Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Liars, Cheaters, and Thieves (A Mockery of Democracy)

Working class Republicans confuse the hell out of me. Sure, most may vote red because of social issues (same-sex marriages, abortion, etc.), but those issues typically have no play at the federal level. Instead of voting for someone who, at least, pretends to work on behalf of the proletariat, they fall for the lies and half-truths told by the propagandists and candidates. They truly believe Obama is hellbent on penalizing those who are successful. Lack of proper education and the absence of accountability for what politicians and pundits say are at the root of the problem.

Without a basic understanding of a) how the current tax system works, b) how legislation is passed and enacted, and c) what the limit of power is for each respective branch of government, American voters are at a severe disadvantage. Both parties are guilty of preying upon the less knowledgeable voters, but the GOP seems to have no problem with going the extra mile. By utilizing polarizing rhetoric, unfounded fears (most of which are a throwback to the McCarthy/Cold War era), and blatant deception, the GOP has successfully garnered the support of those they have no interest in benefiting.

By painting their candidates as beacons of Christian morality, and demonizing Liberals, the GOP has created a base that follows blindly. It's not about bettering the nation. It's not about finding sustainable solutions for the future. It's about defeating the Democrats. It's about a "Culture War". The Dems don't just have different viewpoint. They are godless, they are the enemy, and they must be defeated at all cost. Otherwise "Our guns will be taken away", "Our right to practice our faith will disappear",  and "Our freedom to be successful will be taken from us."

While this destructively ignorant and outrageously inaccurate rhetoric is tossed about publicly, backroom deals are made at the expense of their constituents, corporations are allowed to continue their parasitic profiteering, and bankers bleed the nation dry, free from the fear of indictment and retribution. Anyone who talks about regulation is a socialist (which we all know is a four letter word). Anyone who supports equal rights across the board is a heathen. They've capitalized, commercialized, and politicized morality to the point where it is so distorted, it's utterly unrecognizable. Unfortunately, those who fall for this ruse are typically the ones who are living on the cusp of financial ruin.

Libel, slander, vilification, and defamation of character are all prosecutable offenses (at the state level). It's true that first amendment rights create shaky legal ground for bringing perpetrators to justice, but the embarrassment of a public indictment could very well be the thing we need to clean up the landscape of our elections. Using the judicial system to force honesty in campaigns would not only make it more difficult for candidates to rely on inflammatory attack ads, but would bring our elections back to policy rather than politics. This would create a more informed electorate, and be beneficial to American growth and prosperity.

If you can't scream "fire" in a crowded theatre, why would you be able to lie your way into office? The ramifications of the latter are not only more numerable, but are more serious. Due to foreign and economic policy, billions of people our forced to deal with the outcome of our corrupt system. Something needs to change, and it begins with holding our elected officials and media accountable.

(Also, if you don't understand the current political environment, this guy puts it in laymen's term. Beware, what follows is filled with explicit language, but it certainly gets the point across. For those of you who are a little behind the sardonic curve, it's satire.)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hypocrisy In The Right

The more I hear my peers demonize Americans who need any sort of government assistance, the more I realize how warped their world view truly is. The bulk of the antiwelfare rants stem from Conservative Christians. Frequently, I wonder whether they see the blatant irony/hypocrisy. How can a party dedicated to "protecting Christian values" care so little about the plight of the poor?

Though I've been an atheist for quite some time, I was brought up with the Christian faith (Catholicism), which gave me a decent amount of biblical knowledge. My own quest for spirituality took that knowledge to another level. Throughout the bible (and various other religious texts), there are hundreds of verses about taking care of the weak, the hungry, and the poor. Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't believe that, at any point, it says, "Help the poor, unless your taxes go up because of it."

The majority of people who are food stamp recipients are not abusing the system in anyway. They simply need temporary assistance because of a crumbling economy, which, in an interesting twist, was caused by the very people who claim to protect Christian values, yet left the American working class hanging. It astounds me to no end. People in need have been demonized by those whose faith's main tenant is "love thy neighbor." It's the same with the pro-life/pro-choice argument. It never fails to make me laugh when people condemn abortion only to praise warfare and the death penalty a few moments later.

Perhaps their perception of the world has been distorted by a lifetime of comfort and security. Growing up without suffering has eliminated the possibility for compassionate behavior. Without knowing how hard life is for the majority of the country, they come to believe that everyone has it as easy as the affluent white protestant community. This leads to defamation of the unemployed, the homeless, the impoverished and oppressed.

It's apparent how these people will vote in the coming election. There's no use discussing policy with them. A rational person can see the hypocrisy in their beliefs. These are not rational people. Unlike those they persecute, these far-right, Christian warriors are a detriment to our society. Not because of their faith, but because of how they use it to oppress.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Oh, Romney...

Romney is definitely having a rough week. After being publicly outed by the Obama Administration for his extremely misleading (and factually inaccurate) attack ads, the first leg of his "Charm the World" tour landed flat on its face. Insultingly ignorant, he paraded about, leaving a slew of offended British diplomats in his wake. By forgetting names and criticizing the London Olympics, he displayed a stunning lack of the finesse necessary to conduct foreign affairs. As good as that will make Obama look in the months leading up to the election, this also motivates me to take part in the campaign.

Backed by the deep pockets of big business, war-hawks, and right-wing fundamentalist PAC's of all sorts, Romney is a viable candidate. The polls show candidates locked in a neck-and-neck race. Between the money and the right-wing's ability to twist and manipulate the vote,  Romney actually stands a chance at winning this election. This terrifies me.

Touting reinstatement of failed Bush-era economic policies, aggressive military tactics, and a low opinion of those who make up the working class, a Romney presidency would mean four to eight years of steady, and possibly, rapid decline. The tax loopholes, from which he benefits, are the same ones that are aiding in the deterioration of the American middle-class. He has adopted the opinions of his handlers, who happen to be Cold War era, warmongering, fat cats with a tendency to make a profit off of war, as well as at the expense (see what I did there?) of the consumer. With Romney at the helm, another war seems likely, if not inevitable.

Is Obama a decent alternative? I don't know. In his first term, he met opposition at every turn. His ideas were big. His plans were long-term transformational pieces of legislation. All of this is admirable. His list of accomplishments versus failures seems to balance out. In recent months, on issues like gun control and equal rights for homosexuals, he has started to jump into the fray, rather than letting the dust settle. Perhaps if granted another four years, this aggressive demeanor will take root and thrive.

There's no doubt in my mind that Obama is the candidate that is best (at the moment) for America. Especially after seeing Romney's inability to conduct matters in a professional, non-offensive manner. Left to his own devices, I am sure he would be harmless, but he seems to be another Bush. Another puppet maneuvered to enact neo-con policy. That is a dangerous person to hold office in such volatile times.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Random Presidential Race Rant (Casting In With...)

Hip-hop on the speakers, pundits on the tv. It's times like this that my brain seems to take off to explore every tangent. Thanks to my grandfather, it frequently stumbles upon some political event, and languishes in the event's absurdity.  The persnickety campaign coverage, with its Escher-like logic, never fails to leave me flabbergasted. The talking heads love taking a ten-word statement and spinning an entire, and usually inaccurate, narrative. With sensationalist muck-raking and deceitful pundits spewing blatant propaganda (both sides are just as guilty of this, but in completely different ways), the media has become a cesspool of amateurism, half-truths, and shaky ethics. Still, I stay tuned in, but, always, I wonder why. Perhaps I'm a masochist.

In respect to the on-going presidential race, I've already decided which candidate will get my vote. Obama's first term left me with mixed feelings. He's had a start-and-stall presidency, thus far. When he took office, I was hopeful. I truly believed that he would follow through with his promise of change, but faced with the "just say no" policy adopted by house and senate Republicans, and the utter lack of cohesion amongst Democrats in congress, most of his more promising initiatives fell flat on the floor (pun intended?).

Almost every day, I hear someone refer to Obama as a socialist. If these people read a book every once in a while, or, you know, read a newspaper, they would see the sheer idiocy of that statement. A candidate who willingly takes money from monolithic banking institutions, can not be, in any sense of the word, a socialist. However, the fact that he's been paid for by Goldman Sachs wears on my nerves. Part of why I wanted him in office was I believed he could bring forth some common sense economic measures.

In spite of all his faults, I still cannot bring myself to abstain from voting. Romney is the embodiment of the culture of ignorance that we need to be fighting tooth and nail. Putting a corporate fat cat, with a penchant for switching up his ideology when it benefits him or his backers, in the White House would be disastrous for the American people.

So, with only a bit of reluctance, I will be casting my vote for Obama, out of fear of Romney and hope that Obama will be more aggressive with his initiatives in the future.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Aurora Incident (recant)

After much thought on the subject of the Aurora, CO incident, (and I mean much thought; thanks to the constant, and often repetitive, coverage), I have come to the conclusion that I must recant part of my original post. I believe what I posted was entirely premature. The information hadn't enough time to marinade, thus the lack of a logical perspective. When faced with such an incomprehensible act of violence, one should wait until the shock to wear off before coming to a conclusion. A lesson that I am still learning.

The Aurora Incident is currently the most talked about news story. A promising young man, (he and I are the same age), snaps. He pours months into planning a way to slaughter. Over six-thousand rounds are purchased. The apartment was rigged to blow. What does that to a person? And what really needs to change to insure it doesn't happen again?

I do not agree with my earlier statement. This needs to be politicized, not for campaign related soundbites, but for bringing about change. The fact that a civilian can build an arsenal in a few months with little to no regulation. I have no problems with people owning guns. The 2nd Amendment is an important one, but a mentally-ill individual should not have access to firearms. Easy way to accomplish this, monitor, what, how much, and how often these things (volatile chemicals, amno, firearms, anything that's for people hunting rather than home defence) are purchased and by whom. It's not a violation of constitutional rights; it's a safeguard against losing them.

Education concerning mental illness is severely lacking, and mental health problems carry a negative stigma because of it. You aren't sick; you're crazy, and that isn't the case at all. The human brain is soaked in a soup of chemicals that affect every facet of your life. Everything from trauma to biology can throw this cocktail out of whack, causing incredibly difficult challenges, and impossible if you don't have the support group. The current attitude towards mental health possibles makes people shy away from seeking help. A lack of affordable health care, and federal mental heath programs for low-income citizens is part of the problem as well. The unemployed and desperate, the ones who need the most help, are left to fester. Their problems mutate, gestate and give birth to monsters. Maybe not on this scale, but abusive behavior, addiction, and crime are all detriments to our species, and our products of a desperate, angry, hopeless society we are in the process of building.

This should be a lesson to us. We are human. We learn by being forced to extremes. We should all be fighting to squeeze the good out of this terrible event. Politicizing means talking about the issues, educating others, writing to legislatures, canvassing, voting, and, if it comes to it, protesting. Letting this opportunity pass, is not an option. If we don't seize this, it will only get worse, and no one wants that.

(This was brought on by both comments and talking to a few other people about it.)

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Sickening Act of Inhumanity.

A tragic event took place in Aurora, Colorado last night during a midnight screening of the latest Batman flick. A lone gunman entered a packed theatre, and fired indiscriminately into the crowd, killing twelve and injuring fifty (including a three-month-old baby). In less than a week, three mass shootings have taken place. One was at a house party in Toronto, where gun-related violence is typically rare, and another in an Alabama bar.

Now, I may be wrong (and correct me if this is the case), but I feel as if our society has grown more violent over the last decade. While the US Census department shows a downward trend in violent crime, I don't feel these statistics accurately portray the reality of our situation. Violent crime in the US may be declining in numbers, but in brutality, absurdity, and sheer brazenness of the perpatrators, these abominable acts seem to progressively worsen.

We live in a state of perpetual paranoia. The media highlights these atrocities. From terrorism to rape, we are barraged by a steady stream of news stories detailing our own inhumanity. Amidst the terrors of wrought by the darker side our species, we desperately search for places to lay the blame. Are video games that allow us to act out violent fantasies to blame? Or is Hollywood at fault for glorifying violence? As a society, have we been desensitized to the point where a larger segment of our populace views murder as a lesser crime? It would be easier if these questions were at all answerable, but they aren't. There is no clear source of blame. There is no real reason.

The failing economy has created diseased culture of undirected anger, which has festered and bred a cesspool of ignorance, hatred, and violence. While most Americans struggle to make ends meet, there are those of us who have been pushed to mental limits far beyond those typically visited. Lack of financial stability has poisoned the well of our collective hearts. Desperation is apparent everywhere, and desperate acts are inherently violent (perhaps not always physically, but most definitely always emotionally). Although, this does not justify, rationalize, or excuse these heinous crimes.

I am sure over the next few days this tragedy will be politicized. Heated debates will breakout over gun-control laws. The right will go on the offensive, as will the left. We're in the middle of an election year, and, unfortunately, I've come to expect nothing less. It's disheartening to know that the deaths of the victims will be used as campaign fodder.

Today will be rather morose as I follow the story in hopes of understanding why someone would do something as awful as this. My thoughts go out to the victims. May they find solace in their faith, family, and friends.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Update #003

So, I have about an hour to kill before work. The last seven days, I've been having massive difficulties with all things sleep related. Falling asleep has been nearly impossible. Staying asleep has been entirely impossible. Luckily, I view it as more time to write, read, and finish Battlestar Galactica (which has become my favorite sci-fi ever).

The novel is coming along nicely. It's more work than I ever imagined it would be. Interestingly enough, I've actually enjoyed ever second of it. Even the late nights spent scrutinizing every word have found a special place in my heart. This book is my baby. Raising it is my priority. I cannot wait to see it in print (it will happen, failure is not an option). However, staying on task is difficult. I have quite a few ideas on deck.

One of the ideas will come to fruition soon, and on this very blog, no less. Needing a break from the dark (read: depressing) tone and themes of my novel, I have decided to embark on something a bit more out there. The literary world is sorely lacking original superheroes. It's something I have been thinking about doing for quite sometime. Next Friday will be the d├ębut of an episodic piece following the trials and tribulations of a college student who through a series of bizarre events develops superpowers. Hopefully, it will be enjoyable for everyone involved (that means you, non-existent reader).

In other news, after a vicious internal debate, I have decided to nix the Song of the Day portion of the blog. Instead, every Wednesday, I will be showcasing an Album of the Week. Every week, I will select an album (both new and old), and write a brief song-by-song review. My aim is to move away from the meandering of my earlier posts to something resembling a scenic route to the gas station to buy a pack of smokes.

Which leaves Mondays...

Mondays I will do my very best to summarize the prior week's important news story. Keep in mind, this will not be unbiased in anyway. I have every intention of editorializing, if only to stir up controversy.

This schedule will keep me writing constantly, which is fine by me, and I'm sure that throughout the week I will post rants, film reviews, and other random shit.

To those out there who actually check this shit from time to time, thank you. If you see something you like, share it. If you hate it, disagree, or find it offensive, take it to the comments section; I will be happy to tell you how you're wrong.

Well, I need to hop in the shower, so that I may engage in wage slavery. Have a good day.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Update #002

I've been slacking. While I could produce a list of excuses, I won't. Be looking for an overhaul in the next few days. I am going to spend more time focusing on new music, book and film reviews, and a little bit of news. I should have some sort of schedule hammered out in the next few days.

Hang tight until then.