Posts tagged ‘anger’

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

For a change of pace, I want to write about the movie Three Billboards starring Francis McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell among others as the cast was a mile deep. My daughter Serena had seen the opening in London and gone to the cast party afterwards and met Ms. McDormand who told her to call her Fran. So I knew I was going to like it.

This is a movie you can’t put away. I saw it Thursday and I am still thinking about it. You all remember Ms. McDormand from Fargo if nothing else. In this one she plays a steely eyed woman bent on getting revenge for her daughters rape and murder by goading the police by erecting three billboards to remind them that nothing has happened. I won’t give you much more of the plot than that, because you have to experience it yourself. There are so many twist and turns, but the one constant is violence, anger, and hate on a certain level. If you think this is going to be a revenge flick, think again.

The first thing you think of as you get into it is police brutality and racism. There is a level of ignorance, and ignorant meanness. But instead of making you want to get even (although you will in parts), it makes you want to stop and think about what is going on and most importantly, does the anger, hatred, and violence just beget more anger, hatred, and violence? In today’s world does that not really ring close to home.?

Woody Harrelson, is absolutely stunning in the part he plays. I think the one thing you can say for his character is that he has accepted the reality around him and he makes accommodations. He really is connected to his reality and seems to embrace it. When you get right down to it, but you don’t think about it at the time, Sheriff Willoughby is probably more grounded in life than all the rest around him. Deputy Dixon is a son of a bitch and yet in the end, you may find him redeemable. It is a wonderful performance by Sam Rockwell. Throughout Francis McDormand as Mildred is tough as nails, but in the end, well, you will see. There are academy award performances from all of them but forgetting the awards, I got lost in their characters which is the highest compliment I can give an actor.

In the end you are left to work out the ending yourself. As a red blooded American, I like tidy endings with all things tied up. But it wasn’t and now I think I understand that that was the point. Hello reality, there are not tidy endings in life. Things are messy and some things are never going to get resolved. Are you going to go around angry begetting anger or are you going to accept the reality around you, and maybe forgive. There may be more return on your investment in that latter path than any other. I think that is what the movie was about, but like all good art, I am still thinking about it. You ought to also.

The Wrath of She

When it comes to the Bernie-Hillary thing, be aware you are entering a minefield.  Here in my tranquil little castle, we just don’t talk about it.  I am accused of being an arrogant man and if Hillary were a man I would not criticize her.  Just about everything I see as a fault in Hillary is a man-thing and I don’t judge Bernie with the same scale.  Oh, and the things I do criticize are either just as bad in Bernie or we just don’t see Hillary as who she is.

Okay, I am as prejudiced as anyone, and usually we are the last to see it.  But if Elizabeth Warren were the candidate, I would take her in an instant over Bernie.  Do I just dislike Hillary or do some of the things I see give me a reason not to support her?  President Obama even put a couple of good ones out there last night at the Correspondent’s Dinner comparing “Feel the Bern”, with Trudging Up the Hill with Hillary,” and describing her attempt to connect with young people as your Aunt who is trying to connect on Facebook for the first time.

Now I think I have raised some substantial issues with the Hillary candidacy and her incrementalism which if not taken seriously by the candidate or her supporters, could be her Achilles Heel.  But what I get in return is rebuttal which is the first line of defense demonstrating denial.  So why is that.  You point out all of Bernie’s short comings and I agree.  So what is it that makes a certain age group of American women not want to hear it? Why do younger women not have that strong affinity with Hillary?

Well, I think I know and it is a minefield for men.  Women of a certain age came up in a man’s world and they are angry about.  In one way or another it probably still is a man’s world, but younger women are more assertive and aggressive.  It is not that older women weren’t, but in their day it was not possible or was possible, but the kiss of death.  In Hillary they see a woman who has suffered much more publicly the slings and arrows of a man’s world they so resent.  Bill is the epitome of how a man gets away with things that are really unforgivable.  And now electing Hillary is a chance to rub it in the face of every man that ever slighted them.  And they are not going to let some man and a bunch of angry ungrateful kids stop justice.

That is what it is really all about.  It is why they miss all the signs that Hillary’s time may have passed her by, that the politics of tomorrow, the things to bring about real change are no longer in her wheelhouse.  So beware when you try to point out Hillary’s shortcomings.  You are just one more man trying to put a woman back in her place, not trying to point out that maybe she is not the person to really change things.   Or maybe she is, but she needs to see the world in the eyes of a Bernie supporter and understand it is not just anger or ungratefulness, but maybe a real insight into what is wrong with the whole system.

The Anger Narrative

There it is.  Americans are mad as hell and they are sending a message to both parties.  It’s a hissy fit and sooner or later we have to get back to establishment politicians.  Trumps supporters are angry at life in general.  Bernie supporters are young kids who don’t know any better.  That about captures it. And while there is an element of truth in it, it way over simplifies what is really going on and in doing that, misses the essence of important change.

Here is the typical both sides are angry rant from Jennifer Finley Boylan in her Op-Ed this morning in the NYT:

It’s the Year of the Angry Voter, and apparently it’s vitriol itself, rather than any particular strategy for the future, that’s propelling the electorate. “Our country is being run by incompetent people,” Donald J. Trump has said. “And I won’t be angry when we fix it, but until we fix it, I’m very, very angry.” Bernie Sanders is angry, too: “I am angry. The American people are angry.”

But, the implied narrative goes, we need to control our anger and get real about change, i.e., bring back Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton.  Hmm.  Did not the American Revolution come from anger at the British?  Did not our Constitution come from anger between the states at the failure of the Articles of Confederation?  Did not the freeing of the slaves come out of the anger that propelled us into Civil War?  What about integration of the south or legalizing gay marriage?  Sure anger can be a hissy fit, or it can be the result of deep seated frustrations that finally drive change.

Trumps supporters are really angry at the same thing as Bernie supporters, things are getting worse and nothing changes to redirect that slide.  Granted Trump supporters want to do inane things like build a wall, blame immigrants, glower at your opponents which is all nonsense, but understand the anger.  It is really feed by something the Republicans created along the way, and that is the denial of facts, data, and science, mixed in with racism and a failed conservative ideology that has never delivered.  We are seeing an anger directed at others as though the basic Republican Trinity (small government, low taxes, little regulation) has not failed and in fact is realistic in today’s world when it is nonsense.

Bernie’s supporters are angry at something very similar, but they are seeing reality that tells them the system is rigged.  And like their Republican counterparts, they see establishment candidates as part of the problem.  But they don’t want to build unbuildable  walls, hate all Muslims, bring back the Neocons, turn back social progress, or push a failed economic ideology even harder.  They want to bring balance back into our economy by making it more fair.  They want to reign in the financial markets, expand and make education afforable, provide healthcare as a right, raise the minimum wage and insure equal access for women, invest in our infrastructure, and deal with the threat of global warming.  They are angry because the establishment sets these as far off goals and they know we can’t wait anymore.  Get the difference?

The establishment on both sides of the partisan divide has failed to deliver.  One failed because it adopted a failed ideology not practical in today’s world, trying to hard to hang on to the past that denies the reality of change.  The other failed because it was too timid in challenging the nonsense of the other side.  Staying in office became the primary goal, not standing up for values that could move us forward. Now those two establishments are being rejected for good reason.  One side has never been rational, but the other side sees what is possible and is campaigning on it.  If this is anger, so be it.  First you must tear down the old system before you can build something that works.

Oh Professor Krugman!

Today in the NYT, Professor Krugman continued his fixation on proving Hillary would be a better President than Bernie.  In this column Professor Krugman tried to paint Bernie as a one note samba, while Hillary sees the big picture:

To oversimplify a bit — but only, I think, a bit — the Sanders view is that money is the root of all evil. Or more specifically, the corrupting influence of big money, of the 1 percent and the corporate elite, is the overarching source of the political ugliness we see all around us.

The Clinton view, on the other hand, seems to be that money is the root of some evil, maybe a lot of evil, but it isn’t the whole story. Instead, racism, sexism and other forms of prejudice are powerful forces in their own right. This may not seem like a very big difference — both candidates oppose prejudice, both want to reduce economic inequality. But it matters for political strategy.

Hmm.  In this column he is arguing that we need a more broad approach.  To make this argument work, he has charactured Bernie as only caring about economic inequality.  Any study of his record with many more years than Hillary in government from Mayor to Senator shows he gets all of this, and he has been consistent in his approach.  The professor seems to be applying a blind eye to hold on to Hillary.  And he seems to forget Bill Clinton’s famous line (actually his strategist James Carville), “It is the economy stupid.”  Think about it:  Economic inequality is enforced by racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice including religious.  They can all be seen as subsets.

But what is more disturbing is that both he and most of main stream political pundits are missing is what Chris G., from Boston Mass, explain to Professor Krugman in a comment to his blog:

Clinton will work within the system and attempt to make it function more efficiently but she believes that the current system is basically workable – that it just needs some tweaks and better people in positions of responsibility in order to work well. In contrast, Sanders will attempt to radically change the system but will accept compromises in order to make incremental improvements in the course of doing so. 

What many of us recognize is that we got here, and you yourself have said it, over 50 years of a system that only works for the rich.  It has decimated the middle class and is taking a toll on our economy, and that is economic inequality, and the political inequality that goes with it.  What I think is happening out there is that many of us, especially the young, see that.  President Obama came into office to work system to improve America. He made changes that help all of us, but basically he did not really change the system, and the Republicans came roaring back.  We now live in an America where Donald Trump could be President.  So arguing to make incremental changes without addressing the power structure, is tilting at windmills.  And Hillary is preceived as part of the power structure who has benefited from it, and as Chris G. pointed out, we only need to work within that system.

I would think that Professor Krugman would start see his own failures in understanding this in his own frustrations at trying to get what he calls Very Serious People (VSPs) to understand that our debt is not a problem, austerity hurts us, and inflation and interest rates will not increase rapidly in a liquidity trap when we use fiscal or monetary policy to stimulate the economy.  It is a fundamental shift in the way we look at the world moving from a microeconomic approach to a macroeconomic approach and understanding a lack of demand is the controlling factor.  Yet when it comes to Hillary, he thinks incrementalism will turn the boat around?  

It is not pie in the sky and it is not anger that is fueling Bernie’s campaign.  It is the recognition that the current system doen’t work for the majority of us.  It won’t be fixed by incrementalism.  Criticism of the costs of a single payer health care system estimated by Bernie is just missing the point.  Other countries do it, and we won’t ever get there unless we fight for it, not saying we are not ready.  It is the process of trying to get there that gets us there, that changes minds.  People get that we need real change and someone to fight for it.  And of course all of his proposals are possible.  They are done in the rest of the world.  The only thing that prevents us are Republicans, and it is time to take them on directly, not find a way to work with them.