The Worship of Sports in America

Simply put, Americans take sports way too seriously.

How The Middle-Class Got Screwed (Video)

A most simplistic explanation of how the economic problems of the middle-class has become an actual threat to their well-being.

Why I'm Not A Democrat...Or A Republican!

There is a whole lot not to like about either of the 2 major political parties.

Whatever Happened To Saturday Morning Cartoons?

Whatever happened to the Saturday morning cartoons we grew up with? A brief look into how they have become a thing of the past.

ADHD, ODD, And Other Assorted Bull****!

A look into the questionable way we as a nation over-diagnose behavioral "afflictions."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Vote!!

There is an interesting viral video making the rounds among e-mail inboxes of late. A product of CNNBC Video, it is an amusingly entertaining message video that allows individuals to create a customized parody of a day-after-the-election newscast whereby the named receiver of the video will be blamed for one candidate or the other losing the election by a single vote...his/hers. The video is clearly slanted in favor of an Obama victory, but the overall point--sans the partisanship--is that one vote can make a difference, which the 2000 presidential election clearly demonstrated.
This video emphasizes the need for responsible citizens of a democracy to vote and let his and/or her voice be aired (or at least have a right to air their dissatisfaction with the candidate that wins). In America, where the highest voting rate to date was the record 56.7% of the 2000 election, greater participation is vital to the overall foundation of a fair deomocratic system of government. The nation's rate of voter participation lags behind most other industrialized (and even many unindustrialized) nations. Austrialia for example, with its compulsory voting, has a voter participation rate of some 95%. The U.S's voter participation rate lags behind even Russia, with its relatively recent (and questionable) entry into the free election process. And for African-Americans and other minorities, this right is most important considering that brave activists fought and died to obtain secure it; failure to exercise this right would be akin to spitting on their graves.
If you're looking for a few laughs with a dash of a positive message, this video can be obtained at:

http://www.cnnbcvideo.com/taf.shtml?id=14590-2944885-cLLfgzx&nid=BSERKoj89jS0QHmzszhTgDk1NDMzOA--


The personalized version of this video appears like this:



And for pity's sake, use your right to be heard and VOTE!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Survivor: White House Run!

Someone pinch me! Did I miss the television promos of the latest incarnation of Survivor? Survivor…you know the show…the one where contestants resort to trickery, backstabbing, name-calling, and other levels of duplicity in order to win the prize at the end of the season? It seems this particular “reality” TV program is reality…at its most real. My guess is, since I must have obviously not paid attention to those annoying corner graphics that normally distract me as I watch my favorite network television shows, that what I’m watching on television is Survivor: White House Run, or something to that effect.
That’s how I’m seeing the current run for the White House by the two major contending presidential candidates, Senators John McCain and Barack Obama. It seems that anything in the way of mean-and-bread issues that concern Americans of all stripes has taken a backseat to politics as usual. We hear the ridiculous dollar amounts plopped down by the Republican National Committee on Governor Sarah Palin’s wardrobe, how John McCain (sadly) doesn't know how to operate a computer or surf the web. On the other side, we hear questions about Barack Obama’s questionable ties to domestic terrorists, his lack of patriotism for not wearing a flag pin on his lapel, or Senator Joe Biden’s historical faux paux about how FDR would sit down in front of the television set to address the nation during the Great Depression. So much has been made of these issues that they have inevitably degraded into distortions of reality and truth which has come to symbolize Americans’ discontent with electoral politics. The only Saving Grace this time around is the relative novelty of the race’s candidates; the 1st African-American, 1st female (or Gyno-American if you’re into being PC), the oldest American, and the obligatory white male running for the two highest elected spots in the land.
Despite both the novelty of this election, and the promise of civility (from both sides) of an election where issues would be the focus instead of the distractions of mudslinging and opponent degradation, we have witnessed what could be called “civil muckraking;” gutter politics as usual, but with more gentlemanly articulation. I acknowledge this because, compared to 2004 presidential election where Swiftboating attack ads sank John Kerry’s White House bid and the rush to dig up dirt on President Bush helped bury the network career of Dan Rather, we see a more refined level of nastiness, but with the usual political distractions from the issues. It’s too bad that the Survivor series doesn’t require writers…they could take ideas from what’s going on currently.
Is Sarah Palin’s expensive wardrobe really an issue in an arena where image and image building is not only accepted, but necessary to a shallow electorate (Remember the Kennedy-Nixon debate? The 1st televised presidential debate where the tanned and makeup-laden Kennedy looked like a bronze tiger compared to the plain, go it au naturale Nixon). And what about Obama’s supposedly jab at Palin by his use of the time-worn phrase “lipstick on a pig” remark? He could have just as easily used the equally-aged variation, “perfume on a pig.” Either way, unless one is just so partisan, that he or she is just looking for a way to make this rather innocuous statement about Palin, it’s a meaningless barb. Biden’s slip? Nobody’s perfect, especially us historically-challenged Americans. McCain’s lack of computer savvy? He’s 71-years old…is that so usual a condition among that particular age group? Obama being a "Socialist?" Well, hard to ignore the recent nationalization of banks/lending institutions...if that isn't a socialist move, then I don't know what is.
And what about all this talk about “lack of experience?” This particular distraction non-issue deserves special highlighting because to assume that any American lacks experience for public office reeks of the arrogance of the political class--career politicians who tout the honor in being "public servants." If we truly are The People that the Constitution states that we are, then we are own potential representatives too. And our country's history is full of examples of our representatives coming from among ordinary people, such as Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, who successfully launched a campaign for Congress, as was elected on a platform of gun control after her husband was killed in 1993 by an armed man on a New York subway. And lest we forget that an entire myth of legendary proportions was built around a certain rail-splitter from Illinois who eventually became one of the most honored U.S. presidents during this country’s most crisis-ridden period. Finally, the Founding Fathers had no experience in cobbling together the legal foundation of a country, but that didn't stop them…and most of them were home-schooled, lacking the formal education, political office experience, and 200+ years of history as a reference that both Obama or Palin has as advantages. As with most elections--sadly--innuendo, negative aspersions, interpretations of an opponent's intents that border on conspiracy theory, and outright lies have become integral components of the process. However, these shady actions are poor substitutes for "issues" by [the] candidates, or of "reasoning" by the so-called "enlightened electorate." And this latter non-issue is among the most irrelevant of the distractions of the current campaign. To believe that only the "experienced" can be our logical representatives is analogous to the pre-Reformation Catholic Church's doctrine of the "necessity" of an intercessor (e.g., priest) to represent us or legislate on our behalf before the "God" of public servitude.
The fact that these distractions are brought to us by nearly every television network is what blurs the line between reality and “reality TV.” Backstabbing, name-calling, character assassination and outright lying may make for questionable entertainment, but as a basis of picking the leader of our nation and the Free World? Looking at things from a Big Picture perspective, I can’t say that I blame the candidates for these types of engagements…if We The People would learn to distinguish between TV and tv, and stop caring so much about the smoke-and-mirrors of show over the life-and-death issues of substance, maybe people like me wouldn’t have such a hard time telling the difference what we watch and what I’m watching. Maybe then, we could force our representatives to address issues such as this current crisis economy and external threats (not perceived threats). Because as it stands right now, we're all playing Survivor.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sarah Palin & The "Great" Debate


Well, it’s the morning after the 1st and only Joe Biden-Sarah Palin vice-presidential debate, and like many political pundits—both professional and amateur alike—I was almost spasmodic with eager anticipation of the expected verbal sparring match, what amounted to a high-profile under card to the Obama-McCain main bout.
Like many others interested in the realm of the political, I watched Palin’s acceptance speech at this year’s Republican Convention, and took note of how, in the following days, electrified McCain supporters and Republican-leaning fence-sitters…albeit briefly.
After basking in the glow of her convention speech and the resulting novelty of her candidacy, the Alaskan governor made the rounds on the television evening news interview circuit, grilled first by Charles Gibson of ABC, and then by CBS’s Katie Couric. To say the least, her performances during these interviews made her look less than stellar. With Gibson, she dances around the question of what she thought about the Bush Administration’s policy of pre-emptive military action in protecting America; her lack of knowledge on the subject was obvious. While with Couric, she looked more like Dick Van Dyke’s old television character of Rob Petrie—answering questions with almost comedic ramblings and stumbling over her own words.
As I watched, I almost found myself searching for possible answers for her dismal interviews. I was considering everything from whether or not she was merely acting the part of a former blonde dyed brunette (in an attempt to lull her Democratic rivals into believing she was a pushover in the upcoming debate. If this were the case, she had missed her true calling as an actress), to whether or not her deer-in-the-headlights appearance was some sort of karma coming back to haunt her, payback for killing all the moose with her hunting rifle (as her supporters often like to tout). Needless to say, she was considered the underdog in the debate by most who had witnessed her meltdown during her previous interviews.
However, during the debate, Palin (although failing to come across as seasoned and knowledgeable as her rival) managed to somewhat hold her own, even if was by way of answering moderator questions with slogans (e.g., “Drill, baby, drill”) and canned rhetoric that adhered to the party line (withdrawing from Iraq was tantamount to America “Waving the white flag of surrender.”). It was clear that she had had some decent coaching by McCain’s staff.
Between Biden and Palin’s almost exclusive ping-pong pandering to the Middle Class voter (in typical high-profile political fashion, the rich were made to have the ethics Simon Legree, while the poor were not even mentioned), Palin’s strategy appeared to be one of talking to the audience rather than answering moderator Gwen Ifill’s questions directly. In fact, she sounded more like she was on a presidential stump rather than directly answering questions in a formal give-and-take (to be fair, Biden did some dancing around questions too). This tactic is sure to go over well with voters already committed and looking for “confirmation,” or to those who vote their passions as opposed to the merits of the issues at hand.
However, and much to her credit, she did managed to interject the need for personal responsibility as a factor in cleaning up the current crisis in the lending industry. When asked “who was responsible for the current subprime mortgage situation,” she cautioned viewers against “living outside our means” (I personally believe that too many Americans do not take personal responsibility into account in policy).
Biden, according to preliminary polls out this morning, appeared by most to seem more presidential, more in command of the issues. However, there were points of order for him that Palin (probably because she is not as skilled a debater or as seasoned as Biden) decided not to take advantage of, such as his voting for the bankruptcy reforms of 2 years ago, and Obama’s vote against the same policy; Ifill seemed more committed to pressing Biden on this point than Palin (a point I personally would have loved to see him try to defend).
After the smoke of the verbal dust-up cleared, both combatants remained standing, much to my personal dismay; given both my love examining the nuances of political theater and Palin’s own previous dismal performances, I was half-expecting a Lloyd Bentsen-Dan Quayle-era knockout. Although she performed well in this particular forum, her command of the issues as well as her green nature in the hardball world of Washington politics was evident. One of her verbal jabs during one the evening’s exchanges seemed to have reflected this as she tongue-in-cheeked, “I guess I'm not used to the way you all do things in Washington.”