Archive for June, 2009

Liberty Isn’t A Four Letter Word

Posted in Economy, Politics, Technology, Top Posts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2009 by raingeg

Sean Penn, Danny Glover, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Sheehan, and Kevin Spacey. That is a list of celebrities and activists that have recently (within the last couple of years) visited with the totalitarian leftist known as Hugo Chavez. The man that rails on oil tycoons, yet rules one of the most oil rich countries in the world, effectively controlling its oil. Maybe I’m wrong but it kind of seems like he plays both the tycoon and president in this instance.

Not only are we now seeing protests in Iran, now we are seeing smaller protests in Venezuela. This, because the Chavez regime plans to shut down a television station critical of his presidency.

Filled with one common desire, a hatred for former President George W. Bush, Penn and Chavez seemingly became fast buddies two years ago, as they made their way through the Venezuelan country side. Chavez, who pals around with the oh so wonderful Fidel Castro, refused to renew the license of Radio Caracas Television in 2007 because they were anti-Chavez. Now he plans to the same to the station Globovision by using regulatory measures. Please read that again people, regulatory measures. That is why I despise Sean Penn and his ilk, because they go to these totalitarian countries that have leaders (AKA dictators) that can’t even take a little criticism from their own media.

Regulatory measures, sounds a bit like the fairness doctrine now doesn’t it. Yet these progressives in our country claim that all of our ills can be blamed on one thing, a lack of regulation. In the name of “fairness” we will silence those with whom we disagree. In an age where information is constantly flowing we need fairness? I don’t think so. This is a power struggle people, if they are not trying to take over the media, they are taking over companies. The government now has a 60 percent stake in GM and has taken 30 billion of your tax dollars and injected it into GM to get it on its feet again, you now own GM and you didn’t even ask for it. Chavez jokes “Hey, Obama has just nationalized nothing more and nothing less than General Motors. Comrade Obama! Fidel, careful or we are going to end up to his right.”

Now they plan to do the same thing with your “health care,” or what really should be called health insurance, and take more of your money via cap and trade in the name of saving the planet from climate change. Again this is a power struggle, and Washington is not just sticking its fingers into the private sector, its grabbing the private sector by the neck and choking it to death, and you will foot the medical bills for the poor thing.

First take health insurance. The free market is based on competition, what do you think will happen when the government is offering the American people at an unrealistically low and uncompetitive price? People will undoubtedly flock to the cheaper option, forcing the private health insurance providers to raise their price just to stay alive, essentially pushing them out of business. And the old adage you get what you pay for strongly comes into play here. Quality anything is not cheap.

Now to cap and trade. Please tell me who pays for taxes that are enforced on companies? The consumer. The consumer has always and will always pay for any tax or regulatory measure imposed on a private company. That rule applies to this new 1,000 plus page bill that Nancy Pelosi wants passage on. You must understand this. If companies are going to be penalized and have to pay for the carbon that they emit into the air, you, the consumer, will end up paying for that penalty. Even Warren Buffet understands this. And is this a good thing to be doing to the American people when they can hardly pay the bills right now? No.

As for Sean Penn and people like him, they are supposed to be the ones fighting imperialism here. They are supposed to be the ones on the side of what, liberty? Why don’t you ask today’s Venezuelan protestors if they have liberty. Penn, you were wrong about Chavez. You did a good job narrating Dog Town and Z Boys and you are a fairly good actor, but you have a screw loose, and I don‘t feel like writing about you any more, you’re not worth my time.

In no way am I saying that President Obama is the next Hugo Chavez. While Chaves’ Venezuela is not a mirror image of today’s America, its too close for comfort.

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Transformers 2: Rise of the Fallen

Posted in Movie Review with tags , , on June 25, 2009 by raingeg

Yesterday afternoon I bought some tickets for a midnight showing of Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. It took about three hours to get everyone situated to go into the theatre. We actually sat down at about 10:45 and we sat for the next hour and fifteen minutes waiting. We stared at the screen, watching the monotonous slides with trivia questions on them, with the occasional interruption of a popcorn and soda ad. So that got old pretty fast. The two young girls that were sitting next to me decided to leave their nerd/stoner friends about fifteen minutes after I sat down. After wondering why these fairly attractive young ladies were with these quite geeky guys, I received an answer to my question, when they returned to their seats wearing Transformers shirts and boxer shorts. Finally after an hour of slowly drinking a Dr. Pepper, sitting with my friends to my right and the girls with their nerd/stoner guys to my left, the real previews started.

Generally I am excited to see the real previews, but this time they were awful. I was not that enthused by the next installment of the Harry Potter series, though the girls next to me sure didn’t mind showing their admiration for Harry. They had a preview for some M. Knight Shyamalan movie that looked as though it was based on an anime cartoon. And after The Happening I don’t think I can trust this guy to make a decent movie. Other previews included some new alien movie and G.I. Joe, which looks to be about the same or worse than Spiderman 2, and that is bad in my book!

Now to the movie, I will try to make this really vague so it doesn’t give away any of the details. First, it’s a long movie, remember that Dr. Pepper I talked about earlier, don’t drink one before you see this movie, I did, its not fun. Next, its rated PG-13 and its even pushing the limits there, if your kids are not 13 don’t bring them to the movie, see it first and judge for yourself, but its rated that way for a reason.

The plot of the movie is basic and it works fine, it’s the plausibility factor that ruins part of the movie for me. Just taking into consideration the enormous amount of money that it must take reconstruct what these transformers destroy is mind boggling. I know its just a movie, but it starts to be a little bit much. Tucson can’t even rebuild a downtown that already exists in a 10 year time frame, the enormous amount of damage done to these cities must ruin their economies and take decades to repair.

The action is probably the strongest part of the movie. Its great fun to watch them transform and the battle scenes are pretty amazing. The battles that take place in wide open deserts and forests are much better than the ones that take place in cities, it’s a bit easier to believe.

As far as humor goes, it’s a bit racy for a PG-13 movie. There is a lot more cussing and sexual innuendoes in this movie compared to the first Transformers. Scenes that got the most laughs were generally either sexual in nature or awkward for Sam. There is also drug consumption that ends up not being that big of a deal and what they call “sci-fi violence” what I call Transformers fighting, again not a really big deal. At times Meagan Fox, who plays Sam’s girlfriend Mikaela, is wearing some pretty skimpy clothing and is not afraid to flaunt it. The other girl at college try’s to force herself on Sam and she too is at times scantly dressed. I am not entirely bothered by a lot of this stuff, but I’ve heard many parents complaining that it goes a little bit too far, so I am giving you fair warning, this is more racy than the first movie.

The political angle is interesting. You might remember that they poked fun at former President Bush in the first movie. This time around they don’t really overtly make fun of President Obama, but they do poke fun at his foreign policy approach. They send in a Washington bureaucrat to “oversee” the operations that the transformers are involved in. It finally comes out that the government does not want to work with the transformers, fearing that their presence has brought wrath form the Decepticons to the country. Then he goes on to say that they might be willing to negotiate with the Decepticons, hmmm, seems a little similar to real life now doesn‘t it. I’m surprised he didn’t ask Optimus Prime to address him by his tile, whatever that might be.

The ethical angle is interesting as well. The transformers chastise humans because they wage wars. Yet throughout the whole film you get to see what amounts to be an extremely long and damaging war between good and evil transformers. It seems a bit hypocritical of the transformers to chasten humans for their capacity to wage wars yet they are fighting in a war that hardly ever ceases.

All-in-all, its alright. I wouldn’t buy the movie and I wouldn’t see it again. It was definitely better than those Spiderman movies that I mentioned earlier, but it doesn’t hold a candle to last summers The Dark Knight. If you are over the age of 13 and/or not easily offended go see the movie for yourself and find out. If you don’t like anything that pushes the line a bit then don’t go see the movie, wait until you can fast-forward.

Morality Shmorality: Moral equivalency and its dangerous consequences

Posted in American Literature, Humanity, Politics with tags , , on June 9, 2009 by raingeg

It amazes me that there are people that are afraid to make moral judgments, and for that they claim moral superiority over those who do. Allow me to show you how these people think, take Al Qaeda and The United States, lets stand back for a second and look at these two entities, but we must refrain from making any moral judgments about them. Lets point out something obvious and go from there, the United States kills people, as does Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.

See, we’re both using the same tactics, we’re killing people! Often times that is as far as the argument goes with those that have this irrational fear of making moral judgments. It stems from another irrational fear, the fear to take a side. And that fear stems from the desire to live in a perfect world. A desire labored for in vain. They mistakenly make this assumption that peace and war are different positions on the political spectrum, when they are not, they are states of being. They also make the assumption that we are to blame because we’ve “offended” the enemy. First, you can be at war and you can be in a time of peace. You can be in favor of peace, as all should be, but you cannot have desire for peace and have it exist if it does not, because its existence is vastly out of your control. Secondly, just because you cower in the corner offending no one does not mean that you are at peace, and it surely does not mean that the enemy won’t kill you, that type of “peace” if it is a type, is artificial.

You’d be hard pressed to find moral humans that are actually in favor of war or like war, but you can find a lot of moral people that don’t mind a bit the needed action of killing a killer or the needed action of freeing a people from an oppressor.

This problem comes from what I call a perspective deprived world and a world that desires easy moral decisions rather than difficult ones. It is very easy to say that something is bad, but it is incredibly hard to say that something that looks bad might not be bad, but in fact it might be good. The easy road can work for a while, but at some point as you lackadaisically make your way down the “easy” road you become complacent with its easiness, you become weak and defenseless, and you will find yourself at the end of an oppressors boot heel and eventually dead.

Lets apply this idea to the original argument against war, which essentially boils down to the idea that because people die it must be bad, and because the United States is doing the killing they too must be bad. Allow me to shed light on the issue. Who is the US killing? They are killing the enemy, an enemy that seeks to kill and destroy innocent lives. But the US is killing innocents, are they not just as guilty as the terrorists? No, why should they be, the United States is not aiming to kill civilians, they don’t want it to happen. But just because you don’t want something to happen doesn’t justify it happening? Yes, in fact it does, the death of innocents is to be blamed on the terrorist and not the one trying save the innocent ones form these terrorists. Conversely, just because you want something to happen does not at all mean that it will happen.

Take for example a man held at gunpoint while driving a car. You must assume that this man has no way of fighting back, no way of removing himself from the situation. The maniacal man holding the driver at gunpoint has a bomb laden building down the street filled with 200 hostages just waiting to be detonated. The man with the gun wants the driver to deliver some drugs. If the man does not drive through a crosswalk filled with people, essentially running them over and killing them, the man will blow up the building. What, then, should this man do? A. Run over the people killing 10 or 15 people? B. Refuse to drive through the crosswalk, because its “morally” wrong, essentially letting the 200 perish? It seems only right that the man should choose A, run over the 15 and save the 200. Is the man driving then to blame for the death of the 15? He cannot be blamed because the only reason he is in that situation is because of the hostage taker.

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “The Gray Champion” an oppressed New England is at the brink of a small war. “James II, the bigoted successor of Charles the Voluptuous, had annulled the charters of all the colonies, and sent a harsh and unprincipled soldier to take away our liberties and endanger our religion.” That soldier was Sir Edmund Andros, Sir Edmund and his men begin marching on a crowd of civilians, who are undoubtedly overpowered by the Red Coats. Cry’s for a “champion” come from the crowd as the people are looking for a way out of the situation. Then an old venerable man comes from the crowd, fearlessly walks up to Sir Edmunds army and speaks with them in a voice that beacons listeners. He brings news of James II soon to be demise. His words rally the crowd and start a fire underneath them, his voice “stirred their souls” and helped them confront the soldiers, “ready to convert the very stones of the street into deadly weapons.” Needless to say Sir Edmund does the smart thing and backs down, for reasons unknown.

Where is our gray champion? I wish he would come and save us. It is not the Red Coats or people of the like that we face, it is not even the terrorists that are our worst enemy. We are our own worst enemy, our desire to appease and to please those who wish to kill us will weaken us, as well as our desire to wish peace into existence. Imagine if the Gray Champion in all his glory had gone up to Sir Edmund and said “I wish we didn’t have to fight” or “no offense but can‘t we work this out?” Sir Edmund would’ve trampled over the champion and the people would have been complacent and had no desire to overthrow Sir Edmund.

In C.S. Lewis’ “Why I Am Not A Pacifist” he says “all we have to fear from all the kinds of adversity, severally, is collected together in the life of a soldier on active duty.” He then goes on to list everything that is to be feared from a soldier. Later he says that “…pacifism threatens you with almost nothing.” He goes on to say that he cannot be pacifist because he suspects that his wishes had directed his decision. That is a very good reason why the plight of the pacifist or the modern person that refuses to make a decision about moral questions, for fear that one might offend, actually lacks morality, because it is in fact based on artificial or contrived morality. And it all stems from their “wishes” or their desire for something to be, therefore, if I desire it, it must be, when that reasoning is completely false and baseless.

If one wishes for the sun to stop shining at noon it will not happen, one must pick himself up and go indoors to escape its burn. We have to act, if feelings are hurt in the process we must regard that as a small casualty. It would be far worse to have no feelings hurt with large human casualties, while we all sit helpless at the hands of a maniacal dictator as he keeps the “peace.” Surely, if the same liberty seeking spirit that existed in hearts of the revolutionaries, in the abolitionists and slaves, and in the men that stormed the beaches of Normandy exists today, I fear not, despots will be overturned. But if that spirit is dying, or close to dead, I fear, not for myself or the others like me, but for those who killed it. Freedom is a large responsibility, and if you freely abdicate your liberty and allow for evil to triumph, all out of fear, a fear that you might offend, you might as well just count yourselves as dead subjects.