27 August 2010

Not as Good as Lincoln-Douglas; And Other Things

Running for Senate

A newspaper ad has run over the past week in the Fairmont newspaper, the Times-West Virginian. It’s a political ad by one of the minor Republican candidates for the open Senate seat, KBlockquoteenneth Culp, a CPA. (The subject of whether we should be having such a special election may be for another day.) This fellow has virtually no chance of winning. One advantage that kind of uphill fight is that the candidate can pretty much say anything they want and anything they believe, hope that their message “goes viral,” and they pull off a miracle. They don’t have to worry much about killing sacred cows or offending people. Sometimes, once in a blue moon, really, this tactic works. (The national example that comes to mind is Jesse Ventura as governor of Minnesota.)

Mr. Culp’s ad was OK by my standards. Here are some excerpts:

“I remember what it was like to work my way through college because my parents were poor. I know what it’s like to have to go to work every day to feed my family . . . to buy food, clothes, gasoline and make a mortgage payment . . . to have to buy used cars because I can’t afford a new one. . . . I remember what it was like to work 70 to 80 hours per week, 52 weeks a year to build a successful business. * * * I am the only candidate who has a comprehensive plan for getting our economy back on its feet. Once we have stopped Obama’s radical, socialist agenda we need to get back to a fairer income tax system that rewards success, not punishes it. * * * Don’t be fooled by all the slick ads running on TV. It’s going to take an outsider to fix these problems.” [Not that my grammar is great, but I didn't fix any of his, either.]

Oh, by OK, I do not mean that I agree with Culp’s politics or positions, just that he is stating them, which is unheard of. Mind you, this isn’t Lincoln-Douglas debate material, where the candidates spoke for 3 hours at a time, but it’s lots more than “Vote for Smith, the People’s Choice!”

Unfortunately for candidate Culp, the ad is terribly ineffective. (I also think some of it is a little zany and patently absurd, but those are political opinions rather than opinions about politics.) Candidate Culp mentioned his real opponents by name - a TERRIBLE idea. Culp acknowledges the good points of the two most prominent candidates in his race – so essentially he bought them a little bit of advertising space. “John Raese is a fine gentleman.” [Even some Republicans disagree with that one. John Raese is rich, handsome and wields power indiscriminately with an ax.] “I especially respect Mac [Warner] because of his 24 years of military service." Warner has a conservative/golden boy/military image which most politicians would sell their mothers into slavery for. His ideas are those of a dogmatic conservative “true believer,” which is always somewhat chilling. And finally, Culp fills about 12 column inches with 6 or 7 point type explaining at length his positions and beliefs. In a responsible nation with a responsible electorate, those lengthy explanations are precisely what responsible candidates need to be doing. Is it any surprise that this is so ineffective in America? Other than generally oppose Barrack Obama, I have no clue what any other Republican candidate plans to do.

Oh, the Democratic primary will be a runaway by Governor Manchin. His chief opposition is from Ken Hechler, a former history professor, Congressman and Secretary of State who is pleasant, pleasantly quirkly (drives around in a red Jeep) and 95 years old. To make a statement, Governor Manchin really needs to pull about 80% of the vote.

Addendum, Sunday, 29 August 2010:
1 - Governor Manchin took 70% of the vote, which is a touch worrisome.
2 - John Raese polled 71% in a 10 person field, but only one other strong candidate was running. Considering the money he dumped into ads, that's not a total shock.
3 - A press account this morning of "person on the street" opinion states: "Raese’s TV ads were enough to convince **********, a 69 year-old from Morgantown, to vote for him. Though he’s a millionaire businessman, he appears on camera in jeans and a denim shirt, his sleeves rolled up, talking about the jobs he’s created." He appears on camera. Can you believe it? This individual expressly voted because of how he appears on camera. St. Patrick with Rattlesnakes, welcome to the New America, Land of the Superficial Appearances.

But a Bigger Problem . . .

I reminded LaJ in the car tonight that “Tomorrow is the election.” Her reply: “What election?” In this season of haphazard and ad hoc decision making (which isn’t over - most likely, there will be the Governor’s chair to fill), it is hardly surprising that lots of intelligent people who do not have politics in their blood are wondering just what the hell is going on. Of course, this inures to the rich and well known.

Mi Casa Ain’t Su Restaurante

At least in the Mid-Atlantic area, Mexican restaurants seem to be named with random Spanish words which have been picked, probably, because Americans in this region know that they are Spanish words. Two Mexican restaurants in the Fairmont area (both excellent, by the way) are La Casa & Mi Pueblo - but I doubt that locals would name a restaurant “The House” or “My Village/Town.”

Note to Fairmonters: No Wings Olé is not a Mexican Restaurant. The closest it gets is that some crockery was probably made in Mexico before the wholesaler outsourced manufacturing to China.

General note on regional cuisine: I have a client, a very pleasant Hispanic gentleman from Arizona. He’s an American born & bred, but has relatives on both sides of the border and is fluent in both languages. While he longs for home, he has been seriously enamored of the cookery at the Bob Evans Restaurants, an Eastern chain that is a pure Midwestern country theme, the sort of place that serves breakfast all around the clock. (He also has a killer recipe for sopapillas.)

Time Magazine:

The current cover of Time shows a star & crescent in a stars & stripes theme with the legend “Is America Islamophobic?”
If you take the “phobic” part to mean general dislike, the answer is yes, and that’s OK with me.

Pippa passes.



Rosary said...

Roger wrote: "The current cover of Time shows a star & crescent in a stars & stripes theme with the legend “Is America Islamophobic?”
If you take the “phobic” part to mean general dislike, the answer is yes, and that’s OK with me."

That's not what phobic means though--it means fear, and neither interpretation is okay with me because they both come out of a place of ignorance (and some deliberate media manipulation!)

On the media manipulation side is the fact that for the last 30 years the Islam is almost always linked to some terrorist activity or group. From the attack on the Beirut army under Reagan to the current Middle east situation, we hear Islam used interchangeably with Al-Qaida or some other such organization. This ignores two things: 1) the fact that there are Christian terrorists groups--the IRA comes to mind and 2) that the largest number of Muslims are moderate. It's not a wonder than we "dislike" Islam when all we are shown about it is the extremist side. If all one knew of Christians were the extremists, would anyone like Christians? I imagine not.

I've had a number of Muslim students (including one lovely young woman this semester), and I have never felt any hostility or anger or disrespect from any of them. I wish I could say that for my Christian students. I've never had a Muslim come up to me and try to convert me to Islam, but I have had Christians come up and try to convert me to their particular brand of Christianity.

If Americans have a general dislike of Islam and its practitioners, then perhaps we should become educated about Islam, because it is ignorance that leads to fear and dislike.

Roger D. Curry said...

Rosary, thank you. When I wrote the paragraph, I tried to insert qualifications six ways from Sunday, but it just didn't work. It seems that the breadth and depth of Islamic violence considerably exceeds other religious violence OF RECENT VINTAGE by a darn sight. This is one of the key dividing themes in the world, and I look forward to give & take on it.

sheila222 said...

I agree with the media manipulation point (so what else is new? I think possibly this frenzy about the GOP gaining seats in Congress at midterm may well be an attempt/manipulation to get out the Democratic vote,, who me? suspicious?- just trying to look at all angles and machinations). I also think if your group is experiencing a PR nightmare, then you have some responsibility in reversing that trend. I would say this about having anything Islamic near Ground Zero-- what are you thinking? Certainly you can rightfully establish any sort of multipurpose building there you want,, but again,, if you are having a PR problem,, is this the best way to change public opinion that you can think of? Let's assume a similar/but reversed situation existed in an Islamic country and Christians wanted to establish a church ON or NEAR the site of a similar atrocity (presuming they had this right, which at least in Saudi Arabia, they wouldn't). Upon hearing of this plan there was great public outcry in that country. You cannot convince me that we all wouldn't be saying,, what are you folks thinking? We'd probably be saying,, what a bunch of dumbasses, frankly. I personally am not happy with the anti-Islamic frenzy and stabbing/assaulting a poor working stiff is indefensible. Again, if I were Muslim, I would be out there volunteering in my local schools, getting engaged in community projects and trying to change actively, not passively, how people think about "me". Buy your own self some air time. I want to hear just how moderate you are,, over and over and over. Let your imams broadcast their teachings so we can all hear exactly what it is you are saying.

Rosary said...

I actually have no problem with the Islamic Cultural Center being built near "ground zero." (A Cultural center includes the mosque, but is actually much more) .The victims of that atrocity were the victims of TERRORISTS who hated the United States--they happened to be Islamic, but they were terrorists first and foremost, and that needs to be remembered. (And that some of the victims on the ground were also Muslims goes forgotten quite often.)

I imagine the idea for putting the center is such a place has to do with reminding the Muslim community of how their faith can be co-opted and perverted, and will stand as a reminder and an advocate to prevent such a thing from happening again. Which quite frankly is a better use of the space than another freaking tribute to capitalism and the colonial mindset that had been planned.

Rosary said...

OH, and Sheila, I imagine many of the moderate Imans would like to be more public in their teachings, but do you think any of our media outlets would sell time to them?

sheila222 said...

Rosa, oh yes. They can buy airtime if they want. Why do I think this? Well, we get Louis Farrahkan on one of the channels here and he is both BLACK and says ALLAH Be Praised,,the double whammy,, so if they want to, my belief is they can be heard. They are not being further victimized by having airtime closed down to them.

I don't care where they put the community center either. My point is that you can win this battle and lose the PR war. They actually have much more to lose I feel than the folks who oppose them. If they back down and put the center elsewhere, they can be seen as sensitive and empathetic, and maybe that can change a few folks' minds concerning their faith.

If they persist, I am worried that they will lose the PR war and the rhetoric will keep ratcheting up higher. There needs to be a point of accommodation so both sides feel satisfied and neither victimized.

I am not willing to call anyone's belief system as coming from a place of ignorance. I can't know the reasons why anyone believes the way they do- what validates how they think. I may not agree with them, and that's OK. (For example,, I have a wonderful gay pig friend who thinks AIDs is made up,, and this fellow is a nurse,,, yes,, pretty scary I think. However, I won't call him ignorant,, he has just listened to the wrong folks imo. I can try to gently offer a different opinion, but hard lining anything rarely wins. PS- my dictionary.com lists hatred as a synonym for phobia which pretty much goes along with Roger's term dislike. As always, I appreciate your POV and mainly enjoy a good discussion.)

sheila222 said...

Well, that was three comments, one rewritten after the other trying to think what I had said because the message I got was that they couldn't be processed and my request hadn't gone thru.. so take your pick, they are all essentially the same. My message would disappear and I was left trying to reconstruct the points I wanted to make. Obviously they went into Roger's mail box.

Rosary said...

I'm not sure Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam qualify as real Muslims, since their religion is an "adaption" of Muslim thought. This is, of course, one of the things that Muslims probably need to address. (I think the relationship between the two is like the relationship between say David Koresh's church and the Seventh Day Adventists from which he broke--but I qualify that I am not sure on the origins of the Nation of Islam.)

There's certainly such a thing as willful ignorance--the deliberate choice of listening to the wrong people, so as not to deal with certain issues. (For example, the governor of Louisiana's refusal to listen to all the scientists who told him that building berms to keep oil out of the marsh was a bad idea that would ultimately do more harm than good.)