Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Is Democracy A Failure in America?

According to a recent round of Gallop polls, our representatives in Washington, D.C. have an unprecedented opportunity to execute some important legislation before the end of the year.

Poll number one asked Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike where they stood on stricter background checks for individuals looking to buy a gun. The results were as follows:

83 percent of Democrats said they supported stricter background checks.

81 percent of Republicans voted to support stricter background checks.

80 percent of Independents thought stricter background checks were needed.

On issue number one, 81 percent of all voters polled were in support of stricter background checks, which should send a clear message to Washington that it’s time to pass better legislation regarding how Americans acquire handguns.

Poll number two asked registered voters if they believed that gay and lesbian workers should be protected from discrimination based on sexual preference. The results were as follows:

80 percent of Democrats were against discrimination in the workplace.

75 percent of Independents were against such discrimination, as well.

60 percent of Republicans were on board with equality in the workplace.

On issue number two, 73 percent of all registered voters polled said they opposed discriminating people based on their sexual preference, sending another clear message to our legislators that it’s time to eliminate discrimination in the workplace.

Poll number three asked registered voters if they were in favor of an established path to citizenship for illegal immigrants to America. Even on this heated issue there was considerable agreement on which course of action to take.

86 percent of Democrats were in favor of a path to citizenship.

88 percent of Independents concurred.

86 percent of Republicans (don’t adjust your screen!) agreed.

On issue number three, an overwhelming majority of 87 percent of registered voters polled were in favor of providing a path to citizenship for workers currently living in America illegally.

In our fourth and final poll, registered voters were asked if they favored raising the federal minimum wage to $9 per hour from its current $7.25 per hour.

91 percent of Democrats sad they were in favor of the raise.

76 percent of Independents agreed it is time to raise the minimum wage.

58 percent of Republicans concurred.

Overall, on issue number four, 76 percent of registered voters said they felt it was time to raise the federal minimum wage, and agreed to the $9 per hour figure.

In a true representative government, the next steps would be fairly straightforward. We elect people to go to Washington and make sure that our best interests are represented by passing laws that reflect those interests. Whether or not you agree with the four issues represented in the polls above, you can’t argue that the American people are unsure about those four issues. An overwhelming majority opinion is clear in all four cases, which means that there is a mandate to have all four issues passed into law.

It won’t surprise anyone who pays much attention to politics to learn that not a single one of these issues is likely to be addressed any time soon, and certainly not before the end of the year. If recent history holds, any version of these laws that might actually get through Congress would likely be so watered down as to be completely ineffective anyway.

What we have in Washington is an “us against them” mentality that pervades the entire operation of government. We have one small minority of one of the major parties that is currently dictating the agenda for that party, which is inexcusable. Party leadership should be held accountable by its membership and thrown out in favor of someone who can unite the party. That person must then make it his or her business to work with members of the opposition party to craft compromises that allow important legislation to pass into law.

This is not government.

It is certainly not representative government.

Whatever the reason, be it the corruption of our political system by the corporations that truly rule the world, or just an unwillingness for one of our two political parties to silence their backward-thinking minority and participate in governance, America's system of government simply doesn't work.

An outsider looking at America as a model of democracy would have to conclude that it is an ineffective system of government in a society where greed is the ultimate driving force. Money and special interests simply drown out the voices of the governed.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Art of the 1980's

Celebrating the Art of the 1980's

Music of the 80's

There is no art form that ingrains itself in the heart and soul like music, and the 80’s were featured some of the all-time great icons of pop music. Madonna pushed the limits of socially acceptable stage shows with her “Like A Virgin” album, videos and tour.

 Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” earned him the title “King of Pop,” which he retains even posthumously.

Phil Collins was not only one of the top stars as a solo artist and as the lead singer of the band Genesis, he also became one of the top movie soundtrack talents.


 Hall and Oats were the most popular band of the decade after topping the charts repeatedly in the 70’s.


Billy Joel may be best known for his Piano Man hit from the 70’s, he established himself as one of the most popular singers of all time with his 80’s hits that included “Uptown Girl,” “The Longest Time,” “Innocent Man” and “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

Music often becomes the voice of a generation, and for those of us who were raised in the 80’s these artists represent the soundtrack of our lives. What’s more, their enduring popularity among the following generations shows that they reached a level of artistry that spans more than just their own era.

Movies of the 80's

Just as the 1980’s brought us iconic music stars, it was also a golden age of film. New technologies and visionary directors brought us an array of films that became multi-generational hits. Steven Spielberg laid the foundation of a career that would lead to his reputation of one of Hollywood’s all-time best with films like “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “E.T. The Extraterrestrial.”


George Lucas brought us the second and third films in his genre-busting “Star Wars” saga, the second of which, “The Empire Strikes Back,” is widely regarded as the best science fiction film ever made. 

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” gave the youth of America a hero, one who wasn’t afraid to buck the system in favor of the freedom of self-expression. Bueller and his friends even take in an art museum, reinforcing this film as a work of art in and of itself.

“Driving Miss Daisy” is a proven and enduring classic, both on the Broadway stage and as a film that made Morgan Freeman sought-after actor. It addressed one of our culture’s biggest issues, that of defining people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.

Artists of the 1980's

The 1980’s also featured some interesting and influential visual artists, and what follows are some representative samples of the work of those artists. The works themselves are probably familiar, even if the names might not all be as familiar.

Jasper Johns
Keith Haring

William de Kooning 

Andy Warhol

Roy Lichtenstein

Authors of the 1980's

As much as music, movies and the visual arts have an impact on our senses, so, too do great books. Carl Sagan’s body of work regarding space and the human journey were ground-breaking and are incredibly influential even after his death. 

In the fiction realm, no author has ever captured the darker side of human nature the way Stephen King has, while Tom Clancy and James A. Michener also gained huge and sustained success with their detailed masterpieces. The writings of all three, and particularly King, have inspired a long list of films, as well.

To call Bill Cosby an author is to unfairly minimize his contribution to society, but he had a number of bestsellers in the 80’s. He was also the star of one of the top TV shows of the decade, “The Cosby Show,” and became an important voice of social activism for African-Americans, in particular. He remains one of America’s most beloved figures.

The End


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