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.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tweets of the Week (11/9/14 - 11/15/14)

Will Obama be a problem for Hillary in 2016?

Allahpundit made an interesting observation:
Has anyone let Hillary know, incidentally, that Obama thinks he no longer needs to worry about short-term electoral concerns? Not that executive amnesty is going to hurt her much in 2016—my strong suspicion is that it’ll help, if only in how it confounds GOP candidates—but his track record on improving other Democrats’ electoral chances is … not good. You would think party bigwigs might prefer less of a loose-cannon Obama at this point, if only for her sake, than having him spinning like Julie Andrews on the hilltop, flinging work permits at every illegal who strays by.
I just assumed that Obama would spend the next two years basically being the biggest asshole ever, but it never occurred to me how the presumptive Dem nominee would view Obama's behavior.  Hillary needs to figure out how much she can distance herself from Obama while still trying to claim her abysmal tenure as his Secretary of State as a plus on her résumé; the more strident and unpredictable Obama gets during his last two years in office, the tougher that will be for her to do.  Plus at any moment the media could push her aside and rally behind Elizabeth Warren instead, much the way they rallied behind Obama in 2008.  ( And with Joe Biden in the mix as well, who the hell knows what could happen. )

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Tweets of the Week (11/2/14 - 11/8/14)

Where do we go from here?

The midterm elections finally happened, and Republicans did pretty well for themselves.  Republicans retook control of the Senate, added to their seats in the House, and even won some governorships in unexpected places like Illinois and Maryland.  All in all, if you wanted to see the GOP stick its thumb in Obama's eye, Tuesday was a pretty good night.

So, now what?  Once the 114th Congress is sworn in on January 3rd, Harry Reid won't have a stranglehold on the Senate anymore.  Whether the new Senate Majority Leader turns out to be Mitch McConnell or some other Republican, I don't much care, as long as Harry Reid is finally pushed aside.

One thing you can count on is for Obama to be at his absolute pettiest over the next two years.  You think he's been petty so far?  You ain't seen nothing yet.  Whatever little concern he may have had before about electoral consequences is now completely gone.  He's already talking about sidestepping Congress and the new Congress hasn't even been sworn in yet.  Don't be surprised at all if Obama spends the next two years basically daring Congress to impeach him; expect Obama to take more and more executive action of increasingly questionable constitutionality, all while vetoing every single bill that Congress passes.  And the media will cover for him every step of the way, at least until he makes himself a problem for whichever candidate the media wants to nominate in 2016.

As far as 2016 goes, I'm hoping that Republicans will have enough sense to nominate someone who served at least one term as governor of a red or purple state and whose last name isn't Bush.  There are way too many people running who probably shouldn't be.  Ben Carson is a nice guy, and I respect the hell out of the work he's done as a neurosurgeon, but making Obama uncomfortable for two minutes at a prayer breakfast doesn't make you qualified to be president.  No matter how much you might like the speeches given by Rand Paul or Ted Cruz, neither of them has any executive experience.   It's no coincidence that Herbert Hoover was the last time a Republican was elected president without having first served as a governor, general, or vice president.  If Jeb Bush had become governor of Florida a little sooner and then run for president in 2000, he might've had a chance, but he doesn't have a chance in hell of being president now.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Tweets of the Week (10/26/14 - 11/1/14)

A very belated review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I finally gave in and watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  I would've watched it sooner, but hearing so many Libertarians overpraising it as a warning about the rise of the police state had me dragging my feet a little bit.  I ended up liking it much more than I thought I would.  It was vastly superior to the first Captain America movie, that's for sure; I actually thought The Avengers worked much better as an introduction to Captain America as a character than Captain America: The First Avenger did.

( I've heard some say that Winter Soldier was a better movie than The Avengers.  I liked Winter Soldier a lot, and it was easily the best sequel I've seen in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe so far, but I don't see how you could say it surpasses The Avengers.  Even Iron Man--generally accepted as the best origin story of the bunch--is still a lesser movie than The Avengers, IMHO. )

Captain America: The Winter Soldier kept a lot of plates spinning throughout the movie, but there's always plenty of well-timed exposition to keep you from getting lost; it maybe even had a bit too much exposition in a few places for my taste, but that's a minor criticism.  The movie didn't really connect directly to the events of The Avengers, but it did feel rather Avenger-y, thanks to the inclusion of Scarlet Johansson as Black Widow and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.  Robert Redford was perfectly cast as Alexander Pierce.  I thought Emily VanCamp was also a nice bit of casting, even though her part wasn't all that big.  I have a funny feeling that she'll eventually end up as a regular on Agents of SHIELD after ABC pulls the plug on Revenge.  ( By the way, if you like all the Hydra vs SHIELD stuff in Winter Soldier, you might want to give Agents of SHIELD a try... Hydra plays a big part in it, especially in season two. )

One thing I wasn't sure how to feel about in this movie was Anthony Mackie as the Falcon; there were moments where the movie seemed to want him to be more than just Captain America's sidekick, and yet he basically gets thrown under the bus the minute Captain America doesn't need to be flown anywhere anymore.  Also, the casting of Mackie as Falcon didn't feel quite right to me in either case, but the rest of the movie is good enough to make me feel like I'm picking nits for even mentioning these problems.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

I got nothing...

There's plenty of awful shit I could be blogging about, but I just don't have a real post in me right now, so here's one of my favorite scenes from Barton Fink instead.  ( Warning: this scene is from near the end of the movie... if you haven't seen it yet, it's kinda spoiler-y.  )

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thomas Friedman is an idiot

I normally pay very little attention to Thomas Friedman, mainly because he so rarely takes a break from openly pining for Chinese-style autocracy to say anything even remotely useful.  Now Friedman is trying to compare ISIL to the Joker from The Dark Knight.  I should probably ignore this drivel too, but I just can't stand seeing someone use such a great movie to make such a shitty analogy.

If you insist on comparing ISIL to a Batman villain, then they are clearly Bane, not the Joker.  ISIL doesn't "just want to watch the world burn", they want to run it; they want to be the ones who get to decide which cities are spared and which cities are burned to the ground.  ISIL doesn't see itself as an agent of chaos, it sees itself as a check against the decadence of the West, much as The League of Shadows sees itself as a check against the decadence of Gotham.

( And of course, Friedman being Friedman, his ultimate diagnosis is that Iraq and Syria just weren't enough like China to keep ISIL from spreading.  Sigh. )

By the way, if anyone is like the Joker here, it's Obama.  The Joker wanted to upset the order of things; he wanted to turn the heroes of Gotham City into villains by repeatedly forcing them into making impossible decisions.  Obama seems pretty intent on upsetting the order of things too.  ( Hey, remember his promise to fundamentally transform the country? How did that work out for everyone? )  The Joker detests what he calls planners and schemers.  Obama doesn't seem to much care for people who have plans either; he told us about eleventy billion times that if we liked our plans we could keep our plans, but of course that was always a pernicious lie.  Speaking of lies, the Joker tells so many conflicting stories about himself in The Dark Knight that you can't tell if there is any truth at all there buried under all the fabrications; he might as well have been Obama's ghostwriter.  And how can anyone watch that scene where the Joker sets a great big pile of money on fire just to piss people off without thinking of Obama?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Tweets of the Week (9/28/14 - 10/4/14)

The Obama Protocol

One of the few things I can actually remember from President Obama's inaugural address was his trollish promise to "restore science to its rightful place."  The nerve of that guy.  When has Obama ever not put politics ahead of science?

Obama used his deliberate misunderstanding of the term "greatest geopolitical foe" as an excuse to have a hissy fit in his foreign policy debate with Romney, and now he spends much of his time trying tell us that "climate change" is the greatest threat of the century.  Give me a break.

When Bush was president, Obama tried to make political hay out of panic over the bird flu; and in 2010 he scrapped the very same quarantine rules that he pressured Bush into adopting.  Funny how the science always seems to be settled in favor of whatever position is most politically expedient for Obama at any given time.

And now for the very first time we have a confirmed case of Ebola right here in the United States.  You'd think the first thing we would do is restrict all travel from the West African countries affected by the epidemic, but the White House has flatly dismissed the idea of any sort of travel ban.  Why?  It's not our fault that Ebola comes from predominantly black third-world hellholes, so can we please stop agonizing so much over whether a travel ban might be seen as racist somehow?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Tweets of the Week (9/21/14 - 9/27/14)

The many faces of stately Wayne Manor

Despite hearing mixed things about Gotham, I decided to give the premiere episode a try.  It's a far cry from Chritopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy, which I consider to be the gold standard for all things Batman, but I do like seeing Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock enough to maybe stick it out a while longer.  One thing I noticed while watching the show was that the building used to portray Wayne Manor looked very familiar:

That building is the Webb Institute's Stevenson Taylor Hall, the same building that Joel Schumacher used for the exterior shots of Wayne Manor in both of his unspeakably awful Batman films.  Gotham is being filmed mainly in Manhattan, so reusing Stevenson Taylor Hall right there in Glen Cove probably made the most sense.

My favorite version of Wayne Manor is the one that appears in Batman Begins; Christopher Nolan used Mentmore Towers for both the interior and exterior shots:

Oddly enough, the design of Mentmore Towers is based very closely on the design of Wollaton Hall, which was used to portray the completely rebuilt Wayne Manor in The Dark Knight Rises:

( I'm not sure whether or not any interior shots were taken from Wollaton Hall; at least one scene was filmed in the entrance hall of Osterley Park. )

Tim Burton used Knebworth House for the exterior shots in Batman.  As much as I liked the movie, Knebworth House has to be my absolute least favorite out of all the different versions of Wayne Manor:

Tim Burton wisely used Hatfield House for all the interior shots in the first Batman film; I believe Hatfield House was also used in Batman Returns, though for some reason Burton decided to use a custom-built scale model for all the exterior shots in that film instead of using a real house.

The first time I ever saw Wayne Manor was the one shown in the campy Batman television series starring Adam West.  It has no fancy name, but you can call it 380 San Rafael Avenue:

That house is in Pasadena, California.  Sets were used for all the interior shots on the show, so I have no idea what the inside of that place really looks like, but I bet it's fantastic.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Tweets of the Week (9/14/14 - 9/20/14)

My take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (so far)

Marvel Studios has done a pretty fantastic job of putting together a film franchise that they call the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  When I first heard about The Avengers, I wasn't very excited about it, mainly because I never read any of the Avengers comics in the first place; also, I assumed it would just turn out to be a jumbled Schumacheresque mess of a movie that did none of the characters any justice anyway.  Boy, was I wrong.

Thankfully, Joss Whedon turned out to be the one who directed The Avengers, and it ended up being one of the best superhero movies ever made.  Even people who don't normally enjoy superhero movies will find lots of things to love about this movie.  ( By the way, if you're boycotting everything Joss Whedon does because he said something stupid on Twitter, please do yourself a favor and get over it.  Dollhouse is probably the only thing I've ever seen him inject politics into, and even that was still watchable. )

You can still enjoy The Avengers for what it is without necessarily seeing all of the other films in Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but you will probably enjoy it much more if you at least watch Iron Man and Thor first--both are solid films with terrific casts that have directors who actually give a shit about what they're doing.  I can't think of anyone better to play Tony Stark than Robert Downey Jr., and I've seen Jon Favreau direct good movies before, so I wasn't really surprised by how much I enjoyed Iron Man.  What did surprise me was how much I ended up liking Thor;  Kenneth Branagh did a superb job of blending what is basically a fish-out-of-water romantic comedy with just the right amount of sci-fi-ish Shakespearean tragedy.  ( Some have tried to accuse Branagh of political correctness for casting Idris Elba as Heimdall, but Elba somehow fits in the role so perfectly that it actually makes it hard for me to imagine anyone else as Heimdall. All of the casting was spot-on, really, even the small parts. Tom Hiddleston was especially great as Loki, which is probably why they decided to bring him back again later as a villain in The Avengers. )

The Incredible Hulk is definitely one of the films you can do without.  I'll go even further and say that you should actively avoid it, even if you're a completist.  As I mentioned before in another post, Louis Leterrier made such a mess of this movie that it makes Ang Lee's deeply flawed Hulk seem like a cinematic masterpiece by comparison.  I still don't understand why they made this awful remake instead of just making a better sequel to Ang Lee's movie that ties things into The Avengers.  And Edward Norton just ends up being replaced by Mark Ruffalo for The Avengers anyway, which only makes the whole exercise seem that much more pointless.

Iron Man 2 isn't really necessary in order to understand The Avengers, but it's still worth seeing if you enjoyed the first Iron Man movie.  A lot of what worked in the first film is still there in the second, but it still felt to me like something was missing.  ( Jeff Bridges, maybe? I dunno. )  Mickey Rourke seemed either miscast or misused, and I got tired of seeing his weird face and stupid hair after a while.  My favorite part of the movie was watching Sam Rockwell chew the scenery as a minor villain who doesn't know that he's a minor villain, but your miles may vary.  Oh, we also get treated to a preview of Scarlett Johansson in her Avengers catsuit, so there's that.

Captain America: The First Avenger was a decent movie, but most of it was pretty forgettable.  I have nothing against Captain America, but I liked him as a character much better in The Avengers than I did in his own origin movie.  Well, there was one scene at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger that I really liked, but that scene was only added to give Samuel L. Jackson a place to make a cameo appearance.  If the best part of your movie is just a setup for another movie, you've done something very wrong.  Too many characters felt like throwaways.  Even the villain didn't feel like a fully formed character to me.  How can you not make the Red Skull, a super-evil Nazi with a giant red skull for a face, more interesting than this?  ( And why did he have to spend so much time looking like Hugo Weaving? I like Hugo Weaving, but come on. We already knew from the ads what he was going to look like, so why hide it? )

Just as Phase One ended with The Avengers, Phase Two will end with Avengers: Age of Ultron, also directed by Joss Whedon.  ( I assume that Phase Three will lead up to a third Avengers movie, hopefully also directed by Whedon, but I can't say for sure just yet. )  The only Phase Two movies that I have seen so far are Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, both of which are worth seeing, but without knowing more about the second Avengers movie, I can't really say whether they are necessary or not.  If I had to rank the Iron Man movies, I would place the third somewhere above the second but still below the first.  I'm convinced that The Dark World would have been a much better and much more coherent movie if only Kenneth Branagh had been kept on to direct, but if you enjoyed the first Thor movie you can still enjoy the second for what it is.  ( I haven't seen Guardians of the Galaxy or Captain America: The Winter Soldier yet. I've heard nothing but good things about them, so I'll be sure to catch them both on DVD when I get a chance. )

Amazingly, Clark Gregg has appeared as Agent Coulson in Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, and The Avengers, and now he even has his own show based around the character despite Joss Whedon's attempt to kill him off.  Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was pretty uneven for most of its first season, but it had a surprisingly strong finish thanks in part to a terrific guest appearance by Samuel L. Jackson.  I look forward to seeing what they can do with season two.  One thing I really like about Clark Gregg is that he seems just as comfortable with drama as he does with comedy; one minute he's in a David Mamet film, the next he's on a goofy sitcom, and then he's playing Leonato in Joss Whedon's version of Much Ado About Nothing.

Friday, September 12, 2014

One World Trade Center

I like the look of the new One World Trade Center building.  Here's some video of it that someone took recently:

I like the shape of it.  The top is shaped like a square, and the bottom is shaped like a square, but the building ends up having eight sides because of the way it tapers.

Daniel Libeskind was the original architect for the building, but he was eventually forced to collaborate with David Childs.  It was probably for the best, I've seen what happens when Libeskind is left to his own devices.  Libeskind is a deconstructivist, so most of his designs tend to be rather bizarre; his design for the Jewish Museum in Berlin is one of the strangest things I've ever seen:

Jesus.  Can you imagine being in one of the surrounding buildings and having to look at that god-awful shitty mess all day?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

What's in a name?

For some reason people are still arguing about whether ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) is the appropriate name to use, and some are even accusing President Obama of using the name ISIL only because he doesn't think Israel has a right to exist.  It's true that Obama has never seemed very fond of Israel, but there's a good chance that he tends to use ISIL only because it's a more accurate translation of the group's Arabic name. The term al-Sham predates any modern concept of Syria the country; what al-Sham refers to is something that would more accurately be described today as Greater Syria, or the Levant.

I call them ISIL not to give their territorial claims any credence, but because that's just the most accurate translation of what they've been calling themselves.  I call them ISIL because I think it's just plain silly to act like these terrorist scumbags plan on staying within the borders of Iraq and Syria when we know damn well that that's not true.  We know what ISIL's goals are, and we know what they call themselves, so let's just be honest about it.  What disturbs me is not that Obama calls them ISIL, but that he so often treats ISIL as if it were a problem for only Iraq and Syria to solve.  They would wipe out Israel if they could, and they'd happily wipe us out too--why wait for them to make a serious attempt at either?

( Lately, ISIL seems to simply be calling itself the Islamic State instead.  I'm not clear on whether that's just supposed to be a shortened version of their name, or if now they are trying to claim the territory of the entire world, or what.  Maybe instead of debating the ISIS vs ISIL thing, we should be debating ISIL vs IS?  I think eventually it will reach the point where I just give up and start calling them The Terrorists Formerly Known as ISIL. )

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Geisel Library

Did you know that Dr. Suess (aka Theodor Suess Geisel) has a library named after him?  He does, at UCSD, and it looks pretty darn strange:

I bet at night it probably looks more like an alien spacecraft than it does a building.  It was designed by William Pereira in the brutalist style of architecture.  (If you don't recognize Pereira's name, you might now him better as the guy who designed the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco, and one of the guys who worked on the Theme Building at LAX.)

The funny thing is, I've seen the Geisel Library probably hundreds of times before without even realizing it.  A closeup of the library is actually the very first thing you see in the opening credits for Simon & Simon.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Twelfth Doctor

I haven't really followed Doctor Who since they got rid of Christopher Eccleston, and even when I did watch it I didn't watch it religiously.  I may have to give it another try now that Peter Capaldi will be replacing Matt Smith:

I'm interested to see what Peter Capaldi can do with the role.  I've really enjoyed his work on The Musketeers so far.  I'd like to see a Doctor that isn't quite so silly all the time and making puppy dog eyes at everyone.  I think this time we'll see a more menacing Doctor with a much dryer sense of humor.  (I'm also hopeful that all the chatter about how perfect Charles Dance would be to play the Master turns out to be more than just chatter.)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tweets of the Week (8/10/14 - 8/16/14)

A few thoughts on Ferguson...

I know all the facts aren't in yet on the shooting of Mike Brown, but after everything I've seen over the past few days, especially today, I wanted to jot some things down while they were still fresh in my mind.

Whether the shooting was justified or not, we just don't know, but we do know that Mike Brown wasn't the perfect angel we were told he was.  Mike Brown committed a robbery at a convenience store not long before he was shot.  There is some confusion as to whether the cop who shot him was aware of that robbery or not, but Mike Brown certainly knew about the crime he had just committed; is it so hard to believe that Brown might have been less than cooperative, thinking he had just been caught red-handed?  ( I also heard that there are photos of Brown supposedly flashing gang signs, but once I saw how hard Pat Dollard was pushing that angle of the story, I sort of stopped caring about it. )

Knowing that Mike Brown was a criminal helps to give some context, but there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered.  Did Darren Wilson have any injuries that would indicate a struggle?  Is there gunshot residue all over the inside of Darren Wilson's police car and enough residue on Mike Brown to indicate that Brown was likely shot while reaching into the car?  The bullet wounds should also indicate how far away Brown was when he was shot, and whether he was standing or kneeling when it happened.  But I have a feeling that a lot of people won't accept the outcome of any investigation that doesn't put all the blame for what happened squarely on Darren Wilson.  Too many people have an emotional attachment to the idea that the police are always the enemy and that Mike Brown has to be an innocent victim, regardless of what the evidence actually says.  And too many people are just looking for any lame excuse to riot, burn shit, steal whatever they can, and threaten to murder every cop they see, just because it feels good and they don't think the rules should apply to them.

Some people are calling on President Obama to get involved to try to calm things down.  I don't know that we should expect Obama to weigh in on this anymore than he already has.  I think in his mind he's already checked that box and doesn't want to deal with it anymore.  On the one hand, he's spent most of his political career worrying about whether he was black enough, too black, or exactly the right amount of black, which is why he attended Jeremiah Wright's church for as long as he did and then dumped that church as soon as it stopped being politically useful.  On the other hand, he loves it when crazy people are yelling crazy things at him because it makes him seem more reasonable, and the leader of the New Black Panther Party is all kinds of crazy.  But honestly, I don't really want Obama inserting himself into this, because all he can do is make it worse, just like he does with every single other thing he touches.

Update:  Wait, the DOJ tried to stop the Ferguson PD from releasing the video of the robbery?  Maybe I gave Obama too much credit.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Why is Obama so reluctant to bomb ISIL?

For some reason it seems like getting President Obama to go after ISIL is like pulling teeth.  He just bombed them for once, finally, but why isn't this a daily occurrence?  I realize that Obama is loathe to put boots on the ground anywhere, especially where he just pulled them out of, but there are plenty of things that can be done to ISIL that don't require boots on the ground.

Seeing all those Yazidis trapped in the mountains is heartbreaking, and I'm thankful that something is finally being done to help them.  I just wonder what the hell took so long and why we aren't doing more.  Obama seems shockingly fine with watching ISIL perpetrate a holocaust against Christians so long as those Christians are given the option to convert to Islam or agree to pay a completely arbitrary tax in order to avoid being executed.  The Yazidis aren't being given those options--ISIL just wants them all dead.  That shouldn't make the Christians being persecuted any less sympathetic though, should it?  Agreeing to live with someone's boot on your neck for the rest of your life doesn't seem like a much better option than death.  Maybe you need to be a law professor to see that distinction.

I have to ask, is Obama a Christian?  I know he calls himself one, but is he really?  I'm not asking to be a dick, or a Puritan, or whatever.  I'm actually agnostic, myself.  But I have to ask how a Christian could sit there and watch what's been happening to his fellow Christians in the Middle East lately and not want to do something about it.  How does a Christian watch an 1,800-year-old church being burned to the ground and do nothing?  The same group doing all these horrific things has been pretty open about wanting to hurt the United States however they can, yet Obama kept looking the other way.  I'm glad to see that Obama was finally dragged kicking and screaming into the White House Situation Room, but why would it take the plight of the Yazidis to do it?  (Yes, the strikes were meant to protect the consulate in Erbil, but Obama specifically mentions the Yazidi situation as an additional reason for them while neglecting to mention any of the horrors being inflicted upon Christians.  Why?  And will the Yazidi ultimately be left twisting in the wind anyway once Obama decides that Erbil is secure?)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tweets of the Week (7/20/14 - 7/26/14)

Weird Al is a national treasure

Weird Al Yankovic has a new album called Mandatory Fun that he's been promoting the hell out of, and I have to say it's pretty damn awesome.  The first video released was for his song Word Crimes, which is a hilarious parody of Blurred Lines.  He also made a very funny parody of Royals called Foil.

Not all the songs on the album have videos yet, but I think my favorite of all the videos I've seen so far is Lame Claim to Fame, which is a completely original song that parodies the musical style of the band Southern Culture on the Skids:

I also enjoyed Mission Statement, which cleverly pokes fun at corporate speak while parodying the style of Crosby, Stills & Nash at the same time.  My Own Eyes (which doesn't have a video yet) is a wonderfully nonsensical song meant to mimic the sound of The Foo Fighters.  Lots of great stuff here.  There's a reason it's already a number one album.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Tweets of the Week (7/13/14 - 7/19/14)

How many Americans were on flight MH17?

When Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was first shot down over Ukraine there were reports that as many as 23 Americans were aboard at the time, but the State Department refused to confirm that number.  President Obama specifically mentioned one American who was killed and now everyone is acting as if that was the only American victim; however, the investigation is still ongoing, and will probably drag on for some time since the investigators are being fired upon.  Not that it really matters, as I'm sure the State Department will drag its feet as long as it possibly can in confirming anything unflattering the investigation might yield.  If the State Department ever does confirm that the initial reports of 23 American deaths were in fact accurate, it will only be long after the next distraction comes along so all this can all get brushed aside as old news.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Tweets of the Week (7/6/14 - 7/12/14)

Obama to win an Emmy?

Hey, remember that painfully unfunny "Between Two Ferns" skit where President Obama spouted dishonest Obamacare talking points in between exchanging really dumb insults with Zach Galifianakas?  It just got nominated for an Emmy.  No, really.

And you know it has to win, too.  It just has to.  These fucking Obama cultists wouldn't nominate their deity for such an award if he wasn't guaranteed to win.  Fine.  Give it to him.  Give him an award for making an awful infomercial while the word burns, our economy withers, and victimized children pile across our southern border by the tens of thousands, bringing lice, scabies, and tuberculosis along with them.  Give him an Emmy.  He already has a Nobel Prize and two Grammys under his belt, go ahead and give him another award just for being him.  Then you can give him a Tony and an Oscar, while you're at it.  And a Peabody.  And a Super Bowl ring.  And the Medal of Honor.  And the key to every city in America.  And then you can literally start giving him individual awards for every single poopie that he makes.  And the world will continue to crumble, but at least Obama will feel really good about himself while it's crumbling, and that's all that really matters, right?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July!

I don't even want to think about what kind of stupidity President Obama is engaging in at the moment, so I think maybe I'll watch Ronald Reagan's 1986 Independence Day speech instead:


I sure do miss the days when we had a president who united the country instead of deliberately tearing it apart.  (Video courtesy of the Reagan Foundation.)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Tweets of the week (6/22/14 - 6/28/14)

A mess in Mississippi

Mark Mayfield, vice chairman of a Mississippi tea party group , apparently committed suicide after being arrested and charged for conspiring to help Clayton Kelly photograph Thad Cochran's senile wife in her nursing home.  I'm not sure what the specific charge is; I'm no lawyer, but I'm not sure how taking that kind of picture can be illegal, let alone merely conspiring to do it.  Was it classless?  Sure.  Politically stupid?  Definitely.  But illegal?  That one seems like a bit of a stretch to me.

So now a man is dead, and for what?  I can't even imagine what his wife and kids are going through right now.

Rightly or wrongly, people already upset about the underhanded tactics used by the Cochran campaign to eke out a win against Chris McDaniel are going to see Mayfield as some sort of martyr.  I've already heard people accusing Cochran of having Mayfield's blood on his hands; I've even heard some really outlandish conspiracy theories about Mayfield being murdered.  I don't think this bodes well for Republicans in November.  I'm hearing way too many people tell me that they are completely done with the GOP over all this.  It's possible that some of them could just be blowing of steam; I hope so, because I'd really like to see Harry Reid gone, and that won't happen if every tea partier casts a write-in vote for the Sweet Meteor of Death in 2014.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Tweets of the Week (6/15/14 - 6/21/14)

Obama's latest distraction

Ahmed Abu Khattala, someone suspected of helping to organize the Benghazi attack, was finally taken into custody a few days ago.  The YouTube guy that the Obama administration tried to blame for the attack was arrested in about two weeks, but for some reason it took us almost two years to grab one of the actual terrorists involved.  Why did it take so long to find someone who made himself available for media interviews?

I think President Obama still wants to believe that the Benghazi attack really was caused by a YouTube video somehow, and only decided to capture one of the terrorists involved when it could be used as a distraction.  Now Obama gets to beat his chest and pretend to care about terrorism again for a while, and all his spokespeople and media sycophants get to pounce on any Republican who dares to question the timing of it, but announcing that we have Khattala is only the first part of the distraction.  The mess in Iraq is going to be a long term problem that is bound to keep eating away at Obama's poll numbers; he needs a big distraction that he can keep milking over and over again.  Khattala will be tried in civilian court, and of course the whole thing will be turned into a circus.  I don't think the verdict even matters to Obama as much as the circus itself does, especially if he can get Khattala to say something on the stand that reinforces the silly idea that a YouTube video was somehow to blame for everything.

Khattala is being interrogated right now, but I doubt we will get anything meaningful out of him.  Even if Obama wanted to get anything meaningful out of Khattala, which I doubt, he's just not willing to do what it takes to get anything out of him anyway.  With Obama, you either blow the terrorists up (along with everyone around them) before they have a chance to tell us anything useful, or you bring them in and give them some milk and cookies--and if the milk and cookies approach is ever deemed too harsh for whatever reason, Obama just sets them free.  I'm convinced that the only reason Khattala isn't still free right now is because Obama badly needed a distraction and he just can't resist getting a chance to point the finger of blame at Nakoula Basseley Nakoula yet again.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tweets of the Week (6/8/14 - 6/14/14)

Obama throws Iraq under the bus

An especially militant offshoot of Al-Qaeda called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, has taken control of several cities in Iraq.  They took Fallujah earlier this year, Mosul and Tikrit both in the past few days, and now it's looking like Baghdad might be next on their list.  The prime minister of Iraq has asked for help, but President Obama has yet to offer any.  Drone strikes may or may not still be on the table, but Obama has completely ruled out sending any ground troops back into Iraq.

Obama seems to want to have it both ways by taking all the credit for "ending" the Iraq War while still counting on all the blame for the inevitable horrors that follow to be laid at Bush's feet.  The thing is, Obama has already had a hand in creating these horrors for years.  The maniac currently running ISIL is someone that Obama set free when he needlessly shut down the Camp Bucca prison in 2009.  Obama also gave ISIL a head start when he took it upon himself to supply Syrian rebels with weapons and training without giving much thought as to how radicalized the rebels were becoming or how the weapons or training might be used against us later.

Some people refer to ISIL as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria instead, or ISIS, which can be misleading.  Not only does ISIL want to control Iraq and Syria, but also Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Cyprus, and part of Turkey; since President Obama always makes a point of referring to the group as ISIL instead of ISIS, I have to assume that he knows this.  The leader of ISIL has even specifically threatened the United States, and yet Obama would have you believe that ISIL is a problem that we should leave to the Iraqis to figure out for themselves.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Tweets of the Week (6/1/14 - 6/7/14)

The curious case of Bowe Bergdahl

After it became clear to President Obama that the Shinseki resignation wasn't going to be enough to make the VA scandal go away, he decided that it was time to reach into his magic bag of distractions and pull something out; what he pulled out was Bowe Bergdahl, the last remaining American POW in Afghanistan.  Obama was hoping that bringing Bowe home would make himself immune to criticism about the treatment of veterans by showing that he leaves no man behind.  Indeed, most people were initially glad to hear that Bowe was released, if a little queasy about releasing five high-level terrorist scumbags to do it.  But then we started hearing from Bowe's platoon mates that he was only captured because he deserted his post, and Bowe's father showed up in the Rose Garden speaking in Arabic and Pashto, looking like he just crawled out of a fucking spider hole.  Add to all that the sheer lunacy that is the twitter account run by Bowe's father, and this started to look like the worst deal we ever made with anybody.

And over the next few days the deal continued to look worse and worse.  Not only did President Obama violate the law by failing to consult Congress on the deal, but he also blatantly lied to us about why he did it.  First we were told that Bowe was so sick that he would have died if the deal hadn't happened right away, and then the story eventually became that Bowe would have been murdered by the Taliban if the deal were ever made public, even though the Obama administration and the Taliban had both talked rather openly about the possibility of such a deal.

Before Bowe disappeared, he emailed his parents to tell them how much he hated America and our military, and how much he wanted to help the Afghan people; after taking his father's idiotic advice to "OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE", he went AWOL and left behind a note saying that he didn't want to be an American anymore.  At least six people died searching for him.  The Obama administration knew all of this, and yet they still expected us to be euphoric over this deal for some reason.

Bowe converted to Islam while in captivity.  He also declared himself a mujahid and was reportedly allowed to carry a loaded gun.  The Pentagon knew this for years, and yet the exchange went ahead anyway.  Why?

And now the latest feeble attempt at spin from the Obama administration is that Bergdahl's platoon mates were probably all psychopaths or something.  Rather than distracting us from the VA scandal, it seems that Obama has only succeeded in reinforcing the idea that he cares much less about how our troops are treated than he does about how it affects him politically.  Maybe for his next trick Obama will ask John Kerry to resign as Secretary of State and nominate him for Secretary of Defense instead.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Learn to pick your battles, and your heroes

When the standoff between Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management first hit the news, I didn't quite know what to make of it.  Then I saw that Bundy was getting enthusiastic support from the likes of Alex Jones and Pat Dollard, so I figured it was just a matter of time before the whole thing turned into a clown show.  Boy, did it ever.

Cliven Bundy's fight with the BLM has somehow turned him into some sort of conservative folk hero, but to him this is much more than just a fight over grazing rights and government overreach.  Cliven Bundy doesn't think the federal government has the right to do anything in Nevada; to him, the federal government doesn't even exist.  Cliven Bundy is not a conservative.  He's not even a libertarian, though he may call himself one.  He's closer to an anarchist than he is anything else.

How shocked can we really be that federal agents would use a show of force to try to make an example out of a guy who openly admits he doesn't recognize the authority of any federal agency?  The feds were bound to show up with guns eventually.  And the fact that Bundy seems to have every wacko militia within a thousand miles on his speed dial essentially guarantees that this will end very badly for everyone, especially the wives they plan to use for human shields.

You'd think all that would be enough to make Cliven Bundy politically radioactive, but there's more.  Now he's making ridiculous comparisons between the treatment of blacks today under Obama and the treatment of blacks under slavery, and instead of apologizing for it when people cry foul, he doubles down on stupid.  There are plenty of reasonable ways to make the case that the welfare state is destructive to black families, but apparently Bundy's superpower is always finding the dumbest, most offensive, most counterproductive way to make the case for anything.  Whether his statements were motivated by racism or not (I don't think they were), the end result is still that anyone who ever said a kind word about Bundy will be called a racist now, and even people who never supported him will still be called a racist when they try to make similar arguments in a better way.  It'll be like Todd Akin all over again.

Obama has been a spectacularly awful president.  Pretty much every agency in this administration is rife with incompetence and has been politicized beyond belief, and I'm sure that the BLM is no exception.  To make matters worse, Harry Reid may very well have infected the BLM with his own special brand of awfulness and corruption.  But the enemy of your enemy is not always your friend.  The federal government owns 80% of the land in Nevada, and more land than they should in plenty of other states.  Lots of people not named Cliven Bundy have been affected by this.  Why not point to some of those examples instead?

I hope the GOP does well in 2016, but we can't count on anything.  We might end up with a decent presidential candidate, or we might not.  In the meantime, we have a real chance to make some headway in 2014, so let's please not blow it by allowing someone like Cliven Bundy to become the poster child for our cause.  Republicans need every seat in the House and Senate they can possibly get.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Council Has Spoken!

This week's results for the Watcher's Council vote are in, they've been posted over at Watcher of Weasels.  The winning council entry for the week was "Obama’s Loving Requiem For A Prominent Communist – And Mine" by Joshuapundit, and the winning non-council entry for the week was Michael Gurfinkiel's post "Great Caesar’s Ghost" over at National Review.  Congrats!

Update:  Last week's winners can be found here.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A new year, a new season of Justified

Happy New Year!  Happy as it can be anyway, considering how awful last year was and how much worse things seem to be getting for us every single day.  Sigh.

At least there's one small part of 2014 that I know I can count on being really awesome:

Season 5 of Justified sure is off to a great start.  It somehow seems to get better every single year.  It's a rare thing to see a show that consistently clicks on all cylinders the way this show does.  In a world where so many awful shows seem to limp along forever, long past the time when they should have been canceled, it's nice to see how great a show can be when the people making it actually give a shit.

Lots of other shows end up trying to use stunt casting to make up for their awful writing, but with Justified you have a terrific cast from top to bottom that's always given terrific material to work from.  Lots of new faces this season.  Michael Rapaport, Alicia Witt, Amy Smart, David Koechner, Will Sasso, Dave Foley, and Xander Berkeley will be appearing this season.  It'll be interesting to see how many of the new faces will survive this season and maybe even be back for the next one.

If you're suffering Breaking Bad withdrawal and haven't given Justified a chance yet for some strange reason, you should definitely consider catching up on the first four seasons.