Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Still Racists?

“Conservatives are described over and over as mean-spirited, war-loving, greedy, bigoted, racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, homophobic, sexist, intolerant and oblivious to human suffering.”

Not much of a news flash. I’ve known about this, personally for some time… and later discovered that others were subject to the same smears and distortions. (See Ann Coulter’s “Slander”.) Left-leaners say this, especially online, almost reflexively. With some left-leaners the response comes so naturally you begin to wonder whether or not these folks actually believe it sincerely.

The quote comes from a recent column by Dennis Prager (The Left and the Term “Islamo-Fascism”). He discusses a recent speech… where he disarmed university students with his reasoning, sense of humor, and otherwise simply by being himself as opposed to the distorted image they expected.
For the last couple of decades now, name-calling has been the principal argument liberals have deployed against conservative arguments.

“If Republicans opposed the National Endowment for the Arts, they were said to hate art. If Republicans opposed the Department of Education, they were said to hate teachers. If Republicans opposed the Environmental Protection Agency, they were said to hate the environment. Opposition to the government spending money on anything was invariably attacked as hatred for the thing money was to be spent on.

As I mentioned earlier, Ann Coulter wrote a book on left-leaners targeting conservatives and Republicans with unrelated comments like hate, racist, ugly, mean, etc. Some simply diminish conservative arguements and politcies down to mere intolerance and bigotry.

It gets said all too often... and the recipiant, or his comrades, rarely seem to stand up against the smear. If it wasn't so sad it would be funny.
Liberals are like the monkeys in Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book" who explain: "We all say so, and so it must be true."

The monkeys who think they understand conservatives and believe they cracked the reasons why we simply don't think like they do probably wouldn't hold on to these rediculous ideas if only more conservatives would speak up.

It happens at work. My boss and at least one immediate co-worker appear to be big anti-Bush folks. Not only that, they occasionally denigrate conservative political views. I simply respond in a friendly and jovial manner. I use humor the way they use it... and I make it clear that I like talking with these people regardles of the subject and whether or not we agree.

Someone else at work maintains the quote section of our home page... always an anti-Bush comment. Someone had changed things around for a while and we were getting various humorous or historical quotes... however, it was not to last. We're back on the "classic" stand-by quote. So be it. Some folks need to feel secure.

Again, mention it. Just point it out. Simply remind the person that, for example, “My support for the war doesn’t make me bigoted… it simply doesn’t follow.” Someone disagrees with who I support in the 2008 elections and calls me intolerant, so I say, “An interesting argument, please explain.” About two years ago some rabid woman proceeded to claim that I was intolerant as well as mean... all after speaking with me for about an hour. What’s more, she acted quite rudely. You can’t imagine my delight in pointing out that her intolerance made for a rather unpleasant evening out with friends.

All of this reminds me of my old man’s take on Dennis Prager. About a year ago I visited my mom and dad and the subject of radio came up. I mentioned to my mom, who enjoys Limbaugh, that if she doesn’t like one of Rush’s guest-hosts she should tune in to Dennis Prager. When talking to anyone about radio I always refer to Prager as a great radio tonic for anyone who simply doesn’t like Rush Limbaugh… regardless of whether the listener is more conservative or liberal. My mom took the advice, but my dad pooh-poohed Prager. He dismissed him as just like all the others… or words to that effect. He’s not a liberal, but he doesn’t have time for talk shows other than Soucheray. I told him that in spite of what he might have heard from others, that’s not Prager… he’s very fair with callers and fair with discussion. His responses are measured and thought out.

Go ahead and disagree with Prager, but you’ll have a hard time likening him to a guy like Savage or Levin or the late Morton Downy, Jr.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Cultural Conservatives: Meanies

A number of years ago one of my uncles mentioned he liked "that new Huey Lewis and the News song" called Hip to Be Square. I like my uncles and they are all characters, but this uncle never seemed to worry about what folks thought of him. He always had a joke or an air of fun about him. Normally, you think your parents simply do not hold the genetic make-up for hip, cool, or anything you want to be associated with when you're in school or growing up. Your aunts and uncles have a little more flexibility, since they often seem to let their hair down. This uncle was not hip, but not unhip... I suspect presicely because he wasn't worried whether or not he was hip.

Since that time I really enjoyed Hip to Be Square. In my days of service on radio in Small Town, America I regularly played the song... even when it wasn't part of my scheduled playlist. Beyond that, I've mostly hovered around in potential/probable geek territory. Marching band. Jazz ensemble. History classes in college. Role playing games. Doctor Who. British television. Canada's power trio Rush. Renaissance Festival. Talk radio. Blogging. You can't wipe all of that stink off from yourself too easily.

I enjoy mainstream entertainment and culture, just like anyone does. That's not the point... the point is that I enjoy more than a handful of music, film, television, hobbies, culture, and activities that are normally fairly small provinces or those with some kind of cult-fan status.

I also bristle with some mainstream culture, too... just like anyone does. Not only that, I'm willing to metaphorically kick a number of celebrities and public figures... I suspect, just like anyone does.

So Jonah Goldberg's column caught my attention.
...let me switch gears and share with you the plight of the cultural conservative. If I were to write a column condemning the commodified harlotry of all this, I would be the bad guy.

He's talking about Paris Hilton, Madonna, Pam Anderson-Lee-Rock (now Anderson-Lee-Rock-Salomon... or is that Salomon-Rock-Lee-Anderson?) and any number of others in the world of some-kind-of celebrity.

That's fish in a barrel isn't it? Surely, it is not difficult or courageous to call Madonna or Pam Anderson a whore. (That might be giving short shrift to actual whores.) At least enough people in our culture look at them as out of the ordinary and even bizarre. That's not all. Cultural conservatives have been using these hedonistic tramps on display as extreme examples of what is wrong with the youth culture and culture in general... while the opposition pooh-poohs the criticism as overly judgemental. They might even suggest reasonably that Paris, Pam, Madonna, and their ilk are so far gone that no one backs them (we merely point and stare at the freaks)... and that most reasonable folks are concerned with the common misbehaviors of today's youth.

Let me use the word whore again. I would not want my daughter dressing like Madonna simply because it is trashy at best and at worst makes the wearer look like a whore. For that attitude, I'm not simply L-7.
It seems like the entire culture has adopted the "turn-ons" and "turn-offs" from one of Anderson's centerfold bios. Turn-ons: kids, animals, good food, good times. Turn-offs: uptight squares, scolds and all-around "meanies."

How many parents (back when I was a mere teen) thought of their kids' friends as looking a little trashy, or dressing far too maturely (with the word used as a euphamism), or acting far too casual (with the word used as another euphamism)? It is almost a cliche.
...For years, conservatives criticized the likes of Madonna for proselytizing commercialized decadence, and conservatives routinely came out the losers. The press, generally being liberal, disliked the perceived censorial uptightness of conservative "culture warriors." The press, also being professionally and personally infatuated with celebrity, instinctively defended stars over the meanies, because stars boost ratings and get you into glamorous parties. The meanies stay home with their kids.

But here's the thing: Conservatives were right about Madonna, and even Madonna has partially admitted as much. The problem is that Madonna - like Hilton and Anderson - is irrelevant. These celebrities can afford their sins or, if you prefer, their mistakes because they're rich and famous. Madonna told one interviewer that she's never changed a diaper. How many "working moms" can say that?

What matters is the signal such people send.

That's what our parents were saying back then. It's true. What's more, on some level Madonna knows it.
...she typifies the bind conservatives are in. Madonna pioneered a certain kind of slattern chic in the 1980s and early 1990s. But as she got older and had kids, she grew up - a little. She said she was embarrassed by some of her earlier exploits. To a sycophantically sympathetic press, she announced that she was going to be a good mom, not "the Material Girl."

That should have surprised anyone. All of her fans said the same thing. Some of them made good on their resolutions. Some didn't, namely...
Actually, she made these announcements fairly regularly, perhaps because she kept falling off the maturity wagon. In response to one such revelation, ABC News proclaimed: "She was in the pages of Playboy, published her own book on sex, and kissed Britney Spears in a live stage performance, but Madonna tells ABC News' 20/20 she may be through with propelling her celebrity with sex."

Again, the message and the signal they send out... that's what concerns folks.

In the same vien, cultural and social conservatives don't want schoolgirls ages 11 to 14 getting birth control from the school nurse. My mom tells me she was livid that we received an advert in the mail for my sister from Planned Parenthood around her 17th birthday. Obviously parents don't want their daughters knocked-up, but that doesn't mean they want them practicing. Since then the age of girls in the target market for birth control has obviously dropped down considerably.

Can you imagine having an 11 year old daughter or neice getting birth control without her parent's consent? Who wants that?

Apparently I'm mean, judgemental, and old fashioned. Perhaps, but it's hip to be square.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Son of a Gun: Joey Bishop Dead at 89

Aside from being the ultimate inevitable, the last of the Rat Pack would sooner or later fade away.

The death of the Rat Pack happened quite some time ago, first with changes (both for better and for worse) in entertainment and the culture. Then, perhaps insignificantly, Peter Lawford died in 1984. Sure, he wasn't crucial to the guys... but that was another sign of their time gone.

Obviously when Sammy (in 1990) and Dean (in 1995) died a generation felt a great loss in the world of entertainment and in the history of American Cool. (I've commented a couple of times on Dean and his death.) If that wasn't enough, clearly the death of Sinatra (1998) was the 16-ton weight.

Now, the mouse in the Rat Pack.

Joey Bishop, the stone-faced comedian who found success in nightclubs, television and movies but became most famous as a member of Frank Sinatra's Rat Pack, has died at 89.


Bishop died Wednesday night of multiple causes at his home in Newport Beach, publicist and longtime friend Warren Cowan said Thursday.

Was he just another extra for Frank, Dean, and Sammy? Sintara didn't think so.
He termed the comedian "the Hub of the Big Wheel," with Bishop coming up with
some of the best one-liners and beginning many jokes with his favorite phrase,
"Son of a gun!"


In 1941 Bishop married Sylvia Ruzga and,
despite the rigors of a show business career, the marriage survived until her
death in 1999.

Bishop, who had one son, Larry, spent his retirement
years on the upscale Lido Isle in Southern California's Newport Bay.

Hard to think that "son of a gun" would make a great catch phrase, but apparently it did on stage with the rest of the boys, and in his television show.

I suspect Mitchel at Our Word might be able to tell you a thing or two about Joey's stint as a television talk show host and a sub for Johnny Carson. [Sure enough he did.] I vaguely remember him sitting in on "The Tonight Show" and not knowing who in the flaming hootie-hoo he was.

Still unavailable on video and DVD, "Sergeants 3"... a reworking of the great "Gunga Din" which is a wonderfully fun film, but apparently not everyone thought "Sergeants 3" measured up to its inspiration, or "Oceans 11".

All the same, I'd still like to see it and put it on my shelf. I even have "4 For Texas" with just Dean and Frank (and Ursula Andress and Anita Ekberg, va-va-va-VOOM!) and that doesn't seem to have been fondly thought of over the years.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Prevent Crime: Give to Beggars (Update with meeting notes)

Funny, isn't it... some people in local government and politics believe the hold a possition of leadership and should lead instead of follow when it comes to taking care of the city they represent.

I suspect some folks might call that old fashioned... and in a derogatory way. I, on the contrary, appreciate and respect that kind of attitude.

A few weeks ago I saw a beggar who apparently hopes he doesn't need to steal. At least that is what he scribbled on his sign.

I reported the man to the local police, although I suspected they would do nothing. Then I e-mailed a link to my post to the city council. Apparently, they discussed it briefly.
Council Meeting Minutes -3- September 25, 2007

Council Member Wroge asked how the City handles beggars standing along the highway,
specifically referring to the person holding the sign “I’d rather beg than rob”.

Public Safety Director Scott stated the City of Minneapolis recently amended their ordinance on this issue and it only addresses verbal encounters not signage because of potential conflicts with the First Amendment.

City Attorney [Corrine] Thomson said she was not giving an opinion because she has not studied the issue but it appears conduct deemed harassing and disorderly is trying to be addressed not signage which needs close review for First Amendment rights. She said she did not believe the sign constituted a threat.

Council Member Wroge stated he disagreed, he did take it as a threat and it should not be tolerated. Richfield needs to be a leader not a follower to regulate behavior.

Thank you Councilman Wroge. I'll try to keep my eyes open for future developments or related incidents.

Anyone have an opinion for the council or for Richfield's attorney?

Richfield City Hall
6700 Portland Avenue
Richfield, MN 55423
(612) 861-9700
(612) 861-9749 (fax)

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

BWCA Idiocy and Mayhem: Slight Update

A story on the Ely Six and the BWCA idiocy popped up on Friday in Newsweek. We now have photos of three more of Ely's finest, upstanding, well-behaved, well-adjusted, big-talkers (and junk-beer-drinkers).

Let's all look at the jackasses: Barney Lakner, 37; Jay Olson, 19; Travis Erzar, 20; Casey Fenske, 19; and Zachary Ross Barton, 19.
The photograph and identity of 16 year old MU (refered to in the criminal complaint) will not be released as he is a defendant.

God help those who witnessed these lads swimming naked.

Let's have a recap:
* Barney James Lakner, 37, charged with four felony counts of terroristic threats, 11 felony counts of harassment, two felony counts of possession of firearms, two gross misdemeanor counts of theft, and one misdemeanor count each of transporting an uncased firearm, reckless discharge of a firearm and possession and use of fireworks.

* Jay Andrew Olson, 19, charged with four felony counts of terroristic threats, 12 felony counts of harassment, two felony counts of criminal damage to property, two gross misdemeanor counts of theft, one gross misdemeanor count of possession of stolen property, and one misdemeanor count each of reckless discharge of a firearm and underage consumption.

* Travis John Erzar, 20, charged with three felony counts of terroristic threats, six felony counts of harassment and one misdemeanor count of underage consumption.

* Casey James Fenske, 19, charged with four felony counts of terroristic threats, six felony counts of harassment, one felony count of criminal damage to property, and misdemeanor counts of reckless discharge of a firearm and underage consumption.

* Zachary Ross Barton, 19, charged with three felony counts of terroristic threats, six felony counts of harassment and one misdemeanor count each of reckless discharge of a firearm and underage consumption.
While we wait for more developments (and perhaps more pictures) we hear from Lakner's mother-in-law in the Newsweek story:
Dina Hill, a lifelong Ely resident and Lakner’s mother-in-law, worries about how this will impact her daughter and their children. "We have to hope for the best. It could just go away or it could be a medium punishment or full force,” she says. “You just shake your head 'cause these are all good kids. It was just stupidity. They were just showing off."
Showing off? If that is the case, then some of those campers were exaggerating quite a bit... still a possibility, but I'm going to hedge my bet that if these six were in fact showing off then they are all ginormous jackasses.

Here's another report from last week: WCCO: Ely distances itself from a rage against visitors.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Sitting and Waiting

What to write about? The Lakner case from the BWCA (or, as Soucheray refers to it, the BWCABACWAACWCWBCABBAACWCABAWACACAAACAWCA) didn’t move ahead significantly on October 1st (which should have been no surprise, but I was hoping otherwise). The beggar/would-be-burglar case has not moved ahead yet. Nothing else has really grabbed me recently… however, I haven’t been scouring the news for information much, either. I’m behind on reading a number of columns… namely Williams and Sowell.

Recently, I watched a couple of films in an attempt to whittle away the back-log of unseen films and series. Most of these were new. Kenneth Branagh’s “As You Like It” was pretty good, although I probably enjoyed “Much Ado About Nothing” more. Stalone’s “Rocky Balboa” pleasantly surprised me and the wife. We also set the Way-Back Machine for 1976 since she never saw “Rocky”. She was surprised that it didn’t fit the cliché that the franchise became. “Fantastic 4” proved to be quite enjoyable pulp… and we’re ready to borrow a friend’s DVD of the sequel. “The Shootist” was everything my friends said… a wonderful coda to the Duke’s career and to Western films.

Still to come… “The Great Escape” (which I started some time ago, but I keep getting interrupted), another Marilyn Monroe film, “Operation: Petticoat” since my wife loves it, the BBC/Derek Jacobi version of “Hamlet” from the early 80s, and “The Day the Earth Stood Still”.

Every year in October I hope to sit my wife down in front of a horror film. She usually balks at the good ones, since they are usually pretty thrilling or frightening. A few years ago she gave in to “Alien”, but missed much of it. A little victory, I suppose. I really want her to see something like “Vertigo”, “Psycho”, “the original “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, or perhaps one of the Hammer films (perhaps “Curse of Frankenstein” or “Horror of Dracula”). I suppose I’d settle for “Bubba Hotep”, “Jaws”, or “Fight Night”.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Prevent Crime: Give to Beggars (Update)

Link to the City of Richfield video... see the September 25th meeting.

Since I sent this story to the City Council, I've heard back from one of the council members. The city attorney says, as expected, that this is a matter of free speech on behalf of the man (who many not-so-veiled threats to burglarize and thieve). However, she plans to go over this case and get back to the City Council.

I hope to hear back about this, too. I might be going to another council meeting.

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