News & Commentary

Tone-deaf celebrities should emulate Marky Mark, not Jed Bartlet

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A powerful minority of demented ideologues is pissing on the tie that still barely binds the western world to its democratic foundation. No, silly, I do not mean “The Russians”. Nor the good workers of WikiLeaks, the twits at Breitbart or even the devils of the finance industry. Today, I mean big-name US celebrities. This group that once had great referent power and still such lovely skin is also privileged of great idiocy, and it’s time for them to shut their idiot traps. Largely because nobody’s listening. Or, if they are, then they would prefer to take the opposite of celebrity advice.

I mean. Have you seen this? “Unite for America” is a propagandist ad, funded by “concerned citizens”, wherein Grace from Will and Grace, Major “Hot Lips” Houlihan, and President Jed Bartlet attempt to influence the outcome of the electoral college vote for Donald Trump. It’s perhaps the most tone-deaf moment in public speech since Gwyneth recommended a $200 vitality smoothie to her fans.

Seventeen celebrities tell a handful of uncertain Republicans how to act in a process that is now largely considered ceremonial, even if it was founded to stop black Americans from being legally understood as people. It’s curious to see the musician Moby demand an antique procedure, founded on slavery, be re-tooled to install the president that he would personally prefer. Honestly, I liked him better when he was selling all his good songs to car companies. At least that was a straightforward sell-out. Now, he’s just one of the many well-to-do liberals whose conscience has been outsourced to the DNC, an organisation that failed to support its most viable candidate.

Tut-tutting celebrities help no one, save for their opposition.

The ad is, in my view, incredible. Of all the reasons offered up by the “I’m With Her” crowd to explain Clinton’s loss—fake news, Russian Hackers, US citizens can’t be as poor, uncertain and/or sick as they say they are, because look at how well everyone’s doing on Wall St—this has got to be the feeblest. They are going (still) with the line that Clinton was the “most qualified” person for the job, and they restate Trump’s lack of experience and competence. As though this wasn’t a time where many of us have had a gutful of “experience”. As though this was a time where we, the majority who continue to experience real-wage stagnation or decline, really have much faith left in technocrats. You know. Those people who keep telling us that bailing out banks and deregulating labour is for our own good. Sure, we might have seen our prospects, our health or our wealth dwindle these past few decades. But the capital is bound to trickle down any day now.

People in the USA are facing a level of insecurity and ill-health in greater numbers than they have since the Great Depression. You can argue until you’re Rhode Island-blue in the face that this experience didn’t influence voters. You can continue to call underemployed Trump voters stupid for taking a gamble on the only candidate who said that he’d bring good jobs back. You can poke fun at their spelling, attempt to psychoanalyse their decision as “self-hatred”, while your decision to applaud Jed Bartlet, a fictional president created by a dull and sentimental mind, is rational. You can keep saying that it was ignorance that elevated an ignorant candidate like Trump, that it had nothing to do with widespread poverty; that those in areas without secure labour voted from racist mania and not from financial desperation. You can say that the 16-point swing by extremely low income voters away from their traditional party to the GOP wasn’t anything, and that obscenely rich people wanted Trump. (They really didn’t. They wanted Hillary.) Say all of this. But, surely, you might also consider saying that tut-tutting celebrities help no one, save for their opposition.

I was never particularly enamoured of the actor Mark Wahlberg, a figure I hold largely responsible for the former peekaboo underwear trend among white men. But, I am prepared to forgive all the publicly visible Funky Bunches of the 1990s for a statement he recently made.

“They (fans) might buy your CD or watch your movie, but you don’t put food on their table. You don’t pay their bills. A lot of Hollywood is living in a bubble.” – Mark Wahlberg

In an interview with Task and Purpose, Wahlberg said in late November that celebrity endorsement of a political candidate was counter-productive. Recalling the number of celebrities that had lined up to say of presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, “I’m With Her’, he made the compelling case that this shit just doesn’t work. Clinton had the A-List—Beyoncé, Springsteen, Amy Schumer— while Trump had Fonzie’s nephew. Nonetheless, a significant portion of traditional Democratic Party voters swung away from the gal with the big, important friends and to the man who was “deplorable”.

“You know, it just goes to show you that people aren’t listening to that anyway,” he said. “They might buy your CD or watch your movie, but you don’t put food on their table. You don’t pay their bills. A lot of Hollywood is living in a bubble. They’re pretty out of touch with the common person, the everyday guy out there providing for their family.”

The Democratic Party is out-of-touch with blue-collar people. They know they are, and they even said as much. One Democrat famously said before the election, “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.” You’d think that guy, who happens to be Amy Schumer’s cousin, would have had his arse booted out for saying that the poor didn’t matter, and that he’d prefer to woo the wealthy. Instead, they made him Senate Minority Leader.

An endorsement perceived as “establishment” is now counter-productive in a west veering to voting decisions that are not centrist.

While the Dems aren’t explicitly connected with this appalling ad, it still has their “fuck the poor” fingerprints all over it. The appeal to that higher morality only the comfortable can exercise is evident to Marky Mark and to me. Why in blazes can they not see? Are they happy to continue losing elections?

An endorsement perceived as “establishment” is now counter-productive in a west veering to voting decisions that are not centrist. Better to have no celebrity or major paper endorsing you at all. The former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has said the same as Wahlberg, attributing a large part of the electoral success of the communist Syriza to the fact that mainstream media didn’t take them seriously at all. Wahlberg is not the first person to publicly describe the “anti-politics” of our era, but he’s probably the first bankable Hollywood star to do so. Good on him for being able to see the same thing as many others.

This guy—and let’s not pretend Martin Sheen is appearing as anything but Sorkin’s popular wet-dream here—is not even an actual person, and most people know that.

And that is, we know it’s a fictional Democratic Party President promising his real Republican adversaries “respect” if they do as he recommends and ignores the decision of US voters. I mean, this guy—and let’s not pretend Martin Sheen is appearing as anything but Sorkin’s popular wet-dream here—is not even an actual person, and most people know that.

This is not true “respect”. This is no longer “true” politics. What advocates for old politics do not see is that their centrism looks as fictional to us as Jed’s. The centre is done, and these alt-centre celebrities look as crazy to many of us as the alt-right. This is not a time for sincere expertise by idiots. It’s a time for reflection.

When Marky Mark knows this before Moby, it’s time to revise one’s playlist.

32 responses to “Tone-deaf celebrities should emulate Marky Mark, not Jed Bartlet

  1. Helen
    That is so on the money .Hillary got the gig because ” it was her turn”.

    Am a old fashioned liberal-conservative
    , love your work.

  2. Late on election night, DNC establishment stalwart Chris Mathews had a moment of clarity, a moment too late:

    “The three issues that he tapped into — trade, immigration, and wars — I think he was on the popular side of…I never heard her railing against these stupid wars. I never heard her railing, genuinely, against these trade deals”.

    He summarises her campaign’s failings nicely. If only the DNC had realised this before they hoisted her over the primaries towards her manifest destiny while shafting the more popular Sanders.

    Clinton’s campaign reflected her entire political career – an odious charade in service of a ruthless, money-grubbing, war-mongering Clintocracy. The performance by Bruce Springsteen – a man who enjoys a net worth in the hundreds of millions and continues to rake in fortunes pedalling in the nostalgia of working class Americana – was the most appropriate crescendo to this farce I can imagine.

    Now look what’s happened. We can only hope to survive this upheaval.

  3. It’s easy to agree with you, Helen, that such ads are counter productive and somewhat inane (but if, as you say, “no one’s listening”, who cares?). In any case, it’s important to let make sure that some facts don’t get lost in your hyperbole. Here’s two that bear a second look:

    — “Obscenely rich people” didn’t vote for Trump, they voted for Clinton.

    This is incorrect. In those states that went from blue to red, most people earning over $100K a year – “obscenely rich” in our poverty ridden country, and especially in those distressed States – voted for Trump.

    Perhaps you mean that “many hedge funders voted for Clinton”, which may be true. But if you mean “most”, I’d like to see the data behind that assertion. You link to a Wall Street Journal article that wouldn’t have any (Murdoch) bias to flog, right? In fact, that article was written many months before the election, and was widely challenged by fact checkers, journalists and academics. And by any measure, the financial services industry overwhelmingly backed (and back) Republicans in Congressional races, which may be because Trump was self-funding his campaign for much of the election cycle. There was only one billionaire running for office in this election, despite your assertion.

    Maybe you mean the “obscenely educated” vote for Clinton? And that there is some correlation between education and wealth? That may be correct.

    But the idea that the wealthy were for Clinton and the poor were for Trump ignores the reality of the election, and the reality of the Republican establishment and their voting base.

    — Which brings us to the second point – that the poor voted for Trump, and did so largely due to “financial desperation”.

    Again, that may be true in some cases. Many poor counties voted for Trump. But Trump won the election only by 50-80K in three states that won him the electoral college, so it’s a pretty small sample.

    Clinton, by comparison, won the national vote by almost 3 million. Yes, a lot of those votes came from California and New York, both of which generate much of the economic activity in the United States. But the idea that there are no poor people in these two states? That their jobs are secure? That they haven’t been left behind like their counterparts in Wisconsin? A simple walk through the streets of Manhattan or Los Angeles, or Syracuse or Fresno – not to mention the overwhelming demographic data – would obliterate that notion.

    I certainly agree that one shouldn’t buy into the narrative that poor people who voted for Trump are simply stupid, or racist, rather than desperate and angry. Just don’t kid yourself that they can’t also be all of the above.

    I also agree that the Democratic Party represents the rich as much as anyone else. Just don’t kid yourself that the Republican Party does not, or that they would do more for the poor. They haven’t and they aren’t and they won’t.

    And while I agree with the idea that the Democratic Party is too focused on the one percent, they have SOME interest the 99%. No matter what you say, Obamacare alone is evidence of that.

    The other Party does not care about the poor, white or not. But you wouldn’t know that by reading the Murdoch press.

    1. Clinton has long held policies favourable to the financial sector. Clinton accumulated a good deal of her personal wealth speaking to these companies. Clinton was the financial establishment choice, and even the choice of some Murdoch papers. Including the WSJ. To say that Clinton, whose most generous donors were financial sector companies, was not the choice of the business elite is simply wrongheaded. Much liberal press continues in its criticism of Trump as a bad financial manager, saying just last week that his harsh words for the F-35 harmed Lockheed’s shares. This is reported in both The Guardian and on the ABC. Like it’s a bad thing not to want to spend loads of cash on a jet widely considered to be a piece of junk.
      Yes. We can see that the obscenely rich favoured Clinton. We can also say that blue-collar workers swung away from the traditional Dem vote at 16 points. It is true that Clinton had more blue-collar voters than Trump. It is also true that she alienated what has long been the Dem’s voting base. It’s the swing. It means something. That Hispanic voters also turned away from a Democratic presidential vote is significant. And, yes, I’ve seen the Vox-prepared charts online proving that more low income people voted for Clinton than Trump. I know it’s true. I also know there was a very significant swing away from her. The Democrats are the traditional blue collar party.
      I also know she won the popular vote. But Trump won the votes of 63 million Americans. We can continue saying that’s nothing if you like. Or, we can admit that many everyday people, not all of whom can be racist maniacs, see no reason to vote for a centrist.
      Or not. We can just keep asking people to be nicer, presuming that no one feels legitimately insecure about their future and that the correct and valiant choice would have been Clinton.

      1. I think the people who doth protest (desperately and sometimes irrationally) are genuinely concerned about the whole world in its fragile state, rendered such by humans, and often a few humans at the expense of many. Thus so-called ‘liberals’ find it difficult to empathise with those who are thinking of themselves as individuals. People living with little and trying to eek out a living often cannot afford the luxury of global considerations so both are understandable responses. But many are concerned that someone who also appears fragile, purely in his need for the populous to continually pander to his ego, will make similar insular, and perhaps erratic decisions, rather than decisions that positively impact locally and globally. If one has a global perspective, it’s a scary vista just now. The dispossessed in America are largely in this position because of the changing nature of work, (ironically a situation explored on The West Wing a very long time ago) and the ineffectiveness of government (any government) to be able to act independently of the businesses and technological changes forging the growing gap between the haves and have nots. Trump’s appointments would seem to be an attempt to draw to his side mirror images of himself for the reason stated above. One can understand then, when people take desperate measures to alter what they see as a fraught future.

        The wealthy largely voted for Trump. The poor largely voted for Clinton. In any election where a government has been in power for 8 years and people still feel dispossessed, the numbers will even out. They did.

      2. I agree with almost everything you say here, Helen. But again, I need to challenge some of your assertions:

        First, Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal didn’t endorse Clinton.

        Second, it is a broad generalisation (and possibly incorrect) to say that Clinton was the “choice of the business elite”. Take a look at this, for example, of large donors to Super Pacs, around a third of the way down – they lean heavily Republican, across the board:

        Third, yes, there was a swing away from the Democrats, but if the election were counted by any normal democratic standard, the Democrats would have still won, by a substantial numerical majority. Trump won a lot of votes – way too many, as far as I am concerned – but the split between the two parties was not dissimilar to the breakdown in past elections. People are tribal – have you ever met a life long Republican who voted for Obama?

        I also understand that the swing may be interpreted as a rebuke of the Dems, and their swing to the centre, but I am not entirely convinced that it wasn’t just one of many factors, including a general distaste for HRC as a candidate (which is a different thing than a distaste for the party or the platform – after all, Obama, who has taken plenty of money from Wall Street and business, is quite popular right now).

        You and I don’t disagree that the Democrats need to move left, not right. But I want to be careful about making generalisations about the lessons of this election. If we use the actual evidence available, the lesson might go like this:

        “A competent white millionaire woman who is the choice of the educated can not win a presidential election in largely white, rust belt states, because working class swing voters would prefer a male billionaire who is a compulsive racist and sexist liar, with no government experience whatsoever, and who pays no taxes and boasts about it”.

        1. You may content yourself with arguing that the Clintons have no significant ties to financial services.
          You may not say that the Democratic Party has had a “swing” to the centre. It has been the centre since 1992.
          The centre is not seen as a viable option by many voters. One can argue that the electoral college system is unfair, that Hillary ought to have been victorious or that this is a simple tale of a centimillionaire being punished for her gender.
          One can also look at a West that is rejecting centrist propositions.
          I don’t care about Hillary, really. I do care that the racist right is now the most widely available alternative to voters who oppose the centrist politics she represents. Many people voted for Trump. Many people voted for UKIP. Many people voted for One Nation. Many people will vote for Le Pen. This is the problem
          You can slice and dice electoral results any way you fancy. The fact is, the racist right is on the rise. I would prefer that this not be the case. I see that centrist parties are (a) losing ground across the west (b) still upholding faith in demand-side economics that create harsh conditions for many.
          “Obama has a high popularity rating” (isn’t this always the case for outgoing Presidents?) does not even begin to answer the need for an alternative to centrist politics other than the racist right.
          You can keep saying these people are good and pure and we should choose them. Or, you can consider that many are not choosing them.
          This is happening across the West. Simply saying that it should not happen is not going to stop it happening. I affirm your belief in the moral superiority of the Democratic Party, even if I do not share it. I ask you to think why this centrist parties, like all centrist parties across the West, have lost so much ground. And to let go your personal opinion that this should not happen and concede that it is happening. What are you going to do? Educate everyone in every Western nation to be better, or support a political movement that is not racist and may actually resonate with voters. Clinton, and all centrists who refuse to tackle economic equality, are unlikely to be your answer. But keep believing it if you wish.

          1. Helen, I never said nor even suggested that the Clinton’s don’t have ties tot he financial industry. They certainly do. I merely said that I do not believe – and nor is there any evidence for – your assertion that MOST of the business elite were pro-Clinton or pro-Democrat.

            And I agree that the Democrats have been centrist since 1992. I would merely argue that the Obama administration has made a start in leveling the economic playing field – through student loan reform, Obamacare, various regulations to prevent predatory behavior by financial institutions, and by encouraging minimum wage ballots, among other things…the list is substantial, and it makes Obama the most left-leaning American president in half a century.

            Now, was it enough? Of course not, but it was a start. Was it watered down for political expediency? Of course, and I hate that.

            But I can safely say that the Democrats WERE moving leftwards from centre compared with the days of the Clinton presidency, as seen by HRC’s changing positions – to the left – on many things. Believe her or not, the Democratic platform was the most socially and economically progressive in half a century. And they won the popular vote.

            On almost everything else, I agree with you. The centre is dead, for sure. The racist right is on the rise. And I agree with you that we need to tackle economic inequality – faster, with more strength – or we’ll keep seeing Trump-types win elections. But the Democrats will ALWAYS be better than the Republicans on this issue, and that’s why I’ll continue to support them in a two-party system with an anti-democratic electoral college and a system corrupted by money. Blow up the system, by all means, but Trump ain’t the guy.

            And not all presidents go out of office with high popularity ratings. Just look at the last one.

    2. I would also say that many people knew that Trump was full of shit. I can’t say how many of those who voted for him genuinely expected him to better their lot. But I don’t believe, unlike most of my media colleagues, that voters are completely naive and irrational.
      This interview in politico with a cynical and rational Trump voter is pretty good.
      Imagine you are, like many US citizens, in insecure labour. You have one candidate who doesn’t mention labour and who *just* turned around on the TPP and chose a running mate who was spruiking for the TPP five days before his selection and was the wife of the President who introduced NAFTA. You have another who is promising to bring jobs back. And this candidate actually describes how he’s going to do that. (It’s a myth Trump didn’t talk policy. He did.)
      Now, I think his chances of bringing back jobs that no longer exist are nil. Likely, this is the suspicion of many underemployed or insecurely employed people who voted for him. Or of the parents of persons about to enter a shitty labour market.
      Still. Who are you going to choose? The guy who talks about the labour market, or the gal who pretends it’s still “great”? Are you going to take a gamble on the bloke who says he might do something, or the candidate who assures you that she’s not going to do a thing? The one so conspicuously involved with the finance sector?
      I understand Clinton is a more tolerable person. But she promised nothing but continuity. Which is a bit silly when you consider the diminished circumstances of many Americans and the wild success Bernie Sanders enjoyed in actually talking about the finance sector.
      They screwed up. They handed a good part of the electorate to Trump. Apparently, they don’t care to reflect. Like many centrist parties across the west who are having power taken from them by a populist right that promises a worker focus.
      The only thing that beats this, as it has in Spain with Podemos and in Greece with Syriza, is open socialism. Clinton appealed to noble morals. Her refusal to talk about material lives deterred many. And, no, I don’t really think she’d be much better or worse than this vulgarian. Just. FFS. Have a look at what is happening across the west. If you keep appealing to a higher nature that many cannot afford to uphold, you get Le Pen. The centre will not hold. It’s not me saying this. It is what is actually happening.
      Socialism or barbarism. That’s our choice. Give up on the centre. It’s dying.

      1. The stat I covet above all others is the one that tells me how many people who were for the first time in I don’t know how long filled with actual systemic hope when Sanders was a potentiality, lost their shit and combusted and voted for Trump. It makes some kind of logical sense to me that if you are going to be fucked over, and fucked over, and fucked over, and then those who fuck you over snuff out the one candidate who dares to question it all and end the nightmare … well, may as do the only thing that seems logical when you know the system is dying in front of your eyes and chaos beckons and the super rich give not a fuck. May as well turn to Satan and give them the finger.

        Nice Politico piece. I read a really good piece yesterday in The Nation that refers to Hunter S Thompson’s book about the Hell’s Angels and which gives good insight into another subset of Trump voters.

        Sanders would have only been able to do so much. If he was President-elect right now, we’d be all feeling that sinking feeling of horror at how much it was all gonna stay the same, at how entrenched the whole fucking farce is.

        But the sinking feeling wouldn’t have been quite so benz-ey.

        (Although Lockheed Martin shares dropping is a really nice Xmas present)

      2. Some quality writing today, Helen. A pleasure to read, for both its clarity and reasoning. What would forward-looking socialism (rather than historically discredited statist socialism) look like though? Critically, would it be market based, or not? Would love to hear your thoughts on that some day.

        1. Yes Will. What is the Left’s economic alternative?

          The Left seems to be focussed on social issues, same sex marriage and the like. With unemployment at 16% in Townsville one of the big issues at the last Queensland Labor State conference was affirmative action for LGBTIQ.


      3. In the “Be Careful What You Wish For / Who You Vote For” category, this from the Washington Post, interviewing Debbie Mills, a Trump voter, on Obamacare:

        “I don’t know what we’ll do if it does go away,” Mills said. “I guess I thought that, you know, [Trump] would not do this. That they would not do this, would not take the insurance away. Knowing that it’s affecting so many people’s lives. I mean, what are you to do then if you cannot . . . purchase, cannot pay for the insurance?”

        Mills, who supported Trump for other reasons, figured Obamacare repeal was just talk. “I guess we really didn’t think about that, that he was going to cancel that or change that or take it away,” she said. “I guess I always just thought that it would be there. I was thinking that once it was made into a law that it could not be changed.”

    3. Another diatribe by someone who still doesn’t get it….you can carve the numbers up any way you wish – fact is, the U.S. election was a great example of how out of touch the establishment and the so-called ‘elites’ are – they dictate and pontificate and advise from their citadels and P.R. controlled studios about how we, the ordinary citizen should think, work, live and react – that they attempt to do so from such privileged, cossetted environments displays how little they know, understand or care for the common folk. The airwaves have been constantly filled since the result by ‘experts’ like Bill Maher and his bleeding-heart lefties, all madly trying to overturn public opinion with slogans like “I’m still here”….W.T.F.? Get over yourselves you elitist bunch of nobodies – what really gives you the shits is not that Trump won resoundingly, it’s that your comments and beliefs and values have simply been ignored, and that’s what really hurt’s don’t it…

      1. Yes. It’s curious, isn’t it. Even if one is attempting to say of the Democratic Party “I think this is the way you might not lose an election next time”, one is seen as a racist splitter.
        I mean, Seriously. Hillary, like many in her party, is seen by many people who face or reasonably fear personal financial insecurity as out-of-touch. This is largely because she is out-of-touch. This is not to say that Trump is in-touch. It is simply to say that he did a much better job of appearing that way.
        I have been making this argument for about six months now, and I usually receive variations on the “Why don’t you just go and tongue-kiss Putin?” theme.
        Jeez. I thought I was helping.

        1. Again, I don’t entirely disagree with either of you about the “establishment”. But then the lesson isn’t necessarily “move to the left”, but rather “make the Democratic candidate APPEAR more in touch”.

          And I don’t think that’s your goal, Helen.

          1. I don’t think we agree, and I think that you think that we can.
            Your “Obama, who deported more people than any previous president, extended surveillance laws, diluted his affordable healthcare plan, engaged in a proxy war at the expense of Syrian lives, created the conditions to make Americans angry enough to start Black Lives Matter (a great organisation provoked into being by a heedless government) and drafted the effing TPP, might appear “left-leaning” to you. He certainly seemed that way to me in 2008. But who cares? If there is no real reorganisation of wealth, i.e. genuine leftism, appearances don’t matter one jot.
            I truly fail to see how the Democratic Party is better than its other. The richest nation in the world has the greatest proportion of incarcerated persons in the world, does the most military damage to the rest of the world and spies on us all. And forces those who disclose this terrible latter fact into exile or suicide. WHat if “left” or even liberal about the treatment of Edward Snowden?
            Their time is done. They are not reflecting. I understand your nostalgic attachment. I still vote for the stupid Labor party. God knows why. But I think I Have given up justifying this intellectually. I recommend giving yourself a break and doing the same.

          2. The reason that “left-leaning” matters to me is that it has a material effect on my life, and many others that I know. The expansion of Medicare, the subsidies and access of Obamacare: both of these help the poorer while taxing the richer. Isn’t that what redistribution is all about?

            Snowden, spying, wars – yes, the US government has been awful under the watch of both parties. But on economic inequality, one is better than the other. That is all.

            In any case, I wouldn’t vote for the ALP; I’d vote Green, because Australians have a choice. I do not have that choice, so the Democrats remain my own.

  4. I’m a big fan of Aaron Sorkin. I love his sentimental fictive romps through an American culture that has mostly existed only in our romantic imaginations. I don’t think it’s fair to call his a “dull and sentimental” mind. Sentimental, yes, but not dull… the man knows how to craft a story better than most writers working today.

    But that is not why I’m commenting. I’m commenting to share a bit of drollery that perhaps you will appreciate. I linked to your column on my Facebook account with a note of appreciation. One of the early comments on that post was made by a fellow who literally (and if you’ll forgive my recursive drift here, I am using the word “literally” literally) was one of those who invented the Internet. And, no, it was not Al Gore. In any event, his comment chastised me for supporting what he thought to be your “unAmerican” opposition to the freedom of speech Jeb Bartlet and all demonstrated with their Public Service Announcement. I was tickled to point out that you were indeed not American and that your Australian background may have influenced your perspective. Thank you for the writing you do. You never fail to inform, to entertain, and even to persuade.

  5. Seriously, marky mark. The same marky mark who almost killed an immigrant, was found guilty, then had the nerve to ask that his record be expunged. You picked a very poor example of anything. Whatever point you thought you were making was lost the second you included him as an example of correct behaviour.

    1. I am aware of his criminal history. I do not think that this changes the quality of his observation, not made, to my knowledge, by another celebrity.
      If we were to limit references only to those who had lived good lives, we wouldn’t quote anyone at all.
      Seriously, though, You do understand that a quote is not an endorsement, right?

      1. Charles Barkley, a star professional basketballer prone to getting in the odd bar fight, also said something to Wahlberg when he said that sportsmen(rhetoric for either sex) are not/should not, be role models.

        I actually don’t mind someone like Lena Dunham speaking out for HRC, because it seems just an extrapolation of her creative work. The problem as I see it, resides in the receiver then conferring greater authority because it is attached to this celebrity appelation. The status of the person in this field, counts for naught.

    2. What the f*ck does his criminal history have to do with his observation? And where in the article does Helen present Wahlberg as an example of correct behaviour?

  6. It’d be great if the celebrities who could afford it just did NOTHING for the entire Trump Presidency. It’d be a much more effective protest than their speeches, videos, blah blah. No new Beyonce material, nothing from The Boss, from Jay Z….

    As is pointed out in this article – look at the entertainer arsenal Hilary had behind her. What good does it do when they open their mouths? Much better if they just shut them.

  7. I get the point about celebrities being out of touch but the ad’s message resonates somewhat. They make it clear that it’s not about electing Hilary. It’s about replacing Trump – now that he’s won the election – with someone more qualified to lead the nation.

    Strange as that may seem to us, Americans understand the concept of changing players mid game. Their (so called) football has one group to play Defense and a completely different group to play Offense

  8. we also had the australian celebs with Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

    what they did not realise, is any chance at the backchannel diplomacy was undermined with their grandstanding, and Tony Abbott’s grandstanding talking about “Aid” capital A.* to appeal to domestic constituents here, is how Joko had similarly to appeal to his domestic constituents, game-theory and all that jazz. Our politics, and our media, plus our celebs, condemned whatever chance Chan and Suku had. salient word, . condemned their chance. their chances may have been miniscule indeed.

    *asterisk is for Tones’ chest puffery[sic]. and threatening to shirtfront Putin. appealing to domestic audience as strongman.

  9. You do get a xmas card from me Helen; keep dragging that neo-liberal cat outta the bag! Unemployment ( as underemployment) in the US is around 47% and something like that here; In Europe its 57% I think, don’t have time to check the figures but its way worse than reported and automation is set to take about five million jobs in Australia over the next ten years. Go to and you can see the stats in a book there. Its free for anyone to download and written by an insider from IBM. It’s not a happy thing.

  10. The erosion of the US middle class and the upward mobility it implies has some very deep implications for western democracies. It was the lack of hope implicit in the’ steady as she goes’ Clinton promise that finished the Democrats. There is an invisible but very real ‘compact’ in play in successful market economies; everyone is ok if capital profits from its risks as long as it includes its stakeholders (workers) in its wealth creation while exhibiting reasonable behaviour in the process. Australia has a history of being pretty good at this (measured against the wealth gap between the highest and lowest earners), but we’ve lost ground in recent times. We need a mid-course correction or we’re headed down to Trumpsville.

  11. “ … ignores the decision of US voters.”

    Except for the fact that HRC scored millions more votes than Trump did. “Winner-take-all” in each state ain’t exactly granular, or particularly representative! Gimme Hare-Clarke any day.

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