Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Steelers to release Hines Ward

This is sad - I've been dreading it since then end of the season, but my favorite Steeler, Hines Ward #86, is being released. I feel they could have done something to keep him on the team, but I guess not.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Zero Hour of Rick Santorum

It's beyond scary that Rick "Unprintable Other Definition" Santorum is actually surviving this long in the primaries. The man is the worst type of Republican. If you hear him talk about religion, he is the exact type of Christian that Jews should be afraid of, and most definitely the type of Catholic that the Protestant majority of this country hates.

For example, this case (formatted quote from WashPo):

“To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case? That makes me throw up.”

-Rick Santorum on “This Week,” February 26, 2012, in defense of remarks made in October against President Kennedy’s famous speech on Catholic identity and public policy.

A few points from this charming quote:
  1. "That makes me throw up"? Really Rick? It's bad enough that you look like a teenager, you have to speak like one? You were a Senator! Get serious enough to act like you should be given executive power
  2. Rick probably does not understand why JFK made those comments, and why Rick's repudiation is so dangerous. JFK ran for president before Vatican II. V2, in short, made Catholicism more acceptable to liberal Western democracies; making Catholicism feel a lot like Protestantism (for a correlation, see "Reform Judaism"). JFK had to explain to America how he did not intend to take marching orders from the Pope etc. Well, Rick Santorum may not listen to the pope - he strikes me as the type of sanctimonious prig who listens to nobody - but he clearly allows his religion to attack every aspect of modern civil society (see below for more). So when he says: "we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it." combined with his rejection of JFK, then he's stepped off the safe path.
There's so much crazy in Santorum that it's hard to catch up.

However, his attack on public schools did spark a thought in me. Rick, like me, is a religious family man who declines sending kids to public school out of a religious obligation. Now, I don't attack public schools - quite the opposite, really. As a grandchild of immigrants, I realize how free public schools have been the bedrock of the American Dream (no joke). Good free schools means everything for a good, safe republic.

What I find weird (in this case) about Santorum is that he chose to home-school and not send his kids to the generally well-regarded Catholic school system? As an orthodox Jew, I look at the CAtholics as the other major religion who shares my need for parochial schools. This is a case that makes me feel that Sanctimonious Rick is possibly more Catholic than the Pope (or in this case, the arch-diocese).

Another point bounces off this reaction to Santorum by the remarkably still alive Dick Cavett::
And what is the argument for it? For some, is it to protect their innocent ones from hearing words like, oh, “sex” and “contraception”? From forced association with those less desirable ethnically? Maybe it’s to keep them safe from radical notions like the idea that fossils and carbon-dating aren’t put there by the Devil to fool the scientists, but prove the world has billions, not thousands, of years on it.
Cavett notices that for Rick to not send his kids to *any* school (even Catholic school, as I add) smacks of something creepy. I agree.

There's the internal illogic about home schooling; i.e. that a parent is incapable of tweaking their child's education. I do this all the time with my kids, and they go to Maimonides. You can always educate your child at home, when they return from school, about what you should believe. If the Santorii are willing to spend the hours to home-school, they can't spare the few minutes a day to correct the wackiness that EVERY school teaches?

Ah well, we'll see what happens with the GOP. In some sense, maybe I'm glad the religious wacko is Santorum and not Huckabee. Huckabee is charming, rational sounding, and has actual moments of sane compassion. Yet also a Bible thumper who could erode the wall of church and state. Santorum is so obnoxious and horrible that I imagine he wouldn't get as far as Huckabee would.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Magnum Force

I purchased recently (for cheap!) "Magnum Force" [Wiki, IMDB, TCM] and I want to add it to the list of sequels that are better than their originals.

It's not only much more watchable (it has the awesome plane hijack scene) but the politics are better than the original. Most people didn't get Dirty Harry - most notably Pauline Kael, who I've learned since my youth to completely distrust - she was not only wrong most of the time, but disastrously so - I actually think I've lost friends because I recommended movies on her suggestion, I've definitely lost some sanity following her advice on such stinkers like "The Warriors," "Deliverance" and "The Killer Elite" - she had a tin ear for action films, and I suffered.

Kael labeled the film "fascist" but she did not understand the deconstruction of Harry in the film itself. He's meant to be an unlikable character, he's called "Dirty" because he'll do the things others are too ashamed to do. Kael's criticism could be against those who didn't understand that Harry was to be questioned not lauded, but alas she was in the benighted category herself.

In any case, the writer of Magnum Force - the cro-magnon John Milius - says explicitly that he wrote the sequel as a response to the critics. He wanted to explain what real fascism would look like. And as a result the full character of Harry comes out - instead of being a fascist response to the Miranda ruling of the early 70s, Harry was just another cowboy. Which interpretation would be more interesting? Well, the full fascist would be the Stallone characters of the 80s - really stupid expressions of a man being above the law. In Harry, as seen in Magnum Force, we have a person who believes in the Constitution, just not how it was being interpreted at that time. Fascism believes that liberty should be sacrificed for unity of the people, while the American cowboy ethic is libertarian - have as much liberty as possible. Both seem to agree that when a person violates the code, they should be killed. But libertarians believe the only things which violate the code are extreme crimes, while fascists reduce all action against the Polity as crimes.

Also, it had the best main theme - although nothing beats Lalo Schifrin's music for Dirty Harry's school bus scene.

P.S. The latter Dirty Harry films don't get put into the mix; while "Sudden Impact" was decent (it was a rehash of Magnum Force's anti-vigilantism) the "Enforcer" was absolutely ridiculous. And I can't even muster enough memory to recall "The Dead Pool."