Monday, October 12, 2015

Week of 10/12/2015

The NBC series “The Blacklist” is one of those interesting shows, mostly because you see James Spader pretty much owning any scene that he’s in.  He’s the villain-to-end-all-villains, and he’s giving the FBI all the secret cheat codes that the bad guys have been using since forever to stay one step ahead of the good guys.
In the premiere for the show’s third season, we are introduced to the “Troll Farmer”.  He’s a cyberspace specialist in diversions, employing a network of computer specialists and other support characters that generate realistic misinformation to divert public attention (not to mention law enforcement) from what is really happening.  He uses his skills and people to create thousands of false locations of our main characters – who are currently fugitives from the FBI – and also spreading phony stories to confuse the masses so Spader’s character can leave the District of Columbia.
Spader’s character then “rewards” the “Troll Farmer” by turning him over to the FBI, especially after being told that his services were no longer “available”.  One more name on the “Blacklist” crossed off.
It’s an interesting concept, and I have to wonder if we haven’t been plagued by the real thing.
We turn on the TV and we are subjected to the biggest routine con game in the world.  We hear endless chatter about people who want to be the next President of the United States and we’re barraged with speculation and fraud and presented numbers in lieu of actual physical votes.  We hear about who is “leading” in some contest that has no basis whatsoever to actual elections, as if somehow the former could replace the latter.  We hear about who is running, who might run, who is leading, who isn’t leading, and who could be dropping out before a single actual real live human vote could ever be cast.
We hear about this family of mostly women and some men (and one in between) who are in the media constantly because... well there really is no reason why they are in the media.  Sure, one of them is famous because he/she was a former Olympic champion, and one of them got our attention because she likes showing off her curvy body, but everyone else in the bunch really have no reason to be in the limelight.
But do you know what we don’t hear about?  We don’t hear about the economy and how things have been tough for the vast majority of us ever since the Great Recession.  We don’t hear how the Federal Reserve has been keeping interest rates at near-zero since 2009 and why they haven’t raised those rates even though Wall Street has been begging and pleading for them to do that.
Then again, we haven’t heard the dreaded “R” word in the media either... but it is out there in the news.  It’s being mentioned in the financial sections, as people are looking ahead and seeing nothing but the times getting worse instead of better.
There’s little talk about all of the corporations announcing layoffs.  There’s little mention of McDonald’s closing stores.  We hear that gas prices are... or were... dropping, but we’re not hearing too much about the oil companies cancelling projects and laying people off because the price of oil (not to be confused with the price of gas) is dropping thanks to the oil shale glut in America and the oil glut in China.
Speaking of China, does anyone even remotely think that their economic downturn can somehow happen in a vacuum and not have an effect on American finances?  Or, for that matter, the already-depressed economy in European countries like Greece?
But, hey, how about that Taylor Swift?  Isn’t she just a wonderful young lady?
Political gridlock is abundant, especially in light of the recent insurrection within the ranks of the GOP.  The GOP and their continual campaign of legislative sabotage keep pushing deadlines back further and further.  They claim to hate making deals, but they leave themselves in a position where they have no choice but to strike bargains that they then turn around and condemn at the top of their lungs like the spoiled children that they are.  It makes for great re-election drama, but the consequences of these brinksmanship games are never talked about.
But... hey, did you hear about what some presidential wannabe said about the Holocaust and gun control?
And it’s not just a national thing.  Local news seems to have a short attention span as well.  The editorials are full of so-called “conservatives” who love to talk about being against taxes and complain about Washington, but somehow the local taxes still go up.  They complain about the heavy-handed tyranny of Washington, but they justify the local police chief or sheriff in their demand for exponential increases in budgets so they can get body armor and military vehicles.  Street repairs or expansion or changes are planned and budgeted and then strangely forgotten, only to pop up again a couple of years later as something that “needs” to be done.  Endless talk is wasted praising “small businesses”, but you don’t hear about the slow creep of “We Buy Gold” stores and title pawn shops and little churches that don’t pay taxes. You also don’t hear, for that matter, about all of those promising stores and restaurants that suddenly close their doors.
But, hey, did you see who was crowned homecoming queen?  And how about that church gathering?  Wasn’t that just precious?
Let’s get brutally honest here... the idea of a “Troll Farmer” isn’t just a fictional character on TV.  It’s standard operating procedure for the powers-that-be to keep the masses distracted so they won’t see just how screwed we all are and how much more screwed we’re about to be.
Think about it... if more people knew about the coming recession, do you think they’d be standing in line for the newest Apple product?  Do you think they’d be getting new credit cards or buying new vehicles?
The thing is... thanks to the Internet, this stuff isn’t completely hidden.  It’s there if you know where to look.  The troll famers of the real world can only distract us for so long, and only for as long as we choose to be distracted.
So the real question is, why are we so willing to be the crop?

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