Sunday, March 26, 2017

Beauty and the Beast and Power Rangers

I see a decent number of movies in the theater. I prefer seeing shows on the big screen with crowds, and since I can afford the high prices, I go as often as I like.

This year, there has been an unusual number of movies released during the usually dead January through March period that I've wanted to see. I saw two more this week. Next week I'm looking forward to seeing Ghost in the Shell.

Carol and I saw Beauty and the Beast last weekend. It sticks pretty closely to the classic Disney animated film but adds more character background and interaction between Belle and the Beast, changes which I think improved the film. Emma Watson is an amazing human being and she's great in this. The costumes, sets, and CGI characters are excellent, without crossing over into that weird Tim Burton "Alice in Wonderland" aesthetic. And of course the music is excellent. If you like the original film or just like musicals, it's definitely worth seeing.

Oh, and the "gay" controversy wherein people with sticks up their butt were upset because Le Fou is gay was much ado. Yes, I thought it was pretty clear he was gay, but so little is made of it the people getting upset look stupid and silly. Grow up. It's the 21st century.

Yes, I went to see Power Rangers. Alone.

I liked the original Power Rangers show in the 90's and I thought this looked like fun. I was right. The main criticism of the film is that it's more Breakfast Club than Power Rangers, but I found the story of the kids to be interesting and well acted. The Blue Power Ranger, Billy, talks about being on the autism spectrum and I liked the realism of how he was portrayed. And any movie where the great Bill Hader voices a crazy robot is okay with me.

The story was pretty faithful to the conventions of the TV show and Elizabeth Banks is great as the villain, Rita Repulsa, chewing up every scene. This was heavily an origin story with more movies already planned to come if it does well. I hope it does. I'm looking forward to the next one.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

I just wanted him to hurt OTHER people, not me

This story is from the area where I grew up, an area the locals call Michiana; that is the central northern Indiana area near the Michigan border. South Bend is the biggest city. I was born in nearby Elkhart.
An Indiana woman who voted for President Donald Trump was stunned to discover that her husband, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, is set to be deported as soon as today.
Despite her spouse’s immigration status, Helen Beristain said she agreed with Trump’s hardline policies.

We don’t want to have cartels here, you don’t want to have drugs in your high schools, you don’t want killers next to you,” Helen told Indiana Public Media earlier this month. “You want to feel safe when you leave your house. I truly believe that. And, this is why I voted for Mr. Trump.”
But Helen didn’t think those policies would apply to her husband, who owns a popular restaurant in Granger, Indiana.

“[Trump] did say the good people would not be deported, the good people would be checked,” Helen said.

Here's the reality: Democrats don't want to deport hard-working undocumented immigrants who came to America to make a better life for themselves and their families. These people contribute billions of dollars to our economy every year and they pay taxes. As a bonus, because they are liable to get deported if caught, they are much less likely to commit crimes than American citizens. And finally, treating them like human beings and making room for them in America is the compassionate and moral thing to do.

Do you know who wants to deport Mexican immigrants, Helen? Donald J. Trump, the guy you voted for.

Here's more reality: Trump said over and over and over again that he wanted to deport all 12 million undocumented immigrants in America (aka Helen's husband). He was absolutely clear about it.

You voted for a guy who explicitly said he'd deport your husband. This makes you a dumbass.

I am so sick of these stories of people who liked Trump's message of treating people like crap, but don't like it when they turn out to be targets of Trump's ire. Trump voters who are unhappy because Trump is threatening their healthcare. Trump voters who wanted him to "drain the swamp" but are surprised because he's filled his cabinet with Goldman Sachs cronies. Trump voters who wanted him to enact a hard line against immigrants, but are shocked, shocked when he turns that on their family.

It's not like any of this was hidden during the election. Hillary made her positions on these deportations very clear (against them) and Trump made his very clear (for them). Plus, it was completely obvious from forever that Trump is a terrible, mean-spirited, asshole who cares for no one but himself. When you voted for him, you voted for everything nasty he's doing to others and for everything he's doing to you.

If you thought he would only go after others and that you and your family were safe, you're an idiot and I am done feeling sorry for you. Hope you enjoy visiting your husband in Mexico.

Suck it up, snowflake. Welcome to Trump's America. It's what you wanted.

Boy I'll bet he slept that night!


BUY THE BOOK: Trump Got To Sit In A Big Boy Truck Because Today Was A Special Day!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Now this is how you resist an illegitimate President

Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D | Los Angeles County) rocks. He issued this statement today.

March 23, 2017
Press Release

Washington – Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D | Los Angeles County) issued the following statement regarding the CNN report that Trump associates possibly colluded with Russia to affect the outcome of the 2016 election in the United States.
“The bombshell revelation that U.S. officials have information that suggests Trump associates may have colluded with the Russians means we must pause the entire Trump agenda. We may have an illegitimate President of the United States currently occupying the White House.”
“Other than allowing routine governmental functions, there must be a total and complete shutdown of any agenda item being pushed by the Trump Administration. Congress cannot continue regular order and must stop voting on any Trump-backed agenda item until the FBI completes its Trump-Russia collusion investigation.”
“Congress must immediately form an independent commission and appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the collusion allegations with impartiality and independence. Congress also needs to pass the Resolution of Inquiry, authored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and I, to compel the Trump Administration to publicly disclose information on its Russian ties to the American people. At this point in our nation's history, there is nothing more important than finding out whether or not high crimes were committed by associates of Donald Trump or possibly by Trump himself.”
We are uncovering more and more evidence that members of Trump's team, and maybe even Trump himself, may have worked with the Russians to subvert the American Presidential election. 

If this doesn't bother you, then how can you call yourself an American? Is getting an anti-abortion Supreme Court worth putting a traitor in charge of the country?

Thanks Congressman Lieu. Let's hope the rest of the Democrats follow your brave example.

I'm sure there are lots of them right behind the camera

In the Republican rush to take away healthcare from millions of Americans, the far right House Freedom Caucus met with Trump and Pence today at the White House. Here they are, working to literally take away maternity care benefits from American women.

Notice anything strange?

And I thought Trump had been inspired by Ivanka to have at least one woman at the table?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

He loves making those links great again

Do you remember how conservatives criticized President Obama every time he took a vacation or played golf, even though his predecessor, George W. Bush, took far more vacation days every comparable year of his Presidency?

(For the record, President Obama took a total of 29 vacations accounting for approximately 228 days. President Bush took a total of 88 vacations for a total of approximately 533 days.  Link)

During the last 8 years, Trump constantly tweeted out criticism of President Obama, frequently attacking him for playing golf.

Can you say hypocrisy?

That's 10 trips to the golf course in 8 weeks.

Here's Trump during the campaign, talking about Presidential vacations. I know it's painful, but watch it, it's short.

Look, it's not the least bit surprising that Trump, and all conservatives who criticized President Obama and not Bush or Trump, is a huge hypocrite. But that doesn't mean we should ignore the hypocrisy. It must be noted, criticized and remembered.

Here's our President, working for the American people.


Just remember . . .

when the President or Republicans in Congress say that Obamacare is "imploding", "failing" or "in a death spiral", or say that their version of "healthcare" will provide better care to everyone at a lower cost . . .


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Trumpcare or Ryancare (whatever) - here's the score

The Republican "Repeal and Replace" dance to destroy Obamacare is going about as well as you'd expect for legislation crafted by a bunch of incompetent, uncaring, numb-skulls. It also violates a dozen of President Moron's promises to his supporters. That aside, this one chart shows clearly why their ideas are terrible.

That's 14 million people losing their insurance next year and up to 24 million losing it within 10 years. And if you don't think that's a problem, then you're not even looking out for your own selfish best interests.

Because we're ALL better off if people aren't using the emergency room for their healthcare. We're ALL better off if our neighbors aren't going bankupt and losing their house because of medical expenses. We're ALL better off if we have a secure retirement with good healthcare. We're ALL better off when parents can make better health choices for their kids. We're ALL better off if everyone gets to see a doctor regularly. Financially, socially, morally, culturally -- making healthcare a right is better for EVERYONE.

And Republicans want the result above just so they can give already super-rich people more money than they need that they can't possibly spend in their lifetimes. Tax cuts are more important than American lives.

That's your Trumpcare, right there.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Atheist parents are better at raising children

This week in DUH Magazine.
Whether it’s to instill traditional family values or simply to get them into a good school, many parents raise their children to be religious in the belief that it is best for them.

But it turns out there’s just no need, with studies showing that children raised without religion do just fine – and in some areas, outperform their religious counterparts.

In a recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, sociologist Phil Zuckerman explains that far from bringing children up in a moral vacuum, atheism can give them better clarity about right and wrong – because beliefs are more likely to be rooted in empathy than fear of punishment in the hereafter.

He found that a secular upbringing provides children with firm moral foundations.
One of the (many) problems I have with religion is the idea that morality springs from faith. I'm pretty sure that most Christians in America believe they are morally superior to atheists. So let's say it together:

Believing in God does not make you a moral person.

Morality comes from empathizing with other people. It comes from walking a mile in their shoes, trying to understand them, and treating them the way you wish to be treated, all universal ideas that don't belong to any religion. Rote belief in scriptural pronouncements doesn't teach you how to be moral, which takes wisdom and understanding. And since many religious beliefs are antiquated, horrific and hateful, being religious makes you more susceptible to bad moral choices.
He quoted studies that found atheist teenagers were less worried about fitting in, more tolerant of others, less likely to exhibit racism, and more likely to support women’s equality and gay rights.

Zuckerman also pointed out that atheists commit fewer crimes as adults – making up less than 1 per cent of the US prison population, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons statistics.

Meanwhile, a study conducted by the University of Chicago found that children brought up in secular households showed more empathy and kindness than those raised in religious ones.
Damn straight.

SNL still (doesn't) suck

I'm a little late to the Halloween Party, but I recently encountered this skit from last fall's SNL episode guest starring Tom Hanks. Weirdly, I saw at least some of the episode when it aired, but I don't think I saw this sketch. It's already become a meme and I understand that you either love the sketch or hate it.

I love it. This is exactly the type of sketch that works for me.

And here's a link to its ancestor sketch from the Feb, 2016, Larry David episode. Also funny.

FBI Simulator

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Logan and Kong Skull Island

I saw Logan last week and loved it.The first R-rated X-Men movie, Logan tells a smaller story than previous installments, and therefore packs much more of an emotional punch. They get almost everything right here; Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart are great in their last performances of these characters and newcomer Dafne Keen is amazing. If you like seeing people getting stabbed through the head with razor sharp claws, this movie is definitely for you. But if you like affecting drama with interesting characters and a good story, plus some ultra-violence, it's also for you.

I saw Kong Skull yesterday. Kong is the second movie in the new "Monsterverse" reboot of the traditional Japanese monsters (Godzilla, Rhodan, Mothra, etc.) that began with 2014's Godzilla. Pretty much a classic example of the "popcorn movie", I really enjoyed Kong. The action takes place in 1973 at the end of the Vietnam war and it's a weird, but successful, mashup of Apocalypse Now and a giant monster movie. There are many tongue-in-cheek references to Vietnam movies as well as Jurassic Park and other monster movies. Plus, it stars Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson and John C. Reilly, all of whom seem to be having a great time. This is a movie that knows it's about a giant ape smashing things up and fully embraces it. I thought it was a lot of fun.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

BvS revisited

A couple of weeks ago we got a free weekend of HBO. I DVR'd Batman v. Superman to see it again and determine if it sucks as bad as I remember.

Oh, yes it does.

Read my earlier review by clicking above. Here's something I didn't cover then.

Jessie Eisenberg, as Lex Luthor, is a trainwreck. He's mumbly, incoherent, babbling and not very geniusy at all. There's a big moment where Luthor introduces Bruce Wayne to Clark Kent and he goes on like it's a huge deal. Of course it is to fans of Batman and Superman, but why would it be a big deal within the movie? Clark Kent is just a reporter. He's not particularly famous or anything. So why would Lex act like it's important? Clumsy effort.

The best thing in the film by far is still Wonder Woman.

Other than that. Ugh.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

It can happen here

What kind of monsters think up policies like this??
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly confirmed Monday that his agency plans to separate Central American children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, to serve as a deterrent for future border-crossers.
“We have tremendous experience in dealing with unaccompanied minors,” Kelly said, during an interview with The Situation Room’s Wolf Blitzer. “We turn them over to HHS [Department of Health and Human Services], and they do a very, very good job of either putting them in kind of foster care or linking them up with parents or family members in the United States.”
Kelly said that his agency is considering separating families “in order to deter more movement along this terribly dangerous network… They will be well cared for as we deal with their parents.” Link
And remember, Republicans are all good Christians and believe in family values.

This is horrific and inhuman. Monsters is too kind a word. 

Is this the America you believe in?

Thursday, March 02, 2017

I will not forgive or forget

Today's assignment is to read a great article which addresses the flood of recent, "So what do regretful Trump voters think about how he's doing" stories in the media.

Why I'll Never Sympathize with Regretful Trump Voters

Here's a taste.
In Kansas, you could have declined to re-elect Sam Brownback, who'd already turned your state into a dismal Randian basket case. In Wisconsin, you had three chances to turn out Scott Walker, and several chances to get the state legislature out of his clammy hands. And, now that the teeth of this new administration are becoming plain to see, it's a good time to remind all of you that you didn't have to hand the entire federal government over to Republican vandalism, and the presidency over to an abject loon on whom Russia may well hold the paper.
You all had the same choices we all had. You saddled the rest of us with misrule and disaster. Own it. I empathize, but I will not sympathize.
It's a good article. Go read it.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

I'm (kinda) on Instagram!

I've branched out to belatedly posting on Instagram. I only have one picture up so far.

If you'd like to follow me, I am under the name "Taste-of-Ipecac".

The State of the Union stinks

I didn't watch the Pr*sident's speech before Congress last night because I'm not a masochist. Of course, I care too much about what's going on in the world, so I saw plenty of clips, commentary and reactions today. Let me say this.

I don't care that Trump didn't spew crumbs out of his mouth when he talked or that he managed to string together one or two coherent sentences or that he finally acknowledged some of the hate crimes against immigrants and Jews that he inspires.

One non-drooling speech does NOT make him Presidential. Sheesh.

I'm going to leave alone all the (literal) lies he vomited out. Or the fact that he demonized hard-working immigrants yet again. Or that he talked about clean air and water a couple of weeks after he allowed coal companies to start dumping their industrial waste into streams.

I want to talk about the wife of slain Navy SEAL, William “Ryan” Owens. Owens was killed a few weeks ago during a raid in Yemen, launched six days into the Trump Presidency. Let's review the timeline.

The raid on Yemen was conceived during the Obama Administration to kill a particular Al Qaeda leader and to grab a bunch of al Qaeda hard drives. President Obama did not authorize the raid.

Six days into his Presidency, Trump was briefed and authorized the raid while he was eating dinner.

As the raid started, the soldiers found out very early that they were compromised; al Qaeda knew they were coming. They continued anyway. The result of the raid was that a $70 million dollar American helicopter was destroyed, several American soldiers wounded, Chief Owens was killed, and up to 30 civilians on the ground were killed, including women and children.

Over the past few weeks and again last night, the White House and Trump claimed that the raid was a major success and generated large amounts of vital intelligence. Spokesman Sean Spicer said we grabbed an "unbelievable" amount of intelligence.

During Trump's speech last night, Chief Owen's widow, Carryn, now a Gold Star wife, was seated in the gallery next to Ivanka. Trump said this:
“We are blessed to be joined tonight by Carryn Owens, the widow of U.S. Navy Special Operator, Senior Chief William ‘Ryan’ Owens. ... Ryan died as he lived, a warrior and a hero, battling against terrorism and securing our nation.”
In tears, Carryn received a prolonged standing ovation, a fact Trump alluded to a moment later when he tactlessly and moronically said, "And Ryan is looking down right now. You know that. And he’s very happy, because I think he just broke a record.” (Well then it's all right! He's dead, but he's happy that he broke the record for longest ovation by Congress. Winning!)

So Trump brought as a guest this bereaved, suffering wife and used her as a political prop. Why do I say that? It's certainly okay for the President to laud the sacrifice of an American soldier and his family in this way, right? Of course. But let's revisit the timeline.

This raid was the first military action authorized by Pr*sident Trump. He could have monitored the entire operation from the situation room live, while it happened. Instead, having authorized the raid over dinner, while American troops were fighting for their lives and civilians being killed, Trump was up in the White House residence sending out Tweets about an upcoming TV appearance.

After the botched raid resulted in several casualties, did they get the al Qaeda leader who was the target of the raid? Nope. He escaped. Did they at least get the intelligence they were seeking? Nope. Several Administration sources have said that the raid yielded no significant intelligence.

The White House has continually lied about this raid since the day it happened.

When confronted with these facts last week on FOX News, how did Trump react? Here's what he said.
"This was a mission that was started before I got here. This was something that was, you know, just they wanted to do. They came to see me. They explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected," he said. "My generals are the most respected that we've had in many decades I believe. And they lost Ryan."
The President of the United States, when faced with the disaster of a military operation HE authorized, in which an American soldier DIED, said that it was Obama's fault, the generals' fault, and that HE, the Commander in Chief, was not responsible. And then he had the utter nerve to bring before Congress the widow of the man killed in the half-cocked raid HE authorized and used her grief for his own political ambition in a stunning display of cynical hypocrisy.

The President of the United States is a coward. And a monster.

Shame on him. Shame on his team. Shame on the Republicans cheering him on. Shame on you if you voted for him.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

A few weeks ago, Carol, Rachel (plus boyfriend) and I visited the new African American Museum on the Mall with some out of town friends. As usual with a new DC museum, you have to acquire timed tickets well in advance. That's especially true for a long-awaited museum with a unique focus, such as African American history. (On March 1st, the tickets will become available online for June 2017.)

The building itself is incredible, with its distinctive, see-through, lattice structure. There are three underground levels and three above the main floor. The underground floors are chronological; you take an elevator to the bottom floor and work your way up through history. The three floors above the main floor have exhibits on sports, music, theater, movies, politics, and other areas of African American achievement.

The museum is similar to the Holocaust Museum in that much of the history it tells is terrible and filled with inhumane acts. But it also tells the story of a strong, resilient, people who have maintained their humanity despite much horror. Visiting the museum is a powerful experience.

In fact, they thoughtfully include a waterfall room at the end of the chronological tour to give people a chance to settle themselves emotionally. Good call on their part.

Some pictures below.

The ramps that connect the three underground levels

The waterfall room

A view of the Mall.

Sad News - Bill Paxton

Bill Paxton, who died today from complications during surgery, is one of only two people in film killed by an Alien, a Predator and a Terminator. 

Rest in Peace, Bill.

Friday, February 24, 2017

True Colors

One of the very first things the Trump Administration did when they came into power was to go after Muslims. Due to the courts and a massive public outcry, they've failed so far in enacting their ban.

This week, Trump and his goons went after another vulnerable group, transgender students, by repealing Obama Administration guidelines that allow transgender students to use the bathroom based on their gender identity. The White House is trying to frame it as a state issue, but civil rights are universal and shouldn't be subject to the state in which you live.

Transgender students have a high rate of suicide and are frequently the target of bullying and physical assault. They deserve to attend school in peace and acceptance, under the equal protection of the law. This policy, likely pushed by Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is hateful and wrong. Trump, despite promising to protect LGBT people during the campaign, broke that promise. This is not a surprise.

With all the problems we have in America today, one of the first things the Trump Administration did, reflecting their top priorities, was to strip the protection of the government from oppressed, innocent, vulnerable Americans.

Remember that.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Should Americans take what Trump says at face value?

“They should not, because the president and most of his senior advisers are serial liars. It’s that simple,” said Eliot Cohen, a senior State Department official under [George W.] Bush and a member of his National Security Council. “I cannot believe a word that comes out of the president’s mouth, the spokesman’s mouth, the vice president’s mouth, because, frankly, he’s morally comprised now, too.” 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Thanks, on behalf of all women, I'm sure

Yesterday, Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka, tweeted the following:

That's Ivanka, sitting at the President's desk in the Oval Office with Justin Trudeau, the PM of Canada, and her moron father, Trump, the President of the United States. Some people have expressed outrage that Ivanka is sitting in that particular chair, but that's not a problem. Lots of people have had their picture taken seated at that desk.

I have other, bigger, problems with the photo and Tweet.

1. It's 2017. The idea that it's "important that women have a seat at the table" is patronizing and antiquated. Was this picture taken in the 1960s? Sheesh. Of course women should have a place at the table, and in civilized parts of the world, they already do, but only conservatives act like they just thought of it. The Democrats just ran a woman for President of the United States. You may have heard of her?

2. Ivanka is seated while the two men loom over her, diminishing her.

3. Ivanka is the only one in the picture WITHOUT power. She has no job in the government and is only there because her father is President. So saying that she has a seat at the table isn't accurate.

4. Are we really supposed to believe that she had a "great" conversation with her father, the handsy misogynist, about women? Right.

5. Trump is less a "world leader" than a "world destroyer" through his arrogant, ignorant stupidity. Although he is leading us over a cliff, so maybe that one's a nitpick.

6. That's not even a table, it's a damn desk. Geez.

Hey, here's a picture of Trump signing the Executive Order reinstating the Global Gag Rule that cuts off funds for any health organization that discusses abortion as a health option for women in developing countries.

Not shown:  Any Women at the Table
I don't blame Trudeau for any of this; he's a true progressive and not behind the Tweet. And I mostly don't mind the picture, just the ridiculous idea expressed by Ivanka in the Tweet. I mean, like everything her father does, she very efficiently packs a whole lot of wrong in a very small package.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Lego Batman Movie

Carol and I saw The Lego Batman Movie yesterday. While not as good as The Lego Movie, the best animated movie of the past ten years, I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to seeing it again.

I'm not going to summarize the plot because there are some surprises that I don't want to spoil. Yes, there are surprises.

I will say that the movie starts out rather chaotically with an action sequence so busy that it's a little hard to follow what's happening. But once the movie settles down, it's funny, touching and it works. I especially loved Michael Cera's Robin.

I'm looking forward to owning this on Blu-Ray because there is an unbelievable amount of background action going on; this movie probably has the most Easter Eggs of any movie ever produced.

If you're a fan of Batman, you should really love it. And if you're not, you should still find it fun.

The man who thought he was elected king

If you want to get a feel for how things are going a little more than three weeks into the Trump Administration, read this article on Politico now. If you read one article this week, make it this one.

Here's a small taste of what you have in store.
Most of those interviewed for this story requested anonymity to describe the inner workings of a White House where they say the tension has been intensified by the president’s propensity for knee-jerk micromanaging when faced with disappointment, and jockeying among aides to avoid blame or claim credit when possible.
The interviews paint a picture of a powder-keg of a workplace where job duties are unclear, morale among some is low, factionalism is rampant and exhaustion is running high. Two visitors to the White House last week said they were struck by how tired the staff looks.

Gee, who would have thought that electing a narcissistic idiot who obviously knows nothing about how government works would cause problems?

In the face of such ignorance, arrogance and stupidity, we all need a laugh.