Modern Age Revolution

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The Exasperation of A Dialogue

I am pleased to introduce a great friend as the first addition to the writing stable here at Modern Age Revolution, the electrifying Humberto Guida.

He might have the talent and charisma to save the world from injustice, but chose a career in media and entertainment instead. He enjoys covering everything from pop culture to politics and has distinguished himself as a writer, producer, and comedian. Humberto is based in Los Angeles by way of Miami, where he first made a name for himself as an alternative columnist after a manic-yet-supportive Cuban-American upbringing.

Welcome to the Modern Age Revolution team, Humberto. Glad to have you on board. — Teddy Tutson
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I’m doing stand up in a Marina Del Rey bar the other night. Two tourists – a white, middle-aged, Middle American couple, both of whom have the same short haircut – enjoy the free comedy show during their steak dinner and Coors. I can’t help it. I ask whom they are voting for. “Anyone but Obama,” the crew cut donning, blonde woman replies. “He’s a jerk.”

After assuring the crowd that a black man doesn’t have a chance with them, to which they smirk, I ask why they thought he was a jerk. “He doesn’t have American values,” she says. Now, I’m something of a mind reader. So I playfully exclaim, “You’re not a Newt Supporter are you? I can see it in your face.”

They both nod yes.

I yell, “No!”

I try asking the woman if she sees any conflicting logic in thinking President Barack Obama, a man who is a model husband and father (we know this because if he so much as popped a boner at the thought of another woman or if his kids ever did anything remotely rambunctious, Fox News would have run a marathon news cycle about it by now), a man who by all accounts made a success of himself through his own hard work and talent, a man who rarely even raises his voice when confronted by his enemies, that he could be the antithesis of American values.

Yet Newt Gringrich, a man who left one of his three wives, the cancer-stricken one, on her hospital bed to run away with his current, glassy-eyed mannequin, a man who has asked for open marriage, a man who sparked a government shutdown during his term as Speaker. Somehow he’s the one with “values”? The redneck woman just nods.

“I just know this country is going in the wrong direction,” she says.

I can’t do it anymore. I don’t have it in me to get into it with conservatives on any level. Speaking to a brick wall gives me a better chance of getting through to someone. Maybe it’s because brick walls are less dense than today’s conservative thinkers (pardon the oxymoron).

As recent polls show, today’s conservatives are farther to the right than they’ve been since the mid 1800’s. A radical, outer fringe Republican circa the 1970‘s wouldn’t even sniff a primary win these days. Not even in California! Meanwhile, liberals remain as close to the middle as ever. We just want balance.

Republican voters continue to view the political spectrum in this country as far right versus far left. What they fail to see is that the far left is very much a disproved thing of the past. Far left is communism. Only Cuba and North Korea can truly say they’re still embarking on that failed experiment.

Modern day American liberals want a balance between public and private interests, not a totality to one side or the other. We are, by most counts, centrists compared with the current incarnation of the Republican Party. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for making money. I just think it should be taxed at the top to give the bottom some help up, and to keep the middle from falling any further down.

But conservatives, veering to the right like Mario Andretti on the final turn of the Indy 500, increasingly believe in near total privatization. That’s what is radical. And don’t get me into the social conservative angle. That’s just ridiculous. More and more, conservatives continue to purge any sense of moderation in their rank and file. Their absolute aversion to any middle of the road solution is not just stubborn, it’s irrational.

The irony of their contradictions is often lost on them, as displayed when Tea Party members carry signs in one hand that say “Keep your Government hands off my Medicare”, while holding the lever to an oxygen mask in the other hand, paid for by the same government insurance program that gave them the motorized scooter they ride on.

What is the matter with these people? Are they out of their minds? Well apparently, they’re at least stupid. According to a recent article published on the Huffington Post by Jessica Seares discussing the study of IQ’s among conservatives, most of their problems lie in their simpleton minds:

“The study, published in Psychological Science, showed that people who score low on I.Q. tests in childhood are more likely to develop prejudiced beliefs and socially conservative politics in adulthood…

Dr. Gordon Hodson, a professor of psychology at the university and the study’s lead author, said the finding represented evidence of a vicious cycle: People of low intelligence gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, which stress resistance to change and, in turn, prejudice, he told LiveScience…

Why might less intelligent people be drawn to conservative ideologies? Because such ideologies feature “structure and order” that make it easier to comprehend a complicated world, Dodson said. “Unfortunately, many of these features can also contribute to prejudice,” he added.” — Huffington Post, February 2012

The thing is, when you’re that prone to being dense, there’s no rational argument, no set of facts that will move you off your flawed positions. Recently, Republicans put women’s contraception in their crosshairs. They also want to roll back Roe vs. Wade. You’d think that better access to contraception leads to less abortions, but why let logic get in the way of conservative thinking?

Most conservatives, like the redneck couple at my comedy show, live in a vacuum where no one questions their faith in things like faith and not facts. They want it that way. Which is why they won’t even give the real Obama a chance. These people turn off the TV when he comes on. They brag about not being able to stand hearing him speak. They only read or listen to his sound bytes through the lens of Fox News. They refuse to form an opinion based on the real man. So they make up some abject commie, Muslim, Black Panther dictator to take the country back from.

Here’s what Bill Maher had to say on one of his recent New Rules segments on his HBO show, Real Time:

“You know, Republicans have created this completely fictional president. His name is Barack X. And he’s an Islamo-socialist revolutionary who is coming for your guns, raising your taxes, slashing the military, apologizing to other countries, and taking his cues from Europe, or worse yet, Saul Alinsky!

Run down the list of complaints about “fantasy Obama”: he wants to raise your taxes, even though he’s lowered them. Confiscate your guns, even though he’s never mentioned it. And read terrorists their rights. Yeah, like he did [to Somali pirates]

You see, the difference is the Republicans’ hatred of Obama is based on a paranoid feeling about what he might do, what he’s thinking, what he secretly wants to change.” –- “New Rules”, February 2012

So where does it come from? Why have conservatives flipped their collective lid? Why does it seem all Republicans are white, Middle Americans who “want their country back” from some evil villain? Did you know some of these people even used to be Democrats? It’s true. But as many of them say, “I didn’t leave the Democratic party, the Democratic party left me.”

Understand what they mean by that? You see, these conservatives aren’t really against government funding infrastructure, supporting workers rights, hell, even issuing “entitlements”. That’s what the Democratic Party was all about back in the day. It was about helping the little guy against those greedy Scrooges who crapped all over Jimmy Stewart’s venerable town in It’s a Wonderful Life.

They understood it’s the Democrats who helped shape the America we have today, a country where people who aren’t rich, or white, or male, can have an opportunity. Where the old are taken care of, and the poor and immigrants are treated with dignity and respect. Where women and minorities, and gays, and (God forbid) Muslims have rights.

And there’s the rub. That’s where we lost these people who today rant and rave a backwards ideology about freedom and liberty, while assailing a woman’s right to choose, gays’ right to marry, or anti-discrimination laws that prevent restaurants and hotels from turning away someone who is black or brown. When government began to look out for those “other” people, groups who were once stepped on by the rich white class with impunity, that’s when government became the problem and not the solution it had been from the New Deal through the Great Society.

President Lyndon Johnson famously said after signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, “We have just lost the South for a generation.” Hippies didn’t help. But the notion that the South is bought and paid for by Republicans thanks to the rise of social liberalism is still true today of course, as one-time Southern Democrats who’d vote for liberal things like protections of miner unions, now run Republican. And with that, they’ve turned over their minds to the ideas that with less government, more can be done about the infestation of poor, non-white, non-Christian people in this country. It’s not something they acknowledge, even among themselves. But sometimes it comes out. Mostly, though, they’re in denial.

Matt Tiabbi puts it best in his telling look at the Tea Party in the November 2010 issue of Rolling Stone:

You look into the eyes of these people when you talk to them and they genuinely don’t see what the problem is. It’s no use explaining that while nobody likes the idea of having to get the government to tell restaurant owners how to act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the tool Americans were forced to use to end a monstrous system of apartheid that for 100 years was the shame of the entire Western world. But all that history is not real to Tea Partiers; what’s real to them is the implication in your question that they’re racists, and to them that is the outrage, and it’s an outrage that binds them together…

The world is changing all around the Tea Party. The country is becoming more black and more Hispanic by the day. The economy is becoming more and more complex, access to capital for ordinary individuals more and more remote, the ability to live simply and own a business without worrying about Chinese labor or the depreciating dollar vanished more or less for good. They want to pick up their ball and go home, but they can’t; thus, the difficulties and the rancor with those of us who are resigned to life on this planet.

I have a family member who represents a lot of conservatives to a tee. He is actually someone I’m very close to, and he helped shape my liberal leanings. Yes, like many of today’s Republicans, he used to be a Democrat. A bleeding-heart, JFK-revering, anti-Reagan, environmentalist, vegetarian, liberal! Until, that is, the 9/11 catastrophe. That’s when he flipped. Just like Dennis Miller. Exactly like Dennis Miller.

All of a sudden, my family member went from a guy who voted for Bill Clinton (twice) and Al Gore in 2000, to a George W. Bush supporter, who believed Muslims should be dealt with militarily before they get him and his kids. But it went beyond the national security concerns. Little by little, he began to digest the conservative Kool Aid so many men his age drink. It wasn’t just Muslims, it was the welfare queens living off his hard-earned wages through excessive taxation. It was environmental activists somehow keeping him from driving an SUV. It was the queers indoctrinating his kids into God-knows-what kind of depravity.

He began believing the bullshit one must believe to live inside the conservative bubble. Where he felt safe. He bought into the unfortunate ruse that if you defend the rich and white from whiny poor people and minorities, than trickle down economics will reward his middle class existence with a well-performing 401-K or some shit. Oh, and he’ll be safe from the boogeyman too.

It got worse. A few years after he re-registered Republican, he began to think climate change was a hoax, public schools should be done away with, Mexicans are over-running this country (keep in mind my anti-immigrant family member is an immigrant himself), and–I couldn’t believe this one–he recently questioned evolution saying, “You expect me to believe we came from some slime in the ocean.” He’s not even religious!

The evolution denying was like a punch in the gut to my respect for the man. The conservatism was infecting his train of thought. I thought it was sad because he slowly but surely disavowed most if not all of his remaining liberal beliefs. He became a different person. He literally used to be smarter when he was liberal. And more likable too! He was fun and adventurous, now he’s bitter at and fearful of the world.

A string of contentious emails going back to the last presidential election broiled into an all out shouting match last Christmas. It began after a few whiskey straights, Then he starts with the rant against Obamacare and Medicare and Social Security. Mind you, he’s in his 50’s, and has a hip condition. Those things he hates are all things he’ll be depending on in the years to come. I couldn’t let it pass.

I cut in the conversation. And I explained that thanks to Obamacare, his pre-existing condition will not prevent him from obtaining insurance coverage should he lose his job and need to switch his insurer. He talks over me and continues to rail against the abject socialism and infringement on his God-given American liberty that Obama and the Democrats have embarked on in his lifetime. To my discredit I raised my voice and it went downhill from there.

Most of us have a similar situation with conservative friends and family. It’s hard to fight with someone you love. It’s hard to have contempt for half the people in this country. I like people. I really do. I’d also like to think blood is thicker than politics. But after a yelling at my beloved family member at the top of my lungs during Christmas dinner, and after dropping more than few of my conservative Cuban friends from Miami from my Facebook account so I wouldn’t have to deal with being called a commie (not cool for a Cuban) or a fag every time I questioned a Republican move or defended Obama, I’ve decided to sing to the choir for a while. If I interact with conservatives I wll finally listen to my mom and not talk politics or religion.

Maybe I’ll be ready to scrap in the coming months of this very important election year. But for now, a moment of brevity, a moment of sanity.

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Are You Unemployed? Surprise! Republicans Hate You.

“You want a job? Ha! No.”

It is a known fact that the Republican Party has no interest in working to fix the catastrophically high unemployment rate in this country. After lying through their teeth during the 2010 midterms about all the jobs they planned to create, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives went to work doing everything but passing legislation designed to create jobs.

Their first piece of legislation, H.R. 1, was an appropriations bill to continue funding the government that slashed discretionary funding for a seemingly endless array of vital programs. H.R. 1 sought to “kill a program that helps low-income families weatherize their homes and permanently reduce their home energy bills, cut federal funds for employment and training services for jobless workers and for clean water and safe drinking water by more than half, and raise the risk that the WIC nutrition program may not be able to serve all eligible low-income women, infants, and children under age 5.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had its funding slashed by more than $1.3 billion.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was placed in the crosshairs for a 10% budget cut, cutting about $241 million from the agency’s budget.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) experienced a 30% cut in its budget.

“But these cuts were necessary for job growth,” Republicans told you.

But Mark Zandi, Moody’s Analytics chief economist, told you that H.R. 1 could cost “about 700,000 jobs through 2012.”

Zandi’s analysis, first reported by the Washington Post, predicts that the GOP budget plan would reduce economic growth by .5 percent this year and by .2 percent in 2012.

“Significant government spending restraint is vital, but given the still halting economic recovery, it would be counterproductive for that restraint to begin until the economy is creating enough jobs to bring down the still very high unemployment rate,” Zandi writes in his report.

And in response to the notion that the Republican plan would actually result in job cuts across the United States, the utterly abysmal Speaker of the House, John Boehner, told the country, “So be it.”

The Ohio Republican was asked at his weekly news conference about the prospect of federal job cuts if a House GOP plan to trim $100 billion in government spending passes.

“Over the last two years since President Obama has taken office, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs,” Boehner said. “And if some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it. We’re broke. It’s time for us to get serious about how we’re spending the nation’s money.”

The reporter who asked the question noted, however, that the government might have to pay federal unemployment assistance to laid-off workers, potentially adding more costs.

Now, this is just the first piece of legislation the Republican controlled House of Representatives passed, a spectacular devastation of the already desolate employment picture in this country. They decided to follow this up with a one-two punch of the wholly symbolic, utterly worthless, and highly counterproductive H.R. 2, “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act”. That’s right, the second thing Republicans did once they gained control of the House was attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Would you be surprised to believe that the “job killing health care law” was actually responsible for creating more than 200,000 private sector jobs (more than 1/5) of the 1.1 million private sector jobs created between the ACA being signed by President Obama in March 2010 and January 2011?

(ed. note: No, you are not surprised.)

But those are only the first two pieces of legislation the Republican controlled House passed. Now, I bet you are thinking to yourself, “What could these clowns possibly do to complete the hat trick of not giving a fuck about the unemployed?” How about rolling out H.R. 3, also known by the repugnant name “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”? As you can easily imagine, this law was not designed to create jobs. It was designed, however, to redefine what “rape” means in the United States of America:

For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.

With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to “forcible rape.” This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion. (Smith’s spokesman did not respond to a call and an email requesting comment.)

Yes, that’s right. Republicans in the House went from misguidedly trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to attempting to create a new kind of rape known as “forcible rape.”

But, okay, fine. This doesn’t prove that Republicans hate the unemployed. It just proves that they have not even the slightest interest in doing anything to improve the catastrophically high unemployment rate. I guess, then, we should turn to the actual things Republicans have said and done regarding the unemployed to make the case.

Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV) claimed that extending unemployment benefits was creating “hobos.”

Heller said the current economic downturn and policies may bring back the hobos of the Great Depression, people who wandered the country taking odd jobs. He said a study found that people who are out of work longer than two years have only a 50 percent chance of getting back into the workforce. “I believe there should be a federal safety net,” Heller said, but he questioned the wisdom of extending unemployment benefits yet again to a total of 24 months, which Congress is doing. “Is the government now creating hobos?” he asked.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced legislation that would have required people applying for unemployment to pass a drug test in exchange for benefits.

Hatch introduced an amendment to the tax extenders bill that would require those who are applying for some of the benefits in that bill, including unemployment and welfare benefits, to pass a drug test in exchange for the benefits.

“Drugs are a scourge on our society — hurting children, families and communities alike,” Hatch said in a statement. “This amendment is a way to help people get off of drugs to become productive and healthy members of society, while ensuring that valuable taxpayer dollars aren’t wasted.”

Under the Hatch amendment, individuals who fail to qualify for benefits because they failed a drug test wouldn’t necessarily be jailed, but would be enrolled in a state or federal drug treatment program.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) basically told the unemployed to stop complaining about not having a job and…go back to work. At the job they don’t have anymore.

Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul has a blunt message for the millions of Americans who remain unemployed in the long-term: “Accept a wage that’s less than [you] had at [your] previous job” and “get back to work.”

According to Paul, the issue is “bigger than unemployment benefits” and the Tea Party-backed Senate hopeful made his position on the matter clear in an interview with talk radio host Sue Wylie on WVLK-AM last week.

“As bad as it sounds, ultimately we do have to sometimes accept a wage that’s less than we had at our previous job in order to get back to work and allow the economy to get started again,” Paul explained. “Nobody likes that, but it may be one of the tough love things that has to happen.”

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) decided it would be a top-notch idea to compare the unemployed to alcoholics and drug addicts.

FARENTHOLD: Drug testing for recipients of various welfare programs, I really think that’s something that needs to be considered. We’ve gotta, you know, nobody wants to starve anybody. Everybody wants to help folks out. But we’ve got a system where you can stay on unemployment for an awfully long time. And I think we need to create a system of decreasing benefits over time to encourage you to get a job. I think anybody who’s had an alcoholic in their life or somebody with a drug problem, realizes that until things get bad enough there’s no incentive to change. I think that we’re so generous in some of our social problems that people are unwilling to get a job outside in the heat. Rather than get 15 dollars to go get roofing they’d rather get 9 or 10 dollars in benefits. I think drug testing is not an unreasonable requirement to get benefits.

The current Republican governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett, had the genius stroke that unemployed individuals in Pennsylvania are consciously choosing not to work:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett on Friday accused some jobless Pennsylvanians of choosing to collect unemployment checks rather than going back to work, prompting swift criticism from his Democratic opponent and one of the state’s top labor leaders.

“The jobs are there. But if we keep extending unemployment, people are just going to sit there,” Corbett told Harrisburg radio station WITF at a campaign stop in Elizabethtown. “I’ve literally had construction companies tell me, ‘I can’t get people to come back to work until . . . they say, “I’ll come back to work when unemployment runs out.” ‘ “

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) once said, “[C]ontinuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work.”

I could go all day like this, citing example after example of Republicans explicitly sharing their disdain for the unemployed. Or I could just once again point out that in all the time Republicans have controlled the House of Representatives since asking “Where are the jobs?” during the 2010 midterms, they have passed NOT A SINGLE FUCKING PIECE OF JOBS LEGISLATION.

But they will, however, keep coming after the reproductive rights of women in this country. Because they hate the unemployed almost as much as they hate women.

The House is scheduled to vote this week on a new bill that would allow federally-funded hospitals that oppose abortions to refuse to perform the procedure, even in cases where a woman would die without it.

Under current law, every hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid money is legally required to provide emergency care to any patient in need, regardless of his or her financial situation. If a hospital is unable to provide what the patient needs — including a life-saving abortion — it has to transfer the patient to a hospital that can.

Under H.R. 358, dubbed the “Protect Life Act” and sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), hospitals that don’t want to provide abortions could refuse to do so, even for a pregnant woman with a life-threatening complication that requires a doctor terminate her pregnancy. This provision would apply to the more than 600 Catholic hospitals governed by the Catholic Health Association, which are regulated by bishops and prohibited from performing abortions.

Almost.

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