Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Warm Fuzzies

This country is suffering from an emotional meltdown.

In the age of Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, opinion polls on news outlet websites and reality courtroom TV shows, emotion has become king. It seems the question any reporter nowadays asks at the very start of any interview is, “How did this make you feel?” Televangelists manipulate congregations and viewers, cracking their voices with emotion at just the right moment to bring the donations crashing in. Anchors like Jane Velez Mitchell and Nancy Grace manage to insinuate in their broadcasts that the beauty and age of a victim of violent crime contribute to the heinous nature of said crime (i.e. the more beautiful the victim and/or the younger they are, the more evil the murder.) An acquaintance of mine saw George Stephanopolous on the news one day, and commented that she liked his reporting because he was “such a nice-looking man.” Also, splattered all over the news are stories of Herman Cain and Michael Jackson's doctor: the former deals with the court of public opinion convicting as guilty a presidential candidate without very solid evidence but only on a gut emotion of distaste; the latter deals with a real courtroom case that has been sullied by calls for a guilty verdict by Jackson fans and supporters, who are quite ready to punish Dr. Conrad Murray regardless of whether he killed the singer or not.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Opinion Vs. Truth

Rush Limbaugh
In my rather short experience regarding talk radio, be it conservative or liberal, I have detected an overarching trend that all talk shows on the radio dial exhibit, It is not that these shows all spew lies and deceit for the entirety of their running time. Few of them do that. On the contrary, many of these shows utilize the same news stories, talk about the same subjects, cite the same facts and figures, and generally agree on the facts of the latest headlines. However, it is here that the truth in many respects ends. Listeners are not listening to talk radio to hear the facts; they are listenng to hear the host's interpretation of the facts.

How trustworthy are these interpretations? It depends. The modern political talk show world is plagued with agendas, left and right. Glenn Beck would have you believe that the world will end with Barack Obama's second term and that George Soros controls everything on the left. Neal Boortz would have you believe that killing a child is a womn's personal decision and a right to be protected. And finally, the "doctor of democracy," the god of the radio talk show universe Rush Limbaugh, would have you believe that any education that does not directly tie into "job training" of one sort or another is a monumentally idiotic waste of time and money.

The other hosts' contentions put aside, Rush Limbaugh's assertion regarding education, particularly the liberal arts, strikes a powerfully sour note with me. If you will recall, in my Thanksgiving post I gave thanks for a fantastic liberal arts education that has gotten me several of the jobs that I have held in my lifetime. I hold a B.A. in English Literature and it was worth every penny. But I would rather give Martin Cothran the intellectual floor here and point you all to an excellent article he wrote published to Memoria Press's web site. He does a fantastic job of disassembling Limbaugh's senseless rant against a liberal arts education. It is worth the read.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Apologies

I apologize for the lack of posting here over the past couple days. My grandfather, a wonderful gentlemanly man of 74 years, just died the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I have been down south visiting with him and the rest of my extended family and have simply not had the chance to put coherent hands to the keyboard in the interim.

There will be new stuff here going forward, since this blip looks to be pretty much over. Again, my apologies.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An Un-Traditionally Traditional Thanksgiving

Last year, my wife and I decided that our Thanksgivings had become far too much about the food and the place settings and everything looking and feeling just right. The striving for a “traditional” Thanksgiving day itinerary was overwhelming the true purpose of the day. It ended up too many times with one woman doing all the cooking and with everyone else hanging out and enjoying themselves. The stress potential for that one woman was amazingly high.

So, instead of my wife cooking everything and decorating a table and everyone sitting down all at once to eat, we made the whole day a “life appreciation” day. That meant that we both cooked, tasted, ate in undefined “courses”, laughed, went out later to shop and have fun, and overall just reveled in being together and the fact that we had money to put such food into our bellies.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Video Promo!

We have a new video promo! It's a little fun, a little cheesy, a little simple, and just about right.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Politics of Non-Accountability

An interesting take on the issue of torture from Andrew Cohen in this article here from The Atlantic. His immediate jump to blaming Obama for the problem may be a stretch and a half, but the rest of the argument makes a whole lot of sense. The main issue anyways is accountability, of which there is way too little of these days in the likes of Washington D.C.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

America's Last Just War

U.S.S. West Virginia burns after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
My DVD shelf at home exhibits a wide variety of topics and genres, from romantic comedy to thrillers, and yet if you were to canvass the content of said DVD shelf with respect to how much money was spent on each genre, the war genre would most definitely top the list.

The genre of World War II movies, to be precise.

No, it's not because I'm a sucker for blood and gore (although war and war movies tend to produce prodigious amounts of both), nor is it because I need a patriotic rush every now and then (which seems to be the reason behind the making of Captain America.) I own war movies of that kind both for the stories of greatness and tragedy that they contain, but also to remind myself who we are and why we fight wars, and which ones to not fight.

But thinking on my buying habits concerning movies focusing on World War II, I think I stumbled on something interesting. It seems that my fascination for this particular war is hardly unique. In fact, it exists and persists almost universally in (male) America today. The evidence for this is everywhere, from Stephen Ambrose's many books on the topic, to the endless number of video games that depict various battles of World War II. I live not 30 miles from one of the most beautiful World War II monuments ever built, the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA. It is a relatively new construction of staggering emotional complexity and artistry, dedicated shortly after Saving Private Ryan, a film about the D-Day invasion, hit theaters. Saving Private Ryan was quickly followed by a string of World War II films, notable among them being Band of Brothers and The Pacific, as well as Pearl Harbor.

Why the mystique? What makes World War II so especially memorable? A comparable number of soldiers died in battle in World War I, and yet many Americans hardly know the events of the war that set the stage for World War II. Why is that?

I offer here my humble opinion on the subject: I put forward for consideration the idea that World War II is the war of choice for study and dramatization because it holds little to no controversial value in terms of the justice of the Allied cause. In fact, I will go as far as to say that World War II could very well have been America's last great morally justified war.

Consider it for a second: on America's side there was no preemptive strike of any kind, nor did we actively push for war with either Japan or Germany. Those are two very important factors, especially for the perception of a war in hindsight. It takes the greater part of the onus of explanation and justification off the United States.

To bolster that fact even further, let us first look at the Japanese side of the conflict: we were brutally attacked at Pearl harbor with little warning from Japanese leadership, with whom we were in peace negotiations with at the time. In other words, Japan was saying one thing and planning and doing something quite different, attempting to hold us up in peace talks while the Imperial Navy knocked out any and all of America's ability to wage war at sea. The attack on Pearl Harbor thus became a morally ironclad reason to go to war, perceived as such at the time and ever after as well.

The other side of the equation, Nazi Germany, was a somewhat different affair but the ending was the same. Instead of attacking us, however, Adolf Hitler took the next most self-destructive action and simply formally declared war on the United States. Our case would have been a little harder to make otherwise.

Then of course there remains the indisputable evil of Nazism and the horror of the “Final Solution.” Most sane people cannot harbor any remorse they may have had for Hitler's dashed dreams when they see pictures of Dachau and Auschwitz. The skinny limbs and hollow faces of Jewish corpses evoke too strong of a reaction to be forgotten that easily. It was then and remains to this day an evil worth fighting to destroy. In a similar vein, the horror of Japanese occupation and treatment of prisoners lends a powerful moral argument to the righteousness of America's cause.

The fact is that no one seems to look back at World War II and declaim against the involvement of the United States in the conflict. We more look back for a fresh perspective on the war and how it was fought, not necessarily why it was fought. The reason why we fought is culturally accepted in the United States as good.

I think we are in a healthier place now in our view of the Second World War than we were immediately following it. The films of the late forties and fifties generally depict the war as all guts and glory on the Allied side, death as a noble and bloodless thing, and the American fighting man as close to a demigod in the rightness of his cause. We know a bit better now, as the film Saving Private Ryan suggests with its horrifically real portrayal of the assault on Normandy beach. Heroism was involved, yes. However, we now can accept the soldiers who fought in the war as human beings with courage and cowardice.

All in all, it makes a compelling case for the continued fascination with the last epic global conflict. Never again, it seems, would we live in a world that was so patently divided into good and evil and in which the good fought the evil the old-fashioned way.

Our modern world of the 21st century being so muddied up in its morals, alliances, and pursuits, maybe having such a war to reflect back on does our nation some good.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sometimes It Just Happens

The title pretty much says it all. My favorite is Bill Clinton alternating between falling asleep and nodding intelligently. The guy who put this together really should tack Rick Perry's "oops" moment on the end. Enjoy!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Word of Warning to Mr. Andy Dean

This past Tuesday, conservative radio talk show personality Andy Dean spoke at length about the new report concerning Iran and its nuclear program. Okay, “spoke” may not be quite the word I am looking for to describe what he did. “Rant” would be closer to the truth.

Mr. Dean ranted at length about the freshly gleaned information that supposedly proved Iran's intent and designs for acquiring nuclear weapons. He spoke of how dangerous nuclear weapons would be in the hands of a maniac like Ahmadinejad, who they were likely to be used against, the growing threat of nuclear proliferation, and the need for a military strike against Iran before those weapons are used. On the last point he was particularly adamant: Iran must be hit by somebody's bombs, either ours or Israel's, and it must be hit soon before it is too late. This is on top of his insistence on our continuation of military action in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the expansion of the global “war on terror.”


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Good Olde Alternative Energy

Both my father and I are in the business of manufacturing electronics, and it gives one quite a different perspective on the problems facing manufacturers and factories than those people who know nothing of the process. Especially when those problems involve the government coming in with a loan to invest in an alternative energy company. Conservative talk show hosts can shout about the government picking winners and losers and loss of economic freedom all they want, but I don't think in the end that is really where the most interesting and fatal issues lie. The real problems begin with the actual manufacturing process involved, the philosophy of how these new alternative energy systems will be utilized, and the expectations placed on them.

Here is an excellent article explaining all of these issues in reference to the ongoing debacle of energy company Solyndra, and which argument against the Department of Energy loan is the truest one.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Moving Forward...Towards Something!

Conservatives confuse me.

I don't say that in a thoughtless or sarcastic sort of way. They genuinely confuse me sometimes. I hear plenty of talk coming from the conservative radio/blogosphere side of the political argument about Obama, how horrible he is, how bad the economy is, how it's all his fault, how government is over-regulating business, and how we are losing our freedoms one by one.

And they always end with the same argument: that liberals are keeping the country from “moving forward.” In fact, one of the slogans of the Fox Business Network is, you guessed it, “Moving Forward.” The president and his administration need to get out of the way of the American people, in order to allow them to “move forward.”

I have one question: what IS forward? Which way is forward, and where will it take us to? I would assume that when one moves forward, one is moving towards something, a goal of some sort. In the end, in my opinion, “moving forward” may sound nice, but it barely means anything at all on closer inspection. And it seems no prominent conservative cares to explain what it means. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Few Words Concerning Executive Decision Making...

Jason Lewis - Picture by Genesis Communications Network.
License Info here.

I was intrigued and ultimately floored when I read the news about Al-Awlaki and the circumstances of his killing by a U.S. unmanned drone strike. There was a distaste I had for the operation that I vaguely understood but needed complete clarity on, so naturally I went in search of wiser minds to help explain. This article here is a piece written by political author and talk show host Jason Lewis, one of the most balanced minds in the talk show business and the calmest articulator of the limited government argument I have heard so far.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

War and (No) Peace

Protest against Qaddafi -Photo by William Murphy
License Info here.
On October 20th 2011, the hunt for one of the world's more brutal and stubborn dictators came to an abrupt end when U.S. and French airpower stopped Moammar Qaddafi's convoy, allowing Libyan rebels to capture and kill their former ruler. Qaddafi was brutally beaten and manhandled, and finally shot numerous times before he died, defiant to the end. On the same day, President Barack Obama delivered a speech to the American people, beginning by extolling the new opportunity in Libya for free and democratic self-determination and ending by invoking the memory of Americans lost to the Qaddafi regime and the hope of a bright future for the Libyan nation.

I can't help feeling oddly left out by all sides. I consider myself obliged to ask what should be the glaringly obvious question: why were we ever involved in the Libyan civil war in the first place?
We have been currently fighting in Iraq for eight years now. The war in Afghanistan is two years older than that. We have spent billions of dollars on both wars in fighting, training, equipping, and rebuilding. Our losses total over four thousand, and that's not counting the physical and mental damage of the wounded. As if that wasn't enough, as a nation we are deeply in debt to just about everyone with no end to the printing of money in sight. We have no money to spend on extra things. Our political and social problems at home also remain unresolved, with youth taking to the streets in cities across the nation, a divided congress that has not passed a real budget in a frighteningly long time, and a jobs crisis that simply refuses to disappear.