Archive | July, 2012

Caustic Countdown: 3 Ways To Recognize Empty Political Promises

24 Jul

We have again reached a critical point in our perpetual political cycle. Men and women are vying for positions of power within our governmental structure, utilizing every possible technique of persuasion to appeal to their potential constituents. Sort of like super-villians, except that they’re supposed to be helping us. Within their super-villianous arsenal of politic firepower are the usual attack ads, glorification campaigns, and subtle subconscious appeals that many of us have come to both love and loathe. But one particular technique stands out as one of the most disdainful to Americans today: the false promise.

Every individual regardless of political affiliation can cite an occasion of empty promises built upon manipulated hope. We couldn’t agree if peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are delicious if we put it to a vote (they are. Vote PB&J 2012), but Americans come together against these powerful but ultimately empty words. Cynicism is rampant in the voting population because many learned of the fallaciousness of these promises after they cast their ballot. Most voters would have at least debated their choice more intently if they had recognized an empty political oath beforehand. In the spirit of promoting a better future for our country by the ballot box, here are three ways to determine whether a candidate is being honest or playing the political game.

 

 

1) Guaranteeing a Power Play

 

America could easily be mistaken as being engulfed in an ideological civil war. Republicans and Democrats are constantly at each-other’s throats in an attempt to force a submission. If you were to scan the comment section on any major news site, your eyes would practically be seared by the acrid comments both parties are making in reference to the other. Our discourse falls well beyond the boundaries of polite debate, landing somewhere near the border of obsessive insanity. This vehement hatred is found even in the esteemed halls in the Capitol, because people still follow the petty patterns of the populace regardless of social position. Politicians refuse to work together, creating a stagnate system nearly devoid of compromise. While this in itself is a tragic issue, the nature of the beast can alert you to the existence of empty words.

 

The Promise:

“I will repeal Obamacare…” – Mitt Romney

 

Although Former Governor Romney is neither the first or last person to ever guarantee a power play, his statement best represents a potentially empty promise. It is impossible to say currently whether or not this particular promise is truly empty, but most analysts say that it’s not going to happen. Why? Because Romney would have to contend against a senate that still currently holds a Democratic majority. He’d be like an insect trying to pass through a parade of anteaters. The only way for him to actually repeal Obamacare is to have legislation sent through this partisan gauntlet. Judging by the ludicrously hostile nature of congress today, it doesn’t take a genius or political insider to know that there is no way that such a repeal will pass through (apparently, the anteaters are hungry). Sure, if elected, Romney will most likely fight tooth-and-nail to combat certain provisions of the law. He may certainly try to repeal it, but we know that such an effort will prove futile. If one is voting for an individual solely based upon a power play such as this, it might be wise to look for other aspects within the candidate you may deem favorable or consider alternative options.

 

2) Jurisdiction Issues

 

Many people assume that if elected to a prominent national office, the candidate will wield incredible political power. The problem though, is that our federal government exists within a system of checks and balances that separate powers to select branches. This division of power has been set in stone for over 2 centuries, paradoxically having been written down on an incredibly important piece of paper. The different responsibilities of certain branches are enumerated within the text of the US Constitution. There has never been an occasion where one branch can just encroach on the powers of the others without reprisal. They’re like siblings fighting for mommy’s attention. If one pushes, the other will scream “stop pushing me” while the other one starts to kick saying “Mom! The court’s pushing the executive branch!” It’s only a matter of time before mom (which I guess is us, in this weird metaphor?) says “Quit the bickering before I turn this damn car around!”  With this extensive pushing and shoving in mind, it’s incredibly interesting how many Americans are misled into believing a candidate’s eventual power will actually go beyond their constitutional limitations.

 

The Promise:

This sort of faux oath is so terribly common, it would actually be limiting the scope of the problem to post an example!

 

How often do we hear congressional candidates swear that their administration will work to directly reduce the crime rate? How about when Presidents or Governors promise to have a certain law passed or eliminate a certain social program? What’s incredible is that, by the endemic separation of powers, both of these are truly impossible to follow through with!

Take our hypothetical congressman for example. Legislators can write the text of a law, can set down the penalty for breaking said law, and they can even write exemptions within the text to clarify for certain circumstances. Other than that, however, they cannot actively fight to decrease the number of law-breakers. They are not a policing agency; they can’t patrol the streets and arrest someone for littering or running a red light. Unless they became a vigilante superhero (my bet is that they’d call themselves CongressMan and where a white wig to conceal their identity). They have no actual executive power that extends beyond the halls they debate in. Their responsibility is to write the laws.

Similarly, when those running for executive office often promise to have a law passed, they are just blowing  up a column of smoke with a very small flame. The President cannot actively present a bill to congress. He’s just not allowed to, it’s that simple. He can ask a member of the party to do so on his behalf, but his abilities to create new legislation is limited. That includes proposing cuts or increases in the budgets of government programs.

 

3) Time

Finally, we need to recognize the tremendous impact the passage of time has on our political system. This isn’t just alluding back to our perpetual election cycle. It has everything to do with a distinct, inherent limitation our government has. Contrary to the movies, our government doesn’t move with remarkable quickness with every issue. We prioritize, and even then certain “imperative” things are placed on the back-burner. We’ve been putting off rebuilding our infrastructure for years, and even important military maneuvers can take months to accomplish. Our nation isn’t like a motorcycle that can stop on a dime and shift directions based upon the whims of the current administration. We’re more analogous to a semi-truck: it may take a while to pick up speed but once we start moving, we move with incredible force and momentum. The layman, however, believes that certain grievances can be recognized and fixed within a single term. The reality demonstrates much less celerity.

 

The Promise:

“I will reduce the federal deficit by 50% in my first term”- President Barack Obama

 

Say what you will about the President’s term and policies, but we can’t deny that he was an extremely ambitious candidate. That sort of promise gave hope to a populous turned bitter by an increasing national debt and prolonged conflict overseas. The problem is, as it’s become clear now, that this was an extremely unrealistic goal. The national debt during the final years of the Bush presidency hovered around 8 trillion dollars. Truly an incomprehensible and jaw dropping deficit. Now, we live in a nation inundated with nearly 16 trillion dollars in debt according to the office of the treasury. Now, President Obama is promising that he simply needs more time in order for him to reduce the debt by a significant amount. The problem is that something that monstrously huge can’t possibly be significantly diminished in so brief a period. We would have to take our entire GDP, liquidate it, and put it directly towards our debt in order to make an impact. Something that actually does sound super-villanous if a politician were to propose it.

We live in an era where entertainment and communication is updated by the second. Our gratification is inching ever closer to instant. The nation as a whole, however, isn’t even close to that extreme of spontaneity. It takes time to correct past mistakes and change direction. Anyone promising otherwise suffers either from naïveté, or is trying to play off of our own.

 

 

 

 

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Weekly Update: 7/16/2012

20 Jul

Alright. So now I shall unveil the plan for Caustic Cookies 1.5! Monday will be the Caustic Countdown, same as usual. I’m keeping the weekly update and the book notes, but moving them to different days. Thursdays will be the update, book notes on Fridays. And on Saturdays, there will be a normal post. It can be about anything, but mostly will revolve around writing and reading. Of course, Twitter will be updated daily. On some days, there will be extra, goody posts. But this current configuration will help with my increasingly hectic schedule.

These last few weeks have piled opportunities on top of each other. I’ve been getting jobs and opportunities out the wazoo. For one, I’ve been writing a plethora for Yahoo! while also securing an internship. It’s all extremely incredible and the future looks bright! I’m excited to see what the weeks to come bring!

Articles:

I don’t even know where to begin. For starters, my perfect Text Broker streak is unbroken at 21 articles. 21 articles written and 21 articles accepted! Furthermore, I have also accumulated a double-digit streak on Yahoo! as well. I’ve been writing so much and getting so much exposure! Here are the links to my two most popular articles in order to sample just some of the work I’ve done. One and Two.

My internship has also provided me with a new audience. I wrote an article about the conflict between low and high mileage philosophies in running. It’s much more interesting than that previous sentence, I swear.

Short Stories:

Night of the Living Brain-Dead is still evolving. It has developed into a full-fledged novella. It’s development is rather impressive. The characters are actually multi-dimensional and the comedy is appropriately dark. It actually seems believable and the diction is far from mundane. It’s completely awesome and coming soon!

Poetry:

Today was my first excursion back into poetry. I wrote a poem called “Have I? Am I? Will I? Then I Will at Least Enjoy the Ride.” I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. It’s more dark than my usual poetry but it flows much better than any poem I’ve ever written. So right now it’s just sort of sitting in limbo. Maybe I’ll find a market for it. I’m honestly hoping for it.

Other:

My book, The Dimensional Constant, is finished its final editing. It is now in the very capable hands of my friend Irey who is designing the cover. After that, it will be available for sale! I anticipate the date to be within the next couple of weeks. It depends on how well we collaborate on this project. But we have been close friends for a few years, so I anticipate a quick turnaround.

Hey, this list is never too full. If you have an article you need written, or are in search of a flexible freelance writer, e-mail me at peterlicari13@gmail.com. Or message me on Twitter.

Caustic Countdown: Four Insanely Mean-Spirited Political Ads

17 Jul

I should apologize for not posting more often. I could sit here and lie (after all, it is my job) and say that I’ve been busy. It’d be a half lie; I have been busy. Just not enough to justify such an extended absence. No. The truth is I’ve been having a hard time finding balance and order to my routine. I am not what you would call organized. At all. With this in mind, it’s amazing that I’ve managed to accomplish so much with my writing. But I can’t rest on my laurels, and my disorganization is restraining my potential. So I present Caustic Cookies version 1.5. It’s a beta right now, but I’m sure you’ll like it. If you have any suggestions, just drop me a line. I’d be happy to field questions on any intelligent basis.

Now to the fun stuff!

It’s easy in this world of political nonsense to feel entirely inundated with every facet of the machine. Personally, I feel like I can’t even go five minutes without having to explain my political position in some way. In order to combat this, I’m tempted to just sit back and say: “You know who really had their shit together? Lincoln. Boy, could he emancipate and propagate liberty like the best of ’em!” I’m a history nerd though, so it’s kind of nice to have some perspective to compare our current disorder to.

One of the greatest gripes of all comes in the form of these bombarding attack advertisements. Currently, Former Governor Romney is attacking President Obama based upon his health care mandate and the President is backlashing with details of Romney’s supposed corporate history. And it’s getting kind of nasty. It always does. It seems like our politicians are the proverbial children in the sandbox… if the children happened to be vying for the position of the most powerful man in the free world. (Would that equate to the slide on the playground them or the monkey bars? Such is the great philosophical quandary). And every election cycle, people find ways to believe that, if anything, it’s only gotten worse than the time before. It turns out that not only are they feeding a mass-delusion that legitimately affects the older population bracket, they also happen to be incorrect. It’s not their fault, however. See, it’s all a matter of perspective. Here are four political ad campaigns that makes today’s contenders appear as polite and courteous as stereotypical Victorian gentlemen. Which do not turn out to be as nice as everyone believes.

1: Jefferson v. Addams (aspiring king of England?!)

Despite the fact that the United States and England seem to now be best buds (the Blair Bush Bromance will go down as one of the most noticeable in political history), there was indeed a time where being closely associated with the English would destroy any hopes of social acceptance. Keep in mind that this period of time was namely until that pesky war of 1812 (a war which most Americans don’t recall the year it transpired. Seriously). Up until that squabble got resolved, it probably wouldn’t be very good for someone running for political office to be in close relations with higher British authorities. It would be worse if said politician was running for office and said close relation was the King’s daughter.

Boy, doesn’t that just sound like a wacky sitcom.

Enter John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both uncontested intellectual badasses. Except for the fact that they had a contest between each other. Namely, the 1800 presidential election. Now this election went down in history for a number of reasons. But people forget that a large population of people didn’t vote for Adams because Jefferson had spread the entirely fallacious idea that Adams’ son was being wed to the King’s daughter in an attempt to create an American dynasty. Despite being called out on his lies, Jefferson still ended up winning. Chalk one up for liars!

3: Johnson’s Bomb (Not Talking about his Libido).

Now if you didn’t get the joke in the title, follow this link. It turns out that Kennedy wasn’t alone in enjoying the ladies as President.

Now. Back to business. And by business, I mean overtly insinuating that your rivals will ensure the nuclear apocalypse.

See that? That wasn’t exactly subtle. But neither was Johnson. He had a tendency to be upfront and dramatic when it came to certain nuances of his policy. He often allowed his size and low growl of a voice to intimidate dissenters. So it was in his nature when he presumably thought as he was running for a second term of ways to intimidate not just disorderly orderlies, but the nation as a whole.

He came up with this.

For those who didn’t follow the link, shame on you. Seriously, go click on it. It’s worth its metaphysical weight in metaphysical gold. I’m sorry to say that the exchange rate for metaphysical gold isn’t too high now, but still go click.

That’s right. Johnson insisted that electing his opponent would instigate a fiery hell of nuclear radiation and death. Needless to say, he was reelected.

2: Swift Boats for Justice.

Alright, this one is recent (it aired against Kerry in 2004), but it shows how quickly we forget. Because these were just flat-out mean.

Take a watch.

Now, essentially the message boils down to this: Kerry was lying about how bad-ass he was in Vietnam. Normally, this isn’t a problem, there are people who exaggerate about their war-stories every day. The issue came that he was using it as pro-Kerry propaganda during the campaign and he happened to piss off a lot of people he served with.

Honestly, I remember this election. I was convinced that Kerry was going to beat out Bush…up until these ads came on. Even though I was younger and didn’t understand the gravity of such an attack, I somehow knew that the game was over. Looking back on it, I’m surprised riots didn’t explode into the street such is the gravity of their statements.

1: Don’t Mess With Jackson

So far these have been rather harmless in the grand scheme of things. Sure, reputations were damaged (not irreparably) egos were bruised, but otherwise no harm no foul. Things got crazy; such is the nature of the beast, right? Well, this time, it arguably got someone killed.

Enter who is perhaps the greatest President of all time (if you choose to selectively ignore the whole trail of tears thing): Andrew Jackson.

And yes, I am aware that the parentheses and colon equals a frowny face emoticon. That was perhaps the one potmark of Jackson’s presidency that can really never be fixed. It was destructive and cruel, no doubt about it. But a political mistake doesn’t erase the other great things he is known for. Nor does it justify the fact that his wife was brutally assaulted by the media. To the point where she freaking died!

Jefferson and his wife were the quintessential star-crossed lovers. When they met, she was still married to an absent husband. But when they were together, he was incredibly abusive. So they just took the absence as a blessing and got on with their happy lives. The two never actually divorced, however, allowing the press to portray Mrs. Jefferson as a harlot. She soon died after this violent press started pouring in and Jackson was forever changed. He went from his rambunctious, violent nature to…swearing to avenge her death on every person who ever spoke ill of her. So the press managed to take his fury and direct it to his political opponents and themselves. Probably not the best idea.