Friday, July 20, 2018

Review: ‘The Equalizer 2' proves Denzel Washington waited for the right time to make his first sequel

By Kenneth Turan
July 19, 2018

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It starts with the character Washington plays and what the actor brings to it, but it extends to the nature of the plot and story created by the veteran Richard Wenk, who also wrote the first "Equalizer" inspired by the 1980s TV show.
Robert McCall (Washington) presents himself to all and sundry as a modest, cap-wearing Boston Lyft driver given to solitude and the reading of books, with authors such as Ta-Nehisi Coates and Marcel Proust getting pride of place. But the reality of his life is considerably different.

A onetime shadowy government agent with unmatched combat skills, McCall has taken advantage of the fact that his former bosses think he's dead to do a very particular kind of good in the world.

The loneliest and deadliest of lone wolf vigilantes, McCall is an avenger who hides his lethal abilities under that bookworm demeanor, someone who doesn't want to be thanked or even known for the wrongs he's righted. When someone uses the phrase "the wrath of God," they might as well be talking about him.

Indisputably one of America's best actors, Washington clearly enjoyed playing this character in the first "Equalizer," but it’s a mark of his dedication to craft that he's not been content with leaving well enough alone.

Instead, the actor has thrown himself more intensely into the role, using his superb gravitas and credibility to elevate and enlarge the character while still allowing McCall to be human enough for us to worry about his safety, death-dealing skills notwithstanding.

In this he's helped by the nature of Wenk's plot, which deals with questions of the morality of violence and has the shrewd idea of making the battles that McCall fights personal in a way they have not been before.

As was the case with the first film, "Equalizer 2" is in no hurry to get to the heart of the matter. The story's essence reveals itself gradually as the film takes time to bring those new to the character up to speed on who McCall is and what he can do.

The opening sequence takes place out of the country, on a train in rural Turkey where McCall, disguised as an imam complete with luxuriant beard, teaches a miscreant a lesson after imparting a bit of personal philosophy: "There are two kinds of pain in the world. Pain that hurts and pain that alters." Point taken.

In addition to warrior skills that are off the charts, McCall has an ability to see a particular situation before it unfolds, a sixth sense of how things will go down. As filmmaker Fuqua has accurately said, "Violence is a comfort zone for him.”

Back in Boston, though he's usually zealous about keeping to himself, McCall takes an interest in one of the tenants in his building, a young high school student with artistic aspirations named Miles (Ashton Sanders, memorable in the Oscar-winning "Moonlight").

McCall is also visited by an old friend from the first movie. That would be Susan Plummer (the always expert Melissa Leo), a colleague from McCall's covert days and the only person, aside from her husband, Brian (Bill Pullman), who knows he is alive.

Still active in intelligence circles, Susan goes off to Brussels with colleague Dave York (an excellent Pedro Pascal) to investigate a death that may or may not be suspicious.

Always careful to not be hemmed in and compromised by human connections, McCall finds that, in ways that are separate and linked, both Susan and Miles are in terrible jeopardy.

How he responds is memorable, and, in the case of Miles, leads to a moment in a crack house hallway that provides both actors with a scene that surprises with its intensity and power.

When it comes to action sequences, Fuqua is as experienced as they come, and his work here, while strong enough to earn an R rating for "brutal violence throughout," never lingers on the carnage. Instead, it presents violence in intense bursts so crisply edited (by Oscar winner Conrad Buff) they almost feel subliminal.

The director is also a fine creator of tension, insisting that the acting be low-key and, along with stunt coordinator Jeff Dashnaw, special effects coordinator Jeremy Hays and visual effects supervisor Sean Devereaux, orchestrating a corker of a finale during a Category 5 hurricane.

Not everything in "Equalizer 2" is successful, including a subplot about a Yiddish-speaking Holocaust survivor played by Orson Bean that misses the mark. But the film is effective where it needs to be, and if there is an "Equalizer 3," in line to see it is where you'll find me.

Kenneth Turan is film critic for the Los Angeles Times and National Public Radio’s Morning Edition as well as the director of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. He has been a staff writer for the Washington Post as well as the Times’ book review editor. A graduate of Swarthmore College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, he teaches film reviewing and non-fiction writing at USC. His most recent books are “Never Coming To A Theater Near You” and “Free For All: Joe Papp, The Public and The Greatest Theater Story Ever Told.”

Trump Stays Defiant Amid a Foreign Policy Establishment Gone Mad


July 20, 2018
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President Trump and Vladimir Putin after their joint news conference in Helsinki, July 16, 2018 (Lehtikuva/Antti Aimo-Koivisto/via Reuters)

“Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Under the Constitution, these are the offenses for which presidents can be impeached.
And to hear our elites, Donald Trump is guilty of them all.
Trump’s refusal to challenge Vladimir Putin’s claim at Helsinki that his GRU boys did not hack Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been called treason, a refusal to do his sworn duty to protect and defend the United States, by a former director of the CIA.
Famed journalists and former high officials of the U.S. government have called Russia’s hacking of the DNC “an act of war” comparable to Pearl Harbor.
The New York Times ran a story on the many now charging Trump with treason. Others suggest Putin is blackmailing Trump, or has him on his payroll, or compromised Trump a long time ago.
Wailed Congressman Steve Cohen: “Where is our military folks? The Commander in Chief is in the hands of our enemy!”
Apparently, some on the left believe we need a military coup to save our democracy.
Not since Robert Welch of the John Birch Society called Dwight Eisenhower a “conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy” have such charges been hurled at a president. But while the Birchers were a bit outside the mainstream, today it is the establishment itself bawling “Treason!”
What explains the hysteria?
The worst-case scenario would be that the establishment actually believes the nonsense it is spouting. But that is hard to credit. Like the boy who cried “Wolf!” they have cried “Fascist!” too many times to be taken seriously.
A month ago, the never-Trumpers were comparing the separation of immigrant kids from detained adults, who brought them to the U.S. illegally, to FDR’s concentration camps for Japanese Americans.
Other commentators equated the separations to what the Nazis did at Auschwitz.
If the establishment truly believed this nonsense, it would be an unacceptable security risk to let them near the levers of power ever again.
Using Occam’s razor, the real explanation for this behavior is the simplest one: America’s elites have been driven over the edge by Trump’s successes and their failures to block him.
Trump is deregulating the economy, cutting taxes, appointing record numbers of federal judges, reshaping the Supreme Court, and using tariffs to cut trade deficits and the bully pulpit to castigate freeloading allies.
Worst of all, Trump clearly intends to carry out his campaign pledge to improve relations with Russia and get along with Vladimir Putin.
“Over our dead bodies!” the Beltway elite seems to be shouting.
Hence the rhetorical WMDs hurled at Trump: liar, dictator, authoritarian, Putin’s poodle, fascist, demagogue, traitor, Nazi.
Such language approaches incitement to violence. One wonders whether the haters are considering the impact of the words they so casually use. Some of us yet recall how Dallas was charged with complicity in the death of JFK for slurs far less toxic than this.
The post-Helsinki hysteria reveals not merely the mindset of the president’s enemies, but the depth of their determination to destroy him.
They intend to break Trump and bring him down, to see him impeached, removed, indicted, and prosecuted, and the agenda on which he ran and was nominated and elected dumped onto the ash heap of history.
Thursday, Trump indicated that he knows exactly what is afoot, and threw down the gauntlet of defiance: “The Fake News Media wants so badly to see a major confrontation with Russia, even a confrontation that could lead to war,” he tweeted. “They are pushing so recklessly hard and hate the fact that I’ll probably have a good relationship with Putin.”
Spot on. Trump is saying: I am going to call off this Cold War II before it breaks out into the hot war that nine U.S. presidents avoided, despite Soviet provocations far graver than Putin’s pilfering of DNC emails showing how Debbie Wasserman Schultz stuck it to Bernie Sanders.
Then the White House suggested Vlad may be coming to dinner this fall.
Trump is edging toward the defining battle of his presidency: a reshaping of U.S. foreign policy to avoid clashes and conflicts with Russia and the shedding of Cold War commitments no longer rooted in the national interests of this country.
Yet should he attempt to carry out his agenda—to get out of Syria, pull troops from Germany, and take a second look at NATO’s Article 5 commitment to go to war for 29 nations, some of which, like Montenegro, most Americans have never heard of—he is headed for the most brutal battle of his presidency.
This Helsinki hysteria is but a taste.
By cheering Brexit, dissing the EU, suggesting NATO is obsolete, departing Syria, trying to get on with Putin, Trump is threatening the entire U.S. foreign policy establishment with what it fears most: irrelevance.
For if there is no war on, no war imminent, and no war wanted, what does a War Party do?
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

One on One w/ Ace Atkins

Review: Ace Atkins’ ‘The Sinners’ a bloody, and funny, trip to the altar


By Colette Bancroft
July 18, 2018

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There’s always so much to deal with in the weeks before your wedding.
For Quinn Colson, there’s his mother’s threat to sing Elvis karaoke if he doesn’t hire a band, the question of whether his long-gone stuntman daddy will show up at all, his bride-to-be’s questionable plan to serve tofu to wedding guests who expect barbecue. Then there’s that little matter of a simmering crime war between a strip-bar owner and her biker minions and a family of piney-woods marijuana growers who want to step up their drug-dealing game. Given that Quinn is sheriff of Tibbehah County, Miss., he could get caught in their crossfire before he makes it to the ceremony.
There’s a lot going on in The Sinners, the eighth novel in the Colson series by Ace Atkins. This is the 23rd book by Atkins, a former St. Petersburg Times and Tampa Tribunereporter who now lives in Oxford, Miss. He has written seven novels in the Spenser series since he was selected to continue Robert B. Parker’s beloved character after Parker’s death.
The Colson books are set in a fictional Mississippi county, around the town of Jericho. Born and raised there, Quinn became a U.S. Army Ranger, returning home after multiple tours of Iraq and Afghanistan to step into the boots of his late uncle, Hamp Beckett, the county’s longtime sheriff. In The Sinners, Atkins writes, "Nearly ten years Quinn’d been back and he wasn’t sure he’d made a damn bit of difference." But the wry, stoic sheriff soldiers on.
Back when Hamp was sheriff, he busted Heath Pritchard, a wild-man dirt track racer who was raising marijuana amid the cornstalks on his family farm. After serving 23 years at the state’s notorious Parchman prison, Heath is home and not a bit reformed. As he tells Quinn, he’s sorry Hamp is dead: "My hopes and dreams had been to come back to this town a free man and whip his ass."
Heath’s nephews, Tyler and Cody Pritchard, are none too thrilled to see him, especially when they discover he’s killed someone his first night home. They’ve followed in his footsteps, both as race drivers and very successful dope farmers, but Heath is more than a handful. A simple visit to Walmart, where he marvels at all the flavors Oreos now come in, devolves into a battle royal in the parking lot that ends with the Pritchards driving their pickup over a gaggle of Harleys.
The "scooters," as Heath calls them, belong to the henchmen of local crime boss Fannie Hathcock. Quinn sent her predecessor, the evil Johnny Stagg, off to prison a while back. Fannie is an esthetic improvement over the skeevy Stagg: She’s a red-haired bombshell who wears Chanel Gardenia and totes her handgun in a Birkin bag. But she runs her strip club, Vienna’s Place, and associated criminal operations with an iron fist.
Fannie and Quinn have an uneasy truce, although he declines her offer to host his bachelor party. When the Pritchards try to invade her turf, they all end up crosswise of the Dixie Mafia, a Memphis undertaker-turned-drug-boss named Marquis Sledge and a couple of extremely bad guys who run a trucking company. Worse, Quinn’s best friend (and best man), fellow vet Boom Kimbrough, has unwittingly gone to work driving for that trucking company and is in potentially lethal danger.
The Sinners has plenty of breathless suspense and explosive violence, but it’s also a funny book. The series has always had its funny moments, but maybe wisecracking Spenser is influencing Quinn, or maybe the wedding lightens things up. This whole novel is laced with humor, much of it mordant and profane.
Quinn’s fiancee, Maggie Powers, is a fierce ER nurse whom he knew when they were children but lost track of for years. Here’s his story when an FBI agent asks him how they connected again:
"‘Her ex-husband was a bank robber,’ Quinn said. ‘He shot up a titty bar off Highway 45 and then he tried to kill me.’
"‘Hate to say it, Colson,’ Nat said. ‘But you done f---ed up trying to get a Hallmark Movie of the Week.’"
But Quinn really is a romantic, even if he does miss the rehearsal dinner because he’s involved in a firefight.
When his former deputy, the take-no-prisoners Lillie Virgil, now working in Memphis, comes back for the wedding, she warns him not to let married life make him soft.
"‘It’s not over, Ranger,’ Lillie said. ‘The Southern s---bird isn’t exactly an endangered species.’’
Contact Colette Bancroft at cbancroft@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8435. Follow @colettemb.
The Sinners
By Ace Atkins
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 384 pages, $27
Times Festival of Reading
Ace Atkins will be a featured author at the 2018 Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading on Nov. 17 at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Daniel Silva on his new book "The Other Woman"

THE LEFT’S TRUMP-PUTIN MELTDOWN


Just another nail in the coffin of the Leftist establishment’s credibility.



By Robert Spencer
July 18, 2018
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John Brennan on MSNBC
In a press conference with Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump refused to validate the findings of a deeply corrupt and compromised intelligence community that has been working assiduously since before he was even elected to discredit and destroy him, and now the sky is falling.
Barack Obama’s CIA director John Brennan, who calls himself a “nonpartisan American” but who voted for Communist Party candidate Gus Hall for President in 1976, tweeted in all-out hysterical mode: “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) outdid even Brennan in hysteria, tweeting a call for a military coup: “Where are our military folks ? The Commander in Chief is in the hands of our enemy!”
Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who once called the Muslim Brotherhood “largely secular,” said that the Trump/Putin press conference was “truly unbelievable. On the world’s stage, in front of the entire globe, the President of the United States essentially capitulated and seems intimidated by Vladimir Putin. So it was amazing and very, very disturbing.”
Less hysterically, but in the same vein, 2020 Presidential hopeful Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) tweeted: “The whole world just watched as the President sided with Putin over U.S. Intelligence Agencies. There is no doubt that Putin has launched attacks on the very heart of our democracy, and by not standing up to him today, the President has invited him to do it again.”
In response to that, David Horowitz offered a note of sanity: “US intelligence agencies like the CIA headed by John Brennan who voted for Communist Party head during the height of the Cold War, and launched the Russia-Collusion witch-hunt, and Comey’s FBI.” Horowitz also observed: “Long time appeasers of the Soviet empire in the Democratic Party want to re-start the Cold War with a Russia greatly diminished in power and influence rather than see if we can make deals with this thug regime to reduce the dangers of nuclear war, & rein in Iran’s terror regime.”
Longtime foes and targets of the Left should have seen this, but some didn’t: the hysteria was not all on the Left. Newt Gingrich tweeted: “President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin. It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected—-immediately.”
What was Trump’s “treason”? His “high crimes & misdemeanors”? “The most serious mistake of his presidency”? Inthe words of NBC’s Chuck Todd, it was “essentially confessing to the world that he believes Putin more [than] the United States of America and its agencies.
But this was, not unexpectedly, wildly overstated and misleading. President Trump did not say that he trusted Putin more than he trusted the United States of America. He expressed his skepticism at the findings of intelligence agencies that have been shown over the last year and a half to have strayed far from their mission and become deeply partisan, shockingly corrupt organizations bent on finding enough dirt on him to remove him from the Oval Office.
The President has repeatedly referred to Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion investigation as a “witch hunt,” and that is exactly what it is. On Tuesday, Trump walked back some of his remarks at the press conference, saying: “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that meddling took place” from Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, but added that the meddlers “could be other people also. There’s a lot of people out there.” He also tweeted: “Thank you@RandPaul. ‘The President has gone through a year and a half of totally partisan investigations - what’s he supposed to think?’”

Indeed. Just as there are a lot of people who may have meddled in the election, there are a lot of people in Washington, such as Mueller, James Comey, and Peter Strzok, who have been determinedly working to frame him for months for collusion with Russia for which they have been so far unable to produce any evidence. President Trump was right to be skeptical of the intelligence community, and should stand firm on that skepticism – as well as call for a thorough investigation and reform of the FBI.
It is also interesting that the people who are crying “treason” the loudest today never uttered the word when Barack Obama shipped billions of dollars in cash in the dark of night to the Islamic Republic of Iran, even as the mullahs were chanting “Death to America.” Treason is defined in American law as giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Wouldn’t billions given to a terror-supporting rogue state be a great deal more aid and comfort to an enemy than some skepticism about our manifestly corrupt intelligence agencies at a press conference? Of course – but the Leftists who are in hysterics over the Trump/Putin press conference are the same Leftists who applauded Obama’s generosity to the Islamic Republic, and fought desperately to preserve their man’s disastrous nuclear deal with that outlaw state.
It’s a classic case of projection: the ones crying loudest about “treason” today are ones who are actually traitors.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His new book is The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.

Putin Summit May Prove to Be Trump's Finest Hour


July 16, 2018

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Anatoly Maltsev/EPA-EFE/REX

What?  Did you just read that headline correctly?

Yes, you did.  Writing it I assumed people's heads would explode.  It's about as far as you can can get from today's conventional wisdom (i.e. what David Gergen thinks).  Virtually every member of the smart set from Pelosi to McCain to some ninety-five percent of the media, including several cowards on Fox News, to, alas, Lindsey Graham (who should know better) are going out of their minds excoriating Trump for being soft on Putin, even for being "owned" by the neo-Soviet strongman. John Brennan -- once a communist himself, so he should know -- accused Trump of treason.

Okay, time for that familiar cliche -- the thought experiment.  Suppose Trump had done the opposite, exactly what these people demanded -- verbally and viciously assaulted Putin for all his totalitarian tropes from annexing the Crimea to humiliating John Podesta for being so dumb as to fall for a phishing attack (all right -- I'll be fair. For invading the computers of Democratic Party operatives, allegedly to elect Trump) and so forth?

What would that have accomplished? The obvious answer is zilch.  Again the opposite would most likely have occurred.  Things, already bad, would have been set back further.  It's human nature. You don't have to be a personal acquaintance of Vladimir Putin to know that.  You only have to be breathing.

But... but...  then Trump shouldn't have held the summit in the first place.

Oh, really? Although Russia -- the largest nation on the planet -- is in many ways a failing state with an economy barely the size of Texas, it still has a huge percentage of the world's nuclear weapons, about equal with ours, and the capacity to deliver them (and to pass them along to unreliable non-state actors).  It behooves us to have a relationship with them for our survival and everybody else's, to keep our friends close and our enemies closer, as the Godfather would put it. The obvious goal in this is to limit nuclear proliferation and even to reduce, or at least stabilize, the nuclear arsenals as agreements come up for renewal.

If you look at Trump's actions in that context, what he says and what he does aren't so strange. His strategy should be clear by now to all those except those (unfortunately many) who deliberately don't want to understand it. I wrote about it earlier  in "Trump's New Foreign Policy: The Cooptation Doctrine."

He is, as Greg Gutfeld noted on The Five, his own good cop and bad cop all rolled into one.  The good cop part is what we saw with Kim Jong-un and now with Putin -- complimenting tyrants to an almost uncomfortable degree.  It's oddly a Christian love-the-sinner-but-hate-the-sin kind of thing.

The bad cop part is what Trump actually does concretely -- and, as Putin certainly knows, this is far more important than photo ops and press conferences with all the attendant words.  Trump's actions vis-a-vis Russia have been considerably more stringent than his predecessor's -- opening the energy spigots, increasing sanctions, arming the Ukrainians, ejecting 60 Russian agents, etc.  As Walter Russell Mead pointed out, if Trump is in Putin's pocket, he's doing a terrible job of it.

Barack Obama -- although the New York Times would burn down its own building rather than admit it -- did an abysmal job with Putin and was indeed the one who was truly "owned" by the Russian.  And it wasn't just the silly reset button and the embarrassing video of Barack whispering into Medvedev's ear to tell Vlad he -- Barack -- would be more flexible on missiles after the election.  (What a toady!)  Even worse, in his Chamberlainesque ardor to make a deal with Iran's mullahs, Obama let Putin play him in Syria, agreeing not to honor his redline against Assad's use of chemical weapons in order not to endanger the  deal.  Trump never did anything nearly that pathetic.  Actually, he stands up strong.

But the David Gergens of the world yammer on that Trump is doing everything wrong.  He's certainly doing some things wrong -- we all do --  but being gracious to Putin personally while actively opposing what the Russian does in his actions, may be exactly the way to get results.  But Trump's opponents don't care about results. Overwhelmed with hate, they would prefer to see the president wounded and impeached than succeed with Putin and bring about a world safer from nuclear armageddon.  If Trump achieves this, however, it will be his finest hour.  It would be for any president.

Roger L. Simon - co-founder and CEO of PJ Media - is also an award-winning novelist and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

TOTALITARIANISM IN DURHAM


Government officials attempt to "no-platform" Jordan Peterson.



By Matthew Vadum
July 17, 2018

Durham Mayor

Jordan Peterson and Durham Mayor Pro Tempore Jillian Johnson
Leftist city officials in Durham, N.C., are trying to censor conservative academic Jordan B. Peterson by denying him a platform for an upcoming local talk about his bestselling self-help book.
This attack on Peterson is part of a larger assault on conservatives’ free speech rights in the Trump era. Demonstrators have shut down or tried to shut down Charles Murray, Milo Yiannopoulos, Ben Shapiro, Ann Coulter, Mark Levin, and David Horowitz, to name a few targets. Social media companies brazenly discriminate against conservatives and the crimes of former IRS official Lois Lerner against conservative activist groups remain unprosecuted.
Peterson is a former Harvard clinical psychology professor who is scheduled to speak Sept. 10 at the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC), which is owned by the City of Durham. Contrary to local media reports, he was not invited to speak by DPAC: he rented the venue.
The date is part of a speaking tour to promote his acclaimed self-help book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. Durham won’t be Peterson’s first appearance in an intellectually hostile left-wing urban center in the U.S. Now a professor at the University of Toronto in Canada, he has already spoken in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Austin, Texas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, Ore. 
Peterson’s talk on “Identity Politics and the Marxist Lie of White Privilege” at a conference held last fall in Washington, D.C., helped to bring his message to a new audience and may have played a role in his meteoric rise. 
The radical office-holders in charge in Durham are terrified of Peterson, what he represents, and what he might say on their turf.
Perhaps for good reason.
If you have any doubt what is motivating this fear among left-wingers, just watch Peterson’s merciless, masterful dismantling of UK’s Channel 4 reporter Cathy Newman’s tired old feminist and leftist talking points. Peterson is utterly fearless, always amply armed with facts, and intellectually intimidating.
This could help explain why Durham Mayor Pro Tempore Jillian Johnson posted a unanimously-endorsed city council statement on Facebook in hopes of creating the political pressure needed to shut Peterson down.
The bizarre document amounts to a passive-aggressive defense of free speech protections in the First Amendment. The city council claims to support Peterson’s right to express himself in public but at the same time wants him to refrain from exercising this right.
Peterson attacked the city council statement, calling it "a conceptually brutal mishmash of self-righteousness, indignation and utter moral and political confusion." It is “one of the purest demonstrations I have yet seen of the tendency for the ideologically possessed to use denouncement tactically as a means to amplify and exaggerate personal or identity-group virtue.”
Stopping someone from speaking is called no-platforming (or sometimes de-platforming). In “Repressive Tolerance,” the late Brandeis University professor Herbert Marcuse, the so-called father of the New Left, favored shutting down non-leftists on the theory that fascists, or those merely smeared as fascists by leftists, are not entitled to free speech.
The city’s complaint begins with an attempt to intimidate Dr. Peterson, along with predictably dishonest leftist drivel about the intellectual content of his work.
We would like to be clear that we respect Mr. Peterson’s right to hold his opinions and to freely state his opinions without government interference. However, we wish to emphasize that a person’s right to free speech does not include the right to a platform or an audience. As many in our community have been disturbed and angered by Mr. Peterson’s racist, misogynist, and transphobic views, we would like to use this opportunity to reiterate our commitments and values to all of you as your elected representatives.
The smearing continues in a kind of municipal mission statement that checks off all the politically correct boxes.
We believe that Durham is a place for all of us - black, white, Asian, Latinx, indigenous, and mixed-race, trans and cis, gay and lesbian, queer, and straight, disabled and able-bodied, young and elderly, women, men, and non-binary, native and immigrant, secular and people of faith. Those who seek to exclude or deny the humanity of others will find no comfort here.
We believe that everyone in our city should have the opportunity to thrive in an equitable and inclusive community. We understand that this opportunity has been intentionally and unjustly denied to many of our residents on the basis of race, class, gender, and other aspects of their identities. We are committed to taking action to remedy these injustices.

 The city council suggests that Peterson is some kind of fascistic control freak whose ideas would somehow turn America into The Handmaid’s Tale.
The city council continues implying Peterson is guilty of a laundry list of offenses, but without providing any evidence:
We believe that violence against women is horrific and unacceptable under any circumstances. Women do not owe anyone access to or any level of control over their bodies or sexuality. We honor trans and non-binary residents and believe that respecting each other requires a commitment to using the names and pronouns that each of us identifies with. We will do all that we can to ensure that trans and non-binary people feel safe and respected in our community.
We invite the Durham community to recommit ourselves to these values as a city and a community and to reject and resist bigotry wherever we encounter it.
In other words, according to this nonsense Jordan B. Peterson is an enemy of the people who must be stopped.
Peterson tore the statement apart.
"Everything that is reprehensible about the radical and ideologically-possessed left – all the moral self-righteousness, the platitudes, the clich├ęs, the mindless celebration of diversity for the sake of the demonstration of tolerance, the naivete, and the appalling malevolence of casual denunciation – is on painful display in this missive," he wrote. 
The leftist hysteria in Durham is more than a little familiar to those of us who witnessed the Left’s apoplectic spasms over the rise of academic Camille Paglia, the refreshingly un-PC liberal lesbian whose 1990 book Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, spurned outrage on university campuses at the time groaning under the yoke of repressive, male-hating, radical feminism.
Durham is Ground Zero for faddish leftist boycotts.
Last week at least five Durham officials aligned themselves with Antifa as they signed a letter demanding the abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
In April, Durham became the first American city to bar its police from training in Israel. “The Israeli Defense Forces and the Israel Police have a long history of violence and harm against Palestinian people and Jews of Color,” according to a resolution approved unanimously by the city council.
Last year the Durham City Council cheered on radical groups that unlawfully ripped down a Confederate war memorial at city hall. Prosecutions fizzled out before they even got started.
The toxic leftism of Durham officials has ruined lives. 
No one will soon forget how an overzealous, racist prosecutor and scores of local academics tried to lynch three white members of the Duke University men’s lacrosse team after they were accused of the March 13, 2006 gang rape of black exotic dancer Crystal Gail Mangum that never happened. In the end, politically correct button-pusher Mike Nifong (D), the out-of-control district attorney in Durham, was disgraced, disbarred, and found guilty of contempt. Duke and Durham have never recovered from the disgraceful incident whose shadow still hangs over the community.
Clearly Durham has not learned its lesson.

True Southern Crime: Ace Atkins and Tibbehah County


By Anna Gibbs
July 15, 2018
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Local writer Ace Atkins is readying himself for the launch of “The Sinners,” the eighth book in his bestselling Quinn Colson series.
Set in the fictional Tibbehah County, Atkins’ latest novel continues the saga of Sheriff Quinn Colson with a little Wild West-style violence, a little small-town familiarity and a whole lot of Southern grit. Citing Oxford’s favorite son William Faulkner as one of his greatest inspirations, Atkins said Tibbehah is the quintessential North Mississippi town – on the surface.
“Tibbehah is not unlike Marshall County or Calhoun County or even Yalobusha County. There’s a town square, a Sonic Drive-In, a dollar store, just a pretty typical North Mississippi town,” Atkins said. “There is more intrigue, I think, in some of the small communities than you can find in a big city.”
Atkins played football in the early 1990s for an undefeated Auburn University team before working as a correspondent for the St. Petersburg Times and a crime reporter for the Tampa Tribune. Although he always knew he wanted to be a professional writer, he said it wasn’t until he entered the world of journalism that he found his true niche.
Reporting on crimes, he said, is the best way to really get to know a community – who the major leaders are, how the career criminals portray themselves, where to go and where to avoid. A crime reporter through-and-through (he even met his wife while they were covering the same story for different publications), Atkins said he applies the same writing skills to his novels.
“I don’t write mysteries, I don’t write super thrillers or ticking time-clock stuff,” he said. “I really just write about crime and the people who are affected by it in the community, and I find that a really interesting viewpoint when talking about the modern South.”
One thing Atkins said readers won’t see in his work, however, is what he likes to call “moonlight and magnolias” – an idyllic representation of the South, complete with pastoral scenes and waifish Southern Belles sipping mint juleps on wrap-around porches.
Instead, the Alabama native said he prefers to view Tibbehah the way a journalist writes – about the good, the bad and the ugly. Along with Faulkner, Atkins said Flannery O’Connor is another influence upon his work. Her use of the grotesque – the fascinatingly weird or abnormal qualities that identify a character – is something Atkins said he emulates.
In terms of the readability of his novels, Atkins said he likes to think of them as a long-arc television show. Sure, a person can read them out of order, or pick a book up in the middle of the series, but they’re so much better if a reader treats each book like its own season of a television show, he said.
“The Quinn Colson books are kind of like an R-rated version of the Andy Griffith Show,” Atkins said. “It’s definitely more Quentin Tarantino than ‘Steel Magnolias’ or ‘Fried Green Tomatoes.’”
Atkins is in the midst of writing the ninth novel in the Quinn Colson series. He wouldn’t reveal much, but said readers will be pleased to know many recurring storylines are coming to a head.
Resolution doesn’t always equal a finite end, however. One of the greatest lessons Atkins said he learned in football is to always prepare for the next season. As such, he said he has no plans to leave Tibbehah or its sheriff any time soon.
“Somebody asked me, ‘How many more books are you going to write?’” he said. “One of my inspirations is, the sheriff here, Buddy East, has been sheriff as long as I’ve been alive. The fact that he’s been on the job that long and is still working gives me confidence that I’ll be writing about Quinn for quite some time.”
“The Sinners” is Atkins’ 23rd novel. Another of his books, “Wonderland,” which is a continuation of the late Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series, was recently picked up by Netflix as a full-length feature film. Mark Wahlberg will star as the titular character.
Atkins will be hosting a reading and signing event for “The Sinners” on Tuesday, July 17 at 5 p.m. at Off Square Books.

Monday, July 16, 2018

NATO Now Serves the Interests of the Transatlantic Ruling Class


July 15, 2018
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If we’re to believe the recent NATO summit’s communique and the mainstream media’s commentaries about it, the alliance serves roughly the same essential purpose today as it did in 1948, and Americans had better heed European Council President Donald Tusk’s thinly veiled warning: rein in President Trump’s criticisms of NATO, because its members are about the only allies America has got.
But although the people who run today’s European and American societies are perhaps closer to each other than in 1948—which accounts for their dogged defense of “the alliance”—in fact, they themselves have changed in ways that obviate the purposes for which the alliance originally was formed.
The point of departure for understanding U.S.-European relations is that the relationship between “the people who count” on both sides of the Atlantic are so good precisely because they  have become aliens to their own peoples. And, since all are in the process of being rejected by their own peoples, they are each others’ natural allies. But against whom are they allied?
What is the purpose of this alliance and what does it mean to us Americans?
Herewith, a summary of these moral and political changes, whose importance dwarfs the massive material transformations that the world has undergone in the past 70 years.
Defense of the West
In 1948, Europe faced the mighty Red Army, prostrate, poor, and penetrated by Communist organizations. But its principal figures—Konrad Adenauer, Charles De Gaulle, and Alcide De Gasperi—were devout Christians leading peoples who, chastened by war, were eager to safeguard and bolster what remained of their civilizations. All were conscious of their dependence on the United States of America for pretty much everything and grateful to us for it. That moral-political strength made up for a lot of material weakness.
It should be remembered, too, that keeping fellow Christians from succumbing to godless Communism moved that generation of Americans almost as much as the realization that the Soviet conquest of Europe would be very dangerous for us. Most came to believe that an alliance that reassured a weak-but-willing Europe was the best way to prevent it. Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, in tune as they were with ordinary Americans as well as with European leaders of their era, had no trouble forging a North Atlantic alliance based on the axiomatic commitment to nuke the Soviets were they to invade Europe.
Progressive Infection
NATO’s rot started in America. John F. Kennedy’s 1960 election brought to power progressives, who self-identified as “the best and the brightest.” Shaped intellectually and morally by the doctrines of (eventual Nobel laureates) Henry Kissinger and Thomas Schelling, they saw men like Adenauer and De Gaulle as of a piece with the American conservative persons and ideas they were displacing.
At the first NATO meeting after Kennedy’s inauguration, they removed the U.S. commitment to nuke the Soviets. They also removed the U.S. medium range missiles on the necessity of which that generation of European leaders had staked their legitimacy. Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, these American did their best to foster the rise of progressive Europeans, who would be partners in the grand pursuit of “detente” with Moscow. They got what they wished, and then some.
In retrospect the 1980s, dominated as they were by Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Helmut Kohl, were a brief anomaly.
Today, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have the opposite of 1948: political weakness born of the ruling class’s civilizational renunciation undermines vastly increased economic and (in the United States) military power. Russia’s army, backed by scarcely a tenth of the European Union’s GDP, would have little trouble making prisoners of NATO’s forward-deployed forces and reaching the Atlantic.
An Alliance to Protect the Ruling Class’s Power and Prestige
Today the transatlantic ruling class has its own civilizational agenda, manifested by its subsidies for constituencies both business and cultural, ranging from “renewable energy resources,” to education, the arts, and lifestyle. Far from allied to safeguard and promote Western civilization, this ruling class treats its cornerstone, Christianity, as unmentionable at best and usually as the main feature to be extirpated from people’s lives. This class also regards self-rule, the capacity of people in towns, regions, or nations to decide by vote how they shall live, as among the evils to be done away with. It treats as enemy anything—thoughts, practices, institutions—that limit its own its own power and prestige. For their power and prestige, after all, are what it is allied to protect.
Since ordinary people in each and all of NATO’s countries pose the clearest and most present danger to that power and prestige, whenever any country’s people have challenged the  power or prestige of their local member of the club, the other countries’ ruling classes have treated it as an attack on themselves. Under this updated version of the famous Article 5, the allied transatlantic rulers have warned, on pain of horrid consequences, the people of Britain to stay in the EU, the peoples of France to elect anybody but Le Pen, the peoples of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and most recently of Italy, not to vote as they did.
Most of all, they warned Americans not to elect Donald Trump.
Nothing has equaled their fury against him. This, of course, has little to do with Trump himself. Rather, it is the transatlantic allies’ reaction to their inability to bend the American people to their ways. The American people’s adherence to Western civilization, our inflexible desire to rule ourselves, is the negation of everything for which this class stands. And because America is what it is, the election of an anti-ruling class candidate has inspired European peoples to do likewise.
As the transatlantic allies have lost election after election, they have retreated to their bastions in the supranational institutions, the banks, the corporations, the media, etc. Their objective seems to be to punish voters—psychologically if in no other way—to convince them to repent. Their hands will have to be pried off the levers of power.
Because such things as Russia’s power, the Third World’s physical occupation of the Europe and the United States, never mind the international military balance, do not threaten what the transatlantic ruling class is allied to protect, they cannot be bothered to take these questions seriously. Hence, for the American people, NATO as it exists today is yet one more ruling class institution to be overcome.
What good—and it may be considerable—that Americans might achieve by working with Europeans would have to be pursued with such peoples as have freed themselves from the transatlantic ruling class’s power.