Thursday, February 28, 2008

Do They Really Think I'm That Stupid?

First of all, let me say that, unless I have some type of epiphany myself, I will not vote for John McCain. There is a 94% chance that the name I check in November has not yet even been announced. So this is not a McCain campaign ad, nor one for anyone else that you see every night on national news.

This, rather, is about an American institution's self-redefinement (I just invented a word, I think). Once, the Press was in the business of informing us. Remember Walter Cronkite signing off every evening, "And that's the way it is..." It might not have been, but everyone still thought that was the purpose of the Press back then.

Somehow, in the past 30 years, the Press has decided that, instead of reporting the news, it is supposed to create news. I will quickly clarify that a free American Press has always been in the middle of history. Thomas Nast was able to topple some big and corrupt officials with his journalism -- and sometimes, it was just pictures. There is nothing as important as having someone "on the spot" to tell us what is actually going on. Sometimes, that clarification, that truth, is what actually makes history.

That is the reason the First Amendment protects a free and uncontrolled Press. That's why I keep capitalizing "Press" as I write this. It is a valid and necessary institution, and that is why the framers of the Constitution provided for its protection, along with some other necessary institutions in the First Amendment.

Then there's the New York Times. I think their motto is, "We make our own news so we don't have to look for any." Take a recent and now-well-known scenario. Some time in this long, boring, ineffective, drawn-out thing that some people say resembles a presidential campaign, the NYT decided to endorse some candidates. One was John McCain. Everyone probably knows that when the NYT endorses a Republican, it's really saying "This one would do the least damage to our own ideology." No one expects them to really like the candidate, and that was true with McCain, and everybody knew it; not only that, no one really had a problem with it. Most Republicans would rather not get a NYT endorsement anyway. It's kind of like being endorsed by Farrakhan or the KKK, but that's another story.

The problem is what the NYT did to its own endorsement. The "breaking story" last week about McCain's supposed "affair," which obviously is cooked up with the poorest National Enquirer style of pseudo-journalism, was already in the works months ago. The NYT planned on running this story months ago. When they published their supportive endorsement of McCain, they already knew they would soon publish this other story.

"Hypocrisy" is an over-used word, but I guess it will have to do here. The plan is so transparent that even some hick backwoods boy with an accent like me can see through it. The NYT endorsed McCain even though they don't want him to win. They set him up as a straw man, looking for someone they thought would be easy to beat.

This is okay in chess. A queen sacrifice can win a game, but nobody expects ethics in chess. The story was irresponsible and disgusting for its content, its intent, and its timing. However, I think the story was disgusting, most of all, because it insults the intelligence of the American electorate. To think we wouldn't notice this. People from all sides of the political spectrum recognize what happened here.

Is this enough for the NYT? No, they still have other ammo. Today, we read that the NYT now doubts McCain's legal ability to be president: He was born in the Canal Zone. Of course, he was born to American parents in an American-occupied zone, parents who were on active military duty. But the NYT doubts McCain's qualifications for president because he wasn't born in the continental United States.

Perhaps the strangest part of this is that a paper with such an esteemed reputation probably knew where McCain was born. So unless they have had a sudden change in viewpoint, this paper, such a bastion of intelligence and understanding, Endorsed a candidate for president, knowing he was unqualified to fill the position.

I'll add that I have no problem with McCain's heritage here. He has a legal right to run for president. He was born to American parents on official American soil. But the NYT says there is doubt. However, they endorsed him for president. Isn't that admitting to some type of overt stupidity?

I was, however, in reading the "endorsement" article of the NYT, surprised to find that they never used the word "qualified" to describe McCain. In fact, the article says what I have stated before: "We really hate him, but we don't hate him as much as we do all the other Republicans." If you want to read the article for yourself, you can find it at:

I'm not going to vote for McCain. But if I was "undecided" and considering him, the NYT would have just convinced me. Their brazen transparency, and their willingness to strap a bomb to one of their own candidates is not journalism. I'm trying to think of a word for it, and one fails me. But it's not journalism. And the NYT is not the Press. If it deserves to be published at all, it should be at the Wal-Mart check out stand, where they put all the other publications that I never buy, but read the covers for entertainment as I wait my turn to pay China some money. I use the word "entertainment" here loosely, like when I say that reruns of the Brady Bunch are entertainment.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Way It Ought to Be!

Talk about whining. Both major political parties are doing it now. On the one hand, Howard (waaaaaaaahhhhhh!) Dean is upset because the Demo nominee was not decided on Super Tuesday, and may not be decided before the Democratic convention late this summer. On the other hand, the dullest of the dull among Republicans, including Texas governor Rick Perry, are calling on Mike Huckabee to pull out of the Republican race because he is "hurting the party."

What are both parties so afraid of? I invite you to look at some of my earlier posts for more detail, but in a nutshell, the thing that scares both parties is the possibility that their respective conventions will have to be conventions! The very thought that they may have to pick a presidential candidate in a national convention scares them to death.

As I have stated earlier, we would have five or six less great presidents if parties had always done the long, drawn-out, nobody-wins-and-everybody-pays series of state primaries that we are cursed with now. What the entrenched powers that be want in both parties is a quick declaration of a victor -- a candidate -- in both parties by early February. That way, the parties could throw all that federal money they soaked, three dollars at a time from taxpayers, into smear campaigns and crusades for one person. They would have from February to November -- 9 whole months! -- to try to scrape the ugly off their chosen candidates and present something that remotely resembled a president.

Then the conventions could be what most modern big-party honchos want them to be: expensive, elaborate coronations of an already-widely-known candidate, and platforms for other politicians to cement their own days in the sun. Most politicians think the primary purpose of a political convention is to launch their own campaigns 4 to 8 years in the future, or cement the deathgrip they have on their current house or senate seats.

In truth, political conventions are boring, unbelievable, and incredibly shallow to most Americans. When Al Gore spends one evening publicly showing everyone in America how much he loves his wife and kids in a staged event that probably took two weeks of practice and coaching to prepare for, we can see how utterly useless these things are. They make the Grammy awards look spontaneous and sincere (and that's hard to do).

I have said it before, and I say it again: We will never have another great president until a party has to pick one during a convention. It may even be one currently running, but if history has any evidence, it will be someone we're not thinking about right now. Maybe it will be a long gone Democrat like Bill Richardson, or a dark horse like Harry Reid. Maybe the Republicans will suddenly find a Sam Brownback or return to Fred Thompson. The truth is, most of the great presidents would have never made it through the primaries. Primaries allow the moneyed mediocre to float to the top, much like slag does when iron is being refined. Both major parties say, "I guess this was the best we could do," and they blindly decide to half-heartedly support a dull candidate.

It doesn't have to be this way. There are probably 25 to 50 great candidates in both parties, plus independents, that could give us the president we need, instead of the one we will settle for. I am grateful to Barak Obama for stopping a coronation of Ms. Rodham-Clinton, something that was supposed to be a "done deal" before the first Democratic primary or caucus. And to Huckabee, I say, "go for it!" When his own party whines that he needs to get out to "save the party," invite them to draw straws between him and McCain, who could do the same thing. While we're at it, bring back the dropouts from both parties, and let them all draw straws. We have a better chance of getting a good president through dumb luck than we do of getting one through this made-in-hades thing they call "primaries."

As I heard network pundits praising "Super Tuesday" as "the closest thing to a National Primary we have ever had," I thought, are there really normal people who want something like a "national primary?" I can think of no good reason to have one, and fifty good reasons not to.

So get ready, you backwards, boring "powers-that-be," the kind that let people like Dick Cheney have power when he deserves none, or that bring a total nobody like John Kerry into the national spotlight. Get ready for some knockdown-dragout convention fighting. Get ready to be bruised, beaten, and sore. Get ready to spend some money on what you should have been doing anyway: picking a candidate that's a real Republican or Democrat instead of the phonies you keep trying to enthrone.

I couldn't have planned this one any better myself, anyway: we've lost the "frontrunner" former New York mayor who never had a genuine conviction about anything except that he happened to be mayor on September 11, 2001; we've seen the demise of Mitt Romney, who thought he could buy delegates with his millions, his makeup, and his lies; we're seeing that you have to do more than wear a dress and be a liberal to be a "shoo-in" this year; the millionaire "advocate of the poor" who made his money by suing doctors and hospitals and raising the cost of health care for all of us. And they keep falling.

I'm grateful to Huckabee and Obama for keeping it alive in their own ways. I'm not sure either one of them would make a great president, but I'm holding my breath that they've propped the door open to those late summer conventions, and that their tenacity will allow some as-yet-unnoticed leader to slip in the door, get a few votes on the first split ballot, gain a showing on the third ballot, and make a few strategic moves on the 14th ballot, and then, in the midst of fatigue, sweat, and sudden realization, gain a nomination on about the 21st round.

Then, with only a little over two months to go, they would neither have the time to dig up any skeletons on each other. It would be about exciting voters and challenging the nation to pick someone to lead. Is that too much of a dream. Huckabee says he "majored in miracles," and Obama talks ad absurdum about "change." I can only hope for both.

I can hope for a real presidential election this November. We haven't had one in quite some time.