Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

January 30, 2009

Obama Nails It: The Prima Facie Immorality of Great Wealth

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 7:47 am

It’s his “malefactors of great wealth speech,” it’s what presidential moral leadership is and should be. It’s Obama denouncing as “shameful” the greedhead mentality that has broken the lives of people who believed in the work ethic and the American dream so the plutocrats could wallow in obscene wealth.(Let’s hear it for old-fashioned populist contempt. And yes the plutocrats have fed off the largesse of both parties.)

No we shouldn’t socialize or nationalize, but when your shamelessness brings misery to others — and your behavior provides the main argument against capitalism — it’s great to have a president who will speak for all of us and call you out with the contempt you so richly — so to speak — deserve:

“President Barack Obama issued a withering critique Thursday of Wall Street corporate behavior, calling it ‘the height of irresponsibility’ for Wall Street employees to be paid more than $18 billion in bonuses last year while their financial sector was crumbling.

“‘It is shameful,’ Obama said from the Oval Office. ‘And part of what we’re going to need is for the folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint, and show some discipline, and show some sense of responsibility.'”

Go ahead and wallow, Wall Street creeps, that’s capitalism and I’m with Churchill in saying “it’s the worst system in the world–except for all the others.” There’s no law against it and I’m not advocating confiscatory socialism. But don’t expect us to applaud your billion dollar bonuses and your swinelike consumption when people all over the world — a billion live on less than a dollar a day — are starving and dying. And close to home people are losing their jobs, homes, and health insurance while you manipulate the financial system for your selfish enrichment and its ultimate self-destruction. No, there’s no law against it, but there is moral contempt. No we shouldn’t socialize or nationalize, but when your shamelessness brings misery to others and you display no evident self awareness of your destructive behavior, it’s great to have a president who will speak for all of us and call you out with the contempt you so richly — so to speak — deserve.


January 25, 2009

My Caroline Kennedy Theory: The Crowd at Sylvia's Got It Right

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 6:54 am

It’s worth reading Larissa MacFarquhar’s long thoughtful piece in The New Yorker about Caroline Kennedy and her Senatorial bid. It offers a complex portrait that doesn’t try to advance a single theory, but gives you a sense of the complexity of the person and the process and the mystery behind it.

And a clue to that mystery. While I had been inclined, as the author of The Shakespeare Wars to think of Coriolanus Shakespeare’s late play about an aristocrat who could not bear the humiliation of public exposure that striving for public office he thought he deserved required, I now think there was a moment Ms. MacFarquahar captures that may tell us the real story, a story even Ms. Kennedy may not be fully aware of.

The mystery is why Ms. Kennedy seemed to sabotage her bid so relentlessly, turning every advantage she had into a disadvantage, as if some submerged part of her was trying to subvert the part of her that wanted to do it, become a public servant, a senator like her father, JFK.

Ms. MacFarquhar’s sharp-eyed report of Al Sharpton’s remarks about the reaction of the crowd at Sylvia’s, landmark Harlem restaurant that political aspirants make ritual visits to is, is I think enormously relevant:

“Moreover, by endorsing Obama,” Ms. MacFarquahar writes, “at a time when it was not at all clear that he would win the primary, and from Hillary Clinton’s home state, Caroline Kennedy had won the allegiance of a younger constituency on her own behalf.” “This generation salutes her and Ted for what they did for Obama,” Al Sharpton said in early January. “I’ll give you an example. When she got out of the car in front of Sylvia’s, people in the streets were screaming ‘Caroline!’ ‘Caroline!’ ‘Senator!’ I was amazed. Young people. And when we walked in, the people in the restaurant stood up and started clapping. And let me tell you why I thought that was interesting: they didn’t react that way to Obama when I brought him there. When I brought Obama there, people were shaking his hand, but they weren’t standing up and applauding. I was like, Wow, what is this? I talked to them, and people said, ‘No, man, she risked a lot for us.’ And, see, when you did something for people that nobody does something for, and you didn’t have to do it, it hits an emotional thing with us.”

“Wow what is this?” Well I think it’s obvious what it was, it was the love, misplaced or not that JFK and Bobby Kennedy won for their civil rights efforts (I know, I know, Bobby tapped Martin Luther King’s phone and acceded to J.Edgar Hoover’s malign harassment of him; tell it to the crowd at Sylvia’s).

January 23, 2009

Yahoo,Yahoo: Is this happening to anyone else?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 8:09 pm

For the past 3 days I don’t get e mails sent to me on my yahoo account for 12-16 hours after they’re sent. And ones I send don’t seem to arrive for the same delay interval. Up til now I’ve always had a good exerience with them (except when I’ve tried to contact them to ask about changes in their draft function, memory etc)..

So is it just me or is anyone else having this delay problem? Could it be related to corporate turmoil?

January 22, 2009

Roger L. Simon's Book and My Hollywood Anecdote

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 12:35 pm

There ought to be a special genre, an encyclopedia of the Hollywood anecdote. I’m especially fond of the subgenre that involves Hollywood and “art”. There’s a plentitude of new ones of that sort in Roger L. Simon (PJM founder’s) new book Blacklisting Myself.

A number of delicious episodes involve characters I’ve run into in non Hollywood contexts such as Abbie Hoffman and Timothy Leary, although I did once commit a Vanity Fair profile of Leary during his late period when he’d become something of a Hollywood pet and favorite of the town’s true gurus, the maitre’d’s of the hotspot restaurants and clubs.

But if you love Hollywood anecdotes you’ll savor Roger’s encounter with Barbra Streisand and her psychotherapist guru. (Everyone in Hollywood has a guru; for a cut-throat cynical class of people I’ve never met more naive suckers for phony shamans).

And in any case it gives me an excuse to tell my favorite anecdote about Hollywood and art: when I was going aound to see studio people about developing another VF story, this one about a Detroit homicide detective, which had been optioned by Tim Hutton. It has to do with the typical Hollywood studio exec’s pretension to know about art, as in visual arts, collecting thereof being a big token of one’s esthetic cutting edgeness.

This one guy in a corner office and expensively worn jeans was engaged in descibing some of his recent art purchases with the air of a knowingness and then stopped himself in mid-lecture, realizing how ridiculous he sounded.

“Ah yes, art!” he said ruefully, “It’s what we do, now that they tell us we can’t do drugs and fuck strange women any more.”

I love L.A.

January 21, 2009

"Bitter Political Crankery": Yes!

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 3:02 pm

Thanks to my friend Charlie Finch for sending me this link from The Weekly Standardwith the memorable phrase from Jonah Goldberg:

“bitter political crankery”.”

I think that phrase just about sums up the small-minded, barely disgusied bigotry of some of the commenters here. Just happens it’s directed agasint a black President? Just hapens that they can’t bear to find any relevance of the history of U.S. racism?

Bitter political crankery: it’s too bad there are so many non-bitter, non-bigoted conservatives who have to suffer from being associated with these types.

F. Scott Fitzgerald Said…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 10:33 am

… and I’m quoting from memory, “The sign of a first rate mind is tht it can hold two conflicting ideas in it at the same time without denying either.”

So: yes America is a great country and resonsible for many great things for many people and nations around the world.

And: yes there are shameful parts of America’s past that all honest and virtuous Americans deserving of the name, who have benefitted from its greatness (and especially those who boast ceaselessly about it) should be ahsamed of, and recognize that while officially over, have had long lasting impacts. Like official slavery and unofficial racism. It doesn’t mean you have to support all or any black candidates, but to deny those of us who support Obama the right to feel some satisfaction and some sense that this is a moment of redemption is something shabby and narrow minded.

i believe in both these propositions. If you don’t, I don’t think you have a first rate mind.

And by the way, to the commenter who says he suffered at the hands of a liberal lynch mob of anonyous commenters: all the more reason to oppose anonymity, I symathize with you and detest those anonymous cowards, but if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen.

I can beleive in both these roositions. If you can’t i don’t

And tothe commenter who exlained his anonyity by his experience with liberal lynch ob in the ast, shame on them,

The Cowardice of Anonymity

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 8:08 am

I love people who hurl anonymous insults–what are you afraid of? why not use your names? don’t you realize you look like cowards when you’re afraid to stand behind your words?–and then are shocked when when their arguments are held up to the ridicule they deserve by someone who actually puts his name behind his words. Come on cowards, come into the open, this is America, the country you’re supposedly so proud of. If you have to hide your name you must be ashamed of yourselves.

Yes, I love these people: any criticism of their point of view, of their lack of learning is called “personal insults”. These are the kind of people who are evidently used to spouting off to their poor spouses or co-workers, boring their ears off without anyone taking them seriously. Then when someone examines their self satisfied illogic and holds it up for the world to see they wail about “personal insults.” There’s a word for this in addition to “cowards”: crybabies.

It’s also interesting that they apparently read only books that allow them to be comfortable with their lack of concience on race. Try reading James Baldwin (you’ve heard of him right?) or Taylor Branch’s biography of Martin Luther King Jr..

But don’t worry, stay happy and ignorant in your refusal to take responsibility for your nation’s history (and in your cowardly refusal to take responsibility for your own words). America has never, ever done anything wrong that should concern you. I love this country but I don’t love it in ignorance and shamelessness.

January 20, 2009

Why Is It So Difficult For Some People to Accept Responsibility for Crimes They Profit From?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 7:12 pm

Ordinairly I wouldn’t waste so much time with morally obtuse types whose smug self-congratualtory sense of superioirity usually disguises something uglier–otherise why so defensive. But since yesterday was King Day and today a unique Inaugural I just refuse to allow their sleazy reasoning to go unanswered.

Viz. This commenter:

“Enabling  a victimhood mentality is immoral, no matter how fashionable it might be. If you feel  some sense of guilt,  it was indoctrinated into you.  Those responsible for slavery should be held accountable.  But to attempt to make those who have absolutely no part in it feel guilty is perverse – and just plain wrong.”

I love the self-righteousness of having “absolutely no part in it.” America is a wealthy country part of whose wealth and strength–that you benefit from even now–was built up on the backs of horrendously immoral slave labor. If you came here (as my grandarents did) after slavery was ended, it doesn’t mean you didn’t enjoy the privileges that were so sickeningly conferred on you by the shabby theft of people’s labor and souls before you arrived. This has nothing to do with “victim mentality”. It has a lot to do with morally numb mentality (yours).

Your desire to claim “absolute” purity for yourself is deluded and shows evidence of an utter lack of moral sensitivity. I’m glad for your sake this simple mindedness allows you to live in selfish, untroubled comfort. Good for you! You don’t have to care about anything that happened in this coutnry you batten on before the great moment of your arrival. You don’t have to be concerned about its history. I’m sure you’d be happy and unconcerned living prosperously in Germany or Japan. I ‘m in awe of your obtuse absence of conscience. Life must be easier for you. Others are troubled by the complexity of our history, but not you, you couldn’t be more simplemindedly self satisfied. Congrtulations on your lack of annoying scruples and your flat-lined sense of history. Yours must be a vey comfortable (if intellectually imoverished) existence.

January 19, 2009

How is Our America Unrepentant About Slavery?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 5:27 pm

That’s the question this commmenter asks.

First he quotes my last post:

“With our shameful, still-unrepented-for history of slavery and segregation we didn’t deseve them, but they offered us a chance for at least partial redemption, and to our credit we took it.”

Then he offers:

How is America unprepentant about slavery?  This is the kind of divisive rhetoric one would expect from race hustlers like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton  and Spike Lee.  In 233 years, this country, warts and all, has become a shining example for the rest of the world when it comes to tolerance.  I’ve been to the Middle East where slavery still exists, both indentured servitude and actual slavery where the Arabs OWN black people.  And then there is Europe which is now reprising those heady days of pogroms and Jew-baiting of the 1930’s.

Martin Luther King said that we should judge a man not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character. Sadly, Obama is the perfect example of just the opposite– and is exactly what a gullible and white-guilt ridden electorate has done.  Bravo.”

To which I’d say:

Okay since you evince little more than a grade school education: Slavery was not abolished completely until 1865, some 145 years ago. So a good part of the 233 years you celebrate uncritically, the law and the much-worshipped Constitution were devoted to upholding a system of wretched and murderous human bondage, that any human being with any fellow-feeling should feel deeply ashamed of and repentant about regardless of whether it still obtains legally now, but which you seem to regard as just a “wart”. Our great wealth that our “shining example” was built upon was built upon the backs of slave labor. You’re proud of that? Then I feel sorry for you.

And then for more than 100 years after official slavery was abolished, official state-enforced racism under the name of segregation and Jim Crow laws insured vicious mistreatment of all those who survived slavery and their descendants. Unrepentant about that? Shame on you. And then while segregation has been abolished legally, and racism diminished over time, as bigots die off, people who cared about civil rights and the feelings of others still have had to listen to the smug self-congratulatory words of the ignorant. On a day like this you should be ashamed of yourself, but you’re probably too busy patting yourself on the back for your world travels which have clearly brought you no wisdom or tolerance.

King and Obama: America is Just Plain Lucky

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 5:34 am

Think of an America in which Louis Farrakhan became the leader of the black liberation movement, or even Stokely Carmichael (remember him?). It could have happened. Think of what we leaned from the moral beauty of King’s non-violent resistance. And how the cowardly thugs who tried to use violence and abuse against it were spurned by the good people of white America (and later became cowardly anonymous blog commenters).

Think of an America that didn’t produce a candidate as brilliant, thoughtful and strong and sharp as Barack Obama. With our shameful, still-unrepented-for history of slavery and segregation we didn’t deseve them, but they offeed us a chance for at least partial redemption, and to our credit we took it.

But it didn’t have to happen that way. You can call it luck or you can call it grace. But it’s something worth celebrating.

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