Sociable

Monday, November 14, 2011

My sincerest apologies

I have had very little time to devote to the blog.  I try to take my time and give you a blog worth reading, and I just can't do that between work, Army training, and starting up my new 13-piece band, Knight Shift.  Find me on Facebook!
I will return to the blog as soon as I am able, especially as the Presidential Election gets into full gear.
GO NEWT!!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies A People

Okay, so my fiance Tess is taking a Multicultural course as part of her masters program.  And an assignment was to watch this video......
The full video can be found here.....
Reel Bad Arabs
http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/reel-bad-arabs/

I watched it with her tonight and then, after coming home watched it again with a critical eye... here is my review.


The webpage accompanying Dr. Jack Shaheen’s “documentary” Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, states “By inspiring critical thinking about the social, political, and basic human consequences of leaving these Hollywood caricatures unexamined, the film challenges viewers to recognize the urgent need for counter-narratives….”

However, there is no critical thinking involved in the movie.  It is one sided and terribly biased.  At times it takes comedies and tries to illustrate that they are serious and at other times it negates the fact that Arab groups, individuals, and movements have proudly taken actions he considers
‘unfair stereotypes’.
Part I – Intro
First of all, inasmuch as this is an advertisement for a book Dr. Jack Shaheen (the “documentarian”) has written, there is obviously no objectivity.  It is for this reason he never addresses movies like The Kite Runner or Lawrence of Arabia that show Arabs is an even-handed light.
Only 24 seconds into the film, he begins equating Hollywood’s (Westerners’) views towards Arabs with those of the Nazi’s towards the Jews - an obviously ad hominem argument, a fallacy often referred to as “Playing the Nazi card” or “Reductio ad Hitlerum” – it makes all further contentions of
the “documentarian” suspect at best, but we must press on with an open mind.
He states that he has studied “more than 1000 films” (2:05m) – the majority of those movies must have had white guys as the villain.  I would like to see the statistical evidence of how often an Arab is portrayed as the villain in contrast to a Westerner.  At the end of this review I will make a list of villains, and see what I can come up with.

The Myths of Arabland (3:21m)
The “documentarian” sets up a false premise that ‘all movies dealing with Arabs have a certain set of ‘fabricated’ images’ – ominous music, desert…etc.

1)      Ominous Music – Nearly all movies have ominous
music at one point or another

2)      “Desert, always the desert” – inasmuch as any movie dealing with Arabs most likely will take place in Egypt (97% desert) Saudi Arabia (80% desert) Syria (70% desert) Iraq (29% desert) Iran -formerly called “Persia”- (50% semi-arid or desert), odds are the events will
take place in a desert.

3)      “Desert as a threatening place” A desert can be considered nothing but a dangerous and threatening place.  Lack of water for a human is the quickest route to a non-violent death.  A desert by its very nature is life-threatening to humans. The description of the oasis is merely a geographical reality, not sure how it reflects on Arabs in general.
4)       “The palace that has the torture chamber in the basement… the Pasha sitting on his posh cushions with maidens surrounding him, none of the maidens please him, so they abduct a blonde woman from the west who doesn’t want to be seduced…”  It seems he is taking a very specific plot from a handful of movies and attributing it to ALL movies about Arabs – again,
the scarecrow argument.
5)      Belly dancing and scimitars – is he suggesting that there are no belly dancers in the Middle East, or that earlier Arabic warriors didn’t use scimitars – what would he prefer an Arab fighter to be shown with? An AK-47 assault rifle?

6)      Flying magic carpets and snake charmers – refer to #4.  I don’t believe every Arab
movie shows these, nor do the majority – yet he sets this up as a ‘typical’ view of Arabs.

(5:25m) “Aladdin
– the story of Aladdin was taken from the 14th Century SYRIAN fables “One Thousand and One Nights” – as dictated to Antoine Galland by Youhenna Diab “Hanna” – an Arab Syrian storyteller.  It’s hard to make an argument that Aladdin is a white man’s stereotype of Arabs when the original story came from an Arab.

            (5:50m)
“They cut off your ear if they don’t like your face” that line was removed after the movie was released - exactly FOR the cultural sensitivities he espouses.  In his desire to vilify the white producers, he neglects to mention this. The replaced line was, “where it's flat and immense, and the heat is intense."  The perception of Arabic ‘barbarism’ (a perfectly chosen word, since it comes from the Greek word for the Persians - meaning “not Greek” or “not civilized) is born of the fact that some Arabs will cut off the hand of a thief, they will not touch another with the left hand since that is the hand they wipe themselves with, Sharia law calls for the stoning death of an adulteress…etc..etc… actions that are, indeed, uncivilized to Western eyes.  It is not derogatory; it is a statement of fact.  To Western eyes, such actions are uncivilized and barbaric.

(6:40) “Arabs as buffoons” Referring to an obscure and disregarded movie such as “The Happy Hooker” does little to boost his argument, unless he’s also suggesting that a prostitute would be called into a Congressional hearing.  Hollywood “buffoons” come in all shapes and sizes, Gomer Pyle, Barney Fife, Larry the Cable Guy, Forrest Gump, Sancho Panza, Bill & Ted, Wayne & Garth…on and on.  At the same time, in any number of the movies he alludes to (and others he avoids) Arabs are seen as skillful and intelligent.  Although in movies such as The Siege, Kingdom of Heaven, or Black Hawk Down, those Arabs skills are used to a malevolent ends other movies, such as Lawrence of Arabia are not nearly so malicious.  Either way, it cannot be said that Arabs are consistently or exclusively shown as buffoons.
Portrayal of Arab Women

(8:00m) He then lists a number of movies in which women are treated as chattel (Cannonball Run2, Jewel of the Nile, Protocol, Never Say Never Again and Sahara).  Although few Hollywood movies are NOT built upon hyperbole, does this not reflect the FACT that women are considered “less” than men in Arab cultures.  The Sharia-following Taliban government in Afghanistan (pre-2003) forbade women from going to school, learning to read, leaving the house without a male escort, speaking to any man without her husband’s permission, wearing anything more revealing than a hijab or burka.  It maybe unpleasant to face such facts, but exaggerated or not, women are considered little more than animals in many Arab cultures.  Later in the movie he speaks of how Arab women of today are “exceeding in all professions”(12:50m).  Do I have to ask if that includes the Sharia-ruled countries where women are not allowed to go to school or learn how to read?  A clip of Indiana Jones is used to show how the image of Arabic women are “locked in the past”(13:42m), yet in this example, the movie is set in the 1930’s. A modern woman of any culture would be out of place.

Immediately following this tirade of how Arab women are not treated as intelligent, he bemoans how recently Arab women are ‘projected as a bomber… a terrorist.”  (13:15m) This recent change in perception has followed the recent inclusion of women as suicide bombers and jihadists.  You might say in this case art is imitating life, not visa-versa.

When he moves on to attacking “Father of the Bride 2” (10:58m) I realized how much he was relying on comedies.  This is hardly a credible argument for “typical treatment of Arabs” any more than Larry The Cable Guy is illustrative of all white guys, or any of Adam Sandler’s characters are “typical Jews”… the intent of some comedy is the absurdity of exaggeration.  All cultures are subject to the exaggerations of extreme when dealing with comedies.  Have you never seen a drunken Irishman used as a joke in a film?  Or a stupid white guy in an episode of Roseanne?  

“Gladiator” – slave traders who take Russell Crowe back to Rome are Arabs. (11:46m) 

Fact1 - Arab slave trade took place during the Roman Empire, and this scene, in all likelihood, is factually accurate.  When the author claims that Hollywood is “injecting Arabs” in movies “having nothing to do with the Middle East” (12:10m) he is showing an ignorance of the worldwide trade of the Roman Empire during the time.  The Romans traded with Arabs, and they traded with Arabs for slaves and gladiators.  The movie is factually correct.
Fact 2 – The only countries in the world in which slave trade still takes place on a wide scale are Sudan, Mauritania, Niger, Mali and Chad – all countries claiming the sanctioning of slavery by Islam.  Today, the country with the largest human slave trade is Indonesia – which is also the country most populated by Muslims.  To portray Arabs and Muslims as slave traders is not some conjured “slur” against Arabs and Muslims, only an accurate portrayal of their culture.
The Arab Threat: Mideast Politics & Hollywood (13:49m)

Dr. Shaheen tries to assert that Arabs have been singled out for the villain role in American movies - specifically Network (16:20m).  Seeing a culture, any culture as an enemy is nothing new, and it is not limited to Arabs.  During WWII, it was Germans or Japanese (Kelly’s Heroes, Von Ryan’s Express, Bridge On The River Kwai…) and during the Cold War it was the Russians (Red Dawn, Failsafe…) sometimes even our own government (Dr. Strangelove, War Games, The Day After…).  Movies often reflect their times and the threats (perceived or real) of the day.  And once again, for good measure, he associates Hollywood with the Nazi’s. (17:50m)
Terror, Inc: Demonizing Palestinians and Muslims
It’s almost laughable how Shaheen condemns the Hollywood association of Palestinians with Nazi’s when he, himself, just utilized that same comparison for his purpose not two minutes before.  He states how unfair it is that Palestinians are portrayed as a people who will kill “anyone, anywhere, at any time, for any reason.”  And yet, is it not the Palestinians who suicide bomb wedding receptions, public markets, and buses of tourists or take hostages of innocent Olympic athletes  – with no concern for the number of innocent women and children being killed?  Do they not, in fact, kill anyone, anywhere, and at any time?

The documentarian states Palestinians are portrayed as a people “intent on injuring all Americans.”  This would not only be the view of Hollywood/Washington DC but has been stated as much by the Palestinians themselves in countless “fatwas” or ‘calls to war.’  Many major Muslim, Arabic, and Palestinian groups have in fact called for just this sort of attack on America, its citizens, its interests, and its allies. This is not an invention of Hollywood. The torture scene from Death Before Dishonor (the drill into the hand) (22:36m)was confirmed to be an ‘approved’ Al Qaeda torture technique when an Al Qaeda handbook was retrieved in Iraq in May of 2007 (http://science.howstuffworks.com/torture-manual.htm) “They burn an American flag…” (22:45m) Is he suggesting Arabs don’t do this?  They then “dispatch a suicide bomber to blow up [the American Embassy]” Again, is he suggesting these aren’t things Arab terrorists do?

His bringing up the obscure “Cannon Films” B-movie productions (23:17m)skirts very near the canard that America and Hollywood are ‘run by the Jews’ and was discomforting to hear, to say the least.  I had never heard of, much less seen, any of the films he portrayed as standards of American film work.

Hell Squad?  (23:39m) Really?  Along with The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington, maybe he’s making a case that really crappy, unwatched B-rate movies engage in Arabi-phobia.  Maybe he’s making a better case that he, personally, watches imbecilic, stupid, soft porn b-flicks and expects from them some deep interculturally significant message. Good Luck with that.

He claims that the movie “The Delta Force” is one of the ‘most popular and most racist’ films to project derogatory images of Arabs.  (23:50m) Unfortunately for him, the entire scenario of taking an airplane filled with people and then separating out the Jews for execution was not a Hollywood invention, but a scene repeated on numerous airplane hijackings during the 70’s including the Palestinian hijacking of Air France Flight 139 in 1976.  It was also why Leon Klinghoffer was singled out for execution during the taking of the Achille Lauro in 1985.  Rather than ‘propaganda’ as he claims, it is an accurate portrayal of what commonly took place when airline hijackings took place in the 70’s.

It is at this point that Dr. Shaheen tilts his hand to show us his underlying premise; he refers to Palestinians as a populace “under occupation.”  (25:14m) This is a short, but very telling phrase.  Saying that Palestinians are under occupation is to say the Israelis have no right to occupy Israel. 

He then goes on to ask why Hollywood cannot ‘humanize’ Palestinians the way we humanize Israelis. (25:37m) Perhaps because it is difficult to humanize any culture that condones and glorifies the wanton murder of innocents and children through suicide bombings.  Israelis, Americans, Europeans, and Westerners anguish-over and regret ANY collateral damage.  Military officers are punished and demoted if enough care is not taken to minimize civilian casualties (often at the expense of our own soldiers’ lives).  The Arabs, however, take glory and pride in larger and larger death tolls – military or civilian, it doesn’t matter.  The tactics used by terrorists (yes, I realize not all Muslims/Arabs are terrorists, but nearly all terrorists have been Mulsim/Arabic) are in fact barbaric and inhuman… it is for this reason it is difficult to ‘humanize’ a culture that embraces terrorism.
The Only Good Arab (26:07m)
A quick montage of movie posters accompanies a derisive commentary regarding movies made ‘in connection with the Department of Defense’.  You’d have to freeze frame to see which movies are highlighted, but it’s curious the ones he chose.  I did the hard work and will  present them (in order) for you…
1)      Executive Decision (1996) Arabs hijack a plane to get their leader released from American custody – reflecting the real life Palestinian “Dawson’s Field Hijackings” of Sept 1970 as well as the Palestinian hijacking of Air France Flight 139 in June of 1976, the Palestinian hijacking of Lufthansa Flight 181 in October of 1977, the hijacking of Kuwait Airways flight KU561 in February of 1982 as well as the 1985 Palestinian hijacking of EgyptAir Flight 648 (Although that type of rescue has no historical basis, the plotline of Palestinians taking hostages to get a comrad free was hardly invented by Hollywood!
2)      Death Before Dishonor (1987) An American Embassy goes lax in its security measures and is overrun by terrorists, similar to the fall of the American Embassy in Tehran in 1978
3)      Black Hawk Down (2001) It is very telling that Dr. Shaheen doesn’t address this movie directly.  Perhaps he avoids it because according to all accounts it is a very accurate telling of the events that took place in October of 1993 in Somalia.  It is difficult to argue bias and stereotype in a factually based film.
4)      Patriot Games (1992) I find it laughable that this is included in the montage as it has nothing to do with Arabs, Palestinians, or the Middle East.  The terrorists in this Tom Clancy story are members of the Irish Republican Army.
5)      Navy Seals (1990) Yes, it’s American S.E.A.L.s vs. MiddleEastern terrorists.

6)      Rules of Engagement (2000) I find it curious that Dr. Shaheen includes this movie, and in fact uses it as an example of stereotyping later in his documentary (27:02m), calling it the “most racist.”  I find it curious because throughout the majority of the movie, the Samuel Jackson character is ASSUMED to be guilty, with the presumption of innocence placed upon the Arabs.  Furthermore, much of the film shows the US government doing its damnedest to convict an American soldier who isn’t guilty of breaking the rules of engagement  - in order to be politically correct and Arab-sensitive.  I’m not sure this is the best movie to use if one is trying to show Americans as ‘hell bent’ to railroad Arabs.  It also shows the after-effects
of American bullets (not exactly showing Arabs as ‘inhuman’)

7)      True Lies (1994)  Okay another Good guys vs Bad guys in which the bad guys are Arabs.
8)      Iron Eagle (1986)  More in common with a US vs Saddam than Western vs Arab… but we might give this one to the Doctor.

There are a good 25-30 more minutes in the film, mostly repeating what has already been stated – Arabs and Palestinians are victims of propaganda and stereotyping in American films.  Nothing they do is wrong and nothing Hollywood (Westerners) have to say about them is right.
Among my friends and associates, I am one of the first to defend the Palestinians as a group (while condemning the actions of the few), but even I can’t call this “documentary” objective in any manner, much less an exercise in critical thinking.  It is a one-sided diatribe that assumes the worst in Americans and Hollywood, and sees nothing but goodness and purity in the Palestinians and Arabs.  Critical Thinking by definition should never take such an absolute view of anything!
We do ourselves a disservice to ignore facts in the pursuit of ‘understanding’ and ‘tolerance’; and the facts remain that Palestinians and Arabs cheered at the murder of thousands of innocents in the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001.  The fact remains that they have declared war on us, our country, and our culture.  The fact remains that the ‘torture’ of Abu Graib prisoners pales when compared to men being beheaded with agonizingly slow cuts of a knife as seen in Al Qaeda videos.  The fact remains that many (if not all) Arabs have customs, ideals, and beliefs that are barbaric to Western eyes and can never be explained-away or rationalized (the aforementioned beheadings and treatment of women for example).  The fact remains that until more Arabs clearly, unequivocally, and vocally condemn these barbaric customs and actions, they must accept being identified with them.
Oh yeah! The list I promised you.......
HIGHEST GROSSING FILMS IN AMERICAN HISTORY
Movie …. Enemy or Villain
1) Gone With The Wind – Poverty, Yankees, war…… no Arabs
2) Star Wars – Darth Vader, Old white guy in a black suit, the Empire (a buncha’ guys with English accents) Stormtroopers…. No Arabs, unless you want to make the leap that Sandpeople = Arabs, in that case they have a bit-part
3) The Sound of Music – White guys, namely Nazis
4) ET – The Extra-Terrestrial – The Federal Government, a buncha’ white guys in white suits, not an Arab in sight
5) The Ten Commandments – hmmmm, it does take place in the Middle East but I’m not sure if Phararoh counts as an “Arab”.. he certainly wasn’t Muslim, as Mohammed was still 6,000 years in the future
6) Titanic – Iceberg, rich white guy, class warfare… lotsa’ challenges, but no Arabs
7) Jaws – daaaa dum daaaaa dum dumdum dumdum… mmmm 1 shark 0 Arabs
8) Doctor Zhivago – Russians, Communists, or was it the Tzarists? Either way.. not a single Arab
9) The Exorcist – Lucifer, Belzebub, Legion, Lilith… not an Arab
10) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – I don’t think the Wicked Witch was an Arab or Muslim
11) One Hundred and One Dalmatians – never clearly defined, but I think DeVille is an Irish or Scott name, isn’t it?
12) Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back – same as #2, except add Boba Fett… ethnicity unknown (Are Mandelorians Arabic?)
13) Ben Hur – Takes place in the Middle East but A-Salaam! The bad guy is a Roman! In fact ALL the Romans are bad guys! (accept for Ben’s adopted Dad)
14) Avatar – Rich, greedy, Capitalist white guys
15) Star Wars – Return of the Jedi – Still no Arabs in the Galaxy far, far Away
16) The Sting – non-Arabic Chicago thug (Italian, maybe?)
17) Raiders of the Lost Ark – Nazis (again), competing French archeologist. Oh yeah, and one scimitar-wielding Arab another bit-part villain.
18) Jurassic Park – Reconstituted Dinosaurs, none of which pray to Allah… oh yeah, and greedy, rich white capitalists again
19) The Graduate - Been a while since I watched this one, pretty sure it isn’t an Arab
20) Star Wars – Phantom Menace – Jar Jar Binks, no! wait, he was the annoyance… bad guys? The old white-guy senator, a bunch of robots, and some Nimodians that if anything resembled Orientals
21) Fantasia – I remember alligators, runaway broomsticks, a mountain sized demon, but no Arabs or Muslims
22) The Godfather – Italian mobsters, not ONE of whom was named Hakim!
23) Forrest Gump – villain? Not one I can think of, except maybe his own disabilities
24) Mary Poppins – ahh the rich old white guys again, this time MAJOR capitalists!
25) The Lion King – Was Scar a Muslim? An Arab? Depends on which part of Africa he’s from, I suppose. Let’s be nice and say maybe.
26) Grease – Mmmmm I don’t think Americans knew what an Arab was in the 50’s
27) Thunderball – SPECTRE, much more Soviet than Arab, and the Nassau scenes… mmm.. nope!
28) The Dark Knight – Joker’s not an Arab or a Muslim, but definitely a terrorist. Gotta’ say no on this one
29) The Jungle Book – depends on how you anthromorphize the animals. I’m saying no.
30) Sleeping Beauty – nope
31) Shrek 2 – nope
32) Ghostbusters – the Federal Government and Zool who happened to come from the Middle East – but neither a Musim nor Arab he be.
33) Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid… nope, nada, zilch
Okay, you’re getting the point. After these it’s Love Story, Spider-Man, Independence Day, Home Alone, Pinocchio, Cleopatra, Beverly Hills Cop, Goldfinger, Airport, American Graffiti, The Robe, Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Around The World in 80 Day, Bambi, Blazing Saddles, Batman, Bells of St. Mary’s… the top 50 highest grossing movies in history and not a single major Arab or Muslim villain in any of them! (In Airport the villain is a white guy, American businessman played by Van Heflin)
The rest of the list is here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_highest-grossing_films_in_Canada_and_the_United_States
In AFI’s list of 100 best villains, I couldn’t find a single Muslim or Arab in the top 50 (I didn’t find numbers 51-100)
So, in summary, White guys, Capitalists, Nazis, Wicked Witches, black guys, Orientals, women, and even children are found on our list of movie villains… but not a single Arab or Muslim.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

"The Rite" Stuff

Movie Review - The Rite

For those who would believe, no explanation is necessary, for those who wouldn’t, no explanation is enough.


The movie The Rite is to exorcisms what The Right Stuff was to space travel. Sure, today’s audiences love Armageddon and other ‘space’ movies filled with action and suspense… but both Tom Wolfe’s book, and the movie The Right Stuff also dealt with the tediousness of the never-ending medical tests, the selection process, the indignity of ‘space chimps’ and the mendacity of press conferences. Why? Because Wolfe wasn’t writing an action packed thrill-a-minute joy ride… he was documenting the early American space program.

So it is with The Rite. The vast majority of the beginning of this latest exorcism fare is spent introducing us to priest-in-training Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue). Above all, we learn that he has chosen his path reluctantly and without any particular calling. After four years at seminary school, he is ready to give up the whole idea of priesthood but his plans for an exit are interrupted when his Father Superior (Toby Jones) sends him to Rome hoping that training as an exorcist might intrigue him and entice him to stay. Father Kovak takes to Rome a full suitcase of disbelief, cynicism, and agnosticism. He challenges his Roman instructor (Ciaran Hinds) at every turn and makes no qualms in expressing his disbelief. For those viewers with short attention spans, this is the interminably long part of the film.

It takes nearly half-an-hour before we see what most viewers have come to see – Hannibal Lec…… errr… I mean Anthony Hopkins. This will prove to be, however one of Sir Hopkins best roles (insomuch as range of character, playing opposite ends of humanity and still being credible, and giving more than a taste of what we loved so much in Silence of the Lambs).

At this point, I’d love to say the pace of the movie picks up, there are trembling walls, spinning beds and Linda Blairs left and right, but this isn’t a horror or gore movie. At this point we learn about Hopkin’s character (Father Lukas Trevant) and a bit more about the beliefs behind exorcism, as well as the day-to-day ministering to the sick and possessed.

All the slow time is not without reason. Like society’s impression of demonic possession in general, we are lulled into thinking this is going nowhere, it’s a sham, it’s parlor tricks and much ado about nothing. At one point, Hopkins gives a line quite similar to the famous, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist” from The Usual Suspects.

The climax is worth every moment spent watching celluloid as thrilling as home movies. You realize what a prefect skeptic Fr. Kovak is; how unprepared he is for the task at hand, and we truly wonder what the outcome will be.

This movie takes turns and gives insights no previous exorcism movie has taken – perhaps because it was based on the true account of a California priest (Fr. Gary Thomas) and journalist Matt Baglio (changed by Hollywood to the very attractive Alice Braga). The special effects are spectacular without breaking the illusion of reality. Your greatest fears will come from the possibility that this is real, rather than any overblown, unrealistic horror effects.

Rating – Not quite The Exorcist for spectacular Horror/Thrill, and more believable than even Emily Rose.

(4 out of 5 spinning, pea-soup chucking heads)

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

I'm looking for help here!

With Chucky Schumer's lastest display of genius
(Chuck Schumer's definition of the 3 Branches of Government)
... I thought back to other Greatest Hits of Democrat perspicasity..
(Sheila Jackson Lee and the two Vietnams), (Congressman Hank Johnson worried Guam will tip over)
.... and I came up with 3 "Epic Failure" pictures.  Other than Obama's 57 States, can you think of any others that need to be immortalized before we forget them?


Saturday, January 29, 2011

My 43rd... a landmark birthday!

I usually try to spare the gentle readers from the oh-too-personal style blog - "Today I got up and brushed my teeth......... yada yada yada.."

But yesterday was my birthday and a truly remarkable one... so I shall remark.  Actually I'll just paste the note I put on Facebook.

Okay, I'm almost to the point of tears, here. This birthday has been incredible! Over the last few years, I've found a home in the hearts of Tess' family... mainly her, her Mom & Dad. Tonight, when I refered to Stephen as my battle brother, I did so just as a play on the phrase we use "battle buddy." But when I started thinking about it, it moved me more and more...

Stephen truly IS my brother... along with Derek and Eric... we would do anything for one another. Seems obvious, considering we would lay down our lives for one another. But it goes beyond grandiose heroics... in everyday lives, there's nothing we wouldn't do for one another. We stand up for one another, respect one another, care about one another, help one another... with no pissing contests, tit-for-tat or unfairness.

There is no "do you deserve my firendship?" "Do you deserve my concern... my help.. my love..." "are you doing things as I would do them in your shoes?" There's none of that! There is true brotherhood! It's taken 43 years, but finally, I have the love of my life... and I have a family! Thank you Lord! As I said, I'm almost to tears at the thought!

So to Chaz, Tess, Jim, Jo, Derek, Eric, and Stephen... thanks for giving me a family!
Chaz
Me & Tess
Professor (and Major Ret.) Jim Moravec
Jo Moravec
Derek
Eric
Stephen

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cairo in flames and riots

Welcome to the Return of Jimmy Carter!

The scenes on television are so reminicent of 1978 Tehran.  I'm not the only one feeling this way.  Could we be seeing confirmation that we are witnessing the 2nd term of Jimmy Carter?  I have no doubt Obama will once again sit back and watch, as he did with the protests in Iran back in June of 2009.

We could very well see an overthrow of the Hosni Mubarak administration.  Then what?!?!?  A fundamentalist Caliphate government?

This is exactly what I've been afraid of (though not with Egypt - I've been more concerned with the Glenn Becks of the world railing on Saudi Arabia)  I've seen Glenn many times repeat how "the 9/11 hijackers were mostly Saudi's"  Yes... they were Saudi's .... EXILED Saudi's.  If the Mubarak regime falls that's not good... but if the Saudi family is overthrown, that is catastrophic!  Not only in the terms of Jihadists having their paws on the oil spigot, but the de-stabilizing effect it would have on the nascent democracy in Iraq, the wave of liberty spreading through Jordan, Lebannon, Lybia, and yes, Egypt.

Once again, a weak president (like Carter in '78) will be shown to have long-ranging, detrimental effects effecting the entire world!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The State of the Campaign Speech

The State of the Campaign Speech
This AWESOME Picture courtesy of http://totus-blog.blogspot.com/


He started out by once again connecting the Tucson shooting to “noise and passions and rancor of our public debate.” Just had to get that dig in, didn’t he? Not much else jumped out in the 2011 State of the Union speech, save that Obama is still pushing to punish big oil and ‘the wealthiest 2% of Americans’. Oh yeah, and has great but foggy dreams for the future – putting Americans to work building roads… he wants to see more Americans graduate high school, he wants college ‘within reach of every American’… he wants firefighters to be able to download building schematics on a handheld device, he wants 100,000 new teachers... He still wants to transform America into a ‘green’ nation (it’s worked so well for Spain, hasn’t it?)


It was basically a campaign stump speech to get rid of the tax loopholes, hire more people, spend more money, create rail systems… It was Obama at his vague and magical best; conjuring images in the air with no substance and no specifics. It had many well-worn staples like ‘simplifying the individual tax code’ and getting rid of fraud and waste :::::yawn:::::: “We need to out innovate, out educate, out build…. Yada yada, yada…”

He begged kids to think about becoming teachers without addressing how CURRENT teachers are leaving in DROVES because of how horrid the teaching profession is right now... paperwork, class audits, bureaucrats assessing teachers, more paperwork... lifelong teachers are having breakdowns, fighting suicidal tendancies and having heart attacks from the stress. I asked a professor what he would say to someone getting into teaching, he said, “Don’t! You'll have ulcers, sleepless nights, and you won't get to teach the kids without the government making your life hell... all the good teachers are leaving.” Obama didn't tell the prospective teachers THAT, now did he?


Obama proved he is still painfully out of touch with the main street American,,,” We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again.“ Really?!?!? Give me a break!

He threw so many ideas at the wall, some are bound to stick while most others can be shunned aside and forgotten. Those forgotten ones will be on the same shelf as closing Gitmo, getting us out of Iraq and Afghanistan “immediately… not next week, not next month… but the day I'm inaugurated” Remember him promising that back in 2008?


So, there were a lot of generalities, a lot of programs, a lot of spending… then a cursory talk of cutting 12% of domestic spending. So which is it? Are we going to cut spending, or spend on new programs? He spoke of the “10’s of billions of dollars” the Pentagon is willing to cut, but he’s also proposed increased spending on Family rediness, psychological treatment..." Again, throw both side of the issue at the wall, and someone’s gunna’ like it. This was also true with the talk on Afghanistan “we will not relent, we will not waver, and we will defeat you” (but troops are coming home in July regardless.)


There was a lot more joking and down home Palin-isms than I was expecting… talking about government oversight for salmon in fresh water, versus salt water…”I hear it gets even more complicated when they’re smoked.” Yuk Yuk Yuk… what a funny guy. Does he not realize that there are 20 million unemployed Americans out here that don’t want to see their President yucking it up as if everything’s hunky dory - HEY! let’s have a beer summit and some laughs?


What is it with Tunisia and Somalia? “And tonight, let us be clear: the United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people…” (but if you’re fighting for freedom in Iran, you’re on your own, bud!)


And again, on the military, “Tonight, let us speak with one voice in reaffirming that our nation is united in support of our troops and their families. Let us serve them as well as they have served us – by giving them the equipment they need; by providing them with the care and benefits they have earned; and by enlisting our veterans in the great task of building our own nation. “ ---- of course he’s freezing military pay, raising TriCare Insurance premiums, eliminating any benefits of shopping at the PX, and try and get us to cover battlefield wounds on our own private insurance. Oh! And his great example of supporting the troops? Getting rid of Don't Ask Don't Tell - a move 77% of combat military members were AGAINST!


In short, he said everything for everybody, making broad strokes and few specifics. He didn’t acknowledge the ‘spanking’ he and his party got in November. He was completely tone deaf to the shouting cries of the American public… again, reiterating that “out of touch” image the jokes and cutsie-cute remarks instilled.


It’s sad that with all the double talk, grandiose palaver, unfulfilled promises and directly contrary-to-the-desires of the American people strong-arming (ObamaCare, Stimulus…) he’s done in the past…. I can’t trust anything the man says, even the things that sound like great ideas. He promised ‘transparency’ yet every major bill he signed was negotiated and horse-traded behind closed doors with untoward back-room deals. He promised to ‘reach across the aisle’ yet told the Republicans ‘it’s my way or the highway’ on every major bill. So, what am I to believe?


As far as refering to this as our "Sputnik moment" - rudely and grostequely ironic considering HE gutted NASA and stripped them of their madate to explore space.... does he not realize when he's being perverse, or is he just that openly dishonest?  This was a speech filled with sound and fury signifying nothing, a carefully vague and nonspecific ruse for the rubes that will follow him like children after the pied piper. I want my 60 minutes back!







Saturday, January 22, 2011

Obama, GE, and Crony Capitalism

The press is swallowing the "I'm pro-business" elixir that Obama poured in abundance during his recent trip to Albany New York. (How many frequent flyer miles does he have on Air Force One, already... can we exchange them for any free trips? Like maybe a one-way trip to Cuba?) Anyway....They say this is a beta version of his upcoming State of The Union Address.
"He's turning a corner, modifying his message, changing his image to a more pro-business look."

Malarkey!!!!!

This is no different than anything he's done over the previous two years. It's not pro-business, it's pro-GE!!

He announced the appointment of GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt to head a new team of economic advisors. Wasn't he already the head of a group of economic advisors??

Ahhhh yes.... according to Wiki, " In February 2009, Immelt was appointed as a member to the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board to provide the president and his administration with advice and counsel in fixing America's economic downturn.[7]" - Jeffrey Immelt
And yes! The economic recovery is going just soooooooooooo well, no wonder he's being rewaded with more power and influence!

Okay... the recovery sucks.... so what could possibly be the reason for the Federal Government cuddling up to GE and getting so cozy with GE and its CEO?

Maybe.... just maybe it's because of the Chicago Climate Exchange... an organization run by close Obama political cronies and set to earn 1 TRILLION dollars a year when Cap-And-Trade is implemented. So what does GE have to do with the CCX? Well, GE owns the rights to much of the technology that will be used by CCX.... GE is set to make billions, if not hundreds of billions of dollars when Cap-And-Tax is rolled out. On top of that GE Heathcare (The division Immelt formerly ran) cashed out like gangbusters with Obamacare. There is nothing new about this.... this kind of favoritism, graft, crony-ism has been around since the so-called trust-busting of Teddy Roosevelt (which actually made the trusts much stronger and richer than they were before.)

Remember GE also got the largest (non-banking institute) bailout from the porkulous....errr... stimulus package.

There is nothing new about this. Obama came to office promising "no more business as usual." Well, maybe he's right... the cronyism in crony capitalism used to be subtle and under the table (or in some back room) now, it's right there out in the open - obvious and blatant. Is this the change you voted for, America?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Memorial ?!?!?!?! Service

Comparing Memorial Services

T-Shirts?? Really???











I've been mulling over in my head how to approach this... collecting pictures, article quotes and contentions....
Essentially, from Gore at Columbine to Paul Wellstone's Memorial to the Arizona Shooting Memorial it seems that when liberals gather "memorial services" become political pep rallies.
I will give proper credit to Bill Clinton's Oklahoma City memorial. (Notice how at the beginning of his speech President Clinton gives a "calm down" motion to keep the crowd appropriately solemn!)

BloodThirstyLiberal and Michelle Malkin have good takes on this, but let me add a few links.... for comparison.

Video - Ronald Reagan - Challenger Disaster Memorial





Video - George W Bush - Virginia Tech Memorial
and
Video - VP Al Gore at the Columbine High School Memorial (his speech starts at 1hr, whooping and hollering starts at 1:04) I'll forego his politicizing the tragedy for this blog

Video - The Paul Wellstone campaign rally...errr... "memorial service"

I'll let the videos literally speak for themselves!

Voter ID Proposed

FIND YOUR LEGISLATOR and SENATOR and CONTACT THEM!! (Colorado)

Today as I was riding on the bus to the Buckley AFB BX, I read that "...Republican lawmakers are again looking to pass a bill that would require Coloradans to prove their citizenship when registering to vote."

Well, why the Hell NOT???
This seems to be a no-brainer! Who would it hurt? According to the article, opponents figure that it will somehow disenfranchise "...homeless citizens, senior citizens and some low-income voters who may not have proper identification but are still eligible to vote."

I'm not sure about the homeless, although I'm sure arrangements can be made so that they can get an ID with a shelter's address or some such thing... but I don't remember any signs at the Department of Revenue saying you couldn't get a photo ID if you were too poor or too old. That is such B!!(*#$%(*@#$%!!!

There is only ONE conceivable reason to be against such a bill - you want illegals to vote - and nothing could be more undermining of the fabric of our Constitutional Republic than having non-citizens, undocumented.... $%^#^# call them what they are - ILLEGALS!... voting for our representatives!

Ya' know... when the Constitution was originally ratified only property owners could vote. Was it because the rich land owners were just a buncha' big wigs hording the power all to themselves and trying to create a hidden oligarchy? No! (After all, if they wanted an oligarchy they could have created one! They were starting from scratch and could have made the new nation anything they wanted.)

They (the founders) felt no individual should have any say in the government without a VESTED INTEREST in the actions of that government. - For those of you in Boulder/San Francisco/the state of Oregon let me explain.... most people renting an apartment don't really care if property taxes rise because they don't own any property... see?
Okay so now we are going to allow (through lack of enforcement) illegals who have absolutely NO interest whatsoever - except the perpetuation of their leeching and parasitical bloodsucking the chance to voted unabated? What is wrong with a bill enforcing the law? Have we really gotten so far down this "illegals do no wrong" Politically Correct rabbit hole that we can no longer differentiate between citizens and non-citizens?

What's next? Allowing foreign nationals to contribute to elections through website bundling? Oh! Wait! Obama already did that. Nevermind.

This bill needs to be passed and passed NOW!
Contact your State Legislator at: The Colorado General Assembly
and if you need to, enter your address HERE to find out who your Legislator and Senator are.

The time has come to draw the line - Votes for Citizens ONLY!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Movie Brothers and Sisters

I’ve always had a thing for seeing similarities in individuals, sometimes in looks, sometimes in voice or character… and I’ve always had an informal list of actors I would love to see play siblings. Some could play brothers or sister on looks alone (Jeremy Irons & Hank Azaria, Hans Matheson, Jerod Leto) while others just seem like they have a similar presence (Dennis Haysbert & William Clark Duncan)

So…. Purely for fun and “thoughts to ponder” I present my list of actors who should play brothers and sisters…..

William H Macy and David Caruso


Geoffrey Rush and James Woods


Jodie Foster and Helen Hunt


Melanie Griffith and Meg Ryan (Actually these two with Jodie Foster and Helen Hunt could ALL play sisters... maybe for an older version of "Little Women" lol)


Mel Gibson and Kurt Russell


Hilary Swank and Julia Roberts


Patrick Dempsey and Sean Penn


Craig Ferguson and Gabriel Byrne


Ben Kingsley and F. Murray Abraham


Billy Bob Thornton and John Malcovich

Tobin Bell and Malcolm McDowell


Bill Pullman and Jeff Daniels


Tom Sizemore and Colm Meaney



Jason Isaacs and Mandy Patinkin


Michael Madsen and Tom Sizemore


Michael Keaton and Howie Mandell


Pete Postlethwaite (R.I.P.) and Ian McKellen


Hank Azaria and Jeremy Irons


Kiera Knightingly and Natalie Portman


Laura Linney and Tia Leoni


Dennis Haysbert and William Clarke Duncan


Ed Begley Jr. and Bruce Davison


Ray Liotta and Kevin Bacon


Viggo Mortensen and Eric Bana


Helena Bonham Carter and Rachel McAdams


Hanz Matheson and Jerod Leto

Do you agree? Have any other suggestions? It's kinda' a fun mental exercize!