Monday, April 24, 2017

Week of 04/24/2017

Bill-O And Other Bozos
There’s a lot to cover this past week, so let’s get right to it...
Bye-Bye Bill-O!  The news that has been a long time coming has finally arrived.
Bill O’Reilly, aka Bill O’Fraud, aka Bill-O The Clown, aka Bill-O The Diva, has finally been terminated from Fox News, aka FoxSpin, aka FoxHype, aka FoxHysteria, aka the GOP “Ministry of Truth”.
The fact that FoxSpin has finally pulled the plug on Bill-O caught me by surprise, because FoxSpin normally backs up their talent, especially Bill-O, who was the first egomaniac they hired for their network twenty-one years ago.  (By the way, for the record, my column still pre-dates Fox News by six months.)  They would normally endure any boycott for their talent, knowing that sponsors are temperamental and hypersensitive but they eventually come back after a while.
Remember the hysteria over Glenn Beck?  They kept him going, didn’t they?  Boycotts didn’t matter.  Public outrage over his antics didn’t matter.  Fox News kept paying his salary and kept him on the air.  It wasn’t until he stopped bringing in the ratings that they finally let him go.  All the boycotts in the world didn’t shut him up; it was his own ego that did him in.
And the same applies here.  Bill O’Reily has nobody to blame for his downfall but himself and his own goddamned ego.
Now I know that the cons and neo-cons are whining like the spoiled babies that they are over this and they’re saying “it’s about money.  It was just about money.”  And that’s to be expected from a group of entitled sociopaths that have no morals and no ethics and no standards.  They really don’t know about right and wrong except when they are the ones dictating it to others.  The only things that they comprehend are money, power, and control. 
And that is precisely why Bill O’Fraud was allowed to be in the position that he was in for twenty-one years.  He amassed power over the mindless myrmidons that watched him every weeknight through a cable channel owned by a billionaire with money to burn, and that gave the GOP a level of control that hasn’t been seen since Walter Winchell.  As long as he brought those mindless myrmidons in, they didn’t care what he did off-camera.
Of course, it didn’t hurt to have someone like Roger Ailes as his boss either.  It’s easy to tolerate predatory behavior when your boss is leading the way.
So, yeah, getting rid of Ailes also meant that Bill-O had nobody to back him up.  And Rupert Murdoch’s kids apparently didn’t like the negative attention FoxSpin was getting over the new rash of sexual harassment allegations after they purged Ailes.  Was it about money?  Probably not.  It was probably because they were sick and tired of hearing brand-new allegations of the same old story involving the same person.
But don’t think for a moment that somehow things will be better because Bill-O is not there.  FoxSpin will continue to serve as the Orwellian “Ministry of Truth” for Trump.  They still have plenty of soothsayers and propagandists to turn to.
And don’t worry about Bill-O either.  I’m sure that he’ll find new avenues to keep his mindless myrmidons strung on his political opium, because they don’t think he really did anything wrong.  And that’s really the scary part that people should take notice.  It’s not just about one abusive and predatory person; it is about a groupthink that believes that this is perfectly normal for someone like him.
The Root Cause.  With all of the talk about Bill-O and FoxSpin, you’ll notice that the talk will not touch on the root cause of the problem of sexual harassment.  The salacious elements of the subject always take center stage, and people begin to look at who is being harassed and why they are being harassed and whether or not it’s legitimate, but no matter how it turns out, the root cause of sexual harassment will always go ignored.
I’m talking about the unchecked ego.
It doesn’t matter who it is, if it’s Bill O’Reilly or Roger Ailes or the small business owner in your town, that’s the one common element with all of them when it comes to sexual harassment.  It’s about the perpetrator having an unchecked ego.  It’s about a sense of entitlement that comes with being put in positions of power with no accountability and then using that power to leverage it over others.  Because the truth of sexual harassment is that it is not about sex at all.  It’s about power and control.  And when you are in an environment where you can do no wrong, and you are allowed to do whatever it is you think you need in order to meet your goals, then the only thing that stops a person in that position from preying on others is their ego.
But, of course, that doesn’t get touched on, because people in power are supposed to already have the wisdom of Solomon automatically instilled in them, like it just came with the position.
Barista Bitch, Please! So Starbucks had a brand-new special limited available “Unicorn Frappuccino” this past week, and everyone had their personal say on whether or not it was good.  The self-appointed Food Nazis were quick to throw their tantrums over how much sugar is in these confections and warning people not to have any.
I’ll let you in on a little secret, Food Nazis… the more you people bitch about sugar and calories, the more that people like me want to find these things just so we can metaphorically shove it into your pompous faces, with the only regret being that we can’t do it literally to you.
But then some of the baristas started bitching about the popularity of the drink and how complex and complicated it is to make it.  One of them in particular, a snot-nosed barista named Braden, screamed at people through social media to not order any more of the drinks because that’s all that he’s been doing during his shift and that his fingers are sticky and he has blue dust in his hair.
Tell you what, Braden, I’m sure at this point that your bosses at Starbucks have already had a nice and long talk with you about affecting their business and that you made an ass out of yourself and Starbucks and your fellow baristas on the Internet.  Whether or not you still have a job with them is questionable.  But I promise you this: there are millions of Americans out there that have had to go without jobs for years.  I know because I used to be one of them.  And if you had to choose between having sticky fingers and blue sparkles in your hair every single day versus not having a steady paycheck for a few years, I’d bet even money that you’d pick the Unicorn Frappuccino every time.
Seriously, a barista complaining about how hard it is to create this supposed “magical drink” is like a stripper complaining that she has to take her clothes off when guys give her money.  It’s called doing your job.  That’s why you’re getting paid.
Real work is not easy.  I’ve worked fast food jobs when I was your age.  I’ve struggled working minimum wage.  I’ve done temp work.  I’ve had to sweat through manual labor in factory settings working six days a week sometimes in the middle of summer with the temperatures over 100-degrees and no air conditioning.  And that last part was recently.  If you still have your job after your meltdown, suck it up and be thankful not only that you’re doing that job but that it is the only part about it that sucks.  There are worse jobs out there.
Where Are The Meats, Arby’s? Speaking of limited availability, Arby’s have been doing a special “traditional Greek Gyro” sandwich which has lamb in it instead of their usual roast beef or turkey.  I’ve enjoyed their gyros and have always wondered what it would be like to have theirs done the right way.
Sadly, though, I still have not had that opportunity.  Because the Arby’s restaurants in my area all ran out of lamb.
And because some of us actually work for a living (are you listening, Braden?) I don’t have the time to go find a place that would still have the traditional lamb gyros.  Yes, I’ve complained to Arby’s and they gave the mealy-mouthed apology and promise to have it “back”, but they wouldn’t say when.
You let me down, Arby’s.  You didn’t have “the meats” like you promised!
Wiki-Whoops!  Poor Julian Assange!  Last year I was speculating whether or not the founder of WikiLeaks, aka Wiki-drip-drip-drip-drip, was aiming for a pardon for helping tip the 2016 Farce in Trump’s favor with all of those drip-drip-drip-drip leaks about the Democrats.  Well if Julian really was hoping for a break, he’s not going to get it.
It seems that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is getting ready to bring Julian in for those leaks.  Because, you know, now that Trump is in power, he has to treat things like this as his enemy.
Guess what, Julian?  You got Trumped!  Don’t worry, you’re not the first and you won’t be the last.  It just means you’re finally being recognized as part of the media.
Trump’s 100 Days Of “Winning” – Here’s a little tidbit to the orange-skinned-wacky-man in the White House: if you play brinksmanship with North Korea, you damned well better make sure that your ships are heading in the right direction!
For instance, if you’re telling the world that the USS Carl Vinson is heading to stare down North Korea’s shoreline, it had better be there and not on the way to Australia.  And it also does not help South Koreans any that you’re telling them that they used to be part of China, or that stopping the spoiled panda bear is “not easy”.  You remember South Korea, right?  Those are the people we’re trying to protect from the spoiled panda bear.  And now they have no trust in Trump or in the United States.
Funny, isn’t it, how everything seems to be “not easy” for Trump?  And just a year ago, everything is “so easy, so simple” for him.  Repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act would be “so easy”.  Fixing the tax code would be “so easy”.  Solving the problems of the world would be “so easy”.  It would be such a nonstop cavalcade of “wining” that we would be sick of it.  That’s what he promised.
Tired of “winning” yet, America?
This coming week marks the 100-day benchmark for the Cult of Trump.  All those things Trump promised would be done by that time... aren’t.  And now, of course, Trump is saying that it really doesn’t matter, that the 100 day benchmark is artificial.  That’s just typical narcissism.
Oh, here’s one more: this coming Friday, Day 99, is the end of the continuing budget resolution in Congress.  You know how the GOP-controlled Congress refused to pass a budget at all... ever... and has been doing everything in their power to not pass a budget at all... ever... for years?  Yeah, the latest continuing resolution ends at midnight this Friday.  If they can’t get either a budget or a new continuing resolution passed by then, then the federal government runs out of money and is in shutdown.
Now I know that a quick-and-dirty fix would be to just get another continuing resolution passed, but I want you to think about this for a moment... here we have the President of the United States who claims to have a winning record as a businessman, with corporate chairmen and chairwomen in his cabinet, with a GOP-ruled bi-cameral legislature, and with a supposed master budget architect as Speaker of the House as a bonus, and they still can’t get their act together to keep the federal government running?
Let’s get brutally honest here... that would not just be a “fail” on their part.  That would be a clear sign of incompetence!  And not just for Trump, but for the whole GOP as a national political party! 
These guys have done nothing for the past eight years but whine and wail and moan and bitch about how they never had the means to do what they wanted in terms of passing a budget.  Eight long and painful years of blatant partisan obstructionism. 
Well now the GOP have everything that they ever wanted, everything that they complained they did not have under the previous White House tenant.  They control the whole process.  The Democrats are dickless failures in Washington, so they really can’t be used as scapegoats, and, even if they had any power to screw with things, they can’t because the GOP have changed the rules or outright broke those rules to get everything that they wanted.  So they have no excuses whatsoever if they can’t get what they want done, especially when it comes to the budget!  That is supposed to be the specialty of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and if he can’t manage to pull it off, then he really has no business being there!
We’re on the verge of really seeing what kind of person we hired as President; whether we hired an exaggerated but credible administrator, or an over-glorified con artist.  I seriously hope that we have the former, because we’re going to have a really hard time in the next few years if all of this is just one big flash-and-fail straight out of CNBC’s “American Greed”.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Week of 04/17/2017

We Need To Change Before Big Airlines Decide To
Like many of you, I was disgusted by the violent video of a paying customer being beaten up and forcibly removed from his seat in a United Airlines jet.  I wasn’t surprised by the violence, though, because any time you bring a thug goon squad with badges on a plane, that will happen.
I also wasn’t surprised by what United Airlines did after the incident.  Their disgusting playbook of blaming the victim for their own orchestrated incident, for denying they “overbooked” the flight and then falsely claiming that it “keeps prices low”, and then, only when their stock sinks like a rock, they make the false promise of “this will never happen again”.
Yes, like many of you, I was pissed at hearing all of this.  And this was on top of the incident with the “leggings”, and before the latest news about a passenger being stung by a scorpion while on another United flight.  And it comes as airlines get rid of more and more so-called “luxuries” for certain passengers, including overhead storage and the number of carry-on items they can bring on the plane.
It’s pretty clear that the big corporate airlines suffer from a sociopathic streak of outright sadism in the name of profit.  To hear business apologists claim that the airlines “really do not make much in profits” is about as genuine as Bill Clinton’s claim that he “never had sexual relations with that woman”.  You cannot boast about record profits on one hand and then claim poverty in the next.  That is the kind of hypocrisy that start bar fights.
So... what to do about it?
Well boycotting United doesn’t work, because the airlines along with career government regulators and politicians have conspired to eliminate competition and create yet another corporate oligarchy.  In certain parts of the country, you have no choice which airline you use.  You’ll either fly United or you fly some subsidiary of United, and that’s it.  And it’s not like the other members of Big Airlines are any better!  They all conspire to keep us miserable so as to keep themselves rich.
Regulation?  In the age of the Cult of Trump?  Are you out of your mind?  Trump and his corporate minions have been very busy eliminating regulations that protect the ordinary human being from the for-profit sadism!  Besides, just like French nobility would tell the starving masses “let them eat cake”, Trump and his people would probably tell us to simply charter a private jet if we don’t like Big Airlines.  After all, that’s what *they* do, right?
So no matter how many hearings that Congress put on, we really should not count on them to come to the aid of the struggling human beings, and we sure as hell cannot count on Trump and his corporate minions to help ordinary human beings.  We simply do not matter to them, even when we put on those stupid red hats.
That leaves us with only one other option.
Stop flying.
No, I’m not talking about boycotting one airline or just “the worst” of the airlines.  I’m talking about all of them. 
Stop flying, period.
No more business flights.  No more flights for Spring Break.  No more flights to Disneyland.  No more flights to Hawaii.  No more flights to Europe or the Middle East.  No more flights to visit the relatives.  Take the bus.  Take the train.  Rent a car.  Charter a cruise line.  Teleconference.  Or just don’t go there at all.  Stop flying.
Yes, that is dramatic.  It is extreme.
But let’s get brutally honest here... that is the only way - the *only* way - that Big Airlines will really change their attitudes.
Big Airlines are allowed to be outright goddamned sadistic to their paying customers because they know that, no matter what they do, we the stupid fawning sheep will still cough up our money and put up with the sadism just so we can get to where we want to be.  They could force us to strip naked for “security” and have us standing, squeezed in like cattle during the whole flight, charge extra for breathing air, and be subject to removal for any reason or even for no reason, simply because they know that we are stupid enough to pay for the “convenience”.
Once enough of us collectively decide to stop flying, however, that all changes.  Then Big Airlines stop making record profits.  Then they stop making profits, period.  Then the pressure is put on them by their shareholders to do better to get us to start flying again.  That means bringing back the things that they originally took away from us like carry-on luggage and overhead bins.  That means stop treating passengers like sheep to be fleeced for their profit sweaters.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately that probably won’t happen, because that would require us, the stupid selfish masses, to make the sacrifices first.  And we don’t want to make the sacrifices, do we?  No, of course not!  We’re lazy!
Remember the high gas prices?  What would have really cured us from Big Oil’s unchecked greed?  For us to change our driving habits and to stop buying gas-chugging urban assault vehicles. 
Who told you this?  I did.  Repeatedly.  Did you listen to me?  Of course not!  Because we don’t want to change our habits and our routines.  We’re lazy!  We expect other people to make the sacrifices and to change their habits so we won’t have to.
And it’s the same way with the airlines.  We’ll put up with the hoops and hurdles that Big Airlines demand of us.  We’ll go through security checkpoints like prisoners.  We’ll show up hours in advance simply because they demand us to be.  You know, “for security”!  We’ll pay extra for that “second seat” because they consciously shrink seat widths to squeeze us in tighter.  We’ll give up having carry-on luggage and pay extra to have everything checked in as luggage, because, you know, profit.  And we’ll wait however long it takes as their prisoner and suffer any indignity possible like frogs in a slowly-boiling pot for the “privilege” of flying their airlines because... “it’s convenient”.  We’re lazy!  And they know us all too well!
Do you want that to change?  Do you *really* want that to change?  Then *you* – not Big Airlines – will have to make the sacrifice needed for them to change.  You have to consciously decide to stop flying before they will make the needed changes.  If you refuse to do your part, if you don’t have the strength to do it, if you are too goddammed lazy, then you have no right at all to complain when things do not change for the better simply because “you’re pissed”.  All that tells Big Airlines, along with the rest of Corporate America, is that you’re just not “pissed off” enough.