14 September 2006

Unlimited Terms of Endearment Part XVI: Howie's Bad Week

It's been a tough couple of weeks for the friends of Howard Rich. Nevada's Supreme Court gutted one initiative and tossed the other one out. The Oklahoma Supreme Court threw out their SOS petitions based on fraud and other improprieties. Missouri closed the book on SOS Missouri. The Michigan State Canvassing Board voted unanimously to toss out the SOS petitions for various improprieties. The Montana court threw out their petitions. And, in Nebraska, the Secretary of State's office found that there weren't enough valid signatures to qualify the Terry Schiavo initiative.

You have a week like that, and you just want to stay in bed with the curtains drawn for a couple of days, at least.

But it's hard to feel all that sorry for them. Because, with the exception of the two fellows in Michigan who might be relatives of the Americans for Limited Government Board, or other, interrelated boards, none of the friends of Howie Rich are affected by the passage or lack of passage of their cabal-concocted "magic bullet" cures for what they have diagnosed.

As Howie told that Oregonian reporter in Chicago: "It's all about the ideology."

Still, they ARE out a few million dollars' worth of uninvited agitating, and, given their mutual worship of the almighty dollar, right now that's got to hurt. We can take a measure of schadenfreude at the agony their wallet nerve must be in right now. I would imagine that it's a sort of sciatica of the money clip, and all the Tylenol in the world can't do anything to assuage that aching.

If you know how it feels when you are shown millions of dollars in a movie, and you realize that you are actually worried about it (it got burned, exploded, etc.) even though you KNOW intellectually that it doesn't actually exist, well, if you know that feeling, just put an exponent on it, and you probably have a pretty good idea of how they feel: people who are devoted to money feel intense pain at the unreimbursed loss of that money -- even if it's not their money to begin with, which is a distinct possibility.

There is something fundamentally creepy, frankly, about this unending welter of mystery groups with their shadowy backers that is, first of all, fundamentally antithetical to any conception of 'democracy,' and, finally, Machiavellian in the pejorative sense.

The simple morality of the fundamentalist would classify it as clearly "evil."

All through this one realizes that these people believe in what they are doing. But somewhere along the line, they decided that honesty and openness weren't as important as the 'work' they were doing, and, if needs be, they had to lie people into the truth, and manipulate them into freedom.

It has been a constant irony that their rhetoric invariably decries the "privileged" and the "special interests" when they themselves are nothing if not privileged scions with their own ideological special interests.

Howie Rich loves his pig, and they parade it around. The pig has been sighted in New York, in Michigan, in Montana -- parked outside the courthouse where Montanans in Action were denying any connection to Howie Rich -- in Colorado, where it seems to have evolved from a wooden horse (Trojan horse, get it?) after the friends of Howie Rich realized that most voters probably had no idea what the wooden horse represented, and even less idea of what that might mean.

Thus, the pig, even though "capitalist pig" would seem the easiest slur to throw in a mud-slinging campaign, and they, themselves most vulnerable to that slur.

There is a new website up, that was registered on September the 11th, Monday. It's called http://www.howierichexposed.com and the information about the Trojan horses of Howie Rich is a new piece of data on that website that I hadn't known before then. I have no idea who they are -- I'll googlemonkey it out one day, soon -- but I did immediately run a WHOIS on them:
Ballot Initiative Strategy Center
1025 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 216
Washington, DC 20036


Administrative Contact:
Griswold, Oliver oliver@****
1025 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 216
Washington, DC 20036

Technical Contact:
Administrator, DNS admin@****
8520 National Blvd.
Suite A
Culver City, CA 90232

Registrar of Record: TUCOWS, INC.
Record last updated on 11-Sep-2006.
Record expires on 11-Sep-2007.
Record created on 11-Sep-2006.

(I've cut out some of the boring stuff).
There are some minor errors, but all in all it's an impressive website. On one of the pages, the Governor of Montana is featured in a windows media video clip, challenging Howie Rich to a debate. He's standing at a lectern, shot facing three quarters left. Behind him on the state capitol steps a crowd stands, holding up their VOTE NO signs, etc. And then ... but first this FLASHBACK:
12 July 2006
Unlimited Terms of Endearment Part III,
Under A Western Sky

There used to be a commercial that enjoyed quite a lot of success here in the West: A group of cowboys is hunkered down around a campfire, eating chili, and someone pulls out his jar of salsa. The most grizzled old cowpoke tells the cowboy to read the label. "New York City," the cowboy reads.

And all the cowboys exclaim in horror: "NEW YORK CITY!!?!"

And the governor of Montana, in that videoclip, says "now there's a big shot in New York City ..."

And the crowd yells, with great vigor: "NEW YORK CITY!!?!"

Laughter. (Warning, if you download it, turn your volume down on his opening because the crowd's exclamation of mock-horror is loud enough to overamp your speakers).

And that's another bad thing that happened to Howie Rich this week. Howierichexposed.com is a well put-together website, and they say nice things about me, but that doesn't influence my evaluation. I'm just making full disclosure here. I have had no contact with them.

Sandlapper's leave-no-stone-unturned reporting on DailyKos remains brilliant and he posts with great regularity. And Becky at Preemptive Karma sticks with the story when anything breaks. And the number of sites and news stories focusing in on Mr. "I don't do interviews" (or debates, evidently) must also be extremely uncomfortable to Mr. Rich.

So, I don't think that there's much doubt that it's been a rough couple of weeks for Howie Rich -- who is invariably identified as the Svengali of the operation, even though it seems apparent that he has nowhere enough personal wealth to be doing this alone. One of my contacts tells me that none of it is actually Howie's money but I have no independent confirmation of that, even though the source has proved extremely reliable in the past.

But there seems to be a growing and truly grass-roots revulsion for a Rich New York landlord waltzing into our states and telling us what we have to do, and interfering with our state constitutions and the whole clockwork mechanism of government. It is a perfectly understandable revulsion, the fundamental perception is primal: this ain't your tree, don't mess with our bananas, bub.

Or, as so eloquently voiced by the good citizens of Montana on THEIR own capitol steps: "NEW YORK CITY!!?!"

Too bad it's dead in Montana now. I'd have enjoyed watching that debate if Howie'd been man enough to accept the very reasonable and justified challenge of coming and explaining to the citizens of the state he was messing in why he wanted to mess with their state.

But now, I'd imagine he's probably in bed.

With the shades drawn.

Tough week if you're a friend of Howie Rich.


12 September 2006

The Fertile Gardens of Liberty

being a dog is RUFF!

I don't know how hypnotized or how stupid they have to be to have witnessed the pageant (as in that line from the movie "Wag The Dog": 'Think of it as a pageant') yesterday, and then have watched the Prime Time Speech by Bush and not notice the thousand-pound gorilla in the room.

But that's OK. The media haven't gotten it all along. Politics used to be about emotional "hot-button" issues and debates. The debates weren't always the most elevated, true. But there was actual debate.

But -- and I spent fifteen years in Hollywood watching it -- media is about appealing to the reptile brain, you know, hot-looking-girl equals chewing gum. So your reptile brain has been conditioned, like Pavlov's dog, and when you see the chewing gum, you think of that hot-looking-girl, and you buy the chewing gum. And in a strange way, the reptile brain -- or your instinctual brain, or your 'fight or flight' brain -- has been satisfied about the hot-looking-girl.

There are fifteen references to "Nine-Eleven," "September the 11th" and 9/11 in the speech.

The whole day has been about 9/11. The debate has raged about a 9/11 documentary, er, docudrama, er, crockumentary, er whatever on TV.

Americans preferred NFL opening weekend, which is ironic, considering that this whole cycle of post-Vietnam wars began in 1983, when breaking news about Lebanon and Grenada always seemed to happen during the halftime of NFL football games. The George HW Bush Panama invasion a few years later happened during bowl season, and halftime was a series of special reports on the Panama "crisis" and subsequent invasion.

That next Super Bowl, somehow, the halftime show, the Boy Scouts, the U.S. military, Whitney Houston, and George and Barbara Bush were seamlessly interwoven in a montage that still leaves me breathless when I think of it. Hot dogs, Mom, Apple Pie and Chevrolet. It was perfect from a propaganda art point of view. And nary a comment on it in the media.

This gum is what that hot-chick-who-kisses-the-hot guy chews. Or maybe he chews it. Doesn't matter. They eat that stuff up in Sweet Home, Oregon. You can find the gum in Tualatin and Tigard, in Clackamas and Pendleton and Madras and Boring. It's even in Irrigon, Oregon, but that hot chick lives somewhere in Santa Monica, California. But, while your rational mind -- the one that debates and thinks about issues -- knows, KNOWS this, the reptile brain is now firmly convinced that the hot chick is somehow embedded in that pack of gum. And so the reptile brain will want that gum whenever it sees it. The conditioning has neatly bypassed the cognitive mind entirely.

And, worse, we're conditioned to ACCEPT the conditioning from childhood. I don't need to further explain. You know how commercials work. You sneer at that stupid commercial. Yeah. Right: The gum DOES NOT equal the hot chick.

But when you see the gum, you think of the commercial, sneer at the conditioning, and yet buy the gum. And, as we walk out of the store, we tell ourselves: "Who do those advertisers think they're dealing with? Hah!" But you also think: "OK. This gum is kinda cool. It's not like that old 'squirt' gum or poprocks, though. Gee. I wonder whatever happened to Fizzies?"

And, as presently constituted, we don't so much have a government as an advertising campaign.

There are no hot button issues anymore: just hot buttons. As in "push their buttons."

It's conditioning, and it's supplanted debate. The news cycles broadcast the message to the reptilian brain, and not one smart reporter monkey seems to notice the thousand-pound gorilla in the room last night. They still think it's about debate. And so the conditioning message goes out even through the "smart' reporter monkeys. The Bushies realize that it's not thoughts that matter -- although they will fight with an almost feral intensity if you alter their words, euphemistically called "talking points."

It's not the "Estate Tax" (its legal name) it's the "Death Tax." It's not "redeploy over the horizon," it's "Cut and Run." It's "The War On Terror" and "I'm a war president." (That last is certainly true in a tragic sense that its speaker never seems to quite understand.) It's now "Islamo-fascists," where before it was whatever-it-was-before.

These Bushies are as addicted to their phraseology as they are to bad pulp prose, evidently.

The 9/11/2006 speech featured perhaps the worst purple prose ever included in a presidential address, a new low in the history of White House rhetoric:
At the start of this young century, America looks to the day when the people of the Middle East leave the desert of despotism for the fertile gardens of liberty, and resume their rightful place in a world of peace and prosperity.
As a professional writer, lo, these thirty years, I can only say: GAAAAACK!! Criminy that's dreadful. "The desert of despotism"? Perhaps the speechwriter meant "the DESSERT of despotism," I don't know, like, maybe just desserts, or else some fancy pastry that dictators have after their entree. It's hard to make sense of a metaphor that nails-on-a-blackboardy.

Listen to this rhetorical monstrousity that was read last night by a straight-faced -- and potentially sober -- George W. Bush:
Since the horror of 9/11, we've learned a great deal about the enemy. We have learned that they are evil and kill without mercy -- but not without purpose. We have learned that they form a global network of extremists who are driven by a perverted vision of Islam -- a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent.
Without passing judgment on the truthfulness of the proposition, it is EXECRABLE writing. Sax Rohmer wouldn't have stuck it in any Fu Manchu novel, nor would Lester Dent have used it in a Doc Savage book. Johnston McCully would have excised it from any Zorro novella and Edgar Rice Burroughs wouldn't have CONSIDERED putting it into a Tarzan novel, or even in his Mars series.

All right, now we can pass judgment on the "truthiness" of the proposition: it's B.S. For months, Bush has been explaining the ideology and philosophy of the "Terrorists" (or whatever they're called this week). And there is zero doubt that he is wrong. The only entity who holds the precise beliefs that Bush continually prates on about is Satan, and he's mythical -- at least as far as foreign policy should be conducted.

It doesn't matter that it's purple prose and bad pulp villain motivation. It's conditioning as it's meant to be conditioning, and so it works just like that gum-- and by negation, as well.

Them bad; we good. I: we. Therefore, I good. (to paraphrase Alley Oop).

I mean, I doubt that Bush could explain his OWN political philosophy. I am not about to take him at his word about what Osama bin Laden's political philosophy is. And, of course, George MUST now expand the franchise. If Osama died, he wouldn't have a franchise any more.

Technically, he was given the authority to go and "git" Osama bin Laden. This, he has not done. Meantime, they've consolidated huge chunks of the government under the rubric of "Homeland Security." And, while no one seemingly was watching, they've consolidated all the intelligence agencies under one Super Intelligence agency, of which John Negroponte is "czar."

And all to fight ... well, EVIL.

Because that's what's continually pounded into our heads: the "terrorists" are evil. No one can dispute it. The "Al Qaeda" is evil. Ditto. (But, alas, and increasingly, dittoheads ditto.)

Somehow we were back fighting World War Two again, last night, and George even mentioned some of his predecessors -- usually a bad sell on his part unless he's talking about Millard C. Fillmore or Warren G. Harding. Still, conditioning IS conditioning, and it doesn't hurt to try. If they do it long enough and hard enough, even I might actually believe that he's an American president -- although I doubt it, frankly. Conditioning has its limits.

They've plowed the fertile graveyard of 9/11 for five years now, and for his speech to the nation, one need not have been surprised that it would be about George W. Bush's wants and needs, rather than the nation's wants and needs. There was no doubt that the speech would be about What George Wants. (I mean, there are people in New York still so aggrieved and grieving about 9/11 that they stood for hours in the still unfilled hole of 9/11 and listened to what was, in effect, a dramatic reading of the phone book of a small town of 3,000. Surely the speech would be about them, right? No: if you thought that, you must have just fallen of the watermelon truck, to use the awkward 'folksie' colloquialism that Mommy and Daddy Bush love so well).

Let's put it this way:

George W. Bush finished up a two-day "Nine-Eleven" marathon by flying from New York to Pennsylvania back to Washington D.C. and gave a Prime Time Address on the subject, seemingly of "Nine-Eleven."

Fifteen times did he reference it in the speech. Go to the whitehouse web site and you can watch the streaming video and download the official transcript AND you get not one, not two, but THREE bonus 9/11 references (Heck Aunt Nancy, there's even a "Remembering 9/11" special page with photo essays and video and all kindsa stuff! It's at http://www.whitehouse.gov/september11/ as if you couldn't guess.)

Two days of flying and praying and God blessing us, from the Oval Office, in Prime Time on the Fifth Anniversary of Nine Eleven George W. Bush managed to conflate Iraq and Nine Eleven again.

After two weeks of "Saddam Hussein didn't have anything to do with 9/11" from Bush, from Cheney, the Republican-chaired Senate Intelligence Committee. Iraq does not equal Nine-Eleven. (Condoleeza Rich didn't seem to have gotten the memo. Or perhaps some conditionings are harder to break than others).

At least he didn't say anything about the "Islamo-fascists."

Then I'da been askeered fer sure.

Bush yet again conflated 9/11 with Iraq. And the media seems to have gotten right up out of their chairs, walked to the corner grocery and bought the gum.

This is LITERALLY pandering to the "basest instincts of mankind." The fear instinct is the most basic instinct of all, trumping all others, save the maternal instinct (which has a lot of projected fear associated with it. The maternal instinct realizes that it's fearing for more than one, after all).

I will not mention that the technically precise definition of "terrorism" is:
n. The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons. [The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, 2004.]
Er, whoops.

But, alas for the Bush, America was watching something else: After all, this WAS the premiere of Monday Night Football on ESPN after 35 years on ABC, and it was the first Monday Night Double-Header. The Redskins Vikings game was tied 16-16 in the middle of the fourth quarter and was decided by a kick with virtually no time remaining.

You live by the halftime, you die by the halftime.

I guess they were so busy re-conditioning us that Iraq equals 9/11 that they forgot that one.

I wonder what kind of gum they chew?


11 September 2006


Staaay the COOOOURSE!

Well, we're in the middle of the Nuremberg rallies in furtherance of the "Staying The Course" thing. They've scheduled spectacles in New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C. and a National Prime Time Address tonight, following the huge quasi-religious/quasi-state rallies in New York City.

They're going to squeeze every last drop of blood from the Nine-Eleven turnip. We're going to honor the dead by STAYING THE COURSE.
Now we are engaged in a great War On Terror. . .testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated. . . can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war.

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a monument for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate. . .we cannot consecrate. . . we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men and women, living and dead, who perished here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here -- unless they buy the DVD -- but it can never forget what they did here.

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

God Bless you. God Bless America. (Pssst. Where do we fly to next?)
Of course, no one has ever figured out what the course is -- which is now "Adapt and Win," which seems to mean that we should change course so that we can stay the course, of course. (Even if that means tacking as madly and rapidly as ... well, we already are. Heh heh.)

And nobody ever strays the course, of course.
That is, of course, unless the course is the famous ... er ...
Of course, Leni Riefenstahl's "The Triumph of the Shill" has been running on ABC (opposite NFL football's opening weekend, oddly enough). and Il Bushe will be delivering a "Prime Time Address" neatly folded into the middle of "Der Path to Nine-Uh-Lebbin!"
Stay The Course!
Stay The Course!
Stay The Course!
Hell, even old Joe Goebbels never thought of premiering the Leni Riefenstahl film in the MIDDLE of the Nuremberg Rallies.

It's damned peculiar that Osama bin Hidin' (nee bin Laden) would release a special Bush Campaign video (like his 'endorsement' of John Kerry in 2004 just oddly coincided with the Bush Campaign then) this week, just to bolster how much we all REALLY hate him, and are REALLY afraid of him, and, er ... Nine-Uh-Lebbin!
Somehow, I don't think that most Americans are that goddamned stoooopid.

But I could be wrong. (It wouldn't be the first time.)

Anyway, since the only thing that the Bushies seem to know how to do is campaign, let's all sit back and enjoy the multimedia spectacle they've put together for their latest advertising campaign, their last stolen electoral hurrah!

Wow. Leni AND Nuremberg.

RADIO: "President Bush, and First Lady Laura Bush stood in the rain without umbrellas, to remember the passengers of Flight 93 ..." (That's verbatim from my headphones ...)

George is flying around today almost as much as he did on Nine-Uh-Lebben! He's flying here, he's flying there. He's bringin Wreaths and Wretoric! He's whirlwind campaignin' like he did on the last day of the 2004 election.
(Whoops. Sorry! Hope he don't ketch cold. 'Course, we always DID say that boy don't have the sense to come in outta the rain.)

The difference this time is only that he DOESN'T seem so much like a chicken-with-his-head-cut-off.

A chickenhawk, more like.*

But what happened to the memory of 9/11 that I share with my countrymen? The shared national experience, the American History that we hold, collectively?

Er, when you're done with it, George, could we borrow it back -- for maybe a day?

[*Oh damn! When Dan Rather proved that, he was fired, retired and erased from collective memory. Pray with me, friends, that this blog still exists tomorrow. Gitmo, here we come!]