The Best a Multi-National Corporation Can Get…

(…for their advertising dollar)

I’m beginning to think some of you people don’t understand how advertising works.
 
Gillette created a two minute commercial that suggested perhaps men shouldn’t be dicks. Some people love it, applauding the effort of men encouraging men to be better. But others are bent by it, seeing it as insulting, condescending or even emasculating, part of some kind of continuing “war on men”.
 
Both views completely miss the point of this ad. This purpose of this ad wasn’t to help men be better men. It wasn’t about addressing toxic masculinity. It wasn’t made to “raise awareness”, or “open a dialog”. Some of those things may happen as a result, but they are side effects.
 
The only purpose of an ad like this is to get as many people talking about Gillette as possible, while spending as little money as possible to do it. That’s it. Nothing more. If you sell an cheap commodity product, one that is virtually indistinguishable from your competitor’s product, the only thing that matters is brand recognition. You want people equating your name with your product. Exclusively if possible. That’s what this ad was designed to do, get as many people as possible to mention Gillette by name. Brand recognition.
 
That has always been Gillette’s strategy. And if you don’t think it works. Try this: name two other brands of razor blades. Are you sure about that second one? Okay, name a third.
 
And it worked brilliantly. I’m guessing many of you have heard something about the controversy, but haven’t seen the ad. And I’m guessing those of you who have seen the ad are like me, and only watched to see what the fuss was all about. But the beauty of it is, it doesn’t matter if you’ve seen it or not, or if you even know what it’s about or not, the end result is you’re talking about it, and mentioning Gillette by name while doing so. Mission accomplished.
 
And by the way, they spent zero money airing this ad. To date is they have bought no air time for it on TV, or as a paid ad on websites. It was uploaded to YouTube. That’s it. They parked it on YouTube and let the “influencers” have at it. And they did. And now literally everyone on social media is talking about it. And it cost Gillette next to nothing to produce and literally nothing to air. Like I said, mission accomplished.
 
Of course, using controversy to generate publicity is nothing new, but doing it with a controversy that’s widely viewed as positive rather than negative, that’s something of a holy grail in advertising. And from that standpoint, Gillette nailed it as well.
 
They generated a huge amount of free publicity, for very little money, and got to look like the good guys while doing it. Folks, this is the stuff of advertising legend. Somewhere the ghost of Don Draper just popped a boner so hard it cracked open his coffin.

The Days of HallowThanksMas

We are now in the holiday season, a time of year when multiple holidays have become so prevalent they begin to merge together into one big two month long holiday.  Some people respond to this by insisting everyone say “Merry Christmas” to them and taking great offense when this doesn’t happen.  These people call this time of year “The War on Christmas”.  If it were a little more like an actual war, with guns and bombs and tanks and such, it might be kinda cool, but as it is, the name does not live up to the hype.

I take a slightly different approach. Over the past few years I and others have been referring to this time of year as “HallowThanksMas”, as a way of indicating the merging of three of the larger holidays of the season. But, even this is insufficient, as there are far more than just three holidays. Let’s take a holiday moment and look at them all…

July 5th

Not a holiday, per se, but it is rapidly becoming the new beginning of the HallowThanksMas season. This is the day Walmart first puts out their Christmas decorations.

Halloween

October 31st, the official beginning of HallowThanksMas. This is the night our children get dressed up in costumes and go door to door begging for candy. It celebrates the twin values of childhood obesity and panhandling.

All Saints Day

The day after Halloween. No one celebrates this day. Except maybe Catholics.  Maybe. Once upon a time.

Dia de los Muertos

Also the day after Halloween. This is still mostly celebrated by those of Latin American descent, but the anglos are starting to take notice. I predict Dia de los Muertos will quickly become the new Cinco de Mayo, what with anglos becoming increasingly disillusioned with Cindo de Mayo once they learn it is not, in fact, Mexican Indpendence Day, but instead celebrates a small but significant defeat of the French. After all, if we celebrated every time the French lost, we’d be celebrating all year long.

Blackout Wednesday / Drinksgiving

The day before Thanksgiving. This day has replaced New Year’s Eve as the night non-alcoholics get blackout drunk and do stupid things. Fun fact: This holiday was once sponsored by Four Loco.

Thanksgiving

The last Thursday of November. After the previous night of over-drinking, we celebrate a day devoted to over-eating. The traditions include preparing gigantic poultry-based meals while hungover, watching Detroit lose a football game, arguing about cranberry sauce, throwing shade at relatives, both present and absent, slipping into a life threatening food coma, and preparing one’s Black Friday battle strategy for the following day. Some traditionalists even include a giving of thanks, but this has become increasingly optional and downright passe.

Black Friday

The Friday after Thanksgiving is the first of four annual shopping holidays. If there was ever a holiday that resembled a “war on” anything it is Black Friday. This is the day, immediately following the day we gave thanks for the wonderful bounty that is our life of plenty, when we go out and beat perfect strangers to death for a flat screen TV. This is both the largest shopping day of the year, and the day with the most small appliance related rectal injuries of the year.

Local Saturday

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, and the second of the shopping holidays. Local Saturday is an attempt to encourage shoppers to shop local. It does not work, as most people who actually would shop local are instead spending their day visiting friends and relatives in the hospital due to their Black Friday related rectal injuries. This holiday will soon pass the way of All Saints Day, nothing more than an interesting relic of a kinder time.

Cyber Monday

The Monday after Thanksgiving, the third of the shopping holidays, this one devoted to online shopping. This holiday was born of necessity, back in the dark ages when people only had Internet access at work. While this is no longer true, the holiday continues as a fun productivity-killing tradition. Why go shopping from the comfort of your home when you can do it on the clock instead. By the way, tradition says you are not allowed to participate in Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so choose wisely.

Christmas Eve

December 24th, the night before Christmas, and the final of the annual shopping holidays. While the previous three were devoted to online shopping, local shopping, and full combat shopping, Christmas Eve is the day for panic shopping. Christmas Eve is the reason, and the only reason, that drug stores sell perfume and clock radios. It is also a time for gathering, drinking a little too much, and letting the kids open just one present, so they will finally shut the hell up about it and stop harshing your eggnog and wine induced buzz.

Christmas

December 25th, the big one. This is the day everyone has been telling you that you must mention by name when wishing others well on any of the previous holidays.  It is the only holiday allowed to use the word “Merry”, all others must make do with less jovial “Happy”.  It is the day we celebrate keeping our consumer driven economy afloat for just one more year by giving toys to kids, and worthless do-dads to everyone else. There is also a religious element to the day, as about five or six deities all claim this as their birthday, so… Happy Birthday Santa!

Boxing Day

December 26th. That weird day Canadians celebrate that no one else understands.

Hanukkah / Chanuka

Sometime in December, nobody really knows for sure. Also, nobody really knows how it is spelled, which is kinda nice, because any guess at it is pretty much valid. From what I understand, Hanukkah is the Jewish version of Christmas, only without a baby Jew in a barn. Also the presents are spread out over eight days because of this eight candle candelabra thing. The presents are a little different as well, consisting mostly of chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil. I will admit, for some reason the chocolate does taste better when shaped like a coin.

Ramadan

Sometime in November or December or January, again nobody really knows for sure, but at least we can agree on the spelling. Ramadan is like the Muslim version of Christmas, only without anything even remotely like Christmas, and instead you can’t eat or drink during the daylight hours.  They were smart putting this holiday in the winter months.

New Years Eve

December 31st, the last day of the year. This used to be the night everyone got drunk, but that is no longer fashionable, especially since the advent of Blackout Wednesday. So instead we face the end of another year, facing an uncertain future and our own impending mortality with all of the fear and regret as before, but now without the alcohol. I recommend skipping this one.

New Years Day

January 1st, the first day of the year. This used to be the day we watched the college football championship, but for reasons no one understands that no longer happens until a few days later. Activities include: eating black-eyed peas, for some reason, and pledging to join a gym, because dammit this is the year. Personally I recommend drinking the booze you skipped the previous night, and listening to the Black-Eyed Peas.

Epiphany

January 6th. Another one just for the Catholics. I think it’s like a Catholic Boxing Day. In some areas it is celebrated by having young boys dive into really cold water to retrieve something. For the rest of us, it means it is the last acceptable day to drag that Christmas Tree out to the curb.

Kwanzaa

I don’t know, I wanna say January sometime, or maybe March?  No one takes Kwanzaa seriously because it’s so new, but I say that’s not fair. All holidays were new at some time right?  Plus we’ve adopted other new holidays, like Blackout Wednesday. Yeah, honestly I don’t know anything about Kwanzaa, but I am all for adding a new holiday, even if people will insist on saying “Merry Christmas” to it.

Midnite Martini Movie: 2001: A Space Oddessey (Part 1)

Some nights, when insomnia strikes, I mix a martini and put on a movie.  Tonight’s movie, the 1968 Stanley Kubrick classic:  2001.  This still stands as the science fiction movie against which all others are judged.  Let’s join in…


So I’m watching the season finale of “Into the Badlands” and there’s a scene that reminds me of the monolith from “2001: A Space Odyssey”, and so now I’m watching 2001 because, well… how do you not watch 2001?

(And Kat Wiggins, I am timing the monkey scene because I don’t know how long it is but I know it is less than 12 days.)

[0:04:48]  And the monkey scene (aka “the dawn of man” sequence) is exactly 15 minutes and 2 seconds long. Not 12 days. 15 minutes. …. (and 2 seconds)

[0:23:33]  Okay, so now we’re into the space station docking sequence, and this movie, now 50 years old, fifty fucking years old, is still the single most accurate depiction of future space travel ever committed to film.

… and the choice of a waltz as the musical accompaniment for the docking sequence was inspired brilliance — If I haven’t mentioned before. Kubrick was a fucking genius!

OMG this movie was SO FAR ahead of its time

[0:50:55]  Ianto the cat has joined me for the moon monolith uncovering sequence. he gets it.

[0:54:45]  Now we’re on Discovery, the Jupiter mission. My God this movie was amazing. Alonso the cat has joined us, but he’s not watching. And Ianto has lost interest in the movie and is now more interested in attacking my thumb. Oh well…

[1:02:16]  “I enjoy working with people” … you just know the HAL 9000 is lying. People don’t enjoy working with people. There’s no way a hyper-intelligent machine enjoys working with people.

Side note: I’m just a little freaked out that my tablet’s keyboard predictive text worked out “hyper-intelligent” so quickly.

BTW, astronauts Bowman and Poole are watching a video interview on a nicer tablet than I’m using to post this.

Think about that, Kubrick predicted tablets, in 19-freaking-68 !

[1:03:38]  Can a computer have emotions? This movie is brilliant. BTW at 1:03:38 there is a flyover sequence of the Discovery One that is the direct predecessor of the Imperial cruiser flyover in the opening scene of Star Wars. Nevermind Kubrick, Douglas Trumbull (the FX guy) is a fucking genius!

[1:03:54]  So Frank Poole’s parent call him while he’s in deep space approaching Jupiter. Subject? Payroll issues. Seems Frank’s higher pay rate for serving on Discovery One hadn’t kicked in yet. How freaking realistic is that?

[1:24:26]  Note to Elon Musk, Richard Branson, et al… When you create AI, don’t give it the ability to lip read….

HAL was fucking Siri before Siri was Siri. (Non Apple people – substitute Alexa / “Hey Google” for Siri…)

FYI, Android predictive text will not accept “Siri” under any circumstances… LOL

All this talk about the HAL 9000 and possible errors, and now Alexa is getting visibly agitated…

The HAL 9000 is rattling on about how there’s never been an error in the 9000 series, and meanwhile Alexa is giving me the nine day weather forecast…

… and yeah, that’s where I fell asleep, just before HAL goes off the rails. I’ll watch the rest later tonight (assuming Alexa doesn’t get to me first)


(to be continued…)

 

 

A closer look at the Hundred Acre Wood

I don’t much feel like dealing with the real world today, what with all that’s going on, it’s just too much to deal with, so… Let’s take a break. Let’s talk a bit about Winnie the Pooh instead.

I’ve recently taken a new look at these characters, and I have some things to say. (I know, surprise, right.)

First the titular bear himself, Winnie. I think it’s time someone mention the elephant in the room here. Winnie has a serious substance abuse problem. His honey problem is classic addict behavior. It’s all he thinks about, it’s all he talks about, it’s all he does. His entire day is spent either searching for honey, eating honey, or depressed that he is out of honey. Pooh is an addict.

And it’s beginning to affect his health. It’s no secret he is somewhere north of his ideal weight. It got so bad recently that he got stuck in Rabbit’s hole. (He was breaking and entering in search of, guess what, more honey.) While stuck in the hole, with his friends desperately trying to unstick him, all he can think about is how he can possibly get more honey. WHILE HE IS STUCK THERE. This bear has a serious monkey on his back. A honey monkey, and it’s not going away. It’s time for an intervention.

Which brings us to Rabbit. Don’t look for any help there, Rabbit is not just an enabler, he’s practically his dealer. Sure, he makes a show of trying to hide his honey from Pooh, but it never works out. Pooh always finds the honey. Now Rabbit can handle his honey, no problem there, but as Pooh’s friend he’s not doing the bear any favors by continuing to supply him. Nine times out of ten, when Winnie is off on a honey bender, it’s Rabbit’s honey he is bending on.

Speaking of enablers, Piglet’s no help either. At least he’s not supplying him, but the most he ever does is an extremely timid, “Oh gee, I don’t think we ought to do that…” half baked protest, which the bear completely ignores, and Piglet goes on to continue helping Pooh with whatever misguided scheme he’s cooked up to score more honey. Piglet’s fear of losing his friend is completely overshadowing his responsibility to that friend. He will go along with literally anything, just to appease him. Co-dependent much, Piglet?

Then there’s Eeyore, the clinically depressed donkey. That’s some classic textbook depression going on there. It’s time to remove his belt and shoelaces. He is “this far” from becoming just another statistic, but do his friends help him? No, they’re far too self-absorbed to care about old Eeyore. Oh sure, they throw him a party. Once. But is that what he really needs? No. He doesn’t need a party. He doesn’t need to “just cheer up”. He needs help, professional help. HE NEEDS THERAPY. And maybe new friends. But definitely therapy. And by the way, that whole live version of “pin the tail on the donkey” game they play with him. That just seems cruel.

On the subject of professionals, let’s turn to Owl, the intellectual elitist of the group. You would think he could help, right? No. Typical elitist, obsessed with all the wrong things, completely detached from the lives of common people around him, he offers nothing but absurd useless ideas that, while they might sound good on paper, to other elitists, in the real world they just fall flat. They don’t work. They don’t help. Go back to school you egghead, you’re not helping anyone. And take that self-important, condescending attitude with you.

Speaking of needing help, consider Kanga and Roo. Kanga, a single mother, struggling to get by, and Roo, her attention-deficit, hyperactive-disorder handful of a child. Kanga is a delightful woman, and she does the best she can. They’re getting by. Barely. But they could sure use some help now and then. But with this lot, does anyone even offer to babysit? No. But who could blame them, that Roo, he’s a nice kid, but he is a handful. Kid definitely needs medication.

Speaking of irresponsible. What’s up with Tigger. Bouncing around from place to place, unemployed, no prospects, no visible means of support. Yeah, sure, he lives “in the moment”, but you’ve got to give some thought to you’re future, don’t you? Come on, my tigga, you just gonna bounce around your whole life, mooching off others? That’s no way to live. Get a job!

It all makes me wonder… Christopher Robin, just how bad is your life that this, this collection of characters, is where you go to escape? I mean, yeah they’re nice and all, but… these guys are messed up. Eh, nevermind. Maybe it’s time I got back to the real world now. This Hundred Acre Hood is just too much to deal with.

Introducing: A New Service for Modern America

Has this happened to you?

Minding your own business, waiting in Starbucks for your friend to arrive, and they call the police to come and arrest you?

Playing basketball, in the gym, where you’re a member in good standing, and the management asks you to leave, then calls the cops?

Playing golf with your girlfriends, and the golf course calls the cops because you’re playing too slowly?

A restaurant manager asks you to leave, because he doesn’t like you, and wants to give your table to someone else?

You check out of your AirBnB, and the neighbor lady sees you packing your car and calls the cops?

You’re touring a university, and someone’s mom gets nervous and calls the cops, all because you seem too quiet?

Believe it or not, all of these things really happened, and they all have one thing in common.  That one thing?  The persons they happened too were not white.  Ah, that explains it, you say.  These things would never happen to white folks.

You’re right, and that fact is exactly why I am proud to announce my new service:  Rent-A-White-Guy™.

If you’re a person of color, Rent-A-White-Guy™, for a nominal fee, will provide you with a white guy to accompany you on your next outing, event, or excursion.  Why risk a hassle with the police or unfriendly locals, when it can all be avoided with a simple “Don’t worry, they’re with me” from one of our friendly respectable white guys.

Our white guys are all sensitivity trained and culturally certified, and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to suit your needs.  Rent by the hour or by the day.  Volume discounts are available.  Call today for a free quote.

And remember:  A White Guy:  Don’t leave home without him.

 

About Alzheimer’s Disease

The thing about Alzheimer’s is not that it kills you. It doesn’t kill you, not right away. Most people with Alzheimer’s will die of some other condition, no doubt made deadly by the progression of Alzheimer’s, but not Alzheimer’s itself. Of course if nothing else gets you, Alzheimer’s will eventually do you in, but… that’s not the thing. If all it did was kill you, that would be a kindness.

Instead, Alzheimer’s will slowly and steadily steal your memories, steal your knowledge and your skills, your relationships, your personality, your mind, your very soul. It doesn’t kill you. No, it destroys you. It erases you. Piece. By. Piece.

At first it takes the recent memories, then the not so recent memories, then older memories, then older still. People, places, events, all gone. The happy moments, the sad moments, all of it, one at a time. Gone. At the end, if you survive, all that is left is maybe a few distant memories from early childhood.

At first it will cause a little confusion, maybe you don’t know where your keys are, or your glasses. Then you can’t remember if you ate, or if you’re hungry. Then you can’t remember the words to put together your thoughts. Then you can’t remember your thoughts.

At first it you forget the names and faces of your doctors, and your nurses. Then your children. Then your spouse. Then your brothers and sisters. Your family, the only ones would could offer you help or comfort, are gone now, replaced by these strangers who seem nice enough, and they seem to know you, but that means nothing, you don’t know them. Everyone you’ve ever known or loved is stripped away from you, one by one, like they never existed. Everyone. You are left to face your fear and confusion alone. Alone. Totally, utterly alone.

Think about that for a second. In a room, surrounded by friends and family, who love you like no other, you are totally and utterly alone. You must now face your end alone, lost in a sea of strangers.

I’ve lost friends and family to cancer, but you know what? Fuck cancer. At least it has the decency to just kill you. Maybe slowly, maybe fast, but it kills you. It doesn’t dismantle your mind, take apart your very being bit by bit, while it patiently waits for you to die. Cancer is a cute fluffy kitten compared to Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s is pure fucking evil. It is cruel and heartless. It is relentless, and without mercy. It is insidious. It will likely take someone you know. And it will tear them apart, in tiny little pieces, until there is nothing left. It. Must. Be. Stopped.



Post Script:  Dorothy Wiggins was on of over 82,000 people in the US killed by Alzheimer’s in 2008.  Today Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the US, killing nearly 100,000 Americans every year.  Advances have been made, but there still is no cure, and existing treatments only slow the progressing of the disease.  It will still kill you.  Follow this link if you would like to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association

Post Post Script:  Thank you, Seth Rogen, for testifying before Congress, and for using your celebrity to raise awareness.

A Modest Proposal…

Lately two topics have been popping up in my social media experience, school shootings and trophy hunting, and it has occurred to me that the latter may offer an interesting solution to the former.

The trend lately in trophy hunting has been to justify it by donating the meat of the animal to the local population, people generally too poor to ever afford a lion meatloaf or giraffe porterhouse on their own.  We as a society are generally tolerant of hunting when it provides food, and there’s no reason not to extend this to the beautiful, majestic, and endangered animals that would also happen to look good mounted on a wall or converted into a rug.

So I ask, why not do the same with school shootings.  As long as we continue using high-powered, high-capacity rifles, we will have no shortage of bodies, and it seems a shame, what with so many hungry people, to let all that meat go to waste.  Besides, with the sedentary level of activity of most school kids, the meat would certainly moist and tender, I’m imagining something akin to veal, though possibly sweeter given their intake of high fructose corn syrup.

So, just like trophy hunting, if we can’t stop the shootings, we can at least feed some hungry people from it.  Just some food for thought…

Once Upon a Time…

Gather around, boys and girls, let me tell you a story about what life was like back in the “Before Time”.

The year was 1990.  The Internet wasn’t a thing yet, but CompuServe was, and Sears had just launched Prodigy.  (Yes, Sears. Believe it or not, Sears was the Amazon of their day.)  We were only two years removed from Reagan, Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump were still on their second wives, the Berlin Wall had just fallen, and grunge didn’t exist yet.  In short, it was a great time to be alive.

Back in those days, yours truly lived in a wonderful land called Texas, and Texas was in the midst of electing itself a new governor.  See if this sounds familiar:  The Republicans nominated an colorful, brash, outspoken, businessman, one with zero experience in government, while the Democrats nominated, wait for it, *gasp*, a woman, one who had made her career in politics.

Texas, then as now, was solidly a red state, and Texans do love their colorful brash outspoken businessman types (see Perot, H. Ross), so conventional wisdom was that the Republican nominee, Clayton Williams, was a sure thing, a done deal.  Never mind for a second that the Democratic candidate, Ann Richards, might be more qualified for office.

Then one day the tides turned.  Our boy Clayton made a joke about rape.  And that joke, somewhat mild by today’s standards, changed the trajectory of the entire campaign.

Now, let me stop right here a moment , and be clear about a few things.

At no time was Clayton Williams ever accused of any sexual misconduct.  There is no indication he ever grabbed anyone by their… anything.  There were no accusers from his past. No women came forward with complaints.  No shopping malls banned him from their Sears.  And, as far as we know, no actresses, comediennes , or potted plants were masturbated in front of.

What he did do was this:  Inclement weather was delaying a campaign event, and Williams compared it to rape, saying “if it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.”

I should also point out, nothing he said suggested that he advocated or condoned sexual assault in any way.  Nothing he said implied that one could get away with sexual assault if one was famous or took someone furniture shopping.

Further, there was no question that it was a joke.  Although in bad taste, everyone knew it was as a joke.  Everyone sort of knew he was a bully and an idiot, and perhaps he didn’t take rape as seriously as he should, but no one, then or now, has referred to him as a sexual predator.

Yet overnight, what had been a huge lead in the polls dwindled away.  His supporters turned away from him in droves.  In the end Ann Richards was elected the first women governor of Texas.  (With an asterisk, there was another before her, but that is a whole other story.)

Why?

Well, boys and girls, back in those days the people of Texas, including the Republicans of Texas, decided that character matters.  They were unwilling to sacrifice their principles or their values just for the sake of party loyalty.  They were unwilling to overlook a serious character flaw just to keep the other side from power. Principles mattered. Values mattered. I know it’s hard to understand today, but it was a different time back then.

And thus a Democrat, a woman, became the governor of the reddest of the red states.  And guess what?  Texas survived.  Texas remained Texas.  There were no riots in the streets, no gun confiscations, no rampant waves of abortions, no sharia law, and the whole state didn’t turn gay overnight.  None of the fear-mongering we know today came to pass.  Texas remained steadfastly Texas.

What did happen was, the people of Texas came together and rejected someone they found to be unfit of character, and instead elected someone they might not agree with, but at least someone they could respect.

**sigh**

That all seems like such a very very long time ago now.

 

The Opposition

The Republican Party is imploding.  Ana Navarro, one of my favorite Republicans, tweeted the other day, concerning the exodus of conservative Senators Bob Flake and Jeff Corker…

Will last sane Republican left, pls take Reagan’s portrait & turn-off the lights?

CNN recently published Say goodbye to your Republican Party, an opinion piece by Kurt Bardella, also about this exodus, and specifically Steve Bannon’s role in it, summarizing…

And now the Republican Party as we knew it is gone. It is a thing of the past. There is no going back. The silence of the majority has eroded the moral fabric of the Republican Party.

And just to bring the point home for me, a very dear friend of mine had this to say, and I literally could not agree more…

I understand political compromise to get the closest one can get to a representative of one’s wishes, but I’m not willing to compromise on basic integrity, honesty, truth, and decency.

The Republican Party, if not imploding, is definitely changing. And not for the better.

I had hoped that one of the bright points of the current presidency might be a reckoning within the GOP.  That when forced to take sides, enough of them would chose what was right over what was expedient.  A few have, but many have not.

I’m losing hope that the few remaining Republicans with principles have any hope of retaking control of their party. From the recent resignations, it appears they are too.

I also hoped this might lead to a party split, and/or the formation of a new conservative party, one for REAL conservatives. But I fear that’s not happening either.

It seems the people who call themselves “conservatives” (quotes intentional) are perfectly fine with a party and leadership devoid of integrity, honesty, truth, and decency. They seem perfectly happy with the abandonment of facts, knowledge, rationality, expertise, and science. They are quite comfortable with dismantling any and all aspects of the First Amendment, just so long as you don’t do anything even tangentially related to the Second Amendment.

None of this I can abide.

And that’s not even starting in on the “nationalism” dog whistling that targets anyone who isn’t a straight white Christian male citizen. And while not all “conservatives” are giddily embracing this new bigotry, many are.  But more importantly, the ones not welcoming this are remaining silent, or willfully ignorant, of its existence.  For me, this silent complicity is just as bad as active participation.

This I cannot abide either.

I’m at the point where I’m ready to do the unthinkable, and join the opposition, even if only as a temporary, “enemy of my enemy” sort of thing. Truth is, I already have, I just haven’t announced it publicly yet. I wasn’t quite sure how I would explain it. Well… I guess I just did.

Therefore…

As long as men like Donald Trump are in power, as long as men like Steve Bannon shape policy, as long as men like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan stand by and do nothing, and as long as true conservatives no longer feel welcome in the “conservative” party, I will do anything and everything I can to support the opposition.

So I did.  I joined the opposition.

When I renewed my driver’s license a few weeks ago, under the section for updating my voter registration, for the first time ever, I checked the box next to the Florida Democratic Party.

I hope this is temporary.  I very much would like to go back to my previous “No Party Affiliation”.  Or even join a viable third party that might rise from the ashes of the current GOP.  But for now, anyway, I am a Democrat.

God that feels weird.

But the world became a much weirder place on June 16, 2015, and even more so on November 8, 2016. And it hasn’t gotten any less weirder yet.

Because here’s the thing.  Sometimes you can’t stay in the middle, sometimes you have to pick a side.  Sometimes you have to stand up and be counted.  Sometimes the not making a choice is making a choice.  Like RUSH said…

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that’s clear
I will choose free will.

Okay, so that doesn’t fit the situation exactly, but you get the idea.

You Can’t Trust the Media

You’ve heard this before, probably a lot lately.  Fake News!

Trump supporters have a whole toolkit full of excuses for their president’s behavior, from “he speaks his mind” to “he’s still new to the job”, but one of the popular excuses I’m hearing lately is a little troubling, and it goes something like this…

Oh, that’s just the media, you can’t trust them, you can’t believe anything they say.

Okay, let’s stop and look at this for just a moment, I promise this will be brief.

Is the media a profit-based enterprise driven by an agenda that has nothing to do with the truth?  Yes.

Does the media use sensationalism, hype, and exaggeration to attract viewers/readers/eyeballs?  Yes.

Does the media frequently present things in a way that makes whatever it is look worse than it really is?  Yes.

A big fat outstanding “YES” to all of the above, and more.  But…

There is one thing the media uses, a tool of the trade, if you will, that they cannot alter for their own benefit, even though they may try.

Facts.

Facts have a lives of their own, outside of the media, they can be corroborated and verified independent of the entities reporting them.  A fact is either true or it isn’t (which is to say it is not a fact), and because we have the entire sum of human knowledge available at our fingertips, this can usually be determined quickly and easily.  Hell most of them are on videotape.

It doesn’t matter what spin a reporting organization puts on it, it doesn’t matter how far left or right they lean, at the core of what they are reporting are facts.  Or made up bullshit.  And guess what, it doesn’t take long to figure out which organizations deal in facts (no matter how honestly or dishonestly), and which organizations have no interest in actual facts, choosing instead to make up their own “alternatives”, for readers/viewers who also have no interest in actual facts.

So, no matter what the story is, look past the sensationalism, look past the bias, look past the hyperbole, look past all the other media circus nonsense, and pull out those little nuggets of facts buried there at the bottom.  Use multiple sources, covering the entire spectrum, from left to right, and eventually you will see that, although the spin may be diametrically opposed, those core facts are still there, unchanged.  Living a life of their own.

The part you cannot trust is the analysis of those facts.  You can’t trust the spin.  You can’t trust the sensationalism.  You can’t trust the editorializing.   But… facts is facts.  You can trust facts.  The one thing legitimate media does reasonably well is vet their facts.  Partly because it’s far too easy to disprove false facts these days, partly because they suffer a huge loss in reputation when they get the facts wrong.

So…  You can’t trust what the media says about President Trump?  Damn right you can’t.  But that’s not the end of the story.  Know this… What the facts say about President Trump – that’s reality.  And no amount of tinfoil lining in that red baseball cap will change the facts.