Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hank Johnson: Guam Might Tip Over if We Deploy 8,000 Marines There

Yes, he is a Democrat. The saddest part is that Johnson replaced Cynthia McKinney, so he is actually an improvement.

Appeals Court Forced to Honor Procedure in Fred Phelps Case

Many bloggers have been upset over the recent Fourth Circuit Appeals decision forcing the father of a slain marine to pay the court costs of Fred Phelps' "God Hates fags" group who were protesting his so's funeral. I do not blame the bloggers in spirit--Phelps and his clan are disgusting--but the decision was the legally correct one. the judges wrre bound by Federal Rule of Procedure 39:
(a) Against Whom Assessed. The following rules apply unless the law provides or the court orders otherwise:

(1) if an appeal is dismissed, costs are taxed against the appellant, unless the parties agree otherwise;

(2) if a judgment is affirmed, costs are taxed against the appellant;

(3) if a judgment is reversed, costs are taxed against the appellee;

(4) if a judgment is affirmed in part, reversed in part, modified, or vacated, costs are taxed only as the court orders.
It would appear Phelps had the $11 million suit against him dismissed on appeal and can recoup his court costs from the loser. as bad as it offends human decency, Phelps and his family were protesting the Marine's funeral on public property. Many states have now enacted laws forbidding the practice, but they unfortunately cannot not retroactively.

This goes to show two things: one, the law is an ass and two, the total depravity tenet of TULIP Calvinism is demonstrably true.

Formspring Question # 8: Honestly, People Send This Stuff In Edition

How exactly did you achieve your awesomeness?
God's blessings.

Why is Jesse James Less Popular Than Cholera?

It is not solely because he cheated on classy Sandra Bullock for a tattooed stripper. It is also because he does stupid things like pose as a saluting Nazi:And I thought tom Cruise looked dumb in Valkryrie. James sieht aus wie ein dummes kind.

Good news, though--he is headed to rehab, which by Hollywood's low standards is as good as a Damascus Road conversion.

The Blind Bird Snags a Worm

Barack Obama to allow offshore oil drilling in some areas. There is bound to be a catch. Is this tied to a climate or illegal immigrant amnesty bill?

Deep Space Nine--"Past Tense, Part II"

I claimed yesterday the conclusion to “Past Tense” would get even more obnoxiously liberal and so it has. What is doubly worse is there is a pretentious sense the story is so tense and meaningful the brief comic relief elements have to be particularly absurd in order to make the audience feel better. Thoughtful of them, no?

What strikes me is the parallels to the Attica prison riot of 1971. the correlation goes right down to the governor giving into every demand except amnesty, but deciding to send in the National Guard anyway. The national Guard chose to attack without much consideration who was a rioting inmate and who was a hostage. Twenty inmates and nine hostages were killed. Fictitious news reports, lawsuits, and a pardon of one inmate falsely accused of murdering a police officer have clouded the truth about what really happened.

The riot has not been a particular interest of mine, but it does appear to have captured the progressive imagination. It had all the ingredients; prisoners given one shower a week and one roll of toilet paper a month, racial overtones, and Nelson Rockefeller, a liberal Republican, as governor. When the left has to criticize a left leaning Republican, they have to go after his character rather than his policies. They do so brutally. Older readers may correct me if I am wrong, but I assume Attica wasthe key reason Rockefeller’s presidential prospects fizzled.

The processing center is where the bulk of action takes place. Sisko, posing as Gabriel Bell, Bashir, a Kid Rock impersonator, and Corky’s dad take charge of the hostages. Bashir fears that Sisko is going to martyr himself like the real Bell was supposed to in orderto preserve the timeline. For now, his priority is to see the sanctuary district’s demands get heard and the hostages remain alive.

The sanctuary citizens want the place shut down and the Federal Employment Act reestablished. The act is never explained, but one assumes it is a New Deal type law requiring the government to give everyone a job who wants one. That is about the only logical conclusion I can draw.

It turns out one of the hostages is diabetic. I expected the revelation to producea ticking clock element, but Bashir easily gets her insulin. Did they throw that in because the episode was running short?

Dax eventually discovers their location through Chris, the Bill Gates type. She sneaks in through the sewers, begging the question why did that never occur to any of the ten thousands residents who want to escape? Have these people never seen The Shawshank Redemption?

The government agrees to hold hearings on the matter, but will not offer amnesty. Neither suits Sisko. The governor decides to raid the place. Before that can happen, Dax convinces Chris to broadcast many of the residents personal stories across the web to gain public sympathy. It does not work fast enough. Many are killed in the raid. The now sympathetic guards allow isko and Bashir to escape, but promise to tell the story in order to effect the proper social change.

I noted the comic relief was absurd. The image of Dax, dressed to the nines, popping out of a manhole was too absurd for words. Seeing her sneaking along with Clint Howard happily trotting along behind her took it to a whole new level of weirdness. The other bit was Kira and O’Brien beaming it different eras interspersed throughout the episode, with predictable results. I do note one interesting bit: the boxig poster on a wall behind them in 1930 was the same one on a wall behind Kirk and Spock in “City on the Edge of Forever.” The implication being they are all on Earth at the same time. Nice touch, but implausible.

For all its excessive preaching and obnoxious progressivism, I cannot say I did not like the episode. It amuses me so much logic was sacrificed to get the message across. The timeline never should have changed in 2371 no matter what was going on in 2024. Even if it did, the Defiant should have disappeared, too. No one ever thought about escaping through the sewers? What, did it smell too bad? Kira and O’Brien had only a one in three chance of finding their missing comrades on their last trip, but they chose correctly. No one is ever concerned Sisko ad Bashir’s communicators are missing. Whole episodes are centered around avoiding such contamination, but not here.

But the point was made--socialism rocks! So I guess the logical flaws are okay. take it away, Buffalo Springfield:Rating: *** (out of 5)

Kristen Wig

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lost--"The Package"

First off, I have a request for ABC. Next time, they need to make their V promo even bigger. It did not quite block all of Su’s writings. I mean, I could make out the first word and sometimes even the second. The network dropped the ball on that one.

In all seriousness, I have never been a fan of episodes centering on Jin and Sun. The writers have never been able to make them relevant. I am honestly more interested in Rose and Bernard than our Korean lovebirds and they do not get a quarter as muh attention--apparently from anyone, since there appears to be no concern where the two of them are right now. The out of sight, out of mind act probably means they will be the most prominent characters in the end. Adam and Eve, maybe? Or is that too predictable.

“The Package” is a double whammy for me. Not only do I not much care for Jin and Sun, but the show has gone back to its usual motif a having boring filler saved by the final minutes. The promise of a more exciting episode next time is no way to run a television series.--especially when onlya hadful of episodes remain.

2007

The island story was a lot of fluff. Ilana wants to wait for Richard to return even though no one expects him to. Sun storms off in frustration because she wants to find Jin even though no one else appears all that interested in helping her. DarkLocke approaches her while she is sulking in her garden with the promise of taking herto him. She does not trust him and runs away as fast as she can, bumping her head and forgetting how to speak English asa result. Odd, but true.

Meanwhile, Widmore’s people attack DarkLocke’s camp and kidnap Jin., Jin and Sun are reluctant candidates. Neither of them care about destiny. They just want to leave the island and get back to their daughter. I sympathize solely because I am supposed to, not because I really feel it. Even when Jin sees photos of his daughter for the first time, I spent more time being creeped out Widmore had that camera than anything else. Both Kwons decide to follow their respective leaders to their destiny, but like I said, I do not really care.

The revelation Desmond is important to the finale was far more interesting. I think he is the connection between the 2007 and 2004 stories. Recall some time ago I mention that when alternate realities are done in comics, there is often a character in the alternate timeline who knows something is amiss. The Lost writing staff is loaded with comic book fans and a few professionals…

2004

The story served to explain how Jin wound up in the freezer after sayid killed Keamy and Omar. The end, with a pregnant Sun being shot, will almost certainly lead to Juliet’s appearance in the sideways flashes. She is coming back for at least two more episodes.

Sun’s father discovered Jin was making the beast with two backs with his daughter. The money he was caught with at the airport was Keamy’s fee for killing him. Mikhail makes another appearance, hauling sun to the bank to get the money, which is now I Keamy’s account, while Keamy earns it. He is delayed by Sayid and we all know what happens there. Sayid gives Jin the means to escape just as Mikhail returns. Sun is hit in the stomach by crossfire. She reveals she is pregnant as jin desperately carries her off.

Are the two of them the only characters who are not arguably better off in the sideways flash? Maybe you could throw Kate in that category.

‘The Package” was just kind of…there. It was not good, but it was not bad. It felt like it was thrown into the mix just to have Jin and Sun in the mix. Some small moments will probably be more significant later. Is Kate expendable since she is not a candidate? Why does DarkLocke need Claire? Or does he need the “sickness” she is possessed by? What is the significance of Sayid’s loss of emotion? How is Desmond the ket to stopping DarkLocke from escaping the island? There are not any discernible clues about any of the answers to those questions. Yet.

Theories? I have got theories:

DarkLocke thinks Claire still hates Kate and will ‘allow” her to kill her for stealin aaron.
Desmond is Dogan’s replacement.
The two realities are converging. Sun cannot speak English in either oe. Sayid is dead inside in both.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Insurers Cave in to Covering Kids

Insurance company representatives have signaled they will err o the side ofcoverage in spite of vague language in the healthcare reform law that arguably excuses them from covering children with preexisting conditions:
In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the industry's top lobbyist said insurers will accept new regulations to dispel uncertainty over a much-publicized guarantee that children with medical problems can get coverage starting this year.

Quick resolution of the doubts was a win for Obama — and a sign that the industry has no stomach for another war of words with a president who deftly used double-digit rate hikes by the companies to revive his sweeping health care legislation from near collapse in Congress.

"Health plans recognize the significant hardship that a family faces when they are unable to obtain coverage for a child with a pre-existing condition," Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, said in a letter to Sebelius. Ignagni said that the industry will "fully comply" with the regulations, expected within weeks.
This is not a surprise at all. Not only would denying coverage have been a public relations nightmare, government bureaucrats have pretty much free range to draft insurance company policy. It is either do what the government wants or they will step in and further regulate your business--likely into "bankruptcy.

I guarantee the ambiguous language will be used as a defense in a any potential legal wrangling over coverage.

Polls Show ObamaCare too Expensive, Expansive

ObamaCare is not growing in popularity according to a Gallup poll of adults because it is considered too expansive and expensive.

Presumably, that expense does not include the $ 3.4 billion in earmarks given to Bart Stupak and his "pro-life" cohorts in order to buy their votes for healthcare reform.

This USA Today poll finds 665 of adults think ObamaCare is too expensive. This is significant because a poll of adults, rather than registered or likely voters, tends to favor Democrats in the sample. The distaste for ObamaCare is bipartisan.

Deep Space Nine--"Past Tense, Part I"

I remember watching the two part story “Past Tense” when it first aired in 1995 and thinking it must have come about because of the writers’ dejection over republicans taking over Congress in the recent election. Recall at the time progressives were horribly upset Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America has resonated with the voters that they feared we were on the road to a fascist state run by angry, white men who cared nothing for social justice.

The powers that be at DS9 drew the most logical conclusion they could from the election: by 2024, the poor are being rounded up and sent to sanctuary districts in order to keep them away from polite society. Gee thanks, Newt.

That is not the only logical problem we encounter. The episode is littered with quitea few convenient contrivances. The Ds9crew takes the Defiant to Earth in order to brief Starfleet on Dominion activity in the Gamma Quadrant. Quark uses an emergency channel from the station to request Sisko look into a legal matter regarding the Grand Nagus’ nephew having been arrested by Starfleet security. The scene is awkwardly thrown in there solely so quark can make an appearance.

Sisko, Bashir, and Dax beam down, but disappear because of a fluctuation in the chromaton particles (yes, time particles) because of some combination of a natural phenomenon combined with some side effect of the cloaking device. Just go with it. I did…barely. O’Brien figures out they have beamed down into San Francisco the place, but not at the right time.

He is correct. The three wind up in 2024. Sisko and Bashir are unconscious above ground, but Dax is passed out As if you needed to be bashed over the head with the commentary on social class structure, the black and Arab guys are arrested and thrown in a sanctuary district while the pretty white girl is picked up by a Bill Gates-type (what is he doing riding the subway?) even though all three are strangely dressed vagrants with no identification.

So here we go with a preachy scribe about the haves and the have nots. Sisko and Bashir are throw into a walled, guarded by armed security, twenty block slum in which sisko, being a history buff, dutifully explains is the result of Americans forgetting how to care. But they will soon learn to care again because there will be a riot I a few days during which some guards will betaken hostage. A man named Gabriel Bell will sacrifice his life to protect them. His death will make him a national hero and prompy reform, social change, and eventually, Starfleet.

Meanwhile, Dax is living it up in high society while she uses her benefactor’s resources to find Sisko and Bashir. They are not in any hospitals, jails, or morgues, but it is not until the fifth act that it is suggested they might be in the sanctuary district. You know, because we have forgotten how to care to the point the sanctuary districts, an obvious place to look for missing friends who do not have identification, is a distant afterthought.

Things go frombadto worse when some thugs attack Bashir and he is rescued, at the cost of his life, by a stranger who turns out to be--you guessed it--Gabriel Bell. illogically enough, all traces of Starfleet, sans the Defiant, immediately disappear from 2371. Illogical because events in 2024 and 2371 are not happening concurrently. Sisko will take action to repair the timeline. Since he will ultimately be successful, there should never have been a noticeable change in the future. For theake of drama, we will just have to go along with that one, too.

The riots begin as inmates of the sanctuary district take hostages. Sisko decides he has to take Gabriel Bell’s place in order to preserve the timeline, even though it means sacrificing his own life.

Trek does time travel stories well, even when how the characters get to the past is often contrived beyond belief. I cannot say “Past Tense” is an exception. It is awfully preachy, but still compelling. Or maybe just amusing in consideration of the commentary.

Perhaps I am biased these days because of our current political climate. The reason sanctuary districts were formed is because of rampant unemployment and a lack of healthcare resources. Considering the impending economic collapse thanks to Barack Oama’s spending plans and the inevitable healthcare rationing bound to hit I the near future, the idea of lumping together the unemployed and the lower class sick people sounds much more plausible now with progressives in charge than it did with conservatives in power.

The gospel of progressivism gets much more obnoxious in part two. I will et to that tomorrow.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Elisha Cuthbert

Monday, March 29, 2010

The New TARDIS Design

It is not as guady as the updated yellow design used for Nine and Ten.

Insurance Companies Can Still Deny Coverage for Preexisting Conditions

Progressives said if I did not support ObamaCare, people suffering from preexisting conditions could be denied medical coverage--and they were right!

A hefty 54% of those polled still want ObamaCare repealed, so Barack Obama's sales pitch is not working, either.

Repeal? Go for it!

Someone Finally Apologizes for Battlefield: Earth


I suppose unleashing such Scientology drivel on a unsuspecting movie public would lead anyone to seek redemption. It has taken ten years for screenwriter J. D. Shapiro to unburden his soul, but here it is:
It was 1994, and I had read an article in Premiere magazine saying that the Celebrity Center, the Scientology epicenter in Los Angeles, was a great place to meet women.

Willy [Shapiro's pet name for his schlong] convinced me to go check it out. Touring the building, I didn't find any eligible women at first, but I did meet Karen Hollander, president of the center, who said she was a fan of "Robin Hood: Men in Tights." We ended up talking for over two hours. She told me why Scientology is so great. I told her that, when it comes to organized religion, anything a person does to reward, threaten and try to control people by using an unknown like the afterlife is dangerous.

Nonetheless, Karen called me a few days later asking if I'd be interested in turning any of L. Ron Hubbard's books into movies. Eventually, I had dinner with John Travolta, his wife Kelly Preston, Karen -- about 10 Scientologists in all. John asked me, "So, J.D., what brought you to Scientology?"

I told him. John smiled and replied, "We have tech that can help you handle that." I don't know if he meant they had technology that would help me get laid or technology that would stop Willy from doing the majority of my thinking.
A couple things stand out.

First, Shapiro expresses a distaste for organized religion because it utilizes the fear of punishment I the afterlife for the misdeeds of the current. His motivation for thinking this is obvious since he nearly joined Scientology and wound up writing a proselytizing script for them solely because he wanted to get laid. The man is obviously a paragon of virtue.

Second, Shapiro’s most successful film has been 1993‘s Robin Hood: Men in Tights. He has had no critical or financial success with any script in seventeen years. He probably does not have much room to blame Scientology’s intervention, but considering they are a bunch of criminally abusive kooks, I will give Shapiro the benefit of the doubt.

(Via: Ain't It Cool News)

Deep Space Nine--"Fascination"


“Fascination” is a light-hearted, Lwaxana-centric episode that badly mangles Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. You would think that spells disaster and it almost does. But there is enough humorous moments to keep the episode from dwelling in the cellar.

Lwaxana returns for the Bajoran Gratitude Festival at which everyone is supposed to reveal their true feelings for one another. Unless you think someone is a complete douche. Presumably, you are supposed to keep that to yourself. Think positively.

Unbeknownst to Lwaxana, she is suffering from Zanthi fever, an illness which causes older Betazoids to project their feelings onto others. Since her motivation for visiting DS9 is to manhunt (Changelingunt?) Odo, she projects her affection for him unto everyone else.

In the spirit of revealing true feelings, people begin expressing odd affections for each other. Jake confesses a crush on Kira, for which I do not blame him. Bashir takes a turn with her as well. It is no surprise. Alexander Siddig and Nana Visitor became an item during the series run. This is the first time Odo expresses his feelings for Kira, too, albeit not to her directly. I see a pattern developing here.

Bareil shows an interest in Dax, Dax shows one in Morn, o’Brien threatens to quit Starfleet so he can spendall his time with Keiko, whom Quark begins showing an affection towards. The episode winds up dangerously close to slapstick farce, but it does not quite hit that point. That said, there is no point to it and “Fascination” is one of the most forgettable of episodes. Consider it a beather before a series of dark episodes to come soon after.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Kristen Bell

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Human Rights Case for Israel

My post earlier this week on Barack Obama’s snubbing of Benjamin Netanyahu has prompted a livelier comment section usual, but it is meandering all over the place regarding the issues of diplomatic protocol, Zionism, and what position the united states ought to take in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I need to address some issues. It would probably be better to talk about them in a new post than respond in the comments.

First, it does not matter what the issue is or what country the head of state is from, the President of the United States cannot walk out on a world leader, much less a member state of the United Nations and a close ally, because said ally is not in complete compliance with the POTUS’ wishes and leave that head of state with subordinates while he trots off for a social gathering. It is just not done. In that regard, it does not matter which side you want to take in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It is irrelevant because Obama’s behavior would be every bit of a national embarrassment if the president of some tiny Pacific island no one has ever heard of had suffered it.

Second, I freely admit I have religious motivations for my Zionism, but that is not the exclusive reason I support Israel. If my Christian beliefs are clouding the issue as most of the comments are claiming, I can discuss this on a human rights level. Just bear in mind I do not consider Christian motivations to support Israel evil even though I think they are enough regardless of any human rights issue.

Finally, I still believe Israel is in the right with regards to human rights. That is a startlingly dangerous statement to make these days when the liberal intelligentsia has turned against Israel. Can anyone fathom why this is when to do so is to ally with the likes of Hamas? Hamas, the organization that uses suicide bombers to kill civilians, use their own civilian as human shields against Israeli defense assaults, as well as advocates the subjugation of women and the execution of homosexuals? Where is the progressiveness in that?

It is no where to be found, but have mercy if progressive organizations are not obsessed with tying Israel’s hands in their struggle against them. Why was the United Nations reluctant to look at the genocide in Rwanda or the continuing slaughter in Darfur but more than happy to waste time andresources investigatig the death of a terrorist and two human shields killed when Israel destroyed a missile battery? I question the honesty of any self-proclaimed progressive who cannot make a case for Israel.

A little history here: Those Muslim groups carryig out violent acts towards Israeli’s are the direct descendants of Nazism. In 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood was fouded in Egypt. The Brotherhood’s first major push, the one that established it as a major movement, was to curtail Jewish immigration to Palestine through violence. As the group’s activities became more elaborate, they received funds from the idealogical brothers--the Nazis. No where was the Nazi influence felt more prominently than in Egypt, where the Arab Revolt urged Palestinians to cleanse their land of the Jews. There has not been a point where that has stopped. The Muslim Brotherhood was the ground floor for groups like Hamas and, yes, al Qeada. Where is the logic in supporting them against Israel? Where is the progressive mottivation?

Can you equate Israel’s acts in defending itself from the terrorist acts perpetrated against it? No, I do not think you can. Rockets, surrounded by civilian human shields, are fired from Gaza into Israeli civilian areas in broad daylight when they are the busiest in order to maximize the number of casualties. Israel respnds by destroying the rocket battery, the terrorists who fired it, and unfortunately the human shields that were purposefully placed there as a deterrent. That is a proportional response any way you look at it. Israel would be well within its rights to invade Gaza City and smash every inch of it from which rockets might be fire as well as hunt down every suspected terrorist, but it does not. Why not? Because the Israelis have a moral character they are not given enough credit for possessing.

But the bottom line is one who is motivated by a human rights concern is obligated to take action against the worst first. Several hundred thousand in Rwanda or Darfur is somehow less than Israel defending itself against a handful of terrorists that strap dynamite to their children and have them march into an open air Israeli market full of civilians? There are moral priorities that much of the world has skewered.

Israel is a stable democracy with avenues of relief for huan rights violations. The government can be petioned for grievances, the judicial system listens to complaints, and elected leaders can be voted out. Try that in Iran. Try that with Hamas. It cannot bedone. Neither holds a philosophy we ought to be supporting. Israel does.

So if you want to call the Israeli/Palestinian conflict a human rights matter, fine. But look at it honestly. You cannot in conscience throw your support behind anyone but Israel if you truly care about human rights. While I do not believe Americans have to support the most hardline Likud policy or else, it is difficult not to out of frustration for how little the Palestinians and their supporters, a term I use loosely because Muslims have plwnty of land and petrodollars to relocate their Palestinian brothers or at least improve their living standards, but prefer funding terrorism instead, are willing to budge.

In 1948, their were 400,000 Palestinians when the Jewish state was declared and the Muslim world screamed, ’Genocide!” Now there are over 4 million Palestinians, which goes to show what happens when genocide up to the Jews.

Blogroll Spotlight XXXVII

It is time for the weekly round up of favorite posts from my blogroll. As usual, these are not ranked, but in alphabetical order by blog title.

American Digest--David Mamet on How to Write.

Amusing Bunni's Musings--Eight ObamaCare Culprits to Target in November. Amusing Bunni's Musings is also in my weekly spotlight.

Big Feed--White House Bullies Businesses that Criticize ObamaCare. It is the Chicago Way:Crime Story should have lasted much longer. So should have Del Shannon, RIP.

Camp of the Saints--Major Babe Running for Senate.

Classic Liberal--How the Police State Works.

Daley Gator--Daily Benefactor's Top News.

Five Feet of Fury--Ann Coulter Detractor is a Holocaust Denier.

In a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World--Obama is an Anyi-Semite.

Jaded Haven--A Prison for the Human Soul.

Jumping in Pools--Is American Greatness Over?

Left Coast Rebel--Huge Crowd at Searchlight Tea Party.

MAinnfo--More from the Searchlight Tea Party.

Mind Numbed Robot--Keynesian Economics is Wrong.

Other McCain--Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Paco Enterprises--Demotivational Posters.

Proof Positive--Celebrates His Blog Anniversary.

Right Klik--A Graphic Cartoon.

Teresamerica--Freedoms Lost Under Healthcare Reform.

Troglopundit--A Bad Feeling About This.

Washington Rebel--Thugocracy.

Deep Space Nine--"Defiant"

Out of all the TNG episodes that merit a sequel, how far down the list would you have to go to reach “Second Chances?” Quite a ways, I would think. But here we are. Ironically enough, “Defiant” sets up an obvious sequel in itself which never comes. Whether that is good or bad is up I the air.

If you have forgotten “Second Chances,” good for you. Er…I mean, it is the one where the Enterprise discovers a transporter accident eight years ago created a duplicate Riker who is still I love with Troi. Dude, you have got to be hard up to dream about that woman for eight years. The duplicate calls himself Thomas Riker, using his middle name, and joins the crew of the Gandhi which I can only guess is the baddest warship in the fleet outside of the Defiant.

He returns here, but we do not realize he is not the real Riker until the end of the first act when he pulls off the sides of his fake beard to reveal a goatee. Remember, in Star Trek, goatees are evil.

Thomas comes to DS9 posing as Riker on his way to Risa for vacation. In reality, he plans to steal the Defiant and use it to expose a hidden military build up by the Cardassian Obsidian Order in the DMZ. He snuggles up to Kira in order to do so and has to take her along with him after he has stolen the ship. We are supposed to take it asa given Kira would fall for Riker since sice everything female is supposed to, so I will buy it, I guess.

The episode quickly becomes an homage to Failsafe, the Henry Fonda film in which the president has to help the Soviets stop an American plane from attacking the Soviet Union. It is classic, but I am more partial to the similarly plotted Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. In the case of “Defiant,” Sisko heads to Cardassia Prime to help Dukat stop Thomas.

There is an interesting exchange between the two about Dukat missing taking his son to an amusement park for his birtday because of this incident. Sisko tries to bond with him as a father with heavy duties. Jake has had to sacrifice because of his father’s oath to Starfleet and has done so well. Dukat responds that his son will grow up remembering that his birthday was ruined by a Federation attack on his home and be forever angry. The scene shows the difference between a freedom loving people and those who teach their children devotion to the state. Dukat’s son is not going to think about his ruined birthday first, but of Cardassia’s enemy attacking his home.

Thomas attacks various Cardassian targets on his way to his primary, Obsidian order target. Kira buys some time by disabling the cloaking device. She tries to talk Thomas out of his plans by convincing him he does not really care about the Maquis cause. He just wants to separate himself from the main riker by becoming a hero. Except terrorists do not get to become heroes.

I have always questioned whether Thomas, who is still Riker at heart, would do something like this. Being marooned for eight years is bound to change someone, particularly when he learns his other self became a hero who helped defeat the Borg invasion of Earth. When I first saw this episode fifteen years ago, I did not buy it. Now that I have gotten older and (relatively) wiser, I do. Riker was the one who was going to kidnap his androgynous lover from a lobotomy in ’The Outcast.” he is willing to let high emotions motivate him to do immoral acts to satisfy his own needs.

Sisko and Dukat arrange a trade. The Cardassians get Thomas as long as they do not execute him for his attack and they can have the Defiant logs that reveal the Obsidian Order’s build up in the DMZ. It is the best compromise to avoid awar. Much better than nuking New York, at any rate.

Kira promise to rescue Riker from prison at some point, but she never does even though that would make for a logical sequel. The addition of Worf to the cast makes it even odder. Certainly, his loyalty is more to the main Riker , but you would think he would feel some loyalty to Thomas as well. I suppose Thomas’ violation of Starfleet ideals offends his fellow officers enough they think he got what he deserved.

I appreciate “Defiant” more these days than I did years ago. I understand Thomas’ motivations more than I did then, at any rate. They seem more plausible now that I understand he is not a carbon copy of Riker, but a an whose different experiences have given him a different attitude. While I still find it strange “Second Chances” earned a sequel, “Defiant” improves upon the original

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Candice Swanepoel

Saturday, March 27, 2010

FOX Cancels 24

The show lost me early last season with poor writing and I think it hit its peak three years ago with the President Logan storyline, but I am still sorry to see the Jack Bauer Power Hour go out with such a whimper.

A movie is expected somewhere down the line, but one wonders if a show with an overtly American hero like Bauer will fly in a Hollywood that is still financing conspiratorial, anti-American drivel like Matt Damon's Green Zone.

There is always hope. It is the one thing no one has figured out how to kill yet.

Economic Armageddon Courtesy of the Obama Budget

The CBO calculates Barack Obama's budget will add a whopping $1 trillion of debt every year for the next nine years until our debt will be an unbelievable 90% of GDP.

For perspective, the largest deficit ever approved by a Republican Congress was $ 300 billion in 2004. The Republicans of recent years may have been disappointingly free spending, but they comeacross as raging deficit hawks compared to Obama.

Do not expect things to get much better, either. Starting in 2014 or so, the true costs of ObamaCare are going to be felt, blowing our debt wide open.

Brace yourselves as well for the United States to lose its AAA credit rating. Weare racking up unsustainable debt, which means our bonds are becoming too risky to buy. Our AAA rating survived through the Great Depression, but it probably will not survive Obama.

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around XLII

It is time once again to round up all the bloggers gracious enough to link to me this week.

Right Klik made the Eye Blog of the Day last Sunday.

The Daley Gator links to The Harsh Realities of ObamaCare and my persoal healthcare experience.

Mind Numbed robot shows the robolove and more robolove.

Classic Liberal links to Bart Stupak Kills off the Concept of the Pro-Life Democrat.

Fishersville Mike includes the Eye in his FMJRA.

The Camp of the Saints links to the Harsh Realities of ObamaCare.

Say Anything Blog links to Five Reasons ObamaCare is Even Worse Than You Thought.

Proof Positive links to Five Reasons ObamaCare is Even worse Than You Thought.

Beautiful Fitness Model links to Salma Hayek

A sincere thank you to all who linked. If you linked to me in the last week, but I do not have you here, you unfortunately fell through the cracks of Technorati, Google Blog Search, and Sitemeter. Please drop me a note in the comments and I will update with your link.

Deep Space Nine--"Meridian"

You knew my truce with Dax could not last long. “Meridian” is by far the worst episode of the season.

But to be fair, it is not all Dax’s fault. The story is based on a musical called Brigadoon. The musical is about a Scottish town that reappears every one hundred years. In this episode, a planet called meridian appears every sixty years, then turns into pure energy. Dax falls in love with a scientist named Deral and decides to stay with him forever. It turns out she cannot travel along with the planet when it converts to energy, so the love affair is abruptly ended.

They got my hopes up thinking I would be rid of Dax for the next sixty years. Darn you! Darn you all!

The B-story is actually worse. Quark has to create a holographic copy of Kira for a customer who wants to…you know…with her. Incredibly lowbrow, even for Quark.

“Meridian” makes me embarrassed to be a trek fan. That is saying a lot considering the stigma one already suffers. The main story assume and the Quark/Kira bit is like something that would have aired on the USA Network after midnight on weekends. Skip it at all costs.

Rating: * (out of 5)

Catrinel Menghia

Friday, March 26, 2010

Caprica--"End of the Line"

I have mixed emotions about the mid-season finale of Caprica. The show is still oddly compelling, but nothing in the cliffhanger(s) grabbed my attention. A good cliffhanger is supposed to make you eager to come back for the resolution next week or after the break..whichever. Caprica is going to be gone until the fall. All things considered, that may be enough time for me to forget all about it.

The big problem is there is so much going on, it is difficult to get hooked on any one thing. The writers appeared to want to leave every running storyline haning on a key point, but it is not only difficult managing all of them, but it is too easy to compare the lame endings to the decent ones.

There were some really dumb stuff. Joseph Adama’s guide turned out to be his lovesick secretary. She is purposefully leading him away from finding Tamara so he will crawl into her loving arms for comfort. I understand Caprica is Dallas with Robots, but an idea that dumb would not have flown in the later, ridiculous adventures of J. R. Ewing. I am not sure I care much about his amp addiction, either. He obviously gets over it. Lee Adama is going to worship his legal briefs in the far future. He cannot be a druggie by that point.

Secondly, why does Daniel Graystone want to erase his Cylon’s personality? Even if he is convinced Zoe is not in there after she "shot” the dog last episode, it is the only fraking one that has worked exactly the way he wanted. If the dramatic tension is his defense contract is up soon, it makes no sense he would be eager to destroy his only measure of progress. Unless this is supposed to be further proof he is nuttier than squirrel poop.

Speaking of which, Amanda really is nutty. The main cliffhanger is whether she successfully committed suicide by jumping off a bridge. I never saw her story as the major one, so I am surprised it was front and center. Doubly so, since I am not particularly sympathetic to either her or Daniel. She is loony and he is sadistic. How can I feel for either one?

One thing I did like was the continuation of the promised Frankenstein allusions which dropped off early on. Zoe reveals herself to Philomon, but in a fit of frustration, accidentally killed him. I did not see that coming. Not a direct parallel, but the sequence reminded me much of how I sympathized with the Frankenstein Monster as he tried to connect with people on an emotional level, but was too warped to do so properly.

I lost track of the Tamara, Lacy, and Sister Clarice stories. There was too much going on altogether for me to get emotionally invested. Some of these plot thread shave to be quickly resolved soo or Caprica is going to become a jumbled mess. As it stands, I am not terribly excited about coming back for more. Perhaps as news leaks out between now and the second half of the season, my fire will be lit again.

Interesting note; "End of the Line" was directed by Roxane Dawson, who payed B'Elonna Torres on Star Trek: Voyager. considering Robert Duncan O'Neil, who played Tom Paris, is now a producer on Chuck, it would appear VOY killed off a least a couple acting careers and forced these two behind the scenes.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Look Who is Giving Us Star Wars Fans a Bad Name

Barack Obama purchases the Star Wars Pop Up Guide to the Galaxy.

Doctor Who Series Five Trailer

I spy one of the Cybrus Industries style Cybermen among the villains.

Barack Obama Snubs Benjamin Netanyahu While Bullying Israel Over East Jerusalem Settlements

Barack Obama’s utter contempt for our alliesstrikesagain. This time, he laid off the United Kingdom log enough to insult Israel, our closest ally in the Middle East.

Obama snubbed Benjamin Netanyahu for dinner Wednesday night at the same time he is bullying the Israeli prime minister on new settlement plans. After failing to get a written concessation on resettlements, Obama abruptly left Netanyahu to himself and had dinner with his family. He left Netanyahu with the notice of, ’Let me know if there is anything new.” In other words, Netanyahu should not bother Obama again until he is ready to do exactly what the president wants.

This is no way to treat a head of state period, much less a longtime ally. One suspects world leaders hostile to the united states would fare much better with obama’s idea of “engaging” them to “improve” our image in the world.

Obama did not even ose for a photo with Netanyahu.

I do not know if obama’s problem is immaturity (He did take his bal and went home whwen Netanyahu did not do what he wanted) or his inexperience (Obama has demonstrated the diplomatic skills a a straight “D” Internatioal Studies student) or his extreme Muslim sympathies (I kow he is not a secret Muslim, but he needs to understand how incompatible Islam is with American values. Sorry, but it is) but every fear I had about Obama being in charge of foreign policy is coming true. I feel compelled to apologize on our nation’s behalf.

I note God’s promise to Abraham to bless them that blessed his people and curse those that curse them and fear what Obama may be doing to our country in God’s eyes with his extreme distaste for Israel. I stand as a steady Zionist, but what will happen to the United States if we as a nation officially do not?

Republicans Should Use "Go For It!" as a Rallying Cry

It would not be a bad idea for Republicans to adopt “Go For It” as a campaign slogan. It is simple, catchy, has a Rocky feel to it, and is not exploitive as ’Lets Roll!” struck me back in the early days of the war on terror. It could work for us.

I recall John Kerry tried to usurp “Bring It On” back in the 2004 election and wound up looking foolish. But there is a big difference between turning Bush43’s phrase against him and turning Barack Obama’s words against him now. One, even progressives were not thrilled about Kerry. He just has the virtue of not being Bush 43. Nothing he said could get anyone fired up. Two, twisting the phrase did not phase Bush 43.

There is not a clear leader among the Republicans right now who could make “Go For It” particularly exciting right now, save perhaps Sarah Palin. That is serious problem. Mitt Romney, I imagine, is too Kerry-like to pull it off. That is one of the reasons I doubt he will be the conservative standard bearer between now and 2012.

But here is the good part--no one has to be. Obama is narcissistic and hyper sensitive about criticism. It would fluster him for “Go For It” as a winning slogan in 2010 and beyond even if Republicans still do ot have an inspiring candidate to rally around.

So I say, “Go For It!” let us use the phrase in repealing ObamaCare, the midterm elections, and into 2012.

Deep Space Nine--"Civil Defense"

“Civil Defense” is like a first season episode awkwardly transferred to the third. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with it. It is just the plot of a Cardassian failsafe program to prevent a revolt of Bajoran slave workers being accidentally activated serves mostly to define what the station used to be and the strained relations between theFederation and the Cardassians--all of which we already knew, but could have bee illuminated much more clearly if this one had aired far sooner.

There were some serious duds I the first season--”Q-Less” and “Move Along Home,” for instance--”Civil Defense” could have handily replaced.

Two bits I did like that went beyond the stereotypical escape the overly elaborate doomsday plot device; one, the animosity between Garak and Dukat is in full swing. I find both of them to be fascinating characters, so the fact they have an ongoing danse macabre is right up my alley. Two, Dukat expresses a certain sexual desire for kira for the first time. It is played off with a laugh, which is a point I did not think was a good idea since ira does and should hate Dukat with a passion because of the atrocities he has committed to her people, but the plot point will reappear more prominently I later episodes.

Who can blame him, either? Kira might be an emotionally damaged soul, but she has her exciting moments.

So does ”Civil Defense>’ it is a predictable romp. What writer worth is sat would ot come up with the plot of the Cardassians booby trapping DS9? So there are no real surprises. Consider it a fun, but obvious episode--and oe that should have come far sooner in the series.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Grace Park in a Bikini

One of my favorite Cylons romps on the beach while filming the pilot for a Hawaii 5-0 remake which may hit television screens next season. that is assuming it can live up to the classic series.

Somehow, I doubt it will.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Obama Has His "Birig it On" Moment?

Barack Obama challenged Republicans torepeal healthcare eform today by urging them to, "Go for it." At the same time, he urged patience for his supporters because...well, it is expensive and flawed.

It is great to see our post-partisan president being so post-partisan, no?

According to polls, 55% oppose ObamaCare and 62% want the GOP to fight for repeal.

But take heart, progressives. Fidel Castro thinks you did a great job. Whether that means in taking over the private insurance industry, ignoring the will of the people, or both, I cannot say.

Ronald Reagan is rolling over in his grave. That I can say with assurance.

Deep Space Nine--"The Abandoned"

Avery Brooks made his DS9 directorial debut with “The Abandoned.” He intended the story of an abandoned Jem’Hadar child to serve as an allegory for racial tension and gang violence. I can see hints of that, but I got much more about free will versus fate out of it. Calvinism strikes hard yet again, no?

Quark buys a wrecked ship from one of his contacts and discovers an infant inside an incubator-like compartment. The infant grows rapidly and within a short period of time is roughly the equivalent of a sixteen year old human. It is at this point the crew realizes he is a Jem’Hadar. Fortunately, he recognizes Odo as a Founder. But even odo can barely keep the boy’s violent instincts under control.

Starfleet wants to take the boy for study, but Odo protests. He knows what it is like to be a sentient being, but studied as any old lab sample. Sisko agrees to delay handing him over so Odo can try to alter his nature. Not easy to do, of course. His violent tendencies are not only becoming more overt, but the withdrawal symptoms of Ketracel-white, a drug he has been genetically engineered to be dependent upon, are causing further irritation.

The Ketracel-white situation is conveniently alleviated when some is discovered among the ship’s wreckage. Chalk that up to the dramatic need to establish the Jem’Hadar addiction as a long running story element. The key conflict is odo attempting to broaden the kid’s horizons by first discovering if he has any other interests besides killing and then, in frustration, finding a way to get the indulge that urge in a holosuite. Kira tries to convince Odo this will not work. It is in the Jem’Hadar nature to kill.

Odo responds that it was in her nature to be a terrorist and within his to be a xenophobic Changeling. His mistake is in not drawing the distinction that his an Kira’s were learned behavior due to their circumstances. Kira had to fight for her freedom. Odo was influenced by the people around him, not by other Changelings. The Jem’Hadar are genetically bred to do what they do. No amount of nurture will change their nature. It is fate.

When he reaches this conclusion, he opts to take the kid back to the Gamma Quadrant. Sisko lets him go, realizing the situation was quickly going to evolve into kill or be killed if things carried on any further.

A couple interesting personal moments are slid in. First, Sisko meets and surprisingly likes Jake’s Dabo girl girlfriend. She brings out the artistic side in him. But more importantly, the subplot is a solid, healthy father-son interaction rather than the typical strained daddy issues that often plague television.

The second is growth in the Odo/Kira relationship--such that it is. Odo now has personal quarters instead of remaining in his bucket in the back of his office. With it, he is both exploring his Changeling self by becoming more comfortable with his malleable liquid ste and attempting to become more humanoid by living more like they do. It demonstrates his internal conflict. Now that he knows what his people are like, he has to side more with those the humanoids hate even though he does not feel a sense of belonging with them, either.

But the most poignant part is that odo takes a housewarming gift of flowers from Kira and plants them in his old bucket to symbolize their connection. Or at least what he perceives as their connection. He a few episodes, he will realize his love in unrequited and smash the bucket with the flowers inside.

Very poignant episode, even if I did not get the racial/gang violence message as was apparently intended.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Ali Landry

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Democrats Fear Violent Backlash Over Healthcare Reform Passage

Maybe for good reason. While I do not believe it is time to take up arms against the government and therefore do not support any violent acts against Democrats who passed this atrocious law, I do have to ask--what did they expect?

Progressives have unjustly vilified ObamaCare protestors as violent, racist teabaggers. It is as if there are no legitimate reasons to oppose Barack Obama or his agenda. Sure, there are some bad apples in the bunch. That is to be expected in every large movement. But to steal from Michael Graham, if all conservatives are responsible for the racial epithets of a few tea party protesters, are progressives responsible for the rabidly insane rants of Keith Olbermann?

If you keep calling people violent racists now matter what they truly are, they will eventually shrug and give you what you expect since they have nothing to lose with you.

There is the heart of the matter. ObamaCare was grossly unpopular. The people let Congress know they did not want it, but the democrats ignored them. Is it a real surprise some protestors have now decided peaceful means of political change are useless? I do not condone it, but I do not hold Democrats blameless in the matter, either.

Robert Culp (1930-2010)

First Peter Graves, now Robert Culp. Our greatest television secret agents are passing on.

Godspeed, Mr. Culp.

ObamaCare: For the Children...Kinda

Except for that nasty bit that insurance companies can still refuse coverage for children with preexisting conditions.

I expect this to be the first in a long series of drafting mistakes which will come to light now that someone has actually read the darn thing. Shame no one did that before it was signed into law.

Deep Space Nine--"Second Skin"

I am generally a fan of Kira-centric episodes even if, as she does here, wind up acting out of character. No pun intended, considering the plot of the episode. What I mean is how she goes back and forth from a bitter, but understandable hatred of Cardassians, to an almost weepy appreciation for some and then back again. She is a emotionally damaged person due to living such a violent life, but it is still unnerving to see her seesaw with every new Cardassian encounter.

That said, I often enjoy Trek’s brand of mind game episodes when they are done well and this one is. The plot of Kira beig kidnapped and genetically altered by the Cardassians to convince her she is one for the purpose of extracting intelligence is reminiscent of TNG’s “Frame of Mind.” “Frame of Mind’ was one of Brannon Braga’s few success on TNG and it encouraged him to use the method of illogical happenings to convince a character he or she is going mad ad nauseum on VOY. Thankfully, he was allowed nowhere near “Second Skin,” so the emphasis is more on family and identity. It is a for the better.

Kira is kidnapped, altered, and given to a member of the Central Command, Ghenor, who is told she is his daughter, long lost in deep cover on Bajor. They tell Kira all her memories of being a Bajoran are implants that will go away with medication. They will be replaced with her real memories as an Obsidian order spy. Kira does not buy it even though Ghenor dotes on her as any heartbroken father who misses his daughter would. Kira is completely incredulous. Her father was killed directly by Cardassians. Her mother starved to death in a refugee camp. There is no way she could be one of them.

Her Obsidian order interrogator, Entek, grows more hostile ad determined to extract information from Kira. As it becomes more obvious he will use torture because her ’memories’ are not returning, Ghenor decides he must use his contacts to help her escape. Ghenor, though a powerful ruler on Cardassian Prime, isa member of the dissident movement who believes militarism has ruined the Cardassian soul.

By this point, kira has broken down to the point she is beginning to believe she may really be a Cardassian. But she snaps out of it when she learns Ghenor is a dissident. She knows this is all an elaborate ruse. Kira happened to look enough like Ghenor’s daughter--convenient, I know--to pass for her and, because of her hatred for Cardassians, would resist interrogation. Ghenor would be forced to expose his treasonous activities in order to save her.

Fortunately, Garek has lead Sisko and Odo to Cardassia Prime to save them both just in the nick of time. Ghenor flees with them. He finds asylum on one of the few planets who seem open to Cardassians. Before leaving, he has an almost fatherly exchange with Kira. Maybe iam being too harsh about her reaction, but she comes across as frighteningly emotionally unstable in going from irrational bigot to near family in just a few minutes. I am no psychologist.

Nevertheless, ’Second Skin” is one of the bet character exploration episodes which dominate the third season. It was apparently tougher than usual for Nana Visitor. She suffers from claustrophobia and at one point ripped off her make up during filming because she could no longer tolerate. Another interesting point is guest star Lawrence Pressman, who played Ghenor, is a Jew of Russian descent whose entire family, save for an aunt, was murdered by the Nazis. Considering the obvious parallels between Bajorans/Cardassians and Jews/Nazis, it must have felt unusual to play a Cardassian.

Garak plays a pivotal role here, too. He takesa step back in the likeability department for me, but we learn more about his role as a former spy, so it is atrade off.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Rosemund Pike

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lost--"Ab Aeterno"

Ab Aeterno is Latin for “since the beginning of time.” Apt, because this Richard Alpert-centric episode is one of the best since the beginning of Lost. We have been waiting a long time for his backstory. Now we know. It did not disappoint.

Richard’s story was a deviation from the usual sideways flashes of this season. It comprised the middle part of the episode book ended by the 2007 island happenings. All aspects were good, so this is the first episode in a while I can say was good from start to finish rather than having to credit the island story, the flash sideways, or the last few minutes for saving the story.

The episode begins with Ilana’s group sitting around the campfire. Ilana is perplexed as to their next move, but explains “Ricardo” knows what to do. Ricardo is Richard and, unfortunately, he does not know what to do next. He claims Jacob has done noting by lie to him, so why trust him anyway? In a loving nod to the fans, Richard tells them all they are dead and in hell, a theory that has been alive sice the show’s first season even the theory has been dismissed by the show runners. Richard runs off, telling them he is going to listen to someone else for a change. Hurley, after having a conversation with a someone we do not get to see, runs off after him.

(Digression: For a few seconds there, I swore it wasAna-Lucia sice Hurley would not tell Jack who he was talking to. It did not take long to figure out it was someone else from Richard’s past, though. End of digression.)

So we now get Richard’s back story. He lived in the Canary islands I 1867. His wife, Isabella--yes, that be who Hurley’s chewing the fat with, if you did not see it coming--is very sick. Richard runs off to fetch the doctor, but he refuses to come. He offers medicine, but only if Richard can afford it. He offers the doctor his wife’s golden cross pendant. He says it is worthless and tosses it aside I the first hint of the episode the Biblical devil is a part of the grand scheme of things. They scuffle . In Richard’s desperation, he accidentally ills the doctor. He runs off with the medicine, but is too late. Isabella is dead. Richard is arrested for murder.

In prison, a priest refuses to grant Richard forgiveness for the murder. The only way he can earn forgiveness is through penance, but since he is going to be hanged the next day, that is pretty much out of the question. Richard is spared right before hitting the gallows by agreeing to become aslave instead. I assume this is another instance of Jacob not allowing candidates to die before he is done with them. Or the island, as Ben has claimed. But Ben lies….

Richard is in chains on the Black Rock as it crashes on shore in a heavy storm just like Desmond. I have no idea if that is significant, but since Desmond still has a role in events, maybe it does. The Black Smoke Monster kills everyone but Richard, who is left in chains to dehydrate to death. Isabella appears to him as a trick by the Black Smoke Monster,. Then he encounters Hobbes.


Jacob’s counterpart is still nameless. I called him Hobbes last season because his theory on human nature matches that of philosopher Thomas Hobbes and me, for that matter. There are strong hits by the devoutly Christian Richard that either Hobbes is the devil or Jacob is or at least the devil is o the island. Hobbes frees Richard with the promise he will hunt down and kill Jacob at the statue so they can both leave hell, ashe claims the island is. Richard is given the same instructions to kill Jacob assayed was to kill DarkLocke--stab him in the heart before he speaks. Richard fails and gets beaten up for his trouble.

The two have an intriguing conversation in which Jacob makes two eye opening statements. First, he offers Richard a job as his right hand man. Richard wants his wife back or a ticket out of hell in exchange, but Jacob says he cannot do either. Richard wants to live forever, then. That, Jacob can mysteriously do. Does the island posses a fountain of youth or does Jacob have special powers? Not clear yet.

Secondly, Jacob explains the island in terms of a corked wine bottle. His right hand man serves as the cork which keeps all evil things in the bottle fro escaping. By evil things, he is referring to Hobbes. Richard agrees to work for Jacob and delivers a white rock to Hobbes in response. Hobbes tells him he can change his mind at any time and gives him Isabella’s golden cross pendant, which he buries. Abandoning Christianity in the process, I assume.

Richard has changed his mind in 2007. He digs up the cross and calls out for DarkLocke. Hurley intervenes and acts as an intermediary between Richard and Isabella in which they have a tender moment. Maybe my lingering recuperation from surgery last week is getting to me, but I nearly teared up. Television does not often do that to me. Isabella’s last words are that Richard has to stop Hobbes from escaping or else everyone will go to hell.

At this point, it is too obvious a twist to say Jacob is the evil one and Hobbes is on the up and up. I am wondering now if this is not a Trading Places kind of thing with two old men manipulating unwilling people’s lives in order to satisfy miniscule bets between one another. I would like for the ending to be a little more significant than an Eddie Murphy/Dan Akroyd movie.

I may not have to worry about that. This episode has strong allusions to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series of novels. If you have not read them, time plays a major part in the story, but it is mostly about keeping evil trapped in a similar manner to what DarkLocke described to Sawyer a few episodes. A direct lift would be disappointing. I hope there is a twist coming.

But I did love this episode. I cannot say I was one of those clamoring to find out about Richard’s past, but it turned out to be a fascinating installment of Lost. I believe the Christian overtones are a red herring, but they were done respectfully. There is something you do not see too much on network television. Of course, now that I have said that, Hobbes will wind up being Lucifer exiled to the island by god after rebelling and Jacob is an archangel or something. Then everyone can whine about another ’God did it” series finale just like with Battlestar Galactica..

Rating; **** (out of 5)

Is the Individual Insurance Mandate Unconstitutional?

I have talked about the political and economic ramifications of ObamaCare. how about discussing the legal ones? Thirteen state attorneys general, including my own Henry McMaster, have filed suit claiming the individual insurance mandate is unconstitutional. Do they have a case?

In short, a very slim one.

The suit lays out a number of claims. The two biggest are that ObamaCare is a violation of state sovereignty and it violates the Commerce Clause. The state sovereignty claim holds virtually no water. The claim is pretty much thrown in their because the suit is being filed on behalf of the state. An assertion of political clout, if you will. No one involved will admit that is the only reason, but that is what it is. The Commerce Clause violation claim is a bit more interesting.

The Commerce Clause grants congress the power to regulate interstate commerce. But there is a world of difference between regulating commerce and forcing an individual to buy a product. Congress can set safety standards on GM cars since they are sold across state lines, but it cannot force you to buy one. However, they are forcing virtually everyone to buy insurance.

The drafters of ObamaCare were mindful of the potential legal challenge. The insurance mandate was written to be more in line with Congress’ other express power--taxation. The insurance mandate is considered a tax on the uninsured. I do not know how successful that would be in skirting a Commerce Clause challenge, but I am certain an army of Ivy league lawyers came up with the idea, so there probably is not much wiggle room.

One would have to take a strong originalist view of the Commerce Clause in order to find the insurance mandate unconstitutional, which would ignore a lot of legal precedent That would not bother me, but about the only SCOTUS justice on my side there is Clarence Thomas. I am not even certain Antonin Scalia could go that far.

There is also the problem of ripeness. The law will not even go into effect until 2014. In legal terms, it has not had time to cause any problems yet. I suspect the Court would be wary of dismantling such a large legislative program even if it was.

But it is worth doing. The court has scaled back the power of the Commerce Clause before against general precedence. Who is to say they will not do it again? With the insurance mandate, we are heading into uncharted territory, which means anything can happen.

Five Reasons Why ObamaCare is Even Worse Than You Thought

First, as I pointed out yesterday, there are (deliberate?) flaws in the bill which will lead to people remaining uninsured, thereby causing a "crisis" that progressives can only be fixed by a public option.

Second, this has not created a bottomless well of healthcare financing. There is no such thing anyway. The drafters have tried to cover this fact up. For example, there is a limit to how much Medicare will reimburse doctors for services rendered. Otherwise, doctors could charge $1,000 for a routine examination and Medicare would have to pay up. That would bankrupt the country financing Medicare alone. The legislation won American medical Association endorsement because of a promise the limit on reimbursement would be raised and doctors would be paid more. Does anyone believe that, if we cannot maintain Medicare reimbursements at current levels, we will beable to expand coverage further while paying doctors more? It is impossible.

Third, price controls will lower quality and quantity. Fewer doctors working at fewer healthcare providing locations equals longer lines waiting for an inferior product. This also means less money for research and innovation as well as shortages. We are talking morbid shortages here. Everything from flu shots to plasma, blood, and donated organs. Canada has a large black market for organs.. The organ shortage situation in the United Kingdom is called critical.

Fourth, there will not be asignificant number of lives saved because of increased coverage. There is no significant difference in the mortality rate of the voluntarily uninsured (wealthier) and the involuntarily uninsured 9poorer.) The latter group has only astatistically insignificant 3% higher rate of mortality.

Finally, the budget deficit and national debt are going to spiral out of control. Observe the following debt projections for 2020:Furthermore, the requirement for insurers to provide more coverage will raise premiums while higher taxes on "the rich"--small businesses who employ the majority of American workers--will allow fewer dollars to hire new workers or grow the business. bottom line: that means fewwr taxdollars to pay for all thisstuff.

ObamaCare must be repealed!

Deep Space Nine--"Equilibrium"

Mark the occasion: “Equilibrium” is a Dax-centric episode I enjoyed. I had nearly forgotten about it until watching it again earlier this morning.

The neat part is how the episode came about. It is based on the act of magician Jeff Magnus McBride. Michael Piller is a big fan of McBride’s, whose act consists of removing one mask only to reveal another. This sequence happens several times in the episode to chilling effect. The writing staff felt masks served as a fine metaphor for the Trill’s passing of a symbiotic to a new host. As a bonus, mcBride himself was cast in the role of Joran Beral.

I must say Dax was at her least annoying here--aside from the early scenes in which Joran’s memories come rising to the surface, causing Dax’s temper to flare. When
Dax begins hallucinating visions of a man in a mask threatening her, she has Bashir examine her. He finds evidence the symbiotic is rejecting her. Sisko, Bashir, and Dax head to Trill to seek expert help.

Even though Dax is something of a celebrity for being the only rejected applicant to ever eventually be joined, the staff places its highest priority on saving the symbiont. While they make minimal efforts to save Jadzia, the medical staff seems eager to place the symbiont in another host as soon as Jadzia is too weak to maintain the connection.

What is really happening is a cover up. Over eighty years ago, the Dax symbiont was mistakenly given to an “unfit" candidate, Joran Beral. Joran had murdered the doctor who originally rejected him. He was joined for six months before the symbiotic was removed and given to a proper host--Kurzon.

But the damage was done. It was known known over half the population could serve as a suitable host. The joining commission purged records and suppressed Dax’s memories of Joran’s existence in order to cover it up out of fear the symbionts would become a commodity people would sell and fight over to possess.

Sisko agrees to continue the cover up if Dax is spared. The only way she can do so is to embrace the violet memories of Joran instead of suppressing them. In a scene reminiscent of Equus, Dax embraces the murderous memories in order to find peace.

“Equilibrium” is a fascinating episode for several reasons. One, it makes Dax into a more appealing character for me. No small feat, that. I cannot stand Barbie Dax. Two, it demonstrates further that Sisko will go to unethical lengths to serve what he considers the greater good. In this case, he is willing to cover up what could be a major change to trill for the better, with more joined trill working to improve society, in order to save his friend. I suspect Picard, for instance, would have had a tough time taking part in the cover up while demanding his crewmember be saved. But then again, Janeway probably would have left one of her crew die in order to maintain the cover up, so it balances out. Finally, there is a comradelier revealed among the main cast, sans Quark and conspicuously O’Brien, as they all meet at Sisko’s for dinner. It is something that has been missing up until this point. They never particularly seemed to like each other up until now.

Do not get used to me enjoying Dax episodes, but I like this one a lot.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Olivia Wilde

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hidden Back Door to the Public Option Exposed

Since the progressive solution to any problem is more government, the best way to pave theway for more government is to create a problem in the first place. Employee insurance mandate is the created problem. Eventually, progressives will say a single payer public option is the solution.

Legislation passed last night requires small employers a $ 750 annual fee for foregoing providing health insurance and large employers a $ 750 annual fee per employee for the privilege of not providing insurance. The fixed Senate bill may raise the penalty to $2,000-3,000.

Either way, it might be cheaper for an employer to pay the penalty fee rather than provide insurance for employees. Granted, in better economic times it may become necessary to offer insurance when there is a surplus of qualified potential employees seeking jobs, but I lean times, a job is a job. This potentially leaves a large number of people without insurance, for which progressives would cite the need for a public option to cover.

Is this a devious plan or incompetent legislative drafting? Those fees do not sound horribly prohibitive for progressives, many of whom fear people are making too much money, to set. Considering the general economic illiteracy of progressives, either is likely. Whatever the reason, the solution they are going to offer up is clear.

What this really illustrates is what an awful piece of legislation this is. It purports to insure more people, but does the exact opposite. Even its supporters ought not be happy that such a flawed bill passed

V for Vendetta Speech

Definitely worth a listen on a day like today:

The Tough Realities and Responsibilites of Healthcare Reform

I avoided speculating on the whip count all last week because it would have been ultimately been pointless no matter how the vote went. Likewise, I will not participate in the farfetched speculation the Senate will defeat the bill or it can be repealed by the state attorneys general lawsuit, two-thirds of the state legislatures, a United states Supreme Court challenge, or a landslide Republican victory in November. It is too early and often far too fanciful to talk about such things. Let us embrace reality.

You lost at least 4% of your annual income last night along with a myriad of other nasty surprises that even the Democrats who vote for it do not know about since they never bothered to read the darn thing. Nancy Pelosi even declared a couple weeks ago that the only way to know what is in ObamaCare is to pass it. That ought to inspire confidence in our elected leadership. Regardless of the specifics which I am confident are even worse than we imagine, the bottom line is the character of this country has been forever changed.

It is the psychology of entitlement. Even when forced to pay higher taxes for a government benefit, people begin to feel a sense of ownership even if they are ideologically opposed to the program. For instance, those forced to pay into social security expect to get a return when they retire. Even though it is a huge entitlement program and a ponzi scheme conservatives ought to despise, even Republicans arewary of messing with the program because people have come to rely o the benefit.

Such will probably happen to ObamaCare because it is unlikely to be repealed anytime soon, if at all. The program is going to become a money gobbling behemoth that wil eventually eat into other vital government functions, particularly the defense budget. One of the reason European governments have been able to (barely) afford their huge social entitlement programs is because they have been under the implied protection of the United States military. That is going to slowly ebb away now.

The bottom line is that the future tax hikes ad budget cuts, along with long lines, doctor shortages, rationing, and fewer medical breakthroughs all rest squarely on the shoulders of the Democrats who did not even bother to learn all of what their legislation was giving them control. Every conceivable problem that will come from ObamaCare is their sole responsibility. Whether ObamaCare can be stopped or not, we have to hold them accountable for the grave responsibility they just insanely took upon themselves.

Deep Space Nine--"The House of Quark"

“The House of Quark” is a personal favorite because Quark is handled the way I like him best--comedic, yet heroic when the situation calls for it. Not farcical, mind you. Such happens way too much-- *cough* ”Profit and Lace” *cough* --but hitting all the right notes.

A drunk Klingon named Kozak becomes enraged when he thinks quark will not start a bar tab for him and lunges at the Ferengi with his knife. Kozak trips and falls on the blade accidentally, killing himself. Quark decides to pull a “Seven in One Blow” con in order to drum up business and claim he killed Kozak in self-defense.

It works until Kozak’s family shows up. First, his estranged brother D’Ghor wants quark to confirm his brother died in battle because if Kozak had truly died in battle, the Klingon High Council will allow him to take over, but if it was an accident, special circumstance would allow Kozak’s widow, Grika, to take over without a hitch. D’Ghor frightens quark into perpetuating the lie.

Grika then shows up, kidnaps Quark, and forces him into a shotgun wedding to iherit Kozak’s house. Quark uncovers that d’Ghor has been assaulting Kovac’s finances for years in order to take over. Now that Quark is head of the house, he has theadded obstacle of killing him.

Face with dueling with D’Ghor or heading for the hills, Quark chooses the hills.

But he has a change of heart when he considers Grika will be ruined. He meets D’Ghor for the duel, but refuses to fight. D’Ghor will just have to kill an unarmed Ferengi to get the house. D’Ghor is more than happy to do so, but he is stopped by Gowron, who thinks there is no honor in killing a Ferengi who will not fight back. D’Ghor is shunned and thrown out of the Great hall. Grika is grated control of house and divorces Quark.

The B story involves Keiko’s school closing down because families are moving off DS9 because of the Dominion threat. O’Brien arranges for her to o on a botany expedition for six months to get her our of the way in order to explore the O’Brien/Bashir friendship more. Meh. Okay.

“The House of Quark” strikes a humorous, fun stand alone story. It is something DS9 does not always do very well. It serves as the beginning of something else DS9 will do well--Klingons. All throughout TNG, Klingons were more like Viking barbarians with no culture or soul to them. Even Worf was there to do little more than smash things he did not understand. Deep Space Nine converted Klingons from Viings to shoguns. A much improved change that will really start to fly when worf joins the cast next season.

Rating: *** (out of 5)