Sunday, 09 August 2009

BUDD SCHULBERG, R.I.P.

Ken Berwitz

Budd Schulberg, one of the giants of the 20th century, died of natural causes in Westhampton Beach, Long Island (NY) last Wednesday, at the age of 95. 

Among his many accomplishments, Mr. Schulberg wrote the classic book, "What Makes Sammy Run?" and won an oscar for his screenplay of the great movie, "On The Waterfront"

I didn't realize Schulberg had died - in fact, I didn't realize he was still alive - until I read a superb obituary about him by Scott Johnson at www.powerlineblog.com.

Since I can't improve on what Scott wrote, I'm posting it below:

Budd Schulberg -- writer, novelist, playwright, screenwriter -- died this past Wednesday at the age of 95. Schulberg's life cut through an almost unbelievable slice of American history, more than enough for two memoirs. In Moving Pictures: Memories of a Hollywood Prince, Schulberg covered his growing up as the privileged son of Hollywood producer B.P. Schulberg. Schulberg divided the book into four sections: Genesis, Exodus, The Promised Land and Kings, and ended the narrative at age 18. Having left a lot of ground to cover, he had reportedly completed a second volume of memoirs bringing the story up to date.

Schulberg grew up on Hollywood backlots, surrounded by producers, stars and starlets in the years during which Hollywood became Hollywood. A recent interviewer recalled: "Rudolph Valentino attended Budd's fifth birthday party. Silent movie star Clara Bow, the original 'It' girl, flirted with him. He once obliged the Marx Brothers to retake a scene after he burst out laughing on the set."

Schulberg pursued his literary and theatrical interests as an undergraduate at Dartmouth College. In 1934 he made a fateful trip to the Soviet Union with his Hollywood friend and fellow Dartmouth student Maurice Rapf. As Ronald and Allis Radosh relate in Red Star Over Hollywood, in Moscow Schulberg met "leading figures in the world of drama, film and literature" and attended the First Congress of Soviet Writers. Among those in attendance were Gide, Malraux and Gorky: "By the time they returned to the United States," the Radoshes recount, "Schulberg and Rapf were converts whose paths had been set." Schulberg later recalled that Stalin liquidated every one of the prominent Soviet artists he met on his trip to the Soviet Union.

Back in Hollywood after college, Schulberg became a screenwriter. He drew on his Dartmouth experience for Winter Carnival. When he was told that Scott Fitzgerald had been assigned by the studio to improve the screenplay, "I thought it was just a joke, like saying 'Leo Tolstoy,'" Schulberg recalled. "And I said, 'Scott Fitzgerald -- isn't he dead?'"

Fitzgerald wasn't dead yet, but his work on the script certainly didn't prolong his life. Traveling with Schulberg to work on the screenplay in New York and Hanover, Fitzgerald went on an alcoholic bender that became a lost weekend. The experience was not lost on Schulberg. He drew on it for his novel The Disenchanted.

Schulberg was an enthusiastic and successful Party recruiter. Once he set to work on What Makes Sammy Run?, however, his Party days were numbered. He quit the Party rather than tailor the book to fit orders. He did not receive Party approval for the book and suffered the Party's opprobrium after its publication in 1941.

Schulberg drew on his Hollywood experience during his service in World War II. He served with John Ford's filmmaking unit and gathered evidence for use by the Allied prosecutors at the Nuremberg trials. He was assigned to arrest Leni Riefenstahl to testify at one of the trials.

In 1951 Schulberg testified about his experience with the Communist Party in Hollywood before the House Un-American Activities Committee. A lifelong liberal except for his three years in the Party, Schulberg never repented his testimony or his naming the names of Hollywood Party members. Victor Navasky quotes Schulberg: "These people, if they had it in them, could have written books and plays. There was not a blacklist in publishing. There was not a blacklist in the theater. They could have written about the forces that drove them into the Communist Party....They're interested in their own problems and in the protection of the Party."

Schulberg spent two years researching and writing On the Waterfront, his study in the conflict between personal loyalty and moral duty. One of the finest American films ever made, the film drew inestimable benefit from the collaboration among Schulberg, director Elia Kazan and a great cast including Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Rod Steiger and Lee J. Cobb.

As the preproduction for the film dragged on -- only producer Sam Spiegel had any interest in the project -- the pressure took its toll on Schulberg. Finding Spiegel and Kazan whispering between themselves at a meeting in New York, Schulberg exploded: "I've been on this project for two years. I've taken practically nothing up front...It's beginning to break me. I've actually had to mortgage my farm....I've written my heart out on this. So what can you two bastards be whispering about?"

Although On the Waterfront is in a class by itself, it isn't the only great film Schulberg wrote. Schulberg also wrote the screenplay for the less well known 1957 film A Face in the Crowd based on his story "Your Arkansas Traveler." According to Richard Schickel, Schulberg's story was inspired by Will Rogers. It featured Lonesome Rhodes, "a good-natured hillbilly with the common touch, who, like Rogers. starts working sly political commentary into his corn-pone monologues, and when his wealth and influence grows, becomes a menace to liberal-minded society."

Starting with a Rogers-like character, Schulberg contemplated "the then hot career of Arthur Godfrey, a ukelele-strumming hick with a popular music and talk radio show in Washington who had come to a larger public's attention with his tearful coverage of Frankline D. Roosevelt's funeral on CBS." Godfrey became the host of a popular national radio show. When he moved to television variety programs, Godfrey grew "increasingly tyrannical with his supporting cast" and "increasingly forward with his political opinions." His career flamed out a few years after the release of A Face in the Crowd.

Kazan also directed A Face in the Crowd. Playing Lonesome Rhodes, Andy Griffith turns in a performance of astonishing ferocity. The film reflects the concerns of Schulberg and Kazan over the uses to which television might be put by a glib demagogue. In the scene below, Rhodes gives the dauntingly square Senator Worthington Fuller a lesson in how to transform himself into a presidential candidate through the medium of television.

Rhodes is introduced by his sponsor General Haynesworth, manufacturer of the worthless Vitajex pick-me-up tablets. General Haynesworth advises Fuller that he needs a slogan like "Time for a change," "The mess in Washington" or "More bang for a buck." Rhodes takes it from there. It's a hilarious scene that remains timely fifty years later.

Among Schulberg's loves was the sport of boxing. He covered boxing for Sports Illustrated. He wrote the novel The Harder They Fall based on his experience with Primo Carnera. He sparred with Hemingway (and wrote about that too). He befriended Muhammad Ali.

After the 1965 Watts riots Schulberg founded the Watts Writers Workshop with Yaphet Kotto. In 1967 he edited and introduced From the Ashes: Voices of Watts, bringing the work of workshop participants to a national audience. A year later Schulberg was at the side of Robert Kennedy in Los Angeles when Kennedy was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan.

In his politics, as I understand them, Schulberg was an old-fashioned anti-Communist liberal. A man of enormous gifts, Schulberg displayed personal integrity of a kind one can only hope to emulate. He refused to stifle his voice on the order of his fellow Communists or repent his testimony repudiating his past allegiance to please latter-day leftists. His death marks a loss to American letters and the passing of a living link to American history.

Few people were so great for so long.

May Budd Schulberg rest in peace.


THE REAL ENEMY

Ken Berwitz

Who is the real enemy?

Not radical Islam.  Not Iran.  Not Putin's budding attempt to recreate the USSR.  Not the taliban.  Not al qaeda or hamas or hezbollah.

Here, excerpted from the Los Angeles Times article, is the real enemy according to our Attorney General eric holder:

Criminal investigation into CIA treatment of detainees expected

Insiders say Atty. Gen. Eric Holder is close to naming a prosecutor to look into reports of excessive waterboarding and other unauthorized methods. Convictions could be hard to get.

 

By Greg Miller and Josh Meyer
August 9, 2009

 

     Reporting from Washington -- U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. is poised to appoint a criminal prosecutor to investigate alleged CIA abuses committed during the interrogation of terrorism suspects, current and former U.S. government officials said.

A senior Justice Department official said that Holder envisioned an inquiry that would be narrow in scope, focusing on "whether people went beyond the techniques that were authorized"

Current and former CIA and Justice Department officials who have firsthand knowledge of the interrogation files contend that criminal convictions will be difficult to obtain because the quality of evidence is poor and the legal underpinnings have never been tested.

Some cases have not previously been disclosed, including an instance in which a CIA operative brought a gun into an interrogation booth to force a detainee to talk, officials said.

Other potentially criminal abuses have already come to light, including the waterboarding of prisoners in excess of Justice Department guidelines, and the deaths of detainees in CIA custody in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2002 and 2003.

Opening a criminal investigation is something Holder "has come reluctantly to consider," the Justice Department official said, emphasizing that Holder had not reached a final decision but noting that, "as attorney general, he has the obligation to follow the law."

Others familiar with Holder's thinking say that such an investigation seems all but certain, and that a prosecutor will probably be selected from a short list that Holder asked subordinates to assemble.

Such a prosecutor would examine cases that are generally at least five years old, and probably some that were previously reviewed by career prosecutors who concluded that they could not be pursued.

"I don't blame them for wanting to look into it," said a former high-ranking Justice Department official familiar with the details of the program. "But if they appoint a special prosecutor, it would ultimately be unsuccessful, and it would go on forever and cause enormous collateral damage on the way to getting that unsuccessful result."

Bracing for the worst, a small number of CIA officials have put off plans to retire or leave the agency so that they can maintain their access to classified files and be in a better position to defend against a Justice investigation.

"Once you're out, it gets a lot harder," said a retired CIA official who said he had spoken recently with former colleagues. The inquiry would probably also target private contractors who worked for the CIA during the interrogations.

Current and former U.S. officials interviewed for this article spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy that still surrounds Holder's deliberations and the details of the interrogation files.

President Obama has repeatedly expressed reluctance to launch a criminal investigation of the interrogation program, but has left room for the prosecution of individuals who may have broken the law.

Great.  Just great.  Instead of protecting ourselves from the people who want us either dead or under shari'a law, we are going to go on a wild goose chase against the people responsible for doing the protecting.  And, by so doing, we will make good and damn sure that anyone in the CIA who acts aggressively to protect our interests can spend the rest of his/her life worrying about whether there will be an other eric holder down the line doing the same thing.

What a great way to keep us safe.

Remember, this is eric holder.  The same genius who approved Bill Clinton's pardoning of 16 FALN (Puerto Rican) terrorists - who weren't even asking to be pardoned - during Hillary Clinton's 2000 senate campaign  in New York, a state rich with Puerto Rican voters.

(Update:  6:25PM - My sister emailed that I should also remind readers about holder giving a free pass to the Black panther terrorists who intimidated Philadelphia voters in November, by dismissing  a default judgment against them.  She's right, of course, so here it is).

And don't you just love that bit at the end?  President Obama is "reluctant" to conduct this investigation - but if his suck-up toady of an Attorney General wants to, well.....(wink wink).

Can you possibly believe this man has our security interests at heart?  Can you possibly believe he has anything in mind other than saying "yes, sir" to whoever can keep him in a position of power?

This is our fault.  We elected Barack Obama and a lopsided congressional majority that will allow him to do this.

What have we done to ourselves?


DOBBS ANSWERS OLBERMANN

Ken Berwitz

As I have noted any number of times, no matter how many personal insults keith olbermann launches at Bill O'Reilly - who is on opposite olbermann at 8PM weekdays, and regularly creams him in the ratings - O'Reilly never mentions olbermann by name

But Lou Dobbs does.

olbermann made the mistake of extending his insult-a-thon to Mr. Dobbs - along with Mr. Dobbs' family.  Here, courtesy of www.hotairpundit.blogspot.com is his answer (if you can't see the video, just click here):

Lou Dobbs Calls Olbermann A "Pathetic Moron" "A Pyschotic With No Boundaries"

 

Calls MSNBC a corporate gift to the Democratic Party





"That pathetic moron, I got to tell you he truly is pathetic and normally I would ignore him but he has insulted my wife, my daughters, he's not man enough to take me on...How in the world does General Electric rationalize keeping a psychotic that has no boundaries, no sense of decency about him. I am in the public arena...He is in desperate need of a recalibration of his medicine...

Calls MSNBC a disgrace...

Dobbs has every right to nail olbermann this way.   He asked for it and, for once, he got it.

I'll be watching "Countdown" on Monday, to see how the thin-skinned olbermann reacts to this eminently well-deserved taste of his own medicine.  Don't bet on him taking it very well.


JEFF JACOBY ON OBAMA'S CRUSADE AGAINST ISRAEL

Ken Berwitz

Here is Jeff Jacoby's excellent, well thought-out, well-researched commentary on Barack Obama's crusade against Israel.  I post it without further comment, because Jeff certainly doesn't need any help from me -- other than putting his last paragraph - which perfectly encapsulates the problem -  in bold print:

Jerusalem -- one city, undivided
July 22, 2009 | Jeff Jacoby

LATE LAST WEEK, the Obama administration demanded that the Israeli government pull the plug on a planned housing development near the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem. The project, a 20-unit apartment complex, is indisputably legal. The property to be developed -- a defunct hotel -- was purchased in 1985, and the developer has obtained all the necessary municipal permits.

Why, then, does the administration want the development killed? Because Sheikh Jarrah is in a largely Arab section of Jerusalem, and the developers of the planned apartments are Jews. Think about that for a moment. Six months after Barack Obama became the first black man to move into the previously all-white residential facility at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, he is fighting to prevent integration in Jerusalem.

It is impossible to imagine the opposite scenario: The administration would never demand that Israel prevent Arabs from moving into a Jewish neighborhood. And the Obama Justice Department would unleash seven kinds of hell on anyone who tried to impose racial, ethnic, or religious redlining in an American city. In the 21st century, segregation is unthinkable -- except, it seems, when it comes to housing Jews in Jerusalem.

It is not easy for Israel's government to refuse any demand from the United States, which is the Jewish state's foremost ally. To their credit, Israeli leaders spoke truth to power, and said no. "Jerusalem residents can purchase apartments anywhere in the city," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday. "This has been the policy of all Israeli governments. There is no ban on Arabs buying apartments in the west of the city, and there is no ban on Jews building or buying in the city's east. This is the policy of an open city."

There was a time not so long ago when Jerusalem was anything but an open city. During Israel's War of Independence in 1948, the Jordanian Arab Legion invaded eastern Jerusalem, occupied the Old City, and expelled all its Jews -- many from families that had lived in the city for centuries. "As they left," the acclaimed historian Sir Martin Gilbert later wrote in his 1998 book, Jerusalem in the Twentieth Century, "they could see columns of smoke rising from the quarter behind them. The Hadassah welfare station had been set on fire and . . . the looting and burning of Jewish property was in full swing."

For the next 19 years, eastern Jerusalem was barred to Jews, brutally divided from the western part of the city with barbed-wire and military fortifications. Dozens of Jewish holy places, including synagogues hundreds of years old, were desecrated or destroyed. Gravestones from the ancient Mount of Olives cemetery were uprooted by the Jordanian army and used to pave latrines. Jerusalem's most sacred Jewish shrine, the Western Wall, became a slum. It wasn't until 1967, after Jordan was routed in the Six-Day War, that Jerusalem was reunited under Israeli sovereignty and religious freedom restored to all. Israelis have vowed ever since that Jerusalem would never again be divided.

And not only Israelis. US policy, laid out in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, recognizes Jerusalem as "a united city administered by Israel" and formally declares that "Jerusalem must remain an undivided city." US presidents, Republican and Democratic alike, have agreed. In former President Clinton's words, "Jerusalem should be an open and undivided city, with assured freedom of access and worship for all."

As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama said much the same thing. To a 2008 candidate questionnaire that asked about "the likely final status Jerusalem," Obama replied: "The United States cannot dictate the terms of a final status agreement. . . . Jerusalem will remain Israel's capital, and no one should want or expect it to be re-divided." In a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Council, he repeated the point: "Let me be clear . . . Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."

Palestinian irredentists claim that eastern Jerusalem is historically Arab territory and should be the capital of a future Palestinian state. In reality, Jews always lived in eastern Jerusalem -- it is the location of the Old City and its famous Jewish Quarter, after all, not to mention Hebrew University, which was founded in 1918. The apartment complex that Obama opposes is going up in what was once Shimon Hatzadik, a Jewish neighborhood established in 1891. Only from 1948 to 1967 -- during the Jordanian occupation -- was the eastern part of Israel's capital "Arab territory." Palestinians have no more claim to sovereignty there than Russia does in formerly occupied eastern Berlin.

The great obstacle to Middle East peace is not that Jews insist on living among Arabs. It is that Arabs insist that Jews not live among them. If Obama doesn't yet grasp that, he has a lot to learn.


"LOATHSOME AND UNAMERICAN"

Ken Berwitz

This commentary was written by Tom Skoch, editor of Lorain, Ohio's Morning Journal.

The newspaper is small.  But the point Mr, Skoch makes is huge. 

Read it and see what I mean.  The bold print is mine:

THE EDITOR'S COLUMN: White House call to 'flag' dissent loathsome

"There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can't keep track of all of them here at the White House, we're asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov."

NORMALLY, I'm not one to get fired up about political issues, but this White House crowd is getting to be more than a little overbearing. The paragraph above comes from an Aug. 4 entry on the White House blog.

I'm sure my good and liberal friend, columnist Rich Osborne over on the other page, reads that paragraph as a benign public service announcement from a benevolent administration.

When I read it, I blew a gasket. The White House, basically, is asking me and you to rat out anyone who disagrees with the Obama version of the "truth" on health reform. Free speech? Not if it's something "fishy" that you hear in a "casual conversation" with your neighbor or co-worker. The White House wants you to report those deviant thoughts to "flag@whitehouse.gov" because they just can't keep up with all the people who disagree with them.

Talk about KGB tactics, Chicago-style.

Please don't chime in now about "Bush spied on us."

Neither one of the Bush presidents ever asked Americans to turn in people who disagree with policy proposals. Neither Bush, nor Bill Clinton, ever called here to complain about one of our daily "Our View" editorials.

"Flag" this column to the White House if you want, but they've already got our number.

I know that because one day, only two months after President Obama was inaugurated, a White House functionary called here before noon. She called to complain about an "Our View" editorial that had first hit the street and gone on our Web site only a matter of hours earlier, chastising Obama.

The White House wanted a letter of rebuttal printed. A letter was e-mailed here by a friend of the administration later in the day and we printed it the next day. No problem. Giving readers a diversity of opinion is what this page is all about.

What really burned me up, though, was the lightning speed with which the White House detected some dissent in small, faraway Lorain, and made it a priority to attack within hours. Forget North Korea; put Afghanistan on hold; don't worry about the economy; the White House wants that squeaky wheel in Lorain oiled.

Today, five months later, there must be so many of us squeaks across the nation that the White House can't detect and oil them all. So the Obama Administration is calling upon you to watch and to listen for unfavorable squeaking, and then to squeal to the guardians of the One Truth at flag@whitehouse.gov.

You had better keep a close eye on this White House. Because the Obama White House apparently has its eyes and ears out on the streets watching, listening and ready to 'flag' anyone who doesn't sing their tune.

That is loathsome, and un-American.

--------------------------------------------

Yes it is, Mr. Skoch.  Loathsome and un-American.  And we're going to get at least 1 1/2 more years of it - 3 1/2 if the people of this country don't send a major message to Mr. Obama in the national elections next year.

They can't come fast enough.

Muslims Against Sharia Trailer Trash Bill Warner Has Enlisted in the White House Internet Snitch Brigade Ever since the White House announced the creation of its Internet Snitch Brigade (flag@whitehouse.gov), Americans were waiting for Insane P.I. Bill Warner to join it. And today it finally happened! In "ASSASSINATE BARACK OBAMA PLOTS INCREASE TO 10 RACIST RIGHT WING BLOGGERS FUEL WHITE SUPREMISTS (sic.) SECRET SERVICE SHUT EM DOWN by Bill Warner investigator," Warner writes: "The US Secret Service so needs to investigate "Muslims Against Sharia by Khalim Massoud and Pamela Geller for her Anti-American racist activities on her website, which she operates out of her Manhattan NY apartment, and her incitement to hate by others and the possible murder of President Barack Obama. Contact flag@whitehouse.gov and provide information for websites that promote hate and or attacks against the President of the United States Barack Obama.U.S. Secret Service New York City Office 335 Adams Street 32nd Floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 Telephone: (718) 840-1000" After pretending to file various lawsuits and complaints with the FBI, USSS, County Court, etc., Insane P.I. Bill Warner decided to employ another tactic. He wants the Internet Snitch Brigade to do his dirty work, to defame people who dare to disagree with Warner's demented rants. Could this trailer trash be more of a Nazi? insanepi . blogspot . com PS We offer our sincere apologies to trailer trash for comparing them with Bill Warner. (08/10/09)

Zeke .,.... If Mommy ain't no Commie ..... Ya Gotta turn her in ...... und ve haff vays of making you tawlk. (08/09/09)


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