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.

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Not What the World Was Promised.

I seem to remember in the months leading up to the recent presidential election and for some time since, being told that things would be different once Obama was elected.  He promised to use diplomacy(apparently a word that he thought GWB had never heard before) to force the World to, once again, fall in love with America.  He specifically told us that he would employ this diplomacy to improve our relationship with Iran.

Well, last week, instead of working out the nuclear issue with the sensible Iranians as he had promised, he went to the Russians (Watch that Putin, he’s a nut too.) and negotiated with them to discontinue providing the Iranians with support for their nuclear programs.  That ought to get those Iranians to love us.  I’ll bet they invited Obama over for tea after that brilliant piece of maneuvering.

Today, we are told that Hillary has threated North Korea.  She is now insisting that they end their nuclear programs.  Or, what?  What sort of threat is any nation going to buy from “Mr. Scale Back Our Military Options and Negotiate?”  Good luck with all that.  And, how is this policy any different than that of GWB?  Oh yeah, these policies have no teeth.

We should be threatening Cuba and Venezuela any day now, and then Obamawill threaten Pakistan some more.  Now that’s diplomacy.  Isn’t it interesting to see that the same irrational people that Bush had problems with are the same irrational people that are lining up to cause Obama problems?

America’s enemies are our enemies because they choose to be so.  They want to be our enemies.  In fact, people like Castro and Chavez make their ‘political hay’ out of hating America and pumping others up to do the same.  They have absolutely no incentive to negotiate or work with us, and they never will.  We may buy them off for a time, but they will always return to the America-hating trough because it is their bread and butter.

Our job is to separate the truly dangerous ones from the ones who are simply annoying.  We must ignore the ones that are simply annoying no matter how they buzz about our faces.  The dangerous ones have to be crushed.  It’s just that simple.  Obama needs to take a page out of Teddy Roosevelt’s playbook.  He said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”  Obama will have no stick at all, and will keep increasing the rhetoric until all our enemies hear is an annoying screech…which they will continue to ignore.

Hold on,…Back the Lincoln Up!

Obama has been President for ony two weeks, and today we are being told that ‘historians’ are comparing his presidency to that of Lincoln.  Really?  I don’t for a minute believe that any serious historian would lower himself to such a comparison.  Historians deal with history, and two weeks doth not a history make.  I hope the guy is great, but let him be great first.  Please stop this hack job love affair.  And, give Lincoln a little more respect.  He deserves it.

I don’t know if I can take four years of this.

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.

The Prank to End All Pranks…, Literally

I love a good prank, and have been a party to some good ones in my life.  Physical pranks can be funny, but the mental prank that leads a person to believe something that is not true for a certain amount of time is better.  There are several elements that go into making a prank great:

1. Intricacy– For the most part, the more complicated the prank is, the better it is.

2. Difficulty– You definitely receive points for difficulty.

3. Effectiveness– If no one believes the prank, it is not very good.  So, the greatness of the prank is often measured in terms of how much the ‘prank-ee’ believes the premise of the prank.

4. Dismount– Style points are awarded for how artfully the ‘prank-ee’ is allowed off the hook.

5. Effect– This aspect is a little more tricky.  If you fool someone into wearing a tuxedo to an informal dinner, the effect is funny, and it is a great prank.  However, if the greatness of your prank ends up with someone losing their job or heaven forbid, someone ends up dead, then your prank may not be that great.

This all being said, I was perplexed when I read about what arguably may have been the greatest prank in history.  Last week, during the horrible attacks on the Indian province of Mumbai, a person called the president of Pakistan in Islamabad, and purported himself to be the foreign minister from India.  He then proceeded to verbally berate the president of Pakistan which resulted in him putting his air force on alert against a possible attack by India.

This prank was so effective that no one knew it had actually occurred until Secretary Rice confronted the Indian Foreign Minister and asked in why he had done such a thing.  Genius.

As far as rating the prank goes, he scores great in the intricacy and difficulty areas of the prank.  Also, the effectiveness of the prank is off-the-charts (anytime you have the president of a country scrambling his air force, I’d say that’s pretty effective).  He loses points in the area of dismount, because he never really let them off the hook, and if he had admitted what he did, they probably would shoot him (assuming they will not find him and shoot him anyway).

Finally, he loses major points in the area of ‘effect.’  First, the extreme tastelessness which goes along with combining a prank with a terrorist attack is simply bad (to the point of evil).  Second, it is probably a little irresponsible to play around in such a manner with two governments that legendarily hate each other, but at the same time have nuclear weapons.  I think it’s safe to say that if it starts a war (especially a nuclear war) it is no longer a prank.

In the end, I have to say that this is not a good prank, and no one should attempt to repeat anything like it in the future.

Fears Going into Thursday Night’s Vice Presidential Debate

I want to preface this by saying that I am a Republican, I will vote for McCain (though he would not have been my first choice), and I was thrilled with the Sarah Palin pick. 

This morning I read a story on foxnews.com.  It seems that choice of Gwen Ifill, who by the way is black, to fill the role of moderator in Thursday night’s Vice Presidential debate is being questioned.  She has written a book (The Breakthrough), and its premise is that ‘the civil rights movement has cleared the way for post-racial politicians to ascend to new heights.’  In layman’s terms, it is a book that chronicles the rise of African Americans in American politics since the civil right’s movement began.  Obama’s success, among that of others, is discussed in the book.

The point made by Foxnews and the National Review is that her appropriateness as an unbiased debate moderator is now being called into question because of this.  While I can understand why a person would be given pause when presented with the basic facts of the issue, I do not believe that it is fair to assume that because she is black, and wants to write a book that spotlights the recent political successes of African American, then she must be pro-Obama, and as a consequence is not professional enough to moderate a VP candidate debate.  Considering the subject of the book, it has to include Obama, just as it has to include Clarence Thomas (I am just assuming that it does).  At this point, I do not think it is realistic to think a person could find an intelligent person in the media who is not already leaning one way or another (Personally, I am convinced that 95% of media personalities wear ankle weights on their right legs to keep them from toppling over).

When Sarah was chosen as the VP candidate, some were questioning the vetting process in the McCain camp.  I think they would vet the moderator of the VP debate with almost the same scrutiny as they did the actual VP, considering the weight that the VP choice has been given in this campaign.  As a result, I am now beginning to question the McCain camp’s vetting process also.  I am less concerned with the book than I am that Ifill is an anchor for PBS, the home of Bill Moyers.  If they did not vet Ifill well enough to determine that she is ‘pro-Obama,’ then that is their problem.  I’m sure that it would have been easy enough to discover that she was publishing a book!  In the end, I still do not think that there is enough evidence of her perceived ‘bias’ to recuse her from consideration as a moderator, and I will even give her credit for not pushing her book to press before the election.  She could obviously make more money, and hedge her bets in the case of an Obama loss, if she were to release the book during the election.

In truth, I believe that this, unfortunately, is an example of the newest strategy regarding Palin to come out of the McCain camp.  They have observed the fact that the public has risen to her defense in the wake of the flood of unwarranted attacks on her coming from the left.  This has been good for her, up to this point, but as it begins to look like a strategy, it will quickly wear thin.

The current cry coming from the National Review and other conservative publications that Ifill cannot be objective, begins to ring hollow in the light of all of this.  It looks like a preemptive strike to make Ifill look bad if she asks Palin any tough questions, calls het to the carpet on an answer, or lets Biden savage her.  I believe this is being floated to force Ifill to water-down her approach to Palin in the hope that she will not want to even give the appearance of any bias.  Mark my words, the McCain campaign will not ask her to recuse herself from the debate.  They want her there, and they want her (Ifill) on the defensive.

I believe the McCain strategy of making Palin look like a victim is a mistake.  I do not have a lot of faith in the American public to be able to understand what is going on in general, but at this point they have been conditioned by recent events to be aware of unfair attacks on Palin.  If Ifill is an unfair moderator, and if Biden attempts to savage Palin, it will be readily apparent.  The McCain camp and the National Review do not need to do the attempt to set the stage for it.

I have a friend (www.exploded.wordpress.net) who has called on the McCain camp to let Sarah be herself, and take her off the leash.  He is absolutely right.  She needs to be allowed to go back to the Sarah we saw bowing-up to Charlie Gibson. 

Unfortunately, I have a bad feeling about this debate.  I am afraid that she is going to be given a list of talking points and a script by her McCain handlers in the hope that she will be able to stay on message while Biden makes an ass of himself.  If this is the case, she will look off-balance, and she will indeed be savaged by Biden.  You cannot be a ‘pit bull’ and a victim at the same time, and remember by definition victims are losers.  My greatest fear is that she breaks down and we will have a Ferarro incident.  If that happens we all might as well vote Obama because it will be over.

 

Click! Your’re Fired!

I think Robert Paxton, the former president of a community college in Iowa, may have delivered the biggest give-up of an excuse that I have ever heard.  After a photograph surfaced showing him dispensing beer from a mini-keg into a young hottie’s mouth while in a boat on a lake, his genius defense was to say that the keg in the picture was broken and not dispensing beer at the time.  That’s like being caught on the sixth floor of some building with a smoking rifle in your hands after a guy is shot, and saying, “This gun isn’t even loaded,…anymore.”

I guess the point he was making was that it is OK for a university president to stage a picture in which he and a group of young people are standing around acting as if they are drunk in bathing suits on a boat in a lake.  That makes sense.  He should have added that he was just helping them to do a little research.  Or, even better, they were all taking part in some sort of promotion that was actually going to be intended as a warning against the dangers of drinking while in a boat on a lake.  Remember, colleges are bastions of liberal thought, and nothing warms a liberal’s heart like some good ole’ good intensions, even if they have a horrible result.

In the end, Paxton chose the give-up, and the $400,000 severance package because he knew there was no getting away from this picture.  Good move.  I’m charging my camera as we speak.