Saturday, October 17, 2009

Limbaugh bad, Mao good

Lies cost the talk-show host a shot at NFL ownership; a White House honcho praises a murderer of millions to schoolkids.

Syndicated columnist
Orange County Register
Friday, October 16, 2009

Here is a tale of two sound bites. First:

"Slavery built the South. I'm not saying we should bring it back; I'm just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark."


"The third lesson and tip actually comes from two of my favorite political philosophers, Mao Tse Tung and Mother Teresa. Not often coupled with each other, but the two people that I turn to most to basically deliver a simple point, which is: You're going to make choices. ... But here's the deal: These are your choices; they are no one else's. In 1947, when Mao Tse Tung was being challenged within his own party on his own plan to basically take China over, Chiang Kai-shek and the nationalist Chinese held the cities, they had the army. … They had everything on their side. And people said 'How can you win? How can you do this against all of the odds against you?' And Mao Tse Tung says, 'You fight your war, and I'll fight mine.' You don't have to accept the definition of how to do things. … You fight your war, you let them fight theirs. Everybody has their own path."

The first quotation was attributed to Rush Limbaugh. He never said it. There is no tape of him saying it. There is no transcript of him saying it. After all, if he had done so at any point in the past 20 years, someone would surely have mentioned it at the time.

Yet CNN, MSNBC, ABC and other networks and newspapers all around the country cheerfully repeated the pro-slavery quotation and attributed it, falsely, to Rush Limbaugh. And planting a flat-out lie in his mouth wound up getting Rush bounced from a consortium hoping to buy the St. Louis Rams. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the talk-show host was a "divisive" figure, and famously nondivisive figures like the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson expressed the hope that, with Mr. Divisive out of the picture, the NFL could now "unify."

The second quotation – hailing Mao – was uttered back in June to an audience of high school students by Anita Dunn, the White House communications director. I know she uttered it because I watched the words issuing from her mouth on "The Glenn Beck Show" on Fox News. But don't worry. Nobody else played it.

So if I understand correctly:

Rush Limbaugh is so "divisive" that to get him fired Leftie agitators have to invent racist sound bites to put in his mouth.

But the White House communications director is so undivisive that she can be invited along to recommend Chairman Mao as a role model for America's young.

From my unscientific survey, U.S. school students are all but entirely unaware of Mao Tse Tung, and the few that aren't know him mainly as a T-shirt graphic or "agrarian reformer." What else did he do? Here, from Jonathan Fenby's book "Modern China," is the great man in a nutshell:

"Mao's responsibility for the extinction of anywhere from 40 million to 70 million lives brands him as a mass killer greater than Hitler or Stalin."

Hey, that's pretty impressive when they can't get your big final-score death toll nailed down to within 30 million. Still, as President Barack Obama's communications director says, he lived his dream, and so can you, although if your dream involves killing, oh, 50-80 million Chinamen you may have your work cut out. But let's stick with the Fenby figure: He killed 40-70 million Chinamen. Whoops, can you say "Chinamen" or is that racist? Oh, and sexist. So hard keeping up with the Sensitivity Police in this pansified political culture, isn't it? But you can kill 40-70 million Chinamen, and that's fine and dandy: You'll be cited as an inspiration by the White House to an audience of high school students. You can be anything you want to be! Look at Mao: He wanted to be a mass murderer, and he lived his dream! You can, too!

The White House now says that Anita Dunn was "joking." Anyone tempted to buy that spin should look at the tape: If this is her Friars Club routine, she needs to work on her delivery. But, for the sake of argument, try a thought experiment:

Midway through Bush's second term, press secretary Tony Snow goes along to Chester A. Arthur High School to give a graduation speech. "I know it looks tough right now. You're young, you're full of zip, but the odds seem hopeless. Let me tell you about another young man facing tough choices 80 years ago. It's last orders at the Munich beer garden – gee, your principal won't thank me for mentioning that – and all the natural blonds are saying, 'But Adolf, see reason. The Weimar Republic's here to stay, and, besides, the international Jewry control everything.' And young Adolf Hitler puts down his foaming stein and stands on the table and sings a medley of 'I Gotta Be Me', '(Learning To Love Yourself Is) The Greatest Love Of All' and 'The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow.' And by the end of that night there wasn't a Jewish greengrocer's anywhere in town with glass in its windows. Don't play by the other side's rules; make your own kind of music. And always remember: You've gotta have a dream, if you don't have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?"

Anyone think he'd still have a job?

Well, so what? All those dead Chinese are no-name peasants a long way away. What's the big deal? If you say, "Chairman Mao? Wasn't he the wacko who offed 70 million Chinks?," you'll be hounded from public life for saying the word "Chinks." But, if you commend the murderer of those 70 million as a role model in almost any schoolroom in the country from kindergarten to the Ivy League, it's so entirely routine that only a crazy like Glenn Beck would be boorish enough to point it out.

Which is odd, don't you think? Because it suggests that our present age of politically correct hypersensitivity is not just morally unserious but profoundly decadent.

Twenty years ago this fall, the Iron Curtain was coming down in Europe. Across the Warsaw Pact, the jailers of the Communist prison states lost their nerve, and the cell walls crumbled. Matt Welch, the editor of Reason magazine, wonders why the anniversary is going all but unobserved: Why aren't we making more of the biggest mass liberation in history?

Well, because to celebrate it would involve recognizing it as a victory over Communism. And, after the Left's long march through the institutions of the West, most are not willing to do that. There's the bad totalitarianism (Nazism) and the good totalitarianism (Communism), whose apologists and, indeed, fetishists can still be found everywhere, even unto the White House.

Rush Limbaugh's remarks are "divisive"; Anita Dunn's are entirely normal. But don't worry, the new Fairness Doctrine will take care of the problem.


PSU upholds its volleyball tradition

By Dave Reed
Special to
Wednesday, October 14, 2009

When top-ranked Penn State defeated No. 5 Minnesota in three sets Sunday, the Nittany Lions were playing for more than sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.

They were playing to uphold the program's tradition of excellence.

Darcy Dorton (No. 1) can't replace the graduated Nicole Fawcett, but she's on a path for success.

Even with a roster that includes four All-Americans -- senior setter Alisha Glass, senior outside hitter Megan Hodge, junior right-side hitter Blair Brown and junior middle blocker Arielle Wilson -- there was a question of whether PSU could maintain the dominating precedent established while winning back-to-back national titles.

Penn State's challenge coming into 2009 was to find a way to compensate for the graduation of outside hitter Nicole Fawcett and middle blocker Christa Harmotto, both first-team All-Americans who now play for the U.S. national team, and Roberta Holehouse, who earned honorable mention all-conference honors despite playing on the team that led the nation in hitting percentage.

"You don't really replace great players; you ask other people to carry different loads," coach Russ Rose said. "To date, we've been able to do that, but we've certainly had a number of teams that have showed us where we need to get better if we want to have success at the end of the year."

While there is little doubt Penn State's veterans are up to the challenge, winning a third consecutive national championship and a seventh straight Big Ten title will ultimately come down to whether or not the newest additions to the lineup can achieve the same level of chemistry.

Filling the vacated positions are junior co-captain Alyssa D'Errico at libero, junior college transfer Fatima Balza in the middle and outside hitter Darcy Dorton, considered the nation's top incoming freshman by several publications.

Dorton accepted the challenge and went one step farther, agreeing to wear Fawcett's number when the two met during the recruiting process. And so far, it appears to be a good fit. Dorton has been honored as the conference's freshman of the week four times and appears to be a strong candidate to duplicate Fawcett's first-year honors as the AVCA National and Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

"Wearing the No. 1 jersey does give me a lot to live up to, but it's exciting and a little bit of extra motivation," Dorton said. "She's a great player and not someone you can easily replace. I'm sure that she'll be someone who I can look to for advice and someone who will be willing to help. She's a great asset to the program."

Through 18 matches, Dorton is fourth on the team averaging 2.77 kills per set and has an impressive .345 hitting percentage. Her stats have been even better during the first six conference matches. In addition to sheer numbers, Dorton's on-court demeanor is reminiscent of Harmotto.

Co-captain Alyssa D'Errico has proven herself as a team leader at the libero position.

"It would be really unfair to ask Darcy to replace Nicole," Rose said. "Although she is wearing the same number, she has different strengths, and we're trying to bring her along as a freshman. But with Christa leaving, I thought we really needed someone who had great energy, and Darcy has done a great job as a freshman being consistent with her energy."

Dorton also benefits from playing with and against Hodge on a daily basis. The MVP of the past two Final Fours, Hodge has elevated her game again this season and gives Penn State a nearly unstoppable go-to player in any situation.

"She could have been the go-to player in every match since she's been here," Rose said. "We had so much talent that we didn't need that to be the case. Now we need that to be the case, and she's able to do that. There are a lot of challenges associated with that as well. You get beat up a little bit physically, you're always facing a big block and the other team's defense is prepared to stop you, specifically."

So far, no one has been able to stop her. Hodge is averaging 4.76 kills per set and owns a .444 hitting percentage, both career highs.

"Megan knows so much about the game, and she's always there to help me," Dorton said. "I can't do all the things she does right now, but in the future, that's the level I want to be at."

D'Errico's move from defensive specialist to libero was natural, and she leads the team averaging 3.38 digs and 0.59 aces per set. And after living with Fawcett and Harmotto, she was well-suited to take on the role of co-captain.

"Penn State volleyball is about upholding the tradition," D'Errico said. "Year after year, it gets passed down between classes. One of the things that Christa, Nicole and Roberta passed down to the rest of the team is that they worked from when they first got here all the way through the end -- and it paid off."

The Nittany Lions will need to work harder than ever if they want to make it through the conference schedule without losing a match for the fourth time in five seasons. So far this year, six conference opponents have been ranked in the Top 25 while two more have been listed among "Others Receiving Votes."

In 29 seasons, Russ Rose has created a tradition of excellence for Penn State volleyball.

After this past weekend, all 11 teams had winning overall records. If Penn State can pick up victories at No. 11 Michigan and Michigan State this weekend, the Nittany Lions will have defeated four of the top six teams in the Big Ten standings on the road.

"Michigan beat Nebraska 3-0 at the onset of the season, so we know how good they can be because we know how tough Nebraska was in Omaha the last time we played them," Rose said. "Every match has its own set of issues that you have to be prepared for."

Being prepared is one reason Penn State now owns a Big Ten-record 51-match conference winning streak. Iowa might have taken a set from the Nittany Lions on Oct. 2, but not since Nov. 8, 2006, at Ohio State has PSU lost a conference match.

"We know that every team is going to play their A-game against us and bring their best to the table," D'Errico said. "We have to bring our attitude and our style to the court, and make sure people know what Penn State volleyball is all about."

By defeating Minnesota, PSU took a crucial step toward winning another conference title. The Nittany Lions also have won 82 overall matches in a row since dropping a five-set decision to Stanford on Sept. 15, 2007.

Penn State needs only six more victories to tie the UCLA men's basketball team's record of 88 consecutive victories that began on Jan. 30, 1971, with a win at UC Santa Barbara and ended on Jan. 19, 1974, with a loss at Notre Dame.

"That says so much about the tradition that we have here, and it's something I'm really excited about being a part of," Dorton said. "That was exactly what I was looking for in a program -- someplace that was going to push me to get better every day and that would give me the opportunity to play at the highest level. The tradition of excellence here is like no other."

Dave Reed is a regular contributor to

Debacle in Moscow

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
Friday, October 16, 2009

About the only thing more comical than Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize was the reaction of those who deemed the award "premature," as if the brilliance of Obama's foreign policy is so self-evident and its success so assured that if only the Norway Five had waited a few years, his Nobel worthiness would have been universally acknowledged.

To believe this, you have to be a dreamy adolescent (preferably Scandinavian and a member of the Socialist International) or an indiscriminate imbiber of White House talking points. After all, this was precisely the spin on the president's various apology tours through Europe and the Middle East: National self-denigration -- excuse me, outreach and understanding -- is not meant to yield immediate results; it simply plants the seeds of good feeling from which foreign policy successes shall come.

Chauncey Gardiner could not have said it better. Well, at nine months, let's review.

What's come from Obama holding his tongue while Iranian demonstrators were being shot and from his recognizing the legitimacy of a thug regime illegitimately returned to power in a fraudulent election? Iran cracks down even more mercilessly on the opposition and races ahead with its nuclear program.

What's come from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton taking human rights off the table on a visit to China and from Obama's shameful refusal to see the Dalai Lama (a postponement, we are told)? China hasn't moved an inch on North Korea, Iran or human rights. Indeed, it's pushing with Russia to dethrone the dollar as the world's reserve currency.

What's come from the new-respect-for-Muslims Cairo speech and the unprecedented pressure on Israel for a total settlement freeze? "The settlement push backfired," reports The Post, and Arab-Israeli peace prospects have "arguably regressed."

And what's come from Obama's single most dramatic foreign policy stroke -- the sudden abrogation of missile defense arrangements with Poland and the Czech Republic that Russia had virulently opposed? For the East Europeans it was a crushing blow, a gratuitous restoration of Russian influence over a region that thought it had regained independence under American protection.

But maybe not gratuitous. Surely we got something in return for selling out our friends. Some brilliant secret trade-off to get strong Russian support for stopping Iran from going nuclear before it's too late? Just wait and see, said administration officials, who then gleefully played up an oblique statement by President Dmitry Medvedev a week later as vindication of the missile defense betrayal.

The Russian statement was so equivocal that such a claim seemed a ridiculous stretch at the time. Well, Clinton went to Moscow this week to nail down the deal. What did she get?

"Russia Not Budging on Iran Sanctions; Clinton Unable to Sway Counterpart." Such was The Post headline's succinct summary of the debacle.

Note how thoroughly Clinton was rebuffed. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared that "threats, sanctions and threats of pressure" are "counterproductive." Note: It's not just sanctions that are worse than useless, but even the threat of mere pressure.

It gets worse. Having failed to get any movement from the Russians, Clinton herself moved -- to accommodate the Russian position! Sanctions? What sanctions? "We are not at that point yet," she averred. "That is not a conclusion we have reached . . . it is our preference that Iran work with the international community."

But wait a minute. Didn't Obama say in July that Iran had to show compliance by the G-20 summit in late September? And when that deadline passed, did he not then warn Iran that it would face "sanctions that have bite" and that it would have to take "a new course or face consequences"?

Gone with the wind. It's the United States that's now retreating from its already flimsy position of just three weeks ago. We're not doing sanctions now, you see. We're back to engagement. Just as the Russians suggest.

Henry Kissinger once said that the main job of Anatoly Dobrynin, the perennial Soviet ambassador to Washington, was to tell the Kremlin leadership that whenever they received a proposal from the United States that appeared disadvantageous to the United States, not to assume it was a trick.

No need for a Dobrynin today. The Russian leadership, hardly believing its luck, needs no interpreter to understand that when the Obama team clownishly rushes in bearing gifts and "reset" buttons, there is nothing ulterior, diabolical, clever or even serious behind it. It is amateurishness, wrapped in naivete, inside credulity. In short, the very stuff of Nobels.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

CAIR’s Inner Workings Exposed

By Daniel Pipes
October 15, 2009

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has, since its founding in 1994, served as the Islamist movement in North America’s most high-profile, belligerent, manipulative, and aggressive agency. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., CAIR also sets the agenda and tone for the entire Wahhabi lobby.

A substantial body of criticism about CAIR exists, some of it by me, but until now, the group’s smash-mouths and extremists have managed to survive all revelations about its record. The publication this week of Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America (WND Books) may, however, change the equation.

Written by P. David Gaubatz and Paul Sperry, the investigation is based largely on the undercover work of Gaubatz’s son Chris who spent six months as an intern at CAIR’s D.C. headquarters in 2008. In that capacity, he acquired 12,000 pages of documentation and took 300 hours of video.

Chris Gaubatz’s information reveals much that the secretive CAIR wants hidden, including its strategy, finances, membership, and internal disputes, thereby exposing its shady and possibly illegal methods. As the book contains too much new information to summarize in small compass, I shall focus here on one dimension – the organization’s inner workings, where the data shows that CAIR’s claims amount to crude deceptions.

Claim 1: According to Ibrahim Hooper, the organization’s communications director, “CAIR has some 50,000 members.” Fact: An internal memo prepared in June 2007 for a staff meeting reports that the organization had precisely 5,133 members, about one-tenth Hooper’s exaggerated number.

Claim 2: CAIR is a “grass-roots organization” that depends financially on its members. Fact: According to an internal 2002 board meeting report, the organization received $33,000 in dues and $1,071,000 in donations. In other words, under 3 percent of its income derives from membership dues.

Claim 3: CAIR receives “no support from any overseas group or government.” Fact: Gaubatz and Sperry report that 60 percent of CAIR’s income derives from two dozen donors, most of whom live outside the United States. Specifically: $978,000 from the ruler of Dubai in 2002 in exchange for controlling interest in its headquarters property on New Jersey Avenue, a $500,000 gift from Saudi prince al-Waleed bin Talal and $112,000 in 2007 from Saudi prince Abdullah bin Mosa’ad, at least $300,000 from the Saudi-based Organization of the Islamic Conference, $250,000 from the Islamic Development Bank, and at least $17,000 from the American office of the Saudi-based International Islamic Relief Organization.

Claim 4: CAIR is an independent, domestic human rights group “similar to a Muslim NAACP.” Fact: In a desperate search for funding, CAIR has offered its services to forward the commercial interests of foreign firms. This came to light in the aftermath of Dubai Ports World’s failed effort to purchase six U.S. harbors in 2006 due to security fears. In response, CAIR’s chairman traveled to Dubai and suggested to businessmen there: “Do not think about your contributions [to CAIR] as donations. Think about it from the perspective of rate of return. The investment of $50 million will give you billions of dollars in return for fifty years.”

Combining these four facts reveals a CAIR quite unlike its public image. Almost bereft of members and dues, it sustains itself by selling its services to the Saudi and U.A.E. governments by doing their ideological and financial bidding.

This in turn raises the obvious question: should CAIR not be required to register as a foreign agent, with the regulations, scrutiny, and lack of tax-deductible status that the designation implies? Data in Muslim Mafia certainly suggests so.

Looking further ahead, I expect CAIR’s days are numbered. It’s a dirty institution, founded by Islamic terrorists and with many subsequent ties to terrorists. Over the years, it has established a long record of untrustworthiness that includes doctoring a photograph, fabricating anti-Muslim hate crimes, and promoting suspect polling. It has also intimidated critics via libel suits, boasted of ties to a neo-Nazi, and allegedly paid hush money. Eventually, close scrutiny of this outfit will likely lead to its demise.

That’s the good news. Less happy is my expectation that CAIR’s successor will be a more savvy, honest, respectable institution that continues its work of bringing Islamic law to the United States and Canada while avoiding the mistakes and apparent illegalities that render CAIR vulnerable. In that sense, the fight to preserve the Constitution has just begun.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Two little-known facts about organ transplant

by Lydia McGrew
October 8, 2009

This post will be fairly brief. I hope to write more another time about last year's report by the President's Council on Bioethics (that would be the previous President's council) concerning the determination of death.

Here I just want to highlight two little-known facts that I've become aware of that are very troubling concerning organ procurement practices.

The first fact concerns procurement from patients declared brain dead. Brain death is ostensibly the irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem. That is its legal purport. It must not be confused with being in a so-called "persistent vegetative state." All patients legally declared brain-dead are unable to breathe on their own, whereas patients diagnosed as PVS are usually able to breathe on their own and have at least, as far as anyone knows, brain-stem function.

However, it apparently has been known for quite some time that (some? most? all?) patients declared brain-dead maintain body temperature, though at a somewhat lower-than-normal level and with help from blankets. (See PCBE report, pp. 40, 56, 60.)

In case the relevant bit of human anatomy class has faded into the misty past, body temperature is maintained by the hypothalamus which is...a part of the brain located just above the brain stem.

I have to admit that I fail to understand how anyone could declare in good faith that all the functions of a patient's brain have ceased if a function of the hypothalamus is obviously on-going. A clue may, unfortunately, be found in a passage about which I shall probably have more to say in the PCBE report:

[E]vidence of continued activity of the pituitary gland, or of similar residual brain tissue function in patients diagnosed with “brain death,” is not decisive in determining whether these patients are living or dead.* The question is not, Has the whole brain died? The question is, Has the human being died? This criticism can be leveled perhaps even more sharply at the commonly employed phrase “whole brain death,” which, if taken literally, implies that every part of the brain must be non-functional for the diagnosis to be made. In reality, and somewhat at odds with the exact wording of the UDDA, “all functions of the entire brain” do not have to be extinguished in order to meet the neurological standard under the current application of the law to medical practice. In Chapter Four, we take up the question, “On what grounds might we judge the persistence of certain functions (e.g., ADH secretion by the pituitary gland) to be less important than other functions (e.g., spontaneous breathing)?” (p. 18) [Emphasis added]

Oh. So they didn't mean it. Although it is the activity of the pituitary gland the report is discussing here (the report states [p. 56] that growth has occurred in at least one child declared brain-dead), presumably the authors of the report would say the same about the action of the hypothalamus--that it isn't as "important" as other functions, such as breathing, and hence that it is fine to declare someone brain dead even if his hypothalamus is still working--though such a declaration would be, er, "somewhat at odds with the exact wording" of the Uniform Determination of Death Act.

The second little-known fact is perhaps even more shocking and concerns the other method of organ procurement. In this method, the patient is not declared brain dead. Rather, a ventilator-dependent patient is taken off the ventilator, and doctors wait until he stops breathing naturally. They wait 2 to 5 minutes after breathing and heartbeat stop and declare him dead. Then he is a candidate for organ procurement, which occurs very quickly thereafter so that organs are not damaged by what is known as "warm ischemia."

Most people assume, if they think about non-heart-beating donation at all, that when someone is declared dead because he isn't breathing and his heart isn't beating, that's it. He isn't resuscitated, even if he could be resuscitated, and so he may be declared dead. Even the PCBE (the experts who tried to find out as much as they could before writing their report) assumes this in discussing non-heart-beating donation:

It is important to note that this hypothetical scenario of resuscitating a patient who has been prepared for a controlled DCD procurement is merely a “thought experiment.” In reality, attempting to revive such a patient would be ruled out ethically because the practice of controlled DCD is premised on the assumption that the individual’s family has decided to allow withdrawal of life-sustaining interventions and would, therefore, want to abstain from any efforts to prevent the patient’s death (perhaps by consenting to a “do not resuscitate” order). For this reason, many have argued that the word “irreversible” in this context should be understood in a weaker sense than that spelled out above: It should be understood to mean “cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions under conditions in which those functions cannot return on their own and will not be restored by medical interventions.” (p. 84)

It is understandable that even this argument might bother some people. The obvious philosophical question that arises is this: Why is someone's loss of breathing and respiration considered irreversible because of what someone else has decided not to do? Should not irreversibility be an actual medical determination, not a combination of a medical determination with an intention on the part of people around?

But that concern almost pales into insignificance when one encounters the following quotation from an article about non-heart-beating donation. (I mentioned this in another thread.)

Artificial support of circulation with cardiopulmonary bypass and reintubation for lung ventilation are required for organ viability in donors. The donation-related procedures can resuscitate (reanimate) organ donors during procurement, which requires pharmacological agents (chlorpromazine and lidocaine) and/or occlusion of coronary and cerebral circulation for suppression...

Translation: The possibility of resuscitating patients declared dead under NHBD protocols is not merely a "thought experiment" but very real. First they take the vent-dependent patient off the ventilator and let him stop breathing which causes his heart to stop. Then they wait whatever number of minutes their hospital's protocol calls for--somewhere between two and five minutes. They declare him dead. Then they start the ventilator back up again to keep the organs fresh during procurement. But because it is so soon after the cessation of breathing and heartbeat, they have a very real worry that they may resuscitate the "dead" patient. So they have to block off circulation to his brain or else dope him up to prevent him from "coming to life again."

I wonder how many people know that about NHBD? I wonder how many people would be rightly creeped out by it if they did? It's very obvious from this that NHBD is by no means an ethical alternative to organ procurement from patients declared brain-dead. Indeed, waiting for the patient to be declared brain-dead is arguably applying a more rigorous standard for death, though one which raises all the questions about diagnosis to which I've been alluding.

It is time for conservative ethicists to reconsider seriously their endorsement of vital organ donation. If there is no ethical way to do it, that should be the end of the discussion. Organ procurement is not an absolute imperative.

Posted by Lydia McGrew on October 8, 2009 3:58 PM
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Wilders Wins

by Jacob Laksin
October 14, 2009

It took eight months, nearly $16,000 in legal fees, and the perseverance of a Muslim lawyer, but the British government has been overruled in its notorious decision this February to ban Dutch politician Geert Wilders from entering the country.

In a decision with important implications for free speech, London’s Asylum and Immigration Tribunal yesterday ruled that the British Home Office, under the authority of former home secretary Jacqui Smith, was wrong to turn Wilders away when he arrived in Heathrow airport this February to screen his anti-Islam documentary, “Fitna,” for the British parliament.
Depicting Wilders as a threat to the public, the Home Office had used a 2006 law that allowed for the exclusion of those who represent “a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society.” At the time, Wilders protested that his expulsion was an outrageous violation of free speech and vowed to fight the ban. With the support of his legal team – including a British Muslim lawyer, Arfan Khan – and the backing of the immigration tribunal, Wilders seems to have won the fight.

Banned in the UK: Wilders after being turned away at Heathrow Airport.

The ban was always a scandal – and a hypocritical scandal at that. While the Home Office claimed that Wilders’s presence had the potential to “threaten community harmony and therefore public safety,” the unspoken but deeply relevant reality was that the threat came not from Wilders but from Islamic extremists who already resided in the UK.

For instance, the Muslim Council of Britain, the UK’s largest Muslim organization, applauded the Home Office’s ban, calling Wilders “an open and relentless preacher of hate.” But the charge was more appropriate when applied to the MCB: The group has repeatedly boycotted Holocaust Remembrance Day, while supporting the entry into Britain of Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the anti-Semitic Egyptian cleric whose support for suicide bombings has kept him from setting foot in the United States since 1999.
The Home Office ban was also greeted with approval by another Muslim leader, Labor Party peer Lord Ahmed. Ahmed warned that allowing Wilders into the country “would certainly cause problems within communities around Britain.” Yet his concern for public order did not deter him from threatening to march 10,000 angry Muslims to physically prevent Wilders from entering the House of Lords.

Even as the British government indulged Muslim spokesmen who met the prospect of civil debate with unhidden hostility, it closed the country’s door to the elected leader of European democracy who was campaigning against religious extremism. Compounding the blatant act of capitulation was the Home Office’s shameful rationale for the ban – a rationale to which it clung even in the wake of yesterday’s reversal. A government spokesman insisted that Wilders was banned because the British government “opposes extremism in all its forms,” as though there were any credible comparison between Wilders and the Islamic terrorists who pose a genuine security threat. Even more shamefully, the Home Office suggested that Wilders had to be banned so as to avoid “inter-faith violence.” But of course there was never any danger of Wilders engaging in violence. It took the radical voices in the British Muslim community to make that threat credible.

Disturbing the Peace: Wilders’s Muslim “critics”

If the British government supposed that its ban would marginalize Wilders and diminish the influence of his Islamo-skeptic message, it got things exactly backwards. Not only did even political adversaries in his native Netherlands defend Wilders against the undiplomatic snub of a fellow countryman and elected official, but the simple fact that British authorities felt forced to ban a critic of radical Islam rather than risk a confrontation with its adherents served as powerful proof of Wilders’s longtime charge that Europe no longer had the will to defend its laws and culture against Islamic extremists.

Within weeks of Wilders’s ban, his Freedom Party (PVV) had surged to become the second most popular polling party in the Netherlands. The PVV translated popularity into political success this June, when it outperformed expectations to become the second largest Dutch party in the European Parliament. Polls have since shown that the PVV could become the largest or second largest party in the Netherlands. Wilders himself remains at risk. Death threats from Islamic militants have become a routine part of his life since he became an outspoken critic of Islam. But his party’s fortunes have never been better.

Now Wilders has won another victory. He has already promised to visit Britain the coming weeks. That means he will have another opportunity to screen a film whose disgraceful censorship by the British government should never have occurred in the first place.

A Note To Readers:

On Thursday, October 22, Geert Wilders will be appearing at the Union League Club in Philadelphia, PA, in an event hosted by the Philadelphia Freedom Center. To register for the event, “Defending Free Speech and Geert Wilders,” please click here. For more information, please contact Mike Finch at the David Horowitz Freedom Center at

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hamburg’s Terror Cell

By Stephen Brown
October 12, 2009

Eight years after 9/11, the city where the attack was planned is once more enjoying a sad reputation as a center for Islamic terrorism.

The German media reported earlier this week that German security officials are tracking in Hamburg a new, ten-man Islamic terrorist group. Hamburg is the city that hosted Mohammed Atta and other key, 9/11 terrorists, while they planned their strike against the World Trade Center. Afterwards, history bestowed the city’s name on Atta and his associates, who ever since have been collectively called the “Hamburg Cell.”

According to an internal intelligence report composed by Hamburg’s security agencies, ten Muslims from the northern German port city travelled to Pakistan’s wild border region last March for training in an al Qaeda camp. Taking part in this “conspiratorial action”, were two German converts.

“The individual group members dispose …of a fundamental jihadist attitude and are numbered among the violent jihadist scene in Hamburg,” the intelligence report stated.

Besides their depraved ideology, what the two generations of Islamic terrorists have most in common was their use of the same Hamburg mosque as a meeting place. Currently called the Taiba mosque, in Mohammad Atta’s time it was known as Al Quds. But what probably has remained the same is that, if asked, no one at the Taiba mosque would know anything about the latest terrorist cell meeting within its walls, just as earlier Atta’s activities somehow escaped notice.

The German newspaper, Die Welt, reported that German security officials are very alarmed about Hamburg’s second generation terrorists. Unlike the cell around Mohammad Atta that targeted America, Atta’s successors are expected to launch a terrorist attack inside of Germany.

Already, authorities announced they believe the cell’s two ethnic converts have returned to Germany, which has angered the German public. Germans are, naturally, questioning how the two home-grown jihadists not only could leave the country unhindered for terrorist training, but also slip back into Germany.

Before the existence of the new Hamburg terrorist cell was revealed, Germans were already tense. Their country is on a high state of alert for terrorist attacks. Threatening videos, made in German by German jihadists in Pakistan and released in late September before the federal election, promised a terrorist attack on German soil within two weeks of election day if Germans did not vote to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan.

To their credit, the German electorate would not be intimidated and returned conservative Angela Merkel to the chancellor’s office with a strengthened mandate. This act of defiance caused the German Islamists to release two more menacing videos, again in German, from their Waziristan hideout last weekend. The time frame to fulfill that promise to strike ends this Sunday.

The new Hamburg jihadists, however, are not the only al Qaeda-trained German terrorists the German public has to worry about. The Office for the Defense of the Federal Constitution (Germany’s CIA) announced that an astonishing 180 Islamists from Germany had received terrorist training in al Qaeda and Islamic Jihad Union camps in Waziristan. Of these, a speaker for the intelligence agency said about 80 had returned to Germany, but would not say how many were under surveillance.

And it is not only al Qaeda-trained terrorists from Waziristan that are targeting Germany for its troop presence in Afghanistan. Days before September’s federal election, authorities in five German states raided 19 apartments belonging to suspected Islamists.

The respected German newspaper, Die Frankfurter Allgemeine, reported that the raids targeted German converts who were recruiting for a Koran school in Yemen. The paper quoted sources from German security circles who maintained the school’s operators are closely connected with al Qaeda and suspected the school also serves as a military training camp for “numerous converts from Europe and the United States.”

Threats to German security because of its Afghansitan role are also originating in non-Moslem countries. A Moroccan living in Canada, Said Namouh, was convicted last week in a Canadian court for planning to launch terrorist attacks in Germany and Austria to force them to withdraw from the NATO effort. The Canadian prosecutor said that, without a doubt, Namouh planned bomb attacks in the two countries and was “ready to die as a martyr.”

While it may seem strange that a terrorist residing in Canada, a country that also has troops in Afghanistan, would target far-off Germany, it is no mystery to western intelligence services. Both German and American security authorities viewed Germany as a prime target for a terrorist attack this year due to September’s federal elections. A successful terrorist attack, al Qaeda had hoped, would cause the German electorate to vote for troop withdrawal, much like the 2004 Madrid train bombings before Spain’s election saw the Spanish military pulled out of Iraq.

According to polls, about 70 per cent of Germans would like their soldiers withdrawn from Afghanistan. This fact was also instrumental in their country becoming a major terrorist target this year. Due to their burden of history, war is unpopular with Germans, among whom now runs a strong, pacifistic streak that al Qaeda wants to exploit. It views Germany as the weak link among major NATO countries.

But unfortunately Hamburg and other German cities are destined to host more terrorist cells in the future. The best evidence of this appeared in a recently released al Qaeda video that proudly put the German terrorist colony in Waziristan on display. German viewers were disturbed to see the terrorists’ children shooting assault rifles with several blond, European-looking children noticeable among them. The next generation of German-speaking terrorists is already in training.

Film Review: 'The Invention of Lying'

Movie Takes

By on 10.12.09 @ 6:02AM
The American Spectator

Ricky Gervais may be the funniest man alive, and he got that way by looking more deeply into the mind and soul of the man we so cruelly call the "loser" than anyone in movies or television has done to date. His character, David Brent, in the original, British version of "The Office," is a comic creation for the ages -- one whose towering stature can be measured against the scaled-down, American version of him played by Steve Carell. American network TV couldn't bear that unflinching gaze into the abyss of loserdom that David Brent represented. As with so many other things, we had to sentimentalize and trivialize him. Now, to judge from Mr. Gervais's new film, The Invention of Lying, he has had to pay the price of working in the American film industry by pre-emptively sentimentalizing another loser who might otherwise have stood comparison with David Brent. He could also have added an unexpectedly theological dimension to the whole concept of the loser -- Jesus Christ, he reminds us, was one of life's losers -- but he chooses instead to use religion only for laughs.

Mind you, there's nothing wrong with laughs, and The Invention of Lying is filled with them. Its "high concept" is of a world in every respect exactly like our own except that, like Swift's Houyhnhnms, the inhabitants are incapable of lying. Like the Houyhnhnms too, they haven't even got a word for "lie," "liar," or "lying" -- though the Houyhnhnms invented the circumlocutory "say the thing that is not" when provoked to it by Gulliver. Mr. Gervais plays Mark Bellison, this world's Gulliver. Mark is a screenwriter for Lecture Pictures -- all movies are filmed lectures of "stories from history" given by a po-faced Christopher Guest, since they also have no concept of fiction -- who suddenly and inexplicably discovers the lie and its usefulness when nobody else in the world has done so. Like Gulliver, too, he struggles to explain to others what lying is and has recourse to a similar formula, telling his friends that he has "said something that wasn't." They are even less successful than the Houyhnhnms in getting their minds around the concept.

But the real story the film tells is not of the invention of lying, which happens in an instant and remains unexplained, but the invention of love in a world of Houyhnhnm-like rationalists -- and, of course, of love's relationship to lying. As a loser, Mark is in love with Anna (Jennifer Garner), a woman who, as everyone tells him -- since there is no such thing as the white lie or diplomatic discretion -- is "way out of your league." She tells him herself. Though she likes him, he is a loser and unattractive: fat and with a snub nose. Surely, he must be able to see that his genetic make-up is no match for hers? She doesn't want little fat kids with snub noses. Anyone who has ever seen a movie could write the rest of the script, minus the jokes, from there on out, which is not necessarily a disqualification from movie quality but is something of a burden for the script to carry.

That it succeeds in carrying it to the extent it does has to do with the fact that The Invention of Lying is also a philosophical movie. The underlying thinking behind it is that the world is a miserable place which only lying can make bearable. Do you begin to see where religion is going to come into the story? Hence, too, the connection between love and lying, which reflects a similar connection between the cold-blooded rationalism of everyone but Mark and their merciless and unfeeling truthfulness. To accept the challenge of showing how small a leavening of falsehood is required to make love grow and for life in general to become bearable takes a considerable artistic ambition, and to succeed, even to the limited extent that this movie does, is therefore no mean feat. But how much better it might have been if the concept of falsehood itself could have been examined for ambiguities and uncertainties! Do we always perfectly know what is true and what is false? It's easier to assume that we do.

Structurally, there are three pivotal moments in the movie. The first is the actual invention of lying when, after loser Mark is fired from his job and evicted from his apartment, he goes to the bank to withdraw what little money he has left. The rent is $800 and he has a balance of only $300. But the bank's computer system is down, so the teller asks Mark how much he wants to withdraw. To the accompaniment of a screen-graphic suggesting the revolutionary nature of the mental moment, he suddenly decides to ask for the $800 he needs to avoid eviction. Just then, the computers come back up. "Oh," says the teller, "it says here you only have a balance of $300" -- whereupon she apologizes for the bank's mistake and hands him the $800.

There follow a number of comic vignettes in which Mark tries out his new and unheard-of skill with hilarious effects. They also work a dramatic change in his fortunes, turning him from a loser into a fabulously wealthy screenwriter. But Anna still spurns his romantic advances on the grounds that it is not reasonable for her to want little fat kids with snub noses. Besides, now she is being romanced by Brad Kessler (Rob Lowe), Mark's much better-looking colleague at Lecture Pictures. Things then take a more serious turn as Mark's mother (Fionnula Flanagan) is taken from "A Sad Place for Hopeless Old People" where she lives to the hospital where there is, naturally, no pretense that she is not about to die. When she confesses her fears of "an eternity of nothingness," Mark reassures her with a story about the happy land of love and reunion and eternal mansions that lies before her.

She dies happy, but suddenly everyone else is curious about the afterlife that no one had known about before but that now everyone accepts without question. "What else happens? Can you tell us more, please?" Mark is forced to come up with a whole invented narrative of "the Man in the Sky" who speaks to him alone and who tells him of the world to come and what you have to do to get into the good place and to avoid the bad place. Don't do bad things, basically. You get three chances before you're sent to the bad place, says Mark. "Like baseball!" say the people. And: "We have to hear everything that's bad." Mark seems to agree, but we don't hear him getting any further than rape and murder. He doesn't mention theft, for instance, which we know him to be guilty of. But then it's all a lie to him anyway.

The third pivotal moment comes when Mark refuses to use his unique power to lie in order to win the love of Anna. Has he, perhaps, come to believe his own lies about the eternal consequences of doing bad things? It would have made for a better movie, I think, if he had, but no, he confesses to Anna that there is no Man in the Sky. She takes it remarkably well, considering how fascinated she, along with everybody else in the world, has been with his tales of the afterlife. Like everybody else in the world, too, apart from Mark, she doesn't really understand how it's possible for him to have said something that isn't. In a way, Mr. Gervais's fantasy is a subtler version of Zombieland, in which the heroes' remarkable powers are only those of ordinary humanity but magnified by the absence of any other ordinary human beings.

The Invention of Lying has been criticized in some quarters for being anti-religious, but it is so only in the most literal sense. The dramatic impetus of the mise en scène is pro-religious -- since the big lie has only benign effects -- just as it is pro-love and pro-family, and Ricky Gervais's denial of the gravamen of his own creation by insisting that it is a lie seems curiously weightless and insignificant, a way of backing out of the complexities he himself has established without damage to the Hollywood imperative to keep it light and funny and to wrap up the rom-com plot in well under two hours. It's a pity he didn't have more of a belief in Ricky Gervais. God could have been left to take care of himself.

- James Bowman is a resident scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, media essayist for the New Criterion, and The American Spectator's movie and culture critic. His new book, Media Madness: The Corruption of Our Political Culture, was recently published by Encounter Books.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

This Is a Story About the DVD of Garry’s Show

The New York Times
October 11, 2009

TO this day, Garry Shandling still wonders what his career would have amounted to without his breakthrough comedy, the one that skewered television conventions even as it religiously observed them and provided a framework for countless imitators.

No, not “The Larry Sanders Show.” The other one.

Before “Larry Sanders,” there was “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” a parody sitcom that ran on Showtime from 1986 to 1990 and is receiving a DVD release on Oct. 20.

Shout! Factory

A scene from an episode of “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” which ran on Showtime from 1986 to 1990. Fox also broadcast repeats of the show.

It may be lesser known, but “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” played its own crucial role in television history, providing a shop class for a cadre of young writers to tinker with ideas they would carry over to more lasting programs. And it gave its star an early sandbox to play with a character who shares his name as well as a familiarly affable, self-absorbed nature.

“When I speak about myself in the third person, it’s because I’m embarrassed,” Mr. Shandling, 59, said in a recent telephone interview. “It’s like in therapy, I say, ‘You’ll never believe what Garry did last week.’ ”

Created by Mr. Shandling and Alan Zweibel, an alumnus of the original “Saturday Night Live” writing staff, “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” superficially resembled a network sitcom. Mr. Shandling played a Los Angeles bachelor with a nebbishy best pal, a platonic female friend and a nosy neighbor but was also permitted to step out of the story and address the audience directly. (When Mr. Shandling pitched a similar idea to NBC, the network asked if he could instead talk to a dog.)

“Both of us had a distaste for what was a very predictable, pat situation-comedy formula,” Mr. Zweibel said. “What we thought was, let’s be Off Broadway — let’s be more theatrical about it.”

So at every level, “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” was infused with self-awareness and self-reference, even in its theme song, whose lyrics reminded viewers that they were listening to a theme song. (“I’m almost halfway finished/How do you like it so far?”) Episodes were crammed with pop-cultural allusions, absurdist humor and guest appearances from retro-chic stars like Red Buttons, Steve Allen and Florence Henderson.

Otherwise, the “Shandling’s Show” writers had to observe only two rules: keep their star armed with plenty of one-liners, and make sure he was the funniest person in the room.

“Garry likes stuff where he gets the laughs,” said Tom Gammill, a “Seinfeld” and “Simpsons” veteran who with his writing partner, Max Pross, contributed to the show. “If there’s a scene where everyone else is getting laughs, he goes: ‘I think there’s a problem with this scene. I can’t put my finger on it.’ ”

For Mr. Shandling, the offbeat opportunity came with a significant sacrifice: in 1987, he quit “The Tonight Show,” where he had been invited to share guest-hosting duties with Jay Leno, to focus full time on “Shandling’s Show.” In a tentative phone call, Mr. Shandling broke the news to his mentor, Johnny Carson, who had recently frozen out his former protégé Joan Rivers when she became his broadcast rival.

“He jokingly said, ‘Here we go again,’ ” Mr. Shandling recalled. “And I said: ‘No, Johnny, the show is on Showtime. I’m not even going on a regular network, Johnny. I promise you I am no threat of any kind.’ ”

Nonetheless, Mr. Shandling felt he needed new challenges. “I had hosted ‘The Tonight Show,’ ” he said, “but I had not explored what I could do as a writer and an actor. I thought it might limit me. I’m sure there was also fear of it.”

From its young, mostly male writing team, “Shandling’s Show” demanded long hours, nights and weekends, but in return yielded desirable credits on a series that was well regarded by critics and the entertainment industry.

There was also frustration that the program was not widely seen on Showtime, which in the 1980s lacked the prestige and the subscriber base it has now. “I can’t even begin to tell you the FedEx bill I ran up in the first year,” Mr. Zweibel said, “sending out cassettes to my friends and family in New York, just to prove to them that I was working.”

In 1988, the fledgling Fox network started running repeats of “Shandling’s Show,” but ratings were disappointing. The following season, during which Garry married a woman played by Jessica Harper, sapped the show of some of its irreverence, and its creators chose not to pursue a fifth season.

The “Shandling’s Show” writers were snapped up by programs like “Seinfeld” and “The Simpsons,” where their abilities to deconstruct sitcom conventions were valuable. Working for Mr. Shandling, Mr. Pross said, “showed us how that kind of humor could work in a more traditional setting that turned out to be more successful in a mass-market way.”

Mr. Shandling, too, was inspired by a “Shandling’s Show” episode in which Garry tries to placate his angry girlfriend after joking about her in a television interview, and channeled the idea into “The Larry Sanders Show,” on which he played a neurotic, self-defeating television host.

“ ‘Larry Sanders’ was much more complicated, with many more layers of intention,” Mr. Shandling said. “Shandling’s Show,” he said, was about “pure fun and being funny, and I was content with just being funny until towards the very end when I thought, ‘What’s next?’ ”

Two decades later, Mr. Shandling has no immediate answer to that question and is even a bit melancholy about the DVD release of “Shandling’s Show,” his last major project that has not been available on home video.

“I really felt, like, wow, this is the last item of my garage sale,” Mr. Shandling said. “There are no shows left.”

He also said the occasion was “an interesting time for me to see the arc” of his career. He took it as a positive omen that while on a meditation retreat in Hawaii, during a break from working on the “Shandling’s Show” DVDs, he was contacted by the director Jon Favreau, who offered him a role in “Iron Man 2.”

While Mr. Shandling was in this retrospective mood, he was asked if he had contemplated the tradeoff he made for “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” and if he ever wondered how events might have otherwise turned out.

“Well,” he answered, and then paused. “Hold on while I call my therapist.”

On a Mission to Loosen Up the Louvre

The New York Times
October 11, 2009


In a subterranean space far below the swarms of tourists crowding the Louvre’s famed pyramid are remnants of a medieval fortress. Here, along a 12th-century sandstone passage, the American artist Joseph Kosuth is about to suspend 15 sentences in giant white neon tubing. The show, “Neither Appearance Nor Illusion,” which opens this month, is a first for the 64-year-old Mr. Kosuth. “You only get to do something at the Louvre once in a lifetime,” he said, explaining that he picked the museum’s catacombs rather than a conventional gallery because “it’s a place I’ve always loved, it gets a lot of traffic and has never been used for contemporary art before.”

Musée du Louvre/Angèle Dequier

The Louvre is building a new wing, its most radical addition since I. M. Pei’s 1989 glass pyramid, above.

Neither has the 16th-century Salle des Bronzes, which will soon be famous not just for its magnificent collection of ancient bronzes but for its ceiling, which is about to painted by another celebrated figure of American art: Cy Twombly.

“I’m really not doing something new,” Henri Loyrette, the Louvre’s director, said as he was sprinting through the museum’s galleries one recent morning. “I’m trying to revive a tradition.”

Mr. Loyrette — who arrived at the Louvre in 2001 after 18 years at the Musée d’Orsay— was referring to 1953, when Georges Braque decorated the ceiling in an ornate gallery that was once Henri II’s antechamber. Since then the Louvre has been primarily focused on burnishing the reputation of dead artists, not promoting new ones, especially if they’re American.
But there seems to be an infusion of many things American at the Louvre these days.

In addition to seeing site-specific installations by high-profile contemporary artists, one might also hear American writers like Toni Morrison or see performances by the choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones. Memberships conferring extra privileges, long a standard option at American museums, started here in 2006. Mr. Loyrette also ushered in free admission on Friday nights to anyone under 26. (To make Americans feel even closer to home, a McDonald’s restaurant and McCafé are planned to open near the Louvre next month.)

Mr. Loyrette has also been charging about the world in what many might call an American manner — drumming up donations from Cincinnati to Hong Kong, as well as trading on the Louvre’s brand and collection to raise cash from Atlanta to Abu Dhabi.

Not surprisingly, his approach has not been popular with everyone. Critics seem to view the idea of branding the Louvre as both crass and unnecessary, and are particularly dismissive of Mr. Loyrette’s outreach abroad. Supporters believe that he is merely doing what any museum director has to do these days to make the institution a financially stable place. For Mr. Loyrette’s part, he said he is simply, “making the museum more modern.”

Regardless of his methods and motives, what does seem clear is that Mr. Loyrette, with major plans for expansion, satellite franchises and new partnerships that would have been unheard of even a decade ago, is overseeing the most drastic rethinking of the Louvre’s place and purpose in at least 20 years. (It was 1989 when I. M. Pei finished the then-controversial glass pyramid for the museum’s entrance courtyard.)

On a private tour given over the summer, Mr. Loyrette, lanky, 57, and spry in a dark suit, seemed unencumbered by the weight of the world’s most august and treasured art collection. Instead he seemed preoccupied with the details, spouting facts and figures as he dashed through the seemingly endless halls and galleries. “If you want to see everything you must walk 14 kilometers,” he announced — more than eight miles. Then: “Forty percent of our visitors are under the age of 26.” And on a more worrisome note: “80 percent of the people only want to see the Mona Lisa.”

Much of what he has been trying to do at the museum has been to fuse those numbers so that they are not working at cross purposes: to push the visitors — especially young ones — past the Mona Lisa to explore the miles of largely unexplored artworks beyond it.

Looking at yet another set of numbers, it is hard to argue with his results. Since he arrived a little over eight years ago, attendance at the museum is up 67 percent, with 8.5 million visitors recorded in 2008 and 10 million expected by 2014. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art has nearly 5 million visitors, and the British Museum 5.9 million.)

At the same time he has created an endowment, which right now stands at nearly $175 million, largely to compensate for gradual decrease in contributions from the French government; in 2008 it covered only 47 percent of the museum’s $315 million costs, down from 60 percent in 2001.
Not that Mr. Loyrette hasn’t had some help. His predecessor, Pierre Rosenberg, had started clearing out many of the institution’s cobwebs — introducing corporate financing (a relatively new phenomenon for French museums), hiring a fund-raising staff (also novel) and supervising an ambitious exhibition schedule — in the years before Mr. Loyrette arrived.
While there is a long and ingrained history of philanthropy in America, not so in France, where until recently it was assumed that the government was responsible for the country’s museums.

Mr. Loyrette received some help on this front too. In 2003 a new tax was introduced permitting individuals to deduct 66 percent of the value of any artwork given to cultural institutions and allowing corporations to deduct 60 percent to 90 percent if the work is deemed an historic treasure. The change quickly netted the Louvre 130 Italian Renaissance drawings from the Carrefour retail group — the value of which, Mr. Loyrette said, exceeded the museum’s annual acquisitions budget. More recently the insurance company AXA donated a 17th-century painting by the Le Nain brothers to the museum, and Pierre Bergé gave the Louvre a Goya portrait in memory of Yves Saint Laurent, his partner, who died last year.

Outside of France Mr. Loyrette has embarked on multiple partnerships with the intention of raising both cash and the museum’s profile. Some, like next year’s planned exhibition devoted to the German sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt at the tiny Neue Galerie in Manhattan, seem relatively benign. Others have many worried that he is diluting the Louvre brand at best and cheapening it at worst.

In 2004 he struck a three-year agreement with the High Museum of Art in Atlanta that includes seven temporary exhibitions from the Louvre’s collection in exchange for a $6.4 million donation earmarked for the refurbishment of the Louvre’s 18th-century French furniture galleries.

Musée Du Louvre/Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti

The $67 million wing that will house the Louvre’s Islamic art collection.

More controversially, he made a deal two years ago with Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates to create the Louvre Abu Dhabi — a 260,000 square-foot museum designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel and expected to open in 2013 on Saadiyat Island, off the city’s coast. In an arrangement that echoes the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s deal with the city of Bilbao, Spain, Abu Dhabi will pay the Louvre $572.1 million for the use of the Louvre’s name and give the French museums another $786.5 million for loans, exhibitions and management advice.

Mr. Loyrette said that the funds will enable him to establish the first-ever endowment for a French museum and pay for special projects that the government will not, but critics were not appeased. “One can only be shocked by the commercial and promotional use of masterpieces of our national heritage,” wrote a group of leading art historians in the newspaper Le Monde in 2007. Similar outrage has been expressed over a plan to build a satellite branch of the Louvre in Lens, an economically depressed mining town northwest of Paris. His critics say a museum there is unnecessary; there are already two provincial museums nearby, one in Lille, another in Arras, both with art from the Louvre.

Mr. Loyrette defends the project. “For people living in Lens there is nothing to see,” he said. In addition to rotating exhibitions from the Louvre’s collection it will also be a laboratory for contemporary art with galleries big enough to showcase large-scale installations.

Others say both praise and criticism of Mr. Loyrette is misplaced, as he is merely carrying out projects initiated by the French government, which has always overseen the running of the museums. Marc Fumaroli, an art historian who is president of the Friends of the Louvre in Paris, pointed out that although Mr. Loyrette is very powerful, he is also “a functionary of the state.”

“The deal with Abu Dhabi was conceived by the government,” Mr. Fumaroli added. “Lens was too.”

But Mr. Loyrette’s biggest challenge might be the Louvre itself. If attendance increases at the rate it has been, in five years 10 million visitors a year will be crowding through an entrance designed for less than half that number. Already there is an exasperating and potentially discouraging crush at the Pei-designed pyramid as visitors vie to get in. Indeed, being told about the line outside the museum was the only thing that made Mr. Loyrette bristle. He said he had asked Mr. Pei’s office to reconfigure the interior space to make it more visitor friendly.

Another troubling reality is that the vast majority of those millions of people come to see only one — or three — pieces of art. “Everyone wants to see the same three things: the Mona Lisa; the Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory,” he moaned.

To make people more aware of the rest of the Louvre’s offerings, he recently released a new audio guide highlighting other works of art. To the same end he is also making sure that contemporary art continues to be subtly installed throughout the museum. His first commission was a painting and two sculptures by the German artist Anselm Kiefer that can be found in a stairwell linking the Egyptian and Mesopotamian antiquities. He recently asked the French artist François Morellet to create stained-glass windows for a Second Empire staircase.

One of the museum’s biggest shortcomings, he realizes, is the lack of American art. “It’s a scandal,” Mr. Loyrette said. “We’re supposed to be a universal museum, yet we only have three American paintings in our collection. So besides showing Mr. Kosuth and commissioning Mr. Twombly’s ceiling, the museum has set up an English language version of its online database, and soon it is expected to announce the expansion of a comprehensive online catalog of works created by American artists in French public collections.

But his most noticeable contribution will likely be the $67 million wing to house the Louvre’s world-class collection of Islamic art, something no other Louvre director has tried to do, and the most radical architectural addition since Pei’s glass pyramid.

“It was not even a department when I arrived,” said Mr. Loyrette. “We did not want to make this a separate museum because Islamic art is so artistically and politically important. It’s so closely linked with all of Western art.”

At 8:30 one summer morning, Mr. Loyrette could be found briefing some of the project’s backers. In addition to the Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a grandson of King Abdul Aziz, Saudi Arabia’s founder, who has donated $20 million towards its construction (the largest gift ever made by an individual in France.), the French government has pledged $28.5 million, while Total, the oil company, has agreed to put up $4.8 million. The rest is coming from other French companies including Lafarge, the world’s largest cement maker.

The Italian architect Mario Bellini and the French architect Rudy Ricciotti have designed a translucent undulating roof fashioned from small glass disks, which will sit in the center of the Visconti courtyard, a majestic, neo-Classical space in the middle of the Louvre’s south wing.

Inside, the two-story wing will house a good portion of the Louvre’s collection of about 10,000 objects from the Islamic collection, roughly four times its current space, which has only room to show some 1,300 works.

Mr. Loyrette, a trained art historian, appears as comfortable discussing Anselm Keiffer’s paintings as he does the oldest known celestial globe. He decided to join the museum world because he “didn’t want to become a teacher,” he said.

Growing up in Paris, he recalls playing in the Tuileries as a child. “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t going to the Louvre,” he said. His mother, an Egyptologist, worked there; his father is a lawyer.

He never forgets that the Louvre was originally a palace before it was transformed into a museum in 1793. And he treats it as if it were his home.
“I spend every Sunday here,” Mr. Loyrette said. “I don’t have the time during the week.” Each visit he inspects a different set of galleries, looking at the installations, taking note of things he thinks should be changed, making sure nothing is out of place.

“I figure it takes me a month to get through the whole museum,” he said and paused before adding, “Cezanne once said, ‘The Louvre is the book in which we learn to read.’ It’s exactly like that for me too.”