Vern Tells It Like It Is: Forgiven

Go ahead, break my heart.

Clint Eastwood at the 2012 Republican National Convention

Now that it’s been a week since Clint Eastwood spoke at the Republican National Convention, and the rest of society has moved on to the Democratic National Convention and the great speeches by Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama, I’m psychologically and spiritually prepared to comment.

Man, you can imagine how crushed I felt when a buddy told me Clint was gonna speak at the RNC. You probly felt it too. They’d been making a big deal about some “Mystery Speaker” and I was actually looking forward to finding out which clown was gonna have to go up there and try to talk up Mitt Romney. Could be funny, I thought. I never guessed the dirty motherfuckers would give the job to one of my heroes.

Did you know The Rock spoke at the RNC in 2000? That was before he was a movie star, but he was the WWE champion. He was in wrestling character so he referred to The Rock in third person ten times in a brief introduction for Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. He didn’t actually endorse George Bush or any Republican policies on stage, he just said “Voting is the patriotic duty of every American and certainly the cornerstone of our democracy.” I guess voting was something that had been very important to him for most of that week, ’cause he also said, “The Rock did an important thing this week. He registered to vote.”

Clint, I was pretty sure, wouldn’t bother to haul his ass to Tampa for some non-partisan bullshit like that. And he already endorsed Romney at some fundraiser and had made some non-specific swipes at Obama. So I spent the day worrying about what he was gonna say, and how bad it was gonna crush my spirit to hear it.

I didn’t believe he would say anything horrible. I knew I didn’t have to worry about him going anti-gay. There was that Vanity Fair article a year ago where he was quoted as saying, “These people who are making a big deal about gay marriage? I don’t give a fuck about who wants to get married to anybody else! Why not?! We’re making a big deal out of things we shouldn’t be making a deal out of … Just give everybody the chance to have the life they want.”

Obviously I knew his politics were different from mine. He was a Republican when he was mayor of Carmel. He’s often used as an example of conservatives in Hollywood. And of course the DIRTY HARRY series that I love so much is not exactly in favor of liberal values like mine.

But this isn’t so much about Democrats and Republicans, right and left, it’s not even exactly about politics. It’s about my ideal of manhood and independence going out there and stumping for a guy who can easily be imagined in a Dirty Harry movie as a douchebag district attorney or assistant mayor or somebody who gives Harry a hard time and later gets put in his place to the delight of the audience. I don’t want to see Clint supporting that guy. It’s like a kid seeing Santa Claus with his beard off.

Peoples ay that somebody like Clint should shut up and just make movies. I don’t agree with that. He’s an intelligent person and should express himself as he sees fit. They also say you should separate the artist from the person, and I can do that sometimes. But it’s not always as easy as people pretend because the person is gonna come through in the art. Clint’s personality comes through especially in the movies he directs, and that’s part of why we love him. It’s not just that he’s cool playing fictional characters in movies, it’s also that he presents a full package of cool: laid back, no bullshit attitude, soft spoken, self reliant renaissance man. Way of the Malpaso. We don’t want to be Harry, we want to be Clint.

Part of Clint’s appeal has always been his refusal to see things in binary terms. Even the Dirty Harry series was always looking for contradictions. By his words Harry is a racist and a sexist, but he learns to respect his various partners. MAGNUM FORCE very pointedly questions the values of DIRTY HARRY, pointing a gun at the audience while replaying the famous “do you feel lucky, punk?” speech, showing a circle of cops who break the rules like Harry. We trust him to do it, but do we trust everybody? In GRAN TORINO he plays a much more extreme racist who does not reform but does bond with his Hmong neighbors so much he chooses them over his own family.

This is the viewpoint that makes his recent movies as a director so great. He doesn’t use the 357 Magnum approach to directing, he’s into nuance. He doesn’t want to make generalizations, he wants to respect individual characters and situations for what they are. So while making a movie about the American soldiers who raised the flag at Iwo Jima he realized he had to make another (way better) movie about the Japanese soldiers who died there doing what they felt they had to. He made a movie where a character decided assisted suicide was the right thing to do, even though this was a huge bugaboo for the Republican party at that time. He made a movie about Mandela that could very easily be interpreted as being symbolically about his hopes for Obama, and then he didn’t give a shit when it didn’t bag a bunch of Oscars despite the subject matter.

And J. EDGAR! I know nobody likes that as much as me, but I stand by it. It’s a movie about a fuckin asshole, it shows him as a human but doesn’t hide that he’s a fuckin asshole. It shows why he was historically important but doesn’t pretend he’s not horrible. And it sneaks in a gay love story. It’s a thoughtful movie, obviously made by thoughtful people.

Eastwood’s art supports what otherwise might be a hollow image of being a rugged individualist, independent thinker type of guy. Usually when a Republican claims to lean libertarian it’s really code for “I’m a huge asshole who really, really hates the idea of my money being used to help other people and improve my community for the benefit of society as a whole.” That shit infuriates them! That’s THEIR money, they’re spending it on a god damn HOT TUB and they will COMPLAIN about the mentally ill homeless person asleep in their path, not try to improve the conditions that led to the situation, thank you very much. And the library doesn’t need to be open all year anyway. But when Clint calls himself libertarian it I believe he really just wants to be left alone and doesn’t care about the usual Republican party bullshit. In that Vanity Fair article, he explains:

“”I was an Eisenhower Republican when I started out at 21, because he promised to get us out of the Korean War. And over the years, I realized there was a Republican philosophy that I liked. And then they lost it. And libertarians had more of it. Because what I really believe is, let’s spend a little more time leaving everybody alone.”

He also mentions “the onset of global warming” as one of the things we should be worrying about, another example of not towing the party line.

So speaking at the RNC, endorsing Mitt Romney – this went against my image of Rogue Republican Clint. This implies that he either likes Romney enough or hates Obama so much that he’s willing to set his usual philosophy aside and lend his celebrity to their cause. The transvaginal ultrasound party, the party that wants a constitutional amendment to stop gay people from getting married (unless it’s to somebody of the opposite sex that they don’t love), the party that doesn’t believe global warming exists. (Romney, in his acceptance speech, got his biggest laugh by belittling Obama for wanting to stop global warming. But he left the wording non-specific enough that when he’s criticized for it later I’m sure he’ll pretend it didn’t mean what it meant.)

Well, that night I was planning to see SAMSARA. And I wasn’t gonna cancel that plan to go home and get sad. After the movie I stayed out for a couple hours, dreading going home and finding out what Clint said.

When I finally did, the first headline I saw about it was something like, “Eastwood loses it, talks to empty chair in bizarre speech.” Ah, shit.

See, while I was worrying about what Clint would say, it never occurred to me that he would be made a laughing stock. That the pain would not be as much from seeing Clint support Romney as from seeing society make fun of Clint. Young dumb fuckers who don’t understand the breadth of his contribution to cinema pointing and laughing at the funny old man. Lumping the star of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, the director of UNFORGIVEN, the producer of STRAIGHT, NO CHASER, the greatest man of all time, with Charlton Heston or fuckin Chuck Norris.

Devin Faraci wrote really nice things about me recently and plugged my Val Verde t-shirt, and I really appreciated that. But I was not as happy when I saw his post on Badass Digest making fun of Eastwood for singing in his movies. See, that’s one of the little things I love about Clint’s career. No, he’s not a great singer (also not that bad of one, if you listen to those), but he loves music and he’s putting his personal touch on his movies, sometimes by scoring them, occasionally by singing on them. How many times have I referenced that song “Beer’s To You” and how it sums up the philosophy of Fight Brotherhood that I love so much in ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN? Answer: many.

And if he wants to sing a song at the end of Gran Torino in character as an aging, growly racist, that is fucking awesome and Devin should fucking know this. Case closed on that one, I mean come on. That one’s self-evident.

But this is the part that got me, in the comments over there:

You see what you did, Republicans? You created a situation where motherfucking CLINT EASTWOOD can be disrespected in this way. The star of Badass Cinema classics including but not limited to the Man With No Name trilogy, the DIRTY HARRY series, WHERE EAGLES DARE, HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER, THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT, THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, UNFORGIVEN, IN THE LINE OF FIRE… and Devin is considering him not eligible for something called “THE BADASS HALL OF FAME.” Something that Judy Blume has already been inducted into. You turned an unassailable institution into yet another punchline for the snark and irony generation, like he was Vanilla Ice or somebody. Thank you, GOP.

The fuckin Republicans are so uncool that at least for a few days they made Clint Eastwood uncool. That should be impossible. No wonder they don’t believe in science. It doesn’t work on them.

But, you know, Devin was probly overstating it to get a reaction, that’s not a big deal. What was crushing to me was seeing these clips on the news and on The Daily Show, and Clint is stumbling over his words and trying to figure out this joke for his Bob Newhart routine of talking to somebody who’s not there, and he seems completely out of it.

I worry about Clint. The guy is 82. He can’t keep going forever. But if you’re that old and you’re directed J. EDGAR then you’re still with it, so I’m greedy. I want more. Those clips made me think that he wasn’t with it anymore. That we might not be seeing anymore Clint Eastwood joints. When I actually uttered the phrase “poor Clint,” that was when I knew this was bad. Nobody wants to see Clint go out like that! He should never be a guy you feel sorry for.

See, the reason I’m writing this so far after the fact is because I didn’t want to watch it. You know how sometimes they do a movie of a book you love, or a remake of your favorite movie, and you decide you’re just not ever gonna watch it, because you’d rather not know? Or there’s some graphic video on the news, somebody getting shot or something, and you look away because you don’t want that image in your memories? That’s kinda how I felt. I was thinking I was never gonna watch it.

But a couple days later I decided to watch it.

I’m glad I did. It wasn’t as bad as I expected. Thank you everybody for lowering my expectations.

I’m not saying he did a good job, and I’m definitely not saying I agree with him. His main point, which is not unreasonable, was the idea that “when somebody does not do the job we gotta let them go.” I disagree with his conclusion that Obama hasn’t done the job, and even if he’d done worse I don’t see how that leads to wanting to put Romney in his place. The part that made me cringe the most was when he said “maybe it’s time for a businessman.” Not because of Clint’s aside making fun of Obama for being a lawyer, apparently forgetting that Romney is also a lawyer, but because he’s gotta remember that Bush was supposed to be the businessman, the guy that was gonna run the country like a business. You saw how that shit worked out, Clint! You’re mad at Obama for not fixing the economy well enough, but you want to repeat the thing that broke the economy in the first place?

It’s been pointed out that all of the Republicans who ran the country for the 8 years before Obama were carefully hidden away during the convention. Not like you would hide a laptop that you were leaving in your car, more like you would hide the bong when mom is visiting. They elected Bush and Cheney two times and they called us traitors for criticizing them and they hated us for disagreeing with their wars and now, well, you know what, let’s not have them speak or show them or mention that they exist.

So maybe they have buyer’s remorse, but then why are they not repudiating the Bush philosophy? They’re just saying the same shit – “maybe it’s time for a businessman.” They’re just not pretending it’s “compassionate conservatism” anymore. They dropped the compassionate.

In the speech Clint also says he doesn’t want to close Gitmo because it was expensive to build, and that the idea of trying terrorists as criminals (at least if it’s in downtown New York City) is “stupid.” He’s against wars but also against prosecuting it as a crime. But I’m not gonna argue with Dirty Harry on that one.

The whole premise of speaking to an empty chair, pretending that Obama is there and telling him to go fuck himself is too obvious of a symbol for the way they’ve been handling Obama from the beginning. They hate some guy they made up who’s a socialist and a Muslim and also an atheist and who cut work requirements for welfare and who closed an auto factory before he was in office and who’s so arrogant and looks down on them… I don’t know how they look at the actual guy and see all that, so they have to just pretend he’s sitting in a chair there.

So I’m no fan of Clint’s speech, but the good news is that he makes these points like a guy speaking his mind, not like the confused person that the clips of the worst parts made it look like. He doesn’t seem like he’s lost it. He’s just speaking off the cuff and trying to turn his political thoughts into a comedy skit, so sometimes it doesn’t come out clear. He does better than I would. There’s still hope for J. EDGAR 2.

Equally important, I don’t think his independence has been entirely compromised. He clearly was not saying whatever they thought he was gonna say, or following the GOP rule book. He’s probly not supposed to criticize Obama for not closing Gitmo, since Republicans don’t want him to close Gitmo. You’re not supposed to point out that Obama was against the unpopular war in Iraq, or if you do you’re supposed to pretend that’s an outrage and not say “that’s okay.”

If you make a “whether you are a Democrat or a Republican” comment you are NOT supposed to add “or whether you’re a Libertarian or whatever.” THERE ARE ONLY TWO PARTIES.

You’re not supposed to bring up Afghanistan – Romney didn’t in his speech. You’re not supposed to question getting into the war, since it happened when Bush was in office, and has always been supported by Republicans (and Democrats, honestly). I like that Clint wants us out of Afghanistan today (taking him back full circle  to becoming a Republican to end the Korean War). I’m not sure why he thinks Romney wants to “bring them home tomorrow morning,” but he’s just being optimistic I guess.

I like that he calls it “something to be thought about.” That’s the director of J. EDGAR all right. He’s not telling us what to think. It’s just something to be thought about.

So, Clint, I’m still with ya. I mean no, I’m not with ya on this one, but you’re still the best. I hope if Obama gets another term you’ll begrudgingly learn to respect him, like you did Tyne Daly in THE ENFORCER. Beer’s to you, my amigo.

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 6th, 2012 at 2:39 am and is filed under Vern Tells It Like It Is. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

191 Responses to “Vern Tells It Like It Is: Forgiven”

  1. A libertarian is supposed to be socially Left and economically Right. So when a libertarian endorses the Right… that’s got to be bad for their conscience…

    Clint aside, I hope this Romney guy is just another Bob Dole sacrificial candidate who only looks like he’s got a chance right now because the US media gets better ratings if it looks like a tight race.

    But you guys elected Bushes 2.5 times so who the fuck knows

  2. Good to know Clint hasn’t lost it like the UK media seemed to suggest over here. Pretty much everything I read said he’d lost it on stage as full-blown senilty kicked in.

    That was the main reason I refused to watch any footage, so it’s heartening to know that, for all it’s perceived faults, Clint wasn’t as bad as what was made out.

  3. Karlos: Yeah, I had the same impression from the German press. There were serious newspapers (websites) talking about him being a “senile old man, mumbling incoherent stuff to an empty chair”, but I guess that’s the decline of modern journalism. Instead of sending a reporter over there and witnessing it with their own eyes, they just look up some clips on YouTube and write their story about them.

  4. yeah, this was a bummer, I haven’t actually watched the speech yet, I’m glad to hear that it’s not as bad as I feared

    the conservative way of thinking is really shitty and it’s always a bummer when friends and family submit to that kind of brainwashing

  5. it’s just in general pretty depressing and shitty times we live in, Bush ran this country into the fucking ground

    here’s hoping that Obama gets re-elected and can maybe help turn the tide

  6. You know what’s even worse about this, the Romney campaign has pretty much left Clint out to dry. I saw Ann on CBS the next morning, and whenever Clint was brought up she turned the subject around subtly but it was clear they were embarrassed by what went down. Oh and Mitt liked it, huh. Then why the fuck is your “mystery guest” not featured in your package video, and your wife comes out the next morning and shrugs him under the rug?

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/scocca/2012/08/clint_eastwood_gop_convention_the_romney_campaign_sells_out_its_surprise_speaker_.html?tid=sm_tw_button_toolbar This article explains quite a lot about this. I think anybody planning to vote this November should read it, but this quote in particular speaks to what I expected was going on.

    “They screwed up the un-screwuppable. This was like having one of the featured guests at the State of the Union drop his trousers on camera. If you botch that, how are you going to execute the more complicated constitutional duties? Mitt Romney can’t handle Clint Eastwood trying to do him a favor, and he wants to take on unfriendly negotiations with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Vladimir Putin?”

    As for how this may tarnish Clint’s legacy, there was a poll that came out afterwards that saw Clint still get a huge approval rating. So in the end it may not mean much, might be more trivial than vital to his legacy as an American icon not just a film actor. I hope it is.

  7. Wow, i was crushed when i heard that he’d spoken to these jackals, and even more crushed when friends, knowing my love for Clint, sent mocking emails to me laughing at the man. I’m all for him speaking his mind, but it seems he’s not even in step with the people he’s supporting, really. Fuck the Romneys for being embarrassed, when Mitt gets elected it’ll take about 2 months for everyone to realise that old familiar feeling crawling into their gut, “Oooh, we made a mistake, we shouldn’t have been fooled by Romney, maybe Obama wasn’t so bad after all”.

    Romney came to the UK and started talking a load of rubbish about the Olympics, he was met with a lot of angry comments along the lines of “Who are you to talk down to us, pal?” and backed down like the snivelling coward he is. Like Vern says, he backtracks on his vague statements a lot and wriggles out of any tough situations.

    Anyway, i can’t even remember what i was going to say except for i’ve been a Clint fan my whole life, that the world wouldn’t be much worse off tomorrow if Romney blinked out of existence forever, and that this is a really well-written article, Vern. You’ve summed up perfectly what i’ve wasted 3 paragraphs not saying.

  8. You found the right Words Vern.American Politics is none of my business,but Clint is a Giant.
    And i wont write what i think about Devin Faraci,cause otherwise you have to delete my Post again.
    But that whole “Badass Hall of Fame” thing is nonsense.It started great with Warren Oats but soon became a Joke.
    Clint Eastwood dont need that Crap.

  9. Since Badass Cinema does have a natural rightward-leaning politics, and Eastwood isn’t the only big action man who endorses Republicans, it’s encouraging to see the folks around here mostly have the good leftish sense to separate real life from fantasy.

  10. This particular hardcore rightwinger believes that if you can enjoy Seagal’s movies regardless of his political beliefs, you can enjoy Clint’s movies regardless of his political beliefs. I watch movies to escape from this sick, sad world.

    Unless they’re Tubby Riefenstahl flicks. Fuck that fat asshole. Move the fuck to Cuba, if you like it so much.

  11. Yeah brainwashing has gotta be it. There is obviously no way in hell Clint could possibly have come to his own conclusions based on his 82 years on planet Earth. Guy doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing. :P

  12. Fuck, that was in response to Griffs first post, I’ve gotta start refreshing the page before I comment. Looks like I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing…

  13. I didn’t think Mr. Eastwood’s speech was that bad.

    I guess I’m in the severe minority on this. Whatever.

    He stumbled through 2 or 3 parts, and he said some things that at best had no political relevance or at worst were damaging & retrograde for the message of the party he was ostensibly representing, but overall I thought it was pretty solid (despite my being a Democratic Party supporter this cycle for sure).

    It was in the wrong time slot, in my opinion. The speech wouldn’t have been such a big deal, wouldn’t be considered an embarrassment/disaster, if it hadn’t happened late in primetime directly before the 2 main guys that night at the convention.

    In conclusion, go watch UNFORGIVEN again.

  14. I don’t think he came off as disrespectful either – the swipes he took at Obama seemed more like playful ball-busting to me. Clint seems like the kind of guy that has too much respect for the office of the president to disrespect whoever is currently occupying it.

  15. Jam, that video is hilarious. Clint is obviously at odds with a lot of what the Republicans stand for. I look forward to hearing about Romney being caught out in some kind of rent-boy orgy murder scandal, he looks the sort, shouldn’t take too long. He’ll probably beg for forgiveness on tv though, then everything’ll be ok again.

  16. No, no, let’s not give him too much credit. Clint did, in fact, do the throat-slashing sign when he referred to, in so many words, letting Obama go.

    That was classless, tasteless, and potentially dangerous.
    That’s a 15 yard penalty, ejection, fine from the commissioner’s office, and probable suspension in the NFL.

    He was inciting the worst of people’s nature in that moment. Again, it wouldn’t be quite such a big deal if it hadn’t happened in primetime right in the midst of the lineup of major speeches everyone was tuned in to see/hear.

    Clint didn’t embarrass himself any worse than did, say, Reince Priebus or Governor Nikki Haley, but that’s an incredibly low bar; that’s not saying much at all.

  17. I just liked the fact that he upstaged all of the Republicans.

    They all look plastic and hollow next to a guy with real charisma, honesty, and character, however fucked up Clint Eastwood’s politics.

    People don’t really mind if you disagree with them as long as you say it straightforward and with some wit. In fact, they even like you for it. Someone with wit or charm, who agrees with you, or someone without wit or charm, who disagrees with you, pretty much doesn’t make an impression. But a guy who challenges your position with charm and gumption makes you take notice. I mean Clint Eastwood is WRONG, but he’s wrong with conviction.

    I mean who cares about what the rest of the plastic hollow men said? Who remembers what they said? I don’t. All a bunch of predigested posturing meant to appeal weakly to many and offend no one, and therefore utterly forgettable. Empty bromides and platitudes. Zzz…

    So thank you Clint Eastwood, by putting the Republican ticket in perspective: bland, insipid, uninspiring, without charm. You’ve done the Democrats a favor.

  18. It should be noted that The Rock spoke at the DNC as well that year, but nobody brings that up because the RNC thing happened first. (This is kinda like how Madonna kissed Christina Aguilera two seconds after kissing Britney but nobody remembers that either)

    Anyway, great article Vern. I like how you reasonably, rationally explain why you cut Clint some slack even though you can’t do the same for Chuck Norris. It really helps that Clint doesn’t come across as a religious nut (have you SEEN Chuck’s new anti-Obama video?) and Chuck’s body of work simply doesn’t compare to Clint’s.

  19. I have not watched the speech, because I tend to ignore this whole dog-and-pony show whenever possible. I already know who I’m voting for so why bother indulging any of this childishness? I’m not worried about Romney, though. I’m turning 35 this weekend, old enough to be a grizzled homicide detective who does things his own way, the book be damned. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the nine elections that have transpired in my three and a half decades on this rock, it’s this: the American public will always elect the more handsome candidate. Romney clearly loses on this one.

  20. -Mouth

    I must’ve missed that but yeah, that isn’t the kind of thing I’d ever try to defend. It’s a shame is what it is.

  21. You know how the Academy Awards broadcast sometimes shows a sketch where existing footage of a movie is intercut with joke footage, like when they edit material in such a way that the show’s host is shown driving around with Batman? They should have utilized that technology at the Republican convention. They could have edited ABSOLUTE POWER with new footage that would show Eastwood’s shocked reaction to Obama while he hid behind the curtains in the Oval Office during a botched heist. I’ll leave it up to the organizers to determine whether they depict Obama killing a hooker or introducing equitable health care legislation.

    Or they could have edited BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY to show Clint giving Romeny a sponge bath while discussing Republican family values.

  22. Thanks for this article. Devin is a writer I usually like, but I was bummed about his post. It seemed like he was taking cheap shots at someone many of us consider a legend. Clint deserves the respect you give him.. Thanks. P.S.- I forwarded this article to my Mom.

  23. Rudolf Klein-Rogge

    September 6th, 2012 at 7:41 am

    The Mr and Mrs Chuck Norris video neal2zod mentioned is pretty hilarious and worth posting a link to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFLNmThRMNQ
    You Americans are facing 1000 years of darkness if Obama wins. According to Lady Norris.

    I don’t think I’ll ever watch the entire Clint vid, but I watched a minute or so of it and reacted pretty much the same way Vern did. I have no idea why so many think this is hilarious. All I see was some dude saying what’s on his mind.

  24. I don’t understand why Devin Faraci has any credibility at all. Vern, why do you let this man bother you? Because he likes some of the same movies you do? Because he has “Badass” in his website’s name? He’s a third-tier internet loudmouth. Let it go.

  25. Clint will always be in the badass hall of fame, not only that but he will have an entire wing dedicated to his cinematic achievements.

    I disagree with Clint’s message but I respect that he went out there and spoke from the heart. He was not just a puppet reading off of a teleprompter reciting a bunch of talking points, he was expressing genuine concern and frustration. I think his concerns & frustrations are misguided, but they are genuine.

    PS: If Clint was willing to star in a production as lame as the RNC, I bet he would be willing to do EXPENDABLES 3.

  26. Anybody who thinks Clint’s body of work doesn’t qualify him for the badass hall of fame is a fucking stooge. The end.

  27. Rudolf Klein-Rogge

    September 6th, 2012 at 10:06 am


  28. First of all, Clint’s speech proves the theory that an actor without script leads to awkward moments. Not his greatest moment but it will be forgotten soon enough.

    Second, and more importantly, the comment by Devin proves that he is still the ultimate troll on the internet. Clint Eastwood has starred and directed in some of the most iconic badass films ever. I disagree with his politics and am a die-hard liberal, but the man’s politics don’t detract from my enjoyment of his films.

  29. In fairness I should mention that Faraci wrote another comment below that that said “He’ll get in there eventually,” implying that he was at least partly kidding. Still made me mad though just because if there’s a Badass Hall of Fame the building should probly be shaped like Clint.

  30. @Rudolph your comment is amazeballs!

    It’s hard to imagine the man who put so much of himself into the soul searching of a perfect world standing arm in arm with what looks increasingly like the American arm of the global Taliban.

  31. Who made Devin Faraci the arbiter of Badassness anyway? Fuckin guy wouldn’t know a badass if one paraglided through his window and used his own 1/6 scale ewok to lever out his eyeball.

  32. That Chuck Norris clip is every bit as awful as I thought it’d be. Fuck, I knew I shouldn’t have clicked on it. Now I just want to throw all my DVDs of his stuff into the trash.

    At least I got to see what looked like his pantry. Dude’s got a lot of aprons.

  33. Well, at least some of the time Devin is using a different definition of “badass” than we are. The one where you can say “hey, those Doctor Who pajamas are badass!” I think ours puts the emphasis on BADass and theirs is more often badASS. I don’t like it, but I guess you can’t control the evolution of language. I wanted to say that although he’s written things that have infuriated me many times over the years I do keep reading him because I think he’s a good writer, and I appreciate that he seems to be trying to be nicer since leaving Chud for Badass Digest. Also I think his positive review of FIGHTING was what made me watch it, and I like that one.

  34. To elaborate on Vern’s point, it is my understanding that Faraci’s definition of “badass” includes the following:

    Make of that what you will.

  35. That Mr and mrs Norris video would have been way funnier if they actually claimed that America would fall into a thousand years of darkness if Obama wins. If there is one thing I took away from watching that “PSA” it was the erroneous title of the video.

  36. I’m trying to keep these actors political views separate from there great movies, but it’s getting harder and harder to do. Clint Eastwood is a complete asshole for that chair speech. He’s now in the Chuck Norris category for me, with the exception that he actually has made good movies. Fuck both of them and their bullshit views. This idiot Chuck Norris just made a video where he states that reelecting Obama will bring a 1,000 years of darkness. WTF? It a shame that Bruce Lee didn’t break that mans neck in real life so we wouldn’t have had to deal with 40 years of this complete moron.

  37. Powerful, hilarious, poignant. Great stuff, Vern.

  38. Chitown, I don’t think that’s fair to Clint. I heard some people saying Clint seemed a bit out of it an Oscar’s thing a few years back. Obviously, I’m not chilling with him on set, but it’s possible that Clint’s cognitive functioning, etc. are declining a bit but he’s still able to manage directing. There are cases where people can continue to function highly in certain niche talent areas even though there overall with-it-ness is declining. In contrast, Chuck is younger, far harder to the right, and more political in nature.

    I think Clint allowed himself to get pulled into this thing. He basically made a bad judgment. But, like Vern is saying, just looking at Clint’s body of work and his principles, I don’t think it’s fair to demonize him over a moment of bad judgment in his twilight years. And I don’t think there’s any need for the overall level of vitriol. While these kinds of things may appeal to the clueless in the far right, the moderate person sees Clint’s speech and pretty much everything about Chuck Norris’s politics for the sad thing that they are. So, they’re indirectly helping the Dems’ cause.

  39. Vern, you are not only the best film critic I have ever encountered. You are also a truly gifted wordsmith when it comes to politics, culture, nostalgia and life philosophy. This is a truly wonderful essay that explains a lot of things that made me sad. Things for which I lacked the words.

    Thanks man. In my mind, you’re every bit as badass as Clint.

  40. The Original... Paul

    September 6th, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    You guys have the weirdest definitions of “right wing” and “left wing”. “Just give everybody the chance to have the life that they want”? That’s supposed to be a RIGHT-wing view? I can’t think of a single sentence that would summarise my (liberal) ideals better than that. Maybe “Do what you want, as long as you don’t hurt others when you’re doing it.”

    As for the “chair episode”… I haven’t watched it, and honestly don’t want to. It’s one thing for Chuck Norris to be an asshole. Quite a different thing for John Wayne to be. But Clint Eastwood? That’s a very, very different story.

    Y’see, while I can see where Vern’s sentiments about Clint come from, my own are very different. This isn’t just a legendary actor, for me. This is one of the few men who I can honestly say made me a fan of film. And while the others were also men of genius (Alfred Hitchcock, Bernard Herrmann), Clint was always less of a mythical figure and more of an approachable, relatable guy, who just happens to be one of the great masters of his craft.

    I grew up with Clint’s films. Even the not-so-good ones (“Heartbreak Ridge”, “The Rookie”, “Dead Pool”, “The Gauntlet”) I’ve seen many, many times over. “Every Which Way but Loose”, “Any Which Way you Can”, “Dirty Harry” and “Magnum Force” I’d count among some of my all-time favorite films. And if it wasn’t for “Unforgiven” I probably wouldn’t have watched a single Western today.

    Now you might say (justifiably) that there are actors with more range than Clint. But could you honestly imagine having a drink with De Niro or Pacino? Can you imagine Kevin Spacey having a primate for a partner? Clint, to me, was like a family member. Like that great-uncle you had that you were always slightly in awe of but who’d always be the first to break the ice and make you smile when you were feeling down. Come to think of it, that’s the effect that many of his films had on me. Still do.

    So for something like this to happen… nah man, I don’t want to see it. Vern called Clint a “hero”. I’d call him an icon. There is nothing worse than seeing one of your idols fall and turn out to be… just human.

  41. Count me as one of those who enjoy Devin’s writing, abet with caveats. The guy’s often spot on in his analysis, whether it be the deleted story line from this summer’s THE AMAZING SPIDER MAN, his piece on the importance of film in preserving movies, or even why TDKR might come out as a director’s cut (because IMAX has a limit, and Nolan may have had to cut material to fit that limit). Plus the man can be the perfect wry curmudgeon in his best moments, something I can relate to.

    But the guy sure has an MO when it comes to setting people off, and it usually follows something like; stir the pot with a very slanted piece, and then troll the living fuck out of the comment sections with pithy one sentence responses. There are writers to whom I’ll regularly comment on, sometimes with flattery, and sometimes with pushback. Even *gasp* our man Vern here. But that’s because I know that if he responds it’ll at least be weighed and fair, and I’ll go “okay, I get what he’s saying.” I would never do that with Devin, just because he’d do the one sentence assault, and the world would be no better for it (at those are the stakes ever single time I post: the fate of world baby!).

  42. Paul, in the U.S. conservatives believe in “small government,” which they talk about as freedom and “being left alone,” but in fact it’s mostly about not paying for social programs, things that help other people, things that they don’t realize help them. Many of them SAY they want everybody to be left alone, but then they want to legislate based on their religion, they want to not allow women a choice in their health care, not allow birth control (!) [this is a new one, as far as I know, but jesus], not allow gays to be married, not allow gays to adopt, not allow gays to be in the military or teachers or boy scouts, not allow Janet Jackson’s boob to fall out on TV, some of them are talking about banning porn again (that’s not gonna get them much traction, but they’re serious about it).

    My point is that I think Clint is more legitimate in his philosophy of “being left alone” than most who are in power at the party he stumped for. As he said in the Vanity Fair quote the party has evolved from what it was when he first joined.

  43. Good thing Clint just acted at the RNC and didn’t direct it. Though if he did, it would probably pique my interest.

  44. I don’t live in America , I live in Italy , where we have actually already elected a millionaire , center-right wing , religious ( but with a divorce on his back and a trial for underage prostitution in his future) media mogul with 3-4 TV channels and a bunch of newspapers , who once called Obama “good looking and tanned” , so I’m always looking for different and new sources of information , because , you know , the information over here may very well be a little bit biased in the majority of cases. I want to ask to the Americans here in the comments section : has Obama really failed ? And how ? Is he really that bad of a President ? Because when Vern described Clint as being turned into a punchline by the snark and irony generation , I was immediately reminded of the attitude that some Italian journalists use when speaking of President Obama . I’m an outside observer , so I don’t really know all that much and our views of American politics over here are a little bit more than filtered by our singular political situation , bit it seemed to me that he achieved some pretty big victories , like the end of military involvement in the Iraq War.

  45. I just find it disheartening that it was Clint’s somewhat rambling, didn’t-quite-work comedy routine that was this huge embarrassment for the party, not the seemingly never-ending stream of shameless lies, distortions, ugly innuendo and absurd baseless allegations which comprised the rest of the convention (probably most notably in Paul Ryan’s breathtakingly disingenuous speech). We’re a nation offended by ad-libbing but not lying. Any wonder that we get exactly the government we deserve?

    It harder for me to see Clint lend his support to these jackals than it was for me to see him make a speech which didn’t quite work. I mean, his legacy and art is secure by this point. He’s in no danger of not being taken seriously. He may deservedly be the object of some smug jokes for a few weeks, but that won’t last. It’s harder to see him schilling for Romney, though. It’s like seeing Charleton Heston go crazy in his later years after he spent a lifetime being a genuine progressive. Damn, a lifetime of fierce independent thinking and no-bullshit honesty, and *this* is the guy you sell out for?

  46. The Original... Paul

    September 6th, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Vern – yep, that sounds more like the Conservatives I know and love.

    I knew the Republicans were against things like birth control and abortion and drug legalisation, but I didn’t realise they dressed it up in the rhetoric of “freedom”. A lot of what I know about US politics comes from websites like “The Young Turks”, who I enjoy but tend to regard with scepticism because they’re very much on one side of the political debate. It’s quite interesting, as an outsider, to put the pieces together and find some kind of truth in them.

    In local news, it’s quite possible that David Cameron will receive a “vote of no confidence” over here. Some people (regular people, not anti-Tory political pundits) are predicting that that will happen by Christmas; and if it does, it probably means the dissolving of the Government in the UK. I’m really, really behind on UK political news right now because it’s getting more and more depressing. At a certain point it just gets draining to read it. It’s gotten to the point where 90% of it seems to be politicians trying to appear “tough on crime” by bringing in sensationalist laws that are open to ridiculous abuses, or making ambiguously racist statements about immigration that, even to my uneducated ears, seem to have little basis in fact. (I live in a working-class low-crime street in a strong multicultural area, so both crime and immigration mean very little to me as “issues” anyway.)

  47. I think people generally drift further right as they get older. You spend a few decades learning to navigate society and then by the time you get to the point where you really know what the fuck you’re doing you realise that the world has changed and you’re becoming obsolete. It’s only natural to push back a little. It’ll happen to all of us. (see vern’s article on the death of video stores for further details).

  48. Touche, Mode7. But my problem with the new status quo for home video is that it is too conservative (lack of choice, controlled by corporations making deals with each other, small businesses crushed and spit upon, lower quality because there’s no competition to worry about doing a better job) so I’m not getting more conservative yet.

    Kermit, the idea that Obama has failed has been the prevailing one in the media for the last couple years, but I don’t agree with it. I’ll probly have to do an epic column about this soon, but if you go back and look at what I wrote back then I think everybody agreed that this was a huge mess that nobody could get us out of and we just hoped he could do a good job. Right wingers pretended we thought he was gonna be some kind of messiah, and now some people have decided that was true.
    Of course I haven’t agreed with every single thing he’s done, but he’s accomplished a whole lot and spoken to us like intelligent adults, which seems almost surreal after 8 years of Bush. His health care improvements are compromised compared to the liberal dream of what could be, but monumental considering how long people have been trying to do this with no success at all. And it seems to me like conservatives should like him more than I do since he took what Bush said was his foreign policy and then did a good job of it so it was hard to argue with. First election in a long time where the Republicans aren’t allowed to even mention that there is such a thing as foreign policy. Usually they think that’s Democrat Kryptonite.

    In his speech last night Bill Clinton did a great job of explaining some of what Obama has accomplished, but part of why it’s been refreshing is because most people don’t know any of that because of the dumb way it’s all been covered by the media.

  49. I know some bona fide libertarians, the Ron Paul supporter type. I don’t agree with their politics, but at least they truly are consistent in applying their “leave me the hell alone” worldview to both fiscal (e.g., low taxes, small government) and social (e.g., pro-choice, pro gay rights, pro civil liberties, anti-war) issues. I don’t think that’s something that can work in practice, but at least it’s consistent, unlike the Republican view which basically says government should not provide for people and should keep its hands off people’s money but should try to “legislate morality” (abortion, gay rights). I think Clint is more of a true libertarian in that sense. But I agree with Subtlety, that it’s sad that Clint would come out and stump for Romney, however maverick-y his speech was.

  50. Always a pleasure to see you telling it like is, Vern. Bring on the epic column! I have a feeling we’re gonna need it…

  51. Hey so if Romney is required by his religion to believe in a man who used magic sunglasses to see secret messages… will he be asking Rowdy Roddy Piper for an endorsement next?

  52. Let me be clear:

    The DNC in Charlotte made the RNC in Tampa look like a junior high remedial class project.

    Charlotte made Tampa look like a desolate swamp of ineptitude.

    The DNC speakers made the RNC MCs look like a bunch of rank amateurs.

    The marvelously diverse crowd in Charlotte genuinely loves their leaders & representatives; the dittoheads in Tampa, other than when they cheered some policy point regarding human fetuses, looked & sounded reluctantly resigned to the duty of voting pro forma for the empty, mendacious suits at the podium.

    The ideas raised & articulated the last few days by First Lady Michelle Obama, President Bill Clinton, Governor Jennifer Granholm, President Barack Hussein Obama, Governor Brian Schweitzer, and especially American hero Senator John Kerry absolutely annihilated the hopelessness & obvious incompetence of the sad, feckless messengers conveying the platform of the Republican party. One party argued with an invisible man in a chair; the other party renewed my pride & belief in American exceptionalism.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012!
    SASHA OBAMA 2044!

  53. Every American OutlawVerner at least 18 years of age needs to vote Democratic this year if for no other reason than that American hero Senator John Kerry made a brilliant ROCKY IV reference.

    Kerry’s speech was seriously one of the greatest speeches I’ve ever heard.

  54. don’t worry Mouth, I already planned on it

  55. “some of them are talking about banning porn again”

    HAHAHAHA, gooooooooooooooood fucking luck with that morons, that’s like saying you’re gonna prevent the sun from rising in the morning

  56. “…if you go back and look at what I wrote back then I think everybody agreed that this was a huge mess that nobody could get us out of and we just hoped he could do a good job”.

    That’s almost exactly our own situation here : after years of Berlusconi ( who , by the way , promised 1 million jobs when he first started his political career….and now in some regions of the peninsula , especially the south , we have a 48% unenployment rate ) , no one wanted the job when he stepped down . We now have a technical government that was not elected by the population , with emergency measures to fix all the shit from the past years . We’re struggling and bleeding , all of us , from the poor to the moderately rich.
    We even had a couple of months ago , a wave of suicides of entrepreneurs , unable to keep up with the costs of living .

    The big problem and difference here , is that a lot of people are already blaming Monti , our current Prime Minister , for al the problems we have . There’s no historical memory of Berlusconi anywhere , no one is trying to point out that we’re in this mess beacuse of him , and he’s already planning a return to politics by the end of the year. Try to imagine that , in your country , with McCain or Bush !

    …and I’m looking forward to that epic column about Obama soon , I always like to read an opinion from the inside , especially when we’re talking about the political situation of a foreign ( for me) country.

  57. McCain’s not a bad man and he probably wouldn’t have been a bad leader for the US if he wasn’t partnered up with the Tea-liban.

  58. As a student of American politics, and a movie fan, it has always puzzled me how the movies of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood can be called right-wing. They usually play a loner who sides with the people against a wealthy tycoon. And afterwards they move on leaving the people to elect their own sheriff and/or mayor. Don’t they realize that this is pure socialism?!

  59. The politics of 95% of all films that come out of Hollywood are 1950s level socially conservative. Yes, sure you get some surface level grit, but down in their core, what are these films really saying?

    Monogamous, heterosexual love between two people of the same race is usually the end goal.

    Women rarely have important roles for the story unless it’s a romance, in which case they do nothing but talk about men.

    Minorities are generally kept in socially secondary roles (the best friend, but not the lead, the sassy lovelife advice giver who never gets laid, the sacrifice that allows the white lead to learn an important lesson, the piece of ass, the muscle).

    Most films are loose Jesus metaphors. Especially action-fantasy movies.

    Police are always good at their jobs.

    Military force is always glorious.

    Dying for your country is always glorious.

    Even when their *is* corruption in the system, the inherent goodness of the American way of life wins out and the corruption is defeated, thus reaffirming that there was nothing wrong with the status quo to begin with.

    The Government is justified in lying to the citizenry.

    Some people in public positions of power are greedy or stupid, but they are always beaten by the bootstrap hero.

    You can make it on your own in business, even in an age of hypercapitalism.

    Various model minority status is given to any non-scary minority (read: non-Blacks).

    The Protestant Work Ethic is the key to success, nevermind that most wealth in this nation is inherited.

    Consumption is the end goal of all activities. (Look at the classic sitcom structure in which literally buying something or creating some new form of consumerism is very often the solution to the problem).

    The war on terror is valid.

    Preemptive military strikes are valid because there are evil brown people who want to kill us.

    General themes of anti-intellectualism.

    Blind faith is a major asset.

    Sure, Wayne’s films had a nasty brand of racism to them and many of Clint’s starring roles contained glorification of violence, (which I’m pretty much okay with because A: it’s fun to watch violence and B: As a person who has experienced some pretty heady violence, I can tell you…it’s pretty fun to do too), which I think is where people are coming from on that argument. But in never strikes me as sincere, because even a surface reading shows that almost every film Hollywood has ever made follows an invisible code that is barely more liberal than The Hayes Code.

  60. Pegsman: it’s more the actors than the movies, I think. But Wayne got the reputation from THE GREEN BERETS (probly the only pro-Vietnam War movie) and for so many westerns where he kills the Natives. With Clint it’s mainly DIRTY HARRY because of its view that human rights are an excuse for liberal bureaucrats to coddle murderers and get in the way of justice. Most of his other movies don’t have a distinctly right wing point of view that I’ve noticed.

    Tawdry: sounds like a good screenplay you’re working on. Let us know how it turns out.

  61. I don’t know Tawdry, how many action movies are there where the military are the dicks for trying to blow up someplace instead of just letting the hero handle it?

    There’s DIE HARD, THE ROCK, UNDER SIEGE, and THE AVENGERS just off the top of my head.

  62. Yes, this reenforces the protestant work ethic. Horatio Alger myth and all that.

    You see the higher ups as stupid, but have you EVER seen a movie that showed the ground troops and line and file being totally incompetent as an impediment to the hero?

    The military action is justified in The Rock, just not the one that was sanctioned. And, since Nic Cage saves the day, it reaffirms that the system is fine as is.

    Dr. Strangelove
    Fight Club

    Those are all films that, to one degree or another, challenged the system as a whole. The hero might win, but there are permanent wounds.

  63. Pyrrhic victories. I just want more movies with pyrrhic victories

    RE: Vern,

    It’s going well. New draft goes out to a production house that made a #1 movie within the last month. And I have a meeting on Tuesday for another film. I told the producer I had 3 takes on a premise he liked…I only had the one he already read.

    So, yeah. Thank you for identifying why I get really invested in discussing politics on movie message boards at 3:30 am.

  64. High five tawdry.

    You forgot the really scary one tho – how in movies a scientist is always an arrogant sociopath who is playing God and doing things that are “against nature” and will inevitably receive poetic justice at the hands of either their own creation or an average joe.

    It’s fascinating how this childish “science is bad” idea that was created purely as an excuse for cool giant bug movies is now accepted as a real actual thing by so many people on both the left and the right – even though anyone who actually knows a scientist can see how wrong it is.

  65. Vern, so what you’re saying is that most Republicans/conservatives don’t know shit about politics. I can dig that.

  66. I think it was Jean Luc Godard who said something like :You have to hate John Wayne when you hear his opinions
    on the Vietnam War,but you have to love him at the end of The Searchers.
    Speaking for myself,when i see The Duke fooling around with Lee Marvin in Donovans Reef,Walter Brennan in
    Rio Bravo or Robert Mitchum and James Caan in El Dorado i am in Heaven,and dont think about Politics.

  67. Pike, I always think “why was The Duke such a homophobe when all his movies characters were gay”.

  68. Fancy Comment pegsman.But sadly complete nonsense.

  69. Oh,and when i said foolin around i thought about drinking,brawling,singing,such Stuff.
    Not playing with each others Dicks,you know.

  70. I haven’t watched the Clint video and probably won’t. It’s just not something I want to see. I don’t like seeing people I respect fail, especially when it’s for the benefit of people like Romney and Co.

    They showed the clips of it over here in the UK (never let Romney visit here again, ever, please) and while it’s entirely possible that they were taken out of context (like Obama’s “You didn’t build that” bit that was played to death on Fox News without the actual reference he was making) I don’t see how the whole sketch didn’t have the same smug tone as what I have seen. I’ll admit a smile at his reaction to Ghost Obama telling Mitt to go fuck himself, but ‘you can still use the plane’? Jesus, Clint. And of course, ‘make my day’ gets trotted out, ‘punk’ removed. At least he didn’t tell the crowd to Play Mittsy for me, or some shit.


  71. Just joking, Pike. But don’t tell me that the sequence with Lee Marvin in The Commancheros doesn’t strike you as homo erotic.

  72. And wouldn’t it be just marvelous if the right’s biggest movie icon turned out to be gay?

  73. Well pegsman, it would be kind of funny,but otherwise it would not bother me at all.

  74. Uncle Imshi: I wasn’t passing judgement on McCain . My point was that we Italians , well , we elected Berlusconi again , and again , and again . After he failed , after one of his government collapsed because of internal disputes with his allies ( that are still his allies after all these years , a secessionist group called North League ) and after he resigned himself , we’re looking at , if you count reshuffles , a future Berlusconi Five Cabinet . Five Fucking Times. It’s almost a franchise , like A Nightmare on Elm Street . I just don’t see that happening in America , that’s all . It seems that we Italians love to kick ourselves in the nuts.

  75. CallMeKermit said: “The big problem and difference here , is that a lot of people are already blaming Monti , our current Prime Minister , for al the problems we have . There’s no historical memory of Berlusconi anywhere , no one is trying to point out that we’re in this mess beacuse of him , and he’s already planning a return to politics by the end of the year. Try to imagine that , in your country , with McCain or Bush ! ”

    Correct me if I’m wrong here, but doesn’t Berlusconi own a huge portion of the media in Italy? And wasn’t that one of the things that helped him get elected in the first place?

  76. I just want to throw my opinion into the pot here. Also, I want to preface it with this: Vern; you’re a great film critic, writer and thinker. Other commenters, you make up the best group of film geeks on the internet. I respect all you of regardless of political perspective.

    So here goes…

    I’m a really lucky guy, from a financial perspective. My dad is a very successful guy and I’ve enjoyed the fruits of that success, as well as the advantages it gave me through school and now in the professional world, allowing me to start down my own road to success. I really am thankful for that every day.

    My dad, he’s got a pretty interesting story. He grew up in NY in the ’60s and ’70s, ran away from home at 15 and spent the next 5 years living on communes in Vermont, straight up hippie shit. Then he had a change of heart that he can’t really explain, and decided he wanted to get serious and join the military. He came back to NY, got married and spent the next 7 years in the Air Force. Then he got out and joined the family business and has kicked ass at it. He’s a Libertarian. He, like Clint, thinks we should all just do our own thing. He lives a modest life. He isn’t a fan of huge taxes. But you know what he is a big fan of? Charity. He’s of the mindset that there are a lot of organizations out there that can use money to help people much more efficiently than some shitty government program. And with that in mind, he’s given FAR more money to charity than he would ever pay in taxes, no matter who is in office.

    I know not all the people who claim to be Libertarian are philanthropic, but the idea that successful people are all douchebags who wipe their asses with $100 bills and think poor people should go fuck themselves really bothers me. Of course there are pricks like that out there, but there are also successful people who vote Republican and have done more good for society than 99.9% of the rest of us.

    I guess this is the point I’m trying to make: FUCK DEFINING PEOPLE BY THE PARTY THEY CHOSE TO VOTE FOR. I can’t stand idiots (from either side of the spectrum) who see this shit as black and white. There’s plenty of good and bad in either party, and acting like someone is a shitty person because they vote a certain way is just simplistic, close-minded and straight up fucking stupid. Sorry for the slightly disjointed rant there.

    In closing, let’s evaluate people on their merits. Are they a good person or a bad person? Have they taken steps above and beyond their basic responsibility to help mankind? Do they conduct themselves in a way is respectful to others? Those are the questions I’m asking myself, not “what box did they check in the last election”.

    Clint is the fucking man, and just because he identifies more with one political party than another doesn’t mean that he’s some gay-bashing pro-life freak. It just means that Clint looked at all the variables and made a call. He is who we thought he was, Clint Motherfucking Eastwood.

  77. @ Bob Vila

    AMEN !

  78. “If you make a “whether you are a Democrat or a Republican” comment you are NOT supposed to add “or whether you’re a Libertarian or whatever.” THERE ARE ONLY TWO PARTIES.”

    I’m puzzled by that statement. What is the point? Why did this make Vern mad? There are more than two parties. There are WAY more points of view that can be contained in the two major parties. Two of the minor parties are major-minors: the Greens and the Libertarians. They continue to exist and get some votes, elect some people to local office because the two-party system can’t contain political debate. They don’t get any bigger because the “there are only two parties” crap ruins things for everyone. The effect is: people start to think “there are only two points of view” and tailor the arguments to suit that fact. It distorts everything. We need to liberate our minds so that our asses will follow.

    Because practically, “there are only two parties” leads people to alter their beliefs to suit the political reality. So even though you oppose NAFTA, support drug legalization, want national health care and abortion on demand without restrictions, you’ll vote for a guy who opposes these things and give money to groups that support this guy while limiting your own beliefs to bullshitting sessions with conservative relatives.

    You aren’t going to join up with people who oppose NAFTA, support drug legalization, want national health care and abortion on demand without restrictions, unless you’re willing to oppose both the Democrats and Republicans, Obama and Romney. Why would you join a local org to lobby these guys when they know you aren’t going to vote against them anyway? You are reduced to pleading.

    Like most people, Eastwood probably wants another choice. He’ll at least acknowledge that other choices exist, unlike Vern. Eastwood doesn’t think it’s practical, I guess, to support Gary Johnson or he’d be at the Libertarian convention. So he’s there in Tampa, but he’s just acting out an argument with a strawman, making elementary logic errors.

    Some of the confusion in Eastwood’s speech comes from his inability to cram the facts (Bush II invaded Afghanistan) with his either/or politics (needing to blame the other guy for everything, even shit he didn’t do). But this is typical where political discussion is distorted. Eastwood’s oddball format just made the weaknesses apparent in ways that more practiced, or less ambitious speakers can usually avoid.

    The really awkward format kind of brings out the stupidity of political debate in this country. Eastwood was wrong to suggest that Obama was responsible for starting the war in Afghanistan. He’d be right to say that Obama and the Democrats and Republicans in Congress definitely continued the war and failed to end it. If the US does get out in 2015 or whenever it will be pretty much the same result as if we’d gotten out in 2009. People who were always opposed to the war and wanted an immediate withdrawal after it started have got no reason to fudge Obama’s record…unless it you feel like you have to because it’s either/or.

    So, because it’s not either/or and because I’m no way no how getting involved in my local South Carolina Democratic Party, I’m voting for the Green Party candidate for President, Jill Stein.

  79. Well put Bob.

  80. Scott: I believe you misunderstood Vern’s comments. He was saying that admitting that there are other political parties is something that the Republicans would rather Clint not have done. It’s an expression of his innate individuality, which even appearing at something as Borg-like as the RNC could not completely extinguish. Vern was not saying that he believed there are or even should be only two political parties.

  81. Scott – Majestyk is right. I was trying to say that if Clint had been reading from prepared remarks there’s no way in hell they would’ve wanted him mentioning a political party other than Republicans or Democrats. (Although I guess what he meant was debatable. In my quoting him a capitalized Libertarian, but in the transcript I found on Fox News it was lower case.) This was an example of how in the speech he was speaking his own mind and not just being a stooge of the GOP.

    So, I agree with you, although I would ask you to consider whether a symbolic vote for progressive values is worth allowing Romney to take away health insurance from millions of people. But I guess South Carolina isn’t considered a swing state so you could argue that a vote for Obama would be symbolic in itself. And the fact that we have to look at it that way is why the “two” party system is a shame.

  82. Clint spoke to his local newspaper (“The Carmel Pine”!) about the speech:


    The article has more anti-Obama stuff and a questionable idea about people online loving the speech, but it gives some interesting behind the scenes details. He told them from the beginning that he was just going to speak off the cuff.

    “They vett most of the people, but I told them, ‘You can’t do that with me, because I don’t know what I’m going to say.”

    It doesn’t compare his speaking style to jazz. That would’ve been cool. He likes jazz.

    He also says that he came up with the chair thing in the green room shortly before the speech.

    I thought he would be more self-deprecating about it than this, but he was happy with how it went. He does say, “They’ve got this crazy actor who’s 82 years old up there in a suit. I was a mayor, and they’re probably thinking I know how to give a speech, but even when I was mayor I never gave speeches. I gave talks.”

  83. RJ : Yes. In Italy we have 3 national channels RAI 1-2-3 , all with ( sometimes evident and sometimes loose ) political leanings : right , center and left. RAI 3 is the “left” one , and since Berlusconi is from the center-right , he already has 2 national channels on his side . It depends on the director of the channel currently in charge , but historically that’s the way it goes . To give you an example , he’s a “very good friend” of Bruno Vespa , a powerful journalist from RAI 1 , and he’s often using Vespa’s TV program “Door to Door” as a televised , free spot for his new ideas .Then he also owns 3 Mediaset , his company , channels : Channel 4 , Channel 5 and Italy 1 . The icing on the cake is the fact that he’s also the owner of Mondadori , the largest publishing company we have here ( the other one , RCS Rizzoli , is owned by some of his supporters ) .
    So , you see , the vast majority of news outlets is currently only bashing Monti for all his errors , not mentioning the fact that our current Prime Minister is only trying to fix more than a decade of SB’s Bullshit . The only real newspaper that I can think of with a hardcore-go-fuck-yourself-attitude against Berlusconi is Marco Travaglio’s The Daily Fact. With that name it looks like a newspaper straight out of a comic book , but what are you going to do ?

  84. Scott: If the US does get out in 2015 or whenever it will be pretty much the same result as if we’d gotten out in 2009.

    Care to support this accusation in any way, shape or form? Or are you just gonna declare that shit like it makes sense and hope that no one notices that you’re talking crazy?

  85. Maybe history won’t notice much difference, but I’m sure the results wouldn’t be the same for all the people on both sides of the conflict who have or will have died or been seriously injured since 2009.

  86. I think he’s saying that the security situation in Afghanistan will still be in a mess. Do you disagree?

  87. I cannot comment on a hypothetical because there is no way to prove or disprove it, ergo we can make any type of statement we want without risk of actually being proven wrong.

    That said, I have not seen any analytics that propose that just leaving the country would have worked out well and the closest historical example would seem to be Iraq v1.0, and that didn’t go well at all.

  88. You know, I just remembered the incident in Richard Schickel’s book on Clint, about the time he briefly hosted the Oscars sometime in the 70’s. Charlton Heston was late coming to the show, and Clint filled in rather awkwardly. The thing to learn from that and to apply to people who charged him with being senile, is that speaking publically, prepared or not, was never his strong suit.

  89. Tawdry – I just don’t think his point called for the aggressive response you gave it. Afghanistan has seemed like a quagmire for years, it’s hard to see improvements in the situation and the things that have been given as proof of progress (Afghanistan security forces being in charge) have been at times questionable. It seems completely reasonable to me to say that our presence is causing a lot of the problems and that no matter when we leave these problems will still exist at that time and therefore sooner is better than later. I think you could explain why you disagree more politely than that.

  90. This site can be so weird.

    I’ve lost count of how many times some left-leaning celebrity has made a thoughtless, hateful, or disparaging remark about the right. But if one celebrity supports the right (or criticizes the left) AND EVERYONE LOSES THEIR MIND!

    (the bold words are what Heath Ledger’s Joker would say)

    Anyways grow some thicker skin how ’bout? These people are/were action stars. I know it’s a generalization and that there are exceptions, but they tend to lean right and always have.

  91. Well said Vern. I wasn’t going to watch the speech until I saw a headline on the BBC news site that had a Twitt from the singer from Maroon 5 slating Clint. Which got me thinking, who looked on his twitter feed and then put it on the BBC and how bad can Clint’s speech actually be. So I watched the speech and didn’t find it particularly offensive or upsetting. I am still however reeling at the fact that the great man is now being judged be the singer from Maroon 5.

    I only use this site as a discussion board because of its level headed inhabitants, so I’m holding back on what I think about the singer from Maroon 5.

  92. Christof; “I’ve lost count of how many times some left-leaning celebrity has made a thoughtless, hateful, or disparaging remark about the right.”

    No, you haven’t. But, please, go ahead and name a few examples.

  93. I like to think that the fact Clint just sort of came up with the idea on the spot supports the theory I posed in the forum: the speech came out of Clint’s fly by the seat of his pants directing style. I thought the Obama camp’s response to the speech were relatively clever. When asked about the speech, a spokesperson said he would refer all questions to Salvador Dali, which both poked fun of the speech but also acknowledged Clint’s role as an artist. And then a few days later, Obama mentioned that he thinks Clint’s a great actor and an even better director. They did a nice job of using humor while being respectful. Anyway, I watched Letters from Iwo Jima the other night just to remind myself of how great an artist Clint is.

  94. I’m not sure what Cristof is going on about. The closest the left has ever had was Sean Penn or some other asshole saying Bush committed warcrimes (he probably did). At no point do I remember lots of coded messages about Bush’s otherness or how he wasn’t American. Outside of actual complaints about Bush’s legitimacy (ya know, Florida in 2000 and striking voters off the rolls and lots of other stuff), I can’t remember him being attacked for his very existence.

    But, yeah, sure, let’s compare actually existing racism against African Americans with imagined bullshit racism against white folk and then talk about something something the left is the same as the right. Or something. It’s all bullshit.

    My theory: Obama has done such a good job of governing from the center-right that it gives no territory for the Republicans to exist in so they decided to lose their fucking minds.

    I don’t want to say I feel bad for Eastwood, but I kind of do. Sure, what he said was stupid but he’s kind of like your old war hero grandfather who gets a pass on account of all the Nazis they killed.

    Bob Vila, I’m glad your father is not a dick but it’s a shame he supports policies that are disastrous for people. We need to stop thinking about the individual when it comes to policy and instead think about society: society can not work if poor folks rely on the kindness of the bourgeois class. It’s not sustainable nor is it practical. Anyone that seeks to overturn democracy with capitalism is not someone to respect, no matter how much charity they give.

  95. @Casey: What do you mean “white folk”? European Americans, if you please.

  96. Let’s compromise and I’ll just call y’all crackers.

  97. I prefer “pigmentally challenged.”

  98. I’m sticking with my original reaction and saying that Clint’s speech was pretty good for what it was except for the throat-slashing gesture.

    And maybe, if I’m forgiving, that was supposed to be the “hook a speaker off the stage when his acceptance speech goes too long” gesture.

    In conclusion, Vanessa Hudgens & I would make such beautiful babies of indeterminate ethnicity & skin tone that they will transcend race and bring peace & good will to all who behold our really ridiculously good looking brood.

  99. Guys, please, melanin-deficient.

  100. The Original... Paul

    September 8th, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    If we’re going to be topical about it, I’d go for “the poor man’s albino”.

    And if an openly gay person publicly declares his or her support for a representative who would seek to limit gay rights, and doesn’t specifically call them out on that one issue, then I will judge them. The same as I will judge a Jewish advocate who plays the “Hitler card” for their own benefit. You may not have chosen to be part of a particular group, but if you deliberately associate yourself with them, you pick up certain responsibilities among the way, along with the privileges.

    And I don’t exempt myself either. As a white nerd of an age where my mental faculties will only decline, I have long made peace with the fact that I cannot ever give any kind of praise to a piece of Microsoft software on an internet forum. This is my burden to bear, guys. If I have to live with that, why should others get a free pass?

  101. I talk to the chairs / But they don’t listen to me.

  102. As Bill Maher said, Clint did a good job as a stand up comic, everybody in the room laughed at his jokes. Fair enough. But I don’t get how you can claim to be a patriot and a supporter of old fashioned values, and still be that disrespectful towards a sitting president. It’s just unheard of.

  103. Christof – in my defense, I did just write a pretty thorough essay acknowledging what you said about action stars leaning right, explaining in detail the many reasons why the situation with Clint is different, and then also defending many aspects of his speech and praising some of his work and personality that I don’t think he gets enough credit for. (scroll up above your comment for the essay)

    Pegsman – I don’t agree, I think most all of us were more disrespectful of Bush while he was president. And I don’t feel bad about it.

  104. Vern, I don’t know. Sure, there were a lot of jokes about Bush flying around. But they didn’t come from the Clinton administration or elected politicians like they do now. Governor Jan Brewer putting her finger in Obama’s face at Phoenix airport is a good example of how disrespectful a lot of Republicans have become the last 4 years. Things like that didn’t happen before Obama took office. I don’t feel bad about any of my Bush comments either, but I wouldn’t say it if he was in the room.

  105. The chair talked to me.

    At first I was scared and confused.

    Then I realized it was ranting about partisan politics.


  106. Good write-up Vern.

  107. The mentality that we should go in somewhere and tear up the country and then leave before rebuilding the stuff we destroyed and assume that this somehow won’t make things even worse is a policy that has damaged the world greatly, and America’s standing.

  108. Pegsman – that I agree with. Obama has definitely been disrespected by other elected officials in ways that Bush and others were not.

    tawdry – true, but also occupying countries for years and only making things worse has also damaged the world and our standing greatly. It’s a mess either way. I’m not saying I know the answer, I’m just saying that what he wrote about leaving sooner rather than later was not crazy on its face like you said.

  109. There was an Anti-Bush sitcom on a major cable network that began airing within months of his election and a second animated sitcom that ran for 2 seasons during his second term. Just sayin…

  110. yeah, Bush bashing was common as airline food jokes for a while there

  111. Are we seriously comparing the jokes made about Bush to what Obama has gone through?

    I’m not an Obama fan, but Bush never had his very American legitimacy called into question. The amount of attacks on him for his race, coded and not, have been ridiculous.

    Seriously, Bush won illegitimately in 2000 and yet there has been far more done to call into question Obama’s legitimacy than there ever was for Bush.

  112. Casey – I agree, I just brought up Bush to disagree with Pegsman saying it wasn’t normal to disrespect a sitting president. I definitely disrespected him. I also flipped off Cheney. And the greatest thing Colbert ever did was his correspondent’s dinner speech right in front of Bush.

    But yes, much of the anti-Obama stuff is based on him being an alleged foreigner, Muslim etc., a weird new way to try to get away with being racist.

  113. The Original... Paul

    September 10th, 2012 at 10:54 am

    I just find the “muslim” thing incredibly depressing. Look, I’m about as atheist as you can get, and I would have no problems whatsoever voting for a muslim candidate if he or she looked to be the best person for the job. Part of that is I don’t have any trouble separating religion from morality, I guess. If somebody wants to do horrible things, it doesn’t particularly matter to me what they claim to believe when they do it. There’ve been some very good, and very bad, things done by people of all religions and of no religion at all.

    But to lie about a man being a muslim, and then use that to vilify him… it almost beggars belief. Even over here in Britain, where there’s a lot of anti-muslim sentiments in some communities, I can’t imagine something like that ever happening on the scale that it seems to have happened over there.

  114. The Original... Paul

    September 10th, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Although in all fairness I couldn’t previously have imagined a film like “The Plague of the Zombies” being released as late as 1967 in Britain either. It appears I have to readjust some expectations about the British idea of race relations.

  115. Cristof

    “I’ve lost count of how many times some left-leaning celebrity has made a thoughtless, hateful, or disparaging remark about the right. But if one celebrity supports the right (or criticizes the left) AND EVERYONE LOSES THEIR MIND!”

    I remember when George Clooney made that stupid joke about Heston’s Alzheimer. That , I think, is what you’re talking about : a Democratic and Obama supporter making a tasteless joke about a Republican actor. He later sort of apologized , but it was pretty fucking stupid of him , and I like the guy , I think Clooney is an intelligent person , and even if sometimes he’s maybe a little bit full of himself , we have similar political views ( I’m center-left ).The Ironic thing is that when he was young , Charlton Heston was a Democrat and Civil Rights supporter , so he was politically active just like Clooney is today . So maybe , who knows ? , in a few years we will have a gun-toting Republican Clooney ! My point is , I don’t care if someone is left or right , if you’re making an ass of yourself , you’re making an ass of yourself . Other examples are the already mentioned Sean Penn ( I find that guy always irritating ) and Asia Argento.

    And I think the politically correct term for Italians is “Latin European”.

  116. Sean Penn is doing good things in Haiti.

    actions > words

  117. I don’t have anything against Penn , it’s the same as Clooney , I usually agree with him and I think he’s an intelligent person , but sometimes I find him annoying , without sense of humor and full of himself . Asia Argento is even worse , she can be super-smart , likable and down to earth , but also criminally stupid and so “diva” that I want to punch her in the testicles . She’s , truly , either black or white .

  118. At least Penn and Clooney (with his efforts bringing attention to Darfur) are doing something with their fame. Bill Maher is the one I’ve really grown to loathe for the most part. He is smart and occasionally funny, but his views on certain things specifically that all religion is crazy and evil (and I’m an agnostic) never sits right with me.

  119. I’m actually totally on board with Maher about religion, but he constantly embarrasses himself with horrible reasoning and stupid, unsupportable assertions like his ill-advised anti-vaccine position. I like RELIGULOUS pretty well until the end, when he goes from making fun of wacky religious nutjobs to suddenly asserting that religion will destroy all life on Earth. Not that he’s necessarily wrong, but he makes almost no actual arguments to back up that claim. Which makes him about as useless as any given religious demagogue. I’ll support sound reasoning and intellectual honesty more than people agreeing with me.

  120. As an atheist, I do believe that religions are the cause of a lot of the problems in this world. But as a misanthrope, I believe that if we got rid of religion, we’d have all same problems, but with different justifications. It’s like that episode of SOUTH PARK where Cartman went to an alternate future where everyone was an atheist, but all the different factions of science enthusiasts were still trying to kill each other over whose scientific method was more logical.

    People don’t need a reason to be awful. Just an excuse.

  121. Its not religion in itself that is the problem in my opinion, its the practice of it.I like the Bible a lot. Some cool stuff in it. I´m in the process of reading it. I hope most people can see the difference between the religion, the practicing of it and the source of it. Thank you.

  122. My specific gripe is that Bill never seems to allow that people have done good things because of religion. It’s always that the bad outweighs it with him, and I believe whether that or the opposite is true isn’t for anyone to decide. It’s his perception of it, which he is entitled to. I’m just as entitled to believe it’s wrong though, so there you go. Above all else, it’s a little clear to me his atheism is at least in part politically inspired.

  123. To those who don’t think that the Christian Bible is a hateful book that directly calls for the murder of Jews, I would point you to chapter 27 of The Book of Matthew, in the 25th line.

    It’s there, in the Bible. So if a wholesale endorsement of slavery in several different books written over the course of several centuries. So is an endorsement of killing homosexuals. So is a very clear indication that women are property (in the 10 commandments!) And that rebellious adolescents should be stoned to death.

    Yes, the Torah and the Christian Bible have some wonderful poetry (as I am sure that the Koran does too, those I am less well versed and thus will not make comment) and a great many stories that I have used to ground myself and guide myself. There have been specific times when The Book of Job, the story of the Israelites wandering after leaving Egypt, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, both the portion about Abraham Arguing with YHWH over the fate of the city and the eventual fate of Lot’s wife, the Sermon on the Mount (specifically the Matthew version) and even the non-standard usage of language in writing the name of Hashem have improved my life.

    But those books are also full of hate and wholesale endorsements of horrific behavior. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

    Yes, Bill Maher falls short because he will not accept that religion has ever done anything good and he refuses to see the inherent beauty and deep honesty of the books, but I generally consider him to be putting it on. He’s playing up for the cameras and to a certain extent, is doing the same type of rabble-rousing that Spike Lee does in his earliest and best work. Does a Spike Lee movie mimic reality? No, but he stands there and makes something that is undeniably political in its’ selection of realistic events through a subjective prism.

  124. I don’t know, as a guy who just had a beloved family member pass after a long decline from Alzheimer’s, I still think that juvenalian satire regarding the disease can be on point.

    Once, I had an in-class discussion about Reagan-era response to the AIDS crisis. During the first seven years of Reagan’s administration he didn’t even say the *word* AIDS and had a specific top-down order to spend ZERO tax dollars on public service announcements and other education tools. One girl was outraged, “How could he ignore the death of 90,000 Americans? How could he not even say anything.” “Maybe he meant to…but then he forgot,” I quipped.

    I think that’s a fair joke to make. While it is cruel, it’s pretty clearly an accusatory joke that feigns ignorance about the specific political reasons why Reagan *chose* to let the numerical equivalent of 9/11 happen every 3 months for a full decade without so much as an acknowledgement of the atrocity as a way of highlighting his despicable actions.

    Similarly, I think there is certainly room to joke that Heston simply, ‘forgot’ about the huge number of unnecessary gun deaths (very arguably) that are the end result of his cause.

    Personally, I’m leaning more toward Heston on that point because, people who are using guns to commit violent crimes are going to get those guns in an illegal manner, or else modify them so as to remove the identifying marks on the bullets. So the only people who are injured by more stringent gun control are the people who are actually trying to follow the rules. The system basically functions to encourage illegal behavior by making it more difficult to do things legitimately. Also, I don’t like the idea that there is a list of every gun owner in the country. I don’t like government lists in general. Of course, I also don’t know that making guns super-duper easy to get is a workable solution.

    In any case, the snarling anger of the potential Alzheimer’s jokes does not seem totally unwarranted. But I’m open to hearing why I’m completely wrong.

  125. Wait…I totally thought his joke was something else entirely. Yeah, Clooney’s joke was pretty gross and his later reaffirmation of the joke based solely on Heston’s political leanings was even more low.

    I rescind my previous endorsement of Clooney’s choice of words.

  126. THAT’S MY BUSH was originally called EVERYBODY LOVES AL because Parker and Stone were sure Al Gore was going to win. The show wasn’t created to mock Bush it as created to mock sit-coms and was going to feature whoever won the election. Also, you definitely can’t call Parker and Stone are not Democrats by any stretch of the imagination.

    I’m assuming Clint felt he had to do this after feeling like he was tricked into making a pro-Obama ad with his Super Bowl commercial.

  127. Political humor is a difficult excersise. Humor is defined as a reflex to hearing a surprising conclusion to a well known premise. So I guess the more you know about politics, the harder it is to make you laugh at political jokes.

    I like Bill Maher. He never kicks downwards and hosts perhaps the only show where people can have a decent conversation these days. The man might not be for everyones taste, but compared to some of the participants on British shows like Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You he’s a kind and gentle political comedian. And most important of all, compared to comedians on the other side of the political spectre – Parker and Stone, Dennis Miller – he’s genuinely funny.

  128. I’m convinced a little bit that he did it because of the ad, too. I was even more convinced after seeing the guy that runs Chrysler on 60 MINUTES in so little words, basically cop that it was a pro-Obama ad.

  129. And so what? Obama saved Chrysler, no doubt about it. Eastwood saw that and was a proud American. Why the hell would he accept an invitation from the man that’s going to run the United States of America into the ground if he’s elected, just to balance that one ad?

  130. Maybe to mess with people’s perceptions of his politics, or more likely to make people think that ad didn’t reflect his views on Obama directly. It would be nice if it was mentioned on the campaign trail at some point Clint basically endorsed the man who wanted to let Chrysler fail.

  131. @pegsman – I, personally, agree, but I distinctly remember (though I haven’t looked it up to refresh my memory or ensure it is accurate) that after the commerical was widely discussed in the media as a pro-Obama spot (which I am fine with.. Let’s have more pro-Obama spots by giant corporations) Clint felt he was mislead when he made it. He may have wanted to counter it for whatever reason.

  132. Clint’s speech was superb. The libtarded nonmediarseholes keep describing it as bizarre, since everything that criticizes Barry Soetoro is EEEVIL AND RAAACIST (TM) (also, IGNORAAANT (TM)). But, as always with libtards, the reality is what it is – not what they want it to be.

  133. The reality that Mitt Romney is a Harvard Lawyer…Just like Obama? The reality that Obama *didn’t* get us into the war that Clint spent several minutes complaining about? The reality that it is out of character for Obama to tell someone to fuck off publicly? The reality that no one has ever used the justification for Guantanamo that it, “Cost us all that money” until Clint hit the stage.

    What reality are you living in?

  134. Today at the TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE press conference Clint explained what what he meant by his speech, which was look at the work and judge the politician accordingly, no matter what party. That is a good message. Probably more appropriate for the republicans, but a good message.

    So at least in my experience Cint hasn’t totally lost it. He just gave a bad performance. In a really unfortunate influential public forum. But, forgiven.

  135. @Tawdry Hepburn –

    You’re just wasting your time entering into dialogue with anyone who uses the term “libtards”. It’s not worth it.

  136. I would rather respond with sincerity.

  137. At least it’s the first time I’ve seen “libtarded”.

  138. I found this clip of Clint on Ellen:


    It might be reassuring to some of you. Although he jokes that he’s senile he doesn’t seem like it, he says some more agreeable things about his politics and he even explains his libertarian stance on his family’s reality show (that’s fine, just leave me out of it).

  139. So this secret recording business… I hate the poor and I love war… tell me Americans, is Romney finished? I’m pretty sure he would be in any other Western country but you guys seem to love your plot twists…

  140. Anaru – It ain’t over til it’s over. You can’t underestimate how dug in some people are to their candidate, so it’s hard to say how many intended Romney voters changed their mind about voting for him. He likely had a net loss of undecideds with the 47% comment, and nothing we’ve seen indicates that he’s going to be compelling in the debates … but he’s going to advertise like crazy in the swing states and the spectre of voter suppression looms. He appears to be toast, but no sense in counting chickens.

    Here’s a Clint interview that segues from dippy infotainment fluff into some unexpectedly straightforward q&a’ing about the convention speech:

  141. Well, that link didn’t work. It’s from the Sept 18 Chicago Sun-Times. Going for the tiny url: http://tinyurl.com/9pumw3c

  142. It might behoove Vern now to review CATCH THAT BIRD.

  143. I miss the TELL’S IT LIKE IT IS columns. Seems like Vern used to post them more often.

    It’s late but I enjoyed reading this conversation. It’s rare these days for any American political discussion on the internet to be reasonably respectful and not go off the rails within five minutes.

  144. I may have jumped the gun a bit on my Biden-Petraeus ticket prediction in this thread.


    Man, what a lazy, moronic piece of 4-star shit that guy turned out to be, huh? I liked him as a figurehead, a respected guy I didn’t much disagree with, and I found some of his writings useful. But now I realize, he hasn’t accomplished anything since the publication of FM 3-24, as far as I can tell.

    Unless you consider being found out due to your open use of gmail while D/CIA an accomplishment. Fucking christ. That’s some Homer Simpson shit right there. A D/CIA, the #1 Army General alive, a guy with the highest possible security clearances who deals in literally the most dangerous & unstable places in the world, and this motherfucker uses motherfucking gmail. This motherfucker uses motherfucking gmail to cheat on his wife. While OCONUS.

    That’s like being an armed robber who painstakingly leaves thumbprints & saliva samples, maybe a photo & note with his contact info, throughout the home from which he steals. That’s some Forrest Gump shit.

    What a bunch of goddamn derelicts, him and a bunch of Army 2-3-4 stars lately —
    staying inside the wire to e-mail girls 24/7,
    shuttling to Europe & the Caribbean (sometimes with the wife!) on the taxpayer’s dime while collecting “hazardous duty” and “combat zone” pay & credits,
    writing counterproductive ego trip books & memos & PowerPoints,
    consciously doing everything possible to remain “elevated” over their grunt subordinates without actually performing to any standard at all
    (Seriously, can we get any progress report that shows something, anything that looks like success? No, we can’t, because these guys don’t have the data, because these guys don’t do their jobs and they don’t go outside the wire to collect the data. Fuckin useless fucks who saw 8 hours of action in the 80s in Panama as a junior, didn’t have the skills to be a useful civilian so they stayed in long enough for 9/11 to happen just as they happened to be in the process of failing upward & getting their O-5, O-6, or General rank, and spent the last 10 years collecting passport stamps and bling & candy for their dress uniforms so they can pretend they’re heroes when they’re barely quick-witted enough to pretend to be competent in any setting in which they’re not surrounded solely by other Generals.),
    and doing fucking publicity chats all the time during their overseas assignments when they’re supposed to be conducting a fucking war or 2.

    Sorry I’m ranting. I’m disillusioned. Like Batty in BLADE RUNNER, I’ve… seen things you people wouldn’t believe… except none of them are good, awe-inspiring things in my case.
    Most of our commissioned & appointed military leadership is great, but there are way too many shitheads at the top echelons. A reflection of some of their elected civilian domestic counterparts in DC, I guess.

    Hey, Jim Demint quit the Senate. That’s cool. Worst elected official in the country, erased from my home state so he could chase dollars with a really shitty think tank that just got waaaaaaay shittier now that he’s their chief. Yay.

    I’m like Clint. I just want to yell and all I can find to yell at is empty chairs!

  145. Yeah, the whole thing is pretty embarrassing, just top to bottom. And having an affair with your own biographer seems like the kind of thing that has to require an ego the size of a, say, the moon. And I mean, the circumstances around this just get more and more absurd. Some other lady with fuzzy military connections who he maybe *also* was having an affair with, or something, tells her FBI pal (who maybe also was having an affair with her?) to investigate, and it goes up the chain of command from there? Conspiracy theorist as I am, it was almost too crazy a story for me to swallow, but there’s something just pathetic enough about the whole thing that I was willing to buy it as a genuine accident, a ten-car pile-up of coincidence, idiocy, pettiness, ego, and hubris. Here’s hoping that everyone involved goes away and we never hear from them again.

  146. That’s the Clint we know and love. Seems like a growing number of Republicans are learning that appealling only to their most batshit crazy constituents is not a viable strategy.

  147. More like Republicans joined Clint Eastwood for gay marriage. He’s been on board for a while now. For him it’s a libertarian thing, leave people alone and let them do what they want.

  148. I don’t know if this is relevant or even interesting, but during Bush’ second campaign a reporter from Swedish television visited an American professor (I have forgotten his name) who tried to explain a side to America that Europeas don’t understand. And I guess he was talking about the middle class; “In the USA you have the right to be whatever way you want to be, but you have to be just like us.”

  149. Vern – Yet he decided to completely throw his star power around the party last time around that’s still campaigning against Jimmy Carter. (Like the Liberals up to the 70s still campaigning against Herbert Hoover.)

    I think that’s my disapointment. Clint a right-winger was never a secret, he’s done his gigs and fundraising for the GOP. Him doing that invisible chair thing at the RNC in the 80s would’ve made sense, when homophobia was mainstream acceptable. But in 2012? And weird he would for a “RHINO” like Romney.

  150. Wait, what was the homophobic part? Am I forgetting something?

  151. Vern – 80s dude. Remember when that F word that isn’t Fuck was used alot more in movies than it is now? Different times.

    (Ah, “Dude” when that was a noun. Dude!)

  152. But you said “Him doing that invisible chair thing at the RNC in the 80s would’ve made sense, when homophobia was mainstream acceptable. But in 2012?” As if there was something homophobic about the invisible chair routine. Is that what you’re saying, because I don’t remember it and I feel like I would’ve been alot more disappointed in him if it had.

  153. Clint Eastwood Is Not Impressed by America's 'Kiss-Ass Generation'

    Think your old man is a ball-buster? Try being the son of Clint Eastwood.​

    Oh boy…

  154. I read this piece. On the one hand, I can’t be too mad at Clint. He’s getting up there in years, and I sometimes have similar thoughts and feelings run through my head, not in terms of endorsing his political views, but just in the sense that even as a guy pushing 40, I am already starting to feel a bit curmudgeonly and wistful. Social media and Pokemon Go and just constantly being on your smart phone and twitter identity mob politics (see Green Inferno thread and probably others). Even as a still relatively young man, you see all of the change and turmoil and angst and the perpetual real-time news cycle of fear/snark/outrage. It’s overwhelming and alienating for a person who can actually remember a time when the internet was not in wide use; when you bought CDs and watched music videos; or when you could pat yourself and progressive middle class white society on the collective back for the mere existence of the Cosby Show as a major civil rights milestone; and so on. I take that sense of how quickly the social-cultural-political-technological grounds have shifted underneath us since I got out of high school in the late 90s, and I imagine how much more psychological vertigo I’d feel if I was a relatively libertarian, strong silent type who came of age pre- Civil Rights Act and is old enough to have been in the army at the time of the Korean War. You turn on the TV or go on the internet or go to a metro park (where everyone is playing Pokemon), and it’s got to feel like the friggin twilight zone.

    I also enjoy the fact that he’s more-than-ever at that ZFG point where he just says exactly what flies into his brain without a bit of self-consciousness, because I’m 86, rich, and a legend, and what the fuck are you going to do to me?

    On the other hand, I think these older white libertarian up-by-my-bootstraps old school types (no generalizations here, of course) are mostly just romanticizing the past, demonizing and fearing the future, and exaggerating their sense of self-made-ness and underestimating the role of luck and others in their lives. So, the “on the other hand” reaction to Clint’s comments is a bit of a “go fuck yourself right back, there, Clint.” If you’re going to say outspoken, grumpy old man shit like that and mix it up, then you should be prepared for people to call you out as a grumpy old man with a self-serving, backward-looking worldview that romanticizes your own heyday and self-made awesomeness. You’re an amazing film star and an inspiring octogenarian whose hall-of-famer status is unassailable. But get out of here with that self-serving horse shit.

  155. I read this piece. On the one hand, I can’t be too mad at Clint. He’s getting up there in years, and I sometimes have similar thoughts and feelings run through my head, not in terms of endorsing his political views, but just in the sense that even as a guy pushing 40, I am already starting to feel a bit curmudgeonly and wistful. Social media and Pokemon Go and just constantly being on your smart phone and twitter identity mob politics (see Green Inferno thread and probably others). Even as a still relatively young man, you see all of the change and turmoil and angst and the perpetual real-time news cycle of fear/snark/outrage. It’s overwhelming and alienating for a person who can actually remember a time when the internet was not in wide use; when you bought CDs and watched music videos; or when you could pat yourself and progressive middle class white society on the collective back for the mere existence of the Cosby Show as a major civil rights milestone; and so on. I take that sense of how quickly the social-cultural-political-technological grounds have shifted underneath us since I got out of high school in the late 90s, and I imagine how much more psychological vertigo I’d feel if I was a relatively libertarian, strong silent type who came of age pre- Civil Rights Act and is old enough to have been in the army at the time of the Korean War. You turn on the TV or go on the internet or go to a metro park (where everyone is playing Pokemon), and it’s got to feel like the friggin twilight zone.

    I also enjoy the fact that he’s more-than-ever at that ZFG point where he just says exactly what flies into his brain without a bit of self-consciousness, because I’m 86, rich, and a legend, and what the fuck are you going to do to me?

    On the other hand, I think these older white libertarian up-by-my-bootstraps old school types (no generalizations here, of course) are mostly just romanticizing the past, demonizing and fearing the future, and exaggerating their sense of self-made-ness and underestimating the role of luck and others in their lives. So, the “on the other hand” reaction to Clint’s comments is a bit of a “go fuck yourself right back, there, Clint.” If you’re going to say outspoken, grumpy old man shit like that and mix it up, then you should be prepared for people to call you out as a grumpy old man with a self-serving, backward-looking worldview that romanticizes your own heyday and self-made awesomeness. You’re an amazing film star and an inspiring octogenarian whose hall-of-famer status is unassailable. But get out of here with that self-serving horse shit.

  156. As with most things, George Carlin said it better.

    Whether or not you agree with the sentiment (I’m a little benevolent on the issue, he said this in 1999 when I most likely would have come from the same generation of kids Carlin was talking about though I didn’t feel like I was too over-coddled like that myself growing up), he at least breaks it down enough that goes beyond the caricature of the old, angry white man Clint is unfortunately (but unsurprisingly) painting himself as in this.

  157. Yeah, Eastwood and the rest of us could definitely look to Carlin for a better model of how to use grumpy-old-man powers for good.

  158. This latest outcry from Clint is interesting. His generation f***ed up the world, and now he’s blaming us! Apparently we’e the p***y generation, for some reason only he understands.

  159. His argument is garbage. “Other generations just passively accepted my bullshit but this new one stands up for itself. What pussies.”

  160. I agree with the sentiment that people are too thin skinned for their own good in this ugly world today. I do feel that having to walk on eggshells during every convo could be unhealthy in itself.

    The victim complex culture that has uprooted these last few years is insanely obnoxious. Certain people forget to take accountability or seek realistic solution and just hold on to victimization as a crutch.

    As stupid as Trump is I would die ten fold for him to keep the rights to blurt the bullshit that he does. Same as I would for the bullshit that I kick. I say that as a black skinned bilungual son of 2 immigrants who is still on his grind today and has benefitted from white privilige 0 times in his life.

    With that said stating “In my time it wasn’t called racist” is one of the biggest “no shit, sherlock!” proclamations I have heard. Of course it wasn’t Clint, it was the norm back then. Practice what you preach and take things within context and you’ll realize that never justifies it being ok today because it isn’t.

  161. Pussy generation? Let’s be honest, this is the asshole generation! We live in a time where people try to convice others, that they are free thinkers and not part of “the herd”, by saying and doing the most outrageous, horrifying and shittiest things! Basically all you have to do these days, is go on stage, make jokes about rape, some anti-semitic remarks, maybe drop one or two n***ers, without any smart or satirical context other than “No, by saying it, I make fun of it!” and you will be rewarded with celebrity status, TV output deals and maybe award show hosting gigs and a presidential candidacy. Because if someone asks you to think before you speak and consider what consequences your words might have, they are “the PC police” and whiney pussies, who fight for horrible things like “social justice” and want you to be a reasonable human being.

  162. I am of two minds on the issue. I am all for calling out bullshit wherever you find it, but I feel like lots of people have no sense of proportion. When we lose the ability to distinguish between an honest mistake or a harmless joke and willful hatred or injustice, we weaken our argument. The other side thinks we’re just bitching about pointless crap, and we’ll never be happy anyway so why even bother trying to fix anything? “Progressiveness” is increasingly becoming synonymous with “being a humorless scold,” and that just makes bigots, sexists, homophobes, jingoists, etc. dig even deeper into their prejudices. It provides cheap, easy catharsis to get on our high horse and “demolish” those we see as the opposition, but that’s a selfish impulse. We all have to live together. You don’t change hearts and minds with smug moral superiority. You change them with compassion, patience, information, and, above all, critical thinking.

    Example: Decrying our legal system’s deplorable treatment of rape and domestic violence: Vital. Claiming a poster showing two costumed comic book characters in mortal combat is a glorification of violence against women: frivolous outrage porn that cheapens a very serious issue. Many read that story, said “Oh come on” and went right back to assuming misogyny and rape culture are myths created by crybabies to get attention. I don’t know how you get through to people who won’t see the truth, but I’m pretty sure Step #1 isn’t going after the harmless entertainments they love.

    Choose your battles wisely is what I’m saying. But once you’ve chosen, don’t let anyone tell you you’re just being a whiner. You’re quite aware of what you’re going through.

  163. Mr. M, it’s that view of the politically progressive that Carlin took down as equally as he would the Reagan/Bush administrations, before he stopped doing direct political humor directly. I watched an interview with him where he talked about not doing that kind of humor, and saying that anyone who is anti-government is practicing a form of suicide. It says “we the people”, meaning to him we’re all as responsible for what’s going on. And I know he might engender a mixed response (or not), but I feel like Bernie Sanders has done more for people feeling this way than anyone else running for office in my lifetime.

    What’s almost kind of funny about this is that coming from Clint, it seems to be the conservative spin on what people call Limousine Liberalism. The out-of-touch comments by someone from Hollywood, but on the side which goes out of it’s way to accuse it of being entirely liberal, etc, etc. And I’m sure people at Fox News (definitely O’Reilly at least, who’s a major Eastwood fanboy) are going to defend his comments to the hilt.

  164. As someone who frequently busts Mr. M’s chops out of pure knee-jerk instinct, I have to say, Mr. M. that I agree with your post wholeheartedly. It is just spot on: the difference between lazy, self-righteous, tribal mob psychology vs. constructive dialogue aimed at both educating and being educated. Also, “frivolous outrage porn” is my favorite “neologism” / potential band name of recent memory.

  165. Yesterday The New York Times posted a really depressing video that collects a bunch of hateful comments spewed at various Trump campaign rallies. Throughout the video you can hear people denouncing political correctness while shortly afterwards using misogynist and racist language. It’s a pretty clear indicator that people who don’t like the idea of political correctness just do not like the fact that we live in an era where bigoted language is called out as bigoted language. I agree with Majestyk that some people go overboard with policing what you should say and depict, but I also think it’s pretty clear that this backlash against being “politically correct” is more often than not motivated by the desire to denigrate women and minorities.

    Here’s the video:

  166. The Trump candidacy is in my view an argument for party elitism and raises some real questions as to whether substantial swaths of the mass public can be trusted to make intelligent or even competent judgments. It’s really quite terrifying. Then again, looking at how much our views can be swayed by trending world event news that should, at best, have very weak influence on our judgments about a candidate, it’s not too surprising. It’s, just, wow. The thought that, if given the free choice, 40-something-% of the electorate would vote for an abjectly cynical and incompetent cretin-liar-bigot-parody. One word: Idiocracy.

    Also, I have no idea why I put “neologism” in “quotations” in the above.

  167. Skani – This might not be exactly what you’re saying, but the pro-elitism argument was posed by Andrew Sullivan earlier this year, and if I’m being honest, I thought it was absolute bullshit. Elites have had the run of the place for the last thirty years. There was a Princeton University study that came out not too long ago that looked at public opinion and compared it to actual laws and policies and noticed a huge disconnect. As you would imagine, laws passed by Congress favored big business and diverged with the public. Other political scientists have made the case that the U.S. is more of an oligarchy than a democracy.

    Elites have been responsible for one of the biggest disasters of the 21st century: the 2008 global collapse. Leading up to the collapse, the argument had been that if we only reduce government oversight on Wall Street and allow these very smart people to be innovators, then our economy would grow at a faster rate. So we handed over the keys to the smartest people in the room, people who went to Ivy League schools to get advanced degrees. They were the best of the best, so surely they knew what they were doing. It turns out they blew up the economy.

    Despite how scary it can be, I’ll take the opinion of the masses over those of the self-interested elite. But, yeah, there does need to be checks so that representative democracy doesn’t turn into rule by mob.

    I do think that a political party has a responsibility to curb the worst tendencies of its base. Republicans haven’t done this. They’ve been feeding their base red meat for a long time, and now they’re shocked that an unqualified demagogue has been able to take hold of their political party by releasing the conservative id.

  168. Mr M — well said, but I think one other important factor to remember is how enormously the internet has amplified the voices of whoever can shout the loudest and shrillest, not necessarily whoever has the most support or most coherent argument. In fact, reasoned, thoughtful responses tend to get lost in the static. Few genuinely nuanced statements are “controversial” enough to make good clickbait, even though I believe they much more honestly represent the majority of people. meanwhile, in the internet, you can almost always find a couple hundred people to join whatever mob you want to form, making them look vastly overrepresented. I tend to think most people are pretty reasonable when you really get down to it, but you would never know that from looking at our cultural conversation in general. Which, insidiously, has the effect of actually normalizing fairly radical opinions and actually making them more pervasive. And the psychos — on the left and the right– both know that, but most people in the general population haven’t really been taught to be on the look out for people using these strategies. Hence, Trump.

  169. Mr. S: That’s why I would happily pay more taxes if it meant this country’s educational system became more effective and accessible. I’m sick and tired of talking to people who’ve never been taught how to think critically, to find support for their arguments and express them clearly and as close to objectively as emotional creatures such as humans are capable of, without resorting to personal attacks, lazy metaphor, logical fallacies, blatant disinformation, or any of the other unproductive tactics that constitute the bulk of modern discourse. The internet gives us access to unprecedented amounts of information, but information without the analytical skills required to craft a cohesive worldview out of it is useless. I make next to no money but if I have to sacrifice more of what I have so that more people are given the tools they need to make sense of this world and not be manipulated by whatever huckster has learned how to push their buttons, so be it. I can’t think of anything more important my money could go to.

  170. Lack of critical thinking is not exclusive to Americans. I came across on facebook the other day someone who unironically quoted an article from a source that is 100% satirical. And the person did not even realized it. It was about how the current Swedish government had proposed a bill of taxing sexual intercourse. A lot of people are so critical of the current administration that anything that criticize it is being spoon fed and swallowed by uncritical eyes and ears.

    I guess people believe what fits easiest into their own world view.

    To be fair, the current administrations is such a bunch of clowns, shit like that wouldn´t even surprise me if they actually did propose a Fuck-taxation. But when you quote a source that has ads like LEGO Hizbollah you might want to start thinking what you are quoting.

  171. Mr M — while I’d certainly second your call for better critical thinking skills, I’m not convinced that’s the whole problem. Honestly, the problem is that the world has literally gotten too complex for laymen to be able to meaningfully opine on issues. And I include myself there. I mean, I’m a “believer,” –whatever that means– in global warming. But am I really qualified to make a decision on that? I mean, I understand the fundamental mechanics of the theory. But I have no way of reasonably evaluating the validity of predictive climate models. I have no basis for defending the accuracy of ice-core samples as meaningful measurements of past carbon density. If it WAS all a conspiracy of greedy scientists trying to wring grant money out of naive taxpayers, I’d never know it. Although I consider myself a logical and rational person who tries to get all the information, at the end of the day I’m still basically just picking a group to put my trust in and parroting their findings. And what else can I do? If I quit my job and spend the next 8 years or so dedicating myself to becoming an expert in Climate Science so I can really make a truly educated judgement, then I have one issue taken care of but my opinion on the economy is worthless.

    There might have been a time when this was OK, and various gatekeepers generally kept the debate within at least the general vicinity of reality — I honestly don’t know. But by the time I was old enough to seriously think about this stuff, people had figured out that you can just flat out lie. When most people can’t devote their lives to becoming experts, blatant falsehoods look exactly as convincing as genuine information… IF you can make them believe that it’s everyone ELSE who’s lying. And what better way to do that than by playing identity politics — “they’re” lying, thieving, degenerates who want to trick you. “We’re” the oppressed, rebel alliance/matrix rebels who are fighting against them and telling it like it is. Since your whole reality comes down to who you believe, suddenly critical thinking doesn’t even enter into it, you’ve just got to pick who you think is honest. And of course, you’re almost inevitably going to go with whoever reinforces what you already believe, because what else do you have to go on besides your gut?

    And, truthfully, that could apply to me just as easily as it could a Trumpie. To me, it sounds ludicrous and laughable that leaving NAFTA would suddenly put every American back to work in a well-paying factory job. But I think that because of all the articles I’ve read by economists and stuff, not because I’m an actual economist with predictive computer models I made myself and can confirm are realistic. If Paul Krugman has been lying to me, I don’t really have much recourse at all, and, indeed, no WAY to really even ascertain that, since if Trump says Krugman is full of shit, who am I going to believe? Trump could trot out a thousand pages of well-researched and expertly argued economic theory, and I’m still going to assume he’s just pulling it out of his ass, because that’s what people do when they don’t care about reality, they make shit up. And the made up shit doesn’t really look fundamentally different from the real shit, you just have to trust the person giving it to you.

    More and more, I’m wondering if the problem isn’t that we need more elites, but that we need to seriously consider a more technocratic approach. It’s not feasible in this climate for laymen to have meaningful opinions about issues which require this much background knowledge. It’s unfair to ask them to, and it essentially sets the stage for a political scene dominated by blind allegiance to identity groups and persuasive demagogues.

  172. Mr. S. – your last paragraph there puts me in mind of the whole Britain pulling out of the EU debacle. Why that was put up to a general election, I will never understand. That had to be one of the biggest, “Wait, what did I just do?” moments of all voting history.

  173. Crushinator Jones

    August 4th, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    “More and more, I’m wondering if the problem isn’t that we need more elites, but that we need to seriously consider a more technocratic approach.”

    You really, really, really, really need to read Twilight of the Elites, by Christopher Hayes, which is hundreds of pages of why that is a terrible idea.

  174. “I do think that a political party has a responsibility to curb the worst tendencies of its base.”

    Batty, I’m not arguing for authoritarianism or that elites know what is best for us. My rigorous syllogistic argument is as follows: 40+% of adult American humans in 2016 believe Donald Trump would be an acceptable President. Drops mic.

    I think the internet does make things worse, but I also think a lot of the classic propaganda stuff goes way way back (read Edward Bernays), and I find it hard to believe that the American electorate of yesteryear was much more informed than today.

    Subtlety makes good points above. We have to specialize and act on trust in a modern world, and we even do in riding airplanes or driving on bridges.I don’t know how to build either, but I believe inductively and via word of mouth and by social influence that air flight is possible and safe. I also believe that conspiracies are incredibly difficult to pull off and that the people most frequently accused of pulling them off are demonstrably inept and inefficient. I know, that’s what they want you to believe. ;)

  175. Actually, I take that back, and I’m sorry for how blatantly partisan this is: I seriously do question whether someone who can support Donald Trump can make intelligent decisions for themselves. Some people can think critically, and other are trapped in ignorance and delusion. We all have our delusions and areas of ignorance, but it’s the difference between irresponsibly leaning into obscurantism vs. making some bona fide effort to be self-critical and open-minded. And to not engage in rank biogtry and mean-spiritedness. I could see how a sane, critical thinking human would vote for Mitt Romney or John McCain (not that I would), but this is just beyond the pale.

  176. Crushinator — I’m familiar with the book, but Hayes is arguing against a very specific kind of ladder-climbing Elites, who we incorrectly labeled as “smart” because they navigated through a series of more or less arbitrary hoops better than the everyone else. The problem isn’t that experts aren’t any smarter than laymen, the problem is that our society uses horribly outmoded tools to try and pick those experts –erroneously postulating that people who are good at one thing are going to be good at another– and consequently end up with people who are exceedingly good at “playing the game” but not particularly good at their actual job. It’s about the betrayal of meritocracy, not the impossibility of such a thing. Hence, I don’t know that his critique can –or is even intended to– be universalized to discredit the very notion that we should listen to people who have genuine expertise in a particular field.

    If the claim is that all fields of knowledge eventually turn into self-serving groupthink, subverted by people with vested interests in staying powerful, we really are fucked. But I don’t know that this is true. At some point, you’re only going to be able to become a successful mathematician if you can actually do math. The advantage to a technocratic approach is that eventually the truth outs; you’re forced to actually put out a plan which can be evaluated on its success. Hayes himself points out,

    “There’s two different ways you can think about meritocracy. One is this idea of finding the natural aristocrats, and that’s an extremely dangerous one; it’s almost like a Calvinist vision, of people that are the elect, the saved. That idea underlies a lot of the problem here. Another one is just the idea of constant assessment, like in, say, professional sports. It’s not like, you are great and you’ll be great forever; it’s, no, as soon as Derek Jeter has a crappy few months, he’s getting killed in the New York press, and people are saying he shouldn’t get a new contract. That’s a very different model than the one that locates some central feature of somebody that makes them the best decision maker. There’s confusion between the two models: We like to think we have the latter, but we actually have the former.

    While this path doesn’t completely inoculate experts from making blunders and overestimating their own understanding, surely it beats the idea that everyone with an opinion is equally right, even in defiance of the facts. Claiming otherwise might as well be epistemological nihilism. If any source of elite knowledge is fundamentally corrupt, we might as well give up on the idea of governing rationally right now.

    Now, that’s a different thing than arguing –as some people, stung by Trump’s populism, are doing these days — that we need more political elites to protect us from the angry mob, as in “we need to give the electoral collage more discretion to vote as they see fit” or “we need stronger party leaders who can successfully reject insurgent candidates” (I’m wondering if that’s how you interpreted that sentence). I’m talking about technocrats — technically knowledgeable experts in specific, tangible fields. Scientists, engineers, statisticians, etc, who can use their particular skill set to actually address specific technical problems the country faces. While not *every* political decision can be made this way, I’d wager the majority of them could, and to society’s immense benefit.

  177. Crushinator Jones

    August 4th, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Ok. Reality check, Skani. You are now telling half the country they are stupid idiots who can’t make intelligent decisions for themselves. Rather than understand why this is happening, you have instead chose to cluck cluck about what morons Trump supporters are. That may make you feel good and superior but unless you know why Trump is winning it won’t help you beat him.

    Let me help you understand what is happening. Conservatives support Trump because:

    1) There is a huge billion dollar right-wing media machine that tells these people that voting how corporations/1% want them to vote is in their best interest, and they largely stoke xenophobic and racial fear to do it. These people have internalized this worldview.
    2) The people are also told that deviating from this media orthodoxy (i.e. being a Dem/Green/other kind of lefty) is evil, traitorous, unAmerican, bad. Their faith in any other institution has been systematically destroyed.
    3) They have been told for literal decades that if they just elect Republicans their lives will improve.
    4) Their lives have not improved and in fact have gotten a lot worse as these GOPers, with the help of neoliberal Democrats, have helped outsource their jobs and destroy their communities and lives and pissed their tax dollars away on worthless imperial wars.
    5) They are now super pissed.
    6) The neoliberal solution to this problem BEFORE BERNIE was almost exactly the same as Republicans. Now it’s somewhat better but he policy changes happened largely after Trump had captured the nom.
    7) Trump is literally this country’s Alpha version of success: a famous bombastic corporate billionaire who holds court over the little guy.
    8) Trump says “I can’t be bought – I’m not beholden to these lying fuckers” and he laughs and mocks establishment nobility like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.
    9) He also says “I will help you by slanting the playing field back in your favor and punishing the people who you hold responsible” (see point #1 for why this group is Muslims and such)

    This is not hard to understand at all. There’s nowhere for these people to go because corporations and the military industrial complex have captured both parties. So what can they do, if they hate their party and don’t have a productive alternative? Nihilism. It’s time to vote for the guy who mocks the party apparatus who has failed them. Who doesn’t believe in things that Republicans are “supposed” to believe in. Who openly admits he’s a crook on your side. Who laughs and belittles the avatars of the political party that is failing you.

    It’s not actually his racism that’s getting him elected – although that’s a fun bonus for a party that is, on average, measurably more racist then their opponent – but it’s not WHAT IS DRIVING HIM. Know how you know this? Because pile of shit David Duke, Former KKK Grand Wizard, is running for Senate in Louisiana and he is TANKING among Republicans. It’s because racism isn’t enough. Trump is a gigantic throbbing middle finger TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, FROM THE REPUBLICAN VOTER. It’s a “fuck you for talking about free trade and your Laffer Curve when I can’t get a job.”

    What’s particularly bad is that rather than understand that the victims of terrible bipartisan economic policies pushed by the Clintons (NAFTA) and Obama (TPP) who feel under siege and criticized for being white (and yes, that is their perception – that they are being punished in the social space for by people who use “you’re a white guy/gal” as a criticism – not saying that it’s necessarily reality) and who were fed a line of shit about the scary Muslims from the right-wing media – you’re just going to call them all “really fucking stupid” and congratulate yourself for being a smart, sophisticated guy. Well guess what – that’s going to bite you in the ass real hard. Trump’s a fucking clown shitshow who actually won’t fix any problems at all, but that’s not why people are voting for him. They’re voting for him because he’s a orange-haired red-faced avatar of rage at the elite-stacked deck of modern America. And that rage will still be there after this election. And here’s the really bad news – Trump 2.0 will actually know how to channel and use it effectively without being an incredible tool. Clinton’s stale neoliberalism won’t have a chance.

    And 2020 is a redistricting year.

  178. Hi Crushinator, I think that’s a fine / fairly standard historical/social scientific (sociological, mass communication, political science, economics) analysis and narrative of how we ended up here as an electorate. I am a working social scientist, so I know something about these things. And I don’t feel superior to these people in any overall sense of being a better human being, jerking off to pictures of myself whilst kissing my bicep. That said, in reaction to my own apparently smug and self-important post, your response was an interesting exercise in ironic meta-condescension on my condescension.

    All that said, I do believe in all honesty that my judgment on these issues is superior, because [fill in the blank with any number of high-level or more detailed bullets about Donald Trump]. I’m aware that these things don’t happen in a vacuum, that people have reasons that make sense to them for the things that they do, and that the conservative media industrial complex (and other forces, like gerrymandering) are at play here. I’m not under any illusion that a bunch of red states or districts are going to miraculously turn bright blue. At the same time, I feel that your sociological/social-psychological analysis tilts things too far in the reductive direction where those forces are utterly determinative of a person’s viewpoint. I try to hold the tension between (a) the idea that there is a matrix of process forces and risk factors that increase the chances of voting for Trump or getting lung cancer or being a fundamentalist and (b) the very Clint-like idea that we have to take some responsibility for our decisions and even our beliefs. If I believed everything I did was a function of my parents, my genes, Google, or the Koch Brothers, I’d probably want to stop living, and I certainly wouldn’t be dialoguing with you fine ladies and gentlemen.

  179. Also, how is your posture of essentially reducing these people to automatons driven entirely by forces without or within any less elitist or more humanizing than my admittedly over-individualist “Anyone who votes for Trump is fucking moron” analysis? That was the title of my dissertation by the way. C’mon, Crushinator, that’s the subtle something-or-other of low expectations.

  180. If we can get back to Mr Eastwood for a moment. He said that “Trump’s onto something, because secretly everybody’s getting tired of political correctness, kissing up. That’s the kiss-ass generation we’re in right now. We’re really in a pussy generation. Everybody’s walking on eggshells. We see people accusing people of being racist and all kinds of stuff. When I grew up, those things weren’t called racist. The press and everybody’s going, ‘Oh, well, that’s racist,’ and they’re making a big hoodoo out of it. Just fucking get over it. It’s a sad time in history.”

    I feel that he is speaking for his own generation here, and he’s really admitting that he and his fellow old farts never had a fucking clue.

  181. Thanks for this discussion. I was disappointed in Clint’s comments, although relieved that they were somewhat better when you read the whole article. I feel like I can half way get to agreeing with the “Pussy Generation” statement, but the cluelessness of the in-my-day-they-didn’t-call-it-racism argument is unworthy of a smart guy like Clint.

    But I was also sad to see young people on social media and even older friends of mine who disparaging his whole career after reading the quotes. If you follow me on Twitter you see my string of examples of why his nuanced and thoughtful work is in opposition to what he said. Basically, Clint in that article is like Dirty Harry or Walt Kowalski at the beginning of the movie when they’re being all abrasive, before they go through some things and show genuine love and respect for their partner/neighbors.

    It’s also a huge bummer to see the Chief Bullshit Caller somehow okay with Trump. (He does not endorse him and at least doesn’t jump at voting for him, but says he would over Clinton.)

    And I’m glad Mr. M brought up (I think) the controversy over the X-MEN billboard. I mean I guess I can understand that people will see it who don’t know X-Men, and maybe they really will see a super powered fight between two blue-skinned monster people as a portrayal of domestic violence? But it didn’t even occur to me because everybody knows Mystique is the most badass X-Man. Clearly that guy is gonna get it!

  182. There seems to be a fear among right wingers that we’ll end up with a society not unlike the one in DEMOLITION MAN if we’re not careful. But that world is the definition of a right wing government, so it is true that they really do not know what they’re voting for. Or maybe they just love sea shells?

  183. Right, I mean that’s the part where I can empathize a bit with Clint. I think there is good, helpful political correctness, which is just a matter of society’s views shifting to where certain kinds of attitudes, words, and behaviors are no longer normative (are now frowned upon). That’s not anyone taking away your right to free speech of to having racist or sexist or whatever-ist attitudes; it’s just the fact that the times are a changing. I can still legally say the n-word, it’s just that I’m going to be roundly condemned for it, because the consensus in mainstream polite society is that this isn’t cool anymore. In the respect, some of the viral outrage porn is okay. The viral outrage at Bill Cosby or police brutality is outrage that is worth expressing. Viral outrage at the X-Men billboard and some other things is just ridiculous, and it’s that kind of stuff where I can see where Clint’s coming from. To a lesser extent I feel similarly that other things are a bit blown out of proportion, such as the Oscars So White thing (some legitimate commentary in there) or Matt Damon making moderately homophobic comments on some press tour (and then having to profusely apologize from them), or Lena Dunham comparing press harassment to spousal abuse (and then having to apologize profusely for that), and so forth. There is a continuum from clearly egregious injustices to gray areas to “c’mon, man, are you kidding me?” things like the X-Men billboard. As there is more and more harping on every possible or out-of-context image or statement that is or could be interpreted as offensive (Majestyk’s “outrage porn”), there is a collective fatigue and chilling effect that inclines people to just stop speaking their minds–it’s just too risky to one’s reputation to say something that could be turned into a soundbite that leads to a blackmark. I’m probably exaggerating this here, too, but I guess I’m saying that I think people should be given some benefit of the doubt here and it’s often opposite of that.

  184. People – famous and anonymous – are given the opportunity to say an awful lot on the net these days. Some of it is interesting. Some of it is plain stupid. All of it can easily be ignored. But we can’t ignore a president that’s an open racist. That shit is not private.

  185. I’m usually a wuss when it comes to such talks/debates because of how heated they can get and also because, seriously, who gives a shit what I have to say or think on such things? Since much better writers than me (Mr. M and Mr. S and Crush) have already covered things I would attempt to say I wont tread on that.

    Therefore I’m not sure if this will add anything to the conversation or distract, but the attitude that really gets me is turning politics and the future of our country into sports. I work in a VERY far-Right environment, my blood-family as well, and by that I mean the almost stereotypical Fox News-watching and the belief that Democrats can do right and if we keep voting Republican everything will turn out right (see Crush’s points). I remember at an old job a customer threw a fit and said that they’d ‘rather have America poor and righteous than wealthy and evil.’ The point is, everyone at work and my blood-household hate Trump. They do not like a SINGLE thing about him (shockingly they do not seem too keen on his immigration plans) but they are all going to vote for him because he has an R next to his name. Everyone of them says they HAVE to vote him because he’s on our team. Any attempt to tell them that that is no way decide the future of our country is met with a similar response as that ass-hat customer all those years ago.

    I’m not exactly far-left mind you and I try to see it from their eyes and understand them, but when you knowingly vote for someone who you know is bad news because of their ‘team’, I can’t help but feel a bit defeated.

  186. Geoffrey, that’s my point as far as just indefensibly lazy tribalism. As Chris Farley said, “I know from experience, dude.” My mom and my in-laws are dyed in the wool Republicans, and I can’t trace their angst to anything but, frankly, false consciousness. In one case, the individual retired with a state teacher’s pension at 55 and is financially secure and doing fine, living in a fairly rural environment that allows them to not come into contact with a lot of people of color or openly gay people. There is a selection effect that occurs in multiple ways: “minorities” aren’t going to move to these areas, because there are no jobs, and because there is no one who overtly looks like them (generalizing here); rural white Republicans are going to have to either leave the rural environment or poke around for some alternative information sources, or else they’re essentially living as though they were in North Korea or Shyamalan’s the Village, mainlining a self-serving and self-insulating worldview. The difference being that there are no armed guards, secret police, or fictive woodland monsters stopping them from leaving the village. It’s a choice (albeit not always a conscious one) to stay in the bubble and mainline worldview-reinforcing info and tune out the other info. I say this as someone who voted for W. Bush the first time, currently lives in a state capital but who came from a town of 3000 people. These people were voting Republican as if it were an unassailable moral obligation long before NAFTA.

    Clearly, we are shaped by our environments, but we have a choice to make as to whether to stay in those environments and, if so, whether to just pile on and/or accept others’ views vs. do a bit of research for ourselves. I’m not talking Mr. Subtlety, 8 years of climate science research; I’m talking, get a subscription to the Economist or, hell, flip over to MSNBC for 10 minutes for every 120 minutes you spend on Fox News, just as a counter-weight.

  187. I don’t want to say I feel bad for Clint, but it’s understandable that in the 80-plus years he’s been alive, and in light of all the immense changes the world has seen since then, he might be left behind. They’re younger but I see this in my parents too.

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