My Thoughts on Abortion

Over forty years have passed since the Supreme Court ruling on Roe V Wade. The topic on abortion and reproductive rights has become more polarized than ever before. The mere mention of the word ‘abortion’ can trigger a whole range of emotions from everyone and their second cousin twice removed.

These opinionated agitators have organized themselves in two camps: ‘Pro-Life’and ‘Pro-Choice’. Within these two camps, they have their own speakers and bloggers.  They’ve organize rallies, constructing their own echo chamber while vilifying the opposing side through strawman representations.

abortion-debate1‘Pro-Life’ and ‘Pro-Choice’ are nothing more than politically-loaded buzzwords devised to emotionally manipulate middle-of-the-road onlookers to their side.  So either you’re a misogynistic, religiously-fanatical fascist or you’re a baby-killing tyrant.

Because who has the time for shades of grey, right?

So, here is my perspective on abortion, which you won’t hear at these noise-polluting rallies.

I am against abortion for moral reasons.  I don’t see a fetus as just a fetus.  It is a potential human being and ideally, nothing should disturb the gestation process.  A pregnancy should not be terminated for a person’s own convenience. Nor should the fetus be killed because of its gender.  After all, look at the statistics of abortions performed in India due to the female gender of the fetus.

The feminist platitudes spouted by the ‘pro-choice’ battalion are completely anachronistic. The controversy surrounding abortion is not a woman’s rights issue.  Those talking points may have been relevant in the 1970’s, during the heyday of second-wave feminism. However, it’s 2016.  The goals of feminism have been achieved. Yet, during those forty years, new developments in embryology have highlighted the early viability of well-conceived human baby.

Considering these facts, should Roe V Wade be overturned?  I don’t really have an absolute stance. Although I strongly oppose abortion on moral grounds, I can acknowledge situation where an abortion is not only preferred, but absolutely necessary. Pregnancy is a beautiful rite of passage in a woman’s life. Unfortunately, pregnancies can also result in a woman’s death.

If a woman’s life is being threatened by her pregnancy, there is no reason why she shouldn’t have an abortion. Yes, I’m familiar with stories of women who were advised by their physicians to terminate their pregnancy, only to give birth to a healthy baby. However, those chances are incredibly slim.  The more likely scenario would be ending up like Savita Halappanavar.

And don’t give me the whole “its all part of God’s plan’ spin. Millions of people die from a myriad diseases and countless natural disasters.  All part of ‘God’s plan’? Please!

The real problem in our society is pure ignorance. Contrary to the popular adage, what you don’t know will definitely harm you. Every few seconds, a girl finds out she’s pregnant, without any intention. Our society is saturated with sexual overtones, triggering teenagers to act on their natural impulses without any foresight of the potential consequences.  Parents avoid talking to their children about sex so kids are propelled into the world with no social skills to exercise sound decision making.

And it doesn’t help that, during the Bush administration, abstinence education was being promoted in America.

I don’t have a problem with abstinence.  After all, its more prudent to wait until you meet the person with whom you would consider spending the rest of your life.  However, it is absolutely irresponsible to deprive students on information concerning safe-sex methods.

The ideal sex education class should include the whole nine yards. This course would involve an emphasis on abstinence and personal discipline combined with reliable information on contraceptives, along with an proper understanding on how healthy relationships are supposed to function.

Unfortunately, ‘Pro-Life’ advocacy organizations are usually affiliated with religious institutions. The churches’ image of sex consist of a married heterosexual couple attempting to procreate. Anything outside that box is considered to be an abomination before God.

The real world is different from the church’s preconceptions.  People have sex.  Sometimes it’s between a man and a woman.  Sometimes it’s between two men or two women.  Sometimes, its a menage o trois or an eight-way orgasmic ensemble.  It can be used as a means to procreate.  It can also be a recreation activity.

In other words, sexuality is more than two organs fitting together like pipes!

As I mentioned in my ‘About Page’, I’m not a political person and I don’t see myself writing legislative bills on abortion.  If I had a friend who was contemplating on terminating her pregnancy, I would do my best to dissuade her (unless she had a medical complication).  However, every situation is different and I don’t think there is a piece of legislation that can justly encompass them all.

 

 

 

 

Requiem for a Rose

In the early twentieth century, motion pictures were the object of excitement and curiosity.  They were the smartphones of the day.  Cinema introduced an innovative way of presenting stories beyond the limitations of a stage performance.

96205.jpgCinema emerged from a bizarre, yet fascinating invention by the Lyon-based Lumiere Brothers to a groundbreaking industry.  After a strenuous week of hard labor, workers frequented the nickelodeons to catch a show.  It wasn’t long before a new caste of artists would garner undying veneration from the masses.

Lillian Gish was one of the first movie stars in her day.  During the 1910’s and 1920’s, she was the most sought-after actress in Hollywood and her elegance and class was admired by millions. There was also Mae Marsh, Ralph Lewis, and Richard Barthelmess.

Of course, one could never forget Charlie Chaplin, whose signature mustache and comical movements propelled him as a British icon.

In India, the cinematic portrayals of numerous Hindu mythological tales enticed religious devotees, searching for a new way to attract potential followers.  Dadasaheb Phalke, credited for producing the first Indian feature film, Raja Harishchandra, was hailed as a celebrity in the streets of pre-independence Bombay.

In the southern Indian kingdom of Travancore, a martial arts-enthusiast, inspired by the feats of Dadasaheb Phalke, embarked on a quest to earn his fame in his own country.  He established his own film production company in the capitol city of Trivandrum in 1926 and christened it, Travancore National Pictures.  There, he began a project in producing the first feature film from Travancore.  His name was J.C. Daniel.

J.C Daniel decided to take a different direction from the films produced in Bombay.  He wasjc-daniel-founder-of-malayalam-film-industry.jpg a Christian living in a religiously-pluralist region.  Therefore, he thought it was more suitable to direct a social-themed story called Vigathakumaran (The Lost Child), involving a man’s journey towards reconciliation with his family after being kidnapped as a child.

A female performing artist was necessary to portray the role of the protagonist’s sister.  Daniel initially opted for a Bombay-based Anglo-Indian actress named Lana.  Unfortunately, due to unresolvable disagreements, Lana was dismissed from the project, leaving Daniel with the task of searching for a new actress.

Meanwhile, within the villages of the Trivandrum region, there was a young woman who performed alongside men in Kakkarashi Nadakam performances, despite her family’s disapproval.  Her acting and facial expression were marveled by audience members.  Before she knew it, this young woman was approached by Daniel himself, who requested her to be a member of his cast.

This young woman’s name was Rosamma.  She was from an untouchable community yet was treated with equal dignity by Daniel, who himself was from a low-caste community (not untouchable).  She was renamed by Daniel as ‘Rosy’ and given the role of a Nair woman named Sarojini.

On the 23rd of October, 1930, the film was set to debut at the Travancore Capitol Theatre.  The screening as attended by the city’s elite, including Western-educated barristers and Namboothiri Brahmins.  Unfortunately, the audacity of a untouchable girl acting the role of a Nair was completely repulsive, causing the Brahmins to ignite a riot.

Rosamma’s  family hut was set on fire, forcing the aspiring actress and her family to flee their only home.  For many decades, the whereabouts of the family were unknown.

However, according to a journalist named Kunnukuzhi Mani, Rossamma was rescued by a Nagercoil-based Nair lorry driver named Kesava Pillai while escaping her attackers.  Kesava Pillai took her to a police station where the incident was reported.  The two were married and settled in Nagercoil. In her new home, living her new life, Rosamma, ironically adopting the role of a Nair woman in real-life, had now identified herself as ‘Rajammal’.

The couple had five children.  Rosamma intentionally discarded any memories of her past. The children, three of whom are now deceased, are practically ignorant of their mother’s acting career.

This pioneering cinema heroine passed away some time in the late 1980’s without a single mention from a newspaper obituary. Compare her fate to Lillian Gish.  Hailed as the First Lady of American Cinema, with a career spanning 75 years in acting, producing and directing, Gish left behind an estate valued at several million dollars when she passed away in 1993.

Rossama had a distinct relative named Jannama David.  Jannama is known as the playback singer for  “Ellarum Chollanum”,  a timeless musical number for an equally timeless download (3).jpgfilm, Neelakuyil, a story revolving around castist social trends.  I wonder if Rossama ever saw this movie and if she did, what were her thoughts concerning the theme and her cousin’s new-found fame.  Perhaps she would have been forced to reflect on her own missed opportunity, usurped from her by the regressive cultural standards of that era.

Rosamma lived a simple life in Nagercoil, through the second World War, the advent of Indian independence, and The Emergency of the 1970’s. While she raised her children, cinematic Celluloid_filmproductions, in Kerala, Bombay, Madras, Calcutta etc., became cultural hallmarks.  Her cousin, Janamma, achieved notable fame yet Rosamma, herself, was deprived of any recognition until the release of Kamal’s Celluloid, over twenty years after her death.

Rosamma, it is extremely unfortunate that you were barred from the elite caste of actors.  It is unjust that your name was never included alongside the likes of Sathyan, Prem Nazir, Sheela, Miss Kumar, Zubeida, Prithviraj Kapoor, Nargis etc etc.

But here’s to you, Rosamma.  You will always be the Rose of Malayalam Cinema

IMG_4714-1500copy

Muslims in America

I live near Dearborn, Michigan, which has the largest Muslim population in North America.  Contrary to talking points espoused by right-wing media personalities, I, as a staunch heretic, hathree-muslim-childrenve never been threatened by the regulations enforced by Sharia Law.  I’ve never had to worry about getting my head chopped off.  I’ve never had an ounce of anxiety over the possibility of a suicide bomb.

However, surprisingly, there are a couple of strip clubs in Dearborn which include halal dishes in its menu!

The Muslims in my neck of the woods are nothing more than ordinary nobodies going about their boring, mundane lives.

The recent attacks in Brussells have highlighted Muslim enclaves in metropolitan cities as potential ground for homegrown terrorism.  It is undeniable that over the past twenty years, Europe have received an influx of Muslim immigrants, who congregate among themselves in the ghettos of Paris, London, Berlin etc.  They are scorned by the natives for their refusal to integrate.  The fact that these immigrants unhesistantly take advantage of the generious welfare systems offered by most European countries can also lead to resentment.

In the United States, the situation is drastically different. The vast majority of these immigrants manage to integrate within American culture.  In fact, a little over 20& of Muslims marry someone outside of their religious community.  Rather than taking advantage of  US welfare benefits, Muslims in America tend to pursue professional careers, often in healthcare.  In Southeast Michigan, it seems that Arab Muslims are over-represented in the pharmaceutical industry!

So what accounts for this ‘cultural difference’ between American Muslims and their European counterpart?  Perhaps it has to do with the types of immigrants.  Although early accounts of American Islam can be traced to the colonial era, a major influx of Muslims came to the US during the 1960’s and 1970’s.  A significant number of them were graduate students and degree-holding professionals pursuing economic opportunities in business, engineering and teaching, unlike the low-skilled Muslim workers seeking factory jobs in Europe

Muslim immigrants also dominate grocery retail industry in the US. Obviously, these immigrants are not as educated as their degree-holding professional co-religionists.  However, grocery retail industry allows a fast track towards social mobility.  Their children can afford aspiration to do better than their parents and move upwards on the socioeconomic ladder.

America’s e pluribus unum philosophy allows immigrants, from a wide range of cultures, perceive themselves as Americans while retaining their cultural heritage.  Contrast this with Europe, where the native European culture collide with the traditions of the newly-arrived immigrants.  A Turk living in Germany will only see himself as a Turk.  However, a Turk living in America can be both Turkish and American without any inner conflict.

As Muslims in Belgium, England, France, and Sweden continue to be ghettoized, they will be more headstrong in their refusal to integrate.  Their regressive attitudes and cultural practices will result in homegrown terrorism, paving the way for more suicide bombs across Europe.

It is up to European countries to reform its approach towards immigrants.  Either they must be more restrictive in the number of the immigrants they are willing to take or they must provide government-sponsored programs that will enable newly-arrived immigrants to assimilate through language courses and job-training programs.

It would be completely myopic to solely  blame Islam for terrorism. The topic of terrorism itself, whether religious or political, is incredibly complex as one person’s ‘terrorist’ is another person’s ‘freedom fighter’.  Frustrations and social isolation are often the trigger points, influencing a young man to blow himself up in a crowded public square.  Our one-sided, shortsighted analysis on this subject will only encourage more young Muslim men to blow themselves up.

Of course, the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not terrorists or sympathetic to terrorists. Equating all Muslims with terrorism is stupid and wrong.-Ayaan Hirsi Ali

How the Media hacks the Elections

When our grandparents were coming of age, there were very few channels being broadcast on TV, if your grandparents owned a television set at all. Their parents, along with every other previous generation, acquired information on current events through newspaper articles and word-of-mouth gossip.  Television programming introduced itself in the journalistic sphere through the CBS evening news hours.

Broadcast Journalism became mainstream through pioneering anchors including Edward Murrow, whose series of reports led to the censure of Joseph McCarthy.  Walter Cronkite also rose to prominence when he questioned America’s motives in the Vietnam War.

This was the good ol’ days of real journalism. News anchors were after the truth.  They precisely performed the duties of the free press, which involves regulating the powers of the government through public transparency.  The average person was informed thanks to those well-groomed, suit-clad men behind the television screen.

A historic moment in journalism occurred on Sunday, June 1st, 1980.  At exactly 5:00 in the afternoon, Ted Turner, a distinguished media mogul, launched the Cable News Network (CNN) as the first 24 news cable news channel. Now, the average Joe and Jane didn’t have to wait until 6:30 before being informed on ongoing events.

During the next decade, NBC would launch its own 24 hour news channel (MSNBC) and Rupert Murdoch would follow suit with SKY News and later, FOX news channel.  My generation is completely unable to envision a world without 24-hour news!

Our parents would have been initially seduced by CNN. I know my parents were relieved by an alternative to fucking Doordarshan!  However, there is a major folly with 24 news cycles: Entertainment.

In order for a channel to continue being on air, it has to garner adequate ratings.  There is only one thing that will attract the audience: Entertainment.

Sensationalism is now the norm in news reporting. Emotional manipulation and misleading headlines has been heavily instrumental in the 2016 Elections.

Whdownload (2)y do you think Donald Trump is still in the race?  He is disingenuous, crude, uninformed and possibly a sociopath.  It would be impossible for any rational person to take him seriously.  However, we can’t ignore his success in the polls.  He is undeniably, and regrettably, on his way towards the Republican nomination.

Donald Trump’s success is attributed to the widespread coverage he received by 24-hour news cycles. Astonishingly, it seems many were ignorant of credible candidates, like Lindsey Graham and George Pataki, seeking the Republican nomination.  In addition, a significant portion of Republican voters are unaware that John Kasich is still in the race!

Unfortunately, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki and John Kasich are not remotely entertaining.  They’re just your average, boring politicians.  Donald Trump is different.  He’s vulgar and asinine, wearing his devil-may-care attitude on his sleeve.  His bigoted comments towards Mexican immigrants appeal to disenfranchised White blue-collar workers. The more they see ‘The Donald’ on their television screens, the more they’re attracted to him.

Let’s switch to the other side of the election coverage.  As of today, the race for the Democratic nomination is down to two candidates.  However, for many months, Martin O’Malley was still maintaining his campaign run, despite being labelled as an unidentified man in a newspaper article, portraying him standing next to Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

Although he retired his campaign, I can’t help but wonder why he never cultivated any momentum in the race.  Martin O’ Malley is a liberal’s wet dream.  He is one of the very few politicians to stand up to Wall Street. He’s a proponent of strict gun regulations.  He is an avid supporter of expanding social programs and he’s even in favor of paving a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Unfortunately for O’Malley, Bernie Sanders has ‘out-lefted’ him.  Martin O’Malley may give every hipster a boner however, Bernie Sanders can trigger a complete orgasm!  Bernie is so liberal, he’s a fucking socialist!  Sander has served his entire career as a nonconforming independent, which is very refreshing in today’s political sphere.

Then, there’s Hillary Clinton, of whom  O’Malley is certainly no match.  The self-proclaimed ‘pragmatic progressive’ has more publicity than the Queen of England, courtesy to her ‘casanova’ husband. Ever since Clinton was elected senator in 2001, she carved out a place for herself within the Democratic Establishment, marketing herself as a strong-willed, ambitious woman in a boys club.

So you have the mainstream, establishment candidate with a vagina and the rebellious Socialist with an attitude.  So where does that leave Martin O’Malley?  He’s just an ordinary male Democratic politician.  Nothing special about him.  Therefore, he is useless in media coverage.

News channels are not broadcast to inform the public. They are designed, specifically, to attract rating, under the guise of education. Terrorism threats, scandals, child kidnappings, weight loss schemes–this are just a few of the myriad methods utilized by cable new executives to manipulate monkeys like us.  Ironically, the more we watch the news, the less informed we are.  The less informed we are, the more money media moguls make.

 

Films do well only because of 3 reasons … entertainment, entertainment, entertainment … and I am entertainment- Vidya Balan in ‘Dirty Picture’

 

Law & Order SVU: Strawman Distortion

Recently, I watched an episode of Law & Order: SVU.  Although I’m not a fan of the Nancy-Gracesque black-and-white mentality the program is known for, I often find myself at the edge of my seat during each episode.  The TV show’s portrayal of stories ‘ripped from the headlines’ is nothing shoLawAndOrderSVU_P.jpgrt of addicting.

So I was unbearably disappointed with an episode from its 15th season entitled “Comic Perversion”.  Unless you’d strayed away from the Internet in 2012, you probably recognize parallels between the episode story-line and the rape joke controversy involving ‘comedian’ Daniel Tosh.

Let’s debrief on some relevant background information. Daniel Tosh is a very unfunny man who, inexplicably, was given his own show, Tosh.O, by Comedy Central. He dived into off-color humor, following legends including Redd Fox, George Carlin and Bill Hicks. However, unlike those pioneering icons, Daniel Tosh could never figure out how to comically present his offensive material.  Nevertheless, he is highly fortunate enough to attract a cult fan base Tosh_small1consisting of lost souls infatuated with vulgarity for its own sake.

On July 10th, 2012, a blog entitled Cookies for Breakfast published a post written by a woman who claimed that Tosh made a series of rape jokes.  When she yelled out “Actually, rape jokes are never funny!” Tosh responded, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now?”

I’ll return to Daniel Tosh but let’s summarize the episode.  Basically, a comedian named Josh Galloway performed a stand-up routine in a comedy club near a university.  Some of material included misogynistic remarks spattered with a couple of rape jokes.  He was Law & Order: Special Victims Unitwell-received by the student audience, which included female students.  However, a girl named Renee (who appeared in a previous episode) and her friends staged a protest, leading Galloway to awkwardly bring Renee up on stage.  He agreed with her that rape is horrible, however, according to the ‘rule of three’, gang rape is hilarious.  Can’t argue with that logic, right?! As Renee walked back to her down, three boys, inspired by Galloway’s ‘insight’, assaulted the girl.  Yeah…because college students are that impressionable…..please!

Renee reports the crime to Olivia Benson, the Amazonian Protector of  Victims and Advocate of Feminist Ideals. I like Olivia but her character can be excessively melodramatic. In this scenario, she makes the outrageous claim that the poorly-written offensive material of a no-name comic directly led to the victim’s assault.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Are you serial, Olivia?!  I’d expect this from those stupid, sanctimonious mothers who blame violent video games for school shootings.  But you’re supposed to be a professional law enforcement officer.  I thought you were better.

If you’re familiar with the trends of SVU episodes, I’m sure you can predict what happened next.  The focus shifted from the three assailants to Josh Galloway, who, unsurprisingly, turned out to be a total creep!  He met with Carly, the event organizer for his act, and had a few drinks with her.  During her state of intoxication, Josh Galloway brought her to his hotel room and took advantage, backwards and forwards.

Josh Galloway gets arrested, likening himself to Lenny Bruce, another raunchy satirist, as he’s dragged within sight of the paparazzi.  During the trial, Carly is slut-shamed by the Defense team, as is the case in all rape lawsuit (unfortunately :/).  After a leaked video revealing Carly’s sexually-charged behavior, the fortitude of the prosecutor’s case is undermined.

Renee decides to go rogue in entrapping Galloway.  She meets him in a bar.  He takes her to his hotel room, stupidly unable to recognize her even after she takes her glasses off.  Galloway decides to have her way with her, captured by a microcamera in the glasses, before Renee, in exerting feminine strength, kicks him in the gonads and takes off, with the glasses. The Prosecutor uses the video to file a new lawsuit against Galloway, forcing him to register as a sex offender for ten years.

This episode is subtly utilizing Galloway’s character as a crude strawman representation of all off-color comedians.  An SVU officer refers to him as “one of those rape comic”, because apparently rape comedy is a genre of stand-up routines! This episode claims that a comedian who tell rape jokes is promoting rape!  Obviously, the producers of Law & Order: SVU don’t understand stand-up comedy.

Daniel Tosh was not promoting rape during that controversial routine.  Was his joke poor in taste?  Yes, which is unsurprising for Daniel Tosh.  A criterion of a skilled stand-up comedian is the ability to take a dark, polarizing topic and transform it into something the audience can casually laugh at, without a shred of guilt.

Let’s talk about Lenny Bruce, since his name was mentioned in this episode.  Known forMTE5NTU2MzE2MTY3Mzc0MzQ3 his conviction for obscenity (posthumously pardoned by New York governor, George Pataki), Bruce devoted his entire career to exposing the ‘sickness of society’.  He lived during a very turbulent era in American history, with threats of nuclear bombs and race riots.  He comically touched on racism, religion and misguided attitudes on patriotism, along with his own Jewish heritage.

How about George Carlin?  As the guy known for his “Seven Dirty Words” routine, Carlin doesn’t shy away from controversy.  In fact, during a stand-up show, he actually pointed out the hypocrisy in our aversion towards rape jokes before proceeding with the following material:

“Picture Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd. See, hey why do you think they call him “Porky,” eh? I know what you’re going to say. “Elmer was asking for it. Elmer was coming on to Porky. Porky couldn’t help himself, he got a hard-on, he got horny, he lost control, he went out of his mind.” A lot of men talk like that. A lot of men think that way. They think it’s the woman’s fault. They like to blame the rape on the woman. Say, “she had it coming, she was wearing a short skirt.” These guys think women ought to go to prison for being cock teasers. Don’t seem fair to me.”

download (7)Is George Carlin advocating rape?  Considering he is a staunch proponent of women’s rights, I doubt it!  They’re jokes.  Jokes are supposed to be funny, and not at all meant to be politicized by SJW third-wave feminists!

Let me mention one more thing.  The Season 14 finale of SVU featured a special guest star.  I’ll give you a hint.  He’s a boxer with a distracting speech impediment.  That’s right…Mike Tyson!  Yes, the brilliant producers of SVU decided to hire a convicted rapist to play a wrongfully convicted prisoner on death row!

So while SVU is passive-aggressively bashing comedians for their contentious performances, they has no problem with an actual rapist performing with the rest of the cast?  Irony much?

Satire is tragedy plus time. You give it enough time, the public, the reviewers will allow you to satirize it. Which is rather ridiculous, when you think about it.                                                                                                                                                                                          –Lenny Bruce

 

America: A Military Corporate Plutocracy

 

The United States came from humble origins.  After being unjustly taxed without parliamentary representation, economically barred from trade due the influence of certain corporations on the British goveSpirit_of_76.jpgrnment, deprived of journalistic freedom, and denied habeas corpus, a formidable brigade of colonial farmers and merchants took up arms against the mother country and secured independence for the thirteen colonies, which evolved into the first thirteen states of the United States of America.

I am not one to romanticize the efforts of the Patriots.  They were slave-holding, racist and often, very belligerent.  In today’s political climate, the Sons of Liberty would have been justifiably labelled a terrorist organization for their burning of private property ,’tar-and-feathering’, and other instances of physical harassment against the loyalists.

As Americans, we have to be honest about our history. The founding fathers were not interested in democracy.  Only property-owning White men were granted the privileges of political representation.

Nevertheless, the founding fathers established the first secular republic in a world dominated by monarchies .  No one was under the soles of the established aristocracy, the Church of England or the British Parliament whose members were elected through ‘virtual representations’.

The United States operated under the principle that a person was a individual entitled to civil rights and the freedom to define himself.  Unfortunately, our country would have to wait several decades before that principle was extended to women and certain people of color.

In addition, the United States would be the antithesis of imperialism.  George Washington asserted we would not be Europe, conquering other nations in order to reap economic spoils.  In fact, Washington urged complete isolationism, expressing detest towards political alliances.  We were our own country and we would not get involved in another country’s affairs.

Boy, how times have changed!!

We’ve fought our share of battles with Britain and Mexico during the 19th century.  Hell, we even tried to conquer Canada over two hundred years ago!! However, the genesis of America’s neocolonialist quest can be traced to the Spanish-American War.

In the 1890’s, the Cuban began agitating for independence from Spain. After all, who wants to be overruled by a much of futbol-crazed drunks speaking Spanish with a gay lisp?!  This campaign for independence attracted the interests of the US.  Was it because the Americans related the Cuban fight for sovereignty with their own struggle with Great Britain?

Nope! You see, during the later half of the 19th century, American businessmen capitalized, and ultimately monopolized the Cuban sugar market.  In fact, these opportunists bought sugar for staggering low prices and made a profit in American cities.  With 90% of its exports being received by the United States, the Cubans had a more formidable rapport with America than with their colonial masters .

After a US Navy ship was sunk near the Havana harbor, President William McKinley, pressured by his colleagues, declared war against Spain.  Allying themselves with the Cubans, the war with Spain spread into the Pacific.  Long story short, the Spanish Empire ceased to exist as its possessions, including Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines, were ceded to the United States.

Now America was the new kid with an attitude! As the 20th century progressed, Britain, France and Germany lost their ability to dominate dark-skinned heathens in Africa and Asia, while the United States emerged as a superpower.

And we know the saying: Power Corrupts.

The United States of America was the over-muscular, alpha-male jock of the world. However, there was another over-muscular, alpha-male jock: The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

So America and the Soviet Union had no choice but to engage in a series of weight-lifting, arm-wrestling, dick-waving competitions in order to determine who would rule the school.  And yes, international politics is basically a stereotypical high school only found in those poorly-contrived teen flicks.

It was Capitalism (depending on how to define ‘capitalism’) verses Communism (although I’m sure Karl Marx would be rolling in his grave at the mere mention of the USSR). The Soviet Union was the godless dystopia. So the United States inserted “Under God” in the bloody pledge of allegiance and “In God we Trust” in our bloody currency, despite our notably extensive tradition of religious skepticism exemplified by the works of Mark Twain and Robert Ingelsoll.  The Soviet Union was devoid of free enterprise so we scorned the mere mention of social programs, despite the positive residual impact that socialist-leaning labor movements in the early 20th century had on the comtemporary workplace.

The Soviet Union was an authoritarian regimes ruled by a mustached tyrant with an iron fist.  Therefore, we propagated ourselves as the advocates of democracy.  

We were indeed the messengers of liberty when we deposed the democratically elected Iranian president Mohammed Mossedegh, a socialist with an ambition to nationalize Iranian oil.  

We were the bearers of freedom when we deposed the democratically-elected Guatemalan president Jacobo Arbenz and installed the military dictatorship of Carlos Castillo Armas, who formed Latin America’s first death squad.  Or we can talk about Chile’s Salvador Allende being replaced by General Augusto Pinochet, who consulted our ‘Chicago Boys’ on his economic policies while displacing over 80,000 Chileans into concentration camps.

Perhaps we can give a brief shoutout to the House of Saud in Saudi Arabia, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo in Equatorial Guinea, Idriss Deby in Chad, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, and Prayut Chan o Cha in Thailand.  All Authoritarian regimes currently supported by the United States.

Let’s not forget our cordial friendship with Saddam Hussein.  A name which brought fear to ordinary Iraqis during the 1980’s and 1990’s.  Let’s not forget when the City of Detroit granted him the key to the city.  He was our BFF!  Until he invaded Kuwait and threatened our oil field.

After stepping out of line, he was now a ruthless dictator!

And how can we neglect Pakistan? Dear Old Pakistan!  In the 1980’s, Muhammed Zia ul-Haq was our BFF after (allegedly) assassinating that democratically-elected, left-leaning Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (those guys are always such pests!).  Our collaboration in Operation Cyclone was invaluable, especially when we armed the mujahadeen, who later evolved into the Taliban.  But hey, who’s counting?  We had to fight the common enemy (USSR).  So what if we indirectly caused the surge in Islamist radicalism?

During the 1960’s and 1970’s, our government drafted young men to find the Vietcong.  For more than a decade, soldiers were sent to die for a misguided, futile war started under false pretenses.  In the processes, thousands of Vietnamese laborers suffered strenuously as their lives were destroyed by Napalm.

Nothing changed thirty years later when young men risked their lives to fight in a foreign country under false pretenses.  Our government and our media made us believe in the pretense of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.  We were justified in invading an entire country and toppling their government. After all, we were liberators. Until we realized there was no Weapons of Mass Destruction.  Only then we realized the role Halliburton and Blackwater played in  so-called Operation Enduring Freedom.

Support our Troops.  Yea, we support our troops.  And Bill Cosby is a chivalric gentleman!

Military service is no longer an honorable position.  It hasn’t been an honorable position for sixty years.  A soldier is nothing more than a pawn of the military-industrial complex. The intersection between governmental agency and the corporate elite results in the exploitation of the ordinary American.  We see this in the prison system. We see this with corn subsidies.  We see this with Big Pharma and the overall American Health Care System.

Our nation is the opposite of what that local farmer in Massachusetts envisioned when he picked up that rifle and faced the incoming British army with defiance.  I don’t think the merchant from New York would see a difference between economic manipulation from the East India Company and modern American crony capitalism.  I’m sure even George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would turn their heads in disgust of neocolonialist intervention and the constant curbing of our civil liberties.

“America is rotting away, and don’t expect Barack Obama to save it”                                                                                                                                                                        – Gore Vidal

Technology and Legal Precedents

For those of you living underground and interacting with mole people, there is currently a nauseating battle, here on the surface, between the Federal Bureau of Investigations and Apple Inc.

Now, I know what you are thinking: Fuck Apple!  And fuck their overhyped, exorbitant products!

A well-proportionate amount of the critiques targeted towards Apple are justified. I’m overwhelmed with guilt just for using my iPhone, acknowledging the cruel labor conditions young children in Chinese factories have to endure in making these products.

Of course, I could say the same about most of my clothing and furniture.

First World Problems, eh?

Nevertheless, I think Apple is correct in maintaining resilience against the FBI’s provocations.  And yes, they are unreasonable provocations.

This fierce battle is tied to the San Bernardino Shooting perpetrated by Syed Rizwan Farook, a health inspector for the San Bernardino County Dept of Public Health, and his Pakistani-born wife Tashfeen Malik.  In the aftermath of the shooting, the FBI recovered an county-own iPhone 5C used by Farook.images.jpg

The FBI obtained access to Farook’s iCloud backups.  However, the backups only extended to October.  FBI officials deduced that there must be pieces of information within the iPhone itself that could potentially solve the puzzle.

The FBI performed the brilliant tactic of resetting the iCloud password.  This strategy did the opposite of the intended objective.  If they had been smart, the FBI could have easily brought the iPhone within a Wifi network, plug it into power, allowing a new backup which they could have accessed.

So basically the FBI kicked themselves in the balls, and proceeded to slice them off!

Now, FBI officials could attempt to guess the iPhone’s passcode using any set of combinations.  However, with the iPhone 5C, they would only get ten tries. Therefore. the FBI is now demanding Apple engineers to create a new version of an IOS, allowing them unlimited attempts to guess the passcode before an auto-erase function is activated.

Despite all of Apple’s flaws, its products are notable for their highly advanced security-features, including the auto-erase function. This hypothetical IOS that the FBI is proposing would undermine the safety assurance numerous Apple customers rely on by weaken its encryption platform.

The FBI is essentially being given a ‘master key’ to unlock Farook’s iPhone.  Although they may claim that this ‘master key’ will only be used for this particular iPhone, one cannot be too paranoid this day and age.  There are twelve pending cases involving iPhones in which the FBI is requesting Apple to crack the code. Given its history, the FBI is the last organization I would trust.

If Apple was to comply with the FBI orders, a precedent will be set allowing the FBI and other government agency to make similar demands to any company.  While I sympathize with the emotional turmoil the loved ones of the victims are going through, our personal liberty, along with cyber-security, should never be negotiated.

We must understand that not only this request unfeasible but it is also illegal. While FBI cites the  Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act and the All Writs Act as grounds for its orders, their reasoning is nothing more than mental gymnastics.

Under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, companies are not responsible for decrypting communications under section 1002b(3). Furthermore, in a case involving a drug dealer, James Orenstein, a US magistrate judge from Brooklyn ruled the All Writs Act, a federal statute  authorizing the courts to “issue all writs (written orders) necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law”, does not extend to unlocking an iPhone.

Perhaps our laws have not advance to the level of accommodating modern technology.  This mind-numbing case is one of many debates involving the battle between cyber-security and national security.  I suppose law enforcement personal, our judges and other elected officials need to be more technologically-literate in order to ensure the safety of our nation without resorting to impractical, and potentially dangerous requests.

How Martyrdom leads to Sainthood

Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, John F Kennedy

In every history text book in every classroom, these men are revered as immaculate demigods. To utter a single disparaging comment towards them would be social suicide.

The accomplishments of these men cannot be negated. They were all great Americans who influenced the zeitgeist of their time. And unfortunately, they all succumbed to an untimely death.

However, we must remember that our heroes are still human, enslaved to their moral weaknesses. While our history teachers recall the significance these men had in history, constructive criticism is absolutely necessary.

Unfortunately our society places an undeserving reverence for the non-living. We all know the adage:”Don’t speak ill of the dead”. This cultural tendency becomes more apparent when a particular individual is assassinated. He/s earns the badge of matyrdom and joins the pantheon of apostles and saints, singing in the heavenly kingdom.

However, we need to analyze the shortcomings of our beloved martyrs, so we can learn from their mistakes. Humanity can only move forward through constructive criticism.

Martin Luther King

King was one of the most influential figures in the 1960s Civil Rights movement. His fiery yet inspirational rhetoric and charismatic personality motivated American Blacks to fight against the systematic racial oppression they endured in their own country.

Some of us are aware of MLK’s shortcoming. His unfaithfulness and colorful sex life, along with allegations of plagiarism of his doctoral dissertation are among the few.

It’s hilarious how the political right also promotes King’s sacred cow status. Some conservatives claim Martin Luther King was a Republican.index.jpg

Au Contaire! King was a radical socialist, even to the left of the likes of Bernie Sanders! He was a staunch proponent of affirmative action and racial quotas. He even proposed reparations for Blacks.

I will dedicated another blog post towards my views on affirmative action and reparations. Long story short, I’m against them. I think those policies give preferential treatment to certain minority groups and will only exacerbate racial tensions in this country. These policies will only open a big can of worms that will never be closed.

I have nothing against Martin Luther King as a civil rights icon. However, we should be able to analyze and critique proposals our beloved historical figures promoted.

Abraham Lincoln

Our 16th president is hailed as the ‘Great Emancipator ‘. In 1860, Lincoln ran for the presidency on an anti-slavery platform, to the ire of Southern aristocrats. Although he is lauded by American Blacks for his convictions and advocacy of freedom, Lincoln was also guilty of numerous human rights violations.

Long before Guantanamo, there was Camp Douglas.  Located in Chicago, this was a concentration camp where Confederate POWs were held, consuming spoiled meat and deprived of basic sanitation. Malaria and other diseases were rampant and if the prisoners didn’t die from them, they were almost guaranteed  to meet the angel of Death in the winter, as lack of shelter lead to hypothermia.Abraham_Lincoln_November_1863.jpg

Lincoln wasn’t exactly the progressively -minded egalitarian whom we perceive him to be. He scorned the idea that Blacks were of the same dignity as Whites. He even advocated relocating Blacks slaves to Africa in order to keep the US ‘pure’ and white.

Your history teacher may not tell you this, but Lincoln was not the ‘Great Emancipator’ we know and love. Ever heard of Gen.David Hunter?

Hunter led his Union troops to victory in South Carolina, Florida and Georgia. After regaining control of those states, he granted freedom to the slaves living in those respective regions. However due to his own ego, Lincoln reversed Hunter’s proclamation. While Lincoln did eventually issue the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, it is evident his arrogance came before human rights.

During his term, Lincoln undermined the freedom of the press. He enforced censorship and had his critics deported. He also did not hesitate to suspend habeas corpus.

Obama is currently being branded as a dictator for the healthcare mandate in the Affordable Care Act.. Yet somehow, Abraham Lincoln gets a free pass?

John F Kennedy

Hailing from a prominent Irish-American clan from Massachusetts, JFK rose to become the first Roman Catholic president (although he probably wasn’t the best adherent to Theology of the Body). He was intelligent and dynamic. Plus he had enough game to make Bill Clinton look like a homosexual!

Although he only served for two years before being assassinated by a communist-sympathizer, Kennedy’s term was impactful during the Cold War, an ill-conceived proxy battle between two superpowers wagging their dicks.images (1).jpg

Kennedy was a belligerent war hawk who would have been considered a ‘neocon’ in today’s political climate. His Bay of Pigs invasion was a terrible idea that ended in failure.  However, to his credit, Kennedy’s refusal to increase American presence in Vietnam deserves praise, compared to his successor, Lyndon B Johnson.

Although he is often portrayed as a proponent of Civil Rights, Kennedy was not as instrumental, as he could only afford to pay lip service to the movement. He was actually more concerned with securing votes for the 1964 elections from Southern Democrats, a pro-segregation lot who later allied themselves with the Republican Party via Nixon’s Southern Strategy.  Let’s not forget, Kennedy was, above all, a politician.

****

I mentioned this point in another post and I’ll reiterate it again. Our society’s promotion of saints and heroes is absurd. At the end of the day, whether you are high-ranking politician, a social activist, a religious cleric, or a shitkicker from Kansas, we are all human. We are all subjected to our moral weaknesses and cultural standards of the era we are living in.

No one deserves to be venerated. Not one person. Not even Jesus. Or Chuck Norris

However, we should not dismiss the achievements of notable personalities, because of their sexual promiscuity, racism or inflated egos. While we shouldn’t worship them, we can still be inspired by their feats.