Archive for January, 2012

Weapon Words

January 29, 2012

When Rush Limbaugh first went on the air, I listened to him a lot to find out what he was all about. After a while, I totally understood and realized that I didn’t need to listen to him any more because I knew exactly where he would come down on any issue, and because he was repeating himself.  However, the talk I have been hearing recently about being conservative or liberal, and what those words stand for, reminded me of one of his early conversations.

The man he had on the line said he didn’t think it was useful to label people. Rush totally disagreed. He said in such a way – I don’t remember the exact words – that it said to me, No, wait a minute, bub. you’re not going to take that weapon away from me.

And that reminded me of what a salesman and air personality who worked with me at WBML in Macon, Georgia in the early 1950s when I was going to Mercer University, told me about the late racist Georgia Governor Eugene Talmadge.  The salesman said he had worked as a broadcast consultant for Talmadge at one time.  He told me that he asked Talmadge about his race baiting on the campaign stump, “Why do you do that? You can win without  it.” He said Talmadge told him, “That’s my ‘weepon’, son. I can’t give up my ‘weepon.'” “Weepon” was his faux-country dialect for weapon, of course. Eugene Talmadge spoke the flagrant racist redneck of the time, but definitely knew better. He had a degree in English from the University of Gerogia.

I think for most people labeling is often misleading.  Not everyone who is conservative or liberal on some things is conservative or liberal on all things.  Most conservatives I know are definitely for tax supported public education.  They are also for public highways, street lights, traffic lights, libraries, and, actually, it’s hard to find a conservative who now admits he or she is opposed to Social Security, Medicare or Medicade, though conservatives fought them tooth and nail and called them socialistic when they were passed into law.  All of those things could come under the socialism rubric. Does that make conservatives who now support them  socialists?

The truth is that most of us support some things considered socialistic and some capitalistic.  We have, and have had from the beginning of this country, a mixed economy, part capitalistic and part socialistic.  Yes, it has trended more in one direction or the other during certain time periods.  But, as  far as I can discern, it has never been totally one way or the other.

I guess what it boils down to is that some people like to think in terms of things being either black or white, and others realize that most are really in shades of grey.

However, that doesn’t mean the politicians who really know all of that are going to give up their weapon words. I don’t know if that will ever happen.

PIC QUIZ on Dick’s World Again

January 26, 2012

I’ve decided to give you another sample of my PIC QUIZ that I post on Facebook. Who knows, maybe a blog reader might come up with an answer before someone on Facebook. If you know the answer, just click the “comment” button below the post and write it in.

If you can tell me what this is and from where it was taken, you’ll be the proud winner of the ATTAGIRL or ATTABOY, or if it takes more than one person to come up with the whole answer, the ATTATEAM AWARD!

If you click on the picture, a larger version will come up on your screen.

Pugnacity Trumps Family Values in SC Republican Primary

January 22, 2012

I thought I had basically understood the South Carolina Republican electorate.  That’s why I figured Rick Santorum would do very well in the state, not come in last in the primary as he did.  He is a high-profile conservative  evangelist, and South Carolina has a lot of  those. Newt Gingrich, who could be considered family values challenged,  won big time in the Republican Presidential Primary. What happened?

I heard some of the political pundits say that since Newt was so forthcoming about admitting his past personal flaws, South Carolinians were willing to overlook his personal character baggage because what they care about most is nominating a fighter to challenge President Obama. One voter was quoted as saying he was for Gingrich because he wanted someone who would bloody President Obama’s nose in a debate.  Who would end up with the bloody nose in that one remains to be seen.

Looking to China for how Unregulated Corporations Provide more Jobs

January 17, 2012

I recently did my bit to help the American consumer-driven economy. I upgraded to an iPhone 4 and I love it, especially the 5 mp camera with a flash. But, after watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night, every time I look it now, I’ll think about the factory worker in China who made it. According to the report, which got its facts and video clips from a MSNBC program, he or she – some as young as 13-years-old – got 32-cents an hour, lives in a company-owned dormitory room with seven other people, works up to 35 straight hours, and sometimes becomes so stressed out and depressed that  he or she jumps off the top of the dormitory building.  So many have jumped that Foxconn, the Taiwan-based largest manufacturer of electronics in the world, has put up nets to break the jumpers’ falls.  Most of the company’s manufacturing plants are in mainland China.

Why does the union allow this to happen to workers?  There is no union.  Trying to organize one can get you twelve years in the clink.

Last night’s report was prompted by Rick Perry’s repeating of the Republican mantra about bringing jobs back to America by fewer regulations and more tax breaks for corporations.   Perry made the statement during the Republican presidential primary debate in South Carolina.

There was a time when many American factories were almost as immoral, paying starvation wages, providing shoddy company-owned houses, and  using child labor. Regulations got us away from that.  Do we really want to go back to that in order to compete with communist China?  Do we really want to ramp up our march back  to the Gilded Age of the Robber Barons? Can’t we find a way to provide jobs without destroying the American middle class?

A Way to Fight Junk Information Addicition

January 16, 2012

Eating junk food can make you unhealthily fat. And ingesting too much junk information can make you unhealthily uninformed.  Way too many of us fit in both categories.

“Who wants to hear the truth when they can be affirmed and told they are right,” Clay Land – a cousin of mine, by the way – said on Weekend Edition Sunday morning. Being interviewed about his book The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption, Clay said that we can be better informed if we seek factual information instead of opinions that confirm our beliefs.  His book tells us how we can do that.

He is addressing a big problem. We are feasting on texts, instant messages, emails, RSS feeds, downloads, videos, status updates, and tweets. Some experts think our attention spans have become unhealthily short.  We can change that by changing our information consumption habits.

One can’t blame the providers for the problem because they are giving us what they think we want, content that confirms our beliefs. But, just as Wal-Mart started carrying fruits and vegetables and lower salt and fat content in order to stop losing high-end customers, information providers could start providing more fact and fewer opinions. But we have to reward good information providers by becoming good customers.

I think he has picked a subject is quite timely, one that needs our attention. And I plan to read the book. And it’s not just because he is the son of my cousin Ray Johnson, who is an Albany, Georgia psychiatrists.  Ray gave me the heads-up on Clay’s scheduled interview on PBS. I’m glad he did.


The Putting-Country- Ahead-of-Party Issue

January 9, 2012

Jon Huntsman

Mitt Romney’s debate attack on Jon Huntsman for having been President Obama’s ambassador to China opened up a can of worms for all of the Republican candidates for the presidential nomination, except for Huntsman.

After Romney’s attack,  Huntsman drew applause when he said such attacks are the reason the nation is split right now. “This nation is divided because of attitudes like that. The American people are tired of the partisan division. They have had enough.” He went on to say that he has always put country ahead of party.

This prompted other candidates to claim they can work across the aisle, too. Newt Gingrich, for instance, pointed out how he and President Clinton worked together to reform welfare, balance the budget, and create jobs.

So now, the issue of putting country over partisan politics is out there.  That could end up to President Obama’s advantage because of Republicans in congress saying their number one goal was to make sure that Obama is a one-term president. Any member  of Congress should have as the top goal doing what is best for the country and putting defeating a sitting president above doing that could backfire.

If Huntsman does well In New Hampshire, and, as one TV pundit said today, his billionaire father decides to kick in a hundred-million dollars to his PAC, there is a chance he could win the nomination. The South Carolina polls now show Romney ahead, and that is surprising, because religion plays a big role in South Carolina politics and Romney, as you know, is a Mormon and not really their choice, but they appear to have decided that electability is paramount, and if they decide Huntsman, also a Mormon,  stands the best chance,  he could nail down the nomination.

Political Presentation: It’s How That You Do it

January 2, 2012

As I watched Rick Santorum speaking in Iowa on CNN – refreshingly in long form which gave me a good chance to observe his communicating technique – I had to reflect on presentation, how he said what he said.

First of all, he is good. He can communicate in a natural, conversational, reasonably sounding style, with body language to match. He is much more likable than most of the other Republicans campaigning in Iowa. Likeability is an important factor. It’s a major reason that Barrack Obama is President of the United States. I have even heard some Republicans say they like him as a person, just not as a president.

However, as I listen to what former Senator Santorum was actually saying, I realized beneath his veneer of family values warmth, which puts him in good stead with the Christian right, and probably will help him considerably in South Carolina, is an ideologue who wants America to stay on a course to create an empire, and to stay militarily aggressive.

He put Ron Paul in the same boat with President Obama when it comes to staying at war. He accuses the president of pulling back from military involvement. He said all this in a very reasonable talking-over-the-backyard-fence-to-a-neighbor style. But, the message I got is he is a pro-military-industrial-complex, mega-defense-spending candidate.

He accused President Obama of taking America on an anti-empire course, and said we need to observe the dissolution of the world-dominating British Empire when it became more interested in domestic welfare than empire. That told me that he wants an even larger American Empire. To do that a country does have to maintain a huge military machine and use it to control and expand its empire.

What I can’t understand is why he is just emerging as a candidate to be seriously considered. Why do the polls show him now ahead of New Ginghrich? What’s going to happen in South Carolina where he is being touted as a strong contender because of his Christian right credentials? Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he, not Santorum, is going to win in South Carolina. After seeing what is now happening in Iowa, I’m not so sure Newt is right.

Both of them have a big problem. They don’t have the organization or the money that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney or Congressman Ron Paul has. They also have another big problem. Are they electable?  Satisfying the Republican right-wing Christian fundamentalist base is one thing. Overcoming a newly energized, well-financed and organized, accomplished debater Barrack Obama, is quite another.