Friday, December 12, 2008

Neo-Hooverites strike again

Why do Republicans hate America? And why do they hate American workers - blue collar workers in particular?
Last night, lame duck Republicans in the Senate filibustered the $14 billion auto bailout package, presumably because the autoworkers union refused to slash salaries for its members next year.
Funny. I don’t recall Republicans filibustering the much larger bailout packages for the financial industry. I don’t recall them demanding big cuts in salary and compensation for Wall Street bankers and stockbrokers.
Out of an ideological hatred for unionized workers, a handful of southern Republican senators - with the full complicity of the majority of Republicans in the Senate - are trying to use the auto bailout as a stick to bludgeon to death the unions. They want to eliminate every advantage workers have from being organized by forcing them to be paid the same as non-union workers. And irregardless of cost-of-living variances between the north and south as well, I presume.
Because of their obstinate, stubborn right-wing hatred for unions, these Republicans may have pushed us into a much deeper recession than we are already in. The only way to pull ourselves out of this economic death spiral, that was created by Republican economic policies to begin with, is to get people employed and spending money again. And you can’t do that when you are forcing job cuts and salary reductions by fiat from Washington.
There is clearly no reason for any working American to ever vote Republican again, certainly not as long as they continue to embrace the economic policies of Herbert Hoover and George W. Bush.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Golden Globe 2008

The Golden Globe nominations are out and needless to say I am very much underwhelmed.

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Frost/Nixon," "The Reader," "Revolutionary Road" and "Slumdog Millionaire."

Comedy or musical:
"Burn After Reading," "Happy-Go-Lucky," "In Bruges," "Mamma Mia!" and "Vicky Christina Barcelona."

The only one I am even vaguely interested in seeing at this point is “Frost/Nixon” and that is mostly because it is directed by Ron Howard, one of my favorite directors.

As per usual, the biggest movies of the year were shut out. Dark Knight, which raked in an astonishing half a billion dollars got one supporting actor nomination for the late Heath Ledger. None of the other Top 10 grossing films of the year got any recognition whatsoever. That is unless you count the segregated category for animated films that includes WALL-E and Kung Fu Panda.
It is interesting to note that four of the Top 10 grossing films of 2008 are animated films - WALL-E, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar 2 and Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who. At this rate, I’m not sure how much longer Hollywood can continue dissing animated films.
The other interesting thing to note is that five of the Top 10 grossing films were “super hero” movies: Dark Knight (Batman); Indiana Jones; Iron Man; Hancock; and Quantum of Solace (James Bond).
The only non-animated, non-super hero film to break into the Top 10 (literally in the No. 10 slot) was the “chick flick” Sex and the City, which just edged out the year’s other big chick flick, Mama Mia.
Now Mama Mia DID make the Golden Globe cut, but only because they have a special category for comedies and musicals. They don’t have such a category over at the Academy Awards, so you can forget about Mama Mia come Oscar time.

My movie watching in 2008 has been pretty pathetic, so I’m not one to judge the worth of most movies (although that has never stopped me before ;)

Here are the handful of films that came out in 2008 that I have actually seen so far:

Iron Man
Kung Fu Panda
Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!
Speed Racer

I would definitely put WALL-E up for Best Picture ahead of those other nominees.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Untouchables

The Blagojevich corruption scandal is so completely over-the-top as to be almost comical. I can’t help but wonder if Blago didn’t do this on purpose. Maybe he knew he was about to get nailed for some other activities and decided to go out with a bang.
The only other explanation is that he is completely nuts.
I mean, the guy is a lawyer, a former prosecutor, who knew very well that he was already under investigation by the Feds. He should have known that his phones were already tapped. Did he think that he was too big, too powerful, too important to get nailed? How so? His immediate predecessor as governor is currently sitting in jail!
There is no rational explanation for what Blago did. But one thing it does do is present a very clear contrast with the Obama transition team.
Despite Republicans’ pathetic attempts to smear Obama with this mess, the president-elect is coming out of this smelling like a rose.
Blago clearly wanted to involve the president-elect in his pay-to-play scheme, but Obama wasn’t cooperating. Blago was upset that the only thing the Obama team was offering him in return for choosing their favored Senate candidate was “their appreciation.” So he told them to go Cheney themselves. Which is probably why Valerie Jarrett’s name was rather abruptly withdrawn from consideration some weeks ago.
So Obama and his team could not be touched. And now it looks as if Obama’s recent push for ethics reform in Illinois may have been the key to Blago’s downfall.

Mr. Obama placed the call to his political mentor, Emil Jones Jr., president of the Illinois Senate. Mr. Jones was a critic of the legislation, which sought to curb the influence of money in politics, as was Mr. Blagojevich, who had vetoed it. But after the call from Mr. Obama, the Senate overrode the veto, prompting the governor to press state contractors for campaign contributions before the law’s restrictions could take effect on Jan. 1, prosecutors say...
Mr. Obama used leverage that he had seldom employed — publicly, anyway — and strongly urged Mr. Jones to bypass Mr. Blagojevich and approve the ethics bill, banning the so-called pay-for-play system of influence peddling in Illinois...Mr. Obama’s intervention deepened a rift between him and Mr. Blagojevich that had been growing for some time.

There will no doubt be many more people who will try to tempt Obama to do things that would not look good in the light of day. But I think this is just one of many examples we will see that he will be scrupulous in avoiding them. Having been burned once over the comparatively innocuous Rezco land swap, I don’t think Obama is going to allow himself to make that kind of mistake again.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cleaning house

The Democratic Party should smell a lot cleaner next week after the stench of Rod Blagojevich and William Jefferson starts to dissipate.
Everyone knew that Blagojevich was in trouble, but few people expected him to go out with such a splash. It’s almost as if he did it on purpose, knowing full well his phones were being tapped by federal prosecutors. I mean, could anybody really be that stupid? Don’t answer that!
What is it with Illinois governors anyway? Blagojevich, a Democrat, could soon be sharing a prison cell with the former governor, Republican George Ryan. I think that is unprecedented. Now I assume that it will be left to the Democratic Lt. Gov. to choose Obama’s replacement in the Senate.

And at long last, the happy news that William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson is finally going to be an ex-congressman. It’s just too bad that the Democrats didn’t oust him themselves, leaving it up to the Republicans instead. But the candidate they got to knock off Jefferson - Joseph Cao, who will be the first Vietnamese-American in Congress - hardly fits the bill as your typical Republican, especially coming out of Louisiana. A former Jesuit priest, Cao’s primary goal, according to the NYT, will be addressing global poverty and taking care of refugees. I wonder how well that will fit in with his Republican colleagues’ goals of tax cuts for the rich?
If Democrats play it right, they might be able to persuade Cao to switch parties before long.