Kevin Spacey – We get what we deserve

Kevin Spacey, paraphrasing Edward R Murrow, said we get what we deserve.  I think that is a great point of his, but it brings up a problem.  You can’t operate a business at a loss and expect to stay in business, it just isn’t feasible.  Money has to come from somewhere, and you can be certain that you don’t want the government or corporate and political interests paying your bills for you.  The news in the United States is owned by a hand full of very powerful individuals, who long ago made the decision that entertainment is news/news should be entertainment.  I think this is just as bad as the government owning all the all the news, as neither has a vested interest in being impartial or keeping to the facts.  In either case, the tail will wag the dog.

Alternatively, we now live in a world of, I hesitate to call them citizen journalists, but citizen somethings…  You don’t need a studio or a massive paper press warehouse with distribution facilities to report the news.  As much as I hate to hold them up as an example, one only needs to look to TMZ to see how modern journalists can operate using a network of informants and reporters.  Sure it’s celebrity gossip, but they’re very successful and have broken many stories- a testament to their methods and effectiveness, without the need for traditional print or media involvement.  What’s more, they’ve managed to obtain a reputation for trustworthiness.  Ironically, the same can not be said of most modern independent news sites, or news blogs, really.  They have gone the entertainment route, or ventured off into extreme partisanship- the talk radio of the Internet.  If Al Franken, Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh all got together and had a love child, you’d have something akin to Alex Jones.  It isn’t natural, but people actually turn to him as a source or reliable news.  Dear god, it makes you long for the early days of Matt Drudge, who at least had a good muckraker’s moniker, if not his ethics.  The point is, I believe the time and opportunity is ripe for a few Internet based news organizations to come to the fore as modern news outlets.  Funding will still be an issue, but overhead will certainly be less.

To the future

I’m reading through a book that a dear friend sent me. It has an absolutely fantastic line in it. “…This space, however convenient it had been for his recent past, was much too small to hold his future.”

I look around and see the same thing with me.  It isn’t that I have not learned how to be content in my surroundings, or that I am greedy for more stuff, it is just that I look at the future and regard the wondrous, the fantastic, the beauty of it all…and I am smitten.

Political Prognostications

No, I do not refer to them as my PP.  That would be juvenile, which is just funny as hell, and therefore not a serious form of humor.

Bernie – He’s struggling to bring in the win in the south like I thought he would.  He’s not losing by much, however, which is better than I expected.  I think Bernie, irrespective of his socialist leanings, has greater appeal, but Hilary is far better at the political game.  Bernie will win hearts and minds but Hilary knows the right people in the room.

Donald Trump – He’s doing better than I hoped, better than I thought, and still a threat.  The GOP is falling fast and it is rapidly coming down to just a couple of candidates.  I could use that shark I mentioned.

The SS

No, not Ze Germans.  I mean Selective Service.  I’ve been inundated with radio commercials lately talking about required registration for SS, SSS as they’re calling it now.  I find it rather telling that they use the stick rather than the carrot.  “Don’t break the law.”  “You won’t qualify for college grants or scholarships.” “You’ll never be allowed into government service.” “You’re required to register.”  I think their marketing department could use a bit of Donald Trump.  “Make America great again!”

When I turned 18, I went down to the post office and registered.  Just a little 5×8 card, I think it was.  1 minute later and I was done.  I don’t remember exactly how I knew I needed to register, it may have been a conversation my American History or Government teachers, or perhaps my dad.  Only later did I find out that student loans/grants were tied into the system- I just knew it as The Draft.  I didn’t like that requirement back then, I like it even less now.  As volunteer professional armies go, the  US fields a pretty decent one.  As warmongering congressmen go, we’ve field some excellent ones for a few generations.  I don’t like the intersection.

What if the Congressional Budget were handled more like the Thunderdrome?

I was taking a brief look at President Obama’s proposed budget.  I haven’t dived into the details yet, I was more interested in the big numbers.  You know- How much do you want?  How much do we have?  If you subtract A from B is the remainder a negative number?  Those are the fundamentals of any budget, everything else is only a consideration before or afterwards.  I use those three basic questions as sort of an if/then statement to determine my next line of questioning.

You see, my view of Congress and their treatment of the Nation’s money is something like this.
https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwj7udH7lfvKAhUK8WMKHVBWDrUQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mikerindersblog.org%2Fsome-church-fundraising-accounting%2F&bvm=bv.114195076,d.cGc&psig=AFQjCNERYA_AyqpdAFXcFvk9E1e9gm-RoA&ust=1455673790189607

Some of us might look at them a bit suspiciously when they step up to us like that, with their hands out and their eyes imploring, as Oliver Twist begging for scraps… While Fagin prepares to rob us blind. It is a wonderful pageantry in which members of two branches of government all get to show off for the crowd.  Outrage, disdain, tears and more are on display as they wrangle their way through the budget.  Truly I say, daytime television does not rise to the levels of drama that the annual budget battle does… And yet, there is that smile at the end.  The self-satisfied smile of a very well fed crocodile.  And almost all of them will be wearing it.

Which leads me back to my if/then statement.  If the remainder is not a negative number then I move on to the meat of the budget.  What does it do?  Who does it provide for?  What will we accomplish with this?

But if it is negative?  Well then, if it is negative, then there is really only one question.  Are you willing to die for this budget?  Two line items enter, only one leaves.  That’s the Budget Thunderdome way.

https://oracleoffilm.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/mad-max-beyond-thunderdome.jpg

You see, our country needs to have a balanced budget, one in which we do not increase our debt.  Both sides of Congress love to tout that they have “decreased the deficit in this year’s spending”, as if that is a very positive thing, worthy of great praise and an ever increasing paycheck.  It isn’t.  If I were to come to you as your emergency doctor and tell you, “Congratulations, we have managed to repair the leak in your body!  You’re now only bleeding from two major arteries!”  Of course, I’d be smiling and happy and looking so very self-congratulatory.  You, naturally, would be dead a moment later, but at least I managed to give you another 15 seconds…Would you be happy with my performance?

So sanction for a battle royale is necessary, often referred to as a Balanced Budget Amendment.  In my proposed Amendment, however, our Congress & Executive Critters would have a bit more skin in the game- a chance to fight for what they believe in, if you will.  It’s true that early in the life of the Amendment, the new process might favor some of them younger types.  Youth has its advantages, but as attitudes change and strategies are brought to bear, I believe experience will begin to win out a bit more often.  Admittedly, I have a tough time visualizing Ted Kennedy or Strom Thurmond succeeding much inside the dome, but sometimes you have to break a few eggs and all that.  The end result of this, of course, is a balanced budget  in which those who are willing to fight for their concessions, will get them- at the sacrifice of those who do not, or cannot.  It’s brutal.  It is not fair.  It’s like nap time in Kindergarten- hated and reviled, but ultimately necessary and effective.

Now, I’d like put twenty on Rand Paul vs Chuck Schumer – I think he’ll mix it up on the inside.

Ah, Iowa.

Interesting night.  Trump lost, which I expected.  He reacted pretty much like I expected, too.  I think he’s probably jumped the shark at this point, but we will see.

Bernie put in a much stronger showing than I anticipated.  I was not paying close attention, but from what I recall, polls had him down a significant margin going into Iowa.  Clearly that was not the case.  This is a good thing, I think.  Bernie would not be the worst thing that could happen during this election cycle, I’m pretty definite that the worst would be Trump.  Unlike his competition, though, Bernie is long on ideas but short on details.  His ideas could be very disruptive to certain aspects of the American economy, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  Single payer health care and free college could have tremendous benefits, but those are very entrenched entities that enjoy a lot of Federal money.  And the university system especially, won’t like the idea that they can no longer hold their students hostage to unforgivable debt for a significant portion of their lives.  As I said, disruptive, but somebody has to pay the bill and taxing the wealthy should never be the only answer.  Give me concrete details.

I don’t think Hilary anticipated feeling the Bern quite like she did.  I do not like Hilary, but I do not think she is incompetent.  She’s intelligent, fiercely competitive and politically dangerous.  On the world stage I believe she would more than capable, but she would not be liked like her husband was.  Bill was a shark wearing a smile and a clown nose, Hillary doesn’t bother with the nose.  That lack of affable charm may hurt her chances more than I anticipated.  At this point I still think she will take the nomination.

Rand Paul has dropped out.  I didn’t think he would do as poorly as he did, to be honest.  I was pretty hard on him.  As somebody who tried to position himself as a reformer, an alternative to a GOP that had lost their way, I found him too much the politician.  I do not believe that you can preach reform while operating on politics as usual.  Perhaps if he had gone Bernie’s route and tried to be more disruptive in his campaign he might have found a purchase, possibly even upsetting Trump.  Now we will not have the chance to find out.  I could see him being tapped for a possible Vice Presidency, though.  Him or Paul Ryan…

Play that funky music white boy- Kareem on Trump

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote a nice essay on Trump, which I think illustrates both his popularity and the frustration many feel right now.  I think it’s a much better expression of what I wrote the other day.

For all of that, my biggest takeaway wasn’t something profound, just humorous.  He calls Trump the Manilli Vanilli of politics.  That made me smile.