Saturday, June 20, 2015

Jaws: The shark that changed everything

By Liam Lacey
June 25, 2012

Steven Spielberg

“It's all psychological,” says Mayor Vaughn in Jaws, “You yell ‘barracuda,’ everybody says, ‘Huh? What?’ – you yell ‘shark,’ we've got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July.”
Panic on the Fourth of July has become commonplace at the movies since Jaws was first released in 1975. As the film hits Toronto screens in advance of its Blu-ray release in August, it’s right at home with box-office bait such as Prometheus and Spider-Man.
That’s because Jaws, the tale of a great white shark that terrorizes a small seaside town, remains the template for summer blockbusters. Over the years, of course, there have been a few changes. Instead of three white men (Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw), our saviours might be African-Americans or women.
But thanks to Jaws, the summer movie now means non-stop action, spectacle and suspense mixed with snippets of grim comedy. And thanks to Jaws, Hollywood now makes more than half of its revenues from May to August with just the kind of movies that have a natural kinship with the summer theme park rides they inspire.
The film even evoked reactions suited to theme park rides. At a Dallas preview for Jaws, Steven Spielberg recalls, he saw a man rush out of the theatre after the scene where the shark kills a child. The nervous director assumed he was seeing the beginning of a mass exodus. Instead, the man vomited onto the lobby carpet, went to the washroom – and then returned to his seat.
“That’s when I knew we had a hit.”
Jaws was something more than just a hit, however, It represents a decisive turning point in Hollywood movie history, as big in its way as The Jazz Singer or Avatar.
To start, it brought a decisive end to a five-year box office recession, becoming the first movie to earn $100-million (U.S.). It was also the first movie to be widely advertised on television (up to 35 spots a night). And the film’s influence includes a steady stream of creature features – from Ridley Scott’s Alien (pitched as “Jaws in space”) to this year’s spoof Piranha 3DD.
More importantly, the movie ushered in the rise of the B-movie in Hollywood. When Peter Benchley, the author of the bestselling novel the movie is based on, sneered that Spielberg would be remembered only as a “unit director” of action sequences, he missed the point: Hit movies from then on would be primarily about action sequences.
For some film lovers, in fact, Jaws is seen as the beginning of the end of auteur-driven New Hollywood, with Spielberg serving, as author Peter Biskind has put it, as the “Trojan horse through which the studios began to reassert their power."
It wasn’t necessarily an easy ride for the studios, though. In another now familiar pattern, the story of Jaws’s tumultuous creation has become part of its marketing. Two books have been published about the making of the movie – one by an islander from Martha’s Vineyard (where the film was shot), another by the film’s scriptwriter. The upcoming Blu-ray will include four hours of material, including a new documentary, that gives fresh meaning to the cliché of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. As Richard Dreyfuss said, “We began without a script, without a cast and without a shark.”
There were actually three mechanical sharks. But on the third day, one of them sank. The production was also shut down several times for shark repairs. A ten-week shooting schedule for a $3.5-million film soon turned into a five-and-a-half month shoot that ran closer to $10-million.
Spielberg later said he finally had to resort to something that was foreign to him: “subjugate absolute control to meaningful collaboration.”
Still, the first cut was reputedly a mess. Because the mechanical shark often looked phony, it became essential to cut around it, using implication rather than a physical object to create fear. John Williams’s two-note Jaws theme, echoing the sound of a heartbeat, became the primary terror device. (Williams won an Academy Award for best dramatic score, with Jaws also picking up prizes for best editing and best sound.)
Spielberg, of course, eventually went on to direct films both more weighty and more slight. With Jaws, though, he made his most purely successful entertainment – perhaps because he allowed himself to be subjugated to meaningful collaboration.
A classic, wrote Raymond Chandler, is a piece of writing that “exhausts the possibilities of its form and can never be surpassed.” When it comes to a movie that mixes popular folksiness and sudden jolts of terror, Jaws is no doubt a classic. And for good and bad, we’re still bobbing up and down in its giant wake.
Jaws begins a week-long run at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox on Friday ( The film will be released in Blu-ray on Aug. 14.

Timeless Terror

Steven Spielberg’s Jaws turns 40.

By Paul Beston
June 19, 2015

To mark the 40th anniversary of its debut, Jaws is back, playing in brief engagements in selected theaters around the country. The occasion gives audiences a chance to see Steven Spielberg’s second feature film as it originally appeared, on the big screen, where it became for a time not only the highest-grossing movie ever made, but also, apart from The Exorcist, the most visceral, propulsive film-going experience anyone could remember. In summer 1975, the lines at movie theaters stretched around the block. A pop cultural force as unstoppable as its ravenous star character, Jaws spawned tee shirts, toys, and a shark craze that, naturalists would soon lament, gave Great White Sharks a bad name and helped eventually land the species on the endangered list.

The plot of Jaws is simple: Amity Island, a summer resort community, is terrorized by a series of shark attacks. From the opening bars of John Williams’s dread-inducing score—which, more than anything, suggests inevitability—audiences were hooked. People slumped in their seats, screamed, covered their faces—then laughed at the release of tension and applauded. The respites were brief. They knew the terror would return, even if glimpses of the shark were few. For much of the film’s first half, viewers mostly saw—and heard—the monster’s handiwork: the screaming, thrashing woman attacked in the opening scene; the unfortunate young boy on a raft who dissolves in a geyser of blood before a crowded beach of swimmers and sunbathers; and the local scout leader knocked out of his small paddleboat and devoured.

The girl’s killing goes unaddressed, the boy’s causes a panic, and the scout leader’s results in the closing of the beaches and the hiring of an experienced, if slightly mad, local fisherman, Quint, to hunt and kill the shark, by now identified as a massive Great White. Quint (played by the inestimable Robert Shaw) takes along two partners: Amity’s police chief, city slicker and aquaphobe Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), and a wealthy young oceanographer and shark expert, Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfus). They become one of the great movie trios, playing off one another the rest of the way. When Brody utters the movie’s most-quoted line—“You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” after he first sees the shark—he expresses the middle-class man’s deep consciousness of limits, an instinct for which Quint has little regard. Hooper navigates a middle ground between the two, sharing Brody’s rationalism but aligned with Quint in his relish of the chase and his love of the sea.

The shark expedition forms the second part of Jaws, after the shark has had its way with hapless swimmers and we have gotten to know the distinct and opposing personalities of the three leads. The hunt draws obvious parallels to Moby Dick, and Quint is a clear analogue for Ahab—but Jaws has been interpreted in other ways over the years, too, including (somehow) as a parable about Watergate. The Peter Benchley novel on which the movie was based is filled with subplots about transplanted New Yorkers (the Brodys) marooned in beach towns, extramarital affairs, and politicians’ ties with the mafia. But the movie wisely pares all that back and puts the “fish story,” as Benchley called it, center stage. From the moment the trio sets sail, Jaws never lets up on the viewer—and the pace had been breathless already.

Though frightening to watch, Jaws wasn’t scary in the way that gives one nightmares, like Psycho or Halloween. Instead, it tapped into a universal, if submerged, fear—of the water and what might be lurking there, and of the nagging anxiety (not confined to water) that we might be devoured by forces as old as the world. Uncannily, just as Jaws neared its anniversary this past week, sharks provided fresh reinforcement for these intuitions: two teenage bathers were attacked in North Carolina and a ten-year-old was bitten in Florida.

Jaws had a famously troubled production, going way over budget and way past schedule, and the 27-year-old Spielberg worried that his career might sink with it. The expensive mechanical shark rarely worked, and the director had to get creative by “implying” the shark’s presence, on the timeless suspense principle that we’re more afraid of what we can’t see than what we can. It worked: people were frightened by Jaws because they never knew when the shark was coming, and the underwater shots of bathers emphasize how vulnerable we are when we leave dry land.

From its chaotic birth, Jaws became a landmark in Hollywood, widely credited with (or blamed for) creating the summer blockbuster. It did all this without a website, a Twitter feed, or downloadable clips from YouTube. When you walked out of the theater, the only way to see Jaws again was to pony up for another ticket. In the age before on-demand everything, movies had to be sought out, at least in comparison with today. And somehow, this relative scarcity—like the scarcity of the shark in the movie—fixed them in the mind. I’ve carried scenes from Jaws in my head since 1975, and I’ve never put a foot into salt water without thinking of sharks.

Perhaps this has to do with the tender age (nine) at which I first saw Jaws, at a theater in the Golf Mill shopping center in Niles, Illinois. It proved to be the movie-going thrill of my life. Of course, young minds are famously impressionable; as adults, we struggle to remember what happened yesterday, or to reconstruct even vivid conversations, while events from decades past are imprinted on our memories. Last weekend, I watched Jaws for the first time in many years, on DVD. My wife, a few years younger than I, didn’t grow up with Jaws and had never watched it all the way through. Yet I noted how she flinched at all the same scenes—and her unease reminded me of how my mother and father twitched, too, in that movie theater long ago. Near the end, she turned to me and said, “This is really pretty good.”

“You should have seen it on the big screen,” I said. Forty years? Jaws is ageless.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Time for Huma Abedin to Come Out of the Shadows

Posted By Joseph Klein On June 19, 2015 @ 12:08 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 1 Comment
huma_hillary_7_ap_605_605[1]Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s longtime confidante, is currently the vice chair of her 2016 presidential campaign. “I’m not sure Hillary could walk out the door without Huma,” Clinton adviser Mandy Grunwald said back during the days of Hillary’s first run for the presidency. 

Huma and Hillary are inseparable, including having been linked together on a private e-mail network while Ms. Clinton was Secretary of State and Ms. Abedin was her deputy chief of staff. If Hillary Clinton were to be elected president of the United States, Ms. Abedin will no doubt be right there with Hillary as her right hand person in the White House. And that may well be a major coup for the Muslim Brotherhood, whose strategic plan calls for destroying Western civilization from within and “‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers…”

In view of her background [2] that involves the Muslim Brotherhood, it is time for Huma Abedin to come out of the shadows and reveal exactly what she did and whom she communicated with while at the Clinton State Department.

Huma Abedin is the daughter of Saleha Mahmood Abedin, who has had ties to numerous Islamist organizations including the Muslim Brotherhood.  During her youth, Huma lived with her family in Saudi Arabia, where they had re-located from Michigan and where she was exposed to the Wahhabi jihadist ideology, before returning to the United States at the age of 18.

In the late 1990’s, while Huma Abedin was interning in the Bill Clinton White House and began her long association with Hillary Clinton, she served as an executive board member of George Washington University’s Muslim Students Association, which had its roots in the Muslim Brotherhood.

Huma Abedin later worked at the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs (IMMA) as the assistant editor of its in-house publication, the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs (JMMA). Her mother was the editor of JMMA, taking over from Huma’s father after he had died. Huma’s tenure as assistant editor overlapped with that of a wealthy Saudi individual with reported al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood ties, Abdullah Omar Naseef, who had recruited her father to move to Saudi Arabia to lead the IMMA think tank.  Although Huma severed her own ties with the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs when she began her service in Hillary Clinton’s State Department, Huma’s brother and sister have remained involved with the journal.

The Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs – an Abedin family project in which Huma Abedin was deeply involved – espouses the Islamic supremacist ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. As Andrew McCarthy noted, Huma Abedin herself “spent 12 years working at a journal intended to aid Islamic domination of the West.”

Nevertheless, Hillary relies on Huma Abedin and trusts her completely, which will give Ms. Abedin extraordinary influence in a Hillary Clinton administration.

“The picture that emerges from interviews and records suggests a situation where the lines were blurred between Ms. Abedin’s work in the high echelons of one of the government’s most sensitive executive departments and her role as a Clinton family insider,” according to a May 2013 report in the New York Times.

While serving as Hillary’s deputy chief of staff at the State Department, Huma Abedin had access to the most highly sensitive government information, which included developments in Libya both before and after the tragic killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans that resulted from the Sept. 11, 2012 jihadist terror attack in Benghazi.  Moreover, with Huma whispering in her ear as her key adviser on the Middle East, Hillary oversaw the Obama administration’s pivot towards engaging with the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups in Egypt and Libya.

The Obama administration decided in 2011 to formally expand its engagement with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood group, after the Obama administration had so enthusiastically supported the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Hillary Clinton declared at the time that “we welcome…dialogue with those Muslim Brotherhood members who wish to talk with us.” The Obama administration then reportedly intervened behind the scenes to help the Muslim Brotherhood’s choice for president, Mohammed Morsi, prevail in the presidential run-off election over his more secular army-backed rival.

Huma Abedin’s mother Dr. Saleha Mahmood Abedin is a chairperson of the International Islamic Committee for Woman and Child, which had strongly advocated for Sharia laws to replace more secular laws in Egypt under the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood dominated government. As Nonie Darwish, the author of The Devil We Don’t Know; The Dark Side of Revolutions in the Middle East and President of noted in a Frontpage Magazine article entitled Huma Abedin’s Mother and an Islamist Agenda [3], “Huma did not keep a distance from her mother’s activities when she introduced Secretary Clinton to her activist mother. During Clinton’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the US Secretary of State visited and spoke at the Islamic college of Dar El-Hekma together with Huma, where Dr. Saleha Abedin was a vice-dean and one of its founders.”
That visit took place in 2011, at the very time that the Obama administration was expanding its outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood and was embracing the “Arab Spring.”

When Morsi himself was forced out of power by another popular revolt in 2012, the Obama administration was displeased and suspended certain military aid to the successor regime for about 18 months.

In view of what the Obama administration had believed in 2011 were positive developments in Egypt that had led to the downfall of President Mubarak and his replacement with a “democratic” government dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, Hillary Clinton led the charge within the Obama administration to repeat such regime change in Libya. She urged action to overthrow the Gadhafi regime in Libya after the start of an “Arab Spring” uprising in that country. In August 2011, Jake Sullivan, another of Hillary’s deputies, wrote in an internal email that “HRC has been a critical voice on Libya in administration deliberations, at NATO, and in contact group meetings–as well as the public face of the U.S. effort in Libya. She was instrumental in securing the authorization, building the coalition, and tightening the noose around Qadhafi and his regime.”

Hillary “dismissed the warnings offered by career military and intelligence officials,” according to a Washington Times article dated January 28, 2015 that described the contents of certain secret audio recordings reportedly recovered from Tripoli:
Mrs. Clinton was headstrong to enter the Libyan crisis, ignoring the Pentagon’s warnings that no U.S. interests were at stake and regional stability could be threatened. Instead, she relied heavily on the assurances of the Libyan rebels and her own memory of Rwanda, where U.S. inaction may have led to the genocide of at least 500,000 people.
Many of the rebels were jihadists who would later turn against the United States.
Huma Abedin was in Hillary’s inner circle and thus in the loop on key e-mails regarding Libya, which she made sure to send to Hillary on a regular basis. One such e-mail dated March 27, 2011 dealt with the establishment of the Benghazi mission. It said that “We expect to get support in particular from the Turks who have a consulate in Benghazi.”  Turkey’s Islamic government has been one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s most ardent supporters, hosting its leaders and their international meetings.

Hillary had no plan for what would follow the regime change in Libya other than to persuade the transitional government to become, in Huma Abedin’s words, “inclusive” [4] in order to (as Abedin explained) to “nurture its legitimacy.” Whatever they may have believed regarding the positive role that the Muslim Brotherhood could play in such inclusiveness and nurturing of “legitimacy,” the result has been complete chaos, exploited by the Islamic State and other jihadists.

It is imperative that Huma Abedin be immediately required to cooperate with congressional investigators and to respond to Freedom of Information requests by handing over all of the e-mails in her possession that she authored and received while serving in the State Department. This includes the time she worked as a paid consultant after she terminated her status as an employee. She should also turn over all logs, contact lists, calendars and other records that may shed light on her activities related to Egypt and Libya and communications with Muslim Brotherhood members, supporters and other Islamists. If she destroyed this material, following the example of her boss Hillary Clinton who wiped her private server clean, this will raise legitimate suspicion that she has something to hide about her activities and associations.

If Hillary Clinton is elected president, Ms. Abedin will most likely be given a top-level job in the White House that will not require Senate confirmation. Asking Huma Abedin to provide at the earliest possible time a full public accounting under oath of her activities, communications and contacts while at the State Department is not McCarthyism or Islamophobia, as some on the Left would charge. To the contrary, it is a reasonable exercise of due diligence. Only then will the American people have the information they deserve that may well be highly relevant to their concerns about the security of this nation, in advance of next year’s presidential election.

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A new strategy for Iraq and Syria

By Charles Krauthammer
June 18, 2015

Iraqi security forces defend their positions against an Islamic State group attack on Monday. (Associated Press)
It’s time to rethink Iraq and Syria. It begins by admitting that the old borders are gone, that a unified Syria or Iraq will never be reconstituted, that the Sykes-Picot map is defunct.
We may not want to enunciate that policy officially. After all, it does contradict the principle that colonial borders be maintained no matter how insanely drawn, the alternative being almost universally worse. Nonetheless, in Mesopotamia, balkanization is the only way to go.
Because it has already happened and will not be reversed. In Iraq, for example, we are reaping one disaster after another by pretending that the Baghdad government — deeply sectarian, divisive and beholden to Iran — should be the center of our policy and the conduit for all military aid.
Look at Fallujah, Mosul, Ramadi. The Iraqi army is a farce. It sees the enemy and flees, leaving its weapons behind. “The ISF was not driven out of Ramadi. They drove out of Ramadi,” said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Our own secretary of defense admitted that “the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight.”
We can train them forever. The problem is one of will. They don’t want to fight. And why should they? They are led by commanders who are corrupt, sectarian and incompetent.
What to do? Redirect our efforts to friendly forces deeply committed to the fight, beginning with the Kurds, who have the will, the skill and have demonstrated considerable success. This year alone, they have taken back more than 500 Christian and Kurdish towns from the Islamic State. Unlike the Iraqi army, however, they are starved for weapons because, absurdly, we send them through Baghdad, which sends along only a trickle.
This week, more Kurdish success. With U.S. air support, Syrian Kurds captured the strategic town of Tal Abyad from the Islamic State. Which is important for two reasons. Tal Abyad controls the road connecting the terror group’s capital of Raqqa to Turkey, from which it receives fighters, weapons and supplies. Tal Abyad is “a lung through which [the Islamic State] breathed and connected to the outside world,” said Kurdish commander Haqi Kobane.
Moreover, Tal Abyad helps link isolated Kurdish areas in the Syrian north into a contiguous territory, like Iraqi Kurdistan. Which suggests that this territory could function as precisely the kind of long-advocated Syrian “safe zone” from which to operate against both the Islamic State and the Bashar al-Assad regime.
More good news comes from another battle line. Last week, the Free Syrian Army’s Southern Front, backed by and trained in Jordan, drove the Syrian government out of its last major base in eastern Daraa province, less than 60 miles from Damascus.
These successes suggest a new U.S. strategy. Abandon our anachronistic fealty to the central Iraqi government (now largely under Iran’s sway anyway) and begin supplying the Iraqi Kurds in a direct, 24-hour, Berlin-style airlift. And in Syria, intensify our training, equipping and air support for the now-developing Kurdish safe zone. Similarly, through Jordan, for the Free Syrian Army’s Southern Front. Such a serious and relentless strategy would not only roll back Islamic State territorial gains, it would puncture the myth of Islamic State invincibility.
In theory, we should also be giving direct aid to friendly Sunni tribesmen in Iraq whose Anbar Awakening, brilliantly joined by Gen. David Petraeus’ surge, utterly defeated the Islamic State progenitor, al-Qaeda in Iraq, in 2006-2007. The problem is, having been abandoned by us once, when President Obama liquidated our presence in 2011, why should the Sunnis ever trust us again?
As for the Iraqi army, we can go through the motions, but the best we can hope for is wobbly containment, ultimately guaranteed by Iranian proxies. Not a happy prospect, but the best that we can do having forfeited our dominant position in Iraq in 2011 .
At the time, Iraq was a functioning state. That state is now gone. We should not expend treasure or risk blood trying to resurrect it. Our objective right now is to defeat the Islamic State and to ensure the fall of the Assad regime. That does not require an American invasion. It does require recognizing reality and massively supporting our few genuine allies on the ground.
On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter testified that we won’t quite meet our objective of training 24,000 Iraqi troops by this fall. Why? A recruitment problem. Iraqis don’t seem to want to join. We are 15,000 short.
It’s a fool’s errand anyway. If we need to pretend to support the Baghdad government, fine. But our actual strategy should be to circumvent it and help our real allies carry the fight.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Flannery O'Connor: Stamped but not Cancelled

By Ralph C. Wood
June 16, 2015
On June 5, 2015, the U.S. Postal Service published a commemorative stamp in honor of Flannery O’Connor. O’Connor is an anomalous candidate for such acclaim, since her work stands at a critical distance from the American project, both in its older and more recent iterations. Precisely in her refusal to assimilate her fiction to the national consensus, she made her most valuable gift to it.
The chief evidence for this claim is to be found in two 1963 issues of the Jesuit journal America that O’Connor read and marked only a few months before her all too early death at age thirty-nine in 1964. In one essay, John Courtney Murray, the leading Catholic theologian on matters of church and state at the time, expressed his hope that the Second Vatican Council’s forthcoming treatment of religious freedom would be in full accord with what he called “the true political tradition of the Christian West.” The American constitutional system, in Murray’s view, has served to recover the Catholic rejection of all absolutisms, both ecclesial and governmental. It does so by insisting that “political authority has no part whatsoever in the care of souls (cura animarum) or in the control of the minds of men (regimen animorum).” Hence Murray’s confidence that Dignitatis humanae (the declaration on human freedom) would call for governments to remain secular and neutral by not granting special privileges to any of the various religious traditions, granting them all freedom of both worship and belief.
Yet at the very end of his essay, Murray expressed a certain worry about this pristine separation of spheres, whereby church and state attend to their complementary and rarely contradictory affairs: “The question today is, whether the Church should extend her pastoral solicitude beyond her own boundaries and assume an active patronage of the freedom of the human person . . . who stands today under a massive threat to everything that human dignity and personal freedom mean.” Unlike Flannery O’Connor, Fr. Murray seemed impervious to the notion that such threats might come from the American system itself.
Read the rest of the article by clicking on the link below:

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

All the ‘Clinton Cash’ questions Hillary refuses to answer

By Peter Schweizer
June 13, 2015
Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gestures before speaking to supporters Saturday, June 13, 2015, on Roosevelt Island in New York, in a speech promoted as her formal presidential campaign debut. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) ** FILE **
Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gestures before speaking to supporters Saturday, June 13, 2015, on Roosevelt Island in New York, in a speech promoted as her formal presidential campaign debut. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) 

‘We need to stop the flow of secret, unaccountable money,” Hillary Clinton said Saturday during her vaunted campaign “do over.”
That she said this without a trace of irony is no real surprise. Ever since the release of “Clinton Cash” — which documented the Clintons’ love of secret and unaccountable money — the couple’s reaction has been to pretend the scandal has nothing to do with them.
Appearing on CNN, Bill Clinton claims that the millions the Clintons made from speeches paid for by foreign individuals and entities who had business before Hillary’s State Department were innocent and coincidental.
“[Hillary] was pretty busy those years,” Clinton said. “I never saw her study a list of my contributors, and I had no idea who was doing business before the State Department.”
Bill added: “No one has ever asked me for anything…I never thought about whether there was any overlap.”
Besides, as Bill explained, in a Bloomberg interview last week, “Has anybody proved that we did anything objectionable? No.”
Well, there you have it. Everything is on the up-and-up. Americans should just move along.
But they can’t. And they won’t. Not until, that is, Hillary Clinton begins explaining her myriad conflicts of interest in granular detail, especially since there are no e-mails or server to corroborate Bill’s claims of her innocence.
Indeed, save for a generic response to a generic question on the topic, Hillary Clinton has yet to answer a single question about “Clinton Cash.”
For example, Hillary hasn’t explained why her State Department approved the transfer of 20% of US uranium to the Russian government — even as her family foundation hauled in $145 million from investors in the deal, and Bill received $500,000 from a Kremlin-backed bank for a speech in Moscow.
Hillary has yet to explain why there was no conflict of interest in allowing top investors in the Keystone XL pipeline to pay her husband $1.8 million to deliver 10 speeches, even as she quietly shepherded an environmental impact study through her State Department that proved largely supportive of the pipeline.
Nor has Hillary explained why she violated the memorandum of understanding she signed with the Obama administration promising to disclose all donors, including the foreign head of the Russian government’s Uranium One, Ian Telfer, who funneled four donations totaling $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation that were never revealed.
Or the 2 million shares of stock foreign mining magnate Stephen Dattels gave the Clinton Foundation, even as Hillary’s State Department allowed “open pit coal mining” in Bangladesh, where Dattels’ Polo Resources had a stake.
As Sunlight Foundation senior fellow Bill Allison told The Post, “It seems like the Clinton Foundation operates as a slush fund for the Clintons.”
Still, Bill Clinton assures us there’s nothing to see here.
Thankfully, so far investigative reporters aren’t listening. Indeed, in the wake of “Clinton Cash”’s publication, as Hillary’s silence has grown, so, too, has the number of reporters building on and and expanding the book’s findings.
Bloomberg and the Washington Post, for example, drilled down and discovered an additional 1,100 hidden foreign Clinton Foundation donations. Since the revelation, the Foundation has only released 24 of the secret foreign donors. When will Americans see the remaining 1,076 names? Hillary hasn’t said.
And thanks to the Huffington Post, we now know that in 2014 and 2015, Hillary delivered eight speeches totaling $1.6 million in speaking fees paid for by two of the largest banks tied to the Keystone XL pipeline.
That’s in addition to the $1.8 million Bill bagged for the 10 Keystone investor-funded speeches he delivered during Hillary’s tenure as Secretary of State.
Perhaps this helps explain Hillary’s reticence over the last few years to express opposition to the pipeline, much to ­environmentalists’ chagrin.
We now know 181 Clinton Foundation donors lobbied Hillary’s State Department; that the Clintons’ family foundation received millions from Qatar, as well as donations from FIFA, the soccer organization now enmeshed in a bribery and corruption scandal of global proportions; that the Clintons have a secret “pass-through” company, WJC, LLC.; that Hillary’s State Department “approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation,” according to the International Business Times analysis.
On and on it goes. There have been enough post-book revelations to fill a second volume, or a third.
The surge in new revelations is an encouraging reinvigoration of investigative journalism, one that is refreshingly responsive to the public’s hunger for greater transparency and accountability from elected leaders.
As Bob Woodward recently put it, “You should insist that the sleeping giant, which is both the country and the media, wake up. The result could be, if you are persistent, that we have a kind of ‘Unrestricted Investigative Warfare’ as the news organizations, the giants, the little people, left, right and center compete to follow the money and explain its corruptions and ramifications.”
To all of these revelations, the Clinton response has been to ignore, deflect, or try to discredit me. George Stephanopoulos tried to suggest I was partisan (how’d that work out?) while sympathizers have been reduced to arguing that well, it’s not technically illegal.
But even as Hillary Clinton tries to wipe the slate clean and start her campaign over, these questions will dog her from now until election. She can’t dodge them forever.
Peter Schweizer is the author of the bestseller “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich” (Harper), out now.

Book Review: 'Medieval Christianity" by Kevin Madigan

Faith in ferment

June 12, 2015

Although the term medieval often has negative connotations, it is an era that we neglect to our peril. After all, the lengthy period that we also call the Middle Ages represents about half of the Christian story to date. In Medieval Christianity, Harvard professor Kevin Madigan has produced a richly informative book that provides readers an excellent sense of the state of the scholarship on these long centuries. He is a scholar of the first class himself, and reading his lucid text gives a powerful idea of what a splendid teacher he must be. On the other hand, I do have reservations about the scope of his presentation.
After a necessarily brief sketch of the “Early Church,” Madigan sensibly de­fines his period as roughly 600–1500. This era teems with the ghosts of historical myths and the products of generations of anticlerical propaganda, which together constitute a multifaceted Black Legend. In the popular mind, medieval Chris­tianity conjures a series of grim events and circumstances, including the Inquisi­tion, heresy hunts, and vicious anti-Semitism. More generally, we might regret the suppression of the authentic zeal of the early church, crushed under the weight of papalism and priestcraft, bureaucracy, and oppressive hierarchy. There are even those who still apply the belittling term Dark Ages to the whole medieval millennium.
Madigan’s book provides a wonderful corrective to such myths. Naturally, he gives full and fair treatment to the dark side of medieval faith, with abundant coverage of anti-Semitic propaganda and outrages. Throughout his story, though, we see a faith in ferment, with constant debates about the proper limits of hierarchical control over spontaneous popular piety. And although this point might seem obvious to experts, he does a fine job of distinguishing between the very different eras that constituted the Middle Ages, and their radically different concerns and expressions of faith. Western Christianity in 1050, say, was a fundamentally different creature from that in 1450.
In his coverage of each era, Madigan is at his best describing the lived realities of faith as experienced by ordinary people. He leaves no doubt about the thorough permeation of Christian ideas and images through every aspect of daily life. Time, for example, was organized by the church’s calendar and feast days. Popular Christian culture was expressed through ubiquitous vernacular art, the effervescent tradition of dramatic performances, and such acts of public faith as miracle plays and processions. His main chapter on these behaviors bears the title “To ‘Deepen Understanding’: Means of Christianization, 1050–1250,” suggesting the deeply pedagogical nature of these largely preliterate acts. No less rewarding is his discussion of the culture of saints, shrines, and pilgrimages, which constituted a large share of Christian behavior through these centuries.
Perhaps the greatest single issue separating medieval and modern Christians is literacy and reading. Obviously, as an institution the medieval church was founded on books, and the literary and academic culture it created was awe-inspiring. For ordinary believers, though, the lack of access to texts assuredly did not mean that their faith was impaired or deficient. However, the historical gulf between readers and nonreaders poses enormous problems for modern historians, who naturally favor the written record. It is one of Madigan’s immense strengths that he pays full and respectful attention to the nonliterate, the physical, and the performative.
One of the most inaccurate stereotypes of the Middle Ages is that it was a sternly patriarchal millennium during which women’s spirituality was ignored or condemned. In the past century historians have shown how far from the truth that stereotype is. They have stressed the centrality of the figure of the Virgin in Christian culture and art. Far from being treated as a retiring exemplar of maternal domesticity, Mary was presented as an extremely powerful wonder-worker who fell just short of full divinity. Such older histories also pay due attention to the role of countless women church leaders: monastic leaders and abbesses, prophets, and mystics. Women’s centrality to medieval faith has been emphasized still more in research and scholarship of the past 30 years or so. Madigan, then, is not breaking new ground here, but his constant and systematic emphasis on women’s participation and agency is admirable.
Madigan’s book deals with a vast array of topics and arguments, and of course not every reader will agree with every position he takes. In all these controversial areas, though, Madigan’s positions are eminently responsible. An excellent bibliographical section gives readers the option to explore the issues under debate for themselves.
But having offered all this praise, I must criticize the author’s scope and his definition of the topic. Although Madi­gan is very good on the areas he chooses to cover, his book gives us a surprisingly partial and limited picture. Medieval Christianity focuses entirely on the Catholic West, with scarcely an acknowledgment that a wider world ever existed. For an author looking at Christendom around 1500 such a constrained view might be justified. But for the period before the 12th century this is perverse. Madigan says basically nothing about the Eastern Church, about the crises over iconoclasm or hesychasm, about Russian artistic or spiritual traditions, about Coptic or Syriac monasticism, about Eastern mysticism, or about the Christian kingdom in Ethiopia—and the list goes on. Throughout the book, Eastern conditions are featured only as the backdrop to Western-dominated movements and events, such as the Crusades.
Obviously, a book that spans the whole Christian world would offer very different judgments and perspectives on the issues Madigan addresses—the role of monasticism, for instance, or church landholdings, or the status of the clergy, or church-state relations, or Christians’ relations with Jews and Mus­lims. But somewhere east of Prague, in Madigan’s book, the Christian world ends abruptly, if it ever existed in the first place. The result is an oddly retrograde example of writing about Chris­tian history. Were the book titled Medieval Chris­tianity in the Latin West, I would praise it unstintingly.


Medieval Christianity

A New History
Yale University Press