Friday, October 05, 2012


Calhoun’s Cannons for Oct 5, 2012

To be persuasive, we must be believable.  To be believable, we must be credible.  To be credible, we must be truthful.
                                              Edward R. Murrow

I made sure I was appropriately dressed for the occasion by wearing my special Presidential Debate tee shirt.  The one with Meh emblazoned on the front, which is about all the enthusiasm I can conjure up for this overlong, overblown, overpriced, ridiculous Bataan Death March of a political campaign.

The debate was not without its moments.  The moderator was asleep at the switch while the President looked like a distracted boulevardier slouched gracefully against a lamp post, one leg casually canted behind him.  No need to stand firmly on two feet – this one could be phoned in.  And Mitt Romney nearly rattled his careful coiffure off center when he launched into his rat-a-tat-tat imitation of a frustrated but wildly agitated 11 year-old boy desperately trying to get his Dad to buy him a new pony – “All you need to do is raise the rates, lower the base, widen the top, cut the bottom, it won’t cost you a penny, it’ll be revenue neutral, I have a plan, I have another plan, I have two plans, I’ll explain later, just trust me, please, please, puhleeeze.”

Until I wanted to smack him and holler, “Get a grip, Mitt!” and send him to his room. I mean, wide-eyed enthusiasm is one thing, but the quivering near hysteria of a hyper-ventilating salesman desperate to close is quite another. Plus, I couldn’t help thinking, Jeeze, I don’t want that twitchy guy on the other end of a red phone at 3 a.m.

But the biggest Meh of all in this election is the utter refusal of all parties to address The Rest of The Story.  President Obama hasn’t “fixed the economy” for two critical reasons.  First, nobody could fix this mess in four years.  Boom and bust cycles have their own time tables and this one is particularly complicated.  Claiming otherwise is simply dishonest. And two, everybody keeps ignoring the one huge elephant in the room: a Republican Congress whose leaders had one – and only one– priority: Making sure this president would be a one term president.  Period.  That was it, from day one.  The result is we ended up with a Congress bent on knee-capping and monkey-wrenching, not repairing and rebuilding.   

Like all presidential debates, this one was filled with spin, fudged numbers and worse -- Big Lies.  That’s been a particular problem because we now live in Republican strategist Karl Rove’s World, where nothing is true, reality is simply what you say it is, and arithmetic is obsolete.  It’s all New Math now, baby.

Which makes it nearly impossible for a democracy to govern itself.  How can it when all information is politicized and branded as false, facts become fungible and Edward R. Murrow’s “credibility” is now an irrelevant anachronism. 

Wednesday night’s debate was a perfect example.  Both candidates came in for plenty of fact-checking smacks.  But what the hell was Romney doing dragging in the old infamous fake $700 million “cut” from Medicare story?  That lie had been killed off, debunked, ‘splained repeatedly, loudly, in public, yet there Romney was, shamelessly dragging it on stage like a dead zombie.  Or, worse yet, conjuring up the ghost of Sarah Palin’s destructively false “death panels” and “government takeover of health care.” Romney knows those fake talking-points are lies that have but one purpose:  to deceive rather than to illuminate. But he was willing to present them as fact to an audience he believes to be idiots.  

Or consider the poor voter having to try to deal with a candidate that believes in Policy as Vapor.  Debate night we in the TV audience were astonished to learn that Romney now has a “new” budget plan, the details of which are totally unknown because it’s, like, all new, with details to be added later. (Another plan?  Is Romney a Fuller Brush salesman with a suitcase full of little vegetable brushes, each one a different color? You don’t like blue?  Oh, well, here’s a purple one?) Shape shifting vague makes dishonest campaigning easy but it doesn’t work well if you’re a voter trying to decide which candidate’s stated policies you want to vote for.   

And that’s because the devil’s always in the details.  Which is where the real problems facing the American people lie and why this election is being touted as the struggle for the soul of America. 

There are two forces at work now: 1% Corporate America and 47% Useless Mooching Public America.  The vested interests of both do not necessarily coincide.  Indeed, there is more than ample evidence that the interests of one too often bring great harm to the interests of the other.  Bain Capital comes to mind.  So does Wall Street. The Koch Brothers.  Outsourced Jobs.  Tax breaks for the rich.  All great for Corporate America, not so good for Main Street. The Koch Brothers have their Congressmen in place to guard their interests.  But who is there to guard and defend the interests of We the People, you know, the Useless Mooching 47%?    

As it stand now, what we’ve created is a world of Karl Rovian fakery, dishonest math, shape-shifting policies, etch-a-sketch personalities, erasable histories, fantasy realities, ridiculous apocalyptic thunderations, missing time-lines, poisonous partisanship, predatory corporations and a total lack of common sense. Not to mention a Republican party that sadly sold its soul to a guy named Grover Norquist, a congress filled with corporate hacks (and genuinely science-challenged ignoramuses), and a population too willing to believe in fairy stories that always end with free candy raining down from the sky on all the good children.

And now a candidate who promises to fix the budget by killing off Big Bird. 

Which is why my Great Debate tee shirt says it all and says it best:  Meh.    



Anonymous said...


Anne R. Allen said...

I want me one of those Tee-shirts. I have a good friend who wanted to cancel a long-standing Wednesday meeting so "we can all see the debate". Luckily, most of us shared my lack of interest in one more piece of political theater. Now that we have "all-elections/all-the-time" and campaigns are nothing but sound bites and zingers purchased by the competing corporations on each side, it all seems like a complete waste of time. If the amount of money spent on political campaigning had been spent paying off the national debt, we wouldn't have to be teaching our kids Mandarin. And the lives of countless innocent televisions would have been saved from flying projectiles thrown at toxic campaign advertisements. :-)

Sandra Gore said...

I was sadly reminded of first time I saw Obama when debated the original Dem candidates in 2008. You got to go for the jugular and that's just not him. I saw the anger seething though. He couldn't look at Romney. Sigh, so much cud have been said and so little was. Frightening always when reminded that the future of mankind rests in the hands of - well, men.(and I don't mean in the gender way - just the species full of flaws.

Churadogs said...

I think lying comes hard to Obama. He's a professor and a'splainer and when he has to spin or fudge or over simplify, he mumbles and mucks it up with 'splaining, which makes him long winded and mungling. Romney, on the other hand, just bullshits flat out. Need a lie made up on the spot, out of whole cloth, pulled out of his ass? He's your boy. Comes naturally to him. And if you stick around a couple of minutes he'll change the bullshit without blinking and if you call him on it, he'll look at you and say, "Whaat?? I ALWAYS NEVER DIDN'T say that other thing that I never always didn't say five minutes ago."

TCG said...

So, let me see if I have this right. At the debate, The President keeps stating that Gov Romney's tax plan will cause a $5 Million funding deficit due to a reduction in tax revenue generated from families (and businesses)making over $250K, based on the assumption that there will be no offsetting benefit from reduced deductions most often used by higher earners.

Governor Romney explains several times why that isn't the case. The President attacks the Governor for not specifying which deductions would be eliminated. The Governor responds that the policy is what is important at the Presidential level, and it is up to Congress to mutually hash out the details. (At least Congress wouldn't have to "pass the legislation first to find out what is in it," a la the Obamacare bill).

The President states that an independent fact check agency agreees with him. The next day, that agency admits that they took another look at the issue and the Governor would be able to implement that plan without a revenue loss.

Following the debate, the Team Obama spin blast is that the Governor is a LIAR over this issue. S. Cutter, a top Obama aide, goes on CNN and repeats this. The liberal CNN admirably challanges her with the current data, with which even they comcur, and Cutter finally admits that the Obama line is incorrect, yet the campaign continues to refer to him as a LIAR.

I don't believe that there is anything that the President and his canpaigners wouldn't say or do to get him re-elected--even attempt to orchestrate a massive cover-up of the reasons for the needless death of 4 Americans in Libya,

Not only do I believe that Governor Romney's policies have a far better chance of succeeding than President Obama's, I would trust him far more than Mr. Obama.

Prety much all the rest is noise at this point. Thanks for the forum.

TCG said...

Sorry--$5 Trillion deficit, not $5 Million, in my above post. Hard to comprehend those amounts.

Anonymous said...

FINALLY....some sanity at last....... TCG does not post hogwash.

Churadogs said...

TCG and Aonymous should both read the latest Time magazine cover story.

TCG: I found it instructive to watch Saturday's UP wherein Chris Hayes pointed out, correctly, that before anybody trusts what a Republican candidate says about taxes and tax reform, they need to look at the actual record of what real republicans actually have crafted over the last twenty-plus years. Their rhetoric and core philosophy consistently says one thing, while the actual laws they wrote and passed were completely the opposite and, interestingly, had some profoundly pernicious impacts on our economy. Since we live in the real world, I'll stick with the old adage, past behavior is a predictor of future behavior. Romney talks a good game, his schemes may actually have some merit, but please tell me one Congressman or Senator (in the real world) who would actually vote to eliminate the mortgage deduction, for example. (Or most of the "loopholes" he keeps talking about) Seriously. One senator.

So, you can trust Romney all you want, but Romney (or Obama) are not kings. Presidents propose, Congress disposes. I'll stick with the Republican record as it has consistently been for over 20 years.

TCG said...

Agreed, fine ideas and obviously needed reforms (fixing Social Security, for example) can be shot down flatly, or avoided altogether, by Congress (both sides)in the name of re-election posturing. The TEA Party spent some time in 2010 trying to keep some Senators and Representatives honest in that regard.

I was dissappointed in President Obama's effort to craft a comprehensive budget plan once the Simpson-Bowles group presented him with something to start with. For various reasons he couldn't / wouldn't get the parties together on something big, and followed that up in a time of growing Federal deficits with a new annual budget proposal that no one on either side could get behind.

As Bill Clinton showed, it's probably better to actually have ideas that won't fly going into the office, yet have the sense, ability and political survival skills to work both sides to actually get something constructive done. I don't believe that particular ability is in the President's DNA, nor is he so inclined, and I believe we need to go in another direction. Plus, I like to at least think that I can trust the President.

Churadogs said...

TCG: I would argue that Clinton did not face the same type of Republican Party that Obama faces. Newtie was interested in actually governing and doing deals (and advancing his own interests and ambition). (Yes, he gambled and lost when he shut the government down, but that backlash woke him up. I would argue that if voters boot out the crazies in Nov, that may wake up this Republican party) The Republicans as they are now constituted are not interested in governing, they are interested in winning at all costs and regaining both houses by any means necessary. They are also lock-step sworn to Norquist (right there that makes them unfit to govern) and committed to seeing Obama fail and if that means taking America over a cliff to make that happen, they'll do it. (More unfitness to govern.) Until Americans wake up and toss these unfit fanatics out of office and put people back in who actually want to govern, who want to help the country in general (not just toss a president out the door) then this poisonous partisanship will just get worse and worse. It's all up to the voters to clean up/clean out the House and Senate. Maybe sanity will prevail.

And do I also need to add, the voters themselves also need to grow up, put on their big boy panties, and get real about how complex and how difficult it's going to be to deal with what's facing us? That sound bites do not a policy make?

As for trusting the president, I would again suggest that past behavior is a great predictor of future behavior and Romney's flip-flopping does not bode well. Obama, when he ran, promised health care, promised to get Osama, promised to wind down Afghanistan war, promised to reform Wall St (Dodd Frank) etc.etc. most of which were accomplished against great odds. So, I'm gonna presume that he'll get back to try to finish up the other stuff he promised (balanced budget, fix Medicare, etc.) but I will hope he'll have a saner Congress/Senate on his hands. Maybe then he'll be able to fulfill his promise of working in a bipartisan fashion. Well, we'll see.