And the winners are …

Best picture: The King’s Speech

Actor: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Supporting actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter

Supporting actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Director: Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech

Adapted screenplay: Aaron Sorkin,The Social Network

Original screenplay: David Seidler, The King’s Speech

Animated feature film: Toy Story 3

Original song: We Belong Together from Toy Story 3, Randy Newman

Original score: Trent Reznor, The Social Network

Documentary feature: Inside Job

Art direction: Alice in Wonderland

Cinematography: Inception

Animated short film: The Lost Thing

Foreign language film: In a Better World (Denmark)

Sound mixing: Inception

Sound editing: Inception

Makeup: The Wolfman

Costume design: Alice in Wonderland

Documentary short subject: Strangers No More

Live action short film: God of Love

Visual effects: Inception

Film editing: The Social Network

May I have the envelope?

It’s Oscar time.

The Big Show is Sunday night. Every newspaper, TV station and blogger has put together a list of expected winners, so why don’t I just follow the crowd, join the bandwagon, run with the herd and anything else involving being one of many with little to say on a not-overwhelmingly-important topic.

Hopefully, the Academy Award broadcast won’t be like the Super Bowl, which compared the event to recovering from the Great Depression, winning World War II, Martin Luther King’s speech at the March on Washington and the 1969 moon landing.

BEST PICTURE

I’ve seen 8 of the 10 nominees here. Didn’t get around to “127 Hours” or “The Kids Are Alright.” Nothing very appealing about a movie about a guy who gets himself in a life threatening situation because of pure arrogance. I don’t find that uplifting. And when you name a movie after a song by The Who, it immediately says the demographic is people my age, which means it’s serious, yet witty. Blah.

“Inception” and “Black Swan” were whacked out insane so they’re out of the running (but I loved them both). “Toy Story 3″ is going to win the Best Animated Film, so don’t expect a two-fer, even if it was the most appealing movie of the year.

All you need to know about “Winter’s Bone”: meth labs in the Ozarks. Which actually is a very important issue, but definitely not fun for the whole family. All you need to know about “The Fighter”: crack houses in working class Massachusetts. Not an important issue, but shades of “Rocky.”

That leaves “True Grit,” The Social Network,” and “The King’s Speech.” Now “True Grit” is infinitely better than the thing John Wayne got the Oscar for all those years ago. Jeff Bridges is “The Dude” as drunken sheriff. Matt Damon is a far better LeBoeuf than Glenn Campbell was. And Hailee Steinfeld should have been nominated for Best Actress because she carries the movie. But the Coens already have a couple of Oscars, so let’s share the wealth.

And this is what it comes down to: wealth. A movie about an arrogant little prick who becomes a billionaire in his 20s while screwing over his best friend, or a movie about an old money guy with a stammer who takes over a country from an arrogant little prick who feels his enjoyment of a raucous sex life is more important that rallying people against Hitler. “The King’s Speech” it is.

BEST ACTOR

Rule out Jesse Eisenberg and James Franco, because you should never reward people who try to make arrogant dillwads lovable. Javier Bardem is speaking Spanish the whole time, and we all know how much Americans love to read subtitles. Jeff Bridges won last year, but this year’s performance was better (as I’ve said, I don’t like movies where you’re supposed to feel sorry for a screw up, and last year’s “Crazy Heart” offended me just because of that). Now Colin Firth should have won last year for “A Single Man” so all indications are he’ll get it this year for being overlooked last year. Kind of like when they gave the Academy Award to James Stewart for “The Philadelphia Story” when they should have given it to him the previous year for “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

BEST ACTRESS

Why bother going through the list. It’s going to be Natalie Portman. “The Black Swan” was a totally great insane performance. I left it thinking “Did she die or was it all a hallucination?”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

There are really only two choices here. Christian Bale and Geoffrey Rush. As much as I hated Christian Bale’s character (once again, a screw up you’re supposed to feel sorry for), he is “The Fighter.” The movie doesn’t get the attention it did without him in it.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

I really hope it’s Hailee Steinfeld, because she had “True Grit.” Please don’t give it to anyone from “The Fighter.” Those accents were driving me up the wall. And Helena Bonham Carter is fine as the Queen Mum, but she should have to pay for butchering “Sweeney Todd.”

Family values from the adulterer

Newt Gingrich, the thrice-married twice-adulterous champion of family values, suggested yesterday that Obama should be impeached for saying the government won’t defend the Defense of Marriage Act. That act discriminated against gay couples and the Obama administration, rightfully so, indicated that discrimination is against the law.

Anyway, Newt is backing off from the “Let’s impeach him” stand, partly because we all know how well it worked when it was used against Bill Clinton for the affair with the intern. Clinton ended up more popular than when the impeachment process began, and Republicans lost seats in the next election.

Click through for Newt
: from TPM and Newsmax.

War in Wisconsin

Things in Wisconsin are getting ugly.

Republicans in the Assembly (the lower House) rammed through the “bust the union” bill last night at 1 a.m., running roughshod over Democrats still debating the issue. The GOP pushed it through so fast, they didn’t even allow some Democrats to cast votes. Let’s just say the message they left everyone with is that there is no compromising with them. Let that be a lesson to the Senate Democrats who have exiled themselves to neighboring Illinois.

Here’s a video of what happened when the vote was cast, supplied by Talking Points Memo:

This really calls for a NSFW rant from The Rude Pundit.

Like the man says, elections have consequences. Pay attention to whom you’re voting for.

NOTE: And he doesn’t let Obama get off Scott free on this one:

Speaking of, it’s way, way past time for President Obama to stop being such a pussy about this battle. He doesn’t have to specifically address the concerns of each state (although he should). But howzabout a clear but general statement on support for collective bargaining rights, huh? Would that be so fucking hard? Or is the White House too worried that Hannity will get pissy about it? Or that it would focus attention on the fact that the White House froze the pay for federal workers?

How rich is rich?

Only months ago, there was a lot of angst over tax cuts for the rich, with the Republicans saying the Bush era tax cuts had to be extended for people making more than $250,000 a year, giving the general population the impression that if the rich didn’t get their fair share, everything would collapse, economically.

That argument, of course, was farcical. But people fell for it, Obama caved and the tax cuts were extended. A graphical representation of income distribution in the U.S. would have been a big help then.

Anyway, the issue isn’t dead. The GOP is still fighting to make the tax cuts permanent. But Mother Jones magazine has put together a couple of graphs that you should keep handy, just to remind yourself that when the issue comes around again, the rich won’t be hurting if their Bush tax cuts are eliminated.

Take a look at this:

It says the top one-hundreth of one percent of Americans have an average family income of more than $27 million, while the bottom 90% have an average income of a little more than $31,000. Breaking it down by each figure, that means that for every 10,000 families, 9,000 are on the low end in the $31,000 range. Of the remaining 1,000 families, 900 are in the $165,000 range  — not bad, and not affected by the tax on the rich.  Of the remaining 100 families, 90 are in the $1.1 million range. Then you get to the final 10 families. Of that group, 9 are pulling down $3.2 million with the last family raking in $27.3 million. There are the super rich and the super poor. Which group do you fall in?

This chart, though, doesn’t give a complete idea of what income distribution is. But the next one says what it really is, what Americans think it is, and what Americans think it should be:

So if you took all the wealth in America, the top 20% control more than 80% of it. Pretty big chunk. But we as a nation think the top 20% control less than 60% of the wealth. Still a huge number, but nowhere close to reality. And what we as a nation think is fair? Well, we say the top 20% should control about 30% of the wealth. That is fantasy.

We really need to pay more attention to what is real, and ignore the fantasy projected to us by on-air TV people and bloated radio pundits, many of whom are in those top brackets. They tell us that rescinding the Bush tax cuts for the rich will hurt the economy. What they fail to tell you is that if the rich lose those tax cuts, it affects their economy.

Wisconsin wacko

In case you haven’t been paying attention to the battle going on in Wisconsin over the Republican governor’s efforts to destroy the state’s unionized work force, here’s the reason why the governor should be removed from office.

The Internet is burning up with the news that Governor Scott Walker may have been pranked by a caller claiming to be David Koch, and a spokesman for the Governor, Cullen Werwie, emails a statement confirming the call is legit:

… A few items of note from the call:

* Walker doesn’t bat an eye when Koch describes the opposition as “Democrat bastards.”

* Walker reveals that he and other Republicans are looking at whether they can charge an “ethics code violation if not an outright felony” if unions are paying for food or lodging for any of the Dem state senators.

* Walker says he’s sending out notices next week to some five or six thousand state workers letting them know that they are “at risk” of layoffs.

“Beautiful, beautiful,” the Koch impersonator replies. “You gotta crush that union.”

… Walker reveals that he is, in effect, laying a trap for Wisconsin Dems. He says he is mulling inviting the Senate and Assembly Dem and GOP leaders to sit down and talk, but only if all the missing Senate Dems return to work.

Then, tellingly, he reveals that the real game plan here is that if they do return, Republicans might be able to use a procedural move to move forward with their proposal.

We haven’t even gotten to the part where they discussed planting “troublemakers” in with the protesters.

Has this clown even been paying attention to what’s going on in the Mideast and North Africa, where government leaders have been trying to undermine popular protests only to have those “plants” backfire? The end result has been the tyrants get run out of the country. Unless Walker is as insane as Gadhafi in Libya and plans to have the police shoot demonstrators.

Waiting online

I’m going to have to stop reading the New York Times.

On Sunday, it ran a story, that implied blogging is on its way out, because teenagers aren’t doing it as much as they used to:

Blogs were once the outlet of choice for people who wanted to express themselves online. But with the rise of sites like Facebook and Twitter, they are losing their allure for many people — particularly the younger generation.

The Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research Center found that from 2006 to 2009, blogging among children ages 12 to 17 fell by half; now 14 percent of children those ages who use the Internet have blogs. Among 18-to-33-year-olds, the project said in a report last year, blogging dropped two percentage points in 2010 from two years earlier.

Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family.

OK, so it’s telling me I’m on the declining end of a trend. Of course I have to look elsewhere to find out what’s really happening. This from the blog Wordyard:

The peg for “Blogging Wanes as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter” is a study (here’s the summary) from Feb. 2010 — more than a year ago. The study showed that the number of kids ages 12-17 who are blogging dropped in half from 2006 to 2009 (14 percent report blogging, from 28 percent). The same study showed that the percentage of adults 30 and older who blog rose from 7 to 11 during the same period. Meanwhile, a more recent Pew study, the Times reports, finds that “Among 18-to-33-year-olds…blogging dropped two percentage points in 2010 from two years earlier.”

But if you actually look at that report, you find that, overall, blogging is still growing, not waning at all:

Few of the activities covered in this report have decreased in popularity for any age group, with the notable exception of blogging. Only half as many online teens work on their own blog as did in 2006, and Millennial generation adults ages 18-33 have also seen a modest decline—a development that may be related to the quickly-growing popularity of social network sites. At the same time, however, blogging’s popularity increased among most older generations, and as a result the rate of blogging for all online adults rose slightly overall from 11% in late 2008 to 14% in 2010.

Fourteen percent of online adults are making some effort to write regularly in public! That remains a phenomenal fact; if you’d predicted it a decade ago, as only a handful of visionaries did, you’d have been dismissed as a nut (or maybe a “cyber-utopian”).

So the actual story — which, to be fair, the Times’ article mostly hews to (it’s the headline and lead that skew it more sensationally) — is that blogging keeps growing, but it’s losing popularity among teens.

Isn’t that something that’s important enough to point out?

The fight over Planned Parenthood

Last Thursday, Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican, went on an obscene rant against Planned Parenthood and abortion services. He dragged the House of Representatives into a gore fest with a detailed, graphic description of a certain abortion procedure, right down to describing a “mangled image of a dead, tiny baby.”

California Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat, hadn’t planned to speak on the topic, but Smith drove her over the edge:

You hear a lot of men talking about what women do with their bodies. Here’s a woman who went through an agonizing decision talking about reality.

Republicans talk about fiscal responsibility and managing deficits, something they failed to do during the Bush administration, but these are the times when you see their real goal is to regulate your personal life. Abortion, gay marriage, your religious beliefs: These are the issues the GOP really cares about. Everything they say about finance, and jobs and health care is just a smokescreen to take control of your soul.

A fully detailed account of the Speier response is over at Hullaballoo.

For balance, here’s Smith in action. Note that the “sting” he’s talking about is another right wing lie performed by the usual suspect, Andrew Breitbart. Media Matters explains how Planned Parenthood reported the perpetrators of the sting to the police because they thought it was real. Smith knows that, of course. But the lie better helps him get his dishonest point across: