Daily Archives: December 21, 2011
Gingrich Plummets in Polls as Voters Start Remembering Who He Is
Dawning Awareness Threatens Campaign
DES MOINES (The Borowitz Report) – In a development that has imperiled his front-runner status in the Republican presidential race, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has plunged in the polls as voters have begun to remember who he is.
Mr. Gingrich had been surging in recent weeks, but according to pollster Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research institute, “That was before people’s memories of who New Gingrich is started gradually kicking in.”
According to a new poll released today, Mr. Gingrich fared especially poorly among voters who agreed with the statement, “Wait a minute, that guy? He was an enormous dick.”
“Newt Gingrich has got to do something fast to keep people from remembering who he is,” pollster Logsdon said. “He might try growing a moustache or wearing an eye patch, but that might be too little, too late.”
On the ground in Iowa, Gingrich campaign strategists are working overtime to confront the challenge posed by voters remembering who he is, aides to the former House Speaker said today.
According to one campaign source, the Gingrich campaign has begun seeking the support of people with mental disorders and other memory issues that make it hard for them to retain basic information.
“The problem is, most of those people are currently running for President,” the source said.
In other political news, the Romney campaign unveiled a new slogan today: “You’re Out of Other Options.”
Ron Paul’s Big, Red Clown Shoes
Andrew Sullivan over at The Dish made the decision last week to endorse Ron Paul over Jon Huntsman (although, smart conservative that he is, he’s still voting Obama in November). You can read the reasons behind his Paul endorsement here, but it all comes down to Ron Paul being the least crazy of the crazies as well as the belief that Huntsman has zero chance of becoming the nominee.
Well, many Dish readers took exception to Sullivan’s endorsement believing that he erred in choosing the more popular Paul over the pragmatic and more electable Huntsman. The following letter makes the argument well …and it also made me laugh.
While I agree that Paul is far more attractive than the rest of the field, that is damning with the faintest of praise. His problem is still the same – he clings to ideology divorced from reality. If he were to become president and actually governed according to his beliefs, it would be an unmitigated disaster for this country. He would eviscerate the economy and cripple government. At least Romney is just faking his radical beliefs, but Paul, Gingrich, Bachmann, Cain and Perry actually believe that what they advocate for the country makes sense.
True, true and true. But here’s the part I really love.
At first glance, it may seem that Paul is the only person riding in the clown car who is a real human being – a civilized, dress-suited adult, out of place in a tiny car full of face painted fools with curly wigs. But no. Look down at Paul’s shoes: they are red and about 5 sizes too big.
Beautiful and perfectly stated.
I’ve written a number of times that there is much about Paul for one to admire – not the least being one’s sense that the man is in it for his beliefs, so very unlike most politicians who come off as self-serving grifters willing to sell their souls for a pocketful of votes. Not so, Ron Paul. To hear him speak is to understand that his beliefs, all of them, are not for sale at any price.
But it is many of those same beliefs which make Paul unsuitable for the presidency. His apparent unwillingness to moderate some of his more radical policy proposals (e.g. eliminate Dept. of Education/Energy/Health and Human Services, the Federal Aviation Administration, IRS, massive $1 trillion budget cut in the first year, etc.) make Paul a dangerous man.
As that same Dish reader wrote:
I would love to sit down over beers with Paul and talk politics. It would be fun. I’d learn a lot. I’d laugh, I’d cry, I’d be deeply moved. But I don’t what him anywhere near the federal budget. The person I want making tough decisions about what to cut is the only guy in the race with experience doing it: Huntsman. The only person I want navigating the dangerous and murky waters of our relationship with China is the one person with experience doing it: Huntsman.
Yes, do look down at Ron Paul’s shoes. They are red and five sizes too big.
Our rulers don’t care what the people think, they care what the corporations think, after all, the corporations finance our elections, and those politicians who want TV coverage for an election campaign pretty much have to toe their line, with media owners, board members and advertisers heavily invested in war as they are.
The corporations make billions from war, because it’s done in secret, so they can steal as much as they can carry, multimillion dollar salaries for Nuclear Mafia executives, billions in profits for transnational investors. There doesn’t appear to be any accounting for the money, billions routinely disappear since the latest series of wars began with the invasion of Afghanistan, and the Pentagon seems to respond with, “How should we know where it went — you expect us to keep track of all that money?”
Most of our leaders do thump the Bible a lot, babbling this time of year something about a Prince of Peace, but their actions are to invent ways for the wars to continue, including a renewed Cold War arms race, all propaganda all the time. —Jack
Propagandizing for Perpetual War
According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States has appropriated $806 billion for the direct cost of invading and occupying Iraq. Including debt service since 2003, that sum rises to approximately $1 trillion. The White House estimates the number of U.S. military wounded at 30,000; the web site icasualties.org states that U.S. military fatalities from the Iraq war now stand at 4484. It is impossible to estimate precisely the numbers of Iraqi civilian deaths, but they are frequently cited as being in excess of 100,000. There are now around two million internally displaced Iraqis in a country of 30 million inhabitants. As United States armed forces (but not up to 17,000 State Department employees, contractors and mercenaries) leave the country, Iraq is plunging into a sectarian and ethnically-fueled political crisis. Even if it survives that crisis and remains a unitary state, it will almost certainly be pulled closer to the orbit of Iran, our bogeyman du jour.
In view of the crippling costs both human and financial as well as the strategic and moral disaster the invasion of Iraq precipitated, what sort of verdict do you think our leaders – leaders representing a presidential administration ostensibly opposed to the invasion and promising hope and change – bother to offer us? While junketing in Turkey on December 17, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told the press the following:
As difficult as [the Iraq war] was, I think the price has been worth it, to establish a stable government in a very important region of the world.
One’s only reaction to this statement is to blink in disbelief and wonder: is Panetta that stupid, or does he think that we, the supposedly self-governing citizens of this country, are that stupid? The kindest thing one can conclude is that this is some sort of throw-away line intended to provide solace to the families of those killed, or consolation to survivors who were maimed. But that is pretty thin gruel; one imagines those people, and their kin, have formed their own opinions about what happened and do not require a patronizing justification. And, in any case, if it was “worth it,” why shouldn’t we keep doing it, not only in Iraq but all over the world? Perpetual war for stable government, one might call it.
Another explanation that comes to mind is the propaganda aspect of it: some government hacks really do believe if they repeat something over and over, no matter threadbare or false, a large number of people will believe it. Republicans have used this technique for years, and it appears Democrats are well on their way to equaling them in mastering it. It seems to be at least a partially successful tactic: after all the bloodshed and the waste, a plurality of 48 percent of Americans still believes invading Iraq was the right decision, according to a Pew Research survey.
But, as Honest Abe said, you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. That same survey showed 46 percent, almost as many, believed it was the wrong decision. But even here, Panetta’s statement, and countless other ridiculous statements by government officials, are not without their utility. Most of us think of propaganda as brainwashing – as convincing people to believe something they would otherwise disbelieve. But we may underrate another, more subtle, utility of political propaganda.
In one of his wartime essays, George Orwell remarked on some of the patently ridiculous claims of totalitarian propaganda. In his view, the point wasn’t whether it was believable or not; in fact, the more ridiculous the better. The point was that government functionaries got to make the statement knowing full well it was ludicrous; news organizations dutifully printed it as if it were fact; and the public sphere was blanketed with the absurd propagandistic claim. As Orwell said about the goosestep march of totalitarian armies: yes, it looks ridiculous, but you dare not laugh.
That is the underrated objective of false government claims: even when they do not convince, they demoralize. Panetta’s statement will receive respectful coverage in the mainstream media; satraps of the establishment like David Gregory or Bob Schieffer will not argue with him on the Sunday morning talk shows beyond at most a very polite demurral; for all intents and purposes he will get away with it. And no ordinary citizen will ever be in a position to get in his face and tell him he’s shilling for destructive policies that are bankrupting us.
Because that’s how democracy, and truth, work in the United States these days.