Posts Tagged ‘america’
Obama’s been criticized lately for golfing while the world burns. This is stupid now, and it was stupid when Democrats mocked Bush for spending time on his ranch ten years ago. I’d like to propose a truce, in which we all give up this bit of purely partisan nonsense.
Any presidential vacation is a working vacation. This isn’t 1820; our wireless telegraphs are so good that the president can instantly respond to any crisis without being in Washington. There is no difference between considering policy in the Oval Office and considering policy while clearing brush or playing golf, unless you resent the president’s physical fitness.
It’s incoherent even on its own terms. Suppose it were impossible to conduct state business on vacation. Would Republicans be happy if Obama agreed to quit golfing and focus full-time on the redistribution of wealth? Did Democrats really prefer tax cuts and bombings to brush clearing and quail hunting? Abandon this criticism and we deprive the lying hacks of both parties, at no cost to anything that matters.
Barbaric prisons, for-profit healthcare, the death penalty, the imperial system of measurements–my country is uniquely horrible among industrial democracies in a hundred ways. But what do we do right?
No monarchy. Monarchy is not an “outdated institution”. The regulatory bodies governing telegraphs are outdated institutions. Monarchy was a swindle from the start. There was never a time when “God says I get to rule over ya’ll, and also my kids do too” should have been a compelling argument. C’mon, say its defenders, the constitutional monarchies don’t actually rule anymore. But that’s just defending the crown by saying it’s pointless.
No titled nobility. Hell if I’m calling any other human being “Lord”. I’m still pissed Senator Ted Kennedy accepted an honorary knighthood.
No state church. Another decision by the founders to cut the feudal bullshit.
The first amendment. We have one of the most liberal free speech regimes in the world. I think some countries have reasonable restrictions on speech given their histories (Germany bans Nazi imagery, Rwanda bans ethnicity-based polemics), but I’m happy erring on the side of freedom here.
E pluribus unum. Strength in diversity is built into the national motto. I’m not saying immigrants are treated with the dignity they deserve, just that nation-of-immigrants rhetoric is mainstream and minaret bans are not. Birthright citizenship means we don’t have third-generation immigrants who can’t vote. I’m worried for homogeneous nation-states in a world of quick travel and climate change.
-Tarantino got mixed-race American audiences to cheer for a black man slaughtering white racists. It’s like Inglourious Basterds with a (sadly, still) more sympathetic target.
-The white partner/mentor dies so the black hero can save the day on his own. Schultz’s takedown of the Southern ruling class’ pretensions to civilization is effective if a bit clumsy (Schindler’s List, of all films, juxtaposed classical music with barbarism with more subtlety).
-By making the only intelligent and sympathetic white character a foreigner, Tarantino avoided the ahistorical virtue of an Atticus Finch. Poor Southern whites are generally shown as ignoble dupes of the planter elite, even if a few realize they can’t see shit in those hoods.
-These are Tarantino’s weakest roles for women since Reservoir Dogs. None of their decisions are of consequence to the plot.