Thursday, December 11, 2014

Last Call For The Hollywood Shuffle

So if you recall last week's Sony Pictures data heist, you know crooks have been leaking devastating internal data from Sony Pictures showing just how mindlessly stupid the company really is on a number of issues.  First, the company has a major, major gender gap and diversity problem:

Here are the stats: of the top 17 highest-paid executives at Sony, 88% are white and 94% are men. To put that into actual real-world numbers, 15 of these executives are white (including the list’s sole woman, Amy Pascal, who’s the co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group), one is Indian (Man Jit Singh, president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), and one is black (Dwight R. Caines, marketing president at Sony Pictures Entertainment). 
And in case you were curious about whether or not the gender pay gap is also an issue over at Sony as well, Columbia Pictures co-president of production Hanna Minghella makes $800,000 less per year than co-president of production Michael De Luca, with whom she partners on many projects. Minghella got her title in October 2010 after working with the company for almost 10 years; De Luca’s only had his since December 2013.

Now we find out the company's executives are pretty clueless on race and President Obama, too.

Before Sony Pictures chair Amy Pascal attended a breakfast of Hollywood bigwigs last November with Barack Obama, she emailed her friend Scott Rudin for suggestions on what she should ask the president. 
In what has become the latest embarrassing email uncovered in a trove of messages leaked by hackers who attacked Sony, Pascal wrote Rudin: “What should I ask the president at this stupid Jeffrey breakfast?” She was referring to a breakfast hosted by DreamWorks Animation head and major Democratic donor Jeffrey Katzenberg. 
Rudin, a top film producer responsible for films like No Country for Old Men and Moneyball, responded, “Would he like to finance some movies.” Pascal replied, “I doubt it. Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?” Rudin responded: “12 YEARS.” Pascal quickly continued down the path of guessing Obama preferred movies by or starring African Americans. “Or the butler. Or think like a man? [sic]” 
Rudin’s response: “Ride-along. I bet he likes Kevin Hart.”

Hahaha gosh that's hysterical, guys.  Look, like Chris Rock said, Hollywood is run by rich white people and they are entirely tone deaf to everything about race and culture across the board.

It's a white industry. Just as the NBA is a black industry. I'm not even saying it's a bad thing. It just is. And the black people they do hire tend to be the same person. That person tends to be female and that person tends to be Ivy League. And there's nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, that's what I want for my daughters. But something tells me that the life my privileged daughters are leading right now might not make them the best candidates to run the black division of anything. And the person who runs the black division of a studio should probably have worked with black people at some point in their life. Clint Culpepper [a white studio chief who specializes in black movies] does a good job at Screen Gems because he's the kind of guy who would actually go see Best Man Holiday. But how many black men have you met working in Hollywood? They don't really hire black men. A black man with bass in his voice and maybe a little hint of facial hair? Not going to happen. It is what it is. I'm a guy who's accepted it all.

So no, not surprising at all that Sony's team assumed the President likes Kevin Hart movies.

Being Judge Mental On Immigration

Looks like the red states suing President Obama over his immigration action have gotten the judge they wanted for an injunction that could wreck the entire plan.

The lawsuit is led by Texas Attorney General (and Gov.-elect) Greg Abbott and joined by 17 other Republican states. They ask for an immediate injunction to stop administration officials from moving forward; if they succeed, the actions may be halted before they can begin taking applications, which the White House expects to start doing this spring. 
Legal experts say the lawsuit is flawed on questions of "standing," which requires proof of a tangible injury to the suing party; and on the merits, where longstanding legal precedent grants the executive branch a huge amount of discretion when it comes to enforcing immigration laws. 
But in a calculated move, the Republicans landed the case before their dream judge: Andrew S. Hanen of Texas, appointed by George H.W. Bush. Hanen has fiercely criticized the Obama administration where it has shown mercy on immigration enforcement. In a December 2013 order, he said the Department of Homeland Security "assisted" a criminal conspiracy by failing to prosecute or deport the smuggler of a 10-year-old girl brought into the United States illegally.

So what kind of damage can Judge Hanen do?  Plenty.  Despite the lack of standing issues with the case to begin with, if Hanen agrees with Texas and the 16 other states, Obama's immigration action would be blocked from going into effect.  The case would next go to the 5th Circuit, which would then be asked to lift such an injunction while the appeal was pending. Odds are real good the 5th Circuit would then tell Obama to go jump off a cliff and keep the injunction in place, and Obama's immigration plan would be in limbo until the 5th Circuit then got around to making a decision.

If the case goes to the Supreme Court, the Obama administration would have much better odds.

When it comes to the merits, the Republicans may have a tough time at the Supreme Court, should the case eventually reach there. Legomsky pointed to two Supreme Court cases — both cited in the Obama administration's legal memo justifying the actions — Chaney v. Heckler andArizona v. U.S. as examples of the "very broad prosecutorial discretion" that the executive branch has on the issue of immigration.

In 2012, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in Arizona v. U.S., "Removal is a civil matter, and one of its principal features is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials, who must decide whether to pursue removal at all." His 5-3 majority opinion was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts.

But the path to SCOTUS has land mines all over it.  We'll see how this shapes up.

Time's Person Of The Year Announced

Time's annual Person of the Year for 2014 is a pretty decent (and non-controversial) choice, the "Ebola Fighters" who risked their safety to battle the disease in Africa and the US.

For decades, Ebola haunted rural African villages like some mythic monster that every few years rose to demand a human sacrifice and then returned to its cave. It reached the West only in nightmare form, a Hollywood horror that makes eyes bleed and organs dissolve and doctors despair because they have no cure. 
But 2014 is the year an outbreak turned into an epidemic, powered by the very progress that has paved roads and raised cities and lifted millions out of poverty. This time it reached crowded slums in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone; it traveled to Nigeria and Mali, to Spain, Germany and the U.S. It struck doctors and nurses in unprecedented numbers, wiping out a public-health infrastructure that was weak in the first place. One August day in Liberia, six pregnant women lost their babies when hospitals couldn’t admit them for complications. Anyone willing to treat Ebola victims ran the risk of becoming one. 
Which brings us to the hero’s heart. There was little to stop the disease from spreading further. Governments weren’t equipped to respond; the World Health Organization was in denial and snarled in red tape. First responders were accused of crying wolf, even as the danger grew. But the people in the field, the special forces of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the Christian medical-relief workers of Samaritan’s Purse and many others from all over the world fought side by side with local doctors and nurses, ambulance drivers and burial teams. 
Ask what drove them and some talk about God; some about country; some about the instinct to run into the fire, not away. “If someone from America comes to help my people, and someone from Uganda,” says Iris Martor, a Liberian nurse, “then why can’t I?” Foday Gallah, an ambulance driver who survived infection, calls his immunity a holy gift. “I want to give my blood so a lot of people can be saved,” he says. “I am going to fight Ebola with all of my might.”

And while these medical professionals definitely deserve accolades for their selfless work, it's Time's list of far more controversial also-rans that are the most intriguing: the brave Ferguson protesters who told the world that even in the most powerful country on earth, black people are still second class citizens in many ways, the ruthless Vladimir Putin, who upended Europe's entire geopolitical structure only to get sandbagged by good old fashioned oil speculation capitalism, Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma, whose Alibaba IPO became the largest offering ever made to the Wall Street gods, and Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, who may be the US's only real ally in the ISIS mess we're now stuck in until further notice.

Personally, I wanted to see the Ferguson protesters win, especially now with Eric Garner's now notorious case gaining nationwide attention to police brutality against people of color in the US.

What say the assembled?


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