Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday Muffins and Random Musings

A - OK, when is all this ghoulish Jackson worship going to stop? I know it's impolitic to speak poorly of the dead, but as Jonah Goldberg so eloquently pointed out, we would have no history books if we didn't. The man served ALCOHOL TO 12 YEAR OLD BOYS, calling it "Jesus Juice" before taking these kids to his bedroom. The last wish of Farah Fawcett must have been for all the children of the world to be safe....I think she got her wish. RIP Farah.

B - Saw Gran Torino last night, and though there are so many things to love about this movie, it suffers from Eastwood's fatal flaw that has appeared in every movie he directed since Unforgiven - the Byron-esque tragic hero almost running towards his own damnation, or perhaps in this case, salvation. There are lots of open questions he doesn't seem interested in answering, but the themes about the death of the American male, the erosion of honor, and scenes of Clint paying homage to his old "Dirty Harry" days make it worth seeing the movie.

C - The response to part one of my article exploring the constitutional problems of gay marriage has been overwhelming, receiving close to 60 emails and private messages. Almost everyone was civil on both sides of the issue. Some people claim it boils down to whether you're of a religious temperament or not, which is a fair enough statement. Some people have made arguments about biology and natural law. Some made arguments that this is a "civil rights" issue - it is not, and we will talk about that in part two. Very few people stayed on track and addressed the constitutional issues I am attempting to tackle. Those who did made very scholarly arguments about how almost no State's population has approved gay marriage, instead having it imposed on them by activist courts which have no right making laws, only interpreting them. I'll finish up with this in my next post. Thank you to everyone who wrote in and participated in this discussion.

D - I wonder if that crazy Shamwow guy is going to step in to be the next Billy Mays. I doubt it.
Mays was the embodiment of the American Dream, and by all accounts a kind man whose products worked. The Shamwow guy is the embodiment of too many triple latte enemas and useless gadgetry.

E - Why am I lettering this blog? Is this Sesame Street?

F - The Straight Hype's favourite artist, Regina Spektor, has just released her latest album, "Far", where she explores her questions about faith and life. The production quality of the album and the accompanying videos are stunning, and the album retains Regina's quirky, ambiguous lyrics and hypnotic piano accompaniment. Buy this CD!!!!!

G - Cost of Obama's stimulus package - $700 billion. Cost of Tom Daschle's unreported taxes - $83,333. Seeing Sonia Sotomayor's ruling as an appeals court judge being reversed - priceless.

H - Check out Regina's latest video, and have a great week!



Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gay Marriage and The Whole Bloody Mess (Part I)

Ever plan a wedding? You have your ideal vision formed - small, personal, informal reception and all that wonderful stuff. Hey! No worries! What's all the fuss people keep going on about? Then you hit the guest list. You want to invite 50 people, but what if Aunt Ulga ends up bringing her 3 children who you met 8 years ago at a funeral - and if you only invite aunt Ulga, won't Aunt Bernice and Uncle Bob be a tad miffed that you snubbed them? Then people start inviting themselves. "I'll be there!!" Really? I didn't remember inviting you to begin with, jackass. Then the responses start coming in, and people may or not be coming to the reception, or they're inviting extra tag alongs. That throws the catering into chaos. The point is, something that seems so simple snowballs out of control because of the great and universal law of unintended consequences. Such is the case with gay marriage.

This is an emotional issue on both sides of the coin, and lots of people seem to leave their brains at the door when they start to rumble on this. I have no problem with gay people. I work with gay people, I have gay friends that are dear to my heart - but gay marriage isn't about whether you think gay people are just jim-dandy or the scourge of the earth. It's about the same thing that happens when you try to plan a wedding. Sometimes things that seem so simple are not even remotely that easy. Constitutional issues never are, and this is what this boils down to - The Constitution.

Gay rights activists were livid when gay marriage initiatives were soundly rejected in 30 states, passing with heavy support from black and Latino voters. After the votes, Keith Olbermann went on a disingenuous rant that got countless hits on YouTube about people wanting to rob others of their "right to love". Olbermann was stangely silent on the issue when his golden boy, President Obama, appeared at the Saddleback forum, stating that he subscribed to the traditional view of marriage because of his belief in Jesus. Where was Keith's self-righteous scorn when it really mattered, and why isn't he attacking the President now that he's gone on the record supporting the defence of marriage act? Probably because he's a soulless ratings-grabbing little weasel.

Let's first dispense with this nonsense that banning gay marriage is somehow taking away people's "right to love". Really? If Canada suddenly repealed it's law allowing gay marriage, countless gay couples would suddenly cease to love each other? Maybe I should rethink my own marriage, because if I follow that train of logic, I really wouldn't know if I loved Claire or not until September. That could be awkward. The entire "right to love" argument is an emotional one, and drags the whole debate into the realm of silliness.

Some states have allowed gay couples to marry. States have a right to decide these types of issues, and that's exactly how the founders of United States wanted it to be. The trouble starts when the couple moves to another state. By law, another state, even one that does not allow gay marriage, must recognize the marriage as legal. The federal constitution can trump a state's constitution when it comes to brass tacks. The state's courts are then jammed with petitions from their own residents filing suit for their right to be married because the state has recognized the validity of a same sex marriage. See? The snowball starts rolling down the hill.

Many pundits have been clamouring for years now that allowing same sex marriage would open up the flood gates to other types of folks who want their non-traditional views of marriage recognized, ie, polygamists. Even I thought this argument was tenuous at best. Turns out I was wrong. There are now dozens of petitions being brought before the courts demanding that their right to marry Sally, Mary, Jenny, and Sue be recognized because of the precedents set by the state in recognizing same sex marriage. A gay couple may rightfully argue it's not their problem. Maybe not, but there is no denying this would not have been an issue had the state chosen not to recognize gay marriage in the first place.

The gay marriage issue is not going away. I don't have the answer, but I do know that we have to tread these waters carefully, with cool heads and reason. If not, that wedding list is going to start getting awfully complicated. It's the law of unintended consequences.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Updates and More Updates!

My glue sniffing webmaster, the esteemed Mr. Paul Leger, has added more snappy gadgets to further enhance your conservative libertoid roller coaster experience on my blog. If you can tear your eyes away from this riveting piece of literary prowess, you'll notice that just above the links section there's a link to our new message board. It's quick and easy, like Barney Frank on a Saturday night at the Leather Thong bar, and you can rant and rave and wax philosophical on all things political, or even non-political if you wish. Maybe you really like ferrets, or you think vitamin enhanced drinks are a conspiracy by "big water". Whatever your particular interests are, feel free to log in and have at it - Just don't be a whack job, because I have full moderation control and intend to use it if you start going on about 9/11 Zionist conspiracies.

Now, if you can tear your eye balls away for just one more minute, you'll notice a nifty little counter at the bottom of the archive section. This was added to give us a better idea of how many people are visiting the site. We had to start with an arbitrary number, so we started the counter at 2500, which is well below what we estimated the actual hit number of the site to be. So far we are estimating that about 160 of you wonderfully informed and sexy people are visiting the site every week. Not bad for a half retarded Canadian blogger who takes positions that are contrary to just about everyone else in my beloved country - but we can do better.

Claire has done some fabulous research on President Obama's mess of a health care bill and has crunched some fascinating numbers. She's discovered provisions that would penalize (through heavy taxation) businesses that provide health care coverage acquired through private insurance companies for their employers. How is Obama going to pay for all of this? How else does a Democrat pay for whatever social engineering project that he or she has dreamed up? Go picking the pockets of their favourite bogeyman, "the rich" - but even when you tabulate the revenues generated from taking money that isn't the government's to begin with, it doesn't begin to modestly cover the massive expenditures required.

He even has a provision that calls for the taxing of soft drinks. Better stock up on diet Dr. Pibbs before October, when the POTUS is going to try and sell this puppy to the House. Of more interest is the fact that the administration is none to happy that fellow Democrats refused to play ball and pass this before the summer. Now everyone has a chance to read this monster, and even the usually reliable Presidential lackeys like Paul Krugman are saying it's unworkable.

I am going to try and peck out an article on all the wonderful research that the lovely miss Claire has done on this, but don't hold your breath given my track record.

OK! Is everyone up to speed? Are we all on the same page here?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Angels and Demons

Remember the old episode of Seinfeld when Jerry suspects that his dentist may have converted to Judaism for the express purpose of being given licence to crack self-deprecating Jewish jokes? When asked by a friend if Jerry was insulted by his dental practitioner's shallow conversion, he wryly replies "I'm not offended as a Jew. I'm offended as a comedian." The same can be said of Ron Howard's latest cinematic outing Angels and Demons. My brother cautioned me about the movie's potentially problematic themes; After seeing the movie, I can confidently assert that I am not offended as a Catholic - I am offended as a devotee of cinema.

As more formidable pundits than I have previously noted (Ross Douthat and Thomas S. Hibbs), Angels and Demons is a far better cinematic experience than Ron Howard's previous screen adaptation of Dan Brown's more inflammatory novel, The Da Vinci Code. This caveat being offered, to say this is a better movie, is a far cry from conceding it is a good movie.

The "plot" (if such an incredible scenario can even be honored with that distinction) involves a conspiracy by an ancient secret society of scientists called the Illuminati bent on destroying the Vatican by smuggling an anti-matter bomb deep within the bowls of Vatican city while a contentious papal enclave is underway. Symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is called on by the church to unravel a series of ancient clues, each bringing him closer to the Illuminati's secret meeting hall in the hopes of discovering the bomb before it turns Saint Peter's Square into a mini Hiroshima. Oh, did I mention there's also an assassin for hire thrown in for good measure who has somehow managed (without explanation) to kidnap the four top bishops in consideration to sit on the throne of Saint Peter who are being assassinated each hour at pre-assigned locations?

Howard takes several departures from the novel, the most notable being that most of the book's hostile diatribes against the church are toned down or omitted altogether, and the church is treated with refreshing reverence in the end. Of more interest to me was the decision to change the ethnicity of the assassin from a radical Islamicist to a suave European hitman. Apparently, the feelings of Catholics are less important than the tender sensibilities of fanatic Muslims.

The movie's fatal flaw, as is with both of Dan Brown's books featuring Robert Langdon, is Brown's infuriating hubris. He insists that though the books are set against fictional backdrops, the rest of his claims are historically accurate, and a gullible public seems to eager to believe him. However, as with The Da Vinci Code, even a cursory examination by a layman quickly turns Brown's dubious claims into ashes.

1 - Brown claims the Illuminati was formed by Galileo after his house arrest by the Vatican.

Fact - The Illuminati was not founded by Galileo, nor was it even founded in Italy. The society was formed almost 100 years after his death in Bavaria by Adam Weishaupt and was later disbanded by the Bavarian authorities in 1785.

2 - Brown's inspiration for the kidnapping and murder of the four Vatican officials by the Illuminati was an act of retaliation for an actual historical event called "The Purge", during which the church executed four prominent members of the group and discarded their bodies throughout Rome.

Fact - There is absolutely no historical record of this event ever happening. The imprisonment of Galileo was a political move to counter the ever-growing prominence of Lutheranism throughout Europe, and not a move to silence his heliocentric view of the universe. There were no persecutions of scientists after Galileo's imprisonment, and despite their disagreements, Galileo was admired and had an otherwise cordial relationship with Pope Urban VIII.

3 - The first clue that leads Langdon on his race through the streets of Rome is found in a secret book written by Galileo.

Fact - There is unanimous agreement among even the foremost experts on Galileo that no such book was ever written or ever existed.

Perhaps the most glaring of all the film's inaccuracies is the pivotal thematic element that drives it - the very clues Langdon races to discover that reveal the location of the next clue. Each statue or obelisk that Langdon finds shows a finger or arrow pointing the way towards the next clue. In reality, all of the signs are pointing in the opposite geographical locations that Brown's novel, and Howard's movie, claim.

Despite all this, it's a fun movie. Like the Da Vinci Code, it's well paced and masterfully scored by Hans Zimmer. You can't help but find yourself entranced by Langdon as he unlocks yet another code or mystery, only to race through the jam packed streets and crowded public areas to thwart the efforts of the Illuminati. The locations - such as Saint Peter's Square - are stunning, and Ron Howard is no novice behind the camera, delighting us with wonderful aerial shots and behind the scenes glimpses of the Vatican and the intricacies of a papal enclave.

My dad and I went to see it together, and perhaps my assessment is overly generous due to the fact that my pop and I haven't gone to see a movie together in close to 15 years, and it was fun to be out with him on a guys night at the movies.

Like me, Dad had mixed feelings about the movie, but there was one thing we both were agreed on - Columbo would have unraveled the whole mess in 30 minutes.



Tuesday, June 09, 2009

We're all Pundits Now

You have to admit that a certain level of cognitive dissonance sets in when the newest addition to your compliment of physicians is an ex-Clinton PR hack now serving in the medical a remote Canadian city in the middle of nowhere. He is a wonderfully kind man and a very skilled doctor, but given his readiness to regurgitate all of the left-leaning beltway's latest talking points (the supposed Obama - Bush second term similarities) you have to be a little thankful that the man has chosen to graze in greener pastures.

When you begin to believe your own spin ("Cheney-Rumsfeld were the Machiavellian architects - they're even admitting it - I saw it on TV!") it's time to move on - or stay moved on as this fellow's case may be.

Speaking of the media's bizarre new fondness of drawing similarities between President Bush's second term, and President Obama's current stewardship (often mistakenly referred to as the Messiah's "first term" - was he already elected again?), let's examine that claim.

I don't seem to recall President Bush signing a massive new stem cell initiative, trying to close down Gitmo, pushing for federally funded socialized health care, enacting legislation that allows for tax payer funded abortions overseas, and lifting restrictions on abortions laws at home. Did President Bush call for a massive stimulus bill and share similar feelings on immigration? Absolutely - but the minute of how they wanted these things accomplished could not be more starkly different. President Bush did not envision the renewal of a massive FDR-style welfare state ruled by Supreme Court Justices who would use foreign court rulings and "empathy" as the guiding principals of their decisions.

The media and political spinsters seem to live in a bizarre little cocoon where the politics of celebrity and misread tealeaves are the order of the day. They speak of "the realities" of governing versus think tank chatter on the campaign trail as if they were all ardent proponents of H. Stuart Hughes' brand of conservatism. I guess everyone's a pundit these days...even me.



Friday, June 05, 2009

Say Goodbye To Hollywood - Blogging By Numbers!!!

A little less than two decades ago, Quentin Tarantino introduced a bold and fresh new style of cinema with the release of his second directorial outing, Pulp Fiction. It was fresh, gripping, and wonderfully irreverent. Since then, the Tarantino genre has spawned countless imitators, and at times it seems Tarantino knock-off films are the only thing playing at the cinema. His success, however, came with an unfortunate consequence; The death of the very element that drives a film - plot. If the new Star Trek film is any indication, the only things needed to ensure a box office windfall are audio/visual wizardry, clever dialogue, and (perhaps not in this case) gratuitous violence.

Were it not for directors like Guy Ritchie and the success of independent cinema, it would seem plot has become at best an afterthought, and at worst, a nuisance to be dealt with in order to keep the one-liners and big old 'splosions rolling. So what does this tell us about the future of cinema? I don't know, but it's Blogging By Numbers Time!!!!
1- For those of you who are fans of insightful conservatism with unmatched wit, NRO's Jay Nordlinger is your man. From the Sotomayor debacle to the joys of Manhattan, there's no one out there that does it better than Mr. Nordlinger. His latest book, Here, There, and Everywhere, is a must have for your library, and can be purchased via the link above.

2- Speaking of the death of cinema and plot, one sure remedy to cure a Star Trek hang-over is Darren Aronofsky's wonderful Academy award nominated film, The Wrestler. It is a gripping, heart wrenching, touching, and oddly inspirational film. Mickey Rourke delivers a round-house performance and it's a Hype must-see.

3 - Remember when I announced a few blogs ago that President Obama's contrived hawkishness was simply a ruse to anaesthetise conservatives while he waited to appoint a liberal activist judge to the Supreme court? Well, wait no longer, because Sonia Sotomayor is in the proverbial house. The openly activist judge who has been described by her colleagues as lacking depth and maturity is already showing the hallmarks of an Obama nominee in waiting - financial troubles. The AP is reporting that Sotomayor owes over $400,000 in personal debt, and I have little doubt that a litany of tax troubles is sure to follow. Sotomayer is an outspoken ally of using empathy over the rule of law as the principle that will guide her, and is also a fan of the unconstitutional practice of invoking the rulings of foreign courts to influence decisions in cases brought before the Justices. I hope Judge Sotomayor goes the way of so many other poorly vetted nominees before her - out the door and into oblivion.

4 - I shot the tooth fairy last night. What was I supposed to do? She broke into my house and was rifling under my pillow. I don't even have a kid! RIP you twisted little spook.

5 - Fox News is reporting the tragic passing of David Carradine. Carradine was my mother's favourite actor, and was known to all as a kind and generous man. Our sympathy and prayers go out to his family.

6 - Have a great weekend, and enjoy the sounds of They Might Be Giants as we head into the land of rest and relaxation.