The Worship of Sports in America

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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, November 22, 2012

Too Many Rights Make Wrong

Let’s face it…sometimes, people can be allowed too much freedom. The opportunity to engage in certain behaviors or make certain decisions, just because the law allows us to, does not necessarily mean that that we should do certain things. Freedom of expression should not, and does not mean “anything goes.” Take for example the law in San Francisco. Up until this week, the law in the Golden Gate city allowed public nudity, particularly within the confines of the Castro district, the gay capital of America. But a 6 to 5 ruling by the city’s Board of Supervisors Tuesday ended the practice within the city limits, with the exception of certain street fairs and events. The new city ordinance effectively bans anyone "over the age of 5 from exposing his or her genitals, perineum or anal region" in most public locations. The ban was spurred as a result of the growing number of complaints by citizens of increasing numbers of naked men walking around and/or gathering in public, particularly around the Castro district.
A nude backpacker walks the street of San Francisco last year. Such an act is now illegal. 

Nudists and other opponents of the new ban argue that it infringes on their “rights.” A federal lawsuit has already been filed arguing the proposal infringes on free “speech” and “expression” rights. However, the Board’s actions interjected a bit of sanity and prudence into an otherwise contentious issue in the city. However, the Board’s actions interjected a bit of sanity and prudence into an otherwise contentious issue in the city. The issue is a metaphor for other’s who defend their otherwise questionable practices as a “right.” No one has a total “right” to do as they wish, even if it is legal (or need I remind you that slavery in this country was legal at one time; it didn’t make it right) for the greater good. Some make the argument exposing the human body, even in public is an expression of “body love.” But how selfish is it tout one’s “right” to expose their genitals—men included—in public view of young children? How can anyone with a level cognitive reasoning justify that public nudity should be a “protected right,” when men exposing themselves to women and children is a crime in every municipality in the country?
We now live in a country where every individual whim, no matter how ridiculous, challenges the law as a protected “right.” The National Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), a pedophile advocacy organization of men with a predilection for sexual relations with underage males says their “rights” are “violated. Homosexuals now claim their desires to be married to others of the same sex as a legal ”right” (as opposed to a recognition). Our public schools are teeming with disruptive students with questionable mental and emotional diagnoses (e.g., Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorders, etc.) whose parents say they have a “right” to bring their particular brands of disruptive hells to our classrooms, and interfere with the learning process of other students.  People who live in relatively crime-free areas have the “right” to own insane arsenals of weapons despite no existential threats to their lives or liberties.
We Americans love our “rights,” but are not willing to take note of their results:

-The nation’s divorce rate is higher than any other industrialized nations. 

-We have the highest rates of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity—adult and childhood—than any other industrialized nation. 

-We have the highest rates of childhood poverty of any Western nation. 

-We can also claim the highest rates of teenage pregnancy, murder, and incarceration rates of any advanced nation in the world.

We in America are so obsessed with trying to avoid individual discontent that we find ourselves actually being held hostage by our “rights” to freedoms. Our problem as a nation is that we all want to claim special rights, but not recognize that we have responsibilities as well. And the biggest responsibility we have is to protect not our rights, but common sense.
Everyone cannot be allowed to do what they want.  In order to serve the greater good, some individual rights have to be not only curtailed, but denied. As individuals and representatives of various interests groups, we need to break the delusion that most of us live under that we all have a "right" to do what we want.
We don't allow children to vote. We do not legally recognize the right to drink and drive.  Marijuana is still illegal in most states as well as the federal government.   Let's face it...some of us are not going to be allowed to do what we want.  And that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if we are willing to take our emotions and beliefs out of the driver's seat of our lives and allow reason to pilot our thinking.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Politics, The American Blood Sport

Readers from other countries daily log onto Beyond The Political Spectrum in order to get an insight into the social and political fabric of America…without all of the MSNBC or FOX News-esque ideological spin. And because many foreign visitors to my blog want to know about (either) the social and/or political landscape here in The States, I thought that foreign readers might want to know that we here in America take our politics very seriously. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that after the recent Congressional and presidential election that politics is as much of a blood sport here as soccer is to most of you who live abroad. For example, as you may or may not know, projection polls leading up to the presidential elections indicated that nationally, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama were in a virtual tie, while the president was leading in the so-called “battleground states”… states representing the greatest number of votes based on population.

 Despite the fact that many knew the election was to be a referendum on the economy and the razor edge closeness of most mainstream polls, the ever-so-slight battleground states lead the president had had many mainstream news outlets and pundits slightly favoring Obama to win the election. However, Republican/conservative backers of Romney didn’t want to believe what most traditional polls had projected for the election…polls which routinely adhered to industry polling standards. Much like an undermanned, underpowered soccer team ignoring the experience of a better team and the probably outcome, they ignored mainstream polls because they were reflective of a perceived pro-Obama “bias.”

 Fueled in part by conservative media talking heads cut from the Fox News cloth, many Republicans had their anticipated election victory “validated” by the likes of conservative pollster Scott Rasmussen (who based his polling system on flawed assumptions which gave the most inaccurate of projections). The effect was a glut of notable conservative pre-election day predictions. For example:

UnskewedPolls’ Dean Chambers: 
Romney 311, Obama 227. “Despite the pattern of skewed polls, most of them commissioned by the mainstream media, the overall electoral landscape is looking more and more favorable for Romney.” — Nov. 1, on

Rush Limbaugh: 
“All of my thinking says Romney big. All of my feeling is where my concern is. But my thoughts, my intellectual analysis of this — factoring everything I see plus the polling data — it’s not even close. Three hundred-plus electoral votes for Romney.” — Nov. 5, on his radio show.

Newt Gingrich: 
“I believe the minimum result will be 53-47 Romney, over 300 electoral votes.” – Oct. 25, on Fox News.

Taken together—and despite evidence to pointing to the contrary—Republicans were dealt with an Election Day loss which they never saw coming. This was apparent in the apparent live on-air meltdown of political strategist Karl Rove election night on Fox News as the projections of Obama’s win started to become apparent. Although in Rove’s defense, his being incredulous toward believing the $300 million dollars of the "dark money" his political action committees (American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS) contributed to seeing Obama defeated went for naught would have rendered me just as unhinged. 

In a similar fashion, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who became the largest single political donor in the history of politics had an equal amount of luckless success.

Mr. Adelson donated more than $60 million. But of the eight candidates he supported, none won. That included the Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, who was battered by negative ads financed by Mr. Adelson during the primary before Mr. Adelson switched to become a supporter (See:  "Times Topics: Sheldon Adelson.")

And although Republican-leaning groups outspent Democratic ones by a wide margin, this is not to say that there wasn’t an equal amount of outside money spent on the Democratic side. And although Republican-leaning groups outspent Democratic ones by a wide margin, this is not to say that there wasn’t an equal amount of outside money spent on the Democratic side. Organizations like American Bridges and Priorities USA Action benefitted from large donors whose causes reflect left-of-center issues.

2,100,000 - Irwin Jacobs Founder of chipmaker Qualcomm and former M.I.T. professor.

2,100,000 - Jeffrey Katzenberg Chief executive of Dreamworks Animation.

2,000,000 - Jon Stryker Gay rights advocate and founder of the Arcus Foundation.

1,750,000 - Amy P. Goldman Author; daughter of the late Sol Goldman, a wealthy New York real estate investor.

1,600,000 - Anne Cox Chambers Part owner of Cox Enterprises, the media conglomerate.

1,350,000 - Anne Earhart Investor, Corona del Mar, Calif. Granddaughter of the oil baron J. Paul Getty.
                                                      (Source:  "The Big Democratic ‘Super PAC’ Donors").

Needless to say that this list is hardly exhaustive. However, it showcases how—much like in European soccer—interests groups are willing to go blow-for-blow in influencing election politics in America. In a real sense, these outside moneyed groups would be analogous to the Euro-rich tycoons who own the various teams, and try to exert their influence on the game’s outcome from tournament to tournament.
And much like an occasional European soccer game, this election cycle was marked with its own version of the soccer riot; we call them “presidential primaries.” And this year’s GOP presidential primaries were marked by cut-throat accusations, name-calling, and self-destructive gaffes that opponents pounced on drunker soccer fans rooting for a losing team. And although there were no equally visible Democratic presidential primaries this particular election cycle, we saw the same often raucous atmosphere during the election of year of 2008…particularly between then candidates Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. These pre-election contests to whittle down the party candidates often reveal genuine animosities as well as personality differences between individuals seeking public office, especially at the federal level.
And sometimes, American politics has its occasional bouts of violence and tragedy related to the electoral process, which is usually confined to state and local contests (such as the 2001 murder a DeKalb County, Georgia Sheriff-elect by the former sheriff of the county). But this year’s presidential elections, as a result of the reelection of the nation’s first black president, have yielded a new level of violent insanity. In Miami, 64-year-old Henry Hamilton had been "very upset about the election results,” according to friends and family members. Prior to the recent presidential elections, Hamilton had allegedly made remarks to the effect that "if Barack gets re-elected, I'm not going to be around.” True to his word, he was found dead November 8th “with the words ‘F--- Obama!’ scrawled on his will and two empty prescription bottles nearby” (See:  "Death of Key West Man Linked to Obama's Reelection").
As if suicide over the election of a particular candidate wasn’t bloody enough, a woman in Phoenix, Arizona was arrested and charged with nearly killing her husband in an incident related to the recent elections. According to news reports, 28-year-old Holly Solomon allegedly chased down her husband with the family car, eventually catching up to him and running him down. The reason? Because he had failed to vote in the presidential elections. According to police, “his wife became angry over his "lack of voter participation" in last Tuesday's presidential election and believed her family would face hardship as a result of Obama winning another term.”(See: "Arizona Woman Runs Down Husband With Car for Not Voting: Police").

And yes like soccer, America politics has its equivalent of hooligans and rowdy roughnecks whose only contribution to the sport is mayhem and deconstructive commotion. You can always tell these individuals by their fear-mongering laced with hyperbolic and exaggerated rhetoric. They usually make unsubstantiated claims, more so than what one would usually expect within the rough-and-tumble world of politics. Claims of “government sanctioned ‘death panels,” how women’ bodies can automatically reject forced pregnancies at the hands of rapists, that abortion is a "Constitutional right," how marijuana “isn’t harmful,” and how climate change “has not been proven” are the give-away signs of these outsiders.
So I say this to those readers who are not Americans that we have more in common with you than you might think. Although we tend to do things in this country a lot differently than they do in the rest of the world, we all play certain games—sometimes to the death—with all the fervor and ferocity of the lower mammals. Where you all play and see games like soccer as being a life-or-death affair, we in this country treat politics with the same level of deathly earnest. And as the 18th century philosopher David Hartley once said, "Nothing reveals Humanity so well as the games it plays."

Gingrich criticizes former Governor Mitt Romney's recent statement regarding President Obama's election win; that his victory was the result of "gifts" he promised America's minorities, women, and college students. Category:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

...And The Winner Is...!

BREAKING NEWS: News Outlets Project President Obama To Be Re-Elected!

Although it's a little early in the evening (just before midnight as I write this), I thought I'd get in on the ground floor and extend a big congratulations to President Barack Obama on his re-election win in today's general election (of course, I had this same posting prepared in the event either candidate won this year's election). So, after almost 2 years, some $6 billion dollars spent, and an even more polarized electorate (there's a chance Mitt Romney might narrowly win the popular vote, while the President will take the Electoral College), the fight is finally over!
So why does this bode ill for a continually (and politically) divided country? Because among the results of this particular election cycle:

-A noticeably  (and painfully lengthy) primary process which reveals intra-party ideological fracturing (in both parties).
-The election of the first openly gay U.S. Senator in Wisconsin (a controversy to be sure).  In addition, it looks like the legalization of same-sex marriage will pass for the first time on statewide initiatives in three states (Maryland and Maine being the most prominent).
-The ideological entrenchment of the two major parties, neither of which will move toward the rational political center.
-A Congress that remains both numerically and politically divided (the Democrats retain control of the Senate, while the Republicans have the House).
-Divisions along ethnic/racial lines (non-white for one candidate, whites mostly for another).
-Political interests ability to stoop to using the legislative process (and marginally logical arguments) to justify suppressing voter turnout (despite there being no statistical proof of fraud).
-Political infighting between cliques.

Beyond any doubt, other divisions will be made apparent in the upcoming days, weeks, and months ahead.  As a result, we shouldn't expect the newly re-elected President to give a Sally Field Academy Award-like speech ("They love me...they really, really love me!"), as his victory--combined with a divided Congress--was hardly a mandate. 
Maybe the realization of how truly divided a country we have become will wake the politicians in Washington (and in state legislatures across the country) to the need to work together, and put the needs of the people ahead of political party, ideology, or personal prejudices.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day...Let's Get Ready To Rumblllllle!

It's Election Day 2012 in America! Vote smart! Vote based on reality (not your beliefs)! Vote Based on reason (not ideology)! Vote!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Personal Costs of Health Care Costs (or, "Tales From The Darkside!")

I have, am, and will always be a firm believer that medicine and access to affordable health care should be a humanitarian endeavor, not a marketable commodity. And if the only way that the enfeebled- and limited-minded can grasp such a concept is by linking it with some ideologically baited term like “socialism,” then so be it. The bottom line is that health care spending under our current sociopolitical regime eats up 17% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (See: “Health-Care Spending to Reach 20% of U.S. Economy by 2021").  Given that President Obama’s championed health care reforms have not fully kicked in—and whose economic effects can only be speculated about at this juncture—it’s hard not to imagine that total health care spending is as unsustainable a spending splurge as that of government spending adding to the national debt (by the way, has anyone noticed that deficit spending by the government only seems to matter when Democrats are in the White House?). But in considering how some Americans continue to demonize the suspected outcomes of the President Obama's signature legislative achievement, it came to my attention that in the midst of all of the red-baiting and diatribes about government infringement of civil liberties (by way of mandates), people were forgetting just why the discourse of reforming health care became an issue in the first place.
I came across a recent piece from NBC’s The Today Show spotlighting a video portrait of the effects the current health care system adversely affects those priced out of the current system.  If you're one of the few Americans who feel that you don't have a stake in reforming the current system of affordable health care affordability, I invite you to watch the following short piece and think again...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Superstorm Sandy...Devestating Everything But The Politics

Most readers to Beyond The Political Spectrum know that I am critical of both political parties for different reasons. I find the Democrats to be too incompetent, and in many ways enabling when it comes to crafting policies are which meant to help those who need it the most…and too liberal when it comes to social policies. Republicans I find to be too self-righteous, too ideologically-rigid and in denial about their ideological double-standards (that’s not to say that Democrats don’t have their own double-standards).
However, I must say that I have gained a newfound respect for Republican New Jersey governor Chris Christie. In the past few days since the destruction wrought on his state as well as other neighboring states in the Northeast, he along with Independent New York mayor Michael Bloomberg put aside political partisanship (Bloomberg to a lesser degree) to address the effects of “superstorm” Sandy on their respective communities.

My respect for them is not based on Christie’s complementing President Obama for his administration’s take-charge approach in securing federal assistance for those residents most affected by the storm. Neither is my newfound respect for Mayor Bloomberg based on his endorsement of President Obama this week for president in next week’s elections. No, my respect of them comes from their pushing aside their ideological beliefs and any animus they might hold toward their ideological foils and engage in political pragmatism rather than political partisanship. Christie has been seen multiple times with Obama since the storm ravaged many areas of his state, coordinating the efforts of recovery…a mere 2 months after giving a keynote speech at the 2012 Republican Convention blasting Obama's policies (See: "Transcript of Chris Christie's speech at the Republican National Convention"). Bloomberg, for his part gave Obama (a lukewarm) endorsement on the strength of the issue of climate change/global warming, and how the phenomenon can adversely affect weather patterns, resulting in the damage we saw this week in the Northeast (See: "New York Mayor Bloomberg endorses Obama"). It truly is a nice change-of-pace to see that there are some in the nation’s political quarters who can not only look, but see beyond partisanship and ideological allegiances to create opportunities for the American people rather than their political parties. But all is not joy in political Mudville.
 The haters have come out to play. The extreme right-wing of the Republican Party has begun slamming both Christie and Bloomberg for their embracing of independent thinking and daring to challenge sacred conservative orthodoxy. Christie has been panned for daring to break ranks and actually cooperating with Obama, even for the sake of securing federal assistance in helping the people of his own state. Perennial microphone meathead Rush Limbaugh has called for listeners on his inexplicably popular radio show “Don’t listen to Governor Christie. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” adding that Christie is “fat and a fool.” Conservative writer Matt Lewis has gone so far as to call Christie “a prop for Obama’s re-election” (See: “Conservatives Bash Christie For Cooperating With Obama Post-Sandy”). Such a practice of intolerance for independent thinking and/or actions among Republicans (and Democrats) is indicative of why our country’s political landscape has become more polarized in recent years that at any time since the Civil War. In extreme cases, extreme right-wing Republicans reserve the moniker of “RINO” (Republican In Name Only) for those who they have a particular disdain for when it comes to adherence and promotion of conservative mantra; Democrats have “DINOs.”
This criticism reflects a major cause of government gridlock we have been witnessing and experiencing in Washington over the last 10 years; individuals putting political party allegiance over initiating effective policy benefitting the American people—and yes, Democrats are guilty of this too. When I think of examples of such political intransigence and intolerance for dissent—even in the interest of the people who elect them—all I can think of are those episodes of “Star Trek” featuring the alien species known as The Borg. Similar to bees, he Borg conquer and take over other species and force them into their collective “hive mind," where they are forced to share thoughts, ideas, and feelings (or lack thereof). The Borg preface every act of assimilation of other species into their collective by prefacing every conquest with the ominous phrase, “We are the Borg. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.”
Superstorm Sandy’s arrival apparently blew apart more than sandy beaches, boardwalks, and homes of New Jersey, New York, and the Northeast. It blew away the camouflage of what’s masking the reason as to why anything resembling cooperation can’t occur among and between the Republican and Democratic Parties.  Extreme right-wing Republicans and left-wing Democrats basing their actions on (their) adherence to ideology and party allegiance rather than pragmatism of need is the problem. Surprisingly, there are still one or two politicians still around who prove that resistance is not futile.