Epiphanyblog

All about ideas…

Fulfilling the Dream of America

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As a pragmatic Democratic, I don’t care if your hail from the left, right or sideways. What I do care about it is my country and her people. For decades, we’ve accepted policies that put Wall St and capital over workers; that bailed out Wall St but neglected workers and home owners; that penalized bit players while letting the world-class con artists go free; that put large corporations ahead of average working middle and working class people and small businesses.

It’s time to change all that.

But none of that will change until the GOP is entirely, in every state and Congress. are voted out of office. As during the Great Depression, they must be shown that their ideas, policies and legislation does not support average working families but puts Wall St, large corporations, and the very wealthy ahead at the forefront of their policy decisions. It doesn’t have to be this way. What American workers suffer now, from stagnant wages to bankrupting health care costs to financially destructive education costs, at a time when education is vitally important to succeed, are the direct result of policies put in place, primarily by Republicans.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

When Teddy Roosevelt (R-NY) entered the NY State House, he looked around and saw legislation and legislators being bought or bribed. He wrote in his autobiography that legislators succumbed to accepting money from those companies seeking to influence legislation in their own favor or legislators blackmailing companies via their votes that could negatively affect those companies. Although many companies complained about the blackmail, few knew how to fight it. Nevertheless, all of the legislative process was to the benefit of the politicians and not the people.

TR had a strong ethical nature. Although he grew up physically weak, he developed an ideal of what it meant to be strong…not just physically but also intellectually and morally. As a candidate for VP, many thought he would come round to their corporate thinking. However, as president, he proved them wrong. TR was a strong believer in capitalism, but he recognized that unless capital (ie Wall St & large investors today) was restrained from its worst impulses, the masses would rise up to destroy capitalism.

As a result, he pushed through measures in Congress that restrained unbridled capitalism and brought not only transparency to elected officials campaign finances but also measures to prohibit the kinds of bribery he saw as a NY legislator. He sought a fair capitalism that worked for employees as well as owners.

Some thirty years later, TR’s cousin, FDR assumed the role as the President of the US during the worst economic crises of the 20th Century, but it had been preceded by numerous equally bad crises during the previous century of unbridled capitalism. FDR actually was far from what today is considered left-wing. He was a confirmed capitalist, but he recognized as did his cousin, TR, that when the financial rules of the road were dismantled, chaos reigns. At the height of the Great Recession, economist El-Erian, then the Chief Economist of PIMCO, wrote that financial rules are as important as highway rules of the road. That without those rules, chaos would ensue as drivers would push others off into ditches, cause crashes, and drive recklessly in pursuit of their own agendas, regardless of the havoc they caused.

When you set back or view from forty thousand feet, you can see his advice works throughout an economy. The rules of the road allow everyone to get to their own chosen destination.

What FDR did….

FDR, as a result of the unbridled speculation of Wall St that caused he Great Depression (and the recent Great Recession), worked hard to break to choke hold that Wall St and wealthy capital had over the economy. He instituted every program he thought might help to put the economy back on its feet again. Some worked, as in the Ag Dept farming policies, and some failed. But through it all he maintained that whatever was good for average workers would benefit America as a whole and maintain capitalism as a founding principle of the US.

While FDR policies didn’t save the country…

His policies did prevent the economy from becoming worse. Gradually, the bread lines shortened and the number of teens, like my own father, riding the rails diminished. People found work again, even if they were jobs the government created like the magnificent public works projects that still serve the nation.

WWII highlighted the need for Equality

Jump forward to the Truman Administration. Accepting the founding principle that “All men are created equal”, Truman fully integrated the Armed Forces, perhaps because he recognized the tremendous efforts and sacrifices non-whites showed during WWII. His bravery caused all non-white groups to say, “Hey, we’re Americans too and deserving of equal rights”, from voting to where to live to the places we can eat and our job opportunities.

Republican President Eisenhower accepted that challenge.

I don’t know Eisenhower’s personal views on Civil Rights. However, given his WWII experience, it might be fair to say he saw the exceptional bravery of all minorities in fighting against foes who would have slaughtered them solely based on their ethnicity or religion or culture. Possibly as a result of that experience, he and the military command tried to change the racial, ethnic and religious divides that plagued the United States.

What it was like in the Deep South…

In the 1950s, a white person could not drive down a primary Black community street in a Southern town without seeing conversations suddenly stop and children freezing in place, with fear written on everyone’s faces. Their fear was beyond palpable. It reflected their reality: that at any moment any one of them could or would be strung up on a tree branch to die simply because of the color of their skin and the underlying desire for white supremacy.

White people had any number of excuses for their long-held belief that they were superior: Blacks were lazy, even though they worked 12 to 14 hours a day;  Blacks had inherent diseases, a common myth of the “other” to incite fear; Blacks cheated and stole, although no more true than for Whites; Blacks were undependable and drunkards, another common myth, specifically designed to denigrate them; and perhaps worst of all, Blacks were of lesser intelligence, even though their educations and educational opportunities were all too often undeniably inferior. All of these myths and delusions were handed down from one generation to the next, with few questioning them.

Thus the racism and xenophobia continued….

In the 1970s, long after the Civil Right Amendment was ratified, this still held true in primarily Southern towns and military bases. In Ft Knox, KY, in 1969, Black children were still segregated and sent to different schools from white children, although they lived in the same military housing complexes, just doors away from each other. And where white children who befriended neighboring Black children were labeled as traitors and much worse.

Both Nixon and Reagan could have stopped the racism and xenophobia, had they chosen. But both chose political expediency over moral values. Picking up lingering Dixiecrat and George Wallace voters to win was more important than the belief that “all men (i.e. people) are created equal.”

Now fast forward to the 2000s. The GOP, especially under the influence of Newt Gingrich took full advantage of these splits in America to promote himself, regardless of the harm he caused to the Republic.

Regardless of Nixon’s and then Reagan’s “Southern White strategy” that specifically sought to drive Dixiecrat Democrats into the Republican party – a feat it did extremely well after the Johnson’s Civil Rights Act and the widespread expansion across America of Movement Conservatism after the Goldwater presidential loss which took much of its ideology from John Birchers – the election of Newt Gingrich to Speaker of the House drove a spike into the heart of reality. As Speaker, Gingrich proclaimed that anyone who was not Republican was an enemy of the people; that all Democrats were communists who aligned with the USSR; that Democrats were enemies of the nation, and that no malignant name for Democrats was beyond the bounds. Once he became Speaker, he proceeded to end every office that provided the House with accurate scientific and government data because those non-partisan adjunct committees did not suit his own partisan grasp for power. As a result of that and other power grabs, he left House legislators without institutional knowledge. Thus, information was outsourced to lobbyists.

About the same time, Mitch McConnell, now the Senate Republican Leader, began an all out drive to overturn all of TR’s rulings on transparency and fairness in political donations. He not only sought to hide who was giving massive donations, he actively fought for the right of political, and more importantly corporate, donors to have 1st Amendment rights of free speech. This idea is totally against everything TR believed; yet, it has been accepted orthodoxy by today’s Republican party. TR would be turning over in his grave at how much McConnell betrayed his values. Mind you, it’s only been 100 years since corporations were handed any rights beyond the need of the company to manage litigation. Prior to then, the framers feared the monetary and influence power companies might use to pervert democracy in their favor and away from the rest of the people.

Reducing the power of the people.

In the 1930s, as a result of the Great Depression, FDR, via Congress, instituted a number of policies meant to help working class people. The SCOTUS at the time, also known as the Lockner Court, rejected many, if not most, of those legislative ideas. They put the wishes of corporate owners well ahead of workers. It was only after FDR lost his battle to expand the SCOTUS – and recognizing their own unpopularity – that the SCOTUS changed their rulings to allow the programs FDR put in place to be ruled Constitutional. Today, we are in this same place with a Court that for decades now has put the voice of corporations above the voices of average citizens, Yet, if you go back to read what the founders wrote, they all maintained that “corporate” power was anathema to good governance.

There are chapters upon chapters of so-called conservatives seeking to silence the voices of middle and working class people throughout the 1800s. Some succeeded, as with the Midwest demand for Silver coinage of the 1800s in order to break the strangle-hold of Wall St on farmers and small businesses. And others failed. But what must be acknowledged is that Americans, by large majorities, sought to create a better, more just and fair nation than they inherited.

Today’s Republican party chooses to unwind those hard-fought battles at every level for the sake of partisan power. The Framers understood that kind of greed and often wrote about its corrosive effects. Their letters, speeches, and newspaper articles often spoke to and align with the same concerns that Democrats raise today.

Returning to long held American values

We live in a far different world that the Framers could ever imagined. But one thing rings true from all their writings and still holds true today: all people regardless of race, creed, culture, religion, or ethnicity deserve equal rights and treatment under the law.

Lest we forget, the Declaration of Independence said: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We must again take these words as a sacred duty to uphold for all Americans and seek to create a nation where those unalienable rights are within the grasp of every American, regardless of race, creed, ethnicity, religion, gender, or culture. If all those people were good enough for Thomas Jefferson to invite here, for James Madison to declare they needed equal protections, for John Adams to defend, they are good enough for us too.

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Written by Valerie Curl

July 31, 2018 at 10:00 PM

Season of double roles…

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One actor, two characters

The 2018 season of Korean dramas features several dramas in which one actor plays two character roles.

More often than not the characters are related as in the Good Witch. In this drama, Lee Da Hae plays twin sisters, Cha Do Hee and Cha Sun Hee. The two identical twins are not only by divided by personalities but also by ambition. Cha Do Hee, scared by her family’s misfortune, becomes not only ambitious but also greedy.

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Meanwhile her meeker twin, Sun Hee, finds herself continuously being taken advantage of by her husband and co-workers. When Da Hae becomes hospitalized, Sun Hee impersonates her so Da Hee won’t lose her job. In the process of impersonating Da Hae, Sun Hee learns how to stand up for herself and create a new life even as Da Hae learns her greed fails her.

Another doppelgänger, and entirely different, theme is Switch. In this drama, Jang Keun Suk plays the dual role of Baek Joon Su and Sa Do Chan. Although the two look identical, they are both unrelated and completely different in personality. Beak Joon Su graduated from a prestigious university and went on to become a Prosecutor. He absolutely believes in the strict letter of law and doing everything by the book. But his serious, somewhat introverted, personality prevents him from developing many personal relationships among his co-workers and occasionally hinders him from achieving his goal. Sa Do Chan, on the other hand, possesses an entirely different personality and mindset. He’s extroverted, playful, devious, and employs his genius level intelligence to outwit his opponents.

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Although Do Chan studied to become a prosecutor, a personal event prevented him from taking the final exam. Instead he used his knowledge of the law to scam crooks and corrupt officials. When Baek Joon Su becomes seriously injured in a set-up auto accident, Prosecutor Oh Ha Ra deviously enlists Sa Do Chan to fill in for Baek Joon Su to solve a major drug, murder and graft case involving several government officials.

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But a new double role theme comes with the drama Wok of Love. Lee Mi Sook plays the dual role of Jin Jung Hye, the privileged wife of a bank CEO charged with fraud and mother of the female lead, Dan Sae Woo (Jung Ryeo Won).

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In addition, Lee plays an old woman peddler who watches over the life and doings of the third leading character, Doo Chil Seong, played by Jang Hyuk. Chil Seong, an ex-gang leader, befriends and becomes partners with Seo Poong in his restaurant start-up while helping Seo Poong thwart his nemeses.

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What makes Lee Mi Sook’s dual role interesting is that, opposed to other dual character roles, her two characters in Wok of Love look and act nothing alike. Jin Jung Hye, while suddenly poor, remains a glamorous, beautiful woman while her unnamed older woman character is anything but glamorous.

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The older woman’s face shows several age caused brown spots; her hair is grayed and in disarray; and not a few of her teeth are blacked out. She is, by all appearances, a total mess! Still, somehow, she commands respect from Chil Seong, his gang of thugs, and eventually Dan Sae Woo and Seo Poong.

Nevertheless, this old woman plays a pivotal role in bringing all three of the important characters together and helping them solve their most pressing, immediate problems. Only later in the drama is it revealed that she is the mother of Chil Seong.

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Regardless, what makes Lee Mi Sook’s double character role in Wok of Love unique from all other doppelgänger roles this season is her playing two entirely different characters from highly divergent social classes and appearances. One from wealth while the other from apparent extreme poverty. Yet, Lee pulls off the dual roles with exceptional dexterity and believability.

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Lee Min Sook’s resume spans almost four decades in both film and drama as she continues to work almost non-stop. Moreover, she’s won the MBC Drama Awards Best actress for Money Flower, the MBC Drama Awards Golden Actress for Miss Korea/Shining Romance/Rosy Lovers, and the KBS Drama Awards for You Are the Best.

Written by Valerie Curl

June 16, 2018 at 6:26 PM

It’s said there’s nothing new in this world…

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Korean Drama: What’s the Matter with Secretary Kim

There’s no question I’m a fan of Korean actor Jang Keun Suk. I’ve watched all of his dramas and films dating back to his early years as far as the internet permits. Even in his adolescent roles, he exhibited outstanding ability as an actor, whether the project required comedy or serious drama.

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So, what does Jang Keun Suk have to do with Secretary Kim?

Allow me to explain. The male lead in Secretary Kim is a self-centered, intelligent, ego-centric, handsome chaebol. When he looks in the mirror, he can’t help but admire himself. He sees himself as someone superior to almost all other men. Moreover, he literally cannot fathom anyone, especially a woman, rejecting him.

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Thus, when his long time secretary, whom he completely relies upon, tells him she’s resigning, he sets out to change her mind, even though he’s utterly clueless regarding other people’s emotions and feelings.

Although she explains in detail why she’s resigning, he is incapable of understanding because he’s so oblivious to what makes other people tick. Thus, each time she refuses to succumb to his wishes, he grows more and more frustrated. He even resorts to an offer of marriage that she promptly, and in detail, refuses. Unwilling and emotionally unable to accept her decision, he resorts, in secret, to having her complete questionnaire of her likes, dislikes and wishes. Using that gleaned information, he tricks her into an evening date. But again, although both their emotions are changing, she still refuses to succumb to him.

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Bringing this back to Jang Keun Suk, the lead character in Secretary Kim, played by Park Seo-Joon, is an absolute riff on the character Jang Keun Suk played in Bel Ami (aka Beautiful Man). His poses, his walk, his smile…everything…are perfect copies of Jang Keun Suk’s characterization of Dokgo Ma-Te in the early episodes of Bel Ami.

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While watching the first four episodes of Secretary Kim, I found myself not only grinning at Park Seo-Joon’s characterization of Lee Yeong Joon but also wondering if he watched Jang Keun Suk in Bel Ami to model his character.

 

 

It’s said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I think that may well be the case with Lee Yeong Joon, whether Park Seo-Joon meant it or not.

Written by Valerie Curl

June 14, 2018 at 9:39 PM

Film Can Change the World…

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And Produce Better Outcomes

 

I hardly know where to start or what to write coherently. I have so many thoughts running through my mind as a result of my studies of history and my current fondness for So. Korea and love of its people as well as the current American political scene that I hardly know where to begin.

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I guess I should start off by saying that I will never forgive Obama, Geithner, and Holder for allowing all the banksters who perpetrated the 2008 financial meltdown. Those bankers, both those who headed their financial companies and those who conned the public, should have been held responsible, regardless of how long the investigation continued. I lost a quarter million dollars in my retirement funds as a result of financial institutions greed and lies at a time when I was nearly ready to retire. I’ve never recovered. As a society, we should never have stood for what happened to us at the hands of a bunch of greedy, amoral bankers. As a Democratic voter, I can honestly say Obama’s Admin was wrong!

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If I’d been younger, I might have recovered…but at 61 already? Not bloody likely. Added to my anger and frustration were the actions of Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker Boehner following the passage of the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Bill. The bill itself was relatively meek, but Wall St, nevertheless, hated it because it required them to be more responsible for their actions, ie. larger reserve amounts, better reporting, etc. Hoping to win major donations from Wall St. firms, McConnell and Boehner went to Wall St. They specifically said we’ll overturn Dodd-Frank if you donate to the Republican Party. Pure quid-pro-quo.

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Republican Teddy Roosevelt, the first progressive president, witnessed the political corruption that infected politics. He wrote in his autobiography his experience in the NY Legislature, looking around at his fellow lawmakers either bribing companies for funds (if you don’t give to me, I’ll vote for this bill against you) or being blackmailed (if you don’t vote as we want, we’ll use our resources to defeat you). As a result of his changing views, TR believed the entire system…among many other areas of the economy to benefit workers…needed to be reformed. Although a firm believer in capitalism, he understood that the rules of road could and would be violated by greedy miscreants which could and would create revolution as they had in Europe. For example, he brought into being monopoly laws that stopped the consolidation of entire industry sectors into the hands of one or two companies. Moreover, he grasped that capitalism could not survive if workers revolted against the entire system as a result of their poor treatment by companies.

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He understood what Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, wrote in his two books. Being a great reader, he also understood the theses of Edmund Burke. Using both of their ideas, he set about changing American society in a way that reduced greed as well as increased workers’ ability to demand respect for their labor, working conditions, and lives. History books and writers of that era filled libraries with the conflicts of workers against greedy employers…and newspapers of that era were filled with reports of the failure of employers to protect workers.

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All of this leads us to what occurred prior to the last election in So. Korea. Many commentators stated that So. Koreans were so used to corruption that they, by the millions, weren’t holding protest vigils against the corruption of the Park Administration so much as its incompetency. Nevertheless, So. Koreans voted en masse against the conservative government led by Park. Since Moon Jae-In became president, he and his government have worked tirelessly to root out corruption, bribery, and influence buying. I applauded the Moon Administration for its efforts, even as I worried that the change in Administrations signaled another governmental purge that became almost institutionalized throughout Korea’s [Joseon’s} history. But the Moon Administration, thus far, has proven itself to stand by the rule of law (most of which accords to and has been adopted from the USA). In previous generations, those who had money and power could bend the law in their favor. But, I posit, the modern Korean dramas helped changed that dynamic.

Modern Korean dramas highlight, even as a subtext, the corruption of a system that failed to protect ordinary people in favor of the greedy and wealthy. I must add that greed as defined by Korean culture is not just greed for money but also greed for power, prestige, influence, recognition, and overwhelming personal and ego driven desire. Thus, the dramas highlighted the conflict between honest, compassionate people against corrupt, greedy people. In every case, greedy people failed in their schemes, even with the often painful help of their children to overthrow the evil greed of their fathers and family. The essence is that honor and respect for everyone wins over selfish greed, regardless of whether the drama was a historical drama or a modern drama.

What is little noted is how that subtext of continuous and historic corruption has influenced So. Koreans thinking today. In the 1930s, Hollywood produced many movies plainly showing how the corruption on Wall St, added and abetted by government, led to the Great Depression and its’ devastating affects on average Americans. As a result, Americans were broadly supportive of FDR’s policies, including Ronald Reagan.

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That is not the case today. While So. Korea dramas, especially over the last decade, exhibit how greed affected its’ society and eventually changed how people thought, American TV has perpetuated the comic book myth of a strong leader who would save society from the bad guys. Pure insanity!

There is no strong man who will save average Americans from the depredations of a greedy, self-serving corporate America and their abettors in Congress, much less bring justice to all. Super Man, Batman, and all the other comic book heroes are pure myths. The only thing that will save America is the hard work of rooting out greed in all its forms…and returning the nation to its roots: a nation founded on the belief that governments are “for and by the people”. Yes, everyday people who work hard, save, struggle to survive, have compassion for those less fortunate, and believe in equal justice and the rule of law.

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Today’s So. Korea struggles to achieve those honorable, equitable ends even as much of the USA marches backwards in ways that would stun Teddy Roosevelt….

Written by Valerie Curl

June 12, 2018 at 4:31 PM

Reprise: Jackpot The Royal Gambler

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I’ve just finished watching Daebak, aka Jackpot, The Royal Gambler again. This is the first time I’ve watched it since it originally aired in 2016, and I have to admit I enjoyed more than I did the first time. The first time I focused on the story line and plot and failed to just enjoy the story and acting. This time, I just sat back and watched. This time I watched the acting and ignored the flaws in the script and story line that kept this drama from achieving the ratings the all-star line up of actors should have garnered.

Regardless of the flaws in the script, I believe, now more than ever, that Jang Keun Suk should spend his time focusing on acting. I’ve watched a lot of actors during my life….yeah, I’m a film buff…but rarely have I seen a more natural born actor then Jang Keun Suk. I’ve seen most of his films and dramas and have always been impressed by his acting in them, but in this drama, he exhibits an acting talent that is overwhelming…and deserving of greater scripts.

From the beginning in Jackpot, where his cock-fighting rooster meets defeats and becomes the family meal to his theft of 100 nyang to his adolescent joy at finally being in Hangyang, Jang Keun Suk enthralls this audienc and keeps them laughing. He portrays his character with such an innocence and youthful exuberance that we, the audience, can’t help but fall in love with his character. His joy, his happiness, his excitement combined with his back woods, innocent belief in himself all make for a character that causes us to laugh at his antics. Even when he meets the one special woman in his life, he exhibits all the comedic antics common to youth but rarely seen by the adult world. Again, Jang Keun Suk makes viewers continue to gleefully adore his lovable, silly, and happy-go-lucky character.

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But it’s those very emotions that continue to affect viewers when his character’s life turns around and he’s faced with the harsh realities of his world. Having gained the audience’s empathy, we can’t hold back our emotions when he’s put through trial after trial. Even though the plot has Jang Keun Suk’s character, Baek Deagil, survive unrealistic and thoroughgoing torture, beatings, and stabbings, he somehow manages to survive…and become yet another character. In this character, Jang Keun Suk exhibits a coming of age wherein he loses the innocence of his earlier character to grow into a man who is capable of seeing the best and worst of his world. In this character, we see a Jang Keun Suk that is probably true to his own nature and character. In that sense, at this point in the story, he portrays a character that is very much akin to himself.

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However, as the character of Baek Daegil grows along with the plot  line, we see a character that develops an empathy for others, particularly the underprivileged and poor. He chooses to become one with them and protect them. He puts aside his own ego in the recognition that they are more important than he alone…and, thus, he must save them, his brother the King, and Josean itself from destruction. This is a Jang Keun Suk not previously seen. An actor capable of realistically portraying someone other than himself and a person of his own age. Yet, Jang Keun Suk pulls off the transformation with amazing agility and grace. Not once does he stumble in showing the both the innate humor of Daegil that harkens back to his youthful self as well as the seriousness the character deserves as a mature man intent on fighting corruption and the evil that haunts his nation. Pulled out of his retirement as a Royal Guardsman, he seeks to end a revolution that will cause the deaths of thousands of innocent people. Here again, Jang Keun Suk demonstrates his remarkable ability to transform himself into an older and wiser man who chooses to put the nation and her people before himself.

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There are so many scenes which I could point to that make my point as to the formidable quality of Jang Keun Suk’s acting that it becomes impossible to choose one or two alone from this drama. His performance was masterful to say the least. It is unfortunate that the drama failed to receive higher ratings. Nevertheless, of all the Korean dramas I have watched…that now numbers in the hundreds…this one kept my interest the longest because of the quality of the acting, particularly that of Jang Keun Suk and Choi Min-Soo.

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Nevertheless, it is Jang Keun Suk’s ability to portray realistically the maturation of his character with such believability that makes him an outstanding actor. In all of his previous dramas, he’s portrayed a character approximating his own age because they were not only comfortable characters for him but also because he could relate to those characters. However, in this drama, he went far beyond his comfort zone to show a range of character development that few Korean actors are permitted in a drama to achieve. And although he worked with some of Korea’s finest actors, he matched and often exceeded them in his portrayal of his character and the character’s development and growth.

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Personally, I would love to see Jang Keun Suk acting in a major film that drew Hollywood’s and international attention, just the way Lee Byung-hun, Rain and Yunjin Kim have. His acting talent is far too great to be confined to Asia alone.

Written by Valerie Curl

April 26, 2017 at 9:30 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

Save me, please!

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I need some help. After reading about Trump’s proposed appointments and his transition team and what the entire GOP is planning, I am more than ever convinced it’s time to leave my beloved country. I may be too old and too sickened of heart to fight the coming battles for heart and health of our country. I am not a liberal by choice but by a heritage that goes back nearly 300 years to the earliest days of the MA and CT settlements.

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Donald Trump during the Presidential Debates

Many among my family fought in the Revolutionary War and one received a medal from General Washington himself. In addition, nearly every side of my family, from those in Missouri, Kansas and Ohio to those in CT, Maine, Illinois and New York, fought to preserve the nation and end the evil of slavery during the Civil War. I have the pictures. My grandfathers fought in WWI and my father and uncles in WWII and Korea. My cousins in Vietnam and now my step-children wherever they are needed. I am proud of my family and their contributions to this great country. As someone who has moderately studied the history of my country, I am thoroughly ashamed by what I see occurring.

As a result of what I’m reading and seeing, including much Ku Klux Klan graffiti on walls, stores, and elsewhere, I am becoming far more serious about leaving the US. This decision hurts my heart. My family smuggled themselves out of England to avoid the anti-protestant ideology of King Charles. Others, as French Protestants, escaped to Holland and then to the English Isles to keep from being slaughtered by the French King because of their religious beliefs. Others from Scotland and Ireland were sent as slaves to the shores of US colonies because they sought freedom from England and freedom of religion.

Current background info on Trump Admin:

His transition team consists of bankers/investment CEOs, real estate moguls, supply siders (aka tax cutters for the wealthy), the disgraced New Jersey governor (2 high level members of his staff are on their way to jail and he may end up there too) and a steel mill owner as well as a large number of lobbyists. (I guess this is his version of clearing the swamp as he said during the campaign.)

Proposals for Cabinet offices include:

A rogues gallery of climate change deniers, major bank CEOs, oil company execs, and lobbyists from various industries. Yet, not one recognized economist or labor leader or foreign policy expert. It’s said that you can tell a person’s character by the company he keeps. If this melange of characters represent Trump, then heaven help everyone who is not supremely wealthy.

Already proposed legislation includes repealing Obamacare (The current plan takes 2 years to phase out completely Obamacare) with no replacement worked out except previously rejected GOP ideas that increase costs and leave millions more uninsured; overturning the Dodd-Frank financial regulations instituted after the financial meltdown in 2008l – thus, leaving Wall St free to go back to the same old practices and activities that causes the Great Recession and global financial meltdown; eliminating the CFPC, the agency that prevents financial companies  and banks from cheating consumers as in the recent Wells Fargo scam case; rolling back or eliminating environmental regs (and maybe the EPA altogether) so companies can pretty much do what they want, in the name of profits, regardless of the harm to the environment and the residents; dramatically cutting taxes for major companies and wealthy individuals while raising them on middle and low income people; block granting Medicaid with no restrictions so states could use that money for whatever choose; decreasing Medicaid and Food Stamp budgets by almost a 1/3 (if I’ve calculated correctly), leaving many millions of children facing homelessness and starvation; cutting medicare benefits while raising rates; increasing the retirement age for Social Security…and trying to privatize the program (a la IRAs that have worked so well vs pensions); eliminate head of household and individual deductions on tax filings so median and lower income families pay more in taxes with fewer deductions; eliminating taxes on investment income (i.e. dividends and sales of stocks) that basically only help the wealthy; reducing to corporate tax rates to 12% while leaving small business tax rates at current levels (if not higher); dramatically increased deficit spending (now that Obama will be out of office) on infrastructure (built with Chinese steel, etc – which is why the Chinese commodities markets climbed dramatically today); a trillion dollar expenditure on a wall between Mexico and the US that will be put on the national credit card; mass deportations of undocumented aliens and overturning the Obama rule that allowed undocumented young people to stay in the country, provided they attended college and did community service or joined the military; overturn Roe v Wade that allowed women  in consultation with their doctors to control their own reproductive system; and end all funding to Planned Parenthood which serves low income and college student women with all manner of women’s health screenings including cancer and STDs, birth control and family education, and lest one need reminding no where in the Bible does it discuss abortion, although it admonishes over and over again the need to take care widows and orphans, the sick and hunger, the homeless and forgotten, the helpless and forgotten; and finally – most disgusting of all – require Muslims to register with the government (disgustingly ugly shades of Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews).

Getting back to real life:

If you naively think this extreme agenda won’t pass, I remind you that extreme far right Republicans now own both houses of Congress and soon the Supreme Court. The entire federal government will be under their control…and Trump, meanwhile, will rubber stamp all that they desire no matter the consequences to average citizens.

If Americans had any sense or knowledge of their own history, they’d see that the current Republican agenda smacks of the 1880s when workers were abused and killed on the job without repercussions, when full time workers lived in cold water flats because that’s all they could afford, when farmers were financially abused by Wall St banks and put out of business, when government sided with big business to steal private property for far less than market value, when small businesses were put out of business by government protected large businesses and organized business trade associations, and when collusion and corruption  – i.e. vote buying  – ran rampant through state, local and federal governments. But Americans don’t know their history…and don’t care to learn. They can barely remember what occurred ten years ago, let alone who the nation’s leaders are today. We’ve become a nation of idiots!

A strong and healthy nations is one with healthy and incorruptible institutions of government: legislatures, courts, law and justice. When belief in these institutions fail, nations fail. 

That is what is occurring right now and will be accelerated under a Trump adminstration. I can guarantee it. History provides ample examples.

Thus, my query:

I’m lucky in many respects in that I’m very old, retired, and a white person. But these GOP and Trump proposals which target the poor and desperate offends everything I was taught in Baptist Sunday school, offends everything Robert F. Kennedy taught me about caring for the poor and those left behind; offends everything I learned from the Old Testament Biblical prophets; offends everything I’ve read about Jesus in the New Testament – indeed it feels like Jesus is once again being crucified by the [money-grubbing] Romans and Pharisees; offends everything Jefferson, Madison and Washington wrote prior to the Continental Congress; offends Madison and Hamilton who wrote most of the Federalist papers; offends Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence; offends Franklin’s beliefs and ideals in a progressive republic; offends the very nature of a caring, compassionate and respectful humanity as Buddhists’ state. It offends decency itself.

I am no longer proud of this nation,  This nation that I have loved so dearly has now chosen a president who has gleefully stomped on every one of Ten Commandments, is vulgar and vile in speech and disrespectful of others in action, and cares nothing about anyone other than himself. If he is a symbol of what this country has become, then I want no part of it. While I hate leaving my beloved country, I all too much feel compelled to follow the precedent of my ancestors and leave.

So, my friends, help me if you will in finding somewhere in this world where compassion, respect, and understanding still exist. I am not wealthy…Wall St saw to that. As a result, many harmonious countries will not accept me as I don’t have the financial resources they require and I’m far too old now to start in business all over again. What I seek is peace and joy and contentment and respect for both nature and the people around me. If you will, please help me find such a place…and God willing, I can convince my family to go with me as I cannot live without them and the joy they bring me.

Written by Valerie Curl

November 10, 2016 at 8:53 PM

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized

Donald Trump is a national disaster

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I just finished watching the third presidential debate. Admittedly, many people will be swayed by what he said. However, any thinking person who has a modicum knowledge of economics and  national security as well as respect for all people, regardless of race, creed culture, gender or religion can upon reflection agree with him.

By and large, Trump repeated over and over that he would make America great again but without ever delving into how he would do so. On trade, he said NAFTA was bad, but the completely failed to explain how or what he would do to create better trade policies. Throughout his campaign, he has repeatedly called for isolationist trade policies which would be an economic disaster. The USA relies upon our exports for jobs and economic growth. Granted the TTP and other current proposals fail both the American people and other countries by putting too much power into the hands of major corporations – the reason Hillary Clinton does not support them – but international fair and free trade policies are needed worldwide, especially by mature economies like the US. To put it simply, US full employment cannot be supported without international trade.

On tax policy, Trump doubles down of supply side economics. His tax policy, outsourced to Steven Moore, a penultimate supply-sider who consistently ignores the demand side of the economic equation and is no economist, would increase the national deficit by trillions. Some say as much as $5 trillion. Since the financial melt down in 2007, the US has had an overabundance of supply but not enough demand. In other words, there’s plenty of product but not enough buyers. When wages are low or lowered (as has been the case since 2009 when companies lowered wages in the face of an oversupply of qualified candidates) wages, the demand side of the economic equation has gone down. If people can’t afford to buy, demand goes down regardless of the supply quantity. Thus, continuing the feed the supply side, i.e. Wall Street investors, does nothing to increase GNP (Gross National Product). The only way to increase GNP and, thus, GDP is to build up the demand side of the economic equation. Moore’s tax and economic policies, which Trump bought lock, stock and barrel, utterly fail this test.

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On National Security, Trump sounded smart when when you delve into what he actually said but yet again failed to propose any solutions, he’s frightening. Does he want an all out war in the Middle East – a la the Crusades? If so, that is one sure way to push moderate Muslims into the freedom fighter camps of ISIS and the Taliban. Imagine if you will an invading force in the US (intent on stealing our national resources to pay for the invasion). Would any American stand by and let that happen, no matter how moderate they were? Of course not. The same principle applies in the Middle East. Throughout history all over the world, people have always fought against a foreign invader, even when they strongly disagreed with their own government. It would be no different in the Middle East now. Moreover, Trump and his neo-con allies have chosen to make his foreign policy about a clash of civilizations – a clash of religions much like the Crusades. And much like during the Crusades, Muslims would come together, regardless of their internal conflicts, to fight off the invaders. Smart policy, which Clinton advocated, is separating the moderates from the extremists…and backing the moderates who see a better way forward for Middle East countries than a 12th Century ideology in the 21st Century world.

Additionally, the idea of Trump denying or ignoring Putin’s spying and hacking and interference with this election shows his incredible naivety. Of course, his financial records prove, as Newsweek and other legitimate media outlets have shown, he has a huge income stake in protecting the Russian (and thus Putin) oligarchy. Do I think Trump would take his order from Putin the way Mussolini did from Hitler? I don’t know; but I’m not willing that that chance, given that Trump is all about himself and his ego and his fortune even as he sells out other and stiffs his suppliers. Trump’s entire career has been one long running steam of conning and lying and cheating others including failing to pay his suppliers. Believing him is like believing in Hitler’s promise to not to invade the restof Europe after stealing Austria.

On issues of his personal morality and how he think about woman and minorities, what more needs to be said other than that he has offended everyone with his misogynist and xenophobic mindset. Even the uber conservative Utah-based Mormon (Church of Latter Day Saints) has come out against Trump in a public statement.They consider his words and ideas…and his behavior…highly toxic. No matter how much he denies his behavior, the numbers of people coming out against him for how he has behaved and what he has done keeps growing. As a result, he’s proven himself to narcissistic megalomaniac who refuses to accept responsibility for his own behavior. In his words, everything is the fault of someone else…and he is totally innocent. That may go over well in the modern Republican conservative movement, but it doesn’t necessarily sit well with a majority of people who have been raised to believe they have to take responsibility for their own behavior.

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On border control and minorities, polling shows that the list of minority voters switching from the Republican side of the ledger to the Democratic side ha gown dramatically since Trump became the Republican nominee. Beyond his polling numbers though is the fact that to implement his wall across the US Southern border and round up & deport every non-citizen (i.e. alien) would cost multiple trillions of dollars. Are you willing to agree to a major increase in your taxes to pay for it all…or are you going to shut your eyes and ears and put it on the national credit card and blame someone else for the outrageous deficit once again?

I could go on ad infinitum on the disastereous affects of Trump policies (or lack of coherent policies) but there is little  doubt that committed Trump voters will change their minds. To far too many of them, the world is made up of “us against them” which the GOP has pushed, in various and sundry dog whistles, for over 50 years.

Nevertheless, regardless of how reasonably sounding Trump came off sounding in this third debate, the fact remains that all of his ideas, from every perspective, are extraordinary expensive and a national disaster. Moreover, the fact that the national GOP supports and endorses this caricature of a human being shows the party has descended into the bowels of hell.

Clinton may not be everyone’s favorite candidate…and granted she’s been vilified and lied about by the GOP in the national media for nearly 30 years…but compared to Trump, she’s an angel. Her policies are reasonable, well-thought out, progressive, equitable, and fiscally sound. But, of course, that won’t matter to die-hard Trump supporters who choose to ignore the reality of the man and his ideas by focusing only on his fantastic rhetoric as a way out there circumstances.

 

 

 

Written by Valerie Curl

October 19, 2016 at 10:44 PM

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