Monday, December 5, 2016

Week of 12/05/2016

The 2016 Brutally Honest Awards
Well here we go, another year is about to end, and it can’t happen soon enough for this old online commentator.
As has been tradition for about 19 of the 20 years since this column has been online, the very last column for the year is reserved to celebrate the best of the best and the worst of the worst that has happened for the year.
A quick disclaimer: these best and worst categories are as how I, as the author and commentator, see things through my own filters.  These may not be your best or worst categories, and the list of categories changes every year, so what may be recognized as the best or worst of anything one year may not be there the following year.
The Biggest Winners of 2016: Fear-mongers, Hate-mongers, Race Supremacists, Christian Supremacists, Nationalists, Neoconservative Media Personalities, Neoconservative news services, Donald Trump and his family, and, of course, ‘Muricans – For reasons that have been made obvious this past November.  They managed to hoodwink their way into power, stick their thumbs into both eyes of the power-elites, and now they’re rubbing in the fact that they literally TRUMPED the world!
I will give them credit in that they did manage to power through their critics, including myself.  But that should also be cause for alarm for the rest of us, because this is history repeating itself.
The Sorest and Sorriest Winners of 2016: Fear-mongers, Hate-mongers, Race Supremacists, Christian Supremacists, Nationalists, Neoconservative Media Personalities, Neoconservative news services, Donald Trump and his family, and, of course, ‘Muricans –Yes, they get more than one award this year.
Here are a few “New Brutal Rules” that these ‘Muricans should heed...
New Brutal Rule: If you claim ownership of an insult or smear made on you, then you forfeit any and all claims to be offended by it!
If you cheer when Trump boasts about how he loves the “poorly educated”, then you forfeit any claim to be offended when people call you stupid and idiots!
If you proudly boast about how you’re one of the people that Hillary Clinton referred to as a “Basket of Deplorables”, then you forfeit any claim to be offended by the term!
New Brutal Rule: Don’t ask for instant forgiveness after waging unholy hell.
Remember what happened after 2008?  Did you guys simply shrug and accept the dark-skinned Senator from Illinois?  Don’t lie now! I was there watching you pathetic “poorly educated” “Basket of Deplorables” whine about Barack Obama and swear that he wasn’t “your” president!  For eight years America had to put up with your temper tantrums, and I will make it my mission in life to remind you of each and every instance of you ‘Muricans claim that “he’s not my president” and making stuff up about him and where he was born and whether he was educated and where he was educated.  There were things that Obama did that you could have rightly complained about, but instead you were making stuff up about apology tours that never happened, creating phony birth certificates, and hamstringing the judicial system in ways that are borderline treason.  Eight years of that crap! Eight years!  Don’t expect that to simply be forgiven because “you know, politics”.
Here’s an old saying: if you can’t take it, then don’t dish it out.  Guess what?  It’s serving time, and I’m handing out the ladles!
New Brutal Rule: If (or when) you get Trumped by Trump, then you have nobody to blame but your own sorry self-righteous asses!
You chose him for whatever delusional reason you had.  You cheer him on, you feed his ego, so whatever he does next is on you.
And don’t think it won’t happen!  When Sarah Palin, of all people, the Twitter Twit Queen herself, is critical of Trump’s actions even before he is sworn in, then you know Trump can Trump anyone!
Oh, and one more...
New Brutal Rule: If you complain that the system is “rigged”, that the elections are in doubt, then you have no legal or moral right to question the calls for recount!
Seriously, Trumpets, you have no shame and you clearly have no morals!  Trump did not win by a landslide.  He did not win a mandate.  He lost the popular vote and that gap is only getting larger and larger.  He won because of a constitutional system that Trump himself criticized back in 2012.  So if a third party candidate wants to pay for a recount, why the hell are you throwing temper tantrums over it if you believe it won’t change anything?  And, yes, she is raising the money for it, not the taxpayers!  So stop lying about it, Heritage Hacks!  Stop lying!
The Biggest Losers of 2016: The rest of the world – Again, for reasons that have been made obvious.  Like it or not, we, the whole world, have to put up with Trump and his neo-conservative alt-right supremacists and their propaganda machines and their rubber-stamping hacks in Congress for at least the next two years if not longer. 
And you thought it was bad when Bush Junior had free reign after 2004!
The Sorest and Sorriest Losers of 2016: The Democratic Party and The Supporters Of Hillary Rodham Clinton – I’m hesitant to include Hillary herself in this, but clearly her supporters are just as much at fault as the Trumpets.  You backed the wrong horse, and now the world has to pay the price for it.  And I know, for some of you, that wasn’t your fault.  Hillary’s friends rigged the DNC side of the game so she’d win the nomination.
You assumed that this was just a matter of which horrible choice was not as horrible.  You assumed that millions of people would automatically pick Hillary over the orange-skinned-wacky-man.  You assumed that millions of people were Hillary Clinton’s to own as political slaves.  You are all pompous asses and you damn well know it, and now that you are shown to be asses, you are bitter and vindictive at everyone except the real asses who made the mistake... and that’s you.
Trump did not win because some voters voted for third party candidates.  Trump won because he spoke to the people that you assumed were your political property and he told those people what they wanted to hear.  They needed to hear that they were being screwed over and that someone would fix it.  Your girl wasn’t going to fix it.
Remember Bill Clinton’s war room slogan from twenty-four years ago?  “It’s the economy, stupid!”  Well the economy is more than just Goldman-Sachs and Bank of America and Wells Fargo and the Dow Jones Industrial Average.  It’s the family that has to pay hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket because some greedy pharma exec jacked the price of life-saving medicine five-thousand percent and the equally-greedy insurance company that they are now forced by law to fork even more money to that wasn’t going to pay for that medicine.  It’s the single mother that has to work two or three jobs to make ends meet while your girl is being paid big speeches to Too-Big-To-Fail and telling them to have a public and a private policy. 
It’s still the economy, only your girl was telling people to “stay the course” that Obama set forth (which she had a not-so-minor hand in)... and *that* was really stupid.
The “Too Soon And Too Late” Award: Cuban Strongman Fidel Castro – Fidel Castro is finally dead, and his death could not come soon enough for the countless Cuban exiles that are here in the United States.
But, of course, none of them will even want to go home.  Why should they?  Fidel’s brother Raul is still running the country.  Besides, it’s much better here than over there, right?
The “Too Late” part for me is the fact that he died before I could formally rip his death in a standalone column in a timely manner.  Some subjects do have an expiration date, and this is especially true when it comes to deaths.
The “Too Soon” part, though, is the fact that he died before the Cuban people finally realized what they were missing out on.  I said back in May of this year that Cuba needed this thawing of relations with the United States, just like the Soviet Union needed “Glasnost” in the 80’s to see just how their leaders and their “ultimate society” failed them.  Fidel Castro died without being told that his “revolution” was a failure, because revolutions only work when they are fighting against the system, not running it.
By the way, it needs to be said that there is a social media meme that has Castro allegedly saying that he would not die until America is destroyed.... then there’s a picture of Trump, and then Castro’s obituary.  Sorry, but that meme could’ve worked even if Hillary won.  Besides, Trump didn’t destroy America. We did that.
The Goddamned F-N Ostrich Award for 2016: The Democratic Party – This is a political party that needs to die, and die right now.  Never mind about shuffling the deck chairs in the DNC Titanic.  This is the party that gave the American people Hillary Rodham Clinton and then forced their members to blindly support her even though doing so made a good portion of them into goddamned hypocrites and then actually wonder why they lost!
You know, if Hillary won, then the party players and bosses could breathe a sigh of relief over the scam they pulled on us.  But they didn’t win.  They got Trumped by Trump.  And not only did they get Trumped out of the White House, they lost seats in Congress, when, by all of their so-called “experts”, they were supposed to retake at least one of the two legislative houses.  So they lost the White House, they were denied control of the Congress, and now, because they did not fight hard enough before the election to fill the vacated Supreme Court seat, they will lose any concept of a majority in the judiciary as well.
This is a tremendous colossal *failure* for the Democratic Party.
No, I am not kidding.  And the failed leader of the loser party didn’t wait to unleash her “grand plan” to get back into the majority... and that was to wait until the GOP inevitably screws up so badly that people will opt for the Dems again in two years.  And if that sounds like a repeat, it is.  It’s the exact same tactic she’s been using over and over again.  Just wait.  Let the country suffer some more and eventually they’ll vote the jackasses back in.
People, listen to me now... the Democratic Party has not just failed, it has failed America! 
It doesn’t need to be reformed; it needs to be replaced.
Let the so-called “Party of Jefferson” end with Barack Obama as their last president.  That’s the closest they will get to ending on a high note.  Let the 21st Century be watched over by a new political party, one that hasn’t given up on the American people and hasn’t sold itself out to the corporate interests.  End the Democratic Party before it ends what is left of America.
Of course, it probably won’t because... you know... “politics”.
The Biggest Disappointment For 2016: “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” – I actually explain why they got this award in my review of the movie on the brand-new Hero Corner website.  I strongly urge you all to check it out.
The really short version is that director Zach Snyder turned a follow-up to “Man of Steel” from a Superman movie to a Batman movie and turned Superman, the greatest hero in our modern age, into a villain.  We expected so much from Snyder, and he basically ruined it for us.
And, yeah, the premature spoil from the reviewers in Rotten Tomatoes didn’t help matters.  I’ll get to them in a minute.
The Second Biggest Disappointment For 2016: “Captain America: Civil War” – Or, as it should’ve been known, “The Avengers: Civil War”, because basically this was an Avengers movie, not one centered on Captain America.
This needs to be a Heroes Corner review, and I’ll probably get to it at some point, along with all of the other Mouse-owned Marvel movies, but the gist of it is this: You take a very good multi-part mega-story like “Civil War”, which pretty much involved every Marvel character that wasn’t connected to the X-Men, and you reduce it to a handful of characters minus two of their most powerful ones, and you have them fight each other... and you throw in a 2nd-rebooted Spider-Man just for the sake of fan-gasm.  Now do you see why this is a let-down?
Oh, and Tony Stark is a whiny little bitch along with Donald Trump.  Needed to be said.  Moving on...
The Disgusted Bastards Award For Entertainment In 2016: Rotten Tomatoes Reviewers – You know, I can understand why people would have issues with BvS, but it seemed like the overpaid overhyped reviewers had a general hate for DC Entertainment movies.  First BvS, then “Suicide Squad”.  I mean, what the hell, guys?  I get why people wanted the website shut down, but, that’s really not the solution. 
The problem, of course, is that the overhyped reviewers that are responsible for all the DC-hate are not the ordinary people who like going to these kinds of movies and post the occasional reviews (in other words, they’re not like me).  These are the overpaid “professional” reviewers for newspapers and media services.  These are the people who get paid to go to the movies and to review the movies, even if they are movies they would rather not see.  They didn’t want to go see “Batman v Superman” or “Suicide Squad”.  They would rather see stupid comedies and chick-flicks.
There’s a YouTube personality called the Comicstorian that really has the best solution to this problem, and that is to basically stop reading reviews of movies before they come out.  Just ignore the reviews completely.  Rotten Tomatoes?  Screw em!  Stop visiting the site and stop linking their links to social media and they’ll learn their lesson.
The Term That Needs To Die A Violent And Painful Death In 2016: “Post-Truth” – The media loves to say we are now in a “post-truth” world.  And what is “post-truth”, you ask?  “Post-Truth” is supposedly when people rely not on facts or reason but instead on emotions and beliefs.
You know, this is far from being a new concept.  We’ve had this for countless centuries.
We call that being in a cult.
So stop giving it a new name to try to “normalize” it.  Call it for what it is. 
We are all mired in a political death-cult.
The STFU Award For 2016: The Miriam-Webster People – Apparently the dictionary editors are afraid that the term “fascism” will become the most-searched word for the year, so they want us all to stop looking for it.
The hell?!?
Listen, you should stop telling people what words to not look up!  Enjoy the fact that people are using your website and that it’s being used to look a word that they need to understand more!  I would rather have every single person with an Internet connection look up the word “fascism” on the Miriam-Webster website than to have them be told lies from those “fake news” sources.
The “Eureka” Award For Finally Effen Getting It In 2016: (Tie) DC Comics and CWTV – A few years ago, The CW network gave fans of Superman the biggest “F-YOU” with their failure of a “Smallville” finale.  A few years ago, DC Comics hit the reboot button hard with their “New 52” garbage.
This year, they both fixed things.
First, DC Comics successfully erased the big mistakes of the “New 52” with “Rebirth”.  What the fans liked, what the fans wanted, the fans got.  Superman and his wife Lois.  The red-haired Wally West.  The original Titans.  It wasn’t a full-on “reboot”, but it fixed things that needed fixing.
Then the CW saved “Supergirl” from the CBS ax and brought it over to their network as part of their almost-week-long schedule of DC Superhero shows, joining “The Flash”, “Arrow”, and “Legends of Tomorrow”.  Not only that, but they re-introduced us to Superman (and thankfully *not* played by anti-Superman Tom Welling) and they found a way to have all four shows take part in a four-part crossover, so Supergirl was able to interact with all the other heroes in the DC television universe.  Sadly, it’s not a perfect fix.  They still need to integrate the “Supergirl” universe with the rest of the other shows (they missed the perfect opportunity with their own “Flashpoint” event) but it still beats what CBS wanted to do to the series.
And finally...
The “Ministry of Truth Award” For Reckless Behavior In Social Media: Fake News – “Fake News” is nothing new, but how it is being spread is.  I’ve said it before that we are caught up in a political death-cult, and cults are founded on myths and lies and they absolutely cannot handle truth and facts and reason, especially when those truths and facts and reasons contradict what they already believe is gospel.
Enter the filter-free (or “filter-less”) social media.
It’s one thing to say that 9/11 was an “inside job” or that the dark-skinned President of the United States was supposedly born in another country or that said dark-skinned chief executive was somehow going after our guns and will be throwing us all into secret FEMA camps.  It’s another thing to run a fake news story that leads to real violence and real acts of terrorism.
A day before this article was posted, a man showed up at the Comet Ping-Pong restaurant in the District of Columbia with guns-in-hand, looking to “rescue the children” that were supposedly being held in a basement of said restaurant as sex slaves.  Only there was no basement in this building. Nor were there ever any sex slaves, never mind children, being held there.  The whole thing was a lie, concocted by supporters for President-Elect Donald Trump trying to come up with something, anything to discredit Hillary Clinton. 
Worse yet, this was not the only incident to befall the restaurant.  Just last month, two women were trying to tear up the patio of the restaurant trying to find supposed “secret tunnels”.  The restaurant managers and staff and even the owners of neighboring businesses have been targeted by people who bought into these fabrications and have had their lives threatened over lies spread by social media.
It’s very likely that this business will be forced to shut down at some point simply because of the lies concocted by faceless entities and spread through social media by equally faceless supporters of Donald Trump.  The digital mob is threatening real lives and real livelihoods.
What makes this sickening is that when tracked down by real journalists from real news services, some of these “fake news” creators actually say that they do what they do thinking that at some point people will know they are telling lies.
No, they don’t know, you morons!  Because you’re playing into the egotistical minds of people that have been caught up into a political death-cult!  You can tell a cult member anything, no matter how crazy it may sound, and they will buy it wholeheartedly if it already fits into their prejudicial minds!  Remember Heaven’s Gate?  Remember Jonestown?  Remember the Branch Davidians?  This is the same goddamned mindset played out on a larger scale and spread like herpes through social media.
Let’s get brutally honest here... the people behind the whole “Pizzagate” fake news story need to be hunted down and identified and be held personally responsible for everything that happens to the real restaurant and the real people and real businesses in that area.  Splash their faces all over the evening news.  Post their home addresses all over websites.  And let them see what is really happening. 
And if the President-Elect and the Vice-President-Elect have any sense of morals or conscience (I suspect they don’t but let’s presume for the sake of argument that they do) they should be the first ones out in front of this, telling their cult members to knock off this crap immediately.  And they need to be the ones to do this because they are the only people these cult members will listen to.
I am a commentator, and I’ve been one here for twenty years now, and it sickens me to know that now I have to give disclaimers telling people that I’m not a “news service” and that what I provide is commentary, not news.  It sickens me to know that there are really stupid people whose self-righteous egos will never allow them to comprehend the truth, who will buy outright lies by faceless entities that think this is all just a game.  It sickens me to know that we will end 2016 with the realization that George Orwell’s cautionary tales are becoming prophecy.
This is not “greatness”, people.  This is not making America “great” again.  This is making America, and all that it stands for, dead. 
And this is what you voted for in 2016.  I hope you’re proud of it.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Week of 11/28/2016

A Cautionary Tale of Future Greed
Once upon a hypothetical time in a land of future greed…
There was a man stuck in a tower with a perplexing problem.
His name was Gordon Gek, and he owns and runs the corporation known as Gek Company, or GekCo for short.
“Gordon” was not the name he was given when he was born.  In this land of future greed, you had to pay for a name instead of the biological identification number that you were automatically issued at birth.  His parents saved their money to afford him a name, because otherwise he would not be allowed to manage a business, and he would spend his life being just another nameless servile consumer.
“Gek” was not a family name either, but the name given to him when he was able to start a business.  It wasn’t by choice either.  It was the first business name that was available to him at the time.  And he pays an annual royalty fee to keep it.
For many fiscal quarters, Gordon Gek was a manager to be respected.  The corporate jingles would sing the praises of his name and that of the mighty GekCo for all the profit he would make for them.  The GekCo logo would appear in the corner of every product it touched, which would mean GekCo would get a piece of the profit that company made from that product.
For many fiscal quarters, corporate giants would call on Gordon Gek to help them be more profitable, and Gordon would pull through.  He would always find some way, some new avenue, some new venture that hasn’t been tapped yet.
But now Gordon feels like he is the victim of his own creative mind.
He wandered about his virtual office area.  Nobody really “goes” to work in this land of future greed... the commuting fees are just too high for those that can afford names instead of numbers.  They all meet in virtual offices inside their own residences.  Only the nameless servile consumers physically take themselves to and from work, and they willingly pay the fees and service charges to do it.  Gordon knows that his “team” of contracted employees are busy doing all the mundane tasks involved in running GekCo, and they pay for the privilege of working for GekCo as they would with any other business in this land of future greed.  It’s simply deducted from their pay, along with all of the other fees for the “privilege” of working.
The view from his “windows” are fake.  They show clear skies and beautiful weather.  He would have to pay a service fee to see the hazy sun over the thick clouds of smog from the factories below.  Besides, it’s cheaper to subscribe to the false images pumped in of a world not damaged in the name of future greed.
But he knows that below his tower of solitude, which he pays a hefty fee for the “privilege” of living there, there are the countless nameless servile consumers, milling about, doing their mundane tasks and living their mundane lives and fulfilling their essential roles as consumers; channeling what little they get back into the system so that named people like him can continue to make the all-important profit numbers.
And that brings us back to Gordon’s problem.  Gordon is paid by his corporate clientele to come up with all the ways to get as much as possible from the countless nameless servile consumers, and for many fiscal quarters he’s done just that.  He’s found fees atop of fees and service charges for pretty much every function and purpose and activity in life.
Being born is a cost, so is being clothed, going to school, getting a specialization, having the “privilege” of working, engaging in any kind of pastime or hobby, of being in a relationship, of having children, of raising children, and, of course, for having the audacity to die. 
When the nameless buy even essential groceries, there is an entrance fee, a shopping fee, a cashier service charge, a packaging fee, and even an export fee to leave the store with the food.  Preparing that food to eat requires a cooking license.  Consuming it requires a medical waiver and a fee to process that waiver.  Disposal, both physical and biological, require subscriptions and service charges as well.
Watching mindless entertainment and information is not free either.  The media screens cost money.  A license must be granted.  A subscription is required for each broadcast, and for every two minutes of media there must be four minutes of advertisements, each with a service fee for the privilege of viewing it.  And to turn off the screens to try to avoid those service fees incur the steepest fee of them all.
All of these fees, of course, are perfectly legal.  The question of whether or not any of it is “right” was settled long ago by those with the money and the power.  So it was not a question of whether or not Gordon could come up with all of these fees and service charges and subscriptions and licenses.
Gordon’s problem was that he ran out of new ways to assess them.
There were still rules in this land of future greed as to how fees and service charges can be assessed.  Each fee had to be unique.  They could not simply put a fee on top of an earlier fee.  Each fee had to be traced back to the company that created it so they could get their percentage of the money.  It was how companies like GekCo could make their money and stay in business.  Even the registration of fees and service charges and licenses and subscriptions required an administrative fee to pay for that “privilege”.  It was simply how things were.  And he should know, because that was one of his first inventions.
And now it appeared that there were no more ways to assess those unique fees.  Every human function, every human interaction, every possible human activity and human need and human desire were now properly and officially fined, taxed, licensed, subscribed to, and administrated.
The only thing left for Gordon to come up with was some way to justify breaking that one rule, to find a way to put a fee atop of another fee.  Failing that, of course, he could close his business, sever the contracts of his at-will staff, and file for bankruptcy.  After all, a business was only as good as the profit they make each fiscal quarter, and Gordon could not get new revenue without finding ways to assess a fee that seemingly could not exist.  It would also mean another company could take over for GekCo, but they would be in the same situation as him... finding another way to assess a fee where no more can exist.
He steadied himself as he prepared to make the call that he did not want to make.  He was hyperventilating.  Failure was not in his career schedule!
He closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths.
And then he took a few more deep breaths.
And then he realized what he was doing.
He was breathing air!
His body was taking in the clean, filtered, processed air, converting it, and expelling the toxic air in his lungs with every exhale.  A normal biological function, one that can be regulated and controlled within reason.  And even though there is already a service charge for air filtration in the residences and workplaces and stores, it only covered half the service.  The air filtration systems would process the air no matter who was in the area, and no matter how “clean” it would be.
But every human exhale was an expulsion of carbon dioxide, a toxic gas for humans.  That meant that breathing itself was more than just a life function; it was expending waste.  And that meant that the air filtration would have to work extra to deal with every human that was present expelling this toxic gas.
And that could be assessed a new service fee!
Gordon gleefully activated his terminal and asked his staff to join him for an impromptu meeting.  They had a new way for their corporate clients to assess a service charge on the nameless numbered servile consumers.  Another new way to squeeze yet another drop of corporate lifeblood from the public.  Another way to survive yet another fiscal quarter.
Because let’s get brutally honest here... as long as there are business people that consider the public to be nothing more than monetary resources to plunder and pilfer, there really is no limit to the number of ways that they will do just that.  And we don’t have to wait for some hypothetical time of future greed to see if that could happen.  All we really have to do is to open up a newspaper, or even our monthly bills to see Gordon’s predecessors setting the stage for that hypothetical time to be real.