Sunday, September 30, 2012

"...Not Necessarily An Actual Alternative...But An Incredible Likeness..."

There's, like, a very, like, important issue, like, at play in, like, the current presidential, like, campaign.

It, like, goes like this.

Name your favorite flavor of ice cream.

Let's say, for the sake of discussion, that your answer is vanilla.

Now, I'm going to ask you why you like vanilla more than any other flavor.

I can't begin to imagine, obviously, what you will say.

But I can predict, with dazzling accuracy, what you will not say.

You will not say it's because you don't like chocolate.

That response would, also obviously, seem silly, even a little stupid, to the both of us.

This flavor fracas forumulated in my frontal lobes the other day as I saw yet another of my Facebook friends/peers/co-horts and/or co-conspirators indicate, with the applicable click of the applicable button. that they "like" Mitt Romney.

Bringing the total of those who, in that context at least, "like" Mitt Romney to a pretty, like, healthy number.

Not being a professional pollster, I couldn't begin to tell you what John or Mary Q. Public are thinking as they determine who they like, why they like or what makes them like whatever it is that they, like, like..

And Joe The Plumber is obviously sitting this year's ballot battle out, so no insight to be found there.

Some of the aformentioned Facebook family, though, are people that I actually know, people that I consider friends, peers, co-horts and/or co-conspirators.

So, there's a case to be made that I might have a reasonably acceptable perspective on where they're coming from in the whole, like, process of liking.

And, in more than just a couple of cases, knowing those particular cases the way I do, I'm willing to predict, with more of that never ending supply of dazzling accuracy, exactly why they like Romney.

Because they don't like Obama.

Despite the admittedly deserved perception that I very much enjoy the sound of my own voice and the rhythm of my own rhetoric, I really do spend a lot of time reading, pondering, studying and, yes, naysayers, listening to what people have to say, what people are thinking, what people are, like, liking.

Frankly, I'd offer that any good writer couldn't be a good writer unless they had a capacity for hearing what's going on around them, given that without that input, their river of material would dry up pretty damn quick.

But, that's a position for another paper.

Can't, and won't speak, for you.

But here's what I'm hearing.

A lot of people who say they like Mitt Romney.

But almost nothing in terms of what they like about him.

Or what they like about, like, what they expect him to do when, and if, elected.

Or, like, what they see as the fundamental, and critically important, differences between what he will bring to that table in the Cabinet Room as opposed to that brought by Obama.

And, like, just for the record, although it's, like, frankly a little wearying to always have to throw in the obligatory disclaimer, here's, like, the obligatory disclaimer.

This piece is not an obvious, nor veiled, thinly or other wise, endorsement of Barack Obama for a second term.

That said, I will say this.

It seems a little silly and stupid that it would seem a little silly and stupid to choose vanilla over chocolate simply because one didn't like chocolate and yet it doesn't seem at all silly or stupid to choose Romney over Obama simply because one doesn't like Obama.

In the course of the aforementioned reading, pondering, studying and, yes, naysayers, listening to what my Facebook friends, family, peers, co-horts and/or co-conspirators are offering up in the way of a rationale for liking Romney, I have yet to read/see or hear a detailed articulation of why they do, in fact, like him, beyond, of course,  the rationale that he, if nothing else, isn't Obama.

Maybe it's just me, but I think "if nothing else" is a pretty weak foundation on which to build a choice for President of The United States.

Meanwhile, I really would welcome, and assuredly praise, any detailed articulation any of my friends, family, peers, etc, would care to pony up.

Working without that, for the time being, I can only fall back to what seems to be the only conclusion my friends, family, peers, co-horts and/or co-conspirators are making available at, like, this time.

With Romney, you're not sure what or when or how or how much or, even if.

With Obama, you pretty much know what.

Like it...

...or not.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

"...And Now, The Vogues And Their Great Campaign Song, 'Turn Around, Look At Me'..."

Political consultant Alex Castellanos understands rock and roll.

Mitt Romney does not.

Pudding full of proof momentarily.

(Alex Castellanos for CNN) -- If I named the conservatives who've done the most for freedom and the conservative cause in my lifetime, I'd include William F. Buckley, Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh, and not necessarily in that order.

I'm not sure Rush has ever run a political campaign, but he's a hell of a radio host. The man has enthralled 20 million listeners three hours a day, nonstop, without guests for nearly 30 years.
Reliably, I'm one of them.
Turning afternoon soliloquies into a national institution for more than three decades cannot be easy.
No one has duplicated it. His unique work requires a prodigious brain and a matching ego. Rush is not particularly fond of any idea that isn't his; when he was growing up, I suspect he was not allowed to play with other kids.
A few days ago, on his radio show, Limbaugh took exception to a suggestion I made on CNN that Mitt Romney add a little variety to his political campaign.
Right now, to these experienced old eyes, Team Romney appears to be doing the same political event over and over again. They ride the same bus, show up at the same political rally, deliver the same message to an identical looking crowd, at an indistinguishable venue. As a result, we are force-fed the same cookie-cutter campaign on TV news.
It has become a snoozer.
Rush took a little license in interpreting my remarks, saying, "Alex Castellanos -- our good buddy, the Republican strategist on CNN -- is upset at these big crowds. He wishes Romney would make the crowds smaller. I'm not kidding. I'm not kidding you. Not kidding you. Well, he says it doesn't look presidential."
What I actually said was the following:
"Every time I turn on my TV, it's the same political rally with Paul Ryan and the same crowd around him, state after state after state, and it looks like a political beauty pageant. And it looks like politics, not like governing. You don't want to run for president looking like a candidate. You want to run for president looking like a president. Go to where the problem is, Mitt Romney, go to an inner city and find out what's happened to the American family that's falling apart. Go where the problem is, go to an unemployment line, talk to some people."
It looks like a political beauty pageant. And it looks like politics, not like governing.
That is not exactly urging smaller crowds -- and it was not a suggestion made by someone who has never run a political campaign.
So how is the endless parade of rallies working for Romney-Ryan? In the swing states Team Romney is executing these displays, he is further behind than the rest of the nation. Nationally, where Romney is not campaigning via an interminable series of rallies, Rasmussen daily tracking has the race tied.
This would recommend that Romney have more rallies in Alaska and fewer in Ohio, where the CNN poll of polls puts Romney at 7 points down, requiring him to gain a few votes to win.
Apparently there is also a Rush radio listener named Rick Wilson who feigns expertise in these matters and also prefers that Romney maintain his same rally-round-the-clock approach. Wilson admonished my "astonishingly dumb" idea, explaining, "The people who show up to those events are committed. They're believers."
Well let me slap myself on the forehead. Why did that not occur to me? That's exactly right, Romney is talking to believers -- which is one reason I would urge Team Romney to add a little variety to their menu.
If they are believers, that could mean Romney already has their votes. It's called preaching to the choir. And such rallies make for relentlessly boring television for the persuadable voters watching the news who chose not to attend.
Over the years, I've seen lots of candidates get trapped in a loop, campaigning to their own supporters. A procession of love fests makes the candidate happy, which makes the campaign staff happy. Rallies, as organizational events that motivate your troops and display their whooping support, are often wonderful campaign tools. But is that the only news-making activity we can recommend?

This unusual year, Republican voters are already intensely motivated to get out to vote by a fellow named Barack Obama. GOP intensity is at record levels.
Constructing the same redundant rally to motivate people who are already motivated is trying to set fire to a fire. Perhaps we could conceive a better use of the candidate's valuable time, like trying to get votes he does not have?
If Romney's rallies were expanding his support, like Obama's coliseum-fillers four years ago, keep doing them! When you are behind in Ohio, however, it might help to stop throwing the same pitch to the batters every inning. Throw a change-up.
By the way, whom do people hate these days with a revulsion beyond that earned by pedophiles and car salesmen? I'll suggest the answer: Politicians. Politicians who look like politicians, politicians who politic, politicians who hold rallies.
I do not expect to win the Nobel Prize for this, as our president did for even less, but here is an insight I've gleaned from years of campaign analysis and decades of experience: Political rallies are political.
And the recommendation we would make to Mitt Romney now is to look more like a politician?
In these last few weeks before Election Day, both campaigns will increase their ad spending. Their TV commercials will flood the airwaves. Political ads will become wallpaper, an endless series of Obama and Romney spots, interrupted by the occasional program. Imagining and creating news events will become more important than TV ads.
With six weeks to go, our audience is at home, in their seats, absorbing the news, munching popcorn, watching the gladiators. One great moment, like Reagan's "I paid for this microphone, Mr. Green," can elevate a campaign and change the world.
My advice to the Romney campaign remains this: Create those great moments.
Get serious. Get presidential. Elevate our great problems and demonstrate your solutions in front of us. Firemen go where the fire is. So do leaders. On this, Rush Limbaugh and I may agree.
In the same program, Rush suggested, "By the way, if Romney is to go where all the problems are, he's got to go to every Democrat congressional office. You want to go find out where there's unemployment, go find a Democrat. If you want to find out where the inner city is crumbling, go find a Democrat or go talk to Al Sharpton. America falling apart, unemployment line? Go to the White House."
Yes! Exactly. Which is why, for months, I have publicly urged team Romney to go to Washington and campaign in the belly of the beast. Go to the center of Barack Obama's government-centered society. Tear down the columns in government's temples.
Let Washington know that the next president of the United States is going to stop growing Washington's economy and grow America's economy. Let Washington know you are going to sell every other government building and replace them with three good websites. Let Washington know Kinko's better get some new copying machines because they will soon be printing a lot of old bureaucrats' resumes.
Let Washington know you are going to cut taxes and spending and take money out of its pocket, and put those dollars in the pockets of the American people, where they work, where they live, where they shop, where they invest, so we can grow this great economy bottom-up, naturally and organically, not top down, politically and artificially from Washington.
Let Washington know that the seeds of growth cannot flourish in the barren concrete of our capital.
Only debt and inefficiency grow there. Tell them Mitt Romney is going to plant those seeds in the fertile soil of the American economy so we can renew the greatest economy in the world.
If Team Romney does, they will not only make news and drive social media in Ohio, as they might with a local rally, but they'll also make news in Ohio, plus every other swing state.
Our greatest American playwright, David Mamet, understands a little bit about storytelling. In his book, "The Three Uses of the Knife," he notes this: "The power of the dramatist, and of the political flack therefore, resides in the ability to state the problem."
Sometimes the best way to get a job is to start doing the job, not campaign for it. Two suggestions for Mitt Romney: Go where the problem is ... and kick the problem's butt. And every day, listen to an hour of Rush. It's good for what ails your campaign.
A few television seasons back, I observed that, judging from their performances, it seemed like that year's crop of American Idol contestants seemed to have one somewhat disconcerting quality in common.
It appeared as, opposed to actually winning the thing, their primary goal had been to, simply, get on the show in the first place.
I was reminded of that reading Castellanos' observations of the Romney campaign.
Being neither a professional political operative nor qualified expert, per se, in the campaign arts, I can only offer a layman's take on Alex's P.O.V.
And whoever is running Mitt's campaign is clearly missing the lesson easily learned at any decent sized rock concert.
When the band on stage is so enamored of itself that it starts playing to each other, it's only a mere matter of moments before the audience begins the process of seeking out someone who will play to them.
Hey, Mitt! We're out here.
And if you guys don't turn around and enthrall us pretty soon, we're going shopping.
We hear tell of a group down the street fronted by a guy named Barack.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

"...L Is For The Love They Rain On Me....O Is For The Oh My God, Shut The Hell Up And Let Me Make Up My Own Mind, Why Don't Ya?..."

Amidst the cacophany of smacking and smooching described below, there was, in the coverage of the conventions, another slight, but still perceptible, noise.

More on that in a minute.

NEW YORK (AP) — A trend toward gushing about rather than analyzing political speeches was apparent during television coverage of the conventions even before CNN's Piers Morgan compared Bill Clinton to Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King Jr.
Perhaps fueled by a pressure to stand out and a more partisan media, analysts frequently seemed star-struck by speakers and slipped into blurb-happy evaluations of the news in front of them.
Morgan took to Twitter before former President Clinton's speech nominating President Barack Obama for a second term was even halfway through.

"Already the best speech of either convention," the prime-time talk show host tweeted. "An oratorical genius right up there with Churchill, Kennedy, MLK and Mandela."

He was hardly alone. "I'm giddy," MSNBC's Ed Schultz declared after Clinton's speech. The former president "never ceases to amaze," said CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "Just an amazing speech," said CBS' Bob Schieffer. He was "filled with vitality," ABC's Diane Sawyer said. "An amazing performance," evaluated MSNBC's Steve Schmidt. It's probably the moment that re-elected Obama, raved CNN's Alex Castellanos.

And the latter two are moonlighting Republican operatives.

Clinton got the superlatives flowing faster than anyone, but first lady Michelle Obama and potential first lady Ann Romney also had their share of bubbly evaluations.

Michelle Obama's speech was "probably a grand slam," Blitzer said. Schultz dubbed her a star. Fox News Channel's Steve Doocy called Romney's address "absolutely electrifying." MSNBC's Chris Matthews raved about San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro making one of the best speeches he'd ever heard.

By the morning after Michelle Obama's speech, CNN was asking its audience to answer an instant poll question: "Should Michelle Obama run for office?"

There were attention-getting pans, too. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's address to Republicans was nicknamed a "me-note" instead of a keynote address. Fox's Charles Krauthammer said Clinton's speech was a "giant swing and a miss" and Barack Obama's acceptance speech "one of the emptiest speeches I have ever heard on a national stage."

"What you're seeing is a much greater emphasis on what the political pros call optics," said Bill Wheatley, a former top executive at NBC News who now teaches at Columbia University. "There's an increasing amount of theater criticism, if you will. There's often more being said about how things look compared to how things are."

Conventions in general are pep rallies, and this year more than ever Democrats and Republicans are intent upon firing up their supporters to get out and vote.

Networks and TV personalities that appeal to partisans — MSNBC on the left and Fox News on the right — increase the likelihood of cheerleading. Only four years ago MSNBC displaced Keith Olbermann from political night coverage in favor of more dispassionate anchors. Now their opinion hosts hold sway. The network's ratings for the Democratic convention were up sharply and Fox led every network for the GOP gathering.

"I don't think the coverage overall deserves too much criticism," said longtime CBS anchor and current AXS-TV host Dan Rather. "But if there is any criticism — and I don't exempt myself at all from this — is that there is not enough analysis and way too much commentary."

Rather sheepishly admitted to tweeting that Clinton had hit "a home run" in his convention speech.

Here's where pressure to keep active on social media may hurt television coverage, he said. People tweeting during a speech have less time to absorb what is being said and are less likely to work with researchers and fact-checkers to see if what comes from the podium is accurate.

"It takes a lot of guts to do that and you've got to be organized to do it," he said. "While there is some of it on television, in my humble opinion there isn't nearly enough."

Since two networks, MSNBC and Current, continually flashed Twitter messages from media personalities and others on their TV screens during the conventions, it will only tempt people to do more.

Networks used to have plenty of reporters roaming convention floors searching for news. Since there isn't much news for them to find anymore, the emphasis has shifted to commentary. The set on CNN often seems filled with people who need to make an impression quickly. Broadcast networks have fewer people on the air but less time to talk, too.

Sam Feist, CNN's Washington bureau chief, said the network has assembled a team with deep political experience and he wants to hear what they have to say.

"These are experts on politics," he said. "How they react to an event or convention speech is interesting or fascinating. I'm always interested to hear their first reaction after a speech."

Pundits found fewer reasons to gush over the president's acceptance speech on Thursday; both NBC's Chuck Todd and MSNBC's Christopher Hayes called it "workmanlike." That left more room to analyze rather than opine: NBC's Brian Williams reported on the crowd's reaction rather than his own, and Savannah Guthrie talked about the strategy behind the words.

"Most of the audience is pretty smart," Rather said. "I have a lot of confidence in the audience. They're pretty good about separating brass tacks from bull shine."

Personally, in all of that, I think Rather's observations and/or confessions to be the most telling.

Primarily because Rather is the tail end of the generation of news reporters/anchors/commentators who stayed focused on reporting and/or analysis and treated "opinion/commentary" like it was a third rail.

The generation that included Edward R. Murrow, Eric Sevareid, Harry Reasoner, David Brinkley, Chet Huntley and, of course, Walter Cronkite.

Among so many others.

And though there is, arguably, an uber thin line between "analysis" and "commentary", I would offer that the aforementioned news pioneers were totally skilled and totally adept at tiptoeing that line, seldom setting off the tripwire alarm that crossing it would have set off.

The fact that Rather, to his credit, admits that even he has gotten swept up in the current climate that has replaced analysis with adoration, is empirical proof that the wheels have pretty much come off the wagon when it comes to "reporting the news", at least, in the tried, true and traditional style.

Resulting, I suspect, in the aforementioned noise that was audible just beneath the oohs and ahhs and wowws spewing from the journalists turned junkies, the distinctive sound of, at least, the previous generation of professionally trained news reporters and anchors spinning in their graves.

A number of years back, one of the major networks conducted an experiment.

They televised a major league baseball game with absolutely no commentary whatsoever.

What you heard was only the background sounds of crowd and game that you would experience if you were actually in the ball park.

It was, as you might imagine, a little weird at first, all of us who have grown up watching baseball on TV being conditioned to the play by play and/or yada yada yammering of the infamous "color commentators".

The thing is, though, that after a while, a very short while, the lack of blah blah blah actually became pleasurable and the enjoyment, not to mention the awareness, of the game was noticably enhanced.

I don't suffer from the illusion, at any time, that there's an ice cube's chance that the TV networks, whose "stars" apparently get paid by the word uttered, would ever muzzle said mouthpieces, but I gotta tell ya, if you would like a little, hell, a whole lot less sugar with your speechifying the next time around, the antidote to all that adoration is as simple as.....




Saturday, September 8, 2012

"...Tommy, Can You Hear Me?...Oh, Wait...Sorry, I'll Check Back After November..."

Swimmer's ear.

If you've ever had it, you'd know it.

It is a very common ailment in the good ol' summertime.

Here's one you've also likely had.

But likely haven't realized.

Election ear.

It, too, is a very common ailment.

And though you might be inclined to think otherwise, it actually exhibits symptoms year round, as opposed to just seasonally.

Symptons shortly.

I've been doing my usual ravenous reading re' the rhetoric politic lately and have noticed a slight increase in the number of election ear cases.

Many of the online news sites offer up "roundtable" assessments of various and sundry landmarks we pass crusing down ballot box boulevard. Roundtable being defined as a "mixed" group of  contributors, a couple from this side, a couple from that side and a couple from the middle wherever, of course, said this side, that side and the middle happen to fall at any given time.

Despite obvious best effort to present a "balanced" look, there seems to be a pretty consistant pattern to the presentations.

And yet another affirmation that this ear issue is becoming more and more epidemic with each passing electoral cycle.

The last two weeks have been a cornucopia of dianostic opportunity.

Both major political party conventions have arrived and departed, sending their respective candidates into the masses to convince, cajole and/or otherwise conquer said masses, in hopes of acquiring the keys to a marvelous little mansion in DC just a couple blocks off Wisconsin Ave, close to schools, shopping and some silly illusion of bipartisanship up the street in that big building with the dome thingy on the top.

Meanwhile, almost to a roundtable, the roundtable "summaries" have boiled down to this.

Re' the Republican convention in Tampa:

The right wing experts praised and glorified it's whole presentation. The left wing experts gave begrudging acknowledgement to a very few things well done...and those "in the middle" guys observed that they saw and heard a whole lot of sizzle but didn't see anybody serving up anything close to a hearty steak.

Re' the Democratic convention in Charlotte:

The left wing experts praised and glorified its whole presentation. The right wing experts gave begrudging acknolwedgements to a very few things well done...and those "in the middle" guys observed that they saw and heard a whole lot of sizzle but didnt see anybody serving up anything close to a hearty steak.

And the two candidates who went into their respective conventions in a statistical dead heat came out of their respective conventions in a statistical dead heat.

As for the rest of us?

We acquired even more affection and admiration for Gabby Giffords.

And started adding "Eastwooding" to any conversation involving the wacky things that old people sometimes do.

Hey, Dems and Repubs, many millions of dollars well spent, you hear now?

Meanwhile, chances are better than good that nary a mind was changed.

Because of election ear.

Not so much a blockage of the listening canal, as much as a systemic process that filters out that which the particular patient's psyche considers threatening.

Think of it as an auditory version of antibodies in the bloodstream attacking viruses and bacterias to keep us alive.

In the Democratic ear this go round, it exhibits as an inability to even consider that Mitt Romney's experience in business might be just exactly what America needs to keep the USS U.S.A from being the subject of James Cameron's next historical disaster flick.

In the Republican ear this go round, it exhibits as a constant, perpetual, endless drone, arguably unintelligible, but purportedly proven to be heard as "anybody but Obama".

Each election year, millions, even billions, of dollars are spent on eradicating this debillitating deficiency with bumper stickers and post cards and glossy mailers and auto calls and speech after speech after speech and each election year, this debiliating deficiency defies any attempt at elimination.

In the end, the condition continues, the affliction advances and no amount of reassuring, romancing or rhetoric on the part of any partisan of any party stripe can clear the auditory canal sufficiently to create a possible pathway to a new point of view.

And just as the gloom and doomers have always attempted to buzzkill the hip culture by insisting that pot smoking inevitably leads to hard drug addiction, so, too, do the ear experts offer a similar cause and effect effect.

When it comes to politics, once a mind is made up, it is almost never changed.

And a closed mind inevitably leads to an untreatable case of election ear.

Oh...and as for the previously promised symptoms of said syndrome?

In fact, there is only one.

We hear what we want to hear.

Friday, September 7, 2012

"...For Sheer Irony Here, You Can't Do Better Than That John Mayer Song, "Say What You Mean"...."

It's not because they won't.

Both major conventions are now in the rear view mirrors of the respective parties and, as one very articulate pundit put it, the "horses are out of the gate."

Why do we insist on being gracious with people who insist on using sports metaphors for everything we do? I'm as much about "lighten up" as the next guy, but when it comes to making a measured and, hopefully, mature decision as to who to choose to live at 1600 Pennsylvania for the next four years, I really don't visualize Seabiscuit.


Both top of the ticket acceptance speeches have already been hashed, re-hashed and re-re-hashed (this process likely to continue until either a) one of them says something realy boneheaded and the media herd swims over to that pool of blood in the water...or b) the first debate concludes at which time each and every thing that either candidate said will be hashed and re-hashed, etc.....)

Can't speak for you but, man, I really miss the days of three TV networks that signed on at dawn and off at midnight. Twenty four/seven multi channel television is directly responsible for the endless yammering required to fill twenty four hours, seven days a week.


From what I've seen, heard, read thus far, the basic consensus is that neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama gave us the kind of speech we were all, in the heart of our political hearts, hoping they would give.

Or, as one very articulate pundit put it, neither of them "parked it over the center field fence."

Dear God, please bring back the Star Spangled Banner at the stroke of twelve on my flat screen. Thank you. Amen.

As for the primary point, which is that while both candidates landed a few good shots, a couple of sharp jabs here, a couple of solid body blows there, nobody delivered a knockout punch...

...heavens to I'm spewing sports myself.....

Put more succinctly....

Neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney spelled out, in one two three, bullet point fashion, what they intend to do, specifically, in one two three, bullet point fashion about anything.

From Medicare to military spending...from joblessness to the price of gasoline.

From soup to nuts, from here to eternity, from Boulder to Birmingham.

Here's politics in plain English.

When you run for any office of any kind, you have to, at least, attempt to do something that we are told from our earliest days is essentially impossible.

Be all things to all people.

Individualism, that pesky trait we all possess that gives each of us our own set of values, beliefs and, more insidiously, a family value pack size can of "here's what I think you should do", results in a candidate's search for common ground almost an exercise in futility.

In that light, the search for common ground makes searching for Amelia Earhart seem like finding your misplaced keys.

And if you can't be all things to all people, there is, regardless of what we hope, pray, believe and/or what others hope, pray, believe and insist, only one alternative.


And that is for candidates to tell us exactly, in no uncertain terms, in simple words that even the Honey Boo Boo crowd could understand, what it is they mean to do as President.

Without, of course, telling us exactly, in no uncertain terms, in simple words that even the Honey Boo Boo crowd could understand.

Personally, I neither agree, nor disagree, with anything or everything I've heard or read said by Mr. Romney and/or Mr. Obama at this stage.

I was going to say stage of the game, but I'm really going to swear off the sports stuff, if at all possible.

And, if asked, I would say, yes, I was a little dissappointed that what I heard from these two in Tampa and Charlotte, respectively, was really just another collection of one liners, catch phrases and vague generalites wrapped in the American flag and a poltical party banner.

Dissapointed, but not surprised.

Because I learned, from watching closely, a long time ago, that running for office isn't about bringing people to your point of view.

It's about not turning people away from it.

And the only way you can do that is to say nothing.

In no uncertain terms.

I think these are two honorable men.

And while I agree with those who say that they weren't specific enough about what they want, and intend, to do if they are given a four year lease on that big famous house, I know why they weren't specific.

It wasn't because they won't.

It's because they can't.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

"...Red, White and Seuss..."

office seekers red and blue
might we have a word with you?
republicans and democrats
please take note of where we're at....

do not say what they do wrong
do not just say they don't belong
do not tell us what they lack
do not belittle or attack
tell us what it is you'll do
to make us all believe in you
then do those things you say you'll do
and we'll be proud to vote for you
speak to us with honest voice
and give to us an honest choice
see the darkness, make it bright
be a candle in the night
don't just tell us they are wrong
that's gone on for far too long
say exactly what you'll do
to make us all believe in you
then do those things you say you'll do
and we'll be vote for you

Sunday, September 2, 2012

"..Hate The Sin....Pity The Sinner...."

Frances Fisher is an accomplished, respected and gifted actor with a resume' of no small measure. If you know her from nothing else, you would know her for her delightfully rigid performance as the mother of Kate Winslett's character in "Titanic".

Here's a link to her lowdown.

Meanwhile, she is also the mother of a nineteen year old daughter from her relationship, some years ago, with another accomplished actor who has been front and center in the world of politics the last couple of days. A relationship that, as commonly known, did not end well.

The following is from Ms. Fisher's Facebook page.

So I've been asked by numerous friends my reaction to what we saw at the RNC an evening ago; you know to whom I am referring. In all honesty, I felt cringing pity. But then I thought: I've seen this act before. And I didn't buy it. Crazy like a fox. (There is a movie coming out, and this might be the way to get more tickets sold.) I saw the same act sitting with therapists, mediators and lawyers.

Pitiful old man appearing to not really know what is going on.......

 Ego run amuk - going onstage without a script --the fault of the desperation of the Repubs, (to trust that an actor could deliver without a script? )--and nobody vetted him? Repubs thinking, hoping, that this person could lend some dignity to the process, because, what, this person is an icon in his chosen profession? Even though I am certainly not a Republican, I felt bad for the people who thought this was a good idea.

 To put words into the mouth of Invisible President Obama was an outstandingly disrespectful attempt to garner cheap laughs; a projection from a person who thinks that when you feel you're losing the audience and have nothing else to say, make a crude joke and the audience will laugh. Cringe. A sly manipulation.

The points brought up, in my opinion, were miniscule in comparison to the real problems facing our country: Child poverty 23%, unemployment because so many jobs have been shipped overseas (Bain for one), health care for all citizens, the threat of war upon Iran, Women's rights to their own choices, Gay Rights, NDAA, Citizens United, the Fed, etc.....

 "We own this country" seemed to me a pandering to the current Corporate power block which does own our country. And the audience thought he was talking about them. How sad.

On a personal level, whenever I see someone stumbling in a speech I feel such compassion - many of us have had that dream of standing on a stage and not knowing what the play is, and having to go on. That is what I felt when I was watching. A horrifying attempt to pull it together at the last minute, but going to the old, tired, tried and true things that worked in the past. In this case, crude sexual jokes that may have worked in the clubhouse, but certainly didn't work on a national stage. Cringe.

Performance art is worthy, in a certain setting. And I applaud a person for taking chances. But I would think that at something as serious as a National Convention for the Presidency of the United States, where people who are undecided are looking for a key to unlock their minds in order to find a guiding force, is not the place to try out a new act. Or recycle an old one.

As a rule, hell hath no fury and all that....

At the same time, it is always a mistake to assume that what you expect is what you're going to get.

And even if, in reading Ms. Fisher's impressions, you allow for any possible sour grapes, you can't reasonably argue that her comments aren't articulate, thoughtful and reasonable.

The knee jerk response , to this perspective from any loyal, card carrying Republican, would likely be dismissive, given that Ms. Fisher does, in fact, bear the burden of theoretically having an axe to grind when it comes to the aforementioned pitiful old man.

But, even if she lives to swing a blade of Bunyanesque proportions, there is no denying that her description of the badly executed night at the improv that the RNC deemed necessary, let alone appropriate, to the proceedings is accurate.

And in that place were we all go, in the quiet of night, in the privacy of our thoughts, my instinct is that everyone, Democrat, Republican, Independants (and bears, oh my) is of one mind here.

In the end, how ironic that in a fractured, splintered, adversarial, partisan climate, we, all of us, are brought together in a single gesture of unity.




Saturday, September 1, 2012

"...Her Name Isn't Billie Jean...But She's Caused A Scene..."

Six degrees of Kevin Bacon?

So ten years ago.


Honey Boo Boo.

Michael Jackson.

Think they aren't connected?

Read on.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the TLC reality show "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" did well enough Wednesday night among the 18 to 49 age demo to do better than the coverage of the Republican National Convention. THR reports that the series about the young beauty queen pulled in a 1.3 rating while the coverage of the convention by Fox News was its closest competitor with a 1.2 rating.

Medicare in jeopardy? Higher taxes for the middle class? Four more years of going nowhere but nowhere?

Minor flicks on the fear screen, if you ask me.

Those show ratings should send a honey coated chill right up your boo boo.

And Michael?

Cue up "She's Out Of My Life".

"....and I don't know whether to laugh...or cry..."

"...No Cliche' Clint Eastwood Taglines Were Harmed In The Production Of This Piece..."


One of the current spate of online acroynyms that is becoming as common place as its verbal cousins, "like", "you know" and, most gratingly, "awesome".

I'm a long time on record, both in print and on air, with the opinion that, in almost every case, LOL, as it is generally used, is, in fact, superfluous.

The admittedly simple logic being that most folks who add LOL to their own comments are, essentially, telling a joke and then laughing at it first to insure that everyone who reads the joke will understand that it's funny.

And, obviously, if you have to do anything to invoke a laugh from someone besides simply telling them the joke, then....hello....the joke isn't funny.

Of course, there is another common usage of the old LOLster people...the equivalent of "just kidding".

As in, "man, that picture of your wife must have been taken long before she went on Jenny Craig...LOL..."

The problem with trying to employ the "just kidding" defense, in pretty much any and every case, is that it only works (if it's going to work at all and let me assure you, as a professional smart ass of decades worth of experience, that it rarely works at all) if you can include certain facial expressions and tones of voice that will ideally go a long way toward convincing the recipient of said JK that you, in fact, JK.

And not just being a putz.

Simple written text lacks both expression and tone.

Pretty much guaranteeing your being classified as a putz.

I was reminded of my acronym aversion as I watched Clint Eastwood addressing the Republican Convention this week.

Most truly funny people will tell you, if asked, that there is nothing less funny than someone trying to be funny.

As opposed to, simply, being funny.

The same thing goes for hip, by the way, but that's a ha of a different color.

Now, in fairness to, not to mention empathy with, those humorists who have reached far only to fall flat, it should be said that anyone who spends a little time and thinks this whole thing through will realize what was going on.

Somebody in the Republican Party hierarchy, convinced that what would really sell the arena crowd, not to mention the entire voting population of the United States, on the merits of electing Mitt Romney President was an edgy, somewhat abstract, but certainly satirical skit performed by an iconic, ideally highly recognizable celebrity, deep red state faithful to the GOP, went out and recruited said icon to deliver said satirical skit.

So, let's see.

Edgy. Check.

Somewhat abstract. Check.

Certainly satirical. Check.

Icon. Check.

Highly recognizable. Check.

Deep red state faithful. Check.

Here's where, and why, it went off the rails.

The average American voter, hell, for that matter, most of the above average American voters, seldom take the time and effort involved to sit down and process the checklist like the one above.

So, instead of the kind of thunderous applause and unstoppable street buzz that results from a totally unexpected, Susan Boyle like home run over the center field fence, what apparently happened here is that a lot of viewers who were tuned in, or just tuning in, to see what Mitt Romney had to offer in the way of solutions to the myriad problems and fears that they, the average American voter, are struggling with found themselves wondering what the hell Clint Eastwood was doing talking to a chair.

Not that I was asked, but if somebody in the G.O.P. were interested, I would offer that what needs to happen from here on out is an inspiring, honest and very clear explanation from Romney and Ryan as to what they will, specifically, do in the next four years, if elected, to create solutions to the aforementioned problems and fears.

And leave the edgy, somewhat abstract, certainly satirical stuff to the professionals or, at the very least, to the comedically gifted.

Because nothing is less funny, or more embarrassing, than someone trying to be funny.

Instead of just, simply, being funny.

If only they had given Clint a way to add LOL at the end.