Sarah’s Sapphic Slander

•September 5, 2008 • 1 Comment

Sarah Palin. If you haven’t heard of her by now, you are either a hermit in the backwoods of Vermont, or dead. As the VP choice for Republican presidential nominee John McCain, Palin and her complicated family have been plastered on television screens, newspaper pages and magazine covers for the past few weeks. Touted by her party as the breath of fresh air needed to pull in fence-sitters (and Hillary supporters), Americans are now seeing the Alaskan governor for what she is rather than what she and the Republicans claim her to be: an anti-Feminist uber-Conservative who, if McCain is elected, will take women’s rights back half a century.

Despite being a self-proclaimed Feminist, Palin’s stances on key issues like abortion and sex education say otherwise.

Palin’s oldest daughter, Bristol, has now been thrust into the political limelight as the poster child for what happens when your mother becomes a vice presidential candidate with intentions of overturning Roe v. Wade. Had McCain not chosen Palin as his VP, it is possible that Bristol would not be on her way to becoming a wife at the ripe age of seventeen. But her mother, who stands for ethics and family values, cannot have an illigitimate grandchild when she’s touring the country as our potential vice president (or president should McCain drop dead in office – not an unlikely possibility).

Perhaps the pregnant teen would not be an issue at all if her mother promoted sex education, but no. As a devout evangelical Protestant, Palin does not approve of contraception, nor in educating children about anything other than abstinence. Even though absintence-only education programs have been proven to fail time and time again as a method to stop teen pregnancy, Palin and the majority of her party hold tight to this stance. Being a woman who bears the brunt of the situation should a pregnancy come about, it is unfortunate that Palin remains anti-sex education.

Both stances can be seen as anti-female on several counts. Considering that women in politics, specifically national politics, are the faces of American women both here and overseas, Palin represents a detriment to the rights the majority of us have been fighting for for decades. Should McCain be elected, it is possible that our right to choose will be taken from us, and abstinence-only education will proliferate into more and more schools, only serving to multiply the amount of unwanted teen pregnancies annually. How is this a Feminist approach to government?

Do we really want the first woman VP to be a woman with a small amount of political experience on a state level, none on a national level, whose claim to fame might be the beauty pageant she placed second in in high school? Pardon me if I am wrong, but I thought the glitzy, air-headed visage of a pageant queen is exactly what women are trying to rid themselves of in order to be taken seriously, especially in the political arena. Palin is bringing it back on a national stage, however, showing the country and, perhaps, the world that a pretty face lacks what it takes to lead with the so-called “Big Boys”. Like I said, another step back for the Feminists.

Whether or not McCain is voted into office, bringing Palin with him, this November, the damage to a large extent has already been rendered.

Crossing Lines

•May 30, 2008 • 1 Comment

It is quite apparent that the times are changing…quickly. Almost every area of life in the United States and, indeed, the rest of the globe, is being negatively affected by so many factors it is difficult to keep up with all of them.

There are earthquakes and tornadoes in places they’ve never have before – Colorado, China, Iceland, Virginia. The polar bears are now on the endangered species list with the cause labeled as “Global Warming.” There are warnings for people not to leave their homes in Beijing many days of the year due to smog and air pollution. Why the summer Olympics are taking place there is a mystery to me.

The transportation industry, particularly concerning flight, is losing substantial sums due to a lack of travel. Why? Gas prices have soared, most likely to ill-will with America in the Middle East, and people are drastically changing their ways of life.

Food is becoming scarce in Third World Countries, over-population and an attempt to make alternate fuel from corn leading to starvation and cases of malnutrition for millions.

The economy in America is in so much distress that potential immigrants are rethinking their decision to come to the country for the first time in the nation’s history. The dollar is weaker than most of us can ever remember it being. People are being laid off from their jobs left and right. Making ends meet is becoming harder by the day for most of the U.S.; the older generations are starting to feel like they did 90 years ago or so when the Great Depression was sneaking up on them.

Meanwhile, Western society is being brainwashed to believe that skin bronzers, cellulite removal, breast implants, and diet regimes are what is most important and what you should spend your tax rebate on – if you can even afford anything with the slim sum the President is giving out to somehow miraculously stimulate the economy.

And don’t forget, there are Muslim extremists to be wary of, many of whom are indoctrinating the next generation with hate towards the West and all we represent.

This all amounts to what should be great fear for all of us. What are we doing to our world? What are our leaders doing to remedy these terrifying truths? The more I read, the more I see news of disaster, woe and all-together negative foreboding for the future. When are we going to start finding remedies to all of the aforementioned problems instead of maintaining are ever-so-American form of denial?

Into the Tank, Not the Stomach

•May 6, 2008 • 1 Comment

I’m angry. I am disgruntled over the fact that people are starving, in America and abroad, and we are knowingly taking millions of acres of food and putting them into our gas tanks. The food is corn, the fuel is ethanol. The idea is to off-set our carbon emissions with a more ecological means to run our vehicles. The truth? Ethanol has the potential to emit as much or more carbon than gasoline – and people are still starving to death.

These facts become clear when reading Steven Mufson’s Washington Post article from April 30 entitled ‘Siphoning off corn to fuel our cars.’ Mufson writes, “Across the country, ethanol plants are swallowing more and more of the nation’s corn crop. This year, about a quarter of U.S. corn will go to feeding ethanol plants instead of poultry or livestock.” And you can sure as Hell bet that the mammals you reign at the top of the food chain are not seeing these food stuffs either.

According to a study in Science magazine that Mufson quotes, “greenhouse-gas emissions from corn and even cellulosic ethanol ‘exceed or match those from fossil fuels and therefore produce no greenhouse benefits.’ By encouraging an expansion of acreage, the study added, the use of U.S. cropland for ethanol could make climate conditions dramatically worse.” Hmm…so much for the bio-fuel remedy for a healthier planet.

With new research revealing such findings, it is a wonder that farmers are not heeding the advice by rerouting their destinations for their wares. Instead of sending them to the plants responsible for turning corn into fuel, they should be selling more as food in America as well as abroad to those who are in the midst of a troubling food shortage. Sure, there is Don Endres, chief executive of the VeraSun Energy company, who claims that “the corn used to make ethanol isn’t the kind people eat anyway,” according to Mifson. However, the land producing this so-called inedible corn could be used to GROW the types that ARE edible.

Here’s my simple answer: use the corn to feed the poultry and cattle, the Americans, Africans and Asians who need it most; then, bring back the electric car, which solves the fuel dilemma completely. What do you know! A solution for all parties!

A girl can dream, right?

Sadness on Earth Day

•April 22, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I’m scared. I’m sad. I am incredibly concerned about this planet. On the eve of Earth Day last night I was hit over the head with the news that gas has reached $118 a barrel, that food prices are doubling and tripling worldwide, that rice is being hoarded and rationed globally (mainly in the East), and that our attempts at curbing the production of non-recyclable plastics with corn-based products are adding to hunger and starvation of millions. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO OUR PLANET?

Today on bbc.com, there is a discussion from every corner of the world about the rising prices people are either forking out for sustenance, or choosing to do without because they cannot afford it. “The price of food in Nigeria – especially grain and cereal – has tripled. This has put the average Nigerian in a precarious situation of either having to buy staple food at an unusually high price, or foregoing it altogether,” said Madukolu Tobechukwu of Nigeria.

“The prices of dairy products have doubled in the last nine months. The cost of bread, poultry and meat have also increased. Many households are experiencing difficulties in providing good and healthy food for the family table due to the increases in prices of fruit and vegetables,” Robert Busnac of Waihi, New Zealand wrote. “Finally fuel prices are spiralling adding to the already heavy burden. I think bad times are coming and it’s up to ourselves to grow food in our gardens and learn to live in a more environmentally friendly way.”

Both of the aforementioned are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of those whose suffering is getting worse day by day. While Westerners may not have felt the effects of global warming and the overall raping of our resources over the past few decades, we sure are now. At the gas pump and now at our supermarkets. And one thing is for sure, these are not problems that are going away any time soon.

One big issue is that one problem is aiding the other. The need for alternative fuel sources has given way to bio-fuel. Unfortunately, using corn and other natural means to make fuel is taking potential food sources away from the mouths of the hungry and into our gas tanks.

Catulo Perrucho of Toronto, Canada speaks my own frustration when writing, “These BIOFUELS ‘crops’ are a disgrace for HUMAN KIND – 30% of MAIZE production in USA for ‘fuel’? SHAME ON YOU! Feed the world’s hungry, please!”

Millions of dollars every five minutes are going into the war in Iraq. Thousands of women are undergoing elective breast augmentation surgeries every month. Americans are spending absurd amounts of money essentially killing themselves on cigarettes annually. Why can we not take a step back to reevaluate and realize that this money could CURE WORLD HUNGER if we put it in the right place? Why are we at war when our planet is dying and our people are living over the edge of poverty?

It boggles my mind.

Instead of ranting and raving for the remainder of this post, I will leave you with the following disturbing statistics as portrayed by artist Chris Jordan:

Plastic Cups

One million plastic cups, the number used on airline flights in the US every six hours.

32,000 Barbies, equal to the number of elective breast augmentation surgeries performed monthly in the US in 2006.

Two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes.

200,000 packs of cigarettes, equal to the number of Americans who die from cigarette smoking every six months.

8 million toothpicks, equal to the number of trees harvested in the US every month to make the paper for mail order catalogs.

11,000 jet trails, equal to the number of commercial flights in the US every eight hours.

426,000 cell phones, equal to the number of cell phones retired in the US every day.

106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the US every thirty seconds.

410,000 paper cups, equal to the number of disposable hot-beverage paper cups used in the US every fifteen minutes.

60,000 plastic bags, the number used in the US every five seconds.

30,000 reams of office paper, or 15 million sheets, equal to the amount of office paper used in the US every five minutes.

125,000 one-hundred dollar bills ($12.5 million), the amount our government spends every hour on the war in Iraq.

Makes you think, doesn’t it? For more, check this out: http://www.chrisjordan.com/current_set2.php

HAPPY EARTH DAY 2008

The Evolution of Political Affiliation

•March 24, 2008 • 1 Comment

There have been independently-registered Americans since political party registration was first instituted; only now, however, are slews of disenchanted citizens becoming increasingly affiliated as such. Now, with a presidential election pending, the top Democratic candidates are catering to the unaffiliated and, more often that not, Barack Obama is their candidate of choice, seen as the great unifier of our country.
The evolution of the unaffiliated voter showed up on media radar around the 2004 race for the White House between candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry. Bush had already begun to frustrate Americans half-way through his two terms as President, causing prior supporters to turn their support toward other candidates and parties. Now, coming up on the 2008 election, numbers are showing that the trend is happening again, gaining more momentum than four years ago.
Quoting New York’s mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, in a New York Times op-ed at the end of February, “In the weeks and months ahead, I will continue to work to steer the national conversation away from partisanship and toward unity; away from ideology and toward common sense; away from sound bites and toward substance…If a candidate takes an independent, nonpartisan approach – and embraces practical solutions that challenge party orthodoxy – I’ll join others in helping that candidate win the White House.”

Bloomberg voices the thoughts of many Americans with those words, the nation growing weary of a two-party system that has not truly represented the majority of the country for many years now, if ever.
According to a study by the American Political Science Association (APSA) entitled, “American Democracy in an Age of Rising Inequality,” “The privileged participate more than others [in government] and are increasingly well organized to press their demands on the government. Public officials, in turn, are much more responsive to the privileged than to average citizens and the least affluent.” This is a matter of great concern that presents a problem for the unheard majority – how do we get our issues heard if we are not in the top 5% of wealthy Americans who are and always have been represented by government officials throughout American history?
Now in a time of economic recession and, I predict, decline, middle and lower-class Americans are hurting in their wallets. The APSA study explains, “Unequal economic outcomes are seen as largely reflecting differences among individuals rather than flaws in the economic system.” The flaw of this logic comes from the fact that impoverished Americans rarely, if ever, pull themselves out of their monetary earning bracket to become middle-class Americans, regardless of individual skill or talent. The underdogs in this country will more often than not remain underdogs their entire life, and the government accepts this instead of helping out their citizens who need it most.

What complicates the matter is the fact that voter turn-out is almost always represented by middle to upper-class Americans, even though the lower classes tend to have more at stake in the election process. There has been a report gracing news stations recently regarding the number of Americans in prison right now, averaging about 1 out of every 100 citizens. Not only is this statistic disconcertingly high, but it poses a voting issue. As the aforementioned study writes, “[P]art of the decline in voting since the early 1970s results from laws in many states that forbid former (as well as current) prisoners from voting, sometimes for their entire lives. Millions of Americans, especially minority men, have been excluded from basic participation in our democracy by such laws.” By far, the prisons are filled with lower-class citizens who are not only being unfairly brought to justice in some circumstances (based on racism and the like), but their right to act as citizens once they return to society is being taken from them as well.
These large groups of Americans – ex-prisoners and lower-class individuals – have already figured out that their votes do not count and/or do not make a difference, causing drops in voter turn-out among them, regardless of the candidates they are able to choose among. Going back to the study, “The problem today is that this mechanism for a broad and inclusive democracy – political parties – caters to some of the same narrow segments of American society that also disproportionately deploy interest groups on their behalf. Advantage begets additional advantage.” I could not have put it better myself. In other words, those with the most on the line to lose or gain in any election are being disenfranchised by their economic status.

Another way to look at the current state of voting in the country is that it negates the self-proposed democracy we supposedly live in. The simple answer to the question of what a democracy is might be a government of the people, for the people in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or their elected agents under a free electoral system; a society with formal equality of rights and privileges. Looking at America through a magnifying glass, equality is not always revealed. There are great disparities in income and wealth among the classes; there are gaps within races, ethnicities, genders, and sexualities; and power remains in the hands of the few, not the majority. “If disparities of participation and influence become further entrenched – and if average citizens give up on democratic government – unequal citizenship could take on a life of its own, weakening American democracy for a long time to come,” concludes the APSA study. The time has come; changes in the system must be brought about now.
American citizens have already silently announced their desires for change in their voter registration. Now more than ever before are voters registering as undeclared, unaffiliated or independent; many are only registering with a party when voting in a primary/caucus requires so. According to a Washington Post article from 2004 entitled, “Moving On: More Voters Are Steering Away from Party Labels,” “Through the first half of the 20th century…one party or the other tended to monopolize power as straight-ticket voting was the norm.” Now, however, we see a rise of the unaffiliated and the non-bipartisan.

The current presidential candidate who purports just that is by and large Illinois Senator Barack Obama. He is being hailed as a potential unifying factor for the country in a time when just such is needed. As is stipulated by Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times in his Jan. 6, 2008 article, “In This Race, Independents Are the Prize,” “Mr. Obama, Democrat of Illinois, implored voters here [New Hampshire] Saturday ‘to come together as Democrats and Republicans and independents and say that we are one nation, we are one people and our time for change has come in 2008.’” From the out-start of his campaign, Obama has been speaking to all parties, not just the Dems, unlike candidates Clinton and McCain – although both have since taken a note from his book, starting to do the same.
This tactic on behalf of Obama has worked. Zeleny writes, “Almost two-thirds of undeclared voters, who can vote in either primary, planned to choose the Democratic primary, according to the most recent CNN/WMUR poll. Those who were planning to vote Democratic divided 34 percent for Mr. Obama and 29 percent for Mrs. Clinton.”
To be sure, the race is still in its early stages and many changes will no doubt occur over the next 8 some-odd months prior to November elections. Suffice to say, nonetheless, that Obama is continuing to gain momentum across party lines, especially with this past week’s speech on race that is already being hailed as historic. Although the premise of his speech was founded in skin color, he speaks to all the differences between American citizens, calling for these to be seen as factors to bring us together as opposed to setting us apart. “[W]e may have different stories, but we hold common hopes,” he reminds us. “[W]e may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren.”

Indeed, Obama has hit the nail on the head in my opinion. When we close our eyes at the end of the day, what do each and every one of us hope for? Job and finance security. A safe and healthy environment for ourselves and our loved ones. An opportunity for education. Differentiating between this presidential race and those that have come before, Obama proclaims, “This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.” If we stop competing with our fellow citizens and move our focus to the big businesses who greedily rake in billions annually by out-sourcing, or the oil companies that are ratcheting up gas prices to maintain their own financial excesses, change can come.
In Obama’s words, “Yes we can!”

Cosmetic Surgery: Why? Why? Why?

•March 3, 2008 • 5 Comments

Let me begin by saying I am not against to all forms of cosmetic surgery – only those that are elected by patients that merely serves the purpose of changing their appearance for no medical reason. This multi-million dollar industry greatly irritates, infuriates and sickens me on a daily basis when all I can do is compare the money spent on needless medical procedures to the millions of people starving to death all over the world.

There are many reasons to elect for plastic surgery. The reasons that have no medical founding are almost completely done in an attempt to look younger. Americans have an obsession with smooth, flawless skin, big breasts, flat stomachs, and full heads of hair among other fixations. This is fairly unique to our society when compared to other parts of the world.

Take Africa for example. Living there for 3 months, I have a first-hand account of the way age is seen there and it opposes America completely. The elderly village members in Africa are treated with the utmost respect, and are considered the wisest of all villagers. They are sought out for advice from all, and their word is always heeded. Growing old is a right that is granted, and Africans grow old with pride and dignity.

Why do Americans view aging as a disease to be avoided at all costs (literally)? Think of what the money we spend each year to look younger could buy! I heard a statistic several years ago regarding the make-up industry. If everyone in America stopped buying make-up for a year, the money that would have been spent could cure poverty. Although I have not found any research to support this, suffice to say that millions of dollars would be saved and could be put to much better use than to paint our faces.

We’ve all seen plastic surgery queens like Joan Rivers and the like, spewing the pros of the industry while looking like someone made her face out of papier-mache.  I won’t even go near the topic of Michael Jackson. It boggles my mind. Why can’t we accept ourselves for who we are? Why not spend some of that money on talk-therapy instead? No matter how many boob and nose jobs one gets, your internal sense of self will not be altered until you get a healthy mentality in place. If you don’t and just keep having surgery to make you feel better, you’re never going to reach that goal of happiness. It’s a lot less superficial than that.

In a perfect world, we’d all love ourselves for who we are, faults, flaws and all. I am not deluded enough to think this is possible. I personally know that’s a lot harder to achieve than merely saying so. But we need to find methods that don’t alter ourselves physically to the point of destruction. Let’s put that money to use in other ways. Take those thousands you’ve saved for the perfect butt, and give them to a charity, or go to South America for a couple of weeks to volunteer – I assure you, you will feel just as good about yourself if not better for doing so.

Survey: American Politics

•February 28, 2008 • 1 Comment

Hello all,

I have put together a short survey that I would greatly appreciate you taking the time to respond to in the comments section of this blogpost. My intention is to quantify and qualify as many responses as possible for an essay/documentary on the evolution of American politics regarding the ever-changing party dichotomy of Republicans and Democrats. Here are the questions:

1. Hometown/State:

2. Age:

3. Which political party do you associate with?

4. Which political party are you registered with, if any?

5. Has your affiliation changed during the 2008 presidential primaries/caucuses?

6. If so, why?

7. Did you vote in a presidential primary/caucus or will you?

8. If not, why not?

9. What are the most important issues to you when choosing a candidate to support?

10. Will you vote in the presidential election in November?

11. If not, why not?

Thank you ahead of time for participating. I greatly appreciate it from every one of you.

Regards,

Alison Walkley