Sunday, December 3, 2017

Pitt KO’s Weinstein/ A Rotting Democracy/ Trump Always Wins…

Harvey Gets It Caught in the Wringer --They were so certain of it: no matter how outrageous and criminal their behavior was regarding their treatment of women, the grandees of Hollywood – studio heads, directors, producers, really virtually anyone in the movie business who controlled the careers of women – were confident they had not a thing to worry about: as the big bosses, they could inflict any kind of sexual depredation upon their subjects, who wouldn’t dare say a word about it because ‘no one would believe them.’ The moguls were too rich, too famous, too powerful, too connected to ever be accused by some low-on-the-totem-pole starlet. They were untouchable.

Well, thank God, that’s over. Aggrieved women are coming out of the woodwork with their accounts of sexual misconduct. We have Harvey Weinstein to thank for that. He, and many others as well, after decades of untrammeled, incomprehensible criminal behavior, are finished [for the foreseeable future]. If criminal charges are not forthcoming, and they may not be, Mr. Weinstein is essentially ruined anyway – fired from his own studio, a wife and two young kids leaving him, unemployable, essentially a pariah among his peers, who will be essentially broke, once all the lawsuits and lawyer fees tumble forward.

Mr. Gripes, who in the best of times, is not the most empathetic character, asserts, “Too bad, Harvey. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. You’re a crude and egotistical pig. You deserve everything that’s happening to you.’

With all the tumult spewing forth these days, Mr. Gripes is puzzled by a few aspects of this scandal: why, for one, were there so little venom and outrage directed at Weinstein and the other predators by the victims’ boyfriends, husbands or significant males in their lives? In fact, it appears that there was virtually blanket silence and inaction on the part of these men. For a week, maybe, after Weinstein’s behavior was exposed, everyone in fact seemed to toe a party line: ‘I didn’t know a thing about this kind of behavior in Hollywood.’ Even the friends of the victims asserted this. 

Then suddenly everything shifted: it turned out, evidently, everyone knew of the Weinstein crimes, as well as a thousand others, and they’ve known for a long time. Ignorance was no longer thrown out there as a defense. A lot of people just kept their mouths shut.

So, I ask again: where were the men who lived with these women, who had serious relationships with them? Why, for decades, did we hear absolutely nothing from them? 

It turns out there is one gallant knight, perhaps, in this, although he basically didn’t do what was really called for either. Gwyneth Paltrow in a meeting was accosted in an ‘uncomfortable’ manner by Weinstein, escaped, went home, and told her boyfriend Brad Pitt about the incident.  Mr. Pitt subsequently accosted Weinstein at a gathering, and told him, I’m guessing, to ‘knock it off’. And that was the extent of it. Nothing more from any other male in Hollywood. Ms. Paltrow in fact continued to work with Weinstein afterwards. Is it all about careers, and no courage, out there?

What kind of man would ever allow a monster like Weinstein to put his hands on a woman, let alone someone whom you care about? Mr. Gripes shakes his head; I just don’t get it.

I’ll end this piece with a Gripes fantasy of an alternate ‘take’ on the Weinstein-Brad Pitt confrontation: Brad Pitt goes up to Weinstein at the party, after the incident, and yells, ‘Who do you think you are, you fat creep! Gynneth came home very scared after meeting with you the other day. You think you can just go up to any woman and put your slimy hands on her?’ 

At that point, in my fantasy, Mr. Pitt unloads his best impersonation of a Sonny Liston right cross-left hook combination, landing thunderous punches into the far-more-than-ample gut and solar plexus of Weinstein. Weinstein collapses on the floor, gasping, pleading with Brad to stop. ‘You’re despicable, Harvey, and if I hear of any other women whom you mess around with, and whom you hurt in any way, I will find you and beat you to a pulp. I promise you.’

Deeply enmeshed in his fantasy now, Mr. Gripes can almost hear the late announcer Howard Cosell intoning, ‘Down goes Weinstein! Down goes Weinstein! 1…2…3…4… The count is going to hit 10, and the bastard is out cold.’

An American Democracy? No More….As an innocent, patriotic kid growing up in the United States, Mr. Gripes just assumed – felt in his gut actually – that American governance had no peer in the world : a robust, prosperous, confident, indomitable democracy, a free people, an example for all nations. I thought it would go on forever. All of us growing up in the 1950’s believed that 1,000%.

And now look: in 2017, our government is 100% dysfunctional. That’s the sad truth.

No longer are elections ‘free’ and ‘open’. Not by a long shot. Instead of welcoming challengers, and looking forward to a fair fight, incumbents have ‘locked up’ the system, by either raising so much money that newcomers don’t have the stomach or the cash to even enter legislative contests, or incumbents are protected by the egregious, pernicious gerrymandering that gives every electoral advantage to those already in power.

Perfect example of ‘no-contest’: Governor Andrew Cuomo, who runs again, next year in New York, has already raised $25 million [!] for that campaign even though, at this point, he has no viable opponent to run against.  No one else will be able to raise money of that scale. That kind of money is overkill to the max; if the governor had only $15 in his re-election coffers, he’d still win. This is what incumbents do: raise so much money early, to scare off challengers.  And this is democracy? Give me a break. Incumbents are petrified of even token opposition. They’re cowards. And they’re re-elected 90% of the time, over and over again. [The lethargic, uninformed voting public is at fault too; as the cartoon character Pogo says, ‘I have met the enemy, and it is us.’]

It’s taken Mr. Gripes a long, long time to acknowledge a political epiphany – Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, from the South or the West or the East, politicians  do not believe in an equitable system; if they can – and they work ‘the angles’ very efficiently – eliminate the opposition in any quasi-legal way, they’ll do it. The sitting politicians mouth beautiful words about the strength of our democratic system, but work to eviscerate it at every turn. These gutless wonders are frightened to death of real democracy, real competition. American democracy is rotting at its core.

Trump, Trump, Trump? Well, He Wins, Wins, Wins…A couple of days ago, it was all about Senate candidate Roy Moore 24 hours of the day…then it was 24/7 on Pocahontas…tomorrow, maybe Jared Kushner, or Ivanka, or the fake drama of the tax bill. And it just goes on and on. For cable news, and to a lesser extent, network news, the beat-down on Trump never relents.  Mika Brzezinski, sighing and grimacing all the way to the bank, fretting about Donald the Gremlin; the monotonic Rachel Meadow smirking for a full hour [a couple of words of advice to Ms. Meadow:  just chill out and relax for a couple of minutes, and let your fans exhale, OK?]; CNN shuffling its countless panels of commentators on and off camera, whirling them back and forth, as if they were the teacups at the Disneyland ride, or Chris Cuomo dramatizing every tiny news item to death [His hurricane coverage was priceless]. Mr. Gripes watches less and less of the farce that is present-day American broadcast news. It’s simply insufferable.

And guess what? I don’t miss it one bit. Balanced coverage just doesn’t exist anymore. These days it’s a pitched battle between two sides which never agree on anything, and television ends up serving up biased pabulum to myopic viewers who already have made up their minds, and do not listen to any arguments to the contrary.

Television, in its usual cowardly fashion, has fundamentally given up trying to bridge the chasm between the two factions; Mr. Gripes thinks television news has probably always hyped the drama inherent in news events, but now, the hype has a bias attached to it to retain loyalty among viewers.

What is driving the anti-Trump brigades [of which there are millions and millions] especially crazy is that despite the constant Trump bashing, as well-deserved as it is most of the time, Trump is winning virtually all the fights. Congressional seats? The Republicans have netted four additional seats since January 20 over the Democrats; Obama’s health plan is being eviscerated bit by bit, and will disappear in a couple of years; a tax bill which will add $1.5 trillion to our debt, is a foregone winner now, and Trump’s support in electoral districts he won in 2016 has not diminished at all [it turns out the lower Trump poll numbers simply reflect higher Democratic support in urban blue states, the vast majority of which are solidly Democratic to begin with.] It looks like Trump will begin his next Presidential run with his supporters firmly in his back pocket.

What’s ahead? The Big One…Mr. Gripes is 100% certain Donald Trump is hiding something very damaging to him vis-à-vis his relationship with Vladimir Putin and Russia. How do I know? I see with my own eyes: Trump’s actions and words are the giveaway: in dealing with everyone else, Trump is a bully, a sadist, a blowhard, a liar [Wow, what a liar], a bombast, an ignoramus, an egotist, and very likely a crook. With Putin, though, Donald Trump acts like the contented, fat house cat, purring away on his master Vladimir’s lap. Trump is guilty of something very, very serious. I have a feeling the answer lies in those undisclosed tax returns of his, which will be revealed someday. When that occurs, Trump could very well finally meet his Waterloo.

Jim Israel
Mr. Gripes
November 29, 2017

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