Revisionist History Channel

I remember when I went to public school growing up, studying history.  I loved it.  However, I was brought up in a Christian household, and though my parents did not care a bit about history, I began to notice that something was missing in what I was being taught at school.  There was simply no mention of the impact of Christianity on Western history.

Of course, the first college world history class I took wasted no time in properly bestowing credit to Western thought on the Greeks, Romans and the Judeo-Christian Ethic- just as it should have been.  It was refreshing to see Christianity getting its due, but more than that, I began to feel that it was ‘history’ itself that was being cheated by the public schools in selectively choosing which parts of the story to leave out.

I learned a term while I was at college that was easily applied to this situation- “Revisionist History”.  It’s not a complement.  It’s would be more correctly described as a disease.  Don’t get me wrong.  There is room for some revisionism.  This is easily seen when we look back at some recent presidents.  Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush were all reviled during their presidencies, but as Clinton and Reagan are both now being revised in a positive note (and rightly so), so will George W. Bush in a few years.  This would be why you should not write history until at least 20 years after the fact, but that’s a whole different discussion.

The bad form of revisionist history tends to be agenda driven.  A horrible example of this would be C.A. Tripp’s horrible book, The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln which attempts to turn our greatest president into a homosexual based on the flimsiest evidence.

The History Channel over the past four or five years has begun a shift toward this type of agenda based historical programming.  It, and the National Geographic Channel, have both begun to promote shows that are based on flimsy theories with little or no backing and no refutation.  For example, there are a host of shows based on Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code that are presented as if they are based on real, long-standing historical theories rather than new speculations taken from a single man who himself says they are just made up.  Unfortunately, this type of programming seems to be their trend.

Last night, I watched the first episode of Expedition Africa on the History Channel.  In it, a group of quarrelsome idiots have decided to attempt to follow Henry Morton Stanley’s famous expedition to find David Livingstone.

The show has given some of the back-story of both Stanley and Livingstone.  They were both great men who do not enough credit for their accomplishments today.  Livingstone was easily the greater of the two.  I was taken aback when they referred to Livingstone as basically an explorer who wanted to end slavery.  I went to the History Channel website and read to see if they elaborated on him further.  Here it was much the same, except that they referred to him as a ‘former missionary.’

David Livingstone was one of the greatest missionaries to ever live.  Period.  He was also a medical missionary.  He saw Africa, and realized that there was so much intertribal strife that he could either stay in one place and affect only a few people, or he could change the way the whole continent worked, and reach millions of people.  He was a strategic missionary.  His theory was that by exploring Africa, and opening up trade routes, the people there would end up seeing the economic benefit of supporting these trade routes and working together.  This, in turn, would make it easier for missionaries, like himself, to reach more people.

The problem I had was that this program, and the History Channel blatantly ignored Livingstone’s primary life calling and reason for doing the amazing things that he did.  It’s easily done in this case, because most people were only taught in school that Livingstone was an explorer also.  I am not expecting them to turn this into a religious program, but the truth of his motivations could be presented without it sounding preachy.  In the end, by selectively ignoring essential aspects of a story, it is the history and the History Channel’s reputation that suffer.

Obama’s Short Honeymoon

Today’s inauguration went off with pomp and circumstance which has not been seen in the world since the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.  Just as when these two were married, the sky seems to be the limit.  How could anything ever go wrong?  Everyone, it seems, is smashing themselves together with the sole aim of showing their support for a new messiah…, I mean president.

I, as most good Americans that voted for someone other then Obama (I am not saying you are a bad American I you voted for Obama), will support him as the elected leader of our country, and hope that he leads us well as a nation.  I am struck with the fear that he will appoint several young, liberal Supreme Court justices in his first year, and then follow in Clinton’s footsteps and expand the use of executive orders, thus legislating from the desk (oval office).

As far as the honeymoon goes, I hope Obama is ready.  Of course, the Republicans in Congress will be looking for anything and everything to criticize.  I look back on Clinton’s presidency and remember how ashamed I was when Republicans refused to support the use of force to stop the genocide that was happening in Bosnia.  If Obama looks to the right for support, he will get none.  This, I think, is expected.

What will be unexpected will be that the first shots will come from his own supporters.  In a few months, as he begins to face the reality of what withdrawal from an instable Iraq means to international peace, he will stall the withdrawal, and former supporters like Cindy Sheehan will draw first blood.  This, however, will only be the beginning.

Guantanamo will be another place where former supporters will turn on him.  It cannot be shut down.  Even if we decide to put all the detainees on trial, it will take years perhaps even a decade to hear them all.

The environmental movement will be even worse.  These people have lived their lives blaming the U.S. and lack of government intervention for every problem that they can conceive (and I do mean conceive).  The point is that in these economic times, it will not benefit Obama to hop on board with a bunch of wealth sapping green ideas, and he won’t.  Their expectations will be through the roof, and he will be able to deliver even less than he probably wants to.

Eventually, all of these and other special interest groups will realize that they are getting little more with Obama than they had with Bush, and then they will re-arm themselves with the only real weapon that they have, blame.  Unfortunately, for Obama, the there will be no one else to blame but him.

Top 20 United States Presidents

A few years ago I ranked the top 20 presidents in the history of the U.S.  I went back recently, and looked at the list again.  I decided that it just did not look right, so I opened a spreadsheet, and began to rank the presidents on several criteria.  These included: Popularity, Character, Number of Terms, the Issues that they had to deal with, their Legacy, the Legislation that they pushed through, their Effectiveness, and their Leadership, and their Negatives.  I gave more weight to: Issues, Legacy, Legislation and Effectiveness.

In the end, my list looked mostly as it had before, but some things looked much better.  Enjoy.

  1. Abraham Lincoln– He had it all: the biggest issue (the Civil War), the best rhetoric, an impeccable character, and was unafraid to take the wheel if it was needed.   He died in office before making any large mistakes.  He tried to choose Lee.  He fired incompetent generals at will, and chose Grant in the end.  He delivered the Gettysburg Address.  He signed the Emancipation Proclamation.  He preferred an easy peace with the South at the end of the war.  On the downside, he did suspend habeas corpus during the war.
  2. George Washington– The first.  He was extremely popular.  He was very careful to set proper precedents for the office.  He had been General of the armies during revolution.  He showed his character by refusing to be king.
  3. Franklin Delano Roosevelt– He had the big events: WWII, the Great Depression.  He is and will be the only four “termer.”  He overcame Polio, and he was an excellent orator.
  4. Thomas Jefferson– He was the author of Declaration of Independence.  He was a Founding Father, and he made the Louisiana Purchase.  However, he did disband the National Bank, and was a somewhat divisive figure.
  5. Theodore Roosevelt II– TR, a true man’s man.  He was a sportsman, and one of the first true American naturalists.  He established many of the National Parks that we have today.  He led the charge up San Juan Hill.  He is a symbol of American Imperialism (“Speak softly and carry a big stick).
  6. Ronald Wilson Reagan– He brought America out of a recession.  He proved the greatness of conservative fiscal and social ideals.  He proved the greatness of capitalism using its principals to economically bring down the greatest threat to America in its history.  He is still known as the Great Communicator.  He won 49 0f 50 states.
  7. James Monroe– Probably the most popular President ever while in office.  His presidency is still known as “the Era of Good Feelings.”  He instituted the Monroe Doctrine which established the attitude that the U.S. did not support European involvement in the Americas.
  8. James Madison– He was president during the war of 1812.  He was a Founding Father, and he was the designer and author of the Constitution.
  9. Harry S. Truman– Two termer.  He had the big event (WWII).  He made what may have been the hardest decision ever made by a president, and it was the right one (the atomic bomb).
  10. Andrew Jackson– He is a two termer.  He was a war hero.  He stood up to the Supreme Court.  He was very popular.
  11. Thomas Woodrow Wilson– He was a two termer who led the U.S. during WWI and started the League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations.
  12. William Jefferson Clinton– He was very popular.  He was a two termer.  He served during a time of economic growth.  He was fiscally conservative, and was able to get his economic policies passed even though he did not have a sympathetic Congress.  His positives will probably outweigh the negatives caused by his personal problems and impeachment.
  13. George Walker Bush   He has the big events: 911 and the war.  His 911 speech will go down as one of the greatest of any president.  He had a sympathetic congress, and pretty much passes any legislation that he liked during his first two years.  He effectively prosecuted a war against an enemy that could not be easily seen.  He did hot do enough to get his message out there, and as a result, his second term was a failure highlighted by the loss of the Congress, and eventually the Presidency for his party.
  14. Dwight David Eisenhower– He was general of the allied armies during WWII.  He was a two termer who served during a very happy time for America, the 50s.
  15. James Knox Polk  He expanded America more than any president except Jefferson.  Took in the Oregon Territory, and the California Territory.  He annexed Texas (this should get him a couple of more points).  He signed The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.  He ran on the slogan of 54-40 or Fight.  His policies stalled the Civil War for a few years.  He did not want to be President, and only served because he was asked to.
  16. John Adams– One of the most important of the Founding Fathers, he stood on his principles and kept America out of an unnecessary war even though it hurt him politically and probably cost him reelection.  He was disliked politically and arrogant.  Also, he signed the Alien and Sedition Acts which were alter declared unconstitutional.  These things pushed him down the list.
  17. John Fitzgerald Kennedy– He was extremely popular.  He faced down the Soviets.  He pushed the Space Program.  He was a good orator.  He was a war hero.  On the downside, there was the Bay of Pigs, the War in Vietnam, and his social life.  Also, his Presidency was cut short. 
  18. William McKinley– He was President during the Spanish American War.  He acquired, Guam, The Philippines and Puerto Rico from Spain.  He also advocated annexation of Hawaii.
  19. George Herbert Walker Bush– He presided over the fall of Communism and Desert Storm.  He was a war hero.  He was the former head of the CIA and former Ambassador to the UN.  On the downside, “No new Taxes” and only one term.
  20. Lyndon B. Johnson– His social policies were largely responsible for the success of the American Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.  However, his welfare state was a big issue.  He got America further involved in Vietnam, and he bowed-out after only one term.

Fran Drescher as Political Apocalypse or Simply a Goat with a Goose Caught in its Throat?

So, I turn over to CNN and see a headline that stops me in my tracks.  I try to keep a list of the things that frighten me the most so I’ll know when to pack it in.   For example, the polar bear scares me more than any other land animal.  I live in Texas, so I feel pretty safe as far as polar bears go, but I know that if I were ever to come into contact with one, I simply go fetal and hope he would end it quickly.

Sometimes, however, things we never could have foreseen come along and scare us in ways we could never have imagined.  This was the case today when I saw that Fran Drescher had “throw her name out” for consideration to replace Hillary Clinton as Senator from New York.  Just typing this send shivers down my spine, and leaves my legs quaking.

The thought of having to hear that horrible, horrible voice on weekly political programs for the next four years is hard to fathom.

As a republican, I would take four Bill Clintons as senator before I would want one of her.  If I were opposing a bill that she threatened to filibuster, I would simply ask for the name of the bill that I would now be voting for.  Surely this will not really happen

One last question, Don’t people usually get asked to fill these positions?  I do not remember another person up to this point suggesting himself (or herself) as a replacement for a vacant seat.  If that is all it takes, then I through my own hat in the ring, and I don’t even speak through my nose. 

What is Family Television?

My wife has always been a big ‘family television’ viewer.  She has seen every episode of The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, Touched by an Angel, and Highway to Heaven.  She still watches the Hallmark Channel on a daily basis, and if she is already watching one of the shows when I enter the room, I’ll sit and listen as if I am interested, but the whole time I am counting the minutes until it is over.

I, on the other hand, am no goodie-two-shoes when it comes to television, but I may be a nerd.  Most of the programming that I watch is on one of the channels owned by Discovery.  I watch a lot of sports, some reality based TV (Survivor, The Amazing Race, and American Idol), and a lot of the movies that are on the premium channels.  I watch very little scripted television mainly because the writing is usually not very good.  I watched the Sopranos religiously, but the dialogue on a show like CSI, for example, just hurts my head.

7th Heaven:

Several years ago my wife and I started watching 7th Heaven.  For the first few seasons, it was very enjoyable.  However, I remember a specific episode when one of the local elected officials was discovered having an affair.  Surprisingly, there was the reverend with as much angst as his character had ever shown preaching to the audience that it was ‘none of their business’ what the man was doing at home.  It seemed a little coincidental that President Clinton had just gone through the Monica Lewinski scandal.  At the time, I was offended that the writers of a show that purported itself to be a ‘family’ show about a minister and his wife trying to raise good kids, would slap their audience in the face in this manner.  I found myself watching it less and less, and pretty soon it was off my radar.  It was a good thing also, because the show devolved into an opportunity for the liberal writers to get their message out to a conservative audience, and later it devolved into one of the worst written soap operas on television.

The ABC Family Channel:

If you look way up in the numbers on most cable television plans, you will find the ABC Family Channel.  Don’t be fooled.  This is no more of a ‘family’ oriented channel than TLC is a ‘learning’ channel.  I just looked up tonight’s programming and found two episodes of That 70s Show followed by that wholesome movie Mean Girls (please read the last line with appropriate sarcasm).  There is nothing ‘family’ about any of this.  I don’t even give them credit for attempting to socially engineer their audience.  They are simply hoping that parents are letting their children watch this ‘family’ programming in order to get their ratings up.  I personally cannot think of a time when I will feel that slightly disguised sexual innuendos and drug humor are going to be appropriate for my daughter to watch before she is an adult.

This week, I was watching a movie that I can’t even remember the name of, and went to the ‘guide’ on my DVR.  I know I was on HBO, because I noticed one of the programs being offered for my viewing pleasure on the HBO Family Channel.  It was called All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise.  Smelling a rat, I looked at the information on the show.  It said, “Feature-length chronicle of a precedent-setting 2004 cruise, in which Rosie O’Donnell and her family joined hundreds of other gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight families on a weeklong trip from NYC to the Bahamas and back.”  Holy Crap!  This is what HBO is passing off as ‘family’ programming?

Of course, this is not family programming.  It is a blatant attempt by HBO and the disgusting Rosie O’Donnell at social engineering.  Period.  This would not even be considered programming outside of the gay and lesbian context.  There are no other programs on HBO family chronicling the trips of say the Smith family to the Grand Canyon.  I was appalled.  I don’t mind the gays having their own programming such as Bravo or here! TV (heck, I even watch Top Chef), but this is a clear offensive (and I mean that in the military sense).

They would do well to remember that America does not support this type of thing.  It has already expressed its opinion in several state bans on gay marriage, and with the number of states involved, a national constitutional referendum is a real possibility.  People will simply not put up with this sort of thing, and they will vote with their feet.

 

Top 100 Creepy People #51-60

Creepy Person #60- John Waters

I had a friend suggest him for the list so I looked him up on Google images.  Oh, yeah.  That guy is creepy.  He is a director, so I looked up his work.  It’s pretty a pretty creepy list of films and actors also.

 

Creepy Person #59- Vincent Price

Honestly, he probably deserved to be higher on the list.  Here we have a guy who basically devoted his whole life to being creepy, but with time, and a more sophisticated audience, his brand of creepiness comes off a little hokey in today’s world.  If there were a lifetime achievement award for creepy, he would have received it.

 

 Creepy Person #58- Verne Troyer (or any little person)

Willow may be the only little person character ever seen in film that was not portrayed as evil.  Most little people in film are evil sidekicks.  I remember Dr. Shrinker when I was a kid.  Perhaps the most famous little person in film or television history, Billy Barty played the part of the evil sidekick Hugo in this Kroft sitcom.  Verne Troyer is just the 21st century incarnation of this type of actor.  He may be small, but he is big on creepy..

 Creepy Person #57- Bert

When I was making this list, Bert came to mind.  He always seemed weird and angry against Ernie’s more playful personality.  It was those angry eyebrows.  I had a friend call me out on this one.  He thought that Bert should not be on the list, so I Googled Bert and guess what I found?  There is a whole web-culture out there of people who agree that Bert is evil.  There is even a Snopes article that documents the fact that Bert has appeared on signs at pro-Al-Quaida rallies with Osama Bin Laden

 

 

Creepy Person #56- Bill Clinton

Honestly, he probably deserved to be higher on the list. Oh, yeah.  He’s creepy.  He has plowed a furrow through the women that surround him from one side of the country to the other.  He ranks with Warren G Harding and JFK in rumored affairs, and it can probably be taken as fact that he has out-paced both of them due to the fact that the other two died young.  From accusations of affairs in the governor’s mansion in Arkansas to cigars and stained dresses in the White House, this guy is definitely creepy.  Being married to Hillary does not help

Creepy Person #55- Hillary Clinton</span

Honestly, he probably deserved to be higher on the list. She stayed with him after that mess.  She comes across to me as one of the most disingenuous people in politics, and she may actually be the next President of the US.  I’m creeped out by that.

 

Creepy Person #54- Roddy McDowell

As a one of the great character actors, this guy was in everything, but he was still creepy.  He was the Crispin Glover of his era, and probably deserves more credit for his creepiness than I am giving him here.

 

Creepy Person #53- Linda Blair

A few people made the list for a single acting roll.  Linda Blair is one of them.

 

Creepy Person #52- Chris Cooper

As my grandfather used to say, “He is an odd duck.”

 

Creepy Person #51- Ray Liotta

If creepy eyes came with lasers, this guy would be able to stare a hole through anything.  He plays a good and creepy villain, but those eyes truly make his evil rolls more believable.

 

Government Health Scare

A friend sent an article to me this morning that talked about the three candidates and their ideas on health-care reform.  Generally, I believe that the less government intrusion there is, the better, but in this instance America’s politics have wandered into an area where I feel there is need for reform.  The problem is that I do not believe any of the candidates has a serious or good idea for reforming this problem.

Both of the Democratic candidates prefer some sort of all-inclusive government sponsored plan, while McCain’s plan prefers to remove the business incentive from the current system, ostensibly allowing businesses to pay people more in actual salary and allowing individuals more freedom and power when choosing a health plan.  I don’t see any of these plans as viable, or well thought out. 

I really would like to see a non-profit insurance company established.  Of course, you would have to pay the people who work there, but it seems to me that a group of people or businesses could come together and establish an insurance company that takes only enough to pay its medical bills and operating expenses.  It makes sense, and is the purest example of the original purpose of insurance, to get people to pool their money together, so that if something bad happens to one of them, the corporate body of funds covers the expense. 

Originally, insurance companies were created as a profit venture, but the problem came when this idea was taken to its logical conclusion (which is where it is now).  I believe there is a moral issue at work here.  These companies lose sight of their true purpose, pooling individuals’ money to protect against catastrophe, and begin to look at profits as their main objective.  In this scenario, the motivation is to get medical costs up, to justify raising premiums and to keep from paying as many claims as possible so that profits will be as high as possible.  It’s a problem when you take a person’s money for “health insurance,” and then make it one of your company’s stated goals to get and keep as much of that money as you can by refusing to pay or by making achieving payment so difficult that people give up. 

So why doesn’t someone start a non-profit insurance company?  Because, state laws are highly protective of insurance companies’ interests.  Texas has many state laws that protect the insurance industry.  For example, you cannot take an insurance company to court for not paying your medical bills.  I want to make it clear that I am not talking about tort reform.  That is another issue for another discussion.

My main point is this: why do we need a middle-man?  If the point of insurance is to band your money together, and to make sure that everyone is covered by the contributions of the whole, then there is no need to pay a for-profit company to do this for you.  What could happen, is that a large (and I mean large- the larger the better) group of individuals could set up an insurance company in this fashion to work in their best interests, not the interests of a group of stock holders (the insured would be the stock holders).  In truth, the insurance company has little to offer, except to be a place to pool money and weed out fraud.  They are no different than a stock broker who bundles your money with that of other people and helps you buy into a fund.  The difference is that the stock broker is not trying to figure out a way to keep your money for himself (except for fixed transaction fees).  When you want to sell a stock, you sell, the broker collects a few bucks, and you are done.  In contrast, when you have a serious health problem, many insurance companies will do all they can to make the pay-out difficult.

And as we have seen, with the growth of technology and the information age, there is really no need for a stock broker these days you can do it yourself on-line for even less.  The same technology could be used to help bring people’s money together to insure themselves.  This is the kind of leverage that could also effect medical prices in a good way for those choosing to insure themselves this way.

For me, the political solutions presented by both parties are no more serious than their current ideas for solving the “big oil” problem.  All the Republican idea does is to remove the onus from businesses to help provide health-care.  I do not believe for a second that businesses will raise employee salaries commensurate with the money that they will be saving on health-care.  The businesses will rely on the fact that most people do not associate the business cost of benefits with their salaries.  Most people are worried about their take-home-pay.  Good jobs will still have to provide health-care benefits in order to get good employees, and smaller businesses and lesser desired jobs (see burger flipper), will be effectively cut off from insured health-care coverage.

The worst part is that the Republican plan does nothing to deal with rising health-care costs.  It insinuates that allowing people to control their own medical benefits will cause competition and drive prices down.  But, that is not where the problem is, the problem is between the insurance companies and the medical companies.  I personally find it hard to believe that a company, such as Home Depot, cannot use the leverage of its thousands of employees to get access to decently priced insurance.  And, if a company that pools this many people together cannot get it done, I am sure that these people as individuals will have no chance.

The Democrat proposal is just as bad.  Any time government steps in and decides to simply cover the costs associated with an industry, the entities in that industry begin to salivate.  If you want to see medical costs go out of control, just allow the government to pay the bills.  In the end, the insurance and medical companies will reap record profits, and our taxes will soar in order to pay for it.

The only people benefited by McCain’s idea are businesses who carry insurance, and the only people benefited by the Dems’ ideas are the insurance companies, medical companies and themselves (politicians).  No surprises