Archive for the ‘America’ Category
Shorter Dan Pfeiffer: It’s none of your business how the Prez handled Benghazi the night of and it’s a conspiracy theory to ask.
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) May 19, 2013
The reason the White House won’t answer the question about where Obama was during Benghazi is because it speaks ill of him either way:
1. He was in the situation room the whole time and denied aid to our people dying in Benghazi.
2. He went to bed (or some other recreational activity) which would be interpreted as a dereliction of duty and reflect poorly on him.
If the buck stops at him (it does no matter where he was), he’s in trouble.
The buck stopping anywhere else during this fiasco makes him look like an impotent rube.
As Ed Morrisey says:
Out: “Bush read My Pet Goat for 7 minutes during a terrorist attack!” In: Where Obama was all night during a terrorist attack: irrelevant
— EdMorrissey (@EdMorrissey) May 19, 2013
You should know that reading to children for seven minutes and then getting to a secured location is totally like going to Vegas, baby!
BTW, George Bush read The Pet Goat to school children while we were being attacked then fled to La. rather than return to DC.
— Brad Woodhouse (@woodhouseb) May 19, 2013
And the press will nod affirmatively and with full credulity.
Allow dollars to follow the child. A Texas teacher makes her case for school choice:
Texas has increased education spending 95% with a 19% increase in school age population while test scores are flat.
I’m coming to believe test scores are less important. A child should be able to read, do simple math, and write by the age ten–5th grade (and that’s me just being arbitrary). With the innovations in education and the ability to tailor education to a kid, the money should be freed up. There are just so many ways a kid can be educated now.
My kids are in public school and all of them could probably be in environments better suited to their needs. Children develop in uneven ways.
It’s strange to think, but the one-room school house actually catered to kids better in some ways. A slow learner could be paired with kids coming along. A quick learner could accelerate as quickly as he wanted.
Our current educational system is just not responsive to the individual. Freeing up money and allowing kids to thrive in environments suited to them would be a step in the right direction.
When the BBC hosts pilloried me about remaining mute and not opinionating in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, I noted that it seems like we should at least be quiet until families are notified. It’s unseemly to be politicizing a very personal tragedy.
“This isn’t about politics,” one host shrieked,”it’s about GUNS!”
I responded,”Well, the solution to the gun issue the president brought up would be political.”
The host continued by saying that he felt the reason I hadn’t written about the tragedy and that the NRA hadn’t spoken about it was because we were ashamed. I countered with the fact that I was, presently, talking to the BBC about the tragedy and defending Americans rights to keep and bear arms. I was not ashamed to defend that.
But I was ashamed that defending the Constitution had to be done in this way at this time.
It was unsettling. It was too soon. And yet, someone had to push back against the philistines willing to ride on the backs of dead children to pursue their political agenda. And though sickened, I spoke up.
Jonah Goldberg captures this disgust nicely. Please read his whole post. Here’s a snippet:
I haven’t written much about the Newtown shooting. I did write my first column of the week about it because I felt I had to chime in. But I resented it. Maybe it’s because I’m becoming too sentimental about kids. Maybe it’s because I’m sick to death of death. Maybe it’s some other personal failing on my part, but I nonetheless resent being dragged into the political maw so quickly after a bunch of little kids were picked off by a madman with a gun. I agree with 90% of the things written by my colleagues about guns and gun control and the second amendment over the last week, but I nonetheless find it a bit grotesque that it’s necessary for anyone to be celebrating or defending guns before these little, little, kids have even been buried. It feels indecent to me.
It is indecent.
No, your ends do not justify these means.
I have to wonder: Do the folks indulging in this orgie of political posturing know loss and death? Are they so distanced from sorrow that they cannot empathize with the parents and suffering families? Are they such zealots for their cause that they’re willing to step on a heap of dead children to fight for it? Do they not see what they’re doing?
Maybe it’s just that when you’re a humanist, your instinct is to blame humans. If your worldview is that people are essentially good, that they’ve been nurtured wrong, or society failed, and then evil, evil guns were around, then blaming parents, doctors, teachers, gun manufacturers, “society” is the route one goes. And this time, the usual blamable subjects don’t quite fit that worldview. The boy’s mother, school officials, psychologists, everyone, were trying to do something to help him. The boy couldn’t be helped or wasn’t helped soon enough. Maybe he didn’t want to be helped.
So, it’s the guns and people who have guns who are evil. Someone must be blamed.
It is devastating to look at the deaths of twenty children and see the horror unfold in a lovely community (that did all the right gun control things) and for evil to still happen.
One feels helpless.
Helplessness is the natural human state. Humanists just live under an illusion — more laws, or better people, or the right resources will make all societal ills vanish. No, they won’t.
And so, we see folks fighting like badgers about guns, because it feels like Something Can Be Done. It’s better to be angry and active, then passive and helpless.
Rather than talking about guns or laws or even mental illness, Professor Kennedy talked about the nature of man, of suffering, and of our walk on the earth. To me, it seems like we should be talking about those things.
Instead, we’re talking about guns. It is, as Jonah says, indecent.
What do mass murderers have in common? Their facial expressions. At least, that’s the way it looks to me.
I don’t know what to make of this, but I thought I’d share these pictures and let you judge for yourself. Basically, I was looking at this Lanza kid and that professor who killed her colleagues came to mind. Then, I thought of the guy in Colorado who killed the people at the Batman showing, and I thought: they all look the same.
Clinically, they all look mildly hyperthyroid–you can see the whites of their eyes in some cases. Their faces are drawn. Their hair flat, dull, and looking like they may be nutritionally deprived.
I want to know what medications these people were on. The public has a right to know about them: their family situation, their parents’ psychological profiles, birth order, any psychological diagnoses, their I.Q.’s, surgeries, illnesses, vaccinations, medications, nutrition, genetics… everything.
Public policy will be suggested, but how can we come up with adequate solutions if we can’t pinpoint the problem? And clearly, all of these people have problems–and they aren’t new ones. People knew they were trouble. In many cases, family tried to intervene.
Don’t they look the same? What goes wrong in the wiring that we recognize this form of crazy? No one is surprised by them. Or these cases seem to rarely surprise anyone. Is it because we see and/or sense the crazy emanating off of them? Very often, they cross paths with psychologists, teachers, doctors, and their parents are worried, overwhelmed, in denial, or inept. [Lanza's mom had confrontations with the school system.]
What do we do with this?
It doesn’t matter their names. In fact, I don’t want to dignify these killers with showcasing their names. They all look the same.
They share a bleak, blankness in their eyes. Their mouths are drawn. They seem to be removed, distant. And underneath it all, there seems to be a suppressed fury.
The world is unfair. Nothing matters. So kill the world.
These seem to be the faces of malignant nihilism.
What cowardice it is to be dismayed by the happiness of others and devastated by their good fortune. — Montesquieu
The Spectacle Du Jour a couple weeks ago focused on a four-star General and the women in his life which lead to more questions about other accomplished men and the women who loved and/or used them. I did not find it amusing. My concern, in the abstract, was that personal emails were being rummaged through by our government for what seemed like spurious reasons. Worse, I didn’t like the blackmail implications — not by the women (though, of course that was and is a concern) but by the government. By our president.
My thoughts wandered to Hitler and his use of blackmail to silence his political opponents. Say what you want, but I’m not keen about living in a country where our government rifles through the shopping cart of our lives and then decides to shame us publicly when they find the Twinkie or Big Gulp that offends them.
But that’s a digression.
What really sickens is how Americans reacted to the salacious stories. It is sickening to joke about the destruction of many lives — as if these people weren’t people at all. They became amusements. We on Twitter became members of the Forum jeering at the prisoner sent to face the hungry lions.
It’s been said that comedy is a tragedy that happens to someone else. And maybe with distance, those in the throes of marital woe and relational and professional disaster will see the humor, but I doubt it. And I doubt anyone doing the cat calling would find it funny to have their own personal sins blared in neon. Or on Twitter.
Lance Armstrong, as an example, is being brought low. Whether he did the drugs or not (and everyone was doing them so he wasn’t alone), the real motivation to bring him down seems rooted in envy and a desire to destroy greatness. Ha! Ha! He’s a failure, just like me. Now I feel better about myself.
Tiger Woods had some pathological emptiness that needed to be fed with women other than his wife. It’s sad that he’s lost his edge. The world is worse for his lost potential.
General Petreaus got caught up with a woman and like an errant ship, hit the shore of wreck and ruin. America is not better for this failure.
And we are not better for having made fun of these people. We are worse.
I remember when Oprah was shocked at an audience member who told her, “I liked you better when you were fat.”
Audience lady: Because you were just like me.
Now, General Petreaus, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong are just like us. Feel better?
What I can’t understand is the simple hate, the hate for hate’s sake, the hate of The Other for the sake of Self-Affirmation. I especially can’t understand the hate coming from the sort of people who will insist to you, quite seriously, that they have essentially purged all primitive and dark emotion from themselves and now exist on an elevated Oprah/Chopra plane of pidgin Zen harmony and balance.
I see less of this on the right, but I’ve seen enough to make me uncomfortable. Still, it’s worth noting that philosophically, people on the right acknowledge their own base nature even as they succumb to it. The left seems to pretend it doesn’t exist.
Is it really all that wrong to laugh, though? It’s not hate, hate–as Whoopi says.
What’s the big deal about laughing at Petreaus or Armstrong or Woods? People who know all these men have said that they’re kinda pricks anyway. Probably. A single-minded determination to have mastery in one’s field tends to be born of a ruthlessly demanding nature, competitiveness and annoyingly narrow focus. These people are not like you and me in many ways–they refuse to compromise where you and I do and tend to have a messianic complex about their skewed priorities.
So, they deserve the scorn they receive, right?
Joking does have its place. In fact, court jesters performed this function–poking holes in the aristocratic class and giving the commoners permission to laugh at the foibles and hypocrisy of the ruling class.
Yet, why does this current trend at ruthless mockery leave a bitter aftertaste? Maybe it’s because Petreaus and Woods and Armstrong aren’t the ruling class. They didn’t get to their position by patronage or birthright. They worked to achieve their success. They bested their competitors. They worked hard and achieved greatness.
It seems like success itself is being mocked. These are our peers. They are people who started as nothing and made something of themselves. These are just common men who, through hard work, achieved the uncommon.
These are the people we’d like to be. These are people working to achieve what we would like to if only we had the talent and self-discipline to do it.
Gabriel Malor linked to this piece by Jody Foster when she defended teen idol Kristen Stewart after her very public “gotcha” moment:
In my era, through discipline and force of will, you could still manage to reach for a star-powered career and have the authenticity of a private life. Sure, you’d have to lose your spontaneity in the elaborate architecture. You’d have to learn to submerge beneath the foul air and breathe through a straw. But at least you could stand up and say, I will not willfully participate in my own exploitation. Not anymore. If I were a young actor or actress starting my career today in the new era of social media and its sanctioned hunting season, would I survive? Would I drown myself in drugs, sex, and parties? Would I be lost?
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: if I were a young actor today I would quit before I started. If I had to grow up in this media culture, I don’t think I could survive it emotionally. I would only hope that someone who loved me, really loved me, would put their arm around me and lead me away to safety.
Kristen Stewart, a young actress, heartrendingly in my opinion, shared her grief and sorrow through People Magazine at having harmed her relationship with her boyfriend. She prostrated herself publicly, asking forgiveness.
The world jeered.
Social media and blogging and all this technology has democratized communications. It has changed the world for the better, in many ways.
It has also given megaphones to what used to be localized mob behavior.
Today, it’s Mayim Bialik’s divorce. I was tangentially aware of Bialik. She is very funny on the hit TV show Big Bang Theory. Less known to me, but a big deal to moms, is that she uses “attachment parenting”. In this form of parenting, a mom wears, sleeps with and generally is around her babies a lot. Women hated her. Well, some did.
Any woman who felt guilt for bottle-feeding when she could have nursed or in some other way felt guilt when she heard or looked at Ms. Bialik now feels triumphant. See?! Her ideas suck so bad they resulted in a divorce!
Oprah’s fat! Tiger has a 15 handicap! Lance Armstrong can’t compete in Ironmans now! General Petreaus won’t lead America’s security efforts!
The gods have been brought low. And rather than mourning the loss, Americans celebrate the fall and delight in the sorrow.
When John McCain suspended his campaign after finally having some positive momentum post-Palin’s electrifying RNC speech, I knew it was over. It was quite possibly the dumbest political move I had ever seen and at that point, politics had been my focus for only three years.
Disheartened and discouraged, I soldiered on because Barack Obama would be, well, what he was: Bad for the economy, bad for international relations, and generally contemptuous of anyone who did not see things his way. It’s been worse than I imagined.
I joked on Twitter that I’d vote for a roasted turnip over Barack Obama.
My choice lost the GOP primary. I thought I was stuck voting for a turnip. I’ve been wrong. It has been a pleasant surprise.
Mitt Romney has shown himself to be an able, flexible, proactive campaigner. He’s had the press nearly universally against him and cheerfully plowed forward.
Strategically, Mitt is never put off by Obama’s silly mind games. The press’ obsession with Romney non-gaffes over Obama’s actual missteps has been … I’m at a loss for words. Put it this way: The press has so staked its existence on Barack Obama that it has decided to go down with the ship. No rats flee. No rats even attempt modest objectivity. And still, Mitt stays on his positive, pro-American message.
Policy wise, Mitt seems technocratic. That is, he doesn’t dislike government, per se, he dislikes how it is managed, and by golly, he’s going to do some restructuring.
Romney’s urge to reorder should comfort Democrats terrified that the business of government is going away with a Republican. President Romney sees a bureaucracy worth saving. That should inspire Dems, but no.
The Democrat position seems to be “Just as I am Lord.” Please, leave every bloated agency fat and inefficient. Keeping the agency and trimming the fat? Unthinkable.
Now, I go to the kill-the-agency-then-burn-it-in-a-fire school of government thought. I’m likely to be disappointed by Romney’s trimming of the verge.
Still, trimming is better than growing.
Here’s what’s surprised me about Mitt: I thought he was more of a nobless-oblige driven blue blood like George W. Bush. Oh, I know GW is from Texas. But underneath is a north-easterner who feels, like Obama, that the little people just can’t quite take care of themselves. It lead to many maddening policies.
Mitt is not that guy. Mitt’s midwestern sensibilities have hung on more than I thought. In addition, choosing to be a self-made man has given him confidence not only in himself but in people.
There’s an underlying lack of faith that statists have in people. They believe people incapable of self-sufficiency. Thus, laws have to be written to “protect” the citizen from himself. Mitt doesn’t seem to believe that. He has a live and let-live attitude and a firm faith in people. The attitude is refreshing.
When I get discouraged at the economic misery, I remind myself that multiple states have enjoyed quiet but quite solid turn arounds with good policy. Wisconsin and Indiana come immediately to mind. Bobby Jindal has been righting the Louisiana ship. This is happening all over America and it’s encouraging. California is a notable exception. Illinois seems to be a few disastrous steps behind.
Still, those turnarounds remind me that America is not lost. The situation is dire. There can be no doubt that whomever is elected faces some nearly impossibly difficult choices. My concern is that Barack Obama would just avoid them and his indecision would be a decision.
Mitt Romney will make the decisions. Some will be tough. They are bound to displease someone–all big decisions do, but what choice do we have? Doesn’t it feel like time is up?
So, it was easy for me to vote for Mitt Romney. Not as a defensive position, but as a positive decision. Maybe Mitt is just the man for the season. Maybe he can manage this failing state out of its bankruptcy. I say maybe not because I doubt his abilities but because the task is so formidable.
The media, left, and poll watchers seem 84% convinced that Barack Obama is a shoe-in. Or, it’s tied 48-48. 47-47. The models have Obama running away with the electoral college.
In my bones, I don’t believe this. Some states are going to be lost, no doubt. But this guaranteed result? Bah.
Vote. I feel good about my Mitt vote and you should, too.
Chief Justice Roberts, in writing the final Obamacare opinion, made an argument for Obamacare that Obama and his minions refused to: It’s a tax. So, Justice Roberts found that Obamacare wasn’t okay under the Commerce clause but it was a-ok under the constitution’s provision allowing Congress to levy taxes.
Obamacare is, according to Justice Roberts, the biggest middle class tax hike in history and therefore, constitutional.
Leftists praise the ruling. Conservatives, many of them, are disheartened.
And then there’s these guys who look admiringly at John Roberts for being politically savvy and outmaneuvering the President. You can read Tom Scocca of Slate here, Ezra Klein of the Washington Post here, and George Will here.
Ezra Klein summarizes the Evil Genius argument:
By voting with the liberals to uphold the Affordable Care Act, Roberts has put himself above partisan reproach. No one can accuse Roberts of ruling as a movement conservative. He’s made himself bulletproof against insinuations that he’s animated by party allegiances.
But by voting with the conservatives on every major legal question before the court, he nevertheless furthered the major conservative projects before the court — namely, imposing limits on federal power. And by securing his own reputation for impartiality, he made his own advocacy in those areas much more effective. If, in the future, Roberts leads the court in cases that more radically constrain the federal government’s power to regulate interstate commerce, today’s decision will help insulate him from criticism. And he did it while rendering a decision that Democrats are applauding.
I am not persuaded by this thinking, more on why in a minute.
Erick Erickson had a more reasoned response to the ruling (and I have noted that many conservative lawyers are walking this line, but as I’ve said before, and will repeat here, lawyers don’t think like normal people. They think in the constraints of the law and not in the constraints of morality — what is right and wrong — and this skewed perspective can be technocratic and miss the overarching point. I’m not sure that my conservative lawyer friends are quite missing the point, but I feel murky about this parsing). You can read Erick’s nuanced view here.
One point Erick makes is that Roberts is trying to keep the Supreme Court above the partisan fray. That is all noble but is the opinion constitutional?
Sorry if this question makes me literal, but that’s all I care about. The constitution being upheld is of paramount importance. By attempting to be “non-partisan”, Roberts is conceding that he was influenced by President Obama and the left’s fit-throwing. The toddlers won and so the finding becomes a partisan affair.
Today, Ben Domenech came on the Malcolm & Melissa podcast with Andrew and Me and he noted that if Roberts was politically influenced (and it seems he was), that the Right is going to have to reconsider its longstanding aversion to trying to bully courts into decisions the way the Left has traditionally done. He sees that outcome as profoundly troubling. [Aside: It was a great podcast and I'll link it as soon as it's produced.]
The Obamacare ruling makes the hated legislation an election and taxation issue. Some say that Roberts delivered the White House to Romney.
Consider this: Only 47% of American workers even pay Federal Income Tax. The non-tax payers have little vested interest in caring about this tax hike. It won’t affect them. As Avik Roy of Forbes pointed out, 67% of Americans already have subsidized health care. The abused American tax payer is already in the minority. The Democrats were playing the odds with this legislation and they know it. They gambled and time after time, they’ve won.
In addition, the Evil Genius argument not only counts on the American people and Congress to overturn Obamacare, it assumes that Congress will be bound by a tightened Commerce Clause interpretation.
When has a Democrat majority felt constrained by, well, anything? Look at how they were willing to ram Obamacare down America’s throat. There is no constraining statists. The Commerce Clause won’t do it, either. In addition, Roberts gives Congress essentially unchecked taxing ability.
Will a Republican Senate and White House overturn Obamacare now known as Obamatax?
If, if, IF.
From the beginning, I’ve felt that if Obamacare passed, repealing it would be nigh to impossible. No, this Supreme Court decision didn’t surprise me.
And in this way, Justice Roberts is right: Voters should be careful about who they elect. Voters shouldn’t be so cavalier about voting for big government Dems.
Voters, and Congress who represents them, need to be more circumspect and take responsibility.
Maybe that’s why I’m despondent: Personal responsibility seems like a quaint, old-fashioned American notion. Trusting Congress is folly.
This video captures it: Excellent job Ben Howe:
Memorial Day, remembering our fallen heroes who have served our great country, is, if properly observed, a somber day. For a few moments this morning, I read a little bit about Memorial Day, found a quote I loved, shared it on Facebook and Twitter and then pinned a beautiful picture of a solidier on Pinterest. Here he is:
And then, I went swimming with my family.
When checking my email later in the day, a woman who knew the warrior, Sergeant David Caruso in my Pinterest picture sent me this note:
Hello Ms. Clouthier,
I’m a follower of yours on Pinterest and I noticed this morning that you had repinned a picture of a Marine in a pocket photo holder with a POW and US flag in honor of Memorial Day. I thought you’d like to know a little about the hero in that picture, as he was an acquaintance of mine and very good friend of my brother’s.
His name is David Caruso. He was born on October 25, 1979 in Winfield, IL, and raised in Naperville, both suburbs of Chicago. He was the youngest of three boys. He attended the same elementary, middle, and high schools as all the kids in our neighborhood, in the same class as my older brother. In high school he was a scholar and athlete, and a member of the football team. He was an Eagle Scout and is responsible for reviving a lovely little park in our childhood neighborhood as his Eagle Scout project. As a senior in high school, he joined the Marines. He graduated from Waubonsie Valley high school in 1998, and went on to graduate from Marine Recon School, Army Ranger School, Army Jump School, and Army Freefall School, attaining the rank of Sergeant. Throughout all of this, he kept in touch with his friends back home, and my brother often relayed his emails and letters to our family. He was able to be home attend my brother’s wedding on November 8, 2003.
Dave was deployed to Iraq in August 2004. He was assigned to the 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company, II Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Camp Lejune. He died on November 9, 2004 in the assault on Fallujah. When Dave arrived home for burial, the funeral procession took him past his home and grade school in our neighborhood. The local Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops lined the route with American flags and stood at attention for him as he passed. The photo in the Pin you posted is the same picture of Dave that is displayed in the local Catholic church our families attended, where a memorial to fallen members and friends was set up years ago.
I wish I could tell you more about Dave, but as a sister four years younger, I rarely paid much attention to my older brother’s friends beyond the ones who had sisters I admired. I do remember Dave always having a smile for me and being very quiet, but quick to laugh and always had a kind word for everyone. He was a fixture in my brother’s social circle and I have no memory in which my brother’s stories of their outings and adventures didn’t include the phrase “So then Dave says…”.
We are blessed indeed to have men like Dave willing to do what we cannot so we can remain behind to live in the freedom they secured for us at the highest price. Just thought you might want to know a little bit about the random face of a Marine who made you remember the sacrifices of all his brothers.
Best wishes and kindest regards,
By the end, I was crying.
Every death means something broadly for us Americans. Every death is also a personal, grievous loss for the family and friends of the fallen.
So to David Caruso’s family and friends, thank you for your sacrifice. And deepest condolences for your very personal loss. This American and her family is profoundly grateful.
Barack Obama’s promotional materials, as late as 2007, said he was born in Kenya. Read about it here and then, come back.
Why would he do this? It seems crazy.
Imagine you’re a hippie kid. Your dad is some Kenyan big wig. Your mom is a self-important sociologist doing such important work that you, Barack Obama, must be left home with grandma and grandpa.
You are boring.
You are a mixed race kid on Hawaii in the sixties which is not a big deal because everyone has Hawaiian blood and has mocha skin. You are relatively wealthy and end up at a prep school with other wealthy kids.
You have to justify your existence.
No mom. No dad. Rather provincial, if privileged, Hawaiian life, but lots of questions from peers.
What do you do?
Well, nothing, other than smoke dope, do cocaine (expensive – but no big deal for rich kids), and hang out acting like a badass.
And then, there’s privileged college which you navigate by being mundane and calculated.
You don’t find yourself there. You just find out how you don’t want to self-identify.
Like Elizabeth Warren, it’s really not enough to be a white, privileged kid. Or even a mixed-raced privileged kid.
It takes some resume juicing to be legit in the diversity crowd.
So, you lie.
You pretend you’re a man of the world. You tell people you were born in Kenya. You brag about your time in Indonesia.
You don’t talk about Hawaii.
You don’t talk about your white mother.
You don’t talk about your white grandparents who raised you and gave you a conventional, privileged upbringing.
You pretend you’re part of the victim class.
You pretend you’re worldly wise.
You idealize your Kenyan roots and lie about having tight ones.
You create a whole tapestry of falsehoods about yourself — not only does it make you feel better about being abandoned, it gives you credibility with those who judge not on the content of your character but the color of your skin, the exotic nature of your past, the superficialities of diversity.
Hippie lefties, it turns out, are kinda biased against people with conventional upper middle class American backgrounds.
Barack Obama wasn’t born in Kenya.
Barack Obama didn’t have some tortured, hard-scrabble youth.
Barack Obama was a materially indulged, emotionally deprived typical American child of divorce.
It’s his conventionality that embarrasses him.
And that’s why he lied.
MORE QUESTIONS. Bookworm says:
Normally, in the years since the Civil Rights movement, the answer would be “Yes, being half-black (not half-white, but half-black) should have given Obama the leg-up he needed to parlay mediocre grades and a drug habit into a shiny diploma from one of America’s best institutions of higher education.” Obama’s problem, though, was that he came of age at a very specific time in the annals of affirmative action. To appreciate this, you have to know that Obama, who graduated from high school in 1979, must have started looking at colleges in 1978.
When it comes to college admissions, 1978 isn’t just any year. It’s a very special year. It was the year that the Supreme Court decided Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978) 438 U.S. 265.
Allan Bakke was a young man with an excellent academic record, who nevertheless got turned down by 12 medical schools. When he applied to the medical school at UC Davis, and was again rejected, he learned that he had almost certainly lost out on the opportunity to attend that medical school because UC had set a quota for admitting non-white people in order to meet the University’s “diversity” requirements. Bakke sued. In a deeply fragmented decision, the Supreme Court held that this race-based admission process was unconstitutional.
Nothing written about The Hunger Games movie is right. Why? The movie isn’t right. Is it worth seeing? Absolutely.
It didn’t occur to me while watching the movie, but when I read Ed Morrissey’s review (meh, derivative) and then this Socialist’s site (best movie ever), I knew something was wrong with the movie. And when I read this Psychology Today review, I knew something was wrong with the psychologist and our culture [More about that in another post].
People who saw The Hunger Games saw a different movie depending on whether they read the books or not. On the optimistic side: most teens read the books. On the pessimistic side: most parents had not. This lead to two very divergent perspectives on the movie.
The Hunger Games trilogy books describe a dystopian, post-Civil War future where the central government is rich off the backs of twelve districts of slaves. The central government uses technology, coercion, and laws restricting any form of self defense (no guns..no bow and arrows, even–thus Katniss’ hidden, handmade bow and arrows).
The central government controls by dividing commerce. There are agrarian, fishing, and in Katniss’ case, energy producing districts. Katniss’ father died as a slave in a coal mine to produce energy not for his business or his employer but for the government who would then redistribute the commodity in just enough measure to keep work going to meet the needs of the other districts and to keep the central district in the luxury they were used to.
The oppression, lack of ownership, lack of right to bear arms, lack of free speech, lack of freedom of association, and the central-command misery induced by this situation were never clearly spelled out in the movie. Those who read the books, filled in the blanks. Those who didn’t, took home an entirely different message.
As one liberal reviewer said it, “This is a movie about the 99% and the 1%.”
Uh no. This book was about the oppression of communism and the failure of redistributionism. It was also a book about self-determination and freedom. These are all very American concepts.
The personal despair caused by the oppression really wasn’t fairly portrayed, either. Peeta fed a starving Katniss (a little CGI work to show her emaciated would have been helpful) at great risk to his own life due to reducing his ability to trade on the black market. His mother would beat him.
After Katniss’ father died, the family was starving. Her mother had completely lost her mind. Collectivism creates individual misery.
Meanwhile, the central government was indulgent: a combination of Elizabethan England, coked out models, and crass material excess. Their entertainment was Roman gladiator meets reality show spectacle where children fought to the death as tributes to “peace”. All the districts, including the central one, offered up one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 as tribute and penance for their warlike past.
The premise of the book was so horrifying to me, I had to put the book down. My daughter, in contrast, seemed strangely unbothered–until she saw the movie.
And the horror of it all would is compounded by no context. If it isn’t made clear what the characters will be fighting against, it’s difficult to grasp their desire for freedom. That is, if they’re free and just down on their luck, that’s a different story line. If rich business owners in each district controlled all commerce, that would tell another story.
That would be the storyline the left wants to promote–thus, the 99 and 1% reference.
Critics and fans of the movie must read the books. Without the story, what is a pretty good movie already, becomes an excellent, and scarier, movie. They’re not tough reads and they’ll give the needed context.
Whether it was intentional or just lost on the cutting room floor because of film length, more attention to the foundational why of the story would have helped.
In the next post, I’ll talk about whether children should attend the movie and how to talk about your kids who do go to the movie.