The Hurt Locker and Hollywood

Last night I watched my first Oscars telecast since at least 2004.  I will admit to having developed a profound distaste for the event during the Bush years, when poorly educated, overpaid actors professed their opinions (and feigned knowledge) of international politics and foreign policy.  These opinions -- from the likes of Sean (Jeff Spicoli) Penn, George (ER) Clooney and others -- were harsh, anti-Bush and, at a time when American is at war, anti-American.  And when coupled with the snarky comedy of David Letterman and Chris Rock was enough to make me ask repeatedly:"Where have you gone Billy Crystal"? The 2010 edition of the Academy Awards seemed to represent a change -- if not of political perspective, certainly of attitude.  Not only did "The Hurt Locker" -- a film about the U.S. military in Iraq -- run away with the evening, but it's victory was accompanied by an acceptance speech from the film's director that actually paid tribute to American soldiers in harm's way.  While in previous generations such a statement of support might not have been anything unusual, in today's leftist Hollywood the speech by Best Director recipient Kathryn Bigelow is significant, indeed.  Her words, greeted by polite applause by the audience, were not echoed by the film's producers who also accepted the Best Picture award, leaving Bigelow to again repeat her "thanks" to "those who serve" a second time, though this time she did seem a little sheepish (saying "sorry to reiterate") and then throwing firemen, hazmat teams and others who keep us safe.  In a telecast with admittedly very low expectations, and even with Bigelow's slight temporizing at the end, it was a significant moment for Hollywood.

But what does it really mean?  Bigelow herself has called the film "anti-war" -- which may have swayed some dovish voters to support it, though when I saw the movie I did not come away with that message at all.  The Academy may have been rewarding a female director who has gotten herself out of the outsized shadow of her ex (fellow Best Director nominee James Cameron), or it may have found a movie that allowed it to tell the rest of America that it is "pro troops" even as it remains anti-war.  Or maybe in a crowded field where Avatar and its computer generated characters took the air out of the room, the movie was simply "the best of the rest".

We will never know the collective reasoning of the Academy, of course.  But could it mean that Hollywood has begun to tire of the leftist diatribe it has been on for the past decade?  Roger Simon at Pajamas Media asks this question in a piece entitled: "Did the 2010 Academy Awards mark the end of liberal Hollywood"?

The 2010 Academy Awards may not have marked the end of “liberal Hollywood” as we know it, but they certainly put a solid dent in it. With the pro-military “The Hurt Locker” winning over the enviro-pabulum of “Avatar” and Sandra Bullock garnering the Best Actress Oscar for a Christian movie, the times are a-changin’ at least somewhat, maybe even a lot.

But one thing is now certain. It is time for conservative, center-right and libertarian filmmakers to stop feeling sorry for themselves and go out and just do it. Their “victocrat” days are over. No more excuses. “The Hurt Locker” and “The Blind Side” have proven that it can be done. Get out of the closet, guys and gals. If you want to make a film with themes you believe in, quit whining about Industry prejudice and start writing that script and trying to get it made. That’s not an easy thing, no matter what your politics.

Right siders can take inspiration too from Sunday’s Oscar ceremonies themselves. They weren’t defamed for a moment. Missing in action was the usual libo-babble, no extended hymns to the cause du jour or ritual Bush-bashing. And Barack Obama wasn’t even mentioned. Not once. But the troops were – several times by Kathryn Bigelow.

We are obviously long removed from the Hollywood of John Wayne, who embodied American patriotism in film, or of Jimmy Stewart, who heroically flew a B-17 in combat in the real war against Germany. But it is possible that we've turned a bit of corner in the vehement anti-Americanism that Hollywood has taken up since 9/11, though I certainly wouldn't call the success of the Hurt Locker last night a sea change.  As Donald Douglas has recently pointed out, there is an effort underway by Robert Greenwald's  Brave New Films to fund a series of "hardline leftist films on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars" that use U.S. veterans to pursue a very typical anti-American line of exploitation and imperialism.
If past is prelude, I'd say that Greenwald will need a big star or some gratuitous nudity to find a large audience for his leftist fare: previous anti-American films on Iraq have fared badly at the box office, and have failed to find an audience -- let alone win mainstream cinema awards.  The Hurt Locker's appeal stems in part from its avoidance of policy and its gritty, realistic portrayal of young American soldiers in battle.  In fact, I found the Hurt Locker to be a patriotic film -- not in the "Flying Tigers" or "Hellcats of the Navy" genre, but rather in it's portrayal of American kids showing courage, ambivalence and even fear under fire.   These are things that ordinary Americans can relate to, and that is in part why the film has been so well received.

Socialist Obama: Could it be?

By Tom Graham - Part 1 During a recent “Meet the Press” the host, with feigned indignation, asked a Senator, “You’re not calling the President a socialist, are you?” Without waiting for a response, he repeated the question for emphasis. This performance highlights the hijacking of political semantics. “Socialist” was replaced by “Liberal” which, in turn, became a pejorative, and now “Progressive” is preferred, and used in titles of dozens of political and welfare advocacy groups. Constantly morphing ideas and permutations of definitions make it hard to compartmentalize politicians. An accepted basic view is that Socialism advocates state or collective ownership of the means of production and distribution of goods. That essential hallmark of freedom, private ownership of property, is prohibited. Note how the current abuses of eminent domain stretch the traditional definitions of public use.

Marx called Socialism a transition between capitalism and Communism. As any high school sophomore should be able to recite from Marx’s Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei, “To each according to his needs; from each according to his ability.” An advocate of these ideas is indeed a Socialist. To quote National Socialist German Workers’ Party leader, Adolph Hitler, “The needs of society come before the individual’s needs.”

Before labeling Obama and his inventory of actions, we must also note the academic definition of Communism. “All economic activity is controlled by the state, dominated by a single political party.” Further: “A system based on holding all property in common, with actual ownership by the state.” Differences between the categories, reduced to simplest form: Socialism actually takes ownership while Communism totally controls enterprise, which ostensibly could remain private. This administration’s actions overlap both, with the common goal of doing away with Capitalism. Degrees of success are temporarily limited by public resistance. Constitutional protections are rejected as archaic annoyances.

Obama, equipped with glibness and arrogance, was dismissed as a buffoon by serious economists. His experience was largely limited to preaching Alinsky to ACORN volunteers. Without apologies, he surrounded himself with cabinet and advisor appointees, and a cadre of czars with no accountability, most of whom have serious ethical, legal and moral taints. The czars have no Congressional approval. Uniformly visible in that group is the disturbing tendency to demonize the concepts of private property ownership and free markets. The last 18 presidents averaged 46% of their advisers from the private sector. Obama has 8%.

As perennial presidential candidate Norman Thomas, and others, famously said, “The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of ‘liberalism’ they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation without knowing how it happened.”

Fabianism (strategy of establishing Socialism by gradual means), used with patience by subversive movements world-wide, is not in vogue with this administration.

To some degree or another, The administration has addressed all the elements of the Socialist or Communist state, with varying degrees and a common thread of shrinking Capitalism with alarming speed. The advice of Obama mouthpiece Rahm Emanuel is, “Never miss an opportunity to take advantage of a crisis.” Tactics of Chicago-style patronage, populism and corruption, unabashedly taken to the national level, have caught many flat-footed.

To correct what he blames his predecessor for, “long years of drift,” Obama is moving to control major industries in Communist fashion. What better start than the showpiece of American industry for a century, automobile manufacture? The President has no desire to own the auto companies, merely to control them. Perhaps he has read of the disastrous Soviet attempts at controlling manufacture with bureaucrats making all decisions.

Obama wants control while allowing experienced management to take care of the details. Bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler certainly were never meant to be loans, but rather a grab of equity. The action instantly took 78.3% of General Motors by the government, followed by a gift of 17.5% to the auto workers union. Bond value was whittled down to maybe 10% of GM equity. Investors without rational recognition of Communist control strategy held out hope for a rebound.

A sidebar of the auto industry takeover was the “Cash for Clunkers” fiasco which, at taxpayer expense, amounted to a marginal cost per car of $24,000. It had an effect of about 32 thousandths-of-one-percent CO2 reduction. It stimulated car purchases at the expense of future business a few months down the road. For example, by the end the year, Colorado new car registrations were 29.8% less than last year.

Al Gore & the Aztec Priests

By William Watson When the Spanish first arrived in Mexico, they discovered that Aztec high priests sacrificed 10,000 still-beating hearts to the god Quetzalcoatl every December 22nd in order to cause the days to stop growing shorter. This religious belief was confirmed, as the days began to grow longer again. Al Gore is the high priest of our new religion, global warming. He insists that if we sacrifice our standard of living, our economy, and millions of American jobs, that we can save the planet and stop global temperatures from increasing. Unfortunately for him but fortunately for us, global temperatures began to drop before he was able to perform his sacrifice.

Throughout the 1990s I believed in global warming and taught it as fact in university geography courses, mostly due to the liberal media and education which I received at the University of California. It wasn’t until I read Senator Inhofe’s 2005 speech before the Senate, that my faith in Global Warming began to be seriously challenged. Inhofe called Global Warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” I then began to reconsider my position on the issue.

I learned of the Medieval Warming Period, that Vikings farmed in Greenland and the earth continued to warm until the 14th century. This Medieval Warming Period was ignored by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in a way reminiscent of Joseph Stalin erasing Bolsheviks who fell out of favor by simply erasing them from photographs. Instead the IPCC invented the “hockey stick” graph claiming that the earth’s temperature was basically unchanged until the 19th century when it began to drastically increase.

The data (which we now know was falsified by environmental “scientists”) shows that after the Medieval Warming Period, the earth began to cool until the Little Ice Age of the 16th to 18th centuries. Then it began to warm again through the 19th and 20th centuries. Al Gore insists this was caused by human activity, but I began to wonder what degree humans could complete with heat produced by solar radiation. I became convinced that any contribution by humans would be infinitesimal compared to the energy produced by our sun.

In 2007 I heard the Danish climatologist/economist Bjorn Lomborg speak to the Denver World Affairs Council on the costs of implementing the Kyoto Protocol. He reminded us of the importance of doing a cost/benefit analysis, warning that “we are in danger of implementing a cure that is more costly than the original affliction: economic analyses clearly show that it will be far more expensive to cut carbon dioxide emissions radically than to pay the costs of adaptation to the increased temperatures." Shortly thereafter, I read Christopher Horner’s “Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming”, and while on a fellowship to Oxford that same year saw the UK documentary “The Great Global Warming Swindle.” Most convincing was their graph showing the correlation between solar radiation and average global temperatures, confirming my hunch that the sun was overwhelmingly the major contributor.

Over the past several years ice caps and glaciers have begun to grow again. Even my heating bills show that 2009 was colder than 2008, which was colder than 2007. Yesterday it snowed in Houston, setting a record. Those who are convinced that humans really make a difference to global temperature now should encourage us to burn coal and oil to save the planet from a coming Ice Age. However, it is more likely due to the regular fluctuations of solar radiation, which we should learn to live with, rather than allowing dishonest scientists and politicians to sacrifice our global economy, or for that matter 10,000 still-beating hearts.

Let's stop warping words

Rhetoric often manipulates our understanding through bias-laden misuse of language. We all have encountered such examples. "Progressive" suggests innovative, visionary and benevolent. But most "progressive" policies merely regurgitate antiquated notions that were disproved decades ago. A principal contemporary example of outdated "progressive" policy would be the flurry of big-spending, big-government legislation being touted by this Administration, merely repeating the failed economic policies that worsened and prolonged the Great Depression.

Conversely, "conservative" has come to signify stingy and contrary. Actually, there are two distinct forms of conservatism: fiscal and social. Fiscal conservatives believe that spending should be restrained, not over-taxing the public, especially during this economic downturn. Conservative fiscal restraint limits government spending just as people must limit their home budgets. Social conservatives believe in traditional interpersonal values, such as integrity and responsibility.

"Benefits" implies improvement. Properly used, the word denotes the favorable outcome for which we must commit some expenditure of time and resources. When used by the government, though, some people expect the proverbial "free lunch" free for them, paid by someone else.

"Government-funded" has no meaning whatsoever. At any level, no government has any money except ours. Taxes and debt are the only sources of government funding. That is, WE pay for "government-funded" projects. If a politician promises to deliver yet more benefits (see above) at no additional cost, that money must then be taken from some already-funded program.

Impassioned rhetoric should instantly signal the need for wariness, carefully assaying the logic and validity of the speaker's or writer's words. Bias-laden buzz-words especially trigger our alarm bells, protecting us from their misleading damage.

Frank Rich: proof positive that the left doesn't get it

Frank Rich, the former NY Times drama critic turned left-wing opinion guru, has today written an opinion piece which provides a great window into how liberals view the world. Not surprisingly, they believe that only right-wing fascist nut-jobs are crazy enough to oppose their enlightened policies and programs. There is no rational, intellectual basis for why conservatives do anything -- except to roll the clock back to the dark days of back alley abortions and segregation.  Its a caricature worthy of a comic book. Rich sees the uproar over the New York 23rd Congressional district race as a sign that the Republicans are in a civil war between "reasonable moderate Republicans" and right-wing conservative ideologues of the Glenn Beck/Sarah Palin school. And, predictably, he believes that it will show the nation that the Republican Party is lurching rightward, to a place of armed militias where "angry white men" stalk innocent women, children and minorities. Rich sees what has happened in New York as a "gift" to the Democrats -- and says that the Republican infighting will be "a gift that keeps on giving to the Democrats through 2010, and perhaps beyond." This view, of course, reflects a belief widely shared among liberals that the "rest of America" doesn't share the basic values that have spurred the pro-Doug Hoffman movement -- limited government, low taxes, and fealty to the Constitution.

According to Rich, such beliefs are "wacky and paranoid":

"The battle for upstate New York confirms just how swiftly the right has devolved into a wacky, paranoid cult that is as eager to eat its own as it is to destroy Obama. The movement’s undisputed leaders, Palin and Beck, neither of whom has what Palin once called the “actual responsibilities” of public office, would gladly see the Republican Party die on the cross of right-wing ideological purity. Over the short term, at least, their wish could come true."

This is typical left-wing spin. The Republican Party in upstate New York hand selected a liberal Republican who fully supports the Obama stimulus and is both pro-choice and pro gay marriage -- a candidate who is clearly out of step with the conservative demographics of the district. The uproar was created not because of a cabal of "wacky cultists" but because conservatives want a candidate who is not on the Obama socialist bandwagon. That's hardly a radical position. Rich makes it seem -- as liberals often do -- that if you aren't for abortion-on-demand and deficit busting spending you are some right-wing zealot. They are so certain of the moral rightness of their positions that anyone who disagrees is crazy, stupid or both. It is the height of arrogance.

"The more rightists who win G.O.P. primaries, the greater the Democrats’ prospects next year. But the electoral math is less interesting than the pathology of this movement. Its antecedent can be found in the early 1960s, when radical-right hysteria carried some of the same traits we’re seeing now: seething rage, fear of minorities, maniacal contempt for government, and a Freudian tendency to mimic the excesses of political foes. Writing in 1964 of that era’s equivalent to today’s tea party cells, the historian Richard Hofstadter observed that the John Birch Society’s “ruthless prosecution” of its own ideological war often mimicked the tactics of its Communist enemies.

The same could be said of Beck, Palin and their acolytes. Though they constantly liken the president to various totalitarian dictators, it is they who are re-enacting Stalinism in full purge mode. They drove out Arlen Specter, and now want to “melt Snowe” (as the blog Red State put it). The same Republicans who once deplored Democrats for refusing to let an anti-abortion dissident, Gov. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, speak at the 1992 Clinton convention now routinely banish any dissenters in their own camp."

Rich's misread of what is going on here is just staggering. Fortunately for conservatives, Rich's view of the summer tea parties and the conservative awakening is typical of the liberal establishment, which believes that its 2008 election victory marked a fundamental shift in America's politics from center-right to center-left.

The Democrats just don't get what has happened in the 9 months since Obama took office and began his naked power grab. The mood of the country has changed -- and the Congressional race in New York is a reflection of the level of frustration that conservatives have over what is taking place in this country. The more dismissive Rich is, the better it will be for those who want to take back the country in 2010 and 2012. Its a freight train coming, and the left remains deaf and blind to it.

Shhhh...let's not tell them the truth, ok?