Monday, September 29, 2008

Congressman Price Explain Bailout Vote

I heard from Congressman David Price (NC-4) today in response to my message to his office expressing reservations about the Paulson bailout plan.

Here is the bulk of his reply:


Thank you for contacting me about our country's financial crisis and the proposed recovery legislation. Today the House defeated this legislation, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, by a vote of 205 to 228, despite my support.

Like you, I do not have any interest in "bailing out" Wall Street firms and business leaders who have speculated recklessly, endangered our country's consumers and homebuyers, and resisted regulation that would protect the public interest. My concern is for Main Street - for the people depending on a sound economy and the availability of credit to buy a house or car, to run their business and meet payroll, and to save for college and retirement.

Like it or not, we are all in this together, and the entire economy is threatened as we teeter on the edge of a 1929-style meltdown. Today Wachovia Bank, a North Carolina mainstay, collapsed. But this goes much deeper than bank failures. Last week, the City of Raleigh could not find a buyer for a $300 million bond, and Wake County cancelled its planned $472 million bond issue for school construction, Wake Tech, libraries, and open space acquisition. Both have AAA bond ratings.

Although President Bush lacks the credibility to be of much help, I take the dire warnings of economic analysts very seriously, particularly in light of everything that has happened in the last few weeks. But I could not support Secretary Paulson's request for a blank check for $700 billion to purchase mortgage-backed securities and stabilize the markets.

I thus became part of the intensive discussions over the last ten days to rewrite the Treasury plan in several critical respects. The legislation which came before us today would:

o Provide strict independent oversight and accountability for all activities undertaken by the US Treasury

o Release the $700 billion in installments, with multiple reviews along the way

o Make certain that the entire $700 billion is recaptured by the Treasury and thus by the American taxpayer, by requiring that taxpayers share in any profits resulting from the government's help and providing for assessment of the financial industry for any remaining losses

o Forbid "golden parachutes" and limit other compensation for executives of participating financial institutions.

o Require the government to work with participating institutions and loan servicers to help deserving homeowners negotiate reasonable repayment terms and stay in their homes

The defeat of the bill prolongs and perhaps deepens the crisis. Coordinating with the Senate, the House will need to return within days to try again. Perhaps the economic situation will then lead some members to reconsider. Perhaps the bill can be changed in ways that attract a majority; I certainly have a list of improvements I would like to see. But considering the members who voted "no," I will want to scrutinize carefully any changes designed to attract them.

I am committed over the next few days to continue working to avert financial collapse and get the best possible deal for America's taxpayers and homeowners. I welcome and share your concern about this situation and will be glad to hear from you at any time.


Okay, this is Ken speaking now:

I'm glad that Congressman Price was in favor of the changes made to the Paulson plan, and I'm pleased he took the time to explain his vote and own it rather than, as some might do, avoid any comments so that he could disavow a vote by saying it was in favor of or against some alternative plan or language.

Whatever the results, I'm happy that more people are contacting their representatives and we are seeing some accountability from our representatives in terms of explaining their positions to the people they represent.

NC 4th -- Price votes for Bailout

For what it's worth, my congressman, David Price, voted in favor of the proposed bailout, according to the roll-call republished at

I contacted his office (as well as those of Senators Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr) last week expressing some concerns about the Paulson plan and have not received a response. (This in itself isn't unacceptable as they've been busy, I suppose, but I've been unable to access his web page all day. I'd sure like to hear our elected representatives and candidates articulate their reasons for why they voted the way they did.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Go Camels

Congratulations to coach Dale Steele and his Campbell University Football team for their first victory Saturday. The Fighting Camels defeated Carthage 36-27 in Kenosha, Wisconsin to break the Red Men's streak of 16 consecutive non-conference victories. May it be the first of many.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Movie Embargoes and Debates

As an amateur (I hope in the best sense of the word) film critic, I sometimes find amusing some of my colleagues' concerns over studio "embargoes"--requests (or, in some cases demands) that critics not post reviews until a film has actually opened nationwide (or in some instances someplace else; or, in some instances, wherever they are).

A studio, of course, can't tell a critic when to print anymore than what to print, but it can refuse advance screening or access to stars for critics who don't toe the line. (That those sorts of junkets or interviews are more marketing than analysis, making it an idle threat--the studio wants exposure--seems moot.)

Anyhow, I've only ever been to two advanced screenings as an invited critic for a publishing venue, so that's usually not a problem. And it's not really what I want to talk about, anyway. What I want to talk about is John McCain winning Friday night's debate.

Now I'm sure that a bunch of you pansy, left-leaning, liberal pig-hating, lipstick-smearing liberals are probably complaining out there that as of this moment, the debate has not actually happened. Heck, some of you may be complaining that we don't know for sure if McCain will actually show up for Friday night's debate. But, unlike Obama, he doesn't have to show up to win. Because like the studios that want to do embargoes, the GOP knows that you don't need for the debate to actually happen before you declare yourself a winner any more than you need your film to open in order to declare it a hit.

Why am I reminded of the time I was assigned to do a review of Sky High and found a marketing website that reported I had given it three stars...before I actually wrote the review? Why am I feeling like, in spite of the GOP attack ads calling Obama a "celebrity" that it is John McCain who is the one being marketed like a movie...right down to the embargo?

I can almost hear the, spinning their logic: "We don't want anyone to write about the performance before hand so that people can make up their own minds...and so that we can have a monopoly, until the performance opens, on talking about it and shaping public opinion."

P.S. I take some comfort in the fact that in my experience, the more insistent a studio is about an embargo before a nation-wide opening, the more likely that the film is a dog. Senator McCain's stunt is good politics, though. If, as expected, he does poorly in the debate, he (and his lap dogs) can cite distraction, poor preparation, and patriotism (I didn't want to do it, but my opponent cared more about the campaign than the work). If he does better than expected, then he can say, "Hey, I knew I was going to win and was still willing to give up doing it...see what a patriot I am." If one low-balls expectations enough, any opening at all is a hit.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

And You Wonder Why People Hate HS Sports

So, um, let me get this straight...

The coach walks into a cabin and finds a group of players holding down another player with one participant about to sodomize the victim with a broomstick and his response is "cut it out"?

Later, he finds out that several players had already been subject to this "hazing" and the response is, well, we thought we had stopped it?

You know, I hate double-speak.

There's "hazing," there's "bullying," and then there is "felony rape." Have we really defined deviancy down to the point where shoving a broomstick up someone's rectum is considered "sexual harassment"?

Somebody please tell me the reason these kids aren't in jail is not because they happen to be starters.

Story here.

According to state police reports, a group of juniors assaulted several younger teammates over two days, holding the victims down while a broomstick was forced into their rectums over their athletic shorts.

Police did not find out about it from school officials; instead, a state police officer whose son is on the team learned of the allegations through his wife, a camp volunteer.


"These are young kids in a difficult, difficult environment," said Bob Rothstein, an attorney for several victims' families. "They have to go to school every day and they're still trying to play football on the team. They certainly didn't want to be exposed in this way."

School Superintendent Rick Romero said spectators at some opposing schools have taunted the Robertson girls' soccer team and a middle school girls' volleyball team with "references to broomsticks and other very inappropriate sexual innuendoes."

A school district investigation released earlier this month accused the coaching staff of not adequately supervising the players and failing to look into the initial reports of hazing. District Attorney Henry Valdez in Santa Fe said coaches and school administrators could face charges of failing to report child sexual abuse.

According to a state police report, an assistant coach told the other coaches during training camp "that some sort of hazing incident involving broomsticks was happening." Another coach walked into a cabin to see "a player on his stomach on the ground, with his legs spread open," while a teammate held a broomstick, the police report said. The coach told the players to "cut it out" and the group broke up.

Romero said the coaches believed they had intervened in time to stop a hazing incident. But "as our investigation has unfolded, we learned that it had already happened," the superintendent said.


In an interview, Romero said school officials did not immediately notify authorities because they were not sure exactly what had happened.

"We were doing things based on the best information we had," he said. "At that time, neither I nor the athletic director, nor, I believe, the head coach knew the degree of the severity of the actions."

Romero said lessons about bullying -- already a regular part of the elementary school curriculum -- are planned with students at all grades. High school students will also learn about sexual harassment.

"This was a very violent, very serious form of bullying," the superintendent said. "Until we do a better job of identifying and dealing with it, this is not going to be the last time we hear about it."

Bartlett and Obama

Maureen Dowd imagines a session between Senator Barack Obama and The West Wing's Jed Bartlett. She's got Aaron Sorkin's clever patter down pat:

OBAMA What would you do?

BARTLET GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence. While you’re at it, I want the word “patriot” back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn’t know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can’t do both at the same time and call it patriotic. They have to lie — the truth isn’t their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they’ve earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It’s not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense too? It’s not bad enough she’s forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction too? It’s not enough that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist’s baby too? I don’t know whether or not Governor Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she’s got the qualifications of one. And you’re worried about seeming angry? You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!

Friday, September 19, 2008

The End of an Era

In perhaps one of the great unrecognized achievements in the history of literary and cultural criticism, Fred Clark over at Slacktivist today completed his scene by scene close reading of Left Behind, explaining why it gets his vote for the worst book of all time.

Unfolding over the course of five years "Left Behind Fridays" (the day of the week Fred normally posts his analysis) were and are a tour de force of formal analysis, critical thinking, and good humor.

Fridays will continue with discussions of the film adaptation and its sequels, but the completion of the de(con)struction of the first book is a significant milestone.

Bravo, Slacktivist. Bravo.

Still Walking (2008)

I've completed my write-ups of the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival with a review of Kore-eda's Still Walking. Thanks to Jeffrey Overstreet at Looking Closer for the review space.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

That Other Thing...the Opposite of Losing

So, I managed to take first place in the Masters (i.e. over 40) division of the monthly at OT Sloan in Sanford on Saturday, carding two rounds of 51 and 49 respectively. (The latter being the best score I've carded at that course in about three years and providing evidence that I may actually be getting a little better.) Yes, there were only five players in the division, but hey, a win is a win, and it was my first cash playing singles in about two years. (I don't think I would have won had the full retinue of usuall players been there, but based on past experience, I do think I would have cashed anyway; some of the local players were at the PDGA tournament in Cary, I think.)

So, all hail me. Victory is mine.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Obama on the Economy

Link to his remarks reprinted at The Washington Post.

Once again, in response to a current issue, we see Barack Obama being thoughtful, articulate, and honest--mixing specific policies with a rhetoric of compassion and understanding, in sharp comparison to John McCain's empty rhetoric and dishonest (and, increasingly, in times of crisis, dangerous) spin.

Obama is certainly elite when compared to McCain, who is merely elitist. The former means one of a very few. The latter means one who works in service of the very few.

Come on, people, open your eyes.

This election shouldn't even be close.

Lorna's Silence (2008)

My review of the new film by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne is now available at Looking Closer.

Thanks to Jeffrey Overstreet for the review space.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wendy and Lucy (2008)

Many thanks to Jeffrey Overstreet for sharing blog space over at Looking Closer. Here is a link to my review for Wendy and Lucy at that site.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pressing Question of the Day

How does one keep Ipod earbuds from getting tangled up every time one momentarily puts them away? It seems like every time I sync my Ipod or put it in my shirt pocket (like while driving), the next time I use it I spend two-three minutes untangling the ear buds. Do this a couple of times a day and that's 10-15 minutes of my life every couple of days. So what's the solution? (Preferably one that doesn't entail buying some earbuds that are three times more expensive.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Two Legged Horse (2008)

Jeffrey Overstreet has graciously uploaded my review of Samira Makhmalbaf's Two Legged Horse. Here's the link to his blog, Looking Closer.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

More TIFF Reviews.

Jeffrey Overstreet at Looking Closer has been graciously providing me with space for some reviews of films at Toronto.

He has uploaded my review of Three Monkeys by Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Peter Sollet. More to come.

And thanks to Green Cine Daily for the blurb!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Apron Strings (2008)

Jeffrey Overstreet over at Looking Closer has once again graciously provided me with review space for selected films from the Toronto International Film Festival.

First up, Apron Strings, a nice little discovery from New Zealand about two families, one white, one of Indian descent, and how food acts as a focal point for an examination of the ways environment (familial or cultural) can and can't be escaped.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


So I arrived at the counter for Air Canada (United, actually serving as their US partner) at 5:16 a.m. and was told the "cut off" for my flight was 5:15 and that they would therefor refuse to check me in or give me my boarding pass.

So I had to call Air Canada at 5:20 and have them rebook me for a 10:50 flight (despite the fact that the plane I was booked on still wasn't leaving for another 40 minutes) and got charged $50 for inconveniencing them. Sigh.

So, I'm strolling through the gate terminal trying to find some space that doesn't have CNN blaring out of a speaker playing some paid Republican pundit trying to spin the Sarah Palin nomination with a straight face. Over and over. On a 3-5 minute loop.

I think hell must be a little like this...only, you know, without the promise of Toronto after a few hours of torment.

Leaving On a Jet Plane...

On the way to the airport.

Next stop, Toronto.

First up: Three Monkeys by Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

NFL Picks and Survivor

A core group of friends and I usually play NFL pickem for fun and Survivor for fun (on Yahoo!). If you want to join, here is the info:

Password: Ken

Survivor:Group #10082
Password: Ken