"Once abolish God and the government becomes the God." -G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Southern, White, Out-of-Touch Party Wins Senate Seat in Liberal Massachusetts (or Happy Anniversary, Barack!)

Eight months ago, when the smarmiest of RINOs announced he was going Benedict Arnold and joined the Democratic Party, Washington insiders and pundits alike began writing the obituaries for the GOP. They said Republicans were a dying breed, the party of southern white men, totally out-of-touch with the mainstream. They said unless the party became more moderate (i.e. progressive), the GOP was destined to become a regional party that faded into obscurity.

What a difference a special election makes. Turns out such talk was not only premature, it was dead wrong. Sadly, this was the same type of conventional thinking that kept John McCain from running an effective campaign against Barack Obama in the first place. Scott Brown proved last night with a Republican victory in Massachusetts that Democrats are the ones who are out of touch with the American people. Even in the bluest of blue states when replacing a liberal icon like Ted Kennedy. This leaves just one question. When will Arlen Specter be announcing his party switch again?

On Monday night, MSNDNC ran a special two hour program called Obama's America: 2010 and Beyond. By Tuesday at midnight, it became apparent that Obama's America may not last beyond 2010. Most of us don't want to live in Obama's America or even Bush's America. We just want to live in the United States of America. We want to pass down the freedom and liberty that so many take for granted to our children and grandchildren. Every day it seems like that freedom is at stake. Scott Brown tapped into that and ran a mostly conservative campaign. Of course, it didn't hurt that his opponent stumbled down the stretch in what most years would have been a coronation.

As a result, the Democrats chance to pass their progressive agenda is slipping away faster than Tiger Woods' chance of celebrating his twentieth wedding anniversary. From state-run health care to cap-and-trade to amnesty, it's all an uphill battle now. This is what happens when you try to marginalize the opposition and paint everyday Americans as extremists. You ignore their concerns at your own peril. It's hard to keep calling them astroturfers when they're voting you out of office.

If Obama is the true pragmatist that the mainstream media tries to claim he is, then this election is a wake-up call. Fire Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod and start reaching across party lines for bipartisan solutions. Scrap the current health care bill and start over without any closed door deals or back room meetings. Of course, I won't hold my breath. It takes a certain kind of arrogance to promise a new era of change and transparency only to hope the people are too stupid and/or overwhelmed to actually hold you accountable. So far, Barack Obama has allowed that arrogance to define his presidency.

Today, a nation woke up with hope. Not the kind promised by campaign slogans and demagoguery, but real hope. That hope is for the president to start listening to the concerns of all Americans, not just progressive Americans or union leaders or New England elites. That hope is for the president to stop shifting the blame and start being accountable for the struggles of this economy. That hope if for common solutions, not class divisions. That hope is for America to continue to stand strong against terrorism and to stop apologizing to the world for daring to stand against tyranny. We'll stand by your side, Mr. President, if you'll just stand by ours.

Scott Brown isn't going to Washington to write his own legacy. He's going to write the people's legacy, to be a voice for those hardworking Americans that this administration has failed to hear or flat out ridiculed. The people of Massachusetts have spoken. Let's hope this time it's loud enough to be heard in Barack Obama's insolated world.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Brown vs Coakley: Live Election Results

Got the link from Matt K. Lewis. If you aren't following him on twitter, you should add him immediately. Lots of site traffic headed there so you might have to try a few times or hit the refresh button. Here's hoping for a Republican miracle in the bluest of blue states!



Politics First. Country Second. People... Third?

Country First. Remember that sign from the campaign trail a little over a year ago? Turns out it was more than a slogan. The sign speaks a truth to Obama's style of governing. Politics first. Country second. People... third? How else do you explain his outright denial of how unpopular the Democrats attempted takeover of health care has become? Why in the world is Obama still trying to push it through? For such big ears, this president sure seems to have tin ones.

I don't ever remember seeing a sitting president expend so much energy trying to get his party's candidates elected in a non-election year cycle. First it was for Corzine, now it's Coakley. Yep, that's right, the Hopenchange Express could go 0 for 2. That's worse than the Dallas Cowboys playoff record this year. And needless to say, it doesn't come off as post-partisan. It comes off as petty. It diminishes Obama's role as a leader for all Americans. Probably because Obama's actions show that he only wants to be the leader for progressive-minded Americans. The rest can buy government sanctioned health insurance or go to jail.

The public sees this and it's affecting the president's poll numbers drastically. Especially given the challenges our nation is facing: from 10% unemployment to the war in Afghanistan, from trying to stabilize a disaster area to fighting terrorism at our own army bases and on our planes. Is there a precedent for presidential shilling during times like these? Of course not. Then again, there's no precedent for this kind of shilling, either.

Four million people in the United States lost their jobs last year. That's despite spending a trillion dollars on a "stimulus bill" that hasn't stimulated anything except big government. Too bad big government relies on a successful and prosperous private sector to keep it going, because there's not much of a private sector left. These charts (and an excellent post at Captain Capitalism) show how government is now growing more rapidly than the independent businesses that can actually create wealth and jobs. No wonder, in what seemed like a long shot weeks ago, Taxachusetts might turn out for the GOP.

Even if Brown doesn't win tonight's special election for the Senate seat previously occupied by Ted Kennedy, a one or two point loss in a state with only 12% registered Republicans should be enough to halt the one party rule and the sleazy backroom deals the Democrats have perpetuated on the American people during Obama's first year in office. It should at least be enough to make other Democrats running in more conservative states change their course for more moderate footing. If not, then this president and this Congress are truly enemies of the people. That's not just a tin ear. That's tyranny, no less offensive than if we were ruled by kings.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Avatar: Worst Movie of the Year Glorifies Environmental Extremism

Avatar is the biggest, blandest, least original story to come out of Hollywood in years, with one dimensional characters, cliched action movie dialogue, and a banal lesson about the environment that makes Al Gore's eco-worship seem restrained by comparison. In other words, it's a sure bet to win the Oscar for best picture.

The bulk of the movie takes place on the faraway planet of Pandora. Or maybe Pandora is a moon. It doesn't matter. What matters is Pandora is lush and inhabited by beautiful, colorful creatures that bring to mind snorkeling amidst a coral reef in the Caribbean. And who would want to harm a coral reef? The film uses that psychology to its advantage, manipulating us to root against our pale species in the vivid alien world. After all, if the creatures looked like the bugs in Starship Troopers, you'd be cheering on a weaponized can of raid. And we can't have that.

In the first act of the film, writer/director James Cameron presents us with three types of characters: a primitive forest-living native people, a group of dedicated human scientists, and military/security personnel who work for a giant corporation seeking to mine a profitable mineral called "unobtainium." Needless to say, you don't have to be a contestant on Deal or No Deal to figure out which group will be portrayed as the villains. The mineral is said to be an allegory for oil, although the value of the mineral as a resource is never explained (does it provide energy or heat homes or make up plastics that save lives?) We're given no backstory.

Unless you've been living in a cave, you've probably become accustomed to Hollywood and the Left obsessing over the evils of capitalism, painting corporations as ruthless and greedy plunderers who will do anything for a profit (see Michael Clayton.) Avatar is no different except this might be the first movie that actually treats living in a cave as a more noble aspiration than exploring the far corners of the universe (a message Osama bin Laden would surely endorse.) To boldly go where no man has gone before? That's no longer politically correct. Someone inform the Trekkies they are now considered an occupying force.

It takes some kind of ego to raise over $300 million to make the most expensive film in the history of moviemaking and spend it bashing the excesses of capitalism. Then again, that's James Cameron for you. Perhaps he and Michael Moore have been shopping for private jets together. It should also be noted that his giant film crew invaded the faraway, pristine world of New Zealand (for the tax breaks) to shoot this monstrosity. Although I'm sure no trees or animals were harmed in the process.

I'll admit that Avatar is an amazing looking piece of cinema, especially in 3D, but unfortunately the only way to enjoy the magical world is to turn off your brain. Try not to note the irony as Hollywood, who will do anything for a buck, preaches a heavy handed message against the evils of corrupting a culture for monetary gain. I guess we're supposed to believe all thoseSaw and Jackass movies were striving for high art.

The primitive aliens presented in the film couldn't be flatter. They have no character flaws to speak of (even their bodies are drawn in svelte, model-like proportions, with six pack abs and figures that starlets would kill for) and live in perfect harmony with each other. No infighting, no disease, no outside enemies other than greedy capitalists. Apparently, no politics either. They literally live like angels in heaven. And they're bilingual! Everything in their tribal world is perfect until the "evil white man" enters the picture.

We've seen this story before, but never has a native population been presented as such a flawless, idealized culture, nor their world so heavenly. There is no nuance here, because that would interfere with setting up the straw man, which turns out to be us, the human race. White human race, I might add. Meanwhile, the native people live in hammocks and pray to spiritual trees, which we are assured really are magical because they are illustrated in a way that leaves no doubt.

Avatar revels in new age mysticism and nature worship. No longer is tree hugging enough. Tree worship is required to convert the last of us into the eco-friendly movement. It's like The Secret on steroids, with superstition usurping traditional values and refuting the idea of a Judea/Christian God. Of course, we all know that the green movement has become a cult. And an acceptable one to the Oprah/Obama crowd. James Cameron's movie is literally a recruitment film for environmentalism. Cut down enough "spiritual trees" and the capitalists will face their day of reckoning. In the end, the natives unite with the scientists and fight off the evil, imperialist humans before they can create a welfare nanny-state. Okay, not exactly, but wouldn't that have made a much better and more relevant picture?

In Avatar, saving trees is the number one priority. And if that means killing people, so be it. We're all ecoterrorists now, right? This film comes dangerously close to glorifying environmental extremism. Of course, it's hard to take this message seriously from the suburban wasteland of the multiplex, with forty screens and not a tree in sight. But someone will. Someone always does. And that's the danger of the mythology that James Cameron has created here. No matter how poorly it's done.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Day Texas Tech Football Died

When Lubbock's most famous resident got on a plane and perished in a snowstorm on February 2, 1959, singer/songrwiter Don McClean called Buddy Holly's death "the day the music died." Fifty years later, December 30, 2009 might go down as the day Texas Tech football died.

Texas Tech University's decision to fire successful head football coach Mike Leach based on overblown allegations from one player, a day before his contract stipulated an $800,000 payment and three days before the university's fifth consecutive bowl game, is a decision that will go down as one of the dumbest in the program's history.

While there's certainly no lack of fowl stench blowing around Lubbock, this decision stinks worse than the stockyard air. Texas Tech officials have really stepped in it this time. They have backed a pampered player with a famous dad at an even more famous television sports network over the head coach, his staff, and the majority of the players, past and present. They have also shown themselves to be about as loyal as Tiger Woods, willing to pull the rug out on a coach's hard-earned salary right before the bill comes due.

This is bad news for Tech fans and the Big 12.

If you were a candidate for the head coaching vacancy at Texas Tech and you just watched the previous coach get thrown under the bus to appease a TV network that has basically been spinning one side of the story (that of their sports analyst and illegally-paid former SMU athlete Craig James), would you be in a hurry to schedule an interview in Lubbock? Nevermind that it's Lubbock!

People who live there might not know better, and something can certainly be said of its sweeping vistas and big sky sunsets, but to the average city dweller (heck, even to the average Texan), a weekend trip to Lubbock is usually a day too long. Located in the middle of nowhere, it's hardly a recruit's idea of paradise and far from a coaching dream job. On top of that, now you have an administration and board of regents who unabashedly protect personal relationships and trump up charges from players' parents rather than stand by their team's coach and staff.

Something stinks alright. Most universities don't take the word of third string benchwarmers over coaches and trainers. Most universities hold comprehensive investigations to get all the facts straight before making rash decisions on the eve of bowl games. Especially universities with a history of hiring controversial figures like Bobby Knight.

Leach is suing the university and rightly so. To prove that they had cause to fire him, Texas Tech will have to show that he acted callously and demonstrated an unwillingness to treat injured players. If there is a history of this, if previous injuries and/or concussions were treated in the same or worse fashion as wide receiver Adam James, then Tech made the right call. However, that appears to be far from the case. No other allegations of mistreatment from current or former players have surfaced. In fact, Tech players appear highly motivated and dedicated to their coach. These are not the results typical of players who experience ridicule and abuse.

It should also be noted that the trainers have backed Coach Leach's decision and claim to have monitored the entire situation. The accuser has shown no negative effects or further injuries from his isolated time or his incident in "the shed." In reality, "the shed" and "utility closet" described by ESPN and Craig James appear to be much more comfortable facilities than actual sheds or closets. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a more spacious room at the Lubbock Holiday Inn. The player had access to water, ice, and fans, and the door couldn't be locked from the outside. In other words, he wasn't locked in. Even the ACLU would praise these amenities.

More and more it appears the reason for firing Leach was either a personal vendetta or purely financial. Ironically, the financial fallout will be far worse from firing Leach. Leach has brought national recognition to a school's football program that wasn't even on the radar a few years ago. He has clearly helped bring in millions of dollars that frankly make the $800,000 bonus the university is "saving" look like chump change. That money and recognition will disappear as Tech returns to its place as an also-ran in the Big 12 without a top tier coach. Sure, they might have a winning season every now and then, but no one is going to be talking about them in the same sentence as Texas or Oklahoma again, not to mention TCU.

I'm not Mike Leach's biggest fan. I think he's arrogant and cocky. But that's also one of his greatest strengths. He uses that to build confidence in his players, players who usually aren't as talented as the big schools, but play hard to make up for what they lack in skills or size. Leach has made Texas Tech a household name and has sent several players on to successful careers in the NFL. All that is now down the drain thanks to the James family.

Unless new charges surface, Leach will win a big settlement against Texas Tech and land on his feet somewhere else. Perhaps even the NFL. As for Adam James, who was on a questionable scholarship to begin with, here' s betting you will never hear from this loser again.

UPDATE: In the first paragraph, I originally wrote forty years instead of fifty. Please pardon my Homer Simpson math skills. The error has been corrected.