Category Archives: Patriotism

Hope, the American Way, and the “Man of Steel” Trailer


So there appears to be some brouhaha over the newest trailer for Man of Steel.  I have seen complaints about this on no less than 3 different political web sites, which seems a bit much for a trailer, but since they want to make a federal case over it, it should be pointed out that their case is baseless.   Namely the problem seems to be with the following lines:

Lois Lane: What’s the “S” stand for?

Superman: It’s not an “S.”  On my world it means “hope.”

Lois Lane: Here it’s an “S.”  How about Super…ManofSteelsymbol

Now the first complaint is that this is changing the story, where it has always stood for Superman.  This is a silly claim, especially for a comic book movie, which is based on comic books that have been restarted so many times with so many variations D.C. comics actually had to come up with a storyline about multiple universes just to keep all the versions straight (still didn’t help).   When you’re translating a story from one medium to another it’s pure insanity to think everything can remain the same.  Further, yes you might be justifiably angry at those changes…but only if those changes make the story worse.  The new Star Trek stripped all the good out of the original series and created a cheap sci-fi film that would never have gone anywhere without banking on the greatness of the original…so there bitching about the changes is justified.  Conversely, Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy took the Batman story from a more simplistic action/detective comic and created one of the deepest most meaningful films ever made.  Those changes made the story better, and so whining about purity of the original story is just bunk.  Rewriting stories is a part of literature dating back to when Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides rewrote the works of Homer for stage, nobody in their right mind claims they ruined the stories.  Now it may be that whatever changes Nolan and Snyder have made to the Superman myth in this film may make it better or worse, we’ll have to see, but change is not necessarily good or bad on its own.

The other reason this is silly (and keep in mind I’ve never read a Superman comic in my life, and even I could find this out easily) is that in terms of the meaning of the “S” they haven’t really changed anything.  In the original film starring Christopher Reeve, the symbol stood for the House of El, the Kryptonian family that Superman is a part of. But what about the “Hope” thing?  Apparently some on the Right are having knee-jerk reactions to the word and thinking that this is intended to be a reference to Obama.  It’s not.  This actually is taken directly from the 2004 comic Superman: Birthright written by Mark Waid (Obama had only come onto the national scene at the 2004 Democratic convention in July, the comic came out in September which means it was probably written well before July).  I will shortly come back to why using Waid’s work as a basis for this movie is a very, very good thing.

Finally there are of course the constant complaints still going on about the line from the last movie “Find out if he still stands for Truth, Justice, all that stuff” and how the writers shoved away the phrase “the American Way” and the worry that this will still continue in this film (this of course ignores that the line came from Perry White, the most cynical character in the Superman universe who probably would find the phrase silly).

ManofSteelAfter this trailer I especially find this fear also fairly unwarranted.

Why?

Well what is the American Way?

Contrary to what many believe, it has nothing to do with land, or resources, or economic success, or military prowess, or scientific achievement. America is America because of our ideals.  The ideals of liberty, of meritocracy, that anyone can achieve by their own will.  Or as I have stated before:

We’re the nation that fought to create a republic where the haves and have-nots gave equal measure.  We’re the nation that fought our own citizens to free slaves.  We’re the nation that pioneered capitalism and law that gave liberty and opportunity and progress to more people than any other country in history.  We’re the place where “tired, the poor, the huddled masses” come to be energetic, successful and stand on their own feet.  We’re the country that conquers whole nations so that others may be free then tries to rebuild them and then leaves without tribute or power.  If you don’t think we’re the “shining city on the hill” you don’t know history, philosophy or human nature.  We’re not perfect, we’re not always right, but we are consistently the nation that calls for the best in humanity to put down the worst.

The American way isn’t a habit, or a land, or a race, or even the citizens of this particular country, it is an ideal that believes the best in humanity can always rise above the worst in humanity, that the individual left to their own devices will rise to the pinnacle of achievement and not sink to the depth of depravity.

And just in this trailer alone, we see that way, that ideal.

We see it in Jor-El’s statement

What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society had intended?  What if a child aspired to something greater?

Are you going to tell me a line about how a single individual can rise above the shackles of whatever society throws on them, and achieve because of their own will and merit isn’t at the very heart of America?

Or perhaps Jonathan Kent’s:

I have to believe that you were sent here for a reason.  And even if it takes the rest of your life, you owe it to yourself to find out what that reason is.

The belief that life has a purpose.  It has been seen in philosophy since Aristotle, but it has never been realized until America.  And this quest to find meaning is a personal one, “you owe it to yourself,” not one laden down with obligations to family, or clan, or religion, or state, or culture, or history or whatever other un-American claptrap other nations have followed.

Or perhaps we should go to first trailer, with another line from Jor-El

You will give the people an ideal to strive towards.  They will race behind you.  They will stumble.  They will fall.  But in time they will join you in the sun—In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.

Shining city on the hill anyone?  The beacon of hope and light that America is supposed to be.

Oh I said “beacon of hope” which brings us back to the symbol and them taking that point from Mark Waid.  This is important that they are drawing form Waid’s version. Why?  I would direct you to an essay written by Waid in the book Superheroes and Philosophy entitled “The Real Truth About Superman and the Rest of Us, Too.” (It’s an excellent essay which you may want to read.)

The essay covers the thought process Waid went through when the head of D.C. asked him a simple question: “Why does Superman do what he does?  Why doesn’t absolute power absolutely corrupt in his case?”  He quickly found the stock answer of, because he’s Superman, to be unsatisfying to the employer who was hiring him to revitalize the franchise.

What follows is an argument that references two of my favorite philosophical beliefs.

The first is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Waid starts from the premise that even though an alien, he has the same needs in the same order as any human.  Physical needs then Safety needs then Emotional Needs then Maslow's Hierarchy of NeedsAchievement needs then finally the need for Self Actualization.  (You’ll find that the American beliefs in liberty and capitalism parallel this order of needs quite well).  Now for Superman, the first two, physical and safety need, aren’t an issue at all.  So that leaves emotional, achievement and self actualization needs.  Now he might gain some emotional connections by just being mild mannered Clark Kent, but certainly not achievement or self actualization.  Which then comes to a question of how much does he need to achieve…and this is where Waid turns to another idea, a quote in fact (which I’m hoping against hope will make it into the movie):

“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 is 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 are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” [Italics on the last part added]

 

It is the realization that Superman is who he is because to do anything less would not lead to his Happiness, and that a central theme of the story has always been that we should all strive to the edge our abilities, as Kal-El does, not just to help others achieve their goals (You will help them accomplish wonders) but to also achieve our own Happiness (you owe it to yourself).

So this is why I’m happy they are pulling from Waid, with the concept of Superman being a symbol of hope, the city on the Hill, because it places the whole story in a very strong and correct footing of spiritual values and Aristotelian virtue based ethics.

Now while Waid, or Marianne Williamson who first wrote this in her book A Return to Love: Reflections on A Course in Miracles, don’t make the connection, it is only through the American Way of personal liberty and personal achievement that we achieve the heights of shining our brightest.  So I feel the need to again point out, that the American Way is being championed in this movie already, whether they say the words or not.

Now, no one has seen this film yet, so it could either suck or make the Dark Knight Rises look like an F film student’s half-hearted attempt…or anything in between. I am merely pointing out that the complaints based only on this trailer are completely unfounded.  This movie appears to appeal to the best in this story, the core ideals that have let it rise above whatever flaws have plagued the various incarnations over the years.

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Filed under American Exceptionalism, Aristotle, Art, character, Faith, Individualism, Marianne Williamson, Movies, Movies for Conservatives, New Age Movies, Patriotism, philosophy, Popular Culture, virtue

A sincere and honest question…Judeo-Christian Values? What are they?

The term “Judeo-Christian Values” is bandied about a lot in public discourse.   Yes it dropped off a little after Rick “I want to use the government to institute a theocracy” Santorum dropped out* last year but it seems to be making a comeback.

So I have to ask, again, what are Judeo-Christian values?  How are they important to politics?  And how do they differ from other religions?

Now maybe it’s just as a non-Christian I’m not getting something that you understand as someone who practices this religion.

Now it’s not that I don’t understand the obvious differences between Christianity or Judaism and other religions.  But I don’t see how the differences I do know about have any effect on government. The truth and virtue of capitalism and democratic-Republics are just as true whether you believe in the Trinity/Yaweh, or Braham and Shiva.  The saving power of grace in most of Christianity has little to do with politics, as far as I can see it.  And just because one tribe of people has a very particular contract with God, it doesn’t negate the importance of the rule of law for everyone else.   The differences I can think of don’t have any effect on politics.  And I see the hand of Providence in the creation of this nation, but the hand of Providence can be seen in event that aren’t specifically Judeo-Christian in nature, so that doesn’t necessarily give precedence to only that belief system.  What am I missing?

And the values that do have an effect on politics—the value of the human soul, which leads to the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness; the condemnation of violence, hatred, envy, hypocrisy; the praising of personal charity, honesty, compassion, hard work and a connection with something greater than yourself—are not the specific territory of Judeo-Christianity.  You find them Hinduism, in Zoroasterism, in Taoism, in Buddhism, in ancient Pagan beliefs, in Baha’i and Sikh beliefs, and in modern day New Age beliefs.  The values, which then become the backbone of our legal systems are in all religions. So why just Judeo-Christianity?  I understand that each of these belief systems place a different ordering on the priority of these virtues and values, but there are so many variations just within the scheme of Judeo-Christianity itself to make that an issue.
Heck even when Paul Ryan refers to Judeo-Christianity he does something very interesting:

A lot of the basis for this government is in this picture...not a lot of these people are from the Judeo-Christian background.

A lot of the basis for this government is in this picture…not a lot of these people are from the Judeo-Christian background.

It’s a dangerous path, it’s a path that grows government, restricts freedom and liberty, and compromises those values, those Judeo-Christian, Western-civilization values that made us such a great and exceptional nation in the first place.

He pairs Judeo-Christianity with Western-civilization, with the idea that is unique to the west of the democratic-Republic (a pagan creation by the pagan populations of Athens and Rome) that demands:

Our rights come from nature and God, not government.

(And while these ideas first thrived under predominantly Christian nations of the West, Ryan seems to be acknowledging the pagan Athenian/Roman importance by pairing the two.)

“The Bible is a book. It’s a good book, but it is not the only book. ” …at least in terms of government.

And it seems a little sweeping since while all the Founding Fathers would admit that the Bible contained what they saw as the best expression of ethics they could find, Adams, Jefferson and Franklin denied the divinity of Christ, and Freemason Washington’s beliefs on religion are probably a little more complex than just saying “Judeo-Christian values.”

Now I get that using this phrase may be to separate themselves it’s not the Religion of Peace (which very clearly endorses theocratic fascism) or atheism (both of which deny the divinity of human life)…oh sure atheists say they value human life under their philosophy of secular humanism, but atheism denies any metaphysical reason for human life to have value…so basically it’s them telling me I should just take it on “faith” that human life has value…which rings a little hollow.   But as I pointed out before the phrase also separates you from a lot of religions that do share these ethical values.

So which values am I missing that has an effect on our political structures, rules, and laws that separate Judeo-Christianity from the values of most the other religions on Earth?  I’m not denying the importance of the relationship  a person has with God, or that spiritual beliefs were important in the founding of this nation and is continuance today.  I just want to know if there is a value you think exists in the Judeo-Christian tradition that is necessary for the continuance of this nation that is specific only to the the Judeo-Christian tradition.

And I ask all of this, not because I just want to insult people, but because I have a second argument about this term and how it may be hurting us politically, but I first need to know if there is something about this term that I don’t understand coming from an outsider’s perspective.

*And don’t you dare to try and defend that man as a conservative.  If you look at his record he never met a tax, a regulation, or bribe he didn’t like.

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Filed under Aristotle, Capitalism, Conservative, Faith, God, Natural Rights, Patriotism, Paul Ryan, philosophy, politics, Religion, Spirituality

The Call For Common Sense Gun Laws & Other Such Silliness

In amongst all of this brouhaha, there are some claims that we can all agree on “common sense gun control.”  And this sounds reasonable.  More strenuous background checks, preventing the mentally ill from getting guns, and the like.  Of course all of these measures must be implemented by the government.  You know the same government that gave the very guns it’s now claiming should be banned to Mexican Drug Cartels.  I’m sorry but I would give a schizophrenic a gun before I give a gun to drug cartels (with the schizophrenic you might have a 50/50 chance they won’t do anything, with the cartels you have a 100% chance that mass murder will occur).

But I do believe in common sense gun control.

406015_10200475871483856_1186033546_nI believe in common sense gun control…but common sense gun control can only be instituted by a government that has common sense that means common sense spending, which means you do not spend more than you have. You do not believe that you can spend your way out of debt or into prosperity.  Common sense requires that you ignore everything idiots like Krugman, Bernake, Geithner, Lew, and Keynes have ever said because common sense tells you their ideas are harmful and idiotic.  Obviously I can’t trust the government to institute common sense spending.

Common sense gun control can only be instituted by a government that has common sense that means common sense taxation.  It means you recognize that raising taxes on the rich will not solve anything, that if you raised taxes on the rich to 100% it wouldn’t begin to make even a dent in our year to year budget (let alone the complete national debt).  Common sense taxation would show that the entire code is far far too complicated.  Common sense taxation requires that you recognize that taxes only hurt the economy and never help, that they must all be cut and cut drastically if we are to get out of our problems.  Obviously I can’t trust the government to institute common sense taxation.

Common sense gun control can only be instituted by a government that has common sense that means common sense regulation, which means understanding that regulations only harm, and that a government that has the best interest of the people and the economy in mind will only have the bare minimum amount of regulation.  Obviously I can’t trust the government to institute common sense regulation.

Common sense gun control can only be instituted by a government that has common sense that means common sense foreign policy which means understanding that isolation is both foolish and immoral…and that the only thing more foolish would be to engage in getting rid of the bad guys without a plan (Bush) or being the ally of the very nations which are out to kill us (Obama).  Thus using common sense you would never allow lunatics like Hagel, Kerry, Brennan near our foreign policy infrastructure. Obviously I can’t trust the government to institute common sense foreign policy.

Common sense gun control can only be instituted by a government that has common sense that means common sense legislation.  Common sense legislature would not include bills longer than Russian novels or being told that you have to pass something to know what’s in it.  Obviously I can’t trust the government to institute common sense legislation.

Reagan Guns

If only his whiny and worthless excuse for a conservative press secretary could have had as much character.

Common sense gun control can only be instituted by a government that has common sense that means common sense immigration.  That would include things like real border security, real reform that allows workers to come in as guests, professionals to come in with an easy way to Visas and citizenship, stopping anchor babies and allowing immigrants to take handout from entitlements.   Lots of things. It would not include amnesty and Dream Acts via illegal executive order.  Obviously I can’t trust the government to institute common sense immigration.

Common sense gun control can only be instituted by a government that has common sense that means common sense  welfare.  That would mean work and education requirements.  Time limits.  Working to roll back the rolls not expand.  Working to make more people get off welfare not get on.  You can’t praise the life of the utterly indefensible Julia and you can’t roll back work requirements.  Obviously I can’t trust the government to institute common sense welfare.

Until then there is no such thing as common sense gun control because even the most reasonable proposals will be carried out by over paid, over educated, life long bureaucratic idiots and will always be carried out to a very non-common sense, illogical and harmful extreme.

Common sense gun laws wouldn’t depend on gun free zone which we all know don’t work.

It wouldn’t be championed by people from the most violent cities with the strictest gun laws that show beyond a doubt that gun laws don’t work.  (Oh and before you begin with that, but they get their guns in places without those gun laws arguments…one needs to ask why isn’t the crime just as high in those places with the lax laws?  Oh maybe because in those places criminals know people will shoot back).

Common sense gun laws may sound like “we’re not going to take away your gun if you’re a law-abiding citizen.”  But let’s be honest here, is anyone a law abiding citizen anymore?  With all the federal, state, local laws, regulations, statutes and judgements are you sure you haven’t broken any of them?  Can a human being even be expected to know all of them?  But that might be the point.

But really that might be the point….Anyone remember this scene?

“Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against – then you’ll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now, that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

Common sense gun control would be to enforce the laws you have, not have prosecutions go down 45% from the previous administration. 

And common sense has nothing to do with 23 executive orders that create commission and spend more money but do actually nothing.

Or let’s try this bit of common sense.  Countries like the UK and Australia that don’t allow hand guns have higher violent crime than the US (much much higher).  States and cities with stricter gun laws have more violent crime than those that don’t. There has never been a mass shooting at an NRA meeting or a gun show…there are lots of shooting in gun free zones.  Common sense and statistics tells us that John Lott was right, “More guns, less crime.”  But that would just be common sense.


So don’t talk to me about common sense gun laws until you have a government that can enforce common sense gun laws.  Until then I, and you, are safest when we are armed and able to defend ourselves.

But maybe we should just listen to the inherent argument for gun control and why it isn’t needed for to protect us from the government.

(1) Our government would never ignore the rights enumerated in the Constitution so we don’t have to worry about needing guns to defend ourselves against the government

(2) Therefore we don’t need guns.

(3) Since we don’t need guns the government should confiscate them, to hell if it’s a right enumerated in the Constitution, ignore it.

(4) What do you mean you see a contradiction between points 1 and 3? I can’t hear you LALALALALALALALALA!

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Filed under Civil Liberties, Conservative, Evils of Liberalism, GOP, Government is corrupt, Government is useless, Long Term Thinking, Natural Rights, Obama, Patriotism, politics, Tyranny

Movies for Conservatives: Les Miserables

Les Miserables Posters

“Do you hear the people sing? Singing the song of angry men.  It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again.”

Les Mis a movie for conservatives?

Yeah.

But let’s first talk about the qualities of the movie apart from political or philosophical points.

The High Points

This is the play in all its glory.  And the play is a truncated version of one of the most moving books ever written.  All the passion, all the empathy there.  You will cry for Fantine.  For Eponine.  For Gavrouche.  For the revolutionary Friends of the ABC.  For Javert. And of course for Valjean.  Bring tissues this is movie that you will cry at, a lot.

And this movie has a few truly wonderful scenes that supply motivation that was missing in the play.  For instance it has Javert arrive on the same day that Fantine is dismissed from her job, which gives a reason for Valjean not taking a more serious interest in her case.

The movie also supplies little moments from the book that were never in the play, like Grantaire standing by Enjolras at the moment of execution.

I think director Tom Hooper created something truly genius with the live singing way this movie was made…however it appears in the early scenes that there was certainly a learning curve involved in using this technique (I wish this wasn’t the first movie to do it so Hooper could have had something to reference).  But for any inconsistency it brings up at some moments, it adds deeply to the rest of the film and emotional impact of the songs.

Les Mis HathawayAnne Hathaway deserves an Oscar.

And Russell Crowe’s singing was a pleasant surprise.  He added more humanity to Javert than any actor I have previously seen.

The Low Points.

I feel there was a lot that got left on the editing room floor. At 2 hours and 37 minutes this was pushing it for most movies nowadays and I’m pretty sure if all the little things that were taken out were put back in it would be well over 3 hours.  And since Hollywood has no intention of returning to the idea of an intermission (to me this makes no sense as most of the money comes from concessions and if there is a break at an hour and a half we would be more willing to buy soda since we wouldn’t have to worry about running out to the rest room and we would buy food at the halfway mark as we would be hungrier by that point…but at least it seems that way, real data I’m not privy to might show otherwise) they were probably forced to make some heavy cuts to the movie.  This creates some odd pacing issues, where certain parts feel a little rushed.

Also, and it may be a personal issue that others may not have a problem with, I was not overly impressed by Jackman’s singing. It wasn’t bad, but I’m used to a deeper more sonorous voice for Valjean.

On the technical points, the movie is one of the best of the year, the acting and visual work was spectacular. The editing needs work (or at least a director’s cut DVD…please.) and the directing while exceptional still could have been just a little better (I think the high cost of production may have prevented doing reshoots that other films might have done)…Hooper gets an A not A+.

The Political/Philosophical Points

Did you know this was Ayn Rand’s favorite book?  It was.  Kind of puts any thoughts that Les Mis is liberal out of the “obviously” category doesn’t it.

Okay let’s look at some of the points. On their own merits.

“I am the master of hundreds of workers, they all look to me.  Can I abandon them, how will they live if I am not free. I speak I am condemned, if I stay silent, I am damned.”

Jean Valjean is a convict, yes. But while that’s all that Javert sees, we’re supposed to see more.  We’re supposed to see the successful businessman who not only created a whole industry in a town, bringing it out of poverty and into an economic renaissance, but who also out of Christian charity (not guilt, it should be noted that if you read the book Valjean is motivated by a desire to be a better person, not by guilt about his prior actions) creates hospitals and schools for the poor.  In a day and age when lesser writers like Dickens would just recycle the terrible image of the robber baron, Hugo gave us a noble businessman as an example of what others should be. It should also be noted that in a very Atlas Shrugged kind of way, Hugo has no illusions that once Valjean is forced to run the industry and the town is not able to survive in its thriving state without Valjean’s leadership. The book to a great degree, with touches still in the movie, shows that prosperity is driven by captains of industry.

“Take my hand I’ll lead you to salvation.  Take my love, for love is everlasting.  And remember the truth that once was spoken: to love another person is to see the face of God.”

Further it should be noted what a deeply religious story this story is.  It is God and the Bishop of Digne, not government that redeems Valjean.  God and faith permeate all levels of this story.  Faith ironically is what drives both Valjean and Javert.  And it never condemns any form of faith, showing that all those fallen (except sadly Javert, whom I’m sure Hugo would have placed there) together in heaven.

The novel, the play, and now the movie praise faith.  It’s a rarity these days in serious well produced films.  And given the desperate need for spirituality in our modern world, something like this must be embraced.

“Let us die facing our foe […] Let others rise to take our place until the Earth is FREE!”

And dare we forget that much of the second half of the story is taken up by an uprising by Republican revolutionaries, seeking a return to law and not the capricious whims of a king.

“But, but, but” some liberals will complain.  The book is about helping the poor, and how unjust the criminal justice system is.  Those are liberal issues. And what they fail to realize is that these are different times and different issues.  The poor in 19th century France were starving (a problem with accuracy is that even the slums of France look too pretty in this movie…honestly we wouldn’t have felt comfortable actually watching what the “The Miserable” of 19th century France looked like…it wasn’t quite Nazi Concentration Camp, but certainly not as pretty as this film depicts it), the poor in 21st century America are suffering an obesity epidemic.  Hugo critiqued those who were lazy and those who felt entitled.  Poverty of the kind Hugo witnessed in France was what he wanted us to feel empathy for, modern poverty would not likely bring as much empathy from Victor.  And he would be horrified by the lack of the churches and religion in the government welfare that modern liberals champion.  And don’t even get me started on the fact that you can’t compare the legal system that punished Valjean for 20 years and hounded him for life for stealing a loaf of bread to our modern system…yes we have problems, but we have the kind of problems Hugo would have only dreamed of.

“Then join in the fight that will give you the right to be free.”

Of course for me one of the most revealing passages in Les Miserable is when Hugo takes a moment to critique communism.

(It should be noted the terms Socialism and Communism at the time do not have the same meaning now…what he calls Communism would be more in line with modern European Socialism…the term Capitalism was first used in 1854, 8 years before Hugo published Les Miserables—it took him nearly 20 years to write—and its usage as a economic system did not begin until Marx used it in 1867, 5 years after Les Miserables was published.  So he could never expect to hear him use the term capitalism even thought that seems to be what he’s calling for.   He certainly did not have the term cronyism which describes the economics of 19th century France better than anything.  So pay attention to the systems and practices he is referring to, not the titles, as he had no access to the title we currently use.)

“The reader will not be surprised if, for various reasons, we do not here treat in a thorough manner, from the theoretical point of view, the questions raised by socialism. We confine ourselves to indicating them.

All the problems that the socialists proposed to themselves, cosmogonic visions, reverie and mysticism being cast aside, can be reduced to two principal problems.

First problem: To produce wealth.

Second problem: To share it.

The first problem contains the question of work.

The second contains the question of salary.

In the first problem the employment of forces is in question.

In the second, the distribution of enjoyment.

From the proper employment of forces results public power.

From a good distribution of enjoyments results individual happiness.

By a good distribution, not an equal but an equitable distribution must be understood.  The highest equality is equity.

From these two things combined, the public power without, individual happiness within, results social prosperity.

Social prosperity means the manhappy, the citizen free, the nation great.

England solves the first of these two problems. She creates wealth admirably, she divides it badly. This solution which is complete on one side only leads her fatally to two extremes: monstrous opulence, monstrous wretchedness. All enjoyments for some, all privations for the rest, that is to say, for the people; privilege, exception, monopoly, feudalism, born from toil itself. A false and dangerous situation, which sates public power or private misery, which sets the roots of the State in the sufferings of the individual. A badly constituted grandeur in which are combined all the material elements and into which no moral element enters.

Communism and agrarian law think that they solve the second problem. They are mistaken. Their division kills production. Equal partition abolishes emulation; and consequently labor.

It is a partition made by the butcher, which kills that which it divides.

It is therefore impossible to pause over these pretended solutions. Slaying wealth is not the same thing as dividing it.

The two problems require to be solved together, to be well solved. The two problems must be combined and made but one.

[…]

Solve the two problems, encourage the wealthy, and protect the poor, suppress misery, put an end to the unjust farming out of the feeble by the strong, put a bridle on the iniquitous jealousy of the man who is making his way against the man who has reached the goal, adjust, mathematically and fraternally, salary to labor, mingle gratuitous and compulsory education with the growth of childhood, and make of science the base of manliness, develop minds while keeping arms busy, be at one and the same time a powerful people and a family of happy men, render property democratic, not by abolishing it, but by making it universal, so that every citizen, without exception, may be a proprietor, an easier matter than is generally supposed; in two words, learn how to produce wealth and how to distribute it, and you will have at once moral and material greatness; and you will be worthy to call yourself France.”

[Emphasis added]

You will notice he is proposing such things as universal education, due process of law, and property rights.  He condemns any attempt for everyone to have their fair and equal share and envying the wealthy.  He proposes that people be paid just wages for their work (which was an issue then, not so much now). He proposes to make every man his own master, that everyone may earn wealth.  I can’t speak with certainty what political path Hugo would take in the modern world, but I can be fairly certain that if a modern day liberal went back to see him, Hugo would try to slap the stupid out of the Occupy trash.  I can also be mildly sure that Hugo might encourage the building of a few barricades against some of the government overreaches of the modern world.

All in all, the story is one of the value of liberty, of the individual, of redemption through works and of God.  Those are conservative themes if I ever heard them.

“Do you hear the people sing, lost in the valley of the night

It is the music of a people who are climbing to the light.

For the wretched of the Earth there is a flame that never dies,

Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.

We will live again in Freedom in the garden of the Lord.

We will walk behind the plowshares.  We will put away the sword.

The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward.

Will you join in our crusade?  Who will be strong and stand with me?

Somewhere beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see?

Do you hear the people sing, say do you hear the distant drums?

It is the future that we bring when tomorrow comes!”

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Reflections on the Election: Why I was wrong, Why Obama Won, and what the GOP needs to do. Part III

It’s been a month since the election…and as you can tell from the limited number of posts, I’m still kind of depressed Obama won, America Lostabout this (and overworked at work, but that’s another story).  I’m still shell-shocked that people could be that stupid—even I, who believe the masses are idiots, can’t fully comprehend that people are so fucking stupid as to vote in a tyrant not once but twice.  It baffles the mind.  If you care about only what you can get you should have voted for the guy who would guarantee a higher chance at raises and better jobs: Romney.  If you cared about other people you should have cared about the guy who would have done the most to improve the middle class: Mitt.  If you care about character it would be the guy who personally does charity whenever he can: Willard Mitt Romney. Intelligence, that would be the guy who got his J.D. and MBA in the same 4 years: The Governor.  Experience, class, vision, leadership, surrounding himself with qualified people.  On every criteria you can come up with it’s a no brainer, but, but, but…

People are really fucking short sighted, envious and dumb.

But are we just powerless to do anything? Are we at the mercy of party leadership to pull us out of this tailspin the country has voted itself in (dear god that’s a depressing thought)?  Luckily no.  Unfortunately I’m not promising anything easy either.

So what can we as individuals do?

Well first I would like to turn back to the exit polls.  Now looking at ethnicity or gender or even age is pointless because there is nothing we can do to change that.   People are what they are.  (Yes, age changes, but it’s not like we have any actual control over it).

2012 exit polls education

Now education can change (complete shocker that Obama the no intelligence/no high school bracket and the no real world experience/postgraduate bracket) but unless you’re a parent most of us can’t really affect people’s education.  If you are a parent, I might suggest that you state you’re not paying for any kind of college education unless they get a degree in the Math/Science area and thus have marketable skills (if they want to get a dual major and have a liberal art as well, well you can negotiate) but parents do not pay for Sociology degrees they are worthless and breed dumb liberals.

2012 exit polls single

Next we turn to gender and marriage status.  A lot of to do was made about women in this election, but as you see it wasn’t really women so much as single women.  And I have seen conservative writers talk about how the single women pose a threat to liberty as they seem to look to the government for the security nets…but it if you look at the data single men are also pretty dumb. The conclusion I’m drawing here isn’t that women are liberal, it’s that single people on the whole are liberal and need to be stopped.  (Yes, I as a bachelor, may not want to throw stones in a glass house, but I’m not as dumb as my fellow singles who voted for Barry…but if you are or know any single, intelligent, conservative, spiritually open women in the Phoenix area…well…my email address is posted…).  Now does this mean we should all go out and get married without standards or relationships, that marriage is an end unto itself. No.  One of the reasons we have a high divorce rate is that people don’t take the time to plan and make sure they’re making a right choice.  So really unless you want to start playing matchmaker which some of us are more qualified than others (this would certainly not be a skill of mine).

2012 exit polls religion

And then we see that Obama did well with the non-religious crowd* and Romney did well with the religious crowd.  Let me put these last two points in context. It doesn’t have as much to do with faith or companionship.  For a lot of people it is an issue of safety.  If you have a spouse, if you have an active church community you have someone you know you can fall back on if things go bad, if you don’t have these things, then the psychology of most people is to seek something you can fall back on: the government.  Now I would rather people evolve and see themselves as their fallback (or at least maybe God) but if we’re going to get there we first have to have an economic system that allows people to take care of themselves (i.e. we need to get rid of liberals and progressives at every level).

So what does this have to do with religion?  Well it means that if you’re a member of a church you need to encourage, push for, and if necessary demand, that your church be more active in the community—charity, public works and improvement projects, fundraisers not for the church but those honestly in need. This should have nothing to do with demonization or dogma.  Only about helping the community and strengthening the bonds of community.

If you’re not in a church, say a New Ager, it couldn’t hurt to find a non-pushy church out there and see if they would like help with those charity projects.

If you’re in a church that does do these kinds of charity projects then see if you can invite people you know to help, don’t proselytize, don’t make it about belief, only about helping others.  (Also may I suggest making your charity functions known to the local middle and high schools—students, especially college bound students, are more and more looking for community service on their resumes—and let them know their parents are invited as well).

This has nothing to do with dogma, it has to with a core tenet in every religion I can think of, charity, community, compassion.

Show people that government isn’t the only source that they can fall back on.  Look at it this way, the way people talk about others often shows how they themselves think.  I call it the “I am the world” fallacy, and I’m guilty of it myself sometimes, we all are.  We tend to make assumptions about the way people act based on our own habits and thoughts.  Conservatives naturally tend to think that the government isn’t needed because we ourselves are more generous and just assume everybody does the right thing.  Liberals assume others are avaricious, cruel, irrationally selfish, and miserly not because they’re saints and know everyone else is stingy, but because they themselves are not compassionate at their heart—they fear they will have no one to fall back on because in their heart of heart they know they won’t help other either.  (Liberals give to charity less than conservatives and they volunteer a hell of a lot less than conservatives, see Who Really Cares by Arthur C. Brooks).

But if we get people who might not usually attend church to come to charity events we can show them that people do care for people and that we don’t need government to care for us…and maybe we can even show them there is personal joy in compassion and charity.  Trust me, a person who does charity out of the joy it brings them never votes liberal, liberals give out of guilt not joy.

So get your church (or any other group that has the resources) involved in the community (if you’re not doing at least 3 events a month, it’s not enough), invite people to come just for the charity aspect, and watch their belief that the government is the only one looking out for them disappear (also with more human contact and larger social circles we might fix that single problem listed above).

Also this process will help destroy that one thing that Obama did well in “He cares about people like me.”

2012 exit polls key points

Charity and a strong community teach us that we are capable of caring for people who aren’t like ourselves.

But that can’t be all we have to do.  Liberals have done a great job with controlling the media.  News, movies, TV shows, you name it there are liberal messages.  But we cannot give in on this.

So there are a few things we can do.  The first is that we can try to pull their funding.  Here at the Conservative New Ager we’re going after that Goebbels style propaganda wing MSNBC.  We encourage people to write to their advertisers and pull their ads.  It works.  If a company just gets a hundred letters asking them to make sure the shows they are advertising on are only reporting the truth, they will either pull the ads or they will use the power their money buys them to get results.  We have already heard from P&G and UPS.

The next thing is that we need to expose people to the truth.  I would recommend everyone use all the social media they have to expose their friends to the truth.  Now you don’t have to repost a thousand articles every day, but don’t be afraid to share something for fear of losing a friend.  For everyone you lose you’ll likely help push a two or three that much closer to the truth.  (And if you’re like me you don’t have many liberal friends left anyway, it’s the middle we’re trying to win, not the ones beyond hope).

Also if you get a real newspaper (there aren’t many left: The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times…if it uses AP articles don’t bother) take it to work and leave it in the break room every day.  It can only help expose people to the truth.

But on that note we need to share the media that is conservative we need to focus on the stuff that isn’t the news and isn’t explicitly political.  Liberals have tried to infect every book, every movie, every show with liberal messages and just habituate people into thinking in liberal terms.  The problem is that most good literature is more conservative in its themes.  Self sufficiency, rational thought, ethical behavior, connection to God.  These subtle themes are in literature everywhere, even when it’s written by artists who are liberal themselves.  George Orwell was a socialist, but 1984 and Animal Farm are scathing critiques of the very state Orwell would likely have supported.   Given time, the truth will out, as a conservative writer once put it. What conservatives make the mistake of doing is trying to give people Atlas Shrugged and Ann Coulter and Thomas Sowell.  It doesn’t matter that we enjoy those, those books only preach to the choir.  If someone isn’t open to those ideas, if they’ve been indoctrinated to think conservatives are evil, Rand was psychotic, Coulter is vicious and Sowell is an Uncle Tom, it doesn’t matter if the facts are there, their emotional reaction to those works will prevent them from seeing the facts.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t share books and TV shows with friends, family, acquaintances. I’m sure we know lots of people who are not conservative but if they were introduced to those ideas the logic and reason of it would come out.  That is why I am putting together a list of books, movies and TV shows that depict the conservative themes and that we agree with, without being explicitly conservative.   The Individual, reason, ethical behavior, long term thinking, the truth.  These are things that bring people close to conservatism.  I would take a look at this list (and keep coming back as I hope to keep adding to it).  Lend these works out to people who you think might be open to them.  Give them as gifts for any holiday and any excuse you can.  And then discuss them with the person after they’ve read or watched it (never give out something you’re not familiar with already!  You don’t want to get caught where they make some silly liberal interpretation and don’t have a comeback for it).  It seems silly but ideas have power, and once they’re in a person’s mind they spread not just to affecting the other ideas of that mind but in the way they behave to others and the way they influence the ideas of others.  And if they get more conservative in their thoughts introduce them to the more explicitly conservative works…but don’t start with those, they’ll just shut people down.

Finally it’s the old stand-bys.  Write a blog or letters to editors.  Donate to organizations that promote your beliefs (right now I would focus on Heritage and Freedomwork because they do not seem overly obsessed with the social issues which are dragging this party down and giving the left too many easy targets), volunteer for campaigns, get involved.  We have four years where we can do next to nothing to save the economy or well being of our allies across the sea.  Nothing.  We have this idiot tyrant in charge and he will wreck the place as much as he can through a combination of stupidity and malice.  Focusing too much on that will be somewhat fruitless for us as individuals—but as individuals we do have the power to influence those around us and help bring them to our side.

*Also Obama did exceedingly well with people who aren’t not affiliated with any religion but are spiritual  you know, the kind of people the Republicans and Reincarnation was written specifically for.  If you know some of these people, could it hurt to give them a copy?

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Reflections on the Election: Why I was wrong, Why Obama Won, and what the GOP needs to do. Part I

Okay so I needed to reflect on the election for some time before I wrote anything meaningful on this.  Quick statements just to fill air time have over the past couple of weeks mainly been ignorant, self-serving or just stupid.

Why I was wrong

I was wrong because I made the incorrect assumption to trust that polls like Rasmussen would continue to be the most accurate.
I was wrong because I made the incorrect assumption to trust equally respected polls that showed huge Republican enthusiasm which would usually mean that the Rasmussen polls were off in favor of Republicans.

I was wrong because I simply assumed PPP polls would continue to hack partisan polls that were never all that close.

I was wrong because I assumed Democratic cheating wouldn’t be as effective as it was.
I was wrong because I, even I who have a very low opinion of people, couldn’t possibly conceive of people being so fucking dumb that they would reelect this idiotic wanna-be-despot.  I really couldn’t believe America could be that dumb.

Why We Lost

First off, between counties that had over 100% turnout, military ballots being sent out at wrong times and then going missing, programmers saying every electronic machine was rigged, and buses of immigrants showing up to vote out of the blue, the fact is that there appears to be a heavy amount of cheating going on by the Democratic party.  I’d say I’m shocked but I’m not.  This is what democrats do.  Now is every accusation of cheating real, doubt it, and fewer still are provable, but you’re living in la-la land if you think elections have been on the up and up when it comes to Democratic votes…it’s how they’ve won elections ever since Joe Kennedy bought the election back in 1960.

But I was expecting cheating and fraud…which means either the Democrats have gotten even better at it, or, as I’m more afraid is the truth, people were kind of dumb on November 6th.  The fact that cheating was enough to sway the election means that we have problems because this shouldn’t have even been close, this should have been a landslide against Obama and yet it wasn’t.  So that can’t be the only problem.  What else went wrong?

We can also blame the media.  Almost every reporter on the Romney trail and most of the major outlets were trying to find gaffes and slip ups.  They were actively trying to portray him in the worst possible light.  And they were conveniently ignoring everything about Obama and his record, including, low and behold that Obama let 4 Americans die through his depraved indifference because he thought going in might be bad for his reelection.  But we can’t lay full blame on the media, because as annoying and biased as they are, there’s Drudge, there’s FOXNews, there’s Breitbart and the Blaze and Twitter and NewsBusted and the Washington Times and the Heritage Foundation and a 101 other sources.  The information was there if people just listened.

Well apparently the ground game was abysmal from the GOP and great from Obama’s side.  Now part of this is that Obama used his obscene huge data mine to play his usual game of divisive politics (more on this later) Part of the problem is also that Romney’s system  which was supposed to help make sure all GOP voters got to the polls, ORCA, failed on election day—hmmm, an online system to help conservatives failed…I’m going to offer 50/50 odds that the terrorists known as Anonymous might have had something to with this.  But whether they did or not, I have to ask where was the ground game for the GOP House, for the GOP Senate, from local state parties?  As usual the entire party disappoints me.  We had a terrible ground game and did not do enough to get people to the polls.

Now many idiots (Santorum, Gingrich, Levin, etc) want to blame Romney.  This is beyond wrong because Romney didn’t do anything wrong.  As Ann Coulter points out Romney wasn’t the problem.  Romney was a conservative’s conservative.  Now I think Romney was not as much of a fighter as he could have been…but I don’t think that would have made a difference because every time he tried to hit the worthless jackass hard the media spun it as Romney was a terrible person…so is it Romney wasn’t a fighter or is it that Romney just knew to avoid a fight he couldn’t win?

But even with all of that why did we lose?  Well because Romney was right.  There is a portion of this country that thinks they’re entitled to shit and Obama targeted specific groups and pandering to them by giving them gifts.

Oh before you dare complain about that statement, let’s look at a few facts.

According to the exit polls here are the groups Obama did really well with (I’m defining really as over 10%) Women, those under 30, non-white voters, those with a high school diploma or less (he was +29 with those with no diploma), the LGBT crowd, those people who never get out of academia known as the post graduate crowd, those making under 50K, people who do not go to church very often.

Hmmm let’s look at those groups again.

Women…pandered to with the fake war on women and Fluke’s endlessly whining.

Under 30…pandered to with promises of more college money (by the way you do know he’s cutting Pell grants right?)

Those without education and making less than 50K pandered to food stamps and welfare and a whole lot of other entitlements.  As Dennis Miller points out you can make close to 45K just by living off the dole these days.

And those with Post Graduate degrees (already being fairly clueless of how the real world works) he pandered to with promises of more teaching jobs.

The LGBT crowd with promises of gay marriage (then turned around and said it wouldn’t be a priority for him).

And the largest group with the non Caucasian crowd, Latinos, he gave that Dream Act amnesty with the implication more was on the way.

Of course the difference between Obama and Santa is that, worst case, Santa will give you a piece of coal, whereas Barry is not only not going to give anyone what they promised, but he’s going to outlaw coal as well.

Yes how terrible of Romney to point out that that Obama’s giving out things and making promises to specific groups was giving out things and making promises to specific groups.  How dare he pay attention to the man behind the curtain and not just fall in line with the typical intentional ignorance of what is going on?

Obama divided people into groups, played on the most base impulses and fears of any individual and treated them as he sees them, only as groups.  And this worked for him because education, media and the government have treated people only as groups for years.  And we lost because of that.
Now the knee jerk reaction might be to start playing their game of identify politics, as some have suggested.  But this is a losing strategy.  The only way to win identify politics, to say that this group values things that other group don’t, is Obama’s way to give out gifts.  We are conservatives, we believe in ideas, in values and in individuals, and to treat people as only members of groups is to betray our values and forget everything that makes America, America.  Now there are things we need to do, and I’m going to go into more detail on that soon, but we must realize we lost because for years they have been playing this game of divisiveness and hatred and that we haven’t confronted it head on is the reason we lost.

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Obama did say, “You didn’t build that” and worse…Part III

 

“They might be giants, and we might be pygmies; but we stand on the shoulders of giants, so we can see farther.” Attributed to Sir Isaac Newton

So just to recap, Obama did actually say that government is responsible for all of your success and this is perhaps the dumbest idea in history.

Liberals will try and deflect from this by pointing out that Romney said the following at the Salt Lake Olympics:

Hand it to liberals to take a quote out of context…and still miss the point of what they’re taking out of context.

Well first off this, unlike the “You didn’t build that” comment is slightly out of context.  But before we get to context let’s just deal with the quote the liberals chose…as even that isn’t the same thing as Obama’s dipshit statement.

Let’s see what words does Romney use in that quotes.  Encouraged.  Guided.  None of which is equivalent to “You didn’t do that others did that.”   “All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them up.”  Which of course brings us back to the quote I have started each part of this series with: “but we stand on the shoulders of giants, so we can see farther.”  Those who stand on the shoulders, on the groundwork others have built have done something those people couldn’t.  They have done something that almost no one else could.

But is thanking someone equivalent to you didn’t do that?  No.  Look at the front or back of any book there is a long list of thanks and acknowledgements by the author to the people who helped them.  But just because people may have helped in deep and meaningful ways, it is the author’s name on the dust jacket because they’re the one who did the vast majority of the work, they’re the ones who created something out of nothing, they’re the ones who poured their soul out, worked long hours, fought the impulse to give up and created something.  And this is true of ANY entrepreneur, any Olympian, any person who accomplishes anything. They may have help and they should thank those individuals who helped them…but no sane person mistakes the kind of help individuals offer to one another for the actual accomplishment itself.

But ignoring that there is even a massive gulf between the two quotes out of context, let’s look actually at the full quote and see how while “You didn’t build that” wasn’t taken out of context, the Romney one kind of is.

“Tonight we cheer the Olympians, who only yesterday were children themselves,” Romney said. “As we watch them over the next 16 days, we affirm that our aspirations, and those of our children and grandchildren, can become reality. We salute you Olympians – both because you dreamed and because you paid the price to make your dreams real. You guys pushed yourself, drove yourself, sacrificed, trained and competed time and again at winning and losing.” …

“You Olympians, however, know you didn’t get here solely on your own power,” said Romney, who on Friday will attend the Opening Ceremonies of this year’s Summer Olympics. “For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers, encouraged your hopes, coaches guided, communities built venues in order to organize competitions. All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them. We’ve already cheered the Olympians, let’s also cheer the parents, coaches, and communities. All right!.”

Remember how the full context of Obama’s statement was that it doesn’t matter if you’re smart or worked hard because lots of people are smart and lots of people worked hard…and I guess the implication is that they all fail if government isn’t there to decide who wins and who loses. Everything preceding Obama’s statement was “You are not good enough.  You cannot do it on your own.  Your intellect and drive are worthless unless government decides you should win.”  Well notice the context of Romney’s quote.  He starts off telling the Olympians they did do that.  “We salute you Olympians – both because you dreamed and because you paid the price to make your dreams real.”  (And don’t even get me started on how Obama wouldn’t understand the idea of paying the price for your dreams…he is a man who has had everything in his life handed to him without effort…which is why he believes you didn’t build that, he didn’t.)

“We salute you Olympians” Did Obama anywhere in his speech say we should salute the businessman who create products and services for us to buy or whose business creates jobs and wealth?  Does he say anywhere we should applaud them for taking a risk that could have lost them everything?  Does he say we should be in awe of them sometimes, like now when they’re keeping their businesses alive when they have a piece of shit President doing everything in his power (both through legal and illegal means) to try and destroy them?  Nope he doesn’t.  Romney starts his speech acknowledging that it is the individual who accomplished something that deserves credit first and foremost.  Obama doesn’t even understand that this should be anywhere on the list.

“You guys pushed yourself, drove yourself, sacrificed, trained and competed time and again at winning and losing.”  Romney recognizes that it is the individual who chooses to push themselves and the individual who works to achieve their goal. The greatest parents and coaches in the world in the best facilities in the world can’t do a thing if the person isn’t willing to drive themselves.  Compare that to “Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.”  In Obama’s world you don’t push yourself to achieve, you’re “allowed” to achieve because government, all powerful government, deigns that you may achieve at their sufferance.

So in answer to question that some truly idiotic liberal put on that picture above “Why is it ok for Mitt to remind elite athletes that they didn’t do it alone, but when Obama says the same of business people, the Right throws a hissy fit?”  Because what Mitt and Barry are saying are not equivalent.  Because there is a difference between you had help in achieving your dream and you didn’t do it, the government did it for you.  Because one embraces what the individual is capable of and one denies the ability to shape your own life.  Because one glorifies what man is capable of and one denies he is capable of anything.  Because one is the basis of a system that provides freedom for the individual and one is the basis for the slavery of the collective.  Maybe that’s why we’re getting into a “hissy fit” as idiotic liberals put it (intelligent people might call it justified righteous indignation). Because we can tell the difference between ideas and recognize their consequences.

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Romney at VFW: America the Hope of the Earth



But remember we’re arrogant

But remember we’re not special in the world

And let’s not forget that we believe in American exceptionalism like Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism (yeah thanks Barry for comparing us to that excuse for a nation)…and that we should apologize to the butchers who kill our men but not when you slander a man and accuse him of felonies when you have not even an iota of proof (by the way we have tons of proof, the least of which is your Executive Privelage order, that shows you actually were complicit in the string of felonies known as Fast and Furious)…and that we should support every revolution backed by Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood (Syria, Lybia, Tunisa, Egypt) but let people in Iran who want democracy to be murdered.
I’m ready for a change, how about you?

Also, Mitt is going to meet with anti-Communist figher Lech Walesa and the great Tony Blair, two men who understand what America is, and Obama isn’t (by the way Walesa has refused to meet with Obama).



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A Tale of Two Visions of America


Meanwhile you have the other guy saying:

I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.

Yes, Greek exceptionalism.  You buy that don’t you?  With the nation falling apart I don’t think even Greeks are dumb enough to believe in Greek exceptionalism…

 

But don’t worry, Barack does believe one thing about American is exceptional without question…himself…

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Greatest Patriotic Films of All Time #2: John Adams

Join, or Die

Unite or Die

Appeal to Heaven

Liberty or Death

Don’t Tread on Me

These are the phrases that one sees during the credits for HBO’s John Adams (one wonders what happened to a network that could bring us great TV like Rome and John Adams that it has fallen to The Newsroom and Bill Maher so quickly).  But I think part of this film’s greatness comes from its director, Tom Hooper.  Hooper would later give us the great work of British patriotism, The King’s Speech, and is currently filming Les Miserables which speaks to French patriotism…let’s hope Hooper stops his world tour as films that speak to German patriotism tend to end badly for Poland.

Now there are numerous things in this seven part series to be proud of.  The least of which is an obnoxious, suspected and unpopular man with his outspoken wife doing anything and everything in their power and sacrificing everything they have to constantly do what they know ethics and morals dictate not just for their own lives but for the fate of their nation.  A liberal acquaintance of mine once tried to tell me that the deep love of the Adams was a Hollywood invention, that no man from that era would have held as his chief confidant a woman…clearly this ignorant wretch never had read the letters that John and Abigail wrote often to each other (In reality the show should have been named John and Abigail Adams as few men in history have so relied upon their wives as equals, partners, and true loves as much as John Adams did…which maybe why for all his fault he is possibly the most enviable of the Founding Fathers.).  And these letters are quoted heavily in the movie:

“My Dearest Friend,

Whether I stand high or low in the estimation of the world, my conscience is clear. I thank God I have you for a partner in all the joys and sorrows, all the prosperity and adversity of my life. To take a part with me in the struggle.” –John Adams to Abigail Adams

“Should I draw you the picture of my heart, you would know with what indescribable pleasure I have seen so many scores of years roll over our heads, with an affection heightened and improved by time. Nor have the dreary years of absence in the smallest degree effaced from my mind the image of the dear, untitled man to whom I gave my heart. You could not be, nor did I wish to see you, an inactive spectator.” –Abigail Adams to John Adams

In their letters she was his “best friend” and his “Portia” to her, he as her “Lysander” (see Shakespeare if you don’t get the references).  I hate to be really mean to other nations, but tell me which heads of state of any other power have had not just a position that was enviable, but a personal life that is almost the definition of what we want in our significant other.  And I may be reaching here, but for all of our problems in society, past and present, at least to me America seems to breed more of these true loves than other nation.

While probably not the greatest of presidents, (you’ll never be remembered for keeping America out of a war it couldn’t afford to fight at the time, only for the wars you get the nation into) there is the fact that it’s nice to think that as lacking humility Adams may have been, when he was in an office it was the good of the nation, not himself that took first priority (even if his abrasive nature may have made many an enemy).

Or that here is a man dedicated to liberty above all other things.

“We have a right to [our liberties] derived form our maker.”


But, of course it is the second episode, “Independence” that stirs the strings of patriotism the most for me.  And for obvious reasons—it is this episode where the Declaration of Independence is created and adopted.  I know I am very odd, but I cannot read or hear the Declaration of Independence with crying.  It is a singular achievement of man and the divine working in harmony…or as the character of Adams puts it:

“This is something all together unexpected, not only a Declaration of our Independence, but of the right of all men.”

And this is what America is supposed to be, not just a nation out for ourselves, but a beacon, a promise, and a hope that one day liberty will reign not just in America but the world over and that tyranny will only be found in history books.

But what also makes this section so stirring is the arguments during the Continental Congress for Independence against John Dickenson and his cowardly and treasonous ilk (at one point in the episode it becomes clear that Abigail would just as well shoot the man for opposing independence if she were to go down to Philadelphia…it’s sad no one in real life had her conviction and wisdom).

“I see hope.  I see a new nation ready to take its place in the world—not an empire, but a Republic.  And a Republic of

Adams, Jefferson and Franklin…the creators of the Declaration.

laws, not men.  Gentlemen, we are in the vey midst of revolution—the most complete, unexpected, and remarkable of any in the history of the world.  How few of the human race have ever had the opportunity of choosing a system of government for themselves and their children.  I am not without apprehensions, gentlemen, but the end we have in sight is worth more than all the means.  I believe, sirs, that the hour is come, my judgment approves this measure, and my whole heart is in it.  All that I have, all that I am, and all that I hope in this life, I am now ready to stake upon it.  While I live let me have a country.  A free country. ”

This film makes clear Adams’ vision that America and its promise of liberty is worth the fight. Of course what also strikes me is his statement:

“There are persons in Philadelphia, to whom a ship is dearer than a city, and a few barrels of flour dearer than a thousand lives.  Other men’s lives.”

It’s good to know that my current intellectual (I use that word loosely in reference to my opponents) battles with the un-American tripe that is isolationists, cowards, and Paulbots, that their kind isn’t just a recent phenomenon but rather a sickness that has been around for years. And it’s good to know they’re losing power—before they almost destroyed America before it began, and delayed our entry into WWII to save people from genocide…now they’re just an annoying fringe.  Maybe within a generation their evil will be as dead as John Dickenson would been if he had been justly shot.

But it is also one of the last scenes that stirs my patriotism.  Adams’ last words.  His last words in the series and in real life really were:

“Thomas Jefferson survives!” (even though Jefferson had died 2 hours earlier. Both died on July the 4th, 1726, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration.  Skeptics would call it coincidence, patriots a higher message in that.)

I’ve always liked to think that Adams, at the threshold of this world and the next, actually knew that the man was dead…but his vision “that all men are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights, among these the right to life, liberty, ad the pursuit of Happiness” not only survived in that moment but for all moments to come (but then again I am a hopeless patriot and man of faith).

My dearest friend whether I stand high or low in the estimation of the world, my conscience is clear.  I thank God I have you for a partner in all the joys and sorrows, all the prosperity and adversity

Should I draw you the picture of my heart scores of years

“Oh, posterity. You will never know how much it cost us to preserve your freedom. I hope that you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.” –John Adams

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The Greatest Patriotic Films Ever # 3 Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

 

“What do you know about laws or making laws or what people need?”

“I don’t pretend to know.”

“Then what are you doing in the Senate?”

 

Frank Capra has this rather naïve view of humanity.  He sees all life as nothing but a battle of extreme good and extreme evil; a war between the Baileys and Potters; where the rich are seldom if ever wise, where the poor are noble by virtue of being poor.  Any single story has flaws that are forgivable (except maybe for when he added the speech of extreme pacifism into Lost Horizon which never existed in the book, good call Frank, add a call for appeasement and peace at all costs in a 1937 film…let me know how that works out in the real world), but taken together they have revealed a view of the world that is a little off kilter.  But as I said if you just take Capra’s films each on their own merit, and ignore the collective body of his work, they are good films.  And Mr. Smith is no exception.

 

The forgivable flaws?  That our supposed hero, Jefferson Smith, has to be the most seemingly ignorant Senator in the history of the body (I say seemingly, because, as we sadly know that most Senators make Smith, for all his ignorance, look like a Rhodes Scholar).  Still the scene where his aide, the real hero of the film Clarissa Saunders (Jean Arthur), has to explain how a bill becomes law is just so sad.  I fully realize that I currently live in a nation where the majority leader in the Senate, the minority leader in the House, the President, and the Chief Justice put together don’t know jack about the Constitution or how a bill becomes law…but I have a hard time finding heroism in staggering ignorance.  Especially for a man who claims to be a patriot.  If you say you’re a patriot and don’t know how a bill becomes a law, well SHAME ON YOU—ENDLESS HEAPS OF SHAME!  Now they claim Jefferson Smith knows the history of our nation and can quote it quite fluently (although they never show it) if you’re going to be a patriot you need to know something about your country, and I think how a bill becomes law is kind of simple (considering, that with the exception of knowing about committees, it’s kind of part of knowing the Constitution).

 

But enough about the flaws…because the strengths do overpower them.

 You see, boys forget what their country means by just reading The Land of the Free in history books. Then they get to be men they forget even more. Liberty’s too precious a thing to be buried in books, Miss Saunders. Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say: I’m free to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn’t, I can, and my children will. Boys ought to grow up remembering that.

First there is the point in this film that for all the corruption and flaws, this is a nation of laws.  All the money and the corruption in the world can last for only so long against the law when it is enforced. Granted the Senate rules on filibuster may not be our most revered law, but the point is still clear.  Even corruption is no match for the law when it is applied (that caveat being the important part).  And this is why I think Saunders is the real hero of the film.  She is the one who knows the law, and the one who teaches it to Smith.  And it is in knowing the law that gives Smith the power to confront the corrupt in the Senate.  And it is this moral that I think makes this movie the most patriotic that we have had yet: learn the laws of your nation, with them they give you the power to enforce liberty and justice, without them you are the victim of those who do know them.

 

And of course there is the subtle point here that ANYONE can challenge their government.  Smith may have been lucky enough to get to the floor of the Senate, but any and all can peaceably assemble to “petition the government for redress of grievances.”  (More so now in the day of mass communication and the internet).

And then there is a point about this movie that I find ironic, and I find it ironic because it is the reason so many liberals say they love the film.  The film’s villain is a media mogul who uses his clout to control everything the public sees and hears and thus controls their opinion, and who then uses that power for his own avaricious ends.  Capra seems hell bent on condemning the media.  First for their desire to report on trivial nonsense only for entertainment, as when they tricked Smith into looking like a fool on his first day in Washington.  And second for this monopolistic control of information.  Liberals I know who like this film are very adamant at how evil this second point is….and then in the same breath will critique the existence of FOXNews, the Drudge Report, and Rush Limbaugh.  How dare the media report anything but the left wing talking points! Just a slight irony there.  However, I think it is also this point that will soon date this movie a little out of relevance.  In an age where three major networks, three major cable networks, online journals, blogs, twitter, facebook, youtube, and Wikileaks…in an age where anyone from any strata of society can post a blog that can go viral, where anyone can donate to a SuperPAC that can get the message they believe in out, in a day and age like this is simply impossible to control the message.  Your only option now is to make the more appealing message…and I may be more naïve than Capra, but I feel “the truth will out”, as it did in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

 

 

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The Greatest Patriotic Films Ever: #4 The Postman

“You have a gift, Postman. I saw it back in Pineview. You’ve given us all back what we’d forgotten. You made Mrs. March feel like she could see again. You made Ford feel like he was part of the world. You give out Hope like it was candy in your pocket.”

I know what you’re thinking, The Postman? Really? And I know why you’re feeling that way. It was the first movie Costner did after Waterworld and just about the time you might have forgiven he came out with Message in a Bottle so the hell if you were going to go back and give anything else a shot. I understand completely. And that was the feeling I had when I first watched it but I had nothing better to do and was with family so I couldn’t very well just tell my family to go to hell I wasn’t about to watch what I was sure would be a piece of crap.

And then I watched it and found out it wasn’t crap. It was quite good in fact.

And then you ask, ‘if it’s so good why hasn’t it garnered any acclaim since it first came out?” And the answer is: because it is so patriotic, and you know how the intelligentsia loathes that.

So, while I would recommend you see the movie before I reveal the plot, for any valid discussion I have to go over the plot a little.

The movie follows The Postman, played by Kevin Costner. Yes the character is never actually given a name. This is intentional. A drifter in a post-apocalyptic future (actually its 2013…damn Obamacare is going to ruin everything faster than I thought…I’m sure it sounded semi-reasonable in in1997). The first part of the film introduces us to this world where an army of thuggish marauders, called the Holnists, terrorize and control much of the Pacific Northwest. The Postman is at first captured and impressed into their fascist army, but escapes…and in his escape he finds a crashed US Post Office truck, fully loaded with a bag of mail and the skeleton of a dead postal official (still wearing his uniform). He takes the uniform and mail bag and concocts a story that the US government has been restored back East and he is a federal employee of the Restored United States, hoping this story will get him something to eat from every town he passes. What he doesn’t realize is what news of a Restored United States does to a population that has had all hope ripped away from them. Within only months he soon has his own army of mostly young men and women following him, carrying the mail all over Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Hope returns, people start fighting back…and with his band of very disgruntled postal workers they defeat the Holnist army and turn The Postman’s lie of a restored government into a reality.

So what makes this post-apocalyptic film, a film that shows the United States reduced to rubble, that states the White House had been burned to the ground, a patriotic film?

First it clearly points out what America isn’t. About halfway through the leader of the Holnist army, the psychotic and utterly taken with himself General Bethlehem, gives a speech on what he thinks made America great:

“We had a great nation once. You know what made it great? I can. Till the weak came along, the ‘I Can’ts” destroyed us. But I’m going to make us strong again. I’m going to be the father of a new nation. And do you know why it will be me? Because I can.”

The point here is to show exactly why this wasn’t what made America great. Any bully or tyrant can say “Yes, I can” any mindless mob can say “Yes, we can” but might doesn’t make right. America is great not because of brute strength but because we stand for ideals instead of might, we stand for ethics instead of the club, because the American ideal is “I should” not “I can.” America is great because we look at the greatest obstacles and say “I will” and look to the future instead of the mere tyrant who says “I can” as their only justification. Only tyrants and bullies speak of “I can”…the moral is the best in America speak of “I should.” And this is shown in the film, The Postman is offered a lot of things he “can” do, but it is the fact that in the end he chooses what he “should” do that makes him the emblem of America that he is meant to be.

The next is the very nature of democracy is shown in this film. Power coming from the people is the natural state of governments and it is antithetical to tyranny. After capturing a postal carrier and reading through the mail, Bethlehem’s men dismisses it as “Births and deaths, the weather, gossip. There’s nothing here.” Bethlehem recognizes the threat of people banding together to agasinst his little feudal rule. “Nothing? Everything is here. Am, I the only one who sees that?” People banding together is the greatest threat to tyranny. Always has been, always will be (the next most dangerous is an armed populace). (Granted people banded together can just as easily fall from one tyranny to another, see the Russian Revolution or the Arab Spring, but it always spells a short reign for the current dictator). This is why tyrannies spend so much time and money to control all forms of information, when people begin to associate and talk without government control, not much can stand in the way of the storm that is to come from their banding together. George III found this out, and this is why one of the first things the Continental Congress did after declaring independence is establish a postal system. Communication is essential for liberty and it is antithetical to slavery.

This movie is also patriotic in what it shows the United States, just as a concept is. It is a beacon of hope. Just the words “Restored United States” encourages people to stand up and resist their oppressors, it makes them believe in the future which they had stopped doing. Some of the more cynical are even afraid of what this hope means,

“These people don’t need dreams, Mr. Postman. They need something real. They need help with the goddamn Holnists. Are you going to bring them that?”

But the film does a great job at showing that it is this hope and this ability to believe that the future is worth fighting for is exactly what will give them the help they need. And the movie itself culminates in a personal battle between Bethlehem and the Postman and in a moment of attempting to gloat over his impending victory Bethlehem taunts the Postman with:

General Bethlehem: I know your problem. Do you know why you won’t fight? Because you have nothing to fight for! You don’t care about anything! You don’t value anything! You don’t believe in anything! That’s what makes me better!
The Postman: I believe in the United States.

The Postman immediately proceeds to beat Bethlehem to a bloody pulp. It helps when you believe in something real and something worth fighting for.

And one of the more overlooked parts of the film is a final reason why it shows film to be exceedingly patriotic.

The film ends with a speech given in 2043 by The Postman’s daughter at the commemoration of a statue to him.

“My father saw how fragile we are, how quickly we fell into the hands of tyranny. He saw that ordinary men could reach deep within themselves and find courage. He saw that if we began to communicate as a nation we could become strong again, united, but he never did see St. Rose. He said there was too much to be done. He’d made a promise. And in keeping it he traded one dream for another. With no regrets.”

And it is not only a speech that shows what America is capable of. The scene is not a post-apocalyptic wasteland just recovering. It is a healthy civilization. Prefabricated boats in a marina, factory made clothes on all the people gathered, cameras, electricity, mass media, a society that can spare the time and money to commission a giant bronze statue. It shows an America that can rise from its own ashes in a mere 30 years and recover all of it past glory in only a generation. And this is an accurate depiction of America. Time and time again we have endured depressions, natural disasters, the hell of war, and whatever else the world can throw at us. And each time we come back, stronger, more resilient, and wiser. Name for me a nation that can not only do that once, but time and time again, other than America.

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The Greatest Nation On Earth…not according to “The Newsroom”

So apparently on the most recent HBO piece of trash (from the network that brings you Bill Maher’s constant trash) is a new show “The Newsroom” which thought it would be risky and daring and by saying the thing that liberals and their ilk have been saying since Jamestown was founded, that America is not the greatest nation.  Oooh…how gutsy of them.  Like I haven’t heard that one from liberals all my life.

But let’s take a look at what was actually said.

This seems like an impassioned but also well reasoned argument.  After all he has numbers!  It must be true.  Except that it’s not.

Let’s go over the specifics.

It’s NOT the greatest country in the world, Professor. That’s my answer.

[Debate Moderator]
You’re saying

[Will]
Yes.

[Debate Moderator]
Let’s talk about

[Will]
Fine. Sharon, the NEA is a loser. Yeah, it accounts for a penny out of our paycheck, but he gets to hit you with it anytime he wants. It doesn’t cost money. It costs votes. It costs airtime. And column inches. You know why people don’t like liberals? Because they lose. If liberals are so fuckin’ smart then how come they lose so goddamn always?

No I think that people hate liberals because at their worst, they are the greedy and corrupt that they claim to be against what they promote.  And at their best they are an ideology that advocates against liberty and for control by the government.

[Will (to Lewis]
And with a straight face, you’re gonna sit there and tell students that America is so star-spangled awesome that we’re the only ones in the world who have freedom? Canada has freedom. Japan has freedom. The U.K. France. Italy. Germany. Spain. Australia. BELGIUM has freedom. (laughs) Two hundred and seven sovereign states in the world, like, a hundred and eighty of them have freedom.

Okay, let’s deal with his list.  We are the first nation founded specifically on liberty.  And yes we are currently not doing a great job of liberty, but we are still one of the freest nations on Earth. And this screed is wrong.  Of all the countries he lists only Canada ranks above the U.S. in economic freedom  and keep in mind that Canada has so little respect for free speech you can be fined for saying true things about Muslims— oh yeah, that’s really free.  And actually it’s around 184 sovereign states, 5 of them are free another 23 are mostly free, another 62 are moderately free.  So only about 90 are moderately free or better.  (And what qualifies as moderately free is pretty sad.  It’s closer to only 28 of the 184 are even mostly free).

 [Will]
And you, Sorority Girl, just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there’s some things you should know. One of them is there’s absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world.

We’re seventh in literacy.

We’re actually 10th, but that might be because we allow some liberty in our nation and not force people into government run propaganda mills at the point of a gun (Unlike some of the countries that beat us out like Cuba)…also our literacy rate is 99% literate…hmmm.  Yeah we’re doing really bad at literacy.  99% of our citizens can read.  Really failed there.

 Twenty-seventh in math. Twenty-second in science.

Well there are two problems here.  Most of these statistics on comparing national scores are often off.  Most countries do not main stream their special education students and test them, we do which drags our scores down.  Further most of those nations place their students in tracks, and only test their best and brightest, again comparing that to our tests of everyone.  Hell I’m not surprised that we don’t do worse on standardized tests.  However, you’ll notice that these scores mean that students do well on standardized tests..and the people in those countries notice that too…and they want more of what we have, free thinkers, creativity, innovation () none which comes from doing well on standardized tests.  A better way to judge American understanding of science and technology is to look at patent applications and grants. The U.S. leads in total number of patents (i.e. The U.S. has more patents than ALL other nations combined…and only during the Obama years have ALL other nations combined out done us…I expect we’ll go back to being the leader once the idiot is out).  We may not do the best on standardized tests for a myriad of reasons, but our education system for all its flaws still produces more creators, more leaders, more free thinkers and innovators than anyone.

Forty-ninth in life expectancy. A hundred and seventy-eighth in infant mortality.

Now this is also another misleading statistic.  Only a fool would say that there is not a genetic component to both of these numbers.  When you correct for life expectancy or infant mortality by ethnicity we’re on par with the top nations, and what we are off would be considered statistically negligible.  Yes our diversity is a strength, but just coming to America doesn’t change how genetics affect health, which they do.

As for infant mortality.  It might be because we count all births a live births.  Most other nations do not count children born under a certain weight as a live birth.  (Guess which group tend to die a lot?) So if we’re counting the one who make up the majority of that infant mortality rate and other nations do not, shocker that we don’t come in first place.

Third in median household income. Number four in labor force and number four in exports.

That’s a bad thing?

And when you take all of these together, it’s never the same countries ahead of us in any of these lists, when you consider the whole picture, it is America that is consistently at the top of every list across the board.

 

 We lead the world in only three categories: Number of incarcerated citizens per capita,

Okay, I’ll grant you that. Of course part of this is because the people who should be behind bars are the ones running the nation, given the high number of genocidal butcher in China, Afghanistan, Iran or Syria, if the people who deserved to be in jail were, then we wouldn’t be leading this list. It’s also a side effect of not making just about every crime be a death penalty case, as with some nations, you have to house the people you don’t kill in droves? Are we number one, if you counted “re-education camps” and “concentration camps”as prisons?  I know we’re not number one in those categories.

number of adults who believe angels are real,

Wow, since when did religious faith become a fault?  First, angels are real.  Second, thank you liberals for once again insulting anyone who dares believe in anything bigger than the government.  Contrary to your petty beliefs, faith is a virtue not a weakness.

and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies.

Again none of these are a problem.  And all classical liberals/constitution understand that defense is the only reason for government – individuals take care of other issues.

Now none of this is the fault of a twenty-year-old college student, but you nonetheless are without a doubt a member of the worst, period, generation, period, ever, period.

No the worst. Generation. Ever. Would be the baby boomers, a bunch of whiners who have demanded everything been given to them and then left their children with the bill.  If the current generation has problems it’s because they were raised by whining children who never grew up.  The worst generation is the one that bitches about how not great America is and yet has never done anything to improve it…you know the generation the speaker of this worthless diatribe from this worthless show is a part of.

So when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I dunno what the fuck you’re talkin’ about. Yosemite?

How about the fact that we’re the most charitable nation on Earth. 

We’re number one in legal immigrants…if we’re such a terrible place, why does everyone come here? 

If we’re not number #1, then I promise you that we’re still near the top in terms of economic mobility, and we will return to #1 in the coming years.

We have shed more blood to free other peoples and other nations from slavery and tyranny.

We are the ONLY nation founded on an ideal.

Sure used to be. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons. We passed laws, struck down laws, for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people.”

Really “The Great Society” is what he lists as our great moment.  Odd that the war on poverty is what killed the growth of the middle class and thus did wage a war on poor people that he touts as our high point. In the long run we usually always stand for what is right and moral but often not our first step.  We still pass laws and ignore others but no longer for moral reasons…but that would often be because of people like Harry Reid who prevent laws from coming up for a vote…I’m sure he’s a favorite among the makers of “The Newsroom.”

 

 “We sacrificed. We cared about our neighbors. We put our money where our mouths were. And we never beat our chest.”

We still do the first three…we’ve always beat our chests, just look at history.

“We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and we cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars. Acted like men.”

His use of the past tense is correct.  But the present and the future tenses are also correct…he incorrectly seems to suggest that they aren’t.

We aspired to intelligence. We didn’t belittle it—it didn’t make us feel inferior.

We still aspire to intelligence.  I don’t know what he means about belittling it, unless he means our distain for Ivory Tower idiocy, which we’ve always had.

We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t, oh, we didn’t scare so easy. Ha. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men. Men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.

No the problem is that we’ve hit a downturn…but we are still the greatest nation, we still have our virtues, we just need to remember them and use them.   And again this guy doesn’t know much history.  People have always identified themselves by how they voted (or did you miss how vicious the Adams/Jefferson political wars were?).

The writer for this idiotic speech seems to think that we were only great when we were under FDR and LBJ letting the world and our own nation fall apart, but saying we cared about people.  And they revel when we hit low points like we have now.  The problem is that this is not our lowest low point, and even if it was there is something about America…something that refuses to die for too long.  There is something of the Phoenix in our nature—we may fall and die, but each time we arise from the ashes of our self immolation stronger and more alive than before.  The future will be no different from the past, and we will remain the greatest nation on Earth.

(Personally I think Daniels was hoping to use this for his audition for Dumb and Dumber 2).

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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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