Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Nixon Ex-Machina - Watergate at 40

Scientists claim addictive behaviors are caused by abnormalities in the pleasure centers of the brain. Though
my sub-par marks in high school chemistry have forever branded me as "really bad science guy", I can
confidently say this means people with depression can be addicts, but not all addicts are necessarily
depressed. After careful analysis by "really bad science guy", I can further assume that there is a certain
cause and effect to the phenomenon known as the addictive personality. Clinically depressed Bob just can't
motivate himself to get out of bed and plant some roses. Addictive personality Bill has no problems
planting the roses, but can't do it without a pint of vodka and a bottle of Vicodin. Fair enough.

...And so, the 40th anniversary coverage of Watergate began this month (If you're wondering where I'm going with this, that makes two of us).

40 years ago, a politician lied. No kidding, this actually happened. A member of this elite group of morally unflappable guardians of civic virtue actually stood in front of the naive, doe-eyed masses and said something that wasn't exactly the truth. Apparently, if very important pundits with really great teeth are to be believed, this was the darkest day in American History; 57% of Americans agree, though only 14% admit to actually knowing anything about it. It's a very dark and important day because those who made their careers on it say so. Without the myth of Watergate, there would be no bubble gum news outfits like CNN, no Anderson Cooper, no 60 Minutes, and certainly no sitcoms in perpetual syndication about spunky female reporters who stick it to the patriarchy.

Watergate anniversaries are always difficult times to remain sober for anyone who doesn't eat things off the floors of public washrooms. Watergate is the most overblown scandal in the American psyche. Compared to the myriad of scandals that have plagued the Obama administration, from illegal wire tapping, using the IRS to target conservative political groups, Benghazi, and Fast and Furious; Nixon looks cleaner than fresh snow. The media suffers from an acute case of addictive punditry. Not content to lie in bed in a state of lethargic contemplation, they want to party until last call, or until it's time to put Bob Woodward back into cryogenic stasis. The pleasure center of their collective brain is malfunctioning, and only hour-long documentaries about the day we lost our innocence will cure them.

To buy into the traditional media version of Watergate, one must first suspend all rational thought and believe two rather astounding assertions:

1) Before Watergate, Americans trusted their Government and its institutions.

Please. This must be the only day in history where the media forgets the 60's ever happened. Remember the 60's? You know, hippies, massive protests, taking it to the streets, don't trust anyone over 30? A movement that was sparked by mass disenfranchisement with government? The Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in American history, was a direct result of vehement dissatisfaction over the policies of the Lincoln Administration. Mistrust in government was a staple of American culture long before Nixon famously waved the V-sign from the open door of Air Force One. From Hollywood's flirtation with communism to the divisive fight for racial equality in the 60's, Americans have never been fond of Government.

2) Watergate was the gravest abuse of power in American history.

I wonder how much media attention will be given this month to the anniversary of the day FDR completed the unlawful round up and detainment 120,000 Japanese-American citizens from the Pacific Coast? How about when Bobby Kennedy, the Patron Saint of American civil rights, bugged the offices of Martin Luther King Jr. (Ironically, this also required a group of fellows to break into an office in the dead of night)?

Despite the litany of allegations damning Nixon, only one small piece of evidence ties Nixon to the Watergate cover-up - a recording of Nixon brainstorming with Chief-of-Staff H. R. Haldeman in the wake of the arrest of the Watergate burglars. In the scratchy recording, Nixon advises Haldeman to have Deputy CIA Director Vernon Walters call FBI Director Pat Gray and request: ''We wish, for the good of the country, (that you) don't look any further into this case."

For all the talk of extortion, bribery, and strong-arm FBI tactics, that one statement is the evidentiary extent of Nixon's culpability.

Yet, on go the Watergate anniversary festivities, set to the endless drum beat of somber editorials dripping with inane metaphors. Nixon is hardly history's worst villain, though Watergate will forever be the epitaph of his legacy. He was a pensive bureaucrat, with a penchant for big government solutions at the slightest hint of a problem. He was plagued by insecurity, despite his astonishing intellect, and the role of president hung ill on his shoulders. He is fondly remembered by his staff for his graciousness and warmth. He knew the name of every cook and chauffeur, and was generous with his time and money to their families. He was a
consummate author, penning over 2 dozen books and hundreds of articles in his lifetime. Presidents
from Reagan to Clinton sought out his advice in the midst of their most dire foreign policy crises.

But what does it matter? Every August 9th is Nixon bashing day. I stayed home from the party - call me in the morning.

Cordially

Joe 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Mirage of Social Justice and other Progressive Fairy Tales



"I am certain, however, that nothing has done so much to destroy the juridical safeguards of individual freedom as the striving after this mirage of social justice.”

Freidrich A. Hayek

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

F. Scott Fitzgerald


When one enters the ground floor of human service work, divorced from its academic revision that blossomed in the mid-1960's, we find a very simple definition, if one looks hard enough, on the NOHS flagship page.


"The primary purpose of the human services professional is to assist individual and communities to function as effectively as possible in the major domains of living."


This guiding principle was founded on Wolf Wolfensberger's pioneering work with the disabled, which attempted to shift perceptions through Social Role Valorization, a fine tuning of the concept of normalization.  Though Wolfensberger's work is but one discipline within a multi-disciplinary field, its core philosophy can still serve as a panacea for the field writ large: to help integrate and adjust those hindered, whether through intellectual or physical impairments, socio/economic hardship, incarceration, addiction or illness.  In turn, SRV challenges society to neither shun nor be overly accommodating out of a sense of pity or good intentions that inadvertently encourage further societal stigmas.


Reasonable people can disagree over the merits of normalization vs valorization, or, as I have often argued, whether a completely value neutral society is a desirable aim; but now that human service training has moved out of the community colleges and vocational schools and into the hallowed halls of academia and ivy league universities, human services work has become something entirely different.  It has now become another tool in the arsenal of those seeking ``social justice``.


"Our mission (is to) strengthen the community by...advocating and implementing a social policy and agenda. We believe in advocating for social justice."


Assistance has become advocacy, the individual is now the collective, and effectively functioning communities have been replaced by divisive special interest groups, festering in a culture of victimization looking for redress to grievances that can never be satisfied. 


But if Wolfensberger's vision can be warped into something unrecognizable from its original intent, have we also, as Hayek asserted, "perverted" the meaning of social justice itself?


One of the most widely used textbooks issued to first year students entering Social Work, "Doing Anti-Oppressive Practice" gives us a hint.  "Our everyday experience is shaped by multiple oppressions, macro and micro level social relations that perpetuate and promote social ideas values and processes that are oppressively organized around notions of superiority.   Multiple oppressions including gender, sexual orientation, and race. Social justice oriented human services works to transform those forces within society that benefit from and perpetuate inequity and oppression."


That's quite a mission statement!  But who's to blame for all this oppression?  Again, the text is more than ready to provide an answer.  "Social justice oriented social work, strive to meet client's in the context of an increasingly pro-market, corporatized, society that supports and benefits from war, colonialism, poverty and injustice at the local level and worldwide." 


If you look elsewhere you'll begin to notice a pattern with a heavily ideological tilt leftward.  As Jonah Goldberg noted,


“Social justice” is one of those phrases that no mission statement — at least no mission statement of a certain type — can do without. You simply cannot be in the do-goodery business without proclaiming that you’re fighting for social justice. Here’s the AFL-CIO: “The mission of the AFL-CIO is to improve the lives of working families — to bring economic justice to the work-place and social justice to our nation.” The 2 million–strong Service Employees International Union (SEIU) — which serves as the political shock troops for President Obama (former SEIU president Andrew Stern was the most frequent visitor to the White House during the first six months of the Obama presidency, which no doubt is why his presidency got off to such a great start) — asserts: “We believe we have a special mission to bring economic and social justice to those most exploited in our community — especially to women and workers of color.”


Progressives have always had a problem looking in their rear-view mirrors, and this problem creates a petri dish that breeds intellectual dishonesty.  The left can only walk back as far as The New Deal, lest they trip into President Woodrow Wilson and Hebert Croly.  Wilson and Croly present a problem because they are the architects of the modern progressive movement, a movement that was inspired by European fascism.  Wilson, under the cloak of social justice, zealously adopted and implemented laws that strengthened labor unions and increased the powers of the Federal government.  During WW1, Wilson imprisoned or deported over 10,000 Americans he deemed subversive, including African Americans, whom Wilson described as "shiftless children". 


This convenient blind spot has prevented academics from exploring the roots of social justice, roots founded in the bosom of Roman Catholicism.


In the mid 19th century, Catholic theologian Luigi Taparelli d’Azeglio, concerned with the growing encroachment of the state on individual liberty, coined the term "social justice".  Throughout Europe, competing notions of economic, philosophical and metaphysical principles were blossoming.  As new institutions, both private and public, were being formed around these competing notions, d'Azeglio worried that they would throw society into chaos.  There were now sub-societies within society at large.  D'Azeglio asserted that in order for these societies to coexist with one another, the individuals within them had a responsibility to respect and cooperate with each other, rather than isolate and compete for dominance.  It is a complex theory, but at its core, it implores us not to engage in tribalism, or to become too ideologically dogmatic.


In modern terms, social justice promoted harmony over identity politics, precisely the opposite of what social justice strives for today.


Social justice received its first makeover at the hands of Wilson, Croly, and John Dewey, who worked in tandem to enact legislation at the behest of international trade unions to, among other things, impose the 8 hour work day.  Croly's idealism would be the thread that connected Wilson to President Roosevelt and The New Deal, the second largest expansion of the powers of the Federal Government in history, the first now being the implementation of the Affordable Care Act under the Obama administration.


The New Deal has become the signature piece of legislation that academics point to as the birth of social justice, inspired by the left's growing enthusiasm for European Fascism.  Once signed into law, it made the federal government the largest employer of American citizens, solidified the rights of both public and private sector unions, introduced the concept of a "living wage", subsidized housing, massive federal grants for the agricultural and manufacturing sector, and allocated up to 500 million dollars in federal transfers to state governments for make-work projects.  These themes are still recognizable in the mission statements of literally millions of organizations whose mandate is the promotion of "social justice".  They were also prominent in the Nazi party platform and that of the Italian National Fascists Party. 


This fact, like Wilson’s racial polemics, is glossed over or ignored by modern day progressives, a luxury not afforded to capitalist icons like Henry Ford or Walt Disney whose alleged xenophobia is largely based on wild speculation.  It was a necessity in order for these doctrines to be smoothly transported into the feminist, environmental and academic movement in the 1960’s, and into the modern day social welfare movement.  In order to rally, there must be those to rally against.  Social justice, in its present incarnation, must have a myriad of injustices to rectify.  It must also have straw men who perpetrate these injustices, like the  “..militaristic, capitalist, anti-human, post-structuralist society” about which University textbooks like "Doing anti-oppressive practice warns us. 


The reason Hayek coined the phrase “mirage of social justice” is quite simple: Such a thing can never truly exist.  “Only situations that have been created by human will can be called just or unjust. . . . Social justice,” Hayek concludes, “does not belong to the category of effort but that of nonsense, like the term ‘a moral stone.'"


Imagine a province which enacts a 2 dollar increase in the minimum wage after dedicated lobbying efforts on behalf of self-appointed poverty advocates.  As a result, a woman who owns a pizza restaurant employing 12 people, must lay off two employees and reduce another 4 to part-time hours in order to remain profitable.  Who is to blame for this injustice?  The invisible hand of the free market?  The pizza parlor owner?  The consumer who instead, frequents a chain restaurant that sells a similar product at a lower price?  The government for not providing subsidies to help cushion the blow of the increase?  Or could it possibly be the poverty advocates, who, operating on emotion rather than intellect, galvanized public opinion to support the new law?  Who has been unjust?  Who is to blame?  Is this a society that lives harmoniously?  One that fosters a culture of cooperation


When we lobby for legislation we are seeking legal recourse, not social justice.  We are trying to construct, through government lobbying, a society that fits one group's vision of what constitutes justice and fairness.  We move further and further away from Wolfensberger's vision of harmony that stems from each human being’s personal responsibility to his fellow man, and his community.


“The only way for social justice to make sense is if you operate from the assumption that the invisible hand of the market should be amputated and replaced with the very visible hand of the state. In other words, each explicit demand for social justice carries with it the implicit but necessary requirement that the state do the fixing. And a society dedicated to the pursuit of perfect social justice must gradually move more and more decisions under the command of the state, until it is the sole moral agent.”


Cordially

Joe

Friday, September 06, 2013

The Reluctant Imperialist

In Beau Wilimon's brilliant American adaptation of the British mini-series House of Cards, Democratic majority whip Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, muses on the notion of "trickle-down diplomacy" as his foreign policy mission statement before being passed up for the position of Secretary of State.  Although never really explained, one can assume it implies, like the economic policies of the Reagan Administration it steals from, that whatever benefits those at the top of the pecking order on the world stage, creates a net-positive global ripple effect.  It makes for good television, but in the real world, the notion is utter hogwash.  Trickle-down economics makes for good domestic policy, having tripled revenues to the treasury and boosting millions of Americans into the middle class, but as foreign policy, it's doubtful that easing sanctions on say, North Korea, would prevent Cuba from throwing blacks, gays, or people who think breakfast for dinner is just dandy into its dreadful work camps and prisons in an effort to persuade the United States into reversing its travel restrictions on the island dictatorship.  However, if we take it to mean America's actions on the world stage set the climate for how other nations act, well, Underwood might have been on to something.

The fictional Underwood loves sound bites like "disorganized labor" when dueling with unruly teacher's unions.  The fictional...I mean, President Obama is also a fan of sound bites.  They're what propelled him to the highest office in the land in 2008.  How else on earth could a relatively unknown and unvetted Senator from Illinois best a respected war hero with 30 years of experience reaching across the aisle and a reputation for having a fierce independent streak?  During the 2008 campaign, those of us with brain activity were horrified that platitudes as vapid as "Yes We Can" and as convoluted as "We're the Ones We've Been Waiting For" suddenly passed for soaring oratory.  It was fast food politics: quick and cheap, leaving you bloated, yet still wanting more.  Senator McCain was steak and baby potatoes, while Obama was a Chalupa, and who's got the time to marinate a steak when you can have a cool, pimped out taco in a few minutes (I could really go for a Chalupa right now, but my heart is saying "KFC". My gut is saying Jenny Craig)?

People will argue that the tingly-legged media was derelict in it's duty, neglecting to properly vet the boy wonder; that even the most perfunctory look under the nearest rock would have revealed Obama's radical past and bizarre anti-colonialist grievances.  That may be true, but those of us actually listening had grave misgivings about candidate Obama as far back as the Democratic primaries, when he expressed a willingness to meet with the leaders of brutal Middle Eastern theocracies and Latin American dictators without conditions, while rattling the sabre at long-time or strategic allies.  Validation of these fears came as early as his inaugural address, when he expressed his desire to placate countries like Iran by offering "a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect."

It's this type of global naiveté that has led us down the long road to Syria (there's a whiplash-inducing segway!)  As we sit on the eve of war, or selective air strikes, or a stern finger wagging, or sending a Chinook helicopter with the naked corpse of Ted Kennedy suspended by a stretchy rope to moon Bashir Assad, the most powerful nation in the world is now into day 16 of vacillating between any number of options against Syria while displaying the worst poker face at the table.

I'm at a loss as to why the President feels so compelled to act.  The brutal Assad regime has been doing what it does best in Syria on an escalating basis for the past 2 years.  Is it because Assad has crossed Obama's "red line", which the President has lied about even mentioning?  It's not like it's the first time he's broken a promise: see legislative transparency with the 5 Days of Sunlight act, or closing Guantanamo bay, or ending income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 per year, or passing the Employee Free Choice Act, or only lifting the payroll tax cap on earnings above $250,000, or allowing workers to claim more in unpaid wages and benefits in bankruptcy court, or allowing seniors to buy their prescription medication at lower prices from other countries, etc., etc.  It's not like the guy is averse to lying.  It's almost his second language.

I'm not averse to military intervention.  Had the President acted more decisively after the Assad regime massacred rebel factions with sarin gas, I would have supported U.S. action.  I looked on with hope during the Arab spring, a spring that has now turned into winter.  Egypt was a mistake, but it was a noble mistake.

Now the President is attempting "trickle down diplomacy", but the only thing trickling is international support for action.  It's like Obama is at the Olive Garden and deciding what to do in Syria is the Never Ending Pasta Bowl.  There are so many options to choose from, but he can't make up his mind, so he keeps filling up on bread while everyone else at the table gets increasingly annoyed.  First he resolved he would act, but he didn't want to act unilaterally, so he waited to take the pulse of the world.  Britain said to bloody hell with you; Canada supports action, but won't offer military support; The French said "non", like they say to work and regular bathing.  Israel was initially impatient for the President to act, but is now almost tepid, after the  Administration's waffling and telegraphing of seemingly every detail of the strike.  In Tel Aviv, it's become la rigueur to mock the President's lack of action by quoting the famous line from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: "When you have to shoot, shoot.  Don't talk." 

Now the situation has become, as someone once said, "less than optimal".  Today the Vatican is reporting a Catholic priest was beheaded by opposition forces in June.  This comes on the heels of another viral video showing a rebel fighter dismembering and eating the heart of a slain Syrian soldier, raising a very legitimate concern over whether a post invasion Syria will go from brutal dictatorship to a barbaric Al Qaida theocracy (it's also spawned a resurgence of the crooner classic "I left my heart in Ali Ahkmed").

Now the President takes his case to Congress, where it is unclear whether he can secure the sufficient votes required to act with congressional approval.  Should the measure fail to pass, I have no doubt President Obama will be more than happy to, once again, blame an "obstructionist Congress" for his inept leadership.

Whatever the outcome, American credibility has been the first casualty of war.  The arab world smells weakness, while  our friend's and allies smell incompetence, indecisiveness and the true color of this administration: yellow.

To truly understand the President's motivations when it comes to matters of foreign policy, one only has to ask why the first black President always seems to make his weakest speeches on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  The answer is that Obama does not view the African-American struggle through the lens of the civil rights movement; Rather, he sees it through the lens of colonialism in far-away Kenya, and supposed Western imperialism in his own back yard.  I can only imagine the kabuki theatre of wonky academic moral pretzel-twisting that goes through his mind when he considers the post-WW1 French mandate history of Syria.  The reluctant imperialist taking up arms against a country with a quasi-colonialist past - that has to be an all new level of liberal self loathing.

In House of Cards, the calculating Frank Underwood makes a clever observation about the liberals that swim in the Democratic waters he inhabits. Perhaps it can serve as a useful insight into the President's constant vacillations.

"I have often found that bleeding hearts have an ironic fear of their own blood."

Cordially

Joe

Friday, July 05, 2013

Out of the Abyss

"A man may drink because he considers himself a failure, yet fail all the more completely because he drinks".

George Orwell

9 years ago today, I checked myself into a detox facility for the last time after years of closet drinking and the rapid decline of my "functioning alcoholic" stage. I was no longer a functioning alcoholic - I was a drunken wreck, and I wasn't fooling anyone anymore.

When I finished a righteous tear, I didn't wake up in bed with a hangover, I woke up in the ICU of the hospital with an IV bag.

I find myself asking "why did I get better when so many others didn't". Lots of people tried just as hard as me, went to as many meetings as me, and did all the right things that are supposed to keep you on the straight and narrow. I have (what you medical nerds refer to as) Type II Alcoholism. One the hardest to deal with and a disorder that has a very low recovery rate. I have seen many of my fellow travelers end up in jails, hospitals, and even die from the disease in one form or another. Why did I get better, and why did they fail?

It's not about "will power" or "self control", but I won't bore you with the details, lest you drag me out into the street and beat me over the head with a bottle of Jaegermeister. I like to think that it's been my conservative values of self-reliance and personal responsibility that have kept me sober all these years; but I know it has nothing to do with my personal political proclivities.

Maybe God looked down and whispered "Joe, I need to keep you around". Maybe he needed me to annoy liberals and entertain my countless fans with fart jokes, split infinitives, and obscure pop culture references. Maybe it was all a path leading to the lovely Mrs. Claire. I don't know. I just know one day I had finally had enough, and I've never looked back.

Today I lead a charmed life. I'm married to the most wonderful woman in the word, I have a wonderful job, some uber cool diggs, and a blog that's read around the world - From Montreal to Maine, from London to Los Angeles, and from Australia to Austin.

I wouldn't go back for all the beer in Boston - and believe me, they make wicked beer in Beantown.

Cordially

Joe

Monday, June 24, 2013

TSH HOLLYWOOD - My Exclusive Interview with FrackNation Co-Director Magdalena Segieda

 


The following is my exclusive interview with Magdalena Segieda, who co-directed  the documentary FrackNation along with noted filmmakers  Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney. Ms. Segieda was born in 1982 in Szczecin, a city in Poland mentioned in Churchill’s famous speech about the Iron Curtain. She studied in a college geared towards supplying employees for European institutions, graduating with a BA in Political Science and International Relations the year Poland joined EU. (source Ann & Phelim Media)

Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about FrackNation for our readers.

1 - Before we get to the film, I want to ask you about the environmental movement, writ large. In an Episode of Penn and Teller BS, an actress attends a massive green rally and is able to convince dozens of people to sign a petition banning dihydrogen monoxide, saying it was used by corporations everywhere and was found in just about everything. People gladly signed the petition without question. Dihydrogen Monoxide is H2O - water! What is it about the environmental movement that makes seemingly intelligent people check their brains at the door?

Why do their critical thinking skills fail when in comes to environmentalism? Ideology. The will immediately accept any, even most fantastical storyline, if it fits their narrative of "evil corporations spreading death and destruction" and they will refuse to consider any evidence that contradicts that narrative.
 
2 - Environmentalism seems to have an almost fundamentalist fervor to it: Man destroyed paradise through his reckless actions and must atone or the earth will be destroyed. Do you think environmentalism has become a secular religion to many people?

3 - What event or events stirred such a passion that it set the wheels for FrackNation in motion?
 
Ann and Phelim are long-time journalists with passion and experience in telling stories that the mainstream media just won't tell. I was born in Poland, where energy was very expensive and intermittent and that affected my life growing up. So it's a combination of those factors plus outpouring of support from people all over the country (and abroad) once we announced we were planning this project and launched our crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.
 
4 - In the film and subsequent interviews, you demonstrate that not only is the anti-fracking movement promoting bad public policy, it's promoting bad science. We are also seeing a growing  dependence on Saudi oil, unemployment and crappy Matt Damon movies. What do you think is the single most destructive impact the Josh Fox/Gasland crowd have had?
 
Personally, what I find most insidious about Josh Fox's films and campaigns is that he created this impression that there is a massive local opposition to fracking among farmers and landowners. When I hit the road to do research for FrackNation and went from door to door, I discovered it was the New York City elites that were against fracking, not the people of the land.
 
5 - The Alec Baldwin foundation recently kicked Phelim off a panel that is going to debate fracking. He's given no logical reason as to why he was kicked off, with the exception of a flurry of insulting tweets. What do you think they're so afraid of?
 
Alec Baldwin will sit on that panel himself, accompanied by Josh Fox and another anti-fracking journalist. I don't think he's looking for balance. But it's Josh Fox who refused to debate Phelim on multiple occasions. What he is afraid of? The truth I guess. He can't defend the misinformation and the misleading claims he made in his movies, so he prefers avoiding difficult questions.
 
6 - The New York Times wrote a very positive review of FrackNation. Do you think you are finally changing hearts and minds when it comes to fracking?
 
Well, we were surprised by that review too. I hope they simply watched FrackNation and thought it was a good movie.
 
7 - Do you think people like Josh Fox, Alec Baldwin and Matt Damon really care about the environment, or is there something else going on?

It's hard to say. Josh has made a career out of protesting against natural gas. As for Hollywood actors and celebrities, there is their ego, so perhaps they feel the need to save the world.
 
8 - There are over 30,000 climate scientists who are challenging the claims of the environmental movement, yet we keep hearing the debate is over, the science is solid, and climate skeptics are right-wing schills for big oil.  Even very smart folks like Michael Shermer think global warming skeptics have simply skewed the data in their favour, blinded by their own conservative biases.  Again, why are they shutting down dissent?
 
Because once "the debate is settled", they can just proceed with policies that are supposed to shape the world according to their vision. Thankfully, there is still freedom of speech in America.
 
9 -  Where can people see FrackNation? Will it be available for streaming rental on ITunes or a similar site at some point?
 
People can view the film at public screening organized all around the country by various groups. They can check for a screening near them, here: http://fracknation.com/screenings/. They can also buy a DVD to watch and keep at home to show to friends and family here: http://fracknation.com/purchase/. Mark Cuban's AXS TV will show FrackNation again on Tuesday, July 9th at 8 and 11 p.m. Eastern. So there is really no excuse not to see it.

10 - Congratulations on the success of FrackNation. What's next for you, Ann, and Phelim?

A very much needed break.
 
 
 
11 - Thanks again for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us.
 
Thanks a lot for your interest in our work.
 
Magdalena Segieda can be reached at;

Hard Boiled Films
578 Washington Blvd, #938
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tim's Take - The Meaning of Hispanic Conservatism in the Age of Trayvon Martin


Author’s Note: It is admittedly not in the scope of this post to pass judgment on the guilt or innocence of George Zimmerman. Rather, this post is an examination of the societal and ramifications of the Hispanic identity in light of the conclusions and media assertions made as a result of the Treyvon case, amongst other topics.

 
Part I - The Trayvon Takeaway

I’m as Mexican as Barack Obama is black. Oddly enough, it’s only white liberals that give me grief with that assertion, which doesn’t stop it from being any less true. My dad’s family (ie., my Mexican side) is overwhelmingly Democratic and liberal, which frankly is beyond the scope of this blog piece. But I will share with you that when I asked my dad’s mother why she was a Democrat she simply said that when she was a little girl her mother had told her that Republicans always sent the Mexican boys off to war. The poor Mexican boys from the South side of San Antonio. It didn’t matter that it was untrue; this is a maxim my own flesh and blood has carried with them. My grandmother didn’t articulate anything in particular that betrayed her allegiance to the Democratic party; no mention of her endorsement of JFK’s Catholicism and that it comforted her and she identified with it. Nothing about Clinton. Just some half-truth she had been told sixty years ago. There are three inherent issues with my grandmother’s confession, the first being that it was untrue. Secondly, her belief underscores how ineffective Republicans have been in over half a century at re-writing that narrative and speaking to the Hispanic community, and it highlights the truth that Hispanics are Democrats because that is what they have inherited, not what they have chosen. And when they are attending universities, Hispanics are subjected to the cruel statist brainwashing of American academia. None of this ink is spilled to slander my grandmother; I love her dearly. But the state of racial politics in this country is a narrative that is being controlled by white liberals. Moreover, the Hispanic liberals that go into the ballot booth and strike a straight Democrat ballot have been taken for granted by the DNC for too long. And even more damning, Hispanic Conservatives have little to no voice in this country. And why a Hispanic could pull the lever for liberal causes is all the more puzzling in light of the Trayvon Martin case.

Ever since the Duke lacrosse case, I’ve learned to try and couch my initial assumptions and let justice wind its (sometimes fallible) course. It’s easier not to jump to conclusions and make wild accusations that later are proven patently untrue. Here’s what we do know about the Trayvon case. George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin were in an altercation. Zimmerman - for reasons right or wrong - ended Martin’s life. Zimmerman is Hispanic. Trayvon was African-American. That’s really the only concrete evidence we have. It seems on the surface like a fairly straightforward case. Let Zimmerman have his day in court and the chips will fall where they will.

But that isn’t what happened. Instead, the media was quick to make its assertions about Zimmerman’s guilt starting with the pictures they ran of the two young men. Zimmerman was shown in an orange polo that looked like a jumpsuit. Martin was shown as a young smiling boy. Even when the pictures surface later that showed Zimmerman was a young professional and Martin had his pants halfway down, the public perception had already been formed. In the case of minorities, the media had chosen the African-American over the Hispanic. Even though Hispanics are the more prevalent minority. Even though there really was no political bent to the story in the beginning. The message to me as a Hispanic was clear - though I identify as a minority, I am not special, nor am I protected. The African-American community is more important than me. They are not as numerous as me, but if I’m going to get media coverage, I’m going to be mislabeled as “white.” It was marginally terrifying.

People tell me all the time I look “something” (I’ve been called Jewish, Arabic, Greek, Armenian, and Latino.) But even though I look “something” and I AM in fact “something” the message resonated from the media - we will not protect you. We won’t even accurately report your race. Is this the fault of the African-American community? Absolutely not. Nor do I hold any ill will toward a single African-American for this media bias. The media bias that the left won’t even acknowledge exists. The media bias that has turned American media into an echo chamber for the current progressive administration. But I digress...

So I am not white. But I am not protected as a political special interest, either. Not that I “need” political protection through special interest. But the reality that I’m not going to get a fair racial shake is startling. 

 

Part II - Hispanic Conservatism Anomalies

 
        “I don’t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican” - Harry Reid

On the surface, Hispanic conservatism shouldn’t exist. That Democrats hold Hispanics in their iron grip is a well documented fact. Libs love to gloat about this: “Minorities voting for GOP is like women voting for rapists” is one common sentiment. Ignore the callous misogyny and you’ll still be left with a staggering level of self-righteousness. And yet even though it shouldn’t exist, some of the brightest stars in the GOP are Hispanics. Susana Martinez, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio are the first that come to mind. I would argue that this is because the values that Hispanics hold dear - faith, family, and independence, are best represented in conservative limited government. Again, it isn’t that Democrats better represent Hispanics, it’s that Republicans have done a miserable job of getting their brand out. Hispanics have merely “inherited” the Democrats. The Republicans haven’t branded themselves as the alternative in a proper way.

And yet oddly, Hispanics aren’t up in arms about comments like the one Harry Reid made. Some crotchety old white guy makes a sweeping stereotype and dictates HOW Hispanics “should” vote. That is outrageous. It’s the epitome of “shut up and get in line.” And sadly, Hispanic Democrats are glad to do just that. I’ve long said that I’m not so much a Hispanic Conservative as I am a Hispanic Anti-Democrat. I see the hypocrisy of white liberals and it is more offensive to me than the anti-amnesty rhetoric of the right. Obviously my political evolution is more complicated than that (and largely a result of the truly negative experiences I had at a state university - but we’ll get into that another time). But I look at Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and feel far more inspired than I do when I hear another Democrat talk about how disenfranchised I am because of the color of my skin, and I need Big Government to help me out. I already learned I’m not politically protected. Trayvon proved that. So if I’m not to be protected, I’m really just needed as a pawn - a vote - for the left.

 
                                                          Part III - The Coming Hellfire

I alluded to it in a previous post here on The Straight Hype - I’m waiting for criticism to be leveled at Marco Rubio so that I can call his detractors racists. My wife read that line from the previous post back to me and said “are you serious about that part?” To her and everyone, I whisper back “yes.”

I dare you to speak ill of Ted Cruz. I. Dare. You.

Talk about what a wingnut Marco Rubio is. Please.

Because for five years I’ve heard those that disagree with Barack Obama called “racists.” None of the dissenters’ qualms have been logically dispelled. It has simply been “you’re a racist.” Those types of accusations don’t go away after a Hispanic conservative hears them. They re-enforce the Trayvon takeaway. That a white person would call a Hispanic a “racist” because he doesn’t like the African-American president takes gall, and an utter lack of self-awareness. And I’ve carefully stuffed that bitterness down and have gallons full of venom to drench white liberals in when the opportunity comes. In one regard, I long for the day when I can let out every dripping shred of “racist bigot” accusations on a white liberal. That’s not a joke. That’s not hyperbole. No, I’m not kidding. Consider this your warning.

I’m not the kind that’s going to be called a racist for five or more years and take that lying down. No. I’m aching for a white liberal to say something about Marco Rubio. Ted Cruz. Susana Martinez. Because when a conservative Hispanic plays the race card against a white liberal, there is no defense for the white liberal. Andrew Breitbart alluded to the struggle between individualism and statism as war. Rhetorical war. Media war. That’s lofty. All that the left has been able to muster is emotional warfare couched in personal, unfounded accusations. And I will be returning the favor as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

So if you’ve taken nothing from this post so far, I leave you with this.

If you’re a white liberal, I’m coming for you.

Furiously.

Honestly.

Waving the race card, “racist bigot” on the tip of my tongue.

Because I will be calling you a racist with a straight face. Because I will be saying it loudly. And I will mean it.

And because you will be powerless to defend against it. To quote Andrew Breitbart......”WAR!”

Tim Dimas believes in the individual, small government, and sweet tea. The three most influential books he has ever read are “Atlas Shrugged,” “The Gospel of St. John,” and “The 48 Laws of Power.” In that order. He is a fan of the beach, and ostentatious fashion

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Tim's Take - Why Hosing the Rich Fails, and Always Will


Before the great sequestration began, we asked noted economist Tim Dimas to reflect on the consequences of the election results, and the ugly class warfare that launched America into another 4 years of expected economic malaise. Tim took up the challenge and chipped away at the cliches and misguided thinking that led to the mess that is Obama 2.0 - a sort of pre-questration if you will.

Please enjoy, this month's installment of, Tim's Take.



Tim's Take
 
 
Happy New Year, America! Your paycheck is smaller.

 
And it’s all George W. Bush’s fault.

 
No really, all I’ve heard about since November 2000 is that Bush is a modern day Hitler. So Democrats did the most logical thing and allowed one of his tax cuts on workers expire, resulting in about a $50 smaller paycheck every two weeks (for the “average” American). Of course, nobody is screaming in the streets that Obama broke a promise never to raise taxes on anyone earning less than $250,000.00 a year. Enjoy that extra pinch in your paycheck, America. You earned it: You voted for it.

This Bush-averse logic also led Democrats to make his tax cuts on the middle class permanent. I think that’s a wonderful way to honor “BusHitler.” (Remember THESE gems? http://www.zombietime.com/zomblog/?p=612 ) Nothing highlights how much you hate the man quite like making his tax cuts permanent.

 

Figure 1 - "My predecessor was an ignorant fool that ruined our economy, which is why you should elect me - AGAIN - and why I'm making his tax cuts permanent" - President Barack Obama

 
But wait, it gets better. You’re getting an average of $50 less in your paycheck ($100/month) so that you can get free birth control. Remember, you had to vote for Obama because those pesky Republicans were waging a war on women. Too bad you’re getting that $10 prescription for free but getting $100 less a month. Good job!

 
Of course most Obama voters were willing to turn a blind eye to their dwindling paycheck in the hopes of soaking the rich and sticking them with higher taxes, which was the theme of the fiscal cliff-deal deal, the 2012 election, the 2008 election... Like many liberal ideas, there are two-fold problems wrapped in this worldview: first is that the principle of hosing the rich doesn’t makes sense, second is that the liberal execution of policy won’t deliver more revenue . I suppose that qualifies as a double fail.

 
Here are some of the errors liberals make in assaulting the rich for their wealth.

 
1.) They earned it. Forbes stated that of their richest 400, 70% were self-made. Liberals were up in arms b/c they stated that this number was closer to 60%. Bottom line: well over half earned their way to the top.(http://finance.yahoo.com/news/many-forbes-400-really-self-204426982.html)

 
2.) What’s wrong with having money? Remember, love of money is the root of all evil; not money as an object.

 
3.) The rich are already paying their “fair share.” The CBO states that the wealthy in this country control half of the money in the United States. They pay for 70% of its taxes. This is even before we discuss the fact that only about half of Americans pay any income taxes at all. (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jul/10/cbo-rich-pay-outsized-share-taxes/) The tax burden on the rich has fallen in recent years: it could continue to fall another 20% and it would still be more than their “fair share.”

Common objections to this are “Who needs that much money?”, and “What about people before profits.” As we already discussed in the previous post, there’s nothing wrong with making profit - that’s all that a corporation lives and breathes for. As for “Who needs that much money?” there’s really only one response: Why do you care?

 
For some reason the left has dubbed itself arbiter of what is fair and what isn’t. The problem, unfortunately, is that they are the ones setting the rules, and the fact that the rich are paying a disproportionate amount of the tax burden to begin with isn’t enough for them. This is because they wouldn’t ever be able to squeeze enough out of the rich.

 
Which brings us to the execution of the policy. Hose-the-rich tactics have never worked, most especially in recent history. France tried to raise taxes on the rich under Francoise Hollande, but it was recently dubbed unconstitutional (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/31/francois-hollande-french-super-tax). The liberal need for grinding the rich is not bound by the Constitution of a sovereign nation. 400 €1 homes went on the market after France elected Hollande (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2214595/More-400-1million-euro-homes-Paris-market-millionaires-flee-Hollandes-socialist-tax-hikes.html). The exodus out of France has been so pronounced that French socialists have called them the “greedy rich.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/9738178/Frances-Jean-Marc-Ayrault-slams-flight-of-the-greedy-rich.html). The point is this: the rich won’t stick around and put up with the taxes. France is a microcosm for this phenomenon, but it has also happened in the UK (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9456722/Wealthy-Brits-look-to-flee-abroad-to-escape-high-taxes-crime-and-rain.html) and even in the United States with the state of Maryland(http://www.cnbc.com/id/48120446/In_Maryland_Higher_Taxes_Chase_Out_Rich_Study). I know liberals love to say “Look! Taxes were so much higher in the 1950s and the wealthy were happier!” Here’s the reality - people vote with their feet. Of course, this Michael Moore style of thinking ignores the fact that taxes were higher to pay off World War II debts, and that because of WWII, there wasn’t anywhere to run. And if you really believe people are “happy” paying high taxes, I have a bridge to sell you. No, really...

 
If liberals here and abroad are hell-bent on taxing the rich, they’re going to find themselves up against the grim reality that if they don’t want to let the rich live as functional members of society, the Cayman Islands will gladly take their emigrated dollars.

 
I know what you’re thinking and what your objections are. Let’s briefly debunk your liberal (and predictable) qualms with not soaking the rich so we can all go out to Applebee’s and be friends again.

 
1.) “No one needs that much money.” -Thanks for your concern. I’ll make as much as I like.

 
2.) “Rich people aren’t patriotic.” -Joe Biden said paying taxes is patriotic. And the rich in the US are paying more taxes than anyone. So if they aren’t patriotic, you certainly aren’t.

 
3.) “It’s really crappy that the rich would move instead of paying taxes.” -What’s wrong with trying to protect their assets? It’s not their fault you voted someone in that hates them for no good reason except their success.

 
4.) “Rich people only care about money.” I’m pretty sure everyone cares about money.

 
People voted Obama back into office in November of 2012 thinking that they were voting against Mitt Romney who was too rich or didn’t understand their needs. The prior four years of economic destruction and tepid recovery didn’t register when they went in the voting booth. As of this writing, the breaking news is that GDP contracted for the end of 2012 by .1% The sad reality is that there will be far fewer rich Americans if the failed economic policies of this administration are enacted for another four years. Buckle up!

 
I can’t say it any more succinctly than Lady Thatcher did: I’ll do my best to paraphrase:

“Liberals are far less concerned with making the poor richer, than they are with making the rich poorer.”

 
                                             Figure 2 Lady Thatcher is unimpressed

Aww hell, I mangled that quote. Watch the original instead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rv5t6rC6yvg  (Socialists haven’t had an original argument in over 30 years!)

 
The US president has put more effort and energy into punishing the successful and the well-off than he has into lifting up the working class. Playing Robin Hood is not a policy, it’s robbery. And it’s not a way to raise the middle-class. It’s a way to subsidize votes.

 
Rapid Roundup

Liberals are all like “Romney lost, you need to get over it.” When I stop seeing HuffPost articles berating the guy, I’ll drop it. Three months later, he remains the left’s whipping boy.

 
Please don’t tell anyone, but Marco Rubio’s meteoric rise in the GOP is encouraging to me for two critical reasons. The first is that he’s brilliant and young, symbolizing a possible conservative renaissance. The second is that if Rubio is the GOP nominee in 2016 (yes, I know it’s early) I can say that liberals that don’t like him are racist. And if those liberals are white, they will have no defense. And I’ll be able to bless liberals with the ability to live  the utter hell of being called a racist for no good reason at all. People think I’m joking about this, but look sharp! If you are a white liberal and Rubio is the nominee, I’m coming for you. And I won’t be joking.

 
Tim Dimas loves to hike, play soccer, and drink bubble tea (how harijuku!). He’s also addicted to Words with Friends, even though he loses about 73% of the time.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

BREAKING - Leaked DOJ "White Paper" Shows Lax Policy on Drones

A leaked "White Paper" document uncovered by NBC has the White House distancing itself from the Department of Justice. The internal memo, according the Wall Street Journal, summarizes the legal justification for using drones to kill al Qaeda operatives, including American citizens.

The memo states:

"The government does not need evidence that a specific attack is imminent, only that the targeted suspect is involved in ongoing plotting against the United States."

As K. McKinnely pointed out in response to the administration's hypocritical stance against waterboarding: "There is such irony in Obama's outrage over 'torture.' Why torture when you can just kill with drones?"

Follow Foxnews or my Facebook page as the story unfolds.

Cordially

Joe

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Slip-Sliding Away

The lovely Mrs. Claire and I are hanging upside down in our car.  This is not a comfortable position - trust me.  After I'm sure we’ve stopped moving, I ask her if she’s ok, which is really the only thing that matters to me.  She assures me that she is, and asks the same of me.  After a few seconds of silence, I state what was probably obvious to her: “Honey, I am so glad you're ok. I think we're probably going to need a new car, though.”   She laughs, and we continue to hang there for a moment, deciding what to do.

Being strapped in by a seat belt in a flipped car kind of feels like being in the junior space camp program, or getting a wedgie from Barney Frank, with the exception that I've never been to space camp.  Orange was always the safe word with Barney.  I released my seat belt first, and partially hit the roof of the car before I had a chance to brace myself.  I say partially, because I was driving, so I was wedged - what should be under, but was then over – the steering wheel.  It was an awkward position, considering that my chin was approximately at dashboard level and the roof was about an inch below my head, not to mention that the windshield was completely smashed, and there were shards of glass everywhere.  It was tetanus shot city - like an Occupy rally.  Claire then unbuckled her belt, and we quickly discovered that the amount of space one would usually have in the front portion of a car had drastically decreased, and it looked like we had been playing a really messed up game of Twister. After nimbly spider-walking exorcist-style into the backseat, she reconfirmed that she was unhurt, and was able to get a better vantage of the situation.  The whole world was upside down, as the defeated British army sang at Yorktown.

We were driving on the highway, hydroplaned, fish-tailed, spun completely out of control, then rolled over a couple of times into the ditch.  The automated Onstar voice would not shut up, and Bob Dylan kept telling us how "the times were a-changin'."  No s#$t, Bob.

There was a piece of glass sticking out of my leg, and a good sized circle of blood pooling around it.  Being a trained health care professional, Claire was extremely concerned, and cautioned me against yanking the glass out.  I thought it just didn't look right and pulled it out anyway, like I do in parks at night - only it's not glass I'm pulling out, and it's other people who get scarred, but that's another story.

It's weird when you're thrust into a situation over which you have no control, like having to watch Obama get inaugurated for a second term.  You just have to wait for the car to stop flipping over and hope today is not the day your number is up.  Nothing felt like it was going in slow motion, as so many accident survivors recount.

The people who stopped their cars to stay with us while we waited for emergency personnel to arrive were all very kind.  All the EMT/fire/police people were fantastic.  Thank you, everyone in Bathurst.  You were all very gracious and kind.  On a side note, everyone seemed to have really cool decorative Kleenex on hand, which Claire used to put pressure on my leg wound while we were waiting (we were unable to get out of the car).

We were on our way to the hospital for an appointment anyway, so it worked out.

All that mattered to me was that Claire was fine.  That piece of glass sticking out of my leg?  It took only one stitch and a small band-aid to patch it up.  The band-aid they used was about the size of what they put on after you get a flu shot.

Later that night, I went to WalMart to get some new clothes, clothes that didn't have my own blood on them.  I found myself just wandering the aisles aimlessly, knowing that the weather and road conditions were terrible, causing 26 accidents that day, most very similar to our own.  Some of the people in those accidents were severely injured; some of them died.

I think some of the people in the store started getting a little freaked out at the sight of a seemingly confused man in ripped jeans with two large, perfectly circular shaped blood stains that looked eerily like an old MasterCard symbol just meandering about.

The accident played over and over in my head: what if, what if, what if?  I thanked God.  I thanked Mom and Dad for looking out for us.  I thanked God for protecting Claire.  I thanked Dr. B for insisting he see me, and for prescribing the sweet-ass drugs he assured me I would need once the stiffness and aches set in, and they sure as hell did.

It was a miracle we survived - really.  We went flying.  The fact that we were both able to walk away - well, they made me take a stretcher, but no big deal - again, nothing short of a miracle.

Survivors of accidents often recount stories of their lives flashing before their eyes.  I can tell you that by simply looking at Claire as our car embarked on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, it's true for me.

Cordially

Joe

Addendum - The car shown above is not our vehicle, but it's eerily similar to the way our car looked after the accident.

Monday, January 07, 2013

TSH Hollywood - My Exclusive Interview with Saving Lincoln Director Salvador Litvak


The following is our exclusive interview with "Saving Lincoln" director Salvador Litvak.  He is a graduate of Harvard College, NYU Law School, and the School of Theater, Film and Television at UCLA. He directed the Passover comedy and cult hit "When Do We Eat?" starring Jack Klugman, which he wrote with his wife, Nina Davidovich Litvak.

Although The Straight Hype fully endorses Mr. Litvak and Saving Lincoln, his participation in this interview is in no way an endorsement of the views and opinions expressed on this blog.



1 - Before we get into the movie, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born in Chile and grew up in NY. I was a lawyer for two years before I went to film school. My writing partner is also my wife, Nina. I blog at AccidentalTalmudist.com and I believe a good conversation is one in which both parties learn something neither knew before.

2 - Over the last few decades, we've seen the story of President Lincoln portrayed at different times in his life, told through the eyes of many different people. Robert Redford's The Conspirator was told though the eyes of Mary Surratt's defense attorney, Frederick Aiken; The Day Lincoln Was Shot was recounted through the eyes of John Wilkes Booth; Stephen Spielberg's latest blockbuster Lincoln draws from historical accounts of those who served under him in his cabinet; even Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter peered through the eyes of Joshua Speed and William Johnson. What drew you to Ward Hill Lamon?

Ward Hill Lamon was President Lincoln's best friend and self-appointed bodyguard. He's the ideal narrator because he was so close to Lincoln - a daily companion. Historians pay him less respect because he was an emotional fellow, often lacking objectivity about Lincoln's actions, but no one questions his loyalty. He would at times grow furious with Lincoln for being so careless with his personal safety, but he remained a faithful friend and protector. He also shared Lincoln's sense of humor, and entertained him with songs and banjo-playing. And he was a Southerner protecting the President while so many of his brethren were doing just the opposite.

3 - Oftentimes, when going into a Lincoln film, if you're not a Lincoln buff, you feel a bit lost. For example, the opening sequence of The Conspirator almost pre-supposed the audience did their homework. Will Saving Lincoln be accessible to audience members who may not have a broader knowledge of Lincoln, his life, and his legacy?

Absolutely. Our movie is primarily about Lincoln the man - what he experienced at the center of America's bloodiest conflict. The pressure on him was unrelenting. Congressmen, generals, newspaper editors...even his own party were all arrayed him against him. They called him feeble, unsophisticated, ineffective, etc. They all underestimated him, but they made his life very difficult throughout his administration. And he lost many people to untimely death - family and friends, as well as the soldiers he cared so deeply about.

4 - This movie has attracted some big names. What drew mega-stars such as Penelope Ann Miller and Creed Bratton to this project?

The subject and the script at first. Then they were intrigued by our CineCollage style. No one made a movie before using this process, and they were curious how we would pull it off. We did extensive tests, and showed them the results. They liked it. And they were fantastic to work with - total pros and team players.

 

5 - Marshal Lamon's legacy seems to be be a mixed one. The blurbs about Saving Lincoln are very pro-Lamon. Was there a concerted effort on your part to preserve Lamon's honor and place in history, or does the movie explore some of the less than flattering pictures some have painted about him?

Lamon was a bit goofy, but that's what Lincoln loved about him. He was also courageous as hell, and he was there for Lincoln during the President's darkest hours. Mary suffered terribly from grief, stress and migraines, and she was not able to comfort Lincoln in the same way that a buddy could. Lincoln could unwind with Lamon. When you imagine the pressure cooker Lincoln occupied 24/7 for four years, you realize how important that role was. And of course, Lamon saved Lincoln's physically by keeping the assassins and kidnappers at bay.

6 - President Lincoln had a fervent desire that the re-unification of the United States be a conciliatory process. Robert E. Lee and other prominent figures of the Confederacy, while mourning the death of the President, accurately predicted that this hope was smashed the day he was shot by Booth. Do you think the harshness endured during reconstruction could have been averted had Lincoln survived the shooting, and how do you think it would have changed the south and how it is perceived today?

That is a complex and loaded question. I'm not a historian, but I know that there were many currents involved in that storm. Lincoln certainly wanted to reunite his people - he never considered the South to be another country. Southerners remained Americans in his eyes and he wanted to leave the bloodshed behind for good. Others felt differently, and would have imposed their views whether he was President or not. I do believe, however, that the South lost its best friend in Washington CIty that day.

7 - This movie is very special in that it was shot on a single stage using green screen technology. Tell us a bit about this method of film-making.

The actors performed in a studio, in front of a giant emerald screen we called the Green Mile. The furniture and props were real, but everything else was composited digitally in post-production, out of actual Civil War era photographs that we downloaded from the Library of Congress. On set, we had rough live comps so we could match camera angles with the pioneering work of photographers like Brady and Gardner, but the fine work was done in post. I sometimes have to pinch myself to believe we pulled this off. For an indie film to rely on visual effects for every single shot of the film is... ambitious. Truthfully it's insane, but now that we pulled it off, we can call it ambitious. It was possible thanks to a tight team of dedicated artists, working both smart and hard over the past year. The look is unique - we decided early on that we weren't trying to fool anyone. The backgrounds remain in black and white, the foregrounds in color, though highly desaturated. It's a stylized look, but an accessible one which invites the viewer to complete the loop.

8 - So what can our readers expect going into Saving Lincoln?

You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you might even sing - the characters do. It's not a musical, but people sang more in those days before TV and radio. Especially Lamon. Most of all, though, you will experience Abraham Lincoln leading the nation to victory in the Civil War at great personal cost. And you will also see how Elizabeth Keckly - another close companion of the Lincolns and a former slave who purchased her own freedom - helped bring freedom to all of her people.

Thank you for taking the time to talk to our readers. We look forward to seeing Saving Lincoln and wish you much success.

Thank you so much - your support for an independent film like ours is truly appreciated. I invite all your readers to visit Saving Lincoln on a Kickstarter, where they can view our trailer, see how the movie was made, hear a song recorded for the film by the legendary Dave Alvin, and become part of the Saving Lincoln story: http://kck.st/RV4QOh

Our readers can follow Saving Lincoln by Salvador Litvak at: