On V, Obama and the Worship of the State

5 11 2009

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So I watched the premier of the the “re-imagining” of “V” on ABC last night. The series is, of course, a retread of the early-’80s vintage piece of sci-fi cheese that starred the Beastmaster, Jane Badler’s sexy shoulder pads and the blonde chick from The Greatest American Hero. The storyline remains the same. A race of aliens that look just like human beings land on Earth bearing a message of peace and an offer of technological assistance in return for our friendship and a chemical they need to survive. Naturally there’s more to the “Visitors” than meets they eye and as they insinuate themselves more and more into our daily lives, they gradually begin to assume a fascist control over our world, sparking the inevitable rag-tag resistance filled with photogenic rebels.

The good news is, the re-make is actually quite good. I enjoyed it and since everybody knows by now that the aliens are actually carnivorous lizards disguised as humans, the producers wisely chose to get that minor revelation out of the way in the first half hour and move on to the real meat of the story which is apparently a criticism of the Obama Administration and the cult of personality which has grown up around our President — particularly the slavish nature of the mainstream media. It’s tough to miss if you’ve been paying any attention at all to, like, life since the coming of The One. At various points Anna, the leader of the Visitors, makes pretty speeches to the frightened citizens of Earth, addressing themselves to protesters against the aliens’ presence, telling them that embracing change is difficult but that we must resign ourselves to it and promising them all kinds of goodies if only they’ll place themselves in the Visitors’ caring hands. At one point, Anna tells reporter Chad Decker (played by Party of Five’s Scott Wolf) that the Visitors would like to become the Earth’s sole health care providers — literally offering us “Universal” Health Care.

It’s Wolf’s reporter character that makes the criticism most obvious. Decker is a pretty-boy talking head on a cable news channel who has dreams of being a real reporter (a story idea he comes up with is praised by his boss and then handed off to another journalist while Decker is directed to return to his TelePrompTer). Yet when presented with an opportunity to be a real reporter, Decker muffs it — twice. First he actually shuts down fellow journalists who have the temerity to ask Anna some semi-tough questions, telling them to “have some respect.” Having shown himself to be pliable, Decker is then offered the opportunity for the first one-on-one interview with Anna where he’s told to “not ask any questions that might put us in a bad light.” When he objects, he’s told his big exclusive will be cancelled unless he plays ball. He does so and delivers a softball interview, only to be offered an ongoing exclusive arrangement with the Visitors that basically turn Decker into Anna’s Chris Matthews. On accepting this arrangement, he’s actually told by one of the Visitors that “sacrificing one’s principles for the greater good isn’t a bad thing.” That, of course, could be the motto for the Obama Administration.

The big thing though, is the worshipful attitude that the public begins to adopt about the Visitors. They are literally the “Deus ex Machina” — the machine out of the sky that has come to solve all our problems. It’s also the element that’s most changed with the original series which was a pretty explicit analogue for Nazi Germany and a forceful fascist takeover. The difference is mainly in tone. Rather than an explicit takeover, the new series seems to be more about gradually conditioning the populace to depend upon the Visitors for everything and turning gratitude into worship. It’s not for nothing that one of the lead characters in the new series is a Catholic priest who is dismayed rather than overjoyed by the suddenly filled pews in his church (he disagrees with the Pope’s acceptance of the Visitors as God’s creations by pointing out that rattlesnakes are God’s creations too.) He realizes that times of strife can awaken religious longings in people in search of security — longings that can be subverted by those looking for power by replacing God with the State.

It’s this theme that resonates most strongly with Obama. Now before the objections start, I am NOT comparing Barack Obama to Hitler or a Nazi. What I am saying is that — as Jonah Goldberg points out in “Liberal Fascism,” — both American liberalism and fascism share intellectual roots. Both are ultimately concerned with the proper ordering of society and the proper redistribution of wealth along regimented, almost militaristic lines in the interest of complete equality and fairness of outcome. The problem with that, of course, is that that is incompatible with individual free choice, so naturally that’s the first thing that has to go. There’s also the idea of the State as cornucopia — the font of all good things. At the heart of this idea is the belief that it’s the responsibility of the state to care for its citizens in loco parentis, — a key point of contention for those like me who would like the State to stay the Hell out of our business.

Of course, bringing this up irks Obama supporters no end. Thin-skinned as our Dear Leader seems to be, they seem offended by the idea that a mere science fiction series might be criticizing Obama or worse — pointing out the almost religious cult of personality that’s grown up around him — so they do their best to dismiss it. I’ve heard everything from the fact that this re-make was in development before Obama was elected to it being a mistake to read too much into an action-adventure series to the fact that the storyline is a pretty solid match for the original. The last seems pretty ridiculous to me. It’s like saying that the new “Battlestar Galactica” wasn’t about the War on Terror because the original series was a sci-fi re-telling of the Book of Mormon (which it was, by the way.) As for not reading too much into it — this is science fiction people. This is the genre where, as Rod Serling pointed out, “A Martian can say things a politician can’t.” Metaphor and allegory are as natural to the form as rockets and rayguns. Why get so upset? I got over the Anvilicious “red energy is the source of all evil, blue energy is the source of all goodness” political commentary in Astro Boy. You can get over this.

The original “V” showed the “1984”-esque face of fascism — the “iron boot stamping on a human face, forever.” The new one shows the kinder, gentler sort of fascism, the “Brave New World” –esque universal nanny state. It’ll be interesting to see where they go with it and whether Obama’s supporters can be as tolerant of criticism as they claim to be.

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Attention Gays: Democrats are not your Friends

13 10 2009

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I found this little tidbit from from NBC News fascinating. It’s certainly thrown the gay Left into a tizzy. Just a day after the National Equality March where Barney Frank was quoted as saying “The only thing they’re putting pressure on is the grass,” NBC reporter John Harwood says that an anonymous White House source said:

Barack Obama is doing well with 90% or more of Democrats so the White House views this opposition as really part of the Internet left fringe… For a sign of how seriously the White House does or doesn’t take this opposition, one adviser told me those bloggers need to take off the pajamas, get dressed, and realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult.

To that, the only thing I can say is welcome under the bus, gay Americans! It’s getting pretty crowded under here what with all those racists and tea partiers and Green Jobs advisers and angry reverends and other people that aren’t the people Barack Obama once knew. What is it with this President that no matter how often he lashes out and vilifies anyone with the temerity to disagree with or oppose him, people are still shocked when it happens? Is it because you’re on the Left that you’re supposed to be safe? Is it because you’re gay? Excuse me while I laugh for a moment.

Here’s the bottom line, people. It’s not just that Barack “marriage is between one man and one woman” Obama merely gives you lip service to your agenda, it’s that the Democrats are not and have never been your friends. The biggest difference between the Democrats and the Republicans has always been that Democrats are a fractious alliance of left-wing splinter groups who have agreed to unite and help advance each other’s agendas — despite the fact that they very often have little to do with or often have conflicting beliefs. The Right has its factions also, but there’s a lot more common ground between social conservatives and libertarians than there is between a global warming doomsayer, a militant feminist and a “tax-everything-till-it-can’t-breathe” socialist.

Very often all that holds these groups together is the fear of the “evil religious right” and the Taliban-like regime that would undoubtedly take over the country if we allowed a Republican to win an election. This is encapsulated in the classic question — “What are you going to do? Vote Republican?” Well here’s my question. If you’re gay, is there a difference between how far your agenda advanced under George W. Bush than there was under Bill Clinton who ushered in DOMA and “Don’t ask, Don’t tell?” Bush was in power for eight years, six of them with a Republican-controlled Congress, yet somehow those lavendar-colored gulags remained just a figment of some overheated imaginations.

Gays have always been a reliable source of votes for Democrats and as such, they’ve never felt the need to do more than give lip service to the issues that matter to you and as long as you vote monolithically Democratic, they never will. I’m not suggesting that you start voting Republican, but there are plenty of other ways to get your point across. Start running candidates whose first allegiance is to your agenda in Democratic primaries. Reach across the aisle to people you think of as being “on the right” and you might find more allies than you think on issues that don’t pivot on your sexuality. As I’ve said in the past you don’t have to be straight to want lower taxes and less government interference in your life and you’re not betraying your sexuality if you don’t think single-payer health care is a good idea.

As for me — if you want to get married, good luck God bless. Everyone should have the right to be miserable with the partner of their choice.

For you, you’ve already come out of the pink closet, it’s OK to come out the blue one too.





Attention right-wing fruitcakes: You’re not helping!

1 10 2009

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From the “stopped clocks are right twice a day department” comes this story from Talking Points Memo about a Newsmax column by John L. Lewis suggesting a military coup against Obama. That last link goes to TPM’s reproduction of the column that was quickly pulled off of the Newsmax Web site. Reading it, it’s obvious that TPM is right. This is exactly the kind of incendiary speech that the Left keeps claiming that the Right is putting out there in its resistance to the Obama Administration. “They do it too!” really isn’t going to cut it on this one either. “They” are crazy. Their entire power base relies on appeals to emotion and narcissism that bypass things like logic and facts. I don’t care how many films or books they put out advocating the assassination of President Bush, we need to be better than that.

It’s not just because it’s the right thing to do, either. Consider that for all the assassination chic that came from our intellectual superiors on the left, they’re also the side that’s really big on gun control. I think one of the reasons that the right is better at controlling its crazies than the left is because we tend to live by the old Heinlein aphorism that “An armed society is a polite society.” Put simply, the right isn’t dangerous because we have guns — we have guns because we’re dangerous. When actually confronted with the details of the Obama Administration’s agenda, the people are starting to reject it. That’s good. When we wake up and take action, we’re effective. Think about it for a minute — it isn’t conservatives and libertarians who keep changing their name from “liberals” to “progressives” to whatever the left is calling itself this week. It’s still acceptable to be those things because our agenda doesn’t offend reason.

A column like this does nothing but hand a rhetorical weapon to our ideological opponents and — let’s be honest — stoke the crazies on our own side. There are a lot of reasons to oppose the Obama Administration and as the season of the tea party and the town hall rolls on, we can see what can be done within the bounds of our system. Our republic will survive Obama (and we can start by getting out and voting in the 2010 election!). What it can’t survive is the side that actually has the guns even entertaining the possibility of a junta. That is unacceptable. The Left will squawk, point and say “I told you so!” Let them. That’s what they do. Real condemnation for something like this must come from our side of the aisle.

Update: Newsmax distances itself from the article. Sigh. You don’t have to be psychic to see how this is going to play out.

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Verb! That’s What’s Happening (We’re All Raaaaacists Now)

19 09 2009

(read the whole essay here!)

John O’Sullivan’s first law is that groups that aren’t specifically right-wing tend to become left-wing over time. I believe this because the process is pretty easy to understand and see as it happens. The Right by its very nature as conservatives is reactionary — acting to stop some sort of social change. The kind of small-l liberalism that lies behind the great social movements begins in order to address some perceived hole or injustice in the current social structure. There is nothing wrong with this. indeed, it’s the finest tradition of “liberalism” that they are about liberty — freeing other human beings from the yoke of oppression.

That brings us to “Verb! (That’s What’s Happening)” and the sad decay of a once powerful and important word in our language — racism.

This is the latest essay in my “Politics of Schoolhouse Rock” series and it’s one I was a bit scared of writing. It’s about the health care debate, tea parties, the word “racist,” and how social movements get co-opted to serve agendas that would horrify their founders and lead those they purport to liberate to a place very different than where they think they’re going. Plus it’s got a real catchy tune.

I have no doubt that some who read it will be quick to level the charge of “racism” and it shows how much power that word still has in our society that hearing it leveled at me will no doubt sting. To this I can merely throw up my hands and say that if wishing for a society where we are judged by the content of our character rather than the color of our skin is racist, I’ll take that hit. In the end, the only way to have a truly color-blind society is start acting color-blind.

As Stacy McCain would say, please remember that there are five “A’s” in raaaaacism

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Words of Praise for President Obama

17 09 2009

Anyone whose read this blog knows that I’m not really a fan of our President’s policies. I swore when he was elected however, that I would never descend to the level of vitriol that was directed at President Bush when he was in office. As with Mr. Bush, I would defend and support Obama when I thought he was right, and I would criticize him when I thought he was wrong. I do not hate Obama. I do not love him. I judge him. He’s my President and that’s my right and my duty as a citizen. So it is that I’d like to praise the President for his signature on the execut/capture order for Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, one of 4 co-conspirators wanted in the 2002 bombing of an Israel-owned hotel in Mombasa, Kenya. Nabhan is by any stretch of the imagination a bad man and the world is better without his presence.

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It would be really easy for President Obama to back off our commitment to Afghanistan. The anti-war left, quiet for these past few months, is beginning to make some noises again, joined by jackasses on the right (I’m looking at you George Will) eager to pull out of Afghanistan because it will make Obama look bad. That is a huge mistake. I’m never eager for our country to enter a war and I’m willing to concede that Iraq may have been a mistake, but as far as I’m concerned, once boots are on the ground, the war must be brought to a successful conclusion. To paraphrase Ender Wiggin, it isn’t just winning the battle, it’s winning so decisively that future battles never happen. I say this with the full awareness that my support means people — Americans, Afghans and Iraqis — will die because of it. I hate that. I don’t want anybody to be killed. What I hate more though is the idea of emboldening America’s enemies into yet more attacks by becoming a paper tiger. We still haven’t recovered from President Carter’s disastrous attempt to rescue the hostages in Iran in 1979. Sometimes life doesn’t give us pretty choices.

I hope President Obama has the courage to do what needs to be done in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I don’t want him to “fail” any more than I wanted President Bush to fail us in the myriad ways he did (did the man not know he had a veto pen?). A liberal friend asked me after Obama’s election “how I was taking it,” as if politics were some sort of team sport. Well it is, only we’re all supposed to be on the same side, America’s. I was fine with Obama being elected, that’s the nature of the system. If he fulfills the greatest hopes of his admirers, I’d be happy to vote for his re-election, though that’s looking like a real long-shot at this point. In the mean time, when I agree with Obama, I’ll give him the credit he deserves.

Good on you, Mr. President! Keep it up.

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If a Communist Falls in the White House and There’s No Microphone To Hear It, Does He Make a Sound?

6 09 2009

A cautionary note on Van Jones

It seems that Van Jones is resigning. Well, good. In typical Obama fashion it was a quiet deed done in the dead of night with no one around to hear the wheels of the bus go thumpty thump over a man who’s motto seems to be “better-red-than-dead.” Allow me to sound a cautionary note to those that are currently parading around the halls in triumph — Van Jones was low-hanging fruit. Hiring him was the kind of galactically stupid move only someone who’s never actually run anything other than a political campaign would make. It dovetails nicely with the colossal level of incompetence the Administration’s shown over the last nine months.

The thing is, this won’t last. Obama’s greatest weakness is that he no longer has a higher office to campaign for so he’s finally being forced to actually try to deliver. He’s not stupid, though. It’s a mark of just how powerful Obama’s position is — especially when it comes to the legacy media — is that what’s seen as a triumph for the Right is occurring in the dead of night with nary a peep from the New York Times and outright flackery from CBS.

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Put simply, the Obama Administration will never be weaker than it is right now. If over the next year or so up until the mid-term elections the opposition can’t get it’s act together, articulate a coherent alternative that turns the Republicans into a party worth voting for and translate Obama’s mistakes into electoral victories, than low-level triumphs like this are all we have to look forward to for the rest of our soujourn in the political wilderness. Enjoy the moment, folks. I don’t want to take it away from you, but Obama’s still President for the next three years. This fight’s far from over.

If you’re looking for a great round-up of Van Jones goodness, you might want to hit up Stacy McCain’s site.

Edd Dricoll’s got lots of good stuff too.

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And The Latest Person Kicked From the Raid…

5 09 2009

Would be Van Jones, President Obama’s “green jobs” czar. As has been making the rounds in the right-wing blogosphere, it seems that Mr. Jones has shall we say — a somewhat sinister view of the events of 9/11 (H/T Five Feet of Fury’s Kathy Shaidle). Oh, it hasn’t happened yet and it still might not, but given Mr. Obama’s predilection for jettisoning “inconvenient” people the moment that they’re no longer of use to him, I’d say that Mr. Jones is probably being encouraged to “spend more time with his family” right about now.

It’s actually funny. As Stacy McCain points out:

And yet, somehow, despite all his success, this Ivy League-educated Fortunate Son sees nothing but misery and oppression everywhere. Am I the only one who finds this bizarre?

That would only be because Mr. McCain has never raided with someone like Van Jones. I have. To extend the whole Obama Administration as a bad raid metaphor, Van Jones is the kind of raider that whines and cries and fiddles with the DKP system to make sure he gets twice as many points as anybody else in the guild and then complains that “it’s not fair!” when the boss doesn’t drop any equipment for his class. No matter how close he is to the guild leader, eventually everyone else is gonna kick him out because every time he opens his mouth he runs down the guild’s reputation.

In honor of Mr. McCain’s Rule 5 and the bent of this blog, I am putting up a picture of a sexy Night Elf from World of Warcraft. Post continues after this.

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In more real-world terms, there’s a subsection of the left who have made their bones and fortunes using interest group grievances and get caught flat-footed when they’re suddenly thrust into a position where results actually matter. Actually strike that. He’s the “green jobs czar.” His results don’t matter but they will be measured which is roughly the same level of kryptonite. What’s happening to Jones is probably what would happen if Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton were forced to get a real job. Or a job.

Given that the Obama’s social circle seems to be filled with these sorts of people and their vetting process is less than stellar (and why haven’t those people been fired?) this is probably going to keep happening. So far, the only people who seem to be completely safe in the Obama Administration are Rahm Emanuel and Robert Gibbs. Gibbs is probably safe because he’s basically Renfield to Emanuel’s Count Dracula and Emanuel — well, because he’s Dracula.

And yes — this post was generated in shameless subservience to Rule 2.

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