Movies of the Diplomad
My faithful Akita Shepherd, Hartza, and my trusty Roku keep me company in the long gloomy hours. Hartza and I end up at 3 am watching all sorts of odd films we normally would not--some garbage, e.g., "Ender's Game" (ugh!), but some very good.
|Hartza, silently debating whether to watch a movie or play with the ball.|
It deals in a cold, somewhat detached, almost docudrama fashion with a fictionalized Somali pirate hijacking of a Danish merchant ship. Yes, sure, of course, it has some errors, and some slow moments, but overall it's a very grim, accurate, and powerful exploration of what happens during prolonged captivity and negotiations, and, most notably, the toll it takes on all involved. The film--Oh, the Horror!--features as the hero a white, male CEO in a suit who drives an expensive luxury car! No! He is portrayed as an honorable, hard-working man committed to saving his company's ship and people from the pirates! This is revolutionary cinema! The film also, perhaps inadvertently, provides a good look at what happens when a ship is taken, and there is no US Navy around: A striking contrast in approach to the issue of hijacking between this film and that of "Captain Phillips." Worth watching.
Those Crazy Auto Workers!
I normally don't write about labor union activities (OK, sometimes), but was struck by the blatant bias in press reporting on recent efforts by the UAW (United Auto Workers) to unionize a car plant in Tennessee. I refer to the vote last Friday by the roughly 1550 hourly workers at the VW factory in Chattanooga. I won't link to all the stories as they are easy to find. I was particularly struck by the reporting done by CNN. That once interesting "inventor" of the 24 hour news cycle and developer of some of the now standard techniques and technologies used by cable news channels has become a dull, dopey, predictable, MSNBC "Mini Me." Instead of trying to stake out a more-or-less centrist, objective reporting stance, it has biased, poorly written, and badly researched articles more worthy of the execrable MSNBC, or the hopeless "The Guardian." Its reporting on the VW plant vote was, yes, of that low of a quality.
The pro-union hype throughout was so blatant it was almost comical. Media outlets, especially CNN, were full of warnings about the tactics of Republicans who frantically sought to stop the unionization of the Chattanooga plant. The Republicans, it was alleged, wanted to block the UAW's effort despite support for it by VW and by the giant German metal workers union, IG (Industriegewerkschaft Metall.) The IG gave advice to the UAW on how to unionize the plant, and set up Workers' Councils; VW provided the UAW the venue for union organizing. It seems that for the press pro-union activity by outsiders, even foreigners, is OK, but not the expressing of concerns about the UAW by people in Tennessee.
VW is an odd company, at least when seen with American eyes. Its ownership is split primarily among Porsche, the government of Lower Saxony, and a Qatar sovereign fund. Since its founding in the 1930s by two Austrians, Hitler and Porsche, it has enjoyed the protection of the German government in many ways, including prohibitions on foreign take-overs and limitations on voting rights by stockholders. It is a prime example of a hybrid government-private company--GM take note. On a personal note, I never cared for VWs; I briefly drove a Beetle in my college days--I remember that it had no working first gear for some reason, and had to start moving in second. Today's VWs I find, well, just plain boring. They seem the automotive equivalent of gluten-free, no preservative, no dye, no-cholesterol, low-fat, sugar-free vanilla pudding--might be good for you, but the heart does not race for a helping. Clearly millions of persons don't agree; VW is a very valuable and successful company that makes and sells cars around the globe, and, apparently, is a good employer. So, not for the first time, I am in a minority in my views.
The unionization of the Chattanooga plant was to be the watershed, the bursting of the pent-up reservoir of demand for unionization, the unleashing of a relentless UAW drive, the (insert your tired cliche here) to unionize the large numbers of non-union car plants that have sprung up mostly in the South where they have fled Detroit and the terrors of Blue Rule. VW apparently was advised by its lawyers--and/or, perhaps, threatened by the NLRB in the US and the IG in Germany? Hmm?--that it could not set up Workers' Councils unless a legally recognized union represented the workers, otherwise and supposedly, the company would run afoul of the Wagner Act of 1935, and find itself charged with running a "white union," i.e., a company or sham union. I am no labor lawyer, and don't play one on TV, but friends who know this legal stuff better than I, say this is not at all settled, and that depending how structured, a Workers' Council would not be necessarily tantamount to a "white union." All that aside, this was the line peddled by the Democrats, the IG, the UAW, the NLRB, and, quietly, by VW. It is obvious why those organizations wanted the UAW to win the vote: the Democrats need labor union support in the South; the IG is afraid German car makers find it a little too convenient to move production offshore, especially out of Germany and the EU and to the US; the struggling UAW needs the money; the NLRB, along with the IRS, EPA, and DOJ, is a major electoral arm of the Obama administration, and charged with punishing firms that do not please the administration, e.g. the stunt with Boeing's South Carolina plant; and VW just wants whatever is easiest and less disruptive.
Well, of course, those silly American workers do not know where their interests lie, so they rejected the UAW. For some reason, some unfathomable reason, American factory workers seem, just seem, mind you, not to trust the UAW too, too much--hard to understand given the UAW's stellar record in promoting job growth and prosperity in paradises such as Detroit. So again we see how the rednecks let the GOP, the Tea Party, the NRA, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Fox News, the Koch brothers, etc., scare them off from the loving embrace of the UAW. Inexplicable.
The EU: Saving the Internet from the Americans
Seems that Merkel and Hollande want to find some way for the EU to fend off America's dominance in the internet. They want to protect Europe's data from the prying Americans. OK, OK, seems we have an intramural spat among believers in government solutions. The world's big socialists, Merkel, Hollande, and Obama are having a row. The Europeans are unhappy because their American counterpart has at his service an apparatus that is much better at spying on Europeans (and on Americans) than do they. Let's not get into all the nuts and bolts of the issue but look at what this story reveals about the EU. Its leaders are looking for some sort of big government solution to a problem created by big government. I am sure next steps will include creation of some private-public panel that will draft some EUish report--the NSA will get it before Merkel and Hollande do--that will recommend some multi-billion Euro program, excuse me, "programme," to do something very bureaucratic and elaborate to promote a European based internet. Yawn . . . wake me up when you got something.
Is it only me, or does it seem that every day some new brave celebrity comes out with a tearful "confession of being gay and proud? Come on guys and gals and others. Face it. Proclaiming gayness in Hollywood today takes about as much courage as a North Korean proclaiming his love for the Dear Leader. Enough already. Who cares? Besides, what exactly is there is to be proud about when it comes to sexual orientation? I don't want to know about it. You're boring me, you're boring me.
A disturbing development out of Belgium. The Belgian legislature has voted through a law that will allow the "practice" of euthanasia on children regardless of age. The BBC tells us that,
When, as expected, the bill is signed by the king, Belgium will become the first country in the world to remove any age limit on the practice.
It may be requested by terminally ill children who are in great pain and also have parental consent.
Opponents argue children cannot make such a difficult decision.
It is 12 years since Belgium legalised euthanasia for adults.
In the Netherlands, Belgium's northern neighbour, euthanasia is legal for children over the age of 12, if there is parental consent.There are so many troubling aspects to this that I cannot begin to list them. One, of course, is giving this sort of power to some panel of professionals and bureaucrats. The whole thing is too repulsive to write about. We now have a Europe which allows abortion on demand, is OK with euthanizing children, but opposed on high moral grounds to the death penalty for mass murderers.
Disgusting example of the decay of western civilization.
How many "undocumented workers" are actually workers? I suspect that a significant proportion of illegal aliens in the country are not workers, at all. They are probably in their majority children, single mothers, and sick and old folks living on the dole. They aren't only taking your jobs, they're also taking your money.
Wonder if you could even get stats on this? Probably not. Very, nay, way too non-PC.