Inhumane Humanity

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed. --Herman Melville

Sunday, November 09, 2014

YOU DIDN'T VOTE? KEEP YOUR COMPLAINTS TO YOURSELF!

Didn't Vote?  Keep your hands complaints to yourself!



In the latest congressional flip, fourteen incumbent Democrats lost their seats to GOP challengers.

While it was not quite the clean-out I personally expected, it’s certainly a statement once again, that the electorate is dissatisfied with a seriously dysfunctional Congress.  After congressional approval ratings reached all-time lows; as low as 9 percent in Nov 2013 and a dismally low average of 15 percent over the past forty three months, I’m a bit surprised more incumbents weren't  rousted from their warm, cushy seats.


Trend: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job?

These statistics don’t tell the entire story however.  Hidden in those numbers is a picture of electorate apathy and disenfranchisement that has haunted the US for decades.

These two numbers tell the rest; the rapidly increasing and now substantial majority of voters who refuse to be pigeon-holed into partisan dogma, the “independents” at 42 percent (compared to 25 percent GOP and 31 percent Democrats), and those who have simply given up on the process entirely. 

Some 59.7 million eligible voters in the country aren’t even registered to vote.

While 42 percent of the electorate now refuse to be pigeon-holed by partisanship, almost 30 percent of the eligible voter population have withdrawn entirely from our critically ill election process.

An excellent example of voter apathy lies in the story of Saira Blair, a very sharp 18-year-old GOP member who now holds a seat in the traditionally Democrat West Virginia House of Delegates.
Campaigning on a very conservative platform:
"It's time we stopped treating our citizens like terrorists and our terrorists like citizens," she says on her online issues statement. "I believe that life begins at conception ... I find it extremely hard to believe that given the choice any child would chose death over life, I know I certainly wouldn't."
A stellar example for the newest generation in the US, Ms. Blair has become the youngest politician in West Virginia history, and regardless of which side of the political aisle one resides, generous amounts of applause should be heaped upon Saira for her commitment, eagerness, aspirations, and most of all, her achievement.

Sadly, however, the rest of the nation doesn’t measure up, and her story exemplifies the election numbers of the entire nation.

The Sydney Morning Herald produced an interesting article about Ms. Blair, lauding her victory with 63 percent of the district’s vote.

Her victory is indeed impressive, especially considering her age and the fact that this is her first venture into the tough world of politics.  But, the impression is distorted, as are almost all election figures in the US.

In Australia, where voter participation rates hover around 81 percent, the author at the Herald may not understand the true significance of her 63 percent margin, a significance which stands out in a comparison of voter participation rates by country in 2012 wherein the US ranked last in a list of 58 countries.

Meanwhile, many in the US ignorantly boast; "we have the best democracy in the world.” Yet, 30 percent of the nation’s eligible voters aren’t even registered to vote, and of those who are registered, only 36.6 percent voted in the 2014 mid-term election.

An embarrassing 74 million out of the more than 206 million eligible voters, or 3 out of every 10, bothered to participate.

A dismal story indeed!

The district in which Ms. Blair was elected as a delegate to the West Virginia House, voter participation rates look very similar to those of the nation as a whole.  The district has a total of 18,000 registered voters and while no data on registered VS eligible voters by district are available, it’s likely the district will closely represent numbers similar to those of the state, or 37 percent of those eligible are registered.  An extrapolation gives us 48,649 eligible voters in Ms. Blair’s 59th District.

As awesome as her achievements are, Ms. Blair is now faced with governing her district from which 4994 votes of 48,649 eligible voters cast their votes, or 10 percent of her district’s constituents.

This is very concerning to me, for as much as we deride politicians, the job, if taken seriously and performed with integrity, isn’t an easy nine to five at Mc D’s.  I ask; just how difficult is that job going to be for such a hopeful youngster?  How disenchanted is she going to become if her first step is met with disillusioned and dissatisfied voters?  For, while 90 percent of them didn’t bother to vote, all will surely complain about her efforts.

The best of luck to Ms. Blair.

Friday, October 31, 2014

THE POLARIZED YOU AND ME

Image courtesy Wealthy Choices Network
There’s a huge problem with mainstream media today; we all know that. We're pummeled by influence-peddling in every mainstream media outlet in the nation.  So much so we can no longer trust, with even a modicum of certainty, what we’re reading.

You shouldn't even read and blindly accept what I'm writing here.

Yet, in our quest for alternatives, scrutiny takes on a whole new depth, for the “blurred” lines of the mainstream media are completely non-existent in the alternate universe of the Net.  In fact, it's clear that anyone can say just about anything their misguided little brains can conjure up.

Such vile, polarizing "reporting" can be found here in an article at Breitbart.

In less than five minutes, any reasonably intelligent individual can conduct a simple review of both the cafe and endowment program mentioned in the article.  Yet sadly, viewing the ensuing comments on the page, it becomes abundantly clear that few bother.

The blog has but one intent which is utterly impossible to miss; pure politically motivated horseshit, written at the expense of all credibility, sacrificing reader confidence in a lame attempt to defame John Kerry and his wife.

Politics as usual!

Manipulation of information in this manner, be it via blogs or mainstream media outlets, damages not only reader credibility, but the good reputation of Conflict Cafe and the contribution they in fact make to their community; and for what gain?

From Conflict Café’s Webpage:
"Each Conflict Kitchen iteration is augmented by events, performances, and discussions that seek to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within the focus country. The restaurant rotates identities every few months in relation to current geopolitical events."

Enclosing their meals in wrappers printed with quotes/statements from those living within the various highlighted cultures sparks discussions and debates.  In doing so, the cafe is light years beyond simply serving authentic ethnic cuisine.  Conflict Cafe uses the atmosphere and food to create outstanding educational opportunities through experiencing cultural diversity in personal interactions and food alike.

Extraordinarily popular in the Pittsburgh community, the restaurant has received rave reviews from many mainstream and alternative media outlets alike, including NBC, LA Times, Christian Monitor, BBC, NPR, PBS, Al Jazeera, and even the traditionally ultra-conservative Fox News.

Whether one of the many students from the neighboring University of Pittsburgh, or a retiree seeking to expand his or her knowledge of the cultures of the world, one could not find a more potent, exciting, and memorable way to learn.

This purported odious purveyor of evil and political treachery, Conflict Cafe, boasts 300 customers per day.

A very successful business venture from just about anyone’s perspective, Conflict Cafe is a wildly successful small business endeavor.  So much so, several conservative media outlets are praising it's efforts.

Did I fall asleep, awakening only to find myself in an alternate universe in which the ultra-conservative pundits find fault in a capitalist’s wet dream?

Apparently I'm not alone, for the cafe's contributions to the community have been so beneficial, it has even received recognition from one of the nation's largest food giants, Heinz Corporation.

Heinz offers endowments in support of southwestern Pennsylvania (the location of Conflict Café) businesses which improve educational and cultural diversity in southwest Pennsylvania.

And therein lies the contention; not only with the author at Breitbart, but other media outlets with similar political goals such as “The Jewish Press,” “The Washington Free Beacon.”

Oddly enough, even the ultra-conservative media outlet Fox News is joining the ranks of those praising their achievements.

In recognition of those same achievements, The Heinz Corporation, the heir to which is Kerry’s wife Terry Heinz Kerry, endowed Conflict Café with a $50K grant for its contribution to the community.

A far cry from the subversive picture painted by the outlets plastering the Net and newsstands with their attempts to manipulate the electorate.

My very good friend sent me this link “We are all confident idiots" not long ago and I can't think of a better scenario in which the phenomenon can be applied.

The world in which we live has become a vanilla milkshake of the extreme; a polarized nation in which the diversity required for civilization to flourish is very difficult to come by.  In fact; with the help of misinformation outlets, it is extraordinarily easy to be “confident idiots,” unwilling to consider anything but that with which we are comfortable.

It is here we see the problem with the polarized you and me.

Seeking comfort in our “expertise,” we accomplish little, but to darken the hegemonic lenses many prefer to wear and creating a homogenized world in which diversity is no longer tolerated.

Regardless of your political ideology, becoming a confident idiot is as easy as reading misleading information on the Net and accepting the comfort level found in similarity.

But, it's the last thing we should allow ourselves to do and be satisfied with.

As for me?  I love ethnic diversity, in communities and, as my ever-expanding waist will attest, food.



Photos courtesy of Conflict Cafe.

I wish you the best of luck.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Where do they take you?



Rusted, Steel, Silver and Gold Ribbons 
What is your adventure;
Where Do They Take You?

Rusted ribbons nestle
In forests hushed, but for
Whippoorwill’s song

Woodpecker’s drum,
Wind’s song in the tree tops,
Squirrel’s chatter and coyote's cry!

Where do they take you?
What’s at the end, around the bend
Between here and there for you?

A cold and dreary tour of summer’s end
Your passage on rails
From which to seek shelter ‘til trip’s conclusion?

Or of fires of golden aspen
And crimson maples
Emboldened by steel’s cool blue and gray,

With crows squawking amidst crisp air
Laden with a hint of winter’s presence
Thrilling and chilling your soul?
This way, or that?
What will be missed when
This is chosen or that is pursued?

Your directions split,
Decisions stalled, plans dismantled,
Judgments questioned?

Can you circle back for adventure renewed?
Or are alternatives banished
As choices are made?
 Do you peer over horizons
Devoid of color,
Replaced by shades of gray?

Or do you see a road filled with promise,
Explosions of ecstasy
In moments of intense curiosity

Amidst the awesomeness
Of open space, bewildering vastness
And freedom of direction?
 Are yours but frail tracks filled with stormy darkness,
Fear and desperation?
Yet another worrisome turn,
One after another?

Angry, jagged fingers, frightful thunder
Interrupting
Mundane and routine trails?

Or are you on an expedition of excitement,
Thrill and exhilaration
Of adrenaline instilled enthusiasm?

 
 Is darkness looming,
Signaling an end
To yet another day?

Or are there silver threads
Leading your golden
Trek with awe

Following Sol
As he guides you
Along his purple shores?

Once sentinels of energy
Keeping currents
On intended routes

Now, a half-concealed emerald gem
Between ribbons
Of roaming silver

Shattered jewels
Blue, green, amber and red
Provide color for the rocky trail
 


Cicadas singing in unison
Under a stifling sun
As brilliant white clouds

Glide lazily through thick
Humid air, a respite
From blistering rays

Cottonwood feathers floating slowly
Distracting thoughts
Of the void below

Track’s silver crowns
Glinting with Sol's rays
Creosote’s sweet aroma
And engine’s horn bellowing.

Cohort’s eyes wide
Hearts pounding
Against the dare

Senses sharpened, taking in all
As cool waters rush upwards, towards
The temerarious youth jumping from above

Ribbons of rust, steel,
Silver and gold,
Endless passages.

A ride
Of infinite discovery,
Of endearing moments;

Of squinting towards the searing sun,
Taking the opportunity
To change the ordinary into ribbons
of rainbows and adventure.