Saturday, December 13, 2014

A few thoughts on the "cromnibus"

I was never a fan of Dodd-Frank, but why is Congress even messing with Dodd-Frank right now instead of trying to stop Obama's executive amnesty?  You don't have enough votes to impeach Obama?  Fine.  But surely you must have enough votes to at least try to defund the amnesty, right?  I mean, how can you say that something is unconstitutional while at the same time you willingly continue to fund it?  ( Ahh... apparently, Obama will be funding his amnesty with fees collected from immigrants, which makes it hard for Congress to defund. Still, I find it hard to believe that Republicans in the House can't do something to stop it, even if they have to do it in a separate bill. )

And if you are gonna mess around with Dodd-Frank, why do it in a way that basically legitimizes the idea that banks should be too big to fail, while leaving all the parts of Dodd-Frank that hurt small businesses in place?  That's a bit odd.  Personally, I think the only way banks should be allowed to resume trading derivatives is if taxpayers can be guaranteed that those banks will never receive any sort of bailout ever again; if they want to take on that kind of risk, okay, but don't expect taxpayers to be the ones left holding the bag when it doesn't work out.

On top of all this, Boehner apparently still plans on inviting Obama to give the State of the Union speech in the House of Representatives.  If we can't even get a symbolic gesture out of him, why is he there?  I've defended Boehner in the past when I thought people were being too quick to jump on him, but I'm quickly reaching the point where I don't really care who the House Majority Leader is as long is it's not him.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

What really happened to Eric Garner?

I keep hearing Eric Garner being described as having been choked to death by a police officer.  I've watched the video many times, and I'm not so sure that's what happened.  The officer had his arm around Garner's neck for most of the video, but not in a choke hold.  I believe the officer was using what police call a "lateral vascular neck restraint" to partially restrict blood flow; this type of restraint shouldn't affect air flow when done properly.

It's true that Garner screamed several times that he couldn't breathe, but if you watch the video closely all the way to the end you'll notice that he continues to scream that he can't breathe even after the arm is gone from around his neck.  The medical examiner ruled that the cause of death was a combination of the neck hold and the weight placed upon Garner's back while he was on the ground; I strongly suspect that it had much more to do with the latter than the former.  Police need to be more careful about putting too much weight on someone who is being held on the ground, especially in cases where the person being restrained is already morbidly obese.

Garner's asthma was probably a factor here too, but I don't think we could really expect the officer in question to have known about that.  Garner knew about his own asthma, though, and screaming like a maniac from the get-go before the police even tried to touch him probably wasn't the best idea--if hysterical fits of laughter can trigger asthma attacks, then I don't see why hysterical fits of screaming couldn't do the same.  ( And being a grown-ass man, Garner should've realized that screaming fits tend to not make very good get-out-of-jail-free cards anyway. )

I can understand thinking that confiscatory cigarette taxes are stupid, especially while making it easier for people to get marijuana at the same time, but the whole reason that police exist is to uphold the law, so I can only be so angry at them for enforcing the laws that I don't like; I'll save that anger for the people who actually write these stupid laws and push to get them passed.  As far as this particular case goes, the focus should be on whether or not the officer followed proper procedure and whether or not that procedure needs to be changed.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Tweets of the Week (11/23/14 - 11/29/14)

The first official teaser trailer for The Force Awakens


I'm not quite sure how to feel about this.  I'm a bit eager to put the awful prequels behind us and see what a continuation of the original trilogy without George Lucas' meddling might look like, but I'm not sure I can really form an opinion until we get past the teaser stage and start to see some real trailers.

The black stormtrooper seemed a bit out of place.  Not that I have a problem with the idea of black stormtroopers, but I thought the prequels clearly established that all stormtroopers were clones of Jango Fett, who is not black.  I suppose it's always possible that someone was wearing a stormtrooper's outfit as a disguise, much like Luke and Han did in the first film.

The villain's lightsaber has crossguards like a longsword, which may look sort of silly but probably comes in quite handy in a fight against someone with a normal lightsaber.

That speeder looks interesting, and Daisy Ridley looks pretty adorable riding it.  ( She's rumored to play Han and Leia's daughter, but I guess we won't know for sure until sometime in 2015. )

It sure was nice to see the Millenium Falcon again and to hear John Williams' wonderful score, which is probably the best thing I can say about the teaser so far.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tweets of the Week (11/16/14 - 11/22/14)

Here's an interesting idea...

DrewM has a suggestion for how Congress should respond to President Obama's latest power grab:
Yesterday we saw a number of ideas floated about how to respond....rescission, lawsuits, de-funding and withholding votes on nominees to name a few on the table. There's one idea I'd like to add that is in many ways symbolic but that would focus the nation on the seriousness of this problem, do not invite Obama to address a joint session of Congress to deliver the State of the Union address.
The Constitution simply requires that "He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." Nothing requires that he do so in person.
I like this idea.  Frankly, Obama deserves to be impeached, but if the votes aren't there to remove him from office, then surely Republicans can at least force him to do his boasting and preening (and lying) somewhere other than on the floor of the House.

Of course, Obama being Obama, he'll probably show up anyway just so he can give an even douchier version of the same speech on the steps of the Capital Building.  That's fine.  Let him.  That won't play nearly as well as he thinks it will.  People won't see a president, they will see a spoiled little brat who refuses to play by anyone's rules but his own.