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MESSIng with FC Catalonia

Spain is experiencing a Brexit-lite moment these days. And the aggressive tactics that prevented massive amounts of voters from casting their ballots in Catalonia that, according to early polls, would’ve very likely led to Catalonia declaring its independence from Spain earlier this month, didn’t help matters.

Catalonia’s vice-president has said that the Spanish government has given them “no choice” but declare independence.
–Caroline Mortimer, Independent UK

News of bitter conflict between Spain and one of its own regions (for now) Catalonia instantly brought to mind a 60 Minutes interview about FC Barcelona from a few years ago. Please scroll the timeline to 12:21 for the interview portion concerning the long existing divide between Spain and Catalonia.

As the interview in the 60 Minutes piece reveals, the rift between Spain and FC Barcelona’s home in Catalonia is not new and has been peacefully subdued for years and years through passive-aggressive tension. Not anymore. The time to get off the fence has finally arrived. The future outcome between these two Spanish forces is unknown at this point, but there are serious divides between Spain and its independent-minded region. The consequences, positive and negative, for the Catalan people are, and potentially will be, far-reaching and lasting in a variety of ways. These critical issues will continue to be highlighted and discussed in the coming days and weeks as this battle royale rages on. However, again, what’s fascinating is that soccer football has a place at the table in this evolving debate.

If Catalonia successfully becomes an independent nation and actually has its seat at the UN, then what league does FC Barcelona play?

Technically, FC Barcelona would not be a city in Spain. How would La Liga feel about admitting/re-admitting one of its most historically prolific and profitable clubs? Could, or would, Spain really turn away the cash cow that is FC Barcelona in the Messi era? Would the Spanish government interfere at the highest levels? Would there be a public vote? Could FC Barcelona become football’s first independently floating Notre Dame equivalent? Would the English Premier League, Serie A and Bundesliga bid for FC Barcelona to join their league?

These questions may not be as hypothetical as people may want to think.

Moreover, former FC Barcelona manager and legend Pep Guardiola, born in Catalonia, recently expressed his views to reporters on the Spain vs. Catalonia debate after a Man City match.

“It’s a really sad day for democracy. I thought in the 21st century, those kind of things didn’t happen,” he said.

“Especially, for example, the Catalan parliament is older than the Spanish parliament itself.

“I am really, really sad. The Catalan people just wanted to vote and we want to be listened to and let the people say what they wanted to be [part of Spain or independent].

The EU and its powerful, overarching style of governing may still be mostly intact, but it seems each of its members is passionately and continually expressing its own desire for independence in some form or another, whether it’s from the EU or from itself. Fascinating and transformational times we live in, indeed.

El Clásico in Madrid, Spain should be interesting on May 6, 2018. Something tells me the supporters for each club will be cheering and contesting for more than just a football victory in their high-stakes rivalry game…

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Does Ivy Grow in Florida?

Imagine America’s unidentified future leaders in Skull and Bones sweating in Florida’s stifling humidity before entering their ultra-secretive, windowless tomb to plan their world domination.

No, there’s just something about a secret society in Connecticut that fits better than a secret society in Florida.

Riding a jet ski connected to a trailer through a drive-thru? Sure.

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(Reddit.com)

Driving 15 miles under the speed limit? Yes.

Finding a crocodile in a swimming pool? Well, this could be Florida or Skull and Bones.

Regardless, Yale spokesman Tom Conroy responded to Florida Governor Rick Scott’s playful invitation to move its prestigious university from Connecticut to the Sunshine State. Mr. Conroy expressed appreciation for the offer, but declined with a reference to the school’s three centuries of history as a reason to continue its legacy in the northeast.

While Yale was never going to relocate to Florida, reacting in a polite and humble manner is not the typical response people have when hearing about the elite institution Yale University. Give the Ivy League school credit for that.

The reason for Governor Scott making such a random and unusual request was driven by Florida’s favorable tax structure. While Yale trading New Haven’s famous pizza for NASCAR reads like an absurd joke, money talks and a move of a smaller university from a high-tax state to a state with attractive tax incentives could become a reality in the not-so-distant future.

Consider how many movies you’ve watched recently that have been filmed in Georgia and/or Ohio. That’s the power of a motion picture tax incentive. If state leaders continue to increase spending and raise taxes, Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat” economic actuality will influence larger and larger industries and entities to consider options across state lines and around the world to reevaluate their fiscal health and potential benefits elsewhere.

In a country where the impossible consistently becomes possible, it’s hard to completely rule out such a seemingly unthinkable transfer.

Yale University to Florida? Never.

Florida developing an exclusive, upscale gated community for Yale alumni? That would be an interesting counter-offer…

Big Government’s New Slogan

“…because the American people are too stupid to understand the difference.” 

Believable.

You might be thinking that I meant to write “unbelievable.”

I didn’t.

This statement from one of the chief architects of Obamacare, Jonathan Gruber, makes total sense coming from such a high-minded (yet, ironically close-minded) liberal professor at an elite university where there is diversity in everything except thought and perspective. The phrase above promoting the opposite of policy transparency in writing and selling Obamacare to the public and the Congressional Budget Office as to whether it’s a tax and a major distribution of wealth (yes on both counts) should be the front page headline of the week, except that it was said by a liberal academic, so the major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS) clearly view this as unimportant, not shocking to their own personal beliefs or, since it’s damaging to President Obama and the Democratic Party’s ramming through, lies and shocking incompetence surrounding the ACA, it can’t be reported on or mentioned. In so many ways, the strategic deceit behind the structure of this bill gives credence to the well-supported belief that corruption and purposeful deceptions come naturally with big government.

President Obama’s big government is dependent on big lies (Obamacare, IRS, Benghazi, national surveillance of private citizens, targeting of journalists, Fast and Furious, etc.).

Not only does this fit perfectly into the narrative of how President Obama views his opponents (political and private citizens alike), but it confirms a much larger presumption about the theoretical “experts” that hail from the nation’s top academic institutions and the highest levels of government. Not all of them of course, but generally speaking in today’s divisive atmosphere, yes (FYI – Gruber is a professor at MIT). Liberal academic professors and legislative bureaucrats declare themselves (ever so subtly) as the “geniuses” of society and, therefore, the people are secondary (or possibly worse, we’ll have to wait for the next video) when it comes to intelligence. While Gruber’s intellect (well, “intellect”) clearly stems from a disgustingly insulting, trash-filled and oblivious-to-reality gutter, this blog will not step down to his level. Instead, a broader and positively measured reaction will be presented.

The pompous and incompetent statement (made at least twice, according to a new video) by Professor Gruber underscores a critical distinction between conservative and liberal thinkers. Generally, liberals believe that a powerful and influential centralized government is the best aspect of American society. This is where the power and supposedly real intelligence resides. These “geniuses” are smarter than all of us, so, therefore, we need them (their assumption) to tell us how to live, think and spend. Trust (in public and private institutions) is a valuable and fragile asset and once it’s abused or when those in power insult its customers/constituents, reactions of anger, resentment and distrust towards its leaders are undeniably valid and consequential.

Trust is earned, not given.

Conversely, conservatives tend to believe that a limited government is supreme because the best aspect of American society is the people, along with the competitive, innovative-inspiring dynamic of the marketplace. Americans have always and continue to willfully support and promote the virtues of freedom, liberty and opportunity as enacted by our brave, revolutionary founders. That’s really incredible because it’s been more than two centuries and many generations of people who voluntarily support and defend democracy, freedom and liberty without the government mandating such thoughts on the public. However, if Gruber has his way, perhaps free will and free speech will soon come with its own mandate of predetermined thought as set by himself and other like-minded and likely self-proclaimed “genius” individuals.

Yes, government plays a small, critical role and has had some unmistakable victories, like the decade-long mission to land on the Moon. Remarkable. But the real genius and shining, defining characteristics of the successful American society is deeply rooted in the belief in and actions of its people. This list is literally impossible to compile. And it’s the legislative leaders (and its advisers) who realize this, believe this and proudly promote this that will inspire an inherently motivated, intelligent and savvy population that can and will rise to fix any challenge (including healthcare).

That’s the transparent truth.

The Two Words Politicians Don’t Say

What is the matter with Chris Christie?

He’s not following the current script for public leaders who did something wrong or for those who are connected to someone who did something wrong and it’s making him look quite strange.

He said, “I’m sorry.”

There has been a lot of discussion and debate surrounding “Bridgegate” and whether or not Governor Christie knew of this situation before or while it was occurring and whether or not he has handled the situation correctly. While the final verdict is still out, it does appear (at this point) that the New Jersey governor is telling the truth.

Mistakes were made. He owned up to them. He apologized. He fired his senior staffer who was personally responsible. He wants to work hard to earn back the varying degrees of respect and trust he likely lost with some New Jersey and New York residents, specifically commuters who frequent the George Washington Bridge from the Fort Lee area.

There are many words used to describe Governor Chris Christie, but there is one that nobody has yet mentioned.

That word is anomaly.

In an era when public figures in politics, sports and entertainment are driven solely by winning, profits and personal gains without regard for self-reflection, awareness and/or remorse for bad actions, it’s genuinely refreshing to hear and see a public leader step forward and accept responsibility when a scandal or uncomfortable situation arises. Even when he is not personally culpable, but it involves someone very close to him.

Governor Christie’s press conference was unusual in this sense…sadly.

For where the story stands right now, the governor did the right thing yesterday. It was painful and embarrassing, but it’s what needed to be done for himself and the public. He was transparent and responsible. To summarize one of his statements: If something good or bad happens in New Jersey, it’s on him. Period. He’s in charge.

What difference did his acceptance of a major mistake within his administration and apology for that mistake make?

The American people will let us know.