological discourse on the archetypical gasbag who's sole existence is to assuage white 'guilt.' Then there's something about such a man who fulfills the white man's fantasy as a noble, generous, self-sacrificing rescuer of beleaguered Caucasians. In other words, a black man whites can like and feel good about it. Apparently, Sidney Poitier, Morgan Freeman, Scatman Crothers, Michael Clarke Duncan, Will Smith, Don Cheadle and Magic Johnson are guilty of being all too willing to jump into the role."

Oh. Sidney, say it's not true!

Ehrenstein concludes:

"Like a comic-book superhero, Obama is there to help, out of the sheer goodness of a heart we need not know or understand. For as with all Magic Negroes, the less real he seems, the more desirable he becomes. If he were real, white America couldn't project all its fantasies of curative black benevolence on him."

I don't know about you but it seems to me the Mr. Ehrenstein wasn't saying nice things about Senator Obama.

Perhaps Mr. Roush is reading the article as saying the "magic negro" role is being projected onto Obama by the perfidious whites. I read it as Senator Obama is deliberately shedding the "pissed off African-American" reality of himself to exploit a flight of the imagination born of white guilt. I think the text bears me out.

I write this as one who finds it difficult to listen to Rush Limbaugh. He beats a subject to death. Given his three marriages, he can't possibly understand women as much as he thinks. His advice on childrearing shows he hasn't a clue. He thinks everyone should pay for most medical services out of pocket; but he shows little understanding that a single x-ray can profoundly break a family's budget. I have never met him; but something tells me he can be a jerk. Still, a number of liberals did question Obama's authenticity and his worthiness to be the African-American for the Democrat Party to seriously put forth as the first Black presidential candidate. Limbaugh may deserve to be impaled and put on display outside the Jefferson Memorial; but not on this count.
-- Mike Dooley

WEIRDO
Re: Philip Klein's The Post-Post 9/11 Candidate:

Pretending 9/11 wasn't is fundamental to Obama's campaign. Otherwise, we'd have to recognize that there is a genuine threat, not the "Big Brother" boogeyman, and it demands something of us, specifically courage and sacrifice. Not lots of lots of talk and movies and t-shirts and websites.

Obama is an odd guy; babies born due to botched abortions are on their own, but world-wide terrorists deserve due process. Weird, weird guy.
-- Michael Burke
New York, New York

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