Tag Archives: Opinion

Art in Film: The Innocents – 83%

The InnocentsOn July 19, 2016, our Art in Film group reviewed The Innocents.  Warsaw, December 1945: the second World War is finally over and Mathilde is treating the last of the French survivors of the German camps. When a panicked Benedictine nun appears at the clinic one night begging Mathilde to follow her back to the convent, what she finds there is shocking: a holy sister about to give birth and several more in advanced stages of pregnancy.

A non-believer, Mathilde enters the sisters’ fiercely private world, dictated by the rituals of their order and the strict Rev. Mother (Agata Kulesza). Fearing the shame of exposure, the hostility of the new anti-Catholic Communist government, and facing an unprecedented crisis of faith, the nuns increasingly turn to Mathilde as their belief and traditions clash with harsh realities.

Released July 1, 2016.  Directed by Anne Fontaine.  Subtitled.  Cast includes Lou de Laâge (as Mathilde Beaulieu), Agata Buzek (as Nun Maria), Agata Kulesza (as Mother Superior) and Joanna Kulig (as Nun Irena).

Reviewers:

Gerrie Beck (85%); Elana Ben-Kerem (90%); Eileen Jacobson (85%); Glenn Lippman (95%, Discussion/Review Leader); Judy Moskowitz (95%); Bebe Nagel (45%); Elinor Steffensen (85%); Caryn Wachsler (85%); and Miriam Weiss (85%).

Movie Review Comments:

  • Memorable Scenes:  (a) Leaving newborn at the cross; (b) Mathilde crying in the car back to hospital; (c) Near rape scene; (d) Nun suicide; (e) Nun Sofie looking for her baby.
  • Notable quotation:  “Faith is 24 hours of doubt and 1 minute of hope.”
  • Subtitles offered:  (a) Babyland; (b) War is hell; (c) In the name of God.
  • What was learned:  (a) how zeal can lead to evil; (b) syphilis and lead to poor judgement and murder; (c) how a convent can be a loving place for orphans.
  • Cinematography:  Snow and cold scenes parallel theme’s hopelessness.  Black and white movie with color introduced towards the end of the movie as the orphanage changes direction of the film.  All-in-all, cinematography was excellently done.
  • Audience:  Mature, intelligent, and adult.

Movie was viewed at Living Room Theaters at Florida Atlantic University.

Art in Film: A Hologram for the King – 85%

A Hologram for the KingOn April 26, 2016, our Art in Film group reviewed A Hologram for the King.  Cultures collide when an American businessman (Tom Hanks) is sent to Saudi Arabia to close what he hopes will be the deal of a lifetime. Baffled by local customs and stymied by an opaque bureaucracy, he eventually finds his footing with the help of a wise-cracking taxi driver (Alexander Black) and a beautiful Saudi doctor (Sarita Choudhury).

Released April 22, 2016.  English.  Written & Directed by Tom Tykwer.  Cast includes Tom Hanks (as Alan Clay); Alexander Black (as Yousef); and Sarita Choudhury (as Zahra).

Reviewers:

Jonathan Kahn (85%); Glenn Lippman (90%, Discussion/Review Leader); Judy Moskowitz (75%); Bebe Nagel (95%); Elinor Steffensen (90%) and Rose (75%).

Movie Review Comments:

  • Interesting film.  Had a way of taking the audience on a vacation sort of trip, allowing one to escape into a part of the world so very different from life in the United States.
  • Tom Hanks starred in this film.  In one sense it seemed unusual a part for him.  He is not known for an emotional and sexy role.  However we think it was a good role for Hanks in that the culture in Saudi Arabia seems a bit distant and stoic; and Hanks seemed to depict that way about him very well.
  • Length of film was 90 minutes.  For some of our reviewers, the length was just right.  For others, the film dragged on building Hanks/Choudhury relationship then the film abruptly ended without providing more on movie’s original objective.
  • Parts that could have been eliminated or embellished.   (a) reduction in overslept scenes; (b) removed surgery details; (c) eliminated mountain visit with Yousef; (d) added more about the new job.
  • Metaphors.  Untouched seemed to explain Hanks’ part as it reflected general emotional response of Saudi Arabia.  Endless time as it related to continuous delays, etc.  Swimming scene represents a new beginning.

A Hologram for the King (2016)

  • Memorable Scenes.  (a) expression of tenderness in love scene; (b) Schwinn & Chinese parallel;(  (c) CIA joke; (d) Wolf scene; and (e) Father/Son trip’s message.
  • Learn Anything.  (a) Danish people like to party; (b) position of women in Saudi Arabia; (c) Saudi Arabia’s dislike for USA in the number of delays; and (d) Mecca.
  • Audience.  Mature, intelligent and adult.

Our reviewers found it odd that this film’s timing and emotionless theme comes so close in time to pending release of the controversy of 9/11 report and Saudi Arabia’s secret 28 pages.  Was the timing of this film deliberate?  Or just a coincidence?

Historical Perspective and Analysis of Presidential Candidates by George Robbat

Opinion.  Views presented here are individual member views and do not represent the collective view or opinion of the Intellectual Conversation Group (ICG).  ICG is a group of South Florida’s finest intellectual thinkers discussing topics with broad interest appeal as well as a think tank.

Submitted, Thursday, March 10, 2016

Bill was a great president but he had twin winds at his back, a collapsed Soviet Union leaving the only Superpower, now called a Hyperpower,without opposition; and a technological revolution that created a boom in the markets and the US economy not seen since the end of WW2. His major mistake was in absorbing Eastern European countries into NATO when no threat existed and threatening Russian’s survival when even our Defense Department described Russia as a friend to the US. (imagine if a victorious, USSR had absorbed Mexico and Canada into the Warsaw Pact) I believe this action coupled with limited efforts to bring Russia fully into the community of nations brought about the rise of Putin.

Bush wasn’t a bad man, just incompetent, and feckless, what I describe as a hapless, frat boy. He was just so ordinary. But “President” Cheney was not ordinary. He and his neocons proved the axiom that absolute power does corrupt absolutely. His regime brought on two wars, one, Iraq, completely unnecessary, which gave us the Middle East of today and was the first time in history the US had ever embarked on a preemptive war.

Bush also gave us a 5 trillion dollar increase in the deficit, the largest in history in dollar amounts, and that during a time of relative prosperity, financed at least partly by China. A believer in the now discredited Supply Side economic theory (what I call “build it and they will come”), he dropped tax collections to about 17% of GDP, bellow the generally accepted norm of 20% to 22% of GDP. Virtually the entire increase in corporate profits during that period went into the pockets of the top 1% (or really the top .01%).

A real estate bubble developed during that period which, to be fair, both parties were responsible.

While Paulson, under Bush, justifiably bailed out the banks and AIG (where every loan was repaid in full with interest) Obama inherited a collapsing economy, losing 700.000 jobs a month, and an impending depression that would make the first one look like a walk in the park.

It can be argued that it was Pelosi and Reid, not Obama, that saved the American economy and gave us the lowest unemployment rate and highest GDP growth in the developed world today but he was where the “buck stopped” as Truman said. Therefor, much of the credit for what was accomplished in those first two years, before they lost a veto proof majority to an obstructionist Congress, must reside with Obama. He passed more economic legislation in those first two years than any president since FDR. His crowning achievement was the bailout of GM which, if not done, would have eliminated an estimated 4.1 million primary, secondary and tertiary jobs. As fragile as the US economy was at that point it would almost certainly have brought down the US and therefor the world economy.

After that, the Republicans, essentially, shut down Congress.

I hope that this isn’t too much prep but I felt it was needed to prepare for what follows.

In the post Industrial information age, manufacturing is essentially dead or dying in developed countries and it should be. Of course there are many exceptions but they are shrinking. An economic model called the Smiley Curve explains that the highest reward and returns for both entrepreneur and worker exists at the top ends of the “Smile” At one peak the the inventor and then the engineering, at the other, distribution, sales, marketing and service. The drudgery and lowest pay belong at the bottom of the Smile, to manufacturing, and should be sent to newly developing economies whom it benefits the most.

At the turn of the Millenium, Germany, the “Sick Man of Europe”, for 20 years with chronic 10%+ unemployment, decided to follow this model. Working hand in hand with labor (for a change) they formed work councils, sent low paying manufacturing jobs to the developing world, concentrated on the top ends of the Curve and created an economy with unemployment rate of about 5% that is dominating the rest of the EU. An example for America

The presidential candidates today find a strong economy with the soundest economic fundamentals on the planet… and a bankrupt political system, corrupted by money and ineffectual to the extreme.

On to those candidates; a demagogue is described in the dictionary as one who “appeals to one’s fears and prejudices” not ones intellect. It surely has a picture of Trump next to it. A pure demagogue he pushes the button on issues that most of us are concerned with but has no rational solutions for them. A man, with reasonable intelligence, but intellectually incurious about the world around him for his entire life, he has virtually no knowledge of that world and has consistently shown it by his dissembling and obfuscation during debates and interviews. And that’s just the intellectual side of him.

President Reagan was probably the least intelligent, least educated, least knowledgeable and yet most successful president in the last half of the 20th century. What’s most important is a man’s character, his psychological profile if you will. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say Trump is a misanthropic, misogynistic, xenophobic, jingoistic, nativistic, nihilistic, narcissistic, anachronistic, prevaricating racist. I think we all have seen examples of Trump behavior that can support any of these terms. He’s a true horror of a man. What the Republican columnist David Brooks calls “the dark Id of the American mind”. But go to Romney’s description of him. It’s comprehensive and entirely accurate.

Some have said that Trump is a forceful, successful businessman. But he doesn’t have the quiet confidence of a Bloomberg or a Buffett or a Gates he has the temperament of an insecure, school yard bully. Would you really want his finger on the nuclear button the first time a foreign leader insults him? As for his business acumen, I point to his may bankruptcies and outright fraud from companies that sold meat or took money for phony educations. And in his brilliance he started a mortgage company in 2006!! In any event don’t confuse business experience with economic expertise needed to understand the world economy.They’re totally different As an example, Trump proposed a 45% tariff on imports from China. Every economist has condemned it, from the Right or Left. It’s basically a repeat of the 1930 Smoot/Hawley Act that accelerated world into a deeper depression. It’s Keyensian 101, any first year economics student knows that. Trump doesn’t.  Having no knowledge he has no ideology. His appeal, therefor, is not ideological, it’s psychological.

His appeal, mostly, but not always, is to those who, like himself, have little understanding of the issues and like all good demagogues he has created stalking horses, bogeyman, to attract and distract his followers. Hitler used the communists and the Jews. Trump uses aliens and those on welfare. He is a man unguided therefor unhindered by principle.

Cruz is completely different. Highly intelligent and highly educated, he has extensive knowledge and an extensive, conservative, ideology. His ideology wants to take us back to the time of our founding fathers. It does sound attractive. The problem is only 1% of Americans could vote them, 40.000 out of 4 million. All property holders. The rest, women, children, blacks, were either slaves or, essentially, indentured servants (yes, the women too).

I wonder if it’s a coincidence that the number was 1% then and 1% now. I think not.

Rubio: glib but little substance; Kasich: a competent and knowledgeable man with social views that would take us back to the 50’s.

On a brighter note. Bernie is a good man, knowledgeable, honest, a truly enlightened man but who’s economic views are too narrow. He doesn’t see the entrepreneur in the equation. But perhaps he’s necessary to balance the distribution of the fruits of our successful economy, to give back what has been taken away from the middle class. I consider the growing feudal economy one of the two greatest dangers facing the US. The other is the environment.

On to the most viable candidate, Hillary. Brilliant, highly educated and knowledgeable about the issues of the day, both foreign and domestic, she lived and worked beside Bill, and no shrinking violet, she had involved herself in everything he did. Whether Bill lives or dies his knowledge will live on in her.

Her efforts at health care for all and gay rights brought disapproval from the public and a Republican Congress in 1994. Sadly, she was ahead of her time.

Let’s examine the aura of mistrust manufactured by the Republicans that poisons her campaign today, even among many Democrats. I doubt that she had any idea of the importance of her server and email during a time of technological transition. People of her (and my) generation didn’t understand or focus on it and would have delegated it to an assistant. But it is still a threat to her and time will tell how much.

As for Benghazi, her efforts to control the spin were so minor that it shouldn’t even be considered. Perhaps Bush, spending trillions of dollars and sending 5.000 men to their deaths in Iraq with 10’s of thousands injured, on manufactured evidence, might be a bit more of a crime.

Her term as Sec of State did show little success. Her greatest achievement was in determining what the Iranians needed to give up their nuclear program and rejoin the economic community. They realized that the sanctions imposed, because of their nuclear program, was destroying their economy and, in any event, was no longer needed since there was no longer a threat of an American invasion. What they needed was to save face, all important in the Middle East. She, and subsequently Kerry, made sure they did. Ending the very real threat of a nuclear conflict is no mean feat. And she participated in that.

As for domestic policy, her entire history, before New York, has been about helping the middle class and the disadvantaged. Yes, being a Senator from NY required her to cater to bankers and Wall Street, it goes with job.

Presidents are concerned with one thing, their historical legacy. Everything else is secondary. Hillary will work for the middle class and, with a little help from the other side of the aisle (questionable), she will be successful.

George Robbat has been a long time member of Intellectual Conversation Group as well as table discussion host and facilitator of current events discussion.  Currently retired as a business manager of several companies including Orlando Nightclub Enterprises, Roxy Management Corp and other business concerns relating to night club industry.

Narrowing Down the Field of Candidates by Glenn Lippman

Opinion.  Views presented here are individual member views and do not represent the collective view or opinion of the Intellectual Conversation Group (ICG).  ICG is a group of South Florida’s finest intellectual thinkers discussing topics with broad interest appeal as well as a think tank.

Submitted, Thursday, March 3, 2016

I’ve always liked Clinton.  Bill that is.

The role of a president is to be a leader.  Is to connect with people, and define new workable ideas that can keep America growing.  Traits include intelligence and managerial leadership.  Additionally, the president’s role is a cheerleader, always hoping for a better tomorrow.

Back in the days of Bill’s presidency, Bill was a true leader.  He connected with people.  During his presidency, he was able to encourage entrepreneurs to make a go of new ideas in product innovation, development and manufacturing.  He was inspirational.  And many of our most successful companies today were spawned during his term.  Bill rode the waves of growth set into place by his predecessors.

Next came Baby Bush (BB).  Not the brightest however his father was quite successful, and BB pretty much did two things while president.  Respond to terrorism by creating government infrastructure for homeland security, and thought he heard that Americans wanted to pay less for products.  BB interpreted pay less to mean globalization.  Help third world countries sell  inferior products to the USA for less than it costs for American companies to produce the same products.  What BB didn’t realize was that by introducing  globalization, American manufacturers would suffer.  There were other ways to accomplish less cost such as automation, computerized manufacturing, etc., however BB didn’t approach alternatives that could build USA manufacturing.

In my opinion, we have three sectors for employment and function.  Manufacturing (those that make something for sale), Service (those that provide services to manufacturing, retail, medical and professional services), and Government (those that manage infrastructure of our Country).  Manufacturing and Service sectors pay taxes which in turn pays for Government salaries, benefits and programs.

By sacrificing Manufacturing sector, BB used the Service sector to strengthen retail sector by importing foreign made products that sold for less.  Retailer margins can be substantially less than manufacturing margins, and therefore net proceeds to pay for government programs began to suffer.  Embellishing the Service sector also produced other disasters such as our banking/mortgage bailout, etc.  Other than homeland security, BB accomplished nothing.  Why did we vote for BB … simple, he was the son of senior and we always hoped that he would figure something out.  What he did to the Manufacturing sector basically translated to selling out America.

Obama inherited the results of selling out America.  Without the Manufacturing sector, Obama inherited our Country’s highest unemployment numbers, and brought in no experience to deal with it.  Without manufacturing experience, Obama was not in a position to rely on personal experiences to remedy the situation.  So instead, he relied on his Government sector experience to add government jobs, increase government salaries and programs with money borrowed from China and increased taxation.  During his presidency, affordable health care, political correctness, white/black equality issues, gay marriages, transgender issues and other government related programs were introduced.  Affordable health care was basically forced in even though it doesn’t work.  Definitely not affordable.  He did nothing to restore Manufacturing sector, and basically hoped that manufacturing  would resolve itself without his help.  Why did we vote for Obama … he was black, spoke eloquently of a better future, and BB messed up so badly.

Now it is time to elect someone new.

Our primary issue should be America’s growth through the Manufacturing sector.  If we rebuild the Manufacturing sector, America will be able to pay back loans, balance budgets, increase employment, and possibly increase wages in Service & Manufacturing sectors.

Our choices include two candidates for change …  Trump and Sanders.

Three candidates for status quo, meaning let’s change nothing … H. Clinton, Rubio, Cruz

People still employed are shouting a need for change.

According to the polls and election analysts:

  • Older white women who want to see a woman as president regardless of experience, blacks and those that think Obama did something good for America, DNC, and those that like things the way they are, want Clinton.
  • Men and women still employed in non Government sector jobs, modern republicans, democrats and independents and business leaders along with Americans who want a change want Trump and Sanders.
  • Pro religious Christians and super conservatives want Cruz.
  • Pro GOP party leaders, old school RNC members, large GOP lobbyists with gain opportunities want Rubio.

Let’s not vote for someone then be disappointed that they didn’t do anything for growth in the USA.   I think we need to  elect someone that has had experience in accomplishing something, and not vote for someone who possibly can make a difference but without prior experience.

For example, Rubio has among the highest absentee record for a government employee.  And aside from his limited experience partially working in the government has done nothing else.

Cruz’s fanaticism for religious issues is  a bit scary during times when religion participation worldwide is on the decline.  I’m sure that there is more to him than his obvious religious convictions however no one seems to discuss it.

Clinton supporters seem to think that Bill is part of the package.  I.e., the common  phrase Billary as president.  Not true.  Bill’s health concerns alone are working against that concept let alone Bill isn’t running for president.  So, if we take Bill out of the picture, then it is only Hillary, and her record of accomplishment is pretty much nothing.  As first lady she failed with health reform, as a Senator, she accomplished nothing.  As Secretary of State her non actions in Benghazi was a disaster, and her disregard for security in the email scandal is cause alone for criminal charges.  Other than being a woman, what else has she accomplished?  She is not a friend of the Manufacturing sector and nothing of what she wants to do will  help  Manufacturing.  Her only claim to fame is to carry forward Obama’s legacy into the next four years.  Most Americans are done with Obama’s inaction towards the financial and business growth of America, so why would we want to  consider 4 more years!

Sanders and Trump are two candidates for change.  Two very different plans, but two options for a better America.  Sanders has a real vision with years of experience making a difference.  Trump as a businessman has years of experience making executive decisions affecting thousands of people.  Both candidates are doers.

If America is ready for change and Americans want a better life, it is now time for Americans to carefully listen to our only two realistic candidates … Trump and Sanders.

I hope they become the nominees and we, the People, get a chance to evaluate their proposed changes for our Country.  Perhaps we can make a choice in November based on what’s good for the future of America and not a choice based on sex or looks.  We Americans need to be accountable for our decisions and the choices we make.

… and thank you Mitt for confirming our belief that the GOP party is based on antiquated older values no longer supported by progressive Republicans like myself.  All Mitt’s speech did was clearly show GOP’s uninformed position in the current political climate and better define why Trump would  be a much better party leader than any other candidate.

Glenn Lippman is the Executive Director of Intellectual Conversation Group, President/CEO of Novaseal Corporation, a technology based engineering and manufacturing company based in Coconut Creek, Florida.  He is also Director of other high tech  firms based in the USA.  Mr. Lippman is an advisor/speaker associated with the Center for America.  Glenn is a degreed and practicing physicist and popular speaker on Made in USA topics. (c) All Rights Reserved.