Friday, January 13, 2006

A Little of the Old In and Out


(image via Harrywalker)

In: Larence O'Donnell. Lawrence O'Donnell, the Executive Producer of the West Wing and former Chief of Staff to the Senate Finance Committee has written an intriguing Op-Ed in the LATimes today. The subject is "The Age of Abramoff" and what precisely led us to this particular fine mess we find ourselves in.

In essence, O'Donnell says, it is when legislators begin to set up rules to maintain their power out of fear of losing their majority. Corruption, it seems, arises out of the mechanics of holding on to power. O'Donnell writes:

"There are honorable lobbyists. I dealt with them every day. By honorable lobbyists I do not mean just the ones who did pro-bono lobbying for charities. When a giant corporation such as Kodak sends its high-priced lobbying team in to talk to you about how Fuji is violating international trade laws, you listen � because Kodak is the last manufacturer of film left in the United States and the biggest employer in Rochester, N.Y. Yes, Kodak's lobbyists are trying to protect corporate profits, but they are also trying to protect American jobs and save Rochester from becoming a ghost town. Only the most zealous Marxist could fail to see the honor in that lobbying campaign.

"Good lobbyists tell you something you don't know � say, why teaching hospitals need more money for doctor training. They tell you what they think you should do about it, how to pay for it and, most important, who opposes it and why. They know their opposition is going to be lobbying you too, so they don't say anything that can be proved wrong in your next meeting.

"There aren't enough congressional staffers to keep track of the hundreds of thousands of issues under federal jurisdiction. Good government needs good lobbyists. In the last 11 years of Republican rule of the House, good lobbyists have lost much of their turf to bad lobbyists and some criminal lobbyists. It's all about the money.

"Republican congressmen, led by Tom DeLay of Texas, dramatically increased the pressure on lobbyists for campaign contributions for two reasons: The Republicans had a very small majority, and they believed they were only doing what the Democrats had been doing for the 40 years they controlled the House.But in those 40 years, Democrats never worried about losing the House. They had huge majorities � 149 seats under Tip O'Neill, 83 seats on the day they lost the majority. Democrats were much less insistent fundraisers than Republicans are now because they were confident � wrongly � that they would never lose the House.

"Republicans, having seen their own margin slip to as low as eight seats, rightly feel that control of the House is up for grabs every two years. During the 40 years that House Republicans were a powerless group locked out of every governing decision, they understandably got some crazy ideas about what was going on behind the Democrats' closed doors."

An interesting idea. More here.


(image via theage)

Out: The Sydney Papparazi. The Corsair likes the impromptu exposed celebrity ass-crack pic as much as anyone (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment), but sometimes they go to far. Like in this instance, via yahoo (via ohnotheydidnt):

"Five paparazzi photographers whom Heath Ledger allegedly spat at have retaliated at the Sydney premiere of his new movie - shooting the actor with water pistols."

Oh no they didn't.

"As Ledger arrived with partner Michelle Williams at Cinema Paris at Fox Studios on Friday night, the photographers took aim at the Hollywood heart-throb with the toys.

"They hit him in the face and chest, wetting his hair and clothing, in an action taking some 10 seconds.Ledger put his hands up to protect himself and tried to shield his partner, who was also hit by the water, as they moved quickly inside the cinema complex.

"Upon seeing the incident, security guards moved towards the paparazzi but the five had left the scene.Veteran paparazzi photographer Peter Carrette, who was not (not) involved in the incident, told AAP: 'Enough is enough.'"


(image via gothampublicworks)

In: Johnny Depp, Joker? How inspired is this casting: Johnny Depp as The Joker and Rachel Weisz as Harley Quinn in the Batman Begins sequel? According to Cinematical:

"Those of you who are regular readers of Cinematical are already fully aware of the ever-revolving rumor mill regarding the two major Bat-villians for the upcoming Begins sequel. Well, over at moviehole a 'fly on the wall' has dropped some rather interesting information into the increasingly odd mix. First, we'll start with the Joker, as it seems like every actor in Hollywood is interested in the part. Their fly confirms the popularity of the part, but indicates that the studio (with the very excited blessing of Nolan himself) are interested in bringing on a VERY big name for the role. Rumor has it that said name says he may be interested, if the script is right. Who, you ask? Well the fly puts it this way:

"'Let�s just say that he has a major film coming out this summer and it�s a sequel to one of his biggest hits. In fact, his performance in the first movie was nominated for an Oscar.'

"The first name that leaps to mind given that description is of course Johnny "Captain Jack" Depp, who would be quite a big name indeed. His name has been tossed about the casting rumor before, but never with any legitimacy.

"Second rumor regards a femme-fatale character, who would be making her first appearance in Batman film history. Let's turn to the fly for the scoop and the casting rumor:

"Regarding the character- 'she has a very close connection with a major character in Nolan�s first Batman movie. She will be out for revenge against Bruce Wayne and Gotham in a major way.'

"Regarding the actress- 'let�s just say that she is nominated for a SAG, a Golden Globe and is on her way to an Oscar nomination as well. She is also in fact five months pregnant and will be in tip top fighting shape once production begins to roll early next year but not before she throws a few coins in a fountain.'

"When I first read pregnant I thought 'dear Lord not the Tomb Raider,' but then the rest of the words in the description processed and I realized that Rachel Weisz is probably the call here."

More here.

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