Tag Archives: Government

Prepare to Be Trumped

I was reading this opinion piece on Politico this morning, and it just jumped out at me. The title is “Donald Trump is Shocking, Vulgar, and Right” and as I read, I found that the piece itself was shocking, vulgar, and correct.

I encourage you to read it, because it was enlightening. The gist of it was that while Trump has offended the Republican elite, – the unnamed, shot calling ‘ephors’ that exist in both major political parties – Trump has had unexpected success with the actual masses.

As is customary, I scrolled through the comments section to find the usual bantering vitriol one would expect at the end of any political op-ed, especially one about a controversial figure such as Donald Trump.

As is typical, you have your fair share of white-guilt liberals who think anyone who doesn’t vote Blue is a racist, old, white, evangelical, gun owning male.

Liberals have severely underestimated Trump’s appeal. I live in California where it’s pretty Democratic and I can’t believe how many ‘typical Democratic voters’ are coming out of the woodwork in support of Trump.

“I had to support Obama ‘cuz you know, I’m black and he’s my boy. But dude, Trump is killin’ it.”

Of course it’s always in private confidence to me as a Libertarian, or as an insurance agent. My black friends fear being raced out of town by their other black friends, if they admitted to supporting Trump. One such friend told me “I had to support Obama ‘cuz you know, I’m black and he’s my boy. But dude, Trump is killin’ it.” And he proceeded to tell me how what Trump said really resonated with him, even in areas I was sure they wouldn’t like Trumps stance on terrorism, immigration, and the refugee debate. And though he would never dare say that to a group of suspected democrats, he’d say it to me.

So what’s the appeal here? Why do people like Trump, or to auto-correct myself, why do so many people like Trump enough to vote for him? Trump’s got balls. He’s got chutzpah. I may not always agree with him but then again what politician do you ever fully agree with? But he says it like it is. Candor is something the black community and other minority groups can appreciate, however candor is something white liberals avoid at all costs in their embrace of self-censorship and PR verbalise.

Even I can admit Trump has made a couple gaffes, but when you break it down and scrutinize what he’s said even some of his more noticeable stumbles are really an overreaction to some benign, and common sense stuff. To quote the author;

“Apart from his line about Mexican rapists early in the campaign, Trump hasn’t said anything especially shocking about immigration. Control the border, deport lawbreakers, try not to admit violent criminals — these are the ravings of a Nazi?”

Trump has a greater appeal than most people give him credit for and it’s not something you can easily sum up in a cross-sectional analysis of poll results.

When Trump does something, he does it once, he does it big, he does it right. He pulls out all the stops. If you like keepin’ it real, then Trump’s your man since he’s the king of keeping it real. Trump says fuck the system and he’s not afraid to point fingers and call people out on their bullshit. You don’t give a fuck? Trump patented not giving a fuck.

I liken Trump to guard dog. What do you look for in a guard dog? Do you want your guard dog to be polite? To be kind? To care if the other dogs in the neighborhood like him? No. You picked that dog to keep you safe and devour any one that messes with you or your family. For the past 8 years we’ve had an apologist cupcake in the white house who only ever had the balls to pick a fight with fellow Americans across the political aisle, but who could never be bothered to stick it to Iran, ISIS, North Korea, Russia, or China. Say what you will about Trump but even democrats can concede the man loves his country, bleeds red, white and blue, and is one hell of a pro-U.S. cheerleader.

And perhaps counter intuitively, Trump might be doing so well because he’s the anti-Hillary. Yeah they’re both old and white. But the polarization is in their approach, and in their appeal.

Hillary has never known a job outside of politics. She’s been in politics since she was 21 years old. She’s been making a living off tax payers for over 40 years, with no intention of ever leaving. Donald Trump is fresh off the streets in terms of politics.

Clinton is a certifiable liar. After all, she comes from a family of liars. Her husband lied about an affair to her and the entire country. From private email servers being wiped clean to Benghazi. She lies. Her husband lies. And the entire world knows it. Trump is a crude, rude, dude, and might misspeak from time to time, but there is no one more honest than him right now in headline politics.

Trump is so bad-ass he let him self get roasted on Comedy Central.

Hillary has an army of political scientists whispering into her ear, telling her what to say, how to say it, and how to deflect criticism. Every sentence, every word, every syllable she utters is a carefully chosen, orchestrated regurgitation of politi-speak. She is a master politician, I’ll give her that. Trump is not. Trump couldn’t give two shits if what he says offends you or your kitten. He’s a master ass kicker.

Hillary Clinton could literally be caught on camera eating a baby and liberals wouldn’t care.

And I think the biggest difference between the two politicians is not just their appeal, but their audience. Hillary Clinton could literally be caught on camera eating a baby and liberals wouldn’t care. Anyone that suggested she is unscrupulous, or that she be indicted would be met with a fury of insults from her cult like followers that they are sexist, misogynist, blasphemists. In the world of Clintonites, Hillary can do no wrong.

Juxtapose that to Trump supporters. I’m a Trump Supporter, and I’ll be the first person to tell you Trump is a dick. He is! It’s no mystery, and if you ask your Trump friends they’ll tell you the same. We don’t try to masquerade our candidate as some saint, some divine messiah like what was done with Obama and what is being done with Hillary now. Trump is what he is. A flesh and blood man with a plan. He’s a bad ass mother fucker who takes no shit, gives no fucks, and takes care of business, and – yes, I will remind you – he’s a dick. But he’s an honest dick. And he’s our dick.

He’s a dick. But he’s an honest dick. And he’s our dick.

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Spectre: Movie Review

The summer is over and so is the season of summer blockbusters. Between you and me, the last couple months have been a movie slump, and the last legitimately entertaining movie this year was Ant-Man. Jurassic World was mildly entertaining, and Age of Ultron was a complete let down.

But 2015 was not a complete cinematic dud. If summer of 2015 blue balled you in the action adventure department then you’ll love the 4th and latest installment of the Daniel Craig James Bond franchise. I’ve been anxiously looking forward to Craig reprising his role as the infamous 007 since the first teaser trailer came out a year ago, and after having caught an early screening on Tuesday, November 3rd, I can tell you it was well worth the wait!

We’ve seen Bond show down in a battle of wits against global money launderer, Le Chiffre, in Casino Royale. We’ve seen Bond do…. uh…. do something in South America having to do with water or oil or something, in Quantum of Solace with [enter villain here]. Then we watched Bond battle skeletons from the MI6’s deep, dark closet against the menacing Silva in Skyfall.

Now, get ready for what I consider to be the fourth, and best installment in the decade running franchise. In Spectre, super spy James Bond is caught in the crossfire when traditional espionage and intelligence gathering collides with modern day data scouring and drones. In an increasing age of terrorism and geopolitical unrest, governments around the world start to question if the world still needs traditional spies and boots on the ground, when we have drones, satellites, and wire-tapping at our disposal.

In the film, intelligence agencies from the world’s most powerful countries are called to action to combine their intelligence gathering operations and systems, to create a type of new world order of counter terrorism. When this audacious overreach is met with resistance by M, James Bond and his entire department – who are considered obsolete and antiquated – are either merged with existing departments, or are shelved entirely. Acting outside their legal jurisdictions, Bond, M, Q, and Money Penny work to stop a mysterious villain that threatens the freedom of the world, as they struggle to stay one step ahead of the enemy. Bond discovers that the person steering the course of humanity’s future may also be a shadow from his past.

Spectre was thoroughly enjoyable. Much of the plot and many of the characters may seem recycled from pervious movies, including Bond movies, because they are. But Columbia did more than rinse and repeat with old ingredients, and in my opinion managed to take kitchen scraps and turn them into an entirely new delicacy that will leave you hungry for more.

In fact, part of the appeal of Spectre is that is harkens back to the golden days of Bond. The main villain, Franz Oberhauser is a new age version of Ernst Stavro Blofeld from the original Bond films who also ran SPECTER, the same villain that Mike Meyers parodied as Dr. Evil in Austin Powers. They even went so far as to explain how this classic villain received the trademark scar across his right eye.

But the good old days villainy didn’t stop there. While Oberhauser was the brains, David Bautista was the brawn, and played the very formidable Mr. Hinx. My opinion is that Hinx is a new age version of Oddjob, a ruthless and well-dressed villain from the 1964 movie Goldfinger, who kills people by throwing a steel rimmed top hat. Mr. Hinx breathes fresh life into the role and brings a very physical, intense, unnervingly calm, and intimidating performance with him. This is the first time in the Daniel Craig franchise that James Bond was not only challenged mentally, but physically.

Daniel Craig delivers his usual and appreciated, primed and polished performance. I’ve come to appreciate his interpretation of James Bond. Spy, yes. Womanizer, yes. Fashionable, always, but still someone very much mired in tradition, and a real man’s man who is tough as nails yet still emotionally vulnerable. James Bond is anything but a new character to audiences, but just like mom’s Thanksgiving dinner, is a tried and tested recipe for success.

There are several beautiful Bond love interests in Spectre, but if one gets the title of Bond Girl, it would be Léa Seydoux. She played the character of Madeleine Swann, and as fate would have it is the daughter of a former enemy of James Bond. Personally, I wasn’t a fan. She’s young enough to be James Bond’s daughter, whined a lot, and had that prickly European demeanor. Plus, I mean come on. She’s no Eva Green.

We also got a fair amount of screen time of Ralph Fiennes and M, Ben Whishaw as Bond’s secret help and accomplice Q, Naomi Harris as the always lovable Moneypenny, Christoph Waltz as the puppet master Franz Oberhauser, and a short romance scene with the timeless beauty Monica Belluci.

Some possible SPOILER ALERTS in this next paragraph.

As I was watching Spectre, I couldn’t help but think that the movie was very similar to last year’s hit, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Spectre = Hydra

The first major similarity is that both movies feature a shadowy organization that is attempting to usurp an established, well intentioned intelligence gathering apparatus, in the name of sacrificing freedom for security. In Winter Solider, Hydra has infiltrated SHIELD and is trying to take it over from the inside out, and Captain America is trying to stop them. In Spectre, said organization is trying to swallow up MI5 and MI6 from the outside in, and James Bond is trying to stop them.

What’s more, is that both organizations are found to be responsible for a long series of horrible and violent events that are seemingly unrelated, with the sole purpose of creating enough chaos to get the masses to willingly give up their freedoms in return for a Big Brother type organization.

The figure heads behind each organization are both German. Red Skull / Johann Schmidt is a German Nazi, and actor Christoph Waltz from Spectre is of actual German Austrian descent.

hydra-vs-spectre

Even the respective mascots are the similar. Both Spectra and Hydra’s emblem sport a multi-tentacled creature, one being a hydralisk and the other an octopus.

Righteousness as a Relic

Captain America is commonly referred to as “a man out of time”, and his old school and righteous ways are considered antiquated. James Bond might not be as virtuous as Cap when it comes to his drinking and philandering, but’s still got a strong moral compass. Bond and his companions are referred to as antiquated, their methods outdated, and their purpose obsolete.

Ralph Fiennes’ role as M, Bond’s superior within the organization, is very similar both in function and in character to Samuel Jackson’s role as Nick Fury within SHIELD. In both movies, the director and soldier don’t see eye to eye, but when confronted with a larger moral dilemma, work together towards a common goal of restoring freedom.

I think there is an unspoken moral to this common story as well. Change is neither good nor bad. Change is simply change. Good or bad depends on the change, and how it is used. And just as you should be wary of people who adamantly oppose any kind of change, one should be equally wary of someone who blindly lambast the past, or tradition.

The story was well crafted and very neatly wrapped up a lot of loose ends, weaving together the other films since the relaunch. The acting was of course, what you would expect from such a legendary, decades spanning franchise. The romance was sprinkled on without overshadowing the main story, and Bond was very much a strong yet vulnerable character that audiences will be able to relate to. And of course, there was plenty of action to get you through the cinematic lulls. All in all, I think Spectre was a great movie on par with Casino Royal (2006). Some people might say it’s more of the same Hollywood product; car chases, martinis, womanizing, boat chases, plane chases, pretty much lots of chases,  explosions, fast cars, crazy gadgets, etc. Which is exactly what I want out of my James Bond! I found it very entertaining and will probably end up buying it on Bluray when it comes out. I give Spectre an A-.

You’re Worth What You Can Get

If you know me, or have argued with me online, you ought to know that I’m a fiscally conservative dude. People hear “conservative” and they imagine Scrooge McDuck hoarding and counting his endless piles of money while Little Timmy freezes and starves to death outside. The truth is that being a “fiscal conservative” only means that you don’t play fast and loose with your money. You avoid impulse buys, and put more consideration into purchases and decisions that might affect your financial situation. You don’t spend money on a whim. It also does not mean that you are rich.

All of that needed to be said and for good reason. I’m not a huge fan of new regulations to drastically raise the minimum wage. But no,it’s not because I’m evil.

Scrooge McDuck counting his money.
Scrooge McDuck counting his money.

While many people who are against raising the minimum wage claim that “Burger flippers aren’t for $X per hour! This is outrageous!”, my stance is very different. I think you’re worth whatever you can persuade someone to pay you.

If Joe Teenager can convince his manager to pay him $50 an hour to flip burgers, then by all means I support it and applaud it. Sincerely. The key word here though,  is “convince”.

I don’t like the idea of strong arming someone into paying you more, especially when your employment there is voluntary.

All transactions should be mutually agreed upon by both parties; the buyer and the seller. Imagine you’re selling you car and someone offers you far less than you’re willing to sell it for. You have the right to not sell it. Employment is no different. As an employee, you are selling your services in exchange for an income, or benefits, insurance, etc. The employee naturally wants to maximize his income, and the employer naturally wants to minimize his payroll, but unless both parties can reach an agreement, there should be no transaction. Forcing a wage on your employer is no different than forcing your neighbor to buy your car for more than he’s willing to pay for it, simple as that.

The gut-counter-reactions to this might be “But people need a job to live!”  True. you may need a job, but don’t forget that businesses are not in the business of hiring people that need jobs. They’re in the business of making  money. Whether you need a job or higher pay is not the business’ concern – it’s yours.

Before you sharpen your pitchforks, hear me out. Just because I’m against raising the minimum wage does not mean I’m against higher pay. Just because I’m against rape, doesn’t mean I’m against sex. Just so long as each is consensual.

I don’t mind people getting paid more. I don’t mind burger flippers getting paid more. I try to avoid Walmart which pays a “starving wage”. I frequent businesses like Costco and In-N-Out which voluntarily pay well above minimum wage. I also tip well (when deserved). I vote with my wallet. I encourage everyone to vote with theirs. If enough people do it, it could cause some shifts.

Who works minimum wage though? Who should be? Lower paying jobs are usually entry level positions that don’t require much experience or a heavy hitting résumé. Ideally, they are for teens and young adults looking to gain experience and build their résumé in order to advance to a better job.

Entry level jobs are self explanatory. They are jobs for people entering the work force. By their nature, they are meant to be short lived. You get one, grow, learn, and move on to the next level, and the next person takes your place. It’s kind of like kindergarten. They can support a lone wolf, but probably aren’t suited for supporting a wolf pack. So teens be warned! Having kids on a McDonald’s paycheck is probably not a great idea.

Here’s where “fiscal conservative” finally comes into play. Making more money is one thing. Making decisions that result in less expenses is another. People need to think of life in terms of finances. the car you drive, the neighborhood you live in, the clothes you wear, and even when and how many kids you have are all financial decisions.

Would you buy a car if you couldn’t afford the payments?

Would you buy a home if you couldn’t afford the mortgage?

Would you buy a puppy if you couldn’t afford the food?

If no, then you shouldn’t have a baby unless you can afford to raise it. Again, simple as that.

Actual ad from a NYC teen parents awareness campaign.
Actual ad from a NYC teen parents awareness campaign.

Simple as this is. Straight forward as this is. No-nonsense as this, a lot of people hear that and are offended. They’re repulsed at the idea of children being a financial decision instead of a “life decision”.

What many fail to realize is that almost every decision is a financial decision, or at the very least will result in a different financial outcome. Life isn’t free, and so long as that’s true, life decisions are financial decisions.

That’s a whole other conversation and blog post, so let me stop there. Steering this all back on track, the point to all this is simple, so let me wrap this up.

Minimum wage jobs are meant for teens and people with few obligations – not for families.

Instead of regulating businesses to take care of people, people should regulate their own actions to better take care of themselves. If you’re 40 with three kids and on minimum wage, you *probably* made some poor choices, even if it was simple having more kids than you could afford. If you meant to have one child and ended up with triplets, then clearly you’re an exception to the rule.

No matter how old or young you are, if you’re in the work force or entering soon, always be improving yourself and making yourself more commercially valuable.

If you’re a voter, vote with your wallets before you rush to the ballots.

If you’re an employer who can afford to do so, try to help your staff out a little bit. Generosity goes a long way, and happy employees work better.

No matter who you are, remember that every decision is a financial decision, whether you life it or not.

All transactions should be mutually agreed upon by both parties.
All transactions should be mutually agreed upon by both parties.

Finally, you’re not worth what you think you are. In fact, you’re not worth what others think you are. You’re worth whatever you can convince someone else to give you.

The Purge: Anarchy: Movie review

After 90 minutes at the drive in, I made it through Lucy. After a quick  run to the restroom, I was back in my car and ready for the second feature of the night, The Purge: Anarchy.

Being that The Purge: Anarchy is a sequel, I didn’t set my hopes too high, but I was still plenty excited about it since I enjoyed the first one, and was curious to see how they were to going to take the premise of the 2013 film and build on it.

From the commotion on the grapevine – or lack thereof – The Purge (2013) didn’t do so well financially or with the critics. I didn’t hear any smack talking, but I also didn’t hear of anyone talking it up or rushing out to see it. I enjoyed the first film nonetheless, and took it for the movie it was.

Purgers and Hunters, from "The Purge: Anarchy" (2014)
Purgers and Hunters, from “The Purge: Anarchy” (2014)

For those who haven’t see either, The Purge and The Purge: Anarchy take place in the not so distant future, in the years 2022 and 2023, respectively. The U.S. is governed by “The New Founding Fathers” and every year starting on March 21, all crime is completely legal* (including theft, rape, and murder) for 12 hours (7PM March 21st – 7AM March 22nd). There are a few exceptions however, such as not being allowed to use anything over a “Class 4” weapon, which isn’t defined. The big exception is that it is still illegal to target certain government officials. Bullshit, right? This period of lawlessness is called the purge.

In this world, crime, unemployment, and other societal ills have dropped to astonishingly low levels, by U.S. standards. In The Purge (2013), it’s generally accepted that the purge is creditable for these changes. The argument in the first installation is: Do the ends justify the means? Is it worth it? Is letting people take out their aggression on others without reprimand acceptable?

Purging sacrifice
Purging sacrifice, “The Purge: Anarchy” (2014)

In The Purge: Anarchy, the moral quagmire is that the purge isn’t just the government’s way of letting people blow off steam, but that it is in fact designed to reduce the population of people society deems undesirable. Those who are weak and defenseless, the poor, the sick, the elderly, and anyone else unable to defend themselves during the 12 hour onslaught make easy pickings for the hordes of “purgers”. The rich, with their fortress style mansions (explained in the 2013 film), and private security, are practically untouchable. Naturally, government officials (class 10 or higher) have exempted themselves from the annual purge.

The Anarchy touches up on issues of class warfare, racism, greed, genocide, and a plethora of other issues and cleverly dresses them up as an action/suspense movie.

Audiences probably noticed there was no Ethan Hawk in this movie. It was a sequel, but the film centers around an entirely new lineup of cast and characters. It takes places a year after the first events. Whereas the first movie took place in white bread Suburbia, Anarchy takes place in a completely difference setting: Urban America.

I knew nothing of the cast before I watched the film. Once the movie picked up the pace, I immediately recognized Frank Grillo (Captain America: Winter Soldier, Prison Break). Grillo does an amazing job playing a grieving father whose son was killed, who is looking to enact his revenge on the night of the purge. He carries most of the major action scenes and shoot outs, and keeps the story grounded.

Frank Grillo in "The Purge: Anarchy" (2014)
Frank Grillo in “The Purge: Anarchy” (2014)

There is a couple on the edge of divorce that gets stranded in the middle of the city shortly before the beginning of the purge. Call me paranoid, but if I lived in this world, I probably wouldn’t leave my house on March 21, and if I did it’s because I was hundreds of miles in the middle of nowhere in a bunker, and armed to the teeth – or in Canada.

We also have a mother and daughter. The mother is harmless, and hardworking to support her family. Her daughter, despite having good intentions and probably being the most morally incorruptible of the cast, had me shouting “Shut the fuck up!” every couple minutes throughout the entire movie. Luckily you can scream out loud when you’re in your own car.

All said and done, it was definitely an entertaining, nail biting, thought provoking, and worthwhile film. Anarchy was to The Purge, as Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones was to the prior Paranormal films in the franchise. Each of the latest incarnations taking on more of an urban, gritty tone.

Was it enjoyable? Absolutely. Not only was it as good as the first movie, but it was better and very different. Will The Purge franchise turn into the next Saw or Paranormal Activity, where audiences can expect a new sequel every year? Will the studio use the backdrop of the annual purge to address other societal concern and controversial issues? For enjoyability, I give this movie a solid A.

Did it deliver what it advertised? The trailers were a little misleading, and omitted a lot of the finer points of the movie. Did it deliver as advertised? Yes, it did, and much more. Again, Anarchy gets an A.

Would I see it again? I might buy the DVD, but not the Bluray. Given the chance I would definitely watch this movie again, and would gladly welcome a third installment.