Thursday, October 09, 2008

Careful... it's "Them!"

I don't blog here very often. Most of my blogosphere energies are devoted to discussions on other boards, such as my friend Steve Salerno's SHAMblog or my beloved Connie's Whirled Musings. But every once in awhile - like today - I find myself wanting to get something off my chest sans the filters of someone else's topics.

These last few days, we've seen the presidential campaign deteriorate pretty badly, its rhetoric consisting of far more mud than relevant information. I had expected as much, given the presence of Rove and Schmidt. To be honest, I was surprised that John McCain would choose to avail himself of their "expertise" in guiding his campaign, especially given the hatchet job they'd done on him in 2000, followed by his pledge to keep his campaign clean and eschew the mud-slinging. I had always thought of the man as being honorable... that is, until he sold his integrity after 2000 for a place at the table. Sadly, he was not the only one. Even Colin Powell, whom I really admired for a long time, abandoned his principles and was admitted to the Big House. Unlike McCain, however, Powell has belatedly and publicly acknowledged his error, restoring a modicum of his integrity, if not his political career.

The recent turn of events inspired me to look more closely at all the candidates. I felt that I had obviously missed something about McCain's motivation (and perhaps even his character), and felt obligated to educate myself fully before casting a vote. Well, I have to tell you... what I found out was distressing, to say the least.

The more I dug to find the truth about the "dirt" that was being shoveled on the Obama campaign, the more I discovered that the worst of it was either a mountain from molehill spin on insignificant events, or completely fabricated. The Swiftboats had obviously been loosed. Thankfully, the American public is, as a whole, more sophisticated this time around, and isn't being swayed the way they were in 2004. Frankly, the more I dug, the more convinced I became that Obama was our best hope for setting aright the excesses, abuses, and downright malfeasance of the last 8 years.

Conversely, the more I dug into McCain's story, the uglier it got. That he pretends to be above the muckraking fray, while sending out his "pitbull with lipstick" to shovel the hate was only the start. As it turns out, even my earlier image of him was based upon a carefully articulated and publicized persona that bears scant resemblance to the real man. Rather than compile a list of everything I found, I suggest you read an article that appeared in, of all places, Rolling Stone magazine. While the tenor of the article is certainly indicative of a strong negative bias, the incidents and events described therein are presented with surprising accuracy, and paint a picture of a narcissistic, spoiled brat who typically throws tantrums when things don't go his way. It offers new insight into his chosen moniker of Maverick, which, as it turns out, came into common use after a man by that name made his fortune in the 1800s by discretely stealing others' cattle. I strongly recommend that you read the article, and do your own research to determine how credible it is to you. Here's the link.

Now... to the "them" part...

I read in the paper the other day a remark that Gov. Palin had made some remarks about Sen. Obama that a few pundits and commentators were claiming had racist overtones. She had been telling audiences that Obama "Doesn't see America the same way you and I see America," punctuated with her trademark conspiratorial (and perversely flirtatious) wink and smile. I initially took those analyses with more than a grain of salt, having heard Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton cry racial wolf too many times to take the accusation seriously any more. |Then, a couple of nights ago, I was lying in bed and recalled a conversation I'd overheard as a kid. The people at the next table in a cafe were discussing "colored" people, and I recall them saying, "Niggers are different from us. They don't see things like you and I do."

You betcha, Sara... We get it.
Recalling that conversation, along with the mindset it represented for so many people in pre-civil rights Texas, literally made a chill run down my back. Despite my having been desensitized by the Sharpton effect, I clearly saw the message behind Palin's remarks, and her attempt at cuteness was revealed for the meanness that it truly represented. Upon researching her activities in Alaska before hitting the national stage, I discovered that the meanness I had only just begun to see had long ago been accepted as common knowledge. Compounding her obvious lack of qualifications for the role of vice president or (shudder) president, it appears that she lacks the temperament to deal with the complex negotiations that will certainly face the next administration.

The fact that the Republican party has at least publicly rallied behind the McCain/Palin ticket has to leave an objective voter wondering. Is "America first" merely a campaign buzz phrase, or does it really translate to "Republican America first?" In private, even the most conservative pundits are questioning the viability - much less, the qualifications - of their current ticket. Some have even come out publicly and stated that Palin is clearly not vice presidential material. But of course, there are those who blindly accept anything their party (or candidate) does, no matter how disingenuous, but such myopic individuals (some of whom, I've had "interesting" discussions with - and blogged about - in the past) are thankfully members of a fringe minority, on both far ends of the political spectrum, and don't represent a significant voting bloc. Judging by recent polls, I am confident that reason will win out over fear, that truth will emerge as a more valuable commodity than meanness, and that we'll finally see the folly in creating more and more images of a malevolent, collective "them" that really exist only in our own fears and biases. We'd better pray (or hope, if that works better for you) that my confidence is well-founded, because if it's not, we may well see this fine experiment in democracy falter and fade, just as others have done in the past.


Cosmic Connie said...

Excellent post, Ron. (You really do need to blog more!)

I have to admit that even though I had decided in favor of Obama some time ago, the Rolling Stone article about McCain opened my eyes. I used to like McCain and even at one point during previous presidential campaigns, I thought he might be worthy of my vote. Even after I changed my mind about that, for a long time I still thought of him as an American hero type -- maybe not suited for the Presidency, but at least a hero who, once you got past the dirty politics, stood for some things that were honorable and decent.

But that article was, as I said, an eye-opener. It revealed a McCain who was (is) not only a spoiled narcissist (and was a bad pilot, to boot), but is also a bit of a misogynist. I know that the misogyny bit puts him in good stead with one of those "fringe" types we've sparred with, but it doesn't set well with me.

Not only did he treat former girlfriends and his first wife badly (some of which he has publicly admitted to, and has called it a "moral failing"), but apparently he's been a bit rough at times on his present wife, Cindy. For some reason -- call me overly sensitive -- I was really perturbed by reading about that incident where Cindy ruffled his hair and teased him that it was getting a bit thin, and he let loose with a string of invectives, calling her a trollop and a c--t.

According to the article, three reporters witnessed this incident, although both McCains now deny it ever happened. And yes, I know that particular incident reportedly happened back in 1992, but that's far from the only event demonstrating that McCain is, to put it politely, a bit volatile.

Not a guy we'd want with his finger on the button, as they say. This is in no way an attempt to dishonor his service in Vietnam or to deny that he suffered greatly as a POW. But even that story got "spun" to make him look like more of a hero than he really was.

Again, the RS article didn't change my mind about who gets my vote. But it did make me even more aware of the man behind that kind grandfatherly visage.

And no, Obama's no saint, and I still suspect that he wouldn't have been nearly so successful with his campaign if he hadn't been backed by the Big O (Oprah) early on. That made me more than a little uncomfortable in the beginning. But I think he's basically an honorable man, and that he's not just the lesser of two evils, as I felt about Kerry last time, but the better of the two candidates.

Oh, and don't get me started on Sarah...

RevRon's Rants said...

"Oh, and don't get me started on Sarah..."

No need, Connie. Tina Fey's "parody" on SNL brings to mind Liza Minelli's long-time response to requests that she sing her mother's signature song, "Over the Rainbow."

Liza would simply smile and say, "It's been done."

Anonymous said...

Nice post, Rev. You know my thoughts and feelings about McCain, so you know I'm not surprised. But Palin, being a relatively blank slate so far, still has the power to surprise us. And surprise she does (though perhaps we should not be, after all, it's all part of one strategy).

You may want to see this (to add to the McCain collection):

Anonymous said...

BTW, the real Mavericks want their (good) name back:

Steve Salerno said...

I tell you, Rev, I'm truly aghast at some of the stuff that goes on nowadays under the rubric of "politics as usual." The purposeful distortion of fact, the disingenuous justification of willful smears--like this whole Ayers thing, which McCain claims to truly believe is evidence of Obama's unfitness to serve (as if McCain really believes any of that, in his heart)--I don't even know what to say anymore. It's not so much that they're distorting the truth as that they know they're distorting the truth in the cynical hope of picking up a vote here and there from someone who simply doesn't think these things through very deeply. As I said recently on my blog, God knows what they'll come up with at the 11th hour, when there's no further chance for anyone to fact-check or refute them before the voting starts....

Nothing would surprise me at this point. It's appalling. And--I dare say--it's un-American, given the real woes we face at this point in time. John McCain can see a real lack of patriotism anytime he wants, simply by looking in the nearest mirror.

RevRon's Rants said...

Great articles, Eliz! There's so much we don't know about the candidates, and sadly, too many folks take more care in hiring the people who tend their yard than they take in selecting their president.

I've wandered over to a rabid fringe blog or two (from both fringes, one of which is run by a nutcase I was foolish enough to engage from time to time), and am amazed at the length they will go to justify even the most disingenuous acts, so long as they're being done by "their guy/gal." It really makes me thankful that these products of shallow gene pools don't have much of a following. Hopefully, their readers are more intelligent - not to mention, mentally balanced - than the authors, and don't drink the toxic kool-aid.

RevRon's Rants said...

Steve, et al -
I think we can all take heart in the knowledge that the crap we're seeing isn't the whole of "politics as usual," but rather the dying gasps of *failed* politics as usual.

I genuinely feel for those individuals whom have long related to the tenets of Republicanism, only to see it deteriorate into something akin to the version of Republicanism that would appear in the Bizarro World of old Superman comic books. We've heard from some who finally got fed up with the nonsense and bailed on the party, just as some of us have bailed on the abomination that the Democratic party has become. Perhaps... just perhaps, we'll see the emergence of a movement committed to some integrity in campaigning, as well as the governance that follows. Barring that, our country is in for a future that none of us wants to live to see.

Anonymous said...

I am amazed at the length they will go to justify even the most disingenuous acts

Yep. This just in: "John McCain spotted eating a live baby in a Las Vegas casino."

The GOP spin machine:
1. It's not true.
2. The pictures you have do not show that the guy is John McCain for certain.
3. This is all a Dems' ploy.
4. Barack Hussein Obama is a terrist.
5. It was McCain, but the baby was not live.
6. So the baby was live, so what? It's not like Barack Hussein Obama did not eat live babies in Kenya 100 years ago. His great-grandfather did, for sure.
7. The world is overpopulated and John McCain, being the maverick and patriot he is, was doing his patriotic duty to combat the overpopulation problem.
8. And what, prey tell, did Barack Hussein Obama did in the same time?? Did he eat any babies? No, of course not. Because Barack Hussein Obama does not care about overpopulation. He does not care about you and me, only about his terrist friends.

P.S. The baby's parents issued a statement, published in its entirety in The National Review, thanking John McCain for eating their baby. Being true patriots, they also offered him their older kid. The kid himself did not protest (or so we hear) knowing well that only John McCain has the effective solutions to the problem of overpopulation. Vote Palin... Er, McCain/Palin '08.

Anonymous said...

But then we have "Rednecks for Obama:"

HHH said...

May I ask a question, even though I am incredibly glib and foolish?

Anonymous said...

Ahem. Rev, that one sentence in point 8 should have read:
"And what, prey tell, did Barack Hussein Obama do in the same time??"

("Prey tell" was deliberate.)

But, sheesh... Now the GOP will never hire me to write their PR memos (weep).

On a related(?) note, Connie does not want to get started on Sarah, while I can't seem to stop! In the latest news from Palin's dis-infomercial campaign, she has announced that Obama would diminish "the prestige of the United States presidency." I kid you not. See for yourself:

Apparently there is no bottom to her ugliness.

RevRon's Rants said...

Sorry HHH... I'm the only one allowed to be glib and foolish on this blog. :-)

RevRon's Rants said...

"Apparently there is no bottom to her ugliness."

Being a devout ass-man, I'd have to say that given her level of "charm" and the "depth" of her political acumen, the fact (as yet unproven, however) that she has no bottom renders the woman a total wash in my book. Back to the tundra with her, straight away!

HHH said...

It's a good job I want to ask a serious question then. That question is, is Naomi Wolf giving an accurate picture of America sliding into fascism?

RevRon's Rants said...

HHH, I'd say she's not far off the mark, but I still have hope that things will get better pretty soon. While I don't see the Democrats as saviors by any means, I do see them as being the one element that can break the stranglehold of fascism that currently grips this nation and threatens to destroy it.

Of course, when the Democrats have the reins, they'll screw things up in their way, and the Republicans will emerge to get their turn, only to allow power to corrupt them again. My real hope is that with each subsequent swing of the political pendulum, the partisan arc will decrease, ultimately resting in a place of balance - of power and of ideals. It's the only true road to peace and prosperity.

Anonymous said...

Back to the tundra with her, straight away!

Well, Rev, if we use your criteria, or rather criterion, ahem, then let's not banish her yet. There is that famous video of McCain ogling Palin's backside when he first introduced her in Ohio. It would thus appear that she is bottom-full, after all. See for yourself:

(By golly, how did we end up in this lawless territory... LMAO.:)

RevRon's Rants said...

Eliz, I laughed my butt off (what little butt I had in the first place) watching that video. Thought he was going to start drooling there at one point!

Not that I would hold his appreciation against him, since it's something to which I can relate... I just gravitate toward different... targets for my attentions!

hhh said...

Reader's Digest in a Cosmopolitan cover.

Anonymous said...

HHH, I agree, but I still think it is offensive to Reader's Digest. Can't think of a more suitable example, though. (Mein Kampf for Idiots in a Cosmo cover...?)

Hhh said...

I took the trouble to watch your man mcain. It seemed like his wedding ring had become uncomfortably tight, too.

RevRon's Rants said...

Apparently, his wedding ring isn't the only thing that feels too tight for him. After giving his pit bull some false teeth and sending her out to slander Obama, he is now paying lip service to the need to remain respectful. His advisers must have told him about the negative backlash, and while he knows that the smear campaign is all he has left, he knows he needs to appear above the ugly fray, even as his vice moose continues to feed it. Either he's a desperate hypocrite, or he is unable to lead even his VP pick. And folks are saying that *she's* not qualified!

Anonymous said...

"The McCain/Palin ticket is the first in American history in which both candidates were found to have violated ethics standards before a national election."

Mavericks, indeed.

Anonymous said...

Gasp! Rev, gotta see it to believe it:

Barack “Osama” Printed on NY Absentee Balots

Election officials in Rensselaer County in upstate New York sent out hundreds of absentee ballots with this unfortunate spelling error. They are denying any intentional wrong doing despite a statement that three different people proof read the ballots and the fact that “S” is no where near “B” on the keyboard.

Meantime, we are getting into the late states of the racial denunciation game:

I call on Senator Obama to immediately and personally repudiate these outrageous and divisive comments that are so clearly designed to shut down debate 24 days before the election. Our country must return to the important debate about the path forward for America.

This is going to be one of the ugliest and most contentious, if not THE ugliest and most contentious election in the US history.

Anonymous said...

This is not passion. This is deep anger and hostility toward another human being.

People who know McCain personally (and have the guts) speak out about his volatile temperament:

HHH said...

From 'the Anglo American' establishment.-(sorry it's long)
The secret society of Cecil Rhodes is mentioned in the first five of his seven wills. In
the fifth it was supplemented by the idea of an educational institution with scholarships,
whose alumni would be bound together by common ideals—Rhodes's ideals. In the sixth
and seventh wills the secret society was not mentioned, and the scholarships monopolized
the estate. But Rhodes still had the same ideals and still believed that they could be
carried out best by a secret society of men devoted to a common cause. The scholarships
were merely a facade to conceal the secret society, or, more accurately, they were to be
one of the instruments by which the members of the secret society could carry out his
purpose. This purpose, as expressed in the first will (1877), was:
“The extension of British rule throughout the world, the perfecting of a system of
emigration from the United Kingdom and of colonization by British subjects of all
lands wherein the means of livelihood are attainable by energy, labour, and
enterprise, . . . the ultimate recovery of the United States of America as an integral
part of a British Empire, the consolidation of the whole Empire, the inauguration of
a system of Colonial Representation in the Imperial Parliament which may tend to
weld together the disjointed members of the Empire, and finally the foundation of so
great a power as to hereafter render wars impossible and promote the best interests
of humanity.”
Given that the Council on Foreign Relations was set up for the same purpose as the Rhodes scholarships, and given that both your candidates are members, how do you know they are not actively working to destroy your republic?

HHH said...

Re you're earlier coment, to say that Wolf is not far wrong is quite an admission.
What have folks been saying about Obama's youth brigade, and is it an isolated incident?
How much awareness have Americans got of where political youth movements can lead to?
I have next to me an illustrated copy of Shirers 'Rise of the Third Reich', which I shall be perusing, (slightly ironically the readers digest abridged version.)
I have watched that obama youth video, and my jaw dropped when they referred themselves as dogs. Animal Farm?

RevRon's Rants said...

"how do you know they are not actively working to destroy your republic?"

Not to be glib in my response, HHH, but... while I have my share of personality flaws, paranoia isn't one of them. :-)

It's one of those A=B, B resembles C, so A = C arguments that just don't work for me.

Hhh said...

Ah, well, you SAY paranoia isn't one of your flaws, you SAY that...but how do I REALLY know...

Really though, America is not somwhere I've been to so I can't really understand the place. Next best thing is ask the natives.

The Rhodes thing seems pretty straightforward, and for it not to be serving that purpose still, there would have to have been a significant change of direction in his organisations in the last century or so. That's probably inevitable to some degree, but by how much I don't know, I've just recently started to look at this stuff. From what I see there is a very strong vein of anti globalist/imperial feeling in America, but it's often very simplistic. That's what a google search will show anyway. I notice also that a lot of the anti feeling originates from christians, and there is a ready made hidden hand behind all ills in that religion which may be a template for further paranoia. From what Quigley wrote though, it would be hard to deny the intent of the British aristocracy towards the US in this regard, however it has turned out.
I can say that regarding the EU, it was definitely sold as just a few trade agreements at first, but has turned out to be something quite different. It wouldn't surprise me if the US goes the same way, and you find yourselves part of a greater federation- but yes, there is a lot of room for easy paranoia to take the place of proper research. Especially here in the kingdom of CCTVania.

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