Saturday, August 04, 2012

Career Politicians, Political Self-Defense and the purpose of Political Rhetoric

Political Rhetoric has fallen to new lows in this country, hasn't it? But... I'm betting that I probably don't mean that, in the way you do. For instance, I'm not all that upset about the recent "Hate!" rhetoric surrounding Chick-Fil-A.

Liberal Fascism
What? Why?

Well, not because it wasn't a despicable misuse of political power, bordering on the fascistic - it most certainly was; but that is actually why I'm rather pleased that the comments of the Chick-Fil-A executive were so frantically set upon and made into such an issue: Because it did expose the ProRegressive Left as being political thugs, ridiculously shallow, and for having a fondness for fascistic practices.

What more can you ask of Political Rhetoric, than that it clarifies your political beliefs?
 [BTW, the Euro-Fascists of the 1920's & 1930's, got most of their ideas from our Yankee ProRegressives, in the 1900's & 1910's.. Just sayin'.]
The progressives in out of the way, leftist backwater locales, such as Washington D.C., Boston and Chicago, took a statement by a private citizen supporting marriage as being between a man and a woman,  which was essentially the same position as Barack Obama's position was while running for Senator in 2004 and four years later in 2008 while running for President, that,
"Mr. Obama tells Chicago public television “marriage is between a man and a woman."
, yet the popular ProRegressive Front called this man's company a bunch of homo hating fascists. At the same time they demonstrated their eagerness to use political power to punish people for expressing ideas which had the gall to differ from theirs, even to the point of trying to damage their businesses - all for the CEO 'daring' to say what he thought in response to a question... about what he thought.

That's a political self-exposure that you couldn't pay prize winning journalists to expose! And... I mean that seriously, I mean, read the papers, watch the News; the "Real" reporters are unable to expose what we see them doing every day. And here every political hack from Mayors Menino, to Rahm Emanuel. to the MSM & The Muppets, berated and attempted to shut a private person down for expressing his opinion - the exact exercise of freedom of speech which the 1st Amendment is designed to protect the government from abusing!

Even the private smart set of the caring and tolerant left, showed themselves to be two faced, lying, clueless idiots in the process!

America saw very clearly, even more clearly than they did when Obama said "You didn't build that!", just who it is the ProRegressive left really are and what they're made of. As a result, it sparked such a vivid understanding and outrage over what the left was doing, that the American People demonstrated by patronizing Chick-fil-a in record breaking sales numbers, literally putting their money where their mouths were, at such levels that not even the most left of the left could ignore or deny!

Wonderful! What's not to like about that! That is precisely what political rhetoric should be: stating what you believe and who you are, so that people can see and make up their minds about you.


Sooo... just what is it that I find to be deceptive & despicable examples of political rhetoric? Statements like this one, from GOP Senate hopeful John Brunner,
"Comments like these have no place in this U.S. Senate campaign, or any other campaign in this country, because they don't represent American values."
, a sentiment which he energetically sought to insert into a media meltdown over some lively political rhetoric, a few months ago. More on that in a bit.

Actual Highs and Lows
First, to try and get us onto the same page, and to get a better perspective on what the High points and Low points in our political rhetoric might actually be, it's worth asking a couple quick questions. First:
"What were the heights we have fallen from?"
, and second, it's worthwhile to ask:
"What is political rhetoric meant to accomplish?"
A case is often made that Politics and Political speech in America were at their high point during the time in which our Founding Fathers were still alive and active in them, somewhere in or around the 1790's to early 1800's. That is after all the period that produced our Constitution, the Federalist Papers, the ratification debates and those politicians who defined and respected our form of government as no one has since.

But what's interesting if you accept their time as being the high point, and then compare our political rhetoric of today, with that of theirs then - if you are expecting to find polite, respectful speech that is careful not to offend or aggravate the sensibilities of either the other candidates or various members of the public... you are going to be in for a very serious shock.

The fact is that the political rhetoric of their day was often blunt, rude, caustic and full of insanely unfair cheap-shots. If that's surprising to you, then you might want to consider your answer to the second question above (which really should be the first question asked) - what do you think the point of political rhetoric is?

  • Is it to show your respect for the other candidate, and those who support them?
  • Is it to communicate your personality and thoughts, or to camouflage them?
  • Is it to blur positions and policies or clarify them?
  • Is it to show your respect for the sensibilities of those in society who did, do or might support your opponent?
  • Is it to make your opponent and supporters feel more comfortable in their positions?

  • is it to clarify or at least make starkly visible, your differences with other candidates,
  • is it to convert non-supporters into supporters or at least make them hesitate to declare their support of anyone else,
  • so as to defeat your opponents?
Whatever your assumptions might be, the political rhetoric of our Founders era was made in the effort to make vividly clear the differences between the candidates and their positions, in order to defeat them (and I've got news for you, it still is today, except that the methods today are far more underhanded and crude).

For example, there's this famous political 'attack ad', where Thomas Jefferson was calling John Adams
a 'hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman."
- you just can't beat that for making it very clear just what he thought of re-electing John Adams as President of the United States. Those same standards and rhetorical style carried on into the period where the newspapers hit their stride with the famously fiery rhetoric of the yellow journalists.

What people of today whine about disliking in political rhetoric, is exactly what those of our Founder's era purposefully set out to do, and they used the most figurative, imaginative language (''hideous hermaphroditical character' !!!) they could think of, to do it. Consequently their rhetoric was loud and often crude, but it succeeded in accomplishing what it set out to do - it made a point with perfect clarity and it left listeners in no doubt about where a candidate, reporter or commenter stood. If you had any ideas about finding level headed, objective reporting of the facts of each other's platforms and characters by either the candidates or the partisan press, along with polite and respectful discourse between the candidates... then you were looking for what never was, and were looking for it in a place where it never will be found - politics.

Political speech in America, in the last decades especially, has moved away from that model of pure political theatre, where it was at least understandable (politicians after all, will try to 'Score!' any way they can, and newspapers have always enjoyed making a point without being hampered by facts), and it has now indeed sunk to its lowest depths ever, but those depths are not measured by how inflammatory the rhetoric is, but rather through the congealed, deadened, boring, meaningless form of speech which those in power are attempting to foist upon us, speech which seeks to banish clarity & imagination while imposing a pandering thoughtlessness in their place and which no one dares to deviate from, and it is this, IMHO, that is killing political discourse in America.

This new attack upon free speech in America, and that is what it is, is one that empowers 'The Press' to force the lowest of political acts - verbal suicide - upon those it dislikes, demanding that they submit with nonsense such as:
I apologize if I in any way offended anyone and I of course deeply respect the traditions of...'
, while scoring the cheapest of political points for its preferred candidates - 'eh, compared to the other guy, he wasn't too bad'...even though, supposedly, The Press says that it shouldn't be out to 'Score!' points for anyone, or ever try to move any particular candidate or platform Forward!

Right? (so to speak.)

The chief weapon of this NewSpeak has been spun through our political parties and media functionaries, following the cant first aired in wackedemia, by insisting that opponents self-censor every instance of figurative language they might consider using ('shoot', 'target', 'explosive', 'crazy', etc.), insisting that every word of it be taken as if they were literal commands to the most unhinged of listeners imaginable, and mindful of the worst possible way in which it might be taken.

If you are 'Tsk-tsking' at me, scroll back up and look at Jefferson's comment about Adams, or look at John Adams' retort to Jefferson, that he was
“a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.”
If you can't imagine our Founding Fathers even attempting to live by these new prissy shackles (and before you say they didn't have to deal with the sort of people we have to deal with today, recall that Former Vice-President Aaron Burr shot and killed former Treasury Security Alexander Hamilton, over some heated words)... should we be attempting to impose such prissy shackles upon ourselves?!

Loaded for bear... 'Care Bears', that is....
Keep that in mind as you consider a round of this deadening of our language, which came in reaction to a comment by Tea Party activist Scott Boston (a friend of mine), made during a Tea Party Express rally for conservative candidates seeking to unseat Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill. Mr. Boston, correctly gauging the intelligence of his audience, made a remark which, as you can see from the heavily edited video they've provided, was very clearly understood, and thought for the most part to be grin worthy but otherwise unremarkable by all concerned, and drew nothing more than polite, applause from those listening... and would likely have been quickly forgotten by them.

By those it was meant for, anyway.

But the new puritans of prissiness found much they could seize upon in his offhand remark. Keep in mind, Scott's remark was made while describing to the crowd how McCaskill routinely presents herself with two diametrically opposed images - the one made for the public presents her as a cloyingly caring friendly Aunt, and is laid on so often and so thickly, that she is commonly referred to around Missouri as "Claire Bear", a reference to the sickeningly sweet "Care Bear" cartoon characters. The second image is that of the reality of how she operates in Washington D.C., where she is a calculating and powerful Senator, a skilled politician, who is adept at advancing agendas that are often, as conservatives see it, detrimental to Missourians. With that in mind, Mr. Boston made the point that it was important for conservatives to work to dispel her phony 'care bear' image, and in the few words we're allowed to hear in the heavily edited video (on the Huffington-Post's story), you can hear him saying,
"We have to get Claire McCaskill out. We have, we have to kill the 'Claire Bear', ladies and gentlemen. She walks around like she's some sort of. 'Rainbow Brite' uh, 'Care Bear' or something, but really she's an evil monster."
Watch the video and pay close attention to the peoples expressions in it. You'll see Sara Steelman, a candidate for Senator, and her son Sam Steelman who works in her campaign, as Mr. Boston is speaking - do you see them being roused to passionate action? Do they seem stirred into an emotional frenzy by this 'violent hate speech'? Do you hear the crowd in the background roaring for blood?! No, what you see in the video, which was probably provided by the McCaskill campaign, is Sarah Steelman paying only passing attention to the remarks, while her son Sam Steelman, turns almost absently, though politely, to clap along for a moment, as does the unseen audience.

Why? Because neither they, nor anyone else at the rally even remotely thought for one moment that when Scott Boston said "We have to kill the Claire Bear ladies and gentlemen", that he was speaking in anything other than simple metaphors & analogies to cartoon characters and stuffed animals. It was a quip. Period.

The editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, however, in a nearly hysterical lament, did its best to convince anyone who reads it, that:
""Kill the Claire Bear" is not a campaign slogan. It's not a poor choice of words. It's not a metaphor.

It's a threat of violence. So when an overzealous supporter of U.S. Senate candidate Sarah Steelman, a Republican, directed the threat toward U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, at a campaign rally this week, Ms. Steelman swiftly should have condemned it."
Do you seriously buy that? Do you think they buy into that? Why do you suppose that they made such incendiary comments in response to a rather banal analogy made during a backwater stump speech in Missouri?

Meanwhile at the Washington Post, they continued that theme, with,
"... an activist at a Tea Party Express rally near St. Louis implored the faithful in attendance to “kill the Claire Bear, ladies and gentlemen.” ..."
, though they do let slip that Mr. Boston was probably not making a serious call for violence, but only an exercise in hyperbole:
"...In a hyperbolic rant against incumbent Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, GOP activist Scott Boston exhorted the audience, “She walks around like she’s some sort of Rainbow Brite Care Bear or something but really she’s an evil monster.”"
, they don't let that carry on for long, with statements such as,
"Not only is uncivil rhetoric dangerously taking society in the wrong direction, it is, incidentally, costing taxpayers money and resources. "
, and they allow one more brief bout of reasonableness,
""I doubt the Missouri conservative was advocating that anyone actually end the life of the 58-year-old senator or, for that matter, that Ted Nugent was threatening the president with his crude bully talk...."
, before going in for the insult, and forewarnings of doom to follow from such dangerous and vitriolic language:
Most people recognize that the screaming bombast aimed at public servants is just horrible manners by attention-craving individuals apparently unable to express themselves civilly. But the trash-talking can incite unstable persons to commit lethal acts."[emphasis mine]
, they even go on to cite the Arizona nut-job, Jared Loughner who shot up a congressmen's rally, as the logical result of using such 'language'.

Seriously? Play that video again.

Look. Listen. Think.

Are we really to conclude that political stump speeches referencing Care Bears and 'evil monsters' are what We The People must be on the guard against hearing or thinking of, or using in public, in order to safeguard ourselves from ourselves?

Do you believe that THEY believe this idiocy? I don't.

I don't believe it for a second. I don't believe that either the Post-Dispatch, or the Washington Post, or the Huffington-Post or Sen. Claire McCaskill or her staff believed it (the FBI, who gave Mr. Boston a swift 'all clear', certainly didn't believe it). These people DID NOT misinterpret what Scott Boston said. Instead they all deliberately worked at taking the figurative speech he used, and deliberately took what they knew he meant, and with carefully spun spin, they actively re-interpreted and re-purposed his words for their own pathetic political purposes - in order to move their political agenda Forward!

Note: I'm not calling them out for using fiery rhetoric themselves, quite the contrary, I'm calling them out for trying to castrate the political free speech of those they disagree with, and that is the despicable low to which political discourse has fallen to in this country. Not the name calling between candidates (recall Jefferson & Adams), but the intent to deprive anyone from being able to freely use the full power of our language in the fashion it is intended to be used, in order to communicate ideas in a lively fashion, from one person to another, so that they will be passed on, from one person to another.

In the attempt to deprive you of the power of your own spoken word, these despicable people are doing their very best to transform any thought of using imaginative language to communicate your political speech, into fears that 'it might' be taken as literal demands for violence. What they want is for their political opponents (you know they don't intend to impose the same standards on the likes of Van Jones or Alan Grayson) to be cowed into using useless, grey, deadened language that pays deference to their leftist idols.

GOP Strategic Response to Political Correctness: Sell the hangman the rope for your noose - but at a profit
Unfortunately Republican Senatorial Candidate, John Brunner, also running for the same senate seat, provided an excellent example of what we've come to expect from 'canny' GOP candidates. It's just the sort of knee-jerk apologetic reply which is expected from the opposition in response to any sign of lively language being used, and which 'conservatives' typically run to the microphones with, seeking to get air time & score points with, and often doing so faster than Obama could bow to a king. In this oh-so compliant reply to media criticism of Mr. Boston's remarks, it was glowingly reported (similar to how John McCain used to enjoy attention from the press) by the Huffington-Post, and others, who patted Mr. Brunner on the head like a good little republican for being 'so reasonable'.

The promptly issued statement from Mr. Bruner, was that:
"Comments like these have no place in this U.S. Senate campaign, or any other campaign in this country, because they don't represent American values."
Please, take a moment and scroll back up to Thomas Jefferson's comment to John Adams - which remark do you think was more likely to be representative of our original American values, Mr. Boston's, or Mr. Brunner's? Adams & Jefferson's remarks were made during the height of political discourse and truly statesmanlike accomplishment in this country... Mr. Brunner's, IMHO, are characteristic of those being made during the low it has sunk to.

Thank goodness Senatorial Candidate Sarah Steelman refused to meakly submit to the power of the press',
"I may disagree with the words Mr. Boston chose in his statement, but I understand his frustration and I emphatically support his right to express his views," Ms. Steelman said.
Mr. Bruner has also gone to mind numbing lengths to paint himself as pledging to be a 'Citizen Senator' (um... is there another option?) and opposed to 'Career Politicians', and yet he said in a recent statement, words to the same effect of Scott Boston's:
"We have an opportunity to eliminate three career politicians…two Republicans and one Democrat."
, which uses the same PC Scare-Language ('eliminate', 'target', 'kill') he slammed Scott Boston and Sarah Palin for using.

Do I think that language is 'over the top'? Hell no! But it does tell me that Mr. Brunner is perfectly happy to play the game of political correctness - using language to incite responses in order to mislead and conceal information - whenever it's convenient, which is the epitome of what he claims we'll be able to eliminate by voting for him: 'Career Politicians'.

Was this just a slip of the lip on his part? You tell me. From The Missouri Record, May 11, 2012:
"According to Jake Wagman at The St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
In a debate Friday in St. Joseph, Republican Senate hopeful John Brunner emphasized both the importance of voting, and his opposition to gay marriage.
"It is so important for so many people to get involved in politics ... and most importantly get out there and vote," Brunner said.
But when primary rival Sarah Steelman pressed him on how he had voted on the 2004 amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage — "'yes' or 'no,'" Steelman asked — Brunner offered a vague response.
"Every vote I have ever taken has been in support of marriage," Brunner said.
Turns out, Steelman was asking about a vote he didn't make.
This made my head spin. Brunner doubtlessly knew he hadn't voted on the matter when he was asked about it in the debate. A normal person may have forgotten such a vote eight years prior, or even misremembered. But normal people haven't spent $2.5 million dollars of their own money on a campaign that had to have included background research. (It is possible that he didn't know, but that would require a jaw-dropping level of political ineptitude in those around him.)
So Brunner knew the truth and he chose to prevaricate...."
On top of that, the campaign of this 'non-politician Citizen Senator' has been the most unrelenting in its use of selective information and full out attack ads on his two opponents, Sarah Steelman and Todd Akin, that I just can't buy a vowel of his claims for being the non-politician, politician. It just doesn't wash.

When I add this all up, the answer that I come up with, is exactly what I dislike about the worst of our politicians - that they use language to mislead and conceal, rather than to reveal their beliefs - and that the only reason I can find for his not having been a career politician, is that it was only late in life that he discovered his true calling.

Which leaves me in an uncomfortable position, because while I'm not particularly for either of the candidates for Senator in our Primary this Tuesday - though I am leaning towards Akin (I was initially attracted to Brunner, but for these very reasons, he soon repelled me), I'd dearly like to see Brunner lose to Akin or Steelman.

Is that too harsh? Sorry, that's what primaries are for.

But on the other hand I would eagerly take any one of these three candidates, Akin, Steelman or Brunner, without hesitation, over Claire McCaskill, as Missouri Senator.

Primaries. Ugh.

Electoral Self-Defense
It is my hope that incidents such as Chick-fil-a, as well as examples of kowtowing to any other sort of politically correct sensibilities, will be a strong turn off to any and all audiences, especially conservatives. I hope that people are beginning to see, that it is through this pandering for 'the popular vote' by people in general, and by politicians in particular (who apparently do believe that political correctness really IS the popular view), that political correctness has been able to accomplish its aims: imposing upon us all a form of politically correct self-censorship.

It is promoted by the princes of prissiness in order that the media can preen themselves in the glow of their own faux moral high ground, and it is done in order to portray the position or candidate they are trying to move Forward!, as a brave, brave victim of evil-doers - so as to boost and secure political power for them, over you.

Worse, these PC views are being imposed upon us not only by Wackedemia and the MSM in order to support their political favorites (and penalize their opponents and everyone else connected with them), but it is being aided and abetted by many a vote seeking 'conservative' as well, and these positions gain an even more terrible strength as a result of that conservative complicitness, than they ever would have acquired if they were expressed by the left alone.

We cannot let these ProRegressives, Left or Right, continue with their campaign of Political Correctness; they are attacking even our ability to think and to speak, and even to eat, and in the process, frankly, they are wiping the toilets with our language, turning it into something with no more character or substance than used toilet paper.

The level of political discourse in our times has fallen to new lows, and it is up to us to lift it back up to where it belongs, this smothering of speech must not be tolerated any longer.

It is what has helped to deliver us to the world we've got. A world where electing one person is often little or no different than electing another. A world where no one says what they really think, everyone seeks the approval of the politically correct princes of prissiness, and We The People end up with Representatives without representation. It's the world we've got, and it is one where those I despise politically (Romney for instance) end up being the ones that ends up on the ballot.

What do we do about that? How do you defend your electoral integrity, when you only have those you dislike, together with those you dislike even more, to choose from? Personally, I can't vote For any of them, but then again to not vote, enables all of them. Remember, it's not the candidates to brought us to this point - they just hitched a ride on our apathy and carelessness. Both have to be remedied in order to improve the situation at all.

In my view that leaves us these options:

  1. Decide which candidate wants to use the govt to most weaken your Rights and force the most ignorance upon you.
  2. Decide which candidate has the best chance of defeating that 1st candidate, and use your vote to help defeat that 1st candidate.
More importantly, in every other moment between elections, when you hear 'political correctness' from friend or foe, call them on it. Laugh in their faces. Dismiss them. Kick them out of power in Washington, with your vote at the ballot box, and out of power at the newsstand & T.V. by spending your dollars and attention upon information that is actually informative.

Also, do as much as you can to understand what Government, Law, Rights and Liberty actually mean, and depend upon, and then spread that light you've gathered as widely as you can, and help to dissipate the ignorance around you.

My fellow Americans, it took us a minimum of 150 years to get to this sorry state, and there will be no quick answers, no magic legislation and no miracle candidates that will get us out of it. We have to reestablish what America Means, one idea, and one mind, at a time - and that means starting with YOU.

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