Archive for August, 2012

Review: Morning Glory

Ford: “Look young lady. I have principles you know. Those principles are very important to me. What are you trying to do? Do away with my principles? I will never give those up. Principles is what I live for. I interviewed lots of people with principles but none had mine.”
Mc Adams: “tee hee”

I can safely say that this is one of the worst movies I have seen for a long time. It was boring, unintelligent, drawn out, predictable and the actors had next to zero chemistry between them.

Rachel McAdams is super cute, of course, but painfully perky and other than being super cute and perky, she doesn’t seem to have much else to offer. The movie itself just doesn’t get going either and remains flat throughout. I actually had to finish this in two sittings because it was soooo boring.

There are many lows in this movie but the worst part is the total embarrassment Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton have become. I mean these are two of Hollywood’s finest in terms of acting skill and knowing their craft; yet their roles have been reduced to that of bickering, nagging harpies. Especially Harrison Ford, who’s always been this sharp, classy and together man, appeared frail, tired, and his hands were trembling. He looked like he really didn’t want to do this and as a result delivered an unbelievable performance. To see this legendary actor be reduced to playing a one dimensional, tired and full of stereotypes sidekick to Rachel McAdams and Patrick Wilson, because they are younger and he is older, was very sad. It was a role unworthy of Harrison Ford.

Ford’s character is a walking cliche. He plays the typical untouchable, revered star (veteran news anchor) whose track record of issues with historic significance covered puts every newscaster and journalist at CNN to shame. He is a man with a stern look and principles. Principles he likes to shove into everyone’s face. He has a disdain for the materialism and consumerism of our times and wants no part in it. In fact, he looks down on everyone, including the network that hired him and stuffed his pocket with lots of money, as having sold out the art of journalism for sponsorship and ratings.Of course he doesnt have a problem lowering those sacred standards and work for daytime tv himself. A fact conveniently glossed over by the writers.

I’m so perky. If you poke me with a needle I will burst

I don’t know what’s happened to Harrison Ford, if it is the script or him or what, but he did a lousy job. He had already done a pretty bad job doing the last installment of Indiana Jones too and i thought he would retire from playing roles he just seems too tired for.

But the problem with this movie is not just Ford’s fizzled out, flat performance, it is the story itself. Ford plays a man who’s covered significant historic events and who is supposed to be a legend in his field and passionate about his work. This passion is supposed to create tension and be a real challenge for Rachel McAdams’ character who not only has a lot to learn from this man she so admires but who, as a producer, also has to worry about ratings and money – the two things Ford hates.

Yet, instead of working from that angle and thoughtfully laying out how Ford and Adams work that out, all we get is a fizzled out, flat performance portraying a silly, old man reminiscing about the past and holding on to that “sixteen-millimeter shrine” of his glory days.

he is so boring, paint watches HIM dry.

Ford was not believable as a deep intellectual who lost his bearings (which is what they like us to think). He was dispassionate and boring and just seemed grumpy and tired. As an actor, his heart wasn’t in this performance and that shone through. At some point he was so excited playing this role I thought he would break down and yawn.

And let’s not even talk about the truly monotonous manner with which he delivers the news. He is simply not able to to pull off being or having been a news anchor with that slow stumble. It just sounded too rehearsed and fake and somehow the producers thought we wouldn’t catch it since it is Harrison Ford and who’d criticize Ford.

The movie went downhill from the moment Ford entered and he and Diane Keaton barked at each other like grumpy old people that have fallen victim to juvenile behavior –  and extended into comatose lengths from there on.

The love story between McAdams and Patrick Wilson was laughable and totally unbelievable. Patrick Wilson appears to just have been a stand-in, a nameless, faceless hunk to fit the plot element as the handsome dream-man she clearly deserves and who, as a result, doesn’t need to be given much of a character other than looking good and being there to move the story along. The specifics of how and why they fall in love are not explored; they have a couple of exchanges and then he becomes the love of her life.

Blah Blah Blah Blah…blah blah blah blah…love of my life, we look so good…blah blah blah

Consequently when she says “you are the first person I thought about wanting to share this with” , it looks ridiculous and insincere, because how could she love him, she hasn’t exchanged more than three sentences with him. After she says that, there is a cut (i.e. we dont get ot see his reaction and what he says) and the next frame opens right in the middle of a conversation between them after she “told him”, where he asks her about her job.

So to recap, this is how the scene went down (not in so many words):

She: “I love you, you are my soul mate. You are the first person I had to tell about this
He: “Uh-huh. That’s great. So, tell me about your JOB and promotion“.

Suffice it so say, the love story was totally superfluous becasue it just didn’t add anything to the movie other than being an all too familiar plot device. The producers probably figured that in order for the main character to be successful in her career and life,  it is imperative that the obligatory love interest be there too  – else the formula is incomplete.

One of the issues with this movie was that it wasn’t clear what this was trying to be. A love story? No, because that wasnt worked out. Was it supposed to be about TV Shows and the hard world of TV production? No, because that wasn’t worked out either and the TV setting just seemed to be the incidental backdrop. Was it supposed to be about disillusionment in journalism? No, because – as mentioned above – Ford just did not deliver anything worthwhile and thought provoking in that regard but clichees and banalities.

It is, therefore, unclear what they wanted this to be. Drama, rom-com, comedy, comedy-drama, romance, journalism, hard work, working with legends whose glory days are behind them? To me, it seemed a bit like a neurotic mess.

All in all this was a boring, plain movie with flat characters and an unintelligent, predictable script and dialogues. It was also very unworthy of these quality actors to be even doing such run-of-the-mill junk.

Of course, after writing this review, I found that J.J. Abrams produced it so it doesn’t surprise me at all that this has turned out to be such a vacuous, empty and boring star-studded piece of garbage.

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Americans Preoccupied with Governor Sanford’s Sexual Partners and Marital Status

Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who three years ago secretly left the state to visit his lover in Argentina under the cover that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, is engaged to said lover, Maria Belen Chapur.

Sanford was a rising Republican political star before he vanished from South Carolina for five days in 2009. Reporters were told he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. But when he returned to South Carolina, the father of four admitted that he was instead in Argentina with Maria Belen Chapur, whom he later called his soul mate.

I’ve been unfaithful to my wife. I developed a relationship with what started as a dear, dear friend from Argentina. It began very innocently as I suspect many of these things do, in just a casual email back and forth in advice on one’s life there and advice here. But here recently, over this last year, it developed into something much more than that,” Sanford said in explaining the affair.

The episode ended in divorce from his wife, Jenny, and derailed the political career of a GOP conservative with presidential aspirations.

There are many things Governor Sanford has done during his career that are wrong, such as using public funds for private expenses, violating camping finance laws,  improperly converting campaign funds for personal use and endangering his state’s economy by threatening to refuse stimulus funds. But the one and only thing he is famous for are his extramarital indiscretions, because as we all know, in this country ,what other people do with their private lives and sexual organs in particular is of utmost importance for the public and other legislators. What? He is a corrupt, dishonest crook? Meh. But wait what? He had sex with a woman who isn’t his wife? Let’s release the lynch mob.

Political careers ended all for sexual indiscretion

I must say that the obsession people in this country have with what others do to the three holes in their bodies or generally conduct their lives, whom they bed and marry and sleep with,  is beyond me.

Anthony Weiner, a capable democratic Congressman, had to resign office for having sent kinky text messages to people online and feeling forced to lie about it to a public with a misplaced sense of what constitutes moral behavior. His kinky texting had absolutely nothing to do with his responsibilities as a lawmaker., yet he was forced to resign. The man was put in place to legislate and represent his community, not act as the religious moral authority on sexual propriety and marriage.

Congress members engage in all sorts of highly unethical acts, such as going to work for or owning stocks in companies they are to regulate, yet none of them are ever a grounds for impeaching someone or forcing them to resign. Why? Because they are not of a sexual nature.

People need to concern themselves with real issues, such as Julian Assange being chased around the globe on dubious charges for having exposed government crimes and the fact that Mitt Romney and his henchman in a suit Paul Ryan are preparing to officially ruin this country and bring it closer to dystopia. We should care more about who lines the pockets of our lawmakers, half of whom are millionaires, and what policies they enact, rather than about their rate of sexual intercourse and with whom.

If people really care about high moral standards, they should start in their own backyards, so to say, and try to do the right thing by the people around them, instead of caring about how someone else cheating on their wives affects the wife and them.

Most everyone who has been critsizing Sanford on moral decency and integrity, is most probably guilty of wrongdoing in their lives and to those around them to some extent. For the public then all of a sudden to hold Sanford to the highest moral standards, making him end his career while themselves obviously lacking in many ways is deeply hypocritical.  The fact that their concerns of what constitutes moral behavior is limited to indiscretions of a sexual nature only is what makes it disturbing.

People, leave others be. That is the essence of freedom.

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Apple Wins Lawsuit Against Samsung; Gets Awarded $1 Billion

In a trial that began on July 31, 2012, Apple claimed that some Samsung gadgets had copied design elements of the iPhone and iPad; Samsung countered that Apple had infringed on some of Samsung’s patents. Apple requested that Samsung pay damages of $2.5 billion, while Samsung asked for $422 million for Apple’s alleged violations.

Yesterday the verdict finally came in where the jury ruled that Samsung did violate some Apple patents and Apple was rewarded  $1,051,855,000 for infringing on patents. Samsung is seeking to have this decision overturned.

I must say that it makes me sick to know that this greedy company that gets tax breaks for employing more people overseas than in the US in quasi slave labor shops gets even more money awarded. They paid 11% in taxes last year on a $35 billion income.

Apple is part of the 1% and the 1% must go. No more of this unequal wealth distribution at the back of the unfortunate and those who get paid below meager wages to slave away at their factories. Those are human beings too, not to mention that in this very country tax payers are basically carrying the economic burden so that companies like Apple pay extremely little in taxes while posting multi billion dollar profits. Middle class wage earners pay a whopping 35 percent of their incomes in taxes without any loopholes, while Apple is basically paying nothing. The 11% is the reported tax rate. The check they actually sent to the IRS is probably far less – if anything at all.

Steve Jobs man of the year my ass. Getting rich by exploitation is a time honored tradition he has in common with all slave traders and imperialists. Only that he did it in a high tech fashion as opposed to the crude ways of his predecessors. But in essence it is exactly the same thing.

I am all for free markets and competition and people being rich and rewarded for their hard work, but this is just going too far. Under the guise of capitalism and freedom, the United States has managed to become a haven for greed of the few at the expense of everyone else. I am sure people like their iPods and iPads but the price to be paid to own such items should not be forgotten.

I hope people realize that marx predicted all this.”

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Disneyland Ticket Prices at an All-Time High: The Happiest Place the 1% Have Created

I remember a time when Disneyland was indeed the happiest place on Earth. Both for your soul and pocket books. When I first went in 2003, I paid $39 to go in. And I remember that because I still have the ticket that has the price printed on.

I was in college then and paying $39 to go to Disneyland didn’t seem like a hardship, even though it still seemed quite steep to pay nearly forty dollars to go to a theme park.

Alas in a world in which corporations run the show and are people, with all the privileges but most certainly not responsibilities thereof,  Disneyland is happy. And for a whopping $87 admissions price per person for one day ($81 for children) you can be happy too.

Whoever said you can’t put a hefty price tag on happiness.

Within less than a decade, admissions prices to Disneyland have more than doubled while, needless to say, peoples’ wages and with it incomes have not. Whereas in 2003, a family of four could have visited Disneyland for under $ 150 tops, today, the same family would have to spend nearly $350 for the same trip.

What middle class family can afford a theme park tab like that? Plus food, drink and snacks a trip to the happiest place on Earth will amount to nearly $400. Most families can’t afford that. Especially not in today’s economy. Disneyland was a place you could just go to on a whim. Now you have to save up and budget for it.

Even after adjusting for inflation, the 2012 price would have to be a mere $49 dollars, not $87. So where is that additional $40 coming from?

Disney Makes 8 billion, Pays Little in Taxes

It is called greed. Cold, hard greed. It certainly is not hardship, since Disney merchandise and motion pictures, including Pixar, gross millions of dollars. Disney has also paid a very small percentage of its $8 billion revenue in taxes.

In the most recent fiscal year, Disney had an income of over $8 billion, while actually paying only a mere 23% of it in taxes. Its CEO, Robert A. Iger pocketed $33,434,398 (!) alone as compensation.  The average employee at Disney makes around $51,000, paying 35% of that in taxes, with very few loopholes to reduce that tax liability since the loopholes for tax evasion start kicking in at high incomes, not middle class ones.
When Republicans and company CEOs whine about the corporate tax rate in the United States being higher than anywhere else in the world, they are right. According to the chart to the left, the United States does have the highest corporate tax among other countires in the developed world, including Japan, Germany, Canada and the UK.

However, the statutory tax rate is completely irrelevant when it comes to discussing corporate taxes in the US since the number on rhe book, the 35% everyone complains about, is not the actual percentage that companies pay taxes.  Therefore,  when discussing corporate tax rates in the United States, it is important to look at three things:

1. Statutory tax rate, which is the official, on the book, tax rate that you technically have to pay. And which is the only number Republicans refer to when discussing corporate taxes.

2. Reported tax rate, which is the rate owed by company calculations, after deduction and credits, curretly due or deferable.

3. The actual paid tax to the United States government, which is the amount actually paid to the US treasury by cutting up a check and sending it in.

The numbers within those three columns vary greatly, as can be seen in the following chart:

While the statutory rate is at 35%, the actual amount of taxes paid to the US government by corporations is a mere 13%. An mount substantially lower than what other countries pay in corporate taxes. Most get refunds or don’t pay a dime at all.  At the same time, corporations in Canada, Germany and Japan actually pay those statutory rates since very few tax loopholes exist in those countries, unlike the US.

That is why Disney, despite the official 35% rate that Iger is complaining about in this video, only actually paid 23%, in taxes.

How is that relevant to the question of Disneyland tickets? It is relevant because the obscene ticket hikes by Disneyland are a function of greed and the systematic, unhindered wealth transfer from the 99% to the 1%. Disney doesn’t need to charge people $87 dollars in order to post a profit. But it still asks for it because a) they can get away with it and because b) this is how Disney stays rich.

A hard working family of four would need to shell out nearly $400 to go to Disneyland for a few hours per day while Disney is sitting pretty on an $8 billion income with low taxes and top executive pay. That is extortion, that is not capitalism.

Disney’s official justification for the price hike is the usual “the economy is bad” line. And high taxes.

The reality doesn’t support such an assertion. The economy has not affected the 1%, which Disney is. It has affected the 99% – Disney’s customers. Therefore, hiking up the prices on them in times of a recession is sort of like taking money from the poor to help out the king during hard times in the land.

The Dwindling of the Middle Class

Disneyland is, of course, not something people need or a requirement to lead a good life. And people don’t have to go if they don’t want to. Yet, there is another trend to be found here, which is the trend toward accumulating more and more; a trend toward greed, at the expense of everyone else.

Disney posts record profits, pays little taxes (i.e less revenue for government) , keeps charging more, accumulates more wealth, keeps paying little taxes, all while the middle class is asked to carry the economic burden of society with high taxes.

If there continue to be less things middle class families can do, from buying  a house, to education, to eating well, vacationing in nice places or even going to Disneyland, then there will be no middle class. If we continue on this trend of going after the middle class, whose existence and well  being has historically always been the best indicator of a society’s overall health, then there won’t be one. People will be either poor or rich.

The non-existence of a middle class is a hallmark of developing countries and everytime a country manages to create a middle class, it is seen as developing per OECD standards. With the current trend and especially after the horrific things the Romney/Ryan ticket propose, all of which are policies targeting the middle class and middle class causes only, the US might very well be on its way there. A dystopian society, far removed from what our Founding Fathers envisioned when they founded this nation to escape the shackles of the mind, body and pocket.

Disneyland the happiest place on Earth? Sure, if you can pay for it.

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Vice Presidential Parasite Paul Ryan Will Only Release Two Years Worth of Tax Returns

In a gesture full of respect and concern for the American people, Paul Ryan – Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick – gave said American people the finger by announcing that he would only release two years worth of his tax records to the public; the same amount of years that Governor Romney has released.

In reality, of course, Romney has only released his 2010 tax return and even those were missing half the information. He has also only given an estimate on his 2011 taxes – which he plans to fully publish (read: after his attorneys and PR folks fix and redact it) before the election.

This is a clever move. By stating that he will only release two years of taxes, “just like the Governor”, he is moving the focus of Romney’s taxes and his refusal to release more than two years, onto the broader debate of candidates releasing tax returns. This way, no one can accuse Romney of trying to hide anything because, after all, it was merely policy by his campaign to not release anyone’s tax returns beyond two years – not just Romney’s.

But the bigger problem that irks me is the attitude. The arrogance and the audacity to give the voter base such a condescending response.

Here you go America. Stick this in your pipe and smoke it.  I ain’t releasing shit to you. You can take it or leave it.”

This was a huge bird he flipped because by saying he will only release two years of tax returns Paul Ryan is basically behaving in the same condescending manner as Ann Romney when she said “you people” got all the info you need to crown us president and presidentette of this kingdom.

Ryan is basically telling us to go and shove it and be happy with whatever information he thinks we need to know and which he is willing to throw our way – and go vote for him already, dammit.

This kind of behavior is typical for Romney and his elitist, exploitative rich buddies who own football teams and elevators for their cars and have nothing but dangerous policies in mind with sinister outcomes.

They seem to think of the American people, the people they are working for and who put them in charge, as this nuisance; as this inevitable, annoying, pestering entity they have to unfortunately go through to get to what they really want to do: turn America and this government into nothing but tools to further causes that are detrimental for 99% of the population and ultimately the whole world.

Don’t think for one second that Europe’s economy going belly up had nothing to with the economic meltdown in the US.

The United States is Not a Corporation You Raid

The deranged duo

Who do Romney and Ryan really think they are?

And what country do they think they are running for?

The United States is an idea, it is a vision -it is about democracy, autonomy and freedom. It is about tolerance and respect. It is about equity. It is about creating something above yourself for the greater good of everyone. Our Founding Fathers ran way from those shackles of the mind, soul and pocket to create a society in which all men are equal and can prosper and lead dignified lives. Not one in which a few enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else, ripping apart what they have, to suck the juice from the carcasses. That is not what America is.

It is not some company you raid and whose employees (i.e. the voting population) you discard and take away power from to obscenely enrich yourself and then insult them by calling yourself American and a patriot but them traitors and un-American for wanting access to health care, a job, an education, clean water to drink and clean air to breathe.

Mitt Romney is not a good American. He dodged military service with a deferment taking him to Paris. He has accounts invested who knows where around the world as though he were hedging his bet on the USA and he has a business career based not upon creating and growing domestic industry but in bankrupting companies and laying off its employees, sucking up their retirements and pensions to then line his own pockets.

Capitalism relies on markets and supply and demand, not bankrupting companies, mass layoffs and creating monopolies.  Social drawinism is not capitalism. Vulcher capitalism is not capitalism.

Mitt Romney is not a patriot, he is a traitor. He is a parasite. Nothing in his business or personal life and choices suggests otherwise.

So… no more tax returns you fuckers.  That is what Ryan’s response means. Nothing more and nothing less.

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