Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Obama is History!

Obama is Toast!

Obama will never get elected and it is all thanks to you Democrats. Why? You don't vote. That's why Republicans will rule the roost for the next half century at least. Think of it: George Bush clones, one after the other. W upon W upon W. No more global warming nonsense, no more abortion, no more bankruptcy, no more interference with oil drilling. Business will rule!

How do I know? Because you Dumbocrats never vote! You can't get off your dead asses and get to the polls.

Item: Here in DuPage County, Illinois, there were about 23,000 more Democratic votes in the last election than there were Republican votes. Yet there are NO Democratic office holders in DuPage County. There are a few Democratic office holders who's districts overlap from the surrounding predominantly Democratic counties into DuPage. But for all elected officials who's districts are enclosed by DuPage County, there is not one Democrat. In other words, 23,000 Democratic votes are not enough to defeat one Republican. That's a weak party. Hell, if you look at it the other way around, in Chicago, you only need about 5 Democrats to come to the polls to balance off 23,000 Republican votes.

Item: The whole state of Florida couldn't find an extra 600 votes for Gore in the last election so what's to worry? The South Florida seniors who are supposed to be so heavily Democratic couldn't figure out how to put a hole in a punch card. The Republicans should see them as a threat?

Item: There's a big hoopla about how the youth vote is registering in tremendous numbers. Who cares? They don't vote. When the snooze alarm finally goes off at 7:55 in that college kid's dorm, where do you think he's going to go? To his 8AM class or to the polling place? I've got news for you. He's going to miss his 9AM class and finally go to the 10AM class. He'll get there at 10:15. They won't vote.

Item: The senior vote. The seniors always vote. Bunk. I'll tell you the truth about the senior vote. I saw it on the news last week plain as day. In a diner, a national anchor man was asking who was going to vote for whom? In the back you could clearly see an old man put his hand up for McCain and his wife slap his arm down. Yeah, right. We Republicans really have to worry about the senile vote. NOT!

Item: Minorities. Let's start with Blacks/African Americans, whatever the PC name is this week.

Older black people, those who have some idea of what the words Jim Crow mean, are as confused as their representatives. That's why the Democratic congressional majority couldn't get Bush out of Iraq! In the Democratic Party nobody is leading because nobody is following. You can't represent a nonexistent constituency and older black adults have no opinion on the war because only their lazy disappointing children have to go fight that war. Older black people are too busy worrying about their retirement to care about the war. They think they are Republicans!

Younger blacks are apathetic. Better yet, they're too uninformed to be called apathetic. They're too deaf from having their ears stuffed with IPod headsets to even have an opinion about an election much less walk an extra block to the polling place. They won't vote.

Same thing goes for young whites. The rich ones don't care and the poor whites are too busy signing up for the military, which is the only job they can get. If they're dumb enough to ignore their parents warning and believe the patriotic nonsense the recruiters and the White House give them, perhaps cannon fodder is all they're good for. They won't be around to vote. Even if they were, their superiors will make sure they're on patrol for ALL of election day.

As for our Mexican population, at least for the ones who are legal enough to vote, they are too angry and disillusioned over a black man beating Hillary. Not that machismo has suddenly decided to respect women, but Hillary was their best hope for an immigration bill to legalize the brother-in-law. So what else is there to live for if you're Mexican? They will not vote.

Same goes for women. They won't vote. If they were dumb enough to parade around with placards shouting, "Hillary, Hillary" for weeks after Hillary herself told them to support Barack, they're too disillusioned to vote for Obama. Better yet, they'll probably vote for McCain. Hell hath no furry like a woman scorned, right?

Item: Dems in general are disillusioned because the Democratic Congressional Majority couldn't end the republican war. Because Congress, and the entire nation for that matter, was so shocked by W's war plan based on such bold intelligence lies the Democratic majority couldn't end the war for fear of being seen as not supporting the troops. A more perfect example of a people getting exactly the government they deserve, I could not create.

And it will happen again. The Democratic voters are disillusioned and can't make up their minds. They will not come out to vote. They're so angry the Democratic Majority in Congress couldn't do the impossible, the Democratic voters will bite off their noses just to spite their faces. - © Copyright 2008 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

White Sox or Black Sox?

Chicago Cubs or Yellowstone Garbage Thieves?

My sister, a Die Hard Cubs Fan, wrote to me the following from Minneapolis:

What was the news in Chicago when the Cubs lost 3 straight? Up here, there was nothing. I mean nothing. I know this is an American League town, but still - there was absolutely nothing. Just goes to show, what you may think is important, someone else could care less.

I wrote back from Chicago:

Ah, they're all crying in their beer and moaning about, "Next Year."

Personally, I think someone really ought to be looking into who bet what on the games. They didn't just lose, they put on SCUBA equipment for that dive. Mask, fins, dry suits, buoyancy compensators, dive computers.... they looked like Navy Seals getting ready to attach underwater mines to Russian Spy Trawlers in the North Sea. Both the Cubs and Sox.

And really, how much more perfect could it have been....Both the Cubs and Sox are winning....There's talk of a subway series.....The cubs have the best record in all of baseball and are a sure thing so nobody is even thinking of betting against them....except Vegas maybe....Then last week over espresso, Tony Big Tuna up and says, "Has anybody asked any of the players if they realize that there's 3 times as much money to be made taking a dive as there is in a win?"

And Paul the Waiter Rica chimes in with, "Yeah, and the way things are going, people will be stunned like a deer in the headlights if the Cubs lose in 3. We could move over to the South Side and do the exact same thing with the Sox before anyone even swept out the taverns."

I don't know much about baseball but I know about life: Nobody is the best one day and the worst the next day. And surely not twice in a row in the same City in the same week.

Does this one pass EITHER the laugh test OR the smell test? - © Copyright 2008 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Enough of the Bailout Baloney

How about some Trickle up Economics?

Forget the bailout. Forget this tired old discredited idea from the people who had their hand up the hand puppet/actor who was the president that brought us the last banking (savings and loan) crisis.

Forget about giving away free money to the rich who don't know how to run anything, let alone a businesses. Who's the fool who came up with this idea that a government of middle aged, middle class college educated Americans can't run a country but a bunch of post adolescent rich boys who can't put on their sox without a butler can?

Trickle down economics doesn't work. We've seen that from the first day of the reign of the napping president and the divinating first lady.

Trickle up economics DOES work. We saw that through the 30s, the 40s, the 50s, and the 60s. Put the American worker to work and let him and his family be well off. THAT'S THE WAY TO MAKE AMERICA RICH.

How can any person advocate the invigoration of this country's economy when they speak of cutbacks. The way to prosperity is through growth and expansion, not cutbacks. People who talk of cutbacks have a fundamental lack of understanding about the US Economy: They don't understand the Cash to Cash cycle.

The Cash to Cash Cycle is this: Cash buys inventory (or services, or labor). Inventory becomes sales. Sales bring in more cash. Saving money, whether it is squirreled away in someone's price inflated house or corporate stocks and bonds in someone's safe deposit box does no one any good. Prosperity comes from people earning money at their job and spending it at their neighbor's job.

The reason we're in the mortgage crisis now is because the only way the inflating price in someone's house does anyone any good is if they keep refinancing and spending the cash. And we can see where that's gotten us. It's driven us to ruin because that's the wrong source of cash!

The reason we're in the banking crisis now is because constantly churning, buying and selling the same tired old non productive or delinquent negotiable paper back and forth is a bad source of cash.

The best source of cash is production of useful, durable assets by well paid, well cared for, motivated, industrious workers. That is what the American Economy ran on in the lion's share of the last century and that is what we've shipped overseas to other nations. We've handed our prosperity over to them on the false promise of a sleepy head, actor president's handlers.

And what makes my ideology any better than anyone else's? Because I espouse no ideology. I only advocate a government of the people, by the people and for the people. I trust the American People to govern themselves. A pox on those continually screaming for smaller government because Business Can Do It All. Where has Business brought us now. Business is just another part of our society. Business is not to be worshiped. Business needs to be checked and balanced just like any other part of society. Bring back the OSHA and the banking regulators that the Sleepy Headed Actor President took an axe to.

I worship one God. I don't worship government or business. When I speak of workers, I mean the person doing the job, man or woman. When I speak of household I don't care what form it takes as long as it is prosperous, stable and well provided for. It takes intelligent, educated, thoughtful people working together charitably toward a common goal.

$700Billion of free money to a dozen already rich bankers will do no one any good. $700 billion of new roads and bridges and public infrastructure will benefit 10s of millions of people. Why have we been believing those fools who have been telling us all those years the the American Government must be a pay as you go, balanced budget entity just like the American Family? There hasn't been a prosperous family in the history of the world that has lived pay as you go. Every family or organization in the world since the beginning of time has used credit. And rightly so if they're using the credit wisely to buy capital items like a house, car, refrigerator, washer/dryer, which they pay off well before the usefulness of the capital item has run out.

The real foolishness is financing war on credit. The real foolishness is financing the creation and immediate destruction of weapons of war which will not be paid for for many years to come. The real foolishness is turning young, healthy, productive Americans into broken, battle scared paraplegics and then trying to cheat them out of proper health care because that care has to be financed.

Why can we spend $1.5 Trillion on a totally unjustified war, but we can't spend the $100 Billion which would totally rejuvenate health care, welfare, social security and infrastructure.

There is nothing wrong about expanding the Federal Debt to pay for productive research and capital improvement, even if that research sounds funny to you. Researching cow farts and a lot of other projects may sound like a waste of money, but I'd rather trust an America run by the American Congress than an America run by Multinational businessmen.

The Wall Street Boys are blind fools hoarding their money. They can't see that it is exactly this hoarding where the rich get rich that is impoverishing us all, rich and poor alike. The Wall Street Boys are blind fools who hated Roosevelt for the New Deal even though the New Deal benefited the entire nation, rich and poor alike. The New Deal, the Great Society, the War on Poverty and all the other public works projects were the well spring of the river of wealth that poured through this country for most of the last century. But the Wall Street Boys think that if everyone is rich, no one is rich. These fools can only perceive wealth by contrasting it against extreme poverty and misery. They dance and rejoice at burning buildings and plane crashes.

The total amount of welfare given to the citizens of this country since the 1940s to today isn't a drop in the bucket compared to the first savings and loan crisis. Or the second banking crisis. Or the third financial crisis which is sure to come if we keep trying to feed the sacred hog. But Wall Streets is grieved by every dime it can't keep for itself.

It is not cutbacks which create wealth. Getting rid of Earmarks will not generate wealth. Government waste is not the problem. My God, there is always waste and inefficiency in every organization and endeavor. The only reason Government looks bad is because no one ever looks to see how much business wastes. But now that we begin to hear how drug companies profit by sending out of date drugs and medical supplies as relief supplies to areas of disaster and war refugee camps we begin to understand how business hides its waste by cheating the government and poisoning the unfortunate. We are now seeing in China what business will do when it is completely unregulated. It will kill our pets with contaminated pet food and it will kill their own infants with contaminated formula. All the cutbacks, eliminated Earmarks and efficiencies together DO NOT EVEN EQUAL A ROUNDING ERROR IN THE FEDERAL BUDGET!

What this country needs is work. Steady, efficient, productive work, not on phony make work projects, but on real necessities. Are these hard to find? Do we not all agree that we need to repair most of the roads, bridges, sewers, water and utility systems in this country? Do we not agree that we need more schools, recreational centers and land improvements? Do we not all agree that we need more public hospitals which were a public asset until the health care industry paid off public guardians to take the public hospitals private? Could we not rebuild the housing stock of this country if housing were not priced as a luxury item and manipulated as a magical financial instrument?

Privatization of our society was to have been the salvation of America. And what has privatization done for us? Nothing. Instead of huge savings it has produced huge artificial profits for those in control of the projects. And what has it produced for the beneficiaries of the formerly public institutions? Privatization has produced hardship, deprivation, cruelty and poor service, while the hapless public guardians justify themselves by quibbling over whether there has been a .5% or a 1% savings from privatization.

The only reason for privatization was the greed of those who saw a little going to many. These greedy wanted to take that little from many and hoard it as a windfall for the few and to hell with the people.

What this country needs is to bring back Unions. Yes, Unions. During the 40s through the 70s the unparalleled prosperity of this country was paralleled by the unparalleled success of unions.

It was the sleepy headed sock puppet president who presided over the demise of unions.

When unions first came about, they were very reasonable and concerned with the worker. The only reasons that unions got off the track and unreasonable in some ways is because of the greed of management. Running a company is work. Negotiating with a Union is work. It will interfere with your golf game and management didn't like that. Management saw the aggregate of the pittance increase that the unions won for their workers and was envious of that aggregate. Rather than sharpening their negotiating skills to keep the union demands reasonable, management decided to squash the unions so they could reinstate the management golf outing. Management lobbyists bought anti union legislation, management hired union busting law firms and management, rather than cooperating and making the grievance system work, they delayed and thwarted until the unions became bitter and couldn't negotiate reasonably with an unreasonable management.

If you think that unions were bad for this country, you've been listening to those who controlled the sleepy headed sock puppet president. Try reading a book by one of the labor/management professors at the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana. You don't have to believe them. Just read the other side of the story and make up your own mind.

It's time to forget all the religious smoke screens and all the character red herrings and elect a man based on who's interests he represents. The only real question that needs to be answered about a presidential candidate is, "Will he represent 10% of the people or will he honestly represent 100% of the American people."

If the religious right could worship and adore a president who's life was run by his wife's astrologers, then religion means little in politics.

If those who espouse the worship of good character can swallow the current president who utterly lacks personality as well as intelligence as well as any character at all, then character means little in politics.

What has meaning in politics is, "Is this guy trying to improve the quality of life for ALL the people of this country, or is he just trying to get into my pocket?"

$700 Billion will do far more for this country and even the world if it is injected into the American economy by creating jobs than $7 Trillion would if injected into the banking system.

And what will happen to Wall Street while the jobs are being created? What will happen is the same thing that would happen if Congress did absolutely nothing: Those who merit credit will get it. Those who do not merit credit will not get it. It is as simple as that.

TV news has been screaming collapse. The talking heads cry that we will all suffer if there is no bailout. That's more of the same baloney. The only concrete thing that has happened is that the Libor Interbank Rate has increased dramatically. What this means in our financial system is that anyone who needs credit can get it just as easily today as they could yesterday. They just have to pay more. We will all have to pay more for credit. Paying more isn't desirable but what is less desirable....MUCH less desirable would be to go through with the $700 Billion Bailout and artificially reduce the true cost of credit. Reducing the true cost of credit would just allow more of those who are already drunk on credit, to become drunker still. Artificially lowering the cost of credit would just move the calamity another year into the future where it would cost $800 Billion and could be blamed on the Democrats if they are then in power. Think about that one! - © 2008 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Old Money

Realizing That You've Moved to One Of America's Richest Counties

I've only lived at my current digs for a year and I'm a hermit so I'm not particularly familiar with the neighborhood. Naturally, I've found a new grocer, hardware, swimming pool, bakery, tailor and all the other things you have to rediscover when you endure the nightmare of moving.

But I haven't yet taken an extensive Sunday drive and looked at the neighborhood and the homes to see just who my new neighbors are. To be truthful, I lived here for about a year when I first moved out on my own about 40 years ago. I have some familiarity with the town I now live in and east of here toward Chicago, where I'm from. But the real money seems to start with the town to the west of here and I have had very little reason to go that way, so I'm still unfamiliar with the west side of the county for the most part.

Today, I was still actually in or less than 500 yards west of my town, but I noticed something which told me a great deal about where I now live.

To digress again, I have to admit that I noticed today's actual fact quite sometime in the past year, but the MEANING of what I saw didn't hit me until just today when I noticed it fresh again.

And one further digression about the county I now live in. From the little I've seen and the little more I already knew, the money in this county is old money. If you look around at the older houses, they are large but not ostentatious. They are the kind of houses that are large because they have many rooms and maybe an addition or two. These houses were built back when the successful had part of the family living with them and perhaps an employee and a guest or two. Back then, people didn't come and go within days and stay in motels like they do today. If people traveled, they stayed weeks or months and were treated like family. Unlike the huge new homes of today, the bedrooms were not 40'x50'. 50-70 years ago before 102" screen TVs, the personal possessions of even the rich fit in one closet. So while these houses are large, they are understated. The lots are roomy but not immense. The landscape is well cared for but they're just nice. They don't try to outdo each other.

And the last thing you realize when you look hard at these homes is that they are works of art. Unlike most of the Metropolitan Chicago Area where tract homes prevail, here each home was designed by a different architect, just for that family, just for that lot and they have a quiet beauty. Nothing is mass produced. Each home is made of a different material. Each is oriented just a bit differently on the lot. Each home was fit to its space. Unlike the typical tract home developments, there is no evidence here that hectares were scraped clean so that the economies of scale would be most available to the builders. These homes were built with respect for the land. Even when they used the same material, they didn't use the same material. Two adjacent homes may be masonry, but one is brick and the next is stone. Across the street, one may be wood clapboard and the next is cedar shake.

I'm not an architect or a builder, but I am an artist. I didn't look all this up about the area. I just looked at the neighborhood and I know a work of art when I see one. I can recognize the character of the artist, his assistants and his patrons by looking at his art. And I'd be willing to bet a lot of money that my evaluation of the neighborhood is substantially correct.The overall impression of the neighborhood is that it's just another middle class neighborhood full of modest single family homes, until you take a really good look. Then you realize that these people have enough money to live in homes that comprise a whole area designed piece by piece by hundreds of people who had the talent, if not the fame, of Frank Lloyd Wright. These are the kind of people who have to call in Norm Abrams and This Old House when they want repairs to match.

So let me give you my evaluation of the detail I noticed this morning.

I went to the Post Office to mail a letter and on the way back I stopped at the forest preserve for a short walk which I didn't take. As usual I made the stupid excuse that I was on too much of a roll, work wise, this morning to interrupt the flow by taking a 10 minute walk. Can I make excuses or what?

But while I was sitting there arguing with myself it hit me again. I saw the edge of the forest.

I don't know where these type are any more, but forest preserve parking lots used to be just a large space in the middle of the woods. In the Chicago area, as of about 50 years ago, they were paved. As of about 15-30 years ago, they put in nice curbs and painted lines like a supermarket parking lot. They had to do it to keep people from driving 500 yards further into the meadow because they were too lazy to schlep their barbecue grill to the picnic area.

The last civilized improvement to forest preserves (other than paved jogging/bicycle trails, water fountains, baseball diamonds, socker pitches, play grounds, restrooms and permanent cooking grills) was a 5'-20' border beyond the parking lot curb. This border was usually just created by mowing the indigenous vegetation. Because it was mown short, the area would fill in with grass, dandelions and other compact weeds.

Not where I live!

I had noticed before that, at my local forest preserve, the area just beyond the parking lot curb was manicured but it never hit me before; "This is the forest preserve, not City Hall or the local History Museum".The grass adjacent to the curb is not short prairie plants. It is not wild grass. It is not even crab grass which by virtue of time and tenacity has taken over. The area adjacent to the curb is SOD!! In some areas the strip between the curb and the forest is wider and there are a few individual trees within the parking strip. The base of these trees are CULTIVATED and MULCHED WITH WOOD CHIPS!! It's like an airplane that has both first class and coach. Up to the curtain, on the one side there are wide seats and real metal flatware while on the other side, you are seated like sardines and given plastic sporks with which to eat. In my forest, for the first 20-40 feet the trees live like kings. Beyond that are the poor relations within the preserve.

Again, to be completely honest, this particular preserve is also home to the county forest preserve vehicle maintenance facility. I imagine that has something to do with how well the grounds are cared for. Still, where I park and where I noticed the landscaping are far from the maintenance facility.

And I'm not complaining! Not in the least. It's nice for a change to be able to visit a forest preserve where the local visitors treat the park as a wonder of nature rather than as an amusement park. In this preserve there's barely a stray scrap of paper to be found let alone beer cans and food wrappers. If my belief in the theory that people get the government they deserve, I think I will enjoy getting to know my new neighbors.

I like it. - © 2008 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Why I like Michael Moore's Movies

Despite His Failings of Craft, Moore's Heart is in the Right Place

Someone Needs to Present His Message

Recently I made comments to the effect that I thought Michael Moore is a terrible film maker. Despite the advice of Lee Iaccoca ("Never Complain, Never Explain!") I'd like to explain.

The messages brought to us by Michael Moore's movies are terrific. I'm overjoyed that he made them. I can't emphasize enough what a hero I think he is. I just think that he has no idea of how to make a documentary. In fact on the surface it looks like he has no idea of how to make any kind of film.

The good news is, he seems to be learning from his mistakes and his films seem to be getting better. I only base that on the fact that I thought The Big One was much better than Bowling for Columbine or Roger and Me.

Here are the problems with Moore's films as I see them: First, his poor brand of ambush journalism quickly becomes tiresome and irritating. Worse yet it can leave the viewer almost feeling sorry for the villain!

In Roger and Me or Bowling for Columbine, Moore troops into corporate HQ with the cameras and the victims and what seems like little plan except to get some juicy footage. Moore stands there and snivels and whines and tries to argue with his protagonist about the ethics of what the company is doing.

And for me, that just doesn't work. Nobody is going to argue the ethics of working for their employer. If they like the place, they think they're doing a good thing and want to get on with the job of the organization, not waste time fencing words with you. If they agree with you, they'd be behind you rather than in front of you and their employer would never have found them to send them down to talk to you.

If Moore is lucky enough to get an interview with a corporate officer, that 'captain of industry' isn't going to debate Moore. Hack corporate officers are stupid enough to think their actions are altruistic rather than self interested, but they never get into the ethics argument. All you get from a corporate officer is irritation. In the guy's face you can see him thinking, "After all my hard work to get where I am at the salary I'm making, why am I fencing words with an idiot in grubbies who rented a camera? If I want this type of abuse I can go home to my family."

That's a true and honest emotion with which the audience can identify. Nobody likes to be challenged on their home ground by a guest of the house. And that begins to engender the audience's sympathy toward the villain which is counter to Moore's purpose!

That's why you have to respect people like Dick Clark who, in Bowling for Columbine, blow off Moore as soon as they realize what he, Moore, is up to. You see??!! Moore did it right there! How can I respect Dick Clark, a multimillionaire who made his money in a pursuit Michael Moore is trying to trash? Because Moore showed me how smart Dick Clark is. Moore showed me that Clark is perceptive, hard working and decisive which are all qualities to be admired. I'm sure Moore did NOT want to do that for me.

Worse yet, is when Moore has to interview a corporate public relations flak.

Corporate PR people come in all shapes and sizes. After all, it is said that the devil can appear in the form of an 'Angel of Light'. (2 Corinthians 11.14) The absolute wost PR flack is the green, uninformed youngster who has been given the job because their father, the owner of the company, has been told he needs a PR person, but the father doesn't really believe in the need for a professional in the position. The young person hems and haws trying to present their corporate skulduggery in the best light but, like George W. Bush, a fine example of this type though about 40 years older than usual for the part, they finally fall back on the, "But we're really nice people and just trying to make a living. You can't blame us for a few thousand cases of childhood leukemia on one block." This PR person just enrages you more in view of the fact that the documentarian is wasting YOUR time making you watch their dismal performance.

The next worst PR flak is the tired, late middle ager who really doesn't believe what he's saying, but is trying to keep his job for a few more years so he can retire and move away from the workplace before he catches whatever they're spewing. He's a little more entertaining because he's the visible extension of the company's deceit. Moore brought us this exact person in the auto company PR flack in Roger and Me.

The 'almost worst PR flak' Moore also brought to us in one of his pieces. It might have been The Big One, but I'm not sure. She was a small, petite woman, mid to late middle age and fierce. She was really knowledgeable and persuasive but with the hard eyes of a hired gun who doesn't care what she's saying because in the end, she'd front for whoever pays her well.

Finally, for my money, the worst PR flaks are the ones who are not so young but not so old. They are old enough to be fairly knowledgeable and they haven't been raped too many times by their bosses so they still have some loyalty. And worst of all, they really, really, really believe in what they are saying.

It is not for nothing that corporations employ public relations staff. They are good at what they do and Moore more or less gets his head handed to him. Some of the best PR people who Moore has interviewed have practically been the stars of the movie! It's amazing and highly entertaining to watch someone who is very good at their job. And public relations people who can take questions about death and destruction and hand you back hope and sweetness and light are really good at their jobs. And there's another problem.

When Moore asks the, "Do you think it's right to drop flaming Napalm onto little children?" type question, and the flak's answer is so smooth and so convincing that you discover yourself finding some understanding for the Napalm side of things, then you just get sick and bored and abhorrent over the whole afternoon. Who wants to watch a movie that makes you sick and bored.

This unfortunately is the content of way too much of Michael Moore's films. While the stories that Moore tells need desperately to be told, the way he tells them leave us depressed and squirming in our seats. I don't expect documentaries about corporate atrocities to be light comedy, but when a documentary leaves you feeling dejected and defeated, it's almost better that you not see the movie. Why? I want a documentary that brings me to my feet with rage and the determination to do something and never let it happen again! Really good documentaries can evoke commitment from the audience.

Moore did this in one of his movies. I believe it was in the film The Big One. In the interview with Phil Knight, the CEO of Nike, Moore isn't debating the ethics of child labor with Knight. Moore finds out that Knight has never been to Southeast Asia. It just comes out in the conversation that Knight has never been to one of his shoe factories in Indonesia. Then Moore has a scene which is pure genius wherein Moore offers to buy plane tickets to Asia if only Knight will come and visit his own factories.

This is advocacy journalism at its finest. The average person can't remotely imagine what it is like to own factories on the other side of the planet and to be so rich that you have never been to these factories to check on your own money! When Moore offered to buy plane tickets to go visit the factories and even went so far as to give the assurance that they would be first class tickets, he had me on my feet cheering! Yeah! Yeah! This guy is pure slime.

First, I have no idea what first class round trip tickets to the other side of the globe cost, but I'll bet just two would cost about what most people make in a year, give or take. If somebody offered me free tickets to the orient, I'd go just for the ride. If someone were offering to buy 'him-n-me' tickets, plus the tickets for a whole film crew, how could I turn him down?

But Knight is so rich, and the wealth pouring into his pockets from the child labor in Asia is so trivial to him, that he can't even be bothered to take a free ride to go check on his own investment. That to me was astounding. That to me spoke of a man who was so insulated by his own wealth that he not only didn't have the capacity to care about abused children, he didn't even care about his own reputation. Even Cathy Lee at least made a show of claiming to eschew sweat shops.

Knight's life is so sweet that he was barely annoyed that Moore was trying to find fault with Knight's use of child labor. Here's a man who is so rich, he's not even bothered by attacks on his own reputation because, apparently, he's so rich that as soon as this interview is over he can go right back to La Dolce Vita without missing a beat! Yikes! Another guy with a special place in hell already laid out for him. That would sure scare me into church and onto my knees.

And please, I admit to being a critic. I'm not a film maker. I realize I am sometimes raising questions I can't answer. But as with Michael, I hope you excuse this because I'm explaining prior comments here.

I applaud Michael Moore for the documentaries he has made. I long for someone who can make better ones. Hopefully an older, wiser Michael Moore. - © 2008 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Fear Mongering

On the Subject of: The People Really Do Get the Government They Deserve

If you love fear, that's what you'll get

For some reason, at this point , my Net Flix' queue is loaded up with documentaries. I finally got around to watching Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine.

I happen to think that Moore is a terrible film maker, but he's incredibly lucky. His message is so important that it vastly overshadows his failings of craft. Whatever the truth is about Moore's film making abilities, I believe his heart is in the right place and that's why people watch his movies. He has a message that the people of America are getting the shaft by the big boys and that resonates with the populace. That's why people like me, a firearms owner, will watch Bowling for Columbine which was a terrible documentary, yet one with a compelling subject.

One of the problems with Moore's movies which was particularly evident in Bowling is that he asks a lot of really important questions yet he never comes up with an answer. It is a testament to the gravity of Moore's subjects that he can get away with asking so many earthshakingly fundamental questions and never come up with an answer.

That's why so many of us firearms owners keep saying, "It's not the Guns!!" Moore's own movie makes that point. Many of the people he interviews say as much even though Moore himself seemingly can't bring himself to blurt it out.

Anyway, one of the points Moore seems to make in Bowling for Columbine is that in the US, the media bombards us continually with images and news to scare us. And it's true. And one of the examples, other than the nightly news, is, for my money, the absolute best indication that people in this country love to be scared. That's the series Cops and all its spinnoffs.

Moore was right on the money asking the purveyor of the show, why they always show some poor black guy or some seedy white trash running from the police? Why don't they show the cops running down some corporate CEO who's chemical plant blew up and killed 8,000 Hindu and Muslim Indian villagers?

The producer mumbled something to the effect that the footage is rare, people don't watch that, blah, blah, blah. The truth is, that a CEO perp walk IS rare and hard to get. Police don't usually have the opportunity to make an unnegotiated arrest of the rich and powerful. The real truth is that his audience doesn't require him to work that hard. The people who watch Cops type shows are more than happy to see the dregs of society get beaten and arrested.

You don't think so? How long has Cops been running? How many viewers does America's Most Wanted have? How many people can think of nothing finer than to sit back and watch Maury Povitch or Jerry Springer trot out another young woman who is accusing her 7th boyfriend of being the father of her child after the first six passed the paternity DNA test?The viewers will get the cheapest, easiest to produce shows that they will settle for.

If people didn't watch Cops and America's Most Wanted and Maury or Jerry, they'd be off the air in less than a season.

If people watched PBS more, it wouldn't be sliding into a merry-go-round of 'Anti-Fat' and 'How to Make a Billion by Investing Your Money Wisely for Six Generations' shows.

But if the question Moore fails to answer is, "Why do the American People settle for second, third, fourth best and even wallow in the corporate Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld & Rice Inc. worst?", what is MY answer?

My answer, I'm ashamed to say, is that there is a great deal of evil in the American People. It is the 'Cover My Ass, Forget About the Next Guy' kind of evil which creeps up on you. It goes from the bottom to the top and back again. Why else would a country of laboring consumers be so pro business?

You can see this evil in the smallest of things in the most ordinary day to day places to the provinces of the greatest and once most well respected: Why else would I notice in the parking lot of a my neighborhood's brand new supermarket that people had left shopping carts all OVER the place even though no place in the lot was more than 5 steps from the next cart coral.

What else but evil greed could turn so many of the doctors in a nation and their national organization into a hog about to suffocate because its snout is so deeply buried in the trough that it would allow insurance companies to usurp their (the doctors) fiduciary responsibility to their patients. How can you possibly take an oath to "First, do no harm" and then prescribe drugs based on the kickback you get from the drug companies rather than the symptoms of your patients?

The answer is not that we've all been taken advantage of and we are just trying to get back a little of our own. That's not even a good reason, let alone an excuse. The answer is that because of the loss of the sense of community, we have become evil toward our neighbor. The answer is that because of a lack of faith in a Creator we have become so concerned for our own safety that we are willing to climb over others to keep our heads above water.

Until we become confident enough in our own ultimate end and begin to help the other fellow into the raft first, he will never be there to extend a hand and pull us out of the water. The sharks will have us all. - © 2008 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Resounding Victory for Free Speech

Congratulations to Columbia University for Presenting Mahmoud ImaNutJob

"But King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will buy it for the full price; I will not take for the Lord what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings which cost me nothing.”
Columbia University did us all a great service this past Monday. There's no doubt about it. They hosted a Talk by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia University’s World Leaders Forum. How big a favor did they do us? Their offering was very costly to them. And the star of the show giving the speech provided us with a phrase which will live forever.

As to the cost of all the turmoil surrounding the visit of President NutJob, I have to once again say, I don't understand. I really don't understand. This may sound cryptic, but I have to say that we still haven't learned the lessons of the Viet-Nam War. Even though this came up at the start of the current Iraq war, let me refresh everyone. For a HUGE number of soldiers who returned from the Viet-Nam War, the homecoming was not a pleasant experience. Our nation was (and is) still learning proper expression of political discourse. We were still at the "Kill the Messenger" stage. The war was hugely unpopular and upon the return home of the soldiers, many protesters took their anger at the politicians out on the soldiers themselves. Returning soldiers were actually spit upon. We had not yet learned to separate the messenger from the message.

To this day, we have not learned to separate the messenger from the message. This has come up again recently with everyone tiptoeing around our troops and trying to be sure that they make the point that, while we dislike the war and the politicians who wage the war, we support our troops as our defenders and our pride and joy. Of course we support our troops. The troops did an outstanding job. It's the war and the politicians who started the war with whom we have a bone to pick.

In this context, why is it that people can't let a college bring in a controversial speaker without all the invective against the college host? If you want to protest the speaker and his policies and practices, fine. Although, as I'm from the part of Chicago just south of the suburb of Skokie, I can tell you that protesting people like ImaNutJob is severely counterproductive. The village of Skokie, just north of Chicago is full of Jewish holocaust survivors. Years back when the American Nazi party wanted to exercise their free speech rights by marching through Skokie, as you might suspect, the locals went bananas. There was a tremendous outcry and an expensive legal effort to keep the Nazis from marching. These poor camp survivors were taken advantage of again. Their protest was exactly what the Neo-Nazis wanted.

If the people of Skokie had said, “Yawn, OK, have your march.” and then the entire town stayed home for the day, that would have been the end of the American Nazi party. But the outcry brought the goons months and months of front page publicity which was exactly what they wanted. The publicity was far more valuable than the march was. For a decade, every couple of years, we had another Nazi Party march.

In the same way, why do the protesters have to rage against Columbia University. The university is just providing a forum for speakers. Somebody thought it would be of educational value. And if the protesters had all stayed home, ImaNutJob would have given a speech to 3 or 4 professors and grad students. They would have been the only ones interested in listening to ImaNutJob and not because they were interested in or believed in what he had to say. They would have been there for some obscure point of Iranian history or politics which, 10 minutes after the speech, would have been lost and forgotten in the bowels of the university's Iran department.

The service Columbia University did for us was to provide a forum where academics could hear a speech by an unpopular world leader. The cost to them was the money, time, energy and aggravation of dealing with all the commotion.

And what were the words of Ahmadinejad that will live forever? At some point he came out with the gem, "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals, like in your country." If you don't think THAT is funny, you have no sense of humor what-so-ever. - © Copyright 2008 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

Seamus O'Bròg is an artist and freelance writer who tries to turn life's irritations into life's lessons.

His money back guaranteed newsletter "The Pitfalls of Unlocked Cell Phones and SIM Card Cloning" can be purchased by clicking here.