Friday, April 3, 2015

5 Things on a Friday: Looking for an R-Rated Punisher

Busy week, but at last it's Friday. Let's get to it, yeah?
1. Why It Matters That Jeb Bush Defended Mike Pence (Slate)
In the five days since he signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a cadre of athletes, activists, and business leaders have condemned and criticized Gov. Mike Pence for ostensibly giving state sanction to anti-gay discrimination…
Okay.  But...
Standing in solidarity with Pence are Republican presidential candidates, who—more than the governor with his proposed “fix”—are wading against the stream of public opinion.
The first GOP hopeful to defend Pence was Jeb Bush, the would-be consensus candidate who scores a real win by beating Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul—the two men most clearly vying for conservative religious voters—to the punch. “I think Gov. Pence has done the right thing,” said Bush in an interview with Hugh Hewitt, an influential conservative radio host. “I think once the facts are established, people aren’t going to see this as discriminatory at all.”
I’m not gonna lie.  I am annoyed.  I don’t see the difference between this bill and one that allows for a return to the days of “Whites Only” diners and water fountains.  Plenty of people sited religious justifications for racial discrimination back in the days of Jim Crow, and it turned out then that the Federal Government had to protect citizens from the tyranny of states.  In fact, this pattern is typical in American political history.  That it’s repeating itself is not a surprise.  The surprise is that the so-called moderate Republican has jumped onto the bandwagon with the lunatic fringe.
Bush has been saying that he is a different kind of Republican.  He’s gone on Instagram to speak in Spanish from the street of New York City.  He’s in favor of Common Core and other educational reforms that I personally like.  That’s good!  But he’s done shit on wealth inequality, defending the most egregious tax break, and now here’s this.

Maybe this is just pandering to the base, but if it is, it’s the kind of pandering that can cost a guy later in the election season.  The vast majority of Americans have moved past this issue, and our wouldbe leaders need to get with the times.

2. Getting to Maybe (Slate)
According to reports coming out of the [Iran nuclear] talks, there appear to be three main disputes: the timing of the suspension (or outright lifting) of the sanctions; the extent to which Iran can develop and install new types of centrifuges, which can enrich uranium much more quickly; and whether international inspectors can gain access to Iranian military facilities.
I don’t see how there’s even the framework for a deal if these things are still on the table.  The Russians and Iranians both want sanctions lifted as soon as the deal is inked--before compliance and monitoring begin--but as the article notes, once sanctions are lifted, they’ll be very hard to put back in place.  It should be noted in passing that the Russians are not exactly friends these days.
That’s part of why this deal has always seemed iffy to me.  The Administration seems to want it, but then, they don’t seem to have a plan for much in the Middle East in any event, and if we’re not careful, we’ll be fighting for the Iranians in Iraq.  
I don’t get it.  
Iran has been trying to establish regional hegemony in the Middle East forever, and unfortunately, United States policy has done quite a lot to aid that quest over course of the last two decades.  We swept aside Saddam and cleared away the Taliban, finally establishing a pair of long-standing Iranian objectives.  Now Iran has free, unfettered access to both Iraqi oil and whatever passes for the Iraqi political process.  If we give them nuclear weapons, too, I expect we’ll see even more aggressive Iranian policies going forward.    
To put it another way, if Iran gets nuclear weapons, they will have an effective deterrent--perhaps the only effective deterrent--against direct American action.  This means that Iranian conventional forces will get a free hand against Middle Eastern foes, and I doubt that this is in anyone’s best interests.  Perhaps a deal can be worked out that includes a robust inspection regime, but failing that, we should keep whatever containment strategy we have in place.  Iran and Saudi Arabia are already fighting a proxy war in Yemen.  If Iran gets the bomb, they are very likely to up the ante, turning the proxy war into an old-fashioned war of conquest.

3.  Friday Hair Metal: Salty Dog (Come Along)
Believe it or not, this is absolutely the best version of this song on the web.  Somebody obviously shot it on their phone.
One of my favorite songs from high school.

Not a role model.
Marvel has put its Netflix shows under the Marvel Knights banner, which in the comics world was its brand name for books given the full-throttle PG-13 treatment--mostly for bloody violence.  Now Daredevil’s showrunner wants to do a Punisher series under that same banner--or maybe under the adults-only Marvel MAX banner.
In an interview with SciFiNow, Daredevil showrunner Steven DeKnight says the Punisher is "due" for a television series after Daredevil and calls himself a "huge fan."
"I’d love to see him get his due on a platform like this," says DeKNight. "Nothing would delight me more than to see the Punisher get his own show and maybe we could convince Marvel to go Hard-R rating. If any character deserves an R rating, it’s the Punisher.”
Fair point.  And we already know what that looks like.
Warning: don’t watch this one with the kids.

Law enforcement officials are investigating whether the explosion that destroyed three buildings and killed two men in the East Village last week resulted from an attempt to hide the unauthorized siphoning of natural gas for tenants in one of the buildings.
Their working theory is that one or more gas lines were surreptitiously tapped over several months; then the siphoning apparatus was dismantled or hidden on Thursday before Consolidated Edison conducted an inspection. As soon as the utility inspectors left, an attempt to resume the diversion of gas went awry, setting off the explosion, according to two law enforcement sources with knowledge of this working theory.
This kind of thing is pretty common with electric and cable service, but I’m amazed that people tried it with natural gas.  As I think has become all too obvious, illegally siphoning gas is extremely dangerous.

Want to support this blog? Check out Sneakatara Boatman & the Priest of Loki. It's available for the Kindle and Kindle app for $2.99.
Here's the book description:
"Wanderhaven is the city with everything, the gateway to the world and the capital of the Kingdom of the Western Isles. The streets are hard, though, and for a teenaged street-urchin named Sneakatara Boatman, they can be cruel, too. “Sneax” will do anything to escape the grinding poverty and hopelessness she’s known all her life. On most days, she’s lucky just to survive. Sneax’s lone friend is an apprentice wizard named Elaina Emboo, a rich girl from a nice family who hates the life that her father has planned for her. Elaina envies Sneax’s freedom but doesn’t understand what all that freedom actually costs. When the infamous fire elf Draks comes to town, Sneax gets a chance to maybe change her life. But change is dangerous, and a fire elf will kill you as soon as look at you."

You're curious, right? Yeah, you know you are.

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