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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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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.

Caustic Countdown: Three Insane Food Laws

22 Jun

Recently, there has been a lot of commotion over the proposed law in New York designed to make it illegal for fast-food providers to sell more than 16 oz of soft drink per transaction. The aim is to curb the tide of obesity by constricting the sale of sugary drinks and soda, which do in fact deal a heavy hand (pun totally intended) in raising obesity rates. Of course, the bill is quite controversial and many individuals feel that this is directly infringing upon the inherent freedoms in this nation. (Apparently, people believe that to get fatter than Gluttony and more lethargic than Sloth is directly in the constitution. It’s probably somewhere in the 28th amendment. Gawd Bless America!).

[Serious note: Some legal experts are quick to point out that this could seriously be illegal due to the interstate commerce clause. That being said, there is no endemic freedom to eat yourself to death and causing a burden upon society. I’ve read the constitution five times. It’s shockingly not in there.]

Proponents of the law believe that it is legal due to the fact that many seriously obese people create a burden upon taxpayers, thus warranting legislative intervention. I’m not one to pick sides (both of the constitutional arguments have merit and that’s left for more experienced people to decide. I yield to superior understanding), but I will say this: this is not the most insane law pertaining to the consumption of food. Actually, comparatively, this looks about as sane as illegalizing texting while driving.

3: Protect the Pigs!

As I mentioned above, I’ve read the constitution numerous times. Why? I don’t know. I get some weird kick when I read me some constitution. I get wired. That and the fact that my major is Government and World Affairs. But hey, the hankering for some constitutional understanding probably plays hand in hand. It’s a knowledgeable addiction. Plus, I actually like to know what I’m talking about when I talk politics with people. I don’t want to be the one who shouldn’t have opened his mouth and removed all doubt.

So I’m a lega-phile. And I’m a knowledge-a-phile. Most importantly, a nerd to boot. So when I was in high school and they asked me if I wanted to register to vote, I said, “awh hell yeah!” Just like that. In the middle of class. Clearly, I was an intellectual bad-ass.

Upon registering, I realized that I had to sign an oath to defend the constitution of the United States. No biggie. I had read it about three times by then, I was pretty comfortable with it. But then came the caveat. I also had to protect the Florida constitution. Well, shoot. I had signed my name and all. So I did what any legally bound nerd would do. I read the Florida constitution. What I discovered shocked me.

There’s an amendment protecting the sanity and safety of…

If you guessed a) children, you’re wrong. b) adults, you’re wrong. You’re actually getting colder. If you guessed c) kittens, sorry but no. If you guessed d) pregnant pigs, then you’re both oddly specific and correct!

Yep, the Florida constitution protects the rights of pigs who are, more likely than not, going to end up as bacon on my cheeseburger.

2: McBanned.

Now fast-food is helping obesity in the worst of ways. The way these companies see it, they give you food which barely qualifies for pets and you give them money. It’s like eating your cake and mugging you in a dark alley too!

We just learn to sit down and accept that these companies are running on the capitalistic system; they exist because people will pay them to. So the only logical thing is to accept this as an inevitability of human advancement or, if it really tickles your fancy, avoid perpetuating the system by not giving in to their business.

Or, you can just up and ban fast food from distributing toys. I mean, why just avoid them yourself? Clearly, you got to go all out for this to work. Think about the children!

In Santa Clara County, California, a law was passed banning McDonald’s from selling their infamously cheap Happy Meal toys. This presumably worked until they realized that most of the people who frequent the Golden Arches are a little too old to be playing with HotWheeles… Unless they’re able to hide them from their wife/girlfriend. In which case please, you brave souls, spread the word and tell us immature men your secret!

Of course, there were good intentions with this law. It’s just that its lunacy and ultimate futility kind of makes it one of those good intentions that paves the road to Hell.

1: Enjoy Champagne on a World War Technicality.

Who doesn’t enjoy the sensation of liquid victory? Whether it’s celebrating a win or a wedding, champagne is the go-to for bubbly happiness. Who wouldn’t like to take a sip of champagne to accentuate good times? Who hasn’t poured a glass or guzzled it straight from the bottle because damn it, you’re awesome!

Well odds are you haven’t and you probably never will.

See, if you live in the United States (where most of my readership lies) you have probably never actually tasted champagne. See, champagne isn’t just a type of sparkly alcoholic beverage. It’s supposed to be an indication of origin. In Europe, if you drink champagne it’s because that drink hails from the champagne region of france. Most of our champagne hails from California.

See, the treaty of Madrid first solidified the term champagne the legal property of the champagne region in the late nineteenth century. It was a treaty the United States wasn’t involved in. After that, the treaty of Versailles after World War One reaffirmed this legal right. Guess what, we weren’t involved in that either. Even though we tried to put forth several ideas in the treaty, we never actually ratified it ourselves. Meaning that it wasn’t until recently that the U.S. stated that all new bottles of sparkling wine had to be properly identified. How recent? Well, it’s still cool if bottles from 2006 and before use it.