Review of “Taking Chance”

This isn’t really a proper review, just my own rantings on the subject. :)

I was all excited to watch Inception tonight…but it was a little too chaotic for my parents, so we watched Taking Chance instead. It is the story of a Marine who volunteers to take the body or “remains” (as they say in the movie) from the East Coast to a little town in Montana.

As I said on Facebook, it was a heartbreaking movie. Why? Because the message was so clear: War is good. War is noble. Go sacrifice your life for the “greater good,” give up your individuality, your uniqueness, and join the ranks of others who must give all, for our “interests.” And when you die, you’ll come home a hero and everyone at the airports will pause as your coffin is being carried by. And the VFW groups will hold parties in your honor. And hundreds of people will come to your funeral. Everyone will admire your courage and bravery.

What really annoyed me is how they never showed the Marine’s face. Now, come on…Hollywood has no qualms whatsoever when it comes to obscenities (I’m using this in the classic Greek sense, of things that ought to stay “off scene” because they are too graphic or violent) and moviemakers never flinch when it comes to portraying blood and guts and gore. But no, when it is a soldier we can’t do that! We’ll only give some beautiful shots of his crisp and bright uniform, his shiny buttons and pure white gloves. But not his face, because after all, the government said it was not recommended for viewing. Since when does Hollywood care if things are too terrible to be viewed? But no, if young people saw the ugliness and the violence, they might not want to join the military! And then what good would the movie be?

So throughout the whole movie, every time the casket was being transported, people would stop and put their hands over their hearts. Airport workers stopped. Passengers on the planes stopped. Cars slowed down for them on the road. Come on? Really? That’s not realistic, it doesn’t seem. It is like everyone “sensed” something special and stopped. Since when does that happen in real life? Now I know, I don’t exactly get around much, but it just doesn’t seem right. Everyone was bending over backwards to honor this Marine. It seems that in real life people would just tend to ignore a person in uniform, treat them like everyone else, or say something negative to the Marine…if they were one of those awful leftist anti-war people (just being sarcastic…).

And none of the military officers seemed to understand the futility and tragedy of the war. Oh yeah, this is based on a true story of a soldier in the War in Iraq. That’s the specific war we’re talking about, Bush’s war. Anyways, either everyone was proud of their “service” or regretted that they had not given more to the cause. I think that in real life veterans come back either haunted by their experiences or disillusioned by the reality of war. There was none of that in this movie.

And I don’t think the government gives each fallen soldier such elaborate and detailed attention. It was really quite ridiculous to think of the all time spent on one body and coffin, when you multiply that by all the deaths that occur each month in the war. No wonder we’re not winning the war, everyone is too busy escorting caskets home!

However, I don’t want this to sound harsh or ungrateful. I have deep respect for anyone who is willing to give their lives in any way. I’m not that brave. The tragedy is that these poor souls got caught up in this great net of power struggles and government interests. This trap is deadly for many. And for those who live, the scars haunt them forever. The tragedy is that anyone has given their life for such a futile purpose. I mourn with the family of those who have fallen. I mourn so much for the dead that I wish to find a way to keep others from that fate. Instead of saying, “It is a terrible tragedy that Chance died. He was a good young man, he will be deeply missed. Now I’m going to go over there too” (in the movie Chance’s sister and her fiancee were both in the military) I say, “It is a terrible tragedy that Chance died. He was a good young man, he will be deeply missed. Let’s keep others from dying there as well. Let’s not go on repeating this tragedy ad infinitum, but stop the killing and stop the hatred.”

There is a very fine line between government-worship and disrespect for those who have died in the war. I wish to maintain a balance between opposing a pointless war and respecting the individuals who gave their all, no matter what their cause.

So I told my dad we need a good Ron Paul speech (I was thinking of the neat remix of his speech to Congress, “What If?”) to straighten things out again. :)

Hello, Thursday!

You probably didn’t read “Bleak House” by Dickens anytime recently (if you did, and you actually read the whole thing, congratulations!) but if you recall, there’s a rather funny line in it that I thought of this morning. Well, it isn’t an extremely funny line. Dickens was good at introducing comic relief characters who were, really, very funny. No one but a Scrooge could help laughing at Mrs. Jiggleby and her children tumbling up and down the stairs while she devotes all her attentions to helping these poor orphaned children on the bank of some obscure river in Africa. But this line I’m referring to is a little more difficult to appreciate. You’ll have to read the whole book to get the full flavor of it. But here goes, “the wind is in the east.” Funny, right? Well, you see, this line was often repeated in the book by a certain character. I can’t quite remember this character’s name, but they were one of the main players (there were only like 25 main players in Bleak House), I have a vague feeling it was some elderly and eccentric man. And whenever anything wasn’t right, a disaster was looming, bad news was announced, anything of that sort, he’d murmur, “oh, the wind is in the east.” After a while it got to be rather amusing. But I thought of it today because the wind is in the south and that means it is extremely cold in my room. I know that when the wind is in the south, I will have to wear several layers.

On another subject, December is such a frustrating month. I have all these things I need to do before Christmas so I can have a nice relaxing break, but the days just slip away and I don’t seem to be any closer to my goal. The last thing I knew it was December 1st, and now suddenly it is the 9th. What happened? I don’t know.

And related to December, I’m a Facebook fan of the page “Save Bradley Manning.” Bradley Manning was the young soldier who leaked the very revealing video of cold-blooded murder in Afghanistan…done by “our side.” This soldier has been in prison for 197 days. He will be turning 23 around Christmas. In prison. So on this Facebook page someone said something about sending holiday cards to him. And then I realized this would be a great project for my sisters and I to do together. They also encourage you to send a card to your U.S. Representative, urging them to support the release of Bradley Manning, not that they actually would, but hey, it deserves a try. It is hard sometimes for me to really lecture the girls as they aren’t interested in all this theory and abstract ideas. But to actually be doing something hands-on, I think that’d help them realize the significance of it. We’d have an opportunity to discuss whistleblowers in other eras. What happened to people who didn’t like what Hitler was doing? What happened to “traitors” under Stalin? And then we could explore the argument that says, “the soldier agreed to support the government, he was breaking his contract by releasing this information” and hopefully the girls would see that human life trumps contracts. It is more important to save human life than to keep an agreement. But I want the girls to think this out on their own and come up with their own examples. We could also talk about indefinite detention, and what it is like to be in prison, without knowing when you might be released. Without having a chance to prove yourself innocent in a fair court. As the girls and I just studied the French Revolution, we could compare this situation (in a very broad sense) to the Reign of Terror, how people were sent to prison without any sort of trial. They were just “counter-revolutionaries” and their basic human rights were not respected.

So we could talk about all of that…while making Christmas cards. It would be better than the girls just sitting still and staring at me. Sounds like a plan, eh? If you want to do it, here’s the info. I’ll let you know how it goes. :)

Bring Them Home!

I’m sometimes accused of being “anti-military,” as if that’s as bad as being “anti-life.” But I wish to clarify my position on this. I’m not against the military, if by military you mean the individuals who are out there risking their lives. If that’s what you mean, then I’m all for them. I get a little misty-eyed when I see a reunion of a soldier and his family. I do care deeply about those soldiers. In fact, I care for them so much that it pains me to think of these people giving up these years of their life, precious time with their family, their career, etc…not to mention their very life for something so unnecessary. The military is so important to me that I don’t want to see their efforts wasted and innocent lives lost. Let them live their lives. Let them spend time with their children. Let the Christians among the military grow in their knowledge of God’s grace, instead of daily being bombarded with murder, evil, and immorality. Let them pursue their own interests. Let them be individuals trying to achieve their own goals. And when we really need to be defended, perhaps against the greatest enemy of all–the state, then let them come out and protect us. But don’t make them sit around in other countries helplessly watching over the deaths of children and the elderly. Don’t make them the target of frustration, anger and revenge in places where our military has been stationed for over 50 years and appears to have no intention of leaving anytime soon. Let them come home!

Thank You, Bush…for the TSA

I guess the title of this post gives it all away. There’s been much commotion these days over the TSA. Haven’t you noticed? It is here, and here, if that’s not enough, then here, here and here. As many are saying, it is just out of control. There is no way that anyone will convince me to fly while there are still these scanners, still these pat-downs, still the horrible TSA. I’d rather miss Mises U or seeing Ron Paul than go through that. And I hope the conservatives are happy now. I hope the Republicans are satisfied. This is the result of their fear-mongering, of their insensible rage and hate against anyone who might be Muslim.

You must be truthful and realize that we just can’t blame the Democrats for this one. They’re not big into this xenophobic mania and intense nationalism. If anything some Democrats (not necessarily the politicians but the Democratic activists, writers, etc…) are advocates of human rights and dignity. Being searched by the TSA is not upholding human dignity.

It is the Republicans who say that the end justifies the means. That it doesn’t matter that the TSA is a blatant affront to all that we claim to believe. “If we don’t listen to the TSA some evil Muslims will come blow up America and then where will we be? There won’t be any great American principles then.” It is rather ironic, these are the people who are deathly afraid of Shari’ah law being instated in America. “Can you imagine, my daughter might have to wear a burqa!” But somehow it is okay for some absolute stranger to give your daughter an invasive pat-down. Yeah.

I know that everyone will blame Obama for this. But it isn’t Obama’s fault. It is Bush’s fault. It is his fault for promoting the idea that either you are a fervent nationalist or a terrorist plotting to destroy America. There is no room in his ideology for those who simply want to be free and to be left alone.

So if you have the unfortunate occasion to go through airport security, just thank our dear president, George Bush.

The High Cost of War

A report just came out, revealing that it costs NATO $50 million to kill a single Taliban insurgent. So as The New American points out, the Republicans will respond to this news and say, “oh, well, let’s try to make killing more efficient. If we are efficient enough at killing ‘them’ then we’ll win!” instead of thinking that perhaps it is better to save a human life than to save $50 million.

Bush: The Greater Threat to Liberty

Note: This statement is made in relation to the former president and the current President Obama. There are some who have come before and some who will probably come after who are greater threats to our liberty.

Last night after walking out on the Nightly News (I figured I’d be kicked out of the room anyways…for my adamant yelling at the TV screen) I made the extraordinary statement that Bush was a far worse president than President Obama. After reflection I realize that it wasn’t all that extraordinary, but it sounds better that way, doesn’t it? So I had to explain this puzzling statement to my audience, namely, my mother. Bush and Obama are both wolves, but Bush is in sheep’s clothing, so he’s obviously more dangerous, with such a clever disguise. Just think about it. You won’t hear any pro-lifers protest the innocent blood shed in the Mideast to find the elusive and paradoxical Bin Ladin who is sometimes captured, sometimes killed, and sometimes prowling the world to murder Americans because we are free. You won’t hear the conservative pro-lifers protesting the killing of babies, children, women, and elderly folks in other countries…because of our invasive and out-of-control wars. You will hear the conservatives and Tea Partiers longing for the “good old days” when we had such a nice-looking, kind, compassionate, Christian president. Never mind that he instigated the murdering of thousands. Never mind that he was responsible for one of the most intrusive bills that have nearly entirely stripped away the Bill of Rights and given the government unlimited power to watch, search, arrest, and detain Americans, the Patriot Act. Never mind that he didn’t really make the government smaller and decrease spending. Never mind that he didn’t lower the taxes. But those were the good old days…I find it interesting to compare Bush and Obama. The former is as American as American can get. His nice accent, his down-to-earth-ness…”here is one of us,” in other words. And on the other hand you have Obama who, as we recently discovered from his trip, grew up in Indonesia and probably relates to that culture more than the American culture. Lest I be called a xenophobe, let me explain. It really makes no difference to me, I don’t think Bush is superior to Obama because he grew up here. I don’t care where a president grew up, if for the sole reason that I don’t want a president.

And I wonder if somehow Bush is actually the model American, in all he does and all he says. Not the American of the American Revolution, for that’d be Ron Paul. But perhaps Bush is the manifestation of all that is truly modern America. This “modern” mindset goes back to the dear President Teddy Roosevelt…and probably even farther back to Lincoln. This mindset that we know what is best for all people in all places and times, that it is our duty, even our God-given duty to make everyone do just as we believe they ought to do. From Prohibition to the War in Iraq, this self-righteous, “I’m better than you, so you must listen to me, and if you don’t, look at all my guns and tanks…” has pervaded our culture. I don’t think it is done on purpose. I think that the average American has good intentions, and only those at the very top realize what is going on. We probably have some of that “City on the Hill” stuff left over, secularized and kidnapped by the government. It is the mindset that America is better than the rest of the world. This type of talking makes me very upset. I’ve never even traveled outside the United States. This anger isn’t based on my own personal experience. It is based on the knowledge that America has some very grave faults and that no one can claim that their country is better than another. What are your standards? What is your criterion for judging? And these standards are purely subjective, they differ from person to person. Contrary to popular belief, God did not give His special “approval” to America so that somehow everything we do becomes a mission on behalf of God. “This is God’s special nation, so we can go to other countries and kill their people.” People point to the miraculous interventions of God during the founding of our nation to support their beliefs. But have they bothered to check up on the founding of all the other nations in the world? We might find some similar interventions by God, I simply don’t know. And even if God did play a special and unique role in the founding of our nation, does that give us the right now to do those things which are universally recognized as being wrong? The Old Testament Israelites got express directions from God to do what they did. As far as I know, God didn’t speak to America and tell us to go out into all the world and make them live as nicely as we do.

So that’s why I think Bush epitomizes modern America. And that’s why he’s so dangerous, because he mentions God, and has a good family, and stopped drinking when he was 40, and all those things that make him so much like us hide the hard and tragic truth that Bush is in fact a wolf and is one of the most anti-life presidents we’ve had in the last 20 years. But I think Americans are afraid of realizing this truth and discovering, “we have met the enemy and he is us.”

Voting Day!

It is very interesting to have such a wide range of friends on Facebook, with very different political philosophies when it comes to voting. There are the people who say, “This is the day we will reclaim America and gain our freedom again.” There are those who say, “I’m going to vote Libertarian and show those lame two parties that they have utterly failed.” And then there are some (but not as many) who say, “I refuse to vote for a system of coercion and legal theft. I will not give into their system by voting for a new master.”  I tend to side with the third group. If you fit into either of the other groups, then that’s fine, I don’t mean to say you are wrong, those ideas just don’t fit with where I am intellectually.

Here’s my take on the elections:

If the Democrats retain Congress, we know what kind of policy we’ll be getting. The only interesting thing about that situation will be to see how the Tea Party responds. But since they can’t elect anyone for another 2 years, and I don’t think they are ready to try anything more radical, even their response probably won’t be very interesting.

If the Republicans get Congress, we’ll probably hear a lot of noise, but not much of anything else. When have the Republicans ever repealed something once they gained power? Oh yeah, there was Social Security! And Medicare. Um…that didn’t turn out quite like they said. They promised to repeal both of those programs. And to the best of my knowledge, they are still in existence. The Republican Party doesn’t have a very good reputation, and I’m afraid it is getting worse with time. So do not count on the Republicans repealing the healthcare bill.

I rarely like to go out on a limb like this and risk my own reputation, but I’m going to now. I can guarantee you that the Republicans will never repeal Obamacare. I mean, really, truly and effectively repeal it. They might make a lot of noise over repealing part of it, or maybe repealing all of it…while slipping the same bill into some other legislation. But I know that they will never undo all of the Obamacare package.

Some speculate that to save the 2012 elections, Obama will start a war with Iran. That’s possible. But there’s a 90% chance that the Republicans would do the same thing once they got into power. And the sad thing is, I think they would do it with more gusto, zeal and “patriotism” which is just nationalism just dressed up in fine clothes. The Republicans would have more fun with another war than the Democrats. That’s just the way they are. And I don’t mean the American citizens who call themselves Republicans, I’m sure more of them are very good and decent people. I mean the leadership of the Republican Party and the politicians who call themselves Republicans. I’m afraid they would love nothing better than to start another war, and of course bring back the Bush rhetoric, “If you are not with us, then you are with the terrorists.” Gag. Ugh. I think I’d rather have another healthcare bill than that. At least the healthcare bill hasn’t killed anyone yet…wars kill people every day, and not just the soldiers but innocent civilians. Like I’ve said before, a few years ago war wasn’t a big issue for me. But it is about human life. It is as fundamental an issue as the pro-life movement. If you are for life then you must be against these unnecessary wars.

There’s more I could say on this, but I won’t. The only election today I really care about is the local Sheriff race. When in the Campaign for Liberty I interviewed the Republican candidate (Aaron Booker) and have talked with him at various Tea Party functions. The last couple weeks have gotten very interesting with this race. The local newspaper, Rockford Register Star, is full of info on it. And as a warning, the RRStar is not “fair” and “unbiased” about the elections…since when does a newspaper endorse candidates as they have done? Here’s the results of a search I did on their website for “Aaron Booker.” That’s really the only thing I’ve been paying attention to when it comes to elections and voting. I’ll end with a quote from H.L. Mencken which has been making the rounds on internet:

“There’s really no point to voting.  If it made any difference, it would probably be illegal.”