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Archive for May, 2014

Jonah-HexBefore I get started, I have to confess that before I watched this movie, I was prepared to hate it.  The reviews that I was aware of were brutal and punishing, and knowing the treatment that many DC characters had gotten on the big screen, it wasn’t difficult to believe that once again, the Hollywood treatment had messed up yet another in the comic company’s vast pantheon of heroes. I forgot that critics make their bones not by fair reviews, but by bruising ones.  Jonah Hex isn’t The Dark Knight, but it isn’t Green Lantern, either. First, let me say that I was surprised at who was in this movie.  I recall that when it came out, much was made of the inclusion of Megan Fox in the cast.  I’ve never been impressed with her acting skills, or the unscripted words to tumble from her lips, but neither one of those things is why she is cast in movies, and she appears to have been cast in this film for precisely the same reason.  John Malkovich plays the villain, a Confederate general who decided in the late days of the war that civilians were legitimate targets, and who killed Hex’s family in front of him after Hex disobeyed Malkovich’s order to blow up a hospital, and killed Malkovich’s son, who was also his best friend, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, after he drew on him.   Other familiar faces in the cast include Will Arnett, Michael Fasbender, and Adian Quinn. The movie opens with Hex, played by Josh Brolin, explaining how he found himself to be better at waging war than he had expected, until he’d made a decision to abide by his conscience, and what that decision had cost him.  That decision also left him with one foot still stuck in the afterlife, and the ability to talk to the dead…a skill that comes in handy in his post-war career as shadowy bounty hunter with a price on his own head.  We soon learn why his own head carries a price, as his aimless existence once again becomes focused when he learns from agents of the US government that the man who took everything from him, played by Malkovich, wasn’t dead after all, and with the aid of a doomsday weapon never built by the Federal government, means to finish the war with the destruction of Washington D.C. on the Fourth of July. The film proceeds to from confrontation to confrontation until Hex finally gets it right, and rids himself, and the world, of his old commanding officer, earning himself a pardon, and an interesting job offer, from the President, played by Aidan Quinn.  I enjoyed Josh Brolin’s portrayal of Hex, a disfigured man shaped by the brutality of war and the loss of his family, who seems at peace with the unusual ability to talk to the dead, and his quick and sometimes humorous responses to the dead, and to the living who are about to join them.  I am aware that this film is sometimes compared to the truly awful big screen adaptation of Wild, Wild West, which I can only assume is because of the doomsday weapon Malkovich intends to use against Washington D.C.   I understand the comparison, but it isn’t a fair one.   The acting is better, the script is more coherent, and Jonah Hex is paced much better than Wild, Wild West. In closing, this is not an edifying film.  You will not become a better person because you watched this movie.  It is not uplifting, although the ending makes clear that Hex understands that he has been given a second chance.  It won’t change your life, and you won’t rave to your friends about how great it is.  But it is a fun movie to watch while eating popcorn, and not taking it, or yourself, too seriously.

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1.  Getting up early and being informed is for suckers.
The nice thing about being President is that your daily calendar is published for God and the whole world to see.  The bad part is that everyone can see that the current occupant of the West Wing doesn’t do that much.  Maybe everything George W. Bush’s fault six years into the new administration because he actually started his day before 10 am, and actually attended security briefings.

2.  At no time was anyone in the Obama Administration actually aware of what the Obama Administration was actually doing.
It doesn’t matter what the issue is.  Gun running to narco-terrorists south of the border?  Nope, they knew Nussink! One-size-fits-none “health care” in the VA being rationed to the point of death? Thank you television news for bringing it to our attention.  IRS targeting of groups with opposing political affiliation? The Devil you say! (These aren’t the emails leading to the White House that you’re looking for) An ambassador and his defenders attacked and a President MIA while those brave Americans died calling for help?  Damn that film maker for posting a movie that the jhadis probably didn’t have any means to watch anyway!  We took over a car maker in bankruptcy, but at no time were we aware of any mammoth manufacturing defect for which we fined the car company a record fine for attempting to cover up, while we were the ones owning the company.

3.  Every situation and scenario can be adequately addressed with a furrowed brow and a stern condemnation.
No matter the crisis, no matter the problem, no matter the failure of the person who asked us for the job twice, the answer is the same.  Words of outrage, a furrowed brow, an empty gesture.  I’d pay real money to hear someone, anyone in the White House Presstitute Corpse ask Spokesclown Jay Carney why the empty suit who keeps saying “I will not rest until…” has to take so many vacations and starts his day so close to Noon every day.  What would be better is if that is followed by another member of the Presstitute Corpse following up by channeling Inego Montoya by saying “He keeps saying “I will not rest until…”, but I don’t think that phrase means what he thinks it means.  I don’t see bags under his eyes, and they don’t appear to be bloodshot, either.”

4.  If a problem isn’t solved by throwing money at it, then the only answer is to throw more money at it.
The pResident who campaigned on fixing the problems with the VA made sure that more money got put into the VA, and in the face of some questions from the Presstitute Corpse on the continuing failure of the VA, his spokesidiots are quick to point out that he’s made more spending on the VA a priority throughout his tenure.  That’s it.  The only tools in their toolbox are to say that they are “Mad as hell” and throw more money at the problem.

5.  Accountability is a word to be spoken when campaigning and in front of microphones when your failure can no longer be concealed.
But at no time does it ever mean that someone should actually lose their job because things went wrong and people died on their watch.   Because if such a thing were to happen, someone might get the idea that the buck should actually stop with the occupant of the Oval Office, and then he’d have to pay for his family’s extravagant lifestyle.   But as a famous member of this administration once famously asked “What difference does it make?”

6.  There is no lie too big, too stupid, or too insulting to say in an attempt to deflect deserved criticism and anger.
At no time has this administration ever acknowledged the first rule of being in charge, which is that EVERYTHING is your fault.  In the magical world of the Obama Administration, government is the answer to every question, and when government fails, it is:

(a) George W. Bush’s fault;

(b) Your fault, because you have some misguided notion that government’s authority is actually limited because it cannot hope to do many of the things it attempts in a responsible and efficient manner;

(c) ATM’s;

(d) George W. Bush’s fault; and

(e) Someone, anyone else’s fault…be it a film maker, or 1/2 of 1/3 of government…anyone but the person who asked to sit in the big chair and be the chief executive.

7.  Laws are for other people.
I’ve written extensively about the lawlessness of this administration, and how we are only a nation of laws when they can be applied to opponents, not members of the administration, and their own ultra vires activities…a legacy that is corrosive to society, because it correctly creates the impression of selective enforcement and punishment, and because it fosters a contempt for the law and legal processes as a means of peaceful dispute resolution.  These are hallmarks of a banana republic, not a constitutional republic.

8.  You don’t have to deliver results.
All that matters is that you convince people that you just care more than the other guy.  Which is why this administration doesn’t deliver results (well, that and the fact that they have no idea how to do so), but they do a hashtag selfie better than any other government in the world.

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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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