Saturday, November 29, 2008

Little Laura, Happy at Last?

Recently, a friend concluded an email conversation with:

And what does Laura Bush think of him? Can you imagine being married to a man like that?

Actually, yes I have. More than once I've said to her image on television, "Was the money worth it?"

(Rather than pick one image for this post, I'm linking to BAGnewsNotes with their entry on Laura Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina refugees because these are pictures she would, I assume, have approved. The body language/photo analysis is spot on.)

I have always felt sorry for Laura Bush. Even though I suspect her response would be that I have a lot of nerve.

But this is still America. And I'm allowed.

She was the only child of parents who were in real estate development. This would have meant fusses being made over her, abundant clothes, her own car when she was old enough, and never worrying where the tuition money would come from. As a big reader, I admire and adore librarians, who tend to share my own love of books and learning. It's never going to pay the big bucks, nor would teaching primary school, her other profession. That was a sincere expression of where her priorities would lie; a life of the mind, involved with children and other seekers after art and compassion and goodness.

So I see Laura in 1977, getting married at 31, to the handsome, charming, and quite rich young W. She was undoubtedly looked on as someone who would "settle W down" and her inability to do so must gnaw at her, though it's a foolish aspiration and an impossible task. To create more tensions with her Republican-viewed roles, she needed help to conceive the twins, and it probably pains her to see them making fools of themselves partying in various countries. Of course she loves them. Was it her fault his family spoiled them so, when she wanted them to love books and education? Didn't she try hard to make them appreciate all their nice things?

It probably seemed like a good deal to her once. But if you look at her Panic-On-Thorazine countenance now, I'm sure she's having second, third, and fourth thoughts. Not only, in the words of my friend, is she married to a man like that, she has a mother-in-law like that. (Insider talk has it that George W. is very much like his mother. I shudder.)

I am sure her librarian heart is pained by how her aspirations for a personal life were so cruelly shrunken and hemmed in by the very things she thought would guarantee a good result. She looked past the frat boy shenanigans (marriage will make him grow up) and did not realize how shallow the charm went (he can be so sweet and needy) and discounted his family (I'm marrying him, not his family, we can lead our own lives) until it was way too late.

The money! The people they know! The circles they move in! The clothes, the parties, the fun! The money, so much money... surely it would buy happiness.

She's writing a book, I hear, for several millions. I think leaving the White House will be a watershed moment for her; children grown, First Lady obligations over, and a source of her own income from the book contract, probably for the very first time since the marriage. While not officially separating, I think she will distance herself from whatever Bush will be doing, as her marriage deteriorates into more and more of a caretaker role for a brain-damaged, selfish, and temperamental manchild.

There can be hired minders now, called "aides" and "secretaries" and "staff," and he can clear all the brush, bicycle all the trails, and party in dark dens all he likes. She'll show up for official events, and the rest of the time... she'll go back to being the librarian she must be at heart.

I see her working quietly in charities by donating her name and appearances at events. There will be a circle of her own friends. If there is an affair, it will be very quiet and discreet, covered up by the families involved. Because she will still be in that big money world, but I know she will not be the only refugee from it.

She can find like-minded others there; doing good deeds in fabulous clothes, having fun brunches instead of drunken bashes, popping up with perfect manners when her husband needs her at the photo-op, but no longer pretending to herself it's a real marriage, or a real family.

The girlish dreams of love and art were just that, she tells herself. Everyone compromises. Time for Laura, at last.

Does she have nightmares of the blood and pain and death those around her brought about? Does she wonder if she could have made things, different?

No, I don't think she does. She was "the wife." There to sacrifice, support, suggest, sanction, and smile, smile, smile.

She had nothing to do with policy. Whether it was good or bad was not her call to make.

If W made orphans, her job was to send them food and clothes.

To show she cares.

To look at the pictures from this officially shot and chosen photo-op is to see someone who does care; and is completely helpless to do anything about it. The constraints of her position must seem overwhelming, and she's not the rebellious type.

It must have seemed like a fairy tale ending for Laura the Librarian; swept off her feet by a handsome prince. She took the bargain, she lived up to her end, and if it meant she wound up married to a drunk who loved fart jokes and is already known as the Worst President In Our History Thus Far; well, one thing money does is compensate for a lot of problems that would otherwise be overwhelming. The important thing is that her real friends will be too polite to mention it.

And if nobody talks about it, well, it's not like it really happened, is it?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Don't fall for it.

Look at this number.


That's ten billion, three hundred and eighteen million, dollars.

That's how much profit health care insurance companies made in one year, as of the April 17th, 2006 issue of Fortune.

None of that money went to healthcare.

This is always the excuse the Republicans give: "Oh, we can't afford that."

Yet, they can afford wars and Wall Street bailouts. Which are much, much, much more expensive, AND do not create anything in return.

So, don't fall into their frame.

Every penny of profit the insurance company makes from health care is now up for grabs. That is a considerable amount of money, isn't it? And yet, in terms of getting healthcare to people, it's all wasted.

If a parent spends money on drunken expeditions to Vegas, and then claims they can't buy the kids shoes, we call them on it.

We don't need the insurance companies to give us healthcare.

We don't need drunken expeditions to Vegas.

Call them on it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

McCain is the X Million Dollar Man, Only Evil

How much have McCain's surgeries, just in the last eight years, cost?

Find out how much surgery he’s had since 2000, and run him as the X
million dollar man. (I have not had a chance to research it, and we
want it to be accurate.)

How many of us could afford this much treatment of even a deadly disease, such as McCain's?

You know, his health plan would tax any health care benefits people receive from their employers. Ironically, forcing people to drop it would take the burden off of employers, and then they will have to drop it because they can no longer afford coverage without such economies of scale.

Thanks for the tax break, Senator McCain.

And then very few people would have health insurance. Thank you, Senator McCain, whose wife wore an outfit estimated at $300,000 dollars. Admittedly, retail.

But hey, it’s fine to run McCain at this age. Evil geniuses take time to develop that much fine tuned rage and sadism. Don't push them!

He's ready and experienced. And he already has minions.

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
see Sarah Palin pictures

So be pleased with what our tax dollars have wrought.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The tide, it turns

A liberal pundit soars to a prominent perch - The Boston Globe: "'MSNBC is trying to define a niche for itself as a center for commentary,' said Sid Bedingfield, a former CNN executive who teaches journalism at the University of South Carolina. 'It wants to be the home for liberal and left-wing viewers.'"

Well, hey, that's a home I can feel comfy in. With the advent of Rachel Maddow's new show, there are now two truth-tellers on television.

It's that simple.

Calling them liberal simply points up Stephen Colbert's well known saying, "Reality has a strong liberal bias." It takes a lot of spin, propaganda, and outright lies to keep this lead balloon floating; keeping people thinking Republicans have some kind of solution to the problems they have created.

Supposedly, Will Rogers said, "Stupidity got us into this situation. Why can't it get us out?"

As upset as I get over people coming to conclusions based on scraps of wrong knowledge, I have to admit that our common media outlets simply do not make it easy. On purpose.

As I mentioned in this post, our news outlets don't particularly want us to come away from their program with a set of well-formed, well-informed, outlooks on the issues. They sow confusion, leave important conclusions hanging, and dart in and out of a story until all possible thread is lost.

Watching the television news, without any other context, makes it impossible to figure out what is really going on.

And that is its purpose. The illusion of being informed.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Reaching the Republican Oppressed

I think there's a chunk of the electorate that is waiting to be reached.

The really disaffected Republican voters. Not the ones who whisper to Obama. But the ones on a tier below that. I think of them as the Republican Oppressed.

In many Republican circles, one is the Alpha Dog... or one is nothing. From a community to a workplace to the family, this is simply how they arrange themselves. That leaves a lot of people doing all the grunt work, with little appreciation.

Deep in their hearts, they do think racism is wrong, that women are smart, that their physical problem or sexual orientation shouldn't make them feel less than human. Yet they are stuck in a deep red sea, unable to openly retaliate, dependent on people they secretly resent for treating them this way.

They aren't going to talk on the phone. They aren't going to speak in the street. One would have to reach them with a line in a speech.

Reach these people, the Republican Oppressed, by telling them:

You are not nothing. You matter.

They could nurture in their hearts a way of striking back. A way no one need know about. Alone in the ballot box, it could be their secret.

You are not nothing. You matter.

I think they would vote for someone, anyone, who would tell them that.

You are not nothing. You matter.

There would be an extraordinary psychological pull towards someone saying that to them.

Because no one ever has.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

I See Dead People

When I watched the Republican National Convention, what is most striking is what I don't see.

I don't see a packed hall, possibly because Ron Paul pulled 10,000 into his competing rally.

I don't see many non-white faces.

I don't see enthusiasm, except for the images of the dead and the descriptions of torture.

Then there's Sarah Palin. A pick that the Base and some loyal syncophants in the press will love, and will turn off everyone else.

It's been a week now, and while it will take a while for the polls to settle down, interviews with such small town, blue collar voters that might have been persuaded shows that they have not been.

It is premature to pronounce this party down for the count, of course. But it has been traditional for the primary winner to swing wide, having secured their base. Now is the time they reach out to as-yet uncommitted voters.

But the McCain campaign didn't do that. They pulled in, and made a pick that was meant to secure their base.

This is a campaign in trouble.

No matter how they court hernias to spin how this is all "good for Republicans," that's a clear sign of trouble to all savvy watchers.

So now they know they are not fooling insiders. This unmistakable signal of weakness, coupled with denying access to the vice presidential candidate, will increase press hostility.

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
see Sarah Palin pictures

This is the slow grind of attrition, the horror of being behind. It doesn't matter when the contest is starting out, but scrambling to stop a slow bleed at this point, right after the convention, is a danger sign.

In the 26 states and the District of Columbia where registration data were available, the total number of registered Democrats increased by 214,656, while the number of Republicans fell by 1,407,971. | Voters abandon GOP for Dems, 8/5/08

That's some astonishing numbers. It's clear that a lot of people want to be Democrats... and an awful lot of people don't want to be Republicans.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

They are ghouls. Make it stop.

At the age of ten, I was subjected to child abuse.

Republicans wouldn't think so. I sat through a two hour evangelical sermon by one of those fire and brimstone speakers who did Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ for the blind.

By the end of it, I was a quivering mass of fear and empathetic pain. It pleased the people who put on the show. They came down to smile upon the children, and told us not to sin anymore.

This is how I felt, watching Fred Thompson, in excruciating detail, outline all the torments and tortures inflicted on John McCain during his captivity as a POW.

In front of the man's mother.

These people are sick. They are twisted worshipers of death who are all too eager to share their joy. I expected the Ronald Reagan tribute. They exhume him every chance they get. But I didn't expect to get all queasy and have an evangelical flashback.

It's them. They love inflicting pain. They really do.

Merciful heaven, they must be stopped.

Fortunately, in the classic "evil sows the seeds of its own destruction" way, they will die of attrition, which is more merciful than anything they have shown their many victims.

A Pew poll released this week showed that by 2007, the number of white evangelical Protestants leaning toward the Republicans was 57 per cent — down from 62 per cent in 2004. The decline of America's religious right

Because, despite the obvious drawbacks of Palin on the ticket, they are going to soldier on. No matter what she will reveal next, it's a good thing.

At last, at long last, I believe they have reached a level where people will be ashamed to vote for them.

And they should be.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Mills of the Gods

As one McCain aide put it: "We either get Hillary's voters and we win, or we don't. It's not a mystery."
McCain's decision prompts one important question: Huh?

Of course this is a cynical ploy to pick up women voters. The uniquely Republican twist is the way they always choose someone who has no experience or expertise. Because to do otherwise would imply that someone who is not a rich white guy might have intelligence and skills and contributions to make. Thus, the Republican devotion to tokenism.

The impetus is in the quote above. I suspected it, and now it's confirmed.

They have fallen for their own spin, and they don't know it.

The right-wing's reshaping of the media discourse to their own ends has now come full circle. The feverishly faxed talking points about "Democratic disunity" and the "hard core Hillary supporters are going for McCain" have led to this choice. They have acted on their own lies as though they are true.

Those who dwell in a hall of mirrors shouldn't throw stones.

Just as the religious right's prayers for rain during the big outdoor Democratic convention rally has led to a hurricane disrupting the Republican convention. Haven't they learned that vindictive prayers boomerang back on the vicious supplicant?

Probably not, since that is a Wiccan concept. Meanness is an essential component of these faux Christians.

I see this move as an indication that the Republicans, always susceptible to living in worlds that do not exist outside of their pointed heads, have given up harsh reality altogether and have started believing their own lies. Did they forget that this "disunity" talking point was their own creation? That the usual primary hurly-burly of their opponents was only supposed to be spun that way for their own purposes?

Seemingly so.

The Greek philosopher Sextus Empiricus wrote "Though the mills of the gods grind slowly, Yet they grind exceeding small." I have held to this truth these past eight years, more tightly than I had imagined when this wild ride began. There were times when I worried that I would not be around to see that fine grind being sacked up and brewed.

But this karmic cup is steeping just fine, and I look forward to the creamy moment when McCain gets Mondaled. His own most potent talking point for the low-info voter, the claim that Obama doesn't have the experience for the job, has been deeply undercut by his own choice for vice president. And the "heartbeat away" in question has never been so old, unhealthy, and cranky.

Because in making what, for Republicans, is a historic and atypical choice of a woman running mate, they have validated the ability of a woman to run for high office. Not this woman, certainly, because her education, accomplishments, and experience, taken together, is sadly lacking.

But the concept has been planted in the pointy heads. And that's another unexpected consequence they aren't thinking about.

I suppose if John McCain thinks women should leave the kitchen, put on shoes, and stand by to be our President, that's an indication that Republicans think women are capable of the same kind of decisions and responsibility previously only conferred upon rich white guys.

Though, knowing McCain's previously stated position on equal pay for equal work, Palin's vice presidential salary will only be $170,247.

So there.

(Techie note: This post was created and published through the Firefox Add-on Scribefire, a multi-blog publishing tool I highly recommend.)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Cold Calculus of Republican Rule

One of the things I hold most against the Republicans is the way they have contaminated the culture; the hive mind, if you will.

Civilized behavior is held together by the thinnest, yet strongest, of threads. What is expected of us is often indefinable, only occasionally overt, but exerts its influence in thousands of ways.

The Republicans have lobotomized our public discourse and given aid and comfort to the most hateful and unhinged elements of our society. Still, some of its greatest crimes have crept up on us, unnoticed, until we find ourselves hostage to that greatest of Republican gods: mammon.

The Republicans allow corporations to do whatever they want.

And so, they do.

Just today, I was made aware of the terrible ordeal of the lab mix, Chai. His person gave him a Pimple Ball with bell, made by Four Paws. He wound up having to have his tongue amputated, and is now permanently maimed.

It took a boycott to get the company to recall this product, even though Chai was not the only dog injured by the defective toy. Even though they had vet records. Only this morning did the recall notice go out, even though Chai had been injured June 22, 2008.

Well, at least the defective toy is off the market, right?

Yes, it is. But the company knew the toy was defective earlier. It had so injured Cole, another lab mix, that he had to be euthanized.

In July of 2005.

For three years they left this still-defective toy on the market. They didn't fix it. They didn't recall it. They just told Cole's owner it was a freak accident.

And that was all they did.

Perhaps it seems a bit much to blame Karl Rove and the Bush Administration for this. But I do. Because they have encouraged corporations to feel they are not only above the law, but above any standards of corporate responsibility.

Sending our troops into battle without proper equipment? Giving prescription drugs a fast track to approval, even if they have deadly side effects? Letting our produce be contaminated with deadly bacteria? Letting our toddlers chew on lead? Letting our pets die from contaminated food, and, now, defective toys?

Well, see, it's just too expensive to prevent these kinds of things. Money is for beachfront condos and fabulous outfits and shooting penned birds and yachts.

Money is for taking from us.

And killing those who cannot afford to live.

Outraged by Chai's story? Good! Visit my Action Page.

And for a sad look at the wildlife policy of McCain's new vice president choice, see here.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Listen to McCain

As beautifully summed up by Frank Rich, "McCain increasingly resembles those mad Japanese soldiers who remained at war on remote Pacific islands years after Hiroshima."

But what about the people who don't see McCain that way? Who are scared of change? Who want the "old days" back?

That nostalgia for the old days isn't because the old days were so good. In older people, it's increasingly a stand in for what they used to be, and no longer are.

So we can't reach people who are clinging to McCain the way they used to cling to their blankie.

But people who, despite the odds stacked against them with the TV Talking Heads and the overwhelmingly negative coverage of Obama, are still trying to find something that will help them choose a candidate they feel comfortable with: They should listen to McCain.

He's outright telling people what he's going to do. Is it stuff they want?

Bringing back the draft? McCain was enthused about a woman's suggestion that the draft is the only way to keep all these wars going. He loves the idea of more warm bodies for his foreign policy, which is:

Fighting an endless series of wars? His plan is to fight wars for oil, wars for other countries who disagree with us, wars as the solution to any foreign policy problem.

Increase the national debt? McCain's economic policy does nothing to address our staggering debt. In fact, he'll increase it, because:

Tax cuts for everyone, only the rich get most of it?
Under his tax plan, the middle class, which he defines as anyone not making $5 million a year, will get tiny cuts, while the rich, like him, get massive cuts. He's not worried about pumping his own gas, because his energy plan:

Energy policy that will offer only psychological relief? Yes, let's drill everywhere. Even though he admits it won't bring gas prices down. But people who already have a lot of money, like Exxon, will make more that way. He doesn't care when prices for gas and food are high, because he says:

People who struggle to make their bills are whiners. The man in charge of his economic policy called anyone in difficulties "whiners" whose money problems were because they were in a "mental recession."

Keeping our present health care system to make insurance companies rich? That's what his tax breaks for health insurance scheme is. We get a tax break to pay rich insurance companies for junk insurance, and our taxes then go to profit, not anything we can use to make our lives better. Does he suggest legislation to make sure the insurance companies actually insure people and pay up when these people need health care? Not that I've heard.

Skip all his talk of honor and change and experience. What he promises to do is right there in his words.

A country racked by debt and economic turmoil, where people are poor and desperate enough to sign up for more war, all the time, with a draft for the slackers and no help for those who aren't of any use to his crazed chess game with lives.

That's what he's promising. Listen to what he'll actually say he'll do.

And decide if that's something you want.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Secret of Visualization

A popular video and book claim to be able to tell us "The Secret," which will bring all our dreams to life.

However, my experience leads me to believe too many people have deficient imaginations, unable to get off the couch or get its own snack foods, and thus, this powerful tool will be beyond them without considerable practice.

For instance, the depraved mayhem perpetrated on the country by the Republicans over the past seven years has not instructed some people's imagination to the point where they can easily visualize how perpetuating this Republican rule will, inevitably, lead to more mayhem.

I don't know how, but some people cannot use their imagination.

I really noticed this, of all things, watching the show "Sell This House," on one of the cable channels.

They would show videos of people going through perfectly fine houses, and complaining.

"This bathroom is kinda dark." (Geez, spring for some bulbs, would you?)

"The living room looks cluttered." (If you buy the house, it will be your living room, and you can decorate it any way you'd like.)

"I don't like that bedspread in the master bedroom." (In the name of all that's holy, did you not realize that bedspread is going to be on the U-Haul leaving the place once the papers are signed? It's not your bedspread!)

But once the expert came in (take out half the furniture, paint everything beige, and put a vase of fresh flowers in the foyer) the people couldn't stop talking about how roomy and welcoming the same place was.

They can't friggin' visualize.

Many people have imaginations so atrophied, so limited, so flabby from lack of exercise, they can't come up with a speculative scenario to save their life.

Even if it will.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Branding the Republicans

Consumers may not realize the amount of effort and thought that goes into Brands. "Kleenex" and "Xerox" lead the fight to keep their brands from becoming generic terms for "tissue" and "photocopy." Because so much money is at stake.

We Progressives are in a unique time and place to re-position our Brand. Let's do it, and stop letting the Republicans do it for us. Establish both our Brand and theirs, and we will turn the Republican's strength into a weakness. We have to.

Because so much is at stake.

How can we get through to the low information electorate quickly and simply? There's so much to cover.

The contaminated pet food and toys that strikes the most vulnerable of those we love?

The senseless war that has killed, damaged, and endangered the least vulnerable element of our society, the military, and left it unable to do its job?

The ridiculous tax cut and deregulation policies which crumble the foundations of our roads and bridges, our education and our skills, our business and our dollars?

It's everywhere. It's huge. How do we sum up ALL the cronyism, corruption, and callousness?


They bought it, they broke it, and now they own it.


They've been whining about it, flooding our airwaves with it, and screaming about it for long enough. Let's hang it around their necks.


For thirty years the Republican party has been defining our brand for us. We are the "tax and spend" party, the "wimpy on National Defense" party, the "elitist, latte drinking, Volvo driving," party. The fearsome, horrible, ineffectual, nanny state people who have been damned with the label "liberals."

Okay. So we're Progressives. It even sounds better. As Democrats, we will differentiate ourselves from the Republicans by advancing Progressive ideals and policy.

Democrats want to fix all the stuff the Republicans broke.

No more of this sidling over to the Republicans. No more of this "me too" campaigning. What distinguishes the different dish soaps, laundry detergents, and other cleaning products that fill the aisle in the supermarket? Not much, frankly. And they know that. So they hammer at Their Brand. They never, never, never say their dish soap is in any way like another dish soap.

Because that's not how you capture the market. The way to capture the market is to say, loudly and clearly and constantly, that their brand is Different! and thus... Better!

So we must do the same.

The Republicans have destroyed their brand. They hope the electorate will not notice. That's why McCain is campaigning as an American's American in America for Americans who are proud of being Americans.

McCain, the Republican, isn't campaigning as a Republican. They know their brand is screwed. They're hoping the voters won't notice. They're hoping we won't notice.

We can't make this just another stunt they get away with.

They bought it, they broke it, they own it.


End this talk of "Bush administration," and "the conservative mindset" and the "Neocons," and the "religious right." These are holes, ingredients they can label as something their brand no longer has. Of course, it's lies. That's why they say it. But unless and until they change the name of their party, they can't take the Republican out of the party. That's what they are. That's what they all are.

All the lies, betrayals, treason, secrecy, mayhem, and bloodshed they have perpetrated is Republican.

It's ALL Republican.

The falling dollar, bleak economic picture, and high prices at the pumps and produce counter?


The malfeasance and bribery and contempt for our press, our government, and our freedoms?


The ruthless destruction of our homes, our children, and our lives?


Make that word the horror it is. Create in the electorate the same revulsion the word has come to mean for us, who understand it, who realize what's going on, who know how important it is that we break the linkage between what people think they are getting, and what they actually get when they vote:


All of them. Bush, Cheney, Rice, Gonzales, Ashcroft, and Rumsfeld. The Iraq war, the wrecked economy, the dangerous goods they let into our country and the dangerous ideas they have lulled and lured the electorate with.

Sum it all up in who they are running for President, for Senator, for Representatives, for National, for State, for Local.

These are Republicans.

Now we know what happens when we vote for Republicans, don't we?

Every complaint on the street or at the checkout counter, every political discussion, every cry of disillusionment and despair, must be countered with their Brand.

Republican. That's the problem.

We can't let McCain run away from it. He's gone along with everything they did. He's sucking up to their movers and shakers. He's literally embraced Bush.

He's a Republican.

All this maverick stuff is just talk. Maverick started as a designation for unbranded calves, which anyone could pick up. But, of course, calling him a maverick is a lie. He's sooooo branded.


It's not just Bush, or imperialism, or deregulation, or Katrina or Iraq. It's all of it; every looted dollar and dead soldier.

They bought it, they broke it, and they own it.


Let no one forget.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

At this busy time... let's thank Karl Rove.

I want to buy Karl Rove a great big thank you card with puppies and kittens on it.

It seems too small a gesture for the way he has transformed our country.

Yes, there's the terrible, twisted, sick things he made possible. I am not discounting them. At all.

But in the classic, evil sows the seeds of its own destruction kind of way, he has been responsible for two sea changes.

One is the rise of the worst government policies ever, that have brought us to the brink of annihilation.

But he also paved the way for us to rise from these ashes.

What the heck do I mean?

I have a movie.

A blend of The Boys From Brazil and The Manchurian Candidate.

At the dawn of the Goldwater era, a band of renegade scientists began an bold, audacious project. They recruited new concepts from others of their kind, trained before the school boards began cutting evolution out of the textbooks, and genetically engineered a very specific type of man.

He was designed to be an unconventionally masculine man and was placed in the most mercilessly conventional of conservative enclaves. A father figure would be provided, but one who was especially deemed lacking in what his environment considered the most important quality in a father. It was an upbringing cruel enough to create resentments as deep and unyielding as granite.

Contempt. How could Karl Rove not feel contempt and anger towards the attitudes around him that never accepted him, never supported him, and made him feel inadequate and inferior? But he buried it deep. He would show them!

At a critical time in his adolescence, the plotters provided father figures who applauded his achievements and tutored him in the dark arts. At a critical time in his adulthood, they waited for his ambition to fire over an array of proper candidates.

When it did fire, their project had learned all the dirty ways to win. Because he had to win. He had to show them. He bored from within until he had the most secure and powerful position in government, balking at nothing to achieve his goal. Always with his secrets and insecurities buried under layers of pride and ambition and the stinging lash of contempt.

If Karl Rove were a secret agent, raised since birth, trained by exacting masters, to destroy the Republican party, he couldn't have done any better.

After all, he’s driven the man under his tutelage into record low levels of approval, presided over record levels of corruption, and broken the Republican party for at least a generation to come.

And that's not all!

He lured weak reeds from the opposing party into his cunning plan, letting them destroy themselves by allying themselves with the party he was bringing down. All the corruptible and power-mad elements of the other party also succumbed to his siren song of hate, division, and dirty tactics.

And now, I am seeing something that only a chaotic, desperate, terrible time can create.

Political realignment.

We know how badly Rove damaged the Republican party. But he has also damaged the go-along, get-along, we-love-lobbyists-too! wing of the Democratic party as well.

That's the part Hillary belonged to. Her weaknesses, her dirty tactics, her willingness to do anything to win; they are all working against her in the atmosphere Rove has created in today's electorate.

She's refusing to quit because she, and those around her, can't believe the rules have changed. It always worked before. She's not doing anything different, but it's not working.

Because things have changed.

And Karl Rove; more than seminars and position papers and the many many working diligently to restore sense and accountability to our government, more than politicians and speeches and good intentions; Karl Rove has done that.

Karl Rove is the one I hold most responsible for Iraq, Katrina, the shredding of our Constitution and the implementation of torture in our name. Without his actions, we wouldn't have the Bush administration and all that followed.

We wouldn't have people waking up and looking around and going, "Damn. This is really screwed."

Sadly, this is apparently what it takes. A complete, spectacular, and utter meltdown.

Courtesy, more than any other, of this one man.

I want him to know he made it possible.

I want to say, "Thank you," to Karl Rove.

Monday, March 24, 2008

This One's for the Whiners

I'm reading a lot of handwringing over the entirely overblown Reverend Wright flap. The Republicans found something to pick at. Oh, it's just terrible that Obama goes to a church where someone got angry in the pulpit. We have a politician who refused to throw someone under a bus. Oh, the horror.

Surprise! Surprise! Obama's a BLACK MAN!

Who didn't see that coming?

What? You were surprised that Obama knows other black people? And that some of these people might have encountered racism in their lives? And that some of these people might be angry about it?

Did anyone think the Republicans weren't going to notice that? And come up with ways to remind people if they didn't notice?

Edwards? Loved the game he talked. But not so much the way he walked... before the primaries. Remember the Bankruptcy Bill, No Child Left Behind, and the Patriot Act?

John Edwards voted for them.

Thanks, John, you nutty populist you!

And HRC? People tell me they think "she's tough, and we need someone tough against the Republicans."

Yes, she's tough. But she's never tough against the Republicans!

Has anyone missed the fact that our current front runner came from nowhere to the front in such a short period of time? That's he's the front runner, and has the delegates, because of the simple reason that more people voted for him?

We ran a really smart white guy in 2000, and in 2004, and it was still close enough to steal.

Isn't insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

Neither of our smart white guys was able to deflect Republican attacks properly. And no one is sorrier than I am that our smart white woman didn't figure out a way to handle Republicans back when, and still doesn't.

So now we have a smart black guy who seems to be able to overcome the horrible handicap of being a black man, AND deflect both Republican and Democratic attacks, AND gives speeches good enough to make all kinds of people cry and give him money.

More money than either of his rivals.

So mark me down as thrilled with the way things are shaking. Democrats haven't gotten anywhere playing "me too" with the Republicans. The R's are always going to play dirtier, scream louder, and make bigger fools of themselves over lies and misconceptions. As long as the Democrats tried to play that same game, they lost. Because the R's play it better and with more gusto.

We needed a clear difference.

So we're running the polar opposite of W.

If you find ways of whining now, you'll just have to wait for Jesus himself. Though he'd have to shave the beard and cut his hair. And he's hanging around with the dregs of society! Those lepers are going to hurt him in the polls. Sure, that Sermon on the Mount thing was good, but when is he going to give a long wonky speech laying out every aspect of his policies?

In this world, we run human beings. With all their frailties, inconsistencies, flaws and (hat tip to the 60's) hangups. All that can be given to us is to choose the best person we can.

And that's what I think we've got.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

About Last Ditch Criticism

The very idea of America is now under attack.

I am taking two candidates to task for their treatment of a particular skill of a third. People can still think what they think, and make up their own mind... after all, isn't this still America?

What does that wonderful phrase mean to us now?

I just had to share my disquiet, on a deep, visceral level, that both John McCain and Hilary Clinton have attacked Barack Obama's speeches on the basis that he offers hope.

Excuse my language, but WTF?

The oft-repeated disclaiming response about the effect Barack Obama's speeches have on the people who hear them is something that disturbs me.

People can come to their own decisions about his policies, his character, his campaign style, and what they might know, or not, about the people around him.

But I'm here to discuss his speeches.

Calling their effect "cult-like," claiming that "America needs more than speeches," and generally disclaiming any emotional stirring resulting from such exposure is more than cynical.

It's downright unAmerican.

Have we truly devolved as a country to the point where a man who gives speeches that stir positive emotions and evoke what I consider such true American sentiments as working together, accepting challenges, and being honest... can be attacked on that basis?

Are the other two leading candidates actually doing that?

Shredding the high points of our own history that includes speeches by such Presidents as Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Kennedy? Such moral leaders as Eleanor Roosevelt and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? Such compelling appealers to our better nature as Clarence Darrow, Eugene Debs, Robert Kennedy, and Margaret Sanger? Such literally revolutionary speakers as Patrick Henry and then General George Washington?

Speeches that defined us, motivated us, and uplift us still?

Speeches that actually created our history, by changing minds and hearts?

Now, suddenly, doing such a difficult and important task is wrong?

By so doing, they are not simply running a negative campaign. They are deliberately, for short-term personal gain, attempting to undercut, tarnish, and destroy the mythological history that, for good or ill, at least bound us together and gave us something to reach for.

That, at its best, let us accomplish incredible feats and create a dream so powerful it was named after us.

The American Dream. Whether it came true often enough or not, it was there, an inspiration to an aspiration. That things can be better.

Even more powerful; that we can make it better.

More powerful yet; that we should.

Despite the rise of media campaigns, catchy ads, and relentless focus groups, we have, in these speeches, a reminder of something that is a constant in not only our American history, but in our entire history. Before film, before radio, even before writing, there was words.

The sound of a human voice reaching out.

It can stir us as nothing else can. It pulls us along, capturing our minds and caressing our hearts.

It can do things nothing else can. No ad can punch through preconceptions, no article can divert misconceptions, no medium can stir new conceptions, as purely and precisely as a good speech.

Have we been ground into the dirt so deeply that this ability is now merely another item to be spun and muddied and stripped of all meaning?

That the mere human act of being moved by another's words is fodder for devaluation and diversion, something to be mocked and mutilated?

Inspiring speeches made our country. It created, shaped, and improved our country. Something, anything, that can reach people and unite them towards some worthy goal is a precious gift.

Whereever it appears, however it is delivered, and whoever is able to do it, this is something we, as Americans, as humanitarians, and as people, should treasure.

This is something we should protect.

What I'm saying is that it is perfectly all right to debate whether or not the person making the speech can deliver on their promises, implied or otherwise. We can even discuss whether those promises should be made. We can decide for ourselves if we want to answer the call to make it happen, or not.

But making fun of hope?

Disparaging a positive emotion, a deep need, a human motivator, and, sometimes, the only thing left?

We have candidates asking for our support to make our world a better place. They all have different visions and abilities, and we can choose among them for reasons of our own.

We can choose the world we want, a vote for what we want it to be.

But I, for one, do not want a world without hope.