Notes on Political Venality, Pomposity and Associated Stupidity.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Kidsploitation: Santorum's Son Wants Your Shekels!

Lost in the midst of Santorum Housegate was a recent article which pointed out just how much Rick is using his children to shill for him. It made me think; no wonder he and the wife were so upset about the faux prowling, without Elizabeth and Jonathan and the rest, who would front for the campaign?

I refer specifically to a piece that ran in the Patriot-News on Sunday, May 14th. In it, writer Brett Lieberman pointed out the following;

"An e-mail with the subject line "Surprise My Dad"-- purportedly from Jonathan and sent to thousands of supporters -- included a picture of the Santorum family and asked for $48 contributions for the senator's birthday."

Tell you what folks, in my book this is outrageous. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I don't think that Senator Santorum should be relying on his youngsters to help raise money for him in such a direct and clearly manipulative fashion. Let's face it, as much as Jonathan loves his dad and wants him to win, this is way over the line. And "Surprise My Dad?" Doesn't it go without saying that this had to be approved by the righteous Senator before it ever saw the light of day? Where's the surprise? To me the only surprise is that Rick's base didn't revolt against this specious bit of flotsam. Is raising money now a "family value?"

Mind you, I'm not surprised. Families have been "used" in campaign commercials right from the start. There is no going back. We'll see all manner of kids romping with their candidate parents this year, but to have your children come right out and ask for donations is just plain...well....creepy.

And as to whether this sort of campaign tactic rises to the level of kidsploitation, long-time Santorum friend and advisor John Brabender said this,

"There is a right place and time. Voters are smart enough to understand when it is appropriate and when it is exploitation," Brabender said. "Children should never be part of a negative attack."

Which means, I guess, that anything and everything is fair game when it comes to the kids, short of an all-out "swift boating." That Brabender and Santorum don't view this exploitation of Johnny and Elizabeth as wrong tells you something very important, and troubling, about the candidate and his enablers.

[You can read the entire Patriot-News article I quoted by going here.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

A friend sent this along. We think it captures the current state of Santorum-ness perfectly... You have our blessing to share it...liberally.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Santorum House Scam: Prestidigitation At Its Best

The thing with magic tricks is this; you are desperate to know how they are accomplished and you'd beg a magician to tell you the secret. But, should he or she break his code of honor and reveal the "trick," it is ultimately unfulfilling and somewhat sad. No Santa Claus. No Easter Bunny. If you fear that sort of dissapointment, read no further...

Okay. Here were go. These are things I do not know, but suspect. I repeat, I do not know any of this for a fact. It is merely conjecture. Got that NSA?

The entire "People are invading the privacy of Rick and putting his children in danger" was orchestrated not by a couple of well-meaning, angry taxpayers in Penn Hills, but by the Santorum campaign itself. Crazy? Not at all. Campaigns consultants are called spin doctors for a very good reason; they know how to take a fact or an idea or a thought and then twist it to serve their own purposes. So it is with the miniscule Cape Cod in Penn Hills. The Santorum campaign KNEW this issue wasn't going to go, in meetings and discussions, they tried to figure a way to spin it in their favor. They waited patiently for the Vecchios to speak up again, which they did, right on schedule.

When they did (and I continue to applaud them for their forthright, patriotic moves, particularly under what must be incredible pressure) the Santorum campaign machine kicked into gear. Karen made her famous CALL TO THE CAPITOL POLICE. This was done to make the story as high-profile as possible and to remind us that RICK IS A UNITED STATES SENATOR. I mean, if your house in the Outer Banks was being vandalized wouldn't you call the LAPD? But I digress...

Now Santorum's media hack, John Brabender, who, like a nasty 7-year old insists on called Bob Casey, "Bobby," claims that the Santorum's HAD recently been in the house! Bingo. I bet they have. I bet they have it on tape. I bet they have credit card receipts to prove it! Pictures of Rick holding a copy of that day's P-G showing the date!

Get it folks? It was a parlor trick. The trick accomplished one important thing for Santorum (at least in their minds) It let them pull the first negative commercial out of their hats, while hiding being the unassailable guise that "our children" were endangered.

It also accomplished this; it let this nothing issue predominate the news cycle for a couple of days, at the same time that a new report shows that RICK SANTORUM TOOK MORE CASH FROM LOBBYISTS THAN ANY OTHER SITTING SENATOR.

If I were Rick and Karen, I'd be much more concerned about late night knocks on the door from those lobbyists wanting their quid pro quo!

Friday, May 19, 2006

The PA Pay Raise Rout; Or Was It More Than That?

Legislators in Pennsylvania took it on the chin this past week, when more than a few incumbents found themselves back in that place we all live in; the private sector.

Conventional wisdom says most of their losses were due to a "middle of the night" salary increase these chumps voted themselves several months back; a manuveur that led to a massive public backlash and a "kick out the bums" anti-incumbency movement. Maybe so. It surely had a lot to do with it.

But I reckon more is happening here. I would suggest that the anti-incumbency bonfire was fueled as much by voter frustration with national politics as much as it was statewide dissatisfaction. Voters, unhappy with the downward spiral that defines the Bush administration as well as most of Congress just wanted to DO SOMETHING about it and they did. Maybe removing a few low-level bumbling state legisature doesn't accomplish much in terms of foreign policy, but, like kicking the dog, IT FEELS GOOD. And, for a lot of people, fed up with the sour state of Bush and his enablers, it momentarily gave them something to celebrate.

Of course, the next test comes in November, when a load of House and Senate members may face the same fate....and this time it won't be a proxy vote, it'll be the real thing!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

When Santorum's Consultant Talks, People Bristle

At least I do. I bristle at the unending logorrhea that emanates from the mouth and mind of John Brainbender. Here's his latest on Ricky Boy, as quoted in today's Philly Inquirer;

"We do have to surprise people about Rick Santorum," said his media consultant, John Brabender. "And people have to learn the truth about Bob Casey."

Brilliant stuff there. The surprise he refers to will be encapsulated in TV, radio and print ads which will position Santorum as everything he isn't.

- He'll be positioned as a friend to the poor despite his unrelenting support of Bush's moronic tax cuts which are doing nothing to power the economy, but everything to make the rich richer.

- He'll be positioned as a thoughtful legislator who has "touched you and people you know." Hogwash. Santorum's legislative record is defined by its paucity and by its focus on fringe issues which serve mostly to please the Senator's radical religious supporters.

- He'll be positioned as a friend to small business and the regular folks of PA. BS. This guy masquerades (and he isn't alone in this!) as a regular guy, while, at the same time, acting as a high-end power broker on K Street, currying favor with the multi-national corporations who are, in many way, driving our national policies.

- And he'll be positioned as a loving family man. Can't argue there. He has a family. And, I suppose he loves them all. Goody, goody. That and a buck-83 will get you a latte at Starbucks -- just like all the rest of the non-profit people who socialize there.

But let's get back to Brainbender for a moment. His "you'll learn the truth about Bob Casey," is a decent bit of wordsmithing, at least in the world of political consulting where, anyone can tell you, the standards aren't too high. It's essentially the AA farm team system of real creative people.. What Brainbender is trying to conjure is a sense that there is something horrible and scary and secret about Casey that will disgust and revolt you ONCE YOUR LEARN THE TRUTH. This is, of course, just a load. Bob Casey is as scary as Regis Philbin. Brabender is also relying on the tried-and-true trick of, "distraction." If you haven't got much to say about your guy, change the subject and make voters vaguely wary of the "unknown."

This is what we're going to see over the next few months. It'll be glossy and gossamer. Rick and his kids will romp endlessly. The Boy Senator with the wimpy handshake will preen and joke...and, at times, act REALLY SERIOUS AND SMART. But, in the end, Rick's whacked out years in the Senate, are coming to an end.


Getting On With Beating Santorum

Okay, all of you who were solidly behind Alan Sandals and Chuck Pennacchio can now rest easy. I'm sure you feel all warm and fuzzy for having "done the right thing." But it's over now, kids. Time for The Show. Time to leave the Ralph Nader-esque "statement" vote behind and get with the program. And that program is beating Rick Santorum so badly that he moves out of his country home in Leesburg and heads back to Penn Hills hovel to await The Rapture. Casey is our guy and there is NO OPTION.

In a recent Pittsburgh City Paper column, snarky writer John McIntire, who also hosts a talk show on KDKA radio, repeated his mantra that Casey is a wet noodle. Ya' know what? It doesn't matter and I don't care. Casey may not be the most fiery orator since Williams Jennings Bryan, but personally, I'm not looking for a firebrand. I'm looking for a legislator. Someone who has MY best interests at heart, particularly my secular interests in good government, fiscal disciple, intelligent foreign policy, human rights, and on and on. The last thing we need is a bloviator who speeks a good line but has no skills at actually doing the job we elect him to do. If you look closely at Santorum's legislative record over the years you will find a paucity of action. He'll stand on the dais when the photos are being taken, but he is not a legislator. He spends way too much time currying favor on K Street to be bothered with the wonkish business of crafting new laws.

So let's thank Chuck and Alan for adding to the debate. They are both fine guys, with good ideas. They are not, however, going to be on the ballot in November.

The game is afoot. Let's stomp Santorum!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Chiding the Bribe: Santorum's laughable payoff scheme

Some years ago, during the height of a political campaign it dawned on me: why not just take the millions that had gone into the production and airing of TV and radio commercials and the just hand it over to the voters? Imagine that, instead of getting a direct mail piece from Senator Gluck replete with scathing indictments of his competitor, that you'd get one of those money envelopes that Aunt Betty used to give you for your birthday! Inside would be a crisp-from-the-bank C-note and a not-too-subtle request that you payback Gluck by pulling his lever on Election Day.

This was, of course, a silly idea, for it amounted to nothing more than an outright bribe.

So imagine my surprise when Rick Santorum and a couple of his buds in Congress came up with the same idea this year! For the party of supposed "fiscal discipline" the idea should have been DOA, but when you're "in a tough re-election campaign" (Santorum's excuse for all misdeeds) the concept floated around DC for a couple of weeks, before being, ultimately, laughed out of town.

The idea is just too preposterous for words. Among other things, it would do nothing at all to ease the long-term issues with energy and it would rachet up the deficit for no good reason. Also, it's just stupid.

But for Rick, who wakes up every morning and worries about his flagging poll numbers, who has been a hard and fast Bush acolyte from the start, a bribe must have seemed like a swell idea. A $100 government-issued inducement to "vote for me in November."

In the end, the Santorum payoff did not payoff -- except, perhaps, for Bob Casey, Jr..

Monday, May 01, 2006

Immigrants: Get Used to being Used

So we had a big celebration. Immigration Day. May Day.

Lots of people got to tell us how coming into our nation illegally is "a good thing."

I don't get it. Call me an old-timer, but illegal is illegal. If you do some wrong, you pay the price -- you don't reap the rewards.

Do I "feel their pain?" Yup. NPR ran a series of feel-good pieces on immigrants (and let's face it, we're talking mostly about Mexican's here) who had their lives changed by charging across the desert into the US. and working hard to "make a life for themselves and their families." It was nice stuff. Very heartwarming and all that. Like I said, I do feel for them. I understand their plight...and, if I were in their position, I might do the same thing.

But that doesn't make it right or just. And whether entering the US is a felony or a misdemeanor doesn't make much of a difference. If you enter a sovereign nation illegally, you have every right to expect that they'll kick you ass out. The French would, the Swiss would. Even the Swedes would.

Of course, the missing element in this debate is the political. Clearly, the GOP has been an enabler of the dash across the border. Mexican immigrants, who would normally work for peanuts in their home state, are more than willing to worked for the even smaller pistachios they get in the US. And this pushes down the wages which native-born or naturalized Americans might be paid for the same work.

The bottom line is the bottom line; Mexican immigrants, simply because they are in the US illegally and fear deporation or retribution, will work for lower wages and will eschew the employee protections they would deserve and expect as full citizens of our nation. They are, for all intents and purposes, a slave labor underclass, which the bosses in the GOP have allowed to proliferate -- so that their companies could avoid paying union or (in most cases) even livable wages. And now they want to buy off their votes with amnesty. A neat trick.

This entire debate is about money, not about nationality or language or the color of one's skin.

As it almost always does in America, the botton line is...the bottom line.