Monday, August 30, 2004

Political Piffle...

"It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress."
...Mark Twain

I'm not a political zealot. I've always thought of the American political machine as sort of a humongous but less efficient version of La Costa Nostra. Basically you had to be in the Family- that is, white, male, wealthy, properly educated and privy to the secret handshake. Once you were accepted into the fraternity you were pretty much outside the law. You dallied with political action groups whose sole purpose was to keep giving you money; you were eligible for more freebies than a pimp; you made largely uninformed decisions that frequently meant life or death for the less priviledged; you networked and traded favors with top corporate dons who guaranteed you high-paying jobs when you decided to leave the Family and go 'legit'.

If that sounds awfully cynical it's because I grew up in the 60's, 70's and 80's when that type of behavior was often brought to the attention of naive citizens via investigative news sources.

Little has changed to elevate the American perception of politicians above used car salesmen and guys on the corner selling 14 carat gold chains for ten bucks each.

One of the main differences today is that, where politicians were once cleverly conniving and daringly devious, they now appear to be a bit more stunningly stupid. A case in point is the silly back-and-forth between incumbent president George Bush and presidential wannabe John Kerry regarding their respective military service. It just amazes me that the news media (who quite possibly are deriving some kind of collective cheap thrill by instigating this nonsense) are pretending, with straight faces, that this is real news. This reminds me of a couple of petulant, not-too-bright boys in a heated argument over who performed the bravest deed.

Johnny: Well I walked all the way through that scary graveyard at night last year so I should be president of the club.

Georgie: Ha! I was the one who found that little girl who got lost in the park that time. Plus I heard it was still light out when you went through that graveyard and Billy and Terry were with you.

Johnny: That's not true! It was dark. And wasn't it your dad who found that little girl? You just happened to be in the car.

Georgie: Did not!

Johnny: Did too!

Oh yeah, these are just the kinds of issues that will help me make a clear, decisive choice of who should lead the most powerful nation in the world through some of the most turbulent times in it's history.

By the way, I think it was still daylight when Johnny went through the graveyard.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

No "Thank you"...

I don't watch much TV- Law & Order, Navy NCIS (in spite of it's titular redundancy), Jeopardy and sports are pretty much all I watch with any kind of regularity. Strangely, though, I like having either a TV or radio on any time I'm not reading. I guess I find some comfort in the steady drone of sound.

Anyhow, I have recently allowed myself to become greatly agitated by some of the most stupid, insipid, mindless, uninventive, asinine commercials ever to splatter the landscape of that visual wasteland.

I am thankful I no longer see those "And" commercials that ran for a while for some telephone company. Their use of the conjunctive to promote some peripheral services was lacking in imagination and humor. The absence of those qualities didn't deter others from emulating them, however. Another cell phone company followed with "In", where a father issued phones to his son and daughter, informing them that they were now "In", eliciting great bursts of excitement from the clearly deprived kids.

The latest one, also from a cell phone company if I remember correctly (I wonder if others forget the products these companies try to peddle as quickly as I? What, then, is the purpose of these 30- second annoyances?), centers around the phrase "Thank you". Among the stupidest of these spots is a woman in a supermarket profusely congratulating a stranger on her pregnancy. When the second woman, insulted, snaps that she's not pregnant and demands of the first woman why she assumed so, the first woman squirms for a moment, then says "Thank you". At that, the second woman squeals with pleasure and the two carry on like best friends. Now granted, I'm not the smartest guy in the classroom, but, c'mon!!! Someone actually paid an advertising agency big bucks for this???

I'd start looking for kick-backs.