Friday, November 26, 2021

Democrats Fueling Inequality

If you listen to the partisans at MSNBC everything that's awful is the Republicans' fault. The voters need to give Senate Democrats a filibuster proof majority along with similar margins in the House. We should expand the Supreme Court to cement a liberal Democratic court for the next fifty years. 
For good measure we must make Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico states. And lastly we've got to eliminate the Electoral College and combine the Dakotas, Wyoming, Idaho, Nebraska, Kansas, and Montana into just one state. Those goobers don't deserve fourteen senators! 
And with all of the i's dotted, t's crossed, and Republicans thus completely locked out of the national government for the foreseeable future, it would be a time of jubilation as all of the wonderful policy preferences of the Democratic Party would come to fruition. And we'd all live happily ever after. 
Some people who actually believe that. Fair enough. But the facts show that when Democrats have the power to put into practice their preferred policies, they often pass on doing so. 

Movie Reviews: Motel Hell

Motel Hell
directed by Kevin Connor    
This is another relatively low budget 80s horror movie that has probably become a cult movie in the years since its release. 
Motel Hell is obviously inspired by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, though it is not as over the top bloody and gory as some installments in that franchise. Motel Hell stars a serious actor, Rory Calhoun, from the classic Hollywood era who had been in various Westerns and romantic comedies with people like Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable. 
Although Calhoun is likely less remembered today, two decades past his demise, he may have well had have had enough residual fame at the time of this film's 1980 release to give this film some gravitas that it probably didn't deserve. 
Although it seems that Calhoun is having a good time, I wouldn't say he's mugging for the camera or chewing up the scenery. He plays his role straight. 
Some might view this film as a satire or parody of the better known slasher film it references. I don't think it is. At least I don't think it's doing that deliberately. There are some moments of bleak humor and a few self-referential genre jokes. 

Movie Reviews: The Holcroft Covenant

The Holcroft Covenant
directed by John Frankenheimer
The late John Frankenheimer made some gripping action, suspense and political thriller movies including but not limited to Ronin, The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May, 52 Pick-Up, Black Sunday, and Seconds
However no one bats a thousand. The Holcroft Covenant should have been a better film, based as it was on the novel of the same name by Robert Ludlum (who also wrote the The Bourne Triology), whose political intrigue story creations would seem to be a perfect fit for a director such as Frankenheimer. I think one of my parents had this Ludlum novel way back in the day. 
Watching the movie I had a strong sense of deja vu so I purchased the novel to read (again?). This wasn't a great movie but it had its moments. I think the casting was off. Bad casting impacts everything. 
I enjoy watching Michael Caine in almost everything he does. But if there's one thing that makes Caine distinctive as an actor it's his very strong Cockney accent which firmly marks Caine's place and age. 
A movie that posits that a Caine character is an American, as this one does, is going to have to work REALLY hard to get me to suspend disbelief. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Rittenhouse Found Not Guilty

I don't have much to write about the Rittenhouse not guilty verdict. I'm disgusted but not surprised. It was apparent from the beginning of the trial and its development that the judge was going out of his way to put not only his thumb on the scale for Rittenhouse but both feet as well. I can not imagine a situation in which an underage Black boy goes to a different state, brandishes a gun which he has no legal right to use, gets into confrontations, shoots multiple people and is acquitted of all charges by way of self-defense. 
And to put the cherry on top of the sh*t sundae, the judge throws out the gun possession charge, claiming that the law is too vague. Legally this is the equivalent of the proverbial Black gangster in Chicago shooting other Black gangsters, using illegal guns to do so, and successfully claiming self-defense. That's just not going to happen too frequently.
The people on the more progressive side of the political spectrum will need to collectively get used to using guns, keeping guns, and bearing guns. The right and their enablers in the justice system feel that they are the only armed people. The justice system is not going to prevent them from shooting you or punish them when they do. Right-wing vigilantes will be encouraged by this verdict.
Like it or not, as a country we are moving past the "Can't we put down the guns and talk?" phase of our political life. This is not that different from the Greensboro Massacre that occurred all those years ago. when I was a youngster. If someone of ill intent thinks you're weaker than they are, there will be problems.

House Censures Arizona Republican Gosar For Violent Video

I would like to think that I am a valued member of the organization at which I am currently employed. Maybe, maybe not. 
Different executives probably have had different takes on that question. 
But regardless of my actual or perceived worth to my employer I am certain that if I were posting videos depicting my assault or murder of my co-workers and/or people higher up than me in the company hierarchy, I would immediately be looking for new employment. Having a reprimand placed in my HR file wouldn't suffice as a punishment for such actions. 
The modern Republican Party doesn't understand or care about such things. For them "joking" about assaulting or murdering political opponents is a normal function of being in government--at least as long as they are the ones making such "jokes" or comments. 

WASHINGTON — A bitterly divided U.S. House of Representatives voted narrowly on Wednesday to censure Representative Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona, for posting an animated video that depicted him killing a Democratic congresswoman and assaulting President Biden. 

The formal rebuke of the far-right congressman who has allied himself with white nationalists — the first censure since 2010 and only the 24th in the history of the republic — also stripped him of his committee assignments.

Dumb Michigan Woman Hires Hitman

"Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe."
-Frank Zappa

After reading the following recent local story I recalled the above quote by the late musician Frank Zappa. A woman who was apparently not over a bad breakup of some kind decided that the world would be a better place without her former husband. 
And so, like every vengeful yet rational spouse who has reached that conclusion she decided to go online and rent a hitman. Yes indeed. As you might imagine subsequent events didn't pan out in the woman's favor.
A Michigan woman could spend up to nine years in prison for trying to get her ex-husband killed. Wendy Lynn Wein, 52, of South Rockford, used a fake website called "Rent-A-Hitman" to try to solicit the murder of her former husband on July 17, 2020. She used a pseudonym but entered her real information at the end of her "service request." However, the "Rent-A-Hitman" domain was created as a cyber-security test site.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Is Vice-President Kamala Harris Irrelevant

Being a Vice-President can be a thankless job. Other than being a "break in the case of emergency" Presidential replacement and voting to break ties in the Senate the Vice-President doesn't have much power in our political system. 
The influence and power of the Vice-President is entirely up to the President. Some Vice-Presidents, most notably Dick Cheney in recent years, have convinced Presidents to give them their own power center and set of responsibilities, or have been tacitly or openly acknowledged to be key Presidential advisers and people who influence access to the President. 
But most Vice-Presidents spend their time repeating whatever talking points the Administration wants emphasized, going to funerals, avoiding contradicting the President or otherwise embarrassing the Administration.  It's a pretty low bar to reach.
So if you happen to be a Kamala Harris supporter, it's probably a bit of a downer to see that Harris is apparently having a bit of trouble reaching that minimal "meets expectations" B minus job evaluation. Harris' portfolio was supposed to be immigration and voting rights. Nothing substantively progressive has occurred on either of those fronts. 

Movie Reviews: Kill Me Again

Kill Me Again
directed by John Dahl
In the late eighties early nineties there was a brief revival of noir movies. Some of these films were just unapologetic vehicles for bosomy actresses such as Shannon Whirry or Shannon Tweed to strut their stuff. Nothing wrong with that. 
Others had more serious artistic intention though they still usually had a sexy femme fatale. It's unusual, though not impossible, for a good film noir to get by without a femme fatale. 
Films of that era like Blood Simple, One False Move, Devil In A Blue Dress, and Dahl's later film Red Rock West among others, all updated the noir style for the modern era while still honoring tradition.
Kill Me Again is a 1989 neo-noir film that falls somewhere in the middle of the pack as far as quality and pacing. The acting was decent but I felt that something was occasionally a little off. I didn't completely disappear into the film the way that I will for a truly great movie. 
This was probably a movie that could have used an extra ten or fifteen minutes to its run time in order to flesh out its characters, both lead and supporting, a little more. 

Friday, November 5, 2021

Beverly Hills Police Harass Black People

I have never been to prison. My understanding is that some (many?) of the nation's worst large state men's prison systems are or were until very recently informally racially segregated. 
Each large racial group has or had its own showers, recreation and exercise areas, phone banks, cafeteria sections, bathrooms, television rooms, and so on.
A man of one racial group couldn't just walk thru a different group's area without escort and permission because otherwise he might then be assaulted and set off racial brawls or riots. 
Personal interactions between different races are discouraged and/or kept to strictly business. Violations could be punished with stabbings, beatings, or other unpleasantries. There is or was a strong feeling of "This is ours, that is yours. Stay out of ours!" I don't know if my local penal system has this practice and have no intention upon ever finding out. But there is some grim brutal honesty to this system. Everyone knows just where he stands. That's prison law.
But that's not supposed to be the law outside of prison. Legally speaking there aren't supposed to be "White" areas in which Blacks can't visit for pain of official harassment or worse. But we know that there are.