Anita Hill: Speaking Truth to Power

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Anita Hill: Speaking Truth to Power

**

 

I loathe Political Correctness.

I admire people who speak their mind with eloquence, intelligence, and offensiveness. If I don’t offend at least one person with this article, I have become too boring and cowardly to deserve a column.

The PC police should get the heck out of our schools and college campuses. But they are welcome to stay in my place of employment.

In my office, we are not supposed to talk about politics, religion, race, sex, gender, and sexuality. There is no touching apart from fist bumps and any manager caught having a relationship with an underling is immediately fired.

I think all these rules are great. Instead of Mad Men-esque mad houses, 21st Century offices are comfortable and inclusive places to work.

“Boo hoo,” some people say. “Men are too afraid to even hug or flirt in the office now.” To me, that’s a very small price to pay for women to be able to have a career without being forced to negotiate a minefield of objectification and Sexual Harassment.

 

Back in 1991, I didn’t even know what Sexual Harassment is. I’ll bet I wasn’t alone. And that was a problem.

The problem of mass ignorance was solved in a big way when President Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.

University of Oklahoma Law Professor Anita Hill was expecting a call from the FBI and she was ready to tell the truth when it came. Hill reported that Judge Thomas had made her work life uncomfortable when he was her boss at the EEOC in 1981.

Anita Hill was called to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I didn’t anticipate any partisanship,” Hill recalls. “I was expecting that the Senators were going to ask me questions to help learn whether Clarence Thomas was qualified.” Come on..really, Professor Hill? I’m sorry: either she is lying or she was shamefully ignorant about the basic realities of politics in America. Especially for a law professor who worked for the government in DC for years.

Apart from that embarrassing quote, Anita Hill comes off as brave, poised, and downright heroic.

The first half of “Speaking Power to Truth” is terrific. Documentarian Freida Lee Mock shines a spotlight on the awful senators who cross-examined Anita Hill like she was a hostile witness. We cringe as the senators cruelly make her repeat the same humiliating details over and over again.

Ms. Hill never wavered as she exposed fundamental truths about men in power.

The second half of the documentary is useless. Frieda Lee Mock just follows present day (2014) Anita Hill around on as she earns a living as a public speaker. If you watch this movie, I urge you to turn it off after 45 minutes.

#MeToo is a great. Anita Hill is great. I agree with almost everything Frieda Lee Mock has to say. I have a fundamental disagreement, however, with her assertion that we can uncover the truth about past harassment incidents.

It’s one thing to believe a victim’s story, it’s another thing to believe you are capable of knowing the truth about an incident from ten years ago. Zero people know the absolute truth, not even the people who were involved.

Victims of Sexual Harassment have their memory tarnished by trauma and time. And perpetrators of Sexual Harassment will honestly remember themselves as acting less creepily than they actually did.

Sleezy men don’t think they are bad people or want to be bad people. For the most part, they are acting out creepy behavior that they learned from men growing up or foolishly mistaking the friendliness of their female co-worker as possible romantic interest.

That’s why I am passionately in favor of strict PC rules in the workplace. They don’t just make office life better for women, they clearly help men. They teach creepy men the rules of gentlemanly behavior that their fathers should have taught them.

More gentleman and fewer creeps makes my office – and America – a better place. Thank you, PC Police! (Get the heck out of the classroom, though. Seriously).

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Fahrenheit 11/9

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Fahrenheit 11/9

**1/2

 

When 22nd Century historians teach a lesson about the 2016 election, they’ll only need one primary source document. In the autumn leading up to the vote, Michael Moore wrote an essay entitled “5 Reasons Trump Will Win.”

Moore recognized that Donald Trump was the “Roger & Me” of presidential candidates. His message was music to the ears of forgotten Rust Belt workers who were fed up with globalization and the New World Order.

Trump criticized arrogant coastal elites for passing NAFTA, leading to the deindustrialization of the once vibrant American Midwest. He offered classical Progressive solutions: more worker-friendly trade deals and protectionist tariffs.

Michael Moore labeled the Trump revolution American Brexit. And he cited the four Obama states – Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Moore’s own Michigan – that the candidate was going to win on his way to earning the Presidency. The article is pure genius. You should read it.

“Fahrenheit 11/9” feels like the work of a different artist. The film is surprisingly overlong and unfocused.

Anti-Trump viewers will probably be disappointed. Yes, Moore accuses the President of simultaneously leading our country toward Nazism and nuclear war, but Trump is onscreen less than one quarter of the movie.

As much as anything, “Fahrenheit 11/9” is an angry takedown of the politicians who created and abetted the Flint, Michigan water crisis.

Moore accuses Michigan governor Rick Snyder of building an unnecessary new pipeline out of pure greed and leaving the impoverished citizens of Flint to drink poisonous, lead-filled muck.

And when he discovered that the dirty water was corroding parts at the GM plant, Gov. Snyder took immediate action and gave the company back its clean water. The people continued to drink swill.

Viewers will be surprised to learn that the ultimate villains of “Fahrenheit 11/9” aren’t the Trumpists; they are the leaders of the Democratic Party.

Moore condemns the DNC for stealing the 2016 nomination away from Bernie Sanders.

Moore eviscerates Bill Clinton, accusing the former President of selling out black citizens, blue collar workers, and private sector Unions. Moore concludes that after Clinton, the Democratic Party was just as corporatist and globalist as the Republicans.

Thank goodness for Obama, right? In the film’s only great scene, President Obama swoops into Flint on Air Force One. The teeming crowds cheer their beloved leader as he rushes through the town via limo to save them.

Barak Obama takes the podium. The crowd cheers and hoots. But the President has a cough…He asks for a glass of water to soothe his throat. Then he takes a sip – a tiny, tiny little sip – of tap water and declares that Flint water is safe.

The Flint audience gasps and so do we. This is easily the finest moment of this otherwise forgettable film.

 

Viewers are going to be disappointed that Moore doesn’t attack Trump with the same intellectual passion as Clinton and Obama.

“How the **** did this happen?” Moore asks us with a straight face. The problem is, he already answered this question – splendidly – two years ago.

“Fahrenheit 11/9” isn’t just unfocused, it is insulting to the viewer. It feels like Moore is saying that it’s okay for his functionally literate fans to know to the even-handed truth about the 2016 election. However, the movie-viewing masses can only handle information in dumbed-down, easy to swallow accusations, conspiracy theories, and comedy skits.

“Fahrenheit 11/9” made me laugh a lot. But Michael Moore can do better than this. Skip the movie and read “5 Reasons Trump Will Win” instead.

   Oliver Stone’s Untold History of The United States         Episode V: The 50s – Eisenhower, the Bomb, and the Third World

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Oliver Stone’s Untold History of The United States

Episode V: The 50s – Eisenhower, the Bomb, and the Third World

***1/2

 

The history books have been kind to Dwight Eisenhower. Ike is the least polarizing and least hated President of the Post-War Era. He is remembered as America’s benign grandfather figure during a time of relative peace and prosperity.

Oliver Stone has an explosive new take on President Eisenhower. Stone’s Eisenhower wasn’t responsible or level-headed – he was a globalist general leading our country into a buzzsaw of perpetual hostility.

Ike drove up to a huge fork in the road in his first year in office; and he took the wrong turn. Stalin had just died and the new Soviet leader sent a letter to Eisenhower. Khrushchev invited the President to end the Cold War and move on to a new era of friendly competition.

Eisenhower didn’t even respond to the letter personally. Secretary of state John Foster Dulles rebuked the offer, accusing the Politburo of planning communist world domination. Instead of peace, we got 65 years of mutual suspicion and nuclear brinksmanship with Russia (and counting).

While Sec. Dulles was poisoning our relationship with the Soviets via traditional diplomacy, CIA director Allen Dulles was poisoning it in sinister new ways. Boo, Dulles brothers.

In one of our government’s all time most self-defeating blunders, the CIA overthrew the democratically elected president of Iran and replaced him with a sellout Persian puppet. This got us easy oil for 25 years and an Islamist enemy for 40. And it ticked off the Soviets even further since we installed an America-alligned kingdom right on their southern border.

Oliver Stone says that Eisenhower was an old-fashioned Republican deficit hawk. He was troubled by the fact that America’s peacetime military was gobbling up half of the federal budget (vs 15% today).

Ike’s plan was to trim conventional forces and bulk up our nuclear forces dramatically. He embraced the notion that there was a dangerous Missile Gap even though he knew that we were far outpacing the Soviets.

As is always the case in Washington, expanding government is easy and cutting spending is impossible. By 1960, our conscription military was as bloated as ever, only now it included 1000s of nukes that could be delivered by missile, bomber, or submarine.

This would have been an irresponsible foreign policy if there were thousands of Atomic bombs. But these were Hydrogen bombs – hundreds of times more powerful than the ones we dropped on Japan.

Oliver Stone paints President Eisenhower as brazenly indifferent to the unfathomable devastation that a nuclear war would unleash. He just thought of nukes as another tool in our military arsenal, as opposed to the potential end of all mammalian life on earth forever.

 

As always, Oliver Stone paints a complex and compelling picture of history. And I agree with him most of the time. However, it is worth mentioning that Eisenhower did not, in fact, blow up planet earth. That’s a pretty important side note.

And no one wants peace with Russia more than me. I don’t go as far as Stone, though, in absolving the USSR of its imperialist crimes. Stone glosses over the Soviet crackdown on Hungarian protesters in 1956. To me, it was pure brutal colonialism; Budapest is a solid 1000 miles away from Moscow.

 

In the end, though, Oliver Stone’s conclusion is elegant and inescapably true: President Eisenhower was a failure by his own standards. The man most famous for warning America about the dangerous influence of the Military Industrial Complex was the one most responsible for solidifying its power.

Howard Zinn: A People’s History of the United States           Part I (1900-1920): Bread and Roses

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Howard Zinn:

A People’s History of the United States

          Part I (1900-1920): Bread and Roses

                             ****

          History books tell the Great Man version of history.

American history starts with great man Cristopher Columbus, continues with great men George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and moves forward quickly to great man Abraham Lincoln.

When the history of our time is written, future generations will read about Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.

“But what about us?” you may ask. “Aren’t we as important as the great men of our time?” No, we are not. The best we can hope for is that one historian will buck the trend and tells our side of the story.

          Howard Zinn (1920 – 2010) is one of the most well-known and respected 20th Century historians. He was able to toss the Great Man blueprint in the trash and create a completely new narrative.

          In Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States,” the story of America is a perpetual battle between we the workers vs. the powerful people who exploit us.

          According to Zinn, the battle began at the very founding of our nation. He argues that the Revolutionary War was not a popular conflict. He points out that men had to be drafted to fight and that they were promised free land in exchange for their blood. But after the war, many of those men were evicted from their homes because they couldn’t afford the taxes that their new State governments were levying.

          Fast forward a century to the Chicago Haymarket Riot of 1886. Organized labor demanded an 8-hour work week and the demonstration turned violent. The business leaders and authorities got together and arrested the Union bosses on bogus charges. The Union leaders were hanged. Management won this round, but the fight definitely wasn’t over.

          Workers were better prepared during the 1912 Textile Strike in Lawrence, Mass. With organizational and monetary help from the IWW (International Workers of the World), the workers outlasted management. After grinding the cotton industry to a halt for more than two months, the workers earned a 20% raise.

According to Howard Zinn, the US Establishment learned a valuable lesson from Lawrence: never give an inch to organized labor.

When the silver miners in Ludlow, Colorado went on strike in 1914, negotiation was not an option. When the National Guard couldn’t crush the miners, President Wilson sent in the army. Hundreds of strikers were wounded and 75 were killed in The Ludlow Massacre.

Faced with the imminent threat of reduced power and profit, the titans of industry colluded with Washington to crush Organized Labor.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…” No, Zinn says; that’s a lie. The reason the Establishment opened our borders was to import a fresh supply of cheap labor and to weaken the bargaining power of American Unions.

 “The world must be made safe for democracy…” No, Zinn says; that’s a lie. The reason that the Establishment chose to join World War I was because Britain and France owed billions of dollars to American businesses and an allied victory was the only way they’d get paid back. And under the cover of war, the government was able to pass the Sedition and Espionage Act, which had the intended effect of silencing, imprisoning, or deporting Labor agitators.

“A People’s History of the United States Part 1” is a first-rate documentary for history lovers. It entertained me the whole time and I learned a lot.

 I don’t agree with everything that Howard Zinn had to say. I love the non-Partisanship and the pacifism, but not so much the obsession with Marxist theory. By ambitiously tossing aside the Great Man version of history, though, Zinn was – in the end – a great man.

Three Identical Strangers

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Three Identical Strangers

***

 

Since the beginning of time, people have been asking themselves the same three questions:

  1. How did this all begin?
  2. What is the purpose to all of this?
  3. Do we have free will or are we mere slaves to our destinies?

 

[Spoiler Alerts ahead] In 1960, famed Freudian psychiatrist Peter Neubauer

conceived of an epic study that would answer the final question once and for all. “Three Identical Strangers” explores the extraordinary aftermath of Dr. Neubauer’s human experiment.

The first half of “Three Identical Strangers” is magnificent. British documentarian Tim Wardle tells the joyous true story of three guys who suddenly found their purpose.

In 1980, Bobby went away to college. But when he got there, people greeted him as if he was an old friend. It didn’t take long to discover that Bobby was the long-lost twin brother of gregarious Eddy.

When the New York tabloids picked up on the story, Bobby and Eddy became minor celebrities. It wasn’t long before David – who was also born on July 12, 1961 – saw what was essentially a photograph of himself in the Daily News.

The three identical strangers didn’t just reunite, they immediately became best friends.

They went on the talk show circuit – wearing the same outfit and talking about how they smoke the same cigarettes and have the same taste in women. They took advantage of being young, cute, and famous by moving to Manhattan and sharing a bachelor pad together.

In their 20s, they started families and opened a successful SOHO restaurant – called Triplet’s. Life was a fairy tale for Bobby, Eddy, and David. Until it wasn’t…

Investigative journalist Lawrence Wright (“Going Clear”) uncovered the dark-ish secret behind the fairy tale.

At the height of his fame and hubris, Dr. Peter Neubauer convinced an adoption agency to separate identical twins and triplets and secretly send them off to different families. Then he had his staff follow the children and carefully document their developmental growth.

Dr. Neubauer’s grand scheme was to discover – once and for all – which parts of our personality were determined by genetics and which parts were influenced by our environment and free will.

“That is like Nazi ****,” Eddy states.

No, Eddy. It’s not.

After a few years of fun and success, the triplets begin fighting with each other over their restaurant. Documentarian Tim Wardle tries to blame the experiment for the brotherly strife. That is absolutely ridiculous. Relatives who go into business together inevitably have issues, whether they’ve grown up together or not.

I agree with Wardle that secretly separating identical siblings in the name of science is arrogant and unethical. But you can’t blame every problem the triplets had on the experiment.

I think the saddest thing about the experiment is how useless it was. Reasonable people have always known that our identity is based partially on our DNA and partially on our environment. We will never know what percentage because everybody is different and we are infinitely complex creatures.

 

The reason people have been asking those same three philosophical questions since the beginning of time is that they are totally unanswerable.

If any man claims to be able to tell you how this all began, what the meaning of your life is, or why exactly you behave the way you do, don’t trust him. That guy is nothing but trouble.

Whitney

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Whitney

***

 

First off, I feel like I should admit something: I don’t like Whitney Houston’s music. I like zero of her songs.

I have nothing against Ms. Houston personally. I just don’t appreciate songs where the singer shows off her voice at the expense of the music. I listen to a pop song because of the catchy hooks – not for some crooner demonstrating her unusual vocal range.

To me, a song is like a BLT sandwich. The percussion is the bread, the bass is the tomato, and the guitar or synthesizer is the bacon. The vocals are just the lettuce.

A Whitney Houston song is like a BLT piled high with an entire head of lettuce. On one hand, it’s kind of impressive that you could fit that much lettuce. But it makes for a bland, artless sandwich that I don’t want to consume.

 

“Whitney” is an engrossing documentary that treats Ms. Houston entirely as a human being and not as a celebrity.

British director Kevin McDonald doesn’t tell his side of the story. He lets dozens of Ms. Houston’s family, friends, and co-workers tell their side.

It’s hard to know what Whitney Houston’s childhood was like because the relatives interviewed give two completely different stories.

Some say that Ms. Houston had an idyllic childhood. Her dad was a high-powered Newark politician and her mom was a successful back-up singer who worked with Elvis. Houston’s parents could afford private school tuition for young Whitney and a big house in the suburbs.

Others say that Ms. Houston was scarred by her nightmarish childhood. With her corrupt dad wheeling and dealing and her showbiz mom always on the road, young Whitney and her brothers were shuffled off from house to house – from aunt to cousin to neighbor. One of Whitney’s female relatives molested her. With minimal supervision, drugs were part of her life from an early age.

One of the tabloid misconceptions about Whitney Houston is that her rakish husband Bobby Brown corrupted her and introduced her to hard drugs. “Whitney” tosses that lie right into the trash.

Whitney Houston, by her own admission, loved drugs. And they were a part of her life before she became famous and long before she met Mr. Brown.

Ms. Houston’s older brother states that the Houston siblings would do cocaine with Bobby Brown, but that Brown couldn’t begin to keep up. “The only time we did as much as Bobby Brown,” he chuckles, “is when we were lapping him.”

Kevin McDonald can’t give us a happy ending, of course. But he does sprinkle in some laughs along the way.

He sneaks in an unexpected dig at Al Sharpton. In 1989, Reverend Sharpton urged black record buyers to boycott “Whitey” Houston for abandoning gospel music for pop. Then, after her death, we hear a cynical Sharpton lament her passing on CNN. I guarantee you that Rev Al does not like this movie.

But everyone else will. “Whitney” is an engrossing story about a woman who got everything she ever wanted but discovered that she had wanted the wrong things.

I enjoyed it even though I didn’t appreciate any of the music. But if you happen to be the type of person who likes her BLT piled high with lettuce, “Whitney” is an absolute must-see.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor

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Won’t You Be My Neighbor

****

 

Because I write this column, I’ve watched plenty of movies over the years that I didn’t really want to see. I even break down and watch a family movie from time to time even though they are terrible.

I didn’t even enjoy the kiddie movies that everyone else liked – like “Toy Story” and “The Incredibles” and “Coraline.”

The entertainment that Hollywood makes for children is garbage. The only motivation is profit. The jokes are puns, putdowns, and potty humor. The action is always frantic, as if they are intentionally trying to erode your child’s attention span. When there is any emotion, it is nostalgic or manipulative.

 

That’s why Mr. Rogers is such a revered figure in our society.

He made wholesome, intelligent entertainment. He made shows for children – not for profit. His main goal was to help kids cope with the emotional challenges of childhood, not to help mothers enjoy twenty minutes of freedom to pour more Chardonnay.

Above all, Mr. Rogers wanted his young audience members to feel loved and capable of loving, rather than feeling like consumers in training.

Perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” was the pace. Fred Rogers wanted to be the voice of calm comfort in a chaotic world. He took time every day to feed his fish. There’s a scene where he takes joy in watching a turtle slowly run across his carpet. There is even a clip of Mr. Rogers sitting through an egg timer to teach kids what a minute of silence feels like.

Documentarian Morgan Neville isn’t trying to be as revolutionary as Fred Rogers. He’s mostly just trying to remind everyone why we all loved Mr. Rogers. And he succeeds mightily.

I want to thank my father for never crying in front of me. If not for his good influence, I surely would have sobbed in a crowded theater multiple times during “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.” It’s a seriously emotional film.

 

The one blemish on this otherwise classic documentary is Morgan Neville’s foolish attempt to paint Fred Rogers (a registered Republican who died in 2003) as a committed member of the #Resistance.

Neville’s evidence is a 1968 episode where the vainglorious puppet King Friday XIII builds a wall around his castle. “Gotcha!” Neville seems to say. “Mr. Rogers hates Trump!”

Not exactly. Mr. Rogers wasn’t making a literal anti-Wall statement. King Friday represented the old guard in ’68 who were resistant to change, like racial integration. It can be argued that Mr. Rogers’s Wall metaphor is an attack on fanatical anti-Trump Establishment leaders who are fighting change in Washington at all cost.

For the record, I am not making that argument. Both arguments are equally biased and stupid. My point is that any attempt to use the memory of Mr. Rogers to attack your political opponents is nauseating and ridiculous.

 

There is no way that Mr. Rogers can save us from our current political discord.

But he can remind us that there are saints among us. And that children’s entertainment can be more than insipid corporate cartoons.

Pope Francis: A Man of His Word

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Pope Francis: A Man of His Word

**1/2

 

In this hyper-partisan era, people on both sides are way too eager to embrace a celebrity who seems to share their opinion about the President.

It was understandable that people on the Right wanted to watch the Rosanne reboot. It was the first time that a scripted TV show presented Trump supporters as regular, sympathetic Americans. But Conservatives made a mistake when they embraced Rosanne Barr as one of their own without doing any research.

This is the same Rosanne who proclaimed that 9/11 was an inside job masterminded by George W Bush. This is the same Rosanne who went a little too far in her anti-Chick-Fil-A hatred in 2012: “Anyone who eats at ****-Fil-A deserves to get the cancer that is sure to come from eating antibiotic filled tortured chickens 4Christ.” Whoops. You backed the wrong horse, Conservatives.

Hey, don’t laugh too hard, Leftist readers. You may be making the same mistake with Pope Francis.

In May, 2016, Pope Francis made a thinly veiled attack on candidate Trump when he said that we should be building “bridges, not walls.” On that day, The Resistance fell in love. And the love affair continues.

The Catholic Church couldn’t believe its good fortune. “Liberals around the world are embracing the old white guy patriarch of our extremely patriarchal old boys club?” Cardinals exclaimed. “Wow! I don’t get it, but let’s roll with it.”

Since then, the Catholic Church and the Media have worked together to shine a spotlight on Pope Francis’s most Progressive pronouncements while quietly sweeping his Conservative comments under the rug.

“Pope Francis: A Man of His Word” is an earnest new propaganda film that works to stoke the fire of liberal love for the current Pope. German documentarian Wim Wenders does an outstanding job.

Wenders proudly presents all of Pope Francis’s Progressive opinions, including the ones that contradict each other.

Pope Francis is explicitly anti-Capitalism. He calls it “terrorism against all humanity.” However, he also tells young unemployed Italians that they are being robbed of the human dignity that only steady work can bring.

I am definitely not defending everything about the world economy. I am with Pope Francis 100% when he criticizes our Throwaway Culture and urges us to consume less. But let’s be real: capitalism is what gave you and me a job and the free market is the best bet for those who don’t yet have one.

The people next to me in the theatre were nodding their heads vigorously when Pope Francis displayed his environmentalist cred and criticized us for ravaging Mother Earth.

But look closer, serious environmentalists: Pope Francis is not part of the solution. He actively denies that the exponential growth in human population is a problem. And he obstinately stands by the Church’s insane prohibition on birth control.

“Pope Francis: A Man of His Word” is not a biography, it’s a hagiography. And the Pope’s greatest miracle is convincing Democrats that he is on their side.

What the film doesn’t mention is that Pope Francis has put the clamp down on nuns looking for any added authority or recognition (never mind priesthood). He has called the movement for gay marriage “the envy of the Devil.” He compared arguments for transgender rights to a nuclear arms race.

Pope Francis argues against gay adoption in the same language as he condemns pedophiles. Because, in his eyes, gay adoption robs children of the right to live a normal life in a “suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.”

 

Conservatives have had their Whoops moment with Rosanne. Liberals: get ready. Pope Francis is not your ally. The louder you support him, the more embarrassed you’ll be when he is exposed.