Election Prediction: Trump beats Clinton

dt-trump-1024x712

{{I put this up in March but took it down two weeks later because I was too fed up and disgusted with this never-ending election cycle.  But I’ll leave it up…for now.}}

.

.

.

If you’ve read anything on this site, you know I despise both political parties.  I vowed long ago to never vote for either party in federal or state elections.

However, this doesn’t mean I don’t know to read the tea leaves to see which way things are going.

Now this Donald Trump thing has happened and everyone says the world is falling apart. Early on, I admit I wasn’t paying too much attention to Mr. Trump. I thought he was an egoist on an absurd adventure that couldn’t go anywhere. Among the GOP candidates, I actually thought Jeb probably had the best chance to become POTUS only because I believed him to be the most palatable to the broader public in a general election against any Dem. Especially against Hillary since she can’t use the term “dynasty” or “corrupt” against anyone as they apply too well to her.

As Donald began to rise, I began rooting against him. I vehemently disagree about that wall and travel moratorium and still do…but I really enjoy him talking about corrupt politicians, giving out Lindsey Graham’s phone number (which I definitely called to tell him he sucks at his job – Thanks, Donald!), and now blatantly using Chris Christie like an obedient tool. How can you not enjoy someone treating politicians with the contempt they deserve?

Like many others, I’m ready to make my prediction for November:

Donald Trump will win the election and become President of The Unites States of America.

The  reason is simple: all things considered, the American people will think he is the best candidate and thus will deserve to win.

Donald will not be running against Nelson Mandela, Ronald Reagan, or even 1992’s feel-good Bill Clinton. He is running against the 2016 version of Hillary Clinton.

People get very upset about the various offensive things Donald has said about whatever group. I know I have several times.  Cursed him aloud, wished ill upon his fortunes and mocked his hair. But let’s not be naive. Donald is a salesman and he has been successfully selling a message to a particular audience. Back when no one would take him seriously, he pitched loudly to the more extreme yet largely-shoved-aside portion of the republican base in order to gain some steam. He could have pitched to the same brands of Republicans that Jeb did but there was always a plethora of the same-as-usual GOP candidates doing the same thing. Wasn’t there more than ten to start? By taking his rhetoric to a slightly more extreme than his opponents, he was able to harness the frustration that exists in the large portion of the GOP base that always feels they are being taken for granted by their leaders.

But that’s all he’s done. Sold a message better than his opponents. With more zing and passion, he says what the audience wants to hear. Does anyone actually think Donald Trump is truly a racist? Or that he truly hates immigrants? Look at his lifestyle and history. I believe Donald will say what he needs to win that GOP nomination. I believe Donald would make a profitable deal with anyone, no matter of their race, creed, religion, or sexual orientation. I believe he has essentially one question for everything: “is it good for what I’m doing now?”

Beware when this talented salesman starts selling a broader message with all that zing but to a broader electorate. The anti-establishment sentiment he captured on the right also exists on the left. The left just currently views him as an odious racist and loon. But again, he hasn’t been selling to them…yet.

Soon, the message will shift. He won’t need to make the race-baiting or anti-immigrant statements to get ahead. Or at least he will not need to make them as strongly. We Americans have short memory spans and the rhetoric in the coming months will be very different than what we’ve heard. The large undecided portion of our electorate will make their choice in November based on what they heard in August, September and October of 2016, not 2015.

When I take an objective look at what I think will happen over the next eight months, I must be honest with myself and state that Donald Trump will beat Hillary Clinton. It won’t be a fluke. He will have earned it.

Here’s why:

1) The economy.

In the general election, it’s the economy, stupid. The Clintons know this all too well. While Obama, who kept greasing GWB’s QE debt machine, has seen high stock prices and low gas prices, meaningful jobs is the number one thing people in this country want.

Attacking free trade policies is a winner on both the left and right and Donald knows this. In the general, he will drive this one home over and over again. Hillary on the other hand is weighted down by a terrible legislative record supporting free trade back to its beginning with NAFTA, done by her husband. With her legislative baggage and well-known wealthy corporate backers, she cannot counter this argument. Even Bernie Sanders has used her record against to great effect.

Attacking free trade resonates with Americans and Donald is the only one in the general that gets to support its deconstruction.

2) Foreign policy.

Immigration aside, his foreign policy will be more appealing to a unique yet vast cross section of people.

Donald has said he’d make a deal with anyone if its in America’s interest, including Iran, Assad, Russia, whomever. Does anyone doubt this? The only group he’s said he’d kill is ISIS and everyone is trying to do that already.

Donald said the Iraq war was a mistake and only a moron or liar cannot see this. Meanwhile Hillary voted for the authorization of the use of force in Iraq.  I am 100% certain that before Donald’s rise, Hillary was 100% certain that her Republican opponent would not be able to use Iraq against her.  How unlucky is she!  And no matter what back and forth statements Donald made pre-2003, he was not a public official and did not cast a vote to obliterate an innocent nation and help spawn groups like ISIS…as Hillary did.

 

3) Donald has eschewed all monies from all usual suspects: the lobbies, corporations, rich jerks and special interest groups that always twist our foreign and domestic policies to their desire at the public expense. Donald will continue to state this against Hillary, who is one the most elite-money entrenched candidates in American history.

I have never seen anyone piss off Wall Street, The Kochs, Liberals, and Establishment Media at the same time and succeed at doing it. The more his message of financial independence is spread, the more people will gravitate to him in the general. He gets to appear as the first legitimate anti-establishment candidate in a long time while Hillary appears as THE MOST establishment candidate available. No billionaire could ever be so lucky.

4) Donald does not have Hillary’s baggage. He is a business man and no matter what statements he made in the past, he can always explain them somehow. He has no voting record unlike Hillary and can trot out decades of records from both Hillary and Bill. I bet NAFTA and free trade gets talked about a lot in the coming months. All Hillary can do is complain and say he has no experience in government affairs or mock him.

It is kind of like Obama in 08 – Barack had been around for such a short period that there wasn’t a record to throw against him and the whole “no experience” complaint does not hold water against a charismatic speaker, which both Obama and Trump are.

5)Pro-choice/Pro Gay Rights – I don’t know if Donald has said anything about these issues during this campaign but I don’t care if he has. Donald Trump is not against abortion or gay rights. I would not believe that he has ever cared to be against those positions.

He will be the first GOP candidate that gets to appeal to the broad section of the left for which pro-choice/pro-gays is non-negotiable. The GOP base is not voting for a Clinton so Donald loses nothing with a socially liberal position and gains everything. His socially liberal lifestyle gives him an ability to siphon away alot of voters in the middle or on the left who may like his business background. I know women who like many things about the GOP but would never vote Republican because of their pro-life or anti-gay positions. Trump is not making this mistake and it will undercut a longstanding loyal portion of the Democratic base.

6) Melania Trump. We Americans don’t often base our opinions on real substance after having analyzed both candidates and creating pro/con lists. No, it is more a beauty pageant or popularity contest for many Americans.

One of the most appealing stories about a potential Trump presidency is his wife. They will trot her out as often as possible during the general election. Melania is an immigrant who grew up poor in Soviet-era housing in Eastern Europe. She appears to be sufficiently nice and sweet yet able to defend herself. And she is knock-down beautiful.

The story of a girl going from such humble beginnings to First Lady of White House is pretty darn cool to anyone with an immigrant background. In this country, this is ALOT of people. Inspiring even if its only through marriage and not just inspiring to Americans. It would be inspiring to many people around the world. In a way, her life story and career success along with this enforces a notion that in America, dreams can come true. That we are a nation of built from all kinds of people, that we love all kinds of people, and that any kind of person may one day find themselves in the highest of echelons in America. At least this is what will be sold by Team Trump.

With Hillary, it’s slick Willy Clinton and no matter what message Team Clinton sells, everyone knows or thinks that he will use every free moment to hit on any woman he meets.

The beauty pageant portion of his contest goes hands down to Mr. Trump and his beauty pageant-winning wife with humble immigrant roots.

Team Trump has a lot going for them right now. I am kind of stunned that what I thought impossible just a few months ago appears inevitable.

When I add up all the factors…even subjectively for this socially liberal atheist from a muslim country who is married to a hispanic woman and has many muslims in his family, I think Donald will win.

In November, I believe the perceptions of the electorate will be:

Donald is better than Hillary on the economy.

Donald will make foreign policy deals in America’s interest and Hillary is more of the same foreign policy.

Donald would tell any portion of the establishment to shove it up their ass. Hillary is the establishment.

Hillary has too many scandals.

Donald will not waste time on an abortion/gay culture war so nothing is gained by voting Democrat.

Donald’s wife is much more enjoyable to listen to and look at than Bill Clinton…x 10000

President Trump is coming. Hold on to your britches and get ready.

Advertisements

Candidate X

 

rene_magritte-the_son_of_man_art_painting_hd-wallpaper-984662

Hi, My name is _______ {Fill in a name. Preferably a classic American name that sounds like a guy you’d meet at a BBQ in Iowa. Something like Blaine Christopher.} and I am running for ________.{Fill in federal office – aim for the sky!}  Let me tell you about myself: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ {Make statements about how you love your family and show an endearing picture of the wife and children. If you have no family, show a picture of you helping impoverished kids and them smiling. Relate any personable or motivational stories from your past, discussing/making up obstacles you’ve overcome. If applicable, harp incessantly on prior experience in the military, law enforcement, as a prosecutor or with prior office.}

Campaign Platform Focus:

The focus of my campaign is strengthening our economy and creating meaningful jobs, reining in the wasteful government spending and bailouts ballooning the national debt, education reform and a return to competency, the restoration of civil liberties and reform of police practices, a return to accountability and the prosecution of past crimes, utilizing a sound foreign policy that creates allies rather than strengthens enemies, reform of the NCAA and American sports and protecting the environment.

Contents:

  1. The Economy
  2. Immigration
  3. Education Reform
  4. The War on Terror
  5. The Patriot Act and Civil Liberties
  6. Investigation into and Prosecution of Past Crimes
  7. Decriminilization of Marijuana
  8. NCAA and Sports Reform
  9. The Environment

The long version…

1) The Economy

A) The Deconstruction Of Free Trade

The methodical and tempered deconstruction of free trade with many nations is the only thing that will bring jobs back. Free trade, or rather “labor for the lowest bidder” has been the largest destroyer of American jobs since 1995, and has had a direct impact on immigration.

Acts like NAFTA were sold to the American public as opening up further markets for American workers to sell their products while also creating price competition and product diversity within America, benefitting the American consumer. We were told these acts would help nations like Mexico grow their middle class, in turn creating more buyers for American goods.

But the exact opposite occurred.  Free trade became a mechanism for American corporations to move their workforce to any foreign nation for which the costs of labor, and regulatory costs, were minimal compared to the costs of operating in America.  As more and more nations were given free trade agreements, corporations across various industries had more and more low-cost labor options to choose.

Worse, corporations who may have desired to keep an expensive, skilled American workforce were put at a major disadvantage against the companies that maximized profits by taking their labor costs abroad.  By creating a vehicle by which corporate executives were faced with a choice of maximizing profits dramatically by moving their factory to China or being at a financial disadvantage against competitors who did so, our free trade policies incentivize the erosion of the American workforce.

Free trade has also failed to benefit the nations with which the agreement were made. In the case of Mexico and Central America, it has been met with disastrous effects.  Rather than grow the middle class of these nations or assist in providing political or economic stability, it destroyed their middle classes and wrecked their economies.

Without the regulatory infrastructure or evolution of worker’s rights available in America, they became societies of low-income workers making products that were once made here.  But without the means to demand a wage increase or demand further rights.  And without those means, they are ensured to be a preferable choice to American, or foreign, corporations as a location to place their labor costs rather than within the United States.

American labor should have never been forced to compete to make American products against workers from nations where they are barely more than indentured servants. But don’t blame corporations for this. Blame Congress for continuously passing these legislations.

Free trade also puts small business and newly created businesses at an incredible financial disadvantage against big business. Whereas a large multi-national has the means to transplant their labor costs to a third-world country and ship their product to the US, small and new businesses cannot do the same. They are left having to pay more per person to do effectively the same work, sticking them with much higher marginal costs than their foreign labor competitors.

However, while free trade is harmful to the American workforce, it cannot be dissolved completely nor should it be. In fact, there are many nations for which free trade is wholly appropriate.

I propose that free trade agreements be limited to nations which possess a stable political and legal system, large middle class and sufficient worker protections. Somewhat a free trade union of worker’s rights abiding nations. Nations like Germany, France, Japan, Canada, etc.  Free trade agreements should only be given to those nations for which there are no incentives for domestic corporations for either nation to supplant their labor costs by jumping to other markets. There would be no costs savings or maximizing profit for an American corporation to fire its workforce and move to Munich because the German workers would costs the same if not more.  Further, the German middle class is strong and wealthy enough to buy American products and vice versa. This is where free trade works.  And for these nations, there should be no change in our free trade policies.

But not with nations whose economies and governments have not yet evolved to the point where they have a strong and stable middle class, government, and legal system. Methodically and over a period of many years, the free trade agreements with these nations, particularly Mexico, China, those in Central America, should be deconstructed, piece by piece, industry by industry, with the introduction of targeted tariffs that will protect products in made in America and protect American workers.

We must do this slowly because the introduction of tariffs into business structures would result in near-term increases in prices. Too many tariffs at once or too near in time could have sharply negative results for consumers and the broader economy.

B) The Restoration Of Capitalism And Curtailing Over-Regulations That Serve To Protect Big Business

Although we blame capitalism for many things, the United States has not been a capitalist country for a long time. Capitalism is designed to be a meritocracy predicated on fair competition. In too many areas, we allowed overregulation to limit competition and hinder only small businesses by creating arduous barriers to entry within too many industries. Many regulations designed to provide a sense of safety only turned into extremely costly regulatory compliance with the bureaucracies created to regulate the industries. There are too many layers of burdens upon regular Americans attempting to start a business. Many of these layers, not all, must be rolled back to allow the creation of more small businesses by average Americans.

For example, there was a time where if you wanted to start a Taxi service, you could write the word taxi on the side of a vehicle and start. Whether your company thrived or failed depended on your abilities as a business manager. But this pure capitalism came with pitfalls. Eventually, somewhere, some un-regulated taxi driver committed a crime or negligently caused the death of someone. In response, we created licensing services to ensure that a person was qualified to enter the market place and help prevent these kinds of tragedies.

The intent was right, but along the way, it became more and more costly to obtain a taxi license, or medallion, as subsequent politicians added more layers of regulation. Today, the cost of a medallion authorizing one taxi  in New York City is over $1 Million. In nearly all of America’s major cities, the costs are several hundred thousand. These costs are simply unreachable for average Americans. The only entities who can afford this are large investors and corporations who purchase the medallions and hire drivers as minimum wage employees.

While the driver has a minimum wage job, he has no chance of creating a company within his skill set because he will never be able to afford the medallion.  No matter his skills or adeptness at running a taxi service, we created a system where he can never be more than a common employee.

The over-regulation of many industries serves only to protect those currently with wealth and power because it eliminates competition by never allowing the competition to be created. Throughout American industries, we must examine where our over-burdensome regulatory schemes have worked to prevent competition and either repeal/rollback these regulations or provide exceptions that encourage the creation of small businesses.

We must give small businesses an opportunity to grow and compete on the merits of their product and services and not based on whether they can afford the lawyers to comply with 2000 pages of federal, state, and local regulations. In many cases, simply more freedom will be enough to create more jobs. We must not continue with a mentality that has resulted in police officers stopping children from selling lemonade on the side of the road.

C) An End To Corporate Socialism/Protectionism And An End To Corporate Bailouts

No corporation should ever be deemed too big to fail. The U.S government must stop subsidizing the bad transactions of its largest financial institutions. We disregarded moral hazard by opening the public checkbook to crooks and stifled the spending power of the average American, creating the largest wealth gaps in history.

By bailing out major banks, airlines, or automakers, we incentivize and protect their bad behavior. But worse, particularly in the case of the banks, we ordained them kings of the court forever. Had the major banks failed, there would have indeed been a large negative impact on our economy in the short term. But not the long term. By preventing them from failing, we stopped hundreds of smaller and mid-sized investment firms that had not engaged in these practices from capturing the market share left over. We stopped any who were wiser or more adept at their trade from taking their rightful places at the top.

Instead of allowing capitalism to reward those who do well, we decided to publicly subsidize the ineptitude of their failing competitors, giving them a blank check. Now, it is those small firms who are at a more extreme financial disadvantage. Their large-firm competitors have free money to use and no risk of loss while they must operate by the normal rules of risk and reward. In the investment world, it is the equivalent of making some gods and telling them they get to compete against ants.

Rather, capitalism should be allowed to do its job. When a major corporation engages in terrible business practices and fails, it will be broken up. Its pieces will be sold to its competitors for them to integrate into their structures as they fill the market void left by the failing entity. I stand against publicly subsidizing private corporate losses, against corporate socialism and against corporate protectionism.

D) Miscellaneous

I support maintaining a strong dollar against foreign currencies and against quantitative easing programs.

I support the re-establishment of the Glass-Steagall Act and/or similar restrictions regarding the commingling of commercial and investment banks.

I support legislation requiring high-risk home loan, auto, and credit providers to maintain ownership, or a percentage of ownership, of loans issued beyond certain high rates, thus ensuring the risk of loss, to an extent, remains with the original creditor and thus discouraging predatory lending.

I support repealing the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and re-instituting restrictions on cross-ownership of media companies.

I support legislations that restrict or ban high-frequency trading within many exchanges and markets.

I support auditing the Federal Reserve.

I support the repeal of Obamacare and the introduction of a single payer and private insurance system similar to Canada, France, Germany, and many others.

To assist the financial growth of American families, I support increasing the limits on several taxable deductions, including the student loan interest and annual child-care deductions.

 

2) Immigration

We must take a more sensible approach when it comes to immigration.

We must always remember America is nation of immigrants and I continue to support the many lawful immigration entry policies available. All immigrants to America, whether they be unregulated or not, must be afforded appropriate rights and the respect deserving of all humans.

But we cannot deny that the massive unregulated movements of peoples across borders does not have an adverse impact on a nation’s economy, from labor pressures to the increased costs of providing government services to every person within a jurisdiction.

However, walls and increased deportations will never solve America’s unregulated immigration problems. Nor will policies that callously separate parents from their children. These only address the symptoms of illegal immigration and do it in costly and ineffectual ways.

We will not see a substantial decrease in the number of unregulated immigrants until we address the problem at the source. People do not make the perilous journeys across the seas or deserts in rickety transportation, often with a variety of criminal elements preying upon them, because they want to run away from a good situation. They do it because the nation they are leaving cannot provide them or their children with a prosperous future. They do it because they seek security and because that deadly journey and a chance at a life in America is worth the risk.

This dynamic will never change until the source nations of America’s unregulated immigrants are able to stabilize themselves, particularly Mexico and those in Central America.

We must be more direct, yet also more honest, with these nations and ourselves about the causes of the decline in their stability.

One of those causes is the same that has devastated America’s work force: free trade and broader economic policies that allow American capital to place its workforce abroad to avoid labor costs. While free trade stabbed the American worker in the back, it also devastated the economies of many nations from which we now see large waves of unregulated immigration. Their locally owned small business, like ours, and even nationally-owned business were suddenly made to compete against foreign giants. Their political structures became flooded with money representing foreign interests, which almost always wins over the demands of a local population seeking more rights.

More so, free trade created a race to the bottom for many nations. Often, the political and business elites of poorer nations lure foreign capital by advertising that their people lack labor rights and can be employed for minimal amounts. They advertise that foreign capital can be assured the government will never enact any legislations or take any steps to change this dynamic. Neither American workers nor their counterparts in foreign nations should be forced to engage in a race to the bottom when it comes to wages.

Free trade has been devastating on all ends. Its negative consequences to the economies of the poorer nations have only exacerbated America’s problem of unregulated immigration. We must deconstruct free trade to allow the economies of poorer nations to evolve without the unduly interference of foreign capital and the political power it can afford to buy within their societies.

We must be honest about how our broader foreign policy also directly affects immigration. We must ensure that our policy is not to engage in endless meddling to protect private financial interests that are counter to the needs and development of local populations. Just as deconstructing free trade would allow poorer nations to evolve their economies and strengthen their middle classes, we must allow those same nations to evolve politically without US interference, either covert or overt. We must limit ourselves to providing honest guidance and assistance based on a mutual respect and never by engaging in policies that usurp their local interests for the benefit of private money.

Miscellaneous: I support fulfilling the promises of the Dream Act. I support the continued acceptance of war refugees into America pursuant to longstanding UN and US placement programs.

 

3) Education Reform

Our centralized education system is failing America’s youth. I support the termination of federal standardized testing and a restructuring of the Department of Education. While maintaining a reduced supervisory role over curriculum, I support changing the primary function of the Department of Education away from drafting standardized curriculums to providing local jurisdictions with assistance on capital projects and funds on a per-student basis.

We must allow the states and local communities to have more authority and control over the curriculum of America’s children. The centralized system has only helped America’s youth fall behind their foreign competitors. By requiring total commonality and not allowing for any independence of curriculum, we are anchoring our best and brightest to a lowest common denominator rather than allowing them to develop at their own pace with support from their schools.

With every change in the White House, the centralized system shifts to help achieve the political goals of the incoming party. This leaves America with a fractured education system that has only gotten worse over time. For decades, the administering and development of America’s educations programs by DC bureaucrats has been a race to the bottom.

We must allow the States and local jurisdictions to take more control over the education of their youths while also providing the funding assistance needed.

We must provide more trust in local communities to provide education programs designed to uniquely fit their communities and enhance the educational experience of their students.

We must allow local communities to engage in teaching and use their discretion rather than require a nation of kids to memorize pamphlets and standardized test questions.

We must enable schools and communities to devote resources to music programs, art programs, PE, drama programs, etc., rather than devote all resources to complying with an unbending common curriculum.

Allowing each state to develop its own curriculum, as they once did, will also result in a laboratory effect of teaching methods, education practices, and curriculum structures. In time, this will show us which methods are more successful and less successful, enabling struggling jurisdictions to seek out examples of successful structures. We must allow those who can do better than the federal government to do so. We must not hold them back.

With a central system, it is one-size-fails-all. Changing the structure of the Department of Education, terminating the standardized tests and limiting its power over curriculum will help restore America’s education system as a world leader.

Miscellaneous: I do not support zero-tolerance policies. I support teachers and administrators exercising sound judgment in determining whether an act should be reprimanded or merely ignored. I do not support punishing students if they do something otherwise innocuous, like playing cowboys and Indians or shooting someone with an imaginary gun.

Regarding college financing programs, I support limiting the re-sale of debtor notes among private creditors and capping student loan interest rates.

 

4) The War On Terror

While there have been many errors and crimes committed in the execution of the War on Terror, against both American citizens and foreign nationals, time machines do not exist and we must determine how to go forward from the present.

Within the War on Terror, we must win an ideological battle. Not with words espousing a superficial devotion to the rule of law and rights of man but with actual actions and practice in the face of adversity.

Not killing innocent civilians while hunting terrorists, either as a result of collateral damage, erroneous targeting, or callous and loose operating procedures must become a real objective in this conflict. Not violating the human rights of prisoners and treatment of all in accordance with honorable principles must become paramount to our methods of operation.

For every innocent person killed by an American drone or bomb, we create multiple (the amounts of) enemies from their family, friends and communities. For every person imprisoned and tortured within an American facility, or by a government propped up and supported by us, we lend credence to the words of our enemies that we only intend harm. We must defend ourselves while applying our principles and not merely pay lip service to them.

To achieve these objectives, I support greatly restricting and restructuring America’s armed drone program to prevent the deaths of non-combatants.

I support ending American’s extra-judicial assassination programs, closing Guantanamo Bay and America’s many black-site prisons.

I support restructuring our overly-supportive relationships with several nations within the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Qatar, among others.

I support greatly limiting the amount of military aid provided to several regimes throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa, though not its full termination. We cannot achieve our global objectives of peace and stability by funding and arming regimes and governments that routinely violate the human rights of their constituents or those around them.

I support continued negotiations, nuclear agreements with monitoring, and peace with Iran.

 

5) The Patriot Act And Civil Liberties

I support the repeal of the Patriot Act, a total restoration of constitutional rights taken since 9/11 and an end to warrantless surveillance and detentions.

While police reform is generally an issue controlled by the states, there are many ways the federal government can help ensure proper police practices. I support buying body cameras for law enforcement officers or providing jurisdictions with financial incentives for their use. The use of body cameras not only helps prevent bad policing but they also help save administrative and judicial costs. Many cases are dismissed outright or resolved via plea, and without costly trials, solely because of the power of video evidence. This is also true if a civil case evolves from the matter.

I support increased funding and expansion of the Department of Justice to investigate more cases of civil rights violations by police. I support the termination of military training to police jurisdictions where abuses are prevalent and provision of civil rights trainings to all police jurisdictions.

 

6) Investigations Into And Prosecution For Past Crimes Of Government, Business, And Various American Individuals And Foreign Citizens And Entities Within US Jurisdictions

We have seemingly lost any ability to hold many people, whether they be wealthy private citizens or powerful government officials, to any measure of criminal accountability. We cannot rely on or expect partisans to do anything more than grandstand when it comes to applying the law because they themselves must worry about covering their own crimes or the crimes of their allies.

We must find a way to restore accountability to all levels of government and start afresh.  We cannot allow the criminal and hidden baggage of the past to continue to weigh down our future. Yet this is no simple task and the breadth of such an endeavor requires more than recycled promises from elected officials to behave better.

There are too many scandals and crimes for any individual or agency to investigate. And the lack of transparency in government makes it impossible for us to perceive the true scope of crimes committed by powerful people.

I support the creation of an open Truth and Reconciliation Commission. While broader in scope and power, this commission would be similar to the mechanism used by South Africa after the fall of apartheid and would investigate past crimes, including war crimes, discover victims and identify perpetrators, and establish a method of reconciliation on a morally accepted basis that allows the country to more forward once and for all.

To protect as best as possible from conflicts of interests, I support empaneling such a commission with elected members of the citizenry but excepting any person who has held or holds elected office (or their spouses), any lobbyist (current or former or their spouses), and current members of government, either federal or state (or their spouses). I support empowering this commission with the full subpoena, investigatory and charging authority of the federal government.

The creation of such a commission or investigative body, free from the leveraged interests of Congress and big business, is the only method by which people will be held accountable for past crimes. It is the only method by which the American public can restore accountability to Washington and the elite…or for Americans to know what is being and has been done in their name while finding a way forward. Otherwise, we are left to the empty promises of corrupt partisans or the law enforcement officials under their thumbs.

 

7) Decriminalization Of Marijuana

We know the economic and health benefits associated with the legalization of marijuana. But further, criminalizing it comes with unbearable societal costs that we aren’t measuring. Every time a youth, most often a minority, is arrested and convicted of a marijuana charge, we stifle the progress of their lives. This does not take into account the actual financial costs to government regarding the amounts spent on arresting, processing, jailing, adjudicating, paroling, and monitoring non-violent marijuana users.

Beyond those measurable costs, the long-term societal costs may be worse. Arrests and criminal records make obtaining a college education or job more difficult, sometimes impossible. By criminalizing marijuana, the state is sandbagging the futures of too many Americans, making it more likely that they will end up a part of the growing welfare state. Along with the front-end costs of policing marijuana, we are swelling our budgets on the back end as well.

We should not be placing unnecessary barriers on the progress of the lives of so many Americans. Especially when a system of regulation and taxation has been shown to work in several jurisdictions throughout the world and USA. I support the federal decriminalization of marijuana.

 

8) NCAA Reform And The Expansion Of Professional Sports

It is time that Congress addresses the gross inequities that pervade within the economies of sports. We generally avoid thinking about the structures of American sports because we view them as mere games. But these sports have developed into billion dollar industries that affect a lot of lives, especially America’s youth.

A) NCAA Reform

The NCAA, in many regards, has created a system of lawful generational theft. They own a monopoly on the path to professional sports and use it to profit in every way possible from young Americans. Doing so while exercising draconian rules against their behavior, holding their career hopes hostage. I do not believe that major universities give scholarships to athletes because they care about providing an education to them. Or that these athletic programs are truly done to enhance the educational experience of college. They are profit making schemes.

We cannot pretend that handing a kid a scholarship and a dorm room is equitable compensation for what the athlete brings to the school. For a university, a scholarship or simply not charging a student is cheap currency. For the athlete, he must take an uncompensated gamble on his future while at the same time actively doing an activity that is generating millions in profits. Yet by rule, they are prevented from demanding any further compensation. Or rather nothing more than the cheap currency of a scholarship, often coupled with a cookie major that cannot prepare them for the future but allows plenty of time to practice. I do not believe being a student athlete means you must yield all economic rights to administrators. We must stop treating young Americans, often minorities, as profitable athletic fodder for old men.

I believe in individual rights and protecting those who have the least bargaining power, like Americas young athletes, from unjust exploitation.  I support allowing negotiated compensation to students athletes when engaged in profit-making activities, including allowing them the full use and control of their likeness for individual profit. We must not let fears of individual cases of financial malfeasance justify an oppressive system that harms tens of thousands of normal Americans each year.

B) Expansion of Professional Sports

Not only should NCAA be reformed, the federal government should not protect the monopolies of America’s professional sports leagues. Congress should remove all anti-trust exemptions given to professional sports leagues and pass legislation empowering the FTC to ensure that new entrants are permitted based on an objective standard and identifiable criteria.

There is no modern justifiable reason that leagues like the NFL or NBA should enjoy a monopoly and be permitted to prevent new businesses from joining the competition, even if the new business seeks entry within an already saturated market. The closed-system leagues must not be allowed to construct subjective and shifting barriers to entry into a marketplace. And fandom alone should never trump the public benefits of economic competition.

If an investment group or an individual desires to start a sports team, and can meet a pre-determine standard with reasonable threshold requirements for capital funding, business structure, etc, then they should not be required to seek the permission of already established entities to compete. The leagues can adjust their structures accordingly to their desire to meet an influx of new entrants.

Every team created, like any business, means jobs and tax income based off of those jobs. As an example, the NBA has thirty teams, thirty administrative staffs, thirty coaching staffs and player rosters. In total, a few thousand people involved in the sport, deriving incomes they spend in their communities and taxable to local, state, and federal authorities. Along with the direct employees, many thousands more rely on the income the sport create,s including support staff, stadium vendors, merchandise manufacturers, hotels workers, security staffs, local law enforcement agencies and so forth.

With an open system allowing competition, there would not be only 30 professional teams across each sport. The amount would be determined by how many teams the American sports market could handle. It would not be limited to protect billionaires from facing increased competition. For many cities or states like Iowa or West Virginia, such a system is only the method by which they ever likely to have a pro-sports team.

Accordingly, there would be multiple the amount of executives, managers, trainers, vendors, manufacturers and athletes. While deconstructing free trade would take many years, if not a decade or more, the expansion of professional sports may be the largest short-term job creation vehicle available to our nation. Job creation that would also benefit the many minority groups that represent a large percentage of the labor within the sports industry. And unlike other industries and despite our current free trade policies, these jobs cannot be exported.

Creating objective standards to entry and enforcing capitalistic principles of fair competition would also eliminate long-standing concerns regarding minority ownership of sports franchises. In order to compete and start a franchise, minority-controlled ownership groups would no longer need permission from rich men hoping to maintain their monopoly.

Beyond job creation or concerns regarding minority ownership , ending this system of corporate protectionism would end the game of exploitation teams routinely play with local governments when asking for handouts to build new stadiums. We allow these leagues to limit the number of entrants and their individual teams are able to hold towns hostage with the threat of departure. As there can only be so many teams in the leagues, the threat of a team leaving leaves local populations with the tough choice of coughing up millions or saying goodbye to professional sports with little hope of its return.

This scheme of public exploitation would not exist if these protected businesses knew that a new entrant could immediately fill the market they left. Cities and towns would not feel as compelled to hand over money, often previously allocated to schools and social services, to a private business. Rather than be able to dangle the threat that a town would be permanently left without a sports franchise, the towns would know that if their market can support a franchise, another ownership group will come along.

The current system places all the negotiating leverage with private businesses and they use their leverage to extort local politicians. Requiring objective standards to entry within the sports marketplace would switch the dynamic and place the leverage with public officials and save billions for cities and towns across America.

The potential benefits of reforming the economies of sport would be far reaching for many Americans. Unfortunately, the potential economic impact and benefit to us all through direct or indirect employment, tax revenues, or public finances, is prevented to preserve the status quo of current monopolies and billionaires. I support reforming the economies and structures of American sports, both collegiate and professional.

 

9) The Environment

I support strengthening our environmental protections regarding the release of harmful pollutants and metals by heavy industry. Including, by example, in the case of the BP oil spill, levying criminal charges for dangerous, reckless or negligent business practices.

I support further funding and regulation to ensure clean sources of a freshwater for future generations, including further anti-fracking regulations.

I support further protections and conservation of wetlands, forests and natural habitats from unregulated development.

I support expanding the National Parks system to conserve more land for its natural purpose.

I do not support global warming alarmism. I do not support carbon taxes on greenhouse gases. For over twenty years, too much federal funding and too many resources have been devoted to promoting and advertising global warming as tomorrow’s disaster. This alarmism has been largely based on movie-like hysteria, consistently failing weather models or shifting standards.

This devotion has come with a large opportunity cost in that the billions spent promoting these fears could have been spent on more legitimate environmental causes. Rather than continue to devote federal funding in its current amount to global warming initiatives, I support re-directing much of that funding to more traditional environmental issues, such as those mentioned above, or scientific research, including NASA.

I support more vigorous regulation and oversight of the American nuclear industry. Nuclear power is vital to our nation’s infrastructure. But ensuring against negative events within our nuclear industry is an activity for which we must be proactive and not reactive. Nuclear power is relatively young and in its short life, we have seen two catastrophes occur in Chernobyl and Fukushima. We must be certain that even in the case of an unexpected weather event, we are protected from such a calamity occurring on American soil. We must be certain that America’s nuclear power plants do not operate with sub-standard protocols and that violators are brought into compliance. Including, if necessary, the federal takeover of facilities and accompanying civil or criminal liability to violators.

Further, as nuclear disasters affect the global environment and oceans, we must be proactive, independently and in coordination with the IAEA, to ensure that all nuclear nations implement and utilize adequate safety protocols in the construction and operation of their facilities.

 

Conclusion

Thank you for your time. I’d like you to know ________________________________

_________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________

{Explain your reasons for running in selfless terms so it is inferred that personal gain and success are not motivations. Employ overdone political slogans such as “we need to clean up Washington”, “I’ll fight for you”, and “I stand against big business.” Provide a final description of yourself using positive resume words like ‘trustworthy’ or ‘hardworking’ as often as possible. Never forget to harp incessantly on prior experience in the military, law enforcement, as a prosecutor or with prior office. Repeat the last sentence. At the very end, no matter what is your opinion of religion, state “God Bless The United States of America.” Good luck.}

 

The Body Part Kim Kardashian Uses Better Than You

USC Shoah Foundation's 20th Anniversary Gala - Reception

For the longest time, I did not know what to make of Kim Kardashian. There are plenty of big booties and pretty faces in this world so her fame baffled me. But I have come to a realization which at first was somewhat uncomfortable: Kim Kardashian is really smart. Personally, I’d like to challenge her to an IQ test before I admit defeat but statistically speaking, she is probably smarter than you or I.

If you type her name into Google, it comes up with 200 Million hits. Abraham Lincoln comes up with 80 Million. Genghis Khan, the ruler/creator of one of the largest empires to ever span this earth and direct ancestor of 4% of the world’s modern population, generates only 8 Million. In terms of fame, Ms. Kardashian blows out of the water modern royalty, heads of state and scholars like Newton, Da Vinci, Einstein and Hawking. According to my hasty non-scientific search, only Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama among a scarce few celebrities like Will Smith and Michael Jordan surpass her Google hit count. But the presence of Presidents ebbs after leaving office and Mr. Jordan and Mr. Smith aren’t getting any younger. She will probably surpass them all with one more decade of this hoopla.

5000 years from now, after World War 75 has wiped out civilization for the umpteenth time, some electronic anthropologist will come upon a semi-decayed and barely functioning server or microchip from our time. In data mining the information, this future scientist may legitimately wonder whether Ms. Kardashian was some kind of global empress. And the confusion of these future anthropologists will not be misplaced per se. Our society is infatuated with Kim Kardashian. Both her fans and her haters.

How did this happen? I am not exactly sure but I know it is not Kim Kardashian’s fault. She only deserves credit.

I work in an industry with many educated men and women. As for morals however, this lot of people varies as greatly as society. Yet when Ms. Kardashian’s name is brought up, I routinely hear the same things from this advanced group of thinkers: talentless hack, lucky bimbo or any of the vulgar terms for women which correlate to “ladies of the night”.  I will admit I at one point believed and agreed with many of these people bashing Ms. Kardashian from afar. (While well aware of her, I have never seen the show)

But I began to wonder what is the real difference between Kim Kardashian and Sharon Stone? Or even Katy Perry? Not physically but rather in terms of business acumen or life decisions. Assuredly, there are several but I think Ms. Kardashian wins where it counts. Do forgive me, Ms. Stone, I love you but I have to call it as I see it. You too, Ms. Perry.

Sharon Stone, if you don’t know, is an incredibly intelligent person and member of the haughty brainiac club Mensa. What I am sure you do know about Ms. Stone is she is/was a major sex symbol in Hollywood. Though I saw it several times, I do not know or care what was the plot of Sliver for one reason: Sharon Stone was in it.

Sliver

Damn straight I’d like to watch!

At that age, triflings like plot and dialogue were totally irrelevant. The only thing I expected was a hot and naked Sharon Stone and god bless her for never letting me down. (make your own jokes)

You see, because Sharon Stone is smart, she understands the importance of having more sex appeal to society than the next actress, who may or may not have been as comfortable filming the same scenes. Ms. Stone was willing to push the envelope further than others and it helped land jobs in a very competitive industry, creating financial wealth for herself. There is nothing wrong with the business choices Ms. Stone made. In my opinion, she made them wisely when facing competition like Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, who had basically corned large segments of the non-nude-scene actress industry. While my family does not share the morals of Hollywood celebrities, I fully acknowledge showing her cooter in Basic Instinct was a good career move.

Were I Arnold at this juncture, this movie would have gone in a different direction.

Were I Arnold at this juncture, this movie would have gone in a different direction.

This is the sexist dynamic in which these people live. Promiscuous behavior, public appearances with occasional antics and the attention which follows helps these women land lucrative jobs. And as society changes or slowly continues to degrade, the amplitude of this behavior increases in order for the celebrity to capture the same amount of attention as before. Hence the modern invent of every-celebrity-has-a-sex-tape. All of this is done for the hope of being able to make money in the profession they desire. The hope some rich or well-connected producer, executive or director will make them a star. Essentially, their lives are one long and embarrassing public job audition.

All Ms. Kardashian did was cut out the middlemen. She knows the masses only care about superficial glamor, sex and fame and devised a way to profit from it. She no longer relies on others to make herself wealthy. She will never need a job. She is a product, marketing plan and supply distribution chain wrapped into one human being. She can attach her name to frivolous apps via the hard work of others and expect to receive over $200 Million, per CNN. If Kevin Hart gets $2 Million to tweet a message of support for a movie, I wonder what Ms. Kardashian could command if not already doing so. No matter whether they are wholesome or promiscuous, all those actresses and actors with supposed talent cultivated through years of hard work will rely on bigwigs and financiers to get paid until they are dead. Not Ms. Kardashian though. To her, acting is for suckers.

But don’t think she did not work hard to get here or that she does not still work hard. She like all those actresses was once begging too. She like them worked often in degrading ways to achieve her current status. Ms. Kardashian was not the original “no-talent” phenomena, just the one which lasted.

That accolade belongs to Paris Hilton. Do not forget Ms. Kardashian was basically Ms. Hilton’s lapdog for a couple years. Ms. Kardashian saw what Ms. Hilton was doing turning talentless celebrity into dollars and decided she would do it better. She snaked all the media space and attention away from Ms. Hilton when the only reason we ever knew of Kim Kardashian in the first place was Ms. Hilton.

This is what we call leg work.

This is what we call doing leg work with a boss much dumber than you. Many Americans can empathize with Ms. Kardashian on this. Not me though – I love my boss!

This was probably too easy for Ms. Kardashian. I honestly wonder whether Ms. Hilton could multiply seven times eight and come within fifty-six of the correct answer. There is no way someone so vapid and hollow was going to last while also carrying the charisma and intellect of a brick wall. And while everyone has a sex-tape, Ms. Hilton seems to have had as many as some porn stars. For non-porn stars, one sex tape should be more than sufficient.

So Ms. Kardashian just repackaged what Ms. Hilton did, sex tape and all, but did it more wisely. She was smart to include her whole family in the product so they could contribute material, carry some of the weight and release some of the pressure and workload. It should also be noted there are a lot of people on this planet who would not treat their family so well as to share rising but not yet fully established fame and wealth. She deserves big props for trying and succeeding in securing something not just for her but for those closest to her.

Even beyond her business success, there is a plainly obvious reason to not over-look Ms. Kardashian’s intelligence. I do not care how little she studied in school or what degree she has never earned, her father did not get to his position in life by being anything less than a extremely smart, shrewd and capable man. In his field, one does not achieve his level success without great intelligence.

Robert Kardashian - a very successful attorney.

Robert Kardashian – a very successful attorney.

And from what I gather, her mother manages the family so she is no dolt either. We can be certain the children of such people are not dumb, dimwitted or incapable even if they have never heard of a quadratic equation. Intuition and image management will take you much farther in the world of celebrity than book smarts.

I would guess Mr. Kardashian may have had apprehensions about the way things have gone but even a stubborn father could not deny the incredible business success of this daughter. A daughter who by now has likely exceeded the wealth the father obtained doing things the hard way.

So while Ms. Kardashian is doing it better than all the other questionably-moral actors and actresses out there, is she doing it better than someone like Katy Perry?

Yep. Most definitely.

Musicians unlike actors are able to have more control of their earning potential once they’ve achieved mega status. At this point in her career, Ms. Perry most likely needs bigwigs and moneymen as little as Ms. Kardashian. Same with Madonna or U2. But they still work their butts off.

I did not know too much about Ms. Perry before this year but knew she was a star who hit on Tebow and had a nice song about fireworks. Then I saw the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Amazing! What a show. I have two small kids so I have now seen it at least 60 times and it still doesn’t get old. If you want to see a grown man pretending to be liger with a child on his back, shouting “Boom, Boom, Boom” and shooting imaginary fireworks with his hands, then come to my house after dinner. For this average man and his family, this show blew our minds. And guess what, while I have no interest I am 100% certain I will be buying Katy Perry related products in the future because my daughter now adores Ms. Perry. This is called brand building.

katy-perry-super-bowl-15

Undeniably Awesome Show

Ms. Perry deserves it too. That performance was no small feat. Musicians like her or Justin Timberlake work endless hours in rehearsal and practice throughout their youth to get where they are. They sacrificed for success. Them and those around them. Imagine how many people had to work their butts off to put together this Beijing-Olympic style performance just so Ms. Perry could work her butt off to make it an ultimate success. I would not have been able to physically withstand running around a stadium for twelve minutes changing outfits and doing dance routines.

Further, no one could convince me to do the stunt she did at the end. I wonder what the liability insurance is for someone with her earning potential to be strapped to a pyrotechnic star which is flying through a stadium with TV cables everywhere and while internal fireworks are occaisionally being shot off around her.

Best Finale Ever.

Best Finale Ever.

Katy Perry has big balls and so do her insurers. Not only did she pull this stunt off, she absolutely rocked the entire night, including when looking like the most adorably out-of-place-white-girl during Ms. Elliot’s performance. I think at the very end even Ms. Perry was surprised at how well it went. I sure was.

This is what Katy Perry has to go through to grow her brand and create more wealth for herself in the future. She may not have to do stunts often but she will  have to put in long hours of work to be ready to perform at the requisite level. This is not an easy job.

So screw it, why bother with it if you’re Kim Kardashian? She can achieve the same amount of wealth and stardom as Katy Perry without the cardio training, stunts, rehearsals, physical stress, emotional stress and super-frequent travel required for musicians. She puts in a fraction of the effort of someone like Ms. Perry or Mr. Timberlake and still goes farther. To Ms. Kardashian, all the various ways people have worked to obtain fame and wealth are for suckers, not just acting.

Then there is that photoshoot. I love this photoshoot. It was stated Ms. Kardashian takes thousands of selfies to find the best one before posting to social media. Wise image management. However, I do not know if she could ever take a selfie or professional photo better than the two below. Together they are a work of art. Indeed a metaphor for her life, her success and our infatuation.

Kardashian

First, you almost can not help but stare because they are so unique. A symbol of her entire career so far.

Second, there is the obvious nudity and focus on her rear, symbolizing her use of more-risque-than-the-next sex appeal to rise to stardom.

Third, there is the hilarious tounge-in-cheek stupid human trick with the champagne. It is as if she is mocking her haters by saying: “What do you mean I have no talents? Can any of you do this? HA!”  Absolutely perfect.

Finally, there are the expressions on her face. To me, she has a look of jubilant defiance of societal norms. That she has been successful despite what we all thought. That she will continue to do it and there is nothing we can do to stop her. And that she is having a lot of fun too.

In the words of Mr. Sheen: “Winning”

Ms. Kardashian is not going away any time soon. She is here to stay and we might as well enjoy the ride. Because whether we want to accept it or not or whether we would behave in a similar fashion, the reality is Kim Kardashian will always use her greatest asset to remain in the public eye and generate wealth.

Except it is not the famous asset she carries behind her and on which we’ve all been focusing. Rather it is the asset we’ve long pretended does not exist. It is the smart, shrewd and capable one hidden between her ears.

Congratulations, Ms. Kardashian. I am thoroughly impressed.

____________

Major League Soccer, Who Are You?

usa_soccer_world_cupThis ends only in speculation and is an attempt to catalog my thoughts and actions since Thursday. This is long, starts one way, ends another and has no resolution. I warned you.

A few months ago, we started this rambling site to flush out thoughts stuck in our heads and somewhat go on record with our opinions.

The first thing posted was “The Effects of Promotion and Relegation on American Sports”. Just always seemed like such a no brainer. Shortly after joining the site, I dared to venture out to Twitter to see what others think and engage in various discussions. Being new to twitter, I did not know what to expect. I am stunned at the amount of political cartoons (I know how to define hypocrite, thank you) and simple-minded bickering from all sides and every interest group.

However, if you think the political arguments have lost all sense of reason on twitter, I suggest you survey some of the back and forth between those who desire promotion and relegation and those who do not. It is pretty vicious. By example, just take a look at how much Ted Westervelt, @soccerreform, pisses these people off. He may be MLS’ public enemy numero uno. Either him or Jurgen Klinsmann. All because of their support for promotion and relegation: Mr. Westervelt consistently and Mr. Klinsmann occasionally but from an international media platform.

Personally, I do not like spinning my wheels in slow-moving endeavors. The very diligent Mr. Westervelt and the knows-something-about-soccer Mr. Klinsmann hope to change the game by creating public support and therefore putting pressure on MLS from its fans. A fine strategy but not the shortest path between two points in my humble opinion. Especially when confronted with an army of blindly-loyal MLS team fans, MLS employees and access-reliant media members. All of who are willing to waste hours of time with you arguing over of the pros and cons of changing the system.

I have always viewed promotion and relegation as an incredibly undervalued money-maker for all parties: the owners of the league, private team owners, American workers and our government while not even addressing the undeniably positive effect on the quality of play and development.

To me, the best and quickest option to get this done is to show rich people why it makes sense financially for them. And these kinds of people like boring reports with charts and projections and data for them to consider.

So I was going to create a mock business plan. Essentially, I was going to construct a report showing the benefits of:

  • Announcing the creation of open system hierarchy, dictating entry/membership fees, merchandising and TV rights allocations all controlled by MLS;
  • Selling off the teams at current values (as listed by Forbes) with a premium for the large-market established teams and smaller premium for all teams which would be included in the top division in the first year.
  • Using European or East Asian examples, show a representation or template of the fee structure for established teams as well as new entrants.
  • Using European or East Asian examples, provide some kind of real world example to highlight the positive earnings of the league hierarchy year over year.
  • Using NASL/Whomever attendance figures, point out there clearly exists 40 teams ready for a two division national structure in the USA. (Brazil had only two twenty team national divisions until 2009, when they rearranged after too many smaller teams had grown large enough to support increasing the national hierarchy)
  • Propose a regional structure to accommodate new and small teams since the United States is gigantic
  • Using the US Census, project the number of cities able to accommodate a team in such a hierarchy, also projecting the potential number of employees/players/team workers at a rate of 1 team per city.
  • Reflecting that under modest rate of 1 team per eligible city, MLS’ scope would surpass all sports organizations except perhaps NCAA initially.
  • Using plentiful European examples, note the humble facility and player salary requirements necessary to start a successful small club. – America’s high schools would suffice as stadiums for many new teams and they would still have larger capacity than many lower division European counterparts.
  • Noting the benefits of Billionaire Toy Men throughout the open systems of the world. Many individual teams like Real Madrid and Chelsea operate at massive losses because their billionaire owners do not care and are always willing to put more money into their toy. This cash influx strengthens the league and heightens interests by bringing players who would otherwise never come a la HAVE YOU SEEN REAL’S LINEUP AND BENCH!?! IT’S INSANE!!!
  • Reminding that leagues don’t actually care if the teams lose money or dissolve…i.e. no financial risks or worries regarding failing teams. Replacements are ready to fill the gap from the league below if an adjustment is needed. The league still gets paid and controls everything.
  • Finally, doing a lot of math and charts and providing some kind of revenue projection to a company operating the hierarchy alone in America, using whichever modern example I could locate and adjusting as best as I could justify.
  • Showing that while 20 or 25 MLS teams will never compete with aggregate economic market share of any of the big leagues individually (MLB/NHL/NBA/NFL/Liga/EPL/Bundesliga), a hierarchy of hundreds of teams in the USA (1st ever system here) would eventually match their market share and perhaps surpass many of those mentioned, with a rising tide rapidly increasing the value of the larger market or long-established teams. (My plan was to figure this math projection out later or fudge it completely – when you go this far, you do not turn back)
  • Noting the current single-entity structure means only MLS is reasonably capable of implementing such a system in the United States, thus the competitive advantage obtained against MLB/NHL/NBA/NFL would remain for the foreseeable future. The current structure of those leagues as independent corporations and not a single entity makes a conversion to such a system incredibly unlikely. Only when MLS’ wealth surpasses them would any consider changing and the multiple ownership structure would render it difficult even if a portion of their league wanted a switch to match MLS’ competitive advantage. MLS would likely be the sole promotion and relegation system in America for a very, very, long time.
  • EDITED UPDATE – Discussing the political and social benefits as well as the corporate goodwill having America’s first open system would create because of the positive effect on minority ownership in professional sports.

This was the audacious and somewhat crazy plan I hoped would get promotion and relegation going in this country. So as I started thinking about what it would take to write it, I wondered to whom it would be sent.

I decided I would locate the actual majority owner(s) of MLS since nothing is happening without them taking action, either directly or by allowing a sale of the corporation. It’s better to be denied by the real decision maker, even emphatically with them laughing at you, than to never get to ask the question. And I’d prefer an emphatic denial than arguing on twitter forever. Plus, it can be reproduced quickly if someone with sufficient capital power and balls is ever identified and within my meager electronic grasp.

As it is, another unfinished odyssey began.

So who matters in MLS and who doesn’t? And who are the majority owners?

When looking for info on any corporation, start with the best in the business: Bloomberg. MLS LLC is a private corporation so Bloomberg won’t have the data or info comparable to what is displayed for Apple or a public company but they should have something.

While most think Commissioner Garber runs MLS similar to the way Roger Goodoofus runs the NFL, they are very wrong. The NFL is comprised of individual corporations who essentially vote Goodell to be their King. While he can be removed by the actions of the owners together, there is no one above him. And while he is not an owner, he is the one person who is guaranteed to have direct access to and even leverage with every owner.

Commissioner Garber is not that man. He is an employee who may have no access to owners. Though I’m sure he’s aware of the obvious influence of people like Mr. Kraft, he may not even know the exact ownership structure himself. Unlike the NFL or any well-known sports league, MLS LLC is one corporation and its C.E.O is Richard A. Peddie, the former C.E.O. of Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment. At least this is what Bloomberg surprisingly told me.

http://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=4312581

Surprising because there is no mention of this esteemed position on his profiles online or on twitter, where it does list his former work for the Maple Leafs, Raptors, and so forth. (as of date of writing, 3/8)

Searching online was also made more difficult because of the similarity of MLSE (Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment, also an MLS team owner) and MLS itself but it is clear Mr. Peddie’s rule atop the league is obfuscated.

While @thesoccerdon (Commisioner Garber) has 150K twitter followers, the actual don of soccer has only 3K (as of Friday 3/6) and seemingly no one knows how powerful he is within American soccer. I have cousins with more followers. Imagine if Mr. Goodell’s or Mr. Stern’s powerless underlings had 50x the Twitter followers than them.

Nevertheless, someone was located for whom I could plausibly locate a business address and deliver a letter and dupe/convince them to read it. And by some small slither of a World-Cup-hoping chance, maybe the report would go up the ladder rung, only one step now, to the real owners of MLS LLC.

But I still had two questions scratching my curiosity.

  • If Mr. Peddie never gives it the time day (99.X% probable), who are the real owners so I can email bomb/somehow get it to whatever capital corporation they use as vehicle for their bidding (i.e. if it were Warren Buffet, I’d email bomb/certified mail the Board of Directors and various analysts/idea-needy-employees-looking-to-impress at Berkshire Hathaway – not Warren or his family themselves even if I could locate such contact info.) In fact, why not just do my best to go over Peddie’s head straight to the majority owner(s)?

And

  • Why has Mr. Peddie been hiding from what appears to me to be a pretty freaking awesome job? Since I planned to go over his head anyways, I decided to ask him directly. And about a lot of questions about promotion and relegation and MLS LLC.

While he maintains an active twitter account, he ignored me so I checked another favorite corporate site called Corporate Wiki looking for any data or leads.

http://www.corporationwiki.com/New-York/New-York/major-league-soccer-llc/34579837.aspx

You’ll notice MLS LLC is linked to an alternative/sister corp called MLS Partners LLC, which I didn’t think much about at first glance. I did ask Mr. Peddie but he ignored me.

As corporations file reports in many states, a site like Corporate Wiki will pull many duplicates from the public records. Here is the one from Florida:

http://www.corporationwiki.com/New-York/New-York/major-league-soccer-llc-6340548.aspx

Following the information provided, I checked Sunbiz.org, Florida’s Department of State site and located a list of twenty-one corporate directors I refuse to type:

Directors One

Directors Two

It should be intuitively obvious who owns a couple of these corporations but no information on ownership percentages or voting rights is provided.

Since MLS LLC is a large corporation, they get sued and sue people. If you have never been sued, there is this nasty thing called discovery where parties often have to file revealing information into the court system. But guess what, MLS has good lawyers and solid strategy. In every federal case in which they were a defendant (since 2005), they either won on Motion to Dismiss or settled before discovery was due. At least a couple of times with a discovery deadline looming large. There is no recent data on MLS LLC’s structure in the federal court system which I could see.

So next came logic. The voting power within MLS LLC has likely never changed since its inception or rather not significantly. Why would it ever? If you controlled a corporation, the only way you would ever yield voting power to a new investor or another party is if the corporation was struggling and desperately needed a capital infusion or you wanted to spread the risk of failure to others because you are worried. After its initial survival, the default risk of MLS was too low for an owner to consider selling voting stock to avoid financial loss in the event of failure. There is no need to worry about this. If MLS itself were struggling financially at any point, rest assured the billionaires behind the scenes are not. They would merely infuse cash and keep their stake since they themselves, or the parent corporations they control, are not struggling. And even if MLS LLC needed cash to grow or for a capital project, the parent corporations would likely infuse cash rather than yield control to a new investor.

It is a presumption but more than likely, new investors or these “entrepreneur groups” that manage individual teams are only offered restricted/non-voting stock or minor voting interests. There is absolutely no logical reason to ever sell a significant voting interest within MLS. If a potential investor doesn’t like it, tough shit. MLS doesn’t financially need the new investor so much that it would agree to yield power. They’d just wait for another sports-enthused rich guy to come along who’ll happily get paid from a non-voting position and toy around with a team. The World Cup rejuvenates interest in MLS every four years, anyways.

So in searching for the original owners and limiting Google to hits before 1997, the best thing I could find was this Fifa news report about the new MLS league.

http://www.fifa.com/world-match-centre/news/newsid/714/11/index.html

Investors:

Boston: Robert and Jonathan Kraft; Columbus: Hunt family and a group of Columbus investors; Denver: Philip Anschutz; Kansas City: Hunt family and a group of Kansas City investors; Los Angeles: LA Soccer Partners, presided over by Marc Rapaport; New York/New Jersey: John Kluhe and Stuart Subotnick; Washington D.C.: Washington Soccer, L.P., led by API and presided over by Kevin Payne.Dallas, San Jose and Tampa as yet have no investors and may have to be financially supported by the league itself.

Going through the names, the biggest hitters I can tell are:

  • The Anschutz Family and therefore The Anschutz Corporation (mega-big, private), led by Chairman of the Board and owner Philip Anschutz. (TAC is in Denver but Los Angeles is Mr. Anschutz home/sports focus)
  • The Kraft Family and therefore The Kraft Group (mega-big, private), led by Chairman of the Board and owner Robert Kraft. (Boston)
  • The Hunt Family and therefore the Hunt Sports Group, LLC (mega-big, private) led by family patriarch Clark Hunt, son of departed Lamar Hunt and grandson of oil tycoon H.L Hunt (Columbus, Kansas City, Dallas)

The other guys are rich too but there is no way the three above handed over any amount of money without significant control from inception. Also, The Hunt Family and Anschutz Family are related together through a marriage so while I don’t know how independent/connected their interests are, we can assume at least some kind of close or amicable relationship regarding MLS. With Mr. Kraft as well but he does not appear to be as closely connected as Mr. Anschutz and Mr. Hunt are to each other.

It is clear promotion and relegation will not happen in America unless it is done by one of the three parent corporations controlled by these men or them in unison. There is no point in arguing with Alexi Lalas, whose brother is MLS editor-in-chief, or any media member connected to or paid by MLS. It is not their fault either: employees do not get to rock the boat of their own company. Go try it yourself and see how well it goes.

At this point, I was relatively certain I had located the entities who were more than mere minority holders with voting rights but rather the exact majority owners. Granted, the whole thing may also be owned by Lord Rothschild, the Ayatollah and Kim Jong-Un but it appears there is no way anything happens in MLS without the three above letting it happen.

There is also slight empirical evidence supporting this on the pitch. Is it a marvelous coincidence the hometown teams of these power brokers over-perform in MLS? Admittedly, twenty years is a not a large sample but MLS is a single-entity structure with player allocation rules and restrictions designed to provide parity. It is portrayed as pure competition but it is a toy they own and if they so desire they can subtly do as they please. While no one can control who scores a goal, it is essentially the WWF version of soccer. Go Wizards! Go Revolution! Go Galaxy!

I should have stopped here and started the report.

But what the heck is MLS Partners, LLC?

http://www.corporationwiki.com/p/2espfd/mls-partners-llc

(originally created in Delaware on 2/19/2014 but also recorded in California)

Corporations start other corporations all the time for various reasons. They are easy to start. So since first seeing it, I just presumed it does something ordinary and trite.

But I could not stop wondering. I could not find any news about it either and corporate wiki says it was only created last year. If the NFL started a joint corporation or venture, or does anything anywhere, there is always at minimum an online press release followed by an army of click-needy sports sites. Yet I could find nothing and the cross-references with other entities drowned out every search.

It does not appear to be an owner or part of MLS LLC but rather MLS LLC appears it may be an owner of it. So I tweeted Mr. Peddie, who I had been peppering with tweets and questions as well as Commissioner Garber hoping they’d respond if even a no comment. I would have pinned your ‘no comment’, Mr. Peddie.

After being sufficiently annoyed by my repeated questions and tweets, Mr. Peddie simply blocked me. They could have just said it was a marketing vehicle or anything bland and I’d probably left it alone. I pondered starting a new handle just to ask him more questions but thought he may at this point wrongfully construe me to be some kind of stalker.

When you are in a rabbit hole, sometime you fail to see what is going on overtly at the surface. I had completely forgotten MLS is negotiating a collective bargaining agreement, which will dictate exactly how everyone gets paid going forward.

Early in my career, I was at an organization under going such a negotiation and I wanted to be on the union team even if just to learn. This was a good-guy, for-the-people type of organization too. To bystanders and myself going in, you would have thought they’d behave appropriately.

Immediately, management said they are struggling financially and we’d all have to accept no raises rather than what was provided in the past plan. They bellowed and whined in a self-righteous manner about how all of our jobs are so valuable and we should be so happy to not be searching like all the other unfortunate souls out there.

We asked politely to see a current account statement of all accounts and tax returns for two years so that we could be sure the corporation was struggling to a point where we would need to accept their horrible first offer. Let’s just say we did not get good looks from across the table that day. They did not expect this request and because they had brought nothing, we had to adjourn. The next day, they brought a budget from an excel spreadsheet and said this is “the situation”. We advised a budget is useless in determining health unless we can see the actual results and pre-projections of last year’s budget to compare as well as the documents demanded yesterday. We adjourned again but without rescheduling a date to continue. Annoyed, we searched ourselves and obtained five years of tax records because they had a hidden reporting requirement with a particular agency that maintained an active website we could access publicly.

Guess what? The mofos were lying through their teeth. The organization was in awesome financial health and negotiations ended with a properly increased raise plan rather than what they wanted.

This is how bargaining negotiations go. One side hides the ball to project a worse financial situation to get a better deal. Imagine yourself as a tourist in a market overseas: You do not let the merchant know how much money is in your pocket when negotiating the price of whatever you want to buy. Same principle applies.

MLS LLC was the stand-alone umbrella corporation for all of Major League Soccer since 1995. In 2014, they founded/became involved with a sister corporation, MLS Partners, whose purpose is totally unknown. In 2015, they undertook extremely valuable collective bargaining negotiations with the players union. I still believe in the high probability MLS Partners is completely innocuous. I would not be able to conceive the size of the balls of these guys otherwise. Enron-ish. But the timing is definitely curious and modestly suspicious.

So after all this and getting distracted from my original purpose of doing a report to convince rich men to see an obvious light, I am left wondering if MLS would dare commit large-scale commercial manipulation (fraud?). Doing it so they would be able to present the Players Union with financial statements from MLS LLC which would be stamped, signed and audited appropriately but not showing the full picture of the organization.

All of this can be resolved with one question to the Players Union: Do you know of MLS Partners, its purpose or its financials and did you know prior to getting strong-armed?

EDITED 4/8(((: Of course, no one in MLS is going to answer me no matter how many times I ask. And the Players Union has not responded either despite my emails, phone calls, tweets and various attempts. Deadspin and Gawker media advised they would seek an answer, along with others, but no response from either MLS or MLSPU has been made known. )))

Depending on what the answer is (and if it is ever received), this could go several different ways. Some of them would not be good for many people. I hope it was disclosed and not another casually ignored secret like Mr. Peddie’s role as C.E.O. of MLS LLC, as indicated by Bloomberg News as of 3/8/15. Or the other secret regarding the exact ownership structure of MLS LLC.

But maybe, just maybe we will find what is going on within MLS and why the organization sanctioned as division one in America operates so shadily.

_________

As for the business plan, it will have to sit for a while. If some college finance major or graduate student would like to do it as a project, you’d get an A from me. Also, please let me borrow it if you don’t mind.

Finally, if you desire to make an attempt to change the system here in America, I suggest you speak in terms of $$$ rather than sense. That is all these people care about. Do not hate. It is normal.

___________

Edit: Fraser vs MLS discussed the structure in 2002. There is no reason to think this has changed. And as MLS became profitable, it is even less likely to change.   Fraser - MLS structure 1Fraser - MLS structure 2

————————

Excalibur’s Women – The Victim and a Hidden God

Excalibur – Part II

A few observations and theories on two characters cast in a negative light throughout John Boorman’s masterpiece: Morgana and Guinevere. The movie like most of literature portrays women as the root of the problem. Or does it say something else about these two?

Concepts of duality and equality abound within the movie. Particularly the duality of man also characterized as ‘the battle within oneself.’ This is best exemplified by the character Lancelot who struggles internally throughout and later dies of a self-inflicted wound. However this central theme overlays into the other characters as well. Essentially and being overly simple we must beware that good begets evil and evil begets good. They cannot be separated. Further, within this dual concept things are often paired and not individual.

So who are the women and what do they represent? We know Morgana is paired with Merlin and Guinevere is wife to Arthur. But what they represent or what is their true role within the story is trickier to discern.

First Morgana: Morgana Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Just as I wondered who is the real hero and decided it was Perceval (Part I), I wonder who is the real villain? Is there a real villain? I am not so sure.

Morgana as counter wizard to Merlin and mother to Mordred appears as the main villain for most of the movie. She is certainly portrayed as one evil woman.

But step into her shoes. Or rather the shoes of five-year old Morgana. From her perspective her father Cornwall was an equal combatant to Uther. So much so even after Uther wielded Excalibur, Cornwall was still given “all the land from here to the sea”, which apparently was sizable since Cornwall was happy. Then Merlin and Uther conspire to kill her father, have Uther rape her mother and have Merlin steal her baby brother. No five year old or her parents deserve this fate.

Merlin

Murderous conspirator.

To her, quite reasonably and truthfully Merlin ruined her life. More so had Merlin given Excalibur to Cornwall (who is not portrayed as big of a jackass as Uther), her father would be King and she would be in line to be Queen. Yet the treacherous jerk Merlin arbitrarily and wrongly gave an ordained magic tool to her father’s opponent in what was otherwise an equal fight.

There is no possible way anyone, even Mother Theresa, could forgive and forget this.

Also, Morgana is incredibly intelligent and observant. She knew during the rape of her mother Uther was not Cornwall, meaning she could intuitively see through the silly illusions of Merlin’s magic as a child.

She then created an ambitious plan to take Merlin’s powers the same way Merlin stole her happy future. Through deceit. Morgana did not create herself. Like Eve from the rib of Adam, Merlin begat Morgana. She is the equal and dual reflection of Merlin the manipulator.

Similar to Merlin, Morgana never aspires to be Queen or ruler but rather to control who becomes the king. Like Merlin ordaining Excalibur to Uther and then grooming Arthur, Morgana ordains Mordred to be invincible to mortal weapons and grooms him. She like Merlin uses magic to serve the self-interests of her favored people with no regard of the negative consequences or collateral damage done to others. And of course Merlin and Morgana are the cause of each other’s ultimate demises. Morgana:Merlin

She and Merlin are two sides of the same coin, bound together forever. But while Merlin is the one who dragged her on to the coin, she bears the burden of being deemed evil while also being the first one evilly wronged. One side portrayed white. The other black.  But in reality equal and the same. This is the essence of her speech to Merlin as she eternally traps him in ice.

Further, her duping of Arthur to begat an heir is a smart attempt to set right the wrongs of others. Incest was common among crazy royals as pure bloodlines mattered to support legitimate claims to the throne. By sleeping with Arthur she tied the two families (Cornwall and Uther) together into a single heir. Mordred is the only grandchild of both the original combatants for the throne with only one grandmother.

To Morgana, Mordred’s ascension to the throne would have as best as possible nullified the crimes done by Merlin and Uther. Remember Morgana’s answer to Mordred when he asks if she has any message for her ‘dear brother’ Arthur? She responds: “You are my message.” Perfect. Morgana Mordred Morgana may have been the only character thinking clearly in the entire movie. Yet like Medusa we are supposed to hate her. Left with no justice, Morgana got shafted.

Now Guinevere: Guinevere ArthurGuinevere does not have much screen time in the movie so there is little material to interpret. Most symbolism in her character lies in the love triangle and betrayal.

We cannot blame her for sleeping with Lancelot. It was Arthur who betrayed her love and their marriage by refusing to defend Guinevere’s honor against Gawain’s untrue accusation. Arthur’s self-righteous arrogance resulted in Lancelot doing a sacred job which must be reserved for a husband. How could Arthur not stand up for his wife and expect her not to give her love to the man who is willing and almost does die for her? Especially when the man is way more talented and cooler than Arthur. Just as Morgana is intelligent, Arthur is an idiot.

His stubborn refusal to honor his wife is the largest error of judgment in the film. It also resulted in Perceval becoming a Knight, Lancelot wounding himself and Merlin using magic to let Lancelot’s love of Guinevere keep him alive despite the wound. Going forward remember that Arthur’s placement of his laws over her love was the catalyst for the “Things Fall Apart” portion of the movie.

Lancelot doing Arthur's job.

Lancelot doing Arthur’s job.

Back to Guinevere.

Regardless of the essays which could be written about each character or the love triangle, Guinevere is God. And probably more so than Arthur or any other character. Crazy but hear me out.

We are told Arthur is the Lord. Or the representation of a God on Earth. Jesus-like. When Perceval takes the Grail, they come out and say so. This always bothered me since Arthur is an overly fallible fool. Surely God can do better.

Now, the movie is named after a very special sword. As delineated above, the fate of all characters was determined by who got to hold Excalibur and only a few did.

But importantly, how did they get it? Pulling Excalibur Famously, Arthur gets the sword by pulling it from the stone many years after Uther thrust it there.

Excluding the stone, the sword is “given” twice from a supernatural or magical character: The Lady of the Lake first to Merlin and then to Arthur. These are the only two occasions the sword is “given” or ordained in the movie.

There are also only three instances where the sword is handed from Arthur to another. First to Kay after Arthur pulls the sword and to which Kay quickly returns Excalibur. Then Arthur to Uryens to knight and crown Arthur and later to Perceval to return it to the lake. It should be noted when Kay, Uryens and Perceval are first handed Excalibur, they all have other thoughts about its potential use. Yet as if compelled, they are all quickly faithful to the will of sword’s rightful master, Arthur. Clearly, this is a unique sword for which mere mortals are not capable or permitted to wield.

Regarding the stone, no one was able to pull the thing from that infernal rock. No matter how hard they tried for years, the strongest men around could not budge Excalibur one millimeter. This is an important lesson we already knew: when an authorized user sticks Excalibur into stone, it can only be pulled out by another authorized user. Not even Merlin or Morgana could pull the sword from the stone. Only a deity, semi-deity or a representation of God on Earth like King Arthur.

And Guinevere of course. Didn’t anyone notice?

Before I was a certain age which will remain undisclosed, my favorite scene in this movie was what I happily referred to as “Naked Guinevere!”

One sexy goddess.

One sexy goddess.

As we all know, her and Lancelot get it on before Arthur shows up and finds them sleeping. Arthur then abandons Excalibur by sticking it between them, Lancelot runs away and Guinevere cries around the sword. Then everything falls apart until Perceval saves everyone and Guinevere returns Excalibur to Arthur.

Wait! She did what!?!

As a naive youth, what bothered me most about the sexy betrayal scene was the choice of location. Lancelot had been to this place before and it was apparent in both scenes it is full of jagged rock and stone covered in moss. No comfortable areas. Why not do it on the soft grass just over yonder? Is it a simple and obvious ‘love on the rocks’ metaphor? This seems unnecessary under the circumstances. Rather, Mr. Boorman probably chose his locations very carefully.

Excalibur Lancelot Guinevere

This is not a bed of roses.

When Arthur abandons Excalibur, the ground shakes and Merlin agonizingly screams “into the spine of the Dragon!” This was not a normal event – the dragon did not mind too much when Uther lost Excalibur. We can be certain Arthur did not put Excalibur into dirt or clay or sand. He definitely put it into stone. As explained, only very special people can pull this thing out of a rock. Basically, only Arthur (God) and not Merlin, Morgana or any other characters.

Yet without any explanation, we learn at the end diminutive and weak-armed Guinevere yanked it out without a problem. And unlike Kay, Uryens or Perceval, she did whatever she wanted with it with no regard of the wishes of Arthur, who later wondered of its location. In her case, she wrapped it up for twenty years as if it was a minor trinket or memento to store away while most of the characters died.

Guinevere is an authorized user of Excalibur. She is not merely Arthur’s wife. She is no less than a God.

Perhaps the one true God.

I stated Excalibur is “given” throughout the movie at crucial points only by the Lady of the Lake, a symbol of Paganism. Lady of Lake Well, not exactly. When Arthur abandoned Excalibur, for all intents and purposes, it was forever lost as no one knew where it was.

After Perceval found the Grail, Arthur rode out to fight Mordred without Excalibur yet Mordred was invincible to mortal weapons. Without his sword, Arthur and his army would assuredly lose. Excalibur had to be “given” one more time.

Another theme throughout the movie is the change from Paganism to Catholicism. In the beginning Excalibur is given by a Pagan God. However, the final time Excalibur is “given” to Arthur, it is bestowed by a representation of the Catholic God, thus continuing the transition of religions.

Where has Guinevere been all these years? A Catholic church: the House of God. When Arthur enters the room to see his wife after twenty years, she is standing in almost the exact position and under a similar cross as was the “Lord Arthur” during Percerval’s Holy Grail scene. Yet humbly with no flair or bright lights and music.

Notice Guinevere only reveals she kept Excalibur after Arthur apologizes for his dumb actions throughout the movie. His final confession. Without which she apparently would have let him ride to defeat. So with triumphal music sneaking in, Excalibur wrapped in pure white cloth is “given” to Arthur by a symbol of God: Arthur’s better half and wife, Guinevere.

More so, Arthur’s “It is a dream I have” speech and final loving words to his wife read perfectly as his prayer Guinevere will accept him into Her eternal Kingdom of Heaven.

(Video starts after apology/confession)

We have written of the symbolism of Arthur’s death and Perceval’s survival in the other post. Essentially, God is gone and has left us in charge. It is quite a declaration yet fitting end for a movie like this. However, is Arthur the true God? He made enough errors of judgment to certainly doubt his divinity and he departs along with Excalibur, the last existing symbol of the ancient Pagan Gods.

No one kills Guinevere. No one is looking for her and no one is her enemy in the movie. It was the failure to honor Her which caused the downfall of every character but we have no reason to believe she has been or ever shall be in any danger. At the end, all the nobles and magical characters are gone except only her and Perceval, common man.

Finally we can be assured that noble Perceval, the worthy peasant who rose to Knighthood by bravely defending Guinevere’s honor and whose perseverance of faith was rewarded with the Holy Grail, will forever dutifully serve his Queen.  Even if never comprehending Her true power over his world.

While common man thinks he is alone, God hides in plain sight. At the most obvious of locations but in a form he least expects. Yet as if masterfully manipulated,  the one particular form he has always honored and loved. The one form he shall never fail to serve.

Behold the Almighty.   Nice halo.

Behold the Almighty.
Nice halo too.

END

___________________

You bent my mind, Boorman!

Now, I’m gonna have to read “Le Morte D’Arthur” to get all of this out of my head once and for all.

The (Not So) Hidden Hero of Excalibur

excalibur-51

Excalibur – Part I

I love the movie Excalibur. A squire pulling the sword from the stone. The tale of Lancelot. The quest for the Holy Grail and the final embrace of father and son. And never forget the epic and triumphal music. This movie is my knowledge of King Arthur’s tale. John Boorman’s version of this myth will forever suffice for this non-Brit.

The more I watched this polyphonic film, the more I questioned who is the real hero. Eventually, I decided this movie is less about Arthur or Merlin or Lancelot or anything they represent and more about someone else. I am no film buff so perhaps this was noticed by more astute observers upon first screenings but it only became apparent to me over time.

The story of Excalibur is a better tale about Perceval. One of the Knights of the Round Table, many people do not remember his name.

Perceval is not on any posters.

Perceval is not on any posters.

The more you think about it the more you realize he is the only character worth a damn in the whole film. And he is not introduced until the middle.

I break this movie into six acts:

Act I:  Backstory with Uther and Merlin and Arthur’s birth

Act II: Arthurs wields Excalibur and becomes King, saving LeondeGrance.

Act III: Introduction of Lancelot and Marriage to Guinevere

Act IV:  Betrayal and Things Fall Apart

Act V:  Quest for the Holy Grail

Act VI: Redemption and Final Battle, Conclusion.

Only Merlin, Arthur and Morgana span all acts in some form.

On first glance, you would probably list the main characters as: Arthur, Merlin, Lancelot, Morgana, Guinevere, Mordred and Uther before going further.

Let us examine these main characters, dispensing first of the two main villains:

Morgana: Wronged in childhood, Merlin and Uther killed daddy and it made her evil. Nothing else need be said. (Except here)

Modred: Incestuous, power hungry, murderous, heathen offspring of Morgana and Arthur. Demon child. Pure evil.

And the potential protagonists:

Uther: Undeniable dirtbag. Merlin basically hands him the thrown by giving him Excalibur and has to teach him how to make peace with Cornwall. A peace which lasts for less than a day. Minutes after making a blood oath, Uther lusts after Cornwall’s wife. He then gets Merlin to cast some magic to lure Cornwall out of his castle and kill him while he rapes the lady in front of her daughter Morgana. Wonderful guy this King is. He got what he deserved. Thrusting the sword in the stone is a cool way to go out though.

Guinevere: Has essentially one job in the whole movie: DO NOT SCREW LANCELOT! Screws Lancelot and things fall apart. Her redemption is she held on to Excalibur for Arthur. (And so much more)

Don't do it!!!

Don’t do it!!!

Lancelot: The perfect knight with the perfect flaw. Worships Arthur even though he knows Arthur cheated to win their duel. Then becomes useless as he will not come to Camelot since he can not stop lusting over his best friend’s wife. After he screws Guinevere, he goes AWOL for twenty years while things fall apart and then tries to kill Perceval because Perceval has the audacity to come near him. Only comes back at the very end when all the characters are redeemed of the crap they pulled during the movie. It should be noted no one actually kills Lancelot. He appropriately dies from a self-inflicted wound.

Merlin: Unquantifiable idiot whose conceited manipulations spawned the whole fiasco. He gives Excalibur to the arrogant tyrant Uther. He helps Uther rape Cornwall’s wife, getting Cornwall killed in the process and all the while bartering a child with the rapist. Mind you it was Merlin who convinced Uther to make peace with Cornwall in the first place. Duplicitous. He does not ever seem to worry Morgana may want revenge for killing her father even though he confessed his role to Morgana’s mother when he took baby Arthur. Instead, he is deceived like a giant doofus because Morgana shakes her behind at him, getting forever locked in an ice tomb after giving up all his secrets. Like everyone, gets redeemed at the end. This movie could legitimately be retitled “The Errors of Merlin.”

The foreseeing Wizard did not foresee a problem with this.

The foreseeing Wizard did not foresee a problem with this.

Arthur: Incompetent squire. Goes from humble king to arrogant king in minutes breaking Excalibur in a fight with Lancelot. Does not notice his best friend ogling his wife at every chance and vice versa. Lets people talk crap about his wife and does nothing before she actually screws Lancelot. She then screws Lancelot and he still does nothing except give up Excalibur and be pathetically depressed. Gets easily duped into sleeping with Morgana, hell-spawning Modred. Lets the land fall into disrepair and becomes a genuinely worthless sack of potatoes for twenty years while Morgana and Mordred rampage about. Is always reliant on Merlin for advice and Excalibur for fighting. Sends all the knights on a pompous quest to find the grail for his own purposes, causing the brutal death of every knight but one. After the battle saving LeondeGrance, everything about Arthur reeks of failure and arragance. Until of course he is handed the Holy Grail while decrepitly laying on his throne. He then redeems himself and gets a totally underserved king of kings sendoff.

There is not one worthy hero in this entire lot. Just flawed people who create problems.

So who is the best hero in this movie of heroes?

Perceval. He of perseverance.

This guy.

This guy.

It is clear. Some clues should be (w)holy obvious but we will go in order of the movie.

First, Perceval is the only character who could plausibly represent the viewer or common man. Every character from the onset is either ordained nobility, mysterious Lancelot, a more mysterious lady in a lake, a villain (also ordained nobility) or Merlin. There are no common man characters in the entire film except him. Perceval was not a knight or empowered by lakes or magic. He was a young peasant scrub when Lancelot came upon him. He convinced Lancelot to take him as a squire by showing skill in the forest, successfully shadowing an otherwise fearsome knight for a time and even hunting and cooking while the great Lancelot slept. This is called earning a job through merit and ambition. He then ran all the way to Camelot rather than ride piggy back. This is impressively nutzoid determination to prove worth to an employer. Who would not hire such a man?

Knighting of Perceval

Knighting of Perceval

Second, he earns knighthood through courage, valor and adherence to duty in the face of death. When Gawain challenged the Queen’s honor before her affair with Lancelot, not one of Arthur’s supposedly loyal or brave knights would rise to his challenge and Lancelot was nowhere to be found. Lowly Perceval did not know what was going on or, frankly, give a hoot. He only knew his King was asking for someone to defend his Queen’s honor. Not to know why but to do or die. Arthur did not know Perceval’s name when he knighted him. It was irrelevant because his qualities already showed. This dude leapt on a horse with no armor ready to brazenly charge at what appeared to be certain death against a heavily armored and studly-young Liam Niesson. And more so, Perceval looked on it as if he had won an award. A squire bravely fulfilling a knight’s duty is how a squire becomes a knight. Perceval is a balls-out kind of man. Of course, Lancelot finally showed up to take care of his own mess, sparing Perceval a needless and unjust death. Or sparing Gawain perhaps.

Third and most obvious is Perceval succeeds in the Quest for The Holy Grail and is the only character worthy of speaking with God. Twice actually since he failed on his first attempt to answer the Almighty questions and therefore had to continue the quest.

Act V is the story of the persecution and perseverance of Perceval. The Knights of the Round Table all starve, freeze or are slain in battles but Perceval carries on. They fall to the hallucinogenic temptations of Morgana but Perceval somehow resists. He does however receive good fortune when the boot spur of a dead friend cuts his noose. A little help from heavenly above for the one character who deserves to receive such timely and divine assistance.

large_excalibur_blu-ray_10

God’s scene is not too important. It is a bit glib with God asking Perceval about the purpose of life and the Grail and our hero responding “to serve Arthur/The Lord.” Do no begrudge Mr. Boorman or anyone for this. It is difficult to write God well so it is best to leave it a simple statement about Percival understanding the meaning of his life (to serve his Lord Arthur) and move along to the rest of movie.

It is the preceding scene which carries more meaning. After seeing Uryens killed and totally hopeless knowing he is the last knight, Perceval comes upon a desolate valley with lowly people around a river. There he sees old, filthy, haggard and despondent Lancelot along with a group of poor souls doing nothing useful with their lives. Seeing his former boss and assumed greatest of knights, Perceval begs Lancelot to return to help save Arthur. Perceval thinks they need the awesome abilities of Lancelot to find the Grail. Perceval pleads with Lancelot to keep faith in Arthur and Lancelot promptly throws Perceval into the river to drown.

Great juxtaposition, Lancelot represents the best mortal men believed could be attained. As Gawain said, “is there anyone here who doesn’t think him a God?” If anyone thought he was more than a God it would have been Perceval, his former squire. For Perceval especially, Lancelot would represent the limit of human ability and courage. If Lancelot could not do it, then it could not be done.

And for his dedication to the Round Table and after twenty years of honoring a knightly quest Lancelot has ignored, Perceval is rewarded with a horrible death by the Round Table’s greatest knight, Lancelot himself. Further, since he is the last knight Perceval knows Evil will win upon his death. But no matter the circumstance or how hopelessly dejected Perceval appears, this man never quits.

Drowning and weighted down by the knightly armor whose worth he thought paramount, Perceval sheds this unholy burden by dumping it on the river bed where it belongs. Practically naked but free, Perceval finally rises ready to meet God. Not as a self-rigteous Knight of the Round Table but the mere and worthy man he has always been. This time, after his long persecution and continued perseverance and with clairvoyance of purpose, he nails without hesitation the old fogey’s questions on the first try. He takes the grail and still half-naked goes straight to pathetic Arthur, restoring the King’s clairvoyance of purpose and setting in motion the final battle which redeems the other characters.

Excalibur_Final_Battle_Arthur_Mordred_Percival_1981

The Final Embrace

Fortunately, Perceval is properly rewarded in the final scenes after an awesome battle. The good guys sacrifice to extinguish evils they themselves created throughout the film, dying brave deaths. No one is left after this brutal slaughter of two armies. No one except somehow Perceval. Of course, how fitting and deserved. The one survivor is our common man. The only man worthy of meeting God twice and living to tell the tale. Perceval’s whole story is akin to the ‘meek who shall inherit the Earth’. Well done, Boorman!

As much meaning as there is in the rise-to-God scene and Perceval’s ultimate survival, there is also as much in the sparse dialogue between dying Arthur and Perceval. King Arthur tells Perceval to throw Excalibur into the lake and Perceval tries but thinks against it. He pleads with Arthur that “other men” may need to wield the mighty sword to fight future evils. Arthur tells him when the need comes the sword will again return and commands him to toss it into the lake. Arthur is subtedly telling Perceval or rather common man he does not need help to rule this realm. With his dying breaths, Arthur finally speaks a wise truth though Perceval struggles to realize it and still doubts his future despite surviving everything he has already been through.

Keep it!

Keep it!

Now this is the great Excalibur for which everyone battled throughout the movie, forged at the dawn of time or whatever Merlin said. Very few people would have given it up. Not you, probably. Certainly not me. But unlike most, he is truly noble. He takes the greatest weapon ever known and epically heaves Excalibur into the lake to be never seen again. Perceval, the peasant scrub casually introduced in the middle and who at end is the highest and mightiest man in all the land, will be fine without ordained tools or the ordained themselves. Even if he fears what may come, our man will perservere.

As credits roll, King Arthur and all of his fantastical brethren have been rightfully cast off. Their show is done. Only he remains and it could only have been him. Invictus Perceval. Brave and righteous. The (not-so) hidden hero of John Boorman’s Excalibur.

——————-

Your Tattoo Is Lame

[[[EDITED UPDATE:

TO THOSE WITH TATTOOS: STOP! STOP! STOP!

It has come to my attention a couple of times now that some people really do not like this post. I understand these sentiments.  Just click away now…..I am serious.

Have a great day!

smiley_face

Stubborn, eh? Well, if you insist, make sure you read the opening line and first paragraph again after you are done. And to be honest, do not get too upset about what one anonymous blowhard on the internet says about a tattoo he has never seen. Screw that guy! is what I would think, personally.  Nevertheless, I did my best to prevent myself from gratuitously making you angry while you most likely procrastinate from work. Govern yourselves accordingly.]]]

So begins a mean and hypocritically judgmental post…

As we look around there are fewer and fewer individuals and more and more drones wishing they were clones. One indicator is the presence of a tattoo. Not all tattoos but most nowadays. And further the tattoo is not conclusory but only evidence.

Some tattoos are totally appropriate. Religious or cultural marks of expression are common and we can not begrudge Samoans and the like. We also understand if you have joined a high-risk team, close-knit unit or profession such as the military or other emergency personnel. If you find yourself in a situation where you rely on the talents and skills of others to stay alive, go ahead and proudly get a tattoo if it will make everyone happy and add to team cohesion.

Acceptable for purposes of staying alive.

Acceptable for purposes of staying alive.

We will not address all the deceased and departed tattoos or portraits of children and wives.  While we go the photo-in-wallet route, people grieve and love in different ways even though these remembrance tattoos never do the person justice. Usually they are hideous.

But other than these limited situations, we do not see the point anymore. There was a time when those who had tattoos were rebels of society. Looked down upon and feared by the average sap in public even if the fear was unfounded. Sporting a tattoo back then meant not caring about society’s rules and stating you shall do things your own way. These were the tattoos worth having.

Not anymore. Tramp stamps, inspirational quotes, meaningless Chinese characters and artistic portraits are the norm. Who are these people?

Heck, we don’t know what interests we’ll have next year and are baffled why people think there can be a single image or message they would want to look at in a mirror for the rest of their lives. Even worse, an image or message they feel encapsulates them so perfectly it has been sacredly chosen to be their slogan or mantra to the outside world forever. This is near-sighted narcissistic nonsense.

We laugh harder at you.

We laugh harder at you.

We have a list of quotes here and there are several great ones. For instance, one of our favorites is “ye shall know the truth and it shall make you free”. Damn good quote. Yet despite its awesomeness, we are pretty sure we’d be sick of looking at it on day three. Our friends would tire of seeing it faster. Same goes for any artwork. Even the Mona Lisa and especially the Mike Tyson-esque tiger stripes people are putting all over their body.

Another are Chinese characters. Whereas you can at least decipher the meaning of some lame quote or interpret a photo, we are certain there is a large percentage of people with characters on their back which are either drivel or an insult like “I am a ding-dong”. And deservedly so.

Chinese Meaning: unknown English Meaning: Idiot

Chinese Meaning: unknown
English Meaning: Idiot

These god-awful tattoos of every variety are on everyone everywhere now. I see tattoos on the ankles of lawyers and lower backs of teachers. Where we live we have reached the point of when we meet someone our age, we expect a tattoo and are genuinely surprised if they do not have one. For nitwitted millennials and those a little older, getting a stupid tattoo has become some kind of right of passage. Almost like driving a car or voting.

Worse, most of these people know it is a bad idea because they always tell you “I can get it removed later”. If already in your head, perhaps the tattoo is not a good idea in the first place. That it can be removed later is awful, naive and glib thinking. Why undertake totally fruitless actions which can only be reversed by spending a lot of money and going through lengthy, uncomfortable processes? Why not get a temporary tattoo or henna which can be redone every couple of weeks until maturity finally arrives? These people are basically saying they are fine with needlessly punishing their future selves because they refuse to exercise any current wisdom.

Temporary Tattoo. All the art with no eternal regret.

Temporary Tattoo. All the art with no eternal regret.

Knowing it is a bad decision, some people hedge their bets by getting the tattoo in a place where it cannot be seen. Lawyers and other professionals often fit into this category. These people are the worst and this is despite the fact they are already lawyers. Worse than tramp stampers or Chinese characters wearers. From what we gather they are having trouble figuring out with which aspects of society to conform. Unsure of whether being cool is really cool, they hop on both sides of the fence. Of course, there is always the reality they or their loved one still have to look at the ugly thing day in and day out.

Further, by not showing the tattoo in public these people only create uncomfortable situations for themselves going forward. It becomes an unintentional secret. All the people they will meet develop an image of them from what is presented and what is presented is without tattoo. Then the company beach party or friendly picnic happens and everyone gets to see the giant Elmo tattoo or ridiculous dragon Gary has on his back. Friends and co-workers will come up and say “I didn’t know you had a tattoo” and will tell him its nice but most of them are lying. Don’t believe what people let on publicly because they turn right around to us and mock Gary privately.  To be sure, we tell Gary what we think to his face because we like Gary.

Oh, Gary...you moron.

Oh, Gary…you moron.

For example, we know a 19 year old girl who just left for college. Incredibly sweet and kind person who we all love very much. Family. But before she left, she got a tattoo on the back of her neck of some saying we cannot remember exactly. To paraphrase: Only the strong survive. Or something to this effect but with several needless words. As we immediately told her when we saw it, we will help pay for its removal when she wisens up. We mentioned to her that those who exhibit mental fortitude do not write reminders about mental fortitude on themselves. They just exhibit it and let actions be their statement to the world. We also advised we could have scribbled a message into her skin to see if she would like it first. Didn’t matter. The tattoo was “too cool” and she needed it now.

Worse, her sixteen year old sister has already confided she wants a tattoo as soon as the law allows. Horrifyingly, she intends to get a sleeve from shoulder to wrist on one arm. DA FUQ? We presume gone are the aspirations of being any kind of respected professional. And don’t give us the horseshit about changing the world so tattoo’ed, sleeved-armed professionals are the norm in the future. We have never met a lawyer, judge, or doctor who has a sleeve tattoo and if we did, we would seriously question their reasoning. Honestly, what can you do to talk sense to these people? They must screw themselves up in order to learn.

This is not the arm of a doctor.

This is not the arm of a doctor.

At least it is not a tramp stamp. The main purpose of a tramp stamp is to draw attention to a woman’s ass and trust us that men are already noticing her ass without the stamp. Another reason for these stamps are to give someone something to look at when doing it like they do on the discovery channel (love that song). It is called a tramp stamp for a reason. And if this is what we (and society) figure, this is what the stampee’s future children will figure out. What a nice and subtle lesson for the kids. Of course, if she has not already paid boatloads of money to have it removed so her children do not wonder whether mommy was a slut but still know she lacked good judgment.

Nothing can be said for such slutty stupidity

Nothing can be said for such slutty stupidity

For saying the truth, this girl does gets our respect. Not for being an unashamed slut though. There are plenty of those.

Then there is the face tattoo. Personally, there is nothing worse than a face tattoo. If part of a military unit and everyone was getting one, we would take the risk of pissing everyone off and being put on point perpetually to eventually get killed. However, we do actually have respect for those with face tattoos. Not the dots or tiny stars by eyelids (facial tramp stamps) but the full on repugnant face tattoos.  Although hideously ugly, these people clearly don’t give a shit what others think. That courage even if horrendously misguided onto their face can be a good thing in life. It could also mean they are a murderous whacko but you don’t need a face tattoo to be one of those.

I dare you to tell this man the truth about the raiders!

I dare you to tell this man the truth about the raiders.

So in summation: unless Samoan or similar, part of a dangerous team, or someone who’s judgment is controlled by grief/love, we think your tattoo is probably just a conformist symbol of your inability to think independently. Please stop getting them just so you can get a tattoo like everyone else has done. It is lame!

In summation, you