Friday, October 28, 2005

Camera Obscura - Reel Scary Movies

Last week, I offered you a chance to vote on some your favorite horror movies as we take our daily steps towards Halloween. Many responded and you can read that post and their comments here.

Some good suggestions, without a doubt.

I also offered a TRUE or FALSE question for you -- More horror movies are made in the U.S. when a Republican is president. It isn't a partisan thing, it's just been sort of an ongoing debate my brother David and I have had for years. By going back and checking with dates and presidents, the Republicans win hands down. Here is a brief list
to illustrate my point (for instance, I did not include the first President Bush, mainly to save space and some movies, especially in the 1950s are also science-fiction fear films, and I only listed movies most folks would know or recognize).

Horror Classics and Presidents

Herbert Hoover 1928-1932
The Mummy

Dwight Eisenhower 1952-1961
The Thing
Earth Vs The Flying Saucers
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Day the Earth Stood Still
House On Haunted Hill
13 Ghosts
Black Sabbath
Black Sunday
Roger Corman's Poe movies (1960)
Little Shop of Horrors
Bucket of Blood and on and on
Frankenstein and Dracula features

The arrival on TV of Twilight Zone
The arrival on TV of Outer Limits

Richard Nixon 1968-1974
Night of the Living Dead
Rosemary's Baby
Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Gerald Ford 1974-1977
The Hills Have Eyes
The Omen

Ronald Reagan 1981-1989
The Fly (remake)
The Thing (remake)
Freddy Krueger movies
The Shining
Friday the 13th movies
Halloween sequels
Day of the Dead

G.W. Bush 2000-2008
The Ring
The Grudge
Land of the Dead
House of 1,000 Corpses
Queen of the Damned
Resident Evil
28 Days Later
Jeepers Creepers
Dawn of the Dead (remake)

Starting this Friday on the Showtime Cable Network, they are offering some of the best of the horror genre's writers and directors a chance to scare you good in one-hour specials. The first airs tonite,"Incident On and Off A Mountain Road," written by a real master of horror, Joe Lansdale, and directed by the creator of "Phantasm" and "Bubba Ho-Tep" (which Lansdale also wrote).

You can find a full rundown of the movies and the air-dates at thee
"Masters of Horror" official site. Future episodes include directors Dario Argento, Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter, Joe Dante, John Landis, Takashi Miike, Mick Garris and a host of fine writers like Lansdale and David Schow.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Ethics Waltz

As the state circles around and around real reform for Ethics or Lobbyists or TennCare, the finger-pointing continues -- "He/She is worse than I am!" Truth is, all legislators are suffering from a lack of public confidence and an over-abundance of influence of Lobbyists. Take the following from the state Democratic Party newsletter:

The Tennessee Republican Party shot itself in the foot last week with a clumsy attack on State House Majority Leader Kim McMillan. The story goes like this: GOP Chairman Bob Davis sent a letter to McMillan, a Clarksville Democrat, alleging a conflict of interest because the law firm where she works represents an East Tennessee utility seeking state regulatory approval. Aside from the fact that no conflict exists, Davis failed to take into account that a hostof Republican lawmakers have day jobs that actually do pose potential conflicts with their legislative duties.

-- Among them: State Senator Mark Norris, a Collierville attorney who represents hospitals before the state
Health Services and Development Agency.

--State Representative Glen Casada, of Franklin, who introduced legislation to benefit his employer, a unit of drug maker
Schering-Plough Corp;

-- and State Representative Joey Hensley, a Hohenwald doctor who filed a bill to put more TennCare money in the pockets of physicians despite the fact that his medical practice collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from the program over the years. Norris, in
a report by the Commercial Appeal, seemed perturbed by Davis'attack and acknowledged some legislators' day jobs will intersect with government from time to time. Unless the state wants to shift from a citizen legislature to a professional legislature, well have to continue to deal with these issues, Norris said."

I love that last sentece -- "Unless the state wants to shift from a citizen legislature to a professional legislature ...." Sure seems like the Professional Politicians are what Tennessee has and the concept of a "citizen legislature" is scoffed and derided. "Why, Joe, imagine how much a new member would have to learn about how business is done?"

Newsflash - the public does know about how business is done -- the so-called "Tennessee Waltz" FBI probe is one of several on-going into business-as-usual in government, linking with the FBI probe of law enforcement statewide called "Operation Tarnished Shield" and the on-going FBI probe into the former Sundquist Administration.

It DOES NOT matter which party has members under review, and sadly, I don't think the voters give one hairy rat-tail of the outcome. Voters know their voices are ignored and unwanted. The ever-decreasing voter turnout shows they understand their votes soon do not matter.

Somehow, the notion that a Campaign Contribution is an act of exercising the Rights of Free Speech has taken root and is flowering across the country. It's a critical mistake.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Hamblen Taxpayers Lose In Media Spin - Again

Hamblen County taxpayers got stuck once again with a new and ever-expanding schools funding bill, though the local media cheered the barely-approved costs by a razor thin margin. The spin says the state gives all and Hamblen taxpayers don't give enough. The spin says costs are matched by donations for three years. But what that means is after this short period, the full funding costs will fall squarely on the local taxpayers.

Commissioner Linda Noe pegs the problem in her web log. Here is an excerpt from her post about this issue:

"There will be, and has been, "spin" galore about the ELL teacher situation. As Commissioner Phillips pointed out yesterday, if the school system had followed the BEP funding guidelines in this area (11.5 teachers), we would only be 2.5 teachers short of the 14 that will be required for ELL students in 2006-2007 instead of being 6 short! Another item that the Board likes to "spin" is to say that the state/local BEP funding doesn't cover the full costs of these ELL teachers in Hamblen County.

Well, the fact is that the state provides 62.7% of the BEP funding for these teachers and Hamblen County provides the required BEP local funding match of 37.3%. The school system says that this level of state/local BEP funding doesn't cover its teacher and benefit costs. What is not mentioned is that Hamblen County provides additional funding over and above the required BEP local funding match of 37.3%. Hamblen County provides approximately $5 million dollars in additional funding above the required match and has done so for several years through maintenance of effort provisions. And on top of the $5 million provided above BEP local match requirements, Hamblen County also provides additional money to the schools every year through the payment of school construction debt on behalf of the school system---principal and interest payments that are paid from the county's debt service fund. (If you hear it said that the school system helps pay the school construction debt, that is correct but only to a small degree. The school system agreed years ago to contribute $500,000 of its BEP money to help in the payment of the huge school construction debt that was incurred by the county with the recently completed $35 million school building program--this $500,000, however, does not begin to cover the principal and interest costs that the county incurs and pays each year for school debt outside of the BEP and school budget.)

There will be a dozen different and carefully worded explanations for the current "crisis" and shortage of ELL teachers. Putting all this "spin" aside, the simple fact is that the school system shorted this program area for at least two years and has now put together a plan to start a brand new school for "newcomers" --a plan that will involve bussing 120 students from all over the county to and from a site at Walters State with loss of instructional time and ever-rising costs to the local taxpayers in future years."

The bottom line is, a handful of long-time commissioners approved a funding nightmare, which will only continue to grow the county's budget woes and sticking it to taxpayers. With the current priority the county had previously given Education Costs - providing over 85% of the county's entire budget alloted to one agency - it is never ever, ever enough. As Superintendent Dr. Dale Lynch likes to say "Let me assure you" .... however to me this cost to the county taxpayers continues to soar higher and higher.

Monday, October 24, 2005

American Troops, Not War, Supported

I'm sure you've noticed them, those magnetic yellow ribbons stuck on the backs and sides of cars and SUVs and trucks, which read "Support Our Troops." It seems a significant precision of phrasing that Americans have found - these ribbons do not say they "Support The War In Iraq" or "Support The War in Afghanistan". Certainly Congress has given approval for the war in it's constant funding of the war's cost, regardless of any public posing they may take with the media. But Americans have chosen their words wisely, it seems, and carefully.

U.S. Troops are also leaning on that support, though their morale seems to be in an ever-weakening state, some due to the usual military confusion and incompetence, but they have also taken to the blogging world and their stories provide intimate details and a picture of a military campaign that seems to be losing traction.

Operation Truth has been a firm chronicler of the experiences of vets from Iraq and Afghanistan and has detailed information about the slipping morale.

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff at the State Department, in a speech last Wednesday, noted the harmful nature of a "secret cabal" making foreign policy decisions at the White House and the dangerous nature of American's secret or "flummoxed" strategy in the war.

my army right now is truly in bad shape – truly in bad shape. And I’m not talking about the billions and billions of dollars of equipment it’s burning up in Iraq at a rate 10 or 15 times the rate its life cycle said it should be burned up at, but I’m also talking about when you have officers who have to hedge the truth, NCOs who have to hedge the truth. They start voting with their feet, as they did in Vietnam, my war. They come home and they tell their wife they’ve got to go back for the third tour and the fourth tour and the wife says, uh-uh, or the husband says, uh-uh, and all of a sudden your military begins to unravel. And the signs are very concrete right now that the Army and the Marine Corps – to a lesser extent the other services because they’re not quite as involved in the deployments that we’re talking about here and the frequency thereof, the op tempo as we say it – problems are brewing."

Also worth noting is Brent Scowcraft's scathing view of our lack of military strategy:

The neoconservatives -- the Republicans who argued most fervently for the second Gulf war -- believe in the export of democracy, by violence if that is required, Scowcroft said. "How do the neocons bring democracy to Iraq? You invade, you threaten and pressure, you evangelize." And now, Scowcroft said, America is suffering from the consequences of that brand of revolutionary utopianism. "This was said to be part of the war on terror, but Iraq feeds terrorism," he said

And most assessors see the U.S. stepping now into yet another country, Syria.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

How Much Is This Blog Worth?

I linked to this post via Crooks and Liars, submitted the URL and lo and behold, this Cup Of Joe Powell has cash value!

My blog is worth $6,774.48.
How much is your blog worth?

After only some three months, and over 6,000 page views, I'm glad to mark this a decent start.

Thanks to all of you for reading along! And get ready to see some ads and donation opportunities!