Monthly Archives: February 2012

An Open Letter to Rick Santorum

Dear Mr. Santorum,

How are you? I am fine. I see you lost the Michigan primary by a few percentage points. You seem to think that’s kind of a win. It’s not, really. A lot of Democrats showed up to vote for you. I think that’s mean. It’s like you were some kind of socially awkward person that became the target of a joke homecoming queen campaign. There are some people that voted for you because they like you, but also a lot of people that voted for you because they see you as an embarrassing joke in the GOP.

How they singled you out, I don’t know, since the whole primary has been one long embarrassing joke for the GOP. A lot of the other more embarrassing jokes have already left the race, so it’s not like you’re even the coolest embarrassment to the GOP. And if you really had something original to say, you’d be a victim of a media blackout like Ron Paul.

Don’t worry, Rick. Not enough people like any of the other candidates for them to win the nomination. Even Romney’s biggest backer hates him. Why do you think the Romney SuperPAC didn’t spend a nickel on mass media ads in Colorado? They wanted you to stay in the race as a spoiler so the convention would have to settle for a compromise candidate that didn’t get bruised up in the primary battles.

I don’t know how you plan to regain your dignity, Rick, but you’ve clearly lost it. Look at me, I’m not even calling you “Mr. Santorum.” You’ve fallen that low. You could pull a Jimmy Carter and do some charitable work, but then I think they’d kick you out of the GOP for something as hippie as that. Besides, since you only donated $4000 last year on a $900,000 income, I don’t think your system could take the shock of doing real charity. By the way, Rick, I earn about $50,000, and I donated north of $5000 last year. I know it’s only a grand more than you, but when you run the percentages, you can see how far short you’ve fallen of that mark.

I know you love Jesus, and I think that’s great. Jesus taught us all to be more charitable, so maybe you could make a start by donating 0.9% of your income and work your way up to 10% over the years. I would be happy for you. It’s not how long the change takes, it’s the fact that the change is happening that’s important. If you could help teach the so-called Christian Conservatives to also be more like Jesus, that would be great! Then, as a nation, we would be more compassionate, tolerant, charitable, and generally decent.

Why, just think of how much better the world would be if the major backers of the GOP weren’t making their money off of cheating Native Americans on their oil leases or from starving African children over unfair debt arrangements! It would be awesome if you could get those guys to be more like Jesus!

But I digress. Right now, Rick, you’re not really winning anything. People are laughing at you, not with you, and I think that is sad. Give me a call if you need someone to talk to, OK, bro?

Keep smiling,

Dean Webb

An Open Letter to Pat Buchanan

Dear Mr. Buchanan,

How are you? I am fine. I hope you’re coping with unemployment OK. Losing a job can be tough. I feel for ya, bro. Really. I do. Even though you earn more being unemployed than I do as a teacher, I can still have a little compassion for you. Of course, you should learn from your mistakes.

Making anti-Semitic comments is a no-no for most employers. Making homophobic comments are also not good. Racist comments have been known to get people in trouble with HR. Combining all three in a book titled The Suicide of a Superpower and having a chapter in it called “The End of White America” is generally a career-ender. And how do you put that on your resume? Who’s gonna hire you after writing the American version of Mein Kampf?

And it’s not that you’re not free to express those kinds of sentiments in the USA. You are. We’re also free to think they’re disgusting and that they have no place in our public dialogue. I’m a decent guy and I got nothing for it. Nobody’s offering me massive speaker fees or huge book advances. Yet, I also don’t get ejected from polite circles for being a horrifying racist. At the end of the day, my soul is intact, and I’m glad for that.

Yes, Pat, you’re free to be that guy. You’re also free to change your mind and learn to love and tolerate the way Jesus taught us all. Or Moses. Or Mohammed. Or Zoroaster. Or Buddha. Or Gandhi. Or Lao Tzu. Or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Do you see a pattern here, Pat? Or do you want your legacy lumped in with Goering, Goebbels, and Hitler? Because that’s where you’re sitting on the ideological bench right now, Pat. You’re free to choose, but we’re also free to not agree with your spew of hate.

Good luck in getting your soul back from Satan,

Dean Webb

Come and See (Иди и смотри)

This is one of those movies one only need see once, and the imprint is forever made. There is so much in the film, based on eyewitness experiences of the Byelorussian genocide during World War II, that one cannot approach it with a brief summary.

It’s not easy writing about this imposing film. It’s not something as simple as Saving Private Ryan or Apocalypse Now. It’s much, much more. Saving Private Ryan was pretty much soldiers storming Normandy and making their way into France to hold a bridge against all odds with a cameo by Ted Danson. Personally, I found the premise of the film insulting, as it basically created a situation in which the lives of one group of soldiers were considered to be worth less than the lives of the one Private Ryan. It’s one of the reasons why I cringe at the prospect of seeing another Spielberg movie. He’s got his moments, but his films overall leave me feeling manipulated.

Apocalypse Now is another overrated film. Better to see the documentary of how it was made… but the soundtrack in the main film makes no sense at all. The thick synthesizers sound more appropriate for a cartoon. Martin Sheen works out all right as the Marlowe figure, but Coppola should have gotten Klaus Kinski to be Kurtz. He should have also gotten Werner Herzog to direct. The fact that I can address both Apocalypse Now and Saving Private Ryan is testament to their accessibility and to the difficulty in confronting Come and See.

I cannot be dismissive of Come and See. I cannot find the adjectives to address it. It is more than a tale of a young man that joins partisans: in its two hours, it stands in stern judgment of offensive war and those who advocate it. It does not allow excuses, nor does it permit the so-called Nuremberg Defense: “We were only following orders.” The Russian auxiliaries, the SS, the regular Wehrmacht, all of the Nazi thrust to wipe out the Russians are there, and all are guilty. There are no beautiful cameo actors to stride across stolen scenes. It is as if the Russians rose from the earth and the Germans emerged from the mist to battle for their lives, and we are there to see it. There are no fancy special effects: the bullets are real, the bombs are real, and the toll on the actors is real.

The film was shot in chronological order, so one watches the aging effects of the war on the film’s main actor. When he appears greyed, shattered, wrinkled, and broken at the end, we do not see a Hollywood makeup job. We see an actor that lived as his character did for nine months – starving, marching, harrowed by the sights around him.

Much of the dialogue in the film is delivered head-on from actors confronting the camera, looking directly into our souls. The music aids the psychological heaviness and impact. The film is so involving, we don’t have time to think “my, what lovely cinematography!” It’s every bit as involving and demanding as Das Boot, but with the added burden of being a documentation of genocide.

Come and See is a film that demands to be seen and then reflected on. It is not entertainment. It is a conduit for pondering, questioning, and a search for answers.

The Woes of the GOP

The news this morning was a hoot. First, there was a poll that revealed that the more people know about either Romney or Gingrich, the less they like them. My take on that is the more people know about Republicans, the less they like them. To prove my point, Karl Rove showed his butt on the teevee.

He was all upset about how Clint Eastwood was somehow putting too much money or influence or both in the Democrats’ corner. Really? Seriously? You got the nerve to say that, Rove?

Karl Rove is hollering about the very thing that he himself is doing. I already knew he was a sleazeball running a SuperPAC with anonymous donors. Now I know he’s that much more hypocritical, arrogant, and venal with his boo-hoo-hoo about Eastwood’s latest clip.

I normally tell my Government classes that when the economy is in poor shape, the incumbent president usually loses the November election. Am I going to have to amend that with, “unless his opposition is divided, with each faction led by someone less likeable than a ham loaf? Because although Karl Rove may look like a ham loaf, I like him – and Gingrich and Romney – less than a tin can full of processed pork.

Manufactured War

As a third carrier group and a mobile commando base make their ways to the Straits of Hormuz, the US Government is now saying that Iran plans to attack the USA directly. The only reason to say that is to get people fired up for a war that someone else wants to happen.

A war with Iran could begin an extinction event of our own making. It’s ludicrous to contemplate. A base on the moon makes more sense than a war with Iran. And yet, because someone powerful will become richer for it, we will have our war with Iran.