Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Left's 3 Best Reasons for Allowing Travel from Ebola Zones

The debate is over; the issue is settled. The party of blanket assertions has spoken: a travel ban will only make Americans less safe from West African Ebola Virus. Trust us. National Geographic says: "It seems so obvious: To keep Ebola out of the United States, simply keep anyone who has the deadly disease from getting in." But, as with everything for Liberals, it's more nuanced than that.
The President with his new Ebola Czar, Ron Klain
So nuanced, in fact, that despite a week of questioning about their refusal to institute a "travel ban," neither the Obama regime or its lackeys ever once gave any satisfying explanation beyond "it would make it harder for us to stop the outbreak in Africa." When informed that the U.S. has already sent military and charter flights over there to help, they would just assert that those are insufficient, never saying why or how. And of course, our supine press would accept these non-explanations.

So we can all thank heaven for Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman (no, not just that he is retiring), who helpfully asked Frieden in a congressional hearing this Thursday: "It seems to me you're saying 'We wanna monitor people before they leave those countries [Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone] to see whether they have this infection, and then we wanna monitor them when they come into [this country] to see whether they have this infection.' Is that what you're proposing?" Frieden: "That's what we're actually doing."

Yeah, that worked pretty well with America's Patient Zero, Thomas Duncan, in Texas, who was sent home with Aspirin from Presbyterian Hospital even though he told the ER staff he had just come from Liberia. Uh, maybe the CDC was better off not explaining after all. Knowing how bad Waxman/Frieden sounded, Obama finally appointed a so-called Ebola Czar, and the Progressive blogosphere rode to the rescue. It may be a tall order to convince Americans we should allow 300-500 people per day from those countries to enter five American airports, but the Huffington Post, Nat-Geo and Vox are all up to the challenge.

The most ambitious, not to say persuasive, defense was entitled "Why Travel Bans Will Only Make The Ebola Epidemic Worse." Authors Julia Belluz and Steven Hoffman offered three reasons: 1- Airport screening is political theater (oddly pointing out how it failed with SARS and has already failed in Dallas); 2- Closing borders would be a disaster (a Straw Man argument from start to finish); 3- The best way to protect Americans is by protecting West Africans (which American troops and doctors are already doing).

Stop screening at airports? Evidently it's ineffectual and takes away "scarce resources" from other more fruitful efforts. I actually agree with this point, finding Waxman/Frieden particularly unconvincing about running airport screening in Africa. But if we do stop screening, we most definitely can not keep allowing Liberians in. Even the few Americans who have never dealt with the TSA know screening at airports won't work because it has already been demonstrated a failure in this crisis.

Closing borders would be a disaster? For whom? Not Senegal, which borders Guinea, and had one guy sneak across with Ebola. The Senegalese quarantined him, and militarily "sealed" their border. Three weeks later their country is virus-free. But this "Closing Borders" meme is a classic Straw Man argument, because no Republican is proposing to close any border anywhere--Senegalese success notwithstanding. What has been proposed is temporarily restricting certain people from access to the USA. We need to announce that we will deny entry to anybody with a passport from those countries (or other nationals, including Americans, who have visa stamps from those countries). Let's take those "scarce resources" and set up 21-day quarantine centers at the five American airports to hold folks who ignore the travel ban. Our military and doctors who are over there are already prepared for a 3-week quarantine before returning home.

And finally we come to "reason" three: the Best Way to Protect America is by protecting West Africa. Please. This is a tautology on the level of Kittens Are Cute. Of course earth's Pinnacle Nation should help fight Ebola, and we are fighting it over there already. But temporarily restricting entry to our homeland by Liberians, Sierra Leonese and Guineans would not materially hamper our ability to "protect" West Africa. And, in fact, the authors seem to know America can chew-gum-and-walk at the same time...not even mentioning travel bans in their earnest four-paragraph proposal for "the best way to avoid more cases in America."

I can only speculate on Obama's real reasons for wanting to keep the American borders open, because these three are un-serious to the point of being cynical. I assume he is sticking to his long-held ideology even in the face of the world's deadliest infectious disease. It is now clear that not even the health and safety of the American people is as important to him as his perverse notions of Social Justice. And so the real American victim in this whole episode is trust: because of Obama's obfuscation, misdirection and dismissiveness U.S. citizens now have even less faith in their government.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Two Religious Companies: Firefox and Hobby Lobby

I have removed the Firefox browser from all five of my computers and smart devices. No great loss; it wasn't my default browser on any one of the machines, and I replaced it as my third-string browser with Opera. I did this because I oppose the hypocritical intolerance of the Progressive/Left elitists wherever I encounter it. I usually have no connection to these Liberal Fascists (see Jonah Goldberg's book of that title here), but in the case of Firefox owner Mozilla, I did have a connection. So I can act, and publicly encourage others to do so.
Firefox parent Mozilla, a non-profit, fired their CEO for heresy.


Much has been made of Hobby Lobby not being a church, notably by Attorney General Holder and other Obama Regime acolytes. While that tautology is self-evident, I'm not sure the same can be said of Mozilla. These tech companies often say they want to change the world (Apple most famously), pronouncements I'd always thought were harmless corporate gobbledegook. I don't think that anymore.

In this most recent dust-up, the first place I noticed signs of religious fanaticism was the Mozilla press-release announcing Brendan Eich's "resignation." If you didn't already know the CEO had resigned under pressure from the Mozilla board, you would think the statement by Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker was a defense of why the company had decided to keep him. It was confessional in tone, included a recitation of Progressive Dogma du jour (it is always changing), and these two paragraphs of Magical Thinking:


Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. 
We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, 
culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, 
sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. 
Mozilla supports equality for all.
We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture 
of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to 
share their beliefs and opinions in public. This is meant to 
distinguish Mozilla from most organizations and hold us to a 
higher standard. But this time we failed to listen, to engage, 
and to be guided by our community.
That ain't verbal gymnastics, clever wordsmithing or advanced Bureaucratese: it's a reality-defying mantra. It's Progressive Glossolalia, uttered in a state of altered consciousness. If those paragraphs are true, Eich should have been celebrated and held up as a shining example of Mozilla's culture. But they're not true. When the mob (in Mozillaspeak, "community") howled for blood, the tech Sanhedrin convened and decided it was "expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” Diversity, my auntie.

But that was only the beginning. The braying Leftists had to be mollified, and several would-be high priests came forth to lead the Eich Inquisition. The best example is from the sub-literate "Managing Editor" of ValleyWag.com, Owen Thomas, who, prior to the resignation, called on Eich to publicly recant, and make a propitiatory payment (indulgence?) to earn absolution. Evidently Eich refused to renounce his views or his actions, so he was put on the rack for all to see.

I don't at all agree that Eich's First Amendment rights were violated. The government didn't shut him up, and he still has a right to speak his mind. Nobody has a constitutional right to work at Mozilla, and their board can (presumably) fire the CEO for any reason or no reason. And hence the connection to Hobby Lobby. Just as the government can't force hair-on-fire Progressives to keep employees who disagree with their Corporate Values, the Feds must not be able to force Conservative companies to violate their Corporate Values, or pay a fine for doing so. I hope at least five Supreme Court Justices agree with me.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Darren Aronofsky's NOAH

When the guys in my Men's Sunday School class go around the table taking turns reading from Genesis 6-9, each of us is "picturing" the Noah narrative in our own mind. The fellas can't see what I'm seeing and vice-versa. But when a Hollywood director makes a movie based on those chapters, we'll all see what he sees, which will inevitably differ from the movie in our heads. When he's a Jewish Atheist that picture could be a LOT different.


Russell Crowe as Noah . . . tryin' to figure it all out.
And yet we've been seeing trailers and clips for months now, with images that actually look quite familiar to us: there's a man named Noah, with a wife and sons Shem, Ham and Japheth. There are cities filled with violence, an ark, a bunch of animals lining up to enter, a lot of rain, waters bursting up from the ground and a planet-wide flood. Yep, he's telling the same story.

The first thing Aronofsky's movie is about is a ruined world. There are striking images reminiscent of some recent post-apocalyptic movies (Book of Eli, Oblivion). Then we meet Noah's idyllic family living off the land. He witnesses a small miracle, and starts having these dreams . . . which are not pretty. He is confused and decides to take his family on a pilgrimage to consult with his grandfather Methuselah. Enroute their attempt to avoid humans almost succeeds, but they manage a narrow escape into a nether-zone where they encounter Nephilim (whom Aronofsky calls Watchers), who first kidnap, then assist the family.

In rapid succession the plans for the ark become clear to Noah, trees for construction miraculously appear. Soon humans notice the project and come a-calling. Conflict rises to a crescendo as storm clouds gather. And yet the central drama of the film turns out to be Noah's unexpected conclusion about why all this is happening. He thinks it's only about saving the plants and animals, reasoning that his family is no less evil than those who are about to drown. He believes they ought not reproduce, and the earth must be kept pristine for all living things except humans. This turn of events feels authentic, thanks to Crowe's soulful performance, and forces changes in Aronofsky's narrative involving wives for Noah's sons. But old Methuselah has a surprise up his sleeve, which provides gut-wrenching suspense during the months onboard the ark.

This dramatic mainspring keeps the story tightly wound. While miracles were happening to facilitate building and filling up the ark, Noah was confident and serene. But when the door closes and the screams of dying humans are heard outside, his dreams stop and he fabricates a grand finale that sounds almost logical, but is horrific to his family. He autocratically contends that his new notion was part of God's intention all along. By this time even a life-affirming miracle can't take him off his tangent.

Noah's internal struggle, which divides him from his own family, is a fascinating study in religious conviction versus self-delusion. It is a theological rumination on the nature of good and evil, complete with vivid, detailed and recurring flashbacks to the Garden of Eden. This movie contains many references to the Mark of Cain, and shows that even the wicked city-dwellers understood their descent from the heights of intimacy with the Creator to the depths of their current depravity. In short, this is no spin-off allegory, but a layered and earnest retelling of the earthy, ugly, tragic story of a world destroyed by God.

Those Christians with checklists will find some boxes to mark in the column labeled "Diverges from Genesis." The Nephilim play a bigger role here than in the text. Aronofsky doesn't play out 120 years of ark-building, making Japheth still a teen when the deluge comes . . . leaving the human headcount aboard the ark a few short of the Biblical passenger manifest. Genesis compacts Noah's 950 year lifespan into four short chapters that can be read in about fifteen minutes. Aronofsky has spent $115 million making a two-and-a-half hour movie, whose investors insist must conform to cinematic structure (ie: 3-Act Drama). It is a truism that the book is better than the movie . . . except that a novel is over 40,000 words, while Genesis 6-9 barely adds up to 2,000 words (a short story is supposed to be 4,000 - 7,500). Two thousand words? That's an article or an outline. Filmmakers always take liberties with the text of their source material, and couldn't make a good movie doing otherwise.

Darren Aronofsky's NOAH may not be a great movie, but it is an important movie. It is an ambitious movie that takes scripture and God and sin and morality seriously. It is a visually and aurally impressive film that will give your home theatre system a real workout. It is a well-written, directed and acted motion picture that does what it must do: transport us into another world for over two hours. But only if we are willing to suspend our disbelief.