It’s a Wonderful Piece of Socialist Propaganda!

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Sure, It’s a Wonderful Life is a heavy dose of Christian propaganda, but it also deals a heavy helping of what Fox News Fanatics would call Socialism. This, methinks, is a good thing.

It’s a testament to the film making and propaganda skills of Frank Capra, the director of the Holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life, that even a grown male atheist like me weeps like a school girl receiving the news of her puppy being run over by a mac truck when watching, for the 900th time, the final scene in the film. George’s older brother Harry has just come home from the war to join the throng of well wishers in the Bailey home after George, in the process of helping a bumbling Angel get his wings, realizes that he really does want to “live again”. Harry Bailey, raising a glass and silencing the crowd says, “A toast to my big brother George, the richest man in town.

Cue “Auld Lang Syne” and let the waterworks commence.

For those of you living in a cave and don’t know the plot of the movie like the back of your hand, George Bailey is driven to brink of suicide after a life where he’s self-asphyxiated. He martyred himself for his family, for his town and for his GOD. After his bastard dumb uncle Billy loses a wad of the Building and Loan’s cash that will put George (the chief of the Building & Loan) in jail, George thinks about suicide.

Enter the plot device that owes much to the ghosts in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carroll, the Angel sent from Heaven: Clarence. In the early Victorian era, Dickens shows us the redemption of a rich old miser. In Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life our hero needs redemption not because he is evil; rather, George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is so good that the whole town might just crumble under the thumb of hyper capitalist Scrooge-esq figure of Henry Potter if he were to end the heart ache and thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. So Clarence, as you well know, shows George what life would be like if he were never born.

In the classic alternate reality sequence, Bedford Falls is no longer Bedford Falls but “Pottersville”. Mary is not married to George with a large family doing community service, but she’s an old maid librarian wearing glasses and scared to look anyone in the eye. Bert the cop opens fire in the middle of the streets on unarmed men, and Ernie the cab driver– well, he’s just sad.

Pottersville is no Christian place. George Bailey, like the mythological Jesus Christ, sacrificed himself to make the world a better place. Pottersville’s got hot women, it’s got jazz for Christ’s sake. Gambling and commerce, commerce, commerce.

Frank Capra, who cut his teeth making propaganda films for the U.S. government during World War Two, seems to be taking his marching orders from the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost while making It’s a Wonderful Life, and that is the main reason that I’ve always been a bit conflicted by my emotional reaction and attachment to this film. It occurs to me now, however, that given the current political climate the film can be viewed the Glenn Beck crowd as a piece of Socialist propaganda. It is for this reason that I am happy to recommend it.

The institution that saves the town, The Bailey Building and Loan, was made possible by post Depression legislation that limited the power of the types of Monopolies Mr. Potter’s bank sought. I can just see Sarah Palin and her Tea Party compatriots getting all tangled in their rosary beads: George Bailey was a socialist commie bastard?

It is not just Sarah Palin. The FBI had their worries. A 1947 FBI memo considered the anti-consumerist message of the film a piece of Communist propaganda:

“With regard to the picture “It’s a Wonderful Life”, [redacted] stated in substance that the film represented rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a “scrooge-type” so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists.

In addition, [redacted] stated that, in his opinion, this picture deliberately maligned the upper class, attempting to show the people who had money were mean and despicable characters. [redacted] related that if he made this picture portraying the banker, he would have shown this individual to have been following the rules as laid down by the State Bank Examiner in connection with making loans. Further, [redacted] stated that the scene wouldn’t have “suffered at all” in portraying the banker as a man who was protecting funds put in his care by private individuals and adhering to the rules governing the loan of that money rather than portraying the part as it was shown. In summary, [redacted] stated that it was not necessary to make the banker such a mean character and “I would never have done it that way.”

Real life does not have the neat three-act structure of Hollywood films. Is there any way to know for sure if Bedford Falls will actually be better off in the future because of the life of a single person?

Well, according to Wendell Jamiesson, writing in the New York Times, economically speaking, it is Pottersville, not Bedford Falls, that has a better future in the unfolding American Century.

“Not only is Pottersville cooler and more fun than Bedford Falls, it also would have had a much, much stronger future. Think about it: In one scene George helps bring manufacturing to Bedford Falls. But since the era of “It’s a Wonderful Life” manufacturing in upstate New York has suffered terribly.

On the other hand, Pottersville, with its nightclubs and gambling halls, would almost certainly be in much better financial shape today. It might well be thriving. I checked my theory with the oft-quoted Mitchell L. Moss, a professor of urban policy at New York University, and he agreed, pointing out that, of all the upstate counties, the only one that has seen growth in recent years has been Saratoga.

“The reason is that it is a resort, and it has built an economy around that,” he said. “Meanwhile the great industrial cities have declined terrifically. Look at Connecticut: where is the growth? It’s in casinos; they are constantly expanding.”

“We ease up on our lot of cultural behaviors in a depression,” he said.

What a grim thought: Had George Bailey never been born, the people in his town might very well be better off today.”

The manufacturing lifestyle that George Bailey fights for and ushers into Bedford Falls in upstate New York has suffered since the making of the film. The only community actually to see growth: Saratoga, a town built around tourism not manufacturing. In other words, according to this article in The New York Times, the thesis of It’s a Wonderful Life as we look at the world through the prism of the current economic crisis is incorrect. Bedford Falls would have been better off if George Bailey had never been born.

Maybe I’m getting old and maybe I’m getting soft, but here’s where this atheist finds himself sticking up for the Christian propaganda love fest that is the film It’s a Wonderful Life, because defining success as growth dooms us to a life on the rat wheel. Therefore we can’t grow in perpetuity. It’s true for the economy, the population, for everything.

Science shows us that we weren’t created in the Garden of Eden; we were created from the Big Bang, and from that incredible heat, we know in our bones all things turn to cold.

Love fades, youth wrinkles, stars extinguish.

If this Christmas holiday means anything to me (and it does), it’s the celebration of the human will to carry on despite this knowledge, to bring in the Pagan tradition of light and warmth into the darkness and cold of winter.

Now I can add to the list of things making me enjoy that light and warmth the hope that many of you will view America’s favorite holiday movie is as a piece of socialist propaganda. That George Bailey, a banker, may have evolved less along the lines of Gordon Gecko and more along the lines of Bernie Sanders.

-Dennis Trainor, Jr.


Rape, murder, lies, sex, war, carnage, leakage- the past 12 months have had all of this and more in common with, well, every other year in this, the 2010th year in the Gregorian Calendar. But because list are comforting and things must be compartmentalized, quantified, ruminated on, and debated- and because Time magazine FUCKS this shit up every year, I offer you the 2010 No Cure For That Person of the year award.

But first, some dishonorable mentions:

Tony Hayward for being the arrogant face and voice of a willfully negligent environmental terrorist of a corporation who presided over the largest environmental disaster in US history and one of the largest PR disasters in world history. You are free to enjoy your dishonorable mention now that you have your life back.

Pat Robertson for, in addition to just being a windbag-o-douche- stating that the Haiti earthquake was the result of Haiti making a deal with the devil.

Pope Benedict, for your continued efforts at shielding priests from criminal prosecution and allowing them to wear the cloth after you knew they raped and molested children, here is wishing I am wrong in my opinion about the non-existence of an afterlife and that hell does in fact exist with Beelzebub saving an eternal seat for at table with Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacey.
It is hard to give your heroes a dishonorable mention, but Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, for throwing a massive rally against rallies and protest against protest a Slactivist festival that hold high the Kid Rock Ethos of “the world is really awful but there is nothing we can do about it” I declare that the 2 kings of Comedy Central go directly to jail and do not pass go.

There are more, easy targets for dishonorable mention of course; Sarah Palin, Lebron James and the father of that Indonesian 2 year old baby who was smoking a pack a day come quickly to mind, but let us now shine a light on some of the most positive movers and shakers of 2010:

Honorable mention must go to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. Laying bare the lies governments tell us that lead us to and keep us in a state of perpetual war makes you a hero on this list even as the likes of Sarah Palin calling for you to be hunted down like Osama bin Laden. WikiLeaks is said to be taking precautions in the light of such threats, but if we were going to hunt him down like Osama, it would appear that his life is not in that much danger after all. And while I think he could do away with his Ray Ban sponsorship deal he still earns a place high on this year’s Person of the Year honorable mention.

Lady Gaga also deserves honorable mention, not only for achieving fame while artistically de-constructing the fame monster culture we live in, but for using her celebrity status to advocate for gay rights and the abolishment of DADT. Even if her motivation is to overtake Madonna and Barbara Streisand on the iPod playlists of gay men all over the world, the ends (methinks) justify the means.

Allison Kilkenny and Jamie Kilstein, the married couple DIY independent media power couple get high praise for their work this year. She a journalist and he a comedian and together the hosts of the only podcast I actually listen to – you should all run right now to to subscribe to their show to find out why G Gordon Liddy once told Allison why her writing wants to make him vomit and why Jeneane Garafolo described Jamie comedy as a cross between George Carlin and Bill Hicks. Pull yourself away from corporate media mouthpieces and listen to what true independence sounds like. You will not be disappointed, I promise.

This person of the year however, goes to Bradley Manning.

Displaying the courage, hearts and brains to pull back the curtain and show us much more than the menacing Wizard of OZ, Private First Class Bradley Manning allegedly (so this award must come with an asterisk, until his suspected involvement is confirmed) is the reason why Secretary of State Clinton, among other high-ranking officials, are scrambling to mend fences.  But exposing the machinations behind the hegemonic homicidal foreign policy of the United States goes well beyond any dream like dorethean allegory. Because, while it is true that we are no longer in Kansas, to stretch the boundaries of the Wizard of Oz metaphor, life in the post nuclear era is never so simple as clicking our heels together and awaking from a dream.

Private First Class Bradley Manning is now in jail, charged with illegally copying classified documents.

Manning said he hoped the release of the videos and documents would lead to “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms”.

In fact, the ongoing discussion that will not die down anytime soon as a result of Manning’s actions are challenging Americans to face is a deeper meaning behind the phrase “there’s no place like home.”

BECK: “Domestic Terror Attack Imminent; Violent Left Wing Americans will be behind it”

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Davis Fleetwood

Yesterday, Professor Glenn Beck informed his viewers, or should I say the scholars enrolled in his course “Obama- Will-Be-Rounding-You-Up-and-Jailing-You-Any-Day-Now -101” that a looming violent event is coming in America. Now, no prerequisites are required to enroll in Professor Beck’s class, as a matter of fact, the lower your level of education, the more likely you are to excel. Prof. Beck does not want anyone tainted with the brainwashing doled out by the liberal education system. No, the ideas of American Exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny were taught in one room school houses like those on the Little House on the Prairie, and our education system need not instill us with any more than that.

Isn’t that so, Professor Beck?
Continue reading

An Open Letter to Jon Stewart

Dear Mr. Stewart:

I am one of the growing legion who plan on attending the Rally to Restore Sanity on October 30th, and my hopes are high. Why? Because I am going insane and I would like very much thank you to have my sanity restored.

And because the world we live in, the unfolding 21st century with America behind the wheel is currently in a slow motion suicide; a tragedy fit for Shakespeare, or at the very least-a new Showtime series. And in Shakespeare, it is often the court jesters who exhibit the most wisdom. On Showtime it dope dealing single Mom’s. As appealing as  Mary Louise Parker is on weeds, I doubt future generations will be gleaning life lessons from the “Tao of Nancy Botwin.”

So, I’m hoping, Mr.Stewart, that you are onto something as wise – and as funny, as a Shakespearean fool.

Even though my political leanings and yours tilt the same direction, Mr. Stewart, I am going insane.  Why? Even just reading the news on a regular basis, and skipping the hyperbolic commentary from the talking head performance artists employed by the FUX news network is enough to make one insane.

For example-take the recent story about US Soldiers in Afghanistan who allegedly keep the fingers from Afghan civilians they had killed as war trophies.

Now, many people will say, you know, that war is ugly. These things happen in war. Don’t criticize the soldiers you pinko commie fag or the next time I see you on the street I will rip your trachea out, put it on a kabob,  BBQ it and feed it to your mom! Soldiers fight and die to preserve our way of life-if they want a few fingers then hell, let them take fingers, toes,let them have all the Temporomandibular joints they want!

To which I respond, have you ever had BBQ’d TRACHEA? And, oh, bye the bye, the idea that soldiers fight and die to preserve our way of life has about as much veracity as the combined myths of the tooth fairy, Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, and of since the end of WW2, war-covert, overt or otherwise, is the default setting for the US.

Making us a society living in denial. A homicidal denial that has made us – according to your arguments, a very rich people unbothered by the blood on our hands. Is that who really are? A nation of MacBeth’s married to Martha Stewart, with enough products at our disposal to wash all the blood from our hands. “Out Out damn spot?” No problem! Guilt free world domination and a living room ready for a pictorial spread in next months’ Architectural Digest.

So, what is a peace loving pinko commie fag to do? Take to the streets, like they did in the 60s? What did the 60s teach us? After they killed Kennedy Malcolm Martin and Kennedy again, what happened? All those baby boomer hippies put their tails between their legs, got hair cuts, went to work for Wall Street or pharmaceutical firms, getting rich off of creative complex derivative markets and Viagra.

And all of this time US foreign policy has been much the same. Whether it be Jimmy Carter or George Bush in the White House,  since Fat Man paid a visit to Hiroshima the underlying assumptions that govern the US role in the world (i.e., – the world is a bad place that needs a cop, and that the US – not the UN or some other coalition-is the only force with the will and moral authority to act as this cop) has not been challenged by many elected officials and by exactly zero Presidents.

And it is this foreign policy-not the fact that Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton walk the red carpet panty-less, that has made radical Islam our enemy. And that is why some of us here on the left have lost our sanity. As distasteful and insane as Rev. Wright can sound, the chickens are indeed coming home to roost.

It has been suggested to me that your call, Mr. Stewart, for a restoration of sanity  (equally calling out the extreme elements on the left and the right) is a truly subversive gesture. That reality and sanity, as you have said, have a liberal bias. That the true moderates, the people you affectionately refer to as the “busy majority” want calm dialogue, will become progressives, if given the opportunity to actually have that dialogue.

Or are you just doing this for the ratings?

I suppose to have any kind of effect at all you’ll need both the former and the latter.

– Davis Fleetwood.
October 4, 2010

Tea Party Ad: “Come Home To God”

The Tea Party Movement Vs. Socialism

The Tea Party Movement Vs. Socialism

by Davis Fleetwood
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A Gallop poll conducted in late March shows that more than 1 in 4 Americans support the Tea Party Movement with a stunning 37% indicating that they view the gun toting Randian Regressive mob of Sarah Palin followers favorably.

Is it time for rational thinking progressives to move to Montreal, or can we fight back?

Before you get to depressed over the recent Gallop Poll and what it might say about the Citizens of the Unites States, you should understand the following: Given how little the average American knows about politics, you can find roughly 4 in 10 Americans who will give a positive rating to anything.


As Americans, we are, on the whole, so uniformed, so afraid of conflict, so guilt ridden by our status as victors in the birthplace lottery that had us born in the country with the most missiles and the most money thus affording even those us bearing the weight of an underwater mortgage a life in the lap of luxury compared to, say our brothers and sisters in the Gaza strip or the Deomcratoc Republic of Congo that we really don’t want to rock the boat.

Compare the 37% who said they viewed the Tea Party favorably and compare that to the 36% who said they had a positive view of socialism. Both polls were conducted by Gallop.

Ironic, given that one way the tea party is slowly stirring its followers into a revolutionary froth is by spreading fear that Obama enacting a socialist takeover of the country. Remember the Town Hall tour Obama embarked on last summer, as he tried to win support for health care reform? More than one tea party terrorist, emboldened by Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, shouted “I don’t want socialized medicine. And keep the governments hands off my Medicare!

A Confederacy of Dunces

So, is Obama a socialist?

OY! We should be so lucky.

In an article yesterday in the Journal Sentinel of Milwaukee, John Gurda details a 50-year period when the city of Milwaukee actually elected a string of Socialist Mayors. It is the only major American city to ever do so. From 1910- to 1960, with a few gaps in between, socialists governed Milwaukee.  How did that work out?  A great public parks system, plenty of jobs and industry, and, as Gurda puts it:

“It also embodied a deep and timeless blend of pragmatism and idealism. Although they worked for real-world reforms, the Socialists didn’t stop there. They called their fellow citizens to a higher conception of the common good, one that placed cooperation above competition and mutualism above bare self-interest. They believed that a government based on those ideals was humanity’s best hope for the future.”

Hollywood even mad a TV show about socialist Milwaukee in the 1950s. It was called Happy Days.


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A freelance writer, Davis Fleetwood has worked as a writer/ media consultant for Dennis Kucinich’s 2008 presidential campaign and served as a contributing editorial commentator for The Uptake. His videos have been seen by over 14 million viewers. He has been called (among many other things) “one of the most prominent voices in YouTube politics.” (-You Tube News & Politics chief, Steve Grove) He was a “Best of YouTube, 2007” nomination. His book I Stay In So You Can Go Out, is due out in May from No Cure For That Press, and his first full length feature documentary, MANIFEST DESTINY’S CHILD, is due out on DVD this June.

THE HERMIT WITH DAVIS FLEETWOOD is a sometimes serious, sometimes satiric look at the top headlines, current events, and political trends. The show is Independently produced by a staff of one & runs on the fuel of your individual donations.

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