America No Longer Has A Viable Opposition Party To Conservative Ideology


In today’s American two-Party system, there is no active opposition party to Conservative ideology or an opposition party with a pro-active message (despite the Progressive movement within the Democratic Party and other parties that are not “officially” recognized).

I used to watch Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes on MSNBC. But I was so discouraged and disappointed – oftentimes shocked and outraged – by their behavior and what I saw as  irresponsible “reporting” 1  (and both using the overwhelmingly biased and closed-minded Joy Reid 2 as their replacement host) during the election, that I simply had to stop tuning in.

With her recent show devoted solely to “connecting the dots between Trump and Russia,” Rachel Maddow has burrowed in even deeper (and reduced her credibility to being little more than the Democratic Glenn Beck) by continuing to embrace fear-mongering through irresponsible and agenda-driven speculation. By amping up a fear that the Clinton Campaign used to divert attention from her own campaign dealings and mistakes, Maddow and others are fanning the flames of war and, simultaneously, taking a gamble that, if they lose, will greatly aid Donald Trump’s ability to further convince the public that neither the Democratic Party nor the media can be trusted.

I hate seeing the Democratic Party continue to be its own worst enemy. I hate seeing Democratic news hosts become Democratic apologists and outright fear-mogerers. I hate seeing Democrats using the old Republican playbook as their guide and, in effect, becoming everything we used to fight against (McCarthyism, anyone?). The Democratic Party used to be a very real, very active and vocal alternative. We used to offer that desperately-needed balance. And hope. Continue reading “America No Longer Has A Viable Opposition Party To Conservative Ideology”

America No Longer Has A Viable Opposition Party To Conservative Ideology

Hollywood And The Golden Arches Of Mediocrity


As a writer and filmmaker, I have, for as long as I can remember, felt strongly about storytelling. I was also lucky enough to have grown into adulthood during the second golden age of cinema (the 1970’s). Therefore, my most cherished form of storytelling has been through movies. It is the medium that most speaks to me, the language I most thoroughly embrace that best articulates, for me, what it means to be human. So it seems I take the current state of cinema far more seriously than do certain others for whom films are a mere distraction or, at best, a simple pleasure.

Which leads my desire to draw your attention to an interesting article by Mark Harris in GQ magazine. It’s called THE DAY THE MOVIES DIED and it’s about Hollywood today and the state of films and filmmaking. I think Mark makes some terrific points and observations and they are in keeping with my feelings about the industry and the art form. That said, I think there are areas that are even more complex than Mr. Harris spells them out to be. Though he does an excellent job of offering some very appealing conversation starters. I would also state, as a criticism, that I wish Mr. Harris had offered up some more detailed information regarding his sources as they would have added even more credibility to his stories and insights (e.g. his stated industry reaction to INCEPTION). But all in all, it’s an article worth reading and it paints a picture that, in my opinion, has more truth to it than not. Which saddens me.

I would also turn attention to a book by Columbia professor Tim Wu titled THE MASTER SWITCH: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires. Here, too, you will find answers to why we are where we are, why the film industry is what it is, and where we might be heading. The book will also place those questions, answers and concepts onto a much larger stage. It’ll certainly equip you to handle just about any conversation on the subject that might arise and then some.

Here is David Siegfried’s Booklist review of MASTER SWITCH:

A veteran of Silicon Valley and professor at Columbia University, Wu is an author and policy advocate best known for coining the term net neutrality. Although the Internet has created a world of openness and access unprecedented in human history, Wu is quick to point out that the early phases of telephony, film, and radio offered similar opportunities for the hobbyist, inventor, and creative individual, only to be centralized and controlled by corporate interests, monopolized, broken into smaller entities, and then reconsolidated. Wu calls this the Cycle, and nowhere is it more exemplary than in the telecommunications industry. The question Wu raises is whether the Internet is different, or whether we are merely in the early open phase of a technology that is to be usurped and controlled by profiteering interests. Central in the power struggle is the difference between the way Apple Computer and Google treat content, with Apple attempting to control the user experience with slick products while Google endeavors to democratize content, giving the user choice and openness. This is an essential look at the directions that personal computing could be headed depending on which policies and worldviews come to dominate control over the Internet.

Bear with me now as I take you down a seemingly random path that, I assure you, will lead back to the overriding themes at hand. I once knew a man for whom the idea of eating food was nothing more than a means of attaining nourishment and proteins. So much so that after a workout, he would take a beautiful prime cut of beef and toss it headlong into a microwave. The fate of that particular portion of cow was to become a grey, rubbery slab of flavorless meat, with not so much as a sprinkle of pepper or salt to provide some modicum of dignity to the poor deceased beast.

As one who genuinely loves and appreciates a great meal, watching this nightly parade of food abomination was distressing to me, to say the least. So, if you’re like me and you truly love a great meal, imagine what your food world would look like if most available meals were manufactured by McDonalds. Sure, the occasional restaurant might pop up here and there offering something lovingly concocted by a real chef, someone with a deep love of food and food preparation, but that establishment wouldn’t last long enough to build up much of a customer base. No, I’m afraid most of your dining options would be, well, off the McD’s menu. Now, by comparison, an occasional meal at the Olive Garden would suddenly seem downright luxurious, downright masterful in both its preparation and combination of flavors. Olive Garden might even become the Holy Grail of good cooking in the hearts and minds of many. But in truth, we’d be salivating over a plate of supreme mediocrity. To me, Hollywood is the McDonald’s of filmmaking. And occasionally something comes out of the system (usually as a result of a big favor owed) that wows people. And that, my friends, is a meal at the Olive Garden. If you were a chef, you would not want to ply your craft at either McD’s or “The Garden.” They are not designed for you to do what it is you love. And the people who would most appreciate your work, your passion, your gift, would not frequent these places looking for what you have to offer. Anyone who knew what a good Italian meal was –or a good burger, for that matter– would mourn the loss of something exquisite, something great. They would shake their heads in collective misery at the loss of such an elegant art, the loss of that cherished human capacity to create and recognize something that embodies both complex and simple flavors, something which excites the taste buds and satisfies in such a gloriously primal way.

And so we return to my feelings about the current American film industry.

The state of Hollywood today is not good for films, filmmakers or audiences. And it hasn’t been for a long time. We’ve been in a steady decline for many years. And that’s more than just sour grapes or being a curmudgeon. Film is an art, a language, a beautiful and complex animal that mirrors the human condition. But Hollywood today is far from being a place to nourish such desires or, worse, to even dream of them. Perhaps with the way technology has changed, there will be no need for Hollywood anymore. Or maybe there will be a resurgence of filmmakers who truly love film and want to push the boundaries of the medium once again. To explore, to grow, to seek, to touch. But for every one of those, there are still thousands of others whose final destination is Hollywood. And that will yield nothing but mediocrity at its best. I wish it were otherwise. But in a town inundated with accountants and frat boys at the helm, we must look elsewhere for the fruits of the medium. But all of this is in keeping sync with the state of the union, not just the state of Hollywood. The Tea-Party, hard-core conservatism, rabid anti-intellectualism, money over people. It’s why Netflix is becoming the new Blockbuster and corporate interests override human/customer interest or loyalty. It’s why universal health care is demonized and Workers Unions the enemy. All of these things are reflected in one another. Reagan fueled the fire and it’s been snowballing ever since. Not just in politics or the economy, but in every corner of our collective consciousness. Our own Capitalist sensibilities have turned around and bitten us square in the ass and we’re only now starting to comprehend that those are our own teeth embedded there.

Nothing reflects the moods and tone of a nation better than its art. Our priorities as a nation and our ability to fight to accept as little as possible has been a deepening, festering wound. We will either heal it or die from it. I’m rooting for the former myself. But in the meantime, one of the repercussions is that our artists must look elsewhere to create their art, while businessmen and women parade around as filmmakers. And as caring politicians. All of whom would very much like you to try that bold new Angus Burger at McDonalds. Really, you’ll love it.

Hollywood And The Golden Arches Of Mediocrity

Is America Worth Saving?


It’s a question I’ve asked myself many a time. In fact, I find myself asking it about the entire human race from time to time. And the answer’s always the same: I sure as hell hope so.

I’d like to believe that we can grow and mature, learn from our mistakes. But like children who never believe the lessons of their parents and have to find out for themselves, the hard way, we continue to shoot ourselves in the head and then complain that no one told us the gun was loaded.

Two days ago, Massachusetts voters shat on the memory of the late Ted Kennedy by not only choosing a Republican to take his still-warm seat, but possibly killing an already watered-down Health Care Bill that was Mr. Kennedy’s life mission and dying wish. Did this really happen? How quickly we forget the atrocities committed by the Bush Administration. The party and ideology that destroyed our economy by redistributing wealth from the middle-class to the wealthiest Americans and corporations while simultaneously throwing us into a trillion dollar war that we had no moral or social right engaging in. Every American soldier who lost their life in Iraq lost it for a lie. And there are over 3,000 of them. Not to mention the over 100,000 Iraqis killed in that same ongoing war. The American people were twice victimized. First by the 9/11 attacks, then by a president who took advantage of our fear and shock. And now we’re voting these people back into power? Really?

Apparently, it is quite a task for the average American to measure the effectiveness of a president like Obama who saved us from falling into the abyss of an economic depression. Perhaps it would have been better if we had fallen into that abyss so that Americans would then have some understanding of what Obama accomplished by pulling us out. But too many Americans don’t seem to be able to weigh what a massive accomplishment avoiding that depression was and is. Or how close we were to it and what that reality would have looked like. We are an undereducated, incurious lot. And we are easily led. Sarah Palin, George W. Bush, Glenn Beck… They are all modern-day Joe McCarthys and legions of Americans are following them all over again.

All this said, Obama can certainly take a more definitive stand. Playing nice, it seems, gets little-to-nothing done. On the other hand, and I believe this is Obama’s logic, if we keep pushing our differing agendas in opposition to the other party, then we may find America in a damaging game of back and forth wherein one party is elected into office, disregards the other party’s beliefs and desires and forces its agenda no matter how severe (as the Bush Administration did from day one), and then the other party takes over again and reverses course until the first party takes control (again) and makes another u-turn. It’s a deadly circle that we could spin in for centuries without accomplishing a damn thing of consequence. Problem is, Americans only seem to respond to extremes. Subtlety is not taught in school and seems to float above the heads of many who miss the boat entirely and are lost and confused when someone points out what has been going on. They simply don’t believe it because they don’t have the tools to see it. We have societal and historical ADD. One year into the Obama Administration and hoards of Americans are already growing impatient and have forgotten the treacherous 8 years of lies, deaths and economic imbalance. Not to mention that we had a president on a religious Jihad all his own. From attempting to amend the constitution to conform to his Christian definition of marriage, to preemptively attacking Iraq in order to “erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”

So as sad as it may be, it seems the only way forward is to either try and meet Republicans halfway, or make the firm decision to move forward regardless of their wishes while we still can; to get as much done now and hope some of it sticks through later administrations. The biggest problem with meeting Republicans halfway, it seems, is that they don’t appear to be interested. So far as I can tell, the game that’s being played is “oppose Obama at every turn.” The notion being that if Obama is truly successful at fixing our national health care disaster, then he will most certainly get re-elected. And perhaps another Democrat will come after him! And God forbid he should bring any of these wars to an end or actually strengthen the economy. Then the corporations and the high-powered bigwigs who live off the blood of the less fortunate won’t get what they so desperately want (and have grown used to). And those very powerful organizations and the people whose pockets they regularly line will suffer greatly. And they are not willing to let that happen. Even if that means denying the American people their basic rights or fulfilling their basic needs. Like health care.

So, these men and women and the corporations behind them scream foul and create illusions of collapse and spoil that strike at the hearts of our most frightened and ignorant until they take to the streets en masse spouting misconceptions and incredulous at the mere notion that someone might actually be attempting to better their lives. And the Independents who don’t believe in anyone but knew that they were tired of Bush start to tire of Obama as well until they’re voting us right back into the abyss we just barely managed to crawl out of. And then there’s the lazy Democrats who just don’t get themselves out there to vote or campaign with enough vigor or resilience. Or the Blue Dog Democrats who just seem to be Republicans under a different name.

Meanwhile, Obama is in danger of being neutered by asking us to rise to an occasion we simply may not be ready for. His attempt to bring the parties and American people together ends up looking to Democrats like he’s not willing to go the extra mile and really take on the forces at hand –essentially “just another politician”— and Republicans see it as a sign of weakness and an opportunity to pounce.

All the while, the world watches and prays that we, currently the most powerful nation in the world (with China fast on our heels), find ourselves in the midst of a growth spurt that finally moves us out of our infancy and propels us into the world of the mature and self-aware. In the meantime, we’re a nation that essentially still believes in Santa Clause, hopes he’ll show up, and then shoots anything that comes down the chimney.

Is America Worth Saving?

What Would Palin Do?


My love/hate relationship with the extreme conservative right continues. Yes, I love how fascinatingly absurd they can be –beyond anything I could have imagined– and I hate the fact that there are people in this country ignorant enough to take them seriously. Well, let’s hope conservative Canadians are a smarter lot than our American conservative faction.

Canadian comedian Mary Walsh of This Hour Has 22 Minutes fame, visited Palin on one of her book-signing tours. Disguised as her conservative character Marg Delahunty, Mary tried to ask Palin a question during the book signing:

“I just wanted to ask you if you have any words of encouragement for Canadian conservatives who have worked so hard to try to diminish the kind of socialized medicine we have up there.”

Walsh was instantly surrounded by security and escorted out of the bookstore, even as Palin attempted to answer her question. Walsh’s response?

“We’re in a bookstore, at a public event, in a place one would think was a bastion of free speech. And no one was allowed to ask questions. What are they afraid of?”

Luckily, Walsh caught up with Palin outside (she had to hide in a loading dock) after the book-signing where Palin freely answered the question:

“Keep the faith because common sense conservatism can be plugged in there in Canada too. In fact, Canada needs to reform its health care system and let the private sector take over some of what the government has absorbed.”

Yeah. Canada needs to stop offering affordable health care to its citizens and start making Health Care a for-profit industry. Cause that’s gonna save lives, right? Because the American Health Care system is, like all things American, morally and economically advanced.

So what do Canadians think about Sarah Palin’s dream for their Health Care system? Well, according to The Raw Story:

A recent study (PDF) found that 90 percent of Canadians support universal, single-payer health care. A poll taken last summer shows 82 percent of Canadians believe their health care system to be better than the US’s, despite constant grumbling about waiting times for treatment of non-life-threatening conditions.


What Would Palin Do?

Mary Cheney & Her Lesbianic Home


Really, who is it out there that still finds some pride in being Republican? I’m sorry, but these days it seems to be a bastion of ignorance, intolerance and misguided anger. Fighting Health Care. And don’t tell me you simply don’t agree with Obama’s plan. I didn’t see any Republican’s trying to fix this nation’s health care problem under 8 years of Bush. No, I really don’t think the well-being of the American people is truly at the heart of today’s Republican Party.

Nor is Equal Rights and Freedom. Those crazy “liberal” notions. The intolerance of the Republican base is always astounding, though never surprising. I hate to paint in such broad strokes and often attempt to do otherwise, but when I see partisan politics overriding the well-being of a nation’s people, I get angry. And when I see the intolerance of hatred, on display any which way you turn these days, I get sick to my stomach.

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Mary Cheney

Here are some comments from the conservative Free Republic website in reaction to the news that Dick Cheney’s daughter, Mary, and her long-time partner Heather Poe, are expecting another baby:

I respect Dick Cheney, but I don’t understand why he is allowing his daughter to take innocent children into her lesbianic home. Can anyone claim that these kids won’t be scarred for life? So sad.
Also repugnant, IMNSHO, is the use of “they are expecting a child” when, for obvious reasons “they” could not POSSIBLY have conceived. It is the slight of hand that the left does with rediculous name reversals (like “FAMILY PLANNING”) that implies something that in fact does just not happen…
As much as I don’t like it, God will have to sort this out in the end.
Who is the father? Yes, you selfish lesbians, there is ALWAYS a father. Not that the baby will benefit from one. sick.
I wonder if Hallmark makes a card for this occasion? Yathink? Congratulations on your baster bastard?

“I respect Dick Cheney, but I don’t understand why he is allowing his daughter to take innocent children into her lesbianic home. Can anyone claim that these kids won’t be scarred for life? So sad.”

“Also repugnant, IMNSHO, is the use of “they are expecting a child” when, for obvious reasons “they” could not POSSIBLY have conceived. It is the slight of hand that the left does with rediculous name reversals (like “FAMILY PLANNING”) that implies something that in fact does just not happen…”

“As much as I don’t like it, God will have to sort this out in the end.”

“Who is the father? Yes, you selfish lesbians, there is ALWAYS a father. Not that the baby will benefit from one. sick.”

“I wonder if Hallmark makes a card for this occasion? Yathink? Congratulations on your baster bastard?”

Ahhh, land of the free and home of the brave… and hateful, and intolerant, and…

Mary Cheney & Her Lesbianic Home

Bill Moyers on Tea Party Organizer Dick Armey


Tonight on Bill Moyers Journal, Moyers exposes the inner workings and history of Tea Party organizer and FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey, who has used huge industry donations to fund “Tea Party” rallies across the nation.

“Here’s the catch,” Moyers states. “Something these marchers who came to Washington at Armey’s urging could hardly be expected to know. For most of his adult life, their leader has benefited from just the kind of government tax-supported health care he’s fighting to keep them from having too…

“Dick Armey is the epitome of those people with power and privilege who are insured against the vicissitudes of life and want no government assistance for any suffering except their own.”

Go HERE to watch a clip from tonight’s show.

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Bill Moyers on Tea Party Organizer Dick Armey

Jimmy Carter Grieves Obama-Directed Racism From Wilson & Others


People Carter AngelouAt a town hall held today at his presidential center, Jimmy Carter stated about Joe Wilson’s outburst during President Obama’s speech to Congress last week that:

“I think it’s based on racism. There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president… I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man.”

Mr. Carter believes Wilson’s outburst is part of a trend directed at President Obama:

“Those kind of things are not just casual outcomes of a sincere debate on whether we should have a national program on health care. It’s deeper than that.”

To counter Mr. Carter’s belief, Dick Harpootlian, a former chairman of the Democratic Party in South Carolina and someone who has known Wilson for a long time, stated:

“I think Joe’s conduct was asinine, but I think it would be asinine no matter what the color of the president. I don’t think Joe’s outburst was caused by President Obama being African-American. I think it was caused by no filter being between his brain and his mouth.

“You have a bunch of folks out there looking for some comfort in their racial issues. They have a problem with an African-American president. But was he motivated by that? I don’t think so. I respectfully disagree with President Carter, though it gives validity to racism.”

Here is Mr. Carter speaking on MSNBC:

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Jimmy Carter Grieves Obama-Directed Racism From Wilson & Others