"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

So it's been awhile. Has anything changed? No.

In the last few months, flight training here in the greater Jacksonville area finally hit a regular pace, meaning my global range of concern shrank down to the gages in front my face. The hours usually spent perusing the opinion pages turned into hours wiled away with limits and emergency procedures - all of it of much more practical concern, since missing the latest Opinion Journal column is much less likely to kill me than if I don't know what to do when all the engines stop working. So I checked the daily headlines on CNN.com when I could, then went back to memorizing my triple-redundant hydraulic system. Things have slowed down a little for now, so I poked back into the realm of punditry and issueness, and what did I find? In many ways, we're still where we were three months ago (or whenever I last posted).

I did go to see United 93, and it was precisely as advertised: gritty, hard-hitting, and incredibly moving. The documentary-style format did nothing to take away from the story, and there's really no point in adding anything to it anyway, since the truth is far more compelling than any Hollywood elaboration. We have a couple more 9/11 movies coming out soon, and theaters are putting preemptive warnings about the trailers in their theatres to avoid the surprise caused by United 93's advertisements. All well and good, though I don't think we as a nation should have to apologize for remembering 9/11. Let's have Osama bin Laden and his kind apologize to us, and in the meantime, let us remember what they did to us that day and honor the heroism of those who died trying to do good in the midst of horrible evil.

Iran: still crazy after all these years. They've given the diplomatic equivalent of the finger to the international community, told Israel that it can expect to be radioactive glass this time next year, and what're we doing about it? Talking. Talking in very serious voices. And writing letters, telling Iran just how serious we are. Guess the world's just polishing its letter-writing skills so it can send Israel and any other infidel community Tehran decides to vaporize a very eloquent postcard about how serious and sorry it is as it stood by and watched the Second Holocaust unfold. Where have all the leaders with gonads gone?

They've certainly left the shores of America, if the immigration debate is any indication. Nobody, but nobody wants to stand up and make the hard and very necessary choices on this issue. Instead, members on both sides of the aisle are race-baiting, bickering, pandering, and using every move from the Beltway playbook to buy votes and avoid making a decision. Meanwhile, the Mexican border remains unsecured, illegal immigrants pour into the country, and we're no closer to figuring out how to handle the ones already here. President Bush finally decided to call in the National Guard to assist the Border Patrol (though in a very limited capacity; they're simply freeing up Border Patrol staffers by taking desk jobs so the staffers can go into the field. I'd rather have those battalions patrolling and filling gaps on the border alongside them, but that's so simple and obvious it can't possibly have crossed the mind of anyone in Washington). Good start, but not enough. First, we need to stop the flow, and stop it now. That's as much a national security issue as anything else, since we have absolutely no idea who's coming north along with those individuals honestly seeking opportunity. Fences, Guardsmen, Border Patrol on steroids: whatever it takes. Then we can figure out what to do with everyone who's already here. I think the last thing we need to do is reward lawbreakers by giving them carte blanche for flaunting the rules and handing them citizenship. I also realize that it's completely impractical to round them all up and send them back. Those who are really serious about becoming a legitimate part of this country should be willing to pay whatever fines and penalties the government imposes (I've heard an idea floated on the radio that illegals might earn their citizenship by serving a couple of years in the Army; not a bad thought). Will Congress and/or the administration have the guts to do any of this? Thus far, the answer is hazy . . .

Democrats love talking about the "culture of corruption" in the GOP. And there have certainly been some Republicans found guilty of less than exemplary conduct. Looks like slime is bipartisan, however, as we've recently discovered that William Jefferson(D-LA) likes to keep large sums of small bills in his freezer and Howard Dean's DNC tried to torpedo New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin's reelection bid (not that I'm losing sleep over him, Nagin proved himself the most incompetent and cowardly kind of leader in the post-Katrina world). How about we all agree that Congress in general is in a very sorry state and needs a good housecleaning?

The Da Vinci Code. The much-hyped book was turned into a bigger-hyped movie, and it sounds like the film is of the same shoddy quality as the book. Why Hollywood thinks it can make more money by bashing peoples' beliefs than respecting them is very strange, given the success of flicks like The Passion of the Christ. I didn't join a picket line last Friday, but decided to stay at home and watch Raiders of the Lost Ark as a form of local protest. Raiders and The Last Crusade proved that it IS possible to combine religion and adventure, and be entertaining and successful at the same time. I would've thought that high-caliber silver screen kings like Tom Hanks and Ron Howard might know better, but if there's one thing Hollywood is good at, it's fulfilling my worst expectations.

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