Where’s Mr. Smith when you need him?

Where's Mr. Smith when you need him?

We need more Jefferson Smiths today

This time of year, many people watch the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life. I am as much of a fan of that movie as anyone but my go-to Frank Capra movie has to be Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. If you haven’t seen the film, you should watch it as soon as possible, it is about a naive youth leader who is appointed to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat. Jefferson Smith is selected because his naivete would make him easy to manipulate.

Things don’t go as planned for the corrupt politicians who want Smith to just go along with whatever they say and he takes to the Senate floor to object.

And this country is bigger than the Taylors, or you, or me, or anything else. Great principles don’t get lost once they come to light; they’re right here! You just have to see them again.

Jefferson Smith

We need people like that in government. People who still believe that politics is the “art of the possible.” We need fewer people who think the only goal that matters is staying in office, getting more money and power, and think party politics are more important than doing the people’s business.

When I was a little kid, my goal was to bridge the gap that exists between people and the government. Yes, I was a strange child. While I felt that way years before I ever heard of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, that was my goal. I started volunteering on campaigns on Long Island when I was about eight years old. I went door to door, passing out literature for local Democrats. In a two to one (or three to one) Republican area, this took some gumption. In fact, one thing that has never wavered for me is my commitment to progressive causes and candidates.

It would be easy to be depressed about the state of things in our government and in politics. On the anniversary of the attempted coup, it is important to point out that storming the capitol and beating up the police there is not the way to change things. I have no idea what to do to get us all reading from the same book, but have we ever really all agreed on anything?

Half of the nation thought owning people was a good idea for centuries. In 2020, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) called slavery a “necessary evil.” That just shows how two people can look at the same thing and think very different things.

It is lazy to think that the only way to change things and make them better is through violence. The hard work is less exciting. We all need to pay attention to the government and to act when we need to. By act, I mean, protest, write letters, write letters to the editor, write op-eds, plan events that raise awareness. The most important thing we can all do is vote.

And white privilege isn’t a thing?

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Hell-Texas) got himself into trouble this week when he called the rioters from 1/6/2021 “terrorists.” Tucker Carlson was having none of that and Cruz had to go on his show and defend his comments? Huh?

Add the fact that Senator Ron Johnson (R-Stupidville-WI) had some interesting things to say about the day.

“I knew those are people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn’t concerned. Now, had the tables been turned — now, Joe, this will get me in trouble — had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.” 

Senator Ron Johnson on The Joe Pags Show

What kills me about this is when people of color protest by taking a knee or taking to the streets, I often hear people — most often on the right — say things like, “They aren’t doing this the right way.” I have friends who say things like that. During the height of the #BlackLivesMatter protests in 2020, a friend posted (she was responding to a post that made it look like Antifa protesters perpetrated acts of vandalism), “We’ll treat you like humans when you act like humans.” Who gets to decide what is and is not “human behavior?”

When the protesters surrounded the White House, then-President Trump wanted to use the military to break up the crowds. He did use it to move people out of Lafayette Park (across from the White House so he could do a photo op in front of a church. Contrast that with what happened on 1/6/2021 and if you aren’t seeing the hypocrisy and racism, you aren’t paying attention.

The take-home message, as it always seems to be, if you are white, you can get away with just about anything.

Want to carry a weapon across state lines when you are a minor? If you are white (Kyle Rittenhouse), feel free! Want to carry a gun without a state permit and then drive with an air freshener hanging from your mirror (Daunte Wright)? We will kill you!

It’s a good thing that white privilege is not real.

We live in a scary world. I wrote this a few years ago about the things I think we should be scared of this.

Walking in a winter wonderland…

it's winter in Stony Brook

Our first snow of the winter!

I used to love snow. It was pretty and fun to play in and sometimes, I got the day off from school! Now I am not such a fan. Back then, I didn’t have to deal with the roads or shoveling or, well, shoveling is the worst part.

One winter, when I was a little kid, the house next to my grandmother’s (where I live now) was used as a mental hospital of sorts. A psychiatrist had her patients in the mansion next to my house. One of the patients got a knife and stabbed another. The injured man ran to our house and rang the bell. I am not sure what happened then. What I do know is that I was not allowed outside and when we left the house I had to go out the back and walk to Bennett Lane to leave because it had snowed and the snow in front of the house was bloody from the stabbing next door.

I didn’t know about any of this then. Judy, my grandmother told me about it all much, much later.

The Internet’s a crazy place…

I was looking for info on the house next to mine when I found this. My mom was in the Peace Corps back in the early 1960s. I had never seen this before today. Crazy!

Got plans for tonight?

If you are on Long Island and ready to have some fun, you won’t want to miss this show.

Tonight, January 8 at 9:00 pm (doors open at 8:00), Round Two Pub in Ronkonkoma!

Where were you on January 6, 2021?

January 6

January 6th was a terrible day, did we learn anything?

Unlike, September 11, 2001, January 6, 2021 is a Rorschach test of sorts. People who believe the majority of the media and government accounts of the 2020 election results, see a violent would be coup. People who don’t see that day in a different light. Former President Donald Trump has had several opinions about that day and the people involved. They were patriots who care about the nation. They were “deadbeats” and a few bad apples. They were really Antifa. The best he has said was that this was a “false flag.”

As you probably know, I am on the side of the people who think it was an attempted coup. I keep hearing people say it wasn’t really a coup attempt because the people were not very organized and it failed to change anything. If an incompetent person tries to murder someone and fails, it is still a crime. It’s called “attempted murder” and people go to prison for committing it.

This country has the ability to look into these kinds of events and crimes. After 9/11, Congress held hearings to look into what happened and no one called those hearings partisan. The initial hearings into what happened in Benghazi made sense but the GOP went too far.

As someone who has lived (for a long time) and worked on Capitol Hill, it was hard for me to watch the mob storm the building. If we cannot really investigate what happened and how to prevent it in the future, we will lose our republic.

Why has the NRA not embraced Daunte Wright?

When Kyle Rittenhouse, 17 at the time, went from one state to another with his AR-15, he was breaking the law. People on the right embraced him immediately after he shot three people. When Daunte Wright, pulled over for having an expired registration and a air freshener hanging from his mirror and then nearly arrested for a warrant for not having a state license for his gun, was killed, they were no where to be found. Why?

The NRA is always complaining about regulations on gun ownership, where were they complaining that Wright’s Second Amendment rights were under attack? This is just more proof that you can get away with a lot if you are a white, straight man in the United States.

Do you have resolutions for 2022? You can read about mine here.

New Year’s Resolutions?

Resolutions to read

Anyone have resolutions for 2022?

As usual, I have some. As usual, the first two are to get more exercise and to eat healthier. In 2021, I changed my diet to a mostly plant-based diet and bought a bike. For a while, I was walking every day (usually down to Stony Brook Village) but that tapered off. To keep me more accountable with my resolutions I am posting some here:

  • Eat better
  • Get more exercise
  • Start a podcast (by the end of February)
  • Put up a TikTok video every day
  • Put together a packet for the late night shows
  • Write every day
  • Perform every day

Looking for something to read? How about this awesome book?

My friend, Nicole Willson published a novel in 2021. I bought it to support her but I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed it. (The cat enjoyed chewing on the cover) Tidepool renewed my interest in horror fiction. I used to love reading horror but moved away from the genre as my life calmed down. Nicole is a great writer. One of my favorite pieces by her is The World Spinner. If you have “read more” on your list of resolutions for 2022, I cannot recommend this writer enough. Once I started Tidepool, I could not put it down. That is a the telltale sign of a good story and good writing. Check. It. Out. You’ll thank me later.

I am still working to end #genocide, will you help?

We made real progress in 2021. Here are a few things we accomplished:

  • Progress for Myanmar: Kirin Beer and Harry Winston stopped helping the Burmese military. Facebook shut down some of their accounts and Chevron cut some of their payments (more needs to be done on both fronts). The Burma Act of 2021 was introduced (it still needs to pass and be signed into law).
  • The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act became law.
  • Several cities passed anti-genocide resolutions. Educating people about #genocide and other mass atrocities is crucial in this fight. No Business with Genocide is working with other localities on passage of more of the same.

You can read more about my work in this area and how you can help here.

Hello, 2022!

2022

How did you say goodbye to 2021 and hello to 2022?

Say hello to 2022! Were you up watching Andy Cohen get hammered and tell off Bill deBlasio? Maybe you watched Myley Cyrus experience a “wardrobe malfunction.” I did neither. I ordered a pizza (peppers, onions & mushrooms) and did a Zoom show. Then I went to sleep. Well, I went to bed and watched The Truman Show until I fell asleep. No ball dropping for me!

Also, my neighborhood was very quiet. I think I heard some fireworks this morning but nothing on New Year’s!

The new version of Windows has turned me into my mother

She has been upset with the updates to Windows and other applications she uses. I don’t normally have an issue with them. Things change all of the time. Why get upset? Well, I am not thrilled with the updates to Windows. I gave in to the pressure to update a few days ago and am not all that happy with the results.

Anyone else feel that way? I sure hope that is not some indicator of how 2022 is going to pan out. If it is, we all need to hold on because it’s gonna be a bumpy ride. I can kind of understand how frustrated my mother gets.

Movies I was told were great but left me wondering what all the fuss was about

Someone I know told me that Eyes Wide Shut was Stanley Kubrick’s best film. He also said it was the “most dense and most cryptic.” I watched it last night. What am I missing? I know I am so late to the party that it ended but this will be on my mind until I write about it to here goes.

  • First of all, the timing was all wrong. Tom Cruise’s (Bill) character finds out about the death of the woman who rescued him from the orgy by reading about it in the newspaper. The woman was sent to the hospital that morning. That is not enough time to get it into the paper he is reading. I think if the movie took place over a longer time period a lot more would make sense. It’s only 48 hours.
  • Then, they leave a lot on the table. Bill goes to the orgy party after Nicole Kidman’s Alice tells him she saw a Naval officer when they were on vacation and was so enamored by him that she wanted to give up her whole life. Bill becomes obsessed with cheating on her and goes to the orgy party but … who are these masked orgy people? We get the sense they are the rich and powerful elite (Jeffrey Epstein anyone?) but we never really learn who they are. If you introduce a gun in act one of a play, you need to use that gun in act 2. That never happened here and I was left feeling it was a lot of mental masturbation without the climax.
  • Everyone in this movie wants to have sex all the time. Bill is nearly seduced by two people at the party the coupe goes to at the start of the movie. Alice is nearly seduced by a mysterious man at the same soiree. When Bill goes looking for the friend that got him into the orgy, the hotel guy practically falls over himself wanted to sleep with Bill. I get it. The core of the movie is the sex cult but do we need to be hit over the head with it? Kubrick thinks so. I do not.
  • The teasers for this movie all feature the Chris Isaak song, “Baby did a bad, bad thing” but what bad thing did these people do? Alice looks at a hot guy and has a dream of being unfaithful (which makes her feel super guilty and she tells Bill all about it). Bill goes to an orgy party and thinks about being unfaithul (at the party and with a prostitute) but he doesn’t actually cheat. He also confesses to Alice what happened. What bad thing did they do? Be human?

This movie took forever to make and runs a very long time and yet it was totally empty. Someone, tell me what I am missing because I just don’t get it. Best Kubrick film? Hardly. Though I thought 2001 was boring, it was better. And then you have to compare this to The Shining and A Clockwork Orange and I don’t know how anyone thinks this was better.

Maybe you can explain it to me. Leave me a message in the comments if you want.

I know that movie came out in 1999 (a great year for movies) but I am often slow to watch certain things. Next week, I will review movies from 2000. In 2041, I will review movies from 2022.