John McCain: The ‘Low-Information’ Candidate

I was requested to re-post this article that was written during his Presidential run against President Obama – VAC
30 October 2008

Weapons-grade contempt

One need not be detective or forensic scientist to determine the extent of the weapons-grade contempt emitting from John McCain.  The list of recipients is endless.  While the non-stop tirade begins and ends with the “media” it’s the other accusations that are startling reminders of John McCain’s profound lack of leadership skill, his shudderingly feckless statesmanship and his blatant and purposeful dishonesty in his campaign rhetoric.  McCain’s lead among low information voters is not only because he has pandered to them by appealing to the remnants of our National disgrace, but the fact that he is the ‘low-information’ candidate.

Meanwhile, moving in a consistent and progressive manner, Barack Obama does not respond to McCain’s routinely personally offensive talking points.  In fact, Obama never mentions Sara Palin, and only mentions McCain’s name when associating him with policies that he’s supported.   No personal attacks, no inferences of subversive activity.  Most surprisingly, McCain who has staggered through some very questionable professional relationships, has apparently not sobered up enough to realize that he has probably finished himself as an American statesman, period.

Lost the Media Friends

John McCain, of late, has complained about the press – something he didn’t generally do.  The problems between McCain and the press occurred in a number of events with different people that decided that it was time to ask John McCain real questions since he was waging a war against the survivor of the modern history’s longest Democratic race.  There was much more on the table and without question demonstrable differences between the candidates in demeanor, education, life experience and political experience.

Apparently though, John McCain’s witty remarks and warm gestures to junior and senior journalists, treating them like the neighbors puppies, was not going to sell this time around.  There was a public demanding information – and McCain had a endless stream of banalities, slogans and generalizations – but often his facts were wrong at the first, second and even third attempts and reexplaining himself.  Each juncture resulting in another journalist losing their seat on the McCain traveling press corps for asking a question that was not on the McCain preferred question list.  While there is no real list – one would surely realize when they asked a question that didn’t appear on the non-existent list as the Straight-Jacket Express would figuratively leave them sitting in the middle of nowhere while it sped away.

Not Mavericks – Desperadoes

The most remarkable example of how John McCain equates campaigning to war.  Most clearly he’s adopted a plan that isn’t from the ‘Dao of Strategy’ but only from the ‘Dao of War.’  In doing so he has conflated military actions with political campaigns and he and his minions have set their sights on destroying Barack Obama.  While it’s true, politics does use military terminology, including the word campaign, it is about ideas – not blood. The critical mistake he’s (McCain) made is that it is quite apparent that the American public does not aspire to be like John McCain, but are more attracted to the persona and temperament of Barack Obama.

This goes to one central point – that being the primary obligations of the next President.  Team builder, confidence builder, critical thinker, calm and careful consideration and a keen intellect.  With all due respect, as shamefully small as that amount may be – John McCain possesses none of these qualities.  Obama rises to all of them and it simply means there is no choice for the American electorate to make – John McCain has made that most emphatically clear.

Just Do It

It has been my pleasure to talk with readers, friends and loved ones. A very few in disagreemnet with my judgment, and to them I simply state – it’s time to give it up.  I heard the story about life-long Republican support, frankly there have been enough career politicians that are Republicans and supporting Obama to shatter your argument.  I’ve heard about silly ramblings about free-lunches.  Sadly, there is no shred of truth to equate Obama with free-lunches, that is a silly argument that Herbert Hoover will forever have as a legacy.  And lastly, it was a collective hubris that got us into this mess.  It was many of us thinking that we were more important than our neighbor and going to great lengths and expense to prove it – so much in fact that we’ve consumed ourselves into a very unhealthy state.  Our egos are long out of the reach of our economics and our faith in religions that preach about walled communities have created division where there was none.  It is time for us to act like intelligent beings that hope to heal society so that there is an equality in opporunity.  In that case our next discussion will be about personal responsibility – but now is not the time for that discussion to be the focus.  You know that the right thing to do – even if you have a lot invested in thinking otherwise.  Just do it and stop wasting your energy on your ego – just pitch in – we need to do this together.

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Gov. Spitzer Set-up? More to Eliot Mess Story?

Reprinted by requests

– Originally pubished – 11 Mar 08, The Almost Daily Binx, San Jose, Ca, by Binx101

Is Prostitution Prosecutor being Persecuted ?

“… he did knowingly transport and hire the hooker … “

Spitzer swearing inNot a full day has passed before the story seems to already have gotten thrown off (or perhaps ‘on’) the rails. We think that the countermeasures were predictable. There is an article at Raw Story that is more revealing, but not convincing. In brief, the story suggests that Scott Horton, NY Attorney and Harper’s contributor believes Gov. Spitzer was set up. We think Raw Story just wanted to scoop because they didn’t even use Horton’s first name in the article. Right there was a tip-off.

Secondly and maybe even more revealing, the article features a picture of Horton, not Spitzer. We think that this is more revealing about the purpose of the original article as a way to self promote Horton than to point to any definable plot against Spitzer. After all … he did knowingly transport and hire the hooker, no ? He did confess to having, at least, disappointed his family and State, no ? But to listen to Horton’s suggestion, he thinks Spitzer should be invoking the ‘Shaggy’ defense “It Wasn’t Me!” We think Horton’s premise is a self-aggrandizing attempt to throw his name in the political spotlight.

Sad But True

“… didn’t require the skill of Sherlock Holmes …”

As for the original report by Brian Ross at ABC, it was a good and the many other reportsHolmes have made it clear that Spitzer was the object of the investigation and that suspicious money transfers were the original object of the investigation. It is not difficult to understand, certainly for a crime fighting prosecutor, that criminal investigations are a continuous set of theories that lead professionals in various directions. It doesn’t matter whether its a U.S. Attorney or Daschell Hammett – everyone with a pulse over the age of 12 pretty much understands this global reality. This didn’t require the skill of Sherlock Holmes to uncover. Perhaps he and his wife have an understanding. No doubt they do now.

At the Speed of Might

“… paranoia would have served him as a better mistress.”

We think it highly likely that Spitzer has made an enormous cast of enemies in his rise to power. He has been noted for a fierce fighting style and he has been quoted by a list of Msters Bookdetractors – having made direct threats about prosecuting prominent evil-doers. We think paranoia would have served him as a better mistress. In an instant, the Eliot Spitzer has become a household name that will likely be the new “Hypocrite” for a time.

While Spitzer would have to prefer being defined by his successes, as he is portrayed in a highly flattering Eliot Ness-ish portrayal of an avuncular crime fighter in Brooke Masters’ book: Spoiling for a Fight – The Rise of Eliot Spitzer; we are loathe to think of the next books that will sum up the corporate rocking Governor Spitzer because he, essentially, cheated on his wife and hired very expensive hookers.

The Political Process Will Pay the Price

“… everyone’s vision will be obscured by the political food fight.”

Make no mistake about it, allegations will fly – novels will be written and a few fortunes made over Eliot Spitzer’s indiscretions and quite possibly, crimes. It’s the very fuel the that keeps the lights burning so that as we stare at the fire – Washington insiders are busy shredding the Constitution. He’s a Democrat and before long some bloated Right Wing hate monger is going to reveal that he once dated Hillary and before long the Left will respond and everyone’s vision will be obscured by the political food fight.

So Eliot Spitzer’s romp was more than just a whipped cream and a trip on Amtrak. This was a harpoon to Democratic Politics and a further leg-up to the neo-cons, who have hijacked the Republican Party and replaced it with politicians – the likes of highly offensive and disturbing Rep. Steven King of Iowa, or Rep. Jack Kingston of GA, two of the House’s most blatant graffiti artists, who will, most assuredly, tie this into Barack Obama’s middle name.

Insurance is NOT the Prescription for American Poor Health

This article was originally published in May 2009 –

The Almost Daily Binx, San Jose-CA, V.A.Caminiti – [Second in a series]

Public Safety / Public Health

…capitalism mutated in the very same way as we encouraged the banking industry to strip safeguards

Can you imagine if you had to be insured to receive basic police services?  How about clean water?  Sewer?  What if you dialed 911 and the operator asked you for your location and your 911 insurance code?  How did the American public become so disinterested and callous in only a few short very greedy years.  Once again, our flaws have seemed to overwhelm our instincts.  Even self-preservation and our natural desire to propogate the species seems to have been compromised to our own detriment.  Isn’t it unnatural for us to not be concerned with the health of all our neighbors – their well being.  How did we become cheerleaders against ourselves – humanity ?

Be very careful and very thorough when approaching this discussion.  The rules, the basis and the players have all changed.  When this discussion took place back in the 1960’s – the very same insurance companies that were prohibited from engaging in risky investments with their financial reserves were essentially providing a public service.  But alas, this is where American capitalism mutated in the very same way as we encouraged the banking industry to strip safeguards and effective regulation, such as Glass-Steagall.

Capitalism is a particularly useful economic tool.  It inspires great things and great philanthropy.  Unfortunately, there is a selflessness to philanthropy and charitable deeds that seems to have eluded many Americans.  While it is a great transition to move from selfishness to selflessness – the journey of the transition is a school unto itself.  Humility knowledge and the gift of discernment may in fact be the destination; however this is all as personal as prayer.  Our public practices are the product of this personal investment; and our business practices can be joyful in the fact that as capitalists and business owners we are part of a community of those that make our business run efficiently and profitably.   Whether a business owner, operator or employee … we all have the responsibility to contribute to the public welfare as well as for those around our own campfire.

This article doesn’t have sufficient literary real-estate to foot-note all the particulars so without apology we’ll aim for bold points.

Cui BonoWho benefits?

Shareholders, stakeholders and investors benefit.  And any departure from this financial turbine is described by the neo-con extreme rightists as a move toward Socialism.

This Latin phrase familiar to many means – ‘who benefits?’  Precisely.  Who benefits if our Health approach is saddled with not one, not two but three layers of profit for absolutely no value to the insured?  Who?  Well it is shamefully simple – the industries that have self-proclaimed they are essential to the delivery of health care – but actually – they deliver the illusion of health care and enormous amounts of red-tape and acrimony.  Millionaire doctors are common-place.  We’re not talking about upper middle class, respectable gentry – we’re talking millionaires in alarming disproportion to the ability of their customers to deliver that kind of wealth for services.

The answer to this puzzle is even more alarming.  Just imagine that a group of entrepreneurs managed to create a collective of physicians and hospitals and convince them that they could guarantee payment for performed services.  We’ll call them the health insurance group analysts.  Now imagine that small private and institution run hospitals are bought up by another entrepreneurial enterprise offering consolidation of services in order to increase profit and contain costs.  Sounds great, right? And then let’s round it off with yet another group that helps design and counsel physicians and hospitals in how to play the game.  The only thing we haven’t actually talked about yet is delivering health care to sick people – so far the discussion is only about money.  And there’s more to come.  Public offerings, new consolidators of health administration and create the fertile birth canal for an entirely new industry; that is, Medical Administrative Services companies whose primary deliverable is processing the voluminous medical insurance paperwork for corporate physicians.

Who benefits?  Shareholders, stakeholders and investors benefit.  And any departure from this financial turbine is described by the neo-con extreme rightists as a move toward Socialism. After all, the promotion of the public well-being has been removed from the very essence of corporate capitalism in stark contrast to its very reason for existing – so why not replace the beneficiaries of health system with shareholders instead of citizens.  The neo-cons and the convoluted agenda they promote have altered the course of modern society, backward to the 1920’s.  It appears the only public services left that haven’t been dismantled are Police, Fire, Water and Sewer – but not for the lack of trying.  In many enclaved real-estate developments around the country, insurance company underwritten private fire companies have been put into service.  They respond to fires of their insured – only.  Sound like the roaring 20’s?  Does it ring of ‘protection’ schemes during the height of the Volstead Act and other ancestors of the equally disturbing Patriot Act?

Debating / The Baiting

…and other buzz words that are the intellectual equivalent of knock-out drops are still the descriptive terms for the argument.  That is to say – the arguments they are having in the public forum have been crafted by the insurance industry.

The Argument for Basic Public Health – what the disrupters call Socialized Medicine – has never been stronger or more sensible.  Tragically though, half the support for the argument disappears because Progressives and Liberals have not been represented – graft free – through the Democratic Party.  The public may be “trusting” their Democratic President with unprecedented solidarity – but they are not as trusting of the Democratic Congress.  Much of this is the result of desperate Rightist pundits working the rope lines whenever and wherever possible.  Hillary Clinton was famously lampooned by ultra-rightists talking heads for her clumsy declaration of a ‘Vast Right Wing Conspiracy’ – but as history has revealed, there are plenty of Right Wing C0-dependents deserving of scrutiny and deposition, at the very least.

However, a significant amount of skepticism haunts Democrats and will continue to haunt them because of the public perception that they were nothing more than ‘eloquent shoulder-shruggers’  that argued vociferously during elections but actually accomplished little else during the 12 years, including 6 years of total American National Government madness.  The bulk of the screaming and dissent ultimately emanated from the Internet wired public. Very few voices in the Democratic Party were brave enough to live their convictions and distinguish themselves with articulate disagreement or simply brave fundamental disagreement.  Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, respectively, come to mind as demonstrative of some of the distinguished few.  And while there are more – most played it safely by putting on their war-paint for Kodak moments, while the public groundswell shook them up.  If nothing else, the Democratic Party went through some significant changes it hadn’t planned when many of the dinosaurs were retired during the last Democratic portion of the last Presidential contest.  So keep in mind – supporters of the President are admiring him for being a Republican and a Democratic dinosaur slayer, although Congress does not share that distinction.

Surely the endless stream of Congressional tidbits about entitlements, insurance reform and other buzz words that are the intellectual equivalent of knock-out drops are still the descriptive terms for the argument.  That is to say – the arguments they are having in the public forum have been crafted by the insurance industry.  They haven’t been crafted around American Health, yet we bought the bait and are fishing with it.   The simple fact is – the reason our health care is so expensive in this country is fundamental.  Unlike public safety, Police, Fire, Water, Sewer and other basic citizen’s services – health is for profit and the ultimate goal of the insurance companies is to minimize benefits and maximize profits. That might even work in a well running capitalistic economy, but that train is most demonstrably off-the-rails as well.

We have been, in effect, brain-washed into believing that our health system is requires insurance reform, when simply – no insurance would be the better solution.  A public health system serves everyone and if those of significant wealth chose to have private health services – the system would in no way prevent it.  Similarly, insurance fraud – one of the singularly most expensive non-return expenses of our health system, would essentially vanish.  The opportunity for young people to participate in community service by volunteering as part of National health programs could help end the reign of terror held over us by the collective avarice driven by the requirements of  ‘return-on-investment’ of  insurers and health services companies.

What’s the Prescription?

… recapture our self-respect and once again become brave good neighbors and partner with our brave young citizens who have put their healthy young blood on the line without question, while we have sat idle and permitted the looting of our treasury and over 55 years of international good-will and leadership.

It seems as though we need to finish the diagnosis in order to prescribe a fix.  But this becomes particularly difficult because Congress has made some startling assumptions.  That is to say, that by empowering only the parties that abused the system and engineered a health insurance paradigm that ostensibly circumnavigates accessible efficient health care – we’re in actuality only treating symptoms and not the underlying disease.  At the very least, this is an overwhelming deficit in our overall public safety and Homeland Security approach, which should be of paramount concern when talking about the overall health of Americans.

The health care reform discussion continually addresses improving the obfuscation as though there were legitimate solutions to be found, therein.  There haven’t been and will not be solutions by supporting an approach that at its roots is health-for-profit.  That would be as inane as suggesting that an alcoholic should be treated by changing brands of Gin.

We need to call-0ut the writers of the new public lexicon that have indoctrinated an alarming number of Americans in believing that a responsible functioning public health system is tantamount to Communism.  We need to demand that public figures be held accountable for their rhetoric and challenge those that have used their seat or office in Congress as a personal lobbying firm shilling for corporate interest instead of representing the public good as they promised by taking their Oath of Office.  So we must begin with ourselves.  Our understanding of health – preventative medicine – education – exercise – nutrition needs and enormous overhaul. But, equally important – we need to consider how insurance became the controlling factor in delivering health services.  After close historical and modern perusal, it is clear that these additional burdens to the pockets of Americans were designed out of greed, not an interest in protection as is suggested by aid or relief, but perhaps more in line with “protection” as in type of policies the Sopranos’ might offer their clients.

Here’s a prescription for another common unfortunate ailment – complacency:

  1. We recapture our initiative to think in private and practice in public.
  2. We stop promoting bad practices and stop habitually adopting talking points of broadcast ideologues that profit by misinforming the public and further profit by shilling for financial interests.
  3. We exercise our capitalistic right to withhold business from broadcast personalities that pretend to be journalists and actually engage not in commentary but in propaganda, even if inconvenient.
  4. We (many of us) must admit that we were willing accomplices and contributed to this mess by our actions or inactions.
  5. We take responsibility not only for the welfare of our families or those we hope to impress – we take responsibility to think on a larger scale than our personal comfort and thus improve our Nation.
  6. We take the time to know things that are important and stop making excuses because it takes time or interferes with our leisure.
  7. We recapture our self-respect and once again become brave good neighbors and partner with our brave young citizens who have put their healthy young blood on the line without question, while we have sat idle and permitted the looting of our treasury and over 55 years of international good-will and leadership.
  8. We do not live in fear and we practice rules of law – instead of languishing in rules of exception.

Info-tainers Faking Journalism

San Jose, CA – The Almost Daily Binx, V.A. Caminiti

It was Sunday night and the sunset was the backdrop for some light reading and a cocktail before deciding what to do for dinner.   We opted for light fare and decided to watch (or at least skim through) some of the Sunday morning news talk that we had recorded.  This was not a good idea nor a particularly good digestive aid.

All the News that's fit to miss

All the News that's fit to miss

First up was Meet the Press with David Gregory.  Mr. Gregory is one of those that seem afflicted with inappropriate facial expressions – a Monty Python sketch if ever there was.  I’m hopeful this is not a medical condition but rather a bout of conscience taking place while he’s interviewing.  In the latest episode of this veteran info-tainer’s race away from journalism, Gregory squandered an opportunity to ask President Obama important and relevant questions in place of positing ridiculous mis-quotes and strange conclusions, yet managing to intone an interrogative.   Not only is it distracting, it truly becomes bizarre when Gregory starts suppressing a sardonic smile mid-question as he trolls the waters of conversation trying to get the President to bite on the racism bait.  Obama won’t and Gregory and his ilk are determined to get him to bite – because – there is big media money in racism.

More disturbing though is the casual nature in which Gregory approaches speaking to the President of the United States.  One would believe it to be a talk show with the President hawking a book – instead of a Network News broadcast featuring a very lucky reporter getting to ask the President some tough questions.  And to that end, this is the thrust of my objection.  How could you waste an interview with the President of the United States with such terrible, ill prepared questions ??  How could you squander the opportunity to ask follow-up questions in a one-on-one interview ??  Was this about you and your career ??  Was this about you and your media exposure ??

Regrettably, I fear the answer is obvious – that’s Info-tainment.  Following the interview was Minority Leader Boehner and Sen Lindsey Graham with a further explanation that no racism exists in the USA – a particularly poignant claim more believable from the heavily bronzed Boehner than the pasty South Carolinian – both of whom claim no connection to the wing-nuttery of their national party chairman who has been repeatedly hurling undignified insults at the President.

After the Gregory botched opportunity it was time to check out George Stephanopoulos’ interviewing skills.  It didn’t seem possible that Gregory would have competition for the worst squandered moment in interview history but George managed to do it.  Repeated questions about the President’s critics instead of the President’s vision.

Stephanopoulos, though, managed to take it to a new low by repeatedly

Please begin to answer my question so I can interrupt you ...

Please begin to answer my question so I can interrupt you ...

interrupting the President of the United States, like an impatient pooch that wants to go out and chew on the mailman.  To top off this unpleasant departure from journalism, Stephanopoulos began to sound annoyed that President wasn’t biting on his tabloid-styled interrogatives – clearly meant to create ‘sound bites’  for the ideologues to surf like the Big Kahuna rather than a genuine examination of President Obama’s vision and detailed challenging questions thereof.

The constant interruptions were handled with aplomb by the President, although at times, he seemed as shocked as me as to just how shallow and misleading the questions were to the central burning points.  Not a single question about the mechanisms of finance as it pertains to health care; not a single challenge as to the actual philosophies that drive the reform; not a single solitary follow- up question.  Just sound-bitey stuff from an uncomfortable twitchy and squirmy info-tainer who believes his mother’s claim that he’s the smartest boy in the world.   Another wasted opportunity that any journalism major, irrespective of stripe, would have ventured their eye-teeth to score.

Following the non-interview interview of President Obama came the round table discussion with Stephanopoulos, George Will, Peggy Noonan, Bob Reich, Ed Gillespie and Donna Brazile.  Viewers were treated to the political framing of info-tainer George Will, now unable to contain his dyspepsia in the feeling that his conservative  banner has been stolen by wing-nuts and his career decision to disagree with any Liberal thought, even if it proves to be a good idea.

Let's make funny faces while the others talk.

Let's make funny faces while the others talk.

The others all chimed-in throughout the limited broadcast with their team song – however Peggy Noonan is hell bent on staying in the headlines.  In this episode, she decided she would characterize the President as being boorish in his attempts to use the media to advance Health care.  But if that wasn’t strange enough, Noonan erupted into a series of head-nodding, eye exercises and the oddest facial expressions while Reich was taking his turn. However, the topper was when she began moving her lips as other’s were talking.  Now, certainly if this were the result of Tourettes or some other medical disorder, we’d know, after all the woman seeks these public appearances for compensation.  My guess though, is that she’s just about completely made the transition into the happy place where journalists who have decided to sell-out and become part of the problem and work the media financial turbine as info-tainers.  Plus the fact, there’s ample circumstantial observations that she’s just plain nuts.

No follow-up questions ??  Is this possible.  Certainly.  This isn’t journalism.  Journalists have follow-ups.  These are info-tainers.  They have a tickler list and essentially aren’t doing any listening – just talking.  Alex Trebeck delivers more probative value when he introduces the contestants on Jeopardy than Gregory or Stephanopoulos.

Well, why stop there … as long as this stroll down info-tainment lane has already proved to be quite an appetite suppressant, let’s give Fox a whirl just to see what the co-creators of info-tainment are up to.  No surprise here, including vignettes from  the recent past.  Earlier in the week Bill O’Reilly decried he was being quoted improperly and illegitimately by the Left, who were spreading rumors that he allegedly broad-casted support of a public option.  Of course, after listening and relistening to the segment of his broadcast that allegedly contained the misinformation – O’Reilly clearly said he was for a public option. It is indisputable – that is what he said – yet – he’s disputing it.  Now it’s party time because Up is not only Up it is also Down in O’Reillyville.

Why is everybody always pick'n on me?

Why is everybody always pick'n on me?

Next, Fox News Sunday – where Chris Wallace, who’s been taking pot shots at Obama since before the inauguration; and recently permitted Sean Hannity to outright lie when he purposefully and willfully mis-characterized the President’s words on a Speech that Fox declined to carry –  whined and whined and whined that the White House didn’t agree to any Fox interviews.

Mr. Wallace has adopted a strategy that some of my relatives used to advance; whereby the bizarre behavior of an insulting avuncular figure was attributed to his affection for the object of his abuse.  So considering this barely conceivable shard of behavioral detritus, Chris Wallace is furious that the President isn’t returning his calls with love and has been throwing a temper tantrum for at least three days.

Add to the Fox line-up an array of characters that could form their own comic book  genre, former disgraced Clinton administration adviser Dick Morris – losing his breath screeching anti-Obama remarks irrespective of the logic or lack thereof; the very indictable Karl Rove – apparently in a parallel universe; and the sad-eyed Britt Hume – who mastered speaking while clearing his throat through an entire broadcast.  A line-up dedicated to disgracing Americans around the world with unprecedented interference and engagement in promoting dissonance and dishonesty in reporting and actually creating news events.  That’s info-tainment !!!

Merging and Purging : A Developing Story

by V.A. Caminiti

The merge lane was marked very clearly and visible from both the freeway and the meter controlled entrance.  Not a law, but in actuality, instructions for conduct.  So why is this guy in the blue pick-up truck hugging the bumper of the car in front of him? Why isn’t he permitting me to move onto the highway in the same way the driver in front of him yielded to the car that preceded mine?  More importantly though, how have I gone from the bliss of Zen to seeing ‘Red’ in mere seconds?  Why has my serene enjoyment of John Mayer’s ‘Stop This Train’ in magnificent fidelity been replaced by envisioning retaliation in some twisted homicidal Walter Mitty daydream?

The answer may be a sad commentary on humanity, but it is not elusive.  We’re humans.  We’re a developing species. We are territorial, tribal and often unreasonable.  We exist with so much solitude in our tons of moving steel as though we are anonymous – much as a costume party – and we act territorial and primitive as though our automobile were a cave and other drivers are intruders.  The chain reaction is as social a phenomenon as the contagion of yawning.  Before long the freeway has become the sad scene of competitive rudeness and anti-social behavior that would send us racing a child to a team of Ritalin dispensing psychiatrists should they exhibit this type of behavior on a school play-ground. We’re also creatures of habit, good ones and bad ones and we confuse feelings with facts. We become intellectually and spiritually lazy when we simply react instead of taking the responsibility to examine the consequences of our actions in a socially responsible way. 

On the other hand, we’re cognitive social beings with the ability to reason and innately improve our surroundings and our species.  It seems though; there is something that is disrupting our progression. Many believe it is the 24/7 sensory smorgasbord enticing us to feast habitually and ultimately overwhelming our ability to reason.  My observations put me in the column of those that concur. Not unlike celebrity endorsements of products, marketing is a valuable tool of capitalism, but there are techniques of marketing that have been deemed as an unfair manipulation of man’s mind.  Most of my generation (when the US lead in world education standards) learned of the outlawed practices of overt subliminal advertising – although actual tests revealed that the conclusions were false, the public outcry was overwhelming – believing that signs flashed  for a nanosecond on a movie screen to ‘buy popcorn’  were actually effective. 

This reaction to James Vicary’s claims, foremost by Vance Packard in his book “The Hidden Persuaders” led to global condemnation in 1958 of a practice that wasn’t borne out by science but did conveniently mesh with ideological fear monger’s claims of insidious communism looming in sleeper cells throughout the world.  This was possible because even the most reasonable person didn’t require massive testing to deduce that bombarding individuals with multi-sensory images of any product or thought would result in, at the very least, familiarity. And, to that end, familiarity, unto itself, does not necessarily breed contempt but it often breeds acceptance. So naturally the opportunity to use this as collateral to support the concept of the ‘Red Menace’ was a viable tool to many.

It is the job of public relations firms to work the channels of acceptance to the point that the line between truth and fiction becomes blurred to the extent that people vociferously campaign against their own best interests. This is considered a major success when accomplished and is employed by corn-syrup laden soft-drink peddlers, non-nutritious convenience food makers and scores of companies selling essentially tap water in plastic bottles.  The image of two bath tubs will for the next  ten years indelibly represent  the transformation of dysfunction into a four-hour erection , just as a twenty-year  concerted assault on the word ‘Liberal’ has transformed it into a pejorative and deny it as the basic philosophy of every major religion in the modern world. 

The provocateurs posing as news analysts and worthy commentators, quite often use their visibility, as a launching pad for the marketing of ideology, and in 15 years created an industry of allegedly conservative talk into a multi-billion dollar business that essentially benefits from controversy.  Many believe it is simply propaganda driven by the oligarchy that controls it.  On the other hand, many of us believe that it is not about the specific ideology, but about the wealth that can be amassed by ostensibly promoting an irrelevant orthodoxy – that above all else – must result in deep controversy.  The result has been an annuity, powered by team sportsmanship and the duped are lulled into jingoistic ranting that defies logic since the meat on the bone is generally no more than meaningless sayings or slogans that are ill-advised or simply inconsistent with their own self interests … i.e. the recent ‘Tea Bagging’ farce.Hence, we are a ‘nation of laws’ not a ‘nation of gold’.

This is the perplexing nexus that provides cover for the most desperate capitalists.  Those, for instance, that systematically transformed our financial centers into casinos over decades of obfuscation and herding public support with dreams of wealth as carrots on sticks. But, in actuality, the wealth was cleverly disguised debt with the illusion of prosperity.  The realization that a misguided lust for wealth transformed the offspring of Rosie-the-Riveter and G.I. Joe into the pawns that owe the company store more than they can repay is most alarming.  Moreover, the massive sensory assault of the marketers has managed to persuade a large segment of society to cheer for the very powers that have enslaved Americans with inescapable debt, compound cynicism and a disquieting disregard for our responsibility as good neighbors and fellow humans.

This ubiquitous toxicity is not without an antidote, and it is heartening that young and fresh minds around the world are beginning to cease the reign of avarice by seizing the reins of influence and exposing the danger of complacency when people start realizing that ‘fat, dumb and happy’ is not a goal but a terminal diagnosis. The ‘usual suspects’ have to redouble their marketing efforts to the emerging demographic that is no longer pleased with suppressed self-esteem in lieu of designer jeans and a Maitre D’ that knows their name; or, owning  a ridiculously impractical automobile that not only is wasteful and harmful – but is a part of story of how we’ve been shirking humanity. 

This is not only an introspective …  just look around.  Have you seen the antique thinking that still roams a significant number of corridors in our government? Have you listened to the treasonous rhetoric from relics that have been placed in elective office by defective voting practices and a political street game that is tantamount to a rigged roulette wheel?  This is not a politically convenient observation for the abuses are on both sides of the aisle, but it is refreshing that the there is some change we can believe in and it’s starting to come through the door. 

History will most likely treat the ‘Right’ very harshly for fronting for the Oligarch’s coup of our American National government.  Some of the dinosaur citizens will continue to repeat manufactured arguments, just short of denying the holocaust,  because they have been addicted to a certain news station on their car radios during drive time.  The continuous banter that FDR was a socialist, reviving arguments that were debunked before Joe McCarthy was elected Senator from Wisconsin in 1946. 

Yet the dwindling loyalist royalists clamor like street car bells on Market Street; repeating baseless commentary of feckless commentators instead of thinking independently and rationally; thereby,  personifying P.T. Barnum’s observation – ‘There’s a sucker born every minute’ – and punctuating it by judging patriotism by the number of times a showman says ‘God Bless America and the Troops’ and by counting the number of flag pins on his very expensive suit. A nation whose bittersweet history is built on the backs of immigrants and aliens, with complex problems that cannot be resolved with silly slogans and crowds cheering an unlicensed plumber turned inconvenient celebrity or political pundits and politicians that haven’t dealt with the fact that everything they’ve said in the last twenty years is digitized and available in 5 seconds with internet access or even a cell-phone and Google.   To argue for archaic and primitive torture of other human beings is to deny ourselves the very thing we cherish, freedom.

There was a popular movie a few years ago, ‘Pay It Forward.’  It seemed the message was a universal and not very original idea. In fact, it seemed quite consistent with what my family instilled in me as a child.  My parents were practicing humans without the plethora of vices that I came to be fond.  They taught us the distinction between ‘want’ and ‘need.’  Faith, Hope and Charity were life principles, not slogans. Plastering the American Flag on a container for keeping beer cold would be tantamount to using my childhood glow-in-the-dark Rosary beads as sling shot.  Surely I disagreed with parents on scores of issues as generational and even principled responsibility, but always with respect … well mostly.  And that seems to be the most important element of any disagreement; respect.  Thomas Jefferson based an entire thesis on this essential concept and without respect, there is no dialogue; and without a dialogue, there is no learning. 

So the next time I get on the freeway, I’m going to remember what I wrote here today and quell my primitive longings to impale someone’s head and carry it on a stick and when I get cut off or shut out, I’m going to resist the urge to pursue the offender and mete out justice by paying it backward and cutting him off (or even just daydreaming about it) and I’m going to turn up John Mayer or maybe listen to Jim Lehrer instead.  I’m going to continue to think a little more each day how I can make a difference and break more of the bad habits I’ve given refuge to in my very being; and I’m going to think of ways to express myself that aren’t about ad hominem attacks on my detractors but a well reasoned response that will encourage a dialogue, instead of a scrimmage.  I hope you’ll join me; even if we disagree, we’ll learn.

The Right Continues to Get It Wrong

by V.A. Caminiti, The Almost Daily Binx
US Senator James Inhofe - R-OK

US Senator James Inhofe - R-OK

Enough Inhofe

Don’t believe for second that the criticism launched by Sen. Inhofe while standing on foreign soil against sitting US President Barack Obama was an gaffe.  However, consider it not only an act of enormous un-American tenor; but also revealing of the desperation and reckless mindset of the humanoid debris still remaining in the US Congress.  It was a breath-taking display of disrespect for Americans by another of the  Rush Limbaugh suck-up Pol-stitutes.

These despicable acts are not acts of free-speech.  Free-speech is protected under our Constitution.  These are acts, that anyone with modicum of civics understands, are historically treasonous in and at another time were punishable by extreme methods.

Even an apology shouldn’t preclude the citizens of Oklahoma calling for ‘Senator-for-Hire’ Inhofe to cease representing them in the US Senate.  This the man that helped dismantle the US Interior Department and assisted in converting it to a petroleum company lobbying lounge for the Bush Administration.  A grossly uninformed zealot that joked about the climate change on the floor of the Senate and is quoted numerous times at odds with what is customarily considered sanity.

Hannity – Insanity

Sean Hannity - Fox Info-tainer

Sean Hannity - Fox Info-tainer

As though they needed cheerleaders, Inhofe and his ilk have a line up of unsavory characters that have come from the Roger Ailes school of  ‘Rile-the-Mouth-Breathers’ which is championed by the likes of Sean Hannity.  His rantings on radio and television are the mating call of terminally mis-informed.  Routinely, and I say this with all due deference and whatever respect is possible, he lies.  Not little fibby lies.  Huge lies.  His latest was probably the source of Inhofe’s anti-American tirade, by claiming that President Obama had decimated the military budget, when in fact the military budget in the new administration’s work with Sec’y Gates, increases military spending by4%.

By simply omitting the facts and replacing with figments of their imagination, Inhofe and buddy Hannity are able to get the knuckle draggers who listen to them to begin objecting.  And, as anyone who understands disruption messaging – that’s all the want.  You understand, right?  This is a marketing practice and propaganda tool – not random mistakes or gaffes.  It’s all connected to the same thing that Eric Cantor is implementing on the floor of the House of Representatives.  Disruption to serve the Party. Sound kind of Orwellian ?  It is.

It doesn’t matter if Inhofe or Hannity are your relatives. It certainly doesn’t matter to Newt Gingrich’s sister who has routinely called him out for his purposeful lies routinely.  These are not good guys.  They are hired guns of the Right – the extreme right.

The ‘Right’ Wronging America

Two of Forty-eight

It has been just two months since Barack Obama has been inaugurated as our Nation’s 44th President and just two months since the remnants of the most extreme ideologues of the Republican Party have reacted in a most bizarre combination of panic, jingoism and un-American behavior. To the untrained eye, it appears to be random stupidity. Yet, recent events suggest that it is precisely the same tactics they (Republicans) used to prop up Newton Leroy Gingrich and begin deconstruction of the Constitution as a result of the 1994 Congressional elections. Remember, the cast – Roger Ailes’ political communications team – eventually to include the most unsavory and possibly most unstable neo-conservative talkers the United States has ever given comfort and inalienable rights.

While challenging the status quo is the raison d’être for journalism and commentary – the ‘news-talk’ / ‘ journo-tainment ‘ megaplex is primarily controlled by a deliberate, disparate and desperate group of conservatives that have become driven to preserve and recapture power. Routinely they wander into the territory of treason while painting themselves red, white and blue; and, quite unfortunately, they have managed to become icons for the severely uninformed. In an effort to not be upstaged, moderate media outlets have routinely covered the misinformation and in a sense have ventured to legitimize the dialogue in an effort to justify their hunger for the content, thereof.

 

Just Say No

Tonight, President Obama held a press conference with an opening statement, directly addressing recovery plans for our troubled economy. While many Americans are scratching their heads and trying to understand the elements of the problem and the solution – the Right Wing Party hierarchy has passed the word by perverting Nancy Reagan’s anti-drug slogan – ‘Just Say No’ And the is precisely what they have done. No plans, no alternatives, no dialogue – simply planting their feet like recalcitrant imps, screaming “No!” A phrase earlier adopted by former Senator and felony indicted Ted Stevens of Alaska, when he refused to budge by reducing the earmark request for the famous bridge-to-nowhere.

However, this evening, no Republican was inebriated enough to attempt a public rebuttal to the President’s conference, since they haven’t actually had a meaningful legislative idea since former Congressman and felony indicted Tom Delay made redistricting congressional strongholds a pay-to-play gold mine for the good ‘ole boys on the Hill. Not a single meaningful discourse, but alas, the journo-tainers were all over the television screen in little boxes, big boxes and full screens with displaying inept clairvoyance and a fumbling grasp of the supernatural that would make Rod Serling guffaw from the grave.

A Republican strategist (names of these journo-tainers purposely omitted) on CNN , this very evening, suggested that President Obama’s very brief and perfect response to a mindlessly aggressive and accusatory question by CNN’s reporter at the conference, was somehow an omen of Obama’s crack-up. A chink in the armor of the president that gave him reason to opine that there is now a greater possibility that Obama will be a one-termer.

 

Got Flag Pin?

Now one might think that is just a bit of overplay by a partisan hack –but alas, this is not the point. This is the antithesis of a Hazmat team. This is the neo-con / deep left emergency squad sending the message to place toxic waste throughout the mediaplex with a flag-pins stuck in the waste. Not long after the questions were done … I had the pleasure to make my nightly call to Mom. Alas, she was surprised to hear that Obama was reported to have lost his temper at the news conference. My immediate reply – “you’re watching Fox News, right?” “Yes,” she replied – “how’d you know?” “Elementary my dear, elementary.” I then commenced to explain what I’ve written below. When my 90 year-old Mother was able to respond: “You know, I think you’re right! They were also talking about him laughing in his interview on Sunday when talking about the economy. It seemed quite unfair and inaccurate.” The axis has shifted. My Mom lives in Fox Country – Florida, and she’s not buying it anymore.

 

Hail Mary

Just imagine, the information was out early in the day. The plays were phoned-in, emailed, tweeted and possibly sent by Morse Code or banging rocks. Seconds after President Obama finished his interview on 60 minutes – I imagine the group that coerced the corpulent former VP to fire one or two over the bow of the ship-of-State, realized that perhaps their idea to have Dick Cheney, the most toxic figure in American public life since John Wilkes Booth, throw a Hail Mary pass was not working in their best interests. Indeed to cover their complicity in Cheney’s corrosive comments, they began leaking to the press anonymous and attributed comments that he should keep quiet. Is anyone buying it? Perhaps the crowd that listens to the caustic right wing mediaplex – but the dwindling group is now mostly a group of very sad extremists easily satisfied by leaders and media stars that are addicted to prescription medicine or have been proven wrong in every major decision they have made.

In either case, they come with the turf and free-speech comes with a great cost. History will not treat these dingos of political blood-sport and avarice very kindly. In fact, ‘the present’ doesn’t seem to tolerate them very well either. While I am an Independent because of my distaste for the legacy stench in Democratic Party – it has not been difficult to caucus, if you will, with Democrats. Now it’s time for principles and principals. It doesn’t matter what Party they belong to as long as they promote a practice of Americanism. Not conservatism, not liberalism and certainly not hooliganism, but Americanism – a theory that human rights is worth dying for, even if it provides the potential for someone to be un-American.

Our new President understands this and practices it. It’s in his bones – not something he portrays for the public. We hardly noticed him before until we realized that this selflessness was something that many of us experienced in our own families and life-styles, long before propagandists sold their self-respect for a few pounds of cash and a fancy car.  And we like it.  In fact, we are it.