I have been remiss, as I have not reminded you lately that WOW! Magazine, the collaborative effort from the Watcher’s Council is an excellent resource for domestic and international political analysis, social observations, top-rate Second Amendment commentary, and just generally good stuff. If you were to go there now, you’d see all of these articles:
A Progressive friend is relentlessly pushing “Trump is awful” stories on me. I, a conservative, invariably counter by pointing out that Hillary’s list of sins and failures is infinitely worse.
I realized yesterday that my arguments are irrelevant. My friend will never vote for someone who is not 100% pro-abortion, pro-socialized medicine, or pro-open borders. Given a choice between a rotting dead body that is pro-Abortion and a genuine angel from Heaven that is pro-Choice, he’d vote for the rotting body every time.
Even as we endlessly talk down the other side’s candidates (because few people are really comfortable talking their own candidate up in this bizarre election year), what really matters is the ideological divide underlying this election. The following list might help you decide on which side of that divide you live. Once you decide, do remember that you will never get people to accept your candidate, no matter how flawed their own candidate, until you get them to accept your ideology.
WOW! Magazine, like the Watcher’s Council itself, is a collaborative effort. That means we all publish — and we all publicize. The latter task is a pleasure because I like the thought of sharing with you all these wonderful posts by my fellow Council members. It’s an especially great pleasure on a day such as today when I got calls from so many friends and family members that I didn’t make it to my computer until quite late in the afternoon. Knowing there are people who value my company offsets the stress for me — compulsive writer that I am — of not blogging.
- Barack Obama: Dangerous Transformation
- No Guns For You!
- Unarmed, of course does not mean what the Cult of Gun Control thinks it means
- Hillary Allows Kids To Ask Her Questions — At $2,700 apiece!
- One More Great Reason Not To Buy Anything Here Ever Again
- NYC: J’Ouvert, West Indian Parade Violence leaves 2 Dead, 5 Wounded.
- Obama Judicial Appointees: ‘Murder Jews, No Harm, No Foul’
- Of Course! Obama Gives Thumbs UpTo 49er Kaepernick’s ‘Protest’
- Why yes, I did do my part to increasing gun sales this past month
And again, the current plan is to add to the site a section in which we link to articles by non-Council members that we think you would enjoy.
Gun control proponents have a problem. Irrefutable data shows that, since 1992, as American gun ownership has gone up, crime has gone down. When pressed about the dramatic decrease in crime, the best that the Left can do is to point to anything but the increase in privately held weapons:
Possible reasons for the decline include the country’s high incarceration rate, an aging population and an increased use of security cameras and cell phone videos capturing incidents.
If gun grabbers were forced to grapple with the fact that the increase in guns tracking precisely with the decrease in crime, they’d also have to acknowledge that all the aging Americans, the imprisoned Americans, and the video cameras are irrelevant. Why? Because if more guns really meant more crime, as they insist, the 300 million guns in America today would more than offset age, imprisonment, and video.
The fact is — as even the CDC was forced to admit — that guns are used defensively as often as 1.2 million times a year. This short John Stossel piece gives a very down-and-dirty explanation for the fact that, while guns are a problem when they’re in criminal hands, they’re not a problem in the hands of law-abiding citizens (and, in America, most citizens are law-abiding or at least non-violent):
So what do you do if you desperately want gun control, but the data refuses to cooperate? Well, I can imagine Lucifer and his chief minion having a meeting that goes something like this:
The scene: A well-appointed office in Hell. Satan, in a snazzy red suit is seated behind a heavy oak desk. Standing in front of the desk, facing him, is Jezebeth, a pimply young demon, who’s one of his primary Earth operatives. The year: 2009.
Again, my apologies for a quiet day. Between finalizing some matters relating to my Mom’s estate, relatives in from out-of-town, and just a touch of existential despair about the news, I either didn’t have time or heart to blog today. I do however have wonderful posters. This illustrated edition is dedicated to the Second Amendment. I happen to think it’s the most important Amendment as a practical matter because, without it, American citizens have no way to ensure that the government respects any of the other Amendments:
Part of why Andrew Breitbart was such an explosive presence in the conservative community was because he fully appreciated that “Politics is downstream from culture.” People’s attitudes flow from the culture around them, rather than from the political platforms dragged out and speeches made every four years. That’s why I think it matters when a popular romance novelist writes books that dismiss PC-identity politics, recognize that there’s nothing wrong with young people working and struggling to get ahead, and actively promote guns (including concealed carry) as a way for women to stay safe.
Before introducing you to those novels, let me digress a bit to explain why romance novels matter when it comes to popular culture. Those who are not romance aficionados may be unaware that romance novels are the single biggest book category sold in America. Good times or bad, romance fans will scrape together the money to get their fix.
If you’re hoping to write a book that sells, take a gander at these statistics: By 2013, it was estimated that sales for romance novels would be around $1.08 billion, accounting for 13% of all adult fiction. Of that $1.08 billion in sales, 39% of romance novels are sold as e-books, with paperbacks coming in second at 32%. (In addition to cheaper prices, e-books have the lovely advantage of hiding the often tawdry covers that are attached to even the classiest books.) Those are some darn impressive numbers.
Romance novels come in all sizes and flavors. You can get short stories, novellas, stand-alone novels and, with increasing frequency, novels that ostensibly stand alone, but are actually part of a set. This means that Boy 1 and Girl 1 get together in Novel 1, but you’re also introduced to Girls 2, 3, and 4 (or maybe Boys 2, 3, and 4), with the promise that later novels will move these peripheral characters front and center, and show you how they too found romance.
If you happen to like a particular writer, you’ll willingly shell out money for the whole series. Moreover, publishers (whether self-publishers or publishing houses) have figured out that, if Novel 3 needs to be marketed, one of the best ways to do that is to offer the e-version of Novel 1 for free and Novel 2 at a discount. Once hooked, and desperate to know what happened to “all the other characters in the book,” your customer will willingly pay full price for Novel 3 and for all subsequent sequels, assuming the author is able to keep the writing fresh and interesting.
Fresh and interesting count for a lot in Romance Novel Land. The reality is that all the novels are fundamentally identical: boy meets girl, boy and girl go through travails, boy and girl end up happily ever after. The freshness and interest come in devising a meeting and putting them through the travails.
As an author, you have to begin by selecting your romance genre, of course. The major categories are Contemporary and Historic. Within those two overarching classifications, though, there are endless subsets: Suspense, Regency, Pirate, Western, Military, Scottish, British, Americana, Futurist, Murder Mystery, BDSM, Gay/Lesbian, Billionaire, Millionaire, Ditzy Heroine, Hard Boiled Heroine, Accomplished Heroine, Dead Heroine, Haunted Heroine, Psychic, Witty Plot, Emotional Plot, and on and on and on and on and on. . . . Moreover, you also have to figure out whether, when it comes to sex, your book will be “sweet” (something my friend Judith Lown does so well), frisky, or “I wouldn’t let my teenage daughter read that.”
After you’ve figured out your genre and subgenre, well, then it’s all up to you as a writer. I’ve tried more than once to write a romance novel, but I just can’t do it. I don’t have the knack. For the foreseeable future, I’ll stick to political and social commentary, not that I’m complaining about that today, mind you, given my “serious brainpower.” (Doug Ross, incidentally, is my new and forever favorite person.)
Because I’ve found it impossible to write a romance myself, I’m always impressed by those writers who do it, and do it well. Some of the really well-established writers are Georgette Heyer, the grand dame of sparkling, witty, charming, delightful Regency romances; Linda Howard, who specializes in strong women loved by even stronger men; Lisa Kleypas, who writes good mid-19th century British historicals, and truly excellent contemporary novels (my favorite is this one); and Jayne Ann Krentz, aka Amanda Quick, whose prodigious output includes historicals, contemporaries, and futuristic, all of which involve accomplished women and slightly buttoned-down, but highly complementary men who fall in love while solving crimes.
Those are just the authors who pop easily into my mind. With romance novels having been hot sellers since Jane Austen, the list of authors is staggering and, thanks to e-books, growing by the minute.
Oh, and there’s one more author — the one who actually gave rise to this post: Rosalind James. Remember how I said earlier that one of the best marketing devices is, when e-novel 2 is published for full price, to entice people by marketing e-novel 1 for free? That’s how I stumbled across Rosalind James. When Book 2 in her eight (going on nine) book series about New Zealand rugby players was published, her first book — Just This Once (Escape to New Zealand Book 1) (which is still being sold at a low 99 cents) — was suddenly offered for free. I can never resist free books that might entertain me, so I gave it a spin. I liked it, and I started looking for James’ books.
In addition to the New Zealand books, some of which are better than others, but all of which are at least somewhat enjoyable, James has written two other series: One is about three siblings, the Kincaids; and the other, most recent series, is about life in Paradise, Idaho. Two of those books contain some pleasant surprises. The first surprise comes in Welcome to Paradise: A Western Reality Show Romance (The Kincaids Book 1), which as of this writing is being offered for free; and the second is in Carry Me Home (Paradise, Idaho).
The premise in Welcome to Paradise is that the contestants are living as if they’re 1885 homesteaders in the Midwest. They show up in pairs (siblings, parent/child, married couples, unmarried couples, Hollywood bimbos) and the girl from the unmarried couple finds love with one of the male siblings. The book works well at many levels. The main characters are likable, the secondary characters are surprisingly well-developed, the historical details are delightfully accurate, and, aside from the inevitable “boy gets girl,” the plot is original and interesting.
What really revved my engine about the book though, is how strongly it comes out in favor of traditional values. The competitors are “diverse” (white, black, Hispanic, Jewish, gay), etc., but James actively resists allowing her characters to mouth PC pieties. That’s how readers get a bit of interesting dialog when James introduces Stanley and Calvin, black father/son duo:
“My son Calvin,” Stanley said, gesturing to a smaller, much leaner version of himself standing nearby, his expression less amiable than his father’s.
“The token Black men,” Calvin said. “It’s just us and the Latinas, I guess.” He nodded to two women talking to an older couple nearby. “Minority Number Two.”
“You think the four of us are the only people of color who applied?” his father asked. “And yet they selected us, us four individuals. Nobody’s asking you to represent your race, just like nobody’s asking Mira here to represent hers.”
“Pop,” Calvin sighed. “You don’t really believe that.”
“That’s how I choose to look at my time here,” his father corrected him. “I can’t be fussing about what anyone else thinks.”
(James, Rosalind (2013-04-11). Welcome to Paradise (The Kincaids) (Kindle Locations 309-316).)
Stanley also turns out to be a former Marine, as well as an all-around good guy. Score one for James.
James also earns big points from me because she really doesn’t like the academic crowd. She has nothing but disdain for her two crunchy organic types, Martin, an anthropology professor in Boston, and his wife Arlene, a textile designer. James has a very good ear for how this type sounds:
“Martin Deveraux,” the man, thin and fortyish, said.
“And Arlene Filippi,” the heavier dark-haired woman next to him cut in. “We’re from Boston,” she went on. “We’re keenly interested in the negative impact that modern technology has on personal relationships and family dynamics. In fact, we’ve set up our own home as a technology-free zone, and we try to keep our children’s life simple too. No TV, no video games, no iPods,” she said proudly. “When we heard about this show, we felt it was the perfect chance to truly experience life as our great-grandparents lived it, and to model that simpler lifestyle for the rest of the country.”
(James, Rosalind (2013-04-11). Welcome to Paradise (The Kincaids) (Kindle Locations 358-363).)
When Stanley chastises his son, Calvin, for using crude language in front of the women, he and Marin have a polite discussion about the way a man should treat women respectfully. James leaves no doubt that she sides with Stanley on this one:
“I learned why they call cowboy boots shitkickers,” Calvin grimaced, prompting a rueful laugh from every man but his father.
“Language,” he growled in his deep rumble. “Ladies.”
“We’ve heard the word,” Arlene protested. “It won’t burn our tender ears.”
“Calvin would never have said that word in front of his mama,” Stanley countered, “and you wouldn’t want her to hear you say it now, would you, son?”
“No,” he muttered. “Sorry.”
“You don’t feel that kind of double standard is really another way of infantilizing women, part of the patriarchal belief system that’s kept them from full participation in society?” Martin asked, seeming genuinely interested.
Stanley looked at him in amusement.
“No, I surely don’t. I’d like to have heard you call Calvin’s mama infantile, or try to keep her from participating. Where I’m from, you don’t use that kind of language in mixed company, that’s all.”
(James, Rosalind (2013-04-11). Welcome to Paradise (The Kincaids) (Kindle Locations 637-646).)
Welcome to Paradise also stands out because James seemingly has no problem with guns. On guns, Martin and Arlene, again, are the voices of academia and elitism and, again, are politely disabused of their Ivory Tower notions. This bit of dialog takes place when the contestants assemble to learn basic gun handling:
“Can I just say something?” Arlene interjected.
“Go right ahead,” John [the instructor] said resignedly.
“Martin and I would prefer to sit this out. We’re pacifists, and we’re not comfortable handling a weapon. We wouldn’t shoot anything anyway, so there’s no point in our learning.”
“You planning on telling ol’ Mama Grizz you’re a pacifist, when she comes for you?” John asked. “Or when a pack of wolves shows up? You can call yourself anything you like. They’ll just be calling you dinner.”
“Bear attacks are extremely rare,” Martin snapped. “And there’s never been a documented case of a wolf attacking a human in the United States. I read up on it before we came.”
“Have the bears and wolves signed your mutual nonaggression treaty?” Kevin [the gay man] asked innocently. “And what about livestock? Have wolves been given a bad rap on that too? Or do your rules of interspecies harmony require us to share our cattle with them?”
(James, Rosalind (2013-04-11). Welcome to Paradise (The Kincaids) (Kindle Locations 866-874).)
Now, it’s entirely possible that James wrote about guns as she did because she was aiming for historical verisimilitude. After all, the real pioneers in 1885 couldn’t haven’t managed without their guns, so the show would necessarily have to use guns no matter how distasteful that could be to modern sensibilities. After all, disarmed vegans had a short life span when it came to homesteading. However, between Arlene’s and Martin’s pedantic, judgmental opposition to guns, and Kevin’s funny, logical reply, I came away from Welcome to Paradise, feeling that James is okay with guns.
Any doubts I had about James’ support for the Second Amendment were ended when I read Carry Me Home. Prof. Zoe Santangelo, the heroine, is a hydrogeologist who ends up being stalked by a rapist. Her love interest is Cal, a former pro football player and farmer. The setting is a small college town in Idaho.
I was less than thrilled when James’ moved her plot forward by repeating at some length the canard that every one out of four or five young women on a college campus can expect to be sexually assaulted. After all, if this were true, no parent in his or her right mind would ever send a daughter to college. I forgave James entirely, though, when she wrote the following passage, which takes place as Amy, a young woman attacked by the rapist, Zoe, and Cal are entering the campus police station:
“Personal Weapons: Secure Storage,” Dr. Santangelo read aloud from the sign over the door to the right of the reception desk. “Does that mean the officers’ personal weapons, or . . . what?” She watched a guy head out of the room, dropping a handgun into his backpack, a uniformed officer locking the door behind him. “Or . . . something else?”
“Oh,” Amy explained, “you’re supposed to turn in your guns for the day while you’re on campus. But I didn’t,” she whispered.
“What?” Dr. Santangelo stared at her.
“I shouldn’t say. Not here. But my dad said to keep it with me all the time.” She shifted her backpack on her shoulder, and now Dr. Santangelo was staring at that, as if she’d never heard of anybody carrying a gun before.
“He was right, too,” Cal said. “You listen to your dad. Make you feel a whole lot better. If he comes anywhere near you, you pull that thing out first and ask questions later.”
“Wait. What?” Dr. Santangelo demanded.
“I told my dad I was supposed to lock it up,” Amy said, “but he said if I never needed it, nobody would ever know I hadn’t. And if I did . . . well, that would be the least of anybody’s worries, that I was carrying.”
“Carrying,” Dr. Santangelo said faintly. “Sounds like some . . . movie.”
“Nope,” Cal said. “Just sounds like Idaho. Figure everybody’s carrying, and you won’t be too far off.”
“Do you know how to use it, though?” Dr. Santangelo asked Amy. “Otherwise, isn’t that really dangerous? I’ve always heard that a gun is dangerous because your attacker can use it against you.”
“Only if he’s not dead,” Cal said, which was pretty much what Amy’s dad would have said.
“Of course I do,” Amy said. “You’re right. It doesn’t do you much good if you don’t.”
“It’s like a whole new world,” Dr. Santangelo said.
(James, Rosalind (2015-06-16). Carry Me Home (Paradise, Idaho) (pp. 142-143). Montlake Romance. Kindle Edition.)
Nor is that the last James has to say on the subject. Later, Zoe and Cal rendezvous with Jim, the sheriff, at the home of Cal’s parents to discuss the stalker/rapist problem. Both Jim and Cal’s father, Stan, have something to say on the subject too:
Jim shoved the notebook back into his pocket and pushed back from the table, the others rising with him. “I sure hope this Amy has something more than a bat next to her bed now. This mutt sounds like real bad news.”
“She said that she . . .” Wait. Should she [Zoe] say? It was against the rules, Amy had told her.
“Be surprised if she didn’t,” Stan put in. “Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson make a pretty powerful argument. If she were my daughter? You bet she would. No way she’d be back here [on campus] otherwise.”
(James, Rosalind (2015-06-16). Carry Me Home (Paradise, Idaho) (p. 181). Montlake Romance. Kindle Edition.)
Bravo, Ms. James, for instructing your readers about the real world, and about the fact that, especially for women, guns are the great equalizer.
What’s really interesting about Ms. James’ stance on guns, political correctness, and the true way to respect women is that she’s based in Berkeley, California. I have a hard enough time in Marin County being a conservative. How in the world does James survive with those views?
I’ve written before about romance novelists who have strong pro-Second Amendment themes in their books. Given romances’ popularity, and the fact that politics flows downstream from culture, I think it’s incredibly important that we conservatives support those authors who tactfully, but strongly, use the most popular genre in America to stand up against Leftist gun-grabbing misinformation.
So, if you’re in the mood for some romance during these short winter days, think about buy a Rosalind James or Linda Howard book. Or check out Lisa Kleypas’s Smooth Talking Stranger, whose male romantic lead is an unabashedly old-fashioned guy who loves to go out hunting.
(If you do find yourself heading over to Amazon to check out one of those books, or to buy anything else for that matter, please consider using one of the links on this page to get to Amazon. If you do that, and if you make a purchase, a penny or two of that purchase ends up in my money jar.)
San Bernardino shooting.
I’m still not going to start discussing the “meaning” of the San Bernardino shooting. I’ll just list the dots:
1. 14 people were slaughtered in a shooting in San Bernardino yesterday, with another 17 wounded.
2. The two shooters were Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27.
3. Farook was born in the U.S.
4. Malik was born in Pakistan, but most recently lived in Saudi Arabia before coming to the U.S.
5. Farook’s father identified him as a devout Muslim.
6. Farook attended the party that he and Malik later attacked, and left after a dispute.
7. Farook and Malik returned to the party a short time later, heavily armed.
8. Heavily armed means: They were armed with .223-caliber assault rifles and semiautomatic handguns, at least two of which were purchased legally. I read somewhere (and can’t remember where), that the quality of the firing indicated that some or all of the weapons were functioning on fully automatic mode.
9. Farook and Malik were also heavily protected, wearing full body armor and GoPros to capture the carnage.
10. Farook and Malik also brought three bombs to the shooting site.
11. Initial reports of Farook’s and Malik’s home indicates that it was a bomb factory, complete with IEDs and remote-controlled cars. In other words, while a fight may have triggered the slaughter yesterday, Farook and Malik had long been preparing for something big.
12. A neighbor knew something whacked out was taking place in Farook’s and Malik’s home, but did not report it for fear of being seen as racist.
13. Although the shooting is technically purely a local matter, the FBI immediately became involved in the crime scene.
14. The media continues to be mystified by the shooting.
15. Obama has identified the culprit: The Second Amendment
16. The media has fallen in line with Obama and, while mystified by the shooters’ motive, are demanding gun control laws that would have done nothing to stop Farook and Malik.
Those are the dots. You may connect them any way you wish. Also, feel free to leave additional dots — i.e., facts only, no speculation — in the comments.
America’s Obama malaise
Jimmy Carter was rightly reviled for leading into his own re-election campaign by saying that the country he’d been governing for three plus years was suffering from “malaise.” That’s not an inspiring incumbent campaign slogan. However, it might be exactly the right one-word eulogy for America today.
“Malaise” is an interesting word. The online etymology dictionary’s entry on the words origin reveals how the word describes a deep feeling of things being terribly wrong:
c.1300, maleise “pain, suffering; sorrow, anxiety,” also, by late 14c., “disease, sickness,” from Old French malaise “difficulty, suffering, hardship,” literally “ill-ease,” from mal “bad” (see mal- ) + aise “ease” (see ease (n.)). The current use is perhaps a mid-18c. reborrowing from Modern French. A Middle English verbal form, malasen “to trouble, distress” (mid-15c.), from Old French malaisier, did not endure.
I thought of the word “malaise” in connection with Obama’s presidency when I read Daniel Henninger’s WSJ opinion piece today, pointing out that Obama will not be leaving the country in bad shape; he’s leaving the country in appalling shape:
Whatever Mr. Obama promised in that famous first Inaugural Address, any sense of a nation united and raised up is gone. This isn’t normal second-term blues. It’s a sense of bust.
The formal measure of all this appeared last week with the release of the Pew Research poll, whose headline message is that trust in government is kaput. Forget the old joke about the government coming to “help.” There’s a darker version now: We’re the government, and we’re here to screw you.
In a normal presidential transition year, voters would be excited at the mere prospect of new leadership. Instead, the American people are grasping for straw men.
Liberals think the right is gloating at Mr. Obama’s end-of-term difficulties. No one is gloating. The nation is either furious (the right) or depressed (the left) at eight wasted, wheel-spinning years whose main achievement is ObamaCare—a morass.
Mr. Obama will go off to do something else, but he leaves behind a country littered with public and private institutions in disrepute. Whatever the cumulative causes for this, a president bears responsibility for maintaining some bedrock level of respect for institutions that are the necessary machinery of the nation’s daily life.
The New York Times trains its guns on Cruz
You know Ted Cruz is gaining traction when the New York Times trains its guns (rhetorical ones, of course) on him. This time, it’s an article by Frank Bruni, theater critic turned political pundit, and one of the hardest Left of the Left at the NYT. I don’t feel like dignifying the article with a link. Bruni’s shtick is that Cruz is unfit to be president because many in Congress dislike him. He’s “divisive.” He can’t work with people. To which I say Bullshit. (And yes, my feelings are running high if I swear.)
We already know that Ted Cruz works just fine with people. The problem for Ted in the Senate was that he had two choices: abandon his conservative principles upon being elected in order to be popular with the RINOs and Democrats; or stick to his principles, demand that Republicans live up to their campaign promises, and accept being reviled by the spineless congressional Republicans. He chose the latter path. No wonder the NYTs fears him.
If the Left wants a militia, let’s give them a militia
The Left insists that the only way that anyone in the US can have guns is if there is a well-regulated militia. (Never mind that it’s apparent from historic records that the Founders meant that all citizens should have ready access to arms so that, if a threat arose from within or outside of the U.S., they could quickly turn themselves into a citizen army — precisely as they did to counter British tyranny.) But let’s assume the Left is right. Steven Hayward suggests that we call the Left’s bluff:
The “militia” at the time of the Constitution was generally regarded as every able-bodied adult male. Since we cannot have police or even private security at every location where a terrorist or mentally ill person might turn up, how about we start a program encouraging Americans to sign up in large numbers to be state militia members, involving a short course in gun safety and threat assessment. Then instead of having signs at schools and malls and elsewhere declaring a “Gun Free Zone,” we’d have signs saying “This facility protected by state militia members.” We’ve already gone a small step in this direction with the decision, several years ago, to allow airline pilots to carry their own firearms in the cockpit.
Yes, yes, I know: we already have a “militia” after a fashion in states with concealed-carry permits, and gun safety programs are what the NRA is all about. (Incidentally—has there been a single instance yet of a mass shooting by an NRA member? I’m not aware of one. Yet yesterday Martin O’Malley went out of his way to suggest the San Bernardino shooting was the NRA’s fault.) But why not make this a formal part of our national counter-terrorism policy, so that the kind of attack that happened at the Paris music hall two weeks ago would be impossible here?
That sounds like a clever idea to me. What do you think?
Last night, I saw the new James Bond movie, Spectre. I enjoyed it, although I must admit that it lagged in places. The fight and chase scenes, however, were spectacular, and they went a long way to make up for the slow parts. I’ve also come to like Daniel Craig’s Bond. I didn’t at first — Craig is a funny looking guy, despite those amazing blue eyes — but I’ve come to enjoy his tightly-coiled, muscled Bond, which is much closer to the character in the original books than the other Bond actors have been.
Daniel Craig and the fight/chase scenes notwithstanding, Andrew Klavan observed correctly that the movie fails at a very fundamental level because it doesn’t reflect real-world concerns:
But more than that, as with last summer’s Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation (a much better movie) — and with the last three Star Wars flicks (much worse), Spectre suffers as a result of the deterioration of American values since the original source material was made.
The Bond of Dr. No, like the Ethan Hunt of the original MI TV series, like the Luke Skywalker of the first Star Wars trilogy, knew what he was fighting for and what he was fighting against. The story — all those stories — took place with the presence of the Soviet Union and Red China in every viewer’s mind. We knew they were slave states who wished to impose their brand of slavery — called communism then, progressivism now — on the entire world. We knew we needed brave men and strong ideas to defeat them.
Where oh where could we find such villains today? Who holds to a slave philosophy now? Who wants to impose that philosophy on the rest of us? Why are they evil? Why should we oppose them?
The answers are 1. In the Middle East; 2. Islamists; 3. Also Islamists; 4. Because individual liberty is an objective good; and 5. Because if good men don’t fight evil, evil wins.
The people who make these movies live in a haze of such intellectual dishonesty that they have forgotten, or chosen to ignore, these answers. They aren’t honest so they can’t write honest plots. Their villains have no motives and their master plans are confusing where they’re not just laughable. Their heroes are merely an assemblage of characteristics from an earlier age: empty images that move and talk a certain way but have no virtue and so no power to thrill. They are, so to speak, merely spectres of their former selves.
I think, though, Klavan missed one very real issue that the movie did address, and that’s the fact that our governments spy on us constantly. This is especially true in England, which has more cameras per citizen, I believe, than any other First World country. George Orwell would not be pleased. Given the English setting, it’s not surprising that a strong theme in the movie is a technocrat’s efforts to create a massive, worldwide information database drawn from all cameras and telephone calls trained on every individual. It may not be Islamists, but it’s a problem, so the movie isn’t completely in la-la land by recognizing it. (For those who like exotic locales, England’s not the only place the movie shows. It travels the world, with an especially strong opening sequence set in Mexico City.)
The other thing I liked about the movie — and I won’t develop on too much lest I give away a few fun plot points — is that the movie is like an NRA advertisement. Bad guys have guns and the only way to deal with them is when the good guys have guns. Indeed, there are two scenes in which guns are front and center. In one it’s made clear that, even if one doesn’t like guns, they serve a useful and necessary purpose. In another scene, it’s made just as clear that the mere fact that someone has a gun doesn’t mean that the person will use it. Guns are tools. Whether they are safe or dangerous depends on the user, not the tool.
For current events, Spectre gets (as Andrew Klavan said) a “B.” For gun rights, though, I give the movie a strong “A.”