Monday, August 10, 2009
Keep the Heat On
QUAIL. Well, this is fun. According to Nancy and Steny, giving politicians a hard time is Un-American:
We believe it is healthy for such a historic effort to be subject to so much scrutiny and debate. The failure of past attempts is a reminder that health insurance reform is a defining moment in our nation's history — it is well worth the time it takes to get it right. We are confident that we will get this right.
Already, three House committees have passed this critical legislation and over August, the two of us will work closely with those three committees to produce one strong piece of legislation that the House will approve in September.
In the meantime, as members of Congress spend time at home during August, they are talking with their constituents about reform. The dialogue between elected representatives and constituents is at the heart of our democracy and plays an integral role in assuring that the legislation we write reflects the genuine needs and concerns of the people we represent.
However, it is now evident that an ugly campaign is underway not merely to misrepresent the health insurance reform legislation, but to disrupt public meetings and prevent members of Congress and constituents from conducting a civil dialogue. These tactics have included hanging in effigy one Democratic member of Congress in Maryland and protesters holding a sign displaying a tombstone with the name of another congressman in Texas, where protesters also shouted "Just say no!" drowning out those who wanted to hold a substantive discussion.
Let the facts be heard
These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.
Oh? Bush Lied, People Died. No War for Oil. Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera (1:35 in). There are so many hypocrisies and ironies in their outrage that the comedy of their stand on American principles of fairness tends to obscure the deeper and much darker issues involved.
They don't care about fairness. They care about winning. They have sedulously cultivated every kind of ugly, unfair, demonizing mob attack on their enemies undertaken since the Vietnam War. Everyone from Nuclear Freeze Anarchists to Code Pink to Moveon.org to MSNBC to the BBC 'liberals' who thought it appropriate to depict the assassination of George W. Bush, and now they find something Un-American about people yelling "Read the bill!" at scheduled political meetings? They have nominated and elected a president whose whole resume consists of dirty, vicious, rabble-rousing politics (uh, "community organizing") aimed at using ignorant pawns to suborn the law of the land and support their drive toward expanded government power. Their own Justice Department can see no crime in an armed "New Black Panther" presence at the polls while ordinary (Un)Americans are trying to vote. And they're really trying to sell us this crock of shit? That they prefer reasonable and reasoned discussion to a wall of invective and partisan hatred?
I'll let you fill in the dark parts for yourselves, but I will tell you three things I've seen recently that this kind of Democrat grandstanding reminded me of. I'll leave it to you to draw the linkages and elucidate the meanings:
1. Over the weekend I finally saw the Mark Wahlberg action movie, Shooter. A one-word movie title needs a subtitle. In this case it should have been: A Lefty Wet Dream. It begins with a marine sniper in Ethiopia, where we all know U.S. forces have been concentrated in recent years. And, true to the liberal vision of U.S. national security policy, a sniper is left to die after performing heroically. Cut to three years later, where said sniper is hanging out like Bourne in the first sequel, sans girlfriend, but ripe for exploitation by an unidentified intel operative who wants to see how he would go about assassinating the president of the United States, because some other sniper said he was going to. Of course it's all a setup, which means Wahlberg has to turn instantly into Bourne (because we all know that snipers are also taught lethal hand-to-hand combat, urban pursuit driving, electronic sabotage, battlefield surgery techniques, and the right moves for seducing women with nipple-popping tanktops into helping fugitive political assassins who show up with a dumb, hurt, my-country-screwed-me-again look on their faces).
Of course, the real villain is Dick Cheney and his amoral Halliburton factotums, which means that our hero has to kill -- far more emotionlessly than Bourne -- about fifty mercenaries, intel operatives and politicians before he can slide away into the sunset. Oh, and yeah, he also gets a lecture from another Bourne-type sniper about how nothing matters except power, which is disgusting even to an avowed slaughterer of men, women, and children on all politically active continents. And did we mention the napalm? Which is always available to snipers on the lam who nevertheless come from the U.S. military and have no feelings whatever about watching dozens of people burn to death.
Well, at least, he killed Dick Cheney at the end. Thanks to a free pass from the attorney general in God knows what administration. And after his brand new girlfriend murdered the intel operative who suddenly forgot all his training and orders because of her bursting bra, the two of them got to begin their new life in the lefty utopia of hating everybody in the name of their greater love for Ethipians whose own leaders massacre them for U.S. dollars. I'll bet GWB and Dick Cheney were really shamed by this movie. Maybe especially when they saw the renegade Hispanic FBI agent who deserted his post to help Wahlberg in his shiny new Che Guevara sweatshirt.
Not that liberals would ever kill anyone for their beliefs or act intolerant or trivialize the value of human life. Or anything like that. But you know. We're all free to fantasize.
2. On NJN (PBS Channel 23) over the weekend, there was a sober archaeological effort titled "Headless Romans." It's PBS, you know. They wouldn't play emotional tricks on the audience, would they? Would they?
You see, they found these forty-some skeletons buried at York (England, don't you know). But the burials were totally unlike other Roman burials. Usually, the Romans cremated their dead. When they didn't, they buried them the way we do, face up, laid out nicely, and, uh, you know, politely. So who were the butchered skeletons in the York graveyard who had, most of them, been savagely decapitated, with their severed heads mostly tossed at their feet and knees? Various lisping Brit scholars (male and female, so don't get in a sex snit; they lisp -- it's called reportage) informed us that they had been able to date the bodies to c. 200 A.D., which was when the current Roman emperor had embarked on one of Rome's periodic attempts to subdue the Scots (called "Caledonians" in this oh-so-correct docu-dumbery) north of Hadrian's Wall.
If you're at all like me, you're surprised that the Romans ever messed with the Scots after having built a huge wall across the entire width of England to keep them out. But apparently the Emperor Severus thought this would set the seal on his image of invincibility in Rome, so he decided to go for it, with his two sons GidaGeta and CaracollaCaracalla (h/t Taylor for the correction).
So we move into some really fine nature photography. What the legions would have seen looking from Hadrian's Wall into "Caledonia." uh, nothing. Scenery maybe, but no Caledonians. Which pissed the Romans off. Because the Caledonians were clambering over the wall whenever they wanted and taking whatever they wanted from Roman settlements in "Britannia." Bastards. So the Romans marched into the mists and wastes of Caledonia, looking for Caledonians. Occasionally they found some. When they did, they slaughtered them to the last woman, child and fetus, because nobody ever fucks with the Romans.
Except the Caledonians. Who proceeded to fight a three-year war of "stealth" against the Romans, choosing their opportunities and descending like the barbarians they were when opportunities presented themselves. The producers allowed as how the Roman offensive did not go according to plan. There was never a pitched battle. The legions never encountered a Caledonian army they could engage in the open.
You're thinking stalemate, right? Can't find'em, can't kill'em, let's go home. Until they casually, lispingly, drop the bombshell that in three years of fighting, the Roman offensive lost 50,000 troops. Huh? WTF? (Does anybody else think Hadrian may have been more than an ambitious WPA contractor?)
Back to the bodies from the graveyard. PBS. Science. DNA. Historical archives (not like the Romans never wrote anything down, is it?) Striking footage of decapitated skeletons laid out in what maybe used to be the nave of a church in York. Not Caledonians. Surprised? These are mostly Roman soldiers between the ages of 20 and 40. What next? The forensics crones go to work -- why are they all women? -- explaining just how savagely the victims were killed. Explaining how all the injuries are to either the legs or the necks and heads. Really kind of delighted with their own expertise.
Now they're showing us all the different ways to cut off heads -- cleanly, clumsily, but apparently always with prejudice. While they speak, we're seeing images of tartan-clad barbarians demonstrating the various techniques in the bogs and woodlands of Caledonia. Isn't that sick? Those barbarians.
Except that the bottom line of the show is that it wasn't the Scots, er, Caledonians. It was, as I knew from the moment I first heard his name, Caracalla. The crime from first to last was Roman. Caracalla was one of the three most vicious emperors in Roman history -- along with Caligula and Elegabalus -- and he rose to the throne by first attempting to murder his father and then succeeding in murdering his brother. The "Headless Romans" were the imperial retainers who blocked him from killing his own father. Life at the top is purely about power and there's no point whatever in dragging the commoners into it, even when you're just pretending to show how barbarians would go about doing what a privileged pig would simply order his minions to do.
I admit I had a head start. The name Caracalla. I did study Roman history. All that was new to me was the lisping and the misdirection. Caracalla returned to Rome without a victory in Caledonia. Did that contribute to his early "retirement" from the throne? You tell me.
3. During the recent unpleasantness in Iran, we learned about a paramilitary adjunct to the Islamic power structure called the Basij. Here's Wikipedia's description:
The Basij (Persian: بسيج) (literally "Mobilization"; also Basij-e Mostaz'afin, literally "Mobilization of the Oppressed"; officially Nirou-ye Moqavemat-e Basij, literally "Mobilisation Resistance Force") is a paramilitary volunteer militia founded by the order of the Ayatollah Khomeini in November 1979. The Basij are subordinate to, and receive their orders from, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
The force has been widely used in order to control the widescale protests following the 2009 Iranian presidential election. According to Iranian state-run media reports, eight of the 20 killed during the protests were members of Basij.
Consisting of young Iranians who volunteer to join this force, often in exchange for official benefits, the Basij are most notable for their loyalty to the supreme leader Khamenei. Currently Basij serve as an auxiliary force engaged in activities such as internal security as well law enforcement auxiliary, the providing of social service, organizing of public religious ceremonies, and more controversially morals policing and the suppression of dissident gatherings. They have a local organization in almost every city in Iran.
And just a little bit more about their 'principles." Kind of Moveon.dot.Islam, with a spritzer of messiah chic.
What do you think? By which I mean, more specifically, What do you think?
I'll tell you only one thing I think. I'm sick of pundits suggesting that townhall confrontations might be counterproductive. I think the more we can turn up the heat on these ruthless, unscrupulous bastards, the more they're going to squeal like the pigs of Animal Farm (from war to healthcare bill, 56:40 to 1:03:10) and the more harm they're going to do themselves in public opinion and, ultimately, elections. But I'm waiting for you to tell me why.
P.S. InstaPunk commenters! You have two new sites where you can talk to your heart's content: The Shuteye Nation Underverse and Into the Metalkort. We're also now able to license you as approved bloggers at both sites. Get busy. Contact ShuteyeNation@gmail.com and Metalkort@gmail.com for absolute freedom in talking about, respectively, Sc-Fi and the compleat American experience. Don't disappoint me.