Wednesday, February 10, 2016

FX Channel : People Versus OJ Simpson

The second episode of FX Channel's People v. OJ Simpson wasn't as good as the first one, my full recap of which can be seen here: Episode One 

I expect there will be better to follow.  In this second episode, the car chase was obligatory but it went on almost as long as the real thing. I watched a few hours of the real thing when I'd returned home from my job that day.  This second episode added some scenes which you couldn't get from watching the real thing.

Throughout the car chase, Simpson is depicted as having a revolver to his head the entire time, crying and whining and say gee whiz oh my how can this be happening to me?  Well, you slaughtered two people, dummy, and you were being treated like a crown prince.  This celebrity treatment is made very clear in the episode and that is good.  My opinion of the suicidal scenes is that they were exaggerated, and I wonder now about Jeffery Toobin's book upon which the series is based.  There is often a chasm between book and film so likely Toobin didn't exaggerate or dramatize as the FX production did.

Here's the thing though.  Simpson might have thought of killing himself (if only) but a better guess is that he had a flair for the dramatic and was already trying to present a defense for himself. He was a very public guy, accustomed to being worshiped, very full of himself (and rightly as a football player) and also very violent and given to self-indulgence. Short way to say that I found the suicide scenes very fake, prolonged, and maudlin.  The love-fest among his family and friends while he's piling down the highway with AC was also gag-producing, though you may forgive close members of his family, who would be certainly bereft.

Anyway, the car chase over, we can get on with the story, an interesting one from both a legal and a social standpoint.  The Johnny Cochran character is well cast and John Travolta does a highly entertaining Robert Shapiro.  Kardashian?  He looks good, real, nice job there and a good mock-up of the Kardashian brand.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY CHANNEL’S STEVEN AVERY: INNOCENT OR GUILTY?



 I believe the evidence is irrefutable that Steven Avery murdered Teresa Halbach. But what did the ID Discovery Channel have to say about it in their January 30 one-hour special devoted to the crime? 

One of the more miraculous feats of the TV presentation is how Investigation Discovery presented in one hour  most of the information contained in the 10-part Netflix series “Making of a Murderer.” And far more.
As a long time armchair crime fighter, I’m glad I didn’t waste my time watching the extended version.  ID Discovery presented a great deal more information than Making of a Murder co-creators Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi had, and in far less time.
To learn why Steve Avery's defense counsel is tilting at windmills, click right here:  ID Steven Avery is Guilty

Friday, January 22, 2016

John Ridley's American Crime : Preparing for the Storm


 RECAP:  Frustrated with the stonewalling of Leyland school headmistress Leslie Graham,  Anne Blaine goes first to the police and then to the newspapers.
She’s announced to anyone who would listen that her son was raped at a party celebrating the basketball team’s success. The party was hosted by Kevin LacCroix, a black teenager from a wealthy family.
Headmistress Leslie Graham is worried more about the reputation of the prestigious private school than she is for Taylor Blaine, the alleged victim of sexual assault. Class privilege, sexual identity, and race are all part of the combustible mix of ingredients that form the basis for the series drama “American Crime.”

REVIEW AND RECAP AMERICAN CRIME 2.3

EPISODE 3:  The Times-Herald newspaper has sent a reporter to get the story about the alleged sexual assault of Taylor Blaine at the exclusive Leyland private school. Taylor’s mom tells the reporter she doesn’t want her kid’s name in the news so the reporter must work around that limitation. There are major problems at the LaCroix house when Kevin LaCroix, age 18, is mentioned in the story.  Kevin’s enraged dad stops short of throttling Kevin who insists he had nothing to do with whatever really happened to Taylor Blaine.
The Times-Herald reporter goes to the headmistress to get the school’s  version.  Leslie tells the reporter she took action to suspend team co-captain Eric, and then engages in a bit of victim blaming. The kid (Taylor Blaine) had no business binge-drinking, she says.
One of the many things contributing to the popularity of the series is the clever way it’s presented. Lots of in-your-face close-ups, foreboding off-screen voices, jarring camera shots all contribute to a feeling of audience unease. This kind of cinematography can sometimes wreck a film or make it seem pretentious, but here the austere documentary style is consistent and works to advantage.  Whoever’s directing the camerawork has the right intuition, knowing when to pull back as well as when to put you up close.  It’s all very uncomfortable, of course, just as things can be in real life.
To read the entire review, click here.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

AMERICAN CRIME S2 E2: HE KISSED A BOY

Nolasco’s performance last year as a vastly misunderstood black man in love with a white drug addict was positively searing. You have to give this American Crime series credit for not ducking some of the most disturbing aspects of American society but be forewarned. This is far removed from relaxed and comfortable TV viewing. The challenge in all this, of course, is to maintain a balance and avoid becoming a sermon on the mount or an extended therapy session....

Read my complete review of episode 2 of the new season here: American Crime.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Mariel Raines, Superhero: A Short Story of Love and Terror


Mariel Raines actually met Abdel Houte only once. You might have thought they would have met sooner since they lived in the same apartment house in Brooklyn.


Big cities were like that – cold, impersonal, teeming with life, hermetically sealed. People locked into their shrink-wrapped lives. City dwellers pop up and down into subway platforms like gophers, appearing one moment, disappearing, reappearing again. You didn’t know their names, you didn’t remember their faces, you didn’t smile at them or say anything because it was safer to be stuck in your own life and safer yet they were stuck in theirs.

On occasion, but very rarely,  you might recognize someone you’d seen before in the same coffee shop, the same laundromat, the same night club or grocery store or subway platform but it would mean nothing, nothing at all.  People were all walled off from each other in their loneliness.
As for the people who lived in the same apartment building you lived in, you generally knew nothing about them. You couldn’t even match their names or faces with the apartment numbers on the bank of buzzers at the entrance to the building. People moved in, others moved away. New tenants often didn’t bother to change the names on their apartment buzzers or used assumed names with good reason. There were people whom you thought it might be nice to meet but you couldn’t somehow. You whisked past them on the brownstone steps or maybe you watched them sadly through the one window of your apartment that had a view of the street as they walked to the subway.

Then there was the case of Mariel’s mystery man, the hunky guy who seemed to show up nearly everywhere that Mariel went. That was the name she gave him – mystery man. She spotted him at the supermarket, the bank she used, the coffee shop she favored, even the medical building where she got her annual checkup. It was creepy and exciting, and raised bumps on her skin. Mariel once found herself standing next to him at the subway ticket kiosk. Mystery man turned toward her. A shiver went through Mariel when their eyes locked. Mariel’s heart fluttered. It seemed for a fraction of a second that they might finally speak. But the man nervously broke eye contact, looked away as if he’d done something wrong. Mariel stiffened as she moved past him toward the turnstiles. After that rare close encounter, she never saw him again, never wanted to.
A second great coincidence of city life was that Mariel Raines of 1630-A Apt. B-3 Flushing Ave once did manage to meet Abdel Houte of 1630-A B-26 Flushing Ave. They were thrust together in one of the great happenstances of city life, as if manipulated by invisible hands.  But who was Abdel Houte?

Not one of Abdel Houte’s teachers would have described him as a genius. His community college grades were marginal. He loved numbers but kept that talent hidden. With his thick black hair, overgrown at his ears and neck, he was neither good looking nor particularly unattractive. Abdel Houte’s was a face suspended in an unremarkable purgatory of urban faces. His closest friend was his cousin Murad, a brilliant and engaged student who had skipped a year of high school and was enrolled at MIT.
Still, Abdel wasn’t stupid so much as he was opposed to people he didn’t understand. When he failed to graduate and dropped out of community college, his mother explained: “He only does what he wants to do.”
What Abdel wanted to do was to have money in his pocket.  His reasoning, in that regard, had much to do with the influence of Murad, who had stayed in touch with relatives in Tunisia. These relatives were merchants, had established a thriving grocery chain and export business operating throughout the Middle East and Europe. There was talk of expanding operations in the United States beginning in New York. It was in consideration of a future opportunity that Abdel decided to pursue a career in the grocery business.

Abdel Houte found a job with Halal Hayat, a Middle Eastern grocer with stores in Brooklyn and Queens. But though the owners of Halal Hayat were bearded and devout, Abdel was disappointed they seemed unwilling to share their private lives with him. Feeling left out and mistrusted by his bosses, Abdel quit Halal Hayat and found employment with the Egyptian owners of Al-Gadana Meat and Grocery. When weeks later he found out that were but Coptic Christians, he quit Al-Gadana and tried unsuccessfully to get on the unemployment rolls. He was furious when he received a letter denying benefits. His cousin Murad was home on a semester break and explained the legal reasoning contained in the form letter.
            “It says, Abdel, that you cannot collect unemployment benefits if you voluntarily quit your job.”

            Abdel needed no further proof that the machinery of the western world was out to get him. Murad waited until his cousin’s rantings abated, and cautioned him against jumping to conclusions. Murad’s warning had no effect on the hand that ruled the world, the hand  which had already concluded that Abdel Houte of Apartment B-26 would meet Mariel Raines of Apartment B-3, just down the hall. But who was Mariel Raines?

            Mariel Raines was brilliant but that was usually the last thing you noticed about her. So many other adjectives came to mind when anyone first met Mariel.  For Mariel’s intelligence had always been eclipsed by her striking physical beauty.

Following the path of least resistance, therefore, she became a popular but mediocre student who excelled in gymnastics, soccer, and basketball. She was tall, well-proportioned, with fine long muscles. Though she was aware that people were attracted to her, Mariel believed the attentions bestowed upon her were exaggerated and would occasionally respond with a short list of her faults.
“Look at my mouth, Janice,” she vamped for the benefit of her friend. With two fingers on each side of her mouth, Mariel would pull her lips apart to reveal healthy pink gums that were, in her own self-image, slightly more prominent than her teeth. “I’ve got horsy gums.”
“Yeah, whatever. Horsy gums. Sure, first thing guys do is pull your lips apart like that,” Janice said.

“It looks like I’ve got my mouthpiece in,” Mariel persisted. “That’s what Jarod says anyway.”


Janice sighed aloud. “Do you have to filter everything through Jarod?”

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This short story, of which you have just read an excerpt, can be purchased and read for $.99 cents. You can afford $.99 cents, can't you? And then you may want to put in  another two cents worth by writing a short review.  Good? Bad? Indifferent?

Buy it here:  Mariel Raines, Superhero

WOMAN IN GOLD – THE FAMOUS KLIMT PAINTING’S FANTASTIC JOURNEY

At the burial ground of her sister, Maria Altmann , played by the legendary Helen Mirren, confides to a friend that she needs a lawyer to look into some legal issues pending with regard to her sister’s estate. It so happens that this friend has a son, Randy Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), recently graduated from law school, loaded with debt, and looking for a job.
Woman in GoldRead the Review -- click here:  Woman in Gold

Sunday, December 20, 2015

CHILDHOOD’S END THE CHILDREN – S1 E3 FINALE

RECAP:  At the end of Episode Two of the 3-Part series “Childhood’s End,” the children have this strange, faraway look in their eyes.  “What is happening with our children?”   Clearly, the alien world has an interest in them, for purposes that are yet unknown. Peretta demands that Karellen come clean and divulge the secret purposes he has kept from the earthlings. When he refuses to answer, Peretta grabs Ricky’s shotgun and shoots him. He might have died had not Ricky revived him with the power syringe Karellen has given him to heal his own fatal illness. “Karellen, what happens to the children?” Ricky asks. The episode ends with Amy Greggson giving birth to Jennifer, an infant with those now familiar strangely glowing eyes.  This is the child the Overlords have selected to lead earth to its new destiny.

To read about the 3rd and final episode of "Childhood's End," click here.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Showtime Documentary Film “Iverson”: The Messenger

There are many stories that have little meaning for mainstream America but which have touched countless lives in little known corners of America.   The story of Allan Iverson is one such story. 
  Part of the former basketball superstar’s life story can be seen in the 2014 documentary “Iverson.”  Showtime television presents the documentary primarily for its sports fans, but its resonance is broader than you might expect. It’s an interesting documentary, one worth seeing, and one both heart-warming and heart-burning at the same time.   

It opens at an outdoor basketball court at the Boys and Girls Club Virginia  where pre-teen boys are asked by the filmmaker what they think of Allan Iverson. It’s riveting right away because a couple of the kids announce they are his cousins. Yet the variety of opinions offered by these unabashed little commentators is funny, charming, and revealing of what is to come.

The first thing the kids note is that Iverson’s “got a bad attitude.” Another says, “He’s a good player on the court but I don’t take up for him in public.”  Another complains disapprovingly, “When he came here to talk he didn’t sign no autographs, he just walked off the court.”

There will be some people who, upon hearing this, will be confirmed in their negative opinions of the 11-time NBA All-star player.  For them, Iverson is another one of “those people” who set a bad example for the “youth of America.” But these kids are the “youth of America” and the opinions they have are a reflection of the celebrity basketball star image they’ve gleaned from their parents and the media.

I hit the pause button to look at the faces of the children. Losing the words, you see gleeful faces, puzzled faces, suspicious faces, disinterested faces, and faces grateful for the least bit of attention. Their splintered syntax is right for the neighborhood but wouldn’t pass muster with English teachers in white middle class suburbs. Nonetheless, these boys get an “A” for candor and honesty. Because these kids, like Allan Iverson, are not about appearance so much as they are about “keeping it real.”  “Keeping it real” more or less defines the controversial Allan Iverson.   

The intro scene then fades into a song: “I’m just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh, Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.” The director wants us to take a deeper look, to see if there’s something we missed of the Iverson story.
Iverson’s story is first of all an NBA basketball story. But there is another story behind it, a human story, and one which changed the very nature of the way people see themselves. Why would I, a white, middle-class suburban Republican, be interested in a documentary about a ghetto bad boy basketball star? I guess it’s because, though I have always been white, I haven’t always been a middle-class suburbanite.

I know what the odds are to rise above one’s situation, and I’m also part of the world that loves an underdog. Allan Iverson is the underdog, the rebel, the outlier, the guy who wasn’t supposed to succeed. He’s a basketball Rocky Balboa or an equine Seabiscuit, the gangly horse who wasn’t supposed to win the race against Triple Crown winner War Admiral, on November 1, 1938.

How do underdogs win?  They work harder. They outhustle the field of the more fortunate. They are hungry – often in the literal sense. Or like Buster Douglas, they have one great fight in them, and bring it on the night that will change destinies. Yet like Mike Tyson, Allan Iverson had the sort of life that has unfortunately became too often generic: raised by a single mom in a project house where there was insufficient food and scant electricity.  

I first heard about Allan Iverson while teaching at an alternative high school in Pennsylvania. One of the best kept secrets about the teaching profession is that the teacher gets at least as much education as the students.  My students ranged in age from sixteen to twenty-two. Most were male and nearly all of them had been down by law. I’m not a small man but a couple of my students were huge, big enough and strong enough to lift  me up and throw me out the windows to the parking lot two floors below.

Why that never happened was because of two important things. Firstly, I could summon some serious muscle in a hurry if I needed it. Secondly, my survival depended on knowing where my students were coming from, and in communicating with them in two languages – theirs, and my own.

I taught Language Arts and Social Studies in the conventional way, but in an ‘alternative school’ it was important to have outlets other than the state’s curriculum.  Our basketball court was a good outlet for those times when raging hormones and tribal instincts combined to create potentially dangerous situations. During tense times, we’d convene an emergency impromptu meeting where we’d decide to take them out of the classroom to the basketball courts and let them form teams. The team leaders had Iverson team shirts. Everyone tried to play hard like Allan Iverson. Afterward, we’d return the students to the classroom and pick up where we’d left off.

Attendance at my school wasn’t voluntary; every one of my students had been kicked out of the public schools for drugs, fighting, general rebelliousness, chronic truancy, petty crimes and more serious ones, too.  Allan Iverson was their hero.  He’d had a life that was just like theirs – run-ins with the law.

In an interview with CBS sports, director Zatella Beatty, talks about how difficult it was to get direct access to people familiar with Iverson’s arrest in 1993 for his involvement in a violent altercation with some white youths at a bowling alley. Her California crew were not accustomed to the privations and dangers of the Virginia neighborhoods where they had to film. They had their equipment “taken,” as Beatty puts it, but survived to make this interesting film.
   
 Iverson served only four months in prison, because his sentence was commuted by then governor Douglas Wilder. Later, the Virginia Court of Appeals overturned the conviction for insufficient evidence. The incident stigmatized the seventeen year old basketball and football star and the stigma carried with him into the NBA when it was thought that teams would refuse to sign him. It was all about image for sports in America or maybe, as the Hip-Hop artists of that era would have it: “It’s all about the Benjamins.”

The documentary “Iverson” starts about where the basketball star’s career intersects with an explosion in the music world.  Hip-hop had become prominent as music, and as style, though many people worried that it was destroying America’s youth, that it was promoting gang activity. Maybe it does that, but it’s not all a monolith as some would have us believe. Some forms of hip-hop tell a story, and sometimes it is an ugly true story whether the rest of the world wants to look at it or not.  

In a sad and somber appearance before the press, Allan Iverson announced his retirement from basketball October 30, 2013. “I’m happy with the decision I’m making,” he says, but he doesn’t look at all happy. He looks sad and wistful as the narrator tells us “Allan Iverson could have been the most popular athlete the NBA’s ever had.” Cut to a shot of Iverson speeding down the court sideline and Tom Brokaw saying “You can’t take your eyes off of him.” So there are lots of highlight shots and fan reaction, his popularity in China, and Europe, his appeal across cultural lines.

But then the documentary launches into the low points of Iverson’s career, mainly attributed to his refusal to conform to the clean cut image that creates cash for sports CEOs.  One such low point was when he was thoroughly bashed in the press for missing practices and for wondering out loud why everyone was making such a big deal of it.  Iverson’s press conference opinion so galled the sports world that sportswriters were talking about his “rant” ten years later. At least one writer has since been  plucky enough to dig deeper into why Iverson, many years into his career, missed practices.  Dan Favale, writing for Bleacher Report in August, 22, 2013, reported that Iverson was trying to extend his career, having received that advice from another basketball star, Gary Payton. Payton reportedly advised Iverson to limit time spent in the poundings of practice sessions.

Iverson was asked if the press reaction and national condemnation he received was fair to him. “All they want to do is dig up some dirt on you,” Iverson tells; his host on a television talk show. Many high profile media types piled on. Liberal Chris Matthews felt he must show his contempt for Iverson’s style and personal choices:  “He’s got the reputation for what might diplomatically be called ‘ungentlemanly behavior.’” That was Matthew’s delicate and almost profligate term for people born into situations they couldn’t themselves even survive.

In the many little intercuts of direct interview with the retired Iverson, Iverson narrates as the camera tracks row after row of project houses or small cottages where he remembers, thirteen year old kids hiding bedside dumpsters snorting cocaine. “Chuck, hit that, hit that,” they encouraged him.  “No, I want to be an NBA star,” he thinks. 

The quandary for Iverson and for the wayward youths in the classes I taught was how to get off that hopeless destructive track. People can talk about the neighborhoods, they can throw money into the neighborhoods, but unless you’re in it, you don’t really get it. In Iverson’s case, sports gave him a direction. For my own wayward students, Iverson gave them inspiration and a reason to believe they could do it too.  Some of my students, I know, did manage to break the well-worn cycle of wasted lives. And really, the way things are – “some” mild success is doing pretty well.

There are bitter notes in the documentary but there are plenty of touching moments, too, such as when the filmmakers interview boyhood friend Jamie Rodgers, described by Iverson as  “the only white boy in an all-black neighborhood.”
               “He used to get picked on a lot or whatever and I used to just look out for him to make sure he was ‘aight’,” Iverson says.

 I liked hearing that, that Iverson wasn’t a hater like some of his detractors. I could somehow identify with it. Though I wasn’t the only ‘white boy’ teacher in a predominantly minority populated alternative school, some of my own student quasi-gangsters were looking out for me too. When things got dicey, or when some young man had a meltdown or went postal and started throwing furniture and fists around, some of my kids looked out for me, too.

I sometimes tried to think of who would inspire kids like I had. How much traction could I get by holding up models of success like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet?  No, it was Allen Iverson who taught them the value of hard work. Like Allen Iverson, my guys were having to do as well as they could with what little they had started with. Allan Iverson, for all of his faults, was the perfect messenger for what I needed to do. 

And so I thank him, and also Zatella Beatty for making this story in film.

    




Wednesday, December 16, 2015

CHILDHOOD’S END THE DECEIVERS – PART 2 OF 3-NIGHT MINISERIES

RECAP of Episode one:  The Overlord aliens have arrived on earth with mystical powers and suspect motives. While most of the world is enjoying the benefits of the super beings, there is a growing resistance to them, led by outspoken media mogul Wainwright.  Wainwright has an answer for those who are seduced by the utopian new world order. “You can dress this up in as much hippie-dippie crap as you like, but this is an invasion!” He claims a following of 22 million people, which includes devout Christian Peretta (Yael Stone). The Overlords will destroy God, Peretta says, and she’ll not let that happen. But if the giant demon alien Karellen who appears at the end of Episode One gets his way, there will be no need for religion in the new “Golden Age of Man.”

Episode Two Review and Recap -- click here:  The Deceivers

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

CHILDHOOD’S END PART 1 – SYFY CHANNEL’S ADAPTATION OF THE ARTHUR C. CLARKE NOVEL

Childhood’s End is a science fiction mini-series on the SyFy channel which airs December 14,15, and 16. The promotional trailers described it as one to remember. Think “Battlestar Galactica” and “Star Trek”, says the advert. The series has been praised by erstwhile publications like the Wall Street Journal and has been awarded Critic’s Choice Award by the Broadcast Television Journalist’s Association.
Childhoods End Part 1
How much freedom can you handle? Would you trade your freedom for the promise of a Utopia?  The issue is dramatized in this 3 part series on the SyFy channel -

Childhood’s End  started out as a book by Arthur C. Clarke, one of the big three science fiction writers of the 1950s.It is difficult, even in a 6 hour film, to go over every dialogue line and plot twist of a 224 page book (paperback version) but, after watching the two hour premiere, it sure seems like they tried.
Want to read my entire review? Go to TVEskimo.com or click here:Childhood's End

The Good Wife: Wrap-up -- the Season Finale

The Good Wife television audience complained about last week’s vacant time slot for the show. Some Twitter accounts are bemoaning having to go through the winter without their legal-social satire fix. Well,  tonight’s December 13 episode is the season finale and it’s fair to say the curtain came down on some fine television entertainment. This seventh finale delivered the high concept television that makes viewers want for a new season.

Want to read more? Click here: The Good Wife

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Essay on Meaning and Nothingness in Politics

There’s all this meaningless beehive activity around the polls and the debates but what good is it except for the people who make a living from handicapping political races?  It provides hours of fun for the chattering classes, of course, but it doesn’t make anyone the wiser because the political status quo has remained what it was when Obama was first elected president.

That is to say people are upset, worried, and inclined toward knee-jerk emotional responses to events that few people make enough effort to understand. That is not to say that most everyone could not or don’t have the ability to understand what’s going on. Rather, it is that people don’t’ really want to, and prefer instead to wallow in their comforting emotional tantrums, the obvious down-side of which is that they can be easily manipulated on the basis of these emotions.

 Like victims of three-card Monte, they are always pointing to the wrong card as the ailment and clutching on to bumper sticker slogans as the bromide.  Meanwhile, the meek are not inheriting the earth. It is the loudmouths, the manipulators, the charlatans, and the demagogues who have taken charge, while “the people,” those shuffling, suffering, heterogeneous masses in whose name so much “good” has been proffered, are left to batter each other angrily with small sticks.

The current Republican Party melee is just like the Republican Party melees of the 2008 and 2012 campaigns when candidates and voters were quite willing to knife their brothers and sisters and sabotage their own best chances of winning. Most people who have been paying attention will admit, if not publically at least deep down in their heart of hearts, that both 2008 and 2012 were “can’t lose” elections against an amateur far-left candidate with mini-experience whose best and crowning achievement had been an earlier inspiring speech at a Democrat’s convention.

This was perhaps the first time many Democrats discovered that black people could be articulate and clean, to use Joe Biden’s description of Barack Obama. There was, too, the anti-Clinton wing of the Democrat Party machine led by, exemplified by, and commandeered by the then powerfully influential Kennedy faction.  Do people remember that there was a powerful feud between the Clinton factions and the Kennedyites? 

Barack Obama was the anti-Clinton response to Hillary. What better way was there to prove dominance than by activating the more powerful Boston Brahmin machine with its national and even world-wide tentacles? 

That was only part of it, but the other part of it, the pending collapse of the economic system, also triggered an emotional reaction almost to the level of the World Trade Center attacks. The emotional reaction to the WTC bombings was understood to be justifiable and justifiably continues.  But when the housing collapse and the toppling of the economy followed, people were just scared and sought safety in the herd. They didn’t understand what happened then, and still don’t, and could then and can now be told what to believe about it.  They’re inclined to believe the government line that government saved them instead of the truth that government took care of its cronies, made the taxpayers pay for their mistakes, and ran the country for weeks by the Divine Right of Kings. Even the wizards in Congress didn’t figure it out until years later, and today are little inclined to speak about it honestly.

I hate to tell you but it’s 2008 again, and the country is in some ways in far worse shape. Foreign policy is a shambles, an ugly failed mosaic of confused tiles. We’ve been wallowing along in a fake economy propped up by fake interest rates.  Democrats have been afraid to stop priming the pump because they know that the minute they do that reality will settle in and people will feel the whip come down.

The voices that could reverse our dismal trends are not the ones screaming at you the loudest. There’s a hint for you -- I’m not going to spell it out because if you haven’t learned it after 8 years you won’t get it because I’m telling you. You have to find the truth yourself, not depend upon someone to do it for you.  


Trump Wall Could Be a Shining Example of Deportation Done Right

Hey, listen – I’m totally for secure borders, actually enforcing current immigration policies (not the  sanctuary city Obama style catch and release type), streamlining the sclerotic immigration bureaucracy, et so forth. But some of these GOP candidates have either flipped or are lying when they tell you they “have a plan.” They don’t have a plan. They have a bumper sticker slogan. And they see a gullible, and rightly worried public as an opportunity to advance personal agendas. 

One of the my biggest concerns about the current GOP primary is how much ammunition it will provide to the leftists who are bending the arc of Hillary Clinton’s nomination toward American socialism.  Though he’s not the only populist sloganeer on the dais, Donald Trump has contributed a great deal to that effort, most recently with his “Massive Deportation Force,” which sounds suspiciously like a Star Wars schedule for intergalactic travel.  I think Jeb Bush nailed it when, during this recent FBN debate, pointed out the absurdity of a 1950s style “Operation Wetback.”  But Mr. Trump says his roundup will be done “nicely” so then okay it’s alright we can get on board with it.

So then I’m envisioning this “nice” roundup of 12 million people illegally in the U.S.   I guess the magnificent Trump can easily outdo by ten-fold the one million people sent back to Mexico during the Eisenhower era. I wonder if the 88 people who died in the desert, though, will also be magnified ten-fold. But taking Trump at his word, that he would do this “nicely,” I would ask him some additional questions about developing this “Massive Deportation Force.”

Would this MDP require the formation of another police entity?  Would it have special uniforms or would it wear standard issue military garb? Perhaps Mr. Trump conceives of a plainclothes MDP -- though this would present special problems, too.  Would there be a special salute or handshake so that they could recognize each other?  Would the MDP be in charge of admitting or denying entrance at the various portals of the Trump Wall? The Trump Wall itself needs to be further explored. I would like to see an artist’s rendering of it. 

Surely, a man who boasts of his billions could find a sketch artist to draw a model, a thing that we can see. Then persons like myself might grow to like it, and maybe to improve it. I have to admit I was negative about it when first I heard, but then the utter glory of a magnificent Trump Wall began to stir my spirit.  It is a way of one-upping the Chinese who built that so-called “Great Wall” so many years ago.  I can envision a great meeting between President Trump and President Xi during which our golden-maned president dazzles the Chinese president with his eloquence:

               “Wall much, Mr. Xi?”

Score! And of course, all of America will chuckle along with him. Not to say that spite would be the only satisfaction America would gain from building the Trump Wall.  There are practical reasons for building a Trump Wall and that is why an artist’s rendering is so important. If an architect’s drawing were truly inspired, it would show a very thick and hollow wall into which Trump Apartments for Displaced Illegals could be built.   That would be nice, and the niceness wouldn’t end there.  There would be Trump casinos, game rooms, massage parlors, and even a miniature golf course for the kiddies.


Trump Wall? Intergalactic deportation? Paid for by the Mexican president? I’m beginning to like it.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

News, Views, and Clues: U.S. Cut and Run Strategy in Iraq Invited ISIS Control of Ramadi, Fallujah

News, Views, and Clues: U.S. Cut and Run Strategy in Iraq Invited ISIS Control of Ramadi, Fallujah

News, Views, and Clues: CBS "The Good Wife" : Attorney Seeking Clients by Pound Weight

News, Views, and Clues: CBS "The Good Wife" : Attorney Seeking Clients by Pound Weight

Fabulous Four GOP Candidates II - Hell Week Revisited



In the beginning of this conflict called a presidential election, I wrote an article titled “The Fabulous Four”. In it, I identified four GOP candidate whom I thought would be there at the end when the smoke cleared. The four individuals were Trump, Kasich, Jeb, and Rubio.  I didn’t mention Ted Cruz, who’s had a good week and a rising profile.  I published my article on August 13, 2015 so my guesswork two months later can be described as “not bad for an amateur.”  Or maybe I should say “not bad for an amateur among amateurs” because the MSM is not doing any better with their constant touting of the flavor du jour and going with whatever sells the most advertising.

The MSM coverage, with rare exception, has been tragically awful.  Tragically awful personalities who have mucked things up include the three hopeless mice (#CNBC ‘s Carl Quintanilla, Becky QuicK, and John Harwood) who demeaned the entire democratic process by bringing it down to the level of an 8th grade food fight. Having liberal Democrats ask some questions is okay but this most recent anti-GOP debauchery was pathetic.   The MSM conservative establishment has done only a little better with their one-size-fits-all mentality, their oversimplification of complex issues, their hypocritical swipes at a vague abstraction knowns as “The Establishment.”

You could at least say that Rush Limbaugh is one of the pioneers of that type of “journalism,” and his brand of satire has twisted things to the degree that used to be funny. However, funny man Rush sometimes seems so over even when he has occasional flashes of original insight.  He repeats himself endlessly, poor man.  Of course, the favored technique of the all of these pamphleteers has been to use the bludgeon, to repeat slogans ad infinitum, and to use the label to sell “My Pillow (Hannity)”, to promote a Gold Bug mentality (Levine) and I forget what Rush Limbaugh is selling.

These men are not the worst of the once authentic conservatives who are now marketing a brand, complete with copyright and patents protected.  God forbid should you realize that a president must government everyone, and not be like President Obama who thinks his presidency only extends to a narrow but expanding slice of left-wing America hating progressives.  The worse of this ilk are the copycats who get their marching orders from on high, with nary an original thought:  Anne Coulter (once an ardent admirer of Chris Christie who now is on Trump’s short list for press secretary) and Laura Ingraham, whose sole aim in life is to break out of radio and land a coveted spot on Bret Baier’s Special Report TV where they often have real journalists on the panel—including real liberal and moderate journalists.

But I digress. Another way of looking at my political prognostication is three out of four ain’t bad, but that description is perhaps to give myself too much credit. I suppose accuracy depends on whether we’re talking about winning the GOP primary or whether we’re talking about who is doing well as of today. Shit happens.  My man Jeb Bush is not doing so well.  Trump is marching in place but still high in the rankings. Rubio has surged primarily owing to  his youthful exuberance, his intense preparation, and his adept speaking style. While Kasich has plummeted. 

How would I revise my Fab Four today? I think Ted Cruz, and this is difficult for me to acknowledge, must replace Kasich among the Fab Four (I know—very opposite, no compassionate conservativism, kind of a shame).  I’d keep Rubio.  Trump is still there but no longer as mesmerizing as he once was.  

You’ll hate me for this but consider that I’m Sicilian (American first) and genetically loyal to my gang even when we’re shot full of holes. Consider also that I’m not looking for personality or charm or stage presence – I still think colorless, plain vanilla Bush knows most about American governance and would have the least flawed learning curve.  That’s what worries me about all the rest. New presidents always blunder so I want the guy who will blunder the least—which to me means more lives saved, more people presented with more opportunities.  I think both Rubio and Bush have reasonable, realistic, immigration plans that are far superior to the hyper-inflated claims Mr. Trump is making.  It’s the knowledge and competence factor that impresses me, not the flash, not the bombast, not the celebrity.

There is only one danger to nominating Jeb Bush and it is that he has the most enemies of all the candidates.  He has so many enemies that it baffles me that anyone should call him the “establishment” guy. The media, whether conservative or liberal-left, never misses a chance to attack him.  The Tea Party attacks him at every turn.  Click-bait talk radio conservatives slash at him every chance they get. All of this combines to make a Jeb Bush nomination a steep hill to climb, in spite of the fact he has the best chance of all of defeating Hillary Clinton.

People who think a Ted Cruz or a Donald Trump can defeat a woman as studied and familiar with the working of the Washington political machine are delusional.  I’ll tell you why in the next chapter. 


Sinai Egypt Plane Crash Claims Lives of 200 Plus Passengers

A plane crash in the central Sinai region of Egypt this morning claimed the lives of more than 200 passengers.  Most of the passengers were Russian, coming from the Sinai seaside resort of Sharm Al-Sheikh, one of the most popular tourist destinations for Russians.  An estimated 3 million Russians vacation at the seaside resort each year.

Early reports are not always reliable but suggest that the aircraft did not explode in the air but lost power and went nose down after failing to make an emergency landing at Al-Arish Airport. The airline is operated by Kogalymavia, aka Metrojet, which specializes in transporting vacationers to tourist destinations.

Things to Know:

-        The Plane was 23 minutes into the air when it lost contact with air traffic control
-        224 were aboard, 7 of them crew members.
-        Early official statements suggest that technical problems brought down the plane rather than terrorism.

-        A Russian state-owned TV station reported that the pilot reported technical problems and requested landing at another airport before it went down.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

I’M NOT HAVING “THE AFFAIR” -- A SHOWTIME SERIAL AND SEXY SOAP OPERA



I just binge-watched about twelve chapters of a Showtime serial called “The Affair.” You might think I’d have an opinion of it but I don’t. The only thing I’m sure of is which characters I like best. Or like at all.

Of the chief characters, I most like Helen, Cole, and Whitney. At least Helen and Cole are the “good,” even if they are tarnished. Whitney? She’s a teenager run amok, in part derailed by the divorce of her  parents, the other part being the expected traumas of adolescence.

So who’s who and what’s the game?  Helen and Noah Sollaway always take the kids and themselves to spend the summers on Montauk with Helen’s wealthy parents. It’s an idyllic somewhat boring existence. Noah Solloway takes a walk along the beach path one day and meets “younger woman” Allison outside her own cottage.  They have a little flirtation at first, which sends Noah over the moon, and soon they’re wrapped up into a full-blown affair with lots of stand-up and lay-down screwing, subterfuge, spousal and family issues, and intense yearnings.

The people who created “The Affair” must be praised for disobeying the first commandment of Hollywood filmmaking:  the leading characters must be appealing. That is, they must be appealing, even if they are flawed. I wonder though, if the writers who created the characters of Noah Solloway and Alison Baily intended them to be weighted toward the disagreeable rather than mostly appealing. Or perhaps, as happens so many times, it was a case of the inmates overrunning the asylum.

The show’s creator provides some perspective, and some additional information about the show, in a conversation she had with TV Guide.

When I first met Alison, I liked her, not only because she was the woman who saved the Solloway’s kid from choking to death, but simply because she was likable. When I first met Noah, my instinct was to withhold emotional attachment until he showed more of the qualities one appreciates in a leading man.  Instead, the handsome gent with the deep manly voice showed a great deal of self- absorption, and the type of self- indulgence that would have allowed him to leave Helen, his wife of many years and their four children.

My third strike against the  Noah Solloway character is that he’s a writer, struggling along with his first book, then his second, with all the self-doubt and anxiety that could really produce.  On top of that, he’s competing with his father-in-law, an egomaniacal man with an established literary reputation. Very often when TV or film writers want to make a sympathetic character, they make him or her into this struggling writer meme because…oh, yes… we’re all sacrificing ourselves (not to mention our families) for Art with a capital “A.” That’s all bullshit, of course; the truth is far more gritty and unappealing and so many writers have shitty personalities, outsized egos when compared to the true greats, and worse, they excuse bad behavior because it is expected of them as eccentric, romantic, literary heros. Noah Solloway is a guy who can’t say no to himself though he easily and always  says no to his wife and four children.

This is not to hand you a lecture on the virtues of “family values.” It just is what it is.  That’s what happens in “The Affair.” For her part, Allison sullies herself in this association where she is expected at all turns to accept whatever second-tier emotional crumbs are left to her. That’s because she is guilt-ridden, having suffered through the death of her young child, sending her marriage to Cole spiraling downward.  The script leaves no secret that Alison is a masochist – she even cuts herself on the upper thigh so that she can feel the pain of loss again and again.  If you don’t believe that, consider the suicide scene where she tries to walk out into the ocean to drown.

“The Affair” puts the audience in a moral space, of course, and even seems persuasive of the view that affairs are a good thing.  It’s possible they may be a good thing in some twisted sense but they hurt people. The Noah Solloway character, intelligent, bright, handsome, and driven, is for me very hard to like.

Yet, I have wallowed in the sexy misery of twelve episodes, and now that I’m caught up, will find it easier to follow until it either ends or gets entirely boring (It does have boring segments where you can turn back to Twitter or other social media while watching it without missing much). 

I’ve made some criticisms, and I don’t think they’re particularly harsh. I hope they’re not harsh because the actors are not to be faulted for the script and the story line.  I would say that it is because of the talent of the actors that made me catch the unlikable imperfect shading with which the characters are imbued.  If that’s a convoluted sentence or way of putting it, let me say it this way:  the acting in the series has been consistently above par. 


Which brings me to the right-on acting of the snotty teen girl, Noah and Helen’s snarky and malevolent seventeen year old daughter Whitney, who gets knocked up by one of Alison’s brothers-in-law.  But that will wait for another time.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

CBS "The Good Wife" : Attorney Seeking Clients by Pound Weight

I recapped the latest episode of “The Good Wife” for TV Eskimo (tveskimo.com), a web site that keeps up with a variety of television episodes.  You can look at it here – it’s short.  

Too often I’m mired in politics, so I thought some TV talk would get my mind out of that gutter.  Have I mixed metaphors there? “Mired?” Stuck in mud.  “Gutter?” That can mean a lot of things (including those attractive pits where my ball tends to go in the bowling alley). 

I was an early fan of “The Good Wife” and watched it for a couple of seasons fairly often. Then I stopped watching it regularly and began watching it only occasionally when I thought it wondered off the intensity it began with.  I’m sure it’s very hard to keep up the intensity after seven seasons so I’m not complaining – just that I have certain expectations.  But someone among the writers for the show this seasons must have decided “let’s get back to serious business” even though “serious business” must be dumbed down a bit to retain part of the audience.  But I think most every episode, even the worst of them, has been far above the heads of an audience which might watch….say…. “Jackass?”

Every series episode will have one or more legal issues to provide food for thought as well as comic entertainment. The entertainment/comedy portion of this ep was about a segment of the attorney population called “bar attorneys.” It was funny – the lawyers bartered over clients by the pound (yes, body weight).  The deeply philosophical and intensely legal segment had to do with doctor assisted suicide.  Not fun, but interesting arguments presented from both sides.


So I’m back to watching it. The acting is always good. The writers are always too clever by half.  And hell! What else is happening on a Sunday night in Peoria?  (I’m not really in Peoria, I’m in my own private Idaho)  My other great TV (and real life) passion is boxing. If some enterprising entrepreneur would put boxing on Sunday nights – I would have a real dilemma.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Can Karl Rove Save America from Hillary Clinton?


Only if some Republicans stop being mesmerized by that garrulous champion of political  chameleons everywhere – the Great Donald Trump.   

Trump’s is a political house built on shifting sands.  You’d expect better from a real estate magnate. On the other hand, he’s selling swampland to the gullible so, of course, making egregious, unsubstantiated claims is the way to do it.   Trump takes hyperbole to new heights almost every day.

The liberal media loves Trump, though.  Where else can you get a guy who says one day he wouldn’t have gone after Bin Laden in Afghanistan and the next day says he would have? What better tool is there than Donald Trump to pound in the coffin nails of the highjacked GOP? What better promotional tool is there for Hillary Clinton?

 Trump’s intentionally vague policy positions are reversible clothing which can be worn inside out, right-side up, and turned around the next day.
Getting to Karl Rove, though, and his essay in the Wall Street Journal (another “establishment” bogeyman media source), Rove points out the quesstions that are not being asked about Trump's hyperbolic claims: 

Exactly how would he deport an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants within the two years or less that he promises?  According to Rove, that amounts to 15,000 people per day.  He would do this in a “very nice” way, of course, and then reimport the “good people” back into the U.S. in an expedited way.  Of course he would use the “best business practices” (the ones that worked so well in his four bankruptcies)  to do this, and maybe the next day he would annex Baja California and offer free government paid vacations to his supporters/voters.

Trump also said he believes in single-payer government health care and that he doesn’t care if he loses voters over it.  Wait a minute!  Hasn’t Barak Obama yet conquered that territory?  Nonetheless, Trump would trump that hand of cards and do everyone one better.
Oh, and he’s not going to cut Social Security or Medicare “like other Republicans” even though all projections have it that those entitlements will be bankrupt in 2034 if things continue on the present course.  Well, Donald, your six or ten billion that you’re worth won’t last long if you’re paying for that promise. 

Then there is Libya, which was only one of numerous foreign policy blunders of the Obama administration. (the list is longer than the U.S. tax code)  Trump says he would seize the oil fields and appropriate the profits from them. In his next Superhero episode, he might promise free gasoline to everyone (from the Libyan oil fields) so that they can drive to the New American Baja California and stay at the New Trump Plaza Mexicana.




Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Dan Rather Movie: “Truth” is Relative -- And of Little Importance Whatsoever!



Get ready for another attempt at historical revision of an event that no longer lives in memory. The Robert Redford movie about Dan Rather’s firing from CBS has landed with a dull thud.  Or perhaps,  the movie “Truth” will have some appeal for idealistic twenty-somethings who were ten years old at the time of the ‘key event’ of the movie.

Here’s the short of it:  That icon of television journalism, Dan Rather, lost his job when he and his producer, Mary Mapes, decided to go ahead with the broadcast of some phony documents presented to them by an rabid anti-Bush politician.  The forged documents quoted unidentified and still mysterious sources who maintained that George W. Bush got into the Texas Air National Guard with the help of this shady politician. (At least President Bush was in something military –unlike current GOP fictional hero Donald Trump who bought four deferments)  The fictional sources mentioned, according to today’s Wall Street Journal, consisted of a mysterious ‘Lucy Ramirez’ (because there are thousands in the phone book) and a ‘dark-skinned stranger.’

The anti-Bush slimed documents were immediately recognized as forgeries, and CBS had no choice but to fire Dan Rather.

That was the reality but now Mary Mapes, Dan Rather, Robert Redford, and Cate Blanchett are together in this “Truth” Truther, hoping to make some money out of the public amnesia which is evident even in the current 2016 presidential race.  American brains are so scrambled (I am an American) that it is now possible to revise, compile, and be believed by 50 percent of the population in a fictional account about what happened last week. What chance does truth have today regarding some event that happened in 2004?

Robert Redford will no doubt portray a heroic Dan Rather. Kate Blanchett will play a heroic Mary Mapes. There is a good chance that fifty percent of the population may accept this as historical truth.  But there is an even better chance that the movie will bomb (reviews are already unfavorable)  because it casts journalism into the phantasmagorical light of it is own solipsism. 

There are still good reporters out there, but everyone recognizes they are drowned out by anti-historical clickbait ninnies. The latter are the rule;  the former the exception.  I will even acknowledge that the anti-Bush super-liberal Dan Rather did some good honest reporting during his long career.  But the conspiracy to take down a president with forged documents was not a high moment in journalism. Just as this anti-Republican liberal-left screed advertising itself as a film is not a high moment in film.


My guess is that "Truth" will sink to depths even lower than those attained by our Massive Ordnance Penetrator bombs. CBS even refuses to take film advertising for “Truth” and what better recommendation for a film is that? 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Homeland Season 5 -- In-Depth News ICYMI


I was watching the first episode of Homeland – Season 5 – and you probably know by now that the story line was virtually ripped from the headlines.  You’ll remember a while back (seems so long ago) that Angela Merkel and her government were incensed that we (The U.S. being “we”) were spying on them.  Somehow the surveillance got identified and, of course, this led to an entirely embarrassing situation that occupied the media for weeks.  Casablanca.  I’m shocked, shocked Rick!  There’s gambling going on here. 

There were some TV commentators who took issue with the mention of the German surveillance, “hactivists”, and of “Anonymous” as if it were somehow cheating, somehow not as good as if you made stuff up out of whole cloth.  Other commentators were okay about the idea, having opinions lukewarm or tepid, and then there is a third category of commentator who comprised of people like me who are good and fed up with stuff that pretends we are in a different world than the one we’re actually living in. Things are tough all over, the planet is a lot smaller, we see and experience all of it, or at least more than ever before.  On the extreme end of the escapist crowd are the people who absolutely insist that their creative inputs must have no connection to the awful, awful things that occur every day.  Things like the refugee problem, also given billing in Ep 1 of Season 5 “Homeland.”

As you know, Carrie had quit the CIA and is working at the “Foundation,” a supposedly humanitarian aid organization which, in contrast to hardcore CIA types, espouses liberal anti-U.S. sentiment akin to what we are now experiencing from Doctors Without Borders. The great thing about “Homeland” is that all sides are presented, and no sides are pretty in the way some people insist creative work absolutely, positively and without a doubt MUST be.

Let’s face it – most television drama is decidedly liberal and aimed at a sort of flavor-of-the-week cause like gay rights, women’s rights, rights of the mentally ill, LGBT rights, abortion rights, persecution of minorities (no matter that minorities here do the least amount of suffering of any social group in the universe), and so on ad-infinitum. The only rights that are rarely upheld or promoted in liberal TV dramas are Second Amendment rights.  The people who create this vast onslaught of liberal dreck are elite Democratic Socialists who feel they are enlightening us – peons, troglodytes, subhumans,  and others liberals look down upon as vermin.  

“Homeland” is successful because it’s the real shit. We don’t live in a black and white world.  There are not only two sides to every issue on “Homeland,” there are maybe 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 sides. Most of us have empathy for human suffering but beating our breasts and cueing our outrage to show others how deeply we feel the suffering of others doesn’t do a damn thing to alleviate suffering and in many cases makes things worse. It should be especially obvious in the current political environment that weakness, abdication of power, making nice with our enemies has created a vacuum that others have filled.  (Iran Nuclear Nightmare, ISIS, Putin, Kadyrov (spelling? The Chechnyan Warlord, I mean) – those are the result of our nation’s current weakness. The mercenary liberal cant has given us a failed economy, a failed foreign policy, and it has created the most massive refugee problem seen since WWII.

“Homeland” is great in depicting real events. They should rip everything out of the foreign policy headlines. That still leaves the great task of creating realistic dialogue, acting, and cinematography and putting it all together in a coherent and intelligent fashion. That’s what Homeland does, and if you think it’s easy. . .   I have to say one thing about that Claire Danes’ “Carrie” character. She is one messed up chick with her husky voice, her perpetual panic and revulsion, her clanging emotions, her chameleon face. Other characters, too, seem to have hard studied the meanings of ambivalence and ambiguity. How can you not love her, them, it?


 TV writers should add to our understanding of the world, and not condescend to us or try to re-engineer our DNA to make everyone and everything fit into infatuated liberal notions of how the world should be. I’d much rather be engaged in what it is instead of what it’s not. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

TNT's Public Morals TV Show: Meet Your New Landlords


Deep, dark, funny, and reflective is the TNT television show Public Morals. It airs on Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m. My wife kept telling me to watch it so finally I did.  I’m really a tough TV audience—which is not to say that I don’t watch a fair amount of it with lukewarm results.  I’ll often watch “bad TV” just to see what people are tripping on. It’s like watching a sociological experiment, much of it discouraging.

But Public Morals wasn’t discouraging.  Even before I picked up on the story line, I was  immediately struck with the writing and acting. I'm no gangster, you’ll be glad to know,  but I've known more than a few questionable people and I’m quite sure some of them were. And I sometimes used to hang out in the Hell’s Kitchen area during the 60s era and quite well remember what it was like, colorful and exciting, seedy and disreputable, abject to great heights.  It was a place of contradiction, those contradictions being well displayed in the TV show Public Morals.

I kind of related to PM too b/c a while back I almost got jammed up in one of those "Westie" Hell's Kitchen Irish mob places where a guy like Richie Kane (he’s a character in the show played by Aaron Dean Eisenberg) came in and called out the restaurant-bar manager or owner and scared the shit out of everyone. I got out of there in a hurry, didn't even want to know what was going on. Public Morals made me remember that.  I like the way the show feels, real people, nice people, flawed people.

I'm big on realism. For me, there’s too little realistic material on TV and way too much fantasy.  Everything's about gadgets & technology, and avoidance of reality.  Not so with Public Morals. It’s a big plus that the Public Morals actors all seem to know what that New York thing is/was about. I don't normally gush about TV programs but I have a strong feeling about PM and urge you to watch it if only for my sake. 

  I try to write myself so I know how hard it is to do something creative without falling into rubber stamped formulas. I was just very impressed with the way Ed Burns put the whole thing together—writing, directing, acting, casting.  It's very hard to do just one of those things and he's done them all. 

He found all these great down to earth actors with some keystone figures like Brian Doheny playing the Irish first generation who worked their way up to power and influence. I never watch the “extras” that come with the On Demand versions but I watched nearly all of the short interviews with Burns. He was so honest and without pretension, as were the actors who shouted out to me on Twitter (to my great surprise and delight).

.Have to say the sets are great, so are the period idiosyncrasies, costuming, graphics. Watch it if you want to see that great old pre-hipster good bad old New York complete with the hookers on Times Square we used to try to talk to when we were kids. 

The individual scenes flow nicely and are knit together well. I like the way everyone has one attitude or another. There's a lot of ironic humor in the writing, too; it’s brilliant writing. Alright, this is TMI, I know. Too bad I'm not some kind of big deal critic, right?


Just watch it, okay. I’m telling you. And repent your sins, for chrissakes! 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Hillary Clinton’s Hard-Won Coronation by Default

  
I’ve always thought this was going to be a competitive primary and I’m looking forward to it,” declared Hillary Clinton, as she surveyed the political landscape.  Believe that and she’ll tell you another.

There is no competitive political landscape with the Democrats.  The Democrats in 2016 will have a coronation, unless there is a criminal indictment, which could not possibly happen until after the 2016 elections.

There are two candidates on the Democrat side, Jim Webb and Martin O’Malley who are barely registering a heartbeat, and then there is Bernie Sanders, a socialist running as an independent. Then there is Joe Biden, the wounded bird of the Democrat party who has a great chance to win the Democrat’s primary until he actually decides to run.

Should that latter occur, the clickbait media will de-louse itself from Donald Trump’s hair and spend a pious week wringing their hands over the Veep’s tragic life, culminating most recently with the death of his son from brain cancer.  This is indeed sad stuff, and we are sorry for anyone having to grieve the loss of a child. However,  the trope that Beau Biden’s dying wish was that his dad would run for president a third time has to be seen as a family Disney opportunity made for TV.

“Don’t worry about me, dad. I’ll rest in peace knowing you’re the president.” Violin music.

That image, superimposed as it will be over previous images of a creepy uncle with grabby hands, will garner considerable votes among Democrats who neither trust nor like Hillary Clinton. But keep in mind that Bernie Sanders has already drawn off most of the Hillary Hating Democrats. Moreover, Hillary Clinton manages a smooth running, well-funded, corrupt, but large organization which can only be defeated if all the moneyed elite Brahmin Democrats who interposed Obama the Great on Hillary in 2008 would do the same for Biden.

There’s fat chance of that happening. Deals have likely already been negotiated and the ink was dry on those contracts when Hillary assumed the Secretary of State position.

There are presumed  Republicans on Twitter who are gleeful that an NBC-Marist poll Sunday shows that Bernie Sanders is ahead of Hillary Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire. http://cnn.it/1JOOI8h  This is but one example of the fatuousness that passes for ‘conservative’ thought these days:  ““Uh oh! Looks like Sanders is going to beat Hillary in Iowa and New Hampshire.” This is based on early polls, the type of polls which had Ross Perot and Herman Cain far ahead at this time in previous elections.

Yet, across the board, among liberals and conservatives, the activists and liars who are sampled in the early polls are in a rebellious mood.  This is the wave that breaks on the beach before the real storm comes.  Hillary knows this and knows also that when she beats Sanders back to Vermont with his tail between his legs it will look like some sort of triumph that the CNN, MSNBC sycophants will gush about. A bigger triumph will be when she does the same thing to Biden, although not without making at least a small and solicitous effort. As in: “Here are your bedroom slippers, Joe.”

How will Hillary Clinton defeat her non-opponents?  First of all, it’s a situation where less is better. The GOP has been especially good at defeating itself, especially considering that members of its fringe now have the loudest voices.

While the media is following Hillary around, anxious to ask her again and again about the government records she destroyed, she’s well advised to stay in hiding.  The less Democrats see of her, the better. Expect her to come out of hiding in well-controlled staged events where the press corps can’t get to her.  When it’s time to comment, she’ll pick favorable venues and issue well-vetted sound bites like the one she levied recently against Donald Trump and his promise to round eleven million illegals up and herd them across the Mexican border. I suppose the wall Trump says Mexico will pay for will have a giant golden door wide enough for everyone to pass through in the four years of his term.

Hillary loves Trump, prays that he’ll stay in the race right up until the end, becoming the indelible face of the GOP in another can’t lose election which they will lose.  In a closed speech before a friendly select audience, Hillary pointed to the contradiction of a party that touted small government and yet had, as their front runner, a guy who would require the most massive of government interventions. That's just a sample. It's not exactly inspired, but it will suffice against a party where the tail is wagging the dog. 

  Immigration authorities can’t handle the workload now, but the Trump reverse diaspora, Clinton points out, will require a far more massive bureaucratic processing effort, assisted by immigration agents and National Guard.  There was no mention of how the “boxcars” Clinton mentioned would pass through the Wall of Trump, but expect she’ll have further comments on Trump’s plan in the coming days.

Okay, suppose Biden runs. Biden is the typical Democratic “establishment” candidate.  That alone is enough to pull some away from the lunatic fringe the party has almost entirely become under Obama, Pelosi, Warren, Jarrett, not to mention the foreign policy apologists who manned posts at Foggy Bottom.

My guess is that Biden will decide against running after many public Hamlet soliloquys. But he’s a shot fighter, and even in his prime wasn’t much more than a journeyman, chosen by Obama to provide much needed gravitas  to an administration on training wheels. He’s generic, plain vanilla. It must have been hard for Obama to swallow down when Biden described him as “clean-cut and articulate” as if that was an anomaly for a black guy. 

Biden doesn’t have the cleverness, the slipperiness of the Clintons, he doesn’t have the money or the organization, he’s inclined to entertaining gaffes, and he’s emotionally wasted, older than in previous contests, worn out. 

So unless an indictment comes early, Hillary’s path is still as certain as it ever was. She’ll brazen it out.  She’ll claim selective amnesia and rely on the public tendency for self-delusion that produced Obama. Her biggest worry is that Trump will fall before he does enough damage to the GOP. Her greatest most irresistible desire is that he makes it all the way to GOP nomination.



Friday, August 28, 2015

Trump Claims a Silent Majority (and my hair is on fire!)


 
Donald Trump has resurrected the “silent majority” concept of the late sixties.  The phrase was coined in a 1969 speech by President Richard M. Nixon.  With massive demonstrations going on against the Vietnam war, many Americans disapproved of the methods and style of the message that anti-war protestors employed to make their point.  The methodology of protest was often extreme, with egregious examples like that of Jane Fonda, the American actress who posed and protested with a North Vietnamese artillery unit, atop a tank, or inspecting an enemy grenade launcher.

To some degree, there were among the “silent majority” Nixon claimed to champion people who were aghast (and terrified ) at “race riots” -- looting and burning in American cities.   Nixon was of the opinion that the media light was not shining upon the large number of far less vocal or exhibitionistic people and hence, they were “silent.”  And so he claimed them as his own, much as Trump is trying to do.  

Among this “silent majority,” there were no doubt some racists and culturally ignorant people as there are today in both major political parties.  But CNN reporter Allison Camerota (formerly of Fox News) this morning referred to Trump’s recall of the “silent majority” term as akin to a racist dog-whistle.  This is historically inaccurate and likely an intended smear of Trump in accordance with general CNN hypocrisy and principles of supporting any Democrat.  CNN and others are very happy to use Trump as clickbait, blaring his propaganda and slogans the livelong day, and will gladly sacrifice real news stories and air time to puff pieces about Trump’s hair-do. 

I’m not a Trump fan but it’s a very low blow to call him a racist, even by his own low blow standards.  I would describe him as culturally ignorant, bigoted even, but to call him a racist is a long step down a very dark road.  I’m no fan of Jorge Ramos either, but Trump’s repeated “orders” for him to “sit down, sit down, sit down” were ignorant, unsophisticated, and demeaning in the way a spoiled rich boy with inherited wealth might be to persons he considers inferior. Consider that, if you don’t agree with Trump, this inferior label includes you. 

Trump was furious when Ramos refused to act like a well- trained and obedient dog and sit upon orders from his master. There,  we got to see how much he expects everyone to fall prostrate before his billions, his catch phrases, and his bumper sticker campaign.  Instead of “silent majority,” Trump might instead substitute the term “gullible majority” or perhaps “blindly following majority.”

The “silent majority” was not silent because of one single thing like the civil rights movement, as CNN’s Allison Camerota said today.  It was silent because it didn’t believe that the hysterical street theatre of the 60s and the riots at the Democrat National Convention advanced democracy or American constitutional principles. When you consider how narrow-minded, dogmatic, and dangerous the 60s left had become (think Weather Underground In U.S. or Baader-Meinhoff gang in Europe (aka RAF – Red Army Faction),  you can almost forgive Nixon for Watergate, or Trump for his truly effective media demagoguery.  But too much of what Donald Trump says is either simplified to the point of being ridiculous or carefully calculated (against his rivals) lies.  This should not be forgiven.