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Christian to Christian

Clearing up the mystery of the missing Obama webcast? Also: All's Welles that ends well -- joining the Citizen Kane Mutiny. Plus: NOW's medicine, somersaults, desert justice, and more.

6.26.07

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FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Obama Webcast Shut Down -- Why?:

I thought I would send a description of what actually happened, I am the person in charge of all the video streaming at General Synod. Technical explanations usually bore people so we didn't put one in the press release.

We had been streaming all day with no problem, so after Obama started speaking I went back to the press room to see what the viewing stats looked like. I also checked my email, and instead of the normal few emails from people that had trouble viewing the stream I had 50 or more all saying EMERGENCY and the like. We immediately called the hosting company (audiovideoweb.com) and were informed that they were not receiving a video signal from us. I ran back to the encoding computer and there was no indication anything was wrong (Windows Media Encoder said "broadcasting and archiving" as it usually does). I then called the provider of the T-1 line at the Civic Center, they were able to ping both my computer and the router -- which indicated there was nothing wrong with the connection. I called the hosting company back and they suggested to simply restart Windows Media Encoder. I did this, which unfortunately cut off the end of Obama's speech -- which is missing from the archive. A full version will be posted when we return to Cleveland.

No conspiracy here, just very bad timing for a breakdown in the software (apparently).
-- Daniel Hazard
Electronics Communication Manager
United Church of Christ

Jeffrey Lord replies:
Ronald Reagan used to say that America mistrusted the Soviet Union not because it was armed, but rather America was armed because it had little trust in the Soviet Union. Christian to Christian I am happy to accept Daniel Hazard's explanation, although I must say I still find it odd that at the exact moment the UCC had been planning and advertising for months it inexplicably goes dark. Sort of like settling in for the Super Bowl only to find out all the TV cameras at the stadium have mysteriously malfunctioned and you must rely on bulletins from the AP.

Safe to say, I am not alone in this feeling, and I know there will be many UCC'ers out there waiting to hear a more detailed accounting. The real issue, however, and this is certainly not Mr. Hazard's fault, is the loss of trust on the part of a large number of UCC members who feel that their national church has been turned into an auxiliary of a political party -- and not the party they vote with. Until that is resolved, incidents such as this will continue to occur because of a basic lack of trust in the church hierarchy. Were George W. Bush a member of the UCC, I think it's safe to say John Thomas would not have extended an invitation. And of course, the question of Senator Obama's presence as a presidential candidate, now retrievable from UCC archives as an in-kind contribution to the Obama campaign from the UCC, remains. It is exactly the kind of thing Barry Lynn has made a career condemning and litigating.

Late yesterday afternoon, Reverend Lynn finally responded, with a post to his website. It should not come as a surprise that in spite of Obama's out-and-out campaign speech and the presence of Obama campaign tables, the scourge of churches who lend themselves to politics sees no elephant -- ah, donkey -- in the room.

THE CITIZEN KANE MUTINY
Re: Larry Thornberry's Don't Save Me the Aisle Seat:

Larry Thornberry knows his stuff about cinema, and he's dead-on when he wonders what the so-called American Film Institute's members were smoking when they came up with their latest list of the 100 best. Casablanca is just about the only one I agree with. And I was shocked, shocked to see that they completely overlook High Noon, which to my uninformed mind is the best film ever made anytime, anywhere, nouvelle vague French stuff notwithstanding. Noon adheres perfectly to the Aristotelian unities of time and place, the acting by Gary Cooper, Thomas Mitchell, Grace Kelly et al. is superb, and there is not a wasted or superfluous word or camera shot in the script. I revisit it at least once a year, and discover something new to admire every time. Not likely to happen with Titanic.
-- Joe Harriss
Paris, France

I have to agree with the main thrust of Larry Thornberry's excellent piece "Don't save me the aisle seat." How can 60-odd years of movies not surpass a film that couldn't win Best Picture Oscar? Thornberry is absolutely spot-on with his characterization of the bore-fest that was Titanic, but I happen to disagree with his ranking of The Deerhunter. While I would have been a bit more judicious with the edit (it ran 30min too long), it had stunning cinematography that shows off the beautiful nature that is the wilds of the USA, coupled with De Niro and Walken who were superb. The Sixth Sense was always highly overrated and a dishonest movie (How can a ghost slam a door....bah!), and the absence of my all-time fave musical, Mary Poppins, is a slap in the face when you consider Toy Story gets a run. The other obvious movies to miss out I believe were the remaining two Lord of the Rings sequels, but the fact that there was only one movie in the 21st century, highlights that the 20th century was a golden era in Hollywood.
-- Nathan Maskiell
Melbourne, Australia

I'm sure The American Spectator can come up with higher quality material than Larry Thornberry's article about AFI's "best movies" list. He gives us an angry rant that supplies very little intellectual fortitude to back up his opinions. Anyone can sit back and insult the work of others; but let's have some solid supporting evidence other than to say such things as, "Everyone associated with this truly awful experience should be hanged," or "Choose something else." I'm sure the editors can drum up better material than this.
-- Will Traynor

Two thumbs up for Larry's critique on the critics !. If he did this regularly, I'd subscribe. Best read in a long while.
-- Russel Ready

Not being specifically a movie critic, just generally critical, I must say, though, that a certain statement peaked my curiosity: Just how would a "crossdresser" play a Sydney Greenstreet "roll"?

Animatedly? As in a quivering mass? Or inanimately buttered on a plate waiting to be eaten? Or crossly shredding the roll?
-- Wolf Terner
Fair Lawn, New Jersey

While it is dated, among Citizen Kane's contributions are lighting and camera angles used to set tone and mood. This was highly innovative for its day even if they are the result of Welles's small budget more than genius. At least Kane has that much going for it. What, precisely did The Godfather contribute to the cinema? At its finest moments it is little more than a soap opera, and it is only fitting that the star is a man whose talent for superficial melodrama belonged in the soaps and only in the soaps. Isn't it time we took a more realistic look at the most overrated actor of all time, Marlon Brando, and stopped putting movies on "best" lists simply because he is listed in the credits? If there is a less interesting, more one-dimensional actor or actress to ever become famous, I'd like to know who it is. Maybe Meryl Streep. Watching Brando act is just that -- watching Brando act -- nothing more. It's like watching an auto mechanic change spark plugs: necessary work, but not really captivating. His characters seem intentionally dull. Don Corleone is the most intellectual of all Brando's roles, or it seems that way when compared to Terry "I cudda been a contendah" Malloy and Stanley (Stellah!!) Kowalski. And who can forget his timeless portrayal of Jor-el in the Superman Saga? Can we look at this man and then seriously criticize Kane as being famous for being famous without at least putting Brando and The Godfather in the same category?

And precisely what is it about The Godfather that makes it a good movie? Is it family values, or is it a morality play that informs us that psychopaths with machine guns are entitled to respect? Isn't it really just Bonnie and Clyde in pinstriped suits -- without the depth? The Godfather deserves no respect or at least a good deal less than Citizen Kane and every other movie on that list.
-- Tom Callanan

Notice that a large number of those "100 best" are from that late 60's "coming of age crowd." The Deer Hunter (America's war failure), Apocalypse Now (more American war failure is better), The Graduate (an American moral breakdown...good!), Easy Rider (America failed us too, so we're broken down & livin' off the land...immorally) as with The Grapes of Wrath.

The Godfather is a good story, and it is always watch-able, but Citizen Kane is unmitigated dullness. If they made that top 100 list available at their website without one having to give up so much personal info, we could joyfully slam more of their choices.
-- P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan

Larry: Right on the money with your list of boring/crappy movies. As a two-tour veteran of Vietnam, I'd like to point out that Apoplexy Now, the so-called Deerhunter and Platooie! are extremely offensive to me and my brothers-in-arms. The list of what is technically/factually incorrect in these movies is way too long to mention. The list is what is morally wrong is even longer.
-- Earl Wright
Clovis, California

Thank you so much for FINALLY saying what my husband and I have felt for years. Hollywood is so full of pretentious nincompoops who feel that they have such deep messages for us, the great unwashed. I just want to be entertained. I love John Wayne movies, especially The Quiet Man. If anyone hates the war they should watch Friendly Persuasion. Oh, I forgot. That might be considered a chick flick. I happen to like the Bourne movies. What does that say about me? I really enjoyed Man on Fire with Denzel Washington. Morgan Freeman is my favorite actor in whatever role he plays. I think any movie that we can see many times, and find something new, is a well made movie. I love Amelie...but I also get a kick out of Weekend at Bernie's. My friends and I try to find something, ANYTHING, we will pay 11 bucks to see and cannot find one movie. I just wait until I can rent one because it is cheaper. I don't have to listen to a cell phone someone forgot to turn off and the popcorn and drinks are reasonable. If Hollywood is a state of mind it needs a lobotomy.
-- A Grateful Reader

Thank you, thank you Larry Thornberry! Before this article, I always thought it was just me, out of step and just not getting it!
-- Fred Senko
Henderson, Nevada

Gesundheit, Mr. Thornberry.

Rosebud.
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

It's ... Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. A minor editor's oversight, to be sure, but at least you have mentioned my heroes!
-- Clifford Baron
U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers
Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

Larry Thornberry replies: Oops! Have to charge the author with an error on that one. Right through the wickets. Apologies to all Flatt and Scruggs fans (which includes me) everywhere.

MORE UCC, IRS, AND OBAMA
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Obama Webcast Shut Down -- Why?:

Perhaps the Bible also has a message or two about what the UCC has done or not done.

Regarding hearing or seeing truth, in the Gospel of John's verse 8:32, Christ Jesus says, "And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." Truth can be divine or temporal. Here, above all, it's about knowing -- believing in -- Jesus. What truths, though, do Obama and the UCC fear that we'll all know and see about their recent political convention and what transpired there when Obama spoke?

Regarding darkness, in John 3:19, the Christ says, "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." Of course, Jesus is speaking of Himself, the light of the world. But if the UCC created that Web darkness, what does that speak of their deeds or Obama's?

Whether or not they intentionally engineered that darkness, it seems the UCC leadership and some of that denomination's members, including the presidential-nominee wannabe, are the real hijackers of Christian faith here. They've seized or allowed the seizure of the pulpit meant for spreading the divine Gospel of love, forgiveness and redemption -- and willingly handed it over to men and women such as Obama, a man arrogantly preaching his own secular gospel.

Just as Barry Lynn still doesn't understand Jefferson's words, it appears the UCC still doesn't grasp Jesus' words. It is any wonder, then, that they remain hijackers?
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

Come now, you don't really believe the IRS will suddenly begin to investigate Churches that invite Democrats to campaign from their pulpits, do you?

This has been a standard Democratic campaign ploy for many years, dating back to Jimmie Carter, and possibly, even before that. Certainly, Democratic black politicians have long run to the nearest pulpit to have their spiritual bona fides confirmed.

Hillary may not use her own church for political campaigning, but she was guilty of "preaching" at a Selma, Alabama, church not long ago, using a fake Southern accent. Got away with it, too. Last I heard, the church was not being investigated by the IRS.

Jeffrey, the Bush administration doesn't have the cojones to sic the IRS on any church. The media would crucify them, and, you know, they can't stand that.

We have the best government in this country that money can buy. They were bought and paid for a long time ago.
-- R. Goodson
Vero Beach, Florida

So, if Obama coming to talk to a church group such as Lord describes, then how did Kerry, Edwards, et al get away with talking to the AME church in Los Angeles last election cycle? Why aren't these organizations being called on the carpet about this obvious violation of the separation of church and state?
-- Bill Coulter

The time has come to turn the tables on the religious left and start demanding IRS investigations of their all to frequent political events and endorsements of Democrat political candidates. What's good for the "Bible thumpers" is good for the effete liberal snobs who constantly defy the "sacred" wall of separation between church and state. Barry Lynn, where are you?
-- Chaplain Michael Tomlinson, USN
Anti-Terrorism Battalion
2d Marine Division
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

As a UCC member, I am getting fed up with their liberal causes. Good thing each Church can essentially do as they please. When last year, I read on the back of the Church bulletin an article by Barry Lynn, I became furious.

I read an article last year -- I believe from the L.A. Times -- that was about Church membership. Essentially, the more liberal a Church becomes, the more members they lose.
-- Dennis Campbell
First United Church of Christ
Green Bay, Wisconsin

AFTER GUANTANAMO
Re: Andrew Cline's Here's the Skinny:

Re: Andrew Cline's "Here's the Skinny" statement, "Bush has not said where he intends to send the rest of the Guantanamo detainees...." Since Cline's article was in a humorous vein, here's a suggestion.

Although Ft. Leavenworth has been mentioned, how about that little luxury spa run by Maricopa County Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio? I understand he has jail meals down to 40 cents a serving (bologna sandwiches) and charges inmates for them. Bon appetite! Inmates are only allowed to watch Disney channel and the Weather channel. Why the weather channel? So they'll know how hot it's going to be next day as they work on chain gangs.

Here's cruel and unusual punishment. Arpaio bought a Newt Gingrich lecture series and pipes into the jails. Some inmates reside in a tent city atmosphere, stripped down to underwear (pink boxer shorts) to combat Arizona temperatures of over a 115 deg. Asked for an explanation, Arpaio said "It's 120 deg. in Iraq and our soldiers live in tents, wear full battle gear and they didn't commit any crimes."

My guess is if you asked Sheriff Arpaio if he could accommodate the detainees, he would say, "BRING. THEM. ON."

On second thought, why mess with a good thing? Put a bunch of terrorists in there and here come the Human Rights Groups to change the system. Prayer rugs, foot baths and pork-free bologna!

I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the above statements, but having read much about this law enforcement officer who knows the meaning of incarceration, I
believe what I read. About him.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

NO SOMMERSAULTS
Re: Hal G.P. Colebatch's reply to Stuart Kohl (under "Knight Games") in Reader Mail's Moore Medicine:

In a reply to my letter published on 25 June 2007, Hal Colebatch wrote: "In normal circumstances I would agree with the thrust of this letter completely. However, my concern in this particular case is that the knighting of Rushdie will harm the British, U.S. and coalition military and political efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan where the support of the local people is of the greatest importance."

Mr. Colebatch entirely misses the point: our enemies in Iran, Afghanistan and throughout the entire Muslim world are not assuaged by our consideration of their sensitivities. Quite the opposite: they view our unwillingness to stand firm in support of our own core values as evidence that we are weak, dissolute, decadent, and in short, a dying culture incapable of defending itself. Our failure to oppose the first Iranian fatwas issued against Rushdie more than 20 years ago was a decisive moment and set the ground rules for future engagement with militant Islam. Their willingness to do what they say, and our unwillingness to push back, ceded escalation dominance in this all-important war of ideas to those who would undermine the society in whose name we fight. The refusal of the British authorities to clamp down on those who would do harm to a British subject in Britain for exercising his rights as an Englishman, say nothing of the unwillingness of Britain to enforce international standards of human rights as they applied to Rushdie and others who "offend" Islam, showed the Islamists that they could get their way simply by making threats, and that if threats alone did not suffice, they could take action with relative impunity.

As for the impact of the Rushdie knighthood on our war effort, please spare me. Most Iranians and Iraqis don't know Salman Rushdie from a goatherd, and have plenty of other reasons to oppose us or at least sit out the fight until the winner is decided. One is the very weakness that Mr. Colebatch's opposition to the Rushdie knighthood presupposes. It isn't what the British government does in London that matters, but what British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan do. The failure of the British to use force to retrieve their sailors from Iran (or, for that matter, the failure of those sailors to use force to defend themselves, even if placed in an untenable position) had a far greater effect on Muslim opinion than the Rushdie knighthood. At the very least, it knighting a mediocrity like Salman Rushdie was a useful flip of the bird to the Iranian mullahs: "Don't tell us what we can and cannot do with our own civil list, thank you very much."

Mr. Colebatch's approach reminds me much of an incident in the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864, when the Union forces under Ulysses S. Grant, newly arrived from the Western theater, were having a hard time of it from the Army of Northern Virginia. A panicky staff officer burst into Grant's headquarters and warned that General Lee was about the turn the Union flanks. Grant blew up: "I am sick to death of hearing what Bobby Lee is going to do. To listen to some of you, Lee is about to turn a double somersault and land on both our flanks and our rear at the same time. Stop worrying about what Lee is going to do, and start thinking about what we are going to do to him."

My advice to Mr. Colebatch and others who think like him is, "Stop worrying about what the Islamists are going think or do to us. Start thinking about what we are going to do to them."
-- Stuart Koehl
Falls Church, Virginia

NOW, NOW
Re: The letters from Marilyn Clement and Curtiss Calleo (under "We're Number 37") in Reader Mail's Moore Medicine:

There they go again.

I'm not sure where Ms. Clement and Mr. Calleo have been hiding the past few years. We poke fun at Michael Moore because his favored fix for U.S. healthcare is what we in the reality-based world consider to be unrealistic. Ms. Clement states, "PLEASE! Give us credit. We know what we want -- healthcare for everybody, no denials, no premiums, no co-pays and no deductibles." What? No world peace? Such a system is unworkable without rationing. Period. So go ahead and try to ration healthcare. Now you have hundreds of thousands of medical malpractice lawyers licking their chops. Do you think that Congress, which is mostly populated by lawyers will keep them at bay? Not hardly. So doctors start leaving; another job that Americans won't do. Fewer doctors mean longer wait times, a.k.a. rationing. Drug company profits get cut which causes them to tank on Wall Street and suddenly they have no capitol to develop new drugs. That means either the federal government takes over the business or we're stuck with the drugs we have. Now maybe that's not such a bad thing since these drugs are allowing us to live longer and healthier lives. Or did you think our lifestyle choices did that? Our current system proves the folly of government healthcare: people already don't pay for their healthcare and so they automatically want the Cadillac even though a Chevette may do just fine. That attitude alone ensures that government-run healthcare would be prohibitively expensive.

As for Mr. Calleo, conservatives have been touting and President Bush has put into effect medical savings accounts for certain groups of people. Combined with catastrophic illness insurance, MSAs are a winning combination. How? Not by giving people everything they want when they want it and for free, but by bringing healthcare back into the realm of all other human endeavors: you have to weigh the costs and benefits. Numerous other serious proposals by conservatives are out there as well. We're not just lobbing bombs.

Which brings us back to Mr. Moore. You have to admit that his statements Mr. Hogberg quoted were hilarious. But I do have to give him credit. I got a good laugh at his expense and I will slap him on the back for making sure single-payer insurance is DOA in 2008.
-- Andrew Macfadyen, M.D.

Based on Clement's letter to the editor, Moore is right and anyone who disagrees much less doesn't see "Sicko," is wrong. Horribly wrong.

OK, just to check out her assertions, I went to this website via a Google search on "health insurance profit." Why start there? I didn't have much choice: Clement didn't really distinguish between healthcare in general and health insurance in particular, so I did.

There is some really interesting information on this web page. For example, the page states that for 2005 (most recent available information) the U.S. "spent 16 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care. It is projected that the percentage will reach 20 percent in the next decade." Also there was this: "Health care spending accounted for 10.9 percent of the GDP in Switzerland, 10.7 percent in Germany, 9.7 percent in Canada and 9.5 percent in France, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development." I found that interesting in as much as Clement stated the U.S. is rated well below other countries by the WHO and WTO. It's interesting that the U.S. spends more as both a percentage of GDP and in real money as Canada, one of the heroes of Moore's "Sicko" film. I wonder if WHO and WTO also rate Switzerland, Germany, Canada and France below Slovenia, as Clement implies.

The quoted article does mention there are gross inefficiencies in the U.S. system, but I doubt that's only in the U.S.

I find Clement's contention that we pay more for less to be very interesting, but probably not supportable. One can find plenty of anecdotal evidence to support absolute denial of services to people in England and other countries for common services because of lack of availability. I've been denied insurance coverage in the past, but always had the opportunity to receive the service in question if I pay for it myself. But people in some countries are denied services, or denied access to modern services and/or drugs, based on a decision by the country's health care system. Perhaps she's basing her claim on the fact that the U.S. spends $2 TRILLION per year on healthcare she doesn't like.

It's naive in the extreme to demand providing healthcare with no premiums or payments by the user. If you want to abuse the system, if you want to tie it up with people going to the doctor for every silly reason available just because it's supposedly "free," than by all means make it "free." It won't be, of course. SOMEONE must pay for this. Perhaps Clement would suggest we pay for this by taxing healthcare profits? Or better yet, tax the oil companies! Make one filthy beast pay for the other! Where do these folks think these profits come from?

Clement seems to be demanding a "one size fits all" healthcare system. If you want an inefficient system, this is it. It MIGHT start out with giving what it states as "everything" to everyone, but even that can't last. If we're having "problems" giving healthcare to "everyone" now, how can it get any better, or less expensive, if "everyone" is covered? If the present system sucks, how can stressing it more make it suck any less? Or is this just another assumption that, in spite of all past evidence to the contrary, there is something special about this latest batch of reformers that THEY can fix everything?

This all seems to be another avatar of the promises to be achieved by society once socialism is forced, err, "accepted" by all. The check is in the mail. Thanks, but I've read about the promises achieved in "The Black Book of Communism." I'll pass.
-- Karl F. Auerbach
Eden, Utah

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