This week's quote comes from the comments string under a Fox News story about Herman Cain. Jon Marsh says:
This week's quote comes from the comments string under a Fox News story about Herman Cain. Jon Marsh says:
I just saw this on FreeOurFreeMarkets.org. Now this is my kind of flash mob:
I love the way everyone in the food court remains captivated for the entire piece (and even remembered to stand up!). When I was in high school our chorus learned the Hallelujah Chorus and sang it every year at various tree-lightings and local ceremonies around town. I can still sing large sections of the 2nd Alto part off by heart 30 years later.
Many communities sponsor volunteer choruses that sing the Hallelujah Chorus during the holiday season. If you can carry a tune you and your community offers such a chorus, you should sign up.
Because the Hallelujah Chorus rocks, dude. Trust me.
It was Little Horse; the boy who wouldn't go on the raid against the Pawnee. He had become a "heemanee" for which there ain't no English word.
And he was a good one, too. The Human Beings thought a lot of him.
Little Big Man (Calder Willingham, screenplay)
(Image Credit: english-e-corner.com)
Black Friday was the 19th anniversary of the release of The Crying Game. In the pre-social media quiet of 1992, The Crying Game simultaneously became the film everyone was talking about (to each other and in person, no less) while concealing it's biggest secret.
When the film opens, Fergus (Stephen Rea) is part of an IRA terrorist cell that has just captured Jody (Forest Whitaker), an English soldier. When Fergus- the newest member of the cell- is told to stand guard over the prisoner, Jody senses his inexperience and tries to manipulate him, appealing to his sense of empathy. Jody shows him a picture of his girlfriend back in England and asks Fergus to look her up after he is executed.
When the IRA plot ends in disaster, Fergus flees to England and tracks down Dil. He discovers that the dead soldier's lover is an alluring, glamorous creature who works as a hairdresser by day and as a chanteuse in a local bar at night. Despite his guilt over Jody's death- or because of it?- Fergus finds himself drawn to Dil. The boy-meets-girl narrative proceeds apace to the moment of consummation, when...
...Fergus discovers Dil (Jaye Davidson)is actually male.
Fergus promptly flees the bedroom and vomits into the sink. But oddly, this is the beginning of the real love story- a story handled far more tenderly in 1992 than it has been since.
Since 1992 transsexual characters, cross-dressing and drag queens have become staples of pop culture. By 1996 RuPaul had published an autobiography and was hosting his own TV chat show. 1997's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil featured The Lady Chablis (Chablis Deveau), who flounced through the film talking about "my T." More recently, Chaz Bono appeared on Dancing with the Stars.
Yet all this in-your-face transsexuality has mostly produced cliches, not characters. Straights have become comfortable with the flamboyant, over-the-top stereotype of the Drag Queen- without ever being introduced to an actual transsexual person.
This is where The Crying Game succeeds brilliantly. Jaye Davidson's portrayal of Dil is three-dimensional, fully human. Dil is broken, yes, and neurotic and needy. But she is also funny, intelligent and vulnerable. She is a distinct individual. Fergus is not homosexual and so must reject her physically, but we feel his regret. In fact, we share it- they would have made such a nice couple.
The depth of Davidson's performance is amplified by Stephen Rea's rueful, tender portrayal of Fergus. When his IRA cellmates follow him to England and threaten Dil ("the wee black chick," as one mistakenly calls her) Fergus is driven to protect her even while rejecting her romantic advances. The result is a kind of gender-bending Romeo and Juliet, with a thoroughly modern sense of tragedy and nobility. Dil underscores the starcrossed comparison with a final act of vengeance as if to say, "A pox on both our houses!"
The Crying Game is about the confusing and ferocious needs we hide from ourselves under wigs and makeup. It's about flawed human beings who won't be hidden under paint.
Gov. John Kitzhaber announced today he will not allow the execution of Gary Haugen -- or any death row inmate -- to take place while he is in office.
(Interestingly, Haugen has been represented by Mr. Steve Gorham. Regular readers of Deafening Silence will remember Mr. Gorham from the Woodburn Bombing trial, when he acted as defense lawyer for Joshua Turnidge.)
Kitzhaber said his decision is not out of compassion for Haugen or other inmates. But the death penalty is not handed down fairly -- some inmates on death row have committed similar crimes as those who are serving life sentences, he said. It is a criticism Haugen himself has often made and cites as a reason that he has volunteered to die, protesting the unfairness of the death penalty.
In addition, Oregon only executes those who volunteer, Kitzhaber said.
The decision cancels the Dec. 6 execution of Gary Haugen, convicted of the 2004 stabbing and beating of a fellow inmate in prison, where Haugen was already serving a life sentence for the aggravated murder of his ex-girlfriend's mother, Mary Archer.
Kitzhaber said he decided not to commute Haugen's sentence to life in prison, nor that of other death row inmates, because he believed the decision was not his alone to make. He said his action Tuesday was intended to "bring about a long-overdue re-evaluation of our current policy." During a debate that he hopes will occur in 2013, he said, he will advocate replacing the death penalty with life in prison without possibility of parole.
Relatives of victims expressed distress over his decision.
There are currently 37 inmates on Death Row in Oregon. Among them are Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, convicted of the 2008 Woodburn bombing that killed Senior Trooper William Hakim and Woodburn Police Captain Thomas Tennant. Woodburn Police Chief Scott Russell was badly maimed by the bombing.
I have not yet read any comments from Woodburn residents on the Governor's decision. I wonder if anyone will bother to ask them? I do know from previous remarks to the press that Chief Russell, who survived the blast, felt spiritually obligated to forgive the Turnidges (from KATU.com):
“I have forgiven them,” he said. “I have to forgive them. It’s a matter of my personal belief that hatred will eat you up. And so that’s my choice and my family's choice.”
However, interviewed by KGW.com shortly after the trial, Chief Russell expressed some support for the final sentencing:
"We are gratified that the criminal justice system in which we serve works," Woodburn Police Chief Scott Russell said. "The murder of a police officer should be recognized for what it truly is, an attack on every one of our citizens, because when we wear the badge we represent them all."
"These verdicts and sentences do not bring our brothers back, but we are relieved to have the trial behind us. Our staff continues to honor Captain Tom Tennant’s & Trooper Bill Hakim’s memories by serving our community with courage and pride, and we will never forget their service and sacrifice."
Here are some man-on-street quotes from Woodburn residents at the time of the trial(from KGW.com):
“I think that's good, they deserve it,” said Woodburn resident Gerado Contreras.
“I think it was a good answer, the right thing,” said Kelly Howard, another Woodburn resident.
It is likely that people living in Woodburn have a mix of views on the Governor's action. Coverage of the bombing and the trial showed them to be, by and large, good-hearted, nonvicious people. But the timing of this announcement- so close to the anniversary of the bombing- can only revive horrific memories for the little town that struggled so heroically to put the trauma behind them.
I'm sorry to see that happen.
This link will take you to a collection of articles on Oregon's death penalty by the StatesmanJournal staff. At the bottom of the page at this link is a chronological history of Oregon's death penalty.
Good Lord, people, get up off your knees and get over yourselves.
If the allegations in the Grand Jury report prove to be correct, Jerry Sandusky and Warren Jeffs have a lot in common. Let's look at some possible similarities:
Both Jeffs and Sandusky wielded great power in large, influential organizations
Jeffs styled himself as the Prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints, a religious cult with at least 10,000 members. The faithful under his sway lived in numerous communities scattered throughout the desert southwest and in British Columbia. Jeffs was the supreme arbiter of their faith and the ulitimate authority figure controlling their daily lives.
Sandusky had been an assistant coach in the Penn State football program. The Nittany Lions had a fanatical following among students and graduates. The football program was itself a powerful fiefdom within the 25-campus university system, with dozens of employees and thousands of loyal fans. In addition to his coaching career, Sandusky founded The Second Mile, a charity devoted to helping underprivileged youth. His work with Second Mile gave Sandusky a saintly reputation, reinforced by adoring press coverage of the Penn State Nittany Lions.
A Tightly-Knit Group of Adult Enablers Shielded Jeffs and Sandusky from Molestation Charges
Jeffs had many lieutenants charged with enforcing his will in the FLDs. The police force at the Hildale/Colorado City enclave was exclusively composed of FLDs devotees who pledged obedience to Jeffs and the church, not state and local law. They initimidated rebellious members and often rounded up girls who tried to escape. They intimidated non-FLDs visitors as well, following them in trucks with tinted windows and sometimes taking pictures.
When Jeffs fled molestation charges in 2005, FLDs members supplied him with clothes, disguises and cash. They refused to cooperate state and federal authorities and helped him sneak from safehouse to safehouse. When Jeffs was captured and put on trial in 2007, state and federal investigators gave the court a list of FLDs "muscle" that they feared might harm the judge, jurors or witnesses.
It appears that Sandusky also enjoyed the protection of a special police force. As early as 1998 the Penn State University Police were alerted that Sandusky might have sexually abused a boy, but if the Grand Jury report is correct, that allegation was never permitted to leave campus. Instead, the Penn State Police produced a lengthy report of their own. Apparently that report sat unnoticed, because when Gary Schultz- who oversaw the University Police- appeared before the Grand Jury, he didn't know anything about it. And when Schultz was told of a second molestation incident in 2002, he didn't bother to report the incident to anyone, according to the Grand Jury.
Instead, Schultz, University President Spanier and Penn State Athletic director Tim Curley seemed determined to handle all the allegations "in house." According to the Grand Jury report, no alleged victims or witnesses ever spoke to any police unit, on-campus or off. Instead, the allegations were passed on to the director of The Second Mile, at which point (if the Grand Jury report is correct) all interested parties agreed to take away Sandusky's gym keys and tell him not to bring boys on campus anymore. No formal investigation, no public charges.
Just a quiet little chat among gentlemen.
(And it should be noted that for many years, Penn State and The Second Mile shared the same general counsel: Wendell Courtney.)
Both Sandusky and Jeffs Were Public Employees Who Allegedly Committed Molestation Using Publicly-Funded Facilities
It can be argued that Warren Jeffs was a public employee. Jeffs' lifestyle was financed in part by tithes extracted from the faithful. In addition, for decades all the land and housing held by the FLDs was held in a public, communal trust. Jeffs was repeatedly accused of embezzling from this trust, which was effectively public money.
The great white temple at the Yearning for Zion Ranch was constructed by the people of the FLDs on land held in common. It was also designed with special beds for "heavenly sessions," where Jeffs (and other men) could commit child rape. Here's a picture:
(Image Credit: TheDaily.com)
So it might be argued that Jeffs was a public employee using publicly-funded facilities to commit crimes.
Similarly, Sandusky-first as a state employee and then a state retiree- allegedly used the showers at the Lasch Building on the Penn State campus for many of the supposed molestations. Penn State is a public university financed by taxpayers.
(Image Credit: campusmaps.psu.edu)
(In addition, both the temple and the Lasch building were considered places of honor by the faithful.)
Both Jeffs and Sandusky Knew That Their Behavior Was Unacceptable
"If the world knew what I was doing, they would hang me from the highest tree," Warren Jeffs wrote in his private notes. Although Jeffs considered child rape a sacrament, he realized that those outside the FLDs considered it a crime.
Experts often explain how pedophiles "groom" their victims to ensure compliance. Jeffs enjoyed the distinct advantage of an entire groomed community- so groomed that the father of a 12-year-old girl would simply smile and say, "I am willing," when he was informed that Jeffs intended to have sex with her.
The parents in Sandusky's community were less cooperative, according to reports. One mother reported her suspicions to a local school. Another mother confronted him face-to-face, allegedly prompting Sandusky to say "I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won't get it from you. I wish I were dead."
Sandusky may have expressed remorse while Jeffs expressed defiance, but it appears neither man changed his behavior. The assaults and alleged assaults simply continued until they could no longer be hidden or excused. The careers of both prophet and retired coach ended the same way- with wrists locked in handcuffs, ushered into the back of a police car.
Grooming Children for Sexual Molestation- Gregory M. Weber
The Penn State Child Abuse Scandal: a Guide and Timeline- Bill Chapell/NPR
Warren Jeffs Found Guilty of Child Bride Rapes-Nate Carlisle and Lindsay Whitehurst/Salt Lake Tribune
Colorado City Still FLDS Stronghold- Dennis Wagner/azcentral.com
Polygamy Cult's Civil War- Carol McKinley/Daily Beast
Beware of FLDS Enforcers, Texas Told- Leigh Dethman/Deseret News
Polygamist Leader Warren Jeffs Gets Life in Prison- Douglas Stanglin/USAToday
Every era produces its own cultural icons- books, music or films that capture and explain the essence of an important moment in history. Great Depression 1.0 had The Grapes of Wrath and It's a Wonderful Life.
Great Depression 2.0 has Margin Call.
Margin Call, written and directed by J.C. Chandor, depicts the 24-hour period leading to the crash of a major (if fictional) investment bank. It's a world that Mr. Chandor knows well; his father was an investment banker with Merrill Lynch for over 30 years. Mr. Chandor also updated and expanded his knowledge with extensive research, interviewing traders and bankers. He then gathered an all-star cast including such legends as Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Irons.
Margin Call should be an important film, an icon of this era. Instead it's being ignored.
Perhaps this can be explained by its small budget. Margin Call cost just over 3 million dollars and was released to only 56 screens nationwide.
Not one cent was wasted.
In other hands an all-star cast including such luminaries as Zachary Quinto, Stanley Tucci and Demi Moore could have degenerated into an ego fest, with each actor vying to chew more scenery and scream more lines. But Mr. Chandor has molded this group into a first-rate ensemble with each fully-realized character playing off the others in service to the story. The result is a string of solid performances, including a surprising turn by Demi Moore that may be the first time I was ever forced to take her seriously as an actress.
The story centers on the Risk Management department of a large investment bank just before the 2008 crash. A wave of layoffs is sweeping the department. Just before he is literally forced out the door, manager Eric Dale hands a flash drive to Peter Sullivan with the words "Be careful." When Sullivan examines the file he discovers that the bank has been overleveraged for weeks and is about to crash- in fact, the outstanding debt on its books its greater than the value of the entire bank. Frantic, Sullivan contacts his superiors and tries to explain the danger. As the evening fades into night and then into the wee hours of the next day, the entire chain of command gathers at the bank for an emergency meeting.
What sounds dull on paper becomes a tense and engaging thriller onscreen as this collection of clashing values and personalities struggles with the situation. There's Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey), a decades-long employee embittered by the high-stakes, high-voltage culture that has taken over the bank; Seth Bregman (Penn Badgley), a young employee seduced by the glamour of high-powered banking and transfixed by the money to be made; Jared Cohen (Simon Baker), the "boy wonder" promoted over Sam Roger's head who has recklessly led the bank to ruin; and Will Emerson (Paul Bettany), the stock salesman who would like to be ethical but who likes the money he can make even more.
Given today's political climate, I half expected Margin Call to be a self-righteous rant against the evils of Big Banks. It's not. Instead, each character gets the opportunity to explain his or her moral perspective on the situation- and each character has a legitimate point. The problem is that all the points clash. The viewer is left sifting through shards of cynicism, sentimentality, ambition and pragmatism, trying to piece together a coherent moral universe.
By comparison Glengarry Glen Ross and Wall Street, with their boo-hiss villains and sob-story heroes, are comic books.
Margin Call is an honest attempt to tell one of the important stories of our era. I'm sorry to see it receive so little notice. Forty years from now, when we try to explain Great Depression 2.0 to our grandchildren, we might wonder how we missed it.
A longstanding Jewish bakery has just been purchased by 2 Muslim men- who love the food and plan to keep it kosher. From MSNBC:
One of New York City’s oldest Jewish bakeries has been rescued from closure by an unlikely source: a pair of Muslim cab drivers who promise to keep it kosher.
Peerzada Shah and Zafaryab Ali recently took ownership of the Coney Island Bialys and Bagels, a landmark fixture anchored at 2350 Coney Island Avenue for 91 years.
The bakery was founded in 1920 but after the original owner retired, various circumstances combined to force his grandson to close the business. One of the Muslim buyers, Mr. Ali, had once worked at the bakery, and when he heard that it was closing, he in turn phoned Mr. Shah. Mr. Shah had attended a culinary arts school in Manhattan, and agreed to go in on the deal with Mr. Ali.
Ali said he and his partner vow to use the same recipes and shop's kosher-certified equipment. They'll also serve the shop's popular kosher menu.
(Keeping kosher, btw, is a complex undertaking. It's not just a matter of using the same recipes. These two have signed up for quite an assignment.)
"We all worked together for many, many years and the bakery owner is a very, very good man," Ali said. "We want to make this business as the same, a good business."
Now that's how our country is supposed to be, folks.
More like this, please!
...is November 5th.
It remains to be seen whether the many 'likes' generated by Facebook will result in actual people closing actual accounts at big banks. This article from PRNewswire discusses a recent poll of bank customers:
Big Banks may be vulnerable to losing customers to credit unions on November 5th, Bank Transfer Day, where according to social media, tens of thousands have signed up to drop Big Banks in favor of joining a credit union. While credit unions enjoy best in class customer retention rates (87% Extremely/Very Likely to Continue), the nation's largest banks fail to engender the same degrees of loyalty from their customers. For example, only two in five of Bank of America's customers are extremely or very likely to continue (40%), as are less than half of JP Morgan Chase's customers (46%) and just over half of Wells Fargo/Wachovia's customers (54%).
Most of the attention so far has been focused on credit unions, but small community banks (which offer FDIC) are another viable option. I personally transferred to a community bank after discovering that my previous bank had been rumored to be overexposed to toxic assets in 2008 and had pulled some shenanigans with its employees' retirement portfolios as well. This suggested to me that the bank was poorly managed and possibly unstable.
I was already acquainted with the community bank and spent time studying what it had to offer before making my decision. I even got my feet wet a month or two before by purchasing some CDs there. I was pleased with their service and felt comfortable working with them.
My advice to anyone deciding to participate in Bank Transfer Day: look before you leap. Don't act on impulse; make a smart decision that's right for you personally. And be prepared for some head games from your old bank. I was bullied and browbeaten by a bank manager for nearly 40 minutes before I was finally permitted to leave with my money. Don't expect them to make it easy for you.
"The Constitution guarantees protections to property, and we must make that promise good. But it does not give the right of suffrage to any corporation. The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man's making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they themselves have brought into being." [my emphasis]
Theodore Roosevelt, 1910
The good people of this nation would never elect such a typical extremist, union-loving, commie Democrap...oh, wait-