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.)

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