What's All This Then?

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Friday, October 20, 2006
 
CAMPAIGNING IN THE MUD

It’s that season of the year again - when we celebrate our democracy and when, for many of us, our emotions are torn in two directions. Pride at our way of life and our system of government - and disgust, at the manner in which candidates vying with each other to be part of that government, try to persuade we the voters to elect them

The disgust is in reaction to what has become probably the number one campaign weapon of the modern age - the "attack ad." Rather than trying to explain to voters why they should vote for a candidate, these are the ads that tell you why you should never ever vote for the candidate’s opponent. Do so at your peril. This a candidate who would open our borders and let anyone in - and who would immediately extend full citizenship rights to all undocumented aliens already here. This is a candidate who voted him/herself huge raises and pensions while voting against increasing the minimum wage and protecting workers pensions. This is a cut and run candidate. This is a lie and die candidate. This candidate is pro torture and for disbanding habeas corpus for ever. This candidate is for extending full rights to terrorists caught in the act of destroying all of us in a single blow. And on and on ad nauseum.

And of course all of the ads are either outright lies or tortured distortions. Whether they’re from a Democratic or Republican candidate. The third party candidates seem able to stay away from such garbage. Maybe because they don’t have the funds to create such ads and buy the air time.

But the worst part of this onslaught of negativity is that it appears to work - or so we are told by political campaign experts. And this says a great deal more about the voting public than about the candidates and their advisors. It says that some of us - enough of us to affect the outcome of an election - are idiots. We can be persuaded to vote against someone because we are being fed lies about them over and over. Witness the defeat of Senator Max Cleland a Vietnam veteran - triple amputee - who was portrayed by his opponent as being "soft" on the war on terror and using television commercials linking his image to pictures of Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Joseph Goebbels would have been proud. Remember his philosophy?
"People will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it."
Even worse than this aspect of election campaigns is what will happen on election day itself. On November 7, 2006, we - the nation that prides itself on being the world’s leading democracy - indeed the epitome of democratic governance - will demonstrate it by turning out in lesser numbers than 138 other nations where citizens are allowed to vote for their government. Togo has a better voter turn out than we do! So does St. Vincent and The Grenadines!!

Of course there may be some small advantage to the thought that the majority of eligible voters who do exercise their franchise are the most responsible of citizens who consider what candidates do and say very carefully before making their decision. But that hopeful thought soon goes out the window when one recalls the outcome of the last two presidential elections.
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Speaking of Democracies - one country that is frequently linked to us because of our shared democratic values, is the nation of Israel - the only democracy in the Middle East. Some have described Israel as being almost a 51st state. Some have suggested that it become our 51st state!!

We could learn some things from Israeli politics - particularly what it is that persuades voters to turn out in proportionally larger numbers than us. They are the 35th highest on the list of voter turn out by country - as opposed to our 139th position.

On the other hand, it seems that Israel is learning from and beginning to emulate us in their politics. They may or may not have an Israeli version of Mark Foley or Bob Ney or Tom DeLay - but they have one politician who makes Bob Packwood look like a rank amateur.

If all the stories about him are true, Israeli President Moshe Katsav could be headed for the hoosegow for his illegal sexual dalliances. Now how much more American can you get than that??

For the moment, Moshe is denying everything - but if/as more information comes out and gets confirmed by more and more of his alleged victims, I wouldn’t be surprised if he checks in to a local rehab facility - to be followed by stories about being abused by a priest as a child. Hey - it could have happened. There are priests to be found in Israel. For sure in Jerusalem. Maybe one of them befriended him and screwed up his entire life - just the way it did for Foley.

All I can say is that he’d better not try for a Rabbi abuse excuse. I must have heard a thousand Rabbi jokes in my time - including jokes about the Rabbi, the Priest and the Protestant clergyman - and in none of them was the Rabbi a Gay Rabbi.
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Speaking of gay anything - Michael Rogers, the openly gay reporter, is creating something of a sensation with his public "outing" of closet gay Republicans - his most recent victim being Senator Larry Craig of Idaho.

It occurred to me that someone needs to start a companion blog to out closet anti-Semites. My nomination for the first such bigot to be fully exposed would be Mel Gibson. Yes, yes, I know he’s already revealed himself, but he’s also traveling all over the map to find excuses and explanations for saying things that "he really didn’t believe."

It must be torture for the poor guy. How liberating would it be for an outing blog to reveal irrefutable evidence of his bigotry, so that he could come out an tell the world at the top of his voice - It’s true. I hate Jews. My father taught me to hate Jews. They are Christ killers. They killed my Lord. It’s a goddamned lie that my Lord was a Jew. He was the first Christian. The Jews are responsible for everything bad in the world. Osama Bin Ladin is a Jew. Saddam Hussein is a Jew. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a Jew.

There Mel. Tell the truth. Doesn’t that feel better?