"the dumbest blog i've ever seen."

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    -Samuel Adams

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

'Over There,' way out there

The ridiculous supposedly "apolitical" show "Over There" about fighting in Iraq, has had plenty of critics (along with the producers) saying it is gut-wrenching and "true to life." The very fact that a critic who has never been to Iraq as a soldier would make this assessment is laughable. Unfortunately, the series seems to be anything but in it's assumptions and errors. To a liberal, "apolitical" just means they act out what they "know" is the truth.

Photo: Gilbert W. Arias/Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"In a preview of "Over There" at Camp Murray in Tacoma, 1st Lt. Eva Sovelenko reacts to a scene as Sgt. John Figueroa looks on."

But one reporter at the Seattle P.I. seemed to be just as suspicious and did what should have been done all along: asked the soldiers what they thought (what a concept!).

M.L. Lyke of the PI spent time with soldiers at Camp Murry (national guard base near Tacoma) as they previewed the first installment of "Over There." Their responses were stunning!

A truck tire hits a flagged wire, a roadside bomb explodes, a handsome private with shredded leg screams in agony. In the bloody chaos of the moment, his soldier buddies panic. One pukes...

..."People don't act like that when an i.e.d. (improvised explosive device) goes off. They make us look like idiots. We're not idiots!" said a first lieutenant previewing "Over There," the new TV series from Steven Bochco ("NYPD Blue," "Hill Street Blues") that debuts tomorrow night on FX cable network. It's set in Iraq, hyped as "true to life" by producers and hailed by critics as "unflinching" and "gut-wrenching."

"Bogus" was the preferred adjective among the eight soldiers -- most of them Iraq vets -- viewing the series pilot last week at Camp Murray...

Making American soldiers out to be (what amounts to) idiots is a favorite pastime of the left. They just can't imagine a 17-year-old American "boy" taking on all that responsibility and keeping his nerve. They are instead painted as desperate kids who signed up to escape a slum or get their education paid for. Nobody signs up because they want to serve unless they are some privileged brat with a senator for a dad. This calls for another story—lets have a reporter hang out at a recruiting office and ask any random recruit why he is joining.

To bring this home, one good friend who I sang with in high school choir went to Iraq (is still there) without his driver’s license. Being a gunner, he has since had to watch one of his buddies burn to death in one attack while remaining calm in order to cover his evacuation... Did someone say something about panic? This is someone younger than me, who hasn't even taken a civilian drivers test and he has already dealt with more than others can imagine...and overcome it.

To be honest, I'm worried about the damage this series will do to the perception of our military. It's not that the public would get hostile to the military as a result, but it still fosters a stark fatalism that is greatly at odds with the spirit of our military personnel.

For me, I can already safely assume I won't be watching it, not having any access to it in the first place--but a bunch of good people like yourselves will also help out and keep those ratings low right?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Exercising ignorance

An utterly ridiculous commentary made its way into the LA Times today. Jonathan Chait has a bit of beef with a president who considers exercise important:

Bush can bench press 185 pounds five times, and, before a recent knee injury, he ran three miles at a 6-minute, 45-second pace. That's better than I could manage when I played two sports in high school. And I wasn't holding the most powerful office on Earth. Which is sort of my point: Does the leader of the free world need to attain that level of physical achievement?...

...My guess is that Bush associates exercise with discipline, and associates a lack of discipline with his younger, boozehound days. "The president," said Fleischer, "finds [exercise] very healthy in terms of … keeping in shape. But it's also good for the mind." The notion of a connection between physical and mental potency is, of course, silly. (Consider all the perfectly toned airheads in Hollywood — or, perhaps, the president himself.)

What a bogus thing to say. Since when did "all the perfectly toned airheads in Hollywood" bench press 185 pounds five times and run three miles at a 6-minute, 45-second pace. I doubt most of the actors in Hollywood could even run three miles without having a stroke or something. To make such an argument that mental and physical discipline aren't related is not a little spurious.

Fit though he is, as are most of our recent Republican presidents (no coincidence there I'm sure), I like to think Bush is just a small reflection of the impressive Father of physically fit presidents, Theodore Roosevelt. T.R was a lot closer to fanatical about exercise than any of us will ever know.

Crossposted at Head West, Turn Right

Monday, July 18, 2005

If you care enough about that...

So while you are good and inflamed about the latest outrage of WSU or perhaps still rumbling about the Supreme Court decision, Kelo v. New London, denying property rights to home owners in favor of the "public good," believe it or not, there are those out there who are not quite as concerned about those issues. They have found something much more important to rant about: a reporter who went to jail...

The New York Times reporter, Judith Miller refused to reveal her source in the face of a subpoena and has been jailed as a result. The Reporter's Committee for the Freedom of the Press (among others) has taken upon itself to the call foul and start a petition "in support of her decision."

I'm going to take the easy course, refrain from doing any deep thesis piece on the "reporter's privilege," and simply note the obvious exercise in futility.

WSU plays dirty

Imagine this: a group of 40 hecklers are paid to go and shout out threats at the actors in a "controversial" student play... Sound far-fetched? Think again.

This from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education:
On April 21, 2005, Lee and his student cast performed the final production of Passion of the Musical, a play they had widely publicized as being potentially “offensive or inflammatory to all audiences.” During the play, a group of 40 student protestors repeatedly stood up, shouted about being offended, and verbally threatened audience members and the cast. FIRE has obtained a document confirming that administrators at Washington State’s Office for Campus Involvement (OCI) purchased the hecklers’ tickets.

Read the full story on their site, but don't bite your cheek too hard!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

'Batman' and Straw Man (spoiler alert)

A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of watching Batman Begins and I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The acting was great. The effects were great and there was originality throughout. Granted, the music was unimpressive, contributing little beyond dark bombasticity--which is disappointing, since I heard Howard Shore and Hans Zimmer collaborated to compose it. It's one of the few movies from which I've come away without recalling one memorable bar.

But there's plenty more to say, as became evident when my friends and I left the theater and had a "parking lot philosophy" discussion about some of the themes which turned us to capital punishment and similar topics. I decided I needed to explore some of my negative reactions to the movie and the way it deals with the issues we discussed.

First of all, there's the portrayal of bad guy Liam Neesen's character. The taste left in my mouth is not just a fantastical bad guy striving with a clear conscience for the destruction of a city. I see also a bad guy who is simply striving, according to the film maker's view, toward what is the logical conclusion of a conservative (Texan? Cowboy?) sense of justice. Let me just say that the early introduction to Liam Neesen's character made me want to stand up and cheer. Quotes like, "criminals thrive off the understanding of society" really animated my sense of justice and got me initially on his side. I was impressed.

Perhaps my surprise when our hero turns his back on him was not the intended emotion of the director. At a scene where it is a simple matter of executing a murderer, our hero suddenly starts insisting on a litany of extra hurdles like a full-blown trial.

Now before I get too far along, there is no doubt that--looking at the big picture--the "league of shadows" is a twisted bunch. They have a huge self-importance complex, along with a Godless philosophy. Also, my judgment of Bruce's insistence on refusing the "executioner role" changes when he is back in Western society (explanation farther down). But I can't ignore the minor fact that the bad guys look, at one point, like Lockean purists. Is this just an accident? I don't know. If it isn't, I can't help but think the director has painted a picture that initially looks like what I saw (the Lockean purist) and then makes the case that there is only one logical conclusion to that way of thinking (the twisted blow-up-cities conclusion).

Finally, if I were to pick apart the specific situation facing Bruce at his botched initiation into the "league," I would have to say he made the wrong decision. Here's why:

His primary argument against following through seems to be about due process. With all due respect to due process, I must say this is an admirable impulse--albeit misplaced. For here he is in the middle of nowhere (the Himalayas!) with the closest thing to established government being the league he is joining--what kind of due process can he expect? I'm reminded of a memorable John Wayne quote from The Green Berets: "Out here, due process is a bullet." Even more importantly, I'm reminded of John Locke when he says in his Second Treatise of Government:
And thus it is, that every man, in the state of nature*, has the power to kill a murderer, both to deter others from doing the like injury, which no reparation can compensate...(*Note: Locke's state of nature is one with no government, where the laws of nature, and I would add, nature's God, are the only rule, and all men are free, equal, and independent within the bounds of the law of nature.)...and also to secure men from the attempts of a criminal, who having renounced reason, the common rule and measure God hath given to mankind, hath by the unjust violence and slaughter he hath committed upon one, declared war against all mankind; and therefore may be destroyed as a lion or a tiger, one of those wild savage beasts, with whom men can have no society nor security: And upon this is grounded the great law of nature, "Whoso sheddeth mans blood, by man shall his blood be shed." And Cain was so fully convinced that everyone had a right to destroy such a criminal, that after the murder of his brother, he cries out, "Every one that findeth me shall slay me;" so plain was it writ in the hearts of all mankind.

If someone has any doubts about how influential was Locke's thinking on our founding documents, especially the Declaration of Independence, just let them read the complete Second Treatise and the Declaration and see if they can come away thinking Locke was just a crock.

I don't have the knowledge or credibility to claim the 'Batman' directors tried to denigrate Lockean justice using a Straw Man argument. So for now I guess I'll just be content with pointing you to the potantial.

I'm sure Robin will replace Straw Man as the sidekick in the next one.

Crossposted at Meneltarma

Friday, July 01, 2005

O'Connor's notice

Now let the insanity begin.

If the first retirement has to be one of the conservative bloc, it might as well be O'Connor because her checkered career is more ambiguity than brilliance. At least she her move was made on a positive note--right after her solid defense of private property in the recent Connecticut case--although she shared much of that lost-cause-glory with justice Thomas.