Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cheaters Always Win, or, Can Anyone Tell Me How One Might Launder My Drug Money?

I know I bitch about jobs and the economy a lot. I mean, being barely employed and dealing with my bank puts me in a mood.

But today amidst my post-bank-conversation bitterness, I got to thinking, I'm trying to do this the right way. I don't spend money frivolously, I work hard when there is work, and only spend the earnings on bills and my once-a-week sanity maintenance regimen of beers and politics.

But the bank couldn't forgive this fee, or release that check, because I went to Starbucks last week and bought a small coffee, which clearly means I'm irresponsible.

Fuck You bank. Fuck you lots.

Stomping around Center City I had an "Office Space" moment: I thought, "I've done things right so far and I'm still getting shat upon. So why not cheat? Why not break the rules? Why not steal and embezzle and con my way through life, because it seems that is the only way to survive these days."

Then I realized that I don't know a thing about crime, or embezzlement, and would likely look up "How To Rob A Bank" on Yahoo Answers and get arrested immediately (I wonder if there's some sort of correspondence course on Pyramid Schemes).

Just so you know this isn't all about me (60-40 me?), I've been thinking along these same lines regarding the Republican candidate for awhile now.

Mitt Romney leaned on the accomplishments of his parents, risked other peoples money to invest and stood on the shoulders of workers, (more accurately laid off-workers http://bit.ly/OTnC7r), and is rolling in dough. Rather than working the system and earning his place, he gamed the system and he won his place.

He never committed a crime, but it sure as shit was immoral.

The idea that cheaters always win has become a commonplace strategy. Karl Rove outed a CIA agent, Voter ID Laws are being passed and Planned Parenthood is being gutted.

All this because the right can't justify a war's legality, they can't get votes because they alienate most of the country, and they can't make abortion illegal. So they cheat to get their way.

Mitt lies on stage and wins a Debate.

Ryan barges into a non-profit soup kitchen, pretends to clean dishes and leaves after fifteen minutes. All so he can appear compassionate http://huff.to/VfigGb.

The facade of truth doesn't even matter anymore, because both dudes will come out looking golden.

The idea that someone can start out as a bag-boy and end up the CEO of grocery is a myth. Maybe once this was possible, but that was when the Middle-Class was strong and the government supported it's citizenry with job and retirement programs.

Another Republican touted myth I hate hearing about is the so-called "Meritocracy." Mitt didn't merit his wealth, and the idea that only by hard work and determinism can one earn the American Dream is extremely rare, or just a myth propagated by those who are justifying their immense wealth.

(Put this in your pipe and smoke it: Republicans care more about tax-breaks than earned income tax credits. See what I did there?)

Mitt's style of Venture Capitalism is a perfect example. He doesn't make anything, at best he makes money of of what someone else has already made. At worst, and the majority of the time, he profits off of their dismantling.

And what's more, he can say he is agains't big government, like the Auto Industry Bailout, while simultaneously profiting off of it http://bit.ly/U9a092. You would think that he would support the bailout as he benefits from it. But if he did he would have to admit to gaming the system. Cheaters don't often like admitting that they cheat.

One interesting but related side note, many people who decry the Federal Deficit profit off it by buying very reliable US Bonds which have a solid rate of return http://wapo.st/uQ8DNP. Including people who increased the US Debt like George W Bush (can't find the link saying Bush invests in US Bonds, but buying US Bonds is a common practice among Hedge Funds, because it's such a safe bet http://bit.ly/RzSHxz).

All that said, I know for a fact that the Obamas earned their place, they may have relied on family or other external sources for support but they never cheated to get where they are. And a little Affirmative Action does not mean they didn't earn their degrees http://huff.to/T3H6an.

I'm also sure they benefited from Nepotism at some point, but who doesn't? It's what you do with it, and whether you come out the other end with enough respect to look yourself in the mirror the next day.

Mitt, obviously hires someone to shave him and brush his teeth, so he has never had the chance to look himself in the eyes. Or maybe he is a Vampire, either way he doesn't deserve to win... come to think of it Ryan does kinda look like two well known Vampires....hrmmm


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Obama Won the Debate, or, Spot the Sly Stallone Movie Reference and I'll Buy You A Drink.

Despite Obama's supposed loss to Romney during the first debate, it was incredibly fun to watch Chris Matthews lose his shit over Obama's debate performance. By MSNBC's reaction you would have thunk that it was election night, Romney wins, and after  being sworn in he removes his mask to reveal he was George W. Bush in disguise the whole time (so that's where he's been).

"Hey ev'rybody! 'Meber me! I had Carl Rove kill Mittens 4 years ago! Hey ev'rybody, who wants to invade Iran!"

So why does everyone think that Obama lost so badly? Expectations. What we expected was to see a blundering, bewildered gaffe-ridden Romney get spanked by one of the greatest orators in Presidential history.

But according to the All-Day Opinion Generating Media Machine what we saw was was a gestural and aggressive Romney laying a beat-down on the contained and weak Obama.

What actually happened was two carefully thought out campaign strategies played out, and I don't see any other way they could have played out.

Romney had to be aggressive because was losing ground in the polls and needed to catch peoples attention, especially after looking so inept so frequently on the campaign trail http://bit.ly/RYsYPe.

Obama's campaign expected this, and wanted to counter his aggressiveness with the cool, calm and collected demeanor that worked so well in '08 against Clinton and a spastic and tense McCain.

(Obama also has an attack-dog in Biden, whom, as we will hopefully see on Thursday, will demonstrate the aggressive side to the ticket http://bit.ly/P94sFe.)

I will admit that after re-watching the debate in it's entirety I was disappointed that Obama didn't counter Romney on any of his factual errors (and there were plenty of opportunities to do so). He spoke only to his rehearsed talking points, and didn't expect to or plan to respond to Romney's assertions on the fly, which was his mistake.

He may have been expecting the media to do the fact-checking for him, using his own points as stand-alone proof that he is the better choice, admittedly not the best task to trust them with.

Then again the week since the debate the media and fact-checking organizations have done a decent enough job sifting through Romney's bullshit http://bit.ly/ReD61Y.

And if you had paid close attention, Romney did exactly what I ranted about last week, he shook the Etch-A-Sketch and completely erased the narrative he established during his campaign. Which only demonstrates the campaign strategy he has deployed before; "shake up" his opinions based on what he thinks will best get him elected.

A strategy that has worked against him and will continue to do so.

So enhance your calm, dear liberal drinkers. In my possibly naive optimism I think Romney's debate bump to be temporary, and that the facts will play out to Obama's favor http://bit.ly/SMIjmq.

Let's just let things play out over the next couple of debates, expect to see both candidates alter strategy post-debate, and look forward to Biden doing what he does best on Thursday night http://on.fb.me/UPV4Iw.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Romney, former Governor & Sears Portrait Photographer, or, Who Broke the Etch-A-Sketch

Quick question, wasn't the Romney campaign supposed to shake their candidate up like an Etch-A-Sketch to erase his far-right opinions that carried him all the way to the nomination?

Weren't those extreme policies purposed to position him in on par with Pawlenty Santorum and Bachmann?

And once he was the nominee, wasn't he supposed to return to the center to appeal to a larger electorate? Erase the lines carved from the surface, drawn so far to the right he was barely recognizable as the former Governor of Massachusetts?

Wasn't the plan to shake the newly minted nominee and reset his image now that he doesn't have to compete with others for the love and acceptance of a small group of costumed crazy-people occupying the lunatic fringe, carrying poorly spelled and often racist signs?

Their Etch-A-Sketch must be broken, it's knobs stuck, only able to go to the right, the drawing moving slowly in circles down and to the right, down and to the right, down and to the right.

It must have been handled by a three year old, who aggressively and clumsily carved into the image the simplified drawings only a child could conceive.

A child who can only repeat actions, mimic what they see creating simple and rudimentary imagery over and over again. Easily distracted by the people dressed so fantastically on the loud and colorful television.

Romney is now permanently stuck on a stylus handled by a clumsy campaign, easily losing the attention of most of the country and trying to hold the attention of a bunch of toddlers who require flash and color and simple words and actions, like a photographer at Sears trying to get a 2 year old to stop screaming.

In the words of Barney Frank, Romney has crossed a line from "independent into incoherent," http://nbcnews.to/QJzlEh and has very little time to fix the Etch-A-Sketch, shake it up and get back to running for the Presidency of the entire country. But it's not looking good, which will be fun to watch at tomorrow's debate.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

More than just a gaffe, or, Mitt Romney was born a poor black child

So Romney is failing miserably at convincing voters that he has the economic credentials to 'fix' the economy, which is THE single issue he is resting his campaign on (at least part of his staff thinks so, the other half not so much http://bit.ly/RbhUxI).

And according to his economic training at the School-For-Rich-People-Who-Need-To-Allay-Their-Guilt-For-Being-Rich, 47% percent of Americans are freeloading non-tax payers who depend on Obama to wipe their asses and feed them their food-stamped Mac 'n' Cheese, while the real Americans, like him pay lots and lots of taxes.

Which is funny because he doesn't pay income taxes, so he must not care about himself, or people like him who also don't pay income tax and benefit from Government largess, so what he really means is he does care about those of us who do pay taxes and struggle day to day, so in a brilliant campaign move he is reaching out to progressive voters and bucking his rich backers. He really cares! Vote Romney!

Or maybe he doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about http://huff.to/S3cS6i.

He is also failing to prove his foreign policy chops by yelling at the President for a statement never made about an attack that hadn't happened as of said statement. Because the best way to handle an extremely explosive situation is by defending and offensive film with worse production value than porn http://huff.to/PCdEpd, in which the only way to convince people to participate is by lying to them and dubbing over their lines with vitriolic hate-mongering bullshit http://bit.ly/PsnnhJ.

If the half of his campaign that realizes his economic record is weak wins over the other half, then what they have left is foreign policy, which even prior to Romney's glowing review of "the Innocence of the Muslims" was confused and unapologetically misinformed.

So to conclude, we got this. Even conservative's attempt at suppressing the vote is struggling to survive http://huff.to/QltsfY.

And when a 12 year old from Colorado knows that you don't have a chance http://huff.to/QjoMnT, you know you're screwed

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Republican Conceptual Art, or, the Seat of DOOOOOM!

(Originally posted for Drinking Liberally Philadelphia http://bit.ly/PZjmBn)

No one moment defines the current wave of 16th century inspired Conservatism (Neo-Proto-Conrvatism?) than Clint Eastwood's debate with a chair.

Now I don't necessarily agree that he's senile or possibly insane, I actually kind of agree with Bill Maher http://huff.to/Q2sOQi, Eastwood was asked to surprise the Convention, and as an entertainer he chose to attempt a highly conceptual comedy bit casually asking questions on every Republican's mind. Where I disagree with Maher is that Eastwood failed miserably, he tried to do something different and simply failed.

Eastwood failed in creating a conceptually coherent bit because the premise was inherently false, in between rambling and even going off accepted Republican script by criticism the war in Afghanistan, he didn't ask any valid questions for their opponent, only what Republicans imagine of their opponent.

There in-lies Republican's conceptual problem, their qualms with Obama are not based in fact, but pure racism and fear. The conceptual Obama falls apart because the answers Republicans expect are not answered by actual policy or the downfall of America, but are answered by the loudest and most racist of the movement.

First we have Walker Texas Ranger prophesying 1000 years of darkness if Barack Beelzebub Obama is reelected http://huff.to/TiJXtI.

Then the son of a country legend who's career highlight is a football theme song states that there's a secret (but not so secret because are you ready for some football) Gay Muslim in the White House who hates farming, fishing and Daisy Duke http://huff.to/OSK5z3.

Then there's this Tea Party peach who is soundly taken down by Soledad O'Brien and our very own mayor Michael Nutter http://huff.to/OkhHTQ. She says that Obama sucks because he is not making rash decisions and forcing US will on French Cheese-Eating-Surrender-Monkeys and invading...uh...I think it was Syria, yeah I heard about that on the news recently.

My point is that these people aren't crazy, they aren't senile, they are just wrong. Their arguments are coming from an imaginary black guy sitting in a chair who is different than you and very scary who unfortunately for them doesn't actually exist.

What the Dems need to do this week is set up a chair of their own and have Biden ask why Republicans are constantly saying 'no' to Obama while never presenting any viable alternatives. The non-existent person represented by the empty seat would be an accurate representation of Republicans because they haven't provided any real policy alternative, only fear, racism and old celebrities who were in that thing I watched that one time on AMC.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

This one goes out to all the ladies, or, Republican Playground Sex Laws

To begin I am assuming that we are adults here and I can talk about adult things. If you for some reason let your kids read my rants, then that's just weird, you are a weird parent. But it's okay if they read this because kids should know about certain things, otherwise they end up stupid Republicans that don't know how basic human reproduction works.

So this may be strange to some women, but my Dad was an OB/GYN. So my sex-ed included medical journals laying around the house with very un-sexy diagrams, as well as dinner-time jokes that I didn't quite understand about his day at work. My dad also asked me what I knew about herpes when I was 20 years old.

That being said my education, if strange was clinical, comprehensive and scientifically accurate.
So I was often surprised at the ignorance I experienced from kids my age, in what they believed as far as how a girl could or could not get pregnant, from the rhythm method as viable contraception, climaxing at the same time being the only way to conceive, to pregnancy resulting from anal sex. Seriously, I heard some weird shit.

What is most disturbing about Republicans nowadays is not necessarily their war on reproductive rights. It's that they base this war on the same kind of ignorance I saw from 8-16 year old kids.
Todd Akin is not some outlier, some Extremist Tea Partier who has fringe beliefs. He represents the mainstream Conservative Christian view on sex. Their ideology comes from a long history of bizarre laws governing sex form St. Augustine's denial of of pleasure, to Medieval laws dictating that sex was "banned on all Sundays ... as well as the 20 days before Christmas, the 40 days before Easter, and often the 20 days before Pentecost" which meant you could not have sex "about 40% of each year." http://bit.ly/PD6YpM.

Add another 16% due to the law about avoiding women during their period and more than half the year is off limits. Sorry folks.

That's just early Catholicism, lest we forget the Puritans and modern Evangelicals.
Ideology always is paramount with Republicans. And what follows justifies anything and everything regardless of how absurd the statement, ie, "God hereby sanctions the baby resulting from your Uncle raping you, so just lay there and enjoy it, you might as well."

Here are some more Republicans who's sex-ed began and ended on the playground: http: http://huff.to/OVDKUQ, http://bit.ly/NDqq7M.

So even though I feel well educated I still have no right to speak to women's reproductive rights because, well we all know why. So I'll let Rachel Maddow http://huff.to/O2uyfP and author Michelle Goldberg http://bit.ly/O1EpCD do the talking.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

History Repeats, or, Voting Is Just Like Fishing

Today Democracy Now! interviewed Representative John Lewis, 13 term congressman from Georgia and Civil Rights icon http://bit.ly/LLZrBz. They read a quote from his book about the how each progressive movement grows from the previous movement that I want to share:

"Just as Gandhi made it easier for King and King made it easier for Poland and Poland [made it easier] for Ireland [and] Ireland [made it easier] for Serbia [and] Serbia made it easier for the Arab Spring, [and] the Arab Spring made it easier for [the protests in] Wisconsin [and] Occupy."

It contrasts what I've been thinking lately about the voter ID laws. The conservative movement also learns from the previous generation, and they also get better at what they do. During the Civil Rights movement people were shot for registering people to vote, and beaten and arrested when attempting to legally register.

The new generation knows too well that this wouldn't fly (It's not "politically correct"). So the rhetoric now speaks of illegality and those who shouldn't vote because "if you can't get a legal ID you must be up to no good."

Things may not be as bad as on Montgomery of Selma, but codifying ID requirements for voting is not at all different from the IQ and literacy requirements of yore. And we all know how that went.
Whats so clever about the right's new talking points is how nice it sounds on the television. Normal everyday people see nothing wrong in the argument, I mean, they aren't advocating dogs and fire-hoses, they just want to be sure that everything is nice and legal, that when they go to vote they can be sure to have a nice fluffy feeling in their tummy.

One of my conservative friend made a comparison between and ID for voting to a Fishing License, that if he has to show and ID for a "stupid fish" why not for "the most sacred secular thing a citizen can do." Logical right?

Now it is easy for us to deconstruct that argument; that a fishing license is designed as a limit, a hindrance to over fishing and helps fund the policing of said limits. Similarly, voter IDs are a limiting factor, a hindrance to the "sacred act" of voting. Exactly what the Voting Rights Act made illegal.
Interestingly he also mentioned how easy it was to get an ID at the DMV so what's the big deal, while not a few days earlier saying how horrible it would be to get Healthcare at the DMV because those places are terrible and inefficient and hard to deal with. So you see that the place he is coming from is not a logical or well thought out place.

That being said their argument that they are simply trying to protect voting and make certain elections are legal and constitutional, is patently illegal and unconstitutional.

But those designing the rhetoric know that it is harder to deconstruct the "New and Improved Fluffy Legal" argument than the "Violence and Murder to keep Black people from Voting" argument. And they know well that nuance doesn't make good television, especially when pitted against Nice 'n' Fluffy.

Luckily, at least at the moment, there are pretty good people in charge who kinda know about what is legal and constitutional http://huff.to/O0Ugw2.

Smokey the Bear Gets Political, or, This Time It's Personal

I will be re-posting essays I write for Drinking Liberally Philadelphia http://bit.ly/fvjLTk. Here's last weeks entry about the political implications of the fires in my home-town of Colorado Springs:

--
(Original Post: http://bit.ly/LQhy7r)

In case last week you're head got caught in stair railing again, my home city of Colorado Springs was in the news. And as is always the case when C-Springs as we like to call it, it was bad news. In the past it's been about the religious wing-nuttery http://bit.ly/N61QFM or their first cousin conservative crazy-pantsery http://bit.ly/zsMOiA. Then there was this guy http://bit.ly/elZ6wL. For some reason C-Springs makes the kind of stories This American Life loves.

Now before I rant about the news, I want to preface it by saying emphatically, I love Colorado Springs. It sits at the base of the Rockies with every imaginable outdoor activity within reach, and the political/religious majority aside, people in the West are genuinely friendly. And the weather, global warming notwithstanding, is perfect; sunny, mild and dry. That being said it's hard to be from the Springs.

A little bit of history. The Springs was a relatively small mountain town with a bunch of military bases, including Central Command, previously located at NORAD nested deep inside a mountain topped with massive radio towers, a sight that never seemed out of the ordinary growing up.
In the late 70s and early 80s there was in influx of people from other states because taxes were low and there was plenty of open spaces to colonize. Organizations like Focus on the Family and New Life Church thrived.

As teenagers we had bumper stickers on our junker cars stating "Focus On Your Own Damn Family," parked outside coffee shops where we ranted about how the latest property tax proposal designed to fund schools was killed by the voters. Over the years I have witnessed my nice smallish town taken over and destroyed by zealotry.

There was also a move to develop the hell out of the town. Politicians bought buy developers pushed to build communities in places they didn't belong, either in to the Western foothills where your tiny dog/child will likely be eaten by a bear/mountain lion, or to the East in the arid plains, where no matter how hard you try you won't have that perfect green lawn you saw in Lawn & Garden Magazine.

So with this massive growth, increased conservatism, military and religious influence C-Springs was bound to turn into the conservative Utopia born from the wet-dreams of Pat Robertson and Grover Norquist.

If ever there was proof that the small government, pro-capitalism experiment has failed, my home town is that proof.

Not only are parks not mowed, street lights turned off, public pools privatized http://bit.ly/AF53Lg but essential public services like Firefighters cut to the point of uselessness http://bit.ly/MYpU0p (thanks to Brendan Skwire for that one).

The locals have been made so terrified of taxes as to be completely irrational. They would rather spend more of their own money to turn on one street light rather than have the government turn them all on for cheaper. They criticize Obama for showing up and giving Federal support for a thinly stretched local Fire Department, while their Tea-Party mayor begs Obama for money that his constituents refuse to give.

It is painful to watch places I frequented and see homes of old friends burn to the ground, but it is almost more painful to see my neighbors ask for help after decades of refusing to pay into a system designed to benefit everyone, especially in emergency situations like a Wildfire.
The proof is in the burnt pudding. The effects of Global Warming have never been more evident. Colorado's arid climate is made even dryer and has exacerbated a fire that my home city could barely put out.

Conservatism in practice doesn't work, and the consequences of it's implementation in my home town have been dire. Unfortunately the people there like to elect anti-tax slum-lords who are then jailed for tax evasion http://bit.ly/Njcefk.

*Audible Sigh

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Appropriations, or, Collage v Painting

Early collage studies and the paintings they became. I appropriated and re-contextualized figures from some of my favorite Matisse paintings. They began as an attempt to reconcile my love of Modern painting with my post-Post-Modern life as a cubicle denizen. They are small art historical jokes but I like the absurdity of placing a nude in a cubicle and the heavy handed painterly sensibility contrasted with the minimalistic office.

I always connected paint with the human hand, the paint as evidence of work. Painting the collages was an act of not only unifying the pictoral space, but the act added my hand, evidence of my own labor, to the dialogue between figure and space. While collage allowed me to heighten the contrast, painting allowed for more subtlety and gave me more control over the narrative. The collages demonstrate a blatant decision to force unrelated images together, but painting, while being as purposeful, is less heavy handed.

With both approaches I am asking the viewer to consider why a naked man is in a bank of office cubicles, to consider the human occupying said space, while reserving the right to explore that question through different methods.

At The Office Study, Collage 9"x12"
At The Office. Oil on Panel 24”x36”
Interactive Study, Collage 9"x12"
Interactive, Oil on Panel 8"x12"

Graduate Work

And thus I join the blogosphere. Is that one word or two? Shows you what I know; I had to look up what a 'hash-tag' was and it took a couple of reads before I got it. At any rate it's about time I actually post something here, and as learning web design takes too damn long, I'll start by posting examples of work I did in Graduate School and my official Artist's statement, such as it is. Here goes.

Statement

After struggling though nearly a decade of an unstable and unpredictable commercial design job-market, I chose to shift my focus to primarily making art. Two economic recessions and being laid-off twice has narrowed my focus towards art about the workplace, labor and unemployment. I have recently painted objects associated with labor such as cubicles and time-clocks, and have built cubicle-like spaces, all of which have become proxies for my experience.
When making paintings and installations about the workplace, I try to keep a story I heard on NPR in mind, as it acts as a conceptual umbrella for everything I do. It was about two neighboring countries, one with an eye towards democratic elections and the other towards disrupting those elections. To accomplish this disruption the later group bused in rioters. The idea of people being organized to riot was what interested me, and the image of people boarding a bus with a riot as it’s destination was irresistible. This story evoked contradictory images, one funny and one disturbing. I thought of going on field trips as a kid, this time boarding a bus labeled ‘Riot’, which stopped midway to have a nice box-lunch, then continuing on to the riot, then to a museum maybe. An absurd image. But I also found the premeditation required to plan chaos to be disturbing. There existed a simultaneity emotion in the NPR story, and the gulf between those emotions is where I found myself. I want to elevate the mundane, create that gulf for the viewer,  and use the above story as a filter for my experience.