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People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Friday, February 08, 2008

A Look Back Into Our Past

If you ever have the opportunity to peruse "greatest movies of all time" lists, you'll usually find included the 1915 D.W. Griffith epic, "The Birth of a Nation." Problem is, because of its overt racism (behavior that was cultivated a century ago), you'll never find it being televised on Turner Classic Movies. Or anywhere else. Station heads don't have a death wish.

So we're faced with a situation in 2008 where a movie is considered by the experts to be one of the greatest of all time, and few people alive today have seen it.

One exception being me.

I ordered the movie from Netflix the other day and sat down to watch it yesterday evening.

All I can say is ... wow.

For a number of reasons. Not least of which had to do with the fact that the Ku Klux Klan was once held in such high regard by mainstream America that a blockbuster movie (by all standards, this one was a smash hit when it was released) glorifying efforts - manifested in physical assaults, lynchings, and terror tactics that an Osama bin Ladin could appreciate today - to suppress the then-newfound freedoms of the African-American community after the Civil War ended and Reconstruction began could be so blatant in its hatreds, animosities, stereotypes, and venomous prejudices and be so well received.

The movie having been made in 1915, there is no verbal dialogue. As was the practice in the days of silent movies, there are only the occasional slides offering up narrative between sometimes over-the-top melodramatic scenes of love and war (the innovative sweeping panoramic battle scenes provide critics the primary reason for considering this movie one of the best of all time) and suffering and hatred and fear and all the other stuff that goes into an epic flick.

Absent dialogue, one is confronted with captions that read:

The result. The Ku Klux Klan, the organization that saved the South from the anarchy of black rule, but not without the shedding of more blood than at Gettysburg.

And:

We shall crush the white South under the heel of the black South.

And, at the end:

"Liberty and union, one and inseparable, now and forever!"

Union. The Birth of a Nation. That nation being a Klan-protected white America. Now and forever

All I could think about, as I watched this (3-hour) classic was: Man, we've come a long way. And thank God for it.

- - -

Special note: the theme is really repugnant so if you're angered or revolted by such things, I'd not recommend that you rent the movie. For the historian, though, it provides a window into our post-Civil War past that you'll not see captured anywhere else in cinema.

For the curious - like me - who wonder how it is that the Klan could have had such a following as to bring about a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. in the Griffith years that was attended by tens of thousands of celebrating participants and on-lookers ...

... it all becomes clear.

Photo lifted from Wikipedia.

Movie poster courtesy of filmsite.org.

I Say Bob Dole; You Say John Kerry

So what does the McCain nomination represent? Here's a view unlike the one I've often expressed:

McCain: The John Kerry of '08
By Terry Michael, writing in the Washington Times


The deal wasn't completely sealed on Super Tuesday, but the Republican Party seems suicidally set on nominating its own John Kerry in 2008, further depressing a despondent base, while offering little to the center on the defining issues of this election, ending the war and reviving the economy.

In early January 2004, I ran into a reporter friend and lamented, as a partisan Democrat, that we were about to nominate the worst possible candidate for president, a have-it-every-way legislator who supported the war in Iraq.

"Oh no," my journalist friend protested. "He's got Vietnam War hero credentials, and foreign policy experience." It was a perfect reflection of received wisdom shared by the Democratic political establishment, which looked in the mirror and saw Mr. Kerry, and a capital-based press corps, living near and quoting the usual suspects. (link)


War hero. Media darling. Washington establishment positions on the issues. No support from the base.

Bob Dole. John Kerry. John McCain. Peas in a pod.

But Weren't The Democrats To Be Different?

That would be a big no:
House Democrats refuse to ban pork
By S.A. Miller, The Washington Times


House Democrats yesterday rejected a Republican bid to halt pork-barrel spending and set up a panel to write more earmark reform measures.

Democrats blocked the measure in a 204-196 vote that split closely along party lines, prompting Republican charges that Democrats are soft on reforming earmarks, the process by which members slip pet projects into spending bills.

"House Republicans are deeply disappointed the speaker [Nancy Pelosi of California] and her Democratic colleagues have refused to join us in supporting an immediate moratorium on all earmarks," said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican. "Wasteful pork-barrel earmarks have become a symbol of a broken Washington." (link)
Remarkable thing about this: Earmarks are indeed "a symbol of a broken Washington" and the Democrats could give a flip.

The more things "change" ...

On McCain's Ascendency:

I agree with Michelle Malkin:
Some on the right advise their readers and listeners to vote Democrat or sit home. My advice is exactly the opposite: Get off the couch and walk the walk for conservative candidates and officeholders who need all the help they can get defending free markets, free minds and secure borders - no matter who takes the White House in November.

Dissatisfied with the flawed crop of GOP candidates who lacked the energy, organizational skills and ideological strength to carry the conservative banner and ignite your passions? Then pay attention to the next generation of Republican state legislators who do vote consistently to lower your taxes, uphold the sanctity of life, defend marriage and cut government spending. Support their re-election bids. Reward them for standing with you, instead of their Democrat opponents and the liberal media.
Except for the mammoth education bill and a budget-busting prescription drug entitlement, we were able to battle the Bush administration - with its liberal tendencies - to a draw. We'll do the same whether it's Hillary or McCain dreaming up new ways to grow Washington.

Life will go on.

'A Broken Clock Is Accurate Twice a Day' ...

... and New York Times "economist" Paul Krugman's prediction - the same one he's been making since George W. Bush was elected in 2000 - may finally be coming true. Krugman, for the umpteenth time: Run for your lives. We're headed into recession:

A Long Story
By Paul Krugman


The economic news has been fairly dire this week. The credit crunch is getting worse, and a widely watched indicator of trends in the service sector — which is most of the economy — has fallen off a cliff. It’s still not a certainty that we’re headed into recession, but the odds are growing greater.

And if past experience is any guide, the troubles will persist for a long time — say, into the middle of 2010.

The problems now facing the U.S. economy look a lot like the problems that caused the last two recessions — but this time ... [blah blah blah] (link)
Like a broken record.

The thing is, he may finally be right. After predicting economic ruin (that never came to pass) for years.

I can see the upcoming headline: "See, I told you so."

Such the expert.

Well, Now What?

Another great idea shot to hell:
Studies Deem Biofuels a Greenhouse Threat
By Elisabeth Rosenthal, The New York Times


Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these “green” fuels are taken into account, two studies being published Thursday have concluded.

The benefits of biofuels have come under increasing attack in recent months, as scientists took a closer look at the global environmental cost of their production. These latest studies, published in the prestigious journal Science, are likely to add to the controversy. (link)
Back to the drawing board.

We Write Ourselves a Check

Congress Votes for a Stimulus of $168 Billion

Galloping Toward The Abyss

I'm not sure how we got ourselves in this position:
With the economy slowing and a now-legitimate possibility of a recession, you would hope that at least one of the GOP’s remaining viable candidates might have a credible platform for addressing the challenges. It appears not. (Both Democratic candidates appear so determined to raise taxes and implement nationalized health care that their claims for having any genuine ideas for improving the economy cannot be taken seriously).
Tom Blumer, "It's The Economy, Stupid - and the GOP Hasn't a Clue," PJM, February 7, 2008

When You Believe In Nothing ...

... you're willing to accommodate anything. Including the most barbaric code of justice on the planet.

Unfortunately, this old fool should know better:

Church backlash as Archbishop of Canterbury calls for Sharia law in Britain
"This Is London," The Evening Standard

The Archbishop of Canterbury's claim that it seems "unavoidable" that some form of Sharia law will be introduced in Britain today came under attack from his own senior clergy.

Dr. [Rowan] Williams faced a barrage of criticism for arguing that sharia law should be given some form of legal status in the UK.

The Archbishop of Canterbury caused consternation yesterday when he called for Islamic law to be recognised in Britain.

He declared that Sharia and Parliamentary law should be given equal legal status so the people could choose which governs their lives.

This raised the prospect of Islamic courts in Britain with full legal powers to approve polygamous marriages, grant easy divorce for men and prevent finance firms from charging interest. (link)
Not to mention beheadings, public beatings, 9th century standards regarding interaction between men and women, ... on and on.

It's sad that British society has degenerated to this level.

- - -

It's worth noting, by the way, that former Prime Minister Tony Blair recently abandoned Archbishop Bumblebutt's Anglican brethren and converted to Catholicism. Speaks volumes.

Too Bad

McCain All but Clinches; Romney Departs

The Man Has No Class

Mitt Romney graciously bows out of the race. Obama kicks him on the way out. What a guy:
Obama On Romney: An "Ineffective Candidate"
The Hotline

Omaha, NE -- Barack Obama called Mitt Romney's candidacy "ineffective" on the day that the former MA governor exited the presidential race.

Romney, who dropped out of the race for president today in Washington, said in his exit speech that the GOP must unify and not allow Democrats to allow the country to "surrender to terror."

"Well my reaction to Mitt Romney's comment that's the kind of poorly thought out comment that lead him to drop out," Obama said during a press avail on his campaign plane. "It's a classic attempt to appeal to people's fears that will not work in this campaign. I think that's part of the reason he was such an ineffective candidate." (link)
It's well known that John McCain can't stand the sight of Mitt Romney, but even McCain was kind to his opponent in the latter's moment of defeat. Obama instead trashes the man.

Mr. Sunshine often professes his faith and talks a great talk about hope. It would do Obama well to take some classes on charity.