Monthly Archives: June 2012

The ill Advised

This article is not about health care reform. Nor is it about the recent decision by the Supreme Court of the United States to uphold the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. This is about how We, the People have lost our ability to form rational perspectives, or articulate opposition without venomous polarization. Political partisanship has turned our nation into a bunch of raving, rabid psychotics who feign acumen by regurgitating cable news talking points.

Our current state of health care in the America, may, or may not be a disgrace… but our discourse surely is.

Which is not to say that people shouldn’t have opinions about the topic at hand. Surely, accessibility to affordable health care is an issue germane to all of our lives –if not our fundamental liberties as Americans– and if one’s honest introspection leads them to believe that the present state of reform will either help, or hinder their ability to pursue happiness… then I would never dream of trying to deny anyone’s first amendment right of dissent. But all one has to do is hop onto Facebook, scroll through their online news feed, or turn on their television to see that is not what is happening. You can find more rational discord in a prison riot.

Depending on one’s predisposed political affiliation –which in the present social climate means that you either believe President Obama to be a Kenyan Muslim antichrist sent by Satan to destroy America, or our last/best hope for world peace and ice cream for everyone– their reactions to the SCOTUS decision were laughably predictable. Democrats and Republicans everywhere have been claiming a victory for, or a death blow to “freedom“. Party-line automatons have determined that this decision will either mean Armageddon, or Shangri-la. It makes no difference how uninformed many of us are… we know what sides to take, and whose angst addled platitudes to mimic.

The truth is, most people don’t even know what they are angry about, or elated over. Facts are altered to coincide with narrow-minded inclinations, and context compromised in accordance with predisposed determinations. Like it is with most of the way America forms their socio/political determinations, conclusions are drawn before knowledge is received. The arguments over health care reform themselves are generally inane, and are much less about finding the best, most economical way to treat sick people than it is about politics. Most of the integrity deficient populace knows what team they are rooting for, and they over dramatize accordingly.

For instance, the continued, ad nauseum use of the word “betrayal” regarding Chief Justice John Roberts  vote to support Obamacare’s constitutionality is particularly disturbing when one considers that the Supreme Court is not designed to make its decisions according to party affiliation. First and foremost, the Supreme Court of the United States is charged with interpreting the Constitution and making rulings thusly. And while it would be naive to not acknowledge that SCOTUS justices are chosen because of their liberal or conservative leanings depending on whatever party the nominating President belongs to… it does not guarantee how they will vote on every bit of legislation. Neither Democrats, nor Republicans own the judges they nominate for SCOTUS.

Certainly, one might disagree with Justice Roberts decision, but to imply that his interpretation was a betrayal has ramifications beyond dissent. What everyone who makes that claim is saying, is that they believe the Supreme Court of the United States of America to be ethically compromised to the point of treason. They are claiming that there was an outside force coercing Justice Roberts to make a decision that he otherwise would not, and that he abandoned his oath in collusion with forces unknown.

Hmmm…. Perhaps. Maybe the alarmists are onto something there. But here’s the thing, are we to engage in this type of hyperbolic vitriol every time a SCOTUS decision doesn’t go our way? To put this in perspective, those reacting with incredulous anxiety for the most part did not do so when the Supreme Court made their decisions regarding Citizen’s United, or the Patriot Act. Outrage, it would seem, is subject to circumstance.

In reality, nothing changed from the day before this decision to now. The only post-Scotus ruling divergence is that in order to change this law, legislators will now have the burden of convincing voters of a better way to provide affordable health care. I don’t think that anyone, from either side of the political aisle will disagree that there is still work to be done. There are surely improvements which can be made, some through the elimination of parts of this legislation. There are ethical, economic and bureaucratic issues which can be rationally discussed without implementing liberal and conservative code words for “Us vs. Them”

But that will never happen as long as we allow our opinions to be provided for us by those who appeal to our predisposed biases, rather than do the heavy lifting ourselves.

50 Shades of Yuck

I realize that I can be cynical. It would be remiss of me if I did not acknowledge that I can occasionally color my perspectives with a touch of sarcastic distrust which might not always be warranted. Which is another way to say that those who refer to me as a pompous, self indulgent jerk aren’t entirely wrong. Certainly, I can be an asshole. Mea culpa.

But sometimes, people are just plain stupid.

As is often the case with American pop culture, the Zeitgeist has given rise to yet another vapid economic enterprise that every orgasm deprived floozy in the nation has deemed a “must read”. Channeling every woman’s inner bimbo, E.L. James’ best seller “50 Shades of Grey” has taken the country by storm, and re-enforced as many negative stereotypes about women, sexuality, and the male dominated relationship dynamic as James’ limited imagination could conjure.

This book center’s around a fictional young woman named Anastasia Steele, her inability to negotiate mundane tasks, and her guilt ridden anxiety over possessing a vagina.  Never have I seen a main character who is so annoyingly vacuous that I’d sooner push her off a balcony than fornicate. As I read, I couldn’t help but feel that this was nothing more  than a dime store romance novel masquerading as literature, and how it insults every woman who ever dared rise above patriarchal subjugation. Poorly written “mommy porn”, 50 SOG reeks of Oprah inspired phony-feminism designed to gather clusters of sexually frustrated women to overly emote, and complain about their role as sexual submissives, while simultaneously embracing it.

Now if this sounds like sour grapes on my part for having written a relationship book that centers around gender equality, let me assure that it is. I am indeed, pissed off. When people become celebrities by regurgitating inane platitudes, and recycling unoriginal relationship snippets, it infuriates me. And normally, I wouldn’t even bother with drivel such as this, but after having been deluged with requests from affection starved house Fraus suffering from 50 Shades hysteria, I actually put down a book written by someone with the ability to form rational, intelligent thoughts to see what all the commotion was about. And it lived down to every one of my expectations.

I understand that there are a lot of women who still haven’t figured out that they need to stop apologizing for their emotions. There is a significant portion of the female half of our population who still feel guilt over having a libido. They have been trained, since birth, to view their own sense of sexuality as something dirty, and when their natural inclinations seek their expression, there is a marketplace for those who wish to profit from sexual guilt.

The truth is, this is the demographic I hope to reach. The difference being, I have a moral obligation to educate, rather than take advantage of someone’s emotional vulnerabilities for profit. But unfortunately, many are still confined by convention. Although the United States is comprised of many different patriarchal cultures, we do, in fact, offer more opportunities for female empowerment than most other countries. We have, in spite of tradition, managed to make significant strides towards gender equality, but apparently not enough to prevent insipid twaddle from become a best seller.

So by all means, ladies… if 50 Shades is your cup of Earl Grey, then curl up on your couch on a Saturday night with your BFF, grab a pint of Haagen Dazs, your favorite vibrator, this month’s issue of Cosmo and hunker down for a fun filled Sex in the City marathon. Or, you can just stop playing this game. Shed the guilty predispositions that have burdened you since libidinous cognition and be honest about your wants, needs and desires… and if you really want an orgasm, then damn it, have one… however, or with whomever you chose… and most of all, DO NOT apologize for how you feel.

This is a free country, and it is your right.

Fear Itself

When primitive man walked the plains of Africa searching for food, he was likely to encounter many dangers along his path. So instinctively when he noticed movement in his visual periphery, he would react as if a predator were upon him. Sometimes, it was just the wind. Yet other times, it was a tiger. Without necessarily having the ability to articulate it, he understood that complacency could cost him his life. Fear was indeed a useful tool for survival.

As such, a certain amount of anxiety and trepidation have been embedded in our DNA. We still have an instinct for self preservation that internally warns us against detrimental activities. Certainly, that’s what prevents many of us from taking unnecessary chances with our lives, or even our finances (which psychologically translates as food). When reasonable perspective is utilized, a certain amount of fear can be healthy, which is why most of us don’t place our paychecks on one roulette spin. However today’s predators are a little bit different than those that ancient man faced. Modern day predators walk on two legs, and they often strike from the tall grass of cable news, or the thicket of the blogosphere… and they use our fear against us.

While cable news pontiffs and socio/political bloggers from the lunatic fringes might not sustain themselves on our flesh like predators from the Paleozoic, they do achieve sustenance from the national sense of dread that occurs  due to the hysteria they themselves create. Rather than feast on our carcasses, they use our fear to promote themselves, and that translates into commercial success. Political extremists prey on our instinctual, collective fear of loss, and they feed on our panic. In our either/or, vitriolic national discourse, the blood lust is no less savage.

Although we may no longer be at risk of being gored by a wild boar, there are those who would have you similarly fearful of a bore named Al Gore. And while Americans believe that they’re at no one’s beck and call, some are in fact psychologically subjugated to Glenn Beck’s call. Whether they be liberal or conservative, Americans are being conditioned to fear one another based on ideology…  and as we accuse our fellow citizens of undermining our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,  the ruthless profiteers of political extremism are laughing all the way to the bank.

But the singular commonality shared by both right and left wing predators, is that measured, rational thought by “we the people” is akin to a carnivore losing out on a meal because primitive man noticed movement in the brush. However in order for rationality to prevail over phobia, reason must overcome generations of instinctual fear. So predatory pontiffs vilify those who see through their deception, and label them as RINO’s, DINO’s or worst of all, political centrists. The underlying, unspoken message is, that reason and compromise make one weak.

… and in the battle for survival, no one wants to be weak.

But being a “centrist” does not mean that one is divided on every topic, or that they see both sides to every issue. It simply means that whatever stand one takes, they do so without a political predisposition. A centrist doesn’t consult a liberal, nor a conservative playbook before formulating a perspective. He or she formulates their socio/political vista based on context, their understanding of whatever the debated item is, and how it applies to the nation, and our constitution. However, if said person were to find themselves residing on one side of the political aisle more often than not, then so be it. All that would mean is that they arrived at their conclusions based on an honest introspection, and not because they were
fearfully driven into the arms of predators from the left, or the right.

A rational, political centrist doesn’t have their mind made up for them by extremist driven fear. That is anything but weak. But media predators don’t want their victims to reach that conclusion. Our foreboding is their marketplace. So, my fellow Americans… while it’s true that in the early parts of the twenty-first century we do, in fact, have more to fear than just fear itself, we must do our parts to not become easy prey.