Category Archives: history

A word about why American politics are so f—-d up.

Warning: this post may be offensive to everyone on earth. Better to close it now and get it over with.
Since the inauguration of Donald Trump as President, protests and riots have swept across the nation.  The new President has signed executive order after executive order, and the country is more polarized than ever.  The more I look at things, the more I can see the origins of a lot of these issues and it comes down to a saying by the late pro football coach Vince Lombardi:

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

Somewhere along the way, both the left and the right decided that their way was the not only the right way, but the only way to run things.  Instead of being open to new ideas and practicing moderation, extremism took root, aided by the absolutism made fertile by talk radio hosts, many of whom have turned out to be, themselves, outright hypocrites.  Both left and right pointed the finger at each other, decrying the other’s way as “evil” and “corrupt,” tossing about buzzwords like “income redistribution,” “globalism,” “market freedom” and “indoctrination.”

In the end, both sides are guilty of fomenting national discord for the sake of their own ambitions and avarice.  Both extremes are akin to fans of opposing teams in the Super Bowl who use the exact same offensive and defensive strategies.  The only differences are the cities represented, team colors and the one massive variable:  personalities.

This year’s Super Bowl is a great example. New England’s Tom Brady is a person who draws absolute reactions.  You either love him or you hate him.  You either admire his guile for exploiting lax rules enforcement with “deflategate,” or he is a cheater.  For Atlanta, you either love Matt Ryan for his stoicness in games and his ability to heave the ball downfield with stunning accuracy, or you hate him for his occasional post game showboating and arrogance or the demands of owner Arthur Blank.  Long story short, team affiliation and cults of personalities determine the fan base.

America’s political landscape is much the same way anymore.  It’s no longer about “what’s right for America.”  Rather, many citizens have become so fed up with the demands of either side, their rhetoric, and the approach to life their supporters take, the “win at all costs” attitude has permeated American politics.  You either love Donald Trump and what he espouses, or you loved Hillary Clinton.  Anyone who isn’t on the side of an extreme allegiance is a gutless moderate, or an independent who is immediately picked apart for which side of the ideological aisle they most identify with, regardless of if their heart is good.

We are no longer a nation which compromises for the good of all; we are a country obsessed with winning and being “right,” even if being right means may the good of the nation be damned, so long as our side prevails.  We no longer see shades of gray, or the empty spaces in between the argument where facts get lost in the name of victory.  It is now black and white terms:  good and evil, order and chaos, life and death, left and right….and zero in between allowed.

Both sides are guilty on this one.  The far right has pushed gun rights, the far left gun restriction.  The far right pushes free market and free will as the answer to everything, while the far left pushes government as the solution.  Both sides point the finger at each other when something goes wrong.  A great idea is only a great idea of our side came up with it.  If one side comes up with a truly great idea, the other side will do everything they can to stop it, and vice versa.  Why?  Because it wasn’t their idea. They can’t take credit, so they want no part of it.

This is where our nation has been taken. Compromise is death.  Bipartisanship is evil.  The left will destroy the rights of all.  The right will destroy the rights of all.  They are both the same, but they are different.  The left wants people to be lifted up, but so does the right.  The only difference is the means it happens and who at the very top benefits.  It’s old money family rivalries on a global scale.  The same monster with two heads and the same master manipulating both heads, in this case the people are the brains inside the heads, to fight each other.

But why?

Did it not occur to anyone here that if a world leader with access to nuclear weapons gets into a pissing match with another world leader with nuclear weapons in this age of “pride before prudence,” things could end VERY VERY BADLY? This is not the old Cold War era where world leaders understood the concept of mutual assured destruction. In this era where all that matters is winning, regardless of the cost, MAD isn’t really so crazy anymore.  It’s considered “acceptable risk.”

That said, here’s something think about:  all the protests and guns on earth won’t mean shit if there’s nothing left to protest or no one to kill. Yes, people are angry at each other and there are powerful people making a ton of money off pitting us against each other, but do you really think any of them give a damn about YOU when the mushroom clouds start rising? They already planned for this years ago.  At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, anyone who thinks those in position of true power haven’t found some way to gain from a world atomic holocaust are sadly mistaken.  They get to rebuild the world, only the way they see fit.

We can stop all this madness, but we need to focus on what we see happening, not the rhetoric being said or the memes being posted. Focus on what’s real instead of what is imagined. We still have a judicial system and civilian control of our military. I know people are saying we need to strike “just in case.” What is that going to accomplish? To all of you wanting a civil war to settle it all, do you really think that dying for SOMEONE ELSE’S CHECKBOOK is more important than the ideals espoused in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence, because I guarantee you that most of your radio and television pundits and commentators, liberal or conservative, couldn’t remember the Bill of Rights, much less which state first ratified the constitution.  They CAN, however, remember their bank account number and safe combination, easily.

Those want to die, or are okay with friends and loved ones dying, to impose their worldview of America on everyone else, are EXACTLY the sort of danger George Washington spoke of in his farewell address. We need to take a long hard look in the mirror as a nation, stop worrying about who is offended by who said what and what injustice was committed by people long dead, and instead focus on the injustices being committed right now, against us by each other. We need to look at our current immigrants who may not have gotten here legally, but are law abiding otherwise and a great source of tax revenue.  We need to look at our homeless and see how much of it is true laziness and how much of it is actually mental illness which, once treated effectively, can unlock the minds of potential geniuses.  We need to feed our hungry children so they can feel compassion and grow into compassionate adult instead of bitter children in adult bodies vying for the power they never knew in youth.  We need to help our veterans who our leaders have come to view as similar to sanitary napkins; something to absorb political blood in photo ops and rituals, but disposed of once they’ve outlived their usefulness.  We need to address the reality that racial tensions exist not so much as the result of what happened over a century ago, but the mistrust formed between races because of old fears turned into old wives tales, which have in turn become cultural norms.
Finally we need to remember and accept that assimilation does not mean elimination.  A people can become law abiding productive citizens without being forced to abandon their cultures and customs.  Immigrants should have to learn our language, history and abide by our laws but should not be required to abandon their heritage and culture in their own homes.  

Yes, there will always be those who wish to harm us, but we should never do the work for them, and our current political climate is doing just that.  We are truly doing our enemies’ dirty work.  We can, we must, learn to listen to the better angels of our nature.  That is what a “more perfect union” is about, after all.

Reboots:  reasons they don’t always work

Reboots are the rage these days.  Whether it is movies, such as Ghostbusters or Star Trek, or fashion, like acid wash jeans, recycling pop culture has become part of everyday life.  Yet there is something which seems to be missing from the reboot equation.

Success.

Just like the 1950s music craze of the 80s, the latter is seeing a renaissance of popularity today.  Of course, this being merely a trend, it is highly unlikely to continue.  There are, of course, other reasons entertainment reboots don’t last or work:

Great idea, but some TEENSY problems with this reboot concept.
  • Poor planning.  This is the most fundamental reason many reboots don’t work.  A badly planned repackaging or reimagining of something can backfire badly.  In the case of The A-Team, marketing was abysmal, despite a star-studded cast.  Movie goers simply found other options and the overall premise, despite some great jokes, didn’t resonate with millenials.  The box office money just wasn’t there.
  • Betraying the original premise.  In the case of 21 Jump Street which actually managed a sequel, the movie was a comedy but didn’t betray the original premise – it was gritty in some ways but funny in others.  On the flip side, Taxi never truly came close to the original premise, being a hybrid action-comedy.  Though it was high quality, it suffered the mistake of betraying the premise.
  • Political correctness.  One of the huge gripes about the Ghostbusters reboot was it being a near all-female core cast.  The screams of PC saturation from mostly 1980s males, in a hyperpartisan election season, doomed what was actually a rather entertaining movie.  
  • Not acknowledging the original.  This is where many reboots in recent years failed in huge fashion.  The universal barometer is one you wouldn’t expect:  Transformers.  When Michael Bay was approached about the live action reimagining of the series, he had one major condition – Peter Cullen was Optimus Prime, period.  Bay understood that a reboot required an icon to live legitimacy.  J.J. Abrams did the same with the “classic Spock” cameo in Star Trek.
  • Dumb gimmicks.  One of the biggest bombs in reboot history was Inspector Gadget.  The reason was simple; one bad gimmick atop another.  Reboots succeed when the original premise is honored but modernized and gimmicks are minimized and advance the story.  In Gadget, the Gadgetmobile was a gimmick-laden annoying scene stealer.
  • Dumb reboot ideas.  It’s one thing to reboot a movie or TV show and take a risk, but rebooting toys and appliances are high risk.  Most classic toys are classic for a reason – they are modernized but stay true to their core idea, such as the Easybake Over or Transformers.  Other ideas, such as the Ford Bronco, need some fine tuning but can work.  Still some ideas, such as punk rock ripped jeans and snakeskin mini skirts, are best left to the midlife crisis spitpile.
  • Great franchise, wrong source.  This one is a bit nitpicking but the it revolves around the human need for habits.  Star Wars  by Disney is an example; despite a great job, the franchise was kept under the Lucasfilm label.  A recent concept of “Pixar” style animated classic Star Trek, despite incredible character modeling, wouldn’t work because, for one, Paramount wouldn’t back and likely sue for copyright infringement (see also Axanar), also most of the voices are now deceased.  Zack Quinto’s Spock deserves Chris Pine’s Kirk.  It’s just that simple.
  • They just suck.  Music tends to fall into this category.  When Sixpence rebooted Crowded House’s Don’t Dream It’s Over, that was rough. A few more bad reboots like that will make 80s kids revolt.  However once a great while a good cover of an 80s song will take place, like the country version of Huey Lewis’ Workin for a Livin, but those are rare.

Can you think of a “crash and burn reboot?”  I’m curious to see what my readers come up with. 

Two Georgia Counties Who Need a Jedi Mind Trick on Their Leaders

A NASA study recently revealed what much America has been unaware of for several years.  Namely, that quantum singularities can be reproduced, and nowhere is that particular situation more evident than the example provided by the governments of Walker and Sumter Counties, both governmental corporation products based right here in the beautiful state of Georgia.

We have covered the travails of the Walker County government in depth in 2015, but only recently have we learned that the entire county is now on the verge of being swallowed by a singularity created when the entire government collapsed in upon itself, folding time and space in such a fashion that, when Dr. Who reportedly arrived, he popped open the doors to his TARDIS (please don’t ask – I’m not a Dr. Who fan and I really don’t have the patience to explain it), popped his head out, went “yuck,” then subsequently disappeared.  Unfortunately, nobody in the government can be reached to verify this particular incident, though we suspect they all have taken oaths of silence, crawled under rocks, and are waiting for the voters to go home and watch the NFL playoffs.  As for the fiscal situation of the county, it can best be described in the following word:  frothy.  We will leave it at that.

Still, Walker County’s incompetence remains a threat to universal security as it appears to have bled over, via wormhole theory, into Sumter County, Georgia, home to former President Jimmy Carter.  Speaking of which, have you ever noticed how the news media always mention his hometown of “Plains,” and never mentions that Plains is actually a very, very tiny suburb of Americus, the county seat of Sumter County, which happens to be home of my soon-to-be (knocking on every piece of wood in sight) alma mater, Georgia Southwestern State University, as well a great hospital, a good pizza joint, a historic hotel, a Krystal and several thousand citizens and small-business owners who really do care about the community around them but, due to a tragic clerical error at the polls, were saddled with a government which could actually make the combined leadership of the national Republican Party look capable by comparison.  This may, unfortunately, be one instance where Donald Trump becoming head of a government is an improvement.

What makes this all the more astonishing is that Sumter County and, in particular, Americus was once a hotbed for accountable government and, more to the point, forward thinking.  Georgia Southwestern has one of the top Education and Nursing programs in Georgia and, at least as far as I’m concerned, remains an excellent university to attend for the money, and that’s without it having a football program, though it does have a fine tradition of students getting completely hammered at Intramural tailgate parties (don’t ask).  Americus, unfortunately, appears to be suffering from a bit of a leadership vacuum, and I have a crack team of quantum physicists checking to see if outgoing Walker County Commissioner Bebe Heiskell’s former minions are attempting to establish a neo-Sith-style empire in my college town.  Now, bearing that in mind, this wordsmith Jedi may have to break out his mental lightsaber and restore balance to that end of the Force, but that will likely require several thousand gallons of quality adult beverage product in order to power my Jedi mind tricks.  These things don’t exactly work on blind faith, you know.

aahs0w49
Yes, someone WENT there.  No, it was NOT me!

Still, I couldn’t go a week without a mention of the greatest threat to the Force in the history of Star Wars:  namely, Kylo Trump.  Hang on *reading draft copy.*  Never mind that, the copy should have read “Kylo Ren,” but apparently Donald decided to take a cue from Taylor Swift and copyright half of all Star Wars references which Disney hasn’t already gotten their hands on (yes, they do exist…check your local fortune cookie).  According to unconfirmed reports, Kylo Ren has taken up residence in a remote part of the galaxy, while General Leia is attempting to convince Mr. Trump to stop buying shares of Death Star, Inc., and short selling them on the Galactic Republic market.

This, of course, is rubbish, because we all know that Trump wouldn’t buy the stock, but the actual Death Star itself.  In this case, he wouldn’t its remaining parts, or a damned planet, but the whole freaking galaxy, shove the Walker County Quantum Singularity Device into the center of it, and reappear, Sith-like, in the middle of Americus, waving a Florida flag screaming “Bulldogs suck” because…well, he’s Trump and because he’s Trump, he knows he can…or maybe not, but definitely one of the two. Thank you, and may the Force be with you, he, she and it.

Hindsight – journalists, Ferguson, and what Americans should know about media

The events in Ferguson, Missouri have drawn attention to our nation’s long-festering racial wounds.  They also have fanned the flames of intolerance on both sides of the aisle, and exposed many for the sort of political attention hogs they really are.  One profession, however, managed to, yet again, besmirch its name, its honor, and the public trust it has been granted.  No, this is about the police.  While they botched their own response, it was actually those who consider themselves the watchdogs for the public. 

The news media, to quote the Big Bang Theory, managed to “screw up the screw up.”

Thanks to Ferguson, Americans distrust journalists as never before.  What’s more, the media managed to actually alienate themselves from not just whites, but also minorities with their behaviors.  At first, residents of Ferguson welcomed the notion of reporters and cameras in their city to document the perceived injustices.  Unfortunately, the media committed a fatal error, and it some outlets may have damaged their credibility beyond repair.

The media bought into its own hype and violated a fundamental tenet of journalism – they actually sought to make themselves the story.

To contrast, the murder of journalist James Foley was an abhorrent act of violence, but one which was covered in accordance with journalism standards.  That can’t be said of the instance of two journalists who were detained by Ferguson police officers.  These journalists chose, rather than focus on the story they were covering, to make the story about their own experiences. A great opportunity was presented to display daily life in the Ferguson jail, document the police officers’ points of view, or even interview those being detained.  Instead, the journalists botched their charge in favor of their ego, tweeting their own experiences.  Credibility would have been earned by tweeting inmate statements instead.  It smacked of the classic opportunistic writer whose only worry was advancing their career.

This segues to five things Americans should understand about journalism as a profession.

  1. Not all writers and journalists, and not all journalists are writers!  It takes a special personality type to be a true journalist, a true reporter, or a true news writer.  The desire to serve the public, rather than be served and adored, is essential for a journalist to excel.  Without that quality, a so-called journalist will eventually turn into an attention hog.
  2. No journalist is 100% objective! Sure, Fox News calls itself “Fair and Balanced,” but note that they don’t advertise themselves as “objective.”  MSNBC never even attempts to promote their network as “objective.”  That is fundamentally impossible.  As journalists are human, their own worldview often influences their writing, their coverage, and how they present the story to readers.  A journalist who grew up in poverty is far more likely to focus on the impoverished that a journalist who grew up in an affluent family.  A sports reporter who played quarterback in high school is more likely to consider baseball boring than a writer whose father coached Little League.  Background and personal experiences influence how journalists do their work.  It’s just that simple.
  3. Media honchos choose the most marketable face, not the best! Would it surprise anyone to know that Fox’s Gretchen Carlson was a former Miss America (1989)?  Would it really stun the world to learn that Anderson Cooper is a Vanderbilt family legacy?  Of course not – because the American media, like it or not, is a business and, as such, it must market itself.  How does it do that?  Look at the faces and voices of your media outlets.  Radio wants smooth and authoritative voices listeners can trust (Atlanta’s Scott Slade of WSB, Tampa Bay’s Jack Harris of WFLA, Vin Scully of the Los Angeles Dodgers).  If they read a script into a microphone, they get the job!  Notwithstanding the actual ability of the aforementioned three, most radio anchors have little to no field experience.  Ditto for news anchors and top field reporters.  While some anchors and hosts get their jobs through honest, hard work and dedication, the vast majority as identified by talent scouts – headhunters whose job is to present potential talent to focus groups for surveys.  Anyone who thinks that MSNBC, CNN and Fox aren’t using some sort of statistical sampling to decide who the stand-ins for Chris Matthews, Gretchen Carlson, and Anderson Cooper will be is smoking a cohiba loaded with enough good stuff to bring down Mr. Ed.  As great and talented as Walter Kronkite and Bob Hite, Sr. were, they represent broadcast journalism’s first generation, before marketers got involved.  Thanks to the latter, we get the Happy Face Barbie and Ken Doll Parade, instead of (mostly) capable reporters.
  4. Some of the most well-known journalists (one way or another) didn’t get a journalism degree! As stunning as it may be to consider, Walter Cronkite never graduated from college, but went on to an illustrious career as America’s most celebrated journalist.  Fox’s Bill O’Reilly’s Bachelors Degree is actually in History (though he did later receive a Masters in Journalism).  Barbara Walters, widely respected as one of America’s pre-eminent female journalists, received a Bachelors in English, while Katie Couric, largely regarded as the modern face of female American journalists, actually received a Bachelors in American Studies.   Oddly enough, these individuals have enjoyed much greater success in their respective media careers than those with Journalism Degrees.
  5. The decision makers of American media don’t give a hoot what you think! The reality is that American media heads are mostly of the opinion that they shape the public opinion to match their content and ideology, not the other way around.  William Randolph Hearst is widely attributed to saying “You provide the pictures, I’ll provide the war,” and that attitude has been carried by most News Directors, Editors, Publishers, and network executives.  The New York Times, News Corp, NBC/Comcast and CNN all work hard every day to shape opinions, rather than respond to the opinions of those who consume their product.  Americans, for the most part, are regarded as lemmings who follow what talking heads on both sides of the ideological aisle dictate, and the media plays to that for one reason – it makes the most money.

It’s an ugly truth to consider, but most journalists are looking for that big, cushy newspaper or network job when incidents such as Ferguson erupt, and that’s because the current generation of big-namers and execs got to where they are mostly by connections or gross self-promotion.  Good, solid, ethical journalists (who are mostly overlooked for one reason or another)  will focus on the story and report – the true foot soldiers who should be protected, but not given extra protection simply because they are the media.  Journalists know the risks of becoming part of the story, rather than simply stand on the sidelines and report the story.  It is the former which has truly put this noble profession at risk of becoming more than reviled – it is now in danger of becoming irrelevant, and that would spell the beginning of end of our great republic.

We as Americans deserve better, and those who style themselves as journalists should behave better. Our nation deserves people who will report the facts, display things as they actually happen, and avoid (to the degree able) injecting their own opinion into any story.  Leave the opining for the real attention hogs – commentators, bloggers (self-deprecating humor there), and politicians.

James Foley died with honor, even though those who killed him have none

syria-journalist

Journalist James Foley, this week, met his end as so many other journalists and chronicles have over the centuries; at the tip of a blade.  His death was that in the pursuit of a noble calling – telling the story of pain, suffering, corruption and abuse of power in a part of the world in which a power vacuum exists, and said vacuum is being filled by thugs, murderers, sociopaths and radicals all justifying their pathological blood lust through religion.

First, let’s get something straight – James Foley was murdered, not executed.

Execution implies some degree of legal standing – that the person who dies did, indeed, have some means, however limited, of legal recourse (even Soviet Russia had some methods of appeal, even if they were mostly for show).  ISIS, IS, ISIL, or whatever-the-hell this organization (using THAT word loosely) is this week, is a collection of individuals who have chosen to use brutality and violence as a means to draw attention to themselves.  Much like the narcissistic serial killer uses murder as a means to be paid attention to and remembered, ISIL is little more than a semi-organized group of mostly murderers.  It would not be inconceivable, upon further study, to learn that the vast majority of iSIL members are, indeed, sociopathic maniacs.  But now comes word that the group demanded $1.32 million from Foley’s family and that just adds insult to injury.

We need to face a simple fact about ISIL – they are not a state.  They are not even a legitimate political movement, and they barely qualify as an organization of any sort, let alone terrorist.  What they are, essentially, is a gang – their methods are sloppy, their tactics are grotesque, and their ideology is hollow.  Please, don’t lecture me about Islam being a violent religion; ISIL is not, repeat, not a religious group; they are a paramilitary movement (again, the latter two words used loosely at best) who are using the press and social media to advance their goal, which is the establishment of what they call an “Islamic Caliphate.”

Cut through the code and see them for what they really are – they want to rule the world, reshape it the way they think it should be (in this case, a world ruled under Islamic sharia law and likely by the most brutal and cunning among their own lot) and bring the world to a tipping point where Armageddon will occur and their view of how Islam should be practiced will win out.  ISIL take radical fundamentalist brutality to a brutal new level in that, if they are truly believing their religious tenets (and it is my firm belief that if there was nothing in it for them, they would collapse within seconds), are an example of how power, money and a warped, narcissistic sense of superiority all pervert the original message.  James Foley was trying to document this perversion and other injustices in this region, and he paid the price for his own personal crusade by being murdered.  In a sick sort of irony, how he died may have, in fact, marked the beginning of the end of this sort of twisted brutality.

Muslim voices around the world have been quick to condemn this murder, and hopefully it will galvanize the movement against radical Islam as never before.  Perhaps, for the first time ever, Muslims worldwide are actually seeing this sort of fanaticism for what it really is – an radical movement borne not of feelings of inadequacy and disenfranchisement, but of greed, avarice and a desire to oppress to satisfy deep-seated insecurities.  Whatever the reason, no one has the right to take the life of another except in self-defense. The murderer who severed Foley’s head may want to consider that their action is likely to be repaid upon them.  It is the rare killer who experiences mercy at karma’s hand.

In a previous entry, I wrote about how journalists must be regarded much the same as the Tribunes of ancient Rome; sacrosanct because they are the voice of not just the people, but of the truth.  Foley, as far as I am concerned, is deserving of a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom and Nobel Prize.

My hope is that James Foley, wherever he is, can forgive his killers.  This is a man who deserves to be remembered for the one thing he was chasing – his passion.  We should all die so honorably.

A petition has been created on the White House website to have President Obama award James Foley a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Please click here to sign it and get it to 100,000 by September 20, 2014.

A financial message to 20 somethings – please avoid my mistake

debt

Tonight I want to take a little time to share with you what I think is the single greatest threat to our economy, and how to prevent it.  That threat is debt burdens being carried by college students and 20-somethings.  The way to prevent it is simple – twentysomething need to become minimalists in a hurry.

When I was 20, I made the mistake of getting several credit cards.  I was foolish, young and feeling immortal.  Then I met a couple of women who would go on to break my heart.  Rather than focus on myself and my life, I wallowed in self pity and medicated by buying things, calling friends with my credit cards, and essential running up debts I couldn’t hope to repay. Add to that my stupidity with never paying off my student loans, letting the interest pile up on them, and running from everything, I have created an impossible situation for myself.  This is compounded by medical issues and a lack of a college degree, along with the fact I simply stopped caring enough to try to save myself from this quicksand.  

What I suggest to college students and 20 somethings in general is simple – learn to live without.  Don’t try to do anything you cannot afford.  There are few things in this world worth going into debt for anymore.  Education certainly isn’t one of them (sorry, high ed folks, but y’all are entirely overpriced!), nor is a flashy car, or impressing some lady or man you have a thing for.  Your friends should understand and, if they don’t, they don’t deserve the person you are.  The heart is what matters, not the wallet – contrary to what Social Darwinists, Junior Leaguers, and elitists would have you believe.

I will admit something painful to everyone – I am going to be 40 years old, and over $100,000 in debt with little hope of freeing myself of this bondage.  Much of this is student loans; completely unforgivable in bankruptcy court and an industry which the government is part and parcel in a cartel league with.  That said, I am not bitter, nor I wish to receive any help – my labors will be my salvation.  I have accepted my fate long ago; either I will be a wild success on my own and pay off my debts by my own sweat, blood or creativity, or I will die a penniless, broken man.  

But I digress.

My prayer is that my foolishness serves a testimonial to error, and provides the sort of warning flag young folks need to help revitalize our economy through debt avoidance and true economic independence.  All I ask is that whoever reads this sees my folly, understands what is at stake at that delicate age, and avoid my errors.  I have chosen to be a minimalist and, while I pray that my writing will be my financial salvation, I have chosen to be content with a life of difficult, painful labor – the karmic debt I must pay to atone for the sins of my past.

My life has become devoted to being a good husband, a good father, and trying to simply keep my family above water – the rest doesn’t matter because, honestly, no billionaire gives a flip about someone like me.  Even if someone offered me the means with which to pull out of this, I’m not sure I could accept it because it would feel like a handout, and not validation of my own abilities.  Yes, pride is an ugly, evil thing.

If even one person is influenced to not buy that unaffordable car, take on that credit card, or sign off on that student loan, then my life will truly have meaning aside from my novels.

Latest donation data from OpenSecrets may open some eyes

With the 2014 midterm election campaign in full swing, it’s time to take a quick look at the fundraising sources. The “go to” website for this data, OpenSecrets, has some very interesting data about this years fundraising.

The much-demonized Koch Industries, founded by liberal boogeyman brothers of GOP repute, doesn’t even crack the top twenty, coming in at #34 with just over $2.7 million in contributions in 2014. Coming in at the top of so-called “red donors” is hedge fund goliath Elliott Management, which came in at eighth overall on the list with just over $7 million donated. Only two other donors to conservative causes cracked the top twenty on this list, shipping supply giant Uline Industries and another hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies, came in at #17 and #18, respectively.

Read more here…