Monthly Archives: June 2012

Weekly Meditation: Ignoring the Ego

 

As the kindled fire consumes the fuel, so, O Arjuna, in the flame of wisdom the embers of action are burnt to ashes.

 

There is nothing in the world so purifying as wisdom; and he who is a perfect saint finds that at last in his own Self.

 

He who is full of faith attains wisdom, and he too who can control his senses, having attained that wisdom, he shall ere long attain Supreme Peace.

 

But the ignorant man, and he who has no faith, and the skeptic are lost. Neither in this world nor elsewhere is there any happiness in store for him who always doubts.

 

But the man who has renounced his action for meditation, who has cleft his doubt in twain by the sword of wisdom, who remains always enthroned in his Self, is not bound by his acts.

Therefore, cleaving asunder with the sword of wisdom the doubts of the heart, which thine own ignorance has engendered, follow the Path of Wisdom and arise!”

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4 Verses 37-42

 

Of all the traditional holy books in the world, possibly none is held in higher regard by me than the Bhagavad-Gita.  I hold it in such a high opinion that I was a little hesistant to start pulling quotes from it.  After all, it is more or less fairly straight forward no matter what level of spiritual evolution you’re on (and one of the great features of the Gita is that each line holds truths for every level of enlightenment) and if you still need further discussion of the wisdom of Krishna as he speaks to Arjuna there are commentaries by Yogananda and other far wiser people like me.

 

Still if I didn’t bring up anything from the Bhagavad-Gita it seemed like it would be an insult to such a divine book.

 

So let’s talk about what the Gita means by Self.

 

New Age and most Eastern religions make a needed distinction that the West so often ignores.  The typical vision in the west is that you yourself are a rational being with free will and have the choice between two forces the positive forces of God and the negative forces of whatever you want to call the negative force (the more enlightened in the west will call it our negative nature, the less enlightened will give make a full blown opponent of God and call it the Devil.)  This is best represented by the cartoon image of the angel and the devil on your shoulders.

The incorrect view

 

This view could not be more wrong. The Eastern/New Ager view is more that you are composed of your self and your ego* (which actually doesn’t exist, we’ll get to that later). Now for all of your ego’s lacking qualities it is quite cunning and it has convinced you of two three very important lies. It has convinced you that you and the angel on your shoulder are two different beings…this is silly because you, your Self, is a part of God an infinite and divine being, and you, your Self, is a part of all that is good.  You and the angel on your shoulder are the same being.

 

The next thing the ego did to you was that it convinced you that it was you, that all of it’s thoughts are your thoughts, that’s it’s fears and doubts are yours.

 

And finally it created the image of the devil on your shoulder an outside enemy.  To distract you from all of it’s fearful and destructive thoughts being against your best interest it gives you the idea that there is some outside force that is your enemy, a devil on your shoulder, an outside enemy to distract you from the real one.

 

Learning to do away with your ego is the final lesson of the cycle of rebirth.  It’s a hard lesson…if it weren’t you wouldn’t have 6 billion souls on this planet.  But it’s a easy lesson, all you have to do is accept the truth: I am a part of God.  I am holy.

 

All you have to do is believe it.   Yeah I know, easier said than done.

 

But let’s start with something easy.

 

Every time this week when you recognize that you have had a negative thought, ask yourself:

“Is this voice in my head coming from the best in me or from the worst?”

 

If it is from the best it is from mutual voice of your soul and God working in tandem.  If not, it is likely the voice of your ego.  Ignore.

 

You’ll miss some negative thoughts, you’ll give in.  Don’t chide yourself for it, self-deprecation of that sort is a weapon of the ego to make you hate yourself.   Just worry about the ones you do catch.  When you catch them, recognize their source and ignore them.

 

Try only to listen the voice that tell you that you will and you should achieve your dreams.  That you are worthy.  That you are beautiful.  Listen to that voice.

 

Learn to recognize the other voice so you can ignore it.

 

Will this solve all you problems?  No.  But it’s a start.

 

And if you’re having problems, just repeat my favorite passage:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

 

*Don’t confuse the Eastern/New Age idea of the ego, the miscreation of fear and hatred that is a part of your psyche, with the traditional meaning of the word as arrogance or mere sense of self.

Remember each one of these symbols is telling you are you are a part of God and divine…maybe you should listen.

 

 


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The Most Patriotic Movies Ever #5 Independence Day

“Welcome to Earth!”


It starts with a picture of one of this nation’s greatest achievements, our reaching the moon (you know I hear China now plans to do that…primarily with technology they’ve stolen from us).  And it just keeps getting better from there.  Yes, it’s not the deepest of films ever made, nor is every scene dripping with patriotism…but we all have to admit it’s a fun film…and that speech.  And I’ll get to the speech but let me cover some of the other things first.

One of my favorite, and often missed scenes is after they’ve come up with the plan to take down the alien force fields* and begin relaying the message to military divisions the world over.  The first group we see get it, which seems to be made up various powers in the Middle East, and for some reason the British, comment:

“It’s from the Americans.  They want to organize a counteroffensive.”

“About bloody time.”

Yep.  Everybody waits for us to do something.  And while that may seem like just an arrogant boast, look at the facts.  In the last 50 years, how often does anyone go into to stop any measure of tyranny or genocide if the U.S. isn’t involved.  The closest we’ve seen is when Tony Blair has to drag us into Bosnia…but then again, Blair always was a bit of an American at heart.  For better or worse, we are the nation that leads and others follow.  And that’ s not arrogance.  I would love it if other nations take it on themselves to realize that tyranny anywhere is an affront to liberty everywhere and not have to wait for others (and Eastern Europe does seem to be on that path, give them another decade to build up their economies and militaries and they may challenge the U.S. as bane-of-tyrants-in-chief…but not today).

“I saw… its thoughts. I saw what they’re planning to do. They’re like locusts. They’re moving from planet to planet… their whole civilization. After they’ve consumed every natural resource they move on… and we’re next. Nuke ’em. Let’s nuke the bastards.”

Another distinctly American belief.  We prefer diplomacy and treating everyone as equals in reason, it’s part of our capitalist nature.  We prefer to deal through reason, logic, discussion, and trade for mutual benefit. This is why for the first few years in the early years of the Republic it was the Secretary of State which was the jumping point for the presidency…because the President was supposed to be chief diplomat, which the State Department gave you the most experience.  We prefer peace by nature.  But when  confronted with evil, most, but not all Americans, understand there is only one way to deal with the violent and unreasonable…and it isn’t isolationism or appeasement…Americans, more consistently than any other nation understand that the way to deal with evil is to take it out, and we have few reservations about it (the President’s only reservation is the nuclear fallout, not the annihilation of a whole species of evil).

And of course there is the speech

“Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. “Mankind.” That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom… Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution… but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: ‘We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!’”

It may seem to have nothing to do with America, but in reality it is the heart of America.  We were founded on the belief that “all men are created equal” and that this self-evident truth knows no boundary of nation, race, religion, or creed.  That all are endowed with the inalienable right of “life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” not that they magically stop at the border as modern libertarians seem to be arguing.  And notice the central line “Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom… Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution… but from annihilation.” First we were fighting for the freedom from annihilation with the largest empire on Earth bearing down on us in 1776, had we lost, American patriots would have been killed to a man.  But notice the idea, that has been behind America since we first called on “a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” and then proceeded to time and time again succeed when we should have failed, fate has always seemingly been on our side.  And if fate was behind an event like that seen in this movie, as the speech suggests, it would be to further put the ideals of this nation front and center.

And what could be more American than the last words:

‘We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!’”

We are a nation that no matter how many times we’re knocked down, just keeps coming back.

*On a side note I love how everyone complains about how easy it was to hack the alien computers, ignoring that arrogance leads to less security and most computer programs would be fairly simple if you were so arrogant you didn’t put any security measures in…but nowhere have I ever seen those who loves to nit pick films has ever commented on the near scientific impossibility of energy shields.  Of course no one ever complains about how badly Jeff Goldblum’s understanding of his pet cause of environmentalism is—he gets really upset about the idea of using nuclear weapons against the 36 alien ships…because it will cause nuclear winter…wow 36 nuclear weapons…a little over 1% of all the nuclear bombs ever detonated…yeah I’m sure that will cause nuclear winter….where the some odd 2,000 bombs before it didn’t.

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The Most Patriotic Movies Ever #6 The Movies of John Wayne

It was just too hard to pick.  Just about every film this man did was inundated with love of country.  So I will say that if John Wayne is starring in a film you will, to one degree or another, see patriotism on display.  Patriotism was on display so much so in Wayne’s films and actions that, apparently, Stalin ordered assassins to take him out (Soviet competency, as usual, reigned supreme and the plan failed).

But since I should focus on a couple of examples of his patriotic movies let me focus on what is probably his best war film, The Sands of Iwo Jima, and his best western, Rio Bravo.

 

The Sands of Iwo Jima.

 

 

“Dear son, I guess none of my letters have reached you.  I thought I’d try again as I’m feeling that this may be the last time I can write you.  For a long time I’ve wanted to tell you many things.  Now that you’re a big boy, I will.  If we’d been together even for a while, I could’ve explained many things much better than writing them.  You’ve gotta take care of your mother, and love her and make her happy.  Never hurt her or anyone as I did.  Always do what your heart tells you is right.  Maybe someone will write you someday and tell you about me.  I want you to be like me in some things, but not like me in others.  When you grow older and get to know more about me, you’ll see I’ve failed…in many ways.   This isn’t what I wanted but things just turned out that way.  If there was only more time I…”


This film shows something that has been lost in modern Hollywood.  Predominantly in modern Hollywood, either you have films aimed at liberals that show the armed services to be little more than ignorant butchers out for the thrill of battle or films aimed at conservatives that show the armed services to be populated by larger than life heroes that appear more recruiting poster cutout than human (there are exceptions, but I think it’s fair to say that they are exceptions, not the rule).  In Sands of Iwo Jima John Wayne and the rest of the cast portray some very human Marines.  Flaws and human imperfection to the last man, but it also shows that for all their flaws they are motivated by their codes of honor and morals, by their belief and the best within them, and it is their actions that make them heroes, not just because they wear a uniform and we’re supposed to have a knee jerk reaction to that.  It’s a much more realistic depiction of why the members of our armed services are worthy of our devotion than what I typically get nowadays.

Rio Bravo

A response to the whining liberal High Noon which Wayne considered un-American, Rio Bravo is probably one of the best westerns of all time.  Unlike High Noon which has a sheriff spending half the film groveling for allies (reminds you of liberals always not wanting to make unilateral decisions), Wayne’s Sherriff John T. Chance actively turns down allies because he understand what his job is and refuses to let innocent bystanders get killed.  Nor does he ever consider running away or not doing what his job and justice demand of him.

And to top it all off you’ve got songs from Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson.

Even the song is uniquely American.  My three good companions “my rifle, my pony, and me”—the American habits of Westward movement, individualism, and willingness to defend yourself and what you believe in.  There is also a strong strain of the American Dream in the song.

A distinctly American attitude.

As with all of the films starring Wayne, you have a hero who embodies character, intelligence and strength of will.  Please tell me which other nation fits that bill for what it values?

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Greatest Patriotic Films Ever #7 –1776

1776

“I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress! And by God, I have had this Congress! For ten years, King George and his Parliament have gulled, cullied, and diddled these colonies with their illegal taxes! Stamp Acts, Townshend Acts, Sugar Acts, Tea Acts! And when we dared stand up like men, they have stopped our trade, seized our ships, blockaded our ports, burned our towns, and spilled our BLOOD! And still, this Congress refuses to grant ANY of my proposals on independence, even so much as the courtesy of open debate! Good God, what in hell are you waiting for?”

Long before HBO brought us the genius of John Adams there was another movie that showed how loveable the obnoxious and disliked second President of the United States was.

Unnamed Delegate: “Will someone shut that man up”
John Adams: “NEVER! NEVER!”

It’s a crazy idea that actually works. Turn the Second Continental Congress into a musical. As a musical this is not the strongest film you’ll ever find. In fact the musical numbers are kind of weak overall, but the film itself is quite strong. Primarily because so much of the time is spent covering the debates that occurred in the Continental Congress on whether or not to declare independence.

I first discovered this film in high school and this is where I began to see Adams as one of my greatest heroes (he may not have been the greatest President, but I would say he is possibly the greatest of the Founding Fathers.) The movie portrays Adams as arrogant, stubborn, obnoxious, disliked, principled to the point of being unwilling to budge on anything…and always right. Can’t imagine why I felt an immediate connection.

John Adams to God: “A second flood, a simple famine, plagues of locust everywhere, or a cataclysmic earthquake I’d accept with some despair…but no, you sent us Congress, good god sir, was that fair?”

The film spends a great deal of time in the debate between Adam’s pro-independence forces and the pro-Royalist force spearheaded by Pennsylvanian John Dickenson (the only man who had the opportunity to sign the Declaration and refused to on objections that he couldn’t in “good conscience”…yes endorsing evil he used the words “good conscience”…If I believed in Hell I would guarantee you he would be sharing a spot with Brutus, Cassius, and Judas…oh, by the way, the man also refused to sign and was opposed to the Constitution. Why they didn’t shoot this treasonous SOB boggles my mind.) It is this debate that makes the movie so patriotic. We revel in the ideals and debates that gave birth to a nation of ideals.

Dickenson makes bizarre claims, as many loyalists did at the times, that there must be better ways to solve the problems with the crown (ignoring that when the government starts sending the army after you for pleading your rights, there are few options left. Dickenson even goes as far as questioning George III’s status as a tyrant.

John Dickenson: Mr. Jefferson, I have very little interest in your paper, as there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ve all but heard the last of it, but I am curious about one thing. Why do you refer to King George as a… tyrant?
Thomas Jefferson: Because he *is* a tyrant.
John Dickenson: I remind you, Mr. Jefferson, that this “tyrant” is still your king.
Thomas Jefferson: When a king becomes a tyrant, he thereby breaks the contract binding his subjects to him.
John Dickenson: How so?
Thomas Jefferson: By taking away their rights.
John Dickenson: Rights that came from him in the first place.
Thomas Jefferson: All except one. The right to be free comes from nature.
John Dickenson: And are we not free, Mr. Jefferson?
Thomas Jefferson: Homes entered without warrant, citizens arrested without charge, and in many places, free assembly itself denied.
John Dickenson: No one approves of such things, but these are dangerous times.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Those who would give up some of their liberty in order to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

(I know some Brits even object to this point, but if you ever get in an argument with anyone on this point you should remind them that Mad King George got so bad that he had to be effectively deposed and only ruled in name for the last 18 years of his reign. We Americans were just ahead of the curve in recognizing what a useless ponce he was).

Dickenson also made claims to tradition (a poor substitute to reason), “Do you expect us to forget Hastings and Magna Carta, Strongbow and Lionheart, Drake and Marlborough? “ (From a nation whose traditions also included The Anarchy, Richard II, Richard III, Bloody Mary, Charles I, James II, Cromwell, John…it’s also ironic that you would list the Magna Carta, a document creating new government restrictions on a tyrannical King…so really America was just living up to its British roots of not suffering tyranny very well.)

And of course the movie describes what makes America special among nations so well.

John Dickenson: Fortunately, the people maintain a higher regard for their mother country.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Higher, certainly, than she feels for them. Never was such a valuable possession so stupidly and recklessly managed, than this entire continent by the British crown. Our industry discouraged, our resources pillaged… first of all our very character stifled. We’ve spawned a new race here, Mr. Dickenson. Rougher, simpler; more violent, more enterprising; less refined. We’re a new nationality. We require a new nation.

One of the more ironic portions of the film is that when needing to take out the critique of slavery to get the South to sign on Adams advocates to not take it out as slavery is an abomination to the nation. But Franklin and Jefferson win the day arguing that they must have a nation first if they are to ever liberate the slaves, that to stand on principle on this issue will mean slavery for everyone.

John Adams: Mark me, Franklin… if we give in on this issue, posterity will never forgive us.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: That’s probably true, but we won’t hear a thing, we’ll be long gone. Besides, what would posterity think we were? Demi-gods? We’re men, no more, no less, trying to get a nation started against greater odds than a more generous God would have allowed. First things first, John. Independence; America. If we don’t secure that, what difference will the rest make?

It’s painfully ironic that we have elevated them to Demi-god status. It probably was the wrong thing to do to take the line out, but it was the pragmatic thing, and it did lead to a nation that not only shed its own blood to end slavery within its own borders, but a nation that would shed its own blood to end tyranny in foreign lands because we do believe that “all men are created equal” and entitled to the right of liberty.

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Greatest Patriotic Films Ever #8 Yankee Doodle Dandy

“It seems it always happens. Whenever we get too high-hat and too sophisticated for flag-waving, some thug nation decides we’re a push-over all ready to be blackjacked. And it isn’t long before we’re looking up, mighty anxiously, to be sure the flag’s still waving over us.”

Nothing like good old, unapologetic flag waving.  This film is the story of the life of actor, writer, director, songwriter, producer George M. Cohan.  A stage-veteran from birth, born on the 4th of July, and a die hard patriot.  Writer of such songs as “Over There” and “Grand Old Flag” the man provided this nation with some of finest moments of patriotism in the first half of the century.

The film, made in 1942 and directed by Casablanca director Michael Curitz, the film is 2 solid hours of flag waving and joy.  Yeah, it’s a propaganda film for WWII—what’s a shame is that Hollywood no longer sees itself as having a duty to uplift the nation when times are rough.

I’d include clips from the film of Cohan’s stirring number “Over There” which he wrote to inspire and entertain the troops in WWI after they turned him down from joining the Army (at 39 he was too old)—yes the man was in the USO before there even was a USO—or a clip of the final scenes which are just as patriotic…but Turner pictures seems to have had the embedding function disabled on these, so you’ll just have to go to then links.

I can’t say too much about the film because it is all fairly blunt: America is the greatest nation on Earth.  However, I would like to point out that in addition to everything else, this is the usual great story of a man that started with nothing and made his fame and fortune on talent and drive.  Here in America these stories are a dime a dozen…in other nations they’re rather few and far between.

I can only say that if you’ve never seen this film, you should.

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The Roberts Courts leaves us going…huh?…And how to solve the problem.

What the hell were they thinking?  If that statue could get up she would be lopping off head with that sword.

You know there are supremely bad Supreme Court calls–Swann v. Charolotte-Mechlenburg County Board of Education, which created racial busing; Gibbons v. Ogden, which gave the government too much power in regulating commerce; South Dakota v. Dole, which gave the federal government the right to control internal state matters; Kelo, which abolished private property rights–and there are truly evil Supreme Court calls (Dred Scott, Plessey, Korematsu…actually Kelo belongs in this category)…there are even well intentioned but just supremely stupid calls like Brown v Board of Education whose answer to government overreach of power was to give the government more power or Roe which for all the right reasons created the most useless headache in American history.

And then there is this shit which has me going WTF.

So let me get this straight. The Commerce Clause is limited, and the Obamacare isn’t Constitutional under the Commerce Clause. This would be nice if we interpreted this decision as over turning judicial BS like Gibbons and Wickard v Filburn which have always given the government the right to regulate all commerce (which the Founders never intended and were quite against) not just interstate commerce. And if this ruling is used to strike down such socialistic abuses of the federal government and restore us to a more capitalistic society, then great.

But while that is a correct interpretation of the Commerce Clause…Roberts and his idiotic liberal friends find an interpretation of the taxing clause to be so insane I have to ask if LSD has been put in the Supreme Court drinking water.

Here is everything the Constitution has to say about taxes:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.
No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken. (This clause changed by the 16th Amendment)

AMENDMENT XVI : The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Now, I’m not a Constitutional scholar, but I’m well read and can reason for myself. Most of the points about taxes have no bearing on this debate. The only relevant parts are the last two lines. Article 1 Section 9 denying all taxes but in direct proportion to the census and Amendment giving the federal government the right to tax income. Now stop me if I’m wrong here, but nowhere does it say they can tax me for not doing something. Further the 16th Amendment only gives the right to tax income, not punish, not impose fees. The government does have the right to impose fees and charges under the Commerce Clause, but we’ve already dealt with the fact that Obamacare is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause.

The 16th Amendment gives the right to tax income and income alone. I don’t see the right to tax actions or more importantly the lack of action. So please explain to me how this court decision does not give almost infinite power to compel obedience through the taxing clause instead of the commerce clause.

Now some conservative commentators have been trying to defend Roberts’ actions, as if stripping the Commerce Clause alone was a great thing. But what profit it conservatives if they should gain the commerce clause but lose capitalism? Roberts took us one step forward and 10 steps back. Excuse me if I’m not thrilled. What the hell was Robert’s thinking?

If they can “tax” me for not buying insurance, what else can I be taxed for? Can I be “taxed” for owning a foreign made car every year (after all we have to give Government Motors running)? Can I be taxed every year for not joining a union? Can I be taxed for not giving money to his divine holiness Barack Obama’s campaign? Where is the limit to taxing power Roberts and his ilk created today?

And how is a “tax” for non-action not in violation of the 5th and 14th Amendments guarantee I will not be deprived of property without Due Process? How is a fine designed to coerce action, which by nature must be unusually high, not in violation of the 8th Amendment’s statement that excessive fines will not be imposed. How is all of this not in violation of the general idea of the Constitution as a document to limit government power, not give carte blanche?

So Roberts is an idiot. And please don’t come off with your “you’re Constitutional scholar” crap unless you can tell me where the government has the right to tax me into compliance with their laws. I may not be a Constitutional scholar, but I am a citizen and it is not only my right, it is my responsibility to know the Constitution and question the action of government officials.

Now with the theoretical and long term problems this could present in that it now gives the government power to tax you into slavery…let’s deal with the pragmatic results and long term solutions…

First off, Obama just lost the election. One of the few things he had going for him was saying that he never raised taxes on the middle class (a lie, but he could get out of it by technicality). That technicality just ended. It’s a tax and he’s putting it right on the backs of the middle class.

And given how unpopular this law is, it’s not a shock that Romney has raised over 2 million since the Supreme Court came out with its brainless call this morning.

Instead of Romney having one issue to run on, the economy, he now has two to run on the economy and Obamacare. (Now add the fact that Egypt is probably going to do something psychotically evil and Europe is about to collapse, he’ll also have foreign policy to run on before November). Obama was at best running neck and neck this morning…now the conservative base is energized like never before, independents have something to fear, and the Tea Party has been given a shot of atropine to the heart. It’s over Barry.

Also a short term pragmatic effect is that this will kill any possibility of economic growth before November. Some businesses might have been hiring with hope that Obamacare was about to be overturned. That won’t happen now. Businesses aren’t stupid and they’re not going to take a risk on what they can’t afford…they will wait until November and see what happens rather than commit economic suicide and saddle themselves with employees they can’t afford. This in turn will help Romney win, but expect a few more months of hardship economically.

Okay so let’s ask how do we deal with this long term?

Well the first thing is we need to overturn Obamacare.

It needs to be replaced with tort reform to make care cheaper, reform of regulations in the FDA and drug companies to make the drugs cheaper, allowing insurance companies to cross state lines which will lower costs across the board. Further we need real immigration reform (1) to get rid of the illegals who are living off the taxpayer dole and who have been responsible for massive ER and medical provider closures throughout the country and massive state debts and (2) to further help attract those who are qualified medical care providers which we are short of right now.

As to the two popular points of Obamacare the covering of children until 26 and the preexisting condition coverage, both are actually easily fixed. You can require that insurance companies offer coverage of children until they are 26 for premiums to be paid by the parents. Most insurance companies are already saying they’re going to offer the 26 thing even if Obamacare is overturned…why? Because they get to justify raising their premiums to cover a segment of the population that next to never need medical attention. Better to make it an optional idea and then only if your parents want to pay are you still covered (even if they offered it for an extra 50 they’d still make a profit…the real question is are you such a whining college drop out that your parents aren’t going to waste the money on your useless liberal ass).

As for preexisting conditions, we all know why insurance companies don’t like to take them on. They’re going to pay more money for your care and thus not make a profit. They’re in business to make a profit. Your doctor is in business to make a profit. Every sane person is out to make a profit. Only the insane and evil are self-sacrificing. Now what we can do is write laws that, if you have a preexisting condition they get to charge you more, which is only fair as I would say the majority of preexisting conditions are at least partly caused by behavior and lifestyle…and that if you have a preexisting condition you agree to pay for that policy for a specified amount of time (say 15 years) which guarantees that you won’t just stop insurance once you get the treatment you need (the reason why taking on preexisting conditions is usually a loss) and that if you kick the bucket your insurance company is the first creditor to be paid off. This is both a just way to deal with the situation and it takes much of the risk out of taking on preexisting conditions.

However just solving the problem of Obamacare isn’t the only problem.

We still have the problem that the Supreme Court just expanded the powers of the government to what the Founding Fathers would have shot people over.

Now there is the fact that I can hope Romney will appoint better people than Bush did. But that still doesn’t fix the problem entirely.

And I know that getting a constitutional amendment passed is near impossible these days but we have to push for these if this nation is to survive.

  • We need an Amendment overturning this decision and Kelo reaffirming that private property is sacrosanct and that private property rights are one of the most central reasons for government to exist in the first place.
  • We need an Amendment limiting the government’s taxing power to only taxing actual monetary transactions (which bars them from taxing you for NOT doing something). I would prefer changing the whole thing to only being able to tax sales and abolish the income tax, but I’ll take barring them from not taxing me for not doing something.
  • We need an Amendment limiting the power of the Commerce Clause to ONLY commerce that crosses state lines (not theoretically could cross, not commerce that is tangentially involved in interstate, ONLY COMMERCE THAT CROSSES STATE LINES).

And we probably need something reaffirming the sacrosanct nature of a contract…but that’s tangential to this argument.

I know just the laws of tort reform and repealing Obamacare are going to be huge hurdles in and of themselves…but we need to focus on Amendments like this more than anything else or we risk legislation like this and bad court decisions like this every time the nation goes stupid and elects a liberal.

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Most Patriotic Films Ever #9 Casablanca

Yes, yes, it may be unquestionably the greatest movie of all time overall, but while very patriotic there are still, I think, 8 films ahead of it. But even if it isn’t the most patriotic film ever it is still very patriotic. Especially in a very broad sense.

Rick: Don’t you sometimes wonder if it’s worth all this? I mean what you’re fighting for.
Victor Laszlo: You might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we’ll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.
Rick: Well, what of it? It’ll be out of its misery.
Victor Laszlo: You know how you sound, Mr. Blaine? Like a man who’s trying to convince himself of something he doesn’t believe in his heart.

In the broad sense it suggests that patriotism is an attitude that everyone should have. Patriotism is often the only thing that stands between a nation and tyranny. Be it that those in Unoccupied France fighting to end tyranny were the only real patriots (and their numbers were far lower than has since been claimed) and those in the German underground were the only true German patriots (none seen in this film, but the German underground was actually larger than the French, who, as a nation, were a little too eager in welcoming their Nazi masters and far to eager to hand over ever Jew they could find). Any true patriotism isn’t a desire for your country to be the most powerful, it’s a love of country for the good it does and the good it is capable of…loving your nation for anything else is a violation of basic ethics and morals. It’s just easier to love America when you’re an American than it is to love other nations when you’re a citizen of those nations…it’s a side effect of being founded on the ideal of liberty rather than the land we live on/conquered or the race we come from. America’s just better that way. Must easier to love such a nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, which is why you would want to come here…or the nearest substitute, even if it’s only the Café Américain.


(the French have no right to have a song this powerful for a nation as pathetic as theirs…)

But this is a list of American patriotism in film. And as our resident American, Richard Blaine shows all the flaws and virtues

As with most things, everything only works out when you have the American on your side.

of the nation. Like America at the time he selfishly and foolishly wanted to be left alone, even though he clearly knew at one point what was right and wrong (fought for the loyalists in Spain, fought against the fascists in Ethiopia, earned a position on the Nazi black list). He shows that peculiar American sense of charity without thanks for a young couple. And of course by the end we understand what needs to be done and that evil needs to be fought. And by the end we love Rick, because once he gets over his cynicism he represents all that is good in America. And of course he points out to the Nazi’s the inevitable idiocy of trying to take on America

Major Strasser: Are you one of those people who cannot imagine the Germans in their beloved Paris?
Rick: It’s not particularly my beloved Paris.
Heinz: Can you imagine us in London?
Rick: When you get there, ask me!
Captain Renault: Hmmh! Diplomatist!
Major Strasser: How about New York?
Rick: Well there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade.

Another reason to love America—no one is ever going to take this nation by force.

And finally there is the fact that this film deals with how the rest of the world feels about America. There are some who recognize America’s virtues and like it, and at the far end of this spectrum they come here. There are those who just want what we have but disdain our culture and laws and either demand what we have in the form of foreign aid or come here in violation of our laws without taking a moment to realize the prosperity of this nation is because of our laws and our culture of individualism and reason and that you can’t have one without the other. And finally the extension of this second group is those who despise America and see us as nothing but a bunch of pompous, arrogant, classless, rubes…or as it is said in the film.

Major Strasser: You give him credit for too much cleverness. My impression was that he’s just another blundering American.
Captain Renault: We mustn’t underestimate “American blundering”. I was with them when they “blundered” into Berlin in 1918.

It should be noted that not only do we blundering Americans have a history of taking out tyrants from George III to

Is “American Blundering” one of the usual suspects?

Saddam…but that it was the blundering American who ended Major Strasser’s life. For some reason the world, and the American left, constantly underestimates the strength of character that America provides, always to their own downfall.  Our blundering, as they put it, is our determination in the face of unbeatable odd, our optimism in ourselves and the virtue of humanity, and our courage when others would turn back.  It may appear to be illogical blundering to those who don’t get it, but to us it the way to Happiness and success. And historically the results show we’re right.

“Welcome back to the fight. This time I know our side will win.”

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Most Patriotic Movies Ever #10 How the West Was Won

We begin the Top 10 Patriotic films with one of the better westerns ever made…

(old trailers are always interesting)

“This land has a name today, and is marked on maps. But, the names and the marks and the maps all had to be won, won from nature and from primitive man.[…] The west that was won by its pioneers, settlers, adventurers is long gone now. Yet it is theirs forever, for they left tracks in history that will never be eroded by wind or rain – never plowed under by tractors, never buried in compost of events. Out of the hard simplicity of their lives, out of their vitality, of their hopes and sorrows grew legends of courage and pride to inspire their children and their children’s children. From soil enriched by their blood, out of their fever to explore and be, came lakes where once there were burning deserts – came the goods of the earth; mine and wheat fields, orchards and great lumber mills. All the sinews of a growing country. Out of their rude settlements, their trading posts came cities to rank among the great ones of the world. All the heritage of a people free to dream, free to act, free to mold their own destiny.”

An epic film that spans three generations of American pioneers from the early days of westward expansion along the Erie Canal circa 1840 to the waning days of the West in Arizona circa the late 1870’s early 1880’s. The story is broken up into 5 parts telling the story of the farmers who traveled into what is now the Midwest to start a new life, of the wagon trains hell bent on gold in California, of the Civil War which seemed to halt westward expansion for a bloody moment, of the coming of the railroad which joined both halves of the nation and heralded the end of the wilderness, and finally of the last days of lawlessness in what was left of the West.  Every stage is shown to be filled with victories and loss, but each stage brings about something greater than what came before it.  From the earliest mountain men who first ventured east to the Marshalls who brought law and civilization to the wilderness, all of the characters are exemplars of what makes America what it is.

Patriotism or not it’s a great film.  It is the kind of all star epic that Hollywood doesn’t seem to make anymore.   Gregory Peck, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Debbie Reynolds, Henry Fonda, Eli Wallach, Robert Preston, to name a few but not all of the stars in this film, and to top it all off the narration of Spencer Tracy.  It’s kind of hard to top that…oh wait John Ford directed part of it.  Okay it’s kind of hard to top that.

But what makes this film patriotic?

Well first it is the simple story of who Americans are.  No matter what problems they are dealt, be it being literally stabbed in the back, literally going down the rapids without a paddle, war, Indians, stampeding Buffalo or being shot at, the heroes of this film always not only recover but pick themselves up and achieve a better life than anything they had before their temporary miseries.  They look at disaster, shrug it off and succeed in spite of misfortune and always with a constant stream of optimism….or as one character put it, “We made and spent fortunes together.  If he’d lived a little longer, we’d have made and spent another.”

Nothing could better exemplify what the heart of America was at its best. Yes, other nations have people who act like this, and other nations have had their day….but what is different about America is that other nations build themselves up to a great power, dominate for a while, fall and never seem to come back…America has been knocked down time (we started out as a bunch of rejects, criminals and unwanted) and time (crushing blows during early years of the Revolutionary War) and time (having our capital burned to the ground in the War of 1812) and time (a horrific Civil War…do I need to keep going?) again.  Any one of these events would crush most nations for all time, (remind me how long ago it was that Sparta conquered Athens, that Rome fell, that France was a nation worth giving a care about?) yet Americans don’t just recover from adversity, we thrive on it.  In a perverse way, as a nation, we embody the idea that what does not kill us only makes us stronger (which I guess will mean the term of 45th president will be the strongest years in American history). In this movie and in reality nothing seems to stop Americans from growing and getting better, even their own worst moments.

I could go on, there are a hundred little moments that I could discuss, but I think you would get a better impression watching it yourself than having me relate them.

“But that’s what I like about this country.  There’s always greener grass over the next hill.”

Not to spoil the ending,but the scenic views are breathtaking…

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A new look at the Electoral College

So some of my conservative friends are getting worried that Romney’s chances are looking down.  This is not the case.  Not only is Romney up but it’s beginning to look like Romney only has to avoid making a major blunder, pick a solid VP and just tie in the debates and he will win easily (all three are pretty easy) as the person who seems to be working the hardest to get Romney elected turns out to be Obama’s mouth (with Bill Clinton coming in a close second).

But there are things that are making some conservatives nervous like the recent Bloomberg poll that shows Obama up 13 points.  This is a fascinating poll if you get into the details.  Unlike every other likely voter poll which shows Romney ahead or a least tied, Bloomberg exists in its own special universe where Obama is untouchable.  Every expert on polling says that while Obama does well with minorities, women, those 29 and younger, the uneducated and poor, every expert (right and left) agrees that turnout of these groups will be down from their record 2008 numbers across the board.   Now it’s hard to get exact numbers, but it appears the Bloomberg people seem to think that the African-American vote will increase by a point and the Hispanic vote will increase by 4 points, also the 18-29 vote will go up by about 3 points…and the rest of their “likely voter” model also looks off based on common sense but I couldn’t find accurate data to refute it…but no matter how you look at it grossly oversampling groups you know are disproportionately supporting Obama makes the entire methodology seem questionable at best.  Especially when more states have Voter ID laws and are clearly the voter rolls of solidly Democratic illegal and undead voters.

Liberals are getting desperate.

Why are they getting desperate?  Because the Electoral College numbers are not good for Obama.

But, but, but Obama is ahead in the Electoral College right now you say?

According to RealClearPolitics the average of their polls leave Obama with 227 votes, Romney with 170 and 147 undecided.  But that’s not the whole story.

As Dick Morris has been saying for months, historically the undecided vote always breaks two-to-one in favor of the challenger (Romney).  So when you calculate that fact in then Romney picks up another 79 electoral votes brining Romney up to 249 votes (with another 29 votes within one point of difference)

Click for larger view.


But this still is not the complete story as these averages include registered voter polls as well as likely voter polls which we all know are biased toward Democrats.  But rather than pick out all the registered voter polls I’m going to focus on three states Colorado, Missouri and Michigan and remove the registered voter polls from the Democratic polling firm PPP which is without a doubt one of the worst polling firms in existence, as I have pointed out before.


When you take out PPP’s grossly questionable numbers all three states and their 35 votes go to Romney…total of 284 votes (or 14 more than he needs).

Plus this still leaves Wisconsin, which just gave the death knell to public sector unions, within 1 point…and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan is in the lead for VP…do you think that might swing it by a 1%?

Right now this is more or less what the country would look like if the vote was held today (6/25)

Yes that still leaves it very close for Romney in a lot of states.  But when you factor in the likely death of Obamacare coming up, a massive scandal that is Fast & Furious, more statements like “The private sector is doing fine” and other such implosions do you really think Obama is going to be able to raise his numbers?  Do you really think Mitt’s constant, factual, and strong attacks on Obama won’t gain him some more points?

It’s not a done deal so much so that Romney can just go back to his California home and just surf for the rest of the summer…but right now the odds are in Romney’s favor and if he doesn’t drop the ball, come January, Obama will be evicted from the people’s house and real recovery can begin.

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Weekly Meditation: Thing to tell yourself…

I was working on a significantly longer meditation today when I saw this…

 

I don’t think I can top that right now.  Tell yourself these things at least 3 times every day this week…or better yet, print it out and put where you work or spend a lot of time.

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The Most Patriotic Films #11 To Kill A Mockingbird

Now, gentlemen, in this country, our courts are the great levelers. In our courts, all men are created equal. I’m no idealist to believe firmly in the integrity of our courts and of our jury system – that’s no ideal to me. That is a living, working reality! Now I am confident that you gentlemen will review, without passion, the evidence that you have heard, come to a decision and restore this man to his family. In the name of GOD, do your duty. In the name of God, believe… Tom Robinson.

 

Okay first off, I’ll admit the central theme of this film is not the greatness of America, there is no denying that, but the theme is there.

 

First off this is a great patriotic film, because as I have said before we Americans are able to admit our mistakes, own up to them, learn from them and then move on.  And this film makes clear some of our worst behavior without giving a blanket indictment to all Americans past, present and future.

 

Think about it, which other countries are so open about their flaws?

 

I looked around and I couldn’t find that there were any monuments in England to their treatment of Catholics or to their actions in India (I could be wrong and if I am please tell me).  And if you go to Japan try and find public acknowledgement of Nanking, Bataan, or Pearl Harbor…that has some very interesting selective amnesia.  And let’s not forget Russia seems on the verge of re-embracing their darkest days.  But as America is a nation that does not believe in pedigree or the idea that the sins (or virtues) of the father automatically fall to the son, we aren’t told to feel personally guilty for the actions of our ancestors (like the German education system seems to be based on a near daily dose of “We are terrible evil people”—I’m sorry but the children nowadays, while they should knows what happened, shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about something they didn’t do).  Only America has, more or less, a history of admitting their flaws and mistakes but not dwelling and wallowing in them—just as an individual should.  Yes there are people in this nation that want to make us likes the dregs of Europe either denying our wrongs or wallowing in them as if no redemption is possible, but these people never seem to gain any long term traction because ignorance and guilt are not the American way.

 

Now, as the opening quote suggests, this is a movie tied heavily to our legal system. Its flaws and its strengths.  Atticus’ speech speaks to the hopes of its strengths.  Its flawed verdict speaks to the weakness of depending on people who are by nature imperfect for justice (but you come up with a better system).  But I think there is a point missed in all the injustice here.  The majority of the people act within the rules of the law.  Atticus of course always follows the law to the letter (even to the point where he thought he would have to bring his son to court for murder charges)—but it is not just Atticus.  The Judge of the story, who could have given any lawyer to Tom Robbinson, ensures he gets the one lawyer in town who will not allow a man he knows to be innocent to be railroaded without even mounting a defense. Further the character of Sheriff Tate when limited by the rules of the law charges a man he doesn’t believe to be innocent, because a complaint has been filed and it is not for the police to determine guilt or innocence…but when it is in his legal power to determine what happened he makes it quite clear “Bob Ewell fell on his knife”…Arthur “Boo” Radley Who?  For all the flaws of the legal system shown in this film, it is shown that it is a system worthy of following in this nation because even when it has gross injustices it is still better than the alternative. (Further let us not forget this film was made in the 1960’s and worked as a powerful piece of propaganda to help pass civil rights reform that ended the kind of injustice seen in this film.

A man who stands up for what he believes in, even in the face of certain violence,is almost always to be admired (so long as his cause is right and just…which is a given in with Atticus.)

And then there is Atticus Finch.  A heroes hero whom we all wish we could be more like.  And he is a distinctly America kind of hero. He doesn’t care about what the community at large thinks, he doesn’t care what his neighbors say, he doesn’t care when he personally is threatened.  He care about his children and what is right.  There is no other consideration for the opinion of community or loyalty to society, only what is right.  Some countries may ask devotion to “king and country” others demand obedience to race or religion…but America is the nation that glorifies loyalty to self, to reason, and to right. Which is the reason why we love Atticus and admire him so deeply.

Also, a very subtle theme that is tied to the core of America is that action and principle must go hand in hand.  Yes Atticus Finch is a man of morals and virtue and character that we should all aspire to.  His guiding light of  “The main one is that if I didn’t, I couldn’t hold my head up in town. I couldn’t even tell you or Jem not to do somethin’ again” is a belief that far too many are lacking in the modern world (clearly no one in France or Greece has any conception of this kind of thinking).  But the fact of the matter is that there is a certain lack of action in his moral. He stands tall when a piece of filth like Ewell spits in his face and doesn’t give in to the provocation to fight…which if it were just Atticus who was in jeopardy would be fine…but he failed to take into account that Ewell had a history of attacking the defenseless and innocent. Which is why it is Boo Radley who shows the very American propensity for knowing that sometimes you have to put evil people down and make sure they can never get back up again.

 

—-

 

 

Oh, and not on the issue of patriotism…but a fun fact.  There is a portion of the movie (and it’s in the book too) about the arrogance of teachers who think that they know everything because they’ve been to college and that parents know nothing.  One might call it ironic that this is a book almost every English teacher loves, even though it is insulting the arrogant mentality of most teachers…but they would have to be bright enough to get that point, and, at the least most of the union hacks certainly are nowhere near that bright.

 

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Ramblings of Conservative Cathy – Flip flopper/Pandering???

The Democrats and some “so called” Republicans like to say that the Republican nominee – Mitt Romney is a flip flopper and panders to those he speaks with. Well he just had a wonderful opportunity to prove this to his detractors but wait – it did not occur. I was shocked – really shocked that once again my nominee stood on principal and demonstrated true character. And if you actually wanted to do some real research instead of just listening and repeating what the talking heads say you would find out that this is how he has always been and I expect will always be!

Below is the transcript of Romney’s speech to the large Latino group of elected officials, NALEO.

Did he change anything he has said previously? NO! Did he pander to the crowd? NO!

If you have been paying attention then you know he said nothing new and he stayed on track and promoted a better economy. Stated as he always has that illegal immigration affects the economy and following the laws and correcting a broken immigration system will improve the economy and he wants to do that as the economy is his main premise for just about everything.

Now his detractors want to say he did not come down on either side of Obama’s election gift to illegal immigrants but I think this phrase says it all and does not side step the issue: “Some people have asked if I will let stand the president’s executive order. The answer is that I will put in place my own long- term solution that will replace and supersede the president’s temporary measure. As president, I won’t settle for stopgap measures. I will work with Republicans and Democrats to build a long-term solution. And I’ll prioritize measures –”
I think that says that he will actually fix the situation and follow what he promotes – legal immigration and securing our border – which he has been saying forever.

And as always you can not beat phrases like this: “Today, I’m asking you to join me, because while we may not agree on everything, we share the same goal, and the same vision. And the same belief in American greatness that draws so many people to our shores. Liberty’s torch can burn just as brightly for future generations of immigrant as it has burned for immigrants in the past.”

This is one of the reasons why Mitt Romney is my choice for President of the United States!

Except from CNN transcript (if there are any errors blame CNN):

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Appreciate the chance to be with you today and I’m delighted to be here to be invited here at your annual conference. It’s an honor to be among so many elected officials.
I come to you as a candidate of the United States of America. And I will govern from the principle that while this is a land of extraordinary diversity, there are so much more that unites us than there is that divides us.
(APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: Each of us walks a different path in life, but we are united by one great overwhelming passion, we love the United States of America. We believe in America. We are one nation under God.
Today, we are united not only by our faith in America, we are also united by our concern for America. The country we love is in peril, and that’s why I’m running for president.
Almost four years ago, the American people did something that was very much the sort of thing that Americans like to do — we gave someone new a chance to lead, someone who we had not known very long who didn’t have much of a record, but promised to lead us to a better place.
At the time, we didn’t know what kind of president he’d be. It was a moment of crisis for our economy. And when Barack Obama became to office, America wished him well and hoped for the best.
Three-and-a-half years later, over 23 million Americans are out of work. Unemployed. Underemployed. Or simply quit looking for a job.
At a time when we should be gaining momentum in the economy, we are actually seeing us lose a little bit of it right now. Job growth slowed and this week we learned that the number of job openings has fallen yet again. And as you know, Hispanics have been hit disproportionately hard. While the national unemployment is still above 8 percent and has been for 40 straight months, Hispanic unemployment is at 11 percent.
The middle class under President Obama has been crushed. More Americans are living in poverty today than at any point in American history. Over 2 million more Hispanics are living in poverty today than the day when President Obama took office.
Home values have plunged, our national debt is at record levels and families are buried under higher prices for things like food and gasoline, and yet the president said that the private sector is doing fine.
This is more than a policy failure. It’s a moral failure. I know that the president will say that he inherited the economic crisis, and that’s true.
But we shouldn’t allow the challenges that he faced four years ago to divert our attention from another important fact. The president pursued policies that have made this the slowest recovery since the Great Depression, and he broke promises many people were counting on the build a brighter future. It did not have to be this way.
Just compare this president’s record with the first term of Ronald Reagan. President Reagan also faced an economic crisis. In fact, in 1982, the unemployment rate peaked at nearly 11 percent. But in the two years that followed, just two years, he delivered a true recovery, economic growth and job creation worth three times higher than in the Obama economy.
If President Obama had delivered a real recovery, a Reagan recovery, we would have 5 million more jobs today — 5 million more. And the unemployment rate would be 6 percent, and the economy would be at least 1 trillion larger.
Now, tomorrow President Obama will speak here, and of course, that is the first time he has spoken here since the last campaign. He may admit that he has not kept every promise, and he’ll probably say that even though you aren’t better off than you were four years ago, things could be worse.
He will imply that you don’t really have an alternative. I believe he’s taking your vote for granted.
I’d come here today with a very simple message, you do have an alternative. Your vote should be respected. And your voice is more important now than ever before.
This November, we are going to make a choice. We can continue along the path we are on. Or we can choose a better way. Instead of continuing on with the policies of the last three and a half years, we can revitalize our free enterprise economy, we can lead the world as we have in what we invent and build and create.
Let me make this very clear: this is the only way we can strengthen the middle-class. And this is the only way we can create sustained prosperity. Raising taxes to grow government does not grow the middle-class.
Today, I’m asking you the join me, because while we may not agree on everything, we share the same goal, and the same vision. And the same belief in American greatness that draws so many people to our shores. Liberty’s torch can burn just as brightly for future generations of immigrant as it has burned for immigrants in the past.
We know that the businesses can’t succeed and grow and hire more workers without a more competitive tax system. That’s why I am going to lower the corporate tax rate and reduce individual marginal tax rates by 20 percent across the board.
We also know that our businesses and families need affordable and reliable energy. Producing more of our own energy resources will create jobs in America, and generate greater revenues for the country.
It will also help bring manufacturing back to our shores. You are going to see a manufacturing resurgence if we get that policy right. We know that the economy cannot grow if we are mortgaging the future to pay for the big government programs of today.
Think about that. We can’t keep on borrowing massively more than we take in without putting the country in peril, and so as president, I will rein in spending, and I will get the budget balanced. And I will repeal Obamacare, because we cannot afford another $2 trillion entitlement.
(APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: Everybody likes free stuff, but there is no free stuff when government has to the pay and it has to tax the American people or when it borrows from future generations. Obamacare is depressing job growth. If priority number one is jobs, you have to get Obamacare out of there.
In one study, 73 percent of a business owners said that Obamacare has made it harder for them to hire people. Think of that. Almost three quarters of small businesses saying Obamacare is making it less likely to hire people. If jobs are your priority, you got to get rid of Obamacare and put in place real reform that works.
Repealing Obamacare and replacing it will give businesses the kind of certainty they need to expand and to hire and to grow. Now, by the way, we can also jump start our economy by expanding trade in our hemisphere.
As you know, however, the president has not completed a single new trade agreement with a Latin American nation and he has failed to crack down on countries like China, who don’t live by the rules.
We know that our kids can’t succeed if they are trapped in failing schools, and that is why as president I will give the parents of every low income and special needs student the chance to choose where their child goes to school.
(APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: When it comes to education, a choice for every parent means a chance for every child. An effective immigration system can also strengthen the economy as it has since the nation’s founding.
Unfortunately, despite his promises, President Obama has failed to address immigration reform. For two years this president had huge majorities in the House and Senate, he was free to pursue any policy he pleased, but he did nothing to advance a permanent fix for our broken immigration system. Nothing. Instead, he failed to act until facing a tough re-election, and trying to secure your vote.
Last week the president finally offered a temporary measure — he called it a stopgap measure — that he seems to think will be just enough to get him through the election.
After 3 1/2 years of putting every issue from loan guarantees to his donors to Cash for Clunkers, putting all of those things before immigration, now the president has been seized by an overwhelming need to do what he could have done on day one, but didn’t. I think you deserve better.
Some people have asked if I will let stand the president’s executive order. The answer is that I will put in place my own long- term solution that will replace and supersede the president’s temporary measure. As president, I won’t settle for stopgap measures. I will work with Republicans and Democrats to build a long-term solution. And I’ll prioritize measures —
(APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: — and I want you to also know this, I will prioritize efforts that strengthen legal immigration and make it more transparent and easier. And I’m going to address the issue of illegal immigration in a civil and resolute manner. We may not always agree, but when I make a promise to you, I will keep it. Let me speak about some of the guidelines that I will use in putting together the policy. And as you have heard me say many times it is critical to redouble the efforts to secure the borders. That means both preventing illegal border crossings and making it harder to illegally overstay a visa.
We should field enough border patrol agents, complete a high-tech fence and implement an improved exit verification system. Our immigration system should help promote strong families as well, not keep them apart. Our nation benefits when moms and dads and their kids are all living together under the same roof.

(APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: But today, too many families are caught in a broken system that costs them time and money and entangles them in excessive red tape. For those seeking to come to America the right way, that kind of bureaucratic nightmare has to end. And we can do this with just a few common sense reforms.
As president, I’d reallocate green cards to those seeking to keep their families under one roof.
(APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: And we will exempt from caps the spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents.
(APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: And we will eliminate other forms of bureaucratic red tape that keep families from coming together. Immigration reform is not just a moral imperative, it is also an economic necessity. Immigrants with advanced degrees start companies, create jobs and they drive innovation at a very high rate.
Immigrants founded or co-founded nearly half of our top 50 venture-backed companies in this country — nearly half. They are nearly 30 percent more likely to start a business. And that kind of risk-taking is something we need more than ever, because new business startups in America are at a 30-year low.
I’ll work with states and employers to update our temporary worker visa program so that it meets our economic needs. And if you get an advanced degree here, we want you to stay here. So I’d staple a green card to the diploma of someone who gets an advanced degree in America.
(APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: We want the best and brightest to enrich the nation through the jobs and technologies they are going to create. Now, we also have a strong tradition in this country of honoring immigrants who join our military and put their lives on the line to keep the country safe. Since September 11th of 2001, the United States has naturalized nearly 75,000 members of the Armed Forces. Too many of those patriots died on distant battlefields for our freedom before receiving full citizenship here in the country they called home. As president I will stand for a path to legal status for anyone who is willing to stand up and defend this great nation through military service.
(APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: Those who have risked their lives in defense of America have earned the right to make their life in America. But improving access to legal immigration is only one part of the equation. We must also make legal immigration more attractive than illegal immigration, so that people are rewarded for waiting patiently in line.
That is why my administration will establish a strong employment verification system so that every business can know with confidence that the people it hires are legally eligible for employment. We can find common ground here, and we have got to.
We owe it to ourselves as Americans to ensure that our country remains the land of opportunity both for those who were born here and for those who share our values, respect our laws and want to come to our shores.

Now, throughout my campaign, I have often had the chance to speak about my dad and how proud I am of him. He was born, as Scotty said, to parents, American parents living in Mexico. When he was 5, they left everything behind and started over in the United States.
His dad, my grandfather, was a builder, and he went bust more than once. My grandfather didn’t make much money. There were times in my dad’s life when he lived in poverty. But my grandfather had big hopes for my dad and tried to help him as best he could.
My dad didn’t finish college. But he believed in the country where the circumstances of one’s birth were not a barrier to achievement. And he was not afraid of hard work. He held odd jobs, putting up plasterboard, selling paint. He was lucky enough to live in America where hard work can turn aspirations into realities.
After he became a man of the business world, he got the opportunity to lead a great car company, and ultimately, he became the governor of a great state, the state of Michigan.
This is my father’s story. But it could be the story of any American. Most of you here today are leaders in your community. Your are here because you have benefited from the land of opportunity, and you want to give back to this country, to fight for its people so they have the same chance to succeed.
We are truly one America. Everyone here has made this exceptional nation what it is today. This is an election about two people. This is not an election about being a Republican or a Democrat or and independent. This is an election about the future of America. I’d ask each of you to honestly look at the last 3 1/2 years and ask whether we can do better. Is the America of 11 percent Hispanic unemployment the America of our dreams? We can do better. We can prosper again with the powerful recovery we have all been waiting for, the good jobs that so many people need and, above all, the opportunities we owe to our children and our grandchildren.
I will do that. I will make that happen with your help and your support. Thank you so much. And God bless this great land. Thank you.

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The Best Patriotic Films #12 Cinderella Man

“I have to believe that when things are bad I can change them.”

If you’re a consistent reader of this blog, you’ll probably know that I am not the biggest fan of sports the universe has ever known.  But while most sports bore me, movies about sports can still be great. And Cinderella Man is one of those films.  (Also despite the very patriotic undertones of Far And Away and Apollo 13 I felt those were more centered on the characters than the nation that gave rise to those characters, but I really thought a great director like Ron Howard did deserve to be on this list somewhere).
For those who don’t remember this film, it is the story of Jim Broddock, a boxer who lost everything in the early days of the Great Depression, including his promising boxing career…only to make a miraculous comeback after being called on to fill in last minute for a fighter who had to bow out.

It is an American story for many reasons.  The least of which is that it is the story of an underdog.  Americans for all their strength in economics, military, this or that field, love an underdog, because that’s what we are.  We are band of misfits who created a great economic power.  We are a band of untrained militia who beat the most powerful military in the world.  We are the place where someone can through willpower and skill change their life for the better.  We are the place that gets knocked down time and time and time again, and always comes back stronger than before.  And we love to root for underdogs like ourselves.

But like any great underdog story, this is the story of a man who survives and excels because of willpower and drive.  The America Dream is not the American Dream because lots of people here can win the lottery or just find success by dumb luck—it is the American Dream because we have control of our own lives, power over our destiny—we don’t live as the victims of our circumstances but as the master of them (or at least that’s what we preach…but at least we preach this bit of truth, rather than some froggish countries that preach dependency.)

And it is again the simplicity of the American Dream that makes this movie stand out.  The final title cards show that Braddock did not just blow his money (it should be noted that according to the movie he didn’t squander the money he earned early in his career…he just invested it right before the crash), but rather lived the modest American Dream most of us have in mind for ourselves and one day for our children:

“Two years later Jim Braddock put his title on the line against Joe Louis. Jim knocked him down in the first round though Louis went on to win the bout. Joe Louis would always call Jim Braddock the most courageous man he ever fought.  Jim served honorably in World War II. He later owned and operated heavy equipment on the same docks where he labored during the Great Depression. In the early 1960’s he helped build the Verrazano Bridge. Jim and Mae bought a house in New Jersey with the winnings from the Baer fight. They raised their children in that house and lived there for the rest of their lives.”

Of course what really makes this movie stand out is Braddock’s behavior to the relief money (today we would call it welfare).  Yes he needed to take relief money to keep the power on so that his kids could stay with him and his wife.  There is nothing wrong with welfare when people are desperate and no one in this country would begrudge legitimate need (as opposed to making no effort to get on your own feet, to control your own life, to educate yourself, or to get a job…those lazy couch potatoes we have a real problem with).  But what makes Braddock’s story interesting is what he did when he was back on his feet:

Reporter: Bob Johnson, Boston Globe. Two days ago, we ran a story about you giving your relief money back. Can you tell our readers why?

Jim Braddock: I believe we live in a great country, a country that’s great enough to help a man financially when he’s in trouble. But lately, I’ve had some good fortune, and I’m back in the black. And I just thought I should return it.

While there may be cases like this elsewhere, it is only the most charitable nation in the world that you will see this as not being an act of insanity, but rather an example of the best that this nation has to offer.  We don’t glorify need, but we do glorify those who are able to pick themselves up to a point where they can help themselves and those around them.

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The Patriotic Films #13 Red Dawn

“I never saw the Eckert Brothers again. In time, this war – like every other war – ended. But I never forgot. And I come to this place often, when no one else does. … In the early days of World War 3, guerillas – mostly children – placed the names of their lost upon this rock. They fought here alone and gave up their lives, so that this nation should not perish from the earth.”

Let me start off by saying I’m not going to be defending the exceedingly high production standards or the Oscar quality performances seen in this film.  To do so would just be dishonest.  This is a B flick that became a cult classic.  (And I’m just going to ignore all the logistics and tactical issues).    (It will be interesting to see if the remake can maintain the same pro-American theme which is so unpopular in modern Hollywood).  But this is a beloved film of my youth and you know how those films always stay with you.

But it does show that America (more embodied in our teenage protagonists than the townspeople who behave in a strangely un-American fashion) does not roll over in the face of greater odds (or at least that was the intent, I really do have a problem with how the town seems to be rather passive…but I get that wasn’t the point of the film).

It’s either really bad writing or a very high opinion of America (or both), but you have to admit this small band is not only extremely good at laying traps and taking out superior forces…but they are truly spectacular at scavenging. Military camouflage for different season, fully automatic weapons, RPG’s—the very thing that turned the tide against the Soviets in Afghanistan and which has to be provided by us—the heroes of this film really know how to raid the good caravans and for great military equipment.

And while I’m on the topic keep in mind that this movie was made at the same time the very same thing was going on in Afghanistan, but not with such spectacular results.  The only reason the Afghani insurgents did well was American support, and I think writers were trying to show that Americans don’t necessarily need foreign support to defend their own nation.  (Oh, before someone chides me by saying backing the Afghan forces was a bad idea, it wasn’t. What was a bad idea was not going in after the Soviets left and helping them to rebuild their nation, rather preferring to let butchers and psychopaths take control of the nation.  What was Wilson’s quote “These things happened. They were glorious and they changed the world…and then we fucked up the end game.”* Thank Bush Senior for turning a nation that could have become a first world nation and ally into a complete clusterfuck.  It must be a genetic thing that the Bush’s have no ability to see the long game.)

But back to Red Dawn.

One of my favorite lines in the film is when they are about to execute the Soviet solider whom they had captured calls out, “This violates the Geneva convention.”  It’s laughable.  From a man who had participated in the killing of civilians as reprisals for the acts of others.  From a man from a nation that has killed more innocent people than any nation in history, begging for following the rules of civilized society (also, it’s not a violation of the convention, guerillas aren’t covered by the convention and thus they don’t have to abide by it…but Communists aren’t real big on a actual understanding of law and natural rights).  Quite frankly, given what heartless genocidal lunatics the Soviets were (and it looks like they’re hoping for a comeback with strongman Putin) it only reminds me of a line from another film from my childhood, “You who are without mercy, now beg for it?” (Kudos, if you know the film).

Of course Red Dawn also points out that there are certain difference between America and most of Europe. When getting news from their downed Air Force Colonel, they ask

“What about Europe?”

…and get the response…

“I guess they figured twice in one century was enough. They’re sitting this one out. All except England, and they won’t last very long.”

And it’s sad how so true this is.  Most of Europe were cowards in helping us take down a dictator (except for a lot of Eastern Europe, I wonder if it might have something to do with the fact that Eastern Europe understands why dictators MUST be opposed) and for all their high handed morality in not helping with wars, they were also strangely silent in helping to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan.  Like the entire Greek population, most of Europe is motivated by short-sighted grasping and looking out for their own ends without any consideration of morality, a hallmark of their beloved socialist systems (as opposed to Capitalism which is self-interest tempered by foresight, reason and ethics).

Of course I do need to bring up a couple points about what bothers me more over the years…

Now there are a couple of problems that do need to be dealt with.  The first, which I assume was simply the nature of needing to have a movie in the first place.  Do you know how many privately owned guns there are in America, and especially in the Midwest which is where they claimed the Soviets were able to take a foot-hold.  I’d like to see someone try an invasion like this.  In a nation as well armed as the United States it would probably not go nearly as well as this movie suggested it would.

More than anything however, my biggest problem is the rather anti-American idea that it was just these kids.  Yes, I know it looked like they rounded up or killed half the town initially, and yes I know they had a throwaway line that from when Jed (Swayze) said he didn’t want to take on any more people…but the fact of the matter is that if you provide a rallying point, I would assume that you would see a good portion of Americans rise up should something like this ever happen.  History and the news tells us it’s damn near impossible to put down a guerilla revolt when the guerillas are fighting for oppression and tyranny…it should be damn impossible to do it if you actually have something to fight for, especially for a populace that didn’t grow up under tyranny.   I get that they were trying to show the character drama of what it was doing to these kids, but it does a disservice to the majority of the American populace whom I believe would never sit back and prefer to live on their knees than die on their feet.

*Before you ask Charlie Wilson’s War while a great story is about the man not the nation which is why it will not be officially on this list.  But I must ask, what happened to Democrats like Wilson who actually loved their nation and freedom?

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The Greatest Patriotic Movies: Tie for #14 The Outlaw Josey Wales

An icon of American individualism

Bounty hunter: You’re wanted, Wales.Josey Wales: Reckon I’m right popular. You a bounty hunter?

Bounty hunter: A man’s got to do something for a living these days.

Josey Wales: Dyin’ ain’t much of a living, boy.

This is as close as this list is going to get to an anti-war movie.  Liberals and isolationist libertarians, I don’t care if you’re offended by that, your foreign policy beliefs are an offense to everything this nation stands for.

Now, certainly an argument could be made that many of Eastwood’s movies (and I mean his work as a director) have a strain of patriotism.  The virtue of the common man as seen in Gran Torino, the somewhat dark take on the American Dream in Million Dollar Baby, the blatant patriotic high of Space Cowboys, the high and low points of war in Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, even his mildly sympathetic treatment of J. Edgar  showed Hoover, for all his faults, as being motivated by love of country.  But while I think Gran Torino is Eastwood’s masterpiece, it is a work that focuses more on the man than the nation…meanwhile The Outlaw Josey Wales is very much a film that looks at what makes America America.

Now, unlike some of the previous films, I feel this movie might be one of those some people may not have seen recently.  So a quick recap.  The movie begins with Josey Wales a Missouri farmer with a wife and young son being set upon by a Kansas guerrilla division known as the Red Legs.  The Union soldiers knock out Wales, kill his wife and son and burn his house to the ground.  When he recovers he takes out a gun and re-acquires the skill of using it in only a few hours and spends the rest of the Civil War attempting to get revenge.  His unit is the last to surrender at the end of the Civil War and are massacred by the Union, with only Wales making it out alive but chased by federal authorities.  As he tries to go South and West and stay out of the hands of bounty hunters, soldiers, Comancheros and the Comanche he acquires an odd family of an old Cherokee man, a Navajo woman, a Kansas woman heading west and her granddaughter.  Finally this small group settles in a ranch somewhere in the Arizona territory where Wales, just as he was about to head further southwest has a final battle with Union soldiers who killed his family.

Now so what makes this a patriotic film?

Well first off is it’s recognition of what makes America.  Near the end, after having avoided a battle with the Comanche, Wales’s group celebrates and revels in the new family they have put together.  By this point you have Northerners, Southerners, two different tribes of Indians, plus the most recent additions the local town folk which include an Irish prostitute, two Mexican gentlemen, and an Easterner.  It’s quite the American melting pot of people from all different origins and walks of life.  And Eastwood isn’t very subtle about making this melting pot imagery clear.

Now I said this movie is anti-war and to a degree it is.  It is not anti-war in the sense of all war is wrong and all violence must be avoided at all costs, as many liberals and libertarians (cough cowards cough) would have it, even if that cost is the liberty of others or themselves.  Wales is not afraid to fight to survive or to protect those he loves.  But the movie does not delude itself into portraying war as not having consequences (as Flags of our Fathers would do again many years later).  The fact that out of it come people who only know how to fight; the emotional scars and the all around suffering.   The last lines of the film between Wales and a man he thought had betrayed him recall the pain of war.

Fletcher: I think I’ll go down to Mexico to try to find [Wales] [at this point Fletcher is pretending to not recognize Wales]

Josey Wales: And then?

Fletcher: He’s got the first move. I owe him that. I think I’ll try to tell him the war is over. What do you say, Mr. Wilson?

Josey Wales: I reckon so. I guess we all died a little in that damn war.

And disgust at the horrors of war is actually one of the strengths of this nation.  The odd thing about America is that (1) we have the ideal of spreading liberty no matter the cost and (2) we have no stomach for war.  And that’s a good thing.  Probably more than any other nation we tire of war very quickly, even if we’re winning, even if we’re doing the right thing (for instance did you know that we never lost a battle in Vietnam?  Or that in some of the battles for every U.S. soldier we lost the VC lost 50+…logically it would be hard to portray a war like that as a loss or a hopeless cause, yet somehow we did it.)  Even in Eastwood’s Flags of our Fathers it’s pointed out that by Iwo Jima America had just tired of war (a whole 4 years in a battle against unquestionable evil) and just wanted it over.  (And the same is true historically of the Civil War).   For all the liberal BS that Americans love war and bloodshed, there is no historical proof of that.  Any war we get into we try and get out of it as quickly as possible.  It’s why American Imperialism (a silly term, when compared to the historical reality of European Imperialism) amounted to a few islands, most of which don’t want to leave the U.S.  And dare we forget that our biggest gain from our “imperialist” Spanish-American war was Cuba, which we immediately gave up so the Cubans could have self rule (that one worked out well).  And, I’ll admit, it’s a good thing we tire of war easily.  There are cultures that don’t tire of war quickly and just keep throwing wave after wave of people into suicidal assaults all for the glory of their county or their perverse ideal of God…can you imagine the bloodshed if it was mixed with an actual just cause from a country whose national anthem includes the line “and conquer we must when our cause it is just”…it’s a good thing we tire of war.  It allows us time to take stock of our losses, to let the world try and progress without us saving it every time, and hopefully, to learn from our mistakes (like next time we invade a country maybe we could have a plan on what to do after their military is defeated.

And finally the film is patriotic because it expresses what is best in both our foreign policy and our economic behavior, that we deal with everyone pretty much in the same way, we “hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.”  Or in the words of the film.

Ten Bears: These things you say we will have, we already have.

Josey Wales: That’s true. I ain’t promising you nothing extra. I’m just giving you life and you’re giving me life. And I’m saying that men can live together without butchering one another.

Ten Bears: It’s sad that governments are chiefed by the double tongues. There is iron in your words of death for all Comanche to see, and so there is iron in your words of life. No signed paper can hold the iron. It must come from men. The words of Ten Bears carries the same iron of life and death. It is good that warriors such as we meet in the struggle of life… or death. It shall be life.

Notice also the typical loathing of government in this conversation, and the mutual contracts of individuals placed as highest…the beauty of American Capitalism.

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