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Friday, April 25, 2014

Washington Post: Opinion: Alyssa Rosenberg: "If Conservatives Lost the Culture War, That Doesn't Mean Liberals Won it": How Liberals Won the Culture War


Washington Post: Opinion: Alyssa Rosenberg: If Conservatives Lost the Culture War, That Doesn't Mean Liberals Won

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger  

When people use the term "Culture War," it's not immediately clear what they're talking about.  It could be some pop culture war between Hollywood and Nashville, the capitol of country music, or, perhaps, the broader Bible Belt. Well, that sort of conflict is really not of much significance.  A more significant  Culture War is in the arena of politics and the way Americans look at life and how they believe they should be living it.

All the evidence you need to know that Liberals won that Culture War is that it's no longer 1955.  We no longer watch black and white TV or get together in the living room to listen to the radio. The man of the house is no longer likely to say, "Honey I'm home," when he comes home from work, with honey responding "How was your day dear?  Your favorite drink is by your chair in the living room."  Honey may not be there.  She may still be at work.

This may sound simplistic but we are in a completely different era where both men and women believe that they can do anything they want to if they work hard and get a good education and the skills they need to be successful. Gone are the days of stereotypical masculine and feminine roles.  African-Americans no longer live, for the most part, to serve Caucasian-Americans by working in their homes.  Gays are no longer trapped in the closet. Men and women no longer feel that they have to be married in order to have sex or live with their romantic partner and have and rear children.

The 1960s was obviously not a perfect decade but it was a liberating (great liberal word) decade for millions of Americans, thanks to the Baby Boom generation.  Today, 40-50 years later, we as a country, at least outside of the Bible Belt, feel that we have the freedom to live our own lives and do as we please without the threat of government or the religious and social establishment interfering.  Now, legalized gambling, legalized marijuana, same-sex-marriage, homosexuality, and  adult pornography are all mainstream.  Bye bye, Billy Graham, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Phyllis Schaffly.  You lost the Culture War.

As much as the Christian Right may want to put the whole country in a time machine and take us back to Leave it to Beaver Land (1955), those days are long gone.  America, today, is much more free than it was then and it seeks ever more personal and economic freedom.  It is never going back.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Onion: Video: Landmark Supreme Court Decision Lets Americans Cram Cash Directly Into Politicians Throat



This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

What the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance did last week was, essentially, to make bribery legal so that members of Congress will no longer have to feel guilty about taking money for voting for this or voting for that.  Or in the case of the U.S. Senate, voting to not vote,  if you are familiar with the Senate cloture rule.  If you are familiar with the Senate cloture rule, you are probably qualified to teach Greek or ancient Mongolian history because the cloture rule is just as complicated.

Free speech? Give me a break, we are now talking about paid speech. The people with the most money have the most influence, which has always been the case in Congress.  The only thing these Supreme Court decisions have done is to make that legal. Congressional influence will be sold to the highest bidder.  Policy luncheons and committee hearings will be replaced by fundraisers and get togethers in private clubs and junkets where only the members of Congress who are the best boys and girls at delivering what special interests want are invited.

I wonder if I can get out of paying taxes at all if I just stuff a thousand dollars down my representative's or senator's throat.  Or, say that I owe this much in taxes.  How about I just give it to you, Senator Smith or Representative Jones, and write it off of my taxes. I get out of paying income taxes and you get the money you need to get reelected and we can do the same thing again in a couple of years. This might sound like an exaggeration but Americans politics is now at the point where public service, whatever the hell that is anymore, is now private service to the highest bidder.

We now have a Representative from Virginia, Jim Moran, a Democrat for whom I have a lot of respect  and like politically. No joke, I really do, (with only one finger behind my back).  He has the balls to say that members of Congress are underpaid.  No, seriously, he actually said that.  This guy only works half the year, lives full-time in Alexandria and gets to go home every night.  Only a handful of members of Congress get to do that.  Congressman Moran makes $174K per year as a part-time worker.

$174K a year is the average salary for an associate lawyer. What does he do with the rest of his time and spend all of his money on?  Wait, I've got it, he needs more money to pay for more fundraisers or, perhaps, to hire people to stuff money down his throat so he can keep getting reelected. Yeah, thats it. Guess what, that is not what the people who live in his district, who can't afford to make big political contributions, are paying him to do.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Drew Carey: Video: Whose Line Weird Newscasters: Not Necessarily the News



This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

"Whose Line is it Anyway?" for anyone who's interested in the full title of the show and, if you are,  you probably keep score at home when you are watching bowling on TV.  This is a show that is almost completely off the cuff.  Four comedians or comedic actors on stage are given scenes to act out. Sounds simple enough, right?  The trick is that they have to act out these scenes as strange characters.

Weird Newscasters is a perfect example.  Two comedians are pretending to be news anchors but they have to play these anchors as weird characters.  One is an alcoholic who won't let the bar close down before he gets at least one more drink. One is a weatherman who's doing the weather as a construction worker who gets turned on every time he sees a woman walk by.  Another is a sportscaster who lets out big belches every time he talks about sports.

That's what you see in this scene.  This is a show that I would love to do myself or, at least, play the game.  I could give myself my own character to play or take what is given to me.  I would love to play the anchor of the 3 am news and call it the Insomniac News Hour, or something like that.  There would be breaking news about Lindsay Lohan being pulled over for speeding and then a cut to "The Insomniac Classic Movie, "Attack of the Killer Lettuce," or something stupid like that.

This is my favorite game on Whose Line because it doesn't look a lot different from what actually passes as news today.  They go on for days about things that should be one day stories or only be given brief mentions.  Instead, they're still being covered a week later by the same people and shows.  News about Justin Bieber replaces really important issues like government spying on Americans and privacy. Today if you watch The Onion or Whose Line you might get the same amount of real information as you get from CNN, MSNBC or FNC.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Drew Carey: Video: Whose Line SuperHeros: Made Up Don't Actually Exist



This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

Who's Line is it Anyway had a segment called Superheros in which several comedian contestants played made up, non-existent (even in Hollywood), SuperHeros.  To begin, one contestant would be given the beginning of a scenario about some made up crisis.  For example, "Oh no, we are all out of Starbucks coffee," or ketchup, "What am I going to do?  I'd better call my SuperHero friends to help me out!"

The first actor would make up a SuperHero name and play a role that the host, Drew Carey, would pick from many suggestions given by the audience.  An additional actor would join the ensemble every thirty seconds or so. The first actor would give the second actor a made up SuperHero name and the second actor would give the third actor a made up SuperHero name.  The plot would be improvised in real time until all of the actors were involved. 

So you would see four actors with these crazy SuperHero names and lets say the crisis is no more Starbucks coffee in the entire world. The first SuperHero would be Caffeine Addict Boy or something like that and he would bring in Latte Girl and she would bring in Alcoholic Man telling them that the situation is okay because he has a ten year supply of scotch and bourbon so no one will go thirsty. And somehow all of these clowns would save the day and things would go back to normal for them.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Tony Baretta: Video: Myra Breckinridge 1970 Tailer: A Look at a Straight Man's World From a Former Man



This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

Myra Breckinridge may be the best movie that ever flopped at the box office.  It lost more than the 1962 New York Mets who lost something like 120 games that season.  I don't believe the movie made a dime.  It was too far ahead of its time.  If it were made today with the right cast, it would probably be a huge success.

Raquel Welch plays Myra Breckinridge and really makes the movie worth watching all by herself. Watching her, it is very difficult to look at anyone or anything else.  She is at her hottest, sexiest, cutest and funniest.  She shows the world that she is much more than a hot and sexy babe.  She has great wit and stage presence.

Myra is a former gay man who is now a transgender woman.  She goes to Hollywood to claim what she believes to be her inheritance.  Her uncle,  Buck Loner (John Huston), an over-sexed horny bastard, runs an acting school that he inherited from his parents.  Myra thinks that he owes her half of it.

Buck has no idea that his nephew, his sister Gertrude's son, is now a women calling herself Myra Breckinridge.  She tells her uncle to pay up or she's going to a get a lawyer to get what she believes is hers.

To buy time, Buck gives Myra a job on the school faculty.  He tries  to prove that Myra never married his nephew and that he doesn't owe her anything.  He's right that she never married his nephew.  She is his nephew and she's now a woman.  She has a fake marriage license that keeps her in the game  until she can get what she really wants, the five-hundred-thousand dollars that she believes her uncle owes her.

While Myra is trying to get her money, she uses her time at the school to do research on modern young straight men with the goal of dominating them, one day.  This movie is hysterical.  It has all sorts of funny characters including a gay man  who plays the part of the queen perfectly.  There's also  a very young, baby-faced, Farah Fawcett who's actually cuter than Raquel, but not as sexy. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

MN Europe: Video: Alfred Hitchcock: North by Northwest 1959 Trailer: The Best of Alfred Hitchcock

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

North by Northwest is my favorite movie of all time.  Cary Grant is my favorite actor of all time and Alfred Hitchcock is probably my favorite director of all time.  I have a couple versions of this movie on DVD, saw it on Turner Classic Movies a couple of nights ago and again on  DVD last might.  I decided to write a blog about it today because I've been thinking about it a lot. This movie is Cary Grant, perhaps the best comedic actor of all time, at his best.

North by Northwest has all the ingredients of a great Hitchcock movie. A great plot, great writing, great cast,  Hitchcock's sense of humor, that Cary Grant shares, and James Mason. The very sexy and beautiful Eva Marie Saint (On the Waterfront, The Russians are Coming) has a big role in the movie. According to my father, she's smarter, sexier, and more beautiful than Grace Kelly or Marilyn Monroe.  She reminds him of my mother.

Then, there's Jessie Royce Landis who plays Roger Thornhill's (Cary Grant) mother, a great smart ass,  even though she's only four years older. 

The movie is a Cold War thriller about a man, Van Damme (James Mason), who exports American weapons and national security secrets.  Thornhill gets caught up in it, accidentally, and you have a great movie.

Thornhill is a charming playboy New York advertising man who's just living his life as a very successful businessman.  He's kidnapped by Van Damme's henchmen at a New York bar.  They believe he has inside information about Van Damme's organization.

The Van Damme crew tries to murder Thornhill but he gets away.  He tries to get back in touch with Van Damme and instead connects with Lester Townsend, someone Van Damme had pretended to be.  The Van Damme crew, trying to murder Thornhill, instead murder Townsend.  They believe he also knows something about their organization that they want kept secret.  Thornhill is now not only on the run from Van Damme and company but also fron the NYC PD, the New York State PD, and  the Feds.

Thornhill once again escapes and is now on the run from everyone because of the murder he didn't commit.  This time, he escapes by train where he meets Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) who just happens to be an undercover Federal agent pretending to work for Philipp Van Damme.  She's actually working to bring down Van Damme's and his organization.  She has Thornhill believing she's on his side and helping him to escape.  She's actually just using him.

This movie starts in New York, moves to Chicago and then Indiana where the Van Damme crew tries to murder Thornhill and Thornhill is trying to meet the real George Kaplan to find out what this whole thing is about. The problem is that George Kaplan doesn't exist.  Back to Chicago Thornhill gets arrested again, thinking that he would be safer with the police than on the run. The Feds grab him instead and use him to help bering down Van Damme and company in Rapid City where Philipp Van Damme has a home.

This is one of the best action suspense comedies you'll ever see.