Friday, May 29, 2015

Dennis Hastert: Inappropriate toucher

According to the New York Times:
The former student — who was not identified in court papers — told the F.B.I. that he had been inappropriately touched by Mr. Hastert when the former speaker was a high school teacher and wrestling coach, the two people said Friday. The people briefed on the investigation spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a federal investigation.
Man, that must have been some "inappropriate touching" to be worth $3.5 million! How would you prove you were inappropriately touched thirty years ago?

Well, good for his former student! It sounds like he or she hasn't gotten the full three and a half million bucks, but I hope the law leaves him or her alone to enjoy what money he or she got.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

I'm afraid I'm with Dennis Hastert on this one

Long ago, the Supreme Court ruled that turning around to avoid a police checkpoint was not probable cause for the police to chase you down and arrest you.

You'd think that the same principle would apply to withdrawing money from the bank. If you withdraw over ten thousand dollars, bank officials will question you about it. So Dennis Hastert quit withdrawing more than ten thousand dollars at a time. So the FBI questioned him for THAT.

I'm not sure why it was their business, but they questioned him and he told them he took it out because he didn't trust banks.

So now they've charged him with lying to the FBI because he was actually paying off a blackmailer. I guess it was blackmail. They agreed to the amount he would pay to compensate the person for something Hastert once did to them and they agreed to keep it all confidential. Is that really blackmail?

I'm a little curious about what Hastert was paying $3.5 million to conceal. It must have been bad, whatever it was. And the so-called blackmailer lived in the town where Hastert had been a teacher and wrestling coach. So what could a coach or a teacher have done that would be so shameful that he'd be willing to pay millions to keep it quiet? What could it possibly be?

And another thing, where would an ex-teacher and ex-wrestling coach get three and a half million dollars?

But I'm afraid I'm with Hastert on this one. Intentionally not violating banking regulations is not a violation of banking regulations and if the FBI says he lied, they better have it on tape. It was recently revealed that FBI "experts" perjured themselves in hundreds of cases:
The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.

Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.

The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.

If they'd lie to get an innocent person executed, you don't think they lie about Dennis Hastert, who apparently did something so monstrous that he agreed to pay his victim millions?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Why is the US going after FIFA?

The U.S. is claiming the right to prosecute anyone for anything they do anywhere in the world. They fined a French bank for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran that aren't in effect in France. Now they're prosecuting FIFA, The Fédération Internationale de Football Association, and is vowing to "end graft" in an organization that has nothing to do with the United States. If Europeans have any self-respect (they don't) they'll refuse to extradite.

What does the U.S. government care? Why are they vowing to "stamp out" alleged corruption that has nothing to do with us?

It might be because the World Cup tournament will take place in Russia in 2018 and because FIFA may finally take action against Israel for preventing Palestinian players from traveling to events, from getting needed equipment and preventing their full participation. Palestinians have petitioned for Israel to be kicked out of FIFA, so the Zionists are frantically trying to get support from other members.

They should kick the United States out, too.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dustin Diamond on trial

Dustin Diamond when he was younger and better-looking. 

He's obviously guilty

So, it seems that, sometime before he stabbed a man in a bar, Dustin Diamond threatened to murder another patron because he refused to "chug" a bottle of Smirnoff Ice. This was something calling "Icing"---it had been a fad among frat boys for a short time about five years ago.

"You've been iced. Get on your knees and drink this," Diamond said.

The guy refused. Diamond sent his "fiancee" over to try to persuade him. Then Diamond walked into the middle of the room and said, "Don't make me stab someone on Christmas."

Diamond has made death threats before

Diamond makes threats like this a lot, and on national television. In 2008, he threatened Brian Dunkleman on Celebrity Fit Club: Bootcamp.
Diamond: No, you don't understand. People better watch their ass, because I could show up at your house and fucking knife you in the gut.

Dunkleman: That's a weird thing to say.

Diamond: Hey, you piss me off and I justify it and I have the skill and technique [Diamond made a faux karate chop with his hands] ... You'd better watch your ass. I'll gut you motherfucker. You watch your ass. I'll kill your fucking ass!"
Diamond claimed to be in contact with the terrorist group The Jewish Defense League. This wasn't long after the leader of the JDL, Irv Rubin, committed suicide in jail while awaiting trial for plotting to blow up a mosque and to bomb the office of U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa. Issa was of Lebanese descent.

They're reporting that Diamond won't take any plea deal that includes jail time.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mr Holland's Opus again

Mr Holland berates his deaf son for being 
too deaf to appreciate John Lennon.

Mr Holland's Opus is on TV in the next room.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, The key to understanding the movie is the ending, when all his old students come back and play his lousy "opus" that he had been working on for decades. It was just terrible. On top of that, his students all start telling him what they do for a living now and you notice that not one of them has become a musician.

That's the whole point of school music programs---to make sure kids don't throw their lives away trying to be musicians. They play jazz and classical music, the two most difficult and least popular styles.

At one point, Mr Holland throws another tantrum and demands that a student write a paper SINGLE-SPACED. Why? Does he know what single-spaced means? He seems to think he's being extra-demanding as a teacher because he wants a paper written single-spaced. He then demands that the same student attend the funeral of a recent graduate who was killed in Vietnam. This is supposed to inspire him to do better in his "Music Appreciation" class.

Mr Holland seems like a jerk. He's plainly the aggressor in his music-oriented Oedipal conflict with his deaf son.

I never liked music. I forced myself to take music classes because my older brother and sister did, but I was so happy when I quit. I've never understood why people think that sitting in a classroom and playing something note-for-note as written and trying to sound exactly like everyone else in the room is "creative".

At my high school, one of the music teachers divorced his wife and married one of his students as soon as she turned 18. Before that, he and the girl would spend their lunch hours together locked in one of the windowless "practice rooms" in the music department. At a local middle school, they bully children into taking music classes. For their "electives", they can either pay a fee to take a music class or they'll be shunted off into something called "Study Skills" which they would have to take over and over, semester after semester, until they agreed to pay. It was an extortion operation, forcing children to pay so that a few Mr Holland-like municipal employees could pretend to be musicians.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Gregory Walcott on Bonanza

Watched Plan 9 From Outer Space's Gregory Walcott in a 1960 episode of Bonanza. This was the first season of Bonanza. I'm a little surprised they had color TV back then. The episode is public domain and something possessed me to watch it on Roku.

Walcott plays an obnoxious cackling psychopath named Farmer Perkins. I didn't realize "Farmer" was a first name. He murders a bartender, is tried and sentenced to death and they'll execute him right there in town. He's convinced his gang will free him. The criminals kidnap Lorne Greene and, if Gregory Walcott hangs, so will he! After the sheriff is killed, Adam, Hoss and Little Joe are in charge for some reason and are intent on carrying out the execution. Pretty sick really.

They avoided certain controversies over the death penalty by showing Walcott commit the murder and cheerfully confess to it and all the others he committed. He once murdered a preacher for preachin' at him.

It might have been more interesting if Farmer Perkins had been an actual farmer, if he had killed the bartender for political reasons, if Gregory Walcott had been a member of a persecuted religious minority and if his co-religionists had kidnapped Lorne Greene, if Gregory Walcott had been horribly traumatized in the war and had post traumatic stress disorder, if Adam tried to get information on where they might be holding Lorne Greene by questioning the town's sex workers. Also, if they had a novel form of execution. And if the executioner was either a sadistic psychopath or a horribly traumatized emotional wreck, desperately needing the job to care for his invalid wife and children but horrified at what he has to do.

As it was, the episode was pretty dull, with the three of them sitting around the sheriff's office gabbing.

Charlie Hebdo, PEN Freedom of Expression Courage Award

Many years ago, back in the late '70s, I was looking at a book of political cartoons by Tony Auth. The introduction to the book included a letter and a drawing sent to him by a 5-year-old with a suggestion for a cartoon. The child's cartoon showed Richard Nixon riding a bicycle naked with the caption, "Let me make this perfectly clear."

That kindergartener's cartoon was far more intelligent and drawn almost as well as the crap in Charlie Hebdo. 

Now I hear Charlie Hebdo has received some sort of PEN award for free expression. Pro-Israeli feminist Katha Pollitt wrote some nonsense in The Nation claiming that the magazine was somehow actually anti-racist.

It's too bad for them, but if those guys were really France's greatest cartoonists, their deaths might be a boon to cartooning as an artform. It gets them out of the way and hopefully makes room for someone who can actually draw and has something funny or intelligent to say. Just trying to look on the bright side.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Sister (L'Enfant d'en haut)

Watched a movie called Sister, (L'Enfant d'en haut) (Switzerland, 2012). A 12-year-old boy lives in an apartment with his older sister. The boy supports them both by stealing from the wealthy tourists at a luxury ski resort. He refurbishes stolen skis and sells them. 

It was hard for me to watch. Two young people with a vaguely tragic past, a lousy present and no future, cut off from any support from family. It made me think of Midnight Cowboy, except Ratso Rizzo and Joe Buck were on the same page. In this movie, the sister seems ready to abandon the kid. The fact that he's bankrolling them may be the main thing stopping her. 

In one scene, the kid wants to sleep in bed with her. She lets him, but he has to pay her.

Never be mean to a child even if you catch him stealing your skis.

Available for instant viewing on Netflix.