Search Box

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Obama and Sony stand firm against tyranny

Sony Pictures -- urged on by President Obama -- announced yesterday that it will not cave to threats of terrorism and will release The Interview in 200 independent movie theaters on Christmas day.

All of Hollywood was up in arms about having their artistic output censored by Kim Jong Un. The prevailing attitude in Tinseltown was, if the little dictator can't take a joke, that's his problem. We're a free society, even if they don't understand this in a benighted place like North Korea!

Even George Clooney took up the cause, denouncing North Korea and sticking up for his pals at Sony.

But isn't this the same George Clooney who got incensed at a reporter who referred to Obama as "Obama" a few years ago and gave the reporter an earful about how it was disrespectful not to refer to "President Obama?"

All of which leads me to wonder, what if Sony had made a movie -- even a lighthearted comedy -- about assassinating Obama, and at the end of the movie Obama's head had exploded?

Would the same people who are so adamantly insisting we stick up for freedom of expression be voicing the same opinions?

As it was, plenty of people in our country tut-tutted when Amy Pascal of Sony and producer Scott Rudin, in a series of private emails, made a few harmless jokes about Obama's probable taste in movies.

After that was made public, Pascal had to beg for absolution from that pillar of moral rectitude, Al Sharpton. (That was really the only truly funny joke that came out of that episode.)

Question: did George Clooney feel that his friend Amy Pascal was being "disrespectful" by implying that Obama's taste in movies might be limited to black-themed movies? Pascal certainly did not refer to our leader as "President Obama" in that exchange.

It was noteworthy that Obama said that Sony had made a mistake during that same week that he himself knuckled under to another communist dictator, Raul Castro. Obama restored full diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba in return for the exchange of Alan Gross, an American who should never have been imprisoned by Cuba in the first place, and an American spy. (Cuba also got three of their spies back.)

The Castros have long occupied a fond place in the hearts of American leftists. Perhaps it's because they have never hesitated to put any of their Cuban critics in jail. Perhaps it's because Fidel sent us a batch of his most incorrigible prisoners in the Mariel boat lift. Perhaps it's because he has long aided Colombian cartels who wanted to use his island as a waystation for their drug dealing operations, and has managed to amass a tidy fortune of $200 million for himself while heading his socialist paradise.

I must admit, I'm a little confused by all these goings on. Is kowtowing to communist dictators a good thing, or a bad thing? Is freedom of speech and mocking national leaders a cherished American value, or not?

After this past week, I just don't know what to think.


Anonymous said...

I am a little confused about some things too. So N. Korea hacks a private company and makes their internal Email public, because their leader is so sensitive and childish that he cannot tolerate a spoof comedy where he is the butt of the joke. Then President Obama personally promises some sort of undisclosed retaliation against N Korea. Over this? Wow. I suppose I can see the desire to prevent 'hack' based terror or blackmail. But this particular instance would seem to be one to let blow over.

A friend related an article in the Wall Street Journal advocating the use of banking restrictions to bring the N Korea regime to its knees - over this hack. Apparently Bush had been using this tactic but pulled back when N Korea made some sort of promise of concession (I assume for their nuclear program, at the time).

But my question is this - how much does the US want to provoke this nuclear armed country ruled by a leader with the ego of a 10 year old?

Along the same lines - Russia is a nuclear armed country capable of reducing the US to ash. Throughout the US cold war with the USSR, the US tread VERY lightly, and fear of nuclear destruction was constantly in the air. The toughest president of my lifetime, Reagan, never intervened when the USSR put down various rebellions in Eastern Europe, and pursued and arms race to bring down the regime instead.

Now the US openly taunts Russia, inflicts serious economic pain through sanctions and bank transaction rules. The US feels that we can intervene in conflicts much closer to the Russian homeland than the Eastern Europe that Reagan wouldn't dare get involved with.

How brazen and unconstrained US policy has become. Does this country not think that our relentless interventionism all around the world is never going to result in a coalition of enemies that can inflict some serious harm against us? Have we forgotten that any country ought to pick its battles very cautiously and carefully, limiting them only to those absolutely critical to our national interest?

- Ed

John Craig said...

Ed --
You make a lot of good points about our priorities and which fights are worth fighting. In defense of this administration -- something I generally don't like to do -- I think we can say that the administration's reaction was to the threat that N. Korea made about bombing movie theaters which would show the film, not just the hacking. I agree the hacking alone is not worth picking a huge fight over. (And so far,their reaction seems to have been proportionate: it looks as if they cut off North Korea' internet.)

I agree that we're playing with fire with their loose cannon of a leader.

With Reagan, it was all about realpolitik. With Obama, it's all about posturing. Obama does things like draw a linen the sand that Syria shouldn't cross, then, when they cross it, he does nothing. it's all about "leading from behind," as if there is such a thing, and putting off hard decisions until they become irrelevant. It's about taking credit for the bin Laden raid, when he reportedly said no to it three times (on the advice of Vaierie Jarrett) before finally agreeing to it. it's about confiding to Dmitri Medvedev that he'll have "more flexibility" after the upcoming election. He views his biggest enemies not as any foreign powers, but as the conservatives back home. But that's the leftist mentality.

And you're right: for us to dictate to Russia what it can and cannot do in the Ukraine would be the equivalent of Russia telling us what we can and cannot do vis-a-vis Mexico.

That said, I actually don't think US policy has become that unconstrained under this administration. Obama has refrained from getting us involved in situations that some of the neocons would have gotten us into. I'm glad we didn't get involved in Syria, at least in a bots-on-the-ground way, even though it was embarrassing that Obama made that line in the sand comment. I'm glad we didn't lead the fight in Libya. I'm glad we haven't yet put soldiers on the ground in Iraq.

I agree, though, that our only battles should be those which affect our national interest, not battles where we want to interfere for ideological reasons.

Steven said...


a point about North Korea: they have a nuclear warhead but they probably don't have the capability to mount it on a missile that can deliver it long range. Imagine living in a world where N Korea genuinely has the ability to reduce major US cities to ash.

Happy Christmas to all. The children of affluent South Korea will be waking up to presents about now.

Steven said...

Sorry in advance if I forgot to delete the space on my post! I have a horrible feeling there is a big one.

John Craig said...

Steven --
No problem. Merry Christmas.