No Training, No Inclination: Dr. Strangelove Exposes Obama

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Sometimes life’s moments dovetail in an unexpected coincidence that you couldn’t script even if you tried. I experienced such a moment the other night in the wake of the president’s brief words on Libya, designed to double as a lead-in to Dancing with the Stars.

As expected, said Libya-words/Dancing-intro made little impact on the universe, apart from, I would imagine, inspiring the slobbering lapdog media minions who consistently herald anything this president says as the greatest speech ever made by the greatest human in the history of humans…blah, blah, blah. (This would include, I will presume, the lapdogs this administration locks in closets to prevent objective reporting, which has allegedly happened more than once, the incarcerated lapdogs in question claiming it was a-okay with them).

Well, immediately following Obama’s latest attempt to appear hawkish to those anxiously awaiting a dance competition show, my son popped 1964’s Dr. Strangelove in the DVD player for an essay he was writing for school.  For those unfamiliar, with the talents of, among others, George C. Scott and Peter Sellars, this satirical treatise on the Cold War paints both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. as foolish countries narcissistically bent on destroying each other, and, in the process, the world.

I wasn’t paying much attention to the film until I was called to it by a rant from American General Jack D. Ripper (such a clever, subtle name for the man who ultimately drops the bomb on the Soviets). “…today, war is too important to be left to politicians,” says the General.  “They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought.”

Brilliant, I’d say, especially from a film meant as a satirical indictment of the United States military — the same United States military, mind you, that less than 20 years before this movie was made brought an end to Hitler’s final solution, as well as to Hitler himself, but Hollywood has never been known for a firm grasp of history, or morality.

No longer relevant is what General Ripper’s rant meant back in the 60s. His words find new meaning today in a post-9/11 America, a meaning far more dangerous, far more damaging than anything some avant garde film makers may have fancied back in 1964.  Coming as this rant did for me personally on the heels of a speech made by an inexperienced, incompetent, anti-military career politician perfectly embodying General Ripper’s description of such a player, it is downright frightening to watch this politician using our military like little toy soldiers for his own narcissistic ambitions.  Like I said, we couldn’t script this material or its timing better if we tried.

I would guess that General Ripper’s speechwriter back in 1964, who further “satirized” military commanders with the General telling his men that “…in conclusion, I would like to say that in the two years it has been my privilege to be your commanding officer, I have always expected the best from you, and you have never given me anything less than that…”never dreamed that his words could possibly reflect a clear and unexpected truth beyond the confines of a “revolutionary” film of the 1960s. Indeed who would have guessed that on March 28, 2011, in a dramatic coincidence, those words would serve to illuminate and expose a so-called commander-in-chief commanding the U.S. military without benefit of time, training, strategic thought or fundamental respect for our men and women in uniform in a genuinely, and increasingly, dangerous world. Dangerous times indeed. God help us all.

Patriotism Is in the Details

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In January, 2010, I wrote about my attempts to cancel my subscription to Golf Digest when they decided to feature Tiger Woods and Barack Obama on their cover. The issue in question accosted readers, from said cover to pages and pages inside, with ridiculous images of Obama coaching golfer Woods on the fine art of posing for a camera – an activity in which the current president of the United States has spent far too much time.  While Woods, despite his troubles, is a golfer and would belong in a golf magazine, Obama….not appropriate on so many levels.

Well, I am happy to announce that after a year of my repeated cancellation efforts, Golf Digest has finally cancelled this subscription.  We weren’t even paying for it anymore, the freebee no doubt their acknowledgement of a mistaken decision that I have a feeling cost them quite a few subscribers. But I persisted (and let them know why), just as everyday Americans are persisting all over the country, performing small acts of revolt – the small details — that are fueling the rising tide of patriotism we are seeing everywhere.

Beyond the election results, the Tea Party events and the town-hall meetings that have sent elected officials hiding under rocks over the past two years, we find testament to the fact that Americans do not intend to see their nation go softly into the dark night of the left’s efforts to “transform” this country in the details. A few examples:

  • Record sales of guns and ammunition, resulting in Barack Obama being repeatedly named “gun salesman of the year” (and probably the century).
  • Flash mobs spontaneously erupting at Christmastime, with thousands of people singing undeniably Christian Christmas songs – so many thousands that one mall even had to be closed because of the threat to the building’s foundational structure.
  • Thousands of seniors cancelling their memberships with AARP because of that organization’s support of Obamacare with its blue pills and bureaucratic “death panels” that spell doom for America’s elderly.
  • Enraged parents (myself included) contacting the Disney Channel for repeatedly featuring Michelle “let-them-eat-cake/do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do/for-the-first-time-I’m-proud-of-my-country” Obama and her lectures to the peasants about what and how much to feed our children.
  • Car buyers shying away from companies that are owned by a partnership of the United States government and labor unions.
  • Air travelers happily giving their seats on overbooked flights to men and women in uniform flying home to see their families.

Also pervasive in my own life – and in many other American lives as I have discovered – is the effect the current political climate has had on my choice of the movies I see. I am and always have been a profound lover of movies, back in the day attending once a week or more. All that changed post-9/11 when Hollywood’s true colors emerged as never before. From that time forward, I have found it impossible to see past the virulent anti-American, hypocritical rants of certain Hollywood players, despite their lacking expertise in military strategy, economic theory, historical context, or, I suspect, even high-school diplomas — no matter how great their performances on the silver screen.

Show me a trailer featuring one of these nimrods, and my kids roll their eyes, waiting for my own rant to begin, knowing that here is yet another film to be stricken from the list of those for which I would be willing to shell out cash to see. Ignorance being bliss, I carefully guard the names of those performers I love who have not yet to my knowledge spouted off about how our nation should be run into the ground.

What fuels my optimism is knowing I am not alone in my own small acts of revolt, and I encourage those who believe in this country to keep up the good work. Make decisions for the future of our nation, and let those who stand to profit or lose from those decisions know about it. God is in the details, and so is patriotism and the salvation of our country.

Oscar’s Miracle

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March 8, 2010 | Comments

So I sit out the Oscars last night, and an actual, bonafide miracle occurs after so many years of Hollywood’s wandering the liberal desert. Contrary to the buzz following Avatar and everyone associated with it (including Director nominee James Cameron), into that glittering awards celebration, the Oscar for Best Director went to Cameron’s ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow, for the war epic The Hurt Locker.

Though this upset alone would seem a miracle, the true miracle occurred when Ms. Bigelow included our troops in Iran and Afghanistan in her acceptance speech! At the Oscars! Brazenly and unabashedly in front of all the Hollywood elite assembled there.

While some in that building last night might have seen the military accolades that followed that win as a sign of the apocalypse, others, particularly the closeted Hollywood conservatives in attendance (and me — not in attendance), would regard it more as a miracle — or simply the desire on the part of the voters to avoid another “king of the world” speech from favorite Cameron.

Either way, brava Kathryn! And thanks for remembering the men and women and their families back home who dedicate their lives to protecting us, our children, and our beautiful country each and every day. Maybe I’ll give the Oscars another try next year….

Betsy Siino | Comments

Missing the Oscars

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March 7, 2010 | Comments

I do miss the Oscars.  And tonight, I am missing them literally — not watching, not paying attention.

It wasn’t always this way. Back in the day, I was a rabid movie lover with an endless list of favorites. I cut my teeth on Gone with the Wind, The Godfather, To Kill a Mockingbird, Streetcar Named Desire, West Side Story, anything Rogers and Hammerstein, and everything Disney. And I never missed the Oscars.

Once I was out on my own, the little “movie club” my friends and I organized would happily await that magical moment after work when we would purchase our tickets for our weekly “meetings” that introduced us to the likes of Schindler’s List, The English Patient, The Verdict, Glengarry Glen Ross, everything from Britain, and anything intriguing and obscure. Afterwards we would discuss the night’s film passionately – what worked, what didn’t – then just as fervently debate our Oscar-night picks.

But in the post-9/11 world, just as plot and character in films were being obliterated by computer generation, the Hollywood elite decided it was their duty not to entertain, but to bash America and scold us for our misbehavior. My viewing habits thus now trend toward kid fare and classic series (Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Pirates, the new Star Trek), with a Sweeney Todd, Blind Side and romantic comedy (The Proposal, The Wedding Date, Four Christmases) thrown in here and there. The rest, well, I just can’t see beyond the characters most actors portray, thanks to their hypocritical, “America-is-bad” preaching off screen.

The same applies to Oscar night. Back in the day, those of us who made the Oscars a major media event would anticipate the inevitable, usually laughable, political showboating. But now it’s no longer laughable, with Michael Moore’s standing ovation and his proclamation that the threat of terrorism is a hoax; Al Gore revered for a film he made about a hoax; Hollywood standing yet again to honor absent fugitive winner/rapist Roman Polanski (apparently none of these Hollywood types have daughters); and, with the exception of Avatar and the annual obligatory nod to George Clooney, a roster of nominees unknown to the movie-loving, movie-going populace.

Needless to say, the Oscar’s ratings have plummeted. And needless to say, I have seen almost nothing nominated this year. I adore scheduled host Steve Martin, and I’m sure he and his partner-host Alec Baldwin are being hilarious even as I write this, but still, not interested.

So, yes, a sad night tonight as I think of Oscar nights passed. Tomorrow I’ll look over the list of winners, and even if I see a surprise or two, I’ll know what I’m missing is the way it used to be.

Betsy Siino | Comments

Harry’s Back

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July 16, 2009 | Comments

Last night my son and I attended an opening-night screening of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth installment of the legendary series much beloved by our family and just about every other family we know. We wanted to see it before all those other families started talking about it.

Now from the perspective of the morning after, I can’t stop thinking about what I saw last night – the true sign that a film has gotten under my skin. I’m sorry to say I didn’t feel this way after the previous installment — Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix — (the film, not the book, of course). That time around the film makers sacrificed worthy in-depth attention to the fascinating new adult characters brought into the fold for an increased focus on the kids’ silly crushes and flirtations. How lovely that this time around they have acknowledged my disappointment and gotten everyone back on track.

With Half-Blood Prince, the film makers knew just where and how to focus the lens, capturing the perfect tenor of dark beauty and foreboding in preparation for the devastating events that we who love this story know are waiting up ahead in installment seven. The actors do all they can to take us there, as well. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) remain perfectly focused throughout, isolating themselves somewhat from their fellow students, as they take the swords that have been thrust into their hands for the singular, diametrically opposed, missions they must undertake. Even our beloved Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), his hand mysteriously burned and damaged, sheds his customary levity, when he warns the students he welcomes back for the new school year that “every day, every hour, this very minute, perhaps, dark forces attempt to penetrate this castle’s walls.”

Because I am how I am, I can’t help but make the connections and reflexively assume that somehow Dumbledore is also speaking to us beyond the darkness of that theater. I can’t help but imagine that Harry’s singular purpose mirrors the challenges that are facing those of us who happen to believe that in our own magical time, every day, every hour, dark forces are attempting to penetrate the walls of our castle, as well.

Back when the fifth Harry Potter book – Order of the Phoenix – was released, my idealistic young son was one of the millions of kids who grabbed the book still warm from the presses and devoured every word. As he neared the end he suddenly slammed it shut and threw it on the kitchen table, proclaiming he hated Harry Potter, he hated this book, he hated all the books, and he would never read them again. As Harry fans have no doubt guessed, he had reached the sad and shocking moment in that book when we lost someone near and dear, and he was not going to stand for it.

Recognizing the need for immediate intervention to ensure my son would not indeed abandon Harry, whose destiny was still two books away, I asked my own near and dear what he thought these fictional events and his very genuine reaction to them might mean. Think about what this story is, I said. Fundamentally what is it about? As each book was becoming progressively darker, more dangerous and complex, together we determined that when all was said and done, it would culminate in the ultimate battle between good and evil. And, unfortunately, I told him, I think we have to assume that these characters, these people we have grown to love so much…well, not all of them are going to survive the battle. But they would be fighting the good fight, so they would not die in vain. My son understood. He picked up the book, and he kept reading. So did I. And when I read it, I can readily think of my country’s own good fights and her own good people who have never hesitated to answer her call.

Whether found in personal musings on citizens and country, or within the pages of a well-loved book, the message of good and evil resonates, because yes, both do exist in our world, and there is no shame in acknowledging that. In fact, there is safety and security in acknowledging it.  Those of us who love Harry’s story view it as a series meant to be read, re-read and read again. I am now plowing through the books again, this time with my young daughter, knowing that very soon we will be arriving at that same shocking moment of devastating loss in book five.  We will soon thus be having that same talk I had with her brother not all that long ago, that same exploration of good and evil, courage and sacrifice, pain and loss. And she will understand just as her brother did, for it is in our DNA to understand. And it is in our DNA to be forever grateful to those who keep us safe from the dark forces we hear at this very minute rumbling outside our castle walls.

Betsy Siino | Comments