Category: Podcast Scripts

The BetaFiles Episode 10 Script

The BetaFiles

 

Date: 5/18/18

Episode# BB010

Subject: Political Messages 

 

Introduction:

May 18, 2018. North Carolina joins the long list of protest states, Kim Jung Un is leaning towards not letting Trump play with his toys, Democrats win big in the small arena, the  Senate releases Don Jr.’s diary, Trump’s check book gets an enema, someone important is getting married this weekend and we don’t give two shits about it, and Dr J is here to talk about political messages for the upcoming midterms – say hello to my little friend – I’m the Barbour and this is The BetaFiles

The Week in News:

In a time of darkness and cold, when all seems lost to tweets and snatch grabbing, there’s one place that Americans can find solace – The BetaFiles week in News…(soundbite)

Welcome to the BetaFiles, here’s what’s trending on the cable news tickers…

Wednesday saw a flurry of news, starting with North Carolina as it became the latest state to see teachers protest over current education spending. 40 school districts closed down Wednesday in the right to work state that saw thousands of teachers put in for time off so they could descend on Raleigh and demand increased pay and spending for supplies, facilities, and better policies. Something else that North Carolina has introduced to the now running conversation over education: class size. So far, North Carolina and Oklahoma have been the only two states where demands included reform in class size, citing too many pupils for far too less teachers.

The day started with a march on the capital before moving to the mall outside the capital building where a rally for respect was staged and Governor Roy Cooper spoke. Throughout the day, state representatives and senators met with the teachers in efforts to learn more about the struggles teachers in the tar heel state were facing.

North Carolina is ranked 38th in spending per student and ranks 37th nationally at nearly $10,000 lower than the average in teacher pay. In recent years, the state has given raises, but has in turn cut pay for longtime teachers and removed bonus pay for teachers who receive an advanced degree. There is worry that the Republican led legislature is going to cut another $3.6 billion in revenue, with education as one of the major targets, again.

The protests, according to leaders of the movement, are the culmination of years of constant education cuts and policy changes that have put more and more strain on the system. The leaders of the movement hope to use the protests as a means to campaign for more candidates that support public education and support reform to the ailing system. The goal is to rally for the November elections that can help turn the state house and senate towards a more education friendly capital. Every seat in both chambers is open in the coming elections, and with the recent district re-drawing, some of the seats that were solidly republican are now extremely competitive.

State republicans claim that there is no need for the call for extra spending, claiming that this year will mark the fifth teacher raise in as many years, but what they refuse to even debate is the spending on classrooms, students, and better policies.

When asked for comment, one random citizen commented, “I don’t understand why the teachers are complaining, we already buy the kid’s crayons, glue sticks, index cards, folders, notebooks, Kleenex, hand sanitizer, markers, paper, post-its, and cup-cakes for birthdays. Why are they bitching so much?”

So let’s get this out of the way…

Another big story from Wednesday brought news that Trump paid Cohen lots of money according to his spending records given to the Office of Government Ethics. Reportedly, the $100,000 payment to Cohen was listed under the “liabilities” section of the report. In a statement from Trump’s personal lawyers, it was noted that the expense was between $100,000 and $250,000 which fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen for services rendered in 2016.

The reason why this is important: we still don’t know. He lied. He keeps lying. He will always lie. And his supporters don’t care, so we at The BetaFiles don’t care either.

Another massive story, one that matters, from Wednesday came when Twitter blew up with thousands of tweets and retweets announcing the vote on Net Neutrality in the Senate. The measure passed with all 49 Democrats and 3 Republicans voting for the move to keep Net Neutrality open, rejecting a move by the FCC last December to end it. Net Neutrality ends in June if Congress doesn’t move fully to restore it. The measure now moves to the House where it is up to Paul “I’m calling it in now” Ryan will decide if it should be taken up for a vote before sending it on to President Trump who will more than likely veto the measure as it attempts to defy his administration and its actions.

Speculation is that the move this week was more for campaigns for the Midterm elections, hoping that a larger number of Democratic wins can help bring the measure back up with a veto block vote count.

For those who are in the dark, Net Neutrality forces ISPs to allow equal bandwidth to all services dependent on the internet. Once Net Neutrality ends, many fear that the major ISPs like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T will repackage their internet subscriptions, and throttle certain services such as Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Spotify in an effort to boost their own services, or force consumers to pay more for access to their favorite internet based services.

Several of the larger ISPs have publicly stated that they will self-regulate themselves and keep the old Net Neutrality rules as guidelines for consumers. However, with recent developments like Spectrum, who continues to raise rates to former TimeWarner customers, and the possibility of a T-Mobile and Sprint merger which may signal an industry wide increase in data plans, faith in the ISPs is little, and fears of new scaffolded data plans based on internet services are becoming a slow, painful reality.

Speaking of painful realities, Michigan State University on Wednesday announced that it would pay $500 million to the 332 alleged victims of Michigan State where Larry Nasser worked as a sports physician and was found guilty of sexual misconduct where he is serving a sentence of 40 – 170 years. The settlement is only for the Michigan State victims and does not include the victims from the US Gymnastics team who are a part of a separate lawsuit. Michigan State, with the settlement, is now free from the Nasser drama, though the stain on the University will most certainly last for years to come, much like Penn State and the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, who is still investigating the Russia Election Meddling, released thousands of documents this week which gave details on several of the better-known portions of the story. The committee, unlike their House counterpart, announced that there is significant evidence to show that Russia did indeed try to influence the election for Trump, and that the call to do so came directly from Putin himself.

The documents released also shed a more detailed light on that infamous Trump Tower meeting with Don Jr and his party of adoption advocates. The notes revealed that Don Jr was ecstatic over getting possible dirt on Hillary, the first time in decades someone was excited to see her noughties, that Trump himself was personally responsible for the confusing misleads over the meeting when it became public, and Paul Manafort doesn’t know how to take damning notes about a meeting he’s not supposed to be a part of.

What it all means is that there is still plenty to learn about the dirty dealings of the bumbled Trump campaign and their attempt to use Russian intelligence against Hillary.

In the spirit of elections gone wrong, there were primaries this week which sent waves through the Democratic party, however, they were not the waves they had hoped for.

On Tuesday, in several contests in four states, the far left wing of the Democratic party won huge upsets, sending worries through the party that the moderate side of the party may be losing power in a moment when moderate politics is in desperate demand. The wins are a sign of several social responses to the current climate: 1)  that the left is vehemently against anything Trump, 2) that the extreme politics of the far right have sparked a desperate call for an equal and opposite reaction from the far left, 3) Bernie is a much better catalyst for liberals than any other Democrat out there at the moment.

What this means is that come November, there is fear that the moderate base that did not vote in those primaries will come out and move toward the Republican candidates who show more convincing signs of playing to the middle than the farther left wing candidates.

However, critics also point that this midterm could be a repeat of what happened in 2010 and 2014 when the Tea Party rose to power through midterm upsets. The largest campaign messages from these extreme candidates focus on health care for all, education, and immigration reform that includes solidifying programs such as DACA and work visa programs, recent targets of the Trump administration.

The moves have put new pressure on Bernie and his followers as it appears that even though he may not win a second bid at the presidency, it is obvious that he has become somewhat of a Democratic guru, and the far left is starting to steer the party away from the middle, much like the Neo-cons of the late nineties that steered the far right towards a Koch brother controlled tea party agenda.

On Sunday, the New York Times ran an expose on Betsy Devos and the department of education discussing how the department has derailed an investigation into for profit universities and wide spread abuses by those institutions. The teams that were in charge of investigating have been, the article claims, marginalized, reassigned, or instructed to focus on other matters, forcing them to slow down on the investigations and keep the remaining abuses to continue.

The smelly sock in the laundry basket is the fact that the universities that were at the top of the list being investigated are institutions where Mrs. Devos’ main advisors used to work.

The investigations, begun under the Obama administration, focus on advertising, recruitment practices, and fraudulent job placement claims from institutions such as DeVry, Strayer, and ECPI.

The investigations into DeVry slowed to a crawl last year when Devos hired former DeVry dean Julian Schmoke as the new supervisor to the investigation into – wait for it – DeVry. The investigation is technically still under way, but the team is down to 3 people who spend their time processing student loan forgiveness applications for DeVry.

In addition to the investigations into DeVry, Strayer and ECPI, four other investigations have been halted with half a dozen former for profit administrators assigned to upper offices in the department of education, and given significant power over the investigations, which have been all but abandoned.

DeVos has also rolled back regulations previously put in place after the collapse of both Corinthian Colleges and ITT in 2016. Critics, which include Senator Elizabeth Warren, are crying out that the moves by DeVos are built to put the industry’s interests ahead of its students, who find it harder to get a well paid job with the degrees they receive, and are saddled with enormous amounts of debt.

The DeVry investigation, the largest currently, became a point of contention with DeVos’ transition team early on in the administration, and has been the subject of several calls for re-opening and re-evaluating that have gone no-where. The signs all point in the same direction: DeVos is helping make for profits richer while their students pay the tab.

On a personal note, as a public instructor and assistant professor for a non-profit public institution, stay away from these institutions. Their degrees are worthless, the education you receive is not complete, and the amount of money needed is far more than a public education. These institutions are corner cuts for a piece of paper. When you cut corners, you get what you pay for. Cut corners.

Finally, the royal wedding. I blame Disney for our fascination with the royals. I blame Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and all the other Disney Princesses for this unholy worshipping of two people that are far richer than most of us. Their reception dinner will be more expensive than a dozen houses in a typical suburban neighborhood.

One thing I am happy about is this: Harry is getting a little attention. With William and Kate making like rabbits lately, its about time the other brother got some love. So, for all of us here at The BetaFiles, congrats, Harry and Megan. We wish you happiness and a better shot than Fergie got.

And that’s the news, or some of it, for this week…(exit soundbite)

LocalFiles:

(Soundbite)

Welcome to the LocalFiles. This week we look at Ville Platte, Louisiana where our story comes from the Ville Platte Gazette.

Local recent LSU English Graduate Jordan LaHaye has made the news as she is set to publish her first book, a creative non-fiction take on her Great Grandfather and his mysterious kidnapping and murder when he was the president of Guaranty Bank in Ville Platte. The book idea was born from her senior thesis at the University, and she has had the full support of her faculty who have advised her on interviews, research techniques, and marketing. The young Louisianan has always wanted to write and claims to have written her first book in Kindergarten about the Lords Prayer, the only thing she really knew.

She followed her dream into an English BA with a minor in mass communications claiming, “journalism is a good way to be able to write” on a more constant basis. She has written about folklore, local festivals, urban legends of her community, and women and gender studies. She has been published several times by Country Road magazine in Baton Rouge and In Register also of Baton Rouge which she completed an internship with while contributing. She has found success when she has kept her writing focused on local stories, where she has been able to bring older, forgotten tales back to life for the younger generations of the local community.

LaHaye also notes that she realized in her studies at the university that “people are interested in hearing about personal experiences. Some of the best writings are memoir types of things.”

She plans to work at a magazine somewhere, but as for the novel, she is still researching and writing, hoping to shed light on another local story, one that hits very close to her.

Found in 1983, the body of her great grandfather had been missing for 10 days after being abducted from his home at knifepoint. His kidnapper had demanded a ransom of half a million dollars, but never called again. The story rocked the area when he was found in a bayou. Now, 35 years later, Jordan LaHaye is preparing a creative non-fiction book that will tell his story for her community and the nation.

And that’s all for the LocalFiles for this week,  remember, if you have a local story you want read on the BetaFiles, email it to us at thebetafiles23@gmail.com, or send it through Facebook messenger or Twitter DM. You can find us on both networks as thebetafiles.  (exit soundbite)

 

Dr J Segment:

                                                (soundbite for J)

Ok –it is time to welcome my dear friend and colleague Dr. J. who is here to join me in a short discussion about Political Messages ahead of the coming midterm elections in America…What’s up, man?

(Exit soundbite)

Closing segment:

This week, I want to take a moment to address the elephant that will not leave the room: President Trump.

I remember back in the late 90s when I was in college, I had a debate with a fellow classmate in my British Lit class over Bill Clinton. At the time, we had just learned about Monica Lewinski, and my sparing partner that day was adamant that then President Clinton needed to be removed from office because he had lied under oath about his sexual exploits. Ken Star was a house hold name, Paula Jones was another. We had just escaped a government shutdown where Clinton won a political victory over Newt and the “Republican revolutionaries” of the ’94 midterms.

My stance was simple: he was the first President to get caught with his pants down, literally. My contention was that all Presidents had lied about affairs, all the way back as far as we could count Presidents with maybe the lone exception of John Adams.

We know about Kennedy and his exploits, about FDR and his getaways with his mistress, about Johnson and his pride over his Texas sized Johnson, etc. Why was this new?

The major problem: he lied under oath.

That was a stickler, and it warranted the scrutiny it deserved.

So, living through that moment, I can’t help but to compare it with our current moment and the Stormy Daniels affair.

I have heard numerous conservatives and liberals that lean moderate say the same thing I said 20 years ago: why do we care? We need to let the man do his job.

The problem is that he is not doing his job. Unlike Clinton who was able to keep the Lewinski mess at arm’s length, Trump and his people are constantly engaging with the scandal. On top of this, the story is in constant flux, changing almost daily with a cast of characters that would be more comfortable in a small Italian restaurant in New York than the capital of our country.

The real problem I have with our President is not that he defeated Hillary. He won the electoral college, and in America, when you win the Electoral College, you win the Presidency. He won it. I dealt with it. I have gotten over it.

No, the problem I have is his character. He lies. Every day. He lies about lies that he lied about. FoxNews uses his lies as fact, and millions of Americans who honestly believe they have been forgotten believe the lies and defend these lies as fact in the face of being proven wrong because of the supposed deep state conspiracy to remove him from office.

First of all, there is no working conspiracy to remove him from office. It is a know fact that the Russian government, under control of Vladimir Putin, infiltrated and influenced the 2016 Presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. The NSA, CIA, FBI, Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Senate have all proven this fact to be true. This is not a conspiracy, it is known because actual given facts have been provided to show that this actually happened.

Secondly, the Trump campaign had an unusual amount of contact with a host of highly influential Russians who all have direct ties to Putin and his bank accounts. We know this too because we have tons of physical, digital, and testimonial evidence that show the Trump campaign was in contact with these people.

Third, Trump himself acts everyday as if he is guilty as sin of these actions. His actions scream someone who is guilty, and calls for simply answering questions if he is actually innocent are answered with the call “witch-hunt.”

On top of all of this is the Stormy Daniels mess. What the scandal with the porn star is doing is exposing things that would not be seen if we were simply looking for Russian ties as it establishes patterns in behaviors from a man who, as noted before, lies constantly.

Add it all together and we have a man who, either directly or indirectly, was involved with the largest hijacking of our democracy in the short history of our country.

And we don’t care.

We don’t. We haven’t. We won’t.

The loudest patriots in our country scream their support for this man, too. Questioning the stench that rose from the 2016 election shows un-patriotic motives against a truly great, Christian friendly, man. A man who is in constant trouble with taking advantage of, demeaning, and having multiple extra-marital affairs with women that Evangelicals overlook because of his blatant racist views that plays right into white Christian rhetoric.

He didn’t create the divide in our country, but he empowered the people that want the divide to remain. Nativism is dangerous. Nativism is racist. Nativism is a dark alley that we do not want to go down. Nativism is fascism.

I will not come out and call the man a fascist. He is not one. He is not smart enough to be one. He is, however, a power hungry narcissist who only cares about himself and only himself. He will only do that which will benefit him. He does not care about the people who support him outside of their undying support which serves to give him what he wants: more power.

I often scratch and bend my head when I am confronted with the reality that Trump supporters, the vehement ones, have created inside their heads. I do not understand how we got here.

I remember when GW was President, and even though I didn’t agree with much ( if anything) of what he did, I scolded my ex-brother in law and ex-wife over wishing the man dead, loudly telling them regardless of his policies, he is still our President, and the office deserves our respect.

Unfortunately, we live in a time with a President who does not respect the office, and continuously attempts to use it for his own personal gain, and a large swath of our population refuses to acknowledge this fact.

Being conservative does not mean you have to defend this man. In fact, he betrays not only liberal ideals, he betrays basic conservative ideals that the Tea Party and Neo Cons before them destroyed. We live in an era now that conservatism equals radical far right agendas. That is not true conservatism, and this President is not a true conservative.

I end this with an excert from a conversation I had with my mother about a year into this administration. My mother asked me why I didn’t like Trump, and I answered her this way: “Do you remember when I was a kid, you would tell me to clean my room as if the President (then Ronald Regan) were coming for a visit. You, my mother, taught me to respect the President of our country because he was simply that. Our President. I have respected every President I have had in my time on this planet, but I cannot respect this man.” She asked why not, and I told her, “because, mama, he doesn’t respect you and me.”

And that simple character trait of his is why I cannot and will not support this man. And it is why citizens in this country should not do so either.

And if you say that other politicians do the same, I remind you that he won the Presidency with the message that the “forgotten men and women of this country will be forgotten no longer.”

Just one of the many lies he has told, and one that many truly believe.

And that’s the show for this week. Next week, we’ll have another fun look at the headlines from the week, Dr J will join me for a fun discussion about who knows what, and so much more. For Dr J, I am The Barbour, thank you for coming by. Make it a great day, and always remember, as long as the sun rises there is opportunity. Take it…

This has been The BetaFiles.

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The BetaFiles Episode 9 Script

The BetaFiles

 

Date: 5/11/18

Episode# BB009

Subject: Literacy

 

Introduction:

May 11, 2018. Gina Haspel defends her street cred, Michael Cohen is leaked on, there is open rebellion in the house, California is proving to truly be the sunshine state, NBC and CBS are trying not to look back, and Trump exits the Iran deal Dr J is here to talk literacy because – Knowing is half the battle – I’m the Barbour and this is The BetaFiles

The Week in News:

In a time of darkness and cold, when all seems lost to tweets and snatch grabbing, there’s one place that Americans can find solace – The BetaFiles week in News…(soundbite)

Welcome to the BetaFiles, here’s what’s happening around the tickers…

Gina Haspel went before the Senate on Tuesday to answer questions in her confirmation hearing. In her introduction, she stated, “I welcome the opportunity to introduce myself to the American people for the first time, I think you will find me to be a typical middle-class American.” However, as noted by The Washington Post, Haspel has seen far darker things than most middle class Americans have seen, even after binge watching all 9 seasons of 24. When pressed over the controversial waterboarding accusations, Haspel responded that she would be happy to discuss it in the classified closed door portion of the questioning, noting that there is good reason why certain actions by the CIA are classified.

However, Haspel did assure the Senate that controversial modes of torture that defy American law will not be practiced under her leadership, promising that the CIA will not restart what is known as an interrogation program, even under direct order of the President.

Haspel went up for a vote Thursday in what many believe will be a clear vote through as the new head of the CIA, the first woman to be nominated and granted the job leaving Trump to note, “if the British can have Judy Dench as head of MI6, we can have our own dame as the head of the CIA.” James Bond was not impressed.

Early Thursday morning, el Presidente welcomed home three American prisoners released from North Korea. The move, seen as a good will gesture by Pyongyang, comes after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un ahead of Mr. Trump who plans to meet with the North Korean leader in mid to late June.

The three men were being held for espionage and committing hostile acts against the North Korean government. Pompeo worked for 13 hours to negotiate the release of the three men, who were all detained shortly after Trump took office. The move is seen as a huge diplomatic victory for Trump who has been slammed the past week over his moves in Iran and continued criticism over trade deals with NAFTA and China. No other Americans are reported to be held by the North Koreans at the moment, and Trump used the opportunity to again offer condolences to the parents of Otto Warmbier, an American college student who was held for 17 months before being returned to the US to die shortly after his return.

In true Trump form, he noted to the press on the tarmac, “I think you probably broke the all-time in history television rating for three o’clock in the morning. That I would say.”

And there you have it, folks. The country is now truly based on ratings…

And now for the elephant deal in the room, on Tuesday Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, leaving Europe and Iran scrambling to keep the deal in place. The move, what many see was a mistake and others see as redemption for a perceived mistake by the former administration, has been the story of the week with every opinion writer casting different doomsday scenarios as possible results to the action by the administration. We here at The BetaFiles would like to offer our own opinion on the matter:

…………………………..

And then we’d finally see peace in the middle east.

DACA is still being batted around, this time in the House of Representatives where a small 10 Republican led coalition have petitioned to go around Speaker Paul Ryan to bring the act to the floor of the House for debate and a vote. Florida Representative Carlos Curbelo filed what is known as a discharge petition that, if signed by enough of the members of the House, would force votes on immigration bills that will include a detailed law regarding DACA recipients. The move is built to undercut House Speaker Ryan who has stalled the move to debate immigration bills of all shapes and sizes repeatedly. When asked for a comment, speaker Ryan was quoted as saying, “it doesn’t matter, I’m mailing it in now anyways.”

On Wednesday, California became the first state to require all new homes built in the state to have solar panels installed. The requirement will begin in 2020, and is estimated to add an additional 8 – 12 thousand dollars to the cost of new homes. Current residents are already taking advantage of rebate programs in the state, and adding the panels  to existing homes, but this current attempt to require solar panels on all newly constructed homes adds more to the state’s continued attempts to curve greenhouse gases and push more renewable energy into the mainstream.

The savings estimated for the use of solar power is, at the moment, quoted at $19,000 in electricity costs over 30 years, or the life of a typical mortgage. The standards for the panels, however, are set at a ow marker, which still leaves home owners to rely, in small part, on the grid to completely tackle all of their energy needs, but the step will help relieve a lot of the strain on the grid that hosts the largest single population of any US state.

Late last week, it was revealed the three women filed a lawsuit against former CBS and PBS news personality Charlie Rose. In all, 35 women have come forward with accusations against Rose, many from CBS. 27 of those women came forward last week before the announcement of the lawsuit, adding to the previous 8 that were the reason for his dismissal from both CBS and PBS. The allegations that have surfaced over the past week range from 1986 and 2017, noting how Rose used his position of power to manipulate women and take advantage of them.

Samantha Bee of TBS’ Full Frontal noted on Wednesday night that she had been a victim of one of his unwanted advances, claiming that when she had appeared to be interviewed by Rose, he kissed her on the lips with, “a hint of tongue like when a Turtle nibbles an apple.”

CBS management is trying to get their story straight as they claim no early warnings were ever given, and that the current revelations are just as surprising to them as they are to the public.

In a related story, NBC News released their findings in the case against former Today Show host Matt Lauer who was fired about a week before Rose last November. NBC stated that they too could find no evidence of reports to upper management prior to the allegations raised last year, even though several women, both crew and high profile players like Anne Curry, have stated that they went to management over Lauer’s behavior.

NBC did confirm, however that the allegations made against Lauer last year are credible, and the network is moving forward with continued focus on them.

Here’s the thing: CBS and NBC have been caught with their two high profile anchors pants down, and they are back tracking to cover the network’s tracks where several different administration changes have distorted what actually happened during both men’s tenures at the networks. The reality is simple: Get women into the head office and let them find out what happened. It is time these networks, all the networks, start paying for the cover-ups of their top personalities sins. They knew what was happening, we know they knew, and they know we know. SO its time to fess up.

Finally, Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani. The latest on the Stormy Daniels affair has created a massive headache for the Trump administration, and dominated the news cycle as it was revealed this week that Cohen created a special shell company to hide payments to Daniels, and apparently accept payments from a large range of companies that wanted access to Trump. Here’s a full rundown of everything that’s going on:

………………………………..

And if proven, then legal action could prove to be detrimental to the administration.

And that’s the news, or some of it, for this week…(exit soundbite)

LocalFiles:

(Soundbite)

Welcome to the LocalFiles. This week we look at Winslow, Arizona where we found two impressive stories from The Tribune News of central Navajo County. Last week, the Winslow City Council approved the hiring of Viking Specialty Services to continue the removal of Blight from the town, which will include the destruction and removal of four structures, bringing the total removal of structures to forty, and the total spent on the project to just over $200,000.

The demolition company will also be providing asbestos removal from the structures before demolition, all within 90 days of the date of contract, April 24th. A fifth structure may be added soon, although it may be salvaged and renovated instead pending a further inspection by the county.

The blight removal project has been four years in the making as the town continues to remake itself for future tourism prospects.

In an unrelated story, two Winslow men have taken it on themselves to honor all of the fallen veterans that are buried in Desert View Cemetery. The men, Larry Begay and Layman Brown, are planting full sized American flags at the sites of 723 veterans buried in the cemetery. The two men have been funding the project themselves until recently when the Winslow City Council surprised the men with a $5000 donation toward the project, something the men did not request, but gladly accepted. “We have all noticed what has been going on with the flags,” City Manager Steve Parkin said. “[The Five thousand] will get them about 160 more flags, but there are still many to go.”

The project began when Begay was searching for his grandmother’s grave, and he noticed all of the veterans in the cemetery. He came up with the plan and ran it by Brown who agreed to help. The pair offer families of the veterans to come out and help with the planting of the flags if they choose, something that has help stir more interest in the project from other communities nearby.

Thank you, Mr. Begay and Mr. Brown.

And that’s all for the LocalFiles for this week,  remember, if you have a local story you want read on the BetaFiles, email it to us at thebetafiles23@gmail.com, or send it through Facebook messenger or Twitter DM. You can find us on both networks as thebetafiles.  (exit soundbite)

 

Dr J Segment:

                                                (soundbite for J)

Ok –it is time to welcome my dear friend and colleague Dr. J. who is here to join me in a short discussion about literacy in America…What’s up, man?

(Exit soundbite)

Closing segment:

(Sarah Sanders Soundbite)

(Hannity Soundbite)

(Fox and Friends soundbite)

(Anderson Cooper Soundbite)

(Jake Tapper Soundbite)

(Meet The Press soundbite)

 

Alternative facts. The term used by Kellyanne to describe Sean Spicer’s claim that President Trump’s inauguration audience was the largest in history. Period.

It’s such a silly argument that the White House stood by, and still does, but in reality, there is a real reason why this small quip from Kellyanne Conway carries so much weight. It was the height of what has become known as “post truth” – a term that describes how we engage with our reality now.

Overwhelmingly, America has moved towards a place where our feelings and beliefs define our reality. Perception has truly become real life, and fact based understanding of our environments has been thrown out the door.

Case in point: the rash of racial profile incidents over the past couple of months where innocent individuals have been publicly humiliated over no other reason than the fact that they look different. This very issue was addressed, of all places, on Rosanne this past week when an Islamic family moved in across from the iconic Connor family. However, the Trump loving conservative Rosanne was forced into a reality that lives on the outskirts of FoxNews: Muslims are no more terrifying than the white couple next door. It was a direct message to the middle class poor of our country who champion Trump and his fictional surrogate: not everything you hear is to be believed.

I think the real issue at hand is how far we as a culture have gotten away from common decency. One of the traits of all the clips presented at the beginning of this piece is the sheer animosity on display in each one. The audacity of one side to stand its ground, facts be damned, and the highbrow elitism of the other side in their condescending responses. In both cases, a line is on clear display, and neither side dares go near it.

Edward Said discussed the basic human instinct of creating and sustaining “the other” – the opposite of what we believe and what we defend against. It is a basic defense mechanism that assures our survival.

But in America, this causes a problem: there are far too many “others” to be able to defend your own systemic ideology successfully. Which forces us into a rigorous routine of compromise on a daily basis. Without compromise, America would cease to exist. The grand experiment would end.

We do not need God in our schools, he is already there in the different beliefs and religions that cover the social fabric of the students. The argument, however, involves a specific God to a specific religion, one even the founding fathers did not share as a whole.

Critical Thinking skills is not a Liberal mechanism designed to brainwash the conservative into seeing things through a liberal lens. It is a universal tool that allows the average citizen to decide what is truth, and what is not.

Climate change is happening, and it is not a right or left issue – it is an issue of nature that we all share.

Unions fight for the average blue collar worker, the ACLU fights for the rights and freedoms of ALL Americans. Mexicans speak Spanish, as do Venezuelans, Columbians, and Spaniards, and Russia has been an enemy of the state since before Khrushchev planted Soviet missiles in Cuba in response to our missiles stationed in Turkey pointed at Moscow.

And Putin is ex KGB, the arm of the old Russia that we fought for decades.

The scariest part of “post truth” fiction is the sheer determination to make what doesn’t exist real. In order for the American public to gain power over our government and media again, we must educate ourselves, which would be easy enough if we were to simply use common sense with the technology we hold in our hands every day.

Unfortunately, common sense goes out the window once a troll disrupts a calm news feed with a link to a conspiratorial nudge in the wrong direction, and mis-information shows her ugly head.

Beware the Ides of March was what Caesar was told, but the real warning should be, beware the motives of the author. “Alternative Facts” can be used as a knife to stab the truth  no one wants to hear, but needs to know.

 

 

And that’s the show for this week. Next week, we’ll have another fun look at the headlines from the week, Dr J will join me for a fun discussion about who knows what, and so much more. For Dr J, I am The Barbour, thank you for coming by. Make it a great day, and always remember, as long as the sun rises there is opportunity. Take it…

This has been The BetaFiles.

Episode 8

cropped-logo

The BetaFiles

 

Date: 5/4/18

Episode# BB008

Subject: Social Commentary

 

Introduction:

May 4, 2018. A wolf breaks loose in Washington, the Koreans dance in the DMZ, Marco Rubio admits the tax plan was a bad idea, Facebook will soon know all of your desires, California and Texas are both going after the Administration, and Trump gets the questions for Mueller’s test ahead of time – Dr J will be here to discuss Comedians and Social commentary – What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate – I’m the Barbour and this is The BetaFiles

The Week in News:

In a time of darkness and cold, when all seems lost to tweets and snatch grabbing, there’s one place that Americans can find solace – The BetaFiles week in News…(soundbite)

So much to discuss, so little time, so let’s start with Saturday night…

Michelle Wolf cut loose at the White House Correspondence Dinner last Saturday night, doing exactly what she had been hired to do – roasting the Administration and the Press. Backlash came that night and the next day over her “vulgarity” and attacks on the women of the administration. Debates all week raged over whether she should have been allowed to say the things she said, whether the dinner itself should be cancelled, and whether or not telling a woman she has a perfect smoky eye is criticizing her looks. Wolf attacked Kelly Anne Conway, Ivanka Trump, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders over their lies and abilities to cover up for a misogynistic President, to which several in the liberal press came to the defense of the administration’s women, and condemned Wolf for what she had said. These same women who defended Sanders have all been the target of the Toddler in Chief at various points, yet they seem to have forgotten the fact.

No word yet on whether or not the dinner will continue, however, by Thursday morning, The Hill, like The New York Times before it, announced that it will not attend the dinner for the foreseeable future.

Facebook announced on Tuesday that it will be adding a new dating service to its growing empire. The FaceBook Dating App will be separate from the main platform, with its own messaging app and pic library. The move is, as Zuckerberg sees it, a chance to foster long term relationships instead of Hook-ups.

The Zuckster explained, in an abstract kinda way, how the app will work. “We have designed this with privacy and safety in mind from the beginning,” he told his audience. “Your friends aren’t going to see your profile, and you’re only going to be suggested to people who are not your friends.” Apparently, the app will comb through your events log on your regular page and look for people at the same event(s) that have similar interests as you – eliminating people you may already know from your regular friends list. The app will then prompt you to send a message to see if the other person is interested in meeting.

The move brings Facebook full circle as it originated as a swipe or like style app for hook-ups before morphing into the social everything platform we know it as now, leaving Tinder, OKCupid, Plenty of Fish, and a host of other dating apps running scared as they see their untimely demise coming. Much like WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, and MySpace that have all been crushed under the newsfeed algorithm, the dating app world is set for a cleansing, Zuckerberg style. As proof, stock prices for Match Group, owners of Tinder and OKCupid, dropped 18% following the announcement. Apparently, they weren’t able to swipe left and get rid of Zuckerberg.

Earlier in the week, Marco Rubio went way off message with the Republican’s corporate tax cuts when he was quoted as saying, “There is still a lot of thinking on the right that if big corporations are happy, they’re going to take the money they’re saving and reinvest it in American workers. In fact, they bought back shares, a few gave out bonuses; there’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.”

Later, after conservatives raged, raged, raged against Rubio’s dying light, and liberals simply noted “Couldn’t have said it better ourselves,” Rubio’s spokeswoman tried to clarify the comments by saying, “[Senator] Rubio pushed for a better balance in the tax law between tax cuts for big businesses and families, as he’s done for years. As he said when the tax law passed, cutting the corporate tax rate will make America a more competitive place to do business, but he tried to balance that with an even larger child tax credit for working Americans.”

Response from the right was swift, as they quickly defended the cuts by arguing the results of the cuts will not be fully realized for a few years. Although, the problem is that zero corporations have done anything to reinvest the money so far but have found plenty of time to reward investors with all the extra capital, all while sending their mouth pieces onto CNBC and Bloomberg to discuss wage stagnation and why it will not rise for a while.

It’s important to note that Rubio did stall the cuts for a brief two days when he demanded that a larger tax credit was added for the benefit of working families. He gave in to a reduced version of his original proposal, promising to revisit the matter later.

Rubio, in the same interview that started the firestorm, also noted, “Government has an essential role to play in buffering this transition. If we basically say everyone is on their own and the market’s going to take care of it, we will rip the country apart, because millions of good hard-working people lack the means to adapt.”

And to that, Bernie wept.

Texas is suing the Trump administration over claims that Trump has not done enough to end DACA. The Lonestar state, on of seven listed in the lawsuit, is arguing that former President Obama exceeded his authority when he created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2012. Because of this, the executive order that created the program is seen as illegal, and Texas sees the Trump administration as complicit in its continued use. The lawsuit is asking the court to phase the program out over a two-year period, something the lawyers say is the white thing to do. A decision in support of the lawsuit could cause more problems for DACA recipients, leading to a showdown in the Supreme court over conflicting rulings as just last week, a federal judge ruled the suspension of DACA by the Trump administration unlawful as there was not enough evidence provided by the Department of Homeland Security to prove that the program is unlawful and needed to be discontinued. When reached for comment, Trump political advisor Stephen Miller responded, “they’re brown and they speak Spanish, that in itself is illegal.”

California is also suing the administration, but unlike it’s Tex-Mex brethren, the golden state is targeting the EPA and Scott Pruitt. The lawsuit is in reaction to Pruitt announcing earlier in April that he plans to roll back the Obama era regulations over emission standards that require car companies to up their game to 50 miles per gallon by 2025. Pruitt argues that the regulations were based on old science, and that the current numbers don’t back up the need for such harsh regulations. Through a veil of smog, California governor Jerry Brown asked Pruitt, can you see me now?

California, along with 16 other high traffic states, are demanding that the roll back will be declared illegal and dangerous to the health of the public as the move to enact these standards was to curve the amount of greenhouse gases being immitted into the air. The problem that Brown and his fellow governors are running into is that Pruitt doesn’t believe in climate change and refuses to acknowledge that it took longer than 6 days to make the world he is freely destroying.

When asked for a comment on the lawsuit, Pruitt’s secretary responded that he was unavailable at the moment as he was out hunting a Polar Bear in a diesel powered 1960s tractor trailer. The bear was last seen driving a Nissan Leaf out of town.

Cambridge Analytica is no more. After intense scrutiny for the 2016 election debacle with Facebook, Cambridge Analytica board members dissolved the Company Wednesday, taking their old furniture, old computers, and old databases across the street and forming a new company called Emerdata. The news broke when SCL Elections, the company that owned Cambridge Analytica, announced immediate closure of the controversial firm, and proceeding towards insolvency proceedings to disband as soon as possible.

In the press release, the owners claimed that they would honor all severance, benefits, and redundancy obligations as the lights go out on this quirky moment in history. However, sources from The Register UK, note that a new company called Emerdata Limited has been registered with the same address as SCL, and the same management as Cambridge Analytica, leaving all to assume that all they have done is simply rebranded themselves to start over.

In a related announcement, again, Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook would begin a dating app…

Last weekend, the two Koreas came together to negotiate and take a lot of pictures together. During the two days that Kim Jung Un visited the South, he promised the world that he would gladly dismantle his nuclear arsenal and production plant in public view for all to see as long as Dennis Rodman could keep coming over for sleep overs, and the US didn’t try to invade. The two leaders also announced a formal end to the Korean war, to which Jim’s grandpa suddenly screamed, “We won!” then died.

The results of the summit have led to many calling for a nomination for the Nobel peace prize, though it isn’t for either of the Korean presidents, but for El Presidente Trump. We here at The BetaFiles have obtained an early copy of notes that the President drafted late Tuesday when he decided the Nobel prize might happen. It reads:

Dear non-Americans of the world, what a tremendous award this is. I can’t tell you how magnificent and wonderful this is to be here in Sweden where all my fellow white people live in peace. It’s not like those shithole countries like Haiti and New Jersey, no, Sweden reminds me of Connecticut where white people are allowed to roam free with little to fear.

This is an amazing time in our history. It reminds me of the 10 times I was on the cover of Time Magazine and won person of the year four times. It reminds me of when Lincoln defeated the Germans in the war of 1812. Lincoln – there’s a great president. Making all those Indians move out of Georgia to Oklahoma so they could have all that desert to die in. Lincoln should have won the Nobel for that, you know, but I guess you guys didn’t think it important enough to give it to him, not as important as me! Make Nobel Great Again, and you have by giving it to me, although, I have to tell you that the award itself is a bit small, with something this amazing, you would think it would be as big as the Stanly cup. In fact, I think I’m going to give this back and let you re-do it so it matches the size of the Stanly cup and it can truly represent how amazing I am.

And make it all gold.

More on this story as it depresses me.

Rod Rosenstein made the House Republicans his bitch this week when he responded to news that the “Freedom Caucus” had applied for articles of impeachment for him, looking to get rid of the deputy attorney general over accusations that he has been with holding information from them in a case that they have now closed. When asked for comment, Rosenstein said that “they should know by now that the Justice Department will not be extorted.” In response, David Nunez called his mommy.

Sean Hannity is an idiot.

Teachers in Arizona and Colorado joined Kentucky, Oklahoma, and West Virginia this week as the latest to strike against oppressive cuts in their states education budgets. The Arizona teachers have been pondering the move ever since the Oklahoma protests, and finally found enough gas money to make the trip to Phoenix where they were able to protest for two days before running out of Ramen, store brand soda, and stale saltines.

Rumors are that North Carolina may be the next in line for teacher walk-outs, however, this may be a problem as it is illegal to unionize and strike in North Carolina, a right to work state.

Finally, Kanye West has lost his mind. Earlier in the week, the former coolest rapper in the world turned dumbest rapper in the world, turned Kardashian bitch boy destroyed all the talk last week of his new found philosophy when he first aligned himself as Trump’s dragon brother, then told a TMZ reporter “When you hear about slavery for 400 years, for 400 hundred years? That sounds like a choice.”

So, according to Kanye, African slaves chose to be caught by rival Africans, chose to be traded to Dutch Slave holders, chose to be ripped away from their homeland, chose to be shoved into small spaces on a ship for a journey across the violent Atlantic, chose to be malnourished, chose to be chained, chose to be sold, chose to be beaten, chose to live their lives in constant fear, chose to be told they were less than human, chose to reproduce only to have those children ripped away from them and never see them again, chose to die nameless, without a legacy, and lost to history forever.

I choose to say, Kanye West, you don’t deserve any more time or attention here, and you will not get it.

And that’s the news, or some of it, for this week…(exit soundbite)

LocalFiles:

(Soundbite)

Welcome to the LocalFiles. This week we look at Tower Hill, IL, a small village southeast of Springfield, and South West of Chicago. The village is in the middle of a scandal where the former Treasurer of the village was charged with stealing $100,000 dollars from the local treasury between 2010 and 2016.

Nancy J Finley, 51 of Pana, IL, was arrested when State Police revealed probable cause after a complaint was filed in the Shelby County Circuit Court which noted that she, “knowingly obtained unauthorized control over property belonging to the Village of Tower Hill, that property being U.S. currency, with the intent to deprive the Village of Tower Hill permanently the use or benefit of said property.”

Theft of government property in excess of $100,000 is a class X felony with a penalty of 6 to 30 years in prison.

In the village of about 600 people, it is not a surprise that everyone knows her with several of her closest friends questioning whether she was alone as she “always helped me out,” Tammy Beck, a close friend noted. “People make mistakes,’ she continued, “In my opinion, there might be more people involved.”

It seems conspiracy theories don’t just run in D.C.

Finley appeared in court after posting $5000 bond, only to request council as she apparently doesn’t have enough money for representation. One of the more interesting questions the Judge would like to find out is where the money went, allowing Finley and her appointed lawyer only a month to prepare.

So there you have it – embezzlement isn’t so rare in America.

And that’s all for the LocalFiles for this week,  remember, if you have a local story you want read on the BetaFiles, email it to us at thebetafiles23@gmail.com, or send it through Facebook messenger or Twitter DM. You can find us on both networks as thebetafiles.  (exit soundbite)

 

Dr J Segment:

                                                (soundbite for J)

Ok –it is time to welcome my dear friend and colleague Dr. J. who is here to join me in a short discussion about comedy and the importance of social commentary…What’s up, man?

(Exit soundbite)

Closing segment:

(Opening soundbite from WHCD)

“Thank you!” was what she said when Sean “largest crowd in history, period” Spicer criticized her on Twitter. Andrea Mitchell called for the White House Correspondence folk to publicly apologize for Wolf’s words, the same Andrea Mitchell who did nothing when her colleague Chuck Todd was attacked by Trump twice calling him “sleepy eyed Chuck Todd” and “a sleepy eyed sonuvabitch.” They defended Kellyanne Conway too, saying Wolf went too far with her as well, the same Conway that created the term “alternative facts” in a defense to a blatant lie that no one is really sure, to this day, why Spicey insisted on standing his ground over.

And don’t forget the Bowling Greene Massacre.

But Wolf went too far, so far that five days after the infamous dinner, we are all still asking if it was wrong or appropriate. Well I have the answer: Flint still doesn’t have clean water.

In the 19 minute roast, Wolf did what looked like amateur hour for this administration. The biggest difference: in her vulgarity filled roast, a massive amount of truth bombs went off, making the room even more uncomfortable – something the White House and its current staff know nothing about. In fact, they spend most of their time defusing truths so they can cover them in a lie case that shields everyone from the explosion.

For all of those that want to whine about her language, I would suggest checking where she was at the time. She was at the one event that each year celebrates free speech. If you’re offended, don’t invite a well-known risqué comedian to a first amendment celebration and tell her to keep a lid on it.

Have any of you idiots who are responsible ever actually watched her on The Daily Show? Did you miss her HBO special? Did you think that the wise mouth girl from Comedy Central would actually be nice enough to kiss your asses?

What Wolf accomplished Saturday night is nothing short of pure genius. She did what she was expected to do: she torched an absent Trump in a series of appropriately inappropriate jokes and jabs. She took the key women of the administration to task over their failures in a time when women are gaining more and more ground in the power struggle between the sexes. But most importantly, the moment she “lost the room” was when she went after the press. CNN has broken the news, MSNBC is less a news organization and more like a tragedy of an American family, and Fox News is nothing more than an old man plotting the next time he can chemically seduce an unsuspecting woman into sex. She took a shot at Hannity by not taking one, using his own words against him. She pointed to the way #MeToo has lost steam. She offered herself up to a Michael Cohen payoff. She summarized every Thanksgiving dinner in a simple sentence: “Milk comes from nuts now, all ’cause of the gays.”

But most impressive is not the shots at Sanders, which people can’t seem to shut up about, but the following quip:

(Soundbite):

You guys are obsessed with Trump. Did you used to date him? Because you pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. He couldn’t sell steaks or vodka or water or college or ties or Eric, but he has helped you.

He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster, and now you’re profiting off of him.

It was at this moment that truth ran headlong into the headline makers who, all of sudden, began Tweeting that she had gone too far – about Sanders.

She shouldn’t have said that about Sanders. I can’t believe she’d say that with WHPS sitting right there. Sanders is brave for sitting there through it. WHCD should apologize for Wolf attacking Sanders looks which Wolf never mentioned.

They did just what she accused them of. And by Monday afternoon, they were making bank off Wolf’s portrayal of Sanders, a part of the Trump White House. Part of the machine that is driving our culture into the ground. And they have continued to ride the wave of her 19 minutes all week.

The obsession with the Trump White House is addictive, consuming, and a vortex that leads nowhere. We’re even guilty of falling into the Trump trap here at The BetaFiles. It’s hard to stay out of the hole. But I think the message we can take away from her “vulgar display” is not the shots she took at Trump, but the ray of light she shined back at the press. The power elite that is supposed to be the voice of the people on Saturday and Sunday were proven to be nothing more than power elite who speak to and for themselves. A Trump Truth come to fruition. Self-fulfilling prophesy that has hurt the press more than Trump’s insistence that it’s all fake news.

She didn’t do it to them as so many in the press are accusing, rather they did it to themselves by reacting the way they did.

And they missed her harshest critique of both the Administration and the press: the story no one is covering; the same story the Trump White House is ignoring; the very symbol of multiple massive atrocities that the press should be covering into the ground until Washington listens and does something but instead has lost interest and, as a result the story, like so many that it represents, has fallen to the wayside to be forgotten.

Flint still doesn’t have clean water.

And that’s the show for this week. Next week, we’ll have another fun look at the headlines from the week, Dr J will join me for a fun discussion about who knows what, and so much more. For Dr J, I am The Barbour, thank you for coming by. Make it a great day, and always remember, as long as the sun rises there is opportunity. Take it…

This has been The BetaFiles.

Episode #7 Script

β

Beta Files Podcast

 

Date: 4/27/18

Episode# BB007

Subject: Classical Education

 

Introduction:

April 27, 2018. Ronnie Jackson drank his way out of the nomination for the VA, Emanuel Macron throws down the gauntlet to climate change deniers after kissing the ring of the Twitter King, the Supreme Court listens to closing arguments on the Muslim ban that’s not a Muslim ban, Mike Pompeo promises to keep the President’s binky close at hand, Sean Hannity is a douche and now we have proof, Prince William one-ups his brother’s upcoming wedding by bringing home one more mouth to have his servants feed, and Dr J is here to discuss white privilege and the white agenda – Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…-  I’m the Barbour and this is the Beta Files…

 

 

The Week in News:

In a time of darkness and cold, when all seems lost to tweets and snatch grabbing, there’s one place that Americans can find solace – the BetaFiles week in News…(soundbite)

Mike Pompeo barely got through committee earlier this week after Trump had to intervene and assure Senator Rand Paul that Pompeo did believe that the Iraq war was a mistake, and that the middle east is in chaos due to events that include the war. Paul had announced reservations over the Secretary of State nominee over his former views of the Iraq war and stability in the region. The CIA director also faced a barrage of questions dealing with how he would deal with an erratic Trump who tends to flip flop on foreign policy by the hour, again assuring Senators that he knows how to handle the president, and can make sure that the US and its interests would be in safe, reliable hands as we inch closer to the extension deadline for the Iran Nuclear deal and the North Korean summit. Pompeo offered one of his tricks in coercing the President’s wild urges by noting “All I have to do is assure the President that where ever I am, there is a McDonald’s and a KFC along with a wall that keeps the other out.”

The senate had confirmed Pompeo by Thursday afternoon as the new Secretary of State.

In a related story, Ronnie Jackson, Trump’s nominee for head of Veteran’s Affairs, found himself in deep poo-poo when the Senate postponed his confirmation hearing after news broke that Jackson tends to get a little loose with his bottle and his mouth while over-looking the ethics of over-prescribing medicine. The news prompted the President on Tuesday to tell Jackson to drop the nomination, then, in an about face later that day, Trump told Jackson, “Ah screw it. If I can win the election after having multiple affairs with porn stars and playmates and admitting that I’m a sexual harasser on tape, a little sauce on the job won’t slow you down. Just make sure you refill that Vicodin script for me.” Early Thursday, Jackson removed himself from the nomination after it was revealed the day before that he once wrecked a federal automobile while under the influence, leaving Trump to find another nominee to fill the spot he opened up more than a month ago.

Sean Hannity just can’t seem to keep his nose out of trouble as revelations this week from The Guardian noted millions of dollars worth of real-estate that Hannity apparently obtained through the use of HUD programs. Why this matters: once again, he did not disclose this information when he had Ben Carson on his show. What makes this story so compelling isn’t how much of a sleaze Hannity is (we already knew that much), but how all of the major media outlets are crying foul over something Hannity and his producers at FoxNews aren’t really phased with “integrity driven” journalism. They have even gone so far as to make sure everyone knows that they know that Hannity isn’t real journalism (even though they continue to present him as such). What this has done is exposed the true nature of FoxNews which is the WWE of American Political Punditry – we know it’s fake, we know its staged, and yet we still want to believe…

On Tuesday, Facebook released its 27 page Community Standards document which lays out the rules of what can and cannot be said on the social network. The move comes in the wake of both the congressional hearings with Mark Zuckerberg and the replacement Tuesday of Erin Egan with Kevin Martin as the head of policy for the interim. The document, again 27 pages long, lays out intolerable content in a variety of categories such as “real world threat,” “hate speech,” “graphic violence,” “child sexual exploitation,” and “adult nudity and sexual activity” or tumbler content. Each category was revealed to have specific definitions for what they look for when reviewing posts and comments. What the document does not address is the how it plans to handle when grandma posts one too many angry cat memes.

In a huge move late Tuesday night, a Federal District Judge ruled that the department of Homeland Security must continue with the DACA program and begin accepting new applications. The Judge, ruling that the reasons given by the Trump administration for ending the program, are not credible enough, and are therefore unlawful, leading the judge to giving the department of homeland secu0rity 90 days to submit real, credible explanations as to why DACA is illegal and a threat to national security, otherwise forfeiting the roll back of the program, and instilling it as a permanent program. Sources close to the president reported that Trump was obviously infuriated, and insisted on the name of the crooked law abiding judge so he could tweet a nasty note on how the judge is not ruling in favor of true white people fear, and needed to recognize that because of DACA, so many hard working Americans are American’ts since they are losing valuable jobs in the fast food and grocery store industries.

The Supreme court heard closing arguments in the case Trump v Hawaii which deals with the third iteration of the travel ban by the current administration. The case, centered around Hawaii’s rejection of the ban, will ultimately determine whether the President has the authority to create such a rule that keeps certain people from entering the country without legal backing from Congressional actions. Although the conservative arm of the court appears to back Trump on his actions, the liberal justices took the counsel to task, with Justice Kegal offering a scenario where the target were Jews, with counsel reassuring the court that Trump, “loves the Jewy people, and would never block entry to the country from anyone who could help him get around tax laws.”

Bill Cosby is going to jail. A jury ruled Thursday that Cosby was guilty of drugging and taking sexual advantage of a woman. The verdict comes in the second trial against Cosby, the first ending in a hung jury. This time, however, more women were allowed to testify against Cosby, allowing the Prosecution to establish a viable pattern against Cosby’s actions. No word on how long Cosby will serve, however, one thing is for certain, the 80 year old former Television star and comedian will have lots of jello in jail.

Emanuel Macron paid a visit to the US earlier this week. Monday and Tuesday was a lovefest style tour with El Presidente Trump, eating lots of French Toast, French Fries, and begets from Harris Teeter before being hosted to Trump’s first official State Dinner Tuesday night. Macron sat with the President and tried to convince the Tweeter in Chief that the US would gain a lot by staying in the Iranian Nuclear deal, things like better Heroin. However, on the next day, Macron went before congress and went anti-Trump by criticizing populism, nationalism, and many other of Trump’s greatest hits. Macron even went after those who question climate change, offering this possible scenario: If you’re wrong, there is no planet-B.

Monday was conquered by another royal, when William and Kate welcomed their third child, the yet un-named 5th heir to the crown. At 8 lbs, 7 ozs, the new son of the eldest of Diana’s children did little damage to his mother who left the hospital 7 hours after his birth in heels and hair to die for leaving millions of women to simply respond “that bitch ain’t real.”

And that’s the news, or some of it, for this week…(exit soundbite)

LocalFiles:

(soundbite)

Welcome to the LocalFiles, this week we take a look at Bend, Oregon, a small town in central Oregon located just east of the Willamette and Deschutes National Forests. Our story comes from the local Newspaper The Bulletin which highlighted an minor controversy over a local church that has been caught in the middle of a dispute over whether it should be able to host weddings at a separate location from its primary location.

The church has a venue in Sisters, Oregon that lies north west of Bend where the church claims its home – which just happens to be the home of the pastor himself. Shepherdsfield Church is a nondenominational church that began holding services at the home of John and Stephanie Shepherd in 2008. Shepherd has been a pastor since the 1970s, and began the church after he and his wife, who also helps John in marriage counseling, decided to begin their own church where they focus on relationships.

The controversy lies in the fact that Shepherdsfield church holds wedding ceremonies at a large estate in Sisters, which the local group Central Oregon LandWatch claims should not be allowed because Shepherd applied to hold the weddings with the county as an individual, not as the church which means he may be in violation of what is known as a 501(c)(3) which defines Shepherdsfield as a church, and protects its tax status. Because Shepherd is officiating as the pastor of the church, but the church is not profiting from the venue, the group claims that he is in violation of the 501(c)(3) status, and should not be allowed to proceed.

The group also claims that Shepherd is in violation of a farm management plan, an agreement that determines how Shepherd can use the land, and what minimal limitations he has to abide by. Shepherd has testified that he meets the minimum by grazing numerous heads of cattle and raising chickens on the land so he can continue to use the venue that is a picturesque spot in the heart of the Willamette National Forest. Shepherd also claimed in the article that the environmental group has been attacking he and his wife ever since he built the venue, even though everything is registered legally with the county, he abides by all the laws governing the forest and the farm agreement, and he is offering a modestly priced experience for the public so they can create unforgettable memories.

“LandWatch has been attacking us for five years,” Shepherd said. “Whatever step we’ve made, they’ve attacked on whatever grounds they can scramble up, and some are pretty scrambled.”

“I’m not some artful dodger who’s trying to call myself a church,” he said. “I’m a legitimate pastor with legitimate credentials.”

Here’s hoping he can find a resolution, and continue with his work.

And that’s all for the LocalFiles for this week,  remember, if you have a local story you want read on the BetaFiles, email it to us at thebetafiles23@gmail.com, or send it through Facebook messenger or Twitter DM. You can find us on both networks as thebetafiles.  (exit soundbite)

 

 

Dr J Segment:

                                                (soundbite for J)

Ok –it is time to welcome my dear friend and colleague Dr. J. who is here to join me in a short discussion about what has become known as white privilage and the white agenda – this is gonna be pretty good – …What’s up, man?

(Exit soundbite)

Closing segment:

As always, thanks to Dr J for stopping by and talking with us.

For my final segment this week, I want to return to the article I referenced at the beginning of the last segment.

One of the problems with the argument of Political Correctness is the thin line that is drastically defended. It’s one thing to understand where past atrocities lie, it’s another to completely make them disappear. Removing classic white art that defined Western Civilization, inspired and exposed the problems of that civilization, and served as the perfect norm for which alternative art movements that represent not only other racially defined ideals, but political, societal, and sexual ideals that challenge and change the “white normal” – if you remove the classic Greek and Roman world, where it is undeniable that white culture was established, then you remove the currency that these other art forms can gain, and the relevance it provokes is lost.

If we look at the new museum that opened in Alabama this Thursday, it is surrounded by ghosts of the confederacy, and because of that, it draws even more currency and relevance into a conversation that is not being had. This is the value of it.

I think there are times where we go beyond what is needed. Acknowledging wrongs, and changing systemic ways of how that wrongs became so it will not become again is how we move forward. Removing the past, as our history has shown us, does nothing but leave us without explanations of who any of us are and why we became who we are.

There is systemic racism. As long as there are humans, there will always be systemic racism. If there is an extreme right, there is an extreme left, and the extreme left is just as racist as the extreme right. Call it what you want, but an extreme left-wing individual will never conceded that an extreme right wing individual has the same rights as them, nor are their lives as valuable. We know this because of their literature.

I often explain to my students that they need to read the Bible and Mien Kompf simply because both texts give us a real world picture of how a group or groups of people thought, reacted, and built philosophies and social constructs. We will not become Jew hating Nazis if we read Mien Kompf, nor will we become bible thumping back wood preachers. But, if read objectively with a desire to understand how people thought and why they thought the way they did, then we gain perspective and knowledge. Without that understanding, it becomes pointless to read any literature.

And that is where the argument over the classic writers and artists falls – it falls in this weird area where the extreme right and left are fighting to command the conversation, not lead or engage with, but command. Dictate. Control. It should not be this way. The classic arts are a necessary for a truly complete education. And so are the other “minority” arts that have been pushed aside for so long.

In short, we shouldn’t be getting rid of the classics, instead, we should be sliding them over to make room for other arts, other views of the world. Combined together we have a complete vision of the human experience, and we can see the errors in all of them so we can build positive messages for generations to come.

And that’s the show for this week. Next week, we’ll have another fun look at the headlines from the week, Dr J will join me for a fun discussion about who knows what, and so much more. For Dr J, I am The Barbour, thank you for coming by. Make it a great day, and always remember, as long as the sun rises there is opportunity. Take it…

This ha

Episode #6 Script

β

Beta Files Podcast

 

Date: 4/13/18

Episode# BB006

Subject: National News Cycle

 

Introduction:

April 13, 2018. Paul Ryan throws in the towel, Trump and Russia play footsies over Syria and missiles, Michael Cohen gets a visit by the FBI, Mark Zuckerberg tries to explain Facebook to a bunch of out of touch white guys, and Mike Pence finally gets to realize his lifelong dream of ministering to the people of the Amazon – We need a bigger boat –  I’m the Barbour and this is the Beta Files…

Opening:

Welcome to the BetaFiles week six. On the show this week, we continue our look at education and the attitude towards teachers. We’ll also look at Mr. Zuckerberg and whether his trip to Washington was successful or not, and Exactly how effective was Paul Ryan as speaker of the house? We’ll take a quick look.

Dr J will stop by to talk to us about the national media and its effect on all of us, and in my final segment I will continue the observations with a commentary on how the Times and the Post are changing the way we look at print news.

But first, before we go any further, a programming note. In the very first episode, I mentioned that we were experimenting and that our format would evolve as time progressed. When I originally set out to do this, the plan was for a 20- 30 minute show that just skimmed over the major headlines of the day with a slight twist, a cool little phone conversation with a really close friend, and a final segment that would give some commentary on our little world. Last week I announced a new segment that will focus on Local News, and this past week I started a series of short, 2-3 minute Daily rundowns of the main headlines for the day. Both of these have opened up a possibility of reshaping the format of the show a little, so, that’s exactly what will happen. In addition to the new local segment, the headlines segment will be replaced with a news segment that will only focus on a two or three stories from the week instead of the 6 – 9 stories we’ve been doing. Dr J will still be here to discuss whatever, and we will still do a short commentary at the end, so not a huge change, just a couple of small ones.

There has also been some changes to our website, and I encourage you to please check it out. In addition to our DailyFiles and BetaFiles audio shows, we are starting to add written content for what we are calling The WrittenFiles. The cool thing is that I am not the only author, as we are slowly building a small army of writers who are adding content to help us out. So swing by thebetafiles.com to see what goodies we have posted. There’s also an archive of the podcast, and the current week’s DailyFiles.

We want to grow this thing, even though we are still trying to figure out exactly what this thing is. So help us out by paying us a visit, and reading some of our stories.

 

 

LocalFiles:

Now that I have gotten all of the self plugging out of the way, let’s take a quick look at the LocalFiles…(soudbite)

This week’s Local Story comes from the Grand Island Independent of Broken Bow, Nebraska. The headline, “Broken Bow continues its recent momentum.”

Apparently, the small town in central Nebraska, whose high on Wednesday was 80, with a winter storm advisory for Saturday, has seen a ton of local improvements to its community, and isn’t expected to end anytime soon. In addition to a $2.2 Million library expansion, new recreation trails that lead hikers downtown so they can see the new judicial building, bandstand, and a host of new businesses, Broken Bow is seeing progress at a time when the Midwest is at the center of a looming trade war with China. The small community of 3,500 is set to include a new fire hall this spring to add to the growing list of improvements to the town.

City Administrator Brent Clark helped kickstart the recent focus on re-inventing the town’s image when he took his daughters to the library a couple of years ago to see Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. He noted that the need to rethink the town and its landmarks came as he waited twice as long in line then when he took the girls to Disney World the summer before.

Clark has been key to the addition of new buildings and renovated spaces both downtown, and in the outlying areas including a new sandhills Journey nature trail that outlines the history of the area, and the Dairy Queen Grill and Chill, the areas first prominent fast food chain. Deb McCaslin, Custer County Economic Development executive director, hopes the move by DQ will entice other fast food chains to look at the possibilities Broken Bow has to offer.

The other major improvement to Broken Bow has been the new hotel, the Arrow Hotel East which was built to replace Broken Bow’s old hotel that was lost to a fire. The hotel, with 20 rooms available to travelers, is the center piece to getting more visitors to stop by and take a load off. Anne Thomas, one of the owners of the hotel, pointed out that “If you want grow, you have to fix up.” And that is exactly what Broken Bow is doing.

Brent Clark noted in the article, “it’s been a great success story for Broken Bow for the last 10 years” as he sees his little town as a progressive town eager to get things done.

And that’s all for the LocalFiles for this week,  remember, if you have a local story you want read on the BetaFiles, email it to us at thebetafiles23@gmail.com, or send it through Facebook messenger or Twitter DM. You can find us on both networks as thebetafiles.  (exit soundbite)

 

The Week in News:

In a time of darkness and cold, when all seems lost to tweets and snatch grabbing, there’s one place that Americans can find solace – the BetaFiles week in News…(soundbite)

This past week saw a flurry of activity on Capital Hill as several more Judicial Nominees went before hearings, Paul Ryan announced his retirement, and both Senators and Representatives had the opportunity to grill Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg for nearly ten hours on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Zuckerberg, who spent the majority of the time explaining the basic operations of Facebook, was met on Tuesday with an army of cardboard cutouts of himself wearing a tee-shirt that bore the message “Fix Facebook.” His demeanor, however, was rather calm, and the not quite ready for public speaking Harvard grad handled himself quite well under the intense scrutiny over what Farmville did with all those pictures of Senators mistresses.

The face of the social media giant repeatedly explained how ad placement worked on Facebook, assuring congress that Facebook never sold user data to the agencies, but rather used public data posted by users to target ads FOR the agencies, without the agencies ever having any contact with the data. He also reiterated repeatedly that the social network was not in control of the data, but instead the user as it is the user who is able to control what is shown online and what is not.

However, it was revealed in the hearings that Facebook does indeed track  what you do when you are NOT logged into Facebook through that little Facebook Like button that is scattered all over the net.

Here’s what happens: when you like a website when you are away from Facebook, the action collects information from your cookies, the website you liked, and matches these data points to your account so Facebook can then use that information to customize your ad experience in your newsfeed.

In other words, Facebook really is tracking you, and they’re doing it so they can advertise more crap to you as you scroll through Aunt Darlene’s photos of the beach trip last summer.

So the whole thing comes down to two sides: yes, Facebook is watching you all the time. That is creepy as hell. No, they do not care what you actually do on Facebook, they only care about how to target you with ads. It’s a more precise version of what TV and radio advertisers have been doing for decades. You don’t sell a luxury sedan who’s base price is $75,000 during the afternoon block of SpongeBob and Timmy Turner, nor do you sell concert tickets to Cardi-B on a country music station. We have been targeted for a long time, Facebook, however, has found a way to drill down further than we’ve been able to before. And, as it bears repeating, they are able to do so because we give them the data to do it with, so if you don’t want to receive ads about jet skis, don’t post those pics of the trip to the lake a few weeks ago. Facebook is watching.

In other news on capital hill, Paul Ryan is ending his tenure as Speaker of the House in January when the new congress comes in. The move assures that we will have a brand new speaker regardless of which party has the majority.

Ryan’s tenure as Speaker has been an interesting journey, as he has seen his once promising career as a possible Presidential Candidate become nothing more than a lost dream that seems so far fetched that he would have a better chance of winning a Bingo tournament against the wives of the Sioux City Masons.

Ryan lost control of the Republican Party he inherited from John Boehner in 2015 when Boehner gave up fighting a Tea Party movement that Ryan worked better with. His fiscal conservative tactics, and desire to actually work with “the other side,” was a welcomed breath of fresh air as Ryan was able to do what Boehner was unable to do: calm the Tea Party down, and get them under control.

Ryan appeared to be on a trajectory that would have landed him in the White House, but then Trump happened. And at the outset of Trump’s campaign, Ryan warned of Trump’s divisive tactics, noting several times that the way to progress was cooperation towards compromise, not division. The message divided the Republican base, and in the results of the 2016 Presidential election, Ryan watched as his hopes of a turn at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave started to catch fire. By the end of the first year of Trump’s Presidency, Ryan’s aspirations were engulfed in a five-alarm flame, and by the time of his announcement on Wednesday, they were nothing more than ashes on the floor that Trump walks over.

Regardless of what you may or may not think about Ryan or Boehner, the past two speakers of the House have been forced by new radical ideologies that alienate them, demands of conformity or political death, and new conservative policies that are based partially on right wing fringe groups built on fear of the other to abandon their own ideologies and long held beliefs just for the sake of survival.

Ryan, who claimed he wanted to spend more time with his children, is heading back to Wisconsin – that stronghold of conservative radicalism – where we can only hope that he will take time to re-group and let this Trumpocracy play out before re-emerging as the once strong candidate he once was. It is a hope that the Republican party needs to cling to if they want to seriously return to a single, solid, traditional conservative message.

Finally, Teacher strikes. Oklahoma spent their second week on strike and campaigning in Oklahoma City to force the state legislature to set aside more funding for schools after the legislature a few weeks ago agreed to an on average $6000 raise for the teachers.

The move, according to the teachers and their supporters, was not enough. They want better books, they want better facilities, they want better desks for their students. In other words, they are tired of being forgotten.

Several problems led to the strike, all financial. First was pay; One of the biggest issues for the state is retention of teachers as Northern Texas has slowly been luring Oklahoma teachers away with nearly $15 to $20,000 more in salaries for first year teachers. This, plus a better benefits package, and a clear attention to facilities and supplies, has forced Oklahoma teachers to abandon the state and head south where they are welcomed with open arms.

The second problem is supplies. Tales all over articles and news casts over the past few weeks have told of outdated books that are being held together by duct tape, desks that are falling apart, and 1970s style technology in the classrooms. One story reported the fact that one elementary student was assigned a text book that was once used by Country superstar Blake Shelton. In 1982.

The third problem is facilities. Again, stories all over the net point to deteriorating buildings, four day school weeks, maintenance issues that border on the hazardous, and occupation limits for students.

All three of these issues stem from one major action: continued strip mining of the Oklahoma education system by a Republican led legislature. So many are fed up, that numerous teachers and administrators have signed on to campaign for state office in the upcoming midterm elections. Their  objective: if the current legislature won’t do anything about the current crisis, they will get in there and do it themselves.

Oklahoma’s strike is the central strike at the moment as Kentucky has been fighting an on again, off again battle over pension reform and salary cuts, and in Arizona, tensions are building as it is rumored that the teachers of that state may be on strike as early as nest week, demanding a 20% pay hike and a promise of at least $1.5 billion in funding, demands that the Governor has repeatedly told the press “will not happen.”

All of these stem from the highly successful West Virginia walk outs last month which resulted in higher pay, and legislation for more money allocated to the system for better funding. As these three states are in the throws of trying to repeat the same success their peers accomplished, other states are watching as well, and the trend may continue into the midterm season in the fall.

What is clear, however, is that the strikes have shed light on the broad and deep lying problem of education funding in this country. It is also another hit to the Republican party, who have wielded so much control over the past couple of decades at the state level, and slashed so much of the funding for education in the reddest states in the country. It lends to the argument of the blue wave that may be coming in November, and shows that it isn’t just the nationally known Republicans who run Capital Hill, but the Republicans all the way down to the local level, and how their fiscal policies are finally coming under significant attack. As tax cuts were implemented with the promise of long lasting economic improvements, and better social living, the cuts have instead led to an erosion of communities basic needs, and the largest need for these communities is a good education system. Not an excellent or outstanding educations system, a simple basic good one. And the fact that all over the country we have seen education systems fall below the good standard to the barely surviving level, ensures that whether Republicans hold on to power in November or not, the constituents for each state legislature will not rest until these long term policies are reversed, and public education is once again given the attention it deserves.

And if it continues to be successful, we may just see this happen in other public sectors that have taken huge cuts during the same period.

 

And that’s the news, or some of it, for this week…(exit soundbite)

Dr J Segment:

                                                (soundbite for J)

Ok –it is time to welcome my dear friend and colleague Dr. J. who is here to join me in a short discussion about national media and how it shapes our understanding of the world…What’s up, man?

(Exit soundbite)

Closing segment:

As always, thanks to Dr J for stopping by and talking with us.

In my final segment this week, I want to stay with national media, and look at the two largest news papers in our culture: The New York Times and The Washington Post. Now, this is not a conversation about fake news or liberal bias. Instead, I want to look at the unique way that the two print giants have adjusted to the new digital era, and have been rather successful at keeping themselves relevant, in fact, the two have actually become more relevant than they were thanks to the digital realm.

Both organizations have done two rather ingenious things that have helped boost their income and strengthen their business: one, they offer affordable monthly subscriptions to all of their digital content, and two, they each have utilized the podcast to help supplement specific corners of the news market, podcasts, by the way, that are part of the digital subscription.

The digital subscription model allows both papers to reach a much larger, much more diverse audience that in turn demands a broader understanding of what content they choose to run, adding to the quality of material presented to the public, and an increase in their true credibility. In both cases, it was what was needed for the organizations, because just ten years ago they were both in serious trouble. The Times was in the middle of a slew of Plagiarism scandals, and the Post was in another economic crisis, waiting to be saved by a large investor willing to sink enough money into it so it could reinvent itself for the new digital age. In both cases, the two most recognized papers in the country were looking with uncertainty at the future, and where they fit into it with Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, and a pluthera of online blogs and loosely termed news sites all competing for the one thing both papers helped set the standard for.

What they have done since then has re-invented the news again, establishing themselves as the main sources for journalists to pull research from, getting the headlines to your smart phone with detailed, credible language that the cable news networks quote verbatim without question.

And they lead the fight to set the pace for the day’s news, battling the twitter account of Trump as he and his morning briefers at Fox and Friends influence the cable news channels at every quarter hour update; bait that neither paper bites at.

But I think the most impressive thing about these two papers is the fact that the more the conservative right screams that these two organizations hide behind bias that turns their news into fake stories, the more credible they become. Their research is always solid and reliable, and the amount of retractions remains low compared to their television counterparts.

The stunt a few months ago of a conservative watch dog group who tried to catch the Post off guard with a fake story only proved that  the papers really are on top of their game.

Before running the story that was based on a bogus story from a true crisis actor, they reporters who were handed the story did what they always do, they dug into the facts behind the story. They found the real story which was that it was fake, and meant to see if they would find it. They did. They passed. And they reported the real facts.

And that’s the show for this week. Next week, we’ll have another fun look at the headlines from the week, Dr J will join me for a fun discussion about who knows what, and so much more. For Dr J, I am The Barbour, thank you for coming by. Make it a great day, and always remember, as long as the sun rises there is opportunity. Take it…

This has been the BetaFiles.

Episode #5 Script

β

Beta Files Podcast

 

Date: 4/6/18

Episode# BB005

Subject: Local News

 

Introduction:

April 6, 2018. China Fires back at Trump and Wall Street takes the hit, David Hogg disses O’Reilly, Elon Musk is sleeping at the Tesla factory again, Julian Assange lost internet privileges, and Sinclair Broadcasting sets the new standard for low journalism. I’ve got a bad feeling about this –  I’m the Barbour and this is the Beta Files…

Headlines:

Welcome to the BetaFiles week five. On the show this week, Trump goes on another rampage, calling out China, Democrats, and Jeff Wapo Bezos. The fun just never seems to end with this guy.

Trump’s trade war kicks into high gear as China does its best impression of the Empire Strikes back, we’ll look at how Wall Street took the news. And after ending the program, Trump claims he’s done messing around with negotiations over DACA, promising to enlist the National Guard to help patrol the southern boarder as caravans of Hondurans are heading north for asylum. His foreign policy is becoming clearer by the day: isolation at all costs, literally.

We’ll also take a look at Tesla and their latest hiccup, and check in with Spotify as it went public this week, could this really mean the legitimization of streaming music? We’ll discuss…

 

Dr. J is here to discuss a special topic close to both of our hearts, and in the final segment, a look at local news and the revelations this week that Sinclair Broadcasting is casting a large conservative net across the country in a effort to promote a Trumpian agenda even further.

But first, a couple of follow ups to stories reported over the past few weeks.

In a shocker, Facebook announced Wednesday that the actual amount of users affected by the Cambridge Analytica scandal could be as high as 87 million. That’s 37 million more than originally reported, but Zuckerberg promises that the tech giant will inform each and every user affected if and when their data was used in the Cambridge Analytica scheme.

The announcement came as part of an extended statement that outlines what changes the social media network is planning on making when it comes to users personal data, and that it would start sending out messages to users around April 9. So keep an eye out on your messenger account – you might get a personal note from a Zuckerbot.

In another developing story, David Shulkin, the former head of the VA, has been on the defense this week after his departure from the cabinet position, as he has claimed, through op-eds and cable news appearances, that he was fired from the post – a claim that contradicts the White House’s stance which claims that he resigned from the post. If it is proven that he was fired, then Trump’s pick for the post would be null as policy with the VA states that the President can only choose an interim director if the current director “dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office.” A statement on Monday from the White House noted that John Kelly “offered Shulkin the opportunity to resign” – a shady way of pushing an employee to do as the administration wants, in my opinion.

Shulkin has noted that the reason for his departure stems directly from the fact that he refused to go along with plans to privatize the VA, which appears to be the direction that Trump wants to go in. However, he has been quoted as saying he has comfort and confidence in his successor, noting that the key to running the VA will be Jackson’s ability to choose a good team around him that will help him with the affairs of the agency. Shulkin, and so many of us watching, can only hope that Jackson is able to demonstrate the liabilities of privatizing the VA, and lobby the president and his administration that taking the VA away from public oversite would lead to more disruption and chaos in the second largest department in our government.

We’ll keep you posted on the story as it continues to develop.

 

And now – HEADLINES…(soundbite)

So much to talk about this week, so let’s get started…

Trump’s trade war appears to be in full swing as China has retaliated to an announcement from the administration over $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese made technology and manufactured goods. Beijing announced earlier in the week that it would counter the new tariffs by imposing their own $50 Billion tariffs on agricultural goods coming from the US. The announcement created a wild Wednesday for the stock market as it erased a 510 point loss following the announcement, to a 230 point gain in closing. The 510 point plummet came as soon as the markets opened on Wednesday after futures released earlier in the morning predicted a massive hit to Wall Street. However, as the day progressed, the market did a 700 plus point swing and finished strong with a gain. The reason for the swing seems to be that traders realized that the impending trade war that may or may not be underway is in the early stages, and that further negotiations between the US and its largest lender continue. Thursday saw markets open strong.

China was only one of the targets Trump took aim at this past weekend, as he returned to one of his pet projects in the form of Amazon, complaining that Amazon is screwing over the Post Office by using them as their personal “delivery boy” – basically a term meant to insult, but actually depicts exactly what the post office is meant to do. Be a delivery boy.

The President claimed that Amazon was paying $1.47 less per package than other retailers, however, the number is inaccurate in depicting what Amazon pays per package as the number was taken from a study based on Citigroup, not Amazon. The discrepancy doesn’t matter to the president or his supporters, as Amazon’s stock price dropped Monday by 4 points, a full 7 points since last week, losing nearly $50 Billion in value as Trump has relentlessly attacked the company for no apparent reason. The citing of the Post office problem is shining light on a non-issue, as the post office has reported gains since the Amazon deal, showing not a problem with Amazon, but rather exposing the fact that Amazon may have singlehandedly saved the post office through their deal.

Pundits suspect that the war of words from Trump stem from the fact that Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s fearless leader and founder, also owns The Washington Post which has been highly critical of the president since his campaign. Much like the attempt to foil the AT&T merger with Time Warner over his contempt with CNN, Trump is trying to use his power in office to derail a business that he takes issue with after it critiques him and his policies. The tactic is working, though after the NASDAQ took a hit, traders are demanding that Trump lay off Amazon as it creates a ripple effect through the markets. Unfortunately, according to an article in Vanity Fair, the stunt is part of a larger plan by Trump to mess with Bezos and cause the tech giant as much trouble as possible. This is the day we live in, our President is bullying just because he can bully.

Bully, bully, as Teddy would have said…

A so called caravan of Hondurans are making their way to the US for asylum from drug lords and a corrupt government, and thanks to Fox and Friends, Trump knows about it and is furious about it. In several tweets and statements over the weekend and early week, Trump promised to pull aid from Honduras, work with State Governors to get National Guard soldiers to the boarder for increased security, and announced another threat to pull out of NAFTA as it is currently being re-negotiated. The “caravan” of an estimated 1,000 refuges has been halted in Mexico waiting to see where they may proceed.

The call for the National Guard came Wednesday when Trump noted that too many immigrants who cross over are part of a “catch and release” program – a practice where immigrants are captured, and then let go until they are called in to court for their hearing. Trump wants the National Guard to help with the capture and holding of the immigrants who get in until their court date so they cannot integrate into the populace, causing what he sees as public safety issues. However, the timing of the announcement and heightened rhetoric over immigrants seems suspiciously geared towards stopping the caravan, and future groups who continue to attempt to flee from a drug ridden central and south America. Opponents site his hatred of all things natural brown, a color he tries to achieve only to end up with an orange tint. It may be a simple case of tan envy on behalf of our President.

Related to the boarder story is another announcement from the tweeter in chief, as he stated over the weekend that all negotiations over DACA are over, and he is walking away from the table. Claiming non-compliance by Democratic leaders, and complaining about Mexico’s reluctance to strengthen their own security, the President is causing more issues over a problem he caused, and claiming that DACA is dead and useless.

However, in a story from The Washington Post, the administration has approved over 55,000 applications just this year for renewals to deferment from deportation. Politico ran another story fact checking the tweets from Sunday and Monday, and noted how Trump’s claim that current immigrants trying to get in want to take advantage of DACA, but the reality, as the article points out, is that only immigrants who came in before June 15, 2007 are able to take advantage of the program. In addition to this, immigration is only taking and reviewing applications for renewals, and not fielding applications for new protection.

Politico also notes his claim that the Democrats are at fault for what he calls the failure of DACA, even though, as noted before, he was the one who ended it and created the problem in the first place, and Democrats have been lobbying both Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnel to bring DACA to the floor for debate. There have so far been two Senate bills that were presented, and lost the votes needed to pass, including support from Trump himself, so the real question is – how’s that spray tan doing, Mr. President?

Teachers in Oklahoma and Kentucky went on strike this week, leading to increased attention of the crumbling education system in our country. Oklahoma teachers aren’t demanding pay increases, but instead increased funding for schools and facilities. The system in Oklahoma has faced some of the largest cuts in education over the past few decades, leading to an average of about $8000 spent per student, vs the national average of $11,400. The cuts also hit school budgets hard in terms of facility maintenance, supplies, and technology.

Teachers in Kentucky marched on their state capital for pensions, which, like Oklahoma, led to the closing of schools in dozens of districts across the state. Kentucky state legislators are considering pension reform which will cut huge amounts of retirement and health plans of current teachers in the state.

The two strikes this week, spurred on by the successful West Virginia walk out several weeks ago which led to better compensation for public instructors, appears to be the beginning of a new wave of educators shedding light and demanding change for the past practices by Republican led state legislatures who have slashed education budgets tremendously over the past few decades. Teachers in Arizona are threatening another strike if they do not receive a 20% raise and additional funding for schools, demands that Governor Doug Ducey said would not happen.

There are more rumblings in other states as educators are fed up with inadequate funding, supplies, and pay while having the demands of standardized testing, poor results, and increased set backs in terms of where the US stands with other modernized nations with education. It is clear that teachers and administrators are arming themselves to fight a long-term battle to get the funding back that has been taken away slowly since the 1980s.

Tesla made headlines this week when production of the Model 3, Tesla’s first production car built with an affordable price tag of $35,000 for the base model, missed another deadline, leading to massive concerns from investors. The company, who will owe $230 Million in November, and another $920 Million next March, took credit hits as Moody’s downgraded their bonds to junk bond status, sending fear through investors as they finally are starting to question Musk’s ability to produce what he promised.

Tesla claimed to be able to produce 5,000 Model 3’s a week by the end of last year, and were only producing an actual count of 222. The latest revised number of 2,500 units a week has still not been met as Bloomberg reports that only 1,026 a week on average. This worries speculators, as they wonder how the company will be able to get the investor’s money back in time for when the loans are due. Musk himself tweeted out last week that he was back to sleeping at the factory again. We’ll see if it helps get the cars finished in time…

In a related non-related story, Spotify went public this week, earning a market value estimated at $26.5 Billion. The day it went public, Sony announced selling 17% of it’s ownership stake of the company for an estimated $250 Million, cash the label claims it will share with it’s artists.

The interesting thing about Spotify going public this week, and its strong market presence, is the new question over how Streaming has taken over the record industry. CD and download sales have plummeted over the past few years in the wake of iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify, but Spotify is different from the other two as it introduced a unique way to stream: a free service, and a subscription service, that has actually, against the odds given by the record industry, been shown as a success. Now, the music industry is in the throws of a revolution that actually began back in the late 90s with Napster, and is finally seeing fruition through the face of Spotify.

Julian Assange had his internet taken away by Ecuador after the embassy in which he is hiding, “out of concern that he was harming [Ecuador’s] relationships with Britain and other European nations.”  Although the Embassy did not publish details, there is speculation that the action is based on the fact that Assange complained on Twitter about the expulsions of Russian diplomats from Western countries last week. Now, it can only be assumed, Assange is viewing the world through hot-spotting his laptop from his go-phone.

Finally, in a seriously  hilarious dis, David Hogg, one of the faces of the Parkland teens, responded to a comment by Bill O’Reilly who stated that Hogg was being manipulated by “powerful, shadowy radical groups.” When pressed about O’Reilly’s comments during a televised interview, the smartass teen said, “I’m pretty well lit, and I don’t see any shadowy figures behind me.”

Touche’ David.

And that’s the headlines, or some of them, for this week…(exit soundbite)

Dr J Segment:

Ok –it is time to welcome my dear friend and colleague Dr. J. who is here to join me in a short discussion about teacher’s pay…What’s up, man?

…..

Closing segment:

As always, thanks to Dr J for stopping by and talking with us.

For my final segment this week, I want to look at local news, and what is happening to the medium right now.

Local news has always been the one place where citizens could go to find unbiased, current news that mattered to them and their community. Feel good stories about neighbors, important coverage of local councils and their votes, celebration of local schools, and of course half correct weather predictions that we forgive them for when they are so far off, they might as well have asked a magic 8-ball.

Doppler radar, news vans, traffic helicopters, and in-depth reporting of the county fair are all staples of the local news network. One final staple: the news was all about the community and the communal spirit…until now.

As you have probably heard, Sinclair Broadcasting was busted earlier this week for sending out a scripted announcement piece for all of their television affiliates to read on air. Deadspin, a sports news site, released a video that went viral immediately on Facebook and Twitter that showed several dozen channels reciting the same speech that warned about fake news being spread by the MSM, claiming that “some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think.’” The irony of the message is that it is doing exactly what it says…for Sinclair.

Leading to this problem: local news is no longer local. Although Sinclair news owns only two of the dozen local stations in my area, other stations have reverted to Sinclair style commentaries that deal with a larger, politically charged focus, leading to both conservative and liberal bias bleeding through.

It is the last battlefield in the war for unbiased news, and journalism is losing. As local News Papers continue to struggle to remain relevant in a digital world, local news stations have a couple of legs up on them: people need to know the weather, they need to know what is going on in the community, and they need to know how long it will take to drive to work, or drive home. But the infusion of politically tainted stories into the news cycle is going to lead to another division in America smaller than the red and blue boundaries – the one between yards.

(John Oliver)

Main stream media is perfect for politically driven stories that are built to either re-affirm existing beliefs, or help establish talking points for the party, but Local news is supposed to be about home, about local issues that do not concern a national audience, about how we all interact with each other on a daily basis, and continue to work towards a communal good. It is not the space for political talking points.

What Sinclair represents is a dangerous moment in our history. Autocracy is built on two things: fear and a unified message. In our case, the unified message is that of fear, and it is coming from Washington Republicans and being spread all the way down to, now, local stations.

(John Oliver)

Oliver’s point is clear, and I agree: we need to get away from this as much as possible, and the best way to do so is to fight it in all possible means.

And so, starting on next week’s podcast, I will have a new segment simply called “The Local.” But, I need your help. If you have a local news story that you want me to read on The BetaFiles, send it to me through an email at thebetafiles23@gmail.com. Include what name you want me to use, and the city or town the story is coming from.

You can also go to our website thebetafiles.com and use the links on our contact page to send us your story through Facebook and Twitter.

Just do me one favor – keep it real, and interesting. There’s a point to this, don’t ruin it…

And that’s the show for this week. Next week, we’ll have another fun look at the headlines from the week, Dr J will join me for a fun discussion about who knows what, and so much more. For Dr J, I am The Barbour, thank you for coming by. Make it a great day, and always remember, as long as the sun rises there is opportunity. Take it…

This has been the BetaFiles

Episode #4 Script

β

Beta Files Podcast

 

Date: 3/30/18

Episode# BB004

Subject: Cars and Guns

 

Introduction:

March 29, opening day, 2018. Trump trades his security advisor and two lawyers for an ambassador, Stormy spanks 60 mins, Kim Jung Un sneaks into China for a real copy of an iPhone, Putin is losing rental homes all over the world, and Atlanta is held hostage by a cursor, “What did you do, Ray?” –  I’m the Barbour and this is the Beta Files…

Headlines:

Welcome to the BetaFiles week four. On the show this week, countries all over the West have expelled Russian emissaries and the question on everyone’s mind: how will Putin respond? A New York Times op-ed suggests something worse than the cold war, something more along the lines of a post Bolshevik world.

Trump ousts H.R. McMasters and replaces him with John Bolton, a former U.N Ambassador and FoxNews pundit a day after he lost not one but two lawyers from his legal team. And speaking of Trump and Lawyers, Stormy Daniels spilled details, gross stomach churning details, about her and the Donald on 60 Minutes – we’ll disgust – I mean – discuss.

Dr. J will stop by to dish with me on non-Christian holidays the Federal government doesn’t recognize, but should so we can have more paid holidays, and in our final segment this week, a look at the gun rights vs gun control argument, and its weaknesses on both sides.

But first, a shout out to the hundreds of thousands who marched last weekend. Regardless of what they were marching for, those teenagers from Parkland have kickstarted what promises to be the first of many impressive shifts in our culture.

In interviews after the march, the leaders of the group made clear in their message that this was not the culmination of the movement, but only the beginning, promising local townhalls, another walk out on the anniversary of Columbine, and much more.

On the other side of the argument, the NRA fought back with a line that simply did not need to be said when Colion Noir called out the kids and noted that no one would know who they were if their friends had not died. What Mr. all American Name seemed to overlook in his cheap insult was that this is the very point of why these kids are marching.

His argument included another observation from his tunneled view that pointed to the resource officer who, just a few weeks ago, stopped a young man at a Maryland school from committing a mass fatality. He noted that the resource officer, one Blaine Gaskill, could have stopped the gunman at Margery Douglas, and then tried to say that the media had overlooked Mr. Gaskill’s heroics.

I can only tell Mr. Dark Mysterious LA themed story for a last name that all he need to do is search either The New York Times or Washington Post for stories that included Mr. Gaskill. When I did said search, The Times came back with 10 stories featuring Gaskill, while the post came back with 12. All dated within 3 days of the incident. And that’s the liberal papers…

But alas, his point has been made. He is out of touch.

But these kids are not.

There have been several moments in our history as a country where our citizens have stood up and called for change. It hasn’t been since the Vietnam demonstrations that young people have been able to affect this much dialogue and thought among the populace.

Keep going. As I have said before and will say again, your voices are growing louder, and your generation is doing what my generation failed to do when we had the chance. Well done.

And now – HEADLINES…(soundbite)

As we reported last week, John Dowd of Trump’s legal team in the Russia investigation quit the team on Thursday, and by Sunday Joseph E. diGenova, hired earlier in the week by Trump, had also removed himself from the legal team due to a conflict of interest in the case, leaving Trump down two lawyers Monday morning. The internal chaos continued as POTUS tweeted that he had a ton of people who would represent him, and that there was no need for concern. By the time of this broadcast, there has been no word as to whether anyone has been hired, or is prospected to be hired. More on the story as it develops.

Staying with Trump, on Monday it was announced that the US, most of Europe, and a few other countries around the world had expelled Russian diplomats in response to the attack of a former Russian spy in Britain. Trump also ordered that a Russian consulate in Seattle to be closed down affective immediately. The Kremlin, in response to the ousters, noted that they did not need to have consulates to poison former spies who turned on mother land, and have since threatened to expel all western diplomats from Russia soon, though there is no word on when or if he will do so, with the exception of the British diplomats that were forced home at the end of last week.

An op-ed in the New York Times this week argued that the current state of Russia is more akin to a “period of paralyzing mistrust that followed the 1917 Bolshevik revolution.” The article, “It’s no Cold War, but Relations with Russia are Volatile” by Andrew Higgins, goes on to point to the recent developments by Putin began under the George W Bush administration when GW withdrew the US from the antiballistic missile accord, leaving Russia fuming. Now, Putin wants to take the lead, and leave America to follow.

The expulsions earlier this week may actually have played right into Putin’s hands, and led the entire West further down a road that only Putin knows.

On Friday of last week, Trump also announced that HR McMasters was no longer to serve as national security advisor, and replaced by former U.N Ambassador John Bolton, a war hungry diplomat who would rather strike first, and ask questions later. The news has sparked all kinds of back and forth between the left and right as Bolton’s reputation of bloodthirsty pre-ejaculatory war mongering has caused considerable concern in these anxious days. Time will tell.

In other White House news, the administration has requested that the census bureau add a citizenship question to the upcoming 2020 census. The issue at stake apparently appears to be threefold: 1) that it could cause unreliable counts 2) that the information could be used by ICE to locate undocumented immigrants and 3) that Sarah Sanders is big ole liar.

When asked about the addition of the question to the census, Sanders responded that it had been on every census since the 1960s, but in fact has not been on the census since the 1950s when the short form census was introduced. And while pundits focus on this discrepancy, my own issue with the statement is as follows: if Trump had to ask to add it, and it was already on the census anyway, then exactly where is Carmen SanDiego?

If you’re confused, good. So am I.

Late Wednesday, news broke that Trump had also removed his Secretary of Veterans Affairs, David Shulkin (an Obama holdover) and replaced him with the white house doctor Ronny Jackson. For once, he chose someone who hasn’t spent time on FoxNews, and actually understands something about the department he’s taking over. An active Navy physician, Jackson is a specialist in emergency medicine, and served previously as Obama’s personal physician before carrying on the role with Trump. The move is not surprising as Shulkin has been at the center of several controversial stories that have caused problems with the administration, leading the white house to note that the constant distractions have hindered Shulkin to carry on with the job affectively, diverting time and resources away from the president’s agenda. Under secretary Robert Wilkie will serve in the interim until Jackson is confirmed.

In the final story related to our fearless leader, Stormy Daniels appeared on 60 minutes for the interview to end all interviews, at least  until Anderson gets to interview another Porn star on national tv.

The interview gave the public some interesting tidbits of information that we could have lived without – information that I will never be able to get out of my head. Apparently, and I hope Robert Mueller was paying attention, if you want to have Trump’s full span of attention, and get him off himself, all you have to do is spank him with a magazine that has him on the cover.

Gross.

Daniel’s story was a little weak at moments, a point that Cooper alluded to numerous times, asking her why exactly we should trust her. Which led her to only note that she was “getting nothing from this” which I beg to differ with because I am sure her market price in the internet porn rings has gone up tremendously.

I saw the interview. Then I had a shower to wash off the filth. Then another shower to wash off the first shower’s filth. Then a Clorox bath followed by another shower.

Blech…

In an unrelated story, Kim Jung Un snuck into China, cut a deal with Xi Zing Ping, bought some knock off Fender Guitars made in Mexico, and snuck back out before the international press found out about his visit. However, the talks may have proven to produce some headway in the current instability in the region, as it has been reported that Kim is willing to work towards a denuclearized Korean peninsula.

Thursday morning brought news that Kim and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in have agreed to meet on April 27 in the DMZ to discuss relations between the two Koreas, although it is unclear if they will discuss nuclear weaponization by the North.

Whether denuclearization will happen or not will probably depend on the coming meeting between Trump and Kim when Rocket man and old fat guy talk missiles and hot pockets. Damnit, I’m back on Trump again. Let me try again.

South Korea, in the meantime, was able to renegotiate trade talks with the US, giving Trump a small victory in his trade war – shit. I’m talking about Trump again.

OK, Rick Santorum.

Over the weekend, Santorum made an ass out of himself on State of the Union when he told the teenagers from Parkland that they may need to focus on CPR instead of guns. Because CPR is what kids need when their classmates are being shot around them. The amount – or lack of – intelligence is stupefying to say the least.

Uber has settled with the family of a woman killed by one of their self-driving vehicles in Arizona. The accident is the first involving the death of a pedestrian at the hands of an autonomous vehicle, leading to Nvidia to suspend their self-driving experiment. This leads to a set back as questions over self-driving cars and their safety have already brought unwanted attention to not only Uber, but Google and Tesla as well, leading to numerous talk shows and news programs questioning whether we should have self-driving cars.

In a related story, 16 pedestrians were killed yesterday at the hands of human driven cars leading to the question of whether we should also regulate smart phone usage on side-walks. More as the story develops.

Finally, the City of Atlanta was hacked earlier this week and held at ransom. Yes, the CITY – all government operations were compromised, which just sheds light on the fact that we need to focus more and more on intel security. The city was stuck having to cancel court, return to paper driven administration, slowing down the flow and efficiency of an already clogged system. I think the lesson here is simple: we shouldn’t put faith in the cloud as much as we have. But just like McDonald’s and Walmart, we’ve gone too far and now we’re stuck with the consequences.

And that’s the headlines, or some of them, for this week…(exit soundbite)

Dr J Segment:

Ok –it is time to welcome my dear friend and colleague Dr. J. who is here to join me in a short discussion on the scurge that plagues so many teachers across the nation: smartphones and the mindless drones that hold them, our students. What’s up, man?

…..

Closing segment:

As always, thanks to Dr J for stopping by and talking with us.

Moving on, my final segment tonight is all about the guns. Before we go any further, however, I would like to just note that this will not be an assault on guns rights advocates, nor will it be a defense of the gun control debate. Instead, I want to look at two deficiencies in the larger argument – one from the gun rights side, and one from the gun control side.

I honestly believe that the biggest reason why we just can’t seem to move forward with the debate is because both sides of the debate present arguments that are either clearly unfeasible in our current culture, or have absolutely nothing to do with the debate at all, using another debate to draw attention away from guns.

The two arguments I want to focus on are the most common among the two sides. For the gun rights advocates, whenever the idea of gun regulation is brought up, or weapons bans are floated around, the most overly used response doesn’t deal with guns themselves, but instead cars. Since Columbine, I have heard over and over again the phrase, “when someone dies in a car crash, we don’t ban all cars.” This statement is true, yet has absolutely nothing to do with guns. But, as the gun advocates simply will not let the argument go, let’s look at it first, and find the glaring weaknesses behind the argument.

In this argument, we will use my car – a two door coupe I named Vivian. Vivian is a sporty little car, she can cruise at 80 mph comfortably if she needs to, and she’s a stick shift, which makes driving Vivian a lot of fun. However, reality and common sense tells me that if Vivian were heading directly at me at 45 mph, I would more than likely lose that fight. She may be small, but she’s a stout heavy little lady, and all of the molded plastic with the forged metal behind said plastic would spell doom for my non-molded plastic body.

If I needed to, I could use Vivian as a weapon because of her ability to cause damage to a human body, which would appear to add to the argument from our friends who advocate for guns. However, that’s not her purpose. In fact, the largest problem with the argument revolves around the simple fact that Vivian was built to do one job, and one job only – get me from point a to point b. Comparing a weapon designed with the sole purpose of killing something or someone to a mode of transportation seems, to me, completely unrealistic.

However, the automobile does help in the argument, though not the way advocates would like. It actually lends to the gun control folk who can easily point out that the car is the perfect example of how heavy regulations work with decreasing the danger of the car, and improved the safety of not only the people inside of the car, but outside it as well.

Another point that hurts the gun advocate side is the fact that there are automobiles that are not allowed in public spaces. We call these cars racecars, and we have added specific terms to our language such as “street-legal” that note how there is a special class of automobiles that are not allowed to participate with all other cars. To use these cars, we have built special spaces we call race tracks where we can drive said cars. And even with racecars, we have created regulations and safety protocols for even our most dangerous vehicles.

Cars have thousands of features that are the product of continuous regulations and work for safety that we overlook every day. Little things like a seat belt, headlights, tail lights, turn signals, windshield wipers, anti-lock brakes, air bags, a horn, etc. All regulated, all necessary, all provided to keep people inside and outside of the car. So, if you want to argue that cars are equivalent to guns, then we have a long way to go to make the gun equal to the car in terms of regulation.

On the flip side, the gun control debate eventually leads to conversation of the second amendment, and it’s repeal. The reality is that repealing the second amendment will not solve the problem. Although we are the only nation in the industrialized world to have this amendment in our constitution, removing it will not remove the danger of gun violence, nor will it automatically allow Congress a better avenue towards legislation. All it would do is loosen court rulings, and lead to a logistical nightmare of trying to figure out how to write a new set of laws on top of current legislation that is barely being recognized.

In fact, if you actually look at the second amendment, repealing it would only take away one thing: the right to bear arms. What it won’t do is take away the guns themselves, it will not immediately make it illegal to have a gun as there are no laws that say it is illegal to own a gun, and it will not help the dialogue between the two sides over what to do with guns. Instead, it will simply create more of a division in an argument that has a deep divide already.

So what are the solid arguments for each side? For the gun advocates, their argument that guns don’t kill people, people kill people actually has a lot of merit. Unfortunately, neither side has been able to come to terms with how to approach this issue affectively beyond calling for better mental health provisions.

For the gun control side, the assault weapons ban carries merit as well. When the original ban was in place, numbers stayed static, neither going down nor going up. It created a moment when there was a halt on the progression of a problem that affected everyone. However, once the assault ban was lifted, numbers sky rocketed, and have done nothing more than continue to go up.

Between just these two examples, the two sides should be able to come to an agreement and find common ground over the larger problem of gun violence in our culture. It isn’t happening, mainly because of lobbyists on both sides keeping the dialogue at bay. Until larger lobbying forces like the NRA are given less political power in the debate, we will not see progress in the argument, and we will be left with deep divides in our current culture.

Whether you like the kids from Parkland or not, the one thing they are being successful at is keeping the debate at the forefront, and not allowing lobbying firms to take over the conversation and bury it beneath punditry. This is the moment both sides have needed, and it will only be a matter of time before both sides will finally come together for a real conversation, and compromise.

Finally, as some of you know, I record this show on Thursday’s, and on this particular Thursday is a happy one for your’s truly as today is opening day for the MLB.

There is a tradition I started a few years ago for both opening day and game one of the World Series where I read “Casey at the Bat” to my students to help usher in the new season or championship, and call attention to a sport that most young people pay little attention to. In an age of immediate gratification, Baseball is a challenge for them to follow, and so they dismiss it, until I get hold of them, and attempt to pass on my passion for our great past time.

So, with that being said, I plan to add the BetaFiles to this tradition, and if you will allow me the pleasure, I would like to recite “Casey at the Bat” for your listening pleasure:

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:

The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,

And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,

A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

 

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest

Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;

They thought, “If only Casey could but get a whack at that—

We’d put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.”

 

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,

And the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;

So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,

For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.

 

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,

And Blake, the much despisèd, tore the cover off the ball;

And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,

There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

 

Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;

It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;

It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,

For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

 

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;

There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile lit Casey’s face.

And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,

No stranger in the crowd could doubt ‘twas Casey at the bat.

 

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;

Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt;

Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,

Defiance flashed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

 

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,

And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.

Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—

“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one!” the umpire said.

 

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,

Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;

“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone on the stand;

And it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

 

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;

He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;

He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew;

But Casey still ignored it and the umpire said, “Strike two!”

 

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and the echo answered “Fraud!”

But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.

They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,

And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

 

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,

He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate;

And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,

And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

 

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;

And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,

But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.  

 

(strike out clip?)

 

The Boys of summer have returned for another year! I hope you enjoy it as much as I will…

And that’s the show for this week. Next week, we’ll have another fun look at the headlines from the week, Dr J will join me for a fun discussion about who knows what, and so much more. For Dr J, I am The Barbour, thank you for coming by. Make it a great day, and always remember, as long as the sun rises there is opportunity. Take it…

This has been the BetaFiles.

Episode #3 Script

β

Beta Files Podcast

 

Date: 3/23/18

Episode# BB003

Subject: March Madness

 

Introduction:

March 23, 2018. Andrew McCabe falls 27 hours short of full benefits, Putin wins in a landslide against…Putin, Trump calls for a plumber, the red head from Sex in the City wants to make love to the state of New York as their governor, and Mark Zuckerberg may finally get that front row seat in congress -hold on to your butts, I’m the Barbour and this is the Beta Files…

Headlines:

Welcome to the BetaFiles week three. On the show this week, we look at what Cambridge-Analytica is in lemans terms and how it may affect you. We’ll also note the Russian election of one, and break down the actual possibilities of Cynthia Nixon becoming the first Lesbian Governor of New York.

Dr. J will stop by to discuss smart phones in the classroom, and in our final segment this week, a special surprise for you – a tactic to make you listen to the whole podcast (maniacal laugh).

A funny anecdote for you before we go any further. This past week, NPR’s Steve Inskeep has been filing reports from Djibouti where Yemenis refuges have been fleeing in order to escape the civil war in Yemen. Now, I’m sure you’re wondering why this is funny, and it isn’t. It has been a great set of reports that have exposed what the refuges have been living through as they have been forced to escape and leave their livelihoods behind for fear of their lives, a story that main stream media has not given much traction to due to the category five hurricane that is the white house.

However, what is funny is the endless juvenile possibilities that presents itself with the word Djibouti. For example, listeners are sure to chuckle when the passive tone of a female NPR correspondent introduces their own Steve Inskeep, deep inside Djibouti. The possibilities are endless, as noted by Inskeep himself, who, earlier this week, took to Twitter and noted, quote, “Just came home from a very serious trip abroad, covering very serious and somber things, and was greeted by a kid who asked me, ‘is Uranus in Djibouti?’” end quote. What makes me laugh isn’t the infantile joke that a 12 year old would find hilarious, but the pure irony that Inskeep himself found funny enough to publically give us all a good chuckle.

In times like these, and even more important, with the many tragic stories that clog our newsfeeds, it is noteworthy when we can find the small ray of light hearted fun, no matter how juvenile it may appear to be.

Thank you, Mr. Inskeep.

And now – HEADLINES…(soundbite)

Last Friday night, all hell broke loose when Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired former Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe on the grounds that McCabe was found to not show “candor” when he approved the release of material from two agents to the Wall Street Journal. McCabe fired back by saying that all actions he took in the matter were known by senior staff, and that the material handed over was not pertinent to the portion of the investigation that was still opened. He also attacked the Administration for singling him out for things he saw in the aftermath of the firing of his former boss, James Comey. The dramatic battle between Sessions’ announcement and McCabe’s statement the following day, was compounded when the President lobbed more insults at the FBI in his continuing war with law enforcement, choosing to use the incident to call out Mueller by name for the first time. John Dowd, one of Trump’s lawyers, also came out Saturday declaring that the investigation needed to come to an end as there has been no proof of collusion given by the special council. Trump proceeded to continue his attacks through Monday, which drew the ire of McCabe, Comey, a few Senators, and former CIA director John Brennen who called Trump out  when he tweeted at the President, “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America…America will triumph over you.” Comey also noted that the American people will know the truth soon about Trump and what happened with Comey, alluding to his upcoming book. All of this just added more dramatic flare to an already chaotic investigation, appearing to quietly make things worse for Mueller.

But then on Monday, the Guardian ran a massive exposé that opened the floodgates to the latest Zuckerberg nightmare – Cambridge Analytica. It has dominated the headlines, and led to congress calling on Zuckerberg himself to testify about what can and is being done to make sure that this, and other breaches of Facebook in the past two years, never happen again, or are at least combated at the moment instead of coming out after the fact. Confused as to what’s really going on with the controversy? You’re not alone, so I will try to explain it in simple terms that we can all grasp.

A few years ago, two psychologists created a personality test that one Aleksandr Kogan, a Russian born American Researcher, took and created an app that could be used on Facebook under the title “this is your digital life” – Kogan, following Facebook protocol, noted in the terms of service for the app that the app could collect not only the personal data of the user taking the quiz (a quiz they had to pay for), but also the data of their friends who post information publically. Of the estimated 270,000 users who paid to take the quiz, over 50 million users data was collected through the “friends” loop in the app. All of this is legitimate per the Facebook rule book, however, the next step is where it gets shady as Kogan, hired by Cambridge Analytica, handed the information over for a flat $800,000 paycheck the firm claims was to cover the development of the app, not the collection of the data.

The claim of what happened once they had the data, is that once it was turned over to Cambridge Analytica, it was used to create psychological profiles of users which led to targeted political messages to sway voters through stories within their newsfeeds. Facebook claims that once they realized what was happening, they contacted both Kogan and Cambridge Analytica, and demanded, through breach of Facebook’s agreement, that the data be destroyed. Whether the material was destroyed or not is unknown, though there have been objections by several in the know that it has not been. Facebook is in hot water because the tech giant knew about the breach for two years, and had no plans on informing the public. Hence the disturbingly odd responses by Zuckerberg earlier this week when he tried to comfort the public through promises of tightened regulations and better oversight of the platform.

Why does all of this matter? Other than the fact that we now have yet another way that Facebook was hijacked and used to shape the opinions of voters during the last presidential campaign, it is who funded and oversaw Cambridge Analytica at the time that has the red flags flying at full mast. It was funded by massive Trump supporter Robert Mercer, and the board held Steve Bannon as one of it’s members. Add to the mix that a Russian who’s main job is researching American psychological habits and tendencies, and the fact that the Trump campaign used the data, and it smells bad. Like rotten broccoli and dead cat bad.

Speaking of Russian controlled elections, Putin was re-elected this week as he defeated himself in a race that came down to the wire. The results were so unpredictable, there are talks of an investigation into whether he colluded with Russia to get elected. More as the story develops.

Trump called Putin to congratulate him on his win, something that apparently his staff told him not to do in all caps (they learned that trick from the handy explanation on Fox News last week). The story in this one? Well, there are two – one, that he had to be told in all caps not to do something he would end up doing, and two that the memo leaked out, pissing everyone off. John Kelly was reported to be highly disappointed, and looking into who leaked the memo so he could take action and fire them.

But I want to come back to the fact that they felt that he needed to be told not to congratulate Putin, and had it emphasized. The memo also noted that he needed to ask about the 2016 election, and condemn, to Putin’s ear, the poisoning of the two Russians in Britain. He did neither. In fact, about the only thing he did that the memo dictated was the line, “Call Putin.”

In a related story, the G.O.P is officially the party of slime ridden filth as a neo-Nazi won a G.O.P primary in Illinois this week. Arthur Jones, a self described Nazi, White Supremacist, and holocaust denier (claiming that the holocaust was nothing more than an overblown non-event and an international extortion racket) was the only Republican to be listed on the ballot, and so won by default. The party was unable to gather enough support for any one else, leading to Jones getting the nomination. Even though the Republican party of Illinois has attempted to distance themselves from him, and have denounced him, they have unwittingly allowed this to happen, and now in 2018, there is a Nazi running for the Illinois state legislature. Just another sign that we’re heading in the wrong direction.

Cynthia Nixon of Sex in the City fame announced her bid to run in the Democratic primary against Incumbent Cuomo. Nixon, if she wins the primary and the race against the GOP candidate, would become the first openly gay governor of New York. However, she has been panned in the press for her lack of experience and the focus of her only campaign ad being on the City of New York, giving little attention the rest of the state. All of the shots with Nixon are shot in the city, while the shots of what she alludes to as the poorer parts of upper state New York are void of her presence, leading to criticism of a double standard. Regardless of the criticism, her challenge should prove to be an interesting race for Cuomo, and the nation.

Finally, John Dowd, personal lawyer to President Trump and head of Trumps defense against the Russia probe, resigned from the legal team Thursday Morning. The move comes after the controversial hiring of Joseph diGenova earlier in the week. The move shakes things up for Trump and his defense since it was Dowd who made the public statement over the weekend that the Mueller probe needed to be shut down. It appears that the cabinet is not the only group Trump is shaking up.

And that’s the headlines, or some of them, for this week…(exit soundbite)

Dr J Segment:

Ok –it is time to welcome my dear friend and colleague Dr. J. who is here to join me in a short discussion on the scurge that plagues so many teachers across the nation: smartphones and the mindless drones that hold them, our students. What’s up, man?

…..

Closing segment:

Before we move on to the final segment, I wanted to give a shot out to the UMBC Pioneers for the massive upset of Virginia last week. For the first time in NCAA history, a 16 seed pulled off the impossible and made it possible. It was never a matter of if, it was simply a matter of when. And now we have the when…

This weekend will host the March for our lives, check the interweb for your closest march if you want to support the movement started and continues to be sustained by those magnificent young people from Parkland. The inspiration of these young people is overwhelming.

Finally, My last segment this week is a bit of a personal one.

In August of 2017, the Economist ran a story that detailed a rather surprising and little known fact. The amount of alcohol related deaths was triple the amount of opioid related deaths in 2015 and 2016. Alcohol has become such a largely engrained part of our culture that we tend to overlook the disease of alcoholism, brushing it to the side until the alcoholic, in full surrender to the disease, disrupts our lives to a point that we demand action from them. It is a vicious time where loved ones are told to let the alcoholic alone, allow them to hit “bottom,” and then they will see the error and seek help on their own.

The road to the bottom is a rough and wild one, leaving a ton of damage, irreversible mistakes, and emotional destruction that makes a nuclear attack look tame. But once a bottom is reached, the alcoholic surrenders, either to recovery or to the disease and death.

Recovery, in turn, is just as challenging, and presents a lot of emotional unease, stress, and impatience that has to be fought on a day to day, sometimes hour to hour or minute to minute, basis. Loved ones of someone in recovery find life almost as difficult as life in active addiction at times, as chemicals and habits are reset, and attempts to fight off mental, physical, and imagined cravings becomes a battle inside the alcoholic’s mind, a fight that family and friends are unable to understand or sympathize with as they can only watch and bury themselves in hope.

A year ago, I chose not to engage any more in the disease. The past year has been a whirlwind of blurred moments combined with moments of clarity and personal discovery of things I had lost 25 years ago.

Alcoholism is a heavy burden that everyone around me has had to carry in some form or another, and recovery has been no different. There have been long days and longer nights this past year that I have kept hidden as I fought tirelessly to hold the monster at bay. I have lost cognitive abilities that are slowly coming back, memories of events that I swore I’d hold on to are lost, and learning new ways to deal with reality has become a very real physical and mental war waged every moment when my instinct is to flee to a bottle.

But recovery has also brought clarity, engagement in a world I’d forgotten, new memories I can hold onto, and health that has given me the energy I had lost has come back, slowly, but firmly. My affinity for music and writing is returning as I had lost the joy of creation. But most importantly, I am not damaging anything anymore.

Recovery has brought peace, but it did not come immediately. It took time. It took a lot of patience. It took a lot of retraining my way of thinking and engaging in the world.

Today I celebrate a year of sobriety. It is my triumph for my children, my wife, my family, and my dearest friends. But I live a day to day existence. I will not drink today. I cannot promise tomorrow or the next day, I can only promise today.

(Leo Mcgary)

I couldn’t say it better…

And that’s the show for this week. Next week, we’ll have another fun look at the headlines from the week, Dr J will join me in discussing smart phones in the classroom, and so much more. For Dr J, I am The Barbour, thank you for coming by. Make it a great day, and always remember, as long as the sun rises there is opportunity.

This has been the Beta Files.

Episode #2 Script

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Date: 3/16/18

Episode# BB002

Subject: Social Media

 

Introduction:

March 16, 2018. T Rex is extinct in international affairs, The House intel committee claimed no collusion then walked it back, Stormy wants to return her payoff so she can dish to Anderson Cooper, and our president is planning to fight the galactic empire with a proposed “space force” – hang on to your diapies, babies, I’m the Barbour and this is the Beta Files…

Headlines:

Welcome to round two of our grand little experiment. On this week’s show, we’ll dive into the wonderful world of your prototypical beautiful wall, discuss the pros and cons of a death star, and try to break down the enigma that is the House Intelligence Committee – does it live up to its name?

Dr. J will stop by to discuss William Faulkner and Quinton Compson, and I want to discuss the value of Social Media in our current culture – is facebook good, evil, or the first step to singularity?

Before we go any further, I want to give a shout out to all those rule-breaking kids that walked out on Tuesday. For the adults whose attention you didn’t already have, you have it now, and March 24 should be a more impressive statement just based on what I have seen so far. The coolest moment of protest that I personally noted was that of a California High School where the students participated in a “Die-in” spelling the word Enough across their football field while a gong was banged 17 times.

Another notable from Tuesday was a young second grader from San Jose named Leonardo Aguilar who, being the only student from his elementary school to walk out, joined the high school students across the way to show his support. In the photo I viewed of the young protester, he is wearing a sign that simply says “Guns are cruel, not cool.”

Kudos to Leonardo, and all of the young men and women who took a step forward this past Tuesday. Keep fighting, your voices are gaining volume.

And now – HEADLINES…(soundbite)

Monday saw a flurry of heavy activity from Washington as our favorite storm of a pornstar announced that she would gladly return all $130,000 she received in order to let it all hang out, including photos and possible videos (I just threw up in my mouth a little bit).

This is in anticipation of a 60 minutes interview with America’s favorite gay snowman Anderson Cooper where it can be assumed that she will dish all about her former lover / possible client. By Wednesday, new revelations shared that there was a second lawyer involved with the payoff, adding more intrigue into the story that would normally end a presidency, but of course nothing about this current admin is normal.

The house intelligence committee rushed out a report on Monday that noted that they could “not find sufficient evidence that there was collusion” between Trump and the Russians. Democrats immediately came out fighting, noting that they did not support the report, and pointed to the many flaws that the report has along with the implications that cannot be substantiated as evidence was not sufficiently gathered.

That did not stop Trump and state media FoxNews from declaring victory as if the other investigations still in play don’t exist. Trump’s immediate tweet on the matter was written in all caps, a point that FoxNews had to explain to their AARP audience (basically the entire audience) that the all caps meant that he was yelling, in which the correspondent (FoxNews Barbie #3) then read in a loud voice for effect.

It was ineffective.

By Tuesday evening, however, the New York Times was running a story noting how several of the committee’s Republicans were already back stepping to make sure the public understood that only that committee could not find enough evidence, to which Adam Schiff, the leading Democrat on the committee, noted “No shit, Sherlock.” He pointed to the very few witnesses the committee called, and the brazen reluctance by Nunes and his cadre to follow up their questions with those few who came before the committee. Leading many to wonder just what is the combined IQ of the Republican members of the intelligence committee. I’m betting it’s a small fraction of the Koch Brother’s paycheck.

The biggest news of the week came crashing down like an earth killing asteroid on Tuesday, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson got the Trump dump through, not surprisingly, a tweet. Rumors abound that Chief of Staff Kelly warned Rex, and whether that’s true or not, we’ll never know. What we do know is that in the immediate post-tweet moments, undersecretary Steve Goldstein came out with a story that didn’t mesh with the white house by-line, and received his own pink slip. Heather Nauert, of Fox and Friends fame, will replace him (of course she will – she’s blonde, she’s young, and she’s from Fox and Friends. The math isn’t hard to do).

CIA director Mike Pompeo will replace Rex, and Mistress of the dark Gina Haspel has been nominated to replace Pompeo as the first female CIA director. However, several in the Senate question the pick over her ties to torture and questionable actions in the past. John McCain and Rand Paul have both been vocal about her pick, and plan to vet her thoroughly during her hearings.

There was another shocker in the oval office trap door lottery when Trump’s personal aide was fired for shifty financial matters that kept him from obtaining permanent security clearance. What made me chuckle a little was when Kasie Hunt of MSNBC quickly noted that it had nothing to do with any of the financial investigations into Trump or the Trump campaign – meaning that Paul Manefort is not the only person tied to Trump who did shady business deals outside of a Trump property…

Hang tight, we’re not done with Tuesday yet…

Trump flew out to California to view prototypes of his “big beautiful wall,” feeding the press corps taco bowls on the flight out, insulting the Governor as soon as he landed, and telling a group from the marine corps (spelled core per POTUS) that he was contemplating the creation of a space force – like an airforce, but in space, because we all know that those pesky Kling-ons and Romulans have been interfering with our weather satellites and Direct TV signal.

For those of you either scratching your head, or laughing, or both, yes, this is true. He actually said he wants to create a space force to fight in space. What we will fight is anyone’s guess, but that petition for a Death Star a few years ago may actually get traction again.

Late Tuesday night / early Wednesday morning brought news of a Pennsylvania coup by the Democrats as Rick Saccone, pornstache and all, lost his bid to Conor Lamb to represent a district that will no longer be a district once lines are redrawn to fix the blatantly gerrymandered map drawn by State Republicans. The biggest story from the upset – that a Democrat beat a Republican in a district that is undeniably gerrymandered for the Republican party. Trump’s bump turned out to be more of a bump down for Saccone as pundits are largely pointing to the possible rejection nationwide of the Republican party come November. It is the latest in a string of victories by the Democratic party, but it all leads to the question of how badly the Dems are gonna screw this up by November.

Just like the Republican party that seems to be shrugging their shoulders over which way to go in the current environment, the Democrats are just as confused and befuddled as to which way to point the ship. Identity politics are on the slide down, while economic and social welfare is on the slide up. Health care is still hanging out there, and with the Me Too movement, Parkland high schoolers, and the tax cut fiasco, the Democrats are staring at a no-lose situation. But if history teaches us anything, unless there is another Barack Obama waiting to land in their laps, this party will blunder the opportunity, making November look more and more interesting.

Wednesday kept the news crawl going at warp speed when late in the afternoon, the FBI Disciplinary office announced that (based on recommendations by the Department of Justice and the Inspector General) Andrew McCabe, the former Deputy head of the FBI, and interim director following the firing of James Comey, violated policy and authorized the disclosure of sensitive materials to reporters, then lied about it to investigators. McCabe allowed two high ranking officials from the FBI to sit down with the Wall Street Journal and disclose information pertaining to an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s family foundation before the investigation was complete, violating FBI rules that state information regarding a current investigation cannot be given out until the investigation is considered complete.

The news breaks just days before McCabe is set to retire, which means that if they pull the trigger before March 18, McCabe will lose all of his retirement benefits, something several reporters have noted would be seen as a vindictive shot by the current administration as our commander in chief has done little to hide his disdain for McCabe. It doesn’t take much to figure out why Trump can’t stand McCabe, but I’ll give you a hint any way: it rhymes with Fillary Benton.

If they don’t pull the trigger, pundits point out that it would look like Sessions is playing against Trump by not heeding to the Presidents long time wishes of removing McCabe permanently. Either way, the story has presented an interesting catch-22 for all involved.

The Senate passed legislation that rolled back a lot of the regulations tied to Dodd-Frank on Wednesday, clearing the way for, as they sold it, smaller banks to be able to more easily maneuver in the market place, but garnering opposition that noted the actions taken by the legislation could lead to another massive financial crisis like the 2008 crash that led to the regulations in the first place. Time will tell…

Larry Kudlow was named as Trump’s new Economic Advisor. The CNBC analyst has been hammered in numerous op-eds as being not only unfit for the job, but possibly the worst economist without a degree in economics Trump could have chosen. The Washington Post went so far as to call him out in a piece titled, “Larry Kudlow may have been more wrong about the economy than anyone alive” when they pointed out that back in December 2008, he was the sole commentator screaming no bubble burst, and promoting a “Bush” economy that was on its way up while the stock market crashed all around him. So, hey – if you’re gonna have a tycoon who is a master in bankruptcy run the country, why not have an economic advisor who knows nothing about economic downturns as the economy crashes and burns. Sounds like a helluva team to me.

Finally, last weekend Trump went campaigning for the aforementioned Rick Saccone when he mentioned Chuck Todd in one of his famous put downs, calling Todd a “sleeping sonuvabitch” in the middle of telling a story about his visit to Meet the Press in 1999 with Tim Russert. He noted, without any provocation, that the show was now hosted by “sleepy eyed Chuck Todd, he’s a sleeping sonuvabitch, I’ll tell ya.” In defense of one of my personal favorite TV personalities, I will simply note that maybe Chuck looks so sleepy because it has been so hard to keep up with this administration and all the mess on capital hill piled on top of it. I think if we are going to point out Chuck’s exhausted look, we need to go back to the moment when this administration launched its attack on his sleeping habits: (Kelly Anne clip)

You be the judge…

And that’s the headlines, or some of them, for this week…(exit soundbite)

Dr J Segment:

Ok –it is time to welcome my dear friend and colleague Dr. J. who is here to join me in a short discussion on an author we both enjoy, the master of the whiskey binge writing purge, commander of stream of conscious writing, and son of a mythical confederacy he loved to hate while lusting for its ugliness, William Faulkner. What’s up, man?

…..

Closing segment:

 

Finally, our spotlight segment this week focuses on Social Media. About a month ago, Wired ran a cover story on Facebook which detailed what happened before, during, and after the 2016 election, and dove in-depth into what Zuckerberg is doing in the aftermath. Since the company publicly accepted some (though not all) responsibility for the Russian campaign through Facebook to undermind and sway our election, the digital giant has instilled numerous new algorithms in the news feed, added more security in the form of actual human beings watching the activity on the site, and opened the door for mainstream media outlets to option subscriptions to Facebook users for legitimate news.

But a bi-product of the overhauls made by Zuckerberg and his team has been the handful of former employees who were either let go or quit during and after the calamity. These few good men and women have been critical of not just Facebook and Twitter in playing the vital roles that they played, but have also pointed to how social media as a whole has aided in the continued polarization of our country.

Don’t take this as a “we need to get rid of social media because it is making us dumber and less social” kind of argument. Instead, before we can get to that point of contention, we need to take a look at the actual positives social media does afford us. I’ll use Twitter as an example, specifically my feed.

I follow numerous news sites and op-ed sites, both liberal and conservative. My favorites, however, are The Washington Post and New York Times, so most of the news I am exposed to has a liberal slant. Not to the degree that conservative sites would have you believe, but a slant none the less. The same goes for the conservative sites I follow – The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Times, and though they have a conservative slant, they are not to the extreme that most of the harder left sites would have you believe.

It’s because of these slants that I follow these sources. I know, for example, that if Trump does something ignorant, The Times and the Post are going to be much harder on him than the other two. But it is through the other two sources that I can see and understand pieces of the conservative point of view, and get a better, little more rational idea of how the story itself will play out in the overall national narrative. What makes Twitter unique and key to this is the fact that all four sources are contained within the same space, easily accessible, and readily available for debate among multiple voices from different backgrounds, regions, nationalities. When used constructively, this presents an opportunity for us as a culture, and species, to grow intellectually and socially in ways that can be positive and understanding.

But let’s look at reality – this doesn’t happen. What does happen is a lack of empathy followed by name calling, trolling, insults, threats, fear, anger, hate, darkside, Deathstar.

This is how we interact with social media – we defend our turf, and destroy any one who questions our turf without regard that there may just be more than one opinion to be had.

I am just as guilty of this as anyone else, so don’t count me a saint.

What scares me is how easy it is to fall down that hole, to let the anger take over the keyboard, and get lost in a thread of comments that goes from debate to virtual bar room brawl.

Social media is not to blame for those moments. Those moments are fueled by something else, and social media has simply become the vehicle from which we travel down those dark paths. What is to blame can be traced back, I would contend, to the 1994 midterm elections where Republicans retook congress during the Clinton administration, otherwise known as the “Republican Revolution.”

I’m not blaming the Republicans for the deep divide that we see now, but the 1994 midterm elections were the beginning of a divide in Washington that would slowly grow over the next 20 plus years. The Democrats are compliant with this divide, as During GW’s administration, the Democrats pissed away ample opportunities simply based on their detesting the President and his policies, while the Republican congress under Obama did exactly the same thing.

And now, we have a congress that refuses to work across aisles, would rather blame each other without finding solutions, and frankly gets nothing done.

These divisions, which have reverberated through the electorate, have become the norm rather than a temporary moment. A norm that has been amplified through social media, ironically a platform built to bring us closer but has instead only been used to drive us further apart.

Note the word choice I used there – been used. While we so desperately want to blame social media for our social anxiety and awkward behaviors with other human beings, the reality is that social media does nothing but allow us to create, manipulate, and sustain our own world view. Social media doesn’t determine our world view, it simply gives us what we want.

We don’t blame a toaster or microwave when it gives us exactly what we want, nor do we blame Wendy’s or McDonalds for giving us French fries we pay for.

Yet, we are quick to blame social media for our own corruption. The divide in our culture can be cured rather rapidly using social media, but it is the public media (news papers, gossip columns, reality TV, etc) that continues to promote division. For example: one of my favorite shows right now is the action comedy Lethal Weapon on Fox. It’s a funny show, but the reality is that it is fiction – not because the stunts are unreal, or that the situations are unbelievable, but because it promotes a good verses evil, black and white idea of the world. This is not an accurate representation of our actual world. Our world is not black or white. Our world is multi-colored with numerous options and opinions. Believe it or not, social media can be made to represent those multiple colors, multiple options. We choose not to use it that way.

Which brings me to my point: we don’t need to rethink social media, we need to rethink how we use social media. Zuckerberg can create a million and one algorithms that specialize your newsfeed, but if you are only reading those stories that interest you, then you are continuing to perpetuate your world view. Facebook is simply giving you what you want. If we want real change, and we want to see the divide shrink, then we need to change what we see. Not what social media shows.

And that’s the show for this week. Next week, we’ll have another fun look at the headlines from the week, Dr J will join me in discussing smart phones in the classroom, and so much more. For Dr J, I am The Barbour, thank you for coming by. Make it a great day, and always remember, as long as the sun rises there is opportunity.

This has been the Beta Files.

Episode #1 Script

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Beta Files Podcast

 

Date: 3/9/18

Episode# BB001

Subject: Pilot

 

Introduction:

March 9, 2018. The President of the United States is being sued by a Porn star, the attorney general is threatening to deport the state of California, Sam Nunberg lost his mind on national television, and the New Yorker ran a full dossier on Christopher Steele. Just another week in America – buckle up, I’m the Barbour and this is the Beta Files…

Headlines:

Welcome to the first of, hopefully, many weekly snapshots of American culture.

What is this, you’re wondering. Well, short story long, I had an idea, plugged in a mic, and here we are. It isn’t going to be much as far as massive amounts of political commentary or opinion driven diatribes, there won’t be a lot of activism here, male dominated attitudes, etc. No, here we will simply be commenting on what the hell is happening in the world for those who abhor the news cycle and “depressing” stories that clutter it.

The structure of the show, keeping in mind that we may change it, is a simple three act paradigm with an opening segment focused on the headlines from the past week, a second act with Dr. J who will join me to discuss art and literature, and a final act that will focus on the lighthearted or smaller informative stories that may be left behind in the continuing chaos that is the Trump presidency. A well-rounded show as you can tell.

We’ll do it once a week, posting the podcast on Friday nights for anyone to download and listen to on this website, thebetafiles.com. Yes, thanks to the wonderful people of WordPress, we have our own domain. Peachy keen…

A little history about me – I was born to a man and woman in a hospital. My father passed away when I was three, but left a large collection of writing, drawings, paintings, and poetry behind which gave me the bug. Now, here I am, 38 years later still trying to find a niche in the literary market…..by talking into a microphone…

Not exactly literature, though I did write this…

As my mother would say, Any way….

With all of that out of the way, let’s get started by looking at the headlines…(soundbite)

On Monday, The New Yorker ran a detailed article focused on Christopher Steele and his investigation of, quote, the many criminal roads that lead to Trump tower. Two interesting revelations that stood out for me from the article were the claims that Steele ran into Trump tower no-nos at least five years before the election, and that the decision to choose Rex Tillerson over Mitt Romney may have been decided in Moscow, a claim that outside of Jake Tapper and Chuck Todd hasn’t gotten a lot of traction in the headline crawls thanks to a Stormy week in the northeast and the west wing.

By Tuesday, soundbites all over the upper list of channels on Direct TV were full of Trump claiming “no chaos” as his top economic advisor optioned his free agency clause and left to join the Yankees after the commander in chief insisted on creating a trade war with Reynolds wrap and pepsi cans.

On top of that, Stormy Daniels popped back up in the first quarter of every hour like a bad case of herpes that just will not go away after she filed suit against Trump when he failed to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Apparently, she’s not suing for money, instead she is suing for acknowledgement of the affair. Who would have thought that the woman to act as that lynchpin in the Trump v female population would be the same porn star that Steve Carell tried to watch in 40-year old virgin. Oh irony, how thee play such fun games…

Florida passed legislation that makes both the NRA and those pesky kids a little less angry, though part of the agreement allows volunteer options to bring firearms into classrooms. It did not pass assault weapon legislation, however, leading to the continued call for legislatures to work harder against the influence from the NRA. These kids are not letting up, and kudos to them for that.

In what would be a great Onion headline, Jeff Sessions plans to deport California and revoke all rights shared by both naturalized and immigrant Californians which include the right to get drunk and pee on Sunset Blvd after a great night at the Whiskey…something I feel Mike Pence secretly desires.

Earlier this week, the AG made his way to California where he went after the governor and others over the fact that Sacramento refuses to help ICE find and get rid of unwanted individuals. California has doubled down on its status as a sanctuary state, and is ready to fight the feds after former Attorney General, and number one thorn in Sessions side not named Trump, Eric Holder pointed out that the supreme court ruled previously that states could not be forced by the fed to give up resources when the state  does not agree with the federal policy being cited for said resources. Sessions is angrily shaking in his white boy boots over the outlandish idea that a state could have a conscious and is baffled why those pot smoking hippies would want to defend drug selling gang bangers from Tajuana. Of course, sessions would also have ICE raid every Taco Bell to deport those annoying chalupas and the 1 am pot menu.

Finally, we were formally introduced to Sam Nunberg this week, the Trump campaign official that no one I know even had an inkling existed. Nunberg made waves Monday when he went on every possible talk show on cable news for five, almost six hours declaring that he would not comply to Mueller’s request for his emails, then maybe give what few emails he had gone through over, to finally that night realizing this was crazy and insane and announcing on MSNBC that he would gladly hand over his email password so Mueller would have access to everything. If you have not had a chance to see any of the clips, or read one of the several fully transcribed interviews floating around on Twitter, please do so. It is a great laugh that will be funny until Nunberg disappears in a Denzel style Russian mafia hit. Don’t forget that a former spy and his daughter were poisoned by the Kremlin this week, so training day could actually happen…

 

And that’s the headlines, or some of them, for this week…(exit soundbite)

 

Dr J Segment:

Ok – on a lighter note, it is time to welcome my dear friend and colleague Dr. J. The doc is not only a professor of the bastardized Germanic French Celtic Saxon language we call native like myself, he is a poet who shares and disagrees with many of my favorites. Tonight, he has agreed to join us and give us some insight into the life of one William Carlos Williams, master of the refrigerator post-it that gently let’s your lover down, Dr. J, how’s it going?

…..

Closing segment:

Finally, we take a look at Podcasts. On Tuesday, Wired ran an interesting article on the rise and continued popularity of what the article insinuates as the new way to gather your news without the bothersome TV or crumpled newspaper that your neighbor didn’t steal.

Felix Salmon, the articles author, took a unique look at how the podcast has become, in his words, industrialized as larger media companies like The New York Times, Washingon Post, and NPR have invested larger and larger amounts of time and advertising revenue on the format, helping boost their native formats by allowing traditional journalists another avenue to explore and experiment with, adding to the plethora of information that the organizations can draw from for their narratives.

But the question I had as I combed through the article was simply how do we define what a podcast is? I asked because, this little venture I am playing with here has been something I have been playing around with for a while now, and I have simply called it an idea for a podcast, but is it? What characteristics define the podcast? Can a guy literally plug in a microphone, talk for twenty or thirty minutes about the news of the day, and call that a podcast? To me, the ambiguous nature of the podcast rivals that of the blog where both amateur and professional writers compete to create dialogues connected to larger narratives promoted by the Mainstream media outlets. Blogs also take on the nature of personal interest diaries, expanded thoughts that are better left to post-it notes, and reflections on personal beliefs and observations.

Are these also possible avenues for the podcast?

There are two major moments in the brief history of the format that techies point to in creating the massive popularity of the podcast: the adoption of the podcast by Apple through iTunes, and of course Serial, the NPR offshoot of This American Life that changed the way individuals could binge something besides Netflix and Hulu. But, when you dig into these two moments, a definitive set of rules for the format does not present itself. Most of the earlier podcasts hosted on Apple were either smaller summaries of larger productions, or attempts by personalities to create spaces that mainstream radio would not endorse.

In the case of Serial, it was no more than a larger story that could not fit into the weekly time constraint NPR devotes to This American Life. If you have ever listened to the NPR program, you know that they spotlight two or three stories based on a common theme. Serial was one story that ran through multiple episodes to develop a more detailed story complete with cliff hangers, a-ha moments, and intrigue that made the normal formatted hour on the radio seem elementary.

Compare that against the Daily from the Times, or the 202 from the Post. These are newscasts set in a small time table that are used to promote the headlines from the newspapers, giving listeners a brief glance at the daily goings on at the papers. What do you end up with? A wide open format that, seemingly, has no rules.

Which brings me back to the question I opened with at the beginning of this episode, what exactly is this, The BetaFiles? It is a question I will leave to you. I think trying to define it by putting a label on an abstract idea would diminish whatever meaning could be gleaned, if any. Our culture is full of every opinion you can think of, and harbors so many points of view that demand attention, a fact that has led to deeper divisions between neighbors, brothers, sisters, and friends. Here, I want to explore what we can do with these divisions, if bridges can be built.

When I first sat down to write this episode, I immediately went for gun control for this segment. I wanted to talk about the NRA, assault rifles, teachers with guns, etc. But then I realized it would automatically polarize. No matter which side I took, there would be anger, insults of intelligence, patriotism, and questions of strength and masculinity. So I scrapped it and chose this instead.

So what is this? You decide. I can tell you what I want it to be – I want it to be a chuckle, a giggle, a smirk. I also want it to be neutral ground where we can laugh at ourselves. We don’t laugh at ourselves any more. We’ve become too serious, too dogmatic in what we decide to defend. Polarization, history teaches, creates a dominant thought that rules and oppresses everyone. We need to get away from this road we are hurtling down so rapidly. So I ask that you join me, once a week, in this space. It’s not a safe space, its not a dark space, its not a left or right space. It’s that space we have overlooked for too long now where we forget being politically correct, religiously fanatical, and realize that our feelings are our feelings, not everyone else’s. Call it what ever you want, I just ask that you come back and listen again.

And that’s the show for this week. Next week, we’ll have another fun look at the headlines from the week, Dr J will join me in discussing the southern myth and William Faulkner, and so much more. For Dr J, I am The Barbour, thank you for coming by. Make it a great day, and always remember, as long as the sun rises there is opportunity.

This has been the Beta Files