Wednesday 23rd of January 2019

self-gifted xmas presents for the needy...


what a night ... 20 years ago...


As debates over tax legislation, immigration, and the #MeToo campaign rage, we are reminded once again that America remains in an acute distemper. The working-class angst that propelled our president into office has not abated and frustrations with the international economic and political order are still front-and-center in public discourse. Many Americans—even liberalsexpress exasperation with a mainstream media perceived to be more interested in ratings than truth. And there’s only one holiday movie that can possibly account for all of these cultural moods. The 1988 action thriller Die Hard—which has only a tenuous connection to Christmas—is the perfect holiday film for our time.


Then there is William Atherton, an LA reporter who recognizes that the hostage situation is his chance for celebrity fame. While investigating the scene, he discovers McClane’s true identity as the husband of one of the hostages, and rushes to the wife’s house. There he presses upon Holly’s Latina housekeeper and nanny to allow him an exclusive interview with the couple’s two school-aged children. The nanny (who is portrayed as a faithful maternal figure) dutifully refuses, only to be threatened with exposure to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)—the predecessor to what we now call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—for her illegal status. She then relents, and the interview with the McClane children broadcast on local television exposes John’s relationship with his wife (the de facto spokeswoman of one of the hostages), providing added leverage to the terrorists seeking to smoke McClane out of hiding.

Finally there’s McClane himself, the epitome of the American working-class Joe who feels increasingly left behind by cultural and economic forces beyond his understanding. His wife effectively navigates her way around the upper-class white-collar world of international business, while he’s the out-of-place blue-collar stiff. Moreover, her decision to use her maiden name for the sake of her Japanese executives is a particular affront to John’s adhesion to traditional family roles. He is also a local boy at heart, with little interest in the greater world, or even greater America. He tells a passenger on his flight into LAX that he prefers to stay in New York working the beat, and mocks the colorful “fruits and nuts” culture of California upon his arrival. He tells his wife’s boss, “I didn’t realize they celebrated Christmas in Japan,” the viewer sensing the cultural tension.

Yet throughout the movie, and in spite of McClane’s own very perceptible character flaws, he finds a way to survive and ultimately defeat the terrorists who threaten not only his wife, but her colleagues and the corporation (he even appears to come to terms with his wife’s successful career). He uses his street smarts and training as a regular New York cop to outwit the sophisticated and heavily armed bad guys, and embodies the American qualities of resourcefulness, courage, and self-sacrifice. In the end, both he and his wife emerge victorious and renew their marital bonds as they drive off into the LA night.

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I don't think that Trump is your kind of regular New York copper. For this rambling dude, self-sacrifice is more like "self-serving" while kicking arses with the delicate boots of a Rambo dreaming of draining the swamps in the Sahara desert. The acute distemper felt by the American folks is nothing more that heartburn from having had too many hypocritical "Thanks Giving" dinners since Jefferson. The turkeys are having their revenge on Xmas day 2017... Hopefully, this Die Hard notion will stay confined to the Hollywood scripts... Yes, I know, the TV screens have been peppered with shows like "Madam Secretary" and "The West Wing", all trying to glorify the complexities of office... The whole lot is more like "Veep" in a baboon colony.


Merry Xmas...



INTERVIEWER: According to one analysis, the economic history of the last 20 years is a story about governments retreating from the marketplace and allowing free markets to reign. Do you buy that?

TONY BENN: No. What’s happened is big corporations have seized governments and taken them over, making the state much stronger in the interest of corporate finance. That’s what has happened. The state in Great Britain is much more powerful than it was when Mrs. Thatcher came to power. She destroyed trade unions, she destroyed local government, she limited free speech, and she recruited a lot of riot police. So the idea that market forces have weakened the state is nonsense. It’s been strengthened. The people who control market forces have taken over the state. I met an old governor of Ohio a year ago, and he said to me, “You’ll never have democracy while big business buys both parties and expects a payoff from whichever one wins.” We’re not represented anymore. We’re managed on behalf of global capitalism, and that’s why in Seattle and Prague and everywhere else in the world, people are beginning to stir, because they realize they’re being managed now. Nobody represents them.

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no oil drilling off Florida...

The US government does not want to allow oil drilling off Florida.

Donald Trump wanted to release almost the entire US coast for energy production. Five days later, it is now: there should be no new oil and gas platforms in Florida.

Tourism is an important economic factor in Florida's coastal areas, Interior Minister Ryan Zinke said following a conversation with Governor Rick Scott. There should therefore be no new oil and gas platforms in the area.

The government of US President Donald Trump originally wanted to release almost the entire US coast for energy production. The plan envisaged that 47 oil drilling licenses could be awarded over a five-year period. This met with criticism in affected states, environmentalists and the tourism industry.

Florida Governor Scott had already announced his strong resistance. "My top priority is to protect Florida's natural livelihoods," he said five days ago when the US government's plan became known.

Now, in a statement to Zinke, Scott thanked him for coming to Tallahassee to discuss his concerns. "Now we can take care of how we can further protect our environment," he said afterwards.

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and we don't cut ribbons...

In a tweet, Donald Trump said that he was not happy that the administration of his predecessor Barack Obama sold the previous US embassy in London to build a new one, which he called a "bad deal."

US President Donald Trump has canceled his February visit to Britain, during which he was expected to attend the opening ceremony of the new US embassy in London.

The previous embassy was "the best located and finest embassy in London," Trump said, adding that new $1 billion embassy in Vauxhall, south London, is built in an "off location."

"Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!" Trump said. 

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