Friday, February 25, 2011

New Idea For Lawmakers

I recently heard an NPR "On Point" report on the current republican plan to attack "abortions" by eliminating federal funding for the Planned Parenthood company. You can listen to this show here. The basic argument made by Kellie Fiedorek, who is part of Americans United for Life (a conservative party whose interest is in abolishing abortions) is that:

  1. 70% of Americans are against abortions (no source given, which makes it a suspect figure).
  2. Planned Parenthood gives abortions to everyone that requests them.
  3. Planned Parenthood is partially government funded.
  4. We are in a recession.

Their reasoning then is that because we don't have the money and because the majority of Americans are against abortions we should eliminate Planned Parenthood from the budget.

First off, I think that we need to get some facts straight:

  1. According to this Gallup poll, only about 51% of Americans are pro-life, compared to 42% pro-choice, which is for the most part statistically insignificant. 70% of all Republican-leaning self-identified Americans are pro-life, so according to Ms. Fiedorek the rest of us aren't real Americans (more on that later).
  2. Yes, Planned Parenthood does provide abortions, but abortions are still legal. Actually, about 76% of Americans feel that abortions should be legal in all or some cases. Only about 22% feel that they should be illegal in all cases.
  3. Planned Parenthood isn't just about abortions. They also provide sex education, rape counseling, family planning, and contraceptives in an environment that teens don't have to be ashamed or afraid of, and at a subsidized cost for families that couldn't afford these services normally.
  4. We are in this recession because of government deregulation compounded by corporate greed, which is the only thing that has "trickled down" to the consumer in recent years.

Have you noticed yet that all of the recent Republican rhetoric has focused on eliminating programs and aid to the lower and lower-middle class? There is no talk of cutting or overhauling the biggest drains on our budget (Defense spending, Medicare, and Medicaid) on the Republican side, even though these programs have proven time and again to be bloated, inefficient, and unsustainable. This got me looking a bit closer at Kellie Fiedorek too. She is a svelte, attractive 20-something graduate of the University of Dallas and The Ave Maria School of Law. Her impressive and sudden rise to the spotlight indicates a few things to me:

  1. Kellie was not raised in a single-parent household (or that single parent happened to be independently wealthy, but I'm speculating).
  2. Kellie's parents are not wanting in funds (that perfect smile indicates a rather expensive dental plan) or at least made collectively more than $40K a year.
  3. Kellie was raised in a very religious household, or at least practices religion whenever she can (The Ave Maria School of Law is a Catholic school).
  4. Kellie has probably (again, speculation) never been the victim of a violent sexual assault.

Now, if any of those things are true (and they very probably are, but let's face it -- Kellie isn't going to lend me her memoirs any time soon) my point is this: WHERE THE HELL DOES KELLIE FIEDOREK GET OFF TELLING OTHER PEOPLE HOW TO LIVE THEIR LIVES?!

I mean, she's had no first-hand experience (that I can see in her profile) with any of the situations that underprivileged and hard-working families have to face, and is therefore NOT qualified to comment on any of these situations. Since we're on rote generalization, her hands-over-her-ears interrupting of other speakers during the "On Point" session makes her seem like the spoiled, entitled, snobbish rich girl that was hot enough in high school that all the boys would be nice to her, even though she had the personality of a prickly pear.

That got me thinking, "Why isn't there a system in place where only people with first hand knowledge of the effects of this get to vote on it?" I mean, rich old white men obviously shouldn't be able to write, maintain, or even determine these abortion laws and funding issues unless they have a relative (a close one, like a wife, mother, sister or daughter) who was in this sort of compromised position. I'm not saying that we should flood the country with federally-subsidized rapists, just that people with privilege and no first or even second-hand experience in these matters should not be able to vote against the experts, the people, and common sense on these issues. After all, think about what the world would be like if Kellie's axioms were applied to other things:

  1. People are hit with baseball bats every day.
  2. Baseball bats are made of wood.
  3. Wood is found in trees.
  4. Therefore, we must burn down all trees.
  1. 70% of Americans don't like hybrid cars.
  2. Hybrid cars run on gas and electricity.
  3. Gasoline engines are still more efficient.
  4. Therefore, I will pour gasoline in my toaster and get efficient toast.

You can basically use this reasoning to get rid of anything by ignoring everything outside of your argument.

And that, my friends, is why Sarah Palin will be our next president.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Cape, continued

So in the second half of what was clearly meant to be two episodes that the studio spliced together, The Cape continued as follows (spoilers ahoy!):

The Cape visits Chess in his penthouse and is stabbed by a knife guy named Cain, who is a master of poisons as well (although if he was master of either he wouldn't really need to be a master of both, would he?).

River from "Firefox" takes The Cape to Keith David who uses his smooth, smooth voice to talk the poison out of him... No, wait, he just puts leaches on The Cape's neck and injects him with even more poison. After The Cape recovers Keith David uses his smooth, smooth voice to tell him that he's not allowed to wear the cape anymore because it will kill him.

The Cape isn't going to take any of that crap and decides to set up his own base where he begins learning how to dodge knives and experiment with poisoning himself. He makes himself a crummy mask out of a much cooler one and goes out in his t-shirt and jeans to fight crime.

After being beaten bloody with baseball bats by some hoods he was interrogating, he makes one of them promise to meet him later and promptly lets him go. River shows up and tells him that Cain has a tarot card tattoo on his arm that indicates he's a member of some super secret bad society of bad guys called "Tarot" -- because what this show needs is more convoluted plot points.

The Cape, or rather, The T-Shirt goes to a bar to get info from the hood he mugged earlier, and is immediately witness to everyone in the bar dropping dead at the same time, because Cain used some new kind of poison that somehow killed everyone at once. Seriously. He must have bought them all a poisoned round and then left. No, wait... even the bartender chokes and dies so it's never properly explained what happened.

River discovers that a city councilman that has been shown in the background the whole episode is the only one standing in the way of Chess's bid to buy out the prison system. She theorizes that Cain is there to kill him, and begins tailing the Councilman.

Keith David gives the cape back to The Cape, and...

You know what? I can't sum this up anymore. If you want to watch it, go to and watch it.

It's a real shame, though. The show has fairly high production values but relies waaaaay too much on audiences caring about these underdeveloped characters. If they had put time into it, like stretched the Pilot out to four episodes instead of two and focused on one story arc, there wouldn't be a problem. As it stands though, it seems as if they were just trying to get through a bunch of cameos and then cram him into the costume as fast as possible. Seriously, there's a montage in the first half hour explaining his training.

As pleased as I am to see that the networks are putting superheroes back into costumes, this is not the way to do it. This is barely a step above "Nightman" on the cheese-o-meter, a shame considering that it has a lot of potential. The people who wrote this need to slow down and learn how to tell a story properly. I mean, bank-robbing circus people? BANK-ROBBING CIRCUS PEOPLE!

Just to compare:

Batman: Parents are killed by a mugger, trains to become the worlds greatest detective to prevent it from happening to anyone else.

Spider-Man: Awkward teenager is bitten by a radioactive spider and gains superpowers. Failing to stop his uncle's murderer teaches him that with great power comes great responsibility.

Superman: The last survivor of the doomed planet Krypton, raised by an elderly couple in America's heartland, becomes the symbol of truth, justice, and the American way.

F**k it, it doesn't even have to be a "classic" superhero...

The Black Hood (Impact Comics): A teenage boy inherits a mysterious mask from a dead superhero that compels him to fight evil, even at the cost of his own life.

The Count of Monte Cristo: Framed by his best friend for a crime he didn't commit, befriended by a mysterious old man who reveals a secret, a young man escapes and plots the downfall of those who wronged him in an elaborate revenge scheme.

Now, compare that to:

The Cape: Betrayed by his friends, framed for murder by a privatized police force, found by a circus troupe of bank robbers, he strikes a deal with them to save his own life, steals the identity of his kid's favorite comic book superhero in order to remain in the shadows so that his family won't be the targets of revenge while protecting people from an evil mastermind who has links to a group of shadowy evil masterminds while yadda yadda yadda.

Ugh. So much wasted potential. NBC seriously needs to fix things if they want people to keep watching. I know, why not "Heroes" but with costumes this time? That would make me happy, and all it would take is some yellow and blue spandex.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Cape

In this world of "Smallville," "Heroes," and "No Ordinary Family" type shows, I was excited to see that NBC was producing a superhero series that actually put the protagonist in a costume (even if it is a generic black one). So during the commercial breaks, I'm breaking down my observations of "The Cape."

So far, fifty minutes in I have been treated to an origin story that might be best described as... contrived? I don't know.

Generic family man cop hero meets supervillain (Chess), who kills his boss, the chief of police, which leads to the city privatizing the police force.

Chess then reveals that he's the boss of the private police force and frames generic cop for murder.

Generic cop evades police force, is seemingly killed, and is found by a band of bank-robbing circus performers lead by Keith David and his smooth, smooth voice.

Generic cop exchanges bank security info for training in how to defeat Chess, then goes out to fight crime as "The Cape."

Vinnie Jones shows up wearing snake scales and working for Chess, beats up The Cape, then The Cape meets River from "Firefox" who is a super-secret crime blogger with a lot of tech, and befriends her in like, three seconds.

Then Chess kidnaps Keith David and his smooth, smooth voice and has Vinnie Jones shoot him (Keith David, and his smooth smooth voice, though the actual act of shooting his voice is not depicted).

The Cape goes to rescue Keith David, and discovers that Chess has wired the boat that they're on to explode, but it doesn't and the The Cape chases Chess off of the boat.

Then The Cape goes to his wife's house and tells his son that he'll meet his father again eventually.

More on the second half and my closing thoughts as they develop.