Thursday, April 10, 2003

May 21, 2003

VOTER MANIPULATION WITH THE AID OF TELEVISION HAS THE CAPABILITY OF DESTROYING DEMOCRACY --- It is becoming more and more apparent that the Bush administration has attained an extraordinary level of proficiency in tightly controlling the President's image.  His handlers go to great lengths to portray him in the most favorable light possible.  They are aware that the vast majority of Americans do not study the issues but arrive at their opinions largely through news snippets on their television screen.  The remote control device is the viewer's defense against boredom.  Lengthy political discourse by learned talking heads is of interest to only a small percentage of Americans. 

Bush and Cheney have enlisted an extremely savvy group of advisors.   Aware of the love affair Americans have with the macho image of the cowboy, the President is frequently photographed outdoors wearing western boots that remind viewers of his Texas connection. Although he has never been in combat or served in any war zone, President Bush attracted widespread publicity when he flew as a passenger in a Navy fighter plane that landed on an aircraft carrier. Unlike such former Presidents as Jimmy Carter, who often was seen wearing a homely cardigan sweater, when George Bush makes a formal address on television his suit,shirt and tie are carefully color coordinated and his overall appearance creates an aura of decisiveness and authority.

Virtually every speech made by the President is designed, not to honestly inform, but to manipulate his audience.  He has no hesitancy in justifying the direction he wants to take the country by saying, without any factual basis, that his program is what "the American people" demand.  In recognition of the limited attention span of his audience, he repeats the same phrases over and over again. His messages are frequently punctuated by buzz words such as "weapons of mass destruction" and pious platitudes like "God bless America." 

As one who has been a life long Democrat, and by most standards a liberal one at that, I am of course vulnerable to the charge that my criticism of the Bush/Cheney strategy is little more than sour grapes. It is possible I am motivated by an element of jealousy. But I am moved by much more than that. When former President Dwight D. Eisenhower left office he warned Americans of the growing influence of the Military Industrial Complex. He was concerned that the greed of the munitions makers could lead the nation into war. I believe Eisenhower's worry remains extremely relevant today.  It is my opinion that the proliferation of new weaponry tied in with large campaign contributions made to the Republican party played a not insignificant role in the decision of the Bush administration to invade Iraq.

I do not rermember any President in my lifetime being so in thrall of the nation's wealthy. The record is undeniable.  The Bush administration has bestowed benefits upon the petroleum industry while ignoring energy conservation, relaxed regulations protecting public land, rejected international air quality controls, and prioritized the prosperity of business interests over our country's need to put in place an affordable health care system  for all our citizens.

How is our democratic system threatened by all this?  The answer is readily apparent.  The major information provider in our country is its system of paid television.  It is extremely expensive for a candidate to purchase advertising time on tv.  When Bush tilts our national government to favor big business, he expects and is rewarded by a quid pro quo.  It is widely believed that Bush beat Gore in Florida because of voting irregularities. While this was a factor, the main reason behind Bush's national victory was money.  According to the Federal Election Commission, Republicans raised 715 million dollars in the 2000 campaign while Democrats raised 528 million dollars.  This spread of nearly 200 million gave Republican candidates an immense advantage in a close election and was the major reason why we have a Republican President and a Republican Congress.

George Bush is now about to embark on a fund-raising journey across the nation. His supporters hope he will raise as much as 200 million.  His success in pushing through Congress a 350 billion dollar tax cut favoring the very rich should make this objective easily realizeable. He will most certainly have a formidable head start over whoever emerges from the Democratic prirmaries. The financial advantage held by Republicans over Democrats will very likely be much greater in 2004 than it was in 2000. 

What we know is that money buys television and that in a very real sense television is the prime ingredient for electoral success. As the money gap between the parties and their candidates widens, the democratic process becomes increasingly distorted. The McCain-Feingold law, designed to control campaign expenditures, is under attack in the courts and its impact is yet to be determined. In the meanwhile, George Bush, under the tutelage of his crafty and cynical brain trust, is making a great deal of hay while the sun shines. 

Vince ---  urges you to open your individual wallet and support the candidate of your choice.

April 20, 2003

MY REVISED IMPRESSION OF THE MEXICAN CHARACTER --- Yes, I abjectly confess that as a boy growing up in the 1930's, I was influenced by cowboy movies depicting lazy Mexicans who would never do today what they could do manana.  While their northern neighbors were portrayed  as men of action, Mexicans were seen in their sombreros,  snoozing under a tree.

 Having but this day returned from Cabo San Lucas at the southern tip of the Baja peninsula, I wish to now report that this characterization is false.  I stayed at a most pleasant resort that was beautifully landscaped.  When the temperature reached the high eighties, causing me to retreat to the swimming pool or my air conditioned room, Mexican men on the hotel staff were unceasingly at work removing weeds and tending to the flowering shrubs.  Others were out on the ocean instructing American tourists how to pull in game fish.  Their skill and alacrity made the difference between a big catch and an all day boat ride. I would be amiss if I failed to praise the Mexican women who cheerfully made up the rooms while we hotel guests were at play.

So, my Mexican amigos, I apologize on behalf of all American tourists for these false characterizations.  You have my sincere respect and friendship.

Vince --- con agradecimiento

April 10, 2003

LIBERALISM --- There was a time in America when being referred to as a liberal" was considered a compliment. After all, Franklin D. Roosevelt, while despised by a strident minority, was elected four times to the office of President and his implemenation of an array of governmentally financed social programs caused him to be greatly admired by millions who were suffering from the great depression. He was thought of as a liberal as was his successor, Harry S. Truman who unsuccessfully championed a national health insurance program. With the exception of William Jefferson Clinton, Republicans have occupied the White House ever since Ronald Reagan ended Jimmy Carter's presidency. Republican success has been made possible by the infusion of tremendous sums of money flowing from corporations and other wealthy special interests into the coffers of conservative Republican candidates. There has been a quid pro quo. Republicans in office have in turn backed programs tending to reverse the social gains made under prior Democratic administrations. For example, with the aid of monies from the insurance and health care lobbies, Clinton's badly needed proposal to provide medical care for all citizens was torpedoed by cleverly produced negative television advertising. Liberals in government have been ridiculed as wimps and until recently as Communist sympathizers. But have the Republicans and their well heeled contributors gone too far? Has excessive executive compensation in the face of a stock market decline and massive job layoffs aroused resentment among the voters? Are the links between high level officials in the Bush administration and petroleum interests attracting attention? Is the widening gap between the super-rich and the poor and middle class no longer tolerable to right thinking citizens? America cannot long occupy the role of world leader if greed continues to be our highest national value. George Bush ran on the fraudulent promise that he was a "compassionate conservative." Early indications indicate there are a number of progressive minded Democratic candidates seeking their party's nomination for the office of President. Indications are that the word "liberal" will once again regain its respectability.

April 9,2003

BULLIES IN MOTOR VEHICLES PROLIFERATE --- Have you noticed that more cars and trucks are tailgating than was the case just a few years ago. I think it is due to a number of factors which I shall list, not necessarily in order of priority. Television advertisements feature high horsepower automobiles careening around curving, narrow roads at great speed. To be looked upon as the owner of such a machine is touted as a source of justifiable pride. It is essentially about power. This sense of supremacy over other motorists is heightened if the vehicle is not only fast but large and imposing. A curious development is the fact that more and more young women seem motivated to drive recklessly on expressways, whether they tailgate or pass you at 80 miles an hour in a tiny Hundai or an imposing SUV. Where did this unpleasant character trait come from? Does this aggression remain with them after they exit their vehicle or is it only apparent when they are behind the wheel? The other menace on the road is of course the tradional macho redneck in a pickup truck that is built "like a rock." He would not be seen dead in a compact car. The prospects for highway sanity are bleak. Ever since the war with Iraq has been underway, large sums of TV advertising is spent on promoting the "Hummer." For those unfamiliar with the ad, this machine is a squat, ugly and squared SUV. It resembles a military vehicle and appears to be as invulnerable as a tank. Buyers of the Hummer will waste little time in going to war with all of us who fail to swerve onto the shoulder upon seeing their approach in the rear-view mirror. Given the national mood, It would be unpatriotic for us to do otherwise.

April 8,2003

AN UNDERLYING LIFE MOTIF --- It has of late been determined that the universe is expanding at whirlwind velocity and is not contracting as was previously believed by our leading scientists. This factoid can be an object lesson for all of us to follow. If such an erudite group can have been so completely wrong about the very foundation of the universe, how many of our other long held beliefs are untrue? As this blog progresses (and I hope it does not stall prematurely),I will try to discuss some changes that seem to the writer to be significant but which have largely escaped widespread notice. It will also be a challenge and a diversion to try to predict what will come but which has not as yet appeared on anyone's radar screen.

CANADIANS HAVE DETERRED GUN VIOLENCE  --- Canadians have always had stronger firearms regulations than the United States.  Since the 1930's, there has been the requirement that all handguns be licensed and registered.  In 1995 a law was enacted mandating the registration of rifles and shotguns as well.  Gun violence in Canada is but a fraction of the carnage that firearms cause in the United States. According to FBI statistics the murder rate with handguns in the United States is 14.5 times the Canadian rate while the murder rate without handguns is roughly equivalent (1.8 times) to that of Canada.  

Why does the National Rifle Association deny that which is patently obvious?  All firearms (which in reality are weapons of mass destruction) should be registered and be distributed only to rational, law-abiding persons who can establish a reason why they should be allowed to own a gun.  A test and a license are needed to lawfully operate a motor vehicle on our public highways.  It is foolhardy for society to require anything less when an individual seeks to possess a device expressly designed to kill.

Wake up America to the falsifications of those who profit from the sale of guns! Tell your Congressman you want greater protection from gun violence.

Vince on target

April 7, 2003

EDUCATING OUR CHILDREN --- All candidates for public office will agree that all our country's schools, whether they be located in a wealthy suburb or an impoverished urban slum, are entitled to be given the resources needed to create a positive learning experience for each and every pupil, No student should be denied the opportunity to thrive and develop in our ever-changing, competitive world. In the past, dollars spent by our national government for education, be it on Head Start for little ones or the G.I. Bill of Rights for veterans, have reaped tremendous benefits for the individual participants and the nation as a whole. Today we face a great disparity in the quality of education available to the haves as compared with those who need it most, the have nots. A strong infusion of monies into impoverished urban and rural schools is urgently required. Yes, a mind is a terrible thing to waste. The solution lies in a reordering of national priorities. Tell President Bush to divert a healthy portion of his proposed 700 billion dollar tax cut, designed mainly to benefit the super rich, into public education. If he were to astonish us all by doing this, he would be going a long way toward fulfilling his thus far ignored campaign pledge to "leave no child behind."

Vince's grandchildren

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