Fauxto Op

 Election, Featured, Politics  Comments Off on Fauxto Op
Oct 162012

Truly, it is hard to imagine anything more feckless than what the Ryan/Romney campaign pulled a day or two ago when they decided to make an unscheduled stop at an already closed soup kitchen. Paul Ryan and the family took time out from their busy campaign schedule to wash previously cleaned pots in an empty and closed soup kitchen. Of course, this little stunt did allow Paul Ryan to double his private sector work experience. It seems to be the perfect metaphor for the Romney/Ryan Campaign.

Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, said that he was not contacted by the Romney campaign ahead of the Saturday morning visit by Ryan, who stopped by the soup kitchen after a town hall at Youngstown State University.

“We’re a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations,” Antal said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “It’s strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there, and they did not have permission. They got one of the volunteers to open up the doors.”

He added: “The photo-op they did wasn’t even accurate. He did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall.”

Paul Ryan washing clean pots at empty soup kitchen

Photo Credit: WKBN Screenshot

Ryan had stopped by the soup kitchen for about 15 minutes on his way to the airport after his Saturday morning town hall in Youngstown. By the time he arrived, the food had already been served, the patrons had left, and the hall had been cleaned.

So let’s look at all that’s wrong with this situation:

1. The Campaign used a non-partisan organization which relies solely on private contributions. The soup kitchen vigorously works hard to maintain their apolitical position, and now fear losing contributions due to this.

2. The Campaign never asked for permission, and basically bullied their way in by convincing some volunteers to open back up.

3. Their kids are involved in this fake photo op, thus teaching their kids that it must be OK to fake your way through life.

4. Does it concern anyone Ryan was apparently having to explain, in detail, to his children how to wash dishes. Me thinks someone’s not having to do their share of the chores.

What a sad commentary on the disdain the Romney/Ryan campaign, and the candidates themselves, feel towards the less fortunate in our society…use the images of helping, but do it only one the “unclean” are no longer present.

Apr 262009

Movie Poster for The SoloistJournalist Steve Lopez discovers Nathaniel Anthony Ayers , a former classical music prodigy, playing his violin on the streets of L.A. As Lopez endeavors to help the homeless man find his way back, a unique friendship is formed, one that transforms both their lives.

Genres: Drama, Musical/Performing Arts, Adaptation and Biopic; Running Time: 1 hr. 57 min.; Release Date: April 24th, 2009 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, some drug use and language.

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Nelsan Ellis, Michael Bunin, Robert Downey Jr., Rachael Harris

Directed by: Joe Wright

While we’d both been anxious to see this movie, Lay was especially looking forward to it. We decided to take it in at an afternoon showing yesterday, to avoid a packed theater. We did avoid the crowds, but unfortunately at least two groups (at least was two older ladies) did manage to talk quite a bit throughout the movie (where have manners gone).

That was hardly enough to spoil a great movie though, and I was completely sucked into the story. This is a powerful, heartfelt, emotionally moving, human drama with two very talented actors who pour themselves into the story. It lives up to it’s promises, and is definitely one of the best films of the year. If you’re looking for an inspiring story, then look no further. This is Director Joe Wright’s best film. I’ve always known Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. are two great actors respectively but the mix of two is like combining two different formulas that compliment each other and create an atomic chemistry only described as something that no one else will ever manage to replicate.

Downey and Foxx play a newspaper columnist and homeless man who come together in a most unusual way. Downey is a newspaper columnist looking for something original and interesting to write about it. He finds it when he sees Foxx beautifully playing a battered two-stringed violin along 3rd street in downtown L.A. Foxx has been there for years but on this day grabs the eye of the columnist because the columnist himself is experiencing hardship and doubt related to his own position. He begins to write about this talented but troubled man who fills the thick air around him with harmony. They become friends but keep in mind this is not fiction. The friendship hits many bumps that continue to this day. Nathaniel Ayers (Foxx’s character) may be a brilliant, educated musician, but he suffers from bouts of schizophrenia that manifest at any time. Downey’s character accepts this as it adds more intrigue to his columns. Then he accepts it on a personal level. Their friendship ultimately becomes real and meaningful. You sense that Downey’s character needs the friendship even more than Foxx’s homeless man does. In the end, Downey’s Lopez can see the positive effect his work has brought to the plight of the homeless, yet he wonders personally how much better he has made Nathaniel. His reflections make us think also.

As someone who’s volunteered at a homeless shelter, I’ve seen much of this story play out. I even remember one of the clients as a young man who could sit down at the piano they had in the shelter, and play nearly any song you could name, and play it beautifully. There is no great final climax to this film, as is usually the case in life, and as with many people who find themselves in Ayers’ situation, the story is complex and difficult, and rarely resolves itself to everyone’s satisfaction. It’s important to remember that “normal” is something relative.

It’s also important to remember that these are real people, still alive today, and still friends. So the story continues to play out.

This is Jamie Foxx’s best performance since Ray, and I’d vouch for a second nomination on the horizon. Robert Downey Jr. proves that he’s versatile, that he’s more than just Tony Stark, Superhero. Wright’s directing is superb. He understands the plot and how the actors should respond to whatever conflict that may surface. The locations chosen or how a scene would play out, his vision of it all is borderline perfect. The portrayal of the skid row and how the camera moves from one homeless guy to another and take us on this view of the forgotten little kingdom is quite humbling. Those of us who’ve seen the real LA would not find this to be an exaggeration.

It is an extremely well told story, and worth every minute you spend in the theater.

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The Great Moral Delusion That Has Become Us

 Congress, Culture, Politics, Presidency, Religion, Society  Comments Off on The Great Moral Delusion That Has Become Us
Oct 162006

Accomplishing a logic-defying feat, the wealthiest nation in the world has “attained” the highest rate of homelessness amongst developed countries. 3.5 million human beings experience homelessness each year in the United States. Almost a million are homeless every night (1).

In the most heavily militarized nation in the history of the human race, 30% of its homeless men are military veterans (2). What happened to “support the troops”? Obviously once military personnel return home, the slogan changes to “good riddance to bad rubbish”.

Ready for some “shock and awe” on the home front? According to the National Mental Health Association, “on any given night, 1.2 million children are homeless” in the United States.

And what is one to make of a self-proclaimed Christian nation (overflowing with material resources) that allows such travesties of economic justice to persist?

How can a Christian nation ignore the compassionate teachings of Jesus?

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'”

Yes, it is morally and ethically abhorrent that there are indigent, starving, and homeless human beings in a society of people awash in a sea of wealth.

Yet it gets even uglier…

Moral superiority has been a critical piece of the argument the United States has used to justify the genocide of the Native Americans, the enslavement of Black Americans, the support of numerous murderous dictators supporting US interests in developing nations, unwavering support for the Palestinian genocide, and the slaughter of millions of civilians in imperial wars waged under the pretext of fighting for freedom and human rights. People in the United States are psychologically conditioned to believe that their nation is the salvation of humanity and to ignore or destroy evidence to the contrary.

Nearly endless streams of propaganda extolling the virtues of the United States enable large numbers of US Americans to support a ruthless empire because they believe it to be a benevolent superpower. Aside from people suffering a serious deficit of conscience, those living in a nearly perpetual state of denial are virtually the only ones capable of pledging their loyalty to a nation with a deadly foreign policy and a morally bankrupt economic system.

How else would one explain the corporate media and the Empire’s loyal adherents celebrating Congress’ passage of the Military Commissions Act as a “victory”? Even after viewing numerous explicit photos of the blatant torture committed by the United States military at Abu Ghraib, a frightening number of US citizens remain unperturbed by the fact that a man who would be fortunate to flirt with a score of 100 on an IQ test now has the power to define and authorize torture, to imprison virtually anyone as a “terrorist”, and to negate Habeas Corpus.

Remember when the Magna Carta was the basis for our legal tradition? How absurd that people actually believed that this excerpt from that other “goddamn piece of paper” was a cornerstone of a just society:

No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, . . . or in any other way destroyed . . . except by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to none will we deny or delay, right or justice.

Many in the United States have welcomed shredding both the Magna Carta and the Constitution by entrusting a feeble-minded tyrant with nearly absolute power. In their delusion, Bush will protect the United States from the “evil terrorists” by continuing to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings who had nothing to do with 9/11. Denial is indeed a potent force. It enables supporters of the Bush Regime to continue believing that they live in a benevolent meritocracy that actively pursues peace, freedom, and justice for the entire human race. And it prevents them from even considering that they might become The Decider’s next victim.  Continue reading »

I'm Not Sure I Was Meant To Be Here

 Culture, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on I'm Not Sure I Was Meant To Be Here
Mar 062006

If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin. ~Charles Darwin

I’ve been pondering this post for sometime. I do not want this post to be seen as self-serving, but to point out how poorly we are doing as a society at caring for the least of these.

Some weeks ago it was getting pretty cool here at night. I have lived in the mountains of North Carolina and in Ohio. I know how cold it can get, and I realize the 38 degree lows we were experiencing here at not as cold as some places, but if you’re not used to it, and don’t have a warm place and warm clothes, it would be cold enough to be quite uncomfortable.

I was leaving the grocery store nearest the house. Sitting on a bench just inside the door were a man and a woman. I don’t know if they were married, lovers…I don’t know. They were in their late 40s or early 50s I would guess. I tuned in to part of their conversation when I realized the woman seemed to be close to tears.

They apparently had enough money to either get something to eat, or rent a cheap motel room for the night. The lady was imploring her companion to get the room because she knew it was going to be cold that night. He was bravely trying to figure out a way to get the room and still get “something” to eat.

Continue reading »