Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Justified; Goldman Sachs and Financial Reform; Oil Slick;

Well, I hope everyone is doing okay. Hump day. Do the humpty dance.

Hmmmm..... let's see. What's going on?
Not much. Last night I watched a couple of episodes of Justified, which is a relatively new show on FX that's about a U.S. marshall who's reassigned to his home state of Kentucky after killing a bad guy during an old fashioned quick draw showdown in Miami.
The premise of Justified isn't super original, but I've still been pretty impressed with the show thus far. It's based stories about Raylan Givens, a character created by Elmore Leonard in a couple of his novels (Pronto and Riding the Rap). While the basic premise behind Justified isn't all that new (it's basically a police procedural tied in with a sort of prodigal son story- still fairly interesting, but not all that new), the strength of Justified isn't necessarily the twists of its plotlines, but the quality of the characters and the dialogue. I don't know if the show will continue to hold up, but so far it's managed to do a really good job of making the characters feel both very authentic and very interesting (which is tricky to pull off- sometimes if you're too authentic it can lead to boring, and sometimes if you make characters really interesting they begin to feel less like real people). Both the criminals and the police officers on Justified feel like the sort of people that I might actually run into up at the courthouse. The dialogue is often witty, and yet it still remains plausible. The writers seem interested in capturing the humanity of their characters- exploring motivations and actions without resorting to melodrama or wild flights of fancy. For the most part, the characters talk and act like real people (Timothy Olyphant's character always wears a cowboy hat, for example, but then again, people are always making smart assed comments about it- the writers don't let him off the hook in adopting the old west style lawman look without taking some sh*t for it). The whole enterprise is a testament to the skill of both the writers and the actors (and the show has some really strong actors).
Anyway, I recommend checking the show out if you're at all interested in crime fiction or character-driven drama. I hope it continues to be pretty good.

And what about this whole thing with Goldman Sachs, which, of course, is playing out at the same time that the need for increased financial regulation is being debated in the legislature? (so, for those who don't know, Goldman Sachs was essentially recommending investments in mortgage interest products to its customers while simultaneously involving themselves in schemes that would only profit if those same mortgage interest investments failed. Essentially, there was a huge conflict of interest that was never revealed to its customers). So as Goldman Sachs executives have been hauled in front of a Senate panel this week to explain themselves (and they're mostly still saying they didn't do anything wrong, despite S.E.C. allegations of fraud), Democrats have been trying to advance new legislation that would impose additional regulation, more consumer protection, and tighter oversight on Wall Street. Republicans, for their part, have been opposing this reform, arguing that the Democrats are simply paving the way for new financial bailouts.
I understand that there's probably some room for honest disagreement about increased regulation, but the Republicans have, once again, been attempting to block debate and a vote on the financial reform bill (while, of course, joining the Democrats at expressing popular outrage at Goldman Sachs).
I hope the Republicans don't get away with obstructionism and stall tactics this time. Hopefully the American public will take note of the hypocrisy involved in accusing Goldman Sachs of fraud at one moment and then going over to the Senate chamber immediately afterward to obstruct meaningful debate about financial reform.
I guess we'll see.

And last, but not least, the Coast Guard is supposed to set fire to the oil slick today that's been forming in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster off the coast of Lousiana (which has been releasing 42,000 gallons of oil a day from its uncontrolled well). Not going to say too much about this except- yeah, it's official: I'm definitely against the idea of Obama opening up these new offshore areas along the east coast and Alaska to offshore drilling. We're having to set the ocean on fire.

Well, that's it. Hoep you guys are doing well.

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