Monday, October 25, 2010

Week of 10/25/2010

It’s Sewer Time!
– by David Matthews 2

There’s a foul stench in the air.

It’s a repugnant odor that is emanating everywhere. It’s in everything we see and everything we hear.

It fouls our meals, our mail, our polite conversations with friends and family, even our places of work and places of prayer.

It pervades into our phone lines, harassing us endlessly with its foul prefabricated noise, making sure that there is no place in our world that they have not perverted and corroded.

And it only gets worse from this point on. It gets more and more putrid, more and more repulsive, sapping the strength, the will, the resolve of people to try to avoid it and to move on to more important things.

I am, of course, talking about politics.

This is politics at its worst right now… that rare time just weeks before Election Day when everything that a politician says or does becomes instant analysis. When media personalities on radio and cable television become willing whores for political parties, exploiting their positions to send campaign messages under the false banner of “neutrality”. When so-called “experts” proclaim to know what we think and try to steer us towards their preferred candidates. When we are inundated with daily and semi-daily and even moment-to-moment polling to try to tell us how we will vote. When lies and damned-dirty lies are force-fed down our throats every other minute, and even when fact-checked and proven to be lies, there is no attempt to remove them from their airwaves, or even to apologize for airing them.

This is the time when the sage advice of comedians and writers and philosophers one and all about the irredeemable qualities of all of the candidates on the ballot are validated. They’re all greedy, self-centered, corrupt, dishonorable liars. They’re all on the take. They all will say anything and everything to get elected. They all will promise the moon, a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage, and of course a return to happier and prosperous days… oh, and all babies must eat! They are all “outsiders” and also “career politicians”. They are all “experienced” and at the same time “inexperienced”. They are all “honest” and yet lie through their teeth. They are all beholden to special interest groups, and yet claim to be “mavericks”. They side with extremist factions, and yet also promise to be “mainstream”.

This is the time when all of the dirty little secrets about the candidates come out. All of the incendiary things that they did, all of the questionable antics and backroom deals that were brokered… all of the things that were held back until JUST BEFORE the election!

Did the candidates really think that these little secrets wouldn’t see the light of day? Did they think that their opponents wouldn’t use these little secrets in their campaigns?

Or perhaps that’s just part of the whole game in the first place.

Either way, the whole thing has become rancid, and the stench makes this commentator want to just turn off everything! Turn off the TV set, not read the newspaper, stop listening to the radio, stick to online role-playing games, unplug the telephone, and not talk with ANYONE until after Election Day!

Of course the whole thing is meant to be rancid at this point. It’s MEANT to make you sick to your stomach, to turn you off the whole process, to not want anything to do with the world around you.

It’s all meant to keep YOU from voting.

Let’s get brutally honest here… this whole election process is a matter of numbers, and if the party players and their constituents cannot count on your vote, then they don’t want you to be anywhere NEAR the ballot box, period!

That’s why the GOP is touting those so-called “tea party” candidates. They know that those folks are pissed-off enough to show up at the polling place, so of course they want them to vote GOP. But that’s it. They don’t want anyone else voting.

It’s worked before. Look at the 1994 mid-term election. Here you had the worst turnout in history, with twenty percent of the electorate bothering to show up at the polls, and those were people that were already disgusted with the system and were willing to vote for ANYONE! They would have voted for Benito Mussolini in a heartbeat, even with him dead for fifty years, just to get the trains to run on time again. And given some of the candidates out there today, voting for a foreign fascist dictator that has been dead for over a half-century would actually be a better alternative!

And that is what the GOP wants to have happen again. They want voters to be so disgusted with the process that the bulk will just want to stay home, leaving only their extreme diehard supporters to decide who gets control of the Congress.

Unfortunately once again the Democrats are so useless they can’t offer any real alternative, and they have defaulted to their “standing still is the better alternative” tactic. Sure they’ll sling mud, but they won’t offer anything substantive, because they know that the leadership in the Congress is incompetent.

But while we’re getting nauseated by the stench, there ARE alternatives out there. They’re lost in the utter sewer sludge, but they are there. We’re talking REAL alternatives; THIRD-PARTY candidates, not these prefabricated phonies that call themselves “tea party candidates”. THOSE are the people you need to vote for if you are disgusted with the whole “business as usual” game. “Tea Party” people ARE NOT ALTERNATIVES! They’re just pissed-off versions of the GOP still living in denial that they’re still getting jerked around by the media personalities on radio and cable TV.

That probably explains why the politicians are quick to get us from the traditional voting machines to the digital ones… because the levers on those old machines look way too much like the lever of a toilet.

This is a sewer of OUR creation. WE allowed this to happen by continually supporting Democrats and the GOP over and over and over again because we REFUSE to vote for REAL alternatives.

It is high time we did something about this sewer, because the stench is too much to have to continually put up with.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Week of 10/18/2010

One Versus The World
– by David Matthews 2

Let’s start things off with a simple statement…

Two plus two equals four.

Simple enough, right?

It’s easy to figure out if you didn’t understand it. You just put two items in front of you and then two more items and then count the ones you have and come up with four.

It’s PAINFULLY simple, isn’t it? Something that pretty much everyone with a working brain would agree with.

But what if someone was to tell you that two plus two DOES NOT equals four? That it, instead, equals five?

No matter how hard you try to prove just how wrong that person is, that person is firmly locked into the belief that this otherwise simple math equation equals five instead of four. He or she comes up with long and complicated arguments, complete with chalkboard illustrations, to prove their point.

You’d think that person to be crazy, right? Demented? Delusional?

But now what happens if another person also believed the same thing? You’d probably dismiss that person as well.

And how about a third? And a fourth? And a fifth? How about five hundred people believing the same thing? How about five thousand?

What if the whole world firmly believed that two plus two equals five and that you were the only one who knew and accepted that truth? Boy that would be awkward, wouldn’t it?

And even if the whole world minus you believed that two plus two equals five, does that make it any truer? Does a fifth item magically appear when you put two items together with two other items? Does the physical universe rearrange itself to accommodate the whims of a whole world of people who believe that two plus two equals five?

No, it does not.

So why do social charlatans try to convince us that it does?

The biggest fallacy that media personalities, politicians, religious leaders, and special interest groups make is to convince people that TRUTH is merely a matter of NUMBERS. That someone’s honesty and reliability and truthfulness are somehow subject to how many people listen or agree with them.

Politicians pompously proclaim that anything they do is good and right simply because they are re-elected over and over again. Media personalities want people to think that they are right simply because of ratings, and they condemn their critics by accusing them of having no listeners or think that it’s all in some effort to get better ratings. Special interest groups want people to think that popular ideas are right simply because of NUMBERS.

And of course there are the POLLS! You can’t have a day go by without seeing some reference to at least one poll… and that’s not counting the election season, where you have daily and even semi-daily polling! And they also spread this fantasy that what they report is what the masses feel is right.

But does any of this MAKE something right?


Let’s get brutally honest here… I am sick and tired of people trying to spread this LIE that truth or reason or reality or being right is merely a matter of NUMBERS. This universe and the rules and limitations that they impose on us are not dependant on the acquiescence of a certain percentage of the populace! That is nothing more than a sickening display of arrogance.

Having ten or a hundred or a thousand or even a million supporters doesn’t mean that you’re right. It just means that you’re persuasive. That’s not a measure of honesty or truthfulness. It’s just a tool that can be used in too many different ways for right or wrong reasons.

For those who happen to be religious, I probably don’t have to remind you that there was a guy who was considered immensely popular and then was vilified and subjected to torture and summary execution all within the span of one week. And he reportedly didn’t do anything different during that time to give the masses reason to turn on him. You probably heard of him… people have been invoking his name for the past two thousand years. Were his words or deeds disqualified because of the masses turning on him? Were all of the reported acts of miracles he performed or were performed because of him suddenly reversed simply because his popularity plummeted?

If you answered “no” to those two questions, then you also need to accept that the same thing applies to the rest of the world. The sun does not rise or set just because a POLL said it was okay. Likewise, saying that two plus two equals five does not make it so just because you can convince a certain number of people that it is.

Being right is not a matter of NUMBERS. It is simply a matter of BEING.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Week of 10/11/2010

The Perverse Fixation on Unions
– by David Matthews 2

Have you ever heard of the White Elephant trick? It’s a doozy!

If I were to tell you to not think about a white elephant, you will. No matter how hard you try, you’ll think of a white elephant. In fact, the harder you try, the more times you’ll THINK of a white elephant.

Apparently conservatives, neo-conservatives, and even some libertarians have the same problem when it comes to unions. They just can’t get unions out of their heads. Everything… EVERYTHING… every single thing that deals with politics has to involve unions, either in thwarting them, starving them, denying them, or otherwise attacking them relentlessly.

Conservatives and neo-conservatives will sabotage critical legislation, potentially sabotaging the nation itself, in order to get some sort of assurance that a union won’t get any kind of gain from it. National tragedy? People in desperate need of assistance? Lives at risk? Sorry, but you’ll just have to suffer because cons and neo-cons would rather see you DEAD than to have your needed emergency aid touched by even ONE union worker!

One has to wonder what kind of depraved mind would play such games with the lives of others… and then the answer comes automatically when you realize that we’re talking about a group of people operating with pretty much zero accountability, and not much can be said about their honor or ethics either.

But seriously, these guys have UNIONS on the brain! Every time you talk about reforming a costly system, bringing aid to people that desperately need it, they can’t help but then blurt out “And what are the UNIONS getting out of this? You can’t get a program passed without the UNIONS benefiting from it!”

These are the same people that had no qualms whatsoever bailing out Wall Street and the mega-banks, but then screamed bloody murder over giving even one penny of bailout money to automakers because it’s “payback for the unions”.

You can’t talk about job creation without them screaming about “UNION JOBS!” Oh yes, you can build houses using questionable workers from other nations, you can import workers to fill American jobs, and you can rubber-stamp deals that would outsource American jobs overseas, but you can’t talk about creating a single job in this country without them accusing you of creating UNION jobs.

Knock it off!

Do you hear me? KNOCK THE HELL OFF!

I am so sick of hearing about UNIONS!

Do you know what a union is? Really? Truly?

A union is nothing more than a poor substitute for good management.

Seriously, that is all that a union is, stripped down of all pretenses and platitudes; it is an organization that was created on behalf of employees to combat the abuses of really BAD managers. Every union that exists today can be traced back to a series of workplace abuses that did not have to happen, and would not happen if those businesses had management that was more appreciative of their workers. I know that sounds overly simplistic, and of course there were other factors involved in the rise and growth of unions as a political force, but if the business community basically treated it as an inside challenge to do better instead of as an outside invasion, there wouldn’t be such a thing as unions today.

But, hey, this really isn’t about unions, but rather it is about the cons and neo-cons using the unions as their perpetual bogeymen and ready-made excuses to destroy this nation.

Now it’s sort of strange that for a political faction with a mad-on hatred for unions, they somehow don’t necessarily share that revulsion with ALL unions. For instance, they don’t seem to have any problems with police unions. They can slam teamsters, dock workers, automakers, flight attendants, pilots, teachers, government workers, but somehow they tolerate police unions. Not only that, but they are seemingly oblivious to unions in professional sports, and they stop short of throwing a party when Hollywood unions go on strike. If unions are such the bane of existence that they paint them to be with such a broad stroke, why still support or otherwise root on certain unions?

Well there’s a reason why. The reason is this: these guys attack and otherwise demonize the unions that THEY would otherwise have on their side.

Remember Ronald Reagan’s presidential win in 1980? Well some of us do. Anyway, Reagan won because he managed to get the support of the Teamsters. Yes, that’s right; the man that was considered the ICON of conservativism actually sought out and got help from a UNION to become President of the United States!

Okay, so some of you are saying “Yeah, but that’s thirty years ago! That was a whole different time!”

No, not really. Because not long afterwards, Reagan pissed off union groups through the Air Traffic Controllers strike.

So… suck up to the unions when they can HELP you and then piss all over them when they can’t. That seems to be the game plan here.

But then again, there’s another reason why unions get demonized… and that is the company that the conservatives keep.

Think about it… what part of America do unions mostly represent? Hard working lower-to-middle-class people! Sure some unions bosses are in the upper echelons, but the base are really on the lower-half of the financial pyramid.

And how about the people who constitute “the base” for conservatives and neo-conservatives? Wall Street, Big Corporate, the super-wealthy, business owners and managers… and, yes, some middle-class people, but for the most part they spend their time with the upper-half of that same financial pyramid.

Oh sure they love to praise “small business owners”, but when you realize that under the rules that conservatives and neo-conservatives helped to put in that “small” is usually in name only. I mean, does anyone consider the Chicago Tribune to be a “small business”? And yet it is. In fact a lot of big multi-million dollar companies get away with being declared “small businesses” thanks to those same rules. So while you and I consider “small businesses” to be mom-and-pop stores, understand that the cons and neo-cons are thinking more Wall Street than Main Street.

Yes, I’m talking about class warfare here.

But this isn’t class warfare from the bottom-up as has been traditionally perceived over the past century. No, this is old-OLD-school class warfare… subjugation from the top-down. The people with the money and the power want their cake and eat it too. It’s really that simple.

The people up top don’t like unions. They don’t want unions to exist. But they also don’t want to do the things that would make unions needless. They don’t want to curb their own abusive incompetence as managers, thinking instead that being an unrepentant a-hole is somehow a good thing. Yes, denial of their own status as oversized sphincters also plays a role in this.

So they “contribute” (purchase) a group of parasites that promise to put the hurt to unions. They turn to that group of parasites that put up obstacles to unions and give them as much power as possible to subjugate the bottom-half of the economic pyramid, mostly because it is easier (and cheaper) to do that than to actually BE effective managers.

The problem, then, is that those same parasites now know how to press the buttons of their economic “friends”. All they have to do is say “unions” and they get all the money and support they want.

Of course it should also be mentioned that unions then “contribute” (purchase) their own gang of parasites that promise to give them more and more power and to cement their own position in the business world. And they too are often led around by those same parasites come election time.

But let’s get brutally honest here… this whole issue with unions, both as the convenient bogeymen and as a social group, is a NEEDLESS matter! As much as the people up top refuse to admit it, the unions were CREATED by their own abusive incompetence. And as long as they REFUSE to admit that fact, they empower their own parasites in politics to use unions as their ready-made scapegoats and political reaction.

Thus we get to the real reason why those political parasites and their special interest enablers are so fixated on unions… because it gets a rise out of the upper-crust and gets them to open up their pocketbooks without actually doing anything to get rid of the unions. They certainly don’t want to tell their “friends” what it would really take to deal with the subject, because it then deprives them of their leverage.

Listen, folks, the business world can get rid of unions all on their own. There is no big secret to it. It doesn’t require politicians or their enablers. It doesn’t require new laws or regulations or even the removal of laws or regulations. It can even be summed up in three simple words: STOP BEING A-HOLES!

But I suppose that is too much to ask for, isn’t it?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Week of 10/04/2010

The Company They Keep
– by David Matthews 2

There are times when I defer to the folks at the Reason Foundation for their sound words of advice regarding freedom. The folks there often have a better understanding of freedom than the vast majority of so-called “experts” who falsely claim to support the Constitution or fraudulently pretend to channel America’s “founding fathers”. (You listening, Beckites? I’m talking about YOUR lot!)

Unfortunately the folks at Reason also take stances that a freedom-lover like yours truly seriously has to question.

Recently Reason did one of their little video snippets attacking Hollywood for their fascination with painting capitalism as the villain in their movies. It’s a quick dig on the fact that the sequel to Oliver Stone’s classic movie “Wall Street” was coming out. In “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”, the legendary Gordon “Greed is Good” Gekko (again played by Michael Douglas) is out of prison and discovering that what he did in the 80’s to go to prison for is now perfectly legal. (You can thank the GOP for that little Christmas present.) Then the folks at Reason tied it in with the overall robber-baron land grab theme of “Avatar”, the bio-weapon manufacturer in “M:I-2”, the “gotta save the alien killers to use as weapons” bureaucrat from “Aliens”, the sociopathic lawyers in “A Civil Action”, the hospital executives in “Coma”, the developers in “FernGully”, and so on and so forth.

And then Reason declared that capitalism somehow “enforces rules” about stealing, fraud, and violence, and to channel greed towards “productive means”. “Play by the rules,” Reason said, “and greed gets you the iPad. Break the rules and you get Bernie Madoff.”


What delusional world do the people at the Reason Foundation live in where they can come up with THAT fairy tale? Wherever it is, I want to be there, because here in the REAL world, capitalism has but TWO simple rules that it lives by.

The first rule of capitalism is profit at all costs. It doesn’t matter HOW they make that profit; just that they do. You can screw over your own family members, sell your children into slavery, and even sell your soul (repeatedly) just as long as you make that profit.

The second rule of capitalism is this: if it isn’t above the board, if it is bound to cause scandal, go ahead and do it, but don’t get caught. You can do everything you want to in order to make those profit numbers, but if it’s something that you don’t want to publicly take credit for, just don’t get caught doing it.

Just look at the plight of “Poor Bernie”, the example that Reason used for “bad greed”. There were red flags flying FOR YEARS about Bernie’s questionable practices. FOR YEARS! And they were ignored time and time again. Why? Because it followed the first rule of capitalism… profit at all costs. All of the safeguards that the Reason Foundation touts as being “Capitalism’s enforcers”, all of the watchdogs and auditors and overseers, even the ones on the INSIDE, that were SUPPOSED to prevent that kind of thing from happening… THEY FAILED!

So when the house of cards that was Madoff’s financial services finally collapsed, people started asking how that could happen. And just as soon as fingers started to get pointed towards anyone but Madoff, Madoff suddenly became the sacrificial lamb. All of the looks into other participants, all of the other groups that knew what was going on and did nothing to stop it, all of that focus immediately died down when Madoff pled guilty. Those groups followed the second rule… don’t get caught. Bernie got caught. He went to prison for it. The others didn’t, because the system didn’t LET anyone else get caught. It all stopped with Bernie.

Glory, Glory Capitalism.

But let’s get back to Hollywood here…

The folks at Reason somehow got it into their heads that Hollywood has a mad-on hatred of capitalism that they just can’t figure out. They apparently don’t like seeing business leaders being portrayed on TV and the movies as being self-centered, greedy, manipulative, backstabbing, narcissistic sociopaths. That’s just not fair, after all, to all of the GREAT and WONDERFUL things that they have given the world… like… like… like the gas-powered automobile! And the factories that manufacture the gas-powered automobile, which have been slowly outsourced to other nations. And the refineries needed to produce the oil needed to make the gas to power those vehicles, one of which recently blew up in the Gulf of Mexico, and the full extent of that devastation is STILL not measured.

Ooh… not good examples, are they?

Well the point is there is a REASON why capitalism is the easiest villain around… and that is because we see FAR too many examples of it in the real world! In fact capitalism is seemingly the one institution that allows you to engage in all of the deadly sins and then some and then wash your hands clean of it all and say that it’s “just business”.

Capitalism destroys whole communities much faster than they do building them up, and they’re not the least bit remorseful when they do it. It’s “just business”. They dehumanize people, transforming them into nothing more than account numbers on a spreadsheet, justify collecting every bit of information they can on those “account numbers”, and then sell that information off to other companies to make a quick buck. And they do it with a wink and a smile and say that it’s “just business”. They reward people for being ruthless, manipulative, obsessively fixated on succeeding at all costs, and then justify it all by saying that it’s “just business”.

These are all the traits of a classic villain.

You don’t hear too many stories of “good guy” businesses, because the business world, capitalism itself, doesn’t reward people for being honest and ethical. Those are usually the first ones laid off or bought out or shut down or otherwise made victims to the ruthless and cruel.

Remember “Tucker: A Man and His Dream”? That wasn’t a flight of Hollywood fantasy concocted out of the ether. That was based on real events of a real person named Preston Tucker, whose dream of designing a better car was destroyed by the automakers and the politicians who worked on behalf of the automakers.

And, yes, the folks in Hollywood KNOW that they get their movies made by capitalistic investors. They KNOW that the studios are just another part of capitalism. They KNOW that they have to make money to keep making movies. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t bring up the abuses - real or hypothetical - of that same capitalistic system.

Granted, the “corporate bureaucrat that would rather sacrifice a whole Marine unit to transport some xenophobic mass-murdering aliens to be studied for use as possible weapons” is a bit of a stretch, but if there is anything that would foul up an otherwise straightforward military operation, it WOULD be a spineless backstabbing corporate bureaucrat. And, as was pointed out in that same movie, at least the nameless xenophobic mass-murdering “Aliens” don’t screw themselves over for a profit margin.

But let’s get brutally honest here… the reason WHY capitalism is the preferred villain stereotype in entertainment is that capitalism not only ENCOURAGES villainous behavior, but also… those in the capitalistic community seemingly do not MIND being cast as the bad guys!

How many corporate executives still watch the original Oliver Stone “Wall Street” film and cheer when Gekko utters his “Greed is good” speech? How many of them watched Martin Sheen’s character Bud Fox and think he was a spineless coward?

By the way, how far do you think any of these projects that bash capitalism would get if the investors themselves said “no” to the portrayals? Not everyone in Hollywood can have the money or influence to churn out a movie on their own, and we’ve seen the end result of some of the productions. (“Waterworld” anyone?)

And while Reason is fixated on the evil that government does, and would rather whitewash all the evils of Big Corporate (mostly to appease their friends), the truth is that villainous traits are not a matter of vocation, but rather they are rooted in the use and abuse of POWER.

Once upon a time, the bad guys were all priests and noblemen. So were military leaders and small town law enforcers. Nosy neighbors haven’t exactly shaken off their stigma either. For a while even the scientists were considered the bad guys. Remember the “Mad Scientist” trope? From Doctor Frankenstein to Fritz Lang’s Rotwang to the early versions of Lex Luthor, scientists used to be portrayed as being inherently evil. That didn’t stop the scientific community from pushing through with their projects. That didn’t stop the advances in medicine or the new discoveries in technology.

Each of these villain groups have one thing in common: POWER. At some point, they all have the power of “GOD” (or the next best thing) and they decide to use it at the expense of others for all the wrong reasons. That sullies ANY profession or organization that they are connected to. And when done enough times, seemingly without remorse or regret, and without an effort to make things right again, then one cannot help but to paint that entire profession or organization with the same brush. Just look at the continual tar-and-feathering of the adult entertainment industry if you don’t believe me.

And if the key players involved in capitalism, and their friends in the Reason Foundation, have such a bug up their capitalistic butts about this typecasting, then maybe what they should be focused on is NOT Hollywood, but rather in getting their commercial brethren to clean up their own sullied houses. You don’t have to look very far in the real world to see evil afoot.

In fact, for the past ten years we have been barraged by a series of corporate failures and malfeasances from a whole array of companies, from Enron to oil companies to AIG to the “too big to fail” banks to the insurance companies and even to private contractors for the government. Most of these have gone on with seemingly no consequences for their actions. And even when the industry itself sets up its own rules and puts in place their own watchdogs, the system still FAILED, and nothing’s really done about it. Deals are struck, minimal fines are sometimes paid, sometimes a weak “mea culpa” is even issued, and then it’s back to business-as-usual. The ruined lives and shattered dreams are all written off as just the cost of doing business. THAT’S EVIL!

And that’s really not the kind of result that Hollywood would ever want to portray, because Hollywood usually likes to paint a happier ending when telling their stories. They want to give the illusion that the good guys somehow triumph and that the bad guys get their just deserts. That’s just good business for them.