Paul Smith Jr has a new home for his blog: www.gazizza.net. Click to go there now!
Friday, January 27, 2006
If I had it to do over again....
Reversing Doe Would Be a Good Start at Rolling Back Roe
I'd name this blog "Super Karate Monkey Death Car"
Those of who you don't get the reference, watch more NewsRadio
OpinionJournal - Wonder Land
While polls indicate that many Americans do not want to reverse Roe v. Wade, these same polls indicate concerns with late-term abortions as well as those for reasons other than rape, incest, or a threat to the life of the mother. It would be neither radical nor presumptuous if the Roberts Court were to reverse, or substantially redefine, the definition of “health” by limiting it to direct physical threats.
Such action by the Court would not be a radical departure with the common moral sense of the American people. Rather, it would allow for greater ethical, legal, and political realism in the debate over the humanity of the unborn and the merits of state protection of those interests. It would be consistent with the better angels of our nature.
Quote of the Day
Fixes are possible. Put simply, reverse the "reforms" of 1974.
Abolish the individual limits on campaign contributions but require public disclosure on the Web. Democrats James Carville and Paul Begala recently proposed making this the basis of creating a new campaign-finance system. But beyond this lies the question of whether Democrats and Republicans want to fix Washington. Are they really separate parties, or just one entity--the Beltway Party?
I don't see how the Democrats have any practical or ideological incentive to stop the federal government's inexorable 70-year-long growth. This is what they want--more. For them, the Abramoffs of the world are reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh. By contrast, the Blunt-Boehner-Shadegg fight for the House leadership is an ideological argument over what Republicans should be amid a federal establishment that metastasized after the 1974 changes.
The failed 1974 Budget Act, which released the earmark and spending ghouls, makes clear that some workable form of presidential spending control has to be in the game. Presidential line-item veto power would require a constitutional amendment. Real rescission authority would help, but that has to pass through Congress and maybe a court challenge. Oh gosh, I almost forgot. Unlike from 1960 to 1994, the Republicans control Congress, and arguably all three branches of government. Does that matter? We'll find out this November and in 2008, when Republicans will either vote or sit.
Good article discussing how the reforms of 1974 helped create the lobbyist and special interest zoo that Washington, DC has become. Not all "reforms" are truly beneficial.
"The true test is, whether the object be of a local character, and local use; or, whether it be of general benefit to the states. If it be purely local, congress cannot constitutionally appropriate money for the object. But, if the benefit be general, it matters not, whether in point of locality it be in one state, or several; whether it be of large, or of small extent."
-- Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)
Thursday, January 26, 2006
OpinionJournal - OpinionJournal's Political Diary
Two interesting items in today's Political Diary:
More Kelo Backlash
No Supreme Court decision in recent years has angered Americans quite like last year's 5-4 ruling in Kelo v. New London has. It effectively upheld the right of government entities to take private property to benefit private concerns in the name of economic development. Polls showed over 90% of Americans disagreed with the decision.
Now the market is reacting to the near-universal outrage. BB&T, the nation's ninth largest financial holdings company, announced yesterday that it will no longer lend to commercial developers that use eminent domain to take land from private citizens. "One of the most basic rights of every citizen is to keep what they own." BB&T Chairman and CEO John Allison explained. "We won't help any entity or company that would undermine that mission and threaten the hard-earned American dream of property ownership."
The announcement will encourage property rights advocates, who last year convinced the House of Representatives to approve a bill blocking federal funds from being given to private development projects that benefit from eminent domain. The Senate has yet to vote on companion legislation, but Majority Leader Bill Frist is supportive. The Institute for Justice, the public interest law firm that argued Kelo on behalf of property owners, believes that BB&T's decision will prompt other lending firms to follow their example. "As far as we're concerned, BB&T now stands for Best Bank in Town," says Chip Mellor, the law firm's president.
Economists have long known that only a few people try to support a family on a minimum-wage salary, and that hikes in the minimum wage reduce opportunities for entry-level and unskilled workers. That's why California State Senator Tom McClintock calls the minimum wage the worst tax ever on the "disadvantaged teens of California."
Indeed, fast-food outlets and other businesses may have come up with a way of outflanking state efforts with automation. Some McDonald's franchisees are discovering they can provide better service and shorter waiting times at a lower cost by having call centers in another state take a customer's order through a speaker phone equipped with a digital camera. Thanks to specialization, call center workers are more accurate and faster in filling customer requests such as holding the pickle or the lettuce. They also are skilled at convincing customers to "order up" and spend more, thus making them cheaper overall than on-site teenage workers.
Restaurant analysts expect call center use to spread in California if the minimum wage goes up there. In neighboring Oregon, the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and automatically indexed for inflation. Not surprisingly, the McDonald's in Hermiston, Oregon, near where my sister lives, outsources its drive-through orders to a call center in North Dakota. Those workers are paid about the same but have much higher productivity.
This is the tragedy of the mininum wage. Increases in it hurt those who it's designed to help. Especially in today's high-tech society, it's easy to move jobs elsewhere is wages get too expensive. The choice isn't really how much do politicans want someone to get paid, it's really do politicans want them to have a job at all?
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Quote of the Day
Townhall.com :: Columns :: In government we trust by Walter E. Williams - Jan 25, 2006
"One of the things that drives Republicans crazy is the media's enormous double-standard in how they cover various scandals... Skeptics can go to the Web site of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, popularly known as the House ethics committee. Click on 'historical documents,' and go to a publication called 'Historical Summary of Conduct Cases in the House of Representatives'... By my count, there have been 70 different members of the House who have been investigated for serious offenses over the last 30 years, including many involving actual criminality and jail time. Of these, only 15 involved Republicans, with the remaining 55 involving Democrats" -- syndicated columnist Bruce Bartlett, author of the forthcoming book "Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy."
What lessons should we have learned from last summer's deadly and destructive hurricanes? The primary lesson is that we shouldn't have much faith in a federal bureaucracy like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). They amply demonstrated their incompetence, but what's our response? We'll give them more money and more authority. That's not smart.
Hillsdale College professor of economics Robert Murphy points to some of FEMA's stupidity in response to Hurricane Katrina, which includes "delaying firefighters two days in Atlanta hotels to receive sexual-harassment training and watch videos on the history of FEMA while people were dying in New Orleans."
By contrast, private firms like Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and Home Depot had trucks on the road immediately after the hurricane. Stores even gave away items like chain saws and boots for rescue workers, sheets and clothes for shelters, and water and ice for the public. Wal-Mart was so efficient that there was talk among some Louisiana officials of letting Wal-Mart take over FEMA's job and a suggestion that Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott run FEMA. Freeman editor Sheldon Richman says the latter suggestion misses a very important point. Wal-Mart was effective because it was not a government agency. If Mr. Scott were in charge of FEMA, he wouldn't do much better than its former director, Michael Brown. Government cannot achieve the efficiencies of a business. Trying to get government to be as efficient as business is as hopeless as trying to teach cats to bark and dogs to meow.
Democrats in Md. Try to Limit Fallout Of Gay Union Case
"Not the owner of many possessions will you be right to call happy: he more rightly deserves the name of happy who knows how to use the Gods' gifts wisely and to put up with rough poverty, and who fears dishonor more than death." —Horace
"My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions or its officeholders." —Mark Twain
"When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." —Elizabeth Cady Stanton
"Republicans promised the American people two things in 1994. First, we promised to rein in the size and scope of the federal government. Second, we promised to clean up Washington. In recent years, we have fallen short on both counts." —Rep. John Shadegg
"When you spread food out on a picnic table, you can expect ants. When you put $3 trillion on the table, you can expect special interests, lobbyists and pork-barrel politicians. As long as the federal government has so much money and power to hand out, we'll never get rid of the Abramoffs. Restrictions on lobbying deal with symptoms, not causes." —David Boaz
"[P]ro-lifers shouldn't let their discouragement over Roe v. Wade's 33-year history as settled law keep them from pursuing laws that will at least cut down on the number of abortions. It shouldn't be 'all or nothing'." —Rebecca Hagelin
"[Judge Robert] Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court was derailed so effectively that 'bork' became a verb meaning to ruthlessly savage a nominee's record in order to defeat his confirmation. And now [Sen. Ted] Kennedy complains that judicial nominations are too politicized? If chutzpah were an Olympic event, he would walk away with the gold." —Jeff Jacoby
"Tabloids are reporting that Sen. Ted Kennedy has an illegitimate 21-year-old son. Apparently, Kennedy isn't denying the report, but the kid is." —Conan O'Brien
"But don't worry, [the EU is] not escalating this thing any more than necessary. Initially, Britain is considering 'narrowly targeted sanctions such as a travel ban on Iranian leaders.' That'll show 'em: Iranian missiles may be able to leave Iranian airspace, but the deputy trade minister won't. No more trips to Paris for the spring collections or skiing in Gstaad for the A-list ayatollahs." —Mark Steyn
"The White House gave Cuba permission Friday to compete in the World Baseball Classic in San Diego. For safety's sake let's hope there's no swimming pool at the team's hotel. Any Cuban player who can swim already plays for the United States." —Argus Hamilton
"Old blowhards don't fade away, they just serve as Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee." —Human Events
Jay Leno: The government is still analyzing Osama bin Laden's latest tape. On his most recent release he called Bush a liar and said that he was just after oil. It's the usual stuff we have heard before. Like at the Golden Globes. ... On the tape, bin Laden has three demands: That we pull our troops out of Iraq, that we pull the troops out of Afghanistan, and he wants to see actual stars on "Dancing With the Stars." ... The "National Inquirer" has reported that Ted Kennedy has a 21-year-old secret love child. Is that really the most accurate term, "love child"? Isn't "drunken fling child" a bit more like it? ... Senator Kennedy wasn't available for comment on the love child—he was overseeing a hearing on ethics. ... NBC has cancelled the "West Wing." That's when you know things are bad—when even fictional Democrats aren't doing well. Can't even get elected on TV anymore.
Encyclical Letter "Deus Caritas Est"
Although many Democrats, including Simmons, said they support the rights of gays and lesbians to marry, they also said they recognize that the ruling could hurt the party during key elections this year -- the governor's office and a U.S. Senate seat are at stake.
They said the ruling could galvanize Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s conservative base, increasing Election Day turnout for him and for Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele (R), who is running for U.S. Senate.
"I don't want to see the gubernatorial election, or any other election, tangled up in this issue," said Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery).
So the Democrats, in trying to straddle the fence, are risking upsetting both sides of the political spectrum. On the one hand, those who support the true definition of marriage will be bothered by the Democrats' support of same-sex marriage. Those who support redefining it will be upset by the refusal to act now.
If the Democrats are really about anything more than gaining and holding power, they should stand on this issue before this election. Otherwise, they show they're araid to let their true values be exposed to the voters.
Words of Encouragement
The Pope's first encyclical is out. I'll hopefully have it read by the end of this weekend and comment on it next week.
Then let us no more pass judgment on one another, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
In our hyper-sensitive culture, it has become rather easy to misunderstand what Paul is talking about when he warns the Romans "never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother." Some people think that this constitutes a license to scream "You're offending me!" at any brother or sister in Christ who has some form of piety they disapprove of. But that is not what Paul means. To "cause someone to stumble" in Paul's thought is not to do something another Christian finds disagreeable but to do something another Christian finds a temptation to sin. Paul emphasizes repeatedly that we are free in Christ. As Catholics, we are, for instance, free to drink wine (within reason) and not bound by the condemnation of other Christians who regard any consumption of alcohol whatsoever as intrinsically sinful. If, therefore, a fellow believer attacks you or your faith merely because you exercise this liberty, Paul's verse is addressed to them. They must abandon passing judgment on you and you were under no obligation to regard their condemnation as "the word of the Lord". On the other hand, if your exercise of liberty constitutes a source of temptation to someone else (who is, for example, a recovering alcoholic), you are bound by the law of love to put no needless temptations in their path. For Paul then, the point is always love, not lawsuits. Take a moment today to see how you can live out the law of love.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: St. Francis de Sales
The Corner on National Review Online
Today is the Feast Day of Saint Francis de Sales, patron saint of the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, confessors, journalists, writers and the Best Damn High School Around
More information is here
. Quotes are taken from that source:
Nothing makes us so prosperous in this world as to give alms.
Let us run to Mary, and, as her little children, cast ourselves into her arms with a perfect confidence.
Oh what remorse we shall feel at the end of our lives, when we look back upon the great number of instructions and examples afforded by God and the Saints for our perfection, and so carelessly received by us! If this end were to come to you today, how would you be pleased with the life you have led this year?
We must fear God out of love, not love Him out of fear.
There are many who say to the Lord, "I give myself wholly to Thee, without any reserve," but there are few who embrace the practice of this abandonment, which consists in receiving with a certain indifference every sort of event, as it happens in conformity with Divine Providence, as well afflictions as consolations, contempt and reproaches as honor and glory.
Man is the perfection of the Universe.
The spirit is the perfection of man.
Love is the perfection of the spirit, and charity that of love.
Therefore, the love of God is the end, the perfection of the Universe.
All of us can attain to Christian virtue and holiness, no matter in what condition of life we live and no matter what our life work may be.
An action of small value performed with much love of God is far more excellent than one of a higher virtue, done with less love of God.
The virtue of patience is the one which most assures us of perfection.
To be pleased at correction and reproofs shows that one loves the virtues which are contrary to those faults for which he is corrected and reproved. And, therefore, it is a great sign of advancement in perfection.
I also believe that it is a great virtue to eat at McDonald's a lot and I am very excited about the fact that McNuggets are 6 for a $1.00 now until the 30th.
Explain why I should eat anywhere but McDonald's between now and the end of the month.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 2
ChannelCincinnati.com - News - Report: Amy Fisher Plans TV Reunion With Buttafuocos
I was kind of sick Saturday, so I stayed in that night and just watched some old Buffy episodes on DVD. Picked out my favorite scenes and rewatched them.
* Giles using a chair to practice asking Miss Calendar out
* Anything with Miss Calendar, for that matter
* Buffy fighting Angel to the death only for him to regain his soul, but late enough that she still has to run him through with the sword and send him to hell in order to save the world. (I watched that one two or three times)
* Angel visiting Spike and Druscilla after losing his soul
* Buffy destroying the Judge with a grenade launcher
* Xander telling Cordelia "Wear something trashy...er"
* Buffy walking into class and *slamming* Miss Calendar on her desk demanding information after realizing that she knew more than she was letting on
* Buffy telling Miss Calendar, "I know you feel bad about what happened and I just wanted to say... Good. Keep it up."
Great season. I always go back and forth between Season 2 and 3 as the best. Here's how I think it breaks down:Season 2
* The best episodes were better than the best of Season 3.
* Angel turning evil made for better trauma for Buffy to go through.
* You could almost picture the writers asking "What can we do to make Buffy's life hell this week?"Season 3
* Best. Villian. Ever. The Mayor was just great. His fatherliness towards Faith, his good advice to Angel and Buffy on the future of their relationship. Other than the psychopath thing, he's a decent guy. He showed genuine anguish when describing watching his wife die. Other than the fact he's a bloodthirsty killer ready to sacrifice all the residents of Sunnydale in order to become a full demon, you kind of have to like the guy.
* The episodes were of a more consistent quality. The peaks weren't as high as the peaks of Season 2, but neither were the valleys as low.
Either way, those two years have to be among the best TV ever made.
One question did occur to me while watching the end of Season 2: Buffy was able to run the innocent, soul-restored, love of her life Angel through with a sword, casting him into an unspeakable hell dimension, but at the end of Season 5, she refused to kill the morally culpable Ben in order to save all people in all dimensions from being in one big hell dimension?
Quote of the Day
More than a decade after 16-year-old Amy Fisher had a sexual relationship with a much-older car mechanic and shot his wife in the head, the onetime "Long Island Lolita" and Joey and Mary Jo Buttafuoco have agreed to appear together in a televised reunion.
"It's time to just put it behind us," Fisher, now 31, told the newspaper. "We played this all out in a public eye. It'd be interesting to let the public see the healing process at the end. They saw everything else - why not let them see the final product?"
Joey Buttafuoco, who was jailed for statutory rape following the 1992 shooting, said he planned to ask Fisher to explain her actions.
"I've been asked about a million times by Mary Jo, 'Why did Amy shoot me?' I was never able to get that answer," said Buttafuoco, now 49.
"There's going to be a lot of shocking revelations, and that's why I'm excited to sit down to do this," he said.
The latest sign the Apocalyspe is nigh.
The Prejudice Map
"The Mets and their fans definitely got the raw end of the deal, and Kris is going to do amazing in Baltimore. I am sexy and I don't shy away from that."
--Kris Benson's wife Anna Benson, on her husband Kris being traded to Baltimore from the Mets
The reason I highlight this quote is to ask: how is the last sentence related to this first?
And, honestly, she doesn't do much for me. I look at her and know I should be attracted to her, but I'm not. I think she leaves a lot to be desired from the neck up, which is important to me. (No links, I'm trying to keep this blog at least somewhat Catholic. If you're really interested, use Google. But you might not want to do it from work. I don't think she's done nudity, but certainly Maxim style pictures will be easily found.)
American Charity a Tax Cheat?
Interesting map detailing common stereotypes about different nationalities. Who would have thought that Italians were known for pasta and hand gestures? (I'm allowed to say that; my nieghbors in Little Italy have declared me an honorary Italian.)
As I'm of partly Polish ancestry, I was interested not to see anything for Poland. I wonder what stereotypes people have about Poles?
Link via Pencader Days
, who's been added to my blogroll.
In a survey by Louisiana State University researchers, state residents were asked to rate the effectiveness of hurricane-recovery organizations on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being very effective. Church relief groups got the highest mark of 8.1. Next were nonprofits, the Salvation Army, and local community organizations, at 7.5. The Red Cross scored 7.4. Governments ranked lowest with Louisiana residents, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency at 5.3, the federal government at 5.1, and state and local governments at 4.6.
The real problem with government “charity” is that government takes a “one size fits all” approach to the problem of poverty. That, really, is all a bureaucracy can do.
A paper recently criticized charities (and the charitable tax deduction) for increasing inequalities between rich and poor. The numbers quoted above show who's more effective in helping the poor.
What is your best excuse for skipping work?
The time to be active is now, and the reason is the same as it always was: those who are more willing to have babies killed must not be given the power to do so.
Notice that I phrase that in the negative. Elections are often not about getting a satisfactory person in office as much as they are about keeping a worse person out of office. Elections are exercises of power and deal in the categories of "bad" and "worse"; "good" and "better," rather than "bad" versus "perfect." If we go into elections hoping to find perfect candidates, we will constantly be disappointed. But if we go into elections determined to improve things as much as possible — recognizing the limits of what that means, but also recognizing its significance — we will be energized.
Some people may wonder what the pro-life candidates they elected have done, or may feel they have not done enough. Important progress has been made, but far more is required, and we always have to keep the pressure on those we have elected. But if you prevent someone from falling off a cliff, you have already achieved something quite significant.
This raises a point I've been meaning to make for a while. Many pro-lifers are ready to desert the Republican Party because they see the GOP as unwillingly to take any meaningful action to limit abortion. (I would disagree with this: Bush has done quite a bit as President to move the executive branch in a pro-life direction.) Those who argue this, while having a point, fail to overlook the consequences of allowing the other side into power: if the status quo is bad, their vision of abortion law is much worse. Given the choice between the current status quo, and where the Democrats would take us, I'll choose the status quo every time.
An interesting discussion on TechRepublic, an Information Technology website. My personal best excuse:
I'm not going to be in tomorrow. My kitchen cabinets fell off the wall and I need to clean up.
When I saw my boss next she told me that she knew I was telling the truth, because nobody could make that up. Fortunately, it gave me the push I needed to update my kitchen, which was badly in need of it.
"The more profoundly we study [the Bible], and the more closely we observe its divine precepts, the better citizens we will become and the higher will be our destiny as a nation." —President William McKinley
"The paramount pro-life message on Jan. 22 should of course be, 'Choose life.' But pro-choicers are right to say that our parallel message has to be, 'Abstain from sex outside marriage.' A few married couples choose death for their unborn children, but the overwhelming majority of abortions come when the father and mother are not married to each other. We can lower the abortion rate by offering compassionate help and developing laws that protect the unborn, but the front line is abstinence from extra-marital sex—and older adults need to set a good example. Evangelical pro-life efforts suffer when only 22 percent of non-Christians have a positive view of evangelicals generally. Part of the animosity can be laid at the feet of press bias, but many wounds are self-inflicted by actions that seem hypocritical. Societal reform always begins at home. Justin Martyr reported in the second century that conversion to Christ made a difference: 'Those who once delighted in fornication now embrace chastity alone.' If sexual life inside the church isn't distinctive from that outside, we have little hope of stopping abortion." —Marvin Olasky
"A short time ago, the Iraqi people had an appointed government, no popularly elected legislature, no permanent constitution, no recent experience with free national elections. In less than a year they have drafted a progressive, democratic constitution; then approved the document in a national referendum; and elected a new government under its provisions. And in each successive election in Iraq going back to January a year ago there's been less violence, broader participation, and bigger voter turnout. Iraqis have shown they value their own liberty and that they are determined to choose their own destiny." —Vice President Dick Cheney
"When you insist upon legal protection for all human life, you're simply being true to our most basic principles and convictions as Americans. We'll continue to work together with Members of the Congress to overturn the tragedy of Roe versus Wade. By your presence today, you reaffirm the self-evident truths set forth in our Declaration of Independence. Each year remarkable advances in prenatal medicine bring even more dramatic confirmation of what common sense has told us all along: that the child in the womb is simply what each of us once was, a very young, very small, dependent, and very vulnerable live member of the human family... Our nation's affirmation of the sacredness of all human life must begin with respect for our most basic civil right: the right to life." —Ronald Reagan
"Not enough money for education? It's a myth. The truth is, public schools are rolling in money. If you divide the U.S. Department of Education's figure for total spending on K-12 education by the department's count of K-12 students, it works out to about $10,000 per student. Think about that! For a class of 25 kids, that's $250,000 per classroom. This doesn't include capital costs. Couldn't you do much better than government schools with $250,000? You could hire several good teachers; I doubt you'd hire many bureaucrats. Government schools, like most monopolies, squander money. America spends more on schooling than the vast majority of countries that outscore us on the international tests. But the bureaucrats still blame school failure on lack of funds, and demand more money." —John Stossel
Today in 1996, Michael Saltarelli was named Bishop of Wilmington.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
We had a "Blogger's Night Out" this past Friday. Mike from Down With Absolutes
, Dana Garrett from Delaware Watch
, Hube from The Colossus of Rhodey
and I got together, along with Mrs. Hube, for dinner and a movie. We agreed to see "Munich" and post reviews about it on our respective blogs.
I was pleasantly surprised by the movie. I did not have high expectations, since I think Spielberg's been on a bit of downhill trend lately. (The past summers' version of War of the World was very disappointing to me, as someone who's seen, read, and listened to just about every adapation of the original novel. Even that awful TV series from the late 80s, which got especially bad after they decided to kill off the two most popular characters after the first season.)
The film takes a decidely pro-Israeli stance, but I'm not sure that speaks negatively about its objectivity. Assuming it's broader historicity is accurate (and I've heard no criticisms of the film on that front), it's pretty clear that Palestinian terrorists were at fault. They attacked a group of innocent athletes. Israel sent hitmen out after those responsible for planning the murders, who were under orders to kill only their targets and avoid innocent deaths. (The film shows the lengths they went to in order to avoid innocent deaths.) In response to the actions by the Israeli "assassins," as they themselves referred to themselves, the Palestinian terrorists attacked more innocent people.
I also thought the film did an excellent job in showing the effects that becoming an assassin had on the main character. A good person by nature, he showed the signs of becoming harder and more paranoid as the film went along. He lost the ability to sleep comfortably in a bed, fearing bombs under it. He unilaterally expanded his teams mission to take retribution after one of their members was assassinated. He became too comfortable with killing, even though the deaths were justified. (Justice doesn't take place only in a courtroom.) Ultimately, he had trouble even walking down a street in New York City, so concerned was he that someone was out to kill him for his part in the operation.
It also made me question if I could do a similar thing: kill someone who I had no doubt deserved the punishment. (I oppose the death penalty, but make exceptions for people who will do anything they can to keep killing even if in solitary confinement for life. Then it's just societal self-defense. Bin Laden is a good example of someone who I'd be comfortable executing.) Even if someone definitely deserved death and I was convinced of it to the core of my being, I'm not sure I could do it. Some people just aren't cut out for it, and I think I'm one of them.
The film dealt well with the moral issues surrounding the mission to execute those responsible for the Munich massacre. The bombmaker on the team pointed out that as Jews they should not be engaging in astions. I believe he even called it non-Jewish. I read criticism of this film beforehand that it only dealt with the Jewish point of view, but if anything, while making clear the Israelis were justified in their actions, I thought it ultimately came down against the actions of Israel. As mentioned before, the bombmaker expressed moral doubts about their actions, and by the end the leader of the team stated they should have arrested their targets and put them on trial rather than summarily executing them. He further argued that killing those men merely put even more barbarous men in their place and made 6 terrorists for every one killed. This point is further driven home by having the movie end with a view of the skyline of New York City with the World Trade Center visible.
Spielberg never states what his alternative to killing the terrorists is, though. Would the Palestinian "street" have accepted the execution of the terrorists if there had been a fair trial beforehand? Of course not. As the movie itself showed, a significant number of Palestinians will not be satisfied until the Jewish state is destroyed. (The movie doesn't deal with this issue, but Arab anti-Semitism predates the creation of Israel, so it's not Israel's mere existance that is the source of the problem.) Actions by the Israeli states provide further excuses, but are not the ultimate cause of the conflict. What does Spielberg think the victims of terrorism should do? He seems to argue that we should subject terrorists to criminal trials, but simple logic shows the folly of that. His position seems to amount to "lie back and take it and maybe they'll stop bothering you."
While capturing the human drama well, Speilberg ultimately fails in his attempt to influence the current political climate. By offering criticism of our current strategy without offering a credible alternative, he weakens the value of his criticisms.
A few nice points in conclusion:
* I enjoyed the scene detailing the "battle" over which radio station to listen to in the safe house. Everybody likes Al Green!
* The first time Eric Bana appeared in the movie, I couldn't help thinking "You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."
* It was nice to see the acknowledgment by one of the Palestinian terrorists that the Arabs use Palestinians as an excuse rather than actually caring about them.
Ultimately, it was a well-made movie as a movie but failed as a political statement. The evening itself was good. It was nice to see Mike and Dana again and finally meet Hube. Hopefully, we'll do it again some time.
Hube's review is here
. See Mike's here
. Dana's review is here