- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Hubbub continues over Sony’s flip-flop: The studio will offer limited theatrical released of its parody film that showcased North Korea President Kim Jong-un and launched a cyberwar — and a thousand melodramatic commentaries. That change of heart evolved, perhaps, with the help of 532 maverick members of the “independent art house community” — smaller, independent movie theaters — now charged with showing “The Interview” beginning Thursday. The movie mavericks were among the first to make a big noise. “We stand in solidarity with Sony and offer our support to them in defense of artistic integrity and personal freedoms; freedoms which represent our nation’s great ability to effect change and embrace diversity of opinion,” reads the fierce public petition that drew support of the many entertainment entrepreneurs, and articulated some pushback in a cyberwar some declared already lost.

“We understand there are risks involved in screening ‘The Interview.’ We will communicate these risks as clearly as we can to our employees and customers and allow them to make their own decisions, as is the right of every American.” Among the outspoken: Tim League, founder of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema — one of two theaters first designated to show the movie on Christmas Day. “Dear Sony, you have allies. The independents exhibitors of America still want to show The Interview,” Mr. League advised in a tweet.

Sony needed a way to make its retreat look less total. By showing the movie somewhere, Sony gets to say it has stood up to the bad guys, whether it really has or not,” says Peter Grier, a Christian Science Monitor columnist. “But the biggest reason Sony swerved is probably this one: ‘The Interview’ has become a national security issue. Against all odds and/or common sense, a risque buddy comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco has become a symbol of American freedom. The chief executive of the nation has said Sony made a mistake by not showing the movie. So they’ll show it — because President Obama’s comments effectively nationalized the movie’s defense.”

SIGN OF THE TIMES

“No organization in the world will apply your cyber expertise like the FBI. Today’s FBI is dedicated to preventing and investigating the most sophisticated computer threats around the globe. Your skills may thwart operations that incite violent attacks, advance crime, target national security, aid terrorism, and beyond. Discover why, more than ever, an FBI cyber career is for you.”

— From the FBI’s personnel pitch for special agents “with cyber skills to support a diverse and complex caseload.”


SEE ALSO: Rand Paul hints at 2016 run in ‘Festivus’ grievances


THE EVER-VIGILANT MR. ISSA

Like Rep. Darrell Issa, the tea party does not give up the fight. On Tuesday, Mr. Issa, chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released his painstaking review of 1.3 million pages of IRS documents and transcribed interviews conducted following revelations that the federal agency had targeted conservative groups.

“There is no question that the IRS as an agency, and its leaders individually, directed and implemented a scheme to silence and demoralize tea party groups. We knew it was going on before Congress and the Treasury Inspector General confirmed it,” declares Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots. “The truth is that it is still going on. The IRS still plans to defy the will of hundreds of thousands of Americans by its plot to reissue cumbersome regulations early next year that will likely be little different from the regulations they proposed a year ago to shut down citizen free speech. We want the IRS and Treasury to hear us loud and clear. We are not going away, we will not be silenced and we will continue to fight every effort they devise to target and intimidate our movement.”

THE NORAD REMINDER

Don’t forget that the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s annual Christmas Eve tracking of the airborne Santa Claus and his sleigh is underway for the 59th year in a row, in eight languages with an audience expected to top 19 million. And it all suggests that the U.S. military and its partners are big-hearted, powerful and not skittish about Christmas. The website and all that goes with it is well done and engaging for wee NORAD fans, and all their elders. Find it here: NoradSanta.org

$100 BILLION IN CONGRESSIONAL GIMMICKS

Leery financial watchdogs are looking askance at Congress as the year comes to a close. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, in fact, now says that lawmakers added $100 billion to the debt by passing laws “financed with deficits or gimmicks.” The interest group, which includes input from such luminaries as Alan Simpson, Leon Panetta and Erskine Bowles, cites “phony offsets, unjustified cap exemptions and emergency designations” found in the recent omnibus spending bill, highway funding, tax extenders and money to fight Ebola and the Islamic State. Among other things, the group is also critical of unemployment benefits extension and the Veterans Affairs Reform bill — which they say are not paid for.

“Congress sneaked in billions and billions in additional borrowing this year. The risk is that with Congress’ reckless track record, and such huge numbers, families get used to all the irresponsible borrowing and forget that it affects them,” says Maya MacGuineas, president of the organization. “The debt as a share of the economy is at historic highs and yet lawmakers spent the year making things worse instead of trying to make them better. This is not an economic recipe for success, and American families will ultimately bear the cost.”

WHAT THE MAYORS HAVE TO SAY

“We represent a body of mayors who stand beside our police officers at the local and national levels. As we reflect on the immensely tragic events from this past weekend in New York City, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the slain police officers who senselessly lost their lives in the line of duty. We are all heartbroken whenever such violence occurs, and we strongly condemn these actions,” says Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which represents 1,400 of the nation’s mayors.

“The nation’s mayors stand in solidarity with their local police departments during this difficult time. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for peace and a break from protests to allow the victims’ families to grieve during the holidays. We will do our part to echo this call for peace and support Mayor de Blasio as he leads his city in mourning the fallen officers. The killing of a police officer in New York City is no different than the killing of a police officer in any of our cities, and we mourn the loss of those who put their lives on the line every day in service to others,” Mr. Johnson concludes.

POLL DU JOUR

74 percent of Americans support ending travel restrictions to Cuba; 49 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of independents and 77 percent of Democrats agree.

88 percent of liberals, 74 percent of moderates and 63 percent of conservatives agree.

68 percent of Americans overall support ending the trade embargo against Cuba; 80 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of independents and 79 percent of Democrats agree.

81 percent of liberals, 71 percent of moderates and 56 percent of conservatives agree.

64 percent of Americans overall support establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba; 49 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of independents and 77 percent of Democrats agree.

80 percent of liberals, 67 percent of moderates and 48 percent of conservatives agree.

Source: A Washington Post/ABC News poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 11-14.

Nervous laughter, big proclamations to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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