Monthly Archives: February 2009

Obama v. Jindal

     H.L. Mencken famously said nobody ever went broke over- estimating the stupidity of the American Public. But it still baffles me as to why anyone except the super rich would vote for a Republican. I suspect a lot of it is because when I was a young thing the Republicans were made up of respectable people Like Nelson Rockefeller and Tom Dewey and Barry Goldwater, who, although it was clear they favored a government which favored the rich, they weren’t about to try to use the government to steal everything that wasn’t nailed down. All that changed with the election of the military- industrial, corporate mouthpiece, Ronald Reagan, and the clones that followed in his wake.

If, however, there is any doubt that the Republican party is completely, morally, financially and ideologically bankrupt, one only had to watch the extraordinarily fine speech Barack Obama gave this past Tuesday before a joint session of Congress and the muddle headed drivel that followed from Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana.

Obama laid out an ambitions program but he declared in no uncertain terms that the Republicans were responsible for digging the chasm the country finds itself in and that it was going to take a bloody lot of hard work to climb out.

It is a start. He needs to remind the American people, as this recession grows ever deeper, that Republican mismanagement caused the problem. The Republicans have dumped a huge pile of horse manure in America’s back yard, and no amount of digging is going to reveal a pony underneath. Barack Obama has been dealt the task of cleaning out the Augean Stables. He’s a smart guy but I doubt he can figure out how to make a river run through them. It will be a long slow and painful process.

The Republicans on the other hand have put up yet another small time governor who apparently hasn’t a clue. His solution to the mess the Republicans made: Deny they made the mess. So much for personal accountability and oh yeah, tax breaks for the rich, tax breaks for the rich, tax breaks for the rich. Anything else? Yes, government is bad and more tax breaks for the rich! The Republicans clearly want to keep every dime they have stolen. I have never seen pundits so openly contemptuous (that certainly is the bon mot) of a public speaker.

I don’t think the Republicans really care how dumb they look. If you monitor the hate media, it is clear that they are determined to play snake in the grass. They are still beating the same drum incessantly, biding their time and waiting patiently for the American Public to return to its normal state of torpor and stupidity. Barack Obama needs to create his own drumbeat and it needs to be equally incessant. He has the advantage of the truth. He just needs to keep reminding us: the state of the country is not a disaster movie. It is very, very real and Republicans caused it. And we should never, never, let them do it again.

Don Singleton
February, 27, 2009

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The Reader

It never fails. Ever time one of the Nazi-persecution-Death-Camp films come out it seems I cannot but draw a conclusion that the film makers certainly did not intend. When Schindler’s List came out to great praise and won the Academy Award for Best Picture it seemed clear to me that here was man who simply had a really good eye for the main chance and when it was profitable and absolutely legal to enslave workers in his factories, he did so in order to maximize his profit, an example of free market at its most efficient. When the handwriting on the wall became clear he saved a number of his slave laborers. His actions were hardly heroic, merely bankable against the day of retribution. Why was he not prosecuted and jailed? This kind of death bed conversion with the Allies breathing down his neck is hardly convincing. The single scene from that film which sticks in my mind is when Schindler worries that he might have saved a few more of his workers had he been willing to sell his Mercedes. The Reader, I suppose was to remind us of the horror of the Holocaust, Germany’s collective post war guilt and shame and on a deeper and ironic level to remind us that society’s blood lust for “justice” occurs in a similar seamless bureaucratic milieu as the extermination camps and unfortunately, on occasion, with equal dollops of injustice. Some years after his affair as a fifteen year old with a mysterious older woman, Michael Berg encounters her again when as a law student he attends the court where a coterie of female SS guards are on trial and are convicted of various crimes, with Hannah, the most honest of the lot, paying the penalty for saying the truth. They were simply executing the will of the bureaucrats in charge at the time. Hannah is set upon by her comrades for admitting that they all were required to select prisoners for execution and knew what their choices meant and because she carries a personal secret which she goes to some lengths to hide which would have refuted the charge by her colleagues that she was in command, she bears the brunt of the sentencing. See, the pompous judge seems to say, we have severely punished the one most guilty. He, a cog in the “justice” machine, thereby answers the question posed by this miserable guard who was a mere cog in the murder machine. She addresses the question directly to him: What would you have done in the same circumstances? For simple-minded Hannah, her job as a guard was no more or less complicated than her job as streetcar conductor. She asked no questions. She did as she was told and for her acquiescence and compliance was often promoted. When provided the opportunity, Michael, who shares her secret, fails to come to her aid, fails to provide exculpatory evidence. We are left to surmise that he does so in part at revulsion at what she has done and in part out of fear that he will permanently damage his career. In short, he fails to resist injustice as she failed to resist the orders handed to her. Hannah, for her part, is left to rot in jail while her equally guilty comrades draw minor sentences. Hannah Schmitz’s trial is reminiscent of the show trials conducted by our own government of the guards at Abu Grahib. Just a few bad apples the perpetrators of the torture declared to the American people, and they were allowed to walk away and they are still walking, although they dare not leave the country lest they be rendered to the Hague and prosecuted for war crimes by countries who seem to take “Honor, duty, country” a bit more seriously than we do. Hannah Arendt’s famous essay on the banality of evil bears re examination every time we consider the issues raised by The Reader. How easily under the cover of the mindless herd, the appointed committee, the bureaucratic bungling, evil and atrocity flourish. How little most of us care! The ease with which the bureaucracy adapted to building death camps from the planning, to the design, to the final terrible piles of corpse is captured indelibly in a single scene in The Reader which is reminiscent of Alain Resnais’s chilling documentary about the death camps, Night and Fog. Two summers ago I was in Germany to attend a well known international art exposition which employed a number of college students as docents. I was questioned intensely about Bush administration policies, particularly Abu Grahib, Guantanamo and the charges of kidnapping, torture and murder. The broader question the students asked repeatedly was: How did this happen in America? How indeed? The Reader is a dark, brooding, depressing film, yet is easily the best film of the year. It takes us where we are loathe to go and tells us a truth about ourselves that we do not want to know. It begs us to examine our recent past and to understand that the very worst impulses of humanity lurk just beneath the surface of placid bureaucratic waters. Don Singleton February 8, 2009

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Slumdog Millionaire

This year’s crop of academy award nominations for Best Picture is one of the poorest in a series of very lean years. Try to remember which films won best picture in the past five years. When I did this little exercise, I could not recall a single winner. I don’t think the Academy is at fault. The industry is obsessed with blockbusters and comic book mentality films. There isn’t much to work with. And although this is likely to elicit howls from younger generations brought up on a diet of sex, violence and video games, most of what makes it to the big screen these days is mindless pap. The fact that there is a nomination for best supporting actor in a comic book film says a great deal about the state of the American film industry, although there was clearly a huge dollop of sympathy in the nomination of Keith Ledger.

Of those films nominated this year, I have dismissed out of hand the two docudramas, Frost/Nixon and Milk although two of the best male performances clearly came from those two films. If I saw the real thing on Television why do I want to pay good money to see a revisionist version on Film? Milk at least provided material about Harvey Milk’s political career which was not widely known. The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons is Forrest Gump without humor or Tom Hanks or a believable script. I admit to not yet having seen the Reader, which, of course, only opened in the local theater which wastes most of its 16 screens on comic book movies and shoot-em-ups and blow-em-ups and rarely screens anything worth seeing. That leaves Slumdog Millionaire which I saw last evening. This is kind of feel good, gangsta, diversity pitch in which boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl, boy loses girl and so on. It is when Harry Met Sally with all the aforementioned complications. It is a well crafted Saturday morning serial a la the Perils of Pauline. It is hardly worthy of Best Picture of the year and if it is, well then filmmaking is really in trouble. The final scene of Slumdog Millionaire with its Busby Berkeley, Bollywood dance routine is more than passing bizarre. This is not the final scene of Zatoici which ingratiates because it is clearly a tongue in cheek homage. This is a straight up bit of West Side Story tacked on to an already overburdened mélange of silliness. Oh well, I have yet to see The Reader, and I suspect that like on most Oscar evenings of late, I will curl up with a good book.

Don Singleton
February 4, 2009
mdog Millionaire

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Progressive Democrats

Here is a link which all progressives, liberals, and patriotic Americans should have on their desk top: http://www.democrats.com//organize

• Here is a part of their agenda:

• No More Funds for Iraq
• Don’t Attack Iran
• Tell Congress to Require Paper Ballots
We also invite you to sign our most recent petitions:
• Urge Obama to Appoint Special Prosecutor for Bush War Crimes
• Change the Media: No More Crooks and Liars
• Boycott FOX News Advertisers

Perhaps Democrats will finally wake up.
Don Singleton

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Oxycontin”s Own Ma Limbaugh

Well, if the hate media were not on your radar before, they surely must be now. Outrageously, Oxycontin’s Own Ma Limbaugh has declared that he hopes President Obama fails. This, of course, in support of the right wing reactionaries who drove the country into the economic and diplomatic ditch in which it presently finds itself. Can you imagine what this pack of hate mongers would have said if a commentator barely left of –oh I don’t know just pick any one of the dictators our country is so fond of supporting—had said such a thing about Ronnie Raygun or one of the Bushes?

Michael Savage is on the air suggesting that President Obama is a Marxist and the rest of this evil pack is slobbering and foaming at the mouth as they yap and yammer along behind. And as this band of reactionary hired garbage-mouths mewl and puke, the Republicans have returned to the surly ways that always make their service as the minority in Congress a disservice to the country. They were all over the Sunday “gas shows” screaming for more tax cuts for the wealthy and more loot for the Pentagon. That seems like an incredible waste of resources to anyone with half a brain—sorry for using that phrase since Oxycontin’s Own Ma Limbaugh is fond of saying he can defeat the left with half his brain tied behind his back. Unfortunately, he clearly never had half a brain to begin with and if you measured that dipstick’s oxycontin-addled grey matter you would surely come up a couple of quarts low.

And wouldn’t you think that the Republicans would be careful not to let Mitch McConnell near a television camera or microphone. As one of the Senate’s number famously said: “You don’t have to pass an I.Q test to get into the Senate.” Heaven knows McConnell proves that statement to be an adage of singular merit. This is a guy who must have to hire someone to shave him since anyone with a modicum of intelligence or sense of decency could not represent the tobacco interests and the rest of the vermin in his lobbying satchel without cutting his/or her on throat. McConnell represents the absolute bottom of the barrel when it comes to pushing the agendas of bad dirt. When that crowd of neo cons was busily driving the country into the ditch McConnell was busily loading up the Christmas Tree bills the Congress passed. Now that the Democrats are burdened with cleaning up the mess they made, he is suddenly pretending to be a fiscal conservative. He and that pack of running dog reactionaries are just like cigarettes. They advertise sex and pleasure and then kill you dead as four o‘clock

So the Democrats, having captured the vampire, now must drive a stake through its heart. One would hope that President Obama and the Congress will grew weary of this attack machine and that they will…

Bring Back the Fairness Doctrine.

Don Singleton
February 2, 2009

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