Gut Check Obamacans

So I was on the Laura Ingraham Radio Program this morning.

I’ve called two national radio shows in my life – the Laura Ingraham Show and the Michael Medved Show. Both times, I got through on my first try, and I was on the air within minutes. This morning, I was on the air about 30 seconds after my call. What’s that about? (The screener was insistent that I not wish Laura a “good morning,” presumably because the show is rebroadcast in the afternoon, and they want people to still think it’s on live. Suckers.)

Anyway, some guy had just gone on about why he was a Republican supporting Obama. He was less than convincing, but Laura asked if there were any other “Obamacans” out there. I realized, when she said that, that I was a budding Obamacan, but for reasons wholly unrelated to what the guy before had said. So, on a whim, I called when she gave out the number, and thirty seconds later, I was on the air.

“Let’s go to Jim in Salt Lake City,” she said. “Jim, are you an Obamacan?”

“Good morning!” I said back. “Lovely morning, isn’t it? The sun is shining bright, the birds are chirping…”

Oops. I didn’t say that. But wouldn’t it be cool if I had? No, what I said was “not really,” but that McCain freaked me out. I cited the 1964 presidential election, where Goldwater opponents played off the Goldwater slogan “In your heart, you know he’s right” with the counterslogan “In your gut, you know he’s nuts.” I said that in my gut, McCain scares the crap out of me. (I wonder if it’s a problem that I said “crap” on national radio.) I told her I was pretty much a Republican party hack, but Obama, in my gut, doesn’t scare me because he’s a decent human being. She didn’t really push back on that, and then she hung up on me as I continued talking. I didn’t realize it until I asked a question, and she didn’t answer back. Who’s the sucker now?

I don’t know if the GOP realizes how terrified they ought to be that I, who have worked for Republicans in Washington and in Utah, who is about as blinkered a partisan as they come, who teaches my young children to boo whenever Hillary Clinton’s name is mentioned, am considering voting for a Democrat for president. I knew, back in 2006, that the Republicans were doomed when I stopped caring about the election results. If I, Mr. Hack, had stopped caring, then what about the normal people who don’t have National Review Online and Lucianne.com bookmarked and constantly refreshed throughout the day? If the Republicans lose me, they’ve pretty much lost everybody.

I’ve heard it said that ordinary people vote from the gut, but I’ve never had that experience. I wasn’t thrilled about George Bush I or Bob Dole, but I dutifully cast my ballot for them. I was more excited about George W., but the vote required no “gut check” on my part. We have a reasonable and decent Democrat as our congressman, but I’ve consistently voted for his Republican opponent out of party loyalty, and the fact that in the House of Representatives, it’s numbers that matter, not people.

But this time, I’m getting gut signals that I’m having a hard time ignoring. In my gut, I know McCain is nuts. And Barack ought to scare me – his proposals are loony, he’ll appoint Lefties to the courts – but he doesn’t scare me as much as McCain does. In fact, he doesn’t scare me at all, which sort of scares me. (Hillary, by the way, scares the bejeebers out of me. She’s history, though.)

People cite Barack’s vapid slogans and his lack of experience in order to induce a gut reaction, but it doesn’t work on me. I’m not transfixed by his speeches, but they’re no emptier than the sloganeering of candidates from either party. Plus, they’re primarily positive, unlike Hillary’s banshee laments. And ironically, his lack of experience is somehow reassuring. It means that in the office, he’ll have room to learn and grow, to question some of his liberal assumptions, and that maybe, just maybe, he’ll end up surprising us by doing the right thing.

This is not a persuasive intellectual argument. There is no indication that Obama is a closet conservative and every indication that he is not. But my gut says he’s probably the best choice in November. And this time, there’s no persuasive argument to counter the gut check – there are plenty of reasons why McCain would be a disaster.

Maybe the problem is that I have a more sizeable gut than I’d like.

Buckley and Conservatism

One of the greatest, if not the greatest, conservative thinkers of our time has passed away today at the age of 82 – William F. Buckley, founder of National Review.

I wish I could say that Mr. Buckley had had a direct impact on my thinking, but I’ve read precious little of what he’s written. What I do know is that he’s had a tremendous impact on the thinking of many people I admire, including Ronald Reagan and the leaders of the modern conservative movement. Buckley is credited with giving shape and heft to conservativism as a comprehensive ideology, and to my knowledge, nobody else is even trying to do the same thing today. Indeed, that’s probably why the Republican Party has nominated someone so antithetical to conservative principles.

Buckley started the movement, but now there’s no one ready to carry the baton forward.

In a conversation with my Harvard-educated brother-in-law, he pointed out that conservatism as an ideology has essentially stalled, and that every Republican running for president was “just trying to win one more for the Gipper.” (I should point out that Buckley once famously remarked that he would “rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.” That doesn’t apply to my brother-in-law, though, because his name is way down the alphabet and wouldn’t be anywhere near the first 400 names in the phone book.)

I find the lack of conservative thought depressing, as did Buckley, who had precious praise for the current administration, especially when it came to the war in Iraq. There isn’t a single person running for office in either party who truly believes that government should be significantly smaller than it is today. Statism is the default position of both parties, and everyone seems to think we should be more like Europe, which is a continent in decay. The European Union’s productivity and birthrate are dwindling to almost nothing, and the vast welfare states have created crippling unemployment and unsustainable demands on the economy. And yet we now have Barack Obama calling for a “green army” that’s going to cost us an extra 210 billion per year to enact similar socialistic nonsense here in the US. Universal health care and universal pre-K and universal college tuition – how do we pay for it? How about letting us keep the wealth so we can pay for it ourselves?

As Reagan was fond of saying, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have.”

Who’s going to stop this? Where are the conservatives? Are there any left?

Rest in peace, Mr. Buckley. If ever we needed you, we need you now.

Curse You, Guitar Hero III!


I hate Guitar Hero III. Because I can’t stop playing it.

Last night, I was up until 11:30 playing ZZ Top’s “La Grange” on Expert. I’ve completed 42 out of 42 on Easy, 42 out of 42 on Medium, and then topped out at 39 out of 42 on Hard. (I’ve given up on Metallica’s “One” and Slayer’s “Raining Blood.” Yech.)

I completed 21 out of 42 on Expert, but now the songs have gotten really tough. I spent practically six months trying to complete “Rock You Like A Hurricane,” which is really easy for about 70% of it, but the rest is wild and funky solos that are impossible to play accurately, so you let your fingers flail wildly and hope you hit enough notes that you can make it through to the end. Usually, I don’t, but one time, I eked myself across the finish line, and I was thrilled beyond measure.

So instead of turning the dang thing off, I immediately moved on to “La Grange” and proceeded to embarrass myself.

“La Grange” is a repetitive riff for about half the song, but it’s a difficult riff to play, so you don’t build up enough credit to help you survive when the solo gets going. The solo is easier to play than “Rock You Like A Hurricane,” but it’s far, far longer. There’s a brief respite if you can get past the first onslaught, but it’s uphill all the way to the end after that. Every time, it ends in disappointment, with the crowd screaming “You suck!” then my character, a reject from Kiss who wears a Viking helmet, throws the guitar to the ground and stomps on it. I’ve tried using Elroy Budvis, who’s sort of a disco Elvis, and Metal Head, a former nuclear warhead retrofitted to look like Robby the Robot. None of them can play the thing, because I can’t. And all of them end up stomping on the guitar.

I was exhausted last night, and it was everything I could do to rip myself away from the TV and go to bed with ZZ Top running through my dreams.

My twin boys, Corbin and Cornelius, are stuck on the first few Hard songs. They’ve played Foghat’s “Slow Ride” so many times that every time I hear the first few chords of that thing, blood shoots out of my eyes. Since they’ve already completed Medium, they’ve decided to “help” their mother and play her game for her, since she wisely has better things to do than waste her life on Guitar Hero. She played with me for awhile last night, got bored, and then went upstairs to read.

I envied her disinterest.

Missing the Oscars

So I’m in bed next to Mrs. Cornell and I’m flipping channels last night, when I stumble across Daniel Day Lewis winning the Best Actor Academy Award. It was only then that I remembered the Oscars were on. And yet I kept flipping channels and finally settled on watching Chris Noth bust perps in Law and Order:CI. I only returned to see the Coen Brothers win Best Director, and I flipped back to Noth before I had to endure an acceptance speech. That was about it – I missed Best Picture, which didn’t matter, as the only nominated film I had seen was Juno, and it had no chance of winning.

So Oscar night came and went, and I caught about 90 seconds of it.

How did I come to this point?

Early in our marriage, my wife was appalled that I insisted on watching the Oscars every year. That first year, Braveheart won Best Picture, which made me happy, although it would have been fun to have seen Babe win, but that seldom happens, because, as evidenced by the Juno shutout, comedies don’t generally get the Oscar love that serious dramas do. I remember as a kid cheering like crazy when Chariots of Fire pulled an upset and won out over Warren Beatty’s dreary Reds, and I remember the devastation I felt when Star Wars lost out to Annie Hall for Best Picture of 1977. (I’ve since seen Annie Hall, and I still think that was a travesty.)

My parents went to see the Academy Awards live in 1976, and we kids tried to stay up late to see if we could spot them, but we didn’t. We fell asleep before they got to Best Picture. That was the year Rocky won. Long after, I wondered why none of the sequels were nominated until I was old enough to realize they were pretty much crap.

I remember being bugged that The Fly didn’t get anything but technical nominations in 1986. I remember being enraged by Tom Hanks’ win for the mediocre Philadelphia when Anthony Hopkins was slighted for the finest screen performance in history in Remains of the Day. Then I remember cheering for Hanks when his Forrest Gump crushed the execrably overrated Pulp Fiction the following year. I dug it when the pseudo-Oxfordian film Shakespeare in Love beat out Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture, but when I actually saw Saving Private Ryan later, I decided that Spielberg and Co. were robbed. I lamented Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings losses two years in a row – to the vastly inferior films A Beautiful Mind and Chicago – until his Return of the King triumphed in the third year with 12 awards and made up for it.

So how do I get from there to here?

Well, for one thing, I don’t see many movies anymore. It’s fun to watch the Oscars when you’ve got something to root for, but even my love for Juno wasn’t enough to get me interested in watching Hollywood pat themselves on the back for three hours.

Also, as I’ve become more politically astute, I’ve become sensitized to just how reprehensible Hollywood really is. I was grateful to see Daniel Day-Lewis win, because I was dreading a George Clooney victory, despite the fact that I haven’t seen either actor’s movie. I just think George Clooney is an anti-American turd, and the last thing I wanted was for him to have a good night.

Much has been written and said about Hollywood’s penchant for self-congratulation, and much of it is accurate. Performers are a bottomless pit of need, and they crave approval and recognition in ways that less narcissistic folks don’t. But so what? Hollywood, at least in my eyes, used to have a veneer of class and grace that made the whole vapid exercise fun to watch.

That’s pretty much gone now.

Even growing up, I never watched the Emmys or the Grammys or – yick – the Tonys. Award shows were tedious affairs, but somehow the Oscars were different. Maybe it took me this long to realize that they really aren’t different, and that they don’t measure actual achievement so much as elitist fashion, and that the people who make these movies usually have contempt for the people who watch them.

It was really cool, though, the year Marisa Tomei pulled a stunning upset and won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for My Cousin Vinny.

Guest Post from Foodleking

Foodleking wrote this up, and I thought it was worth sharing. I post it here with his permission.

___________________

A hero of mine, a great LDS thinker, and the quintessential Mormon philosopher, brother Truman Madsen spoke as the inaugural guest lecturer at the Mormon Studies department at Claremont College. I have listened to literally hundreds of hours of his voice on tapes, and read several of his books and papers. Brother Richard L. Bushman occupies the Howard W. Hunter Chair at this university, and introduced brother Madsen. I know some did not love brother Bushman’s book on Joseph Smith (Rough Stone Rolling), but I did.

A little back story

My illustrious post-high school academic career began brilliantly at BYU, but ended less brilliantly with night school at a bible college owned by the Assemblies of God faith in Costa Mesa (Vanguard University). However, one very bright spot was that I was finally able to take philosophy courses, which were taught by an Assemblies of God pastor, and had sort of a philosophy-from-a-Christian’s-perspective tint to them. Spending long hours after class discussing LDS doctrines with this challenging and interesting man, I began to see the philosophical underpinnings of our faith, and appreciate its logicality. I gained greater love for the depth of Joseph Smith’s teachings. At the same time, I heard a lecture by brother Madsen on a bootleg tape explaining the LDS worldview, and how we fit in the traditional stratum of philosophical theories (we don’t). Brother Madsen gave nomenclature to what I had been discovering through these discussions with my philosophy professor. Ironically, my testimony deepened greatly by attending this bible college.

Thereafter, I gobbled everything I could get my hands on that was written or spoken by brother Madsen. I attempted, unsuccessfully, to name both of my boys after Truman Madsen. Had we 10 boys, maybe I would have stood a chance, but no such luck. Shortly after I graduated, brother Madsen recorded a series of 8 lectures called “Timeless Questions, Gospel Insights.” This title may sound like an elementary primer on LDS views, but it turned out to be a detailed account of LDS philosophy, and I couldn’t get enough.

So, a few days ago we received the latest copy of “LDS Trumpet” newspaper, and on the front page was an article advertising this lecture by brother Madsen on Thursday night. Having never seen him speak in person, I planned to go. The place was absolutely packed. I mean every seat, every standing space, the entire stage behind him, all space on the riser, the aisles, EVERYWHERE. His hour-long lecture was a condensed version of familiar territory. I was again reminded how LDS theology solves some of the great paradoxes of traditional Christianity, and how Joseph Smith’s revelations are revolutionary, yet logical. Thinking in this way, it makes me literally laugh at the anti-LDS tracts and arguments that constantly gurgle to the surface like sulphur bubbles (“Jesus and Satan are brothers,” etc). They SOOOO miss the mark, and are like using a crayon to trace a Rembrandt. Elements are eternal. Intelligence is uncreate (and freedom is inherent in this). Heaven and earth are not radically different. Spirit and body are not radically different. Time and eternity (or eternities) are not radically different. And God and man are not radically different. These are immense jumps from modern Christian traditions. Even small mis-translations in ancient texts can have profound impacts on doctrine. In Exodus, Moses met God and asked him who He was. God answered “I AM, that I AM.” Brother Madsen contends that many Hebraists (past and current) indicate that the more correct translation is “I shall be that I shall be.” Much ethereal mysticism is removed, and it draws very close to our own revelations and knowledge concerning experience and growth. Likewise, the famous “God is spirit” in John is only found in the KJV translations, and not in earlier texts, which bear out the JST. And in Psalms, “God has made man a little lower than angels” is more correctly translated as “God has made mad a little lower than Elohim [or Gods].” If Moses saw God, then Joseph Smith could have also.

If God is all good, all powerful, and all knowing, how come there is pain and suffering on the earth, even inflicted on innocent children? The answer, of course, is that God is not all powerful. We, like God, are independent beings (or intelligences), and have freedom. And, there is, in reality, no substitute for experience. God cannot save us against our will, and without our gaining experience (as God and Christ did). Like exercising a muscle, there must be pain for growth to occur. And no man or woman can say to Jesus “You don’t understand me,” or “You don’t care about me.” Christ gained all of these through experience (from grace to grace), and was not born with this perfect knowledge and understanding.

I love our logical faith. That is not to say that LDS doctrine is free of its own paradoxes, but they are far deeper than the basic need to understand who we are, who God is, and what our relationship is. Ours is a unique faith. We believe that EVERY soul born has the light of Christ, the spark of divinity, and we believe it so much that we go to the ends of the earth to find every soul, living and dead, to bring them the gospel. Nobody else even attempts or professes to do or believe this. I love the sound of brother Madsen’s voice. It is at once familiar and comforting, like an old song with beautiful memories. It struck me hard at the first words from his mouth tonight. And I am glad there are men like him to speak to our hearts and minds, to defend the faith, and build bridges to others not of our faith.

Just wanted you to know.

Watching McCain Flail

I have nothing of interest to say about the new John McCain scandal, because, frankly, there’s nothing interesting to say. This was totally, totally predictable. Beavis McCain has always had a whiff of corruption following him throughout his career, but the press ignored it because he was the Democrat’s favorite Republican. Now that he’s the nominee and the GOP standard bearer, the kid gloves are off, and he’s going to get pummeled.

And this is just the beginning.

I’m still solidly opposed to voting for John McCain, but I marvel that we got here because stupid Republicans deemed him our most electable candidate. If Obama is the Democratic nominee, and it’s increasingly likely that he will be, then Grandpa Skirt Chaser is going to look increasingly rancid in comparison.

It’ll be Mr. 21st Century JFK vs. Mr. Hey, You Kids! Get Off My Lawn! 

I neither know nor care whether or not he really had an affair with this chick, but I’m confident that he did favors for her based on campaign contributions. That’s what got him in trouble back in the ‘80s, when he and four of his fellow Democrats leaned on the Federal Home Loan Bank Board to stop hassling Charles Keating, who had coincidentally given them an aggregate of 1.3 million in campaign contributions. Then Keating’s savings and loan promptly went belly up, costing taxpayers billions of dollars.

In direct response to the Keating 5, McCain became the champion of Campaign Finance Reform, which gives him an onerous new set of laws to break, which, considering he already broke the old ones, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. McCain is self righteous to a fault, which is staggering when you consider the level of his hypocrisy.

And if there’s one sin the left can’t abide, it’s hypocrisy. Indeed, since they have no morals themselves to speak of, it’s the only sin they recognize.

Those who touted polls showing Romney losing in general elections that were almost a year away insisted that only McCain would be able to win. The same was true of Rudy Giuliani, the inevitable Republican nominee eight months ago who heads in to the Republican Convention having won a single delegate.

You know all this.

This election season, which has been so wildly unpredictable, is now depressingly predictable. It’s 1996 all over again, only without the Republicans holding Congress. Mitt Romney is hoping that it’s really 1976, and he can come roaring back in 1980/2012 as the Republican savior. But Barack Obama is smarter than Jimmy Carter, and Mitt Romney is more Mormon than Ronald Reagan.

And John McCain sounds more like Beavis than Bob Dole ever did.

Free Speech and Consequences

So I got a live one in the comments from yesterday’s post. In the interest of celebrating asininity through mockery, I thought I’d share it with you. The words of the imbecile have been bolded for your protection. 

The anonymous heckler begins thusly:

hey there you free speech phony, yeah right…YOU!!!and pull your pants up!!


Pardon?

you are a hypocrite liar who publicly preaches free speech (except when it is something with which you disagree)but who really hates open discourse.

Nice to know you know what motivates me – my “secret hatred” for open discourse. That’s why I’m letting your comment stay on my blog for all the world to see. It’s all part of the plan, which is presumably being dictated to me by my Zionist masters.  Or the Rothschilds. Or Colonel Sanders before he went t-ts up.

let’s see how stupid you people really are: (rules of the truly stupid souless morons):

When calling someone stupid, wouldn’t a semblance of proper grammar and punctuation add some heft to your case?

1. anyone who might say, “hey, you have a black mark on your {record}{shirt} {soul}” is a racist devil to be destroyed.
If i say “that black mark on your record is one ugly baby” I should have my gonads removed by a team of man hating lesbian trasgendered half elf midgets with a speech impediment
.
Why must you inflict your own strange prejudices on me, since what you say bears no semblance to anything in my preceding post?
Absent the bizarre slurs, Anonymous is actually making my point, which was that Buttars was likely trying to use the word “black” as a synonym for “foul,” much in the same way my troglodyte critic does. Indeed, had Buttars said “that black mark on your record is one ugly baby,” nobody would have noticed. The problem is that he didn’t explain himself and, by being belligerent, made the situation worse, not better. 
Pay attention to which media outlets are pumping up this story. These are the enemies of free speech.

I’m not a huge fan of most media outlets, but taking someone to account for what they say is one of the primary benefits of free speech. Buttars can say anything he likes, and the media is free to call him a racist. Free speech only suffers when one side or the other is forbidden to speak.  

2. Only black people can use the word “lynched”, even if they live in Lynchberg, Tenn. or Lynchberg, Va. And they should be fired if they aren’t black. All whites who are named Lynch must be sent to a concentration camp run by …. you get the idea.

I do. And it’s a stupid idea, one which you won’t find in anything I wrote. My problem was that Buttars’ description of his critics as a “hate lynch mob” was racially incendiary, especially given the interpretation attached to his previous remarks. I’m not calling for Buttars to resign, be disciplined, or “sent to a concentration camp,” or whatever words you want to put into the mouth of the straw man you’re pretending is me. 
I’m just calling it stupid. 
Under the First Amendment, I have that right. Surely someone like you who “publicly preaches free speech” would be just fine with that .  
3. If i say “white lie” I am a racist who must be destroyed, unless I am a homo, woman, oriental, indio, or….anything besides a white male.

If you say so. Nobody else did. And while I’m familiar with most of your slurs, I have no idea what an “indio” is. Perhaps some sort of fragrance…?
This reminds me of the lynching of Don Imus. And that was concocted to discipline the talk show host roster to not speak ill of Hillary.

Glad you brought up Imus, because this is my biggest bugaboo where free speech is concerned. 
I remember back after 9/11, when Bill Maher lost his television show on ABC because he implied that Americans were cowards in comparison to the 9/11 hijackers. That’s really not what he said, and he probably got a bum rap. But Maher defenders insisted that if he lost his show, it would be a grotesque violation of the First Amendment. It was then that I realized just how distorted the debate has become. 
Someone please show me where the First Amendment guarantees a right to a network television show? 
See, I’ve never had my own show on ABC. Ever. And unlike Maher, I’ve never implied that Americans were more cowardly than the hijackers. And I’ve never called anyone a “nappy headed ho” in proper Imus fashion, yet I remain deprived of my own national radio program. A good constitutional lawyer should be able to get me the best timeslot, a host of advertisers, and a zillion dollar syndication deal. 
This is deeply, deeply silly. 
Imus, Maher, and any other blowhard who loses his or her show will do so because of the demands of the open market, not because of governmental prior restraint. To presume otherwise is to be willfully ignorant. The First Amendment only guarantees that you won’t go to jail because of what you say, and that the government can’t stop you from saying it. 
That’s it. 
It doesn’t give you the right to my time, my attention, or my money. It also doesn’t make you immune from criticism, which comes as a surprise to many on the left who are aghast when conservatives fight back. It also comes as a surprise to my anonymous critic, who presumes that Buttars has the right to avoid being excoriated for saying something stupid. Sorry, but the First Amendment belongs to me as much as it belongs to Chris Buttars. 
Seems this current operation is designed to derail buttars efforts (may god bless him) to stop the deviant marriage registry in slc.

Even in death, Colonel Sanders is a very busy man. 

Skiing, Guitar Hero, Chris Buttars

Sorry for the lack blogging this weekend. On Monday, the Cornell Family was busy tearing up the slopes at Brighton Ski Resort, and yours truly demonstrated that he is the living embodiment of Darwinian natural selection. Four of my five children are probably better skiers than I am, and two of them are six years old. It’s deeply depressing.

I am now, however, better than they are when it comes to Guitar Hero III, though, due to my wasting an inordinate amount of time to increase my fake guitar skills when my real guitar skills could use some brushing up. I’ve completed 7 songs on Expert, and I’m almost done with Hard. I only have two more songs to go – Metallica’s “One” and Slayer’s “River of Blood,” which is every bit as pleasant as it sounds. The Slayer song came out in 1986, the year I graduated from high school. I thought I knew every song from 1986, but I’d never heard this one.

That’s because it’s not a song. It’s aural vandalism.

There’s just nothing pleasant about listening to hardcore metal music. Nothing at all. No melody, no rhythm, no humor. Just noise. Ear-splitting, ugly, vomitous noise. Thankfully, it has all but disappeared, only to be replaced by hardcore rap music, which is infinitely worse. (Did I say “thankfully?” I meant “horrifically.”)

Most of Guitar Hero songs are classic rock oldies, but as you get closer to the end, more metal is inflicted on you. It’s somewhat disturbing to have songs like Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast” sneak into your home as a result of this diverting little game, but at the same time, you also get to see how deeply silly the posturing, pseudo-Satanism really is. And the Maiden song actually has a melody, albeit a simple, stupid, repetitive one. Not so with the Slayer abomination, which, to quote Utah State Senator Chris Buttars, is a dark, ugly thing.

Oh, wait. That’s not all of what Chris Buttars said. He said that black babies are dark, ugly things. And then he sort of apologized but said that this wasn’t a racist statement. And amid calls for him to step down, he announced today that he is seeking reelection in November.

He insists that he was taken out of context. So, in the interests of fairness, I’ll put him back into context. See, they were discussing a bill to split Buttars’ school district, and somebody termed the bill an “ugly baby.”

To which Buttars’ responded “This baby is black, I’ll tell ya. It’s a dark, ugly thing.”

Now I’m not one to call for someone’s head for saying stupid things, even stupid racist things. Americans are wildly oversensitive when it comes to race, and people produce verbal blunders that don’t necessarily mean they’re Goebbels at heart. Indeed, one could make the case that Buttars was trying to use words to describe something as foul and loathsome. Without thinking of the implications, he was unfortunate and awkward enough to use the word “black” as a synonym for “foul,” which, when not describing human beings, is not all that controversial. I actually think that probably was the case, and Buttars should have apologized profusely, explained himself, and taken his lumps.

That’s not what he’s done. Yes, he apologized, but with little or no explanation beyond “It was a poor choice of words.” Then he belligerently announced it was “over,” and he started to belittle the folks who called for the apology in the first place. Today, he labels anyone who sees no non-racist way to interpret his statement as members of a “hate lynch mob.” Yeah, that’s smart, Chris. Use overtly racial language to try and diffuse a racially charged situation.

I don’t think he should be forced to resign. But I’m tempted to move to West Jordan to run against him.

Oh, by the way, the MPAA admitted that they were the reason the Indy trailer was edited to give Ray Winstone gelatinous pants. Apparently, there’s a rule that “no gun can be pointed directly at someone in the same frame in a trailer.” Oooookay. The international trailer makes a whole lot more sense without the digital wonkery, and you can see it now in HD if you want to.

Here the link.

To sum up: I wish I could ski better. The end.

Indiana Jones and the Gun Free Zones

Hmmmm.

Yesterday was the launch of the new Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull trailer, which was cause for celebration in the Cornell household. It’s something of a mixed bag as a trailer – the montage of Indy’s previous adventures doesn’t really work, and there are absolutely no plot specifics provided. But it captured the tone of Indiana Jones, and, really, who wants plot specifics? It confirms that Harrison Ford is still worthy of the hat, so nothing else really matters.

Except this.

In the trailer, Indy is pulled from the trunk of a car, and a swarm of soldiers cock their guns and aim them at him and Ray Winstone, who then says “This ain’t going to be easy,” to which Indy replies “Not as easy as it used to be.” All well and good. It’s an acknowledgement of the 19 years that have passed since the last installment, and it gives us our first glimpse of the new, grizzled, world-weary Indy.

But look at this.

This is a still from the US version of the trailer. Now look at a matching still from the international version. (It’s lower resolution than the first still, but you’ll see my point momentarily.)

Notice any difference?

It’s a really stupid edit. Winstone still has his hands in the air. You know that guns are being pointed at them. But someone decided it would be inappropriate for American preview audiences to see the guns. What’s worse is that it really makes the shot look goofy now that you know what they’re doing. Because they take out the weapons using CGI, Ray Winstone’s pants are strangely gelatinous in the areas where the guns have been removed. (There’s a Freudian sentence if there ever was one.) It’s not only a silly edit, it’s a clumsy one besides.

I honestly don’t understand it.

Presumably, we’re supposed to think that the sight of guns pointed at real people will be somehow too alarming or offensive for young children. Yet it’s not as if the trailer is violence free. We see crashing cars and soldiers being hurled from moving trucks and things blowing up and people being kicked through glass. There’s also the use of the word “damn,” which my 11-year old daughter noticed instantly even when I didn’t. Why is all that acceptable, but guns being aimed – but not fired – are beyond the pale?

Yesterday’s brutal massacre at Northern Illinois University is once again getting the usual suspects talking about more stringent gun laws, and it just makes my blood boil. Don’t people realize that the people willing to obey gun laws are not the ones who walk on to a college campus and start blowing people away? Universities, by and large, are designated as “Gun Free Zones.” Which means that wackos know exactly where they can start shooting and not have to worry about anyone shooting back.

Keep in mind that I don’t own a gun. I have never owned a gun. I don’t want to own a gun. (I keep losing my keys; imagine what happens when I would inevitably lose my firearm.) I have never gone hunting, and the last time I held a loaded weapon in my hands tha fired something stronger than BBs, I was at Boy Scout camp. My position on this issue has nothing to do with my own personal experience or passions. Instead, it’s focused on one concrete, cold, hard fact:

Restricting gun rights results in the death of more innocent victims from gun violence.

This seems counterintuitive. After all, who wouldn’t want to rid the world of gun violence? If, legislatively, we can prevent another Northern Illinois University or Virginia Tech or even Trolley Square here in Salt Lake, shouldn’t we do it? Of course.

But that’s not what restricting Second Amendment rights does. In reality, it does just the opposite.

In Scotland, where I served my mission, even the police officers don’t carry guns. And in November, 1997, the British Parliament outlawed handguns altogether. No British citizen now has the right to keep and bear arms.

Gun violence in Great Britain has skyrocketed.

In 2001, CBS news declared England “one of the most violent urban societies in the Western world” because of the dramatic increase in gun violence, up 60% from three years previous when the ban was put in place. The rate continues to rise, despite the fact that guns have been illegal for over a decade.

Examples here in the United States tell a similar story. When I lived in Los Angeles near the University of Southern California, I could hear gunfire outside my window almost nightly. This is despite stringent gun control laws in that city. I have also lived in Washington DC, which has a horrific problem with gun violence, despite the fact that gun ownership in DC is all but illegal. These so-called “well intentioned” anti-gun ordinances do nothing but keep guns out of the hands of those who exercise their rights responsibly. They encourage the black market sale of weapons to those with no regard for the law.

And that means more people will die at the end of a gun.

I don’t think my children need to be protected from the very sight of a gun in an Indiana Jones movie. They don’t need to be afraid of a piece of metal. They need to be afraid of the kind of people who would use that metal for evil, while at the same time understanding that it’s the people who use the metal, not the metal itself, that makes all the difference.

The new Star Trek movie isn’t going to be released until 2009. That blows.

Valentine’s Day: The Agony and the Ecstasy. (Mostly agony, really.)

Not a big fan of Valentine’s Day on the whole, as I suck at coming up with clever and romantic gifts for my wife, who says she doesn’t care, and she probably even means it, but that still doesn’t get me off the hook. I don’t want to go into the details, but there have been times in our marriage when I’ve neglected the necessities of good gift giving, and if I can come up with some kind of Valentine’s Day inspiration, I can maybe compensate for all the other crap I’ve forgotten. It never seems to work, though. Maybe this year. (And maybe pigs will fly screaming out of my left buttock.)

Anyway, there’s one family tradition from my childhood that we’ve carried into the next generation: the Valentine’s Day Treasure Hunt.

As a kid, the treasure hunt involved a series of clues to wander around the house to find other clues, and finally to the last clue, which included a bunch of goofy toys, usually hidden in the washing machine. Our treasure hunts are slightly different – there’s an initial clue and then five other clues, and at each clue, there’s a toy for one of the kids. We did modify that slightly last year, though, which caused great consternation in the Cornell household.

Here’s what happened. We had tried to get a Wii for Christmas 2006, but we were unsuccessful. We ended up buying one in January on eBay for $100 over the list price and then puzzled over when to give it to the kids. Waiting for Christmas would have been too long, and we didn’t think it was appropriate to give to one of the kids for a birthday present, so we decided that the Valentine’s Day Treasure Hunt was probably the best opportunity.

So instead of getting a present with each clue, the kids got a Wii at the conclusion. The problem came because my wife and I decided that we actually would give a present with each clue, albeit a small one. A very small one.

Each kid got a ring pop.

You’ve seen those, haven’t you? They’re the little plastic rings with a diamond shaped fruity slab of hard candy attached to them. Needless to say, this was way below their usual standard. The end result was that the kids wailed and screamed like spoiled beasties with every clue, since there was no hint of the bounty that awaited them at the end of the hunt. They came very close to ending the hunt prematurely and getting themselves sent to bed early, but somehow we persevered, and now they have a Wii.

They’ll probably whine and moan this year when the toys they get aren’t nearly as good as a Wii.

Did I mention Valentine’s Day sucks?

Gotta go. I have to pick up a ring pop for my wife on the way home.