Monday, August 30, 2010

Week of 08/30/2010

The Mad Prophet Returns
– by David Matthews 2

The other day I had this idea that I pitched to a friend-of-a-friend who knew someone in Hollywood.

I told him that since Hollywood has been on a kick on recycling and remaking old classics like “Star Trek” and “Friday the 13th”, that maybe it was time to remake one of the most memorably satirical movies around…

“Network,” I said.

“Huh?” he asked as he scratched his head. “Network what? Is this supposed to be some geek thing?”

I suddenly realized that I was speaking to someone who wasn’t even born when this Oscar-winning 1976 film came out. I cursed myself for being old enough to actually remember it.

“No, no,” I explained, “it was a movie starring Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall, and Ned Betty. It was about a fictional TV network.”

He tilted his head a bit as if to suggest that this had piqued his curiosity. “Go on,” he said.

“It starts off with this old-school network news producer having to fire his best friend and long-time news anchor because of low ratings. The anchor then goes on the air and announces that he was being let go and that he would be killing himself on the air on his last broadcast day.”

“Does he do it?” asked the Hollywood guy.

“No,” I replied. “He gets talked out of killing himself, but he then goes off on this rant about how television is crap… well actually that’s not the word he used… and once he does, the ratings start to soar.”

“So the network executives keep him around,” he speculated.

“Yes,” I said. “Especially after he has a nervous breakdown and claims to have had a conversation with God. At one point he even gets the audience to open up their windows and shout that they’re mad as hell and that they weren’t going to take it anymore.”

“I think I’ve heard that line before,” the Hollywood guy said. “So that’s where it came from!”

I nodded. “Right. The anchor’s name was Howard Beale. Anyway, the executives decide to turn the whole news division over to the entertainment branch, and they transform Beale’s news show into this big entertainment program, and they dub him the ‘Mad Prophet of the Airwaves’.”

At that point I saw that the figurative wheels were starting to turn in his head. This could be either good or bad.

I continued with the summary. “The entertainment producer decides to broker a deal with some political extremist group so they could cause havoc and boost the ratings of the new show. They believe that keeping people afraid will help them stay tuned to the network.”

His optimistic look started to fade. I began to worry.

“So what happened to this show?” he asked.

“According to the narrator, it became the most-watched show in television history,” I said. “And Beale went on and on about any kind of subject that piqued his interest before collapsing in front of the cameras, much to the glee of the studio audience. Unfortunately one of his targets turned out to be the network itself, and he began to talk about the network’s new partners in Saudi Arabia. This led to a confrontation with the network president, and he leads Beale to a new sermon about the joys of capitalism. Unfortunately when he starts preaching all about capitalism, his ratings begin to slide, the entertainment producer has the extremist group kill him on the air.”

This was not turning out well. I could see from the look on his face that he didn’t like how it ends.

“But I think we can fix this,” I quickly said. “Maybe in our remake we can give a powerful ending. Maybe we can start with him already as a corporate tool for the advertisers. Maybe instead of him having a nervous breakdown, he can sell the idea of being a ‘Mad Prophet of the Airwaves’ to a cable news channel, and they decide go with it so that they can hide any look into their foreign investors.”

I was losing him. I could see it.

“And…” I started reaching. “Maybe… maybe the big climax would be the media trying to make him go away and instead he uses the extremist group to organize a huge rally… and we see him in Washington and…”


He gestured with his hand for me to turn around and look at the wall behind me.

There on the flat-screen TV was a live broadcast from a certain foreign-owned cable news channel, one sometimes accused of mixing news and “entertainment”. One of their biggest media personalities, a man known for his outlandish and “prophet-like” rhetoric, was speaking in front of a huge rally in Washington DC, and the common message amongst the followers was that they were “mad as hell and they weren’t going to take it anymore”.

Obviously my idea for a remake of “Network” never got the green light. Because let’s get brutally honest here… it’s a little hard to come up with a remake of that classic movie that would be better than the one that Glenn Beck and FoxNews are delivering in the real world.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Week of 08/23/2010

The Wall Street Job
– by David Matthews 2

If you have never seen TNT’s original cable series “Leverage” before, you really need to.

The series stars Academy-Award winner Timothy Hutton as a former insurance investigator who brings together some of the best criminals in the world and has them doing good deeds. Each of the people he brings in are the best in their particular specialty, from hacking to safecracking to grifting to strong-arming, and they each realize that they can do a whole lot of good by scamming the rich and powerful and bringing them to justice over the poor and powerless.

We need some folks like that in the real world.

Correction: we need A LOT of folks like that in the real world.

Correction again: we need a whole LEGION of folks like that in the real world.

One of the key reasons why this show is so successful is that it actually plays TWO con jobs with every episode. The one that you know about… and the one that comes out of left field.

The first con job is the one designed for the rich and powerful bad guy. They’re going to see to it that justice is served, but they don’t seem to have everything under control. It’s almost a comedy of errors. Nothing seems to work right, luck isn’t on their side, or maybe the bad guy is just too good or too skilled or just too powerful…

And then right at the very end is when they spring the SECOND con job… the one played on the AUDIENCE. Because we the audience only sees PART of the con… the set-up, the part that the bad guy is supposed to figure out. But we don’t realize until the very end that it was all part of the overall con job to lower the bad guy’s defenses and make him or her believe that they have won when really they’ve lost everything. It’s only after the trap has been sprung that we see the rest of the story and we see that the crew had been in control of everything from day one.

It’s the same magic from the “Oceans Eleven” movie, although it never really was carried over into the sequels. You only tell part of the story, you make people believe that the favored cons failed when in fact they were playing with the audience and the bad guys all this time. And then you show what the audience didn’t get to see before, the bad guy gets caught, the good guys win, everyone gets a good laugh, roll the credits.

Unfortunately, such kind-hearted grifters and thieves don’t exist in the real world. And we desperately need them now more than ever.

Instead we are given ringside seats to the biggest ongoing con game in recent history. Bigger than “Pig-in-a-Poke”, bigger than “Nigerian Prince”, or the “Fiddle Game”, or even “Three Card Monty”.

No, we’re talking “THE WALL STREET JOB”!

This is the ultimate in confidence tricks, requiring several different cons all running at different times to produce the overall result. But make no mistake; no matter how many plans are spinning like plates on poles, the overall plan ALWAYS manages to deliver!

We start with a little misdirection… a short-cut if you will; much like the “get rich quick” schemes, only this is directed at governments large and small. They spin this fantasy of a utopian community with luxury homes, gourmet shops, joyful businesses, top-notch medical centers, and more than enough tax revenue to fund every pet program and be the envy of the country. The politicians wouldn’t have to worry about re-elections because their campaign coffers would be fat with generous donations and the masses wouldn’t be complaining about potholes and failing services.

It’s a beautiful fantasy, isn’t it? And the politicians can have it too. All they have to do is just focus all of their attention on the smallest portion of their constituency… the ones with all of the money. It seems almost second nature to politicians, but we’re talking about them having to put on a whole dog-and-pony show where they claim to represent EVERYONE and yet have to abandon MOST of the people just so they can concentrate their time and attention to the people up top.

For lack of a better term, we’ll just refer to these people as “Wall Street”, and the rest of the constituency as “Main Street”.

To further sell this scheme, “Wall Street” has to rely on other people to come in as experts. We’re talking advisors, consultants, and think-tank organizations. These experts spin the belief that “Wall Street’s” gain is really “Main Street’s” gain, as “Wall Street” would automatically “share the wealth” with “Main Street”. All the politicians have to do is worry about “Wall Street” and keep them happy and “Wall Street” will in turn make “Main Street” happy. And the best way to keep “Wall Street” happy is to give them whatever they want; no questions asked.

Of course the experts are really a part of “Wall Street”, but they come off as being “impartial observers” so well that nobody suspects it.

So when “Wall Street” says that regulations hurt their productivity, the experts will sell the idea that fewer regulations and lax oversight will result in faster production and greater profits. And greater profits are good, right? Because it means that “Wall Street” will “share the wealth” with “Main Street” and everyone would be happy.

Okay, so a bunch of “Main Street” businesses are bought up by “Wall Street”, but that’s supposed to be a good thing according to the experts. It means better resources for those businesses. It means more profit for “Wall Street” because it then supposedly turns into good times for “Main Street” in general.

And when “Wall Street” says they need to “optimize” their resources by removing redundancy and shutting down local banks and stores and “streamline” processes by sending jobs to third world nations, nobody notices it, because the politicians are only looking at the profit margins and seeing those go up.

And when “Wall Street” is finally pressured to hire more people they will tell the politicians “Yeah, we’ll hire more people. In fact we’ll hire a thousand new employees. Oh, by the way, thank you for those 1000 work visas you gave us earlier so we don’t have to worry about hiring all of those local people we laid off before. Now we can bring in a whole new crowd of people from other countries that will appreciate the substandard wages we will pay them, and then get rid of them by ending their visas when they start to complain.”

Now the beauty of “The Wall Street Job” is that even if certain elements happen to fail, the overall plan doesn’t, because as long as the attention is focused on “Wall Street’s” profits, everything else can go to hell and nobody will care. Workplace morale, abysmal production quality, declining real wages, poor turnovers… it doesn’t matter as long as profit margins continue to rise. Bad managers may destroy a business from the inside-out, but they also get cushy contracts that give them hundreds of millions in severance, plus they are free to go find another business to do the same thing to.

This part of the con really went to the next level in 2008, when the politicians were convinced that they should spend BILLIONS on bailouts to give to “Wall Street”. “Wall Street” promises that the money would then be spent on “Main Street”, but they don’t really say how or when. The money is put in their coffers, their profit margins soar, and the politicians think that the problem is thereby solved… only “Main Street” doesn’t really see any new jobs. When asked about the money, “Wall Street” conveniently says that the market is just too “unstable” right now to invest the money in, even though they were GIVEN the money to specifically prevent the market from being “unstable”!

And through it all… nobody in “Main Street” or the political world are seeing what is really going on.

Let’s get brutally honest here… we are being CONNED!

We have been led to believe that the success of “Wall Street” is equal to the success of “Main Street” when the two are completely different entities! “Wall Street” is about one thing and one thing only: IMMEDIATE PROFIT. They don’t care HOW they make it, they don’t care who they have to step on to make it, and they don’t care if they have to break laws or rules or even whole communities to get it.

You look at all of the notorious business enterprises, the darlings of “Wall Street”, and you see one common element: their obsessive fixation on short-term immediate PROFIT. They just need to get their “numbers”, and that is all that matters to them. Everything else and everyone else can go to hell. Enron, WorldCom, Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, they were all fixated on PROFIT. They didn’t care about long-term survival. They just needed to make their numbers TODAY and worry about tomorrow when it comes about.

“Main Street” is about permanence. It is about the LONG-TERM. When “Main Street” welcomes a new business into the community, they don’t think that the business will only be around for six months or even a year. They’re looking at a business and seeing LONG-TERM. They expect every business that comes in to have jobs that are LONG-TERM. People cannot engage in things such as getting a home mortgage or buying a new car or planning for a vacation or redecorating or remodeling if they do not have a sense of LONG-TERM stability to back it up! They will not get a twenty-year mortgage if they don’t know if they will still have a job six months down the road.

In the first season of “Leverage”, the newly-reformed grifters and thieves were shocked to discover that they had a central building to go to, and individual offices, and email accounts. They were so used to just focusing on the next immediate short-term scheme that they didn’t realize that their new venture would be so… permanent.

And that, above everything else, spells out the difference between “Wall Street” and “Main Street”. “Main Street” sees “Wall Street” as a long-term partner. “Wall Street” considers “Main Street” to be just another mark, just another victim to scam. We need to start recognizing this difference and act accordingly, or else we will not have a “Main Street” left to call our own.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Week of 08/16/2010

WikiLeaks versus “No Snitching”
– by David Matthews 2

There comes a point in a story about evil where someone’s conscience gets the better of them and they have to tell SOMEONE of the great evil going on. The great conspiracy, the great catastrophe, the great master scheme or plan being carried out…

In the movie “JFK”, based on the accounts of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (played by Kevin Costner), the “grand conspiracy” is introduced by the ramblings of David Ferrie (played by Joe Pesci). His long-winded and panic-laden description set the stage for the information that Garrison and his team would assemble and Garrison himself would narrate in the failed trial of Clay Shaw, one of the supposed members of this conspiracy.

Real-life stories are also filled with people who come forward with their knowledge of a grand conspiracy that was just too burdensome to keep silent about. FBI agent W. Mark Felt came forward to reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein about the White House involvement in the Watergate Scandal, which eventually forced President Richard Nixon to resign to avoid impeachment. Linda Tripp exposed the scandal surrounding President Bill Clinton and an intern, which led to his impeachment for lying under oath. Frank Serpico exposed corruption among his fellow New York police officers. Peter Rost discovered accounting irregularities surrounding the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

We call these people heroes.

Or… at least we TELL ourselves that they should be called heroes.

But quite often we don’t think of them as heroes. We brand them as troublemakers, miscreants, saboteurs, and even traitors. We damn them for doing the right thing, for speaking out and showing the bad things that need to be fixed. We don’t say “thank you” for exposing the evils, we condemn them for DARING to upset that precious status quo that we are so fixated on.

That is one of our larger double-standards in society. We WANT people to stand up and speak out and expose the truth, but then we get upset when they do. Don’t speak up, don’t tattle, don’t make waves, and don’t say anything. Just sit down, shut up, and let life go on.

That brings us to WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks is a website that started in 2006 to serve as the central warehouse for documents and submissions of various activities involving nations, groups, and businesses. A place where people could expose the evils of the world without the fear of reciprocity.

From the get-go, they knew that they would be causing trouble. They pissed off several nations, big corporations, exposed dissent among the scientific community about climate change, and even posted email reportedly from Sarah Palin’s hacked account.

But now they’re focusing on the War in Afghanistan. And now the chickenhawks in the conservative and neo-conservative community are screaming bloody murder.

WikiLeaks has exposed the darker side of this ongoing war, the civilian casualties, the cases of friendly fire, proof of paid propaganda, and the mention of weaponry that terrorists and the Taliban reportedly “did not possess”. The latter certainly would have been helpful for the servicemen fighting and dying over there trying to stop the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies.

And yet the chickenhawks want WikiLeaks punished. They want the founders locked up for treason and the website shut down for DARING to expose the grittier side of war instead of showing the sanitized “clean” version that they think war should be.

They claim that they don’t want to risk the lives of servicemen, but isn’t underreporting the capabilities of the enemy doing just that? Isn’t holding that information back from the people that need to know such things putting the soldiers that they claim to protect at risk?

As for the incidents of friendly fire and civilian casualties, while some incidents are to be expected, they’re insistence that EVERY incident needs to be covered up doesn’t help the cause. Indeed, they are actually feeding the propaganda of the enemy by keeping such information secret. The enemy certainly knows what’s been going on and they’re willing to use that information as part of their recruitment even if our own government doesn’t want to own up to it.

Let’s get brutally honest here… WikiLeaks is doing EXACTLY what we CLAIM to want in society! We supposedly WANT people to expose evil and wrongdoing. They’re doing just that!

And it’s damned hypocritical for the conservative and neo-conservative chickenhawks to scream bloody murder over WikiLeaks exposing the ugly side of war when they had no problems whatsoever crowing about the “climate change” emails!

But perhaps the biggest bunch of hypocrites in the world right now are those in the media who are quick to question WikiLeaks for exposing the evils of the world. They question whether or not WikiLeaks is truly the “new wave” of journalism.

Well there is a distinct difference in what WikiLeaks is doing and what the mainstream air-fluffed ego-driven media has been doing. The difference is this: WikiLeaks is not exposing evils for the sake of ratings. They’re not chasing people down with cameras simply to show them on the 6pm news. They’re simply putting the information out there, without editorials, without the condescending comments from anchors before moving on to weather and sports.

And maybe that’s why the media is concerned about WikiLeaks… after all, they’re ruining a seemingly good business operation.

Someone in a very old book said that you cannot serve two masters… and the whole issue with WikiLeaks is essentially about having to choose between two such masters. It is about choosing between living up to our own promises of wanting evil exposed, or in keeping the status quo going. It’s either “doing what’s right” or “don’t snitch”. Take your pick, but you can’t have them both, no matter how badly you want them.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Week of 08/09/2010

The GOP’s Greatest Enemy: The GOP
– by David Matthews 2

I hate cheaters. I despise cheaters.

It really goes back to when I was a kid and the other kids would cheat to get their way.

The only thing that I hate worse than cheaters are the cheaters that are allowed to get away with their games.

Cheating is anarchy in its purest form. It is the complete and utter voiding of the rules that the rest of us either agree to or are otherwise obligated to follow. Cheating spits in the face of those rules and it spits in the face of the rest of the people and they say “Nya-Nya! I’m special! Rules don’t apply to me! I’m better than all of YOU!”

People like that are the reasons why we invented things like the guillotine. No, seriously. It’s true. Read up on the French Revolution if you don’t believe me. In fact the whole period of time from the French Revolution to the reign of Napoleon could be considered society’s reaction to the blatant and institutionalized cheating done by the ruling class.

Of course we LIE to ourselves and we say that “cheaters never win” or “cheaters never prosper”, but in truth they do. They DO win. They DO prosper and profit from what they do. And they ARE allowed to get away with it. And sometimes they’re very BLATANT in being able to get away with it. In fact they are so blatant about it that you have to possess supernatural willpower to refrain from inflicting grievous bodily harm on them, partly because YOUR violation of “the rules” would not be tolerated even though THEIR violation of “the rules”, which predicated it, apparently is allowed.

But the worst cheaters, the ones that you REALLY want to inflict prolonged and grievous bodily harm on, are the ones that are able to get away with their anarchy by changing the rules. It doesn’t matter if it’s something in the fine print or some exception they managed to get passed into law, they are able to codify their cheating so that they are allowed to get away with their criminal activities and don’t even have to apologize for doing them.

And that brings us to the biggest cheaters in the world… yes, even bigger than Big Multinational Multi-conglomerate Corporations… I’m talking about the Grand Old Party, or the GOP.

I can’t even call them “Republicans” anymore, because their very continued existence is an out-and-out hypocrisy to everything that the original Republican Party stood for. In fact, the best way to describe the GOP of today is not “Republicans” but rather “Oligarchs”, “Kleptocrats”, “Plutocrats”, “Fascists”, or just plain “ANTI-Republicans”. And that last part should become clear when you compare their history with what they claim to support today.

And please spare me the endless email rebuttals saying that oligarchy, kleptocracy, plutocracy, and fascism are totally separate concepts. I KNOW they are! The problem is that the GOP borrows from ALL FOUR of those political philosophies whenever it suits them.

And also spare me the endless email rebuttal of “Well, the DEMOCRATS are even worse!” This article is NOT ABOUT THE DEMOCRATS! Again, this is another attempt by cheaters to get away with their criminal activities by changing the rules. It is nothing more than a cheap tactic to justify their own various crimes against society by simply saying that other people do the same thing or worse.

Hey, how many times are you able to get away with that in your own personal lives? “Well gee, Officer, you shouldn’t write a ticket for me speeding because OTHER PEOPLE do far worse things than this!” Yeah, go ahead and DO that the next time you get caught doing 70 in a school zone! I DARE YOU!

In fact the diversion itself is yet ANOTHER crime against society committed by the GOP and their supporters, because you cannot claim to support “law and order” and “the rule of law” while at the same time saying “well, we should be allowed to get away with anything we want to because the OTHER dominant party does even worse things. We won’t say what they are and we don’t have to come up with any evidence, but we know they do even worse things and that justifies our own actions.”

This is about the GOP, the ANTI-Republicans. The champions of the very opposite of everything their predecessors supported and fought for.

Case in point: the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Here’s a little history, folks. The Fourteenth Amendment was ratified on July 9th, 1868. It was written to bolster the efforts of Congress, as led by the brand-spanking-new Republican Party, to eliminate all efforts to negate the Emancipation Proclamation, which outlawed slavery. In fact, we had just waged a bloody Civil War over that very subject. Oh, and yes, the Southerners are still in denial about it and claim that it was about “States Rights”, but when you pin them down on what specifically they objected to, they will grudgingly admit it was about slavery, but I digress.

Prior to the Fourteenth Amendment, you had three groups covered in the Constitution. First you had Congress, which was told what it could and could not do. Then you had the States, and they were told in the Tenth Amendment that anything that Congress doesn’t cover and what has not been reserved for the people, they were free and clear to do. And then you had the general public, which basically got the leftovers.

So for the longest time, state governments were saying “Well, just because CONGRESS can’t do something doesn’t mean that WE can’t either!” And that’s where we ended up with a whole bunch of restrictive freedom-hating “blue laws”. It basically was the state legislators slapping the American people in the face and saying “Nya-Nya! We can get away with this ‘cuz we’re not Congress!”

After the Civil War, those same slave-loving state leaders looked at the Constitution and they said “Well, CONGRESS may outlaw slavery and prohibit discrimination by race, but that doesn’t mean that WE have to!” And then they proceeded to write a whole bunch of new laws that would do everything in their power to NEGATE what the REAL Republican Party tried to implement. They wanted the newly-emancipated former slaves to not be treated as American citizens. They wanted to be able to deprive the former slaves of the very Constitutional protections that they themselves enjoyed.

In other words, the state legislators changed the rules to be able to get away with their continued crimes.

This necessitated the creation of the Fourteenth Amendment, which basically told state legislators that anything that Congress is prohibited from doing to the people, the states are ALSO prohibited from doing. You can’t overrule Congress (unless you’re the Supreme Court), you can’t usurp Congress (unless you’re the Supreme Court), and for good measure they also defined citizenship to being anyone born or naturalized in the United States, so the states could not re-define the former slaves as being foreigners if they were born in this nation.

In other words, the state legislators were told that they HAD to follow the rules, whether they liked it or not… and obviously they didn’t, otherwise this would have been a moot point from the get-go.

So now fast-forward almost a century-and-a-half… we have the GOP still around, we have the Democrats still around, and what is the dreaded bogeyman of the GOP? What is that “pressing issue” that they “NEED” to eliminate at the earliest opportunity?

The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

No, I’m not kidding. The GOP, the so-called “Republican Party”, is entertaining efforts to ELIMINATE the Fourteenth Amendment! The VERY CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT that their predecessors worked hard to get ratified!

And they’re doing this on TWO fronts.

First battlefield front: gay marriage bans. Well, actually it’s the “equal protection” clause that they want to attack, but gay marriage is a much better wedge issue for them and their theo-conservative base. As soon as certain states started thinking about allowing gay marriages, other state legislatures started panicking. So the GOP, following orders from their friends in the theo-conservative base, got a federal law passed that said that states can actually AVOID the Fourteenth Amendment and not recognize the legal marriage status.

No, that’s not a typo… the party that originally WROTE the Fourteenth Amendment turned around and got enacted a law that told states they were allowed to IGNORE it at their leisure.

So a federal judge rules that California voters can’t ignore the Fourteenth Amendment, so what do the GOP want to do? Yup, they want to once again find a way to get states to nullify the equal protection clause.

Now in all fairness, the GOP has been trying to get rid of this part of their own creation for a lot longer and for various OTHER reasons than just gay marriage. But the level of hypocritical polarization of this issue is so strong with certain Americans that they will use it to justify ANYTHING!

But if you thought the first battlefield front was low, the second one will really make you sick.

The second battlefield front: children of immigrants. YES THEY ARE ATTACKING CHILDREN! You know, children, their precious political sacred cows. And they’re being blatant about it!

You see, the big fear, according to certain neo-conservatives, is that people are coming into America illegally, having babies in the country, and then using those newly-born American citizens as the justification for them to stay in America. But rather than deal with the issue of immigration itself, the politicians find it better to simply attack the citizenship clause in the Fourteenth Amendment. They want it changed so that illegal immigrants can’t have babies here and make them automatic American citizens. They want to be able to take children who are born into this country and kick them out just because their parents were here illegally.

In other words, the GOP, which originally fought to prevent states from declaring huge segments of the populace to not be citizens of the United States, now are pushing for efforts to NEGATE THAT!

And it needs to be mentioned (although they would rather not) that this is the SAME general political group that firmly believes - or at least supports - or at least wants to explore the legal possibility - that the first African-American to be sworn in as President of the United States was not really born in this country… even though his birth certificate has been validated by TWO state agencies and every claim to the contrary has been proven to be fakes. Yes, they want to RE-DEFINE what “native born citizen” means so that having an American mother and being born in the state of Hawaii somehow “doesn’t count”. They would rather not TALK about that part of the deal in polite conversation, but that faction is still there and they are still making noise, and they ALSO want the Fourteenth Amendment to be changed, because they don’t like who is in the White House.

I could bring up plenty of other issues, other faults with the GOP, but I think I’ve made my point here.

Let’s get brutally honest here… the GOP’s worst enemy is NOT the Democrats. Their REAL enemy seems to be their own history. They were the ones that created the Fourteenth Amendment in the first place, and now, not only are the desecrating their own creation by doing everything to neuter it, but they’re using it as an election-time bogeyman, campaigning against the very thing they fought hard to implement. Why? Because it’s no longer working FOR them!

Here it is folks, the absolute epitome of a cheater: rules are only followed when they work FOR you.

And yet, that doesn’t even get to the lowest of low for this subject, because the next question that needs to be asked is… WOULD they actually get rid of the Fourteenth Amendment if given the opportunity to after the election? (Presuming, of course, that the voters make the mistake of giving them any more power than they already have.)

And here I would have to say they probably wouldn’t. After all of the fuss and the drama surrounding the various parts of the Fourteenth Amendment, the career politicians in the GOP would, no doubt, do what they have done with so many other political promises made during an election year… they will quietly dismiss it so they can focus their attention to other things that they would have a better chance of enacting. In other words,

You would think that the GOP, which tosses about words like “heritage” and “history” and “traditional” as though they suffer from Tourette’s Syndrome, would have a better appreciation of their own history. THEY CREATED the Fourteenth Amendment to prevent the VERY abuses that they are now guilty of, and now that it is no longer working FOR them, they talk about getting rid of it.

And in true cheating fashion, they will continue to get away with this double standard. They will continue to get away with cheating and bending of the rules simply because there is nobody left that can call them out on it.

Well, nobody except for certain Internet-based columnists.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Week of 08/02/2010

Goodbye My Friend
– by David Matthews 2

This past weekend I had to do something that all pet owners dread.

I had to have my cat put to sleep.

Boris had been with me for sixteen years. He was my friend and companion since he was a kitten. He had been with me through three different homes, through the best and worst times of my life.

Cat owners love to joke about how their cats really own them, but in Boris’ case, he literally adopted ME.

In 1994, I was not in a condition to adopt a cat. I had just lost a young kitten that I was very fond of. I had spent four months taking her through vets only to have her be put to sleep due to kidney failure. I was still in miserable shape because of it. I was depressed. I felt like I was poison.

That was when I attended a county fair, and I came across the local animal shelter’s booth. This worker was trying to comfort this tiger-stripped kitten who did not want to be held. I said hello and immediately he leaped out of the volunteer’s hands, crawled up my chest, perched himself on my shoulder, and stuck his nose in my ear.

This volunteer was taken by surprise. She had never seen him do that to anyone ever before.

Well, I wasn’t there to adopt a kitten. I was there to enjoy the fair. So I handed the kitten back to the volunteer, and I said I would be back later on.

Later that night, with other volunteers watching, I returned to the shelter’s booth, and once again this little kitten leaped out of the volunteer’s arms, climbed up my chest, perched himself on my shoulder like a parrot, and stuck his nose into my ear. That sealed the deal. I may not have been looking for a new kitten, but he was determined to make me his new human.

Boris stayed by my side for sixteen years. He would be there with me at the start of the day, letting me know it was time to get out of bed, and he would let me know when it was time to go to bed at the end of the night. He was there for me when I was bored, when I was depressed, when women broke my heart, when institutions let me down, he would always be there for some needed love and attention.

He wasn’t perfect. There were times when he would be a pain. He chided me when I would come home, even if it was just to run a quick errand. He hated to travel, unless it was in my arms. He hated the pet carrier and the trips to the vet. He wanted whatever I ate, no matter what it was. If I sat at the dining room table, he wanted whatever I was eating, even if I wasn’t eating anything at all. And yet despite his faults, he still was a little kitten at heart, even if he was getting older and bigger and heavier. His favorite hiding spot was the laundry basket. He loved anything that had my smell on it.

Let’s get brutally honest here… Boris was the best companion one could ever expect from a pet. He gave me a reason to keep going even when nothing else did. Even when the world conspired against me, he was still there for me.

And the hardest time for me has been watching as he gradually went from a kitten that won’t grow up to an old cat preparing to leave. It was agonizing to watch this transformation. On the last day he knew that it was time. For the first and only time in his life he didn’t fight being put into the cat carrier. He didn’t complain all through the journey in the car. My last words to him were “I’m sorry,” followed by a rub of his belly as the veterinarian took him away. There was nothing more I could do. I wish there was.

There have been other pets in my life, and they were all unique friends in their own ways, but it’s never easy to lose them, no matter how long they’ve been with me. This time was no different. In fact, it was all the more difficult, because I know he won’t be there for me when I need him the most.

Some people do take pet ownership to an extreme. Some will treat them as their children. Some will treat their pets better than they would their own children. But for me Boris wasn’t a child. He was a friend and a companion. He moment he first saw me, he knew I would take him home. I needed him, and he knew that, even if I didn’t. That is the best example of a companion if there ever was one.

And what comes next is just as hard as watching him leave. It’s actually saying the word that need to be said. The word that closes that part of my life. A life that was made just a little bit brighter, just a little more tolerable, just a little more bearable, simply because he, with all of his little eccentricities, was in it.