Hollywood Part Two: The Remake


The movie remake is a time-honoured Hollywood tradition, making Hollywood the only place on earth where people get paid to plagiarise. Like the biopic, the remake is a hit and miss genre of film. Movies get made from plays, books, comic books, video games and even other movies (remember Gus Van Sant’s shot for shot remake of Psycho?) . It seems the screen writer can steal ideas from anywhere as long as the studio pays enough for the rights to the story and characters. It’s not enough to remake an idea once, either. Just look at Shakespeare, who, along with Dickens, is one of the most stolen from writers on the planet. The story of Romeo and Juliet has been told 13 times since 1900 is various movies, and that’s not including movies that don’t use the title Romeo and Juliet, but still “borrow” the storyline.

One of the latest incarnations of the Romeo and Juliet story

I mentioned Dickens as well because A Christmas Carol has been filmed 14 times (again, not including the times that it has been told under a different name) starring a wide variety of Scrooges from Jim Carrey and Bill Murray to George C. Scott and even Susan Lucci.

Susan Lucci as a female Scrooge

It’s not just classics that are remade either. Lately Hollywood has been dipping into the 1980′s to remake movies that can still be seen on cable, like Fame, Footloose and Red Dawn in an attempt to lure the nostalgic movie-goer back into the theaters. Nevermind that most people of my generation (okay… younger than me by 5 to 10 years) are too busy with work and kids to bother going to a theater to see a movie and would prefer to send their kids off to one so they can have some quiet time at home.

The “new” Footloose

I am not a fan of the movie remake in general, but as it is a practice that has been going on forever and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon, I would like to offer up a movie that is ripe for a remake. Building on the success of movies that star people from my parents generation (and older) like Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Dame Judi Dench and Robert DeNiro because Baby Boomers are going to the movies in droves, I say why not do a remake of Arsenic and Old Lace?

Carey Grant in Arsenic and Old Lace

Originally a hit Broadway play, this movie has only been remade once in 1969 as an ABC movie of the week, so it has not been done to death. I have even taken the liberty of putting together a fantasy cast for the project. Below is the original cast of the main characters for the Frank Capra 1944 version.

Now here is my fantasy cast.

  • Hugh Grant as Mortimer Brewster
  • Gwynneth Paltrow as Elaine Harper Brewster
  • Maggie Smith or Betty White as Aunt Abby Brewster
  • Judi Dench  or Cloris Leachman as Aunt Martha Brewster
  • Robert Englund as Jonathan Brewster ( the he looks like Boris Karloff joke could be updated to say he looks like Freddy Krueger)
  • Danny DeVito as Dr. Herman Einstein
  • The obvious choice here would be Robin Williams as he has already played Teddy Roosevelt in the Night at the Museum movies, but I would like to offer up Anthony Hopkins as an alternative casting choice (he doesn’t do much comedy, but I think this is an untapped talent that he possesses) as “Teddy Roosevelt” Brewster

If Hollywood MUST churn out remake after remake, I say maybe movie-goers should help them along with some creative suggestions of our own.

What would be a movie you would like to see remade and who would star?

Hollywood Part One: The Biopic


I have long been a fan of biographies of famous and infamous people. I read biographical and autobiographical books, love to watch the biography channel and usually enjoy watching biographical movies.The Hollywood biopic is a hit and miss genre. When it’s done well, there’s nothing better, when it’s done poorly there’s nothing worse. While casting is important in all film genres, it is perhaps most important in the case of the biopic. The actor or actress must, not only look quite similar to the original subject, but they must walk alike, talk alike and have their mannerisms down to the smallest detail, so that even the most discerning of fans can be transported for the length of the film into that person’s life. It’s a genre that can make or break an actor’s career. This past weekend I watched two movie biographies, one that was critically lauded and one that was critically panned. In my opinion, they had more similarities than differences. Let’s start with the, made for Lifetime TV movie, Liz and Dick.

Lindsay Lohan and Elizabeth Taylor

I went into this movie expecting it to be a glorious train wreck and I was somewhat disappointed. Oh, it was an awful movie, don’t get me wrong, but I was expecting it to be bad in a much more campy and funny way. While this movie failed on many levels there were things in it that should be praised, like the hair, make up and costumes, the sets, the classic cars. The whole look of the movie was very well done. Theresa Russell, (an actress who, in my opinion never got her due) as Taylor’s mother gave a solid performance. Grant Bowler (of Ugly Betty fame) was fairly good as Richard Burton, although he could have worked a bit harder on the Welsh accent as his natural New Zealand accent won out more often than not. The entire supporting cast really did their best to rise above a terrible script and a truly horrid performance by the lead actress. The script sounded as if it were written by a 10-year-old with lines like “I don’t loathe you, I hate you!”. Now I am not against the telling of the unvarnished truth, warts and all, but this seemed to have been written for the express purpose of sullying the memory of Taylor and Burton. It was all warts… no all. Speaking of the lead actress, Lindsay Lohan didn’t even seem to be trying to portray Elizabeth Taylor as much as she seemed to be trying to connect some of the events in Taylor’s life to her own. Elizabeth Taylor had a high-pitched, almost childlike, feminine voice, Lohan sounded like a ninety year old Jewish woman sending back soup in a deli. To be fair, that is Lindsay’s natural voice, but when you are portraying someone else, you MUST, at least try to, sound like them… especially when you are using the part as a comeback vehicle. Lohan was too skinny, too freckled and too immature for the part. I suspect that the only reason her name was brought up for the role was that she had previously done a pictorial for Interview Magazine where she was done up as Taylor. There is a vast difference between posing like an icon while in the right styling, make up and lighting for a still camera and actually portraying that person for a motion picture camera and Lindsay does not look enough like Elizabeth Taylor to suspend the viewer’s disbelief. I understand that Lifetime is a small budget network known for schlocky movies of the week, and casting Lohan in this role was, in itself, quite the marketing stroke of genius. They knew there would be millions of people (like myself) tuning in just to see her fail and that was something they could sell to advertisers. After all, there’s nothing the public likes better than to see an actress who is already on the decline, make a fool of herself. To Lohan’s credit there was actually one believable moment in the movie. There is a part where Richard Burton is trying to comfort Elizabeth Taylor who is crying after storming out of her 40th birthday party because a couple of the catty guests said she was no longer a movie star. Lohan as Taylor utters the line, “I’m not a star, I’m a joke.” In this moment Lohan actually connected with the truth, perhaps ironically, but it was a moment of truth in an otherwise hopeless performance.

The other biopic I finally got around to watching this weekend was My Week With Marilyn, a film that received two Oscar nominations and a host of other accolades

Michelle Williams and Marilyn Monroe

As a fan of Marilyn Monroe, I went into this film with mixed emotions. I have read almost everything there is to read about her life. I have seen literally all of her films multiple times. I have watched interviews with her, talking about her life and her work. It was going to be difficult for me to be able to suspend my disbelief enough to give Michelle Williams a fair shake. The movie, as a whole, was not terrible. Like Liz and Dick, the attention to detail was very good and the supporting cast rose above a bad script. Dame Judy Dench was perfection as Dame Sybil Thorndike. Julia Ormond absolutely became Vivian Leigh. Dougray Scott was wonderful as Arthur Miller (although his part was small and poorly written). Kenneth Branagh as Sir Lawrence Olivier was transcendent. The script was an amateurish, mean-spirited and one-dimensional portrayal of every character, especially Monroe, but most of the actors were able to bring more to their portrayals than what was on the page. The story could have easily been written by someone who had never even met Marilyn and had just heard the gossip and rumours of her behavior on set (another case of all warts and no all). It came across as the deluded bragging of a young man who thought himself the only person who could understand Marilyn Monroe. That being said, Michelle Williams’ portrayal did nothing to give any real depth to the part, focusing solely on her insecurities, fear of abandonment and need for approval. Another case of bad casting. Now I am not saying that Williams is a bad actress, quite the contrary, I have enjoyed her in many other movies. It is simply that this role was too big for her, both figuratively and literally. Williams, (like Lohan) was too thin for the part… and the opening scene with her dancing in a sheer gown was distracting if only because of the OBVIOUS padding of her hips and bottom. I couldn’t help but think, several times while watching this movie, that HBO would have done a far better job with it. In fact, I would have given this film much more slack if it had been made for TV, but as it was not and as it was so acclaimed, I was more critical of every little detail. Unlike, Lindsay Lohan in Liz and Dick, Michelle Williams did not ever seem to connect with Monroe (even ironically). The whole performance was a pale imitation and a let down.

Tippi Hedren and Sienna Miller

There have been biopic movies that I have thought were well done. Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest, Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren in The Girl, Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in Iron Lady, Don Cheadle as Sammy Davis Jr. and Joe Mantegna as Dean Martin in The Rat Pack, Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover in J. Edgar and Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin in Game Change. With the possible exception of Sienna Miller (it was almost creepy how much she looked like Tippi Hedren), none of these actors looked exactly like the person they were portraying, but they were able to get past the persona to the person inside and transform themselves into those iconic roles.

I hate my big breasts


This is what my first bra looked like.

This is what it looks like now. Notice the wide shoulder strap to prevent divots?

When I was on the verge of puberty, like most girls my age, I wished for big breasts. I did the whole, ‘I must, I must, I must increase my bust’ chant. I longed for the day I could buy my first bra. Back then, having big breasts seemed glamorous and sexy. Boy, was I wrong!

What nobody tells you is that your breasts keep growing. In my late teens through my early thirties I had a B cup and things were great. Clothes fit me nicely, I could participate in any physical activity I wanted and I got just the right amount of attention. In my mid thirties to my early forties, I had a C cup. Now my breasts were a little heavier and a bit more in the way when I ran, danced or jumped around. The gaze I was used to getting from men was migrating south by about a foot and my lower back started to give me a bit of pain. When I hit 42 (the magic number that Douglas Adams gives as the answer to life, the universe and everything), my breasts were now filling up a D cup. My lower back pain was more of a chronic worry. I had to choose my physical activities more carefully. Men now exclusively stared at my chest before looking at my face. In hot weather I began to develop a heat rash underneath my breasts. Now, at 47 my breasts are a DD cup and I am sick and tired of the damned things!

Doctors say that every one pound of weight on your front equals TEN pounds of weight your back must carry. My breasts weigh about three pounds each, which means my back is carrying 60 pounds of unnecessary weight. Is it any wonder I have chronic lower back pain? I will never understand women who voluntarily enlarge their breasts with surgery past the point of a C cup.

Back pain is not the only issue my breasts have bestowed upon me over the years. I have been blessed with fibrocystic breast disorder. I get large fluid filled cysts (multiple) in my breasts that must be drained with a large, scary needle a couple of times a year. Not only do these cysts make my breasts misshapen and tender, they add weight. I have also had breast cancer. In my case I was lucky because the small tumour I had, grew almost entirely inside one of the aforementioned cysts and was therefore relatively easy for my surgeon to remove, though I still had to undergo chemotherapy because of a tiny cluster of cells that grew unnoticed on the outside of the cyst.

This is an ultrasound image of two large fluid filled breast cysts. At the moment, my right breast has four of them.

I can’t get a mammogram (which costs nothing) because of the fibrocystic breast disease, so, instead I must get an ultrasound, which is not covered by my province’s medical insurance plan and costs me $165 at least twice a year. I am seriously considering breast reduction surgery (which would be covered by my insurance), but I prefer not to go under the knife unless I absolutely have to, so I am weighing that option very carefully. There have even been days when I have thought that it would be great if I got another cancerous tumour because then, I could just get a double mastectomy and be done with them. (I know, be careful what you wish for)

Oh yes, big breasts would be so glamorous and sexy. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how my breasts are in the way of the life I want to be living. I’m beginning to feel like my breasts are taking over control of my whole body.

Excuses, excuses


There are two figures of speech that really put the wind up my skirt. The first is “boys will be boys.”

Parents have been saying this since the invention of dirt to excuse away the behavior of little boys. You never hear anyone exclaim that girls will be girls. That is because little girls are punished for their bad behavior from a very early age. So why do we encourage little boys by ignoring their bad behavior when we know that providing a consequence for undesirable actions works? By excusing boys their bad behavior all we are doing is creating grown men who exhibit the same bad behavior, whether it’s fraternity hazing, racism or sexism. Unless bad behavior is nipped in the bud and not excused away we continue to perpetuate the idea that boys will be boys and that men will never change.

The second figure of speech that (as Peter Griffin would say) grinds my gears is “consider the source.”

Ann Coulter proving that women are guilty of ignorance and hate too.

This is something adults say when they are sick and tired of hearing ignorant and hateful things from ignorant and hateful people. Unfortunately, like ‘boys will be boys’, ‘consider the source’ only serves to excuse away the words and actions of racists, sexists, fear and hate mongers.

Unless we actually make people take responsibility for their words and actions, we are doomed to have to listen to hate speech. Ignoring the problem will not make it simply go away.

Recently the web site, http://jezebel.com/ took to task some teenagers that had posted horribly racist tweets (that I will not re-print here… they do not need to be rewarded with more publicity) in the wake of President Obama’s re-election. They alerted the schools, parents and employers of the teens who posted these offensive statements and actually got results. In some cases the schools suspended or even expelled the teens. In some cases their employers fired the teens. In almost all cases the offending twitter accounts were deleted. Now I do realize that this doesn’t stop these kids from thinking racist thoughts (racism is usually taught by parents or other authority figures), but it will certainly make them think twice before committing racist actions if they know that there are consequences for those actions.

Laziness, exasperation and excuses will not create the kind of world in which we want to live, or the kind of child we would be proud to send into that world.

America’s foreign policy part two… foreign aid.


I wasn’t going to do another blog about the United States. I felt like I had said all I had to say on the matter. Then, a heartfelt comment on my last entry prompted me to change my mind. You should know something about me. I find it impossible not to respond to statements of fact that are not entirely factual and I am addicted to research. I would like to begin this post with apologies to Erika, the blogger upon whose comment this entry is based. I enjoy your blog and respect your point of view.

Erika’s comment challenged my assertion that America’s foreign policy was faulty at best by pointing out that America does so much good in the world with their foreign aid. To read her comment in its entirety click here

Because of my aforementioned personality traits I must respond thusly.

As my last post dealt with the American government, I will continue to keep my focus on America’s foreign aid on government aid. In her comment Erika stated “In 2012 American emergency foreign aid budget exceeded 1.6 Billion (with a B) and that does not include regular, planned aid contributions, this was just the “acts of God” stuff.” I’d like to start here because her quote of 1.6 billion dollars (with a B) is the exact amount that America owes the United Nations. Since 1985 the U.S. Congress has refused to authorize payment of the U.S. dues, in order to force UN compliance with U.S. wishes, as well as a reduction in the U.S. assessment. The following chart shows U.S. debt to the UN from 1995 through 2005.

U.S. debt to the United Nations, from 1995 to 2005
Year Regular budget Peacekeeping Total
31 December 1995 $414 million (73%) $816 million (47%) $1.231 billion (56%)
31 December 1996 $376 million (74%) $926 million (57%) $1.303 billion (61%)
31 December 1997 $373 million (79%) $940 million (60%) $1.313 billion (64%)
31 December 1998 $316 million (76%) $976 million (61%) $1.294 billion (64%)
31 December 1999 $167 million (68%) $995 million (67%) $1.170 billion (67%)
31 December 2000 $165 million (74%) $1.144 billion (56%) $1.321 billion (58%)
31 December 2001 $165 million (69%) $691 million (38%) $871 million (41%)
31 December 2002 $190 million (62%) $536 million (40%) $738 million (44%)
31 December 2003 $268 million (61%) $482 million (45%) $762 million (48%)
31 December 2004 $241 million (68%) $722 million (28%) $975 million (33%)
30 September 2005 $607 million (82%) $607 million (28%) $1.246 billion (41%)

As of 2012 the amount owed is 1.6 billion dollars. Oh, in case you were wondering, Canada’s yearly foreign aid budget is 5.16 billion dollars (with a B) and we are paid up.

The comment also stated that, ” we are the first to run to aid when famine, natural disaster or disease strikes both as individual donors and from the government.” and specifically mentioned the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan as examples of this. The country that responded first in 2004 was Australia. The country that responded first in 2010 was the Dominican Republic. The first country to respond in 2011 was, again, Australia. The United States government was generous in their commitment of not only military aid, but financial aid in those situations, they just weren’t first. It should also be noted that the U.S. spends 19 times more on defence that it does on foreign aid.

The word commitment is important here. The United States commits billions of dollars annually to foreign aid, both in emergency aid and planned aid, however, from 2000 to 2011, only 40% of those committed dollars reached their destination, leaving a 60% shortfall. This is not new behavior. In 1970, the world’s wealthiest nations (United States included) agreed to spend 0.7% of their GNP on Official Development Assistance (ODA or Foreign Aid) with a target deadline by the mid 1970′s. To be fair, almost all of the nations who signed into this agreement failed to reach this target (United States included). So, then another agreement was signed stating that these nations agree to spend 0.56% of the GNI on ODA by 2010 increasing to 0.7% by 2015. USA’s aid, in terms of percentage of their GNP has almost always been lower than any other industrialized nation in the world, though to be fair, their dollar amount, since the year 2000 was the highest.

America is constantly whining that they are the country that the whole world turns to in time of crisis for military and financial aid. They seem to forget that other countries exist and are helping out as well. In fact, here’s a chart showing the per capita dollars donated to the 2004 Indian Ocean (Boxing Day) Earthquake/Tsunami.

Country Population (July 2004 or earlier) See [72] Aid (total) (USD millions) per capita (USD) Aid by government (USD millions) per capita (USD) Aid by public (USD millions) per capita (USD)
Australia 19,913,144 1,322 66.38 1,099 55.19 223.4 11.22
Norway 4,574,560 265.1 57.95 175.3 38.32 89.8 19.63
Kuwait 2,257,549 100 44.3
Liechtenstein 32,528 1.2 36.89
Netherlands 16,318,199 509.1 31.20 300.5 18.42 208.6 12.78
Ireland 3,939,558 117.94 29.94 20 5.08 97.94 24.86
Qatar 840,290 20 23.80
Canada 32,507,874 743.68 22.88 531.2 16.34 212.48 6.54
Switzerland 7,450,867 157.9 21.19
Sweden 9,010,627 230.9 25.63 71.9 7.97 159 17.64
Finland 5,214,512 89.5 17.16
Denmark 5,413,392 87.5 16.16
United Kingdom 60,270,708 795.7 13.20 140.3 2.33 654.9 10.87
Hong Kong 6,855,125 85.89 12.529 6.41 0.935 79.48 11.594
Germany 82,424,609 992 12.04
United States 293,027,571 2,875 9.81
Iceland 293,966 2.5 8.50
United Arab Emirates 2,523,915 20 7.92
Taiwan (ROC) 22,191,087 110 4.96 50 2.25 60 2.71
Japan 127,333,002 580 4.55 500 3.93 80 0.63
Singapore 4,353,893 15 3.45
Belgium 10,348,276 24.9 2.41
Italy 58,057,477 125 2.15
Greece 10,647,529 21.6 2.03
Czech Republic 10,246,178 19 1.85
Spain 40,280,780 73.1 1.81
Saudi Arabia 25,795,938 30 1.16
Portugal 10,524,145 10.9 1.04
France 60,424,213 57 0.94
Mainland China 1,298,847,624 63 0.05
India 1,065,070,607 23 0.02

Then there was the Haiti earthquake. In this case the United States pledged the most amount in dollars, however,if you take into account that Canada’s population is one tenth the size of America’s population, and you see the America’s donation is only three times what Canada gave it looks like Canada was a tad more generous here.

Country/organisation ISO country code Funding, committed and uncommitted,
Others 639,381,379
Private (individuals & organisations) 593,639,219
United States US 466,879,506
Canada CA 130,733,775
World Bank (emergency grant) 82,107,356
Japan JP 70,744,798
Saudi Arabia SA 50,000,000
Spain ES 47,664,745
European Commission 43,290,043
France FR 33,844,153
United Kingdom GB 33,070,138
Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 27,976,462
Norway NO 25,298,044
Sweden SE 25,039,684
Germany DE 21,645,022
Brazil BR 16,884,782
Denmark DK 16,288,032
Australia AU 13,489,209
China CN 10,813,535
Italy IT 9,302,037
Switzerland CH 8,932,039
Finland FI 8,005,607
Russian Federation RU 5,700,000
Netherlands NL 5,050,504
India IN 5,000,000
United Arab Emirates AE 3,209,113
Ghana GH 3,000,000
Ireland IE 2,886,002
Donors not specified 2,219,169
Indonesia ID 1,700,000
Czech Republic CZ 1,154,401
Belgium BE 1,151,876
Poland PL 1,089,466
New Zealand NZ 1,000,000
Morocco MA 1,000,000
Guyana GY 1,000,000
Estonia EE 1,000,000
Inter-American Development Bank 200,000

Aid to Japan for the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami was given by governments from around the world. To take a closer look at who donated and what they donated click here .

Yes the United States government does donate a LOT of money in emergency aid funding, however they are often the last country to pay up. In fact, the United Nations had to ask the United States to pay their pledges to Japan as they had not been received a year after the fact. *Note, as of this posting the U.S. government still has not made good on all of the funds it has committed to Japan to aid in this disaster.

As you can see, the United States is not the only country on the planet that helps out in times of need. In fact, during Hurricane Katrina the United States found it self on the receiving end of foreign aid. Even without being asked, the list of countries that offered and gave aid to the United States during this time of crisis is as long as my arm (and then some). As expected, allies of the U.S. gave generously. Australia gave 7.5 million USD, New Zealand gave $2,000,000, Canada was the highest international donor nation (the province of Alberta, alone, gave $5,000,000), and with Mexico was one of the two countries in the world to supply direct military assistance in addition to civilian donations and supplies. But then help also came from some very unexpected places. Countries that couldn’t afford much offered help like Greece, who gave $85,000 and two cruise ships to help house those left homeless by the disaster, Iraq gave $1,000,000 to the Red Cross via the red Crescent, Mongolia gave $50,000 and Nigeria gave $1,000,000. To read more about which nations gave what click here

That, of course is not the only instance in which America has received international aid, there was also the attacks on September 11, 2001 and the current effort due to Hurricane Sandy.

Getting back to the original comment that sparked this post, I was accused of painting the United States as being all bad and that was both unfair and inaccurate. Firstly, I am not sure how one could infer from my last post that I was painting the country as all bad, when I was only discussing the American government with regard to its foreign policy and not the people of the country. But in the interest of fairness, I will concede that the American people are a very generous bunch… but my point here is that you are not the only ones giving.

My issue in the last post was really about how America thinks it is put upon to protect the world from the (as George W. Bush would say) evildoers. That pervasive opinion is so widespread because that is what your government tells you is the case. That is actually not the case. Often times, when America uses its military might to butt into a situation that is none of its business (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libia, Syria), they only serve to unite two warring factions against a common enemy… the United States. Then when the dust settles, those factions get back to fighting each other and nothing has changed except the number of people doing the fighting is now lessened. America could have saved itself some cash and just stayed home. In the case of Afghanistan, the Russian government actually warned the U.S. not to get involved in what would be a military quagmire, but the American government refused to learn from history only to be doomed to repeat it. If the United States government would only learn from both the mistakes (for example the Russian invasion of Afghanistan) and the successes (for example the use of wind power in the Netherlands) of other countries then perhaps they would not be in the financial mud slide under which they are now buried. And perhaps they would stop viewing the rest of the world like this.

I can tell you that the rest of the world would be grateful if you would only acknowledge that we do our part too.

American foreign policy, a foreign perspective


Canada and the United States have long had what, from the outside, can be seen as a symbiotic relationship. We used to have (until recently) the world’s longest undefended border. We signed on to NAFTA even though it benefitted us far less than it did our neighbours to the south. On the world stage, America is the cartoon Bulldog and Canada is the Jack Russell terrier jumping around asking, “what are we doing today, Spike?”

The USA is the one on the left.

MILITARY

America has long gotten their power through military might, which is why military spending is the sacred cow when it comes to America’s budget. Neither Republicans, nor Democrats will significantly slash funding for America’s military no matter the fiscal consequence. America’s military budget is larger than that of China, Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Italy, South Korea, Brazil, Canada, and Australia combined. A strong military has been too large a part of the American identity for far too long but it’s the only thing keeping them in a position of any real international power, so they are doomed to keep the funding bloated. Americans are so wrapped up in this identity that they actually think that the rest of the world wants them in the position of protector. In this link, from Aljazeera, the Americans on the panel are all of the opinion that America HAS to defend the entire world, that they have been placed in that position by their allies. (The foreign policy conversation begins at the 24:15 mark.) It seems this opinion is a pervasive one in the U.S. However, if you ask the leaders, or even the people of countries around the world, you get a very different opinion. Most other countries see America as a corrupt and greedy bully that has taken the role of warmonger (not protector) upon itself, without ever being asked to do so, because they have been able to convince themselves that they own the moral high ground. That being said, there is no denying that America’s military might has served them well since the country’s inception. Unfortunately for America, their military (among other things) is bankrupting them, so they seem to be between a rock and a hard place. President Obama ran (the first time) on diplomacy over war. He seemed genuinely concerned about how America was perceived on the world stage. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, he has not lived up to his promise. Just ask any country who has been on the receiving end of one of his drone attacks.

MORAL HIGH GROUND

A big part of what angers other countries about America is the fact that Americans smugly go around the world claiming the moral high ground. America is, “the greatest nation in the world”. Meanwhile, America has tortured, murdered and raped its way through wars just as much, if not more than the rest of us. America should be called out on human rights violations as much as countries like China, Iran and Pakistan are, if only because of their for profit healthcare, prisons, and their drug war that only serves to keep the minorities and the poor from achieving any level of success. The hypocrisy of the moral high ground in this case would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous. If you look at the countries causing the most conflict in the world right now they all have one thing in common… they all  think that they have God on their side and that they are the good guys doing God’s work by fighting the forces of evil. In fact, this has been a huge part of America’s brand since the American Revolution. This religious ideology is dangerous because it excuses all sorts of atrocities without actually having to have any kind of well thought out reason for killing, torturing or raping innocent (and not so innocent) people in countries around the world. They are so wrapped up in thinking they are the best, that they constantly act against their own best interests. In this last election there was quite a bit of China bashing going on. Do they not know that China holds the vast majority of their debt and makes most of their products? Yes, Americans are so smug that they think it’s okay to bite the hand that (literally) feeds them. It’s not easy being America’s enemy.

DEADBEAT NATION

It’s no picnic being America’s friend either. In 2011, when the United States Congress was busy bickering about whether or not to raise the debt ceiling, quite a few Americans seemed shocked that their country was not paying its bills. This is nothing new. America hasn’t been paying their bills for years. Even when court ordered to do so, America continues to be a deadbeat nation. Take a look at the Canada USA softwood dispute for an example of this behavior. Apparently NAFTA wasn’t good enough for the USA when it came to charging whatever they wanted to for a Canadian product, so they decided to impose a tariff on Canada’s softwood. Canada took them to international court, several times and won. America still has yet to pay the agreed upon amount in its entirety. (that is a nutshell version, to get the whole story, I encourage you to click the link.) I could cite may more examples, but we’d be here all day. When it comes to paying back what they owe, America reminds me of Dean in the following sketch from Kids In The Hall.

I’d be very wary of signing a deal with America.

THE BLAME GAME

One thing the U.S. government is good at, is blaming other countries for things that are (at least partially) America’s fault. Take, for example the Gulf Oil Spill. America was very quick to blame the entire thing on BP, so as to get out of having to pay for the lion’s share of the clean up costs. Halliburton was just as much, if not, more to blame, but they got off relatively scott free. Even the financial crisis in Greece, which was a major contributor to the Euro Zone crisis, falls onto America’s shoulders, via Goldman Sachs, a bank that received a government bail out.

WAKING UP

Slowly, other countries are waking up to the fact that America’s purchasing power is a bit like the Emperor’s new clothes. Sure, they buy stuff with the zeal of a kid at Christmas, but if they defer payment, or just plain, don’t pay at all, why would you sell to them? Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper (whose actions are hit and miss in my book) has cleverly been travelling the world, making deals with burgeoning economic powerhouses like China, Japan, Brazil and, most recently, India to offset Canada’s reliance on American trade. In fact, this chart, from the International Monetary Fund shows that the world economic stage is yet another place where America is no longer number one .

The Twenty Largest Economies By Incremental Nominal GDP From 2007 to 2012
Economy Nominal GDP (billions in USD)
(01) China

4,756.006

(02) Japan

1,628.043

(03) United States

1,624.691

(04) Brazil

1,058.832

(05) India

794.189

(06) Russia

653.852

(07) Australia

596.361

(08) Indonesia

462.684

(09) Canada

346.017

(10) Saudi Arabia

272.107

(11) Argentina

214.741

(12) Iran

176.425

(13) Switzerland

172.325

(14) Colombia

154.837

(15) Turkey

133.939

(16) Thailand

130.012

(17) Mexico

127.588

(18) Egypt

124.655

(19) Malaysia

113.564

(20) Venezuela

107.936

The twenty largest economies contributing to global nominal GDP growth (2007 – 2012)[

Many other countries are following suit, making deals with each other to offset their dependence on the weakening American economy.

I have long been saying that the only thing at which America can still rightfully claim the number one spot is branding. They are very good at perpetuating an image, just not so good at living up to that image. Unfortunately, for America, everyone but the American public can see behind the curtain.

And I am not ashamed


It was 1983 and I was a sexually active 18-year-old young woman. One night, in the back of a Shelby Cobra (I have always been somewhat of a car nut), I was in the middle of what can only be called a couple of hour stand, when, unbeknownst to me, the condom broke. It wasn’t until after the deed was done that either of us realized what had happened, but at that moment, I knew I was pregnant. I have no idea how I knew, but I knew. I also knew right away what option I would choose and never had a second thought about it.

The wait until I missed my next period seemed endless. Finally, when I was absolutely positive Aunt Flo would not be visiting, I went to my doctor and had the test. The results were positive, as expected and I immediately scheduled an abortion. There was only one hitch. In Canada, you had to be 19 years old (the age of majority) to get an abortion without parental consent. So, I had to tell my Mother. I told her that I was pregnant and without taking so much a the tiniest of breaths, I told her that I wanted to abort and that I had the procedure already scheduled, and that all I needed was her signature. To my mother’s credit, she was extremely supportive. She drove me to the appointment and was waiting for me when it was over. She even made my favourite dessert (witches nut cake) and had me stay at home with her for a few days until the tenderness and the bleeding was under control. She never made me feel guilty or judged.

I look back on my decision to have an abortion as one of the best decisions I ever made. I was in no way ready to have a child at that stage of my life. Having that baby would not have been fair to either myself or the baby. It could be said that my decision was selfish. To that I say, yes it was, and what is so wrong with being selfish? After all its my life to live as I see fit and I am free to do as I choose with my life and my body. I have not, for a moment, regretted having an abortion and I am not ashamed. Would I have preferred that the condom had done its job? Of course, but I am extremely happy that there was an alternate option available to me as that was not the case.

It has been said that no woman wants  an abortion. I can tell you that when I found myself with an unwanted pregnancy, there was nothing I wanted more.

There has been a lot of hoopla recently from Conservative politicians who want to ban abortion. The conversation has been derailed slightly due to some incredibly ignorant quotes about abortion in the case of rape, so that now all we are focused on is rape, when what we should be talking about is the necessity for abortion. Women’s reproductive rights are just that… rights, hard-fought and earned. Even entertaining the question of whether or not a woman should have those rights just proves to women that you do not see us as human beings capable of thinking for ourselves.

There seems to be only one American politician who gets it.

I couldn’t agree more. Male legislators need to stay far away from women’s uteri. If you don’t have one, you shouldn’t get a say.