Friday, March 31, 2017

Has Trump Conspired Against Blogs?


The so-called POTUS has been accused today of conspiring against such world-leading blogs as Global Wahrman by providing so much material that the poor non-professional blog writer can not keep up.

“Its just no damn fair” said blog artiste Michael Wahrman. “The son-of-a-bitch just keeps throwing outrage after outrage at the American people, all the while exposing the gross hypocrisy of the Republican Party that I can't keep up. I barely start writing one essay and some new disaster occurs!”

Things have gotten so bad that Mr. Wahrman has even threatened to get a Twitter account.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Sicario, Films about the Intelligence Community, Sergio Leone


Spoilers for the movie Sicario (2015) follows.

Most, but not all, of the movies which purport to be about the intelligence community (IC) of this or other countries are clearly fantasies with little basis in reality.  But there are some exceptions which show that the filmmakers cared enough to incorporate elements of the reality of this arcane and overly glamourized world into their creative work.  This is not to say that the more fantastic and unrealistic of these films, say for example the Bond or Bourne films, are not entertaining, they may be more entertaining in fact. But they are not based at all on the realities.

If we were to have an "Intelligence Film Festival" I would nominate Sicario (2015) by Denis Villeneuve to be on the list.  It seems as though the writer and director did know something about this world and used their knowledge to inform the script, at least some of the time.  I am not saying the film is totally realistic but it does have some excellent things going for it.

So what criteria might we use to denote a film that is more realistic than the pure entertainment product in this genre?

1. The different agencies of the US Government have different corporate cultures. We do not know much about the Josh Brolin character, but we do know that he is not FBI by his choice of clothes. It is the first thing that the Emily Blunt character notices about him.

2. When Kate is selected, we discover that the Brolin character does not want someone who is from FBI Narcotics, nor who is a lawyer, nor who has worked cases. We are told that Kate is selected for her "tactical skills" but this is revealed later to be not true. See next point where the real reason becomes clear.

3. The Brolin character never actually admits to being CIA, presumably because if you are covert in the CIA (and only a small number of CIA people are), it is not something you readily admit. But we are left near the end believing that he is CIA because he admits that the real reason he wants Kate around is that the CIA (and presumably Delta Force) are not permitted to operate in the continental United States unless there is someone from a domestic agency attached.

4. Ultimately Kate (and the audience) are told that the reason that the team led by Brolin is doing what it is doing is because they have been authorized by much higher authority. By elected representatives in fact, which presumably means either the POTUS or various parties in Congress or both. This is a key point for those of you who have been fed a diet of intelligence movie conspiracy theories. Generally speaking, the intelligence community is not breaking our law (even if they break some other country's law all the time) and they are acting under orders from a legitimate authority. Generally people blame the CIA when they should be blaming their elected representatives, and/or the National Security Council, and/or the POTUS. Generally speaking.

5. At one point Kate pretty much loses her mind and attacks both Alejandro and Matt but we are never really told why.  My speculation is because these two are killing a lot of foreign nationals without due process and this would be anathema to a law enforcement official.  

6. Why all the mystery about Alejandro? Because Alejandro works for the "competition", e.g. the Columbian drug cartel.  Yes the CIA is well-known for dining with sinners.

Now onto some stylistic issues involving the Benicio del Toro character and this film.  I wondered just why I found this character so appealing when, after all, without going into any detail here, he does some mighty nasty things. In thinking about this, it occurred to me that he fit a model that was not entirely expected and which may not have been intentional on the part of the filmmakers.

These characteristics include having a mysterious and tragic past, of being very good in a gunfight, of speaking very seldom and then cryptically.  He is very secretive about his motivations and his intents. He manages to convince us that while he is cruel, that he may have some worthwhile reasons for his cruelty. Although I am not an expert in such things, he seems very handsome. And of course this all takes place on the border between the US and Mexico and arguably during a time of war.

And while he is successful in some sense of the word, when the film is over he is walking away alone.

Of course the way I have described this, the answer is obvious.  He resembles, at least superficially, the Clint Eastwood character in Sergio Leone films.  Even if this analogy works for you, and it may not, as I have said before, it is not clear that this was the filmmaker's intent.

“Listen. Nothing will make sense to your American ears. And you will doubt everything that we do. But in the end, you will understand.”

Sicario (2015) on IMDB

Military Rules of Engagement on Wikipedia

Friday, March 17, 2017

Feminism and the Wonder Woman Armpit Issue


A great moment in cinematic history and criticism is taking place. This moment demonstrates the stupidity and the shallowness of the American civilization in all its glory.

In the middle of our little consitutional crisis, when the lives of millions, possibly hundreds of millions, of people in the world is at stake, with the end of the American republic all but certain, the failure of our elected representatives and governmental insitutions there for all to see, what do these shallow children worry about? What is at the very top of their list of things to complain about? What could motivate them to outrage?

Is it the destruction of the National Endowment for the Arts? No. Is it that the head of the Environmental Protection Agency has disavowed science? No. Is it the defunding of Planned Parenthood that is likely to result in the death of or the destruction of the life of thousands of poor women? No.

What then?

It is the burning question about whether or not Wonder Woman shaves her armpits in the third trailer for the Wonder Woman movie coming out in a few months. Were her armpits shaved in Photoshop, they wonder.

Perhaps the right is correct and we are raising a generation of stupid and shallow snowflakes after all. No one who lived through the 70s Feminist movement could help but shudder at this throwback to an earlier period of American radicalism.

I only hope that Wonder Woman's girdle squeezes these children until their heads pop with shame.

You may see this trailer here.

For a previous discussion of the Feminist issue of shaving, please see here.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Behold.... This is Trump's America


From someone named Egriff commenting on an article in the Guardian about a discovery in Egypt.

I met a traveller from a Western land,
Who said—“A vast and broken wall of stone
Stands in the desert. . . . Near it, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
Behold – this is Trump’s America;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Trump being hauled out of the desert

You can find the article in The Guardian at the link below and Egriff in the comments.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Trump Dives Off Deep End with Obama Wiretap Accusations


[Updated 3/4/2017 Nothing is really understood about this matter at this point in time.  But I can correct one mistake in the following post.  It would be legal for Trump to talk about a classified investigation because the POTUS has the power to declassify such an investigation at any time. Therefore, in and of itself, these tweets are unlikely to be an impeachable offense for that reason.]

Trump has accused Obama of being a Richard Nixon and tapping his office. See the article at the Guardian here.

I think I know what this might be about, but it comes down to Trump either being a nut case or that he does not understand national security issues at all, or that he does not understand the difference between the Watergate Plumbers and the FBI acting with a warrant. You pick. Either of the three though means that he should be impeached and I am tired of waiting.

I suspect, and here I am speculating again, that when the FBI/CIA came to realize that Russia was working to destroy free elections in America through disinformation and fake news, and when the issue of contacts between Trump and Russia became a matter of national security, that it would be logical to listen in. After all, the Russians certainly were listening to everything Trump said on his cell phone or any other phone, you can be quite sure. So my guess is that the FBI got a warrant to listen in and see what they picked up. Does Trump not know the difference between the Nixon Plumbers and a national security investigation with a warrant? Probably not, he isnt too smart, he has no aptitude for these things, and he has no experience. He may also be a clinical narcissist and sociopath, at least that is what the available evidence suggests.

This also suggests that he has just leaked/disclosed information about an ongoing investigation which is, I think, a felony.

As posted on Facebook.