Monday, January 30, 2006

The liberals hate it (the movie, that is)

James Franco in Annapolis

The movie Annapolis is getting panned by liberal film critics by linking it to George W. Bush (everything is political, don't you know):
"On the contrary, Annapolis, like most Disney-fied films with military or sport themes produced during the presidential reign of George II, is a celebration of conformity and the subjugation of individual will to the greater good." —Geoff Pevere, Toronto Star
(Hat tip to Hoorah the Blog.)

Hmmm, it's a feel-good cross between Rocky and An Officer and a Gentleman, highlighting one of the greatest service academies in the world and the values that make it and America great, in a time of war, and it has the liberal press suffocating in its own gag reflex. Sounds like a must-see to me!

Some mil-bloggers are nit-picking the film's inaccuracies, but hey, it's a movie, not a documentary. I'll post my review here. Feel free to leave your review in the comments.

Until then, Go Mids!

Friday, January 27, 2006

"Sending" our "kids" to war

On his afternoon radio show on 100.3 KTLK-FM with Sarah Janecek, Brian Lambert used a liberal rhetorical device against U.S. participation in the Global War on Terror. He wanted to know how many politicians who support the war are "sending their kids to war."

We may send our kids to school, send them to the grocery store, send them to fill up the gas tank in family car, but to say that we are "sending" our "kids" to war is a distortion of reality. Ours is an all-volunteer military, they are not "sent" by their parents or conscripted by their country. Its members are adults, not "kids," who enlist and re-enlist, not victims with no other options for career or higher education (another liberal myth that Lambert perpetuated on air). They are professionals who believe in our country and their mission, as epitomized in their enlistment oath:
I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

They all deserve our gratitude for their service preserving our liberty. Condescension and ignorance does these heroes a disservice.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Joel Stein: ignorant, but at least he's honest

Joel Stein's column in the Los Angeles Times caused quite a stir when he admitted, "I don't support the troops."
I've got no problem with other people — the ones who were for the Iraq war — supporting the troops...But I'm not for the war. And being against the war and saying you support the troops is one of the wussiest positions the pacifists have ever taken — and they're wussy by definition...The truth is that people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they're following orders or not.

Stein doesn't think much of you, either. He condescendingly explains those "Support Our Troops" car magnets like the one on your car: "...those little yellow ribbons aren't really for the troops...The real purpose of those ribbons is to ease some of the guilt we feel for voting to send them to war and then making absolutely no sacrifices other than enduring two Wolf Blitzer shows a day."

Stein admits, "I know this is all easy to say for a guy who grew up with money, did well in school and hasn't so much as served on jury duty for his country."

While I am disgusted by most of what Stein says in this column, I do give him credit for being the first liberal to join conservatives in exposing the contradiction between "supporting" the troops but not the mission they are fighting and dying for. His complete ignorance and lack of appreciation for the military is probably incurable without spending some time in the presence of one of our fine soldiers, sailors, airmen, or Marines returning from their recent deployment in The Global War on Terror, who might quote Col. Nathan Jessep, USMC:
Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns...deep down, in places you don't talk about at cocktail parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post.

Hugh Hewitt had a riveting interview with Stein yesterday, and posted a follow-up on his blog. It was a tough, respectful, and revealing interview:
As I suspected, Mr. Stein really doesn't know anyone on active duty, hasn't been to any bases or any of the service academies, hasn't met with wounded or returning troops, and generally admits to being blissfully ignorant of the military. He could not recount a single book he has read about the military, and doesn't even know how big it is. He thinks the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have died in the GWOT have died in vain. He does not feel grateful for their service.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

27 million Iraqis are free

Yesterday, President Bush gave a speech on the Global War on Terror at Kansas State University. During the question-and-answer session, an Iraqi American expressed her gratitude for the liberation of the Iraqi people:

Q: "Hello, Mr. President. I am an American Iraqi Kurd. I would like to salute you and salute all the troops are freeing 27 million people. They are free." (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: "Thank you."

Q: "Mr. President, I would like to share this thought with all our nation and everybody who is questioning what happened to the chemical weapons. Saddam burned 4,500 villagers. I lost more than 10 members of my family under the ground. We found their bones after, when we freed Iraq. Saddam, himself, and his people, his followers, they are chemical weapons. Please stop questioning the administration and their decision. It was the best decision anybody could take. Freeing 27 million people." (Applause.)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Conservatives just want to have fun (again)

The widely-reported Republican malaise is directly related to the party's drifting from its once-energetic conservative base. According to an Associated Press report by Ron Fournier:
Party leaders fear that while conservative voters may become disengaged, liberal voters will be galvanized by their opposition to the Iraq war and their frustration with minority-party status.

"I talk about an enthusiasm deficit, and I think we have a little bit of that," [Republican National Committee member from New Hampshire Tom] Rath said of Republican voters. "They say we need to get our act together. They still love this president. But they want to see movement on the things that brought us to power. We took the government over and promised to fix things."
In Minnesota, disgruntled conservatives may have a voice in the owner of everyone's favorite Stadium Village bar, Stub & Herb's. Sue Jeffers, outspoken opponent of smoking bans, recently announced her candidacy for governor. There is even speculation that she could challenge current governor Tim Pawlenty for the Republican endorsement.

To call Jeffers, who has never run for elected office, a longshot is an understatement, but for now, her nascent anti-smoking ban, pro-property owners platform and Minnesota populist, anti-establishment status has conservatives and libertarians buzzing with the possibilities.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Hollywood's "moderate Republicans"

In the midst of the Alito (or as Sen. Ted Kennedy says, "Alioto") confirmation hearings, I was coincidentally drawn to fix a snack and fire up the home theatre with... a movie about confirmation hearings!

The Contender (2004), directed by Rod Lurie, is the final September 10th-era political thriller, arguably the best since All The President's Men and before The Manchurian Candidate remake starring Denzel Washington. The performances are the film's greatest strength. Sen. Laine Hanson (Joan Allen) is picked by President Jack Evans (in a winning performance by Jeff Bridges) to replace his friend and Vice President, who dies in office. Republican Rep. Sheldon Runyon (Gary Oldman) chairs the House committee that will confirm the President's nominee. The main characters are joined by a well-cast roster of supporting players, including William Petersen (in his final pre-C.S.I role) as a rival Vice Presidential aspirant, Sam Elliot as President Evans's Chief of Staff Kermit Newman, and an intense yet understated cameo performance by Mariel Hemingway.

While the performances are first-rate, the political plot is incoherent. Its most politically authentic moment comes when the Evans administration is arguing with Hanson about how far to take the back-and-forth partisan dirty tricks:

Laine Hanson: If we do that, we'll be as bad as them.
Kermit Newman (furiously): We are as bad as them!

In The Contender, the Democrats are the good guys, while the Republicans are represented primarily by Rep. Runyon, power-drunk and graceless (in a fine, quirky caricature by Oldman). Runyon is determined to torpedo Sen. Hanson's nomination in favor of Petersen's Democrat governor character.

Politically, everyone in this movie is on the left — make that far left, even the Republicans:

  • One of Republican Rep. Shelly Runyon's proudest achievements was lobbying to make hate crimes a federal offense. In real life, Republicans would rather let hate crimes come under existing laws against harassment, murder, vandalism, etc.

  • Laine Hanson's father, a retired Republican governor, complains wearily that teachers are supposed to "teach, not preach" when Laine's toddler son says his public school teacher told him that Jesus made everything. (Not to worry, my son also believes in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, Laine tells her dad.) That's what you get in the public schools, Laine says. Huh? Are you kidding? Some public school teachers won't even say "under God" when reciting The Pledge of Allegiance, let alone give religious instruction in the classroom.

  • Democrat Rep. Reginald Webster secretly opposes his fellow Dem's nomination, telling Republican Rep. Runyon that her views are better suited to "the other side of the aisle." Sen. Hanson is portrayed as a Republican who switched parties, and therefore not "too liberal." Yet one has trouble imagining why any Democrat would think Hanson was too much like a Republican after hearing her closing statement in the movie's dramatic climax:

I stand for a woman's right to choose.

Nothing "too Republican" here...

I stand for the elimination of the death penalty.

...or here.

I stand for a strong and growing Armed Forces because we must stomp out genocide on this planet, and I believe that that is a cause worth dying for.

OK, Rep. Webster, she does sound almost like George W. Bush on this point.

I stand for seeing every gun taken out of every home -- period.

Yah, sure, a Republican who wants to repeal the Second Amendment.

I stand for making the selling of cigarettes to our youth a federal offense.

Forget the drug dealers, lets have our U.S. District Attorneys prosecute real the menace to society: convenience store clerks.

I stand for term limits and campaign reform.

And, Mr. Chairman, I stand for the separation of Church and State, and the reason that I stand for that is the same reason that I believe our forefathers did. It is not there to protect religion from the grasp of government but to protect our government from the grasp of religious fanaticism.

This one turns Ronald Reagan's 1982 quote inside-out and upside down: "The first amendment was not written to protect people and their laws from religious values; it was written to protect those values from government tyranny."

Now, I may be an atheist, but that does not mean I do not go to church. I do go to church. The church I go to is the one that emancipated the slaves and gave women the right to vote. It gave us every freedom that we hold dear. My church is this very Chapel of Democracy that we sit in together, and I do not need God to tell me what are my moral absolutes. I need my heart, my brain, and this church.

This one validates Dennis Prager, who says that people without religious faith think of government as their religion (as opposed to those evangelical fanatics without a heart or a brain).
Unfortunately, the unanimous leftward tilt to the politics of every character in the story make it difficult to believe that anyone involved would oppose Laine Hanson's nomination. This undermines the believability of the entire movie, but it's still a guilty pleasure for any political junkie. (On that note, 2004's The Manchurian Candidate re-does the policy discussion led by Joan Allen in this movie, with Meryl Streep playing the powerful Senator Eleanor Shaw. Allen was believable, but Streep nails this and other political scenes in the movie with a Hillary-like presence.)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Rebooting the RPM

Andy Aplikowski at Residual Forces is talking some tough love about the 2006 election cycle. Andy is the BPOU chair of the Senate District 51 Republicans, a fellow grassroots activist, a true believer and one of the rabble like me. He is alarmed at the performance of Republicans (candidates, leadership, activists, and voters) in recent special elections, notably the Ek Train Wreck in Saint Cloud, and I would add the disappointing voter turnout and outcome of the SD 43 special election.

Andy cites three main concerns:
  • Incumbent Republican legislators vacating their seats for other opportunities
  • Stronger ground game of the DFL (although I would call Andy's characterization of "well-oiled machine" debatable)
  • Lack of party unity under a strong leader

These legislators have stepped up to new opportunities in 2005: the former Sen. David Gaither (R-Plymouth) is now Governor Pawlenty's chief of staff; former Sen. Dave Kleis (R-St. Cloud) is now the mayor of Saint Cloud; and former Sen. Mark Ourada (R-Buffalo) is now vice president for external relations for the Center for Energy and Economic Development. Rep. Jeff Johnson (R-Plymouth) is running for Minnesota Attorney General this year.

Today, Gaither's and Kleis's seats have moved to the DFL side of the aisle, while Senator elect Amy Koch keeps Ourada's seat on the R side. "Triple A" says that the party needs to stop the "bleeding" of legislative resignations:
First off, we cannot have our sitting office holders quit, retire, or move on to other/higher offices. We cannot afford to lose one more seat. IÂ’m betting that in the 6th CD one of the 3 candidates who currently hold a spot in the State Legislature will get the nod, and likely be the next Congressperson. That will be another seat lost. Jeff Johnson is running for AG, he could be another lost seat. There are other Republicans thinking of or committed to retiring. We are in serious trouble folks.

The fact is, the strongest in any field will move up and out — and we need them to. Would we be better off as Republicans had Tim Pawlenty stayed a legislator rather than run for Governor? Or Norm Coleman not run for U.S. Senate? Of course this puts pressure on the BPOUs to pull someone off the bench to defend an open seat, and sometimes the seat is lost. I admit to feeling a combination of pride and terror when I first heard about David Gaither's resignation. But a ban on legislative resignations would never work. Instead, the party needs to develop the mythical "deep bench" of candidates who can step forward when a vacancy arises.

Improving the ground game at the BPOU level is something over which we have a little more control. Hopefully, BPOU executive committees are meeting now to assess past performance and gear up for a year of growing the party, planning strategy, and executing on the fundamentals of voter ID and 72-hour (election day) operations.

Regarding leadership, it's a safe bet that The Governor will soon be in full campaign mode for his own re-election. Whether he can find the right balance of rallying his conservative base and appealing to Minnesota's populist instincts ("We need a governor who goes to Sam's Club, not just the country club") remains to be seen.

KTLK-FM rocks

Still raw and not ready for prime time (cut your mics on the breaks guys), FM talk radio has arrived in the Twin Cities at 100.3, KTLK-FM. During yesterday's afternoon drive time, co-publisher of Politics in Minnesota Sarah Janecek and media critic Brian Lambert conducted a racy, funny, and entertaining interview with, of all people, a former stripper named Diablo Cody, promoting her new book. It was a preview of how "B & S in the Afternoon" (not the final show name) will work together on more serious topics: not unlike an afternoon with the NARN guys, with FM signal quality and a stack of Janecek's workout CDs for bumper music.

Veteran political reporter and midmorning host Pat Kessler is doing a wonderful job this morning deconstructing the botched reporting of the West Virginia mine accident.

KTLK-FM supports its live local talk, plus Rush Limbaugh at midday, with Fox News feeds on the hour and local news, weather, and traffic reporters. It's a fresh spin on the talk radio format. MOB members David Strom and Margaret Martin will migrate their schtick from AM 1280 The Patriot to KTLK-FM on Saturday afternoons. Check it out.

UPDATE: A sharp reader of this blog set me straight on this station's call letters and its full-featured web site, which are cited in this corrected post. Note that it's KTLK-FM, KTLK-AM is another station in another market.