Monday, July 28, 2008

A brief departure from the political ranting - Qantas Flight QF30

I'm sure most of you are aware of the Qantas flight QF30, from London to Melbourne, which was ultimately diverted to Manila, Philippines after a mysterious blast ripped a two meter wide hole in its hull, shortly after a stop in Hong Kong.

My reason for posting about this is two-fold. First, as I work in the aviation industry, this story is of a greater degree of importance to me than it might be for the average person. Second, it's nice to occasionally have a departure from the gloom and doom political rants I normally post. This is a story with a happy ending.

There were 346 passengers and crew aboard flight QF30. Had the pilot not been as skilled as he was, and had the passengers not remained as calm as they did, this story could have had a far worse ending. As it turns out, thanks to the skill of the pilot and the flight crew, the seemingly doomed flight returned to the ground without any reported injuries.

Reports from the passengers and flight crew mention that the oxygen mask deployment system partially malfunctioned, resulting in several masks not being deployed. Some passengers smacked the oxygen mask compartment above their heads, allowing the masks to drop for them. A home video shot by a passenger aboard the flight shows the minimal commotion raised by the worried passengers.

The pilot's skill saved the lives of 346 people. As soon as he realized something was wrong, he dropped altitude from 24,000 feet to 10,000 feet. That is a basic emergency skill any pilot should have, yet seems to be often forgotten in an emergency. That altitude drop saved the lives of everyone aboard that plane. Without it, the aircraft would have likely experienced an explosive decompression, which could have cost many lives, if not a total loss of life and aircraft.

Upon landing, the passengers applauded the pilot, even though they, for the most part, didn't understand how serious the damage was. Passenger reports state that mild panic, nausea, and other adverse physical states occurred among the passengers after disembarkation, and seeing the extent of the damage.

Further inspection since the event has determined the most likely cause for the blast as an onboard oxygen tank, which apparently ruptured near the top valve and ejected itself through the fuselage. Boeing had previously issued a safety inspection notice for the oxygen tanks on the 747-400 series aircraft (of which flight QF30 was a part), but for a different type of tank, according to the Qantas CEO and supervisory maintenance personnel.

What does this mean for the Boeing 747-400 fleet? Nothing yet. Qantas is inspecting all of its 747-400s to try and ensure against similar problems. Should there be a widespread problem found, it might mean that the entire 747-400 fleet, worldwide, is grounded until inspections and repairs can be made. This includes over 1000 aircraft worldwide. If a common problem is identified, it could mean a fleet grounding on par with the recent grounding of all MD-80 planes (with the MD-80, a wiring harness was the problem - it was susceptible to wear from the landing gear retraction and deployment, possibly resulting in a failure of the rear hydraulics which control the tail rudder and flaps). It could ultimately result in a few canceled flights and airport delays - a small price to pay to save potentially thousands of lives.

Boeing stepped up in this case. Now if only we could say the same about TSA.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Liberal; Conservative... Does Anyone Still Know the Difference?

Over the past eight years (and more noticeably, the last four), the terms "liberal" and "conservative" have been thrown around more as insults, and less as acknowledgments of political beliefs and affiliation. I've long wondered in this day of "neo-conservatives" trashing "neo-liberals", and ordinary conservatives and liberals being left (or, more commonly, forced) out of the fray, if anyone really knows what the terms still mean.


lib·er·al /ˈlɪbərəl, ˈlɪbrəl/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[lib-er-uhl, lib-ruhl] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation

  • 1. favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.
  • 2. (often initial capital letter) noting or pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform.
  • 3. of, pertaining to, based on, or advocating liberalism.
  • 4. favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, esp. as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
  • 5. favoring or permitting freedom of action, esp. with respect to matters of personal belief or expression: a liberal policy toward dissident artists and writers.
  • 6. of or pertaining to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies.
  • 7. free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant: a liberal attitude toward foreigners.
  • 8. open-minded or tolerant, esp. free of or not bound by traditional or conventional ideas, values, etc.
  • 9. characterized by generosity and willingness to give in large amounts: a liberal donor.
  • 10. given freely or abundantly; generous: a liberal donation.
  • 11. not strict or rigorous; free; not literal: a liberal interpretation of a rule.
  • 12. of, pertaining to, or based on the liberal arts.
  • 13. of, pertaining to, or befitting a freeman.
  • 14. a person of liberal principles or views, esp. in politics or religion.
  • 15. (often initial capital letter) a member of a liberal party in politics, esp. of the Liberal party in Great Britain.

con·serv·a·tive /kənˈsɜrvətɪv/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[kuhn-sur-vuh-tiv] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation

  • 1. disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
  • 2. cautiously moderate or purposefully low: a conservative estimate.
  • 3. traditional in style or manner; avoiding novelty or showiness: conservative suit.
  • 4. (often initial capital letter) of or pertaining to the Conservative party.
  • 5. (initial capital letter) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Conservative Jews or Conservative Judaism.
  • 6. having the power or tendency to conserve; preservative.
  • 7. Mathematics. (of a vector or vector function) having curl equal to zero; irrotational; lamellar.
  • 8. a person who is conservative in principles, actions, habits, etc.
  • 9. a supporter of conservative political policies.
  • 10. (initial capital letter) a member of a conservative political party, esp. the Conservative party in Great Britain.
  • 11. a preservative.

From Wikipedia:

Neoconservatism is a political philosophy that emerged in the United States from the rejection of the social liberalism, moral relativism, and New Left counterculture of the 1960s. It influenced the presidential administrations of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, representing a realignment in American politics, and the defection of some liberals to the right of the political spectrum; hence the term, which refers to being 'new' conservatives. Neoconservatism emphasizes foreign policy as the paramount responsibility of government, maintaining that America's role as the world's sole superpower is indispensable to establishing and maintaining global order.

Neoliberalism is a label for economic liberalism. Neoliberalism refers to a historically-specific reemergence of economic liberalism's influence among economic scholars and policy-makers during the 1970s and through at least the late-1990s, and possibly into the present (its continuity is a matter of dispute). This term also refers to a political movement in which prominent members of the American left (such as Michael Kinsley, Robert Kaus, Mickey Kaus, and Randall Rothenberg) embraced some conservative positions such as anti-unionism, free market economics, and welfare reform. This term should not be confused with new liberalism.

Social liberalism, also called new liberalism (as it was originally termed), radical liberalism, modern liberalism, or in North America and the United Kingdom simply liberalism, is a branch of liberalism which contends that society must protect liberty and opportunity for all citizens and that the state may have a role on this. For social liberals the lack of education, health, or employment is seen as a major threat to the freedom of state compulsion and coercion. Like other liberals, social liberals support (with qualifications) free markets, private entrepreneurship and a small state. Social liberalism may also refer, as it usually does in the media, to support for among other things educational reform, civil rights, human rights and civil liberties, particularly in opposition to traditional values and beliefs. In this second sense, the liberal equivalent of social conservatism, one may therefore be socially liberal but economically conservative as in neo-liberalism, but in the first sense social liberalism clearly deals with the economic as well as social dimension of politics. Social liberals support a mixed economy of mainly private enterprise with some state provided, guaranteed or regulated public services. For example, some social liberals defend obligatory universal health insurance, with the state paying a basic health insurance to the most poor of the society. Like all liberals, social liberals believe in individual freedom as a central concept. In the process, they expect legitimate governments to provide a basic level of welfare or workfare, health and education, supported by taxation, intending to secure economic opportunities for all, enable the best use of the talents of the population, prevent revolution, or simply for the perceived public good, and they accept some restrictions in economic affairs, such as anti-trust laws to combat economic monopolies and regulatory bodies or minimum wage laws. Moreover, the accumulation of wealth by a small group is seen as the consolidation of power within a small faction of society and, therefore, seen as a threat to liberty.

Now that you have the definitions put forth for you, read and understand.

I did find it amusing that I had to resort to Wikipedia for definitions of "Neoconservative", "Neoliberal", and "Social Liberalism", as these terms, as popular as they are as buzzwords, have not yet been actually added to the official and accepted English lexicon.

The most ironic part of these definitions, particularly in the buzzwords that are so casually tossed around, is that neither the Democrat or Republican parties (or their candidates for the 2008 election) actually follow these definitions either standard, or neo-, even in some fundamental regards.

Given the first definition of Conservative, not a single publicly recognizable Republican actually adheres to that definition. They're changing public policy at an alarming rate - particularly in stripping away our traditional freedoms as Americans. The Republicans are using the government as a force to exert more power over the public, not less, as the definition of "conservative" may suggest.

On the other hand, the Democrats preach a policy that is almost exactly the same as presents as a liberal policy, yet in reality, they've sided more often than not with the fascist policies of the Bush White House. The most recent example is the passing of the FISA reform bill, which essentially removes our fourth Amendment right to privacy, and gives the telecoms immunity for their previous illegal actions. Not exactly a liberal standpoint, huh?

This political fuzziness in understanding of the definitions is only amplified when put into the hands of the average American, who often doesn't understand the nuances of politics, and many accept the evening news as the gospel for national and world events.

For instance, I am a liberal leaning conservative (meaning that I feel that some social programs would greatly benefit the people of this nation, but refuse to give up my fundamental rights as outlined in the Constitution). I support both the right to bear arms and a woman's right to choose. I support both public health care, and an abolition of the DEA. I support worrying about our own country and people first, and playing world police only after we've stabilized our home life. I support decreased Federal spending through decreased Federal authority. Many of my views are textbook conservative, yet I am often labeled as a liberal, because I want to pull out of Iraq (our number one drain on the economy) and ensure that I and my fellow US citizens can live fruitful and healthy lives, free from government control and fabricated inflation.

Oddly enough, I've also been called a "liberal asshole" because of my desire to legalize all drugs, disband the DEA, and instead publicly fund drug education and rehabilitation programs to combat the drug problem. Too many people confuse this with a liberal viewpoint. It is, in fact, quite conservative. Conservatives, traditionally, are in favor of reduced Federal spending. In matters of spending, my proposition to eliminate the DEA (which is a semi-military organization now - complete with absurd military budgets), and instead try and provide drug education and rehabilitation, while all drugs are legal, would only cost a fraction (roughly 10% of the current DEA budget) of what we're spending now. Yup... conservation.. conserving cash. That saved money would be far better spent on education, medical services, housing, food, alternative energies, or better yet, given back to the taxpayers in the form of reduced taxes. This is a highly conservative proposal, yet I'm still labeled a liberal for stating it.

Bottom line is this: the Republicans are more liberal than ever. The liberals have become the same as the so-called conservatives, and it really doesn't matter if you vote Republican or Democrat - you're still voting against the core values of either party.

We as Americans, have lost sight of the real issue at stake here: our own freedom; the preservation of our Constitution. Instead, on both sides of the issue, we continue to support any action, no matter how absurd, in the name of national security.

Ben Franklin said it best in one of my favorite quotes ever: "Those who are willing to give up fundamental freedoms for temporary security deserve neither."

Educate yourselves. I cannot stress that point enough. This country is quickly turning into a fascist state, and nobody can save it - except you - the average American. Get out there and vote. Educate yourselves on the issues at large, and vote for the best choice for America. Vote to salvage our Constitution. Vote to remove absolute power from the hands of the government. Vote to ensure yourself the life you deserve to lead. Vote for America.

From the Wall Street Journal: "What Bush and Batman Have In Common" WTF?

A cry for help goes out from a city beleaguered by violence and fear: A beam of light flashed into the night sky, the dark symbol of a bat projected onto the surface of the racing clouds . . .

Oh, wait a minute. That's not a bat, actually. In fact, when you trace the outline with your finger, it looks kind of like . . . a "W."

Thus begins the opinion article in the Wall Street Journal, by Andrew Klavan.

I think I summed up the horrible misrepresentations in this article quite nicely with my response to it on the WSJ website:

My first reaction of the comparison of Bush's administration to the fictional characters of The Dark Knight and 300 was an outright insinuation that the American public is too stupid to understand politics unless they're equated to fictional characters. That, in and of itself, is rather insulting.

That aside, however, if Mr. Klavan wants to take that route, I'll play along. The most glaring error in the comparison is the justification for the actions of the main characters of the films. In The Dark Knight, Batman is after the Joker because he is the man that murdered his parents in cold blood. He is acting on emotion, not logic. Even still, his actions are justified, because it is a known fact that the Joker is responsible for the murders. Bush attacked Iraq because... refresh my memory... they had WMDs. Later, the tale of Iraqi WMDs was proven to be unequivocally false, and is part of the reason that impeachment hearings are being pursued against Bush. Batman was just in his response - he never lies to justify himself. Bush is just a liar, trying to finish his fathers war through lies, treachery and deceit of the American people.

In 300, the soldiers from Sparta were defending themselves against a major attack on their country - one potentially devastating enough to threaten their sovereignty. No such event has happened in the US since Pearl Harbor. As horrific as 9/11 was, it was an event that could have been prevented, and never has or will threaten the sovereignty of the United States. Once again, in the fictional story, the act is just. As a brief final note on 300, it was a select group protecting their own city-state against attack, not one nation attacking another without just cause.

Your arguments in this article are highly flawed, and only serve to demonstrate the same misconceptions and irrationalities that have forced this country into an era of fear-mongering, racism, and hatred.

If you really want a good work of fiction to demonstrate what the Bush administration has done for this country, might I recommend Orwell's 1984? The Bush Administration is far closer to INGSOC than they are to Batman.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Top 5 things to worry about concerning the government

We all have our concerns, politically speaking. In a current political climate where governmental issues are hitting home, and hitting hard, people are more inclined to have concerns about what's really going on at a Federal level. Here are the top five major political / governmental concerns people should have.

5. The election process: Since the advent of television, the election process has fallen further and further into the realm of farce than the fair and just "best person for the job" process it was intended to be. Instead of US citizens being elected to public office, we're seeing ever-increasing numbers of career politicians trying to lie, cheat, steal, and slander their way to the top. Elections are no longer about the best person for the job, but rather are a popularity contest, based on who can inspire the most people with their speeches and lies, who can slander their opponents the best, and who voters would prefer to have a beer with. With the dumbing down of America (and I won't just say it's been only in recent years - the vast majority of people my own age (I'm in my early 30s) and older that I meet are just as "dumb" as many view the children of today.

For too many years, Americans have had things good. This has created a climate of complacency. In more recent years, we've experienced such economic and political milestones such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the cheapest oil prices ever, the lowest unemployment rates this country has ever seen, the highest salaries this country has ever seen... the list goes on. With the exception of the oil shortage is the 1970s (which, as it turns out, was a manufactured shortage - but that's a different blog post for a different time), the US, since the end of WWII, has truly been the most powerful economic power in the world. The US also helped found the UN, providing for a global system of law, and helping to institute a degree of world peace.

All of that has created a climate of complacency among American voters. Instead of voting for the candidate that will truly improve this great country, voters have been more inclined to vote for the one they relate to the most (largely swayed by biased media sources), while those that really could improve the nation end up falling by the wayside. It's only been in the last year and a half, since campaigning for the upcoming November election started, that there's been a slight shift back to voting for the best person for the job. Even still, with the various reports of voter fraud, tampering with voting machines, attempting to keep voters from actually voting (particularly common with minority groups and the elderly), there's little hope this this upcoming election will truly be fair.

4. Lack of trust in the government: Americans don't trust our government anymore. According to a Gallup poll, published on September 26, 2007, American trust in the government is nearing its lowest point since the Watergate scandal, with, on average, less than half of Americans being able to trust the government overall. The only portion of the government that Americans still support is the Judicial Branch, with 69% of Americans stating "a great deal or fair amount of trust" in the Judicial Branch.

I may be completely off-base here, but shouldn't Americans be able to trust a government that truly was "by the people, for the people"? Certainly, there would always be dissenters, but they would be in a small minority. Our government is supposed to represent and act in the interest of the majority of Americans, which, logically, would say Americans should be able to trust the government. With figures as low as they were nearly a year ago (and likely lower now), does that speak of a government that has its citizens at its heart?

3. Political scandals and illegal activity: With all of the evidence and hard fact coming to light about the illegal actions taken by members of our own government (such as the recent ACLU lawsuits against the FISA reforms), shouldn't the average American be screaming for justice? I'm not talking about Elliott Spitzer hiring a high priced call girl. I'm not talking about Bill Clinton getting fellatio from an intern. Issues such as those are private matters, only of concern to the men and their respective wives. I'm talking about blatant disregard for the laws that have governed this country for over two centuries. Why are Kucinich's attempts to impeach Bush not getting more press (more on this further down the list)? Why does nobody seem to care (or even know, for that matter) that McCain was part of the Keating Five - a group of Senators that tried to interfere with the investigation of the corrupt Charles Keating, former CEO of Lincoln Savings, in a scandal that exploded the Savings and Loan Crisis in 1989? Now he's the likely Republican Nominee for President? With a track record like that, I wouldn't be able to hold my job working at an airport (stringent monthly Federal background checks are a criteria for holding the job - any criminal activity in the past 20 years costs me the job), yet this man has a chance to become President? There's something wrong here.

2. The Economy and the War in Iraq: I've grouped these two together, because I feel that they are very closely related. It's no real secret that the faltering economy is directly related to oil prices. The official story is that oil prices are going up because of increasing world demand and instability in the Middle East. Rising oil prices means it costs more to transport goods and to render services (a construction worker has to get to a job site somehow, typically by car/van/truck, and needs oil to get there - the same goes for various goods transported mostly by truck). The increased transportation costs are passed on to the consumer, who in turn pays more for the same goods he/she has always been buying. When talking about an economy of hundreds of billions of dollars, that translates into a lot of extra money people are spending for the same goods that cost 30% or more less, just a year ago. As people cut their spending to afford necessities such as food and fuel, sales of luxury items, such as electronics, vacations, furniture, housing improvements, etc, drop. The decreased sales in these luxury areas lead to layoffs, which leads to a higher unemployment rate, which leads to the same goods further increasing in price as companies try to stay out of bankruptcy during troubled times. After all of this, the cycle starts over, and starts to snowball. Add in the pressure to use ethanol for fuel (most commonly made from corn, even though there are hundreds of other ways [many of them far more efficient] to make ethanol - this is due to Federal farm subsidies for growing corn), and you have an added burden on food prices, as corn, in one form or another, is used in most of the foods we buy today (as an ingredient, cooking oil, feed source, etc).

So, officially, we can trace the entire recession back to high oil prices, but why have oil prices really become so high? World demand is certainly increasing, but not nearly at the rates that oil prices are. We're also actually increasing our crude oil reserves as rates rise, so that can't be it. It must be the instability in the Middle East then. But wait, we don't get that much oil from the Middle East! According to the Energy Information Administration, The US imports 9.17 million barrels of oil per day on average in 2008 (We use roughly 19.6 million barrels per day, so most of our oil is locally produced). We only get 2.5 million barrels per day from the Middle East (I included Libya in the Middle East because, even though it's not technically part of the Middle East, they face much of the same turmoil as the Middle Eastern nations). That means that only 27% of our crude oil comes from the Middle East (mostly from Saudi Arabia, who is supposed to be a US ally). Canada is our largest oil supplier - I bet you didn't know that (Saudi Arabia is second, and Mexico and Venezuela round out third and fourth, respectively). 27% of our crude oil imports coming from a destabilized region still doesn't account for oil prices increasing as they have. There must be another reason. The only two remaining likely culprits are the oil companies and the military. As we all know, the average US consumer is using about 15-20% less fuel on average than we were this time last year. Sales of fuel efficient cars are through the roof, and gas-guzzling SUVs are essentially worthless now. Who is the real culprit? The US Military, as of 2006, uses roughly 1% of all oil consumed in a day in the US. While they are the single largest consumer of oil in the US, that 1% is hardly justification for oil prices jumping as they have.

This only leaves one possible culprit: oil companies. Greedy oil companies and greedy oil producing nations have faked a shortage for increased oil profits before. The oil shortage of the 1970's was completely fabricated by oil companies and oil producing nations looking to get richer. When the American public responded with a national 55 mile per hour speed limit and a deluge of fuel efficient cars, along with a greatly reduced oil consumption, oil prices dropped as those responsible learned that the American public wouldn't stand for it. By the early 1990s, oil prices in the US were the lowest they had ever been, and sales of less fuel efficient cars rose. The 1990s saw the immense popularity of the SUV and a resurgence of muscle cars. It was also an era that gave birth to the ultimate in American indulgence - the Hummer. The original consumer model of the Hummer averaged about 8 miles to the gallon on a good day. But hey, gas was so cheap, who cared? The Hummer quickly rose to become the defining symbol of American excess. Fuel consumption in the US rose quickly, and by the late 1990s, consumption was nearly the highest the US had ever seen.

Apparently, this excessive consumption put an idea into the heads of the oil executives. Prices started slowly rising in 1999 and 2000 - nothing too bold, but significant enough to notice. Then, on September 11, 2001, with the tragic events that cost the lives of 2,974 people, an excuse was born. There's no doubt in anyone's mind that the tragedy of 9/11 was the beginning of the "war on terror", and led into the war in Iraq. Whatever story you believe about the events of that day, everyone can agree it is the tragedy that started the chain of events leading to our current political and economic states in motion. In early 2002, we went to war in Iraq. Oil prices kept creeping up, though there was still no reason for it. Here we are, six years later, and oil prices have nearly quadrupled since the pre-9/11 world. Even with all of the other factors (including the before mentioned causes, as well as the oil rig and refinery destruction from Hurricane Katrina and subsequently from Rita as well) figuring into the rise of oil prices, I could possibly understand $75/barrel, and maybe $2.75/gallon at the pump (and that's even being quite liberal with realistic cost increases), but for us to have oil at over $120/barrel, and a national average well over $4/gallon at the pump, someone's been playing with the numbers.

Bottom line is this: the oil companies are raping you, and using the war in Iraq (among other excuses) as their justification to artificially inflate prices.

1. Impeachment of George W. Bush - legitimate or laughable? Back in 1999, the world was witness to the first impeachment trial since Nixon faced impeachment proceedings in 1974. President William Jefferson Clinton was impeached for what? War crimes? High treason? No, nothing so spectacular. He received fellatio from a White House intern, and lied about it under oath. To this day, I'm still at a loss as to why this became a national issue, rather than something President Clinton had to work out with his wife, like any other married couple facing infidelity. President Clinton would have never lied under oath had it not been for a small group of Republican Senators looking for the slightest thing to use to discredit a Democrat. While President Clinton had his shortcomings as a president, he generally did a fairly good job. However, his impeachment hearings made a farce out of the impeachment process. It would forever stain the concept of impeachment.

About a month ago, Representative Dennis Kucinich (D - Ohio) introduced 35 articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush. While the delivery of the articles of impeachment was covered for hours on end on C-Span, the story went virtually unreported in almost every major media outlet in the US. These articles of impeachment included such serious crimes as numerous violations of the Constitution (including the fourth amendment), violations of the Geneva Convention, illegal suspension of Habeas Corpus, violation of Posse Comitatus, and conspiracy to violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965. These charges are just a little more serious than the fellatio/lying that President Clinton was charged with. If you take the time to read the 65 pages of the original articles of impeachment against President Bush, you'll quickly understand that each of the 35 articles of impeachment are quite valid.

Even with all of that, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D - California) took the possibility of impeachment off the table. Why? Something to lose, possibly?

Representative Kucinich was not easily dissuaded, though. At first, he threatened that if his original 35 articles of impeachment were trashed, he'd come back with fifty more. Ultimately, however, he decided that the impeachment was more important than the fight to get the proceedings started, and returned with a single, inclusive, article of impeachment, which was overwhelmingly (238 to 180) voted in favor of sending to a judiciary committee.

Even with this minor victory in Rep. Kucinich's quest to bring justice where justice is due, US media coverage has remained sporadic, at best. It wouldn't be out of line to say that most Americans aren't even aware this is going on. I know my own mother wasn't aware of Rep. Kucinich's actions towards impeachment until I told her. She has since resolved to watch mostly BBC and Sky News for her American and world news, only coming back to the local news stations for local news. European news sources have been following this issue as closely as most Americans follow American Idol. It should also be noted that my mother, while a staunch Republican, voted for Ron Paul in the primaries (favoring his mostly Libertarian views), and is eager to see Bush impeached.

Now, how do the two major political parties in America stand on this (this analysis does not look at the average member of each party, but rather at the core party members, who set the party lines)? The Republicans (which the core party is made up of primarily die-hard neo-conservatives and staunch Bush supporters) are obviously trying to prevent this from happening. In their eyes, George W. Bush can do no wrong, as he is their warrior from God, fighting for ultimate power for the US. (That's a rather dangerous viewpoint, huh?) The Democrats, oddly enough, are rather neutral on the issue. They don't seem to care one way or the other if Bush is actually impeached. Some are even fighting against it, as though they were scared of what might be revealed. There are a few exceptions on the Democrat side however, such as Kucinich and a few other party members supporting impeachment. Obama has made no statements on the issue, for or against, which is troubling, as he's likely to become the next president of the United States, and should be the one to be overwhelmingly fighting to preserve the Constitution and uphold the law.

What sort of chance does the impeachment of George W. Bush have? Honestly, very little. With the makeup of Congress, the political leanings of the Supreme Court Justices, and the lack of media coverage and subsequent ignorance of the majority of the nation regarding this, it's likely that impeachment will slide away quietly before ever coming to fruition. This is a horrific notion for me, as it sends the message to future Presidents that they can get away with anything. In my eyes, the impeachment of President George W. Bush, and more importantly the conviction and punishment of President George W. Bush is an absolute necessity, as it sends the message to other presidential hopefuls that the American public will not stand for a treacherous and treasonous president.

The bottom line is President George W. Bush is a traitor to the United States of America, a war criminal, and has committed acts of such an egregious nature that the only solution is to convict and punish him. It should also be noted here that if an average citizen was charged and convicted of even a single one of Rep. Kucinich's original 35 articles of impeachment, they would be deemed a traitor and sentenced to death.

Americans, your government doesn't want to deal with the issues, and your media doesn't want you to be informed. It is time that we, as Americans, remembered the blood that was spilled in order for us to become a nation free from tyranny. It is time for another revolution. Our government has failed to serve us. It is not only our right, but our duty as Americans, as cited in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence to reclaim control of the government for the people.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Vote Republican! (Video)

Regardless of your political affiliation, This video is rather amusing. Even though it is a piece of left wing propaganda, it still makes a few valid points. I'm sure there's one equally as amusing, with an equal number of valid points floating around out there for the right wingers as well. I just haven't found it yet.

The 2008 Elections - Or "How I learned to vote by studying history."

The November general election is fast approaching here in the US. Two candidates have come out on top, one for each party, as you are all aware. The Republican Nominee is John McCain, war hero and conservative. The Democrat Nominee is Barack Obama, herald of change and liberal. The voting public is divided nearly evenly between these two candidates. The latest Gallup Poll, dated July 20, 2008, has Obama with only a three point lead over McCain. Obama has 45% of the vote, while McCain has 42% of the vote. Those figures only total up to 87% of the vote. What about the other 13%? That remainder is made up of an acceptable margin of error +- 2%, Undecided voters, 5%, and Others 6%.

With McCain constantly illustrating his inability to relate to the modern American (incidents such as his admittance to not being able to use a computer, his apparent desregard (bordering on hatred) for women, not limited to comments towards his wife, but also in the jokes he likes to tell. I should probably also mention his apparent inability to be a leader of any sort, due to his military history. I'll be the last to say that a decorated war hero is unfit to be the Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces, but when said war hero has spent years in enemy detainment camps, and has obviously never fully recovered (see the terms: shellshock, battle fatigue, operational exhaustion, post traumatic stress disorder... all the same condition, just different names), is he really a viable candidate for the "most powerful position in the free world"? During McCain's life, he's suffered from all of these. They are all the same medical condition: an essentially permanent mental disorder, caused by extreme mental and emotional trauma and stress (very common among military veterans). This same disorder is also common in rape and abuse victims, which McCain likes to joke about. Just watch any recent interview or speech by McCain, and you can see the obvious effects of PTSD on the man. Moreover, he has, when he's bothered to actually vote in Congress, sided with George W. Bush on more than 90% of his votes. His presidency would simply be another four years of the exact same thing. We'd lose more of our rights, the women's lib movement would be set back, quite literally, forty years, and race relations would also suffer. I won't even start to go into the negative impact that four more years of the same would have on our economy, world relations, and the number of casualties suffered by our children in uniform overseas (This year, Iraq, next year... where? Iran? Syria? Korea?). I do use the term "children" in this statement, because while there are many people over the age of 21 in the armed forces, along with many in their 30s and 40s, most of our recruits, and the lion's share of low-ranking ground forces (the ones at highest risk) are under the age of 21. They're not even allowed to drink yet, but they are the fastest growing portion of our armed services (not to mention the fastest dying portion).

As for Obama, he has long been seen as an agent of change for the country. He has always scored very highly among the youth and minority demographics (except for Hispanic, but even they are starting to come around). My biggest question for Obama, is what, exactly, is the change your promising? He's run a campaign based on change, but never really stated what that change would be. In all practicality, that change could be to complete fascism. That change could be to complete peace and a restoration of Democracy. That change could be starting WWIII, and destroying 90% of the world's population. Those would all be changes. I'm not sure I like all of the possibilities. Barack Obama is still leading in the presidential race. Younger voters identify with him because he came from a broken home, much like a majority of voters under the age of 30. They also identify with him because, as a man of mixed race, he has likely experienced racism from all sides, and would have a unique view of how to try and quell it. Additionally, even though he is not, and never has been, a Muslim, he's been exposed to the Muslim faith, which may help him in being sympathetic to the issues the Muslim world is facing, particularly in the Middle East. Minority voters, predominately black voters, identify with him through race. He has easily been the most charismatic politician the US has seen since JFK (which is saying a lot, with as charismatic as both Regan and Clinton were). Honestly, up until a few weeks ago, I was even considering voting for him myself. Then the FISA vote happened. Obama had been quoted several times as opposing the FISA Reform Bill, stating that he greatly opposed any sort of legal spying by the government on its own citizens, and he also opposed telecom immunity for past spying. He publicly stated that he'd vote down any FISA reform bill that allowed these illegal and unconstitutional practices to continue. Then, on July 9, 2008 (just five days after our celebration of independence and freedom from tyranny), Barack Obama voted in favor of the FISA reform bill, effectively destroying our 4th Amendment right to privacy. I will not, and cannot (as an American who loves my country and holds the Constitution above all else) vote for someone so willing to help dismantle the Constitution. Obama, in my eyes, revealed his true nature in that vote. He does not care about the people. He only cares about the continued power (to an unconstitutional level) of the Federal Government.

Now, what can we learn from history about all of this?

Well, the history that affects McCain as a candidate is still far fresher in the minds of Americans, as everyone of legal voting age has lived through the history that teaches us the most about McCain - the George Bush presidency. GWB's two terms in office have been fraught with lies, misconceptions, illegal acts, violations of nearly every US and UN treaty and resolution, along with a systematic dismantling of the Constitution. McCain has actually promoted his position in line with GWB's terms in office in order to gain the Neo-conservative votes. All that one needs to do is take a look at McCain's congressional voting record.

The history that affects the potential of Obama's possible presidency is a little more distant to the average voter, really relying on the pre-baby-boomers to have experienced it firsthand.

I'm thinking of a small country in central Europe. The time is 1932. This country was suffering from a horrible recession. Its people were struggling like they never had before. The entire country wanted change - a big change. They also wanted answers - answers to why they had gotten into the mess they were in. There was an election coming up, to place a new leader in January of 1933.

Along comes an unknown candidate; a man with extravagant ideas, and a promise of change. He promised financial wealth. He promised the strength of the nation. He promised answers. His passion and charisma was unmatched in recent years in that country. He easily won the election, and took the seat of Chancellor in January of 1933.

Is this sounding at all familiar to anyone?

As you may have guessed, the unknown politician that took the seat of Chancellor in Germany was Adolf Hitler. We all know what happened after that. (Source for pre-WWII Germany information: The History Place - WWII Timeline.)

The political climate in our country right now is ripe for a modern day Hitler to take power. Countless times have political bloggers labeled George W. Bush as the modern Hitler, but they apparently haven't understood the facts. George W. Bush is more the equivalent of Paul von Hindenburg, Germany's president before Adolph Hitler was named Chancellor, who carried the nation to its worst financial depression ever, and oversaw the creation of a political climate that allowed Hitler into power.

Now, I'm not trying to sound alarmist here, and it's possible that Barack Obama really does have the best interests of the United States at heart. Much of this observation comes from two terms of George W Bush and his apparent need (far exceeding desire) to break down this country and remove our civil liberties, to the point of creating an almost revolutionary level dissent among the average citizens. I first made the above correlation about six months ago, and I tried to dismiss it as paranoia. After Obama's vote on the FISA bill, however, I'm not so sure that it was just paranoia.

Either way, take the above information as you will. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if my speculation ultimately ends up in conservative chain emails as fact.

The fact of the matter is this: Since the start of the campaigning for the 2008 Presidential Election, I've only wanted one thing from a candidate: a promise to disband the unconstitutional and wasteful Department of Homeland Security, and to repeal the equally as unconstitutional and wasteful Patriot Act.

Only one candidate stepped up and promised that publicly: Ron Paul (and he was subsequently all but buried in the mainstream media, and labeled as a fringe lunatic). Every other candidate ignored the issue.

So, after all of this, if you can't vote for McCain, and you can't vote for Obama, who can you vote for?

Well, one of the wonderful things about America (something we haven't lost yet) is the ability to have third party and independent candidates.

Right now, the biggest third party candidate is the Libertarian candidate, Bob Barr. He is just as viable as any other.

Additionally, here's a listing of about 30 or so other third party candidates.

The other major third party is the Green Party (though they haven't grown nearly as much as the Libertarian party), and their nominee is a bold ticket, with a black female candidate both for president and vice president: Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente.

It should also be noted that in the past, the Libertarian and Green parties, both knowing the difficulty of nominating a viable candidate for President, have often bonded together to try and support a single candidate from either party.

Both the Libertarian and Green parties are Constitutionalist parties, and as such are quite compatible in their politics, particularly in this political climate.

Finally, all I ask of any voter, whoever your final vote may be for, is that you research the choices, disregard media hype, and learn the truth for yourself, through facts. An informed voter is truly the only type of voter that has the right to complain.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Big news for Libertarians! (plus why I became a Libertarian)

As a registered Libertarian myself, this is a big thing to have stated in a major news publication:

Time Magazine: Libertarians: a (Not So) Lunatic Fringe

Basically, they talk about Ron Paul, a former Libertarian, switched to Republican for the 2008 election, Bob Barr, the current Libertarian Nominee, and how disgruntled Republicans and Democrats are switching to the Libertarian party, largely citing a feeling that their former party of choice has failed them. They foresee Libertarians as a possible deciding factor in the November General Election, and possibly growing so much in the next few years, as to be a viable third party.

Ultimately, what I see the Libertarian Party becoming, speaking as a mostly conservative, but liberal-leaning Libertarian, is a party that encompasses the best points of both the old Republican Party, and the Clinton-era Democrats - reasonably small government, with federally funded programs that help people, instead of hindering freedom. I think it'll become a party that supports Federal education funding, Federally funded drug education and rehabilitation programs, Federally funded health care, but at the same time, saves the American public boatloads of tax money by returning to to gold standard, abolishing such Federal money-wasters such as the DEA, DHS, and others, as well as ousting the Federal Reserve bank, instead returning control of the American dollar to congress, where it should be anyway (according to the Constitution). A common Libertarian standard is also the abolishment of the IRS, but after weighing both sides of the issue, I'm wondering how feasible that really is, even with greatly reduced Federal spending. It looks great on paper, but how will it really work out? I really have no problem with paying Federal taxes, so long as I feel my money is well spent. Right now, the Federal Government spends my money in ways that I wound never approve of in a million years - the DHS and the Iraq war being the two most glaring examples, followed closely by the recently passed FISA reform bill - yup - we're all now paying for the government to spy on us (well, we have been for years, but it's legal now).

The underlying core principle of the Libertarian Party is freedom - a return to the Constitution as our Forefathers intended it; to return the basic expected standard of all Americans to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. The more I educate myself about the political and social issues at large, the less I toe the direct party line of the Libertarians, though I still feel that this party is the one to return my privacy to me, enable me to become wealthier in the long run (all I want is to be comfortable, and as it is right now, I'm making almost triple the minimum wage, and it's still not a viable living wage - I barely have a roof over my head, and can afford no more than ramen for food - people making triple what I'm making are still living paycheck to paycheck - this is simply not right). The Libertarians want to enable Americans to be the masters of their own respective futures - and not rely on some badly worded, non-thought out Federal program, made law for "our own good". Some Libertarians do understand the need that some Americans need help, due to disability, illness, or other issue. They are willing to work with those people to help them also achieve the American dream. Libertarians, on the other hand, have no love for people who are perfectly capable of, but simply refuse to, help themselves. Poor welfare recipients that simply have more and more children in order to increase their welfare payments. Able-bodied people that are too lazy to get a job and be a productive member of society. These are the ones that we are currently paying for, that the Libertarians want to stop subsidizing. Note: this DOES NOT include special cases, like single mothers (or families) that are on welfare, even when they work (or if they are unable to work) due to the special needs of their child. People in these special cases deserve all the help we can muster (and all too often in today's America, are not helped nearly enough, due to the people that are abusing the system, and taking money that would be better spent on these special cases).

The Libertarian party is largely misunderstood in modern America, most often being thought of as fringe lunatics that preach anarchy. The lion's share of the Libertarian party is not that at all. There's really three types of Libertarian: the fringe lunatic that preaches anarchy (also less than 10% of the party), the old-style conservative that harbors essentially the same principles as pre-WWII Republicans, and the liberal leaning Libertarian (where I fall in the party), which is the fastest growing segment of the party, and will likely end up controlling the party in the near future.

Explanations of Libertarian Party segments:

Anarchist style Libertarians: largely a fringe element of the party - mostly seen as extremist outcasts to the party, much like the neo-conservative movement is currently seen in the Republican party (at least to the average regular American Republican who is upset with the neo-con line). The biggest difference is that the anarchist Libertarians are in no position to take control of the party.

The old-school Republican: The core beliefs of the Libertarian party are essentially the same as the beliefs of the pre-WWII Republicans - small government, self-accountability, and utmost adherence to the Constitution. This is currently the largest segment of the party, and the segment that best describes Ron Paul's politics.

Liberal-Leaning Libertarian: As I said, this is where I fall. Both of the major parties have failed the American public. Even though the fastest expanding part of the Libertarian party is disgruntled Republicans, many have liberal leanings in certain areas, particularly in public programs. While an adherence to the Constitution is of utmost importance, they can recognize the merit in certain public programs, while the abolishment of other Federal programs will free up funding for these public programs, and in many cases cost far less (the drug education/rehabilitation program versus the DEA, for instance). There are also many disgruntled Democrats joining the Libertarian party in this segment. Due to the political climate in the US today, this will continue to be the largest growing segment of the party, likely overtaking the Old-School Republicans as the controlling segment within a decade or so. Libertarian Nominee Bob Barr falls between the Old-School Republican and Liberal-Leaning segments of the party.

Why did I become a Libertarian, you may ask? Well, I'll explain my history of political affiliation, and that will likely explain why I sit where I do politically.

When I first became somewhat politically aware in the late 1980s/early 1990s (end of the Regan years, and during the Bush Sr. years), I was a young, disgruntled teenager, going through an identity crisis, and seeing any sort of political program as an obstacle to overcome in defining myself and living my life. I didn't like authority in any form. I was too young to vote, so I, fortunately, didn't help to cause any damage. I identified as an Anarchist in those days.

Towards the end of my High School career, particularly after a few classes in American History and Civics, I finally became enlightened enough to realize that Anarchy, while great for an anti-authority idealist, would never work in the real world. Some degree of law was necessary just to protect people wanting to live their lives - such as laws against theft, murder, and rape. With this new (admittedly cursory) understanding of politics being built on top of a formerly Anarchist political belief, I registered as an independent in 1993, when I turned 18 - just 10 months too late to vote in the 1992 general election, which brought Clinton into his first term. I didn't really know enough about politics at that time to make an educated decision on either major political party. I just knew that my parents were both Republicans, and I had recently heard of the Libertarian party, which, at the time, was described to me as near-anarchists (not correct, but I didn't know that). Still being politically green, I identified most with the Libertarian party, but found myself unable to really choose. I felt that before I committed to one party or another, I should learn more.

I paid close attention to the Clinton years. I loved that the economy was improving. I liked some of the social programs that Clinton put in place. I completely missed Hillary's involvement in NAFTA, and had I known of it, I probably wouldn't have understood it at the time. Generally, I was happy with Clinton as president, and thought I'd like to see him as president for another term. In the 1996 election year, I was quite tempted to register as a Libertarian, as I still identified the most with that party. It was when the Elections Board representative told me that I'd only be able to vote in the primaries if I was registered as a Democrat or Republican that made me choose a major party. I registered as Democrat that year, yet still thought among Libertarian lines. I helped re-elect Clinton in 1996. I also knew that Ron Paul was running as a Libertarian that year, but I, still being reasonably politically uninformed, stuck with the Democrats. In hindsight, had I voted for Paul, it wouldn't have helped... the support for Clinton's re-election was too strong.

During Clinton's second term, I thought more and more about joining the Libertarian party, doing more research on them, liking the party beliefs, loving the adherence to the Constitution and the American right to personal liberty. As Clinton's second term was coming to a close, and the candidates for the 2000 election were starting to campaign, I saw George W. Bush quickly coming to the forefront of the Republican Party. I knew right from the start that he'd be horribly bad for the country. I didn't much care for Al Gore either, though - I still remember Tipper's attempt at censoring/banning various music albums in the 1980s with the PMRC (Her extreme thoughts on censorship were much of the reason for my extreme thoughts on anarchy in the 80s). Still, I knew that George Bush was going to be disaster for America. In 2000, the year I thought I'd register as Libertarian, I remained a Democrat, to try and ensure that GWB never saw the White House. I did everything I could to have Gore elected - including donating money to his campaign - which I haven't done since, until this year. I did not want GWB as President, and Gore was the only one with a chance to beat him. Unfortunately, as we all know now, my efforts - and the efforts of everyone else that knew GWB was going to be Death for America - were in vain. Corruption came out on top, and awarded GWB the presidency.

Even still, I relegated myself to give GWB a chance, even with as much as I didn't like him. He had not been in office for a day before he proved his complete incompetency, ignorance, and disregard for the Constitution and the American public. I could tell from the subtext in his first inauguration speech that he was going to destroy America. I just didn't know if it was going to be through incompetence or disregard for the American public.

We all know the history of GWB's first four years. In 2004, knowing that GWB had to follow the same legacy as his father, and be ousted after his first term, I remained a Democrat, this time around looking to Kerry as my champion (well, at first, I was a staunch supporter of the Howard Dean camp - I liked his passion and ideals for change - too bad that primal scream he let loose cost him his chances - too many people associate passion with insanity). I voted for John Kerry in 2004. In another controversial election, fraught with allegations of voter fraud and voting machine tampering, GWB won his second term in office. We also know how that's going - coming to a close with possible impeachment on the table - with an increasing popularity in the senate.

Knowing the severity of the situation, for the first time ever, I payed close attention to the 2006 Congressional elections. I, like most Americans, had high hopes that ousting the mostly Republican Congress would help to restore checks and balances to the government. In hopes for practicality in changing the country, I remained registered as a Democrat, and voted Democrat straight down the line, all the way from local City Council, to Maryland Governor, to our Senate and House choices in the Federal Government. So far, the Baltimore City Council has proceeded to fuck up the city so bad that I no longer live within city limits. Governor Martin O'Malley is apparently incapable of making a solid decision that doesn't include Irish folk music and a pint of Guinness (fine for the everyperson, but lousy for a Governnor), and our Federal Senate and House members have largely betrayed us, mostly siding with GWB on his every whim. I think my votes in the 2006 Congressional Elections are the votes I regret the most ever.

Now, it's time for the 2008 election. We have the most important Presidential Election year in US History at hand (arguably even more important than the first Presidential election in the US - the one that named George Washington as President, making him the one that defined America for all of history - because that definition has now changed, and needs correction). I felt greatly let down by both the Democrats and the Republicans. I honestly didn't want either of them in office. My primary requirement for a candidate was one that publicly says he'll repeal the Patriot Act, and disband DHS. As these are both goals of the Libertarian party, I decided, with great passion, to re-register as a Libertarian. Even as I was re-registering, I was told by the Elections Board rep that I won't be able to vote in the primaries. I quickly replied with, "I understand that, but as an American that loves his country and values the Constitution above all else, I cannot, in good faith, register myself as either a Democrat or a Republican. They have both failed us. I wrote Libertarian on the form, and I want to support the Libertarian party." With great pride, I made the choice I should have made more than a decade earlier. I knew very well that Ron Paul was running as a Republican. Even though I was unable to vote for him in the primary, I campaigned like mad for him, even contributing money to his campaign (which, I may add, was the best financially run campaign in modern political history - when he ended his campaign, he still had over three million dollars in the bank, which he has since donated to the election fund and the Federal government). I know that I, personally, even garnered him at least three votes from Marylanders that would otherwise have not known about him. After Ron Paul resigned, I was faced with a huge choice - vote for Obama, and hope for some change, vote for Bob Barr (who, at the time, I didn't know much about), or write in a vote for Ron Paul anyway. Earlier this week, that choice was narrowed as Obama voted for the FISA Reform Bill, effectively making warrantless domestic surveillance legal, and ensuring telecom immunity. So much for change, Obama. You just proved yourself to be the same cowardly, waffling politician as most of the rest. Thank you for helping to obliterate the Fourth Amendment. You will not be getting my vote.

Here it is, just a few short months away from the general election (and I still need to change my address on my voters registration), and I'm faced with only two choices. Do I write in a vote for Ron Paul, who is a financial genius, and will likely get this country completely out of debt in his first term, not to mention do MUCH to restore Constitutional rule to America, or do I vote for Bob Barr, who is a former Neo-Con Republican, who now sees the error of his ways, and has been trying, since he joined the Libertarian Party in 2006, to make amends, and promises to restore Constitutional freedom to the American public?

Finally, should I even mention that McCain, with his senility, obvious effects of shellshock, sorry, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, his anti-equality views (that would set back racial equality thirty years, and gender equality almost sixty years), and his promise of one hundred years in Iraq, is not even a remote thought in my head as a viable candidate. I won't even mention his Congressional voting record being 99% in favor of GWB's desires - oh wait, I just mentioned it. Yeah. You get the point.

In 2008, the only American choice is the Libertarian choice.

What is this blog about?

This is my second online blog, having previously had a private blog on another popular blogging site. I still maintain the private blog, but that's more for my private thoughts. My political rants and observations were not particularly well received there. It was simply the wrong forum for that. As a result, I have started this blog, exclusively for the purpose of posting my political and social thoughts and beliefs.

I am a registered Libertarian, because I have been thoroughly sickened by the partisan power, fear, and hate mongering spewed forth by both the Democrat and Republican party. Without putting a party name to it, my general political beliefs can best be described as "liberal-leaning conservative, with a strong belief in human rights and upholding the Constitution". I feel that the Libertarian party is my best hope in bringing these values back to the United States of America.

I am not a religious person. I am an Agnostic. I am a believer in science. I abhor the thought of having Creationism taught as a science. I do hold some spiritual beliefs, but only because of my own observations, even though they may be, as yet, scientifically unprovable. I will never force my spiritual beliefs on anyone, nor will I tolerate someone else forcing their spiritual beliefs on myself (or anyone else). I also strive to not allow my personal spiritual beliefs cloud my pursuit of scientific truth. As of right now, the two are mutually exclusive.

In my daily life, I work at a major International Airport at an administration level position regarding security. I hate what the DHS/TSA is doing to this nation, yet I must deal with them daily. As a result, I have a somewhat more insightful position regarding DHS/TSA/Patriot Act than most people. I do not work for DHS or TSA, so let's clear that up right now. They are as much of a thorn in my side (if not more) as they are to the average air traveler.

I've always felt like a black sheep politically, having been an anarchist in my formidable years, later realizing anarchy is impossible, and becoming an independent. Later still, I registered as a Democrat because the post-Regan Republican party disgusted me - besides, there were several elections that I wanted to do everything I could to keep a Republican out of office, even if it meant selling my own beliefs short. Now, I've matured and wizened, and know what I must do politically. I am a Libertarian. I have pretty bold opinions. If you can't handle that, go back to toeing your respective party line. I'll still be here, trying to enlighten people and change the world.

On media outlets... I get almost all of my news from BBC, Sky News, and Telegraph. I cannot trust American news outlets anymore. None of them are willing to report politics neutrally. They all want to put a spin on things towards one side or the other. I'm sorry, but whatever happened to un-biased media? Oh yeah, it started declining during Vietnam. It's been dying ever since, and today, you only have media outlets owned by major companies, run ultimately by highly partisan people, who intentionally skew news reports to meet their own agenda. The Brits are far more reliable for unbiased American news.

So, that's me, and this blog as a whole, in a nutshell. Love it, hate it, comment on it, whatever. Just read it.

Listen, learn, expand, know the truth.

The Death of the Arts in the United States

Has anyone else noticed that the real arts in the US have all but disappeared? By real arts, I'm talking about masterpieces of graphic art (like the Mona Lisa); masterpieces of prose, such as War and Peace, 1984, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Beowulf, Romeo and Juliet, etc; masterpieces of sculpture, such as The Thinker; masterpieces of cinema, like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Nosferatu, Citizen Kane. What happened to them?

What does modern society consider art today? The iPhone G3? The latest in electro-luminescent clothing? The coolest new car design? The summer line by [insert popular fashion designer here]? Is it the latest Hollywood blockbuster, that has virtually nothing in the way of redeeming social commentary, but has some GREAT special effects, all done on computer? Is it the latest number one bestselling novel, also endorsed by Oprah, which has absolutely no redeeming social value, and instead plays directly into the desires of the masses, of sex, violence, and action?

True art is dead.

What are the real concerns of the modern human? Gas prices, the farce of an election in 2008, getting the latest electronics (mobile phones, digital cameras, portable computers, etc), the biggest Hollywood blockbusters, and who's going to win the big prize on [insert reality TV show here].

How many people actually read anymore? I'm not talking about classic literature, text books, or technical manuals. How many people read novels - of any sort? Not many. In 2002, the Boston Globe reported a ten percent drop in readers, from 59.6% of Americans to 46.7% of Americans, since 1982. This same statistic was reported by The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). 2002 was six years ago. It's gotten worse since then.

You can find the evidence all around you., who once sold only books and a few movies on DVD and VHS, has now branched out into just about everything from bathroom furnishings, to clothes, to computers. They're just one example.

Booksellers across the nation are closing down. The only ones surviving in this climate of disregard for the written word are the major chains, such as Barnes and Noble. I've personally witnessed at least a dozen small, single location booksellers disappear. There was also a time that the "trendy" neighborhood downtown used to feature independent movie houses, that showed only classic and independent films, as well as art galleries galore and a few independent booksellers, specializing mostly in used and obscure books (trying to bring books to the less financially fortunate among us) among the bars and music shops. All that remains now are the bars, music stores, and various chotchkie shops, along with a few restaurants. The arts-based businesses are gone. The only arts businesses left are the music shops, who only keep their rent paid by carrying the latest top forty albums and selling t-shirts galore.

I ask again, where have the arts gone? As I type this, I've noticed that the number two best-seller on is sTori Telling, by Tori Spelling. If this isn't a bit of trite crap that enables people to not think, and only serves to quell their fascination with celebrities, may [Insert diety here] strike me down right this second. I have not and never will read this book, but I bet it has more pictures and less substance than Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak.

The bottom line is this: modern Americans are not interested in the arts. Bettering themselves only means getting a promotion at work. People no longer have use for the classics of the past that still carry enough relevance to shatter the earth under the feet of its readers. Some classics have even become more relevant in recent years.

The two I recommend the most highly to people are George Orwell's 1984, and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Between these two works, we have the political climate explained to us, as well as what's happening to literature (and more broadly, the arts in general).

End your complacency. Read. Learn. Improve. Help save the world.