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Saturday, March 31, 2007

No One Publicly Questions Their Patriotism
When I read Thucydides' account of the Peloponnesian War, one of the most baffling things to me was Alcibiades. Here was a man who time and again was blatantly treasonous to his city, siding with the enemy in battle planning. Yet, he was still popular in Athens – popular enough to trick them again and again. How could the Athenians be so stupid and gullible?

Now I see how. Just look at the Democrats today.

Now, our senior-most communist in the government, Nancy Pelosi, the intellectual light-weight who is enamored with her own improbable rise to the Speaker of the House, has decided to visit with the President of Syria. Syria is our unstated enemy, and is routinely sending people to fight us in Iraq. Nancy Pelosi is just like Alcibiades. Except that Alcibiades was brilliant and Pelosi isn't.

So when did the House of Representatives get to negotiate with foreign heads of state? More importantly, why isn't the administration openly questioning her patriotism?

Here's an image of a vase showing a man putting a Herm, a traditional statue of Hermes in place. The Greeks placed these at road intersections, much like later Christians placed statues of Mary at road intersections. The other Herm I've seen was more cartoonish.
George W. Bush is rapidly diminishing in power. By not exercising his back bone, it has gotten weaker and weaker. He acquiesces to traitors daily now. He doesn't speak out against them, he doesn't challenge their actions and motives, even in a blatant case like this where there is no question that Pelosi is seeking to undermine our nation in its ability to wage war.

Just what is her aim in going to Syria? The reasons are almost too obvious, but the horror of the truth keeps many from seeing it. Pelosi, just like Kerry during his campaign, is pushing these foreign, unfriendly heads of state to act in ways that support her ambitions. If she can get Syria to act in a way that discredits the current administration, she will have more power to undermine it herself and increase her, and the socialist international's power.

Pelosi is now much like Alcibiades. Alcibiades was responsible for pushing Athens into the disastrous Sicily campaign, which only served to divert their army from the Spartan threat during a very fragile truce with them. Not only did Athens lose their entire army, add more enemies to the war, and embolden the Spartans, but Alcibiades helped the Spartans do it. Shortly after being sent on the Sicilian campaign, he was recalled on charges of religious impiety.

Okay, some more background. The night before the Athenians deployed on the Sicilian campaign, someone, or it must have been some group, went around the city and mutilated all the statues of Hermes. Hermes was a god of virility, and his statues featured a very prominent erect penis. The example I saw was cartoonish. Although Thucydides doesn't say so, the Hermes were mutilated by breaking off the penis. The culprit was never found, but the result was a witch hunt.

After the witch hunt subsided, the Athenians concluded that Alcibiades was behind the plot. He had many friends that were very irreverent and regularly mocked the religion, and it seems reasonable to me that he was associated with the mutilation of the Hermes, though historians have not been able to decide this issue.

The Athenians ordered Alcibiades to return from Sicily for trial. He, probably correctly, concluded that the trial would be a kangaroo court and escaped to Sparta. He then began to advise the Spartans and later the Persians on how to defeat the Athenians, starting with convincing the Spartans to send military advisors to Syracuse. It was this advisor that led the Syracusans in an amazing campaign that destroyed the entire Athenian army in Sicily, at least 2/3 of their total military force. Alcibiades' treason changed the entire Peloponnesian War, and this led to the eventual defeat of democracy in Greece.

After the destruction of the Athenian army, Alcibiades rotated between helping Athens and fighting Athens, with disastrous results for his homeland, and each time he had wildly enthusiastic supporters at home.

I want our President to ask our nation, loudly and often, to demand that Pelosi tell us what deals she is making with the enemy. I want our commander in chief to threaten the Speaker of the House with charges of treason. I want our nation to be protected from our own version of Alcibiades, Nancy Pelosi.

Going to Syria, mutilating the Herms. Both were acts perpetrated by citizens of a democracy intended to undermine their own nation at war. The mutilation of the Herms preceded the destruction of an army. I fear this collusion with Syria by the leader of the Democrats bodes equally badly.

Monday, March 19, 2007

One Issue Voter
I'm a one issue voter. Whoever convinces me that they're the most serious about winning the war on terror, preferrably killing the most terrorists in the process, gets my vote.

So far, I'm an early supporter of Fred Thompson. I don't know much about his politics, but I like his attitude towards Iran.

I'm including his statement about the new movie "300" blatantly ripping him off, but I assume he wants the coverage. I don't think this website adds much to his outreach, but here's my stumping for him anyway. Click on the "drivel" link to get his words, not mine.
by Fred Thompson
The comic book movie “300” about the Spartans and the Persians in 480 BC is still breaking box-office records. Now it seems the rulers of modern-day Persia, Iran, are not amused.

“300,” shows a small band of Spartans saving the lives of their countrymen AND the seeds of modern Democracy by kicking the much larger Persians forces effectively in the backside at Thermopylae until the sheer numbers overwhelmed them. If I remember my history, that’s exactly what happened.
But the Iranians have filed a flurry of complaints with the United Nations, claiming “300” is “cultural and psychological warfare.”
Who are these guys who are getting all flushed over our cultural insensitivity?
People who want to blow Jews off the face of the earth. The regime that stormed our embassy in 1979 and kept Americans captive for 444 days. Iran’s Hezbollah puppets have killed more Americans, than any other terrorist group except Al Qaeda. Explosive devices from Iran are being used right now against our soldiers in Iraq. They’re clearly more skittish about cultural warfare than the sort that actually kills people – like the one against Israel that Iran financed just a few months ago.
I must say that I’m impressed that Hollywood took on a politically incorrect villain. Must have run out of neo-Nazis. So now these sensitive souls in Iran think that Hollywood is part of a U.S. government conspiracy to humiliate them into submission. I can only wish we were that effective.

Fred Thompson is a former US Senator from Tennessee, an actor, and — many say — a potential candidate for President of the United States.

Return to Pajamas Media homepage

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The NRA is Worthless
I've been a member of the National Rifle Association, mostly because they have a big name, but not because I've been impressed with anything they've done. As supposed supporters of the Second Amendment, they've done nothing to advance the cause of this precious right in the courts. They have almost exclusively acted in the legislature and have never brought a case to court to affirm the right to keep and bear arms. They have, in their century and more of existence, allowed the myth of the "collective" right to bear arms to become established in the minds of many people in this nation. Not once did they take a case to court.

So why do they exist? Well, pretty much they exist to take your money. I only pay the minimal dues, but I get bombarded almost daily by expensive mailings begging me for more money, threatening that congress is going to take my guns away if I don't give them more and more money. I'm glad I refrained from rewarding their do-nothing policy.

The defenders of the Second Amendment just got a tremendous boost in the courts this month. The District Court of the District of Columbia ruled that their three-decade old absolute gun ban is unconstitutional. No thanks to the NRA.

So how did this happen? One man acted, alone, with his own money. Robert Levy attended law school at the age of 53 and decided enough is enough.

The NRA has been shown up. Publicly on display as not being willing to do with the backing of millions of members what one man with principle was able to do.

They won't get another cent of my money. Ever.

Of the two political parties, the republicans have recently been more in favor of gun rights, but the end result of this decision is likely to help the democrats more than the republicans. Here's how:
Since 1994, the democrat party has gotten hammered by the electorate for many issues, but the biggest loser for them has been their attempt to confiscate and eliminate gun ownership in our great republic. As a party they have avoided the issue like the homely girl in school before a Sadie Hawkins Dance, but they have a hard core fringe that won't let them avoid the topic completely. Since their stand on most issues is anti-American, they need every fringe vote they can get. This is the reason for the severe irrational reactions to almost anything the opposition does, even when it is exactly what they've advocated in the past.

If the Supreme Court upholds this decision, and I suspect they will do that and more, that will eliminate gun control as a viable platform for their party. They will no longer have to kow tow to the fringe on this issue, they can simply shrug their shoulders and say, "See? We tried, but the court has spoken and we can't pursue this any further."

This decision, if upheld, frees them to pursue the rest of their adoption of the communist manifesto and the furtherance of Hanoi Jane's and Murtha's dreams.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

I saw the new movie "300" yesterday. I am shocked, to the very foundation of my being that Hollywood made this movie. It is the most purely masculine, human, non-touchy-feely movie I have ever seen.

Frank Miller is a comic book artist, who seems to have invented or at least perfected the "graphic novel" as an art form and has now made one of these into this movie. This is the explanation for the surreal and fantastic elements of the movie. Once you understand the origins of the movie as coming from comic book art, you can then accept the fantasm and understand why it is there.

Comic books have long been the last haven for boys to see heroes presented as unequivical heroic and principled men – and women. It's common, and usually central, to many stories in book or movie form to give the hero or central figure a flaw. This flaw is often used to create the tension or turning point of the story, and is a useful plot device. The problem is that for modern writers the reliance on giving a hero a weakness has too often included making the hero weak in moral fortitude.

I think that this weak moral fiber has been so prevalent that most people no longer recognize this weakness as unusual and are disappointed when a hero is presented who has no doubts or is unwavering.

In the movie "300" Frank Miller has completely forsaken this weakness. King Leonides is unwavering in supporting his country, ruthless in protecting freedom, and unforgiving to those who challenge democracy. The anti-hero, such as in a Paul Auster novel, is more understandable to contemporary readers. A Paul Auster character of Leonides would have him wondering if he was making good decisions, and end up crushed by the weight of responsibility, howling at the moon in a descent into madness. Such are heroes today.

In a twist that is like a breath of fresh air to me, Miller did include one weakness in one of the heroes, but not the king. The king's captain of Spartans is a powerful and unwavering supporter of the king, a man to be emulated by all other men, second only to the king's example himself. The captain is so dedicated that he includes his eldest son on the campaign, even boasting that if his son were to die, he has others back home to carry on the family name that he is equally proud of. Of course the whole story is that all these 300 will die, but it so happened that the son was killed before the father was killed. The father then showed his weakness. He flew into a rage, and that night he went off alone to mourn.

In a normal movie, the king would seek out the captain, console him, try to make him feel better. But in this movie, the king simply looked over with worried interest and waited, confident that his captain would regain his composure. Finally, when he was needed for battle again, the captain returned to the king, not with sorrow and resignation, but changed nonetheless. He declared to the king that his son's death has changed him, by filling him with hate.

In modern society, this is considered bad. You're never allowed to hate. You should always forgive. But this is a pre-christian society where forgiveness is not required for enemies that lop off your son's head. In 480 BC you're allowed to hate those who would enslave you without apology. The king responds, not with bravado or fakery, but with seriousness that this is a good change, and they both wade into battle again. A weaker story-teller, a modern story-teller would have given this episode to the main character, Leonidas. Frank Miller knew that his hero would never lose his bearing, and only the second in command could do so, and even he could only do so if he returned even firmer in his belief of his cause. Frank Miller understands true heroism.

The theme of this movie is blatant and unapologetic. You must fight to protect your family, your country, your freedom. King Leonidas shows how men were expected to act 2500 years ago, and should be expected to act today. Sadly, our culture doesn't understand heroism. The concept has been watered down so much that someone is called a hero for the most banal of acts. Frank Miller reminds us what real heroes are, what real heroism requires, and why it is to be admired.

Many years ago, I became fascinated by two topics: Bravery and mutiny. I'm still fascinated by them both. I wonder at what keeps men disciplined and obeying orders even when faced with danger and death. Both require the will to face danger, a commitment to supporting a cause and submission to authority even when leaders appear insane. Both are treated very badly in our culture. Mutineers are considered heroes today ("Kelly's Heroes" for example), and heroes are rarely unblemished.

One final kudo for this movie. It is the only time I have ever seen a portrayal of the Greek phalanx in a way that captures the way it is described by the ancients. Although to be artistic and exciting, Miller frequently abandons the phalanx to show the free-wheeling, one-on-one combat that plays so well on the screen, he does more than lip service to the phalanx. The ancients described the phalanx as a shoving match, with individuals crushed from comrades behind and from the enemy in front. Shields do more than protect from sword and shield thrusts, they are primarily used to push. A wall of shields with men behind pushing for all they're worth, while they stab to their front in the hope of breaking the other lines. I've never seen it so vividly portrayed.

As with the rest of the movie, it is not realistic. It is because it is not strictly realistic that it seems to capture the energy and power of the real battle. For instance, if you were to show an arm-wrestling contest on tv, it would be very boring. In fact this has been tried, but it is always boring. Although great power is being shown, the lack of movement makes it appear static. To understand the power of an arm-wrestling contest, artists have always shown the arms going back and forth, nearly winning, then nearly losing, then back again. The same with portraying a phalanx battle. To watch a real one would likely be like watching arm wrestlers. Frank Miller doesn't limit himself to realism, he uses his art to show power, confusion, in a way that nearly overwhelmed me. I'm not sure I can even describe it well, for fear of not doing the artist justice.

I agree with the historian and political commentator Victor David Hansen in his review of the movie, that the Greeks would have loved this movie. Their only quibble might have been that this city or that city was not properly represented, or that the details of certain governments or religious acts were distorted. This would be important to them and their jealousies, but of little interest to most of us. What the Greeks would have loved is the other liberties Miller took with realism. The lack of substantial armor by the Spartans and the Arcadians is consistent with much of their own idealized art. They would have marveled at the fantastic portrayal of monsters, and they would have agreed with the portrayal of decadence by the Asians, especially of Xerxes.

I can keep going, but I can't afford the time. I hope this movie spawns a new trend in movies by keeping a strong philosophical portrayal of heroes, but I suspect that the lesson for Hollywood will be to just make a gory movie with monsters. I don't think most people in the business really even understand what makes this movie so powerful.

Monday, March 05, 2007

A Failed Experiment in Pure Communism
I remember as a young school child learning about different countries that the Israelis had these communities called Kibbutzes. It was a communist dream, people living in harmony, each earning according to his needs, each working according to his ability. Most horrifying to me was that children were not allowed to live with their parents, but were raised by the village, in communal dorms.

Even at that young age I thought, "What a crock!"

Well, now I learn that the kibbutzes are all failing. Duh. Unknown to me, the reason they've taken so long to fail is because the government was subsidizing them.
The Jewish stereotype of the greedy capitalists who would chisel their own mother's last pennies in interest is strangely incompatible with the Jewish stereotype of being communist. Since none of the Jews I know are in either category, it's hard to understand where the first stereotype comes from, but just looking at the kibbutz and the high percentage of Jewish communist party members certainly explain the second stereotype.

We must admit that the kibbutzes were about the best, most pure modern attempt to make communism work without bloodshed. History has shown that communism can work, with numerous examples throughout the ages. The only problem being that the stagnation of the communist society will do it in eventually, and can only survive by oppression. The Spartans were thoroughly communist and militaristic and they prospered for centuries. But they lived off the productive labor of the Helots. The price of their status quo was that the Spartans had to maintain constant vigilance for Helot revolts. They also suffered from birth rates that could not sustain its numbers. The lesson to learn from the Spartans is that communism lasts only so long as the people are kept forcibly enslaved.

Of course, this was demonstrated again in large scale in Soviet Russia. They succeeded in exporting their version of communism throughout the world, but it was only ever done at the end of a gun.

Now we're told that the Kibbutzes in Israel only ever succeeded because they were subsidized. They didn't teach me that inconvenient fact when I was in grade school. But the subsidies dried up in the 1980's and shortly after that, the kibbutzes begain rapid failure and shifts to capitalism. So the kibbutzes kept their communist reputation, but began shedding their anti-capitalist ideas.

I always wondered what type of perverse person would live in a kibbutz and allow their children to be taken away and sent to live in a dorm. What was the point in doing that? Didn't kibbutzers love their children? Apparently not.

I think the following quotes from the article I linked to are perfect examples of why communism can't work without oppression:

"I know that if I work hard, that I'll earn the same as the person living next to me who works less."

"There is something in the education, that begins at the bottom, that there's no point in being terribly successful."

I'm glad the farce of the kibbutzes is finally revealed. The struggle against soviet communism is over. Now the farce of granola communism can no longer point to the kibbutz as a model.