Michael Moore Literally BEGS Donald Trump To ‘Do Your Job. Attend The Briefings’

Critics of Donald Trump warned that he was unprepared for the presidency, and unwilling to prepare, long before Election Day. Now as President-Neglect he is validating all of their worst fears. Reports that Trump has been shrugging off national security briefings raise serious concerns about his commitment to the job.

Donald Trump

These briefings are not social get-togethers for lonely intelligence operatives. They are critical data exchanges that could impact the lives of American citizens as well as those of our foreign allies. And they are especially important for someone who has no prior experience in international affairs. Trump needs to be ready on day one of his presidency, and there is more to learn than he comprehends. The terrorist attacks on 9/11 occurred less than nine months into the administration of George W. Bush. And he had warnings that he also ignored.

On Wednesday night, Michael Moore was on Late Night with Seth Meyers. There was a wide ranging discussion that touched on several aspects of the Trump transition. Among other things, Moore speculated that Trump might not receive the necessary votes from the Electoral College to assume the presidency. But later in the segment Moore got serious about the dangerous level of disengagement exhibited by Trump. He expressed concern about Trump dodging the briefings. And he was disturbed that Trump was “more engaged with tweeting about Alec Baldwin and SNL.” Then he turned to the camera and pleaded directly:

“With all due respect Mr. President-Elect, on our behalf you have to pay attention. You have to attend these briefings. This is our country, this is our security, this is our safety. You’re horsing around with all this nonsense and you’re not doing your number one job. And the number one job of the president is to make sure that the country is safe.

“I beg you, seriously, there is no right or left, Republican or Democrat going on here. I’m asking you to do your job for the sake of the people who may end up dead because you didn’t do your job. We had this happen once before. We had this non-engaged president who wasn’t reading his briefs. You don’t even attend the briefs. So I’m begging you to do that. I’m begging you to get up in the morning, send out your tweets of whoever, and then, God please, attend the briefings.”

That doesn’t seem like to much to ask. The fate of the nation (and the world) is at stake. We have a tragic precedent in 9/11 that ought to make this an easy call for Trump. Unfortunately, nothing seems to be easy for him, particularly if it requires actual work. He shouldn’t need to be prodded to do the most basic parts of his job. If it’s too much for him, he shouldn’t have asked for the job. But now we’re stuck with him and we expect him to spend more time with security briefings than with ego-stroking victory rallies and comedic impressions.

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American Sniping: The Hypocritical Right-Wing Attack On Hollywood

This weekend the film “American Sniper” broke box office records for a January release pulling in more than $100 million. The film has been championed by conservatives as a tribute to Chris Kyle, the former Navy SEAL who was murdered by a fellow veteran suffering from PTSD.

American Sniping

Unfortunately, most of the chatter about the movie is unrelated to its content or quality. The obsessive compulsion by the right is focused on their imagined conspiracy by Hollywood liberals to demean the film and its allegedly pro-war message. The defense was led by Sean Hannity, who devoted an entire hour of his Fox News program to lionizing the film and those connected to it.

Lined up squarely in their sights is a favorite punching bag of the right, Michael Moore. The documentary maker tweeted that “My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards.” While he asserts that his comments were misconstrued and that he had much praise for the film, the outrage from the political punditry, who had no more experience in combat than Moore, was swift and brutal. And it quickly escalated to a generalized attack on all of Hollywood.

The only thing conservatives like better than bashing President Obama as a gay, Kenyan-born, Muslim, socialist, is getting bug-eyed about the moral depravity and hopelessly leftist bias of Hollywood. But this example of the right’s anti-Hollywood fetish is particularly absurd. After all, American Sniper was made by Warner Bros., a big Hollywood movie studio. It was directed by Clint Eastwood, a legendary Hollywood icon. The role of Chris Kyle was played by big Hollywood star, Bradley Cooper. The film has received six Oscar nominations (including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay) from the ultra-Hollywood elitists at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

What’s more, the film has received abundant praise from Hollywood figures like Rob Lowe, Dean Cain, and even Jane Fonda. Moore himself lauded the film as “awesome” and “superb.” The truth is that American Sniper has enjoyed unparalleled success and support from the very core of the Hollywood establishment that the right is so anxious to hate. But make no mistake, that disdain is purely political and has nothing to do with the movie.

Conservatives go into a knee-jerk attack mode whenever they feel there is an advantage to be gained by slamming Hollywood. They single out those whose opinions conflict with right-wing doctrine and carpet bomb the whole industry for their alleged sins. Never mind that there are many professionals in the biz who are outspoken conservatives (see the Friends of Abe). And the right still holds the distinction of having elected the only Hollywood actor (and union boss) to the presidency, Ronald Reagan.

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It’s ironic that the same week that wingnuts are defending Hollywood against allegations of racism for not recognizing the Martin Luther King biopic, Selma, they are condemning Hollywood for perceived slights to American Sniper. Apparently the good folks of Tinsel Town are not the least bit racist, but they are despicably antiwar. And loudmouth liberals like George Clooney are told to shut up, while so-called patriots like Jon Voight are invited to be keynote speakers at Tea Party conventions.

The hypocrisy is waist deep, but rightists are oblivious to it. They are too busy sniping at the objects of their animus to notice the all-to-apparent duplicity that oozes from their robo-raving. And the only thing that matters to them is landing blows against their enemies without concern for tarnishing the reputations of everyone in a business that is dedicated to entertainment, education, and free expression.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: Misquoting Michael Moore: ObamaCare Is An Awful Godsend

One of the favorite methods of distorting the truth that Fox News uses frequently, is to quote liberals out of context or to leave out significant portions of their statements in order to create the false impression that they have abandoned their liberal allies and/or their principles. And no one does this better than the folks at Fox Nation (see my ebook Fox Nation vs. Reality for more than 50 documented examples of Fox lies). In the latest episode, the Fox Nationalists glommed onto an op-ed by Michael Moore that was published in the New York Times. Moore’s title for the article is “The ObamaCare We Deserve.” Fox Nation went with “Michael Moore: ‘ObamaCare Is Awful’

Fox Nation

It’s true that Moore wrote that he regards the Affordable Care Act as an awful implementation of health insurance reform, and that he regards it as far inferior to a single-payer plan such as Medicare For All. He criticizes the rollout of the website and the pandering to insurance companies and drug manufacturers. He recalls that the core elements of ObamaCare were originally proposed by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and were the basis for RomneyCare in Massachusetts.

These are common criticisms that liberals have noted from the beginning of the health care debate. It is not a surprise to anyone following the discussion that a more universal plan was favored by progressives who essentially settled for what was possible to get through the congressional obstacles thrown in their path by Tea Party Republican opponents whose extreme positions were steeped in knee-jerk hatred for President Obama.

What Fox Nation left out of their article was that Moore also praised ObamaCare as “a Godsend,” that made it possible for millions of Americans to get coverage that was unavailable to them before. He heralds the fact that, for the first time, people have access to quality, affordable health care. He also blasts the red-state governors who have declined billions of federal dollars that would make Medicaid available to their residents. By refusing to expand their state Medicaid programs they leave more than 5 million people without any insurance at all.

The tactic employed here by Fox is one that they use routinely to mislead their audience about the public’s approval of ObamaCare. They often cite polls that show a majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of the program. However, they fail to note that many of those expressing that view are liberals who believe that the law did not go far enough toward providing a universal solution. A recent poll by CNN revealed that ObamaCare was opposed by about 60% of respondents. But 12% of them were unhappy liberals. So, CNN makes clear, “That means that 54% either support Obamacare, or say it’s not liberal enough.”

But don’t expect Fox News to report the truth that a majority of the nation support the new law, even after its troubled launch. Fox is far too consumed with distorting reality to be concerned with little things like facts. They are even so afraid that their audience might accidentally be exposed to some truth that, rather than linking to the Michael Moore article they were quoting at the New York Times, Fox linked to an abridged version of it at the uber-rightist Breitbart News. The BreitBrats referred to Moore’s column as a “blistering op-ed attacking the president from the far left,” and they failed to note Moore’s praise for the law as “a Godsend,” nor his blistering attack on the right-wing opponents of access to quality, affordable health care. Hiding the original source material and linking to cherry-picked excerpts is just another way that Fox keeps their deluded sheep in the corral.

Hack Producer Of Anti-Obama Crockumentary To Motion Picture Academy Board: Dump Michael Moore

In the annals of Hollywood crybaby sagas, none climb to heights as high as those by the right-wing hissy-fitters responsible for 2016: Obama’s America. This alleged documentary starred, and was based on the book by, conservative shill Dinesh D’Zouza. It had some success at the box office due to the gullibility of Teabagging moviegoers, but was universally panned by objective critics, and its standards for accuracy and honesty were of the toilet bowl variety.

Nevertheless, the producers were so convinced of their own brilliance that they fumed when they did not get recognition from the documentary branch members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences – who obviously know better. And now producer Gerald Molen has formalized his objections in a letter to the Academy that asks them to remove Governing Board member, and respected documentarian, Michael Moore from his post.

Fox Nation - Newsbusters

Unfortunately, this vacant bleating is nothing more than a lame cry for attention that fails to take into consideration that Moore has only one vote out of 172 members of the Academy’s documentary branch. He has no other role in choosing the winners or even selecting the nominees.

Molen’s letter made some rather egregious errors in enumerating the reasons for his pique. In addition to his ridiculous charge that Moore was among “the gatekeepers in charge of which films get nominated,” he repeatedly notes that the box office returns for his film count in some way toward whether it should be nominated for an Oscar. However, there is no correlation between financial success and creative merit. In fact, last year the next two highest grossing documentaries were “Chimpanzee” and “Katy Perry: Part of Me,” but neither of them received Oscar nominations either. Even Moore’s last film, “Capitalism: A Love Story,” was not in Oscar contention despite being one of the biggest moneymakers of all time. Yet you didn’t hear any of these filmmakers whining about bias.

Molen complained in his letter that he was the victim of political bias saying, “Like many who enjoyed and commented on the film, I find myself wondering if it was excluded for ‘other’ reasons.” Indeed, it was. However the ‘other’ reasons had to do with how badly it sucked, as well as how poorly it adhered to the standards of truth-telling that determines the quality of a documentary feature. These reasons were articulated more diplomatically by the Academy in their response to Molen:

“We’ve discussed your letter and the concerns you raise. First of all, I want to assure you that 2016: Obama’s America was treated the same as all the other 125 films that were submitted in the Feature Documentary category for the most recent Academy Awards. Your film definitely received consideration and it was not ignored. It merely didn’t get the votes it needed to move onto the short list.”

Molen’s bitchfest was predictably taken up by Fox News on their lie-riddled Fox Nation web site. In an article sourced to the ultra-rightist NewsBusters, they regurgitated Molen’s complaints and expressed their disapproval that the documentary that won last year’s Oscar, “Searching for Sugar Man” was an undeserving winner because “‘2016’ sold ten times as many tickets.” Once again, they are mistaking money for merit, a common logical flaw suffered by conservatives.

This sort of unseemly sniveling by right-wing losers is nothing new. Specifically with regard to ‘2016,’ the principle character, Dinesh D’Souza threw a similarly distasteful tantrum just prior to the Oscar program last February. Instead of demonstrating some class and an appreciation for his fellow filmmakers, D’Souza rudely insulted them saying…

“I join most Americans in leaving them in deserved obscurity. I haven’t heard of any of them, and like most people, I haven’t seen them.”

How he determined that the nominees deserved obscurity without having even seen them is a mystery and says more about him than it does about the films. But the juvenile consistency shown by Molen and D’Souza is evidence of just how low these cretins will sink to unfairly disparage other artists in pursuit of their own ego-soaked self-interest.

Andrew Breitbart Joins Fight Against Fat Cats

Right-wing propagandist, Andrew Breitbart, has jumped feet first into the battle against the wealthy 1%ers. Known primarily as a mouthpiece for the conservative elite and Republican power mongers, Breitbart is now attacking someone for having attained a comfortable lifestyle amongst the upper crusties.

Andrew BreitbartBreitbart sent his stalkers to photograph what he calls the “vacation mansion” of this tycoon who is “so wealthy that he does not need to worry about his income,” and enjoys “the kind of luxurious summer home that 99 percent of Americans can only dream of owning.”

This scoop ranks highly amongst Breitbart’s notorious journalistic accomplishments. He is the media patron of video lie-ographer James O’Keefe. He is the perpetrator of the libel that got Shirley Sherrod fired from her position at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He orchestrated the campaign against former congressman Anthony Weiner. Most recently he published stolen emails and attempted to recruit his readers to find material to embarrass the Occupy Wall Street movement (he failed to turn up anything).

And now Breitbart has launched an attack against a successful American entrepreneur for having the audacity to spend lavishly from his own earnings. It may be surprising to hear Breitbart staking out this position that seems to align with the views of the 99% of the nation that is protesting the economic inequities in our system. But it is less surprising when you know that the target of Breitbart’s ire is filmmaker Michael Moore. In an effort to soft-pedal his criticism, Breitbart dials back his outrage to assert that…

“No one begrudges Moore his wealth, but it is deceitful for him to claim poverty while encouraging class warfare among other Americans. It is also purely narcissistic and selfish for Moore to back radical and destructive socialist policies that would deny other Americans the opportunity to become as rich as he is.”

Despite his assertion, Breitbart is explicitly begrudging Moore his wealth. His clear implication is that Moore is a hypocrite. But the 99% movement has never been about opposition to financial success. It’s about opposition to corruption, and the undue seizure of power. Contrary to Breitbart’s brazen lie, Moore never claimed poverty. He openly acknowledges his success, for which he is unreservedly grateful. And he does not advocate class warfare. Like the rest of those in the Occupy movement, he merely seeks fairness and an economic environment that allows everyone to prosper. And he understands that democracy is best served when all the people’s voices are heard, not just the barons who bankroll elections.

Shared Sacrifice

Conservatives are all for the free market and the accumulation of wealth so long as as the recipient is an approved member of their club. When someone like Moore, or Warren Buffett, or Bill Gates, or Al Gore, or many other millionaires, speak out on behalf of those with lesser fortunes, people like Breitbart just can’t figure it out. These folks are not declaring war against themselves. They recognize the greater economic benefits of a society that offers affluence to all. It enhances their own financial prospects and makes the country stronger.

But it will always be anathema to the Breitbarts of the world who yearn for exclusivity amongst their ranks. God forbid they might have to rub elbows with the riff-raff. And that’s why Breitbart is reduced to stunts like peering over the hedges of well-off folks that he doesn’t happen to like. If that seems creepy to you, then you are a good judge of character.

Sunday In The Park With Glenn Beck

Glenn BeckIf you encounter Glenn Beck in public be very careful what you say. There is a strong likelihood that he will turn it into maudlin sniveling about the travails of his own victimhood.

That’s what happened this weekend when Beck claims that he was nearly lynched by a crowd of movie-goers in Manhattan. Beck relates a tale wherein he, his wife, and his daughter, was verbally accosted while laying on a blanket in Bryant Park to watch a free screening (socialists?) of Hitchcock’s “The 39 Steps.” Allegedly there was also a spilled beverage in the melee. See? It was almost exactly like a lynching. And this is the lesson that Beck would have you learn from his tribulation:

“I have to beg you that if you ever find yourself on a blanket, or in a restaurant, or anyplace next to a guy that you vehemently disagree with – be it Van Jones or Michael Moore, it doesn’t matter – don’t kick your beverage on them.”

Excellent advice! Beverages are off-limits as weapons in public disputes. Surely we are better than this. In fact, just heed this prior lesson from a previous Beck Sermon for guidance:

“Let me just tell you what I’m thinking. I’m thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I’m wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out.”

That was from Beck’s radio show on May 17, 2008. A few months later he told a similar story about an unpleasant encounter he had with the public. On that occasion a trucker in a Wendy’s was not particularly pleased to make Beck’s acquaintance. In both of these stories Beck uses Michael Moore as an example of his tolerance despite his professed desire to murder Moore with his bare hands.

It’s touching to hear Beck speak of his innate humanity and his concern for his family’s welfare. Too bad he doesn’t have the same concern for his ideological enemies whom he regards as evil, as cancers that must be cut-out, and who cannot be stopped except by shooting them in the head.

[Update] It seemed odd that with hundreds of other moviegoers in the park there wasn’t a single person to corroborate Beck’s story. And although Beck said everyone was taking pictures of him and his family, there were no pictures of any disturbance. Well, now a witness has come forward and given her account of the incident to New York Magazine. Here’s an excerpt:

“It was my friend that spilled the glass of wine on Tanya -and I can assure you that it was a complete accident. A happy one, to be sure, but nonetheless a complete and utter accident. As soon as the wine spilled (and I question how Tanya became soaked from a half glass of wine) apologies were made and my friends pretty much scrambled to give Tanya & co napkins -no doubt aware that it would look terrible and that their actions could be perceived as purposeful. No words were exchanged after that, as I think that it became pretty clear to Beck & co that my friends and I were doing everything in our capacity to help clean the ‘mess.'”

Gee, who would have thought that Glenn Beck would lie through his teeth and accuse others of being hateful – an activity he seems to want to keep exclusively to himself.

The Top One Repulsively Conservative Hollywood Moment Of 2011 (So Far)

Andrew Breitbart’s BigHollwood web site is a notoriously puerile destination for Tea Party true believers. It generally doesn’t warrant my attention, but as this is the bottom half of a lazy New Year’s weekend, and a slow news day, I thought I’d waste some time responding to a particularly dimwitted exercise in top ten listing: The Top 10 Repulsively Liberal Hollywood Moments of 2010.

The author is William J. Kelly, a D-list conservative radio host and a failed Republican candidate for comptroller in Illinois (losing the GOP primary by 37 points). His article illustrates why his lack of celebrity is so richly deserved.

Kelly is obviously an intellectual midget with aspirations to kneel before the altar of Limbaugh. It always amuses me to read conservatives like Kelly bashing liberals in Hollywood and the creative community while ignoring their own elbow-rubbing with celebrities. The ultra-rightist magazine Human Events even produced a list of the most irritating liberal celebrities. To which I responded with a list of the most irritating conservative celebrities. On the irritating scale the conservatives win by a landslide. Now they are vying for the “repulsive” title as well.

10. Smallville’s last season. Kelly complains that the program’s new villain is a “conservative radio talk show host taken over by the supernatural forces of hate and fear.” However, that description could fit any number of real conservative radio talk show hosts starting with Glenn Beck and ending with Kelly himself.

9. Kathy Griffin attacks Bristol Palin This entry raises an objection to criticism of the children of politicians. However, Bristol is an adult, and a public figure in her own right, who willingly became a contestant on Dancing With the Stars. It was Bristol’s role on DWTS that Griffin referenced in her comedy routine. Kelly seems to think that the offspring of politicians are off-limits in perpetuity. By his shallow logic we should have refrained from criticizing George W. Bush because his father was a politician.

8. Bristol’s “Dancing with the Stars” success equals Tea Party conspiracy? Anyone who still believes that Bristol’s “success” on DWTS was not the result of Tea Party vote-stuffing is terminally naive. Does Kelly really think that her dance skills were superior to the other contestants? She received amongst the lowest scores week after week. And what is with Kelly’s obsession with Bristol that she rates two items in this list?

7. Hollywood blames Christmas. Kelly says: “Hollywood took a hike on Christmas films in 2010 and the media tried to pin the blame on lack of audience interest.” Kelly just made this up. There is simply no basis for asserting that the media placed universal blame for the absence of holiday-themed films on the audience or anywhere else. To suggest that Hollywood is somehow averse to Christmas movies reveals an ignorance of Hollywood on a massive scale.

6. Maher pushes “Politically Incorrect” witchcraft clip of Christine O’Donnell. Kelly really worked hard on this one. First he lies in saying that O’Donnell’s admission to “dabbling in witchcraft” was “comically stated.” It may have been on a comedy show, but she wasn’t joking and even reiterated the point. Then Kelly goes on to lie about her opponent, Chris Coons, saying that he was let “off the hook” for his book, “The Bearded Marxist.” Except that there was no such book, and the phrase was actually attributed to conservative friends of Coons who made it clear that they were joking. Kelly apparently has a difficult time distinguishing jokes, lies, and reality.

5. Meathead says Tea Party on par with the Nazi Movement. I might have been tempted to give Kelly this one. I do not condone any indiscriminate use of Nazi references that trivialize an all-too-real horror. However, by taking Rob Reiner to task while ignoring the king of Nazi references, Glenn Beck, Kelly discredits his criticism and exposes his outrage as phony and manipulative.

4. PBS censors Tina Fey’s anti-Palin comments at the Kennedy Center Awards. Here’s another for which I nearly sympathized with Kelly. It was indeed unconscionable for PBS to edit Fey’s remarks. But as it turns out, Kelly wasn’t upset with the censorship at all. In fact he justified it and took a swing at Fey for “lowering the bar for future Mark Twain Award recipients.” Do you think that Kelly knows that Mark Twain was a sharp-tongued political satirist who probably would have vigorously applauded Fey’s comments?

3. Obama endorses Comedy Central’s Rally to Restore Sanity. Kelly’s criticism of Obama centers on his praise for civility and common sense. What an outrage! Obama and Stewart should be hanged together. Kelly accuses Obama of “Failing to distinguish comedy from real life.” Kelly may be the last man in America to fail to recognize that satire is a valid form of speech that often informs and enlightens. And Jon Stewart is one of the funniest and most effective satirists on the scene today.

2. Filmmaker Moore posts $20,000 for WikiLeaks’ Assange’s bail. This appears to be a blind, substanceless attack on Michael Moore. Kelly doesn’t explain what’s wrong with Moore posting bail for Assange. He is apparently against it because Moore did it. Perhaps Kelly is against Assange as well, but he doesn’t say so. And if he is, then he is also against free speech and freedom of the press.

1. Whoopi & Joy’s Bill O’Reilly walk-off on “The View.” In a typical right-wing embrace of intolerance and bigotry, Kelly defends Bill O’Reilly for insinuating that all Muslims are terrorists and/or all terrorists are Muslim. And he slams Whoopi and Joy for being sensitive to that overtly prejudicial opinion. In Kelly’s world it is perfectly acceptable to smear people with minority beliefs or opinions as criminals, and to escalate hostilities based on those smears.

Conservatives will be working harder than ever this year to demonstrate their repulsive nature. Kelly is off to a strong start in the race to the bottom, but I wouldn’t put down any bets just yet. After all, Glenn Beck hasn’t taken to the air yet this year and Sarah Palin hasn’t Tweeted or Facebooked since Christmas eve.

Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Wal-Mart Story

Michael Moore has announced that the DVD of his documentary “Capitalism: A Love Story” is now available. On its own, that wouldn’t really be enough to interrupt an episode of Law and Order:SVU with a special report. What makes this release interesting is that it is being carried by Wal-Mart, which is featured prominently in the film in a not particularly flattering manner. As Moore says on his blog:

The fact that Wal-Mart is carrying this movie — a movie that specifically exposes Wal-Mart’s past practice of taking out secret “dead peasant” life insurance policies on its employees and naming itself as the lone beneficiary should the employee meet an “untimely” early death — well, my friends, need you any further proof that Corporate America is so secure in its position as the ruler of our country, so sure of its infallible power that, yes, they can even sell a movie that attacks them because it poses absolutely no threat to them?

Moore contends that Wal-Mart is simply unafraid of any negative publicity due to their market dominance. They are too big to be hurt by a little documentary. I would go a step further. I believe that Wal-Mart is expressly aware that they can make a bundle off of this. And since their mission is to make money and increase shareholder value, that goal takes precedence over any potentially bad PR. They are demonstrating a principle articulated by the anti-consumerist artist Banksy, who said:

“I love the way capitalism finds a place – even for its enemies. It’s definitely boom time in the discontent industry.”

Modern marketing philosophy long ago adopted the position that the counter-culture was cool and, in order to attract contemporary consumers, you have to be willing to bash whatever is considered to be the establishment, even if it’s you. That strategy has led to progressive radio stations, who are owned by giant conglomerates, to explicitly insult their corporate parents. It has led to graffiti being embraced by staid art galleries. It has led to television commercials with music that is notably inconsistent with the product being advertised. Some of my favorite examples of the latter:

  • Jaguar’s use of “London Calling” by confirmed leftists The Clash.
  • Fidelity Mutual Funds use of David Bowie’s “Changes,” which contains the lyric “Don’t want to be a richer man.”
  • Carnival Cruise Lines use of Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life,” which is about heroin use, not partying on yachts.

This self-deprecating brand of promotion is kind of like McDonalds opening up a health food restaurant and imploring people not to poison themselves on the crap at those golden-arched fast-food joints. And now Wal-Mart is selling Michael Moore’s Capitalism. What a world.

Generation Zero vs. Capitalism: A Love Story

Last Night Sean Hannity devoted the entire hour of his Fox News program to the documentary “Generation Zero.” This morning Fox Nation featured it on their web site as a “Must-See” film.

Generation Zero recently made its public debut at the Tea Baggers Ball in Nashville and was subsequently screened at CPAC, where it was introduced by the terminally choleric Andrew Breitbart. The film was produced by David Bossie of Citizens United, the plaintiff in the recently decided Supreme Court case that granted corporations unprecedented financial participation in federal elections. It was directed by Stephen Bannon who, in another life, produced the Sean Penn directed “The Indian Runner.” Don’t tell Bill O’Reilly, who is boycotting Penn’s films.

I haven’t seen this film (it’s not actually been released yet), but its pedigree and cheer leaders reveal something of its intended mission. The web site says the film is not about the failure of capitalism, but it goes on to say that it will “change everything you thought you knew about Wall Street and Washington.” That assertion makes it difficult to separate the movie’s message from the tenets of capitalism. From reviews and discussion of the film, it seems the basic premise is that the current economic meltdown we find ourselves struggling through was caused by the selfishness and egocentrism of the children of Woodstock. This is a peculiar and illogical theory.

It’s a peculiar theory in that it presumes to blame the “Baby Boom” generation for today’s economic catastrophe. But in doing so, the film is really blaming the poor parenting skills of the “Greatest Generation” who, in their zeal to shield their kids from the pain of depression and war, acceded to their every material want and raised them to be shallow and self-indulgent. That’s a pretty harsh condemnation of the generation that survived decades of trauma in the first half of the last century. The filmmakers are essentially charging the generation that fought its way through the economic disasters of the 1930’s and the worldwide conflagrations of the 1940’s with raising their children to be so socially decadent as to lead the nation into near economic collapse. Do the filmmakers really believe that these parents passed no lessons on to their kids about the hardships they endured?

It’s an illogical theory in that it attempts to create linkage between the hippies of the 1960’s and the financial barons of the 1990’s. So much of the rhetoric of right-wing history revisionists relies on castigating the youth movement of the 1960’s. They are portrayed as drug-addled degenerates and dropouts who contributed nothing of value to society. Their preoccupation with trivialities like civil rights, peace, and free love, permanently labeled them as subversive and anti-social. Since when did their reputation get rehabilitated to the point that they are now seen as captains of industry and finance with the blood of our capitalistic empire on their hands? Surely many former hippies went on to successful careers, but I would venture to say that not one of them became the CEO of AIG or Merrill Lynch.

The Baby Boomers that took the helm of big business were the ones that kept their hair short and listened to Pat Boone in the 60’s. They were the hall monitors and the narcs at their prep schools. They were born to wealth and privilege. It was they, who were already inbred with self-indulgence and egotism, who held the reins of power in the 2000’s. It certainly was not a bunch of idealistic, public school, counter-culture, former flower children who somehow grew up to be greedy sociopaths.

It wasn’t a cabal of aging hippies who invented credit default swaps. It was a cooperative of Wall Street pirates and their Washington patrons. It wasn’t the result of permissive parenting, but of submissive regulators and legislators. While Generation Zero dwells way too much on an unrealistic Leave It To Beaver version of the 1950’s, it actually does approach this part of the problem as well. The movie does not neglect the culpability of an entrenched financial class that has no historical memory whatsoever.

Ironically, that’s exactly what Michael Moore presented in “Capitalism: A Love Story.” Moore’s film was an indictment of the coziness between Wall Street and Washington. And it assailed the notion that solutions had to be afforded to the tottering financial institutions, rather than to the suffering citizens who were the victims. So some of the themes in Generation Zero that are now being heralded by the rightist media were previously explored by Moore. But while there are clear parallels between Moore’s Capitalism and Bannon’s Zero, it is unlikely that either side will acknowledge it. The chasm is far too wide to cross. Even on Hannity’s show there was an exchange that came close to recognizing this ideological affinity, but it was ultimately ignored as they broke away to a commercial.

Sean Hannity: Is it the political system that is more corrupt? Because I believe Capitalism works. Capitalism is the answer.
David Bossie, Producer: Clearly Capital Hill is corrupt. Capital Hill is the problem, not Wall Street here.
Stephen Bannon, Director: I think it an inextricably linked network between Capital Hill and Wall Street. […] You’ve had the American taxpayer, the average, middle-class American, paying taxes to bailout these big firms, and there’s been no change in behavior, no change in structure no change in regulation.

It’s interesting to see Bossie quickly suck up to Hannity and absolve Wall Street of any liability. It’s even more interesting to see Bannon contradict both of them and spread the blame evenly across the econo-political spectrum. But most interesting would be if all the people that go to see Generation Zero would pick up a copy of Capitalism: A Love Story as well. They may realize that Michael Moore is not the demon he’s made out to be by the right. And conversely, Moore might take a look at Generation Zero. If it isn’t stuffed with right-wing polemics and denunciations of 60’s “radicals,” perhaps he could promote it alongside his own movie.

If both of these films tell the same story of overarching corporate greed and government complicity, it would make a compelling double bill.

Why Does Glenn Beck Hate Democracy?

In another display of hysterical dementia, Glenn Beck spent much of his program yesterday mangling American history and redefining the meaning of progressive. As usual, his interpretation of current events is rife with Apocalyptic gloom:

Beck: What we’re talking about is an ideological movement that has set its sights on the destruction of the Constitution and the fundamental transformation of the republic.

Beck’s proof for this prophesy of despair was a series of videos wherein Democrats described themselves as progressive, or promised to make progress on matters of interest to the nation. Progress, of course, is something that Beck and other conservatives deeply despise. That is why there has never been much of it during conservative administrations. As for progressives, Beck is recasting them as Satan’s minions who are “sucking the blood” out of the Democratic Party (Republicans too). He insists that there are no more Democrats, that they have all become infected and are now Marxists. To illustrate his point, Beck quoted Michael Moore issuing a warning to Democrats.

Moore: To the Democrats in Congress who don’t quite get it: I want to offer you a personal pledge. I, and a lot of other people have every intention of removing you from Congress in the next election if you stand in the way of health care legislation that the people want. That is not a hollow or idle threat. We will come to your district and we will work against you. You think that we’re just going to go along with you because you’re Democrats? You should think again. Because we’ll find Republicans who are smart enough to realize that the majority of Americans want universal health care.

To which Beck replied: “Got it? They don’t care about the parties. They never have.”

You see? Moore articulated a pointedly non-partisan challenge to the people’s representatives, exhorting them to align themselves with the public will or face payback at the polls. It’s called democracy. Yet Beck construes this expression of democratic engagement as hostility to party politics. What’s funny about this, aside from Beck’s daft analysis, is that he himself has made a career of being hostile to party politics. In fact, if you remove some of the identifying words in Moore’s statement it could easily be mistaken for Beck himself.

Last August Beck embarked on a major project that he called “In or Out 2010.” It’s whole purpose, he said, was to hold elected representatives accountable to the people and to a 5-point pledge he proposed. In the program introducing the project Beck said:

“If your politician doesn’t believe, support or reflect these beliefs, in their actions, not what they say in cute little speeches, then they aren’t supporting you. You bring these words to them. They’re not supporting or protecting or defending the Constitution of the United States…It’s time to throw those bums out…You tell these politicians that you’re either in, or next election season, you are out.”

How is this different from what Moore said? The only difference is that it’s OK for Glenn Beck to say it, but not Michael Moore. It is the result of the entitlement Beck feels to threaten whoever he wishes, a right not afforded to anyone else. It is a decidedly anti-democratic attitude that pervades Beck’s philosophy. Yesterday’s blackboard sermon was an extended assault on democracy that focused on how corrupt it must be because Americans voted to send more Democrats to Washington than Republicans.

Beck: I could erase the Republicans. We could take them all outside and send them to the zoo all day long and it doesn’t matter. The Democrats could still pass all their legislation.

First of all, that would only be true if there were no diversity of opinion in the Democrat’s caucus, which we all saw last year is far from the case. Secondly, so what if were true? Isn’t that what democracy is all about? If you persuade more citizens to vote for your party/platform then you get to implement it (pay attention Democrats). But Beck gets even more squirrelly as he continues bashing democratic principles.

Beck: That’s why the Democrats need these phantom villains because who’s resisting them? There’s no debate, right? Except the debate inside their own party. Inside the 256 Democrats and the 58 Democrats. You see debate…debate…that’s a needed ingredient for a recipe. One that doesn’t end up in tyranny. Debate. That’s not what we have now in the house and the senate.

In Beck’s world, which is overrun with phantoms and villains, there is no debate amongst Democrats. Of course, in the real world, getting Democrats to agree on anything is a Herculean undertaking. That’s why they have failed to invoke cloture on the record number of Republican filibusters. And it’s why so many judges and other White House appointees are still awaiting confirmation. And it’s why there still isn’t a health care bill.

On the other side of the aisle, however, the GOP marches in lockstep, holding together their homogeneous caucus without debate. It is a strictly disciplined organism that will not countenance dissent. It is the epitome of the recipe for tyranny that Beck assails. But somehow Beck recites this quotation from John F. Kennedy with no irony whatsoever:

JFK: Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can survive.

Unless they are Republicans, in which case they get a free pass from Beck who simply finds democracy distasteful. If the people speak out in favor of candidates or policies that Beck dislikes they are misguided and the system is broken. If Beck approves of the people’s decisions then those in the minority should shut up and stop trying to peddle their socialist propaganda. That’s what passes for debate in Beck’s cartoon brain. After all, how do you argue with someone who believes that God is the grantor of rights?

Last year, Beck announced that “the whole approach changes” for his show starting this month. I haven’t seen any evidence of that, but the month isn’t over yet. His announcement coincided with the disclosure of yet another Beck initiative (following the 912 Project, Re-Founders, In or Out 2010, etc.), the ominously christened “The Plan,” a one hundred year blueprint for the restoration of an America that exists only in his mangled mentality. Speculation circulated that this would be a voter registration/community organizing project. In other words, Beck may be starting his own ACORN. So we’re still waiting to see if the democracy-hating Beck will emulate an organization that he regards as anti-democratic.