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The Folly of Expanding the Franchise 

Before our Constitution was amended, voting rights were basically left to the states and usually defaulted to property owners. Since then, amendments and federal legislation has expanded the right to vote to blacks, women and people between the ages of 18 and 21 with property ownership not a requirement.

After watching a focus group of Donald Trump supporters I’m beginning to think the notion of voting being an exclusive privilege rather than a right is the proper way to go. Bloomberg’s John Heilemann interviewed a focus group of Trump supporters. A few things became clear:

  1. Most had no idea of Trump’s prior, less conservative views on such things as healthcare and abortion rights.
  2. One said Trump was like one of us except for the rich part. That’s like saying a porcupine is like a kitty cat except for the needles.
  3. They liked that he was blunt and “honest” which gave him a pass for characterizing illegal immigrants as killers and rapists (and he “assumes” some good folks too).

In short, the group sounded like a bunch of thirteen year olds. That was their level of sophistication in choosing the next leader of the free world. Mind you, I don’t argue with some of their assessment. I like Trump’s in your face style. I like that he holds over all the other candidates their history of begging HIM for money and endorsement. But does that really qualify him for the biggest job in America?

Now before conservatives get their dander up, I admit this next-to-baseless infatuation is not unprecedented. In 2008, many Americans, including me, became enthralled with a man with near zero meaningful government experience. He had no executive experience. He was articulate, handsome, youthful and most of all black. Besides that, basically a blank slate. And millions, including me, fell in love and put him in the White House. How much CRITICAL thinking went into the decision? And I don’t mean stupid critiques like he was a closet Muslim. I mean serious consideration of his proposed solutions to our problems.

During this go-round I’m on slightly firmer ground but only slightly. I have rejected Hillary Clinton, a political operative and proven liar. But “my guy” has his own major weakness. While Bernie Sanders has a long legislative record and a consistent outlook, as a candidate he’s proven great at defining the problem but not as great at defining the solution. Forget foreign policy. It’s not his thing. I love his straight talk and I share his view of what ails us but how does that make me much different from the members of the Trump focus group?

Now I certainly don’t want to give up my right to vote. But do I work hard enough to make the right decision? Do you? Hasn’t our presidential selection process devolved into American Idol? I don’t know what the proper “test” is for voter eligibility but I have to admit that under the current come one-come all system, our country is probably not in the best of hands.

What do you think? The bar is open.

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Bernie’s Black Barrier

At a Netroots gathering over the weekend Bernie Sanders was heckled by members of the Black Lives Matter campaign. On Monday’s edition of MSNBC’s “Ed Show”, Ed Schultz rightly pointed out Sanders’ strong support of civil rights, including protest marches in the 1960’s. He then asked expert black Michael Eric Dyson wassup with that?

Dyson’s reply was to ask Bernie the query made famous by Janet Jackson, “what have you done for me lately?”

I could have seen this coming a couple of weeks ago when Bernie eagerly accepted an invitation to Joe Madison’s Sirius/XM radio show “The Black Eagle”. Joe’s predominantly black call-in audience could not grasp Bernie’s economic plans. They wanted easy answers to address “the black man’s problem”. Then Bernie really blew it when he stumbled over Madison’s basically asinine question of whether President Sanders would apologize to blacks for slavery.

Bernie’s “black problem” is not his. The problem lies with blacks who don’t understand when white folks can’t find jobs, black folks sure as hell won’t find them. An economic prescription to save the middle class and ease entry into it, helps blacks and whites alike.

Hillary will most likely get the black vote. Why should she? What has she done for “the black community” that Sanders hasn’t? Moreover why should anyone do anything for the black community when helping the human community will automatically help blacks if they do their part. The reaction to Sanders, quite frankly, has me fed up with the Black Lives Matter movement.

BLACK LIVES DO NOT MATTER TO BLACK PEOPLE

Need proof? Look at the black on black crime rate in Baltimore and Chicago, just to name two cities. Our problem is we want black lives to matter TO WHITE PEOPLE. First, why should they when we don’t keep our own houses in order? Second, who cares what white people think of us? Will we accept second best until they “love us”?

Just because we got a seat at the lunch counter doesn’t mean we don’t have to pay for the lunch.

A prescription that reduces rich privilege (not white privilege) and guarantees a living wage and healthcare to all who do their part (and makes the criminal justice system even-handed) is what we need right now. There is no problem unique to black folks that Sanders’ plans will not at least partially alleviate.

If all blacks are looking for is a candidate who will apologize for slavery, and promise relief without responsibility, then Bernie is not your man. That’s your fault, not his. If you vote for another establishment candidate, you will wake up again four years from now asking, “what have you done for me lately?”

What do you think? The bar is open.

A Huck Flix Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

What follows is a “relatively spoiler free” film review by long time friend and bar patron, Huck. Enjoy and tell us what you think, the bar is open.

I watched Mad Max: Fury Road a couple nights ago, and I am going to go ahead and say right up front—I  liked it. The story is set in the post-apocalyptic world of the Road Warrior, which fans of the franchise are long familiar with. In this story, however, gasoline is not the resource of contention—humans are. Max, now played by Tom Hardy, is captured by Immortan Joe’s War Boys and used as a “blood bank” so that one of them can maintain his “half-life”. At the same time, Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, enacts a ruse to liberate Immortan Joe’s multiple breeders from their life of bondage. Joe and his War Boys, with Blood Banks in tow, give chase, and the hunt is on.

I have long liked, both, Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. While I admit, Hardy has, in the past, had a tendency to somewhat overact on occasion, I think he is improving with time as he continues to develop his skill as an actor. Even at his worst, I have enjoyed his several films, and find myself continually going back and watching his past work that I haven’t yet seen. Theron, on the other hand, has proven time and again that she is a top-quality actress who can deliver the goods in whatever type of role she takes on, be it drama or action.

There has been a good bit of fan confusion as to whether Fury Road was a remake, a sequel, or a prequel. Writer/Director/Producer George Miller, however, claims the story is meant to take place very shortly after Beyond Thunderdome. “It’s not precise chronology, because I never intended for there to be, but after the last one. AfterThunderdome.” As Miller explains, this was the main reason Mel Gibson was not recast in the role that made him a star. “…this is not a ‘Mad Max’ in which he’s an old warrior. He’s meant to be that same contemporary warrior. I guess in the same way that James Bond had been played by various people, it was time to hand over the mantle.”

While Miller’s admission does clarify the timeline, the imprecise chronology is exposed in a variety of inconsistencies that are contrary his stated intent. For example, Furiosa and Max are quite visibly the same approximate age. Yet, near the end of the film, we learn that she was born after the apocalypse, while prior films clearly establish Max’s existence before it all took place.
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Another chronological flaw in the latest film is the re-emergence of Max’s famous Interceptor. The car featured heavily in the original Mad Max, and made an appearance at the beginning of its sequel. However, mid-way through The Road Warrior, the Interceptor met a fiery demise, and was not restored in Beyond Thunderdome. Yet, miraculously, the opening scene of Fury Road shows Max and the Interceptor, and the car makes other brief, yet noticeable appearances later in the film.
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Timeline inconsistencies like these may turn off the die-hard Mad Max traditionalists, but for those who just want to see another chapter in the Road Warrior saga, they shouldn’t be deal breakers. Some of them may not have even been noticed, and you can thank or curse me later for pointing them out.

Perhaps some of the loudest noise—and that is exactly what it is—regarding Mad Max: Fury Road came from feminists and those opposed to them. Many feminists, including Vagina Monologues author, Eve Ensler, saw the movie, with its powerful female lead and plotlines that involve combating female exploitation, as a leap forward in the action film genre. On the flip side, there was at least one call by “men’s rights activists” to boycott the film because of its “feminist propaganda”. Personally, I find both assertions to be off the mark. The Mad Max world has never shied away from portraying women as strong and capable, whether it was Virginia Hey as The Road Warrior’s Warrior Woman or Tina Turner as the ruler of Barter Town in Beyond Thunderdome. Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa simply adds to what has already been long established—in the dystopian world of the Road Warrior, anyone, man or woman, can be a victim or a victor.
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Ultimately, anyone looking for things to complain about in Mad Max: Fury Road will be presented with plenty of reason to do so. Frankly, that fact speaks more about our world of perpetual outrage than it does about the film. But if you are simply looking for 2 hours full of extreme action, outrageous vehicles, and death defying stunts, Mad Max: Fury Road delivers.

Run Time: 120 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
DVD/Blue Ray Release Date: Sept. 2015 (estimate)
Mad Max: Fury Road on IMDB