Best of Enemies

In the summer of 1968 television news changed forever. Dead last in the ratings, ABC hired two towering public intellectuals to debate each other during the Democratic and Republican national conventions. William F. Buckley Jr. was a leading light of the new conservative movement. A Democrat and cousin to Jackie Onassis, Gore Vidal was a leftist novelist and polemicist. Armed with deep-seated distrust and enmity, Vidal and Buckley believed each other’s political ideologies were dangerous for America. Like rounds in a heavyweight battle, they pummeled out policy and personal insult—their explosive exchanges devolving into vitriolic name-calling. Live and unscripted, they kept viewers riveted. Ratings for ABC News skyrocketed, and a new era in public discourse was born

This documentary was what I believe was appropriate during the time of lies and unintelligent behavior within the political climate of today.  These two men were dangerous with their knowledge, their verbal arsenal as well as their hatred of each other.  Especially their parties affiliation.  These two intellectuals were powerful and very far to the right and left with their ideology that each were given a platform to express it.  This documentary showed each protaganist hatred for each other and their willingness to to provide great theater for the public during the political conventions that year.  It also provided the American broadcasting channel (ABC) a boast in their TV coverage during the time when ABC was falling behind NBC and CBS in the ratings.  As you watched the Republican and Democratic convention during 1968, the racial hypocrisy was so intense that you wondered if it was 1968 or 2016.   But what I will say about Buckley, he possess the charm and intellect that you have to listen to him whether he was right or wrong.  His wit and sass, kept liberals and conservatives on their toes ready to defend or combat.  But the overwhelming intelligence of Gore Vidal bit into the essence of the conservative arguments about the poor and race and made his distractors work harder to prove him wrong.  His sheer presence makes him still iconic today as he stands up to more than any democrat can do today.  Maybe Bill Maher or John Stewart would give him a run but not with the elitist attitude.  

This documentary goes into the history of these two gentleman and what they accomplished throughout their years in literary form or on Television.  With their two contrasting views, we finally see the two of them engage in intelligent debates that we long for at this time.  Not the unintelligent disrespectful childish behavior we just saw during our last presidential debates.  Its the biting factual, strong opinionated display of men prepared and ready to protect and defend their views.  We see a lot hasn't changed but we do see the debate being relevant on both sides.  During that election year, we see the effects of the Vietnam war on the people who oppose the war and those in favor.  The passion from these two started a point to counter point coverage going forward on network television and extended onto SNL.  But what made history wasn't the vitriol debate shared by the two participants.   It was the climatic explosion when Vidal lashed out during one of the debates and called Buckley a Nazi.  Buckley's face distorted and you can see his disgust and anger displayed clearly in his facial expression and his aggressive body language.  Buckley lashed out quickly and called Vidal a queer and threaten to punch him in the face right their on the air.  At that point, Vidal got what he wanted and showed the world that Buckley was unhinged and could not stand pressure when pressed to defend his opinions.  

From that point on these two men used publications and lawsuits to attack each other and their ideologies.  The amazing strategy used by both men was to use a TV medium and press to push their ideas and opinions,  An extrodinary commentary on what the political atmosphere was and actually still is today.  This is one of the documentaries that should get you to read history and see where we were as opposed to where we are now.  A very dangerous and sad place.  


Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.  This amazing director, producer and film writer has cone an amazing job with this emotional documentary.  

I walked into this documentary with a mind set that I knew about the prison industrial complex and how businesses took advantage of the privatization of the system. So I thought I was going to be reviewing my facts and brush through this documentary like thanks for the review. Well the sad part is, you should never assume anything. You learn something new every day and history repeats its self in different forms. What I found out during the opening statements of the documentary was I didn’t really know what the 13th admendment consisted of. Here it is and what I missed:

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution declared that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Formally abolishing slavery in the United States, the 13th Amendment was passed by the Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified by the states on December 6, 1865

So as the documentary started showing how the south put in rules like the Black Codes. These laws passed by Southern states in 1865 and 1866, after the Civil War had the intent and the effect of restricting African Americans’ freedom, and of compelling them to work in a labor economy based on low wages or debt. Black Codes were part of a larger pattern of Southern whites trying to suppress the new freedom of emancipated African American slaves, the freedmen. The defining feature of the Black Codes was broad vagrancy law, which allowed local authorities to arrest freed people for minor infractions and commit them to involuntary labor. This period was the start of the convict lease system

That was the system of keeping African Americans in bondage to continue to make profits. The second system was the Peonage law. Southern business owners obviously wasn’t going to follow any laws against their profit marbins so they created a profitable arrangement of slavery with a system called peonage, in which (disproportionately African Americans) workers were stuck with loans and forced to work indefinitely because of their debt. Peonage continued through Reconstruction and ensnared a large proportion of African American workers in the South. These workers remained destitute and persecuted, forced to work dangerous jobs and further confined legally by the racist Jim Crow laws that governed the South. This brings us back to the prison system. Based on the highlighted portion in the 13th admendment. The government was allowed to have prisoners under the system of slavery or a nicer moniker, under involuntary servitude. The documentary goes into how the movie “birth of a nation” by d.w. griffith shows how the movie denegrated African Americans as sex craved animals with every sterotype known to black people. It also showed how the Klu Klux Klan showed up to be the heros to save the white women from being raped by a black man. The film was screened at the white house for Woodrow Wilson. So what do you think that sends to the country about African Americans? The documentary proceeds what African American had to go through during the time the government stood on the side line while people were being abused on the state level denying them equal treatment and their voting rights. During the early 1900’s, we see the lynching and abuse perpertrated by the Klan and others who wanted to curb the behavior of African Americans. Even during this time, African Americans were still be incarcerated for petty crimes but what turned the prison system into a targeted weapon for minorities was Nixon’s decision to go after criminal activity and drugs. Nixon advisors even stated they would be targeting black people. Then the next president Reagan, talked about having a stronger tone on crime and the drug war. What made policy so divisive is it centered on minorities and not all aspects of the drug war operations. The documentary shows the media showing African Americans being arrested for all types crimes that reenforced the new policies to go after this black criminal element. So when the politicians began running again for the presidency and congress, both parties stepped up with policies that would keep america safe and based on the rhetoric from the politicians and the images by the media, these policies were written. The democrates supported Clinton with his two most devastating polices. Mandatory sentencing and the 3 strike rule. The documentary showed that from the early 70’s to the current 2010’s. The prison population went from low 500k to over 2.2 million. Not because of the increase in crime but because of these draconian laws that not only stripped them of their voters rights but kept them in a system that left them eligible for forced labor.  

I stated all of this to bring you to the current situation. Businesses profiting from incarcerations and the privitatizing of the prison system that are currently using laws to have inmates work for businesses like Wal-mart and Victoria Secrets. It showed the impact of private companies over charging families, inmates and supplying shoddy services to inmates. It is frighting and uncomfortable to know that laws like these are holding back minorities and a system is in place that can be used for profit and reduce the voter roll by having more people incarcerated with criminal records. This is the harsh reality of understanding and doing more about who are your representatives as well as knowing the law when you are dealing with the law. A strong, sad and important documentary that should be seen by all. Understanding each other and what has been feed to all of us (regardless of ethnicity). This realization showed me this was very important and how this film has taught me a lot.