March 30, 2004
Is the Jewish Vote in Play?
I'd say the jury is out, but Republicans are actively reaching out to Jewish groups, some major Jewish donors are defecting to the GOP, and Democrats are clearly nervous:
Sen. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), surprised members of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America during remarks at a luncheon when he acknowledged there is a perception among many Jews that Democrats are not strong enough on the issue of Israeli security.
However, he insisted the perception is not true.
“A lot of us were quite struck that he would say that,” said a high-ranking official with the group.
The article, from The Hill, notes that " While President Bush won only 19 percent of the Jewish vote in 2000, Republican candidates garnered 35 percent of the Jewish vote in 2002," but it's hard to know how much to read into that; I spent election night 2002 at the victory party for congressman Mark Kirk, a fairly liberal (but strong on defense) Illinois Republican with a notable bloc of Jewish constituents, and met at least one Kirk supporter who disliked the President. But the most striking statistic-- which I hadn't seen-- is that "In the era of soft money, an estimated 50 to 70 percent of large contributions to the Democratic Party and allied political units came from Jewish donors" (empasis added). Small wonder that they're worried.
Apropos, my father has just started a blog focusing specifically on Jews' peculiar allegiance to the Democratic party.
March 18, 2004
Trouble For the Terror Masters
In case you're wondering why I never blogged on the Spanish election, it was because I knew my reaction would be part of a column this week. That column is now up at The American Spectator online; it deals mostly with the recent civil unrest in Syria and Iran.
I know this has been covered a lot in the blogosphere and at NRO, but it hadn't been (at least, not as much) when I started working on this piece on Monday. Besides, I'm not nearly as far behind the curve as, well, all the rest of the media.
March 11, 2004
To our bloodied allies, in solidarity against terrorism.
You can sign a condolence book either at the Spanish Embassy in Washington (which is also arranging a silent anti-terror demonstation tomorrow-- see here for details), or at your local consulate in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Miami, Houston, New Orleans, and San Juan.
March 08, 2004
For Sopranos-fans and other mafia aficionados, Jeffrey Goldberg and Jerry Capeci's conversation on Slate over last night's season-opener is worth a look. They find the show rings true with their experiences as reporters on the mob beat, and have some interesting illustrative anecdotes.
March 03, 2004
Mr. Gibson's Opus
I saw The Passion of the Christ today. To answer the big questions:
How violent is it? That depends on how you guage that. I find the child murder scene in M where the screen simply goes silent as a balloon floats away much more emotionally taxing than, say, the cartoonish mass-dismemberment in Dead Alive. Just going by amount of blood spilt, it's not even close to the most violent movie ever made. But the flaying of Jesus is one of the more brutal torture sequences on film. One shot in particular, in which a cat o' nine tails tipped with hooks tears at Jesus's body, is particularly graphic.
Any anti-Semitism? Sure, if you're looking for it. The Gospels themselves portray the Jews calling for Jesus's execution, so there's no way around the potential for an anti-Semitic interpretation. And it doesn't help that many of the actors seem cast for their hook-noses. But Gibson goes out of his way to add sympathetic Jewish characters, as when Simon of Cyrene, enlisted to carry Jesus's cross demands that the crowd and the Roman guards lay off Jesus (he has no dialogue in the Bible); a guard scornfully calls Simon "Jew," thus adding anti-Semitism to the traits of the least-sympathetic characters (the guards look and act like trolls). And though it's a bit of trivia that isn't obvious from the film itself, Gibson does show his own hands hammering in the first nail, a reference to the Christian teaching that all sinners (that is, all people) are responsible for Christ's suffering, which makes assigning blame for the crucifixion heretical.
Is it good? It's pretty good. As a non-Christian, I can't really relate to the way this film affects the devout. But I do love the decision to do it in ancient languages, a brave nod to verisimilitude over Hollywood notions of "accessibility" (notions that are belied by The Passion's box office total). But if the goal was historical accuracy, it would have been nice if all of the details were correct; historians believe that the nails went through the wrists rather than the hands, for example. And I must admit that I started to get slightly bored toward the end of the movie, but that's always a problem when you know the ending in advance.
From My Bookshelf
I have a capsule review (third item) in the current Weekly Standard, on Anne Brodsky's With All Our Strength: The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.