Saturday, December 22, 2012

New ‘Man of Steel’ trailer explores Superman’s childhood and features first looks at Zod, Jor-El and Lois Lane

By Bryan Enk
Yahoo! Movies
Movie Talk
December 11, 2012

Michael Shannon and Amy AdamsMichael Shannon as Zod and Amy Adams as Lois Lane (Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)This week just got a lot more super as Warner Bros. has unveiled the first full-length trailer for what might now be the most anticipated film of next summer, "Man of Steel."
The trailer continues and expands on the contemplative, mysterious tone of this past summer's teaser trailer, with director Zack Snyder channeling Terrence Malick (who ever would've thought?) in telling the story of an alien stranded on our planet, one struggling with a mighty identity crisis as he comes to terms with his extraordinary abilities -- "super powers" with which he can choose to do either good or evil. Watch the trailer below:
Indeed, it looks like a good portion of "Man of Steel" is going to focus on, well, the man as much as it does the superhero, spending a good amount of screen time on Clark Kent's childhood as he first discovers his gifts (or his curse), with a melancholy Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) concerned that his foster son's acts of super-heroism could make him an outcast -- or worse.
Years later, we see a bearded Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) traveling to the Fortress of Solitude, searching for answers about who he is and where he comes from. He emerges from the structure wearing a certain costume, his back to the camera -- it's a shot that will give you chills, and not just because it takes place in the Arctic (or whatever snowbound location the filmmakers have decided to place Superman's crash pad).
Superman in the Arctic (Photo: Warner Bros)
From there, the Last Son of Krypton takes to the skies, and the trailer's pacing follows suit with a rapid-fire series of images, promising us that "Man of Steel" will have plenty of action sequences to go along with all the existential crises. A lot of things blow up in this movie, and a lot of buildings crumble -- it looks like there are most definitely plenty of jobs for Superman.
Russell Crowe as Jor-El (Photo: Warner Bros)
We also -- finally -- get a look at some of the major players of the supporting cast. There's Russell Crowe as a bearded Jor-El, embracing Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer) as Krypton crumbles around them. There's Amy Adams, as Lois Lane, with her baby blues filled with awe and wonder as the greatest scoop of her career takes her hand. And there's a glimpse of General Zod (Michael Shannon), sporting villainous chin fuzz and a military haircut, no doubt in the midst of some dastardly deed.
Michael Shannon as General Zod (Photo: Warner Bros)
The trailer closes on something of a cliffhanger, as the Man of Steel is taken prisoner by the military (a harrowing image recently released as a new poster for the film) and left wondering whether his foster father was right about the world not being ready for the likes of him. Oh, we most certainly are, Superman.
Amy Adams as Lois Lane (Photo: Warner Bros)
It's a terrific trailer. Yes, you could say Snyder's "Watchmen" also had a terrific trailer but the film itself came up short. But Snyder truly seems to be trying something new with this film, abandoning the hyperstylized action and artificial-looking production design of a lot of his previous efforts in favor of what original "Superman" director Richard Donner once referred to as "verisimilitude." It looks like, for the first time in a very long time, we'll once again believe a man can fly.
See the teaser trailer to 'Man of Steel':
'Man of Steel' Teaser Trailer

Running out the clock on Benghazi

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (Associated Press)
There’s no mystery about why Hillary Rodham Clinton spends so much time on airplanes to dreary places that everybody else avoids like the plague (or the stomach flu). The climate anywhere is better than in the comfortable ineptitude of Foggy Bottom.
The report of an independent panel inquiring into what happened in Benghazi blames the State Department bureaucracy essentially for not having a clue about what was going on in Libya. A panel of diplomats would never say anything like that, but the message written between the lines is plain and clear.
The panel blames intelligence officers — i.e., the CIA — for relying too much on “specific warnings” of imminent attacks, waiting for the details of the enemy’s game plan, and ignoring what should have been telegraphed from the seat of their pants. Everyone in Libya knew that the militias were all over the eastern part of the country, having already shot up a British diplomat’s motorcade and set off a bomb outside the American mission in Benghazi. The evildoers were looking for evil to do. The Americans were the obvious targets.
A lot of people at Foggy Bottom were apparently busy with morning and afternoon siestas. The panel specifically blames the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Bureau and the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau for failing to pay attention to what was going on around them:
“Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels with two bureaus [resulted in security] that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.”
Well, duh. Anyone reading the newspapers or watching television, despite the mainstream media’s determination not to go after the story, knew that much. The panelists did not address the politics of the disaster, or why President Obama and his administration have worked so hard to avoid talking about their bungling and ineptitude, or their subsequent attempt to cover it all up with self-righteous blather.
Forgotten in all this is the obscure and infamous homemade video that nobody saw, mocking the Prophet Muhammad. Mr. Obama, Mrs. Clinton and U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice all got on television as often as they could to blame the video for the attack on the consulate in Benghazi. You might have thought the video was about to ignite World War III. Nobody in the administration wants to talk about those lies and evasions now.
The latest evasion is what happened to Mrs. Clinton’s emphatic assertion, after the row raised by the many skeptics willing to believe their own eyes and ears, that “I take responsibility.” She did not explain what she meant. But taking responsibility requires more than just saying she takes responsibility. Mrs. Rice was then chosen to walk the plank that Hillary had so cleverly avoided. Having women available to take the heat is a tempting prerogative for this president. When Mitt Romney brought up Benghazi in the familiar timid and ham-handed way in the second presidential debate, Candy Crowley, the moderator, ran the usual media interference for Mr. Obama.
Mrs. Clinton, who no doubt has answers to more questions than anyone else — since she is paid to run the State Department — then disappeared. She had more important things to do in Lower Slobbovia. When she returned to redeem a promise to testify before Congress about how the Benghazi debacle happened, she fell ill with the belly bug, no doubt acquired in Lower Slobbovia, a common malady of diplomats suddenly on the spot. Then she fell and got up with a knot on her head. It’s not clear just when Hillary fell, whether before or after the belly bug bit. (We wish her a full and speedy recovery, by the way. Belly bugs are no fun and taking a lick on the head isn’t, either.)
She says she can’t wait to reschedule an appearance in January before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. But by then, with a little luck, we’ll be talking about her successor, probably Sen. John F. Kerry, the famous Vietnam War hero, Francophile and keen windsurfer.
Delay and obfuscation have marked the Obama administration’s reaction to the Benghazi debacle since Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens first begged for the help that never arrived. Four Americans, including the ambassador, paid for the timidity and ineptitude with their lives.
The president and his minions were desperate to run out the clock in October, struggling to stumble across the goal line. Now Hillary is desperate to stall, even if it means an occasional bump on the head, until her successor takes over. The public may never get the promised explanation. Until then, we’re entitled to think the worst. We’ll probably be right.
• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

The Fiscal Cliff and the Middle East
When your dissolute political establishment sinks to the point of being fit for lectures from Chinese Communists on spending restraint, and from erstwhile Soviet revanchists on foreign-affairs modesty, you are at rock bottom. Welcome to Washington.
Remember two summers ago, the depths of the last Beltway debacle on out-of-control borrowing that charted the course for today’s latest Beltway debacle on spending and taxes. It was then that China’s rulers blasted Uncle Santa for our “debt addiction,” our failure to observe “the commonsense principle” that a nation, like a family, must “live within its means.” At the time, U.S. sovereign debt — of which China is, not coincidentally, a major holder — had been downgraded below triple-A for the first time ever.
The Obamedia, fearing that their hero would be irreparably harmed by this signature achievement, reliably promoted a false narrative: Conservative “extremists” were refusing to extend the president’s tapped-out credit line, sending shivers through the bond markets. In reality, the explanation for the downgrade was not the contretemps over the statutory “debt ceiling”; it was the astronomical debt itself. The ceiling was significant only because it occasioned convincing proof that Washington is not serious about addressing our spending crisis. When you are borrowing to pay the interest on prior borrowing, it is time to cut spending — drastically. Washington won’t even consider it. That is what signals to creditors that our “full faith and credit” may not be credible. When you are burning through other people’s money because you’ve already spent your own people’s money for the next few generations, promises to pay are not very reliable.
So dire are our straits that the stated national debt — an obscene $16.4 trillion — does not even begin to reflect the actual national debt, which probably exceeds ten times that amount when unfunded liabilities and bankrupt, bailout-craving states are factored in. The government annually spends over a trillion dollars more than the enormous $2.4 trillion it takes from us in taxes. Structurally, our “mandatory” spending (entitlements plus interest on the accumulated debt) puts us in a perennial deficit hole of $250 billion (and rising fast) before one thin dime is spent on “discretionary” items . . . such as the $700 billion defense budget. You may remember national defense — not wealth-redistribution, health care, or running commercials to recruit new food-stamps recipients — as the reason we actually have a federal government.
Washington’s current “fiscal cliff” farce results inevitably from the craven failure to confront geometrically unsustainable spending. We are already over the cliff. The public has seen fit to reelect as president a hard-nosed movement leftist who revels in chaos. For Obama, spending, which expands his taker-base, can never be high enough, so taxes will always have to rise. Beltway Republican leaders keep mistaking him for a conventional Washington Democrat with whom they can negotiate. But with the wind at his back thanks to his fellow statists in the press corps, Obama keeps pocketing GOP concessions, pushing for more, and relying on the media to depict Republicans as intransigent sentries for the “millionaires and billionaires.”
Last time, Republicans caved on the debt ceiling and joined Democrats in paving a road to hell — the looming explosion of tax hikes and indiscriminate defense cuts — with good intentions: Pushed to this brink, they assumed, the president would have to negotiate reasonably because his self-interest lay in the well-being of the nation. But no, the president’s self-interest is in the transformation of the nation along socialist lines. Diving over the “fiscal cliff” suits him just fine — after all, you can’t have transformation without tumult.
So this time, House conservatives told their leadership, “No.” The conservative punditocracy, which often seems more interested in cheerleading for the GOP than advancing conservative positions, is in something of a snit. Yet the calculation of conservatives who are accountable to an angry, anti-Washington base is simple: It makes little sense to cave on tax hikes, as Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” would have them do, when (a) Obama is offering nothing in return, nothing, on the only issue that matters — spending; (b) raising taxes on the top 1 percent of earners is a populist gimmick that does absolutely nothing to address our crisis; (d) Plan B has zero chance of being enacted; and (c) Obama has the media in his pocket, so it is pointless to take a futile, principle-breaking step in the hope of avoiding political blame — Republicans will be scapegoated regardless of what happens.
There is only one way to deal with a leftist revolutionary like Obama: Take away his credit card. We have again crashed into the debt ceiling. Because Republicans have not caved again on the ceiling as Obama was demanding, they have leverage: The Treasury Department, within a few weeks, will be out of accounting tricks to stave off a shut-down. There will be enough tax money streaming into the till to make bond payments, so — despite media scaremongering to the contrary — our full faith and credit will remain intact. So let Obama figure out how to run Leviathan on $2.4 trillion — which is over half a trillion more than the federal government was spending at the end of the Clinton years that Democrats portray as the golden era of fiscal responsibility.
To shriek over a contrived “fiscal cliff” when we are already immersed in a sea of red ink is foolish — but, alas, no more so than acting out the clinical definition of insanity on the world stage. With reelection secured and all eyes on the “Taxmageddon” drama, Obama is also intervening more directly on behalf of the anti-American Sunni Islamists who seek to topple the despicable, Iranian-backed Assad regime in Syria.
It is remarkable. If there were no Syrian civil war, we would be thumbing our chins, wondering if there were any way to weaken all our enemies by turning them against each other. Syria has done just that. Not only is Assad teetering and Iran being bled; Sunni Islamists are at the throats of Shiite Islamists, Iraq and Turkey are squabbling, a wedge has been driven between Hezbollah and Hamas, and even the PLO is riven as Assad’s supporters in the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine butt heads with the Islamist factions.
All this, and we haven’t had to do a thing except stay out. Now, however, with the usual urging from Washington’s progressive bipartisan phalanx of “Islamic democracy” builders, Obama is openly colluding with Islamist regimes — Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar — to show Assad the door and install the Brotherhood. The administration is hell-bent on creating yet another “Islamic democracy” even as the one it midwifed in Egypt shoves a sharia constitution down the throats of persecuted Copts and other beleaguered minorities.
The president has been helping the Syrian Brotherhood from the sidelines (“leading from behind”) all along. The pretext for his current, stepped-up efforts is the stated fear that Assad will use his inventory of chemical and biological weapons against “his own people” — a euphemism for “Sunni Islamist opposition” that enables the media to skirt the inconvenient fact that Syria’s religious minorities prefer Assad, the devil they know, to the specter of persecution under Brotherhood rule. But there is no more WMD danger than there has ever been — Assad is a rogue, so the fact that he has such weapons has always been a big problem. Moreover, the overthrow of Assad would mean his WMDs end up in the hands either of his Hezbollah allies or his al-Qaeda-affiliated enemies. Those outcomes are even worse for us.
In fact, weapons falling into the wrong hands was precisely the outcome of Obama’s Libya catastrophe. There, the president joined with Sunni Islamists to overthrow a regime that, though unsavory, was cooperating with the United States. The result was jihadists raiding Qaddafi’s high-powered arsenal; the installation of a feckless government that cannot control its tribal and Islamist enclaves; the destabilization of North Africa; and the eventual murder of four Americans, including our ambassador, on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11.
With regard to that latter massacre in Benghazi, a State Department report issued this week could not help but condemn the reckless security lapses even as its authors whitewashed the culpability of Secretary Clinton. They also sidestepped the simple, central questions to which Washington, after three months, cannot produce answers: How and when during the seven-hour terrorist siege did President Obama learn about it, and what orders did he give to mobilize available military assets to protect the Americans who were under attack?
Outside of Washington, the similarities between the mess Obama’s Islamist-empowerment strategy made of Libya and the mess it is likely to make of Syria are not lost, even on such neo-imperialists as Vladimir Putin. At a news conference in Moscow this week, the Russian strongman explained his opposition to military intervention against Assad by pointing to Libya as evidence that such adventures can do more harm than good. Ripping the Obama administration, Putin blamed the killing of Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi on the president’s policy of ousting Qaddafi in favor of a “state that is falling apart” as its “interethnic, inter-clan, and intertribal conflicts continue.”
It should go without saying that Putin is being disingenuous. The Russians, their disclaimers notwithstanding, are aligned with Syria and Iran. Ever the champion of anti-American dictators, they are determined to prop Assad up. Analogously hypocritical, the Chinese who presume to lecture us on debt are themselves close to imploding.
Still, the impurity of their motives does not invalidate their observations. Our debt is a travesty. Our facilitation of the Brotherhood is self-destructive. Those are facts. Washington is so broken that our enemies no longer need to make things up to embarrass us. Rock bottom.
 Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the executive director of the Philadelphia Freedom Center. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, which was published by Encounter Books.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Book review: ‘38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Beginning of the Frontier's End,’ by Scott W. Berg

"38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Beginning of the Frontier's End," by Scott W. Berg 
Abraham Lincoln liked to joke about his three-month service as an Illinois militiaman in the Black Hawk War in 1832. “I had a good many bloody struggles with the mosquitoes,” he said. But his next Indian conflict, 30 years later, was no laughing matter.
Lincoln’s role in the Dakota War in Minnesota, a conflict shrouded to invisibility by the cannon smoke and tumult of the Civil War, is central to Scott Berg’s superb reconstruction of a six-week struggle that began with a broken treaty and ended with the greatest mass execution in American annals. The “little war,” not little to the 200 combatants killed in the fighting, marked the unfolding of a momentous series of Indian-white hostilities to come.
Of this, Berg makes a substantial case that Custer’s downfall at the Little Bighorn in 1876, the killing of Crazy Horse in Nebraska in 1877, and the murders at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota in 1890, can all be traced back to Aug. 17, 1862, to the tent of Little Crow, chief of the Mdewakanton Dakota people of Minnesota.
This man, incisively portrayed by the author, was about 52 at the time of the war, an educated, articulate and astute leader who had survived smallpox epidemics as well as the virulent xenophobia of the whites with whom he had “treatied, traded, hunted, and politicked.” After the thinning out of the fur trade in their homelands, Little Crow agreed to move his Dakota band to a reservation near the Minnesota River in exchange for a government dole that promised food and cash annuities to the tribe.
The brutal winter of 1861, a failed crop and delayed federal payments resulted in a predictable response. After a turbulent meeting involving Little Crow and his tribal council in mid-August 1862, young Dakota warriors ran amok through the white settlements, killing a farmer and his family, attacking a trading post and committing other depredations.
Native Minnesotan Berg has created graphic descriptions of the war’s three armed engagements, all occurring in late August. Two of the fights took place at New Ulm, a town of 900 settlers in the southern border area of the then 4-year-old state. The third was fought at Fort Ridgley, the single military post close to the Dakota reservation. By the end of September, the Indians had surrendered, Little Crow had escaped into Canada, and 303 of the Dakotas, quickly tried and found guilty of the murder of civilians (and in a few cases, of rape), were sentenced to death.
The drama of Berg’s narrative, and the clarity of the writing, is exemplified by his account of the last act of this affair in which President Lincoln was obliged to turn away momentarily from the grinding problems of the great war to resolve an issue of the small war just ended.
In that fall of 1862, Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had crossed the Potomac to invade Maryland and the appalling carnage of Antietam was fought on Sept. 17. On the 22nd, with Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, and other fiery abolitionists relentlessly badgering him, the president issued the preliminary version of his Emancipation Proclamation.
And, in the midst of such epochal events, the president had to attend to the problem of the 303 condemned men huddled in a wooden shed in the town of Mankato while a drumbeat of revenge boomed throughout Minnesota.
38 Nooses is an imposing work, a moving story of an event enveloped within the most calamitous four years in American annals, and a book proving that obscure does not translate to unimportant when applied to events in history.
Dale L. Walker of El Paso is author of many historical books and biographies.
38 Nooses
Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Beginning of the Frontier’s End
Scott W. Berg
(Pantheon, $27.95)

Vain search for meaning in massacre

The Orange County Register
2012-12-21 12:19:26
"Lullay, Thou little tiny Child
By by, lully, lullay..."

The 16th-century Coventry Carol, a mother's lament for her lost son, is the only song of the season about the other children of Christmas – the first-born of Bethlehem, slaughtered on Herod's orders after the Magi brought him the not-so-glad tidings that an infant of that city would grow up to be King of the Jews. As Matthew tells it, even in a story of miraculous birth, in the midst of life is death. The Massacre of the Innocents loomed large over the Christian imagination: in Rubens' two renderings, he fills the canvas with spear-wielding killers, wailing mothers and dead babies, a snapshot, one assumes, of the vaster, bloodier body count beyond the frame. Then a century ago the Catholic Encyclopedia started digging into the numbers. The estimated population of Bethlehem at that time was around a thousand, which would put the toll of first-born sons under the age of 2 murdered by King Herod at approximately 20 – or about the same number of dead children as one school shooting on a December morning in Connecticut. "Every man a king," promised Huey Long. And, if it doesn't quite work out like that, well, every man his own Herod.


Had my child been among the dead of Dec. 14, I don't know that I would ever again trust the contours of the world. The years go by, and you're sitting in a coffee shop with a neighbor, and out of the corner of your eye a guy walks in who looks a little goofy and is maybe muttering to himself: Is he just a harmless oddball – or the prelude to horror? The bedrock of life has been shattered, and ever after you're walking on a wobbling carpet with nothing underneath. For a parent to bury a child offends against the natural order – at least in an age that has conquered childhood mortality. For a parent to bury a child at Christmas taints the day forever, and mocks its meaning.
For those untouched by death this Christmas, someone else's bewildering, shattering turn of fate ought to occasion a little modesty and circumspection. Instead, even by its usual execrable standards, the public discourse post-Newtown has been stupid and contemptible. The Left now seizes on every atrocity as a cudgel to beat whatever happens to be the Right's current hottest brand: Tucson, Arizona, was something to do with Sarah Palin's use of metaphor and other common literary devices – or "toxic rhetoric," as Paul Krugman put it; Aurora, Colorado, was something to do with the Tea Party, according to Brian Ross of ABC News. Since the humiliations of November, the Right no longer has any hot brands, so this time round the biens pensants have fallen back on "gun culture." Dimwit hacks bandy terms like "assault weapon," "assault rifle," "semi-automatic" and "automatic weapon" in endlessly interchangeable but ever more terrifying accumulations of high-tech state-of-the-art killing power. As the comedian Andy Borowitz tweeted, "When the 2nd Amendment was written the most lethal gun available was the musket."
Actually, the semiautomatic is a 19th century technology, first produced in 1885. That's just under half-a-century after the death of Madison, the Second Amendment's author, and rather nearer to the Founding Fathers' time than our own. And the founders were under fewer illusions about the fragility of society than Hollywood funnymen: on July 25, 1764, four Lenape Indians walked into a one-room schoolhouse in colonial Pennsylvania and killed Enoch Brown and ten of his pupils. One child survived, scalped and demented to the end of his days.
Nor am I persuaded by the Right's emphasis on pre-emptive mental-health care. It's true that, if your first reaction on hearing breaking news of this kind is to assume the perpetrator is a male dweeb in his early twenties with poor socialization skills, you're unlikely to be wrong. But, in a society with ever fewer behavioral norms, who's to say what's odd? On 9/11, the agent at the check-in desk reckoned Mohammed Atta and his chums were a bit strange but banished the thought as shameful and discriminatory. In a politically correct world, vigilance is a fool's errand. The US Airways cabin crew who got the "flying imams" bounced from a Minneapolis plane for flamboyantly, intimidatingly wacky behavior (praying loudly, fanning out to occupy all the exit rows, asking for seatbelt extenders they didn't need) wound up in sensitivity-training hell. If a lesbian thinks dragging your wife around in a head-to-toe body-bag is kinda weird, she's being "Islamophobic." If a Muslim thinks taking breast hormones and amputating your penis is a little off, he's "transphobic." These very terms make the point that, in our society, finding somebody else odd is itself a form of mental illness. In an unmoored age, what's not odd? Once upon a time, TV viewers from distant states descending on a Connecticut town to attend multiple funerals of children they don't know might have struck some of us as, at best, unseemly and, at worst, deeply creepy – a Feast of the Holy Innocents, so to speak.
OK, what about restricting it to wishing murderous ill upon someone? In her own response to the Sandy Hook slaughter, the novelist Joyce Carol Oates tweeted that hopes for gun control would be greatly advanced "if sizable numbers of NRA members become gun-victims." Who's to know when violent fantasies on social media prefigure a loner getting ready to mow down the kindergarten or just a critically acclaimed liberal novelist amusing her friends before the PEN Awards cocktail party? As it is, in American schools, mental-health referral for "oppositional defiance disorder" and the like is a bureaucratic coding racket designed to access federal gravy. Absent widely accepted cultural enforcers, any legislative reforms would quickly decay into just another capricious boondoggle.
It would not be imprudent to expect that an ever-broker America, with more divorce, fewer fathers, the abolition of almost all social restraints and a revoltingly desensitized culture, will produce more young men who fall through the cracks. But, in the face of murder as extraordinarily wicked as that of Newtown, we should know enough to pause before reaching for our usual tired tropes. So I will save my own personal theories, no doubt as ignorant and irrelevant as everybody else's, until after Christmas – except to note that the media's stampede for meaning in massacre this past week overlooks the obvious: that the central meaning of these acts is that they are without meaning. Herod and the Pennsylvania Indians murdered children in pursuit of crude political goals; the infanticidal maniac of Sandy Hook was merely conscripting grade-school extras for a hollow act of public suicide. Like most mass shootings, his was an exercise in hyper-narcissism – 19th century technology in the service of a very contemporary sensibility.
Meanwhile, the atheists have put up a new poster in Times Square: Underneath a picture of Santa, "Keep the Merry"; underneath a picture of Christ, "Dump the Myth." But in our time even Christians have dumped a lot of the myth while keeping the merry: Jesus, lambs, shepherds, yes; the slaughtered innocents of Bethlehem, kind of a downer. If the Christmas story is a myth, it's a perfectly constructed one, rooting the Savior's divinity in the miracle of His birth but unblinkered, in Matthew's account of Herod's response, about man's darker impulses:
"Then woe is me
Poor Child, for Thee
And ever mourn and may
For Thy parting
Nor say nor sing
By by, lully, lullay."

'Zero Dark Thirty': One of the Best Films of the Year

By John Boot
PJ Media
December 20, 2012

YouTube Preview Image
Zero Dark Thirty marks a cinematic breakthrough into the realm of journalism. Just a year and a half after the Navy SEAL assault that brought Osama bin Laden’s life to a bloody conclusion, The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow has brought the story to the screen, using extensive research and aid from the White House. President Obama evidently thought this film, which has a gripping documentary feel, would be released before the election and make him look good, but it turns out he was wrong on both counts. Zero Dark Thirty (military slang for the wee hours of the morning when the attack took place) makes Obama appear somewhere between irrelevant and counterproductive in the intelligence mission that led to Bin Laden’s demise.
Young star Jessica Chastain, who last year got an Oscar nomination for The Help, gives another awards-caliber performance as a 30-year-old CIA agent named Maya who has spent 12 years tracking Bin Laden, ever since she was recruited out of high school. At CIA black sites in Pakistan and Afghanistan, she actively participates in brutal interrogation techniques including forced sleep deprivation, beatings and waterboarding. These procedures are shown as essential to learning of the existence of a courier, Abu Ahmed, whose trail would eventually lead to Bin Laden’s fortress-like lair in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
President Obama is referred to obliquely as someone who demands factual certainty (without which, it is implied, he won’t give the go-ahead for the assault, which is worrisome enough) but doesn’t appear in the film except in a clip from a real-life news program. In the clip, Obama is shown disavowing torture, which would seem to pose a major obstacle to the CIA agents watching him on television. They know too well that meddling from politicians who have no idea how difficult it is to obtain intelligence from career terrorists could easily nullify their efforts. Obama comes off looking like a weak, oblivious fool who places his own preening above the national interest. Like I said: This movie is practically a documentary.
Bigelow’s film does have a few problematic aspects. Every so often the script (by Mark Boal) gives Maya some Rambo-like lines that ring false. At a high-level meeting with a senior-level intelligence executive played by James Gandolfini, she introduces herself to the suits by shouting, “I’m the motherf—er who found that,” meaning Bin Laden’s hideaway. At another point, she tells Navy SEAL Team Six that she has found Bin Laden and “You’re going to kill him for me.” If Maya, or a Maya-like figure, told the SEALS that in reality, I have a feeling they laughed in her face and said something like, “Thanks little lady, but we’re going to kill him for God and country, and for us, not for you.”
Another failing of the movie is that the SEALS don’t enter into it until the last 45 minutes. The raid is depicted viscerally, using the look of night-vision goggles that practically put us into the helmets of the assault squad, but the SEALS don’t receive their proper due. They come across as highly trained professionals, about whom we know next to nothing as individuals. Nor does Bigelow show the intensive training and preparation work that must have gone into the raid; she is far more interested in the Maya character than in the courageous men who actually took down Bin Laden. We’ll have to wait for another movie to give SEAL Team Six the starring role it deserves.
Still, the overall impact of Zero Dark Thirty renders its weaker points forgivable. Bigelow, who was an action-movie director before she ventured into Oscar bait movies, keeps the pace thrumming so that the two-and-a-half-hour running time doesn’t seem like a long sit. And she made a fairly courageous choice not to appease Hollywood’s left-wing Oscar voters by including any pious speeches about the morality behind the CIA’s rough interrogation procedures. What she shows is for the most part a totally believable recreation of how the CIA found out about the courier, how they tracked him down (using such clever schemes as obtaining his mother’s phone number in Kuwait from a degenerate Arab party boy who traded the number for a yellow Lamborghini) and how they found him (by tracing his cell phone in Pakistan). Each step of this procedural thriller is shown with the kind of you-are-there intensity that makes Zero Dark Thirty one of the best pictures of the year. That the story is true makes the movie even more essential.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

For Camille Paglia, the Spiritual Quest Defines All Great Art

For one critic, the dearth of spiritualism in art is a problem of biblical proportions.

The art world is in spiritual crisis—it has not had a new idea in years. So argues the cultural critic and feminist provocateur Camille Paglia in her new book, Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art From Egypt to Star Wars. The book—intended as a companion piece to her 2005 volume of poetry criticism, Break, Blow, Burn—is a slim survey of Western art in 29 essays, each focusing on a single work of art. The works include the idols of Cyclades (circa 3500­–2300 B.C.), Bernini’s Chair of Saint Peter (circa 1647–53), Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), and some surprises—like the Star Wars film Revenge of the Sith by George Lucas. The format of the book, Paglia explains in her introduction, is based on Catholic breviaries of devotional images, “like mass cards of the saints.” Recently I spent an afternoon with Paglia at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where we spoke about her new book, religion, and the state of art and culture today.
Camille Paglia
“If you are an artist and you don’t recognize the name of Moses,” Paglia says, “then the West is dead. It’s over. It has committed suicide.” (Misa Martin / KRT-Newscom)
For Paglia, the spiritual quest defines all great art—all art that lasts. But in our secular age, the liberal crusade against religion has also taken a toll on art. “Sneering at religion is juvenile, symptomatic of a stunted imagination,” Paglia writes. “Yet that cynical posture has become de rigueur in the art world—simply another reason for the shallow derivativeness of so much contemporary art, which has no big ideas left.” Historically the great art of the West has had religious themes, either explicit or implicit. “The Bible, the basis for so much great art, moves deeper than anything coming out of the culture today,” Paglia says. As a result of its spiritual bankruptcy, art is losing its prominence in our culture. “Art makes news today,” she writes, “only when a painting is stolen or auctioned at a record price.”
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As a professor of liberal studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she has spent her academic career teaching future artists, Paglia has seen this crisis of the art world unfold firsthand. Winding her way through the corridors of the Philadelphia museum, stopping occasionally to marvel at an ancient Roman bust or a medieval depiction of the Virgin and child, she tells me two stories.
In the late 1980s Paglia taught an introductory art-history course called Arts and Civilization to freshmen. When it came time to cover the Renaissance, Paglia decided to introduce her students to Michelangelo’s two-part panel from the Sistine Chapel ceiling, Temptation and Expulsion From the Garden. After Paglia’s lecture on this scene from the Book of Genesis, a student approached the professor. In Paglia’s telling, this student “cheerfully said that she was so happy to learn about that because she had always heard about Adam and Eve but never knew what they referred to!”
More recently, in the early 2000s, Paglia was teaching a course that she founded in the 1980s, Art of Song Lyrics, which was directed at musicians and included a spiritual called “Go Down, Moses.” But she said few recognized who Moses was or knew his story well. “If you are an artist and you don’t recognize the name of Moses,” she says, “then the West is dead. It’s over. It has committed suicide.”
More than 20 years ago, Paglia took another journey through art in her breakout book Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson. It launched her career as an irrepressible and politically incorrect cultural critic who was suddenly everywhere on the media circuit, speaking on topics ranging from Madonna and Elizabeth Taylor to date rape and educational reform. In the book, Paglia argued that Western culture has been a succession of shifting sexual personae (Mona Lisa is the original dominatrix; Dickinson was Amherst’s Madame de Sade). The book contained all the Paglia hallmarks: an infatuation with sex and beauty, strong prose, and an evisceration of feminism. Needless to say, Sexual Personae raised hackles and branded Paglia as the enfant terrible of academia and feminism.
That was then. While she is still more than willing to dig into what is left of the feminist movement—“feminism today is anti-intellectual” and “defined by paranoia,” she says—these days, she directs the venom of her sharp tongue to the dogmatic champions of secularism, liberals who narrow-mindedly dismiss religion and God. There is one, in particular, whom she cannot stand: the late Christopher Hitchens—like her, a libertarian-minded atheist. The key difference between the two is that he despised religion and God while Paglia respects both and thinks they are funda­mental to Western culture and art. Paglia calls Hitchens “a sybaritic narcissist committed to no real ideas outside his personal advancement.”
Paglia’s problem with Hitchens reflects her larger concern about the state of art and culture. The arts world’s dismissal of religion, which came to a head in the 1980s and 1990s in the controversies over sacrilege, turned baiting Christianity into a litmus test of being avant-garde. “Nothing is more hackneyed than the liberal dogma that shock value confers automatic importance on an artwork,” she writes in her new book. In rushing to defend third-rate works like Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ (1987) and Chris Ofili’s The Holy Virgin Mary (1996), the art establishment backed itself into a partisan corner from which it has been unable to emerge. Thanks to this, many Americans consider the art world to be snobbish, effete, and debased. Paglia’s mission in Glittering Images is to change how ordinary Americans think of art. “Because of the spiritual hollowness of the art world, I wanted to show in my book that art is about the spiritual quest.” Paglia, the mother of a 10-year-old boy, is particularly concerned about the state of arts education among the youth. Few learn about art in their public schools, where religious themes are off-limits. “My aim,” she tells me, “was to write a slim book that would appeal to young people. I wanted to reach people who have never opened an art book in their lives.”
To that end she structures the book strategically: In the first part, she leads readers through a series of classic works of art—crowd pleasers—like theCharioteer of Delphi (circa 475 B.C.), Titian’s Venus With a Mirror (circa 1555), and Monet’s Irises (1900), hoping to gain the readers’ confidence. Then she introduces more difficult abstract and experimental works, like Jackson Pollock’s Green Silver (circa 1949), in an effort to show readers that these are equally beautiful and mystical. “These abstract artists are spiritual seekers,” she says. One of the highlights of Glittering Images is Paglia’s ability to capture the transcendental meaning of the more recent works, like Walter De Maria’s The Lightning Field (1977). Is that lightning bolt cutting through the sky the wrath of God, Paglia wonders, or a flash of divine and artistic revelation?
If the great artists are all spiritual seekers, then contemplating great art is, to Paglia, a religious experience. “This,” she tells me, referring to the museum with open arms, “is my church.” And Paglia is looking for converts. As she writes in Glittering Images, “A society that forgets art risks losing its soul.”

Lindisfarne To Sandy Hook: The Tragedy of Wishful Thinking

By Richard F. Miniter
December 19, 2023

I pull up in front of our town's little savings bank branch, drop out of the door and when my boots hit the pavement reach under my shirt and the remove the Smith & Wesson Model 28 .357 which I then put under the seat before locking the truck.  "What are you doing Grandpa?" my granddaughter asks walking around from the other door. 
"Here's a word of advice cupcake.  It's never a good idea to walk into a bank with a gun."
I don't always carry it.  It's a big piece of iron but it's the same gun I carried long ago as a police officer, I'm very comfortable with it and sometimes I get a feeling when about to leave the house and after a moment's hesitation, take it along.  And that day was one of those.
The next stop after the bank was her school and when we walked in together I left it locked up under the seat again.  Not because I was worried about violating the Federal Gun Free School Zones Act because, and while most school teachers and administrators don't understand this, there are exceptions and I'm one.  Instead I left the gun under the seat because I would give those school teachers and administrators the vapors if they even suspected I was armed.  Guns are evil most of them seem to feel.  Not only mine.  The guns of the police they'd summon to their aid are bad too.  The make believe guns boys play cowboy with are bad too, even the gun a second grader might pencil in when drawing a picture of an "army man" is evil.  It's a key tenet of their wishful thinking. 
And a very strange brand of wishful thinking it is.  Because instead of hoping for something to come their way, they're wishing for nothing to happen.  Its symbol might be a monkey with it hands over its eyes because it's principal doctrine is that if you can't see any evil, refuse to see any evil, then it doesn't exist.  Of course it's only a variation of the old notion that if you don't look a lion in the eye he won't charge.  But it's what these people believe.  Which is why that school, like many other schools run by similar believers once prohibited any discussion of 9/11, any videotapes, photographs or indeed any reference to it at all.  Again if you don't see evil or don't learn about it, talk it out, try to learn the lessons it teaches you, then it doesn't exist, won't have any power over you.  Can't.
Without any evidence at all that they're right, indeed in the face of any number of horrible examples proving them wrong, they cling to this belief.  Because on some level they believe they want to convince themselves that they're "better than that", better than Beslan, better than Columbine, better than those awful images of people jumping from the twin towers.  That they're different somehow.  Special.
Which means that they will not suffer armed fathers or grandfathers around children as it "sends the wrong message."
And so I leave the gun under the seat.
But educators should know something about history.  Because this is an old story and has its roots in a tragedy every bit as compelling as Sandy Hook School.  The story of Lindisfarne.
An island connected to northern England's coast by a tidal causeway.  A holy place, in fact its name today is Holy Island and 1300 years ago it was Christendom's most prominent experiment with what we today would call a Gun Free School Zone.  But what happened there should have proved for all time that covering one's eyes, pretending that demons don't exist, that you're somehow "better than that", is worse than futile.  Criminally worse.
Lindisfarne was a monastery, renowned for its non-violence, dedicated to learning, to the idea that in the tumult of the early Middle Ages, man could, should be, was "better than that."  Gloriously "better than that."  And for a while people believed along with them in this "right message" and endowed Lindisfarne with riches, sang its praises in ten thousand churches.
Its ruins today are still a beacon atop a spire of high rock, surmounted by sheer stone walls, far above the everyday concerns of this world.
But they are ruins because one dark in the eighth century Lindisfarne's rock and walls were scaled by Vikings holding their swords in their mouths.  Demons out of the northern seas who chased the unarmed monks from room to room in the monastery, butchering them for sport, sacking their golden altar and trampling their precious books underfoot.  An event which shook Christendom to its core.
Why did it happen?  Quite simply because the killers were drawn by the defenselessness of the place, by Lindisfarne's "right message", by the fact that Lindisfarne abjured violence and trusted as school administrators trust today, in never looking the lion in the eye.
Above all by the fact that Lindisfarne would not suffer the presence of armed men who might defend it.
Today most of us don't even remember that there once was such a place.  Even though we keep repeating the same mistake it made.  We don't remember what we should have learned then; that weakness will, sooner or later, summon horror. 
As Adam Lanza was summoned to Sandy Hook School.
Chose the one target where he had the best chance of not encountering armed citizens, a gun-free school zone.  Just as the Vikings didn't choose to assault one of the many fortified castles chock a block with armed men elsewhere on the coast but instead chose Lindisfarne.  Just as Eric Harris and Dyland Klebold didn't choose a gun show to assault, a rodeo, a police station but instead chose Columbine.
I'm not certain what the solution is.  No one wants schools to become armed camps with sandbagged revetments, passwords and barbed wire.  Besides the evil one is a liar painted with many tongues and so the monsters who wish to kill children often adopt other techniques.   Walter Seifert in Cologne Germany constructed a flame thrower he put to use through an elementary school's windows burning to death eight students, two teachers and horribly maiming many others.  You have the three men who buried an entire school bus load of children in California.  You have poisoners, knife wielding maniacs, stranglers, bombers, kidnappers and pedophile killers. 
Instead it strikes me that any solution has to be rooted in natural affinity.   The relationship of parent to child, neighbor to neighbor, grandparent to grandchild.  Not in the fatuous belief that stone hearted killers will obey the resolutions of school boards, the acts of Congress or indeed do anything but laugh at any amount of wishful thinking.
In this vein there is an interesting sidebar to the Revolutionary War.  That fact that while the British and the Tories and Indians found it relatively easy to break our militia in the open and massacre them, the same militia could not be defeated in the woods.  The reason was that when the militia couldn't see their officers, let alone listen to them tell them where to stand, neighbors, fathers, sons, cousins and uncles broke ranks and gathered together.  And after the battle had been joined wouldn't leave each other.  Wouldn't desert their wounded son or their neighbor's body and so the British found them impossible to budge.
Considering this point one might recall that at Columbine there were no such bonds which could gather and stop Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.  Nor was one considered necessary.  Instead there were only rules grounded in a lot of wishful thinking.  Rules which Eric Harris and Dyland Klebold ignored and so despite a surplus of bravery among individual teachers and students, there was an armed sheriff's deputy on duty who heard the first shots and didn't run towards them as he would have if they were his children.  There was the school principal clueless about the murderers, who couldn't recall Eric Harris and Dyland Klebold student walking the halls in black trench coats in the days prior to the killings and threatening other students.  We can believe his testimony or not but one thing we know for sure is that he wasn't looking for any lions to stare down.  Finally there were the despicable parents of Eric Harris and Dyland Klebold who ignored or were oblivious to the collection of weapons.  Mothers and fathers in authority over their children who simply wished nothing bad would happen.
And so the concept of a gun free school zone established by authority turned out to be as much of a joke at Columbine as it was the other day in Newtown, Connecticut.  Just as the same idea was shown a farce at Lindisfarne 1300 years ago.
But yet, these children have fathers and numbered among them men who will protect their children and know how to do it.
Now I understand that public education today is a determinedly feminine institution.  But they have tremendous leeway under the law and so one thing they school administrators and teachers might consider doing is admit the fact that they have no more idea on how to physically defend children than they do about how to build a space shuttle with their second grade paper doll scissors.  But among the parents of their pupils are many men who do have that experience and training.  Former or current police officers, soldiers and Marines.  People who've been shot at and who've shot. Had to winkle armed men out of a closed room and take them down.  Men who will deter evil by their presence.
So for once why can't some hapless school administrator call them in?  Ask them what they would do to keep these children safe?  Their children safe.  And then heed what they say.
Do what they say.
It is all so sad.  But the bullet ridden bodies of those little angels and angelic teachers in Newtown should show us that wishful thinking won't work, has never worked and will never work. 
If it did, we'd only have to wish those children back.
Wouldn't we?
Richard F. Miniter is a former local Chief-Of-Police and the author of THE THINGS I WANT MOSTThe Extraordinary Journey Of A Boy To A Family Of His Own, BDD, Random House.  He can be reached at

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Robert H. Bork, 1927-2012

Posted By Roger Kimball On December 19, 2012 @ 5:16 am In Uncategorized | 32 Comments
PJ Media
Judge Robert H. Bork, one of the the greatest jurists this country has ever produced, died early this morning from heart complications in a Virginia hospital near his home. He was 85.
Bork was a national celebrity. Several years ago, my wife and I visited the Borks in Maine where they had taken a summer house off Somes Sound. I cannot count the times that total strangers would approach us at a lobster shack or park asking to shake the Judge’s hand and to assure him of their admiration and support.
Bork’s celebrity was only partly  conferred upon him by brilliant legal work and his service as solicitor general and then acting attorney general in the tumultuous Watergate years of the Nixon administration. (Andrew McCarthy wrote an excellent summary of Judge Bork’s work in The New Criterion a few years ago: “Robert H. Bork on Law and Life [1].”) But by far the most important fuel for fame was the riveting, not to say obscene, attack upon his candidacy for the Supreme Court in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan.
The vicious campaign waged against Judge Bork set a new low—possibly never exceeded—in the exhibition of unbridled leftist venom, indeed hate.  Reporters combed through the Borks trash hoping to find compromising tidbits; they inspected his movie rentals, and were disgusted to find the films of John Wayne liberally represented.  So hysterical was the campaign against Judge Bork that a new transitive verb entered our political vocabulary: “To Bork,” scruple at nothing in order to discredit and defeat a political figure. Monsieur Guillotine gave his name to that means of execution; “progressives,” those leftists haters of America who have so disfigured our national life since the 1960s, gave us the this new form of character assassination.  The so-called “Lion of the Senate,” Ted Kennedy, surely one of the most despicable men ever to hold high public office in the United States (yes, that’s saying something), stood on the Senate floor and emitted a series of calumnious  lies designed not simply to prevent Judge Bork from being appointed to the Supreme Court but to soil his character irretrievably. “Robert Bork’s America,” quoth Kennedy,
 is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit down at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector of the individual rights that are the heart of democracy.
A breathtaking congeries of falsehoods that, were they not protected by the prerogatives of senatorial privilege, would have taken a conspicuous place in the annals of malicious slander and character assassination. In The Tempting of America, Judge Bork recounts his incredulity at this tissue of malign fabrication. “It had simply never occurred to me that anybody could misrepresent my career and views as Kennedy did.” At the time, he notes, many people thought that Kennedy had blundered by emitting so flagrant, and flagrantly untrue, an attack. They were wrong. His “calculated personal assault, . . . more violent than any against a judicial nominee in our country’s history,” did the job (with a little help from Joe Biden [2] and Arlen Specter [3]). Not only was Kennedy instrumental in preventing a great jurist from taking his place on the Supreme Court, he also contributed immeasurably to the cheapening of American political discourse.
In a way, Robert Bork had the last laugh.  Ted Kennedy went to his grave a rancid, lumbering, pathetic laughing stock. Bork went from intellectual triumph to intellectual triumph, contributing now-classic studies to the library of legal understanding and penning two of the most important works of social criticism of the last several decades, the aofrementioned Tempting of America [4] and Slouching Toward Gemorrah [5], wild bestsellers both. I am proud to say that this spring Encounter Books will be publishing a memoir by Judge Bork calledSaving Justice: Watergate,. The Saturday Night Massacre, and Other  Adventures of a Solicitor General [6].
Bob Bork was a great American and a dear friend, witty, compassionate, with a laser-like analytical mind and compendious store of cultural reference.  (It was he who introduced me to John Buchan’s marvelous memoir Memory, Hold the Door [7].) I will have more to say about Bob and his achievement in due course.  For now, I wish merely to register my gratitude for his friendship, admiration of his work, and sorrow at his passing.  Requiescat in pace.

We know how to stop school shootings

By Ann Coulter
December 19, 2012

In the wake of a monstrous crime like a madman's mass murder of defenseless women and children at the Newtown, Conn., elementary school, the nation's attention is riveted on what could have been done to prevent such a massacre.

Luckily, some years ago, two famed economists, William Landes at the University of Chicago and John Lott at Yale, conducted a massive study of multiple victim public shootings in the United States between 1977 and 1995 to see how various legal changes affected their frequency and death toll.

Landes and Lott examined many of the very policies being proposed right now in response to the Connecticut massacre: waiting periods and background checks for guns, the death penalty and increased penalties for committing a crime with a gun.

None of these policies had any effect on the frequency of, or carnage from, multiple-victim shootings. (I note that they did not look at reforming our lax mental health laws, presumably because the ACLU is working to keep dangerous nuts on the street in all 50 states.)

Only one public policy has ever been shown to reduce the death rate from such crimes: concealed-carry laws.

Their study controlled for age, sex, race, unemployment, retirement, poverty rates, state population, murder arrest rates, violent crime rates, and on and on.

The effect of concealed-carry laws in deterring mass public shootings was even greater than the impact of such laws on the murder rate generally.

Someone planning to commit a single murder in a concealed-carry state only has to weigh the odds of one person being armed. But a criminal planning to commit murder in a public place has to worry that anyone in the entire area might have a gun.

You will notice that most multiple-victim shootings occur in "gun-free zones" -- even within states that have concealed-carry laws: public schools, churches, Sikh temples, post offices, the movie theater where James Holmes committed mass murder, and the Portland, Ore., mall where a nut starting gunning down shoppers a few weeks ago.

Guns were banned in all these places. Mass killers may be crazy, but they're not stupid.

If the deterrent effect of concealed-carry laws seems surprising to you, that's because the media hide stories of armed citizens stopping mass shooters. At the Portland shooting, for example, no explanation was given for the amazing fact that the assailant managed to kill only two people in the mall during the busy Christmas season.

It turns out, concealed-carry-holder Nick Meli hadn't noticed that the mall was a gun-free zone. He pointed his (otherwise legal) gun at the shooter as he paused to reload, and the next shot was the attempted mass murderer killing himself. (Meli aimed, but didn't shoot, because there were bystanders behind the shooter.)

In a nonsense "study" going around the Internet right now, Mother Jones magazine claims to have produced its own study of all public shootings in the last 30 years and concludes: "In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun."

This will come as a shock to people who know something about the subject.

The magazine reaches its conclusion by simply excluding all cases where an armed civilian stopped the shooter: They looked only at public shootings where four or more people were killed, i.e., the ones where the shooter wasn't stopped.

If we care about reducing the number of people killed in mass shootings, shouldn't we pay particular attention to the cases where the aspiring mass murderer was prevented from getting off more than a couple rounds?

It would be like testing the effectiveness of weed killers, but refusing to consider any cases where the weeds died.

In addition to the Portland mall case, here are a few more examples excluded by the Mother Jones' methodology:

-- Mayan Palace Theater, San Antonio, Texas, this week: Jesus Manuel Garcia shoots at a movie theater, a police car and bystanders from the nearby China Garden restaurant; as he enters the movie theater, guns blazing, an armed off-duty cop shoots Garcia four times, stopping the attack. Total dead: Zero.

-- Winnemucca, Nev., 2008: Ernesto Villagomez opens fire in a crowded restaurant; concealed carry permit-holder shoots him dead. Total dead: Two. (I'm excluding the shooters' deaths in these examples.)

-- Appalachian School of Law, 2002: Crazed immigrant shoots the dean and a professor, then begins shooting students; as he goes for more ammunition, two armed students point their guns at him, allowing a third to tackle him. Total dead: Three.

-- Santee, Calif., 2001: Student begins shooting his classmates -- as well as the "trained campus supervisor"; an off-duty cop who happened to be bringing his daughter to school that day points his gun at the shooter, holding him until more police arrive. Total dead: Two.

-- Pearl High School, Mississippi, 1997: After shooting several people at his high school, student heads for the junior high school; assistant principal Joel Myrick retrieves a .45 pistol from his car and points it at the gunman's head, ending the murder spree. Total dead: Two.

-- Edinboro, Pa., 1998: A student shoots up a junior high school dance being held at a restaurant; restaurant owner pulls out his shotgun and stops the gunman. Total dead: One.

By contrast, the shootings in gun-free zones invariably result in far higher casualty figures -- Sikh temple, Oak Creek, Wis. (six dead); Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va. (32 dead); Columbine High School, Columbine, Colo. (12 dead); Amish school, Lancaster County, Pa. (five little girls killed); public school, Craighead County, Ark. (five killed, including four little girls).

All these took place in gun-free zones, resulting in lots of people getting killed -- and thereby warranting inclusion in the Mother Jones study.

If what we care about is saving the lives of innocent human beings by reducing the number of mass public shootings and the deaths they cause, only one policy has ever been shown to work: concealed-carry laws. On the other hand, if what we care about is self-indulgent grandstanding, and to hell with dozens of innocent children being murdered in cold blood, try the other policies.