25MAY2020 – Memorial Day Quote

I have one sentiment for soldiers living and dead: cheers for the
living; tears for the dead.
Robert Green Ingersoll

If you had seen one day of war, you would pray to God that you would never see another.
Duke of Wellington

The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.
Thucydides

Memorial Day isn’t just about honoring veterans, its honoring those who lost their lives. Veterans had the fortune of coming home. For us, that’s a reminder of when we come home we still have a responsibility to serve. It’s a continuation of service that honors our country and those who fell defending it.
Pete Hegseth

The Glorious Paradox That is Biden

In 1 Corinthians 9:22 St. Paul says “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”  To some extent, a presidential candidate must do that.  He must be all things so that all the various special interest groups can buy into his story.  And for a Democrat candidate that’s a very diverse group of special interests.  He’s got the black vote and the feminist vote and the Latino vote, the gay vote and the lesbian vote and now he even has the trans vote.  Well, that’s their shtick after all.  But this year threading that needle is going to be extra tricky for Creepy Uncle Joe.  Take for instance the feminist vote.  Tara Reade has made that sale interesting.  Although several feminists have openly said that even if they believe Joe Biden sexually assaulted Reade back in 1993, they would still vote for him in November.  Columnist Katha Pollitt puts aside all doubts about whether morality is involved in her election calculus.  She stated, “I would vote for Joe Biden if he boiled babies and ate them.”  Well that’s refreshingly honest.  Another woman, Lisa Bloom, flatly states that she does believe Reade’s claim but she’s endorsing Biden anyway.  And she’s a women’s rights attorney!  Ain’t that a kick in the head!

What all this tells me is that Joe is not going to energize the feminist vote.  And if the feminists aren’t feeling it, they’re not going to be very effective proselytizing their less strident sister in the next cubicle over.  I mean how persuasive is an argument that ends with, “So you see Joe Biden has many fewer rape allegations against him than his opponent.”  I think a lot of women will feel that argument leaves them a little underwhelmed.

Now let’s look at the black vote.  A few days ago, Biden had a video interview with a black social media personality who calls himself, and I kid you not, Charlamagne tha God (CTG).  On his radio show called the Breakfast Club he tried to pin down Biden on what gimmees he would promise to the black community.  But Biden resisted saying “You got more questions, but I tell ya, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”

Now this comment raised howls of anger from the African Americans on both the Left and Right.  But Biden’s supporters aren’t actually offended by the patronizing remark.  But they want him to know they haven’t signed on the dotted line.  They want a black woman as his running mate and they want money.

CTG stated, “If you created legislation that hurt [the black community], then you have to create legislation that helps. It’s just that simple. Like, the whole system needs to be dismantled and rebuilt,” McKelvey said in a Friday interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett. “He’s been a very intricate part of that system, whether you’re talking about in ’84 with mandatory minimum sentences for drug dealers, or you’re talking about ’86 with crack laws that gave you more time for crack cocaine than powder cocaine, or you’re talking about the ’94 crime bill, like he really was one of those people on the front line when it came to the war on drugs and mass incarceration.”  “If he wants to be president, he needs to fix that. He needs to really, really help the people that have helped Democrats all of these years,” he added.  And on another interview, he added he wants details on Biden’s “slavery reparations” stance.

To me it’s pretty clear that Biden’s support in the black community is extremely conditional.  To tie it up he will have to promise some extremely expensive programs.  And chances are he really can’t deliver on those.  And even more problematic, if he makes those promises it is going to jeopardize his support from other parts of his fractious coalition.

Now the final piece of the puzzle has less to do with the special interest groups and more to do with self-preservation.  Over the course of the last six months Joe Biden has made so many verbal gaffes that everyone including the republicans has stopped paying attention to them.  He not only commits factual errors like forgetting what state he’s in or what office he’s running for but he has on occasion lapsed into spouting gibberish in an attempt to finish off some thought that he’s lost the thread of.  It’s gotten to the point that even his own constituency has stopped denying that he’s becoming senile.  So, if you’re an independent and even if you’re not a Trump fan you’d have to hesitate before voting to put a man as intellectually compromised as Biden in charge of the largest thermonuclear stockpile on the face of the Earth.

So, there we have it.  The Democrats had to anoint Biden because otherwise Bernie Sanders would have been the candidate and he’s a Communist Loon.  But Joe is essentially a lying, plagiarizing, sex predator suffering from advanced senile dementia.  Oh, and he allowed his son to cash in on his political connections to the tune of about a billion dollars from China and the Ukraine.  It seems to me even taking into account the equivalent of the Great Depression descending on us after the COVID-19 debacle it’s going to be mighty hard to lift Joe Biden into the White House.  Even in these benighted times that may be too much to expect from the American people.  We’re nuts but we’re not Biden nuts.

With Friends Like These

How do you know when your side is winning the public opinion battle?  Based on the last fifty years of American politics I’d say it’s when all of a sudden you find that you have a whole bunch of new friends who want to straighten you out on who the real conservatives are and straighten you out on what you should believe.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s we had the Buckleyites running that scam and then in the 2000s the Neo-Cons got their turn.  Each time we go around in this circle they play the same game.  We hear about the conservative majority that will be unleashed if only we embrace x, y and z.  During our latest intervention our new friends want us to know that good old conservative institutions like gay marriage, open borders and offshoring American jobs to China will win us a coalition of newly minted conservatives if only we’re willing to denounce all those deplorables in the Rust Belt for the racists, xenophobes and homophobes they are.  Boy, it’s good to have friends willing to straighten you out.

These political sages are all twenty somethings, newly minted from Ivy League schools with the wisdom they’ve accumulated in their post-modern literature and intersectional philosophy seminars fairly sparkling off their faces.  I can just see the rainbow coalition of the LGBTQ and illegal aliens locking arms with libertarians, vegans, greens and other newly minted republicans as they stride shoulder to shoulder into a glorious new future of unrecognizable conservatism.  Ever was it so.

But, as stated, when your “friends” want to save you from your agenda then you know that you’re winning.  If you were losing, then these people wouldn’t be calling themselves conservatives and they wouldn’t be interested in talking to you.  There wouldn’t be any money in it for them.

I was reminded of this by a spate of recent articles discussing esoteric writers and schools of thought that would set us straight and allow us to give up our needless crusade to confirm constitutional originalists to the bench and abandon our hopelessly old-fashioned obsession with the first and second amendments.  When I read these articles, I get the same feeling that came over me when one of the neo-cons like Jonah Goldberg would explain why objecting to full acceptance of homosexuality as a legitimate alternative to normal sexuality was hopelessly outdated and a fool’s errand.  The angle he provided was that of an older and wiser head giving good advice to a country cousin who wasn’t smart enough to see that times had changed and all the smart people knew better and had moved on.

Back then it confused and depressed me to think that the conservative leaders had allowed themselves to be convinced by the arguments of the moral relativists.  But of course, there hadn’t been any arguments.  It was just a matter of the pundits going to some dinner parties where their liberal friends told them that only mouth breathers refused to acknowledge the highly conservative nature of buggery.

So here we go again.  Against all odds Donald Trump unites social conservatives, patriots and everyone who despises the hypocrisy and stupidity of the social justice warriors.  And because he is seeing success and his enemies are afraid that their policies are in danger, those on the Left immediately look to co-opt the movement.  Their first targets are always the young elite intellectuals.  They will dangle the prospect of an alliance of the moderates.  The libertarians can be fooled into thinking that the “less crazy” progressives will band together with them to oppose the enemies of free speech and truth.  All these libertarians have to do to seal the deal is purge the social conservatives who can’t be reconciled with their new pals.  And to justify these delusions the young intellectuals spin a fantasy about the solidarity of the Classic Liberal coalition.  Never mind that the Left has replaced principle with identity power politics for more than a century.  Never mind that even while the “moderate” crazies are being harassed by their even crazier lunatic fringe no one on the Left ever misses a chance to kick someone on the Right if the opportunity presents itself.

Knowing all this I can only laugh at the pretensions of these brilliant moderates and their castles in the clouds.  But more important than derision is pointing out to the young and impressionable that an alliance with the “saner” elements of the Left is a pipe dream that only leads to compromise and splintering of the factions on the Right.  The Left is your mortal foe.  They want to destroy all the things in life that make it worth living.  They’ve already destroyed the majority of the institutions that made this country great.  Compromising with them is just cooperating with them while they push you off the cliff.  Moral relativism always leads to accepting things that are wrong.  Instead, push in the direction of what is inherently good and you’ll make progress and you’ll attract like-minded people.  Those are the friends you want, not the ones who look exactly like enemies.

Ransom – A Movie Review and Comparison – Part 2

Ransom – A Movie Review and Comparison – Part 1

In 1996 Ron Howard directed a remake of Ransom.  He cast Mel Gibson and Rene Russo in the leads as Tom and Kate Mullen the parents of a young son Sean.  Tom is the owner of his own airline and a leading member of New York high society.  During an educational event in Central Park at which Kate is a judge Sean is kidnapped while Tom was distracted.

Now we meet the kidnappers.  Maris is a caterer who works for the Mullens.  Brothers Clark and Cubby Barnes and Miles Roberts are small time criminals.  But the mastermind of the gang is Police Detective Jimmy Shaker, played by the great Gary Sinise, who set up the whole crime and uses his knowledge of police procedures to engineer a convoluted ransom transfer.  He has Tom carry the two million dollars to a civic center and jump in a swimming pool to destroy any electronic devices.  Then Tom switches cars and drives to New Jersey while Shaker gives Tom directions over a mobile phone.  During this phone call Shaker answers Tom’s question of why Tom’s family was picked.  Shaker tells him that Tom is a man who buys his way out of trouble.  Tom paid off men to frame a labor leader that was making trouble for Tom’s airline.  From Shaker’s point of view, he sees Tom as a sure thing to pay his son’s ransom.  Then Shaker tells Tom the story of the Eloi and the Morlocks from H. G. Wells’ story “The Time Machine.”  To Shaker the Mullens and the other elites are the Eloi living in the daylight world of wealth and privilege while Shaker and the rest of the Morlocks slave away in the underworld of the poor.  He states that it’s just the nature of things that the cannibalistic Morlocks have to surface from time to time to eat an Eloi.

Tom demands to know how the exchange will lead him to his son to which Shaker replies that when Tom hands the money over to the courier, he’ll be given the address where his son can be found.  But when he arrives at a quarry where the courier takes the money, he is given no address and Tom notices the look of confusion on the courier’s face when the question is asked.  The courier is Cubby Barnes played by Donnie Wahlberg who was the only one of the kidnappers who treated Sean Mullen decently during his captivity.  FBI helicopters chase after Cubby on his ATV and when the agents start rappelling to the ground Cubby fires at them with an automatic weapon.  In answer he is killed by gunfire from the law enforcement agents.

The kidnappers are in disarray after this because Cubby’s identity will make his brother’s identity easy to figure out.  But undaunted, Shaker immediately contacts Tom and begins a second transfer operation.  But Tom has figured out that the kidnappers have no intention of releasing his son.  So instead of proceeding to the drop he tells Shaker to watch Channel 5 on the television for further information.  Tom calls his corporate friends and arranges to be put on the air.  He lays the two million dollars on a table and into the camera he tells the kidnappers and the world that he has no intention of paying the ransom and instead want the two million to be a reward for capturing his son’s abductors.  He gives the kidnappers a way out saying if Sean is returned unharmed, he will withdraw the reward.

Everyone turns against Tom, the FBI agents who have been advising him, his wife Kate and every man on the street who is questioned by the media.  Now Shaker calls him up and threatens to kill Sean if Tom doesn’t pay the ransom.  Tom says he doesn’t believe he’ll return Sean at all.  Now the kidnappers send a note through the housekeeper to Kate to show up late at night in a deserted church to arrange for an exchange.  Kate is attacked by Shaker in disguise who punches her and chokes her before leaving her with Sean’s shirt soaked in blood.

Kate begs Tom to relent but instead Tom goes down to the street and tells the reporters that he is doubling the reward to four million dollars.  Shaker calls up enraged and shouts at Tom that he will kill Sean if Tom doesn’t agree to the ransom immediately.  Tom shouts abuse at Shaker and then he hears a gunshot ring out over the phone.  Kate attacks Tom and slaps him repeatedly and collapses to the floor.  Tom stumbles out onto the penthouse roof and at first seems to be planning to jump but then collapses onto the roof sobbing.  Kate finds her way to the roof and consoles him.

But Shaker fired into the wall.  Sean is alive.  Now Clark Barnes and Miles Roberts are packing their van to leave the scene and Maris is panicked and doesn’t know whether to run or kill herself with a gun she has.  She is romantically involved with Shaker but their bond has been broken by the sordid nature of the crime they are committing.  The only one who isn’t panicking is Shaker.  He’s come up with Plan B.  He calls up the precinct on his radio and tells them that there is a kidnapping at the address they are holding Sean at.  He shoots Clark and Miles as they try to drive off but Maris shoots him in the shoulder.  Shaker returns fire and kills her.  Now Shaker pretends that he discovered the kidnapping and puts himself in line for the four-million-dollar reward.

Sean is returned to his parents traumatized but only slightly injured and the Mullens begin to bring their lives back to normal.  One day Shaker shows up at the Mullens’ home to collect his reward but as Tom is writing out the check, he sees Sean quaking with fear at Shaker’s voice.  Tom realizes what it means but almost immediately afterward Shaker knows that Tom knows.  At this point Shaker’s anger leads him to say he will execute Tom.  But Tom convinces him that they can go to Tom’s bank and have the reward transferred to Shaker’s offshore bank.  Then Tom agrees to fly Shaker to Mexico in his private jet.  While driving to the bank Tom ostensibly calls the airport to set up his flight but actually calls the FBI and tips them off to where he is headed.

Tom and Shaker make the wire transfer at the bank but as they’re leaving some NYPD who have been alerted by the FBI attempt to arrest Shaker.  He shoots two of them and takes off running.  Tom catches him and beats him brutally but Shaker manages to push Tom into traffic where he is shaken up by a passing car.  Now there is a foot race and finally Tom grabs Shaker and throws him through a plate glass window.  Tom retrieves Shaker’s gun and covers him with it.  The NYPD and FBI show up and tell Tom to drop the gun and Shaker to lay on the ground.  Shaker is bleeding profusely from a neck wound from the broken window but he secretly reaches for an ankle holster.  When Tom drops his gun arm to his side Shaker pulls his gun to shoot Tom but is beaten to the draw by Tom and several law-enforcement officers.  Shaker is shot dead and Kate shows up to hug Tom and signal the end of the nightmare.

Wow, that’s a lot of stuff, to stuff into one movie.  And I’ve left out a lot of details.  The FBI Special Agent Lonnie Hawkins played by Delroy Lindo has a role in convincing Kate to stop Tom from offering the reward.  He also is privy to Tom’s perjury in the conviction of the labor leader.  The relationships between the various kidnappers is complicated and volatile.  There are a lot of moving pieces.

It’s a well-crafted movie.  At certain points the various characters border on hysterics but considering the roles and stakes involved the action is reasonable.  None of the characters is blameless but even some of the criminals may make some claims to the viewers sympathy.  I think it’s a good crime drama with a lot of human interest.  I can recommend it as worth seeing.

In the last part of this review I’ll look at the 1956 and the 1996 versions of Ransom to see how they compare and what that comparison might say about the years in which they were made.