Friday, October 31, 2008

Skeletons are Eating My Bacon Bits

It's Halloween, isn't it? (Of course it's Halloween, that was a rhetorical question. ... Those of you who unconsciously said "Yes" or even so much as nodded in response to the question - go have a cookie.)

As I prepare to finally post this, I'm writing from my new PC - a Dell Inspiron 530S, which I've christened Freyja, continuing my death incarnation theme in naming my electronics. Very sleek, far more powerful than my last machine (Not exactly cutting edge by today's standards still, but nonetheless very nice, after coming from a dated HP Pavilion in Enma-sama.), and as of far? While it's pretty odd going from WinXP to adapting to Mac OS X for the better part of a week to Vista, Windows Vista isn't too bad. (Though I'm glad I didn't get in on it while it was the wreck it was early on.) I'm pretty happy about all this, as you can tell, but I won't prattle on any longer - there're more important things to get to.

It's been quite a while since I last wrote a cheesy little holiday short story in here. I did it twice last year, and they never really got much of a response. I kind of doubt anybody read them. But I'm sure one of two of you - even if only in part, I can still add you together and pretend you equal at least one whole person - have been wondering if I was ever going to do any more of those. Inside, you've longed deeply for a third part in my series of holiday-themed "MAKE 'EM LAUGH, MAKE 'EM LAUGH, MAKE 'EM LAUGH (This is the part where you punch me in the face for obnoxiously singing this)" short stories.

Lucky for you, I've found enough inspiration to throw a third one together. Put your hands together for attempt number three! (It's genius, and you just don't realize it yet. That's okay, sometimes it takes people a while. Maybe a decade or fifty.)


Skeletons are Eating My Bacon Bits

I was having a pretty bad day when the skeletons first showed up. There was a power blink in the apartment complex overnight, so my alarm didn't go off and I didn't have time to shave before work. Then I got a flat tire and was late to work, where the boss chewed me out and I had to make up some excuse like that I was too unstable to drive properly and basically guilted him into letting me go home early. (I think that's about the third time I've done that now.) Of course, that didn't help too much - the in-laws just had to call when I was at my desk. They wanted to know when they could come pick up my wife's things.

"I was her husband," I told them. "I keep them! I keep them!" I spoke this way because I find that kind of bad grammar hilarious. But I didn't use any weird accents with it, because I didn't want to risk offending any coworkers in earshot. Harold Wong in Software Design was probably my only friend left lately. He was the only friend I'd had other than my wife since we got married. Her parents didn't find my response as funny as I did - but she probably would have laughed.

As I set my bag down on my bed after getting home from work, just wanting to eat my hamburger and watch some comedy on TV before bed, I saw my closet door open - out marched two skeletons. One was short and stout - his actual bone structure more resembling a cartoon character than an actual former human being - and the other looked more or less normal human-sized. I probably would have been bothered by this more, but nothing really bothered me lately. I just wanted to eat my dinner.

At first, I wondered if their emerging from my closet of all places wasn't some sort of weird vision representing some latent homosexual tendencies. But looking back, I was married for a good eight years before my wife's death a few months ago. (That was the first true grade-F July 4th I've ever had. Even when Uncle Earl had a coronary halfway through a hot dog four years ago, my burger turned out perfectly, making it a solid C-grade family gathering. Everything kinda balanced out.) We'd had a pretty healthy sex life - not once did I ever think to myself, "Man, this whole vagina thing's kinda overrated." Not that anybody would put it that way. I really loved her, after all. And I'd certainly made some good memories with my previous five girlfriends - save maybe for the one who wanted me to choke her. Things got pretty uncomfortable by the end of that relationship. So it definitely wasn't a sexual orientation thing - I was comfortable with who I was.

Then I wondered if perhaps these literal skeletons in my closet weren't that Jesus guy trying to tell me something. But then, last time I saw him at my door, I punched him out. I wasn't interested in their damn church gathering or their damn potato salad - I didn't really care that their congregation was looking for new local members. You do not try to sell your religion door-to-door. Then the woman holding the pamphlets for their "Cheezus Christ" pizza party started yelling at me about how that Jesus guy was just acting - yeah, like we didn't already know that - and how my behavior was completely inappropriate and they needed me to be responsible and take him to the hospital or something. I pretty much tuned her out halfway through. I had more important things to think about at the time - like where I could find one of those toy wind-up monkeys with the cymbals. My wife always wanted one of those.

The skeletons follow me everywhere these days. I really wish they wouldn't. The fat one - a skeleton can be fat, right? - keeps asking people to guess his name. When he tells them it's "Boner," they roll around on the floor laughing as though it was the funniest joke ever told. I've heard funnier. People are avoiding me at work these days, all because of these obnoxious skeletons. Mostly because of these obnoxious skeletons. I haven't exactly been a regular cheerbucket since my wife died. But I didn't really have many hobbies, so her death inevitably comes up in most conversations. Harold Wong won't even talk to me anymore. One of the skeletons keeps doing a "Chinaman" impression every time he comes by to chat. It's not cool.

I haven't visited my wife's grave at all in the past month since the skeletons showed up. I'd really like to talk to her and let off a little steam, but I'm pretty sure if I go there, these skeletons'll raise her from the dead and make her like them. As much as I'd like to see her again, I don't really like the idea of their doing that. I'm pretty sure the fat one would try to sleep with her - and I don't think skeletons are really capable of copulation, but I'm sure that one would find a way. My wife was a strong, brilliant woman - she deserves better than that. I haven't really slept much since her death.

I'm hoping these skeletons go away soon - at least back into my closet, or wherever they originally came from. I'm getting pretty tired of their antics and I'm starting to think it's about time I bought a gun. Guns are expensive. I haven't had much money lately.


Wasn't that equal parts spooky and holiday cheer-filled? Yes - yes it was. Now go have some candy to take the edge off. (No, none of that was melancholy. I don't know what you're talking about.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Technical Difficulties

Lovely times as of late, lovely times.

PS2? On the verge of death. Wiimote rechargeable batteries? Really need replacing. Computer I've effectively half life my life through for the past six years and a couple of months? Effectively dead as of a few hours ago.

Arbitrary blog update to complain about the current aggravating situation with an excuse at last for my not delivering as much content as of late? You betcha. But let's do this COMEDY-STYLE. (Since I still technically have internet access, in using a borrowed MacBook at the moment (Which isn't exactly the easiest thing for me, in never really having been a big Mac user before.), do continue to look forward to the upcoming Halloween comedy short story on friday. I will be finishing and posting that in time, one way or another.)

The skinny - Enma-sama, my PC since August 2002 (One of my graduation gifts, and new computer for college) had been sick for long time. There were probably a lot of things eating away at it inside from the software standpoint - likely some mild viruses (I was generally very careful to avoid those, but it's hard to prevent them entirely when you haven't been able to get a paid content update for Norton Antivirus in years.) and doubtlessly too much spyware for content. (Though I did make an effort to combat that with Spybot and Adaware.) But while I ultimately was able to prevent Enma-sama's demise prematurely in terms of internal software, it was already dying of old age. HP Pavilions only last so long. (And they really just HAD to solder the core of the computer in the motherboard, power source, and fan to the case, didn't they?) The computer had been groaning rather loudly for some time as to alert the world to its forthcoming demise - it did this for around a year, if not longer. (And there's nothing like writing while dealing with loud, angry mechanical noise from within the machine.) Halfway through the Daily Show in these past 24 hours, Enma said no more and abruptly shut itself off after overheating - though it felt no warmer than normal - following not quite 3 hours of use. The fan stopped working entirely, and the machine seems to be effectively dead.

At the moment, I'm typing on a borrowed MacBook from my older brother (Who lent me this one after purchasing a newer one recently to further his work on a particular iPhone/iPod Touch game project we're working on.), hooked up to my PC's C drive in an external enclosure. Fortunately, all of my data is intact - Project 27 Days and all. I'm not sure if the MacBook has Word-compatible software or not, so Project 27 Days work may be depressingly stunted this week. (Especially considering that I was about to finish chapter 23 of the 28 the other night, and planned to finish the job within the next hour or two now.) We'll be figuring out what's to be done in the next day or two - the horrible mooch I am in still being financially dependent on my parents at 24 - but we'll likely hit a local Intrex and see what can be worked with of Enma-sama. And side from that, there's a good chance Enma-sama will be fully laid to rest and replaced by a new Dell PC. (As theirs are known for reliability and affordability these days, apparently. Not quite as much for the commercials they used to do with that one scab whose career is now long over. He was busted for possession, as I recall.) With any luck, if things work out, whether it's some entirely new and far more powerful (As Enma was very outdated in many regads) hardware or a Frankensteinian patchwork, I should hopefully have a new machine by the end of this week - the name of which, I haven't even begun to think about yet. Suffice to say, this has been a very frustrating, stressful day - and time in general, with the way my daily electronics've been lately - but at least there's something of a silver lining.

And now, for an attempt at something to amuse you - the final conversation (IM-style, of course) between myself and my deceased PC:

Spirald00d469: Hey man, why you gotta be like that?
ENMASAMMER: You know why, motherfucker. YOU KNOW WHY.
Spirald00d469: Yeah yeah, you told us you was gonna die at any time forever. Why'd it have to be now?
ENMASAMMER: Trick or treat, bitch.

And that's it. I'm too tired and let's be honest, the joke'd just be repetitive and redundant beyond that. I'm not sure why both the computer and myself opted to co-opt a stereotypical urban black style of speech there, but suffice to say, we probably both deserve to be stabbed for it. Except the PC has the benefit of being the one already dead.

You served me well, Enma-sama. Here's hoping the next PC works out even better.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Conservative Satire III: How Does I Make Funny?

Well, the debates have been over for a week now. We actually bought a cake this past weekend to celebrate the end of that phase of the election (Along with other things, such as the arrival of seasonal temperatures in North Carolina at long last. Something rare enough that they're well worth celebrating. And personally, I absolutely love cold weather.), though things haven't been any less ugly since. Palin's gone on to start dividing the nation up (After all that rather open bullshit talk about "uniting" America, not unlike what we saw with George W. bush.) into categories of "pro-American" and "anti-American" - "real American," and as Jon Stewart pointed out was implied on the Daily Show recently, "fake American" - wherein the supposed "genuine" "pro-Americans" are essentially ignorant blue collar small town workers, farmers, and soldiers serving in Iraq who support the neo-conservative political agenda as this nation crumbles.

In 2005, Albert Brooks went in search of what made the culture we've seemingly declared war on laugh in Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World. More recently Andrea Kalin filmed three Muslim comedians here in the United States in Allah Made Me Funny. Today? Right here? I look into what's being sold as Republican comedy. No doubt you all went out and saw An American Carol over one of these weekends (As that's what I'm blogging about now, several weeks after this blog entry would've been relevant. (Like during the one week when it barely made it into the box office top ten as a huge bomb, before falling out of the top ten entirely.)), David Zucker's "satirical" parable on "those goddamn left-winger commies that've been destroyin' our nation while we had all the power. Sympathize with us!" (Instead of seeing Beverly Hills Chihuahua. After all, who would want to indulge in some mindless fluff with the appealing Piper Perabo to distract themselves from the dire state of things when they should be out laughing at the real enemy? (This part of the post was even more relevant when that movie was still #1 in the box office. Oh well.)) The notion that the film is satire, however, had to be placed in quotations because generally, satire is all about humor through which deeper truth is exposed. The neo-conservative "patriotic" masturbation that the film uses to sell itself is anything but truth, of course. It simply paints a bizarre picture of the sort of alternate reality the rabid Bush-and-McCain-loving minority subscribes to.

Is the film funny? Of course not. Is Zucker himself capable of relevance in the modern world? Considering that he couldn't achieve relevance in the '90s either, not at all. And it might be a bit of a stretch to call him particularly relevant in the '80s as well, as much of a cult following as Airplane! and the Naked Gun movies have. When you get down to it, An American Carol is the latest in a long line of shameful rehashes of Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol, which not only manages to be consistently dishonest and overly aggressive - seemingly out of this inherent neo-conservative victim complex easily observable over this past decade, as they attempt to pass the blame for everything they do on to "the liberals," who've had little real political representation and power during the George W. Bush presidency. (Even after 2006's fantastic congressional sweep, while Bush was made more of a lame duck, congress won't have any real power to change things until we have a stronger non-Republican/moderate/progressive majority in the senate and the current massively corrupt characters polluting the executive branch leave power, having dangerously expanded the capabilities of the executive branch over these past eight years and repeatedly abused that power.) And on top of that, the film is no doubt absolutely insulting to any self-proclaimed conservative who likes to use their brain at all. (Though looking at where we've seen conservative endorsements trending lately too, with Christopher Buckley, General Colin Powell, and more, the intelligent, moderate conservatives aren't getting behind the Republican party so much anymore either.)

The basic premise? Michael Malone (An in no way thinly-veiled representation of documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, played by Kevin "Oh god please pretend I'm my brother" Farley) is out to destroy the 4th of July! Oh no! Those evil liberals can't do that, can they? (Never mind that this was the closest they could come up with to documentaries about the impacts of downsizing on people's lives, the risks of our gun culture, the laundry list of fuck-ups by the Bush administration, the healthcare crisis, and a look at my generation in politics. Clearly all major attacks on American values and in no way in the interests of the American people. Apparently Malone's films are wildly unpopular in An American Carol as well, as opposed to the massive popularity of Moore's documentaries. Someone's struck a nerve.)

Of course they would, Jimmy. They don't love America and seek to improve it by acknowledging and criticizing it's problems. They hate it and would elect Ahmadine- Ahmadine-... Achmed over there in Iran to the White House if they could!

Naturally, it's up to a played-out Charles Dickens parody (The man's probably spun in his grave so much that his bones're a fine powder by now.) led by country star Trace Adkins ("I sing them patriotic songs! How hard can this acting thing be if the lib'ruls do it!?") to teach their Moore-analogue the valuable lesson that you're basically nothing more than an America-hating terrorist if you aren't a neo-conservative - voting Republican in the 21st century is all America boils down to. Also, unfunny things are hilarious. Always. (And also something about "support the troops! Support unnecessary and illegal military conflicts! War is not merely always okay, but always necessary and the greatest thing we can do is a nation!" (Specifically, that the more freedoms and humanity we sacrifice in the name of 'protecting freedom,' the greater we are as a nation. And "SHUT UP, STOP THINKING."))

Yeah, now I'm gonna take the wacky, bold stance by saying that no, I actually don't hate Michael Moore. I'm not going to pretend there isn't some amount of bias in his documentaries - he makes an argument in each of them, after all - but he's trying to create public awareness of issues worth drawing attention to, to use cinema to actually make an effort to give something back to moviegoers and society. That deserves a nod. (Unlike, say, Ben Stein's Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed from earlier this year - yes, it does indeed have an ironic double meaning in the title - which is outright intellectually dishonest propaganda, once again trying to bring up the incredibly faulty argument that religion and science are somehow the same thing at their core. Anyone who has a real understanding of what both are knows this to be false - as well as that you do not have to renounce religious faith to pursue a career in the scientific field. You simply have to be intellectually honest enough to acknowledge that these two concepts are in no way the same thing - that you cannot find anything concrete in trying to mix the provable and unprovable.)

Zucker's "proud conservative" notion of "truth" in "satire" doesn't just miss the mark - it simply panders to the lowest common denominator. It's downright insulting to the sensibilities of anyone who does write satire - as I do at times myself - or simply knows how to appreciate good satire.

What exactly makes up the anatomy of a conservative "comedy," you ask? Let's take a look at these "deep truths" An American Carol exposes.

First off, apparently Michael Moore is accurately describable as being a fat man. Apparently this is some deep insight that many have missed out on somewhere along the way. And repeatedly pointing this out - or remarking about body odor (I'd assume this might be some sort of jab at the old stereotype of more left-leaning individuals all being "hippies who never bathe," but frankly, that'd be giving Zucker too much credit.) - equals comedy gold. In the 21st century. What I'm wondering is why they don't just go ahead and give Zucker an Oscar now? I mean, seriously, this is clearly genius cinema. Who would've guessed that Michael Moore wasn't thin? My eyes have been opened!

These "liberals" that Zucker writes about with such vitriol - apparently god hates them. Or so Zucker is telling us in this movie, through George Patton and George Washington. If you don't vote Republican, you're a-goin' to the hell! Quiver in fear, progressives, there's a big magical man in the sky waiting to smite anyone who dares question the neo-conservative ideal status quo - whether you're a homosexual who makes conservatives feel uncomfortable and insecure with the whole idea of love, a Vegan or Vegetarian infringing on our red-blooded American meat-eating ways (And don't get Jonah Goldberg started on organic food - according to his Liberal Fascism book, if you're interested in organic food, you're basically a Nazi.), or anyone who dares to use their brain. (This blogger postulates that liberal use of the Leaf Shield ability would take care of that man in the sky plenty easily.) Also, apparently black people have a conspiracy to make you feel guilty about slavery (And exist as one-dimensional stereotypes fixated on slavery and slavery alone.), lesbians look like hairy men, evil hippie college professors are brainwashing us all (Despite recent studies actually showing that college professors don't tend to have much influence on college students' politics - their peers, on the other hand, do.), leftists are pathetic losers who would've let Hitler win in World War II (Makes one wonder what left-leaning members of our military today would have to say about all this. Especially considering how many Iraq war veterans we've seen return and condemn the Bush administration, instead of shouting "WE LOVE WAR! SEND US BACK NOW PLEASE!" like the neo-conservatives regard them. An especially amusing assertion considering that conservatives weren't in power during World War II.), we've been misrepresenting JFK all along (Apparently he was actually a proud conservative warmonger, whaddaya know?), the ACLU is nothing but a bunch of zombies (As opposed to maybe, just maybe, an organization founded to help protect our civil liberties - the very things we're being told have to be taken away in order to be protected. After all, we can't have "freedom" unless we destroy the rest of the world first so they can't take it away from us instead.), if "Mohammed" or "Hussein" is one of your names you're automatically a terrorist, if you're a pacifist then you wanted the Civil War to never happen (And the film suggests that if not for a conservative rush to war, we'd all be happy slave owners today - downright mindboggling.), and when it comes to feminism? Women are all horrific butch shrews or clueless airheads unless you're fucking them.

In short? Everything intellectually honest, progressive, thoughtful, respectful of one another? All a bunch of evil liberal lies tearing this country down. Racism? Awesome. Women? Get down on your knees. The Middle East, even just in ethnicity? Git them terr'ists! Civil Liberties? We'll tell you what rights you can have! By the way, the second amendment's far more important than the first. Homosexuality? An abomination against god! Not voting Republican? Yer goin' to hell, boy! The Civil War? Justifies all war! We're the ones who ended slavery, not them damn lib'rulz! African Americans? We don't care about history! Shut up! Religion? There's only one true god and he's on OUR side! The environment? It's our planet and we can do whut we want to it to make money!

How do they deliver the important, enlightened, regressive message of neo-conservative talking points? Not through any sort of actual comedy, per se - just having historical figures played by a bunch of far right celebrities smacking the Michael Moore analogue around. He's made out to be nothing more than an effective terrorist himself, as the film childishly screeches that that's all leftists are - we only believe in not just tolerance, but embracing ethnic diversity, gun control, environmental protection, and things like higher education because apparently? We just hate freedom. We hate it a lot.

That's basically all their argument comes down to: "We don't like what you have to say or what you support in trying to make the world a better place, so we're going to make a movie where we beat you up and you somehow see the light as a result after lots of weepy time travel. Also you're fat and you stink, neener neener." It's hard not to take a look at the chickenhawk cast listing either and feel that most of these people probably should never work again - those who've lowered themselves to this dishonest cinematic trash that fails even as a low-brow comedy. Zucker went from Airplane! to a veritable airplane wreck of an end to his career with his more recent films. And many people were cast in the film - like country singer Trace Adkins - who had no place acting to begin with. (But of course you'd almost expect to see a far-right-wing ultra-"patriotic" country star in a film like this, wouldn't you? It's reality living up to stereotypes.) Even Bill O'Reilly had a bit part. And there's no measure of brilliance in a project quite like getting Bill O'Reilly involved - he has one of those no-spin zones and everything! (Last time I checked, though? There seemed to be an awful lot of spin in that particular zone. I guess he broke it somewhere along the way. This is why we can't have nice things.)

The funniest thing about the film itself is its actual claim to be a comedy, when most of it? Soppy one-dimensional attacks on "the liberals," asking without a sense of irony, "Why do they hate our freedom?" Malone gets smacked around on ground zero after September 11th as the film tells you "They've forgotten 9/11! Remember 9/11! Never forget it! Learn nothing from it!" and also "All wars are justified - always. So long as there's a Republican in charge, anyway. Stop asking questions." At its core, again, it's nothing but neo-conservative masturbation and whining about Michael Moore cloaked with a painful amount of melodrama and oversentimentality - comparable to all those exploitative "9/11" CDs conservative country musicians put out in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks.

When the film bombed at the box office? There could only have been one reason, they proclaimed - liberal sabotage. Yes, apparently there was a vast liberal theater conspiracy to make the film fail. That's the only plausible explanation as to why the conservative Disaster Movie/Meet the Spartans could have tanked in theaters. (It's almost as if Americans aren't stupid enough to buy into this shit, and that most of us don't live in the alternative neo-conservative reality! Fancy that.)

Naturally, when the film outdid Religulous on its first weekend, the angry neo-con crowd on the IMDB tried to herald it as some sort of great victory - despite the fact that the film actually opened on far less screens and did better in terms of how many people actually saw the film per screen. (And before too long, Religulous still made more at the box office despite An American Carol opening in three times as many theaters.) Of course, when An American Carol was poorly received and did poorly overall in theaters, they had to start shouting about a "liberal conspiracy" to keep films like that down. (Not unlike the one we saw over Ben Stein's intellectually dishonest Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed back in April.) But however you look at it, they're completely different films with completely different messages - An American Carol is pure, mindless neo-conservative masturbation desperately masquerading as a comedy when it isn't remotely funny, and there's no deep hidden truths revealed by its disgusting attempts at satire. (As such, it's effectively the opposite of satire, railing against the truth and anyone remotely progressive and acting in the name of the greater good for the American people, in the name of invoking 9/11 (Which, like Nazism's Godwin's Law, could really use a describing law of its own at this point.) to justify everything the neo-conservatives have done in tearing this country and the world down these past eight years while attacking those who stand against them as "anti-America." (Just as Sarah Palin outright has in recent public addresses.)

As for Religulous, it pretty much comes down to whether or not you like Bill Maher's approach to humor - I agree with his take on things myself, but I'm not exactly one of those aggressive atheists who spends all their time railing on religion. Religion can be a positive force, depending on how someone shapes themselves with their faith. More often than not, it seems like it isn't - those using religion and religious ideas for negative aspirations, oppression, and hate seem to be much louder than those who simply take away the importance of love, acceptance, and understanding of one another in life from religion. And while Maher is rather harsh on those who are religious, there's something to value in the spirit of his film - the importance of questioning things, as especially in the west, religion is more often than not simply something people are brought up with that they're taught not to question, but simply to accept as some deep universal truth without so much as one iota of actual evidence behind it. But that's faith right there - to accept something unquestioningly without proof. It's in that that faith itself can be dangerous, when people feel the need to define the world as we know it by their faith and push everyone else to agree with their perceived "universal truth," their insecure need for the whole world to believe in their unprovable beliefs. An American Carol is angrily opposed to free-thinking, to opposing the status quo established by neo-conservatives - the film itself decries the truth more Americans are embracing now after eight years of the neo-cons wrecking the nation and getting tapped into the complexities of reality and the complexities of thought and philosophy required to exist in and understand the modern world and the challenges existing within it - especially as we try to make progress as a society. Likewise, Expelled focuses on attacking honest intellectualism by attempting to paint them as close-minded to serious intellectual possibilities and answers to the big questions, when Intelligent Design itself has failed to ever qualify as the serious scientific theory, being completely unfalsifiable. It fails in the basic scientific method, and this crowd wants it to be regarded as a scientific theory when it simply doesn't qualify - to degrade science, the objective, concrete search for the best answers we're actually capable of coming up with from what can be understood and known, in the name of pushing an oppressive, dishonest religious agenda.

Back on topic - in short, An American Carol is a portrait of American politics in pop culture at its most braindead and insulting - it's not satire, it's just neo-conservative elitism (Actual elitism - not the neo-con definition they bandy about where if you live in a city, like to partake in any sort of culture, support education and have pursued one yourself, and are in any way remotely left-leaning, you're somehow looking down your nose at the rest of society. Remember, kids! In the neo-conservative world, all good things are bad! We should all proudly live in squalor and go fight in wars for natural resources for ultra-powerful corporate and political entities while shouting cries of nationalistic pride as the rich get richer and we have no rights or national infrastructure! If you think? the terrorists win.), tooting the horn of proud ignorance - outright masquerading as a comedy from a washed-up director who hasn't been remotely relevant in decades. Of course he'd make a scene when the critics slammed it and nobody went to see it. Hell, given the choice between this and Beverly Hills Chihuahua? I'd go with the talking dogs too. (Not so much that crappy Max Payne video game adaptation from this past weekend, though. When will people learn? Video games do not make good movies.)

Stay tuned next week for my first full-on comedy piece in ages in this year's Halloween short story!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Conservative Satire II: "Women's Health? More like abortion parties!"

One week later and here we are. The final debate has come and gone. Did Obama win yet again, thusly achieving a clean sweep of the debates for the Obama/Biden ticket? I'd say "You bet your patootie he did," but that'd be cloyingly folksy in the same sense as Palin's performance in the vice presidential debate and all of her interviews. (Quick! Have her say something stupid and cute and hope that makes them stop asking questions!) Perhaps as choreographed and insulting as her "say it ain't so, Joe" moment at the debate weeks ago - it's hard not to see her asking Biden if she could call him Joe as having been a setup for that line. (Which sounded terribly unnatural in the context of the debate, having clearly been written beforehand (And whoever wrote it probably thought they were being clever. Wrong.) like everything else she said then.)

Anyway, not unlike the Republican candidate, the debate's paleolithic. (As in it ended nearly 6 hours ago as of my writing this. See how witty I am? Clearly I should be some sort of speech writer or televised pundit. They could ask me questions and I could tell them that no matter what, the Republicans won and the Democrats were clearly weak on everything. It's easy!) Obama was intelligent and level-headed as we'd come to expect, speaking to the American people as though we were all free-thinking adults (What an astonishing idea, eh, Republicans vying for the White House in recent years?) and answering all of Bob Schieffer's questions clearly. From McCain, we got more of the usual insistent distortions, finally throwing the low accusations his campaign ads make at Obama directly. (That was basically the theme of the debate for McCain - rattled as he and his campaign are, it was time to start aggressively attacking Obama while barely retaining his cool (Not something McCain's known for. Not a trait particularly desirable in someone seeking the highest office in the nation.) and throwing every misunderstanding and distortion in the book at him.)

First, there was the Nancy Reagan shout-out with which he opened - coming off as a politically calculated move (Not unlike his remark on Ted Kennedy having been hospitalized on the day of the first debate and stating that he was still in the hospital then, when he'd been released hours earlier and had publicly stated that he was looking forward to the debate that night.) and a general nod to the Reagan-worshiping crowd - an essential "Hey I'm like Reagan too, guys, remember? Remember, guys? Remember? I'm like Reagan! C'mon, vote for me! Coming to your senses like this isn't cool! Remember - Reagan!" (In yet another parenthetical, this is the part of the blog entry where I remind readers that yes, anything people go out of their way to say in a debate can be raked for political meaning - there's rarely anything said during debates like this that isn't calculated. Even wishing someone in the hospital well at that time of all times comes off as political maneuvering more than genuine sentiment. And we've seen McCain open with this in two of the three debates now.)

Economics came up as the first topic of debate - McCain once again declaring that the government should buy up everybody's bad mortgages, as unsound a plan as that is for economic recovery on many levels. (Also, we're supposed to freeze taxpayer spending on everything but the military and funnel all our taxes directly into the war coffers and military-industrial complex. In fact, they're intending to do a lot of other things with taxpayer money while also somehow freezing all non-military spending. Also, if the Republicans aren't cool with it? It's pork barrel spending! Like that horrible replacement projector for the Chicago planetarium, as McCain reminded us during the third debate. Spending government money on educational endeavors and public works like museums and planetariums is nothing short of communism! Clearly it's time facilities such as these all became companies and started focusing on the real American dream - making lots of money. And also not caring about anybody who makes less money than you do. Those people are bad. All of them. Terrible. How dare they try to imply you're not poor or middle class if you're making a quarter of a million dollars every year!? Everybody's doing at least that well, right? Damn those greedy liberals and their non-military spending!) Distortions were naturally, inevitably thrown out about Obama's tax plan - the usual Republican mantra about the Democrats scheming to raise taxes during this economic collapse, when under Obama's plan, 95% of Americans actually get tax breaks, while McCain's own plan favors the wealthy and sticks to the usual demonstrably false "trickle down" bullshit. (Remember, "spreading the wealth" is bad! It's our duty as Americans to cheer on our social stratification and ever-increasing class conflict as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer! If you're not rich, you probably deserve to be poor! Income should only be redistributed upwards! Like in recent years. Not the other way around.)

A mysterious "Joe the Plumber" came up as the debate's alternative to "Joe Six-Pack." (Neither of which sound like people you'd want running our government, of course, but don't tell that to the minority of people left who still believe they did the right thing in voting for Bush because "I'd like to have a beer with that man!" The whole "We stupid people can do a better job running this nation than smart people!" rhetoric it entails is pretty depressing, no matter how you look at it. And there's an ironic amount of elitism in it for all they accuse intellectuals of it. Only in America is intelligence now a negative trait for someone to possess. Thanks, neo-conservatives!) From the way he was brought up and used throughout the discussion? He could just as well have been a Republican plant. This average everyday working Joe was planning on buying the business he worked at, which brought in $250,000 a year. This is no small sum of money, as anyone who isn't ridiculously wealthy (See: McCain and the target audience of his definition of the middle class.) knows, and the general idea behind taxes? Paying proportionally - the more money you make, the bigger part of the burden you carry. (An evil liberal scheme, clearly, which extremely wealthy mavericks have had to thwart for great justice by off-shoring as many of their assets as possible and finding any tax loopholes they can to ensure that the burden remains squarely on the shoulders of the lower classes - as it once had the now mostly-gone middle class, which crumbled over the Bush administration years and its economic twists and turns.) And in a nation where employers value their employees? They provide healthcare. This "Joe the Plumber's" business (Decidedly less exciting than that of the Super Mario Bros.) concerns amounted to apparently not being so keen on providing quality healthcare for his employees under the Obama plan - let alone carrying his share of the tax burden as a very successful, wealthier business than most. "Joe the Plumber" was simply no more than a Republican meme (Which I somehow have the feeling we haven't heard the last of, at this point.) to try to prop up an "every day working middle class man" (Who could somehow afford to build a quarter-of-a-million-dollar business. Not exactly middle class.) as a fan of McCain's additional tax breaks for the rich and larger businesses. (Which he likes to call small businesses, while not really doing much to help actual small businesses, not unlike his own version of the "middle class," which isn't actually the middle class.) And as a future business owner who's very interested in slashing healthcare costs and benefits - a terrible trend in the working world in general, part of what's gotten us into this healthcare debacle to begin with - as opposed to doing his part to provide for his employees under Obama's far more effective healthcare plan. (Which also doesn't include taxing individuals for their healthcare benefits for the first time ever, as McCain's does.)

McCain threw out another claim that Obama had never voted against his party and reached across the aisle. Obama responded with three incidents in which he had. In a weak follow-up, McCain shouted that he wasn't Bush in an effort to distance himself again, saying that if Obama wanted to run against Bush, he should've run four years ago. Another rather open declaration of weakness, when McCain's own track record in the Bush years shows him to be very similar to our lame duck president - and he continues to stand by and support Bush, while many of his policies are little more than the continuation of Bush administration policies. (Not successful ones, either.) In short? "Shut up! I'm different!" The facts say otherwise, McCain.

Schieffer changed the subject to the nasty turns the campaigns had taken - McCain's advertising focusing largely on extreme distortions, outright lies, and fearmongering, while the Obama campaign attack ads at least generally have legitimate criticisms going for them. McCain immediately tried to turn the blame for the nasty campaign on Obama for his not agreeing to McCain's town hall meetings over the summer. (As though Obama had pointed a gun at him and forced his campaign to take that route for not going along with them. And for all the talk about those meetings, Obama handled last week's town hall debate far better than McCain did.) Then he went on to insist that he's running a "truthful campaign." (He's not. They can't win on the truth.) Then McCain proceeded to defend his rallies' attendees and attempted to write off those shouting hateful things as merely "the fringe," when that sort of behavior's only become more and more commonplace, and Palin especially has thrived on that sort of terrible behavior. McCain threw out his campaign's usual accusations that Obama's somehow best buddies with William Ayers - a former Man of the Year, professor, and strong community leader, hardly the active domestic terrorist that the McCain campaign's still trying to paint him as. McCain then went on to try to paint Obama's rallies as being just as violent and incendiary. (They're not at all. They lack the same violent and racist fuel that's been drawing so much attention to the Republican candidates' rallies as of late. For being such a tough POW though, apparently all it takes is a t-shirt or two to hurt McCain's feelings. Whaddaya know?) Then he went on to basically claim that Obama was plotting to steal the election with ACORN's help. Obama proceeded to dissect McCain's low blows by coming clean yet again on his relationship with Ayers and that he has nothing to do with his campaign or Obama himself in the White House. And the whole ACORN situation is just a matter of some ACORN employees committing fraud in order to collect a paid commission for their fake registries - not some deep-running Democratic scheme to steal the election from the Republicans. ACORN is actually working to purge all the fraudulent registered names now as well, ultimately failing as a latest campaign attack on the Democrats - ignoring the facts as usual, while they continue to backfire.

I chatted with a friend online while watching the debate, actually, and we couldn't help but muse that it would've only been more entertaining set to a Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (Gyakuten Saiban) DS game soundtrack every time Obama called McCain's bullshit, rattling McCain further. (Yes, we're huge nerds.)

The next topic was the suitability of their running mates for their roles, as well as for the presidency, should something happen. Obama was able to detail Joe Biden's qualifications quite effectively - Biden'll be a great VP, and should the unthinkable happen, he'd no doubt be a fine president too. McCain? Couldn't say too much in favor of Palin - while Obama avoided directly calling her unqualified, simply leaving it to the American people to decide - simply casting her as "someone America knows" (We know Obama by now. They've tried to shield Palin since day one, and the more we learn about her, the less people see her as even remotely qualified - as she isn't.), a role model for women (To call her that is an insult to women. As it was put well in a recent campaign poster parody Photoshop thread about Palin supporters on Something Awful, "Raped? Tough shit."), and a champion for special needs children and families. (Likely only because of her own kid, while McCain himself has a track record of fighting funding for special needs programs - somehow he's expecting us to believe he'll fit funding in now while also still only spending our tax dollars on the military.) Then McCain quickly shifted to the offensive and accused Biden of being "wrong on foreign policy," despite having more - and more valuable - experience than McCain. Biden's "wrong" because he has a better approach than McCain - who himself is open about stubbornly refusing to sit down with many foreign leaders. (Once again coloring the reality of McCain's politics in his attacks on Biden.)

On energy independence? The usual entirely unrealistic "Drill, baby, drill!" solution where we'll somehow magically find enough oil in our country to satisfy the rapid consumption. (When McCain undoubtedly won't even be alive when we see the effects of current offshore drilling, and it won't conveniently bring down the price of oil or help us achieve energy independence in any meaningful way like he and Republicans claim - it's just a handout to the oil industry in the interest of keeping America addicted.) The only other real solutions? Clean coal - going back to focusing on another fossil fuel we should be looking to leave in the past as well - and nuclear energy, which the American people are unlikely to ever trust, given its history. And in discussing trade agreements, McCain defiantly defended many of our morally questionable trade agreements that solely serve our interests and don't look out for the people in the countries we're trading with against Obama's reasonable criticisms. In regards to many of our trade agreements, we frankly aren't acting like a respectable first world nation - our interests being our sole interests, for all our professed concern for world affairs. (Which we only really see when we're looking to justify an invasion or bombings anyway.)

Then Schieffer brought up a big issue - abortion rights. And McCain went ahead and took his campaign to new lows, going from being purposefully openly unclear on his sentiments on the issue to attacking abortion and making his interest in overturning Roe v. Wade clear, while also taking up a snide attitude - absolutely brimming with contempt - to those who don't agree with him in his subscription to the Republican myth of a "pro-abortion" movement where somehow women enjoy getting pregnant and getting guilt-free abortions. He demonstrated his ignorance of the realities abortion and the importance of its legality - and in women's rights in general - as the option of a choice, with pregnancy in general not being a black and white issue as the so-called "pro-life" (In reality, simply anti-choice, as often as we see the "pro-life" crowd only truly concerned with "life" when it takes the form of an unwanted fertilized egg or fetus, or simply pushing for requiring the birth of a child even if it may be a danger to - and even potentially fatal to - the mother.) crowd prefers to. Apparently the whole notion of "women's health" is a farce in McCain's eyes (And valuing the health of the mother over the unborn child? An "extremist" position.), and women seriously wait until their pregnancy's far along before getting abortions and simply claim "health reasons." (When in reality, this very small percentage of abortions generally comes from pregnant women intending to have children, but ultimately having to terminate the pregnancy due to either serious defects in the fetus or serious health risks posed to the mother.) McCain came away from that moment looking like an outright clueless misogynist. Obama, on the other hand? Acknowledged the complicated situations in life that lead to the need for abortion, as well as the importance of comprehensive sex ed and birth control in focusing on reducing the number of unintended pregnancies. (And by proxy, abortions as well.)

In regards to education? Obama called for more funding, reform,and transparency - all things that the public school system could sorely use. McCain? Made it clear that he had no interest in investing in public education, like Bush, and was more than happy with the idea of more or less continuing to abandon it while focusing on charter schools and bringing back the Bush campaigns' dead, failed calls for private school vouchers. (It's high time these kids learned that it was Jesus who invented the lightbulb! And that it's full of god's light and magic!) Also apparently our troops should be coming home and going right to the classroom to teach! (Qualifications? Certifications? What're those?! We need to take our military-worship to whole new levels and treat our troops like they're genius superhuman American heroes qualified to do whatever they want, whenever they want! Make them jump through the same hoops as everyone else to educate them and assure they're actually qualified and capable in a field? You haven't been to WAR, have you?)

Following the debate - having watched it on NBC - Tom Brokaw noted how mocking McCain's tone had often been towards Obama throughout the debate. (Nothing new or unsurprising there.) And he also noted that neither candidate responded to Schieffer's call for them to go back to clean campaigning for the remainder of the election cycle. It's been noted online a number of times as well that McCain was openly snide throughout the debate, with his repeated compliments on Obama's skills as an orator, while ultimately using them to try to build up to painting him as nothing more than a "smooth talker." Despite the fact that Obama had more in the way of substance and actual concrete plans to address the problems we're facing as a nation. McCain had a bit of an interrupting problem throughout the debate as well - there were many times when he clearly didn't want Obama to finish what he had to say. Nothing in the way of respect there.

Debate season's finally over. I've definitely lost a few brain cells listening to McCain make some of the seriously deluded arguments he has. But in the least, he seems poised to lose the election by a potentially large margin. All I can say is - do the right thing, America. Prove, for once, that you're not as stupid as the rest of the world is convinced. This is the first major step we can take in redeeming ourselves and making good for the George W. Bush years, both to ourselves and the rest of the world.

(Also, yes, I know this entry was supposed to be the An American Carol one, but it ended up turning into final debate rambling. I did get even more movie mockery written though. That next entry will be posted later this week, I swear! Look forward to it in Conservative Satire Part III. (The last one.) And yes, I'm well aware of how rehashed this entry probably feels from the last one. Huzzah for clashes of the talking points.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Conservative Satire: It's Debatable

So, I haven't updated again in a while. Been busy with writing, gaming as usual, and of course, getting ready to start applications to several grad schools for next fall. Busy times, busy times. (At least, technically productive, by my standards.)

Going back after writing all of this - this entry's even longer than usual - consider this my big presidential election 2008/political season blog entry. I'll probably write some more, smaller political ones later on - before or after the election - but this is the big one. Savor it, if you like.

Do look forward to Part II of Conservative Satire later this week, though. (This post initially began as an intended evisceration of An American Carol, but obviously went somewhere else instead. I've got enough written on that terribly dishonest flick that I'll be completing that in my second Conservative Satire post in the next few days.)

I've been watching the debates, of course, like everybody else. (Yes, even the angry, self-proclaimed "enlightened" individuals 100% convinced that both the Democratic and Republican parties are absolutely the same in every way conceivable. Because it's a deep political epiphany that gives them the right to look down on the rest of us wacky beatniks who live in reality*.) But this entry isn't going to get into those too much - that's not what this one's about. (Though admittedly, I am including a great deal of general political commentary in this one, given the current events, that could be split up into several longer and more indepth entries. But just as I don't want to drown you in a deluge of video game entries and drive non-gamers off, I don't want to drown you in political rambling either. I'm part of the minority of open, unashamed political leftists in this country these days, and as anyone who's read this blog with any kind of regularity knows, I make no effort to hide this fact.)

With three of the four debates down, we've seen a lot of hyperbole and a lot of expectations raised each time the candidates get together to exchange words with their verbal-fists. McCain tried to duck out of the first presidential debate, not being ready to debate Obama and wanting to focus on his personal political posturing over the bailout. (Which ultimately isn't going to help things much in the grand scheme of things. For all the talk of hating big government and "pork barrel spending," he really wanted to make himself look like the "hero" of this economic crisis, somehow saving Wall Street - and all of America by proxy - through this bailout. Of course, once it was passed with additional tax breaks (Many of them aimed at the wealthy, in the Republicans' favor, and ultimately pushing more of the $700+ billion burden onto the shoulders of lower class Americans and the few remaining members of the middle class. (By which I DO actually mean the real middle class, as opposed to McCain and Palin's definition of "main street" - "rich, but not millionaire-rich.") McCain then went on to talk about the bailout on TV following its passing and came off rather schizophrenic - not unlike Gollum from Lord of the Rings, as was observed on the Daily Show - in his praising the bailout, and yet also reviling it.) With bailout money being wasted already (Why hello there, AIG.), and the bailout not coming with the vastly improved regulation it should have (And McCain himself has proudly tried to paint himself as a champion of deregulation in the past - for all his posturing on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac regulation attempts and the attacks on Democrats with it, they've tried to increase regulation before themselves and he's fought against it.), we're only going to continue to encourage this sort of activity and economic history will repeat. And not to the average citizen's benefit, since the bailout does little for most of us, when we need other help with all sorts of additional problems. (And after this bailout - which won't do anything to fix the financial industry's fundamental problems - McCain's domestic solution is to simply have the country bankrupt itself further by buying up bad mortgages at the tax payer's expense. Again, this same guy talks about cutting "pork barrel" spending, when he and Palin don't have a track record of that at all anyway - they go after perceived Democrat "pork barrel spending." Republican? Not so much. And of course, this same McCain has proposed we effectively freeze putting taxpayers' dollars into anything but the military and avoidable future wars he intends to start. Frankly, it's a good thing for both Americans and the world that chances of a McCain victory grow slimmer by the day.)

McCain pretty much defined the first debate by his refusal to look at or acknowledge Obama - despite Obama's efforts to engage McCain directly, as per moderator Jim Lehrer's request. He gave off the impression of being a grumpy old man who gave often deceitful answers - alongside the typical non-answers to - to various debate questions, and came off very arrogantly throughout. His big theme? "Obama doesn't understand." He made this claim many a time that night. Did he follow up that statement with anything that showed he understood the issues he was talking about? Of course not. (Especially in regards to Iraq, in which he seems to be living in a different reality from the rest of the world. There's no "war," there's no "honor and dignity." There's no "victory." There was an invasion. There's an occupation. There's lots of violence, dead insurgents, and dead civilians. And there's a massive part of the population now completely displaced. This is not "winning a war." (Nor "the surge working!") But our bitter old Vietnam vet doesn't get that. We got rid of Hussein, sure, but at a criminal cost. A ridiculous number of innocent men, women, and children have died as a result of our illegal invasion - as have many of our own soldiers who shouldn't have had to. And those who didn't? Still come home as screwed up as anyone else by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. And McCain? He's practically the poster boy PTSD presidential candidate.) Throughout the debate, Obama remained calm and collected, certainly coming off far more suited for the office than McCain, who at several points looked ready to start throwing punches.

In the second, just a couple of days ago, McCain went on to claim that he "knew" how to fix the economy, all the crises we're facing now, "win the war," and how to get Osama Bin Laden - as though it were that easy and he was just keeping his secret perfect solutions quiet all along. Did he share any of these solutions? Of course not. He just spouted further conjecture - as that's about all they've got this election, as low as they're sinking and as desperate as they're getting - but couldn't bring out any working concrete plans to accomplish what he claimed - the facts aren't on the Republicans' side this time, after all, so they've avoided those like the plague in the debates. It all just amounts to telling us that George W. Bush was right, and that continuing his policies - while slapping even worse ones on top of them - would change things and make them better. Americans aren't that stupid. (Most of us, anyway - and certainly not as many of us after these two terms of the George W. Bush presidency.) Obama was right to call out McCain's attempt to say he "didn't understand" the "war" in the debate - strongly countering it with his simply not understanding why we went to war with a nation that had nothing to do with the events of September 11th in the first place. Just as he was in calling McCain on his little "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" "joke," which even McCain couldn't defend. There's no excuse for saying something like that when running for president - these are people's lives, after all, and the Iranian people? Are not Ahmadinejad. Just as the Iraqi people were and are not Saddam Hussein. For all the bullshit talk of a "culture of life" in the Republican party (Essentially placing unborn fetuses and fertilized eggs above actual grown, living women and girls in terms of rights and protections - unwanted fetuses and fertilized eggs, no less. Bringing an unwanted child into the world is one of the cruelest things a human being can do - even worse is taking away someone's right to choose not to and attempt to force the birth of said children. (Especially given that banning abortion does not stop it or decrease its rate of occurrence, it simply raises the risk, turns it into a criminal act, and becomes quite likely to result in the mother's death. The "pro-life" community couldn't care less about the continued lives of pregnant women. They simply self-righteously believe all unwanted children should be forced to be born into this world. And that they're of the superior moral fiber to dictate this to others.)) they place no real value on the lives of ordinary people in other nations.

Even with McCain being hyped up by the media as being "in his element" and "assured victory" in tuesday's town hall meeting style debate, Obama defeated him handily. He didn't make underhanded jokes like McCain - the future of this country is no joke, especially in the unstable time we're living in - and he didn't falter under outright lies and distortions told throughout the debate. (As his ads are now full of - they're down to fear mongering. They keep asking us, "Who is Barack Obama?" With Obama and his family having been publicly vetted for the presidency for 20 months now, we know well who he is. The real question Americans want answered? "Who the fuck is Sarah Palin?" From the looks of things, she's a massive crook who doesn't take her job seriously, believes everyone should keep their rape and incest babies, and thinks she can win us over with smarmy winks and patronizing "folksy" speech. Like we're voting for who should organize a local bake sale instead of who should occupy the second highest office in the nation with the first occupied by our oldest potential president - and one far more at risk of death in office than most.) Likewise, Obama was victorious in the first debate as well, holding his own under pressure far better than McCain, and giving us far more concrete answers, speaking of policy that would actually help this nation start to pull itself out of the Republican neo-conservative sinkhole it's been drowning in for years now.

McCain and Palin can't win on issues. They know this. So this is what it's come to. Stepping up the lies, stepping up the distortions, spitting on the American people and democracy itself in their desperation. Are they fond of the freedom of the press? Oh no, of course not. If the media dares to report anything that doesn't make the Republicans look good, accusations of a horrific left-wing bias fly. This same media is afraid to report, on the whole, that the Democrats have been winning the debates this year. It's never worse than a tie for the Republicans, as if they insinuate that they didn't at least tie, the mud comes flying. The mainstream media is broken and controlled by corporate interests, sure - but their bias is anything but left-wing, let alone "liberal." Freedom of the press is crucial in order to maintain an informed populace. An intelligent, informed populace is necessary for democracy to sustain itself. The conservatives have strangled the freedom of the press and fostered a climate of anti-intellectualism in this nation - when someone like Sarah Palin is a serious potential vice president, when in America, being intelligent is a bad thing and only met with reactions of "You think you're better than me?! I'm better than you because I'm ignorant and proud of it! And I want someone just like me in power!" we're in deep, deep shit as a nation. If you read that article, who do we see Palin and the McCain campaign calling on and riling up? Bigots. There was blatant, open racism present at that Ft. Myers rally in Florida - both in who was targeted in the harassment of the press and reactions to the very dangerous accusations the campaign is throwing in attempting to link Obama to terrorism. (When it says something - especially in that capacity - if William Ayers was the best skeleton they could come up with in Obama's closet. An acquaintance, no less.) Yes, these people are among the demographics this campaign represents - to America's racists, a victory over African Americans. And no doubt in their hopes and dreams, steps towards the days they've dreamed of when the racism this nation still bubbles with becomes something to acceptably express openly as simply one's "opinion," unquestionable by others - held in esteem like politics and religion. (Though mostly if you're conservative and love you some of that Jesus guy - in the sense that the Jesus-dude totally loves tax cuts for the rich, drives a Hummer, and wasn't in any capacity Jewish.) These are just some of the many reasons why we can't afford a McCain/Palin victory - and why they're already well on their way to a loss. (Potentially by a relative landslide if things keep heading in the direction they are.)

The Biden/Palin vice presidential debate's barely worth noting in how one-sided it was. Palin had a set of talking points on note cards to stick to - she was incoherent and spouted a bunch of insulting "folksy" bullshit whenever she went off her script, and openly admitted from the beginning when Gwen Ifill opened the debate that she had no intention of answering the questions so much as simply saying what she was sent there to say. This is - again - insulting both to the intelligence of Americans, but to the very notion of functioning democracy as a whole. A surefire sign of how far the Republican party as sunk, and how badly we need to get these ridiculously far right conservatives out of power and start shifting back towards the center as a nation - perhaps even someday get enough of a left-wing voice in the government to make some progress, maybe legislate some additional protection for abortion rights, get the minimum wage up to a living wage, allow same sex couples to marry, actually start restructuring our mixed economy so that its more socialistic elements favor the common man and workers instead of corporate interests, perhaps even get off oil entirely and switch over to alternative energy - solar and wind in particular, things that don't wreck the planet - y'know, sane stuff like much of the rest of the world has been focusing on that we politicize to death and call a "bunch of liberal hippie tree-hugging bullshit" here in America. (Since there's no "truth," it's all just partisan bickering with no meaningful political exchange or discourse. I'd say we're like a bunch of squabbling monkeys, but frankly, that'd be giving us too much credit - monkeys deserve more respect than that.) While Palin was busy making "maverick" into a synonym for "neo-con sycophant" and trying to convince America that she's from "main street" in being part of the McCain campaign's ridiculous definition of "middle class," Biden reminded us who had far more common roots - as both he and Obama did - and easily countered everything she said. She didn't actually debate him at all, as that would've entailed going off-script, so she simply continued to regurgitate talking points, while helping to encourage the conservative media to accuse him of "focusing too much on the past," when the reality of things is that if we don't, we're never going to learn from the past. And McCain and Palin are together promising four more years of George W. Bush policies and worse. The past is no friend to neo-conservatives. Reagan's much-beloved "trickle down" economic policies (Reaganomics!) are demonstrably faulty and only lead to increased stratification as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. And Teddy Roosevelt? While he gets called on and praised too, he was an outright progressive compared to today's Republicans.

Anyway, thus concludes my first set of rambling on the debates and the disgusting conduct on the right as we barrel towards election day. Stay tuned for more politically charged (Hopefully more humorous, rather than just attempted bitingly writing, as there's been a shortage of that in here in recent months, I know.) posts! As well as hopefully some other posts on a variety of subjects again like once drew more readers in the past, haha. (And yes, additional video gaming ones are inevitable as well. I'm actually involved in a game project now that will eventually be released on a smaller platform as a pay download, which I'll start promoting more in time when it nears release - it's still in the relatively early stages of design at this point. But yes, I will indeed soon enough be not only a professional published writer (Hopefully that story will go up on the Raleigh Quarterly site with the second issue sometime this month.), but someone who has done actual writing and design work in the video game industry as well! Huzzah!)

*By "reality," I do in fact mean actual reality, as in the world around us, as opposed to the poorly constructed realities inhabited by the crowd that considers An American Carol to be an "A+" work of "truth-filled" cinema, those who believe there's some deep dark "liberal agenda" trying to destroy them personally by pointing out that bigotry really isn't cool, and in many of my own peers' cases, simply "turned Republican because I can't stand listening to those goddamn lib'rulz." (These individuals are the sorts we've also seen trying to argue that the Democratic party is full of socialists and communists when the party is, on the whole, very much center-right, as opposed to where the Republicans are now - dangerously far right. As a result, are we making actual progress in this nation? Of course not.)