The Butler Movie Review

Last night my wife and I went to see the Butler, the movie that was just released recently.  To be honest I had not heard of the Butler until my wife mentioned a few days ago and said she wanted to see it. At the same time there was a discussion on our website, Elk Grove Laguna Forums about the movie. I had no idea who was in it, so after my wife said she wanted to see it, I Googled it to see what it was about. I saw Oprah Winfrey was in and got the basic premise of the movie, a black butler who served in the White House under numerous Presidents.  On our website a few people said they would not see the movie because of Oprah Winfrey and also Jane Fonda due to her role in the Vietnam War. I heard Fonda only had a brief cameo. To be honest, I never saw her in the movie. Not that I looked for her either. Her role must have been very brief. Yesterday I was talking with a close friend and he asked what I was doing yesterday and asked if I wanted to play golf and I said I couldn’t because I had stuff to do and also because I was going to dinner and the movies with my wife. I said we were going to see the Butler and his reaction was, “why are you going to see that liberal movie?” I told him when I agreed to see it that I didn’t know what it was about and that my wife wanted to see it. We both had a good laugh because that was the real reason we were seeing it.

After the discussion on our website I decided to see it with an open mind. I am fan of history so I knew from that point of view I would probably like it. From what I read on various Internet sites, I was expecting a movie that was very political and from a liberal perspective. I would have to say that the people commenting never saw the movie or saw from a different perspective than me. I’m sure there were moments of subtle politics I may have missed because I was not looking for them. I didn’t go looking for historical inaccuracies or to see if it had a liberal slant. I’m not saying there may not have been some, but I didn’t notice them. The movie is loosely based on the life of Eugene Allen. The movie is a fictionalized account of his life. I didn’t realize this until after seeing the movie. That sort of changes the movie for me. I felt as if the movie had a Forrest Gump type quality to it in that just as Gump happened to appear in huge moments of history, so did Cecil. He was there and witnessed conversations between the various President’s and advisers. I had assumed that most of that was true, but knew they likely embellished some details. I would suggest not doing any fact checking before seeing the movie as it will change your perspective of the movie. I am glad I waited until afterwards as some very important parts of the movie are fiction.

The Butler is a movie about a black man, Cecil Gaines, that grew up in the cotton fields of the south with his family. Mariah Carey has a brief cameo as his mother. When he was a child his mom was raped by the plantation owner. His father knew what was happening but did nothing. When the owner returned after raping his wife, the father did stand up and was murdered.  The matriarch of the family then took him in and made him a server at her house and referred to him as a “house nigger”. He stayed there until late teens early adulthood when he decided to leave the plantation. He was unable to find a job until one night he broke into the restaurant of a hotel because he was hungry. From there he tutored under an older black man at the hotel and learned how to become a butler. Forrest Whitaker has the role of Gaines at the hotel in DC.

From there he went to work at hotel in Washington DC where he was noticed by someone at the White House who was in charge of hiring the staff. He was then hired to be a butler at the White House under President Eisenhower. Then we see his life as he serves under the various Presidents. He is married to Oprah Winfrey’s character and has 2 sons. The heart of the movie is the parallel worlds of black people living in America during the Civil Rights era. Gaines is a black man living a pretty good life, serving a white president. Meanwhile his oldest son, Louis, has went away to college in the south where he becomes involved in the civil rights movement and sees how black people are treated. The two have a falling out over the son’s actions. The son becomes involved with the Freedom Riders and eventually Martin Luther King. Some of the most powerful scenes are the butler serving meals at state dinners and serving the President, while his son is engaged in protests in the south, being beaten and put in jail. His son was with MLK when he was shot. He eventually went to work with the Black Panthers before leaving because he disagreed with the violent nature of the panthers.

In all 7 presidents are shown. The real life butler started work at the White House under Truman, but he was not depicted in the movie. Actors portrayed Eisenhower (Robin Williams), JFK, LBJ, Nixon and Reagan. Brief scenes were shown of Ford and Carter speaking in real life, but no interaction between them and Gaines. The movie skipped from Nixon to Reagan for the most part. It was during the Reagan term that Gaines left his job. Then it skips to the end where Barack Obama runs for President and wins. That is kind of the rah-rah moment of the movie. It seemed gratuitous to me, but that may have been the one time where my bias got in the way. The ending of the movie shows Gaines at the White House going to meet President Obama. Some of the movie is narrated by Gaines and shows him sitting in a chair, waiting to meet the President.

The acting in the movie was excellent. Whitaker and Winfrey did an excellent job. It has to be the front runner for the Academy Awards. I am not a fan of Winfrey in general, but I thought she did very well and I wouldn’t let it stop me from seeing the movie. Overall I think the movie did a good job of portraying the Civil Rights era to the best of my knowledge. While some of the characters may not be accurate, the time period is. I think it’s a movie that everyone should see as it sheds more light on what black people went through during that time. It’s hard to believe that 50 years ago our country went through this and that it took 200 years of our country’s existence to make right that which was so wrong on how such a large segment of our population was treated so poorly. It’s a movie we will be showing our kids when it comes out on video. Earlier this week we saw the movie 42 about Jackie Robinson. Two very powerful movies about racism in America. I think it definitely gives us a different perspective, especially for those under 50 who don’t remember the civil rights era. We study some of it in school, but seeing it portrayed in a movie I think hits home that much more.

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Helping Foster Kids

Last week there was a horrific story out of Davis regarding the Families First Facility and how kids in this facility were not being watched and the abuse that was going on that eventually led to the arrest of 13 & 14 year old boys in the rape of an 11 year old girl.

Our website had a discussions about it, Davis Foster Care.  Some of our members have been involved in helping foster kids and had some suggestions on changes and ways things can be improved. One of our members is in law enforcement and offered their perspective on this issue.

Yesterday I saw something online about an organization that is doing something about this right here in Elk Grove.  A local high school teacher, Mike Jones at Monterey Trail High School has helped form Courageous Connections.  There was a nice writeup about the organization in EdSource.  They are helping foster kids in Elk Grove have normal lives.

I posted the story on our website, Supporting Foster Children in Elk Grove, to give an example of how things can be changed and hopefully give people a chance to participate if they want to. Also to help promote this organization to even more people. One of our members suggested contacting Courageous Connections and offering to help. I emailed Mike Jones and invited him to sign up and participate and maybe give us more information on what they are doing. Within a few minutes he had done just that and told us more about what they needed. One specific need was a storage facility of some kind. I was contacted offline by one of our members, Connie Conley, who said she saw the story on our site and contacted Mike Jones and they may have something they can provide. There are other items and things the organization needs.

We often talk about how it’s not the role of government but private parties and charities to help take care of people. This is a chance for those who want to help out whether it’s with money, time or supplies to do just that and see where their donations are going.  Hopefully we can create more awareness of this issue and help this organization and others provide a safe place for kids who don’t have a family to have normal lives.

Doc Souza
Elk Grove Laguna Forums

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Teens and Social Media

As a father of two boys who are not yet teens, the questions are already coming up about when can they get a cell phone, when they can have a Facebook account. Some other kids their age already have one or the other, or maybe both. Being somewhat more conservative, I don’t see the rush to allow that into their lives. Every kid and every situation is different and each family has to figure that out for themselves. Our kids are either with us, with family or with friends and there is always an adult nearby. They aren’t out walking around town by themselves, so there is no need for them to have a cell phone. I see younger kids, under 10, all the time walking around, riding their bikes, going to the store, hanging out at parks without any adults around and I don’t think that is a good idea. Kids have plenty of time to learn independence. They are very impressionable at that age and aren’t ready physically or emotionally to be just be out on their own. They don’t have life experience yet. There is nothing that says letting your kids do whatever at 10 means they will be more responsible at 16.  Some parents are reactive and some are proactive. I don’t believe in giving kids everything and then taking away things if they mess up. I think privileges should be earned. A cell phone is not a right.

There have been a lot of stories lately about Internet bullying, teen suicides and the drama that comes out of kids who are not mature enough to handle situations being thrown at them.  Facebook played a part in a teen who was murdered recently that we have been discussing on our website,

Being a teen is hard enough without adding the pressures of social media and Facebook type websites that really have no benefits to teens. Throw in texting and that instant communication where one mistake can suddenly be broadcast all over the place and it’s just something most kids don’t need. We all want to be “good” parents and give our kids the best things and give them things we didn’t have as kids. We are as guilty of that as any parents and our kids are very spoiled and don’t realize it. But we are pretty strict on what they can and can’t do and we won’t parent based on how others parent. Just because another kid has a cell phone or is on Facebook will not influence our decisions as parents and what we think is best for our kids. Technology has brought us a lot of good, but it has also brought us some bad things. It’s up to parents to be parents.

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Have you ever thought about starting your own online forum?

It seems like just about everyone these days has a blog. Most people want a place to share their thoughts with people publicly, but not necessarily verbally. A blog is a good place to start, it’s free and not a lot of work to set up or maintain. You just add your random thoughts and you can put it out there for the world to see.

What if you want more than that? What if you want to share your opinions but also want to get feedback from others? A blog can kind of do that, but it’s not what it’s meant to do. People can comment and you can respond, but it’s cumbersome. You can join a local community forum. Many communities have one or more, depending on the size of your city. But then you are just one voice among many voices and not directing it anywhere.

You can do what I did and start your own forum. I was a member of another forum for many years and finally decided I wanted to do something myself. I had experience being a member of a forum, but zero trying to actually run one. There were a lot of questions? What type of forum? What type of forum software to use? How to administrate it? How do I get people to join? How do I keep them there? Can I make money at it? What is my goal? All questions I had to figure out.

I knew I wanted a community forum where people in my city of Elk Grove could connect online and discuss a wide array of topics. Issues such as those affecting our city, national issues, sports, entertainment, home improvement, health, food etc. You can also do forums that are more specific such as products or hobbies. There are car forums and repair forums to name a couple. I’ve always been very opinionated so I knew I wanted a forum to express my opinions and also let others express theirs. I also wanted to have an impact on the community in a couple of ways. One, I wanted to help small businesses who can’t afford to pay a lot of money to advertise by giving them an online presence that they may not otherwise have. Secondly, I wanted to help promote issues that I feel are important to the city and the people living here. I felt there was a void in that area here in Elk Grove.

With the help of a friend who is a publisher I decided to write a book about my experiences starting my own online forum. There is also information that will help people even if they are not interested in starting their own forum, such as how to use social media to promote their business or causes.

Power Broker

Here is sample of what you can learn from my book:

• How to get authority, and why you must have it to succeed
• Why small forums are the best online opportunity since 2012
• Why small niche blogs are now almost guaranteed to fail
• The two social skills required for authority–and how to get them
• Killer strategies for growing your audience quickly
• How to identify problems that need to be solved
• Finding solutions people need with crowd sourcing
• 5 Essential Requirements for a successful online community
• How to start your community with just a few people you know
• Prosper without Google PR or top search results
• Top 7 Reasons online communities fail, and how to prevent them
• How to know the right size for a niche
• How to get great content for free
• Learn how to estimate how many members you need to succeed
• How to find discussion topics that people want to see
• How to keep followers and members coming back
• No-fail hot topics you can use with confidence
• How to get noticed by the press
• Why niche forums are now more profitable than ever
• The secret to getting advertisers coming back for more
• More ways to monetize your forum
• Easy guide to setting up your forum, written by the tech wiz who did it
• How to make your Facebook page liked
• Twitter strategies that elevate you to people that matter
• Why you shouldn’t use conventional Facebook strategies with a micro niche forum
• Successful contests online with prizes people love– that cost you nothing.
• Offline promotion strategies that get you noticed by the right people

My book is available on for $2.99. You can download it right onto your computer, Kindle, smart phone or tablet. Click on the link below for more information or to download your copy.

Power Broker: Dominate Social Media. Build Massive Authority. How To Start and Run A Profitable Online Micro Niche Forum

If you want see how our forum is run or you have any questions on how start a forum or use the information in my book, you can visit our website Elk Grove Laguna Forums

Doc Souza

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Why is it that pit bulls are so controversial?


It seems that this is a story that just won’t go away. Every day there are stories somewhere about a pit bull attack on someone. Here is our latest discussion where we have quite a few examples including a woman being mauled to death and that’s just the tip of the ice berg.

Originally posted on elkgrovelaguna:

Not sure why, but any discussion on our website that deals with pit bulls always ends up being one of the most heated topics. We currently have another discussion regarding pit bulls now, Pit Bulls and Chihuahuas
It seems people either hate them or love them and not much in the middle. With two small kids I would never own one. Too many stories about them attacking not only other dogs and strangers but often their own family members. Any dog breed has a propensity to bite. Contrary to what some people think, dogs are animals and not humans. Animals are unpredictable. Sometimes for whatever reason dogs snap. The issue with this particular breed of dog is what happens when it does snap? The damage is often very bad and sometimes fatal. The question seems to be is it a problem with the breed or is it just bad owners?…

View original 167 more words

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Should the City of Elk Grove take over fire and parks from the CSD?

If not now, then when? At some we will need to have this discussion. In most cities services like parks, fire, and police are under one umbrella and that local body controls everything. Elk Grove is a fairly young city, only turning 13 this year, and has had it’s share of growing pains that included a city council that was not popular with a lot of citizens. 4 of the original 5 are now gone and the lone remaining council member, Jim Cooper is running for Assembly in 2014. By most accounts the current city council has done a much better job, of course depending upon who you ask. If you ask the regulars at the council meetings you will likely get a different answer because to most, development is an evil word and most all should not be approved. I bring this up first because over the years on our website or others, whenever the topic of merging the parks and fire with the city comes up, the first comments are about how people don’t trust the city, and how they are afraid of what the city will do with the parks and fire. Much of that is based on the initial city council who were not responsive and lacked transparency. Also the initial council seemed to be controlled by a city manager and contracted planning staff.

During this time the CSD has for the most part received a pass from most local activists who do not hold the CSD board to the same level of accountability that they do the city council, in my opinion. In discussions on this topic I always got the feeling that people were afraid to criticize the CSD out of fear it would fuel a merger or takeover by the city. Also during the early years of city hood the City Council and CSD had some major disagreements, over parks, median landscaping, fees. It was during this time that the CSD made a decision that was not in the best interests of Elk Grove residents and taxpayers. That was the decision to merge with the Galt Fire Department. To myself and many others, this decision was primarily based on the thought that merging with Galt Fire would make it more difficult for the city to take over parks and fire from the CSD because now the CSD was more than just Elk Grove. The CSD boundaries were already different than the city of Elk Grove, but adding in another city 10 miles south of us made it that much larger.

During that debate we asked what were the benefits to Elk Grove in merging with Galt. The only benefits we were told about was that since all local fire departments provide mutual aid to each other, improving Galt’s fire department would help Elk Grove residents in the event Galt fire needed to aid the Elk Grove fire department. Elk Grove also receives mutual aid from Sacramento City Fire and Sac Metro Fire who have equipment and facilities comparable to Elk Grove. With 6 fire stations in Elk Grove and only 2 in Galt, I am not sure how often Galt was called in to mutually aid Elk Grove. Sac City and Sac Metro likely have closer stations.

The real beneficiaries of the merger were Galt residents and Galt firefighters. Galt firefighters received increased salary and benefits to match their counterparts in Elk Grove. Galt residents got upgraded equipment and facilities and better trained firefighters. This came at the expense of Elk Grove taxpayers. Galt residents voted down an attempt to raise taxes to improve their fire protection. The merger was pushed by the then CSD board and administration. It also had the support of the firefighters union, but many Elk Grove firefighters were not in favor of it. A lot of them reluctantly went along with it because of the fear mongering over what some said might happen if the city took over the fire department.

The merger took place and one of the first decisions made by the then CSD GM and the fire chief (who was not popular with his own firefighters, for a variety of reasons) was a name change. They removed the name Elk Grove from the fire department that had proudly served this area for so many years. That didn’t sit well with many of the long time members of the Elk Grove Fire Department who saw the name change as knife in the back and a way to get back at them for not being supportive of the merger. In protest some still wore their old jackets for events in Elk Grove like the Santa Parade and rescuing Santa at the Dickens Faire until they were told not to by the fire chief. Working at the Galt fire stations is something most don’t want to do. They prefer to work in Elk Grove.

All this matters because now the CSD board is putting the safety of our community at risk with a decision to brown out, or take out of service, one engine on a rotating basis in the city of Elk Grove in a cost saving measure. With only 2 fire stations, Galt was not forced to participate in this and will keep both stations fully staffed. Benefit to Galt, loss to Elk Grove residents.

Why are we at this point? Like many government organizations the CSD lived well during the good times, and spent money on lots of improvements and possibly equipment that wasn’t needed at the time. CSD gets its money from property taxes and according to the budget posted on their website, revenue is down about $6 million or roughly 16% since 2007. To their credit they have survived without going into the red like some municipalities. They have made cut backs. the Parks department staff has had to take furloughs and no raises. They have cut positions and some parks left to die because of a lack of funding. According to the 2012-13 budget, overtime in the fire department was just around $1.9 million or 11% of the payroll. That seems like a large amount. The district recently announced it was hiring more recruits to be able to cut down on the amount of overtime. In 2006 the CSD also purchased 97 acres in Wilton on Dillard Road for $4 million. This is outside the CSD boundaries. Now the land sits vacant, they can’t sell it and have no intention of developing it into a park. They overpaid for it in the first place and no are paying interest on a loan on the property, and according to comments of the CSD in 2011, the only income was from rent being paid by resident living in a house on the property. The purchase came at around the same time as the merger with Galt and was seen by some critics as another poison pill type of move to keep the city of Elk Grove from taking over because the land was outside the CSD and City boundaries.

I believe now is the time to think about consolidating the parks and fire under control of the city of Elk Grove. There would be some savings in elimninating some administrative and staffing positions that may not be needed. Possibly selling or finding another use for the existing CSD building on Elk Grove Blvd. It would also put control of the safety of Elk Grove residents back in the hands of Elk Grove citizens and taxpayers. It would once again put the name Elk Grove back onto the uniforms of our fire department.

You can also visit our website to vote in our poll and participate in our discussion,  Should the city of Elk Grove take over parks and fire from the CSD?   

Doc Souza

Elk Grove Laguna Forums

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The Kings Saga (updated 5/15/13)

When the Maloofs announced they were selling the Kings to Seattle, I said from the start that this was something personal against Sacramento. They felt somehow they were wronged by the city leaders and residents here because they didn’t get a new arena for free. Kevin Johnson wanted to put together a group to buy the Kings after the failed attempt to move to Anaheim and build a new arena, but the Maloofs said the team was not for sale. Then early this year they announced they were selling the team to Seattle. They made no attempt to sell the team to keep it here. Why is that? I think it was out of spite. They don’t want the team to have a new arena and possibly be successful here in Sacramento without them. They would rather the city have no team than a team without them. The Maloofs have been non entities here the past few years. When times were good they were on the sidelines jumping up and down, high fiving everyone. When times went bad they disappeared. They did nothing to improve the team. They hired lousy coaches, made bad trades and overpaid for mediocre players. 10 years ago the Kings were a team players wanted to play for. Now they can only get role players and bad coaches.  The economy played a huge role in the lack of fan attendance, but a winning team would still be drawing near sell out crowds. The team has been awful the past 5-6 years. No heart, no teamwork, no talent and no owners.

Now the mayor has put together a group that will buy the team, keep it here, promote the team internationally and has the money to improve the team and build a state of the art arena, but the Maloofs are still insisting on selling the team to Seattle owners. If the money is the same, why do they care? Do they want to be known as the owners who ran the team out of town? They are obviously petty individuals. They don’t want to see a team stay here, get a new arena and maybe even be successful. If the team moves to Seattle, the Kings name is dead. In a few years no one will care that the team was here. How many people associate the Oklahoma City Thunder with Seattle? Of course die hard knowledgeable sports fans do, but as time goes by the Kings will be forgotten by most people just as the Sonics name has.

No one knows what would have happened if the Maloofs announced they wanted to sell the team. Would Sacramento have put together this same dynamic type of partnership to buy the team and build arena? Maybe, maybe not. The pressure and deadline of trying to find new owners made everyone react more forcefully. Maybe the Maloofs feel they were burned over and over by the city and didn’t want to do it again. It just seems a lot of this is personal and spiteful. They know how much the fans love this team. That’s been obvious by the reaction these past few months.

Let’s hope the NBA owners will see how important it is to the community to keep the Kings here and that the team can be successful, in a new arena, and the Maloofs will forever have to see the Sacramento Kings name. I can’t see the NBA letting the team leave given everything that has transpired over the past couple of months. The mayor and the area have stepped up big time. The fans have shown their support with the Here We Stay and Here We Buy campaigns.

Update 4/29/13

The NBA relocation committee voted unanimously against the Kings moving to Seattle. What does this all mean? It should mean the Kings are staying in Sacramento, but will it be that easy? Will the Seattle group give up or fight on? It’s not likely they will win a fight with a group they need permission to join, but Chris Hanson released a statement tonight saying they are not giving up. Will it ruin any chance they have of getting an expansion team?  The NBA owners hold final approval over any deal. I don’t blame them for being upset. They made an offer for the team, and the Kings owners accepted it. But the NBA is an exclusive club and they reserve the right to approve any sales and also prevent teams from moving. Most cities would have given up, but Sacramento didn’t. Seattle deserves a team, but not this one.

What will the Maloofs do? I still firmly believe that they are petty, vindictive people who really don’t want the team to stay here.  I don’t think they will just quietly hand over the team, take their money and walk away. I think they want to burn some bridges and leave a scorched earth. I don’t trust them. If they can find a way to screw this up they will. They have tried for the past few months to move this team and prevent it from staying here, even going to the point of lobbying the other owners to approve this (that sure didn’t work) and trying to undermine the efforts to keep the team here by criticizing the offer from the new owners. They don’t like Kevin Johnson and it was their hope to move this team and give the fans here the finger. I don’t know what else they can do besides walk away. Doing anything other than that will show what kind of people they are. They are essentially a reality show. “How to blow your family’s wealth.” That’s what they will be known for. It’s obvious the other owners and the commissioner are tired of their act and the vote today confirms that. Let’s hope in a 2 weeks when all the owners vote on this that they send them packing and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Update 5/15/13

The NBA owners voted to deny the move to Seattle, 22-8. There was no vote on the sale of the Kings to the Sacramento group. During his press conference, NBA Commissioner David Stern measured his words very carefully when talking about the Maloofs, saying they aren’t forced to sell the team, but he expects an agreement in 24-48 hours. Afterwards local reporters spoke to George Maloof who said the family was disappointed because they wanted to sell the team to the Seattle group. They would stand to get an additional $100 million so I don’t blame them in that regard. When asked if their backs are against the wall or if they feel pressured to sell, Maloof said no they don’t feel pressured. When asked if they could still keep the team he said that is one of the options. He also said they tried to sell to a Sacramento group but no one came forward. That is contrary to what everyone else has said.  They repeatedly said the team was not for sale. So now here we are again with the Maloofs in control not sure what they should do and Sacramento Kings fans still can’t fully celebrate. It’s something the city and the fans have been through over and over and will continue to go through until the Maloofs are gone.  Will they finally give up and sell or will they continue to push this spiteful chapter to another level? They are not to be trusted. Until they are removed from the team there can be no true celebration.

Doc Souza
Elk Grove Laguna Forums

Author of: Power Broker: Dominate Social Media | Build Massive Authority | How To Start and Run A Profitable Online Micro Niche Forum

Power Broker

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