Thursday, March 30, 2006
So, go check it out. I really like this one.
It's called "All Life's a Game."
Hatch said, falsly, that this bill grants amnesty, which he thinks is wrong. He added that "it would hurt small businesses." How? I don't know. I couldn't find an article or transcript where he elaborated. (I didn't look terribly hard though.)
If the Senate doesn't figure out how to deal with this issue before the end of the legislative session and becomes a big election issue, Pete Ashdown has a chance to pin Hatch to the mat on this issue.
It's a matter of framing the debate. If Ashdown can frame the debate in the same way his fellow Democrats and the mostly sane Republicans are doing then he could easily take this issue to the people of Utah. We have a high immigrant population here, as well. If he could energize their vote, it would be a good thing. It's no trick to explain to people how this legislation is fair and balanced, this could be a big issue for Democrats in general.
This is also a compassion issue. People want to see actual Christian candidates. How much more Christian can you get than offering help to the under-priveleged and the poor... the tired huddled masses...?
I could write a rousing speech for a candidate in support of this legislation for a stump speech and it would be beautiful. I want to see Pete Ashdown's people doing the same. I want to see Orrin Hatch out of office.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
It Isn't Amnesty.
This editorial says it all. I'm surprised at how much the Immigrant debate hasn't been more in the forefront in the last five years, but now it seems to be blowing up.
Personally, I can get behind the bi-partisan measures proposed by the judiciary committee and my feelings on it echoed the Times editorial before I even knew it existed.
I've always been appalled at the feelings of anger toward illegal immigrants from some conservatives I've spoken with. When we did our last screening of This Divided State at Utah Valley State College it was hosted by the college Republicans. The head of their organization explained afterwards, during the debate, that the single largest problem facing the USA was illegal immigration and he intimated that what the minute-men were doing was admirable. It was a little shocking that thinking that barbaric could still exist.
The sentiment that we should all maintain about immigration in this country is emblazoned on one of the most recognizable American landmarks and symbols of freedom.
Read it. The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus. It is engraved on a tablet in the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty stands:
It seems to me that the plan proposed by the Senate Judiciary committee truly does lift their lamp beside our golden door.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
She felt that the vast majority of Muslims were terrorists and they created the religion, so the religion was a terrorist one. I tried calmly explaining that only a small minority of muslims were terrorists and that NO religion is a "terrorist" one.
I explained that defining a religion by a minority of people perverting the doctrine isn't fair and was, in fact, dangerous. "That would be me saying that the LDS faith is a Republican religion because a lot of them around here that I see most are Republicans."
Her response? "I'd agree with that. Mormonism is a Republican religion."
I calmly tried explaining that even the Senate Minority Leader was both a Mormon and Democrat and outside of Utah I'd imagine the mix of Democrats and Republicans in the faith to be the same as the rest of the country. Fifty-fifty.
"No," she continued. "The majority of Mormons are Republicans and the majority of Muslims are terrorists."
I tried to explain further that these small sects of fundamentalists were based largely in the middle east and that there were way to many Muslims in the world to couch them all as middle-eastern terrorists. "There's more Muslims in Europe than in the middle-east and they aren't all terrorists in the middle-east, so it's obvious it's only a minority."
I found some numbers on Wikipedia that explains only 18% of the worshippers of Islam live in the middle-east. Most live in Sub-Saharan Africa (20%) or Asia (30%). Those Muslims aren't terrorists.
This answer didn't hold much water with her. Then she started attacking me personally. She's a political science major at UVSC and explained that I was an un-informed idiot because she talked to the Syrian Ambassador (?) and muslims are terrorists.
I tried explaining to her that not all Christians are terrorists because a small minority of them blow up abortion clinics. I said Christianity isn't defined by discrimination of same-sex couples although some inside it's faith have perverted to that end. I tried explaining that you couldn't describe an entire people as large as Muslims and say since the majority of them (even though not really) are terrorists that their entire religion is based in terrorism.
I don't know about you guys, but what I've researched into the Qu'ran, it teaches the same peace, love and understanding as any other organized religion.
If Muslims want to make sure that people as idiotic as Conservatives like my Sister-in-law don't keep running things, then they need to make an outreach effort to make sure people understand the actual tenets of their religion. Not the bombast that guys like Osama put in the mouths of their prophets.
FOR THE RECORD: I'm not identifying all conservatives through my sister-in-law, but she is a conservative.
Lately I've been watching really great movies. And two nights in a row I caught movies with Intermissions and three in a row films with Overtures at the beginning of the film. (East of Eden with just the overture, Lawrence of Arabia and Gone with the Wind with both.)
Why have these disapeared? The overture brings a certain elegance back to the movie-going experience and gives people time to get adjusted or arrive a few moments late. You get an emotional feeling of the movie before it starts. If the composer knows how to do his job (and most do) they can get you in the mood for the movie beforehand. It creates an all around better movie-viewing experience.
The Intermission, on the other hand, offers writers an amazing tool that I had never realized before the last few days. You can have an intermission and start a whole new story over. It's like two different screenplays. Take, for instance, Lawrence of Arabia. In the first half of the film you love Lawrence as much as anyone else. The Intermission begins and you see this man as a scrupulous hero.
You go out to the lobby, talk about what you just saw with your friend or date while you're buying popcorn and you go back in. Perhaps you're still wondering why the reporter at the funeral called him the most shameless exhibitionist since Barnum and Bailey. I know the first time I watched it I was, because I didn't see any exhibitionism in the first half of the film. It was all compassion.
The second half begins and a lot of time has passed. The reporter from Lawrence's funeral is now asking Prince Faisel for permission to cover Lawrence and the film's structure has shifted significantly. You're presented with the view of Lawrence from this reporter who sees him as one thing but portrays him as another thing in the news.
And then the massacre of Turkish troops happens and you wonder if the Lawrence you saw in the first half and this Lawrence are the same.
The Intermission is the only thing that made this film possible at all. It would be too long and it would be much more difficult to switch structures like that.
And movie theatres should be begging for films with intermissions. For instance, what if King Kong had an intermission? They would have doubled their popcorn sales and still been able to fit the same three showtimes per screen per day.
If movies are going to be that long, they owe it to the audience as well. It's hard to not pee during a three hour movie. If there was an intermission I could have watched an hour and a half of it and hit the break. I could run to the bathroom, refill my bottomless tub of popcorn and buy some more red vines.
I worked at a theatre that got one of the anniversary prints of Gone With the Wind a few years back and during the Intermission popcorn sales went through the roof.
Intermissions also create an enhanced social experience. You just witnessed the first half of something with two-to-six-hundred other people. Suddenly you have ten minutes to discuss and digest what you've seen with them. It would be great to see that again.
Theatres should be begging for Intermissions and Overtures. If movies were classy social experiences again, instead of shitty remakes of old TV shows, people might start going to the movies again. It's no wonder the older generations stop going, all the things they liked about movies (quality for example) don't go to movies.
I think I might be on to something. Anyone else have something to say about this?
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
I just wanted to direct you all to the website and blog of Neal Shaffer's new book "Borrowed Time."
I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but if it's as good as Neal's other books it will be something worth reading. As soon as Neal can get me a copy I'll put my thoughts up about it. In the meantime, you should check out his previous works. Particularly One Plus One. (That's the one we're developing currently.)
Check out Neal's regular blog, too. It's a daily read for me. He's a good guy and a good writer, he deserves all the support he can get. Comics need a wider audience, you should get in on them. If you aren't into books about superheroes in tights, Neal's books would be perfect for you.
Monday, March 27, 2006
And when will those saying, "So what," to all of that finally throw their hands up in the air and say the war was contrived nonsense for the detriment of all involved except those that will profit from it?
I'm just sick of people praising the war as a good thing. Not even this war specifically, either. Any war.
But I live in Utah, I bet I have to deal with that more than people in other states.
War is a bad thing. Whatever the reason, it's not something you should ever want to do. This memo that came out just proves how out of step the Bush Administration is with humanity.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
I Executive Produced this and I have to say, I'm quite impressed.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Why does Bush keep standing behind the idea that it was, and I quote, "unforseeable" for them to breach? I guess it's the same problem everyone has pinning him down to one cause for the war on Iraq. I was so mad I could spit when he told Helen Thomas the other day that the reasons for the war didn't shift and he didn't want to go to Iraq. Which is complete Bullshit. (Capital "B" intended). Everyone who's come out of the administration has said "Bush wanted to go to Iraq."
Anyway. To make a long story short. I think politicians (not just Bush and his ilk, but all of them) should be forced to admit when they were completely wrong. Then they should apologise publicly for it.
Think about how that would play on TV: "My Fellow Americans. During my bungling of the Katrina disaster, I severely misinformed you, the American people, when I said that the breach of the levee system was something no one had predicted. I apologise deeply. We could have done something about it beforehand, but we didn't. Quite frankly, I'm not sure I cared. And some of you are asking if therir president cares. Well, I do. I care. Perhaps some of you might remember this as my Checkers speech... Heh, heh, heh."
Friday, March 24, 2006
Here's an excerpt from the first paragraph:
"THE BUSH administration's newly unveiled National Security Strategy might well be subtitled "The Irony of Iran." Three years after the invasion of Iraq and the invention of the phrase "axis of evil," the administration now highlights the threat posed by Iran — whose radical government has been vastly strengthened by the invasion of Iraq. This is more tragedy than strategy, and it reflects the Manichean approach this administration has taken to the world."
A soldier dad in Texas (surprise, surprise) forces his 3-year-old daughter to kick and punch a 5-year-old neighbor boy while he videotapes it. After the girl kicks the shit out of the boy, the jarhead proudly declares his daughter the winner and then makes fun of the boy for not defending himself.
Read the full article here.
I'm frustrated with Democrats not realizing what it will take to make gains in this mid-term election. Here's a few points I think they need in order to win the votes and get their act together.
1) Offer viable alternatives to Bush policies that you disagree with, particularly the war. Get the entire party behind a reasonable and strategic solution to Bush's tentpole issues and take that to the American people. If I hear one more Democratic Strategist say, "It's not our job to offer alternative solutions, we're the minority party," I'm going to pull my hair out and never vote for another Democratic Candidate again. I'll go completely third party. Saying you don't need to offer solutions because you're the minority party is a good way of saying that you plan on staying the minority party.
2) Don't be afraid to stand on issues like fiscal sanity. I know, spending only what you have is a conservative ideal, but it's also a common sense one. In your campaigns, take Republicans to task about their liberal de-tax-and-spend-more fiscal solvency. Mention that Communist countries are bankrolling that deficit the Republicans just lifted the cap on. This is an issue democrats will win on.
3) Reframe the debate about domestic wire-tapping. This isn't about not using the tools against terrorism. This is about making sure the President stays within the bounds of the law. Get behind Feingold and a censure ("Look Ma, we do have spines!") and reorganize FISA rules to include oversight over any surveillance done by agents of our government. Period. Tell the American people that you would have fixed the rules for Bush but he didn't ask. He broke the law and side-stepped FISA. This is an issue the Democrats can win on if they actually start doing something about it.
4) Distance yourself from Lobby money. Run a campaign like Nader's 2000 presidential bid. Only personal donations. Yeah, you'll have less money, but you can use that in campaign speeches and materials that you're all grassroots and your Republican opponent is in the pockets of lobbyists up the yin-yang. It WILL work.
There's more, perhaps I'll post them a different time, but these are the big ones I see right now.
It's just frustrating to watch the Democrats, this close to an election, not do anything. Yeah, there are pockets of hope here and there, but there's nothing on a national scale that I can see to speak of. I mean, if they lose any more spine, their party symbol can only be properly rendered by the above picture of Eeyore.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
I just wanted to point to a couple of articles in the local news here that would be worth reading.
One article backs up (sort of) a previous rant of mine about the price of natural gas.
The other is about Orrin Hatch's speech at UVSC yesterday. The more I hear about what this man says, the more I know that he is crazy. Even BYU's write-up of the speech painted him as a complete nut-job (well, any article portyaing any truth should). I can't believe that he continues to force his flag burning ammendment on people. Why do we need a flag-burning ammendment? Why do we need to ammend our Constitution to stifle freedom of speech and expression?
Yes, burning an American flag in most cases is probably a dick thing to do, but it shouldn't be illegal. It should just be reserved for the most harsh of statements and criticisms of the government (or Boy Scouts retiring flags).
A freedom of any expression, no matter how vulgar, is a cornerstone of our democracy. Once he eliminates flag-burning, what's next? Naughty words and porn? This is a slippery slope and we need to do our best to get this guy out of office before he does any more damage.
And his rants about activist judges...Get a new harp, man.
You should all read that piece about Hatch and then take the time to go visit Pete Ashdown's website and do what you can to get in on his campaign to bring Hatch down.
It just seems silly to me that he has to go on the offensive about the war. He should be on the defensive. He should be the one with the burden of proof. Not us.
Even prominent Iraqi's whom we support are calling Iraq's problem Civil War. How long will it be until the administration realizes this, admits it then deals with it head on?
Because of their pig-headedness and resistance to "flip-flopping" in the face of changing conditions and facts, who knows.
Who knows how long it will be before all the war in Bush's black sales bag is sold out and all he has left to sell is a little peace.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Read about them here.
It's an interesting read. It makes you wonder what the sponsors of the bills were thinking. Like HB148. It's sponsor, LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, designed this legislation to specifically damage custody battles in the case of homo-sexual parents. Who does he think he is, trying to legislate this religious bombast? If lesbians want to raise kids, they ought to have the same legal recourses as any straight couple.
We need to keep personal religious beliefs out of the legislature.
And out of the federal government, too...
I just wanted to chime in on the absurdity of this sentencing trail. We're debating whether or not we should sentence a man to DEATH because he TALKED about killing some people.
Did he actually kill anyone? Did he even know about the specific 9/11 attacks?
The answer to both of those questions is no. I'm all for locking him up and throwing away the key. But to kill a man for conspiracy? That's a slippery slope. I have a hard enough time understanding the barbaric practice of killing people for ANY crime, let alone merely conspiring to commit one.
If we kill Moussaoui, then we will have turned into what we are fighting. We're killing a man, ending his life, for entertaining contraversial ideas. Yes, those ideas might--might--have led to deaths of innocents, but they didn't. We caught the guy. We can prove he was planning on killing people.
Lock him up.
Don't kill him.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Check it out, I think this one is pretty good.
According to the most recent poll, his approval rating is 34%. His disaproval rating is 60%. I think that number is telling. Even at the height of the Lewinsky scandal, Clinton's approval rating was in the mid-sixties.
67% of those polled thought Bush didn't have a clear plan on Iraq.
I'm thinking more like 67% KNOW Bush doesn't have a clear plan on Iraq. The other third of the nation is still wearing their emerald glasses handed to them by the wizard.
If Bush wants to get his poll numbers back, renewable energy isn't enough. He needs to stop coming out and saying Iraq was an awesome idea and things aren't going wrong. He needs to come out and say things aren't working and this is what I'm doing to fix it. He doesn't even need to change what he's doing in Iraq for that to work.
He also needs to take some blame for the warrantless eavesdropping. He needs to admi it was against the law, it was anti-American and he'll never do it again. He could start that speech talking about his dog Barney...
As far as winning on the economy issue, I can't help him there. He's going to shoot himself in the foot to fix it and he won't do that. He'd need to repeal his tax cuts. Yeah it would piss his base off for a minute, before they realize that it's fiscally conservative to do so at Bush's rate of spending.
(I couldn't get an image to work, feel free to add one if you can figure it out, Steve)
Monday, March 20, 2006
Well, the Bush Administration is at it again. As part of their Domestic Terror Agenda, they're blocking bids for compensation by former American Hostages of the Iranian government.
But last week the State Department objected when Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) tried to address the issue in a House bill that would maintain sanctions against Iran for its links to terrorism, forcing the lawmaker to withdraw his proposal.
"We have 52 of our finest Americans who were held hostage," Sherman said. "They go to court, and you know who appears against them? The State Department."
They did the same thing to US soldiers detained and tortured at Abu Ghraib during previous wars. Why? They didn't want to start a precedent. What does that mean? They don't want Iraqi's we've tortured to come to us looking for a handout either. That is the moral low-ground if you ask me. We should be compensating torture victims. Especially those we torture.
Pretty awesome of the administration, isn't it?
Read the article I linked to. It has some meaty stuff about the Bush Administrations Hypocrisy Agenda on the second page.
It seems as though the State Department has been busy, proving the old adage that there really is No Rest for the Wicked.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Ok, correction. Bryan didn't think V FOR VEDETTA "was terrible". I, on the other hand, think that it was "basically terrible". Suffice to say that I find the writing of the Wachowski Brothers to be very lazy when it comes to putting their idealogy on the big screen. Anyone who has seen THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS (part 3) knows that the Wachowski Brothers love to bash you over the head with a repetitive sledge hammer while screaming "Get it?", "Get it?", "Get it?".
This film was full of 3 or 4 really great scenes seperated by agonizing half hours of repetitive numb-skullery. And then we had the Hitler-esque government that was really, really bad and did really, really bad things to its people. Oh my God, do we really need another Hilter analogy? I find it extremely narratively weak when someone writes about an evil Nazi type government that must be overthrown. And it's been done 573 times before. We get it. And this movie was clearly doing that, down to waving red flags and black marching boots while the Hitler character pounds his fist on a podium. It's also absurd to compare George Bush or Donald Rumsfeld or any of our current "leaders" to Adolf Hitler. Where exactly do these assholes get off comparing the Bush Administration to anything promoted by this film's evil Nazi-esque government? Ok, maybe the illegal wiretapping. And further, the Bush Administration itself is waist deep in corruption, bigotry and war mongering, but still nothing cmes close to VENDETTA's totalitarian and facist regime.
VEDETTA promotes deep philosophical ideas without offering a realistic execution of those ideas within a social setting such as a government. It's kind of like The Boston Tea party, where colonists, upset with unfair British taxation and trade, dressed up like Indians and threw boxes of tea into the Boston harbor in protest. And then what happened? Well, it's written in history books supposedly. VENDETTA ends with the throwing of the tea in the harbor and it doesn't have the foresight or maturity to offer any real solution to such extreme measures. Sure, strap bombs onto your chest and blow up some buildings. Then what? Seriously, then what? I'd like to see the Wachowski Brothers try to write that movie. I actually might enjoy watching that one. But until then, they come off sounding like the current Democratic Party... a lot of poetic words with no solutions.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
So I'm sure you've all heard about Senator Russell Feingold's censure of President Bush for his breaking of the law. And I'm sure you've heard of all the other Democrats who have run away and hid from fear of the Republican guard. The Associated Press reports:
"Wisconsin Sen. Russell Feingold accused fellow Democrats on Tuesday of cowering rather than joining him on trying to censure President Bush over domestic spying.
"Democrats run and hide" when the administration invokes the war on terrorism, Feingold told reporters.
Feingold introduced censure legislation Monday in the Senate but not a single Democrat has embraced it. Several have said they want to see the results of a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation before supporting any punitive legislation.
Republicans dismissed the proposal Tuesday as being more about Feingold's 2008 presidential aspirations than Bush's actions. On and off the Senate floor, they have dared Democrats to vote for the resolution.
"I'm amazed at Democrats ... cowering with this president's numbers so low," Feingold said.
The latest AP-Ipsos poll on Bush, conducted last week, found just 37 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed approving his overall performance, the lowest of his presidency."
What is going on here? Let me put it to you this way...
If this was a football game, the Republicans have fumbled the ball and the Republican players are all running around looking for the ball. The Democrats have found the fumbled ball, and have circled around it, staring at it. The goal line is 5 yards away but the Democrats begin arguing about who should pick up the ball and run with it.
Of course, there seemed to be glimmers of hope such as when Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) went to the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon and displayed an enormous sign that read “Dangerously Incompetent” while giving a speech attacking the Bush administration over first responder and Homeland Security funding.
Stabenow was on the Senate floor selling an amendment she has offered to increase funding for first responders by $5 billion. “God forbid that there is another terrorist attack or a natural disaster,” Stabenow warned.
But still, no one on the left is strongly attacking the Bush Administration the way it should be attacked. I mean, the time is NOW. Even Super Duper Democrat Puppet Lady Hillary Clinton is saying, "Hey, it might be a good idea if someone picked up the fumbled ball and ran in for goal..."
And now there's even a poll that says that 46% of Americans polled support the censure against President Bush. So even the American People are begging, "Pick Up The Ball!!!! Run with it! Move! Now!" The Republicans themselves will admit that they are weak and vunerable. But all this is to no avail. There is an overwhelming sound of silence and a sense of pathetic inaction.
Seriously, what does it take to get this party moving? I'm sick and tired of watching these guys sit around and complain and not do anything. If I don't see any improvement or motivation come elections this November, I swear I'm ditching my Democratic Affiliation. If Republican John McCain runs in 2008, I'm tempted...I swear to God...I'm tempted.
Friday, March 17, 2006
I saw V for Vendetta last night and I left the theatre pissed off. Not because the movie was terrible, it wasn't. (It wasn't amazing either, though.) I left pissed because I wanted to do something about politics other than bitch about them.
I mean, I have a soft spot for revolution against evil governments and Natalie Portman so the movie worked for me on that level. Some of the technique and filmmaking wasn't anything to write home about (what was with the "swoosh" effect on the daggers? And the blood looked like ketchup from a Carl's Jr. commercial). The script had quite a few problems (I could guess that this is why Alan Moore wanted his name taken off), namely its advancement of time made very little sense (a year passes but it feels more like a couple of weeks) and inconsistency with the government (Evey can't even sneeze without the government knowing in the first half of the film, but when she leaves V's castle in the second half of the film she manages to find a fake ID and live anonymously without government interference). There were moments that I really liked, but there were a couple of moments that were preposterous (like V's castle overlooking London and no one being able to find him). The ending of the movie got into force-feeding-the -point territory.
At the end of the day though, the most important thing about the film is the message and I'm glad geeks will be able to go see it.
It dealt alot with the creation of fear to control the masses which is the only reason we have Bush in office, again. "People should not be afraid of their governments, their governments should be afraid of the people." Remember when Franklin Roosevelt said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
Maybe it would help if we had someone like "V" in George Bush's America.
Maybe that could fix things.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Apparently, their Prime Minister resigned because he was golfing when a major transportation strike was going on.
He was golfing instead of dealing with the "chaos."
God. I wish we had leaders with the honor to do that.
Remember how Bush was on vacation like three days after Katrina hit? And that disaster was a lot worse than a railroad strike.
The South Koreans really know how to hold government officials accountable for selfish idiocy.
This seems ridiculous.
We got a letter from the Gas company the other day with a neatly written letter explaining how price hikes aren't their fault. That it's because they have to buy natural gas on a fluctuating national market that we are having these price issues (never mind their industrious profits). They also including a chart outlining how little (allegedly) profit they really make.
My favorite part about this form letter was the back. On the back they had a nice note saying approximately this: "Your bill must be paid regardless and we're not cutting any poor people discounts. Here's a list of organizations and charities we're willing to loot money from that will help you with your bill." And that list had numbers for fifteen or twenty organizations that might be able to help you. How nice of the gas company to send this to all of their customers.
I mean, all of this is pretty bad. First off, we should take natural gas off of these free markets like this. This is how Enron was able to do so much damage to California. Secondly, we should institute caps on the price. I mean, natural gas is a requirement for heating your home. This would save poor people a lot of money.
But it would save the State a lot of money too.
Think about how much it costs to heat an elementary school? Or a junior high? Or all thousand of them in the state? That's a lot of money.
We should do the same thing with diesel prices, too. Think about how much money out of the education budget is going into transportation costs to get kids bussed to school. We should also set up a way to start getting the busses to run on used vegetable oil. It would make available a hell of a lot more funds to actually teach the kids. Don't you think?
I don't know. I'm just throwing this out there.
Regulating utilities like Questar that hit our citizens and students the hardest would be a good bi-partisan issue that State politicians could get behind and actually do their constituents some good for a change.
(Instead of trying to legislate religious bigotry and idiocy. Yes, I'm talking about Chris Buttars.)
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
It discusses the failures of Guantanamo and how it's filled less with terrorists and more with our mistakes. One story on there outlines a pair of brothers who spent 3 years in Guantanamo being interogated for a satirical wanted poster of Bill Clinton they printed in 1999. Their satire (it sounded as though it was a middle-eastern version of Mad magazine) published a joke about a local politician who took offense and turned them over to the Americans where they spent over 150 interogation sessions discussing their "plot" to kill Bill Clinton. (The poster was a satire about the Lewinsky scandal, the reward amounted to about $4.)
Three years. 150+ interogations.
Apparently the entire Guantanamo file is more full of cases like that than actual potential terrorists.
Why can't we see this on MSNBC or CNN? Why can't we get stories like these on our televisions? I would say that this show was one of the most engaging hours of radio I have ever listened to and I would advise everyone to listen to it if they can.
It's interesting, informative and infuriating...
Monday, March 13, 2006
I went to the hospital yesterday (which is going to cost me an arm and a leg) and they put on drugs that might make me better.
I just wanted you all to know that's why I haven't been posting. It hasn't been that I haven't wanted to, or had anything to say. It's just been a matter of being bed-ridden.
Chew on this: Ang Lee's Hulk movie got a bad rap. I honestly can't understand why people would think it's a bad movie. (This bout of sickness found me re-watching all of my superhero movies.)
Hulk is good.
My daughter snapped my phone in two, so today has been doubly awesome for that.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Because of my involvement with documentary film, I had heard about "Occupation: Dreamland" from a small number of people and it was all positive feedback. So, since the DVD came out this week, I went and bought it at Borders Bookstore and watched it tonight. I watched "Gunner Palace" about 3 months ago and was very lukewarm about it and so I figured "Dreamland" would be just as good or better. It far exceded my expectations.
The embedded filmmakers intimately follow U.S. troops posted at the now infamous city of Fallujah, Iraq. The timeline of the film is the months leading up to the bloody conflict with insurgents that left over 40 U.S. soldiers and over 1,000 Iraqis dead. There seemed to be at least 2 cameras rolling at all times, but maybe it could have been 3. Cameras were equipped with green night vision capability for crisp and clear night shots of raids and darkened check points, a very nice touch. Audio was excellent and it was obvious that wireless mics were attached to at least 2 soldiers at a time.
Technical praise aside, this film is excellent and deserves to be seen by many more. During the 2nd Act of the film, I found myself almost giddy with how amazingly well done everything was. The main strength of the film lies in the ultra intimate access to the soldiers themselves. We sit as observers to candid nightly banter as the soldiers lie in there beds with flashlights looking at celebrity magazines and commenting on Britney Spears's "milk-covered body" and how "if Cher gets another face lift, her eyebrows will be on top of her fucking head". Most of these intimate encounters seem very "Jim Jarmusch" in style. Quirky, random, and more importantly...real. At one point, one soldier who is clearly not a Bush Supporter begins debating with a very pro-Bush soldier. The debate is calm and civil, but very opinionated and well captured by the filmmakers. The debate is interrupted by a higher-ranking soldier who says, "Ok, stop. We're not going to bash the Bush Administration on camera".
The film is chock full of wildly engaging material and the time flies by as we get a real tangible feeling for life in Fallujah. Iraqis are interviewed who say, "We're tired of seeing guns. Everyday it's guns, tanks, and more guns. Why not build a school? Why not build a roof? Why not give us running water? Why is it always guns with you Americans?"
And during one military briefing, the ranking officer stands before a battalion of soldiers and asks, "Who exactly are we looking out for here in Fallujah". Some of the soldiers answer "the civilians" and others answer "civil order". The officer says, "No. None of those. We're looking out for outselves". When one soldier raises his hand to ask, "Then what are we here to protect?", the officer coldy responds, "I don't know".
Finally, this documentary offers some of the most "in your face" shock moments of violence and sudden attacks. Once, while the camera is running a top a moving Humvee, a huge roadside bomb explodes not 75 feet in front of the lense (look at the picture I posted) It is vividly captured and afterwards shows the 2 U.S. soldiers who suffered head wounds from it. All of this happens in real time.
This is best documentary I've seen about the Iraq War conflict and definently on my top 15 or even 10 best documentaries of all time. Sadly, it hasn't gotten the best distribution and not that many people have seen it. I would encourage everyone who reads this blog to at least rent this film and watch it.
On a sadder note, the director of the film, Garrett Scott died in an accident just a few weeks ago. It happened 2 days before the Independent Spirit Awards gave him an award for best documentary. What a tragedy for he was truly talented.
The film's official website is here: OCCUPATION: DREAMLAND
Buy the DVD here: AMAZON LINK
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Jim Matheson, the Democratic representative from Utah, signed on to legislation that would give Bush his line-item veto.
What a tool.
If you ask me, this piece of legislation will offer the executive branch too much control over specifics in the budget. Yes, it might prevent a few earmarks here and there, but by and large it's going to give the executive an unprecedented power over the fiscal budgeting process that goes on in the house.
The last thing a Democrat should be doing is giving this Administration an extra door to interfere with the legislative branch. And I could chide Republicans about voting for it by reminding them that they wouldn't want a Democrat to have this power over them either. I think it's just going to cause problems.
"Theatre Majors were burning down churches (nine of them!) because the first few were just a prank getting out of hand."
This makes no sense to me. What the hell sort of prank starts with just a couple of acts of arson? What the hell sort of prank ends with nine churches burning to the ground?
Read this excerpt from the article:
According to court filings, the first arsons started as "a joke" that got out of hand.This is ridiculous. They should force these guys into rebuilding the churches by hand themselves and then lock them up and throw away the key.
And what business do theatre majors have with pranks like this? Shouldn't they be putting on a play or something?
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
According to a recent Salt Lake Tribune poll, 73 percent of Utah members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints support the Iraq war, while 62 percent of non-Mormons oppose the war.
So, no big surprise, most students at Utah's Brigham Young University still overwhelmingly "support" President Bush. In fact, most of those polled gave the same answer, "Yes, vee support zee President. Vee support zah trooops. Vee love America. Beep! Bop! Beep! Bop! Please insert gerter."
It's no secret here in Mormonville that President Bush has been diefied into a servant of God. A recent picture of Mormon President Hinckley shaking hands with Dubya didn't help any. The idealogy of the Republican Party has been pervertedly equated with the beliefs and doctrines of the Mormon church.
I just watched the movie "Jarhead" about the the stripping away of humanity that occurs during the brain washing of military training. They call soldiers "jarheads" because they're shaved heads are supposed to resemble jars, and are supposed to be empty on the inside. Empty little vessels ready for indoctrination. And once the process is complete, they become single minded killers with a lust to complete the mission they've been conditioned into wanting.
Brainwashing is a complex process, but sometimes very easy to administer. Wikipedia states: "Many people have come to use the terms "brainwashing" or "mind control" to explain the otherwise intuitively puzzling success of some methodologies for the religious conversion of inductees to new religious movements (including cults). The term "brainwashing" is not widely used in psychology and other sciences, because of its vagueness and history of being used in propaganda, not to mention its association with hysterical fears of people being taken over by foreign ideologies. It is often more helpful to analyze 'brainwashing' as a combination of manipulations to promote persuasion and attitude change, propaganda, coercion, capture-bonding, and restriction of access to neutral sources of information".
Am I saying that current Utah Mormon Bush Supporters are both religiously and politically brainwashed and, at best, are mindless, drooling, robots with big smiles and white collars (or dumpy dresses for the females)? No, of course not. I don't believe that they're ALL like that. I just think that 99.999999999999999999999999999% of them are.
Also, read this article: Latter-day Saints Support Of War Misguided
P.S. Please don't leave a comment about how religion, in one way or another, is not a form of brainwashing. The idea of indoctrination and adherence to a singular idealogy always requires some form of brainwashng.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
A couple of things about this story got me. The first was when did Cheny start making speeches again? I thought he was hiding in a secret bunker attached to a defibrilator, only taking breaks to pepper his buddies with life-threatening buckshot.
The next was this: Can other countries take our threats of military force seriously? They can turn on the news and see how poorly Iraq is going and how overextended we are. I think it's pretty much common knowledge that the administration doesn't have the support from the public or the sheer manpower in the military to take on Iran. And wouldn't the political situation in Iraq become even more strained by moves against Iran? Iran is dominated by Shiites that are quite friendly with the majority of the Iraqi government.
It just seems as though moving agianst Iran with military force is ill-conceived.
On top of that, there's the hypocrisy behind the "NPT" reasons the administration is giving. How can we hold countries to Iran to a standard of "No New Nuclear Weapons" when this administration has spent considerable amounts of time trying to develop "Nuclear Bunker Busters?" How can we have credibility in the negotiations when we ourselves are violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty?
Jimmy Carter set his administration to a goal of "Zero-Nuclear Weapons." I think Bush would get alot further with the Iranians with this sort of rhetoric. He's been taking pages out of Carters playbook, this is a page he should look at. I think Iran would respond a lot better to us offering to dismantle a nuclear bomb aimed at their country for every concession they make about the nuclear power.
And is there any proof that they're even developing nuclear weapons? The administration is negotiating on one big hypothetical.
It sounds dangerous.
Monday, March 06, 2006
If you like them, tell me. If you hate them, tell me why. Otherwise, they might not get better. It's pretty gutsy of me to put them up at all. It isn't exactly something I enjoy doing. (To be honest, the only reason I do it is because I know a couple of people actually do read them, and if I post them on a semi-regular basis, it keeps me writing them and I really like writing them.)
Seriously, out of all 5 "Best Picture" nominees, "CRASH" was on the bottom of my list. I mean, c'mon! Did you guys see "Munich"? Even that was a better picture. That's not to say that "CRASH" sucked, but it wasn't a holyfuckingshitthat'sthebestmovieoftheyear type movie. I had a 75% success rate with my predictions, but I'd just assume throw them all out. "BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN" should have won, it didn't. And I second Bryan's quotation of Jon Stewart: "Martin Scorcese: 0 Oscars. 36Mafia: 1 Oscar." What a messed up little system they have going on there.
I say: Have the Academy Awards be like The Olympics... every 4 years. That way, you could filter out films like "A Beautiful Mind" and "Shakespeare In Love" (does anyone even watch those movies anymore?) And I don't think "CRASH" would have lasted the test of time. I think "Brokeback Mountain" would have.
Tonight, Jon Stewart said something that I've been saying for a couple of years and it doesn't make it any less frustrating:
"Martin Scorsese: 0. 3 6 Mafia: 1."
What I've been saying is this: Eminem is an Academy Award Winner, yet Martin Scorses is not.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Best Picture: Brokeback Mountain
Best Director: Ang Lee
Best Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman
Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon
Best Supporting Actor: George Clooney
Best Supporting Actress: Michelle Williams
Best Screenplay: Stephen Gaghan
Best Adapted Screenplay: Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana
Best Documentary: Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
This is every bit as good as Lazy Sunday. I'm sure this was the influence of the Lonely Island guys.
I was in bed for a couple of days.
I got to watch all 6 Star Wars movies, back to back to back, etc. Being bed-ridden is the only time I can afford to sit down and do that. It's what Star Wars is for. I've being using Star Wars as a distraction for illness for at least 20 years. It's just a much longer distraction now, thank Christ.
Anyhow, I wanted to chime in here and offer a few of my Oscar picks. I'm sure I'll be back later this evening to bitch about how much I still hate the Oscars and how wrong I was, but whatever.
Best Picture - Brokeback Mountain. I'd like to see Munich or maybe Capote win, but I didn't actually see Brokeback Mountain, it's got that much buzz that I'm just assuming it's going to win.
Actor in a Leading Role - Heath Ledger. This is a tough one. I could imagine all of them winning, but this prediction is based on my "Brokeback Sweeps the Oscars" theory. Joaquin could also take it, though. He did win the Golden Globe, but what does that mean? I think Phil Hoffman deserves it the most though. If you take into account body of work and variance of characters across his career and excellence of performance in the nominated film, Phil Hoffman is certainly the front runner.
Actress in a Leading Role - Reese Witherspoon. I fell in love with Reese's June Carter. I think everyone else did, too.
Best Director - George Clooney. I think best picture and director are going to split this year. I think Clooney is going to take it for "Good Night and Good Luck" (which was amazing) and he'll be given the opportunity to bitch about the current climate of fear in the media against the Bush administration. Since that's the content of his film and the context of his award it would be completely justified.
Best Supporting Actor - Paul Giamatti. I want Clooney to win this for Syrianna, but I think the Academy is going to give Pig Vomit the consolation prize for his getting snubbed completely for Sideways.
Best Supporting Actress - Catherine Keener. Everyone loves Harper Lee. Hell, I named my daughter Scout.
Best Original Screenplay - Syrianna. I don't know if it will win since it should be in the "adapted" category but it was one of the most complex yet simple screenplays I've ever seen. It's the type of structure you'd have to pull all of your hair out to write and Gaghan made it look easy.
Best Adapted Screenplay - Brokeback Mountain. 'Nuff said.
I'll leave the rest in here. I will say though, the best documentary of the year didn't even get nominated. New York Doll, hands down: Best Documentary of 2005. (I'm obligated to point out that This Divided State is a close second, but that's just warrior mentality.)
We'll come back later and see how poorly I did.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
The Plan B emergency contraceptive (the day after pill) should be out and available over the counter. Why isn't it?
Bad times. This could prevent a lot of abortions and other unplanned pregnancies. This should be available and fast.
I know, I know. Any of you who have read this blog for any length of time are probably aware of my standing endorsement of Sidney Lumet (and Paddy Chayefsky's) "Network." It's one of the best films ever made and certainly one of my favorites.
I was shocked to see that they released a special edition 2-disc set of it yesterday. I was convinced no one cared about that movie but me.
But I watched the film again last night and I was blown away by how much more biting and apt the commentary in it is than the last time I watched it. I'd completely forgotten about the sub-plot where an Arab holding company was going to buy the conglomerate CCA that owned UBS. Howard Beale ranted against this and chided people to write letters to Washington to stop the merger.
Beale was succesful in stopping the merger, much to the chagrine of those above, particularly Arthur Jensen (a delightful Academy Award-nominated performace from Ned Beatty). Jensen decides to bring sense to Howard Beale and explain to him how the world works. His speech is over-the-top and shrill. It is also effective and, in some disgusting way, true.
Here are the verbatim excerpts I could find:
You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won't have it. Is that clear? You think you've merely stopped a business deal? That is not the case. The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back. It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity. It is ecological balance. You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations; there are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems; one vast, interwoven, interacting, multivaried, multinational dominion of dollars.
What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state? Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions, just like we do.
It is the international system of currency which determines the vitality of life on this planet. THAT is the natural order of things today. THAT is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today. And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature. And YOU WILL ATONE. Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little 21-inch screen and howl about America, and democracy. There is no America; there is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.
The world is a business, Mr. Beale; it has been since man crawled out of the slime. Our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality - one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock - all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel.
I wonder if it was an accident that this film came out on the heels of the proposed Dubai situation. I wonder if Karl Rove or Dick Cheney gave a similar speech to any number of people, including Bush.
Here's a link to the complete text of Ned Beatty's speech and an MP3 of his performance.
But it isn't just the Dubai situation that has echos in Network that resonate so strongly still. Here's an excerpt from the Howard Beale show... Does anyone else get the idea that he's talking about the Fox network? And MSNBC? And CNN? And MTV, CBS, ABC, VH1?
Indeed it truly is. A goddamned amusement park. (Here's the complete text of that speech and there you'll also find an MP3 of the speech. It's good on paper. To hear it is amazing. To watch it is awe-inspiring.)
Right now, there is a whole, an entire generation that never knew anything that didn't come out of this tube. This tube is the gospel, the ultimate revelation; this tube can make or break presidents, popes, prime ministers; this tube is the most awesome goddamn propaganda force in the whole godless world, and woe is us if it ever falls into the hands of the wrong people, and that's why woe is us that Edward George Ruddy died. Because this company is now in the hands of CCA, the Communications Corporation of America; there's a new chairman of the board, a man called Frank Hackett, sitting in Mr. Ruddy's office on the twentieth floor. And when the 12th largest company in the world controls the most awesome goddamn propaganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what shit will be peddled for truth on this network?
Television is not the truth. Television is a goddamned amusement park.
God, I wish I could write this stuff as good as Paddy Chayefsky.