“Since its inception, the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor has been awarded to those in the State of Texas who have demonstrated extraordinary heroism as a member of state or federal military forces, and there is no one more deserving of this year’s award than Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle,” said Governor Abbott. “Kyle is one of the legions of valiant warriors who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and served our great nation with unrivaled honor, bravery and heroism. For his remarkable valiancy, it is my honor to posthumously award the 2015 Texas Legislative Medal of Honor to Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle.”
A verdict has been reached in the trial of the man accused of killing Chris Kyle, subject of the hit film “American Sniper,” and Kyle’s friend at a Texas firing range two years ago.
The reading of the verdict is expected to begin soon. The jury began deliberations at 7:36 p.m. ET.
No one disputes that Eddie Ray Routh shot and killed the men. But defense attorneys say Routh was insane.
Prosecutors dismiss that claim outright.
“Ladies and gentleman, that is not insanity. That is just cold, calculated capital murder. He is guilty of capital murder. He is not in any way insane,” said attorney Jane Starnes during closing arguments.
She claimed Routh knew the difference between right and wrong.
Starnes urged jurors to “follow the law,” allowing the law to guide them “to the true and correct verdict.”
For its part, the defense pointed to Routh’s long history of mental illness.
“He killed those men because he had a delusion. He believed in his mind that they were going to kill him,” said attorney J. Warren St. John.
Routh’s trial comes in the wake of the release of the film about Kyle, a former Navy SEAL who claimed to be the deadliest sniper in U.S. history, with 160 confirmed kills in Iraq. Read the rest of this entry »
Little is known about Routh, except that attorney J. Warren St. John will attempt to make the case that his client is not guilty by reason of insanity
Since being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in July 2011, her son had been in and out of Veterans Affairs clinics, she said. He showed no progress in two years, and his erratic behavior continued to spiral out of control.
Jodi Routh worked as an aide at the same Midlothian, Texas, elementary school that Chris Kyle’s children attended. Kyle, of course, wrote “American Sniper,” the basis for the blockbuster Clint Eastwood film, and she had heard that The New York Times bestselling author worked with fellow veterans who were having a hard time adjusting to life back home.
“Shortly after his apprehension, Routh confessed to authorities and family members that he killed both men. After becoming aggressive with guards and refusing to give up a spork and dinner tray, he was placed on suicide watch under 24-hour surveillance in the Erath County Jail.”
After the deaths of Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, Beil, who also is a contributing editor for Men’s Health magazine, spent almost four months with Eddie Routh’s family detailing the Marine’s struggles after serving in Iraq and Haiti.
“At the end of the conversation, (Kyle) said, ‘I’m going to do everything I can to help your son.’ She actually cried at that point because it was the first time in over a year that anyone had said that,” Beil told CNN.
Eddie Ray Routh, 27, grew up in the Dallas suburb of Lancaster, about 20 miles east of Midlothian, Kyle’s hometown. He faces murder charges in the 2013 deaths of Kyle, 38, and Littlefield, 35.
“Some of what people have described as his racist tendencies towards Iraqis and Muslims when he was going on some of these, you know, killing sprees in Iraq on assignment,” Mohyeldin said of Kyle, whose career was recently the subject of the blockbuster movie “American Sniper.”
The Egyptian-American reporter told MSNBC’s Morning Joeon Thursday that if audiences “don’t know anything about Chris Kyle — don’t know if it was a true story — this is a great movie.”
[Ayman Mohyeldin (Arabic: أيمن محيى الدين) is an Egyptian-American journalist based in Los Angeles for NBC News. He previously worked for Al Jazeera and CNN. You can send a message to compliment his fine reporting and insightful analysis @AymanM]
But, Mohyeldin argued, the heroic way Chris Kyle is portrayed in the film is “very far from reality.”
“A lot of his own personal opinions about what he was doing in Iraq,” he explained. “How he viewed Iraqis. Some of what people described as his racist tendencies towards Iraqis and Muslims as he was going on some these killing sprees in Iraq.”
Rorke Denver writes: ‘American Sniper,” the new movie about Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, has opened to staggering box-office success and garnered multiple Academy Award nominations. But not all the attention has been positive. The most vocal criticism came in the form of disparaging quotes and tweets from actor-director Seth Rogen and documentary-maker Michael Moore . Both have since attempted to qualify their ugly comments, but similarly nasty observations continue to emanate from the left.
“The very term ‘sniper’ seems to stir passionate reactions on the left. The criticism misses the fundamental value that snipers add to the battlefield. Snipers engage individual threats. Rarely, if ever, do their actions cause collateral damage.”
The bulk of Chris Kyle’s remarkable exploits took place in the Al Anbar province of Iraq in the summer of 2006. He and I were teammates at SEAL Team Three. Chris had always been a large figure in the SEAL teams. He became a legend before our eyes in Ramadi.
My fellow special-operations brothers might be shocked, but I think the comments by Messrs. Rogen and Moore have had the ironic effect of honoring Chris Kyle’s memory. They inadvertently paid Chris a tribute that joins the Texas funeral procession and “American Sniper” book sales and box office in testifying to the power of his story. I’ll get to the punch line shortly, but first please let me lay the groundwork.
“Snipers may be the most humane of weapons in the military arsenal. The job also takes a huge emotional toll on the man behind the scope. The intimate connection between the shooter and the target can be hard to overcome for even the most emotionally mature warrior. The value of a sniper in warfare is beyond calculation.”
The very term “sniper” seems to stir passionate reactions on the left. The criticism misses the fundamental value that snipers add to the battlefield. Snipers engage individual threats. Rarely, if ever, do their actions cause collateral damage. Snipers may be the most humane of weapons in the military arsenal. The job also takes a huge emotional toll on the man behind the scope. The intimate connection between the shooter and the target can be hard to overcome for even the most emotionally mature warrior. The value of a sniper in warfare is beyond calculation.
“My fellow special-operations brothers might be shocked, but I think the comments by Messrs. Rogen and Moore have had the ironic effect of honoring Chris Kyle’s memory. “
I witnessed the exceptional performance of SEAL, Army and Marine snipers on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. They struck psychological fear in our enemies and protected countless lives. Chris Kyle and the sniper teams I led made a habit of infiltrating dangerous areas of enemy-controlled ground, established shooting positions and coordinated security for large conventional-unit movement. Read the rest of this entry »
Murdered by a mentally ill veteran he was counseling in February 2013, Kyle is no longer here to defend himself. But a C-SPAN video from April 2012 does a pretty good job of putting the lie to the Left’s portrait of a remorseless sociopathic killer. Read the rest of this entry »
When it was first announced that Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s life would be made into a movie by Steven Spielberg, my first thought was, “Ummm, how is that going to work? Did Spielberg even read the book? Knowing his politics, I’m pretty sure that it’s going to be a horrible movie.”
Interestingly enough, Mr. Spielberg dropped the project and Clint Eastwood was there to pick it up. “That makes much more sense,” I thought. Now that the trailer is out, it appears as though the world will get the Chris Kyle story it deserves.
“They fry you if you’re wrong.”
How do you win a war when the men responsible for securing victory are paranoid that any mistake they make will land them in prison for the rest of their lives? The answer: You probably don’t win. You lose. Or you wind up pulling out of that country for…
Islamic State proves Kyle was right about the ‘savage’ enemy
“Savage, despicable evil. That’s what we were fighting in Iraq.” Those were among the words the late Chris Kyle, of “American Sniper” fame, used to describe the enemy he and fellow veterans of the Iraq war faced. After seeing images this week of Islamic State jihadists murdering a caged Jordanian pilot by burning him alive, can there be any real doubt that Kyle was right?
“The kidnappers then tied the Egyptian’s hands behind his back and asked him to state his name. . . . After complying, he was about to apologize for his acts, but a man gave a sign to the ‘executioner’ standing behind the hostage, who grabbed the man’s tongue and cut it off, stating that the time for excuses was past.”
We say this as a corner of liberal America has fallen over itself denouncing Clint Eastwood ’s blockbuster biopic of Kyle, who was killed in 2013 by a deranged Marine veteran. HBO’s Bill Maher called him a “psychopath patriot,” and other Hollywood action heroes like Michael Moore have weighed in similarly. Their view is that Kyle must have been inhumane since he killed scores of enemy fighters without being burdened by a guilty conscience.
“After seeing images this week of Islamic State jihadists murdering a caged Jordanian pilot by burning him alive, can there be any real doubt that Kyle was right?”
Yet the kind of butchery that Islamic State likes to advertise via YouTube was the reality Iraqis routinely faced when the Islamic State’s forbear, al Qaeda in Iraq, terrorized entire cities and towns during the height of the Iraq war. Read the rest of this entry »
2014 was the year when truth was optional. 2014 was the year when convenient fabrication was the weapon of choice for celebrities, activists, big business and politicians. 2014 was the Year of the Lie.
“In each case, the liars used their powerful positions to intimidate, harass, marginalize or just plain bilk ordinary people who lacked access to a megaphone with which to shout back.”
Mostly the liars didn’t suffer any repercussions for spreading falsehoods, and most didn’t even seem particularly embarrassed when they were exposed.
Activists told us Michael Brown, who was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 9, was a “gentle giant” who had his hands in the air and was running away when he was shot.
“Feminists keep saying that there is a ‘larger truth’ here — that we are suddenly living in a rape culture’ in which this hideous crime is widely condoned, even though the rate of forcible rate is at its lowest level in 40 years.”
Video images later showed that he had robbed a convenience store shortly before the police confrontation. Then an autopsy report confirmed that Brown was so close to Officer Darren Wilson that he had gunpowder residue on his hand, and that all of the bullets that hit him came from the front, none from the back. Nor where Brown’s palms raised, according to analysis by forensic pathologist Dr. Judy Melinek.
Protesters shrugged at all of this, declaring they would continue to honor Brown’s memory by chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
Demonstrators chant “Hands up, don’t shoot!” on the steps of the National Portrait Gallery in protest a day after the Ferguson grand jury decision to not indict officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown case Nov. 25. Photo: Getty Images
“Even if you don’t find that it’s true, it’s a valid rallying cry.”
— Ferguson protester Taylor Gruenloh
“Even if you don’t find that it’s true, it’s a valid rallying cry,” Ferguson protester Taylor Gruenloh told The Associated Press. If a few black-owned businesses get destroyed, and others are forced out of business by rising insurance costs, who cares? At least the protesters feel righteous.
Similarly, we all know rape is a rampant problem in elite-college fraternities, even if the smoking gun turned out to be a toy pistol. After Rolling Stone’s UVA rape story led to protests, vandalism and cancelled donations, the magazine appended a shrug of a disclaimer to the story and continued to publish the 8,000 word opus on its website.
“If a few black-owned businesses get destroyed, and others are forced out of business by rising insurance costs, who cares? At least the protesters feel righteous.”
Feminists keep saying that there is a “larger truth” here — that we are suddenly living in a “rape culture” in which this hideous crime is widely condoned, even though the rate of forcible rate is at its lowest level in 40 years. When such data don’t bear out the narrative, activists rely heavily on anecdotal evidence like the Rolling Stone story — then say false anecdotes don’t matter either.
“We have a society where rapists are given the benefit of the doubt, often despite overwhelming evidence,” wrote Sally Kohn of CNN, adding that “[Feminists] cannot apologize for erring on the side of a fair, compassionate and credulous hearing of a woman’s account.”
Except being “credulous” with a liar means you aren’t being fair to those she is lying about.
If rape accusations serve as a useful weapon against despised groups, it doesn’t matter whether any individual rape story is accurate. Lena Dunham, who said in her book “Not That Kind of Girl” that she was raped at Oberlin College by Barry, the campus’s “resident conservative,” let this lie simmer for months without anyone calling her on it. Then National Review’s Kevin Williamson wrote that a few seconds of Googling led directly to a prominent Republican who was at Oberlin at the same time as Dunham and has the highly unusual name Barry.
This Barry, who was getting increasingly worried that people were whispering that he was a rapist, seemingly had no recourse against Dunham’s lie. Though he has never met her, filing suit would make him a public figure, one forevermore associated with rape (albeit a false accusation thereof). It wasn’t until he began soliciting donations for a legal fund that Dunham’s publisher offered to write a check and Dunham herself finally acknowledged that no “Barry” had sexually assaulted her. She had, she said, merely picked the name as a pseudonym.
So it was just one of those unfortunate coincidences that she happened to accidentally smear an easily identifiable proponent of a political party she despises. Read the rest of this entry »
Now, Eastwood is working on his next project, about three friends who stopped a terrorist attack two years ago on a train in France. One of them, a U.S. Air Force enlisted man named Spencer Stone, did something very few people have done and lived to tell about: Without a weapon or anything to defend himself, he charged a fanatical and heavily armed enemy, knocking him to the ground. And then he and his friends, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler, disarmed the man and rendered him unconscious, saving dozens, if not hundreds, of innocent lives in the process.
“It was a very important event, because there were so many people on the train, and the guy had hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and he could have done a tremendous amount of damage,” Eastwood said. “And there’s no reason to think he wasn’t going to.”
At his office on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, Eastwood is busy these days refining the shooting schedule, while his casting directors are choosing the actors, costumers are picking the outfits, and set designers are planning the shots — all routine tasks for a major Hollywood picture. But the film, “The 15:17 to Paris,” which Eastwood says will probably be released later this year, has a story that promises to be unprecedented in its heart-stopping impact, yet which carries a timeless message of people putting their lives on the line to protect others.
“My buddies and I were on a trip around Europe,” Stone told The Pine Cone this week from a family cabin at Lake Tahoe. He’d known the men — Sadler, a student at Sacramento State, and Skarlatos, a member of the Oregon National Guard — since their childhood in a Sacramento suburb. “Anthony and I started the trip in Rome, and then we went to Venice, Munich and Berlin. And then Alek, who was coming off a tour of duty in Afghanistan, joined us in Amsterdam.”
Their next destination was to be Paris, and on August 21, 2015, they boarded a high-speed train set to leave Amsterdam at 3:17 p.m. (15:17 on the 24-hour clock used in Europe) for the French capital. “As we boarded,” Stone said, “we noticed there didn’t seem to be any security — no metal detectors, no bag check. Nothing.”
But they didn’t think much about it, and the men — off duty and in civilian clothes — soon settled into their first class seats, had a meal and a little wine, checked the internet, and promptly went to sleep.
“We were always on the go, and for us, trains rides were a chance to take a nap,” Stone said.
A brief stop at the Gare Midi in Brussels woke them up — but for only a moment, Stone said. They had no idea a 25-year-old Moroccan man, Ayub El Ghazzani, had boarded in Brussels carrying a deadly backpack.
A man running and glass shattering
As the train hurtled through the European countryside, the three friends dozed, and the next thing Stone remembers was being awakened when a train crew member sprinted past him toward the front of the train. Taking off his noise-reducing headphones, Stone says he heard glass shatter behind him, and people gasping and screaming. Turning around to look in the direction of the noise, he saw El Ghazzani, shirtless and with a backpack attached to his chest, bend down at the end of the car and pick up an assault rifle.
“It was an AK-47, and he was trying to load a round, and I immediately knew he was a terrorist,” Stone said.
And this was no movie. Suddenly confronted with what was sure to be a life-or-death situation, the Air Force man hesitated for just a moment. Read the rest of this entry »
“I believe it had a chilling effect on conservative news.”
Michael Nunez reports: Facebook workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential “trending” news section, according to a former journalist who worked on the project. This individual says that workers prevented stories about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics from appearing in the highly-influential section, even though they were organically trending among the site’s users.
“It was absolutely bias. We were doing it subjectively. It just depends on who the curator is and what time of day it is. Every once in awhile a Red State or conservative news source would have a story. But we would have to go and find the same story from a more neutral outlet that wasn’t as biased.”
Several former Facebook “news curators,” as they were known internally, also told Gizmodo that they were instructed to artificially “inject” selected stories into the trending news module, even if they weren’t popular enough to warrant inclusion—or in some cases weren’t trending at all. The former curators, all of whom worked as contractors, also said they were directed not to include news about Facebook itself in the trending module.
“Depending on who was on shift, things would be blacklisted or trending. I’d come on shift and I’d discover that CPAC or Mitt Romney or Glenn Beck or popular conservative topics wouldn’t be trending because either the curator didn’t recognize the news topic or it was like they had a bias against Ted Cruz.”
In other words, Facebook’s news section operates like a traditional newsroom, reflecting the biases of its workers and the institutional imperatives of the corporation. Imposing human editorial values onto the lists of topics an algorithm spits out is by no means a bad thing—but it is in stark contrast to the company’s claims that the trending module simply lists “topics that have recently become popular on Facebook.”
These new allegations emerged after Gizmodo last week revealed details about the inner workings of Facebook’s trending news team—a small group of young journalists, primarily educated at Ivy League or private East Coast universities, who curate the “trending” module on the upper-right-hand corner of the site. As we reported last week, curators have access to a ranked list of trending topics surfaced by Facebook’s algorithm, which prioritizes the stories that should be shown to Facebook users in the trending section. The curators write headlines and summaries of each topic, and include links to news sites. The section, which launched in 2014, constitutes some of the most powerful real estate on the internet and helps dictate what news Facebook’s users—167 million in the US alone—are reading at any given moment.
“Depending on who was on shift, things would be blacklisted or trending,” said the former curator. This individual asked to remain anonymous, citing fear of retribution from the company. The former curator is politically conservative, one of a very small handful of curators with such views on the trending team. “I’d come on shift and I’d discover that CPAC or Mitt Romney or Glenn Beck or popular conservative topics wouldn’t be trending because either the curator didn’t recognize the news topic or it was like they had a bias against Ted Cruz.”
The former curator was so troubled by the omissions that they kept a running log of them at the time; this individual provided the notes to Gizmodo. Among the deep-sixed or suppressed topics on the list: former IRS official Lois Lerner, who was accused by Republicans of inappropriately scrutinizing conservative groups; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; popular conservative news aggregator the Drudge Report; Chris Kyle, the former Navy SEAL who was murdered in 2013; and former Fox News contributor Steven Crowder. “I believe it had a chilling effect on conservative news,” the former curator said. Read the rest of this entry »
Mohyeldin, who is a Muslim, used his MSNBC perch Tuesday, not to condemn the murderous savages in his faith who attempted to murder Pam Geller and Geert Wilders at a free speech event, but to demand a culture change in America that would not “allow” people to engage in what he calls “hate speech” against Islam.
[The full transcript of his fascist bed-wetting is here]
And as one would expect from NBC News, through omission, Mohyeldin lied through his teeth in order to pretend Islam is the only religion in America openly ridiculed.
Three days from now, the Academy Awards will give its top prize to one of eight nominees, with Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood and Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s Birdman currently leading the pack as favorites to take home Best Picture. But there’s a Not-So-Little Engine That Might in this illustrious group, a dark horse that could sneak across the finish line in first before the night is done, decimating scores of pundit predictions in the process. Clint Eastwood’sChris Kyle biopic American Sniper remains a long shot to pull it off, and yet as Sunday approaches, there are many reasons to believe that the Iraq War drama has a chance at pulling off a stunning upset. We’re not saying it willwin, but given the reasons below, it now definitely has a shot at Oscar’s most coveted statuette.
1. It’s the Popular Choice
At $309 million strong just in the U.S., American Sniper is already the second-highest-grossing R-rated film in movie history,and its $16.4 million haul last weekend means that it isn’t ready to slow down just yet—and, in fact, it may benefit from a post-Oscar telecast boost. Primed to be one of 2014’s most lucrative films, it exists in a different stratosphere than the rest of the Best Picture nominees, and its A+ CinemaScore rating means that audiences actively love it. While the Oscars rarely award films simply because they’ve made boatloads of cash, American Sniper is the one contender that boasts both a resounding critical and commercial endorsement. It’s the people’s choice.
2. The Indie Split
Further helping American Sniper’s odds is the fact that, while it stands as the natural mainstream choice for Oscar voters, its two main competitors both occupy a quirky-arty-indie space. Consequently, Boyhood and Birdman (and even, to a lesser extent, The Grand Budapest Hotel) may find themselves directly battling each other for votes, rather than American Sniper. If those two smaller-scale efforts split the “indie” vote just enough, it may allow American Sniper to surpass them both in the final tally.
3. Old Hollywood Eastwood
As usual, much has been made this awards season about the demographics of the Academy, which is heavily skewed toward older, white members. That may also wind up aiding American Sniper, considering the film’s pedigree as the latest work from 84-year-old Clint Eastwood. One of Hollywood’s old guards, Eastwood has a living-legend aura about him that could very well prove endearing to Academy voters disinclined to bet on younger auteurs with long careers still in front of them. True, Eastwood has already helmed two Best Pictures (1992’s Unforgiven, 2004’s Million Dollar Baby), but it’s not a crazy stretch to imagine some voters trying to further augment his legacy with a third winner. Read the rest of this entry »
Nasser Karimi reports: Iran’s supreme leader has criticized the film “American Sniper,” saying the movie about a U.S. soldier fighting in Iraq encourages violence against Muslims, a state-run newspaper reported Tuesday.
The comments by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, published in the daily IRAN Farsi newspaper, come amid renewed criticism of the West by the leader as his country negotiates with world powers over its contested nuclear program.
“The movie ‘Sniper’ that is made by Hollywood encourages a Christian or non-Muslim youngster to harass and offend the Muslims as far as they could…You are seeing what sort of propaganda there are against Muslims in Europe and the U.S.”
— Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
The newspaper quoted Khamenei as saying he hadn’t watched the film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper, but had heard about its plot from others. The film focuses on the life of U.S. Navy SEAL marksman Chris Kyle, who with 160 confirmed kills is considered the most lethal sniper in American military history.
“The movie ‘Sniper‘ that is made by Hollywood encourages a Christian or non-Muslim youngster to harass and offend the Muslims as far as they could,” the newspaper quoted Khamenei as saying.
Khamenei also reportedly discussed neo-Nazis attacking Muslims in Germany, saying Muslims have no safety in the West.
“You are seeing what sort of propaganda there are against Muslims in Europe and the U.S.,” he reportedly said.
The newspaper said Khamenei made the comments while meeting representatives of Iranian religious minorities in the country’s parliament three weeks ago. The newspaper did not explain why it was publishing the comments now. Read the rest of this entry »
‘I lost track of how many soldiers and Marines told me of their frustration with an American media that so often describes them as either nuts or victims’
Michael J. Totten writes: Clint Eastwood’s new film, American Sniper, is a blisteringly accurate portrayal of the American war in Iraq. Unlike most films in the genre, it sidesteps the politics and focuses on an individual: the late, small-town Texan, Chris Kyle, who joined the Navy SEALs after 9/11 and did four tours of duty in Fallujah, Ramadi, and Baghdad. He is formally recognized as the deadliest sniper in American history, and the film, based on his bestselling memoir, dramatizes the war he felt duty-bound to fight and his emotionally wrenching return home, with post-traumatic stress.
“All psychologically normal people feel at least some hatred for the enemy in a war zone. It’s not humanly possible to like or feel neutral toward people who are trying to kill you. Race hasn’t the faintest thing to do with it.”
The movie has become a flashpoint for liberal critics. Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore dismissed the film out-of-hand because snipers, he says, are “cowards.” “American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglorious Basterds,” comic actor Seth Rogen tweeted, referring to a fake Hitler propaganda film about a Nazi sniper, though he backtracked and said he actually liked the film, that it only reminded him of Nazi propaganda. Writing for the Guardian, Lindy West is fair to Eastwood and the film but cruel to its subject. Kyle, she says, was “a hate-filled killer” and “a racist who took pleasure in dehumanizing and killing brown people.”
The Navy confirms that Kyle shot and killed 160 combatants, most of whom indeed had brown skin. While he was alive, he said that he enjoyed his job. In one scene in the movie, Kyle, played by a bulked-up Bradley Cooper, refers to “savages,” and it’s not clear if he means Iraqis in general or just the enemies he’s fighting.
“What would you think of a man who kills a kid with a power drill right in front of you? Would you moderate your language so that no one at a Manhattan dinner party would gasp? Maybe you would, but Kyle wasn’t at a Manhattan dinner party.”
But let’s take a step back and leave the politics aside. All psychologically normal people feel at least some hatred for the enemy in a war zone. This is true whether they’re on the “right” side or the “wrong” side. It’s not humanly possible to like or feel neutral toward people who are trying to kill you. Race hasn’t the faintest thing to do with it.
“Here’s a medical fact: psychopaths don’t suffer from post-traumatic stress or any other kind of anxiety disorder. And cowards don’t volunteer for four tours of duty in war-torn Iraq.”
Does anyone seriously believe Kyle would have felt differently if white Russians or Serbs, rather than “brown” Arabs, were shooting at him? How many residents of New York’s Upper West Side had a sympathetic or nuanced view of al-Qaida on September 11, 2001? Some did—inappropriately, in my view—but how many would have been able to keep it up if bombs exploded in New York City every day, year after year?
Hating evil is just as important as loving the good. Because if you don’t, you’re likely to give evil a pass
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach writes: American Sniper is a film of soaring patriotism and an ode to our courageous military. For too long Americans have lived with only two percent of the population losing arms and legs and dying so that the other ninety-eight percent can be safe and free. If we’re not going to copy the heroes of the military at least we can salute them. But the prerequisite of gratitude is knowledge and so few of us really know how much our military sacrifices that it’s hard to feel indebted. That’s what makes American Sniper a movie that portrays Hollywood at its best, telling the story of a valiant and selfless soldier with complexity, truth, and depth.
“What American Sniper is really about is the battle by decent men against truly dark forces of wickedness. The American soldiers who battle the terrorists in Iraq do not hide their contempt for the killers. They hate them, despise them, loathe them, and want to kill them.”
So why are so many people on the left attacking the film? What is their issue with a hero like Chris Kyle, who dedicated his life to saving Americans from murder and was himself killed when he tried to help a psychologically damaged marine?
In this photo taken from video by Nigeria’s Boko Haram terrorist network, Monday May 12, 2014 shows the alleged missing girls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok. The new video purports to show dozens of abducted schoolgirls, covered in jihab and praying in Arabic. It is the first public sight of the girls since more than 300 were kidnapped from a northeastern school
“The most accurate standard in judging our commitment to humanity is the extent to which we fight to preserve life. For some that fight involves research in a lab to defeat cancer. For others it involves climbing a ladder in a terrible inferno to rescue a stranded child. And for some it involves going to war against barbarous terrorists so that they cannot blow up pregnant women.”
The answer lies in our failure to hate evil. What American Sniper is really about is the battle by decent men against truly dark forces of wickedness. The American soldiers who battle the terrorists in Iraq do not hide their contempt for the killers.
“Churchill spoke openly of his utter hatred of Hitler…And because he hated the beast he inspired a nation to fight him. The French, who did not hate Hitler, collaborated with him and sent Jews and many others to the gas chambers instead. But on the political left, hatred has gone out of vogue.”
They hate them, despise them, loathe them, and want to kill them. Not because they have any bloodlust and not because they enjoy violence. Rather, they are committed to life and are well aware of the fact that the only way to prevent the murderers from slaughtering the innocent is through the necessary evil of conflict.
“Hating evil is just as important as loving the good. To be truly righteous, it’s not enough to love good people. You have to hate—and fight—bad people.”
From time immemorial theologians have debated what makes a person truly righteous. How do we know when someone’s faith is sincere? Some say it is evidenced by a love of humanity. But I have met legions of confirmed atheists who are the finest human beings alive.
“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
Others argue that it is martyrdom and a readiness to lay down one’s life for a great cause. But suicide bombers blow themselves up in the name of their faith all the time. Still others argue that goodness is judged by religious ritual observance. But we all know religious people who are devout church and synagogue-goers but who are utterly unethical in other spheres.
Like many movie goers I prefer to avoiding reading detailed reviews of movies before I see them, then enjoy reading a series of them right after. With the controversy surrounding American Sniper, it’s almost impossible to avoid exposure to what’s being said and written (and we’ve covered plenty of that controversy in the last few weeks) so it made even more of a challenge to stay away from reviews until I had an opportunity to see it myself.
A few hours ago, I finally saw American Sniper. I’ve only read a few reviews so far–and I plan add some of our own commentary soon–but this New Yorkerreviewimmediately struck me, because I prejudged the source. Admittedly unfair, but I don’t see the island of Manhattan as a place to expect anything but veiled score for Clint Eastwood, dislike of war films in general, and snarling distaste for this movie in particular. I’m happy to be completely wrong. Though it’s a short capsule double-movie review, given second-billing to Selma, all due credit to New Yorker film critic David Denby, for a positive, respectful, and insightful review of American Sniper.
“Clint Eastwood’s ‘American Sniper‘ is both a devastating war movie and a devastating antiwar movie, a subdued celebration of a warrior’s skill and a sorrowful lament over his alienation and misery.”
The following comment is one of the most admiring things a critic can say about a filmmaker:
“Eastwood’s command of this material makes most directors look like beginners. As Kyle and his men ride through rubble-strewn Iraqi cities, smash down doors, and race up and down stairways, the camera records what it needs to fully dramatize a given event, and nothing more.”
And this characterization of Eastwood’s skill and talent as a director is perfectly summarized:
“There’s no waste, never a moment’s loss of concentration, definition, or speed. The general atmosphere of the cities, and the scattered life of the streets, gets packed into the action…” Read the rest of this entry »
Dan Henninger writes: Barack Obama was 15 minutes into his State of the Union speech when I arrived home to watch it, having just walked back from seeing “American Sniper.”
“Watching a movie about a Navy SEAL who served four tours fighting in Iraq was not the best way to enhance the experience of a Barack Obama speech. As a matter of fact, it was pretty unbearable.”
Because Clint Eastwood directed “American Sniper” the movie is about more than the story of Chris Kyle, the highly skilled rifle marksman from Texas. In 2006, Mr. Eastwood presented two movies about the famous World War II battle of Iwo Jima. “Letters from Iwo Jima” told the story from the perspective of Japanese soldiers, and “Flags of Our Fathers” from the Americans’ side.
“Watching “American Sniper,” it is impossible to separate these catastrophes from seeing what the Marines did and endured to secure northern Iraq. Again, anyone is entitled to hate the Iraq war…”
So “American Sniper” is not a crude paean to “our boys” in the Iraq war. What it does is convey the extraordinary personal, psychological and physical sacrifice of the U.S. Marines who fought al Qaeda i”n Fallujah, Ramadi and the other towns of Iraq’s Anbar province beginning in 2003 and through the period of the Anbar Awakening, which ended with the Marines pacifying the province.
“…But no serious person would want a president to make a decision that would allow so much personal sacrifice to simply evaporate…”
It’s just a movie, so even “American Sniper’s” small slice only hints at the price America paid—some 3,500 combat deaths and another 32,000 wounded—to bring Iraq to a point of relative, if fragile, stability in 2011.
“…Which, in his serene self-confidence, is what Barack Obama did. That absolute drawdown was a decision of fantastic foolishness.”
Opinions will differ, often bitterly, on the war in Iraq and the reasons for it. In the movie, a painful funeral scene captures that ambivalence. But what is just not possible to choke down is President Obama’s decision in 2011 to reduce the U.S.’s residual military presence to virtually zero. It was a decision to waste what the Marines and Army had done. Read the rest of this entry »
Resonating With People in Smaller Cities, Military Film Has Huge $105.3 Million Debut Weekend
Ben Fritz and Dan Molinski Steve Smith: an Army veteran and schoolteacher, walked out of a movie theater in Plano, Texas, on Saturday with tears in his eyes. After years of movie studios getting the military experience wrong with films like “The Hurt Locker,” the 33-year-old said, “American Sniper” had nailed it.
“’American Sniper’ garnered better reviews than ‘Lone Survivor’ or ‘Unbroken’ and, unlike the latter two, received multiple Academy Award nominations, including for best picture—helping to ensure it performed well across the country and wasn’t exclusively a ‘red state’ phenomenon.”
Based on the memoir of Chris Kyle, reputed to be the deadliest sniper in the American military during the Iraq war, “American Sniper” opened to a phenomenal $105.3 million in the U.S. and Canada over the four-day holiday weekend, according to an estimate from distributor Warner Bros., owned by Time Warner Inc.
“What these movies share is they’re utterly unironic. They treat American values honorably.”
— Michael Moses, Universal’s co-president of marketing
Its success was driven in large part by moviegoers like Mr. Smith who live in smaller cities and don’t regularly go to the multiplex.
“Chris Kyle was a fellow veteran, a fellow Texan. He’s very much a true legend,” Mr. Smith said while holding hands with his wife, Crystal. “So it was basically a foregone conclusion I’d be here as soon as it opened.”
“When the phone calls started coming in from exhibitors, I realized we had something special happening in the South and in small towns where our movies sometimes find it difficult to resonate.”
— Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros.
Such a massive opening for a mid-budget drama was perhaps Hollywood’s biggest surprise since “Avengers” blew away box-office records by opening to $207 million in 2012. “Sniper,” directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper, enjoyed the largest opening ever for a drama or R-rated film and more than doubled the prior record for Martin Luther King Day weekend.
“Its success is the strongest evidence yet that audiences including veterans and cultural conservatives who are more concentrated in the South and Midwest feel underserved by Hollywood and will turn out in droves for movies that are inspiring, patriotic and sincere.”
Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures also had surprising success last month with the historical military drama “Unbroken” and last year with the Afghan war movie “Lone Survivor.”
“Opening-night audiences gave “Sniper” an average grade of A+, according to market-research firm CinemaScore.”
Eight of the top 10 markets for “American Sniper” were in the South or Midwest, including San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Houston, Nashville and Albuquerque. Typically, major cities like New York and Los Angeles dominate the top theater rankings for a successful film because they have larger concentrations of frequent moviegoers and higher ticket prices.
All five of the top theaters for “Lone Survivor” were in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, while “Unbroken” performed extremely well in small cities such as Mesa, Ariz., and Lehi, Utah. Meanwhile, all three movies underperformed in the Northeastern U.S. and Canada, compared with the norm. Read the rest of this entry »
Kipp Jones reports: Clint Eastwood’s Iraq War biopic shattered box office records over the extended holiday weekend, after only debuting in four theaters nationwide.American Sniper, which was directed by Eastwood and stars Bradley Cooper as famed navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, became the top specialty debut of the year and the best ever for a limited Christmas release.The film reportedlå
Clint Eastwood’s Iraq War biopic shattered box office records over the extended holiday weekend, after only debuting in four theaters nationwide.
“This was the perfect film for Clint, and Bradley Cooper is one of the great American actors of today.”
— Dan Fellman, the head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros.
American Sniper, which was directed by Eastwood and stars Bradley Cooper as famed navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, became the top specialty debut of the year and the best ever for a limited Christmas release.
The film reportedly brought in $850,000 from four theaters over a period of four days, an average of $212,000 per location for Warner Bros.
Clint Eastwood’s Navy SEAL drama, which stars Bradley Cooper, is set to get an Oscar-qualifying run on Dec. 25
Clint Eastwood’s latest film, American Sniper, will get a sneak peek screening at AFI Fest. The drama will be shown at a screening on Tuesday, Nov. 11, at 9 p.m. at the Egyptian Theatre.
“Clint Eastwood is an American icon. His are stories that stand the test of time, and we are proud and honored to unveil his latest masterpiece.”
— A statement from AFI president Bob Gazzale
The Navy SEAL drama, which stars Bradley Cooper, is set to get an Oscar-qualifying run on Dec. 25 in select theaters before expanding Jan. 16. The film, a Warners/Village Roadshow co-production, is based on a 2012 autobiographical book written by Chris Kyle.
Eastwood is in early talks to direct the movie, based on the autobiography of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
Steven Spielberg was previously on board to direct the project but left earlier this month after he and the studio couldn’t come to agreement on a budget. (The parting of ways was quite amicable, according to several sources.) Bradley Cooper is attached to star and has been developing the project as a producer.
If a deal is made, that puts Eastwood in a tight schedule squeeze. The veteran filmmaker is about to begin directing Jersey Boys, the adaptation of the Broadway musical about the rise and fall of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
Sniper must shoot early next year because of Cooper’s many commitments. But Eastwood is famously known for his short and efficient shoots, so the studio has no fear that he won’t be able to pull it off.
Sniper is an adaptation of Kyle’s book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. It reveals how Kyle came to record the highest number of sniper kills for an American. The book has been praised for its frankness in telling a first-person account of a warrior who shoots from far and close distances.
Kyle was killed at a shooting range by a fellow veteran in February.
Kyle Smith writes: What’s the deal with young people today? “They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist,’ ‘That’s sexist,’ ‘That’s prejudice,’” Jerry Seinfeldtold ESPN’s Colin Cowherd this week. “They don’t know what the f—k they’re talking about.”
“I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative.”
— Chris Rock
Comics are afraid to work on college campuses, Seinfeld said. To give an idea of how young people think, he cited a bizarre response his 14-year-old daughter made when his wife noted that the girl might want to go to New York City from the suburbs more often “So you can see boys.” The girl replied that the remark was “sexist,” her father said.
“There is a word…That word is illiberal; there is nothing ‘conservative’ about it.”
Various reports say nearly 60 photos of Lawrence in various stages of undress circulated after a hacker posted them to 4chan, the Internet’s screaming id, alongside similarly racy leaked photos of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kate Upton, Victoria Justice, Ariana Grande, and allegedly many others—all of them women.
Kirsten Dunst photos were also swept into the controversy, though no statement has been issued
Winstead confirmed in dispiritingtweets that her pics were real, but Justice and Grande have denied it. (TMZ quotes a Grande tweet, “My petite ass is much cuter than that,” though it’s not on her Twitter page anymore.)
Meanwhile, the presumed stockpile of penis photos taken by Hollywood actors remains curiously untouched.
Intimate images of the actress, who stars in “The Hunger Games” film franchise and won an Academy Award for her role in “Silver Linings Playbook,” began appearing online on Sunday. Naked images purporting to be of other female stars were also posted, although the authenticity of many of the images could not be confirmed. The source of the leak was unclear.
“Once images and other data are uploaded to the cloud, it becomes much more difficult to control who has access to it, even if we think it is private.”
— Security researcher Ken Westin
“This is a flagrant violation of privacy,” Lawrence’s publicist Liz Mahoney wrote in a statement. “The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence.”
Mahoney declined to provide further details, including which authorities were contacted. Lawrence, 24, is a three-time Oscar nominee. Read the rest of this entry »
Vulture’s Matt Zoller Seitz views the finale as a “Dickensian reckoning,” a Christmas Carol with Walt as the bitter ghost Marley, wandering around shaking his chains and recriminations at everyone:
In scene after scene, Walt doesn’t so much enter significant spaces as materialize within them … It all feels a bit like karmic punishment expressed via clever compositions — as if Breaking Bad itself has had enough of Walter and is shunning him.
It’s an interesting take, but I can’t help but read a little bit of wishful thinking into his contention that it’s impossible to say Walt won. Well, I mean, sure, he dies, and he’s disgraced in the eyes of his family. There’s nothing clean. But for a half-season that basically sapped Walt of all his strengths, revealed him to not be quite as effective a knocker as he thought he was, Walt was pretty reinvigorated for one last hurrah. Though he didn’t get what he was aiming for at that fateful pool party, he did get all of his dark side’s desires — his family has money, everyone knows his name, he killed those dastardly Nazis. Seitz sees Walter’s admission to Skyler that he “did this for me” as a confession, and if it is, well, what more would he actually want?
Jonah Goldberg writes: Last night’s Emmys were terrible. The lavish dance numbers, the painfully lame jokes, the creepy gay double entendre from Michael Douglas, when he accepted an Emmy for his even creepier portrayal of Liberace, made for a ploddingly unentertaining evening. And Jeff Daniels’s win for best actor in a drama series for his work in HBO’s faux-highbrow Newsroom was so ridiculous only an MSNBC roundtable could applaud it.
But they got at least one thing right: AMC’s Breaking Bad won best dramatic series on television. If you haven’t seen the show, AMC will run the entire series this week in a marathon leading up to the series finale. You should watch or record it. It not only represents something new in the history of television, it represents a categorical improvement in the very nature of television. Read the rest of this entry »