Friday, September 7, 2012

Democratic National Convention – Day 3 - TGTO!

TGTO – Thank God They’re Over! The two conventions, that is.

Whew! My bullshit meter needs at least a short rest. Okay, so I’m being cynical. But, hey – this is my blog and I can express my opinions as I see fit to do. If you want to dispute me, my comments are open, feel free – remember, “freedom of speech?”

So, I caught a tiny bit of John Kerry. That caused me to tune out for a while. I missed Gabby Gifford leading the Pledge of Allegiance. For that, I’m sorry. Fortunately, I did see it in reruns. From my perspective, that was one of the most inspirational moments of both conventions. I have nothing but respect and admiration for that woman, no matter her politics.

Now, here’s the thing. My bullshit meter was just working overtime throughout Big Joe’s rants and the President’s recap of his “I have a dream of Hope and Change” promises speech of four years ago. Yes! He told of his many wondrous achievements, which only represented a minority of the hope and change dreams – and unfortunately, many of them weren’t necessarily popular or by consensus. But, that’s okay because, he achieved them.

We were reminded by Big Joe that “Osama bin Laden is Dead and GM is Alive” throughout the convention and again last night. I don’t want to go there. And, of course, I’m sure Mr. Obama is expecting another Nobel Peace prize for saying, “Do it!” Although, I don’t give him as much credit as he may feel he’s due. This action was long overdue and should have happened way sooner, even before he became Commander in Chief. Unfortunately, our intelligence system was broken. Some might liken their operations to the Keystone Cops. If there had been a working cooperative system there would have been no Osama bin Laden in the first place because he would have been gone long before 911, therefore, it’s likely there never would have been a 911 and hence, no occasion for the current CinC to give the “Do it” command.

But, I digress, which I am wont to do. I heard nothing of substance that gave me anymore confidence or reason to re-elect the incumbent. Because, in my view, his failures outnumbered his achievements doesn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy. When Wild Bill Clinton professed that even he couldn’t have fixed the damaged country in four years nor could any of his predecessors, I said so what. But, based on that, we should give Mr. Obama an A for effort and give him four more years. He gave no concrete ideas of how he’s going to use the next four years any better then the first four and there were subtle hints that the spending wasn’t going to be curbed and that there would be no improvement to the national debt, but a good likelihood it would increase even further. Well, that just really made the BS meter go off its scale.

It was stated last night by the network commentators covering the convention that Mr. Obama had already seen the jobs numbers report that would be released to the public this morning. So, he knew what was coming. In fact, when the numbers came out this morning there were a lot less new jobs then projected and something like 385,000 people dropped off the unemployment ranks and were no longer looking for jobs. The unemployment rate dropped – from 8.3% to 8.1%. What a grand opportunity for the incumbent’s campaign organization to get the Obama top out and start the spin.

What I love is that the 385,000 are just magically considered as no longer unemployed. Duh! Of course they’re still unemployed – it’s just that they ran out of unemployment benefits so are dropped from the unemployment ranks as far as the unemployment insurance and Dept. of Labor are concerned. They are still unemployed and through frustration have stopped, temporarily or permanently, looking for employment when there is none to be had. Again, my BS meter was working overtime, yet, again. So, this “faux” measure of unemployment supposedly makes the president look good? Wait a minute – he promised a 5.4% unemployment rate. Darn! If they just hadn’t expanded the unemployment insurance benefits for all that extra time, all those people would have dropped off the list – though still unemployed – and maybe the president would have had a faux 5.4% number he could have flaunted. Oh well, opportunity missed. Let’s get whatever spin we can, huh? That’s the politicians’ way.

I could go on and on, but there’s no real reason to. I’m made the point of my position. I’m still an undecided voter – and at the rate things are going, I may be undecided on Election Day and simply flip a coin. Oh, why would I say that, I must be a Romney-Ryan supporter. Well, you’d be wrong. The fact is neither ticket or party has impressed or inspired me.

I caught a few sound bites this morning as I was surfing between Fox, CNN, MSNBC and HLN – yep, I check them all – and I catch PBS and Public TV when I can. I also read feeds from the NYTimes and the Washington Post. The various morning anchors were interviewing members of the Romney-Ryan campaign about what Romney is going to do on specific questions. How is he going to address and solve the problems that exist and were glossed over, yet again, last night. Not one direct, straight or lucid response came from any of the Romney people. I guess both parties hire Political Science graduates who emphasized campaign BS, double-speak and talk around. In other words, it sounds the same whether you’re listening to a Democratic Party or Republican Party campaign spokes person.

Now, that brings me back to all the minions of fringe speakers at both conventions. I really didn’t watch many of them and I noted the few that I did and my impressions. My impression of these people is that they are what we called the “Rah-Rahs” in high school and college. They are the cheerleaders. They’re job is to come in front of the convention delegates and TV viewing audience and instill “school spirit.” We’re going to win this football game despite the fact that we have a lousy coach, a losing quarterback, an offensive line that could hold back a group of kindergarten kids and a defense that couldn’t stop even a mediocre offense if they were threatened with water boarding.

The “Rah-Rahs” come out with their tearful sob stories telling everyone how the candidates changed their lives and their world and solved problems that haven’t even been dreamt up, yet. They tell how crappy the opponent is and do everything they can to denigrate the opposition whether what they say is materially factual or not. In show biz this is called the “warm-up” acts. Get the audience worked up to such a degree that even if the main speaker spoke gibberish, they’d still go wild.

This technique has been used throughout history and there are many powerful examples of it. One of the greatest users of these techniques in recent history was an Austrian house painter in Germany. No, I’m not comparing either of the two candidates with this heinous monster. I’m simply saying that the speaking and rallying techniques are essentially the same. And, I shouldn’t forget the exceptional and extremely expensive special effects and the variety of entertainment inserted to keep everyone “high.”

I mentioned Amway rallies in my post, yesterday. These same, virtually identical techniques were used at these rallies. That’s why I’m not sure if this is a chicken and egg situation – did the Amway folks learn this from politicians or did the politicians learn it from the Amway folks. Since politicians have been around for many more years then Amway, I’d suggest that Amway were the followers.

So, at the end of these two weeks I still know little more about how either of these two pairs of candidates are going to lead government to make the country, it’s citizens and me any better. I have heard lots of hopes, dreams, talk about change and flaming generalities. But, nothing I can take to the bank. Was I expecting to? No! Oh my, that’s cynical again, isn’t it? But, it’s reality. It’s like going to any motivational program. I’ve been to plenty of them. I’ve worked at them. I know a number of the well-known motivational speakers. You go in expecting your life to be changed. While you’re there you get higher then a kite and by Monday, you’re right back where you were before you went – or even lower.

I’ve watched people empty their wallets and run up their credit card bills buying hundreds and even thousands of dollars of cassette/CD/DVD/book products, more expensive seminars and training programs and whatever else they could get their hands on at these events. It’s the way it works. TV evangelists convince people to send in their life savings. Political candidates get people to finance their lavish campaign expenditures. Motivational speakers guarantee you’re life will absolutely be changed for the better forever if you buy their “stuff.”

It was at the original Charlotte Coliseum at an Amway rally I was recording that I watched a “supposed” evangelist from Bourbon Street in New Orleans sell 1,000 sets of his six cassette package at $200.00 per set. He sold them out in 20 minutes. That was $200,000.00 in 20 minutes. A year or so later I came across a set of those cassettes that a friend had (I didn’t ask how that person acquired them or how much they paid, if they bought them). I listened to them. They were short programs – probably about two hours worth of material cut to fit six short cassettes. The recording quality was poor at best. The content was basically what the people at the Amway rally heard when he presented there. The packaging was cheap and shoddy. Now, remember, I was in the recording and tape duplication business at that time and I was producing these kinds of products for all kinds of speakers. This was an obscene travesty. Even I couldn’t justify it as a supplier to that industry.

So, am I cynical? You bet! I’ve watched this. I had my production company in Washington, DC for about seven years during the 70’s. My clients included the U.S. government, lobbying organizations, advertising agencies handling political campaigns and large evangelistic, religious organizations, among others. Been there. Done that. Seen most of it. So, now we’ll have 60 more days of rhetoric and BS, mostly without substance. I have no horse in this race. But, one thing I can count on – no matter which way the election goes – we’ll have four more years . . .   

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