August Rush: A Movie Review

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A departure from my usual politi-centric ramblings — but a worthwhile one.

A movie all but guaranteed to inspire the musician hiding in your soul and, at the same time, bring tears to the eyes of those of you who find joy in a child’s dreams coming true. The movie is August Rush and the fine young actor Freddie Highmore plays Evan Taylor, the boy who can hear music “in the wind, in the air even in the light”. Music that he is determined to follow in the belief that it is the only path to finding his parents — parents he has never met — parents that he is certain are looking for him — and he is willing to bet his very existence on that.

After escaping from the children’s home that is the only home the eleven-year old has ever known, Evan makes his way to New York city, where he falls into a Dickensonian existence of the “Oliver Twist” variety. The “Artful Dodger” in this case is a young and very talented street musician who calls himself Arthur X; Arthur befriends Evan and leads him to the place he calls home — an abandoned theatre which is the domain of a “modern-day “Fagan” who calls himself the Wizard. While staying with the Wizard and his collection of street-corner entertainers Evan discovers that he not only hears music but is, himself, a musical prodigy; within minutes of picking up a guitar he astounds the Wizard and the others by playing like he had been doing it for years while inventing his own unique playing style. A gift like Evan’s is far too rare for the Wizard to pass up — and it is against his greedy nature not to take advantage of it.

The Wizard is played by none other than the normally loveable, laughable man of a thousand characterizations, Robin Williams. Williams occasionally chooses to show his ability to play a character that can be universally loathed and he makes the Wizard truly, unredeemably despicable. You will love to hate Williams as he joyfully sets out to capitalize on Evan’s remarkable ability as a musician and as he develops a vision that would take Evan well beyond the street corner while filling his own pockets. As part of this vision the Wizard renames Evan, August Rush — a name that Evan joyfully adopts and one that stays with him for the rest of the movie.

During a police raid on their theatre home, August and the Wizard are separated. Having nowhere to go, August seeks shelter in a church and there he found people who were genuinely concerned about his welfare and who, after August displayed even greater musical abilities, were determined to find a way for him to nurture his amazing talent.

Some mere months later, August’s musical genius is possibly near its peak; he is a scholarship student at Juilliard (thanks to the church’s pastor) and is the composer/conductor designate of a symphony that the New York Philharmonic is about to play at their annual Concert in Central Park. At that point, the Wizard reenters his life. In his most dispicable act yet, the Wizard, ever the fast-talking con man, manages to convince August to abandon his concert, his scholarship at Juilliard and the people who really care about him, to return to the street corner under his (the Wizard’s) control. What happens next? You’ll find out when you rent or buy the movie.

While all this is going on, in flashbacks we see August’s mother, who thought he had died at birth, discover that he lives, and begin a frantic search for him. At the same time, August’s father, who doesn’t know that he has a son, continues his nearly 12-year search for a girl he only knew for one evening, a girl who turned out to be the only girl he feels he could ever want.

Not a movie for the fan of adrenalin-pumping action or hot and lusty romance, August Rush is, instead, a more cerebral movie about faith, genius, determination, deception and success against all odds.

I don’t believe that any other child star could have surpassed Freddie Highmore’s performance in this movie. As you watch the pure joy on his face when he first picks up that guitar at The Wizard’s lair or later when he discovers a pipe organ at the church where he sought refuge you know you are watching a real-life event; a real-life Evan Taylor/August Rush who not only hears the music but who is rapidly becoming one with the music.

Obama Blasted For Speaking The Truth

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I guess Barack Obama hasn’t learned the lesson that honesty . . . when on the “stump”, when trying to become the nation’s next president . . . is NOT the best policy.

Here are the words Obama spoke at a small political gathering in Pennsylvania last week:

“But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there’s not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

For this, Barack Obama has been directly compared to Karl Marx; Marx most famously spoke about religion being the opiate of the people — and, indeed it is. Life can be cruel and unfair and millions of people, not only in the “small towns” Obama targeted but in large, urban settings, have no other way to handle it. These people are in ‘pain’ and the source of the pain, their economic woes and a bleak future that seems endless, are too much for many people to handle without something to grasp onto.

So what do they turn to for comfort? Many turn to religion — to that ‘blind faith’ that has proven, time after time, to be the most powerful tool the human mind can conjure to combat the inequities of life. Many people, however, are inclined to reject the “quiet fight” of religious faith and instead harness their raw emotions; they allow their fear of the unknown and of uncertainty to take them down the road of hate — hate expressed, as Obama suggested, in their antipathy either toward those immigrants that they see as the cause of many economic woes, toward other races who they fear because of a lack of familiarity or toward the government and the government’s policies.

Obama’s political enemies have happily labeled Obama as an “elitist” since he spoke about the reality of bitterness but that is an obvious distortion. If anything Brack Obama’s “bitter” remark (as it’s being called in today’s news stories) shows that he may be the only candidate who can, at least occasionally, be trusted to say what he sees as the truth — as unpopular as it may be. True, the majority of the time he will engage in the same ‘politi-speak’ you hear from Clinton (either one) or McCain but Obama has his moments where he will speak from the heart. It’s up to us to listen during those moments and reject that automatic Democratic, Republican, Conservative or Liberal bias that will creep into our judgment as we listen — bias such as that makes you blind to reality and deaf to truth.

News Links:

US News and World Report: Obama’s “Bitter” Comment Halts His Momentum

NewsBusters: Obama Channels Marx on Masses’ Reverence for Religion

Blog Links:

The P.Cash Perspective: Andrew Sullivan on the Obama “Bitter” Controversy

Bald Eagle 08: The REAL reasons for the Obama “bitter” so-called “controversy”

Whymrhymer’s P.O.V. can also be found at the Blogger News Network at the American Chronicle.

The Flawed Anti-War Logic of the Left

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“John McCain is not a warmonger and should not be described as such,” Ms. Psaki [an Obama spokesperson] said. “He’s a supporter of a war that Senator Obama believes should have never been authorized and never been waged.”

This statement was made in response to a radio talk show host who called Sen. McCain a “warmonger” while speaking at an Obama fundraiser; and there you have, in a nutshell, Sen. Obama’s core position on the war: ‘we have to stop fighting terrorists in Iraq because we should not have been in Iraq in the first place’. If this is meant to be an attack on John McCain, the Obama camp could at least try not using logic so flawed that a high school debater could tear it apart.

What does the fact (or assumption) that we should not have gone to Iraq have to do with the clear fact that we are there, and the fact that if we leave before we have laid waste to the enemy we will be showing a weakness in resolve. Everyone with any survival instinct knows that you NEVER show a weakness to an enemy and not being totally committed to victory is a serious weakness. The interesting thing is that both Senators Obama and Clinton know this to be true but still take the position that we need to leave Iraq as soon as possible rather than as soon as it is wise to do so.

The logical disconnect that is creating this ‘retreat over victory’ position on the part of Senators Obama and Clinton is obviously the bloodshed — or rather the American blood that HAS been shed. We’re back again to the flawed logic that says it was very costly for us to get this far so we should go no farther. This ignores the fact that things are turning around in Iraq and they are turning around BECAUSE we have come this far.

Yes, I know that it has taken the lives of 4,308 American fighting men and women to get this far in Iraq over the past 5 years (all but about 800 of them killed in combat). I also realize that this is a statistic that shakes American citizens (rightly so) and has caused ALL OF US (on the Right as well as on the Left) to, at some point in time, wonder if the original invasion of Iraq was the most intelligent thing to do (in my mind, quite honestly, it probably was not).

We must all realize, however, that the original invasion and the original intention behind that invasion are things that have absolutely NO bearing on today’s reality. We have to get beyond that mind set and realize that we have an enemy that: 1) is directly responsible for those 3500 combat deaths and 2) had been consistently attacking the United States for many years before we invaded Iraq.

This last is a very important point and bears restating: terrorists are not attacking the U.S. only because we are in Iraq. Our invasion of Iraq may have been the trigger for the violence of the last five years but it is not even the main point in the terrorist mind.

The United States invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003:

  • The World Trade Center in New York City was bombed by terrorists, killing six people and injuring more than 1,000, 10 years before we invaded Iraq.
  • A terrorist bombing in Saudi Arabia at an American office used to train the Saudi Arabian National Guard killed five Americans and two Indians. This was in 1995, 8 years before we invaded Iraq
  • A terrorist car bombing at the al-Khobar towers in the city of Khobar, Saudi Arabia, killed 19 U.S. servicemen and one Saudi and injured hundreds of others, this was carried out in 1996, 7 years before we invaded Iraq
  • In 1998, al Qaeda terrorists executed simultaneous car bombings at U.S. Embassys in the East African capital cities of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. This was 5 years before we invaded Iraq
  • In 2000 the USS Cole, docked in the port of Aden, Yemen was attacked by al Qaeda terrorists, killing 17 sailors and injuring 39 others; this was 3 years before we invaded Iraq.
  • Then, of course, on September 11, 2001 — a day the majority of Americans will never forget — the World Trade Center was attacked again, this time from the air and, nearly simultaneously, the Pentagon in Washington D.C. was attacked from the air. A total of 2,986 people of all nationalities were killed that day by al Qaeda terrorists — that day 3 years before we invaded Iraq.

The point? Two points actually! The point I have just made is that it should be obvious that our invasion of Iraq did not cause al Qaeda terrorists or other terrorists to hate America. The associated point is that it should be equally obvious that withdrawing from Iraq before the Iraqi government and military are able to cope with extremists and terrorists, will not stop the terrorists from hating America; it will simply inflame their ambitions to destroy America and give them another place to plan their NEXT attack on America.

There will be a next attack! They have been here on our soil before and they will be here again; how much damage they will do the next time is very much dependent on how well we have decimated their forces in the Middle-East and on how much damage we have done, up to that point, to their desire to destroy us.

The United States will accept the flawed anti-war logic of the Left at its own peril.

News Links:

Washington Post: Iraq Report Details Political Hurdles and Future Options

New York Times: Barbed Remark on McCain Sets Off Campaign Dispute

Blog Links:

The Radical Mormon: Odom testifies in favor of complete and immediate withdrawal from Iraq

Black Shards, In Your Eyes, Blinding: Obama Advisor Recommends Keeping Troops in Iraq

Whymrhymer’s P.O.V. can also be found at the Blogger News Network at the American Chronicle.

The Wrong Way and the Right Way to Boycott The Olympics

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The news of late has been full of pleas, propositions and petitions calling on a U.S and/or world boycott of the 2008 Beijing Olympics by not sending their athletes. Have all these brains turned to mush?

China, granted, is a very evil empire and no true friend to any country. China eagerly sends their goods around the world and talks nice to diplomats while, at least in the U.S., they are stealing technology. They have had spies in the U.S. for decades — they treat their own citizens like crap and they are building up a war machine that they would use in a second, the second they thought they had a chance of destroying the U.S. or any other world power with a minimum of retaliation. No they are not nice people.

What, however, does that have to do with the Olympics? Nothing! There are Olympic athletes all over the world who have, for all intents and purposes, dedicated their lives for a chance to participate in Olympic events — now some thoughtless clowns are ready to tell them to forget it because the “guy who own the stadium” is not a nice person.

China, as evil as they are, has built the stadium and arranged for all the other facilities; playing in their “ballpark” — the ballpark of the enemy — does not in any way condone or indicate approval of China’s actions, their government or their leaders; to say it does, defies logic. This argument, however, is continually put forth, even by some broadcasters and writers who are normally logical thinkers — that any country who sends their athletes to Beijing is somehow rewarding China for their misbehavior. That is a giant logical disconnect. The 2008 Olympics were rewarded to China by the Olympic Committee, the Olympics should have nothing to do with politics or espionage, and the Olympics should go on with every team from every country participating. A boycott by any country will only hurt that country’s Olympic team and make the Olympics less competitive. China’s ambitions as the only world superpower will not change — they will go on as they always have.

If the world really wants to send a message to Beijing, here’s how it can be done; with personal boycotts. There are individuals, and I’m sure there are many, who will refuse to attend the Olympics in Beijing because of China’s record on human rights. These individuals certainly should boycott the Olympics on that personal level and get their friends and families to join in their boycott. You want petitions? Get people to sign petitions promising not to attend and promising to spread the word. If that type of personal boycott can catch on and, as a result, the Olympic stadium is nearly empty of spectators, China will get the message that they are considered pariahs, not by governments but by the world’s population. Perhaps, in some small way, that will send a message to China’s leaders and perhaps, in a more substantial way, it will send the message to China’s abused citizens, the message that there are citizens all over the world who feel their pain.

The Olympic athletes who are playing to an ’empty house’ will also feel the effect of this type of personal boycott but they must be made to realize that they are playing a role in a new kind of rebellion and they have the support of the people of the world — the same support that these people denied to China.

News Links:

New York Sun: Darfur Group Adds Olympics Boycott Call

Intersportswire: Why Sports Fans Should Boycott the Beijing Olympics

Blog Links:

UWC Student Magazine: Ferrero-Waldner threatens with Olympics Boycott

NOLYMPIA: Don’t let it happen!

Whymrhymer’s P.O.V. can also be found at the Blogger News Network at the American Chronicle.

Homeschoolers! Come Out With Your Hands Up!

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When Justice H. Walter Croskey ruled that “California courts have held that … parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children,” he set off a firestorm of protests from homeschooling parents and organizations, not only throughout the state but throughout the country — and rightly so.

What right has any court or government to reach inside of a home and determine how, when or where the children will be educated? They should have have no legal right to do that as long as a child is not being physically or emotionally abused or is not being denied a descent education.

The irony of this situation that has suddenly and almost totally banned homeschooling is that it started because some of the children in this particular case that was under review alleged that they were indeed being physically and emotionally abused.

Read the “Background of the Case” from the February 28th decision issued by the California Court of Appeal:

A Welfare and Institutions Code section 300 petition was filed on behalf of three minor children after the eldest of them reported physical and emotional mistreatment by the children’s father.

The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services investigated the situation and discovered, among other things, that all eight of the children in the family had been home schooled by the mother rather than educated in a public or private school. The attorney representing the younger two children asked the juvenile court to
order that the children be enrolled in a public or private school. The dependency court
declined to make such an order despite the court’s opinion that the home schooling the
children were receiving was ‘lousy,’ ‘meager,’ and ‘bad,’ and despite the court’s
opinion that keeping the children at home deprived them of situations where (1) they
could interact with people outside the family, (2) there are people who could provide
help if something is amiss in the children’s lives, and (3) they could develop
emotionally in a broader world than the parents’ “cloistered” setting.

As noted above, the court ruled that the parents have a constitutional right to home school the children. From that ruling the attorney for the younger children seeks extraordinary writ relief.”

It appears that in this particular situation the intrusion of the court into the homeschooling situation may have been warranted — because of the allegations of abuse. It appears that this situation may have had parents holding their children captives from society for their own purposes.

This ‘throws some water’ on some of the outrage that has resulted from this decision — but the decision as a whole, which states that: “California courts have held that … parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children,” is an outrage.

Had the original court that heard this case acted responsibly and had forced this one family to recify what was apparently an unacceptable homeschooling situation there most likely would have been no appeal and no chance for the Court of Appeal to make this decision that now effects ALL homeschoolers in the state.

Relief, however, may be on the way. Last week the 2nd District Court of Appeal put their decision on hold and granted a rehearing, some time in April after briefs have been filed. This gives homeschooling parents and organizations a chance to have their voices heard.

It may turn out in the end that California law does, indeed, ban homeschooling except by credentialled teachers; to quote the Charles Dicken’s character Mr. Bumble: “If the law supposes that, then the law is an ass.” Laws can, and in this case probably will be, changed. The state certainly has a responsibility to protect children from irresponsible parents, but they certainly have no right to assume that all parents are irresponsible.

News Links:

Philidelphia Evening Bulletin: California Rules Homeschooling Now A Crime

San Jose Mercury News: Court to reconsider home-school ruling

Blog Links:

Digital Diatribes of a Random Idiot: An Update on the Goings-on in the California Home School Controversy of 2008

Just Enough and Nothing More: CA Homeschool Joint Press Release and More

Whymrhymer’s P.O.V. can also be found at the Blogger News Network at the American Chronicle.

A New Cuba for a New Castro?

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Yesterday (3/31/08) one dream of many Cubans came true when Raul Castro did away with the laws that forbade Cuban citizens from staying in, or even entering, the island’s luxury hotels and resorts. Today more dreams are coming true! Starting on April 1st cubans can now purchase things like computers, plasma TVs, electric powered bicycles and cell phones; until today those items and many other imported consumer products were only available to companies and foreign tourists.

What, you may well wonder, is going through Raul Castro’s head? By allowing these luxuries to those Cubans who can afford them he is creating the one thing that his brother Fidel was violently opposed to: an upper class of Cubans. At the same time he is taking a chance by making the poor Cubans — the vast majority of Cubans — feel even poorer.

You have to believe that Raul knows what he’s doing and, if you believe that, you can forsee his next steps. The Cuban economy will be opened up to more foreign investment; he’ll make whatever moves are necessary to romance the Cuban American community (the cell phones were a good start); he will make efforts to resume full relations with the United States and most importantly, he will encourage new industry to come to Cuba. With new factories come jobs and with jobs come better pay and suddenly you have what you would never have seen under Fidel: a capitalist economy.

The WHY of all this can only be answered with pure conjecture but to my eyes the reason is obvious: Raul realizes what Fidel never did: Cuba is another failed experiment in socialism and if that socialism does not go away, its only a matter of time until he does.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for a truly democratic form of government in Cuba; Raul doesn’t want or need the end to his regime that a true democracy would bring. He knows that a capitalist economy can survive and even flourish under a benevolent dictator (he’s seen it in South America) and if Raul assumes that role of the benevolent dictator the New Cuba, while not perfect to American eyes, will be far, far site better than what was. Better for the Cuban citizens and possibly better for the United States.

News Links:

Associated Press (via Yahoo): Thanks Raul: Cubans can stay in hotels

CNN International: Cuba opens tourist hotels to citizens

Blog Links:

The political fancier: Cubans Go From Microwaves to Cell Phones, Can You Hear Me Now?

Jordan Whitley: Good news Cubans: You can now vacation in Cuba?

Whymrhymer’s P.O.V. can also be found at the Blogger News Network at the American Chronicle.