Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Exclusive Katrina dish from savvy star!!

Well-known sex expert Liam Neeson (naturally I refer to his role as infamous child-diddler Alfred Kinsey, not to Neeson's pre-marital rep as one of Hollywood's hottest "horizontal mambo" kings) has weighed in on matters political regarding his adopted home country.

"I don't think the United States has experienced such a level of embarrassment in recent history as it has with [Katrina]." Cigars and genitalia, anyone? "The so-called leaders of the country are not leading. And now, there's this question of corruption. Of the millions in donations, how much money is really going to go to the people who need it?"

Excuse me? What "question of corruption?" Has anyone, in politics, in the media, in the refugee shelters, made a whisper of a suggestion that donations are being skimmed, diverted, or otherwise misused? Are we supposed to believe now that the Red Cross and the Sally Ann, and the literally hundreds of other charitable organizations and community outreach efforts that are doing the hard work on the ground, are somehow part of the Vast Rovian Right-Wing Conspiracy which robs all decent people of justice and prosperity?

Up here, from within the totally outer-space pampered elitist materialist psychedelic swirl of star-sucking sycophancy that is this and every other international film festival, comes the voice of one pretentious resident of the Hollywood cocoon, casting aspersions on the thousands of good Americans who have come to the aid of their neighbors in need, either because they have made a career in one of the organizations devoted full-time to social/medical care and support, or because they have temporarily laid aside their own private needs and concerns to lend a hand to those who have lost everything.

I'm reminded of that line from Dr. Zhivago uttered by the formidable Bolshevik house-matron in the wrecked mansion that Yuri enters upon his return to Moscow after the Revolution has begun. She sneers at him, as he is met by his wife, at what used to be the front door of Tonya's private residence, now overrun with the newly-housed proletariat-- and says, "There was room for twenty families in this house."

Wonder how many homeless families from New Orleans could fit into the Neeson/Richardson New York estate? Or how many could sleep comfortably in one of those absurd block-long white stretch limousines that cruised around us as we waited in line for the film première last night?

Nobody's suggesting that Neeson needs to take in refugees before he can have an opinion about the Katrina snafus. Nor is the federal government above criticism on this (though it is well down the list of villains after the state and municipal authorities, by any sane reckoning).

But Neeson has taken a baseless, vicious, irresponsible, cheap and lazy shot at those who are handling the generous private gifts of millions of Americans and others. The likelihood of corruption on the part of those taking in donations is, in fact, far less than it would be if that money were being parcelled out by the UN or the federal bureaucracy, precisely because it is flowing through smaller independent charitable organizations, the largest of which (probably the Red Cross) is still more compact and focused than any government body.

It is bad enough that someone totally uninvolved with the effort is spreading calumnies about those doing the job on the Gulf Coast. It is the more repugnant, though, when such drivel is issuing from a member of the pampered coterie at the eye of the hurricane of meaningless, rarified hot air that makes landfall in Toronto for a couple of weeks every September-- no wonder there is such a widespread reflex wish that these people would just shut up.

Of course they have as much right to an opinion as anybody else. But the microphone that affords them a public hearing is made accessible for reasons totally unrelated to expertise or the worth of their opinions. The rest of us are jealous, no doubt about it-- even if we're smarter than they are, few of us ordinary folk get to sound off in the newspapers or on television. If they could just keep their sanctimoniousness under wraps, the editorializing stars might be more tolerable, but if they're left-leaning (as most are) being sanctimonious is just part of the platform.

Not all of Hollywood is left. But it's interesting that the left is where all the preaching seems to come from, as well as the grandstanding photo-op charity, like Sean Penn's assinine attempt to bail out the "drowning" in New Orleans, only to be seen bailing out his sinking boat with a plastic cup. The Hollywood Right is small but gaining ground. Some of its reticence is a product of fear (for loss of livelihood in a dominant left-wing culture), but some of it comes from genuine humility.

Witness the low-profile but increasingly successful effort of Gary Sinise, who co-founded Operation Iraqi Children after visiting Iraq with the USO, and now devotes much of his time to fundraising (via concerts by the Lieutenant Dan Band) to bring school supplies and other necessaries to kids in Iraq. In the past week he mobilized his organization to raise money for kids displaced by Katrina. He doesn't waste his breath dumping on, or lavishing praise upon, the Bush administration-- he just sees a need and does actual work to try and fix it.

Right-wing radio babe Laura Ingraham wrote a book castigating the pretentious Hollywood preachers, called Shut Up and Sing. Gary Sinise does both, and needy kids are the beneficiaries (as are the American military, for whom he and his band perform regularly). Hey Liam-- know any Elvis Costello? Can you do Van Morrison covers? Give Gary a call. Maybe there's a way to make a USEFUL contribution.

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