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Mark Steyn On The Passing Of Roger Ebert And The Growing Threat In North Korea
Hugh Hewitt ^ | 5 Apr 2013 | Mark Steyn

Posted on 04/05/2013 5:19:43 AM PDT by Rummyfan

HH: We begin every Thursday when we are lucky with Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. You can read everything that Mark writes at www.steynonline.com. You can follow him on Twitter @marksteynonline. Mark, one of my favorite Steyn books is The Passing Parade. And I begin today with the sad news, because I liked him, Roger Ebert. He was a left winger, but he was a pretty good movie critic. If you were writing an obit about Roger Ebert, how would it begin?

MS: Well, as you say, he was a left winger, but he was a great movie critic in that he’s one of those critics, if you have any of his books, and some movie turns up on Turner Classic Movies that you’ve never heard of, but it has someone you quite like and you’re interested to know what it is, he’s a very reliable guide to telling you what kind of movie it is and capturing the sense of the movie. And as you said, we were political opposites, but we were both employees of Conrad Black’s Hollinger Group for much of our careers, and as a result of that, Conrad, someone in Conrad’s office sent him a free subscription to The Spectator in London, and Roger once described me, allowing for the fact that my political views were insane, he said I was one of his favorite movie critics. And with the same bipartisan tip of the hat, I would like to return the compliment. He was also a great screenwriter after a fashion. Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls was his great claim to fame, but he lived a good life. He briefly dated a young woman who was hosting some local news show in Chicago about 30 years ago, and he suggested to her that she ought to do what he did and syndicate it, and it might be as successful as Siskel and Ebert’s At The Movies. And the romance didn’t work out, but the young woman took his advice and thus, we have the Oprah Winfrey show to thank Roger Ebert for.

HH: Oh, wow. Oh, I didn’t know that.

MS: So he was, and I regret, you know, I regret the political side of him in a way that, in the same way I’m sure he regretted mine, but you know, he had, in a way that most movie critics whose criticism doesn’t stand up, and I include famous ones like Pauline Kael in that. Pauline Kael was a huge cultural influence 40 years ago, and if you read her stuff in the New Yorker now, most of it is obsolescent gibberish. And Ebert’s sense of what worked and what didn’t work actually was pretty solid.

HH: You know, our friend, Michael Medved, along with Siskel and Ebert, and with Jeff Lyons, they kind of invented a show, a different kind of show, the movie show. And of course, Mike Nelson, Mystery Science Theatre 3000, is a variation on that. But they really did it, and I don’t think it actually exists much anymore. It’s been overcome by the TMZ kind of gossip thing as opposed to a genuine movie show.

MS: Yeah, I don’t think we have the same kind of thing now. It’s interesting, at the time they started, we weren’t in that situation which you are now, where every Monday morning, what is reported as news is the gross of the films that opened over the weekend. This is something that within living memory was only of interest to studio vice presidents. But it’s now something that ordinary people are fascinated by the fact that X-Men 9 took $230 million dollars on its opening weekend. And in a way, that’s pushed aside what Siskel and Ebert did so well in their heyday, I think.

HH: And I didn’t know, did you review movies for a while? I didn’t know that you did that.

MS: Yeah, I did in The Spectator. I mean, I think there’s a difference. You know, Roger Ebert understood that I was a kind of amateur at it. He was a professional. He lived movies all his life. He went to the screening rooms every day. I hate screening rooms, you know, where they show a movie to 12 other cynical, bored critics. I find that kills it, particularly if it’s like a comedy and you want big laughs. So I always made a point when I could, because I was writing for a magazine, of seeing the movies with regular people, and getting some sense of it as a real experience. And so I was always, you know, it was kind of a little bit of weekend relief for me from jihad and politics and all the rest of it. But Roger, I appreciated Roger. He was very kind, because he was a professional, he was the best at what he did. His movie books are the kind of standard reference work for a lot of people. And so I was very appreciative of his kind words at a point, in fact, in my life when I rather needed them. So I thought I appreciate him for that very much.

HH: Now I’m going to make the transition, which is not easily done from Roger Ebert to North Korea, and so I’m not even going to try and find a transition there. We’re just going to switch. I’m going to devote the rest, or the next two hours, to North Korea. How serious do you think this situation is, Mark Steyn?

MS: It is serious in the sense that we don’t know anything about North Korea except that it’s a one man psycho state, economic basket case. And therefore, it does not respond to the rational incentives that Slovenia or New Zealand would respond to. And that’s really the problem with this new world we’re moving into. If you go back to the late 19th Century, at the heyday of British imperialism, Hilaire Belloc wrote a famous rhyme about British superiority over the natives. He said whatever happens, we have got the maxim gun, and they have not. Now the world has inverted itself, and the brokest, poorest, nothingest joke states on Earth, like North Korea, are going nuclear, while the wealthiest societies in human history, whether you’re talking about Norway or Switzerland or Australia, have no means to resist these nuclear provocations. And so North Korea, I think, is in the equivalent of neighborhood thug who understands that you can do an awful lot, and all the nice people who just want a quiet life, will in the end appease you and bribe you, and give you what you want to just go and be quiet for a couple more years. And that looks very much to be what Obama is doing, which has been part of a 20 year American pattern now with North Korea.

HH: Yeah, this does not exempt W.’s administration, either, but this President has sent the B-2 and a flight of F-22’s, and he’s rapidly deploying the THAD system to the extent it can be rapidly deployed. But has he said what needs to be said, or his surrogates, the secretary of Defense or the secretary of State, to unequivocally communicate to the North Koreans, Mark Steyn, that there is a line that if they cross, I think Bret Stephens said on our show yesterday, Pyongyang will be a smoldering heap?

MS: Well, Pyongyang is not going to be a smoldering heap. And Kim Jong Un knows that. And nobody, I like Bret Stephens as much as the next guy, but the idea of the United…the United States hasn’t actually nuked anywhere since 1945. And it gets harder and harder to imagine them nuking anywhere, certainly to imagine the United States nuking anywhere first. So the reality is that there is an awful lot of provocation. A few years ago, for example, there was a story in the Canadian papers that said that Kim Jong Il had a plan to nuke Montreal. And those of us who loved Quebec said well, why Montreal? And the reason was apparently that Kim Jong Il had calculated that if he nuked Chicago or Milwaukee, that the Americans might feel obliged to respond. But if he nuked a Canadian city, then the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations would just issue a strongly worded letter of regret. And those kind of, we laugh that those kinds of calculations, but they’re what are dancing through this guy’s head right now.

HH: My goodness, that is alarming. So in terms of what you would like to hear the President say, though we will not hear it, what do you think, Mark Steyn, he ought to say publicly so that it will be consumed by the North Korean military elite and the crazy young guy?

MS: Well, I think what matters less is what he says publicly, and what matters less is the messages that are being delivered in private both directly to Pyongyang and through North Korea’s only real friends who matter, which is Beijing. And the evidence suggests that in recent years, and I include particularly the latter phase Bush administration in this, that we were simply not forceful enough with Pyongyang on this, and that they understand that in effect, provocations get rewarded. I mean, this is a guy who basically pulled out of the Korean War Armistice a couple of weeks ago. As far as North Korea is concerned, the Korean War is back on. It’s a going concern again. These are people who understand that there is no appetite in the West for turning Pyongyang into a smoking ruin, or even delivering a strongly worded form of sanctions or anything like that.

HH: Dangerous situation, that. Mark Steyn, thank you, www.steynonline.com, America, for all that Mark writes.

End of interview.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: marksteyn; nkwar; northkorea; nuclearnk; waronterror

1 posted on 04/05/2013 5:19:43 AM PDT by Rummyfan
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To: Rummyfan
the young woman took his advice and thus, we have the Oprah Winfrey show to thank Roger Ebert for

One of the most socially damning women to ever help destroy our country: an atheist, a left-wing liberal, a filth racist, a lesbian, etc.

Yeah, thanks a lot, Ebert. These slavish tributes to basically worthless people get me sick.

2 posted on 04/05/2013 5:34:28 AM PDT by laweeks
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To: laweeks

Yep.


3 posted on 04/05/2013 5:42:29 AM PDT by oprahstheantichrist (The MSM is a demonic stronghold, PLEASE pray accordingly - 2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
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To: Rummyfan

One less gun grabbing Commie. Good riddance!


4 posted on 04/05/2013 5:47:02 AM PDT by DCBryan1
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To: laweeks

Ebert was not a good reviewer of even superficial films. He always defended BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS where he had screenplay and creative influence. But at least that film did have a bit of campy humor.

Ebert was an-across-the-board liberal so he dished any film that had a free-market, libertarian, or conservative message.


5 posted on 04/05/2013 5:51:26 AM PDT by Monterrosa-24 (...even more American than a French bikini and a Russian AK-47.)
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To: Monterrosa-24

Why is this guy being treated in the press like Mother Theresa?! The guy was a movie critic, for God’s sake. Why are people with cancer always the holy ones in our society?


6 posted on 04/05/2013 5:58:16 AM PDT by miss marmelstein ( Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: laweeks

Oprah Winfrey

“One of the most socially damning women to ever help destroy our country: an atheist, a left-wing liberal, a filth racist, a lesbian, etc.”

Perfectly said.


7 posted on 04/05/2013 6:08:05 AM PDT by kitkat (STORM THE HEAVENS WITH PRAYERS FOR OUR COUNTRY)
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To: Rummyfan
... Mystery Science Theatre 3000 ...
Just thinking about it makes me laugh.

8 posted on 04/05/2013 6:08:25 AM PDT by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: kitkat
“One of the most socially damning women to ever help destroy our country: an atheist, a left-wing liberal, a filth racist, a lesbian, etc.”

"Perfectly said."

Not really; I left the "y" off of "filthy".

9 posted on 04/05/2013 6:13:29 AM PDT by laweeks
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To: DCBryan1

Concur...


10 posted on 04/05/2013 6:19:33 AM PDT by maddog55 (America Rising.... Civil War II)
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To: miss marmelstein

He was a lot more than that a film critic. He was a humanist renascence man of sorts. One of the last to have any sort of public sway.


11 posted on 04/05/2013 7:06:25 AM PDT by Borges
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To: miss marmelstein

He was a lot more than that a film critic. He was a humanist renascence man of sorts. One of the last to have any sort of public sway.


12 posted on 04/05/2013 7:06:25 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Monterrosa-24

Can you cite an example? He loved the Star Wars and LOTR films. Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan and so forth.


13 posted on 04/05/2013 7:07:28 AM PDT by Borges
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To: laweeks

“..one of the most socially damning women to ever help destroy our country ...”

Aptly put. I have NEVER watched her show, ever, not even once. From articles or whatever I have read referencing her I get a New Age vibe bordering on wiccan type ideology. WHY does she have so much influence on people? It is like a cult/brainwashing ... Diabolical perhaps?


14 posted on 04/05/2013 7:26:21 AM PDT by stonehouse01 (Equal rights for unborn women)
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To: laweeks

LOL


15 posted on 04/05/2013 7:27:19 AM PDT by stonehouse01 (Equal rights for unborn women)
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To: Borges

Oh, stop. He was a fat man on tv talking about “Jackass 3.”

If you want really good movie critics try James Agee, Pauline Kael, Andrew Sarris, Manny Farber, Penelope Gilliat and, for good measure, throw in the New Wave boys.

And am I the only one who thought he was gay for years and years?


16 posted on 04/05/2013 7:30:11 AM PDT by miss marmelstein ( Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: Borges

Ellsworth Toohey


17 posted on 04/05/2013 7:30:33 AM PDT by outofsalt ("If History teaches us anything it's that history rarely teaches us anything")
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To: Borges

“...Can you cite an example?...”

Ebert gave ATLAS SHRUGGED II one star while most reviewers were kinder.

The better made film OCTOBER BABY gained two stars but got completely trashed in his write up. OCTOBER BABY is the best conservative film of the last three years in my opinion.

Eduardo Verastequi’s BELLA gained three stars but he still wrote it up in such a way as to make people not want to see it. BELLA is a great movie.


18 posted on 04/05/2013 7:34:52 AM PDT by Monterrosa-24 (...even more American than a French bikini and a Russian AK-47.)
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Comment #19 Removed by Moderator

To: Monterrosa-24

No one liked the film of Atlas Shrugged. I just looked at his review of OB and 2 stars is not trashing a film. Look at his review of ‘North’ for him trashing a film. He’s regretful that OB wasn’t better at being the Christian film it was being touted as - his objections were about pacing not ideology. Three stars is a positive review period.


20 posted on 04/05/2013 7:45:24 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Rummyfan
I see that he mentioned Jeff Lyons. He did movie reviews on a NYC station. Back in the early 80s I would go see a movie without seeing his review first. If he panned a movie and said to avoid that one, I would go see it and always had a good time. If he loved a movie, I ended up avoiding them as he was never right with his picks.
21 posted on 04/05/2013 7:46:42 AM PDT by Hillarys Gate Cult (Liberals make unrealistic demands on reality and reality doesn't oblige them.)
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To: Hillarys Gate Cult
Sorry. Meant to say that I would never go to see a movie until I got Lyon's take on it. He was a perfect reverse gage for my movie going choices.
22 posted on 04/05/2013 7:49:44 AM PDT by Hillarys Gate Cult (Liberals make unrealistic demands on reality and reality doesn't oblige them.)
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To: Rummyfan

...Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls was his great claim to fame....

&&&
Ah, to be remembered for such a piece of trashy writing and for giving the world Oprah. Fitting.


23 posted on 04/05/2013 7:55:49 AM PDT by Bigg Red (Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved! -Ps80)
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To: kitkat; laweeks

Perfectly said.

**
Agreed.


24 posted on 04/05/2013 7:57:05 AM PDT by Bigg Red (Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved! -Ps80)
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To: Hillarys Gate Cult

Lyons is occasionally a guest on Curtis Sliwa’s terrible morning radio show here in NYC. Another bad critic!


25 posted on 04/05/2013 7:58:48 AM PDT by miss marmelstein ( Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: outofsalt; miss marmelstein; Borges
Ellsworth Toohey

That is so perfectly apt it can't be improved upon.

Ebert was a nasty bitter man who unfortunately died a nasty bitter death.

To my reading he wasn't a "critic" at all. He phoned in shallow left-leaning book reports for, as Mark Steyn more or less admits, a public looking for 20-second synopses.

Borges--I'd love to hear your rationale for elevating this sad old spinster to "renaissance" status.

26 posted on 04/05/2013 7:59:34 AM PDT by Fightin Whitey
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To: Rummyfan

What? No Gene Shallit references?


27 posted on 04/05/2013 8:00:28 AM PDT by P.O.E. (Pray for America)
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To: Fightin Whitey

I know people who knew him and not a single person recalls him as being the least bit bitter or nasty. I’ll post this here since it’s in topic...Do you know anything about him other than the TV show? His blog was a wide ranging document dealing with many topics not related to cinema (or politics). His memoirs are one of the best written in recent decades. He was fully integrated into the local Arts and Humanities scene without ignoring local issues. He was one of the best writers in America period. A modern day Erasmus.


28 posted on 04/05/2013 8:01:36 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges
“...2 stars is not trashing a film...”

Yes it is when taken with his write up. “He's regretful that October Baby wasn't better at being the Christian film...” ...and you believe he was really regretful. Actually it was the film it was supposed to be and more people should have gone to the theatres and seen it. Ebert did his review to make the film unappealing to all including conservatives. OCTOBER BABY must have been painful for Ebert to watch even for the 15 minutes that he reportedly gave to another film he wrote a full review of.

29 posted on 04/05/2013 8:06:18 AM PDT by Monterrosa-24 (...even more American than a French bikini and a Russian AK-47.)
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To: Borges

Oh, yes, Borges! I’ve thrown away my memoirs of Casanova after I read Ebert! What more was there to say about Life and “Jackass 3”?

By the way, to mention another critic who I think writes beautifully about movies: Camille Paglia. I love her book on “The Birds”.


30 posted on 04/05/2013 8:08:12 AM PDT by miss marmelstein ( Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: Monterrosa-24

Here is the last paragraph of his review. It has nothing to do with the political/theological ideas at play nor is he trashing it.

‘”October Baby” is being promoted as a Christian film, and it could have been an effective one. Rachel Hendrix is surprisingly capable in her first feature role, and Jasmine Guy is superb in her scene. Unfortunately, the film as a whole is amateurish and ungainly, can’t find a consistent tone, is too long, is overladen with music that tries to paraphrase the story and is photographed with too many beauty shots that slow the progress.’


31 posted on 04/05/2013 8:10:43 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Monterrosa-24

October Baby is on Netflix Instant Streaming right now.


32 posted on 04/05/2013 8:11:45 AM PDT by diamond6 (God is good.)
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To: miss marmelstein

I like Paglia too.


33 posted on 04/05/2013 8:11:53 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges

Erasmus.

You have got to be kidding.

What does that make Gene Shalit? Mendelssohn?

Look, I’m pleased that you and your dinner set thought he was so swell.

To me he was a sh!+ on the tube and he was a sh!+ in print. No, I didn’t read his “blog” but I don’t read Oprah’s blog, or Siskel’s for that matter, and-—after this-—I won’t be looking up yours either.


34 posted on 04/05/2013 8:14:33 AM PDT by Fightin Whitey
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To: Fightin Whitey
Ebert's blog was apolitical and won all sorts of acclaim. Siskel never would have had a blog since he was not a literary man by any means.
35 posted on 04/05/2013 8:16:48 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges

“...the film as a whole is amateurish and ungainly, can’t find a consistent tone, is too long, is overladen with music that tries to paraphrase the story and is photographed with too many beauty shots that slow the progress....”

That is what Ebert says and it is not true so it is indeed trashing the film.


36 posted on 04/05/2013 8:17:23 AM PDT by Monterrosa-24 (...even more American than a French bikini and a Russian AK-47.)
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To: miss marmelstein; Borges
I’ve thrown away my memoirs of Casanova after I read Ebert!

St. A's Confessions went out in today's trash. Right on top of the Proust, that stiff.

haha!

37 posted on 04/05/2013 8:19:34 AM PDT by Fightin Whitey
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To: Monterrosa-24

Obviously he thought it was true. That’s the thing about aesthetics. People often disagree.


38 posted on 04/05/2013 8:19:59 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Fightin Whitey

Well you’ve got me there. His aren’t as good as Casanova’s or Augustine’s.


39 posted on 04/05/2013 8:21:09 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges
Siskel never would have had a blog since he was not a literary man by any means.

Siskel wasn't a pretentious horse's ass either.

40 posted on 04/05/2013 8:22:24 AM PDT by Fightin Whitey
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To: Fightin Whitey

It’s funny because Siskel was seen as the snobbier and more pretentious one of the two. Ebert was criticized for being too easy on films that were mere popular entertainment.


41 posted on 04/05/2013 8:23:26 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Rummyfan

bump for later


42 posted on 04/05/2013 8:45:09 AM PDT by Noob1999 (Loose Lips, Sink Ships)
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To: miss marmelstein; Borges
If you want really good movie critics try James Agee, Pauline Kael, Andrew Sarris, Manny Farber, Penelope Gilliat and, for good measure, throw in the New Wave boys.

I really think Stephen Hunter was the best, when he was still doing movie reviews.

And am I the only one who thought he was gay for years and years?

No you're not the only one - I always thought so too and until this reference by Mark Steyn of Ebert's relationship with Oprah, had no idea he was straight.

43 posted on 04/05/2013 9:28:10 AM PDT by Rummyfan (Iraq: it's not about Iraq He could sure play that axe. RIP anymore, it's about the USA!)
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To: Rummyfan; miss marmelstein

Hunter was witty but didn’t really have any interest in the medium.

MM you seem to be biased by the very fact that he had a TV show at all. He HAD to review all those crappy films. He wrote for a daily newspaper not a magazine where he could devote one column a week to one movie. His best writing is of a very high level.


44 posted on 04/05/2013 9:33:55 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Rummyfan
A few years ago, for example, there was a story in the Canadian papers that said that Kim Jong Il had a plan to nuke Montreal. And those of us who loved Quebec said well, why Montreal? And the reason was apparently that Kim Jong Il had calculated that if he nuked Chicago or Milwaukee, that the Americans might feel obliged to respond. But if he nuked a Canadian city, then the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations would just issue a strongly worded letter of regret. And those kind of, we laugh that those kinds of calculations, but they’re what are dancing through this guy’s head right now.

In a civilized country people like Kim Jong and his son would be running local Chinese restaurants ... and the health department would be trying to shut them down... Their more ethical cousins would be decent citizens here - the same people who in North Korea are the people who starve or are in prisons.

The beauty of the United States for the most part has been that thugs don't make it to the top politically... well usually. In countries like North Korea only they're the only ones who make it to the top.

45 posted on 04/05/2013 11:09:53 AM PDT by GOPJ (New AP term for Illegal Aliens IS Undocumented Democrats.... Jay Leno)
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To: Fightin Whitey

Whomever you are, I am in love with you for writing what I was going to write - only better.


46 posted on 04/05/2013 11:17:45 AM PDT by kabumpo (Kabumpo)
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To: Borges
Look at his review of ‘North’ for him trashing a film.

Someone ran a clip of his At the Movies review of John Travolta's Scientology cultpiece -- Battlefield Earth or whatever they called it. He was really funny. I can't review his content, since I didn't see the movie, based on his and other reviews. (That was, ummm, about 2001, just before he got cancer. Maybe the Scientologists gave him cancer in revenge? </tinfoil>)

PS: John Travolta shares with Ben Affleck the dis-stink -shun of having starred in two of the worst pieces of excrement that ever got thrown up on a silver screen. Travolta did the Scientology thing, and he also "starred", if you can call it that, in that godawful cougar-kisser with Lily Tomlin, Moment by Moment (1978). Affleck did both Gigli (2003, w/ J Lo) and Bounce (2000, Gwynnie Paltrow and Natasha Henstridge).

47 posted on 04/05/2013 3:14:28 PM PDT by lentulusgracchus
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To: miss marmelstein

It would be great to see FReepers post their movie critiques here on FR.


48 posted on 04/05/2013 7:58:47 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (I’m not a Republican, I’m a conservative! Pubbies haven't been conservative since before T.R.)
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To: miss marmelstein

Ever hear of Stephen Hunter? Retired film critic for the WaPo, gun enthusiast and expert, novelist of the Bob Lee Swagger books, Pulitzer Prize recipient for his film critique? The movie “The Shooter” (Mark Wahlberg, Ned Beatty) was based on one of his.

Check out his entire body of work, and you’ll find some outstanding books, including nonfiction. “American Gunfight” is almost indescribably indescribable.


49 posted on 04/09/2013 1:07:14 PM PDT by DPMD
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