The Maryland 8

Maryland’s 8th Congressional District is one of the wealthiest in America. It’s home to the upper elements of Washington’s federal bureaucracy (America’s unelected government), White House aides and staffers, high-on-the-pecking order Congressional aides, actual Congressmen, the upper reaches of the professional associations and gajillions of lobbyists, lawyers, federal contractors, activists and all sorts of other governmental parasites and hangers on. It may not have anyone in it that makes a real living in the private sector. Needless to say it is also a liberal bastion and getting more liberal each election. This district would be perfectly at home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Due to Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s ambitions to be Maryland’s next senator, the district has an opening. It turned out that there was quite a battle on the Democratic side in the primary (just completed) — the election that actually will determine the next office holder since the citizens of the district would rather have red-hot pokers up the jacksy than vote for a Republican.

It was a contest between a rich media celeb socialist, local news anchor and reporter Kathleen Matthews, wife of MSNBC’s Chris “Tingles” Matthews; rich socialist businessman, wine merchant David Trone; and rich socialist academic and State Senator Jamie Raskin, the son of covert commie royalty, Marcus Raskin.

It was a battle royale with each contender desperately trying to get to the left of the other. The marshmallow-headed Trone sounded like everyone’s slow cousin, promising all sorts of free stuff… because… uh… that’s good and who doesn’t like good? Trone rhymes with drone, as in drone-on. The dimwitted boob finished second. How that Bozo ever made money is a mystery. But maybe selling overpriced wine to liberals in a bright blue enclave is a smart business plan.

Matthews tried to corner the media glam celebrity Washington establishment market (Washington Post endorsement) and promised to fight the NRA and promote “gun safety,” banged the women’s pot and bowed before the usual liberal dogmas. Despite checking all the proper libtard political activism boxes for decades (and still being damn good-looking), a stint with a CORPORATION (hotelier Marriott as communications director for several years after leaving the news business) became a football for her opponents and she finished third. Here’s my little ahead-of-the-curve note.

Unlike Trone and Matthews who advertised heavily, Raskin barely lifted a finger and won it. He already had the local political organization built and he ran to the left and never stopped. As a kid, while daddy plotted the overthrow of the U.S. at the Institute for Policy Studies, young Jamie was squired around at places like Georgetown Day School and then Harvard for undergrad and law. He’s been one of the furthest left members of the giddily liberal Maryland Senate along with being a law professor at the uber-idiotic law school at The American University. His wife is a deputy secretary of the Treasury (Obama political appointee). She’s an Amherst and Harvard grad. Somehow this couple has made millions. When people like me complain about hypocritical lefty elites — these are the people we’re talking about. They want to take your money, and make a lot for themselves while doing it. They and their kids will never suffer the consequences of the policies they advocate — but you and I will.

I’d like to note — another self-promotion alert — my heroine Valerie Plum (see books on the right) lives in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District. She’s superdepressed Kathleen Matthews lost but isn’t bummed since it won’t be turned over to Republicans.

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Bernie the Heartless Corporate Thug

It’s funny that Bernie Sanders has suddenly announced that he’s laying off campaign workers as his campaign fizzles and “they aren’t needed anymore.” Is it your greed, Bernie?

Isn’t the Bern the one always complaining about companies laying off workers that “aren’t needed anymore”? Isn’t he the one saying that those companies should keep the workers, whether they make economic/business sense or not? Isn’t Sanders the Socialist the one advocating lifetime employment with a single firm? Doesn’t he demand that laid off workers be given like six-months’ notice and a great severance package? I don’t think any of that happened for Bernie’s now turfed-out workers.

Ya’ know, I think Bernie might be a hypocrite.Is that too mean?

Notice how the leftists always exempt themselves from the policies they demand of others…? This story of heartBern should be a big story but it won’t be.

Well, I guess it’s okay since they weren’t replaced by nonunion foreign workers in India, Mexico or China, right? That would be really bad.

In related news, one of Bernie’s dream countries, Chavezuela, has just announced rolling blackouts for the next month+ and a two-day work week for government workers. Looks like they doubled down on Bernie’s four-day work week idea. Woooo!

Looks like all the cool socialistas are crapping out these days.

Magnificent Seven Reboot

I’m always a little wary of “reboots.” I’m especially skeptical of ones that think they’ll improve on a film that essentially captured lightning in a bottle.

So it was that “The Magnificent Seven” trailer popped up in my YouTube stream before some song started. Normally I bail on trailers because I’m not going to sit through a two-minute trailer for a 3-4-minute song. But I was curious, especially with a black face peering out from under a black hat.

Oy! Political correctness!

But then I recognized the face — Denzel. Okay, this might be at least worth two-minutes of my time. In my book Denzel Washington is almost always gold in an action movie. Even his “little” films like “Out of Time” (with the delectable Eva Mendes) are enjoyable. I’ll forgive him for propaganda like “Philadelphia,” “Malcolm X,” “The Hurricane.”

This however brings up an interesting debate that I’ve been having with myself. What about anachronistic casting? What about seemingly politically correct casting? It’s not that there were no black cowboys or gunslingers. There some cowboys but I doubt the number of black gunslingers was ever very high.

A British series “Merlin” featured a black actress in a key role, while others were extras in Camelot and the villages. The series is based in Authurian England — a time when there would have been no black people whatsoever. Also from England, recently the “Bastard Executioner,” taking place during the reign of Edward II (late 13th and early 14th century), featured a black actor in a key role. He was explained as a “Moor” that had somehow washed up in Medieval England. Of course he was exceedingly wise. The same ground was plowed in Kevin Costner’s 1991 Robin Hood tale, “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” There, Morgan Freeman was Azeem, a Moor that had somehow made his way to England (Robin Hood also takes place in Medieval England — usually considered the reign of John [early 13th century] or Edward III  [mid-to-late 14th century]). During all of these times a Moor running around the English countryside would have been considered an unusual thing.

Yet all these actors certainly acquitted themselves well. Did the Moors need to be Moors?

Is being historically correct on historical vehicles that important? Or should we be raceless? It’s a question I’m still not completely sure of the answer.

Would Denzel Washington be plausible as, say, Edward I? Shakespeare’s Henry V? George Washington? Robert E. Lee? I think he has the acting power to pull these roles off. Larry Fishburne could do Lee but I seriously doubt he would ever attempt such a challenge nor would hyper-PC Hollywood let him try it.

Could the inestimable Cate Blanchett try a male role of such caliber? She’s an amazing actress and has formidable screen presence but there probably is a limit.

Are historical roles in need of a “look”? Casting the big, blonde Australian Chris Hemsworth as the slight Billy the Kid might be a step too far. No matter how good he is, can Tim Roth be an Aztec king or could Gary Oldman be Wilt Chamberlain?

But back to Denzel Washington and “The Magnificent Seven.” The film is directed by Antoine Fuqua, a capable action director. Backing Denzel is Chris Pratt — another guy named Chris that does action (e.g. Pine, Evans) — Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Vinnie Jones, etc. The trailer looked like there might be a few too many explosions (not Michael Bay-level, mind you) for what is supposed to be a “shoot’em up.” It also had that “open” modern western look where the town and environs are highly isolated. There was a feeling that it lacked the “humanity” of the original (the Yul Brynner version, not the original original by Kurosawa). Who has Robert Vaughn’s role as the dying gunslinger looking for redemption? Looking at the cast lists from both movies, the character names are all different so maybe there’s nothing to compare.

For a little comparison — the 1960 version had Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn and Eli Wallach. That’s a lot of industrial-grade testosterone.

The plot seems to be white male businessman controls a town rather than banditos raiding a small, defenseless village. Yeah, bad businessman — Oy, can Hollywood come up with anything new?

This reboot does seem to bow before the PC gods by laying out, besides Denzel, an Indian (Martin Sensmeier as Red Harvest) and an Asian (Byun-hun Lee) yet, ironically/inexplicably, no Hispanic.

A bit bothersome with the trailer was the music.

Yes, the music.

“The Magnificent Seven” is famous for its Elmer Bernstein theme – hummable by any boy born in the 1960s. The only music in the trailer is “House of the Rising Sun,” by the Animals. Could this movie actually not use one the most recognizable movie themes in history?

I sat through the “Miami Vice” movie waiting for the legendary theme to spring forward and still can’t believe it wasn’t in there. It was a friggin’ Michael Mann movie, too! How could it not be there?

Or they might turn the theme into some kind of rap version or mangle it as was done with the “Mission:Impossible” theme, another legendary musical piece. I don’t know which would be worse.

Why can’t they just leave well enough alone?

Euphemisms Are Dangerous

John Hinderaker picks up on something that Roger Clegg has spotted that should curdle any sensible person’s stomach. The Obama administration is beginning to term young criminals (AKA young punks, hooligans, gang members, etc.) as “justice-involved youth.” They make them sound almost cuddly. Needless to say it will cost you and I some money.

Euphemisms are used when someone wants to mislead or can’t face reality. Rarely is a euphemism a good thing. It’s not surprising that liberals traffic in them like Starbucks traffics in coffee.

Sometimes I really wonder if the people peddling this B.S. really believe it? Do they really think that the only thing keeping these young punks from being “productive” members of society is a nice (government-supplied) home and the obligatory counseling? Have they not met these young amoral, nihilistic, greedy, self-centered, sociopathic savages?

No matter how much money you throw at this problem, it’s not going to work. It’s not a money problem. It’s a cultural problem and the only culture that Obama is interesting in changing is the conservative, heterosexual, mostly white, Christian culture. The black criminal culture is considered legit by Obama and his followers; something to be protected and treasured.

I have no doubt that Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch (and others like them) will keep topping up this program and others like them. When confronted with a string of failures they’ll find one kid that straightened up and they’ll say that it was all worth it.

But I’ve got a point to make. Got a punk that needs straightening out? He needs a cot and food and a “safe space” along with some helpful counseling from people who have some understanding of his plight? We used to have a program that fit that perfectly.

It was called the U.S. military.

Once upon a time young punks might be given the option of going to jail or joining the military. There were many stories of young, aggressive ne’er-do-wells in need of guidance being sent to the military. There they encountered older, wiser, stronger men who understood how to handle them and put that aggression to positive use. Or a “training accident” befell the punks and they were removed from the gene pool. It didn’t always work but it was a lot more successful than this cotton candy program will ever be.

Sadly, our military has been turned into a massive social program of its own. With the exceptions of the special forces, specialized skill jobs, heavy duty like submarine and air crews, for a large portion of the remainder the military has become a flop house for  time-servers, those with their hands out for benefits, the listless, the unemployable and more than a few headcases — a shockingly large number of whom are not deployable in any manner.

If we could get the old military back (I can dream, can’t I?), we could give these punks some real direction.

But in reality, this help-a-punk program is part of the foul “over-incarceration” movement designed to coddle criminals and free lots of them to terrorize the law-abiding. It’s another one of those Orwellian cons that the left peddles (and some might believe) to keep society confused, on the defensive and ultimately in chaos and increasingly dependent upon the government (the very government causing the problem).

A Few Random Thoughts on “White House Down”

I just got back from a lengthy business trip so I spent the weekend recovering, i.e. mostly vegging out watching TV.

I finally caught “White House Down,” the second of a pair of White House under assault by terrorists films that came out in 2013. Neither film is good but I have to say that WHD is abominably bad.

Yes, this “Die Hard” derivation is ridiculous but in these types of movies there’s ridiculous (say, ‘The Transporter’) and then there’s just beyond ridiculous (‘Transporter 2’). “White House Down” is beyond ridiculous.

How does a big budget Hollywood vehicle with a decent cast — notably Jamie Foxx, Channing Tatum, Maggie Gyllenhall and James Woods — and a competent action director, Roland Emmerich (‘Universal Soldier,’ ‘Stargate’ and, ironically for its famous blasting of the White House, ‘Independence Day’), get to be so bad?

The mind wanders…

Script. I’ve got half-a-dozen unfinished/almost finished scripts propping up doors that are better than this one. The one in the bottom of the bird cage is better; even with the bird poop on it.

The “Military Industrial Complex” is behind it all? Yes, they actually say “Military Industrial Complex.” It’s behind Middle East trouble? Behind terrorism? Seriously? Were neo-Nazis unavailable or was that the first draft?

Who thought that up?

James Vanderbilt is the listed screenwriter. Life is easy when you’re a Vanderbilt. (Yes, those Vanderbilts.) He did do the scripts for the entertaining “The Rundown” and “The Losers” many years ago.

The driving this movie is an Obamaesque president deciding to pull all U.S. troops out of the Middle East. He believes that will placate the Muslims and they’ll go back to tending camels and pumping oil… The, uh, “Military Industrial Complex” doesn’t like that idea because they’ll all be out of business, according to the script. Clearly, young James inherited none of The Commodore’s (or his aunt Gloria’s) business sense. So the MIC engineers a coup that will ignite a major war (wherein everyone in the ‘Military Industrial Complex’ will get bonuses). You could get more clearsighted geopolitics from reading Mother Jones.

As seems to be required in movies like this, perhaps by some guild rule, the lead is a divorced/estranged father trying to work his way into his child’s life, but things just keep conspiring against him. Of course, the super-sassy child is constantly in peril. It gets progressively ridiculous after that. In the end the world is almost thrust into a nuclear war because nobody thinks it a good idea to drop a bomb on the kid…

The writer’s attempt to add character details to the characters looks to have been taken from a “Scriptwriting for Dummies” book.

Is there a prize for correctly guessing the number of references to Abe Lincoln in the movie? I say 15.

Clearly the writer does not know the difference between Persians and Arabs nor the historical rivalries of the Middle East. Hint, James, for centuries (millennia) there have been politicians trying to answer “The Middle East Question.”

Clearly the filmmakers made little use of military technical advisors. A standard mid-sized shoulder-launched RPG destroys an Abrams tank with a detonation on its front armor. Seriously? In real combat the RPG might have left a smoke shadow where it bounced off.

Even more amusing, an ICBM launched from a base in southern Ohio shoots down Air Force One.

Naturally, all the military leaders are gung-ho and ready to storm in. Special operations troops are mere dimwitted fodder (ditto the almost identical script of ‘Olympus Has Fallen’).

Of course all the White House guards are terrible shots and act like guard extras from “Hot Shots! Part Deux.”

The CGI helicopters seem only capable of traveling in trios, moving as a single unit and their scale is wildly off in many shots.

Maggie Gyllenhall is miscast and her insistence that she remain in control is laughable as her Secret Service fails time and time again. But in these type of movies, emotionalism always triumphs. And you never call a woman incompetent.

Jamie Foxx takes a lot of flack at IMDB for his performance as President Sawyer. He is clearly miscast, and at first, I thought he was awful but then it dawned on me that he was imitating Obama. He’s a big Obama supporter and also a very good mimic. He was imitating  The One’s famous “coolness,” his hipness and Obama’s distant, clipped conversational style. There is even a scene where the president grabs some Nicorette gum and puts on his Air Jordan basketball shoes. Watching Foxx, you realize how comical Obama really is. I won’t go into the nauseating relationship with the First Lady. (BTW, where has Michelle Obama been lately? She hasn’t been seen for months. Still on her taxpayer-funded, never-ending world tour?)

Channing Tatum is functional as the Capitol Policeman who saves the day and gets his dream job as a presidential bodyguard.

Frankly, this whole movie would have worked better as a B movie with, say Erika Eleniak, in Gyllenhall’s role, Ice Cube as the President and, well, Tatum as the cop. Maybe Steve Austin as the cop. James Woods could keep his role as the turncoat Secret Service leader (don’t even try to understand that motivational mess in the script).

Here Comes the Tubbie!

I agree with John Hinderaker (with a minor quibble or two) on the Harriet Tubman on the $20 debate.

She seems to have been a fine person and did some things many find very worthy of notice. But there have been many that have done that. So I’m not supportive of a change.

Initially money, coinage that is, utilized a symbol of its issuer — a city or state (e.g. kingdom), leader or a favored deity. One could easily argue that coinage has always had some manner of political element to it. When money was made of small pieces of precious metals the ability to tell much of a story was limited. The advent of paper currencies changed that by providing a larger tableau and better surface, though the stories were, by and large, limited to famous politicians or military leaders, significant events, symbols of industry or national import.

Picking an “activist” such as a Harriet Tubman smacks far more of a left-wing foreign regime. Yet an argument could be made for her as some kind of representative of a political movement.

My big complaint is two-fold — staples of exchange should stay stable; and this smacks of political correctness and the left’s never-ending attack on American history.

The first argument should be self-explanatory though I’m afraid it isn’t in these days of tear-away history and currency manipulation by national governments and central banks. The monetary unit should have a feeling of being rooted in time, a sense solidness and permanence. Changing the face of a currency, making it the tool of transient political regimes, is a little too reminiscent of banana republics, socialist regimes and tyrants. The Wall Street Journal noted on Thursday, this is just the beginning of Obama administration machinations, “The backs of the $5 and $10 bills will also be redesigned over time to tell the story of civil rights for women and African-Americans, a marked departure from the current lineup of presidents and founding fathers — unchanged since 1928.” They are even lining up Marian Anderson singing in Washington, D.C. for a spot on a bill.

You can imagine that redesigning, AKA messaging and branding, will not stop there. These are people who put political messages, their political messages, their propaganda, on everything. To them everything serves the message: what we eat, energy sources, modes of transportation, museums, sports, arts, so much more; and even money.

And this is where the more disturbing angle comes in. It is political correctness. It is identity politics. This isn’t about what Harriet Tubman did but rather her skin color and her sex. Those are the criteria that liberals make their judgments of worth by. This will just be the beginning of politicizing our money.

Mark my words — Wounded Knee, small pox blankets, Haymarket riots, Pullman porters, Manzanar, Malcolm X, grape boycotts, Cesar Chavez, Miranda, Stonewall riot, Berkeley protests, Roe v Wade, Harvey Milk, et al, all the fodder that fuels the left’s culture wars will be pitched now. Who knows, maybe Susan B. Anthony will be trotted out yet again. Third time’s a charm, right!?! They are going to force a woman down our throats, no matter what (even if they have to put women on every mode of transaction in America, including mandating a woman on all checks and credit cards).

The tearing down of Andrew Jackson (and so many others) is just a part of the left’s war on history and another instance of their Year Zero mentality. Destroying history is an attempt to unmoore us from our foundations so that they can be rewritten and sculpted into the left’s dreamed of utopia.

The WSJ story devoted two whole paragraphs (Woo! That’s some big effort there Nick Timiraos!) in a half-hearted explication of the other side of the debate. He pointed out that Jackson is often mentioned only for his conduct with Indians. If anything else is mentioned it is his irascibility. Hinderaker surmises, and I agree, that Ol’ Hickory is probably a bit too much of a hyper-Alpha Male for today’s special snowflakes. I suspect most of them would wet their pants or faint in his presence.

Howard Kittell, president of the Hermitage, Jackson’s home, complains (as we all do) that it makes no sense to sit in judgment of people from the past without understanding the past. But that’s one of the left’s favorite activities. (Though strangely the left/socialists’ centuries of failure, oppression and mass murder somehow remain buried in the sands of time or quickly excused as products and exceptions of the local conditions.)

As Churchill noted, “If the present tries to sit in judgment of the past it will lose the future.”

One last note, I think the whole “She’s a pistol-packin’ Republican mama!” argument, trotted out by some conservatives and Republicans as some kind of “gotcha!” is too clever by a half. Only a handful of people know this or will ever know this. Those facts are never going to be printed on the bill and the mainstream media will bury those facts in favor of the politically correct angle so our famously ignorant kids, and those following behind them, will never know that. After all, the “Tet Offensive” was a military disaster for the Viet Cong and their North Vietnamese masters yet thanks to spin by Walter Cronkite and other anti-war types, it has gone into many history and the public conscience as a victory for the invading northerners and the beginning of the (“inevitable”) end of South Vietnam. As the Clintons made clear — perception is reality.

Ironically, the Clintons were also big on redesigning money as well. They are the originators of the Monopoly-style money we have now.

Gender Studies. What’s It Good For?

If you’ve been following the harrowing plight of the special snowflakes that now dominate our college campuses, you might have heard about a field of study called “Gender Studies.” Yes, you can get a degree in this “discipline.” It’s often combined with its grandmother, one of the pioneers in ludicrous studies, Women’s Studies.

So, what does one study in Gender Studies? It doesn’t seem to have much to do with biology or medicine. Until just recently there wasn’t much in the way of thought about it all. There were no great discoveries that changed anything. Had everyone before missed something?

It really seems to be about anger. Frustration. Confusion (the student’s) and confusing others (‘Hey, mom and dad, guess what? I’m not a boy and I’m not a girl… By the way, I need more tuition money.’) Viewing oneself as a victim is encouraged as is grievance-mongering. Lots of grievance-mongering and making alliances with other grievance-mongers. And lots of self-affirmation, self-esteem-building.

All of that is leavened with a sense of entitlement and energized with an arrogance that is astounding. Yet, they consider themselves victims of oppressive powers.

The reality is that there isn’t much to learn but there is a lot of navel gazing, attitude adjustment, group hugging, etc.

There are no “Yes or no” questions on the tests. I doubt there are any tests since those are probably considered a false construct of the heteronormative oppressive patriarchy.

All Gender Studies really is is very expensive four-year (or more if you go for the grad degree) therapy.

And amazingly a lot of schools are involved in this academic fraud. It’s another of the multiplying the easy-peasy indulgent “studies” courses to peddle to the precious snowflakes and continue to expand the Education-Industrial Complex.

So, what does it prepare you for (besides being a lifetime basket case)? Not much. Certainly nothing productive. The likely destinations? Academia, government and the burgeoning grievance and diversity industry. In many ways all it does is prepare the person to promote and create more people just like them while destroying the healthy parts of society. Kind of like a virus in the body.