On the passing of George W. Bush, ABC News' Matthew Dowd offered a warning, “[O]ne thing I would like to say is, I think often in the times when we have these deaths, we're way too quick to canonize these people. George Herbert Walker Bush was a great ...
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Adam's Blog"Adam's Blog" - 5 new articles

  1. No, It’s Not Time for a Critical Analysis of GHW Bush
  2. The North Korea Talks: Reason to be Concerned
  3. Trumpers and the Polls
  4. Thoughts on the Show Dogs Controversy
  5. The Tragedy and Comedy of Cobra Kai Episodes 1-4
  6. More Recent Articles

No, It’s Not Time for a Critical Analysis of GHW Bush

On the passing of George W. Bush, ABC News’ Matthew Dowd offered a warning, “[O]ne thing I would like to say is, I think often in the times when we have these deaths, we’re way too quick to canonize these people. George Herbert Walker Bush was a great man. He did great things, but he also had flaws.” As an illustration of Bush’s flaws, Dowd offered as an example that Bush’s campaign for President ran the Willie Horton ad when it actually didn’t. funeral

The warning that Dowd offers is one I’ve heard a lot when famous political figures die. Whether its Richard Nixon or Ted Kennedy, when a controversial political figure dies, critics fear that the funeral week coverage represents a whitewash of the bad or troublesome things they did, that the act of memorializing them will, as Dowd said, canonize them.

Yet, it doesn’t happen. Nixon was given a lovely funeral and respect from opponents. Yet, he’s still remembered for the way his presidency ended. The decency of Republicans at the dead of Ted Kennedy hasn’t wiped away the stain of Chappaquiddick. In fact, I’m aware of no instance in this country where a political funeral has altered public views of the deceased.

There are two reasons to cast aspersions on the recently deceased politicos. First, you could have an intense hatred for the dead politicians and you can’t stand the idea of them being respected and honored and their family not being reminded of how terrible you think their loved one was. Second, it is possible to have such a high regard for your opinion that you can’t possibly imagine withholding it from the world for something as mundane as showing respect for the dead and their survivors. Neither are particularly good looks.

To forbear from criticizing a recently passed politician that we had issues with develops self-control and humility. Listening and mounring can help us to realize that people we disagree with are human beings who love and are loved.

This period doesn’t last forever. In a few weeks, it’ll be perfectly appropriate to discuss Bush’s weaknesses and shortcomings, but right now, it’s far better to save your criticism for another day.


The North Korea Talks: Reason to be Concerned

If you’re on the right, many of your friends, like mine. There are people talking Nobel Prize, even though nothing has actually been accomplished. Jonah Golberg has a good run-down of likely problems, including the fact that there’s every reason to believe the North Koreans aren’t going to follow through on their pledge to denuclearize:



ecause: North Korea has promised to do exactly that — with far more specificity — in the past. The actual paper agreement that Trump and Kim signed is not just worthless on its own, it’s less than worthless given that it literally recycles past worthless promises as if they are new ones. That’s contrary to the opinions of a lot of people on Twitter and TV who think — and feel — that this is Trump’s masterstroke. This isn’t a criticism of Trump. It’s just a simple recognition of reality. The Norks have bamboozled everyone else who extracted promises from them. By all means, let’s hope for the best. But North Korean duplicity is normal.

Allahpundit calls Trump out on agreeing to cancel “very provocative” war games with South Korea though more that he actually used the language of “provocative:

Calling U.S. military exercises with South Korea “very provocative” is a line straight out of the North Korean songbook. American hawks were aghast on social media this morning at the leader of the free world adopting Pyongyang’s rhetoric to describe something the U.S. and South Korea have every legal right to do. Trading a halt to those exercises for a halt to NorK nuke- and missile-testing (a “freeze for freeze”) is defensible, even if NK’s activities are illegal while ours aren’t, but framing them in the terms most favorable to Kim is yet another example of Trump gratuitously flattering the North rhetorically when he didn’t need to.

Speaking of flattering dictatorship, Jay Nordlinger addresses the human rights aspect and examines what’s wrong with Trump’s proclamation that Kim loves his people and they love him by going through the horrors of that regime. Nordlinger concludes:

Bukovsky, the great Soviet dissident, said something like this: “Free World governments should do what they have to do — but as they go about their business, they should occasionally pause to ask, ‘How will it look to the boys in the camps?’”

A lot of Americans care very much about the NFL and the national anthem. But standing up for American values means other things too, such as not perfuming one of the most disgusting and murderous tyrannies ever known to man.

I’m not someone who thinks Donald Trump can’t do anything right. His administration has done quite a few good things. However, to think he would flourish in a 1-on-1 setting with Kim require an industrial sized drink of Trump train kool aid. What is likely to come out of this Trump diplomacy is an agreement that North Koreans won’t follow, and overall Trump has given the North Koreans numerous propoganda victories and is unlikely to get anything out of it.


Trumpers and the Polls

I received an email newsletter complaining that the media isn’t reporting the Democrats’ polling collapse. This came from a pro-Trump source and that caused me to ponder that we’ve been told to ignore the polls by these folks because all the polls are fake news meant to make Trump look bad.  But right now, the polls look bad for the Democrats, so the poll aren’t fake.

Truth is that while there are junk polls, and some with bad sampling, most pollsters try to get an accurate picture of the race. Pollsters have made errors in the 2017 elections and it’s worth noting, that both in the Virginia Gubernatorial race and the Alabama Senate race, the Real Clear Politics average was off 3-5%…in favor of Republicans. So much for conspiracies.


Thoughts on the Show Dogs Controversy

Controversy has erupted over the “family film” Show Dogs  about a police dog that goes undercover at a dog show. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation sent out a warning about the film:

“The movie Show Dogs sends a troubling message that grooms children for sexual abuse,” said Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “It contains multiple scenes where a dog character must have its private parts inspected, in the course of which the dog is uncomfortable and wants to stop but is told to go to a ‘zen place.’ The dog is rewarded with advancing to the final round of the dog show after passing this barrier. Disturbingly, these are similar tactics child abusers use when grooming children—telling them to pretend they are somewhere else, and that they will get a reward for withstanding their discomfort. Children’s movies must be held to a higher standard, and must teach children bodily autonomy, the ability to say ‘no’ and safety, not confusing messages endorsing unwanted genital touching.”

Global Road Entertainment, the film’s producers, defended the film in their initial Facebook post (although they’ve since agreed to edit it):

It has come to our attention that there have been online discussion and concern about a particular scene in Show Dogs, a family comedy that is rated PG. The dog show judging in this film is depicted completely accurately as done at shows around the world; and was performed by professional and highly respected dog show judges. Global Road Entertainment and the filmmakers are saddened and apologize to any parent who feels the scene sends a message other than a comedic moment in the film, with no hidden or ulterior meaning, but respect their right to react to any piece of content.

To borrow an appropriate Southern phrase, “That dog don’t hunt.” As an argument, it’s absurd.  First of all, Show Dogs is a talking dog film. The comedy of talking animals comes from taking an animal and giving it human or humanized reaction to what is happening. This changes the game and makes this far more creepy and of great concern.

I wouldn’t assume that this was intentionally grooming kids (though given the recent scandals involving sexual abuse in Hollywood I wouldn’t rule it out.) It seems likely that someone thought this would be a funny way to push the envelope in a kids film. When it turned out to have a bad meaning, the studio should have made it right immediately. Instead, they tried to defend themselves until some theaters started pulling it and then they announced they would cut two scenes from the film.

I’d also say there’s a somewhat disturbing trend online with many people complaining that the film’s critics are “snowflakes” who can’t understand that a movie’s just a movie. Many add “liberal snowflakes” to emphasize the point. However, one doesn’t have to be a liberal to be concerned about the sexual grooming of kids. We’ve learned there’s a lot of nasty stuff going around over the last couple years. At the same time, our country is dealing with an epidemic of human trafficking and child sexual abuse. This is a real problem.

And it’s also a real problem for too many conservatives to underrate the influence of media, particularly on children. I mean, to get political for a moment, you let your kids spend unlimited amounts of time consuming entertainment created by Viacom and NBC, and wonder why they grow up to be liberals who lack common sense. Entertainment has power that conservatives have ignored to their own detriment.

In the case of child abuse and exploitation, I think a lot of these statements that are lumping this in with overly sensitive “politically correct” reactions to movies and TV shows come from ignorance not malice. However, many of these people have kids and grandkids, so ignorance isn’t acceptable. There are real dangers that your kids face, and it’s not politically correct to learn about those dangers and address them, it’s parentally correct.


The Tragedy and Comedy of Cobra Kai Episodes 1-4

No, I have not binged all of Cobra Kai. I don’t actually binge. Not judging, just not my thing. I prefer serializing and experiencing a story an episode at a time over several days because once it’s gone, it’s gone.

So my thoughts on Episodes 1-4 of the Karate Kid sequel series. It’s better than it probably deserves to be. The idea of picking up the story of the Karate Kid more than thirty years after the movie sounds like a joke for a  creative community that seems to always going back to some old hat rather than producing anything new itself.

The genius of Cobra Kai is that it takes advantage of the fact that we’re already invested in these characters to go ahead and tell a story centered around them.

Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) is past fifty but is really stuck in the 1980s in so many ways. He drives the same car he had in High School (which is still a cool ride,) listens to 1980s music, watches 1980s movies, and has the same social attitudes he had as a teenager in the 1980s. In many ways, Johnny’s aggressive eightiesness is what makes the show funny.

Yet, it also makes Johnny tragic. He’s grown older but he hasn’t really grown up. Essentially, he’s a very old high school senior, with self-destructive behavior that hurts himself and others. He has a son he abandoned from the time he was born. The kid has gone wrong and Johnny wants to step in and set him straight, but it’s too late. Johnny’s kid and his mom have given up on him.


So has his step-father (Ed Asner) who after Johnny’s latest scrape with the law, writes him a check to be done with Johnny. He had spent so many years bailing Johnny out of one scrape after another because of his promise to Johnny’s mother. Yet, when a man reaches his late eighties, he shouldn’t have to spend the last years of his life taking care of a fifty-year-old teenager.

Daniel Larusso is the focal point of Johnny’s anger. He obsesses over the final fight. He was robbed. That last kick was illegal.  Daniel is successful and Johnny isn’t and Johnny’s conclusion was that Daniel LaRusso ruined his life. Of course, this is garbage. At the end of the tournament, Johnny had two All-Valley Championships, plus a Second place finish which is a respectable career. He came from an upper class family and should have been able to succeed, but he didn’t.

There may be reasons for it. The competition in the first Karate Kid ended with Johnny handing Daniel the trophy and informing him he was alright. Because, that would be the sensible thing to do. However, Karate Kid II tells us that his sensei Kreese went nuts and kicked Johnny off the team and told him he was “nothing and a loser.” In anger, Johnny barked back with high school with that Kreese was a loser, and then Kreese would have killed him if Mister Miyagi hadn’t stepped in.

In the original trilogy, this showed how Kreese lost the respect of his students, setting up the ludicrous events of Karate Kid III.  Yet, Cobra Kai challenges us to look at it in a different way. Johnny came from a wealthy family but one without his natural father present. Karate was Johnny’s area of success and Kreese was his mentor and father figure. The moment in the parking lot was devastating and Johnny dealt with it in the most unhealthy ways possible.

So far, Johnny has been pushed by the likable and guileless Miguel, a young man without a father in his life. Johnny has already grown four episodes in. In the first episode, Johnny beat up a group of bullies attacking Miguel (mainly because they touched his car) and when Miguel came and asked him to train him, the ex-Bully advised Miguel to try not to be so annoying. Yet, as the series has gone on, the two have begun to bond and Johnny really is beginning to care for him. In some ways, he sees Miguel as a way to make up for his failed relationship with his own son.

For Daniel, life is good. The kid who had to push his mom’s crappy car to avoid it breaking down owns his own car lot, and it’s a nice place with good service and charges good prices, with happy employees.  He’s got a nice house and a wife and two kids.  It’s an idyllic life.  Daniel is a pretty nice, easy-going guy. When Johnny is hit and major damage is done to his car at the start of the series, Daniel has his body guys fix it at no charge and assures Johnny he doesn’t blame him for what happened.

Yet Daniel is plagued by the past in his own way. He’s insecure, as the hero of three martial arts films might be. The very presence of the Cobra Kai dojo alarms him. When a competitor creates a cheezy ad to challenge Daniel’s own bit of cheese, Daniel goes down to the dealership of his competitor and gives him what for. Daniel has enjoyed decades of prosperity and well-being, but you get the sense that he thinks he’s never more than a step away from being that poor bullied kid from Jersey.

After their heated confrontation at the Cobra Kai dojo, Johnny sees that he can get tDaniel’s skin and that’s confirmed at Daniel’s daughter’s high school dance when Daniel confronts him for putting up Cobra Kai posters during the dance. There’s a brief smile on Johnny’s face every time he gets under Daniel’s skin.

Both men are in risky places and have emotional baggage to deal with. (Thoough I think Daniel’s got a carry on bag and Johnny’s got a full set of luggage at this point.) It’s interesting stuff because we’re gaining insight into who these men have become.


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