RNC 2016: The Audacity of A Dope

I’m with Stupid.

I didn’t watch the first night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and I don’t plan on watching any other nights either. I did hear something about Melania Trump, Donald’s mail order bride engaging in an absurd act of plagiarism and from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech to the Democratic National Convention, no less.

The audacity of such dopiness deserves breaking my blog silence. For those wanting the relevant passages to compare, read ’em and draw your own conclusions:

Mrs. Trump, Monday night:
“From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily lives. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son. And we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow. Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”

Mrs. Obama, in her 2008 speech:
“Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them. And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them onto the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.

Mrs. Trump:
“I was born in Slovenia, a small, beautiful and then-communist country in Central Europe. My sister, Ines, who is an incredible woman and a friend, and I were raised by my wonderful parents. My elegant and hardworking mother, Amalija, introduced me to fashion and beauty. My father, Viktor, instilled in me a passion for business and travel. Their integrity, compassion and intelligence reflects to this day on me and for my love of family and America.”

Mrs. Obama in 2008:
“And I come here as a daughter — raised on the South Side of Chicago by a father who was a blue-collar city worker and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me. My mother’s love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion and her intelligence reflected in my own daughters.”

What say you, gentle readers? Is Mrs. Trump an innocent conveyor of words coincidentally complied as a previous presidential aspirant’s spouse once did or is she guilty as hell of deliberately and purposefully ripping off Michelle Obama?

Set aside the sadistic schadenfreude of Melania Trump’s face-plant before a national audience, it can be reasonably argued her shitty speech was no better or worse than all the other shitty speeches I ignored in Day #1 of the Republican National We Hate Barry and Hillary Convention. However, not being important is not the same as not mattering.

When your best argument against the other candidate is they are dishonest and crooked and gets away with lying and then you lift entire sections from a speech made in public eight years ago, that goes past arrogance and headlong into stupid. Every word Melania Trump uttered was going to be recorded, fact-checked and stress tested. How long did campaign manager Paul Manifort think it would take before somebody stirred in their chair and said, “Say…that sure sounds familiar…?

For nobody on Team Trump to have caught this isn’t incompetence. It’s knowing their base won’t give a fuck.

This is how the Trump “campaign” does it. They lie and they lie loud and long and when they’re caught in the lie, they deny they lied in the first place, but if they did, it’s Clinton’s fault! Only groupies. blind partisans, and idiots let Trump get away with this shit and don’t believe the truth matters when they’re being lied to right in their face. David Frum lists ten reasons why Melania’s howler feeds into the narrative that the Trump “campaign” is like Indiana Jones making it up as they go along.

1) Melania Trump’s speech was the first and best opportunity to humanize Donald Trump. That opportunity was not only wasted, but the whole project of humanizing Trump has become a farce that will haunt the later attempts by Trump’s children to undo Monday night’s debacle.

Trump Family Values

3) Since Sunday, every journalist at this convention has been collecting examples of the Trump campaign’s failures and incompetence: the quarrel with Ohio Governor John Kasich, the absent senators and governors, the no-show donors, the convention’s financial embarrassments, the floor fight over rules, the lack of a proper schedule, and the defective apps and other technology. Suddenly, there is one easy-to-understand incident that encapsulates in one grim joke all this convention’s cavalcade of derp.

5) Trump has just vividly demonstrated that his campaign—never mind the campaign, he himself—have zero skill at crisis management. Confronted with this comically absurd failure, their instinct is not only to lie, shift blame, and refuse responsibility, but to do so in laughably unbelievable ways. It’s all a big joke when the crisis in question is a plagiarized speech by a would-be first lady. It won’t be so funny when a President Trump tries to manage a truly life-and-death crisis in the same blundering, dopey, and cowardly way.

9) Plagiarism draws attention to content of the passage plagiarized. In 2008, Michelle Obama summed up the values that she had learned from her parents and that she and Barack Obama now tried to instill in their children: work hard; tell the truth; keep your promises; treat others with dignity and respect. Donald Trump epically does not tell the truth, does not keep his promises, and does not treat others with dignity and respect. A plagiarized speech (and the failure to detect the plagiarism) pretty strongly confirms that the Trumps do not much care about hard work, either. “Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I: yea, thine own lips testify against thee.”

Plagiarism MATTERS. Or at least it should, unless we accept when we’re talking Trump, the rules do not apply. I do not accept. The first night of the Republican convention is a bit early for a Clint Eastwood’s Chair moment but whoomp there it is.

Grumpy Old Man Gets Older and Grumpier

McCain in a bad light.

Remember when John McCain was the Reasonable Republican leader?   If you do, you’re showing your age.  That Johnny Mac is long gone.  This is who he is now.  A grumpy 79-year-old man who having got punked by Donald Trump.  In 2008,  McCain screwed his presidential chances by selecting Sarah Palin.   Now he sounds like Sarah Palin.

“Barack Obama is directly responsible for it, because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaida went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures, utter failures, by pulling everybody out of Iraq. “So the responsibility for it lies with President Barack Obama and his failed policies.”
~ Sen. John McCain, 06/17/16

What in the entire fuck is wrong with McCain?  Is this just a Republican senator taking on a Democratic politics in the usual “I don’t like this guy since he beat my ass eight years ago and took the job I deserved, so I’m gonna hate on him and blame him for the worst mass murder in recent history.”

Politics are involved, all right. The politics of “I’m in a tough reelection fight and I can’t afford to piss off Donald Trump voters so even though he totally disrespected me, I’m gonna out-Trump Trump.”

McCain is in a harder primary fight than he expected, and even if he wins it he faces a strong Democratic challenger in the fall. He’s trying to save his ass and to do so he’s joined the lunatic fringe. If Trump had said the same damn thing everyone would shrug it off as the latest word vomit spewed from his rancid piehole. We’ve come to expect The Donald’s special disdain of truth and facts.

But this is Johnny Mac. Big-time war hero. P.O.W. Soldier. American hero. For him to shit out this garbage doesn’t lessen Barack Obama, but it does diminish McCain. It makes him small and it makes him look weak and like an old pol who’s hung on too fucking long, and right about now, those are things he can’t afford to be.

“I misspoke” is bullshit. Weak-ass BULLSHIT. It was bullshit as an excuse as Trump saying he was “misconstrued” in his bigoted attacks on Judge Curiel and it’s bullshit when a U.S. Senator accuses the President for being personally culpable for the deaths of 49 people. It’s worse when McCain does it, because when his mouth disengages from his brain, people actually listen and many of us can’t believe what we’re hearing from him.

Let’s apply John McCain’s twisted logic to his favorite person: John McCain. As a fighter pilot during the Viet Nam war, McCain was a pilot and part of the Operation: Rolling Thunder bombing campaign of North Vietnam. Estimates of civilians killed in the bombing vary between 52,00 and 182,000 killed, and critics of the war say villages and hospitals were targeted. McCain was personally involved in 23 combat missions.

A small man continuing to grow smaller.

A small man continuing to grow smaller.

Applying the senator’s reasoning to himself, instead of running for reelection as a war hero shouldn’t he be prosecuted as a war criminal instead?

Ludicrous? Absurd? Ridiculous? Sure, but so is Johnny Mac as he bows down to Trumpism, the philosophy of the guy who said about McCain, “I like people who weren’t captured.”

I like people who don’t run scared and talk out their ass.

First You Pray. Then You Act.

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Any country which has made the conscious decision to defend its guns over its own children has gone mad. If you can’t get some sensible gun laws passed when they’re carrying out the bodies of slaughtered children, you’re not going to get it when they’re carrying out the bodies of slaughtered gays and lesbians.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother to TRY.    I’m  damn tired of maniacs using the Second Amendment to shield them from scrutiny and give them the means to get assault weapons and other tools to commit mass murder.  IF we allow what happened at the Pulse nightclub to go by with nothing more than prayers and hand-wringing, we are going to see another maniac try to beat Omar Mateen’s body count.

What we do is taking it to Congress and we can start by calling and writing our U.S. Senators and demanding they answer this question:   What are YOU going to do to prevent another mass shooting like the one in Orlando?

I’ll provide the contact information for your senator at the end of this post.   Today, I came across a call to action from a man I know and respect,  Phil Martin.   Phil is the former executive director of Stonewall Columbus, a founder of the Columbus Gay Men’s Choir and a professor at North Central State College.    He is a conscientious activist, a passionate advocate and a stand-up dude and all-around damn fine human being.

I asked Phil if I could share here what he shared on Facebook and here it is:

When you get done being upset or sad…get angry!! REALLY ANGRY!!!

I’m ANGRY because our legislators are bought and paid for by the gun lobby!

I’m ANGRY because our spineless congress won’t do a God. Damn. Thing.

I’m ANGRY because this country has already said it is ok to kill first graders (Sandyhook), high school kids (Columbine), college kids (Virginia Tech), shoppers (Killeen, TX), and even soldiers (Fort Hood)…so what will it matter that a slew of young gay folks were killed??

I’m ANGRY because this will simply set a new record that someone will try to beat when they easily get their hands on these weapons of mass destruction.

orlando-shooting.2

I’m ANGRY at all the politicians telling us to pray for the victims! When you’re done praying, get up off of your knees, STAND UP and demand that something be DONE for the victims!!

But most of all, I’m ANGRY because I’m TIRED OF BEING ANGRY!!!

Something MUST change!! Don’t vote for spineless politicians!! STAY ANGRY and hold our elected officials accountable!!! They have blood on their hands…and if we don’t do something, we do too!

I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I don’t want blood on my hands.   Well, maybe I want Mateen’s, but the Orlando SWAT team beat me to it.    That’s still no excuse for the 45 Senators who blocked background checks for gun purchases in the wake of the Sandy Hook rampage.   Many of them are still in Congress and every last mother’s son and daughter among them should have to answer for it now.

One of my representatives, Sherrod Brown voted correctly.  The other, Rob Portman did not and he is up for reelection in November.    Portman was considered vice-president material by Mitt Romney in 2012, but was passed over for Paul Ryan instead.   It was rumored what knocked Portman out of consideration was his vocal support for his son who had come out as a gay man.

The Orlando terrorist targeted the Pulse nightclub because it was popular with the LGBTQ community and Mateen reportedly was offended when he saw two men kissing.   Gay men like Rob Portman’s son.   Now there’s some irony in there.   Portman needs to account for his 2013 vote and what he’s going to do for the dead gay sons of other fathers gunned down in a spasm of hate and blood.

This is the phone and email information for the Senators of the 114th Congress.  Take a stand.  Ask the questions and don’t stop asking until you get the answers.

http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

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Do not let this happen again because you did nothing now.

Hillary Makes History…To Be Continued.

In case there was any confusion.

First things first.   With all the faux drama of “What’s Bernie Gonna Do?” and “Ooh! The Donald Can Read a Teleprompter. How So Very Presidential of Him!” it should not be lost as the 2016 primaries come to a close  for the first time in American history a major political party has chosen a woman as its presidential nominee.

You can like it or you can lump it, but I think its a pretty goddamn significant moment for this country.    I get it some folks may not have set their alarm clocks and waking up to the reality of Hillary Clinton being the Democratic nominee for President of the United States may cause them to crawl back in bed and pull the covers over their heads, but it’s not going to help.

What happens next after the primaries are over (or all but over as the District of Columbia votes next week) is the winner starts consolidating the various factions of the party to form a united front against the other party’s top dog.   Usually, that’s how it plays out, but like everything else this political season, Bernie Sanders is making noises he’s got his own playbook and he’s not ready to make nice with Clinton.

This should surprise no one.   The Democrats are calling for unity, but Sanders has little inclination to heed the call.

Feeling Berned

The clock has chimed midnight and the masks are off. Tell me something I didn’t already know. There’s many reasons to slag Debbie Wasserman Schultz for the shit job she’s done as the DNC head, but the top reason is she should NEVER have allowed Sanders to run as a Democrat when he is not a Democrat, has not been a Democrat and will never be a Democrat.

Sanders has perpetrated a fraud and now that he’s over, done, cooked, toasted, roasted, basted, marinated and served up, he’s gone into his full Grumpy McCrankypants mode threatening to drag on a fight he’s lost and with nothing left to fight for.

If Hillary Clinton is indicted tomorrow the Democrats will not nominate Bernie Sanders to replace her on the ticket. If Hillary Clinton walks through a revolving door and disappears, spontaneously combusts or is abducted by aliens, the Democrats will not nominate Bernie Sanders to replace her on the ticket. If Hillary Clinton is brainwashed into supporting Bernie Sanders, the Democrats will not nominate Bernie Sanders to replace her on the ticket.

If by some quirk, trick or cosmic accident Bernie Sanders were to become the Democratic nominee I would not vote for him.    Take your Hillary Hate and go vote for Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, Donald Trump or DyJuan D. Barnes Yahweh and the other zombies running for prez.  Have a party.

But please don’t stand on your soapbox demanding someone “prove” something to you or plead with you for your vote. That’s not gonna happen and please have a bit of dignity and take that, “Well, I just might support Trump.”  You have fun with that.  Nothing says temper tantrum like voting for the guy your guy was running to beat.

Frankly, progressives who say they’d rather vote Trump than Clinton need to reconsider what’s so progressive about backing a bigot?   Anyhow,  it’s not much of a threat.  One of the most baffling things to contemplate is how in the entire hell anyone can say with a straight face, “I’m gonna vote for Trump because you made me.”

I’m bored silly by the petulant whining of Bernie Sanders and his supporters. There are no circumstances that exist or could even be imagined where I would come crawling on my hands and knees to Sanders and his supporters begging please, oh please, vote for Hillary and save us all from Donald “Captain Queeg” Trump!

If Clinton was such an awful choice and a weak candidate, why isn’t Bernie the nominee.  It should have been easy.    Because Clinton, Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic establishment cheated Sanders?  Save the bullshit.    How exactly was Sanders  “cheated?” The Bernie or Bust crew is long on rhetoric and real short on specifics. Like any specifics.

Nobody has told the Sanders supporters the ugly truth, not even Sanders himself, so I’ll share a little secret with y’all.  Democrats choose moderates, not liberals and there is no new liberal renaissance on the horizon. Not yet, anyway.

I am so completely over the entitlement of Sanders supporters who cry “You need us.” No. I really don’t. What I need is for YOU to shake yourself and wake up from this wonderful dream where you get everything you want despite your sainted candidate losing the popular vote, losing the pledged delegate count and losing  most states that held primaries.

It would  be nice to think there’s a middle ground where Sanders supporters and Clinton supporters could meet where they could say, “I don’t like this about Bernie and you don’t like that about Hillary, but we both don’t like anything about Donald.” Sadly, we’re nowhere near that middle ground and believe it or not, that was the same thing in 2008 when it was Clinton vs. Obama: Dawn of a Presidential First. It was ugly and divisive then too.

Eventually, the two sides came together to take on a mutual adversary, Sen. John McCain and the story ended with Obama as POTUS and Clinton as his Secretary of State. Yay. Group  hug.

This may happen. As time passes hot temperatures cool, rifts mend and wounds heal. The divisions of June may linger on recede when faced with the terrible alternative of President Trump in November. Or it may not.

I am an unapologetic Clinton supporter who will be proud to elect her as the nation’s first woman Chief Executive.  No one will be begged, coerced, bribed or butt-kissed to do likewise.

Do as you damn well please.

Never forget.

Muhammad Ali: Black Action Hero

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary.

Impossible is nothing.

~Muhammad Ali

President Barack Obama’s remarks on the passing of Muhammad Ali:
Muhammad Ali was The Greatest. Period. If you just asked him, he’d tell you. He’d tell you he was the double greatest; that he’d “handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder into jail.”

But what made The Champ the greatest — what truly separated him from everyone else — is that everyone else would tell you pretty much the same thing.

Like everyone else on the planet, Michelle and I mourn his passing. But we’re also grateful to God for how fortunate we are to have known him, if just for a while; for how fortunate we all are that The Greatest chose to grace our time.

In my private study, just off the Oval Office, I keep a pair of his gloves on display, just under that iconic photograph of him — the young champ, just 22 years old, roaring like a lion over a fallen Sonny Liston. I was too young when it was taken to understand who he was — still Cassius Clay, already an Olympic Gold Medal winner, yet to set out on a spiritual journey that would lead him to his Muslim faith, exile him at the peak of his power, and set the stage for his return to greatness with a name as familiar to the downtrodden in the slums of Southeast Asia and the villages of Africa as it was to cheering crowds in Madison Square Garden.

“I am America,” he once declared. “I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me — black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me.”

That’s the Ali I came to know as I came of age — not just as skilled a poet on the mic as he was a fighter in the ring, but a man who fought for what was right. A man who fought for us. He stood with King and Mandela; stood up when it was hard; spoke out when others wouldn’t. His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing. It would earn him enemies on the left and the right, make him reviled, and nearly send him to jail. But Ali stood his ground. And his victory helped us get used to the America we recognize today.

He wasn’t perfect, of course. For all his magic in the ring, he could be careless with his words, and full of contradictions as his faith evolved. But his wonderful, infectious, even innocent spirit ultimately won him more fans than foes — maybe because in him, we hoped to see something of ourselves. Later, as his physical powers ebbed, he became an even more powerful force for peace and reconciliation around the world. We saw a man who said he was so mean he’d make medicine sick reveal a soft spot, visiting children with illness and disability around the world, telling them they, too, could become the greatest. We watched a hero light a torch, and fight his greatest fight of all on the world stage once again; a battle against the disease that ravaged his body, but couldn’t take the spark from his eyes.

Muhammad Ali shook up the world. And the world is better for it. We are all better for it. Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family, and we pray that the greatest fighter of them all finally rests in peace.

RIP to The Greatest.


Perhaps there’s a way to honor Muhammad Ali in his passing without mentioning how he wasn’t just The Greatest, but America’s most famous conscientious objector, America’s most famous Muslim, and a transitory figure of social justice and Black pride.    Don’t sleep on that last point.  Ali was an American success story, but he was a Black super hero first and long before one showed up in the comic books.

Obama not only knows that, he celebrated Ali’s undisputed Blackness.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but losing Ali is so much more than losing another great athlete, a great humanitarian and activist and the G.O.A.T. For any conscious Black person, losing Ali is losing a hero, a role model, a symbol of Black power, pride, potential and principle. Ali was all that and at one time he was literally the most famous man on the planet and was recognized wherever he went in the world.

The important thing now is to not let The Greatest be neutered into some sort of cartoon character who beat guys up and said outrageous things.    Ali was Black Power Personified.   Controlled anger with a dangerous edge.  Sex, swagger, and style.   Ali didn’t just talk it, he walked it.   Ali was our Black James Bond: men wanted to be like him and women wanted him.    I should know and I’m not a woman.

If someone wants to say, “Ali was the Greatest,” that’s fine. If someone wants to go deeper and say “Ali was a hero and here’s why” that is also fine.    Haters should step off.

That was always the difference between Muhammad Ali and the rest of us. He came, he saw, and if he didn’t entirely conquer – he came as close as anybody we are likely to see in the lifetime of this doomed generation.
~ Hunter S. Thompson

Don’t believe the hype: They love Ali now but they hated Ali then.

Fear of a Trump Planet

Ain’t No Stoppin’ Me Now.

In his quest to become America’s next and quite possibly LAST president,  Donald J. Trump locked up the Republican presidential nomination next week.  Now the only thing between him and victory is a little loved career politician plagued by hints of scandal and too much ethical flexibility.  It’s time to start thinking the unthinkable.  Donald Trump could be president.

I can see the idea is starting to take hold among some that as he pivots to the general election Trump is going to moderate his message and become “more Presidential.” Which is horseshit because Trump doesn’t DO moderation. Trump doesn’t know how to be “more Presidential.” Why anyone would expect a reality show host to become a statesman?

America can’t afford that sort of dangerous naiveté. Americans can’t be sanguine that the risks associated with electing an autocratic despot will to lead to peace and prosperity.

Now is not the type for this sort of magical thinking. If you want to call that “thinking” at all.

Weak people long for a strongman to tell them HE has the answers and HE will make what is wrong, right and HE has a plan and only HE has the vision for HE is strong and he will lead the weak.

For those that do not wish to lead nor follow, Donald Trump has nothing to offer. I have far more respect for the Republicans who refuse to get in bed with Trump and assume the position than I do for those who opposed him yesterday and now spread their legs for him today.

Trump is the wolf in the fold and he will take vengeance against those whom stood against him. He does not forgive and he will not forget. Give this man the full force of the Justice Department, the IRS, the CIA, FBI, NSA, and the U.S. military and who will stop him? Who will be there to tell him “No, Mr. President. You can’t do that?

The final decision rests with the president, but its vital the president has aides, advisers, and others who can tell him or her not what they can do with their immense power, but what they cannot. Who will tell President Trump anything other than, “That’s a great idea, Mr. President!

It’s possible there is a reasonable, intelligent, well-articulated argument for Trump, but nobody’s made it to me.

The graffiti vote has spoken.

The unreasonable, stupid, and barely articulate arguments for Trump I’m quite familiar with. They don’t have much more depth than “He’ll make America great again” and that’s nothing more than a bumper sticker slogan. If all you’re looking for is a shit-stirrer who will divide the country worse than it already is, widen the gap between the haves and have-nots worse than it already is, sour racial relations worse than they already are, make the world an even more dangerous place than it already is, and take the country into a darker direction than its ever been, then you should absolutely take the plunge and vote for Trump.

Surrendering to a temptation can be fun. It’s also fun to piss off annoying people. It’s no fun for those who suffer the consequences of indulging a temptation that unleashes terrible consequences. Trump doesn’t have to become an American Führer to be a dictator or start WWIII. All he has to do is get elected and start trampling over the rights of millions and treating the Constitution as a list of suggestions instead of guiding principles.

Donald Trump is very scary if you’re on his Shit List and a lot of Americans already are and don’t know it. Some of them are laughing their ass off now and will be crying in their beer later. Some will play along with Trump and wave away his most outlandish remarks as nothing more than campaign rhetoric and over-the-top hyperbole designed to play to the crowd, not become national policy. Just like everybody else who predicted Trumpmania would pass was proven wrong, they’ll be wrong again, but this time it’ll be too late when the president-elect raises his right hand and takes an oath he neither believes in nor will adhere to.

There’s always a possibility Trump’s talk of rounding up and deporting millions and banning Muslims is just that–talk. A little something for the nativists, xenophobes, and other bigots to smile about, but nothing more than another vague promise abandoned by a candidate as soon as the suckers vote them into elected office.

OR…

Trump means it. He’s not kidding. He’s going to build a wall and he’s going to make Mexico cough up the cash to pay for it. It wasn’t just polarizing campaign rhetoric. It was a real thing and once he’s got the power to do it, he’s gonna DO it.

Now I’d suppose some of the Undesirables would go out like the Japanese did during WWII when they were the Undesireables to be rounded up and placed in internment camps. For the most part, they went quietly. They didn’t necessarily like it, but they weren’t being kicked out of the U.S. either.

This time around when the police or the National Guard or the Army come a’knockin’ on Granny’s door to pack her away on a bus, Granny’s sons and daughters, nephews and nieces and friends will be ready and spoiling for a fight, and that’s when it will get bloody.

I’ ve heard some voters will vote for Trump because we’ve had enough of politicians and need someone in the Oval Office who isn’t one. That, or this Is what Americans deserve for not supporting Bernie Sanders. Then there are a few who think it’s a good gag to vote for Trump.

I really don’t care about the sort of deranged thinking it requires to believe the best alternative if you can’t have Sanders is to vote for Trump, the guy he’s ultimately trying to square off against. Maybe that makes sense in the La-La Land of Susan Sarandon’s headspace but it make no sense in mine.

Some people find hilarity in the looming prospect of tragedy. Some people inhabit a world of privilege and believe they can float above it all. Some people are so thoughtless, selfish and a bit stupid that they just don’t care. It’s all one big fucking joke to them as long as somebody else is the butt of the joke.

It’s fun to laugh at those who cry “wolf” as worry warts panicking over a threat that hasn’t happened. At least its fun until you realize to your sorrow the wolf is not at the door. The wolf is inside the house and it is a hungry wolf.
The naysayers can keep proclaiming, “…all is well. All is well” and pooh-poohing the threat posed by Trump’s ascendancy as nothing new and just a slightly more colorful version of business as usual.

Some of us are a bit less flippant, a bit more contemplative and a lot less dismissive of the threat posed by a Trump presidency and we know better. The rest will have to learn on their own, if indeed they ever do.

 

Busting Ghostbusters

“Aw c’mon. The trailer was bad, but worse than Fantastic Four?”

As a rule, I’m not the target audience for remakes.  The Magnificent Seven?  Saw it already.   Ben Hur?  Saw it already.  Ghostbusters?  Saw it already and don’t need to see it again.  There’s already enough reboots and sequels and relaunches already.   Doesn’t anyone want to make a few original movies to break up the monotony?

Ghostbusters 2016 is first out of the chute with an-all female cast led by Melissa McCarthy and some Saturday Night Live escapees.  Good luck when you’re redoing a favorite of many (not me)but they’re off to a bad start because the first trailer was atrocious.   Every joke fell flat and none of the actresses did anything to make you forget the original crew.

The negativity was so harsh it sparked a backlash where the counter-charge became the movie was getting so much hate due to four women replacing the four men in the original.   Sexism and even a little racism has to considered contributing factors,  and maybe it didn’t deserve all the hatred it got, but when you’re remaking an all-time favorite like Ghostbusters, you gotta come strong and that trailer was weak.   How weak?  It set a record as the most disliked trailer ever on You Tube.

A lousy movie trailer is not necessarily an indicator the movie is going to blow, but the purpose is to generate interest, not memes.   A trailer is supposed to do one thing: generate interest in an upcoming film and on every level the Ghostbusters trailer fails.  I did not laugh, did not crack a smile and if I had little interest before I have none now and  it’s not sexist to say the new Ghostbusters just doesn’t look funny.   It’s certainly possible misogyny is the reason behind all the scorn, but so is not delivering any laughs.

Director Kevin Smith put the blame right where it belonged:

Whoever cut this trailer needs to be sat down, and I’m not going to call for their job to be taken away from them but they need to be scolded. It could’ve been all men with the same jokes, and it still would have sucked. The trailer’s not strong, and that doesn’t mean the movie’s gonna blow, like again the fucking pedigree of this movie is undeniable. There’s no way all these people involved don’t make a fucking funny, at least watchable fun movie.

The true is  the original Ghostbusters was an occasionally funny, but mostly dry comedy when Bill Murray wasn’t saying something sardonic. It’s not a classic.  Blazing Saddles is a classic and I don’t remember anything about Ghostbusters 2.

“I see stereotyped people…”

The studios tried for years to get Murray to do Ghostbusters 3. He wouldn’t do it. Murray had fallen out hard with Harold Ramis, his one-time collaborator and friend during the making of Groundhog Day and they didn’t speak for 21 years though Murray reconciled with Ramis before his death. Dan Aykroyd and director Ivan Reitman tried to talk Murray into doing Ghostbusters 3, but he steadfastly refused any and all offers. There was talk of making the movie without Murray but they realized that made about as much sense as a Led Zeppelin reunion without Robert Plant.

So why do an all-female Ghostbusters? Maybe because Melissa McCarthy is the biggest name in movie comedies today and she wants to do it and is safe to say she wanted Leslie Jones for the ordinary Joe character Ernie Hudson played.  Nobody suffered worse than Jones as she depicted as the Big Loud Scary Black Lady You Don’t Want Yelling At You.  They could have made her one of the scientists, but that was a leap in logic too far for the screenwriters to make.   If Zoe Saldana were the official Person of Color maybe she gets to be a scientist.   Sisters who look like Jones get to be Big Loud Scary Black Lady.  That’s a role Hollywood is comfortable giving Black  actresses.

The new trailer was designed to take some of the stank off of its predecessor. Now not having a rooting interest for or against the new Ghostbusters means I don’t care if it’s a hit or a flop. I’m not a fan of  McCarthy as she seems to specialize in playing variations of the same character; the overweight woman who curses, does gross stuff, screeches, and falls down a lot.   It’s a little familiar.

Hollywood like Leslie Jones to be Loud, not Smart.

You can say a lot about Hollywood, but you can’t say they don’t know who they make their movies for.  This is a Ghostbusters that never was made with me in mind.   You can’t build a 2016 franchise on a 1984 audience.   You don’t make stacks of cash depending on old dogs who may see your remake once.  You want young pups who’ll go back to see it multiple times.

Which means instead of casting James Franco, Seth Rogan, Joshua Hill and whatever Black guy you want to whistle up, you do a 180 turn and turn the ghostbustin’ guys into ghostbustin’ gals.  Maybe the movie transcends that rotten trailer.  Maybe it turns out to be good and Jones goes on to rival McCarthy as a star (doubtful, but not impossible).   Maybe I’ll buy a ticket and find out.

Now which of those “maybe’s” is the least likely?

Did “Captain America: Civil War” Liberate the Black Super Hero?

Civil War_cap_iron man

If it’s not Marvel’s best movie, Captain America: Civil War sits high on the very short list of their best.   This was the Avengers movie Avengers: Age of Ultron should have been.

It’s a four star flick and I will be going to see it again and I never go see movies a second time. Marvel’s Captain America series is the first where each film improves on the previous installment.

When Sharon Carter referenced a condensed version of Cap’s most Captain America  speech, I leaned over and punched my son in the shoulder giggling, “THEY DID THE SPEECH!!!!” My inner comic book geek was tickled, but there’s a considerable amount of fan-service Easter eggs throughout the movie.

The best decision the screenwriters and directors made was to take the framework of the Civil War comic book and strip it down to the basics and rebuild it into something comprehensible for the movie. This is kind of the same thing what happened to another Mark Millar project, Wanted. By the time it got to the screen with Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy it jettisoned all the vile bile of the Millar graphic novel and pretty much kept the name and little else.

Hey, where's OUR solo movie?

Hey, where’s OUR solo movie?

Millar loves being offensive and shocking for the sake of it and while Civil War was neither, it was poorly written and executed for the most part and sent Marvel Comics into a never ending series of “Big Events” that reset their universe.   Thank God they said, “Like the idea. Hate everything else.”   It spared us the sorry sight of a Thor clone brutally murdering a fourth-rate nobody called  Black Goliath.   “Who?” you ask?  Trust me when I say this: nobody cares.

In Civil War the comic book,  Black superheroes were scenery and stiffs.   In Civil War the movie, they play an essential part in the story and they’re more than just diversity hires.

I’m saying all this not to review the movie, because there’s more than enough of those all over the web and if you need another you won’t have to look hard to find one.   What I want to point out how much I appreciate how damn COOL it is to see a superhero movie with not one, not two, but THREE Black superheroes in it.

Don Cheadle’s War Machine is back and so is Anthony Mackie as The Falcon.  No insult intended (okay, a little insult), but War Machine and the Falcon are sidekicks Iron Man and Cap.   That’s just who they are, so if you’re Cheadle and Mackie don’t hold your breath hoping for a standalone movie because you’re strictly back-up, guys.  Go ask Hawkeye how that works.

The Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) is nobody’s back-up and he don’t do “sidekick.”  He’s the freakin’ KING of Wakanda, the most advanced nation on Earth.

I don’t DO the “sidekick” thing.

Now that might not mean a lot to some viewers, but I bet to a young Black kid geeking out on it, it means everything.

Even if it’s only in yet another super-hero flick, I’m hyped to see Lupita Nyong’o in a live-action film instead of voice work in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Jungle Book. Since blowing up the spot in 12 Years A Slave and winning a well-deserved Best Supporting Actress award, she’s only been in front of the camera once. Hollywood really has no clue what to do with a Black actress.

As for who Nyong’o plays in the Black Panther movie, I’d rule out Storm completely. Though the X-Men’s favorite wind-rider married Tchalla in the comic books, it’s unlikely she’d even show up in the movie as an a X-Man character she’s the exclusive property of 20th Century Fox and considering the cold war between Fox and Disney, I wouldn’t count on Storm flying over Wakanda anytime soon. It could happen, but it probably won’t.

Ryan Coogler is directing Black Panther and since he’s done two of my favorite movies of the past five years (Fruitvale Station, Creed), I am very interested in what he will do with a super-hero movie. I can only hope Marvel overlord Kevin Feige and the rest of the execs at the Mouse House aren’t too heavy-handed in throwing in too many shout-outs to future films in the pipeline. One good sign is this from Feige about the Black Panther’s diversity, “That will be amongst the best ensembles we’ve ever had. And 90% of the cast is either African or African-American.”

It’s not as though there haven’t been Black super heroes in movies before, but not since Blade 3 in 2004 has one been featured in their own movie.  Not even an Academy Award-winning Halle Berry could get a Storm franchise out of Development Hell and into pre-production.    Maybe the Falcon or War Machine could.  If  Ant-Man can get made, why not?  And Ant-Man sucks.

There’s a lot riding on the Panthers’ vibramium-padded shoulders.   Marvel has had it’s fair share of underwhelming films (Iron Man 2, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and both Thor entries) but even Ant-Man made money.  If it hadn’t it wouldn’t have been a fatal wound to Marvel.   Paul Rudd would just be sent back to the bench until the next Avengers entry.    Let the Black Panther tank and we’ll wait another dozen years for Hollywood to try that again.

With Michael B. Jordan looking to reunite with Coogler and possibly playing the villain (Killmonger? The White Wolf?), I’ve got reasons to be even MORE hyped. To get me outta the house, you need to show me something special and more than blowing shit up real good CGI style.  A predominantly Black cast in a film with Coogler, Nyong’o and Jordan?   Hey, that’s all you had to say, Negro!  The Black Panther is shaping up to be that something special.

black-panther-captain-america-civil-war

“I understand you’re looking for a sidekick much cooler than Bucky or the Falcon, Cap, but it’s not my thing. “