- The Washington Times - Friday, January 10, 2003

Political 'Gangs'

"In 'Gangs of New York,' control of turf is rule over persons. The Nativists control Five Points and Bill 'the Butcher' Cutting rules despotically and arbitrarily, his personality consisting of brutality with a veneer of charm. He has subordinated, cowed, or otherwise co-opted the Irish immigrants that constitute a growing majority of the population.

"The immigrant Irish have one alternative to Cutting's oppressive rule. For most of the film, Cutting's rival for influence in Five Points is 'Boss' Tweed of Tammany Hall. As the incoming, desperate Irish are jeered at and pelted with stones by the natives, Tweed treats them like sheep, herding them into the polls to vote Democrat in return for the party's supplying their material and social needs.

"Such politics are a far cry from the self-reliant, responsible citizenship that George Washington, whose portrait hangs above Tweed's desk in his office, recommended for the American republic. 'Gangs of New York' depicts urban machine politicking in all its shameful, ballot box-stuffing grandeur. After an Irish Tammany candidate wins election for a local office, a furious Cutting challenges him to a fight. He declines, invoking the voters' decision as the decisive settlement. As the candidate walks away, Cutting hurls a cleaver into his back, declaring, 'That's the minority vote.'"

Sean Mattie, writing on "Gangs and Citizens" for the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at www.ashbrook.org


Communist critic

"One of the tougher reviews for the new James Bond movie, 'Die Another Day,' came from an official-sounding organization, located in Pyongyang, North Korea, called the 'Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland.'

"The film, the villain of which is a North Korean arms dealer who develops a doomsday weapon to annihilate the West, is a 'dirty and cursed burlesque aimed to slander and insult the Korean nation,' railed the Secretariat. It is 'a premeditated act of mocking' that proves the United States is 'the headquarters that spreads abnormality, degeneration, violence and fin de siecle corrupt sex culture.' Since not much emanates from North Korea without the say-so of Kim Jong-il, the pudgy, oddball strongman of Pyongyang, it's a good bet that the Secretariat was expressing the views, if not the actual words, of the 'Great Leader,' as Kim is known to his people.

"Kim Jong-il is a movie fan. He once said that if he hadn't become his country's ruler, he might have become a film critic or producer.

"His fantasyland is a charnel house. While he lives like a brandy-swilling 18th-century French nobleman, more than 2 million people have died of starvation in North Korea over the last decade."

Evan Thomas, writing on "Women, Wine and Weapons," in the Jan. 13 issue of Newsweek


Cyber-dating

"[I]t is quite possible that everybody of a certain demographic profile who is dissatisfied with his or her current romantic prospects is experimenting with meeting someone online.

"Here's my evidence: "John Podhoretz, the very conservative and highly un-with-it columnist and former editorial page editor at the New York Post met a woman on www.matchmaker.com and married her.

"What's more, the matchmaking business is growing in a way, and producing profits of a sort, not seen since the advent of EBay.

"And logically, why wouldn't every lonely heart try a dating site?

"Given the reach and the efficiency of Web dating, there would be only two things reasonably holding you back here: embarrassment and technical difficulties. But if John Podhoretz is doing it, the embarrassment factor is obviously dwindling it's a perfectly decent, unremarkable, squaresville thing to do."

Michael Wolff, writing on "You've Got Sex," in the Dec. 23 issue of New York magazine

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