Saturday, November 30, 2013

Surrender in Geneva

Iran got everything it wanted. 

Friday, November 29, 2013


By Ann Coulter
November 27, 2013

Back in September, The New York Times promoted Bill de Blasio's mayoral candidacy with an editorial titled, "Don't Fear the Squeegee Man." The editorial informed readers that crime wouldn't get worse under de Blasio because "policing is far better than it used to be,thanks to innovations by Mayor David Dinkins." (Emphasis added -- the Times was not being sarcastic.)

Under the policing "innovations" of Mayor Dinkins, the annual murder rate in New York City rose to an all-time high of 2,245 in Dinkins' first year in office. After four years of hard work, the murder rate had dropped by about 10 percent, to a merely astronomical 1,995 per year.

In Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's very first year in office, the murder rate fell 20 percent. The Times acknowledged the dramatic drop in crime with an article titled, "New York City Crime Falls But Just Why Is a Mystery." By Giuliani's last year in office, there were only 714 murders in the entire city, a drop of 64 percent from Dinkins' personal best. By continuing Giuliani's aggressive crime policies, Mayor Michael Bloomberg got the murder rate for 2012 down to 419 in a city of 8 million people.

But at the Times, they think we've been living in hell since Giuliani's election, and the most urgent priority for the next mayor is to get back to Dinkins' New York.

They're not alone. (Thus de Blasio's election.) In 2001, Richard Goldstein of The Village Voice announced on MSNBC'S "Hardball," "I feel less safe today in New York City than I did 20 years ago." This was a position Goldstein developed after taking a vow to never leave his apartment, allow visitors, read a newspaper, watch TV or listen to the radio.

A couple of weeks ago, the Times ran another item downplaying the coming crime surge under Mayor de Blasio. Former hedge fund manager Neil Barsky wrote a column mocking his fellow 1-percenters for fretting about the new mayor with this advice: "Calm down." (I find few balms as soothing as being told to "calm down.")

Reluctantly, Barsky admitted (17 times) that he is a very rich man. As he explained, he, too, enjoys the city having been turned into a "a millionaires' playground" and having a mayor who is "one of us." (Bloomberg's not one of me, buster.) He sniffed that he found "this affluent angst more than a bit overwrought."

They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

Liberal zealots view de Blasio as a breath of fresh air because he's stuck in policies of the 1960s. That's when Americans were assured by brain-dead liberals that if we could just improve criminals' self-esteem, crime would disappear. You'll see!

The result? The violent crime rate quadrupled.

We never got an apology on behalf of the tens of thousands of Americans who were murdered, maimed, raped and robbed as a direct result of liberal law enforcement strategies -- much less the show trials these people deserved.

Liberal activists just waited out Giuliani and Bloomberg. Now they're ready to retry all the old ideas. Mayor-elect de Blasio recently met with convicted criminals to get their views on policing policies. Wow! Look at de Blasio's new ideas!

The ex-cons actually complained to de Blasio that they don't like being watched so much.

The left simply refuses to believe that locking up criminals has any effect on crime and insists we just need to explain to them that committing violent felonies is wrong. (New York Times headline from Aug. 10, 2000: "Number in Prison Grows Despite Crime Reduction.") It's strange because liberals totally understand cause-and-effect when it comes to ... well, um, nothing.

Suggesting that the "1 percent" – such as himself -- are the most terrified of a de Blasio mayoralty, Barsky claimed that the massively rich have been the primary beneficiaries of record-low crime rates in New York -- "those who can actually afford its housing, attend concerts in Lincoln Center, eat in its fancy restaurants and pay for parking to boot."

That could be said only by someone who has never been the victim of a violent crime. Could someone please mug this guy?

The rich in New York are always the last to experience a spike in crime. They might not even notice when the murder, rape and robbery rates go through the roof under de Blasio -- for the very reasons Barsky names: They can afford expensive neighborhoods, paid parking and concerts at Lincoln Center.

It's the poor and middle-class New Yorkers, unprotected by doormen, chauffeurs and ticket-takers, who will be the first victims of de Blasio's innovative new ideas on policing.

The non-1 percent live in neighborhoods that aren't the province of multimillionaires, with doormen standing guard every 15 yards. They park their cars on the street, eat lunch in public parks and attend free concerts -- all of which are also open to criminals. New-wave Brooklyn is about to become crime-wave Brooklyn.

For a newspaper that claims not to be worried about rising crime rates under de Blasio, the Times sure dedicates a lot of ink to assuring us that it's not going to happen – and if it does, it won’t be de Blasio’s fault. In anticipation of a return to the glory days of David Dinkins, let me be the first to say, I told you so.


An outbreak of lawlessness

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok
For all the gnashing of teeth over the lack of comity and civility in Washington, the real problem is not etiquette but the breakdown of political norms, legislative and constitutional.
Such as the one just spectacularly blown up in the Senate. To get three judges onto a coveted circuit court, frustrated Democrats abolished the filibuster for executive appointments and (non-Supreme Court) judicial nominations.
The problem is not the change itself. It’s fine that a president staffing his administration should need 51 votes rather than 60. Doing so for judicial appointments, which are for life, is a bit dicier. Nonetheless, for about 200 years the filibuster was nearly unknown in blocking judicial nominees. So we are really just returning to an earlier norm.
The violence to political norms here consisted in how that change was executed. By brute force — a near party-line vote of 52 to 48 . This was a disgraceful violation of more than two centuries of precedent. If a bare majority can change the fundamental rules that govern an institution, then there are no rules. Senate rules today are whatever the majority decides they are that morning.
What distinguishes an institution from a flash mob is that its rules endure. They can be changed, of course. But only bysignificant supermajorities. That’s why constitutional changes require two-thirds of both houses plus three-quarters of the states. If we could make constitutional changes by majority vote, there would be no Constitution.
As of today, the Senate effectively has no rules. Congratulations, Harry Reid. Finally, something you will be remembered for.
Barack Obama may be remembered for something similar. His violation of the proper limits of executive power has become breathtaking. It’s not just making recess appointments when the Senate is in session. It’s not just unilaterally imposing a law Congress had refused to pass — the Dream Act — by brazenly suspending large sectionsof the immigration laws.
We’ve now reached a point where a flailing president, desperate to deflect the opprobrium heaped upon him for the false promise that you could keep your health plan if you wanted to, calls a hasty news conference urging both insurers and the states to reinstate millions of such plans.
Except that he is asking them to break the law. His own law. Under Obamacare, no insurer may issue a policy after 2013 that does not meet the law’s minimum coverage requirements. These plans were canceled because they do not.
The law remains unchanged. The regulations governing that law remain unchanged. Nothing is changed except for a president proposing to unilaterally change his own law from the White House press room.
That’s banana republic stuff, except that there the dictator proclaims from the presidential balcony.
Remember how for months Democrats denounced Republicans for daring to vote to defund or postpone Obamacare? Saboteurs! Terrorists! How dare you alter “the law of the land.”
This was nonsense from the beginning. Every law is subject to revision and abolition if the people think it turned out to be a bad idea. Even constitutional amendments can be repealed — and have been (see Prohibition).
After indignant denunciation of Republicans for trying to amend “the law of the land” constitutionally (i.e. in Congress assembled), Democrats turn utterly silent when the president lawlessly tries to do so by executive fiat.
Nor is this the first time. The president wakes up one day and decides to unilaterally suspend the employer mandate, a naked invasion of Congress’s exclusive legislative prerogative, enshrined in Article I. Not a word from the Democrats. Nor now regarding the blatant usurpation of trying to restore canceled policies that violate explicit Obamacare coverage requirements.
And worse. When Congress tried to make Obama’s “fix” legal — i.e., through legislation — he opposed it. He even said he would veto it. Imagine: vetoing the very bill that would legally enact his own illegal fix.
At rallies, Obama routinely says he has important things to do and he’s not going to wait for Congress. Well, amending a statute after it’s been duly enacted is something a president may not do without Congress. It’s a gross violation of his Article II duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
A Senate with no rules. A president without boundaries. One day, when a few bottled-up judicial nominees and a malfunctioning health-care Web site are barely a memory, we will still be dealing with the toxic residue of this outbreak of authoritative lawlessness.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Iran After Geneva

America’s wisdom and will are likely to be tested over the months ahead. 

Chief negotiator Catherine Ashton and Iran's foreign minister announce agreement on Iran's nuclear program early on Sunday, November 24 in Geneva. (Getty Images)

To be fair, the document signed in Geneva is not meant to neutralize the threat posed by those who rule Iran. It is meant only to be a “confidence building” measure, a first step toward the “comprehensive solution” that President Obama envisions — or at least hopes for.

It’s not a treaty, just a “plan of action,” though its purpose, at least from the Western perspective, is to induce inaction — to persuade Iran’s rulers to halt their development of nuclear weapons. In exchange, America and the West are to stop economically ostracizing Iran. In this first phase, however, the centrifuges will continue to spin, while sanctions pressure is reduced. Small wonder Iran’s rulers have been celebrating.

The preamble to the plan states: “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek or develop any nuclear weapons.” President Obama reads that as a significant concession. But it is a claim that Iran’s rulers have repeated many times in the past. We know beyond any reasonable doubt that they have not been telling the truth. So it may seem to Iran’s rulers that the United States and other nations are now complicit in the big lie that the nuclear infrastructure they have assembled is intended only to provide electricity for kindergartens and hospitals that prefer not to rely on Iran’s abundant petroleum reserves. Call me a “naysayer” but that doesn’t build my confidence.

Several commentators have compared Geneva 2013 to Munich 1938. It is today commonly accepted that the deal Neville Chamberlain concluded with Germany’s Nazi rulers was a desperate and wrongheaded attempt to secure “peace for our time” through appeasement. Chamberlain faced what Winston Churchill called a “choice between war and dishonor.” Churchill told the British prime minister, “You chose dishonor and you will have war.”

Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens rightly points out that Chamberlain actually had little choice because Britain lacked the “military wherewithal to stand up to Hitler.” That was because British politicians, with the encouragement of the British public, had for years declined to invest in Britain’s armed forces — despite the rise of militants in Germany.

Also worth recalling: After Munich, Chamberlain was hailed as a hero, his agreement applauded as a great victory for diplomacy. Churchill, by contrast, stood virtually alone — denounced as a “war monger.” Opinions would change only after much of Europe was under the Nazi jackboot. Liberating Europe would require a far bloodier conflict than would have been necessary had Hitler’s ideology and ambitions been confronted earlier. Those now suggesting a parallel between Munich 1938 and Geneva 2013 may be wrong — count me among those who hope that’s the case. But it cannot be wise for us to close our ears to echoes of the past.

The ideology of Nazism called for the creation of a racial aristocracy. The ideology Iran’s rulers embrace calls for a religious aristocracy. Utopian theories rooted in atheism were the principle cause of carnage in the 20th century. Is it really inconceivable that the principle cause of carnage in the 21st century will be utopian theories proclaimed to be ordained by God?

In 1935, Hitler commissioned an infamous film called “Triumph of the Will.” Its theme was Germany’s claim to global supremacy. Last week, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei addressed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, sometimes likened to Hitler’s Brown Shirts. My colleague, Reuel Marc Gerecht, a Farsi speaker and former CIA operative, noted that Khamenei spoke of zurazma’i, a struggle of wills. The Supreme Leader (the word for that in German is Führer) stressed that proud Muslims have the will to win. He implied that decadent Westerners do not.

America’s wisdom and will are likely to be tested over the months ahead. Iran’s rulers interpret the Plan of Action as recognition of what they insist is their inalienable “right to enrich” uranium. They also foresee the collapse of the sanctions regime that, most analysts agree, brought them to the negotiating table to begin with.

Six months down the road the Plan of Action is to be superseded by a “comprehensive solution.” Watch for delays — at least past the 2014 U.S. elections. If there is to be a serious agreement, members of Congress might want to insist that it be regarded as a treaty — which members of the U.S. Senate would ratify only if they are persuaded that the U.S. gets at least as much as it gives.

My best guess (and I’d prefer to be wrong): Sooner rather than later, the sanctions rope unravels. Once that happens, Iran’s rulers — the world’s leading sponsors of terrorism abroad, egregious abusers of human rights at home, and nuclear proliferators — offer less, not more. There will be calls to reestablish and even enhance economic pressure but it may be too late. Iran’s rulers will continue toward their near-term goal: a quicksilver nuclear-breakout capability.

Their longer-term goals include hegemony over the Middle East, control of the region’s vast petroleum resources and the Strait of Hormuz (vital to the international economy), and impunity for the terrorists they sponsor. Non-proliferation will be as dead as disco — the Saudis and others will obtain the weapons they need to defend themselves against what they understand to be a dangerous and unpredictable enemy. (Israel, they have always known, is not that.) Over the decades ahead, the odds of a major war, one in which nuclear weapons are used, will rise; as will the possibility of terrorists acquiring and deploying nukes. This will be the legacy we leave our children.

It is often forgotten that once Hitler’s lies and ambitions became manifest, Chamberlain did not go off to write a book and make speeches defending his decision at Munich. Instead, he resigned the prime ministership and joined the war cabinet of the critic who succeeded him, a singular statesman who courageously led Britain through the years of bloodshed and peril that followed.

— Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on national security.

Thank you, Hobby Lobby

by Michelle Malkin
November 27, 2013
David Green, the founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
Religious liberty is front and center on the nation’s Thanksgiving table. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. The family-owned craft store company is intrepidly challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare’s abortion coverage mandate. Hobby Lobby’s faithful owners deserve our thanks and praise as they defend freedom of conscience for all Americans.
The privately held retail chain’s story is the quintessential American Dream. Founder David Green started out making mini picture frames in his Oklahoma garage in 1970. He recruited his two sons, Mart and Steve, to pitch in at an early age. The family’s first establishment took up a tiny 300 square feet of retail space. Hobby Lobby now runs nearly 600 stores across the country, employs 13,000 people and topped $2 billion in sales in 2009.
The Greens’ Christian faith is at the heart of how they do business. They are dedicated to integrity and service for their customers and their employees. The debt-free company commits to “honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles,” as well as “serving our employees and their families by establishing a work environment and company policies that build character, strengthen individuals and nurture families.”
The company donates more than 10 percent of its income every year to charity. All stores are closed on Sundays to allow employees more family and worship time. It’s the company’s dedication to biblical principles that led Hobby Lobby in April to raise full-time employees’ starting minimum wage to $14 an hour at a time when many other firms have been forced to slash both wages and benefits.
“We believe that it is by God’s grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees,” CEO David Green pointed out. “We’ve not only added jobs in a weak economy; we’ve raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start at 80 percent above minimum wage.”
Many of Hobby Lobby’s employees are single moms working two jobs. Green doesn’t need federal mandates to tell him how to treat and retain good employees. He does it because it is the “right thing to do.” While countless businesses have been forced to drop health insurance for their shrinking workforces during the Age of Obama, Hobby Lobby headquarters opened anonsite comprehensive health care and wellness clinic in 2010 with no co-pays.
Hobby Lobby employees are covered under the company’s self-insured health plan, which brings us back to the company’s legal case. Last September, Hobby Lobby sued the feds over Obamacare’s “preventive services” mandate, which forces the Christian-owned-and-operated business to provide, without co-pay, abortion-inducing drugs including the “morning after pill” and “week after pill” in their health insurance plan. The company risked fines up to $1.3 million per day for defying the government’s coercive abridgement of their First Amendment rights.
As Lori Windham, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Hobby Lobby in its court battles, said at the time: “Washington politicians cannot force families to abandon their faith just to earn a living. Every American, including family business owners like the Greens, should be free to live and do business according to their religious beliefs.” Amen.
This summer, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals exempted Hobby Lobby from the abortion mandate and allowed the business to avoid those crippling fines while pursuing its case. Now, the Supreme Court will decide whether Democratic Party pandering trumps bedrock constitutional principles.
Planned Parenthood femme-a-gogues, Senate Democratic leaders, Christian-bashing celebs and atheist bullies immediately attacked Hobby Lobby for “denying women access to birth control.” The lies and religious persecution, especially on the eve of America’s national holiday commemorating the pilgrims’ escape thereof, are unconscionable. Hobby Lobby’s company health insurance plan covers 16 of the 20 FDA-approved contraceptives required under the Obamacare mandate — at no additional costs to employees. What Hobby Lobby refuses to do is to be forced to cover abortifacients that violate the owners’ faith and conscience.
Every employee is aware of the founders’ history, devout work ethic and faith. No one is forced to work at Hobby Lobby. If workers want birth control, they can pay for it themselves. (And unlike so many other service workers, they have more take-home pay to spend on the “preventive services” of their choice.)
The intolerant control freaks at the White House took to Twitter right after the Supreme Court announcement to pile on the pander to the Sandra Fluke/Lena Dunham wing of the Democratic Party. “Birth control should be a woman’s decision, not her boss’s,” Team Obama tweeted. That’s precisely the argument against federally mandated health care benefits enforced by government in violation of religious liberty and subsidized by employers and taxpayers against their will. Let’s pray the Supreme Court sees the light.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Black Mob Violence: New Denials... and New Violence

November 26, 2013

NBC News and the Associated Press want you to know there is no such thing as black mob violence. Especially in the hundreds of cases of Knockout Game now receiving so much attention in local and national media across the country.
Ditto the Washington Post, ABC News and the Philadelphia Inquirer. And this weekend, the New York Times.
The rules of the Knockout Game are simple: Gather a group of black people. Find a white person. An Asian will do. Punch them in the face until they are knocked out. Or dead. Or your arms get tired.
If you relied on local and national news accounts, you would not know the violence has a racial component. But the video solves that problem.
Many episodes of black mob violence and mayhem -- including the Knockout Game -- are recorded on video and posted on YouTube. Or Facebook. Or even bragged about on Twitter
But that does not matter much to NBC and AP. Heck, the New York Times says the Knockout Game is probably just an "urban legend."
With one difference: This time we have Big Foot on Video. Thousands of them.
But that does not matter to the deniers. As part of the flurry of news stories surrounding the Knockout Game this week, media outlets trotted out a psychologist who says ignore the video. Ignore the overwhelming evidence of black mob violence. There's no pattern in the predators. Or in the white and Asian victims:
"It's hard to excuse this behavior, there's no purpose to this," Jeffrey Butts, a psychologist specializing in juvenile delinquency, told the AP. "When someone runs into a store and demands money, you can sort of understand why they're doing it, desperation, whatever.
But just hitting someone for the sheer thrill of seeing if you can knock someone out is just childish."
This model of denial of the racial component of black mob violence is popularized in dozens of seminars around the country every year at local and national chapters of the National Association of Professional Journalists.
Their advice for covering racial violence? Don't.
It also echoes what Jesse Washington, AP's race reporter, told your humble correspondent about racial violence after the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin. No such thing, quoth he. At least not black on white.
More and more national and local news outlets are picking up the beat: Despite the avalanche of news stories on the Knockout Game, most still ignore the central organizing feature of the violence: The attackers are black -- and the victims are not.
Stop the Presses: This week, a white person was involved in a Knockout Game in Philadelphia. And an Arab played Knockout with a Jew in Brooklyn. So "all" is no longer correct. The new number is this: 99.98 percent of the attackers are black.
NBC affiliates around the country got into the act last week as well. After ignoring dozens of recent examples of black mob violence over the last two years, NBC weighed in with yet another shrink:
People with Type T personalities, which characterizes risk-takers and thrill-seekers, are motivated to commit violent acts, like smacking strangers in public, according to Professor of Educational Pyschology Frank Farley.
"Many of the perpetrators may be these T types and one of their things is pushing the envelope," Farley told NBC Philadelphia. "It's risky to go up and slap someone in public."
NBC and its witch doctor may be unclear about the level and intensity of racial violence across the country. But the readers at the Washington Post are not. After a recent story about the Knockout Game in Washington, they unleashed a storm of critical fire at the paper for refusing to tell the truth about black mob violence.
Here's just one of many comments:
"It is amazing how the Washington Post can report about this phenomenon without the issue of racial violence coming up one into the discussion. It is a shame that honesty took a back seat to what is really going on here."
Philadelphia is center of denial as well as violence. The City of Brotherly Love has been the scene of more than 100 episodes of black mob violence over the last three years. Some resulting in permanent injury and death, many on video. It got so bad that two years ago, Mayor Michael Nutter went to a black church to plead with black people to stop the black mob violence.
More recently, local media has reported more than five recent cases of the Knockout Game in Philly. Black mob violence is also such a regular event at Overbrook High School in Philadelphia that a school staffer recently appeared on the local CBS affiliate to plead with parents and police for help with the violence and anarchy that are an everyday part of life at this black high school:
"It's mayhem. Students are in the halls, they're smoking in the bathroom; cigarettes, marijuana," said a worker at the school, who asked not to be identified. "We can't contain them and it's really hazardous for us working and these kids are not being educated at all."
"It's a zoo in here. Parents really need to come up here and see what's going on in this school because it's ridiculous," said the worker.
The staffers remarks echo earlier comments from 2010, when a federal judge found that black students at South Philadelphia High School had assaulted and harassed Asian students daily -- for years.
The principal said she did not call police because she did not want to "criminalize" the black students.
Even so, the Philadelphia Inquirer dutifully ignores the epidemic of black mob violence in schools, downtown, and the gentrified South Philadelphia neighborhood.
"But it's unclear if the trend even exists," said the paper this week.
The Inquirer received a Pulitzer last year for its reporting on violence in Philadelphia schools. But if you want to learn anything from the series about racial violence, bring your magnifying glass to read about it -- because most of the time the topic is discussed only to to minimize it. Or say how much better it is today than before -- when the Inquirer ignored it even more completely.
The upward trend of racial harmony was not clear to Steve Huber earlier this year when he wrote an article for Philadelphia Magazine titled "Being White in Philly." Huber talked about the unrelenting racial violence and the fear it creates among white people.
Mayor Nutter said the article was "disgusting" and called for an investigation by the City's Human Rights Commission.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, again, took a back seat on racial crime and violence: The article was seen as "dwelling on negative experiences that whites had with blacks that often fit into racial stereotypes."
Racial Journalism 101: Crime statistics are stereotypes. But leave them out and the story is "anecdotal." Best not to do anything. Class dismissed.
Marlin Newburn has seen and experienced black mob violence and black on white crime from many different angles: As a Detroit college student. A court appointed psychologist. A prison psychologist. He recently retired from 30 years in the criminal justice system, up close and personal with racial violence like the Knockout Game.
"The media's claim of racial non-discrimination borders on a comic-tragedy," Newburn said. "The simple response to their efforts to protect the Black Grievance Industry's false message is to note the race of the victims. From working with black felons over the years, one learns they share two common traits: Perpetuate the fantasy of black victimhood by the hands of whites, and to always be race loyal. Victims are chosen by race and ease of assault."
Thus the pattern where there is "no pattern."

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Film Reviews: 'Dallas Buyers Club'

‘Dallas Buyers Club’ movie review: Matthew McConaughey triumphs

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Dallas Buyers Club

There was a time, not so very long ago, when Matthew McConaughey was on the verge of becoming a punch line, if not a cautionary tale, an erstwhile new-thing-on-the-block who squandered early hype and promise on naked escapades involving bongo drums and ill-advised romantic comedies. The actor who turned heads in a scene-stealing cameo in “Dazed and Confused” then succumbed to pathologically publicity-savvy packaging in his “serious” screen debut in “A Time to Kill” had somehow wound up making “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.”
A couple of years ago, though, McConaughey regained his footing, returning to the very instincts — part old-soul, part gonzo — that got him to the big show in the first place. With films like “The Lincoln Lawyer” (see it if you haven’t), “Bernie,” “Killer Joe,” “Magic Mike,” “The Paperboy” and this year’s sublime coming-of-age drama “Mud,” McConaughey claimed his rightful place in America’s dark heart, a snaky, sinewy shape-shifter whose anti-heroics, even at their sleaziest, possessed an almost pastoral purity and innocence.
McConaughey has doubled down on the persona in “Dallas Buyers Club,” an alternately wrenching and exuberant fact-based drama for which he famously shed nearly 40 pounds to play an emaciated HIV patient. As Texas electrician Ron Woodroof, McConaughey delivers the performance of his career, characterized not just by an astonishing physical transformation but by a wellspring of deep compassion and fearlessness. Together with co-star Jared Leto — whose facial and corporeal transformation is every bit as startling — McConaughey personifies the kind of blazing, all-in commitment that defines screen acting at its simplest and its best.
From its very first scene, “Dallas Buyers Club” announces what kind of tough, even tawdry world it intends to inhabit: At a rodeo where cowboys are hurled into the ground like yard darts, Woodroof embarks on a wild, panting assignation of his own in the form of a furtive sexual encounter with two women in a stall just outside the ring. The year is 1985, and the gaunt, stringy Woodroof is leading the life of a large-livin’ good old boy whose drinking, gambling and hard partying eventually catch up with him in the form of a flu he can’t shake.
Except it isn’t flu, and the scene in which Woodroof learns from physician Eve Saks (Jennifer Garner) that he has contracted the AIDS virus is just the first of several in which McConaughey exhibits uncanny powers of expression, spontaneity, control and restraint. “Dallas Buyers Club” is nominally about Woodroof’s simultaneous efforts to overcome social stigma and buck the medical establishment and bring non-FDA approved treatments to desperate patients. But really the movie is about choices, in this case a protagonist’s unspoken evolution from homophobia to a begrudging, vaguely haunted humanism; an actor’s decision not to compulsively seek the audience’s love and approval; and a filmmaker’s decision to keep what might have become a saccharine parable of uplift on a harder, riskier edge.
Director Jean-Marc Vallée keeps “Dallas Buyers Club” real by rejecting high gloss in favor of a more spare, stripped-down visual style; reportedly he used only natural light to film, which keeps the often seedy subculture that Woodroof inhabits from becoming too cozy. But if that world — of trailer-park orgies and cheap motels, drug addicts and hookers — isn’t all sweetness and light, it isn’t devoid of heart. The soft, vulnerable soul of “Dallas Buyers Club” is a transsexual named Rayon (Leto), a misfit and fellow AIDS patient whom Woodroof initially spurns but who eventually becomes his business partner.
As a rousing, reality-inspired tale of someone sticking it to The Man, as well as a sober social history and sentimental chronicle of unlikely friendship and love, “Dallas Buyers Club” could have gone wrong in myriad ways, most of them having to do either with overkill or pompous self-seriousness. But Vallée, working with a lean, lively script by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack, neatly avoids excess, letting Woodroof’s terrific yarn stand on its own and getting out of the way of his extraordinary actors, who channel the story without condescension or manipulative cheats. McConaughey and Leto may have the showiest roles, but Garner deserves equal praise for her sensitive, straightforward performance.
“Dallas Buyers Club” never allows viewers to forget that it’s taking place within an epidemic of staggeringly tragic proportions. But neither does it allow that grievous context to negate the energy and sheer entertainment value of Woodroof’s gutsy journey across the high wire between certain death, survival and redemption. Thanks to a wily coyote of a protagonist — and the actor who has made such characters such gratifying cinematic figures of late — “Dallas Buyers Club” turns the facts of a life into deeply grounded emotional truth. McConaughey hasn’t just become the devil we know. He’s become the one we love.
★ ★ ★ ★
R. At area theaters. Contains pervasive profanity, some strong sexual content, nudity and drug use. 117 minutes.

The Price of Redemption: Matthew McConaughey Goes the Distance in Dallas Buyers Club

A moving portrait of accidental AIDS activist Ron Woodroof

By Rex Reed
October 29, 2013

Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey, a mumbling Hollywood-honed Texas actor with a severely limited range whom I have never much liked on the screen, goes the distance at last and wins the crown. In Dallas Buyers Club, the cocky, preening, mewling drawl that whistles through his teeth in every film works in his favor to present a perfect picture of reluctant real-life hero Ron Woodroof, the hateful, brawling, womanizing, homophobic Dallas electrician and redneck rodeo cowboy who turned out to be one of the accidental saviors of gay men during the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. It’s a true story, turned with precision and care into one of the most riveting and inspiring films of the year.

In 1985, Ron Woodroof was clueless about AIDS. He was a brawling, drunken, chain-smoking, drug-dealing, foul-mouthed bigot with no concern for the sick and disenfranchised of the world and scarcely little more for his own health. (In fact, the first scene shows him in a cocaine-hazed three-way with two trashy whores in a rodeo holding pen; it gets raunchier from there.) When a minor work accident lands him in the hospital, the doctors discover he has HIV and a near-fatally low blood count of 9 T-cells. He goes viral, reacting with his fists. But when his lady doctor (Jennifer Garner) predicts he has about 90 days to live, he starts reviewing his options. Unwilling to participate in clinical trials aimed at homosexuals and forced to settle for limited doses of the toxic government-approved experimental drug AZT, he bribes a hospital orderly, then crosses the border into Mexico to investigate alternative treatments. First thinking only of his own selfish needs, extending the drug smuggling business to other unfortunates in need of illegal medications looks like a good investment. As his immune system plummets and he develops pneumonia, the only meds that help are not approved by the FDA, so he imports them, disguised as a priest. Pretty soon, to his horror, he finds himself going into business, with a desperate gay community as his clientele and a flamboyant drug-addicted transsexual named Rayon (an amazing Jared Leto) as his business partner, traveling to Amsterdam, Japan and Israel to buy the newest advances in AIDS drugs. Together, this unspeakably mismatched odd couple establishes a Dallas buyers club made up of HIV-infected members who pay a $400 monthly fee for the latest treatments unapproved by the FDA. As a 30-day death sentence stretches into seven years of prolonged life, Ron Woodroof learns what it feels like to be rejected and shunned by his own fellow roughnecks and becomes a leading authority on AIDS with an encyclopedic knowledge of the pandemic, fighting the pharmaceutical companies, the AMA, FDA, CIA and IRS in court for dignity, education and human rights. It’s the story of a lout who finds redemption through unexpected motivation, becoming an accidental activist in the process and learning a valuable lesson in humanity about how to help others after it’s too late to help himself.

Losing 50 pounds for the role, Mr. McConaughey looks like a cadaver as he more than gives his all for his art. His shocking weight loss is the first thing you’ll notice, but he grows on you in sensitivity and stature. Jennifer Garner is fine as the sympathetic doctor who risks her own career to help him. But it is Jared Leto—fearless, funny, openhearted, sympathetic and totally believable as the transsexual who opens Woodroof’s eyes to people and lifestyles he cannot begin to understand—who literally steals the picture. What a performance from an actor who grows in stature every time out of the starting gate. Meticulously researched by writers Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack (the actual Ron Woodroof was a consultant, contributing hours of taped interviews before he died in 1992) and directed by Canadian Jean-Marc Vale (Young Victoria) with a refreshing, no-nonsense lack of sentiment, Dallas Buyers Club represents the best of what independent film on a limited budget can achieve—powerful, enlightening and not to be missed.


Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée
Written by: Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto
Running time: 117 min.
Rating: 4/4
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