Saturday, October 9, 2010

Meet Your Meat...If You Dare

Feast your eyes upon the grotesque matter that is known as "mechanically separated meat". This photograph, which has gone viral over the past week or so, candidly exposes the stuff of which chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and bologna are made.

There it is, a pink, gelatinous batter, coiled soft-serve style like a freshly-minted cat turd. It looks like no poultry that I have ever seen. If chickens were intelligent beings, they would look at this pasty, pink mush and wonder how it ever could have been recognizably one of their own. Then they might compare its makers with Hitler and call for a coalition of the willing to end this monstrous practice.

I wouldn't blame them. I am a proponent of eating meat, and veganism/animal rights activism pisses me off. However, the photograph above is a damning indictment of just how low our nutrition standards have become. If you want chicken, eat chicken. Don't eat hardened chicken glue.

Apparently, there was once something called "mechanically separated beef" as well. It is now illegal to produce such beef products due to health regulations. If mechanically separated beef is illegal, then the legally acceptable chicken-stuff must not be terribly far behind on the unhealthiness scale.

For having such a high standard of living, Americans sure do love to eat shit. No wonder our national waistline is expanding.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Katy Perry and Elmo Controversy

Last week, the producers of Sesame Street engaged in a strange, uncommon practice. They censored Sesame Street. Apparently, a clip of Elmo cavorting with auto-tuned pop singer Katy Perry was deemed "inappropriate" due to Ms. Perry's bare legs and her revealing, skimpy party dress.

The clip in question is on YouTube
, of course. Wave after wave of sympathetic comments have been posted, with thousands of people decrying those damned, Fascist pigs over at the Children's Television Workshop for prudishly ripping Perry's play date with Elmo off the air.

It's an innocent little number, for the most part. At the 1:42 mark, the laws of physics create an effect that cannot be ignored and lasts for a good ten seconds. There's your controversy, right there. I doubt it was intentional. (Also, freeze the video at the 1:35 mark for a humorous, telling image.)

However, I find it odd that Katy Perry was invited on in the first place. Other guests stars over the years could be called controversial as well, but Perry is a singularly sexualized figure. She of "I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It" fame would seem an unlikely choice for a program that teaches 5 year old kids how to spell. Parents that are uncomfortable with this are not unreasonable. Maybe next time, they can have Pink sing "Just Like a Pill" and teach Elmo about attention-seeking suicide attempts.

For what it's worth, Perry herself has gone on Saturday Night Live wearing a tight, low-cut Elmo shirt, spoofing the situation with exaggerated risque humor. Otherwise, she hasn't lashed out at the Sesame Street producers yet, which is a relief.

Perhaps this could have been nipped in the bud by a more intelligent guest casting director, or by a better costume designer. Regardless, it has now become a rallying point for those who believe that any sort of attempt to guard the eyes of children is the work of puritanical, paranoid maniacs.

It's not so much Perry's party dress (and her ample, wobbly pectoral region) that is the problem, nor is the clip itself a work of pornographic subversiveness. The problem is that parents should be able to monitor their children's television intake without accusations of fascist, puritanical intent. Also, Sesame Street ought to exhibit better judgment in guest stars. When you invite a pop singer who sells her sexuality as a major part of her brand, you are inviting this kind of trouble.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Returning to Form/Forming a Return

It has been months since I posted anything on this blog. There are several reasons for this, not the least of which is that I got married recently. Planning such an event consumes mental energy among other things.

I also stopped posting partly because the "Spirit of 76'" motif that I was utilizing did not serve me well. One day last spring, something occurred to me: politics don't matter, and I have nothing to say about them. At least, not on a regular basis.

This new worldview of mine is rooted in the fact that certain political outcomes seem to be unavoidable even in the face of popular opposition and supposed procedural impossibility. Yes, I am talking about the universal health care bill. I was led to believe that Senator Scott Brown would be "the final vote that would destroy health care". Hence, I drove through a rainstorm to vote for him. Lo, and behold, the bill somehow passed regardless. Who knows what back-alley arm-twisting, threats, and probably-illegal conspiring went into turning the president's certain failure on this issue into a success? Does anyone think it is odd that this bill, once dead in the water, somehow passed?

The experience made me realize that we, as citizens, have absolutely no control over anything that politicians do. Therefore, politics, just like weather, traffic, and natural disasters, are a part of the human experience that we must navigate and negotiate without any hope of changing them for the better.

As a result, why blog about politics? Blogging about politics has become about as useful and interesting as blogging about weather or traffic patterns. To do so occasionally might provoke interest, but to do so constantly will only provoke boredom. We seem fated to slave away under the inept dictatorship of a pack of several hundred suit-wearing numb-skulls, led by a charlatan-in-chief. Heath Ledger's Joker was right: it's all part of the plan. Even once-appreciable members of the opposition have either disappointed me with compromise (Senator Brown) or have become cartoonish, bloated versions of themselves, amping up their rhetoric without much subtlety or effect (Sarah Palin).

What else, then, ought I discuss? There is plenty else. And though I have no faith in politics anymore, I will still return to it occasionally. Politics is not good for one's daily diet. Yet a few political calories might go down nicely occasionally, like a fatty dessert that leaves you wishing afterward that you had not eaten it.

It must be said that political philosophy and geo-politics are far more interesting than American tabloid politics. I would rather discuss the need for stronger relations with India to counter Pakistan than the latest doings of John Edwards' mistress, of Sarah Palin's daughter, of President Obama's stupid lap dogs.

My new blog title retains my inherent old-fashioned, miserable Yankee outlook without being overtly political. Let's see how long my new experiment in blogging lasts. Perhaps it will take root, and perhaps it will be another six months before you read anything new here.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Palin on TV

Sarah Palin is going to have a TV show where she takes viewers around Alaska and shows them the wonder of it.

This is interesting. Is Sarah ruling out any further political ambitions? Not many presidential candidates film reality television series' about their home states. Is she trying to make a buck for her family? It would be understandable, even though the result will be that she will be taken less seriously as a leader. The left-wing media outlets MSNBC and CNN will ensure that people laugh at her for this by employing the usual exagerating and fact-twisting (and if people don't laugh, then, well...MSNBC will say that they are laughing).

Huckabee's foray into TV has had some success, and now Palin is following along. Will they jump back into the political fray in 2012, or will they stay on the tube? It will be fascinating to see how their TV career choices impact their actions and decisions.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Jacksonian Democracy

Last week, I finished reading American Lion by Jon Meacham. It is a colorful and enlightening read about a fascinating man. Rather than piling on minute biographical details, Meacham strives to present Jackson's life and doings in broader terms. His book is just as concerned with American politics during the 1830s and 1840s as it is with Jackson's personal doings.

President Jackson, the sixth of our nation's chief executives, was a strange blend of southern gentleman, warlord, kindly grandfather, and violent sociopath. When he wasn't literally playing Santa Claus at Christmas, bringing bundles of presents to D.C.'s orphans, he was horsewhipping his political foes and purging the southern states of their Native American inhabitants. With one hand, he drove the Native Americans on to a western death march; with the other, he chastised big bankers in the name of making America a better place for the downtrodden.

If you consider Jackson the first modern Democratic president (I use that term loosely here), a fascinating progression can be seen. Jackson was a big-government, federally-minded ruler, who expanded executive control over the country and sought to put capitalist "fat cats" into place. His dismantling of the National Bank is an eerie forerunner to the meddlesome regulatory ways of President Obama. However, Jackson was more politically incorrect than mostly any other president in the nation's history. His Indian removals are the fodder of public school moralizing (rightfully so). He saw absolutely no value in racial equality, and considered abolitionists a danger to the country.

In addition, he believed firmly in the use of violence and force to bend and break his opponents, be they tribal, international, or personal. If Jackson didn't like you, he might just shoot you, horsewhip you, or challenge you to a duel. As an army general, he even carried out unauthorized military actions against foreign powers (imagine if General McChrystal marched into Iran and destroyed the place without consulting the White House first). The tenderness of Jackson's domestic life is almost silly in its polar opposition to his public persona.

No doubt he was a complicated man. In my opinion, he is too complicated for the age of the soundbite. That is why Meacham's book is so fascinating: ultimately, we don't know what to do with President Jackson. Progressive politics have marched so far beyond anything he could have imagined that his own Democratic successors are afraid to even mention him.

Politicians today will cite Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, Reagan, and FDR as they try to position themselves. No one ever mentions Jackson. Libraries, colleges, and streets are named after the aforementioned, but far fewer landmarks and roadsigns bear the sixth president's name.

It is not for lack of importance that we leave him out of the presidential superstar club. In particular, Jackson left an indelible mark on the character of the executive office (one that subsequent presidents did not live up to; nobody remembers Martin Van Burn, John Tyler, or James Buchanan precisely because their vision of the presidency was less proactive than Jackson's). His use of the veto was hugely controversial in a time when American presidents were expected to let Congress do the lion's share of the governing.

Rather, it is the discomfort of his legacy that leaves Jackson on the back burner. Jackson was not unlike Obama, in that his basic governing philosophy called for massive federalization with anti-capitalist rhetoric. But you will never see Obama refer to himself as "a member of the party of Jackson". The racial and personal issues surrounding Jackson are too insurmountable.

What would Jackson think of the Democrats of today? He might be vaguely impressed with their social programming. He would also think that they were a pack of wimps, and it is not a stretch to imagine him firing pistols at them.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It is Finished

The healthcare debate is over. The quasi-socialist Democratic party is rejoicing in the orgasmic throes of victory, having successfully wrested control of the U.S. health insurance industry from the private sector. In a 219-212 vote, the healthcare bill passed. Not a single Republican voted for it.

I am in a blind rage. I can only offer my fragmented thoughts in the following paragraphs. Other more adept pundits have explicated the severity of this situation far more deeply than I ever could. I can only offer you a common man's fury.

The sheer numbers are dizzying. Over ten years, this bill will cost over $900 billion. Subsidized insurance will lead to soaring deficits and higher taxes. President Obama has consistently lied through his teeth about the economic ramifications of his pet project. Do not be taken in. You cannot spend $900 billion and claim that doing so is "deficit neutral".

It is safe to say that the United States will never again in its history be able to pay off the national deficit. We will owe other countries money until the end of our republic's existence (whenever that may be). Our inability to live within our means, and our addiction to the unfabricated concept of an all-powerful, all-helpful federal government, have brought us to this point.

Rest assured, President Obama is surely happy. He's made that quite clear, what with his arrogant, gloating pontificating: "This is what change looks like!" I agree with him. This is what his party's idea of what change looks like: ugly, divisive, inefficient, impractical, morally bankrupt. Everything about the Democrat's healthcare policymaking, from their use of bribes and kickbacks to their unfettered support of abortion, smacks of absolute moral cluelessness. They lied to the American people about the contents of the bill. They made it clear that they would pass it by any means neccesary, ignoring established procedures and the fact that only 30% of the country wanted the bill to pass. And they have disregarded the sacred desire of pro-life Americans to abstain from funding infanticide with their own tax dollars. The rape of my earnings by taxation each week is bad enough; that those dollars are now going from my paycheck to some bullshit "community health center", and ultimately to abortion providers, sickens me. The colonists rebelled against the British Empire for a hell of a lot less.

An aside to Representative Bart Stupak, the "pro-life Democrat" (there is no such thing): you, sir, are a dishonest, useless bastard. Your posturing as a pro-lifer means nothing in light of your ultimate weak capitulation to the White House. I take back every positive thing that I may have said about you. You have proven that, like every other Democrat in America, your natural sense of right and wrong is trumped by dollar signs and matters of political expediency. This is why I hate everyone of your ilk, and why I sincerely hope that the Democratic party is obliterated in November. The only good Democrat is an unseated Democrat.

In the past year Obama has directed the federal takeover of significant chunks of the U.S. banking industry, the U.S. car industry, and now the U.S. health insurance industry. When the market is bad, it's the perfect time to buy. The President has used the current economic downturn as an excuse to carry out the hyper-regulatory fantasies that Democrats have only been able to grasp at for the past fifty years.

This bill will be a massive burden on our country. Instead of real reform, we have a mere power grab. Liberals hated it when George W. Bush listened in on the phone conversations of terrorists, but they don't care about the protection of privacy when industry is concerned.

May God bless us with a repeal, whether now or some other day.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Vote on Healthcare

Today is the day. I will say more later. For now, I merely hope this monstrosity of a bill does not pass.