Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Where We Went Wrong

Most folks are fairly angry now about the political process in America.  They hate at least one party, and in a growing number of cases.....they hate both political parties.  Folks hate attending a family reunion because so many folks are aggravated and want to chat about their hostility over such and such political situation.   So let me offer up the ten ways that we went off-track and triggered this mess.

First, someone created C-SP*N.  It became the ESPN of political stuff.  There are people now who devote eight to twelve hours of their day....watching C-SP*N....then wanting to talk to folks and emphasize various bullet statements they got from their source.  We probably have 200k Americans who are doped up and fairly aggravated.....because they overdose themselves on way too much political news.

Second, cable news (CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News) are elephants that stomped into the living room and got the attention of a vast audience.  They kinda forced ABC, CBS and NBC to go up a notch.  Now you have six news groups running twenty-four hours a day.....talking mostly over a two-minute topic which they stretch out into an hour-long discussion.

Third, your local newspapers, with the help of Time and NewsWeak....decided in the 1980s to walk into a robust political forum.  They signed up to preach the gospel of politics and usually glued themselves to one party.  Strangely enough.....within the last decade, they've found that subscription levels are at a all-time low.  They don't know why....but they are losing readers almost daily.

Fourth, the internet came out and offered this opportunity for folks to gather facts and news......then dig into a topic that newspapers and cable news refused to cover.  A vast team of one or two guys....could dig up some huge story....make your regular news folks look like fifth graders, and put out a story which destroyed your trust in regular news outlets.

Fifth, special interest groups came out of the shadows....in the thousands.  A dozen senators could now be confronted and put into a bad position.  There's no law against the special interest groups.....but they aren't really helping the public at large...just their special interest.

Sixth, school teachers got around to being some funnel of knowledge or information....which was a one-topic type situation.  They convinced some kids that Republicans were evil, or Democrats were crazy.....instead of just plain teaching kids.

Seventh....and final.....a bunch of Hollywood characters started to charm the public and make folks believe they were smart on some political topic....when they weren't.  We are at a point where no one takes anyone serious from Hollywood anymore.

It's a fair mess....with no real fix or solution.

Simply Observations

The Wikileaks guru, Julian Assange, who is in trouble for messing around with two Swedish women (actual charges with jail-time).....apparently got pretty scared and ran off to the Ecuadoran embassy in London.  He's asking for asylum.  The British legal folks are a bit upset because Julian swore up and down that he'd play an ethical situation out with the procedures.  I imagine the Ecuadoran ambassador is kinda surprised....he probably gets one guy a year asking for asylum to Ecuador.  There's around $300k in bail money involved in this mess, and I suspect that it will forfeit rather quickly if Ecuador carries out this deal.  As for Julian?  Well....Ecuador is a fine third-world country and he might adapt to it.  Sadly, because of the problems that Julian got himself into.....I doubt if he ever leaves Ecuador once he gets there.  That might be a problem in the long run.  It's a pretty sad end to the guy....possibly stuck in Ecuador, and trying to be the leader of some vast empire of Wikileaks.

This Friday....will be the grand showing of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer.  Yes, I will be at the showing.  It's a pretty unusual scenario....Abe was a guy with a wooden stake and a pretty sharp ax.  He'd take down a couple of vampires at a whack....on his evening walks.  If this is a success....there's bound to be Thomas Jefferson: Vampire Stalker, Teddy Roosevelt: Werewolf Slayer, and Jimmy Carter: Bigfoot Tracker.  It'll open the floodgates for some great movie scenarios.

Down in Bama.....at Opelika....the court case is proceeding over the poisoned oaks at the Auburn campus.  This guy, Harvey Updyke....is in a bit of trouble because he acknowledged that he was the guy who poisoned and killed a couple of trees on the Auburn campus....mostly because he hated the NCAA football team that Auburn has.  Now, I realize that most folks don't ever get this serious about football.....but in Bama....we probably have 10k folks in the state who would start a fight or do something stupid over NCAA football.  So yesterday, the first phase of this court episode started....where they were looking for a fair and impartial jury.  With eighty-five folks called....it started off pretty badly when half the folks admitted that they had relatives connected to the campus or were pretty die-hard Auburn football fans (which you wouldn't want on this particular jury).  At least thirty-nine of the folks admitted they had been at the trees during past celebrations....which took them off the list.  Legal experts actually admit this may take two weeks in court, which shocks most of the Bama folks.  As for Updyke?  Well....I'd say (I'm fairly impartial on this, although my brother attended Auburn) that he ought to get a $100k fine, get 2,000 hours of community service, and be forced to watch copies of every Auburn win since 1966.  It's not worth the time or space to put the guy in jail, and it'd just make him feel bigger than he is already.

Finally, somewhere in Houston a day or two ago....this mother was driving around with her three kids in the car.  An accident occurred, which is still unexplained.  The mother then got out....walked over to the nearby drug store by herself....leaving the kids in the car.  They are 5, 12, and 16 years old.  At the drug store.....she bought an ice cream and then proceeded to disrobe.  As cars arrived....she was totally nude. They approached in a kindly fashion, as you'd imagine cops confronting a nude gal eating an ice cream.  She got a bit hostile.....quickly.  The confrontation went to the cops, who promptly took her down (without guns or taser).  My best guess...bath salts.  The thing is this.....if you were a kid in the car and observed this.....could you ever allow Mom back into the house?  I'd be calling up grandma or Aunt Wanda....begging for them to pick me up.

From My Neighborhood

Over the last month or so....we've had this episode brewing here in Virginia, which probably won't make it into the national press.  The chancellor of the university had been hired two years ago, and told to prepare for cuts.  The board wanted her in the frame of mind....to take measures and help bring the university into a positive position, with lesser budget issues.

The chancellor....Teresea Sullivan....came up a couple of months ago and kinda hinted that she was going on a certain pace for the cuts.  This didn't sit very well, and this week.....the board basically "let" her go (fired might be appropriate).

Ms Sullivan hinted strongly, that corporate-business concepts didn't work well with the university crowd, and that things needed to be done at a very slow pace.  The board hinted back that tuition was on a spiral upward, and that there would be tough decisions to be made.

It's become a comical affair.  You've got a number of facility members who are now fearful about what is coming and really came to the aide of Ms Sullivan in the final days of her leadership.  At one meeting this week, Ms Sullivan wanted everyone on the board to know that people would be poached and grabbed by big-name universities because of all this turmoil.  I suspect that the board was fairly happy to be dumping their high-cost players, and would quickly replace them with folks making twenty-percent less.

My guess is that a number of 4-star colleges are watching this affair and thinking of their future.  This rising tuition game is a major topic on every campus.  Some programs are going to find themselves curtailed.  Some folks are going to be told to retire or move along.  Some chancellors are going to be challenged to make tough cuts.  There's just not much of an alternate plan to play out here.