Search This Blog

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Navy Yard Massacre

"Multiple deaths similar to the Aurora movie house massacre are the price we pay as a society to underwrite the Second Amendment “rights” for “lawful gun owners.”" This is, sadly, the fourth and likely not the last time that I will use the above statement to begin a posting. I first used it following the Aurora CO moviehouse shooting and then following the Newtown CT school shooting and at least one other lesser but equally sad shooting incident. The only differences this time around are minor. The site of the shooting was a federal installation in Washington DC. Thus Americans in "flyover" country see it as less relevant. And it occurred only a week after Colorado voters had recalled two state senators who had supported enhanced background checks following the Colorado shooting. So, politicians who see this continued evidence that our lax laws are too lax will be gun-shy (pun intended) to support legislative fixes to our problems. Actually more states passed more helpful control legislation since Aurora and Newtown than I had expected. And not all of it has been subsequently repealed. So maybe there's hope. Maybe the subsequent debate this time around will help strengthen the case for those who wish to reduce, if not eliminate, future similar incidents. But, in general, I return in my mind to the conclusion of Bridge Over the River Kwai when Major Clipton sums up what he observes of the course of events: "MADNESS"!

Monday, July 15, 2013

George Zimmerman's elimination of Trayvon Martin

A comment on the George Zimmerman "innocent" verdict.I get the "reasonable doubt" on whether or not George might have thought he was acting in self defense. But I don't see the total exoneration aspect. Perhaps the issue of the flawed "stand your ground" law in FL and Zimmerman's use/abuse? of it should not have resulted in maximum penalties for George. But his wanton ignoring of directions from police to stand down or not pursue Martin should at least have resulted in a manslaughter conviction. Whether the final struggle was "self-defense" would have been avoided had he done as he was told. That being said, I also don't get those who are now comtemplating a federal civil rights charge against George. How can federal prosecution be used to trump protections against double jeopardy?

Monday, April 15, 2013

The truly sad aspect of the Boston Marathon bombing today is that it won't change anything. The perps will likely be caught and either killed or put away for a long time. If they did it for some as yet unstated cause, that cause will continue to exist beyond them. "Preventative" measures (false faux word)will be instituted. Politicians will wax eloquent about what caused or enabled this. But no hearts will change. No laws will pass. Six months or a year from now the next "terrorist" incident will occur, and we'll be back to square one.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

As a mental break from househunting in Tulsa, I think I’ll blog about a recent TV trend. It involves action/detective-type shows, including the family of CSI shows and the Law and Order spinoffs. One of the staple features of these shows nowadays is the rapid-fire dialogue where various detectives or coworkers are reeling off plot details to each other as if they were engaged in “normal” conversation. Often the premise is that the various team members have been sent to do specific research into what happened at the crime scene or by the perpetrator. They get back together to brief the entire group and fire off detail after detail so that everyone is up to speed. The result (in the mind of the writers)is that the audience also has sufficient information to follow the progress of who gets chased or arrested, etc. In my recollection, this feature of these series may have begun with The West Wing, when the president’s staff members spent much of the time walking the halls of the White House bringing each other up to date on plot details. My reason for mentioning all this is that I believe most of the shows and most writers do a poor job at making their dialogue sound real, normal, natural. It sounds like what it is, that they are simply using this method of conveying information to the consuming audience. For example, in NCIS they use Abby to lay out forensic details, McGee to explain the role of computer research, and the agency director to lay out the political intrigue involved. It’s probably one reason why I like the current TV series, Burn Notice. Here the hero does a narrative as the hero/announcer. No pretense about working the transfer of info. Into the dialogue.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Political challenges to the status quo

Two issues I have in previous semesters used as examples of policies that deserved scrutiny are now being scrutinized. One apparently won't be changed, the other may be with a peculiar twist. First, I have long advocated for my classes' consideration that the Senate's 60 vote threshhold on stifling debate should be reviewed. It has resulted for a couple of generations in a requirement that the party controlling the Senate had to have a supermajority of 60+% in order to pass legislation. This has inappropriately empowered minority parties to oppose legislation much more easily than their minority numbers warranted. I have advocated reducing the 60 vote mark down to 55. In recent discussions some have even suggested taking it down to a mere majority 51. Such a change is NOT going to occur, apparently. The Senate's opportunity to change their rules (not a constitutionally protected procedure, but simply a Senate operating rule) is at the beginning of a new session of Congress following an election. The Senate, under the control of Democrats and Harry Reid, has opted not to change the 60 vote level. They apparently are making some minor changes to Senate procedures relative to filibusters, but not the vote level for halting one. Until he explains otherwise, one has to assume Reid was thinking ahead to the possibility of the shoe being on the other foot and the Dems preferring to have access to blocking bills with 40+ of their own votes. Whatever the rationalization, it merely continues Congressional gridlock for at least two more years. The second change involves states decisions to use or not use the "Unit Rule" on presidential elections. States are not required to give all their Electoral College votes to the plurality winner of the presidential elections. But 48 of them do so. There are other ways to more fairly make a state's Electoral vote reflect the balance of the political will of all competitors. That is, instead of receiving all the Electoral votes for a 51% to 49% vote result, the state could apportion its Electoral votes to more closely reflect the close election vote. Two states (Nebraska and Maine) assign their Electoral votes by Congressional district rather than statewide. They give the two Senate votes to the overall statewide winner, but allow a Congressional district to cast a vote for the winner of that district regardless of the statewide result. Such an approach, if all states adopted it, would make the Electoral College vote mirror the popular vote more closely. It well might have produced a different result in the 2000 election when Gore polled more votes than Bush. However, large states don't seem interested in giving up their "power" that flows from the current method of giving all their votes to the winner. Nevertheless, in recent days some of the historic "blue" states that have narrowed in recent elections are now contemplating such a change. They do so because the Republicans currently control those state legislaures while the Democrats have managed narrow victories in the presidential popular vote. So, Wisconsin and Michigan and perhaps some other "rust belt" states are talking about switching to proportional voting. But as long as Texas, California and New York stay with "winner take all" there likely will not be a groundswell of support for a change. It'll be fun to watch, though.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Les Miserables - Part Deux

I drafted this earlier but it apparently disappeared before I actually posted it. So, here goes again: I really enjoyed the movie! It surpassed even my expectations from the preview trailers I'd seen in the movie house and far surpassed the brief clips on TV. I had been anxious due to a couple of lukewarm reviews I'd read. My conclusion is that the reviewers were all wet. They must be "purists" as to how musicals are to be done for the "big screen". Their faults with the movie lay in the way the director had done the singing. Instead of laying down a soundtrack in the studio and having the actors lip sync for the movie, the singing was done live on screen. It was more like a video recording of a live stage play. But that which the critics panned, I preferred. I thought the singing was most appropriate. I never expected Russell Crowe to produce operatic quality singing. He was believable, however, and appropriate. The "big chorus" numbers were not overdone. Some critics also objected to the "nosehair" closeups of some of the singers. But they were not belabored or overdone, either. I would suggest to those unfamiliar with the story line that it would be beneficial either to read the book (or "Cliff's Notes") or see a stage production in order to follow what happens better. All in all, though, I'm very glad I got to see this with my two daughters, who cried some, as they always do @ Les Miz.