Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Obama...the smallest government spender

Don't know how I missed this one, but this handy little graph and article is a good way to fight back at the Thanksgiving table when your relatives start talking about how economically irresponsible Obama is and how he is ruining the country by spending more than any other president in the history of the United States. 

Check it out here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The 60 Minutes Non-Retraction

I also posted this blog over at my IR blog, which exclusively focuses on international relations and related topics.
After 60 Minutes announced they would apologize for their Benghazi story on Sunday, I eagerly anticipated a detailed, informative apology at the start of the show. Unfortunately, my expectations weren't realistic. What I got, after sitting through 56 of 60 minutes, was Lara Logan telling me she made a mistake. It was all over in less than two minutes. Logan had previously said the same thing on the CBS Evening News and CBS This Morning. Her 60 Minutes apology contained no new information for people who have been following the story.
For example, one would think it would be important to point out that Dylan Davies' book is published by Threshold, "a conservative imprint of Simon and Schuster," a subsidiary of, you guessed it, CBS News. And that said book just hit the shelves around the time the 60 Minutes report aired. The Huffington Post gives more detail regarding this point:
Did "60 Minutes" find Davies on its own, or did his book add an irresistible synergistic flavor to the show's Benghazi report? Did it face any internal pressure to help push for Davies' story to get on air?
Speaking on MSNBC last week, New York Times correspondent Bill Carter speculated that "60 Minutes" leapt to embrace the book because it needed a "new angle" for its Benghazi story.
I just don't think Logan's two-minute presentation was enough. It clearly didn't address the connection between 60 Minutes and the Davies' book, nor did it go into detail about how their key witness for their year-long Benghazi investigation was totally outed as a complete liar. This is a guy that started asking Fox News for money when they attempted to interview him. Fox News turned him down after that. On top of all this, it's Benghazi, a now highly politicized scandal, which the Republicans have pounced on as an integral part of their strategy to discredit Hillary Clinton as she moves toward the inevitable--her decision to run for president in 2016.
Benghazi is still a tragedy, even if 60 Minutes had done a full, in-depth retraction. However, I don't want the journalists I occasionally rely on to give me transparent, reliable reporting, to become what they are reporting on.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review: Olympus Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

Never underestimate Hollywood's ability to get a van load of good to great actors to sign on to action movies with the most ridiculous notions. This movie is just the newest example of this phenomenon, in case you forgot that top-tier actors (Morgan Freeman, for one) are not above making turds like Olympus Has Fallen.

The proper start of the movie is when an AC-130 gunship flies over DC, fends off multiple F-22s (multiple F-22s, I said) and circles around the capital's landmarks, indiscriminately laying down bullets the size of Red Bull cans. Meanwhile, the Secret Service just let a North Korean terrorist into the White House with the belief that he was a native South Korean and a member of a diplomat's security detail. The Secret Service and 60 Minutes must have the same background check team.

In addition to the terrorist inside the White House already, 30-50 North Korean terrorists have sidled up to the perimeter of the White House. On cue, one of them blows himself up and the fence leading onto the White House lawn. The terrorists swoop in and within fifteen minutes the president is hostage and, as far as I could tell, every Secret Service agent is dead, except for Gerard Butler, who plays a former agent turned US Treasury security, turned unofficial Secret Service agent when he starts running up on North Korean terrorists and putting bullets in the back of their heads.

Okay, there is no point in explaining the plot minutiae of such a movie because you already know lots of people are going to die and the film will end with an American triumph. Spoiler alert: it does. But what are all these good actors doing to waste an hour or two of your lives? Well, Morgan Freeman becomes acting president while the prez, played by Aaron Eckhart is far below the White House in a bunker. Angela Bassett, Secret Service Director, is sitting around a table with Freeman and Robert Forster, who plays a four-star general. Melissa Leo, a recent Oscar nominee for The Fighter, is in the bunker with the prez. In one particular scene, which encapsulates the over-the-top cheesiness that just oozes from action flicks like this one, Leo is dragged down a hallway to be executed, presumably, and she starts screaming the Pledge of Allegiance, channeling her inner Oscar nominee and failing, miserably.

A little less improbable than a gang of terrorists armed with semi-autos taking over the White House in 15 minutes, is that Gerard Butler single-handedly kills the entire North Korean crew, saves the president's son midway through, falls through two floors of the White House, shrugs it off, and saves the president. Also, a little less probable than a gang of terrorists armed with semi-autos taking over the White House in 15 minutes, is that there is a computer system in the White House bunker that enables the administrator (the president) to blow up every nuclear missile under US command with the click of a button. Luckily, Butler arrives at the computer terminal with 30 seconds before the US becomes a giant mass of radioactive goo. He gets the deactivation code from Freeman and supporting conference table cast and enters it with three seconds to spare.

If you are truly invested in Olympus Has Fallen at this point, you might let out a sigh of relief. If you see right through it, you are probably double-checking the length of the movie to see just how many minutes of your life you cannot get back.

Monday, November 11, 2013