Archive for the ‘Patriotism’ Category

The Hunger Games: The Wrong Conclusion [Part 1]

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

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.



Marco Rubio: American. Exiled Cuban.

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Marco Rubio punched back against the defamatory Washington Post piece. Liberals are loving it because Marco Rubio — an ardently pro-American Senator of Cuban descent can not only lead, but he can give a speech, too — scares them to death. More here.

Articulate minority? Why, he should be a Democrat. How dare he be uppity?

 

Since he isn’t, it’s a mission to destroy him as a person.

A friend of mine, Bettina Inclan, also of Cuban descent was incensed at the hit and said this privately and I asked if I could share her thoughts. Here’s what she said:

I am beyond disappointed by the Washington Post and their attack piece on Marco Rubio and his family’s history fleeing Cuba’s political turmoil. I keep wondering why they deiced to run this piece now? Is it for the financial gain of article’s author Manuel Roig-Franzia who has an upcoming unauthorized biography on Rubio?

I’m not sure what to be more upset about, Washington Post’s sloppy reporting, their total lack of understanding of the Cuban exile experience, how they conveniently ignore Cuban history or their veiled attempt to try to bruise Marco Rubio, a rising Hispanic Republican star ….

My grandfather suffered for 13 plus years in a Cuban prison because he refused to become a Communist. His experience as a political prisoner and my family’s flight for freedom in America has shaped my political beliefs. My story is similar to thousands of Cuban-Americans whose family history might be slightly different, yet their pain is very much the same.

Marco Rubio embodies what we feel, what we’ve experienced and the hopes and dreams of our parents and grandparents. He has succeeded not only because he been able to effectively communicate the Cuban American experience but also because he represent thousands of exiles and immigrants who might have come to America for different reasons, but all are searching for their American dream…

For the Washington Post to say that he is not a “real” exile is beyond insulting. The facts stand, his family left Cuba because of a dictatorship. They tried to go back, but because of Fidel Castro, they couldn’t return to their beloved homeland. Like many Cuban exiles, the Rubio family felt like all was lost. In 50 years dates and exact details get blurry and bruised. Yet, even with half of century past, the exile experience is still raw and in many ways sacred…

The Washington Post is opening a huge can of worms. They attack Rubio for not being a real Cuban exile. This hit piece on Rubio is tied to birther attacks that Rubio is not American-enough to be considered for President of the United States of America. It’s an unfortunate game… I hope that if anything comes of this, more people learn about the harsh realities many Cuban families have faced and the sacrifices they had to make in search of freedom in this great country.

 

Like Bettina, I think the Washington Post and the DC media, hell-bent on helping Democrats, is making a big mistake here. The country is becoming more diverse, not only racially, but ideologically. Independents make up a huge portion of the voting demographic. This kind of thing doesn’t sit well. You’re hurting the Democrats, WaPo. I know that’s not your intention.

 

Here is Marco Rubio’s own statement in full:

Dear Friend,

The Washington Post on Friday accused me of seeking political advantage by embellishing the story of how my parents arrived in the United States.

That is an outrageous allegation that is not only incorrect, but an insult to the sacrifices my parents made to provide a better life for their children. They claim I did this because “being connected to the post-revolution exile community gives a politician cachet that could never be achieved by someone identified with the pre-Castro exodus, a group sometimes viewed with suspicion.”

If The Washington Post wants to criticize me for getting a few dates wrong, I accept that. But to call into question the central and defining event of my parents’ young lives – the fact that a brutal communist dictator took control of their homeland and they were never able to return – is something I will not tolerate.

My understanding of my parents’ journey has always been based on what they told me about events that took place more than 50 years ago – more than a decade before I was born. What they described was not a timeline, or specific dates.

They talked about their desire to find a better life, and the pain of being separated from the nation of their birth. What they described was the struggle they faced growing up, and their obsession with giving their children the chance to do the things they never could.

But the Post story misses the point completely. The real essence of my family’s story is not about the date my parents first entered the United States. Or whether they travelled back and forth between the two nations. Or even the date they left Fidel Castro’s Cuba forever and permanently settled here.

The essence of my family story is why they came to America in the first place; and why they had to stay.

I now know that they entered the U.S. legally on an immigration visa in May of 1956. Not, as some have said before, as part of some special privilege reserved only for Cubans. They came because they wanted to achieve things they could not achieve in their native land.

And they stayed because, after January 1959, the Cuba they knew disappeared. They wanted to go back – and in fact they did. Like many Cubans, they initially held out hope that Castro’s revolution would bring about positive change. So after 1959, they traveled back several times – to assess the prospect of returning home.

In February 1961, my mother took my older siblings to Cuba with the intention of moving back. My father was wrapping up family matters in Miami and was set to join them.

But after just a few weeks, it became clear that the change happening in Cuba was not for the better. It was communism. So in late March 1961, just weeks before the Bay of Pigs invasion, my mother and siblings left Cuba and my family settled permanently in the United States.

Soon after, Castro officially declared Cuba a Marxist state. My family has never been able to return.

I am the son of immigrants and exiles, raised by people who know all too well that you can lose your country. By people who know firsthand that America is a very special place.

My father spent the last 50 years of his life separated from the nation of his birth. Separated from his two brothers, who died in Cuba in the 1980s. Unable to show us where he played baseball as a boy. Where he met my mother. Unable to visit his parents’ grave.

My mother has spent the last 50 years separated from her native land as well. Unable to take us to her family’s farm, to her schools or to the notary office where she married my father.

A few years ago, using Google Earth, I attempted to take my parents back to Cuba. We found the rooftop of the house where my father was born. What I wouldn’t give to visit these places where my story really began, before I was born.

One day, when Cuba is free, I will. But I wish I could have done it with my parents.

The Post story misses the entire point about my family and why their story is relevant. People didn’t vote for me because they thought my parents came in 1961, or 1956, or any other year. Among others things, they voted for me because, as the son of immigrants, I know how special America really is. As the son of exiles, I know how much it hurts to lose your country.

Ultimately what The Post writes is not that important to me. I am the son of exiles. I inherited two generations of unfulfilled dreams. This is a story that needs no embellishing.

Marco Rubio



Wherein I Agree With Occupy Wall Street Protesters

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

The Occupy Wall Street folks have finally, at long last, figured out that the Bank Bailouts did nothing but help the rich and powerful. Too bad they didn’t join with the Tea Party who also balked at the huge transfer of wealth from the middle class taxpayers to irresponsible investment bankers who gave loans to people who couldn’t afford them.

Unfortunately, the OWS folks put their hope in Obama’s promised change and got more of the same. I remember a conversation with a prominent liberal activist. She was decrying the money in politics and corruption of the power. I said to her, on election day,”How do you think Barack Obama got elected? All that money came from Wall Street and lobbyists. They’re your problem now.”

Three years later, disenchanted socialists drum in circles and scream in frustration at what was blindingly obvious. The Dems are wholly bought and paid for.

Where the Occupy Wall Streeters differ from Tea Partiers is fundamental philosophy: Instead of the middle class bailing out banks and investment houses and GM, the Occupy Wall Street folks would prefer that the money had come directly to them. Pay off their student loans. Pay off their mortgage. Pay them $20/hour whether they work or not. Just pay them. In short, they want a socialist society where behavior is completely untethered from consequences.

Tea Partiers want to keep what they earn. They don’t want to pay for someone else’s stupidity. They don’t want someone to pay for their stupidity. They want to be free from the burden the Smartypants Set™ put on them and their children. They fear that this debt will make slaves of American citizens. They worry that their children will have less opportunities to pursue the American dream–to pursue happiness.

Like Tea Partiers, the Occupy Wall Street crowd feel disregarded and diminished. They feel that the little guy doesn’t get a break.

Students are disillusioned: They have student debt for worthless degrees for jobs that don’t exist. Many kids live with their parents and will never be employable with the education they have. As an aside, David Mamet has a wonderful essay on the hopelessness and entitlement of these folks in his book The Secret Knowledge.

The Occupy Wall Street folks have plenty to be angry about. Many Tea Partiers are angry, too. It’s just the cause and solutions that differ–well, solutions, and tactics.

Starting riots, pooping on police cars, laying in filth, sharing drugs, making it impossible for the working class people to work, is no way to make a point. Or rather, it makes the wrong point.

The Democrats will use the Occupy Wall Street crowd to foment discontent and cause confusion going into the 2012 election. It should be noted that they (hello Chuck Schumer, Chris Dodd and Barney Frank) were architects of both the absurd lending practices and then the bailout of those same institutions when they failed.

For those on the conservative grassroots side, it’s unwise to dismiss OWS’ers all out of hand. Some of these people really believed that Barack Obama was going to bail them, personally, out. They believed that he cared about them. They believed that he was a man of the people and understood them and would bring fundamental change in America that would benefit them.

Many of these people are seeing the suffering and believed the Democrats had the solution.

These folks share the alienation from the “elites”. Tea Partiers are scorned, loathed and feared by establishment Republicans. Now, politicians try to curry favor from Tea Party types, but it’s only to save their own hides. Will real reform ever come? Can the Tea Party expect transparency from the GOP when the Republicans are in charge again? It will be demanded. Will the demands be heeded? The Occupy Wall Street folks face the same problem with the Democrats.

The average American citizen feels profoundly alienated from the leadership who continues to make promises and continues to break them. This electoral swinging is a desire, on the part of voters, to find leaders who are responsive to the average, working middle-class person and small business guy who doesn’t have lobbyists making sure to guard his interests. The only place the citizen has to express their discontent is the ballot box. They’ve been doing it over and over and the message keeps resulting in disappointment.

Here are some areas where both sides can agree:

Government transparency

No more bailouts

Higher Education reform

Re-looking at American foreign policy and the best use of military resources

Government-corporate nexus (aka crony capitalism)

There’s more, but this is a start. There are many dark elements of the Occupy Wall Street crowd–the use of intimidation and violence to achieve ends, for one. Still, the alienation and betrayal and the looking helplessly toward the future seems to be a universal American citizen phenomenon these days.

America’s elected leaders no longer seem to serve their citizens but themselves and the big money folks who put them in power. Changing that is something everyone can believe in.



A 9/11 Round-Up: Please share links in comments, too

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

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I just put up my post about 9/11. It’s not exactly sunshine and daisies. Anyway, I’m posting other reactions here, too:

The sun rises — Picture of the 9/11 memorial this morning.

MUST READ: Raina Williams — Round Numbers Don’t Mean Anything

Reuters — Slideshow of pictures.

Wall Street Journal — Round up. Worth a look.

Erick Erickson — In memoriam. All the names.

Michelle Malkin — All the wrong 9/11 lessons

Peggy Noonan — We’ll never get over it

Israelly Cool — 9/11 Ten Years On (good videos)

Washington Post — F16 pilot willing to give her life on 9/11

Hugh Hewitt — President Bush’s moving tribute to Flight 93.

Gatewaypundit — Mayor Bloomberg dissing the clergy and first responders

Mark Steyn — “Let’s roll over” [Must read.]

Kerry Picket — “It’s insanity all over the city.

Blazing Cat Fur — Until tomorrow.

The Other McCain — On September 10th.

Cracked — 4 Reasons we need to start making fun of the terrorists.

Maggie’s Farm — Son made video for 6th grade classmates. Never forget.

Brendan Loy — Video of patriotism with audio from great American leaders’ speeches.

Yid With Lid — I remember, but too many forget.

Rick Reilly — A tribut to Flight 93: Let’s keep rolling.

Instapundit — A blog revolution begins.

The Telegraph, Toby Harden — Washington D.C., the other city attacked.

The Blaze — Celebrating the terrorists in art. In Germany.

Breitbart — President Clinton’s tribute to Flight 93 heroes.

Marathon Pundit — A time to celebrate.

Midnight Blue — Honoring soldiers.

Girl on the Right — Keeping the vigil.

Thoughtful Conservative — Identifying the Dead.

Chicago Sun Times — A survivor’s perspective: “I’ve already had the worst day.”

Carrie Underwood — National Anthem

Alexa Shrugged — I am overcome.

Bryan Myrick — For out enemies, the target will always be us.

Letters from Glome — A mighty fortress is our God.

Smitty, from Afghanistan — Arguably the best thing written on 9/11.

Warner Todd Huston — 9/11 Still infuriates.

Dan Spencer — A day for remembering.

Dan Spencer — A space commander remembers 9/11.

Viral Footage — Various videos to remember 9/11.

Karol Markowitz — We’re free, even to be over 9/11.

The Jersey-Texan — Never quit.

Pat Gohn — 9/11 and the ever-present Christ.

Pirates Cove — Another wrap-up.

Andrew Malcolm — Most Americans expect it again.

Lilac Sunday — I remember everything.

Mike Chamberlain — Never forget.

The Anchoress — Another link around. Also note, “The forgiveness gene.”

Father Robert Barron — Why we should forgive.

Chris Hitchens — Pure Evil.

Stephen Green — A look back.

Marco Rubio — Remembering 9/11.

Bookworm Room — I remember. (Pictures.)

James Taranto — Too soon to forget?

Michael Gershon — The Ugly Gash of 9/11

Don Surber — We shall fear no evil.

Seth Mandel — Why we won’t forget Giuliani’s leadership.

Michelle Malkin — The Littlest victims. Remembering the children who died on 9/11.

John and Joe — A firefighter father remembers his son .

Examiner — Lawsuit by 9/11 victims against Iran.

Lileks — The end of the world.

A Tribute — Watch it.

John Derbyshire — Barbarism v. Civilization via @Instapundit who has more



9/11: No, America Is Not Over It Yet

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

NOTE: I am doing a separate 9/11 link round-up. There are many great personal stories, tributes, etc. Very worth spending some time reading them.

When one endures a great tragedy — death of a child, loss of a limb in war; or experiences a violation — rape, affair, house burglary– people find a million different ways to ask the victims without actually saying the words, “Are you over it?”The question is profoundly offensive no matter how it’s asked.

A person never gets over some things. He learns to live with it.

Around the corners of the body, house, the town, the life, there are memories. The realness of the memories will shock at surprising and unwelcome times. And no matter how profoundly it’s desired, there will be no forgetting.

9/11.

Hey, America! You over it yet?

New York city is the shining, favored daughter. She is beautiful and busy and idealistic and innocent and open and hopeful. In her, people, people less talented, less lovely, cast their hopes.

America is America the beautiful. She has her faults, to be sure, but one of them isn’t cynicism. Buoyed by a sunny disposition and the opportunity for renewal, America shines.

New York city is the best of all that. New York is the creative spirit. New York is renewal.

New York city is life.

Sound romantic? Absolutely. And it’s that romance and idealism, that essence of America, that Osama bin Laden saw and wanted to destroy.

I was taking my son to his first day of preschool and heard that the first Tower had been hit. What should I do? It seemed evident to me that this was no accident.

Immediately, my thoughts turned to Israel. They get these attacks all the time. They don’t stop. They keep going.

And then a string of New York acquired expletives flashed through my mind. My son would stay at school. %!@!. Them.

My baby daughter was at my mom’s house. As I walked through the door, I saw the second tower hit and I crumpled.

All those people.

I watched the horror unfold like the majority of my mesmerized compatriots. People jumped from the blast furnace of twisted metal rather than be consumed.

I watched, wondering what happened to Flight 93. Wondering if one of our F16 pilots had to pull that trigger. Horrified at the possibility. Knowing there was only one choice and being sick because of it.

I watched the Pentagon burn. Fearing for the President. Fearing for the White House.

As I watched, I pushed back the fear. I hated being afraid and became very angry. Very, very angry.

I wanted vengeance. I still do. I am disappointed that a bullet from my gun didn’t kill Osama bin Laden. It gives me some small satisfaction that one of our Navy Seals, badasses that they are, received this fine honor. I’m sorry Osama bin Laden can’t be killed again. And again.

This reaction isn’t politically correct, mind you. I recognize that.

It’s not politically correct that I want every single one of those people who laughed at our demise to feel the pain and violation we felt on that brilliant September morning ten years ago.

It’s not politically correct that I believe that people who excuse or justify this behavior are as bad as the perpetrators of the assault.

It’s not politically correct that I have contempt for the uncivilized, backward well of ideological despair that gave rise to these actions.

The rationale for terrorism is the rationale of the serial killer. There is a bleakness and blackness of soul so vast that the only thing that animates his nihilistic life is the death of those who love what he doesn’t–life, love, possibility.

The moral equivalence I see in the face of this depravity makes me sick. It is absolutely disgusting that people can justify or equivocate in the face of such evil.

America, her freedom, creativity, her love of life and liberty, her success, her innocence got attacked on 9/11. The smoldering holes at the Twin Towers are a testament to the greatness our enemies wish to destroy.

And there are some who believe she deserved it. She had it coming. She dressed provocatively. She is more beautiful. She swayed when she walked. She has a bigger house. She has been given everything on a silver platter. She’s greedy. She’s pushy. She’s a whore.

These are all the justifications of the killer, the thief, the rapist, the terrorist, the nihilist, the Nazi.

And there is no rationalization that doesn’t make a sympathizer to this corruption the equivalent of the getaway driver at a bank robbery.

This was built.

And this was destroyed.

The scars from this attack will never go away. America will never be “over it.”

Every TSA feel-up is a reminder. Every bombing in London or Spain or India is a reminder. Every attack at Ft. Hood or on a recruiting center in Arkansas or in Time’s Square or on a flight to Detroit is a reminder.

America, because she is a shining city on a hill, because she reaches so high into the sky, is a target for hate. In a world full of darkness, many want light snuffed out.

So a decade post-9/11, I remember and I am scandalized all over again.

I am not “over it”.

I remember. I remember who did this.

I remember those who died as innocents. I remember those who tried to save the lives of those trapped  and lost their own. I remember those on Flight 93 who forfeited their own lives for their fellow Americans. I remember those who died at the Pentagon.

I remember those who  planned for a long, hard war against a pitiless enemy. I remember the National Guard pilots faced with a suicidal choice. I remember our military and our police and our firefighters and our first responders and those quiet DHS, NSA, CIA and FBI nerds combing through mountains of data for that needle of information to prevent another attack.

I remember our Marines and our Navy and our Army and our National Guard troops who have been asked to serve again and again–who put themselves in grave danger every day hunting the vermin who rejoice at using a dull knife to decapitate an innocent.

I remember as many details as I can. It is the least I can do.

I will never forget. And neither should you.