Monday, December 10, 2012

Week of 12/10/2012

The 2012 Brutally Honest Awards
– by David Matthews 2

Yes, it’s December.  The year is just about over with, and it’s time to wrap things up for 2012 with the Brutally Honest Awards.

The Biggest Winners of 2012: President Barack Obama and the Status Quo – It’s a no-brainer here.  From sustaining Obama’s healthcare reform screwjob in the courts to the grand finale of the 2012 Presidential Morass, both Obama and the status quo have come out victorious.  Big Oil got away with the Deepwater Horizon spill.  Too Big To Fail got away with their criminal activities.  Big Insurance got away with their huge con job on the American people – thanks in no small part to the U.S. Supreme Court.  And Obama was re-elected to the White House thanks in no small part to…

The Biggest Losers of 2012: The GOP, Willard “Mitt” Romney, Conservatives, Neo-Conservatives, the so-called “Tea Party” people, talk radio, and Fox News – For a bunch of people that claimed to be all about heritage, they really failed Political History 101, didn’t they?  They failed to learn the lessons of John Kerry and Bob Dole, so they ended up repeating them. 

It’s not entirely their fault, of course.  They could only work with the nominee they were given in the primaries.  But it didn’t help that the party bosses decided they needed to prune the number of contenders even before a single primary ballot was cast.  If they didn’t hold so many debates or didn’t have so many “straw polls” to try to predict who would eventually win (which, by the way, were proven wrong), maybe they would have ended up with a better nominee.  But more on that later on…

The “We Won’t Miss You” Award for 2012: Todd Akin, Alan West, and Richard Mourdock – These guys were their own worst enemies. 

Akin was probably the worst of the three, though, because he sits on the Congressional committee that oversees scientists, and he pulls one of the worst cockamamie anti-intellectual statements in the world regarding human female biology, and then doubles-down and says that he got it from a doctor that apparently cannot tell the difference between a human female and a duck female.  How appropriate that these kinds of people are known as “Quacks”!

The “We Won’t Miss You” Runner-Up for 2012: Joseph Lieberman – The whiney little manipulator thought that he could control the Senate by pretending to be in the middle, when in fact he was a tool for the neo-cons.  And now that he’s leaving, he’s whining that he regrets criticizing Obama in the 2008 GOP Convention while still claiming he’s the best thing the Democrats ever had.  Hey Joe, did it ever occur to you that maybe you just being at the GOP convention would be enough of a stab in the back of your supposedly beloved Democrats?  You went from being that party’s running mate in 2000 to the GOP’s celebrity politician eight years later.  Did you think that such a Romney-style flip-flop would go unnoticed?  I have more respect of the late Arlen Specter than I do for you, Joe, because at least he was honest about his shifting support.

The “Just Go Already” Award for 2012: Neal Boortz – Once upon a time, Atlanta’s radio loudmouth traded in his integrity for Bush Talking Points and exclusive White House lunches with other talk radio personalities.  Since then, the only good thing that he did was to announce his retirement at the end of the year.  While I will miss the old libertarian version of him, I will certainly not miss the bitter neo-con sell-out sphincter that he turned into these last few years.

The McCarthy-Cohen Award for Red-Scaring in 2012: Congressman Alan West – West thought that he could resurrect McCarthyism for the 21st Century with his claim that he had “a list” of supposedly admitted members of the “Communist Party”.  A little reminder, Congressman:  Joe McCarthy was a fear-mongering fraud that turned Americans into paranoid fascists.  When he was finally disgraced and censured for the damage he caused to the nation, to the point where he began to question the very Armed Forces he was once a member of, he did the only good thing… he drank himself to death. 

Did you get that Congressman?  The man you emulated with your “Hate-The-Democrats” crusade died a miserable dishonorable self-loathing drunk!  Is it any wonder why your own constituents voted you out of office last month?

The “Rot In Hell” Award for 2012: Andrew Breitbart – He destroyed careers without a care in the world.  Thankfully the fates and forces of the universe decided that they had enough of him.  Sadly, though, his death was not treated in the same venomous way as he lived it by those that were hurt the most by his actions.  Once again the criminals get off easy with death.

The “Bigger Man” Award for 2012: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie – When Super-Mega-Storm-of-Doom Sandy hit New Jersey, Governor Christie stopped being a politician and acted like a state leader.  He deserves to be commended for doing that, especially since it was just a week before the General Election.

The “Why Can’t We Be Rid Of Them” Award for 2012: Karl “Turd Blossom” Rove, Rush Limbaugh, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi – Rove’s Fox News meltdown on Election Night, sadly, will not spell the end of his career, either as a SuperPAC consultant or as a so-called “political consultant” for the media.  And if you want to know why, then all you have to do is look at someone like Rush Limbaugh. 

Limbaugh recklessly and needlessly trashed the reputation of Sandra Fluke concerning congressional testimony she was invited to give but was not allowed to present because of GOP manipulations.  In other words, she was – at the time – a private citizen, which means the “public figure exemption” would not apply.  Why he wasn’t immediately sued for defamation still boggles the mind.  It would really be the only way he would be held to account for his actions.  The controversy surrounding Glenn Beck proved that economic boycotts do not work as a way to control media personalities.

Holder has proven that the screwjobs will continue against America.  Big Corporate and “Too Big To Fail” will continue to run roughshod across the America with no accountability whatsoever as long as they give out economic “pocket change” for compensation.

As for Congresswoman Pelosi, obviously we cannot control the voters in her district (contrary to the GOP script), but her continual delusion that she’s “doing something” in Congress as House Minority Leader will continue to hurt the Democrats and the American people by extension.  You know, I may criticize former Speaker Newt Gingrich for a lot of things, but the one thing that he did right was when he set a goal in 1998 and he failed to meet that goal, he actually stepped down.  The fact that Pelosi doesn’t have the courage to do that this time around is proof enough that she is only doing this country a disservice.

The Lamest Excuse For Failure Award for 2012: Dick Morris – So former Clinton hired-gun-turned-Fox-News-hired-gun is one of many that predicted that Mitt Romney would win by a landslide.  But then he turns around and he says that he KNEW that Romney wasn’t going to win by a landslide but he supposedly felt “obligated” to make that prediction anyway because of… morale!

No, I’m not kidding.  That’s his explanation.  “I spoke about what I believed, and I think that there was a period of time when the Romney campaign was falling apart, people were not optimistic, nobody thought there was a chance of victory. And I felt that it was my duty at that point to go out and say what I said. And at the time that I said it, I believe I was right.”

There you have it, folks.  Dick Morris spins a lie about a landslide victory just so the Romney camp could feel good about themselves.

There’s a double reason why you’re called “Dick”, Dick.  The first is who you are, Dick; and the second is what you are, Dick!

The “Why Haven’t You Packed Yet” Award for 2012: Rush Limbaugh – Limbaugh supposedly made a promise that if Obama’s healthcare reform program passed and was enacted that he would leave the country.  Guess what?  It did and he didn’t.  Surprised?  Why?

Come to think of it…

The Most Overused Childish Threat for 2012 That Needs To Die A Painful Death: Leaving The Country- The people that make that kind of asinine promise never follow through with it!  Ever!  The people that actually leave the country for political reasons are the ones that don’t threaten to do it; they just do it.  The ones that just threaten to do it will later invent some explanation as to why they have to renege on it.

There is an easy way to fix this: If you’re a radio syndicator or a network producer or a newspaper publisher, you need to make it clear that if your “talent” makes that kind of promise of leaving the country, that it is your responsibility to help them follow through with it.  You let them know that their office will be vacated, their parking lot space given up, their final check cut, a limo ready to take them to the airport, and that you would wish them well in whatever country they end up in.  All it takes is for one of these overpaid loudmouths to actually be held to their promise for this “threat” to be eliminated.

The Most Sickening Realization of the 2012 Presidential Morass: Obama Could Have Been Beaten! – Obama is not perfect.  He was far from being the kind of President that America needs.  He did some things right, but he and his people also had far too many mistakes and misfires.  The reason why he won had less to do with anything that he did and a whole lot more to do with who ended up running against him.

If the GOP had backed a more credible candidate, such as Gary Johnson, then Obama would probably have been voted out of office this past November.  Instead, the party bosses tossed Johnson away before a single primary or caucus vote could be cast.

Now think about this: all of the settlements and deals that have been made from this summer right up until now could have all been different if someone like Johnson ended up as the GOP nominee.  If there was actual pressure for Obama to be the kind of president that he claimed to be for the sake of his re-election, then you can bet your last penny that he probably would have cracked the whip on his people to not screw the nation over as they have this past summer and fall.

But because the political bosses of a flawed party backed a flawed candidate, there was no real pressure for Obama’s people to do right by the nation.  They didn’t have to work to be “better than” the GOP… they just had to be seen as “not as bad as” the GOP.

That’s something that should keep you up at night no matter who you supported.

The Most Asinine “Need To Learn Pain” Group for 2012: The Secessionists – It’s one thing to lose the 2012 Morass and be bitter about it.  It’s another thing entirely to lose and then throw temper tantrums about losing and scream to want to take “your state” and leave the United States.

If you are one of those people that signed those secession petitions, then I don’t ever want to hear from you ever again about the subject of patriotism and the “glory” of the United States of America.  Ever!  You have forfeited your claim to any kind of national fidelity when you signed those petitions!

And if anyone else in the Brutally Honest community agrees with me, then I hope you’ll get in the faces of these secessionists about it and help put them in their place.  You do not tell other Americans “love it or leave it” and then turn around and say “I hate you, it’s time for a secession!”  That kind of hypocrisy should never go unchallenged!

The Most Asinine Supreme Court Decision for 2012: Forced Insurance As A “Tax” – The justices of the Supreme Court split a legal hair so fine that they almost needed an electron microscope.  I’m not surprised that they would sustain Obama’s healthcare reform program, because their mission in life is to sustain the status quo, but I do not agree with the rationalization they gave to fulfill that mission.  Calling it a “tax” does not change the fact that the government is still forcing people to get insurance whether they can afford it or not.

By the way, I don’t buy the notion that a Romney victory would have resulted in the law’s repeal.  I would speculate that he’d invent some kind of excuse to justify keeping it around.  Remember that Romney’s own “reform program” in Massachusetts was supposedly the blueprint that Obama used for his.  Do you really think that he’d be willing to do anything to change that if left to his own devices?  The man who flip-flopped more times than John Kerry?

The “My Political Kung-Fu Is Stronger” Award for 2012: The GOP’s “War on Women” – For a party that tried to deny they were waging political war on women while allowing their extremists to trash women and women’s issues, they certainly shouldn’t be surprised to see their efforts go for naught come Election Day.

The “Cr@p Or Get Off The Pot” Award for 2012: The so-called “Tea Party” – It is high time that the people that call themselves the “Tea Party” crowd stop lying to themselves and stop lying to others and to admit to the world that they are really nothing more than an extremist wing of the GOP and a part of the very problem that they claim they want to fix.

Here’s a little hint: if you continually support nothing but GOP candidates, even GOP candidates like Mitt Romney who initially make your stomach churn in disgust, then you are not independents!  You are frauds and hacks!  And worse yet, you don’t even want to accept the reality that you’re being played by the very people you claim to hate!

Visit the library, you “tea party” fraudsters, and look up the Know-Nothing Party.  Everything they did over a century ago, you’ve been doing the complete opposite; and then you wonder why the GOP ends up with people like Mitt Romney on the ballot.  You’re not the so-called “silent majority”.  That group is a myth concocted by the late Richard Nixon to give the illusion of support where there was little.  You are neither “silent” nor the “majority”, and it is time for you to either own up to your GOP masters and dissolve or else form that “third party” that you constantly threaten to do.

The “Screw The System” Award for 2012: Senator-Elect Elizabeth Warren – This is “Too Big To Fail’s” worst nightmare!  She exposed the scam of TARP.  She pushed for and got the Consumer Protection Agency, and even when Wall Street and the GOP screwed her out of being the permanent director of that agency, she’s now taken over Scott Brown’s seat in the U.S. Senate.  And “Too Big To Fail” is now deathly afraid that she’ll end up on the very Senate committee that overlooks their activities!  I hope she gets that committee assignment, and I hope she puts the screws to “Too Big To Fail” like they were Gitmo detainees!

The Best Movie of 2012: Marvel’s “The Avengers” – This is a no-brainer.  Yes the movie had plot holes and was a bit slow at times, but once it got moving, only one word could be used to describe the action: Epic!

Unfortunately the success also set the bar pretty high for other superhero movies.  Marvel now has to keep the energy going with “Iron Man 3” and the other movies in preparation for “Avengers 2” in 2015.  DC, meanwhile, has to follow through with the end of the “Dark Knight” trilogy, meet the high expectations with “The Man Of Steel”, and then keep the excitement going to their own production of “Justice League” in 2015.  Not an easy task given DC’s hit-and-miss record, but theoretically they could pull it off. 

Then again, theoretically, I could win the lottery tomorrow.

The Best New Hero Series of 2012: CW’s “Arrow” – After last year’s super-fail of “Smallville’s” finale, there was a lot of talk about the new series featuring Green Arrow.  Some thought it would be a spin-off of “Smallville”.  Others thought it would be the hero-in-jail “Super Max” idea that continually got floated about.  A lot of people thought “Arrow” would suck as bad as “Smallville” did in its last seasons.  Surprisingly, the first few episodes worked!  It certainly beat out all expectations that I had about it.  And it also warranted its own “Hero Corner” review on TGWTG.

The Saddest Day and Time of 2012: December 1st, 2012, 02:59:59 (Eastern Standard Time) – The precise time and day when the City of Heroes MMO officially shut down.

The Worst Corporate Decision of 2012: NCSoft Shutting Down “City Of Heroes” – There really was no reason for NCSoft to do what they did to City of Heroes.  No reason at all!  It was bringing in steady income, it had an insanely-loyal user-base, it provided its own advertising through its users, and it was making money with the pay-for-features.  In other words, it was surviving.  Then again, the more that people learn about the Korean-based corporation and how it manages MMO games, the more that we discover that they really have no sense of running an international business.

The Worst Television Decision of 2012: Cartoon Network suddenly shelving the “DC Nation” programming block – Again, no reason whatsoever for Cartoon Network to do this.  None!  Especially when it’s done without any kind of notice prior to its schedule airtime and then making an off-handed comment about it six hours later.  No, it is not acceptable.  Even the people that produced the various shows in question were not told of this decision.  The people responsible for this asinine decision need to be fired!

The Second-Worst Television Decision of 2012: Ending “CSI: Miami” – There was no reason for CBS to do this.  None whatsoever!  (This is starting to be a pattern, isn’t it?)  It was a good series with plenty of neon color to attract the HDTV crowd. 

To the network programmers: may your dreams be filled with Horatio Caine dispensing “Miami Justice”.

The “How Desperate Are You Really” Award for 2012: Playboy founder Hugh Hefner – For those that don’t know, Hef is going to get married on New Year’s Eve to the same woman that broke off the wedding last year.

No, I’m not making this up.  I wish I were.  And I’m pretty sure that Hef’s accountants wished this was a joke as well, because the last time around it cost him a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

Hef, I know it’s hard finding that certain someone.  Viagra and money help.  But take it from someone who has never had a girlfriend in all his forty-six years of existence and has known nothing but heartbreak, disappointment, and betrayal: it doesn’t get better the second-time around.  It only gets worse.  And I really don’t think there’s a pre-nup agreement in the world that can overcome that.

The Celebrity That Really Needs To Take A Break: Lindsay Lohan – Ms. Lohan, you have problems.  While I appreciated your appearance in Playboy, the stories that have appeared since makes one wonder if you’ve really cleaned up your act since incarceration.

The Reality Show That Really Needs To Be Erased From All Our Collective Memories: “Honey Boo-Boo” – “Toddlers and Tiaras” was bad enough!

The ShockNet Radio Show That Deserves More Attention in 2013: “Hard Luck Chuck’s Juke Joint” – Dr. Charles Doswell, aka “2Buck Chuck”, aka “Hard Luck Chuck”, really created a very innovative straight-up look at the blues this year that needs two things: more listeners, and more airtime.  Hopefully there will be both for 2013.

The Most Appropriate Saying for 2012: The New GOP Philosophy -
It’s only “right” when it’s done by them.
It’s only “wrong” when it’s done to them.

And finally…

The Greatest Insult To Whole The Human Race in 2012: The Sickening Wave of Anti-Intellectualism – When you have a representative to a presidential contender boast that their campaign “will not be dictated by fact-checkers”, when you have politicians overseeing science grants openly calling science the work of the devil, when you have a dominant political party and its supporters fabricating history to justify their own abuses, you don’t just have a party full of people with a serious psychological problem.  You have a political faction – specifically the conservatives and neo-conservatives – that is embracing fascism for their own political gains.

Yes, anti-intellectualism is a key sign of fascism.  Look it up.  Use that brain of yours to do something other than to turn on Fox News!

Let’s get brutally honest here… when facts and truth are considered political biases to be rejected or else negated by some fictional and fraudulent claim of “the other side does it too”, we’re not just insulting ourselves, our political affiliations, or even our nation.  We’re insulting countless years of social and biological progress!  We’re telling the people that spend their time learning and studying and earning positions of intellectual respect that they don’t matter anymore!  We’re telling those intellectual people that we would rather listen to some overpaid self-important tabloid hack that claims that Christianity is “not a religion” in order to justify it being given preferential treatment over any other religion. 

“Shooting for the stars” used to mean going to the Moon.  Today it means going on “American Idol” or becoming a YouTube sensation.  We spent two hours glued to our televisions watching a man ride a balloon all the way to the edge of space and then skydive down safely, and then later in that same week complain about wasting money on education and wonder why we teach evolution instead of religious dogma.  We’re told that we’re lagging behind the rest of the industrialized world in terms of what we know and how we care for each other, and the GOP script tells us that we should dismiss what the rest of the world thinks of us, get the hell out of the United Nations, and pump more money into military spending so we can protect the world from those “radical extremists” that aren’t Christians.

Oh but don’t worry about those things.  It’s time to worry about whether or not we’re going to go over a fiscal cliff of the GOP’s own creation.  That and whether or not we would exceed a spending ceiling also of the GOP’s own creation.  And worrying about whether Christmas would be “cancelled” in a war of Fox News’ own creation. 

Oh, and we’re not supposed to worry about those things either, right?  Because the world is supposed to come to an end on the 21st according to the Mayan doomsday people.

Well if we’re still around after that, and the economy doesn’t automatically implode after the New Year, we’ll be back here in January with round two of the Obama White House so we can start playing these petty little games again.  Happy Holidays, screw you Bill O’Reilly, and we’ll be at it again in 2013.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Week of 12/03/2012

What is Microsoft Doing?
– by David Matthews 2

When it comes to Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system, I have one simple question…


That one question encompasses a whole bunch of other questions such as… Why now?  Why shove us into a new operating system that abandons pretty much everything we’ve been taught to adapt to with Windows 7?  Why should we care about upgrading?  What is it about Windows 8 that will make us want to abandon what we’ve been doing with the previous versions of Windows?

Instead of getting answers, we get slick mindless ads for their “Surface” tablets.  We hear about “live tiles” on the Windows cellphones.  We watch a little girl painting stuff that eventually gets printed up and posted on a bedroom wall while she talks to her father via Skype.  We see people dancing and prancing and doing acrobatics and pretending to be cool.

What is not being sold is why current Windows users should upgrade or even be excited about Windows 8.

There are many reasons why the push for Windows 8 at this time is just plain wrong, with timing being the first reason why.

It was only three years since Windows 7 came out, which was supposed to be better than Windows Vista, which was supposed to be better than Windows XP and Windows XP Media Center Edition.  And now that people are getting used to Windows 7, we’re being told that we now have to completely scrap everything we know about Windows and embrace the new “Live Tiles” concept with the big ugly boxes that you’re supposed to scroll on through with a flick of a finger… if the ads are to be believed.  (For the record, I’ve tried it.  It’s not to be believed.)

So people that have gotten used to XP get barely used to Vista, get shoved Windows 7 down their throats, and then three years later are told to scrap all of that for Windows 8.  Why?  Because some slick advertising campaign featuring leaping lunatics says it’s “cool”?

Timing also plays a key role when it comes to the business user… and that’s supposed to be important because Microsoft has always been known as the company that favors businesses with programs like the Microsoft Office suite.  Corporations do not embrace sudden change like Microsoft does, especially when that change affects their own operations.

I’ll give you an example: suppose you’re in a company that uses a specific proprietary program to function.  This program has worked for all the previous operating systems without too much difficulty… until Windows 7 comes along.  Windows 7 has a different kind of authentication security that doesn’t recognize the certificate from previous versions.  This means that your long-running proprietary program that your business relies on as part of its economic survival no longer works for computers that are running on Windows 7.  That company will not upgrade their computers if those computers cannot use that proprietary program.  It will destroy their company.  So now the company’s IT department have to find a way to either craft a new authentication certificate to recognize that proprietary program, or they have to completely redesign their proprietary program specifically for Windows 7 and then thoroughly test this program to make sure that it works.  All of that takes time.  We are talking months; not hours or days.  And now, while the IT people are still trying to get their company’s proprietary programs to work on Windows 7, here comes Windows 8.

There are companies that still use earlier operating systems for that very reason, and they are not going to rush to upgrade to anything that endangers their own operations.  That is a business fact of life that Microsoft needs to accept if they still want the business crowd.

Money is another reason why this is a bad time to shove a new operating system down our collective gullets.  America is still trying to get out of the Great Recession, something that our own government refuses to acknowledge is still going on, and that means that a lot of people don’t have the money to replace all of their computers just so they can use that new operating system.

Upgrade, you say?  That depends on whether or not their computer can handle it.  Here’s a hint: if your computer is still running on Windows XP, then it will not handle Windows 8 without spending a lot of money on hardware upgrades. 

Another established fact of life is that every new operating system requires more and more resources from that computer.  More hard drive space, more RAM, faster CPU speeds, and updated drivers for all of those peripherals, and not all of those things are readily available.  If Intel or NVidia or AVG decide to sunset a certain graphics card, then there will be no new drivers for that card.  In many cases, it would be cheaper to simply buy a new computer than to upgrade the one that you have, and if money is an issue, then neither option is viable.

This is why a lot of people are still using old computers with Windows XP or Vista on them.  Being stuck in the Great Recession means having to make do with what you have, and to hell with Moore’s Law.

Speaking of security, one of the new complaints about Windows 8 is that many of the major gaming companies are finding themselves shut out from all of the techno-pop celebrations.  If you play Worlds of Warcraft or Diablo 3, for instance, the developers of those programs have said that Windows 8 is a “catastrophe”.

Time for a little history lesson.  Remember when Bill Gates ran Microsoft in the 1990’s?  One of the things that he did that set Microsoft apart from Apple was that he pretty much handed out certifications to whoever wanted to develop programs for Windows.  Good programs, bad programs, mindless games, office applications, financial software, publishing aids, it didn’t matter.  It was far easier to develop those programs for Windows that it did for Apple, and that allowed Windows to become the dominant operating system.  You could walk into any computer store and find rows after rows of Windows programs, and then you’d be lucky if you saw only one rack set aside for programs designed for Apple.  Apple set their own bar too high to be competitive.

Now fast-forward to today: if you’re an online gamer and you’re being told by the developers of your favorite MMO that they cannot support your favorite program being used on Windows 8, do you really think that you’re going to be in a rush to upgrade your computer to that new operating system?  I didn’t think so.  Especially if you’re spending money on a regular subscription to that game.  All of the leaping lunatics dancing to techno-pop music will not change that fact.

Bear in mind that I understand where Microsoft is going with Windows 8.  I do.  Let’s get brutally honest here… Microsoft is trying to develop a sense of portability, just like Apple.  They want to be able to have your PC, tablet, cellphone, and Xbox game system all connected, so you can do common functions like check your email or watch a movie or play a game anywhere from any device.  So you can take a picture with your cellphone and send it to your other applications, or order a movie through Netflix on Xbox and then watch it on your tablet or cellphone.  That’s what the whole business with “Cloud” was about a few years ago; they’re just taking those things to the next step.

But just because I understand where they are going, that doesn’t mean that I agree with the method.  Windows 8 essentially turns your computer and tablet PC into glorified cellphones.  This is especially the case with the new cellphone-like applications that Windows 8 users will be able to acquire.

One may even argue that Windows 8 could be used to eliminate the personal computer altogether, since the operating system is designed to be used primarily by the touch-screen interfaces seen in tablet PCs and cellphones, instead of the traditional hands-off monitors and mouse-cursor peripherals of the desktop PCs.  One only has to look at the computer stores pushing laptops instead of desktop computers to see where the trend is heading.  I would hope that this is not the case, though, as there is still a use for the personal computer for the end-user.

The executives at Microsoft need to understand that they did not become the 800-pound gorilla that they are now by trying to be like Apple.  They became the major corporation that they are now because they reached out and encouraged development.  They didn’t shove things down our throats and told us to simply accept it. 

In other words, they out-did Apple by not behaving like Apple.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Week of 11/26/2012

GOP Come Claim Your Junk!
– by David Matthews 2

There comes a time in every campaign for a certain chore to be undertaken that nobody wants to have done, but someone still has to do it.

It’s the time after the ballots have been counted, after the speeches have been made, and after the losers have grudgingly conceded and the winners graciously accepted the decision of the voters.  It’s the time when someone has to sweep up the confetti, pick up the balloons, clean the hotels of used prophylactics, repair the room damage, and pick up all of those signs that were plastered both legally and illegally all over the area.  

That last part is the hardest, of course.  Nobody wants to pick up their junk, especially after their candidate lost.  Losing is bad enough; now you have to pick up all of the reminders of that loss. 

But it still has to be done.

Of course, when it comes to the GOP, they’ve left a lot more than just a few political signs.  They’ve left a good part of their campaign garbage just laying around for the rest of us to stumble over. 

Here are a few instances…

Spoilsport Business Tantrums – Bad enough that GOP nominee Mitt Romney helped to orchestrate a business campaign to intimidate employees in direct violation of Title 18 Section 594 of federal law, but after the election those same business leaders began throwing childish temper tantrums about all of the supposed million and billions and trillions of jobs that they “would have created” if Romney won, but now they supposedly won’t.

Of course I don’t expect any of them to be frog-marched off to jail by our Attorney General for breaking the law.  AG Eric Holder doesn’t frog-march corporate criminals into custody… he strikes deals with them.  But their “Going Galt” attitude that has now become a spoiled tantrum certainly shows who the real villains of the Great Recession are.  (And for you cons and neo-cons out there that still don’t get it… here a hint: go find a mirror.)

Karl Rove – I was one of the few people that cautioned about writing off the so-called “Architect” following his abysmal failure as a political forecaster.  He was far from being the only one that made a shoot-the-moon “landslide victory” prediction, but he certainly was the best example of an unchecked ego in sore need of a comeuppance. 

What makes Rove’s case worse is that in addition to his job as a “political consultant” for Fox News and the talk radio circuits, he’s also got his own SuperPAC, which is pretty much like finding out that the local weatherman is also the owner of an umbrella store.  Bear in mind this is the same supposed “fair and balanced” news organization that condemns people for simply donating money to a SuperPAC (i.e. Bill Maher) and here they are putting the owner of one such SuperPAC on their payroll as a “political contributor”.

Where is the accountability, guys?  You’re supposed to be all about “responsibility” and “accountability” and “keeping people honest”.  You don’t want your viewers to presume that it’s all just a huge con job, do you?

Fear-Mongering Conspiracy Nutcases –There are people that still believe to this day that not only did President Barack Obama not present a birth certificate, but they are now claiming that “nobody … has seen an actual physical copy of his birth certificate.”  Apparently “nobody” includes the current and previous directors of Hawaii’s Department of Health, from where both the long and short versions of the birth certificate came from and were made available at Obama’s request.

Oh, but if you think the “Birther” issue was resolved a while ago, think again, because these questionably competent people have expanded their tinfoil conspiracy theory to include school transcripts.  High school transcripts, college transcripts, elementary school transcripts, admissions forms, scholarship forms, the Columbia Record Club application forms… no matter how mundane, not matter how inconsequential, no matter how asinine the request, they want it, and if they can’t get it immediately then it’s all part of that same “conspiracy”.

And they firmly believe that at some point they will find what they are looking for and it would be enough to have Obama removed from office.  All because their fragile narcissistic egos refuse to acknowledge that they are on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of humanity.  

Even the people that believe that the 9/11 Terrorist Attack was an “inside job” are saying that these “Birther” people are crazy!  That in and of itself should be the final word, but obviously it’s not because crazy and stupid know no limits.

What’s worse is that these guys have been bolstered not only by talk radio and Fox News, but also by folks like Donald Trump and his Twitter talk of “Revolution” and Ted Nugent and his promise that he’ll either be in jail or dead if Obama is re-elected.  Mister Trump, I hope you keep your recent public antics in mind when people stop worshiping your self-branded ego and your ego-centered so-called “reality” television program. 

And Mister Nugent… “dead or in jail by this time next year” you say?  Sound an awfully lot like those terrorists that you love to hate.  Maybe you ought to take a trip over to Oklahoma City and stand where I stood, where the Alfred P. Murrah building once existed, and see the handiwork of someone who thought just like you almost twenty years ago.  You may have heard of him, Mister Nugent.  His name was Tim McVeigh.  He believed the same things you do now.  And he got both jail and death for his actions.  Go ahead, Mister Nugent, pay that reflecting pool a visit and stare out at the 168 empty chairs, including the 19 small chairs, that represented the people that were killed because of that very mindset, and try to spread that kind of message there.

“Harmless” you may say?  A 57-year old police officer in Jacksonville, Florida, recently said that he’d be willing to assassinate the President.  Yeah, “harmless” like Lee Harvey Oswald was “harmless”.  Like John Hinkley was “harmless”.  They’re all “harmless” until the tragedy happens.

Then there’s…

Mitt Romney – Remember what Senator John McCain did after he lost in 2008?  Remember what Senator John Kerry did after he lost in 2004?  Remember what former Vice President Al Gore did after he lost in 2000?  Remember what former Senator Bob Dole did after he lost in 1996?  Remember what Michael Dukakis did after he lost in 1988?  Remember what former Vice President Walter Mondale did after he lost in 1984?  They all went away, Governor.  They took the loss and they went away.  There was no public whining about fictional “gifts” and trying to rationalize that loss by marginalizing the very voters you once sucked up to.  They just accepted the loss for what it was and then they went away.  Some came back, some didn’t, but they all first went away.

And now, Governor, it’s time that you did the same.  You lost; just like all of your predecessors lost.  You’re not the first, you won’t be the last, and you won’t even be memorable.  You’ll just be a footnote for future political commentators like myself to reference when the situation calls for it.

But the worst has to be…

The Secessionists – Just when we thought Romeny’s Spoiled One-Percenters were bitter and petty with their tantrums, these guys come along and make the Business Whiners look tame.

Someone got it into their warped heads that if they can’t win the election that they were going to take “their states” and leave the United States.  So they’re using one of Obama’s online petition programs to launch what could be called their “Declaration of Secession”.

Note the arrogant self-righteous presumption that they are speaking on behalf of you and me when they demand that “their” states be allowed to secede from the United States.  Note their utter disdain for our American system when it doesn’t specifically work in the way that they want it to.  And note their pompous selfishness – not to mention laziness – in their demands that “the country” leave them instead of the other way around, which is what they’ve been demanding of others for years now.  When they win the election it’s “America: Love it or Leave it”, but if they lose the election it’s “America: Leave me I hate you!”

If there is any kind of justice in this universe, these secessionists would be publicly shamed and reminded of their secession request at every opportunity.  Every time they flew Old Glory, every time they commented on some politician not showing “enough” signs of patriotism, every time they attend a July Fourth parade, every time they sing the national anthem or recite the Pledge of Allegiance, they should be reminded loudly and publicly that they spit on that very nation when they demanded that “their state” leave the United States simply because “their candidate” lost the election.

Let’s get brutally honest here… ultimately all of these things are in the lap of the GOP.  All of these things were done under their banner and done for their cause.  They were the ones that created the “anything goes” and “do whatever it takes” atmosphere that encouraged these people to do what they are doing now.  Each of these people – Nugent, Trump, the Secessionists, the Birthers, the Tantrum 500’s – they all operated with the idea that a member of the GOP would be President, and when denied that goal of a GOP Presidency, they are now carrying out revenge on America.  You had might as well stamp the GOP elephant right on each of their foreheads.

I’m sure the counter-argument would be made that in some twisted alternate universe the Democrats would do the same thing if their people lost the election.  But they didn’t lose the election.  The GOP lost the Presidential Election.  That is reality, and it is high time that the GOP bosses and members dealt with that. 

These incidents are an embarrassment to the GOP, to our political system, to the process set up by our predecessors by which we select leaders and representatives, and it is an embarrassment to America in general.  It is high time that the GOP do the right thing, step up, and clean up their campaign garbage.  It has already begun to reek.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Week of 11/19/2012

Puerto Rico 51?  Make It Happen Quick!
– by David Matthews 2

Something strange happened while we Americans were wasting six billion dollars to sustain the status quo

The citizens of Puerto Rico decided they wanted to be a full-blown member of the United States of America!

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States since the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898.  Its people became American citizens in 1917, enjoying some of the rights and freedoms as any other American but with a few notable exceptions.  They cannot vote for a U.S. President or Vice-President, even though they have a say in the primaries and caucuses.  They only have “shadow representation” in Congress.  They aren’t really covered under the U.S. Constitution because they’re not a state, but they also are not a sovereign nation.  They get Social Security and Medicare, but they don’t pay federal taxes.

It is a political and administrative “grey area” that they’re in… and, the thing is, the voters have wanted this for decades!

For years, the citizens of Puerto Rico were given a choice as to whether or not they wanted change.  They could choose statehood, independence, or continue with their Commonwealth status.  Since 1968, the citizens of Puerto Rico voted overwhelmingly to continue with their Commonwealth status.  They voted again in 1993 and 1998 with similar results.

But not this year.

This year was different.  This year they had a two-part referendum.

Question One: Do you want to continue with the current status?

Question Two: Do you prefer Statehood, a “Sovereign Free-Associated State”, or Independence?  By the way, a “Sovereign Free-Associated State” would essentially re-negotiate their Commonwealth status but they would still be in that “grey area”.

The key was the first question.  Only those that voted “No” to the first question could count to vote on the second one.

Puerto Ricans voted “No” to Question One by a 54% majority.  Of those, over 61% voted for statehood.

In other words, for the first time since 1968, the majority of Puerto Ricans actually voted to end their current Commonwealth status and become a full part of the United States of America.

But don’t start planning your statehood party just yet.  It’s still not a done deal.

You see, before we can call Puerto Rico our fifty-first state, it has to go through the United States Congress.  Yes, we are talking about the same Congress that is dominated by one party that is inept and one party that would rather see your children die before doing anything to help out the guy in the White House.  It is now up to them to actually make Puerto Rico a new state.

Puerto Rico already has a “state” constitution.  It already has local infrastructure and “shadow representation” in Washington.  They have done all of the hard work to make statehood reality.  All they need is Congress to sign off on it.

And this is probably the silliest part of it all.  This commentator checked to see if there was any special procedure that needed to be done for statehood, and apparently it just requires Congress to approve it.  No super-majority vote, no two-thirds state ratification, not even a note from Epstein’s mom!  Just a simple bill sponsored and approved by both houses by a simple majority.  Unfortunately for the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the words “simple” and “majority” are alien to this batch of Congressional grifters and shysters.

Let’s get brutally honest here… I firmly believe that Congress should not waste too much time following through with this and make Puerto Rico the fifty-first state.

There is something for both dominant political parties to gain with officially following through with statehood for Puerto Rico.  For the House-dominated GOP, it’s an opportunity to bring in much-needed tax revenue from a territory that currently doesn’t pay any of our federal taxes.  You guys continually claim you want to eliminate the so-called “welfare deadbeats”, right?  Statehood will fix that for one for the biggest welfare recipients we currently have!  And for the Senate-dominated Democrats, you guys get two new full-fledged senators to offset the GOP minority!  Plus, remember what I said about welfare recipients?  They’re not going to vote for the party that takes their benefits away, are they?

At the very least, think of all of the jobs that would be created to come up with new American flags with 51 stars!  Oh, wait, all of our flags come from China now, don’t they?  Well they can correct that mistake as well.

But Congress needs to act on this, and they need to act now before the citizens of Puerto Rico realize just what the hell they’ve voted for and change their minds with another referendum vote.

Understand that Puerto Rico’s current status as a “territory” instead of a state is not unique.  We acquired it along with Guam and the American Samoans back in the age of “manifest destiny”, when American leaders decided to expand our “American Exceptionalism” like our counterparts in the European nations of England, France, and Spain.  We were a little late in the whole “empire-building” thing, but at least we still have ours!  And we treated these territories like we treated our own District of Columbia… it’s “ours” but not really “worthy” of being a full-fledged part of the United States.  We get our imperial cake and get the rest of the world to eat it too.

But just like we did with former territories Hawaii and Alaska over fifty years ago, we now have an opportunity to expand as a nation and bring in a new state whose people are now willing to be a part of.  And unlike the Middle East or Asia, we get to do it without needing to wage a war.  In fact, we already waged that war over a century ago… it’s just long past time that we finished collecting on it and to do away with the antiquated notion of having imperial-like territories.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Week of 11/12/2012

The 2012 Presidential Morass Is Over!
– by David Matthews 2

It’s over!

The 2012 Morass is done with!

Our long-running nightmare has finally come to its conclusion.

And… shocker of all shockers (all sarcasm intended)… the status quo remains intact.

Much like the ending in “The Matrix Revolutions”, this commentator is left with this somewhat numb feeling, of being told that it’s “over” and trying to be elated by it, but still being puzzled by the outcome.  Sorry “Kid”, you may be saying “The war is over”, but it doesn’t feel like that’s the case.

President Barack Obama has won his re-election campaign.  As I said in a previous column, this was always his race to lose, and he proved it.

But I’m not going to gloat about it, mostly because I didn’t vote for him.  I voted my conscience instead of according to a party script.  I’m also not going to throw a temper tantrum over his win, for pretty much the same reason.

Am I happy that he won?  There’s a part of me that says “yes”.  I won’t deny that. 

There is a part of me that is happy that Obama won because of the naked narcissistic arrogance and blatant hypocrisy of those in the GOP that were shoving their candidate down our collective throats.  The egos of a political faction that has been pompous and self-serving even back when I was a card-carrying member of the GOP is something that has they have never been able to address.

And why the conservatives and neo-conservatives and theo-conservatives indeed lost, it wasn’t a truly “humbling” loss for them.  It wasn’t a clear loss for them.  They still hold the House of Representatives in their hands.  They still have filibuster power in the United States Senate.  Congressman Paul Ryan, aka “Mister Budget”, still has a job in Washington.  So does fellow Representative and Presidential Wannabe Michelle Bachman.  They can still create trouble for Obama’s second tenure, and they vowed to do just that long before the first ballots were cast.

So, no, they’re not humbled, and many of them truly need to be.

But let’s see where they went wrong.  Let’s start with…

The Man They Had:  Willard “Mitt” Romney was not the man that the GOP really wanted on the ticket.  He’s the man that the voters in the primaries and caucuses chose over all of the others; even though the diehard evangelical GOP extremists vowed on a stack of bibles the size of the Washington Monument that they would “never” have him on the ticket.  Not only did they go back on their promise from this past January, but they then carried on and championed his campaign as though they were on his side from day one.  The word “hypocrisy” in this regard would be an understatement.

“It’s My Turn”:  Once again we have a candidate that believed that it was simply “his turn” to win, as though the Office of President of the United States was a matter of “paying your dues” and “waiting your turn”.  John Kerry thought this was the case.  So did Bob Dole.  So did Vice-President Al Gore.  Mitt Romney just found out that it just isn’t so.

“Birth Certificate” Meet “Tax Returns”: While Romney tried to stay away from the whole “Birther” issue… operative word being “tried”… Romney wasn’t as transparent when it came to his tax returns, only deciding to make the most recent ones public and staying away from anything connected to his former workplace, Bain Capital.  This was a sore spot from the primaries that never went away, and from the same political party that made a whole mountain pass out of Obama’s birth certificate.  Again, the word “hypocrisy” would be an understatement.

When will they learn?  Everything brought out in the primaries can and will be used against your nominee in the general election!  That’s the Political Miranda Rule and it is proven time and time again!

October Mega-Storm Surprise:  Who would have thought that the “October Surprise” of this election would be Mega-Storm Sandy?  It certainly gave Obama the opportunity to demonstrate how he handled a natural disaster compared to his processor, not to mention give him some unexpected public kudos from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. 

Oh, and word of warning to President Obama: you need to follow through with that support now that the election is over, lest you back-end yourself into making the mistakes of your predecessor.

Etch-A-Romney:  Romney’s leaked-out “Etch-A-Sketch” tactic - while far from being new, original, or surprising - did make public something that was long talked about by pundits under their breaths; namely that a candidate will pander to the extremists in the primary season and then “flip-and-shake” and start all over again by pandering to the moderates.  It’s one thing for the audience to figure out how the magician does his trick; it’s another to stand on stage next to the magician and walk the audience through how he does it.

Picking on Big Bird: Imagine sitting down next to a friend of your boss and this “friend” tells you “I like you.  You’re a great person.  You do great work.  I have nothing but praises for what you do, but I’m going to get your boss to get rid of your job so he can fund my pet projects.  Nothing personal.”  That’s what Mitt told Jim Lehrer during the first debate when he said he would de-fund public broadcasting, and thus supposedly “fire” both Lehrer and Big Bird on “Sesame Street”.  Maybe that kind of cutthroat attitude is normal for Wall Street, but not for Main Street.  You don’t tell the moderator of your debate that you’re going to have him fired if you get elected, and you don’t tell kids that you’re going to take away their TV show. 

Oh and for the record, the folks at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting said that “Sesame Street” is funded by corporate sponsors, not through Congress.  But the imagery was more than enough to turn people away from Romney.  This outrage has been sponsored by the letters “F” and “U”.

Corporations Are People Too”: Sorry, Mitt, but you are out-and-out wrong.  Corporations are not people.  Corporations are business entities run by people that are able to use money that is not theirs.  Sound a little familiar?  They are no more “people” than you could proclaim that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts – which you once governed and you couldn’t even carry in this election – was a “person”.

That was, though, just one of many Romney-isms that did him in, and not all of them came from his own mouth.  The “Etch-A-Romney” was another example.  So was the proclamation that “This campaign will not be dictated by fact-checkers”.

Speaking of corporations, it also didn’t help Romney’s campaign any to have his friends in Corporate America try to intimidate their employees to vote for him or face possible layoffs.  This was unprecedented, folks, and a more-capable Attorney General might even call that a violation of federal RICO laws.  Oh, and just a word of warning… should that happen, it’s not the corporations that end up getting arrested and their assets seized.  It’s the actual people behind them.

The Company Mitt Kept:  This election was more than just Mitt, much as Mitt would probably like to think otherwise.  Mitt Romney represented the GOP, and that dominant party was just chock full of “colorful characters”… like Congressman Todd Akin, who believed that women had the same kind of “rape prevention” biology as a duck.  Or Richard Mourdock, who believed that pregnancies caused by rape are things that “God caused to happen”.  Or Congressman Allan West, the expelled Iraq War officer that invoked the ghost of disgraced Senator Joe McCarthy by claiming to have a list of known “Communist Party” members.

I haven’t even gotten to Super-PAC contributor Sheldon Adelson, who funded Newt Gingirch’s primary run that loaded him up with all of those anti-Romney nuggets and then funded Romeny’s campaign.  Think about it: a casino magnate funding a Mormon, whose own church condemns gambling… and nobody called “BS” on it!  I’m sure that convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff was bouncing off a few walls over that bit of realization.

Oh, it should also be noted that Akin, Mourdock, and West were each shown the door by the voters.

But perhaps the biggest thing that did Romney in was…

Romney’s World: Mitt Romney’s biggest enemy was his own bubble of delusion.  A delusion bubble that said that Obama started his tenure with an “apology tour” that never existed.  A delusion bubble that said that Romney could create twelve million new jobs before turning around and proclaiming “Government doesn’t create jobs”.  A delusion bubble that said that Obama coddled terrorists when Obama actually green-lit the mission that killed Osama bin Laden and had the Navy cracking down on Somali pirates, not to mention doubled-down on the PATRIOT Act in ways that even liberals are crying foul over.  A delusion bubble that accused Obama of not willing to work with Congress when it was Senator Mitch McConnell that proclaimed that it was the primary mission of the GOP to make Obama a one-term president.  A delusion bubble that said that Obama “had no plan” on dealing with unemployment when Obama would offer program after program that would be shot down in Congress.

It’s not hard to see where this delusion bubble would come from, of course.  Fox News, the late Andrew Breitbart, talk radio, conservative think-tanks, take your pick; any or all of the above will suffice.  It’s the same bubble from 2008 only with an extra dose of bitterness.

When you put all of these things together, though, you can see just where Romney went wrong.  Mitt Romney was a flawed candidate in a flawed party operating on a flawed premise that anyone – even a flip-flopping delusional Mormon – was better than Obama.

But while I’ll admit that there is a part of me that is glad to see that pompous arrogant faction lose, the rest of me is very bothered by the outcome.

Let’s get brutally honest here… despite the rhetoric, despite the outrage, despite the frustrations, despite the misery we have been enduring these past four years… the American people voted to maintain the status quo… again!

Yes, the really extreme members of the GOP are out.  Or, some of them, anyway.  The “Rape is God’s Will” and the “Legitimate Rape” and the “McCarthy was right” fundamentalist extremists are out.  The truck-driving conservative Scott Brown got replaced with the former TARP overseer Elizabeth Warren.  Even liberal Allen Grayson got his job back in Florida.  But Congresswoman Michelle Bachman still has her job.  So does Congressman Paul Ryan, even though he lost his brief run to be Vice-President. 

House Speaker John Boehner still keeps his job and his grasp of power in the House.  So does the perpetual surrender monkey, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Both legislative halves retain their respective party dominance and still with the filibuster threat looming over them to guarantee nothing passes.

If there was a fundamental shift in party dominance in Congress, that would have been one thing.  Then the claim could be made that the voters “accepted” or “rejected” any one party or philosophy.  As it is, the only thing that the voters seemingly rejected was Willard “Mitt” Romney and his delusion bubbles bought and paid for by Super-PAC money.

That is probably the biggest of the insults in this whole sordid Morass; the sheer volume of money wasted.

Quite literally billions of dollars were spent by K-Street and C-Street lobbyists and Corporate America on this election.  Billions that could have been spent on jobs.  Billions that could have been invested in other businesses to get Americans working again.  Billions that could have been put into expanding current businesses and improving employee conditions, thus raising the tax revenue base, and providing the revenue needed to reduce government dependency.  Instead, that money was wasted on TV ads and on overpaid and over-exaggerated political consultants like Frank Luntz and Karl Rove and Dick Morris.

Money that could have turned the Great Recession around was instead wasted on an election season that ultimately changed nothing.  Billions wasted to feed elitist egos instead of getting us all out of our economic death spiral.  Those aforementioned egos won’t see it that way, of course.  And now we all have to pay the price for their stubbornness. 

But don’t worry… the same people behind the 2012 Presidential Morass are already hard at work setting the stage for the 2014 Mid-Term Morass, and also for the 2016 Presidential Morass.  After all, overpaid consultants still need to make their money, and pompous egos still need to be stroked.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Week of 11/05/2012

Vote Your Conscience!
– by David Matthews 2

This article is being published the day before Election Day 2012.

That said, I know that I probably won’t be able to influence you at this point about whom you will vote for on Election Day.  Most people have made up their minds a while ago, and some people (like myself) have even been able to vote early so they wouldn’t have to deal with the hassles of waiting in line on Election Day.

But if you haven’t early-voted yet, I have some things I want to share with you about this 2012 Election Season.  Whether it changes your mind or not is up to you, but I’m not going to hold my breath while waiting on hearing about anyone doing that.

First of all, if you’re supposedly voting for real change, then you will never get it by voting for either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama.

I know that goes against the GOP script.  I know that it also goes against the Obama script.  But that is all that it is.  It is a script.  It is fiction, fantasy, a delusion whipped up by overpaid political consultants and reinforced by propaganda mills pretending to be cable news channels.

Mitt Romney has been running for President since 2006, back when he first decided to run for the job.  Remember that?  Remember how he campaigned back then?  Since those days, he has morphed and regenerated himself and his positions more times than Doctor Who, and all without changing actors!  He has flip-flopped so many times on so many positions that he should have the word “Croc” stamped on his forehead and be kept away from escalators.

So which Mitt Romney would we end up with should he win on Election Day?  All indications are that we’d end up with the Mitt Romney that would cater to the evangelicals like Bush Junior did for eight years, and like what Obama did passively these past almost-four years.  He’d cater to Big Corporate like Bush Junior did.  Gitmo?  He’d keep it going.  PATRIOT Act?  He’d sustain it and probably even expand on it.  The TSA?  Hope you enjoy those shoeless lines while they go over your luggage and check your tats through the body-scanners.  “Too Big To Fail”?  The gravy trains there would continue.  The Great Recession?  Oh that would be declared “done and over with” right after Election Day.  “Obamacare”?  You’d be lucky if that was repealed, but, then again, this was the guy that gave Massachusetts “Romneycare”, Obama’s supposed blueprint.

We’ve seen what Barack Obama has done since he took office.  He promised change and then put in a whole bunch of career insiders that kept the status quo going.  Not exactly the kind of change the American people were looking for.

Where Obama fails, more than anything, though, is his idea that the recession was short-term.  This is an economic wreck in the same league as the iceberg-gouge of the Titanic, and he operated on the premise that our economic-ship-of-state was simply taking on “a little water”.  Add to that Big Corporate playing their parasitic games and the GOP continuing their orchestrated sabotage, and it’s safe to expect the same systematic dysfunction to continue.

Not much of a choice if that is all you believe that we have.

I know the GOP script says that this is a choice between “freedom” and “socialism”.  That, however, is a bold-faced lie, and they know that it is a lie. 

This is the party that enacted and defends to this day the PATRIOT Act.  This is the party that shoved the Transportation Safety Authority down our throats, forcing us to wait in line without shoes just to board a flight.  This is the party of perpetual war ripped right out of the pages of George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four”.  This is the party that invented the Drug War – coined by Richard Nixon no less!  They wouldn’t know what freedom really was even if America’s Founding Fathers crawled out of their graves and bitch-slapped them.  By falsely claiming to be the party of “freedom” they are knowingly and willingly engaging in a fraud on a level that would make Bernie Madoff look like a rank amateur in comparison.

While not on par in terms of the fraud being perpetrated by the GOP, Obama’s campaign idea of “Forward” only makes sense if people really were moving forward instead of struggling just to keep from going under.  As mentioned in an earlier column, America finds itself rowing against an economic maelstrom, and the maelstrom is winning.  And rather than confronting the forces behind this man-made economic maelstrom, Obama’s subordinates broker sweetheart deals that allow criminal acts to be excused for nothing more than corporate pocket change.  His ideas have been sabotaged by a legislature that is one-half hostile and one-half incompetent, and by corporate executives that have been screaming like spoiled children in a toy store. 

All this while Americans suffer through the continuing effects of a recession that nobody wants to admit is still going on!  There’s nothing “forward” about where we are or where we’re heading.

Again, not much of a choice.  If that is all you believe that choice to be.

The problem is that for many American voters, there are other choices on that ballot.  Choices that are truly clear alternatives to the misery we’ve been going through with both the GOP and the Democrats.  But you consciously choose to ignore them… in favor of a script, no less!

It’s like some demented soap opera story where the young female character is asked to choose between two abusive suitors while ignoring her soul-mate.  And then she complains that she never finds love, when she consciously spurns those that would truly love her.

That is the kind of social sadomasochistic abuse most Americans put themselves and the rest of the nation through!  And all for a script!  A script that favors politics and corporate money over actual human beings!

So the question I want to really ask you is this: are you ready to live with that choice, no matter what it may be?

If you vote for either Obama or Romney, are you prepared to live with the screwjobs that will follow?  Are you prepared to have the powerful continue to screw over the powerless without any accountability whatsoever?  Are you prepared to be disappointed when those political promises they make do not come true?  That is what you will be facing after Election Day regardless of either Romney or Obama winning.

Let’s get brutally honest here… you pretty much forfeit any legitimate right to complain about a lack of choices if there are more than two on that ballot, especially if that other option better reflects the kind of person you want to represent you in government.  And if you say that he or she “can’t win”, then you have not only bought into the script, but you have proved you are a miserable excuse for a conscious human being.

Here’s a little nugget of reality: we vote for people who “can’t win” all of the time!  We call them “underdogs”.  We tell stories about them and make movies about their continual struggle to defy the odds.  Just look at the Cleveland Browns and the undying support their fans have no matter how bad of a football season they end up with.  You wouldn’t tell the Cleveland Browns to just not bother playing football, would you?   You wouldn’t walk into the Cleveland Browns Stadium and tell the 73,000 or so fans in attendance to just go home, would you?

And yet that is precisely what the script demands you to do when it comes to politics.

What I’m ultimately asking you to do is really very simple: I’m asking you to vote according to your conscience.

If you feel that someone else’s script is more important than your own values and your own expectations of how your chosen candidate should represent his or her constituents, then so be it.  I just want to know if you’re ready to live with the consequences of that choice.

You will not be any freer with either Romney or Obama.  They have proven this in both words and deeds.  Guantanamo Bay would still be there.  So would the PATRIOT Act and the TSA.  The economy will not just miraculously “heal” because of who wins or loses.  All of the hype generated from overpaid consultants will not change any of that.  If you are suffering now because of the recession, you will continue to suffer after the election, regardless of the outcome.

Are you ready to live with that? 

Are you ready to live with disappointment?  Are you ready to have promises broken?  That is precisely what you will be facing. 

If you’ve decided to prostitute your values for a party script, you’re going to find that you’re easier than a Craigslist whore in that regard.  You’ll find that you’re getting nothing out of something that is so precious for just one moment in one day that the political parties will spend billions to influence it.

Think about it.  Billions of dollars have been spent this year to own your vote.  Billions on consultants and ads and debates, billions on cable news programs to control what you think, billions on the messages you freely regurgitate on Facebook.  Billions of dollars that could have turned the recession around three times over…

And you don’t get one single penny of it.

Cheapest whores ever!

I’m just asking if you can live with that reality and the consequences of your actions.

The magical thing about voting is this: it is the one time, the only time, when politicians ever care about the masses, because it is the only time the masses have the power outside of a revolt.  All of the special interest groups, all of the overpaid political consultants, all of the ego-driven cable news personalities that pretend to be journalists, all of the forces that would otherwise influence government on a daily basis have no power once you enter that ballot box to cast your vote. 

If they chase you away from voting, then they have won.  If they convince you to sacrifice what you believe in so their candidate can get elected or re-elected, then they have won.  The only change they will accept is the one through their chosen candidate.  If you want real change, then you have to vote for the candidates that would actually provide it instead of what the script says. 

By the way, here’s the other magical thing about voting: if you vote for true change, even if your choice doesn’t win, you still have an effect on the outcome.  If enough people vote according to their conscience instead of what the script demands, then the powers-that-be start to pay attention and start supporting that actual change.  We saw this in 1992.  Remember the Reform Party?  We can see it again, but we each have to vote according to our conscience instead of a script.

It’s up to you now.  Choose wisely, and be ready to deal with the consequences either way.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Week of 10/29/2012

Living Near Empty
– by David Matthews 2

So… how much gas do you have in your vehicle?

It’s a weird question, I know, but if you think about it, it’s probably a better question to ask when it comes to measuring the economy than anything the politicians and the media will come up with.

The politicians and the media operate under quite a few fallacies when it comes to measuring the economy, and quite frankly, those fallacies have been slowly killing the United States.

For instance, they will assume that Wall Street is synonymous with Main Street.  If Wall Street does great, then Main Street must also be doing great.  If Big Corporate is thriving, then Main Street must be thriving as well.

Basically it’s the corollary to the “Trickle-Down Theory of Economics” that says that as long as those up top are doing great, then the rest of the country should follow.  So for the past ten years we were told that as long as big corporations were posting profits, then the economy should be doing great. 

Never mind that real wages did not keep up with the cost of living.  Never mind that Big Corporate was outsourcing jobs to other countries during that time.  Never mind if consumer spending was done on credit.  Never mind that some of that corporate profit was just on paper through a cleaver series of Rube Goldberg programs held together by force of personality.  Pay no attention to the flim-flam-man behind the curtain; just shut up and give Big Corporate your money and call it a “robust economy”.

Even today, financial institutions and politicians and pundits one and all use whatever barometer they can to get the results that they want.

Unemployment numbers, for instance, have long been manipulated, since they only measure the number of people who are claiming (and receiving) unemployment assistance.  They cannot measure the actual number of people who are out of work and either cannot claim benefits or those that have already exhausted their benefits.  If you’re still getting severance pay, then you don’t count as “unemployed”.  If you applied for unemployment assistance and your claim was denied, then you don’t count as “unemployed”.  If you are on disability, then you are not “unemployed”.

So if you deny more claims and you cut the length of time for those benefits and you disqualify more people, then you will see the “Unemployment Figure” go down. Ta-Da!  “Recovery” without a single job being created!

But people still need to eat.  They still need to pay bills.  They still need a roof over their heads and gas in their cars.  Political sleight-of-hand tricks can’t change those things.  Redefining “job creation” to being “jobs created or saved” instead of actually creating new jobs does nothing to help people get food, pay their bills, keep a roof over their heads, or put gas in their cars.

And what happens when money is tough for us?  We have to cut back on the things we can get.  We don’t go out for movies; we’ll buy the DVD and a bag of microwave popcorn instead.  We don’t get the latest gadget; we’ll make do with what we have or buy it when it is on discount.  We won’t go to the restaurant; we’ll learn to cook or buy microwave meals.

And we don’t fill our gas tanks, do we?  No, we’ll only get as much as we need and as much as we can afford.  If it means driving close to empty, then we’ll do it.  We have no choice.

Now we think that this is just temporary.  We’ll put up with these sacrifices because we believe that it’s just for a little while, and then things will get better.

But what if I were to tell you that this is really “the new normal”?

Many of the jobs that were lost at the start of the Great Recession are gone.  They will never come back.  They are either on the other side of the world or else they have been written off completely.

Our government found it easier to strike a deal with the banks than to hold them to account for the crimes they committed.  Take the “fine” (which is the equivalent of tossing pocket change), agree to some bogus “program” to help those that need it, and then declare the whole matter closed.  But those foreclosed homes are still empty.  Those families that were thrown out of those homes are not going to be getting new homes anytime soon.  Whole neighborhoods are ghost towns.  And those that remain are losing their ever-precious “equity” because of forces beyond their own control.

Jobs that are gone that will never come back.  Homes that are empty and will not be filled, owned by banks that just don’t care about the effects of their actions because they know they can buy their way out of trouble.

And now add to this the predatory philosophy of plunder that Corporate America has embraced.  A philosophy that demands profit at all costs.  A philosophy that demands cutting operations to the bare bones to meet those ever-precious profit margins.  A philosophy that says “you will make do with less and you will like it; and the next time around you will make do with even less than that so long as you give us our precious profits.”

This is what I mean by “the new normal”.  America is being told to make do with less with no end in sight.  There is nothing “temporary” about this “new normal”.  Any prosperity goes to profits first, higher benefits for the top-ranked people second, and the other employees dead last.

And this “new normal” extends to the public sector as well.  State and local governments are obligated to make do with less as there is less and less tax revenue available.  And revenue continues to get bleaker as Corporate America insists on getting more and more tax breaks and more and more leniency from regulatory oversight.

But agencies still need to be funded, right?  Schools still need to be funded so children can learn.  There still need to be police officers and fire fighters and paramedics.  Jails need to be staffed to keep the bad guys locked up.  And they all want to be paid, right?  They still have to have a roof over their heads and food on the table and bills to be paid. 

Someone needs to pay for all that.  And guess who ultimately does?  It’s not Big Corporate; their costs are transferred to their customers as part of their overhead.  When all is said and done, we end up footing the bill for it somehow.  That’s another cost that we have to deal with.

We tell ourselves we’re doing okay, but let’s get brutally honest here… we’re really not.  We’re paddling against a maelstrom, and the maelstrom is winning.  And as long as the people behind the root causes of this maelstrom are allowed to continue unchallenged, our struggle against it will have to continue, or else we succumb to it like so many others have.

And it’s not just in America.  Look at Europe.  Look at the so-called “Austerity” programs being foisted on their citizens.  The same problems there are affecting us here.  And you’ll notice that the source of their misery is also the same.

No amount of political spin from the two dominant political parties can change this.  Political promises don’t put a roof over our heads, food on our tables, money to pay our bills, or put gas in our cars.  That will require a fundamental shift in mindset from the one group that has done everything they can to avoid accountability while reaping all the benefits of our pain.  The very people convincing the politicians and the media that everything is doing just fine, that this is just “temporary”.

And, as you can imagine, those at the top of the heap are the only ones that don’t have to worry about how much gas is in their cars.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Week of 10/22/2012

2012 Is Still Obama’s To Lose
– by David Matthews 2

I’ve been holding off on saying this, but I really can’t wait anymore.

As much as the GOP and their spin-doctors and their proxies on Fox News and the talk radio trained parrots will not like me saying this, the 2012 Presidential Election has been and continues to be President Barack Obama’s to lose.

I’ve been doing online commentary for over sixteen years now.  I was here when President Bill Clinton was seeking re-election.  I was here for the prefabricated spin and the hype that was being generated by the GOP in 1996.  I know that the GOP has to convince people that their chosen champion will prevail no matter what.

And I know that the prepared GOP script will say that 1996 is not like 2012.  After all, Bill Clinton had a growing economy on his side.  The world supposedly was not under that “heightened state of alarm” - in other words, we were told to “be afraid” instead of actually “being afraid”.  Gas prices were cheaper then than they are today.  But we still had Iraq to worry about.  We still had domestic terrorism thanks to people like Tim McVeigh and Eric Robert Rudolph and Paul Hill.  The federal debt was still an issue then.  Petty squabbling between the Congress and the White House was still an issue. (Remember Newt Gingrich’s supposed “Air Force One tantrum”?)  Regulations were still a big complaint then; so were taxes.

The only real differences between now and then?  The economy and the “police state” tactics.

And the scary part is that neither candidate will really address these in a way that will truly help out the American people.

Oh sure, Romney said in the previous debate that he would create “15 million new jobs”, but then he ended the same debate by reciting the GOP lie of “Government doesn’t create jobs”.  Which is it Mister Romney?  Either you’re going to create them – and thus take the credit for them – or you won’t.

We’ve seen how Obama has handled “Too Big To Fail”… with bailouts and sweetheart deals.  Millions of Americans were swindled out of their homes in robo-signing foreclosure scams.  But the perpetrators of this widespread theft will never spend a day behind bars.  They won’t even lose bladder control over it.  They’ll just fork over some pocket change, which gets sent to the states, which they then spend on their own pet projects instead of giving it to the victims of these criminal acts.  In other words, the victims get nothing!

But what would Mitt Romney do that would be any different?  We won’t really know, because he’s too busy attacking Obama over what he said concerning Libya and whining about an “apology tour” that never happened. However, given how Romney has already proclaimed that “corporations are people” and some of those “people” are among his chief campaign contributors, this commentator finds it hard to believe that Romney would be willing to hold his “people” to account for their actions.

As for the continuing encroachments of our freedoms, the GOP script says that Romney would support the PATRIOT Act, continue to have people detained in Guantanamo Bay, and use “enhanced interrogation tactics”.  Not to mention he would continue to exercise that “lone superpower” image that the GOP has been using since the days of Bush Senior.  In other words, it appears that Romney would continue to do everything that Obama is doing now, which is continuing everything that Bush Junior did. 

Oh, and I wasn’t supposed to say that out loud because the truth might harm the “fragile feelings” of these partisans that have been so worked up in a froth over supposedly “being different”.

So… how is that being an “alternative” to what we already have going on?

That’s really the GOP’s problem.

Despite their claims of a “clear difference”, despite their rhetoric, despite their spin, despite their lies, there is very little that differentiates between Obama and Romney in terms of how they would truly affect the American people.  Romney would essentially run the GOP script; repeal Obama’s healthcare reform so the insurance companies can continue to play their games, put in place something that would resemble Paul Ryan’s economic plan, and pretty much let the economic screwjobs continue.  Obama would continue with what has not worked out for the American people.  The GOP would still obstruct, the Democrats will spinelessly surrender, and Obama will continue let the economic screwjobs continue.

Again, not much of a difference.

And that actually works in Obama’s favor. 

There are no big surprises with Obama; only failures, letdowns, and half-hearted attempts.  The public knows that he tries; they know that the GOP will make life miserable for everyone, and they know that nothing gets done.  They’ve gotten used to that orchestrated incompetence. 

With Romney, people don’t know what to expect.  Which Romney will they get?  The moderate Romney from 2008?  The “not-as-extreme-but-still-conservative” Romney from January?  The “Power-suit” Romney with the London Olympics blunder feature?  The Romney with his Etch-A-Romney “flip-and-shake” political attachment?  The Romney with Kung-Fu Grip?  We’ll only find out which Romney the American people will end up with should he get elected, and by then it would be too late.

Here’s a little tip: you can’t expect the masses to remember what Obama promised in 2008 and at the same time forget what Romney was campaigning as back then.

Let’s get brutally honest here, GOP… You’re right in that Mitt Romney of 2012 is not like Bob Dole of 1996.  But that doesn’t mean that the results won’t be the same.

The key words here are “clear alternative”.  Walter Mondale didn’t have it in 1984.  Bob Dole didn’t have it in 1996.  John Kerry didn’t have it in 2004.  All they had on their side were politics.  They lost because they couldn’t offer the voters anything different that would help them.  Changing the captains on the Titanic doesn’t stop the ship from sinking if all they’re doing different is deciding which of the “elite” passengers will get the lifeboats.

Let’s also remember that the GOP wasn’t really happy with the candidate they got.  “Anyone but Romney” was their battlecry at the beginning of the year, and Romney didn’t really win out the base as he simply spent enough SuperPAC money to out-spin the competition.  It also didn’t help that the GOP bosses themselves pompously declared that certain candidates in their own party weren’t worth considering even before a single primary vote was cast.  The GOP bosses should seriously re-think that idea should their champion lose this November.

There’s one other element that really isn’t being discussed too much, and that is the role of the Electoral College.  Remember, the voters don’t really have the final say in choosing a president.  The members of the Electoral College have that final say.  The folks at the Huffington Post know this, which is why they have an Electoral Map on their website.  You may want to take a look at it.  The magic number of Electoral Delegates to win is 270.  Mitt Romney has not scored anywhere near it since they started tracking it.

Obama doesn’t have to win in every state.  He just has to win in “enough” states to get that Electoral edge.  So all the claims about a national “poll” giving either candidate “the lead” is ultimately nothing more than political BS.  It’s the states where it matters, and even then it’s having enough of the “right” states to guarantee that magical number of 270.

Keep in mind that I’m saying this as a real political independent.  Neither of those candidates have earned my vote; and I know that, no matter which one wins, America is still going to get screwed over.  But for a political party that claims to despise entitlement programs, the members of the GOP have certainly been parading themselves around as though they are entitled to win in November.  And of all of the so-called “entitlements” in politics to complain about, the entitlement of presumptive arrogance should be the very first one cut from our system.