Thursday, October 30, 2014

Why politics and voting matter so much to me

Mississippi state flag
Mississippi state flag
Some people might get the sense that I care too much or get too riled up about politics. I understand that. I talk to a lot of people who say they vote regularly, but they don't give it a whole great deal of thought, and they certainly don't get angry about it. Sometimes, they might even skip it if they get too busy. (I'm never that busy.)

My best attempt to explain my political passions can be summed up by this article, which talks about how the state of Mississippi is the worst at…well, just about everything imaginable.

As the author points out, Mississippi's horrendous statistics on obesity, heart disease, diabetes, mortality rates, and poverty make it a state that desperately, desperately needs the provisions of the Affordable Care Act — just as a start. (This says nothing at all about the rest of the social safety net, which the author describes as "threadbare" in Mississippi.)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Voter suppression well underway ahead of next week's elections

Georgia Republicans will stop at nothing to  prevent their state from turning this color.
Georgia Republicans will stop at nothing to
prevent their state from turning this color.
Remember what I said a couple months ago in my post about Republican voter suppression efforts? This is what I said:
The main point [of these efforts] isn't outright voter disenfranchisement so much as it is voter dissuasion. The authors of voting restriction laws know full well that news of these provisions will discourage a lot of constituents from even bothering to try to cast a ballot — particularly those who are most likely to be hindered.
Of course, all of that is true. But what's happening in Georgia right now is even worse. According to Think Progress, an admittedly partisan, agenda-driven organization:
Earlier this year, organizers fanned out across nearly every one of Georgia's 159 counties and registered nearly 90 thousand people who have never voted in their lives, most of them people of color, many of them under 25 years old. But when the groups checked back in late August, comparing their registration database to the state's public one, they noticed about 50,000 of the registrations had vanished, nearly all of them belonging to people of color in the Democratic-leaning regions around Atlanta, Savannah and Columbus.
Either Think Progress is just making shit up in the interest of its agenda — and boy, would this ever be a hell of a story if that's what was happening — or the highest-ranking government officials of the state of Georgia really are engaging in full-on voter disenfranchisement ahead of a U.S. Senate race there that the Democrats could very possibly win.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Thoughts on the 2014 midterm elections

Thoughts on the 2014 midterm elections
Here's how November 4 could turn out for the U.S. Senate if the polls turn out to be correct — and they may not be,
since polling this year has really sucked. See below for my comments on the states numbered on the map.
Damn, it's been a long time since I last posted on this blog. That's what happens when you're in your second year of graduate school, I guess. And with the way the electoral map looks for the U.S. Senate at this point, it's quite possibly a task I've been unconsciously avoiding.

But I need to do it, if only for cathartic purposes. So here goes. These are the five states most likely to decide control of the Senate, along with my commentary on each.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Subsidizing corporate welfare with low minimum wages

Well, folks, it's that time of year again when I simply don't have a single solitary hour of time to contribute to this blog. You can thank classes named psychopathology, sexual disorders, human growth and development, and so on.

So, today, I'll defer to Bill Maher to explain a conviction I've long held. I don't always like the guy — he can be more than a bit of a self-promotional ass — but he's pretty spot on with this one.

Food stamps. Health care. Housing assistance. If we as a society don't compel profit-hungry corporations to pay their workers a livable wage and benefits, guess whose responsibility that becomes?

Friday, August 29, 2014

A time to do for Mark Driscoll what he wouldn't do for others

Mark Driscoll. Photo: Mars Hill Church
I've talked about Mark Driscoll on this blog a time or two. Some of you may have heard of him; others may not. If you live in Seattle, you certainly have.

He's the highly publicized megachurch pastor who has built himself a small empire here in the Puget Sound region over the past decade or so, establishing (what some might wrongly think is) a hip place for disaffected young people to go and learn about Jesus in one of the most unchurched cities in the country.

He's akin to a shock jock and often makes deliberately provocative and offensive comments about gay people, women, our president, and almost anyone and anything else — all in the interest of keeping his name in the headlines.

Well, now his name is in the headlines more than it's ever been before, most assuredly for reasons he doesn't want.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Melancholy and manhood: A lonely, hidden battle

Abraham Lincoln and his somber countenance
It's the dog days of summer for me, which means it's the last two weeks of break before I head back for my second year of grad school, which means I'm using the down time to write as many posts as I can before this blog again has to play second fiddle to my studies.

I want to follow up on a post I wrote a week or two ago and expand on one of the points I made: "As someone who periodically struggles with depression myself, I always used to chastise myself for feeling a sense of profound melancholy when my circumstances are so good."

Again, I kind of hate the word "depression," and I definitely hate the word "clinical," and I absolutely despise the phrase "mental illness" in relation to this topic. The three put together all imply that there's something wrong with you, and that there's an obvious fix for it — just pop a pill once a day and you'll be good. Just like strep throat or something.

Abraham Lincoln had a well-documented history of what he and those close to him described as "the great melancholy." If you look at a picture of our 16th president, you can see it in his eyes. There's a heaviness to his appearance that goes well beyond the black-and-white, rigid attributes that typify portraits from the era in which he lived.

And you know what? When I look at a picture of Abraham Lincoln, I see — and feel — myself in his pensive gaze.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Don't worry. America isn't alone in harboring climate change deniers.

Don't worry. America isn't alone in harboring climate change deniers.

I don't often have the opportunity to defend the United States against the likes of other Western nations that are supposedly more "progressive" than we are. But this issue presents some serious low-hanging fruit. At least our president acknowledges that climate change is real and caused by human activity — and would do something about it if he wasn't up against a Congress whose only priority is to obstruct and sabotage.

On the other hand:
Stephen Harper and Tony Abbott, prime ministers of Canada and Australia respectively, are both evidently committed to the delusion that humanity isn't on the verge of environmental catastrophe caused by its own actions.

Mind you, these guys aren't a couple of bumpkins from somewhere on the plains of Saskatchewan or the parched hinterlands of the Outback. They're the leaders of two countries that American liberals often look upon with envy.

Canada and Australia: With all due respect, you'd better give them the boot — or it won't be long before your cities aren't great places to live anymore.