Friday, March 07, 2014

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) No. They're not. And our headlines are funnier.

2) Praise the Lord and pass the dutchie from the left hand side… ♫

3) You know, it's not like anyone couldn't see this story coming, or where it's headed.

4) Honey Badger may not give a fuck, but he's never eaten a gator.

5) Um, well, I guess this means Oreos can't get sunburned?

6) Mayor Bill Deblasio of New York has put his foot into a real storm. He wants to improve schools for all children. In order to do so, he has to defund the charter schools that suck the life blood out of the schools they are housed within (sort of mini-schools). Needless to say, parents of children in those schools, a few of which have been fairly successful experiments, are upset. Well, now Governor Cuomo has signaled he's against the Mayor. Personally, I think Deblasio's right: the money that's focused on those schools depletes the coffers for schools that really need a leg up, even as those schools are threatened with closure for underperformance. And there's your hint about what's really going on.

7) I might get behind this trade, if I was a city employee. Admittedly, one of the perks of civil service in NYC is the benefits package, since pay lags severely behind the private sector.

8) Putin twists arms, Crimea river.

9) On the one hand, it's nice that Google recognizes International Women's Day. On the other, do we really have to infantilize women? Crayons? Really?

10) Finally, Sad Trombone

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Maybe They'll Finally Do SOMEthing

The CIA searched computers intended to be used solely by the Senate Intelligence Committee in an apparent effort to determine how committee staff members gained access to a draft version of an internal agency review of its controversial interrogation program, U.S. officials said.

The action, some officials say, would mark the first time a U.S. intelligence agency has accessed congressional computers and would be an apparent violation of the constitutional principle of separation of powers.

So the CIA finally decided that Senators are people, too?

It’s not the separation of powers that should concern Senators: it’s the fact that the CIA is directly tasked with espionage overseas, not domestically (that’s the purview of the NSA, thankyewverymuch).

And it’s not like this is an ambiguous situation. We’ve been down this road already once in recent memory.

As with many things CIA, it looks like a case of trying to intimidate and badger people looking into behaviors they would prefer be kept under wraps, no matter how sworn to secrecy that investigator(s) might be. I can understand that a spy agency might want to keep a lower profile about some of the sausage-making it has to perform – after all, imagine if someone got a whiff of Zero Dark Thirty ahead of time – but Senators?

And even allowing for the grandstanding many of them, who really ought to know better, engage in, it might be a good idea to rein in the hounds.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Today In Slanted News

The diplomatic crisis in Ukraine is bad enough and the America government struggles to find a path to work this out are harsh and complex, but see if you can guess where this article was posted:

Is Russian President Vladimir Putin crazy or crazy like a fox?
In remarks quoted by "The New York Times," German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly wondered aloud whether the Kremlin leader was "living in another world." And despite the fact that the German government later denied Merkel's comments, an increasing number of analysts have been suggesting that, with his military intervention in Ukraine, Putin may have indeed taken leave of his senses.
Stanislav Belkovsky, an influential Moscow-based political commentator, says "the poor guy's brain isn't working."
And Andrei Zubov, a professor at the prestigious Moscow State Institute of International Relations, agrees.
"We always make prognoses based on the assumption that the politician, even if selfish and cruel, is intelligent and rational. But what we see now is the behavior of a politician who has lost his mind," Zubov says.
Rumors of Putin's supposed madness have become so prevalent in recent days that one can't help but recall the "madman theory" of former U.S. President Richard Nixon, whose administration tried to plant the suspicion that he was unbalanced in order to scare geopolitical opponents into concessions.

Any guesses? OK, let me give you some clues: Surprisingly, it’s not Fox News.

In fact, it’s not any of the usual right-wing bellicose megaphones.

It is, in truth, our own fucking Congress. I thought politics ended at the shore?

I guess not.

You’re looking at a very dangerous game being played by a highly partisan Republican party trying desperately to make something, anything, stick to Obama.

Monday, March 03, 2014

12 Years a Slave

It’s rare that Oscar sees things my way:

“12 Years A Slave” won best picture at the 86th Academy Awards on Sunday night, a poignant victory for the harrowing look at slavery in the United States.
Brad Pitt, one of the producers and stars, accepted the honor and then handed off accepting duties to director and fellow producer Steve McQueen.

“Everyone deserves not just to survive but to live,” said the British filmmaker. “I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery” and to those who still suffer in slavery today. Besides best picture, the film received Oscars for John Ridley for adapted screenplay and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o for supporting actress.

It got my vote, and hands down, I might add. If it hadn’t been for 12 Years, I likely would have voted for American Hustle.

And kudos to McQueen for pointing out that this is not a dim memory of American history, but a tragic stain on our conscience, and a current dilemma for so many people.

Even in America. Even. In. America.

It is not a movie for the faint of heart, but let’s face facts: if you’re faint of heart, you probably don’t read this blog, are not a liberal, and would prefer to think of America as this place where anything is possible rather than deal with reality.

The problem, as the Ariel Castro case proves, this is still true: anything is possible. It’s just not the mythology we’d like to accept.

Realities in America, yes, there’s a topic I’d love to see a filmmaker really tackle. If you work hard, you’ll be rewarded? I think not. And that’s just the first (but largest) myth we delude ourselves with.

McQueen tried. He fired off a salvo, albeit in a safely historical context, but what a damaging salvo. It ought to be required viewing in every state that still waves the Confederate flag proudly, and at least once a month. This is what you defend when you wave that flag.

Maybe a remake of Grapes of Wrath, so people can see how migrant workers really live. Or perhaps Elmer Gantry, so we can see through the lens of the Joel Osteens of the world – or Dodsworth and get a shot in at the 1%.

I see uprisings in China, Ukraine, Syria. I see Egypt and Libya still absorbing their “springs” of years past. I see a world where the present danger isn’t Al Qaeda, or North Korea, but the very citizens of each individual nation. And they look to America, and Americans, to lead the way. After all, we had that little “Revolution” a few hundred years ago. It’s time we owned up to it.