Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ridley, Say It Ain't So

During my perusing of today's web offerings, I came across this item.

Ridley Scott is probably my favorite modern-day director. (All time, I am still very much a David Lean fan). For the director of "Alien" and "Bladerunner" to proclaim the genre dead is very much a blow to sci-fi fans the world over (myself very much included).

Although, to a certain extent, I think Sir Scott is mistaken. With the explosive popularity of comic book properties, I think one could argue that the sci-fi genre is more popular than ever. It has just evolved (or mutated depending upon your opinion of the comic book genre) from its traditional form of spaceships and space suits.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Call for Resolve

I was reading this essay on National Review Online. In it, the author draws some interesting parallels between the current situation in Iraq and past wars in which the United States has fought, most interestingly the Civil War.

The author, Peter Wehner, makes the point that many wars have begun with an anticipation of a quick victory only to have reality set in. WWI comes most readily to mind. However, I had forgotten that the North had similar expectations of an easy victory after only a few months of the Civil War, only to have reality set in after the First Battle of Bull Run. This rude awakening was followed by the shock of the Second Battle of Bull Run.

Had Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi been leading the Senate or House in 1861, Lincoln would have been inundated with calls to withdraw from the South. Pelosi lieutenant John Murtha would have called to redeploy the Army of the Potomac. Instead Lincoln did what great leaders do during times of conflict. He changed his military leadership and adjusted his military strategy to reflect the facts of the conflict.

This is exactly what George Bush is doing. Yes, there have been mistakes and setbacks in Iraq. However, believing in our goals, Bush has changed the military leadership and allowed his newest commander, Gen. David Petraeus, to craft and implement a new strategy. A strategy that appears to be working.

This is not rocket science. These lessons are simple: resolve of purpose and strategic flexibility. So, what does that say about the leadership of the Democrats that they can't see this?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Oh, brother!

Check out this item from Queen City, Arizona. The principal of Payne Junior High School suspended a 13 year-old student for five days under the school's "zero tolerance" policy for weapons.

"Wow," you say, "It must be serious. Did he bring a gun or a knife to school? Did he threaten his classmates or teachers?"

Uh, no. He drew a picture of a gun on a homework paper. Check out the link above if you want to see a picture of the gun he drew. It doesn't even really look like a gun. According to the student, it was a "doodle" of a "laser gun". In other words, it was a drawing of a gun that doesn't even exist.

Now, if - unlike me - you can see why, in some cases, it might be necessary for a school to suspend a student for a drawing let me point out a few more what I believe are salient facts. First, the boy didn't threaten anybody. He didn't include a hit list next to the drawing of the gun. He didn't depict the gun shooting anybody, much less classmates or teachers.

Why can't some people get it through their thick heads that we are better off with more freedom and less oppressive government control and regulation? I was reading last week about how out-of-control government spending - a fairly recent phenomenon - tracks pretty closely with women's suffrage and the modern liberal movement. Basically, women demand more government intervention, especially after they have children. This, combined with the growth of litigiousness in our society, has led to an explosion of regulation and no shortage of politicians eager to pander for votes.

I just don't understand how it is that these folks don't realize TANSTAAFL.

THERE AIN'T NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH! If you dispense government largesse, that largesse has to be paid for.

I, myself, would rather keep more of my own money and assume a larger share of responsibility for my own safety and security. I care much more about my safety and security than any deskbound bureaucrat trying to impose a "one-size-fits-all" solution on a nation of 300 million people.

Sadly, with this view, I am clearly in the minority.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The United States of America is not a Democracy

I know, I know. It's a republic.

Except it's not either

Our country has morphed into what I call a "celebritocracy". This is a society, nominally governed by the rule of law - unless you're famous. If you happen to get paid for being really, really, really good looking and reciting some lines, or wearing some clothes, then the laws don't apply to you. (Ditto, if you happen to have worked really hard to become 6'8" tall and can lob a round ball through a circular hoop or hit a little ball really far.)

If you happen to have won the genetic lottery (or chose your parents very carefully) then our society's law don't apply to you.

I have several friends and acquaintances who have had DUIs. In a word a DUI sucks. It can really mess up your life. It can restrict your ability to operate a motor vehicle. It will almost certainly cause your insurance rates to go up. And it will cost you more than a pretty penny in lawyer's fees, court costs, drunk driver awareness education program costs and just plain fines.

The same goes for possessing drugs. Every year in this country hundreds of thousands of people are arrested, tried and imprisoned for possessing a plant, or some non-government approved pills or powders. In much the same way that a DUI will mess up your life and cost you thousands of dollars, so will drug possession charges.

But, not if you are a celebrity. Take Lindsay Lohan or Nicole Richie (PLEASE!). These two queens spent a total of 1 day, 82 minutes in jail for a cumulative total of two DUIs and one cocaine possession charge.

And this new form of government is not confined to the United States. It has also spread to England. Look at the antics of "supermodel" Kate Moss and her on-again, off-again boyfriend, unrepentant dope-fiend Pete Doherty (of the British rock band "Babyshambles" - they suck, by the way). Moss was caught on tape snorting a powdered substance (almost certainly cocaine, although let's not rule out heroin, crystal meth or ecstasy all of which can be ingested nasally). British authorities declined to prosecute Moss because they couldn't prove that she was ingesting an illegal substance. (Oh, sure. Back in college, my friends and I used to snort talcum powder all the time.)

Doherty was caught on tape shooting up an unconscious fan with heroin. He keeps getting ordered into rehab, only to be arrested - sometimes within minutes of getting out of rehab - with coke, crack, heroin, ketamine, you name it. What is the judge going to say to him next time? "Mr. Doherty, you are ordered to attend drug rehabilitation and stop using illegal drugs. And this time I really, really mean it."

As John Stossel says, "Give me a break!"

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Coming out of a valley

Ok. I will spare you the usual mea culpa about not posting for so long. Let's hope I am heading for a peak.

What prompted me to write was an excellent essay on National Review Online by Peter Rodman. In it, Rodman analyzes President Bush's recent statements comparing Iraq to Vietnam. The president, rightly in Rodman's (and my) opinion, also included the Khmer Rouge atrocities as part of the legacy of Vietnam.

Rodman compares the situation in Vietnam c. 1972 to present-day Iraq. According to Rodman, there is now a consensus among military historians that at that time the balance of forces in Vietnam had shifted towards the South and against the North. It was exactly at this time that the US Congress voted to begin cutting off aid to South Vietnam.

The same thing happened in Algeria in the 1960s. Just as the French military had broken the back of the Algerian insurgency, public opinion in France had shifted away from continuing the fight.

In other words, just as the war was about to be won, the fickleness of public opinion shifted to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Please, let's not make the same mistake in Iraq.