The Online Journal of Insight, Satire, Desire, Wit and Observation

On Donald Trump

Trump is fundamentally a student of his father’s, with advanced lessons from Roy Cohn. He’s learned the New York way of schmoozing, exaggerating, telling people what he thinks they want to hear, being very slippery and blatantly lying seemingly about even things there’s no reason to lie about, in order to show disrespect to people he wants to hurt. From Cohn, a strategy mix of intimidation, implicit blackmail, clandestine forbidden sex, hard partying, international intrigue, seduction, and hard-nosed threats.

And that’s worked remarkably, even unbelievably well for Trump.

Until now. The Presidency is not a real estate empire or a mafia family. The nomenklatura, or institutional bureaucracy or what Erdogan and Trump like to call “The Deep State” are notoriously entranched and hard to control. A far more proficient sociopathic President, Richard Nixon, found this out to his dismay, as did Bill Clinton to a degree. Though the latter, by his Elmer Gantry/Huey Long talents, survived.

Bill Clinton and LBJ were extroverted people persons and were great at gladhandling/manhandling people to get what they wanted from Congress and the bureaucracy. Obama, an introvert, was less successful.

But Trump as President of the USA is disastrous. He is not unintelligent within certain parameters, but his judgment seems to be impaired much of the time, he seems to have limited medium term recall which he covers for by lying and his credibility with the apparatus is less than zero. Calling them out by name to insult them doesn’t help either. And backstabbing the NRA live on TV? That was in a way delightful but at the same time I have to go whaaat is thaaat? I can’t think of a worse thing he could have done politically to undermine his base and get a lot of heavily armed people very nervous and defensive than by publicly suggesting that arms should be seized from US citizens by law enforcement. “Take the guns first, go through due process second.” I mean he actually said those words quote unquote. Is this a will to self-destruction like Hitler in his bunker? The entire world hopes not! Is it all a theatre of the absurd he simply does. not. care? Is he an agent provocateur dancing to the tune of Putin’s “chef?”

I don’t know.

But we are all going to find out.

Interesting times.

Copyright © 2018 Henry Edward Hardy

2 March, 2018 Posted by | corruption, crime, House Un-American Activities Committee, manufacturing consent, media, Orwell, politics, President, propaganda, Roy Cohn, scanlyze, security, seduction, sex, sociopathy, Trump, USA | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Speculations on the End of Star Wars Rebels

Just to speculate further on the end of the story of Star Wars Rebels from the current 4.10-11, “Jedi Night” and “Dume.”

We know from the trailers and TV episode two line previews that Ezra will confront Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sideous/The Emperor in the last episode. And though the wolves are not shown in frame together with The Emperor, the way the trailer is edited seems to imply that the Loth-Wolves will back Ezra up.

Here are my thoughts in no particular order.

Ezra is a guile hero, an Artful Dodger or Space Aladdin, so maybe the confrontation with Palpatine is some kind of a ruse. I hope that works out well for him. Because the Emperor as he was depicted in Clone Wars just toyed with Darth Maul and his brother, Sauvage Opress until he savagely curb stomped them, killing Sauvage and torturing Maul mercilessly. He literally says when Maul begs for mercy, “There is no mercy” and keeps on force lighting barbecuing him.

That leads to, regardless of whether Ezra being captured by the Emperor is part of some Batman Gambit or not, maybe he ends up getting force lighting melted and turns into Snoke. That would make the inglorious death of Snoke in Star Wars 8, whatever its called, in which Luke loses his mind and dies for no apparent reason, even more insulting to the fandom in retrospect.

Regardless of whether Ezra’s tale ends well or badly for him, surely he will be given some noble send-off which will both be a moment of awesome for him and the entire crew, and which will in some important way set up the events of the Original Trilogy. Maybe he will get hold of the plans for the *second* Death Star and many Bothans will die.

Ezra has to be taken out somehow. I don’t think he can use the Eowyn/by no man born factor of “I’m no Jedi” credibly here. “The Last of the Jedi will you be” is touchstone canon. Althogh perhaps, it means, “the last of the Jedi will you be, eventually.”

Since we have seen a lot of trailer material pointing to the Ones and even the Convoree monkey-bird specificly, I guess how things work out is something to do with Mortis.

My best tale goes something like this. Loth wolves take Ezra&co to Mortis. There, Ahsoka, living or dead or whatever, maybe in the form of the convoree, informs them the spirit world is running amok with nobody to guide it. Ahsoka will become the new “Father” (or “Mother”) with Ezra and Sabine filling the roles of the “son” (Ezra, dark after Palpatine tenderizes him) and “daughter” Sabine (light). It seems reasonable how Sabine must be strong in the Force as A) she is such a badass verging on Mary Sue, and B) she mastered the Darksaber, which was a Mandalorean Jedi weapon.

It is time for the wars of light and dark to end, and for a new life affirming balance. But it will be many years and hard work etc. The End.

Copyright © 2018 Henry Edward Hardy


21 February, 2018 Posted by | Ahsoka Tano, Ezra Bridger, Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf, Jedi, Mortis, Rebels, scanlyze, Star Wars, tropes | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Universal Appeal of Black Panther

This is a reaction piece, not a full review. It will be most sensible to those who have seen the film, but only low spoilers due to some things just should not be spoiled.

I went to Black Panther determined to write an objective review. This isn’t one. Within a few minutes of the film’s start, I had tears on my eyes, and when King T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) returned home to Wakanda, they just started streaming down my cheeks.

The sets, costumes, and city are a great example of “show, don’t tell.” Though there is plenty of exposition of the nature of “as you know” or flashbacks and visions as well.

I have read a lot of reviews saying how this is a black movie, and it is, through and through. But it is more than that. Black Panther pulls you in and I felt like this was my family, my people, my African nation as it should have been without colonization and neocolonialism. This isn’t the world as it is, but in some sense, a vision of the world as it could be.

The fictional nation of Wakanda, being the most technologically advanced nation on Earth, shares many of the dilemmas which the US faced when it was technologically advanced compared with other nations. “If we allow in immigrants, they will bring their problems with them,” as one character tells King T’Challa. Similarly there are issues of arms exports and bringing justice through superior firepower. An interesting and thought-provoking mirror.

Erik “Killmonger” Stevens is certainly the best of the Marvel villains, an area where they have been notably weak in characterization and motivation in the past. A Shakespearean family drama ensues. As well as Killmonger and T’Challa acting as proxies for the African diaspora v. mother Africa.

It’s funny how critics run in packs. I’m curious why the neoliberals aren’t screaming about cultural appropriation because this movie is all about that.

Wakanda is supposedly in East Africa more or less where real life Rwanda and Burundi are today. But people speak isiXhosa, a South African language. And the hairstyles, fashions, and architecture and textiles are a mishmash from all over the continent. All overlaid on what is now retro-futurism dating back 50 years to Jack Kirby’s illustrations for the comic.

Of course, Wakanda doesn’t exist in the real world, and more’s the pity. So they had to use inspirations from somewhere. And everything is so beautiful and awe-inspiring that I guess every reviewer in the world is giving them a pass on this and I’m no exception. Of course I tend to be a “world citizen” and “all one people” person so I am prone to want to encourage people to learn and use and do the best of everything, and to make it their own anyway. But that’s another story.

Wakanda is kind of a Pan-Africa melting pot and hodepodge in the way it is portrayed, even though it is presented as severely isolationist. The backstory for this in the comics is that the Rift Valley where Wakanda is situated is the Ur-seat of all human civilization, and African civilizations in particular.

Very strong cast. Chadwick Boseman seems to be channeling a young Nelson Mandela in his regal bearing as a newly-crowned king, his accent, his cadence, and his badassness (Mandala was a hereditary prince of his tribe, and a boxer as well as a lawyer before he was imprisoned on charges of murder and terrorism.) His nemesis, Killmonger, played by Michal Jordan is a Shakespearean anti-hero who almost steals the movie.

There are many strong and independent female characters. Notable is Leticia Wright as T’Challa’s snarky younger sister and master of Wakanda’s vibranium-based technology, Shuri. Danai Gurira as Okoye, general of Wakanda’s Royal Guard, the Dora Milaje, is ferocious as the guardian of the throne. And Angela Bassett brings a regal presence to the role of Queen Mother Ramonda.

There were a couple moments which were immersion breaking for me. One early one which I will spoil involves CIA operative Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) interrogating South African arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis, having great fun chewing all the carpet in sight in his own skin instead of mo-cap), who replies with questions of his own. I suddenly realized I was watching a game of riddles between Bilbo (Freeman) and Gollum (Serkis). As a meta-callout this is amusing but also distracting for me. The second weakness is some rather sloppy CGI which would frankly be better served with Wuxia-style wirework or even simply cutting those few seconds.

The third act suffers from too much action, falling into the typical problem where every Marvel movie has a setpiece battle where they try to top all the previous movies. Not up to the standards of Civil War, but special bonus points for (spoilers) armored rhinos! Remote piloted space ships! Personal force-shields and sonic blaster vibranium spears! Heel-Face Turn and The Cavalry. All in one rather chaotic battle. The narrative and characterization is somewhat lost in the festival of badassness which ensues. But this is a genre standard and the movie can be praised for opening so many new avenues it can be forgiven for the rather predictable final battles. I’d say more but big spoilers there.

Overall, a most lovely movie which will stand the test of time, better than I expected after reading 30+ positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and a rollicking good time. The movie seems too short at 2:14 so I am looking forward to a director’s cut and one hopes, one or more sequels, including perhaps a spinoff for some of the interesting secondary characters. Wakanda Forever!

5 of 5 stars. Bring a friend so you don’t talk your Lyft driver’s ear off as I did on the way home. :)

Copyright © 2018 Henry Edward Hardy


16 February, 2018 Posted by | Andy Serkis, Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, media, Michael Jordan, scanlyze, Wakanda | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hawaiian Nuclear Alert commentary

Future historians will note that the turning point in Hawaiian independence came with the mistaken statewide nuclear alert of Jan 13, 2018. People were told they were going to die horribly. Further, for as yet un-ascertained reasons, air raid alarms were set of on US military bases and some TV stations broadcast a confirmation of a nuclear attack in progress. Not an alert, not a warning, they were told shelter in your homes its too late to seek shelter elsewhere and good luck goodbye.

People put their kids in the bathtub and prayed. People filled the H3 tunnel seeking shelter with their vehicles. People at work had to decide to shelter in place, or whether to try to spend their last few minutes on Earth with their spouse, or else with one of their children. People broke out the 100 year old scotch and went to a good vantage point.

Except for the latter, the rest of these folks are going to have lifetime scars. And the media response was very flat and un-empathetic like, oh no big deal. Really, was it no big deal that a million people saw their lives pass before their eyes and contemplated losing their loves, their family, all that they had worked for in the blink of an eye. Or, in the alternative, living out their remaining weeks in agony as their connective tissue dissolved.

This will never, ever be forgotten by the people who experienced it. It will have political consequences, hopefully positive ones, down the road.

Hawaii Panics After Alert About Incoming Missile Is Sent in Error

Copyright © 2018 Henry Edward Hardy


28 January, 2018 Posted by | scanlyze | Leave a comment

Trump, Year 2

We all know the pain of being separated from one beloved person.

Multiply that times 800,000 and you have the inevitable outcome of Trump’s plan to exile the Dreamers.

Pain and sadness, criminalization and forcible expulsion from the country for people who were brought here as children and grew up here. Starting in March.

In many cases, this is the only home, the only language, the only culture and nation they have ever known.

I just can’t get my brain around how anyone in the political class is even considering talking about this.

A hateful, horrible, hideous idea.

The eight thousand expelled Cherokees of the Trail of Tears times one hundred.

This is an expression of a genocidal hatred that goes beyond mere dumbass racism into the realm of intentional evil on a massive scale for fun and profit.

Trump, Year 2

Copyright © 2017 Henry Edward Hardy


26 January, 2018 Posted by | Cherokee, democracy, Dreamers, genocide, racism, scanlyze, Trump | , , , , , , | Leave a comment