The recent death of Chadwick Boseman of colon cancer at the age of 43 is a sad reminder that reality is objective and that one must be at absolute liberty to live, create and trade.
Boseman first came to my attention as a leading actor in the motion picture 42 as baseball player Jackie Robinson. His performances in other movies, such as his leading title performance as a young lawyer in Marshall, were outstanding. Boseman rose above his title role in Black Panther, the mediocre comic book movie from Disney’s Marvel series.
However, as with Whitney Houston, who died at the age of 48, and similarly chose to conceal her personal life, including her struggles and illnesses, Chadwick Boseman is best remembered for the whole scope and range of his ability as an artist. He ought not to be reduced to being primarily known as the actor who appeared for several scenes in a forgettable movie. Other young actors, such as Paul Walker and Heath Ledger, have also died before they reached their fullest potential. Boseman, who portrayed at least three men of distinct ability, especially Jackie Robinson, deserves nothing less.
Made in Italy is charming and unpretentious. Written and directed by an artist named James D’Arcy, who’s also an actor, the movie, which I watched on a TV screen at home, is somewhat, though not entirely, predictable. The film is lovely to look at.
Made in Italy is exactly as advertised. An artist in London, played by Mr. Neeson, who is a distant father to his London art gallery owner son (Micheál Richardson), agrees to return to the family’s Tuscany home in the Italian countryside. The goal is to sell the home and raise money for the son’s gallery, though there is more to the story. Add a local businesswoman and divorced mother (Valeria Bilello), the real estate agent (Lindsey Duncan, Gifted) and villagers as well as the son’s wife and the sum total is a thoughtful and moving motion picture about the smallest choices and intimacies and a family’s past, grief and recovery.
Made in Italy refreshes the spirit. Watching the film is like taking a miniature vacation. Besides being appealing to look at, contemplate and indulge, the movie affords a temporary escape from the madness of today’s anarchy and mass hysteria.
Four main characters strive to make food, money and art. They do so with a sense of decency, restraint and self-respect. If you could gain from a realistic, romantic respite from looting and anarchy and want to affirm that it’s possible to live among those who do not destroy lives, properties and reputations or induce panic, shakedowns or lynch mobs, see this film about damaged and honorable Westerners striving to be left alone to create and live in peace. Made in Italy offers 90 minutes of humor, mild conflict and clear resolution.
“Ultimately the problem lies with us,” writes Peter Schweizer in Profiles in Corruption, his new book about America’s top Democrats. “We get the government we choose, the leaders we elect, and the corruption we tolerate.”
Then, he quotes George Orwell, whom Mr. Schweizer notes warned about an elective system of government: “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices.”
In this spirit, let me post certain excerpts from Peter Schweizer‘s important, pre-2020 presidential election book, which I strongly recommend—especially on the eve of America’s currently, ominously most likely next president, Joe Biden, making an imminent announcement of a vice-presidential running mate. Biden is rumored to also be ready to name cabinet nominees.
I’m posting this days before the Democrats’ convention, the nation’s first presidential nominating convention to be held during a pandemic yielding the historic prohibition against rational living, including work, fitness and assembly.
I finished reading the exceptional Profiles in Corruption by Peter Schweizer earlier this year. The book is objective in examining major Democratic Party figures. My thoughts, margin notes and conclusions were generally reached before the United States was locked down in national hysteria over the spread of a new virus, prohibiting millions of Americans from working, dictating that people “stay at home”, indiscriminately wear masks and physically avoid other humans.
I read and was horrified by this timely book prior to the Black Lives Matter movement re-emerging as an anti-police — and, arguably, anarchistic — political movement which would radically reshape American business, society and culture within weeks. Profiles in Corruption was published before 2020’s mass American chaos, lockdown, rioting, looting and anarchy.
As the most likely next U.S. president, a 77-year-old who supports Black Lives Matter including legislation to force white Americans to pay slavery reparations, prepares to name his slate of government officials, I’ve rounded up some of Mr. Schweizer’s most pressing and relevant disclosures.
About California’s Kamala Harris, Mr. Schweizer observes that:
“She somehow served as San Francisco district attorney from 2004 to 2011, and then as California attorney general from 2011 to 2017, and never brought a single documented case forward against an abusive priest. It’s an astonishing display of inaction, given the number of cases brought in other parts of the country. To put this lack of action in perspective, at least fifty other cities charged priests in sexual abuse cases during her tenure as San Francisco district attorney. San Francisco is conspicuous by its absence.”
About Vice-President Biden? The reader learns that “[t]he Biden family partners are often foreign governments, where the deals occur in the dark corners of international finance like Kazakhstan, China, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Ukraine, and Russia. Some deals have even involved U.S. taxpayer money. The cast of characters includes sketchy companies, violent convicted felons, foreign oligarchs, and other people who typically expect favors in return.”
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker “was quick to reward friends and donors with Newark taxpayer money. In his first few months in office, Booker gave his campaign manager’s son a sole-source contract to update a website for the city. However, the son’s company was new and had no background doing such work. The contract was sizable—more than $2 million—and after two years the project was still incomplete, so the city had to hire another firm to clean up the work. Booker also hired friends to join him in the mayor’s office amid complaints of cronyism. Alarm bells went off in some Newark circles almost immediately when Booker appointed a campaign aide named Pablo Fonseca as his first chief of staff.”
As mayor, Booker’s sprawling network of activities included speaking fees (for as high as $30,000 a pop), nonprofits, the Zuckerberg gift, and a commercial venture called Waywire. In June 2012, Booker launched the new video-sharing social media company that he promised would give “marginalized voices,” including “high school kids,” a hearing. Booker put a public service gloss over the venture: “What was exciting to me was that it was expanding entrepreneurial, economic, and educational opportunities for so many.” Booker got the project easily funded by tapping his wealthy friends Oprah Winfrey, Google’s then–executive chairman Eric Schmidt, and Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn, among others to invest. Waywire amassed an advisory board that included CNN president Jeff Zucker’s then-fourteen-year-old son. The Waywire deal was highly unusual and controversial for several reasons. Booker was still mayor of a major American city, and yet he was launching a business with people who in numerous cases had been campaign donors. The terms of the deal were also unusual. Booker received the largest ownership stake in the company, even though he had likely invested comparatively little capital, and was not working on the project full-time[…]”
Remember the woman who lied about being an American Indian? Mr. Schweizer writes that “[t]he story of Elizabeth Warren’s academic success cannot be divorced from her claimed status as a Native American; they are deeply intertwined.
“Barely one year before her appointment to the University of Pennsylvania faculty, Warren began to list herself as a ‘minority’ Native American law professor in the directory of the Association of American Law Schools.”
Schweizer goes on: “A Harvard University spokesman described her as Harvard Law School’s ‘first woman of color.’ She was repeatedly identified as an example of minority hiring at Harvard Law. “Harvard Law School currently has only one tenured minority woman, Gottlieb Professor of Law Elizabeth Warren, who is Native American,” noted the Harvard Crimson…But something curious happened after Warren secured her new position at Harvard Law School. She stopped listing herself in the directory as a minority the same year Harvard hired her to a tenured position.”
“Financial disclosures by the time [Warren] ran for the Senate in 2012 showed that her net worth was as much as $14.5 million. Her house alone was worth $5 million. The couples’ investment stock portfolio was worth as much as $8 million, according to her own disclosures. Yet she steadfastly insisted that she was not “wealthy.” “I realize there are some wealthy individuals—I’m not one of them, but some wealthy individuals who have a lot of stock portfolios,” she told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell.”
“In her new role, Warren was publicly blunt and aggressive when describing corporate America and the failures of corporate executives. “Wall Street CEOs, the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs, still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them,” she said during her speech at the Democratic National Convention in August 2012. Does anyone here have a problem with that?” However, privately she offered a softer, more friendly tone in her communications with the large Wall Street firms. Indeed, she seemed eager to work with the same titans that she was lambasting in public. “You all gave us a great deal to think about, and we are all appreciative,” she wrote to Richard Davis, the president and CEO of U.S. Bancorp, in a March 2011 email obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. “I value your help—and your friendship—more than you know.” Communication with the CEOs of major Wall Street firms was in “stark contrast to the battle that [was] waged in public.” Warren has met in private with Wall Street moguls that she publicly criticizes.”
Mr. Schweizer also provides a seriously, sufficiently and persuasively disturbing degree of detail about the Massachusetts senator’s family connections to the Islamic dictatorship of Iran.
Mr. Schweizer notes that one of Ohio’s U.S. senators, Sherrod Brown “was born in Mansfield, Ohio, a town midway between Columbus and Cleveland,” the author of Profiles in Corruption reports. The rest of his expose reads like something out of an Ayn Rand essay on Woodstock, the New Left and the hippies.
“The son of a doctor, his mother was a staunch Lutheran and progressive social activist; Sherrod inherited both from her. While in high school, young Sherrod organized a march in his hometown to celebrate the first Earth Day in 1970. “We did this really cool march and we had a really big crowd,” he recounted later. “But we get down to the square and none of us had thought about what you do when you get down there. We didn’t have any speakers, and it was like, ‘Oh, shit.’ So we just disbanded.”
What accounts for his rise to power in one of the Midwest’s most dynamic states?
“Sherrod Brown’s friend John Eichinger jokingly explained at a Democratic Party roast back in 1982 that Brown’s approach is to ‘get money from the rich and votes from the poor by promising to protect them from each other.’ Brown’s laughable statusdidn’t stop him from doing real damage — to pets and people who own them.
“Dogs, for some reason, did not fare well in [Sen. Brown’s] early bills, perhaps because he claims to have been bitten eight times by dogs while campaigning during his first four years in the state legislature. Whatever the reason, Brown supported legislation to allow animal shelters to put down dogs with sodium pentobarbital. He also voted for a bill imposing fines and jail time for dog barking.”
Over and over, the author delivers evidence of corruption and moral abomination against the man most likely to blackmail a President Biden into enacting severe, total socialism: Bernie Sanders. One American worker shared what he remembers about an encounter with the socialist who would be ominously powerful in Biden’s administration.
“Sanders ordered the bar’s special, ‘Fat Man Bud.’ Bob Conlon recalls that night he was tending bar. Bernie dropped a dollar on the bar to pay for his ninety-five-cent drink. Conlon remembered that the mayor stood there “waiting four [people] deep to get his nickel change back.” The incident made an impression on Conlon, who made part of his money on tips. “I’d vote for O. J. Simpson before I’d vote for Bernie,” he later said.”
“As Professor Michael Kazin describes him, ‘Sanders resembles his hero, Eugene V. Debs—the Socialist who ran five quixotic races for president, the last time, in 1920, from a prison cell—far more than he does a standard-issue career politician. Other pols identify with ‘revolution’ and claim their campaign is a ‘movement.’ But Bernie really means it.’ Sanders deeply identifies with Debs and even has a plaque of him on his Senate office wall.”
“During the 2016 presidential campaign, intrepid journalists discovered that he spent his time at a settlement connected to an Israeli political party called Mapam. This was a particularly political settlement, Kibbutz Sha’ar Ha’amakim, connected to a ‘Soviet-affiliated political faction.’ Kibbutz members admired Joseph Stalin until his death, calling him “Sun of the Nations.” They would celebrate May Day with red flags.”
“Sanders and his wife moved to Vermont, but he spent very little of his time in the decade and a half following college with gainful employment. He worked briefly as a researcher with the Vermont Tax Department, before trying his hand as a carpenter. (One acquaintance admitted, ‘He was a shitty carpenter.’) Mostly he was a political activist and agitator, who occasionally wrote essays, one displaying his ‘affinity for Sigmund Freud.’
“Throughout the 1970s, Sanders continued to avoid consistent employment and was endlessly running for political office. (He derided basic working-class jobs as ‘moron work, monotonous work.’)”
The campaigns were bare-bones and during his 1974 campaign for the U.S. Senate, he actually collected unemployment while a candidate. His campaign rhetoric could be downright apocalyptic and conspiratorial. ‘I have the very frightened feeling that if fundamental and radical change does not come about in the very near future that our nation, and, in fact, our entire civilization could soon be entering an economic dark age,’ he thundered as he announced his 1974 Senate run. Later that same year, he sent a public letter to President Gerald Ford, declaring that America would face a “‘virtual Rockefeller family dictatorship over the nation’ if Nelson Rockefeller was named vice president.”
Rockefeller did become vice president. The dictatorship, of course, never emerged.”
Fellow progressives who had helped elect Sanders mayor were surprised at how he was consolidating power. He even put local charities on notice that he was in charge. Jon Svitavsky, who ran a local homeless shelter, said the new mayor rejected the charity’s well-established shelter rules. The homeless shelter, for example, had a policy of refusing entry to anyone who was drunk or high on drugs. Sanders did not like that rule, so he had the city set up its own competing shelter.”
Being mayor and creating a city post for his girlfriend, and then later his wife, meant a good income. They would supplement these salaries through tens of thousands of dollars in teaching and speaking fees. In 1989, the Sanderses actually sold two houses and claimed capital gains. Their primary Vermont residence included upscale amenities, which as one observer noted, “incongruously [made Sanders] perhaps one of the few socialists in the country with a built-in swimming pool.”
Once elected, Sanders moved to Washington and his wife, Jane, became a top aide, serving at various times as his chief of staff, press secretary, and political analyst. After a decade in Congress, Jane and family went about setting up a company that operated under three different names to provide income tied to Bernie’s political career. On September 27, 2000, the family formed Sanders & Driscoll LLC, a for-profit consulting company run by Jane, her daughter Carina, and son David. The business also operated under two trade names: Leadership Strategies and Progressive Media Strategies. The fact that this entity and its aliases were formed just weeks before the 2000 election is significant. The Sanderses ran these out of their home on Killarney Drive in Burlington. These entities served as financial conduits to run cash to the Sanders family.”
In Profiles in Corruption, Peter Schweizer drills into the socialist couple’s history with precision and, always with each profiled Democrat, in footnoted, indexed detail.
Jane went about trying to develop international ties. In 2007, Jane traveled to Cuba and the college started a program to bring students to the communist country to attend classes at the University of Havana. Burlington College officials visiting Cuba enjoyed access to the highest levels of the Cuban government.”
The Sanderses had long-standing ties in [Communist] Cuba. In 1989, Bernie and Jane visited Havana and met with a leader of the city’s ‘social brigades’ and the mayor. (They attempted a meeting with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, but the bearded one did not make himself available.) Burlington College’s relationship with Cuba included workshops for teachers, including one attended by Armando Vilaseca, the Cuban-born Vermont secretary of education. With no sense of irony, Burlington College touted the study abroad program as a “singular opportunity to question, debate, and discuss” numerous issues. This, including “politics,” even though the university was located smack in the middle of a country that allows no free press. There was no mention of the suppression of free speech, the arresting of political dissidents, or the imprisonment of human rights activists. Instead, Jane touted the program as something that would be beneficial to humanity.”
Minnesota’s Sen. Amy Klobuchar comes off like a bully. And there’s this about LA’s authoritarian lockdown-driven, pro-mask mayor, Eric Garcetti: “Eric received an elite education, attending first the Harvard School, the elite prep school in Studio City, California. He then went off to Columbia University. As an undergraduate at Columbia University, Garcetti organized a protest against a nearby market that had forbidden the homeless from redeeming cans and bottles for the five- and ten-cent deposits. ‘We hope to resolve this without it getting messy,’ he declared, ‘but the managers seem to be assholes who have to be hit hard.’
This thuggishness is rampant in Profiles in Corruption. It’s a modern political book that won’t help you sleep any easier. But it will help you to know more about what’s in store if the Democrats stay on the current U.S. political track and take over the entire American government.
This NBC series stimulates thought. Yet it moves the audience to experience powerful emotions. Parenthood (2010 to 2015) accomplishes this through intricate and intelligent characterization playing to an overarching theme that parenting can and ought to be both rational and rewarding.
Buy the series on DVD
Family is not an end in itself, according to Parenthood. It’s a unit of unique individuals that exists primarily to serve as a rocket launch and refueling center. This is why a family can be integral to creating, making and forging the meaningful, purposeful, selfish life.
Parenthood, created and written by Jason Katims and based on the Nineties movie by Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Apollo 13), essentially tells the tale of four children who choose to have children. Two sons and two daughters and their parents sputter, propel and revolve in multiple relationships, professional, romantic and otherwise. They do so with humor and poignancy in each of its six seasons.
These are the characters in the Braverman family, led by Bonnie Bedelia (Sordid Lives, Presumed Innocent) and Craig T. Nelson (Coach, Poltergeist) as the parents. Favorite son Adam (Peter Krause) is a buttoned-down establishmentarian; he lives to lead. Younger brother Crosby (Dax Shepard) is the free-spirited comic relief; he strives to achieve. Julia (Erika Christensen) is the perfectionist; she thrives on striking the ideal balance. Black sheep Sarah (Lauren Graham) is the single mother mess; she seeks to create and cash in.
Through her lens, the audience first sets sights upon this warm, intelligent and inviting family.
Bravermans are sharp, unpretentious and intellectual. They think about what they do before they “just do it”. They use words. They talk. They also listen. But these are depictions of humans that know how to communicate through verbal means. But they not only like communicating with each other—they thrive on it. They draw strength from it. They get powered by it. They refuel. This feeds the interplay that makes Parenthood go.
Bravermans think about how to love and raise a child, as well as how to tend to themselves. They are biting, flawed and competitive—in unhealthy and healthy ways—and they can be bitches and brats behind one another’s backs. Like your family.
This is what makes Bravermans go and do. They go for the gold in life, even when there’s less and less time left to live, too much that’s been said in anger, or too much alcohol involved, or too few moments together in plain, honest talk. Mother and daughter, father and son, sibling rivalry—the pretty one, the smart one, the responsible one, the overindulged one—it’s all here wrapped inside a series of gilded parenting fables.
With a neat timeline tie-in which pre-dates its thematically similar cousin, NBC’s excellent This Is Us, Parenthood depicts the child in the family and the inner child within each parent. It shows how each among us must guide and parent the self and it shows how parenting is properly done.
No problem goes unaddressed. No deficiency goes unnoticed.
The whole series is an enveloping, unfolding story of these Northern Californians (without the superiority complex) arcing toward a bittersweet resolution which reminds the viewer that life is finite, rich and breathtaking. But only if you choose to think first, put yourself first and go after what you want.
With baseball as a leitmotif, Parenthood’s is a distinctly American family orientation. Each Braverman works to play, plays to compete, competes as a whole person—playing more than one position—and each player aims for the grand slam. The show often hits and scores. But they are united.
This is family as it can and ought to be. Perhaps the one you’ve never had, always wanted, desperately miss, read about and long to have and hold.
Watch Parenthood for its fresh surprises. You’re likely to find yourself questioning and challenging your own ideas about parenting. The series depicts certain dilemmas, some that may be familiar and some that may not, that prompt you to think twice about your own upbringing, family and child rearing.
Whether it’s raising a kid with Asperger’s, starting over, fielding calls from police, making time for sex or parenting the child neglected for her ability, Parenthood covers it all. There’s a memorable call for help from a truck stop in Gilroy, marital strife and a son named Jabbar (Tyree Brown as the most honest and appealing child character).
There’s the kid that dyes her hair black, the dance audition, the hobbies, practices, rehearsals and nights climbing into windows and stumbling into sofas. There’s Craig T. Nelson hilariously memorizing and trying to remember why it’s important to invoke the line “I hear you and I see you”, the importance of getting credit and giving gratitude and saying ‘thank you’.
One of my favorite episodes occurs on Crosby’s houseboat. I like it because it dramatizes the character’s progression toward his choice to commit to being a parent. It is rare that any show tackles the abstraction of what Ayn Rand describes as man as a being of volitional consciousness.
Parenthood, filled with meaning, pathos and insight, does—from its theme that Crosby has the power to put what he loves up for sale by owner to how deftly it displays and honors the value of owning material possessions, whether a home or a piano. Other second season highlights include a character played by Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther) as an alcoholic, which dovetails into an ex-husband’s alcoholism and a daughter’s drug use.
But, whether it’s camping with Grandpa for the purpose of studying bugs at dawn, cancer, being fired, adoption or enduring Parenthood’s most irritating characters — Max, Adam and Kristina and controlling Jasmine — there’s always an organic reason for each plot point, each character arc and every plot twist. Even when Adam dresses like a rapper to get new business.
The cast is excellent. Look for all-around good casting — recurring guest stars turns include Richard Dreyfuss, Ray Romano and Jason Ritter — forethought, screenwriting and carefully crafted arcs such as Sam Jaeger as a businessman, husband and father.
Flaws include that Sarah’s always apologizing, scenes don’t play out and overacting. Characters constantly talk over each other.
As the Bravermans’ family tale comes to a close, season five’s “Promises” episode is among Parenthood’s most profound. I’ll leave it at that. But know that this show presses every subplot into marvelous tales of redemption, letting go, dying, grieving, moving on and finding the goodness in each new day.
Ice skating with the kids—playing hooky to surf in the ocean—starting a school—opening a recording studio—running a political campaign—dating an Afghan war veteran—releasing the scream—coming out as gay—embracing moving day—leaving California—the meaning, memory and mining of road-tripping with Grandpa in a Pontiac GTO—meeting the other mother in Wyoming—accepting the marriage proposal—and, beautifully, leaving the 1972 Reggie Jackson baseball card in the rafters as a benevolent legacy for strangers, stressing the importance of chosen values over the importance of going merely by blood.
Enjoy Parenthood as a fully circular voyage of the child’s and parent’s—and grandparent’s—life. You will probably cry and laugh, often during the same episode. I did. But you almost assuredly will be provoked, if deftly and down to your core, to think.
The DVD’s deleted scenes often fill in gaps as important action sometimes happens offscreen; the extras’ flaws include a lack for original air date stamps and music that’s too folksy.
This light comedy series deserves its reputation as enjoyable. The six-season show, which aired from 2015 through this spring, costars Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy, who both also co-produce the program.
The premise of an extremely wealthy family losing their wealth and going to live in a small rural town, is silly. Schitt’s Creek essentially reverses the premise of the popular CBS comedy The Beverly Hillbillies, by replacing that show’s iconic grandmother character with O’Hara’s eccentric wife and mother and two adult kids as unlikely to launch as Elly Mae and Jethro. You can get a sense of Schitt’s Creek from the name of one of its main characters, who also happens to be the town’s mayor, Roland Schitt (Chris Elliott). I think I laughed out loud during almost every episode of the entire series.
With an affected, gay son (Dan Levy) and a dim, shallow daughter (Annie Murphy), the married couple played by Levy and O’Hara anchor the series. O’Hara steals every scene as a vain actress. Eugene Levy plays it straight. These comedians, whose enduring careers trace back together to films and Chicago’s Second City comedy troupe and television program, provide hilarious material, bits and performances. Levy’s real life son and daughter have a hand in both production and regularly starring roles.
Standout episodes encompass later season story arcs involving O’Hara‘s character appearing in a direct-to-video horror sequel and the Levy character trying to launch a new business venture. Emily Hampshire as aimless Stevie, Jenn Robertson as perky Jocelyn, Karen Robinson as hardened Ronnie, Dustin Milligan as wholesome Ted and Noah Reid as entrepreneurial Patrick round out the cast of townies.
Capitalism is Schitt’s Creek’s central plot springboard. It’s what powers the series, which has the sign of the dollar in the title. Each character requires capitalism to mine humor and make progress. For example, the husband and father makes a long, slow and steady comeback from being a former video store businessman thrust into impoverishment to mentoring an associate who studies, learns from and mirrors his money-making skills.
Schitt’s Creek’s climax comes, too, with a capitalistic venture. An apothecary, born of the son’s desire to break free from the pack, sets forth a new vision of his own making, rejuvenating the whole town and becoming a catalyst for his romantic breakthrough. In fact, the romantic subplot involving the son, poignantly and memorably rendered with a recurring cover of Tina Turner‘s “Simply the Best”, yields the upward arc toward the finale.
The actress playing the daughter, Annie Murphy, is very good. She provides Schitt’s Creek’s best dramatic acting. Each of the performances is excellent. As the completely ridiculous mother, O’Hara caps everything with dry wit and a touch of madness. From her pronunciations and incongruous vocabulary to her blinding, glittering wardrobe of feathers and glitz, O’Hara’s neurotic wife and mother character elicits the most laughs.
Each character strives to make money doing work she or he loves. This is the heart and soul of Schitt’s Creek. It’s what distinguishes and differentiates the show from today’s chronic contempt for capitalism and pervasive, predominant comedies infused with absurdism, anti-heroism and cynical vulgarity.
In this sense, Schitt’s Creek — silly as it is — is one of a small number of television comedies during the past 70 years that makes audiences laugh without sniveling at the universe, civilization and the best of humanity.
Schitt’s Creek belongs in the same general category as Father Knows Best, The Donna Reed Show,, Leave it to Beaver, the Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Jeffersons, My Three Sons, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Golden Girls, Frasier, and Modern Family in depicting the American family as a joyful and enterprising source for fostering the happy, romantic and idealistic — and distinctly American — life.
I watched every episode of this curiously involving micro-series. Like most cable television-based micro-series, Mrs. America skims the surface of its own topicality. It’s extremely specific in certain details. These details may or may not reflect reality as the opening disclaimer of each episode discloses.
But the nine-part streaming series does provide interesting depictions of both feminism and what the series creators clearly regard as feminism’s opposite—traditionalism. It’s predictably slanted in favor of feminism. However, it’s not without thoughtful dramatic touches.
The whole series centers upon Phyllis Schlafly. Portrayed by Cate Blanchett (Carol,Truth, Cinderella, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), who does not overact for the most part, the downstate Illinois conservative housewife and activist who took on the feminists’ pet issue, the proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the American Constitution, is the most engrossing character. Who knows how much of this if any of Mrs. America is true. As Schlafly, Blanchett essentially portrays herself playing a Stepford wife.
Other characters are key real-life figures in the so-called women’s movement including Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug, Midge Costanza, Jill Ruckelshaus and various fringe figures. It’s best to watch this series for an overall sense of both political activism in the 1970s and the proliferation of feminism as a dominant cultural trend.
Feminism is a side effect of egalitarianism. As such, it’s merely a variant, an offshoot of no serious value to human progress, which is abundantly clear in today’s culture. As an offshoot, however, feminism triumphed. It did so by dovetailing with its cousin, Puritanism, a philosophical parallel dating back to women’s suffrage and the evil movement to ban alcohol, Prohibition, which was violently foisted upon our young nation at the turn of the previous century — primarily by sinister, religious and Puritanical women.
Of course, Mrs. America fails to dramatize this connection. The clues, tidbits and details are all there for you to piece together for yourself. In color schemes, costume, set and production design and in certain characterizations in this show created by Dahvi Waller, Mrs. America captures the tectonic shift in the role of women in Western civilization which took place in the 1970s. It’s extraordinary. The series depicts the change.
There are many little problems, consistency errors and incomplete stories and subplots. But Mrs. America is brisk, smart and, occasionally, intelligent. A fictional character, Alice, played by Sarah Paulson (Carol, 12 Years a Slave, Mud), is too pat and cardboard to be realistic. But she could’ve been real, or at least made more realistic, and this adds drama.
In frills, carefully curled strands of coiffed hair in the bundled and pinned up mop and an overly produced 1950s aesthetic of old appliances and shades of powder blue, Schlafly comes off as a capable if ruthless conservative feminist. She’s never really driven by a commitment to what she professes are her beliefs or convictions. She lusts for power.
There is truth in this depiction. The hypocrisy that Schlafly exhibited was real. She was a woman who tirelessly worked year after year after year to stop the Equal Rights Amendment by claiming that a woman’s place is at home procreating and tending to her husband and family. Obviously, she did the opposite. Mrs. America makes too much of this, frankly, and not enough of feminist hypocrisy, which is equaled and stems from the same distortion of reality; both “sides” radically, fundamentally oppose individualism.
There are too many loose ends and unfinished subplots in half-baked character and story arcs. A gay son subplot, for instance, never gets resolved. Neither does lesbianism among feminists. Neither does the issue of racism among leftists. A subplot about Chisholm, who ran for president, is embarrassingly abbreviated and underdeveloped.
For example, Gloria Steinem is portrayed as having a long-term affair with a black man. At some point in the series, apparently, she dumps him or vice versa. The barely visible man vanishes. Par for the leftist course toward the one who’s black, he serves a purpose as a means to the end of propagating leftist dogma. He’s never seen or heard from again.
This may have been a series point; that men are discarded as pieces of flesh by women claiming to seek liberation for women when, in fact, what they seek is for women to be as irrational toward men as they prejudge that men are toward women. But in any case his character isn’t realistic or purposeful. Most male characters in the series exist strictly to promote the feminist view that that one’s sex predetermines one’s destiny, fate and life. Not a single male character is truly dimensional. Again, this may be on purpose. Female characters are more dimensional. But they, too, lack development.
Mrs. America’s theme that man is deficient or evil and always betrays woman is depicted without much conviction. The main reason to watch Mrs. America is as a kind of cultural study of grass-roots political activism that sprang forth in the 1970s in the wake of the New Left’s domination of academia, which set up today’s entrenched status quo. Now, this brand of activism horrifyingly rules the streets in a nation that’s crumbling and falling apart.
Watch Mrs. America to find out how and why today’s monstrous Me, Too and other toxic social activist movements and their emerging anarchy came to be.
Steinem’s portrayed by Rose Byrne as a waif. She was never as attractive in real life. Steinem’s a sniveling, sneering, nasty figure. Here, Byrne plays her as softer and sweeter. The series creators seem to think that Gloria Steinem was a real babe. That she’s not doesn’t fit Mrs. America’s thesis that women who’re feminists are hot and women who’re not feminists are not. Steinem was simply less unattractive than other feminist leaders.
Steinem accomplished next to nothing and Mrs. America at least gets this partly right. Unlike Freidan, Robin Morgan and Ayn Rand, Steinem never wrote serious or best-selling books. Steinem never had serious political impact. Even her sole business venture, a publication that’s one of the great publishing failures in the history of the American press, fades into oblivion after great fanfare.
Congresswoman Abzug, portrayed by Margo Martindale, is brash, loud and interesting and Martindale does her best to capture the louder than life woman. But she’s not nearly as abrasive as Abzug was in real life. Apparently, Abzug had two children that aren’t even mentioned until the last episode. Mrs. America never gets at what motivated this angry advocate for government control of human life, who reminds me of Ayn Rand’s literary character Comrade Sonia.
Mrs. America’s best acting performance is by Tracey Ullman as feminist intellectual Betty Friedan, author of the groundbreaking study The Feminine Mystique in 1963.
As Friedan, Ms. Ullman is outstanding — she’s always in character and on point. Friedan is a fascinating figure in the so-called women’s movement. She made the best arguments. She was the most convincing. She spoke like a rational human being. She was a thinker, writer, wife, divorcee and mother. The feminist movement treated her like trash and Mrs. America shows this. But it does not even begin to dramatize who is Betty Friedan.
Clearly, feminism poisons American culture. Much of the toxicity was at least addressed and forecast by Phyllis Schlafly, a fact which is honestly depicted. This wicked notion that one’s identity is based on one’s sex is sufficiently portrayed in Mrs. America.
Yet feminism and the havoc it wreaks doesn’t get its due; Mrs. America doesn’t depict the truth. It does get key facts right, including Schlafly‘s influence on the Republican Party, pushing it toward religionism. So, this is an interesting depiction of how things went down and spiraled America into descent. The ERA was stopped after being ratified by most American states. But it’s never been crushed. Feminism spread like a disease.
Mrs. America dramatizes this horror. It depicts the air-headed movement to reduce sex to power lust based on the fallacy that one’s sex is the essence of one’s identity. It shows both feminism and its variant, Puritanism, as petty, vain and shallow.
Tellingly, the proposed Constitutional amendment, a relatively short proposal, is never explained. The ERA is not shown, let alone defined. It exists on background, apropos of feminism, without facts, definition, detail or exposition.In the end, Mrs. America fails to explore the feminists in earnest, let alone why their feminism spreads. It doesn’t grasp that a presumed conflict between Puritans and feminists is false; that they are both a fraud.
If you watch, and you should because these vacuous, power-lusting women made a demonstrable and sinister mess of daily American life, you could learn what moves foul women to lust for power over men. And lord over other women.
This year’s Democratic presidential campaign is essentially a three-man race. The leading candidates are Michael Bloomberg, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg. This is the result of this month’s debacle in Iowa.
Democrats used new rules imposed by socialist Sen. Sanders following his failed 2016 presidential campaign, which Sanders used at the 2016 Democratic National Convention to leverage power over this year’s Iowa caucus. The new rules required that the popular vote, which is meaningless in terms of earning delegates at the convention, be counted, tallied and reported. For whatever reason, the Iowa Democratic Party claims to have experienced technical difficulties that unexpectedly delayed the recording and reporting of votes. On election night, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg declared victory.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, it’s clear that Buttigieg by all accounts narrowly won the most delegates to this summer’s Democratic National Convention. Socialist Sanders, who narrowly won the popular vote, came in second place. In fact, despite recently claiming victory, Sanders lost the caucus, according to the Iowa Democratic Party. The electoral advantage and momentum goes to Buttigieg.
This week’s primary election in New Hampshire, followed by elections in South Carolina, Nevada and California, are unlikely to change the dynamic as far as I can tell. I also know that almost anything can happen. But the only other viable candidate among Democrats is former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the overbearing media businessman who lusts for power.
Bloomberg is a billionaire who, like Buttigieg and Sanders, seeks to impose radical new government control over Americans’ lives. Though he’s not really contesting early elections, he’s gaining traction in a way that the campaign’s other pro-statism businessmen, such as Yang, Steyer and former candidate Howard Schultz, have not. Besides spending unprecedented amounts on advertising, including bankrolling hours of media appearances by his spokesmen, Bloomberg’s strategy is to ignore the early elections and flood the airwaves with ads. His entire value proposition to the voter is that he “gets it done”.
These three words, leaving aside his attempt to come off as folksy by adopting the name “Mike”, offer the unthinking emotionalist Democratic Party voter the promise of what he or she wants: beat Trump at any cost. Replacing one old, autocratic New York City power player with another aims to beat Trump at his own media savvy game. Ex-independent and ex-Republican Bloomberg, with his Big Government mayoral record and gun control pledge, aligns with today’s Democrats. And Bloomberg, who can afford to go the distance, can win merely by not being either a democratic socialist or gay and lacking experience, which are supposedly the main negatives against Sanders and Buttigieg.
Bernie Sanders could win for his socialism. Americans want socialism, at least many do. We’ve lived under partial socialism for a century. We’ve been indoctrinated with its moral premise, altruism, since the New Left took over education. Doctors want Medicare “for all”. Americans are entangled in ObamaCare and Social Security. Many profit from the welfare state and most subsist on it. That capitalism offers a better life and that Sanders will do to America’s partial capitalism what he’s done to the Iowa caucus — total destruction — is lost on many, perhaps most, Americans. Sanders can beat Trump. Sanders can win. Sanders, like the anti-American who made him possible, Barack Obama, can be elected president and destroy America.
I first wrote about Mayor Buttigieg last fall, when I forecast him as the candidate most equipped to defeat Donald Trump. Like Obama, to whom I compared the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor, he’s primarily built his campaign on an appealing only-in-America story predicated on a factor beyond his immediate control; Pete Buttigieg is gay. Like community organizer Obama, a U.S. senator in his first term when he was elected president in 2008, Buttigieg has mostly local, small scale political and/or government experience. And, like Obama, he speaks in platitudes.
Fundamentally, Buttigieg will be harder for Trump to defeat because it will be harder for Trump to differentiate his candidacy on policy grounds. Buttigieg does not campaign as a radical leftist. He comes off as reasonable. He’s not a gay activist. He’s intelligent. He’s better at extemporaneous oral communication than Trump, whose oral communication is both abrasive and cavalier. Where there are other key contrasts, such as tact and military service, Buttigieg has an advantage. And, with his youth, Harvard graduate Buttigieg is both younger and less emotional than any of his competitors, from Trump, Bloomberg and Sanders to Klobuchar, Yang and others.
But, pardon the cliche, make no mistake; Buttigieg seeks radical reform. He proposes radical change to the origins of the Supreme Court and the electoral college. He supports reparations for slavery. He supports ObamaCare and seeks to impose stricter, total government control of medicine and health care. Buttigieg, like Trump, is religious, which merits a review of his vague proposals with regard to mixing religion and state.
Buttigieg completes or advances the Democratic Party’s march toward religionism in government, from the party’s support for slavery and Prohibition to Jesuit-trained fundamentalist Catholic Jerry Brown, fundamentalist Baptist Jimmy Carter and Methodist Hillary Clinton, who once proposed banning divorce for couples with children. Buttigieg unequivocally represents the rise of religion in the Democrats’ American government. Buttigieg, like Yang, who never stops touting that his wife does not make money and “stays at home”, is likely to impose the New Left’s “woke” brand of egalitarianism, Puritanism and religionism in government.
Other candidates lack momentum. Yang, like Al Gore and Sarah Palin, uses his family, specifically, his wife, who went on a press tour to discuss her allegation of being molested by her doctor, in one of the more disgraceful campaign tactics, and still lost Iowa by a huge margin. Steyer’s proselytizing for his religion, environmentalism, is shrill. Desperate feminist Warren failed to win a single county in Iowa, as CNN’s John King pointed out. Klobuchar’s campaign as a compromiser who’s “electable” because she’s a woman that appeals to Trump voters could help her become running mate. Biden, whose best moment came when he addressed his stuttering, not a substantial point for advancement, stalled and is unlikely to recover.
But the 2020 Democrats’ nominee for president will most likely be a socialist or former mayor who wants the individual to be subordinated to the state. He will probably be a candidate that seeks to ruin the Constitution and violate individual rights more than the current president. And he will try to win by fraudulently branding himself by his folksy first name — “Bernie” the socialist, “Pete” the Christian, “Mike” the autocrat — as against Trump, in whom what you see is what you get.