More Scandal on the Baliout

Apparently, some of the banks, business firms, and automakers that have received government bailout money, have been contributing some of that money to those in Congress that voted for the bailout in the first place.

I know, I couldn’t believe it either, but according to RawStory, it is true.

I find this absolutely ridiculous, and it pisses me off more than the fact that AIG and others were using the bailout money to provide bonuses for their executives. I mean that situation pissed me off. I haven’t written about it because I don’t feel that I have anything new to add to the dialogue (EVERYBODY’S talking about it), but at least with those jerks it was a company issue. The company was using government money to reward poor operation of the company, but there were no governmental ties. It was just another case of a corporation taking advantage of others, and really, can we be surprised at that? No. That’s what corporations do, it is what they have always done, and it is what they will continue to do if left to their own devices.

But to use some of the bailout money to contribute to campaign funds for politicians that had a hand in passing the bailout in the first place? That reeks of a whole new smell of shit. It is cronyism and bribery and should be illegal. True, the contributions are small in comparison to the amount of money given to these ass hat companies, but the size of the donation does not matter. The outrage here is not that the corporations are misusing the bailout funds, though that certainly is an issue, but how they are misusing them. How is it legal, or even okay, to give government officials money from funds that they have given to you? It is almost as if these members of Congress donated to themselves, using government money.

Oh wait, that’s exactly what they did. In an attempt to lessen the backlash against the government some Senators and Representatives have said that they will not accept donated money from bailed out companies. That’s all well and good, but I have a few questions.

One: How long will that last? These companies were bailed out now because they had to be. What happens when they become economically viable again? Will it then be okay to accept campaign donations? It seems to me that the answer will be yes, but that it should be no. In fact, I don’t think that anyone should be able to donate money to political campaigns. Campaigns should not be about how much money you have, or can raise. They should be about the issues. All candidates running for office of any kind should be provided a set amount from the government, and that should be all they have to spend. That might be a good first step in cleaning up the dirt that has crept so far into our political system that it is ruining everything. Like sand in a swimsuit, it simply has to get washed out.

Two: How is this allowed to happen? Why wasn’t there some kind of oversight that would deny these types of contributions in the first place? By bailing out these companies, the government, and by extension the American People, took control of them. That should have made it easy to prevent this kind of thing from happening, but instead it appears that it just made it easier.

Three: What is going to happen to the people that accepted these donations? If the candidate themselves did not know where the money came from, someone in their campaign did and should have taken the necessary steps to keep that dirty government turned corporate turned government from entering the campaign coffers. Chances are nothing will happen to those that accepted these kinds of donations. They might get yelled at, asked to resign or return the money, but in the end they will issue and apology, and that will be that. Unless, of course, we as Americans (whatever our political creed–we are still AMERICANS) tell them to get bent and use our power as citizens and voters to show them that we are sick of being fleeced and financially raped for the benefit of those who are supposed to be looking out for us.

The power to vote is a small and delicate one. It is also one that is easily subverted by hot button issues that really have nothing to do with the state of the nation, Homosexual marriage, or whether creationism can be taught in school, are two prime examples of distracting issues. Sure, they are important to people, and they need to be addressed, but not before things like national security, financial stability, and how to achieve those things.

It is at times like this that I am both glad and sad that I am not living in America right now. Glad because I do not have to deal with this crap on a daily basis. Sad because I do not have to deal with this on a daily basis and have no real chance to affect any kind of activity for change except through this blog which does not reach nearly enough people, and is too inconsistently updated to have much of an impact anyway.

Advertisements

Joe the Schmuck Need SEX!

Yeah, so the douchebag plumber is back in the news for some reason. I feel gross just writing about him and helping to keep this ridiculous so called “political career/speaker” alive, but this one was just too much.

In a recent address to a conservative group the moronic ex”Israeli war correspondent”–how long did that last? says that he is horny from all the love in the room. Here is the video:

Now, I don’t have a problem with people being horny, whether they are conservative or liberal, but what gets me is that he makes this statement to a roomful of conservatives and they laugh like it’s no big deal, which it isn’t. Him telling a roomful of elitist, snobbish, prudish folks that he’s horny and getting a laugh from them is fine in my book.

So what’s the problem? Well, and I could just be speaking out of ass here because I have no proof for anything I am about to say (but that doesn’t stop Rush or Joe or Sara or any of those twits on Fox News), but I’m going to go on a little rant anyway.

It seems to me that if the conservative movement really wants to be conservative, and espouse those values to the American citizenry, then they should not laugh at jokes like this. Liberals are horny, remember. We are horny godless people who want everyone to become homosexuals who are addicted to marijuana. Conservatives are here to save us from those evil liberals, and how can they do that if they are openly laughing at dirty jokes.

True Schmucky McSchmuckmuck Plumber Guy is not a politician, but he does seem to have become a spokesperson of sorts for the conservatives and the Republican party, which is asinine in and of itself, but that’s okay with me. I have nothing against conservative values, per se, but I definitely prefer more liberal ones, so if the Cons want to choose this moron to speak for them, that is okay in my book because that just means the conservatism will move closer to liberalism, and maybe we can really start putting this country back together.

It isn’t just the horny remark that kind of angered me–well angered isn’t the right word, I guess stupefied would be better–but the indication that only Conservatives care about working hard to fix the country. He mentions that they are going to have to get up and put in lots of overtime to make this country great again (or something like that. I don’t have a transcript of the tape, and while I’ve watched it twice, I refuse to watch it again). See, says we, which is an inclusive word, but he is addressing a roomful of conservatives, which to me implies that he thinks they are the only ones who care about putting the USA back on the right track. If he has said something like, we as Americans, or all Americans, then I could probably let this slide, and not even have been bothered with this post. But since he didn’t, I got a little riled up.

Also, I have to wonder who he thinks will pay him for that over-time because that sure isn’t a conservative idea. Sure, Cons believe that they should get paid for their work, but if that work cannot get done in 8 hours, too bad, you still have to finish the work, and eat those extra hours. Sorry Joe, you should have been working harder, you shouldn’t have taken that 10 minute break or had lunch.

So again Joe the Douche demonstrates how much of a twit he really is, while shedding further light on the disconnection from the Conservative movement and the general American public, some of whom, of course, are Conservatives, but I would argue that a lot of conservatives will begin to take issue with the amount of speaking time and conservative focus this moron is getting.

Nice While it lasted

After three straight weeks of snow here in Liberec during the month of February, it finally seemed that Spring had arrived. The sun was coming out earlier and setting later, the temperature rose from -4 degrees Celsius to about 12 degrees. Blue skies, ducks, and some blossimg flowers were seen. It was a nice time to be here, and a sign that Old Man Winter had finally decided to retire for another season. Yep, things were looking up.

That lasted for about two weeks. Now the sun is gone again, though it still rises early–it just can’t be seen through the blanket of concrete gray lining the sky. The temperature is once again down to abot -4, and the ducks are gone. Those flowers I saw blooming are gone as well, buried under 10cm of snow. That’s right, to make things worse and really let us now that Old Man Winter was just taking a ciesta, and had not gone into his icy cave to hibernate, it has been snowing for three days straight. And it is not a light snow. It is a windy, swirling, big flaked hard falling snow that does not seem to have an end in sight. Of course it will end, hopefully soon, but for now it is here to stay.

I know it is a little early (but not by much) to expect that Winter be over and Spring to take charge, but I think it is too late in the year for it to still be snowing. Hopefully Old Man Winter and Sister Spring will realize this, reconcile their troubled relationship, and let us all get on with our lives in the warm glow of the Spring sun.

Baby Steps to Martial Law

On March 10, a man went on a shooting spree in a small town in Alabama. He killed 11 people (and himself). The Alabama town, Samson, only has five police officers, so they understandably needed help to contain the crime scene and make sure that it was not destroyed by traffic and looky loos. Okay, I get that. That is not a problem. However, they did not get this help in the form of other sanctioned police officers, Federal Marshals, FBI Agents, or the National Guard; they did get help from 22 armed Army Troops from nearby by Fort Rucker.

That’s right, 22 United States Army Troops carrying handguns, were on site to “control traffic and make sure the crime scene was not trampled.” Many questions remain unanswered about this whole affair, the first and biggest one being: Who authorized the deployment of these troops? See, nobody seems to know that. The local police are saying that they did not ask the Army for help. The Governor and others in the state government are also denying that they requested any help from the troops, though they “were glad they were there.”

A while ago I wrote a post on how Marines were being used at DUI checkpoints in California. Now that action may also have been illegal, and it definitely scares me, but at least in that instance it was clear who asked for them to be there. This is not the case in Alabama, and that is scary. It’s scary because the military has to be asked, under a very strict and formal set of regulations, before it can operate in any capacity on home soil. Their job is not to police the homeland, or provide security; that is why we have the National Guard as well as Federal and State agencies. But someone had to request that they come to Samson and help with crime scene containment, and if we don’t know who, then that is a problem.

Harvey Perritt, spokesman for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va., told CNSNews.com on Monday that the military police soldiers, along with the provost marshal were sent to Samson.

“The purpose for sending the military police, the authority for doing so, and what duties they performed is the subject of an ongoing commander’s inquiry–directed by the commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command,” Perritt said. “In addition to determining the facts, this inquiry will also determine whether law, regulation and policy were followed.”

It’s all well and good to look into who issued the order and to make sure that the proper regulations and policies were followed, but it seems to me that that information should already be known. This should not be a matter of something happened and now we need to find out who ordered it, and if those orders were legal. The chain of command should have been followed, and this includes leaving a clear and easy to read trail of just what happened because now it is quite possible that we will never know who ordered the troops there and if it was done legally.

Some might be asking what the big deal is. Sure, they might say, there were troops on home soil, but they were only there to preserve a crime scene. They weren’t there to police the population. And yes, they were armed, but so what? Regular police officers are armed all the time, and no one complains about that. These claims can be backed up by Jim Stromenger, a dispatcher at the Samson Police Depatrment statement that the troops: “came in to help with traffic control and to secure the crime scene” and that the department was glad for the help. “They weren’t here to police, let me make that clear. They were here to help with traffic and to control the crime scene–so people wouldn’t trample all over (it).”

Well newflash Jim, “traffic control and securing the crime scene” is police work. That is what the cops do when a crime has been committed. It is a basic part of their job, along with investigating crimes and protecting people. So to say that the troops were not there to do police work is a bald faced lie. They WERE there to do police work, and nobody knows who called them in.

Jeff Emerson, the Governor of Alabama’s press secretary issued this statement which indicates that the Governor is not too concerned about this incident:

“From what I understand it was a few folks who came to direct traffic or help where they could,” Emerson said. “If it had been more than what it was there might be a reason for concern, but these folks just came to see if they could help and left.”

Well sure, it wasn’t a whole battalion of troops, but it was still 22 armed US Military Personnel operating (possibly illegally) on American soil. It doesn’t really matter how many there were. It could have been one, or it could have been 100, either way it is a possibly illegal act and just another example of how close to losing our rights as American citizens and facing a state of Martial law we are. Sure, this is just one incident, and thankfully no one was harmed or dragged away by these troops, but something like Martial Law cannot just happen overnight. It has to be a slow, almost invisible process, and then when there is another terrorist attack, huge natural disaster, or some other large scale incident it will be all that much more easy to declare the use of American troops on American soil.

It is frightening to think that somthing like this could actually happen, but what is more frightening is that the American people seem to be okay with it. Sure, there are dissenters and folks who are scared by this, but they are in the minority. Of course, who can blame them when things are so bad right now that it is hard to take care of yourself and your family. The last thing most people are thinking about is a the Martial States of America, and that is why it is such a possibility. We have so many things to worry about and be afraid of that we have reached our threshold, and cannot be concerned about a measly 22 Army Troops operating in a law enforcement capacity in the middle of nowehere Alabama, but this is the exact kind of thing that we should be worried about.

The Watchmen

So I saw the Watchmen last week, and this post will talk about my thoughts, feelings, reactions to it.

First: It was almost shot for shot from the comic, which was nice. Of course they had to change things/leave some things out, and I do not begrudge the filmmakers for the liberties they took. The comic is a mass of superhero deconstruction, circular and layered narrative, and darkness. All of these things would make it hard to film a movie based on the comic (graphic novel for you purists out there) and I think Zach Snyder and company did a decent job of bringing it to the screen. The characters and their motivations were there (for the most part) as was the sense of desperation and helplessness contained in the comic. So kudos to them for that.

I was worried going into the movie that it was going to be terrible. I am not a big fan of Zach Snyder–I did enjoy his remake of Dawn of the Dead (except for the whole zombie baby thing which was just lame) but I thought 300 was just terrible–even for an action movie. My problems with 300 are similar to the problems I have with The Watchmen. 300, for being an action flick, felt stale to me. Sure, there was a lot of action, but it was shot in slo-mo and freeze frame that really took me out of the action. Sure some of this is cool and visually stunning, but when every spear thrust or movement of foot and fist is stopped so you can see the point of impact it just gets boring. There is no flow to the action, which just makes it boring to watch.

So, onto the Watchmen. The actions scenes, and the whole movie, is a visual spectacle, but again the action is slowed and stopped throughout because of Snyder’s insistence on the new stop motion technique that he “perfected” with 300. The problem is, Watchmen is nearly three hours long, and this kind of matrix style action gets old FAST. By the second time I had to see a slow motion movement from a hero involved in some kind of action scene I was already bored with the technique. A few examples: Silk Spectre II landing on the rooftop and the movie stopping for a frame before she rolls and completes the landing. Or when Rorscharc kicks open the door to the Comedian’s apartment. The door doesn’t just fly open to reveal Rorschac in the doorway, but it flies open at a slowed speed to reveal him in a three second sequence that should have taken half a second. Or the fight in the prison when Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II beat the hell out of a bunch of prisoners. Not only was the fact that they didn’t get touched just downright unbelievable (they are superheroes, sure, but they have no special powers so they should have at least taken a punch or two) but the scene was so unexciting that it felt as gratutious as it was (the scene was made just for the movie; it is not in the comic). Had there been something at stake in the fight then it may have been exciting, but there wasn’t. In fact, with the exception of the opening ass kicking given to the Comedian, and the end when Rorschach and Nite Owl II go up against Veidt, there was nothing at stake in any of the action scenes.Well maybe when Rorschach gets caught by the cops, but even that felt rushed and not very dramatic.

What I am trying to say is that for a movie full of violence, gore, and bones and blood breaking through the skin, there was no tension or drama in any of it. The violence was meaningless (which could have been what the filmmakers were going for, but I have a hard time justifying that interpretation), and therefore boring.

My biggest problem with the Watchmen, though, was that I did not care about any of the characters. I knew who they were and what motivated them from reading the comic, but the movie did not give me any real reason to invest myself in them, even when it lifted things straight from the comic–like Nite Owl II’s feelings of impotency (both literal and figurative). The movie is two hours and forty three minutes long, and that is a long time to spend with characters that you don’t care about.

Also, the editing of the music into the film was hilariously bad. It seemed to me that the makers had a list of songs they wanted to include in the movie, and instead of finding emotionally relevant places to put them, they just kind of shoved them in as an afterthought. This choice really drove me out of the movie, and caused me to laugh out loud in the theater. Also, while the songe were fine, they were uninspired because we have heard the used millions of times in movies and on television. It felt like Snyder didn’t think he could do anything original with the movie because he wanted to be so faithful to the comic. I appreciate that he was faithful, and I don’t know how I would have felt about the movie if he strayed from the source material than he did (I probably would have hated it) but film is a different media than comics so some originality/interpretation is needed. And while he added and cut some things, and changed the ending, these were all minor things to play with, and they found the movie wanting in this viewer’s opinion. The worst of these poor musical editing choices was the sex scene between Dan and Laurie on Archy. I laughed out loud through the whole thing, and rolled my eyes because it was just so bad and campy.

The acting was okay, for the most part, with the exception of Malin Ackerman, who was atrocious. To me it seemed like she was trying to act like Drew Berrymore, what with her doe eyed looks and her timid voice. I cringed at every scene she was in, and was appalled by the fact that she did not smoke a single cigarette during the whole movie. I take issue with this because the Silk Spectre II is a chaing smoking champion, and I think that really adds something to her character. She is just a woman who plays dress up and fights crime because that is what her mother wanted her to do. The constant smoking demonstrates how insecure she is, and that she has to fall back on the crutch of cigarettes. True, this does not change the movie, and I am not saying that I didn’t like the movie because she didn’t smoke, but it would have been a nice touch, especially considering how true they were to the comic in most other respects.

All in all I will say that it was just ok. It is not going to go on my list of favorite movies or comic book movies or anything, but I am glad it was finally made and that I got a chance to see it on the big screen. I do not know if I would watch it again, but I might because there are a lot of little things that I missed the first time around. Still, for being as long as it was, it did not really justify that running length to me.

6/10

Back

I am back after a long hiatus. Sorry about that folks, and rest assured that I have plenty to gripe about. This post will not address those gripes, though, as I am tired and worn out from yet another long weekend in Praha.

I will give you this kinda funny anecdote from the weekend though:

I went to a dance club with some friends. I don’t dance, but I drink beer so I still enjoyed myself. We went with a couple of cute Czech girls (that is a redundancy by the way) who were into dancing and drinking beer.

As I stood on the sidelines of the dance floor I said to my friend (presciently it turns out) whenever a girl asks me to dance I say, “I don’t dance unless it’s between the sheets.”

A moment later, one of the girls asked me to dance. I smiled and instantly made myself a liar because I just said, I don’t dance. I left out the between the sheets part, mostly because I was not sure if she would get the reference, I did not want to explain it to her, and I did not want her to think of me as a creep.

Well, finally I had enough beer and she asked me again so I said ok, but I warned her that I can’t dance. She did not care and drug me out onto the dance floor where I preceded to sway back and forth–that’s what dancing means to me. We were trying to talk over the loud ass music and at one point she said “You’re adorable.”  Or she might have said, “You’re horrible.” I wasn’t sure which, but I preferred the former to the latter so I said “So are you.” She smiled, so I guess she did say adorable and not horrible.

Later as we left the club she told me that I was different.

To clarify I asked her good different or bad different. Without hesitation she said “bad,” but then immediately said “good.” I am inclined to think she meant good and that the lateness of the hour (430 am), drunkenness, and the language barrier got in the way for a moment. At any rate, I thought the whole thing was kind of funny, and I am saddened because I did not get her phone number which means that I will probably not see her again.

Still, it was nice to flirt with her, and when she laughed I like to think she was laughing with me and not at me. All in all, I had a good time.