I’d rather have started 2006 with a humdinger of a post, attacking some leftist lunatic, or lecturing conservatism on how wrong it is. But politics is just plain dull at the moment, and other current events are decidedly unworthy of Voice of Reason comment, or of podcasting.

So let me just touch base on a few things that have sparked a little interest for me recently:

1) David Cameron, the new Leader of the British Conservative Party, appears to be about as conservative as my stools are regular. This guy is a joke: he loves the socialist National Health Service, and thinks it would be great if government tackled the environment, “work-life balance” (?), and international development. In his speech to The King’s Fund last year, Cameron admitted that he was going to drop Howard’s brilliant “patient passport” policy. This policy was the best the Conservatives had devised; it would have allowed any citizen to take their taxes and opt-out of the nonsensical public system to go private, if they wanted. The position of the Blair government, and, now, also of the ‘Conservative’ opposition, is one of the most arrogant, presumptuous and condescending I have seen. In short, the British public have an interesting choice next election: a Blair government which doesn’t let you make your own choices, or… a Blair government, which doesn’t let you make your own choices. Good luck.

2) Howard Stern’s recent move to the government-free, content-unregulated Sirius Satellite Radio is unprecedented. His battle with the FCC strikes a chord with me, as it should with any lover of freedom. You don’t need to like Stern, enjoy his style of radio or even find what he does morally acceptable to join his fight against government force. One of the straws that broke the camel’s back for the FCC was Stern’s baloney-on-the-butt game, in which naked girls would bend over and slices of baloney would be thrown onto their posteriors for points, on live FM radio. Personally, I find that hilarious. But YOU don’t have to. And that’s the beauty of freedom: the same freedom guaranteeing Stern his right to play the baloney-on-the-butt game also guarantees your right to turn the radio off. What it does not guarantee is any entitlement to force Stern, under ultimate threat of jail, to comply with your view of decency. The FCC have gone far enough – lets fight any attempt on their part to follow Stern to satellite subscription radio with their coercive, freedom-killing regulation.

3) “Gorgeous George” Galloway has finally proved the magnitude of just how serious a political figure he actually is, by appearing with various other Z-list celebrities on Celebrity Big Brother. ‘Nuff said.

4) A couple of controversial movies have been in the news. Eli Roth’s ‘Hostel’ is about backpackers who get kidnapped in Eastern Europe in order to fuel a sick torture fantasy for paying customers. It is controversial because it contains a huge volume of graphic violence. And ‘Brokeback Mountain’ is a Western about two cowboys in Wyoming. It is controversial because the cowboys are gay lovers. As those who are regular readers of this blog will know, I am no stranger to controversy. But let me tell you why I won’t likely be going to see EITHER Hostel or Brokeback Mountain. No, its not because the libs love both of them. And no, its not because I wish to align myself, in a rare move, with the conservative right on moral issues. It’s because both of the offerings are trying to blow smoke up all of our collective asses. The critics have fallen over themselves about these movies, glowing with glimmering incandescence…. and I’m just not really certain why. Sure, both films are reported to be finely shot and expertly produced, and, yes, I guess it has been a while since I experienced vicarious torture. I could be wrong, but the glow of this heavenly celluloid appears to be merely surface-deep. What’s so great about Brokeback Mountain? Well, its about gay cowboys! Doesn’t that say everything? And Hostel really freaks you out! Isn’t that enough?

Trust me, if I wanted to watch two men flirting and sit through an endless supply of derivative torture, I’d watch David and Tony on Prime Minister’s Questions.

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John Wright

johnwright@softhome.net