January 20, 2003

CELEBRITY

I have to confess that since I posted this essay I have been daily wrestling with the certainty that it is far too long, and worse, it wobbled quite a bit, like a loose sight on a rifle.

I realize now just how much I rushed to get this posted after my long absence. And while I try to use my limited time to keep moving forward, there was a lot of fat in this essay -- so I cut it. I cut 20% of it. You'll never miss it. I could probably wring an additional 20% out of it, but that would require more thought and time than I have to spend on it at the moment.

I am indebted to the many fine bloggers who linked to this "long, but ---" essay, and especially to reader Louis Wheeler, who gracefully and directly called me on what I knew to be true.

I find I usually have a lot to say about a subject, and I will continue to give an issue my full attention, but you have my promise that in the future you will not need to pack a lunch or take the day off in order to hear what I have to say...






When I first arrived in Los Angeles in 1988, I took a job with a temp agency for the two or three days it would take to make the studios aware of my presence and for the multi-picture deals to start flowing in. I was, after all, a Student Academy Award finalist ' how long could it take?

(Fifteen years and counting, apparently.)

They sent me to a rent-a-car agency in Beverly Hills, and within 48 hours of my arrival in LA, I was driving down Beverly Blvd., which we all know as the palm-lined street that Jed and Granny and Jethro and Ellie-May were gawking at on the way to the See-ment Pond. It was 73 degrees, 30% humidity, and I was in a brand-new convertible with the top down and life was looking good.

I knocked on the door of my very first client, and as he came out, I noticed a tour bus slowing down and stopping not far from the car. A tall, white haired man appeared at the window of the house across the street, pulled back the curtain, and waved jauntily. 'That's Jimmy Stewart,' said my passenger, no doubt impressed by the slack-jawed yokel look on the face of the Very Talented Unknown Boy Wonder. 'He used to come out sometimes and say hi, but he's slowing down a lot these days.'

Anyway, there he was, and there I was too ' watching Mr. Smith and George Bailey and Charles Lindbergh waving at the delighted tourists. I got in the car with a big ol' grin and thought to myself, Boy, you are in Hollywood now.

I'm still there. Things are a little different.

A few years ago, I heard from a friend about a different sort of celebrity sighting that they had experienced first-hand. A certain white-hot pop diva ' the Latin one ' had made an appearance on a morning show at a news station where a friend of mine worked. A memo went out to the staff of the station ' these being the seasoned, cynical professionals that make the star machine go round. The memo stated in no uncertain terms that said Latin diva had demanded that not only was no one allowed to speak to her'no one was allowed to look at her either. Presumably, should one be caught in the hallway during her transit, one could either cast out their own eyes with their car keys or ball-point pens, or drop to a knee, quivering, perhaps hoping that a glimpse of hemline from one who Used To Have A Little But Now Has A Lot would cure their children's leprosy and cause humpbacks to stand erect.

But that was the word in the studio: you will not speak to or look directly at The Pop Star ' she apparently does not enjoy the noose of obligation that making eye contact demands: It burns us, it burns!

I can clearly recall Jimmy Stewart on The Tonight Show telling Johnny Carson that everything he had -- all the money and fame and admiration and privilege -' he owed to the good people who were kind enough to come to the darkened theater and part with their hard-earned money. He said it was a privilege and a small price to pay to give back whatever he could to those fine, generous people. I believed him. Here was a man who gave all that up to fly bombers over Germany. He didn't talk about doing his part, he just went out and did it just like millions of other Americans. There was a man who earned his celebrity. The fact that he had real talent and was one heck of a nice guy made it all even better.

What the hell has happened to these people, anyway?






Now before we focus The Stark Telescope of Condemnation on this new dark galaxy of stars who have imploded under the weight of their supermassive egos, let's take a moment to be fair: many, perhaps even most of these people really are decent chaps, even today. Paul Newman has been married to the same woman for half a century (lucky bastard, too) and Newman's Own salad dressings make quite a lot of money '- all of which goes to charity. Good onya, Paul. Tom Hanks has repeatedly given time and money to honor WWII veterans and keep the memory of our Space Program alive. (And is there a sadder sentence for this Apollo kid to write than 'the memory of our Space Program?') Steven Spielberg has been instrumental in preserving the thousands of small, dying, personal histories of the Holocaust. Drew Carey, a former jarhead himself, went to cheer up the current crop in Afghanistan, Harrison Ford rescued a woman in his personal helicopter, Liz Taylor carried the torch for AIDS research long before the red ribbons became de rigueur, and the list goes on and on.

But lately, it seems, some of these celebrities have said things that prove conclusively what cosmologists have been saying for decades: namely, that certain stars, under extreme conditions, can produce a bubble around themselves that cuts them completely off from the universe we inhabit; a region of space-time where all reason and logic break down, where time runs backwards, effects precede their causes and entirely unique laws of nature apply.

If we could travel at the speed of imagination to the worlds they inhabit, what color would the sky be?






Let's ask Woody Harrelson. He's an interesting place to start because he embodies one of the great ironies of the America-bashing glitterati'he is one of those actors who became beloved by playing someone who, for all intents and purposes, is his polar opposite.

I call this the Lou Grant effect. The talented Ed Asner, the actor who played Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, is politically to the left of Mao. Put Ed Asner and Lou Grant in a steel cage, let them talk politics for five minutes, and Lou Grant would kick Ed Asner's ass. Even Murray Slaughter would be handing up folding chairs: 'Hit the bastard again Lou, he's still talking about income redistribution!' Dana Scully is a brilliant, courageous, skeptical physician who is handy with an automatic; Gillian Anderson is deep into crystals and has trouble with her shoelaces. Jack Ryan crawls through the bowels of a stolen Russian submarine fighting a dirty shadow war to keep America free, and Alec Baldwin'doesn't. He seems to find the whole idea of a Jack Ryan deeply embarrassing. This list, sadly, goes on too.

But back to lovable Woody, the sweet-natured bartender from Indiana who helps out on the farm and is as red, white and blue as a Harvard professor after the recent Republican victories.

Woody tells The Guardian, that Moral Bastion of Even-Handedness, of the argument he gets into with his British taxi driver, also named Woody. Cabbie Woody, poor dim working fellow, seems to favor intervention in Iraq ' perhaps due to his contact with the occasional Jihadist he may find in the back seat in modern London. This is the sad result of a celebrity-starved culture, but not to worry, the American Intellectual is on the case. Our Woody sails into the debate:

'This is a racist and imperialist war. The warmongers who stole the White House (you call them "hawks", but I would never disparage such a fine bird) have hijacked a nation's grief and turned it into a perpetual war on any non-white country they choose to describe as terrorist.'

Yes, our bloody history is filled with fighting racist wars against WOG nations like Britain (1776), Britain, again (1812), Americans (1861), The Spanish (1898), the Germans (1917), the Germans again (1941), the Russian Soviets (1946-1991), the Serbs, etcetera, and so on ' people much whiter, as in racially Caucasian, than we are. Sure there are some un-cited Asians, Hispanics and Arabs thrown in there too. I see this as a blow for diversity, but why quibble? On to more in-depth factual analysis'

Asked what he would do in President Bush's shoes, he says he'd:

"'honor Kyoto. Join the world court. I'd stop subsidizing earth rapers like Monsanto, Dupont and Exxon... I'd revive the Chemurgy movement, which made the farmer the root of the economy, and make paper and fuel from wheat straw, rice straw and hemp. Not only would I attend, I'd sponsor the next Earth Summit. And, of course, I'd give myself a fat raise."

Woody, Woody, how we adored your lovable naivet' behind the bar, trading one-liners with Sam and Cliff and Norm and Frasier! Now all the lovable is gone, and look at what's left.

I mean, you do have to admire the vision of the man. Why take us from the Information Age back to the Industrial Age, when you can regress TWO entire civilizational leaps and make us all hemp farmers again?

It should also be noted that Woody Harrelson is a well-known Hemp Activist. Yes, when people come to their senses once again, and realize that they can get a rope of twice the weight at a quarter the strength of nylon for only three times the price, well, prepare for gridlock in the Home Depot parking lots across this fair republic. Perhaps he's advocating burlap and burlap accessories. Or perhaps it's the entire hemp family that he is advocating.

I briefly experimented with various hemp products while in college ' didn't inhale, though! ' thank God! My Presidential aspirations remain intact. But those of us who have spent any time around the most dedicated of Hemp Activists have noticed what might be called a degradation of critical analysis while actually engaged in the act of hemp advocacy. Reading the well-reasoned economic plan of the celebrity intellectual I have come to suspect that he might have had an advocacy session immediately before getting into the other Woody's cab. In fact, I suspect that Mr. Harrelson is often advocating hemp before breakfast, and continues his advocacy all day long and into the wee hours. This kind of thinking requires a lifetime of passionate hemp advocacy.

Is it too much to hope for that one of these days we'll see Advocacy Celebrities wearing a golden ribbon advocating intellectual rigor and well-researched, reason-based argumentation? Apparently it is. Are you shitting me, dude? That logical shit is hard! Let's advocate something a little less stressful and don't forget to bring the Doritos.






Not long ago, the director and some of the cast of The Two Towers appeared on The Charlie Rose Show. I saw a still picture of them taken after the taping. It's a memorable image: on the left, Peter Jackson, round and affable as a hobbit. Towering above him, Charlie Rose, a clean-shaven Gandalf in an expensive suit, wearing the pained expression of someone who has just sat in something wet and cold. Beside him, and seemingly half his height, grins Elijah Wood, his shaved head jarring and unsettling ' Frodo through the electrified fence at Dachau. And at right, the good king, Viggo Mortensen: workin' the frosted blond look ' Aragorn as baked Cali surfer dude. He's wearing a dark blazer and a white t-shirt, upon which he has hand-lettered NO MORE BLOOD FOR OIL -- but the letters are crammed high and tight around his neck, like some awful Topanga Canyon hippie necklace.

It seems clear to me that the upcoming action in Iraq is more about eliminating an immediate and potent threat to US and Western security than it is about the 3% of world oil contributed by Iraq. But even if this was about nothing but oil, what do Viggo and the other bearers of this message suggest? Did he walk from LA to New York to deliver this inane message? Do high-rise elevators, studio lights, cameras and transmitters run on solar power? Steven Den Beste spent many of his enlightening hours showing how no no other energy source begins to come close to meeting the needs of modern civilization. I'll paraphrase Winston Churchill: Oil is the worst possible source of energy, except for all the others.

Anyway, back to the group photo: you see them with their arms around each other, smiling, and suddenly Viggo's jarring, hand-lettered statement reminds you of something very personal. It's the Thanksgiving picture, the serious one mom begged you for, and there's your idiot older brother shooting a bird behind her head.

Viggo had a statement to make. Apparently, the poor fellow has had a rough year of it, being tarred by his association with the forces of Good and whatnot. That would be unacceptably pass' for actor, poet, artist Viggo ("The man you were/ For one short season/ Has been pruned/ Removed/ To a well-groomed graveyard/ That smells like popcorn" ) Mortensen.

So, lest anyone think that such a deep, deep man could possibly support military action against a murderous villain like Saddam Hussein, Viggo chalks it out in big letters for us: WE are the forces of Darkness. The President of the United States is Saruman. There are Orcs and Armies of the Undead in Viggo's world ' they're called 'Americans.'

Challenged on what the Good King would have done about the fall of the Two Towers, he replied:

"I would not have continually bombed innocent civilians from 30,000 feet with no possibility of being accurate and maiming and killing and destroying the lives of many more people than died at the World Trade Center. What does that do? Does bombing people make us safer? Does bombing people make us more loved or appreciated overseas? Will this be forgotten?"

Think what you will about Viggo being a lightweight; I contend that it takes a very fine mind indeed to pack so many inaccuracies, lies and false conclusions into such a tight sound byte.

We did not 'continually' bomb 'innocent civilians.' Superhuman efforts were made to strike at Taliban targets deliberately and cynically hidden in the middle of dense populations, by a regime with no qualms about using their own people as human shields. To say that we did so 'from 30,000 feet with no possibility of being accurate,' leaves me frothing for a rebate check for all the JDAM retrofits to our iron bombs. And if we're just gonna lob the things overboard, can't we save money by taking off the WWII fins as well? They've got to cost me 30-40 bucks a pop, minimum.

Next comes the obligatory misrepresentation of civilian casualties being higher than the 3,000 we lost on September 11th, rather than the 500 or so that is generally accepted. This too is an interesting peek into the mind of Viggo and many like him: the idea that once we exceed the number we lost on that horrible day the balance suddenly tips and now we are in the wrong. This is the kind of simplistic moral calculus that many people can comfortably wrap their minds around. It completely ignores the causal relationship, and equates a campaign bound by a strict moral imperative to avoid civilian casualties with the intentional murder of as many innocent civilians as possible. Apparently, this concept is a little too sophisticated to fit between the neckline and the top blazer button, even on a high-quality, all-cotton T.

Finally, we get the topper: 'Does bombing people make us safer? Does bombing people make us more loved or appreciated overseas? Will this be forgotten?' A trifecta of fact-free rhetorical questions! Magnificent!

Before we address those questions, let's remember that Viggo was invited to the show to talk about Lord of the Rings. He is, of course, entitled to his opinion, which seems to be: 'Does fighting and killing the Orc Armies make us any safer? Does slaughtering them make us more loved or appreciated in Mordor? Will this be forgotten?' In other words, won't all these swords and arrows just make the Orcs angrier than they already are?

Viggo, when you are bombing people publicly sworn to your violent death, then the answer to your first question -- Does bombing people make us safer? -- is, uh'YES. Does bombing make us more loved and appreciated overseas? No. Do we want to be loved and appreciated by those who stone women for the crime of being raped by a male relative? I don't. I'd be ashamed to be admired by the likes of them. Finally, Will this be forgotten? I hope not, Viggo. I really do. After eight years of ineffective, token responses to the murder and dismemberment of our people, I hope to God they do not forget what we did to them in Afghanistan.

People like Viggo Mortensen embolden people like Bin Laden, Saddam, and Kim Jong Il. America baffles them; dissent and debate gives them the same look as you see on a dog staring at a cartoon on TV. So they watch us like hawks, looking for what they know. Weakness. They know what weakness looks like. They can hear moral cowardice, lack of resolve, unwillingness to sacrifice, to get our hands dirty, or worse, to get our hands bloody. They can sense weakness like a shark senses weak and dying fish ' unerringly and from a long way away. The ability to accurately gauge an opponent's strength or weakness is THE survival skill for larval dictators.

It is painfully obvious that Viggo and his intellectual companions think that such people admire them for their outspoken support. These people admire nothing but strength and power: it is the only currency they can produce. For the likes of Viggo and his earnest companions they have only the scorn that such predators reserve for the slow and stupid.

And ultimately, this is how we allow celebrities to break our hearts. In the end, the disappointment we feel from hearing such silly sentiments is not Viggo's fault, but our own. On the screen in the darkness, his is the noble face of a pure-hearted king, battered and humiliated by shame and destruction, yet a man Tolkein entrusted with the moral vision, clarity of purpose, the ability to tell right from wrong and the will and courage to fight the good fight against all odds in the darkest of midnights. In our hearts, we desperately want to believe that such people exist; we need them in times like these. And they do exist, scattered throughout our great and good society in the most unlikely of places, the vast, unseen, interwoven root system of decency and kindness and strength that holds this volatile, rambunctious nation together. Unfortunately for our easy hopes, this pampered, self-absorbed actor is not one of them. From now on, I'll always see that T-shirt under the armor. It's a damn shame, really.






War with Iraq is coming, but before he can sign off on it, Sean Penn needs to get on the ground in Baghdad and get all the facts ' otherwise it's a non-starter. Now, to realistically assess Saddam's military and WMD capabilities, talk to various and sundry dissidents, interview the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south, fully digest the Iraqi 12,000 page UN declaration of dual-use technologies, scan for radioactive, chemical and biological trace contaminants, run up a balanced psych profile of Saddam, Uday and Husay, get familiar with the creation of Iraq by the British in 1932 and the subsequent rise of the Ba'ath party, determine the intricate tribal structure of Tikrit and its effect on Saddam's rise to power ' well, this will take some time, natch. Sean impetuously thought this could be done in two days, but wiser heads prevailed and pushed it out to three.

Determining compliance in such complex matters is not a job for some lightweight like Toby McGuire or Ben Affleck. No, a mission this serious requires the most serious actor we have in our arsenal. We're not screwing around this time. We mean business.

I expect Sean's inspection notebook to read something like this:

Toured Iraqi orphanage. Wanted to interview some of the children. Uday tells me that exposure to depleted Uranium suppressed immune systems to the point where chronic laryngitis has infected the entire ward. G.D. my fascist country!

Questioned U. about man manipulating dark grey metallic discs with robotic arms through thick green glass. Turns out he was making pet ID tags to help reunite families with their puppies and kitties when US bombing begins. Criminal sanctions of pet medication from GD! Sanctions means kittens in Iraq all have AIDS!! THANKS GWB!!!!! Hence the sterile precautions.

Shocking fact: questioned man in reflective silver suit holding long metallic cylinder. Man could not speak -- face was hidden by reflective hood and dark welder's glass faceplate. U says man was local baker, mutilated while delivering bread to orphans during F-16 strike. That explains the dark faceplate. US has bombed all the bakeries in the area, so man has to stuff raw dough in metal mold and stand in only remaining oven until bread is baked. Other men in area sweating profusely when I asked to confirm ' must have just come out of bakery themselves. I throw stale top slice of bread away at home ' never again!!

Strange coincidence! Went on tour of local mosque, and The Princess Bride was on TV screens behind Imam!! Turns out PB is their favorite movie! Starring my own Robin! Who knew!

Embargo tough on Muslims though. Iraqi DVD player is 1973 model: huge metal cylinder at back of mosque, emits low whoosh-whoosh-whoosh sound as if spinning. Tomorrow we tour baby formula factory. Have already been issued blue suit with faceplate and contained air supply so as not to sneeze and contaminate milk supplies'

Prior to his visit, Mr. Penn took out a $56,000 full-page ad in The New York Times condemning his nation for lying and deception. Immediately upon his return from Baghdad, the Iraqis issued a statement saying Sean Penn stated Iraq was free of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Turns out he did no such thing. Mr. Penn was rumored to have been furious. I have been searching the Times for another full-page ad condemning Iraq for lying and deception. Still no sign'maybe that ad is in turnaround.







And the beat goes on. Geopolitical analyst Sheryl Crow recently appeared at the American Music Awards with a sequined t-shirt message (hat tip: Viggo Mortenson) that read 'War is not the Answer' What was the question, again? Deep Thought? Hello?

Sheryl then drew a gasp from the assembled audience, as she cut through untold millennia of human strife and misery with a solution so simple you wonder why you didn't see it before:

"I think war is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow. I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies."

Yeah, okay, now how can you NOT see it? See, this was the problem with Hitler and the Nazis: they made enemies. And the tanks'did they have to be so loud? 'Hey, Adolph, a little consideration for those of us trying to sleep in?'

Now that we know the best way to solve problems is not to have any enemies, let's see what fences we can mend with our Islamicist 'Friends We Haven't Met Yet.' All they are asking is a little respect for their different ' but equally valid! ' cultural preferences. We can clear up this little misunderstanding by making a few small compromises. All we have to do is abandon the Bill of Rights, convert to Islam, adopt Sharia, or Islamic law, imprison our women in mobile tents, remove their clitoris without anesthesia so that they don't get any ideas while we are out stoning rape victims, use our young male relatives for sexual domination since premarital sex with women is a mortal sin, kill anyone who writes anything disrespectful of our government or religion, throw away science, technology and modern medicine, murder all homosexuals and Jews, eliminate music, dancing, beer drinking, sports, television, movies and other vices, throw acid on our daughters if they are seen in public with a male non-relative, and swear unwavering loyalty to whatever the half-blind, one-armed raving lunatic spews at us during our five-times-a-day prayer sessions.

In exchange, they promise not to fly any more of our airplanes into our buildings.

Problem solved! Who knew international relations could be so simple! Kissinger has been ripping someone off but good!

And of, course, The Grey Burqa Formally Known As Sheryl Crow will lead this crusade against having enemies by doing all of the above. I mean, of course she will. Right? Sheryl? Sheryl, come on, they're staring right at us. You don't want to insult them, do you? Don't just drive off in your limousine! Sheryl! Respect Diversity! YOU'RE STARTING TO LOOK A LITTLE HYPOCRITICAL IS ALL!! SHERYL? CALL ME, WE'LL DO LUNCH!

Sheryl Crow's inane comment about not having any enemies was undoubtedly meant to build bridges and mend fences. Make friends. Unfortunately, it has caused in me a rising rage. It makes me want to shake my fist at her from a mountaintop, in the middle of a lightning storm, at the exact moment of a total solar eclipse: 'Eternal Enemies, you and I, Crow! ETERNAL! ENEMIES!'

Wait, this is tougher than I first thought. Maybe the only way not to have any enemies is to not have any thoughts or opinions. To be a stone, or a rock.

Nah, that doesn't work either. I hate goddam rocks. Grind 'em all up into gravel, that's what I say.






So many celebrities, and so few electrons. We're out of time. But what tour of this wonderful galaxy would be complete without a stop at the Trantor of self-absorption: ladies and gentlemen, Ms. Barbra Streisand!

Babs' ultrafabulous (award-winning!) website features the latest political views and analysis on the tastefully understated TRUTH PAGE. Here you can read the latest on Iranian Dictator Saddam Hussein, learn how to misspell the names of former Democratic party leaders, talk about the ravenous oil appetite of Big Lumber and many other useful facts essential to comment intelligently in the modern arena.

But the real charm of Miss Streisand's web pages is a chance to see just how many opportunities you have to buy Barbra records, pay to go see Barbra concerts, buy Barbra DVD's and VHS tapes, own tastefully understated Barbra event T-shirts, sweaters, embroidered T-shirts, sweat shirts, baseball caps, baby-doll T's, white soup mugs, photo mugs, key chains, Director's Silhouette mugs, money clips, champagne flutes, children's watches, champagne candles, playing cards, black rose coffee mugs, scented candles, stuffed animals, golf balls, CD cases, and 1994 Barbra tour posters.

Oh, and you can also purchase the 1994 concert poster, Barbra Streisand gold records, Director's Silhouette tunics, photo T-shirts, canvas drawstring jackets, logo caps, logo bags, varsity jackets, canvas bag and silk photo scarf.

Or perhaps you'd care for one of her top quality ' sleeve swing T-shirts, white slim T-shirts, black photo t-shirts, wool jackets, hooded sweatshirts, black embroidered T-shirts, white embroidered sweatshirts, black varsity jackets, 'white square rose design' T-shirts, black embroidered Millennium concert T's, or the new, non-denominational holiday ornaments with Barbra's officially authorized photo on the front!

And what loving parent could resist buying one (or several!) children's faux fur capes, complete with the Barbra logo (and what child is really dressed without a fur cape?)

Babs, I know you like to view yourself as the tower of decency, compassion and social generosity. You have not been shy about telling us how much you do for the poor and the needy. So I will bet you a weeks salary (mine vs. yours) that a church-going single mother of two drawn at random from Boise, Idaho, gives more time and money, as a percentage of income, to help needy people than you do.






In closing, let me say this: I will happily forgive the Great Lady the spelling and factual errors, and even the rampant greed'but there are three things that I find unforgivable about people like her and Warren Beatty and Alec Baldwin, and those are these:

First: try, if you can, to disabuse yourselves of the pernicious idea that your lives are worth more than those of your fellow citizens, for it is the engine of your hypocrisy in many telling instances. Barbra Streisand lectures us about global warming, and yet spends much of her time in a 12 mpg limousine. Indeed, she is rumored to have traveled around LA in a Recreational Vehicle (to avoid germs in public restrooms, she helpfully points out). In other words, you commoners need to be warned about the environmental dangers of your SUV's, and I am willing to drive my RV or my private jet anywhere necessary to remind you of that fact. When Rosie O'Donnell ambushes Tom Selleck about gun ownership and proceeds to call for draconian gun control measures, her moral position would be immeasurably improved were it not for the fact that her personal bodyguard is, of course, armed to the teeth in order to protect the valuable celebrity entrusted to his care. In other words, you poor simple people cannot be allowed to defend your homes and children. You must let your personal bodyguards take care of that ' after all, they are professionals. And when Susan Sarandon says she opposes war in Iraq because she doesn't want her son fighting and dying some day, what she is really saying is that it's okay for someone else's sons and daughters to go and fight and die to keep us safe ' just don't take the little Sarandon kids; they have big careers ahead of them.

Second, remember that this is a complex nation with many different peoples from many backgrounds, most of whom are invisible from six miles high in your Gulfstream V as you fly from New York to LA. Say whatever you want when you want: that is your right. But when the likes of Barbra Streisand seriously expect to be included in national policy decisions, and Warren Beatty gets a whiff of presidential ambition, let me suggest that you might make fine policy makers: you may, in fact, be the solution to this nation's many grievous ills. And the way to find out is to get some names on a petition, get out of the limo, knock on some doors, and meet some real people for once in your pampered, isolated lives. Go to some cookouts, some ethnic celebrations, press the flesh, kiss some babies and do all the other messy, disgraceful, comical things that politicians have to do to get elected in this country.

I suspect you will find that life is somewhat more complicated than you might have guessed. If my pale and wafer-thin exposure to on-line 'celebrity' is any guide at all, you will find that hearing from people who both agree and disagree with you will make you a better person, and the hopes, compliments and criticisms they pin on you will raise you to a plane you never thought you would be able to exist on. Try it. It will do you good. But until then, stay out of the smoky rooms and leave policy to the tens of thousands of elected officials in this nation who have met and listened to the unruly public, endured the germs in a public restroom, and earned the right to govern.

Third, a personal favor: when you call for higher taxes so we all know what swell-hearted guys you are, could you please wait for a few weeks until some of the rest of us are sitting on a few hundred million? I know that you think it shows you're not being hypocrites ' I'm a millionaire! I'll pay even more! Problem is, those of us who aren't millionaires but who would like to be are still trying to slug it out down here, see? And while higher taxes may mean you only take home 2 million of the 13 million you make on a two-month shoot, it still seems like you could have the decency to hold off until some of the rest of us working stiffs get there too.






It's widely known that when something bad happens in the world, when something big goes south surprisingly fast, the first words out of the President's mouth are 'Where are the carriers?' It's not, 'Where are the celebrities?' 'Where are the carriers?"

An Aircraft Carrier is nothing more than a big piece of steel ' a really big piece of steel displacing 90,000 tons of water ' but an inanimate hunk of iron ore nonetheless.

What the President really wants to know is, 'Where are the nameless, unglamorous, 18, 19, 20 year-old ordnance specialists, where are the barely-shaving fueling technicians, where are the pimply-faced fire-fighting crews and the cooks and the medics and the engineers' that we pay a few thousand dollars a year for, people we pay less in a month for a hellish life of service in the hot bowels of a carrier than we do a movie star in one minute of their catered lunch break in their personal trailer, being waited on hand and foot by an army of sycophants? Where are the twenty- and thirty-something Lieutenants and Lt. Commanders, family men who left tearful wives and sons and daughters on a dock in San Diego or Norfolk so that they could sail into harm's way on behalf of spoiled, immature, Peter-Pan types like Warren Beatty whose God-given right to bed millions of starlets might be threatened by developments overseas? Where are the Commanders and Captains and the crusty old CPO's and Warrant Officers, men and women who have given a lifetime of service to their country; capable, good-hearted people who could have immeasurably increased their wealth and comfort had they chosen life in the private sector?

One of the many things we learned on September 11th, 2001 was that there are in fact real heroes in the world, and they are not, surprisingly, supermodels or dating Nicole Kidman. They are policemen and airline passengers and fire fighters like Mike Moran who have the guts to look terror in the eye, give out his home address, and tell Osama bin Laden to kiss his royal Irish ass. We pay these people nothing, chump change ' they are unsung, faceless and forgotten. Shame on us.

For a moment, for a few weeks or months, the reality of what these men and women do daily was there in front of us to see, and all of a sudden the glitterati seemed pale and ephemeral and really kind of silly. But, as usual, the unsung and unknown armies of soldiers and intelligence analysts and baggage screeners and all the rest have done their jobs with such quiet professionalism and skill that once again the undead, make-believe legions of the famous feel safe to expound on a reality many of them never have to face and lecture us all on morality.

Let me say this from the bottom of my heart: these people are entitled to their opinion. Anyone who thinks them traitors for disagreeing with the government has a lot to learn about what America really means, no matter how heartfelt their patriotism nor how loathsome the criticism. And, I suppose, they deserve respect for having the guts to speak their minds publicly, to go on record for what they obviously believe in.

The danger, as I see it, is that we live in a culture awash in celebrity, and this gives these people not only a voice, but influence over large numbers of people ' perhaps enough influence to significantly effect election results. One of the reasons that a person's ego can become so diseased that they feel they can order free people to avert their eyes in their presence is because they know full well the power they have. The inclusion of some of these names in a movie can be worth hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Just think about this for a moment: you could, in the space of eight weeks, generate more income than some nations do in the course of a year.

And so when and how is such power challenged? When do they ever have to defend themselves and their ideas against fact, reason and logic? Who do they ever meet that repeatedly and hotly disagrees with them? These are people who can afford to employ armies of willing Smithers' to ensure that this exact thing never happens.

Anyone who has seen a recent photo of Michael Jackson, must, if they have any compassion at all, feel a great pity for this man, because what he has done to himself only shows that he has never had a real friend in his entire life. Not one. He has reached a level of celebrity so advanced, that no one, anywhere, is willing or able to confront him, to challenge him, to pull him aside and take away the car keys, to get the poor man some help. You and I never deal with Michael Jackson ' we deal with Michael Jackson's people. And these are folks who are hired as a bulwark against the unpleasant realities the rest of us face on a daily basis. In the case of Michael Jackson, it is a perfect prison of his own construction, and almost every celebrity the average person could name has at least the beginnings of such a wall already in place.

As long as celebrity worship is about who's dating whom and what gown was worn at what self-congratulatory award show, there is really very little harm in all this. But when people with this degree of influence over the public step into the political arena, we might perhaps be a little concerned that all of the fact-checking, criticism and downright surveillance that the press correctly applies to political figures is completely lacking when it comes to celebrity proclamations. So they get to have things both ways. They have the influence without the responsibility. They can claim that they are just a citizen exercising their right to their opinion, and in this they are absolutely correct.

But is it too much to ask, that in return for all of the largesse and privilege and adulation that we lay at the feet of these idols, that perhaps they develop some cogent, defensible argument, something based on history and research and logic rather than on what feels good to them? Something worthy of the disproportionate weight their opinions are given? It is not uncommon to see actors, famous or otherwise, carrying dense tomes by Tolstoy (alongside tiny little thin ones by Harold Pinter), wearing round spectacles with no prescriptions on the thick lenses: the trappings of deep thinking, the props and costume work needed to convey to the audience in the coffee shop or the protest line the very profound and meaningful cogitation done by people who run from deep and meaningful thought like a rabid dog from a water hose.

And would it also be too much to ask, just as a common courtesy to those who pay for your mansions and limousines, to every once in a while assume that perhaps this freely elected, multi-racial, multi-cultural democracy is not automatically in the wrong when confronting dictators, murderers and terrorists? Will you abide by this reasonable request, or do we have to write it into your next contract?

Posted by Proteus at January 20, 2003 1:24 AM







Welcome to the Eject! Eject! Eject! commenter community. Please read and understand the following:


1. This is not a public square. This is a dinner party on personal property. Good conversation is not only tolerated but celebrated here. But the host understands the difference between dissent and disrespect, even if you do not. Louts will be ignored until the bouncers can show them the door.

2. This is a voluntary online community. Your posting of any material, whether in comments or otherwise, grants to William A. Whittle, Aurora Aerospace, Inc. and their affiliates, a perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive, worldwide license to use, sublicense, reproduce or incorporate into other material all or any portion of the material posted, for commercial or other use.

3. If a comment does find its way into a main page essay, print, or other media, every effort will be made to credit the individual making the comment. So chose your screen name accordingly, SLNTFRT33@yahoo.com!

Now let's see some distributed intelligence and basic human decency! Don't make me come down there every five minutes!




Comments



An awesome post, Bill. You're right on the money in every regard.



I bet Jimmy is up in heaven, chuckling at his sorry successors.



If you haven't done so already, you might want to check out Keith Richards' (of the Rolling Stones) comments about his Australian tour. To quote: ""I say to Osama and the boys bring it on, evaporate me," Richards said on the eve of the band's Australian tour. "If it gets to the stage where these guys are dictating if we rock or not, then forget about it.

"If McCartney uses these guys as an excuse, he should give it away. Don't give them the power. I can't wait to tour Australia, even if they take out my plane on the way there."

Richards told Melbourne's Sunday Herald Sun that his son witnessed the World Trade Center attacks, and that he himself is familiar with airborne terror assaults:

"I was born during the Blitz – remember when Adolf Hitler bombed London? – so it was nothing new to me."



Wow. What a post. There's so much clarity of thought that my head practically hurts. Truly awesome stuff.



Spot on. I blame the celebrity-coddling industry and the celebrity-fawning media. Back in Jimmy Stewart's day actors were treated no better than hired hands, and that was good for their character. (Of course, there were some actors whose egos were so overwhelming that they got the star treatment by sheer force of personality, but it is still far below the sycophantic worship even minor tv stars get today). I keep thinking, if only one, just one crew of one film would balk and say "hell no we aren't going to take it anymore" then maybe it would start some sort of revolution. But I'm not holding my breath. For myself? I pay no attention to the man behind the screen. It's usually a case of the fearsome Wizard of Oz being a little wizened old man anyway.



Right on the money. This celebrity worship is disgusting. Hollywood has all the trappings of the royalty of old without the power. However, it is truly disturbing how it seems to be geting its foot in the door to wield true political power. Heaven help us if these people so out of touch with reality are able to swing the votes of the people who just don't know any better. Anyone who is pathetic enough to worship the likes of these would-be Hollywood kings and queens doesn't deserve the freedom for which so many real patriots have bled.



I believe it's "CEE-ment" pond ... otherwise, spot-on.



Okay, if you go to the Babs web site and buy all 62 items, it will set you back $2,223.60 not including tax or shipping. But before you think that Babs is greedy or anything, let me note that she does have a stuffed lion marked down from $20 to $9.95!



Sir, you are a beacon of hope in these dark times. I especially liked the imagery of you shaking your fist on a mountaintop--it made me laugh because it put me in mind of the 'kill the wabbit' cartoon, but it also made me laugh with sheer delight that someone is willing to say what they think, and to hell with the consequences! Booyah!



Great post, Bill.

There was a story of an old English Lord who forbade the townsfolk to gaze upon him. He took it so far as to have the hedgerows grow to 6' tall to avoid being looked at by the 'peasants.'

One day, an industrious young peasant climbed the hedgerow and lay in wait. Just as the Lord's roadster drove past, he held a pig over the top, so the pig could make eye contact with the Lord.



In a case of art imitating life, the character Woody, that Woody Harrelson played on Cheers, is actually more intelligent than Woody Harrelson.



There are more people like Jimmy Stewart around!

Well, I only read the first part of the above story, about our infamous divas. Absurd, isn't it?

I live in a small community now, the Santa Ynez Valley, and it is full of big-name talents. I've met so many of them, so many wonderful, lovely, gracious people that show their apprecition every day to the people who come up to them and meet them.

I might mention Fess Parker, and his wife, Marcie. They have a little musical gathering every Thursday night and goes around greeting each person there, engages them in conversation, and when they part, they're so impressed and they walk away feeling good and perhaps...like they'd really spent a day with him instead of just a few minutes.

Or, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., who takes part in the Christmas Pagent each year, and reads the story of the birth of Christ to the kids in our little outdoor theater. He has such graciousness that it is hard to describe.

I could go on and on, talk about Cheryl Ladd and her wonderful talented husband, Brian Russell, their cheerful, gracious manners and their joy in just living that seems to exude and surround you when they're in the room.

These are real people, appreciative people, thankful people, warm people. No distinctions, no fussiness, no rudeness; they, to me, personify this country and what it stands for!



Bill, how is it that you are a psychic who improves muddled thinking? I have thought (and said) much the same recently, just not so clearly. The idiocy spouted by these folks clearly illustrates why most of them aren't writers: they couldn't string together more than six or seven coherent sentences without their heads exploding.

Consider Ms. Crow's statement:

"I think war is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow. I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies."

This statement so typifies the idiocy rampant in this set. Amoung us old Sappers, we also had a statement:
"If tits were brains, she'd be Einstein."

Unfortunately, I believe the inverse square rule is in effect, in her particular case.

Personally, I shall follow the advise given by Minstrel in his reply on Rachel's site. When I lived in Thousand Oaks, many of my neighbors were crew and stunt people, and we need to continue supporting them. They don't have "Don't look at me" attitudes and are generally some great folks. They manage to survive in that environment (I helped out with some demo questions for some EFX types, and I couldn't stand the games the "stars" played and ended up not joining the local). They have stouter souls than I, and can put up with unbelievable BS. My hat is off to them!

So go to the movies, enjoy the stories, and simply view the stars as puppets whose words are supplied by intelligent folks.

Sapper Mike



Good post. I linked it on my blog.

But...

Please don't compare Clinton's "didn't inhale" to Bush's (and I may misquote) "not in the last seven years." (http://abcnews.go.com/sections/politics/DailyNews/prez_questions990819.html) If Bush, for whom I voted, were pure wouldn't he have just said "no, I never did cocaine" and gotten on with it? Maybe I'm naive to believe that if you have nothing to hide you can admit purity with impunity. Oh well, Bush's dodge strategy worked.

And if you're going to rise above the level of the celebrities you loathe, don't fall to their tactics of supposition. Be as straight as possible.

While your creative segment,
I expect Sean’s inspection notebook to read something like this:, was entertaining, it was also manipulative and deceptive. Your use of poetic license was as disappointing as any left-wing actor jibberish I've heard.

On the other hand, if you truly have Sean Penn's notebooks, please point us to them. They'd be a fun read.



I'm surprised you didn't mention David Letterman. There was his 9-11 monologue, his Christmas Day visit to the troops in Afghanistan, not to mention that he quite often has members of the armed forces on the show reading the top 10 list.



I thought I had the link to Rachel's response correct. I blew it. Bad Link. (http:www.rachellucas.com/cgi-bin/mt-comments/cgi?entry_id=291)

Sappers should stay away from complicated posting.

Sapper Mike

In answer to some of life's problems, always remember the Sapper's Rules of Thumb:
1. Give me a big enough lever, and I will move the world. Archimedes was the first sapper, IMHO.
2. Get a bigger hammer. Mjölnir might be too small.
3. If the above two fail, then: P=plenty, where P equals the pounds of TNT needed to do the job.



As someone who has been in and around Hollywood for 12 years now, you got it in a nutshell. It's maddening how pretentious some of these dimwits are. I have been to a couple of functions with these lavish buffets catered by top chefs to the tune of $50K or more, and the people there just eat a bite of sushi or a canape, and later, you wonder where all that food goes. How much do you want to bet the homeless don't see it? Yet they continue to preach on the subject.

The pathology of their problem is self loathing. And much deservedly so, if you ask me. The nicest celebrities are the ones who are not so liberal. The meanest and most hateful are the left wingers. They're the ones that scream at their help, and abuse every privilege they get.

But I think you're making a mistake to dislike a movie because of an actor. A movie is the sum of many parts. Not just one person's performance. I find Viggo to be just another dumb actor (as many of them are) and just ignore that it's him up there when I watch The Two Towers.

I think it's hilarious Viggo plays a noble character in a movie with realistic attitudes about war. I'm glad it pains him. Like that elven rope Sam tied up Gollum with. "It burns us!"

I say, good! These people shouldn't be allowed to escape reality, even if it hurts them. In fact, they should have their faces rubbed in it if they want to be such jerks. Like those aristocrats before the French Revolution, they need to snap out of their entitlement mentality before the angry mobs drag them off to the guillotine.



"For a moment, for a few weeks or months, the reality of what these men and women do daily was there in front of us to see, and all of a sudden the glitterati seemed pale and ephemeral and really kind of silly."

I really liked that temporary moment in time.



Then, I finished the article. Great, Bill, really great. Yep, blame it all on big oil, then how would they supply the major population centers?

Remember the gas shortage in the 70's, and the national calamity it caused? Rich people had their chauffeurs (like the Streisand and the Baldwin types) filling every tank in their fleets of cars, so they'd not be inconvenienced in the slightest. The hell with the poor guy just trying to get to work.

(Now, perhaps you'll correct a mistake above about Fess Parker: it should read, "and 'he' goes around greeting...', and then erase this bit, please.)



Great bit of writing, Bill. I would write more but I believe I'd just be echoing others.

Again, great writing.



Great essay...again.

Thought you might find this link interesting in light of your topic. George Clooney is quickly ascending the ranks of the asinine in Hollywood.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/gossip/story/52957p-49641c.html



Wow. What a great screed! You're going straight on my Must-Read Blog List.



You are a truly gifted writer, Bill. Glad you're on the right side.

Occam's Toothbrush has a link to a V D Hansen C-Span interview that covers this subject among others. Well worth 29 minutes.

I got to meet Jimmy Stewart in '69 when he and his wife toured Viet Nam. Never met a more down-to-earth, gracious pair anywhere. They spent HOURS and HOURS mingling with the troops. He was a reserve B/G at the time.



Don't forget, Stewart was also a bomber pilot in WWII (AFTER he was already famous) and remained in the reserves up until his retirement as a Brig-Gen. in 1968. [He didn't just fly milk-runs in the war, either. He was over Germany.]



Jeff Daniels is another star with a brain. He refuses to live in California and put up with the BS of Hollywood. In fact, he and his family live in Chelsea, Michigan, a small town about 15 miles West of Ann Arbor. They are regular folks active in the community, etc.



I was tremendously impressed by your words. Even touched. Thank you. I look forward to your next missive.



Great essay again, Mr. Whittle. "Stark Telescope of Condemnation"! ha! ha! ha! ha! I _loved_ that one! Yessiree -- "BOB" is _my_ Personal Savior, too. ha! ha! ha! ha! hee! hee! hee!
http://www.subgenius.com



The problem extends beyond Hollywood, IMHO. The arrogance and sense of entitlement displayed by many actors and actresses is no different from that displayed by some elected officials. I personally feel it is an extension of the structures themselves. As persons of power, they are surrounded daily by people who remind them of just HOW important, intelligent, brilliant, indispensible, and worthy they are.
To put it another way, if an attractive woman tells a man he's 8 feet tall enough times, even a 5 footer will start ducking to go thru a 7 foot doorway.



I think the jury is still out on whether celebrity anti-War advocates harm or help their own cause. I'm pretty sure that Penn has convinced few if any fence sitters that Bush is mistaken. His actions may be having the opposite effect. Your implied point that Saddam and others may misjudge us based in part on high profile celebs leading the vocal opposition. This is hard to prove although not completely out of the realm of possibility. If so, it looks maddeningly treasonous. Yet this also may ultimately be to our benefit as misinformation; lulling the tyrants into a false sense of immunity - psychological warfare against dictators who cannot fathom the workings of a society with freedom of expression. The Sean Penns may have inadveratntly done their little part in weakening Saddam before his final, long-overdue fall. Compared to the Marines, it's a piddling contribution but still: Thanks Sean!



Dear Steven,

May Bob grant you Slack, brother.



How you manage to condense pure intelligence into a form that BARELY avoids hitting critical mass (evidenced by the fact your server hasn't exploded) will be a mystery to blogologists forever. :)

Er- do you still work in Hollywood? I imagine they won't be too pleased to read this article. If J-Lo can get bitter over people looking her in the eye, she'll probably have a price put on your head if this essay circulates as much as it ought to. :)



Put your money where your mouth is! I no longer go to the movies, mostly because I refuse to contribute to million dollar actor/actress salaries. Don't watch Larry King or Rosie or Style or E! The media only fawns over them because someone is watching. The paying public gives them their power.



Can you please please run for president of the world Bill? Please?



Bill - I would be honored to even touch the space bar where your thumb has been!!! Clooney has probably shot his career in the foot - for sure, he's had the last of my admission money. Hopefully, others of his ilk will get the same reward for their viscious anti-Americanism. They have crossed the line of "free speech" and should begin to realize what other Americans feel about their treachery. This can best be pointed out to these egomaniacs at the box office. Yeah, right. I WOULD use my own blog space, but the best I can do following one of your essays, is just say "Ain't it the truth!!" Kudos.



Brilliant.



It's late, so I can't get into all the reasons I loved this post. Suffice it to say, picturing Babs in an RV was worth every word!



"He was ugly, he was strong, he had dignity." An old Mexican proverb qouted by John Wayne, he wanted those words to mark his grave. I really miss him, and Jimmy, Spencer, Bogey........I miss these men because they had respect for things other than themselves, other than their own press releases, if they ever did such things. They had class. No one would ever suspect Woody of posessing such a thing, or Asner, or the countless others. I'm glad that a few of our current stars have the touch of greatness, that they remember where they came from, and look forward to coming back to their towns and homes. It's not about money or clothes, never has been. It's about dreams, the expansion of your imagination, bringing you to a place where all things are possible, and the little guy can win.

My heroes have all passed on, both the people I have known, and the ones on the screen, but I remember. I'm not an old man, but life is never fair, it just is. Lessons learned, a line remembered, a snatch from an old poem, all these things are what give us strength and solice when we need it. What exactly do the stars give us now? We look elsewhere for heroes, men and women who lead by example, by quiet courage, by the sheer strength of the sacrifices they make for others.

Thanks Bill, I was really moved by what you wrote as I read it today. Saddened by what was thats gone now, and hopeful, glad that there are still people who really do care to do whats right.



Every time I think about starting my own blog I read something like this from you, Lileks or Rachel, and I just toss my pen down and surrender.

Bravo, sir...glad you're on the case.



Great writing!

I'm considering sending it to my peacenik friends but I've already told them that supporting one of the worst tyrants in history isn't the best excuse for self rightiousness and I'm not sure they'll ever talk to me again as it is.



There are few so few in Hollywood to admire. Dear old Charlton Heston who George Clooney feels free to denigrate. Patricia Heaton, now derided for walking out on the Osbourne F-Bomb fest at the AMAs. James Woods who early on knew evil when he saw it. Bruce Willis, Emma Caulfield, maybe a few more. What a shame.



think maybe we could take up a collection and buy space in the NYT and LAT and have this posted?



As usual, another must-read. You rock like a van parked at an Aerosmith concert, man.

May Bob grant you Slack.



Brilliant. My grandfather knew Mr. Stewart during the war. 45 years later, when my grandfather passed away, we got a condolence letter. There was a gentleman, and a gentle man.



Bill,

As Scott said in the above comments:

Don't forget, Stewart was also a bomber pilot in WWII (AFTER he was already famous) and remained in the reserves up until his retirement as a Brig-Gen. in 1968. [He didn't just fly milk-runs in the war, either. He was over Germany.]
There's a photo of Stewart--at about age 58--walking away from a B-52 after a mission over Vietnam that I included in my post that links to your excellent essay.

Keep up the great work!

Regards,

Ed



Jebus, can't you pad it out a little longer?

Asinine celebrities are nothing new. Their very assholishness makes them popular, because everyone talks about them. Jenny from the Block's an asshole industry to herself for her demands.

The only difference is that back in Jimmy Stewart's time, actors worked for studios that could destroy their careers as easily as make them. They had to toe the line and let the studios make most of the money. So I don't think today's industry is any better or worse than the old ways. The cruelties of the studio system are just as bad as the opportunities for actors today to self-destruct (River Phoenix, anyone?)

What is sad is that the media industry for a lot of reasons, bias, laziness, stupidity, focuses much more attention on the Cheryl Crows and Woody Harrselsons of the world than on celebrities who support our efforts against Iraq, or who go to Afghanistan to entertain the troops (don't forget to add Robin Williams to the list, and who was the Yankees pitcher who went with him?).

If you follow the link from Le Carre's junk piece to the open democracy site (funded in part by John Cleese), you'll see messages of support from Salmon Rushdie and Roger Scrutin that are models of clarity and moral force compared to the idiotic ramblings of the anti-war crowd.



Well said, Bill.

I'm surprised nobody's talking about how career-limiting it is to be an idiotarian. Think about Alec Baldwin. For a guy with a name and face recognition near 100%, Balwin's movies since his Late Night appearance have not been all that significant...


13 May 1999 "Notting Hill" (Bit part, uncredited)

26 July 1999 "Scout's Honor" (short)

5 September 1999 "Outside Providence" (supporting roll. Budget, $7 million. Gross, $7.292m. Probably lost about 3 million)

16 July 2000 "Thomas and the Magic Railroad" (children's film, supporting roll.)

2000 "Speak Truth to Power" (non-commercial. Synopsis follows...
"Using poetry and music in combination with documentary footage, SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER is a dramatic portrait of the current state of human rights around the world. Featuring an all-star cast, the program draws attention to global abuses by listening to the activists involved in prevention, and on-location footage from India and Guatemala. Former United States president Bill Clinton introduces the program."

18 Feb 2001 "State and Main" (Executive producer, did not appear in the film. The film grossed less than $7 million in the US, and almost nothing overseas)

27 May 2001 "Pearl Harbor (small supporting roll as Jimmy Doolittle, which had JD spinning in his grave. The film, at best, broke even, but Baldwin was not featured in advertising)

8 July 2001 "Cat's and Dogs" (voiceover as "Butch" the Chief Agency Dog)

15 July 2001 "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within" (voiceover as Captain Gray Edwards. Budget $137m, US Gross $32.131m)

16 December 2001 "The Royal Tenenbaums" (voiceover, narrator)

2002 "The Path to War" (HBO Television movie, as Robert McNamara)

"The Devil and Daniel Webster" Completed, no release date. Cutting Edge Entertainment is listed as the distributor. A vanity production, Baldwin's company, El Dorado Pictures, is the production company, Baldwin is executive producer, director and star.

In short, since his appearance on Late Night nearly 4 years ago, Baldwin's only leading film roll was a voiceover in an animated picture that lost $100 million. His appearances in profitable films were minor rolls, the films did not feature him in their advertising, and in one he was completely uncredited.

He's probably making a decent living as a working character actor, but over the last 4 years you can hardly call him "A" list.

The same is true of Cher. She's an Academy Award winning actress that's done 4 movies in 12 years - and 2 of those were cameos playing herself. He most recent was 1999's "Tea with Mussolini" that grossed $14 million. Jane Fonda? Her last movie was "Stanley and Iris" with Robert DiNiro in 1990 - which grossed under $6 million.

Woody Harrellson? How much did "Welcome To Sarajevo" make? "The Sunchaser"? "The People vrs. Larry Flint"? It only grossed $20m, they probably spent that much on prints and advertising. You have to go back to films like "White Men Can't Jump" and "Indecent Proposal" to find a Woody Harrelson film that made money. THOSE were made BEFORE his political views were widely known. And the important question - what was Woody's last big part?

4 years ago, 1999. The BLOCKBUSTER hit, "Ed TV." Before that he had a really good year, 1998, with 4 films in one year. Can you remember them? "Palmetto," "HiLo country," "The Thin Red Line" and "Wag the Dog." He hasn't made a movie in this century.

Now, almost anyone in America knows the names Baldwin, Harrellson, Jane Fonda and Cher. Other competent actors would sell their souls to get that kind of fame. Why aren't they getting rolls, and why to their movies bomb when they do? I think most of the audience won't go see them because of their political views. And while I don't think most of Hollywood has figured out *why* they're unprofitable, Hollywood KNOWS they're unprofitable.



This is a memorable piece. It belongs in the blogging hall of fame, for sure.

All I can add is to wonder what weird sophistry tells us that, because these jerks are celebrities, their opinions count more than others. Their sycophants in the media are the grand enablers.

The real heroes and philosophers we should be listening to are now gathering in Kuwait and Qattar for a conference. I'm waiting to hear from them.



Amazing



Excellent post; you sum up what most of us have felt for a long time. I just added you to favorites.

And Richard Riley's post was excellent as well. Except it's "roles."



Inspiriting, sapient and, frankly, so superbly done as to be humbling. Thank you.



Oh. My. God. Good.



Well, that's that. I have no choice but to add you to my list of favorites and check out your site everyday.

Thank you for a wonderful thought piece, and for elucidating so well many of the angry thoughts that begin to richochet in my skull when I read the skull-busting political pronouncements of the latest 'People' magazine cover star.



Wonderful, witty piece! I'm adding this to my favorites.



Great piece, but I have a little nitpick with Richard Riley's comments regarding Alec Baldwin: He did play a major role in 'State and Main'- as an assholish pedeophile actor. He was perfect for the part and did it really convincingly.



Best thing I've read in a while.Definitely adding to my favorites.Sean Penn had the opportunity to make a great contribution to his fellow countrymen by going to Iraq...and staying there.



The sad thing is, you can keep the rest of these people, but I actually really LIKE Alec Baldwin in movies. I thought he was the best Jack Ryan, and I thought he did (the only) great job in PEARL HARBOR. The guys seems bright, articulate, all-American, handsome, and WRONG. All he has to do is work on that last 20% and all will be forgiven! I'M bright, articulate, all-American and handsome, and I did it! How hard can it be?

Barbra, Warren and Woody, however -- they are beyond hope.



Is there a list of non-left actors & actresses? The only ones i can think of off the top of my head are like Heston, Schwarzenneggar, Stallone, and Eastwood. And of course, Reagen. Seems like the new crop are total fecktards though...



I agree. It really hurt when someone whose work you enjoy makes such a public ass of themselves you can no longer accept doing anything that might put money in their pocket.

I have all of Sheryl Crow's releases except the most recent, and I'm afraid it's going to stay that way.

At least I can watch old Babylon 5 episodes knowing where most of that cast stood on certain subjects.



Oops, forgot to enter my name on that last post. Most places wouldn't let me make an entry with no ID.

A few years ago P.J. O'Rourke compiled a book called 'The Enemies List' detailing the worst left-wing offenders. I think it's time for a new edition.



Celebrites:
I had the pleasure of having dinner with Sam Elliot and my good friend Joe Galloway during launching of their film We Were Soldiers. Sam was the epitomy of humbleness, good grace and is in person exactly as portrayed in most of his film roles. A pleasure to be around, and stood for hours signing autographs.

In a strange twist of fate, Woody Harleson is from my hometown, Midland, Texas as is his polar opposite, your President GW Bush. Go figger.



Bill,

Been busy of late, but just got a chance to read your latest. Beautiful. And you nailed the carrier business perfectly. I can remember being directed around the flight deck at 0200 on a pitch black night by some of these 18 and 19 year olds. They are the salt of this country.
Keep up the superb work.



Maybe we should just make sure that our population is sufficiently educated that they don't follow anyone blindly, that they question anyone's arguments - politicians', celebrities', Bill Whittle's - rigorously?

Then we wouldn't need to wring our hands so tiresomely about what celebrities were saying...

H.



I have to agree with you there, Hank. When was the last time you heard ANYONE get called out as uninformed in the media? I think we've been nurturing a cultural flaw, and feel like we have to take everyone's views seriously, regardless of how ignorant or badly thought out they might be. Ignorance should not be tolerated, but it is. People feel no need to educate themselves before forming opinion, and that is the epitome of asinine. I think it's the chief flaw of most of these anti-war people- they simply don't know any better, and the people who convince them are the ones who roll out the tear jerking 'arguments.' You know, war is bad, save the children, and on and on. How else could a buffoon like Al Sharpton stay in the news? I've met more informed people in line waiting to get into the bathroom. Make me a logical, step by step argument like this one: http://www.nationalreview.com/robbins/robbins012203.asp and I'll listen to any viewpoint.

Sorry to be the speed bump in the unending and well deserved praise of your commentary, but I feel many of your points are not celebrity specific. Incredible writing though, I shall avert my eyes in reverence. Kudos.



I'd have to add that it's not just Hollyweird, either. Anyone remember a few years ago when that @$$#ole baseball player threw a firecracker into a crowd for fun? (I keep thinking it was one of those big honkin' firecrackers, but I can't state it with certainty.) He got community service. If you or I had done it, we'd be getting out of prison any day now.

Why do we insist on giving ANY celebrity special treatment? Toss 'em in prison, and grab the next one. (And then we create shows to make new stars! ARGH!)



Genius, pure genius. Your writings are like a beam of light searing through the fog of crap and lies I read elsewhere! Keep up the good work!



One more time: Well said and so true!
This won't be the only time I stop by.



I'm adding you to my daily list of must reads. Thanks for speaking out loud about this idiocy.

I have stopped listening to anything about celebrities. I don't want to know anything about them; I've been disappointed so many times. It began consciously when whoeveritwas went before a congressional committee on farming - because she played a farmer in a movie. (And this says what about congress!) This happens all the time now and I can't for the life of me figure out why. How did anyone come to the conclusion that just because an actor plays a role that they have, somehow, becme an expert in the subject, to be listened to over an actual expert. Who decides such things?

I also agree that we have bred this into the society by our socially-engineered, educationist establishment. Our children are not taught critical thought - they are taught what to think, as opposed to how to think. This has gone on for several generaltions now and we are seeing the results in the form of Woody and Barbara and Alec, and all those who put credence in thoughtless jingoism. In fact, thoughtlessness -- real, unapologetic, alogical, amoral, follow-the-leader thoughtlessness, seems to be the common-demoninator among these folks. (One thing the internet has done for me, though, is show me that there are still those who have managed to think through the claptrap they were indoctrinated with in school. It has given me a tremendous boost in morale -- and hope for the future.)

Oh, and add Tom Selleck to the list of good guys. His one "activist" role has been with "Character Counts." Perhaps the others could take the course.



White House staffers has said that her Royal Highness Hillary also had standing orders that no one make eye contact with her. This rule has reportedly been carried into the Senate as well, though she can't dictate the behavior of every staffer wandering the halls there.



Excellent post, Mr. Whittle.

I have a humble addendum:

Whither Hollywood?, or Salma doesn’t ‘Koootchie Koootchie Koo”



I want to kiss you for making a post that clearly defines reality and human nature...and good vs bad.



I usually don't write merely to say, "Wonderful post!" In this case, though, well, what else is there to say?



"Add To Favorites", without a doubt.

"Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not." - Aragorn, played by Viggo Mortensen, "The Two Towers".

Apparently, Viggo is lacking in both long- and short-term memory, as he does not seem to recall September 11th, 2001, or one of his own lines, used over and over in the film's incessant promotion. He seems incapable of recognizing the most obvious implications of even the most overt world events, or to appreciate the irony of one of his signature character's seminal lines. (Yes, I realize that much of the LOTR film trilogy was already in the can before 9/11, but presumable, VM saw the film at at least ONE of its gala premier events!).

But what should we expect? in addition to the sensory depravation facilitated by the coccoon, (that you so eloquently described!), that this "royalty" substitutes for intestinal fortitude and personal responsibility, these are among the least-educated people in our society. Oh, some few attended schools of some note, (often notably leftist institutions - perfect incubators for their coccoon's first weavings), but they usually majored in "DRAMA" - oh, sorry! - "THEATRE". The avoidance of Reality's sometimes grave, often subtle consequences is not only allowed, not only encouraged, but actively TAUGHT to people so naive and malleable as to cause a hypnotist's sheets to greet the morning sticky.

Jimmy Stewart? OF COURSE! A modern-day equivalent? Okay, perhaps a bit of a stretch, but if you allow modern-day professional athletes somewhat equal consideration as celebrities of dubious worthiness, then I would call your attention, (or more likely, simply remind you), of Pat Tillman, a multi-million dollar per year defensive back for the NFL's Arizona Cardinals, who passed on even more millions over a multi-year contract last year in order to ATTEMPT to qualify for one of America's elite fighting units, (forgive me, but I cannot recall which: SEALS, Special Forces, or Rangers). No guarantees, no free pass, and this professional-caliber athlete chucked an EIGHT-figure sure thing income for just a CHANCE at the most dangerous underpaid job to be found.

Stand Viggo, Sean, Sheryl, Warren, Barbra, Woody, et al, side-to-side with Pat Tillman, or with ANY of the thousands that would place their fragile flesh between us and the very darkest this world has to offer, and do a quick comparison. Which hold true nobility, humilty, courage, and sense of purpose, and which are the papier mache, hollow, SHALLOW souls?

Bill, you've distilled 200-proof righteous indignation from those vague little pangs of doubt or not-so-vague overall disgust we all feel while watching Meryl Streep whining to a congressional commitee about the evils of alar on apples, or George Clooney doing his signature, affected little neck-twist/tick while joking about Charlton Heston having recently anounced his Alzheimer's to the public - again, mind you! Get it? - on Charlie Rose's crappy little talk show. I cannot adequately express my appreciation of, or gratitude for your marvelously-expressed viewpoints. You are articulate, thoughtful, and meticulous in your writing and so sweetly-vicious in your sarcasm - Truly a breath of fresh air in a PC-encumbered world. Keep up the good work!



Great post.

I've got another example for you, this morning, I was on the crosstrainer in the gym, watching MTV out of boredom: first comes the all-american diva singing that she is "still the same old..." blah blah and then comes a segment with Moby (an ad? a paid for editorial? it never said!)
His message of importance to all who watch MTV: Bush wants the war for only 3 reasons, 1. oil, 2. to set up a puppet stat in a region of strategic mportance, 3. GWB needs an issue!
Now I am personally as yet undecided whether war is really the only option, but still, I almost fell off the damned machine!
Where does MTV get off showing this kind of propoganda without some kind of disclaimer, or even a quick voice saying that this is the opinion of some guy called Moby and nothing more?
No wonder our children are getting dumber by the day.



In the early 70s, Harlan Ellison wrote of the appalling inability of a large portion of the general populace to distinguish fact from fiction. He cited multiple cases of actors being confused with their characters (particularly in regards to hate mail) and ended with the case of a newscaster committing suicide on live television.

A quick look today, thirty years later, shows that much hasn't changed... there are literally hundreds of people attempting to book vacations to fictional places such as Hogwarts or Rivendell (including a group of people attempting to go to Mordor because they "want to help.")

With so many people having difficulties of this sort, is it any wonder that there are those who look to actors for political wisdom... or that there are actors who *believe* that if they wish something hard enough, it will become true?



Stopped by again to read up .I've been sending this to everyone I know.Great stuff,Bill.
How about a new game show?
CELEBRITY HUMAN SHIELD.Talk about a survivor series!



*claps*

This must be spread. Superb job.



Mr. Durbin, that business about people wanting to go to Mordor...that cannot possibly be TRUE?

Can it?

If you could find a link to that I would be happy to grant you lifetime free access to the comments section.

=)



It is heartening that this essay is so well received. I personally tuned out on celebrity policyspeak decades ago, as well as celebrity tracking, to the extent that I do not recognize the names of some included in the essay. Take my word for it, in this area ignorance is bliss. Some twit "stars" in a movie about some perceived injustice and subsequently is summoned before a Congressional committee for expert testimony. This is a destructive national sickness. I don't care what you think, I want to know what you know. If you don't know anything...shut up.



Confused Travellers Seek Holidays in Mordor.



Absolutely brilliant!!

'nuff said.



This is fabulous!!



Great stuff Bill. I do agree with other commenters that there is a downside to lefty stars going public with their idiocy, also see Susan Sarandon. Whether this overcomes the Hollywood liberal cocoon or simply means their idiocy will stay underwraps we'll have to see. But the problem goes beyond the talent. Studio heads et al foment & favor the idiocy, at least up to a point. I do think there is hope as there seems to be more than 1 or 2 sensible conservatives out there among actors/actresses. Can't think of any directors/studio heads though.



Bravo!! Ditto to everything above.

The only thing to add is that we can add Bo Derek to "our side" and I think Gerald McRaney and his wife (name slips me at the moment) are sympathetic.



Bill, your original draft was by no means too long. Perhaps the attention spans of those that criticized it were simply too short! LOL Is there any way you could make the original "Director's Cut" available to those of us willing to devote 20% more time to enjoy 20% extra insight, salience and good humor?



Yes, that would be great.



Thanks guys, but I think not. I don't like this version because it's shorter, I like it because it's BETTER.



As a first-time reader, I found a whole lot of questions answered in a voice ringing as clear as a bell on Sunday morning. Thanks to you, sir, and thanks to my brother Sam for sending this to me.

Joy



As usual, TREMENDOUS!



I share your disdain for Woody Harrelson. He's a good example that if you
don't start out with sufficient brain matter, cannabis can impair some high
level thought capabilities as well as leading to amotivational syndrome and
very tangential thought processes.

That being said, I'd be happy to challenge Woody to a tokedown. As the
inventor of the Hydraulic Bong (US. Pat. # 4,253,475) I have some
credentials in that area. Of course it might be a buzzkill for Woody to
find out that not everyone who shares his taste in recreational drugs hates
this country.



Bill,

Numbers are a slippery thing:

"Actually, it’s about 3% -- but hey, three percent, fifty percent – let’s not split hairs. On to more in-depth factual analysis…"

You are correct to associate 3% with military spending, but it is 3% of GDP, not taxes (Please note that during the cold war this number got as into the double digits, and now should be a little closer to 4%).

If Woody could rub to ganglia together I might think he would observe that it is near 50% (I actually think it is more like a 33%, but what's a third among friends) of the descretionary budget (which removes lttle things like social security). Of course it would never occur to him that a large chunck of that number is pensions for those who have served, and va hospitals.

And of course he used the term taxes, well that would have to include state and local taxes. If you look at defense as percentage of total taxes then it's quite a bit smaller.

I admit to being too lazy to go do the research to find the precise numbers (I am more interested in saving people on their personal taxes, and I am just starting my practice), but I am confident some reader of the the blog could tease out the numbers.



BUSTED!

Phil, thank you. I'll send you a cookie in the mail.

I did indeed mistake defense spending as a percentage of GDP versus the percentage of our tax dollars. If anyone actually CAN tell me what that tax percentage is, I would appreciate it greatly and fix that line, even though it will make it weaker.

I have always contended that we need to be scrupulously honest on this side of the table. I believe that because I believe facts are on our side. Chasing the facts led me to being a Conservative, and not the other way around, so I'd like to get 'em right and anywone who can help me on this would have my deep appreciation.



Bill,

I am grateful for your essays, and in some ways more grateful for a forum where getting the correct answer is more important than being correct, and where honest discourse is valued.

BTW I like chocolate chip ;-)



Source: Heritage Foundation
Discretionary spending 2002:
Non defense: 377 billion
Defense: 340 billion

In terms of inflation adjusted dollars, from 1960 to 2002 defense spending went from 75% of discretionary spending to about 48%.

2002 Federal revenue is as follows:
1.78 trillion in total revenue
838 billion in individual income tax
139 billion in corporate income tax.

Defense spending is about 19% of total Federal Revenue, 40% of individual tax revenue and 35% of total income tax revenue.

So let's Fisk Woody.

"I read in a paper here about a woman who held out the part of her taxes that would go to the war effort. Something like 17%. I like that idea, though in the US it would have to be more like 50%."

The operant phrase is "the part of her taxes that would go to the war effort".

The war effort. I take that to mean the cost of a war with Iraq. Unless Woody is going to claim that every penny of the defense budget is going to spent on the war, none of the percentages above can even come close to 50%.

This is one of those things that is so easy for a journalist to check and challenge but you never see it in a celebrity interview.



I want _MORE_ of _MY_ money to be spent on the military and on the War effort. And if that means that _I_ (yes, I must put my money where my mouth is, no kidding) must pay more taxes, then so be it. Our soldiers are, after all, laying their _lives_ on the line to keep me free, so I'm _not_ going to be stingy with my money. And, no, I'm not a millionaire or even close, I'm in the lower income brackets. (Though the lower brackets in the USA are riches compared to the middle brackets in most of the rest of the world. Indoor plumbing, wall-to-wall carpeting, the Internet, luxuries beyond belief.)



Thank you, Phil and Ronny, for doing my work for me.

I'm going to pull those few lines from the essay immediaitely.

I would also like to take a moment to publicly apologize to Mr. Harrelson for this error, because it looks like he was pretty much right and I was certainly wrong.



You said so much, but you didn't really say anything at all.

So sad, really. You conservatives and thinking all liberals are stupid because they don't have the same opinion as you.

I'm so glad you have all these people here kissing your ass. You're all witless automotons that think and act just as your government tells you to. Try making an opinion for yourself for once.



My, my, Sil!
You come onto this board and accuse the author of a fine essay of not "saying anything at all", then posit that conservatives think liberals are stupid because they don't agree with conservative opinion. Then in a delicious mixture of irony and hypocrisy wrapped in hilarious piety, you launch a blanket, very personal attack on all that DO agree with the conservative viewpoint expressed by the author, and thus implicitly disagree with you.

No, Sil, it isn't that all conservatives think that all liberals are stupid because they don't embrace conservative ideas and ideals. It could be rightly posited, however, that many conservatives would likely characterize a liberal so oblivious as to present himself as you just did as being stupid, but only if they were in a charitable mood.

Of course, that is just my opinion...and I made it all by myself.

Thank you for the chuckle, and for pushing a stereotype ever closer to coronation as an undeniable truism.



Sil's comments sound like an ice cube in Antarctica calling a supernova cold. It is precisely because I think for myself that I totally oppose Political Correctness and reject all its shibboleths. As for trusting the government, I don't. That's why I oppose gun control.



Three points:
1. I’ve stopped watching the actors’ comments after a DVD movie. It kills the magic. They sound so fatuous that you realize they’re just actors.
2. I’m saddened by Sil’s hostile comments. I feel like most liberals really HATE conservatives. I don’t think the opposite is true. I think many conservatives started out idealistic liberals like me. And we still sympathize occasionally to liberal causes. We’ve matured but they’re afraid to lose their identity. It’s a religion to them.
3. Add actor, Ron Silver, to you list of good guys. He confronted EU president Patrick Cox for blasting the US as imperialists at the Davos, Switzerland economic conference this week. According to the Wall Street Journal, Silver said that…” if it weren’t for the US, hundreds of thousands more civilians would have died in the Balkans, while Europe sat idly by. The US had no other interest in that region than humanitarian. We are not an imperial government, Mr. Cox. You know that and everyone here knows that.” Cox in typical liberal bluster replied, “just don’t go down that road my friend. That is a burden you and your children don’t need”. What kind of answer is that? That’s something Sil in #2 would say.



Well, said, Seele. To you, to Bill, and to other liberal-to-conservative converts, is the conversion, (evolution?), really so surprising or really a 180º change of direction? I have always believed that the only means to achieve or realize a liberal ideal would of necessity be conservative in nature. Any thoughts?



On the subject of conversions, I'm reminded of something Sir Winston Churchill said (I cannot remember the exact wording so forgive my paraphrasing)
"A young man who is not a liberal has no heart. A middle-aged man who is not a conservative has no brain."

That pretty well sums up the difference, I think, as well as the process of 'conversion'.

Orion



Oh, and one other observation, Seele, (not being stricken with a case of "Tinsley", I'll try not to devour too much more bandwidth!). You related Mr. Silver's tussle with the "EU President". I had to chuckle, as I equate that title with that of Admiral of the Nebraska Navy; both actual titles, (Really! NOT a USN commision, of course.), and both lacking of the very things that would define and validate them. The Admiral - no ocean and no Navy, the EU president - no actual democratic electorate, an no real power in the world.



To Solly,
Wow, you’re right. What right minded person wouldn’t agree with noble, liberal ideals? Clean air, racial harmony, peace, etc. Maybe conservatism is the way to meet those ideals. We’re not so mean-spirited after all.



I'll put it my own harsh way: "If you were not a Leftist when you're 20, you probably had no heart. If you're still a Leftist when you're 40, you surely have no head. If you're still a Leftist after 9/11/2001, you obviously have neither heart, nor head, nor guts."



"Rightists" or non-"Leftists" today include Christopher Hitchens, Andrew Sullivan, Camille Paglia, and Pim Fortuyn (murdered for his Politically Incorrect views).



It's also been said that a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged. This whole country, the United States of America, was mugged on September 11, 2001. The nations of Europe will be next.



Re: the Nebraska Navy: Hungary, entirely land-locked, was once ruled by an Admiral Horthy.



Actually, I'm a conservative largely precisely because I am a liberal, as was Pim Fortuyn of the Netherlands. Fortuyn was a homosexual who favored legalization of drugs and supported women's equal rights. In order to conserve those and the other freedoms of his free country (a monarchy, by the way -- I wrote something about that in Rachel's thread on democracies and republics), he found it necessary to be a conservative. He spoke out against the unchecked immigration into his country of Muslims who were hostile to all liberal values, and for this he was smeared as a fascist, and then murdered.



Most of what today's "Leftover Left" advocates now cannot be called liberal at all: Political Correctness, speech codes (censorship), gun control, racial quotas and preferences, appeasement of tyrants...



One of my favorite political heroes is Linda Chavez. Once a liberal Democrat, she found the only way to meet her goals was to become a Republican conservative.



I confess that I didn’t really know Ron Silver, the actor, so I looked up his bio. He has a long list of credits and at the end it said he’s an outspoken advocate for liberal causes. This is good news to us conservatives. It means that some liberal actors are not America haters and even see our side of the war issue. Let’s keep him on the good guy list.



Seele, any chance it was Joel Silver, the producer?

And Steven - Then our local farce has an historical precedence! Thanks much!



Sorry Solly, it's Ron Silver.



Hi, Seele!

Yeesh! It was Ron Silver who expressed four-letter contempt for the military during an Air Force flyover at Benedict Clinton's first inauguration in 1993. He was placated by another liberal semi-celeb, (no doubt sharing Viagra-like excitement with all the leftist Hollywood elites brought in by the Thomasons for this first B.S. staged event), who cackled, "No, Ron! It's OK! Those are OUR jets now!"

It looks as if Silver's defense of American actions in the Balkans might be a case of the proverbial "Blind squirrel" finally finding his "acorn". (Not to be cynical, but I tend to wonder whether Mr. Silver would have made the same defense had US actions in the former Yugoslavia not occured during Clinton's shameful tenure).



I'm 80 and an old, uncompliant vet of ww2 I've just discovered you. After reading the exhaustive and exhausting last two of your essays my fear that never again would I encounter an essayist who streches 3 bagger opinions into home runs every AB has been proved false. I hope you're under 30 and there are more like you out there ready to speak up. We live in an age of soaring narcissism. You crack mirrors, my good friend. Keep cracking.



Rankism in this country is disqusting, celebritys being the most obvious example. The larger picture though is that our society is so focused on one's position. Teachers over students, doctors over patients, politicians placating their constituents, etc, etc. What can we expect though when we are run by our egos!



Dear Solly: You're quite welcome!



Mr. Whitehead:
Thank you, sir, for your service to our country, and for the freedom I have known all of my life. Men like you, my father, and countless others paid so dear a price. I will always strive to never forget those sacrifices nor to take my freedom and security for granted. My children will know, whether the schools will teach them or not.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on issues presented in this forum. Such richness of experience and historical insight will carry considerable weight, I believe.



Bill,
This is one of the best I've ever read. You are definitely at the top of my daily reads list.

In regards to the aforementioned Latin diva...as someone once said, "the eyes are the windows to one's soul". She probably doesn't want anyone to see how shallow or self-indulgent she is.



Add Patricia Heaton - who plays hottie Deborah on "Everybody Loves Raymond" - to our friends list. One of her recent comments (paraphrased)- On Barbra: "When I die and stand in judgement, it won't be Barbra Streisand I'll be answering to." Also, she was to present an award at the AMA, but walked out before presenting after the Osbournes' filthy rant, an actress' shirt was ripped off, and some other distasteful incident I can't recall.



No sympathy for American celebrities...

But no sympathy towards the warlike moron you Americans put into office, either. Much less towards men like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

Saddam is a genocidal tyrant, that is fact. However, Dubya is a greedy bastard and a puppet to the Pentagon and the oil industry. For the time being, I'll reckon lil' Bush is the least of two evils...

But if you expect us to believe this war is about human rights, and NOT about economics first and foremost, you are severely underestimating the intelligence of the international community.

So just admit it. America is sending its soldiers half a world away from their homes, so they can kill Iraqi soldiers and civilians alike in order to make their masters richer and fatter.

The world is rife with tyrants and oppressors who might have so-called "Weapons of Mass Destruction". If the USA are going to claim the mantle of "policemen of the world", why start with Iraq, not Ruwanda for instance? Perhaps because Ruwanda has no oil for plundering?

The world is also rife with potential terrorist hideouts. Why start with Iraq? Why not Indonesia?

1. Oil. The Bush clan, and their henchmen (Dick Cheney for one), have built their fortunes on oil.

2. Internal politics. American presidents are fond of starting wars when they look incompetent in running internal affairs.

3. Vendetta. "This is the man who tried to kill my daddy."

So. Get a grip.



O Brave and Courageous "Anonymous".

"But no sympathy towards the warlike moron you Americans put into office, either. Much less towards men like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld."

SO original! Are you ACTUALLY suggesting that President George W. Bush isn't SMART? I have NEVER heard ANYONE say such a thing!

You have seen through the evil Bush's deception so easily! The degree from Yale? The MBA from Harvard? The military pilot certification? The Governorship of Texas? Winning the Presidency? All mere ruses to lull the stupid, lazy American public to sleep. Not so our savors in "the international community"!

Men like Cheney and Rumsfeld? You mean borderline geniuses, respected by all, foreign and domestic, knowledgeable beyond any credible question, and feared by all enemies of the United States? AH! Again they DECEIVE by cultivating these trappings of competence and respect, the better to deceive us! And then the moron enlists their assistance. It all becomes clear! How could we have missed it?

"Saddam is a genocidal tyrant, that is fact."

No! REALLY??? All we hear in America is government propaganda. I see now that there is a tiny kernel of truth amidst the endless lies, as you have confirmed this under-emphasized aspect of Hussein's personality.

"However, Dubya is a greedy bastard and a puppet to the Pentagon and the oil industry."

So, the Pentagon ORDERED Bush to order all those soldiers, airmen, and sailors to the Persian Gulf? And the American oil industry WANTS a huge foreign-held reserve open and flooding the market, in order to drive their prices down? Wow, that's so shrewd of them! They hide their desire to make money by the bushel by losing it by the barrel. Brilliant! No wonder no one else had thought of that, or leveled this serious charge! Truly, you have a unique intellect!

"For the time being, I'll reckon lil' Bush is the least of two evils..."

Yes, a President that only has the personal respect of 75-80% of his constituency, 65-70% of whom approve of his actions and policies regarding Iraq can only be trusted so far.

"But if you expect us to believe this war is about human rights, and NOT about economics first and foremost, you are severely underestimating the intelligence of the international community."

OH, perish the THOUGHT! ALL Americans KNOW that the "international community" is head and shoulders above us in intelligence! We see them attending classes at our Universities every day!

And a war should NEVER have any economic ramifications or motivations whatsoever! Oil is a wholly unimportant resource in the world, and if a mania from Tikrit wants to irradiate 1/3 of the known oil fields of the earth, then where is the harm?

You are correct; no American cares at all about the suffering Iraqi people, or is the least bit concerned with the well-being of any of Iraq's neighbors. After all, the United States NEVER tries to avoid civilian casualties, or wastes precious money on smart bombs or laser-guided ordinance to serve so trivial a purpose. No, we just carpet-bomb anything and everything, aiming specifically for schools, hospitals, orphanages, mosques, and any stray cripples hobbling about. If only the enlightened illuminati of the "international community" could curb our wicked, trigger-happy ways!

"So just admit it. America is sending its soldiers half a world away from their homes, so they can kill Iraqi soldiers and civilians alike in order to make their masters richer and fatter."

Yes! YES! You are absolutely correct! Please, please, PLEASE, won't YOU be our new master? We cannot see the wisdom of your vision without your divine assistance! Our mean, nasty soldiers, bred in secret, and trained only to kill, will indeed set forth to slaughter any brownish-skinned person indiscriminately. They are under strict orders to bring back scalps, too, to lie at the feet of their masters, proof positive of their mindless devotion.

"The world is rife with tyrants and oppressors who might have so-called "Weapons of Mass Destruction". If the USA are going to claim the mantle of "policemen of the world", why start with Iraq, not Ruwanda for instance? Perhaps because Ruwanda has no oil for plundering?"

Again, your wisdom knows no BOUNDS! Yes! The machetes and burning tires used in the genocidal tribal warfare in Rwanda are a FAR greater risk to the entire world at large than these trifling biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons the United States is wickedly trying to prevent Hussein from acquiring. And you are right! If there was ANOTHER foreign oil source that could be tapped to drive down the price of American oil, then surely, we would be landing in Rwanda even now!

Of course, America COULD just take the oil fields and colonize the region for the oil, just like we did....when....wait, I'm sure there is an example...oh, well, I am SURE that you know of MANY examples of American imperialism, O Light of Wisdom and Salvation!

"The world is also rife with potential terrorist hideouts. Why start with Iraq? Why not Indonesia?"

You are like unto a GOD in your wisdom! Yes! Indonesia! Of course! How COULD the United States be so blind? Of course, though the evidence connecting the terrorists that attacked the United States on September 11th, 2001 clearly pointed to Afghanistan, and now to Iraq, we MUST NOT ignore the larger issues of Indonesia and Rwanda. Self-defense, retribution for our own slain, and the prevention of further attacks from the same sources are secondary concerns compared to these two tiny nations, isolated and without the means to project force beyond their borders. Our priorities are skewed beyond any repair, save by your infinite wisdom!

"1. Oil. The Bush clan, and their henchmen (Dick Cheney for one), have built their fortunes on oil."

Yes, so SHREWD of Cheney to have sold his Halliburton stock when the Democrats FIRST complained about his possessing them, rather than right before his inauguration. Than way, he made only half of what he could have, thus allaying suspicion. But you saw through that SO EASILY!

And Bush with demonic cleverness, despite his OBVIOUS stupidity, managed to first LOSE millions in oil before parlaying a small deal into partial ownership of the Texas Rangers baseball team, waiting until market forces increased the team's value, and then selling his shares at a hefty profit, representing more than 90% of his personal wealth, (Not to mention marrying that rich librarian!). SO tricky to have converted all of that lost money from his failed oil ventures into millions in profit from the sale of a baseball team. You are again near-omniscient to have unmasked so devious a plot.

"2. Internal politics. American presidents are fond of starting wars when they look incompetent in running internal affairs."

Yes! The tiny 67% approval of Bush's tax cut plan make him look like the bumbling clown you have revealed him to be! His suggestion of $15 billion for AIDS relief in Africa is obviously just another ploy for oil. Those cheering crowds wherever he goes are obvious secret police plants, the way all in his cabinet speak with one voice, and all of those high approval numbers show clearly that his internal affairs are in complete disorder.

"3. Vendetta. "This is the man who tried to kill my daddy." "

Indeed, THAT is what it's all about, isn't it? No regard at all for anyone or anything but himself, his own selfish, greedy, mean-spirited, racist, sexist, homophobic, and above all STUPID desires! Surely, the "international community is even now mustering at the borders of the United States to bring down this awful tyrant? The American military and its cowboy citizenry will surely throw down their weapons as soon as they see liberation approaching in powder-blue United Nations berets!

"So. Get a grip."

Indeed, "SO". That says it all. You have made an airtight, unassailable case, supported by overwhelming citation of evidence and history, leaving no room for any alternate conclusions or denial of the reality you define so perfectly for us all. Only through your wisdom can we lowly Americans even know WHAT it is that we need to "grip", let alone actually "Get" it.

Holy crap! It is so hard to try to make a troll feel important when they give you so little to work with! Come on now, "Anonymous" a good troll can at least make up some asinine drivel to shoot down! You need to try harder!

And you should come up with a clever, kitschy little troll handle, like "Bush-Wacker" or "Truth Patrolman". It would make you so much more credible, and people would probably not even check the "facts" you made up to support your viewpoint.

You must be from the "Old Europe"; the "Rhine & Cheese", "Axis of Weasels" - pick your own favorite from these accurate labels.

And again, your evidence to support this otherwise wholly ad hominem attack? There simply isn't any. You are just another mindless, soul-less cowardly little parrot, squawking the leftist manifesto, line-by-line, aren't you?

For crying out loud, you walking cliché...even the dense-as-lead Terry McAuliffe stopped trying the "Bush is Dumb" garbage after the Dems got their collective ass waxed last November.

Likewise the "Cheney-got-rich-on-oil" byline, and essentially everything you've trotted out here. Couldn't you at least try SOMETHING we haven't all heard somewhere else before?

You are a pathetic little wiggler, really, as this is probably the very best you could do. I am sure that you thought, "Boy, I sure showed THEM!", as you hit "post", then returned to your otherwise round-the-clock masturbatory rituals. No doubt the glee you felt at this DEVASTATING piece you had just authored made your self-loving all the more explosive. Perhaps that is the "grip" YOU got?

But thank you, sincerely, for providing yet ANOTHER object lesson for all. You help to solidify the contempt Americans have for those that refer to us as "you americans", and then laud the greater virtues of "the international community". That you believe yourselves to be so significant is the most hilarious aspect, really. But you're really just sheep in the wilderness, destined to be another's meal.

But don't worry, the United States will again step forward, and keep you safe and free to revile us. For now, as I have advised all those like you, (and you really ARE all exactly the same, genius!):

Before the war starts, SHUT UP. During the war, STAY THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY. After the war, muster the grace to thank us for once again doing what your own cowardice and moral bankruptcy prevent from doing yourselves. The United States and all nations that share in the ideals that make men free will provide enough Courage, Honor, and Dignity for you and your quivering ilk to hide behind yet again.

Not to worry, the shadow cast by the Victors will be long and deep and lasting enough so that you will be able slink away unnoticed and irrelevant...AGAIN.



Solly,

You neglected to mention the slave-states (where we installed puppet governments after our secret soldiers invaded and replaced their real governments with computer-controlled clones) who are so slavishly backing us -
The United Kingdom. Ireland. Portugal. Spain. Italy. Hungary. Slovakia & Slovenia. Hungary. Latvia. Lithuania. Estonia. Poland. Australia. And all the others.

But now, our plot has been exposed. Our ignorance cast into the brutal spotlight of the inteligentisa of the world. Our insatiable blood-lust revealed for all to see.

I know when I was in Army ROTC we had classes in how best to disect our fallen enemies - which parts to send back to Washington (scalp, genitals) and which parts made the best trophys (gall bladder, teeth). We also always closed with a prayer that we would soon be sent into combat - as we all known, American soldiers just LOVE being sent into battle. It's what we live for.

Well, I suppose now that it's all out in the open there's nothing left to do but as you suggest - allow our clear intellectual superiors, these moral supermen such as 'anonymous' to come and lead us into the light. To teach us civilization. To come and rebuild our corrupt and decadent nation.

Thank God for Europe - where WOULD we be without them to show us?

Orion

PS: Im watching 'Krishna' in Bangladore, India shattering 1000 flourescent light tubes with his bare chest while riding a bicycle - for world peace. Of course. Why didn't WE think of that? Perhaps 'anonymous' will reveal other such methods to us soon. We can only await his wisdom.



While I rather enjoyed the article and praise the author for his clear-headed and refreshingly realistic perspective on the world, I must take issue with some of the responses to the article offered here.

Unfortunately, for all their eloquence, intelligence, and essential beauty, articles like the one above often generate feedback that is hateful, slanderous, and all too often filled with generalizations and "umbrella statements" that do nothing but further a sense of antagonism and general hostility. Solly, for example, takes the opportunity in his January 22 comment to attack the hundreds of thousands of working actors around the globe, granting that while some of them went to college, these were second-rate schools, and besides, the wastes of skin majored in "THEATRE" (sorry to all; didn't mean to swear in this post) and thus are useless human beings. I acknowledge that this was not the primary focus of Solly's comment, but, being an American theatre student at a second-rate college with intentions of going into the useless and overrated entertainment industry, I found the attitude put forth in that post to be terribly caustic and hurtful in a "What did I ever do to you?" sort of way.

The comments degenerated over time. Between the obligatory "God, that was great"s and "Nice article"s, there soon appeared incidents of right attacking left and vice versa, and "all you guys are wrong" and "you're a mindless automaton" and the like, none of it any more impressive than "You're a damn communist," or other such unqualified insults. It's truly a shame to see what the party system of politics does to people. But that's another issue entirely.

In conclusion, I can only say that it is heartening to see an opinionist who will publish his essays in spite of the inevitable hatred and uninformed debate it will spawn. That kind of courage is sorely needed in today's world. Here's to self-determination.



Cameron...
Bill's article centered exclusively upon "Hollywood" celebrities, which was also the sole focus of my discontent. I also sarcastically dubbed them "royalty" prior to asserting their moral or educational inadequacies to address many issues substantively, in order to sharpen that focus upon this particular demographic.

I by no means took an".. opportunity...to attack the hundreds of thousands of working actors around the globe", nor did I call anyone at all a "waste of skin" of "useless human beings". That those were your inferences is unfortunate, but no such statements were so broad, nor any such intention implied.

Further, I did not deem any and all schools offering a course of study in "Theatre" as "second-rate". I noted that some of the Hollywood glitterati did, in fact attend very prestigious schools. Not everyone can, not everyone does, in any field of endeavor.

That is enough space devoted to what I did NOT say, Cameron. Your inferences are somewhat worrisome in that they suggest that you harbor either a predisposition toward victimhood or insecurity in your selection of vocation. As I would tend to doubt either to be the case, allow me to elaborate somewhat, to narrow the field of my focus even further.

It is not particularly the actors, singers, models themselves, Cameron. They are the proverbial tree in the forest; if no one is there to hear, then whether or not a sound is made is irrelevant. It is the fawning treatment this "royalty" receives, the platform that their fame affords them, and the credibility they have not earned but are nonetheless given that I find galling.

Celebrities such as those mentioned are NOT generally highly educated people in any classical sense, Cameron, but that is not the point. As an example, take a well-published PhD in Theoretical Physics and a renowned Neurosurgeon. Neither is a fool, both are in fact extremely intelligent, but they are NOT interchangeable. Earnest as their efforts might be, you would not want the physicist to perform brain surgery on you, nor would you want the neurosurgeon to calculate the proper fuel mix for an experimental fusion reactor. As the old saying goes, "How dumb you are depends on where you're standing".

A classically-trained actor may well be skilled in literature and method and production and any number of matters relevant to the theatre, television, or movie-making. Outside of that skill set, regardless of whether their University was prestigious or "second-rate", the balance of their studies are the same "Gen-Ed" courses EVERYONE takes. And so, an actor is no more or less qualified to speak intelligently on governmental, geopolitical, scientific, economic, or medical matters than anyone else on campus that does not specialize in these specific topics.

However, unrelated accomplishments on stage, on screen, on fashion runway, or in athletic arenas grant celebrities access to media outlets that are unavailable to those of eminently higher qualification, but whose "Q-rating" is simply too low. Who would speak more knowledgably on geopolitical happenings, a graduate of Harvard's Theatre department, or a graduate of its Political Science department?

Cameron, these celebrities know no more than you or I on most matters outside of their craft. Neither her educational background nor having played the part of a farmer's wife qualified Jessica Lange to speak to a Congressional committee about soil depletion, alternative crops, or agricultural subsidies, but SHE DID. Her celebrity allowed her to be a mouthpiece for a special interest, (read "Useful idiot"). She learned her lines, and was asked no substantive questions, (I would have LOVED to have heard her attempt to answer ONE!).

When Michael J. Fox addressed a Congressional committee on Parkinson's disease, it was a different matter altogether. Fox lives with the disease every day of his life, and needs no prompting to speak eloquently from the heart. He spoke of living with the consequences of Parkinson's, and left the medical and scientific aspects to those qualified to speak to them. His presence bolstered the overall case, as he did not allow his own hubris to over-ride a common-sensible approach to forwarding a worthy cause of personal importance to him. His actions stand in stark conttrast to the recent antics of Sean Penn, Woody Harrelson, George Clooney, et al, where hubris was the mode du jour.

Cameron, the entertainment industry is not useless. Not altogether, anyway. Like any and all industries, there is a gangrenous portion worthy of amputation, but there is undeniable benefit to be found, as well. At its best, the Arts elevate and inspire, touching and bettering the Human soul. Those so blessed with un-teachable talents are to be thanked for their contribution to the Human condition. That is their chosen craft, (often, I truly believe, chosen FOR them by a higher power), and that is the realm in which they ARE pre-eminent. I would not have questioned Olivier as to his interpretation of Lear. I would not wonder whether Sheryl Crow understood the evocative nature of the minor chords. Those are their bailiwicks. But when Crow admonishes all that "the best way to end war is to not have enemies in the first place", and when this wholly inadequate, altogether naive homily is hailed as transcendent wisdom by an obsequious press, then yes, I must admit, I DO take issue.

If you found the attitude that I put forth in my posting to be "caustic" or "hurtful", then you indeed read my contempt correctly. However, if you took that inch and stretched a mile to encompass ALL in the entertainment industry, then you drew a decidedly incorrect conclusion, and I invite you to re-read the post with the specificity I originally noted and herein restated in mind, and/or to ask after any intention of mine that you inferred in the post directly. I am more than willing to engage in any discussions you deem useful, here or privately, and always welcome the opportunity to expand my own or others' horizons in any way possible.

Addressing another of your statements, I would suggest to you that the left/right bent of politically-oriented comments on this page are often well-supported by logical thought processes or historical citation. If you will cast a critical, unbiased eye upon the obviously ad hominem attacks that DO regrettably occur, you will see from which end of the political spectrum they most often originate.

Further, If you would fling accusations of "hatred", or declare another's viewpoint within an exchange as "uninformed", you would do well to offer a specific example, else you are simply practicing prcisely that which you denounce. Though the irony is delicious, the attendant hypocrisy is not a virtue most would welcome.

However, Cameron, you had the grace and courage of your own convictions to hop aboard, private e-mail address and all, and state your case. I respect and admire that, and for my part welcome you to any and all discussions, and look forward to your future postings.

"Here's to self-determination", indeed!



OH, Cameron, you disappoint! "None@none.nil" as your e-mail address? Oh well, simply edit out the comment about your displaying personal address standing as testament to your grace and courage of conviction.



Solly,

I would also add that USUALLY people are responded to in the tone with which they originally post. If people post vicious attacks, the get attacked. If they post with logic, they get logic....Kinda a 'you get out of it what you put into it.'

Orion



Challenge to the Humanist - celebrity or...

Human knowledge is a fraction of the whole universe. The
balance is a vast void of human ignorance. Human reason
cannot fully function in a void, thus, the intellect can
rise no higher than its criteria.

Humanism makes man his own standard of measure,
however, as with all measuring systems, a standard must
be greater than the value measured.

Based on preponderant ignorance and an ego-centric
carnal nature, humanism demotes reason to the simpleton
task of excuse-making for the rule of appetites, desires,
feelings, emotions, and glandular secretions.

Because man cannot invent criteria greater than
himself the humanist cannot think above the level of his
eyebrows and lacks a predictive capability. (He normally
focuses "below the belt" level.) Without transcendent criteria,
humanism cannot evaluate options with foresight for survival and progression.
Without foresight, man is blind to potential consequence
and is unwittingly committed to averages, mediocrity,
and regression - and worse. Humanism is an unworthy (self)
worship.

The void of human ignorance can easily be filled with
a functional faith while not-so-patiently awaiting the
foot-dragging growth of human knowledge and behavior.
Faith, initiated by the Creator and revealed and
validated in His Word, the Bible, brings a Transcendent
Standard to man the choice-maker. Other philosophies and
religions are man-made, humanism, and thereby lack
what only the Bible has: 1. Transcendent Criteria and
2. Fulfilled Prophetic Validation. The Bible verifies itself as
the Word of the Creator. The vision of faith in God and His
Word is survival equipment for today and the future. Selah

The way you define 'human' determines your view of self,
others, relations, institutions, life, and future. Important?
Only the Creator, who made us in His own image, is qualified
to accurately define us. Choose wisely...

Man is earth's CHOICEMAKER. Psalm 25:12 He is by nature
and nature's God a creature of Choice - and of CRITERIA.
Psalm 119:30,173 His unique and definitive characteristic
is, and of Right ought to be, the natural foundation of
his institutions, environments, and respectful relations
to his fellow-man. Thus, he is oriented to a FREEDOM
whose roots are in the Order of the universe. Biblical
principles are still today the foundation under Western
Civilization and the American way of life. Let us proclaim
it. Behold! The Season of GENERATION-CHOICEMAKER.
JOEL 3:14

Semper Fidelis/Always Faithful
Jim Baxter

a former humanist...(weren't we all?)




Your point about the wage differential between important jobs (cleaners, nurses, forces) and lucre jobs (actors, politicians, financiers) is valid, but a liberal viewpoint (Bill the Liberal). If the only way to eat a £10 meal is by paying the kitchen staff a pittance, then the meal should be more.

Relying on the state to boost their income to the point of survivability is not the solution. First we end up paying for layers of bureaucracy too, and second, few claiments actually have the time (they're holding down 2 or 3 jobs and working 48+ hour weeks - when are they going to get to the benefits office anyway), or confidence, to ask for their rightful taxbreak.

One often used argument is that, if you start to pay the less well paid a living wage, taxes will have to rise to fund it. This doesn't appear (from the figures I've been quoted - maybe a US citizen could get more info) to be the case in US cities that have tried the Living Wage method (e.g. Baltimore).

Fow now, you could always tip.



And let's not forget that Jimmy Stewart lost a son in Vietnam.



Bill, I hear the truth, gently but clearly lilting like wind chimes in a summer breeze....and, I like Solly, too!!



Stunned. Speechless. Well, not entirely. Thank you for such insightful, and incisive, writing. Added you to the must read list. Hope your move to FLA goes smoothly!



I am maintaining a list of pro-American celebrities at:

http://www.fortliberty.org/hollywood.shtml



Thank you Bill. Am sending huge portions of this with the site addy to everyone. If I judge correctly, they will all be here to read the entire essay and applauding! Bravo!

All I can say to Sil...those comments were so asinine I can only conclude the name Sil is short for Silly!

ClasicRed



Thank you Bill for your clarity and willingness to "fight back", whatever you deem that to mean.

Fifty years into the past, we look back at WWII and see it for what it really was. We now understand that a failure to get our hands dirty would have cost us the rest of our body, however clean our hands could be.

Fifty years in the future, we look back on Gulf War II and see it for what it really is: destiny. Nazi-appeasement must NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.

I'll venture a wager that all this protesting is actually a good thing: Arabs and Leftists now a reason to communicate, whatever the subject be.

So in trying to isolate themselves, they join forces with peoples of country they so profess to hate. Non-Iraqi Arabs are agreeing already with select Americans, much to their own horror.

While we worry about the confidence of our people, celebrities are actually doing us a favor by giving us ammunition, and I guarantee you that it isn't intentional.

Thank you Sean Penn for giving me a reason to hate you and love America.

These celebrities force us to evaluate what causes we most root for, something we wouldn't do without them.

Thank you Solly for your sarcastic essay. I loved it.

What the Hollywood actors lack in geopolitical knowledge, they more than make up for in vain. Too consumed in the fashion of the moment, they worry more about the moles on their skin and the lighting, the music, than the message they send, even if they mean what they say. Maybe all this would be better if Bush looked like Harrison ford, and his wife like Anna Kournikova. Hollywood makeup artists would suddenly have a voice...

It's wickedly ironic that the man that played Saving Private Ryan wouldn't. The men playing the soldiers of Black Hack Down wouldn't go down for those who actually did. This is why WWII made the greatest generation. I wish I could say the same about my contemporaries.

P.S. Actually like listening to their pathetic whining when the American people speak up. It helps give me reason not to tolerate whining in a child. Give in to whining, you lose. Hear that parents?



Re: Hypocrisy and contradictions in roles/works of celebreties:

I couldn't help but think of Natalie Merchant of the Dixie Chicks who was ashamed to be from the same state as President Bush.

Merchant is clearly anti-war. Presumably she was for the status quo in Iraq - Just leave Saddam and his army of killers/torturers/oppressors alone. Alas, she takes a tad less pacifist approach to bullies and "evil doers" in her hit song about the wife-beater "Earl," who gets his just deserts in the form of poisoned peas ... and the formerly abused wife and her accomplice friend live (much) happily every after.

So Natalie and the Chicks take a proactive approach to dealing with a terrorist in this fictional song, but want America and the rest of the world to give Saddam a perpetual pass for mass murder. It's okay in the song to seek a little justice and liberate an abused wife, but not okay to liberate an ENTIRE COUNTRY who has been terrorized for decades.

Like all the other Leave-Saddam-Alone protesting celebreties, I think the Dixie Chicks would dramatically change their tune if they actually lived in Iraq for, say, a week or two.

I also note that Sheryl Crowe was a supporter of the troops and President Bill Clinton in the air war to liberate Bosnia and Kosovo (where was the U.N. approval for that prolonged bombing mission)? Crowe performed a concert for the troops and has been photographed in a chummy position with the Commander and Chief who ordered the bombings. For some reason, her tune changed when a Republican president decided to use force in an effort to bring a far superior existence (the word is "hope") to 25 million Iraqis.

The examples of hypocrisy and naitivite (sp?) go on and on and on.

As usual, great essay!

- bill rice, jr. - Troy, AL

P.S. Roll Tide! I fondly remember the 40-0 UA victory in 1979 over UF you referenced in your most recent essay, which proves (alas) how quickly geopolitical circumstances can change in the social arena (and the SEC). In fact, change two "leaders" - hire Steve Spurrier, Paul Bryant retire to Heaven - and you have a whole new ballgame. Change on regime (Iraq) and maybe the same historical lessons will hold ... we hope.



Please help me become a actress. If anyone wants the best she is right here. Even my mother thinks so. Please. It's been my dream and I am really good. Thanks! Write Back.
Haley



Haley,

As a Film/Video director I can only offer you one piece of advice:

Memorize the words of your email, move to Hollywood, and repeat them to everyone you meet.

Eventually some one will see the real you.

If you're lucky, it'll be someone who will love you despite this tragic obsession.

If that person is a producer, you're in.

Martin



Bill,

Thanks for this essay, wonderful as all the others. I don't care if that bitch is Jenny from the block or how much she's got, if she or anyone else ever tells me not to LOOK at her, she can kiss my Southern grits! Funny though, good ol' Sheryl, Clooney, Penn, Beatty, Baldwin, Moore, et al. are not rushing to trade in their citizenship for a one way ticket to the glorious land of the (now former) dictator they seem so heelbent on defending. If Looney Clooney actually even had a college degree of any kind, I might be more inclined to listen to him, but he doesn't. And he and the other appeaser-hypocrites are certainly not working for the NSA of the DoD on the side. If they ever make it to those heights, or if they disengage from their pattern of rectal-cranial inversion, I MIGHT listen to them. You have a gift Bill, keep em' comin'. Take care partner, God Bless.



I like this site...You are articulate and you have an amazing sense of humor. Don't be so hard on Viggo tho...there is intelligence in that head of his. I didn't see the Charlie Rose interview, but I read the transcript...Viggo really didn't come across very well. But then, he is rather shy, and I don't think he expected Charlie to make him the center of attention because of the shirt he was wearing. I think he was just trying to make a quiet statement of his opinion of the war, and Charlie focused on it, rather than the movie. It WAS supposed to be an interview about 'The Lord of the Rings', after all, not the war on Iraq. I'm actually glad I missed seeing that interview. Now I can go see 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King' in December and I won't be seeing that infamous "T-shirt under the armor". I can just sit back and enjoy the battle for Middle Earth.

I enjoyed what you had to say, except for one line in your rant against Sheryl Crow: "...leave the policy to the elected officials who have earned the right to govern."...where did THAT come from? Anybody can get themselves put on the ballot. It doesn't necessarily mean they've earned the right to be there. Just look at California's Governor race! "...leave the policy to the elected officials who have earned the right to govern." We put our elected officials in office to be our voice in government. Our voices should be CREATING the policies. You know, it's sad enough we that lose our collective voice when big corporations and special interest groups lobby our representatives, buying their votes, without you telling people to not have a voice at all. Okay, so it is unfair that celebrities get to use their visibility and status to voice their opinions, and yes, it is kind of scary that they can influence so many people, especially if their opinions aren't the most thought out or they don't have all the facts. But I think everyone should be applauded for having the courage to state their convictions, no matter how silly it may sound coming out.




"Spot on. I blame the celebrity-coddling industry and the celebrity-fawning media"

but not the celebrity coddling public, hmmm??

If 'want' truly dictates 'supply', then we can only blame the paying public for the quality of our celebrities or TV shows?

Surely we get to see what we want, otherwise no-one would watch it? I don't believe this, I think the media and it's content is up past all our eyeballs with sponsorship.

And I agree with Bill, celebrity as a political foghorn is a bad idea. But there it is. Ronald Reagan, Arnie? gah. Every prez is a celeb.



Bill,

I enjoyed this essay very much. This tendency to replace royalty (which we got rid of for a reason) with celebrities in the same role makes me sick. The fact that these people attract so much attention is disgusting but also alarming, because they are treated with special reverence by many.

However, I disagree with you on one point. I do think that there is a point where these loud-mouths cross the line from dissent to outright sedition or treason. Its one thing to be a critic or your nation's policies over substantial differences of opinion. Its another to engage to vicious lies and defamation of your own country, and to assist its enemies with propaganda and money.

If you (a mindless Hollywood twit) travel to a nation with which your country is about to go to war; if you pose for pictures with brutal dictators or their henchmen; if you repeat ad nauseum lies and slander about your own country with the intent to harm its standing in the world; then you are not a 'dissenter'. You are an enemy agent (whether your are bright enough to realize or not) and should be dealt with accordingly.

Of course, no one on the left wants to hear this, because they begin shouting about McCarthyism and "chilling effects" when people refuse to buy their albums or got to their stinking movies. When you accuse them of being unpatrotic or anti-american, they puff up in righteous indignation; "How DARE you!" They are insulted and the press feels they have a right to be insulted, and all because someone points out that claiming the U.S. has plans to murder brown babies with carpet bombing is not legitimate critcism but fanaticism.

Let's take a quick trip back in time but in an altered universe:

First, April of 1942.
"...Senators Spinless, Vapid and Moron declared that Roosevelt was a liar, and that they felt certain they could trust the Fuhrer over the American president, whose provocative actions such as Lend-Lease were part of an overall strategy to destroy the German government. "The president claims that Germany is a threat to world peace," said Senator Vapid, "But I think its obvious Roosevelt is trying to distract attention away from the lingering depression by starting a new war."

"It wasn't bad enough that Roosevelt provoked the Japanese into attacking us over oil. I mean, we goaded them into it when we cut off their supplies. Now the president is setting his sights on capturing Germany's industries for his friends in General Motors and United Steel," added Senator Moron. "Thank God Hitler is a rational man and refused to declare war like Mr. Roosevelt does every 6 months."

"The president has continued to claim that Japan and Germany are working together, but that is blantantly impossible, as we all know. The cultures and governments and ideologies are completely different," commented Senator Spineless. "First Churchill declares war Germany, and now Roosevelt wants a share of the pie."
When the Senators were asked about German aggression starting the war with its invasion of Poland, the Senators stated they were not interested in playing a 'Blame Game'.

The Senators gave their comments in front of the Nuremburg stadium. Later they planned to tour several smaller towns of the Third Reich, including a sleepy little town called Auschwitz..."

Next, 1861, the United States.

"...Actress Blanche Stare toured the plantations, noting how peaceful things seemed as the negroes worked the fields.

'See this? All this will be shattered and destroyed if Mr. Lincoln has his way. How many people will be killed if that man is elected? He is a dangerous, stupid man, bent only on destruction. Destruction and greed. He is a jabeering ape working for his northern industrialist friends and allies.'

When asked whether she could agree with Lincoln on his views that slavery is an archaic and abhorrent institution, Ms. Stare was visibly angry.

'How dare he even think of trying to impose his values on these people! See these men and woman and children working in the fields? This is all they know, all they know how to do. Should we take that away from them? Negroes do not really know how to live in freedom, so we are going to start a war in order to free them and create chaos? And how many will we kill, slaves and owners alike, when Mr. Lincoln begins his war of aggression?'

When asked about her new play, and what she would do is a newly elected Lincoln were to attend a performance, the spunky actress was quick with a reply.
'I would hope someone would bring down his final curtain before mine.'

Ms. Stare refused to elaborate on her comments..."

So, how patriotically dissenting does the above sound? Unless you are a DIE-HARD lefty, I would assume not much. But that is exactly what we have going on here, TODAY!

In case you missed it in the real news, American Representatives (Rep. Jim McDermott, Rep. David Bonior) went to Baghdad before the war and proclaimed the Iraq dictatorship truthful and Bush a liar.

In the second example, its merely a compilation of various Hollywood boobs, with Sean Penn a heavy favorite.

Saddam Hussein is not Hitler, the Iraq are not American slaves. But if you need to stretch that hard in your imagination to see the parallels, and thus the disgusting behaviour of our modern 'dissenters', then you are truly beyond reach or reason. That is where we get the term useful idiot from, genius....



Sorry, missed my ID in the above post.



Agrain, I agree with some of what you say. Celebrities now are up their own asses and think that they are better than the waitresses and drivers that they might have been two years ago, before they were plucked from obscurity.

No matter what celebrities say, they *do* owe us something. We give them support, gifts, their livelyhoods, preferential treatment wherever they go so yeah, I think they owe us. If I had to spend two solid hours a day talking to fans but could spend the rest of the day sipping wine in Barbados - I'd jump at it.

As for the rest of your post, how self-righteous are you? Answer - a lot. It's your kind of blind patriotism that starts wars.

A glaring innacuracy in your post - in LOTR, the Orcs are defending their home from total obliteration. The forces of evil really could destroy the humans.


Wheras I bet if you give every Taliban/Al queada terrorist a tank, dropped them off in America and ordered the police not to stop them they wouldn't be able to kill 5% of americans. While America could vapourise the entire middle east at the press of a button.

Alternatively, we could have just had Saddam and his party assasinated - but that wouldn't have sent the "look at us, America - look how strong we are" message.

Oh and by the way, it's been more than 200 days without WMD found. Damn those elusive weapons.



Well, IMO anyone who admires stars (film, music, TV, etc.) has a severe shortage of brains and cause-effect. They're prominent because they can mouth other people's words convincingly and/or look good. Period. Whether they also have sense and sensibility is an entirely separate issue, but even if they do it's not statistically likely to be more than some people you meet every day.

What they have in abundance is audience. Making casual or irresponsible use of that to push their political agendas is just short of criminal, and is, IMO, despicable regardless of whether I agree with them. I take the same attitude to prominent religious figures who push politics.

Consider that we would consider it remarkable and exceptional if a political figure could sing or play an instrument like a pro. The same thing applies to entertainment celebrities, talking about politics (or religion, or science, or anything else they're unqualified for).



When this goes in the book, it might be nice to include a mention of Pat Tillman and Steve Buscemi, two celebrities who reacted to WW4 as did Jimmy Stewart to WW2. Tillman gave up a multi-million-dollar NFL contract, and ultimately gave his life to help 'win the peace' in Afghanistan, while Buscemi quietly, with no press release or fanfare, went back to his pre-celebrity job with FDNY Engine Company #55, helping to make up for the loss of hundreds of brave men on 9/11.



Gee, as simple as that, just assassinate Saddam? Saddam was extremely paranoid about being assassinated and emplyed all kinds of extraordinary precautions, from a bunch of body doubles to food tasters, not even sleeping in the same place twice in a row. Besides, just leaving a power vaccuum would probably start a civil war in such a divided country.



Excuse me people, just wondering if anyone has heard of this software which is available at motounlockuk.co.uk.
Apparently you can unlock Motorola mobile phones simply using the IMEI number, cutting out the need for a USB cable to link your phone to your PC. Just used it with my razr v3 and a rokr e1, and it certainly works, but what do i do now with an unlocked phone?
It's for sale at 5 Pounds (UK), and i was wondering whether anyone had used it before. Sorry if i've posted in the wrong section!. Please Help!!



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