Articles from the think tank: For Democracy - A nation for all- Written by Eric Lafayette.
In the first part of this article I will describe an event I was lucky to attend and in the second part I will discuss the amazing lessons I gained from my experience and that can be applied to all of us. You will then see that in our everyday lives we can apply and benefit from the wisdom of FDR‘s famous quote, "The Only Thing we Have To Fear is Fear Itself." A few days ago I went to a screening at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, yes the same academy that rewards actors and directors with Oscars. This particular event focused on a series of short movies, most of them from one minute to three minutes and most of them dating from 1897 to 1910, and yes that is more than a century ago. The main movie was the first showing in the USA of a restored colorized version of “Trip to the Moon” by George Melies. It was produced in 1902, was a very long movie for the time, lasting 15 minutes, and it was a huge success at the time. Another noticeable movie was a wonderful poetic cartoon called the, "Joy of Living” by Hector Hoppin and Anthony Gross, the only movie in this program released at a later date in 1934. Other short movies shown were shot in Stereoscopic 3 D as early as 1903 and they were stunning. Their 3 D technique was remarkable. (We wore the same glasses you would wear today for a modern 3D movies.) I could hardly believe my eyes as I watched these films of great quality when I read they were made in 1903.
Most movies were by George Melies or Pathe a French production company. It was a befitting tribute to the early French movie industry which starting with the cinematographers “Les Frères Lumieres” set France as the Godmother of Cinema. When I left the theater not only was I pleased by these great short movies, but more importantly I was inspired to raise the bar in my quest for a better life. I hope that you will see as I saw that not only for me but for all of us there is always room, "To Shoot for the Moon." People such as Georges Melies were not only good at shooting movies; they invented Movie making from scratch. Melies is credited for having invented most of the special effects leading to what we see today in our movies. His extremely wide range of inventions is breathtaking. Hector Hoppin and Anthony Gross invented poetic animation. We could show their movie today and nobody would guess that the movie was shot almost a century ago.
None of them were satisfied with the equipment that was available to them so they improved on it. Melies build new motion picture cameras and also what today is known as a sound stage. He made it like a greenhouse so that he had all the light from outside without the rain or wind. What I would like to emphasize is that Melies and his colleagues Lived Their Lives in an energized state of perpetual creation moving forward and overcoming one challenge after another. This state of mind is the only one that leads to constant creation, amazing inventions and fascinating success.
To underline the fact that Georges Melies and his colleagues overcame impossible odds to achieve success we had a similar story unveiling in parallel regarding the restoration or shall we say the Resurrection of “A Trip to the Moon.” Serge Bromberg who presented these important short films from the early days of cinema dedicated his life to rescuing as many as he could of these old treasures of the movie industry as he could.
Some might say that no one with a sound mind would spend thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars to rescue movies that last a few minutes. Serge does it with passion. He not only works against all odds toward his goals, he convinces sponsors to invest in these seemingly impossible challenges and makes a living restoring very old movies that are part of our cultural history. The most interesting story is about the colorized version of “A Trip to the Moon." No copy of a colorized version of " A Trip to the Moon " seemed to exist, but Serge Bromberg met a Director of Cataluña Film Archives (in Barcelona, Spain) who told him that he had the only colorized version of a Trip to the Moon but that the state of decomposition was so advanced that it was impossible to restore. The reel had turned into a solid piece of hardened lumber similar to a wheel that resembled the slice of a tree trunk. It looked like it was absolutely impossible to peel off any frames to work with it. Chemistry came to the rescue and they decided against all common sense to melt the reel with chemicals, a process that took a year and a half. In short the protagonists were like hunters armed with regular digital cameras waiting in ambush for an elusive prey. As soon as a couple of frames melted the hunters could briefly see new visible frames behind what had been revealed previously. The hunters immediately shot these frames before they melted. In the process the hunters shot millions of frames and were very happy with their pictures, but it took another 8 years to create the technique and adapt programs that will be able assemble these millions of frames in a logical order. The Technicolor Foundation in the USA was instrumental in finalizing this important last step
Against all odds not letting the fear of failure hamper him, being very straight forward with sponsors, telling them that the odds for success were minimal, Serge was able to achieve a resurrection unequaled in the History of Cinema. The sponsors, GAN Foundation for Cinema in France and the Technicolor Foundation in the USA were the bold sponsors that made success possible. What I wanted to show with a true story is that almost all “impossible” challenges can be met and as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear itself.”
Today with the digital age we are entering an era that again gives room for you and me to be relentless creators and inventors as inexpensive quality digital motion pictures cameras are available and media such as Youtube and Facebook allow you to show your work to millions of viewers. It is not only movie making that has become more accessible and affordable, publishing EBooks too costs almost nothing as well. A good story or a good script can be published at minimal cost and then sold on Amazon at no cost. All it takes today to be successful in the field of creation is to be as inspired and possessed by the genie of creativity and as fearless as Georges Melies and his brothers in invention were a century ago.
Articles from the think tank: For Democracy - A nation for all- Written by Eric Lafayette.
CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: A NEW GOVERNMENT PROGRAM
President Obama New Presidential Leadership program.
An interview by Eric Lafayette.
Good news: President Obama recently took me aside ( only in my dreams) and he told me in confidence that he made the decision to completely change the way he is governing the USA. Here are the changes he is going to make.
FIRST: ADDRESSING THE ECONOMIC CRISIS. Problem: President Obama will replace Secretary of the Treasury Franz Geithner. Mr. Geithner is a very honest man but his economic theories are not suited to to the state of the United States economy today. Unfortunately the US economy is based almost exclusively on consumer spending, and our approach to changes in the global economy especially regarding China are inadequate. Mr. Geithner constant reprimands of China about its economic policies has alienated China our main creditor. China holds the greatest chunk of US debt at a time when we need the best relationship possible with our most powerful creditor. Our country has shifted from a country based on manufacturing an obsolete visionstill hold true in error by the Republicans into a country which economy is based on consumer spending, hence the remedies are unique to our era and to our country. Solution: Change the Team President Obama will replace Mr. Geithner with Paul Krugman 2008 Nobel Prize winner in Economics. Paul Krugman is also an op-ed columnist at the New York Times admired and well known for his remarkable columns). President Obama will add as his personal economic advisor Mr. Peter Diamonds the 2010 Nobel Prize winner in Economics his personal advisor. Our President will have a team that understands that unfortunately the USA is no longer a nation of manufacturers but is instead a nation of consumers. The American People will be reassured when they will see that they have THREE Nobel prize winners reunited in the Oval office actively working on innovative economic strategies: President Obama, Paul Krugman and Peter Diamonds. This team represents a remarkable brain trust even more so when compared with the same reunion in the oval office during President Bush tenure when his team including him was made of three lightweights who lacked this kind of brain power. For the long term: After digging the American economy out of the abyss created by George Bush and his incompetent advisers the new team faces an extremely difficult task which will be to reset the USA as a manufacturer in new technologies such as Nano-technology, solar and other alternative energy, virtual entities etc. We must keep in mind that the USA went from number ONE in innovation in the seventies to number SEVEN after President Bush’s Presidency. For the short term: The USA must begin in earnest and on a large scale the task of rebuilding the US infrastructure including roads, bridges, electric grid, etc. This will be accomplished with public safety and economy in mind. In addition, fostering energy efficiency with appropriate insulation and the installation of solar panels on EACH AND EVERY American homes, condominiums and apartments is a no-brainer. This plan would help solve the dreadful disease of unemployment, save energy and reduce pollution. Giving tax credit for Insulation and solar panel is an absolute must all over the country. I am of the school that a modern and rich nation should provide jobs to each and every one of its citizens and that only an unemployment rate of about 4% is acceptable because in fact it reflects a state of full employment, the unemployed being workers between two jobs on very short transitions. In fact beside human being gathering together in the form of a nation to defend themselves against an external enemy the other most important reason to form a nation is to provide Food and shelter we call that employment today for the totality of its citizens. Funding; Tax the rich people who are not spending their money in ways that will revive the economy. In addition use a percentage of the increase in gasoline tax. The good thing about raising by 20% the gasoline tax is that if done in concert by many nations it will diminish the consumption of Gasoline and other fuel thus cutting on the demand for oil and the market will react by lowering the price of the Barrel of Oil and thus the increase in taxes will be almost totally offset by the reduction in price of the Barrel of oil. In addition President Obama will be bold and create and implement a new tax on consumption which will be a 5% to 10% sale tax on non expensive necessary items such as stereo, TV, and all products with the exception of food and basic clothing. On Jewels and expensive cars like Ferraris the tax will rise to 20%. Most of these luxury items are imported anyway and this tax will improve our dreadful trade balance deficit. Once for all I want to be crystal clear; I am profoundly and totally against taxing companies and entrepreneurs that keep their profits in the USA creates jobs and exports products. The taxes on companies should be reduced to Zero but not the tax on the share holders.
SECOND: LONG TERM DEVELOPMENT, EDUCATION, RESEARCH Problem: the future of the USA will be defined mainly by Education and Research The level of Education in the USA the richest country in the world is appalling due to the constant cuts in education budgets enforced by the Republicans who need an illiterate and uninformed crowd to gobble the lies and the nonsense their leaders are preaching to them. The only exception was “No child left behind” a gift from George Bush to his wife Laura once a Democrat and former teacher who understood much better than he did how much education and literacy was important. However the funding and guidelines were inadequate. The USA ranks 18th out of 36 among rich developed countries for the percentage of students earning and receiving high school diplomas. This statistic is a strong warning that shows the general inadequacy of the education system. In all other benchmarks on student qualifications the USA ranks at the bottom of comparable nations when it was once at the top. A compounding factor was made evident in Texas when George Bush was Governor and where he failed as he would eventually fail to improve education as President, his record as a President is only a record of many failures. More and more students are dropping out of high school which of course in turn means that fewer students will attend colleges, universities or advanced technical training schools. Instead of facing the reality of the situation which was the emergence in Texas and across the country of students born to parents speaking broken English and not fluent in American culture George Bush did not understand it. This gap in language and culture should have INTENSIVE culture, language, and reading catch up courses, President Bush implemented a program with a system based on one size fit all. Not only is education and training essential to any thriving democratic economy, access to education has been the tool used by immigrants and the poor to improve their economic situation, become innovators and productive workers. Solution Redefine educational guidelines that will be focused on literacy and that will foster thanks to major help in reading, culture, language skills that students ENTERING high school will be on a level playing field and will not drop out. In addition a project dear to me that the President as well as the Governor of the State of California then all Governors should implement is extending all two years colleges into four year colleges with the ability to award FOUR YEARS Bachelors Degrees which are the door to good income. This will require additional spending for education but it will offer to ALL Americans the higher level of education available to citizens of all rich Europeans countries. This affordable path to higher education will in turn produce more scientists, engineers, computer wizards who will lift the entire nation. The President will certainly make its improvements in education even more than a top priority: A SACRED MISSION TO RESTORE THE AMERICAN DREAM for everyone and not just for a few. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this part of the President’s change to current programs enough. Funding: 30% of the gasoline tax plus an additional 30% tax on hard liquors plus a new 20% tax on wine and beer. These are what I call the sin taxes on pollution and drunkenness.
THIRD: WAR AND DEFENSE
Problem: Digging the USA out of two wars started and lost by President George W. Bush.
This is the most painful and difficult segment of the Presidency when President Obama must engage in forceful and strong leadership despite his pacifist feelings.
George W. Bush, a dangerous and ineffective US President, immersed the country ( who was thanks to President Clinton on a glorious path) in two wars and led the country into a costly and abominable downward spiral.
He initiated two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan and lost both of them. Only because his father’s circle of influential friends who forced him to discard the incompetent war mongers such as Donald Rumsfeld forced him to change course. he then surrounded himself with competent military leaders and the situation improved. The new team that was imposed on him, namely Secretary of State Robert Gates and General Petraeus was able to reverse the horrible situation and at least this new team began to stabilize the situation.
Even though in my heart the solution should be to “Get out of Iraq and Afghanistan as soon as possible no matter what!” the wisdom of Albert Einstein tells us that, “The World is a dangerous place, not because of the people who are evil but because of the people who don't do anything about it.”
As a student of history who has studied and examined the cowardice of the French and English democracies who accepted Hitler’s bullying before their entry in World War II I am a firm believer that one should not let aggressive predators gain strength and momentum.
In addition I am in awe of the extreme intelligence and strategic wisdom of Robert Gates and General Petreaus.
Two quick examples: Robert Gates immediately saw that unmanned vehicles that already existed but were left on the back burner by his profoundly incompetent predecessor Donald Rumsfeld and were extremely important tools for warfare for modern countries like the US. He pushed for more manufacturing and deployment of these vehicles, mostly drone planes although there are some wheeled vehicles now in the pipeline.
General Petreaus wrote the book about modern warfare when faced with terrorist insurgencies. In short his solution is to continually minimize civilian casualties and make the civilians your friends and therefore make the terrorists enemies of the local civilian population. General Petreaus also implemented bringing fear to this abominably cruel enemy by launching night raids to kill armed terrorists. General Petraeus is using American superiority made possible by night vision goggles and drones
When the President listened to my arguments he rallied to my thoughts admitting that many of these ideas were already in his mind.
With this in mind let Robert Gates and General Petraeus conduct the war as they believe it should be conducted and replace President Obama’s personal adviser on the war Thomas Donilon. His recent appointment was a horrible mistake that President Obama I hope realized soon after.
President Obama was kind enough to listen to one of my urgent message which is:
Be confident about the war in Afghanistan, it is in good hands and will finish well as long as President Karzai is kept in check, but beware of the situation in Iraq where the civilian democracy is falling apart. Get involved and above all prepare a plan B which will be the partition of Iraq into three states linked by a loose Confederation.
He told me that above all as a commander in chief he will make more visits to Iraq and Afghanistan to be with the soldiers who put their lives in the line of fire and that he will spend much more time with them and he added:
“After securing the vital interest of our beloved country the USA my main obsession is to avoid as much as I can the deaths and injuries of our beloved soldiers. I will implement a program similar but even more generous than the post World War II GI Bill and offer free university tuition to children of soldiers who died or suffered permanent injuries in defense of the USA, as well as very generous low cost tuition to all soldiers who served in battle.
Had President Bush not initiated and lost two wars, the USA would have saved billions of dollars that are absolutely needed today and spared the lives of those I call the best Americans: our men and women in uniforms.
Let exceptionally competent people like Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and General Petreaus conduct the war as they feel it should be conducted.
Push the philosophy of modern warfare against terrorists and insurgents further by not only trying to destroy the insurgency but instead by constantly trying to disrupt and discredit it. Remove huge numbers of troops on military bases and instead use drone planes, remote controlled mini tanks and special force commandos to infiltrate in silence and darkness creating fear and destroying small groups of terrorists where they are. Also use the most important tool of warfare, bait and deception, to destroy greater numbers of the enemy during each engagement.
In short, fewer soldiers, more drones and more remote control vehicles, but more importantly instill constant fear in the ranks of the terrorists by quick disruptives attack and begin to use bait and deception to maximize enemy losses .
Cut the Army budget by half, fire 80% of the incompetent brass, cut the troop levels overall but make most of the troops we have in the field an elite commando corp. Use more unmanned vehicle thus less troops Most of these steps have already been initiated by Robert Gates and General Petreaus