Friday, June 29, 2007

Camera Obscura - Wild West Days & High School Hell

This fall will bring out heroes and villains alike who rely on the old-style vigilante justice in the movies. And a fresh to DVD release of a 1969 anti-establishment classic is still one of the most powerful movies ever made about public education.

First, a preview of a remake of a classic Western, "3:10 to Yuma", based on Elmore Leonard's novel and filmed before with Glenn Ford as the star. The remake stars Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Peter Fonda and Gretchen Mol. This version is by director James Mangold ("Walk The Line") in a story about the challenges a decent family man faces trying to uphold the law. Here's the preview:

Jodie Foster is back this fall in "The Brave One," as a woman whose husband is killed and their dog kidnapped by random thugs. The police don't seem to be helping solve the crime, and her process of coping with the loss includes making an alter-ego, "Death Wish"-style. Neil Jordan directs the movie. Even if the plot sounds familiar, the one thing I've learned about Foster is never, ever pick on her or treat her bad. And DO NOT hurt her dog. Here's the preview:


Rumors say two sequels to "Kill Bill" are being prepped by Quentin Tarantino, including one movie telling the story of Uma Thurman's daughter versus the daughter of Viveca Fox.

Also, I happened to watch the 1992 Hong Kong movie, "City on Fire", the alleged basis of "Reservoir Dogs." True, there are some common themes - the story is about an undercover cop falling in with a gang of jewel thieves - but the similarity pretty much ends there. Comparing the two movies shows how smart, innovative and inventive Tarantino is as a filmmaker as he took a routine story and re-told it so much better.


I've waited a long time for this movie to come to DVD and the wait produced a must-have. A new 2-Disc Criterion release of the 1969 counter-culture classic "If..." boasts a beautiful remastered copy and another disc loaded with extras about how the movie was made.

The movie was the first for actor Malcolm McDowell and even at his young age, his performance dominates the movie. The story is of the often pointless and usually painful 'upholding of traditions' at a British school for boys. The authority figures here are posers and perverts, the institutions of education are now simple abuses of power enacted on any and all groups and sub-groups. The movie will often shift into black and white for certain scenes - some say it was a move to save money and others note how those scenes are done in counterpoint to the typical color world.

The ending may be more shocking to audiences today than when it was made. It may seem less a fearful fantasy of disaffected youth than an eerie prophecy of school days in our own age.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Real ID Act Tucked Inside Immigration Bill

UPDATE: The Senate has killed the immigration bill for this session.
Got a new national law, which states have been voting to not enforce, and looking for a way to jam that proposed law down everyone's throats?

Hide it in the controversial Immigration Reform Bill under debate now in the Senate.(See UPDATE above)

I've written often before on how this bill is bad for America. It was originally hidden in a bill providing relief for victims of the tsunami in Southeast Asia a few years ago.

This new ID will be mandatory for every American - without one, you could not open a bank account, buy an airline ticket, collect Social Security benefits (never mind that you have a SS ID card and number), you could not enter any federal facility, and you would not be able to operate a vehicle (never mind that current Drivers License you own.) In addition, security experts have stated the lack of wisdom in creating a single database which would contain so much information which identity thieves require to steal info about you. It would be a one-stop shopping center for identity thieves.

Tennessee's legislature voted to repeal the act, and that it won't enforce it unless the billions in costs related to creating the ID are paid for with Federal funds. 15 states have done the same, 10 more have voted to approve it in one section of their legislature and 6 more states have anti-Real ID legislation pending.

In defending the plan, The National Review claims:

... states will have to secure their issuance processes, utilize tamper-resistant materials and production methods, and ensure that only legal U.S. residents receive state-identification documents for federal purposes" .....

Yo, there National Review --- isn't that the normal function NOW for state documentation? What magic wand will be waved over the Real ID program so that it works?

The current Immigration Reform Bill now being considered has an amendment to remove the ID Act from that bill, though it does not halt the program from being mandatory by 2013. This post via KnoxViews has links for you to notify your Senator to stop the Real ID in the Immigration Bill.

The ID plan turns the Dept. of Motor Vehicles into agents for Immigration, for Homeland Security and what if a state you travel to does not recognize your state's official ID? We could just inject every American citizen or legal immigrant with a "patriot-certified" radio-frequency chip to insure their identity, and just as quickly, forgeries for that will appear.

Good Cop, Baby Cop

Warning - some adult language

Good Cop, Baby Cop

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Cheney In Wonderland

So I was debating even posting this today - another post on Vice President Cheney? No one cares, the bending and twisting enigmatic tale of his tenure leads to less than concern among most. And then I see this story moving across the newswires:

The Senate Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed the White House, Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, the Justice Department, and the National Security Council for documents related to President Bush’s warrantless domestic surveillance program


Over the past 18 months, this Committee has made no fewer than nine formal requests to the Department of Justice and to the White House, seeking information and documents about the authorization of and legal justification for this program,” Chairman Leahy wrote in letters accompanying the subpoenas to Bush Administration officials. “All requests have been rebuffed. Our attempts to obtain information through testimony of Administration witnesses have been met with a consistent pattern of evasion and misdirection.”

So why not run the post I had planned to run -- seems timely as ever. And this story may just have legs after all, with some foot on the leg too, so it can kick awake the public to notice Cheney in Wonderland:

No law applies to him, he is the Unknown Entity, a cypher whose actions or inactions prompt the PR handlers inside Washington feign puzzlement about the myriad questions regarding Vice President Cheney to say things like "that's an interesting debate, but not one I can comment on."

Indeed, the Cheney Question might well be preceded by this phrase "
You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into .... The Vice President Zone."

He says he is not bound by any law to inform anyone on how many people work in his offices, he does not have to follow the law regarding the handling of national secrets, or his meetings on policies he reviews and does not have to tell anyone who he includes in such meetings, his very location is typically secret, his political activity is beyond the scrutiny of any branch of government. He is the fourth (secret) branch of government.

Via Russ McBee, I noticed this exchange in a White House Press Briefing from Tuesday held by Tony Snow.:

It reads like a Washington version of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party.

On Iraq and the War:

"Q: The President had another VTC with [Iraq's] Maliki yesterday, right -- it seems more and more frequent; the administration is putting pressure on the Iraqi government. But can you tell us, any signs that they are making progress in any way?

Snow: We do know that they are obviously working toward oil law and distribution laws, and they've also talked about de-Baathification, but it's a parliamentary process and they'll have to make whatever --

Q That doesn't sound like any progress, Tony.

Snow: It may not, but on the other hand, it could.

At least some reporters at the briefing were trying to ask some pertinent questions. Especially about what function the VP plays in today's political world:

"Q Did the Vice President sign off on the decision made by the President last week with regard to --

MR. SNOW: As you know -- look, the President makes the decisions in the White House; the Vice President is an advisor. We also make a careful point, as we've said many times, to allow those deliberations to remain confidential.

Q But, originally, what they sent out was that he wasn't a part of the executive branch. Are they amending that now?

MR SNOW: Again, I'll refer that to the Vice President's office. What you're really talking about is trying to parse constitutionally --

Q I'm not; he is.

MR SNOW: Well, if you go back and, for instance, look at Article 2, there are no specified executive activities for the Vice President. The Vice President is the president of the Senate. It is a wonderful academic question and I'm just not going to go any further than we've gone to date. What I am trying to clarify --

Q Are you referring to there has been reported breaches being within the office of the Vice President or the White House?

MR SNOW: No, no, no. Again, the office of the Vice President is not covered by the executive order.

Q No, no, no, I'm sorry. You said there have been reported breaches --

MR SNOW: Within the government. But on the other hand, again, the Vice President and the President are not covered by the ISOO.

Q If there is a breach, who is reporting those --

MR SNOW: This is -- I don't know.

Q Does anybody know?

Q I mean, a separate White House security --

MR SNOW: This is something that the ISOO is responsible for overseeing. I'll try to get you the procedures on it.

Q But you get the question about oversight? If you say, yes, we're handling intelligence properly, but there's nobody that says, here's a breach, because there's nobody overseeing --**

MR SNOW: But the ISOO is overseeing -- what I'm being --

Q Not the President and the Vice President's office.

MR. SNOW: Well, that's -- yes, correct.

Q So, nobody's watching, basically.

MR SNOW: No, that's not what it's saying. That's not at all what it's saying.

Q Is this a White House security office who oversees --

MR SNOW: Again, you're trying to get in procedural stuff. I can't help you on it.

As clear as an unmuddied lake, yes.

Luckily, The Colbert Report explains the The New Fourth Branch of Government.

Another breakdown of the recent Msyterious V.P. keeps it short and to the point.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Cheney Rules via Double Secret Probation

THe VP has made plain his office is above the laws of the Executive branch of government, the Lesiglsative branch, and that no voter, no elected official, no federal agency has any oversight of his daily duties. You can't know how many people he employs at his Federal Fiefdom, and that even keeping a record of who he meets with via his duties is too important to share and again, is not a part of an open government, subject to national security laws. To question such philosophy, his backers say, is a sign that you and all the public and congress is a sign of delusion.

From matters of national security to federal laws and more, the VP says he is subject to none of the checks and balances of American government. His goal now is to eliminate the federal office who maintains records on the business of government. His claim is that there exists no way to apply the checks and balances of the Constitution to his office.

Many have been writing on this claim:

The vice president is saying he doesn't have to follow the orders of the president," said Garrett Epps, a law professor at the University of Oregon. "That's a very interesting proposition."

Epps said the lines haven't been drawn that clearly: "The vice president spans, in some ways, the branches of government."

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino brushed off questions about what branch of the government the vice president resides in, saying she doesn't know enough about the issue.

Susan Low Bloch, a constitutional professor at Georgetown University Law Center, called Cheney's position a "novel claim."

She said that while most people think of vice presidents as executive officials, it's really "a bit of a hybrid" role.

As vice president, Cheney receives his paycheck from the U.S. Senate, which also pays the salaries of much of his staff. However, he also sits in the president's Cabinet meetings and has an office at the White House."

More here and here

Stealth is among Cheney's most effective tools. Man-size Mosler safes, used elsewhere in government for classified secrets, store the workaday business of the office of the vice president. Even talking points for reporters are sometimes stamped 'Treated As: Top Secret/SCI.' Experts in and out of government said Cheney's office appears to have invented that designation, which alludes to 'sensitive compartmented information,' the most closely guarded category of government secrets. By adding the words 'treated as,' they said, Cheney seeks to protect unclassified work as though its disclosure would cause 'exceptionally grave damage to national security.'

"Across the board, the vice president's office goes to unusual lengths to avoid transparency. Cheney declines to disclose the names or even the size of his staff, generally releases no public calendar and ordered the Secret Service to destroy his visitor logs. His general counsel has asserted that 'the vice presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor a part of the legislative branch,' and is therefore exempt from rules governing either. Cheney is refusing to observe an executive order on the handling of national security secrets, and he proposed to abolish a federal office that insisted on auditing his compliance.

"In the usual business of interagency consultation, proposals and information flow into the vice president's office from around the government, but high-ranking White House officials said in interviews that almost nothing flows out."

You Have to Be Growed to Read This Blog

I noticed a few other bloggers I read have made use of some Web assesment dealie, where they determine the rating a blog would get if it were to fall under the movie ratings system of the MPAA.

I was a little surprised to see what rating I got. This is not a blog fer schoolkids nor does it thump to life daily from the very heart of average America, I know that. Anyway, here's what this blog was rated, thought the 'reasons' offered seem pretty silly.

Online Dating

Why such a rating? It's based on the presence of the following words, which they do not like:
  • zombie (10x)
  • sex (6x)
  • meth (4x)
  • dead (3x)
  • torture (2x)
  • tit (1x)