Politics Daily #8 – Thoughts on Paul Krugman’s “Death of a Fairy Tale”

I do not own the rights to this photo.  Some rights reserved by Vectorportal

In his latest New York Times column, Professor Paul Krugman points out that, despite the fact that fiscal-constraining, austerity-minded policies in Europe have yielded no positive results, governments in Europe will not change direction and spend more for fear of soaring borrowing costs.  Krugman dismisses this fear, citing Japan as an example.

Check out his article here

I think part of the reason why governments in Europe are unwilling to shift their economic mentality has to do with a cultural characteristic that our modern society share, that being our need to see immediate returns for our investments and efforts.

We live in a culture where most things are attributed with immediate responses.  Everything needs to be faster and faster; from text messaging, internet downloading, to boiling water, we expect things onto which we divulge money or energy or time to pay dividends right away.

A relevant example would be President Obama’s recovery act, commonly known as the stimulus.  Many people were expecting the stimulus to spur job growth and lower unemployment right away, as if the act was a magic pill that could turn the economy around like a switch, and critics were quick to label it as a failure when it wasn’t helping the economy at their (unrealistically) projected rate.  But, 2 years later, in 2011, we see a steady recovery as the stimulus money was being spent and businesses began hiring again.

So, in this tale of the ‘austerity fairy’ that Krugman speaks of, governments in Europe are perhaps fearing that they might not see immediate results should they start spending, and would have to start worrying about losing public support and their jobs.

Patience is hard to come by these days.  Obama asked Americans to be patient with him, now they are beginning to see results.  Will someone in the European political arena stand up and do the same?

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Politics Daily #7 – Two Years after Oil Spill, First BP Staff Charged

Kurt Mix, an engineer for BP, has been arrested and charged with obstruction of justice.  Read the HuffPost article with updates here.

It didn’t seem that long ago when the news was dominated by a live video feed of oil constantly leaking out at the bottom of the ocean, and that thousands of barrels of oil were leaking, every single day.  But, like all news stories, this one fell to the wayside after a while, with people promptly putting to the back of their minds the environmental devastation that has been done and the destruction of so many homes.

I think that people who were not affected by disasters like these often think that, after a while, something must have been done (such as lots of aids) and things are once again fine in the Gulf, as if miracle workers came and cleaned the place up like nothing ever happened.  Such is a recurring theme that I visit when devastating disasters occur, that the general public tend to forget about the catastrophe even as many are still fighting for their compensation and survival.

For an in-depth look at this matter, check out Rachel Maddow’s April 20th show, here.  She highlights that, not only has very little been done by the oil companies to improve the spill containment and disaster prevention, but, worse yet, nothing has been done by the United States Congress to keep events like these from happening again.

Politics Daily #6 – Governor Rick Scott Vetoes Funds For Rape Crisis Centers During Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Check out the Huffpost article here

You don’t need to know much about politics to find this ironic and funny.  And pathetic.

I agree with the article that this isn’t an extension by Rick Scott as the latest stint in the GOP’s ‘War on Women’.  I think this is just Rick Scott not being politically savvy.  Who does this kind of stuff, on Sexual Assault Awareness Month?

It’s not like Florida Council Against Sexual Violence demanded 1.5 billion dollars; the requested amount of $1.5 million dollars is chump change to an overall state budget.  And, as Ms. Dritt says, that amount stretches quite thin when spread across 67 counties.

Politics Daily #5 – Hilary Rosen’s (Not) Extremely Controversial Comment about Ann Romney

Here we have a typical case of a small little jab of a comment made on television complete and utterly blown out of proportion.  Both Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow aptly points out how the conservative media, heralded by Fox news, is portraying this comment as the latest attack by liberals in the ‘war’ on women.

Having seen the footage of Rosen’s comments, the most ‘controversial’ of which was her claim that Ann Romney has “never worked a day in her life,” its unbelievable that this comment could possibly destroy her reputation as a political pundit or media image and gather such animosity from conservatives.  It is even worse, though, that the commentators at Fox News have the audacity to take this comment and milk it for all its worth, some of whom pointing out the fact that raising five kids is “the most difficult job in the world” or something along those lines.  If they were serious in their effort in comparing raising children to joining the work force, then it makes even less sense.  Wage labor and raising kids are such different matters that they can’t be compared.

But the main point that Rosen was trying to make was that Ann Romney doesn’t understand the hardships that average Americans go through because of her wealth, and that Mrs. Romney is someone who is likely to have had plenty of help in raising her kids.

So, in light of this, Hilary Rosen has to take a beating from the conservative media for such an insignificant comment.

Movie Review: 殺破狼 / “SPL” (2005 HK film Starring Donnie Yen)

Known also as “Kill Zone” in some countries.

Director Wilson Yip, from 2005 to 2007, made 3 films in consecutive years, all starring Donnie Yen.  “SPL” in 2005, “Dragon Tiger Gate” in 2006, and “Flash Point” in 2007.

Dragon Tiger Gate was a dumb but acceptable action flick that was based on a comic book.  Flash Point was a much more violent action film that incorporated Mixed Martial Arts into its fight scenes.  While MMA is certainly popular, and Donnie Yen loves it, I’m not sure if cops will actually fight like… oh wait, they’re not cops, they’re human superheroes.

But I want to talk a bit about SPL.  The title is an abbreviation for a term that was explained at the beginning of the film but bares no significance.  Wilson Yip, who also subsequently directed the two “Ip Man” films in 08 and 10, shows a blatant disregard for subtlety while using sappy sentimentality to try to garner emotions from his audience.  The scripts for his film are laughingly predictable and his direction adds nothing to the material.  He is lucky to have collaborated with Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung, both of whom were at the helm to choreograph the fight sequences for his films.

Having said that, SPL is the best film when compared to Dragon Tiger Gate and Flash Point.  That is, with the exception of the last 10 minutes or so.  What SPL had that the other two films didn’t is a cast that can actually act, with the exception of Donnie Yen, of course.  Strangely enough, all of the ads of the film, or the dvd covers, all post the face of Yen and Hung, while Simon Yam, who plays the main and key character of the film, appears in a dimmed picture on the back.

Yam and his supporting team of three detectives steal the show, as they bring to the film a emotional force that Donnie Yen’s acting or Wilson Yip’s directing never could.  It goes to show how much good acting can do to make something out of a formulaic script.  I applaud Yam and the supporting cast.

Just when I was enjoying SPL, all the way through the final fight scene (which features a bag-throwing so hilarious I had to rewind and watch again), and just when I thought the film was over, something horrible happened…

I don’t want to ruin anything.  I would say that that entire sequence right after the final fight scene was so ridiculous that when it was over I stared at my TV in awe.  I could not believe that such a half-decent film fuelled by good acting through the first two-thirds could be complete and utterly ruined by this act.  For me, the film went from a commendable Hong Kong action picture to a piece of sappy trash because of that scene.

Wilson Yip is currently on a good roll, having directed the insanely-popular and ludicrously-historically-inaccurate Ip Man films.  Perhaps Donnie Yen is pretty much done with making intense action flicks.  But if he’s not, I hope he finds a different director that doesn’t waste his time or talents.

Movie Review: The Road We’ve Travelled (Obama Documentary)

“The Road We’ve Traveled” is a 17-minute documentary film directed by David Guggenheim, who also directed “An Inconvenient Truth”, and narrated by Tom Hanks.  It is a film produced for the Obama re-election campaign that outlines President Obama’s most prominent achievements.

It is a well-made film that does its job, the job being leading viewers to believe that the President deserves to be unequivocally given an A for his first term as President, and that he should be re-elected for a second term.

Given the circumstances around the 2008 election, particularly the opponents he was up against, I continue to believe that the country would have been in shambles, and more cynical than ever, had McCain/Palin been elected.  It never ceases to amaze me that Obama’s margin of victory over McCain wasn’t larger.

As for the achievements themselves, the top four that Guggenheim points out are: bailing out the auto industry when the majority was against it; Obamacare; killing Osama Bin Laden, and; The Recovery Act.  Excluding his less salient successes, these four points alone should provide him with plenty of material to convince voters on the campaign trail to re-elect him.

Sadly, Americans by in large don’t vote according to the records or what the official has actually achieved.  They voted according to what they believe the officials have done, gullible to rhetoric without ever bothering to fact check the validity of claims.

Thus, it is sad, cynical, but true, that the Obama re-election campaign isn’t going up against an opponent of a different ideology or policy, per se.  It is going up against the party of non-true, non-facts.  Of people making claims about the President that are flat out not true.

What’s even more sad is the sheer number of voters who actually believe these false statements and vote according to them.  Such as when Karl Rove quoted a line said by Bill Clinton completely out of context.

As for “The Road We’ve Traveled”, it is a well-made documentary for its intents and purposes.  And it’s available on youtube.  So why not give it a watch?

And… here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2POembdArVo