Revising History, Moon Landing Edition

Revising History, Moon Landing Edition

A movie titled “First Man” is about to be released. It has been described as a “biopic” about Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. So the 1969 moon landing by Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin is presumably the high point of the film.

When Armstrong and Aldrin emerged from the moon lander, the first thing they did was to plant an American flag:

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The second was to receive a congratulatory telephone call from President Richard Nixon:

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“First Man” is being criticized for not showing the astronauts planting the American flag. I assume it also leaves out the Nixon phone call, but I don’t know that. The actor who plays Armstrong, Ryan Gosling, a Canadian, defends the film’s omission of the flag:

“I think this was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it,” he explained. “I also think Neil was extremely humble, as were many of these astronauts, and time and time again he deferred the focus from himself to the 400,000 people who made the mission possible.”

“So I don’t think that Neil viewed himself as an American hero,” he continued. “From my interviews with his family and people that knew him, it was quite the opposite. And we wanted the film to reflect Neil.”

But Neil’s first act was to unfurl the flag, so the film doesn’t reflect him.

We all know the biases that underlie Hollywood’s editorial decisions. There is no need to belabor that point here. What bothers me most about this incident is the rewriting of history. When most people watch “First Man,” they will assume that depictions of actual, historic events in the movie are accurate. If there is no flag in the film, it will not occur to them to wonder whether there was a flag in real life. If Armstrong is depicted in the movie as a citizen of the world, it will not occur to them to wonder whether in real life, he was an American patriot.

We see this transmutation of history in films all the time, often in more brazen forms. Oliver Stone made “JFK,” which depicts the crazed and despicable Jim Garrison as a hero and peddles absurd conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination. The movie “Truth” enacts a wholly false account of the Rathergate controversy, and portrays Mary Mapes, who tried to swing a presidential election by publishing smears against President Bush that she had good reason to know were false, as a heroine.

The problem with such fantasy productions is twofold. First, the lies always lean in the same direction. Hollywood changes history to promote left-wing narratives. Second, movies live on more or less forever. An insomniac businessman turns on the TV set in his hotel room. He scans the movies available for in-room viewing and comes across “Truth.” Hmm. Sounds interesting. He watches it. A young couple has decided to spend the evening chilling with Netflix. There is a film on a subject they have vaguely heard about, the Kennedy assassination, but about which they know nothing: “JFK.” They watch it.

Hollywood’s lies are forever. As time goes by, and fewer people remember the truthful version of events, their capacity to deceive probably grows rather than diminishing. “First Man” represents a more subtle deceit than “JFK” or “Truth,” but it is deceit nonetheless.


70-year US military suppliers sentenced for selling Chinese combat boots as US-made

70-year US military suppliers sentenced for selling Chinese combat boots as US-made

Five company executives were sentenced after fraudulently mislabeling military combat boots with falsified country of origin labels.

Vincent Lee Ferguson, 66, of Knoxville, Tennessee was sentenced to at least 30 months in a federal prison for fraud after importing boots from China, relabeling them as USA-made, and selling them. He is the former president and chief executive officer of the principal boot making company for the U.S. military, Wellco Enterprises, Inc., Military Times reported.

Five individuals were indicted, including the former Senior Vice President of Sales Matthew Lee Ferguson, 41, and former Director of Marketing and Communications, Kerry Joseph Ferguson, 36, who were also sentenced to six months in prison last June for the same crime. Two others received probation.

Wellco Enterprises, Inc. has supplied combat boots to the Department of Defense for more than 70 years. Between 2006 and 2012 alone, the DoD spent more than $138 million on the boots.

U.S. military uniforms and accessories must be manufactured in the United States, a requirement under the Berry Amendment.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee said that Ferguson and his accomplices started the Chinese import scheme in December 2008 and continued through August 2012, selling more than $8.1 million of boots during that time.

The indictment filed in U.S. District Court states that the manufacturer in China was instructed to include “USA” on the label of Wellco boot uppers that were then shipped to the U.S.

They were also ordered to remove the “Made in China” tags and to allow the soles of the boots to be attached at Wellco’s plant in Morristown, Tennessee.

Ferguson and two others pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Two others pleaded guilty to smuggling goods into the U.S. One other executive pled guilty to aiding and abetting the altering of country of origin marks, according to their plea agreements, The Charlotte Observer reported.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection confiscated two shipments of the fake combat boots that were preparing for shipment, all of which contained the manufacturer’s tear away “Made in China” tags.

Defense Criminal Investigative Service Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Robert Hammer, said: “Falsely selling our military millions of dollars of combat boots by saying they were ‘Made in the USA’ when they are actually Chinese-knockoffs not only defrauds the government, but also defrauds the American soldier. Our soldiers rely on their equipment, from their guns to their boots, to protect this country, and counterfeit products could fail at a moment when they need them the most.”

Bill Clinton and Others Really Enjoyed Ariana Grande’s Performance At Aretha Franklin’s Funeral

Bill Clinton and Others Really Enjoyed Ariana Grande’s Performance At Aretha Franklin’s Funeral

Ariana Grande performs during the funeral service for Aretha Franklin at Greater Grace Temple, Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, in Detroit. Franklin died Aug. 16, 2018 of pancreatic cancer at the age of 76. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Today, Aretha Franklin’s funeral was celebrated in Houston, Texas and the main entertainment attraction was pop singer Ariana Grande. I’m vaguely familiar with Ariana Grande because I have two teenage daughters. I’m not a fan of her singing. But her unique selling proposition really isn’t her voice.

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She got a lot of criticism for the way she was dressed.

The church is often one place where dress codes matter. A butt-skimming mini skirt will get you ushered to a back pew, where someone’s grandmother hands you a coat to put over your legs.

Someone forgot to tell Ariana Grande about appropriate funeral attire at Friday’s services for Aretha Franklin. She wore a black mini-dress that hit inches above mid-thigh.

Well, actually just inches below the butt.

Yes, the lines of appropriateness are blurred with casual dress codes. And Grande is a young pop star who relies on revealing clothing to help sell her music and image. She frequently wears mini dresses onstage.

But conservative attire is traditionally the uniform at most places of worship, especially a church with deep roots like Franklin’s. It’s not the place for ultra-short miniskirts, plunging necklines, sagging pants or really anything you wear to bed or to a club.

It’s even more conservative at a funeral, which is why Grande’s mini dress is so out of place and inappropriate. Youth is no excuse in this case. She could have dropped the skirt a few inches and been OK. It would have been appropriate and still looked youthful.

Is that true? I don’t even know anymore.

What was certain was that Grande’s performance was appreciated by the guests of honor.

Al Sharpton is no slouch when it comes to music appreciation, either.

And there is this bit of awkwardness. Keep your eyes of Ariana Grande’s facial expression and the good reverend’s right hand.

Great performance. Appreciative audience. A totally memorable event.

Road rage video: Woman smashes bus, runs over driver to get away

Road rage video: Woman smashes bus, runs over driver to get away

It’s Friday so how about a break from politics so we can take a look at this insane road rage video shot yesterday in Washington, DC. DCist reports on what happened just before the camera started rolling:

The interaction began around 6 p.m. on Thursday when the driver of a gold Audi tried to aggressively pass in front of the Greyhound, apparently sideswiping a Volvo in the process, according to a police report. At a traffic light at the intersection of Bladensburg Road and Montana Avenue, the driver of the Volvo confronted the Audi driver and an argument ensued, police said. The bus driver apparently got involved, too.

“You’re a crazy driver, you need to get off the road,” the bus driver told the woman, according to the police report. The police narrative continues: the Audi driver pulled out a baseball bat out of her trunk and proceeded to crack the bus windshield; then she went back to her trunk, grabbed a car jack, and starting hitting the driver’s side of the bus.

And then all hell breaks loose. Not only does she smash the bus with the metal jack, she then tries to flee the scene in her Audi. But because the bus driver is standing in front of her car, she can’t leave. So she runs him over, not once but several times. Note some NSFW language in this clip:

Three people’s behavior here strikes me as very off. First, the woman in the Audi has completely lost it, obviously. She decided vandalism wasn’t enough and escalated to hit and run. This seems like someone who should a) go to jail for hit and run and b) lose their license for a long time.

Second, the bus driver is nuts. Later in the clip, people ask why he keeps getting in front of a car that has already tried to mow him down, he says, “She was going to get away with it!” That would be awful but still better than being dead! Seriously, how many encounters with a 4,000-pound car does this older man think he has in him? Not to mention that he must have had her license plate number by that point. Get out of the way and let the police handle it.

Third, after the first time the driver runs into the bus driver, the person filming runs out to stop her. But another guy runs up to defend her saying, “You don’t need to put your hands on her.” Really, dude? She just hit someone with a car, intentionally. Maybe don’t worry about her safety so much. Maybe he was an embarrassed boyfriend but if so he should have pulled her away from the car to prevent her fleeing the scene and committing additional crimes. She would have thanked him later.

As you can see from the tweet above, the driver has been identified. DCist reports she has been charged with, “‘leaving after colliding – property damage,’ ‘assault with a dangerous weapon,’ and ‘destruction of property.’”


GoFundMe for homeless vet raises $400k, creators keep most of it

GoFundMe for homeless vet raises $400k, creators keep most of it

A woman set up a GoFundMe account last October to raise money for a homeless vet who gave her his last $20 for gas to get home when she ran out on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia.

Kate McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, wanted to show their appreciation to Johnny Bobbitt for saving the day, so they set up the GoFundMe, CBS 6 News reported.

They raised a total of $402,706 within nine months for Bobbitt, but he has not seen most of the money.

Bobbitt’s lawyer Chris Fallon said: “From what I can see, the GoFundMe account raised $402,000 and GoFundMe charged a fee of approximately $30,000. Mark D’Amico and Kate McClure gave Johnny about $75,000. There should be close to another $300,000 available to Johnny.”

Fallon and attorney Jacqueline Promislo are trying to secure a guardian to manage the raised money so the 14,000 contributors know where their donations went, and the lawyers will work towards getting it back.

GoFundMe misuse is uncommon, but the crowdfunding website “is looking into the claims regarding this campaign.”

They released a statement: “When there is a dispute, we work with all parties involved to ensure funds go to the right place. We will work to ensure that Johnny receives the help he deserves and that the donors’ intentions are honored.”

With the raised funds, Bobbitt was supposed to get a house, but instead, the couple bought him a camper and parked it in their New Jersey driveway.

Bobbitt wanted to go home to North Carolina where he would have more resources available to him. This is when problems arose between Bobbitt and McClure.

Bobbitt’s lawyer said: “He had no access to money or food while living in the camper or the ability to take care of himself there.”

McClure and D’Amico bought a truck that was supposed to belong to Bobbitt, however, the couple drove the truck which eventually broke down.

The couple, who has been unavailable for comment, said in an earlier interview that Bobbitt suffers from a drug addiction. They said they have given Bobbitt at least half of what was raised and are holding the remaining funds until he is employed and drug-free.

Fallon confirmed his client’s drug problem and said, “It’s not heroin or opioids but another drug problem.”

D’Amico said he oversees the money and he defends withholding the money from Bobbitt. He compares giving such a large amount of money to an addict to that of giving someone a loaded gun.

The couple purchased a brand new BMW and vacationed in California, Florida and Las Vegas since the money was raised, but claim they didn’t spend any of the raised money.

Bobbitt, who is a North Carolina native, studied nursing and was a former paramedic, firefighter, and U.S. Marine. He currently lives on the streets in Philadelphia.

Bobbitt allegedly completed a methadone program and detoxed himself.