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Campaign Malpractice: Devine and Weaver

As a chronically underemployed individual, I’m always fuming at folks who make healthy salaries doing what, quite frankly, I could do better. The latest pair of gents to get my dander up are Jeff Weaver and Tad Devine, campaign manager and senior advisor respectively of the Bernie Sanders campaign. In trying to mount a “positive” campaign they have conceded the race to Hillary Clinton. There are three clear examples of malpractice. 

The Damn Emails

Bernie famously declared in an early debate that America  was tired of hearing about Hillary’s rogue email server. This was in the name of positive, issues-oriented campaigning. I disagreed with pundits that this was a mistake but I was wrong. Sanders could have said “the Secretary  herself has said this was a mistake in judgment. I’m not the FBI. I’ll let the FBI do their job and I’ll do mine.” This would have left Clinton exposed while taking a perfect passive-aggressive approach. In subsequent interviews, Sanders went in this direction but it was too late. 

When Was a Clinton Vote Ever Influenced by Monied Interests?

Sanders blew this question in debate after debate when the answer should have been well known to him. Then when it was way too late in the game, Jeff Weaver and surrogate, Senator Jeff Merkley finally said “bankruptcy bill” but could not articulate the answer convincingly under the partisan cross examination of Chris Matthews. Why did the Sanders campaign not use this video as an ad and example?

The Transcripts Matter

Jeff Weaver has tried to be the tough guy, referring to Hillary’s deals with the devil. Again, when cross examined by the likes of Chris Matthews, Weaver withers. This is not difficult. Transcripts of Hillary’s paid speeches to Goldmam Sachs et al will show her being sympathetic to the folks who brought the country to its knees in 2007. This is the central theme of the Sanders campaign. Why is it so hard for Sanders’ campaign staff to get this right?

The 2015/2016 Democratic primary will go down in history as the nomination where the populist candidate with the best chance of beating an establishment typical pol was undone by his own advisors. 

In the meantime, I sit here blogging for free. Damn! 

What do you think? The bar is open. 

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Trump’s Improv Act Reveals American Hypocrisy

Many families have those topics you just don’t discuss. Uncle Albert’s death was not an accident; it was a suicide. Cousin Timmy went to jail on kiddie porn possession. Little Suzy is illegitimate and doesn’t know her father isn’t her biological father – but lots of folks in the family do know. Donald Trump is the guy at the family gathering who blurts all this stuff out. It’s all fact but you just don’t say these things. 

Donald Trump is a real estate developer and branding genius who has not given a bit of thought to nukes or abortion. His campaign is an improv act. He says whatever is top of mind regardless of how controversial the topic. But he’s not a lunatic. He says things that are there in the minds of people, in some cases almost tautological. He gets destroyed for it. 

So first abortion. Let us drop the pretense and admit that a sizeable number of pro-life advocates view pregnancy as the responsibility of the pregnant woman and they condemn her choice of abortion. After Trump’s comment that women who abort illegally should be “punished”, some pro-life advocates cried crocodile tears, expressing sympathy and compassion. The meme was “women considering abortion need our sympathy”. This dodges the question of what to do about women who abort. The truth is I’ve seen a good deal of judgmental condemnation of such women. Many of the pro-life folks up in arms about Trump are simply hypocrites. 

How many times have we heard politicians, including our President, say they will take “nothing off the table” militarily? Well, news flash folks, nukes are part of our arsenal. But we never talk about that. Such talk is dangerous. Of course just having the nukes in the first place is dangerous but somehow the danger lies in talking about using them. Trump’s comment that he would take nothing off the table, including nukes borders on tautology when nukes are clearly already on the table. In fact, we have them as a cautionary message to anyone who might think to nuke us first. And cautionary messages are clearly in Trump’s wheelhouse. 

Trump’s campaign is littered with comments many people want to say but think too rude to utter. Trump is not the first to think “McCain was a lousy pilot who shouldn’t have gotten shot down in the first place”, “Mexicans are bringing in drugs, stealing our jobs and getting free bennies”, “Islam is a diseased religion”, “women who abort are murderers who should be punished” and “I say just nuke them!”

None of those observations contributes to a positive agenda for running the country but they all reflect a sentiment held by more than a few, hence Trump’s consistent primary wins. If Trump serves no other purpose in this election cycle, it will be to uncover American hypocrisy and force the American  family to discuss its family secrets out in the open. 

What do you think? The bar is open. 

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Movie Review: The Walk

Some stories are obvious.  That does not mean that they are predictable.  In fact, far from it.  A story can have twists and turns and take its audience on an unsuspecting and surprising ride.  But the audience still knows what the story is about.  The twists and turns simply fill the void between the beginning at Point A and the inevitable conclusion of Point B.

The Walk is different.

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In The Walk (2015), director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Contact) uses all of the incredible¬†imagery we have long come to expect from his many films to tell the true story of Philippe Petit’s 1974 high wire walk between the 110-story towers of the World Trade Center.

The story begins with Petit, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (3rd Rock from the Sun, Inception), speaking with an unconvincing French accent to the audience from atop the Statue of Liberty. ¬†As the narration continues, we are transported to Paris to see a younger Petit making his way as a street performer. ¬†The young Philippe sneaks into a circus and sees his first high-wire act, performed by “Papa Rudy” (Ben Kingsley: Ghandi, Schindler’s List), and shorty after begins his training. ¬†Philippe keeps a short red piece of string with him that he uses to imagine a wire filling the void between two points that he sees at any given time. ¬†The only requirement he has for Point A and Point B is that they both be “beautiful”.

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Petit eventually meets a fellow street performer named Annie, wonderfully played by the stunning Charlotte Le Bon, and the two become inseparable. ¬†All the while, he continues to get lessons and advice from “Papa Rudy” on the art of wire walking and showmanship. ¬†He eventually gets enough training and confidence to walk the void between the towers of Notre Dame. ¬†But this is not enough for Philippe. ¬†In a magazine he sees a picture of the Twin Towers under construction, and he spans his red string to connect the two beautiful points. ¬†The towers call to him, and he must answer. ¬†Knowing his feat will be both incredible and illegal, he begins to enlist “accomplices” to aid him in his “coup”.

As one might imagine if given a moment to think about it, it’s no small task to get a wire across the 140 foot span between the Twin Towers, and much of the story is devoted to the careful planning that is required to get the wire and stabilizers to the top of the towers and then across the void. ¬†At this point, the audience begins to understand that this story is more about getting ready to take the walk than it is about the walk, itself.

Once the wire is in place, Petit begins his walk. ¬†True to the historic facts, he makes several passes back and forth, most¬†of which are prompted by the urge to taunt police waiting on both ends of the wire. Eventually his walk ends, and he, along with one of his multiple accomplices is arrested. ¬†His debt to society is paid by a court-ordered wire walk in Central Park for an audience of children. ¬†A debt he happily pays. ¬†When asked by reporters “Why did you do this?”, he simply replies “There is no why. ¬†When I see a beautiful place to put my wire I cannot resist.”

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The story ends with Philippe still narrating from atop the Statue of Liberty. ¬†By now, the audience is told that he has brought life to the new towers previously¬†compared to “two giant filing cabinets” by New Yorkers, who, from that point on, took pride in being witness to his daring feat. ¬†He tells us that the architect of the towers gave him a pass to go beyond the observation deck atop the towers, with an expiration date that read “forever”. ¬†Then, as¬†the camera pans out and we see the Twin Towers in the background before the screen slowly fades to black, we realize that the story is just as much about the towers as it is about the walk–and we inevitably remember a much different story, and perhaps shed a tear for its conclusion.

The Walk was released on DVD in January, 2016 and should be easy to find for anyone who looks for it.