Monday, December 7, 2015

Week of 12/07/2015

The 2015 Brutally Honest Awards
Well another year has come and gone, and while some people wished the year would end sooner, I’m just glad that we just endured it.
And with the end of 2015 is the end of my self-imposed ban on talk about the 2016 Presidential Election and all the wannabes seeking to replace President Obama.  I have had to bite my tongue and bide my time for a whole year since the GOP clown car started loading up because...
Wait, wait, wait.  Let’s make this official.
The Biggest Waste Of Time And Attention In 2015: The GOP and Democratic Presidential Contenders For The 2016 Elections – Let’s get brutally honest here... the media and the pollsters and the political “experts” have been wasting all of our time and attention for the whole year for nothing more than an overhyped glorified fantasy football tournament!  This has all been one huge fraud on the American people!  It’s a shell game, a diversion, a way to take our eyes off the comings and goings of the world around us and focus instead on nothing less than a concocted fantasy involving two separate clown cars of wannabes and pretenders.
What’s worse is that this has been nothing short of a raw, stinking money grab for so-called “political consultants”.  There’s a story out now that shows that Super-PACs may be raking in billions and billions of dollars, but the vast majority of that money is going right into the pockets of “consultants” instead of into the campaigns they claim to be raising the money for.
So when I’m saying it’s all a huge fraud, I’m not exaggerating.
The Biggest Lie Told By The Media To The American People in 2015: Explaining Rick Perry’s Dropping Out Of The GOP Clown Car – Former Texas Governor Rick “Pray For Rain” Perry was one of many GOP clowns who thought he had a chance to be President... for a second time.  And then he wimped out long before a single primary or caucus could be cast. 
And how did the media explain it?
“The voters simply weren’t ready for Governor Perry.”
Excuse me, media?
Ex-cuse me?!?
“The voters” never had a say in the whole thing!  Not one!  Not one single solitary voter cast a ballot in any way, shape, or form yet!
It would be one thing if Perry dropped out after the first or second primary or caucus and it was clear voters weren’t voting for him.  Then the media can make that kind of claim.
But the voters don’t have any say whatsoever right now in this overhyped overpaid fantasy football game!  It’s all the figment of pollsters, consultants, and members of the media!
So it wasn’t “the voters” that were not “ready”...
... it was the media.
The Hypocritical Failure Award For 2015: Governor Scott Walker’s Bankrupt Clown Car Campaign – Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was yet another member of the GOP clown car, and his supposed strong suit was his “success” in controlling spending in his state and in breaking the control of the unions.  So... funny thing... he was yet another one of those early losers who wimped out before a single vote could be cast, and somehow... he’s broke!
Well, technically, his campaign is broke.
Last month, Governor Walker needed to beg his supporters for more money to pay for the $1 million in debt his campaign incurred.
Wait a minute, Governor!  You’re supposed to be a conservative!  You’re supposed to be a “successful governor”!  You’re not supposed to have this kind of a problem!  So not only are you a failure, but you can’t even be fiscally responsible for your own campaign?!?  Where’s your “proven management skills”, sir?
The Brief Moment Of Sanity Award for 2015: The United States Supreme Court Decision Over Same-Sex Marriages – I’ve said it since day one and I’ll repeat it here.  The subject of same-sex marriages doesn’t affect me one bit.  To me, it’s an issue of individual freedom, and the majority of justices in the Supreme Court got it right when they ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment prevailed on this subject.  As soon as one state legalized same-sex marriages, all the others had to follow suit and recognize them.  That’s what the Fourteenth Amendment was designed for.  And the GOP should know it because they were the party that pushed for its ratification a hundred-and-fifty years ago!
To borrow from William Shatner: I’m laughing at their “superior intellect”.
The American Ayatollah Award for 2015: Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis – While most places in America either rejoiced at the Supreme Court decision over same-sex marriages or screamed bloody murder over it, Kim Davis decided she was going to defy the American system and the very oath of office that she swore to on her bible.  And thanks to the Christian Dominionists and the GOP clown car of presidential wannabes, they turned her into a fake martyr and fraudulently claimed she was jailed because of her beliefs.
This is someone who should not be working her job if she can’t do her job according to the very oath she swore on her bible to carry out.  She can hate the Supreme Court decision, she can curse the justices and the judges and the Americans that support it, but she has no right whatsoever to use her government position to impose her religious beliefs on others, period.  That is why she went to jail!
“Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.”  Remember that?  Marriage is Caesar’s, not God’s.  Accept it and deal with it.
The Judas Award For Backstabbing Every Male In America: Playboy Magazine – This month, the last issue of Playboy Magazine will be released which involves nudity.  Decades of social and legal struggling for this content for men to read is flushed down the toilet thanks to a hack editor in the name of “rebranding”.  What will be released next year will be a fraud with a rabbit’s head logo.  And when... not if... the magazine eventually fails, that editor will have nobody to blame for it but himself.
The Douchebag Award For 2015: Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli – Let’s see... buy the company that is the sole manufacturer of a life-saving drug, jack up the price 5000 percent, then smugly get in front of the media and BS the world as to why this is a “good” thing, then promise to lower prices... and then reneges on it.  Yeah, you’re a real saint, pal.
The good news is that there is a company that decided enough was enough with these price-gouging Big Pharma companies and they’re coming up with generic alternatives for $1 a pill.
Oh, and Shkreli’s response?  He says he “regrets” jacking up the price 5000 percent.  He says it should have been higher.
This is why Wall Street people are the scum of humanity, people.
We now have our “Let Them Eat Cake” moment, folks.  Who wants to build a guillotine?
The Smartest Political Decision Of 2015 (tie): Vice-President Joe Biden Not Running For President and House Speaker John Boehner Resigning – Biden decided that it just wasn’t worth the hassle to run for the White House, and that was probably best for him especially since he did lose his son earlier this year.  Unfortunately for America, it may also cement Hillary Clinton’s nomination. 
Meanwhile, I have to give Bohener credit for knowing when to get out.  He couldn’t control his own House.  He’s had to watch as his radical extremists sabotage the legislative branch of government and then get the blame for it.  That branch is now in the hands of “Mister Budget”, Paul Ryan, which thankfully means that “Boy Wonder” won’t eventually try to run for the White House as long as he’s there.
The Biggest Clown Of 2015: Donald Trump – Like that’s a surprise!
Seriously, the secret to Trump’s so-called “success” is that he’s a self-promoting clown who knows how to play the media like Stevie Wonder on a piano.  And like I said earlier, this whole fantasy football hoax is being run by the media.  They created Trump.  They continue to cover him even as he castigates them and badmouths them.  They put him on the pedestal and keep him in the limelight.  And as long as they do that, he will milk it for all that it is worth.
I want you to imagine what it would be like if the media suddenly decided to treat him like they currently do to, say, Rand Paul.  Since the polls are controlled by the media, do you really think Trump would be anywhere near the top if they decided he wasn’t worthy of it?
Remember this well: polls are not votes!  It doesn’t matter what the polls say.  What matters is who shows up at the polling places and cast ballots for the primaries and caucuses.  We’ve seen this play out time and time again.  We’ve seen supposedly “unstoppable” people who come out on top in the polls and then fold when the votes come in.  Remember New York City’s thug-mayor Rudy Giuliani?  Remember Howard Dean?  Remember Hillary’s first campaign?
If Trump can actually get people to vote when it matters, that’s one thing.  Until then, he’s just a clown playing a clown act in the biggest overpriced and overhyped circus on the planet.
The Double Faceplant Award For 2015: DC Comics – So thirty years ago, DC hit the reset button with “Crisis on Infinite Earths”.  And it did what it was meant to do; it allowed DC to start over and keep their characters fresh and timely.  Unfortunately, it also opened up the idea that they can continue to come up with these big “mega-crisis” specials at least once every year, and then once every fifth week, and then pretty much once a week.  And then they overlapped so-called “mega-crisis” events so they would be part of other “mega-crisis” events.  And then they would hit the reset button again and again.
Well this year DC decided to unload “Convergence” on the readers.  Basically it’s the “Hunger Games” done with superheroes... and it wasn’t even the first time they tried that shtick either. 
And do you know what they did when it was done?  They undid “Crisis on Infinite Earths”!
It was bad enough that they erased seventy-plus years of content with “Flashpoint”.  Now they took their biggest and best maxi-series and neutered it.  Why?  So they can re-invent the wheel all over again.
And they wonder why they keep losing to Marvel?
The Biggest Waste Of Opportunity In 2015: Marvel’s Cinematic Universe – According to Marvel Studios, the three “Iron Man” movies, the two “Thor” movies, the two “Captain America” movies, the two “Avengers” movies, the “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Ant Man” movies, the Netflix shows of “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones” along with the forthcoming “Luke Cage”, “Iron Fist”, and “The Defenders”, and the ABC series “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” are all part of the same universe.
So why does it seem like they’re not?
This is something that I’ve brought up before.  It’s like the movies are part of one universe, the ABC series is in a parallel universe, and the Netflix shows are in yet another universe, with no sides actually connecting.  The lead-in from “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” to “Avengers: Age of Ultron” was weaker than their lead-in from “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, not to mention disjointed.  And even though both “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones” take place in New York City, you don’t see Avengers Tower in the skyline, which is supposed to be as distinctive as One World Trade Center.  In fact, they only mention established Marvel characters in the most generic of terms as “that guy with the hammer” or “the star-spangled guy”.
And don’t give me that “licensing” crap either!  Disney owns Marvel Comics, Marvel Studios, and ABC, and they licensed the Netflix productions.  They own it all, so they have absolutely no excuses whatsoever to not take advantage of it.
Make it all one big Marvel Universe, guys.  You owe it to the very fans that are watching it.
And finally...
The “Enough Already Goddammit” Award for 2015: The Media Over The Whole Jenner/Kardashian Clan – Kim Kardashian did not “break the Internet”.  She can’t even begin to do that.  And I’m sick of hearing about her husband wanting to give Beyonce every single music award.  I can’t even take his claim of wanting to run for president in 2020 seriously.  Congrats on the new baby, but, seriously, enough.
Okay, so Lamar Odom, estranged husband of Khloe Kardashian, overdosed in a Nevada brothel.  I’m glad he got help.  But, seriously, why did it suddenly become a “Kardashian” thing?  They were trying to get him out.  This only serves to help him stay.
Then there’s Kylie Jenner, also of the Kardashian Clan.  Okay, so she turned 18 this year and the media treated it like she suddenly started walking on water.  Even one California media personality said he had enough of this, and I was in full agreement.
And then there was Caitlyn Jenner, otherwise known as the athlete formerly known as Bruce.  Hey, if you want to call yourself “Caitlyn” instead of “Bruce” but still keep your man-parts, that’s your choice.  Doesn’t bother me one way or another.  What does bother me is how the media was all in our collective faces about the whole “introduction” and their continued insistence that she was now “Woman of the Year”.
Excuse me?
There are women around the world that have done more for other women than Bruce/Caitlyn ever have done since she “reintroduced herself”.  There’s a young woman who turned 18 who almost didn’t make it to that birthday because religious extremists tried to kill her for teaching other women to read.  There’s a mixed martial artist that showed young girls that you can be beautiful and still kick butt.  There are female singers that have helped young girls both in their songs and in what they stand up for.  None of them have gotten even a scintilla of the kind of attention in the media that was foisted on the woman that used to be a male Olympic champion simply because she was attached to the Kardashian Clan.
You know, it’s one thing when Clan Kardashian were putting their lives on display in their various cable news shows.  Then at least we can avoid that channel.  But we can’t do that when the media decides that Clan Kardashian should dominate the local news and the national news and the news websites and ESPN and the morning radio shows.  It’s hard to avoid the Clan Kardashian when the media decides to shove it in our faces at every opportunity.
Again, this isn’t about Bruce/Caitlyn.  Or, for that matter, about the Kardashian Clan.  This is about the media.  The same media that tries to tell us what to think, and that polls are just as good as votes.  That Wall Street is the economy, and that Orwellian fascism is “the new normal”.
Well that’s it for 2015!  I’m sure there are other things I could have brought up from the year, but these are the big ones.
Next month is a new year, and it’s when the clown cars will run smack into the primaries and caucuses, and the clowns will dwindle down to the biggest and the worst of the lot.  I wish I could say “the biggest and the best”, but I know the kind of idiots that show up at these things.  And, as you may have noticed, I’ve gotten a lot more cynical about the voting populace this year.
So enjoy the break.  I know I will.  And next year, we hit back with a vengeance.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Week of 11/30/2015

The Evils That Big Corporate Do
As I’m coming up to the end of 2015, I had a few thoughts go into my head that I was trying to get sorted out.  One of those thoughts, I believed, would end up being the subject for this week’s article.
But then I realized that they were all pretty much connected.  They all had one thing in common.  They all were the problems we have with Big Corporate.
Now I know someone is going to get all snooty and pompous and say “Well... there’s no such thing as ‘Big Corporate’!”  Yes, there is; and the fact that your self-righteous ego refuses to recognize it does not detract from the reality that the collective of corporations with their greedy, self-centered, self-serving, money-grubbing, predatory practices have been laying waste to the world pretty much since the Industrial Revolution.
First of all, there’s a sub-group of Big Corporate called Big Pharma.  Much like their sister sub-group, Big Medical, Big Pharma are pretty much all of the big drug-makers.  All of those slick ads on TV about various pills that you can take to supposedly make your life easier and more manageable are all from Big Pharma.
Now Big Medical and Big Pharma have been raking in the money for a long, long time.  They have gotten fat and rich and powerful because they’ve been operating behind-the-scenes in the healthcare business, thanks in no small part to the government and Big Insurance.  And they don’t want anything to stop their money train from keeping them fat and rich and powerful.  So when they heard that the government was finally going to do something about healthcare, they threw a fit, they staged national protests, and then they used their friends on K-Street to quietly substitute their own fraud into place which we call the “Affordable Care Act” or “Obamacare”.
It's not what the conservatives and neo-conservatives have been screaming about.  It’s not the fictional “monster” that Fox News and talk radio and newspaper editorials have programmed the masses to think it was.  It’s not even what the liberals wanted it to be.  It was worse.  It’s not “socialism” in any stretch of the imagination, and certainly not “communism”... because if you had a single brain cell in your head that wasn’t pre-programmed by Big Corporate, you’d know the ACA does not fit any definition of “socialism” or even “communism” other than the neo-conservative screed of “I don’t like it, therefore it’s socialism”.  It’s actually corporatism.  Go ahead and look it up.  I won’t hold my breath for your apology when you realize that I’m right.
So while Big Medical has been raking in the bucks, and Big Insurance has been wailing and whining like the spoiled bitches they are, Big Pharma has been doing something very dirty.  They’ve been engaging in raw, naked price-gouging of certain drugs that one company or another has sole control over.
Take, for instance, a life-saving drug.  Let’s suppose the consumer price of that drug is $1 a pill.  Now let’s suppose the maker of that drug jacks the price up to $500 a pill.  You may not think anything of it.  “Free Market” and all that B.S., right?  “Whatever the market will bear”, right?
Yeah, you’ll chant that corporatist gospel until the day you die... unless you’re the one that needs the drug to live, or if someone close to you needs it.  What?  Insurance?  Right.  Unless they tell you they won’t cover it because it’s now “cost-prohibitive”.  And, yes, it’s happened.  A lot of drugs that people need, especially for things like cancer, are now in the “top-tier” of costs, which means the insurance companies aren’t going to pick up the tab for them.
The media has been focusing on the mechanizations of Turing Pharmaceuticals and their slimy douchebag of a CEO, Martin Shkreli, but there have been several other companies that have been doing the same thing.  They acquire the rights to an important drug, then jack up the prices so they can make a blind-stinking profit at the expense of the patients, who now worry whether their insurance providers – which they are forced by law to pay because of the corporatist ACA – will even bother to cover them.
I’ll make it simple, Big Pharma.  Stop.  Just stop right now.
Do you really want the government to come down on you?  Do you really want there to be a legal and political showdown between the Food and Drug Administration and your blind stinking greed?
Sure, your shyster attorneys may prevail in court, eventually.  You may even get to defend it in the Supreme Court.  But between now and then, you’re poisoning the very customer base that you need to make your blind stinking wealth.  And that customer base votes!  Especially the ones that are getting older and older and need those drugs but don’t have the money to feed your greed.
And if you think that your fellow “Bigs” - Big Medical and Big Insurance - will somehow back you up in your price-gouging, think again.  Big Medical doesn’t like hearing that you’re gouging people literally to their deaths, and Big Insurance won’t be able to cover your greed for very long.  And, remember, you’re really not preying on the patients with this greed of yours, Big Pharma.  You’re preying on Big Insurance!
So just knock off the attitude, knock off the greed, and get your heads out of your asses.
The second “Big Corporate” issue in my wheelhouse right now deals with an event that has been in the media for years now: Black Friday.
The ultimate problem is the corporatist takeover of the Holiday Season and the over-extension of it well beyond the traditional time from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day.  I’ve complained in the past about how Big Corporate and their quest for more and more money have stretched the holiday sales pretty much into the Fourth of July.
But Big Corporate’s Christmas Day has always been Black Friday; the supposed time when they can make up for all of their perceived losses from the rest of the year and be in the financial “black”.  It’s always been on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  That’s why you see Santa Claus – the secular icon of the holiday – at the very end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  It officially marks the start of the Holiday Shopping Season.
Unfortunately for us, the consumers as well as the store workers, Big Corporate have been stretching this time as well.  First it’s the start of business on Friday.  Then it became 6am.  Then 3am.  Then right at the stroke of midnight.  Then Thanksgiving night.  Then Thanksgiving afternoon.  Then Thanksgiving.  And now it’s a day or two before Thanksgiving.  There are “pre-Black Friday” sales to tempt the shoppers.
So now it’s happened.  People are sick of Big Corporate’s B.S. over this time of the year and they’re doing what I’ve been trying to do for years: stay as far away from the stores as possible.  Attendance at these orchestrated mob gatherings is lax in many places this year.  Stores are complaining that there’s more merchandise than customers.
Some stores made the decision on their own to keep their doors closed on Thanksgiving and let their employees enjoy the day with their families before taking part in the madness.  A wise move on the part of those store owners.
This leaves people to ask the inevitable question: is Black Friday doomed?
And my answer is this: no.  Not by a long shot.
Yes, Big Corporate is being called out for being extremely greedy, but let’s get brutally honest here... having one lax shopping period is not a sign of doom for the whole concept of Black Friday, as much as we’d hope that it would be.
The rest of Big Corporate certainly kept up the insanity this year, and some of the masses still were very much asses when it came to those “doorbuster sales”.  And don’t think for a minute that this mob sickness wasn’t planned!  Getting people wound up for a really great “sale” and then putting an extremely limited supply for the mob to fight over is nothing short of Big Corporate’s form of “Bread and Circuses” entertainment!  The Romans had lions.  Corporate execs have stupid people fighting for big screen HDTV’s at cutthroat prices.
And let’s not forget that Corporate America has harnessed the power of the Internet as well.  So even if Black Friday is a bust, it doesn’t stop the millions and millions of shoppers from hitting the online stores for their holiday deals.  After all, who do you think created the whole concept of “Cyber Monday”?
You want to know just how crazy Black Friday deals are?  The people behind “Cards Against Humanity” gave the ultimate in raw deals for Black Friday.  You give them $5, and they give you... nothing.  And I don’t a special pack of something they called “nothing”; I mean you don’t get a single thing for your $5!  They keep the money.  And they were completely honest in their intentions.  They minced no words and told no lies when they said “Give us $5 and we will give you nothing in return.”
Do you know how much they made from that one-day deal?  Over $70,000!  That’s a lot of nothing!  That’s how gullible the great unwashed are, thanks in no small part to Big Corporate.
Listen, despite the wailing and moaning in the media, Big Corporate isn’t going to go broke because of a mediocre Black Friday.  And they sure as hell won’t cancel it anytime soon.  After all, there are still going to be plenty of people who either don’t trust the Internet, don’t have the access, or simply like the experience of actually getting the item in the brick-and-mortar store and taking it home instead of doing all of that waiting and worrying.
It’s your choice if you want to play Big Corporate’s games during this time of the year.  Just remember that its by their rules.  It is, after all, the real “reason for the season”.