Monday, September 22, 2008

America the Duped?

If you aren’t frightened for your country right now, you should be. In a couple of months Americans could be led again, like compliant sheep, into electing another George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, but with even worse consequences. How are Americans so easily lulled and duped? Seems it doesn’t take much. American Indians knew all about it. A proverb attributed to the Cherokee says it well,

"Tell me facts and I may remember them. Tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever."

In 2000, and 2004, it was storytelling time. George W. Bush was marketed not unlike a prime time dog food commercial. He already had a familiar presidential name. Great stories were repeated over and over about his supposed accomplishments, and qualifications. His spoiled rich playboy past, problems with alcoholism, basically unspectacular work history, and lackluster accomplishments were carefully downplayed or blanked out. But you never actually see the dog food being made in their commercials either.

But it was enough for Bush, with the help of The Supreme Court to barely prevail over Vice President Al Gore. In 2004, the storytelling with a boost from 9/11 again prevailed, fending off Senator John Kerry in spite of Bush’s already dismal track record. Now in 2008 the Republicans offer aging, confused Senator McCain as president and a last minute unknown female rookie Governor from Alaska, with a closet crowded with skeletons as Vice President. That is frightening on its face.

Big time Republican storytelling has frantically been going on. Outright lies about Senator Obama, repeated shamelessly over and over. The story trumping fact and reason. Is it working? NY Times columnist, Nicholas D. Kristof, reports that, “A Pew Research Center survey released a few days ago found that only half of Americans correctly know that Mr. Obama is a Christian. More ominously, a rising share — now 16 percent — say they aren’t sure about his religion because they’ve heard “different things” about it.”

Different things . . .” Like the tongue clucking of a gossipy old aunt. Doubt, rumor, toss in a dash of racism and Americans themselves could once again fall for the tactics and misdirection of entrenched self-serving cynics. Are you frightened yet? Frightened enough to physically get out there and fight the stories?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Quick Look at “Female Voters”

Let me tip toe out into a minefield and talk about “Female Voters.” You hear both ‘female voters’ and ‘women voters.’ Women’s Liberation must have sounded better than Female Liberation. Women's Lib is easier to say. Female's lib might sound too anatomical.

I'm already in trouble here, but I have to ask about all those energized women, screaming and chanting for Hillary night after night during the primary. Were they motivated by her message or were they just enchanted by Hillary the female candidate? Would those same women now be as easily enchanted by the cute, tough talking, last minute Republican selection for Vice President, just because she is a woman?

The GOP is trying to attract “disaffected Hillary supporters.” How can we believe that the cheering, almost rabid women we saw in the close-up TV shots at the Hillary rallies would suddenly become disaffected because a man won the Democratic nomination rather than a woman? Isn't it cynical to suggest that they were cheering only because they were women, and that now any woman with a shot near the top, would as easily become their heroine? Ditch your principals as a Democrat and vote for the clueless moose mommie! She's a Woman! The McCain campaign managers are giving it a shot.

In Denver, Palin praised the hard work of Hillary and her “18 million cracks in the glass ceiling,” then she uttered, “But it turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all!” Women who would vote their lingering gender anger to spite their own well being can’t represent a meaningful number. But McCain will take every vote he can get, especially the deluded and the disaffected.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Political Science?

There are rumors that a medical and political first may happen before the upcoming political debates begin. The boost McCain’s flagging campaign got from his improbable selection of Sarah Palin as his VP is now fading. So a new even weirder plan is being hatched. Confidential sources tell The iHandbill that McCain and Palin are to undergo elective surgery to medically join them at the hip with double velcro patches. Dr. Frank N. Stein promises benefit for them both in the coming debates with Senators Obama and Biden. Dr. Stein says the detachable hip connector will share their bile production and other selected abilities through a small incision. Each hip will have small connectors that can be plugged together or unplugged with the velcro patch. Medical insiders report that the surgery runs no risk of rejection because they both share A-negative blood lust. Palin’s radio and TV studies at one of the several colleges she attended will help Senator McCain in reading a teleprompter. Her access to McCain’s repository of decades of political experience, knowledge of history, geography and Washington D.C. would make Palin to seem like she actually knows stuff. Precautions include a former Rove staffer dressed as an adoring fan who would “accidentally” bump into them, disconnecting them in case McCain starts speaking in tongues, or Palin starts telling off-color fighter pilot jokes.
Reportedly Palin will only be allowed to debate while connected to McCain, and will be kept in an undisclosed location while unplugged. Biden would be labeled a liberal elitist whiner if he complained about having McCain plugged in during the VP debate with Palin. McCain will not need to read a teleprompter during his debates so there would be no reason for him to remain connected to Palin. In fact, remaining connected might make him do Palin's cutsie eye blinking, and real mavericks don't blink.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cosmetics over Substance

Just as easily as the GOP McCain campaign spinmeisters crank out their outright lies and distortions, they also feign outrage and insult. Senator Obama's recent use of the old political chestnut, "putting lipstick on a pig," was snatched immediately by the McCain spinning circle and denounced as an outrageous reference to their Vice Presidential nominee, Sarah Palin. Their press release machine overheated as they bellowed. They reacted so wildly because cosmetics are the stock in trade for McCain's campaign folks. It was after all, McCain's speechwriters who introduced labial makeup in Ms. Palin's speech with the "lip gloss" and pit bull reference. A quick bit of research shows that the idea of putting lipstick on anything didn't happen before about 1880 when the word lipstick first shows up. But it has shown up on pigs, donkeys, frogs and other things since then in references by politicians of all stripes.
A classic definition of the expression is generally, "A term used by many, generally in reference to someone who may be trying to make something or someone look appealing or attractive when it quite clearly will not work, or will only deceive the dumbest of people."
Had that been applied to Ms. Palin it actually would have been quite appropriate. But Senator Obama was not talking about her at all. He was talking about the total Republican failure to lead this country the past 8 years and the mess they have left. A mess that the Grand Old Party has been steadily smearing with lipstick to try to gloss over its ugliness. We should, instead, be seriously talking about how to get this great country out of the mess it is in, which the Democrats have been doing for months and months. Instead the Republicans continue to lob schoolyard epithets, praise God and Country, and crank up their smoke machines. They are doing everything possible to not even mention Bush or Cheney or any specific ways they are going to throw the runaway GOP greed train into reverse. Glossing over glaring shortcomings of the train's engineer and conductor by using Republican Revlon just increases the chances for a major American train wreck.

Photo from Information Week's July 24, 2006 Cover

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Vice Presidents We Have Known

The nomination of Sarah Palin as Vice President, a virtual political unknown with little experience, is being beautifully stage managed. Americans must have short memories when it comes to embarrassing and incompetent GOP VP candidates. Republican campaign management has gotten dirtier and louder than ever because they have specialized in selling their lackluster candidates with slogans and spin better defined as outright lies. They not only got W. elected, but are now stuck with the disaster he and his Vice President have caused. They learned lots about spin and damage control from another light-weight Vice President, James Danforth Quayle. His selection by George H. W. Bush caused an immediate controversy. The media, in 1988 were mostly mainstream broadcast and print publications. There were no internet bloggers and no round the clock cable channels with prattling pundits to minutely dissect Quayle's glaring tattered edges. The media did jump on questions concerning young Dan's military service, a Florida golf trip he took with a female lobbyist, and the question of his experience to be VEEP. But daddy Bush won and Quayle became VP #44 and immediately became a non-stop string of embarrassments.
Today Republicans have learned to control and limit access to their intellectual lightweights, keeping George W. Bush's gaffes under the radar as much as possible. Now they have to do something with Ms. Palin who was presented with calculated fanfare and given a handful of old re-sharpened GOP darts to toss as she read her prepared speech full of sound and fury signifying nothing . . . except that she is going to have a tough time in a serious interview. But the campaign has now sent her back to the frozen north “to take care of family and state government matters” making her unavailable for interviews except for one interview on ABC, and Charlie Gibson has to be nice. Meanwhile like a goose being stuffed with a feeding funnel to become eventual pate’ Palin is being force fed answers to possible questions and coached on hail Mary plays in case someone asks her about world politics, social issues or anything else requiring an informed answer.
We survived Quayle because George H.W. Bush was in good health and kept his court idiot at arm's length for four years. Senator McCain’s health and state of mind at age 72 plus his sad political prostitution of once admired stands and challenges to his party make him a sorry choice to lead our country. The cynicism of the GOP in selecting an inexperienced but opportunistic female for the VP spot and then marketing her like premium dog food with designer glasses is the worst yet. They can't keep her hidden till November.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Vote for me and I PROMISE!

Well, John McCain promised last night to “end partisan rancor.” It is about time. Kissing and making up. Gee, I am so glad he’s finally going to do that. At last we are going to do a 180 turn and salvage the Republican disaster of the past almost 8 years. Of course time limitations must have prevented Senator McCain from mentioning just how he was going to do anything or from offering plans or concrete ideas, but what great promises! It will all be just swell. Hell they may even redesign the two chambers on Capitol Hill and do away with aisles altogether. Open seating anywhere in the chamber!
Lots of listings in the Thesaurus for rancor: “bitterness, spite, hate, hatred, resentment, malice, ill will, malevolence, animosity, antipathy, enmity, hostility, acrimony, venom, vitriol.” I guess that kind of stuff just builds up over time like dust in a closed up house. But now the old fellow says he is going to get all the angry, smug, selfish screaming and jeering folks who have been assembled this past week to lambast Democrats, and particularly Democratic Presidential Nominee Barak Obama, to do an about face while having the Democrats all turn and smile and forgive as well. Helluva promise. And what a surprise just a day after bitterness, spite, hate, hatred, resentment, malice, ill will, malevolence, animosity, antipathy, enmity, hostility, acrimony, venom, and vitriol spewed forth as his hand chosen book-burner hockey mom read the Karl Rovesque crafted words of the speech that scrolled before her on the teleprompter. There was a hint of surreal déjà vu as if we were again watching George W. Bush making the same bipartisan promise almost eight years ago as he slowly morphed into a stooped, white haired and tired nice old guy before the same audience. Damned shame McCain hadn’t made his astounding promise that morning. It might have stopped the almost 400 point slide on the Dow Jones index.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Restoring America's Image Abroad?

What a speech last night. I watched till the smoke alarm in my house went off. What had been written for Annie Oakley from Alaska to read was done justice with Ms. Palin's curled lip sneers, petty jabs, and straight-faced recitations of long discredited claims about Barak Obama and his past. There was a stunning contrast between the TV images from this convention and from the Democratic convention last week. Last week's reactions to speakers and particularly Biden and Obama were spontaneous and genuine. Lots of time was spent by the Democrats listening to Obama's detailed messages and plans for needed positive change instead of screaming hysterically non-stop. Last night the shamelessly orchestrated spectacle had the the more spry folks applauding after every God and Country bromide that the GOP audience seemed to lap up like old hound dogs at a huge feeding bowl. There clearly had been claques of carefully tutored "starters" who tried to begin "Spontaneous Chants" that mostly fizzled out, and who started applause after every other sentence. But after a while it was like watching an old badly dubbed Japanese movie where the audio and video are out of sync. There would be loud applause coming out of the speaker, but the wide shot of the crowd showed so many, many people talking, walking around or sitting stone faced. In her whole reading of the teleprompter, Governor Palin, Or Governor Putin, you choose, never mentioned any issues, but just heaped on repetitive praise for John McCain. A high point was the real long feel good visit with her large family, including her snowmobile racing champion husband of "Ute ancestry." There will be a "halo" effect from her nastiness and hollow rhetoric for a day or so, then reality will settle in, and the "Media Elite" she renounced will come a knocking asking real questions and expecting real answers. America can do better than this.

Hurricane Gomer Update

Hurricane Gustaf merely glanced off The iHandbill offices. We were fortunate. Much more so than three years ago when Katrina ripped a roof off and left us with no electricity, which meant no air conditioning for two weeks in the suffocating September heat and humidity. Photos and TV of hurricane Katrina in 2005 and for its aftermath, was beamed into every home on TV and onto newspaper pages around the whole world. “Heckuva job Brownie!” became one of many albatrosses to flock around young cocky George W. Bush’s neck, hanging there not too far from “Mission Accomplished.”
Emergency agencies on state and local levels were finally given massive IV’s of restorative manna from The Department of Homeland Security. Federal, state and local bureaucracies expanded exponentially and the mere utterance of “state of emergency” or “disaster area” now automatically sets off the huge Federal slot machine “fund” jackpot.
Now we are bracing for two more potential hurricanes coming into the Gulf of Mexico. I am personally also bracing for the jarring pre-recorded auto-dial mass hurricane warning telephone calls to coastal Mississippi Counties, paid for by the new hurricane jackpot funds. Answering the phone, I heard a voice like GOD having a bad day, “Thissis Haleeee Barbour and I stronglee advize thet yew . . .” First one I got a year or so ago woke me from a sound nap about 3:30 in the afternoon. I thought Gomer Pyle was calling from some distant place and hung up. But the calls continued and sure nuff, not a weather or emergency expert’s voice but THE GOVERNOR hisseff had recorded the voice of doom warnings. Poor Haley does the good old boy routine to the hilt here at home with a syrupy, haughty drawl that only someone from Hot Coffee, Mississippi could love. He tones it down in the Beltway lobbyist offices I am told. He really does sound like the Gomer Pyle character. Got lots of these calls this year for everything that had winds over 40MPH regardless of where they were. Tropical Storm Pam generated three days of the nap-time calls from Haley before drenching Florida. Tried to get off the call list, since I have the Weather Channel and great computer links to great weather sites, but I was told by the call center that the governor, “ . . . wuz jist tryin to save yur liife!” Well bless his little pea-picking political heart. At least I speak Mississippi, along with a couple of other foreign languages just in case one of the calls might be remotely helpful.

Photo Rogelio V. Solis / AP

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Reading from the Teleprompter

I watched some very brief moments of the Gathering Of Pomposity (GOP) convention this evening during the breaks in a Dirty Harry movie I was watching. But during one of the brief channel flicks off the movie I had to stop for a few seconds longer as Fred Thompson, jowls flattened by his lowered chin as he read his speech from the teleprompter, lauded the selection of the Lady Palin as another of their champions as VEEP. At first I thought it was the lighting, but his nose was growing almost imperceptibly. Nah. Sure, it was really bad, hyped BS he was trying to read convincingly, but Pinocchio? He feigned enthusiasm as he addressed the gathered matrons, and stern faced gentlemen in the noticeably older convention crowd than the crowd at the one last week. During the next Dirty Harry break, I flipped back and he was still extolling the hoped for virtues and toughness of the "Hockey Mom," and damn, it wasn't the lighting. His nose had grown almost an inch. A cutaway shot of the Gathered Old People (GOP) showed Barbara Bush leaning over to whisper to her husband. The expression on her face was one of smug defiance and belief in the power of dynasty. I couldn't click back to any more of the Griping Old Pukes (GOP) because Eastwood was finishing Magnum Force with a bang, which I doubted the other TV program would do. I look forward to reading the columns tomorrow, but remain frightened for America that there were that many people in that building. To Thompson's credit as he moved back stage, I am told by insiders, he did allow a union stage hand to saw off the new growth of nose and sand it off then a nice union makeup lady dabbed a little Tan #2 Max Factor on the shiny stub and he jumped into the waiting limo like nothing at all had happened. And as far as reality is concerned, it hadn't.

Family Values

Mommy's little family secret is on the AP wires this morning. The would-be VP's teen daughter is preggers. Let's hear it for family values, and the sweet Christian virtues that underpin the Grand Old Party. But, hell, it gets cold on those eternally long nights in Alaska and sub-sheet aerobics can be healthy and keep the heart strong. Yes, it is also true, that without proper planning, unprotected sub-sheet aerobics can also cause a blessed pregnancy. Another future citizen to join the imaginary wonderful Oz created by strict right-to-life guarantors who do not, however guarantee a loving family or supportive upbringing to the newborn. Shotgun weddings rarely produce fawning parents. However, the lightly vetted lady on the mighty McCain ticket is a perfect match for the aging, downed hero aviator. A pair so frightening to imagine as the leaders of this country that even the greedy and the undecided will certainly think twice before voting for them.