Thursday, March 30, 2006

How Borders Ignores the Record of 9-11

People going to Borders book stores asking for the now-infamous banned Motoon issue of Free Inquiry magazine can also ask another question: "What books do you have on 9-11?"

Answer: you will find almost none. That was my conclusion after I visited a huge Borders location in New York, on 57th Street and Park Avenue. Just a few miles from Ground Zero, the store carried not a single book devoted to 9-11 in its first-floor section of New York books, "All Things Local." The ONLY fleeting reference to 9-11 was in FDNY: An Illustrated History.

I wanted to be fair to Borders, so I asked a sales associate where I could find 9-11 books.

She couldn't point me to a specific section, but she mentioned 102 Minutes by New York Times reporters Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn. She suggested I look in Modern U.S. History and the politics sections.

I spent at least 30 minutes scouring the shelves of history, politics, and even photography. Surely, I thought, a New York Borders would keep a good stock of 9-11 books, through the logic of the local angle if nothing else. But here is all I uncovered:

-- The 9-11 Investigation, on a top shelf where I could barely reach it

-- Here is New York: A Democracy in Photographs

And that's it: as far as I can tell, this store didn't carry Portraits in Grief, New York September 11, not even 9-11 by Noam Chomsky.

To check that my New York visit was no anomaly, I also visited a Borders in Stamford, Connecticut, and also asked a sales associate for 9-11 books. Again, I got steered to 102 Minutes in the Modern U.S. History. I found that, along with:

-- Tower Stories

-- Inside 9-11: What Really Happened, by German's Der Spiegel magazine

And that's it. The whole search made me feel like I had dropped into a bizarro-world bookstore, where the most fateful world-historical event of our times did not occur. A visitor to either store would find it almost impossible to learn what happened that day -- what happened to set in motion the chain of events that led to many other books that Borders is happy to carry, such as plans to impeach President Bush.

The Free Inquiry episode makes a lot of sense in this context. Borders wouldn't want to inflame anybody with pesky photos of 9-11, right?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Cherchez La Femme: The Return of Adrienne Barbeau, My Most Dangerous Woman

I've known some dangerous women in my life. They combine killer looks with personalities that threaten to chew up any man who cross them. They have hard romantic histories, burdened by bad men that leave them vulnerable and hard-shelled at the same time. Relationships with them promise passion and ferocious high-decibel drama. Dangerous women can cause men to act in strange ways, perfectly captured in the French phrase cherchez la femme.

Growing up in the 1970s, I decided, in my murky adolescent mind, that the ultimate Dangerous Woman was Adrienne Barbeau, co-star of Maude and then featured in lots of b-movies. Something about her grabbed my imagination in a way no other actress of that era did. So imagine my delight to learn she's now starring in the play, "The Property Known as Judy Garland" at New York's Actors' Playhouse. I can now buy a ticket to enjoy my dangerous woman, seen at her most deadly, below.


On Maude, Barbeau played Maude's single-mom daughter, Carol Traynor. One fan site says the character dated and went with men on "weekend business trips." I can't remember any particular episode with Barbeau, but the cumulative effect was impressive. Much later, she bobbed up in my consciousness when she gave birth to twin boys in 1997, at the age of 51.

Barbeau then fell off my radar screen until I learned about the play. Now, I'm curious, in that way you wonder how the decades have treated an individual with an image formed much earlier in your life. The press photos of Barbeau in the Garland play certainly update me, although they probably depict a time-ravaged Garland more than the natural Barbeau. What do you think?

I've moved on since I first fixated on Barbeau. I'm happy to see she's busy with a biography, There Are Worse Things I Could Do, to debut on April 10, and other projects. I'll look for the book, but first I'm going to set aside some time to watch Swamp Thing, the classic showcase of Barbeau and her substantial charms.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

News from the Near Future: Yale to Award Honorary Degree to Sirhan Sirhan

April 1, 2006: Yale University has announced it will award an honorary degree to Palestinian-American activist Sirhan Bishara Sirhan.

University president Richard Levin told a press conference, "Sirhan is an outstanding representative of the Palestinian people, a true fighter for the rights of Palestinians to live peacefully in their own homeland. Tragically, he has been a political prisoner of the U.S. government for almost 40 years, simply for acting on his beliefs. While we cannot give back to Sirhan those lost decades of his life, we can give him an honorary degree, suitable for framing."

Speaking via telephone from his home at the Federal penitentiary in Corcoran, Calif., Sirhan said, "This is a great day for the Arabs, the Palestinians, and everybody who ever donated money to Yale University. Their investment is paying off, as Yale extends the ivy branch to victims of political repression such as myself and my spiritual brother Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi." The degree will be presented at Yale's graduation ceremonies in May.

Yale decided to present the degree to Sirhan following what Levin called the "tremendous excitement" surrounding the presence of former Taliban spokesman Hashemi on campus. "Let me tell you, you can't buy publicity like this," said Levin. "Everybody's talking about Yale. I can hear the alumni whipping those checkbooks out to make a big donation. Princeton will have to enroll General Pinochet's grandson to top this move."

Levin will give Sirhan a personal tour of the Yale campus, including a stop at Skull & Bones. Hashemi will join Sirhan to symbolically slit Levin's throat in a mock execution that will highlight the "celebrating our diversity" activities of graduation week at Yale. Levin commented, "I would be honored to be executed by these two fine gentlemen, even in a symbolic manner."

Asked about other events on the big day, Sirhan said, "I'm looking forward to lunch with Jodie Foster."

Monday, March 20, 2006

Suppress Without Mercy the New Trotskyites (in HR)

An article in HR Magazine last month, "Detecting Hidden Bias," is a most intriguing read. The subhead deftly captures the story's essence: "You may not see it, but it’s probably lurking among your managers—and perhaps even in you."

The article discusses the malign menace of unseen, nigh undetectable bias in human resource departments. Despite the lawsuits, training, online courses, seminars, conferences, and sensitivity efforts, the threat remains -- more dangerous than ever:
According to analysis conducted by a Harvard University-led research team, it is entirely possible that you and your manager are biased—and that you don’t even know it.

Such hidden biases can be disastrous for the employees who suffer as a result of them; they also can damage businesses by leading managers and employees to make flawed business decisions in a number of areas, including hiring, promotion, training opportunities and project assignments. For HR, the task is clear, but daunting: Help uncover and address such bias before problems arise.

That language -- uncover and address mental tendencies that you don't even suspect in yourself -- sounds familiar. Now, what other tendency drove executives crazy and demanded ever harsher efforts to identify, expose, force confessions, and liquidate from an organization?

Then I remembered -- accusations of hiring bias are the 21st century equivalent of being called a Trotskyite in the USSR in the 1930s.

In reality, the followers of Leon Trotsky were routed from the USSR's political life quickly. They had no visibility and no political base against Stalin's terror, with Trotsky himself, the Prophet Outcast in the words of biographer Isaac Deutscher, hurled into exile and eventually assassinated in Mexico in 1940.

Still, Stalin found the accusation of Trotskyite tendencies an excellent tool for flaying his hapless allies in the 1930s. He argued that the opposition from Trotskyites and the other despised class, peasant kulaks, only sharpened as their numbers decreased and their overt hostility lessened. The threat went underground and had to be rooted out and liquidated with increasing ruthlessness. The class struggle could never end.

Consider the process of rooting out the threat of Nikolai Bukharin, a favorite of Lenin's with whom Stalin played cat and mouse for years. Here is part of the last plea of Bukharin at his 1938 show trial:
I plead guilty to being one of the leaders of this 'Bloc of Rightists and Trotskyites.' I plead guilty to the sum total of crimes committed by this counter-revolutionary organization, whether or not I knew of, whether or not I took part in, any particular act... For three months I refused to say anything. Then I began to testify. Why? Because while in prison I made a revaluation of my entire past. For you ask yourself: "If you must die, what are you dying for?"

The language eerily parallels HR Magazine: Unstated, unconscious tendencies require confessions and a "revaluation." Denial of such tendencies merely confirms their stubborn presence.

The HR Magazine article quotes results of the efforts of the Southern Poverty Law Center to extract confessions from the New Trotskyites. Nikolai Bukharin would identify with the mindset:
“Bigotry is a persistent social problem in this country, and we can’t escape being socialized in this context,” observes Jennifer Smith-Holladay, the center’s senior adviser for strategic affairs. Smith-Holladay says her own results uncovered a preference for white people—a group to which she belongs—and a preference for heterosexual people, “a group to which I don’t belong.

“I discovered that I not only have some in-group favoritism lurking in my subconscious, but also possess some internalized oppression in terms of my sexuality,” Smith-Holladay adds.

Lesson learned? “In the case of my own subconscious in-group favoritism for white people, for example, my charge is to be color-conscious, not color-blind, and to always explicitly consider how race may affect behaviors and decisions,” Smith-Holladay says.

HR Magazine asks, as did Lenin in a different context, what is to be done? Actually, HR Magazine provides its plan of action uder this headline: "Help for Rooting Out Hidden Bias."

Final note: As far as I could tell, HR Magazine did not uncover a single case of actual bias in action. The article is entirely theoretical.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A Light Unto the Nations, Still

This is an amazing story. The text is not available via a link to the Independent in the UK, so I'm placing the text here. The message is that beyond the bickering, the intermarriage, the hyper-organization and sub-organization, Judaism has a message for the world that retains enormous, if understated, appeal.


Matthias Goering says: "I used to feel cursed by my name. Now I feel blessed."

The 49-year-old physiotherapist, a descendant of Hermann Goering, Adolf Hitler's right-hand man, is wearing a Jewish skullcap, with a Star of David pendant round his neck. After being brought up to despise Jews, he has embraced their faith. And although he has yet to formally convert to Judaism, he keeps kosher dietary rules, celebrates shabbat and is learning Hebrew.

In a Jewish restaurant in Basle, Mr Goering enthuses about Israel. "It feels like home," he says. "The Israelis are so friendly." Even when they hear his name? "Yes, they say they're so thankful I've made contact."

With the same name as the former Luftwaffe chief, who committed suicide at Nuremberg hours before he was to be executed, Mr Goering says he did not have a happy childhood. His great-grandfather and Hermann's grandfather were brothers, and that was enough to ensure problems after the fall of the Third Reich. "My siblings and I were bullied mercilessly," Matthias says. His father, a military doctor, was a Soviet prisoner of war, but returned with his anti-Semitic views intact. When times were hard, Matthias says: "Our parents would say to us, 'You can't have that, because all our money's gone to the Jews.'"

Mr Goering left home at 18 to join the circus, but eventually settled down, trained as a physiotherapist, married and had a son. But by 2000 his Swiss physiotherapy practice was bankrupt and his wife had left, taking their son. Broke and lonely, he was close to suicide, and says he prayed for the first time in his life. The same day his prayer was answered: a physiotherapy practice near Zurich offered him a job.

Mr Goering started attending Christian churches, but two years later began his journey towards Judaism. He says God told him "to guard the gates of Jerusalem", despite his name and his family history. "I knew then," he says, "I had to go to Israel."

Other descendants of Nazis have trodden the same path. Katrin Himmler, who published a book last year about the war crimes of her great-uncle, the SS commander Heinrich Himmler, married an Israeli. "It was as if we were predestined to meet," she says.

Beate Niemann, daughter of feared SS Major Bruno Sattler, made an award-winning film, The Good Father, documenting her hopeless search for a man she could be proud of, and tried to apologise to camp survivors after discovering her father had ordered the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews.

Monika Goeth's father was Amon Goeth, the camp commandant played by Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List, who shot Jewish prisoners from the balcony of his villa. She has spent years seeking rapprochement with camp survivors. "I am completely drawn to Judaism," she says. "Jews were the real heroes. I feel nothing but contempt for those who idolise the Nazis."

Sunday, March 12, 2006

"The Godfather" Video Game: The Search for Consequences

March must be Mob Month: the new season of "The Sopranos" begins tonight, and Electronic Arts (EA) is releasing a video-game version of "The Godfather" on March 19.

The game sticks close to the book and movies, using the real voices of some characters. Set in New York between 1945 and 1955, the game
will offer gamers countless choices for solving the family's problems with brutal violence, skillful diplomacy, or a cunning mixture of both. From mob hits and bank heists to drive-bys and extortion, step deep inside the world of The Godfather -- where intimidation and negotiation are your tickets to the top. Players will use their powers of loyalty and fear to earn respect through interactions with characters in the world. Decisions made by the player in the game will have lasting consequences, just as it was in the mob underworld featured in The Godfather fiction.

As the father of a game-playing adolescent, the game's point makes me queasy. Let's focus on the word "consequences."

In both the Sopranos (which I just started watching on DVD, from the first season) and the Godfather book and movies, violence and power exist within a closed loop. Men get killed, women abused, fortunes made and lost, but everything happens in a sort of moral bubble where actions have no ripple effect outside the world of the criminals. All those charming Mafia activities like loansharking, prostitution, and drugs carry no moral impact beyond the tote board of respect, power, and money.

So when I read about the Godfather game, I wonder, what messages are players absorbing? You win by being the best killer and intimidator? Screen shots from the game show a policeman being thrown off roofs, assaults with baseball bats, people flung into furnaces. In the Godfather movies, Michael Corleone ultimately faces profound consequences, e.g., he leads a miserable life. Sonny's dead, he's killed Fredo, and confession does no good. What respect comes from crime? I'm still discovering on the Sopranos if Tony Soprano's therapy confessions to sexy shrink Dr. Jennifer Melfi lead to any insights (don't tell me!)

I'll grant that this is a still-unrated video game, and not every piece of entertainment need have a didactic purpose. Perhaps buried in the Godfather game are moments of doubt and fear, moral revelations. That does not make for good game play; fortunately, my son is far more into "We Love Katamari" than any violent game.

In the real world, actions DO have consequences. For a prime example, see this riveting article in New York Magazine as part of its Sopranos editorial package. "The Lost Soprano" discusses the case of Lillo Brancato, who starred in "A Bronx Tale" with Robert DeNiro and was in the second season of the Sopranos. He put more time into drugs than developing an acting career, and last December broke into a house with his ex-girlfriend's father seeking drugs. Off-duty policeman Daniel Enchautegui intervened, Brancato's companion killed the cop, and Brancato is now at Rikers charged with second-degree murder.

The article has quotes of startling moral rationalization and blankness:
Lillo feels terrible about the dead cop. “Too painful to talk about,” he says. Still, he’s not sure why it involves him. “I was in the wrong place, wrong time,” he says. Like drugs or acting, murder happened to Lillo. People misunderstand. “It kills me every day, being in here, knowing that I’m innocent,” he says. “I’m not a person who should be here. I am a good person.”

In the real world, Brancato is looking at consequences for his actions far different from what is found in the Godfather game and the Sopranos. At some point, the realization will kick in. Put that in a video game.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

PARODY: MTV's "Spring Break Gitmo" Names Cindy Sheehan as Guest Bachelorette

MTV's smash new show, "Spring Break Gitmo," will feature Cindy Sheehan as its first bachelorette in its "Terrorist Dating Game" segment. In the first episode, three terrorist-bachelors will battle one another to win the affections of Cindy, along with valuable prizes.

Ashton Kutcher and Courtney Love host the program direct from balmy, palmy, party-down Guantanamo Bay. Each week the show will feature a sexy celebrity bachelorette. Here's the premise: After qualifying rounds, three contestants will compete in several events that measure their courage and stamina. For Sheehan's segment, the wacky challenges include:

-- Wearing Cindy's panties on their heads

-- Spending 24 hours straight logged on to Daily Kos and Democratic Underground

-- Playing the Roy Cohn role in humorous skits written by Tony Kusher

The highlight of the segment -- filmed before a boisturous crowd of detainees and drunken college students -- comes when Cindy lobs hilarious questions at the three contestants, who are kept hidden from her by an on-stage screen.

The multiple-choice questions, meant to give Cindy insights into the personalities of three intriguing young, virile, woman-deprived men, include:

1. "If we had a three-way, we would be joined by: a. Reese Witherspoon b. Rep. Cynthia McKinney c. Khalid Sheik Mohammed d. this saucy blonde beauty."

2. "If former attorney general John Ashcroft suddenly appeared on stage, would you: a. kill him b. prefer Janet Reno c. thank him for providing food, medical care, and housing at Camp Gitmo that exceeds your wildest fantasies." (Note: MTV arranged for Ashcroft to make a surprise guest appearance at the show. Watch the fur fly when he presents the contestants with copies of the New Testament!)

3. "Complete this sentence: There's nothing I like more during a romantic evening than cuddling in front of a crackling fire and roasting: a. marshmallows b. kosher weenies c. Danish cartoonists."

Based on their responses, Cindy will choose one bachelor for a wild weekend at a secluded beach section of Camp Gitmo. The winner will also be sponsored for a green card by Sen. John Kerry and enjoy automatic admission to Yale University through its Terrorist Diversity Initiative.

In next week's episode of "Spring Break Gitmo," bachelorettes Susan Sarandon and Janeane Garafalo take on five lucky terrorists in the "Gitmo Gang Bang Mosh Pit."

Monday, March 06, 2006

HUMOR: H'wood Homophobes Nix Dix Pix; Chix-Lix Flix Clix?

America reeled last night as the hidden homophobes of Hollywood denied "Brokeback Mountain" its rightful Oscar for Best Picture, instead giving the precious little statuette to "Crash," some movie about race relations in Los Angeles with a title that sounds more like a "Super Mario" racing game.

While Ang Lee got the Oscar for best director and somebody named Gustavo Santaolalla won an Oscar for best score for Brokeback Mountain, the film's supporters expressed outrage at the revenge of the heterosexists.

"The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences could have sent a very powerful message about the acceptance of gay cowpokes," asserted one observer. "Instead, the academy honored a picture about different ethnic groups getting on one another's nerves."

Director Lee, however, plans to leverage his Brokeback success into related projects. He's now developing a splashy musical comedy about gay mullahs in the Middle East, with the working title, "Naughty Bawdy Gaudy Saudi Second Street."

(Note: Photo below is from "Bandidas," a movie discussed in the rest of this entry. This is a blatant attempt to entice readers to keep reading. Bandidas has a thematic relation to Brokeback Mountain.)


Police units nationwide stood on guard Sunday night into Monday morning in anticipation of rioting groups of Brokeback Mountain supporters. Dawn broke over a troubled America as tension filled the streets from West Hollywood to Tulsa to Presque Isle, Maine. A SWAT squad in Falfurrias, Texas swung into action when it heard a loud noise, but that turned out to be a truck backfiring.

Larry McMurtry, co-writer of Brokeback's screenplay, denounced the decision as an indication of remitting bias against simple plain folks who don't live in big cities. Yes, he really said something like that.

Some astute observers saw this coming from a long way off. Back in December the writer of the "Strong Opinions" blog had this to say:
I’m going to stick my neck out and predict that BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN will not win the Oscar for Best Picture, although it will receive several nominations and probably win a couple. I hate to call the Academy prejudiced, but I think they will pick a more conservative film, like MUNICH, and there will be a loud protest that BROKEBACK lost because it was too gay.

The only way the academy can redeem itself is to give Best-Picture Oscar next year to "Bandidas," a pathbreaking Western starring Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek spiced with rumors of lesbian activity between the stars. Observers already spot a groundswell of enthusiastic support for Bandidas among a broad spectrum of a key demographic: straight males aged 12 to 95. The reliable sources at The Jawa Report call it "the kind of gay cowboy film men will be flocking to see."

Mullah's Version of "Get Up, I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine"

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, performed the classic version of the song "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine," with the powerfully poetic lyrics
Fellas, I'm ready to get up and do my thing
I wanta get into it, man, you know...
Like a, like a sex machine, man,
Movin'... doin' it, you know
Can I count it off? (Go ahead)

But James Brown had better watch his back, 'cause this unidentified mullah looks likes he's ready to throw down and challenge for the crown of the New Godfather of Funky Moves. Check it out, oh kafirs.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

I Love It When Psychiatrists Talk Dirty

Dr. Sanity puts a certain Venezuelan strongman on the couch for gentle probing under the headine: "Chavez: A Case of Castration Anxiety?" She writes,
It is striking, though, how Chavez perfectly embodies some of Freud's early concepts relating to paranoia and castration anxiety. He would make a good case discussion.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Katrina and Free Speech: Making the Connection

I just found this riveting counter-conventional wisdom discussion of the Katrina rescue efforts by Lou Dolinar. It illustrates what I call the "Flight 93" approach to problem-solving: Get off your tuchus and act, don't sit around waiting for some distant group to rescue you. As the story shows, this applies to members of the government themselves, who acted well on their own initiative. Dolinar writes:
Largely ignored by the agenda-driven national media, one of the largest rescue operations in history saved more than 50,000 people by boat and helicopter. In this Dunkirk on the Mississippi, Coast Guard and other military units, volunteers, and state and local first responders delivered thousands from death by drowning, dehydration, heatstroke, fire, starvation, and disease. The three goats of Katrina — FEMA’s Michael Brown, Gov. Kathleen Blanco, and Mayor Nagin — had little if any role; in fact, because local communication was wiped out by the storm, they may not even have known about the scale and success of the rescue operation.

I thought about Dolinar's article in light of yesterday's pro-free speech rally in New York. About 100 people showed up in a city full of supposed free-speech enthusiasts. Islamists can draw hundreds or more for their events, along with mainstream media eagerly waiting for the wild men to go berserk and threaten slaughter (and they always put on a bloody good show for the thrill-seeking media).

I felt sad, but not surprised, that New York couldn't draw more people. That's the nature of public protest in New York. A quarter-million showed up for the August 2004 anti-war rally in New York; maybe 250 lent support to a Darfur rally in New York just two weeks later.

Numbers count, but so do devotion, consistency, and determination to act in the face of overwhelming indifference. One boat, one voice, one call of "let's roll:" let enough individuals find one another -- as we did yesterday -- and resolve for a common purpose, and the results will follow.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Speaking Out for Free Speech in New York

About 100 stalwart supporters of Denmark and free speech gathered at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York today. Blasting the total lack of interest from mainstream media in an event in a city integral to the Terrorist War, the demonstrators drew approving honks from truck drivers and others on 2nd Avenue. The photos below give a flavor of the event.



One highlight of the event involved moving comments from Lisa Ramaci-Vincent, widow of murdered journalist Steve Vincent. "I came to warn you first-hand of the dangers of Islamic extremism," she said. Ramaci-Vincent is shown below.


In keeping with the country in the spotlight, the event featured some strong expressions of solidarity with Denmark and its culture of cheese and Vikings:



UPDATE: Mary's report contrasts our demo with the anti-cartoon Muslim demo from two weeks ago.

One of the many Protest Babes, Pamela of Atlas Shrugs, takes video that appeared on the Internet.


Excuse me, where might I find the Danish soccer fans?


Ah, here are the Danish soccer fans. Danke.


The contrast is obvious.


The language of the Vikings on the streets of New York.


It ain't kosher, but it ain't bad (caption inspired by the great Merle Haggard song of almost the same title)


Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Good, the Bad, and the Offensive: Ideas for Placards at a Pro-Danish Demonstration

I'll be attending a pro-Danish demonstration at UN Plaza tomorrow from 12 noon to 1 pm in New York, outside the Danish consulate. I hope to take lots of great photos of people -- thousands of people, I hope -- raising their voices in defense of Western values.

I've done my part by suggesting text for placards that my fellow Sons and Daughters of Liberty can wave around and, in need be, shove into the snouts of counter-demonstrators. Here you go:

What part of "freedom of the press" do you not understand?

1st Amendment + 2nd Amendment = Victory over Terrorists

Live Free or Die: Good for New Hampshire, Good for America

The Little Mermaid Does NOT Wear a Burkha! (great Photoshop possibility)

A Danish a day keeps Sharia away

Kufirs for Freedom

Hands off the Vikings

We're a Christian nation, but we won't turn the other cheek

The 7th century does not come after the 21st century

Free speech > Religious intolerance

Free speech rulez, repression droolz

Freedom is just another word for everything to lose

Oink if you love freedom (Photoshop alert!)

Calling Martin Luther -- Islam needs you!

Where's Martin Luther when Islam needs him?

Freedom: Where no Islamist has gone before

Get your paws off the Little Mermaid, you damned dirty jihadist! (very mean reference to Planet of the Apes)

Sharia? We don't need your stinkin' Sharia!

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

Scarlett O'Hara to the West: "As God is my witness they're not going to lick me."

"And gentlemen now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us." Shakespeare, Henry V (adapted)

50 United States Always Trump 72 Raisins

All along the watchtower, we're defending the West's freedoms

Proud Member of the Dar al-Harb (Arabic for "House of War," those outside Islam)

I (heart) the Dar al-Harb

Proud to be a Zionist

Hands off the First Amendment (show Uncle Sam about to chop off a devilish hand reaching for a parchment document)

Here are several from "The Lord of the Rings:"

Gimli on Terrorists: They have no honor in life. They have none now in death.

Aragorn to the West: Hold your ground, hold your ground. Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers. I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day. This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you *stand, Men of the West!* (Choose whatever phrase you like)

Galdalf to the West: There is a task now to be done. Another opportunity for one of the Shirefolk to prove their great worth. You must not fail me.

Gandalf to Islamists: Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.

Car Stories

[For an open-mic performance of this essay, follow this link .] My name is Van. I’m named after a car, the 1950s British racecar called ...