Open Letter Sent To NBC:
Even a casual observer can see and hear the exponential leap into mediocrity The Voice takes as soon as it is opened up to unchecked American audience voting. Compelling and durable television is smart, unique and inspiring. But those qualities completely go away when the producers allow the audience to start determining all. Adam Levine’s notorious lament of frustration last year, “I hate this country” is totally understandable given the overwhelming country music leanings which surface over and over again in the face of audience votes. A lot of us feel there should be a separate country music version of the show.
Matthew Schuler is one of the most talented artists to emerge anywhere in recent memory. His dismissal last night is the latest harbinger of the show’s inevitable descent into unwatchable wasteland. The show’s popularity may seem unassailable – but if the producers are smart, they will see the need to change the voting mechanism to temper unbridled audience opinion as the sole driver. Instead of Twitter, find a way to bring the coaches expertise and opinions back into the equation. Or maybe there’s a way for the opinions of the initial co-coaches to weigh in at points of elimination. It is a mistake to suddenly render the celebrity coaches completely impotent at a certain point in the show. Unfiltered mob rule is always wrong and dumb. The audience wants and needs the opinions and decisions of the celebrity coaches they revere.
It will be depressing to watch the blind auditions knowing what will inevitably happen to the best and brightest. The Voice has always been one of my favorites. But unless there’s a change in the voting process, I doubt that I will watch next season or ever again.
(written in response to the original Mother Of All Bailouts ordered up by George W. just before he left office. Remember?)
Privatizing Profits, Socializing Losses: The Familiar Face of Terror
Does anyone else smell a rat that’s far bigger than anything brought to light thus far? The Bush administration has always been adept at using the tactic of fear to motivate action in the direction it prescribes. The President’s address tonight was a carefully crafted study in sky-is-falling panic inducement. And now McCain is adding his apocalyptic warnings of imminent doom and gloom. What a surprise. We are too slowly – and too late to save the lives of thousands of Americans and Iraqis – beginning to realize how effective and enormously costly this tactic has been. Why should we believe for one instant that this 700 billion dollar bailout for their fat cat Wall Street cronies is any different?
This administration knows its days in power are numbered. Its craven and transparent favoritism and imperialistic lack of accountability and integrity have left wholesale wreckage of our nation both at home and abroad. Given that they are going down and on the way out, the possibility that this 11th hour appeal to panic and terror in an already skittish economic environment, begins to look more and more like exactly what one congressman called it: “The biggest grab for money and power in history.” Let’s wake up and realize that this is the scene in the movie where the crooks who are being chased out of town, bamboozle the mayor, the sheriff and the town council into emptying all of the remaining coffers, and paying the bandits’ way to happily ever after on a tropical island somewhere.
We have already demonstrated our squeamishness around impeachment and our hesitancy to pursue any of the Bush gang for war crimes. So if there’s a slight “miscalculation” or a tad of “over reaction”, and the gargantuan bail out plan actually becomes a catalyst for the epic economic disaster it supposedly is designed to avert – no one will be pursuing or prosecuting anyone. The players in this administration will be cooling their heels and counting their cash enjoying retirement on a lavish scale. The rest of us, including the new President, will be a bit too busy fighting for survival to care too much at that point. And yes, I think the Bush boys know that.
I’m not an economist. But fundamentally this has little to do with economics. This is about as close to abuse of power and manipulation through terror as the institution of American democracy has ever approached. There is a somewhat disturbing prediction from Australia’s Kevin Burton and other so-called Pattern Recognition Specialists that a major terrorist attack on the U.S. is highly likely during the final weeks before the Presidential election and that, unlike 9/11, this attack would be quiet and very difficult to detect. The attack, Burton postulates, may already be underway. A bail out is much quieter than a bomb. And this time we still may not be ready to believe that these terrorists can be found in our own backyard and are actually living in the big White House in Washington D.C.