The New Terrorism: How Today’s Politicians Have Co-Opted America

“They’re well financed and very slick… Add all that up, I don’t know what the fuck it means, but you got some bad-ass perpetrators and they’re here to stay.” — John McClane in “Die Hard,” but it could anybody who wants to describe the elected officials who are supposed to be legislating for you in Washington.

The U.S. Congress has a new logo…

There is a growing homegrown terrorist organization inside this country. It has been quietly funded by shadowy figures and large groups with their own personal agendas. It has quietly infested the very soul of this country. It has kidnapped and hijacked the idea of America. It uses fear, obstruction, terror and childish inaction to cajole the public into electing them again and again. It’s name is the Legislative Branch of the U.S. government. There’s 535 of them, 435 members of the House of Representatives (a very loose term these days) and 100 members of the Senate. And, they are openly hostile, dangerous and a clear and present danger to the people of the United States.

Regardless of your opinions of who should be our next president, I have openly advocated for an almost complete dismissal of the current members of Congress at the polls this November in a previous post.  They don’t care about the American people anymore. Can you remember the last time an elected Congressman or Senator said, “The people in my state feel…” or “This affects my district/state…” without it sounding like it’s all about them or the party? It’s been a long time since I hear something other than “We don’t want the other party doing this or that…”

Dogmatic and inflexible party lines with unknown lawmakers

Quick: name your two Senators and your representative for your district. Good. Now tell me how they voted on the last three bills up for vote. If you got more than two of those right, YOU should run for office. But, were the votes that they cast the best vote FOR YOU and your fellow district/state members?  Or were they what was best for the Republican or Democratic Party? Do you even know how to get a hold of your Senator or Representative? Have they ever replied? Maybe you should join a group…

“Whips” are not just for the dominatrix set. Whips are used to tame lions. Whips were used as part of the Inquisition to enforce an ideological dogma. Whips in Congress are all about making sure that the members of the parties fall in line with the party. I’ll let you draw the parallels. As with all terrorist organizations, the legislative branch co-opts individual thought and subjugates its members into a collective, “us against them” mindset that does little to advance national interest.

Outside influences – Congress as a proxy war

Congress is not entirely at fault. They were once true individual Americans. But, they are weak minded and power hungry. Like Gollum, corrupted by the One Ring, Senators and Representatives need their fix and look to wherever they can in order to stay in power. Enter the outsiders: SuperPAC’s, and “policy” makers like Grover Norquist and the exhaustive line of lobbyists. By offering to fund campaigns or with outright extortion (in the case of Grover Norquist), these individuals and groups have twisted and corrupted the very set of lawmakers that are supposed to represent you.

If there is anything that I learned today with the SCOTUS ruling on health care, it’s that Congress does NOT have our best interest at heart. Instead of accepting that the equally important third branch of government ruled something constitutional and working together to find a way to make an obviously imperfect bill BETTER, your leaders began to take sides. None of those was siding with the American people. Instead of working to finding jobs for Americans, passing a budget and assisting those in need from floods in the South and fires out West, I watched as Senators and Congressmen used obstructionist policies and talked about making repeal of the Affordable Health Care Law their first priority and adding fetal “personhood” amendments to flood insurance bills to prevent legislation from passing.  

Personally, I don’t have a dog in this fight. I could care less if Republicans or Democrats make a majority in Congress, or whether (please, please, please) some unknown third party makes a play and wedges itself into the political scene in order to force Congress to work together. JUST SO LONG AS THEY ARE DIFFERENT AND THAT THEY UNDERSTAND THAT THEY ARE ELECTED BY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND CAN BE “UN-ELECTED” BY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. It would be great to see anyone who has been elected who will work with others for the benefit of the people of the United States. I would run, but my finances are limited and after this blog there probably isn’t a group that would come near me with a 10-meter cattle prod.

Yes, I am angry.  Yes, it may be a (slight) stretch calling them terrorists. But, it’s hard not to do so as I listen to the Short Bus Network (CNN) and The Legion of Doom (FOX News) where I am constantly reminded of what a bunch of out-of-touch jagoffs we have in the legislative branch of the federal government. Yes, I am going to keep talking about it. No, you can’t stop me. I have a blog. Unfortunately, we cannot just escort them out of the building.  And, actual advocation for termination brings men in suits by your house… But, hopefully I have friends who will A) read this and, 2) forward it on to others. Hopefully, I have friends who will vote with logic and intelligence for candidates that speak to them about their issues and will continue to interact with them and hold fast to those issues. And, with any luck, hopefully my friends will help me vote new Congressman and Senators into office this November.

Dear FBI: you won’t find me at home today. I’ll be outside taking the day off. Just come in and make yourself at home.

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How to Live in a “Keyword Society” – Part II of “Making ‘The Former You’ Matter”

(Someday, I’ll insert keywords here)

For those who can't bother to "see" me, keywords are how I'll make my mark.

Continuing on my journey to make myself more relevant in an anti-personal communication, algorithmic-based society and following up my recent post on joining a collective, (possibly Borg) (http://offtopictim.com/2012/06/the-need-to-be-part-of-a-group-die-personal-pronoun-die/),I have decided that the next step is to slightly differentiate myself slightly from those groups by “pasting myself” with keywords. You see, I’ll need these keywords to create attention and make myself easier to find inside of those groups by marketers, employers, and potential mates. Hopefully, they are all not one in the same…

My entire life is associated with keywords – from multiple forms I’ve filled out on the Internet, to my Facebook profile, my LinkedIn page, my resume, and of course my old Match.com profile and my new eHarmony profile. I’ve gotten all my bases covered. And when I learn the ins-and-outs and even the smallest of nuances on SEO keyword marketing, I’ll be the most popular person at this keyboard…

Keywords

Before the advent of the Internet (thanks, Al Gore!), and its use as a mass-marketing tool, the term “keyword” meant words which academics used to understand an author’s reasoning in a written work. Of course, this was BEFORE everything was beaten to death by over-analyzing things in a 24-hour information overload.

Today, keywords are one of the primary factors in SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, a field of marketing research that has been around since the mid 1990’s, when everyone started taking the plastic off their free 20 hrs. of AOL service disk that they got in the mail and dialed up the Internet. The idea of SEO is that keywords inside page copy (NOT the META, which all search engines abandoned by 2005) rank a page higher in search results. While I am not going to try to rank myself in a Google search at number one -because it’s annoying and I’m classy enough and old enough NOT to be a Kardashian (aka whore, attention whore) – I do want to be at the head of the pack.

But, in an attempt to help fold myself into the groups that matter while at the same time be differentiated just enough to be noticed, I am going to include keywords in my resume, my job seeker profiles and my online dating profile. I’m starting with my resume.

The June 2012 Tim Barley Resume

My resume is full of VARIED career EXPERIENCE. I’ve always had a DESIRE to be in entertainment and got off to a good start as an EDUCATED and SMART and KNOWLEDGEABLE page, or tour guide, at PARAMOUNT PICTURES, which quickly led to WRITERS’ ASSISTANT work on the 4-CAMERA SIT-COM “Sister, Sister.” After a break, I worked outside the entertainment industry as a DEDICATED and HIGHLY EFFECTIVE INVENTORY CONTROL SUPERVISOR at an electronics company where I MANAGED MULTIPLE STAFFS across the U.S. and INSTITUTED POLICY to save the company money. Then I returned to the entertainment industry in a MARKETING AND BRANDING & INTEGRATION capacity as a SENIOR BRAND AGENT at Hollywood Branded.  I’ve done other work as well, like PRODUCTION RESOURCING, BRAND ENGAGEMENT, SOCIAL MEDIA and BLOGGING.

So, this should at least put me in a narrower group of job candidates. It might not set me apart, but that will happen when they click on my job candidate profile and call me in for an interview. There, I’ll spring the personality trap on them and I’ll slowly move toward that corner office… Bring it on, employers!

Looking for love with keywords

Apparently, if you're going to a movie musical, you are all set.

It’s occurred to me that the reason I’m single is that I’m just not using the right keywords when dating. I could tell you that it’s because no one likes to talk about “things” anymore, but would rather repeat what they saw on “America’s Got Something They Do” or “Listen to Me!” I could also tell you that I can barely put up with people’s shit long enough to put in an educated word. Hell, I could even tell you that my expectations are a little high. (Rocket scientist AND funny AND attractive/sexy AND outgoing/sporty AND not full of attitude are not keywords found in conjunction a lot of the time when looking for the fairer sex). But, I do believe that I have just been using the wrong keywords in describing MYSELF while trying to find a mate/running-around partner/fun-lover/best friend/muse/shoulder rubber/joke teller. So, I went into my profile and did a rewrite on some parts. I’ve added notes where I felt necessary:

“I am always a GENTLEMAN (which is NOT a lost art, ladies), kind, upbeat and outgoing. But, I work a lot as well. I work hard and I play harder, so be ready to play, HARD! I am more at home in casual wear, yet I own my own tux and have gotten some mileage out of it! I’m usually dressed “dress casual,” but damn if a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt doesn’t feel right on the weekends! Golf will always be my sport, but volleyball is where I feel the most alive (sun, sand, sweat and ocean = “living!”).”
Here it was necessary to showcase that I am a nice guy, but not TOO nice. Chicks apparently dig a guy who’s of quality (golf), but not a lapdog and will, at times, forget they had plans and go out with the guys (and then texting later to say “I’m sorry, can I come over?”). By sharing that I own a tux, this hints again at my social status, but the casual clothes reveal “a real guy who likes to get down and dirty!”
“I’m funny and have lots of useless knowledge that serves me well at parties, and I love actual conversation over email, and never texting unless you are in a board of directors meeting and you can’t talk. I’m just that great puzzle that is missing a final fun, playful partner-in-crime.”
At this point, I felt it necessary to explain that I am not just a good-looking man with great kissing and other skills. It’s also necessary to explain to the babes that I’m smart and can be taken anywhere. By including the phrase “unless you are in a board meeting,” I’ve also indicated that I am seeking a woman who is advanced in her career. No freeloaders here, baby! I also read in a book somewhere that the ladies are looking for a playful and fun person, so I added the last part to heighten my online appeal…
Now, let the quality women flock to me!

Continually evolving keywords and phrases

Sure, it’s a work in progress. Keywords and phrases change all the time. Once people catch on, they’ll all want to join the fun. The trick is to keep one step ahead of the game and staying in the head of the pack just enough to be noticed, but not so much that I am forgotten by those searching for the group and include me in great Groupon offers.

It’s hard out here for the lonely and jobless; “You can’t be a pimp and a prostitute too.” Thanks, Jack. Thanks.

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The Need to Be Part of a Group – Die Personal Pronoun, Die!

(again, sorry to be the one to break it to you, but “you” and “I” no longer count)

In order to be recognized, “I” will now no longer be “Tim Barley.” In a play to make sure that I matter to someone, I am going to set aside my Christian name and accept my new, marketing-age technocratic name. It might be a little long and hard to remember, but soon I shall be called: “Early40’s-single-white-southwesterntransplant-1234″*** (***”1234” being the last four digits of my SSN).

I'm just accepting the Borg collective idea of fitting in.

No word yet if I’ll be allowed to keep my last name. Or if I will be able to abbreviate to E40SWSWT1234. I hope I’ll be able to do so because it’s just so long.

 

I wanted to call myself “7 of 9” but was afraid that some marketing intern, looking to make a name for themselves, would spot the inside joke and tell his bosses that I was acting like an individual and then I’d be persecuted, which would cause even more problems.

So, there you go. After posting this, I will now be recognized as part of a group. Several groups actually. At long last, I matter. I can stand up with others and be counted. People, computers and automated marketing programs will take note of me and I will belong. I’ll get emails all day long. I’ll help shape decisions for accountants who run major movie studios, and CEO’s who debut new fast food products. With any luck, I’ll be part of the marketing group that brings back the original cut of “Star Wars” in which Han shot first.

Why am I doing this, you ask? It’s simple: as a person I don’t matter. I am a man shouting into the loud wind. But, as part of a group, I can combine my voice with others to shout right back. Besides, it’s just part of the natural progression of technology and societal change, and I just want to be ahead of the curve this time.

Marketers “fish,” they don’t hunt

Marketing executives are the hunter/gatherers in the labor kingdom, bringing back food for the king. They are not lazy. On the contrary, they have used their brains to gather the most amount of “food” with the least amount of effort. Usually these are the fattest, slowest, dumbest consumers. But hey, an email address is an email address. Marketing execs are the whales of the world. And by that I don’t mean that they are uber-rich Baccarat players in Macau or Las Vegas (they MIGHT be), or that they are huge, overweight beach goers (also possible). No, marketing executives open their mouths, using large scale efforts in order to scoop up the largest amount of fish they can. There is no room for the individual fish in marketing. It’s cost prohibitive to tailor make a marketing plan that doesn’t reach the greatest amount of people. “Rod and reel” marketing is so cave drawing era.

Of course, this is how you get products like Taco Bell’s Doritos Taco, movies like “Battleship,” and TV show like “America’s Got Talent” and “The Kardashians.”

Individualism will get you nowhere

Dude, Sisyphus, get some friends to help you out.

Try making your voice heard at a rally or a concert. It’ll never happen. Mass feedback is what changes positions. If you don’t like something, nothing will change. If your GROUP doesn’t like something, people take notice. Give it a try; tell your congressman or the CEO of your phone company that you don’t like something they are doing. You’d be lucky to get a form letter signed by a stoned out staffer. Now, add a letter-head from your group (“Citizens for…” is always a good start) and see how quickly you get something a little more personalized. See? Just fold yourself into a group.

Have you ever tried to substitute fries for chips at a restaurant? Fat chance, Mr. Individual. The restaurant has a policy in place that makes the most amount of people happy, tailored by market research to various groups. Of course, you can always blog about it to your followers and see how the restaurant reacts…

The Borg, Body Snatchers and other collectives

Of course, there is always the possibility that being part of a group and abandoning individual thought is just what “they” want us to think is the best idea. It FEELS safe and strong to be part of a group. Certainly, it’s good to be part of a group, right? The lone water buffalo is the one all the lions go after, isn’t it? People in groups are easier to manage and easier to educate. They are easier to sway. And, one day, we’ll all be part of “the group” and we’ll all toe the line we’ve all been led to believe is the best path. The path that most assuredly leads to the area of the factory where your microchip is implanted or where you’re fed to the mother alien.

You know, mass hysteria…

The lone individual

But, what about individualism? What about free thought and the individual experience?  It helped Captain Picard fight off the Borg on Star Trek: TNG! Humans were meant to be individual thinkers and achievers! People at 3M, Apple, Facebook, etc were NOT part of a group that compromised and watered down decisions until they accomplished the least amount of discovery! They-

Wait, I’m being told that my groups are being told that we need to eat now. Off to the water and feed trough. Sometimes, it is nice to be part of a group. I don’t have to think as much.

And, “you’re” next.

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When to “Give Up on the Baby” (A “Cold Void” Update)

(Sometimes, you just have to realize your “baby” isn’t going turn out like you wanted. Then sign them up for plastic surgery and all sorts of classes and sports to make yourself feel better…)

One of my favorite scenes in "Cold Void."

There’s an adage in writing, especially when writing for the big (or little) screen that says that you “must not be afraid to give up your baby.” Mostly, it refers to giving up the rights to your project that you’ve been working on forever in exchange for selling it for a large sum of money with more zeros than an Internet gaming convention. You won’t ever see it again. It gets ushered out the back door as you are handed a check and ushered back out the front door. And, if you do see your baby again, it’s going to appear to you that right after you let it go, it hit the Greyhound terminal at the Port Authority, was picked up by a “kind looking” studio VP and then forced to turn tricks, having fallen into a life of rewrite drugs and prostitution test screenings until it no longer resembles the beautiful little baby you raised from nothing but a drunk musing written on a cocktail napkin.

But even before that, there can be a time when mysterious strangers (call script coverage personnel) look over your “baby” and say, “This von is too strange and I don’t think ve vill vant to read anymore of it. Now go!” As opposed to the dream-like, “Oh my God! This is great! It’s fantastic! What can we give you for it? We want to take it from you and make your baby a star! And, of course, we want you to be there every step of the way.”

THAT, by the way, never happens. This town is all about the classic undersell. If you think you are a great salesperson and can haggle like the cock of the walk at an Arab bazaar, then come on out. I could use a good agent.

And, that’s where I find myself today. As expected, I received some great (and scathing) feedback from a professional acquaintance on our project “Cold Void” and our attempt to turn this script into a TV series. The details are not important enough to mention for this exercise today, but to me they were spot on. Now comes the hard part: telling my partner, Al, WHAT we need to do in order to make our “baby” better. Sure, it’s really young, just a baby. So are the kids on “Toddlers and Tiaras.” Damn if our child doesn’t need a nose job and a stronger jawline. It might need some of that baby fat trimmed and absolutneeds to get into the writers’ weight room. Maybe some pec and calf implants. Then there is the education classes, the violin lessons, and the tap dance classes. But, it’s hard to cut up your child and then insert non bio-degradeable materials and push them into every conceivable talent class available. But, you need to keep telling yourself that it’s only to make your child better and happier. It’s not about you. It’s about your “baby.”

And who doesn’t want a better baby?

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Why “You” Don’t Matter Anymore

(sorry to let you know via blog post…)

Have you voted yet? No? You say the election isn’t until November? What about the Greek elections? Did you realize that Nikos Hanias has jumped ship from the Syriza party? Calling them dangerous? Apparently, these elections have a lot to do with you. What about the austerity measures in Spain and Italy? If they don’t get money to bail their banking systems out, it’s going to effect YOUR 410k, if you even still have one… Maybe you live in one of the 14 states that “will decide the presidential election.” Do you?  If you believe the media pundits, your very future is at stake as this is “the most important election in U.S. history.” Not sure which states these are? Hell, I can tell you. If you don’t live in one, you apparently don’t even have to bother voting.

Greek elections

THESE people are going to have a significant impact on your life on Monday morning.

Tomorrow and Sunday, the Greek people are going to the polls to vote (voting on Saturday and Sunday! Novel!). If the status quo, New Democratic Party wins, Greek politicians will move ahead as planned with Eurozone approved bailout measures that will include austerity measures (such as cutting 32% from the minimum wage) and deep cuts in spending (and 15,000 state workers will be put in a “labor reserve” at 60% wage and then let go after a year, hiring one back for every five let go). Life will go on, a light will supposedly be seen at the end of Europe’s debt tunnel and there will be little disruption in the world markets come Monday morning. Bankers will continue to use your money for the purposes of getting good returns for their investors.

However, if the far left coalition, Syriza, wins the election, they have promised to renounce the austerity measures, which would force the Eurozone to hold back bailout money and possibly force Greece from the Eurozone, default on all its debts and return Greece to the Drachma. Hopefully, Greece would still have 300 able bodied soldiers to hold the “Hot Gates” while they worked something else out. This would “have devastating effects on the Eurozone AND the world economy.” Also, I assume that would also include human sacrifice, cats and dogs living together and mass hysteria. So, apparently, Mr. and Mrs. America, it’s not YOU that matters to the global economy and governments, it’s Greece.

The next in line after Greece are Spain and Italy. If these countries falter on paying their debts, then you can rest assured that the recession of 2008-2009 will look like a walk in the park. Any money that you have left that isn’t under you mattress or in the form of food and water and guns is going to be worthless. You think it’s hard to find a job now? Wait until the pockets of every company and government agency puckers up like a virgin on prom night. For some reason, the world consumer is more important to American politicians and companies than you are.

The swing states that “will decide the election”

If you don’t live in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Virginia, and North Carolina, then you don’t need to vote this fall in the general election. You see, YOUR state has already been given by the media to Obama or Romney. It doesn’t matter how you vote in the other 37 states, if you don’t live in the 13 that matter, then your vote won’t make a difference.

The shadow of unlimited money looms over the U.S. Government.

No matter where you live, you will still be subjected to the constant bombardment of TV ads for candidates, bought and paid for by people with more money than you or I or our friends combined will ever have. Recently, it was suggested that there might not be enough ad time on TV to fit in all the political ads that will be bought and aired on TV this fall. All this from people whose money now counts as free speech (thanks to the Supreme Court and “Citizens United”). That means that you no longer count as much as a person who has more money than you. Equal representation indeed! And you were worried that the LGTB’s getting the right to married made you less of a person…

So, you see? “You” don’t matter anymore. Sorry, you.

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