Articles and Posts by Clyde-n-wilson:
. . . The American people ever understanding that government debt does not exist to cover necessary expenditures but to provide risk-free, tax-free income to capitalists.
Relax: It’s Under Control(45)
We have the best armed forces in the world. We can blow up poorly armed peasants on the other side of the world who threaten our freedom. We can even blow them up before they threaten our freedom.
Enormities and Other Irritations(48)
Presumably like every live being in the U.S. 65 or older, I recently received from the government a 152-page paperback book explaining to me the glories and the ins and outs of Medicare. Being of a perverse nature, I became interested in the numerous photographs of happy Medicare recipients and caregivers that were spread through the book to spice up the text. Of the people pictured, 23 are black, 17 are white, and 14 are Asian. There is one who might be Hispanic and one who might be a Native American. What might this statistical imbalance mean?
Looking for Mr. Republican(54)
As is to be expected in an organization devoted to selling products, all the instincts of such men are commercial rather than political. They avoid confrontation and dogma, which would be taken by too many Americans as not nice and because they really have nothing to argue for. Debate and deliberation, which are the soul of democratic government, do not exist in national politics, largely thanks to the Republicans, for the Democrats, “the evil party,” do have a real constituency and ideology. Corporate managers do not argue with their accusers over facts and values—they launch an ad campaign to convey a likable image, insubstantial as that image may be in terms of ideas and principles.
History and the Mime(29)
Emperor, directed by Peter Webber, 2012, 98 minutes
Hyde Park on Hudson, directed by Roger Mitchell, 2012, 94 minutes
Anything not older than a half century past is not history but current events, a fact often lost on Hollywood. So perhaps we should be grateful for these two interesting though flawed dramatizations of the World War II era.
Emperor, which has been generally and justly panned , concerns the early U.S. occupation of Japan and the decision as to whether or not to depose its emperor. The scenes of immediate postwar Japan and the efforts of the Americans to negotiate with the inscrutable leaders of the defeated empire, resulting in the preservation but de-sanctification of the imperial head of state, are well handled. The central character is General Bonner Fellers, charged by MacArthur with the negotiation. Fellers is given a great romance with a Japanese girl, based on what was apparently in real life only an acquaintance. And since Fellers, later on in the Cold War era, became a notorious “rightwing extremist,” one wonders that he is made something of a hero in this day and time.
The great flaw in the film is the portrayal of MacArthur by Tommy Lee Jones. It is vastly inferior to that of Gregory Peck in “MacArthur” (1977). Hollywood moguls are almost all the children of the New Immigration and have no feel for Old American strains. MacArthur, despite the Celtic name and a Southern mother and wife, belonged to the Northern WASP elite. Tommy Lee Jones forte is that of rough but complicated Southwesterner. He would make a great Andrew Jackson or Bedford Forrest, Harry Truman or LBJ, but he is too down-home for MacArthur.
Further, the portrayal of MacArthur is subtly negative, emphasizing deviousness and self-promotion. Maybe some of this is true, and it has often been charged. But was not MacArthur’s posturing a valuable rallying of American morale in awful times, and is not a certain canniness necessary for any great leader? American society is no longer capable of producing great soldiers like MacArthur, Patton, and Gavin, great admirals like Halsey and Nimitz, or even great managers like Eisenhower. MacArthur, after all, was a great man. Look at what has passed for military leadership in the last few decades—Alexander Haig, William Westmoreland, Colin Powell, Wesley Clark—posturing bureaucrats all. Any third-string glamour boy will be sufficient for their future portrayals
The best aspect of Hyde Park on Hudson is its portrayal of FDR’s infidelities. One wonders how long it will be, if ever, for Hollywood to get around to a similar treatment of Kennedy and Clinton. Bill Murray makes a great try at being FDR, but is less successful than the Brit Kenneth Branagh in Warm Springs (2005). Samuel West as George VI is truer, as well as more appealing , in my always humble opinion, than Colin Firth in the celebrated The King’s Speech (2010). The Brit Olivia Williams, though having far too much presence and beauty for the part, does about as good a job as might be done with Eleanor Roosevelt, whose flaccid grotesqueness can never be replicated. A similar problem will arise in the future with Hillary Clinton.
In the space, in print and online, that Chronicles has so generously allowed for my amateur and eccentric comments on cinema, I recently remarked on the deceitful prettification of most movie portrayals of Lincoln. To the contrary, the casting of Civil War figures in Ronald Maxwell’s masterpieces Gettysburg and Gods and Generals is excellent, obviously produced from a real feel for the American past. Jeff Daniels as Joshua Chamberlain and Tom Berenger as General Longstreet were perfection. (Berenger, possibly among the most unaclaimed American stars, also does a very creditable Teddy Roosevelt in Rough Riders, 1997.) I thought Martin Sheen in Gettysburg was as good as we are likely to get for Lee, who no living person can possibly impersonate truly. This opinion, for which I barely [...]
Pardon, Sam: A Slight Amendment(0)
Our lamented friend Sam Francis scored big when he labeled the Democrats as “the evil party” and the Republicans as “the stupid party.” These telling characterizations have appealed to many later observers, as have other of Sam’s apt phrases, like “anarchotyranny.” Sam was always in earnest but his comments were often laced with humour. He knew what H.L. Mencken or Will Rogers or perhaps both said: Observing American politics is a hoot if you just keep a sane perspective and remember that their main use is entertainment.
There can be little dispute about “the evil party.” It might be said, however, that there is a slight Democratic credit here. Democrats sometimes actually believe the depraved stuff they spout and even try to make a rational-sounding argument. They pursue a real agenda and represent real interests. Not so the Republicans.
Are the Republican leaders really as stupid as they seem? Certainly the ideal Republican candidate for office is the same as any hostess wants for the spare man at her dinner party: presentable, not too old, no real work to do, with inherited money and a mediocre I.Q. Now and then, when fortunes are low, the Republicans will play the U.S. Grant card and go for a military hero, but lately that does not work as well as it used to.
The Republicans’ apparent stupidity rests on the fact that they invariably and with utter predictability betray their rank and file of Middle Americans and thereby presumably damage themselves. But is this really so stupid when the leaders can calculate with near certainty that the poor slobs will come back again no matter what is done to them? And when they know that if they show any real allegiance to their voters or try to do anything substantive for them, they will be declared by the media to be no longer respectable and thus be constantly on the defensive and guilty of un-American negativity?
A lot becomes clear when we realize that the Republican party is not a political party. Few of its leaders have any idea what a political principle is or what political debate is supposed to be. The few who do have an idea avoid such things like the plague. The Republican party is a marketing strategy. It is a coalition of mostly mediocre people running a campaign for power and perks. Everything these people say is a calculated advertisement without any sincerity or substance. Mentioning your competitor’s bad points is unattractively negative, no matter what terrible things he is accusing you of. Since you have no ideas or principles but only a lust for office, the easiest thing is to go along with the other fellow’s agenda and let him win most of the time. And whatever you may have told the slobs to get their votes is yesterday’s tired ad campaign that needs to be refreshed.
The Revolution Is(28)
It is all too easy to get lost in the hurly-burly of contemporary politics, which is mostly about appetite, and miss larger and more fundamental changes that are taking place.
Film Review: The Sweeney(13)
Dr. Clyde Wilson reviews The Sweeney, directed by Nick Love.
Home Truths Again(13)
The previous Republican President and his accomplices are war criminals. So the first Republican President and the probably last Republican President were war criminals.
More Random Home Truths(20)
The federal takeover of education and medicine a half-century ago, known as “the Great Society,” has been a colossal failure if its goal was a better society. It has, however, made a lot of people richer than they were and provided politicians with endless opportunities for benevolent posturing, bribery, and patronage. Maybe that was its real goal all along.