Culture, Hollywood, Movies, Politics

Ben Affleck went full-Lex Luthor instead of Batman, pushed PBS to censor slave-owning ancestry

Ben Affleck Bill MaherI said in August of 2013 that Ben Affleck’s political activism would derail the ability of many people to see Batman v Superman with an open mind. The actor would go on to insult Republican moviegoers by December. He then disappeared to make Gone Girl, only to almost break down into tears while discussing radical Islam with Bill Maher in October, 2014. Mr. Affleck is now in the news with another embarrassing story: he pressured PBS to censor his slave-owning ancestry while filming PBS’s Finding Your Roots series.

USA Today reported April 19 on the newest Wikileaks revelation:

The emails between Finding Your Roots host Henry Louis Gates and Sony chief executive Michael Lynton show Gates’ dealing with the issue of featuring the slave-owning portion of Affleck’s past on the popular PBS program.

“Here’s my dilemma: confidentially, for the first time, one of our guests has asked us to edit out something about one of his ancestors — the fact that he owned slaves,” Gates’ leaked email states. ” Now, four or five of our guests this season descend from slave owners, including Ken Burns. We’ve never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found. He’s a megastar. What do we do?” …

“Once we open the door to censorship, we lose control of the brand,” Gates writes in the emails, adding that he wouldn’t “demonize” the slave-owning ancestor.

“Now Anderson Cooper’s ancestor was a real s.o.b.; one of his slaves actually murdered him. Of course, the slave was promptly hanged. And Anderson didn’t miss a beat about that,” Gates writes.

The series ultimately did leave out Ben Affleck’s slave-owning ancestry, laughably saying “We decided to go with the story we used about his fascinating ancestor who became an occultist following the Civil War.” Sorry PBS, but now everyone knows that you have “lost control of the brand.”

A friend of mine asked why Ben Affleck would run from his history instead of embracing it. The answer once again ties back to the actor’s political activism.

Ben Affleck not only runs from history — he tries to revise it. He is the type of person who literally stops himself mid-sentence while saying Americans are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights to say that Americans are “endowed by our forefathers with certain inalienable rights.” Rights don’t come from God, according to Batman — they come from a small group of liberal guys like Ben Affleck in the nation’s capital.

Given that the Hollywood actor is a committed liberal, it’s a safe bet to say that on the right episode of “Real Time” with Bill Maher, he would be happy to lecture Americans on “white privilege.” It’s also likely that when cornered on constitutional debates, he would resort to the tried-and-true red herring that “the founding fathers had slaves” (as if a man’s flaws invalidate the timeless principles he espouses).

Ben Affleck knows that the knowledge of his slave-owning ancestry makes it near-impossible for him to spew spurious racial arguments with impunity. Bloggers like yours truly will always be able to joke, “You know what, Ben? You’re right! We need to do something about white privilege. Why don’t you lead the way by paying reparations to Americans whose ancestors were chained and whipped by Old Man Affleck.”

It is now apparent that Ben Affleck will act manipulatively behind the scenes like a wannabe Lex Luthor when his political activism is threatened. There is no reason for a man to hide from his family’s past unless it threatens to topple the moral pedestal he stands upon while lecturing the rest of us.

If PBS executives are smart, then they will release a version of Finding Your Roots where Ben Affleck is confronted about his slave-owning ancestry. Why would anyone want to watch a show titled “Finding Your Roots” when in reality it should be called “Finding the Roots that Hollywood Wants You To See”? They wouldn’t.

Word of advice for Zack Synder: Tell Ben Affleck to go into his own personal Batcave and not come out until it’s time to promote Batman v Superman. It’s hard to believe Ben Affleck is Bruce Wayne when every few months he strengthens the impression that he’s really just a pampered Hollywood activist.

Comics, Movies

Batman v Superman teaser trailer: ‘We as a population on this planet have been looking for a savior’

Superman v Batman angelThe Batman v Superman teaser trailer is out, and it looks amazing. I may be biased given that it looks like many of the ideas director Zack Synder is going to explore were covered on this blog when the Man of Steel trailer was revealed.

Here is what I wrote December 11, 2012:

“The truth is, the world would reject Superman. And in his love for humanity he would offer himself up to them. No matter how strong and powerful he was and no matter how much he tried to convince humanity that he loved it they would fear and, ultimately, seek to destroy him. A world in which Superman exists would thrust a moral weight upon the shoulders of its citizens that would be too uncomfortable to bear for millions (possibly billions) of people, and they would seek to find ways to cast off such a burden by banishing him from earth, discrediting or destroying him all together.”

Now, here is what an assortment of pundits said during the Batman v Superman trailer released April 17:

“Is it really surprising that the most powerful man in the world should be a figure of controversy … We as a population on this planet have been looking for a savior. … Human beings have a horrible track record of following people of great power … Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. … Now we know better now, don’t we? Devils don’t come from hell beneath us. No, they come from the sky.”

The world wants to believe that the perfect human could exist, but if he were to ever really walk amongst us then they would destroy him. They would call him a false prophet. They would fear him. They would seek to make him bleed because a perfect man would change everything. (Hmmm. This story sounds familiar…almost like it really happened.)

Superman v Batman False GodIn a world where Superman existed, there would be those who rightly conclude that if he was not a god, then a check on his power must be put in place. A man with the power of a god — a fallible man — could not be trusted with absolute power. There would always be the chance that he could turn evil, which would beg the question: Then what?

Superman v Batman bowThe answer: Batman.

Superman v Batman cowlThe one man who could create a plausible contingency plan for dealing with a rogue Superman would be Bruce Wayne. He may be a mere mortal, but he has the necessary combination of attributes necessary to pull off such a mission.

Zack Synder has a lot to juggle with Batman v Superman. Audiences won’t know how strong the script is until they step into the theater, but as of Friday, April 17, 2015, they at least know that thematically and visually things appear to be right where they need to be.

Culture, Politics

‘The Inner Ring,’ by C.S. Lewis explains Washington, D.C. perfectly

Twitter recently suspended my account for daring to question its decision not to penalize the man who sent me a death threat. I was then contacted privately by a friend who asked why certain conservatives weren’t coming to my defense. This person knows that I once worked for a large think tank in Washington, D.C., and that I currently work for a newspaper.

The answer is simple: I willingly left a specific “Ring” years ago, and those who leave the Ring are not afforded its support.

C.S. Lewis explains this phenomenon well in his classic speech to young university students:

“I believe that in all men’s lives at certain periods, and in many men’s lives at all periods between infancy and extreme old age, one of the most dominant elements is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside. This desire, in one of its forms, has indeed had ample justice done to it in literature. I mean, in the form of snobbery. Victorian fiction is full of characters who are hagridden by the desire to get inside that particular Ring which is, or was, called Society. But it must be clearly understood that “Society,” in that sense of the word, is merely one of a hundred Rings and snobbery, therefore, only one form of the longing to be inside.

People who believe themselves to be free, and indeed are free, from snobbery, and who read satires on snobbery with tranquil superiority, may be devoured by the desire in another form. It may be the very intensity of their desire to enter some quite different Ring which renders them immune from the allurements of high life. An invitation from a duchess would be very cold comfort to a man smarting under the sense of exclusion from some artistic or communist côterie. Poor man — it is not large, lighted rooms, or champagne, or even scandals about peers and Cabinet Ministers that he wants; it is the sacred little attic or studio, the heads bent together, the fog of tobacco smoke, and the delicious knowledge that we — we four or five all huddled beside this stove — are the people who know. …

The lust for the esoteric, the longing to be inside, take many forms which are not easily recognizable as Ambition. We hope, no doubt, for tangible profits from every Inner Ring we penetrate: power, money, liberty to break rules, avoidance of routine duties, evasion of discipline. But all these would not satisfy us if we did not get in addition the delicious sense of secret intimacy. …

Of all passions the passion for the Inner Ring is most skillful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things. …

The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it. But if you break it, a surprising result will follow. If in your working hours you make the work your end, you will presently find yourself all unawares inside the only circle in your profession that really matters. You will be one of the sound craftsmen, and other sound craftsmen will know it.”  — C.S. Lewis, The Inner Ring.

Regular readers know that I do not name drop. I think it’s tawdry and weird and something people use as a crutch when they’re incapable of formulating sound arguments. However, I will say this: Once I left the employment of a well-known think tank, there were individuals who treated me like a ghost overnight.

The kind of people who populate Washington, D.C. are very much like a well-connected man I once got into an argument with while working near the Capitol. He said to me: “Do you know who I am? I’m the maître d’ of the conservative movement.” My skin crawled. I didn’t care who he was — he was wrong — and I’d rather choose the hard right than the easy wrong.

The kind of man who calls himself the “maître d’ of the conservative movement” is very much the kind of man who cares about the Inner Ring that C.S. Lewis covers in great detail. He may be conservative, but he cares much more about himself and his career than he does about the principles he espouses in front of large crowds or on cable news shows.

Perhaps the most recent example of a larger Ring that actually gained traction on social media was Valerie Jarrett’s appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” President Obama’s top adviser went around the table giving pundits hugs and kisses, with Joe Scarborough saying “Valerie, come give me a hug!” before cutting to a commercial break.

Morning Joe Valerie JarrettWashington D.C. is an incestuous place, where reporters, pundits, politicians, academics and bureaucrats all go to the same parties over … and over … and over … and over. It’s the kind of place where you can go to dinner with someone and the person sitting across the table can say with a straight face that they’re “kind of a big deal.” I know because it happened to me.

As C.S. Lewis notes, no one is immune from the desire to be a part of some Inner Ring. The difference between Washington, D.C. and other places, however, is that the capital’s rings lure people who seek power and influence. Very smart, very shrewd individuals are attracted to Washington, which means that they are capable of advanced levels of evil.

Who is more evil: the dumb fool who punches you in the face and steals your wallet because he knows of no other way to vent frustration over his shortcomings, or the intelligent man who methodically finds ways to trample your soul and deny your god-given rights — all while convincing you that he’s really your best friend?

All men are capable of great good or great evil, but my point is that the concentration of highly-educated individuals in the nation’s capital, who are obsessed with power, also means that the city possesses a unique kind of evil.

If you get a chance, then I highly suggest reading “The Inner Ring,” by C.S. Lewis. If I had read it years ago, then I would have hopped on a happier path ahead of schedule. No matter what city or town you live in, it’s worth your time.

Culture, Politics

Sarah Silverman admits gender pay gap lie, then calls honest people ‘maniacs’

Sarah Silverman wage gap lie
Sarah Silverman has worked with “Funny or Die,” but now she can officially start her own website called “Funny or Lie.” The comedian recently recounted the time club owner Al Martin allegedly paid her less money than Todd Barry because she was a woman, and then apologized when Mr. Martin publicly excoriated her on for lying. In incredibly strange fashion she then called honest people “maniacs.”

Here is what Ms. Silverman said in a PSA for the women’s organization Levo League on April 6:

“I did a show. I was out with my friend Todd Barry, and we were doing sets around town together. […] We were outside talking and Todd somehow brought up that he got 60 bucks. He just got $60, and I got $10. We did the exact same time back-to-back on the same show. And so I went back inside, and I asked the owner Al Martin, and I said ‘Al, why did you pay me $10 and you gave Todd Barry $60?” It was so perfect, he said ‘Oh, did you want a $60 spot?’ It was symbolic. I didn’t need $60, but it’s, ummm, pretty shitty. …

If I tweet about anything women’s rights related, equal pay or health care or anything like that, that gets the most violent hate tweets back. It’s so odd. It’s just bizarre. That and gun control tweets. It creates such a rage in certain people and of course that comes from fear.”

Do you know what’s really “shitty,” Ms. Silverman? Lying about an issue when you know that your lie can ruin a man’s reputation that he worked an entire lifetime to build. That’s pretty “shitty.”

Here is what Mr. Martin said on Facebook when word got out that he was allegedly a sexist jerk:

“Are you kidding ? You come in to my club 15 years ago and ask me for a guest spot, I did not ask you to perform and you were not booked, and Then you ask me for pay? You asked to work out some material … Then you make this a gender pay thing? Sarah great cause I am with it, but I did not pay you less cause of gender … I paid you less because Todd Barry was booked and you weren’t … It was a GUEST SPOT, so I gave you some car fare, which actually is more than almost any club would have given for a GUEST Spot … Funny how in your attempt to become a super hero with a noble cause, you forgot that little fact … GUEST SPOT … GUEST SPOT.”

There is it in a nutshell: In Ms. Silverman’s quest to “become a super hero with a noble cause,” she decided that Al Martin’s reputation was expendable. She accuses others of having fear-based motivations for their responses to her commentary in the very same conversation she willfully lies about a man who tried to do her a favor. Even if one were to agree to the premise that Ms. Silverman’s critics operate from a fear-based emotional state, then it must also be noted that her dishonesty helps to fuel the fire.

The coup de grâce to the whole weird ordeal came with Ms. Siliverman’s “apology,” via Salon:

“To Al, I truly am sorry to bring you into this as you employ women and pay them the same as the men I’m sure. To the maniacs who want to use this as a chit against women’s issues, I ask that you please don’t. Because that would be super shitty. Feel free to aim your vitriol at me but leave this issue of working women out of it, K?” Ms. Silverman wrote.

There is that word again: ‘shitty.’ Again, it might not be a good idea for someone who just used an ends-justify-the-means interview in which she willingly opted to destroy a man’s good name in order to put herself up on a moral pedestal and forward a political agenda.

In Ms. Silverman’s world, honest people become “maniacs” the moment they cite her lies as proof that the whole pay-gap issue is more complex than pundits and “Funny or Die” comedians would have us believe. In Ms. Silverman’s world, apologies are only done right if they’re able to quickly deflect attention from her lies and onto some other ambiguous “shitty” group.

If Sarah Silverman and a man came into your office with equal resumes, and you hired the man because he had no known record of lying about former employers, would you be a sexist or would you be a rational human being?

It speaks volumes that when asked to recount a time when pay inequality directly affected her life, the only thing she could come up with was a giant lie.

The next time Sarah Silverman takes to Twitter to lecture you about any number of public policy issues, there is no need to send profanity into her feed. You can respond to her with two words: Guest spot.

Exit question: If a person believes we’re “all just a bunch of molecules,” are they more or less likely to feel bad about a lie that destroys a man’s good name?

Sarah Silverman Twitter

Politics

Is it more likely that Harry Reid was beaten up, or that Mitt Romney didn’t pay his taxes?

ReidLet’s play a little game, shall we? It’s called “Is it more likely that Harry Reid was beaten up, or that Mitt Romney didn’t pay his taxes?”. The reason behind this game is simple: the retiring senator, who laughed off his 2012 presidential election lie about Mitt Romney, is now upset that radio host Rush Limbaugh said what others were already thinking: it looks like someone beat Harry Reid up.

Here is what Mr. Reid told CNN’s Dana Brash on March 31 when asked if he regretted his lie about Mitt Romney not paying taxes: “Romney didn’t win, did he?”

Telling, isn’t it? The ends justify the means to Mr. Reid, no matter how low he has to sink.

Now, here is the Nevada senator complaining to CNBC’s John Harwood about Mr. Limbaugh’s commentary on his battered and bruised body: “It shows the credibility of Rush Limbaugh. He’s the guy that got all this started. Why in the world would I come up with a story that I got hurt in my own bathroom with my wife standing there? How could anyone say anything like that? I think a lot of people, as I read, they kinda don’t like me as a person. That’s unfortunate.”

Why would anyone not like Harry Reid — besides the fact that he made up a giant irresponsible lie about Mitt Romney during a presidential election?

Harry Reid looks like artificial intelligence out of “Avengers: Age of Ultron” took over his workout equipment and then beat the living daylights out of him. That is what Rush Limbaugh correctly pointed out when he said “I don’t believe for a minute that whatever happened to Harry Reid has anything to do with an exercise machine unless somebody repeatedly threw him into it.”

I worked in a gym for three years. I can not think of one exercise that Harry Reid would do (or has the capability of performing) that would leave him looking like an angry bouncer unloaded on him. The official story is that an elastic waistband snapped and sent him sprawling inside his own bathroom.

I ask again: Is it more likely that Harry Reid was beaten up or that Mitt Romney didn’t pay his taxes?

There is one word to describe the rumors that are swirling about Mr. Reid’s battered and bruised body: karma. If a man makes up disgusting lies to smear political opponents, then he has zero moral authority to complain when the karma boomerang comes back and hits him in the face again…and again…and again.

Politics

Marco Rubio enters 2016 race: There are officially zero reasons to support Jeb Bush

Marco RubioFlorida Senator Marco Rubio has entered the 2016 race for the White House, which means that there are officially no reasons for Republicans to care about anything Jeb Bush has to say. Only people who are fascinated by political dynasties and those who are obsessed with the past will be left in Mr. Bush’s corner, no matter how much of Karl Rove’s money he brings to the table.

The Associated Press reported Monday, April 13:

MIAMI (AP) — Sen. Marco Rubio on Monday took on Hillary Rodham Clinton in his first words as a presidential candidate, telling top donors he is running for the Republican nomination because the 2016 race for the White House should be about the future, not the past.

The first-term Republican from Florida, 43, also told his most generous backers that he feels “uniquely qualified” to pitch his Republican Party as one that will defend the American Dream.

Nothing could send a worse message about the state of American culture than if the 2016 American election was between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. If the Republican Party wants to get trounced (again) this next presidential election, then it will nominate a crusty old white man with the last name “Bush.”

Jeb Bush APIf the Republican Party wants to have any chance at winning, then it will nominate an intelligent, charismatic, conservative man who really is the American Dream personified — who also happens to be good looking. Mr. Rubio also gets bonus points for having tried to work with Senate Democrats on immigration, even though they stabbed him in the back.

If conservatives refuse to cut the guy with Cuban immigrant parents some slack for being the lone adult in the room on immigration reform, then they deserve to lose.

Obama Administration, Politics

Obama, man with terrorist ‘kill list,’ tweets rainbow wave picture that only true believers can love

White House RainbowThe White House must think that it’s 2008, because on April 10 it posted an image of President Obama strategically shot so that it looked as if he could blast rainbow repulsor rays from his hands. The image may have worked years ago, when millions of people could look at him surrounded by giant Styrofoam Greek columns and not laugh, but the magic is mostly gone for the man who officially put George W. Bush’s use of drones to shame.

The New York Times reported May 29, 2012 on Mr. Obama’s “Terror Tuesday” kill lists:

Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret “nominations” process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical. He had vowed to align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values; the chart, introducing people whose deaths he might soon be asked to order, underscored just what a moral and legal conundrum this could be.

Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an unconventional war. When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises — but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.

“He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go,” said Thomas E. Donilon, his national security adviser. “His view is that he’s responsible for the position of the United States in the world.” He added, “He’s determined to keep the tether pretty short.”

Question: Does Mr. Obama represent a leprechaun, or is he the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Perhaps the best answer is that like leprechauns and pots of gold at the end of rainbows, Mr. Obama is a wonderful work of fiction that millions of people can take comfort in as they crawl into bed at night.

Obama FlagFor almost two terms, the Hagiography Factory has never given its employees a day off — because its products work. For millions of Americans, the transmutation of Mr. Obama from a fallible human being into some sort of “hope and change” creature allows them to ignore the consequences of his public policy decisions, no matter how disastrous they may be (e.g., Libya, Yemen, Syria).

“Change” is the vague refrain of the Obama administration because it means something entirely different to each person. Each true believer has an ideal image of change inside his mind’s eye, and any failure to achieve that goal is not the fault of the political leprechaun, but nefarious actors or unforeseen circumstances beyond everyone’s control.

The deification of any politician is a dangerous thing because at the end of the day he or she is still an incredibly flawed individual. The politician is subject to the same temptations and base impulses as anyone else. The surest way to corrupt a man is to convince him that he is incorruptible, but sadly that is a lesson that escapes the true believer.

As the 2016 presidential election heats up, I suggest watching to see who the new owner(s) of the Hagiography Factory will be. Once that is determined, it would be wise to view everything that person says and does with a hyper-skeptical eye.