Monday, December 5, 2011

Week of 12/05/2011

The 2011 Brutally Honest Awards
– by David Matthews 2

Yes, it’s time to wrap up things for the year. It’s time to fire up the lists and name the names, honor the best of the best and condemn the worst of the worst, and if it seems like there’s more of the latter and fewer of the former, it’s only because we’re not going after the truly worst of the bunch like we need to.

It’s time for the 2011 Brutally Honest Awards!

So let’s get it on…

The Biggest Failures For America in 2011: President Barack Obama, the Democrats in Congress, and the GOP in Congress. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. They’re all guilty. They have done nothing to deal with the continuing death spiral of the US Economy. They have done nothing to deal with the perpetrators of our collective misery and instead have aided and abetted the continued plunder of our economy. They have used every opportunity to fix things to instead play partisan games, finger-point, and narcissistically project their own faults onto others.

They deserve our anger, our bile, our rage, and the one thing they desperately do not deserve whatsoever are our votes next year.

The Biggest Wasted Opportunity for 2011: President Obama’s “Jobs Bill”. There was an opportunity for Obama to do something monumental concerning our continual economic death spiral and the Raubwirtschaft mindset in Wall Street. But instead of getting a Franklin Roosevelt “New Deal” idea, we got a Jimmy Carter-level “put on another sweater” suggestion and yet another spending program designed to tread water.

To call this a “mistake” is an insult to the American people. This is almost criminal negligence.

The Biggest Tease of 2011: Former Governor Sarah Palin. It’s one thing to actually announce that you’re running or not running for President, but Palin milked the whole anticipation thing to the hilt. She was doing “listening tours” at the same time as the “official” candidates were out doing their marathon debates and arguing over who would be better poised to defeat Obama. She was telling the media “don’t follow me” while at the same time travelling around in a huge tour bus that looked very much like a campaign bus.

If she didn’t want the media to “follow her”, then she should have gone back to Alaska. Or at the very least she could have sent the tour bus away. She did neither.

The Biggest Douchebags in America for 2011 (and beyond): Wall Street and their supporters. And yes, that includes Rupert Murdoch, Fox News, and his various Fox News media personalities. Don’t forget that Murdoch not only owns Fox News and the Wall Street Journal but also the Dow Jones, a significant portion of the parasitic entity that is Wall Street. So when the various Fox News media personalities start bashing the “Occupy” crowd, they are doing so as paid whores of Wall Street.

And it doesn’t help when you have pompous, self-righteous, self-serving snarky douchebags like Newt Gingrich telling people who are out of work and out of a home to just “get a job” and “take a bath”. Of course he has the luxury of making such asinine comments while he’s under the protection of the Secret Service. He doesn’t have to own up to the consequences of his words. How convenient.

The Biggest Waste of Time in 2011: The 72-day Wedding of Kim Kardashian. How much lower can so-called “Reality Television” sink to if they have to waste enormous amounts of time hyping up a wedding where the hype actually lasted longer than the wedding itself? Never mind what Kris Humphries supposedly did or did not do, it’s America that should be accusing VH-1 and the other entertainment networks of psychological abuse! We’re the ones that should be filing for divorce.

Yes, so-called “Reality Television” programs have brought people together and have chronicled the destruction of relationships, but this is not supposed to be happening within the same three-month period!

But, I think if cable television created this mess, then it should also be obligated to clean up the mess. The participants (including the production crew) should undergo marathon season-long counseling sessions by Dr. Phil on the Oprah Winfrey Network. By the end of the first week they all would be swearing off not only TV programs, but even television itself!

The Rot-in-Hell Forever Award for 2011 (tie): Osama bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi. Oh you know that those blood-thirsty war-mongering neo-conservatives were kicking themselves to no end over this. First, U.S. servicemen finally manage to find and kill Osama bin Laden, public enemy number one for almost ten years now. Then a few months later, Libya self-destructs into civil war, and Muammar Gaddafi, aka the man with fifty different spellings for his name, is chased from power and ends up getting killed by his own citizens!

Think about it! We lost bin Laden in the spring, and Gadaffi in the summer! Two of America’s most notorious instigators of mass-murder were killed in battle, one of whom by our own forces! And the neo-conservatives had absolutely nothing to do with either of them! They were the ones on the sidelines complaining about why we are even there as long as Obama is in the White House.

But, though madness, there be method to their complaints. Neo-conservatives love war, like any good fascist does, but they don’t want that war to end. They need to have a war go on indefinitely; wasting what they love to call “blood and treasure” to keep themselves in power. Killing bin Laden and Gaddafi ends the reason for war, so it is counter-productive to their ultimate aim of keeping people in that war-like mentality that is needed for their political philosophy to flourish.

As Lex Luthor said it best in “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace”, “Nobody wants war. I just want to keep the threat alive.” That’s the neo-con policy right here, except that they not only want war, but they also want to keep the threat going. That’s how they can proclaim that America is still “the freest nation in the world” and “the safest nation in the world”, and then scream equally loudly about perceived terrorist threats and about how “we can never be safe anymore”.

I just hope that the next time around we can end up with a global bad guy that we can both pronounce and spell uniformly.

The “Make Them Stop” Award for 2011: The GOP “Recruiters”. You would think that they would learn after what they did with Fred Thompson in 2008. They brought in a guy that was clearly not ready into the Presidential circus, only to have him sputter and burn out quickly. They did it again with Governor Rick Perry this time around, and then they tried with Governor Chris Christie, and then, for good measure, they tried one more time with Sarah Palin. They just don’t seem to get it… if the candidate isn’t ready then you can’t coax them into it and expect them to instantly be the “chosen one”!

If you want a real challenge to prove your worth as a “king-maker”, then find a Democrat to run against Obama next year. And have it be someone that does not have either “Hillary” or “Clinton” in their name.

The Ma Bell Award For Monopolistic Attitudes in 2011: Too-Big-To-Fail Banks. Which part of “wrong” do the banks not understand?

First we have the robo-signing mortgage foreclosure fraud that they’re lobbying for “Get Out Of Jail Forever” cards for. Then they start charging for checking, telling people they need to start using ATMs and debit cards for their purchases. And then… you guessed it. They start announcing fees to use those!

Now, I know that customers can and should be pulling their money out of those kinds of banks, and there were many that did, but this kind of predatory plundering of their own customer base should be proof enough that the banks behind this kind of scam should be broken up like the original AT&T in the 80’s. These are the kinds of scams that necessitate and validate the need for government regulations.

And if there is any more proof that these banks need to be shut down, it is the revelation that they’ve been doing sweetheart deals with various states to administer and dispense funds for social services, but using bank debit cards that they then hit up with a fee. If a store or a business did that then it would be illegal. But because the banks are doing this with the blessing of the state and local agencies they’ve whored the constituents out to, it’s considered business-as-usual.

This is parasitic plunder, plain and simple. The banks behind it need to go away, and the government officials that allowed it need to be prosecuted and imprisoned.

The New Operative Word for 2011: Raubwirtschaft. It’s German for “Plunder Economy”. Look it up if you don’t believe me. Figures the Germans would come up with yet another word to aptly describe human misery.

The Most Likely To Deserve Getting Their @sses Kicked for 2011: The People Who Call The Rich “Risk-Takers”. When the biggest excuse for not investing in new jobs is “the economy is too risky”, then you forfeit any claim of being called “risk-takers”. And if you have a problem with that, then you should find there are plenty of people willing to “educate” you while also showing just how well your health insurance coverage is.

The Worst Comic Book Trick for 2011: DC Comics and their “New 52”. I don’t mind a reboot when one is needed. DC Comics did not need one this badly. Bean counters be damned; if you’re comparing yourself to Marvel Comics and Marvel is sucking in terms of storyline, and this is the “only alternative”, then you need to stop measuring yourself to Marvel, period. Plus you need to start finding better bean counters.

DC turned their latest “big crisis” event into an excuse to redo the entire DC Universe so they could merge their “New Earth” characters with those of the Wildstorm Universe, formerly known as Earth-50.

Okay, fine. It’s been done before. So we have Grifter and Fairchild and the members of The Authority in the same universe as Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman. But that still did not justify scrapping almost everything in the DC universe and starting from scratch.

So now we have Superman no longer married to Lois Lane. He also does not have a family anymore. His foster parents are now both dead. Oh, and he’s now wearing space armor. Originally a T-shirt and jeans with a cape, and now space armor. There is nothing “super” about space armor. Wonder Woman is now the daughter of Zeus instead of being fashioned from clay. The Flash is no longer married to Iris West. We now have a million different super-secret government agencies all with an unlimited budget to create super-soldiers, including a teenaged clone of Superman, and an all-powerful energy-based being that looks remarkably like Doctor Manhattan from “Watchmen”. (And to add insult to injury, the latter character actually was the basis for the “Watchmen” reference.)

There is no Justice Society of America that fought in World War II. Superheroes did not go public until “five years ago”. There is no Power Girl, one of DC’s biggest fan-favorite characters. Barbara Gordon was in a wheelchair but “she got better” and now she’s Batgirl all over again.

Oh, and to make things even more complicated, DC execs have proclaimed that everything that happened before still happened, only now it happened in the span of five years. Yes, Dick Grayson went from being a twelve-year old Robin to a twenty-something Nightwing in the span of five years, and in the process Jason Todd was recruited, killed, and resurrected as “Red Hood”, and Tim Drake was adopted and then “let go” as the new Red Robin, and somewhere in that same time period, Bruce Wayne had a son named Damian, who is now the new Robin. All within the span of five years. I take it DC doesn’t drug test their executives.

And I haven’t even talked about what they did to Starfire and Catwoman. Oh, and the stuff that went on with the Green Lanterns? That stuff doesn’t change! Those storylines escape any kind of reboot. What the hell, DC? What the hell?!?

This is just wrong in so many ways and on so many levels. Sure, some of the story changes are good. Some reboots work out. But you can’t have a reboot in some areas, keep others the same, and then try to make them all work together.

The really insulting part is that they’re justifying this by sales numbers. They’re proclaiming a success because immediate sales numbers are up. These are the same people that originally proclaimed that their salvation would come through perpetual mega-crisis events, that would kill major characters and then bring them back for no other reason than because of the bottom line or because some new movie is about to be released.

DC needs better bean counters. And DC readers that don’t like what they see need a better series of comics to read. I can point you to several, not to mention one that I personally write.

The Best Online Decision for 2011: MMORPGs Going Free-To-Play. Actually it’s not truly “Free-To-Play”, but rather they are a hybrid between that and subscription. It’s called “Freemium”, with a bare-bones service for free, then users can choose to buy additional features or else go full-subscription and get the rest.

The three big superhero-themed MMOs – Champions Online, City of Heroes, and DC Universe Online – all went “Freemium” this year, much to the pleasure of the users eager to try such programs out without having to spend the needed money. In this parasitic economy, every little bit helps, and for those that could not afford to keep up with a subscription, Freemium has brought these former virtual adventurers back into the fold.

The Biggest Superhero MMO Disappointment for 2011: DC Universe Online. There will be an article posted on this at some point soon, but certainly the much-hyped DC Universe Online has come up woefully short compared to Champions Online and City of Heroes. Yes it is the only one of the three that has a cross-platform feature, working for both the PC and PlayStation 3 game system. Yes it follows a very dramatic cinematic teaser. But all of that still does not help when the overall game is bugged. Really, the only good thing in its favor is its graphics and the fact that you’re working with several big-name DC heroes, many of which are no longer the same as their comic book counterparts.

It makes you wonder what Marvel Comics will do with its often-promised MMO.

The Beating-A-Dead-Horse Show for 2011: “Desperate Housewives”. Yes, it’s a good thing that it is in its final season, because it really has gone downhill over the years. Remember when Gabby was just sleeping around instead of getting into comical capers? Remember when Brie was the mistress-manipulator instead of the guilt-ridden den-mother from hell? This used to be an actual nighttime soap opera. Now it’s a bad comedy routine.

The Gutless Cowards on TV for 2011: NBC for killing off “The Playboy Club”. They should have known that anything involving the word “Playboy”, especially in its heyday, would invoke the wrath of the Christian jihadists. So they don’t even bother to give the show a half-a-season when it doesn’t give them the instant ratings they wanted. They wasted all of that free publicity for nothing and it gave the illusion of validating the whims of the self-serving self-righteous jihadists when they should be getting their asses kicked six ways to Sunday. At the very least the NBC execs should be finding a better network to air the rest of the season since they obviously don’t have the courage to stand up to the thumpers.

The Biggest Failure of a Finale in 2011: “Smallville”. How bad is it? I actually had a posting about it on! A ten-season series that should have ended after season four, that continually dragged out the “big event” for six years and turned Superman into Super-Slacker. There were even in-show jokes about the fact that Clark Kent, despite his bravado, was a lily-livered coward when it came to putting on the cape and tights. From the Legion of Super-Heroes asking Clark where his cape is, to Justice Society leader Hawkman chastising Clark and telling him that he hasn’t even “started”, fans of the series and fans of the Superman character got tired of seeing the “Smallville” clown car beating the same dead horse over and over again.

And how did the “Smallville” producers reward their fans for six years of needless drawn-out teasing? With a two-hour finale that should have been at least three hours long, with an earth-shattering crisis that was a pathetic failure, with a confrontation featuring an all-powerful deity that was resolved in a matter of seconds, and with a CGI-animated Superman instead of seeing actor Tom Welling actually wearing the whole Superman outfit.

Time Warner and the CW people couldn’t insult the tormented fans any more than possibly going to everyone’s doors, kicking them in the genitals, and then writing “TOOL” on their foreheads in Kryptonite Green.

The Un-Convicted Criminals of 2011 (tie): Nancy Grace and Rupert Murdoch. I had to give it to both of them because let’s get brutally honest here… neither of them will ever be held to account for their actions.

Murdoch’s is probably the most recognizable. The phone hacking and fraud done by members of his news empire to get “exclusives” already shut down one of his media businesses, and the effect of it is still being revealed. It’s despicable, it’s sociopathic, and it reinforces every complaint made about journalism over the centuries. But it’s quite clear that no matter how bad the extent of it is, Murdoch himself will never really be held responsible for it. The blame will go to some underling. It always does. After all, Murdoch now owns part of Wall Street, and nobody in Wall Street is ever responsible for anything.

As for Nancy Grace, we were subjected to a summer-long media circus concerning the death of two-year old Caylee Anthony, with Grace serving more or less as ring-mistress. Despite her claims to want the police to “do their jobs”, she was the face in the media pushing for charges against Casey Anthony, pushing to punish the mother, pushing for a conviction at all costs. “Tramp stamp and a push-up bra” was Grace’s constant justification for a conviction of “Tot Mom”.

Well maybe in Ms. Grace’s dictatorial world would those things be enough, but here in the real world, the court system requires something rather annoying called proof. A “tramp stamp and a push-up bra” are not proof of foul play. And if she just kept her crusade to her own Headline News TV show, that would be one thing. But because she dragged this case out on every media show she could, she became the ugly face of this farce. The media wanted Casey Anthony convicted, no matter how much proof could be found. They demanded a kangaroo court, and the judicial system, including the jury, did not give Grace and the other members of the media lynch mob the satisfaction they demanded.

That’s not to say that Casey Anthony was innocent. She was found guilty of lying to investigators and she was punished for that. But if she did have anything to do with her daughter’s death, she’ll never be held to account for it specifically because of the antics of the media.

And the really annoying part of this is not that Grace and the others will get away with this attempted hijack of our legal system without any kind of consequence whatsoever, but the realization that this is but the latest in a string of such abusive crusades in her media career.

The Most Annoying Trend On TV for 2011: Screeching Divas on Wrestling Shows. Yes, I watch professional wrestling. But I watch it for the wrestling, not for the drawn-out drama that has hijacked those programs. Remember when female wrestlers actually wrestled? I remember watching a female tag-team wrestling match from Japan and you had four Japanese wrestlers going at it like alley cats, screaming at the top of their lungs as they performed their moves. I miss those days.

Today the only screaming and shrieking going on with female wrestlers is done outside of the ring. Vickie Gurrero, sister to the late Eddie Gurrero, is the queen of banshee-screamers for the WWE, and Karen Jarrett, wife of Jeff Jarrett and ex-wife to Kurt Angle, is the TNA/IMPACT banshee-screamer. Both these women need to lose their voices. “Excuse me!” No, excuse yourself! There is nothing more annoying than wasting fifteen minutes of airtime because a prima-donna banshee wants to scream like a petulant child.

Speaking of prima-donna banshees, that goes double for Michael Cole (WWE) and Rick Flair (TNA/IMPACT). While we’re at it, throw “The Miz” in with the bunch. He’s been a no-talent hack back when he was parading himself around MTV shows, and he’s not a bigger hack today… he just got more needless exposure.

Or, better yet, keep them right where they are and I’ll find better shows to watch. Or just play one of the many MMOs that have gone “Freemium”. They have better storylines.

And finally…

The “You Suck” Award for 2011: The critics. I’ve been at this for fifteen years. Longer than MSNBC, longer than Fox News, longer than Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, My Space, and the Geico Gecko. I was here when the media personalities were dismissing the Internet as a novelty item, and today they’re boasting about setting up Twitter accounts.

And yet I still get criticisms from people that proclaim that I “don’t know anything” about Internet commentary. Excuse me? I was writing columns and articles in local newspapers back when most of these critics weren’t even sperm. I was posting columns online back when Matt Drudge was still dumpster-diving for both stories and dinner. I was doing this long before it was called “blogging”. Don’t know anything? Where the hell have you been?!?

That’s not to say that I don’t learn from criticism. I do. If you compare some of the columns from January with the ones from November then you’ll notice there’s a slight difference. And those that complain that I don’t “include something positive” in my columns clearly have not read my columns for very long. I come up with new ideas often, and they’re dismissed just as quickly by people saying “they’re not realistic” or “they’d never work”. Besides, do you ask that when the Ministry of Truth (aka talk radio and cable TV media personalities) spend their entire time going on tirades?

No, I don’t take criticism well, that much is certain. So I always have to say you suck, but at least you’re willing to say something.

And before I close things down for 2011, here’s a helpful tip: being cool is not defined as whether or not you have a Twitter account. Being cool is knowing that Twitter is there and not feeling compelled to sign up for it just because everyone else says that it’s “cool”. There’s a difference between “cool” and “tool”. Being yourself is “cool”. Doing what everyone else does simply because they’re doing it makes you a “tool”. Guess what that makes all those people that waited in line for the latest iPhone to come out? Here’s a hint: it doesn’t start with a “c”.

See you guys in 2012.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Week of 11/28/2011

Super-Fail By Design
– by David Matthews 2


That’s what the all-mighty “Super-Congress” has been forced to admit and adjourn without doing what it originally said it was supposed to. It was supposed to whip Congress into shape and come up with ways to trim the federal budget, bypassing the usual games played by Senators and Congressmen of secret holds and secretly-inserted “earmarks” and filibusters. And to give this “Super-Congress” some teeth, they threw in a poison pill codicil that says that if the “Super-Congress” cannot come to terms, that an automatic across-the-board cut would devastate federal programs right and left. Nothing would be spared. Every pork program would be on the line.

Only now, this past week, after all that bluster about “bipartisan cooperation”, we have the “Super-Congress” , now being referred to as just a “super-committee”, admitting that it can never come to terms on how to deal with its own reckless spending ways. Oh, and that poison pill codicil? Well they’re going to find ways to get around that. Plus President Obama has said he will veto that poison pill if it comes to his desk.

And thus the reign of the “Super-Congress” comes to an end, not with a bang but with a whimper. The all-mighty deal that nobody supposedly wanted but everyone ended up with in order to sustain an artificial debt ceiling has been broken. The “truce” is dead. Détente has ended. It’s time for teeth-gnashing and chest-pounding and crocodile tears from self-important morons just in time for the 2012 Presidential Election season!

Why should we be surprised?

Seriously, why should any of us be surprised that this so-called “Super-Congress” would fall through?

First of all, all of the GOP members of this “Super-Congress” were hand-picked cronies from Grover Norquist’s K-Street PAC. They all promised to their dying breath that they would never, under any circumstances whatsoever, even if the world were to come to a painful end without it, do anything that would be considered a tax increase. In other words, if a limited-time tax break were to expire as designed, that’s considered a tax increase. If you remove an exception or exemption, that’s considered a tax increase. Their tax extremist mindset is so strict that if Wal-Mart doesn’t honor a competitor’s coupon, then that can be considered a tax increase.

This guarantees that there is only one agenda for this “Super-Congress” to take, and that is slashing government spending and government programs. Under normal circumstances, this is a good challenge to have. But these are not normal times.

Despite the lies being spun by the media and by those in Washington, the whole world is still in the grip of the Great Recession. We have whole nations on the brink of collapse right now, and the perpetrators of our collective misery are being allowed to get away with their criminal acts. As long as we are in that economic death spiral, anything to try to get us out of this Raubwirtschaft mindset will involve government funding at some level, because the business world, quite simply, refuses to do their part. And that, in and of itself, defies conservative thinking.

Plus the conservatives are far from being the budgetary hawks that they fraudulently claim to be. Sure they’ll talk tough about waste, and they’ll nitpick at every program they personally don’t benefit from. But they also know that they have a war fetish to satisfy. The march to fascism requires continued war, and conservatives still have plenty of countries around the world to declare war on. But they cannot scream until they are blue in the face about deficit spending and then take a breath and then scream equally loud about wanting a blank check for Homeland Security and a blank check for the War on Bad Guys Who Aren’t Christians and a blank check for the War on Drugs Not Sponsored By Big Pharma and a blank check for the War on Anything That Offends Christian Groups. That kind of hypocrisy may work inside the Washington beltway, but for those of us who have to live in the real world, that’s called “sending mixed messages”.

But even putting that aside, there is the very idea of a so-called “Super-Congress” (as it was called then), or a “Super-Committee” (as it is called today), or whatever the buzzword for it tomorrow will be. The very thought of a group making the big decisions for the rest of Congress, bypassing all the ego-driven self-serving tricks that Congress incorporates into every action today, given the power to control taxes and spending? That’s sacrilege in their putrid and corrupt minds! That’s like asking them to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, or giving the President real line-item veto power. Their heads would implode before they allow that to happen!

Let’s get brutally honest here… this whole charade of a “Super-Congress” was designed to fail! It was crafted by power-mad members of the GOP and incompetent Democrats to give all the appearances of bipartisan co-operation while their selections made it clear that there would be no co-operation. All it did was to stall the drama for a few more weeks.

The GOP and the Obama Fail painted themselves into a nasty political corner with the whole artificial “debt ceiling crisis”, and they needed a way out, so that’s what they came up with. It was a scam from the beginning. It’s clear through their actions that they had no intention of really dealing with the budget; they just wanted the excuse to complain about it without the pressure of actually producing anything.

The only thing more insulting is the knowledge that this is precisely what the voters voted for. As long as they continue to vote for either the GOP or the Democrats, as long as they listen to the lies that those are the two options when their own ballots prove otherwise, then this is precisely what they will end up getting. As long as they continue to delude themselves into thinking someone else’s incumbent is the problem but never their own, then this is precisely what they will end up getting.

Ultimately the failure is ours. We voted for this in previous elections, and we will probably vote for this again in next year’s election. We got precisely the government we voted for.

But it isn’t a failure for everyone. It certainly isn’t a failure for either the career politicians or for K-Street crowd like those represented by Mr. Norquist. They’re the ones unfurling the “Mission Accomplished” banner and are eagerly awaiting the next artificial crisis to burden the rest of us with.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Week of 11/21/2011

Some Lessons In Life
– by David Matthews 2

As of the posting of this column, I’ll be 45.

Not forty and not fifty; right smack there in the middle. Right at the age for people to send me junk about home mortgages, but not yet old enough to get the junk about reverse-mortgages.

I don’t get too many chances to do an actual “birthday column”, so I figured now would be a good time to share with you some simple things that I’ve learned so far. These are little things that I’ve picked up about this messed-up reality that we live in, and some of them have gone unnoticed, and thus unheeded.

Now let’s get brutally honest here… I’m not going to claim to be an expert in life… because if I was, then a lot more people would be reading this column and you’d be hearing about me in larger online circles. But I’d like to think that at some point in the near future, more people would hear what I have to say, so it’s best to get these out of the way now, when the time is right, and then five or ten years down the line you guys can say “Yeah, I remember this… why didn’t we listen to him back then?” (Yes, I know it’s delusional at this point, but, hey, so is hoping that anything resembling my birthday wishes come true.)

So here goes…

Saying something a million times does not make it true. It just makes you stubborn… or obsessed… or stupid, or even all of the above. Or, worse yet, the universe will actually conspire to ensure that it will never, ever, ever happen simply because you are saying it over and over and over again. The universe is like that… but that’s for a later point.

Think about it: you have people in this world that proclaim to their dying breath that a document called “The Bible”, which has been written and re-written and re-interpreted and re-written and re-interpreted countless times over the centuries, is somehow “eternal and unchanging”. I’m sorry, but if you’re reading that thing in modern-day English, then you cannot claim that it is “eternal and unchanging”. And if you’ve ever played the team-building game called “Switchboard”, then you know how easy it is for mere mortals to get the spoken word wrong, never mind the supposed word of a deity.

It’s all guesswork! Sorry, but it is. Doctors, teachers, scientists, computer programmers, auto mechanics, economists, no matter how many degrees they have, no matter how much they know, it’s still all guesswork for them. They’re not all-seeing or all-knowing. When you go to them for a problem, it’s still all guesswork. They only difference is that they know more about the subject than most other people, so they have a better chance of guessing right. That’s all that it means. I’ve guess right more times than the so-called “economic experts” these past few decades. That doesn’t mean I know something they don’t. It just means my guesses have been more accurate than theirs.

I can summarize the entire TV series “House” for you… and bear in mind that I really like this series, so what I’m saying is not done in spite. Here it is: problem, title credits, guess, fail, guess, fail, guess, fail, guess, fail, forgot something, guess, succeed, end credits. Strip away the characters and the rotating patient list and that’s what you get. You get a series of guesses before someone guesses correctly, and often it’s because of something that is forgotten or was kept a secret. The mystery is always in trying to figure out what that “something” is.

And isn’t it funny that these TV doctors instantly know every possible disease and ailment and genetic defect on the spot, no matter how obscure it is? How often do you see them cracking open a medical journal? I know, I know… too boring. They’d rather show House’s deadpan humor at telling other patients that they’re not really sick but they should change some part of their lives or stop having affairs while he’s popping pain pills like Tic-Tacs.

Numbers do not make crazy things sane! How is it that Reverend Billy-Ray Bob of the Republic Trailer Park can be dismissed as a flake if he says that he gets regular messages from God, but that Presidential contender William Raymond Robert of the “Republican” Party is seen as “sane” when he makes the same claim? When has sanity become something defined by TV-Q and how many Twitter followers and Facebook “likes” someone has? If Trailer-Park Billy is Koo-Koo for Cocoa-Puffs, then so must GOP Billy.

In fact, I will come out and say that numbers make crazy people even more dangerous. Look at what happened with Jonestown if you don’t believe me. Do you really want to compound that level of crazy with the power to nuke this world into a cinder? No? Then stop treating it a prerequisite for the Oval Office!

Yes “it” really can happen “there”! I don’t know how many times I have to hear some suburbanite cry out that a certain kind of crime is “not supposed to happen” there. Security gates and video cameras do not keep out every crime. I have seen people come up with ways to bypass them simply because they’re an “inconvenience”. And I also know that maintenance people that don’t care about fixing these kinds of things until after “the unthinkable” happens; no matter how many times someone complains about them.

It can happen, it does happen, and the only thing that separates your neighborhood and “those places” is that the people that live in “those places” aren’t operating in a constant delusional state. And whatever you do, please stop bringing it up in the media, because whether you know it or not, you’re actually continuing the myth that there really is “someplace” where “it” can never really happen.

That leads me to the next one….

There is no “bottom level” of human depravity. There is a video series I watch every week over at called “What The (F-word) Is Wrong With You”. The guy that hosts it gets a regular supply of news stories of human stupidity and depravity that he shares with his listeners/viewers. Many involve the State of Florida and for some reason he cannot have a week’s worth of stories that does not involve someone getting naked and arrested. You watch that series after a few weeks and you’ll realize that if someone can think “it”, then “it” will be ingested, injected, incinerated, defecated on, or fornicated upon at some point. And not in that order, either.

And speaking of a lack of “bottom”…

Hypocrisy knows no bounds! There is a reason why hypocrisy is so flagrant in society… and that is because nobody gets punished for committing it! There are no real consequences for being a hypocrite! Just look at Newt Gingrich if you don’t believe me. He’s never had to account for his hypocrisy. He’s even boasted, according to one of his ex-wives, that it “doesn’t even matter” that he’s a hypocrite.

We constantly talk about ethics and morals, and yet nobody wants to hold a hypocrite to account for their double-standard. They should lose all credibility in common discourse, removed from the media’s rolodex. Instead, people like Gingrich are given fat contracts with cable news channels and are touted as White House contenders. And all the while they complain about ethics and morals in society, the very two things they have demonstrated to lack themselves.

And that leads me to…

There is such a thing as luck. The person that doesn’t have luck on their side knows that it exists, while the person that has it will adamantly refuse to admit its very existence, never mind its essential importance in their own success. Yes, it is the most common case of hypocrisy in human discourse.

There are people today that are successful despite their talents, despite their skills, and despite their contacts. They will tell you that they were simply at the right place at the right time. But they will bristle at the very suggestion that luck had “anything to do” with it. Hypocrites!

Luck does play a role in this world. It provides the opportunity for people to either succeed or fail. Good luck provides that opportunity. It was how an upstart computer service like America Online was able to buy up Time Warner in the late 1990’s in a deal that had shocked the world. Luck gave Steve Case the opportunity to use his company’s wealth in a big way. From that point on, though, it was on his company to keep Time Warner going, and that’s where it failed.

Think about all of the relationships that got started from mere happenstance. Good luck provides opportunities such as those. Now look at the people who find “the person of their dreams” and then realize that relationship can never happen because they met that person too late. That, too, is a matter of luck; just not the good kind.

And that brings me to the last lesson for now…

The Universe is cruel and malicious. I’ve gone beyond complaining about it at this point. Even with the grace of angels and the best laid plans of mice and men, this universe has demonstrated to me that it has an unending supply of misery to heap on people, especially when those people can afford it the least.

It is the malicious nature of the universe that can allow for a country like Japan to get hit with an earthquake, a tsunami, and a nuclear meltdown, one after the other, while still trying to recover from the Great Recession. Only a cruel universe can create the circumstances for liars and thieves to propel themselves beyond normal accountability, to tempt people with dreams of happiness and then systematically turn those dreams into nightmares, and to ruin the lives of millions so that a slim minority can pompously proclaim themselves to be “risk-takers” when they risk nothing themselves.

Yes, there is plenty of misery and despair that is committed by human hands. The problem is that the universe does not help when it just piles on that misery and despair with more and more of it, and all the while teasing them with dreams of a future they will never have.

Oh and you know how some people claim that “God answers all prayers and sometimes the answer is ‘no’”? Well that’s total BS, because nobody asks a question where the answer is not only “no” but then the person asking it is penalized with even more misery. Plus you automatically forfeit any claim that said deity is “good” when it pulls that kind of stunt.

But, like I said, I’m beyond complaining about it at this point. This is reality. Accept it as you wish, and consider yourself blessed if you have the luxury of denying it. The malicious nature of this universe does not care either way.

And who knows? Maybe when my next birthday comes around, I’ll be given better life-lessons. One can still dream…

Monday, November 14, 2011

Week of 11/14/2011

Capitalism, You Say? The Hell It Is, I Say!
– by David Matthews 2

In his documentary “Capitalism: A Love Story”, Michael Moore starts off by explaining the myth of “capitalism” and how in the 1950’s it was touted as the end-all-be-all for America. It’s supposedly why the United States is so great in the world. It’s why we won World War II and why we would supposedly win the Cold War against the “evil communist threat”.

Of course in the 1940’s and 50’s we were busy giving George Orwell real-life material for his cautionary tales of creeping despotism, so it should be to no surprise that we would start to spin a yarn of mythic propaganda about what who we are and what we do. We did it with the myth of “democracy”, and we did it with the myth about “capitalism”.

But just like it was easier to tell impressionable youths and ignorant foreigners that America is a “democracy” instead of a representative republic with a democratic framework, so too was it easier to spin the tale that our economic system is “free-market capitalism” than what it really was, never mind what it has become today. And make no mistake; to call what we are in right now “capitalism” does the very idea a phenomenal disservice.

America has never really supported a true “free market” system. There has always been some measure of control put in to restrict the marketplace. Sometimes those restrictions are done for some social protection, but other times those restrictions are imposed to preserve the dominance of other businesses. If America was truly in a “free market capitalistic” system, for instance, then one could go to any of the various empty stores in town and turn it into a strip club, or a bordello, or just turn it into apartments for people to live in. But one can point to any number of zoning laws or building restrictions to show how such ideas are just not possible in the current “not-so-free market” system.

At best we’ve existed in a state-controlled system, or even a “crony capitalistic” system. One where rules are put in place to protect certain businesses both from competition and from their own failures. The very idea that any business, banking or otherwise, could be deemed “too big to fail” is proof that there is nothing “free” about this “market”.

At the heart of capitalism is a simple idea of supply-and-demand and the balance that is reached between them. Currency is exchanged for goods and services based on a price determined by the cost to make or provide said goods and services and the demand of the marketplace on the current supply. In order to make a profit under this premise, you simply had to have revenue from said sales outweigh costs, and that came from increasing demand, often by improving quality, and/or cutting costs of production. It’s a relatively simple definition, right?

So where is it in the definition of capitalism that says that prices for goods and/or services can be determined separate from either supply or demand?

For instance, the price of gasoline traditionally was determined by the costs of extracting the oil, refining it, transporting it, and then storing it, plus some added taxes thrown in. Today, that price is supposedly determined not on the actual costs involved in turning oil into gasoline, or in the current demand for that gasoline, but on some hypothetical “future expectation” of both supply and demand. In other words, the price you are paying for the gasoline today is based on some future expectations of costs. It’s like famed Popeye character Wimpy paying for a hamburger today using Tuesday’s prices of next year. That flies in the face of the whole idea of supply-and-demand since you can make up any number you wish and claim that it’s the “expected future costs” of production and demand. And given how those “expected” prices fluctuate not only on a day-to-day basis, but even on an hour-to-hour basis, you have to seriously question the sanity of those “futurists”.

That is, of course, presuming that this is the real explanation for the costs and not just there to falsely justify self-serving greed.

They’re not the only ones doing it, though. Insurance providers do the same thing. They supposedly set the policy rates for their customers based on expected costs of coverage. In theory, if you don’t need their services frequently, then you should be able to keep coverage costs low. So how is it that people who are otherwise healthy be forced to pay more in coverage over some future expectation of health costs? That is precisely what providers are doing in advance of expected federal laws and regulations designed to curb their more abusive practices. We’re talking legislation that could very easily be rendered unconstitutional by the court system before the brunt of it can take effect, but the insurance companies are already forcing customers to pay now for some perceived future shortfall in their revenue.

Again, where is the balance between “supply and demand” here? Both factors are now fictional, but the applications have real-world and real-time consequences.

But this is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Thanks to companies such as Enron, at least until their collapse, a “new” business model began to take shape. A business model that says that a company doesn’t need to adhere to the rules of “supply and demand” in order to make a profit. A business model that says that a company can still make a profit with a generally stagnant customer base through a little “creative accounting”. Money can be shuffled around, with “interest charged” no less, to give the illusion of profit.

And if all else fails, the “new” business model says that companies are perfectly fine to start fleecing their own customers. So what was once provided as a “convenience” is now a fee that is automatically charged whether you wanted it or not.

Airlines do it. Banks do it. Phone and cable companies do it. Auto dealers do it. Major stores do it. It’s a little here and a little there. It’s a “convenience charge”. It’s a “public service charge”.

Worse yet is when those same banks then get into sweetheart deals with local governments to administer social programs like support payments. The people are forced to use the bank-issued card, and with those cards come draconian rules, such as only using that bank’s ATM a certain number of times before being hit with fees. Use a teller to speak with a human being? That’s another fee. Bear in mind that this is happening to people who have absolutely no say whatsoever on the matter. If you’re on disability, if you’re getting unemployment payments or support payments through this service, you are literally enslaved to the bank and to their rules.

Then, of course, we have the “mistakes”, as in the water or electric meter that got “read wrong”, or the surprise “roaming charge” on the cellphone. “Mistakes” that are painfully easy to make but are almost impossible to correct. The victims are expected to simply pay for these “mistakes”.

The personal information and spending habits of a company’s clients are sold to “preferred partners”, who then pepper them with telephone calls. Buy a hammer at a hardware store and five different companies from across the country will later call you at home trying to sell you a new water heater. How did they get your phone number? You gave it to the hardware store as part of their “preferred customer” program. Or the bank holding the credit card you used sold it to them.

Now we have the ultimate of insults… wholesale fraud and theft-by-taking. First it was the banks with the Russian Roulette mortgage changes, now it’s out-and-out theft by the “buy here pay here” car leases. Financial institutions that initially got bailed out by the federal government are now engaging in programs that facilitate fraud and theft. Out-and-out crimes that are allowed to happen by our own government.

Meanwhile, at the places of manufacturing these goods and services, executives are using liberalized trading practices to outsource their workforce, often overseas to societies with infinitely cheaper costs of living, or else to bring in thousands of people from those other nations through work visas, which they hoarded like Beanie Babies. Those without work have to compete for the miniscule jobs that remain. And while this is going on, corporations are enjoying record profits, again divorced from the realities of the current economy. Corporate executives are enjoying benefits and bonuses higher than before, and they are arrogantly flaunting this fact to those that have been suffering for it.

Alone, each of these actions seem almost negligible in society. Minor “blemishes” to be “corrected” at the leisure of the marketplace. But when seen as a part of the larger picture, they expose this “new” business mindset, and it is not “new”. The mindset actually pre-dates capitalism itself.

Because let’s get brutally honest here… the predatory business mindset being imposed on America today is one of a “Plunder Economy”.

A plunder economy, or Raubwirtschaft, is based on the ancient days when kingdoms and empires were measured not just in their culture, but in their conquests of other lands. They would conquer a land, defeat their armies, steal anything of wealth or value, and then enslave their people. Even centuries later, the mindset never really went away. The late Saddam Hussein did this in 1990 when his forces in Iraq invaded Kuwait. He conquered the land, pilfered anything of value, and claimed the land as his own using ancient documents from the Ottoman Empire for justification.

Today this same mindset is being imposed on the American people, dressed up and paraded about by talk radio and cable news personalities under the skin of “capitalism”. It is tolerated and ignored by our governments, especially on the national level, because the perpetrators of this crime against civilization are simply “too big for jail”. They would rather strike deals and partnerships with the perpetrators, hoping that what it going on is just a temporary phase in troubled economic times.

They forget their own history.

When the American colonists were told that their sole purpose of existence was to support and sustain the British Empire, they rebelled. When French citizens were told that the sole purpose of their own existence was to sustain the nobles, they revolted and executed the nobles. When Russian citizens were told both in 1917 and in 1991 that their sole purpose of existence was to sustain the ruling government, they revolted and the government collapsed.

Today the American people are being told that their sole purpose of existence is to sustain the institutions that have a chokehold on our economy. This is being sold to them as a “convenience”, wrapped up in the dead skin that they call “capitalism”, and informed in no uncertain terms that there is nothing at all that they can do about it other than to just lay back and try to enjoy the experience.

Maybe there is little that can be done about it right now. Maybe the political and social will is simply not there. But at the very least these perpetrators and their myrmidons in the media should be honest about what they are doing and stop pretending that this is “capitalism”, never mind a “free market” one. This is plunder, plain and simple. They would have a lot to answer for should we end up in a future environment where real capitalism thrives.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Week of 11/07/2011

Some Simple Advice for the GOP White House Wannabes
– by David Matthews 2

Attention GOP contenders for the White House and their advisers, consultants, spin doctors, and whomever else may be reading this…

I’ve been keeping an eye on the White House race for quite a few decades now, and I’ve noticed that there are a few mistakes that are made rather frequently by candidates in these past few elections. These are mistake that can be easily remedied now, before you go full-blown into the 2012 primary and caucus season and make fools of yourselves.

Now I know that I’m not a so-called “political expert”. I haven’t spent my time and millions of someone else’s money trying to make grifters and shysters look like Arthurian Knights of the Round Table, and considering how much time and money is wasted on these quests, maybe you should be paying more attention to the people who don’t do that sort of stuff for a living.

So if you’re Internet-savvy enough to come across this article (or have someone on your staff that is), you may want to take some of this advice to heart.

The first advice I have is simple… don’t bet the farm on New Hampshire and Iowa.

Yes I know the myth is that the person who wins those first primaries and caucuses supposedly wins the White House. But have they really done that of late? Pat Buchannan won the New Hampshire primary in 1996 only to get beat out at the Convention by Senator Bob Dole. Senator John McCain won New Hampshire in 2000, but it wasn’t his name in the “win” column that was being contested in Florida that following December, was it? No, it was George W. Bush that went on to become President.

Okay, so what happens if you put every bit of campaign time and effort and money into New Hampshire and Iowa and you don’t win? Odds are, those that play that game will be the first ones to drop out of the race. And yes, we’ve all see that happen on more than one occasion.

Treat this as a marathon, not as a sprint. If you can’t be there for the long haul, state-by-state, from Iowa to the national convention, then you’re just wasting your time and a lot of people’s money.

The second advice goes along the same lines: everything going on right now until January does not count!

You know all of those polls that are out there right now telling people who is the supposed “front runner”? That’s nothing more than fantasy league posturing from the media. Yes, it’s nice to know that “X percent of likely voters” would support you, but that doesn’t mean that they will actually be voting on that day.

Remember former Governor Howard Dean? He was the big odds-on favorite in the fantasy leagues back in 2004. And then what happened when people started showing up for the caucuses and primaries? Suddenly he wasn’t “the favorite” anymore. And that was even before the “Dean Scream” went viral. Ditto with Congressman Ron Paul, who is also on the ballots right now. Big winner in the “fantasy league”, just not so big in the real one.

The only “polls” that really matter here are the election ones. Everything else is propaganda.

Next… get your skeletons in order!

Herman Cain is finding out the hard way that even the most seemingly inconsequential thing in your past will come back to haunt you. Plus you’re dealing with people with money, and that money can find any kind of skeleton that you thought was locked away and forgotten. Don’t think for a moment that this stuff can’t be dug up and used against you. Know that it will, period. Get your story straight before then and you won’t get caught up inventing three different accounts of the same incident. Again, just ask Mister Cain about that if you don’t believe me.

And along the same lines… there is no honor among candidates!

Sure everyone there can be all smiles and handshakes in front of the cameras. But if you’re on record saying that “God” told you to run and there are two other people saying the same thing, then either “God” is lying to at least two of you, or at least one of that three are running a scam and they (or you) don’t want to have the other two ruining it.

That means that they will do anything to bring you down. They will find whatever skeletons are in your closet and leak them. They will find any kind of rumor about you and twist it around to make you look like the biggest scum in politics.

Who do you think originated all the rumors about then-candidate Barack Obama back in 2008? Here’s a hint: it wasn’t the GOP. They didn’t consider him to be a viable candidate back then.

This one is rather important… don’t blame the media or the Internet for your mistakes!

Think of the insanity involved with appealing to people that have been conditioned like Pavlovian dogs to despise the media, to call them names like “Lame-stream” and “leftist media” and “the liberal media”, to then complain about how you’re getting portrayed by that same media. You created the enemy, so you forfeit any right to complain if they treat you accordingly.

Remember Linda Tripp, witness to the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal? Every time her still photo was used in the media, it was a picture of her looking like she was about ready to throw up. In contrast, Clinton and Lewinsky were usually seen either smiling or defiant in their still photos. Yes, the subtle digs are there. There is no denying it. So why complain when those same tactics are used against you?

And as for the Internet, well it’s an equal-opportunity exploiter. Just check out if you don’t believe me. Dean’s legendary “Dean Scream” was used by both supporters and opponents. So if you don’t like how YouTube makes you look like a dumbass, have your supporters come up with better material. Troll around the colleges and you should find plenty of eager Internet-savvy voulenteers.

And finally, and this one is focused more towards the bosses and consultants than to the candidates… don’t shop bad product!

What bothered me about the political ascension of former Governor Sarah Palin wasn’t really the Orwellian-like propaganda promoting her to be the “perfect candidate”. It was the eventual revelation that people were actually shopping her name around to be a possible running mate months before the decision was made! With all of the fumbles and flubs that really dragged her down, like what sort of newspapers she reads regularly, it would have been understandable if she was selected out-of-the-blue and then say that the “evil leftist media” ambushed her. But if you’re shopping that candidate around for a running mate position, then that means there’s plenty of time to get that candidate prepared for these kinds of questions. In other words, Palin’s people were shopping bad product.

Let’s get brutally honest here… there’s are several reasons why a so-called “perfect candidate” would not run for that higher position, and one of those reasons is that they’re just not ready for the big leagues. Look at former Senator Fred Thompson if you don’t believe me. He’s a very good actor. He’s a pitchman for gold merchants. But when brought in at the last minute as the so-called “perfect candidate” in the 2008 Presidential race, he failed. He became a political speed-bump.

That’s why New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie has wisely said “no” to doing the same thing this time around, and why Texas Governor Rick Perry may eventually regret saying “yes”. Stop looking for a messiah and start looking for someone who is ready.

Of course I have no illusions that these simple pieces of advice will have any kind of traction outside of the blogosphere and social networks. But maybe somewhere along the line, some political consultant in the near future will Google this article and read it and say “gee… why didn’t he get paid the big bucks back then? Maybe then we wouldn’t be dealing with President Cletus ‘Nuke-Em’ Boscoe today.”

Monday, October 31, 2011

Week of 10/31/2011

Top 5 Reasons Why Comic-Book Obama is Better Than Real-World Obama
– by David Matthews 2

I had to dig through a comic collection to find it… but there it was…

Barack Obama as Superman.

No, seriously.

DC Comics mini-series “Final Crisis” Issue #7 has the first African-American President wearing the red-and-blue tights and cape of Superman. Writer Grant Morrison even confirmed that this alternate-reality “last son of Krypton” was in fact based on Barack Obama following the President’s comedic feedback of public criticism about him. Obama had joked that he actually “sent to Earth by his father Jor-El”, and Morrison worked with Tom Nguyen to turn that into a brief comic book fantasy.

Of course they weren’t the only ones to show Obama in the comics. Obama would later appear in the “normal” DC Universe asking Superman for help in dealing with an Earth-shattering crisis. He would also appear in other comics, including Marvel Comic’s “Amazing Spider-Man”, and Image Comic’s “Savage Dragon”. He would even appear in the fan-made comic series “City of Comic Creators Compendium” Issue #5, in a story written by yours truly.

Obviously this isn’t the first time that a real-world political figure would appear in the world of comics. There have been several over the years, including, of course, Captain America’s debut issue where he is on the cover punching Adolf Hitler right in the jaw. Bill Clinton and his wife spoke at the funeral of Superman. Ronald Reagan barred superheroes from operating in “Legends”.

Most of the time, comic book versions of political figures are seen as either equal to or lesser than their real-life counterparts. And the less seen of them, the better. George W. Bush wasn’t even seen in the DC Universe at all as President. The man sitting in the Oval Office during much of that time was none other than… of all people… Lex Luthor. And his appearance in the world of Marvel was… well, let’s just say “less than presidential”.

But in looking at “Comic-Book Obama” versus the real world, I’ve come to the conclusion that we got the wrong version. We should have gotten the comic book version and left the real-world version to the world of comics.

Because let’s get brutally honest here… Obama’s people have created this mythos about him as being so great that when it is compared to the things that he’s actually done, his own record falls painfully short. Here are some not-so-serious reasons why the comic book version is better than the real one:

Number 5: A One-Superman-Army! - A super-powered Obama wouldn’t need to put armed forces in harm’s way. Iran causing trouble? Zip! Done. Looking for Bin Laden? Zip! Found him and moved him to Gitmo. North Korea riling up? Zip! Guns have been turned into farm tools. Think of the billions of dollars that would be saved! Super-powered Obama would have rightly earned his Nobel Prize in the same time that the Nobel Committee fretted about giving Real-world Obama his.

Number 4: No Political Insurrection! - Comic-Book Obama doesn’t have to worry about a Congress sabotaging his programs at every corner. There’s no talk about filibusters or brokering deals in Comic-Book world. Need a bill passed? Done! There is no wrangling about debt or taxes.

Number 3: REAL Enemies! - Comic-Book Obama doesn’t have to worry about talk of impeachment or slanderous claims of being born in another country like Real-World Obama has to worry about. Instead, Comic-Book Obama has to worry about super-villains and techno-savvy armies like the Fifth Column. Misery in the world? Oh, it’s not the fault of Wall Street; it’s actually because of some ancient Norse deity looking to bring about the end of the world.

Number 2: FAR Better Scandals! - Never mind Solyndra; how about Comic-Book Obama fist-bumping Spider-Man? You know, that “menace” you read about all the time in the Daily Bugle. Or how about giving Defense deals to LexCorp, or to that lush Tony Stark over at Stark Enterprises? Oh, and what’s with all of those top-secret classified agencies? Project Cadmus and their clone-making system would certainly raise far more eyebrows than “Cap-and-Trade”. And how about that huge United Nations intelligence agency with the hovering aircraft carrier?

And the Number 1 not-so-serious reason why we should have gotten Comic-Book Obama instead of the Real-World version…

He’d Actually Make The Choices! - Leaders in comic books don’t promise the world and then fail to deliver. They don’t promise “change” and then reinforce the status quo. If they’re in a position to make a decision, they make it. And they’d actually be the ones to make the decisions instead of blindly following their advisors. Not to mention if they make the wrong decisions, then you’d know they were under the influence of some demonic being or replaced by a lookalike robot.

Now obviously comic book writers (including yours truly) have to take certain liberties when it comes to portraying politicians; that’s why it’s called “fiction”. But when that fiction ends up doing a better job than the source material, you really have to wonder if it’s time to look for better material.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Week of 10/24/2011

Capitalism’s Piss-Poor Champions
– by David Matthews 2

One of the things about defending freedoms in America is that the defenders really don’t get to choose their clients. Defending freedoms mean you have to, in all likelihood, defend things that you would rather not, and sometimes people that you would rather not.

Do you think the attorneys in the American Civil Liberties Union want to defend a neo-Nazi group marching in the street or homeless people with no place to go? Do you think they want to defend the owner of an adult novelty store or the owners of a website where they share their love of S&M? It’s probably not high on their individual bucket lists, and the group itself certainly doesn’t use it as their advertisement. Instead, what they promote is that they defend something greater than their clients… namely freedom, and the civil rights of all citizens, even the ones they personally would not want to associate with.

The same, however, cannot be said about capitalism.

The people that consciously refuse to accept the message of the Wall Street protesters (which apparently has gone global now) are trying to make the protests be about capitalism itself. They use it to mock the protesters and accuse them of hypocrisy, since they need to use the very system to purchase their protest items and to blog about their arrests.

But while there are some that are using the protests to attack capitalism itself, that doesn’t mean all of the “Occupy” protesters are anti-capitalism; any more so than you could accuse the whole Tea Party crowd of being racists just because some of them fly Confederate flags and they all seem to have a seething hatred over who is living in the White House.

Unfortunately for those that have chosen profits over people, this is not a false characterization that they should be embracing. Making this argument be about capitalism itself actually serves as nothing short of an insult to the very system they claim to defend.

For starters, it presupposes that what we’ve been seeing these past few years IS capitalism at its best.

You tell me… when you look up capitalism in the dictionary, is there any reference to federally-funded bailouts? I don’t seem to recall anywhere in the dictionaries that I use that there is a part in there that mentions that government serves to bail out reckless companies. In fact, the definitions I see often talk about an “unregulated market”, which means no government involvement. So how is it that bailing out “Too Big To Fail” with hundreds of billions in taxpayer dollars on loan from foreign nations be considered capitalism?

Speaking of which, would the very idea of any business being considered “Too Big To Fail” fit in anyone’s definition of capitalism? Think of all of the businesses that have come and gone over the generations. Would a true supporter of capitalism actually say that any of those businesses that have collapsed need to be supported and sustained with taxpayer money even to the detriment of a nation because it is “Too Big To Fail”?

Is bribery capitalism? We’re finding out that so-called “credit rating services” were giving favored ratings to financial schemes that they knew were nothing more than glorified houses of cards. And they were doing so because they would get bonuses to that effect. When you teach your children about capitalism, do you also teach them that cheating and bribery are an essential part of it?

Is perjury capitalism? There are banks that have signed foreclosure petitions, legal documents, that they know they have no claim to. That’s perjury; a criminal act. We actually impeached a sitting President of the United States for that. So when you send your children to business school to know about capitalism, are they taught how to break the law in the course of doing business?

Is theft-by-government capitalism? Developers have long used the power of local government through eminent domain to take private property of others for their own gain, and in at least one instance for the benefit of a rival business. So when you teach capitalism to someone from another country that never experienced it, do you point out that capitalism allows legalized stealing of someone else’s property for your own gain?

I’m sure the answer to all of those above question is “no”. No, I’m sure that you would be very adamant about saying that capitalism is not about stealing or bribery or theft or bailouts or breaking the law.

Nor would you want people to look at the social and economic devastation that has been caused these past three years because of abuses of those in Wall Street. You wouldn’t want people to see the neighborhoods turned into ghost towns through rampant foreclosures. You wouldn’t want people to hear about the escalating crime sprees caused by those out of work and desperate to do anything to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. You wouldn’t want them to hear about the abject misery caused by the lack of jobs, the lack of businesses, and the continued degradation of whole communities by the lack of tax revenue as a result of the lost jobs and the lost businesses. And all of this is going on while those in the top percentage of the income pile are raking in record profits, getting record bonuses, and still complaining endlessly like spoiled children about their “sorry” state of affairs.

No, you wouldn’t want people to think about any of those things when you tell them about capitalism.

And yet let’s get brutally honest here… that is precisely what you are doing when you make this subject be about capitalism. You are putting all of these things on a pedestal for people to see, warts and all, and then expecting everyone to just see what you want them to see and ignore the rest. You are not doing yourself or capitalism any favors when you are doing that.

What America has been going through for the past decade or so is nothing short of criminal. Fraud, corruption, cronyism, misrepresentation… there is a word for what we’ve been going through and it is not “capitalism”. It is called Raubwirtschaft, which is German for “plunder economy”.

If you’re going to defend capitalism and prop it up as the end-all-be-all for society, then you need to admit that what we’ve been going through is not it. The system that has been set up, the system that people are protesting up and down North America, and in fact around the world now, is not capitalism! It is a perversion of the very idea. What is being protested is what our system has become, which is a predatory system. A system of plunder and graft.

So if you’re going to continue to sit in willing ignorance and stupidity over what the protesters are really protesting over, you’d better make sure that you know what you’re really propping up and defending. Certainly if you want to carry on like you’re superior to those protesters, you better be able to prove it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Week of 10/17/2011

Mormons Versus Morons
– by David Matthews 2

There’s an old saying that “You can’t fix stupid.” And boy do we seem to have a lot of it.

And it probably should be no surprise that “stupid” seems to appear when the subject turns to religion or politics, or usually both. Remember former Governor Jesse Ventura’s line about religion being a crutch for the weak-minded? That gets re-validated every time “stupid” makes an appearance.

So here we are waist-deep in yet another presidential sludge-fest and the name that pops up again is former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, aka “Voice of Reason for the Unreasonable”. Amongst the things that certain GOP fanatics hate about Romney is the fact that the state that delivered the first Roman Catholic President in the form of John Kennedy, the state that was first colonized by Puritans, somehow managed to elect Romney as governor even though he is… brace yourself now.. a Mormon!

Yes, we are back to this again.

Reverend Robert Jeffress, a prominent Dallas minister and diehard supporter of Texas Governor Rick Perry, has been making a name for himself in the media going around telling anyone willing to listen to him or stick his face in front of a TV camera that Mormonism is “a cult”, and that Romney is “not a Christian”.

Bear in mind that Jeffress doesn’t just single out Mormons. He apparently had some choice words about Roman Catholics last year, accusing the religion from which all western Christian derivations come from (including, I should point out, his own) as being, in his own words, “the bridge between Satan and man.” Yes, he also thinks Roman Catholics are a “cult”. Remember, ALL religious sects of Christianity, including the Baptists, came from a split from the Roman Catholic Church. So what does that say about your faith, Reverend, since yours also came from that “Babylonian cult”? Have you ever known of good fruit to sprout from a bad tree?

But he’s not the only one with that criticism. He’s just the latest in a long line of self-important people that take it upon themselves to serve as judge, jury, and chief condemner of all faiths not their own. Bryan Fisher of the American Family Association pompously declares that the First Amendment was “never intended” to apply to what he deems to be “non-Christians”, and therefore does not apply to Mormons.

No, I am not making this up. You can hear their diatribes online if you don’t believe me. The sheer ignorance, arrogance, and out-and-out stupidity of these self-important people is only eclipsed by the fact that there are others that do follow them and base their opinions on those pontifications.

Of course in the ultimate scheme of things, these self-righteous self-serving self-important braggarts are really doing themselves a disservice. The problem is that this realization often comes after the damage is already done.

But a funny thing happened in the meanwhile… while the talking heads started to jabber on and on about whether or not Rick Perry should disavow his loyal soothsayer, some new commercials began appearing between news segments. They are simple, disarming, commercials featuring ordinary people talking about how they have boring, ordinary lives, and then at the end you find out that these people of many races and ethnicities are also Mormons. Yes, the Mormon Church paid a pretty penny for these commercials, and they work, because they seem to counter the sting of the venom being sprayed by vipers like Jeffress and Fisher quite nicely.

Now… should Governor Perry “disown” Jeffress, like then-candidate Barack Obama was pressured to do with his bombastic minister, Jeremiah Wright, four years ago? Idiots that play the “gotcha game” certainly would demand it, but this commentator thinks that it would be too little and too late. It didn’t matter if Obama “disowned” Wright or fought to defend him… the conservatives and neo-conservatives still considered the connection to be fair game and they attacked Obama mercilessly because of it. So why should Perry do the same when there is absolutely nothing to gain from doing it?

Let’s get brutally honest here… Jeffress and his ilk may be political douchebags, but they also represent a very vocal segment that make up the base of the GOP. They were the ones that convinced Perry that he should run for the White House in the first place; it would be sheer stupidity to then “disown” that group just because their ignorance is showing like a senile grandfather without his pants.

In fact, rather than trying to push these political senile grandfathers without pants away, we need to recognize that these people not only exist, but they happen to vote. And they vote more frequently than the bulk of the voting populace! While most of you are coming up with excuses why you’re not going to vote, they’re already at the ballot box, picking candidates that both reflect their beliefs and would force all of us to adhere to them. If you’re wondering why there’s such a great disconnect between the politicians and the people they claim to represent, you may want to look at who’s been doing the voting on a regular basis. In all likelihood, it’s the people who listen to Jeffress and Fisher.

No, you can’t fix stupid. But you can prove that the rest of us aren’t the same way.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Week of 10/10/2011

The Willfully Ignorant Are Willing Idiots
– by David Matthews 2

“You’re saying words but all I hear is crazy!”

No truer statement can be said about the recent social schizophrenia than can be expressed by a couple of reviewers from That-Guy-With-the-Glasses-dot-com.

You have a group of people out there protesting the status quo. They’re carrying signs, some of them are wearing costumes, and they complain about the political system and the fact that they’re not being represented by the two dominant political parties. They’re furious about the bank bailouts and how they feel they’re getting disenfranchised by the system and how the “mainstream media” is saying nothing about them. They’re not all there for the same reason, but they all have one thing in common: they don’t like what’s going on.

Now if you’re thinking that I’m talking about the current “Occupy Wall Street” protesters, well you would be wrong. I’m actually referring to a different group of people that were doing protests all their own two years ago. You may have heard of them. They called themselves the “Tea Party Movement”.

Of course it didn’t take long for that group to get co-opted by political action committees and a certain cable news network and get seduced by politicians from one certain political party. But, for a brief and shining time, they really were what they claimed to be. They really were the voice of the politically discontent.

So now we have a new bunch of protesters that are doing the same thing. Again, people carrying signs, wearing costumes, complaining about the political system and of being disenfranchised. Again, they’re not all there for the same reason but they all are there to say that they don’t like what’s going on.

Now you would think that the people of the first protest group would at least sympathize with the people of the second. You’d think that they would recognize that they have plenty of things in common. Bailouts were bad, people are getting screwed over, and that most people are being disenfranchised by the political system.

Instead, what are the OWS people hearing?

“They’re not organized. They don’t have a message. They don’t know what they want. They just represent a small extreme fraction of the American people. They’re just long-haired hippies that haven’t taken showers. They hate freedom. They hate capitalism. They hate money. They should just get a job. Stop complaining. Stop whining.”

You ignorant sluts.

I’m sorry… that’s actually an insult to real ignorant sluts. At least real ignorant sluts are willing to try new things so they won’t be so ignorant.

I’m not surprised that it took three weeks for the media to finally recognize that the Wall Street protesters are around, especially when the movement started to spread to other cities. Nor should I be surprised to see that the air-fluffed ego-driven media are eager to recite the “They don’t know what they want” propaganda speech. Take a look at who pays for their news programs and you’ll see the very financial institutions that are being protested.

It is no big secret that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp owns not only FoxNews but also the Wall Street Journal. But do you know what else they own that comes with the Wall Street Journal? The Dow Jones. Yes, they are very much a part of the very institution being protested; the very institution that got huge stinking bailouts; and the very institution that the political system has been bending over backwards to appease and have been convinced were far more important than the American people themselves.

Suddenly the vitriol against the OWS protesters by the Ministry of Truth has a purpose. When blowhards like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly mock and attack the protesters, they’re protecting their own bosses. They have a vested interest in making sure that the financial institutions are left alone to continue to do the very things that pays their salaries.

The same goes for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who whines like a spoiled bitch about fictional “struggling” Wall Street workers. He has a whole cable business channel under his own name to protect; since anything that effects Wall Street also effects his own bottom line. Seriously, Mister Mayor? Forty-thousand-dollar Wall Street executives? Maybe in the 1970’s.

But what truly surprises and disgusts this commentator is not the hatchet job being run by the media, but rather the willful ignorance being spewed by the great unwashed on this subject. The people that are echoing the propaganda coming from the media and the Ministry of Truth and are dismissing the real pain being felt by millions of their own neighbors. The same people that claimed that the “Tea Party Movement” represents “the silent majority” are now hypocritically bashing the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters for using the very same reasons that brought them out in protest two years ago.

From the comments they post in Facebook and the letters they send to newspapers, it’s clear that these people aren’t just ignorant… but willfully so. They intentionally keep themselves in the dark about what the OWS protesters are about and instead are reciting the crafted talking points handed to them by the biased corporate-owned media.

Let’s get brutally honest here… it’s not that the Occupy Wall Street protesters don’t have a message. It is that you do not W-A-N-T to know their message!

I am not a member of the Occupy Wall Street group. I have nothing to do with them, but even from my perspective, looking through the biased mirror of the media, I can see what they want as plain as day. I can see what they are protesting. I can see what they are complaining about.

They are complaining about the very predatory environment that “Too Big To Fail” and Big Business have been using to systematically pilfer and destroy America. They are complaining about the banks that get bailed out through our tax dollars and then turn our neighborhoods into ghost towns. The same banks that are now imposing fees on top of fees on the very customers that will be paying for their bailouts for the next few generations. The same banks that are in negotiations with our government to receive “Get Out Of Jail Forever” cards for their criminally abusive handling of foreclosures.

Go ahead and change banks… if you can find one that hasn’t been taken over by “Too Big To Fail” just yet, either through merger or through the FDIC. But you have no control over the notice that you get about your mortgage being picked up by “Too Big To Fail”. You either have to pay it off on the spot or else suck it up. That in and of itself is a good reason to protest.

Corporate America sits on two trillion dollars of money from the Federal Reserve. That is money that is supposed to create jobs. Instead it’s collecting interest and feeding profit margins. They use their friends in the GOP to insist that sustaining Bush-Era tax breaks would be used to create jobs, only to then say that the economy is just “too risky” to live up to those promises. (This, by the way, also comes from people that boast that they are “risk-takers”.)

Check your health insurance premiums of late? They’ve gone up, haven’t they? Corporate America wants you to blame so-called “Obamacare”, but in truth this fiscal shakedown is pure corporate greed. The same corporate greed that allowed them to manipulate the reform legislation to their fiscal advantage, and to force Americans to sign up with their services, whether they can afford to or not. “Socialism”, you say? No, that’s actually fascism. Thank you for showing just how badly you failed at high school civics.

The price of basic essentials like energy and food go up and down based not on physical supply-and-demand, as was originally the case, but rather on the irrational futures speculation of those in Wall Street. The price of gasoline goes up and down based on whether or not a Saudi sheik stubs his toe, or if something bad is said about the State of Texas, or if an ill wind blows towards the Gulf of Mexico. And how did it get this way? Because Wall Street went to K-Street and told Washington to give them this power, supposedly to “limit” the marketplace abuses.

This is what the Occupy Wall Street people are protesting about, and where else are they supposed to turn to? Turn to their representatives in Congress? Those two-faced Januses listen to K-Street, not Main Street. And besides, weren’t the so-called “Tea Party Movement” people complaining about that as well? Oh, that’s right, that was before it became a special interest group all its own, with its own GOP caucus and their favorite channel that just happens to be owned by the same company that owns a huge part of Wall Street.

The people that I hear that support the Occupy Wall Street group each have various different reasons to protest. Some are protesting greed. Some are protesting animal testing. Some are protesting the outsourcing of jobs overseas. Yeah, some are even protesting the corporate system itself. It’s a little hard to get a consolidated message from all of those groups, and that is no different than what the original “Tea Party Movement” was like in their beginning. That protest group had anti-tax supporters, libertarians, conservatives, neo-conservatives, theo-conservatives, all complaining about the status quo in Washington. They too couldn’t get a consolidated message out at first, other than to say that they were mad as hell and they weren’t going to take it anymore.

By the way, some of America’s founding fathers weren’t happy with Big Money muscling their way in America either. Thomas Jefferson said in a letter to John Taylor in May of 1816 that he considered “that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale”.

It’s one thing to not know the message. It’s another thing entirely to not want to know the message and then assert that there is no message, especially when it is right in front of people all this time. That’s not just “crazy”; that’s idiotic. Then you can’t just claim to be an “innocent bystander”… then you actually become part of the problem.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Week of 10/03/2011

– by David Matthews 2

So here we are, still months away from the first primary or caucus, still in that glorified “fantasy league” phase of the over-extended 2012 campaign season, and it seems that the most vocal part of the GOP just can’t seem to figure out who they want to support to take on President Barack Obama.

Yes, the field of presidential contenders is pretty thick. A whole bunch of people think they can beat Obama. The problem is that there is this eternal call for other people to join in. First it’s Donald Trump, who wisely decides he can be a better pain on NBC than in DC. Then it’s Michelle Bachman, who follows through and then can’t get her geography right. Then it’s Texas Governor Rick Perry, who joins in after Rush Limbaugh pesters him to. Now the “call” is going out to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who apparently is doing the smartest thing in the world, which is to say “no”; although rumors are circulating that he may consider running after all. And, of course, still lurking in the corner of the media is former Governor Sarah Palin, who is still saying “Hey, remember me? I haven’t announced whether or not I’m going to run yet! Don’t count me out, but don’t follow me around either!”

You have to seriously question the fickleness of the GOP for continually changing their minds over who they want their “savior” to be. It seems like they have an attention span that is shorter than that of a TV executive during the Fall Season. Every horse they back seems to be “perfect”, until they do something totally unexpected… like, talk.

Michelle Bachman was “perfect” until she couldn’t tell the difference between New Hampshire and Massachusetts and was getting publicly schooled by high-schoolers. Rick Perry was Limbaugh’s “dream pick” until he started to explain his own policies and he started to get really tired during the debates. It makes you wonder what Governor Christie would say that would cause him to lose favor. Maybe sing the “Big Mac” commercial?

And, yes, getting off-track for a moment, Governor Christie’s girth is fair game! If Bill Clinton can get ragged on about literally running to McDonald’s during his run for the White House, then Chris Christie can be ragged on about his love of food. As someone who is far from skinny himself, this commentator echoes the time-honored advice of “he’s a big man, he can take a little criticism”.

But my beef here is not with Governor Christie. It is, instead, with the fickleness of the “favor” and this idea that somewhere in the political world is a “savior” just ready to make their debut and end Obama’s White House tenure; if only they can be coaxed into stepping up.

This isn’t the first time this happened. Remember Fred Thompson? The man was both a former U.S. Senator and an actor that was very much on-demand. In the 2008 campaign, the spin was that he would be “perfect” for the GOP. He was supposedly the 21st Century’s version of Ronald Reagan. He quit his steady job with NBC in order to listen to the advice of the GOP spin doctors and run for president, only to fail miserably. I would hope that at least he got his money back from the people who sold him that bad political advice, but given the “screw-you” mentality that is politics, I seriously doubt he even got a second glance as the campaign door hit him on the way out.

Then there’s the pre-fabricated hype surrounding ex-Governor Palin. How strange that people suddenly treated her like she was the Second Coming without any reason why. At least with Obama it could be easily explained through Oprah Winfrey and big-money Internet memes. Palin’s sudden cultism, on the other hand, almost came right out of something from a “Doctor Who” episode. I half-expected there to be a room with a swirly display and a voice that tells me I’m getting very sleepy.

But while the Ministry of Truth is eager to grab and elevate the next “flavor of the moment”, there are still plenty of other candidates that are already in the running that are getting systematically ignored. Remember Gary Johnson? He’s a former governor! Same with Buddy Roemer and Jon Huntsman. Three people with solid leadership skills. How is it that these three candidates are getting systematically ignored while political spin-artists are on the hunt for the next “big thing”?

I would strongly suspect that the reason why some people are fixated on finding that “next flavor” is so they can later be recognized as some sort of king-maker. It would give them notoriety and political influence, not to mention big consulting bucks. That in and of itself is a scary concept; to build up this idea that the leadership of the United States can be chosen by an elite few that call themselves “king-makers”… especially given how this nation has for so very long despised the idea of having a king.

Let’s get brutally honest here… the GOP doesn’t need a new “flavor of the moment”. They sure as hell do not need a “savior”. They need the political equivalent of Prozac… and then they need a colonic. They need to be purged of all of their spin-doctors and “king-makers”, and then take a look at that huge stinking pile of contenders that are already out there trying to hustle for attention and campaign dollars and see what they have to offer that sets them apart from the current batch of so-called “front runners”.

The problems we are facing in this country need to be dealt with by leadership that is willing to handle them. Real leaders don’t need to be coaxed into stepping up. They certainly don’t need to be propped up as some sort of phony political “savior”, especially when the powers-that-be neither want to be saved nor do they want this nation to be saved from the misery that they helped to bring about.