Oscar Nominations Are What They Are (Always)

Oscar noms (that’s what we in the industry (and by the industry I mean the business) call them).

I have one huge problem personally, that being that I (and Mrs. Polislice) HATED “La La Land.”  If it wins it’ll instantly go down in history with “Crash” as a “what we’re they thinking” choice.  It’s an exceptionally polarizing choice with as many people who hate it as love it.  I’m puzzled by the love.  In a purported musical the singing and dancing should be at least good.  It isn’t. Stone and Gosling have reed-thin voices, uncertain and weak. And their dancing? Limited.  The kid in the wheelchair on Glee had more moves.

All that said, the story is as thin as their voices.  It’s just about their love story and their relationship with their ambitions.  No B story, no other characters to invest in or support them!  No ensemble at all.  It was truly disappointing and way too long.

I’ve seen 5 of the 9 nominated films so far and I’d go with “Moonlight”one and “Fences” two, of the ones I’ve seen.

But I think my favorite film of the year was “Captain Fantastic” with Viggo Mortensen. Hardly anybody saw it, but I really enjoyed it.  He plays a guy who took his wife and six kids really and truly off the grid years ago and has been raising the kids in a verrrrry unique way.  Suffice to day they celebrate Noam Chomsky Day on the pubic intellectual’s birthday. Then something happens that changes their lives.  You know, the way a story is supposed to be told (looking at you “La La Land”). Very recommended.

Mortensen’s performance is certainly Oscar worthy because a lot of actors would have played him as a raving maniac and he’s not, he’s just a father trying to prepare his kids for life in a crazy world.  It’s very good and it’s a shame more people haven’t seen it.


The (Failed) Laboratories of Democracy

Trump will absolutely decimate the budgets of poor red states with his health care plans and destroy lives.  But fuck them they brought it on their own damn selves.  Do you disagree?

Well check this out.  A NC lawmaker is all upset because protesters yelled at former Gov. Pat McCrory and wants to make that a crime to yell at a govt. official.

Republican state Sen. Dan Bishop, who proposed the bill, told the News and Observer that the legislation would “make it a crime to threaten, intimidate, or retaliate against a present or former North Carolina official in the course of, or on account of, the performance of his or her duties.” Bishop said that offenders of his proposed statute should serve a prison sentence up to five years.

I’m sure the intertubes has allowed copies of the Constitution of the United States to get that far south.  But  typical of the new breed of GOP lawmakers the fee fees of their fellow tribe members is more important than any sort of responsible governance.  I’m almost amazed that they didn’t word it so it’s only a crime if it’s targeted at Republicans. How bipartisan to include Democrats.  I wonder if he knows that this would prohibit calling “libtard” at a NC Democratic lawmaker.  Or maybe that’s to be left up to the interpretation of the courts.

But even worse is Louisiana – a very common phrase.  They passed a “Blue Lives Matter” law which extended hate crime protection to police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel.  Oy!  But the consequences of such are that, in the mind of one Police Chief it may be possible to charge someone with a hate crime when they’ve resisted arrest.  Now you’ve got a fucking nightmare.

Hebert’s interpretation of the law is quite dangerous, as resisting arrest can be a fickle charge. What it is, and isn’t, depends on the individual officer. For instance, if a police officer grabs a protester’s arm during a demonstration and that person makes a movement the officer considers aggressive, a minor trespassing or disturbing the peace charge could be bumped up to assault and possibly considered a hate crime.

Lovely.  The people with the guns and kevlar vests need more protection.

Just to show that absolutely crazy fuckthought can cross the Mason Dixon we go way up north to South Dakota where the good and frozen people there passed an expansive ethics and campaign finance law by referendum last November.  But the GOP legislature there can’t live with that kind of anti-democratic interference in their lives.

The measure, known as IM-22, passed with 52 percent of the vote. It is supposed to create an independent commission to oversee investigations into ethical misconduct by elected officials, impose tougher limits on campaign contributions and lobbyists’ gifts to lawmakers, place restrictions on lawmakers becoming lobbyists, increase disclosure by independent political groups, and set up a system to publicly finance elections.

The legislature is in emergency session to overturn the new laws and the will of the people of South Dakota.

On Monday afternoon, a joint committee of the South Dakota legislature approved emergency rules to immediately repeal the entire law. The next step is a vote on the floor of the state House of Representatives on Tuesday.

State Sen. Billie Sutton (D) told HuffPost, “This is a way that the repeal can’t be referred to the ballot.”

Normally in South Dakota, if the legislature repeals a citizen-backed initiative, the voters can propose a referendum to reverse the repeal. But if it’s eliminated under emergency rules, the citizens can’t reverse that repeal. To adopt those emergency rules, the legislature needs a two-thirds majority, which Republicans provided.

The opposition to the ethics initiative was funded by Americans for Prosperity – a Koch brothers backed PAC.  The Kochs bought and paid for those SD legislators fair and square and the gall of the people of SD to interfere in that contractual relationship is outrageous.

Maybe they can make it a hate crime to hold politicians accountable – think big SD!

They’re Debating the Use of the Word “Lie” When We’ve Already Moved on to “Bullshit”

I guess it’s a debate – which word is more powerful, to call something a “lie” or “bullshit”. There is a substantive difference per Princeton philosophy Prof. Harry G. Frankfurt’s seminal 2005 book “On Bullshit” (which is also the answer to the question “What is Donald Trump’s entire life based on”).

Bullshit is both a noun and a verb.  So it’s an act and an active attempt to elide truth even if there’s a hint of truth to it.  The paradigm of the hyperbolic fish story comes to mind. You may have gone out on a boat and you may have actually caught a fish, you went through the act of fishing.  There’s no need to make the story any bigger – unless it’s not enough to just inform, you intend to entertain, mesmerize and impress and in so doing mislead – then the size of the fish caught gets exaggerated, the struggle, the size of the waves, etc. and now we’re in bullshit land.  Which can be benign, in the case of a fish story, but can be quite harmful in the case of George Bush’s Nigerian yellowcake story. Or Trump’s constant claims to the biggest, best, most popular, most successful.

“It is just this lack of connection to a concern with truth—this indifference to how things really are—that I regard as the essence of bullshit.”

If you know the truth and choose to say something else that aggrandizes yourself it’s bullshit. Trump isn’t just an inveterate liar about facts, he’s a habitual bullshitter about EVERYTHING.

Equal Rights Amendment Resubmitted

I’ve written before about the injustice that the ERA never was ratified.  The crazy history of it getting so close, looking inevitable and then the rise of the wacko right, like Godzilla out of the sea, to wreak havoc on the rationality of our republic.  Well, Phyllis Schafly is dead.

A group of U.S. Senators took this ripe opportunity to resubmit the ERA for consideration.

The 28th amendment would guarantee that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Congress approved the amendment in 1972 and set a seven-year deadline for ratification.

Besides the obvious hole in our Constitution that this simple amendment would close, I’ve also long held that the ERA would be a good start on getting the American public back in a mindset of making such important changes.  It would grease the skids for a Citizen’s United amendment (Money is not speech and corporations are not people”) to get this process going with something as stupidly necessary as the ERA.

I wrote in 2013 that even Mississippi would vote to ratify this today.  Well, now I’m not so sure, because the stupid it never ends… but it was always crazy that the fear of women in the military and unisex bathrooms put the kibosh on equal rights for women.  Almost everything the anti-ERA forces cited alarmingly for not ratifying it has come to be anyway without the sky falling.

Republicans Will Be Republicans

Two days after the massive Women’s March, Trump reinstates the Global Gag Rule, like Bush and Reagan before him, showing (again) that he’s just a conventional Republican pol. kowtowing to the Christian right wackos – against women!  All of his rhetoric has been anti-choice, including stating that women should be punished. And he’s made nothing but anti-LGBTQ statements and actions since his shout-out at the RNC.

The Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule, was first put in place by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. It prohibits giving U.S. funding to nongovernmental organizations that offer or advise on a wide range of family planning and reproductive health options if they include abortion ― even if U.S. dollars are not specifically used for abortion-related services…

The policy has severe implications and could be deadly for women and girls in developing countries and conflict zones, who often resort to dangerous methods of ending their pregnancies when they lack access to safe abortion. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 21 million women a year have unsafe abortions in developing countries, accounting for about 13 percent of all maternal deaths.

Despite misgivings over his ties to Russia, Lindsay Graham, John McCain and Marco Rubio will all vote for Tillerson for Secretary of State.  Of course they will.  The predictability is comforting.  The utter lack of statesmanship or individuality is just who they are.

Don’t Laugh – Joe Piscopo Wants to Be My Governor

This is what we have to look forward to.  Piscopo has plans to cut pensions for teachers, police and firefighters, but get rid of their income taxes.  Seriously.

He also wants to privatize the Garden State Parkway (what exit are you from?)

Piscopo said the deal to forgive taxes would not include most state workers, but stressed that this one facet of a broader effort to save pensions for the state’s 800,000 active and retired public workers.

He said he would soon debut a plan to call for the privatization of both the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway by leasing them to Fortune 500 companies, albeit only with union support.

“You’d need to go to what I’d call a ‘mega-company’ like a Johnson & Johnson or AT&T,” said Piscopo, who predicted leasing out the state’s busiest toll highway in exchange for naming rights could yield significant savings and help fund pensions.

I’m not a praying man.  But I welcome your entreaties to a higher being.  2018 should be a good year for Democrats in NJ, but with what we’ve just been through… one would hope the cautionary tale would take hold… but who knows?

Joe Fucking Piscopo for fuck’s sake.

What the Marches Mean

Firstly, let’s note how extraordinary that such a huge and multi-armed event could get pulled off, with no violence and virtually no ability to nutpick the participants.  A lot of clueless people might not know what the hell it was about, but it was all pretty clear if you were there or watched on C-Span.  There were not the usual off-topic and unhelpful hangers on that the right can always nutpick to try to denigrate the whole.  Just about every anti-Iraq war march had the odd “Free Mumia” sign or ‘Make Hemp Legal”.   I’ve not heard or seen about any such “eccentricity” on Saturday (not that those sentiments are all that bad, it’s just, like I said, unhelpful).

It was hard to ignore, not only the size and length of the marches, but the overall mood as reported everywhere.  Which brings us to what it all means, the big post-march question.

For those that had to ask where these people were on November 8, let’s get the eye rolling out of the way and state that it’s pretty certain that the marchers to a 90%+ degree were voting on November 8.   Anecdotally, there were marchers who didn’t vote and regret that and some that even voted for Trump and likewise are wracked with regret. That’s all fine. The encouraging thing is that these people are also likely to vote in November 2018. That’s the big takeaway.

If this kind of activism and awareness continues and, hopefully, grows over the next 18 months then the midterms of 2018 can look like the midterms of 2006 or 2010 where an angry public came out to give the party out of power the House and Senate.  When one side is motivated it can make a huge difference in the midterms because of the generally low turnout.

It has been suggested that the next round of marches should take place on Tax Day, April 15 to make it clear that the public does indeed want to see Trump’s taxes, and to protest his billionaire swamp cabinet.  I’m afraid that by then we’ll have some even bigger motivations to march again, specifically against bloody minded actions taken by Trump and the tunnel vision GOP ideologues in the House and Senate.

There’s lots of bad coming down the pike.  Lots of things to scream about.  For those that think the left needs a centralized set of marching orders and a unifying figure, that’s Trump.  Trump is the best motivator and unifier of the center/left that we’ve ever seen. He’s making Bush look brilliant and bi-partisan in comparison.

This is just the beginning.

Sure, Millions Protest, But Ratings! Oops!

ABC must have thought they had a surefire ratings winner on inauguration eve with “20/20 The Trumps Go to Washington” special.  It didn’t do that well. Sad!

It came in third in the key 18-49 demographic. Just 5.1 million total viewers. The myth of Trump ratings gold is tarnished. And that hurts him where he eats. The media circus made him and will toss him aside like a chew toy if the public is done with him.

The Obamas Won Popular Opinion, the Obstructionists Won Government

The Obamas left Washington with very high approval ratings and the recognition that they represented the best of America with exemplary decency, intelligence and dedication. Roy Wood, Jr. of The Daily Show isn’t wrong when he says of course Obama will prosper by the cringeworthiness of the next act on stage. It’s easy now when they’re off stage for the press to finally give the Obamas the credit that they felt they had to qualify for 8 years.

The bothsidism, false equivalence and the pretzel logic of a broadcast media that is so cowed by the right that they have declared the middle ground somewhere between the truth and a lie, can now be relaxed for the Obamas. Decorum dictates that the hacky politics of personal destruction that were okay and appropriate until yesterday against those good and decent people would now be tacky and inappropriate. A truce is called on them. And why not now, in this truce, actually cite their many successes?

But make no mistake that the other side, Mitch McConnell and the obstructionists won. They’re still there and still in charge. They famously stole a Supreme Court seat, but it’s forgotten how many job creating, pro-worker pieces of legislation they blocked. Legislation that would have helped create better jobs for the people who voted against Hillary because Democrats have supposedly left them.

In the morally neutral coverage of our politics a decent man leading a decent administration was stymied by politicians acting disingenuously, vindictively and strategically to create amoral gridlock and dysfunction that devastated many people who needed their government’s help.  Progress on vital issues can’t be made because one major national party has chosen bullshit over science and math and that choice is treated as just as valid.

The bad actors are still on stage and hurting the country. But the truth can’t wait until they too are off stage.  If, as Edmund Burke said, “[t]he only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” then how much damage can be done when good people and good ideas, truth itself is minimized and bad people and bad ideas, damnable lies are elevated by a media-political environment that upholds a perversion of neutrality as the model of how the public should be informed about their public servants?