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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

United 93 Moonbat: Cole Smithey's Inept Review

Back again, and as I can find nothing else to comment on right now that is not already under heavy coverage, I have decided to take on Cole Smithey. I posted earlier the op-ed from David Beamer--father of Todd Beamer--who wrote an eloquent piece today praising "United 93," from a historical point of view, and from the point of view as a victim's family member. His overall point is that we should never forget what happened that day, and that this movie is long overdue.

Cole Smithey wrote this review of "United 93." It is posted below with my commentary within it. I am not kind to this man, and no one should be. His review is full of speculation and talking points, and little real intelligence.

"United 93" is an odd film by any standard. Filmmaker Paul Greengrass (notable for his terrific 2002 docudrama "Bloody Sunday" about the 1972 British Army massacre of 27 civilians in Northern Ireland) wrote and directed what is a disturbingly prosaic piece of dramatic conjecture about one of the most puzzling events of 9/11. As a fictionalized docudrama, "United 93" punctures all suspension-of-disbelief because of the intrinsic absurdness that the mightiest military power on earth couldn’t scramble a dozen squads of F-16 fighter planes to perform aerial escorts for the "11 commercial airliners" believed to be hijacked on 9/11. Greengrass disguises art as journalism by matter-of-factly declaring that United 93 crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania at the "heroic" hands of its passengers in spite of the fact that the now famous "crash site" produced not one human corpse or even a single drop of blood.

A docudrama? A fictionalized one, at that? (A Note here: Thomas has informed me that this is considered a docudrama. The reasoning behind this is we still do not know the extent of what occurred on United 93. This film can only speculate. However, he agrees that to state this is "fictionalized" is utterly foolish, and is the first step anyone needs in understanding where Mr. Smithey is coming from.) That implies that the realities the film are based on never occurred. Indeed they did, as almost 3000 souls could attest to were they alive today. And making such a statement is a slap in the face of every America who sat glued to their TVs watching the events unfold that day, and those at Ground Zero living it. Fictionalized docudrama my ass. Yes, details must have a level of artisitc license, and many things are going to be brought up by the families taking those phone calls that morning, but to toss that away and declare the movie fictionalized is not just ignorant, it is wholly unprofessional. And as for his statement regarding the crash site, I would like to know what scientific fields this fool thinks he knows of to make such broad-sweeping statements without any fact involved. No blood at the crash scene? Of course not, numb-nuts, the plane crashed. It burned up. The forensic evidence gathered from the site was slim at best. I am sure Mr. Smithey believes that something sinister happened to the plane, or that United 93 never was in the air that morning. But this opening paragraph shows the utter ignorance of a movie reviewer.

A somber prologue introduces four young Muslim men praying inside their hotel room in the wee hours on the morning of September 11, 2001. The scene divulges a subtly racist undercurrent that plays out during the film with the thinly concealed hubris that America’s Neocons have benefited from under the guise of false patriotism since 9/11.

Racist undercurrent? Excuse me but 9/11 was not perpetrated by white men, black men, Oriental men, or Hispanics. It was carried out by nineteen idealistic men with the intent of hurting this nation, and taking out it's leadership. Those men did pray before their mission, and I see no racism in showing that. The director is trying to show people that while Todd Beamer and his associates on Flight 93 were heading off to work that day, driving into work or flying there, so were the terrorists. It was another day for them, but a much more important day than it was for any America. That day those men were going to become martyrs in their war--their jihad--against America. By the end of the day, those men had accomplsihed their goals, and some forty passengers on Flight 93 became heroes. And it is nice to see that his apparent bias is seething in this paragraph as he accuses those in favor of the war of being racist. We are not. We have our enemy. It is not every Muslim in the world, but rather those who believe in the ideology of blood, fire, and martyrdom for some imagined slight in the past.

In the film’s production notes, Greengrass gives his mission statement: "There are lots of ways to find meaning in the events of 9/11. Television can convey events as they happen. A reporter can write history’s rough first draft. Historians can widen the time frame and give us context…Filmmakers have a part to play, too, and I believe that sometimes, if you look clearly and unflinchingly at a single event, you can find in its shape something much larger than the event itself—the DNA of our times."

"Sometimes" is the key word that absolves Greengrass of his self-imposed responsibility for mapping out any DNA of falsification or rampant government and corporate corruption that permeates every dust particle left behind in the wake of 9/11.

While I will grant Mr. Smithey a level of leeway when it comes to the response after 9/11 (the Red Cross has faced it's investigation for the mismanagement of funds) I will not excuse his assertion that any of the records have been falsified. The official report is available to anyone who chooses to read it. It was our fault that the intelligence and warning systems in place failed. It was mismanagement on the government's part that led to that. However, I question the idea that things were falsified. Does he knot think that the 9/11 Commission would have brought that to the public's attention were it true? I seem to think so. The Commission had little problem finding blame on the current administration, and a major problem going back any further into history than 2001.

In practice, the filmmaker leverages the contrasting estimable talents of Ken Loach’s devote director of photography Barry Akroyd ("Raining Stones") with three editors—Clare Douglas ("Bloody Sunday"), Christopher Rouse ("The Bourne Supremacy"), and Richard Pearson ("Men In Black II"). His "clear and unflinching" gaze at the "single event" diverts in telling ways from recorded facts. Greengrass gets a performance windfall from Ben Sliney the actual FAA Operations Manager on duty at Herndon, Virginia on 9/11, playing himself with the hard-bitten charisma that comes from years of experience.

However, Greengrass still can’t help nudging out dramatic truth when he has Sliney give the order for a "national ground stop" for all air traffic in the country, when, in fact, it was FAA head Jane Garvey who gave that order.

Incorrect. Talk about distorting the truth, as this piece in the USA Today points out. Sliney did give the order for a ground stop. That order came at 9:45 a.m. EST. Here it is from that piece:

"OK, let's get them on the ground!" Sliney booms.

Within seconds, specialists pass the order on to facilities across the country. For the first time in history, the government has ordered every commercial and private plane from the sky.

9:45 a.m.: 3,949 planes

A misunderstanding
In Washington, FAA Administrator Jane Garvey and her deputy, Monte Belger, have been moving back and forth between a secret operations center and their offices.

Throughout the morning, staffers have kept Garvey and Belger apprised of Sliney's decisions.

Now, they tell them of the order to clear the skies. With little discussion, the FAA leaders approve.

Minutes later, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta calls from a bunker beneath the White House, where he has joined Vice President Cheney. Belger explains that the FAA plans to land each plane at the closest airport, regardless of its destination.

Mineta concurs. FAA staffers, following the conversation over the speakerphone with Belger, pump their fists. Then the conversation sours.

Mineta asks exactly what the order means.

Belger says pilots will retain some discretion. All the FAA deputy means is that under long-standing aviation regulations, pilots always have some discretion in the event of an emergency aboard their aircraft. But the secretary assumes the FAA is not being tough enough. "F—- pilot discretion," Mineta says. "Monte, bring down all the planes."

Sliney made that call. He was at the FAA Headquarters in Herndon. He was the lead guy in the room, and it was his call to make. Jane Garvey concurred after being told of Sliney's decision. Mr. Smithey would be better served by following the truth rather than making up phony allegations.

The cell phone/air phone calls are an area of tacit fiction that the auteur fudges with discreet but significant treatment. The actual recorded calls from the "passengers" of United 93 are suspiciously vague and calculated. The calls were never more than a couple of sentences long and share a symmetrical brand of abstract logic that rings false in the context of a hijacked aircraft.

The cell phone calls were to loved ones when all hell broke loose ont he plane. And only at that time did the passengers of Flight 93 find out about the other attacks. The cell phone calls were a key piece in that morning because it set the path for those people. They knew after hearing the news from their families that there would be no surviving that flight. It was that news that reinforced their resolve to do what they needed to do.

Transcripts of the "calls" reads like answers from a sixth grader cheating on a test he doesn’t know the questions to.

What did Mr. Smithey expect, answers as long, drawn out, and boring as a John Kerry speech? Or maybe he was looking for something more nuanced, say another Ward Churchill reminder of the "little Eichmans" that died that day. His review reads more a like a beginner's study of filmmaking rather than a veteran moview reviewer. Of course this is typical, and so is his response, especially in light of other reviews that I have read of his on the RottenTomatoes archives. It is more BDS from the Left.

"It’s bad news. I need you to be happy."

"Ted, what can I do? What can I tell the pilot?"

"We’ve been hijacked. He had an Islamic book."

"It’s getting very bad on the plane… the plane is making jerky movements."

These examples taken, from the 9/11 Commission’s Report as referenced in writer/director Dylan Avery’s persuasive documentary "9/11 Loose Change," are telling for their clipped structure and ridiculously short length. They don't convey any of the mile-a-minute patter that a panicked person would use to call for immediate help in a hijack situation.

Interesting that he would note "Loose Change" in this piece. After watching the Vent piece by Michelle Malkin, and seeing clips of "Loose Change," it is obvious that Mr. Avery suffers from some loose screws as he tries to weave a conspiratorial account of 9/11, including comparisons of explosions, and tricks of light and shadow; much like the ones from 9/11 footage showing a demon's face in the smoke rising from the Trade Towers.

Greengrass fudges the notable call in which a "passenger" introduces himself to his own mother using his first and last name. The director’s "clear" gaze doesn’t extend to quoting the "actual" air phone dialogue, perhaps because he couldn’t compensate for its inherent falseness. He does however include the caller asking his mother if she believes him when he tells her the plane has been hijacked.

Ultimately, "United 93" is a regurgitation of suspicious media-fueled speculation about events on an airplane that we know very little about. This is a movie that does more to discourage raising questions about what really happened to flight 93 than it does to encourage debate over the bastion of lies that have been fed to the American people.

The "bastion of lies?" Does he mean the lies that no one on the Left seems able to produce without them being thoroughly refuted, rooted and reinforced in fact? Please. Whereas we may have the occasional gripe with the president over some things, I harldy qualify the events of 9/11 a lie. That is unless Mr. Smithey believes this was all one giant conspiracy to deceive the American public and steal Middle Eastern oil. Which, given his review of Michael Moore's farsical claptrap it would not surprise me if he is a part of the tin-foil moonbat crowd. He is obviously, in this review, a barking moonbat at that.

It is an interesting footnote that United flight 93 was not scheduled to fly on 9/11, and that the plane (tail number N5IUA) was spotted by United Airline’s employee David Friedman on April 10, 2003 at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, and that the plane is listed as still valid with the FAA. Dylan Avery provided essential information used in this article in his documentary "9/11 Loose Change."

And again, Mr. Smithey fudges the truth again. A quick check of technical information regarding Flight 93 shows that he has presented another piece of false information. That being the tail number to the plane. The tail number is not "N5IUA" as he alleges, but rather "N591UA." A Google search of the tail number turns up a single conspiracy site out of France. An AOL search returns more conspiracy theory sites that link to one another. Yahoo returns nothing bu a "check your spelling" error message.

If this is the best the detractors of the movie have to offer, then they have a lot of problems. There is nothing they can present to change what really happened that day. The film is re-created from witnesses on the ground in the control rooms and the family members. And that is something that Mr. Smithey, and his conspiracy-laden moonbats cannot handle. This is why they have embarked on a mission to revise the history of that day. Their problem is that the facts do not support their allegations.

The Bunny ;)


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