Tomorrow, Thursday, I'll be keeping my weekly date with Hugh Hewitt, live coast to coast at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific. Not sure what Hugh's got in mind for our chat, but it's always a rollicking romp through the news of the day.
~I was sorry to hear that Paul Mazursky had died. He was a peerless screenwriter and director who for a couple of decades had an enviable knack of getting to interesting points on the cultural map just before everybody else did. Lots of people are credited with that - "surfing the zeitgeist", as they say - but he really did surf it and hit the wave at just the right moment. I met him once, long ago, at a party in London, but I just burbled away about how good Bob And Carol And Ted And Alice and An Unmarried Woman were. I saw the latter not so long ago for the first time in years, and was impressed to find it was, in fact, better than I'd burbled about it to Mazursky all those years ago. He gave the great Jill Clayburgh the role of her career, and she's marvelous in it - look at the spacey half-there-half-not trance-like state she falls into when her husband breaks the news that he wants out. But the minor parts are good, too: Michael Murphy's childlike sobbing as he tells her that he wants out and that the life they've built together is just a big downer to him. Mazursky's writing and direction of that early scene is a brilliantly poised blend of the routine of the day and the city and middle-class life, and simultaneously a solid, known landscape cracking apart and opening up to a bottomless pit. The picture is true and funny and suffused with regret all at the same time.
Paul Mazursky was middle-aged and still cool when I met him, and Down And Out In Beverly Hills had been a pretty big hit, and I thought he'd carry on making films like that for another quarter-century. It was not to be. But Hollywood is the poorer for it.
~Speaking of American Jews, in the wake of the murder by Hamas of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel, Ben Shapiro has written a withering piece on "the Jew-hating Obama Administration". Whether or not they're Jew-haters, they're certainly very quiet:
President Barack Obama said nothing about them publicly. His wife issued no hashtags. His State Department maintained that $400 million in American taxpayer cash would continue to the Palestinian unity government, which includes Hamas.
Presumably Frenkel did not look enough like Barack Obama's imaginary son for him to give a damn. Or perhaps Frenkel hadn't deserted his duty in the American military, and therefore his parents didn't deserve a White House press conference. Maybe Michelle Obama was too busy worrying about children's fat thighs to spend a moment tweeting out a selfie to raise awareness.
Naftali Frenkel was a US citizen. That's to say, he was entitled to the protection of Obama and his worthless State Department. In geopolitical terms, the problem is not Mr Frenkel's murderers: every society has its share of blood-lusting savages. The problem is that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians exult in Mr Frenkel's murder.
Palestinian "nationalism" is a euphemism for a death-cult whose pathologies seep into almost every routine daily transaction: The last time I was there, a few years ago, the affable proprietors at almost every convenience store had various local Martyrs of the Week pinned up on the wall behind the cash register, and the Education Ministry was giving first prize in its letter-writing competition to a seventh-grader from Jenin pledging to his deceased father to become a suicide bomber and "propel my living-dead body into your arms". Their own corpses are historic victories, and Jewish corpses are the spoils thereof. There is no evidence of "nation-building", nor any appetite therefor. Invited to choose between nation-building and Jew-killing, they plump for the latter, every time.
Obama did not create this sickness, but he is rewarding it. If you can kill Jews and US citizens without the Great Satan putting a stop on the nine-figure check, then you've got the best of both worlds.
~To be marginally more generous to the Administration than Mr Shapiro is, Obama and his State Department abandon all kinds of people. Meriam Ibrahim, the wife and mother of US citizens but convicted and sentenced to hang in Sudan, says that, because she was forced to give birth in leg shackles in Omdurman Prison, her newborn baby is disabled. Obama didn't lift a finger for her, either: She's not a Jew in Israel, but a Christian in Sudan. Last year I wrote:
It was a busy weekend for Nothing to Do with Islam. Among the other events that were nothing to do with Islam were the murder of over 85 Pakistani Christians at All Saints' Church in Peshawar and the beheading of Ricardo Dionio in the Philippines by BIFF, the aggressively acronymic breakaway faction (the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) from the more amusingly acronymic MILF (the Moro Islamic Liberation Front). Despite a body count higher than Kenya, the Pakistani slaughter received barely a mention in the Western media. You'd be hard put to find an Anglican church in England with a big enough congregation on a Sunday morning to kill 85 worshipers therein, but in Peshawar, a 99 percent Muslim city, the few remaining Christians are not of the "vaguely practicing" Cameron variety. Viewed from London, however, they've already lost: One day there will be no Christians in Peshawar and the city will be 100 percent Muslim. It may be "nothing to do with Islam," but it's just the way it is: We accept the confessional cleansing of Pakistan, as we do of Egypt, because it's part of "the Muslim world."
There's too much of that: This Administration takes the view that, if an American infant and his mother get shanghaied in Khartoum because she's a Christian, that's just the way it is, and the way it will be until the last Christian is fled. Likewise, if an American Jewish boy gets murdered by Hamas, that's just the way it is, and the way it will be, until the last Jew is dead. To push back against Islam's psychoses would require too much effort from a craven and feckless "superpower". In the region, the passivity of the Administration is well understood for what it is. If I were Hamas, I'd demand Washington up that 400 mil to 600.
I was born in 1954 in Edinburgh. Winston Churchill was prime minister, there was still rationing, we were the first generation that would grow up with television, pop music, central heating and a National Health Service. As a child, every old man I knew had fought in the First World War and every young man in the second.
War still hung like the smell of a damp, grim nostalgia over everything. We played Spitfires and Messerschmitts in the playground and you could, as Kingsley Amis pointed out, walk into any pub in the country and ask with perfect confidence if the major had been in.
That's a great Amis line. I'm old enough to remember country pubs with the major in, and it never occurred to me at the time that there'd be an England in which there weren't. Gill's piece set me thinking on that frontier you're never quite aware of crossing - when the present becomes the past, and a lost past. I disagree with his conclusion that Britain is now a much better place. It's better in some respects, and in many others, to put it at its mildest, deeply strange:
The "Angel of Woolwich" who talked down the jihadist murderers of Lee Rigby has been arrested and sent to a state mental hospital for a "race rant".
This is more like the Soviet Union than the United Kingdom.