Monday, December 15, 2014

Week of 12/15/2014

The 2014 Brutally Honest Awards
Well folks, here we are coming up to the end of one more year.
As has been tradition for almost every year since the column began in 1996, we like to wrap up the year with a look at the best of the best and the worst of the worst, and sometimes a jab or two at a few things in between.
Bear in mind that this isn’t all-inclusive, and some subjects are last-minute additions, because let’s get brutally honest here… the real world doesn’t go on holiday breaks, and unlike TV programs, we can’t just wrap everything up for a mid-season finale.
So let’s rock…
The Biggest Winners of 2014: The GOP and the Goddamned Status Quo – Oh, you thought you were “changing” things up this year?  Keep dreaming, people!
In fact, I’ll just give you a prediction of what you’re going to hear after the GOP take over the Senate in 2015 and the mindless masses don’t get the change they think will happen.  This is what you’re going to hear…
“We want to bring about the kind of changes you demand, but unfortunately we don’t have a veto-proof majority, and as long as we have Barack Obama in the White House, we live under the tyranny of his veto pen.”
Just wait.  You’ll see I’m right about this… as always.  We’ve been down this road time and time again.  It doesn’t matter which of the two undeserving parties are in charge, they both read from the same goddamned script!
The Biggest Losers of 2014: The American People – And, yes, that includes all of you retards that voted for the so-called “lesser of two evils” instead of the real alternatives that were on the ballots.  You’ve sold your souls and this nation down the march towards plutocratic fascism.  I hope you are proud of yourselves, because I will be here to remind you of your bad choices over and over again until you chose to stop being retards.  Every time you slap your foreheads in frustration next year, I will remind you that this is what you voted for!
The Biggest Unrepentant Embarrassments to America in 2014 (tie): The Fascistic GOP, Conservative Talk Radio, and Fox News – They seem to get this award time and time again.  I don’t know how many weeks I’ve dedicated my column to their fetid hypocrisy.  They come up with bills that they know the President won’t sign, then they whine that the President doesn’t want to work with them.  They tie his hands up in committee and then whine that the President doesn’t “do anything”.  Then when he does use the same executive authority that his predecessor used without question, they scream and wail and accuse the President of being a “dictator”.  They justify torture, then throw little girl temper-tantrums when a report comes out that exposes the details of that torture.  And, even worse, they get on their high horses and say that America is so “great” that it can’t “engage” in torture.  They scream and they whine and they wail and they stomp their feet and what is even more sickening is that somehow the retarded voters keep on supporting them and putting them back in positions of power.
The Utterly Useless Award in 2014: The Democrats – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… we do not have a “two-party system” in America.  We have only one dominant political party – the GOP – and a weaker co-dependent “party” called the Democrats that only serve as the seat-warmers for the GOP when they overdose on their sociopathic fascism.
The Undeserving Award for 2014: Georgia Governor Nathan Deal – He comes to office on a cloud of Washington scandal and questionable ethics.  He makes questionable appointments.  His own Ethics Chairperson is called the most untrustworthy person in history.  His defeat at the ballot box should have been a no-brainer.  And yet even up against the grandson of a former governor and US President, he somehow managed to get the Georgia retards to re-elect him with a clear majority and a pompous condescending attitude.
The Saddam Hussein Award for Abuse of Power in 2014: Police Departments and Cowardly Prosecutors – You can shoot an unarmed big man in the middle of the street, you can strangle a man using a hold your own people say is wrong and do it in front of cameras, you can even lob an explosive device into a baby crib in the middle of the night, and as long as you have a badge, it’s perfectly okay.  That’s the message that prosecutors are saying through the cowardly use and abuse of the grand jury system.  And on top of that, they get military gear from the Pentagon! 
The con and neo-con lunatics got it wrong.  It’s not Obama they should be in fear of!  It’s their own cronies!
The “Good Riddance” Award for 2014 (tie): Attorney General Eric Holder, Donald Sterling, and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer – Both Holder and Ballmer announced their retirements this year, but only one of them have actually left.  Holder is guilty of aiding and abetting the banking criminals, allowing them to post pocket-change fines while continuing to screw over millions of struggling Americans, and his departure is long overdue.  Ballmer oversaw the end of Windows XP and tried to kill the desktop from Windows altogether, thinking that computers should behave more like cellphones instead of the other way around.  Now Ballmer has a new job… running the LA Clippers after the fiasco left by Donald Sterling.  And what a big pile of dung that whole thing was!  I mean, if your troubles become a subject of porn parody, then you’re really messed up!
The Stockings Full of Dung Award for 2014: Car Advertisers – Really, ad people?  You really expect us to believe that little kids would Skype Santa and ask for a new car that they can’t even drive?  Or that grown people would drop everything and go running to car carriers like they were ice cream trucks?
The Scrooge Award for 2014: Sony’s Playstation 4 – So… pre-Thanksgiving they have a standalone game system for $399.  And then during the dreaded “Black Friday” and “Black Thursday” and “Cyber Monday”, they have it for the “low, low, low” price of… $399.  And this is the standalone system.  No games bundled with it.  No package deal.  And you expect people to buy it?  Microsoft at least slashed their game system price by $50 and threw in two games.  Come on, Sony!  You’re better than this!
The Golden Globes Award for 2014: Kim Kardashian – No, she still can never “break the Internet”, but I won’t complain too loudly if she continues to try by showing off that really curvy and oiled body of hers some more.  In fact, I’d be rather happy if she did keep trying.
The Best TV Show in 2014: The Flash – “The Flash” follows CW’s series “Arrow” as the modern-day retelling of Barry Allen’s heroic beginnings.  But unlike “Arrow”, “The Flash” is brighter, perky, and energetic.  They don’t mind giving villains code-names.  They don’t spend their time lying to each other and then whining about others not being honest with them.  They even did a two-part crossover with “Arrow” which gave them the best ratings to date!  The CW seems to have clearly learned from the failures of “Smallville”, and they need to keep it going.
The “Smack My Head In Frustration” Award for 2014: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Okay, the TV series is supposed to take place inside the world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, alongside “The Avengers” and “Captain America” and “Thor” and even the “Guardians of the Galaxy”, and yet they seem to operate in the outer periphery of the blockbuster greats.  Their tie-in with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” was even more remote than for “Thor: The Dark World”.  They introduce really interesting characters, and then kill them off.  Every step forward for them results in yet another kick in the nuts of the viewers. 
Marvel and parent company Disney have done a great job with the movies, but what they really need to do is re-connect their TV series to the MCU in a big way.  And I don’t just mean with a one-time cameo with Lady Sif or even Nick Fury and some modest references to the movies.
The Biggest Disappointment in TV for 2014: BBC’s Doctor Who – This one is show-runner Steven Moffat’s award to claim.  Moffat oversaw the end of Matt Smith’s tenure as The Doctor, hyped us for the new tenure of Peter Capaldi – a longtime Who fan – and then… fumbled.  We got Clara Oswald lying to herself and everyone else.  Claiming to “not know” this Doctor, and yet this is the one that supposedly knew all of the incarnations.  A Doctor that doesn’t really become himself until four episodes into the season.  More plot-holes and unresolved storylines than “Twin Peaks”.  Good characters that get either abandoned or else killed off.  And then a season that was slashed in half, and after the Christmas special we have to wait until next fall to see what else Moffat can do to insult our intelligence.
Bunch of bollocks, this season’s been.
The Worst Timing for a Questionable Scheme in 2014: The Oil Investor Pitch – I hear weird things on the supposed “news radio” station here in the Atlanta area.  Questionable sales pitches for “wealth-building” programs that remind me of the old snake-oil sales pitches.  So recently I couldn’t help but laugh when I heard the sales pitch for oil well investments, promising continual growth in a market that would continue to go up and up and up and up.  Mind you this comes at a time when the price of oil is tanking and the price at the pump continues to drop and drop and drop.
Yeah, really bad timing, guys.
The Get Off Our Cloud Award for Digital Douchebaggery in 2014: The Data-Thieves – Whether it’s going after the Big Corporate stores like Target and Home Depot or going after the female celebs who foolishly put nude selfies on their cloud accounts, black hat hackers have made the digital world a nightmare for the non-tech person.  Some of that is the fault of Big Corporate and their obsessive fetish for information.  Some of that is the fault of Big Government and their fetish for getting into every device at any time for any reason.  And some of that fault is the so-called “technically illiterate” who get their hands on so-called “smartphones” and are given gigabytes of cloud server space and are told to take full advantage of it.  And they do, and they find out how foolish it was.  But the rest of the blame are the data-thieves and their fetish for stealing and selling our lives for a cheap buck.  (And, yes, our digital lives are cheap to them.  It’s just not cheap to us when we have to reclaim them.)  May you all get Ebola and suffer miserably.
Speaking of…
The Aids-In-The-Toilet-Seat Award for Stupid Hysteria in 2014: The Ebola Fear-mongers – This is not to minimize the threat of Ebola, but the out-and-out stupid hysteria that was generated by people who live in fear of something they will probably never get has been even more sickening than the disease itself.  Oooh!  The person who showed no signs of the disease actually breathed the same air as other people!  Get the torches!  Get the Benzine!  Get the antiseptics!
As Snoopy used to say when Lucy threw that kind of fit… “Blaaaaaaaaaah!”
And finally…
The We Will Miss You Award for 2014: Elizabeth Pena, Robin Williams, and “Old Vet” Dave Matthews – An actress who was taken before her time, a comedian who took his own life, and a father who was taken by the misery inflicted upon him.  The world will miss the first two.  I will miss the third more than any other who left us this year.
Well, that’s it.  Enjoy the holidays and see you guys in 2015.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week of 12/08/2014

Kangaroo Court Injustice
There is nothing more infuriating to this commentator than to see injustice prevail.
Remember the end of the original “Robocop” movie? (Spoiler alert if you never saw it.)  Our cybernetic hero won.  He defeated all of the bad guys that originally killed him.  He destroyed the “prototype” police unit that was sent to stop him.  And then he burst into the boardroom of the big corporation, confronted the corporate executive that ordered it all, and not only convinced the CEO to fire him, but then was able to kill the “Big Bad Boss” to save the day.  Justice prevailed.
Then they did “Robocop 2”.  And how did that end?  Well, the cybernetic hero was able to somehow end a police strike, shut down a drug cartel, and eventually take down both the “successor” police unit that was supposed to replace him and the psychopath leader that tried to kill him.  But now the “Big Bad Boss” responsible for it all doesn’t get their just desert.  Because now the “Big Bad Boss” isn’t just a power-mad executive… now it’s a whole board of executives.  And they all get to ride off into the sunset in their stretch limousine.  Justice did not prevail in that instance.  But we were told to simply accept that.
This is why the sequel left this viewer with a bitter feeling; because justice was not served by the end of the movie.  The real perpetrators of the misery were free to keep committing crimes against civilization.
Fast-forward to today.
America is still reeling from two decisions made just a few weeks apart that prove there is no justice in this country.
The first was in Fergusson, when a grand jury refused to indict a white police officer for killing an unarmed black man in the middle of the street.  The initial news of the killing caused riots and nationwide protests and exposed the scary reality that the idea of the “Jackbooted Thug” is no longer just a metaphor, but a real one driving military vehicles courtesy of the Pentagon. 
The grand jury’s “no true bill” decision sparked even more riots and protests across the nation, and what surprised me was that the power in power gave a half-assed thought about this kind of reaction.  Seriously, people-in-power, did you actually expect the African-American community to simply accept the decision like the good little peons you treat us all as?
And, really, we all should have known this specific decision was coming, because the longer the grand jury process dragged on, the more likely they were trying to make the whole thing go away.  Justice delayed is justice denied.  Then came the “rumors” prior to that decision being made that the officer in question was going to be retired.  That’s another sign.  And then the coup-de-gras that he had just gotten married just within days of the decision should have been a screaming red flag that he was going to get away with his actions.
Then came the script.  The newspaper editorials regurgitated the script that declared the officer being “vindicated” and “cleared” when that was not the case at all.  That’s not even how the grand jury system works!  But the truth is irrelevant.  Facts are immaterial.  It’s the god-dammed almighty Orwellian script that matters, doesn’t it?  All hail the almighty government and the status quo it protects.  Bow down and give praise.
I have my doubts about some of the events as the officer in question described them.  The idea of a big guy somehow making his way through the window of a patrol vehicle to wrestle for an officer’s gun located on the far side of the officer’s body – assuming it was holstered at the time – is logistically questionable.  And I know this because I’m a big guy and I’ve owned and driven a police vehicle (albeit a “retired” one).
But then comes the second decision, this time challenging even common sense.
A New York City grand jury refused to bring charges against a white police officer for killing an unarmed black male.  But this time it wasn’t by a gun.  This time he was strangled by the officer, who came up behind him and put him in an apparent chokehold.  This is a move that the NYPD supposedly outlawed their officers using back in 1993!
What made this particular decision even more disgusting was that this killing was done on video!  There was actual video footage from start to finish of the officer putting the chokehold on the unarmed large male, forcing him to the ground, and keeping the chokehold on him even when he was trying to get out that he could not breathe.
This is evidence that you’re not supposed to be able to beat!  No amount of fiction is supposed to trump video.
And yet somehow the grand jury was able to ignore what they saw and allowed the officer to get away with murder.  Not only that, but they turned around and indicted the man who videotaped the whole thing!  Talk about shooting the messenger!  This is the kind of retaliation you would expect from third world warlord, not from one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world!
Now it would be painfully easy to say that this was simply a matter of race.  Both instances involved white officers and black victims.  But I suspect there’s more than just race behind these gross abuses of power and a systemic refusal to bring justice.
Remember the case I mentioned during the whole Ferguson fiasco of the Habersham County Deputies that lobbed a flash-bang grenade into a baby crib and severely scarred and burned the 19-month-old boy inside?  This past October, that county’s grand jury also refused to bring one single criminal charge against the officers involved.  They recklessly lobbed an explosive device into a baby crib, permanently scarred an infant, and saddled the parents with millions of dollars of medical costs, and not one single person will be held to account for it!
Let’s get brutally honest here… what we are facing is not a matter of race.  It is a matter of local governments operating like third world juntas – complete with taxpayer-funded military vehicles and military weapons – and using the grand jury system like a reverse Kangaroo Court to whitewash the criminal activities committed by their own.
The grand jury is not some alternative court system.  It is a tool of the prosecutor.  In other words, it is a tool of the government.  It is supposed to be used to gauge how strong the prosecutor’s case would be, and to give the pretense that whatever case the prosecutor makes is not “personal”.  But it is the prosecutor’s show from start to finish.  They decide what evidence the grand jury gets to consider.  They set the parameters for the grand jury.  And in over 99% of the time, the prosecutor gets the indictment that they want.  It is the reason why there is the old saying that a grand jury could indict a ham sandwich.
So to have three separate grand juries from three different parts of the country issue “no true bills” involving gross abuses of government power that left people dead or maimed should be a statistical impossibility… unless they were designed to further aid and abet the criminal actions.
Failure to indict is not the same as an acquittal in an actual court of law.  It is not a vindication.  It is a sign of incompetence by the prosecutor.  If they can’t get what they want in a rigged procedure designed to rubber-stamp their intentions, then it is because they did not want it in the first place.
Damned be the editors and talking heads that further try to aid and abet these criminal agents of the government that pretend to “educate” the masses that are already angry by these decisions.  Damned be the overpaid personalities that scream bloody murder when professional athletes show silent and peaceful support for those protesting the aiding and abetting of these criminal acts.  Not only do they all fail American civics, they fail American history!  America itself would not have existed if not for people standing up against the gross abuses of government.
Even worse is that people expect the federal government to somehow step up and do what the local governments refused to do.  This is the same federal government and the same prosecutors that aided and abetted the biggest criminals in this country, the “Too Big to Fail” banks!  Do you honestly expect Attorney General Eric Holder, who brokered sweetheart deals for banking criminals, to suddenly channel the ghost of Robert Kennedy?  Keep dreaming.
No, justice was not served in Fergusson or in New York City or in Habersham County.  Injustice rules the day.  And injustice will continue to rule the day as long as those in power refuse to do the right thing and are not held to account for their actions.  Be mad about that!  Be angry!  But more importantly, use that rage to hold those accountable, because it is clear that the system will refuse to on its own.