Obama the “Leader”

From the Chicago Tribune:

Imagine this. At a time of political turmoil, a charismatic, telegenic new leader arrives virtually out of nowhere. He offers a message of hope and reconciliation based on compromise and promises to marshal technology for a better future that will include universal health care.

The news media swoons in admiration — one simpering anchorman even shouts at a reporter who asks a tough question: "Why don’t you show some respect?!" The public is likewise smitten, except for a few nut cases who circulate batty rumors on the Internet about the leader’s origins and intentions. The leader, undismayed, offers assurances that are soothing, if also just a tiny bit condescending: "Embracing change is never easy."

So, does that sound like anyone you know? Oh, wait — did I mention the leader is secretly a totalitarian space lizard who’s come here to eat us?

Thus is the premise of the ABC Network’s science fiction television series “V” which premiered last night.  It is a smartly written update of the “V” series from the mid-1980’s, and does provide some rather biting criticism, although tongue-in-cheek, on today’s political and media landscape.

For instance, one of the lines that I liked was:

“We’re all so quick to jump on the bandwagon.  A ride on the bandwagon, it sounds like fun. But before we get on, let us at least make sure it is sturdy."

Remind you of anything that happened during the last election?  Anything current, perhaps?

Then how about the question of what is the most powerful weapon that anyone can command?  And the answer is:  Devotion.  A definition of devotion includes, “Ardent, often selfless affection and dedication, as to a person or principle.”  Ring any bells?

One other scene that stuck with me was when the Leader “Anna” asked her chosen interviewer not to ask any questions that would cast the Visitors in a bad light.  Initially, the interviewer refused, but compromised his principles for continued access (and career enhancement).  Does this sound familiar?

To be honest, the parallels between this show and reality are uncanny, and I suspect, intentional.  What is surprising that in today’s Liberal Hollywood is that this show with the not-so-complementary references to the current political and media establishments would be made. 

Which only goes to show that the bloom off this particular rose is fading and the petals are rapidly falling off.  This last is evidenced by the results of the off-year elections in New Jersey and New York.

Now I’m not saying that President Obama is a space lizard ready to pop us in the oven for a quick snack.  Far from it.  I do wonder, however, about Pelosi and Reid – they’re the scary ones…

What is a Right?

Listening to WJR’s Fred Beckmann morning show while taking walks over the past week has been both informative and maddening.  There were a couple of discussions that really got me to thinking – What is a right?

There are “rights” that are claimed that range from the laughable to the serious.  So let’s take a look at some of these assumptions.

Last Thursday, the day before Game 7 of the NHL championship, was the last day that broadcast television was going to be in an analog format, and the next day would require a converter box to receive and view broadcasts on older, analog TV sets.  We have been notified of this change for over a year, and yet this is still an issue.

A representative of the NAACP was on the show stating that his organization was still helping people apply for coupons for $40 to be applied toward the converter boxes.  During the conversation, he stated that to watch TV is a right because of the information that TV can provide the population.  You have got to be kidding…

David Letterman issued another apology (his 3rd) for tasteless jokes about Alaska’s Governor Sarah Palin and her daughter a couple of days ago.  Much has been made of this incident, and somewhere along the line a statement about Mr. Letterman’s right to free speech was made. 

On a related note, Miss California Carrie Prejean answered a question concerning gay marriage that, in my opinion, was very tactful in stating her beliefs in what a marriage should be.  The firestorm arising from her answer was intense and sometimes very derogatory toward her.

And now I’m starting to hear that AT&T’s exclusive offering of the iPhone is being challenged by consumer’s rights groups stating that the iPhone should be offered by other phone companies.

Are you starting to get the idea?

A right, in short, is a legally, morally, or traditionally just claim.  We often cite the Constitution of the United States as the definition of the rights that we enjoy.  And yet very few of the “rights” that these groups have any standing with our country’s founding document.  Yes, technology has evolved and changed the face of the country, but it is the principles of this important document that need to be applied and not abused.  And abused they are.  Let’s take the above examples…

The “right” to watch TV is about as bogus as they come.  A TV is a consumer item, an appliance, something that someone buys for their use.  Since buying a TV is a choice, it is not a right.  This is true for buying newspapers and radios (which, by the way, would serve the same purpose as a TV), and yet no one is stating a newspaper and radio for every man, woman, and child is a “right”.

Free speech is a little bit more tricky to apply in today’s world of political correctness and potential allegations of hate speech.  Expressing an opinion is bound to offend someone somewhere, and yet the standards are often fuzzy, blurred, and often ignored.  For instance…

Concerning the Letterman/Palin jokes:  While Mr. Letterman does have the right to entertain in his own way, he does not have the right to slander or degrade another person.

Concerning the Miss California incident:  When asked a question concerning gay marriage in a public forum, Ms. Prejean answered truthfully with her opinions and belief.  It wasn’t the answer that the “judge” wanted, and she was unmercifully attacked.  So who is defending Ms. Prejean’s right to free speech?  Certainly not any national organization that I’m aware of.

We all have the right to express our opinions.  The listener has the right to reject the opinion without discussion, change the channel, or express their point of view.  It can be done without personal attacks.  Our current problem is that people are taking the different points of view from their own as personal attacks, and attack in kind.  People claiming to be tolerant of others and their beliefs & opinions really aren’t all that tolerant of different belief systems.  Case in point: The Miss California incident.

And we wonder why the courts and laws are so screwed up.  We have people suing each other over crap that a little common sense and thought would solve.  This is our society going to Hell in a hand-basket on the express train.

Oh yeah, the iPhone “controversy”:  It’s a consumer product that is offered only by AT&T – they signed the contract with Apple.  Get over it.

Les Miserables – Susan Boyle

My wife showed this to me last night.  Please watch the entire video.

Embedding has been disabled for this video, so click on the link to go to YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxPZh4AnWyk

If you are not moved to tears with this performance, then you either have no heart, a psychopath, or dead.

I Must Be Getting Old…

…because I just do not understand today’s generation, especially those out on the Left Coast.

I turned another year older this past week, and it seems that I always do what I would call an “internal assessment” of what I have done or witnessed in the past year or so. And this, of all things, popped out under the category of “I just don’t understand…”

Several weeks ago, I was channel-surfing and came across a “reality-show” on what I think was an MTV derivative channel. This show was holding a contest to see who, among some fairly attractive women, would become the main girlfriend of rocker Shawn Michaels. Curious, I watched long enough to see the following.

Shawn left his girlfriend-to-be contestants in a room while he went off to perform. Of course, the girls decided to party, becoming quite inebriated along the way. He comes back to find just about everyone wasted, and one girl getting very sick. He helps her to the restroom just in time to have her heave the contents of her stomach into the porcelain god. During this episode, she turns her head and tells him “I love you” before turning her head back to heave some more.

In a stand alone cut-away where the he is commenting on the party and subsequent throne visits by this girl. His comment (and I’m paraphrasing here) is that while he was helping this girl throw up into the john, she turned to him and said, “I love you.” He then stated that that “was one of the most romantic moments of my life.”

!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

One of the most romantic moments of his life? Is he nuts, or is he just hamming it up for the cameras? But on further reflection, I wouldn’t doubt it.

I know that if I helped a gal throw up in a toilet from having too much to drink (and I have), the last thing on my mind is romance. And having the gal tell me that she loved me at that very moment would make me think that it’s the alcohol talking. The last person that I would want as a girlfriend is someone who can’t control themselves and drinks themselves sick.

But then again, I’m an old fart with outdated values who doesn’t know anything about today’s world…

What passes today as entertainment does not teach our children about life, real life. Entertainment today passes off the ridiculous and profane as normal, which it is anything but. But with today’s TV generation, and the parents either absent because of jobs or indifference, the TV now becomes a teaching window on life. And the children now model this behavior.

Why else is there the inability to understand that every little problem cannot be solved in an hour or less? Then there is the increased reporting of violence to resolve problems (more school-related shootings, for instance). And then there is the over-reliance on computers and technology to solve the problems of the world if not the individual. It may sound idealistic and very Star Trek, but reality has been skewed to the equivalent of sound bites on the 6 o’clock news. More’s the pity.

Our society, in general, appears to be headed to Hell in the hand-basket on the express-train, and no one seems to care. I found this quote (in part) over at Praesidium Respublicae which seems to sum up our society:

The average of the world’s great civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency; from dependency back again to bondage.

I think where we are at is somewhere in the selfishness / complacency / apathy portion, and are rapidly descending to the dependence mode. Independence is rapidly becoming passe, where self-reliance is seen more as an aberration than an asset. And if in doubt, let someone else (preferably the Government) take responsibility for it. The mantra seems to be: “Live for now, and let the future take care of itself.” Somehow, I cannot do that. It isn’t the way I was brought up, nor is it in my nature to have someone else control my life. I value my independence. But I digress once again…

Reality is not a TV show. It doesn’t follow a story-line, and all the characters in the white hats do not live happily ever after. It is unfair and very biased. There are no guarantees, no reruns, and the channel cannot be changed. It is hard, but with the right breaks and hard work, it can be comfortable. The Declaration of Independence stated that:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Not everyone will be happy, nor will they be a success. Sometimes the best you can do is hold your own because happiness is not a sure thing. It can be worked at and achieved with difficulty, but there are no guarantees. And TV distorts this reality.

If happiness is holding someone’s head while they are throwing up because they’re drunk and telling me they love me between retchings, I think I’ll pass…

Idol Discrimination

Another season of American Idol kicked off this week with the tryouts to make it to the next round in Hollywood. People that showed up to audition were like the title to a Clint Eastwood movie – “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly.” Like a box of chocolates, you never really knew what to expect.

Of course, there were a lot of bad performances. Invariably, the majority of the people shown that didn’t make it to the next round were pissed off that they didn’t get picked. They usually went down the path that the judges didn’t know talent when they saw it, they should have been picked, it was nothing they did, yadda yadda yadda… It wasn’t until the boy who literally looked & sounded like a girl, got rejected, & started mouthing off that it hit me – this show discriminates!!

Of course this show discriminates! Exactly what do you think it should do? Give everyone a pass on bad notes, bad attitude, bad looks, & bad performances? Considering that some of the performances were so bad that my wife muted the TV just goes to show that not everyone who gets their 15 minutes of fame deserves it.

To those of the contestants that were rejected, I would like to ask: Did you or did you not sing into a tape recorder and listen to yourself? Really listen? How many of you actually came prepared, practiced your song, and had that critical eye on yourself? From what was shown, not many.

Talent aside, this show did not boost the majority of the loser’s self-esteem. Sorry, life is harsh & does not give warm fuzzies to those who don’t measure up. This is a lesson that seems to have been lost on lots of people. For example, my son’s high school has a mission statement that goes:

“The mission of XXXXXX High School is to teach for understanding so that all students learn for a lifetime. In this task, a positive learning environment will be continually promoted, evaluated, and adjusted in order to provide opportunity for achievement and self-esteem.”

Awwwww – doesn’t that just give you a warm feeling? They care about your child’s self-esteem, will not bruise his or her ego, and make sure that the environment that they will (hopefully) learn in will be encouraging. What about being held to an educational standard? Oops, can’t do that – it’s not in the mission statement! But I digress…

The point is that a lot of these people have gone through life getting their ego stroked, never really were held to a standard, and when they don’t measure up, take the classic “it’s not my fault” mentality, and blame someone else for them not succeeding. Sound familiar?

Finally, comments to the aforementioned boy-dress/sounds-like-a-girl contestant: The judges were not racist, not accepting of you or anything else that you spouted off about after the audition. In fact, they were damn courteous compared to some of the other people that auditioned. You were OK in your performance, but you didn’t measure up to their standards, and you definitely confused the hell out of them with your appearance. Think of this as a prelude to a job interview – if you confuse the interviewer and have a mediocre interview, don’t expect to get hired. Last, if you truly believe that Americans are racist, don’t accept you for who/what you are, or any of the other drivel that you sobbed about, I would suggest that you find another country that would accept you as you are and emigrate. Hate to break it to you; other countries are not as accepting as the US. I know – I’ve been to several.

OK, ranting is over (for now).