Saturday, November 20, 2010

Top 10 Movies Every American Should Watch

This was originally going to be entitled 10 books every American should read, but who are we kidding.

Every once in awhile, when watching a film, the point of the film hits me like a ton of bricks and I secretly wish that somehow I could get everyone to just sit and watch this damn thing so they could get it too. (SiCKO was the first one I thought of.)

Usually it is with a documentary, but sometimes a good fiction film can subtley drop its wise on you when you least expect it. Some of these films I remembered right away when I was writing this diary, but others I had remembered only after perusing film histories for awhile.

Anyway, here they are. Keep in mind these are movies EVERY AMERICAN SHOULD WATCH, not here are my top 10 favorites. (Otherwise, you'd be treated to a dose of bad B-movie sci-fi and lousy horror films.) Please give your take in the comments along with any films that YOU think every American should see. Thanks:

Terrorist on Trial: United States vs. Salim Ajami
This is the only film to date that managed to change my mind during the course of the film. I used to think lawyers were evil shysters and couldn’t imagine how anyone would defend a known terrorist. In watching the film I realized how unique and powerful our system of justice is. Justice can only be served when there is both a vigorous prosecution AND a vigorous defense. That is truly American and it sickens me that people in higher places (Dick and Liz Cheney come to mind) can’t grasp that fundamental American principle.

Revenge of the Sith
OK. I am a huge Star Wars fan and any of them are entertaining to me, even the first two prequels I found things to enjoy. The GOP accused Lucas of making this film about the Bush administration (especially that line about only Siths talking in absolutes), but Lucas cares too much about his films to reduce them to a political statement of any current administration.

However, his film shows how easy it is for ambitious, evil people to use fear to give up Democracy. Hitler and Mussolini didn’t come to power by telling everyone they would keep a boot on their neck... they did it by charismatically promising security and stability with a brand of patriotism that defines “us” vs. “them” (sound familiar?).

It wasn’t too long ago that idiot rethuglicans, who now call themselves teabaggers, made the case that we need to give up our Constitutional freedoms and allow the guberment to tap our phones, peruse our health and financial records, and clamp down on speech. (Once again, Cheney comes to mind). Yup, we had to be so afraid of the big bad terrorist that we had to give up our very freedoms. These newly named teabaggers did a complete 180 when a black man was elected president and now treason and open revolution are suddenly patriotic. Go figure.

If every American watched this damn film, which highlighted the injustice of the most bass-ackward health care system that managed to spend more money than any other nation in the world and still be the only civilized nation that didn’t cover one-fifth of its citizens (And screwed over almost everyone else), the debate would have lasted 3 days as opposed to a year and half.

The players for the status quo, the lies, the campaigns, the outlandish smears all coordinating to keep an unfair system that was so bad 9/11 heroes had to go to Cuba to get treatment they deserved. The stories were mind-blowing. The Reagan record creepy, and Nixon was Nixon (asshole even admitted the HMOs were a sham). Seeing how doctors and patients in the same situations, sometimes working for the same companies overseas are treated; it will leave you speechles.

Capitalism, A Love Story
M. Moore doesn’t disappoint with his final progressive documentary. The root of the financial crisis and why the ride has just begun. Plenty of things to make you mad in this film but, as always, Moore makes you laugh instead. What was nice is there were solutions in this film, including a better way than the current plutocracy. Companies that ran their boards like a democracy had a vested interest in their employees as well as their bottom line, and were very successful. Why is that so radical?

To Kill a Mockingbird
Atticus Finch was someone I wanted to emulate as a father when I saw this film. He showed how critical it is to stand up for what is right, even when everyone else had a mob mentality—and even when you lose. True character and a fighting spirit that transcends the political message, although I wouldn’t mind a few of our supposed Democratic leaders learning a little bit about standing up and fighting for what is right.

A Handmaid's Tale
What an American Theocracy would truly look like. A bigoted, right-wing fearmonger stages an attack, blames it on Islamic terrorists, and seizes control by suspending the Constitution and creating a teabagger paradise. Women are in complete subjugation and right-wing interpretation of the Bible is established as law that completely oppresses the people . Corruption abounds while ideology becomes law.
On a side note, with a felonious teabagger winning the governorship of Florida along with a veto-proof, corrupt right-wing majority in our state legislature, we might get a glipse of this GOP wet dream next year.

Finding Nemo
IT’s just a good film you can take the whole family to. Enjoy.

A 1970s futuristic film that was very accurate in predicting TVs descent into appealing to the lowest common denominator. I thought we reached it when Fox ran Who wants to marry a multi-millionaire? Then there was the recent season of Survivor where they divided the teams by race (by the way, fathead Trump had the same idea). Then Kidstown. All very tame I’m sure in the decades to come. Then there is Fox News, which is proud of their ratings prowess and cult-like following. One thing they can’t be proud of is their “news”, which are slanted stories based on right-wing talking points from their wingnut pundits—and I believe they employ every single one of them with the exception of Rush Limbaugh. By the way, a good film for anyone who still insists Fox is fair is Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism.

Food, Inc.
Wow. This film wasn’t the hippie, tofu-eating propaganda dI was expecting. It examined the surprisingly frightening industrial production of meat and the industrial production of grain and corn (my God, corn is in absolutely everything!). The film also examined the extremely powerful economic and legal power of companies like the evil MONSANTO and the ridiculous anti-farmer food libel laws. You soon realize our food production is based on companies that need to supply cheap but contaminated and pesticide-laden food. Like any good documentary, the film provides solutions as well.

Saving Private Ryan
A good realistic war film that doesn’t glorify war while simultaneously honoring the collective memory of the heroes of World War II. It has the most realistic D-Day scene I’ve ever seen, the horror, the confusion, and the absolute bravery of these men overcoming overwhelming odds. The most powerful portion of the story are the letters at the beginning that were designed to comfort a mother who would learn she lost almost all of her sons in battle. It is patriotic, powerful, and allows a glimpse of what it truly means to serve for all of those wingnuts that like to play dress-up but are too cowardly to actually enlist.

There are plenty of movies that I did not include. I didn’t include An Inconvenient Truth because I haven’t seen it, but I heard it was powerful.

I can’t include crap like Day After Tomorrow, because even films that have a message I agree with that are crappy and not based on science shouldn’t be made.

The Siege with Denzel Washington made a few salient points on overreaction to terrorism, but insultingly made the military seem like unquestioning robots. I take real issue with that being a vet myself-and I once reminded my commander about unlawful orders when I was overseas.

Sorry, I didn't like V, either. Yes I get it, it just wasn't good. Same with Golden Compass. Kidman needs to quit making movies.

I liked Who Killed the Electric Car? and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, but thought I already had plenty of documentaries.

Gattaca for its poignant commentary on bigotry and the triumph of perserverance over adversity.

An HBO movie called The Enemy Within, about a coup in the US that was believable, but I couldn’t say it had to be watched. Another HBO movie that should be viewed is The Tuskegee Airmen. They had to face everything that is horrible about war along with the disrespect and indignity of racism, and still kicked ass.

Being a history buff, I wanted to include an historical film on the Founding Fathers, but frankly none stand out in my mind. Too bad Hollywood isn't making one... the teabaggers need to learn the REAL history, not the history as made up by a self-described rodeo clown.

I have no doubt that I will wake up thinking of another movie repressed in the back of head, or that many of you have several movies that you would like everyone to see. I invite you to share those in the comments as well.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Why They Don't Take Florida Seriously

Every single major newspaper in Florida, even the conservative ones, even the ones who said to vote Bush and McCain, were terrified of a Rick Scott governorship and got behind Alex Sink.

I wondered what an endorsement of Scott would look like. Something like this: "Be Optimistic About Our New Governor" by Jordan Swanson. This, I guess, is the closest thing to a "newspaper" endorsement. Last week my local college rag, the UCF Future, extolled the virtues of governor-elect Scott. (PS...If you click on the link, please read the site comments to this piece, they are hilarious!)

Granted, this piece at the Future doesn't come close to rivaling their other great works, such as the endorsement entitled "Bush Worthy of Great Leader Status" written shortly after Katrina, or the article gushing Palin. But it is still cringe-worthy.

The guest columnist, who has a little trouble with grammer, proudly claimed she didn't vote in the midterm election, but had "good reason". She didn't know anything. She even more proudly claimed to have based her whole opinion on watching political TV ads, although she did manage to catch his victory speech.

That is the only way it could have happened. A lazy kid pretending to be a journalist who is proud of being an idiot: and just as confidently states she did no research whatsoever.

But the reason I titled this rant why they don't take FLORIDA seriously as opposed to some irrelevant college paper seriously is because this is a microcosm of why Florida is in such bad shape. She did what a lot of people here do. Watch a few ads and make up their mind. Seniors voted for Rick Scott even though the guy LITERALLY stole from them.

What does Florida have to show for almost two decades of GOP rule? We have 12% unemployment, property values that are the worst in the nation, an education system that went from the top 10 to #48, overdevelopment, and toothless regulation that is about to be completely gutted.

So what does Florida do? A state with more registered Dems than GOP? Put a veto-proof, right-wing majority in the state legislature... and a felon responsible for the largest Medicare fraud in history in the governor's office.

OK, putting the obvious problem of having a criminal in the highest state office aside for a moment (yes, let's make a whole new argument here because that isn't enough), let's talk about his "plan" to create 700,000 jobs. Here just a taste of what he wants to do:

1. Bring Arizona's Anti-Brown Law here (which has cost that state nearly 100 million in revenue due to boycotts)
2. Force all women who want to exercise there legal right to an abortion to be VIOLATED with a forced ultrasound, a lecture, and then PAY for it (Who wouldn't want to live in a state that practices forced rape on a patient. And this was the guy that wanted government out of health care??? Fuck you)
3. Allow drilling on our coasts (Nothing bad can happen there)
4. Kill the high-speed rail line (that the federal government is already mostly paying for, killing hundreds of jobs instantly and ensuring years of gridlock on I-4)
5. Push the anti-teacher law that punishes teachers working with difficult children (We went from the top 10 to #48 in schools under GOP rule. Its going to get worse)

How is this going to create jobs, Rick?

All these things mentioned above will COST us jobs. The big plan is to cut the corporate tax, but Florida already has one of the lowest in the nation, and that hasn't created anything. Businesses hire when there is a market--and Rick Scott has ensured that Florida will be toxic to investors for years.

But columnist Jordan Swanson saw one of Scott's $73 million dollar TV ads featuring his mom saying he was a "good boy", so I guess I have every reason to be optimistic as the article tells me.

The GOP takes California seriously because the voters there took it seriously, and didn't let Meg Whitman buy the election although she spent twice as much as Rick Scott. In New York, Paladino was laughed off the electoral stage.

After years of taking our state down the toilet, the GOP was given more power. Worse, this new crop of teabaggers now have absolute control, and just put a guy in office his fellow republicans thought should be in jail. How could anyone take us seriously?

We were mocked for not knowing how to vote 10 years ago. What is more frightening is when some of us do.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day! Happy 500th Post!!

It irritates me that I have to work today while those who never served get to lounge around. It infuriates me that rethuglicans who work so hard at cutting benefits for veterans surround themselves with veterans during campaign season. But it really sickens me that right-wing cowards who would never put themselves in harm's way nonetheless have no trouble pushing others and their children into battle. These are the conservative idiots who love to "play" war with paintballs or even more pathetic, people like Eric Ericsson of Redstate who even made patches that his followers actually wore. We fought for those too weak to fight themselves.

The photo is of a USAF Security Forces sentinel, which was the most awesome job I ever had. I was law enforcement, but also had acted as the Air Force's infantry (we were the ones who would hold the base if attacked while helping others escape). We trained as law enforcement specialists, but also had to go through Army infantry training at Ft. Dix, NJ. I served proudly and remember the time fondly. HAPPY VETERANS DAY!!

This is also my 500th post on this blog. This blog was started in early 2006 by the Democratic Chair of the Seminole Democrats as the official blog. She liked my writing and asked me to take it over. In 2007, I broke away so I could write my own mind without running it past anyone or speaking for anyone else. Here's to 500 more.

Friday, November 05, 2010

With 12% Unemployment, Dismal Property Values and Solo GOP Rule, Florida Ripe for New Depression

Florida Flag being flown in the position of distress
This was posted by Jim White at FireDogLake

If only the nation will pay attention, Florida has now become the perfect laboratory model for single-party Republican corporatist rule. When Alex Sink conceded to Rick Scott this morning, Republicans in Florida cemented a clean sweep of all statewide offices on the ballot. In addition, Republicans now hold over two thirds of the seats in both the Florida House and Florida Senate. Leading this merry band of corporatists will be Governor Rick Scott, who holds the distinction of having been CEO of the corporation that holds the record for the largest fine ever assessed ($1.7 billion) in settling Medicare fraud charges.

With unemployment in the state now at 12 percent and property values severely depressed from the burst property bubble, I see no way that a state without an income tax can withstand corporatist rule under these parameters without sliding into a New Depression.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

FL: The CRIMINAL Won... Dear God Help Us ALL

Flying a flag upside down is an internationally-recognized distress symbol. The only time a flag should be flown in that position is in accordance with US Code "as a signal of dire distress".

For Florida, that time is now.

We have elected a pathological criminal to the highest office in our state.

Not a typical "all politicians are criminal", dishonest, money-grubbing and lobbyist-kissing criminal, but a REAL thug! I'm not talking about the hypocricy of railing against government healthcare only to make his fortune off of Medicare--I AM TALKING ABOUT KEEPING TWO SETS OF BOOKS as CEO! One of which was used just to STEAL from taxpayers and seniors!!! And if that wasn't enough... he ran for governor using the money he stole!!

His own running mate thought he was a criminal... until he picked her to run with him. That is unscrupulous, but at least she didn't steal from old people!

10 years ago our state was a national laughingstock because people couldn't figure out how to use a ballot. That is nothing compared to the majority of voters electing a slippery felon to work with an overwhelmingly corrupt state legislature.

This was a combination of the GOP allowing themselves to be hijacked by uneducated teabaggers who see nothing wrong with giving a proven hooligan state power... independents who allowed themselves to be swayed by millions and millions of dollars of adverstising using Rick Scott's blood money and foreign interest money that poured into shady right-wing groups... and finally, Democrats who were so fed up with their spineless leaders they decided to stay home and send a "message", while allowing this hell to be unleashed upon us. Yes, my fellow Dems, you allowed this to happen.

If he was just Sharon Angle crazy, I could live with it. Even though Rick Scott makes George W. Bush seem like a sane moderate: there is no telling the jaw-dropping teabagging nonsense that will be steamrolled into this fragile state for the next four years with teabaggers in control of the governor's mansion and state legislature. (AZ anti-brown people law? Forced ultrasound?)

But all of that will BE NOTHING compared to the illegal activities that this wicked man will perpetuate with his cronies and our complicit legislature.

Rick Scott is Florida's governor.

May God have mercy on us all!