Friday, June 26, 2009
As one who has fond memories of the album "Thriller," I was saddened to learn of Jackson's death---but the Michael Jackson of 2009 was not the Jackson who sang and danced his way into the title the "King of Pop." That Jackson died sometime in the 1990s, drowned in a sea of weirdness. In the end, he was no longer thrilling but merely goofy. Appearing in a burqa? Dangling a baby off a balcony? A bazillion plastic surgeries? (You know you've gone overboard when Joan Rivers starts doing jokes about your plastic surgery).
So let us remember the Michael Jackson of "Thriller," of "Smooth Criminal," of "Billie Jean." Heck, let us remember the Michael Jackson of "I Want You Back" and "I'll Be There." As for that other guy, God have mercy on his soul.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
For those of you unfamiliar with this, the Magna Carta is the predecessor to the U.S. Constitution. The "Great Charter of Freedoms," as it's called, came from a revolt by English barons that involved (naturally) taxes, infringements on the use of lands, private property rights, and above all, a right of rebellion should King John get out of hand. Although the principle was established, no nobles had ever before applied it to a king, and it laid the foundation---admittedly often broken over the next 500 or so years---that kings were subject to the law. Although John reneged on this clause as soon as he signed it, sparking a civil war, he issued it again when he began to lose. Power, as Mao said, must come from the end of a gun (or, in this case, a crossbow) after all.
By the way, the document itself had to have been written by Smurfs with x-ray vision. The print is "mouse print," and, of course, in Latin. I asked my trusty squire, Antonius Historicus, to translate it for me, but I realize many of you may not have access to his services. (Seriously, it was already translated, and the Reagan Library has copies in English, not far from a display of the Gipper's jelly bean jars.
Ronald Reagan certainly "got" the essence of the Great Charter. Perhaps a certain ruling monarch today might wish to pay a visit to the Reagan Library and Museum, if he can break away from his date nights.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
More important, how wise does President Bush now look for putting (admittedly flawed) democracies on each side of the "Islamic Republic?" Did you see the picture of the woman with a sign that said, "Regime change!" Who do you think she was referring to?
Meanwhile, the current oaf in the Oval just sits, hoping that a winner is clear so he can jump on board without risk. It's the epitome not only of gutlessness, but of indecision and absence of policy.
**Update, 6/22/09 10:00 pm EST: It appears that a few more people have been shot, and that the police are routinely now shooting in the air. That's still interesting. Imagine Stalin's secret police shooting at anything but bodies.
Friday, June 12, 2009
I might actually go along with the old general if, in fact, he were the general of old. Consider Colin Powell at the 1996 Republican Convention:
"President Reagan will always be the president who restored the fighting strength and spirit of America's Armed Forces. Ronald Reagan, the great communicator, who gave voice and image to the power of democracy as the way to a better future for all the people of the world."
And President George W. Bush? Powell said this of Bush:
[He] took us through the end of the Cold War and the defeat of communism. George Bush the statesman, George Bush the statesman and my boss who led us to a great victory in the Persian Gulf War."
So far, so good. What did the Time-Warp Powell say about family and values?
"Children learn values by watching their parents in their homes. Values which are then reinforced in their churches and in their places of worship, in the schools and in the communities in which they live. That's why we Republicans believe that the family, fueled by values, must be restored to the central place in American life if we are to keep the dream alive. "
And taxes and economic growth? What say you alternative universe Powell?
"We are the pro-growth party. We are the party committed to lessening the burden of taxes, cutting government regulations and reducing government spending, all for the purpose of generating the higher economic growth that will bring better jobs, wages and living standards to all our people. We believe there are better ways to take care of Americans in need than the exhausted programs of the past. All of us -- all of us, my friends -- all of us must be willing to do with less from government if we are to avoid condemning our children and grandchildren with a crushing burden of debt that will deny them the American dream. "
Good job, general. But what about big government?
"I became a Republican because I believe, like you that the federal government has become too large and too intrusive in our lives. We can no longer afford solutions to our problems that result in more entitlements, higher taxes to pay for them, more bureaucracy to run them and fewer results to show for it. I became a Republican because I believe America must remain the leader of the free world. Republican leadership, a Republican president, will bring greater conviction and coherence to our foreign policy -- and will guarantee that our Armed Forces remain the strongest and most capable on earth."
Wow. Doesn't sound anything like Barack Obama, the big government, high-tax, omnipotent authoritarian that Powell endorsed and supported for president in 2008! Now, to be fair, in 1996, Powell also stated he was for affirmative action and was "pro-choice," and he nodded approvingly more than once to "compassion" and ending "corporate welfare." (Oops. Better tell Zero about that one!) But overall, that alternative universe general is 180 degrees off from the guy who said Americans were eager to have bigger government and couldn't wait to pay more taxes.
So why does Powell command any support among Republicans, let alone a great deal of fawning by otherwise sensible people? I call it the Black Perot effect. In 1992, Ross Perot came out of nowhere to get 17% of the national presidential vote, probably electing Bill Clinton (that remains debatable among scholars). But the point is, most Perot supporters didn't have a clue what he stood for. Heck, Ross didn't know what he stood for.
"Larry, we're gonna get under the hood, see, and take a look." That was his solution to everything---that and to draw up a chart he could use on Larry King. Yet Perot was exceptionally popular. Why? My theory is that Perot appealed to the "common sense Americans" who can't understand why it's so hard to do the right thing and end a stupid welfare program, or STOP SPENDING MONEY. They do, in their daily lives. Why can't the government?
More important, however, Perot also included a great number of professional Republican-haters. By this I do not mean Democrats---they are on another planet when it comes to Republican hate. I mean ordinary people who through their schools and the media and Hollywood have been convinced that Republicans are "for the rich," and since they ain't rich, Republicans must be against them. But the key feature is that since Perot had no actual policies that could be studied, no plans that could be questioned, he managed to skate along for months without serious media criticism, and affected a national election.
Powell is a Black Perot. He has no specific policies on anything except he's "for" affirmative action and abortion, which stands him in good stead with a few Dems who on most other issues don't like big government but who crave "fairness." But how would he handle the GM bailout? He won't say. What about Iran? "We need more dialogue." (This is a leftie codephrase which means, "We won't stop you, no matter what you do"). And best of all---from this voter segment's perspective---Powell is (shhhh) black. So Obama was a two-fer---assuage white guilt and vote for the young, hip guy even though he's a socialist. Powell is a three-fer, allowing people to assuage white guilt, support a black man full of compassion on the "right" issues, who may (we hope, we hope, we hope) have the right positions on big spending and taxes and the economy.
In fact, Powell is much worse than Perot, who at least had the courage to run for president and put what few and flimsy ideas he had to the test.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
The unbelievably idiotic and dangerous decision of the United States Supreme Court to deny the Chrysler bondholder claims---and thus reverse the holdings that have stood for almost two centuries in the Dartmouth case, whereby a contract is a contract---is just one more example of the reality that there can be no compromise with any branch in this current government group. We need a thorough housecleaning, including the Court, beginning with this racist Sonya Sotomayor. If I, as a professor, dared say publicly that because I'm a white male I'm "wiser" than all those black folk (or "them Jews" as Rev. Jeremiah Wright called them yesterday), then I'd rightly be out on my ear. The fact that she is even being considered for this position is deeply troubling, and old and ailing Ruth Buzzie Ginsburg will be the next to retire, allowing Zero to stick in an even more radical woman/lesbian/black/homosexual/Hispanic/whatever.
Be afraid. Be very, very afraid. Or, better yet, get active. Get very, very active. We truly don't have much time.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
While the Koran may indeed say "O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another," that is completely irrelevant to what Islam holds as its single defining verse, "There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet." There is a yawning chasm between the two concepts.
It is also irrelevant that the Talmud says "The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace" if the commandment of the Torah is "Hear, O Israel, the Lord is One, the Lord is God." Obviously if the Lord is God, Allah ain't, and "promoting peace" in the Talmud first comes through accepting that fact.
And yes, the Lord Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" and yet at the same time the single clear message of the New Testament is not that verse, but John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall have everlasting life." The call to peace comes from that faith---the practice of peace does not yield eternal life.
These are not minor religious quibbles, but the essence of fundamental world-views that in fact require one or the other to dominate. That domination does not necessarily have to be bloody, and the very examples of Islamic "tolerance" that Obama cites came only after wars in which Islam defeated elements of Christendom. (By the way, the phrase Obama cited urging Muslims to peace, namely "he who saves a life saves the world," was first a Jewish saying.
A couple of final words---because I could turn this post into a book: it is a-historical and utterly, well, stupid to find some "Muslim history" in America. Obama cited a treaty with Morocco by John Adams, without noting that the same Thomas Jefferson whom he later praised wasted no time going to war with the Barbary States over their barabaric practices of enslaving sailors and passengers at sea; that he did so without a declaration of war (just as George W. Bush did with Iraq, using a Joint Resolution); and that he engaged in a "preemptive war" just as Bush did by taking on all Barbary states---not just the one that actually declared war on us---in an 1804 version of "you're with us or you're with the terrorists."
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
For those who haven't followed this, in the Dayton area this is huge. NCR (National Cash Register) is the main private sector business in the Miami Valley and is a tradition. James Patterson (then head of NCR) personally handled most of the relief efforts in the massive flood here in the 1900s. The company said that in addition to "incentives," the Atlanta area has a much higher % of 26 to 40 year olds to draw from; and also OH has the 46th worst business climate in the nation; and also we have, er, WINTER.
But this takes the cake: Dayton officials were whining that they hadn't had a chance to make a counteroffer (to which I noted that their "chance" has been going on for 20 years and no one listened). All the while, it's Obama stimulus money that sealed the deal. And here's the kicker of kickers: GA went for McCain, and OH went for Obama. Oh, the irony.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
This is simply a great movie. For those of us who grew up first on the television series, then the series of motion pictures, then "The Next Generation," this is the TV series on special-effects steriods, and in my opinion the second best movie of all Star Trek movies, next to "The Wrath of Khan."
The first 20 minutes is jarring, and you have to pay attention. It runs the viewer from Capt. Christopher Pike (played by a one of my favorites, Bruce Greenwood), to the evil Romulan Nero (Eric Bana, sans Hulk get-up), to the young Spock, to the risk-taking James T. Kirk (played supremely in this role by Chris Pine), then finally to the late-teen Spock who chooses Star Fleet, played by Zachary Quinto. Yet somehow the editors managed to keep the essential plot lines straight. Kirk is exceptionally bright, but a hell-raiser. Uhura (Zoe Saldana) is as beautiful as can be, and ironically has no interest in Kirk but rather is in love with Spock. Kirk proceeds to get beat to a pulp by almost everyone in this movie. (First it's cadets from Star Fleet, then Spock, then the Romulans. You begin to think Kirk was taught to fight at UN peacekeeper school).
Above all, what makes the movie is the development, on multiple levels, of the friendship between Kirk, Spock, and to a lesser degree, Bones (Karl Urban) and Scotty (Simon Pegg). John Cho plays a straight Sulu, thank God, and Anton Yelchin does a good job as Checkov.
The plot revolves around the "prime"/older Spock (Leonard Nimoy) trying to save Romulus in the future, and failing. Somehow, the evil Romulan Nero comes through a time warp to the past to destroy Vulcan out of revenge---and to make the young Spock watch!
Don't get wrapped up in debating the "time continuum" stuff, just go with it. There is a glitch with this at the end (the same person cannot exist in two places at once, or two people from different times can't co-exist, or . . . ah, forget it).
Instead, just enjoy the origins of the comeraderie, the sexual tension between Spock and Kirk over Uhuru, the one-liners, and above all, the fantastic way the actors adapted the characters to their own personas while maintaining much of the original Kirck/Scott/Bones/Spock personalities. At times, you can almost see Shatner coming through Pine; unfortunately, at times, Urban tries a little too hard to "be" Bones, and of all the characters, his is the least developed in terms of motivations or past. But the friendship between Spock---at any age---and Kirk is wonderful, if rocky at first. When Spock prime says to Kirk, "I am, and always have been, your friend," it brought a tear to my eye as I recalled Spock dying to save the Enterprise in "Wrath of Khan."If CGI had existed in 1966, instead of cardboard sets, this is what that Star Trek might have looked like. Enjoy. Live long and prosper, unless, of course, you are Spock prime speaking to Spock in which case, as he noted, "It would be self-serving."