Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Film "Triumph of the Will": It's Relevance to Our Modern Political Environment

Quotes from Joseph Goebbels:
“If you tell a lie, tell a big one.” 
“When the Führer speaks it is like a divine service”
"The essence of propaganda consists in winning people over to an idea so sincerely, so vitally, that in the end they succumb to it utterly and can never again escape from it."
"Triumph of The Will" is a German film directed, produced, edited and co-written by Leni Riefenstahl.  "Triumph of the Will was released in 1935 and became a prominent example of propaganda in film history. Riefenstahl's techniques—such as moving cameras, aerial photography, the use of long focus lenses to create a distorted perspective, and the revolutionary approach to the use of music and cinematography—have earned Triumph of the Will recognition as one of the greatest propaganda films in history." From Wikipedia

Why should we watch this 82 year old black and white film today?  I remember seeing it in college in 1970. I do not know if people under the age of 60 have ever seen this film. This iconic film illustrates the insidious and powerful impact of propaganda on people and democracies.  We must be on our guard against the use of such techniques that can effectively make people act in hateful ways and even counter to their own interests. If you have never seen this film, you must see it right now.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A President Without Restraints Is A Dictator

Love Letter to Kim  (with apologies to The Vapors)
I've got your picture
Of me and you
You wrote "I love you"
I love you too
I sit there staring and there's nothing else to do
Your eyes are spitting hate
Your people all bow down
Your generals are so great
Your voice has commanding sound
I often kiss you when there's no one else around
I've got your picture, I've got your picture
I'd like a million pictures of myself
I asked Hannity and Rush to cover me
So I can look at my picture on TV
You've got me turning up and turning down and turning in and turning 'round
I'm turning Korean I think I'm turning Korean I really think so
Turning Korean I think I'm turning Korean I really think so
I'm turning Korean I think I'm turning Korean I really think so
Turning Korean I think I'm turning Korean I really think so

"From spreading bald lies to suppressing basic facts and information, the early days of the Trump administration are suggestive of a tin-pot dictatorship. That's not the look he wants, and neither do most Americans....Every administration is free to set its own agenda. But the Trump administration is not free to say 2 + 2 = 5. This is no longer a reality TV show. Facts and the truth should rule policy debates." - Editorial, Philadelphia Inquirer (January 26, 2017)

ABC News aired a David Muir interview with Donald Trump on January 25, 2017.  There were many things said by President Trump that were completely outrageous, but it is clear that he used the airtime to speak past the ABC journalist to his loyal followers (those citizens who he bragged about their loyalty to him during the campaign when he said: "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters.").  Trump continued to repeat the "Big Lie" (that he cannot substantiate with any facts) that 3-5 million people voted illegally in the 2016 Presidential election.  This is how a dictator speaks. He told his audience that only Fox News provides accurate news reporting and that is what we should all be watching.   
"DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, I just have one more question on this. And it's -- it's bigger picture. You took some heat after your visit to the CIA in front of that hallowed wall, 117 stars -- of those lost at the CIA. You talked about other things. But you also talked about crowd size at the inauguration, about the size of your rallies, about covers on Time magazine. And I just wanna ask you when does all of that matter just a little less? When do you let it roll off your back now that you're the president?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: OK, so I'm glad you asked. So, I went to the CIA, my first step. I have great respect for the people in intelligence and CIA. I'm -- I don't have a lot of respect for, in particular one of the leaders. But that's okay. But I have a lot of respect for the people in the CIA.
That speech was a home run. That speech, if you look at Fox, OK, I'll mention you -- we see what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming and -- and they were all CIA. There was -- somebody was asking Sean -- "Well, were they Trump people that were put--" we don't have Trump people. They were CIA people.
That location was given to me. Mike Pence went up before me, paid great homage to the wall. I then went up, paid great homage to the wall. I then spoke to the crowd. I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time. What you do is take -- take out your tape -- you probably ran it live. I know when I do good speeches. I know when I do bad speeches. That speech was a total home run. They loved it. I could've ...
PRESIDENT TRUMP: ... gotten ...
DAVID MUIR: You would give the same speech if you went back ...
DAVID MUIR: ... in front of that wall?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: People loved it. They loved it. They gave me a standing ovation for a long period of time. They never even sat down, most of them, during the speech. There was love in the room. You and other networks covered it very inaccurately. I hate to say this to you and you probably won't put it on but turn on Fox and see how it was covered. And see how people respond to that speech.
That speech was a good speech. And you and a couple of other networks tried to downplay that speech. And it was very, very unfortunate that you did. The people of the CIA loved the speech. If I was going to take a vote in that room, there were, like, 300, 350 people, over 1,000 wanted to be there but they couldn't. They were all CIA people. I would say I would've gotten 350 to nothing in that room. That's what the vote would've been. That speech was a big hit, a big success -- success. And then I came back and I watched you on television and a couple of others.
DAVID MUIR: Not me personally.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: And they tried to demean. Excuse me?
DAVID MUIR: Not me personally.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Not you personally but your network -- and they tried to demean the speech. And I know when things are good or bad. A poll just came out on my inauguration speech which was extraordinary that people loved it. Loved and liked. And it was an extraordinary poll."

Did Trump just declare Fox News as America's Official State News Channel?  I fear that the First Amendment is in for a face-lift under the Trump Administration.  Perhaps once he installs his new Supreme Court Justice,  we'll see a new Executive Branch-centric interpretation of "Congress shall make no law....abridging the freedom of speech...." by overturning New York Times Co. v. Sullivan  and similar decisions like New York Times Co. v. United States (the case regarding the publication by newspapers of  the Pentagon Papers) where the conservative Chief Justice William Burger in his dissenting opinion stated
"In these cases, the imperative of a free and unfettered press comes into collision with another imperative, the effective functioning of a complex modern government and specifically the effective exercise of certain constitutional powers of the Executive. Only those who view the First Amendment as an absolute in all circumstances - a view I respect, but reject - can find such cases as these to be simple or easy....Would it have been unreasonable, since the newspaper could anticipate the Government's objections to release of secret material, to give the Government an opportunity to review the entire collection and determine whether agreement could be reached on publication? Stolen or not, if security was not in fact jeopardized, much of the material could no doubt have been declassified, since it spans a period ending in 1968. With such an approach - one that great newspapers have in the past practiced and stated editorially to be the duty of an honorable press - the newspapers and Government might well have narrowed [403 U.S. 713, 751]   the area of disagreement as to what was and was not publishable, leaving the remainder to be resolved in orderly litigation, if necessary."

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Lady Liberty Obituary


The Daily Post                                                                   Saturday, January 21, 2017


Lady Liberty Passes Away After Long Illness

Lady Liberty in her youth
Lady Liberty passed away  at 12:00 PM EST on Friday, January 20, 2017 after a long and debilitating illness complicated by Apathy and Avarice.  Lady Liberty was 240 years old and was dearly loved in her country of origin, the United States of America.  A postmortem examination revealed that she has long suffered from a genetic defect (Racism) that was poorly understood by her doctors for more than 200 years.  A "foreign substance" was also found in her body that is thought to have contributed to her demise.  In recent years, her family was quite concerned with her health but was conflicted on how to treat her illness.  Some members of her family agreed to an experimental treatment ("nativism") by a popular TV doctor,  Donald Trump, in the hope of a "miracle cure", but this proved to actually accelerate the disease.  The funeral will be held at a place and time to be determined as soon as funds can be raised.  A "Go Fund Me" account has been established to help the family bury Ms. Liberty. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools." - Martin Luther King

Today, we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

From WCVB (ABC) Boston

I marched Saturday with my chapter of the NAACP in the Albuquerque MLK March (photo by Jim Thompson of The Albuquerque Journal, 1/15/17)

A diverse crowd of about 600-700 people honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King marched down MLK Blvd. to the Civic Plaza (photo by Jim Thompson of The Albuquerque Journal)
These are challenging times for our country and for the world.  In the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. , we find an inspiration to all of us.  He faced the denigration of his life's work, criticism from his own community, FBI surveillance, violence and death in his pursuit for justice for not only Black America but also the poor, the worker, the soldier, and the immigrant.  He recognized that:  "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

His death in April, 1968 was deeply painful for me and for all of us who believed that social and economic equality is a human right.  I will always hold his life up as an example of a life with purpose.  We can keep Martin's dream alive if we act everyday in strong and reaffirming ways to combat injustice, hatred, and ignorance.  We need to do this now,  more than ever.

From WCVB (ABC) Boston
Here is Rep. John Lewis speaking at the MLK Breakfast in Miami today.  His speech is both elegant and inspiring as he speaks about his youth growing up in "Jim Crow" Georgia and when he crossed paths with Martin Luther King that changed his life: