They aren’t connected, you know, except that I have three observations of an electional nature, and those are them. Or, rather, them are these.
Happy Halloween! Three tales of misery and the magi nation.
I guess I’m astonished that the “closing argument” in election races panning the breadth and width of this great land is, from the Republicans. Here in Oregon, Gordon Smith (alternately, either the “Pea Pickin’ Polluter from Pendleton,” or, “Who knew that Gordo was a Moderate Democrat? WHO KNEW?”) is fighting to hold on to his Senate seat. From PolitickerOR:
New NRSC ad against Merkley warns of one-party rule
By Britten Chase, PolitickerOR.com Reporter
October 28, 2008 – 12:12pmThe National Republican Senatorial Committee released a new television ad Tuesday warning Oregonians that electing Jeff Merkley (D-Portland) to the U.S. Senate would bring Washington, D.C. dangerously close to one-party rule.
“History has taught us that one-party rule in Washington just doesn’t work,” the ad says. “Oregon needs an independent voice in the U.S. Senate and that’s not Jeff Merkley.”
That’s interesting. That’s the same pitch they’re making for Elizabeth Dole down in North Carolina:
GOP Candidates Warn Voters About Perils of One-Party Rule
By Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 26, 2008; Page A11
… In their eleventh-hour appeals for ticket-splitting, Republicans on the campaign trail are warning of Democratic overreach.
“If I lose this seat and one party has control across the board, then you’ll see changes,” Sen. Norm Coleman told voters last week in Minnesota, where he is trailing comedian-turned-politician Al Franken (D) in several polls. In North Carolina, imperiled Sen. Elizabeth Dole warns in a new television spot that Democrats will “get a blank check” if challenger Kay Hagan wins….
Um, er. If you’re saying that one-party rule is horrible, dangerous, scary and awful, weren’t YOU in the ecstatic throes of one-party rule three years ago? So, aren’t you saying how AWFUL and SCARY you were?
And therefore we are supposed to vote for you, to keep it from happening again?
I guess I’m supposed to believe that Barack Obama is going to get up in the middle of the night and fly to Washington to sign a bill to keep Terri Schiavo on life support?
If I vote for you, I am ensuring that what you were doing in the government three years ago won’t ever happen again?
How about if I just vote to kick you the hell out of office? Won’t that guarantee that what you pulled three years ago that’s so “scary” and “awful” and “blank checky” doesn’t ever come from YOUR votes? Isn’t kicking your sorry ass out on the streets the BEST way to ensure that what happened when you had “one-party rule” doesn’t happen again?
Hey, if the Democrats screw up, I’ll work to kick their sorry asses out onto the street too.
But aren’t you really asking me to vote for you to prevent what happened while you were in office from happening again? Your screwups are supposed to QUALIFY for another senate term?
Are you freaking kidding me?
ii. Of Asimov, Robots, and Michael Goldfarb’s CNN Meltdown.
In science fiction, the Three Laws of Robotics are a set of three rules written by Isaac Asimov, which almost all positronic robots appearing in his fiction must obey. Introduced in his 1942 short story “Runaround”, although foreshadowed in a few earlier stories, the Laws state the following:
- A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first passage in Asimov’s short story “Liar!” (1941) that mentions the First Law is the earliest recorded use of the word robotics.
And, as I watched Michael Goldfarb’s mugging, smirking meltdown on CNN yesterday, I couldn’t help but remember Asimov’s robot stories, always about some conflict of the Three Laws causing some robot to snap:
The problem with the robot is that two laws of sleaze-robotics are in conflict:
1. The sleaze-bot must not allow his master to come to harm, through action or inaction
2. A sleaze-bot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
So, having put forward the (approved) meme that the sleaze-bot has been given to spread — that Barack Obama pals around with “anti-semites” (plural) — he is challenged to name someone that would add the “S” to “anti-semite” (a very ugly charge in American politics, it must be noted).
The sleaze-bot finds his mission (to spread the meme) in conflict with his clear Prime Directive: “Thou Shalt Not Name Reverend Wright (an equally sleazy charge, BTW), and the positronic sleaze-bot goes into lockup as it attempts to resolve the conflict in its positronic brain.
Law # 2 says follow orders and push the “anti-semitic” meme. But
Law # 1 says “Do not mention Rev. Wright, because it will hurt your candidate.”
The sleaze-bot’s mind races furiously. For long nanoseconds, it locks up completely.
And the sleaze-bot falls into the waste-oil tank.
Watch it again. You can almost see the cortical convolutions writhing inside the skull. (I’m not the only one noticing the conflict of the sleaze-bot’s positronic brain. I’m just the only one currently using THIS cybernetic metaphor.)
Conflict between orders. Must … kill … Frank Poole. Can not jeopardize mission.
And, finally, HAL 9000 answers, “I think you know who we’re talking about.”
When asked again, the sleaze-bot is uncomfortble, but the conflict in sleaze-robotic laws has been resolved when he says, “NO.” in response to a clear request for an answer.
Short circuits can be such schadenfreudey fun, don’t cha think?
iii. The Horror
It is reprehensible that I should even consider this as a possibility, but we live in a reprehensible moment of history, and past experience tells us that some “fright night” stunt may well be played out in the few remaining hours before the election.
If — as one suspects — this is a stunt, Saturday is the danger day.
What it will be, no one knows: An upping of the “Terror Alert,” as was used during the 2004 Bush v. Kerry campaign? Will it be strategized by the same maelevolent mind that calculated to use the Sarah Palin “rabbit out of the hat” pick to trump Barack Obama’s amazing acceptance speech at (new) Mile High Stadium in Denver the night before? Uh, duh.
It could be a “bin Laden” tape. Ditto.
Or, it could be a “terrorist” event. Perhaps created, perhaps a real event — if only because those we are at war with have a vested interest in a stoopid outcome, same as … well, I think YOU know who I’m talking about.
In any event, Saturday is the danger day, because it’s the one day that all the weekday news people are off, and Monday’s news cycle is probably impervious to anybody’s domination.
Friday is too early, Sunday is too late to really whip up a good conflagration, and Monday is probably impervious. You can’t launch a last-minute smear on Monday before a Tuesday election. It won’t really “peak” until Wednesday. Saturday is the manipulation timing day.
Saturday is the day when you can murk the waters and they won’t clear until after the election … on Wednesday or Thursday AFTER the event, or, even better (for the manipulators), as with the poor Pentagon after 9-11, the story will just vanish down the memory hole as everyone in media obsesses about New York, where most media live.
Which gives a clue as to where the stunt needs to take place for maximum exposure and “shock and awe” value. Because, make no mistake, even acts of terrorism are stunts — more valuable for their ability to generate mindless fear and terror, disrupting the lives and rhythms of people who have no stake whatsoever in the actual event. Most of those affected will not be personally affected, nor will their friends or anybody they know.
Which is why they call it “terrorism.”
I wish that I did not have to speculate down this dark “worst-case” scenario, but past experience, these horrific eight years, suggests that the use of fear and terror by both the “good guys” and the “bad guys” has been the norm and not the exception, and it is sad that both would have a vested interest in someone as excitable and prone to not-very-well-thought-out reactions to crises. The Bushies need McCain to hold the White House or else they may very well ALL go to prison.
Only a whitewash in the White House will serve them.
The terrorists need someone as easily gamed and reliably angry as John McCain in the White House. Our response to the first 9-11 succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, but we aided and abetted them, or else it would have been a grave national tragedy and we would have moved on to find the criminals using law enforcement and not into “wars of aggression” (as defined by the Nuremberg Trials) that are bankrupting us.
Sean Hannity has Pat Caddell and Ann Coulter on as I write this. The whole thrust is “Obama is going to bring back the ‘Fairness Doctrine’ which that Constitutional Scholar Coulter squeals “only applies to talk radio,” after saying that it doesn’t apply to newspapers or Hollywood movies.
Caddell makes the insane looking-glass argument that when the “main stream media” start telling you how to vote, and controlling news, it’s a grave danger to democracy.
Never noticing that he’s just described the Right Wing press and talk radiosphere. (Note: imperfect as the MSM may be, they at least make an attempt to be fair and balanced, whereas those who trademark said phrase never do, in good Orwellian NewSpeak [emphasis added]:
The adjective “Orwellian” denotes many things. It can refer to totalitarian action or organization as well as governmental attempts to control or misuse information for the purposes of controlling, pacifying or even subjugating the population. “Orwellian” can also refer to governmental propagandizing by the misnaming of things; hence the “Ministry of Peace” in the novel actually deals with war and the “Ministry of Love” actually tortures people.
In the way that far Rightie and former GOP presidential candidate Gary Bauer is running a 527 to enhance the union-busting that’s running under the radar in this election called “Campaign for Working Families.”
A Saturday event gives the Rightie talk radio virtual monopoly all day Monday to define any horrific event to their advantage while the mainstream media (that they tell you NOT to listen to) dither and bloviate.
(By the by, they “don’t believe” the polls. This is very creepy in that Orwellian sense. Right now, unctuous quisling guru Dick Morris is authoritatively stating, “I think this election is MUCH closer than the polls say.” Yeah. They’ve been pushing that meme all day on Rightie radio — I’m listening to O’Reilly now. Providing cover for a huge attempt to steal the election, as in 2000 and 2008? Only a landslide can beat that. Ahh, Morris is now claiming that a Republican 527 raised $5 million last weekend and is going with a huge ad blitz all weekend. Morris says he’d go “all Reverend Wright all the time.” And then decries the “hate” that’s out there — implicitly on the “left” — and how awful it is. Isn’t going All Wright Day and Night um, er, roiling the hate waters?)
[* Wingnut alert 3:35 PM PDT: Bill O’Reilly is claiming “I broke the Wright story. I broke it wide open.” Bull. Brian Ross and his “burka babes” broke the story, as chronicled right here, in “ABC = KKK?” on April 26 and “Walpurgisnacht: How Dumb Are The Democrats?” on April 30th. Oh, now he’s claiming it again at 3:51 PM. Delusional.]
Just by the by, when we say we are spending $N billion dollars per X time period on the War(s), no one seems to notice that it’s just like the space program.
People used to complain that we were shooting all that money into space.
Finally, in exasperation, I would simply answer the question by pulling out a quarter and handing it to the person.
“Here,” I would say. “Spend this ANYWHERE in space.”
Every cent that went into the space program went into paychecks here on Earth and INSIDE of the United States. Not a dime ever went into space, except for Gus Grissom’s, and he lost them with Liberty Bell 7, when it sunk. So, even those dimes were lost in the ocean, not in space.
You see, everything on Earth is free. Timber, metals, petroleum-based plastics, you name it. What money represents is somebody’s skill and effort in transforming that free stuff into your I-pod and getting to a store where you can buy it. It’s very complex, but the raw materials were literally free.
So we shot some free stuff we found lying around into space. But all the money got spent down here.
In the exact same way, almost all the money spent on the War (Iraq and Afghanistan) gets spent right here in the good ol’ USA. Soldier’s wages, contractors’ fees, supplies, etcetera.
Oh, sure, in this case, some money goes for, say, bribes, and some local purchasing and contracting, but the vast majority of all the money spent came right back to the USA. And THOSE dependent on that money flow have a vested interest in the money stream flowing from this war.
I have a feeling that future historians will look at the Bush Years as one of the most corrupt, treasury-looting periods of sheer kleptocracy in the history of the world. By comparison, the stereotype of the Banana Republic with a culture of bribery pales in comparison … and Palin comparison.
So, if any of the angry parties that want John McCain elected are going to do something, it’ll be Saturday.
And has anybody noticed that “Joe the Plumber” is actually an angry, far-Right skinhead? Not an actual skinhead (although he has belonged to political parties that find the GOP too left-leaning), of course, but certainly the IMAGE of a skinhead?
The neo-nazi and racist images of skinheads are etched into our cerebral cortices, and the message to the reptile brain of this angry, hyper-conservative skinhead speaks a meta-message that is every bit as blatant as every other “coded” message from the Old South/New “Republican” soufflé of exclusionism. Look: people are picked for “types.” The kid in the baseball cap was always the one the news picked to film looking through the telescope lens, until it became the little girl in the track suit. We expect doctors to look like doctors and lawyers to look like lawyers. And Joe Wurtzelbacher looks like a biker.
The McCain campaign has been obsessed with arrogating this “I’m the most macho!” Dominant Ape BS. Why do you think Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Ohio with McCain today? Why did Mike Huckaby have Chuckles “I can’t outact drying concrete” Norris behind him at ever speech?
But the fact that Joe the Mendacifier looks the way he does was carefully chosen BEFORE the third debate. And, to the bikers and the skinheads the message gets through just fine, thank you.
As Frank Rich noticed on Keith Olbermann the other night: isn’t there something WEIRD about the fact that the GOP is, for all practical intents and purposes, a lily-white party? Just look at their rallies. All white faces. All white audiences.
The “code” stuff is running at a fever pitch, and throwing every “acceptable” prejudice and bias into the mix only ups the screaming silence of a million “N-words” thought but unshouted.
And nobody noticed that “Joe the Plumber” looks like a threatening, hulking skinhead? Uh, duh.
Certainly if they WANTED to avoid that appearance, they’d have found another bulls**t spokesmodel. One has to presume that the look of “Joe” is entirely and precisely the “look” that they intended.
And yesterday, John McCain called his evil homunculus “my hero.” THAT’s creepy.
Beware of Saturday. That’s the day that the danger lies in wait for.
Oh, and just in case you’re not scared enough, here’s something to send a chill down your spine: Sarah “Diva” Palin has not a clue as to how the First Amendment works. Seriously. Glenn Greenwald has the spookiest Halloween story of all at Salon: “Sarah Palin speaks on the First Amendment ”
And that’s my spooky Halloween story.