Showing posts with label Stonekettle Station. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stonekettle Station. Show all posts

Monday, April 24, 2017

Barbarians IN the Gate



It didn’t take long to deface The Office of the Presidency, celebrity triviality “trumping” expertise and dignity.  To the victor belong the spoils and it is no more in evidence than the recent White House fĂȘte personally hosted by Donald Trump, his guests being Sarah Palin, Ted Nugent and Kid Rock, whoever the latter two are.  Supposedly, Sarah invited Ted and Kid because Jesus was busy.  During their four hour run of the White House including a white china dinner they apparently discussed “health, fitness, food, rock ’n’ roll, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, secure borders, the history of the United States, guns, bullets, bows and arrows, North Korea, [ and ]Russia.”  It is reassuring to know our President is getting such good advice.

According to NPR, Mr. Nugent described the visit as follows: "Well well well looky looky here boogie chillin', I got your Shot Heard Round The World right here in big ol greazya— Washington DC where your 1 & only MotorCity Madman Whackmaster StrapAssasin1 dined with President Donald J Trump at the WhiteHouse to Make America Great Again! Got that?"

For a fuller account of the symbolic desecration of the White House with some official White House photographs go to Sarah Palin’s website.  This includes a photograph of the three mocking the portrait of former first lady Hillary Clinton.  According to the New York Times, an unnamed person “asked the three to extend their middle fingers beneath the portrait.  ‘I [Mr. Nugent] politely declined,’ he said. ‘Let the juxtaposition speak for itself.’” 

Meanwhile, apropos to this topic, a recent Palm Beach Post cover story revealed the contributions to Donald Trump‘s inaugural committee and not surprisingly, some of the larger contributors are right here in the Palm Beach area, the home of the so-called Southern White House (might as well be the White House given the extent of his time here).  The leading donor in this immediate area was billionaire Chris Cline whose private company has more than three billion tons of coal reserves.  No wonder he was happy to throw in $1million to the inaugural festivities. Presumably such contributions assures a place in the new swamp. It is truly a plutocracy of self-serving popular culture or corporate elitists.  

Jim Wright, the author of the Stonekettle Station blog has written a related essay on this topic,The Hubris of Ignorance.  Wright used to write obsessively in his blog but over time has turned more to Twitter for his incisive jabs.  Thankfully, he’ll still post a lengthy, thoughtful essay.  This is must reading from an ex-military man who sees the world, and the administration, for what it is.  A brief quote from his most recent entry summarizes this issue of expertise (or the lack of it) and “the cultivation of intelligence”: 

The Founding Fathers weren’t amateurs

 The men who freed this country from King George and then went on to forge a new nation were intellectual elites, the educated inheritors of The Renaissance and products of the Early Modern Age. They were able to create a new government because they were experts in government, educated in war and politics and science and religion and economics and social structures and all the hundreds of other things it takes to build a nation instead of tear one down.

Unlike their foolish descendants, the Founders knew that liberty and democracy and good government take far more than shallow patriotism.

Good government takes intellect, education, experience, curiosity, and a willingness to surround leadership with expert advice and support.

More than anything, it takes the cultivation of intelligence instead of pandering to the lowest common denominator.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

PAC Politics

"Stay tuned, but now a word from the sponsor" --- the despicable political advertising condoned by the Supreme Court. The Founding Fathers obviously anticipated ungodly sums of money being raised by corporations and unions for political PACs so elections can be bought and sold by these "people" whose first amendment rights would otherwise be violated. Or at least I guess that is the Court's interpretation.

And to think we are just seeing the tip of the Super PAC iceberg in this Presidential election cycle. The Republican primaries are appalling enough (both in terms of content and political advertising). Just wait until the REAL election gets underway.

The American electorate is electronic media addicted; broadcast emails, streaming video, Tweets, YouTube, network and cable TV. Outside sleep and work, "video consumption" is the #1 activity, or, if written, preferably 140 characters or less please. Robocalls are part of the political media bombardment. Sound bites over substance.

When motivational research was being pioneered by the likes of Ernest Dichter and James Vicary in the 1950s and popularized by Vance Packard in his Hidden Persuaders, little did they know that some of those principles would become part of a giant advertising machine aimed at buying elections. Advertising 101: sell the emotion, not the pragmatic benefit of the product.

And, so in this political season, we're selling religion, and all the emotions that are attached to the same (and in a negative way, not the way it was used in WW II advertising to spur solidarity and sacrifice):

But the real selling job is just getting underway. Sell fear. Just wait until the Super P's roll out their shadowy images of their opponent bathed in a light to look like Jack the Ripper.

The firestorm unleashed by the misogynist "entertainer" Rush Limbaugh regarding Sandra Fluke's testimony to Congress fits the bill as well. Talk show radio is just another media circus of highly charged emotional invectives. This elaborate infomercial is then recycled on the Internet, passing for fact. No sense commenting on vile Limbaugh as the definitive word was posted by Jim Wright over at Stonekettle Station in his recent The Absurdity of Rush Limbaugh. But while Limbaugh's blather has led to some lost advertisers (probably temporarily), the Gingrich "Winning our Future" Super PAC signed on for more advertising! Way to go to win our future!

It is no wonder that a society that consumes movies that are more computer animated than acted, and cannot live without 24/7 video is a perfect target for Super PAC persuasion. Just fork over the bucks and try to buy an election! Sanctioned by the Supreme Court, the same folks who "sponsored" the results of the 2000 presidential election.