Tuesday, August 23, 2005

9/11 and other victories for violence

Call me a masochist, but last night I put myself through four hours of hell. I'm speaking of the National Geographic channel's take on "Inside 9/11". I have long advocated that the networks ought to re-run the footage every night, the way Ted Koppel kept score during the Iranian hostage event. We should not forget the events of that morning, and God help us, we have already begun to do so. The movie versions are coming to the big screen near you. There was enough outrage pouring out of the small screen last night. I don't need Oliver Stone and Nicholas Cage to tell me what I saw that day. The screams and tears of my nurse [I was in the hospital; don't we all remember where we were?] and the pain when I tore my IVs out and leaped from the bed are still fresh in my memory. The folks over at National Geographic earn high praise; their program was dispassionate, and informative. They didn't sensationalize, and there was no obvious agenda driving their reportage. For all of that, reliving the horror on a timeline was an occasion for much cursing and crying in the Possum Den.

So, I wake this morning, and see the last of the Israeli clean-up on The West Bank. They, too, earn kudos for conducting their operations in a civilized and restrained manner. However, and here's where the other shoe drops, have they done the right thing? Even before the remnants of the Gaza and West Bank settlers were cleared out, dedicated members of Hamas were marching towards one of the settlements, declaring their undying enmity for Israel and America, and maneuvering to get within rifle range of the settlement. I made a joke about it, but it ain't funny.

Will any amount of appeasement, equivocation, and unilateral surrender matter to those who belong to the death cult of Islam? America has her own death cultists; the abortionists and the euthanasia advocates are in the forefront. Is a reward for death the right path? Is it right to acknowledge homicide bombing, crashing airplanes into buildings, or any other form of "martyrdom"? I sit here in my dotage, wondering how this will all end, and come up with gloomy scenarios about the deployment of thermonuclear weapons within ten years. The ruthlessness of the death cultists is not going to be appeased by "cooperation" on some imaginary "roadmap to peace". This is going to get uglier than anyone wants to imagine.

Monday, August 15, 2005

"Victory for Violence" parade ends prematurely

An Israeli soldier bids farewell to departing Hamas marchers in Gaza.
(Gaza, Israel—UPI) As hundreds of Jewish citizens protested their government-mandated removal from settlements in the Gaza Strip, a group of dedicated Hamas militants attempted to stage a premature Victory for Violence parade today. They were politely informed by Palestinian Security Police that their parade permit is not valid until Wednesday, and they would have to wait until then to make their proclamations of undying enmity and death to Israel and America. When the masked leader of the militants balked at having his parade rained upon, the Palestinian police commander, Abad Mofo, reminded him that hundreds of Israeli army troops were on hand in the settlements.

Employing a clever analogy to American Western movies, Mr. Mofo explained that the Zionists considered themselves pioneers, and Palestinians are considered to be the hostile aborigines. The Israeli troops, Mr. Mofo continued, are the cavalry. As in the Wild West of the United States, the cavalry is there to maintain relative peace, no matter who starts the trouble. Mr. Mofo concluded his explanation by reminding the Hamas leader of the particular enthusiasm displayed by the American cavalry in quelling disturbances caused by hostile aborigines.

The parade quickly dispersed. As the disappointed celebrants departed the area, they were offered parting gestures of farewell from watchful Israeli troops.
- © 2005 United Possums International -

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Entertainment Quagmire?

There is so much news, and so little time! When the issues begin to press in with their urgency, and the “common taters” sound ever more strident, I do what any right-thinking American does: I change the channel, and go looking for something divertingly entertaining.

Comes now Steven Bochco, Hollyweird producer extraordinaire. Mr. Bochco has given us some outstanding television series in the past, most notably, in my humble opinion, “Hill Street Blues”. That was the first TV show I could remember where cops were portrayed as people, and not superheroes. As human beings, the cops of Bochco’s world were subject to the failings and weaknesses that plague us all. His preoccupation with mere mortals facing challenges both mundane and defining was riveting, coming at the end of the age of “Starsky & Hutch” and other bulletproof clichés. I had little time for TV in those days, but I made time for “Hill Street”. The pilot episode, where officers Hill and Renko were gunned down in a freakish encounter with junkies, is a classic cliffhanger. “Hill Street” went on to perfect the “arcing story line”, where the plot carries over from one episode to the next.

Now Mr. Bochco is embarked on an ambitious new project: a television series about the war in Iraq, simply titled “Over There”. Think “Hill Street Blues” meets “Combat!” That was my initial impression, and it still holds past the second episode. Like “Hill Street” and the more recent “NYPD Blue”, “Over There” features plots that are “ripped from the headlines”. Like “Combat!” and “Tour of Duty” [a failed Vietnam ripoff], it purports to deal with the individual soldier’s reactions to situations unique to the war du jour. Like “Hill Street”, the show is an ensemble piece of mostly-unknown—at least to me—actors. The language is salty, and the violence is graphic, but not gratuitous. Bad things happen, but they happen in context, and for a reason.

Last night's episode was better than the first. A tense little vignette about roadblock duty in the middle of nowhere, with no backup, it raised some interesting issues and posed some problems that are unique to the situation in Iraq. (Some of it centered on the troopers' reactions to shooting up cars that came speeding at them in the darkness with no lights. The second time it happened, they hesitated, then lit up the car anyhow. A little girl was head-shot in the back seat when the troops approached cautiously. Much horror, screaming, and cussing. Without giving spoilers, nothing was what it seemed by the end of the hour. The story line “arcs” into next week.)

It looks like Bochco is trying to put a face, however generic, on our troops. In a time when our people look suspiciously like Imperial storm troopers out of "Star Wars" with all their gear, this is a laudable thing that's being attempted. The composition of “the squad” is as diverse as anything from a War II movie, with gender being the new ace-in-the-hole, and if the book of Ecclesiastes is true, there’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to the dilemmas of situations back home when one is “over there”, wherever that might be.

I have to admit it; I’m hooked. Like the real war, I want to see what happens next. I want to see if the trooper who lost his leg to a roadside mine gets to rejoin his squad. (“Hey, a Marine did it!”) I want to see the reckoning between the college guy and his wife, who is shown having her pleasure with “Jodie” when his e-mail from the front is beeping for her attention on the home PC. I want to know where or how “Double Wide” got her nickname.

I started watching this because Mr. Bochco said in an interview that he has no political agenda. Thus far, he seems to be an artist solely interested in the human side of the contemporary situation he is attempting to portray. The credits suggest that this is a family affair, too.

What gives me pause is that we have been in Iraq long enough for Hollyweird to grind out a TV series about the war. I’m not a defeatist; I want us to Charlie Mike [Continue Mission] until Iraq is a free country, able to determine their own destiny. I’m glad Mr. Bush rejects any “let’s quit now” proposals by Those People.

“Combat!” came almost twenty years after the fact. So did “Tour of Duty”. The first wave of Vietnam flicks to hit the screen were also years after Saigon fell; “Apocalypse Now” was a resounding failure when it first hit theater screens in the mid-‘70s. Now, with imbedded reporters with cell phones, the pervasive influence of the Internet and immediate information, and 24/7 news channels, we have a TV series about a war that hasn’t reached a conclusion yet. The fact that this program doesn’t reflect Walter Cronkite’s defeatism yet is astounding; aside from any artistic accomplishment, Steven Bochco and his family, and producer/writer/director Chris Geralmo, deserve praise for this.

“Over There” can be seen on the FX channel every Wednesday at 2200; that’s 10:00 EDT for you civilians. There are repeats throughout the evening. Put the kids to bed first; this is not a show for children. The language and situations are salty and realistic. That being said, I like it.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Apologia #1

I owe an apology to Bob Beckel, popularly billed as a "Democratic strategist."

In my most recent rant about Obstructionists and the NY Times going after the Roberts children, I used Mr. Beckel as a prime example of the kind of political hack who will attempt to explain away any vicious folly of his political persuasion.

I was wrong. Mr. Beckel publicly denounced his party, and their official publication, the "Gray Lady" NY Times, for messing with the Roberts children. It is the private business of the Roberts family to deal with the subtleties of adoption, and how to explain that to the kids, if explanation is needed. While I still consider Mr. Beckel to be a political hack, I'd like to buy him a beer and apologize for my assumption that he is a slave to his party line. We might burn down the bar with disagreement over ideology, but that is the essence of civil discourse. I was wrong to assume that he would reactively defend Those People for their irrelevant attack on Judge Roberts' children.

You'll never see this modest blog, or visit any part of Georgia besides Atlanta, Mr. Beckel. Nevertheless, I apologize, and the next round is on me.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Leave them kids alone!

I'm an adopted child. Big deal. It means I don't share DNA with the rest of my family. That family has a long and proud history in America, and I thank God every day that I am a part of it.

Adoption is about the second-most intimate thing in the life, structure, and values of a family. Outside of the knowledge of the parents, and the sealed records of the legal procedure of adoption, it's nobody's damn business about the origin of the child. A life was created, it has a value assigned by both God and man, and it is permitted to go forth and flourish as it sees fit.

I had two loving parents. They weren't my "birth parents" who made the DNA milkshake, but they were kind, patient folks who did their best to raise me into a functional human-type being. Their love for me was as unconditional as if they'd done the sweaty, painful process of bringing my life forth.

I never pursued the identity of my "birth parents" beyond ascertaining that by the time I was adopted at three days of age, they were both deceased. The intimacy of adoption was an issue that consumed my parents' attention far more than mine. They loved me, and as a newborn I could've been tossed into a dumpster, as today's values dictate as the solution for unwanted children.

This all comes to mind today, as the New York Times, the official party publication of the Obstructionists, seeks to unseal the records of the adoption of one or both of the Roberts children. Those People are reaching a new low in behavior. Judge Roberts, nominated for a postion on the Supreme Court of the United States, is subject to examination of his curriculum vitae as a jurist. In their lust to oppose anything President Bush might want to do, the Obstructionists are looking for...what, exactly? Judge Roberts is a "safe" nominee for the high court; he's a precursor for the walk-down gunfight that will break out when Chief Justice Rhenquist retires, as he surely must.

The fact of my adoption caused me far less emotional trauma than my parents' conflict over telling me the truth of my origin. My concern here is for the Roberts children. They are doubtless the objects of the same unconditional love that my adoptive parents lavished upon me. That these children will be made to suffer because of some misguided political partisanship is unforgivable. While there are experts like Bob Beckel, Susan Estrogen, and countless others who are all too willing to explain away the behavior of Those People, can they wax honest for a moment and explain the relevance between the adoption procedure and Judge Roberts' qualifications for SCOTUS? I thought not.

Quoting the shout from Pink Floyd's "The Wall": "Hey, mister, leave them kids alone!"

Attack Judge Roberts on his record as a jurist all you want. It'll take the American people five minutes more to figure out the Obstructionist agenda, but at least it's coloring between the lines. Involving the gentleman's children, and what they may or may not know, is beyond the pale.