Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Martian by Andy Weir – Book

the Martian

The Martian by Andy Weir does not read like science fiction. Of course we know it is sci-fi because we have not had and do not have an astronaut living on Mars. However, because the author sticks to technology that we already, pretty much, have available, and because travel in space as described in this book is still in about the same exploratory stage as we are in right now, the story reads as science. In this story, Mark Whatney goes to Mars on the Aries 3 Mission from NASA with five other astronauts. The mission lands successfully on Mars, the main habitat “tent” called the “Hab” is set up, and all life support is connected. The six astronauts have claimed their hammocks and set up the tools for their various duties on the mission.

Mars, however, seems to reject them. Violent dust storms are common on Mars and could destroy their transport home and strand all the astronauts if strong enough, and the storm that suddenly arrives is very strong. It is decided between the Aries 3 Commander and NASA that the mission will be aborted and that everyone must suit up and head back to the ship to return to earth. It is a huge disappointment for such a well-planned and expensive mission but NASA is always “safety first” even if mostly because the public would turn against them and funding would dry up.

Everyone, once suited, and after grabbing only essential items, heads out the “Hab” airlock for the ship. Mark Whatney, the mission’s engineer and botanist is last out and as he moves through the storm towards the ship, an antenna breaks off some piece of equipment and pierces his EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity) suit. He is blown over and lies, partially buried in sand, O2 leaking out into the thin Martian atmosphere, which is incapable of sustaining a human. The crew believes Mark to be dead (which they check by an up close and personal inspection of his situation) and they regretfully, but necessarily, board their ship and leave Mars.

But we find that Mark is not dead. His blood has clotted around the antenna and sealed the hole in his suit. When he comes to he is alone on Mars and, since the antenna which has pierced his suit is part of the satellite array which was destroyed, he is unable to communicate with either the ship or with NASA.

What would you do? Would you end it all quickly or would you make plans for surviving the four years between that moment and when the next mission arrives? Well we can guess that Mark chose to live because otherwise there would be no book. After that it is a fascinating journey through a stark landscape with an astonishingly cheerful and adaptive and quintessentially American engineer/botanist who has an enormous set of very sophisticated supplies and equipment at his sole disposal, but enough food for only one of his four years on Mars.

I can’t tell you how it ends (because it would make you very angry) but I can tell you that this is a unique book, sort of Gravity, but on a planet and over an extended period of time. I can also tell you that Mark’s successes and setbacks and the extreme challenges of having Mars as an adversary will keep you on the edge of your seat (to borrow a compliment from the world of movies). It makes us think much more realistically about what learning to be pioneers in space will involve and it would make me even more determined to keep my feet on terra firma, but I bet the book will not have that affect on everyone. This is not fine literature with subtle themes and symbolisms, but it is a very absorbing story and the author’s writing skills are excellent enough that they do not ever get in the way.

By Nancy Brisson

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Tipping the Balance Towards Oblivion



Part One: Quick quiz:  Find a pen and some paper. Take one minute and list as many wars as you remember.


Here’s my list if you want to compare:

  • The War of the Roses
  • The Peloponnesian War
  • The Hundred Years War
  • The Boxer Rebellion
  • The American Revolution
  • The French Revolution
  • The Russian Revolution
  • The French and Indian War
  • The War of 1812
  • Custer’s Last Stand
  • World War I
  • World War II
  • The Spanish American War
  • The Crimean War
  • The Crusades
  • The Iraq War
  • The Afghanistan War
  • Desert Storm
  • The Civil War
  • The Arab Spring
  • The Boer War
  • The War in Bosnia
  • The Korean War (military action)

It is very, very difficult to imagine a world with no wars. Peace and prosperity that persists over time is not something we trust or believe in, although it is definitely something we long for.

PartTwo: Make a list of countries you thought would likely upset our hopes for a peaceful world.


Here’s my list (in no particular order):

  • Iran
  • Afghanistan
  • Israel and Palestine
  • Syria
  • Egypt
  • Nigeria
  • Somalia
  • Congo
  • Sudan
  • (many African nations)
  • China (expansion in South China Sea)
  • Thailand
  • North Korea
  • Venezuela

Unless you are Tom Clancy (Command Authority) you probably would not have placed Russia on the list of nations likely to be troubled and troubling until just last week.

As I have heard people say on the internet and television, you may have felt that Putin’s behavior has seemed somewhat pathological recently, arrogant one moment, pouty the next. President Putin makes me (and others) nervous. I don’t know if he makes me more nervous than Ted Cruz, but I can’t think of a cartoon character to compare him to and, for me, that’s a bad sign.

Who would have thought, given all the other nations where unrest seems ready to explode into violence at each and every moment, that Russia would add to and trump all the rest of the world’s burdens – not because of any horrors that were perpetrated, but because of what this action portends for the future. We don’t want another monster on the loose. We already have Assad who would rather obliterate “his” country and its people than let go of the reins of government. We already have the prison camp drawings that came out of North Korea recently. Crimea went to Putin easily, but if he goes on to try to annex Ukraine will they prove to be as agreeable (scared)?

I understand that President Putin wants a sea port. It seems clear that the people of Crimea do not mind rejoining Russia. Why did Putin, who I wanted to put in the ranks of modern, enlightened leaders, have to resort to using troops to scare the Crimean people? This seems to be a case where diplomacy would have worked. Yet Putin did not even try it. With all those foreboding troops around it is really hard to guess if the people of Crimean are truly happy to rejoin Russia.

Now we have to add Russia to that long list of countries with political stresses that could affect the entire direction of the world. It looked like we were headed, slowly and rather explosively, towards that peace and prosperity we all long for, that modern, civilized global community where we all get along and work together to explore the enormous universe that surrounds us. Now this goal seems even further away than it did last month or last year. It would be so easy to fall backwards into a new Dark Age. Now we have a new and really giant nation, with plenty of nukes, to add to that list of worrisome nations who could send us spiraling backwards at any ragged moment. Can we figure out a way to take a long, long vacation from war? It sure doesn’t look promising.




This is the view from the cheap seats.

By Nancy Brisson

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The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

the rosie project

I’m not sure about the science behind The Rosie Project, a novel by Graeme Simsion. The author suggests that individuals on the autism spectrum, who often have a lot of gene-driven tics and who don’t usually desire lots of physical contact, may find the symptoms of their autism somewhat ameliorated when they fall in love with someone. This very possibly depends on where the individual falls on that spectrum and what exact form their autism takes. However Graeme Simsion does not really pretend to be scientific, although his main character is a scientist, an associate professor of genetics at a university in Australia.

The Rosie Project is a light-hearted and fun romance which suggests that there really might be someone for everyone. Our hero, Don Tillman is forty and has decided he wants a wife and a family despite his idiosyncrasies. He designs a questionnaire which he hopes will end the dating disasters of his recent past and help him find that soul mate who shares his love of promptness, scheduling rigidity, dietary preferences, health preferences (no smoking, some alcoholic intake) and his dedication to physical fitness, and who can be comfortable with or at least overlook his lack of social skills (he only has two friends).

I enjoyed the idea of the Wife Project but it barely gets off the ground before Don meets Rosie (who he thinks his friend, Gene, sent as a candidate for the Wife Project). He sees how totally inappropriate Rosie is for him and he eliminates her as a romantic possibility, but he takes on a crazy and quasi-illegal project to find Rosie’s birth father. The Father Project changes Don more than any other thing that he has previously tackled in this life and wreaks lots of havoc with his very rigid schedule.

Just imagine if Sheldon Cooper and Penny from The Big Bang fell in love (if you can). That hypothetical would probably be a bit like the slice of unlikely and explosive we find here. Could Penny change Sheldon? Well, as Penny would say, “that’s a good question”. I suspect those two might not have made it which is why the writers didn’t build the show around a romance between Sheldon and Penny. Still it’s interesting to see what happens when Don meets Rosie, and it’s very entertaining.  (Also on

By Nancy Brisson

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The Paul Ryan Zombie Budget

Paul Ryanandbudget6

The Paul Ryan budget has not changed much since he ran as the Republican candidate for Vice President in 2012. Along with Mitt Romney and the Republican Party, Paul Ryan lost that 2012 election. Not only did Paul Ryan lose the election, his budget was part of the reason he and his cohorts lost that election. However, it has become clearer and clearer since 2008 that Republicans do not get their agenda from the majority of Americans. Their policies are based on a theory which says that giving people in need some of the things they need destroys their initiative, turns them into deadbeats and that real humanitarians should withdraw any government help from those who live in poverty. The first time I heard this backwards nonsense I thought everyone would see through it. It had that “Emporer’s New Clothes” feeling about it. It was an invisible suit. There is absolutely no proof that this theory is correct and there is lots of proof that societies which don’t have programs that keep people from abject poverty suffer from a rise in crime, disease, and abuse of children and women that prevents the people who live in such a society from having productive and satisfying lives. There will be lots of turning a blind eye and holding a perfumed handkerchief to one’s nose.

Here’s what is in the Paul Ryan budget which we thought we beat in 2012, but which is back and which keeps coming back like an un-killable zombie budget.

  1. Budget cuts of 5.8 trillion from discretionary spending to be enforced by a binding cap. A Christian Science Monitor article that offers a great summary says, “[c]ritics say all other programs labeled “discretionary”, from the FBI to the FDA, would face massive reductions as a result, while Pentagon contractors are shielded.”
  2. Taxes would become 2 flat tax rates, $100,000 and under will pay 10%, over $100,000 will pay 25% with a net result of $4 trillion reduction in taxes over 10 years which will disproportionately benefit the wealthy. Critics say that this plan will require a broader tax base and getting rid of popular deductions.
  3. Medicare would become a “premium support” program for workers under 55 beginning in 2023 with seniors getting a fixed sum every year to buy at the Medicare exchanges. Traditional fee-for-service Medicare would still be an option. Those with lower incomes would get higher supports, and vice versa. This budget will cap Medicare spending after 2023 at .5% of GDP. Again, according to the Christian Science Monitor, “[c]ritics say this is a voucher program that would shift more healthcare costs onto seniors’ backs.”  The CBO (Congressional Budget Office) says “beneficiaries participating in the new premium support program would bear a much larger share of their health-care costs than they would under the traditional program.”
  4. The Medicaid program would see a change in federal government participation under the Paul Ryan budget to a defined block grant of cash to the states. (We have been to block grant territory before and we know what needy states do with block grants – they start out with the best intentions and then the supports get less and less and the funds get siphoned off to other needs.) The Christian Science Monitor says “[c]ritics say Ryan’s path to reform could heavily damage the program.”
  5. Food stamps, farm supports and government autos are programs that are also drastically changed or drastically cut in the Paul Ryan budget. His budget will turn food stamps into a block grant program also and will require recipients to meet work or job-training requirements (which says nothing about what will happen to disabled or unemployable people who need food stamps). Ryan would eliminate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and reduce the federal auto fleet by 20% (not sure how upset we should actually get about that). It will also cut federal farm supports by 30 billion over 10 years.

Paul Ryanandbudget5

While this may sound quite practical to some because it is, after all, a plan that cuts both the cost and the size of government, we should remember that this asks the 99% to bear the brunt of the budget changes (even though we don’t have anywhere near 99% of the nation’s wealth) and that some of these changes are quite extreme, especially in the areas of health care and poverty programs. There are ways to parse this that would ask the wealthy 1%, who have passed laws which funnel profits into their own pockets, to pay more taxes and give up some of their tax loopholes (capital gains, estate tax exemption, and interest and dividend exceptions.)

Paul Ryanandbudget3

I am pretty certain that the majority of Americans, given a clear grasp of what is in this Paul Ryan budget that will not die, would vote it down again and again, every time it rises from the dead, (as they did in 2012). If it were to pass it would confirm my belief that this American government is no longer the people’s government. This smaller government agenda is becoming our new American reality in spite of the fact that the people keep saying “no”. How can that be?

The only solution I can see that may get across our strong disapproval of both Paul Ryan and his budget is to go to the polls in November and elect Democrats in 2014 and then turn around and do it again in 2016. If you don’t like this budget and you stay away from the polls, you will actually be voting for it.

If you are not in the 1% and you do want to vote for this budget, you have been brainwashed to vote against your own best interests and you will deserve what you get, but I don’t think that will make the rest of us feel any better.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

By Nancy Brisson

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American Hustle – Movie

American Hustle2

Last Sunday it was a cold day, another cold day in a record string of cold days and nights this winter; but much too cold for this late in March. However, it was a great day to put some Moroccan Chicken (sauce from a package) into the slow cooker and rent a movie from FIOS On Demand. I decided on American Hustle which I wanted to see before the Oscars, but which I find myself still curious about.

I have read about the very loose connection between the hustle in this movie and a real life trap set by law enforcement to catch politicians selling political favors for money. I have also read that the facts are too different to provide viewers with any useful information about ABSCAM, so I knew that I could not collect historical facts from this film.

American Hustle involves two individuals, both conmen (although one of the two is a woman, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) and the other is Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) who grew up poor and have reinvented themselves as many times as necessary in order to survive and to even, perhaps, thrive. Instead of letting ethical considerations enter into their survival schemes, they have opted for various hustles that suited their personality strengths and their lack of formal education or training.

It often seems that when it comes to the American Dream and the paths Americans take to achieve it we don’t penalize people who break the rules in their pursuit of success, or even those who break the laws as long as they are not caught in the act. We have long accepted rich scoundrels and black marketers and others whose fortunes may have once been accompanied by a slight stink. Once they are stinking rich, these things no longer matter. There is a fine line between creative and crooked. If you add an S to America you get Scamerica, and although we admire fortunes cleanly made, wealthy is still wealthy, and success is still success, especially if the past obscures the provenance.

We often find that there is also a fine line between those who enforce our laws and those who break our laws. The behavior of the FBI and its allies in this film is not much of a shock to our rather cynical psyches. There are principled law enforcers, but in this film they are side-lined and mocked by their seamier colleagues whose ambition outweighs their moral fiber. In the end we are cheered by the success of the crooks, because the crooked law enforcers are even more disgusting (and less talented) than the scammers.

The seventies details in the film are beautifully done and we find that the exposure of male hair disasters (the comb-over, the perm) both reveal our heroes sleaziness and for some strange reason provoke our sympathies. We find we eventually come to overlook these flaws as we become more engrossed in the complex plot in which illegal cons and semi-legal cons and interpersonal jealousies and attractions wind up and unwind and rewind again.

Jennifer Lawrence did stand out in this movie, but she was not in enough scenes to qualify for an Oscar in my estimation. If I had gone to see this film expecting history, I might have been disappointed but as I was prepared for this pretty extensive departure into fiction, I found myself thinking all the thoughts which have spilled out on this page. I couldn’t help but also have a few thoughts about New Jersey politics as depicted in the film and as we find playing out in 2014 New Jersey with the recent allegations about the Chris Christie “time for a traffic jam in Fort Lee” administration and other unique features of doing politics in New Jersey – except, in the film, I really liked the governor of New Jersey and his wife.

(You can always find a full cast list if you enter the title in any search engine.)

(As for the Moroccan Chicken from the Campbell’s Slow Cooker collection it had a suitably exotic flavor, but it was quite spicy; too spicy for me. With a little dilution using chicken broth and the addition of a carb – I used leftover penne, it made a tasty dinner.)

by Nancy Brisson

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Religion and Women

women and god5

Our religions have written traditions, books that codify the roots and rules of a people’s lives and the organized worship of their Gods or their deities. They show that Earth’s people have had faith in a Supreme Being (or more than one) for centuries. The difficulty is that the texts that support these religions all show a strong patriarchal bent. Women, in every religious tradition I can think of, were and are relegated to the background. Women were thought to be impure and weak and, as such, to be kept away from the most sacred roles within the church. Women were accepted as nurturers, providers of food and sustenance, comforters of the poor and sick, and even educators of the children, but not religious scholars or capable of the mystical business of interpreting often cryptic or symbolic religious texts. The whole pretext of most world religions is that religious rules were handed from God (or Allah, or Yahweh) to man and then communicated by men to women. (I am not as sure of the provenance in Eastern religions.)

In modern times, when women hope to share equal footing with men, the very patriarchal nature of religious dogma or doctrine is at war with this desire for such sweeping equality, at war with a future where men and women stand together, all toes to the same line, facing what may prove to be a somewhat androgynous future. The opposition to this so-called feminist view is fierce, as we see everyday even in cultures that have made as much progress towards this goal as America. And it puts women in the very tough situation of having to be at odds with their own religion. Can women have devotion to a patriarchal religious tradition and equality with men? This does not seem possible. The entire doctrine of most religions places women in a second-class role and some religions require total public separation between women and men who are not their partners. It is difficult to see any solution that puts women in control of their own spirituality and their own lives and yet allows them to belong to any organized religion as it exists today.

Religion should not rule a woman’s behavior to the degree that she cannot appear in public uncovered, or be educated, or have any career she is prepared for and in which she is competent enough to succeed, or even to plan her own pregnancies so that they will coordinate with her life goals and her parental ambitions and capabilities. But every religion tends to have more laws regulating female behavior than men would ever accept. Women are often making the decision to opt out of religion rather than try to reconcile their life goals with patriarchal religious judgment. Religion, even the religion of a Pope as benign and seemingly tolerant as Pope Francis, is not designed to give women the freedom they need to live satisfying lives that they control.

If God (as handed down in these patriarchal traditions) doesn’t believe in a woman’s right to control reproduction, or even her own intelligence or freedom, and if men don’t believe that babies and children should be cared for in supportive social programs that allow women to continue to pursue their goals, then women will have to do without God, and, in fact, they have been doing so, or they will have to be in a state of almost perpetual sin, which is apparently where most religions put them anyway. I suppose we will not see a new Bible handed down anytime soon, or a new Koran or a new Torah for that matter, so I have no idea, short of a second coming or an apocalypse, how women will solve being religious beings and equal human beings at one and the same time. We obviously are nowhere near finding that balance yet. (This may explain why women like the term spiritual so much, as you can be spiritual without being necessarily religious.)

By Nancy Brisson

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Nebraska – Movie




Now I don’t know if Nebraska is a film for everyone. Someone younger may feel the same way about watching this film as I did about watching This is the End. Nebraska is not an action flick, unless you like watching a really old, out-of-shape, not-too-steady-on-his-feet guy set off again and again to walk from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska.

Unless you have a mom like mine who keeps buying things from Publisher’s Clearing House and then believing that her 1 million dollars will be arriving any day now, you may not want to watch a son try to convince his dad that he did not win the $1 million prize from a similar contest.

Perhaps you grew up in a small farm town as our main character Woody Grant, our walking man with the flyaway white hair (Bruce Dern) and his wife (Kate Grant/June Squibb) did. When the son (David Grant/Will Forte) decides to take his dad to Lincoln, Nebraska so he won’t die a horrible and lonely death walking down an interstate, the two end up in his dad’s old home town, back near the family farm for a night (which becomes several nights). If you come from a rural town with perhaps a bar or a VFW where all the old vets gather, you’ll get this little gem of a black and white movie. It’s a journey film. It’s a travel back in time film. It’s a get-in-touch-with-your roots film.

We are already pretty sure that Woody Grant is “not a winner”. However, his very certainty starts to make us almost believe. Does he deserve the prize? He was, and is, a taciturn, alcoholic husband and father and a practiced curmudgeon; but do only nice people win prizes?

I don’t want to tell you too much about this movie because I believe it is worth seeing and that it will touch something nostalgic and real in almost everyone. The movie may be corny – it reminds me of the Cheerios commercial where the son asks the father if there’s a prize in the box of cereal and the father responds, “there’s a prize alright, sort of”. Well that exactly describes this very nicely done little film. “There’s a prize alright, sort of”.


By Nancy Brisson

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Painting the Town Red


I live in New York State. My governor is Andrew Cuomo. For some reason he threw out an ultimatum to the Republican Party saying that he would not welcome extreme Republican politics in New York State. At the time I thought “why not just wave a red flag in front of a bull” and that seems to be how his remarks were perceived by the Tea Party marauders who have given our current government its Clockwork Orange vibe.

I live center state and I recall a pretty liberal bent to our newspaper. However, the newspaper recently had to downsize and become a morph of digital presence and print publication and it seems to have come back with a definite move to the right. I used to publish editorials in this paper, but recent submissions do not appear in print. We actually elected a Tea Party candidate, Ann Marie Buerkle, and sent her off to the House of Representatives. No one made a big deal of her extreme views before we sent her off but once in Washington she proceeded to pursue her own far-right agenda and ignore dissenting voices from home. She only lasted two years and we sent a Democrat back to Washington but it put us on the right-wing radar and now Governor Cuomo has turned up the strength of the signal. Republicans don’t like to lose ground and they do not like what our governor said. These Republicans get mad, and then they get even.

Now they have loosed a plethora of Republican candidates on our Democrat (who is perceived as somewhat weak) and there will be an election in 2014 in which we are likely to be inundated with GOP PAC money.

As if there were not enough signs, Donald Trump has been here – twice! We are in big trouble.


This is the view from the cheap seats.

By Nancy Brisson

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Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant by Veronica Roth – Books

The Divergent Series

Young adult writers have been producing some wonderful books, starting with JK Rowling and her Harry Potter books which brought young adult fiction and, in fact, fiction for older children into the present age. There have always been some great writers whose books were appropriate to and appealed to tween and teen readers and which were also meaty enough to satisfy adult readers. There have been a number of series with volumes of unrelated stories that used the same characters such as The Bobbsey Twins which are no longer politically correct, but which I enjoyed as a child, and the Nancy Drew books, and The Babysitter’s Club books. But these contemporary creations of longer stories that continue over multiple volumes are relatively new to young adult fiction. We saw this trend continue with The Hunger Games trilogy of Susanne Collins and now in Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant by Veronica Roth.

This trilogy, often called The Divergent Series has the most important requirement of all literature; it is obsessively readable. Don’t be caught finishing one book before you have access to the next one because it may lead to crabbiness. We drop into a city that has landmarks we recognize, but a city that has been through something traumatic. Some parts of the city are nearly intact, some are in ruins and the lake that made the city so distinctive is dry. Roth’s characters appeal immediately. We are introduced to the factions Abnegation, Erudite, Candor, Dauntless and Amity by our main character Beatrice as she meets and experiences people from these different groups.

It is time for the exams which help “graduating” students know which faction is right for them. Our Beatrice, although a member of Abnegation, a faction of service and self-denial, is clearly not suited to a life spent on the down-low. She admires the Dauntless young people she sees who leap on and off of the trains, who take risks and seem free and strong. But her test results are inconclusive. She shows talents in three areas and she could be sent out into the lawless spaces of the city to be factionless, because having more than one talent is considered “Divergent” and means you don’t fit in. Some Divergents even die or disappear. Tori, who administers Beatrice’s tests hides her Divergent scores and explains what her choices are. At the “choosing ceremony” Beatrice chooses Dauntless and when she arrives at her new faction she meets Four, the love of her life, and gets her own nickname, Tris (from Bladerunner, perhaps?).

Is a society that assigns character traits to different factions likely to produce a satisfying lifestyle for humans? Can we be engineered so that a tendency towards certain traits can be socially selected as traits dominant enough to allow an individual to fit into one faction for life? If so, then why do the factions seem to be unraveling?

Tris and Four (Tobias) make a perfect couple. We love to root for them to stay together and we think we will just stop reading altogether if their love does not grow. But a changing world is always threatening to pull them apart. Genetics plays a huge role in these stories and Veronica Roth poses a number of scientific, societal and governmental questions that offer thoughtful philosophical puzzles that get both young adult and adult brains churning. However, you have to read all three books in the trilogy to get there.

Bravo Veronica Roth. This trilogy of books, Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant is the real deal, an engrossing and unforgettable read (unless you encounter that memory serum that wipes memory – READ THE BOOKS).

by Nancy Brisson

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That Monotonous Republican Bass Line

bass line

Why is 2014 about Obamacare? It shouldn’t be. Republicans are controlling the dialogue. America has other things on its mind. Obamacare is up and running and we are willing to see how it well it works. Why are we Americans letting our attention get deflected back to Obamacare over and over again?

The media contributes to this problem:

  1. Because they still want to blame both parties for stalled government when they really know that the Dems cannot compromise with the present incarnation of the GOP. Democrats would have to move all the way to the right because the GOP is in “take no prisoners” mode.
  2. The media doesn’t want to or can’t admit that we are down to two viable parties, Democrats and Independents. The GOP is no longer functioning within the Constitution or the framework of the American government.
  3. The media, in its attempts to be unbiased, keeps forcing us to listen to Republicans, but Republicans are, very effectively, repeating words over and over, which have become iconic, not through their great resounding honesty or any idealistic policy pursuit, but through just low level, irritating brainwashing with a very monotonous beat. So we get a constant bass line running through all of the media right now: Obamacare, Benghazi, IRS, Obamacare, Obamacare – and this bass line is so insistent that Americans are not able to concentrate on the melody, which would be any of the topics we actually wish to make progress on.

The topics Americans do want to talk about are also well known. We return to these fleeting themes once in a while when we manage to turn down the volume on that old bass line. These include the issues Americans really want to tackle and here is the list, so we can start a whole new bass line, the American people’s bass line.

More income equality



Schools (we do not necessarily mean the same thing by this these days)

Raising the minimum wage

Poverty, moderating it, perhaps ending it



There are few solutions for this impasse because the media cannot just ignore the Republican Party and only speak with Democrats and/or Independents, but the Republicans have learned how to grab the mike and take us back to that same bass line: Obamacare, Benghazi, IRS, Obamacare, Obamacare and to their new, even more monotonous one: O bama care, O bama care, O bama care, O bama care.

The American people really don’t want to talk about Obamacare or Benghazi or the IRS and yet the media must interview Republicans even as they continue to beat that one note drum, and this is how Republicans are making Americans dissatisfied with government, and the media and its fairness dilemma is why Americans still do not realize that they should focus their dissatisfaction on the Republican Party.

We need to elect Democrats in 2014 but it looks like we have already lost. In fact, as soon as Citizen’s United was approved by the Supremes (Supreme Court) and as soon as the most significant section of the Voting Rights Act was overturned by those same Supremes, the handwriting was already on the wall. Are we doomed, or can the American people grab back the mike, set a new bass line and put our government on a much more moderate path by electing Democrats in 2014? We could do it by voting, but will we?

This is the view from the cheap seats.

By Nancy Brisson

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