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Archive for the ‘Spoiled Hollyweird Children’ Category

When I was still a mushy-headed youngster working on my B.A. in Political Science at the University of Michigan, the department’s resident Communist got to assign a bunch of reading to me (I’ve forgotten more about the history of the Soviet Union then I ever wanted to know) but she also had to get her licks in with works that were also critical of the US.  One of those books was The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, by William Appleton Williams.  I won’t bore you with a synopsis of what it was about.  Rather I’ll simply admit that I modified the title for this post.

I wrote a while back about how society has been seduced by a show of emotion, rather than actual action, and the sacrifice that it requires.  In that piece, I was pointing out how it had become in vogue to demonstrate the nouveau “moral” superiority, which doesn’t require the courage that characterizes actual morals.  But, as we are wont to do, we have upped our game.  How?  Hashtag diplomacy.

It started a few weeks ago, with people from the State Department tweeting messages about Ukraine with hashtags intended to be catchy.  Sure, it was ridiculous, and stupid, but I guess the relative lack of change to Russia’s intentions and actions in the wake of yet another speech from President Wonderful caused some desperation at Foggy Bottom.  And as every highly trained and experienced diplomat knows, aggression and indifference to once-great powers will ALWAYS be stopped dead in its tracks by a really smart person tweeting a bon mot coupled with a super-serious hashtag.

But this weeks round of hashtags in response to the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria by members of Boko Harem (a terrorist group that another super smart diplomat named Hillary Rodham Clinton refused to classify as a terrorist group when she headed the State Department) were both irritating and infuriating.

It started with the First Lady making a duckface frown and holding a sign with a #BringOurGirlsBack.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  The idea that people who kidnap girls, slaughter entire villages, and engage in slavery will somehow be swayed by such a moronic photograph led me to wonder…is she really so arrogant to think that this will change ANYTHING, or is this just more posturing…showing just what a great person you are and how much more YOU care, because you sacrificed a moment of your precious time being a scold to us to take a picture with a sign?  But when the celebutarded got in on the act, it was unmistakably clear how they took the message.

The worst part of this isn’t the arrogance of a First Lady who fancies herself to be the second coming of Evita Peron. It isn’t professional diplomats who act like they’re twentysomethings who like fresh out of community college and stuff.  It isn’t celebrities making useless and empty gestures that make me want to punch them in their smarmy little faces.  It’s the fact that bothering to say anything at all when you clearly aren’t willing to DO anything about it, and take the risk that come with really making a stand tells the rest of the world that we’re a nation of weak and ineffectual navel gazers, which is really only true of our cultural and political elites who congregate on either coast, but in so doing, they invite attacks, which will sooner or later, require the rest of us to put our lives on hold to fight the threats that this shallowness invites.  And it is the fact that such nonsense will require an even greater sacrifice from those who don’t engage in it that is the real tragedy of hashtag diplomacy.

#IWantToHaveAdultsInChargeAgain

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What a great week.

We get a Supreme Court ruling on DOMA that WILL be used to attack the exercise of the First Amendment in a “historic” and “unprecedented” way, thanks to a remarkably intemperate ruling written by Justice Kennedy, who decided in his ruling in the DOMA case (United States v. Windsor) that the only purpose in opposing same-sex marriage MUST be malicious, which will be used against churches and religious organizations by a cabal of Christian Derangement Syndrome sufferers and the pink swastika wearing rainbow warriors of “tolerance”. Not content with this decision, the court also issued a ruling on the Prop 8 case (Hollingsworth v. Perry), in which the court came to the rather curious conclusion that you can have standing to be sued, but not have standing to defend against a suit. Such legal alchemy is no longer shocking to me, but the bigger implication of this suit is far more stunning. The net effect of this ruling is that the people of a state can use the initiative process to make laws that their elected officials WON’T, and if their governor and their attorney general refuse to defend against legal challenges, then the proponents of the initiative don’t have standing to defend against those same legal challenges. The silence from the usual defenders of “democracy” is disappointing, but predictable.

After the ruling was released, I was sure I heard the sound of hands rubbing together in Olympia, as the Governor and the Democrats in Olympia are making plans for the next session when the Senate can’t stop them, and they can tax to their grubby little hearts’ content, and then fail to defend a trumped-up lawsuit against an initiative telling them “No.” It will be even less trouble than having the courts do them a solid on overturning our $30.00 license tabs…again, and again, and again.

Then we have the “Tale of Two Apologies”. The first is Paula Deen, a southern cook, with a show on the Food Network and various franchises and a pending cookbook, who admitted in a deposition to having used a racist slur 30 years ago, driving the grievance pimp and race hustling industry into overdrive. Within a week, she lost her show, every business relationship she had, and her publisher dumped her on the cusp of publishing her latest cookbook, despite having given an unnecessary apology for the sin of saying a word frequently used and glorified by members of the supposedly aggrieved class. Incidents like this, and the now infamous Imus incident are proof that Eric Holder was right about us being unable to have an honest conversation about race in this country. When words are only off-limits to one class of persons, and the ones who aren’t restricted are allowed to destroy the careers of those restricted class if they admit to uttering “Voldemort” in the distant past, no honest conversation about race is possible. But at least Jesse Jackson got a few extra moments in the limelight when he offered to help Deen with her “rehabilitation”, so at least his lucrative franchise preserving this perverse status quo will be maintained.

On the other hand, we have Noted Thoughtless Pig, Alec Baldwin, once again launching himself on a gay-slur (I refuse to say “homophobic”, as it would indicate fear, and given what he said, I don’t think he fears gays, I think he holds them in contempt) laden Twitter tirade against a Guardian reporter who made some unflattering allegations about Baldwin’s wife’s behavior at James Gandolfini’s funeral. This isn’t the first time that Baldwin’s Tweeting thumbs have caused him trouble, as he’s tweeted racist slurs before. However, unlike Deen, who said “Voldemort” 30 years ago, when I last checked, Baldwin still had a cushy gig with Capital One, and hasn’t been fired by any of his other employers. While Anderson Cooper and Andrew Sullivan noted the apparent lack of outrage for Baldwin’s rhetorical diarrhea, he seems largely to have gotten a pass, despite the apology which makes claims that are incongruous with his tweets.

I’m not in favor of people having their lives and careers ruined over things they say. That doesn’t mean I’m adverse to speaking out when I think what they say is wrong, dangerous, stupid, etc. I do think that DEMANDING that people being cut off from their means of making a living because they said something that offended someone smacks just a little too much of thought policing for me to be comfortable with. It’s one thing to have no truck with people who offend you (or those who employ them), but it’s quite another to have the expectation that others must share your outrage, and participate in a particularly brutal (and arbitrary) form of collective punishment, which is to be arbitrarily and selectively applied by those who set themselves up as the judge and jury of such socially criminal acts. My contempt is reserved for the deciders who pretend to be guided by such principles as “civility” and a cockeyed notion of “fairness” that only they can mystically discern, according to a subjective standard that we mere mortals are terminally incapable of recognizing, let alone grokking. This contempt is also reserved for the mindless numbers who surrender their own discernment with nary a taxed brain cell to these morally bankrupt clods who have usurped an authority that they prove themselves too hypocritical to objectively wield when they allow such a disparity of outcome in two such similar public faux pas. I could be crass, and suggest that the lesson here is the same one more artfully demonstrated by George Orwell so many years ago in the classic “Animal Farm”, when he observed that “Some animals are more equal than others.”, a concept that seems to have escaped (I hate myself for even using this terminology) “the gay community”, which has struggled so long to enact a dubious and dishonest notion of “equality”, and was given a major victory in this campaign this week by the courts. Instead, I will say that an apology IS owed to someone, and in the great progressive tradition of claiming authority not conferred upon me, I will speak for America when I say:

“I am sorry, Paula Deen. I’m sorry that you believed in the notion of a “post-racial America”, uttered by a President that you voted for, when what he, and many in his party meant was a “Reverse-racial America”, where only white people can be racist, and any excuse to render such a verdict and execute sentence will be pursued by our “betters” in the media, and where your celebrity won’t be enough to protect you, since you failed to write checks to the “right” interest groups. Welcome to Bizzaro World.”

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Or two tales of tyranny over talk, both with origins in Caul-i-forn-ya, the land of fruit and nuts, where you can have it all, and your neighbor will be the one billed for it…at least until they move away.

First up is actor Steven Webber, who very recently opined:

The scale of Right Wing sociopolitical sabotage necessitates a Nuremberg-scale trial for all the corporate agents and treasonous capitalisto-fascist architects of our democracy’s current and most pressing misery. From the blatant Republican policy doublespeak emanating from think-tank sponsored word doctors to the outright obstruction and lies expectorated by Republican congressional representatives and senators, the very concept of governance can only be considered once the culprits are removed. Driven to real madness by unadulterated greed they have embraced an ideology, the success of which hinges upon the very ruin of this nation.

Disagree with the party in power?  Then you deserve to be tried and convicted by a jury of those who believe they are your betters.

As an idea, I can’t say it is remarkably original.  Dictators and tyrants have used kangaroo courts for centuries to determine that those who don’t see it their way are silenced.  What makes this funny, while still sad, tragic, and slightly demented is his accusations that Republicans are somehow the pawns of corporate agents and treasonous capitalisto-fascists…and yet says NOTHING about the green energy giveaways to companies that take our money, then go bankrupt, without any consequence to those who profit from it, and his silence on GE’s chummy relationship with the Obama administration.  Still, if he were smart, then he wouldn’t lament the greed of those who want to KEEP their money while turning a blind eye to those who have been actively fomenting the envy and class warfare that have been growing under this administration’s careful husbandry…the envy and class warfare that divide a nation, and empower those who want you to believe that the only reason you don’t have the trappings of wealth are because those that do aren’t transferring enough of their wealth to you.  Still, such attitudes are often hallmarks of the mobocracies that are the end result of democracies like the ones that the President would like to fundamentally transform our republic into. 

The worst part of this is that if you believe in the exponential nature of stupidity, Mr. Dimbulb McPretend-For-A -Living isn’t the only one thinking that freedom he is enjoying shouldn’t be available to others who oppose his views, which is why those of us who have personally witnessed the unfathomable power of stupidity in large groups have no interest in further abrogating our Second Amendment rights, and also understand why we might “NEED” a magazine that holds more than seven rounds, or a firearm that has numerous utilitarian and tactical features.  I suppose we should thank him for displaying his totalitarianism so plainly, and demonstrating progressivism’s fundamental weakness, that being that it will brook no criticism, because when pressed, it cannot be defended, but instead, I’d prefer a lengthy explanation of why he isn’t brave enough to face an opposing viewpoint in the rhetorical arena with argument, or at least a “spirited debate”.  It’s the kind of thing that casts pretty strong doubt on the legitimacy of any of the left’s calls for a “national dialogue” on any exercise of freedom they’d prefer to squelch than see you exercise.  But enough of the visible tyrant looking to intimidate those he’d rather not face, and on to those who are open with their “SHUT UP!”, and try to justify it with a crass emotional pandering that is no friend of logic. 

Recently, professional golfer Phil Mikelson pointed out that the emperor has no clothes, inflaming the minders of the envy class when he mentioned in public that a combined federal and state income tax burden of 62-62% was taking just a bit too much of his earnings and that he might have to move.  Notable for his reaction to this, sports commentator Roland Martin came rushing to government’s rescue with this remark:

 “But here’s the deal: 98% of the country is saying “Phil, Shut Up.”  They would love to make $40,000,000 a year, they would love to win a golf tournament and make a million bucks.  He was right when he said “I should have kept my criticism to myself.” because he looks like a whiner.  And here’s another piece:  When he goes and plays in a golf tournament, you know what he wants?  He wants people out there to buy tickets to see him play.  He wants them to buy his golf clubs, and the clothes he wears.”

Yes, Roland, he does.  And whether you like it or not, he is a draw.  And as such, people will get paid to park cars for those who will come to see him play.  They will buy concessions from people at the courses.  They will rent local hotel rooms, and eat in local restaurants, and shop in local stores.  I know this.  I witnessed it at the Buick Open at the Warwick Hills Country Club in Grand Blanc for YEARS.  And when he plays well, people will want to buy his clubs, and his clothes, and those will in turn create more jobs.  He might not be a great businessman.  Many pro athletes aren’t.  But if he’s getting sound advice, then he has been told that taxes in excess of 60% are too high.  It takes away his incentive to do all he can in terms of business ventures, because at some point, government thinks he’s just made enough, so it is entitled to take what he’s earned and spend it inefficiently, and give it to groups and causes that he might NEVER decide to spend his own money on, some of which he might he diametrically opposed to. 

But the biggest disappointment is when Mikelson decided that he needed to apologize for speaking the truth.

My apology is for talking about it publicly, because I shouldn’t take advantage of the forum that I have as a professional golfer to try to ignite change over these issues.”

“I think it was insensitive to talk about it publicly to those people who are not able to find a job, that are struggling paycheck to paycheck,” he said.

Why Phil?  Why does having the public’s attention because you’re a golfer disqualify you from speaking on the very real effects of bad policy decisions?  Why are you under such restraint when actors like Steven Weber and any number of other entertainers aren’t above using their celebrity to offer far less substantial, factual, or reasonable opinions with the clear intent of persuading their audiences.

And the idea that it is somehow insensitive to point out that confiscatory tax policy will lead you to make significant decisions for economic reasons is silly.  While those same people would undoubtedly like to have those problems, it never hurts for them to know that no matter how much money government will take from those “rich” people, it will never create the opportunity, or be multiplied in the same way as that money would if it was left in the economy.   Government may pay you a few more weeks of unemployment, but it can’t create a job that isn’t dependent on taking from someone else.  But the more insidious effect of this type of shutuppery is that while it may silence people like Mikelson, it can’t and won’t stop them from voting with their feet anyway.  And as Caul-i-fornians have been discovering, when enough of the “rich” leave because they’re tired of getting stuck with the check all the time, it doesn’t take long before you learn that you and your neighbors are the “rich”.  This could be avoided if we could have honest “conversations” and “dialogue” about such things, but instead, all we’ll be left with is some cynical pearl clutching, and the increasing cost of the welfare state sucking up opportunity and imposing the equality of misery.

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Sadly, subtlety is a lost art among the privileged denizens of Hollywood.

This means that as a result, sometimes when we seek entertainment, even when we know we might not agree with the message, we are instead disappointed with wasted potential, and bloodied by a point of view that you cannot begin to seriously consider because of the over-the-top delivery so weighed down in cynicism that you cannot even begin to believe that the messenger believes it.

And its a shame, because I wanted to like this movie.  I really, really did.

The movie follows Brand Hauser, played by John Cusack, who is a character not unlike Martin Blank of Grosse Pointe Blank.  Like Blank, he was trained by the government to be a killer and to eliminate problems.  And like Blank, he left government service, but unlike Blank, he went to work for a huge multinational corporation, headed by a former US Vice President, played by Dan Akroyd. 

The film opens with a brutal and blatant hit inside a bar in Iqualit.  It is clear that Hauser is starting to feel the weight of his demons as he struggles to suppress his emotions about what he does for a living.  Before long, he is discussing it with the disembodied voice that comes from the on-star-like device in all of the corporate vehicles he uses.  

Hauser’s next gig is “producing” the corporation’s trade show in the capital of Turaqistan so he can get close to and kill Omar Shariff, the country’s President, who is trying to build an oil pipeline through his own country without the “help” of the ubiquitous corporation.  On this journey, we are treated to flashbacks which slowly unfold the story of how the hot sauce guzzling hitman came to work for this corporation and walk through life seemingly oblivious to the ridiculous circumstances that surround him.

His mission gets bogged down, despite the best efforts of his right hand (wo)man, Melissa Dillon, played by Joan Cusack.  He soon finds himself distracted by a comely leftist reporter, played by Marissa Tomei, and a middle-eastern pop-starlet played by Hillary Duff, both of whom start to turn Hauser around to face his many demons head on.  Yes, you’re right to think that this sounds very similar to Grosse Pointe Blank.  But frankly, it is nowhere near as good.

The problem is that WAR INC is so wrapped up in shrieking paranoia about the “military-industrial complex”, that it pushes the storytelling aside so that it can preach to you, and it doesn’t even succeed at that, because the story itself is so very unbelievable.  The movie succeeds when Cusack and the other scriptwriters let the characters be human.  One resonant moment was when Hauser finally lures his target to a hotel room, thinking he will get a chance to bed the beautiful reporter, but finds himself on the wrong end of Hauser’s gun and takes a moment to wax poetic about the situation.

Ah Hauser, love does get one into difficult situations.  We’re in a constant state of war, Hauser. We kill our brothers, complete strangers, the guilty and the innocent. We are at war with our own hearts. Love is a cease-fire that’s destined to fail. But, as I said, it does get us into tricky situations… sometimes the back of a garbage truck.

This movie has some genuinely funny and touching scenes, and some of the clever dialogue that you might expect from Cusack playing a hitman.  But it falls short of being anywhere near as good because where Blank walked away and reclaimed his soul, Hauser became human again, and did nothing with it.  There was no redemption and the characters were all callously thrown away after the sermon was completed.   Every bit of the story was too outrageous to be believable, whereas anyone who grew up in the 80s and felt alienated could identify with Martin Blank. 

WAR INC is what happens when people who act for a living want to become political moralists.  If you want to see an enteraining film about a hitman, put Grosse Pointe Blank in your DVD player, and spare yourself the wasting of approximately 2 hours.

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…just busy.

Lots of stuff, including litigation, and while there is a lot going on politically, I really haven’t been motivated to say much. Just waiting to see how much voter fraud tampers with the righteous curbstomping the Dems are getting come November 2.

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…and then back to “The Big Project”.

1.  Michael Jackson.

I had to leave work early today to assist a family member with something, so I got to listen to some of Hannity’s show.  He was busy commenting on the outpouring of grief for the ‘entertainer’ when people who actually do important things for society do not get a public expression of grief remotely close to the hours and days of coverage that Michael Jackson received.  I might have been able to muster a strong “AMEN BROTHER!” to his comments, but they rang a little hollow after the coverage last week, where it appeared to me that the only person on FOX in the evening who was bothering to talk about the news was Beck.  Aside from that, I can sum my feelings up thusly:

Michael Jackson was an entertainer.  He was not the second coming.  He was not a civil rights pioneer, and the only person who ever oppressed him was his father.  The nonsense and PDA for someone who was an entertainer, and in my opinion, not an entertaining one, is not appropriate, is not “touching” (a word I would try to avoid if I were truly a fan), and not even embarrassing.  Disgraceful is a better word.  Not even a year ago, this entertainer was considered to be washed up.  He was considered to be a freak for decades.  Nasty allegations and unsavory charges clung to this person like nettles on Labrador Retriever.  The only press he had received in a decade was unfavorable.  Now his legacy is whitewashed as “inspiring”.  He is a hero.  Phhhaaaaa!  If he is the posterchild for inspiration and heroism, then recall our troops.  Let them, and the everyday people who REALLY touch lives build a new home for a people worthy of their everyday sacrifices and dedication, because if Michael Jackson is the pinnacle of American Aspiration, then we aren’t worthy of what the everyday heroes this nation produces do for us.

2.  Sarah Palin.

Thank you. 

Thank you for sticking your finger in the eye of the elitetocracy that feels only they are fit to rule.  Thank you for exposing the fact that these would-be emperors have no clothes.

Thank you for enduring the lies, the slanders, the venom and the vitriol.  Thank you for showing that a woman doesn’t have to forego being a mother to have a career.  Thank you for demonstrating that a career woman can be smart, and chose to be conservative.

Thank you for showing so much class in the face of the ‘anonymous’ criticisms of the Grumpy Old Guy’s staff who are too silly to see that the ONLY reason he did as well as he did was because he was smart enough to put you on the ticket.  He and his handlers really don’t deserve that kind of grace and cool in exchange for their betrayals, but thank you.

Thank you for providing the Silent Majority of Americans, the ones who get up and go to work every day so this country keeps functioning, a voice on the national stage that wasn’t just mouthing the words, but had the real life experiences to back them up and make them legitimate.

Thank you, and I hope that if you choose to return to politics in the near future, we “out here” get the chance to support you.

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A question for the self-appointed cognoscenti who keep using their soapboxes to tell us how “stupid” Sarah Palin is:  Why do you keep telling us?  Out of all the “important” things you could be lying and dissembling about, why do you keep spending precious time on preaching to us about how dumb she is six months after the election?

Also:  Keith Olbermann foaming at the mouth about her stupidity?  That is an extra special moment.  Its so rare as an adult to watch the class dunce making fun of the kids who haven’t been held back.  Besides, its the only reason to watch the sad sack.   What are are your ratings now, Keef?  A point oh one share?

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