I’m going to be writing a 3-part series of posts entitled “2006 Year in Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ridiculous”. I’m posting them in reverse order, though, so that once all three are out, you can read from top to bottom and it will read correctly. Plus, that saves the best for last. So, without further ado, here are my picks for the most ridiculous things of 2006.
On May 1st, the issue of illegal immigration became the subject of a massive rally. Across the nation, legal and illegal immigrants did not show up for work, but rather took to the streets to march for “immigrant rights.” It infuriates me greatly how much this issue is misrepresented. First of all, no one (generally speaking - there are bigots everywhere) doesn’t want legal immigrants here. From Germany to Japan to Mexico to Brazil, from Poland to South Africa to France, any legal immigrant is welcome, as well they should. What the proponents of illegal immigration are doing is equating illegal aliens with legal immigrants. It is true, we are a nation of immigrants - but with the current situation in the world, forcing foreign nationals to abide by our immigration procedures seems to me to be a simple security no-brainer.
Thankfully, this day did not achieve what it set out to achieve. Many groups of people made a point of purchasing lots of goods, and patronizing businesses that were open on that day. In fact, as one pundit points out, the main point of the protests (that America’s economy needs illegals working in it) was proved false. And, in the last month, raids at Swift meatpacking plants have proved this again, as hundreds of legal Americans are applying for the jobs that are now open. (Note that in that last story, they still use the term “undocumented workers” - grrrr!)
Back in March, allegations were made by a stripper who performed at a party for the Duke University lacrosse team that she had been raped by three people at the party. There were many, many overreactions to this charge, as there always seem to be when sexual allegations occur - the accused become guilty until proven innocent. The season was canceled, and the coach resigned. As news began to leak about the case, allegations were made that the accuser was less than honest, and had actually had consensual sex later in the evening - hardly what a rape victim would do. There was also news that DNA collected did not match any of the accused lacrosse players.
This month, the stripper has had a child - a child whose DNA does not match any of the accused. District Attorney Mike Nifong has now dropped the charges. At the time, he had been accused of filing these charges as an election-year stunt; and now that some have been dropped, those who made those accusations have been at least partially proved right. However, none of this gives the team back what was taken from them; and, these baseless accusations of rape only serve to weaken the charge against the next alleged perp - a perp who might actually have done something illegal.
(Links: None - this is a family website!)
It was a banner year for the paparazzi, who managed to not only continue their tradition of invasive photographs of celebrities, but also photograph the nether regions of Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, and Britney Spears. While none of these women have been role models for many, many years, I guess they are now serving as role models - of what not to do. I don’t follow pop culture all that closely (although I have been known to catch an episode or two of Best Week Ever) - much of it seems to bring one question to my mind, over and over again, that being “who cares?” But for those of us with children, who want them raised apart from this, we have to care a little.
That’s not really all the things I found ridiculous about 2006 - but, those are the biggest ones that came to mind. Here’s hoping the list is smaller in 2007.
V for Vendetta, the latest film from the brothers who brought The Matrix to the big screen, hit theatres this past Friday. The movie has generated hyper-hype from both the left and the right. I had the occasion to view this film on Friday, and I’ll have to say that the film did not live up to the hype on either side. This is a good thing - because of this, I found it to be a very entertaining film.
The plot can be spun to sound like the most rabid anti-Bush conspiracy theory out there. The scene is 20 years after 9/11, where the U. S. has collapsed, and Britain has been overtaken by a Christian government whose iron fist looks similar to that of the former U. S. S. R. The state-run television station spins the news the way the government wants, and their city-wide surveillance and announcement system makes Britain’s current CCTV setup look amateur. The government has imposed a militant Christian law, in the mold of some of today’s current militant Islamic countries. Of course, though, the entire government is corrupt - their Christian beliefs are only used to keep the people in fear. (I’ll stop there so as not to give up the plot for those of you who may wish to see it.)
Enter “V”. He is inspired by Guy Fawkes, a 16th-century man who was arrested while trying to blow up Parliament. Throughout the film, we come to understand V’s motivation for planning to do what Guy Fawkes could not. The government consistently refers to V as a “terrorist,” which is a term he embraces as well. This does not deter him from his goal, however; it only emboldens him as he goes on not only the populist “vendetta” of blowing up Parliament, but a personal vendetta against those who are responsible for his motivation.
Given what I’ve laid out above, it’s not a stretch to think that it’s a commentary on the Bush administration. (As a matter of fact, the original book could not have been - it was written in the late 70’s about Margaret Thatcher’s administration in Britain.) But, as a Republican and a fan of the Bush administration, I wasn’t offended by the plot line. Apart from the “conservative” label of the oppressive government, there was no resemblance to the Bush administration (or the Clinton, Bush, or Reagan administrations). Maybe, if you believe every one of the paranoid conspiracy theories, and if you assume that anyone with an ® beside their name hates everyone except heterosexual white people - just maybe you might be able to see some of our country’s leadership in the ficticious British government. Personally, I don’t think that our country would ever get to this point - the people would rise up long before that and squash the totalitarian regime.
Again, if you haven’t seen this film yet, be careful about following these links - some contain spoilers…
On the left, the commentary has been just atrocious. In particular, I sam an MTV News special called “Unmasked” (link is near the top of the first page), in which Gideon Yago and Natalie Portman interviewed some young people about the film. These kids had swallowed the liberal ideology hook, line, and sinker; and Hugo Weaving’s (Agent Smith from The Matrix and Elrond in the Lord of the Rings trilogy) views were even worse. In Natalie Portman’s defense, she said that she didn’t think the film, even with it’s updated screenplay, was necessarily a commentary on any particular administration; rather, it was an illustration that unscrupulous people on either side of the political aisle could create problems. On the right, we’ve got lots of hyperbole as well. I remember hearing about this movie over 3 months ago, as a “here they go again, glorifying terrorists” type of report. More recently, Townhall.com’s Megan Basham (who, by the way, I normally agree with - and, I love the fact that she’s a movie critic whose last name sounds like “bash 'em”) has a scathing review of the film, where she decries the glorification of a “terrorist”.
One review I’ve read that pretty much gets it right is the one from Focus on the Family’s Plugged In online magazine. Their review of V for Vendetta gives a plot synopsis, and lists both positive elements (which he does pick up on) and content that parents may find objectionable (this being a somewhat intense R-rated movie, there is some of that for them to chroincle.) The reviewer also brings up some good points about both the implications in the film, and the questions that it raises. My kudos to Adam Holz for a great open-minded review of this film.
For me, what I took away from the film was… well, … nothing new. The story was interesting, the movie was well-done, and the special effects were pretty cool. But, as I said, the government was such a caricature of any conservative government that I would support that I didn’t identify myself (or my political beliefs) as being part of the villainous government. This government really looked like the U. S. S. R. to me; and who wouldn’t support someone who was fighting for the overthrow of that type of oppressive government? Yes, V (the character) has some issues, especially with his personal vendetta against those people who had abused him. Their murders were little more than vengeance killings, and aren’t right at all.
To say something along the lines of “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” is flat-out wrong. You’re only a freedom fighter if you’re on the side freedom. The terrorists that attacked our country on 9/11 were not fighting for their freedom - they were attempting to instill terror in us. The colonists in this country who threw the Boston Tea Party were considered terrorists by the British empire - were they wrong to stage this demonstration of their belief that taxation without representation is wrong? V certainly doesn’t have all the answers - but the questions it raises are important ones, and ones that we all should ponder - especially in our current world. Do we have the fortitude to stand up against a government like that? Should we?
While on vacation last week, I had the opportunity to finish a book I started over Christmas vacation - Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terror by Ann Coulter. In it, she meticulously (and I mean meticulously - there are 877 footnotes throughout 292 printed pages) details how the left, liberals, Democrats (pick your favorite label); these folks have been wrong about almost every foreign policy decision they’ve made over the last 50 years. (Today, another revelation occurred that, to me, shows that it hasn’t stopped yet - but more on that later.)
The book starts with a look at Alger Hiss and Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy is probably one of the most unfairly maligned people in United States history - especially since, within the last decade, declassified Soviet cables (intercepted by the Venona Project) have proved his allegations true. First, she makes the excellent point that Senator Joe McCarthy had nothing to do with the House Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC). Instead, his modest job was to identify loyalty risks serving in sensitive positions. He was very good at his job, and identified several people that needed to be moved - not fired, not tried for treason and hanged, just moved out of the sensitive positions where they were currently.
Over the past 50+ years, the left has consistently been for containment, appeasement, and has been more than willing to cede portions of our national security to keep us from having to fight wars. I can’t recall who said it, but the gist of it was “If these folks were just stupid, the laws of chance would dictate that they’d occasionally be right!” One paragraph (on page 154 of the paperback edition) summarizes just how duped they were in the Cold War, while debunking the claim that Truman’s policies actually won the Cold War, it just took until Reagan’s administration for them to work.
To review the record, as part of Truman’s yeoman work on the Cold War, he cooperated with the Soviets at the Nuremberg Trials, white-washing their joint aggression with Hitler under the Nazi-Soviet Pact. He looked the other way when the Soviet Union murdered three million Russian prisoners of war returned home by the Allies. On his watch, the Soviet army consolidated its control over nine countries, China became a Communist dictatorship, and tens of millions of people were murdered under Communist tyrannies. Truman defended Communist spy Alger Hiss as a patriot who was framed by Republicans, and he tried to indict Whittaker Chambers for perjury. He refused to remove members of his administration identified to him by J. Edgar Hoover and others as Communist agents, including Harry Dexter White, whom Truman appointed to U. S. representative of the IMF. Among the Soviet spies advising Truman on China was Frank Coe, who refused to answer the question: “Are you a Soviet agent, Mr. Coe?” Soon thereafter Coe fled to Communist China, where he became a top policy-maker to Chairman Mao, helping the Chinese murder tens of millions of their own people. Truman was considered such a dupe of the Communists that the Army refused to tell him about the Venona Project. And that’s how Truman won the Cold War!
Ann continues in other chapters to discuss the Bay of Pigs invasion, where we went back on our word by not supporting the Communist resitance there when Castro had very little power; Vietnam, where we were starting to make progress until a Democrat-controlled Congress used Watergate as an excuse to leave before winning; Grenada, where we went in and defeated Communism over a weekend; the Cold War, where an arms race did prove to be the way to bankrupt the Soviet economy; Iraq, where the same arguments once used against Vietnam and Grenada were once again being brought up, but yet we prevailed (not by appeasement, or inspections, but through force); and North Korea, where recent adminstrations have dropped the ball, but the current one is taking a strong stand.
While those who know Ann Coulter know that she simply delights in shredding the left to pieces, the content of this book is much more important that her amusing delivery method. What this book shows is that, using the 20/20 benefits of hindsight, the left’s approach to defending our country only makes us weaker. When the decision was made to not prosecute Jane Fonda for her treasonous actions during the Vietnam War, the message was sent that this country wasn’t interested in prosecuting anyone for these types of actions. So, Hollywood and the media have been more than willing to participate in this as well - which brings us to today’s happenings.
Last week, Newsweek magazine ran a story that claimed that, as an interrogation technique, the Army had flushed a copy of the Koran down a toilet. This caused riots in Afghanistan, where 15 people have been killed and over 100 injured. Today, they ran another article where they said that their source for that piece of information is now unsure that that’s what happened. (Separately, they have claimed that this is not a retraction of the story.) So, what we’ve got here is an international news magazine including uncorroborated hearsay from a single source in a story, claiming it as fact. I have several problems with this.
First, didn’t Newsweek learn anything from the CBS News / Bush ANG document fiasco? The public deserves better, and our troops on the ground certainly deserve better fact-checking before they have to contain riots for no good reason.
Second, why was Newsweek so eager to run this part of the story? I believe it’s the same reason that CBS News ran with the Bush ANG story - they wanted terribly for it to be true. For all their accusations, it’s the left in this country that doesn’t seem to realize that the “War on Terror” is not a “War on Islam”. They want us to disrespect Islam, so then they can say they were right.
Third, this bad decision has placed our military in harm’s way. Iraq is not the only place we’ve got a military presence, training locals to take over their own security. Afghanistan is farther along than Iraq, but we’re still there. With claims like this, even if they are true, publicizing them as some scandalous new revelation gives aid and comfort to our enemies. All they need is one story like this to fire them up for days - and now, not only have they given the opposition the morale boost, 15 people are dead because of it. There’s no way that either the reporter or the editors will be tried for either treason or murder - but I believe a case could be made for either of those charges.
Finally, what does it matter if they did do it? I’m not a student of Islam, but as a Christian, I believe the Bible is the holy, inspired Word of God. Any feeble attempt by man to eliminate it is simple futility - others have attempted to destroy God’s Word, and have had little success. Flushing paper and ink down a toilet does not come anywhere close to destroying it - only that copy. I would think that Muslims would feel the same way about their holy book - but, I may be wrong. I don’t see what it would hurt, though - these terrorists already call us the Great Satan!
If you have the opportunity, pick up Ann’s book at the store or library, and read through it. It’s a great analysis of conflicting foreign policy over the last 50 years - and, it’s fun to read to boot!
I am just sick up to the top of my neck with prime time programming’s incessant infatuation with homosexuality. The latest egregious display was at the end of last night’s Law and Order, where Serena, the Assistant D. A. played by Elizabeth Rohm, was fired. Throughout the four years she’s been on the show, we’ve really seen nothing of her family. After being told to pack her things, she replies, “Is this because I’m a lesbian?” Now granted, the writers hadn’t developed her character out enough for anyone to know whether this was true or not, but why bring it into the last episode? It wasn’t even a very good scene - it seemed unnatural for Ms. Rohm (and I have no idea if she actually is gay or not - doesn’t really matter to me).
Now, in re-runs, it won’t be consuming me - I really have no obsession over knowing someone’s (or even a fictional character’s) sexual proclivities. But, the principle of it left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and this “ambush homosexuality” will tint my view of her character when I see re-runs on A&E or TNT. (I’m also a little disappointed that Fred Thompson was part of that scene, but that’s just something I’ll have to get over, I suppose…) I watch ER too, and they have a required gay character - but at least they’ve developed the character; and, whether I agree with the statements the character made or not, it wasn’t something just thrown up in the audience’s face at the last minute.
I sure hope that future “farewells” for folks have a bit more substance, and less statement-making…
ABC did not “sneak” that onto the airwaves - they warned their affiliates in advance, and some chose not to carry the network’s programming that evening. When the movie came back from commercials, there was a warning each time that the program contained strong violence and language. It was rated “TV-MA (LV)” which indicated that it was not suitable for children (and so that V-chip programmed TVs would not let the program through). And, this was not the first time ABC has aired that movie it its original uncut format - I know it has aired at least twice before (usually surrounding Memorial Day), and I believe the first time, it was aired commercial-free. Why this showing seems to have generated such controversy, I’m not quite sure.
I would venture to say that the men that this film portrays are not the ones offended. True, the film has coarse language, but so did many of the folks in the Greatest Generation. And, while the language in the film was quite strong, I can’t remember a single instance that was sexually oriented. This is also not the first time a network has aired an “uncensored” program - I remember when I was growing up, CBS aired the program “Scared Straight”, which was filled with rather strong language.
The AFA usually does some great work, but in this case, they’re missing the point. More than that, rather than allowing ABC’s honoring of our veterans to receive the focus, they are going to get the focus instead, and most of it is going to be something along the lines of “These Christians are at it again, trying to tell us what to do.” It’s always wise, in most things, to “pick your battles” - only choose the ones that matter, and I don’t think that this was a wise choice, especially given the fact that we have folks making similar sacrifices today.
John Kerry - I can’t believe that we have an anti-war activist running for President who is actually being taken seriously. I also can’t believe that the self-same anti-war activist is running for President on his war record. I guess now that the military is back in vogue, the Democrats like it.
Gov. Jim McGreevey - At least he has more respect for the state of New Jersey that Bill Clinton had for the nation. Although it’s now coming out (no pun intended) that the cause is corruption more than his penchant for those of like gender, his stepping down is the right decision. (He is muddying the issue with his “I am a gay American” schtick - that link has a very interesting take on that part of the situation.) I think he should step down immediately, though, rather than his political ploy of not stepping down until after the election.
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth - Keep on keepin’ on. McCain-Feingold is unconstitutional, and will be ruled as such by the time the next election rolls around. It’s amazing that no one was upset when these 527 groups accused President Bush of poisoning pregnant women (a charge that is repeated on the Democrats’ own web site [scroll to the bottom]), but let them use facts to challenge something a Senator says, and now they need to shut up. (Still no call for moveon.org to stop their ads…)
President Bush vs. Catwoman - Sharon Stone recently said that because of President Bush, there wasn’t a lesbian kiss between she and Halle Berry in the movie Catwoman. I’m not quite sure I buy that - why would arch-enemies be kissing in the first place? And, if our President could control Hollywood, wouldn’t he be using that control to silence the hateful drivel from Michael Moore and his ilk? Sharon Stone has had plenty of opportunities to play oversexed bisexual characters (in fact, wasn’t that her first big role, in Basic Instinct?).