Monday, May 28, 2012

Week of 05/28/2012

Dictator Housewives
(Or “The Hidden Rules Of A Real Socialist Enclave”)
– by David Matthews 2

Twelve years ago almost to the day, I came up with a column about the dangers of covenant neighborhoods. I’m sure many people who read it simply shook their heads or rolled their eyes and said “Oh you silly little Libertarian!”

I wonder, though, how many of those same people are rolling their eyes today, especially after the Great Recession devastated the housing market and is generally making life unbearable for most people. Well, if you haven’t moved into a new house in the past twelve years, and you don’t already live in a covenant neighborhood, then you’re probably going to roll your eyes again.

But thanks to the GOP and their Squealer-like cohorts on FoxNews and talk radio and this eternal talk about “socialism” and “communism” when it comes to anything related to President Obama, I thought I would remind people that we already have real socialist enclaves in America. And not only are these socialist enclaves here and they precede Obama by decades, but we have plenty of people who enter into these socialist enclaves willingly when they move into a house that exists inside a covenant neighborhood.

A covenant neighborhood is any neighborhood that is governed by your neighbors through binding legal contracts. Often these neighborhoods are set up by developers and realtors who then turn things over to a “managerial organization”, which are run by a “committee” of your neighbors. If you live in a “Senior Community”, for instance, you are living in a covenant neighborhood.

Now when people think of neighborhoods, they think “Ozzie and Harriet”. They think of that fictional 1950’s time invented by conservatives where neighbors were kind and caring people that would look out for the community out of the goodness of their hearts. In truth, your neighbors are less like Norman Rockwell and more like the folks from the “Harper Valley PTA”.

ABC recently ended their ten-year look at suburbia and its insanity with the finale of “Desperate Housewives”. The series revolved around four stereotypical “housewives” that reflected the kind of people that we would call our neighbors. They were petty, vain, narcissistic at times (some more than others), manipulative, and willing to do anything to keep that illusion of normalcy going even when everything around them screamed otherwise.

But while we’d like to think that our neighbors are like the four principal “Housewives”, in truth, they’re more like the other housewives in the neighborhood. The ones that you would only see briefly in the show. The ones that back-talk and spread rumors and cast that condescending gaze or give that judgmental stare for the camera. The neighbors that would make your skin crawl just by seeing them for longer than the average five seconds of camera exposure.

Now imagine these same people with the power to take away your home. Suddenly it’s not so light-hearted, is it? That is the true hidden power of these enclaves of socialism. They have the power to take away your home if you do not comply with their demands.

So if you find that you are in one of these socialist enclaves, you need to keep in mind these simple rules to avoid getting into trouble:

Rule #1: You really do not own your home! Let’s get brutally honest here… even if it is your name on the deed and the mailbox and the mortgage and all the bills, that home and the property it sits on is not, nor was it ever, yours. The devil here is in the details, and in this case it is hidden away in that covenant agreement that you signed. You are “allowed” to live there and to pay for the utilities and to maintain the house for the benefit of the neighborhood and for the realtors as long as you do so under their rules and their restrictions.

That may not seem like too much of a burden until you realize that the determination for complying with those rules and restrictions rest solely with your neighbors. That brings us to the next rule…

Rule #2: Your neighbors are not your friends! You know that neighbor that strolls by your home three times a day that flashes a friendly smile and gives a cheerful greeting? That neighbor is watching you to see if you’re doing anything he or she won’t like. Is your lawn mowed? Are the bushes trimmed just right? Water the grass yet? How’s the siding? How’s your car? Is it washed and parked in the garage? What sort of lawn decorations do you have out on the lawn? Did you put up anything that could be considered “offensive” or even striking?

Bear in mind that your neighbor won’t tell you about anything they may take issue with. No, that neighbor will just smile and wave at you and wish you a good day. Then they’ll call up “the committee” and make a complaint. Because that is what “the committee” is there for. “The committee” is there to send the business letter from the managerial firm ordering you to fix whatever the complaint is or else face legal troubles, which usually means taking away your home.

No, your neighbors are not your friends. They’re not like Bree or Lynette or Susan or Gabby. They’re not even Karen McCluskey or Edie Britt. No, they’re “Gossiping Neighbor #23” and “Stern-Looking Neighbor #5”. They’re the ones you barely know outside of their names, who make small talk with you while they get the latest gossip and find a little something on you as well.

Remember, friends will tell you that there’s a problem before it reaches “the committee”. Enemies will gloat about reporting you to “the committee”. Your neighbors in a covenant neighborhood, however, are neither.

Rule #3: It’s all about the “Community”! Covenant neighborhoods demand conformity and homogeny. Developers churn out the same three or four housing models because they know someone will buy them. Realtors sell more houses when the neighborhood looks as generic as possible. These are the people that came up with “the committee”. They were the ones that wrote the rules that you signed to, and ultimately they are the ones that benefit from your continued compliance.

Remember, you are not there in a covenant neighborhood for your benefit. You are there to help maintain the property values for the whole area. You are there only as a means to someone else’s end. That is how the developer sees it when they put in more cookie-cutter housing models. That is how the realtors see it when they sell those cookie-cutter houses. That is how “the committee” sees it when they sit in judgment over all the homes. And that is how your neighbors see it when they see you do something that sets you apart from the others. Anything that can affect their property values is seen as a threat.

This is the essence of socialism, folks.

Rule #4: Keep it quiet! The worst thing that you can be in a socialist enclave is unique. The worst thing you can do in that same enclave is display that uniqueness for the world to see.

Have a seasonal banner that you like to waive on your porch next to the Stars-and-Stripes? Well unless other neighbors share in your love of such decorations, it will probably end up on the list of “prohibited” items. Love a particular kind of grass in your lawn? If it’s not one of the “approved” kinds of grass, then you will have a problem. Have a thing for lawn ornaments? Find out if other people in the neighborhood share your love of gnomes first before finding a spot next to the azaleas.

Bear mind that these are all otherwise normal and innocuous forms of individuality that could still get you in trouble with “the committee” should your neighbors complain. We haven’t even gotten to political signs and running a business from your house and having frequent visitors. For that matter, we haven’t talked about how loud your TV volume should be.

Basically, keep it minimal, keep it to yourself, and you can keep out of the fickle eyes of both your neighbors and “the committee”.

Rule #5: Compliance is absolute and immediate! There is no “appeal” with “the committee”. There is only guilt and compliance. There is no debate; there is no deliberation; there is nothing to discuss when “the committee” sends out that letter through the managerial group. You cannot plead your case to them. You are guilty at that point, and you are expected to comply to their demands immediately.

Oh, and you are expected to comply regardless of either the cost or of your economic situation. “The committee” does not care if you’re on a fixed income or if you’ve been in the hospital or if you got laid off from work. They don’t care if you’re momentary broke while keeping the bills paid. This is why they use the managerial group as their enforcers, so they won’t have to care. Remember Rule #3; it’s not about you. It’s all about the “community”.

One more thing: the members of “the committee” are the ones that make the final determination as to whether you complied to their demands. They don’t care if you spent that last few dollars you had to make those changes instead of buying food for the week. If it isn’t to their satisfaction, then you’ve got a problem besides being hungry.

Rule #6: Never miss a Community Meeting! This is especially true when it comes to those meetings where those bylaws are decided upon. Here’s how it works… if you’re not there, then your neighbors will make note of that. Then the discussion will be about you. Next thing you know, you get a letter from the managerial group on behalf of “the committee” about some new rule change that you’re now in violation of. Of course, this new rule wouldn’t be there if you were at the meeting in the first place, but because you weren’t, you now have to pay the price for your absence.

Plus, those kinds of community meetings are the only way you can bring some of those really annoying rules to light and find ways to challenge them and maybe even repeal them. Don’t expect your neighbors to do that for you. Remember Rule #2; behind that cheerful smile and friendly wave of many a neighbor is a secret dictator looking to make your life a living hell.

And finally…

Rule #7: When all else fails, be their worst enemy! Mutual Assured Destruction is not just a game played by world leaders. It’s also an acceptable method of retaliation when dealing with those secret dictators in your little socialist enclave. If you get called out by “the committee” over something minor, then you make it your mission in life to bring down the rest of the neighborhood over every little minor infraction they make. Take photos of their infractions and cite line and rule to “the committee”. But be sure to do it with a friendly smile. You wouldn’t want them to think that it was “personal”.

Because, after all, socialist enclaves demand homogeny, and if some of your neighbors are miserable secret tyrants, then your neighborhood demands that everyone else be just as miserable and dictatorial. You wouldn’t want to disappoint the “community”, would you?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Week of 05/21/2012

What If Real Life Was Like Facebook?
– by David Matthews 2

Imagine waking up one morning, and when you open your eyes, you see someone you barely know standing at the other side of the room.

“Hey! ‘Sup? How you doing? Busy? You there? How you been? You here? K, chat later. Bye.”

As he leaves, someone in a blue shirt holding a wrapped gift box walks in and says “Marjorie Jo Grace’s birthday is today! Wish her a Happy Birthday!”

Another person with a blue shirt walks up holding a cup of coffee and say “Coffee! You like? Fourteen of your friends do! You like?”

You say “yes”, but rather than give you that cup of coffee, that person exclaims “You like coffee!” and then leaves. You then hear that same person repeat that proclamation in a really loud voice over and over and over again as they leave.

You take a shower, keenly aware that someone else is proclaiming that you like taking a shower. Your choice of shampoo becomes another loud proclamation. You get dressed, thankful that nobody is proclaiming what kind of underwear you choose to put on.

You’re ready to start your day when another blue-shirt walks up to you and jabs a finger at you.

“Poke! Poke back! Poke! Poke back!”

This person, though, doesn’t go away. Every so often they’ll poke you and then say “Poke! Poke back! Poke! Poke back!” Even when you say “Poke back”, or even when you jab them back just as hard, that person doesn’t ever go away.

Another blue shirt holding a plate of salmon walked up to you. “Alaskan salmon! Fourteen thousand six-hundred-forty-two people like it! Like?”

The blue shirt with the wrapped gift shows back up and says “Marjorie Jo Grace’s birthday is today!” But this time, that blue shirt doesn’t leave.

You tell the blue shirt holding the plate of salmon to go away, but then another blue shirt appears holding a picture. “Albert Einstein! Twenty-two thousand four hundred fifty-five people like him! Like?”

You tell that blue shirt to go away, but then another blue shirt appears, and then another one after that, and then another one after that. And then some of the blue shirts you’ve previously sent away show up again. Just when you thought you’ve cleared them away, another blue shirt holding something else will appear and asks if you “like” it, and even if you say “yes”, another one will then appear.

Another blue shirt appears holding an address book and says “If you give me access to all of your personal information, I can look up all your friends for you and connect you to them!” Just like the blue shirt poking at you, this blue shirt also doesn’t go away, no matter how many times you tell him to.

Your best friend, whom you’ve known since you were kids, then strolls in. “I’m going to get rid of all the friends I have that don’t follow my instructions. I want you to tell me in one word where we first met, and then you have to go to all of your other friends and repeat these same instructions to them!”

“Poke! Poke back! Poke! Poke back!”

“Marjorie Jo Grace’s birthday is today!”

A blue shirt holding a really cheesy image walks up to you and says “You’ve just been tagged onto this picture!” That blue shirt then proceeds to attach that picture to your back without waiting for your approval.

Another blue shirt holding up a gemstone appears. “Ida May Means just won ten jewels playing Jewel Quest-O-Rama! Would you like to play? It’s a really fun game of strategy and patience!”

Someone you don’t even know walks in. “Hi. I want to be your friend. I’m friends with two of your friends. Will you let me be your friend?”

Another blue shirt shows up holding a chess piece. “Poker Chess! Five of your friends are playing Poker Chess! It’s a fun and exciting multiplayer game! Do you want to play Poker Chess?”

“Dead Squirrels! Eight of your friends listen to this band. Like?”

“Poke! Poke back! Poke! Poke back!”

The person you barely knew from before then appears again. “Hey, ‘sup? How you doing?”

Another stranger then strolls in.

“The pictures you submitted on Photo-Boom-dot-com were absolutely horrendous! Do you even know how to use a camera? Your pictures were as boring as your non-existent profile. You showed no color, no depth, you don’t even know how to focus, and I’m surprised that you didn’t have your thumb in any of the pictures! You’re just another no-talent hack that thinks they can be a professional photographer just because you have a camera and an account. It’s people like you that give photography a bad name!”

“The Outer Limits! Four thousand five-hundred eleven people like this TV show! Like?”

“Marjorie Jo Grace’s birthday is today!”

One of your friends then storms on in and shoves a photo in front of you. It’s the picture of a badly-abused animal.

“This is Gypsy, and this is a dog that was rescued from his owner, who was using her in illegal dog fights! I’m shoving this picture in everyone’s faces until all animal cruelty is stopped!”

“Poke! Poke back! Poke! Poke back!”

Another one of your friends shows up with a photo of a badly-burned child tied to her face like a mask.

“This is a little girl in Afghanistan that was burned by mullahs. I’m wearing her face from now on to show that I want an end to these war crimes! Oh, and I invited you to play Donkey-Punch Bingo!”

Then you hear a loud noise from outside. You look out the window and see another blue shirt sitting atop an elephant.

“Two of your friends just adopted Digital Elephants! Would you like to adopt a digital elephant? All proceeds from online sales will go to save the elephants!”

“Marjorie Jo Grace’s birthday is today!”

“The Fourteenth Century! Like?”

“’Sup. How you doing? Busy?”

“Poke! Poke back! Poke! Poke back!”

This is what life is like on Facebook, folks. All of the insanity and hyped-up-drama that you see is out there waiting for you every single day on social media services like Facebook. But we don’t put any thought into it because it’s all “digital”, and “digital doesn’t count”, does it?

But what if it did?

Let’s get brutally honest here… if we treated our real-world friends and acquaintances the same way that many of us treat our online equivalents then we would be in a lot of real-world trouble. There would be fights everywhere because of the persistent pokes and announcements and insulting statements made by others.

Our very ideas of friendship would probably change dramatically because of the antics that our so-called “friends” would be playing in the real world. How many of you would really want to be “friends” with someone whose definition of friendship is based on ludicrous mind-games that then encourage others to repeat and thus spread the same insanity?

Granted, some of the insanity is the product of software. The incessant queries about whether or not you like inane subjects, not to mention the whole idea of “poking” someone, and the eternal quest to get as much of your personal information as possible are all the result of programmers putting marketing ahead of people. But the rest of the antics and attitudes are all human behavior. It’s done because we don’t put any thought into our words on the virtual world like we do in the real world.

There’s a reason why we’re not as “brave” in the real world as we are online. That reason is simple: because there are immediate real-world consequences to our actions. If you employed the same online antics to real-life people in real-life environments, you’d probably end up friendless, somewhat embarrassed, and maybe even sporting some new bruises for your troubles.

Political consultants love to talk about how “colorful” the political name-calling used to be in the 19th Century. What they fail to mention, though, is that all of that “colorful language” was done anonymously, by people who spent time and money to make sure that their names were not connected to the words they used. And when those names were revealed, the authors often found themselves in need of protection.

Now, I’m not asking for rules or restrictions. I’m not calling for regulations or even for legislation. None of those things would even work. Instead, I’m asking for people to do something far more difficult for them. I’m asking them to think about what they are doing.

If you don’t want people to know every single action that you’re doing every single minute of every single day… announcing what video’s you’ve watched, what products you’ve shopped for, what stores you visited, then you need to be mindful of the apps that you approve. Facebook and the other forms of social media aren’t looking out for your best interests when they make these apps available for you. Their financial bottom line, quite frankly, relies on you being mindless and willfully ignorant.

For everyone else, I have a really simple question: would you be willing to say the same things online to the same group of people - friends, acquaintances, even complete strangers - if they were in the same room as you? Would you be willing to say it to their faces, and deal with the consequences that follow? Would you be willing to pull the same online antics and quirkiness in person?

If the answer to those questions is “no”, then why do you think it should be any different online?

Yes, you could be three thousand miles away from that other person. But you could also be thirty feet away and never know it until they “poke” you on the shoulder for real. Then it’s not “virtual”. Then it is as real as it gets.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Week of 05/14/2012

Obama Can Still Lose
– by David Matthews 2

Once upon a time I had the perfect date planned out and prepared. I had all the arrangements made, what I was going to wear was lined up, the evening’s activities ready to go, it would have been perfect!

Unfortunately, for all of the preparation and planning that I put in, the “perfect date” ended up being a non-event. I simply did not take into account that the girl I was going to spend that date with would say “no”. Not only that, but I also found out that she had just started seeing someone. Well, I hope that they had a good time, because I obviously didn’t.

The point being made here is that all of the plans and preparations and arrangements that you could make could easily come undone if the essential component is not there. It’s like baking a cake and forgetting the cake mix.

Such is the White House tenure of one President Barack Obama.

Democrats have made the mistake of putting their blind trust in him this election season. They offered no challengers to his announced re-election campaign, which started last year (despite their new claims that it only “started” recently). And given the fact that the bitter GOP primary and caucus battles will apparently result with a candidate that the evangelical-hindered party despises almost as bad as they despise Obama, I’m sure that many of the Democrats and liberals and moderates and even the pundits are thinking that the General Election is over before it even starts. They’re thinking “Don’t bother ringing the bell, because Mitt Romney just won’t win.”

And maybe history is on their side on this. Bill Clinton was able to breeze through his re-election in 1996 despite his numerous scandals and despite all of the rhetoric and political bluster of the GOP when they threw their eventual support behind Senator Bob Dole. Much like Romney, Dole wasn’t necessarily what the GOP hardliners wanted; merely the candidate that they ended up with thanks to their “ungrateful” voters.

But unfortunately for the GOP, comparing Romney to Dole is like comparing running with a sleeping foot versus running with a severed leg. There has been strong GOP resistance against Romney because of his Mormon religion; and two election seasons full of anti-Romney rhetoric makes any pretense of “unity” disingenuous at best and downright hypocritical at worst. Watching these fire-and-brimstone “Mormonism is Evil” evangelicals begin to hem and haw as they throw their political support behind Romney would make even God sick.

Even Ted Nugent, Romney’s supposed rock-star “friend”, has boarded the H. Ross Perot crazy train with his recent proclamation that if Obama is re-elected he will either be in jail or dead.

With “friends” like that, who needs terrorists?

Yet with all of that going against the GOP and against their presumptive nominee this coming November, one has to ask if it really is “game over” for them.

Obama and his supporters certainly believe that. They believe it so much that they’re taking the extremely bold stance of supporting same-sex marriages. Now the cons and neo-cons think that this is really not a shocking development because the Obama crowd essentially supported it anyway with the removal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell(a Clinton-era compromise) and with the decision to not legally defend the “Defense Of Marriage Act” (another Clinton-era law). But there is a difference between not legally defending a federal law that outlaws same-sex marriage and actually supporting same-sex marriages. The former can be seen as negligence, while the latter is a conscious act, albeit one that was blundered in by Vice-President Joe Biden.

Certainly Obama can take credit for a couple of things, including authorizing the military operation that led to the death of Public Enemy #1: Osama Bin Laden. Obama’s predecessor not only failed to do that, but President George W. Bush actually said that finding Bin Laden was not a concern for him a mere six months after 9/11! Obama could also try to claim that he helped bring down Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, but in truth that claim really belongs to outgoing French President Nicholas Sarkozy. Sarkozy was the one that did the heavy-lifting for NATO then, because we were sort of still busy with Iraq and Afghanistan.

No doubt Obama’s healthcare program is something that he will be crowing about, especially if the Supreme Court rules in his favor. But what was promised versus what we ended up with is something that every American should be crying foul over. It’s like promising a steak dinner and then serving a plate of cooked shoe.

What infuriates this commentator even more is how deftly the insurance companies have managed to avoid any kind of accountability for their role in the screwjob of the reform legislation and their continual screwjob with the American people afterward. They have been able to use FoxNews and the talk radio puppets to completely divert all focus of their handiwork to Obama. This commentator is utterly disgusted that even the conspiracy buffs haven’t picked up on that connection by now.

Given all that, does that mean that Obama’s re-election is all but assured?

No. It’s far from a done deal.

Let’s get brutally honest here… there is still a strong chance that the GOP, for all of their systematic and institutionalized narcissistic faults, could still win in November! And it won’t be because of anything that the GOP does, either on the campaign trail or in Congress, but rather it would be for everything that Obama and his fail machine have not done for the past three years in office.

You see, there is a very distinct difference between 2012 and 1996 that can be summed up in two words: the economy.

Remember the economy? It used to be part of a campaign slogan for Mister Clinton.

In 1996, there was a growing economy, thanks in large part to the expansion of the Internet combined with relatively cheap fuel prices. There were plenty of jobs, plenty of opportunities, and literally hundreds of millionaires being made with every new idea given venture capital. Not only that, but there was an economic system that encouraged that growth as part of a company’s prosperity.

Today, however, we have none of that. None! We have a prolonged and aggravated world-wide economic recession bordering on global depression. Long-term unemployment in America has reached a point where the Department of Labor can no longer be trusted to tell the truth as to how bad the employment situation is. They have to out-and-out lie about the unemployment numbers and falsely claim that the millions of Americans that have been systematically forsaken have simply “stopped looking”. And if there really was any justice in this world, they would be sued to the hilt for that slander.

And that particular slander is affecting the various state and local governments. Without the needed revenue from those millions of Americans out of work, the state and local governments cannot pay even for essential services. Fire and police departments are cutting back, trash services are cutting back, roads and streetlights aren’t getting serviced, schools are being shut down… these are not signs of growth. These are blatant signs of stagnation! When you go from town-to-town like I have and the only businesses that seem to be left open are pawn shops and gold merchants, then you know that there’s trouble in that area!

Relatively cheap fuel prices are a pipe dream now. The eternal chorus of “supply and demand” has long been exposed as a lie. Any excuse will now do to raise prices and squeeze the people with little money left to give, which is reflective of the changes in the economic system that we are in.

Our business system has become one of predatory plunder. It’s about making a profit at all costs. People can’t work because there are no jobs. There are no jobs because the jobs have been outsourced overseas to make an extra profit percentage. And the very institutions that pretend to be the backbone of our economy, the banks and Wall Street, have perverted the economic system so they can pilfer America like a gang of pickpocket thieves and then walk away without any kind of accountability.

Worse yet, despite all of their promises to the contrary from 2008, “Too Big To Fail” has demonstrated that they still have not learned a single thing! JP Morgan Chase, the supposed “survivor” of the 2008 October Bailout, was caught losing two billion dollars playing the very games that brought this economy down!

This is the economic environment that we are in today. And what has President Barack Obama done about it?

Almost nothing!

He coddled “Too Big To Fail”. His people brokered deals with them while millions of Americans were systematically losing their homes. He gave tax breaks and sustained tax breaks on the empty promise that doing so would lead to job creation, and then systematically forsake millions of Americans.

Oversight? What oversight?

Regulations? What regulations?

Do you think JP Morgan Chase would have been able to get away with losing two billion dollars for playing the same games from 2008 if there was any functional way to hold them to account for it through all of the supposed “oversights” and “regulations” they complain about?

No, 2012 is in not the same economic environment as was 1996. It’s not even the same environment as 1992!

If anything, it’s more like 1932. The market has crashed, the economy has tanked, and the president of the time is thinking he can somehow squeak away with a November re-election. Only that president was Herbert Hoover, a supposed friend of the business world, and he lost to the ideologue Franklin Roosevelt.

Think the voters won’t pull off a political reversal? Stranger things have happened! Why don’t you call up Gray Davis and ask him how he was kicked out of the California Governor’s Mansion in 2003 and replaced by an Austrian-born movie star?

Both Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush lost their re-election bids because of their failures to deal with the economy. They thought the economy would simply correct itself. Like Hoover before them, they failed to comprehend the sadistic nature of the forces behind the economy. Forces that are willing to let America suffer and die in prolonged economic agony if necessary. Just look at Europe if you don’t believe me.

The economy is the Achilles heel of every sitting President. People will overlook a lot of failures and flaws when the economy is good. But when the economy itself is the failure and the flaw, then all of the good intentions in the world will mean absolutely nothing.

This is what Obama needs to be concerned with. You cannot lie about the economy when it is this bad. You cannot whitewash the economy when it is this bad. You cannot spin the economy when it is this bad. No amount of political spin will ever give the millions of forsaken Americans their jobs back or give them their homes back. If all they have is time, then they have all the time in the world to show up at the ballot box and vote out the politicians that foreswore them. This is what Governor Davis found out. This is what Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, and Herbert Hoover each found out.

For all of the faults of the GOP and their eventual nominee, they have one thing going for them. They know that the economy can make or break a sitting president. And all of the plans, all of the preparations, all of the great ideas in the world will mean absolutely nothing if that essential element is not there.

Remember the slogan that killed the elder Bush’s re-election campaign: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Monday, May 7, 2012

Week of 05/07/2012

Here Ends The Lecture
– by David Matthews 2

GOP Presidential wannabe Newt Gingrich finally accepted reality the other week and shut down his campaign to become the next President of the United States.

Normally such news is not worth doing a full column on. Very little was said about Rick Santorum’s departure, and he was considered the closest competition to front-runner Mitt Romney, having actually pulled out multiple victories in several state primaries and caucuses. Likewise, little was said about some of the other wannabe and never-can-be contenders. Governor Rick Perry and Congresswoman Michelle Bachman each fell by the wayside quickly and with almost no fanfare. The dragging down of businessman Herman Cain during the holiday season certainly should have warranted some mention, since it amounted to nothing short of a political and media lynching.

Likewise, the media silence of Ron Paul’s continued campaign speaks volume about the ongoing bigotry that has existed about libertarians and libertarian-leaning politicians. How damnably hypocritical that a clear alternative to the “status quo” is mocked, ridiculed, and even rejected outright, without giving it the opportunity to present its case to the public.

But let’s get back to Mr. Gingrich, because that’s what he would like people to focus on anyway.

Gingrich’s “farewell” speech wasn’t so much an acknowledgement of defeat as it was a lecture to the American people, and the primary and caucus voters in particular, for supposedly choosing the wrong candidate to lead the GOP in November.

“Today, I am suspending the campaign,” he said in his usual condescending tone, “but suspending the campaign does not mean suspending citizenship…”

I’m sorry, but did anyone suggest, or even infer, that Gingrich was giving up being an American for acknowledging defeat? Was there some sort of unwritten rule in the GOP handbook that we don’t know about that said that if you back out of the campaign that you have surrender your passport and move to Dubai or Beijing and give up being an American citizen? Actually that sounds like a rather interesting idea. Certainly would make the race for the White House that much more of a challenge and weed out a lot of the wannabes.

Most likely, the ex-Speaker of the House was simply serving notice that his retreat was not going to follow the path set by Richard Nixon after his failed run for Governor of California in the early 1960’s. We could only be so fortunate if we wouldn’t have Gingrich to “kick around anymore”! Then again, Nixon found it hard to really stay out of the limelight as well.

No, Gingrich does not want to go away, quietly or otherwise. He loves the attention. Who wouldn’t?

And it’s not like he would be the first lingering candidate either. Sarah Palin has certainly demonstrated that there’s plenty of media shelf-life after losing an election. In fact, she couldn’t even wait for her term as Alaska’s Governor to end before, as sports writers describe it, she went “all-pro”.

But one has to give credit to Pat Buchanan for accepting failure with dignity. Maybe it’s because he did it frequently, but at least when Buchanan conceded, he didn’t lecture the voters about their choices. He congratulated the winner, said his peace, and then went back to his normal job of being a political curmudgeon on TV.

Maybe that’s too much to ask for with some of today’s presidential wannabes. Maybe they really just cannot accept defeat.

Certainly Gingrich did not want to leave the race. Even when his senior advisors left him in 2011, he refused to admit defeat. Even after losing state after state after state, he believed that somehow he would still win.

Perhaps the most telling part of how Gingrich treated the whole campaign came in the days before his announced departure. Even after coming in dead last in five states and his own people were publicly confirming that Gingrich was going to announce that he was suspending his campaign, Gingrich himself was complaining about Romney carrying on as though he was the “presumptive nominee”. He considered it “insulting” to have either Romney or the media carry on as though the primary and caucus processes were over with. “They deserve some respect,” he said of the voters that he had not yet formally discarded.

Bear in mind that it was no big secret that Gingrich was going to suspend his campaign at that point. It was long overdue. He was out of Super-PAC money. He was coming in dead last on elections. And yet here he was still going through the motions, pretending that there was still a chance for him to win.

Let’s get brutally honest here… Newt Gingrich ended his campaign neither with a bang nor a whimper, but with a condescending lecture. At times he sounded like he was wrapping up a seminar of political science instead of running for the highest office in America.

Now for purposes of full disclosure, I should note that I do a regular segment on ShockNet Radio where I provide historical information while pretending to be a stuffy college professor. But in that particular instance, the audience knows full-well that I am playing a character. I don’t claim to be an actual professor, nor do I claim to be an actual expert on history. Gingrich, on the other hand, really believes that he is such.

Sure, Gingrich loved to talk about big ideas… like his dream of somehow ending up with $2-per-gallon gas, and putting up American colonies on the Moon. But then he’d suggest that maybe children should clean their own school toilets to save on paying for janitors. And while he claimed that he would have never supported the bailout for “Too Big To Fail”, he quickly skirted around his connection to Freddie Mac that helped to create the 2008 October Surprise, and then said that he probably would have ended up voting for the bailout anyway.

Perhaps one of the most blatant examples of hypocrisy in Gingrich’s campaign is that while he complained about government spending, he ends his quest for the White House with over four million dollars in debt! One would think that if you were to claim credit for the first balanced federal budget in thirty years, and that you were to complain about other people wasting taxpayer money, that you would also have a better mastery of your own campaign finances. While Gingrich would not be the only candidate to wrap up his campaign in the red, it certainly does not help his credibility to not live up to his own hype.

Then again, such is the contradiction that is Newt Gingrich. The same man that reportedly told his then-future ex-wife It doesn't matter what I do… People need to hear what I have to say. There's no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn't matter what I live.” This is the man that wanted to be President.

While his non-concession concession speech ends Gingrich’s quest for the White House this time around, we clearly will not be hearing the last of him. No doubt he will go right back to his special interest groups and to his cushy “contributor” position on FoxNews. He will, no doubt, call up his talk radio friends Sean Hannity and Neal Boortz to continue his lecturing of the American people about how screwed up things are, write a few more books, and probably even throw his support behind Mitt Romney… the very man that he claimed was a “Massachusetts liberal” and once described as “Obama-Lite”.

Or perhaps we all misread his intentions. Maybe Gingrich borrowed a page from Captain Yossarian’s logic in “Catch-22” and didn’t really back out of the campaign. Maybe he just announced his early candidacy for the 2016 Elections. That would fit right in with Gingrich’s apparent mastery of Political Crazy.