Being outside the bubble makes the world a better place

I don’t think I can accurately convey the immense difference in mind set from working inside the political bubble to now functioning, for the most part, outside of it. The only remaining bond is the fact that I live in DC.

The recent “scandals” are a prime example.

While the economy continues to sputter, Wall Street criminals continue to feed off taxpayers and homeowners, and children struggle to get a meal and get an education, Congress and the media are obsessed with the IRS doing its job, trumped up hearings on a terrorist attack in Libya, and the government investigating the leak of “classified” information to the Associated Press.

Each of these stories has a touch of importance, but you wouldn’t be able to figure that out from the coverage or the political yappers on TV. Each story deserves its own post and a careful examination of the facts.

As for my experience, thank god I’m no longer working on the hill getting caught up in this. It reminds of the experience my sister had while at home with her oldest child. She watched a great deal of TV, it was a companion.  Suddenly the world was a very dangerous and dark place. The news kept telling her about all the murders, kidnappings, and crime in the world. She didn’t want Emily to leave the house, let alone play with her friends outside. Then, as her other children were born and got older, and TV time diminished, the world grew brighter. Instead of listening to the observations of others, and away from the stories told to garner ratings, she was actually living in the world again. And guess what, that world was much safer than what the screen inside was trying to sell her.

Leaving politics is very much the same. All of the arguments now make no sense to me. All the time and energy spent creating fake outrage is that more regrettable. There are still big issues at play, still important differences to discuss and debate. But trust me, almost none of that is taking place. Just ginned up anger to fuel donations and media coverage.

It makes you wonder how much we could be accomplishing instead.

Friday Jam – relevant in multiple ways edition

Not only do I have tickets to see Living Colour in concert tonight, their song “Wall” is extremely relevant to our political, cultural, ethnic, and spiritual divisions. I’ve listed the lyrics below.

We hate each other ’cause of race and religion
We hate each other ’cause of class and position
We want to know why is love so hard to come by
Give me a reason why you love so hard to try

The walls between us all must fall
The walls between us all must fall

We hate each other ’cause we dance to different music
We hate each other ’cause we think we know it all
We hate each other ’cause that’s what our parents taught us
We hate each other for no reason at all

The wall between us all must fall
The wall between us all must fall

We teach our young men how to kill and name and torture
We teach our young men how to make their mothers cry
We want to know why is love so hard to come by?
Give me the answer, why is love so hard to try?

The wall between us all must fall
The wall between us all must fall

This is how our world breaks down…
The wall between us all must fall
This is how our world breaks down…
The wall between us all must fall

As long as the crime is big enough, you don’t have to worry about doing time

Since the financial collapse of 2008 a Jean Rostand quote keeps coming to mind (the quote was also used in the song “Captive Honour” by Megadeth, which is where I first heard it):

“Kill one man, and you are a murderer. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill them all, and you are a god.”

In terms of what Wall Street has been doing, it might now be re-worded as:

“Rob one man, and your a criminal. Rob millions of people, you’re a success. Rob them all, and you’re a big bank.” (maybe robbing them all makes you Goldman Sachs)

Last year the federal government, 49 state attorneys general, and the banking and mortgage industry struck a $26 billion settlement on charges of mortgage and foreclosure fraud.  The banks who signed onto the deal are Bank of America, JPMOrgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc, and Ally Financial Inc. The agreement protected banks and lenders from criminal prosecution, meaning once again no one on Wall Street would spend a day in prison. If you smoke a joint in the vast majority of the country, you will do time if caught. Rob millions of people, including taxpayers through bailouts, you won’t even be indicted.

But this week it got worse. The minuscule checks sent to some victims, part of a measly $3.6 billion in restitution, bounced. Yep, you read that right, they bounced. From the New York Times:

Many struggling homeowners got exactly that this week when they lined up to take their cut of a $3.6 billion settlement with the nation’s largest banks — lenders accused of wrongful evictions and other abuses.

Ronnie Edward, whose home was sold in a foreclosure auction, waited three years for his $3,000 check. When it arrived on Tuesday, he raced to his local bank in Tennessee, only to learn that the funds “were not available.”

Mr. Edward, 38, was taken aback. “Is this for real?” he asked.

It is unclear how many of the 1.4 million homeowners who were mailed the first round of payments covered under the foreclosure settlement have had problems with their checks. But housing advocates from California to New York and even regulators say that in recent days frustrated homeowners have bombarded them with complaints and questions.

This is in addition to the many reports of banks not abiding by rules and consumer protections laid out in the settlement. The Los Angeles Times reported two weeks ago that:

Banks aren’t living up to pledges they made as part of a $26-billion settlement of government investigations into mortgage servicing and foreclosure abuses, according to an advocacy group’s survey of California housing counselors and lawyers.

The survey, the ninth in a series conducted by the California Reinvestment Coalition, also found that providers of mortgage customer service are violating consumer-protection provisions in the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, the package of foreclosure-prevention laws sponsored last year by state Atty. Gen.Kamala Harris.

To top it all off you have the incredible scene of Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts, nailing federal regulators, getting them to admit that they are hiding information from victims, and the public, that describes the criminal behavior of banks:

Only a few members of Congress are asking the right questions and seeking to make information public on what is going on. Members and their staff are hearing it from lobbyists, on a daily basis, that efforts to more strictly regulate or hold them accountable will devastate the financial markets, destroy thousands of jobs, and wreck the economy.

We have to change this paradigm and the best way is to free elected officials from ever having to raise a dime. That would be something.

Put down the VHS tape and stop remaking 1980’s films before someone else gets hurt

The big, bold minds in Hollywood are at again, announcing their intent to remake a beloved ’80’s movie because they are out of ideas and want the cash.

From Deadline.com:

Universal Pictures and Silver Pictures will remake Weird Science, the 1985 ultimate nerd wish fulfillment comedy that was written and directed by John Hughes. The film will be produced by Joel Silver, who made the original with Hughes at Universal.Michael Bacall will write the script. He scripted the sleeper Project X for Silver Pictures and wrote the script for 21 Jump Street, another 80’s-centric property that became a hit for Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill.

And let’s not forget the imminent release of the Carrie remake, after having its release pushed back, again:

Kimberly Peirce’s remake of Carrie, starring Chloë Grace Moretz as the bloody and bullied telekinetic teen, has been moved out of the (thematically relevant) prom season and into the (also thematically relevant) Halloween season. Wrapped last September, the film was originally slated for release on March 15, but the MGM/Screen Gems production has been pushed back seven months to Oct. 18 to better capitalize on the pre-holiday horror season. That gives it a week’s head-start on the other major horror release, the now-annual shaky-cam spookery of Paranormal Activity 5.

Sometimes an older film calls out for a remake. It contains a timeless core story that if updated and done well, produces a great movie experience. I’m thinking in this case of “3:10 to Yuma” (a remake of 1957 original), “The Departed” (a redo of the international 2002 hit “Internal Affairs”), and “The Fly”, David Cronenberg’s update to the 1958 version.

Recently, however, there has been a run on remaking movies from the 1980’s. There was the abomination that was the “Footloose” (the Kevin Bacon version is what corny looks like done well), “Hairspray” (the 2007 version makes John Water’s fans cry), “The Karate Kid” (a horrible waste of time designed to promote Will Smith’s son), “Red Dawn” (the original was bad but had a heart and some emerging stars), and “Total Recall” (Arnold’s version came out in 1990 but come on, it was an 80’s movie).  Oh, and I almost forgot, they are remaking “Robocop” for crying out loud.

Each of the remakes was a total flop with audiences and critics (or will be in the case of Robocop). Why?

Because the original movies, for the most part, captured the mood of the country. Yes, the stories are the same ones as have been told for a very long time, but they were bundled in a particular way and unfolded in a fashion that was the 1980’s. Paul Verhoven’s critique of American culture just drips off Robocop, for example.

There have been a ton of good films made in the last few years, it is a shame that some of these hacks are ruining it. On behalf of humanity and someone who loves 80’s movies, please put down the VHS tapes of Sixteen Candles, Streets of Fire, Project X, and walk away from the film room before anyone else gets hurt.